Last week I got a great email from Rebecca Brown, the woman behind Bunch Family, the company that puts on groovy family-friendly parties like the Bunch Family Dance Party, the Bunch Family Salon, and other events that help us feel a little less like the lame-ass soccer moms and dads that we've become.
In yet another coup of cool, Bunch has snagged temporary custody of "The Purple Shutter," one of six such bikes in the world equipped with a camera that automagically takes pics wherever you go and uploads them to FlickR. It's all part of the Purple Pedals Project, aimed at showcasing people, places and events around the globe while promoting cycling.
Would I like to take the bike out for a spin? Hell ya! (That was me all pretending to be an up-for-anything outdoor-enthusiast instead of a fair-weather cyclist and lapsed long-distance runner.)
So on Sunday afternoon, the super-snazzy bike was delivered to our place (by Matt from the band, The Bicycles, no less). Cameron and I managed to find a window between torrential downpours for a ride about Bloor West Village, me on the Purple Shutter, and Cameron on his bike.
Cam's in that awkward cycling stage where the training wheels have become embarrassing, but are still needed, and the bike is getting a little too small. But nevertheless, we made our way down to Bloor Street, where we promptly decided we would go on a "cookie tour." OK, there were only two cookie stops (I can only allow so much spoiling of appetites for dinner), but it seemed appropriate enough given that there's almost a bakery for every person in our neighbourhood. We rode around trying to capture store fronts and people (although I think I may have been uploading a lot of pictures of the top of Cameron's red bicycle helmet). We hit local institution Bread and Roses and the relatively new but completely one-of-a-kind Sweet Flour. If you haven't been to Sweet Flour, it's worth the trip to Jane Station. You can customize your own cookie there, picking from three different kinds of dough and a huge variety of "mix-ins" from chocolate chips to figs. AND it's baked in just two minutes. Served hot. YUM!
In between baked goods, we talked to people in our neighbourhood. The Purple Shutter — with her huge white tires, shiny purple paint and decorations — caught everyone's attention. Everybody wanted to know what the bike was all about (or maybe it was just that we were menacing to passers-by because we were riding on the sidewalk — in my defense, Bloor is no street for a kid in training wheels).
Anyway, you TOO could have a chance to take the Purple Shutter on a ride with your family. All you've gotta do is visit this post on the Bunch Family website and share what parts of Toronto you'd like to explore on this very special bike. Check it out!
While making ice cream sundaes...
Me: Have you ever had a float?
Cam: What's a float?
Me: It's ice cream and pop together in a tall glass.
Cam: Amn't I not allowed to have pop?
Cameron turned six on Saturday.
Since he lives and breathes Lego - Star Wars Lego in particular - there was really no doubt that he had to have a Lego-themed birthday party this year.
We agreed that the party would start with about an hour of indoor play at various Lego stations. Even the dining room table, territory he and I struggle over in Battle-of-the-Somme-type fashion (me daring to advance with meals and baskets of lemons, he trying to establish planet Tatooine), would be fair game.
We set up various Lego stations on the table, living room rug and a small kids' craft table. Naturally, the dining room table's prime real estate was devoted to Star Wars.
Ellis (left) and Cameron assembled some sort of Star Wars fighter jet thingie....
...including these guys, (prequel and original film characters mixed together - yes, I know), made for a pretty popular set-up. Anticipating fights over the Star Wars dudes, I coerced my tallest (and hopefully suitably intimidating) friend, David, to help Derek and I supervise. Luckily, there were no scuffles over storm troopers, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Anakin, or even Princess Leia.
Lego expert Noah channelled his inner Jedi knight.
A couple of new, more basic kits were assembled during the party, which was satisfying for kids newer to Lego (the youngest guest was three). More experienced Lego builders were able to help out, with only a moderate number of "Brandie, I need another window piece/blue flower/picket fence piece" kind of requests. That's Maddie in the background. She knows from Lego.
My favourite thing that happened spontaneously was this group effort to make a Lego plane fly using helium balloons (not that any of these kids had seen the movie Up).
Note the engineering using pieces of Lego to attach the ribbons to the wing. One side of the plane was actually raised a little.
I can only handle 10 kids inside the house for so long, so they were all kicked outside after about an hour, a plan Cameron and I agreed upon ahead of time. We had no outdoor activities planned, but they got up to their own thing on the play structure...
...while the adults "supervised" from the patio table.
Cameron (left) opened his presents (Charlie, middle, Seamus, right)...
...and then it was time for cake!
The cake was made by Sweet Escapes in the Distillery District. The red brick was red velvet, the yellow brick lemon, and the blue brick chocolate.
I've never commissioned a fancy birthday cake before, but this time it seemed worth it, since I wasn't killing myself with elaborate and clever Lego games and crafts, and this would enforce the theme in a way Cameron will (hopefully) remember. (And I don't have the cake-decorating chops to take on something like this without serious risk of meltdown.)
Everyone had their preferred colour or colours of cake...
Adults lingered over cocktails and cake at pick-up time, while the kids played inside and out. Each kid took home a $4 box of Lego and (after a clean-up that seemed to last 24 hours) that was that.
(Only we've gotta do it all over again this Saturday for little brother Alister's 2nd birthday. Help.)
Cameron: "I hope this (sausage in a croissant with apple and Dijon mustard consumed during errands) doesn't spoil my lunch."
Me: "I was kind of hoping this was your lunch."
Cameron: "It's my main starter."