Student of the Month

Congrats to Alan, the student of the month representative from Mrs. Russo’s class for November!  Alan, along with the other five first grade winners, was invited to lunch with the principal, as his reward.

I was thrilled to see Alan’s smiling face come through on my Twitter timeline while at work this afternoon. Best post I’ve ever seen on social media. 🙂

Veterans Day

Alan’s school celebrated active and retired veterans of military service at a school assembly this week.  Alan wished his own Veterans Day Hero, Uncle Josh, could have been there with the other guests being honored, but Alan was still able to hang up Josh’s picture in the hallway. 🙂

Cavaliers Game No. 1 of 2017-18

Alan and I put on our LeBron jerseys – circa 2008 and 2016 – and headed to the Q today to watch the Cavaliers take on the Hawks.  Alan was content to buy popcorn and watch the whole first half from our seats.  He cheered on LeBron — who finished with 26 points one game after becoming the youngest of seven players to reach 29,000 career points — and learned the names of the new Cavaliers.

We also explored the concourse and stopped over at the Wine & Gold United Headquarters.  Alan found his name on the hardwood floor (all by himself) within the first “A” in the “All For One and One for All.”  Only one name can be listed for each season ticket holder group, and after using my name last year, this year we used Alan’s!

‘Guys Only’ Week

Alan and I had extra quality time together this week with Mom going out of town!

Throughout the week, we reviewed schoolwork together (Alan loves sharing his take-home folder contents), and we read Alan’s new library book, Zak’s Lunch.  We listened to Alan’s favorite CD in the car during every morning drive to school. And we certainly made time for fun, including playing our favorite games at home and playing with Alan’s glow-in-the-dark toys under the covers before bed.   It was both a fun and productive week.

Mrs. Russo posted the following picture from class on Tuesday.  Alan told me the class was playing a math game on their tablets.  Alan’s wearing his Cavs championship shirt in the photo, since it was Cavs Day at Millridge.  That night Alan and I watched the Cavs beat the Celtics at the Q to open the new season!

Fall Weekends

To Alan’s delight, fall weekends this year have been following a similar formula to last year.

Friday nights again involve parties with me.  Saturday afternoons involve music lessons at the Musical Settlement and Chinese & Martial Arts class at the Cleveland Public Library.  Best of all, Saturday nights involve visits to see Tyler and Carleigh and sleepovers at Grandma Debbie’s house!

Sundays can include trips to the Wildcat Fitness Center to practice basketball, visits to see Tata & Papa, or playing “Go Fish,” the Cars 3 Memory Game, or fidget spinner battles with Daddy.

On Monday mornings at school Alan has to write in his journal about what he did over the weekend.  Alan said that he enjoys writing about playing with Tyler the most. 🙂

   

(Pictured is a Chinese lantern craft that Alan made for his Mom).

Fidget Spinners

Alan now has a fidget spinner for each of his favorite teams.  After picking up a Cavs spinner at Giant Eagle a couple weeks ago and an Indians spinner at the Tribe game last week, we got OSU and the Browns at Kohl’s this week.

Alan takes his fidget spinners to school and has “fidget battles” with his friends before the morning bell rings.  During these battles, each participant spins their spinner and then bangs them into their opponents’ spinner.  The person whose spinner stays spinning the longest is declared the winner!

In other news, Alan lost his right front tooth today!  The new left one has not grown in all the way yet, so Alan says his mouth feels funny without any front teeth.

1st Annual Father Figure Walk

Today Alan and I walked to school together as part of Millridge’s 1st Annual Father Figures Walk.  We parked at the Fitworks at the corner of Wilson Mills and Brainard and walked to school along the planned route.  There was still a little bit of time remaining for Alan to play on the playground before the morning bell.  🙂

Tribe Game No. 8 of 2017

The magical season for Alan and the Indians came to a close today in style, with yet another win on a beautiful day for baseball.  Alan concluded his perfect regular season at Progressive Field at a sparkling 8-0!

On our way to the ballpark we walked with many Browns fans, who opted for the Browns-Tribe doubleheader.  The walk was also highlighted for Alan by seeing and hearing a firetruck go down Superior.  As the sound of the siren echoed off the buildings, Alan remarked that he’d for sure have to tell Xavier about it tomorrow at school (Xavier’s a big fan of firetrucks).

At the ballpark, Alan checked in at the Tribe Town MVP table and headed for the nearby souvenirs to buy an Indians fidget spinner (he’s got a Cavs one too — four in all that he has in his backpack to share with friends).

We then entered the Kids Clubhouse, where Alan got a beach ball from the Cleveland Clinic Children’s table that we played with.

He also spent time on the big glove and baseball bat-balance beam – his favorite climbing and jumping activities within the Kids Clubhouse in 2017.

      

On the way out, Alan took a picture at the Kids Clubhouse lockers, showing off his 2017 Tribe Town MVP badge.

Next up we went down to The Corner so Alan could see the Indians’ mini team balls on display.  Alan was glad to see Ramirez and Lindor, and he accurately identified the Francona ball.

Then we returned to the family deck I got Alan some popcorn while he ran the simulated race.  He set a new personal best time of 6.60 seconds!

Alan ate his popcorn while we watched the bottom of the 8th from seats in the lower deck between home and first.  An usher actually offered us to enter his section and sit in two empty seats – first time I’ve ever had that happen.

We watched the top of the 9th standing near section 168, where we met with the group set to participate in Catch on the Field (Alan had been selected at random, we think, from the list of Tribe Town MVPs.  We were originally selected for Sept 17th, but that was rescheduled for today due to the Indians clinching that weekend.  We had tickets for both dates anyway).

We helped salute the Indians as they walked off the field after celebrating the win.  Alan enjoyed watching the high five line in person.  He’s stayed up to see it on TV on Friday nights, but had never seen it in person on a Sunday, since we’re normally under the stadium waiting to run the bases).

After the Indians left the field, our most fun began.  We entered the field down the third base line and walked across the warning track all the way to right field.  On the walk there, Alan commented that he was passing the scoreboard where they showed the flames he saw when Andrew Miller entered the game in the 8th inning.

When we got out to right field, the Indians handed us a specially-marked, soft core baseball to play catch with.  And play catch we did.  We had a blast throwing the ball around.  Alan and I took selfies and also had an Indians employee take our picture (shown at the beginning of the post).

We also wrote Alan’s name in the warning track dirt.  After all it’s Alan’s ballpark; the Indians just play in it!

We’re sad to see the regular season end, but hopefully Alan can at least get back during October for another playoff watch party.  In the meantime, how’s this for an impressive season in review, for both Alan and the Indians:

Alan finished the season with a perfect 8-0 record.  It started with his MLB debut in the Kids Starting Lineup in April and ended with Catch on the Field in October.  In between, there were personal bests set all throughout the family deck.

Meanwhile the Indians won 22 games in a row on the way to 102 overall, won the AL Central by 17 games, led MLB in ERA, had five all-stars – including two MVP candidates in Ramirez and Lindor and the likely AL Cy Young winner in Kluber…and the list goes on!

Let’s go Tribe this postseason!

Cars 3 Speedway

The summer of Cars 3 has turned into the fall of Cars 3 as well.  Alan got an awesome new battery-powered Cars 3 Speedway this weekend!  He loves how it shoots cars around the criss-cross track that causes crashes. 🙂

We picked up the new toy at Target today after leaving Grandma Debbie’s.  We assembled it afterwards at Tata’s.  Alan contributed his tooth fairy money to the purchase.  He had just lost a tooth (the one next to his left front tooth) early in the morning on Saturday while still in bed.  The tooth fairy then found him at Grandma Debbie’s on Saturday night!

Bowling Party With Friends

Today Alan had his first birthday party with friends! It was a bowling party at Wickliffe Lanes.  Among the attendees were his best friends Xavier, Cassidy, Grady, Brady (pictured above), and Noah, as well as eight first grade classmates: Kilian, Jonah, De’onta, Kiara, Luke, Logan, Ryleigh, and Valentina.

Alan led off the lineup of 7 kids on his lane, while Xavier led 7 more on the other lane.  Alan’s bowling highlight of the day was picking up a spare!  Around the bowling, the kids had pizza that we picked up from Pizza Hut, chips, and of course cake. Alan’s friends had fun when Alan was blowing out the candles.

At the end of the party, Alan passed out Cars 3 party favor bags, which he and I had fun organizing on Friday night.  Alan had also picked out a Cars 3 balloon on our way to the party to enhance the Cars 3 theme at his table.  🙂

  

It’s been a great week celebrating Alan’s 7th birthday!

Happy 7th Birthday Alan!!

My favorite guy turned 7 today!

Alan got to sleep in today since there was no school on his birthday due to Rosh Hashanah.  Later he went to the beach with his Mom to walk by the water and fly a kite.  It was the second straight year Alan had the day off on his birthday.  His class celebrated with him yesterday by making birthday cards for him in class.  And Alan gave all his classmates a Cars 3 pencil and sticker to take home.

Stay tuned for Sunday’s post, as the fun will continue this weekend!

Tribe Game No. 7 of 2017

Alan’s perfect record continued at Progressive Field today, as Alan moved to 7-0 on the season.  Alan & Corey Kluber continue to be an unstoppable combination, dating back to Alan’s very first Indians game in 2013, when Kluber shut-out the Nationals 2-0.

There was a lot to celebrate at the ballpark today following the recent 22-game win streak and the Indians clinching of the AL Central late last night (not to mention it was Alan’s annual birthday game!).  Alan and I enjoyed watching the Indians raise the AL Central Division Championship Flag during pregame while the fans applauded the team.  Alan is aware of what has been going on this week, as he watched the recording of the walk-off for win #22, as well as the ovation after the win streak ended.

During the game, Alan enjoyed the big slide in the Kids Clubhouse and recorded his second career sub-7 seconds time in the simulated race.

Alan didn’t get to run the bases postgame (it was cancelled so the Indians players could salute the crowd), but that was okay for Alan.  He wanted to get home and put together the lego seaplane that he received from Grandma Debbie at yesterday’s party!

Before we left, we bought an’ AL Central Champs’ pin to go along with the Indians poker chip magnets I bought while attending game #20 of the streak.  Alan plus good luck charms could spell doom for the Indians competition during the playoffs…

Party for Alan & Tyler

Alan and Tyler celebrated their 6th and 7th birthdays, respectively, at a family party today at Grandma Debbie’s house!  This year they had a Cars 3-themed cookie cake.

Alan’s favorite moment of the party was unwrapping the Paw Patrol Sea Patroller.  He could barely contain his excitement.  The cousins had a blast playing with it, as well as the other new toys.

