Friday, June 28, 2013

Endings at the end of the week...

A couple of weeks ago I posted about our 'den of creativity' and the various projects we were all getting on with at the moment. Today I will update on a couple of those and another - not exactly creative, but certainly a - project which has reached a conclusion of sorts...

On Wednesday Lukas finally handed in his 'Local Landscapes' painting. He was originally supposed to hand it in on Monday, and then the teacher gave stragglers an extra day, but in the end, we didn't meet either of those deadlines and he finally handed the painting in on Wednesday afternoon after having the day off school to complete it.

It turned out very well, I think.

The Grumpy Old Man and I are of the opinion Lukas didn't undertake this project because he has a deep abiding love of art or painting, in fact, both of us will be very surprised if he ever picks up a paint brush again. We think he probably decided to do this project just to say, 'I can paint, too, for the record, I just choose not to.' Whatever his reasoning, he certainly has some ability. We were both delighted to see him develop his own style which is quite distinct from Erik's, as well. On Sunday we will be attending the National Gallery of Victoria exhibition launch for the Local Landscapes Project, so expect to see an update from that event in the next few days, as well!

I also submitted my photo, which will be on exhibition (and for sale) at the Abbottsford Lentil As Anything from Friday 5th of July.

With another project needing to be started, I knew I had to finish of the scarf-shawl I had been working on for a couple of months (with a few weeks break in the middle to move house). It turned out just as I had hoped, and with morning temps dropping down to 0 degrees (!) this last week, I didn't finish a moment too soon!

The buttons mean it can be secured in many different ways around the shoulders and I have had fun trying various styles. It is so cosy and warm!

The other 'project' which came to a conclusion, of sorts, this week was investigating Erik's cognitive, social and emotional development, particularly keeping in mind some of the challenges he has exhibited with impulse control and managing his emotions over the years.

We finally had a meeting with the psychologist yesterday, after she conducted assessments in May and Erik has been diagnosed with Aspergers. As he was diagnosed on the 16th of May, he falls under the diagnosis as prescribed by the DSM-IV which has recently been superseded by the DSM-5 on May 18th (they've moved from Roman numerals to the Arabic number system, in case you were wondering). Under the DSM-5 Erik would be categorised as having an 'Autism Spectrum Disorder' (ASD). I have yet to clarify with the psychologist whether we use the older term or new term now, but I guess that is only semantics.

We have to see a Paediatrician and Speech Pathologist, though the Psych said this was more a matter of propriety than anything else due to Erik's age (he is not eligible for any form of 'early intervention' because he is past the age of 13).

She was very concerned that the Grumpy Old Man and I, or Erik himself, might be upset by this news, but none of us are. This diagnosis does not change who Erik is. He isn't about to sprout a second head, or die. More than anything this is a bit of a explanation for why Erik is the unique and quite wonderful person he is. We are very hopeful that this diagnosis will open doors for Erik to have his particular needs met with regard to clear communication and development of skills and with awareness of the challenges he experiences with managing distraction or focusing beyond the world inside his own head (and behind his earphones).

I have also benefitted from having it reiterated time and time again that my parenting choices were - albeit instinctively implemented - the best thing for him. Through my understanding of his challenges and needs, I have been commended on having implemented most of the occupational therapy strategies which we would have been advised to employ through an early intervention program anyway. I have often wondered if the Master of Education (Early Childhood Development) I did while pregnant with Erik (and during his early years) wasn't a complete waste of my time and energy (in that this degree has never led to gainful employment) but it turns out that because I did this degree, and was also supported by a wonderful community of like-minded parents, we have managed to mitigate many of the issues faced by children with ASD and sensory processing issues. Yay us!

And being that this is the last day of Term 2 (another ending, though only briefly), we have received reports for all the boys now and Erik's first high school photos. The boys did well with Bs and Cs for all of them. They each have subjects they just shine in, and in which they can't seem to put a foot wrong with their teachers and then they each have a subject or two where they 'need to make better choices' about seating in class and allowing themselves to be distracted by, or to distract, their friends. Status quo - essentially.

Erik's first high school portrait,

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lots of New...

I was sitting on the bus coming home yesterday and thinking about how different my life is now from even six months ago - yes, this has been occupying my thoughts a lot recently!

