Alan’s recent trip to New Orleans Dec. 24-28 featured trolleys, street cars, steamboats, and castles. He visited Jackson Square, drove past the Superdome, and went out on the Mississippi River. And he raved about the 40-story Marriott that he stayed in. Randomly, he even learned how to play Cribbage on the plane ride with some kids his age. He had a blast and wouldn’t have minded staying longer — if he didn’t need to get back to see what Santa brought him!
Alan made it back from another vacation (to Vancouver from June 29-July 7) just in time to make today’s Indians game — already the 30th of Alan’s career.
Alan debuted his new Jose Ramirez #11 shirt today at the game. Ramirez — still our favorite following Alan’s Kids Starting Lineup experience last season — has been having another great season. After Alan wore his number today, Ramirez was then named as the American League’s starting third baseman in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive year.
While at the game today, Alan once again opted to stay inside the Kids Clubhouse to play at the train table. This time we brought an old favorite — Percy — from home to use on the table. Alan made some new friends at the train table, as well as at the giant glove just before entering the MVP line for the postgame run. It was a beautiful day for running the bases!
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!
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!
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!
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!