The Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 Kids is the tablet that grows with your child. With intuitive Kids Mode, parental settings and a great selection of preloaded apps, it’s the unique tablet for kids that parents will love.

School starts back tomorrow after two weeks off. It has been amazing to watch the twins over the holidays as they continued developing their fledgling reading skills.


I have been thinking a lot about education and learning lately. Back in my school days, we had textbooks and homework sheets and tests. Wash, rinse, repeat. I did not think it would be much different with my kids. Heck, before kids, I did not think about it at all. Over the nine years of raising Gemma so far, we have been privy to many varied schools and it has opened my eyes to the many ways of education out there. We travelled extensively when she was a baby. When Gemma was just teeny, she had a nanny on my workdays and then attended a full time Montessori preschool. Here in Australia, she has been in a play based kinder, an early learning centre that transitioned into the private primary school (the “ex-school” we were not happy with) and finally the public school we love. She (and the twins) have afternoons full of extracurricular activities that they have chosen for themselves.


Having the twins showed me that it was not just our brilliant parenting skills, but nature that gave us Gemma, a ten month old speaking her first words and spelling/reading on her own by age three. The twins are so different from their big sister and different again from each other. But it really should not have been a surprise. We are not all the same, getting concepts in the same order through the same methods at the same time. That was the major problem I had with the private school here and what scares me about the new Common Core* (*I am not an expert on this, just reading and having reservations) in the United States. The push for sameness. Their predetermined box to fit in.


We love the school we are a part of now because they foster the inquiry based learning method and respect then individual child. It must be hard to do with 23 or so kids in class, but the teachers manage to meet and exceed the standards by the end of the school year with each child. They get there in their own time.

And I can see that as I have three very different kids at the same school. It is a fascinating micro-experiment in the natural evolution of learning. Kieran has taken to reading much faster than Clover despite she having achieved her higher level of words before him. I can see his personality is quite suited to the learning task. Much like his even bigger sister, Gemma, Kieran follows the rules presented and obsesses over the tasks. He now gets the concept that letters represent sounds and words are just a string of those sounds together. Reading is coming easily now. Clover is much more of a free spirit. She has an amazing memory though so her brain is taking things in as a whole. It is almost like she can’t slow down to sound things out and just guesses the story from words she recognises and the pictures presented alongside the text. Her penmanship is perfect and once she has something , it is locked into her brain.


The twins are an amazing case study for observing individual learning. Two different people born on the same day from the same parents presented with equal curriculum by different teachers. It did not even take one school term to become glaringly obvious (not that it wasn’t clear before) that people learn at varied rates and in disparate manners. How could the “one size fits all” education system succeed for the kids? It must be built to fail some, bore others and find the middle ground. We don’t want our kids to be failures, disinterested or even just average. We want them to prosper and find what they love. We want them to shine where they were born to shine!


Luckily we are able to do just that by combining this wonderful (public) school who celebrates not only their teachers taking time off to experience life (Hi Jess! Hi Sally!) but the students too. When families have the chance to travel the world (or even just this huge, gorgeous country), they encourage it even when it means students miss time in the classroom. Opportunity doesn’t always wait for rostered holidays.


When we are home we borrow ideas from homeschooling and unschooling where everyday brings learning with reading maps, math in cooking and so on. We learn on our evening walks and at swimming and on road trips. Games we play from my old school word find books to game apps like Scribblenauts help us polish our spelling skills and build vocabulary. There is just so much out there today to help with learning and that is a privilege of living in this age. As a self taught photographer, it blows me away that today you can buy and immediately download books I wrote on photography directly to your electronic reader of choice. 

In my opinion, education and learning should not just be seen as something that happens from 9-3 on weekdays for 12 or so years, but considered an integral and fluid part of life. There is always something new to learn and with technology, anyone can access information anytime. I find that so exciting. What wonderful possibilities that speaks for not only kids today, but the future.


This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.

The Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 Kids is the tablet that grows with your child. With intuitive Kids Mode, parental settings and a great selection of preloaded apps, it’s the unique tablet for kids that parents will love.


My Flickr Moment.

by sesame on April 19, 2014


It is week 10 over on Let The Wild Rumpus Last. We all met because of Flickr. I have said it many times, Flickr changed my life. 

Today they shared my story. 

See it here on my Flickr Moment.

Thank you to my virtual parent group (it wasn’t and still isn’t just moms!) for getting me through it all beautifully.