After the party, Alan and Tyler took some photos together, and then they had their annual birthday party sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s!

  

Donuts With Dad

Today, before school, Alan and I attended one of our favorite events together — Donuts with Dad!  Alan and I had our milk and coffee together (neither of us are donut-eaters) at the same table as Cassidy, Xavier, and their Dad.  We also had our picture taken by a photographer.  At Alan’s request, I wore my Ohio State shirt and Alan wore his Cavaliers championship shirt.  Our photo turned out great!

Tribe Game No. 6 of 2017

Alan’s favorite month of the year is in full swing, and he’s got that ’16-straight wins kind of feeling’ going on after watching the Tribe blank the Orioles at the ballpark tonight!

Alan went the distance tonight, continuing his perfect record at Progressive Field this season (6-0 this season; 18-7 lifetime).  The night started well, as Encarnacion greeted us at the gates with a  3-run first inning HR.  It was the second time this season he homered as we entered the ballpark.  And it ended well, too, as the Indians extended their team record win streak.

In between, Alan’s highlights included participating in Hang On Sloopy (middle of the 5th inning), trying Twizzlers for the first time (Daddy’s go-to ballpark candy), watching guest-Hot-Dog-Race-participant Relish’s 2nd-ever appearance and 1st victory, buying a “C-logo” mini bat (held by Alan in the picture above), and enjoying the shorter lines in the Kids Clubhouse — especially at the slide — due to the evening start time.

Tonight’s game was a late add to our season schedule after Alan requested one more September night game.  I’m glad he asked for this one!

Alan has continued to gradually increase his interest in the Tribe this season.  In addition to the memorable moments we’ve witnessed at the ballpark (captured in these posts), he’s tuned in for the last inning of quite a few Indians games over the summer. The most notable game-endings he caught include the Encarnacion walk-off Grand Slam vs LAA on July 25th and the Gomes walk-off 3-run HR vs COL on August 8th.

Alan loves seeing the Indians players throw water on each other after a walk-off (dating back to watching replays of the Naquin inside-the-park walk-off last season), so he was really fortunate to catch those.

Wildcat Fitness Center

Alan and I have recently become members of the Wildcat Fitness Center at Mayfield High School. We signed up to use the gymnasium to practice dribbling and passing in advance of Alan’s first basketball league this winter.  At Alan’s request, we also bring our baseball gloves and our football and alternate between practicing all 3 sports.  Then we finish by taking a few laps on the indoor track.  Alan’s going to be ready for his basketball league in no time!

Open House

Tonight at parent orientation I learned about all the fun that’s in store for Alan in Mrs. Russo’s first grade class this school year!  I also got to see Alan’s desk (it’s very neat) and some of his work that was hanging in the hallway outside the classroom.

He also left a note for his Mom and I to find tucked away in his desk.  Look at that beautiful handwriting! I enjoyed writing a note for him to find tomorrow as well.  🙂

Tribe Game No. 5 of 2017

Alan continued his perfect season at Progressive Field today, as the Indians improved to 5-0 with Alan in attendance following a 12-0 victory over the Royals. To Alan’s delight, we opted to take the transit downtown, and Robbie and Jill — our generous season-long ticket providers — came to the game with us.

Alan was showing off his balancing skills on the large wooden bat in the Kids Clubhouse while the Indians scored a season-high nine runs in the 2nd inning. The scoring came via a 2-run HR by Lindor, a 3-run HR by Santana, and finally a Grand Slam by Gomes — with the latter drawing quite a few families out of the Clubhouse and onto the balcony to join in the cheering!

Out on the family deck, more records were set as Alan beat his personal best race time of 6.89 seconds!  Alan was thrilled to see his first sub-7 seconds time and excitedly reported the news to Robbie.  The new record time must’ve been due to the pre-race popcorn he requested beforehand.

We didn’t have time to hit today as lines were extra long (due to a standing room only crowd at Progressive Field) and the game went fast (no scoring after the 2nd inning).  So we opted not to risk losing our place at the front of the MVP line for running the bases, and lined up during the 8th inning.

I ran with Alan today, while Robbie and Jill watched from the stands.  You could tell which one of us was the record setter, as I quickly fell behind Alan and never caught up, despite the usual log-jam between 3rd base and home plate.   After running, Alan took the camera for selfies and photos from his perspective, including this close-up of Robbie, Jill, and I.

Alan was in a silly mood with the camera out, as evidenced by the following photo that we took behind the dugout.

For the Tribe, today’s win capped a weekend in which the Indians outscored the Royals 20-0 over three games.  It was the first time since 1956 that the Indians shut-out a team for an entire series.

For Alan, it was another great Sunday afternoon at the ballpark with his family!

Ice Cream Social

This evening Alan and I headed to the annual ice cream social at Millridge.  The social — the unofficial kick-off to the school year — has become one of our favorite annual events.  Alan got to enjoy another orange popsicle while spending a lot of quality time on the playground!

Alan spent the most time with Brady (pictured above) on the swings, slide, and rock climbing wall.  He also saw Kindergarten friends Brooklyn, Tony, Noah, Piper, and Colin, as well as new classmate De’onte.

Pretty soon it’ll be time for open house and Donuts with Dad!  We know what to look forward to now as Millridge veterans.

First Day of 1st Grade

  

Today Alan started his journey into 1st Grade!  He went to the bus stop about 15 minutes early because he just couldn’t wait to get to school and see all his friends.

Two years ago he had to adjust to a new school.  Last year he had to adjust to a full school day and riding the bus.  But this year there were no major adjustments.  I could tell it was ‘business as usual’ for him now.  He’s becoming a pro at this back to school thing.

As for how the day went, Alan described it as “Greeeaaaat!”  He went on to explain how his class had not one, but two recesses.  Clearly it doesn’t get any better than that!

Popsicles with the Principal

Today Alan got ready for 1st grade at “Popsicles with the Principal.” This new event involved students coming into the building on the final day of summer vacation to check out their classrooms and drop off school supplies at their desks.  And of course the Principal was on hand to pass out popsicles to the kids!

Disney Dream Cruise

As part of one final summer adventure, Alan went on a “Disney Dream” Cruise to the Bahamas with his Mom and Grandma Wa-boo from August 11th – 14th.  Alan told me his favorite parts were “Pirate Night” on the cruise, swimming in the ship’s pool — including going down the water slide — and the carriage ride at the Bahamas.  He said there was mini-golf, too, and he got another hole-in-one!

2017 Chicago Trip

This weekend Alan and I traveled to Chicago for our annual trip.  Below are the highlights.

Friday, August 4th, 2017:

Alan and I flew together for the first time, arriving at O’Hare airport a little after 9:00pm CST on Friday night.  After a quick stop at Target for Alan’s food (and a Peppa Pig train that somehow got in the shopping cart), we arrived at the house.  Alan’s first request was to bring out the Lincoln Logs – a favorite from our last trip!

Saturday, August 5th, 2017:

As soon as Alan woke up on Saturday, he got to work building with the Lincoln Logs.  Together with Robbie, he built the barn and pig-sty pictured below.  Tragically, though, the pig sty was destroyed by a tornado shortly after this photo was taken. 😉

Afterwards we headed to the Chicago Botantic Garden to see the train display.  Alan waited all year to see his favorite model trains again, and he was in train heaven once he arrived.  He told me his favorite train this time was the passenger train (shown below).  However, he certainly got a kick out of the engine that got separated from the rest of its cars too.

   

When we went looking for the butterfly train car – a favorite from last year – we were surprised to find a lady bug train car in its place.  We later learned that the butterfly car rotates with both a lady bug car and a caterpillar car!  Alan requested that we see the other two that were in storage.  He ultimately kept the butterfly at the top of his rankings.

     

Following the Garden, we headed to the Deerfield Public Library, where Alan played with more trains!  He also checked out a book on transportation-related songs and poems and bought two other books involving transportation.

After lunch at Rhapsody Café, it was on to mini-golf at Highland Park with Robbie. Alan started off on fire — scoring 2’s four times on the front nine!  He led me by 1 stroke after nine (while trailing Robbie by just 1) and was hanging in through twelve holes, but then requested that we stop keeping score for the rest of the day.

At the conclusion of golf, Alan called a ‘do-again’ of sorts.  He had so much fun in the morning that he requested a second visit to the Garden (our tickets were good for the whole day) and a second round of mini-golf.  We obliged, and Alan got to experience the fun all over again!

In our second round of golf – this time with Jill as the third player – Alan drained his second career hole-in-one!  One thing is for sure: when golfing in Chicago, Alan will hit at least one perfect shot.  So I asked him to pose for his customary hole-in-one photo again. 🙂

   

During the evening we also took our annual photo at the famous backyard tree (see photo at beginning of post).

Sunday, August 6th, 2017:

Sunday started with a real train ride for Alan!  He rode with Jill from Deerfield to North Glenview.  Alan requested riding on the 2nd level of the 2nd car.  That was important to him after riding on the 1st level last year.  He loved the ride, of course.

We returned home by mid-morning and Alan continued building with Lincoln Logs.  This time he and Jill built one house, one barn, and two garages.  Then he played Monopoly Junior for the first time with Jill.  They played with modified rules, but it was a great first exposure to the game for Alan.

Then it was off to lunch at the Deerfield Square.  After our outdoor lunch, Alan called for a second visit to the Deerfield Public Library.  There, Alan played with his trains, as well as the word game pictured below.

Afterwards, Alan and I unfortunately had to catch our 4:30PM CST flight home.  But not before we snapped the photo below at O’Hare.  While waiting in line for the plane, Alan made a friend named Ashlyn.  She had her Lady (from Lady and the Tramp) stuffed animal chase the Lightning McQueen car that Alan had just purchased, to the delight of several onlookers.

Thanks to Robbie and Jill for hosting us for another fantastic weekend.  Alan’s already looking forward to returning next Memorial Day!

Fun ‘N’ Stuff Round 2

I promised Alan a return trip to Fun ‘N’ Stuff before the summer ended, and today Alan cashed in.  With Alan slated for trips the next two weekends to Chicago and Orlando (actually a Disney Cruise), this is actually his last weekend of summer vacation in Mayfield.

At Fun ‘N’ Stuff, Alan started at mini golf and continued with air hockey, skee-ball, and other arcade games.  Before the afternoon was out, we played four games of air hockey and three rounds of mini golf – Alan’s top two favorites!

He cashed in his tickets earned for the day on twizzlers (for Daddy), lollipops (for himself), and three cars.  That’s my Alan.

