Our Children Spring 2020

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Halifax’s Family Magazine ourchildrenmagazine.ca

Spring 2020

The language of love Understanding how your child asks for love

Roots of empathy

When children become the teachers

Working from home on a snow day A mother’s harrowing tale

plus

Health & Wellness • Nutrition • Book Reviews


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Books to Start a Conversation ail e&M Glob Selection 0 0 Top 1

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A POCKET OF TIME

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I LOST MY TALK

I’M FINDING MY TALK

A FAMILY’S ESCAPE FROM THE ACADIAN DEPORTATION

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Understanding how your child asks for love

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CONTENTS

17 DEPARTMENTS 7 Editor’s note Comfort and connection start at home

8 First bell Events, products, trends, and more

24 Nutrition Fostering a love of cooking in your young ones by bringing them into the kitchen

27 HRCE Meet Halifax Regional Centre for Education's parent navigators

28 Health & Wellness Infuse your daily routine with self-love for a happier, healthier heart

30 Book reviews Our Children reviews The Kids’ Book of Paper Love, Farmer Brown’s Day at the Lake, Say What You Mean (Mean What You Say), and Come Back to Earth, Esther!

PHOTO: ROOTS OF EMPATHY

THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE

Spring 2020

Roots of empathy When children become the teachers

Working from home on a snow day A mother’s harrowing tale

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Contributors Abby Cameron Jill Chappell Heather Laura Clarke Edwena Kennedy Heidi Tattrie-Rushton

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Our Children is a Metro Guide publication.


EDITOR’S NOTE

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Love is in the air

Comfort and connection start at home

I

Tracy Stuart, Editor Our Children Magazine

@OurChildrenMag www

ourchildrenmagazine.ca

tadams@metroguide.ca

www

We can lift hearts with our thoughts, actions, and the love that we share for our family and www one another

www

t’s hard to ignore the turmoil around the world. The news we see daily can make for a heavy heart. But we have to remember that we can be the difference makers in our homes and in communities. If we shift our focus on acts of kindness and love, we can lift the spirits of those around us. When reviewing the safety features on a plane, the flight attendant’s message is clear: in case of an emergency put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others. I think we’d be wise to carry this advice over into our daily lives. Often we get caught up in taking care of other’s needs before ourselves. Imagine how much more energy (and perhaps patience) we’d have for others if we made self-care a priority. Jill Chappell explores this concept in her column “Be kind to yourself” (page 28). When our heart is happy then we can shift our attention to those who are closest to us. Abby Cameron helps us understand “The language of love” (page 13); it’s important to understand that not everyone’s needs are the same when it comes to matters of the heart. Discover what love language the people around you speak so that you can create and foster greater understanding and stronger bonds within your family. Our schools have also identified the importance of love and understanding as the Roots of Empathy program is spreading throughout our education system (and around the globe). Heidi Tattrie Rushton follows the story of baby Tessa (page 17) and how the children at Waverly Memorial elementary school have learned to care for others and think about how their actions make others feel. Through the eyes of a babe we can learn so much about empathy and love. I have discovered that my love language is “quality time” and my cup is overflowing with the number of snow days that we have experienced already this winter. Spending time tobogganing or playing games with my family fills me with joy. Heather Clarke has a different, and relatable for work-from-home parents, story “Working from home on a snow day” (page 21). She

Editor Tracy Stuart with children Olivia and Brooklyn (right).

explores the struggle to balance quality time and getting things done. And nutrition columnist Edwena Kennedy shares her experience (page 24) on how you can actually get things done in the kitchen by involving your children, which ticks two boxes for me. On the next snow day try bringing your little chef into the kitchen to make those special memories. If the kitchen and cooking are not your thing, then perhaps snuggling up with a book on a snow day is? Trevor J. Adams always has great book recommendations up his sleeve (page 30) for a snow day—or any day. If you are looking for other great quality time experiences this winter be sure to check out our First Bell (page 8) section, for information on the latest events happening around town. This winter, despite the rumblings of the world, be sure to remember that we can lift hearts with our thoughts, actions, and the love that we share for our family and one another.


FIRST BELL

Our Children | Spring 2020

By Tracy Stuart

Giddy up

PHOTO: HATFIELD FARM

Hatfield Farm’s Family Round Up is in full swing. Sleigh or wagon rides make their way down the woodland path every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. throughout the winter. Additional March Break times are March 16–22, with departures at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 1 p.m. The experience takes you to a rustic village nestled in the woods. Adventurers may want to race down the zipline or try a round on the mechanical bull. Take time to enjoy the firepit and when you’ve worked up an appetite, lunch will be ready. Enjoy all-you-can eat hotdogs along with a beverage. When planning your trip be sure to arrive 30 minutes early to sign a waiver and to give the children time to enjoy the petting pen. Cost is $15.99 (kids under 2 are free). For more information see hatfieldfarm.ca

Swept away at Cinderella! Set to Prokofiev’s classic score, this magical ballet tells a story of human kindness, perseverance, and optimistic spirit. With a little help from a few fireflies, mice, and garden fairies, Cinderella will make it to the ball and shape her own future using friendship and kindness as her compass along the way. The School of Dance at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts created and choreographed the ballet. Performances at the Spatz Theatre (1855 Trollope St., Halifax) on Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets available through tickethalifax.com.

