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Halifax’s Family Magazine

February 2017

Tripping up Tips for families who love to travel

Balancing act How to successfully mix parenthood and entrepreneurship

+ getting the goods

face to face • book reviews

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February 2017

9 Enter the annual We Love Our Teachers contest!

features 14 Tripping up Family vacations make memories—here’s how you avoid the challenges that come from travelling with children

16 Out and about Looking for fun, family-friendly outings in the city? There’s lots to see and do in Halifax this winter

24 Getting the goods Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Get the kids involved and make it a fun and healthy learning experience

26 T he ABCs of catching your ZZZs… Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health. There are ways to ensure you sleep soundly every night


departments 07 Editor’s note 09 Contest Our annual We Love Our Teachers contest is back! Nominate your teacher today

10 First bell Events, new products, trends, and more

12 Student Correspondent One student shares her experience of working as a peer helper at her school

20 Face to face Owning a small business while raising kids requires patience, passion, and boundaries

28 Photos A look at what’s happening at schools around the Halifax Regional School Board.

30 Book reviews

Our Children | February 2017

contest: Ready, set, read! Get your class together r new reading contest and win a party!

There’s a lot to see and do in Halifax this winter


SPRING FUN! Registering Now For Our March Break Camp!


On our cover Families can pack in the fun and memories while on vacation. We have the advice to make your trips a success. (Pictured on the cover: Brennan Fukes) Photo: Steve Smith/VisionFire

There’s so much to do at the Sackville Sports Stadium and with the new expansion of programs there’s even more!! Registration for all Spring 2017 programs will begin on Monday, March 20th at 7:00am!

Swim Lessons

Messy Play

Aquatic Kiddie Capers

Busy Bodies


Funology Science Art

Run, Jump, Roll

Summer Camps

For a complete listing of programs, please visit our website or phone us at 902-869-4141!

Publisher Patty Baxter Senior Editor Trevor J. Adams Editor Suzanne Rent Contributing Editor Janice Hudson Art Director Mike Cugno Production Coordinators Emma Brennan and Mike Roy Printing Advocate Printing & Publishing Contributors Starr Dobson Hannah Forest Heidi Tattrie Rushton Edie Shaw-Ewald For advertising sales and editorial and subscription enquiries: Tel. 902-420-9943 Fax 902-429-9058 2882 Gottingen Street Halifax, Nova Scotia B3K 3E2

Our Children | February 2017

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher.


Return undeliverable addresses to Metro Guide Publishing at the address above.


Spring / Summer 2017 PD Day, March Break & Summer Camps Our Children is a Metro Guide publication.



Suzanne Rent, Editor

On Facebook: Our Children Magazine

On Twitter: @Suzanne_Rent @OurChildrenMag

What memories are made of I remember well the first time I took my daughter on a plane. She was almost six and we were heading to Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the small French archipelago off the south coast of Newfoundland. The plane was a tiny eight-seat Cessna—pretty much a small bus with wings and less legroom. I’d been on small planes before, so I was prepared for the bumps and cramped space. My daughter had no fear during the 1.5-hour flight. But as expected, less than half an hour into the flight, she asked the question asked by millions of kids everywhere in the history of travelling with their families: “Are we there yet?” In this issue, contributor Heidi Tattrie Rushton shares tips on how to make travelling with your kids easier for the entire family. She shares, too, details on what paperwork you will need when travelling internationally. See page 14. This is all key information to have that will make your trip a more efficient and stress-free one. My daughter and I got to Saint Pierre safely, after a rough landing in heavy fog that covered the runway and the entire island like a thick blanket. She was no worse for the wear, however, and held my hand across the aisle of the plane. It was small enough for that.

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Of our trip, my daughter remembers falling on an uneven sidewalk and cutting her bottom lip. Once in a while she will point to the scar she still has. But still, we got to have crepes, take boat rides, and visit bakeries where we indulged in pastries and French bread. She remembers, too, the owner of the bed and breakfast where we stayed who said she was “très belle.” A lovely compliment is always a good memory. My daughter is my adventure buddy and since that trip, we have travelled to other destinations, including New York City. We are constantly on road trips, especially during warmer months, and she still asks, “Are we there yet?” Some things never change. And if you’re not travelling this March Break, we have ideas for you too (see page 16), including plenty of free and fun family activities taking place around the region. Families don’t have to go far to find adventure and fun and to create memories with their children. Be warned though, “Are we there yet?” knows no geographical boundaries. Kids’ understanding of time is limited but travelling is a good way for them (and parents) to learn patience and how to go with the flow. We’d love to hear stories of your family’s travels. As always, send your feedback and story ideas to