Just the other day, Gemma was texting with Madame. How fast a decade goes. I did not just make friends, but my kid did as well.


Sponsored by Samsung and Nuffnang

As I have mentioned before, I have been struggling with my kids’ addiction to technology as of late. I was on the search for some practical ways to control the screen time as well as how I could leverage their love, enthusiasm and natural talent for this sort of play into learning. Only Gemma had her own tablet though and the twins were left to a dvd and/or video games. Samsung sent us their new GALAXY Tab 3 for kids. I am already a devoted Samsung fan girl, so I was excited to see what their tablet was like. 



In our family we are very technologically set. Our calendars are all online and synced to each other, we share books from a digital library on all of our devices and we believe in the good of being up to date with the world. The twins have never really benefited from any of that beyond getting really awesome at playing Angry Birds on my phone in waiting rooms while I run out of other options to keep them quiet. Until now they’ve been too young for much else. Honestly, I did not want to fill up my phone with games and learning apps and then have to deny them access as I needed to use my phone. I was concerned about over usage if we bought them their own tablet. I was also worried that they would only play games. 


Samsung knows these issues and has built this tablet to both alleviate the worries of parents and engage the kids! The tablet itself is bright and comes with its own removable tough rubber casing to protect its edges against bumps and excited handling. It is designed to open in Kids Mode where the screen is set up with only the apps and games the parents allow their children to use. Everything is password protected so that the parents are in complete control. Since it arrived on a Friday, I allowed the twins to really play with it without many restrictions over the weekend. I let them test every app and game that was appropriate for their age. I’m glad I did because I discovered that one of the Samsung apps that came preinstalled on the tablet (Inventions 1 & 2) was a huge hit. This is a building app where the child has to figure out and put together a virtual device to solve a problem. It takes imagination and ingenuity. It isn’t an easy app and I was extremely surprised and pleased to find that they were very good at it. Of course I’ve also loaded their favourite games but here’s what I really love. 


The parental controls can be customised so that the tablet can be used for certain set amount of time and when the time is up they get a friendly little warning from a cartoon character one minute before it gently turns off instead of me, their mother, screaming for them to put it down for the 14th time. When the timer went off, Kieran ran to me with the tablet and said that “a little dog” told him time was up and he was going to do something else. There was no stomping of disappointed little feet, nor rolling of angry little eyes. He was happy about it. I was pleasantly surprised, but I guess coming from a happy little cartoon dog on the screen is much better than when it comes from me. I wonder if I can program it to tell the twins to eat their vegetables as well? Or clean their room?! I digress, back to what the thing can do! 




Another time control I have implemented is that the device can only be used during certain times of day so that there is no temptation to play on it while they should be doing something else like getting ready for school. It is only on from 4-6pm which is homework or chill out time in our house. There is no more arguing with me. No matter how much they plead or try to get away with it anyway, the tablet is off until it isn’t and I am not really in control of that in their eyes. I don’t have to be the bad guy this time. That tablet doesn’t fall for any of their tactics. 

With the parental settings, I am also completely relaxed knowing that the twins can’t get to the internet, accidentally delete anything important nor access any areas where purchasing virtual stuff with real money happens. 

It is so easy and quick to configure what apps they are allowed to use. Ticking a simple check box is all it takes to add it to the menu available to them in Kids Mode. (It comes preloaded with eight best selling kids apps, but you can also download and install more from the kids app store! We bought a few from there and downloaded some I had already purchased from the Google Play store.) The checkbox system of app control has come in handy after I discovered they were quickly becoming addicted to one game. While I wanted them to use the tablet to practice some reading words, they would click back over and start playing that other game. Instead of having to uninstall it, I just logged into the parent control panel and un-ticked the box next that app. I have now decided that since it is so easy to manage this way, I would turn off all the silly games during the week leaving them only with the fun learning apps until the weekend. Now I know when they get their 20 minutes of screen time after school, it is put to educational use!

The new GALAXY Tab 3 for kids has the ability to turn into a normal tablet for adults, but this one will stay just for the kids. I like that they have their own device. While the twins will get a lot of use out of the Kids Mode, the tablet can change with their needs and interests. If you are considering buying this for a child at the older end of the age range, you will not be stuck with something they outgrow.  

The Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 for kids fills the exact requirements of the playful learning device I was looking for while being the toy that the twins are excited to spend time on.

