Alan performed in this afternoon’s annual holiday program at the Music Settlement. He took part in the Suzuki Piano performance, playing a trio along with two other students in Miss Maria’s [Tuesday night] class. Good show, Alan!
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!
Second grade – Part II – edition of the Top 10:
-Sunday visits to the Mayfield Library – for playing and checking out books.
-Collecting on a new weekly allowance of $1! Alan’s actually gotten to put his NASA wallet to good use holding his dollar bills, library card, McDonald’s card, and photo ID (2018 summer baseball card).
-“Lexia” sessions (online learning for 2nd grade).
-Ice skating lessons at Gilmour.
-Playing basketball on our Ohio State mini-hoop! Alan sets the phone alarm and we play 3-minute quarters.
-Playing the dreidel game on the computer!
-Building racetracks, airports, and cities on Grandma Debbie’s coffee table.
-Doing crossword puzzles for kids with Tata.
-Constructing & playing, “Mouse Trap.”
-Setting postseason mini bat matchups!
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!
Alan’s weekends this fall go something like the following: Friday night hangouts with Daddy, followed by Saturday lessons and Sunday fun.
On Fridays we’re likely to play one of our board games together (Sorry!, Mouse Trap) and arrange baseball bats by match-ups. Saturday lessons kick off with swimming at Hawken and are followed by piano and violin lessons back-to-back at the Music Settlement. On Saturday nights, Alan heads to Grandma Debbie’s to see his cousins and sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s house!
Sundays involve taking Tata to Giant Eagle for shopping and then stopping by the apartment to have lunch and play. We also usually play baseball or tennis too. Occasionally we stop by the Wildcat Fitness Center as well.
There’s not too much schoolwork to do on weekends this fall. Alan does do practice math problems though. And we participated in Millridge’s Read-a-thon for the first time! Alan logged 480 minutes while reading 22 books this month.
For the second October in a row, Alan and I had extra ‘buddy time’ while Veronica went traveling for a week!
Together we had quite a week+, starting on the night of 9/27 and lasting through tonight. There was a lot of math homework (50 problems a day), music (in the car on the way to school), books (it was Millridge Read-a-thon week), and even dad jokes (written on notes placed in Alan’s lunch bag). There was also The Great Coffee Spill of 2018 mixed in, which fortunately we overcame. 🙂
We devoted a day (last Sunday) to board games. Then midweek we went to Party City and bought a new one, Mouse Trap. Alan loved it!
There was also sports (& creations). Alan watched OSU beat Penn State while building the Lego Coast Guard set, then watched OSU beat Indians while building a new Tinker Toy 16-wheeler. We watched the Browns upset the Ravens on a last second field goal in OT(!). And we hit baseballs at the park, two days after Indians day at school in honor of the ALDS.
Fortunately Alan had some meditation time with this classmates after all the excitement at home. 🙂
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.
Second grade – Part I – edition of the Top 10:
-Attending Indians games at Progressive Field!
-Batting practice at the Mayfield Community Park and racing Daddy around the bases on every 5th hit.
-The Cleveland National Air Show!
-2nd grade birthday parties at Sky Zone (Noah is up next in October after Grady and Alan!)
-Making Lego and train cities.
-Playing with Tyler and Carleigh Saturday nights at Grandma Debbie’s!
-Following Indians games on Gamecast. 🙂
-Setting mini bat “matchups” of MLB teams every Monday and Friday nights during baseball season.
-Playing cards and “Sorry!”
-Playing badminton and tennis with our new rackets.
Alan and Brady, best friends in Mrs. Harris class during the week, got together twice this weekend too. On Friday they swam together at the Mayfield High School pool. Then on Sunday Brady came by to see Alan’s Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage. Alan had been waiting a long time to show it to Brady! But they didn’t stop there. The boys played together on the Highland Heights playground, then played at Brady’s house for a couple more hours!
Although Alan’s been in swimming pools since he was a baby, today he attended the first session of his very first swim class. He’s signed up at Hawken Lower School, and the Saturday morning sessions run through October. He was nervous when he arrived at the pool today, but it didn’t take long for him to start having fun. He loved it and can’t wait for next week!
Tonight Alan, Xavier, and the rest of the 2018 Mighty Mites Yankees attended the annual Mayfield Boys Baseball League banquet at La Vera Party Center. Champions from all MBBL age groups were honored and prizes were raffled off.
Alan and Xavier didn’t win a prize, but they entertained themselves all evening by following the Indians-Orioles play-by-play on ESPN Gamecast (Indians won 2-1). We didn’t know about this event last year, but we’re glad we found out this year and got to be together as a team one more time!
