Since I was already off work for the Winter Workshop, next I headed over to Gilmour to watch Alan’s ice skating lesson. He had 30 minutes of free skating, followed by a 30 minute lesson, followed by 30 more minutes of free skating. Alan can sure skate fast now!
Today The Flash made an appearance at the Halloween party for Mrs. Harris’ class. The Flash won a sticky-spider-toss game, after getting two bullseyes. He also took part in the Millridge Halloween parade, which was held in the gym due to rain.
It was still raining during trick-or-treating, but that did not stop The Flash from going the full two hours! This year Alan was also brave enough to approach the neighborhood house where the owner answers the door with a chainsaw. The brave souls who dare knock on the door receive a treat better than candy — a toy sword that lights up in the dark. When he came home, Alan proudly ran over to show me the evidence of his great triumph!
Note: The Flash was the costume of choice this year following Alan’s summer of being the fastest member of the Yankees. Alan’s scary classmate pictured with him above is De’Onta.
The Year of the Sky Zone Birthday Party continued today with Noah taking his turn as host and birthday boy. The usual suspects – Alan, Noah, Brady, Xavier and Grady – were together again, along with a few other Millridge second graders. After jumping and playing dodgeball, the kids played “Heads Up, Seven Up” while waiting for cake. It was Alan’s first time playing, and he loved it. Turns out he has a pretty good poker face!
Tuesday nights this year (every other Tuesday to be exact) are once again group piano and music enrichment class nights. Alan first meets with George and Pasquale to practice together for their upcoming group performance in December. Then Alan meets up with other classmates to combine music with movement. Tonight Alan let loose running to the beat, then practiced rhythm clapping and jumping. Alan made it look easy, but other kids who haven’t had as much music instruction had trouble with the pace and staying on beat.
Today’s excitement included swimming lessons during the day and putting together Legos at night.
In the evening, Alan put his entire Coast Guard Lego set together! The set, which he got at his family birthday party, came in 8 separate bags. Alan just kept going and going and assembled the entire set while we watched the Ohio State football game. Not only did Alan enjoy his Legos, but he also got to see Ohio State rally to make up a 12-point deficit in the 4th quarter at Penn State to win 27-26!
The first OSU game that Alan watched portions of was against Penn State in 2015. This game was the first that Alan watched the majority of the game. We were both ecstatic by the end of the night. 🙂
Alan kept his birthday celebration going late into the night at the Indians game!
We arrived during the 5th inning, around the time of Josh Donaldson’s 2nd homerun of the night. Alan headed straight for Little League Park and hit everything in sight. He legged out a triple in this at bat.
Inside the Kids Clubhouse, we took selfies. Alan had to have an orange popsicle too.
At the team shop, Alan got a ASG mini bat and some AL Central Champs souvenir baseballs and pins. On our way out of the ballpark, Alan lamented that he’ll “miss this place” during the offseason.
Alan wrapped up another winning season at Progressive Field with a 4-3 record. He’s 24-10 overall in his Indians career.
Tonight Alan invited his closest friends to help him celebrate his birthday at Sky Zone — the hottest place going for 2nd grade birthday parties right now! The invitees included Brady, Noah, Xavier, Cassidy, Grady, Colin, De’Onta, and Kilian.
The kids jumped from 5:45pm to 7:15pm. Some jumped on the partitioned course, some jumped into the ball pit, and some jumped on the dodgeball court. As Alan predicted earlier in the night, they jumped until they tired themselves out. At 7:13pm, Alan’s birth minute, the announcement of his birthday was shared over the loudspeakers. The kids were then called into the party room for pizza and cake.
For the second year in a row, Alan had a baseball-themed, white marble cake from Giant Eagle. But this time we went all-out on the Indians theme. 🙂
Silliness ensued when Alan’s friends sang to him and he blew out his candles. After enjoying the cake, Alan requested my phone in order to follow the Indians-Red Sox game on Gamecast with Noah and Xavier. He also started a boo Red Sox chant in the room.
After the party, Alan handed out the treat bags we put together with prizes bought from Target and Browns/Buckeyes pencils. Kilian took home the “bonus bag” that Alan filled with extra cool prizes and a Cavaliers pencil.
But the fun didn’t stop there. When the party ended at 8pm, Alan and I drove up to Cleveland and traded in Gamecast for live action baseball at Progressive Field! During our drive, we listened on the radio as Josh Donaldson hit his first homerun as an Indian.
My best buddy turned 8 today!
Alan passed out Justice League pencils (featuring Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, and Batman) to his classmates at school today. He came home wearing a birthday sticker and slap bracelet (the same could easily have been said for me back in 1991). I surprised him at the bus stop, after leaving work early, and he was pretty shocked. Then we hung out for the afternoon during the lead up to his Sky Zone party!
Alan commented to me how his bus driver, teacher, and librarian were all celebrating the Browns’ big win and Baker Mayfield’s successful debut last night! This Browns fan didn’t need to wait to hear it from me — Cleveland was on fire!
Alan and Tyler celebrated their 8th and 7th birthdays at a family party today at Grandma Debbie’s house! The party was at the same time as the Browns’ season opener, so Alan and I were dressed accordingly.
Alan was in charge of setting up the candles on the boys’ vanilla cake. When the boys blew out the candles, Alan took the top row and Tyler took the bottom row.
Alan got a lot of great gifts, including the one he really wanted! It’s almost as if people knew he really likes Legos.
As always, Alan was so glad to have his cousins there! He was also very proud to show off his new violin, after having his very first lesson yesterday. He showed it off to the whole family.
Alan and I attended our first Lake County Captains game today at Classic Park! It was a scorcher, but it was nice to spend time outdoors over Labor Day weekend.