PHOTO: DISCOVER HALIFAX

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March Break fun at the library The Halifax Public Libraries have a loaded agenda for children of all ages. The Halifax Central library is beginning with the puppet show The Dog & The Leprechaun on March 14. On March 17, kids can create with paint, vegetable prints, stamps, and more (ages 5–12). Jedi Academy begins on March 19: children will enjoy snacks, video games, computers, and training with friends (ages 5–12, costumes encouraged). To wrap up the week join Elsa, Anna, Olof, Kristoff, and Sven and head into the unknown with Disney favourite Frozen 2. For events at the library nearest you refer to halifaxpubliclibraries.ca

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FIRST BELL

Our Children | Spring 2020

The ultimate creative tech camp Artech is set to host the first camp in its creative tech series from March 16–20. Campers will discover dynamic computer programming and design strategies behind their favorite games. They will code and create their own 2D worlds that they’ll present at the end of week show. No experience is necessary; they simply need to go with a creative mind and a be ready to unleash their imaginary potential. The low camper-to-instructor ratio ensures that kids get the attention they need to stay engaged in the design process. It is a full day (9 a.m.–4 p.m.), so campers must bring their own lunches. Register at artechcamps.com.

SPEND SUMMER

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March Break and Summer Camp registration is now

open! Swim, play sports, go on field trips, and make new friends at the Sportsplex. Visit zatzmansportsplex.com for more information.

PHOTOS: ARTECH CAMPS CANADA

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PUZZLED HOW TO WOW THE WHOLE FAMILY THIS MARCH BREAK? The Discovery Centre has the solution with its latest featured exhibit – Beyond Rubik’s Cube – now extended until April due to popular demand! Meet Denso, the cube-solving Robot, take control of a giant 10-foot mechanical model and marvel at the world’s only million-dollar Rubik’s Cube. Explore the Discovery Centre this March Break with brand new live science shows, take-off in a flight simulator, or become starstruck in our Immersive Dome Theatre.


FIRST BELL

902-426-1990 info@halifaxcitadel.ca www.halifaxcitadel.ca

mile! s r u o y Find PHOTO: PAUL MORRIS

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Here come the Hurricanes The National Basketball League of Canada season is well underway, but there is still lots of time to see the hometown hoopsters in action. Scotiabank Centre hosts games on Feb. 13, Feb. 25, Feb. 26, March 4, March 5, March 17, March 18, March 25, and March 26, all at 7 p.m., with the final game of the season slated for April 13 at 2 p.m. Get tickets at TicketAtlantic.com

     

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COVER STORY

Our Children | Spring 2020

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The language of love Understanding how your child asks for love

F

or 16-year-old Lily Reid, changing her family’s Christmas traditions gave her the chance to truly express how she feels love. Her mother Maureen recalls a discussion with Lily and husband Doug about whether it was time to change things up, with just the three of them at home for the holidays. “We debated going away, but decided to stay put,” Maureen says. “If it’s just the three of us, then what does our ideal Christmas day look like? And For the Reid family—Maureen, Doug, Lily, and dog Brooke—learning about love languages was revelatory.

PHOTO: NICOLE LAPIERRE PHOTOGRAPHY

By Abby Cameron


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COVER STORY

Our Children | Spring 2020

Author Gary Chapman believes there is a variety of “languages” people use to express and receive love.

for Lily, it was, ‘I want us all to stay in our pajamas all day, I want us to put a fire on in the fire place, I want us to all watch Christmas movies together and I want us to have a nice meal’.” This wish shows that one of Lily’s primary love language is quality time. After attending an event last year with Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, her mother said she got the affirmation that they were on the right track with their love. Chapman breaks down the concept of love language, reveling in its quaint simplicity. “The basic idea is what makes one person feel loved doesn’t make another person feel loved,” he said. “And, by nature, we express our love in a way that’s meaningful to us and it’s not necessarily the same as another person.” The five love languages include: receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.

Receiving gifts may resonate the most with your child.