Tuesday last week marked a year since the Grumpy Old Man passed his driving test. At first nothing much changed. There was still a lot of stress. We didn't have a car and it didn't look like we'd be getting one any time soon. I hadn't applied for the PhD yet, and even when I did in August, I knew I wouldn't hear anything back for months. We were still trying to get work for the GOM, and we didn't know what the owner's intentions were for the place we were renting.

Now we live somewhere different and every day is filled with driving. The Grumpy Old Man is now on permanent stay at home parent/taxi driver/carer duty. We came to the realisation that as much as he would like to work, employers just don't want to hire him. We considered continuing to beat our heads against that door, but decided it was better to focus our efforts on getting me into work instead.

I am now a full time PhD student and yesterday I was given a tour of my workstation and facilities. Just now as I was writing the previous sentence I received an email notification that my access card to the building I am working in is ready for collection - so it looks like I will be moving in tomorrow!

Our lives are unrecognisable now as we pile into the car between 8.10-30am and head out for drop offs at kindergarten, school and University! We seem to be busy all the time and today was one of those rare days when I found myself at home by 2pm and therefore able to find time to write this blog post.

All this change is bringing some lovely new people into our lives as well! I was sitting in the library yesterday at Uni and was a little surprised to hear my name, I looked up to find a library staff member who also is a student and has the same supervisor as me standing in front of me - I will call her A. She sat down and we had a great chat about being PhD students and about literature and other related topic. It was so nice! I can't feel anything but very welcome on campus!

I have been attending a number of seminars for new HDR (higher degree by research) students and have met another really lovely lady through those seminars - I will call her K. She is from a different department and is also on staff at Deakin and thanks to her not being as shy as I am, we seem to have hit it off very nicely. I find myself hoping we will continue to run into each other even when these seminars stop being quite so regular.

It turns out that my workstation is set to move in around March next year. There is a new building on the main campus which is currently under construction and my research area has been allocated the 6th floor. If I manage to get a work station near a window there will be an absolutely gorgeous vista to distract me!

What the new building will look like...

An example of what my work station may look like...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why I will never be Martha Stewart or Flylady...

Well, aside from the obvious - they already exist and we really only need one Martha Stewart and one Flylady on this little planet - let me tell you the story of the microwave...

When the Grumpy Old Man and I first got together, even before we got a washing machine or a fridge, we got a microwave. At first - as with all new 'technology' the Grumpy Old Man wasn't sold on the idea of a microwave, but I could not think of another way to reheat my oft neglected coffee or make garlic salt and cheese crusties (they taste better than they sound). Ironically, in the 15 years since getting the microwave, I have completely gone off the idea of reheating beverages (blergh!) or eating those cheesy melty things out of a microwave (what was I thinking???).

The old microwave served us well, though it was never really used for anything more exciting than defrosting meat, heating milk, and very occasionally reheating dinner if one of us was late coming home. I put that down to not reading the manual - which I put down to the fact that so many manufacturers seem to be believe we all have the vision of Superman; able to read print created by and for microscopic creatures...

Goodbye old microwave!

Hello new microwave!

Truth be told, we're just not very adventurous in the kitchen. Hence why I will never be Martha Stewart.

Last night, without much fuss, but a bit of bother, the microwave hiccupped and died.

We had to rethink dinner, as so often dinner requires the defrosting of meat, and in that moment we realised we would really have to replace the microwave quite quickly. Luckily, it is currently end of financial year sale time.

Today we went to the Good Guys and picked up a new microwave, it was less expensive and less weighty than our 15 year old one. We spent a little extra money to extend the warranty to four years, with a replacement being offered in the third and fourth years of said warranty. The extended warranty might prove be unwarranted, that's okay with us - hopefully in four years time I will be working (yes, finally) and we won't have to hold our breaths to replace a microwave if it breaks down then...

Are you wondering why I'm not like Flylady?

Well, the realisation dawned on me a little while ago that despite paying $200 we really cannot afford for a new microwave this fortnight, I was rather thrilled to see the old one go.