Just like Sundays at Progressive field, Sundays at Classic Park are focused on the kids. Captains Kids Days feature inflatable games (including hitting), Catch on the Field before the game, and Kids Run the Bases after the game.
Alan of course loved playing on all the inflatable games, but he especially enjoyed the playground shaped like a big ship!
We loved how much space there was to move around at Classic Park, especially beyond center field where there are open spaces for fans to play catch. We also enjoyed sitting underneath a covered pavilion in right field where we could watch the game from our own table. We played cards in the shade together there while cooling off.
When it was time to run the bases, Alan took advantage of a less congested diamond and showed off his speed around the bases before touching home.
Other highlights of the afternoon for Alan included a very large ice cream cone and buying three mini Captains baseball bats and a foam “Skipper” (Captains’ mascot) from the team shop. Today happened to be a “Bark at the Park” day as well, so Alan got to see dogs throughout the ballpark!
I think we’ll definitely be heading back to Classic Park next summer.
Tonight Alan and I made a special Friday night visit to the ballpark to close our school/work week with some baseball and fireworks. It was a great way to kick off the long Labor Day weekend.
Out on the family deck, Alan dove home safely after a sprint around the bases in Little League Park.
Inside the Clubhouse, Alan got extra turns on the slide with fewer kids in attendance for night games. He also got his favorite popsicle to eat during fireworks.
During the 8th inning of the game (won 3-0 by the Indians over the Rays) we found out the Indians acquired Josh Donaldson! Alan was concerned for who we had to send to Toronto, but for now at least it is a player to be named later. The Indians win clinched another winning season at Progressive Field for Alan. He’s 4-2 with one game left to attend.
The trip to the ballpark today was a special one, as Tyler accompanied Alan for his very first Indians game! Alan was very happy to show him around the ballpark.
The first stop was inside the Kids Clubhouse. Alan showed Tyler the slide, the train table, the model Indians lockers, and the oversized bat and glove. Tyler liked the slide the most.
Tyler also got a taste of being a major league hitter. Alan, of course, opted to be a catcher!
Outside on the family deck balcony, the boys enjoyed popsicles and watched the Indians take an early 1-0 lead on the Orioles in the 1st inning.
After they were finished in the Kids Clubhouse, the boys tried out the outdoor activities on the family deck. In Alan’s debut sprint of 2018, he recorded a career-best time of 6.19 seconds. But that record only lasted until his second run of the day, when he finished with a time of 6 seconds flat! Tyler also enjoyed the race, challenging himself to run against the pace of Lindor (designated fastest Indian) each time.
At Little League Park, Alan and Tyler shared a baseball field together for the first time! Both boys circled the bases in their first at-bats; Tyler got a hit on the first pitch he saw and Alan clocked the pitcher. In their second at-bats, Tyler stopped at second on his hit and Alan drove him in!
Meanwhile the Indians were busy posting a 6-run 4th inning capped by a Melky Cabrera Grand Slam. To celebrate, we next moved to the team shop for souvenirs. Tyler bought a Progressive Field baseball, a foam Chief Wahoo, an Indians bottle opener, and a pack of baseball cards. Alan bought some Indians Legos and a baseball bat pen. I opted for a 2019 All-Star game ball and pin.
Next we showed Tyler around the ballpark. First we sat in the upper deck in right-center and watched Andrew Miller throw in the bullpen directly below us. From there, we also watched the hot dog race – won by Ketchup in come-from-behind fashion. As Alan put it, while drawing some laughs, Ketchup had to catch-up. 🙂 Then we walked the upper deck from right field to behind home plate, showing Tyler the vantage points of the field along the way. While we were in the right field corner, Andrew Miller entered and the customary flames appeared on the scoreboard.
We also noted Jim Thome’s recently retired #25 (as of just yesterday). The #25 will never be worn again by a Cleveland athlete at the Gateway Plaza, as Mark Price’s #25 is also retired by the Cavaliers.
For our next vantage point, we stood on the lower concourse near the season ticket holder lounge area behind home plate. Tyler heard the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame for the first time while Slider and some of his mascot friends in town for his 28th birthday party danced on the top of the dugout. After the song, Slider, the Hot Dogs, Dinger (Rockies), Raymond (Rays) and the Oriole Bird walked past us.
With the Indians up 8-0 (which would be the final score), the rest of the game went by quickly. The boys only had enough time to swing by the Kids Clubhouse for some snacks and a quick trip down the slide before it was time to line up to run the bases. Alan got a popsicle to enjoy while waiting in line under the stadium (it gets hot down there), while Tyler opted for peanuts.
When it was time to run, Alan turned on the jets, but Tyler stayed within range. They passed Rajai Davis on the way to the plate. Tyler said he never thought he’d be on a big field like this one.
After the run, Tyler got a close up view of the Indians dugout and the camera bay. On the way out of the ballpark, Tyler said he was sad to leave and wanted to know how many days before we could come back.
The boys had a sleepover together at Grandma Debbie’s house last night, so it was a full weekend of fun together. Last night they made forts with blankets in the living room and read a funny book called Goodnight Underwear.
After the Indians game tonight, they played even more at Tyler’s house, this time along with Carleigh. The cousins wanted to play all night, but alas it was a school night — and for Tyler, the night before the first day of 1st grade!
8/20/18 Update: Tyler wore his new Tribe Town MVP shirt for the first day of school.
On the final weekend of summer break, Alan and I wanted to have one last fun outing together. So following Grady’s birthday party at Sky Zone, we drove out to one of our favorite spots – Fun ‘N’ Stuff!
Now that we’re regular visitors, we have a set plan. We made sure to play two rounds of mini-golf on course 1, two rounds of air hockey, one turn in the bounce house, and $20 worth of tokens in the arcade.