  

Tribe Game No. 4 of 2017

 

Today was a hot one at the ballpark, and it was quite crowded.  “Alan the blur” ran a great time in his race and hit the first pitch he saw in Little League Park.  He played a new game he made up in the Kids Clubhouse where he ran and jumped on the oversized glove over and over again.  There I was a able to snap a nice photo of Alan showing off that “missing tooth smile.” 🙂

Alan also asked to sit in the upper deck above the family zone – with a box of popcorn – and watch some of the game.  Alan’s starting to enjoy doing that more and more.  Before long, it was time to run the bases!

  

Library Tradition

Alan and I declared a new weekly tradition today: Sunday afternoon trips to the Mayfield Library.  Today was our second straight Sunday visit, and we have decided to make it a weekly occurrence.

Alan of course has a long history with libraries already.  His Mom also takes him to the Mayfield Library to read and check out toys.  In the years before he started Kindergarten, Alan went to the Solon Library weekly with Grandma Debbie.  And before that Alan and I would go to the old Mayfield Library on Saturday mornings when he was 1 and 2 years old.

Last weekend Alan checked out Troto and the Trucks.  Today Alan checked out Truck Stop.  Ever since he was little, he’s loved books about cars, trucks, trains and all other forms of transportation.  And now he’s able to read most of the words by himself.

We saw Noah at the library today too!

7/22/17 update: After we bumped into Noah at the library, we arranged for a play date at Noah’s house.  Alan went over today for a couple hours and stayed by himself.  He said they mainly played baseball (inside) and played with Noah’s hot wheels car launcher — no surprise that’s what Alan wanted to try out.  The boys were pretty riled up when I arrived.  They seemed to have a great time together!

Tribe Game No. 3 of 2017

With the Indians on Sunday night baseball this weekend, Alan and I opted to head to the ballpark for a Saturday night ballgame – Alan’s 1st night game of the season.

Alan had a blast staying out late and made it all the way to the 9th inning of the game (he’d ultimately be up past midnight for the first time).  Among the highlights of the evening were the following:

-Alan recorded a career-best sprint time: 7.08 seconds.  Alan loved the “human blur” picture below. 🙂

-Alan hit his first career home run at Little League Park!! Really, he did.  He wacked the whiffle ball just above the yellow line in left field.  It was awesome to see the HR, which came with a man on.  That was definitely the moment of the night.

-We bought “Mick,” a rally monkey named by Alan, at the team shop.  Alan loved the long arms and had to have it.  Mick’s hands have Velcro on them so Alan could wear Mick while we watched some of the game from the Kids Clubhouse.

Note: before we left the Kids Clubhouse, Alan wanted to take a “serious catcher” photo.  😉

-Alan was more interested in watching the game than he has been previously.  He wanted to check out the view from different seats in the ballpark, and asked if we could sit in the RF upper deck.  I said yes, and while we were up there, we watched Jose Ramirez hit.  Alan has been taking an interest in Jose, who became an All-Star this year for the first time after meeting Alan on April 30th.  Alan roots for him, even if he isn’t quite sure why “Jose” doesn’t sound like it looks.

Reading Prize; New Apartment

Alan wrapped up the Summer Reading Program today and got to pick out a free book at the Mayfield Library as a prize.  Alan picked out The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day, which was fitting since we moved to a new apartment this weekend!

Alan has been a huge help this weekend — he even helped assemble the bedroom drawers.  We christened our new place by playing games of Go Fish, throwing [soft] balls down the apartment’s long corridor, and shooting hoops on our mini-hoop above the bedroom door all weekend long. I think we’re going to like the new place very much.

Summer Sleepover & Cars 3

Last night Alan’s summer fun continued with a sleepover with Tyler at Grandma Debbie’s.  The highlight of the night for the duo was seeing the movie Cars 3 at the Aurora movie theater.  It was Alan’s first trip to the theater at night and Tyler’s first trip overall.  Alan’s always been a fan of the Cars series, and he enjoyed the new character, Jackson Storm, too.

Today the kids went to an elementary school playground and McDonald’s.  They also played some computer games together.  Alan usually doesn’t like to go more than two weeks without seeing Tyler, and they’d play together all day if it was up to Alan.

7/15/17 Update: Alan picked out a new Cars 3 backpack to use in first grade!  Both Lightning McQueen and Jackson Storm are featured on it.

End of Season Baseball Update

Alan has wrapped-up his rookie year in the Mayfield Boys’ Baseball League.  Here’s a recap of the second half of the season:

6/9 – Alan goes 3-for-3 and plays 3B and P.  He makes his mark fielding from the pitcher position, and is established as a regular there – a prime fielding position for this league.

6/16 – Alan goes 3-for-3 and plays 2B and P.  After the game, Alan discovers that I’m the one who has been bringing the marker board for the lineup to each game.  He proceeds to borrow it and write notes — including his own version of the team’s batting order. 🙂

6/23 – Game rained out.

6/30 – Alan goes 1-for-1 and plays 2B before the rain comes and postpones the game after one inning played.  Alan finishes the season batting 1.000!

It was a great debut season for Alan in MBBL play.  I loved coaching third, managing the lineup for the kids, and standing in the field with Alan.  Next summer Alan will move up to the league for 7 & 8 year-olds.  He’s ready!

Parade 2017

Alan collected candy for himself, Mom, & Dad at the annual Mayfield Heights Parade this afternoon.  Parade participants traditionally bring lots of candy to distribute to the parade watchers.  By the end of the parade, Alan had a bag full just like Halloween!

Fireworks Night 2017

Alan and I spent the evening and night at Mayfield Heights Unity Days — one of our favorite summer traditions.

We followed a similar path as last year, starting with the playground and inflatable games, until Alan found a balloon artist!  He asked for and got the Donatello pictured above, which came with Alan’s special twist: Michaelangelo’s nunchecks.

After that we went to Alan’s absolute favorite activity of the night:  bubble-chasing.  Alan spent a good hour running to and from bubbles with a sizable group of kids (including Mike and Joe from his baseball team and Grace from Millridge).  He loved it so much, he just kept going back for more and more. 🙂

After some more time on the playground, it was about time to get ready to watch the fireworks from our usual spot across from City Hall / in front of Party Place.  But first we purchased a lightsaber and light-wand at the park and then walked to McDonald’s for some fries.  We watched the first part of the fireworks from our car, before Alan [excitedly] spotted his classmate Sam.  We watched the second part with Sam and her parents.

Fun ‘N’ Stuff

  

Today I took the day off work and went with Alan to Fun ‘N’ Stuff in Macedonia.  It’s a place I enjoyed going to as a kid, so I thought Alan might enjoy it as well.  It was also a great opportunity to get a head start on celebrating Father’s Day weekend together!

Alan loved the arcade.  He hit the jackpot on one of the ticket-gathering games, and racked up about 200 of his 490 tickets overall on that one turn.  His favorite games in the arcade were definitely skee-ball and air hockey.  We must’ve played 5-6 games of air hockey in all.  🙂

  

Alan’s favorite physical activities were the rock climbing wall (a legit wall, with a harness), go-karts (we rode together in one car), bounce house (pictured at the top of this post) and miniature golf.  Alan decided we should play both 18-hole courses — perhaps as a warm-up for our upcoming Chicago trip!

  

Alan is already asking when we can go back!  I enjoyed it too, so I think we’ll certainly be back again before summer is over.

Tribe Game No. 2 of 2017

Today Alan and I kicked off the summer season of Sunday afternoon Indians games.  We came straight from Alan’s baseball practice, so we didn’t arrive until midway through the game.  Alan had only enough time for his favorite activities, which he decided were batting and sprinting.

We did stop inside the Kids Clubhouse for the quick photo opp below (Alan’s idea), two trips down the slide, and popcorn — which seems to have replaced the soft pretzel as Alan’s go-to ballpark food item.

Before long it was time to run the bases!  Alan also took the photo below outside the Indians dugout.

In addition to getting our fill of baseball on this hot, sunny day, we also turned our attention to the Cavaliers.  Both before and after the game we stopped for a few pictures with the NBA Finals signage.  Go Cavaliers!

Note 1: Upon our arrival at the ballpark, we were greeted by a 443-foot foul ball off the bat of Encarnacion that landed about 15 feet from us outside the left field gate.  We watched it sail overhead and land outside the ballpark.

Note 2: The NBA Finals games have been on too late for Alan to watch, but he’s aware the Cavs have reached the championship round once again.  During the Eastern Conference Finals, Alan did watch the Game 2 massacre in Boston with me when the Cavs won 130-86 over the Celtics on May 19th.

Alan’s First Piano Recital

Alan rocked his piano recital today, playing the best version of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” I’ve ever heard.  Grandma Debbie & Papa and Tata & Papa were there to see Alan’s debut performance, along with Veronica and I.

Afterwards we stayed for the Music Settlement’s annual picnic.  Alan would later take home a certificate and a music note trophy to commemorate the completion of his first full year at the Music Settlement.  Way to go, Alan!

McDonald’s

This guy loves going to McDonald’s and ordering chicken nuggets and fries.  I love joining him and hanging out.  It’s our special time together.

Today we went prior to his piano recital.  As always, Alan picked the table, carried the tray, and got the ketchup on his own.  We also picked up a “beanie boo” named Freckles!

Mid-Season Baseball Update

We’ve reached the midpoint in Alan’s rookie year in the Mayfield Boys’ Baseball League.  Here’s a recap of the games to date:

5/13 – Alan goes 2-for-2 and plays 2B.  He gets a big kick out of me waving him home for the first time (it was the first time he’s seen the motion of a 3B coach).

5/19 – Alan goes 3-for-3 and plays 2B and 3B.  At 2B, he fields a hot shot grounded on a real nice play.

5/26 – Game rained out.

6/2 – Alan bats leadoff and goes 4-for-4 with his whole family in attendance.  He plays SS and P, where the ball finds him on several occasions.  Alan continues to field the routine grounders.  He’s also commended for helping up players off the ground, including his new buddy and teammate, Tommy.

Kindergarten Memories (Daddy’s)

From the first day of Kindergarten to the last, Alan had a blast!  And I enjoyed taking part in Alan’s school year equally as much.

There were lots of memorable moments, and here I’ll try to capture the best of the ones that I shared with Alan — in hopes that I’ll read this post years from now and be able to remember these exact images, expressions, and feelings.

On August 17th, I took Alan to his first day of school/orientation on when he met his teacher and made his first new Kindergarten friend – Noah.  Alan was brave, even though he later admitted to being nervous to meet so many new faces.  I hope to always remember him returning to me and proudly telling me about making a new friend.

