In July Eric turned 3
And the weekend before his birthday we had a Wild Things birthday party
We had pictures of trees on the walls, green streamers, jungle sounds on the iPod dock, jugs of twigs, a tarpaulin with a bag of compost and lots of spades for digging up the hidden 'pirate gold', a tent, a den made of chairs and blankets, a messy play table with gloop, paint, (vegan) jelly etc., a 'bugs on a pile of mud' birthday cake, inflatable monkeys, a chillout/reading corner with heaps of cushions, blankets and nature-related books, fabric leaves everywhere and found natural object centrepieces on the tables and the kiddos who wanted to wore 'wild' fancy dress, including a squirrel, a monkey and a fish! Very inventive! Eric dressed as Max from Where the Wild Things Are for some of the time, then turned up half way through the party half naked! We had a brilliant (if hectic) time.
He loved his party but unfortunately, that night he got sick. I was paranoid I had poisoned all of Eric's party guests with the food but it was only Eric that got ill, and it lasted for 14 days! He kept getting slightly better after a few days but then getting worse again, and in that time I also caught the stomach bug. It was hideous! I wrote a blog post about it here.
On the day of his birthday we decorated the lounge with balloons, bunting and streamers and created a 'present fort', so he was super excited in the morning when we came downstairs. We had pancakes for brekkie, then spent the day opening presents and playing with new things. Unfortunately he was still poorly on the day so got a bit upset in the afternoon, but didn't want to nap or take any oral rehydration medicine so things got a bit fractious! We all cheered up for tea time though and he had his favourite dinner in the garden as a picnic. He was a bit sad when his birthday was over, and kept asking when it would be his 'big party', so next time we're definitely having the party after his birthday day rather than before so he has something to look forward to! Even now he still keeps asking if it will be his birthday soon, he's very interested in numbers and age.
During the time Eric and I were sick I had to miss my first driving test. I could not have left the bathroom (overshare alert)! Unfortunately the DVLA wouldn't accept a sick note so I had to pay again to reschedule my test, which I then failed! I've rebooked it for the 20th November so fingers crossed it'll be third time lucky.
In July I started back at work part time for the first time since Eric was born. It wasn't the plan for me to work before Eric started school, it was important to me to be at home with him while he's young, but unfortunately Alex was made redundant and needs must. It has been a huge change working. It was stressful trying to organise regular shifts to fit in with childcare and just to juggle and reorganise our life, and the hardest thing has been being away from Eric, both missing him and the guilt. The whole process has made me feel a bit vulnerable, but it is starting to feel more normal now, and I really like my new colleagues!
Luckily, since being made redundant Alex has been able to get some consulting work, which meant he went to work in Africa for 8 weeks recently. Prior to that trip he had been home with us for 10 months, so it was a shock to the system getting used to him being away. It is hard adjusting to doing everything myself, and to missing Alex, and trying to do the best possible for Eric, and I was also getting used to working. After a while we got into a routine but I really missed Alex this time. But we got through it!
Whilst Alex was away, Eric and I went to the cinema for the first time
to watched Monsters University and went bowling. We went to Bristol to find lots of Gromits
and play in the fountains
and go out for dinner!
We also went to a family fun day in our village
and we've been going swimming on Thursdays at the local pool. We haven't been since Eric was very little, and it's been so much fun! The first time we went together Eric was screaming and laughing in equal measure, and got so excited and overwhelmed that he was only communicating with squeals and sounds instead of words. He has armbands and a woggle now, and likes jumping off the side into the water and he is just starting to do some basic swimming motions and move around the pool on his own. He absolutely loves it.
At the beginning of September Eric started preschool for 2 and a half days a week. It was another huge adjustment! To start with I felt so guilty being away from him, and was worried it was wrong to take him. When he started going, even though he was absolutely fine in the day, didn't cry at all when I dropped him off and was happy all day, he was waking up crying lots in the night and I was so worried the separation from me at a time when Alex was also away was making him feel insecure. I let him co-sleep every night (we always let him come into bed in the night if he wants to!) and he developed a cold and cough and since then he's been sleeping better, so I'm not sure if he started feeling more secure or if it was just the oncoming virus upsetting him at night.
They have a lot of free play and outside play which was important to us in our choice of preschool. We've had one issue with preschool where their way of doing something with Eric contradicted our more gentle parenting style, which was really upsetting and awoke my inner roaring mama tiger! But we talked to them about it and talked it through with Eric, and worked out how we could get through the problem. They have also been very open to finding out more about Eric's vegan diet and lifestyle, and are inclusive.
We walk to preschool at 8:45am every day along the cycle track through our village, and Eric rides on his scooter. He swaps his book in his book bag every time and we read it in the park on the way home. Sometimes we play rugby or climb the big tree. I make him a packed lunch to eat for his 2 full days there. He has a uniform. The parents all wait at the gate for pick up and drop off. All those things make it feel really 'school-like' and like he is growing up so much, and I was in tears during his first week of preschool! Especially as we also received his primary school application letter. But seeing how much he likes going to Fledglings, talking to him about his new experiences and friends, and really enjoying and appreciating our days off together has made it feel better!
Has your little one recently started preschool? How are they (and you) finding it? Please share your experience in the comments!