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Our Children | February 2017



BE A GAME CHANGER. Invest in my future. Your future. Our future. I’m young. You’re smart. #HireMeHalifax


NEW contest

We Love Our Teachers! “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” - MalalaYousafzai

Send us the name of a teacher who has contributed to your school experience in an exceptional way, telling us how you were affected. We want to celebrate the fantastic teachers in all of our schools, but only one can win. Make sure it’s your special teacher we hear about. Atlantica Hotel & Marina at Oak Island will treat the winning teacher and a guest to a night’s stay, breakfast, and a spa treatment. Email or mail Our Children Magazine, 2882 Gottingen St., Halifax, N.S. B3K 3E2 We’ll draw a winner on Friday, March 24, 2017


First bell

Go digital! This March Break, create animations and original video games with characters that can jump, dig, mine, and craft weapons to battle scary monsters. Instead of playing games, Artech campers go behind the scenes and learn how to create and program their own games. Unique to Artech is the infusion of art activities with STEM learning: inspiring creative problem solving and promoting digital literacy. Kids seven through teen years will benefit from the one-to-six instructor to camper ratio. Each child receives quality instruction time. or call 902-579-3317.

Become an Atlantica Adventurer Reinvent your sense of adventure at Atlantica Oak Island Resort & Conference Centre. Located 45 minutes from Halifax, this seaside resort features comfortable accommodations, exceptional dining in La Vista restaurant, indoor swimming pool, spa, and a host of amenities for the entire family. The resort will host weeklong activities during March Break that will keep the kids busy. Check out the bonfires and s’mores and more. Special packages and themed weekends are offered throughout the winter and spring.

Did you know? •A  n

estimated 100 million (1 in 6) children in the developing world are underweight.

Our Children | February 2017

•A  n


estimated 795 million (1 in 9) people in the world do not have enough food to eat.

•6  6

million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world.

•U  nder

nutrition is the cause in 45 per cent of deaths amongst children under five (3.1 million children each year).

Chalice, a children’s sponsorship program based in Bedford, N.S., works to fight these statistics. Chalice offers a children’s nutrition program in Africa and Latin America. It provides funds to run breakfast and lunch programs, build greenhouses at schools, and provide workshops on proper nutrition and hygiene.

Set the stage Does your child stand on the coffee table and sing into a hairbrush microphone? Run around the house wearing blankets for capes? Let them explore their dramatic sides and learn performing skills at fun-filled Neptune Theatre School March Break camps. Teachers share their acting and musical skills with the stars of tomorrow in a playful week of inspiration and creativity for children aged 4 to 12. Camps run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Shambhala School, 5450 Russell Street, Halifax.

Care for kids Kids & Company has been providing high-quality and flexible childcare and early learning since 2002. The cofounders, Victoria Sopik, a mother of eight, and Jennifer Nashmi, a mother of three, know the delicate balance of raising children while balancing and blending their work life. Kids & Company has five centres in Nova Scotia offering superior care. There are more than 90 centres coast to coast if families are travelling on business or pleasure and require short-term care.


For more information or a tour, contact Dorothy Morphy at or 902-229-8494.

4Cats is a professional arts studio for children and adults. They offer after-school and weekend art classes, workshops for children, mini sessions for children and adults, family workshops, adult workshops, March break, summer and winter camps, PD day camps, corporate team-building events, adult parties, and children’s birthday parties. Our most popular party is the Jackson Pollock-inspired, paintsplatter party. You can throw paint and not worry about the consequences. They offer a wide variety of themed painting, colourful polymer clay, and fired-clay parties. Whichever masterpiece you choose to create, you can’t go wrong; each one is so much fun.

Our Children | February 2017

Cool cats


Student correspondent

A friend in need One student shares her experience of working as a peer helper at her school By Hannah Forest

Being a peer helper is one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I am so grateful to be able to share my outlook on peer helping with all of you. Peer helpers was a program at my elementary school. This program was extracurricular, but it did take up a bit of school time. Mrs. Karen Pothier, a teacher at my elementary school, coordinated the peer helper team. Being a peer helper meant a whole new opportunity to do something really good for kids in my school. Peer helpers are outside during recess. They are there if you need to talk to someone, and are having a really rough day. Peer helpers do peer mediation, which means if you’re having a conflict with a friend, the peer helper assists in fixing the problem. Peer helping is a way to prepare for real-life conflicts.

