Father’s Day 2021

Today Alan and I continued our new traditions for Father’s Day during the pandemic era. In the morning we played tennis, like we’ve done every morning this summer. In the evening we played catch with the new hard ball that I’ve been using to pitch to Alan during our summer baseball workouts. We also played cards and built Legos before bed. Alan built a motorcycle and I built a Lego race car!

Alan added another one of his patented, beautiful drawings to the Father’s Day card he gave me, as always. For my gift this year, I got baseball cards! Alan was excited to open them with me and find three Indians cards!

Father’s Day 2020

Today Alan and I started a couple new traditions for Father’s Day.  Rather than go to Fun ‘N’ Stuff or a ballpark, this year Alan and I built Legos and played tennis together.   And we loved it!

Legos made sense because we are/were both Lego building experts in our youth.   Alan built a sleek orange race car and I built a boxier yellow one.

Tennis was appropriate because we’ve played a lot of rounds of tennis together this spring with our extra time during the pandemic.  We’ve become quite a good pair actually.

In addition to the new traditions, we still had to work in baseball in some way of course.  We played catch with a new Indians ball that Alan gave me for Father’s Day!

Easter – Part II

This year Alan’s Easter celebration was highlighted by both new and old traditions.  He missed coloring eggs with Grandma Debbie and hunting for eggs with Tyler, but Daddy was able to fill in.

On Saturday night we figured out how to color eggs together.  Batch 1 (eggs 1 through 5) wasn’t perfect, but by batch 2 (eggs 6 through 11), we were pros.  🙂

Of course the Easter Bunny came on Sunday morning.  He brought Alan a Lego, a Hot Wheels car, and some chocolate eggs!

On Sunday afternoon, we spent a considerable amount of time doing elaborate Easter egg hunts that covered the whole house.  Alan drew maps of the upstairs and downstairs and tracked where eggs were hidden so that we did not lose any.  I hid eggs downstairs and Alan hid them upstairs.  He made 5 copies of his maps so we could repeat the process.

Benny (left) and Binny (right), two bunny brothers named by Alan, were new additions this year.  They helped hide eggs and accepted the delivery of Alan’s Easter basket.  We’re glad to have them!

Easter – Part I

Today the Easter Bunny rolled through Mayfield Heights on the top of a fire truck.  This was one activity that the pandemic could not cancel.  Alan, looking stylish in his new sunglasses, enjoyed seeing the Easter Bunny along with Cassidy and Xavier, who were also outside at the time.   Easter is Alan’s second favorite holiday after Christmas, and he was ready to kick off a fun weekend!

After seeing Xavier during the day, Alan also FaceTimed with Brady for an hour at night.  The Easter Bunny had passed by Brady’s house as well, but they had a lot more to catch up on than just that.

Baseball Playoffs – Game 2

The Marlins notched playoff victory #1 tonight with a hard fought 12-11 win over the Mariners that keeps their season alive.

The Mariners struck first for 4 runs in the top of the 1st, but the Marlins took the lead in the bottom of the 1st and never looked back.  The Marlins’ first 7 batters all reached base and came around to score — including Alan, who hit his first career triple!

Near 90 degree temperatures wore down the Marlins as the game went on, but they were able to maintain the lead throughout.  The Mariners did get the tying run to 3rd base in the top of the 5th, but the Marlins hung on without needing their last at bat.

On the day, Alan went 1-for-2 with a run scored.  He also played left field and had a few balls hit in his direction.

After the game, Alan and De’Onta stayed to watch Xavier’s Brewers and Noah’s Cardinals play in the two late games.  They had their postgame snacks in their usual playground spot.  Alan loves playing the early games so he can socialize at the park all night (or at least until sundown – the unofficial time for ice cream at McDonald’s).

The win keeps the season alive.  Next up will be the Orioles on Wednesday.

Other notes:

-Grandma Debbie and Papa came to see the game.  Alan was glad to see them, as always.

-Alan’s triple came in his first AB with his new bat.  Alan had used the new bat in practice earlier this season, but this was the first time he’d used it in a game.

Baseball Playoffs – Game 1

It’s playoff time, and Alan’s ascent on the diamond this summer led him to being named the Marlins lead-off hitter for this year’s playoff run!

At Saturday’s practice, Alan got the attention of his manager, Coach Mark, by clocking the fastest time of anyone on the team from home to first base (3.42 seconds).  Even so, we were still surprised to learn two hours before tonight’s game, via a text to coaches, that Alan would be featured atop the lineup and playing center field.