You see, when we moved house my mum pointed out it was rather in need of a clean. I am the only one who cleans it, apparently, despite not being the person who uses it the most and I had been neglecting it. When mum pointed this out I took a look and was horrified. So horrified, I have continued to put off cleaning the microwave for the past 3.5 weeks (I know, I know, report me to the housekeeping police if you must).

Today the old microwave was unceremoniously removed to the dark depths of the garage to await its final fate the next time I order a skip for de-cluttering. Did I clean it out first? Hells no! For I am the woman most likely to chuck Tupperware rather than have to clean out the undead remains of some meal the Grumpy Old Man swore up and down he was going to 'reheat for lunch tomorrow'. Today I excelled myself by discarding a microwave in need of a good old fashioned scrub - yay me!

Judge, you may, but I know we've all secretly wished we could just 'chuck it' rather than clean it!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Doing a doctorate is about learning new stuff...

I picked up one of these from the Post Office today. It's the first step. Once I have this passport sorted, I need to get onto getting my Icelandic passport as well - because that'll doubtlessly take a fair bit longer to organise.

I probably won't need them for another year, but I will definitely need them.

You see, I had my first meeting with my principal supervisor yesterday. I wasn't nervous about it because we have been chatting on email for about nine months and she is only ever encouraging and enthusiastic.

Before meeting her I had a seminar to attend in the morning about using EndNote. I've heard so many things about this referencing database program; some people swear by it and say it completely changed their research experience for the better. Others say it was too confusing and they ended up ditching it for their own homemade system.

It looks pretty good to me, but I think its efficacy also relies on consistently using it, editing your libraries and backing up. Consistency is not one of my strong suits - but hey, doing a doctorate is all about learning new stuff!

I have really enjoyed doing the induction seminars and have met a few lovely people along the way. One of the people I met before my supervisor meeting was another PhD student who also has the same supervisor as me - and she only had positive things to say about 'our supervisor'.

So, to the meeting.

In person my supervisor is much more decisively spoken than in her emails. I don't know what I was expecting, I guess from her emails she seemed a bit more 'girly' and 'soft' - seems ridiculous to say that, but you know how you get a picture in your head of how people are from their written words?

So, instead, she is absolutely about the business of getting a thesis done. I was highly impressed! She told me straight off that:

- She likes to work to deadlines and while she doesn't lose her shit if you miss a deadline, she also doesn't let it slide.

- She aims for her students to submit in 2.5 years (we have 4 years and are told to aim for 3 years because most students take about 3.5 years), so she believes in just ploughing through the work.

- She wants me to get the hard theory down first, referencing high end journals, and only then can we start to look at articles on the net etc. (no less than I would expect, of course).

- She aims for her students to published in high end journals (plural).


- She aims for her students to present at an international conference!

She said by the time I undertake colloquia (in 12 months time), I should have a chapter worth presenting at an international conference!

Presenting a paper doesn't worry me so much - as she said, I'll be the world's leading expert on my topic - but travelling overseas to present to complete strangers, well, that scares the crap out of me!

I asked (probably very naively) if students travel alone to these conferences. She said I could take someone with me if I wanted to - but the University won't pay their way. Okay. I have travelled by myself before. I travelled from Norway to Australia on my own when I was 18 and then I travelled to Japan on my own when I was 22, but each time I had someone I knew and trusted meeting me at the other end. This time it will be just me and a bunch of strangers.

Doing a doctorate is all about learning new stuff, hey?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Our Den of Creativity!

This family has been ablaze with creativity of late - which is a good thing, because it means all our restless energy is being channeled into positive outlets!

I was musing on this last night, doing a bit of a tally of the current projects and I realised we actually have quite a lot going on.

Erik and Lukas are both currently working on paintings with deadlines at the end of June. Both the boys have been a bit slack after the initial burst of inspiration and so we're in something of a furious race with time at the moment, trying to get it all done. We might take a bit of a break from large painting projects with the boys in the second half of the year - it can be a bit stressful and all-consuming.

Lukas is painting Brighton Beach Hotel as part of the year six National Gallery of Victoria 'Local Landscapes' project (which Erik participate in last year).