We had a blast all afternoon, highlighted by two big moments. The first one was Alan’s first hole-in-one at Fun ‘N’ Stuff (third overall)! I did not capture his live reaction, but Alan was kind enough to reenact it for me afterwards (pictured above). 🙂
The second big moment was when Alan won a 1,000-ticket jackpot on one arcade game! At first we didn’t even realize he won a jackpot — instead we thought the machine was broken! In any event, we used these tickets, along with tickets earned during our previous visit this summer, to walk away with a variety of prizes. Alan used 2,000 tickets on a set of five Mickey Mouse and the Roadster Racers cars and approximately 450 more on a mini globe, hacky sack, toy car, suction cup ball, lollipops, and Tootsie Rolls for Daddy. Alan is always generous to Daddy!
The big five “friends since Kindergarten” – Alan, Grady, Brady, Xavier, and Noah – got together today at Sky Zone for Grady’s birthday party. Alan had a great time jumping with Brady and seeing some other kids that he hadn’t seen since May. At the party we found out that Noah and Paige have Mrs. Harris with Alan and Brady too!
Alan had a pretty sweet playoff debut, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI singles. Alan brought his sunglasses to the game just in case he played OF, and he actually did play RF for 4 innings. The Yankees tried their best but ultimately lost to the Red Sox 9-5 to conclude the season.
Alan was fortunate to get to play this game, as it took two rainouts on July 3rd and 5th to get this game rescheduled to a date after Alan’s trip to Vancouver (June 29th-July 7th). That also allowed Alan to play in front of Grandma Debbie, Papa, and Lulu tonight. Alan made sure to tell everyone again that Lulu was his dog.
After the game, the team took a group photo before celebrating the season with some ice cream at Dairy Queen!
At DQ, Alan joined in and ordered a vanilla cone. While Alan and his teammates were eating, the coach passed out balls and commended each player. He called Alan a “hitting machine” and said he was the fastest player on the team — a comment that Alan earned by beating out an infield hit in his first at-bat by a whisker.
But the night didn’t end there. After Dairy Queen, at Alan’s request, we went back to our favorite practice field to keep hitting and running the bases. The sun may have set on another baseball season, but it’s never too early to prepare for next season!
Alan had his best game of the season tonight in front of Grandma Debbie, Papa, Tyler, and Carleigh. Alan earned his first career game ball and helped lead the Yankees to a win over the Giants!
At the plate, Alan singled in his first at-bat. In his second at bat, he drove in 2 runs on an RBI ground out. In his third at bat, he singled and would later come around to score. Alan was so locked in that he only saw 3 pitches over his 3 plate appearances. I coached first base for the first time this season (after being at third for all other games) and congratulated Alan each time.
Defensively, Alan caught three innings (on a very hot night) and played one more in LF. No one on the team enjoys putting on the equipment and catching right now more than Alan.
After the game, Alan and Xavier were each presented with game balls. The ump originally gave the balls to me following the last out. When I handed them to our coach, he was consulting with the stat-keeper on the most deserving recipients. I heard him say Alan, so I had my phone ready to record the video of Alan receiving the game ball. Alan had been wanting so bad to receive a game ball and tonight he got his wish. Both he and Xavier really deserved it tonight.
Afterwards Tyler and Carleigh greeted Alan with a big hug. Alan proudly showed them the game ball, then showed Grandma and Papa too. It was a very special night for Alan and he was thrilled to share it with his family!
At home Alan asked if he can have a case for his game ball, and I agreed. We’ll be displaying that ball for sure!
The Indians were back at home on Father’s Day after a brief 1-year hiatus, and Alan and I celebrated with the Indians for the 4th time in the last 6 years. We made the day even more memorable by playing baseball on all three sites where professional baseball has been played in Cleveland — thus hitting our baseball trifecta for the first time since August 2014.
The day began for us at League Park, where about 400 people (according to the League Park Twitter account) gathered to play catch between 11am and 1pm (before first pitch of a semi-pro game). Alan and I parked on Lexington Ave right near the 290′ sign in the right field corner. We saw there was quite a bit of open space in the expansive outfield, so Alan asked if he could bring his bat and hit. I only had two balls in the car — one Rawlings “C” ball that I had just bought at Target that morning and a neon, rubberized “C” ball that was in Alan’s equipment bag — but we made it work anyway.
Note: We actually had a third baseball – an “All-Star Dad” gold ball that Alan had just given me for Father’s Day, but I didn’t want to get that one dirty!
I ended up pitching to Alan in medium deep right-center field, with him hitting towards the wall. The rubberized ball had some nice roll to it, so Alan was able to reach the outfield wall on his best hit. We also played catch in addition to hitting. In all, we played for about 15-20 minutes before heading to Progressive Field — which was no easy task in the record-breaking heat (the high of 94 degrees at Hopkins airport was a record for June 17). Alan described it as though we were “muffins being cooked in the oven.”
Despite the heat, we still had fun and plan to return to League Park next Father’s Day, when the organizers of the Baseball Heritage Museum hope to set a world record for the largest game of catch! As original League Park petition-signers back in 2010 and 2012 (to rehab the grounds for baseball purposes), Alan and I definitely want to be a part of that event!
When we arrived at Progressive Field, we headed straight for the air-conditioned team shop. After cooling down from our walk to the ballpark, we went up to the Kids Clubhouse. The line was long due to the number of families at the ballpark, but Alan wanted to wait it out for the train table. We spent about three innings in line and four innings inside.
Afterwards, we made our way to Heritage Park to meet with other season ticket holders who had used their points to play Catch on the Field. We watched Cody Allen work a quick 9th to cap the Indians 4-1 win over the Twins (the first MLB win of Shane Bieber’s career) from the Frank Robinson statue.