Alan responded by going 2-for-3 with a double, run scored, and a career-high 3 RBIs.  Despite Alan’s big game, the Marlins dropped  a closer-than-the-score-appears 31-12 decision to the top ranked Cardinals.  The Marlins led 3-2 after 1 inning, were tied after 2 innings, and were only down 12-8 after 3 innings.  But then the flood gates opened in the 4th and 5th innings for the Cardinals.

After grounding out to 1st base to start the game, Alan settled in during his next plate appearance in the 2nd inning.  He came through with a clutch 2-out, seeing-eye single into left field that plated 2 runs and pulled the Marlins within a run at 6-5.  Coach Mark congratulated Alan from the mound, calling him the fastest player on the team after the big hit.

In the 4th inning, Alan hit yet another RBI double and would later come around to score to help keep the Marlins in the game.

In the field, Alan and the other outfielders were busy tracking down deep hits by the Cardinals.  Alan was positioned in center field in the first place due to use his speed to chase down the balls hit by the Cardinals’ murderers row, including Noah.

The playoff tournament is a double-elimination tournament, so the Marlins remain alive and will play the Mariners tomorrow with the season on the line.

Notes:

-Alan & De’Onta and Noah — the All-Stars from Mrs. Harris’ class — exchanged playful grimaces with each other throughout the game.

-Alan spent the afternoon getting ready for the game at the Highland Heights pool.  It might need to be part of his pregame routine.

-Alan got the news about leading off while at the pool.  He was nervous about hitting first, but had been telling me most of the summer that he was ready to hit near the top of the order.

New Bicycle

Since the start of summer, Alan’s been in the market for a new bicycle.  Tonight we found the perfect 20″ green Schwinn mountain bike at Dick’s Sporting Goods!

Alan loved  the color, the number of available gears (7), and the front and rear lights.  I also liked the adjustable seat and the front and rear brakes.  Once I saw how this one excited Alan, I knew we weren’t going to leave the store without it.

Now Alan’s ready to ride this summer!

Piano Recital

Alan performed “Ecossaise” beautifully today at the Music Settlement’s annual Suzuki Solo and Graduation Recital.  He’s becoming a pro at recitals now!

The performances were followed by the end-of-year picnic and awards presentation.  Alan was once again among those recognized for meeting the 100-day practice challenge.

After the event, Alan cashed in his Music Settlement scholarship with Magna-Tiles and Magtastix!

6/4/19 Update:  Alan performed a duet of “Berceuse” at John Carroll tonight with his Tuesday night Suzuki [method] partner, Pascal.  On Tuesdays this year at the Music Settlement, Alan played with both Pascal and George until George moved out of state midway through the year.

Baker Mayfield Football ProCamp

This weekend Baker Mayfield held his first ever football camp at Mayfield High School.  Alan did not participate in the camp, but we stopped by the football field to watch the camp for a little while, since it was in our backyard.  Baker addressed the participants and the crowd at one point.  Later, after the local media finished interviewing Baker, I had a chance to speak to Mary Kay Cabot and Tony Grossi.  I wished them well covering a soon-to-be winning team again!

The atmosphere at the event definitely felt like that of a Browns tailgate.  Alan left with two pretty cool Baker shirts and a pack of football cards that we bought at the souvenir stand.  We were both glad that we stopped by.

2019 St. Clare Festival

The summer carnival season kicked-off with Alan meeting up with Brady, Xavier, and Cassidy at the St. Clare Festival tonight.  The boys enjoyed some old favorites, including the flying bananas,  merry-go-round, and spinning barrel of monkeys.  But Alan could not get enough of the new boats!  He spent a good chunk of the 4 hours we spent at the festival on the boats – both riding solo and jointly with Brady and Xavier.  He loved every minute of it.

Last Day of 2nd Grade

Today Alan wrapped up his 2nd grade year at Millridge.  And I took off work to share the day with him.

The morning started with the end of year photo at the bus stop.  But breaking from tradition, Alan was not still chewing his breakfast when I took his photo. 😉

From 11am -12, I joined Alan for the end of year picnic on the playground.  Fortunately the kids dodged the rain long enough to have lunch outside.  Just like last year, Alan, De’Onta and I had hot dogs and chips at Alan’s favorite playground spot – the “speed rover.”  Noah and Brady came by as well, and eventually Alan chased Brady for fun.

De’Onta took a photo of Alan and I after lunch that turned out great, and I got a nice one of Alan.

He passed on ice cream and had more chips instead, since it was a chilly morning.

The Highland Heights Fire Department did the grilling for the kids lunch once again this year.  They also brought a fire truck and ambulance for the kids to check out.  Alan and Brady made sure to take advantage.

