On Wednesday, our daughter Rowan would have been three years old. I had been thinking of having a bug party all summer, to release ladybugs, make worm bins, and have buggy crafts for the kids. I finally realized that Rowan's birthday would be the perfect day, as butterflies, dragonflies, and ladybugs always remind me of her, and I knew I would need something fun to do.
Ten of my mom friends and 20 kids spent the morning playing in our yard, chatting, and enjoying the yummy snacks everyone brought and cool beverages (blended mochas for the moms). About halfway through the morning, someone noticed the dragonflies hovering over our yard. Everyone got quiet for little while to watch more than a dozen dragonflies dart around our yard. In the months after we lost Rowan, Griffin and I began noticing the dragonflies who often come to visit. Then three year old Griffin really liked the idea that his angel baby sister could turn into a dragonfly whenever she wanted to come a visit us, and still talks about it. Everyone who sees them says they have never seen so many in one place.
I had picked up all sorts of bug themed crafts from the clearance bins of the local craft stores, and butterfly nets from the $Tree. The kids enjoyed coloring bug cutouts and velvet bug bookmarks, decorated foam frames with lady bug stickers, and put tissue paper squares on sticky butterflies. I thought I had too many different crafts, but Griffin finished most of them and asked me what craft I had next for him. After some of the younger kids went home I pulled out the dragonflies and other beads I had left from making bookmarks for thank you gifts, and helped the older kids make stretchy bracelets.
When I could not find ladybugs at home depot, and the other garden stores I checked were sold out, I had given up hope for releasing ladybugs, convinced it was too late in the season. But my friend Lianne saved the day, and brought me two bags of 1500 ladybugs from The Backyard Birdshop. I climbed up on our monster truck tire, gathered the kids around with their butterfly nets, and talked to them about ladybugs and why we like to have them in our garden. Then I shook about 2000 tiny ladybugs out into their nets and onto the ground. The kids LOVED it and spent the next 20 minutes with bugs crawling all over them as they adjusted to freedom and flew all over our yard.
Most of our friends went home for afternoon naps, but my good friend (and midwife who helped deliver both Rowan and Willow) spent the whole day with us, along with her kids. Her daughter is only two months younger than Willow. After Willow woke from her nap, my Dad and MIL joined us all for our annual hike to the spot where we released Rowan's ashes, and up to the top of Beacon Rock. Spending the day surrounded by supportive friends and family was a wonderful way to honor and remember Rowan.