On September 28th, I came to school for Donuts with Dad and stayed for the first day of centers.  Alan took the bus to school that day, and I met him in the gym where the kids waited until they were permitted to walk to their classrooms at the first bell.  I hope to always remember the expression on his face when I entered the gym and he excitedly stood up and flagged me down.  That day he also laughed hysterically when his friends Julian and Tony climbed on my back.  It’s a story he loved reminding me of all year long. 🙂

On November 16th, I came back to school for another day of centers.  During bellwork, Alan’s lost a tooth for the first time.  I hope to always remember the surprise on our faces.

On December 16th, Veronica and I read to Alan’s class and shared stories about Alan when he was the “Smartie of the Week.”  I hope to always remember how proud he was to have his parents talk to the class.

On March 22nd, I volunteered for centers again.  When we were taking a picture together, Alan gave me the warmest hug I can ever remember him giving me.  I hope to always remember the feeling of that hug.

On April 26th, I came to school to watch Alan participate in the Q & U wedding.  Alan turned to look at me and laugh every time the assistant principal – acting as the minister – told a joke about Mr. Q having to buy gifts for Mrs. U (I later found out that Alan wrote about that in his journal too).  I hope to always remember how happy Alan looked when he laughed at the jokes.

On May 18th, I came to school with Alan in the evening for the end of year Kindergarten Program.  It was an emotional night watching the video slideshow and realizing the year was just about over.  Maybe I don’t need to remember how sad I was!

On May 23rd, I helped supervise Kindergarten Field Day.  I hope to always remember how excited Alan was that his group started the day on the playground with me.

On May 25th, I took Alan to the bus stop in the morning and attended his last day of school lunch.  I hope to always remember him peaking out the bus window and smiling to me, as well as him calling my name when he saw me at school while standing in the lunch line.

Other memories I’ll take away from Kindergarten include working on all the special projects with Alan and the Monday night poem homework assignments.  Alan had to read and answer questions about a weekly poem, which we typically worked together on after school on Monday nights.  His favorite part was competing against Daddy in the word search game we created. 🙂

Last Day of Kindergarten

Alan’s school year is now in the books!  This morning I photographed Alan getting on the bus one last time as a Kindergartner.  He was still chewing his breakfast as we waited for the bus. 🙂

At school, the kids had an all-grades awards assembly in the morning.  There the kids also recorded a “Let’s Go Cavs” chant on video for the Cavs!  The photo below was taken just before the chant by the assistant principal (and posted to Twitter).  Alan appears on the very left edge of the photo in a gray shirt in approximately the 5th row.

Note: The Cavs went on to clinch their third straight Eastern Conference title by beating the Celtics tonight!

Later on in the morning, I stopped by the school to have lunch with Alan.  Parents were invited in for a hot dog lunch on the last day.

Before I left for work, I watched the kids dance and play in the gym during indoor recess.  It looked like they were having a blast.

Later in the evening Alan told me that he and his friends didn’t want summer to come because they like school too much.  Good news for them is that first grade is just under 12 weeks away!

Picnic at the Park

Alan and his classmates continued their busy month of May today at the annual Kindergarten “Picnic at the Park.”  I joined the kids as a volunteer supervisor at their field trip to Highland Heights Park.  It was a near perfect day weather-wise.

Parents arrived around 9:00 to begin setting up for the Kindergartener’s field day, and the kids arrived on buses around 9:30.  Alan was partnered with Maddie for the day, and they were assigned to group 5.  Natalee – Alan’s former preschool classmate – was also in their group.

I was assigned to playground supervision duty, and Alan’s group was sent to my “center” first — the best in the eyes of 6-year olds.  Alan loved it, as the Highland Heights Park is known for its daring climbing opportunities.

The kids all wore their green Mayfield shirts, that read “I am a Mayfield Wildcat” on the front and “Class of 2029” on the back.

After finishing climbing, Alan and Maddie tried out the seesaw.  They had a nice flow going!

Alan then rotated through stations that included tag, soccer, an obstacle course and even temporary tattoos before it was time for lunch and playground free time.

At lunch Alan sat with his best buddy Xavier.  His Donald Duck and Goofy temporary tattoos can be seen on his left hand. 🙂

After lunch Alan proceeded to the kickball, chalk-drawing, hoola-hoop, and bean bag toss stations.  Eventually I was able to leave the playground and meet up with him.  He ended the day at the bubble station with Sam, which turned out to be a lot of laughs.

From there, the kids went back to school around 1:45 to pack up and head home on their buses.  I met Alan when he got off the bus and we made a special Tuesday afternoon trip to McDonald’s for some extra time together.  It was a great day!

Video Slideshow Program

Tonight after school, kids and their parents went to Mrs. Feldman’s room for what appeared on the school calendar as an “Open House.”  When Alan and I got there, we found out it was a gathering to watch a video slideshow of the year in Kindergarten!

The kids loved seeing each other in the slideshow and had plenty of comments as the images rolled on.  Parents loved it too.  It was the first time I got to see the pictures taken of Alan and I during centers, Alan’s “Smartie of the Week” family day, and the Q & U wedding day.

Before the night was out, the kids were presented with a basket of candy, small toys, and glowsticks. And the parents didn’t go home empty-handed either.  I walked away with a copy of the DVD we watched in the classroom, a photo album of Alan’s pictures from the year, Alan’s journal, and other drawings shown below — which I absolutely loved.  I’ll cherish them as reminders of a wonderful Kindergarten year for Alan.

Summer Baseball

Alan made his Mayfield Instructional League debut today in the 5 and 6 year-olds “coach-pitch” division.  He played great, getting two solid hits to left field and splitting time at pitcher’s helper and second base in the field.  Alan was excited to receive quite a few grounders from the pitcher’s helper position.  And he encountered best friend Grady while covering second.

Alan plays for the Village Vet Clinic team and the opener was against the Mo Vaughn Trucking team.  Yes, that Mo Vaughn – the former Red Sox, Angel, and Met first baseman who slugged 328 home runs between 1991 and 2003.  Alan and I both shook his hand in the handshake line following the game.

Final score:  A 16-16 tie.

Kindergarten Adventures

Today Alan went to Grady’s house after school.  It marked the first time he rode home on a friend’s bus.  According to Alan, the two classmates played on Grady’s trampoline and swing set until Mom picked him up.  He was definitely proud to have a little taste of independence.

It’s also worth noting that Alan went through the proper approval channels to set this meeting up, including getting permission from his parents and the school office to ride bus #29 instead of bus #3.  Earlier this year, when Alan made an executive decision to board Grady’s bus without informing anyone in advance, he was a bit surprised by the reaction of the bus driver and ensuing call to Mom’s work.

He’s come a long way this year. 🙂

Kids Starting Lineup – Behind the Scenes

A behind the scenes look at Alan’s MLB debut:

The day was made possible by Robbie and Jill winning an auction that allowed Alan to be in the Kids Starting Lineup.  We found out the great news on April 17th.  Alan was thrilled when I told him over the phone that day.  I can still hear the happy sound in his voice while saying “Whaat!?” when I told him the Indians need him on the field before the game.

On April 19th Alan created artwork which depicts his family driving to Progressive Field to see him on the field.  In the drawing, there’s a Hyundai (Daddy), Honda (Robbie and Jill), and Mercedes (Grandma Debbie and Papa) clearly marked on Alan’s highway.

On April 22nd Alan wrote a thank you note to Robbie and Jill and a separate letter to the Indians (pictured above), which we mailed to Progressive Field that day.  Also on the 22nd, we bought his very first Indians jersey for the occasion — which he wanted to model with Tyler!

On April 24th Alan and I practiced finding all 9 positions on a baseball field diagram.  We also reviewed throughout the week.

On April 30th Alan’s big day went off without a hitch.  It was warm and sunny at game time, despite a forecast calling for isolated thunderstorms.  It had also rained for most of the previous two days.  Alan’s cheering section saved the day, since I was not positioned as close to Alan as I thought I would be.

On May 1st I received the following email reply from Chris Antonetti, after having sent him a scan of Alan’s letter & artwork and a recent photo:

“Thanks for the note, the letter from Alan, and the picture.  It’s cool to see Alan sporting his Tribe gear and be so engaged with the team.  I hope Alan enjoyed the Kids Starting Lineup experience yesterday.  All the best, Chris”

On May 2nd Mrs. Feldman shared the photo of Alan running the bases with Alan’s kindergarten class!  When I asked Alan how he felt about that, he smiled and commented “the whole class was looking at me!”  I asked if that made him proud and he said “yes.”  We also joked together that Alan must’ve left a cloud of dust behind him because it looks like he’s running so fast (Alan loves when we say that).

Other notes:

-Alan received two complimentary tickets for the game, which he and I used to enter.

-Alan found out he was assigned to 3B and Jose Ramirez upon arriving at the Terrace Club (the designated meeting area).  Alan was very excited to be assigned to 3B because it was a position he had played during spring baseball.  He told me that 3B was the position he was hoping he’d get.

-Alan and I entered the field from the third base line seats next to the Indians dugout.  I exited the field from the door directly behind home plate.  The kids left the same way they came onto the field.

-Parents had to leave the field a little early (before the kids) so Tomlin could start his warm-up pitches on the mound. The Indians’ field team thought we were at risk of being hit by an errant throw.  However, just before the National Anthem, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager played catch right next to us.

-After Alan’s photo reached the Indians website on Sunday evening, it was also posted to Indians Facebook and Twitter the next day.

-When I asked Alan to share how he felt about the Kids Starting Lineup experience overall, he said he was both nervous and excited.  And, oh yeah, he’d like to do it again sometime.  🙂

Tribe Game No. 1 of 2017 – Kids Starting Lineup

On April 30th, 2017 Alan made his major league debut at Progressive Field, playing third base and batting 4th in the Kids Starting Lineup!  Here’s the timeline and recap of Alan’s eventful day:

11:09 –11:39 – Alan and his traveling party ride to the ballpark aboard the RTA Green Line. When Alan arrives at Tower City, he eats his pregame meal: A soft pretzel (his favorite baseball food).

12:10 – Alan enters the ballpark and meets up with the other 7 kids in the starting lineup at the Terrace Club elevators.  A few minutes later, the kids (and parents) head down to the field level and set up on the track behind home plate.

12:20 – Mickey Calloway rolls baseballs to the kids from the Indians dugout.

12:30 – Alan’s cheering section finds him behind home plate; many photos are taken.

12:53 – The kids line up in order and head down the left field line for the National Anthem.  Alan’s cheering section shifts with him.

12:57 – The Hot Dogs and Slider greet the kids while they wait to take the field.