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’s second-to-last week of summer break was jam-packed with fun activities. It was a true representation of what a great summer weekend should be like.
On Friday night we returned to the baseball field to hit balls for the first time since before Alan’s surgery. Alan was hitting mostly everything I pitched to him and ran the bases several times. He was thrilled to get back on the field. Afterwards, as we were packing up, Alan happened to see Ella from Mrs. Russo’s class at the park with her Mom and sister. Alan stopped to play with them for a while on the playground, and then they chased fire flies together. Ella also gave Alan an orange wristband to go with the friendship rock from earlier in the year. After going home, we played chess and also continued to work on a car that Alan, an engineer in training, started to build out of a box. 🙂
On Saturday we began the day at The National Sports Collectors Convention (The NSCC). After lunch, Alan and I stopped by the annual summer carnival at Golden Gate Gardens and participated in a cake walk and played a ball toss game together.
Afterwards, I took Alan to his friend Josh’s house to play for a couple hours. Somehow the day was still just beginning though, as the highlight of Alan’s day was going to see Tyler and Carleigh. First they played in a bounce house at Katie’s graduation party (where a photo was snapped of all the cousins), and then they played at Grandma Debbie’s house. They ended up having a good four hours together in the two locations. Alan let his cousins drive his “box car.” 🙂
Next weekend — the final one of summer break — figures to be another fun one too!
This weekend Alan and I made a two separate visits to the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention at the I-X Center. The event was held in Cleveland (Wednesday-Sunday) for the first time since 2014. I attended that year and have been looking forward to bringing Alan to his first card show ever since.
After checking out the opening night preview on Wednesday, I set a game plan and brought Alan with me on Saturday morning. Our first stop was to the PSA table, where I dropped off my Rose Bowl tickets and an autographed Jim Tressel business card for grading. There Alan and I also had personal trading cards made! I was excited to wear the greatest Indians jersey of all time – the late 80s/early 90s Municipal Stadium era version with the red, white, and blue-striped border. Alan had a more modern look, sporting his blue practice jersey with the block C. 🙂
The next stop was Alan’s favorite activity – the indoor Ferris wheel. Alan loved how it peaked through the roof and allowed for a view of the neighboring airport. We looked out for planes at the top of each rotation!
After the ride, we browsed the booths on the convention floor and picked up a 1948 World Series highlight DVD, a 1958 Rose Bowl game film DVD, and a 1975 OSU-Michigan radio broadcast CD. When we came across some vintage baseball equipment, Alan felt relieved that the catcher’s gear he wore this year has improved since the early 1900s model! On the way out we took a photo by the entrance/exit (LeBron is shown top left).
Alan and I decided that one day at the convention was not enough, so we returned again on Sunday morning. When we arrived, we bought two commemorative items – a convention pin and poster. While waiting in line, a Panini representative passed out a redemption card to Alan to turn in at the Panini booth. We found it was for a 10-card VIP set that included Baker Mayfield, along with 9 other top rookies in the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
Being a kid at the convention definitely had its perks, as Alan also received free cards from two other booths. For the first time Alan got to experience the thrill of opening a pack of cards and getting a player from his team, as one of the packs contained a sharp Duke Johnson Donruss card. The only cards that we ended up having to purchase were the latest 3-card installment from the Topps Living Set that included Francisco Lindor! (along with Andrew Benintendi and Austin Meadows). When buying the set the Topps booth we came across some great fortune, as the 3-card set we purchased included a redemption card for a 11×14 print of Lindor signed by the artist, Mayumi Seto.
Of course we had to ride the Ferris wheel again too, after having so much fun with it the day before. Alan also got a kick out of the fun house mirrors right around the corner from the Ferris wheel.
Before leaving, we viewed some more memorabilia, included some LeBron Cavaliers gear and a Satchel Paige game-worn Indians jersey!
My hope is that this convention will spark Alan’s interest in the same hobby that I have enjoyed since I was his age. I think he definitely started to understand what I see in trading cards and sports memorabilia at least. I think the odds are good that we’ll go to another show again someday!
With his traveling behind him, Alan could finally get what he’s been waiting for this summer – a sleepover with Tyler and Carleigh at Grandma’s house! In fact it was a true summer weekend from start to finish for Alan.