All five languages are important, however everybody has a predominant one that they identify with the most. Chapman says if you pay attention to yours, their primary language will show itself. “I think you can determine a child’s primary love language by the time they are four-years-old. The primary one really means learning their behavior, and how they respond to other people.” That behavior can be as unique as the individual child, but it always boils down to the same five languages. Chapman and his wife have two adult children. While they were growing up, the siblings showed drastically different love languages. “My son’s love language is physical touch, when he was [younger], I would come home from work, he would run to the door, grab my leg and climb up on me,” Chapman says. “He’s touching me because he wants to be touched.” His daughter’s language was different. “Our daughter at that age never did that,” he says. “She would say, ‘daddy, come to my room I want to show you something.’ She wanted quality time.” Do you notice your child wanting more hugs? Physical touch is likely their primary language. Are they asking for your help? Acts of service make the most sense. Behaviour isn’t the only clue. Pay attention to what your child says. “Two other ways you can determine [their love language] is what they request of you most often, for example, a child asking, ‘momma can we play?’ ‘Can we play now momma?’ ‘Can you come and play with me mommy?’ They’re asking you for quality time,” says Chapman. Complaints are also revelatory. “A six-year-old might say to his mother, ‘we don’t ever go to the park anymore since the baby came.’ Before the baby, he got quality time with his mother, he got to go to the park and play with her,” he explains. “Now he’s complaining that doesn’t happen. If you go on a business trip and you come home and the child says, ‘you didn’t bring me a surprise?’ They’re telling you that gifts are their language.” Paying attention is key. “If you can put these things together you can pretty much figure out a love language,” Chapman says. For Maureen, it was a confidence boost that her outpouring of love was in the right place with Lily. “For us, I think [attending the seminar] didn’t really change what we were doing, but it reaffirmed that what we were doing met her needs,” Maureen says. “And it also kind of de-emphasized the words of affirmation and physical touch. She hugs us good night every night but she’s not a touchyfeely kid. She likes some personal space. I would have been more inclined to do more gushing with words of affirmation, but…she doesn’t really need it. When it’s appropriate I definitely do, but I don’t make a big daily practice of it.” While a primary love language will present itself for your child, Chapman stresses the importance of showing all five languages. “Those early years give all five, once you do discover their primary, and you give heavy doses of that, you still sneak the other four,” he says. “But, if you give heavy doses of all five, your child will feel loved, because you’re always hitting their primary.” For many parents, these are new concepts. “Most of us did not receive all five growing up,” Chapman says. “We came to adulthood and some of these are not natural for us.”


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Your child may need more physical touch to feel loved, while others may need more acts of service to feel that special bond.


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FEATURE

Our Children | Spring 2020

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Young men often learn that showering people in his life with gifts is what’s important. “As they grew up, they were taught to speak that specific language,” Chapman says. “So when you grow up with the idea that gifts equals love, he then buys gifts for his wife, but that’s not what he wants. He’s doing that because that’s what he was taught to do.” Chapman’s top advice for parents is to learn their own love language. “If both mom and dad are open to the concept, and they can see how important it is to their marriage, then they’re going to see how important it is to their children,” he explains. His advice would be to read the book for couples first, take the quiz to discover each other’s love language, and try speaking it to just see what happens. “I think they’ll see an improvement of the emotional climate in their marriage,” he says, “so when you bring up the concept of children having different love languages, they’ll be highly motivated to make sure their child gets the right language.” This process will set you in the right direction to maximize the love of your child. “The question is not do you love your children,” he says. “The question is: do your children feel loved? Parents are sincere in their love for their child, but there’s some children that aren’t going to feel loved because they aren’t receiving love in their own love language.” Maureen agrees that starting personally was a key factor in understanding the languages of everyone in her family. Her primary love language is acts of service. She recalls telling her husband approvingly about a husband she saw on TV who makes coffee for his wife every morning. “Now when he’s home he does that for me every morning,” she said. “It’s fun when you can get some clarity on what you appreciate the most.” Learn more about love languages, including a quiz to help you identify your own love language, at 5lovelanguages.com.

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FEATURE

Our Children | Spring 2020

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Roots of empathy When children become the teachers

PHOTO: JENNIFER BRACE

By Heidi Tattrie Rushton

Once a month, young Tessa Woodbury visits the Grade Six class at Waverley Memorial Elementary School to help kids learn about empathy.

T

he kids in Jennifer Brace’s Grade Six class are gathered in a circle, quietly watching the day’s guest teacher, Tessa Woodbury, who is lying on the floor mats in the middle of the group. They wait with bated breath as she attempts once, then twice, and finally the third time she successfully rolls from her back onto her stomach. The children let out their collective breath with a soft cheer of excitement and Tessa beams proudly back at them. Tessa Woodbury is seven months old and the daughter of Allison Woodbury in Bedford, N.S. They’re part of the Roots of

Empathy program, visiting Waverley Memorial Elementary School every few weeks to help teach the children about emotional literacy, human development, caring, and inclusion. In this program, the baby is the teacher. Mary Gordon founded Roots of Empathy in Ontario in 1996. It is now offered in every province of Canada as well as 13 other countries, including South Korea, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. It’s a leading empathy-based program for children and has expanded to include a program for early childhood settings, called Seeds of Empathy.


