Friday, 24 February 2017

Pancakes Anyone?

My friend Harry's parents invited me over for dinner next Tuesday night, and guess what? We’re having PANCAKES! 

I love pancakes for breakfast, but having them for dinner sounds EVEN BETTER. And it's definitely awesome, but there’s also a reason for it. Harry's family is British, and they follow the Christian or Commonwealth tradition known as SHROVE TUESDAY (or, in other parts of the world, Mardi Gras or Carnival Day.) Shrove Tuesday occurs the Tuesday before the first day of LENT.

Confused? I was too, so I did some research. (What if it comes up as part of conversation at dinner? It’s polite for me to at least know the basics or things could get awks!) 

Shrove Tuesday, and the first day of Lent, is determined by Easter. Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday was celebrated by a day of fun and feasting—particularly on pancakes—before the “fasting” required during 40 days of Lent. 

I didn’t think my family took part in Lent, but APPARENTLY that’s why my mom gives up chocolate 40 days before Easter. (Yes, she does binge on chocolate eggs the next day…) The word “shrove” comes from the word "shrive," meaning to “absolve.” 

I’ve decided that after I eat pancakes at Harry’s house Tuesday, I’m going to give up something for Lent, starting Wednesday morning. It will be hard, but for 40 days, I won’t drink a single can of soda pop. Not a drop of root beer, not one sip of cola, not even an ice cold Sprite. I’ll let you know how it goes. What would you give up for Lent? It doesn’t have to be food—in fact, Mom says we’re going to take a look at some of me and my sister’s old toys to see what we can “give up.”

Oh, and if you’d like to celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes, my grandma dug up this recipe from the Canola Eat Well website, which you and your family can make for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner! 

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 17 February 2017

Ten Random Acts of Kindness to Celebrate Today

Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day, and although I believe every day is an excellent time to be thoughtful and kind, you may notice a difference in the way people are acting today.

Want to hitch a ride on the bandwagon? I thought you might, so…I’ve compiled a list of 10 things YOU can do in addition to all the ways you’re already being kind. They’re painless, I promise!
  1. Instead of putting your allowance in your piggy bank, why not put it in a vending machine for someone else to use?
  2. See someone with a sad face? Tell them a joke. Here is a link to some that might make someone smile
  3. Taking back your library book? Leave an inspiring note or a quote on a piece of paper for the next person to find.
  4. Maybe you really like to write… Leave post-it notes around your neighbourhood with random compliments. You never know what might brighten someone’s day.
  5. The way to some people’s heart is through their stomach, my grandma always says. How about baking up a batch of cookies for a friend or neighbour? (If you have a copy of the Superman Duffy comic, TASTING MY STORY, there is a recipe for Monster Cookies that is EASY and fun.)
  6. Do you always sit with the same kids at lunch? Invite the new student over, or sit with someone who looks alone. They might become your next best bud. 
  7. The snow is melting! How about writing a colourful chalk message on someone’s sidewalk?
  8. Do you have a favourite teacher? Write the principal to say how great that teacher is. (I’m totally writing about Mrs. Kratky today!)
  9. Clean up your room without being asked. (I know, not fun. But think of how impressed your parents will be.)
  10. Write a poem for a friend. Maybe a haiku? If you’re not sure how to write one, check of 5-7-5 ERRAND BOY, one of the earlier comics in the Superman Duffy series.)

Not a bad list, if I do say so myself. Of course there are hundreds of ways you can show kindness—this is just a drop in the bucket of suggestions. What are some of YOUR ideas?

Gotta jet! Have a great—and kind—weekend.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 10 February 2017

Valentine’s Day Traditions from Around the World

Have you been in a grocery store or a card shop in the last couple of weeks? There are hearts everywhere. Pink hearts. Red hearts. Even purple hearts. Not to mention the chocolate overload. No thanks! (I’m still recovering from Christmas!)
It's a little over the top in my opinion. Sure, I’ll pass out Valentine’s Day cards at school, and I’ll buy Mom and Grandma roses because it’s tradition (and Dad helps out with the cost), but for the most part, it will be just like any other day for me. (Unless Grandma makes her special heart-shaped sugar cookies—those are hearts I can get behind! Or heart-shaped pizza. Yum. I love pizza!) Ahem. I digress.
Anyway, for a school project, I started doing some research on different Valentine’s traditions from around the world—because learning about various cultures this past month and a half has been AMAZING. And I discovered some cool stuff. Like, did you know that the Danish celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving friends pressed white flowers called snowdrops? I was thinking that might be a cool idea for my friend Sophie.
In South Africa, women pin the names of their crushes on their sleeves, allowing everyone to learn about their secret admirers. Uh, I think I’ll avoid that tradition. Gulp. 
Valentine’s Day isn’t even celebrated on February 14 in China, Brazil, or Wales (they have other special days), and in England, girls leave bay leaves on their pillows (yes, the kind used for cooking!) to bring dreams of their future husbands. And apparently, Valentine’s Day is the most popular day to get married in the Philippines. Huh.
It’s so fascinating to see how Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world. Do you have any traditions? 
Have a great weekend!
~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 3 February 2017

Reading Up For Black History Month

In my quest to learn more about the people living in Canada—as part of my year of learning about my country in celebration of its 150th birthday—I thought I’d tackle another of my 2017 goals at the same time. February is Black History Month.

So, I’m going to READ books that celebrate ‘Blacks’ in some way. Oh, I know we have a lot of activities planned at school, and if you check out my Instagram and Facebook throughout February, I’ll be posting pictures and facts about both Black History Month AND History Month, in general (including cool facts about Canada!)

But first! Here are the three books I’ll be reading this month:

The Orphan Boy by Tololwa M. Mollel, illustrated by Paul Morin

An old man longs for a child. One night, Kileken, an orphan boy, comes to him. Somehow he's able to take on all the old man's chores and he brings him great prosperity. 

How he does it is a secret that Kileken guards carefully. But when the old man discovers his secret, the boy is gone forever. Based on a Massai legend, this is a story about strength, love and trust. Illustrator Paul Morin travelled to Africa to research the characters and the result is a series of evocative paintings. 

P-s-s-st...Did you know that Tololwa Mollel is Albertan? He lives in Edmonton, actually, and his book, The Orphan Boy is in MY school library. 

Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged! by Jody Nyasha Warner and Richard Rudnicki 

In 1946 Nova Scotia, Viola Desmond was asked to move from her seat in a theatre to a less desirable section set aside for Black patrons. She offered to pay the full price for her ticket, but she refused to move seats. As a result, she was arrested. 

Her case went all the way to the Supreme Court and inspired an entire community—and this book! 

All Aboard!: Elijah McCoy's Steam Train by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Bill Slavin 

Elijah McCoy, the son of freed slaves, grew up in Colchester, Ontario, and dreamed of becoming a mechanical engineer. He studied engines in Scotland, and when he was hired by the Michigan Central Railroad, he thought he was on his way to achieving his dream. Instead he was hired to be an ash-cat, shoveling coal into the firebox and greasing the engine. 

It wasn't what he  expected, but because of that experience and his fertile mind full of ideas, he one day developed an oil cup that would make rail travel safer and more reliable.

How will you learn about Black History Month? And do you have any book recommendations for me?

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend.

~ Chase Superman Duffy