Look who can ride a bike on his own now! So proud of Alan!
6/11/18 Update: After a few more days of practicing, now Alan can ride a bike without any assistance!
Today Alan and I watched the Cavaliers eliminate the Pacers with a hard-earned Game 7 victory at the Q! It was Alan’s first playoff game for any sport.
I made the decision to go to the game late on Friday night and bought tickets off of StubHub. When the Cavaliers’ NBA-record streak of 13 straight close out victories ended in a Game 6 loss that night, I was disappointed the streak ended but also thrilled that Alan and I would have a chance to witness a Game 7 together during one of the greatest eras in Cleveland sports history. I was confident LeBron James wouldn’t lose a Game 7, and the rare 1:00 PM Sunday start time – our designated time for sports – made me feel like it was meant to be.
This morning while driving to the arena, Alan and I listened to his Kidz Bop playlist after I figured out how to play it through the car speakers. It got us ready for the game! After parking and walking across town, we got to the Q about 20 minutes before tip-off. Upon entering the arena, I noticed we walked underneath a mural of the Richfield Coliseum – the venue where the Cavs last played a Game 7 at home on May 17, 1992. In that game — also played on a sunny Sunday afternoon like today — the Cavaliers would beat the Celtics 122-104. Even though I was 9 at the time, I remember it clearly to this day. With Alan being near that age, the symmetry was apparent to me.
After entering the arena, Alan wanted to go straight to our seats. He was pleasantly surprised to see black shirts and white towels that read “Whatever It Takes” waiting for us on our seats. We watched the players warm-up until it was time for tip-off! Alan enjoyed the atmosphere in the arena — I warned him it would be the loudest he’s ever heard the Q because it was an elimination game — and he waved his towel excitedly as the game got underway.
Note: While learning about the concept of an elimination game, Alan was relieved to find out that whoever was eliminated today would be allowed to play again next season.
Alan watched the game intently from our seats for the first quarter-and-a-half. The Cavaliers jumped on the Pacers out of the gate and led for that entire stretch. When Larry Nance Jr. checked into the game, I enjoyed telling Alan that I watched his Larry Nance Sr. play when I was Alan’s age.
About midway through the second quarter, Alan was ready to take a walk. We stopped at the team shop and another souvenir stand, where I let Alan pick up a few items — including a foam Cavaliers sword to go with the foam shield that he got last game. We also stopped for popcorn and water. We took our time eating at a table by a TV, and by the time we got up again, the third quarter was underway. The Pacers briefly took the lead while we were walking, but it was so short-lived that Alan did not notice.
When we got back to our seats, the Cavaliers were on top 75-74, but Alan wanted to see a bigger lead. He kept calling for 3-point shots by the Cavaliers. Kevin Love obliged at the beginning of the 4th quarter, when he made a pair of big time threes and a clutch two with the game still hanging in the balance. Alan and I loved it! Quickly the Cavaliers had a comfortable lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. That allowed us to enjoy the rest of the game relatively worry-free — and with lots of high-fiving.
Note: Alan also got to learn about the concept of fouling out, since two Pacers fouled out in the 4th quarter. He got a kick out of it each time it happened.
When the final seconds ran off the clock, the Cavs were 105-101 winners!
We stuck around for a bit before leaving the Q, just enjoying the moment. We took one photo together inside and one last photo of Alan outside in front of the “Whatever It Takes” countdown on the Q’s windows.
Alan was pretty tired after experiencing the intensity of a Game 7, and he fell asleep on the ride home. When we got home, we took stock of all that we acquired throughout the afternoon. Not bad!
4/30/18 Update: Alan told me that today during journal time his classmate Ryleigh read her entry aloud about watching Game 7 on TV with her family. Alan said he then proudly told everyone that he was actually at the game and that Mrs. Russo was jealous of him. Alan’s own journal entry wasn’t about the game though. His journal entries on Mondays are always a recap of his Saturday nights playing with his cousins!
Congrats to Alan, the student of the month representative from Mrs. Russo’s class for November! Alan, along with the other five first grade winners, was invited to lunch with the principal, as his reward.
I was thrilled to see Alan’s smiling face come through on my Twitter timeline while at work this afternoon. Best post I’ve ever seen on social media. 🙂
Today Alan had his first birthday party with friends! It was a bowling party at Wickliffe Lanes. Among the attendees were his best friends Xavier, Cassidy, Grady, Brady (pictured above), and Noah, as well as eight first grade classmates: Kilian, Jonah, De’Onta, Kiara, Luke, Logan, Ryleigh, and Valentina.
