Finn’s robot party

Finn, always our little scientist and fact explorer, has lately become increasingly fascinated with fiction. Instead of just grabbing one of his books about the solar system or the ocean’s midnight zone, these days he’s perhaps more likely to grab a book about WALL-E. Since I wasn’t interested in throwing a Disney character party (or so I thought), we decided to plan a robot party for his 5th birthday. Appropriately, we first collected lots and lots of trash (you’ll get that if you’ve seen the movie). We recycled toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes, tissue boxes, oatmeal containers, egg cartons, caps, and even cans, and put them together in fun ways to make cool retro-robots.

Finn, of course, made his own WALL-E:


And I made a few others of various sizes, including this handsome couple with arms made out of slinkies,…


…this can-head guy,…


… and a basic robot box to hold the “goody bags” filled with robot pencils, erasers, crayons, pads, and stickers:


But the robot that was the most fun during the actual party was the largest one: Keith constructed a photo-op out of spray-painted cardboard and dryer vent tubing. We put it in front of a polka-dotted back-drop and placed a stool behind it so that kids of different sizes could get their heads inside the robot helmet:






A birthday banner banner that hung inside was a group effort, started by some of my wonderful students who were so generous with their time after school, and finished by the rest of us at home the day before the event. It was adorable but fell down before the end of the party:


We also had robot napkin holders,


…various sandwich and cheese cubes supposedly compacted by WALL-E,


…and thanks to my sister Sunshine, the master-knife-wielder, a delicious fruit-bot (which I forgot to get a nice photograph of beforehand):


Outside we had a craft table for making robots out of sticky foam paper I had pre-cut into various shapes…IMG_5807


…and a WALL-E bounce house that kids jumped in and out of for hours in between swimming in the pool and swinging on the playground:



Then it was time for the REAL show: the unbelievable cake that my sister Ilianna and her architect husband designed and made for Finn. I didn’t think that ANYTHING could top the solar-cake-system they made last year, but I had to fight back tears when I saw them walk in and assemble this two-and-a-half foot robot, complete with plexiglass eyes, treads, (cake-)dirt, and even clay shoe with a teeny plant in it. Finn was truly overjoyed:




Although most of the guests left at what would be considered the “normal” time, those closest to us stayed until after nightfall, eating leftover “nuts and bolts” (pretzel and cereal mix) and eventually a dinner that we threw together in impromptu fashion. Then we goofed around some more, dancing the “robot” until the clock struck about 9:30. The party was so fun, it was better than fiction.


Finn is 5! (Birthday video)

Happy, Happy Birthday to you, Finn, my Finch, my beautiful five-year-old boy!

Looking back at last year’s birthday post, I can see that some things about you haven’t changed: you still treasure funny faces, play with cars and rockets, feast on books, and dream of planets and the ocean deep. You still prefer the color orange, pick crayons over markers, and love broccoli but hate tomatoes. You still are better at talking than listening.

But these days, when you open your mouth (which is always moving, it seems), you’re not just talking about all the things you’ve learned: you’re sharing the inventions of your imagination. Yes, you still love to read what others have written (and now often read, paragraphs and all, completely on your own) — but you are a storyteller now, too. You make up your own rhymes, write and illustrate your own narratives about going back in time with the dinosaurs or to the bottom of the ocean, and sometimes, unbeknownst to me, use my iphone to take goofy pictures and make videos of yourself running from “scary predators” or assuming the role of teacher, classifying your toys or explaining the features of your room. I sometimes discover your selfies and shaky clips late at night when I’m setting my alarm for the next day (also of course checking to make sure that YOU didn’t at some point set an alarm for me that might go off with robot, duck, or marimba sounds at 3 in the morning). It feels so good to laugh with surprise, to lean over toward Daddy with my phone to show him the unexpected treasure you’ve left behind… something you’ve made completely on your own. You’ve become an artist, an originator, creating something new from whatever voice or perspective you want to assume at that moment: paleontologist, chef, doctor, astronaut, scuba diver, teacher, artist, or just silly kid.

I love you more and more each day, my silly, smart, creative boy. It makes me so happy to watch you become the author of your own life.