One of the perks to having the kids that I do, to having the kid spacing that I do, is that they’re all at very different life stages.   It’s been like that from the beginning, Jessie was three and a half when Sam was born, and Samilicious Boy was three months away from his fourth birthday when he became a big brother.

Today, we spent the day out and about.  It wasn’t a great day, honestly.  I started out with a trip to the mall, which is never a fun way to start out the day.   I have a craptastic sense of direction and got mildly lost finding the Auburn Mall (a mall that’s actually just a few miles away from me, but I don’t go there often enough to remember exactly where it is and always get just a little lost when I try to find it).  After forty five minutes of shopping (first I went to the wrong Macy’s – because of course, there are two in this mall) and then not being able to find the registry thing, and then not being able to find ANYTHING on the registry for Marc’s cousin’s shower gift), I finally staggered out with a gift.  Made it home in time to shove a little lunch into the kids and pack everyone up for a trip to Purgatory Chasm.

Purgatory is a state park (reservation?) not far from here.  And it’s Sam’s favorite destination.  We were half-heartedly celebrating his 8th birthday for the third time (it’s a long story), and were going to have birthday cake, play on the playground and potentially climb the chasm.  Julianna was rocking a couple of pretty significant bug bites, and I ended up leaving the party early and rushing her into urgent care when we realized that they were actually starting to get hot.

Turns out the bug bites were fine (watch for infection, keep an eye on them, blah, blah, blah) and I ended up back at the house, with my cousin Becky and her daughter Abby-with-a-bow.  Marc dropped the other two off and went into work.  We made chicken for dinner, and the kids all ate with varying degrees of enthusiasm.  Abby collapsed into tears – you could tell it was close to bedtime) and after they left, I put the girls into the bathtub.  I don’t bathe the kids together as a rule.  Jessie is a shower girl, obviously and so not into amusing her sister in the tub, and Julie’s old enough so that it’s not really appropriate to shove Sam in there with her either.  But tonight, Jessie was feeling magnanimous and liking her sister and offered to take a bath with her so she wouldn’t be alone.  The bath lasted longer than I would have suspected but both girls ended up furious at the other one – and I had to wash Julie’s yard of hair (seriously – that kid has super long hair) and whisk her out of the tub before they killed each other.

Poor Jessie got out of the tub, and was just a hot mess.  She’s riddled with bug bites too, and was yawning and crying.  I hugged her and wrapped her in towels, got her jammies and combed out her hair.  Brought her into bed, and tucked her in with motrin and benedryl.  She was asleep within minutes.

Sam had come home from his party with two new lego boxes, and I’ve had little to no interaction with him since.  He ate, and got into jammies, brushed his teeth.  I helped him twice when he got stuck, but he’s been in his room, happily putting them together for the past three hours.  He’s still in there, quiet and happy, almost finished.

Julianna got out of the tub, I drew new circles around her bug bites (to make sure they don’t grow overnight again) and gave her benedryl too.  I put her in super cute jammies, got her a snack and read her three stories.   Then I tucked her into bed, and snuggled beside her until she drifted off.

Even though it wasn’t a great day, and the night ended with more tears than I would have liked, I love nights like this.  When I have time, for each kid.  When their needs all sort of dovetail the others’, and I’m able to focus on each one individually.  When Jessie was crying and sad, I was able to take care of her completely because Sam was lego-ing it up and Julie was chilling out watching something on PBSKids.  I was able to read to Julie without stopping because Jessie was sleeping already and Sam was still lost in lego-land.  And then when both girls were sound asleep, I was able to sit with my little boy while he explained what he’d done, and showed me how intricate and challenging the lego things were.

So maybe it wasn’t a crappy day.  Maybe it was kind of an awesome day – except for the mall part.  I really didn’t like the mall part.

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