When it was time to enter the field, we dodged the sprinklers and set up to play catch in right field. The rubberized ball skipped pretty well along the outfield grass, so we played from a pretty good distance. The Indians gave us a ball to play catch with as well. We made it for approximately 15 minutes before Alan sought out one of the sprinklers to cool off.
After we finished playing catch, Alan got in line to run the bases for the first time this season. Following a photograph by the dugout, we sat in the stands and drank water before trekking back to our car.
But of course we weren’t done just yet. After the Tribe game, we headed to the grounds of Old Municipal and played catch outside the same University Hospitals gate where we played 3 years ago. This time, though, there was a Jim Brown statue at the gate, and Alan got to read about Brown’s career accomplishments. Alan commented Jim Brown must’ve been the “LeBron James of the Browns.”
So in summary, Alan go to hit, run, and throw where the Indians have played baseball for the past 127 years. And I got to have another ideal Father’s Day with my buddy!
As part of what’s now become tradition, I took off work the Friday of Father’s Day Weekend to spend the day at Fun ‘N’ Stuff with Alan. We spent the day enjoying four rounds of mini golf, an inflatable basketball court (perfect for Tristan Thompson), and of course the arcade — featuring skee-ball, lots of air hockey, and other ticket-dispensing games! Alan decided to save up his tickets (475) for a bigger prize when we return again at the end of summer.
Note: We decided Alan’s favorite hole on the course is #9 and mine is #7 (pictured above).
As the baseball season continues to move along, Alan and his team have been making good progress. Here’s the latest update:
Following a rain-out on 5/22/18, Alan went 1-for-3 in a win over the Marlins – the team’s first victory of the season! – on 5/29/18. Starting with this game, the team starting playing the same positions regularly. Alan is the team’s consistent right fielder.
On 5/30/18, Alan again went 1-for-3 in a loss to the Red Sox. Alan has been learning that when he hits the ball towards the left side of the infield he can usually beat out a hit, but it’s a lot harder to reach first base safely on a grounder to the right side of the infield. But he’s been doing a great job putting the ball in play all season.
On 6/4/18, Alan went 1-for-3 with a run scored in a thrilling 1-run win over the Giants! The highlight of the game was when Alan and Xavier manufactured a run by themselves in the middle innings. With two outs and nobody on base, Alan singled and advanced to second base on an errant throw that only barely got away from the first baseman. Then Xavier singled home Alan, who hustled home to score on a ball that never left the infield!
On 6/11/18, Alan went 2-for-4 with a run and a 9-4-3 outfield assist(!) in the 1st inning of a narrow loss to the league-leading Dodgers (He helped catch a runner caught between first and second). The highlight of Alan’s game, though, was Grandma Debbie, Papa, Tyler and Carleigh coming to watch him play. Alan was very proud to play in front of his family!
On 6/12/18, Alan went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI in a loss to the Dodgers. One of the Yankee coaches commented to Alan that he must have been practicing because he’s been making good contact at the plate. It’s true in fact — all week Alan has been practicing in the backyard with his “Nagoon.” One hitting session in the morning and one in the afternoon. Despite the loss, the Yankees played well against the league-leading Dodgers for two straight nights and were upbeat after the game.
On 6/13/18, Alan went 2-for-2 with an RBI in a loss to the Marlins. The team looked worn out from its 3rd game in 3 days, but Alan did his part to bring the energy at the plate and behind it. He made his debut at catcher and caught all 4 innings of the shortened game (run spread rule). He enjoyed catching so much that he wants to catch the next game too!
Alan and I took full advantage of the NBA Finals in Cleveland this week. After I went to Game 3 on Wednesday, I took Alan to the Game 4 Outdoor Watch Party tonight!
Upon arriving downtown we headed straight to the surface lot across from Harry Buffalo, where Larry Nance (Sr.) was scheduled to sign autographs. I had also met Mark Price there on Wednesday (photo below) and I was all for meeting another member of my favorite childhood team — the 1992 Cavaliers. Alan was familiar with the name, as he remembered our prior conversations about Larry Nance Jr. joining the team this year.
To pass the time, Alan shot baskets on a mini hoop with a boy named Hank. While Alan was shooting, amazingly, Larry Nance snuck up behind Alan and blocked his shot, adding “Get that weak stuff out of here!” Alan wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but I explained to him that was who we came to see!
After the block, we got back in line, got an autograph, and took a photo with Nance shortly after.
Before leaving the table, Alan made a Cavs sign. It featured LeBron making a game winning three pointer in a 103-100 Cavaliers win over the Warriors. 🙂
Next we went back to shooting, since Alan could not get enough of the mini hoop. He made a fair amount of shots, and after a while, we were both pretty good at it actually. It took some persuading, but eventually I convinced Alan to head over to the Gateway Plaza to see the Cavaliers-sponsored Fan Fest.
We took a neat photo from the 4th floor of the Gateway garage before participating in the festivities. Down below, Alan found a new hoop to shoot on, as well as a hockey slap shot game and Cavaliers Jenga game that we enjoyed.
Eventually we made it to the grass in front of the big TV just in time to watch the Cavaliers starting lineup being introduced (which Alan is very familiar with now!).
We watched a little bit of the first quarter action, but Alan wanted to head back to the mini hoop we shot on earlier in the evening. On our way back, we ran into LeBron. 🙂
And we took Alan’s annual photo with NBA Finals signage!
Once back at the original hoop, Alan and I shot and shot…and shot. There was also a TV there, so we knew what was going on with the game. We left for home at halftime, but Alan probably could’ve stayed there all night!
When a Cleveland sports team needs a kid in its starting lineup, who better to turn to than Alan? He did it with the Indians in 2017, and he’s now done it with the Cavaliers in 2018!