FEATURE

Our Children | Spring 2020

PHOTO: JENNIFER BRACE

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The Roots of Empathy program relies on a team of three core people or groups: a certified instructor who delivers the program curriculum and builds relationships between all of the team members, a Roots of Empathy family that has a baby who is two to four months old at the start of the program, and the schools and teachers that agree to offer the program and support peace-building efforts during classroom time. There is a series of 27 lessons that a certified instructor guides the children through before and after each visit. Janice HowlettMackay has been an instructor with the Roots of Empathy program for 13 years and is vice-principal at Waverley Memorial Elementary School. The program gives the students a platform to talk about emotions and different temperaments, helping them to be more compassionate with each other. “Originally it was designed to reduce aggression in children and to teach them empathy, because not everyone is born with empathy,” Howlett-Mackay explains. “We want to help the class try to understand each other’s feelings and learn how to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes. It forces the students to look at themselves, as well as what their needs are, versus what their wants are.” Throughout the years Howlett-MacKay has been privy to some special moments in the program and has worked with classes ranging from Grade 2 up to the current Grade 6 group.

“With one Grade 4 class, we were there when the baby took her first steps and everybody cried,” she recalls. “I also remember one year having a little girl who was autistic. At first, she didn’t want to have anything to do with the baby but, by the end of it, you couldn’t keep her away from the baby. Students who are shy or not comfortable around babies will be asking to hold her by the end. They get quite attached to the baby.” Sarah Leger is one of the Grade 6 students in the program. She says that watching and interacting with Tessa has taught her about managing big emotions. “I’ve learned that when Tessa gets sad or angry when she’s in the class she has to leave for a few minutes, and that can go for anyone,” she says. “If you get upset, it’s okay to take a break.” Classmate Darcy Montgomery agrees. “Baby Tessa has taught me a bunch of different things about life, like how to soften my approach with people,” she says. Geneva Hudgins, another classmate, says it’s been interesting to watch her develop and grow each visit. “I like to see how she reacts to everything, because every time it’s different,” says Geneva. “Sometimes she could really like a toy, and the next time not like it as much. She’s always changing.” Jennifer Brace is a Grade 6 teacher at the school, and this is her first year running the program with her class. As soon as she heard about it, she was sold on the concept for the very experiences her students cite as learning moments.


PHOTO: ROOTS OF EMPATHY

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The children soften when the baby enters the room. They may even witness a magical moment like rolling over for the first time. Every visit is different. Left: Students (left to right) Levi Allen, Nathan Sharpe, Owen Paris, Brooke Haider, Jada North, Ruby Steele, and Geneva Hudgins enjoy their monthly visits with Tessa Woodbury and her mother Allison (centre).

“It’s a great way to bring the outside world into the classroom, to bring in life skills for the kids,” she says. “As they start to get older it’s important to help them continue to develop their empathetic and sympathetic skills. The goal here is to encourage the kids to be respectful, to take care of the little ones with the hope that they can carry on with those skills as they get older.” With an undergrad degree in child and youth studies, Brace has a particular interest in teaching her class about the human development angle through the program. When Tessa rolled over for the group it was exciting for the children to see her hit that milestone moment; also opened up a natural opportunity to discuss how people grow and develop. “They seem to be surprised with how fast she’s developmentally growing,” she says. “I like seeing those moments in the kids, those a-ha moments.” Woodbury, Tessa’s mother, says she first found out about the program from her brother who was doing his Bachelor of Education program last year and heard they were looking for volunteers. She was pregnant with her third child, who was due in July, and thought it might be a good opportunity to connect with her community and play a role in helping children develop empathy. “I like the whole philosophy of the program, teaching kids in the classroom about empathy through a baby,” she says. Tessa enjoys the visits too. “She really does light up when she looks at their faces, she loves smiling at them,” Woodbury says.

“And the kids are so adorable, and they’ve all been very respectful. They just seem to soften when Tessa comes in. It’s really sweet.” During her most recent visit with the class, she was touched when the children shared special books that they had written for Tessa’s first Christmas. Woodbury says it was one of the highlights of the program so far. Knowing that the children took the time to think about what would make Tessa happy and how she may be feeling during her first big holiday celebration showed her that they are thinking about what is important to others, which is the foundation of empathy. Woodbury says enrolling in the program was easy. She filled out a form online while she was expecting, and the organization matched her with a qualified school near her home. “If somebody’s thinking about doing it, they should,” she says. “It’s great. It’s not a huge commitment, it’s an hour once a month,” she says. “It is a way to give back, but it’s also fun for us.” To learn more about the program or how to become a Roots of Empathy Family please go online to rootsofempathy.org.