1:03 – The Kids Starting Lineup is announced by Sara Shookman of Channel 3 News and Alan runs out to third base!  Video of the action was captured from the third base seats and from behind home plate (Jumbotron in view).

1:08 – The Indians take the field, and Alan meets Jose Ramirez!  Alan gets an autographed ball from Ramirez before heading off the field.

1:10 – Josh Tomlin throws the first pitch and the Indians game is underway.  The temperature at first pitch is 76 degrees, though it feels much warmer in the sun.

1:20 – Alan and I are reunited under the stadium, and we return to the main concourse to meet up with the family.

1:35 – Now on the family deck, Alan picks up his 2017 Tribe Town MVP souvenirs and enters the Kids Clubhouse.

2:00 – The Indians begin an 8-run rally in the bottom of the 3rd inning – their highest scoring inning since May 2015.

2:10 – Jose Ramirez, likely inspired by Alan, tags and scores on a shallow pop-fly to RF with an incredible tag-avoiding slide.

2:15 – Alan orders the largest box of popcorn either of us has ever seen.

2:20 – Brantley caps the Indians’ 8-run outburst with a 2-run HR to right field.

2:40 – Alan returns to the family deck activities after eating lunch.  He climbs the Lofton wall and hits at Little League Park.

3:10 – Alan beats [simulated] Slider in a footrace and tests his pitching accuracy.

3:40 – This picture is taken:  🙂

4:00– Alan enters the “Kids Run the Bases” line and moves towards the front with his Tribe Town MVP badge.

4:08 – Indians record the final out and beat the Mariners 12-4.

4:15 – Alan circles the bases in record time!  He also coaxes me out of retirement, and I struggle to keep up.  Later a photo of Alan appears on the Indians website in their game recap photo gallery. 🙂

4:20 – Alan stops for some finals photos. He also plays photographer and takes a few photos of his traveling party – plus some selfies – to wrap up the day at the ballpark.

5:04 – 5:32 – We return home on RTA.  Afterwards, Alan wants to watch the train until it leaves the station, which we do because it’s his day.

Sunny in Cleveland

Today we arrived for Chinese class early, so we did some sight-seeing on the mall area around Key Tower and Cleveland Browns Stadium.  Alan loves seeing the Tower, whether it’s up close or from afar (He also went inside when he visited me at work to deliver Christmas presents when he was 3, but he doesn’t remember that).

It was a beautiful day in Cleveland – weather wise and sports wise.  The Cavs began their title defense with a win over the Pacers in Gm 1 of their first round series, while the Indians beat the Tigers right next door.

  

Cavaliers Game

Alan and I watched the Cavaliers beat the 76ers at the Q tonight!  It was our 1st game of the regular season together and Alan’s second overall.  He went to the Feb. 25th game vs the Bulls with Mom as well.

Alan watched a good portion of the second quarter from our seats and cheered every time that LeBron, Kyrie, or Love — his favorites — scored points or grabbed rebounds.  Before that, he was busy taking pictures with them. 🙂

Other highlights of the night included taking in the sights around the concourse and stopping by the Wine & Gold United Membership area for stickers and photos. Alan loved wearing his LeBron jersey, which I bought him after he became a member of the Cavs Kids Club this year!

 

Hitting Drills

Alan worked on his hitting skills in more depth tonight at baseball practice.  The class started with a race to get warm, then moved to hitting soft toss with a whiffle bat into a screen.  Alan was first in line to hit, then he helped Daddy (the soft tosser) gather the whiffle balls while the other kids took their turns.

At the next station, Alan went first again when the class instructor held out the training stick.  This drill required an aluminum bat, and  Alan was proud to volunteer his personal bat for the class to use.

Fielding Grounders

Tonight Alan put in work [smoothly] fielding grounders, catching pop-ups, and hitting some soft toss at baseball practice.  He made me really proud when he volunteered to hit in front of the class with the instructor at the start of batting practice!

Alan used a brand new 10.5 inch Rawlings glove for the first time tonight, after I surprised him with it earlier this week.  We did our best to break it in as soon as possible, and even put it through a steaming process, which was new to me.

We retired his 9 inch Rawlings glove, which Alan picked out back in early 2014 when he was 3 years old.  Back then Alan didn’t know yet what baseball was, but he knew he wanted that glove when he tried it on for the first time.

Centers, Sports Day at Millridge

Today was another centers day for Kindergarteners — the first after busy season at work for me — so I jumped at the opportunity to drive Alan to school and spend the morning with him and his classmates!

It also happened to be Sports Day at school, so Alan and I both went in Cavaliers attire. During bellwork, Alan had to write and answer the following questions in his journal:

  1. What is your favorite sport?
  2. What is your favorite team?
  3. Who is your favorite player?

Alan responded with “baseball,” “Indians,” and “LeBron James.”  All very understandable answers!

When it was time for centers, I manned a station with a math game.  The kids rotated through in groups of three or four.  Alan was in a group with his best friends Xavier and Grady.  I loved how all three kids combined to cover the Cavaliers, Indians, and Browns with their shirts.

Side note: Alan ended up winning the math game.  Later in the day, when I called Alan after he got home from school, he revealed to me that he thought he won because he was wearing his Cavaliers championship shirt.

After the math game, Alan and his friends rotated through other tables that involved puzzles, coloring, and drawing.  At one station Alan drew a plane and a truck (specifically a Target truck) that he gave to me to take home. Obviously I loved it.

At the conclusion of centers, I stayed with Alan as the kids ate their snacks, then left for work afterwards.  I would’ve stayed for the whole day if I could have!

Tribe Fest 2017

Today Alan attended Tribe Fest for the first time!  We went straight for the kids activities — Lego building, a pitching accuracy game, and balloons!

At the Lego table, Alan built an awesome airplane with his imagination. At the pitching activity, Alan picked up 2 bullseyes and many more strikes! Once we finally found the balloon station, Alan requested a baseball hat and a sword…and he played with them all night long afterwards.

Can’t wait for the return of baseball season!

11/17/17 Update: When Robbie went to purchase tickets for Tribe Fest 2018, he found a photo of Alan playing with Legos in last year’s gallery! Turns out this photo was actually Alan’s debut appearance on the Indians website.

Christmas 2016

For Alan, this Christmas weekend was a characterized by cousins, friends, fun times, and a straight haul of Paw Patrol, Miles From Tomorrowland, and Lego toys!

Friday, December 23rd:

Alan started the day on Friday by making his annual visit to see Luke in Streetsboro, where Alan’s first gifts of the weekend were Legos and books!  But I think Alan enjoyed playing with Luke more so than receiving the Legos. 🙂

Later in the night, Alan had a sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s.  We tried out the new Paw Patrol table we got for doing homework and played Alan’s favorite game: “Go Fish!”

Saturday, December 24th:

Alan and his cousins got together to open toys, chase each other around, and have a blast at the family party on Saturday.  Alan received all the toys pictured above thanks to his grandparents, Papa and Tata, and Robbie and Jill.  Included in the haul of toys was a Paw Patrol train set, various Miles from Tomorrowland vehicles, a Lego fire truck and police car, and an appropriately-timed John Glenn space shuttle toy from 1998 (one of Daddy’s favorites)!

Following the party, Alan went home and starting putting together his Legos.  He also made hot cocoa for Santa and put out carrots for the reindeer before going to sleep.  We kept the Christmas tree lights turned on so that Santa could find his way. 🙂

Sunday, December 25th:

This morning Alan woke up to find that Santa gave him an Indians car and an Indians van (as written on his Christmas wishlist at school), as well as the Paw Patrol race track pictured above.  He got everything that he wanted from Santa!  After assembling the race track, we finished putting together the remaining Legos from yesterday.  Then it was off to open presents with his Mom!

There will certainly be a lot of new toys for Alan, Tyler, and Carleigh to play with at Grandma Debbie’s house in the weeks and months ahead!

“Smartie” of the Week

This week at school it was Alan’s turn to be the featured “Smartie” of the week!  As part of the fun, he got to wear a crown, be the boys line leader, and lead calendar activities all week.  He also got to present his “All About Me” poster (see 12/5/16 post) to the class and have his parents come in and read to the class!

We came in to school this afternoon and read two of Alan’s favorites: Hot Rod Hamster and Ten on the Sled.  Alan turned the pages while we read. He also called on students during the interactive portion of Hot Rod Hamster.  Afterwards I shared facts about Alan — including his love for baseball and the Indians — to the rest of the kids.

It was quite an exciting day overall for Alan, since the kids wore their pajamas to school and watched Polar Express together. At the end of the day, I was presented with another Christmas gift from Alan: the Rudolph artwork pictured below. 🙂

Return of Elfie

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Guess who’s back?  It’s Elfie!  And he’s got a message from Alan to deliver to Santa tonight!  This year Alan would like an Indians van and a Paw Patrol train set from Santa.  Alan also wanted to let Santa know that he’s going to make coffee for him and leave out some carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Today Alan celebrated Thanksgiving with Tyler, Carleigh, and the rest of the family! He loves seeing his cousins and playing tag with them. Tomorrow they’ll be back for more, as the cousins are having a sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s!

Today was a rainy Thanksgiving, so we couldn’t play baseball like we did last year.  But we did continue our tradition of decorating our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving.  Alan was in charge of putting up all of the decorations around the apartment as well. 🙂

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Lost Tooth, Centers

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Alan lost his first tooth during morning bell work at school today!  I was with him when it happened, as I was a classroom volunteer today for centers (I led Thanksgiving-themed bingo).  When the tooth fell out, Alan noticed something white on the table and looked at it and said “What’s this?”  Somehow I knew it was going to be his tooth before I looked over.  Mrs. Feldman gave us a tooth-shaped carrying case (pictured below) for safe keeping. 🙂

It seems like a long shot that Alan would lose his first tooth on the day I was at school with him.  However, my first tooth also fell out when my Mom was with me on the first day of kindergarten.  What are the odds…

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11/17/16 Update: This morning when Alan woke up, he found that the tooth fairy came and left him $1 in an envelope. He was excited. 🙂

Ballot

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During this election season, Alan received an introduction to voting by filling out a “kids ballot” from the public library.  Alan voted the following: 🙂

  • Favorite season: Winter
  • Favorite color: Green
  • Favorite team: Indians
  • Favorite sport: Baseball
  • Favorite Disney princess: Rapunzel

While Alan is too young to understand actual elections, he at least learned about the concepts of voting and ballots through the library and his parents.