I had registered Alan for the drawing to be in the Kids Starting Lineup for a playoff road game Watch Party at the Q prior to the start of the playoffs. As part of the application, I had to write a few paragraphs as to why Alan would be a great selection.
As the playoffs went on, I had actually forgotten about the application – until I was contacted by the Cavaliers via email following the Game 7 win over Boston. As if we needed more reason to be thrilled about the Cavaliers’ victory, this certainly provided another reason to celebrate! If I had to pick any Watch Party for Alan to participate in, Game 2 of the Finals is what I’d have chosen. It was great timing (on a weekend) AND Alan would get to run out before a near-sell-out crowd.
Coincidentally, I had already purchased four tickets for the Game 2 Watch Party before knowing Alan would be a part of the festivities. Shane and I have gone to the Game 2 Watch Party all four years of the Cavaliers’ NBA Finals streak, so I knew we’d use two of the tickets. It worked out well that Alan and Veronica could take the other two.
We arrived at the Q just before 7pm, about an hour before tip-off. We met a Cavaliers rep at the bottom of section 126 by the scorer’s table. She put us in one of the floor boxes while we waited.
Note: I later realized that we appeared over Jeff Phelps’ shoulder throughout the Cavaliers pregame show on Fox Sports Ohio. I caught that after watching the recording later that night.
After all five kids arrived at the floor boxes, they called the kids out to the court for a practice run-through around 7:30pm.
At this time, I didn’t know which starter would be Alan’s assignment. But while Alan was on the court, I saw Alan was third in the order, which meant Tristan Thompson. I happened to catch a Tristan graphic up on the Humongotron at about the same time.
After practicing, Alan returned to the floor boxes and confirmed he was assigned to be Tristan Thompson. Just before 8pm, the kids were called back into position in the corner of the court, where they watched Sir CC and Whammer attempt backwards, half-court shots (Whammer actually sunk one).
Note: The next day the Cavaliers posted a video of Whammer on social media, and I was briefly shown behind Whammer, taking pictures of Alan. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type — especially considering that Whammer hasn’t been around for 20 years!
As the kids got ready to go on, parents were allowed to step onto the court just to the right of the scorer’s table. Veronica, Shane, and I got into position with our phones ready to go. The Cavaliers in-game entertainment team went through the usual run-up to introductions, which included Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight and of course the national anthem. Soon after, the lights went off, the Cavaliers video intro (Finals version) played, and PA announcer Sean Peebles announced the lineup as the kids ran through a lane of mascots!
It was awesome being on the court for the first time and getting to watch Alan enjoy himself in the spotlight.
After all five players were announced, Alan huddled up with kids and mascots alike (photo taken by the Cavaliers). Later I asked Alan what was said in the huddle, and he responded with “Go Cavaliers!”
After all the excitement, we went up to the Wine & Gold United members section at the Huntington Club Level. The adults got some free food set aside for WGU members. Alan opted for a soft pretzel and popcorn at the concession stand instead.
Alan stayed at the Q until halftime, and then left for home with Veronica, as it was pretty late by that point.
Here is the on-court video of Alan!:
6/9/18 Update: Alan received a voucher for a free Cavaliers jersey for participating in the Kids Starting Lineup. Today I cashed it in for a Nike Swingman LeBron jersey!
Alan once again excelled at his end-of-year piano recital at the Music Settlement this afternoon. With his parents and both sets of grandparents in the audience, he brought the house down with his rendition of “Little Playmates.”
Following the performance, we stayed for a picnic as well. Alan was presented with his “100 Days” trophy, which he earned by practicing for 100 consecutive days!
Video of Alan’s full recital:
6/5/18 Update: Alan also performed a duet of “Honeybee” at Cleveland State tonight with his Tuesday night Suzuki [method] partner, George. On Tuesdays this year at the Music Settlement, Alan partnered with other kids to learn music collaboratively. In addition to practicing the piano, Alan was able to watch kids play other instruments, which has led to Alan’s new interest in learning how to play the violin.
It took three tries, but tonight Alan and I finally made it to our first Indians game of the season. The Indians were rained out during our first attempt on April 15th. Then the Cavaliers Game 7 vs Indiana changed our plans a couple week later on April 29th. The third time was a charm, but the Cavaliers were still a big part of the night.
The first Indians game of the year is usually exciting for Alan because he’s interested to see the changes made to the Kids Clubhouse and the Family Deck. This year he was thrilled to see the return of the train table after a 1-year hiatus! He ended up playing there all game long and made several new friends. I told him he was the manager of the train table, as he made sure everyone had a turn and got along.
Fortunately for us, Game 6 of the Cavaliers’ Eastern Conference Finals matchup vs the Celtics was on a TV right next to the train table, so neither of us had to move….except of course when I got Alan his big box of popcorn and he took a break to go down the slide!
As luck would have it, at the same time the Cavaliers game ended (with a Cavaliers win!), the Indians fireworks show began. Alan watched the fireworks from a great vantage point inside the Kids Clubhouse — really making it a one-stop shop for us on this night.
After the fireworks show, we walked through the party on the plaza and then through East 4th Street so Alan could see what a Cavaliers victory party looks like downtown. When LeBron scores 46 points in 46 minutes to force a Game 7, bedtime is no longer a priority. 😉
Following tonight’s excitement, Alan’s end-of-1st-Grade blowout weekend will continue with a trip to Chicago tomorrow!
Alan’s end-of-year field trip was to a familiar place: Progressive Field! Alan, along with the entire first grade, took a school bus to the ballpark this morning for a tour. Luckily, parents got to join too!
After dodging some early rain drops, the kids started their tour under mostly sunny skies. The first stop for Alan’s group was the Home Plate Club – a spot Alan had never been inside before. Then it was onto the elevators and up to the press box, where Alan had a bird’s-eye view of the grounds crew preparing the field for the Indians’ upcoming homestand.