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FEATURE

Our Children | Spring 2020

Working from home on a SNOW DAY A mother’s harrowing tale By Heather Laura Clarke

S

ipping hot chocolate. Bundling up to go sledding. Carefully wording an email to your client. Snow days might be fun for stay-at-home parents who delight in coming up with special activities or working parents who can take the day off and relax with their kids, but for those of us who work from home snow days are dark, dark days. I’ve worked from home since my oldest was three months old, so nobody was more excited than me when our youngest was finally off to Primary. When those precious six hours of peace and quiet are threatened by a snowy forecast, it can get ugly. From what foods to serve and how to keep the noise level reasonable to how you’re actually supposed to get any work done, let me walk you through navigating the seven stages of a work-athome snow day.

SHOCK/DENIAL “What?! It’s barely even snowing! This must be some kind of mistake! Maybe the website is messing up and it’s actually only cancelled in another school district that has nothing but dangerously winding, unpaved roads. Better refresh the browser again, and then check the Parent/Teacher Facebook group.” Nope, it’s happening. Welcome to Snowmageddon, where the precipitation is made from parents’ crystallized tears.

OPTIMISM School is definitely cancelled. That’s OK! You can do this! You can be a calm, productive professional and get your work done while simultaneously entertaining and feeding the hyperactive children who should be in school.

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FEATURE

Our Children | Spring 2020

It’s just a matter of being organized. Try dividing the day into 30-minute blocks. Set your kids up with an episode or two of something on Netflix while you get a bit of work done, and then spend a 30-minute chunk of time making them lunch or doing a creative and/or educational activity together. Thirty more minutes of work, and then you’ll spend 30 minutes bundling everyone up for a refreshing romp in the fresh snow. It’s just one day, after all. It will all work out!

ACCEPTANCE It is not working out. This is the part of the day when you humbly accept that if you’re attempting to work from home during a snow day, accept that you won’t get as much work done as you’d like. It’s simply not going to be possible unless your kids are old enough to be completely independent and/or everyone’s content to spend all day on the couch eating directly out of cereal boxes with glazed-over eyes shining with the reflections of their screens.

Warming mittens for the next round of outdoor play.

You carry your laptop from room to room and grab snatches of time to work. You start using too many exclamation points in your emails in an attempt to sound upbeat and professional, but you’re really just descending into despair.

CHAOS Everyone is still in pyjamas, even the neighbourhood children who have invaded in loud, sticky clusters. At least one child is crying. Only orange foods are being consumed. There’s mysterious, crunchy dust all over the kitchen floor. Is it from cereal or Goldfish crackers? All that matters is that it’s all over the house and everyone’s socks are gummed up. Every surface is draped with dripping snow pants and soggy mittens. You leave the dishes in the sink, grab your computer, hide in the bathroom and lock the door. The toilet is your office now.

Tobogganing never gets old; hours of entertainment for any child who loves the outdoors.


FEATURE

FIVE CREATIVE IDEAS TO KEEP THE KIDS BUSY INDOORS ON A SNOW DAY 1. BATH PAINT: Kids love taking a bath in the middle of the day, especially if there’s something fun and messy to do. Make your own bath paint by combining shampoo or body wash (¼ cup) with cornstarch (¼ cup), water (1–2 tbsp.) and a few drops of food colouring. Hand out paint brushes or just let the kids finger-paint the tub walls and each other. Having paint supplies on hand makes for an easy project to keep the kids busy and having fun.

2. SALT DOUGH: Gather everyone around the kitchen table while you mix up a batch of salt dough (2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup cold water) and pull out the cookie cutters. Kids can design their own decorations, sculptures or ornaments and then you can bake them (250°F for about two hours) so they last forever. You can even paint them once they’ve cooled.

CONFUSION You first experience the “time standing still” phenomenon around 11 a.m., and it will return again at 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. The problem is not with the clock. It’s a space-time continuum issue. The day will be longer than usual but the oddities won’t stop there. Your TV’s volume display clearly shows it’s on level 20 but it sounds like level 40. Any video game systems have the same issue. (Nintendo Switch models, in particular, have been proven to emit high-pitched jabbering noises exclusively on snow days). Probably best to cut power to the home at this point. Flush every battery you can find. Godspeed.

3. PAINTING ROCKS: Round up some rocks, paint them, and then hide them around your neighbourhood. There are so many Facebook groups devoted to finding and posting painted rocks, so be sure to label the back (“Please post on Halifax Rocks FB group”) and you might see it again once it’s been discovered.

