Category Archives: Blog: The Bus Stops Here

Snippets of life with a young family: A blurry stage worth documenting.

Insta-Etiquette: Don’t want my daughter a #WCW on Instagram

Let’s teach our boys and girls some Insta-Etiquette. 

I fought Instagram with my daughter.  She was one of the last in her class (so I’m told).  I always say it takes a village. So I chatted with parents, with my daughter and did some research. When I felt comfortable, we signed her up.

The legal age to get an Instagram account is 13-years-old, despite many of her friends younger siblings snapping and sharing.

She’s in Grade 7 and 13-years-old and along with all her other classmates, she’s cautiously delving into a world of selfie-narcisism, the search for self-validation and image rating, armed with our family house rules for online interaction.

Don't care to a #WCW on Instagram. Don't care to be objectified.
Don’t care to a #WCW on Instagram. Don’t care to be objectified.

Instagram Defined in the Tween & Teen World: A social media app letting users

  • snap, edit, and share photos or 15-second videos
  • both publicly or with their private followers
  • You post the photo and your followers comment, share and converse about it – usually reassuring how lovely you look.

I’ve limited time, but I’m learning the #HashTags, dangers and scanning accounts. Ensuring her stuff is private and secure.  But, last night a new #HashTag appeared with my daughter’s photo — not on her wall:

A boy in her grade had posted an image of her on his Instagram Wall stating she is his #WCW.

photoinsta#WCW refers to ‘Woman Crush Wednesday’ (note the ‘Woman‘) and has been around for a few years.  This is where men share images of celebrities or woman they’re crushing on, they ‘like’, they adore, etc.  There’s also images of coffees, pets and children, but for the most part, it’s men crushing on women.

For the record, there are #MCM ‘Man Crush Mondays’ too and this advice goes both ways.

Take a peak on your own Instagram or child’s account and search #WCW and see what images appear.  Welcome 50 Shades of Selfies.

Needless to say, my daughter’s  mildly embarrassed. She doesn’t like the guy and didn’t ask to be part of a public forum about the merits of crushing on her.  However, she’s on Instagram,  they ‘follow’ each other (along with the rest of the school), so I tell her she’s fair game. But, she has choices as to how she deals with it:

How a #WCW works in a Junior High:

  1. Boy posts image and labels it as his #WCW.
  2. Other boys then comment: “onto the next girl?”, “way to go”, “lucky you,” … or it could be worse like, “why you like her?”
  3. What unfolds is an easy forum for hurt feelings, embarrassment, discomfort.

I’m all for crushes – but is there a healthier forum?

Let’s teach our KIDS some Insta-Ettiquette:

  1. Parents: Are your 13-year-old kids on Instagram?  Take a look now and then and make sure they’re not socializing themselves into murky online territory.  Navigating crushes, likes and social interactions is tricky enough to get right in person. Let’s help our kids along online and save them the embarrassment or worse…
    • I happened to come across a post of my daughter and a few girls from her swim team, in their team change room, in a group photo… in their bathing suits. I immediately flagged this for removal from the online world and my daughter asked her teammate to remove it from her Instagram wall.  She did – no harm, no foul. Her friend hadn’t realized taking images in a change-room is a huge ‘No No’ – and my daughter, caught up in the moment, obviously forgot.  Remind your kids of the Rules: rules are easily forgotten in innocence at this age and it’s our job to help keep them on track.
  2. Boys: Ask before we post: DON’T use a girls image, photo, name online unless there is mutual consent. Maybe she doesn’t want to be labelled as your crush for others to comment about?  Let’s stop objectifying girls online. Same applies for girls.
  3. Boys & Girls: #PTD: Please Take Down: If you don’t like an image out there, it’s your right to ask it be removed.  But, you have to accept this may not happen  — so be careful what image you project, what you snap and allow to be snapped.
  4. Boys: So you have a crush. Great on you!  Now man-up and talk to her in person, have a REAL conversation.  If the feelings are mutual – terrific. If they’re not, you’ve given it a brave shot, shown her your mature enough to connect in person and it’s time to move on – offline.
  5. Girls: BE careful what image you project.  You’re posting to your future and it will be out there and most certainly shared.  Don’t project an image online that isn’t reflective of you. You’re more than the sum of your body parts!

