Thanks, Bliss!

A little bit more fame for the Carters today as the story of Millie’s birth (13 weeks premature) can now be read on the Bliss website.

Millie001It’s under my name because they wanted a Dad’s story to try and attract other dads to volunteer on the Bliss helpline, as I do.

But let’s not mention the award I won last year for “going above and beyond” – I don’t like to talk about that and all the help I’ve given to other parents and families. Let’s just put that to one side for the moment, this isn’t about all my great work for charidee. 😛

Bliss - for babies born too soon, too small, too sickSeriously, however, if you think you could help and comfort anyone with a baby born too soon then visit the Bliss website for more details on volunteering. Any time or help you can offer is gratefully received, and the commitment is only what you can handle.

 

The Millie Gang

Having seen yesterday’s entry on The Amber Gang, Millie has asked for an entry on her gang members, too. “But,” I asked, “you don’t carry these everywhere you go round the house, do you?”

Well, Millie might not always carry them around the house, but when it’s time to get warm and cosy somewhere then you can guarantee this lot will be there…

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NAME: Nuffle

APPEARANCE: Old, faded, much-loved blue blanket.

OTHER ALIASES: Nuffle-snuffle.

NOTES: Still the original and the best gang member, everyone knows Nuffle. Has been at Millie’s side virtually all of her life.

Note – Nuffle is never ever used for keeping warm, such practical pursuits are beneath its dignity.

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NAME: Harley

APPEARANCE: Small chocolate labrador.

WHY?: Well, if we can’t visit Uncle JimmyMac’s labradors more than a couple of times a month then Harley and Monty will just have to suffice.

NOTES: Millie’s ongoing obsession with dogs generally and labradors in particular, Harley is the closest she’s going to get to having a dog while living at home, so his position is pretty secure.

 

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NAME: Monty

APPEARANCE: Small labrador.

WHY?: Well, if we can’t visit Uncle JimmyMac’s labradors more than a couple of times a month then Monty and Harley will just have to suffice.

NOTES: Inseparable from Harley, Monty is chiefly notable for making the Lovely Melanie and I repeat “My boys, my boys!” in a poor impression of Montague H. Withnail (Uncle Monty) in the 1987 film Withnail and I.

 

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NAME: Emoji

APPEARANCE: Yellow, smiling, heart-eyed emoji cushion.

OTHER GROUP AFFILIATIONS: Emojis.

WHY?: His fanatical, unseeing but ever-loving eyes are a metaphor for a child’s unquestioning love.

Probably.

NOTES: One of two impulse addition to the Carter household, Millie and Amber both formed an instant bond with these emoji cushions, bought for £5 each from a Bexleyheath tat-shop.

Educating Millie

When I think back on my childhood, it went on for absolutely ages. At least, like, 30 years, and I was at school for what felt like half my life. At least, in my memory it seems that way.

When you’re a grown-up things move a lot faster, and barely six years after starting primary school Millie’s getting ready to move up to big school. Einstein’s theory of relativity says time goes more slowly the faster you’re moving. And since children move a lot faster than big clumsy adults time passes more slowly for them.

Or something.

schoolAnyway, Millie’s in her last year of primary school so we’re now attending open evenings at local schools to find the right one for her.

In my day we didn’t have a choice where to go: “You’re off to Hreod Parkway in September” I was told, and that was that. Everyone I knew was told the same thing: FYI, pack your things, you’ve done Haydon Wick, kthxbye!

Now, it’s much more complicated. We get to choose where Millie goes.

Personally, I’d rather not. I’d prefer every school was kept at a half-decent standard and Millie just went to the nearest one – less paperwork for everyone concerned, no splitting friends up, just one open evening to attend, job done. But that’s not how it’s done now.

Which is why last week we spent an evening at Blackfen School for Girls for one of their open days. We were shown round the school by two polite and helpful pupils, met the staff and headmaster, saw the facilities and asked questions such as, er, well, nothing, really – your first open evening is all a bit strange and we didn’t really know what to look for or ask about.

Blackfen, as you might have guessed is s single-sex school. Both the Lovely Melanie and I went to mixed-sex schools and are a bit suspicious of single-sex schools. Although Auntie Kristine, the Lovely Melanie’s sister, went to a single-sex school and, er, she seems fine.

Apparently. 😉

Millie asked about the point of single-sex schools, which was a good question. All I could muster was something about girls in the olden days often not being educated at all, or taught skills like deportment and sewing, while the boys went to learn rugby and Latin.

Before visiting Blackfen Millie was also sceptical about going somewhere with no boys at all, but it has a reputation as a good school, so we thought it worth a look.

Once you get over the single-sex thing (and it was weird to hear the headmaster only refer to “your daughters” and “the girls”) we were quite impressed – as was Millie. Her only reservations were about the sheer size of the place, but as we explained, it’s not called “big school” for nothing; Blackfen isn’t even particularly big, they’re all that size!

