God was so kind to give us such vibrant senses. A smell or notes from a song can bring emotion and memory that no amount of words could ever describe. Attics do this for me.
Our coat closet at home contains the door to our attic. When that dry attic smell drifts down as the weather warms up I am instantly transported to a place of wonder. My grandma used to take us on adventures in her attic. She would pull the clothes back in her closet and then open the door. It was like the wardrobe in Narnia. Crossing the threshold where closet meets wonder was thrilling. As we crawled over the carpet squares, she would show us her treasures and collections from years past. Each treasure has a story and my grandma was a fantastic story teller. Attics both make me feel close to this woman I dearly love and miss her terribly.
This week my kids got to experience the wonder of an attic, the Brent's Place attic. The kids, even little 4 year old Zinnia, pulled wagons full of toys through the maze of the kitchen, storage room, garage and into a lift. Once the doors on the lift were closed they got to push the button that would carry those wagons, full of toys, up to the attic. They raced up the stairs to be at the top when the lift arrived and they unloaded their precious cargo. They then helped unload the wagons and sort the toys to be stored for future use at Brent's Place. They journeyed back through the maze to refill their wagons at least 5 times.
These toys, books and crafts are what is left from the generous boutique hosted on by Brent's Place just before Christmas. This boutique was yet another incredible act of generosity by this amazing organization. First, the parents were invited to shop for each of their children. We were given IKEA bags and told to fill them up. Have you ever seen an IKEA bag? They are enormous!
After we filled those IKEA bags, we dropped them off to a team of gift wrappers. While the parents were shopping, the kids were making ginger bread houses, ornaments, and decorated stockings and hats. At the end of their craft time after parents finished choosing things for their own children, the kids were invited to shop for each other.
|Gingerbread Houses. Rourke looks so serious! |
Lydia was able to attend but had to wear a mask since she had thrown up the night before.
|Zinnia was thrilled to make a snowflake ornament.|
For the last several weeks our kids have been gathering and wrapping up their own toys and placing them under the Christmas tree as gifts for each other. They were THRILLED to get to choose a gift for each other. Esther didn't miss out on the fun. Earlier in the day I was able to attend the Snow Pile at Children's Hospital. The snow pile is a conference room full of toys, books, puzzles, games, and other treasures. I was given a ticket to choose some toys for Esther and then a book, puzzle, game and stuffed animal for each of the other children. The gifts I choose that day were from Esther. On Christmas Eve the kids exchanged their gifts for each other using FaceTime. It was so sweet because they were genuinely more excited to see how each other liked the gift they gave than what they revived themselves.
|Opening up their gifts from Esther.|
Following this shopping time at the boutique there was a wonderful dinner for all the families at Brent's Place. It included carolers and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. We've never taken them to see Santa, so this was a first, they had a blast!
|Lydia hopped right up on Santa's lap.|
|Frannie was hesitant, but warmed up after watching her sisters and brother survive. Getting a gift from Santa's bag when they were finished was a good motivator too!|
|Frannie asked for a gift for Esther too.|
|These carolers were GREAT! Wonderful singers and funny too.|
In many ways, this was a difficult Christmas, but in other ways it was completely unforgettable. I don't think our kids will ever have such an abundance of gifts. They have endured so much, honestly, it was fun to just see them spoiled. They loved being at my parent's house, they were more excited to see them and be with their cousins than to open gifts, although, they were pretty excited for open gifts Christmas morning.
What I was most blessed by, though, was the attic. The kids never once asked for one of the toys. They were excited to help, to run the lift, to walk through the maze. Rourke told me after they were finished that when he grows up he wants to work at Brent's Place. I would be pleased if he did. I hope this adventure in the Brent's Place attic is as impactful as my adventures through the closet door with my grandma.
Esther is doing okay, getting a little better. She has been spiking a fever at least once a day, this has required a new antibiotic. Today she had another platelet transfusion after several hours of nose bleeds this afternoon.
My mom and sister came down to care for the kiddos while Anthony and I got an anniversary date. He is so sweet to me, but pretty amazing himself. I even used a not so nice word and loud tone talking to (at) him tonight and he still forgave me and we enjoyed each other. We'll have the romantic anniversary date next year. Tonight was nice and I am thankful for a husband who reads to his kids, is a refuge for me, and helps care for his little daughter in the hospital.