Alan led off the lineup of 7 kids on his lane, while Xavier led 7 more on the other lane. Alan’s bowling highlight of the day was picking up a spare! Around the bowling, the kids had pizza that we picked up from Pizza Hut, chips, and of course cake. Alan’s friends had fun when Alan was blowing out the candles.
At the end of the party, Alan passed out Cars 3 party favor bags, which he and I had fun organizing on Friday night. Alan had also picked out a Cars 3 balloon on our way to the party to enhance the Cars 3 theme at his table. 🙂
It’s been a great week celebrating Alan’s 7th birthday!
As part of one final summer adventure, Alan went on a “Disney Dream” Cruise to the Bahamas with his Mom and Grandma Wa-boo from August 11th – 14th. Alan told me his favorite parts were “Pirate Night” on the cruise, swimming in the ship’s pool — including going down the water slide — and the carriage ride at the Bahamas. He said there was mini-golf, too, and he got another hole-in-one!
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!
Today Alan went to Grady’s house after school. It marked the first time he rode home on a friend’s bus. According to Alan, the two classmates played on Grady’s trampoline and swing set until Mom picked him up. He was definitely proud to have a little taste of independence.
It’s also worth noting that Alan went through the proper approval channels to set this meeting up, including getting permission from his parents and the school office to ride bus #29 instead of bus #3. Earlier this year, when Alan made an executive decision to board Grady’s bus without informing anyone in advance, he was a bit surprised by the reaction of the bus driver and ensuing call to Mom’s work.
He’s come a long way this year. 🙂
As of today, Alan has officially taken up ice skating! He participated in his first of five “learn-to-ice-skate” sessions at Gilmour Academy. He took a bus with his friends from Millridge after school, and he had a great time learning to skate!
Alan lost his first tooth during morning bell work at school today! I was with him when it happened, as I was a classroom volunteer today for centers (I led Thanksgiving-themed bingo). When the tooth fell out, Alan noticed something white on the table and looked at it and said “What’s this?” Somehow I knew it was going to be his tooth before I looked over. Mrs. Feldman gave us a tooth-shaped carrying case (pictured below) for safe keeping. 🙂
It seems like a long shot that Alan would lose his first tooth on the day I was at school with him. However, my first tooth also fell out when my Mom was with me on the first day of kindergarten. What are the odds…
11/17/16 Update: This morning when Alan woke up, he found that the tooth fairy came and left him $1 in an envelope. He was excited. 🙂
During this election season, Alan received an introduction to voting by filling out a “kids ballot” from the public library. Alan voted the following: 🙂
While Alan is too young to understand actual elections, he at least learned about the concepts of voting and ballots through the library and his parents.
When Alan does reach voting age , I would like to share with him the messages contained in Hillary Clinton’s gracious and eloquent concession speech from earlier this week (excerpt below). I’ve never respected and admired a public servant more than her. Although this year was not the time for a leader with her vision, I believe that in Alan’s lifetime he will see great progress towards a country that respects all people, regardless of our differences.
“…Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted…let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear. Making our economy work for everyone, protecting our country and protecting our planet. And breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams….we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone—for people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.”
[Picture taken above at Hillary Clinton rally at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland on 11/6/16]
I think it’s safe to say that no one has more fun on weekends this fall than Alan.
Friday nights involve parties with me. Saturdays are all about Chinese class at the Cleveland Public Library and music lessons at the Musical Settlement. Alan’s still going strong practicing the piano and he’s been observing violin performances too! Saturday nights involve sleepovers at Grandma Debbie’s house (and being silly).
Sundays can involve either playing with Tyler (now that he’s moved to Streetsboro!) or visiting Tata….and they usually end with swimming with Mom at the MHS pool. Just recently Alan floated on his own for the first time and put his face under water!
Whenever we can find time, Alan also gets some swings in with his new metal bat, which he got when turning six. October is also the perfect time to collect buckeyes that have fallen from our favorite neighborhood buckeye tree!
Tonight Alan closed out his 2016 MVP season with his first ever night game! Someone is very happy that 6-year olds are allowed to stay out later. 🙂
Alan found out the best part about being a big kid and going to a night game was the shorter lines for kids activities. Alan barely had to wait to hit, throw, jump, and run! It was a short night at the ballpark, though, as Alan was in a hurry to meet up with Tyler at Grandma Debbie’s for their sleepover (tomorrow is the big family party!).
Before leaving we tossed a ball around for a bit and said our goodbyes to Progressive Field. Sadly, tonight was our last game of the season.