4. MAGIC MUD: Instead of making yet another

BARGAINING

batch of slime (ugh) whip up a batch of Magic Mud (sometimes called “Oobleck”). All you need is 3–4 parts cornstarch to one part water, and a few drops of food colouring to make it pretty. It’s fascinating to play with because it seems to alternate between a liquid and a solid depending on how you handle it.

Around mid-afternoon, you experience persistent troubling thoughts like “Wait, what if the weather doesn’t clear up/the power isn’t restored/the roads aren’t plowed by the morning?” Back-to-back snow days are not an option. You’re already out of cereal and juice and noodles and the milk is getting low from serving up too many mugs of hot chocolate. The house is in shambles. Everyone is cranky. You swear you’ll plan more special, heartwarming activities for the next snow day, maybe cutting out sugar cookies or making collages of snowmen or something, but you need more time. You can’t handle another one right away!

5. SNOW ICE CREAM: Delight your kids by helping them make “snow ice cream.” Fill a big bowl with your ingredients (1 cup milk, cup white sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 pinch salt) and then mix in about eight cups of clean, fresh snow. Don’t forget the sprinkles.

RELIEF Solace only comes after dark, once the children are in bed and you feel your blood pressure returning to normal. With a little luck, school will be back in session tomorrow and order will be restored. You’ve survived another work-at-home snow day. It won’t be the last one, but maybe robotic babysitters will have significantly dropped in price by then? After all, it is 2020. If not, you will stock up on Kraft Dinner and milk and get ready to do it all again. Maybe it’s time to invest in secretly finishing the attic or crawl space so you have a place to hide. It’s cheaper than moving to a snow-free climate.

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NUTRITION

Our Children | Spring 2020

Little chef Fostering a love of cooking in your young ones by bringing them into the kitchen By Edwena Kennedy

By age 5 your budding chef will be able to contribute in a big way when it comes to meal preparation.

M

y 11-year-old son got a cookbook and cooking supplies for Christmas. They were the top items on his wish list, and he was overjoyed when he got them. He developed a love for cooking at age 3, when I would sit him on the counter and let him “help” me prepare his dad’s lunch. He would help me wash the lettuce (and rub it in between his little hands), take the bread out of the bag, fetch items from the cupboard, and hold pieces of fruit while I put things together. The look on his face when his dad would take it and thank him for making it for him was priceless. I would always bring him into the kitchen at least once a week to do some

sort of baking, pizza making or to help me unload the groceries. As a dietitian, I knew that giving him a positive experience in the kitchen would greatly increase the chance of him wanting to spend time there as he grew up. Time spent in the kitchen, observing and handling different types of foods, and having a hand in preparing it, meant that there was a greater chance of him eating it at mealtimes. I also knew that if he didn’t learn how to cook from me at home, he’d likely end up eating a nutritionally void diet during his first year in university. So over the years, I’ve picked up many tips and tricks to not only getting the kids into the kitchen, but to actually develop a love for cooking as time went on.

Set aside one kitchen activity per week If you want them to develop a love for something, they’ve got to spend time doing it. When my son was 3, he hated soccer, he would cry at practices and would want to sit on the sidelines. Despite that we encouraged him to keep attending the sessions and now he lives for soccer. I know it sometimes feels like it’s more work to have children in the kitchen, but it's worth it. Try to set up a consistent weekly kitchen session with your children (even a 10-minute session) to help form positive memories. As a family we found that cooking breakfast together on a Saturday mornings worked great for us.


25 Understand that they’re never too young to join you in the kitchen They don’t have to do much for it to be worthwhile. Here is an age-by-age breakdown of a few things you can do with your child in the kitchen:

• • • • • •

Drain and slice tofu. Form patties. Grease a baking pan. Scoop batter into muffin cups. Slice bread. Thread food onto skewers.

Involve them in meal planning

6–18 months: Seat them in the highchair and let them watch what you’re doing. Give them a utensil, a piece of food (nonchoking hazard) and let them feel like they are helping you. Let them smell and touch the ingredients. Talk to them out loud and walk them through what you’re doing (“I’m cutting the apples, and now I’m going to get the peanut butter and spread it on the apples like this”). They don’t have to be able to see everything and it may even seem like they aren’t listening, but trust me, all the verbal instructions you’re giving make them feel like they’re part of the process and starts creating that positive, participative experience that we’re looking to instill in them.

Let them choose at least one recipe a week (if not more) to add to your meal plan. They can scroll through recipe photos online or through a favourite recipe book from home. The more control they feel over the process, the more excitement (and cooperation) they will have.