Our Children | February 2017

I am now in junior high and peer helpers helped me find a more positive outlook on life. I have learned that, as there are two sides to every fairytale, there are two sides to every conflict. I think peer helping has opened me up to a more colourful and understanding world. I can now tell when I hurt someone’s feelings, even if it’s just supposed to be a joke, and can apologize very quickly.


“I have learned that, as there are two sides to every fairytale, there are two sides to every conflict.” I remember on my first day of peer helpers training, I was so nervous. I had no clue if any of my friends were even going to be in the program. I walked into the room and saw so many of my friends, but I also saw so many people I hadn’t met yet. After the first day of training, I actually felt closer to my peers and more responsible. But after a while, I got really stressed out. I felt like all my peers were doing better than I was, and I was seriously thinking about quitting. We had another meeting soon, and I was still feeling like quitting the team, until our first topic was brought up. Mrs. Pothier asked, “Who is feeling stressed?” Almost everyone, including me, raised their hands. I felt better because one of the biggest lessons that peer helpers taught me is that you’re never alone. There is always at least one person in the world that feels exactly as you do. There are so many reasons why this program is amazing and helpful. If any schools want to help students get closer to their peers, this is definitely the right program. Hannah Forest is a Grade 6 student at Sackville Heights Junior High School. She is a former member of peer helpers and enjoys singing and performing.

Who you are is what they need. Foster parents are diverse. And like you, many have children. Your experience, your caring and nurturing and the stability of a loving family can provide a child with a safe, supportive home when they really need one. Visit or call 1-800-565-1884 to find out about an information session in your community.

Cover story

Tripping up

Family vacations make memories—here’s how you avoid the challenges that come from travelling with children By Heidi Tattrie Rushton Photos by Steve Smith, VisionFire

Our Children | February 2017

Laura Snow, of Waverley, N.S., is a freelance writer and mom to two daughters, ages 12 and 14. She and her husband started taking their children on trips with them when they were infants. She says that by now they have experienced almost every travel challenge you could imagine.


“We have been stuck in traffic for three hours in New Jersey when the girls were nine and 11, got lost in Ontario using my car’s outdated GPS when they were 10 and 12, have had car diaper explosions and delayed flights,” Snow says. Her favourite story involves forgetting her youngest daughter’s blanket at the airport when the family was travelling to Florida to visit her grandmother. “We called and called but no one could find it,” Snow says. “[My daughter] wasn’t going to sleep well without it so my grandmother and I went to Walmart, bought stuffing and material and hand sewed her a new one.” They’ve been all over North America together; Snow says the biggest lesson they have learned is to approach travel challenges with a calm attitude. “Plans change often when

Keep your kids smiling by keeping them involved in the planning process of the family trip.

you’re travelling with kids,” she says. “It’s best to learn to go with the flow.” This approach has taught their children to be adaptable in unexpected situations. But for many children, trips to unfamiliar places, using unfamiliar methods of transportation, trigger stress and anxiety. Dr. Anna Campbell, a registered clinical psychologist at the IWK Health Centre, has some suggestions on how to prepare children. She says families should start with having a conversation about the trip. She suggests reviewing the different things that will happen while travelling can help reduce anxiety about unfamiliar events and situations. “Often, when kids are anxious, they may generate lots of possible, and often unlikely, negative scenarios,” she says. “Once parents are aware of the worries that are fueling the anxiety, they can talk to their children about other possible outcomes, how they may cope with feared scenarios, and help them develop some calming statements.”

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More travel tips for families: Gradually exposing the child to the source of their fear can help, too, such as visits to the airport to see planes taking off and landing or looking at photos and videos of their destination.

•P  hotocopy all legal documents and leave a copy with someone at home.

Campbell suggests teaching children some relaxation strategies before the trip such as deep breathing, imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation. Also, keep children’s schedules on track as much as possible during travel.

• Consider getting travel insurance in case an unexpected event derails a trip.

• Notify credit card providers of travel plans.

To learn more about the documents required when travelling internationally with children, visit

Families who are travelling without both legal parents or guardians require a Consent Letter For Travelling Abroad from the parent who is not with them. Information about travelling internationally with children can be found on the Global Affairs Canada website. Samples of the consent letter are on the website, too (see sidebar). Skidmore also suggests talking to a travel agent professional about the destinations www www and accommodations that are best for families and getting the children involved in the preparations.