The sleepover took place on Friday night. Alan brought the Sea Patroller (from Paw Patrol) as the featured toy of the night. Highlights included the kids picking out donuts from Dunkin Donuts for their bedtime snack and going on a walk in their pajamas with flashlights. On their walk, they met a woman with a white dog named Misty that Alan liked. The kids were excited to explain that they were in their pajamas going on a “midnight” walk with their grandma!
On Saturday morning the kids went to the library to get new books (one of Alan’s favorites pictured below) and play with the kitchen set. Alan’s doing the summer reading program again, and he earned a raffle ticket for reaching the halfway point on his game board. The kids read and played some more until it was time to go home.
But the fun didn’t stop there for Alan. Later on Saturday he went to Josh’s house to play with Josh and Killian. The boys played outside, including in Josh’s backyard pool. After I picked Alan up, we played two of Alan’s new favorite games – chess and checkers – on our brand new set. We could have finished the night playing those games, but Alan wanted to run to the park to hit some baseballs until the sun went down. We’ve been playing a new game when Alan hits a ball far where he tries to circle the bases before I can get the ball and track him down. He likes showing off his speed ever since the coach told him he’s fast!
On Sunday Alan got to help Tata shop at Giant Eagle for the first time in several weeks due to his traveling. He enjoys pushing the cart and helping out very much. Afterwards we hit baseballs again at the park, despite the heat. It was a full summer weekend for sure!
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!
On 6/19/18, Alan had his first career 3-hit game! He went 3-for-3 with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored (career high) in a win over the Red Sox. Alan also caught three innings for the second straight night and played three more in LF. He was disappointed that he didn’t get a game ball after the game — that went to a player who broke a 9-9 tie with a 3-run double in the bottom of the 5th — but it made him appreciate last night’s honor even more. Grandma Debbie, Papa, and Lulu(!) were there to see the Yankees earn their first winning streak of the season. Alan proudly told his teammates that Lulu was his dog. 🙂
On 6/25/18, Alan went 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs (career high) and 1 run scored in a win over the Marlins. He also caught all 6 innings! The Yankees spotted the Marlins 5 runs before coming back to win 15-13. It was a great end to the regular season, made even better by the fact that Tyler, Carleigh, Grandma Debbie, and Papa came for the third straight Monday night. Alan LOVED having them come this season!
Alan’s cumulative season stat line reads as follows: 17-for-33 (.515) with 8 RBIs and 8 runs scored. He closed the year on an impressive 10-game hit streak and had multiple hits in six of those 10.
As a team, the Yankees closed the year with three straight victories to end the regular season at 5-6. That’s good for a third place finish out of five teams. The order of finish was Dodgers-Red Sox-Yankees-Marlins-Giants. The Yankees will open the playoffs with a 1-game showdown vs. the Red Sox. The winner will play a best of three series vs. the winner of Dodgers vs. Marlins/Giants.
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!
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 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.
The 2018 edition of our annual trip to Chicago returned to Memorial Day Weekend. The recap follows below:
Saturday, May 26th, 2018:
Alan and I arrived at Hopkins in the early evening, following Alan’s afternoon piano lessons (fortunately baseball practice had been cancelled for the holiday weekend, since we were still a little tired from our late night downtown).
We loved seeing the Cavaliers signage around the airport!
As we waited for our flight to Chicago, Alan passed the time by reading some books he found. He entertained himself for quite a while.
Before long, we were off to O’Hare. Once we arrived, Alan requested a quick stop at Target for chips and Hot Wheels cars (otherwise known as life’s necessities). Then it was time to head to the house and immediately bring out the Lincoln Logs!
Sunday, May 27th, 2018:
As soon as Alan woke up, he picked up where he left off the night before with the Lincoln Logs and cars. Jill joined him and soon their farm took shape!
Once we left the house, the [obvious] first stop was the Chicago Botanic Garden for the model train display! It remains the premier destination and highlight of Alan’s trip. For the first time, we saw the caterpillar train car out on the track!
We took a couple laps around the train display and took many photos, but didn’t stay quite as long as normal due to the unseasonably warm temperatures (mid 90s).
Note: We made sure to wear our Cavaliers shirts all day in advance of Game 7 vs. the Celtics later that night! I wore the “Whatever It Takes” shirt that we got at the Q while attending Game 7 vs. Indiana together.
After seeing the trains, we all went to another familiar destination — the Highland Park mini golf course! When Alan has a favorite go-to spot, he makes sure to enjoy it.
For the first time in several years, no one got a hole-in-one. While we were golfing, we heard the song “Whatever It Takes” playing on the loudspeakers. Hearing those lyrics — which double as the Cavaliers’ 2018 playoff slogan — felt like a great omen for the game later that night! Alan and I love that song now.
