March 11, 2008 was the day I first met Ethan and Ethan first met the world. He was born at Athens Regional Hospital 3 weeks before my due date and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. I never knew how much love I would have for this kid or the intensity of emotions that he would bring into my life. And this past weekend we celebrated his 4th birthday by having a little bug party at Memorial Park. He had told me months ago that he would like a bug party, and that he wanted to dress up as a spider. This is how I know he is my child... he loves to dress up! So Ethan had in his mind that he would be a spider and other kids could come dressed up like bugs, too. The bug party included spider oreos and a spider cake (that my mom made- she wondered whether it looked more like a crab and her thoughts were confirmed when Ethan said, "hey! that's not a spider but a crab!"). He did tell her that it smelled really good, though. Each kid got a magnifying glass and got little bugs to mush around in a bag of bug juice (a project idea I got from pinterest). The bug juice was just hair gel mixed with food coloring in a plastic bag. We had a spider web the kids had to crawl through and some other little bug capsules that were supposed to grow when you put them in water but didn't actually work because I didn't realize the water needed to be hot. One of my favorite parts of the party was when the kids all went exploring in the green field next to the pavilion. They took their magnifying glass and went bug hunting, and then just ran around like wild animals. It was so precious to see and such a beautiful picture of childhood. Ethan had so much fun and wanted to know if we could have another party the next day. When we got home that evening he took out all his presents and looked at them, and then walked over to me and hugged me. He said quietly, "I love you, mommy." I could have melted. I laid in my bed that night with a really peaceful feeling. I've had this specific feeling at least 2 other times I can remember: after a wedding shower and a baby shower. I remember feeling really loved and a strange sense that at that moment, all was right in my little world. I've had a lot of not so great feelings as a mom, including feeling like I'm going crazy when Ethan hit me with a sword while I was peacefully eating my dinner or driving cars over my face at 7am while I'm dreaming of sleeping in. But this was one of those days I'll always remember as a time when I could tell that this little family of mine was building memories that we would all cherish. I was really tired that night (actually that day by 3pm!!!), but it was the kind of tired of a day well spent, a good tired. I have sloth tired days (you know, days where you never feel like you actually woke up even after 2-3 cups of coffee...) but this was a 'use your energy for the joy of others' tired kind of day. I am so thankful that Ethan came into our world 4 years ago and am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate his life with costumes, sugar, and magnifying glasses. I'm learning more and more how true it is that children are a blessing from the Lord. Ethan's newest cousin baby Charlie came to celebrate, too... we love this little guy!