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.


Parents’ evening

Parents’ evening was a pain when I was at school: my parents would come out generally pleased, but always, it seemed, with a caveat: Could do better.

To be fair, they were probably right. I applied myself only to “interesting things” – which, fortunately, covered a lot of things – developing a voracious magpie reading habit from a young age, which has never failed to make life – and conversation – more interesting over the years.

My love of interesting things hasn’t served me quite so well at work, where I still struggle to understand how anyone can be an accountant or get excited about sales figures. Why would you dedicate your short life to that sort of thing when there are so many fascinating and amazing things going on in the universe?

Anyway. This was supposed to be about the girls’ parents’ evening last night, not mine.

Millie got a glowing report, and the hard work she puts in (rather unlike her father!) is paying dividends, as the teacher told us she’s moved up to the middle of the class in maths and remains well above average in her reading ability and writing.

She was also curious about Millie’s premature birth, having noticed (as have we) that her delicate features seem often to be a marker for prematurity; so we told the by now well-rehearsed story of birth three months early, weighing just 1lb 7oz, etc., and Millie chipped in with the detail that when she was born her head and body would fit in my open hand. 🙂

Amber’s report was more nuanced – and the girls weren’t allowed in the classroom with us.  Her teachers told us that Amber needed to concentrate more, to learn to plan her work, to work on the layout, that she was in too much of a rush.

And…that was pretty much it.

I only realised afterwards, we came away assuming that Amber’s still doing fine (except for her tendency to rush headlong into things and barrel through them) but without actually knowing that was the case.

Millie’s birthday

Nine years ago today this blog effectively began – it had been running for a few years before, but previously content disappeared off the bottom of my hand-coded HTML pages it was lost forever.

Perhaps more importantly, and the catalyst for this change, was the birth of Millie, our eldest daughter: three months premature and weighing just 1lb 7oz.

Today, Millie’s a happy, healthy, normal girl –  a nine-year-old girl!  Happy birthday, not-so-little Millie!

Ironically, despite having more free time than ever, I’m finding myself less driven to blog.  There’s still plenty to write about, I’m just not feeling the urge to get it down here the way I used to.

It may be a temporary reduction in my “blog drive” – spent most of last week working on CVs and covering letters and profiles and portfolios – and a birthday story for Millie, which she asked for – so maybe I’m just a little written out right now.

The whole business of finding-a-new-job takes up a lot of time and is incredibly tedious to write about.  There may be more interesting stories when I go to register as unemployed – it’ll be interesting to see if the process is better or worse than it used to be – and when I start getting some responses to job applications through – or even some freelance work!

Top reading group

I’m going to brag about my children a little in this post.  Those of a non-parental disposition might want to…I don’t know, go and browse the Ikea catalogue or something.  Whatever non-parenting grownups do.

Go on, off you go – we won’t be long here.

Anyway, so, Millie’s been promoted to the top reading group in her class – the one where the really smart kids go.

Books books books!As always, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise when you remember that her parents are both writers/editors with a deep love of reading and books.  Millie has grown up surrounded by books – hell, one wall of our dining room is stacked right to the ceiling with them!

And let’s not forget: the Lovely Melanie helped both Millie and Amber to unlock the magic stored in all those pages – spending hours, days and weeks reading them stories as well as patiently unveiling the secrets of how to read.

Me?  I read in front of them a lot and occasionally write books for them.  The lion’s share of the credit isn’t mine.

However, I still remember a dark night early in June 2005; the Lovely Melanie’s waters had broken after just 23 weeks of pregnancy and at Lewisham Hospital a low-voiced doctor was giving us odds of Millie surviving at less than 50:50, and warning that if she beat those the odds of serious developmental problems were equally high.

And just look at her now. 🙂

Millie helps BLISS

Millie holding up BLISS literatureSeems like a long time ago now, but let’s not forget how I first got serious about blogging.

BLISS are planning some promotional work and wanted pictures of some success stories – including Millie who, I’d say, is definitely a success story.


Two girls best. Apparently.

Two girls makes for the happiest family, apparently.  You wouldn’t have known it in our house this morning.

Millie’s touching me!

Amber’s within three miles of my bedroom!

Millie’s violating my airspace!

Amber’s not heeding the terms of the UN convention on human rights!

Millie’s genetic code is the same as mine!

Amber exists at all!


In other news, Millie got her interim school report the other day which had its good and bad points.  The good points were all to Millie’s credit: she tries extremely hard, particularly in Reading and Writing, slightly less so in Arithmetic.

The bad, such as they are, is that while she’s doing just fine in Reading she’s behind in both Writing and Arithmetic.  I felt bad for the poor girl when I read this.  Overwhelmingly proud that she’s trying so hard, but slightly sad that her results weren’t reflecting this.

These are the times when I remind myself about Millie’s rough start in life and that she’s technically over a year younger than some in her class.  I wasn’t sad about Millie – don’t misunderstand this – she’s a happy little girl, bright as a button, and her school are recognising that it’s not lack of effort holding her back, rather I was sad for her.

But the Lovely Melanie, wise as ever, pointed out that sheer effort will take you an awfully long way in life, and as long as Millie’s trying then she’ll be fine. 🙂

Parents’ evening

It gets a bit repetitive sometimes, saying how proud I am of my children, but sometimes it just needs saying.

Today is a good example: the Lovely Melanie went to Millie’s parents’ evening – her first one in her new class – and it was all good. 😀

First of all, Millie’s not top of her class but neither is she at the bottom, she’s doing respectably well somewhere in the middle. Considering the start she had in life, and considering she’s effectively a year younger than most of her classmates, this would be a triumph on it’s own. But there’s more.

The Lovely Melanie, ever mindful of the effects that being born at just 26 weeks and 1lb 7oz can have on a child’s development, mentioned to her teachers that should Millie need special tuition or help then we would be cool with that.

They replied that children in the class who need such help already get it – and Millie doesn’t need it

They then went on to say that she was quote a model pupil unquote, always well-behaved and friendly.

Things got a bit out of hand then, however, when these two battle-hardened veterans of the primary school system told us what an adorable little girl our daughter is!

But the icing on the cake for me was being told that, one, Miliie’s love of books is “palpable”, which is not unexpected given the kind of home she comes from, but also, two, that she’s forever asking questions.

Now that’s the kind of thing that, IMHO, will make you smart in the long run: ask questions, keep asking questions and never be frightened or ashamed to ask questions. Questions get you answers.

I’d love to think this questioning spirit is down to our influence, too, because we’ve made a point of never *ever* being too busy to answer questions from our girls, of never brushing them off or shushing them.

So tonight, once again, we are EXTREMELY proud of our Millie.