When Alan does reach voting age , I would like to share with him the messages contained in Hillary Clinton’s gracious and eloquent concession speech from earlier this week (excerpt below). I’ve never respected and admired a public servant more than her. Although this year was not the time for a leader with her vision, I believe that in Alan’s lifetime he will see great progress towards a country that respects all people, regardless of our differences.

“…Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted…let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear. Making our economy work for everyone, protecting our country and protecting our planet. And breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams….we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone—for people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.”

[Picture taken above at Hillary Clinton rally at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland on 11/6/16]

World Series Game 3 Watch Party

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The Year of Cleveland has continued with the Tribe now in the World Series, and Alan and I took advantage by venturing to the Game 3 Watch Party at Progressive Field tonight!

Alan was thrilled to learn that he’d be able to see Progressive Field again after I had previously told him that the end of the regular season would be our last chance to see the ballpark together this season. But with the Tribe extending its season deep into October, the Dolans opening the ballpark for a watch party, Robbie getting us Club Level tickets, and Game 3 of the World Series falling on a Friday night, things set up perfectly for us.

I waited until Thursday night to give Alan the good news about our Friday plans, and he was excited for them all day on Friday. He loves that turning 6 meant that he’s permitted to go to night games. And he was thrilled to hear that we would meet Robbie and David at the ballpark!

We got downtown about 15 minutes before first pitch, snapped some photos on our walk, and headed into the ballpark.  We picked up rally towels at the gates, and then Alan picked out a World Series bear at the souvenir stand.

After leaving the team shop, we found Robbie and David on the Club Level and watched the game on the scoreboard from some great seats. To Alan’s delight, we had access to unlimited free soft pretzels — Alan’s favorite ballpark food!

It was quite significant that Alan sat and watched a few innings.  Even though he’s gone to a lot of games with me, usually he’s participating in the kids activities and not necessarily following the game.  Tonight, however, was geared for the adults (the Kids Clubhouse was closed), but that did not deter Alan from enjoying the night.

He loved waving his rally towel with the crowd, and happily took some photos with Robbie, David, and I.  Due to the late start time for the game, we could only stay  through about the 6th inning.  But fortunately Alan did get to watch the hot dog race — his favorite gameday experience outside of running the bases — from the Home Run Porch on our way out.

The fun did not stop there, though.  Alan [unexpectedly] stayed awake the whole car ride home and we listened to the Tribe grab a 1-0 lead on the radio. When we got home — with Alan still wide awake — we built with Tinker Toys while watching the last couple innings on TV.

Alan stayed up all the way through the last out of the 1-0 Tribe victory — which came on a Cody Allen strikeout and was followed by us exchanging high fives.  When we were sitting on the couch, Alan’s ears perked up each time he heard the announcer say “Cody Allen.” It was the first time he recognized an Indians player by name.  As Jill later pointed out (via text), between Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, Alan’s name is covered by the Tribe. 🙂

I’m not sure if any night can top watching the Cavs win Game 7 of the NBA Finals with Alan on Father’s Day, but tonight at least enters the discussion.  What a night!

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11/3/16 Update

A few notes to add on this year’s World Series

-I attended Game 1 with Robbie (after watching the Cavs raise the championship banner earlier that night), the watch party for Game 4 with Robbie, the watch party for Game 5 with Shane, and Game 7 with Robbie, David, Therese and my Dad.

-Alan and I watched the beginning of Game 6 together at home. Prior to first pitch, we took advantage of the 70+ degree weather and played catch and hit balls at the park.  Alan used his new metal bat. 🙂

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Fall Weekends

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I think it’s safe to say that no one has more fun on weekends this fall than Alan.

Friday nights involve parties with me.  Saturdays are all about Chinese class at the Cleveland Public Library and music lessons at the Musical Settlement.  Alan’s still going strong practicing the piano and he’s been observing violin performances too!  Saturday nights involve sleepovers at Grandma Debbie’s house (and being silly).

Sundays can involve either playing with Tyler (now that he’s moved to Streetsboro!) or visiting Tata….and they usually end with swimming with Mom at the MHS pool.  Just recently Alan floated on his own for the first time and put his face under water!

Whenever we can find time, Alan also gets some swings in with his new metal bat, which he got when turning six.  October is also the perfect time to collect buckeyes that have fallen from our favorite neighborhood buckeye tree!

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Wine & Gold Scrimmage

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This afternoon, thanks to Alan, we got to take a photo with the Larry O’Brien trophy!  The photo opp was made available to members of the Cavs Kids Club (NOT Wine & Gold Members like me ha) following the Cavs’ annual Wine & Gold Scrimmage at the Q.

During the scrimmage, which we watched from the Club level, Alan cheered every time Kyrie touched the ball, Love made a 3-pointer, or LeBron (DNP) was shown on the scoreboard.  Those three players are easily the three most recognizable athletes to Alan, since he saw them on TV quite frequently last season.

Overall, it was a great trip to the Q for Alan – his first since January 2013.  The sound was a bit too loud for Alan’s liking, but he did have his favorite salt-free soft pretzel that made him quite happy.  The best moment was when Alan saw the court for the first time. He described it as “Awesome” in his most excited voice. 🙂

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Centers

Today I volunteered to help with “centers” — a special session where parents and volunteers lead groups of 3-5 students at a time through various enrichment activities — at Alan’s class.

Activities can include anything from puzzles and math problems to building and crafting. The center I led involved using sticks of various sizes to make objects and shapes based on each child’s imagination.  Alan made a train with his supply. 🙂

I loved coming in to see Alan in his element — he seems to be enjoying his first couple months of school very much.  And Alan was proud to have his Daddy volunteer in class.  Before centers, we presented Alan’s foot project to the class together.  I let all the kids know just how much Alan loves planets and outer space.

After centers, Alan asked me to stay for snack time and then morning recess.  I of course stayed and helped push kids on the swings.  At first I wondered why the teachers weren’t helping push the kids…but that question was answered as soon as I was running up and down the line pushing eights kids at once!

Centers are typically held on two Wednesdays per month, in place of specials.  You can bet I’ll be coming in again as the year goes on!

Family Party

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The birthday festivities continued today for Alan, as he celebrated his 6th birthday with family!

A joint, Blaze-themed party was held at Grandma Debbie’s for both Alan and Tyler. Alan’s cousins Mariah, Dominic, and Carleigh also came over to celebrate, and they even posed for a nice picture (below).

The highlight of Alan’s day — and mine too when I saw Alan’s reaction — was receiving the Stellosphere (Miles From Tomorrowland). Alan had been asking for the Stellosphere for months and could barely contain his excitement when he opened it. That’s not to say he was surprised, though — he knew exactly what the gift was after examining it and shaking it days before. 🙂

At the party, the kids also had ice cream cake, put together a Lego boat (Alan’s gift), and played inside a tent (Tyler’s gift). And of course they chased each other around the living room!

Alan fell asleep on the way home, which was expected after 1) the excitement of the party and 2) probably not sleeping much during his sleepover with Tyler the night before. The two admitted today to pretending to sleep when Grandma Debbie checked on them. 🙂

It was a great day for both boys. With Tyler now living in the area, it probably won’t be the last time those two celebrate together!

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Tribe Game No. 8 of 2016

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Tonight Alan closed out his 2016 MVP season with his first ever night game!  Someone is very happy that 6-year olds are allowed to stay out later. 🙂

Alan found out the best part about being a big kid and going to a night game was the shorter lines for kids activities. Alan barely had to wait to hit, throw, jump, and run!  It was a short night at the ballpark, though, as Alan was in a hurry to meet up with Tyler at Grandma Debbie’s for their sleepover (tomorrow is the big family party!).

Before leaving we tossed a ball around for a bit and said our goodbyes to Progressive Field.  Sadly, tonight was our last game of the season.

Thanks to Robbie and Jill for supplying our tickets this year!  The 2016 season was our favorite at the ballpark yet.  Can’t wait for spring 2017!

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Happy 6th Birthday Alan!!

This little guy is now 6 years old!

The birthday boy decided to celebrate his birthday at the MHS pool this evening, as it’s easily one of his favorite places. He particularly enjoyed swimming the length of the pool with his paddleboard and showing me the new tricks he’s learned in the water recently. He’s been daring enough lately to try swimming without a paddleboard too.

Alan got to sleep in today, since there was no school due to a teacher workday (he wore the birthday crown yesterday at school though, and received a birthday drawing from each of his classmates).  Then he played at home all day until Mom and Dad got off work and brought cake. Just before going swimming, Alan got a long-awaited call from Blaze (from Blaze and the Monster Machines) to wish him a happy birthday!

Not a bad way to celebrate a 6th birthday!  But there’s still more fun to be had this weekend!  To be continued…

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Open House

Tonight the kids left a surprise for parents when we came to open house: They made replicas of themselves at their desks! (Photo taken by Mrs. Feldman).  I left a surprise right back, leaving a message to Alan in his journal. 🙂

Based on what we heard tonight, it’s going to be a fun year for Alan and the rest of the Millridge Mustangs in Mrs. Feldman’s class!

  

Ice Cream Social

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Tonight Alan attended the first after-school event of the year: the annual ice cream social!

Alan introduced me to some of his new classmates, including Piper (pictured above), Julian, Grady, Josh, and Gabriel.  And we saw old friends Ella, Riley, and Mrs. Jones too!

Alan enjoyed the extra time out on the playground, but his favorite part was watching balloons go up into the sky!

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Tribe Game No. 7 of 2016

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Today Alan set a new career high by attending his 7th Tribe game of the season (17th overall).  All went according to plan: The skies were clear, the temperature was comfortable, and the Tribe won the rubber match with the Blue Jays by a score of 3-2 — thanks to a late 2-run Home Run by Jose Ramirez in the 8th!

Alan played his usual activities inside the clubhouse, then surprised me by asking to watch some of the game.  He was mainly interested in seeing the Hot Dog race, but I’ll take it.  We caught the whole 5th inning from the Kids Clubhouse viewing deck, before watching Mustard (Alan’s favorite) win today’s race.

Afterwards, Alan went to the family deck to practice hitting, running, and throwing.  I took a video of today’s sprint from a new angle.

Then it was time to run the bases and take pictures with Robbie and Jill, who drove down to the ballpark with us.  Alan was extra excited to have Robbie and Jill there, and he asked all three of us to run the bases with him.  We did our best to keep up, though Alan was ahead of the pack the whole time!

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Meeting Reena

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Tonight Alan met Reena, who visited from Boston with Karen and Jim.  They sure enjoyed working on this activity book together.  They designed a basketball shirt — Alan drew the orange circle and Reena added the black lines — which they later autographed!

First Day of Kindergarten!