“Children, like adults, are better able to cope with anxiety when their physical needs are well taken care of,” she says. “Focus on ensuring your child “Don’t just make plans for the whole continues to get the same amount of sleep they require at family,” Snow says, “Try to get the home, and focus on encouraging healthy meals and snacks kids involved in the process. It will while travelling.” teach them how to read maps, the Working with a travel agent is one way to ensure a trip is able to cost of travel, how to choose a good keep that schedule in check as much as possible. Nicole Skidmore hotel, which museums everyone is is a certified travel professional with GOwithHIPPO Travel. interested in and why. There are many ways to make travel more educational “If you can only travel a certain time of year, or are seeking direct flights or are set on a location or room category, booking and your whole family will enjoy the activities more if they have some input early will give you the most options,” she says. She also suggests if a long flight is unavoidable, families should consider into what you choose to do.” an overnight flight so children can sleep on the plane. Families may also need to gather legal documents or fulfill certain health requirements, such as immunizations, before international travel. A travel clinic such as the one in Burnside, which is run by Capital Health, can help with those requirements, too. “Passports are the most important travel documents when travelling internationally,” Skidmore says. “I recommend your passport be valid for at least six months on return as some countries will not allow entry if your passport expires within those six months.” She also recommends getting any necessary visitor visas before entering the country to avoid border delays. Also, find out if you need an international driver’s licence, if you plan on renting a vehicle.


Out and


Looking for fun, family-friendly outings in the city? There’s lots to see and do in Halifax this winter

Our Children | February 2017

By Suzanne Rent


Creative spaces

Discovering the natural world

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Hollis Street is the place to go to learn about the province’s arts and culture. Exhibitions include Confederation: 150 Years, 23 Prime Ministers (running until March 26) and Autism Arts, celebrating the artistic talents of young people. The Maud Lewis Gallery is a must-see whenever you visit the AGNS. The kids will love Maud’s tiny home, decorated with her colourful and whimsical paintings. The gallery is closed on Mondays; admission is free on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

At the Museum of Natural History, learn about Nova Scotia’s history, including its archaeology, ethnology, and geology. Running until April 9 is Here Be Dragons, which explores the myths, literature, culture, and folklore about these creatures. You can easily spend hours at Science on a Sphere, learning about our Earth, including live weather, shipping routes, air traffic, and ocean currents.

Stories of seafaring Game on! With more than 500 games in stock, the Board Room Game Café is for families who love their board games. For $5, you can play all you want. Staff “game bosses” can help guests navigate the rules of many of the games. Minors must leave by 6 p.m., though. There are locations in Bedford and on Barrington Street.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic shares stories of our region’s rich seafaring history. Check out exhibits on the Halifax Explosion, Titanic, and the Franklin Expedition. Welcome Wednesdays are perfect for young families, daycares, and first-time visitors can explore the museum and take part in fun, hands-on activities. Say hello to Merlin, the Rainbow Macaw who is an unofficial mascot of the museum.

A new space for science Now in its fabulous new location on Lower Water Street, The Discovery Centre has more science and activities to explore. The new space houses five galleries, an open atrium, an innovation lab, a Travelling Exhibits Gallery, and the first Immersive Dome Theatre in the region.

Go for a swim With a leisure pool, competition pool, toddler pool, sprinklers, and waterslides, at the Canada Games Centre in Clayton Park there is something for every swimmer. Parents can relax in the hot tub and sauna, too. The Captain William Spry Community Centre in Spryfield houses the wave pool, which has four lanes, two slides, and lots of waves. Other pools in the city include Centennial Pool, Dartmouth Sportsplex, and Cole Harbour Place. Find details on all regional pools at

Stars on ice

History on a hill

Flying high Imagination takes flight at the Shearwater Aviation Museum just at 12 Wing Shearwater. The aircraft collection includes planes such as the iconic Snowbirds, an Avenger, and a Banshee. Browse exhibits of uniforms, and an interactive a T-33 cockpit. Open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free year-round.

The fortress atop Citadel Hill dominates the downtown core. Some of the visitor experiences are limited during winter, but you can still visit the grounds and step back into the city’s history. Remember: Parks Canada is offering free admission to all National Parks and some National Historic Sites in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Our Children | February 2017

The Oval is not just a place to skate during the winter months, but a friendly and fun meeting place for friends and family. Stay safe; all children 12 and under must wear a CSA multiimpact helmet. Users can borrow helmets, hockey skates, figure skates, speed skates, and sledges free (with photo ID) on site. If you can’t make it to the Common, HRM arenas are often open for public skates.



Sky explorers

Back to the wild The Shubenacadie Wildlife Park is actually open year round. Stroll along the paths over 16 hectares where animals such as moose and otters have a full-time home. Winter hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can even book a night tour to see how the animals behave after dark. Winter admission is cheaper, too.