While Erik is working on a painting which is serving the dual purpose of being his project for the elective 'Personal Learning Project' at school, and also being published in the coffee table book 'Brushes with Life: Definitions of Success' which is a sequel to last years 'Brushes with Life: A Celebration of Inspiration'.

I will be writing a piece for this same coffee table book which will be launched later in the year and will also incorporate an exhibition of works. I have to admit, I don't know what I will be writing yet. I feel it needs to be something which presents well in a visual medium, so that is quite a challenge for me, even in flash fiction form.

As well as this, I am exhibiting one of my photos in an exhibition to be held at 'Lentil as Anything' in Abbottsford, starting July 5th and running until August 28th. I cannot express how excited I am about this. I have long held the dream of exhibiting my photos and then this opportunity presented itself quite by chance!

I have also accepted the challenge of 'decorating' one of these gentlemen for a charity auction at the Brushes with Life exhibition close party in November, with all proceeds going to Impact for Women. This will be my first foray into 'grown up' art and I'm a bit nervous, but I have a good idea of what I want to do and say with this piece - let's just hope I can pull it off! Oh, my man's name is George - in case you want to come and bid for him... Oh, and my brother will also be decorating a gentleman - I don't know which one, but I will let you know when I find out. I had no idea he was participating until after all the men had found homes, so to speak. We've never worked on the same project before, so this will be quite fun, I think!

As well as this, of course, there is the omnipresence of crocheting. I laid aside the scarf-shawl I had been working on leading up to the move, for about a month, but I've picked it up again and it is coming along nicely. With any luck, I may even get to wear it this winter!

In case you think he has been left out, the Grumpy Old Man is working on a project as well. That is to say, he has been working on and off on an anthology of stories he is hoping to have finished by February next year - he's very private about his writing, so that is all I'm going to say about that!

Bryn and Ari, you ask? Well, Ari is playing with colour at the moment. After years of shying away for most forms of art, then slowly playing with scribbling and forming letters, he has recently discovered the joys of colour.

And here is a recent picture he drew of me... before my morning coffee, I'd say...

I realise a lot of 4.5 year olds are far more artistically accomplished by this age, however, I remind myself that a) not everyone has the same strengths, b) Erik was at about this level at this age as well, and c) no one recognised the brilliance of Picasso early on either!

Bryn, bless his little cotton socks, recently asked for a journal to write in. He then announced he was going to become 'a writer' and proceeded to write a birthday present wish list... Write about what you love, boy, that's the way!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wanna see why I love our new house?

We're slowly settling into life in the new house - the new life, the good life - it feels like a whole new bright chapter in our lives.

This week, while unpacking I found myself mucking around with packaging from inside a modem box, and as I looked down a 'tube' of cardboard, I found myself looking into a metaphor for our lives at the moment. After so many years under a dark cloud, we're finally blinded by the light at end of the tunnel.

Anyway, do you want to see our new house?

Nah, I know, looking inside other people's houses is so boring, right?

Okay, here's a little tour for you - excluding the master bedroom because I just can't be bothered clearing up the floor-drobe in there today.

When you walk in our front door, this is what you see! I have been dreaming of having a family portrait wall all these years! There is room for photos of Bryn and Ari and of members from Dave's family and my dad's side of the family when we get them - we've been a bit neglectful on the photo printing side of things...

Dad's tea towel holder and mum's castle are in their proper place right by the front door, too. We have also established a 'No Shoes Inside' rule for this household, so there is a small box of visitor slippers by the front door now.

Bryn and Ari have their own room. There is so much more space for all the boys now. This room is directly opposite the lounge room so Ari can play in his room but still see and hear us.

I got the boys a few new bright boxes for their toys as well.

Erik and Lukas have a more grown up boys' room with a desk for, ahem, studying - though, in all honesty it seems dedicated to Lego, drawing and laptops for gaming most of the time. They have a corresponding set of shelves and boxes (in black and red teen colours) on the wall opposite the bed, too. They have yet to adorn the walls with posters - but I've been told that will most definitely be happening.

I love the set up of the lounge room now. The tulip cabinet is no longer standing in a hallway, but has pride of place in the lounge room. The arrangement of the couches means, not only do we have enough seats for everyone including guests now, but we find we 'commune' more, just hanging out in each other's company or chatting face to face, it's very cosy!