After seeing the Infinity Club and the dining room for the all-you-can-eat club seats, it was back down the elevators to the lowest level of the ballpark. While waiting for everyone to get downstairs, the kids got a little restless. So one parent kept them occupied by encouraging them to do wall push-ups. 🙂
Before long, the kids entered the playing surface from behind home plate. It was Alan’s first time in that spot since he was in the Kids Starting Lineup last year. Then it was off to sit in the Indians dugout! He had walked past the dugout many times but had never been able to go inside previously. Just as the kids were getting up, there was an Andrew Miller sighting!
The final stop on the tour was at the batting cages in between the clubhouses. It reminded Alan of the batting cages at the Wildcat Fitness Center — only larger.
After the tour concluded, Alan’s class took a group photo and then lined up to board the buses. Meanwhile I picked up some pencils and pens for Alan at the Team Shop.
But fortunately that wasn’t the end of the field trip! For lunch, the first graders got to visit Square’s Castle in the Metroparks, where they had a picnic. The kids ate their lunches on blankets and then played afterwards. Alan and I played with a kickball for a bit before he went to join a zombie-chasing game at the castle with Grady, Colin, and Brady.
After fun time was over, Alan took the bus back to school. I picked him up there and drove him to McDonald’s — our customary stop after sharing time together at school. 🙂
Last night LeBron James hit a walk-off, game winner in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals to put the Cavs up 3-0 on the Raptors. If it looked familiar, that’s because someone else banked in an angled shot from a similar spot on the court earlier this season.
Who shot it better – Alan or LeBron?
Alan was asleep at the time LeBron made his shot, but he watched part of the first quarter at Grandma Debbie’s house. Now that Alan understands how an NBA champion is determined, he’s been excited to update his NBA playoffs bracket as teams advance. He can’t wait to move the Cavaliers forward again!
The Spring session of Chinese (Mandarin) class at the Cleveland Public Library came to a close today. After missing most of the Fall session because of basketball, Alan returned this Spring without missing a beat. Alan paid attention very well and was one of the best students of the class. It was no easy task with class sandwiched between piano lessons and fun evenings with Grandma, Tyler and Carleigh.
Over the last 4 weeks, Alan learned….
Sports! (Alan is demonstrating basketball, or “lan qui”):
Alan learned a lot during language study time (first hour of class), but perhaps his biggest accomplishment of the Spring was how well he did with the martial arts portion (second hour of class).
Sometimes the class played games during the second hour.
Other times they were serious about learning martial arts.
After not wanting to participate initially, Alan later started to master the learned sequences. In the final session today, the class divided in half for a team competition. Alan was the leader of his half and led his team to victory! After class, Alan demonstrated his winning moves one more time. 🙂
Alan and Tyler played as a team against Grandma Debbie and Carleigh in Old Maid tonight at Grandma Debbie’s house. Alan couldn’t stop laughing when Carleigh revealed her cards to everyone. He loves playing against Carleigh. 😉
Someone got a new Cars 3 toy that he loves playing with. I think he loves the crashing part the most. 🙂
Alan was back at Wickliffe Lanes today for the first time since his 7th birthday party. The gang got together for the second weekend in a row – this time to celebrate Xavier’s birthday. There was plenty of bowling again, but this time the kids found a fun arcade game that really grabbed their attention (I believe they were fighting aliens). Once Xavier came over with a few dollars, they enjoyed that game more than anything else. While bowling though, Alan picked up a spare!
The LBJ Basketball season came to a close today following the season finale vs. the Celtics. For this game the kids were on their own, as coaches had to stay on the sidelines. And stealing was allowed and the score was kept. But the team was ready. And I finally the opportunity to record some game action.
Alan played confidently, making good passes and taking strong shot attempts.
He hustled back on defense too, like he always does.
Alan closed out the scoring for the Heat’s season by converting on his best-looking and highest-arcing shot attempt of the season with about half of a minute remaining on the game clock (Note: He scored the team’s first basket of the season, too). Fortunately I was able to capture Alan’s successful bank shot – his 13th made field goal of the season — as I shouted “Yes!” in the background. Look at the joy in Alan’s reaction! 🙂
After the final buzzer sounded, the Heat huddled up one last time for their “Go Heat!” battle cry. Then it was off to a postgame subs-and-juice party for the team, where the coach passed out certificates and photos. It was a well-earned reward for the kids.
The backstory to the game included Alan battling a fever since Friday night. He stayed inside all day on Saturday to rest up to help his chances of being able to play. He needed Tylenol to get through the game, but he wasn’t going to miss it for anything. He loves playing basketball.
It’s incredible to think how far Alan has come from the first practice in November through now. He worked through early nerves and uncertainty that he could ever make a basket and transformed into a confident player able to knock down shots during competition. It’s been so rewarding to see him grow! I tell him every week he’s my favorite player to watch play. LeBron’s got nothing on Alan.
Today Alan attended Tribe Fest for the second year in a row – this time at the spacious Cleveland Convention Center.
With the added space came the opportunity for additional activities for kids, including air hockey (our favorite), foosball (where Alan broke into a Happy Dance when he scored a goal), and darts (where Alan scored a bullseye!).
But of course there was still hitting and pitching. For the second straight year at Tribe Fest, Alan excelled with the accuracy of his pitches. He threw three straight strikes, capped off by a perfect pitch! It would appear that he’s going to grow up to be a control pitcher.
To conclude a great day, Alan took a picture near one of his favorite Indians (at least favoritely-named), Cody Allen, as he was being interviewed by Channel 3.
This evening Alan celebrated De’Onta’s birthday at a roller skating party. It was Alan’s first time roller skating. The kids were there a good 3 hours before calling it a night. It made for a late night for Alan by the time he caught up with his cousins for their usual Saturday night play time.