18 months–3 years • Pour dry and liquid ingredients into a bowl. • Rinse fruits and vegetables. • Scrub potatoes. • Pick herbs off the stem. • Tear greens into pieces. • Stir batter in a bowl. • Sprinkle salt or herbs.

Parents can have hidden agendas when it comes to activities around food. We want our kids to eat (and like) the salad we’re washing, to eat the broccoli we’re chopping, etc. These types of expectations result in a pressured environment, and as we’ve learned as adults, feeling pressured when doing an activity takes away the fun. Pressure at the dinner table can result in kids not wanting to come to the table to eat. They may push back and act up around food. Encourage them to explore and talk about the food like you’re scientists. Get curious about it like a chef. Help them ask questions. “What happens when I put this and that together?” “What do you notice about the texture once you start heating it up?” “Do you think this would taste better with this spice or that spice?” “How do you know?” When you don’t make it about eating, but instead about touching, smelling, and tasting like a chef (disclaimer: only if they are up for it), you’ll see that the likelihood of them eating the food will increase by an astonishing amount.

4–5 years • Cut soft foods with a kid safe knife (see suggestions in next section). • Crack an egg. • Measure and level dry ingredients with a straight edge. • Spread butter and jam. • Set the timer. • Whisk a vinaigrette. • Peel a cooled hard-boiled egg. • Give them their own supplies (kid safe knives etc.) 5–9 years • Use real knives (paring knives closer to age 5 and chef knives closer to age 9). • Cook with you at the stove. • Use a can opener, garlic press, lemon squeezer, hand mixer, etc. • Peel fruits and vegetables. • Grate cheese with a box grater.

Let them cook for someone else Nothing is more exciting than cooking for a dad, a sibling, or grandparents. Kids get such a sense of pride when their loved ones try a meal they’ve helped prepare (and everyone inevitably says it’s the best meal they’ve ever had).

try things themselves (instead of saying “watch me do it”). It’s going to be messy, that’s part of the process when cooking with kids. Simply anticipate the mess and choose a time when you’re not rushed. Clean up together and enjoy it as part of the process. These tips are just some of the ways to help your kids love the process of cooking and being in the kitchen. I hope you try them out. Try to recall the best experiences you had in the kitchen as a kid, what positive elements of that memory stand out to you? Can you recreate them? It’s all about raising a child who’ll have competency in the kitchen, who’ll overcome picky eating and who can one day pass on the same love for cooking to their children. ■

Don’t pressure them to eat but encourage them to explore

A love for food and being involved in the process can start as early as six months.

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HRCE

Our Children | Spring 2020

Stephen Somers and Tressa Moore are parent navigators with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education. They assist parents in finding the right services available in education, justice, health, community services, and more for their families.

Wondering where to turn? Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s parent navigators will guide you

W

e know that navigating the many supports available to you and your family during the school years can be overwhelming. That’s why parent navigator (PN) positions were created in 2018. The role of the PN is to help parents and guardians of Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) students find and access services available in education, justice, health, community services, and more. As part of HRCE’s Student Services Team, Tressa Moore and Stephen Somers have built strong relationships with community agencies throughout the region and have developed deep understandings of the tools and resources out there for you. Our PNs are available, free-of-charge, to help you find the support you or your child may need to find success inside and outside of school. They’ll meet you in a comfortable setting in your community to have a conversation about what your child may need. They’ll guide you and help connect you with the most appropriate services and resources. They’ll attend school meetings with you. They’ll be your co-pilot. ■

WHO IS MY PARENT NAVIGATOR? Tressa Moore mooret@hrce.ca 902-464-2000 x4362 Available to families of students in the following families of schools: Auburn Drive, Cole Harbour, Citadel, Duncan MacMillan, Island View, J.L. Ilsley, Sir John A. Macdonald, Bedford and Forsyth Education Centre (Bedford & Dartmouth campuses) Stephen Somers ssomers@hrce.ca 902-464-2000 x4361 Available to families of students in the following families of schools: Dartmouth, Charles P. Allen, Eastern Shore, Halifax West, Lockview, Millwood, Musquodoboit Rural, Sackville, Prince Andrew

Find your Family of Schools here: bit.ly/FamilyofSchools

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PARENTING HEALTH & WELLNESS

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Our Children | Spring 2020

Be kind to yourself Infuse your daily routine with self-love for a happier, healthier heart

By Jill Chappell

W

e’ve all been at the boiling point of parenting. It can be a signal (especially to those within hearing range) that you haven’t been giving yourself the same love you’ve been sharing with your children. “As adults and/or parents, our lives can be chaotic as we try to balance priorities,” says Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie. “We often don’t take time to look after ourselves. We can be hard on ourselves. Sometimes our expectations are too high or unrealistic. This pressure can cause increased symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, affecting our mental health.” Lingley-Pottie is president and CEO of the Halifax-based Strongest Families Institute, a non-profit organization that delivers evidence-based mental health programs to children, youth and families through innovative coaching by phone or via the Internet. The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is proud to provide financial support to the nationally and internationally recognized charity, with services throughout Canada, Finland, piloted in Vietnam, and will soon be available in New Zealand. “Good mental health is important for everyone,” says LingleyPottie. “Self-love means making an effort to be kind to ourselves.