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Today Alan kicked off his kindergarten year at Millridge, and I was there to enjoy it with him!  On the first day, as part of the “ease-in schedule,” parents attended an informational session in the cafeteria while the kids played in the gym.  Then afterwards, Alan and I took a practice ride together on a school bus around Mayfield.

Alan met his teacher, Mrs. Feldman, and saw his friends Joshua (who offered a big hug), Xavier, Riley, and Gabriel today — and even made a new friend named Noah!  Xavier and Noah will be in the same class as Alan this year.

Alan also saw Mrs. Schmid (a preschool helper) and told her all about his summer, including the trip to Disney World!

Onto another great school year at Millridge!

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Highlights of Summer

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With kindergarten just two weeks away, here’s a look at the highlights of Alan’s summer!

Alan saw both of his uncles, including Uncle Josh and Uncle Bobby — plus Meghan, Tyler, and Carleigh — on separate visits this summer. Josh took the photo above, from down on the rocks at Chagrin Falls.

To prepare for kindergarten, Alan completed his first summer reading program at the Solon library.  And he graduated from Safety Town!

On the baseball field, Alan completed his first baseball season.  He made great strides in learning to catch a ball with his glove, and he successfully learned to hit a ball without the aid of a tee!

Alan also picked up a new hobby.  He loves building with legos, and he even learned how to follow the instructions on his own (when he’s not creating awesome wrecking ball trucks with his imagination).

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Tribe Game No. 6 of 2016

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Another Sunday; another fun day at the ballpark.  A pregame rain delay gave Alan an extra 35 minutes or so at the train table inside the Kids Clubhouse. In addition to playing with his usual toys inside the Clubhouse, Alan also posed for the pictures above and below for the first time — something I had been trying to get him to do all season. I thought they turned out pretty well!

Out on the Family Deck, Alan beat ketchup in a simulated race, hit in the Little League Park (pictured below from a new vantage point this time), and climbed the Lofton wall (which I caught on video for the first time). Alan finished off the afternoon by circling the bases!

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Safety Town

Today Alan took another step closer to being ready for Kindergarten.  He’s now a safety town graduate!

Alan was fortunate to have Natalee in his class with him this week.  He told me they sat together on the bus ride during the bus safety lesson because they are best friends.

Alan also told me his favorite activities of the week were when the kids got to go inside a police car and fire truck.  It was like a dream come true for him!

Tribe Game No. 5 of 2016

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Today Alan and I watched the Indians close out the unofficial first half of the season at Progressive Field.  Alan had a surprisingly quick stay inside the clubhouse, as he was in a hurry to get to the big kid activities on the Family Deck!  Alan got to pitch to simulated batters, hit in the Little League Park (pictured above), jump at the Lofton wall, and run a simulated race (pictured below).

Thanks to a 46-minute 5th inning, Alan was finished with his activities well before the game was over.  So we sat and ate in the Right Field District, then got in line early to run the bases.  Alan was first in line and got to lead all the kids onto the field.  Alan loved being the line leader!  He brought me out of retirement to circle the bases with him this time. 🙂

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Just look at that form!!

Movie Day

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Today Alan saw the movie The Secret Life of Pets with Grandma Debbie and Uncle Josh, who’s on leave for 2 weeks!  Judging by Alan’s comments afterwards, his favorite movie character was the head-banging poodle haha.  I was glad to hear that Alan stayed through the whole movie.  His level of patience is definitely improving.

Alan’s Favorite Activities

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New List:

-Rock climbing! (Picture above was taken at the Mayfield Unity Days festival)

-Hitting baseballs and circling a pretend field at the apartment

-Participating in the summer reading program at the library

-Building with Legos at the Lego Store at Beachwood Place

-Watching movies in the theater (he recently saw Finding Dory with Debbie, after they had previously watched Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip)

-Reading the train book we bought in Chicago

-Riding Escalators at Beachwood Place (by himself, with Daddy waiting on the first floor)

-Swimming!

-Celebrating the Cavaliers’ championship!

-Wearing his new PJ Masks green mask

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Bonus videos: Alan’s solar system and homemade tunnel!

Fireworks!

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Tonight Alan and I saw fireworks at the Mayfield Heights Unity Days fireworks show.  It marked the first time that Alan sat through fireworks without being bothered by the noise!  He loved that we bought a lightsaber that made him look more like Gecko.  🙂

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Believe It!

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It really happened, and Alan has the evidence to prove it: The Cavaliers are the 2016 NBA Champions!!

I’m glad I set my game-watching plans to be at home with Alan.  It was definitely worth it, as he was great company for the occasion.  And the cars driving on Mayfield road that honked their horns until about 1am did give Mayfield Heights a downtown feel!

Earlier in the series Alan also watched Game 3 with me (another Cavaliers win), making us 2-0 together for the series.  He watched part of the 1st quarter at Debbie and Papa’s house during Games 1, 4, and 6 too.  He regularly tuned in to see his favorite player, LeBron James, before going on his nightly adventures with Lulu.

Alan’s interest in sports continues to grow and I love it.  I really hope that as time goes on Alan will retain memories of watching Game 7 with me.  I certainly won’t forget watching with him.  Sharing that championship with him at my side is one of the greatest moments of my life.

I still cannot believe how perfectly yesterday played out.  What an amazing day.  I hope the partying in Cleveland never stops!

6/22/16 Update: The partying has not, in fact, stopped yet.  Robbie, David, and I joined approximately 1.3 million others in attending the Championship parade today!  It sure was not easy getting there.  After finding RTA was delayed by at least four hours by 8am, we took a bus from Cedar and Green to E. 110th, then walked the final four miles to downtown.  But it was worth it.  We stood at E. 9th and Lakeside across from the Jones Day building for the whole parade, which lasted about 4 hours – mainly because the cars had trouble maneuvering through the encroaching crowds of people! Below is one photo I took of LeBron riding by (he’s in the upper left, with the backwards yellow hat).

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Tribe Game No. 4 of 2016 / Father’s Day 2016

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Father’s Day 2016 was simply perfect.  It featured great moments with Alan and it may very well go down as the best day in Cleveland sports history.

The day started with Alan giving me a card and making me coffee, and it continued with Alan accompanying me to an Indians game.  As we approached the ballpark with other Indians fans, we passed Browns Backers who were tailgating on surface lots (just because). We also saw Cavaliers fans already claiming their Watch Party seats for Cavaliers-Warriors Game 7 in the parking garage across from the Q.  There was definitely a festive Cleveland sports atmosphere that encompassed all of our teams.  I had to stop and take a picture of Alan in the Cavaliers fan zone outside the Q (pictured below).

On the way into the ballpark, I took a picture of Alan next to the Jim Thome statue (pictured below).  Once in the Kids Clubhouse, Alan played with his usual favorite red car, the trains, and the roller coaster toy — which he rode approximately 15 times. But he also added a new green tractor to the playing rotation (pictured below).

We had some extra time to play because not only did we arrive early, but also the game went into extra innings.  So Alan ventured back to the big kids area of the Family Deck, after getting his feet wet there last time.  Alan took swings in the caged mini-field and hit a double in his only at-bat (pictured below).  He also ran a simulated race four times.  The fourth run came immediately after the ballpark erupted on Jose Ramirez’s GW single in the bottom of the 10th, which gave the Indians a 3-2 win.

After the exciting finish to the game – and the customary playing of “Cleveland Rocks” – Alan ran the bases on his own.  Afterwards, we stopped for our annual Father’s Day photo/seflie (pictured above). Alan was his happy and silly self as usual.  🙂

On the way home we made a quick stop to see Robbie, Tata, and Papa so that Alan could play his rescue game. After exchanging some well wishes for the Cavaliers, Alan and I went back home to watch our team in Game 7 of the NBA Finals (How awesome is that to write!).  With Alan watching and cheering by my side, of course the Cavaliers delivered a long-awaited World Championship back to Cleveland!

What a day and night with Alan – the best kid a dad could ever ask for and the true reason I got to celebrate today. Father’s Day is my favorite day of the year, and this one may very well go down as the best I’ll ever have.

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Summer Fun

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Today Alan attended the first birthday party of the summer, as his best friend Joshua (wearing red) turned 5.  Other classmates who made it out to the party – which was held outdoors at the Highland Heights Park – included Ryleigh, Armando, and Meredith.  This park is one of Alan’s favorite parks because of the tall ladders and slides!

Happy Birthday Joshua!

Little Sluggers Part II

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Tonight Alan’s first season of baseball came to a close after a very successful six weeks.  Alan really showed improvement in hitting (both with and without a tee), throwing, and – most especially – catching balls in his glove.  He also learned the “ready position” for fielding and started to pick up the rules of the game.

Most importantly, his interest and enthusiasm for the game has continued to grow.  Alan got to hit leadoff the past two games because he was the quickest to get in line to hit.  He also got to pick his position in the field by always being the first one to run out of the dugout.

I personally loved getting to play the field and run the bases with Alan during games.  We’ll continue to practice together this summer, but I already can’t wait for next season!

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Note 1: Just over Alan’s shoulder you can see his fan club: Debbie, Papa, Tata, Papa, and Lulu.

Note 2: Pictures were taken 6/9/16; Video of handshake line recorded 6/2/16.

Tribe Game No. 3 of 2016

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Alan and I went to the ballpark today for our third Indians game — and first win! — of 2016.  Alan followed his normal routine at first, as he drove his favorite red car and played with the trains for a couple hours.  But the routine changed as the afternoon went on thanks to a 3+ hour rain delay.

Alan took advantage of the extra time in the Kids Clubhouse — and diminishing attendance in the room — by repeatedly taking a turn on the slide (we’re talking 12-15 consecutive times) and racing on the mini roller coaster (probably 10-12 times).

But he didn’t stop there.  He also ventured outside the Kids Clubhouse to the area of the concourse where the older kids play.  There Alan tested his vertical jumping ability on the “Circus Catch” wall (think Kenny Lofton) and tracked his pitch speed (16 MPH) on the Pitching Simulator.   He was pretty good!

Alan told me that next time he’ll be ready to participate in a game with other kids on “Slider’s Field” (also located on the Family Deck).  He’s definitely become more confident in his abilities after being on a baseball team this spring.

Alan did not get a chance to run the bases postgame due to the lengthy rain delay, but that did not phase him.  He still had a blast with his car, trains, power tools, and interactive games!

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2016 Chicago Trip

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Here’s the rundown of Alan’s first trip to Chicago to visit Robbie and Jill!

Friday, May 27th, 2016:

10:30AM – 6:30PM (EST):  Car ride to Deerfield.  Alan was great the whole way!  He listened quietly to his favorite transportation CD and slept for about an hour.  We attributed his good behavior to being excited to see Robbie and Jill!