Alan woke up this morning to find the Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage under the Christmas tree! It’s the largest gift he’s ever received – from Santa or from anyone else. He talked about it for weeks and had Elfie deliver the request to Santa early in December.
After both Elife and Santa came through for Alan last night, we assembled the garage and parked Alan’s cars on it — including the Indians, Browns, Cavs, and Ohio State cars and trucks that Santa put in Alan’s stocking.
We played all morning until it was time to open presents with Tyler and Carleigh at Grandma Debbie’s. The Hot Wheels theme continued there, as Alan received a Hot Wheels Roto Revolution toy from Grandma Debbie! Alan and Tyler faced off and mastered the game in no time. Grandma Debbie’s upstairs study is now home to the most [heavy duty] toys in one place that require D batteries.
Before the day was over, we took our annual photo on the stairs (after a one year hiatus when Josh wasn’t able to come home for Christmas). Merry Christmas!
Alan got to see all of his cousins today, as the whole family got together to welcome home Josh and Silke. Two of Alan’s holiday gifts — a Lego jet and limousine set from Tata & Papa and the Cars 3 Florida Speedway track from Robbie & Jill — were a hit at the party amongst the cousins. After playing indoor tag and hide-and-seek for the first portion of the day, the kids then worked on the Legos and put the racetrack to the test. They had a blast, and played until the party broke up.
Fortunately for Alan and Tyler, their own party continued well into the night as they had a sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s! Alan let Tyler fall asleep around 11pm, and when they woke up the next morning, they went right back to the racetrack. 🙂
Thanksgiving was highlighted today by Alan bringing his Thunderhollow criss-cross race track to share with his cousins. They loved crashing cars on the race track. The kids also enjoyed a game of hide and seek with Grandma Debbie!
When we got back home, Alan decorated his new, much taller Christmas tree. After realizing one string of lights wasn’t enough for the new tree, we went to Target to get another set. We also picked up some Cars 3 ornaments, as the year of Cars 3 continues on!
Alan’s first season in the Mayfield LBJ basketball league is officially underway! Alan has worn his lucky Cavs Championship shirt to the first few sessions. It must be bringing him good luck because today he made his first ever shot on the big hoop!
My camera was fortunately in hand, so here’s his form on the shot:
Alan’s friends playing in the league include Noah, Grady, Anton, Joshua, and De’Onta. Alan partnered with De’Onta to work on bounce passes.
Today I met up with Batman while at the Halloween party in Mrs. Russo’s classroom. Batman played a musical chairs-style game with a ‘hot potato’ pumpkin, made a craft, and participated in the Millridge Halloween parade!
Then later in the evening, it was another year of trick-or-treating with Cassidy and Xavier!
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!
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!
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, and Noah, as well as 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!
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.
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…
Alan and Tyler celebrated their 7th and 6th birthdays 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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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 had been asking to go to Sky Zone ever since Paige’s birthday party last February. Once I heard Dominick was a big fan too, it seemed like the perfect place to hold a cousins gathering!
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!
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!
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.
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.
Tonight’s focus was on hitting again at baseball practice. Alan loves using the metal bat and is getting pretty comfortable swinging it. Before practice, Alan and I bought new baseball pants for the upcoming summer baseball league. We got to hang out all afternoon since Alan is on spring break and I took off work.
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.
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.
Tonight was the first of several birthday parties on Alan’s calendar in February. Alan celebrated classmate Paige’s birthday at Sky Zone in Highland Heights. Alan had a blast jumping into a foam ball pit! Pretty much the whole kindergarten class made it out to the night time party (Alan’s first). Definitely a fun way to end the school week. 🙂
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.
Look at how much Alan has improved at ice skating. This is just lesson #5! Love how he splits the cones at the 1:05 mark especially.
Way to go Alan!
As of today, Alan has officially taken up ice skating! He participated in his first of five “learn-to-ice-skate” sessions at Gilmour Academy. He took a bus with his friends from Millridge after school, and he had a great time learning to skate!
Alan — I mean Gecko from PJ Masks — participated in his first Millridge Halloween parade today.
Then he went Trick-or-Treating with Cassidy and Xavier for the 3rd straight year!
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!
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!
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…
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!
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!
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. 🙂
Just look at that form!!
-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)
-Celebrating the Cavaliers’ championship!
-Wearing his new PJ Masks green mask
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
Had a playdate with Joshua from preschool on Sunday.
What a great week!
Recently Alan shared some of his recurring dreams with me.
One involved him driving Mommy’s Nissan on his own (Note: Alan’s no stranger to driving, as evidenced here).
Another was based on the Disney Junior show PJ Masks. Alan, along with his friends from preschool Ella and Joshua, who take on the roles of Gecko, Owelette, and Catboy everyday at recess, were busy conquering villains like Luna Girl.
But the most unique dream he shared involved Alan and I as firefighters. The two of us were at Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse with Mickey and Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates), when a fire alarm went off. Alan and I then took Mickey’s train to the fire and put it out. 🙂
-Typing the numbers 1 through 100 in Microsoft Word (and admiring his work)
-Playing with/kicking a football at the park (as Alan and I wait for baseball season to return)
-Playing PJ Masks at school with Ella and [new student] Joshua
-Building with Legos
–Bike-riding through the neighborhood (thanks to this mild winter!)
-Earning stickers at Chinese class
-Reading the Berenstain Bears Go to School
-Anything related to superheroes
-Weekly Sunday afternoon piano performances for Daddy
Alan’s latest work on the piano – with vocal!
Today Alan played the piano for the first time in front of an audience! Alan’s preschool class was studying the letter “P,” and Mrs. Jones asked Alan if he’d perform for the class and teachers in the music room. Alan — as brave as he is — later told me he was happy, not scared, when he agreed to show his friends his new talent.