In a room at the physics department at Dalhousie University, there is a chance to see the stars. On every second Thursday, the Halifax Planetarium hosts shows that explore our universe. The dome that houses the planetarium seats about 30, so book quickly. Costs are minimal and shows are not for children under 8. Dates and times for public shows are posted at the Astronomy Nova Scotia site:

Lens lookers

Our Children | February 2017

Hit the hills


Stargazers can also explore the skies at the Burke-Gaffney Observatory at Saint Mary’s University. These free tours are offered the second and fourth Friday nights of each month and start at 7 p.m. Space is limited, so sign up early. And admission is free. For details on open houses, visit

If you have snow, a hill, and a sled, you have free and instant fun. Halifax and surrounding areas have plenty of great places to take your toboggan for a slide. Brave the notorious slope of The Pit off Novelea Avenue in Halifax’s North End. Or try the hills at the Ashburn Golf Club near Fairview. Tobaggan Hills offers a great roundup of the best places to toboggan:

Courtside fun Halifax’s basketball team, Halifax Hurricanes, put on a great show for families. Check out exciting action in the National Basketball League of Canada, Atlantic Division, between the Hurricanes and regional teams from Cape Breton, Moncton, P.E.I., and Windsor, Ont. There’s only one game scheduled for during March Break, but the team is on the floor at the Scotiabank Centre until the end of April.

Furry friends Families and kids that love animals can take a tour of the shelter of the SPCA in Burnside. Visit the kitten and cat rooms for some snuggles or take one of the dogs for a walk around

Walk back in time

the neighbourhood. Note: dog walkers must be 16 years of age, but children can help with the treats. This is also a great way to learn more about the responsibility of having a pet.

Between 1928 and 1971, Pier 21 was the first point of entry for millions of newcomers to Canada. Their decision to come to the country changed its landscape. Now, the Canadian Museum at Pier 21 on Halifax’s waterfront celebrates their history and contributions. Exhibits share first-person stories, learn about migration patterns, or dress up in period costumes. Hours vary through the week, so check the website for details.

The experience that lasts a


Celebrating sports heroes

Turn the page With a branch in just about every major neighbourhood, Halifax Public Libraries is a central spot for any family. Many branches have programs such puppet shows, reading programs, guest speakers and more. The Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road is worth the visit just for the architecture. Programs vary depending on the branch, so visit the website to find out what’s happening at your local branch.

The YMCA of Greater Halifax/ Dartmouth Early Bird registration WE HAD SO MUCH FUN THIS SUMMER AT BIG COVE!

for summer 2017 is now open!

Summer Camp for girls and boys aged 6–17 Outdoor Centre school trips for classes of grades 5–12

Our Children | February 2017

The Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in the Scotiabank Centre celebrates the best athletes and sports stories in the province’s history. Browse displays the celebrate the achievements of the hall’s many inductees. A theatre highlights some famous moments in Nova Scotia sports history. Take your shot at the sports simulator. Or visit the Sidney Crosby exhibit that includes the famous clothes dryer Crosby used for shooting practices. Admission is free.


Face to face

Mixing business

and parenting

By Suzanne Rent


Owning a small business while raising kids requires patience, passion, and boundaries

These moms are also entrepreneurs and shared their experiences. From left, Anita Kirkbride, Colleen O’Dea, Mary Ann Marriott, Eryn Steele, Sarah Arnold, Melinda Cameron, and Laura Poirier.

Our Children recently spoke with several moms who are entrepreneurs about owning their own businesses, how they balance it with parenting, and what advice they’d give to other moms who want to work on their own. Anita Kirkbride is the owner of Twirp Communications, a speaker, trainer, and social media consultant. She has two young daughters. Colleen O’Dea is a blogger, graphic designer, and owner of Curtains Are Open and Drawbridge Creative. She has three children. Mary Ann Marriott aka Doctor Debt helps individuals create healthy finances and coaches entrepreneurs on ways to increase their income. She has two teenage children.

Our Children | February 2017

Eryn Steele, Sarah Arnold, and Melinda Cameron are partners in Halifax Learning. Sarah is the founder, Eryn is the general manager, and Melinda is the program director. Sarah and Melinda each have one daughter, and Eryn has a young son.


Laura Poirier is the owner of Nova First Aid, which offers first-aid programs. She has two daughters. What were the early challenges? Mary Ann: Well, money. I gave up a job and my salary to do it. [start my own business]. There are issues with your spouse when you do that. They are supportive, but not always that supportive when the money drops. Sarah: Time management and sanity management. Making sure you’re going to bed at the end of the night and feeling as “you” as you can. How do I make sure I am doing the best job I can to realize the potential of the business and how am I going to make sure my children have everything they need, too?