If the Dalhousie Dentistry School FaceBook posting teaches us anything, it’s that teaching boys limits and respect, both online and offline, must begin at an early age.

CommonSenseMedia offers a fab app for parents with ‘need to know info’ on apps, movies, books, games and music. Here’s their ‘Need To Know’ for Instagram, like:

“Public photos are the default … unless privacy settings are adjusted. Hashtags and location information can make photos even more visible to communities beyond a teen’s followers if his or her account is public.”

Some info on recently added Instagram features affecting your teens safety check out

Stay safe. Stay informed.

Sirens in the streets of Hammonds Plains for Station 50 Firefighters annual toy and food drive

Volunteer Santa Keith Cuthbertson helped out Station 50 firefighters with Holly LaPierre giving candy canes to local children.
Volunteer Santa Keith Cuthbertson helped out Station 50 firefighters with Holly LaPierre giving candy canes to local children.

Sirens in Hammonds Plains on Sun. Dec. 7 meant Santa, candy canes and Volunteer Station 50 Firefighters’ annual food and toy drive to support local families.  Even Counc. Matt Whitman (Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets Bay) donned a red suit, walking the frosty streets with volunteer firefighters and local supporters.

Chief Dan Melkert says the event was another success with Station 50 donating goods to Hammonds Plains local food bank,  a few families and community churches.  He says the local support is greatly appreciated and goes a long way.

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Happy team of volunteers sorting the generous donations from this year's toy and food drive.
Happy team of volunteers sorting the generous donations from this year’s toy and food drive.

Countdown to Cinderella Corner, fab shoes & purses in support of Kick It Up! event

Click for the video. Jill Chappell and Crystal Garrett of Global TV Halifax chat shoes & bags with Dress For Success Halifax co-chairs Melissa Fendley and Melissa Profit (L-R).

“Girls night out for a great cause.”

Global TV hosts Jill Chappell and Crystal Garrett chat with Dress for Success Halifax Co-Chairs Melissa Fendley and Melissa Profit about the 5th Annual Dress for Success event, helping women in need transition with confidence into the workplace.

The event takes place at Halifax World Trade Centre this Thurs. Nov. 20. Purchase online at Kick It Up! or check out their Facebook page. Tickets also available at the door.

Remembering through the eyes of our students and teachers

IMG_9704Every November my daughter’s school shares in one of the many poignant, heart-felt and emotional Remembrance Day ceremonies enfolding across Canada.

The luxury of freelancing allowed me to watch and capture some of these moments; weaving In Flanders Fields with original poetry, song and Terry Kelly’s video, A Pittance of Time, before a trumpet played The Last Post, followed by silence and then O Canada.

I wanted to share with some of my parent-pals who may have missed this morning.

The school sings ‘We Shall Overcome’ in unison: Poem: Remembrance Day From The Eyes Of A Child: 

To watch Terry Kelly’s video, click the pict:

A Pittance of Time

Bowling for futures: Building Futures Charlie Dunn Bowl-a-thon

Bowlathon2The annual Charlie-Dunn Bowl-a-thon Fundraiser took place this weekend at Sackville’s spectacular Super Bowl.  It was their biggest turn out ever and it was a great day!

Event organizers Sarah Hunt and Jennifer Pauley
Event organizers Sarah Hunt and Jennifer Pauley

We can’t wait to hear what they raised, and are really proud of our eight young gals who fundraised over $1,000 in support of Building Futures Employment Society to help work towards a society where students with intellectual disabilities don’t graduate to wait lists and have equal access to supported employment.

The girls want to thank their two local sponsors: TD Canada Trust and Subway, Cobequid and for pledging their big day!

High score kids bowler went to Fantabulous Four’s Autumn Sweeney and most sportsmanlike went to Ally Cat Striker’s Erin Strite. Well done girls!Autumn & Eri

The Building Futures Employment Society (formerly Anchor) have held a bowl-a-thon for more than 10 years to raise money to support our programs such as literacy, job readiness, and employment support.

“The Charlie Dunn Bowl-A-Thon is a community event that is a fun opportunity for the FUTURES team and our community to join together to support services that engage people with intellectual disabilities in employment and other community options,” says Marilyn Forrest, Director, Building Futures Employment Society.

