They call them “transitional objects” in psychology circles, but around here they are just favourites. They certainly aren’t going anywhere. Why does society see them as transitional anyway? Why do we expect them to go away? Why do kids get forced to stop comforting behaviours or cast away beloved objects to appear more grown up when many adults just adopt their own tools like smoking, drinking or even fingernail biting to regain some of that calm? Often the world is an overwhelming place with big scary things that even I can’t make sense of. If a small stuffed bunny (duck, blanket or whatever) helps, who am I to demand it be gone. And further more, if I as their parent am OK with it, why do perfect strangers feel it is their duty to tell my kids they are “too old for that”? What evil are they ridding from the world when they admonish a child for taking care of their own needs? I’m sure they have their own habits. We all do and I am not even going to qualify them as bad. It isn’t my place.

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This weekend I was reading in my room. Cuddled in my throw blankets with my favourite one from my childhood tucked up at my shoulder, my daughters came to just be with me. I am comfort to them and they are to me, but we are not always with each other. We can’t be. It is one of the first sorrows we realise as humans, we are all separate. Clover rested on her elbows at the side of the bed, thumb in mouth and fingers twirling her Nunny’s ears. She is six, but she knows hard truths. She has heard sad things. Her life of joy is tempered by occasional glimpses of the big bad world. But with that Nunny, she can manage disappointments, overcome sad and rejoice in the joy. That Nunny is merely a tangible representation of what is already inside her. Nunny is a tool that grounds Clover to a base of love.

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These days I follow her around picking up balls of Nunny fluff, stuffing that drifts silently out of the many holes that have been worn despite care all over her delicate fabric. Every day for years, Nunny has been loved deeply and even when she is more mending than original material, Nunny will still be loved for she is the favourite. 

favourite-my-family-lens Like my children, holding on to special things gives me comfort. I have a few items that are meaningful to only me, but it is my collection of favourite memories that gets me through the worst of times. The camera is a tool that gathers those moments for me. Having something like the OM-D E-M10 in my hands, I can transform transitional into lasting.

Have you got a favourite thing?

 A few Olympus OM-D E-M10 features that shined during this particular test.

Art Filter: I tried shooting with an art filter this time instead of adding it in camera after as I had done before. I was happy with the subtle distortion I got from “Diorama” used for the portraits. With the simple setting I wanted something to add a bit of interest to the setting without overpowering the overall look. I did miss the focus on her eyes just a tiny bit on a few shots that I did not keep, but that was more user error as I was not too keen on moving from my comfy spot to actually check my focus on the LCD. I just held the camera out in front of her which meant I was looking at the LCD from the side.

WiFi and Smart Phone App: This really is game changing technology for me as a blogger. From taking these photos, syncing my favourites over the built in WiFi feature, then editing the shots in Lightroom on the iPad and blogging without ever touching the laptop is such a welcome freedom. Each step along the way works seamlessly together.

Battery Life: The battery that comes with the OM-D E-M10 lasts quite a long time. I had the camera in my bag by my bed when the girls came in to join me while I was reading this weekend. I had not charged the battery since before we left on our trip to the Grampians the week before and had shot quite a few frames daily since, yet there were still a full three green bars of energy! The light was exquisite, the day was lazy and Clover was just tired enough to stand still…the moments would have been lost if I had to wait for a battery to charge.I just love that this camera is alway ready to do a great job.

As a Kidspot Voices of 2014 Personal and Parenting Top 30 blogger, I was given the opportunity by Olympus to test their OM-D E-M10 camera with the standard 14-42mm lens for a few months. From the 30th of June (although I started a bit early to not miss Hawaii) through the 30th of August, I will be posting my thoughts on and images taken with my new favourite camera. Different aspects of the camera will be featured in different posts, so consider the entire series my complete review. All images in these posts will be from the Olympus OM-D E-M10. For outtakes, special shots and more, follow along with my Olympus adventures through the hashtag #myfamilylens on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

 

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Seems I forgot a few folders! 

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The Porcupine shoots.

by sesame on July 21, 2014

Gemma has always been called “The Porcupine” because she is cute, but not very cuddly. While she is less prickly these days, I still think it fits.

Here are her selects from the last few months as seen through her lens. It is the second in the new blog series #theviewfromtheir cameras! One thing I can really see from these is that she has taken my advice of framing off centre to heart, she loves looking down and framing through windows. She also likes the play of colour images that appear black and white. I love seeing what the kids see!