How do you balance the business and home life, especially when you’re working from home? Colleen: Balance is tough. To be honest, in November I hired someone to clean my house and it was such a shock for me to do that. I couldn’t do it all. Something always gives. We eat a lot of take-out. It’s tough to fit it all in. Mary Ann: Separate your workspace. For me it was upstairs. I can go up and close the door. My husband was home, but when you hear your child crying, it’s really difficult not to come down those stairs. Also trusting in your partner. How does being an entrepreneur change your parenting style? Eryn: Creativity. Reading through emails at work or reading through things at work as story time. Then you’re spending quality time with your child and then you’re getting some work done. Colleen: Working from home I can be anywhere. If they have a field trip, yeah, I can go on a field trip. It meant working on a Saturday or Sunday or late at night but I found as a single mom, I managed to get to absolutely everything. There is no me time at the end of the day. But I wouldn’t have that if I was working [outside the home].

Sarah: My daughter is nine now, but she’s been coming to the centre. She’s very much part of the fabric now. How do you all explain to your kids that you have to work right now, especially if you’re working from home? Anita: I am pretty blunt with my kids. My [daughter] asks me all the time why I can ‘t put my phone down, why are you always on the computer, why we are watching TV? I say to her, well, “you know how you want a new laptop, I have to work.” This is what pays the bills. I am really blunt. They know when I am on my computer, I am working. Melinda: My daughter is three right now and it was unnerving when she started to imitate me. She’s get on her laptop, picked up the phone, and was talking to someone. That made me really think about that. It’s tough not to mix your work time with you kid time. Eryn: My son is so little, but he will grow up not knowing anything different. As he gets older, the fact that I am happy and enjoying taking pride in what I do, I am hoping that will make him happier and prideful person as well. Have you all have learned to set boundaries? Sarah: In my position, with the ages of our kids, it gives us a chance to learn from each other. That’s been a really important part of having a partnership like this. We don’t have to learn the hard way for all the hard decisions we have to make.

Anita: When I started it was really difficult. I was probably working 24/7. But I realized I was using it to escape from my life. Now I take most evenings and weekends off. Now I am in a totally different place. I can’t say I set my mind that way. I just don’t need to escape my life anymore. Mary Ann: I think for me it was to not do extra stuff. I tend to volunteer. It was in the last year or so that I made some progress with that. When I was working from home I had a business line, so people weren’t calling my cellphone. Laura: I have a very nine-to-five job. Most of my work is with companies and organizations. So if I am actually teaching that’s it. I do work Saturdays teaching first aid, but I take Sundays off.

Is it hard to manage relationship time when you have a business? Melinda: For my husband it was the same thing as with my daughter. He’d say, “Melinda, you have to look at me when we’re talking. You can’t just be looking at your phone all the time.” I was turning into the person who was zoning out. It’s making that time. Laura: I have a learning disability and ADHD, so if I am looking at my phone I don’t hear someone talking to me. I get my children and my husband to hold my arm, and I put my hand on theirs. And that means I am not ready for you yet, but I know you are there, so I am going to finish what I am doing. Once I am ready, I put it down and I am looking at you.

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155 per night From $135 (based on 2 adults & 2 children under twelve) plus tax including overnight accommodations, breakfast and recreational activities

• Indoor swimming pool • Indoor and Outdoor recreational activities • Bonfires with S’mores • Free Kids’ T-shirts Do your next March Break • Delicious dining at La Vista Restaurant getaway Seaside Different. (where kids under 12 eat free*) Call (800) 565-5075 for details • On-site Aqua Spa AT L A N T I C A O A K I S L A N D . C O M

Our Children | February 2017

Mary Ann: I found I would take my kids to things I did for work. I went to a tea event and I took my daughter with me. You can’t always do that if you’re working.


Face to face For the parents reading this, and they’ve been thinking about starting their own business, what is one piece of advice you would give them? Colleen: You’re stronger than you think. Sometimes you just have to do it. Anita: I like the Wayne Gretzky, quote, “You miss 100 per cent of the chances you don’t take.” So, if you think you’re not going to do it, you’re always going to wonder. If you do it and you fail, oh well, you learned.

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Mary Ann: I would say just do it whether it goes exactly as planned or not. What you take away from that will be so valuable to the rest of your life. It’s worth every tear and every smile.


