Gwendolyn’s 3rd Birthday: Disneyland!

Where do we even begin… Disneyland was an absolutely amazing experience for Gwendolyn (and us, too)!!! To see the imaginative world through the eyes of your child is incredible…for any parent…and for us, well, it was everything — surreal!!!

There isn't really a ONE thing that stands out as the best — it was more the cumulative experience of it all. Gwendolyn's eyes were as big as saucers constantly and her little fingers were busy tap-tap-tapping away excitedly taking in all the amazing Disney details. And she kept looking at Bill and me with a look that said, “This is amazing and I feel so special!” And that was all we needed!!!

It's funny because most adults immediately ask, “What rides did you go on?” And while we did go on a few rides — and Gwendolyn LOVED them — she equally LOVED wandering through this imaginative world, meeting REAL LIFE princesses (and she absolutely thinks everything is real), and just taking it all in. After all, it's not every day that you get to see a castle, hear music around every corner, see movie characters walking around, and meet REAL LIFE princesses (okay maybe that was a favorite!).

It was also extra special for us to get to experience all of this with our family (Gramma, GrandPa, Aunt Kristen and Uncle Richard) and with the wonderful Calafiore family. The Calafiores, Chris and Jennifer, are incredible parents. And, like us, are completely devoted to their daughter, Hayden, which made the trip so, so special because we were all so singularly focused on making sure our girls experienced the magic of Disneyland. And they most certainly did!

Day One: We got a bit of a late start and hit a lot of traffic, but arrived just as sweet Hayden was waking up from her nap! Gwendolyn and Hayden have a special bond. They both love horses and have special horse friends they visit. They both love princesses and fairies. They both love singing. And they both have SMA. We told Gwendolyn we were going to Disneyland ahead of time — she likes to process things. Although she was a bit unsure about all the talk of castles and princesses — she'd look at us with an expression that said, “Are you joking?” — she trusted us that this Disneyland place was something good. We told Gwendolyn about Gramma and GrandPa and Aunt Kristen and Uncle Richard joining us and that got her really excited. But we kept Hayden a secret. She's been asking for play dates with Hayden, so she was super excited when we arrived and told her Hayden was at Disneyland, too!!! That night everyone chatted excitedly and the girls held hands and in the other held their matching Little Mermaid dolls (matching would be a theme of the trip — and it wasn't always intentional — they're just connected like that smile We also went to Toontown and got to meet Mickey Mouse in his house. And as we walked back to the hotel, Gwendolyn got to see the castle for the first time (remember she was awake this time) and, as luck would have it, she also got to meet the Fairy God Mother and Snow White — by the wishing well of course! Later that day we had a special birthday dinner at the Rainforest Cafe with our family and the Calafiores. The girls were definitely in stimulation overload at this point with all the simulated rain and animal sounds — but they loved it! Then that night we all came back to the hotel, opened presents, blew out candles, and just spent time together before the little princesses started getting sleepy. What. A. Day.

Day Three — HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!: Gwendolyn woke up singing! She was so happy and knew it was her birthday. She beamed as we sang to her that morning and loved every minute of opening her pressies from us. And she wanted to wear a special outfit for her special day. (A special purple fairy wing top and tutu skirt that Hayden's grandmother made. And, of course, she matched Hayden!) It started raining that morning, but we had reservations for a special breakfast with Ariel — and, well, you don't stand up Ariel! And nothing was going to stop us from giving Gwendolyn that experience on her birthday! Chris found us plastic ponchos, we covered up the breathing machines, etc., and we marched over to Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure. We told Gwendolyn and Hayden we were going to Ariel's house for breakfast. And since we had met Snow White the day before, Gwendolyn was starting to believe us smile

Day Four: Gwendolyn woke up smiling again and so excited for the day. And today was princess day. She couldn't wait to put her pretty Belle dress on. We watched Beauty and the Beast while we did her treatment and she just got all the more excited. When we got her all ready she simply beamed with pride. She was a regular peacock, happily posing for photos, and loved dancing with Daddy! When we saw Hayden all dressed up, well, Gwendolyn just about burst! She was so excited to be so fancy with her special friend. And she was ready to hit Disney! She thought it was an extra adventure that we took the monorail that day. We headed to meet princesses at Princess Fantasy Faire — a very special place that can't be missed by any princess expert smile

I give it to Disney, they run an amazing operation! Everyone went above and beyond for us and made this a very special 3rd birthday celebration. 36 months = 3 years — I can't believe my baby is 3!!!