Selects | May – July 2014

Photographer: Gemma | Camera: Samsung Galaxy Smart Camera | Editing: Basic Adjustments

I would love to see what your kids see too! Upload photos with the tag, #theviewfromtheir and let me know what life looks like through their lens! If you are interested in helping your kids take great photos alongside you, order your own copy of the littleSIDEKLICK instructional photo journal and start making memories together!

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The view from “their”

by sesame on July 18, 2014

Their camera that is… (see what I did there?)

Welcome to a new section of the blog where I will be sharing images that the kids take! Called “Smalls, Swoop and The Porcupine”, here you will see what my kids see through their camera lens. I teach them following my own program, littleSIDEKLICK, and they have been photographing their life since they were babies! What and how they see is just beautiful. 

Clover and Kieran shared a camera on this trip which is why the photographer listed is both of them. Gemma used her Samsung Galaxy Smart Camera and I will encourage her to share her images as well!

Grampians

Photographer: Clover and Kieran | Camera: old Samsung Point and Shoot | Editing: None*

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But wait, there is more!

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I remember just over a year ago when we heard the news that my husband’s best friend and his partner were finally getting married. Over a shaky Skype connection from our holiday rental in Queensland to their gorgeous apartment in Brooklyn, they asked my husband to be a best man. The news just kept getting better, the wedding would be in Hawaii halfway between New York and Melbourne! The dreaming of our family trip to Hawaii began that day. When there were less than 100 days left until our departure, Gemma made a paper chain to physically count the time away. We were begging the days to speed by us until we were on the warm shores of Oahu when we pleaded time to drag. 

I can’t believe that Hawaii with the family is done and dusted.  I am thrilled that I trusted the documentation of the entire trip to the Olympus OM-D E-M10 that I am testing. In my enthusiasm to play with the new gear, I got myself out of a photography rut and really learned again to look through the lens for stories unfolding…

Those stories are now memories wrapped up in little frames.
Memories of jet lag turning my kids into zombies and trying to keep them from napping that first day.

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But wait, that isn’t all! More memories, more pictures… CLICK HERE for a lot more!

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paintthetownford Moving our family from Los Angeles to Melbourne was a very big decision made up of many small considerations. Some things we had to give up for others that were more important to us. Luckily, there are a few elements that we just sort of exchanged. We traded one beach for another and like Los Angeles, having a home base in Melbourne means that a weekend getaway to somewhere seaside, the mountains, or even a country town is just a matter of which way you point the car. There are so many destination choices only a few hours drive from our front door. While we have just returned from a trip overseas, we still had one more weekend of the school holidays at our disposal. While over our six years of living here we have been to many different spots in Victoria, one place we have wanted to visit was The Grampians. Only a three hour drive from our home, it was a perfect choice for this quick trip. Alec booked us a cabin at the Big4 campground, we arranged for Chilli to go to her favourite sitter and dug out our warmest clothes.

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I have mentioned this on the blog before, but I do not particularly love driving with the kids. There are many different reasons, but two tangle together to become a multifaceted mess. It begins with the classic childhood quest for finding out if we are there yet by asking over and over for all the miles. It only ends when WE ACTUALLY GET THERE. Two of my three kids suffer terribly from motion sickness. Unfortunately one of those two is the worst “Are we there yet?” offender. With the car sickness, neither can look down to read or play on a tablet for distraction. Our Ford Territory Titanium has a ceiling mounted DVD player which means the kids can (and did) watch movies in the car without feeling ill. Before we left, they actually bonded over making their selections. The original Muppet Movie and Up kept them happy for exactly the same amount of time we were driving. It was happy bliss. The motion sickness and ennui are not the only factors that contribute to road trip anxiety…

paintthetownford The final element making our road trips unpleasant is what happens when you shove my three kids into one row of seats for longer than a short drive. Their elbows touch. 

THEIR. ELBOWS. TOUCH. 

I know, my head hurts from the eye rolling too. That valuable space between children is what we like to call the DSZ (De-Siblingized Zone) and is available in spades in a seven seater like the Territory!  With the extra row of seats in use, there is as you can imagine, less room for belongings. As we like to stay in a self contained cabin with a kitchen to cook all our own meals, we had to bring groceries and a cooler as well as our luggage. The DSZ was more important than bags being all in the boot, so Gemma gave up half of the back row to the overflow. We packed the luggage compartment well so that the things we might need during any pit stops were on the top of the pile and could be accessed via the raised window bypassing having to lift the entire tailgate.