Thanks to Robbie and Jill for supplying our tickets this year! The 2016 season was our favorite at the ballpark yet. Can’t wait for spring 2017!
Today Alan kicked off his kindergarten year at Millridge, and I was there to enjoy it with him! On the first day, as part of the “ease-in schedule,” parents attended an informational session in the cafeteria while the kids played in the gym. Then afterwards, Alan and I took a practice ride together on a school bus around Mayfield.
Alan met his teacher, Mrs. Feldman, and saw his friends Joshua (who offered a big hug), Xavier, Riley, and Gabriel today — and even made a new friend named Noah! Xavier and Noah will be in the same class as Alan this year.
Alan also saw Mrs. Schmid (a preschool helper) and told her all about his summer, including the trip to Disney World!
Onto another great school year at Millridge!
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!
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!
Today Alan played the piano for the first time in front of an audience! Alan’s preschool class was studying the letter “P,” and Mrs. Jones asked Alan if he’d perform for the class and teachers in the music room. Alan — as brave as he is — later told me he was happy, not scared, when he agreed to show his friends his new talent.
Despite not preparing in advance, Alan put together a seemless, near two-minute free-style performance. Mrs. Jones even recorded the show so that I could watch it too! It was a fantastic surprise to get at work today, and I listened to Alan play on a loop all afternoon.
This spontaneous performance comes at a time when Alan is just concluding his first piano class. Since he enjoyed it so much, Alan is moving on to one-on-one piano lessons. I’m so proud of him for developing his musical talents!
Here’s the full video from Mrs. Jones:
Last night Alan made me a very proud dad when he sat down next to me and watched [part of] an OSU game for the first time! It was a momentous night for Alan and I, as it was the first time Alan wanted to watch a sporting event on TV with me.
Alan told me that #1 on OSU — Braxton Miller — was our best player because he was wearing #1. I did not disagree!
#1 Ohio State beat Penn State 38-10 in the first ever “blackout” at the Shoe.
Today Alan surprised me with the following exchange:
Alan: Daddy, why don’t bears wear socks?
Me (confused): Huh?
Alan: Because they have bare feet!
Alan completely caught me off guard by telling me his first ever joke! I asked him where he learned this, and he said he taught himself (his usual response to this question). Too funny.
Year two of preschool is underway for Alan, as he kicked off the new school year today!
After a great year at St. Clare, Alan has moved on to be a part of a special program that he interviewed for last fall. Alan was accepted for the role of peer mentor at Millridge, where he will partner with a special needs classmate to learn and grow together this school year.
Alan did great today, as he’s a cool and collected preschool veteran now. When I asked him if he liked his new school, he said yes, because “it has good toys.” 🙂
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 got the first admissions acceptance letter of his life! I’m happy to announce that this fall he will be attending the Preschool Peer Mentoring Program at Millridge Elementary School! He interviewed at the school in January during the application process. As part of the program, Alan will be paired with a hearing impaired student and serve as his/her learning partner. So proud of him!
Today was a huge milestone in Alan’s young life: The first day of preschool!
He wore his favorite “super shirt” (as he calls it) to the one hour parent & child orientation day. After an hour of playing and meeting new friends, Alan declared that “preschool is fun!” He especially enjoyed meeting the teacher’s dog puppet and proudly wearing his Pre-K sticker. 🙂
The big test will come tomorrow, when Alan and the other kids will have class for an hour while parents wait in another room. Then on Friday the normal preschool schedule gets underway!
In order to get ready for preschool, Alan spent the summer reading 30+ preschool books from the library to learn about the fun aspects of school. And we spent a significant amount of time on potty-training. He’s got the hang of it and he’s ready to take on the preschool world!
9/4/14 Update: Today Alan had another great day at school! He excitedly got ready for school in the morning and was eager to arrive early. Then, to my relief, Alan did not mind spending the hour alone, and the teacher even used Alan’s behavior as an example of how to share toys nicely. When Grandma Debbie picked him up, he told the teacher and her that he loves preschool!
9/5/14 Update: Today Alan successfully finished his first week of preschool! He wanted to go right to school as soon as I woke him up at 6:30am. He had a great time at school and didn’t seem to notice or mind the school day lasted a bit longer. When I picked him up, he continued his tradition of proudly declaring that he loves preschool!
Over the winter Alan picked out his first baseball glove and baseball. This week we bought a tee ball stand and bat. And tonight Alan took his first career swings!
Needless to say, I was very proud. Once the weather warms up, we’ll move outside onto the grass. It’s going to be a fun summer!
Pictured above: Alan’s ferocious swing; Not pictured above: Daddy getting hit by the ball.