Note to parents of multiple children: I did buy a headphones splitter for the tablet as the twins like to sit together and watch each other play. With the headphone splitter, it is easier to get them to “share” the one tablet as they feel they are still involved during the other’s turn.


Of course, I can’t review this with my kids without talking about the camera, now can I? While its resolution is not something that I would be able to use for myself, it is perfect for the twins! The built in stickers that they can add to people had them laughing for a long time. I have not added any extra editing apps to the tablet although I did install Instagram on the “adult” side so that I could share their hilarious creations. Samsung has made taking photos even more fun for my kids!

It was only fair... It was only fair that I let them photograph me too. Right?

To stand a chance of winning a $100 Google Play voucher*, please tell me in a comment below:
“How would the Samsung GALAXY Tab 3 for kids fit in your life?”

Get in quick as the contest closes on 25 April!


*This is a game of  skill and entries will be judged based on creativity and originality. Open to Australian residents only. Entries open 9:01am AEDT on Monday 14 April 2014 and close 5:00pm AEDT on Friday 25 April, 2014. Terms and Conditions apply. Please click here for full Terms and Conditions.


Dreamworks comes to Melbourne

by sesame on April 13, 2014

Week nine for Let The Wild Rumpus Last is here and I submitted a frame from my mom/daughter date with Gemma to the DreamWorks Animation exhibition at ACMI.  It is always such a pleasure to spend some one on one time with each kid. The kids love those outings as well since they don’t have to fight for my complete attention. After hearing that the kids gala would be a bit crowded and busy, I decided it might be a bit much for Kieran. I am glad that he stayed home as it was so loud and super squishy. We had a blast though and the throng thinned out enough for us to easily enjoy the whole exhibit. Fantastic for kids, it is open now until October 5th. Make sure you take a virtual ride on Toothless the dragon, that was my favourite part.



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I am finding out that there is a moment around five and a bit when the baby really fades from the child. Sure, there are still other moments, but for the most part I turn around and see a kid where I could swear I just put my infant down. 

Now, I don’t remember it happening so dramatically with Gemma. Then again, when she was that age there really were babies in the house. Two of them just learning to walk in the opposite direction of each other. I think I was a bit distracted. There are moments now with Gemma when I clearly see that her kid years are speeding towards teen territory. I’m not rushing her to grow up, but moments like the one this week when buying her new boots for autumn, I realised that next year we will be shopping for her shoes in the ladies department.  

And so I photograph. I record. Like tonight when I carried another load of laundry upstairs to be folded and saw that Clover’s hair had apparently grown about 3 inches when my back was turned. 


I’m just thankful I get to experience it all and when these fresh moments are forgotten, I will have these photographs to remind me.


As soon as we drove out of quarantine check upon arrival in Tasmania, we were on the road. If you missed that post it was the first in this series, so click to start there.

Christmas-Hills-Raspberry-Farm-Cafe A beautiful breakfast had been scheduled for us at the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm & Cafe. It was just under an hour’s drive from the dock in Devonport, so with the promise of coffee to fuel me, we headed there. This area at the north of Tasmania has organised a beautiful food and beverage tour filled with nearly two dozen option for you to drive between called the Cradle To Coast Tasting Trail. Our navigation system had a bit of a hard time finding the farm, but it is just off the main road, so easy to see once we got there. What a delicious way to start the trip! I had myself one of the famous raspberry lattes and the kids all had raspberry smoothies. The breakfast menu was big, so I asked them to bring me what they thought was the best thing on the menu. While we no longer eat bacon (I forgot to ask for it not to be included), I did have to admit that it smelled amazing and tasted great. The kids ate my bacon in the end. We were so full and the wonderful staff helped us get orientated to the area. They suggested we try to spot the platypus in their lake, but either we scared it away or the paddy melon that startled the kids did! No platypus spotting for us, but a lovely walk around the grounds before getting back in the car and heading off to see some cheese made! The Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm and Cafe is open every day of the week and a place not to be missed on your drive around Tasmania!