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Our Children | February 2017

Every issue of Halifax Magazine reaches 43,600 of the city’s most affluent and influential readers









Getting the


Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. Get the kids involved and make it a fun and healthy learning experience

Our Children | February 2017

By Edie Shaw-Ewald


“Adventure” may not be the word that comes to mind when you think of grocery shopping with your child. But with the right preparation and attitude, a grocery store can be a wonderland of learning, challenges, and fun. A visit to the grocery store can help develop a child’s vocabulary, math skills, social skills, knowledge of world geography, biology, nutrition, and cooking. It’s like a museum, classroom, and social scene all rolled into one.

Prep work Before you head out, plan your meals and write out your grocery list so you can focus on the fun side of grocery

shopping with your children. Put some of the items that you need on a separate list. A child can be responsible for finding those items. Older children can choose a recipe, make their own list, find the ingredients in the store, and prepare the recipe when they get home.

At the store Most grocery stores have a basket of fruit in the produce department so children can choose a free piece of fruit to enjoy while you shop. Ask young children to name the colours they see in the rows of bountiful produce. Name the vegetables and fruits as you go

through this section. Be sure to ask them if they would like to choose something new to try at home.

weighs more. Then weigh the produce on the scale to find out how accurate they were in their estimates.

and fish. Discuss non-animal-based foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and tofu, which also have protein.

Show your school-aged children how to find out where the food is grown. Look at the price label for the name of the country. If you bring a small map, locate the country on the map.

Older children can calculate the price of loose produce based on the price per kilogram and using the scale, the weight of the items.

In the aisles where there are more processed foods, explain to your child that the front of the food packaging is the advertisement for the product. You can tell them products with cartoon characters or heroes are usually not healthy.

The produce department is also a great place to talk about nutrition. Discuss how half of our plates should be made up of vegetables and fruit of all different kinds and colours. Your children can also practise math skills such as measuring size, weight, and price. For example, let them hold and compare the weights of a turnip and then a cabbage. Ask them to guess which one

Drop by the seafood department and look at the many kinds of shellfish and fish. Ask the seafood expert to show you the difference between a male and female lobster. Children might even be permitted to touch the lobster. In the meat department, ask children if they know what animal the different cuts of meat are from. You can also discuss the nutrients we get from meat, chicken,

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Spread these activities over your many trips to the grocery store and progress the level of challenge as your child develops and grows. But don’t get too distracted with the fun and forget to pick up the groceries on your list. Edie Shaw-Ewald is a registered dietitian at the Atlantic Supertore.

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Our Children | February 2017

Talk about the foods that are grown in Nova Scotia and why we should buy local produce when possible.

The deli is a great place to experiment with new flavours. Ask for a sample of two different cheeses. Talk about the taste. Is it sharp or mild? Creamy or crumbly?



health and wellness

The ABCs of catching your ZZZs… Sleep is crucial for our physical and mental health. There are ways to ensure you sleep soundly every night By Starr Dobson Since first becoming a parent more than 22 years ago, I stopped being a sound sleeper. I used to be able to snooze my way through a thunderstorm or a neighbour’s loud party music. Then all of a sudden that changed. I started waking up when my son rolled over too loudly in his crib or when my daughter got a case of the hiccups at 2 a.m. I think most parents go through the same experience. It must be instinctual, but it can be difficult to overcome. And if you’re like me, the impact can be draining not just on your physical health, but your mental health, too.

Our Children | February 2017

My daughter, Lily, is 14 years old now. She often finds it difficult to both go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. She’s not alone.


Dr. Alexa Bagnell says sleep is crucial for our overall function, thinking, health, and mental health. As the interim chief of IWK Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, she believes most of our children are sleep deprived. “Sleep is often one of the first things to go and one of the most important things to maintain,” Bagnell says. Fortunately, sleep skills can be taught. Proper sleep hygiene is important for everyone, but even more so for our children. It begins with a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Following the same bedtime steps each night can go a long way toward getting your youngster ready to sleep. A cool, dark, and quiet bedroom is also the key to sleeping success. Then there’s stimulus control, something that’s not as easy as it used to be for most parents. With phones, tablets and laptops

so readily available, many youngsters now rely on screens to put them to sleep. “Many kids have screens in their room and they say I only use them until I’m tired and fall asleep,” Bagnell says. “Yet these very screens keep them up and disturb the natural sleep rhythms that we all need to develop for ourselves and are best to learn as kids!” Regular physical exercise during the day, time spent outdoors, and limited snacks and drinks before bed can help children drift off as well. So how much is enough? The answer might just surprise you. Sleep experts say school-age children (between six—12 years of age) should be getting nine to 12 hours of sleep each night. “It’s probably the most important thing parents have control over,” Bagnell says. “Our children can learn sleep skills and they can improve all health outcomes.” It may sound simple, but we know self-care is vital to mental wellness. Proper nutrition, physical activity, socialization, and sleep are all crucial for our mental health. At the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia we work to change the way people think about many facets of mental illness, mental wellness, and addiction. We know the ability to sleep is an important indicator of overall health. In fact, sleep is one of the categories monitored by several mental health continuum models. A healthy person usually exhibits normal sleep patterns and has few difficulties falling asleep. An injured person will experience restless or disturbed sleep. And an ill person is often unable to fall or stay asleep.

