Category Archives: Activities & Interests

Season Update

On 6/19/18, Alan had his first career 3-hit game!  He went 3-for-3 with 2 runs scored and 1 RBI 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. 🙂

Alan’s Big Night

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.

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!

Fun ‘N’ Stuff

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).

 

Midseason Baseball Update

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!

Piano Recital

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.

2018 Chicago Trip

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!

Opening Week

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 Right-Center (RC) and Pitcher’s helper.  He should see some action at Pitcher’s helper this year because 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 RC and LC 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.

Alan’s Favorite Activities

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.

-Championship races!

-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!

Sun and Baseball

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!

Alan’s Favorite Activities

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)

Fun with Blocks

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!

Chinese Class

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….

Colors:

Body Parts:

Sports! (Alan is demonstrating basketball, or “lan qui”):

And Seasons!

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. 🙂

Toys “R” Us Goodbye

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. 🙂

MBBL Year 2

   

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!

Xavier’s Birthday Party

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!

 

LBJ League Play – Season Finale

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.

LBJ League Play – Season Update

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 nealing 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!

Brady’s Birthday Party

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.

Alan’s Favorite Activities

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

Student of the Week

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!

LBJ League Play – Midseason Update

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.

Tribe Fest 2018

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.

Dance Party

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!

Basketball Update

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!

Alan’s Favorite Activities

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!

Cassady’s Birthday Party

For the second year in a row, Cassady’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 DVD

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!

LBJ Basketball League

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.

‘Guys Only’ Week

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

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

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

Fall Weekends

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

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

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

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

   

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

Fidget Spinners

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

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

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

Cars 3 Speedway

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

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

Wildcat Fitness Center

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

2017 Chicago Trip

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

Friday, August 4th, 2017:

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

Saturday, August 5th, 2017:

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

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

   

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

     

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

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

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

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

   

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

Sunday, August 6th, 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

Fun ‘N’ Stuff Round 2

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

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

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

  

Reading Prize; New Apartment

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

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

Summer Sleepover & Cars 3

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

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

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

End of Season Baseball Update

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

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

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

6/23 – Game rained out.

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

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

Fun ‘N’ Stuff

  

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

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

  

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

  

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

Alan’s First Piano Recital

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

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

McDonald’s

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

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

Mid-Season Baseball Update

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

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

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

5/26 – Game rained out.

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

Summer Baseball

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

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

Final score:  A 16-16 tie.

Sunny in Cleveland

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

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

  

Hitting Drills

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

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

Fielding Grounders

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

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

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

Tribe Fest 2017

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

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

Can’t wait for the return of baseball season!

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

Fall Weekends

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

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

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

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

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Highlights of Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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Movie Day

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

Alan’s Favorite Activities

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New List:

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

-Hitting baseballs and circling a pretend field at the apartment

-Participating in the summer reading program at the library

-Building with Legos at the Lego Store at Beachwood Place

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

-Reading the train book we bought in Chicago

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

-Swimming!

-Celebrating the Cavaliers’ championship!

-Wearing his new PJ Masks green mask

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

Little Sluggers Part II

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Chicago Trip

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

Friday, May 27th, 2016:

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

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

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

Saturday, May 28th, 2016:

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

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

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

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Sunday, May 29th, 2016:

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

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

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

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Monday, May 30th, 2016:

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

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

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

Car Spotting


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

Little Sluggers

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

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

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Alan’s Busy Week

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This week Alan did the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Had a playdate with Joshua from preschool on Sunday.

What a great week!

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Dreams

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. 🙂

Alan’s Favorite Activities

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New List:

-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

-Swimming!

Sundays with Great-Grandparents

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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!!!

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Fun at Grandma’s House

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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!

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Alan’s Favorite Activities

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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)

Growing Up

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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 Favorite Activities

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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 TomorrowlandBlaze 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.  🙂

Alan’s Busy Saturdays

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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!

Octonauts & Gups

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…

Mayfield Rec Soccer

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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!

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Paw Patrol’s Biggest Fan

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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).

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Alan’s Favorite Activities

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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.  🙂

Things Alan Does

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Lately, in addition to enjoying going to preschool, Alan has been enjoying the following pastimes:

  1. Playing baseball in the house.  This includes playing catch and hitting off a tee (I don’t mind).
  2. Making coffee (for me).  I have a Keurig, but Alan prefers the powder/mixing method.
  3. Taking my phone and running with it while shouting, “You can’t catch me!”
  4. 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!