Ashgrove-cheese Not far back up the road towards Devonport is the Ashgrove Cheese. We had a quick look inside for some tasting and watching. The kids were really anxious to get to the Freycinet Lodge where we were to stay that night and I knew it would be a pretty fair way, so we hit the road again.
Tasmania-with-kids It was a lovely day for a drive. We had fun admiring the scenery and spotting Tasmanian wildlife. A quick stop in Campbell Town for food, the loo and a run around the park before heading over the hills towards Great Oyster Bay and on to the Freycinet Peninsula. We did stop one more time to stretch our legs and Gemma found that the ground was covered in shells, so we knew we were close. 
Tasmania-with-kids I am really glad we decided to head right to Freycinet Lodge that day as we only had one night there. As it turns out, it was a goldmine for photography and an excellent spot for the kids to play in nature with just their imagination to entertain them. After dropping our bags off in the unit, we headed down the path behind the lodge and onto Honeymoon Bay. It was deserted and after getting their clothes soaked, the kids changed into bathing suits despite the chill in the air (and in the water) they splashed themselves into exhaustion. I took pictures and just enjoyed watching them enjoy themselves. I was even too tired to cook dinner in the kitchenette, so I just picked up a few delicious meals for us from the Bistro at the lodge and took them back to eat in our cabin.
Tasmania-with-kids The accommodation was beautiful. A perfect blend of rustic luxury. There are no televisions in the cabins, but the bath was huge and there was a stereo with beautiful music… So relaxing. With everyone tucked into their beds, we had a great sleep before the day that turned out to be our longest drive. Ever.
Don’t forget, the lodge is in a national forrest so if you drive your own vehicle there, you do have to pay for and display a permit. Here is more information on the National Parks Passes for Tasmania.

Stay tuned for our adventure over Cradle Mountain and two days in the west…


Week 8 and a wee problem.

by sesame on April 5, 2014

A wee problem indeed.


Smalls is just too small still to make it through every night dry. She really is just a slight thing and apparently this is quite the common issue. I am not telling tales out of school here to embarrass anyone, but to start a discussion about why on earth the changeable bed protectors are so bleeping expensive. When I was little, my mother had some very unfancy but effective rubber pads she topped the sheets with and that was it. Now when I went to buy some similar things for Clover, I was confronted with a scant two different brands both with options to buy ONE overly packaged, multi layered piece of hype for nearly $70 PLUS SHIPPING. I will need two as I am not going to be doing laundry in the middle of the night to pop the one pad I could afford back on. Eventually I found one of those on sale for $50.00 in a store. No shipping, bargain, huh? And it also came with a kit featuring a program and a chart!

Hogwash. Here is my program (after ensuring all is physically well): Don’t make a big deal out of it, support her until she grows out of it just like my mother did for me and in the mean time have a stack of rubber mats to rotate so you don’t have to change an entire top bunk (filled with more stuffed animals that real ones on the ark) at 3 in the morning.  

So, I bought a big bathmat. One side is completely rubber coated. If it works, I will go and buy some more to swap out in the middle of the night. They are a whole lot comfier than what my mother used in the 70′s and a lot less expensive than what is out there to buy today. Those two companies make a point to install some fear in buying anything else out there because it might not be BPA free or what have you. I would just like to remind them that my child will be lying in pee on top of their mat, so who the F cares. 

*rant over*

You know who does care? Clover’s sweet little twin brother. He is so darling and waited outside the unplanned early morning shower for her holding a towel. She got out and he wrapped it around her so she would not be cold. My heart exploded into a billion happy pieces. The fact that my camera was right there at 6AM was a beautiful thing.

Here is an outtake from the morning and don’t forget to go and check out the rest of the images on the collaborative blog that I am a part of weekly this year, Let The Wild Rumpus Last!


 Have you found a less expensive option for something and felt awesome for it? Share!


Not playing favourites.

by sesame on April 2, 2014

With three kids it is hard to share images of them on here equally. It isn’t that I am playing favourites, it is just that there are periods of time where one child over the others fancies being in front of the camera. Right now it is Clover who loves being documented. So while you might see more of her here, on Let The Wild Rumpus Last and on my Instagram, I swear I am not playing favourites!


I hope that when we look back on the photographs of our life as a young family there will be an overall balance of the kids. I think the cat might be feeling a bit left out though.



Tasmania trip part one :: Getting there (and back) on the Spirit of Tasmania

April 1, 2014

A friend was coming to visit from America and she loves a good road trip. After having spent a week traveling around Tasmania last year, I thought it would be the perfect getaway. I was excited to take her there, but unfortunately she had to cancel her Australian visit due to a family emergency. With […]

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Nikon Df, not just for hipsters!

March 27, 2014

When Nikon revealed the Df, I have to admit that I rolled my eyes. It just seemed to be following the trend of making digital cameras look like the old film cameras merely so that the new era of old school photographers would buy them to wear like really awkward jewellery. A chrome and black […]

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