Of course, we will all encounter difficulties with our sleep at one time or another for a variety of reasons, but long-term sleep deprivation can be more troublesome than just causing a few mid-day yawns. “Sleep is so important and parents sometimes feel they can’t help,” says Dr. Bagnell, “but they can.” Now there’s something to sleep on.

Starr Dobson is the president and CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. She’s an acclaimed journalist, best-selling children’s author, and volunteer. She won the Rising Star Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Nova Scotia Chapter in 2015 and the Dr. Elizabeth A. Chard Award from Special Olympics Nova Scotia in 2014.

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Our Children | February 2017

Get inspired with LIVING fabulous decorating, renovation and bright entertaining ideas… with a unique Atlantic Canadian twist.


Photos A look at what’s happening at schools around the Halifax Regional School Board.

These students at Shannon Park Elementary share their first writing project since moving to Canada.

Nothing better than sharing a book. These students at Holland Road Elementary agree.

Our Children | February 2017

Playing the violin in Mr. Froudes’ class at Spryfield Elementary.


Students at Sunnyside Elementary learn about space, which teaches them science, technology, writing, math, and art.

Students at Alderney Drive Elementary practice some Stars Wars-inspired yoga.

Above: Snow Club at John W. MacLeod-Fleming Tower get in the season with handmade snowflakes.

Below: Free Read Friday at Oldfield Elementary.

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Our Children | February 2017

Right: A young artist at Joseph Howe Elementary autographs her work.


book reviews By Trevor J. Adams

Abigail’s Wish Story by Gloria Ann Wesley / Art by Richard Rudnicki Nimbus Publishing Ages 4 to 8 Young Abigail’s excitement is infectious. The 10-year-old has moved to her strange new Nova Scotian home. She’s exploring the countryside, meeting new friends, settling into a new house. But this isn’t a typical kid-learns-not-to-fear-change book: the setting is colonial Nova Scotia, after the American Revolutionary War has ended. The migration will see some 3,000 people move to the province. Abigail and her family settle in Birchtown. Wesley’s writing is sparse and elegant, pairing effortlessly with Rudnicki’s impressionist scenes. Together they create a dreamy sense of being lost in time as a little-told chapter of Nova Scotia’s history comes to life. Readers will quickly warm to young Abigail as she explores, learning about birth and life, family and friendship.

If I Were A Zombie Story by Kate Inglis / Art by Eric Orchard Nimbus Publishing Ages 4 to 8 Perhaps you’re in the mood for something more light-hearted? Some sure-fire, kid-friendly absurdity? Inglis has crafted a joyous imaginative romp, inviting young readers to imagine life as a breakdancing zombie, a mischievous fairy, a space-exploring robot, a citysquashing giant, a stealthy ninja, and much more. The story flows at breakneck pace, with lively and creative writing. Silly stanzas such as “If I were a zombie / I’d package my drool / Put it in Mason jars / Sell it at school” will particularly captivate younger readers. As previous fans of his work will expect, artist Eric Orchard ties it all together with colourful cartoonish scenes. Warm and witty, this book will be much loved.

Our Children | February 2017

PARENTS’ PICK: Stolen Child


By Laurie Gough Dundurn Press An accomplished travel writer and regular contributor to the Globe and Mail, Gough enters her own terra incognita with this nonfiction account of her family’s struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It began when her father died. The news blindsided her 10-year-old son, Quinn. Over a few months, he morphed from a curious and athletic boy into someone his mother didn’t know. He’d fall into deep trances, withdrawn from his parents and the world around him. He became fixated on the notion that with the right rituals, he could resurrect his grandfather. With gentle candour, Gough shares Quinn’s descent and her desperate fight to help him. This book doesn’t claim to tell you all there is about OCD or offer you a silver-bullet cure. It’s a simple, honest, and ultimately hopeful and uplifting account of one terrible year in a family’s life, and their recovery from it.


Make getting noticed a habit.

Our Children Spring 2017  
Our Children Spring 2017