After golf, we headed to one of Alan’s universal favorite places — McDonald’s. Alan got his lunch there and then sat patiently with a word search activity while the adults had their lunch at Rhapsody Café.
After a brief rest at home, the next stop was the Deerfield Public Library. Alan assembled a very long train and had a great time driving it up and down the ramps he created for it.
While we were there, the Indians rallied to score five runs in the 9th inning vs. the Astros to force extra innings. The Indians would later win it in 14 innings on a Greg Allen walk-off HR(!) when we were picking up milk at Walgreens and following on our phones. I also saw that as a good omen for the Cavaliers, since the Indians won an extra inning game the same day the Cavaliers beat the Warriors in Game 7 in 2016 (Dan Otero even got the win both days).
Not that I’m superstitious or anything, but for dinner I suggested Il Forno Pizzeria. Why? Because it’s where we picked up dinner exactly two years ago (5/27/16) before we watched the Cavaliers beat the Raptors to win the Eastern Conference!
And sure enough, we watched the Cavaliers win the Eastern Conference for the 4th straight season in a thriller! Alan watched the whole thing and pretended to be a coach. He told the Celtics when to miss — and they listened, scoring just 79 points. 🙂 We knew the Cavaliers couldn’t have done it without Alan!
As we watched the Cavaliers raise up their trophy during the postgame ceremony, I thought back to a prophetic declaration that Alan made earlier in the month (on his own volition) that the Raptors and Celtics couldn’t beat LeBron James. He was right, and it was a great night that we won’t soon forget!
Monday, May 28th, 2018:
The next morning we braved the heat once again and celebrated Memorial Day back at the Botanic Garden to see the trains. When we went looking for the butterfly/lady bug/caterpillar train car to see whose turn it was in the rotation, we were surprised to find none of the above. Instead we found a special patriotic train car!
Once Alan got his fill of trains for the trip, we got takeout (McDonalds’s and Panera, respectively) for lunch, then went on to round 2 of mini-golf. Again no holes-in-one for any of us, but we had a great time on the course!
After mini-golf, Alan took his annual ride on the train with Jill. This time they traveled from Deerfield to Glenview, where Robbie and I picked them up. Alan opted to ride on the second level of the train, which he always chooses.
On our way home, we got take out from Naf Naf Grill. After eating dinner, we took our annual photos by the famous tree (see beginning of post) and then headed to Maplewood Park for Alan to play. Alan did a little rock-climbing and also entertained himself by sending some cars he brought with him down the big slide.
Tuesday, May 29th, 2018:
The next morning we took an early flight home so Alan could get back for piano and a baseball game. Alan found our gate for us at O’Hare.
Thanks to Robbie and Jill for hosting us for another fantastic weekend. As usual, Alan had a great time. The trip was a great way to kick-off Alan’s summer!
The Mayfield Mighty Mites baseball season is officially underway. Alan’s team — the Yankees — played through a rain-soaked and shortened opener on 5/12/18. Then they were rained out completely on 5/14/18. So today’s game felt more like the true kick-off to the season.
On 5/12/18, Alan put two balls in play but was retired on great plays by fielders. In the field, he played RF and pitcher’s helper, as the coach likes his ability to field ground balls. The result of the game was a loss to the Giants.
Today, 5/21/18, Alan went 2-for-3 with two singles and a fielder’s choice ground-out. He was excited to run the bases three times, and even scored from 2nd on a single for his first run scored of the season. I coached third and waved him home! In the field, he played RF and LF and got the ball into the infield quickly on a couple hits. The result of the game was a loss to the Red Sox.
Note: Alan is wearing #2 for the Yankees this year, which he wanted because it’s his second year playing in an organized baseball league. He wore #1 last year.
First grade – Part IV – edition of the Top 10:
-Visiting playgrounds and parks – especially now that the weather is warm!
-Doubling up on batting practice and playground time on Friday nights at the Mayfield Community Park.
-Tracking results of the NBA playoffs on a bracket print-out. Alan watched some of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals from Grandma Debbie’s on Saturday, including when LeBron made a three to put the Cavs up by 20 on the Celtics.
-Making forts with Tyler and Carleigh at Grandma Debbie’s!
-Learning baseball team logos using a set of mini batting helmets and the following map:
-Thinking about cars he’d like to buy when he’s older. Alan currently wants to own a blue Subaru, a red Chevy, and a gray Kia. He’d also like to buy Grandma Debbie a black Porsche.