After the picnic, I went back home while Alan’s class watched DuckTales: Treasure of the Lost Lamp to wrap up the school day.  Then I met him at the bus stop so we could go to McDonald’s together for a rare mid-day hangout on a weekday.  Alan told me about the certificate he got from Mrs. Harris and the memory book that he made in school and had signed by his classmates.  But the fun still didn’t end there — it continued at the Highland Heights Park, where Alan was happy to run into his friend Stephen from ice skating!

By this time of day, the sun came out and the temperature warmed up.  These two would’ve played together all day, but Alan had to settle for a good 90 minutes. 🙂

ABC – Countdown Week 5

Here’s the recap from this past week:

Monday was “Year End Cleanup Day.”  Alan brought in an extra bag to take home items from his desk — including his Dog Man books that he shared with his friends throughout the year.

Tuesday was “Zip Up & Zoom Out of School Day.”  Alan wrapped up another great year at Millridge, but not before getting a certificate, sunglasses, and a note from Mrs. Harris.  The class heads into summer in style!

Indians Game No. 2 of 2019

Today Tyler joined us at the ballpark for the first time this year and second time ever.  It was a rainy day downtown, but a little rain wasn’t going to stop these two from having fun together.

We arrived at the ballpark early and walked Tyler down for a field level view.  We also introduced him to Jim Thome.

Up in the Kids Clubhouse, the boys played on the slide and took a joint photo impersonating big leaguers.  Tyler also tried out the “Hot Corner” game (Alan can be heard in the background providing assistance).  Tyler played this game repeatedly until he reached the “Pro” level!

Out on the Family Deck, the kids tried to top their personal bests at each event.  Both set personal records for highest pitch speed (Alan – 28 MPH, Tyler – 24 MPH).  Alan set a new record in the sprint, recording a run of 5.68 seconds, and Tyler ran a great race too.  Tyler also drove in Alan at Little League Park!

When it came time for souvenirs, Alan opted for an Indians Lego set and Tyler went with a Father’s Day edition Indians hat.  Though the Indians didn’t win the game today, they did give Alan and Tyler something to cheer about with three runs in the 8th and 9th, which they watched from back inside the Kids Clubhouse.  After the game, we got ice cream to cap off a busy 24 hours for the boys.

Last night they went to the Chagrin Falls Blossom Time Festival together and had a sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s.  The carnival excitement, highlighted by riding the big Ferris Wheel, helped them fall asleep by 11 last night.  That gave them just enough energy for a full 5-hour day at the ballpark.

ABC Countdown – Week 4

Here’s the recap from this past week:

Monday was “Quiet and Read-In Day.”  Alan chose to read one of his Dog Man books during the read-in: Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild.

Tuesday was “Show and Tell Day.”  Alan brought in his new “pin art” toy that he got at Target last weekend.

Wednesday was “Unhealthy Snack Day.”  Alan went with Doritos (Cool Ranch) of course!  He walked to school with Veronica as part of the annual Mother Figure Walk to begin the day, and he teased her about being allowed to eat an unhealthy snack this time.

Thursday was “Vegetable Day.”  Carrots were Alan’s selection this time.  He said he ate every one that I packed for him.

Friday was “Wow!  X-tra Fun Day.”  The first through fifth grades had their Field Day!  Alan competed with Blue House / Team Wajibu (pictured above).  The weather was absolutely perfect for the event!

Opening Night

The Highland Heights Mighty Mites baseball season started off with bang tonight!

In the field, Alan — wearing #3 for this 3rd year as a pro — played two innings in right field and two innings in center field.

At the plate, Alan provided a spark for the Marlins, going 2-for-2 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored.  In his second at-bat, he recorded the first double of his career on an RBI hit down the left field line! (pictured below).  The clutch performance earned Alan the game ball!

Alan was presented with the game ball during a meeting on the bench.  He later said he was not expecting to be the first recipient, but he’ll gladly take the honor.  The Cardinals may have defeated the Marlins, but it was definitely an Opening Night to remember.  We were both incredibly proud of Alan’s performance!

Note:  This year I’m the bench coach.  I’ll be keeping score for the Marlins at-bats in a scorebook, even though the games are considered exhibitions until the playoffs start in July.

5/25/19 update: Alan showed off the game ball to Tata, Papa, Robbie, Jill, Debbie, Papa, Bobby, Tyler, and Carleigh today as the ball came along with us on our Saturday stops.

ABC Countdown – Week 3

Here’s the recap from this past week:

Monday was “Interesting Fact Day.”  Alan told the class that China has the most people of any country in the world (1.3 billion).  We had researched facts about China the night before and Alan liked this fact the best.

Tuesday was “Joke Day & Kick off your Shoes Day.”  Alan came prepared with the following joke, which he picked from a book of jokes we have at home (purchased last fall when I put notes with jokes on them in Alan’s lunch bag).  He also didn’t have to wear shoes in the classroom.