Despite not preparing in advance, Alan put together a seemless, near two-minute free-style performance. Mrs. Jones even recorded the show so that I could watch it too! It was a fantastic surprise to get at work today, and I listened to Alan play on a loop all afternoon.
This spontaneous performance comes at a time when Alan is just concluding his first piano class. Since he enjoyed it so much, Alan is moving on to one-on-one piano lessons. I’m so proud of him for developing his musical talents!
Here’s the full video from Mrs. Jones:
Every other Sunday Alan goes to visit his Tata (Great-Grandma) and Papa (Great-Grandpa). It’s a weekend tradition that goes back to when Alan was a baby and spans three different apartments.
Some of Alan’s favorite activities have been playing in the sink and laughing about it (pictured above), reading with Tata, eating corn and graham crackers, playing in his [original] hideout (pictured below over Papa’s left shoulder), maneuvering his body through a fish-shaped drying rack (pictured below over Papa’s right shoulder), and playing with trucks, trains, and construction equipment (pictured below).
When Robbie and Jill are in town, the activities expand to playing “rescue” on the parking garage with Robbie (where workers are rescued from the roof via crane) and the board game Chutes and Ladders with Jill.
It’s always a great time on the weekends at Great-Grandparents’ apartment!
Note: The pictures below were taken by Alan today. He picked up my phone and just started snapping. The photos are both artistic and unique to his perspective. Nice job Alan!!!
Alan wrapped up another fun baseball season today at Progressive Field! The Indians beat the Red Sox and improved to 4-2 with Alan in attendance this season. Alan drove his favorite car (video) in the Kids Clubhouse and led the line again during the postgame run around the bases (video). This was Alan’s 10th career run!
Thanks to the Indians, Alan had a summer to remember. He looked forward to Sundays for the chance to see the Tribe and regretted when the team had a Sunday road game. He told me several times, “the Indians need me,” since he was a Tribe Town MVP this year.
Hopefully the winter flies by so Alan can get back out on the field in 2016!
For the past few months, Alan has been taking batting practice (video) in the bocce ball pit at Oakville Park.
We consider hitting the back wall of the pit a home run. Alan’s homeruns-to-swings ratio is getting pretty good!
My favorite preschooler and little buddy turns 5 today!!
Alan had an action-packed weekend leading up to his big day today. On Friday, the family got together for a birthday party at Great-Grandma’s apartment. The living room looked great decked out in Paw Patrol-themed decorations! Alan loved opening his gifts, blowing out candles, and running around and laughing with his cousin Brenton. He was acting silly when I tried to take a picture of him with his Paw Patrol balloon (video).
On Saturday, Alan opened up gifts from Mommy and Daddy (and got a package from Luke!) after getting home from Chinese culture class. We also hit baseballs at the Oakville park earlier in the day – a new favorite weekend activity for us.
On Sunday, Alan began the day at the Beachwood Municipal Service Center for the 16th annual “Hands-on Trucks” event, where Alan got to see many different transportation vehicles – and a traffic light – up close. His favorite part was talking with rescue personnel while sitting inside an ambulance!
Then of course Sunday continued with an Indians game! We met Aunt Jill at the ballpark and also saw Uncle Robbie and Uncle David after they walked over from the Browns’ home opening win.
All of it was an exciting lead-up to today, when I joined Alan at school for his class party. I read his favorite books (Red Truck and Road Work) to the class while Alan sat next to me at the front of the class wearing his birthday crown and holding his toy red tow truck. Afterwards the class sang happy birthday (video) to Alan! Next we sang songs that Alan chose for the class – one of which involved signing all 26 letters of the alphabet (I learned that Alan really enjoys sign language!). Finally, we passed out Paw Patrol gift bags, which the kids loved.
In the afternoon Alan received his birthday call from the Paw Patrol (a perk of the Nick Jr. Birthday Club). And in the evening he attended a program at the Richmond Heights library with both Mommy & Daddy. It was a perfect day. 🙂
Alan thanks everyone for the gifts and attention he received this week!!
This fall Alan will be busy on Saturdays. He’s participating in Chinese language lessons and martial arts every Saturday from 3 to 5 at the Cleveland Public Library.
In just his second class yesterday, he earned a medal (pictured above) for best participation in the class!
Here is Alan in action, showing off his skills! (video)
Alan climbing at the Chinese grocery store (video).
Alan’s Robot Moves (video)
You’re looking at the newest member of the Tribe Town MVP Club!
As a proud new MVP attending his first Indians game of 2015, Alan got a souvenir baseball, drawstring bag, jersey, and badge w/lanyard. The badge allows Alan to move to the front of the line not only at the Kids Clubhouse, but also at the lineup for running the bases!
The first thing we did today after picking up Alan’s gear was head to the redesigned Kids Clubhouse. Alan’s favorite addition was the two-story slide, which he tried out several times. He loves it!
Video: Kids Clubhouse Slide
In addition to playing on the slide, Alan drove his favorite cars and played in the walk-in houses. After a couple hours in the Kids Clubhouse, Alan did his job, which he takes seriously as an MVP, and ran the bases! I ran with him this time, but pretty soon he’s not going to need me out there anymore.
Today Alan went to a birthday party for Anthony (next to Alan above) at Zero Gravity Space Station in Eastlake. Alan enjoyed the day with his preschool classmates and had a blast on the inflatable slides. Alan was very happy Grady and Lilly (seated to his left and right below) were there too!
Alan in action on the inflatable slide (click for video).
Today Alan and Tyler got together and had a blast as usual. They played with a ball, played trains in the closet, shared chips while watching TV, and jumped on the bed!
Look how big Carleigh is getting!