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paintthetownford We are not a family with much hiking experience, but we can walk! The Grampians were perfect for our collective skill set. There are beautiful easy walks that you can start just a few meters from the carpark. These trails take you by waterfalls and rock formations and made even this asthmatic feel like a proper mountain woman. I could imagine coming back in warmer weather for the kids to splash in the delightful and gentle streams. (OK, I’ll admit it, I wanted to splash and play as well!)

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paintthetownford Much of the area was damaged by bush fires just a few months ago so that meant we were not allowed in to see some of the most famous waterfalls. The area needs time to regenerate. It is just another reason to return. Luckily there are still clearly a lot of local animals thriving with mobs of kangaroos crowding the football oval in the town at the base of the mountain range.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA While it was cold, there were only intermittent rain showers (one we comfortably waited out in the Territory) but no snow. To keep the car as clean as we could, the kids removed boots as they climbed in. The key was remembering to put them on the floor at their feet before driving off.  Luckily, Clover forgot her gumboots in a parking lot on the return drive home and not on the way to the Grampians as there were plenty of puddles to run through. She was almost growing out of those boots, so we have hope that someone who needs them has found them and gives them a good home. 

paintthetownford The only thing that could have made this weekend getaway better was being able to bring Chilli with us. She LOVES long car rides, doesn’t need gumboots and will not get carsick! How does your family do on long car trips? Do you have a DSZ?

 

As one of the overall top 100 Kidspot Voices of the Year 2014 finalists, I have been selected to drive a Ford Territory Titanium for 6 weeks and integrate the car into our normal life. During that trial period, I will be sharing three blog posts that are inspired by having this particular car. This series is not necessarily a review, but more a documentation on how the Ford Territory fits into the days of this suburban mom of three growing kids. It goes without saying, but I will write it here again, my words and opinions are always honest and my own. You can follow along with our adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #paintthetownford tag.

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Milestone-Olympus-OM-D-E-M10 ETA: I know that at NEARLY six, the twins were a bit old for floaties, but despite many lessons (and even an intensive before the trip) they were never strong swimmers like their big sister. I guess the case was that it was not yet their time. They know best for themselves. As their parents, Alec and I just try to provide them as much opportunity in life as we can. 

When my children were babies, the milestones marking growth were spotted everywhere. They learned new things every day we celebrated them all. Now that they are all big school kids, it seems like the stretches between the road markers of life are further apart. We still celebrate them, but no one makes a scrapbook page for “First Homework Assignment” or “First Time Late To School”.

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I can understand why in those cases, but while in Hawaii the twins spontaneously did something that made us proud enough to share as a proper #Milestone and I was lucky enough to be right there with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 to catch it! After a few days of splashing and “swimming” with arm floaties, the twins made up their collective mind to ditch the plastic bands and try their skills with no assistance. It all happened so quickly, I did not even have time to get in the water before they swam away.

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Let me repeat myself. They swam away. Just like that. Bolstered simply by self confidence, the twins began to swim. 

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I remembered why I loved all the milestones we marked when they were babies. Each marked our own heart growing even bigger with pride in our children. 

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A few Olympus OM-D E-M10 features that shined during this particular test.

Auto WB: There are two versions of the Auto White Balance on this camera and after I turned the “Keep Warm” option off, I found that the images were nearly perfect SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) so I could keep capturing and not have to worry about the colour rendition. I like my images to be as true to life as I can make them. I also like images in a series to match. This feature (which can be altered by shooting in RAW and processing those images in post) made it that much easier to keep so much COLOUR consistent.

WiFi and Smart Phone App: This camera is equipped with its own WiFi hotspot that allows it to be wirelessly connected to your Android of iOS device like magic! OK, it isn’t magic, it is technology and and a coordinating app, but it sure feels magical to take and image with great optics and be able to turn around and nearly immediately post it on your favourite social media venues. Awesome occasions and special milestones can be captured well and then shared right away. It is as simple as downloading and installing the Olympus Share app to your tablet or phone, turning the WiFi on the OM-D E-M10 and then connecting your device to that new hot spot. Through the app you can actually control your Olympus camera via remote live view or selectively download images already taken. While you can edit with the app as well, once the images are on your mobile camera roll you can use any of your favourite photo apps. Upload to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook! I can even blog from my iPad! This is a photoblogger’s lifesaving feature.