The Bowl-A-Thon was renamed in 2011 in honour of Charlie Dunn. Charlie was part of the FUTURES team for many years. He was a friend and mentor to everyone with whom he worked. He believed in what we do and promoted us in the local community. Charlie was our most enthusiastic and committed fundraiser. He was in many ways the face of FUTURES in our community.

Bus Stop Blog: Kiwanis Music Festival culminates with a ‘firestorm’ performance at MSVU

IMG_6309The bus stopped outside Mount Saint Vincent University today, filled with Grade six band students from Hammonds Plains, to perform in the Nova Scotia Kiwanis Music Festival.

IMG_6339Band instructor Barbara Hopkin conducted all three performing bands which included Kingswood Elementary, Madeline Symonds Middle School and John W. MacLeod.

The bands performed two pieces, including a heavy percussion piece, Firestorm. The festival kicked off the end of March, featuring about 12 bands per day and culminates this week.

 “It serves the early stages of kids playing, which is really important and is the wonderful thing about the festival,” said adjudicator Mark Hopkins from Acadia University.

Hear Kingswood Elementary performing Firestorm:

Adjudicator Hopkins told the tuba players to, ‘keep playing’ — that they showed great talent on the brass.

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Petit Fours: MasterChef-themed birthday party

Homemade banner by Paige and Peacock
Homemade banner by Paige and Peacock

I divulge…I’ve finally conceded to the addictive nature of reality TV. I blame the foodie in me…and my daughter, who spent an afternoon over Christmas holiday watching a MasterChef omnibus. We were hooked.

“Can I have a MasterChef birthday?” she inquired, knowing perfectly well I would rise to the challenge.

Friends who know me, know I’m party-crazed, theme-obsessed and committed to raising the bar when it comes to kids parties. From down-to-earth camp parties to glamorous spa spectacular, and even a splashy mermaid party complete with custom-made tails, there is no theme too challenging — even a party that involves nine kids (plus a few adults) creating chaos in the kitchen.IMG_5406

Here’s the highlights from our MasterChef 12th birthday party, in partnership with my fabulous sister, owner of Paige and Peacock Event Designs, recently launching its children’s party division ‘Petit Fours @ Paige and Peacock‘, together we conspired to pull off a chef party like no other!

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Girls received Masterchef Aprons and drew colours to be placed on either the Red, Purple or Orange team. Our three celebrity chefs made their introductions and girls received an Agenda to set them up for the next three hours of culinary creativeness.

Pressure Test:

Master the art of separating an egg white from an egg (hilarious), then whip up snowy-white mini-meringues for a delish Pavlova, in under 20 mins.

Mystery Box Challenge:

A MasterChef party wouldn’t be complete without the famous Mystery Box.  At our party, three boxes contained ingredients for making the ‘quintessential starter’:  The Humble Dip. Their task — to create either a fruit, veggie or chip dip in under 15 mins.

The purple team with their fancy chip dip were given a ‘huge advantage’ for the final Pavlova challenge and ‘Chef Alvin’ was keeping a close, objective eye on the chefs.

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Invention Test:

Next the girls were tasked with creating a ‘Master Pizza’. They were given pre-made dough but had to roll the dough and design a masterpiece art-like pizza using unusual ingredients they wouldn’t usually put on their pizzas.

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By the time the teams completed the invention test, the mini-meringues were ready to transform into Pavlovas. The winners of the Mystery Box were able to choose one of three special toppings for their Pavlovas and decide which toppings the other two teams would work with:

  • mini easter eggs
  • colourful jelly beans or
  • Hershey’s kisses

Unfortunately Team purple forgot the sugar in their meringues!

This final challenge took them to chao time. We judged the pizzas and the teams each voted on the best Pavlova (not voting for themselves).

Awards were given and we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ with a candle-adorned ‘Daniel’s Lemon Lime Cheesecake‘ coined after an episode of MasterChef Canada, masterfully made by Autumn (as mom was flu-smothered).

“Best party ever!“….“Sooo much fun“…“Thanks Mom“

It was a crazy three hours…but worth every smile, belly laugh and miscracked egg.20140320-183916.jpg