-Playing badminton – Alan’s latest new sport
-ABC Countdown at school! Alan’s really looked forward to each daily activity over the past month.
-Making race tracks on Grandma Debbie’s coffee table every weekend!
This weekend was the first weekend of spring with warm weather and no rain, and Alan took full advantage. He practiced hitting at the community park on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, with a Saturday morning team practice mixed in between. After practicing hitting, Alan played at the nearby playground – one of this favorites – each time.
Also, on Saturday night, Alan played outside by Grandma Debbie’s pond with Tyler and Carleigh. Alan’s favorite part was throwing rocks into the pond. Alan found it funny when one of Tyler’s throws didn’t go far enough and splashed them both with mud.
It won’t be long until Alan will get to play outside every weekend!
First grade – Part III – edition of the Top 10:
-Playing MBBL baseball! (Practice kicked off this past Saturday – photo above)
-Texting. Yes, it’s true. Particularly with Dad, Mom, Grandma Debbie, and Shane. Alan loves sending emojis!
-Playing cards with Grandma Debbie, Tyler, and Carleigh
-Hiding rocks in the snow outside the Golden Gate Gardens apartment and creating a “treasure map” to document how to locate them
-Hanging out with friends – Josh, Noah, and Brady in the past few weekends alone
-Championship races on the Super Ultimate Garage racetrack! (still a huge favorite)
-Dancing to Kidz Bop music at school — and later watching the classroom videos that Mrs. Russo posts on Twitter
-Racing cars down our long hallway
-Ice Skating and Swimming
-Building train cities! (photo below)
Before and after Chinese class, Alan loved building with blocks in the Children’s area on the 4th floor (conveniently located across the hall from the Foreign Language room).
Here are a couple of his best creations. Above is a tower with a bridge to the entranceway. Below is a pair of houses. The first house even has its own garden in the front yard!
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. 🙂
Following the news that Toys “R” Us was going out of business, Alan and I decided to make one last visit to the Mayfield Heights store – where Alan first fell in love with trains during his toddler years.
After we walked up and down all the aisles for one last memory, Alan picked out a Lego and a Hot Wheels car mat. Then we took the photo above at the same train aisle where we used to spend many Saturdays playing with the Thomas the Train display table (see: http://alans-story.grilledshane.com/?p=57).
The Thomas display might no longer be around, but Alan did find an Imaginarium Train Table display with a whole train city that still captured his attention. Alan told me he wished he was small enough to ride in the steam engine. 🙂
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 kicked off year 2 of his Mayfield Boys Baseball League (MBBL) career today at the Wildcat Fitness Center. This season Alan has moved up to the Mighty Mite division (7-8 year olds), after playing in the Instructional division (5-6 year olds) last season. It’s still a coach-pitch division, but it’s a step up in competition.
Today Alan came in for a talent evaluation. He started off by fielding grounders, throwing to a coach, and catching pop-ups.
Afterwards, Alan took some batting practice in the batting cages. He did pretty well for his first swings of the season.
Alan was thrilled to see first grade classmates Logan and Jonah at the Fitness Center. He also saw two teammates from last season – Chris and Connor. It figures to be another fun summer on the diamond!
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.
Here are the highlights of the second half of the basketball season:
2/4/18: No game. Alan’s team had the week off, but a play from the prior week — where Alan caught a hot pass from a teammate (Wyatt) and scored — was talked about by Alan and me all week. After I showed Alan video of LeBron’s game-winning shot to beat the T-Wolves at the buzzer on 2/7/18, Alan commented on how Jeff Green’s pass to LeBron was just like Wyatt and Alan’s play. After Alan shared his take on the play, it will likely now go down in family lore — just like the time Alan hit a baseball off the roof of the apartment. That happened last summer, but we talk about that like it was yesterday. 🙂
2/11/18 vs Thunder: Alan was miraculously held scoreless by the all-world Thunder D, but he impacts the game in other ways – most notably with his good passing. Alan brought the ball up the court and set up the offense several times in the game.
2/18/18 vs Cavs: Alan played his best game of the season, highlighted by four made baskets! He scored once in the first quarter, twice in the third quarter (including at the buzzer), and once in fourth quarter. It was an intense game due to one kid on the opposing team being both too skilled and too physical for the league. Early in the third quarter, Alan got banged into by him. But Alan shook it off, stayed in the game, and went on to score three of his four baskets after getting hurt.