I have a knitting nook now; complete with rocking chair, the chest my dad made (fully of family treasures), my grandfathers embroidery, my Butterfant print, all the yarny goodness. And colour, never forget colour!

The dining room! Woot! A dining room floor I can actually sweep and mop after the feral five have devoured dinner! That is my great grandmother's horse-blanket embroidery hanging in the background, there.

The breakfast nook. It's a bit bare yet, and I'll probably want to crochet something bright to hang over those bland blinds, but it's a very practical space as well.

The bathroom... but wait, there's more...

The shower! It looks to be a separate room, but as you see the wall doesn't reach all the way to the ceiling. It's quite interesting actually because it means someone can take a shower and other's can still brush their teeth or chat in the bathroom next door without anyone having to sacrifice their privacy - I love it! I also love the indoor sun (heat lamps) in the shower, no more drying off in the cold! The toilet is separate, but right next to the bathroom as well.

Funny story: the first day we were in the house properly Bryn couldn't find the toilet. He was completely confused that it wasn't adjacent to the laundry at the back of the house because every house he has ever lived in had the toilet practically outside!

The study - it is huge, though not quite this huge. This photo is obviously taken with a wide angle lens. We've taken down the original shelves which were on the wall and are replacing them with narrower, shorter shelves so the doors of my cabinet don't crash into them.

I absolutely adore the afternoon sunlight streaming in on my desk! You can't really make out my view from this photo but I look out over the trees in the front yard - it is really beautiful!

The other end of the kitchen. Dave loves this kitchen. I love the dishwasher and the crockery drawers! Oh, and the glass stove top - so practical!

I also love this nook in the kitchen, I can't tell you why exactly, it just feels nice.

I don't have a photo of the boys' rumpus room downstairs yet (can't show you everything at once), but that is also something which is making all our hearts sing these days.

Oh and wall sockets! This house has so many wall sockets I've only had to use one extension cord and two power boards so far! It's these little things that make a whole lot of difference.

I love the ducted heating. The ducted heating and the car have already changed my experience of winter this year. I just don't feel cold anymore. So, okay, I'm a little bit scared about the utility bills for this winter, but I'm trying not to think about that too much...

We live at the top of a hill and at the bottom of the hill there is a playground - how handy is that?

Two minutes walk in another direction there is a milk bar.

Right outside our house there is a bus to the local shopping centre, which also takes us to Dave's mum's house in the other direction. Erik can get home from school in 30 minutes now. If Lukas and Bryn took the bus, it would take them about an hour, but because we have a car, they don't have to take the bus. It would also take me about an hour to get to my work station at Uni - which, ironically, is just 10 minutes longer than it would take if I was living at the previous house!

Life is good!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Love and Devotion are not signs of weakness aka Moffat's Women are not weak...

I've been rather frustrated of late by the idea that for a woman to be strong, for her not to be down trodden, manipulated, weak, a doormat, or whatever other descriptor you like in the same vein, she should never feel devoted love for someone. She should never have need of another person. She should never attach herself to anyone emotionally.

Because, you know, woman aren't social beings at all - well, not strong women anyway.

This irritating little fibre against my soul came to a head when I read the following - very poorly informed - argument as to why the next Doctor in the Doctor Who saga should be a woman (a notion I am not opposed to, by the way).

Find said offensively incorrect article here.

Okay, setting aside the misinformation about Time Lords being immortal (hmmm, so please explain why the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords, and why Madam Kovarian would have even believed the Doctor could be killed in the first place) and the false fact (which was later amended) that the 10th Doctor wore a leather jacket, lets just have a look at this little gem of an insight...

The adorable, plucky, but somewhat pathetic sidekicks started appearing when Steven Moffat took over as showrunner. As writer Elizabeth Lopatto says, "I'm fine with the next Doctor being a dude, as long as we get more interesting women and a more emotionally competent writer. Because if Moffat writes us a female Twelve, I imagine she'll be just as sad and broken as the other women he's written (most notably abuse victim River Song, whose lives are stolen from her by the man she loves, for whom she later goes to jail for a crime she didn't commit; although placeholder/perfume model Amy Pond should get special mention for blandness)."

Excuse me, what?