There are still four more schools to see in the area: only four, as Millie decided she didn’t want to sit the 11-plus exam. The Lovely Melanie didn’t want to pressure her and the headmaster explained children should only sit the 11-plus if they’re definitely grammar school material. Millie’s got the reading and writing chops for it, no question, but would struggle with the maths.

I was all for entering her for the exam – hell, why not? – but the headmaster specifically warned parents against this, saying it would be a lot of stress for nothing since there are so very few grammar school places available in Bexley.

When Millie told us she wasn’t interested in taking the exam either, we decided not to. She can go to a regular school just like both her parents did. 🙂

Minion Mayhem at the Movies

When you’re ten years old, the time for birthday parties is past.

wpid-wp-1436175823374.jpegWell, not quite, but there’s a higher level of sophistication expected by your guests.

Which is why on Saturday I found myself at Bella Italia in Bexleyheath with the Lovely Melanie, Amber and four ten-year-olds: Millie’s delightful friends Ione, Megan, Emma and Allyse.

They had a separate table from us, giving the illusion of being grown-ups with the freedom to chat about boys and friends and whatever else ten-year-olds talk about these days. Amber clearly wanted to be sat with them rather than her parents, taking every opportunity to slip away and see what the big girls were doing.

There was a little bit of squealing, about ten group trips to the toilet over the course of an hour and lots of chatter with the waitresses – just like grown-ups. 🙂

wpid-wp-1436175915143.jpegAfter saying ciao bella to Bella Italia with a picture of them all on a scooter (Amber somehow slipping in there, too) we took them all next door to see the Minions movie, which, I confess, was pretty funny.

Stupid, but none the worse for that. 🙂

Here I realised that groups of pre-pubescent girls simply cannot keep their emotions to themselves – they just have to shout “Ahhh…!” or “So cute!” when anything remotely sad or cute happens (seriously, they can’t help themselves. As a boy, I find this weird).

And finally, Millie’s friend Megan came back with us for a sleepover. We would have liked to have all of them to stay but…

Actually, no, what the hell am I saying?? Two excited ten-year-olds were more than enough!

Ahh, no, two excited – but tired – ten-year-olds were just fine, even rather sweet to watch (and occasionally overhear), somewhat awkwardly straddling the gap between children and teenagers. 🙂

And the final act of this tenth birthday is just playing out: after a gentle chat about what she could/should spend her £100 birthday money on (and regular admonitions not to spend it all on cuddly animals or novelty stationery) Millie chose to buy…a tablet.

We spent an exciting afternoon on eBay with me explaining how bidding and buy-it-now worked, as well as the basics to be aware of when buying IT products. The Lovely Melanie dropped by at one point to wryly note that I was loving every second of this – and I couldn’t argue, I was. 🙂

With an absolute maximum of £100 to spend, we found Millie a fantastic £70 tablet, a Nvidia Advent VEGA Tegra Note 7 (no, I know, you’ve never heard of it, but for what Millie wants and can afford it is perfect!).

It should arrive tomorrow (Tuesday). And let’s hope it does because Millie’s talked of nothing else for the last 24 hours. Gotta love that little geek child of mine. 😀

Everyone’s doing it

We’re not sure what it is precisely, but Millie’s class has been struck by the Cup-crackin’ Bexley Beatbox Craze.

Bonny brought it in, everyone else saw it and before you could say Excuse me Doug E. Fresh, you’re on! it’s a mini-craze.

This one I quite like – the way the rhythm rises up out of the chaos…

Happy birthday, Millie

19233243251_b3651004b8_oCongratulations, Millie, you’re now 3,650 days old, give or take – a full decade!

Of course, you should only be 3,560 days old – a fact I’ll no doubt be reminding you of when I’m on my deathbed. That’s just something Dads do – remind you of stuff that you have no memory of and don’t really care about.

Not once during all those 3,650 days have I ever regretted being your Dad. I’ve sometimes wished for more sleep or that you’d drink your damn milk, but I’ve always been so glad to be your Dad.

I’m looking forward to watching you grow up and become a wonderful young lady. 🙂

Happy birthday, my love, and welcome to double figures!

Millie’s birthday party

It was Millie’s 10th birthday party yesterday, attended by family from across the south of England.

DSCF8059Not everyone could join us this year, but we still managed to enjoy a lovely afternoon in the sunshine. Thanks to all of those who made the journey to Bexley to celebrate a decade of Millie Harriet Carter. 🙂

This year’s party theme was “superheroes” and, as you can see in this photo – some people took it more seriously than others!

Yep, that’s me as Norrin Radd – better known as the Herald of Galactus or the Silver Surfer!

From left to right, that’s my dad as Batman, Millie as the Mighty Thor, yours truly as the Silver Surfer, Amber as Iron Man, my brother and niece as Batman and Auntie Carla as Ms Marvel.

Good show, everyone!

There are some lovely pics from throughout the day on this Flickr album