2/25/18 vs Lakers: Alan once again provided instant offense, opening the game with the first basket for the Heat. He would later score again early in the third quarter. I filled in as head coach (promoted from assistant), so I’ll take credit for calling Alan’s number. Robbie was in the audience to see Alan’s two baskets. The best moment for me was when Alan put his arm around me when I was kneeling for the end of game team huddle. It was the same hug I felt when I took a photo with Alan at Millridge last month when he was the student of the week. I also felt it back when I visited him on Sports Day at Millridge in March 2017.
All of these games were 11:30am starts (first wave of games), so Alan wanted us to arrive before the rest of the team to practice on the open court. It was fun playing 1-on-1 with him!
Alan’s winter birthday party tour continued today at Brady’s house. Brady invited over Grady, Xavier, Anton, Liam, and Alan to celebrate his 7th birthday. The kids ate popcorn and watched Cars 3! Alan even got to build a pillow fort, which he loves doing.
According to Alan, Brady is his very best friend. They play together every day at recess and, on occasion, they swim together and play together at Brady’s house.
First grade – Part II – edition of the Top 10:
-Getting balloon animals at Tribe Fest!
-Playing LBJ league basketball
-Championship races on the Super Ultimate Garage racetrack!
-Reading Fenway & Hattie chapters nightly with different family members
-Making new creations with Tinker Toys!
-School parties (followed by Alan & Daddy hangouts at McDonald’s)
-Playing Chutes and Ladders
-Ice Skating and Swimming
-Playing Florida Speedway (Cars 3) with Tyler and Carleigh at Grandma Debbie’s
-Building (and re-building) “3-in-1” Lego sets
The week of January 29th through Feb 2nd was Alan’s week to be the featured student of the week in Mrs. Russo’s class!
On Monday, Alan turned in his “Emojis About Me!” poster, in which he revealed his favorite subject (tie: gym and library), animal (Lulu), hobby (learning music), holiday (Christmas), food (Chinese bean sprouts), and sport (tie: baseball and basketball). Alan also worked in stickers/mentions of some of his other favorites, including parents, cousins, swimming, Cars 3, the Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage, and Tribe Fest!
On Tuesday, Alan brought in one of his “Lava Crawler” Lego vehicles (pictured on the far left below) for show-and-tell.
On Wednesday, Alan brought in one of the books we bought at last fall’s book fair – Ten Baby Bears – to share with his class.
On Thursday night, Alan compiled 100 loose Lego pieces as part of a homework assignment to collect and bring in 100 items in honor of the 100th day of school (Friday)!
On Friday, Alan’s big week culminated with his parents visiting class to help him present his poster. We shared pictures and told stories about Alan. I made sure to bring pictures of Tyler, Lulu & Rosie, the Super Ultimate Garage, Alan meeting Jose Ramirez, and Alan in his LeBron jersey. Then the class presented Alan with a “star student” book that they made. It was full of nice comments about Alan, which he loved to hear.
Alan was all smiles with his arm around either Mom or Dad the whole time. When I took out my camera, some of his friends, especially Ella, wanted in the pictures too!
Afterwards I got to take Alan to lunch. He picked McDonald’s of course – our favorite hang out spot!
It’s time for a midseason update:
1/7/18 vs Cavs: In his debut contest, Alan scored two baskets, including the Heat’s first basket of the season on the first shot attempt of his career. He also scored in the 3rd quarter. I loved being out on the court with Alan and seeing the pride on his face after making that first shot.
1/14/18 vs Pacers: Alan again scored two baskets, opening both the 2nd and 4th quarters with made shots (and fist pumps). I might have to start calling him “The Microwave” because of his potential for instant offense!
1/21/18 vs Blazers: Despite getting hit by a stray ball pregame and getting kicked (inadvertently) during the game, Alan recovered to score a basket in the 4th quarter. Alan learned about toughing out games and playing hurt.
1/28/18 vs Knicks: In front of an audience that included Grandma Debbie, Papa, Tata, and Papa #2, Alan kept his ‘consecutive games with a made basket’ streak alive by converting a shot near the start of the 4th quarter. Alan was back to his enthusiastic self on the court, and he was especially excited to participate in a jump ball for the first time.
According to Alan, basketball has now pulled even with baseball as his favorite sport.
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 has taken a new interest in music these days, particularly Kidz Bop songs. His favorites are “Fight Song,” “Thunder,” “Just Like Fire,” “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” “Best Day of My Life,” and “Feel It Still” — all of which he’s heard during 1st grade dance breaks, which are a variation of more traditional stretch breaks.
Recently we purchased and downloaded all of these songs to our iPhone. We had our own dance party – featuring the “dancing water speakers” pictured above – right before Ohio State’s Cotton Bowl victory tonight over USC!