PM: Papa, Tata, Robbie, and I went to dinner at Il Forno Pizza while Alan stayed back at the house and played with Lincoln Logs with Jill.  Afterwards we all watched the Cavaliers clinch the Eastern Conference in Toronto!

Note: That wasn’t even the only clincher we saw on TV during the trip.  We also watched OSU baseball off and on all weekend, including the final outs of the big ten tournament championship win over Iowa on Sunday.

Saturday, May 28th, 2016:

AM:  As soon as Alan woke up on Saturday, he and I put together a Lego garbage truck that Alan received as a surprise gift from Robbie and Jill.  Then all of us went to the Chicago Botanic Garden [for the highlight of Alan’s trip] to see the model train exhibit at the railroad garden!  Alan absolutely loved it.  His favorite train car was the orange butterfly train car (pictured below).  He borrowed my phone to take his own pictures and videos.  Alan could’ve stayed there all day!

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Note:  Alan volunteered to push Tata’s wheel chair at the garden.  We were all surprised that he was strong enough for the task, but he definitely was able to do it.  Because he was so good, he got to pick out two toy trains and a train book (pictured further on) from the gift shop.  🙂

PM:  Afterwards we had lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, one of our favorite lunch destinations.  Then Alan visited the Deerfield Public Library, where he played with more trains and met another 5-year old named William.  In the evening Alan put together puzzles with Tata and played Chutes and Ladders with Jill.  We also took our annual family photo in the backyard by the famous tree that Papa got at Beachwood Place in the mid-1990s and gave to Robbie and Jill to plant.  Just 1-2 feet tall back then, the tree has now grown to an estimated 15-20 feet now.

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Sunday, May 29th, 2016:

AM:  The day started with Alan’s first of three different trips community playgrounds, where we discovered that Alan has an interest in rock climbing.  He was actually quite good at it and before long he mastered climbing the wall pictured below!

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PM:  Prior to having lunch at Rhapsody, another favorite of ours, Alan made his professional mini golf debut at the Highland Park Country Club.  He began by earning a par on his first hole. Shortly after, on just his fourth career hole, Alan achieved his first career hole-in-one!  With everyone watching attentively – including Papa and Tata – he banked in a downhill putt off the back wall for an eagle on the par 3 fourth hole.  As the ball inched its way to the cup, it seemed to go in slow motion.  But it dropped in, and we erupted in cheers.  Alan didn’t initially understand what he accomplished, but after we let him know the significance, he became quite proud.  The scorecard – subsequently signed by each of the four participants in the day’s round – is now on display in a plastic holder in Alan’s room.  I circled and traced over the “1” in red marker to highlight Alan’s remarkable feat (pictured below).

If that wasn’t enough excitement for the day, Alan also rode a commuter train in the direction of the city for 3 stops.  Robbie and I dropped off Alan and Jill at the closest train stop, then drove down the line to pick them up after an 11-minute ride.  Alan was given a souvenir ticket (pictured below) from the ticket-taker to commemorate his first ride!

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Monday, May 30th, 2016:

AM:  Alan woke up and played his favorite construction equipment “rescue game” with Robbie while everyone packed.  Then Alan got to play at two more playgrounds near Robbie and Jill’s house!  It was a very hot morning, but Alan also ran the bases on a nearby baseball diamond.

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12:30-8:30PM (EST):  Car ride to Mayfield Heights.  Again Alan was very well-behaved.  He ate a lot of graham crackers and slept for about 90 minutes.  He also played a race car arcade game at a rest stop for the first time.  He loved it!

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Alan had so much fun that he’s already declared that we’re returning on June 10th.  🙂  Thanks to Robbie and Jill for hosting us!

Car Spotting


One of Alan’s new favorite things to do is point out the different car models when we pass them on the road.  He’s really taken an interest in learning brand names and can now spot the logos for Hyundai, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Chevy, Ford, Mercedes, Cadillac, Audi, and Subaru.  He was on a roll rattling off names when I drove him to school today!

Next Stop: Kindergarten!

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Alan ended his preschool career today on a high note with a fun ceremony in Mrs. Jones’ classroom!

The day started off on a normal schedule for the kids, with the ceremony beginning at 10:00. Parents arrived while the kids were at recess, so we watched a year-in-review slideshow while we waited for them. When the kids returned from the playground, they marched in to the graduation song and took their seats.

After the kids sang three songs – one of which the parents were asked to sing along with (the “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” song) — it was time to present certificates. The younger students went first, followed by the five kids moving on to kindergarten. Fortunately all five, which includes Alan, Natalee, Joshua, Ryleigh, and Meredith, will be back at Millridge together for kindergarten in the fall!

Once the ceremony was over, the parents of the five kids moving on to kindergarten were given 8 x 10 photos of their child wearing a cap and gown. I thought Alan’s photo turned out great!

It was so nice to watch Alan interact with his friends today. He gets along so well with his classmates and it’s a joy to see.

Can’t wait for kindergarten in the fall!

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Tribe Game No. 2 of 2016

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Today it snowed, rained, and hailed, but at the end of the day, Alan ran the bases at Progressive Field like always following a Tribe Sunday home game.  It was Alan’s 12th Indians game of his life, and despite the unusual weather, it may have been his favorite trip to the ballpark.

Alan was thrilled to take the rapid downtown for the first time — and with Robbie and Jill no less!  The boy who marvels at all forms of transportation finally was able to add ‘riding the rapid’ to his personal resume.  Based on how much he enjoyed it, I think it will become our go-to method of getting to the ballpark from now on.

Once in the Kids Clubhouse, Alan spent the majority of his time at the train table once again, with some time on the slide and driving a car mixed in.  When it was time to run the bases postgame, Alan continued his drive towards independence by asking that he run alone and meet me at home plate.

While I’m sad to announce my retirement from running the bases, I’m definitely happy to see Alan take another step forward on his own!  And besides, this will save me the embarrassment of not being able to keep pace with him on the basepaths. 🙂

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Preschool Party

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Today Alan met up with his class — including Ella and Almas (pictured with Alan) — at Preston’s Hope Community Park to celebrate a great school year.  They had a blast!

Two more weeks of preschool and then it’s on to Kindergarten!!

Preschool Update

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As the school year draws to a close, here are the latest developments from preschool:

-Alan’s favorite classroom topic has been learning about the 3 R’s – Recycle, Reduce, and Reuse.  Together we went out and bought a recycle bin for home so that Alan could do his part to preserve the environment. Speaking of which, he also told me that littering is bad for the earth and puts animals in danger because “they could eat something they’re not supposed to.”

-To Alan’s delight, the bird feeder he made this year (pictured in the March 20th post) has been feeding the birds at Grandma Debbie’s house for the past month!  Alan has taken pride in checking on it and refilling it each week.

-Alan continues to play “PJ Masks” with Joshua and Ella every day at school.  Joshua plays Catboy, Ella plays Owelette, and Alan plays Gecko, while the other kids take turns playing the villains Romeo and Luna Girl.  Alan’s been known to use Gecko’s “super strength” power at home to lift heavy things from time to time too. 🙂

-Alan’s best friend at school has been Joshua ever since he joined the class midway through the year. They’ve had several playdates already this spring.

-Last month Alan was registered for kindergarten and he’s now officially ready to go in the fall!

Little Sluggers

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Tonight Alan kicked off his Little League baseball career at the first practice for Mayfield’s “Little Sluggers.”  Alan had a blast practicing hitting off a tee, catching pop-ups, taking grounders, running sprints, running more sprints, and ending practice with a cheer!

Alan is a member of the Tigers, which he got a kick out of since that’s his favorite animal.  His best friend from preschool, Joshua, is on the White Sox and his neighborhood friend, William, is on the Royals.  Alan was thrilled to find out they were playing in the league this summer!

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Tribe Game No. 1 of 2016

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After a long winter hiatus, Alan was thrilled to get back to watching Indians baseball at sunny Progressive Field today!  He was so excited that he could barely wait all morning.

We parked farther away from the ballpark than normal, since the Cavs were opening their playoff series against the Pistons at home today.  The bright side was that it allowed Alan to see more of downtown Cleveland.  And later, when we left the ballpark, we watched some of the Cavs game on the big TVs at the Cavs Fun Fest out on the plaza.

Once inside the ballpark, Alan checked in at the Kids Clubhouse to kick off year number two of being a Tribe Town MVP.  Alan’s haul today, in exchange for his $20 membership, included a “C” logo baseball, a script “Indians” shirt, an Indians lanyard and MVP badge, an Indians pen, a Jason Kipnis card, a Francisco Lindor fathead, a drawstring MVP bag, and a $10 gift shop credit, which Alan used to purchase an Indians Lego trainer’s cart (We put it together after we got home from the game and Alan loved it).

After loading up on gifts, Alan and I checked out the new additions to the Kids Clubhouse.  Most everything looked the same, except for one notable addition — a toy train set.  It was as if the Indians read Alan’s  mind.  He was content to play with the trains and a couple friends he met there all afternoon, but as the game wound down, I had to remind Alan how much he also enjoys the big, twisting two-story slide.  He took a couple turns down the slide, and then it was off to lead the line for running the bases as an MVP.

Down on the field, Alan hit a new milestone running the bases: he legit ran them. I tried to take a photo of him running but I could not.  I had to put my phone in my pocket and book it to keep close to him.   He can really move now!  Seems like just yesterday he was holding my hand on the bases and not knowing to follow the dirt path, but times have changed.  It seems odd to write this, but I have watched Alan grow up on the Progressive Field basepaths.

One thing did happen, though, to remind me of when Alan was a toddler:  He fell asleep in the car on the way home.  He had too much fun at the ballpark today. 🙂

Alan’s already told me he wants to go to every Sunday game this season, so we’ll be back again soon…

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Easter!

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This year Alan gave his Easter eggs names and their own story. The green one (with a face) is a villain, because as Alan says, “every story must have a villain.” The other eggs are the good guys. 🙂

Alan’s Busy Week

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This week Alan did the following:

Built a wooden airplane (below) with highschoolers visiting Millridge on Monday.

Went to a real voting site for the Ohio Primary – and asked great questions about voting – on Tuesday.

Had me read all of his favorite books before bed on Wednesday.

Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at school on Thursday.

Did an early easter egg hunt at Grandma Debbie’s house on Friday.

Made a bird feeder (below) and attended Chinese class and martial arts (where he also won this race) on Saturday.

Had a playdate with Joshua from preschool on Sunday.

What a great week!

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