I just hate it when people have an opinion on something they have obviously not taken the time to actually investigate more than superficially. River may have suffered abuse - in that she was kidnapped from her parents at birth and was programmed to kill the Doctor - but she was not a 'victim' of said abuse. To suggest she was a victim is to suggest she let this abuse diminish and define her, and she absolutely did not let that happen. In fact, despite these abuses against her as a child, she grows into a confident, compassionate, intelligent woman who is quite fearless in the face of any foe.

To say she had her lives 'stolen' from her ignores the fact that she not only offered up those lives completely of free will, but that the Doctor pleaded with her not to give him her lives, and she ignored him.

As for going to jail. It is customary, when in jail, not to be able to leave jail whenever you please and yet many references and jokes are made about the fact that River can and does leave StormCage all the time.

In fact, the greatest criticism I'm read about the so-called pathetic River Song was that her life revolved entirely around the Doctor, just as Amy's did. Well, let's see, is that true?

Yes, Amy met the Doctor when she was a small child frightened by an alien presence in her bedroom. The Doctor then disappeared for 12 years - through no fault of his own - leaving Amy with a feeling of desertion and leaving her to fantasise about this strange man who came into her life for a moment, promised to help her then disappeared. Yes, I can see how she became obsessed with him - but does that make her pathetic?

Then he returns and they go on many adventures together. So, yes, he is central to her life for a number of years, and even after she marries Rory, their lives still revolve around the Doctors comings and going, but they also become aware of this.

So, Amy is self-aware, that is not pathetic.

In the end, Amy loses Rory into the past. She could have travelled on with the Doctor, but she didn't. Instead she follows Rory, the love of her life. Turning her back on the Doctor. The Doctor was central to Amy's life between the ages of 8 and 24, so for 16 years out of her 87 year life span.

River is Amy and Rory's daughter, although she doesn't live with them for the first 7-8 years of her life, and then grows up with them as peers instead of parents. She hears all of Amy's stories about the mystical Doctor, and she is curious, of course, especially when she has the opportunity to meet him.

From that point on, she certainly does see the Doctor, they meet up constantly - though they never spend more than a couple of days together at any one time. She doesn't follow him around, she goes and educates herself, and on several occasions when they meet up, she saves his life. For most of their relationship so far, she is in control of when they meet.

After losing Amy and Rory, the Doctor invites her to travel with him and she says, 'Anywhere, any time, but not all the time.' She chooses NOT to be with him.

In 'The Name of the Doctor' we see the following clip...

It has been suggested that her lingering on, waiting for the Doctor to come back is a sign of her pathos, of her weakness, of her need for a man to feel whole.

This is so wrong!

First of all, this is not a case of needing 'a man', but rather of loving a particular man. When we love people and they leave without saying goodbye, we lack a sense of closure, because we are humans, we are by our very design social and we need meaningful social relationships to thrive. If she was unphased by the Doctor's departure then she probably never did love him.

The suggestion that a strong woman should not love a person and crave that person's acknowledgment in return is just stupid - it is requiring strong women to set aside being human beings. You do not need to be free of emotion to be strong - only Vulcans believe that!

Does anyone accuse the Doctor of being weak or pathetic or a victim because he obsesses about Clara for all those episodes in series 7? No, it's not even a topic of discussion. Men can be strong an still be head over heels in love. Men can be strong and sacrifice their lives without their integrity because questioned. Men can be strong even if they have been victims of abuse. So, why do people question a woman's strength under these same circumstances?

Invulnerability is not the same as strength.

You see, to be invulnerable, you can never let your guard down. You can never trust another person, or love another person. You can never be prepared to sacrifice for another. You can never compromise with another person. You can never really have deep and meaningful relationship with another person, because if you do and they leave or die or disappoint you, then you might feel something and you might even cry or lose your mind for a while and then you're just pathetic according to so many of these judges of what it is to be a 'strong woman'.

Moffat has been accused of writing stereotypically weak women. I am not here to defend Moffat on that score, but I fail to see how the women he has written are weak. In this blog post there is a list of some of the progressive stuff Moffat has done as a writer and plot master for Doctor Who - for women, gay people, race debates etc.