Today Alan completed the final practice session before league play begins in 2 weeks. He’ll be playing for the Heat this winter!
Alan’s pretty proud of himself for how far he’s come already this season. He can make baskets pretty consistently in the layup line, he can jog while dribbling, and he can slide his feet on defense. The uncertainty he felt before his first practice was ancient history today when he described basketball as “a lot of fun” after his last practice.
Alan can name all the areas on a court now after we’ve been studying a diagram of a basketball court. And Alan’s coach called him the best listener he’s ever seen.
He’s got a second favorite sport to go along with baseball now!
First grade edition of the Top 10:
-Anything and everything related to Cars 3!
-Saturday nights with Tyler and Carleigh
-The Haunted Hot Rod episode of Mickey and the Roadster Racers
-Swimming at the MHS pool
-Lulu & Rosie…and Lacey too!
-Learning to read
-Collecting Indians, Cavs, Browns, and Buckeyes cars & trucks
-Building with Legos
-Playing Memory Match Game & Go Fish
-Building with Tinker Toys!
For the second year in a row, Cassidy’s birthday party was held at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Alan and I loved it because we got to play air hockey together. Later on, after the kids ran out of tokens, Alan, Xavier, and Josh entertained themselves by running through the play area and hanging out in their cage hideout. They had so much fun that they closed the place down for the second year in a row!
Cars 3 is now out on DVD, and Alan became a proud owner of a copy the first day it was available. We have been waiting since the summer for this DVD to come out, and we wasted no time in having a movie night together last night!
It’s fitting that Alan also lost another tooth yesterday (next to front big right tooth). Nothing has defined Alan’s first grade year more than Cars 3 and losing teeth!
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.
Alan and I had extra quality time together this week with Veronica 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!
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).
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.
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!
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!
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 wrapped up the Summer Reading Program today and got to pick out a free book at the Mayfield Library as a prize. Alan chose 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Today Alan took up a new activity: chess. He’s participating in a 7-session program for the next 7 Wednesdays after school at Millridge. Alan is happy that his classmate Dhruva signed up too!
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. 🙂
It’s time for an updated top 10:
-Legos, legos, legos…and legos!
-Ice Skating at Gilmore on Fridays after school
-Swimming at the MHS pool
-Playing freeze tag in gym class
-Riding the bus with Cassidy and Xavier
-Seeing Tyler (especially since he lives in Solon now!)
-Watching Mickey and the Roadster Racers
-Classmate birthday parties
-Learning about cars!
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!
Artwork from Chinese Class. Plus a video from martial arts.
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!
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).
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.
-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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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
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!!!
I leased a new car this month — a 2016 Hyundai Sonata — and Alan told me that he’ll be in charge of inspecting the wheels this winter to make sure that there’s not too much ice and snow on them before we start driving. As indicated by the picture below, it’s an important job when you live in Cleveland!!
On Thursdays and Fridays Alan gets to spend the day with Grandma Debbie, Papa, Rosie, and Lulu. Alan has a great time reading, going to the library, playing bingo, going to a shop in Chagrin Falls where his friend Jennifer gives him lollipops, and mixing coffee for Papa at Starbucks (Alan adds sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla flavoring and puts the straw in the lid).
Alan also enjoys playing “I Spy” with Grandma Debbie, playing Paw Patrol and Blaze computer games, playing with the dogs, and going to Great Clips for haircuts, where everyone loves Alan. Occasionally Alan gets to visit Uncle John too.
He especially loves Thursday night sleepovers and going on nighttime adventures around the neighborhood in his pajamas with Grandma, Papa, and the dogs before bed!
Alan’s always up to something new and interesting at Grandma Debbie’s!
Alan’s current list of favorite things to do:
-Playing catch with his Ohio State football
-Wearing his Braxton Miller #5 jersey (debuted during Ohio State’s win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl!)
-Building with Legos
-Playing bingo with special cards that have pictures of transportation vehicles on them
-Collecting Paw Patrol figures of all sizes
-Reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (he can recite the entire story from memory)
-Babysitting Lulu Belle
-Creating secret handshakes with Daddy
-Playing the piano
-Swimming! (this may never leave this list)
Lately Alan has really been impressing me with his maturity. He’s always been a good-mannered and well-behaved kid, but now he seems even more grown-up.
Within the last month, he’s asked to donate some of his old toys to kids who don’t have what he does. He also fully accepted that Ruby went to Dog Heaven so she didn’t have to be sick anymore. And he’s done very well at his piano lessons.