Electronic Zoom: I had the kit 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ MSC power zoom attached and that meant that I could stay as close as possible* and still get all the shots with the range of wide to telephoto focal lengths. The camera focuses well both near and with the touch to focus LCD feature, I was able to ensure the part of the image I wanted to focus on was the part that was in focus!

*Don’t worry, Alec was in the water so the twins were not swimming on their own without an adult within reach. I promise that as much as I love to take photos of my kids, I value my kids’ lives more and would never leave them unattended in danger just to get a shot. I will however, frame the images so that it appears they are in the water alone…just a more powerful story that way. Please always take care around water.

As a Kidspot Voices of 2014 Personal and Parenting Top 30 blogger, I was given the opportunity by Olympus to test their OM-D E-M10 camera with the standard 14-42mm lens for a few months. From the 30th of June (although I started a bit early to not miss Hawaii) through the 30th of August, I will be posting my thoughts on and images taken with my borrowed milestone marker. Different aspects of the camera will be featured in different posts, so consider the entire series my complete review. All images in these posts will be from the Olympus OM-D E-M10. For outtakes, special shots and more, follow along with my Olympus adventures through the hashtag #myfamilylens on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

 

 

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and TAC

We have just come back from two weeks in Hawaii. The first thing I did when I walked up to our rental car in the United States was try to get in the driver’s side…as a passenger.

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One of the most discombobulating things for me as an ex-pat is coming home to Australia and navigating jet lag while trying to drive on the opposite side of the road. Once I get in the car on the correct side that is! I have to admit that I have never loved driving. It has gotten worse since I have become a parent. I worry about the fact that my responsibility behind the wheel is now triple what it was before I had kids. Anything I can do to keep them as safe as possible when on the road, I do. But what about those things I can’t plan for? The unexpected road hazards like distracted drivers or the cat that sits on the curb for hours and just as you pass decides they have to cross the road right that very moment. What about those things?

I am vigilant about driving safely and following road rules, but I had no idea just how safe my family’s own car was! I mean, I would assume it is safe being a relatively new car. Heck, I grew up standing in the back seat as my folks drove in the 1970’s, so anything is better than that! But just how safe is our car really? I could not answer that question. Through a very informal poll of friends, I have come to the conclusion that I am not the only one who isn’t familiar with what safety innovations are out there and whether or not they are in the cars we actually drive on a daily basis. 

The Transport Accident Commission (TAC), an organisation that promotes road safety and services for Victorian drivers, has created an amazingly informative website, www.howsafeisyourcar.com.au (HSIYC), that allows you to look up your vehicle and see just where it ranks in terms of safety features. If you are in the market for a new (or even pre-owned) set of wheels, make sure you run your top choices through their search before making your final decision. If you are undecided about what to buy, compare your options on the HSIYC site and let the safety features guide your wallet! 

I looked up our family car and was pleased to see that it received a 5 star ANCAP rating and 35.13 out of a possible 37 overall score. While that is pretty good, some big advances in safety technology have been released in the six years since we bought it. One really important one is Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) which has been shown through real world data (as opposed to my informal poll of friends) to mitigate the severity of rear end collisions in 53% of cases and even better, 35% of all rear end crashes could be completely avoided! There is so much to AEB that the TAC has compiled an entire page of information that you can read by clicking here. It really is fascinating how it works. I will be looking for it in the next car we consider for our family.

It just takes a moment to see where your car sits in terms of safety.

www.howsafeisyourcar.com.au

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Blessed to be born with your best friend. Happy 6th birthday, Twinzles!

July 3, 2014

I often wonder what it would be like to be born with my best friend… The question has come up again and again over the last six years of being a mother to twins. I thought about it as they swam inside me together, bumping and stretching, I wondered if they were aware of each […]

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Discovering delight on the edge of fear.

July 1, 2014

So, if you had asked me before last week if I would ever go for a helicopter ride on purpose and not because I had broken a femur in a remote location and needed speedy transport to a hospital (while sedated), the answer would have most likely been; “No.” I am not known for my […]

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