On the topic of strong women, the list should be longer...

Rose - Fearless and compassionate - hey she was even compassionate towards a Dalek making it possible for a *good* Dalek to develop (even if his life was short lived). Rose was shop girl who ended up running a secret military group.

Martha - ;The Woman Who Walked the Earth' and united the earth's people and then joined Torchwood. Sure she had a deep crush on the Doctor for a while, but realising it was unrequited, she said goodbye and found a new life for herself. Martha was a doctor.

Donna - This woman was AWESOME! She put the Doctor in his place in nearly every single episode! In the end she became the Donna-Doctor and even when returned to her previous life without any memory of her time with the Doctor, she just kept troopering on making a life for herself. Donna was a secretary who saved the Universe and the Doctor and was 'the most important woman in all of creation'.

Amy - 'The Girl Who Waited' - except she didn't. She became a model and perfume designer, and her perfume was named Petrichor 'for the girl who is tired of waiting'. After following Rory back into the past, she became an author. She didn't wait at all, in the end.

River - Let's start with Alex Kingston (River Song) being twenty years older than Matt Smith (The Doctor), she's hardly a shrinking violet or a girly-girl. She's an archeologist who become a Professor. She's a diplomat, a sharp-shooter, she flies the TARDIS better than the Doctor. She reads Galifreyan (which is practically a lost language). She travels through space and time completely independently of the Doctor. She's the only person in the Universe he trusted enough to tell her his name. She's his wife - not a love-lorn groupie.

Clara - Was 'born to save the Doctor'. If anything, Clara reminds us the Doctor seems more in need of women than they are of him! He obsesses about Clara, seeks her out, chases her down, and she saves his life time and time again - thus, saving the Universe...

Madam Vastra - A sword wielding, alien warrior. She definitely doesn't need a man, being married to Jenny, she's not even attracted to them.

Madge Arwell - In the 2012 Christmas special, she is the only person strong enough to save the Doctoer, her children and herself from the acid rain, because she is - being a woman - the only one strong enough to fly to ship to safety (consequently also being a guiding light that saves her husband's life).

It seems that contrary to some ill-informed opinions 'Moffat's women' are usually very strong, not at all door mats and certainly not pathetic.

Having the capacity for love and self-sacrifice is not a sign of weakness - if anything, it is a sign of strength!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Today I made my eleven year old smash his iPod Touch with a hammer.

Yep, you read that right.

Why on earth would I do that?

Well, I found out he had established a Kik account against my specific instructions not to do so, and then when I went to delete said account I discovered he had used a friends iTunes account to download Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Duke Nukem and Block Ops. These are all first person shooter or maim and kill games.

I feel VERY strongly about this sort of gaming, and he has known since the first day he had his iPod that he was not allowed to play these sorts of games. I have caught him playing Grand Theft Auto on his laptop, and withheld the laptop for weeks. I have found him on unapproved social media on his iPod before and taken that off him for an extended period as well.

Today, I was going to take the iPod away for good.

You're probably going to suggest I could have sold it. The battery was dead, had been dead for a year, he could only play on it if it was connected directly to an outlet. It could not be fixed - we checked that about six months ago.

There was also a lesson to be learned about violence and losing something important to you through violence. Apparently, in games because it's 'simulated violence' he tells me, 'no one is really hurt'. With that logic, because the iPod is not living, it wasn't really hurt. Sure, Lukas was hurt by losing his iPod forever, but I am also hurt watching my child losing his innocence through playing these games and learning that maiming and killing is 'fun'.

I'm sure you think I over reacted. Perhaps you don't feel the games I mentioned are 'that bad'. My issue was more with the deception and defiance than the games themselves - though I absolutely abhor those games.

As I told my eldest today, technology is awesome; it allows friends to stay in contact, it's an endless source of information, resources and education, it can be used to save lives. It has great entertainment potential as well. However, as with any other tool, it must be used thoughtfully, with respect for others, and for the benefit of all. It should not be used to shame or hurt other people, it should not be used to desensitise people to the pain of others, it should not be used to glorify violence, deceit, hatred, and greed. Like any other tool, it should be used with responsibility and respect.

He does have an iPod shuffle, so he won't be deprived of music.