He had already been a good Chinese-English translator, but he’s continuing to develop his language skills too. He has even picked up sign language from his class at school.
He doesn’t fall asleep in his car seat as much anymore. And speaking of car seats, he’s at a weight where he can transition to a booster seat now.
He thinks about more complicated subjects, such as where babies come from (He currently believes parents go to the hospital to pick out their favorite babies from a nursery…and that I picked him because he’s my favorite).
He likes wearing white undershirts so he can dress more like a grown-up. He’s always told me we look the same except for our hair length and our clothes, but now even that gap is narrowing. 🙂
Alan’s current list of favorite things to do:
-Sunday routine of hitting baseballs at the Oakville Park and going to McDonald’s
-Collecting buckeyes from a neighborhood buckeye tree
-Building with Tinker Toys
-Playing in his “hideout” (a card table covered by a sheet) in the living room
-Watching his favorite shows, which include PJ Masks, Miles from Tomorrowland, Blaze and the Monster Machines, and Team Umizoomi
-Reading stories before bed
-Going on “adventures” walking Rosie after dark with Grandma Debbie
-Swimming at the Mayfield Heights indoor pool – with a flotation device, but by himself!
-Spelling words with floating letters in the bathtub
-Learning at school and playing tag at recess!
It’s great to be 5. 🙂
In addition to attending Chinese language and Martial Arts classes (pictured above) on Saturdays at the Cleveland Public Library, Alan is also now taking piano lessons on Saturday mornings at Case Western with a couple other students. So far he’s off to a great start. He’s learning all the notes and has been practicing at home. On October 10th he was chosen by the teacher to demonstrate how to play the notes to the other students!
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!
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)
The days of Alan wanting to buy two Matchbox cars from Discount Drug Mart every weekend are officially over. He still loves cars (and trucks, trains, planes, helicopters, etc for that matter), but his interests in toy collection are now much more diverse.
After collecting all six “Paw Patrol” figurines, Alan has now moved on to “Octonauts” and the gups, or transportation pods, that are featured on the Disney Junior show. His current favorite is the Gup-D. There are 15+ of these gups in all, so we may not collect them all before Alan moves on to his next collecting phase…
On Saturday, April 25th Alan made his soccer debut in the Mayfield “Red Devil” 4-year old league! The season consists of six 1-hour Saturday morning practice and game sessions. While most of the kids aren’t that into the games at such a young age, the league does give the kids their first taste of sports and being on a team.
Alan is a member of the gray team and was happy to learn that his classmate, Dominic (the goalie in the first picture below), is on the gray team as well. Alan’s friend and neighbor, Xavier, is also in the league, but plays for the red team.
I’m getting to coach Alan this season and be with him out on the field. I’m proud of Alan for giving soccer a shot!
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).
The biggest fan of Nick Jr.’s “Paw Patrol” now owns all 6 pup characters–including their badges–and couldn’t be happier. Marshall (red), Chase (blue), & Rubble (yellow) were easy to find in stores; Zuma (orange) was a little tougher. Rocky (green) & Skye (pink) were impossible to find, so we bought them on eBay.
The last two days Alan learned that the mail only comes once per day, and it can feel like forever to wait for that time. But he managed, and yesterday he was overjoyed to open up the mailbox and see Skye! He even used his new cutting skills to open up the package.
Alan lined up the characters on the coffee table according to the order in which they appear during the show’s into. He loves to look at them while he sings along with the show’s theme song (He remembers most of the words).
Current favorite things to do (in no particular order):
-Riding the escalators at Beachwood Place Mall
-Playing in tents at Dick’s Sporting Goods
-Watching the model train at Mitchell’s Ice Cream
-Playing ‘imaginary ship’ (on his bed)
-Playing ‘imaginary rocket ship’ (on my bed)
-Watching 7D on Disney Junior
-Asking what letters words starts with
-Show-and-tell at school
-Swimming at the Mayfield High School pool
-Hitting baseballs off the tee
It’s good to be 4. 🙂
Lately, in addition to enjoying going to preschool, Alan has been enjoying the following pastimes:
- Playing baseball in the house. This includes playing catch and hitting off a tee (I don’t mind).
- Making coffee (for me). I have a Keurig, but Alan prefers the powder/mixing method.
- Taking my phone and running with it while shouting, “You can’t catch me!”
- Related to 3), taking pictures of his cars and his favorite TV shows with my phone. Sometimes the pictures are in black & white, as somehow he figured out how to change the settings!