Praise the effort you put forward, no matter what the outcome. Say kind things to yourself. Talk positive about yourself and love you for who you are; ‘I am a nice person.’ ‘I am kind to others.’ ‘I tried my best and that’s all I can ask of myself.’” This is just one technique the Institute suggests parents and children adopt in its skills-based programs. When individuals learn to deal with the symptoms that cause anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, they become more capable of coping with the triggers that cause frustration and anger to boil up in the first place. Lingley-Pottie says a simple way to start practising selflove is by making time every day to “Take 10.” “Treat yourself by doing things you enjoy such as reading your favourite book, taking a walk or a relaxing bath,” suggests Lingley-Pottie. “It can be hard to find time in our day but booking 10 minutes a day for your personal self-care goal will improve your overall mental health and mood.” Infusing the practice into your daily routine can reap big rewards. It ensures you’re nourished, energized, and capable of providing that rich, unwavering love we all want to give to our family. It also has the added benefit of modelling the behaviour for your children. “As parents, we can set an example by helping our children learn the importance of using self-love and self-care skills,” PottieLingley says. “Use positive self-talk around them and encourage them to be kind to themselves. This will equip them with skills early in life to help build confidence.” Perhaps February should be the month you stop putting selflove on the back burner. Consider taking the plunge by practicing self-love goals each day. Before you know it, your life just might be steeped in peace, patience, and a more positive you.

PHOTO: FPSPRODUCTIONS.TV

Jill Chappell is the marketing and communications lead for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. ■

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Dr. Lingley-Pottie with a coach from the Stongest Families Institute.

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BOOK REVIEWS

Our Children | Spring 2020

By Trevor J. Adams ’

The Kids’ Book of Paper Love

S ENT PAR ICK P

By Irene Smit & Astrid Van Der Hulst Workman publishing Want to stimulate young minds? Nurture a budding artiste? Fill the restless hours during a snow day? Easy projects, crafts, and activities galore abound in this book. Kids will make photo-booth props, create a DIY storybook, harvest a paper flower bouquet, and much more. The book and the projects within are designed to be folded, collaged, cut up, doodled upon, and shared. The only rules are: be creative and have fun. The authors are the creative directors of acclaimed Flow magazine, an international title that celebrates and fosters mindfulness and creativity.

Farmer Brown’s Day at the Lake By Shanda Cameron Illustrations by Danielle Shreenan Self-published Ages 4–6 After a 20-year career as a veterinary technician, local author Shanda Cameron has a keen understanding of the charm of animals and why kids form such strong emotional attachments to them. In this heartwarming and deliciously silly frolic, she shares the story of a group of barnyard animals enjoying a day of summer vacation. Young kids will love the absurdity of waterskiing livestock, cats and mice having a water-balloon fight, and horses running a lemonade stand. Artist Danielle Shreenan’s lively illustrations nicely punctuate the tale, adding warmth and humour.

Say What You Mean (Mean What You Say) by Jan L. Coates Trap Door Books Ages 10–14 Most kids are born pretty literal-minded and eventually encounter the frustration of a world full of people who speak in metaphors, half-truths, white lies, allusions, and metaphors. “How nice,” they think, “it would be if I could just read minds.” When protagonist Jake MacKinnon’s wish comes true on his 12th birthday, he quickly learns why people so often dissemble and avoid the literal truth. An accomplished young-adult author from the Annapolis Valley, author Jan L. Coates uses vivid writing and strong characterization to impart a simple, unpleasant, and necessary reality: sometimes, the truth sucks. This is an ideal book for young readers who haven’t quite grasped the value of tact and kind lies yet.

Come Back to Earth, Esther! By Josée Bisaillon Nimbus Publishing Ages 4–8

An award-winning illustrator (best known for Leap!, The Snow Knows, and Bedtime 1, 2, 3), Josée Bisaillon both wrote and illustrated this big-hearted tale about a space-obsessed girl whose dreams of building a spaceship and rocketing off to explore the universe. As you’d expect from such an accomplished artist, the illustrations are delightfully lively and whimsical, while the story is fast-paced and appealling to a broad swath of readers. Fusing a love of the sciences with a supporting and diverse family, this story is sure to become a favourite of young stargazers.



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