Summer Lovin’ & Having A BlastJuly 09, 2012 by Victoria
Oh what a summer! Since the moment school let out, we have been on the go either hosting friends visiting, spending time with Santa Barbara friends, or going on trips ourselves. Our social butterfly is absolutely loving all the company and relishing in new experiences. And so are we. Each of these deserves its own blog post as I could go on and on about them, but before too much more time passes I wanted to write down some of the highlights of each of these fun experiences. Prepare for photos...lots and lots of photos.
Lauren (Qualifies for Boston Marathon)
Our friend Lauren visited from NYC to push herself in the Ojai to Ventura Marathon in the hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. It was an awesome weekend, Gwendolyn was so excited to cheer Lauren on, and we had the very cool experience of witnessing her officially BQ. Now two Team GSF runners (Lauren Lundy and William "Billy" Crader) are heading to the esteemed Boston race! We are so proud of them and completely humbled they have turned their amazing achievements into opportunities for SMA. Lauren wrote a play-by-play blog post about her experience here.
Ojai Valley Inn
We headed to the famous Ojai Valley Inn to celebrate our anniversary. Ojai is only about 45 minutes away but the climate is completely different (much warmer) and with the June Gloom we were thrilled to have some heat. We spent most of our time at the pool and Gwendolyn could not have been happier lounging in the cabana, listening to birds, and going in and out of the water. One funny highlight was Gwendolyn demanded a "fancy drink" -- how a non-verbal child who does not drink by mouth determined this is a "must," I'm still not sure but she was P.R.O.U.D. with her fancy Shirley Temple! This is a definite must-do-again trip.
Nick & Aubrey (and Rufus, the best dog on the planet)
We love when Nick and Aubrey visit us from the East Coast. We could be doing anything and always have fun and lots of laughs together. Gwendolyn loves both of them... and she adores their sweet Yorkie, Rufus. He is seriously the most incredible dog -- sits at Gwendolyn's feet while we go on a walk, snuggles on her lap while at a restaurant, or cuddles up in her arms once we are home. We spent one of their days with us wine tasting at our favorite Los Olivos winery, Demetria, and Rufus and Gwendolyn had their own love-fest going on. No, we are not getting a dog, but we plan to have lots of visits with them
Girls Wine Tasting
My little "Mommy Happy Hour" group is getting smaller with Laurie moving to Europe soon, so we planned a wine tasting get-a-way for just us ladies. We had an awesome day visiting off the beaten path destinations and learning some new things about our beautiful Santa Barbara Wine Trail. At one winery we walked the vines and learned about the farming, we helped put labels on the bottles, and we tasted wine directly out of the barrel in the various stages of maturity. Very cool. Marina (aka the talented Yummy Mummy) wrote a beautiful post about it here. Later we met up with all the dads and our babes for a pizza party and Gwendolyn loved being in the middle of the fun. This weekly Mommy Happy Hour/Play Group has been so important to our family. Not only have all of these families been supportive good friends, having a weekly get together was the stepping stone for independence. This meet up was the reason I drove Gwendolyn by myself for the first time. They were the first children we "exposed" Gwendolyn to after her SMA diagnosis -- and nothing but good happened! And through this regular experience our Miss Social Butterfly showed us the life she wants to live is a life surrounded by her peers and we gained the confidence to give that to her. I can never thank these families enough for helping us spread our wings completely.
Gwendolyn and Hayden are just too darn cute! From the moment we arrived at their house, both girls were in major BFF mode. Dress exactly alike, hold hands, be side-by-side, super concerned about one another. It is so sweet! They have such a special bond and watching them communicate in their own special way is truly amazing. Chris and Jennifer are fabulous hosts and planned all sorts of fun things while we were there. On one day we got to go to a private 3-D movie at the big movie theater. And on another day, Chef Wendy came over to make dinner for us while the girls enthusiastically played with Hayden's Barbie kitchen. And it was deee-lish! We had lots of tea parties in Hayden's ladybug tent, tried out Hayden's Escalade car (which Chris switch adapted), fed the horses that live across the street, swung on the swings, and talked the day away. There are always lots of tears when we part and we can't wait for the next get together.
Stephen and Team Owen
It was a quick trip, but we were so thrilled to finally meet Stephen Taylor in person. Stephen is one of the organizers behind the massive Team Owen presence in the New Bedford Half Marathon in Massachusetts and he's a really great guy. Team Owen was in the Western States Endurance Run for the third year in a row. That is 100 miles of running through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in one day! (Stephen ran the last two years and Ken Rogers ran this year. And both paced each other in their respective races which means they also ran around 50 miles when they weren't "officially" in the race). It is absolutely awe-inspiring to talk to these guys. Even though they brush it off like it is no big deal, what they put their bodies through is remarkable to say the least and their support of the SMA cause in the process just makes them stand out people!
We celebrated Bill's birthday by going out for a sail on the Double Dolphin catamaran with his sister, brother-in-law, and mom. We've actually taken Gwendolyn sailing twice before, but she has completely outgrown her little nook on that little boat so we upgraded to the much bigger 50' catamaran -- and it was awesome! The wind in our hair, an incredible sunny day, looking for dolphins and seals, and seeing everyone so happy made this an extra special kind of day. Gwendolyn absolutely loved it and asked to go again and again and again, which we definitely plan to do. We finished the celebration with a sunset dinner on the harbor overlooking the boats.
For the 4th of July we headed to Las Vegas to stay with our friends, Heather and Wade, and their daughters, Reagan and Kendall. Reagan is simply awesome with Gwendolyn and plays so well with her. We did lots and lots and lots of swimming. A bit of gambling. Some shopping. And tons of playing. We also got to spend time with our other friends, Mark, Jill, Rob and Stephanie and their children. We went to a party on the fourth and it was so cute to see Gwendolyn immediately be so social and eager to play with children she didn't know. At one point, Reagan was jumping on the trampoline with some big kids (Gwendolyn was content to watch this time) when out of the blue she said, "That's my best friend, Gwendolyn. Yeah, she's like from California." Gwendolyn's beamed and tapped and we thought it was darling! Gwendolyn, Reagan, and Natalia wanted to run all over the house until finally tiring out. Later, the girls held hands, watched the daddies light fireworks, watched the giant ones from the casinos up in the sky, and they even got to hold their own sparklers.
We have more fun things planned for the remainder of the summer but I'm feeling like the summer days are just slipping away. Before we know it our little girl is going to be a big time kindergartner!!!