Q:  Where do elephants pack their vacation clothes?

A:  In their trunks.

Wednesday was “Letter and Lollipop Day.”  Alan enjoyed a cotton-candy-and-bubble-gum-flavored lollipop while writing a letter to a first grader about what to expect in second grade (pictured above).  Before school on Wednesday, Alan also got to enjoy “Muffins with Mom.”

Thursday was “Mismatch and Necktie or Necklace Day.”  The class wore mismatched clothes and neckwear.  Alan opted to wear mismatched socks his Indians necklace!

Friday was “Outside of the Classroom and Popsicle Day.”  Alan’s class actually had popsicles on Thursday because Mrs. Harris was out on Friday.  The class did still go ‘outside the classroom’ on Friday to watch the Annual Millridge Talent Show.  Alan shared that he’d like to enter the competition next year, which is for third, fourth, and fifth grade students.

Alan’s Favorite Activities

Second grade — Part V — edition of the Top 10:

-Playing with Lulu & Rosie, of course.

-Drawing with chalk on the driveway after school with Cassady, Xavier, and TJ (who also lives on Iroquois).

-Bringing the green turtle stuffed animal into school whenever Blue House wins the weekly competition!  Alan says that Noah and Kennedy especially love seeing it and playing with it.

-“Free swim” at Saturday swimming lessons this spring, which usually involves breaking out the fins.

-Lexia sessions.  Alan officially finished all the levels on 5/6/19!  Alan, Gabriella, Madeleine, Alyson, and TJ were the first to get certificates of completion.

-Playing at the Highland Heights Park.  Alan convinced me to climb up to the slide on the 3rd level and slide down with him.  He loves seeing me in agony on the way down. 😉

-Summer baseball.  When we were practicing hitting at our favorite field (Dragga Field at the Mayfield Community Park), Alan told me he’s glad that outdoor sports season is back!

-Attempting to solve a Rubik’s cube.  After we bought one, Alan now knows it’s harder than it looks.

-Ice cream parties.  We bought an ice cream scooper, vanilla ice cream, and cones and we’re ready for ice cream and Indians games this summer.

-Marble run!

ABC Countdown – Week 2

Here’s the recap from this past week:

Monday was “Colorful Creative Day.”  Alan wore one of his bright red Lightning McQueen shirts.  On what was a beautiful day, the class also went outside and took shots on the basketball court as part of a fractions review game (pictured above).

Tuesday was “Dance and Exercise Day.”  The class got some exercise by dancing along to “Go Noodle” songs in the classroom after taking the fractions test.  We found out later in the week that Alan got 100%!

Wednesday was “Fun Free Time Day.”  When we were at the book fair after school, Alan told me the class was given extra long recess earlier that afternoon.

Thursday was “Game Day.”  Alan brought in a deck of playing cards and taught Brady how to play his favorite card game.  Alan only knows the Chinese name, but I know it as “Rich Man, Poor Man.”

Friday was “Hat Day.”  Alan brought in his new favorite Monsters hat that he got last weekend at the Monsters game.  He wore it for the “Miles for Millridge” fundraiser (and class photo – shown below), which involved the kids walking laps around Millridge after gaining sponsorship the past few weeks.  The school is raising money for new robotics technology.

Spring Book Fair

Alan and I had some great weather tonight at the spring book fair.  Alan picked out two Pete the Cat books, showed me the newest changes in his classroom, and played on the playground.  There he found Logan and Brady and watched a scout group set off bottle rockets!  He also showed me his favorite playground equipment, including the new pole that he likes to slide down.

   

Baseball Practice

Alan’s summer baseball season is now underway!

Alan met his teammates on April 22nd and was thrilled to discover De’Onta is on his team!  Then tonight the boys had their first organized practice.  After a seemingly endless string of rained-out practices, it was great to see the sun again and hear the ping of Alan’s bat!

This year Alan is playing in the Highland Heights Mighty Mite League after transferring over from the Mayfield League.  Xavier made the switch with Alan, and they’ll reunite with other Millridge kids in the league, including Grady, Noah, De’Onta, and others.

Alan’s team this year will be the Marlins.  Play ball!

First Monsters Game

One of our busiest weekends on record concluded with Alan and I taking in Monsters playoff hockey today at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse!

In April, Alan told me he really wanted to go to a hockey game (his first ever) this year.  Fortunately the Monsters qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs on the last day of the regular season, advanced past the Syracuse Crunch, and got to host Game 3 of the North Division Finals vs. the Toronto Marlies on a Sunday afternoon.  That gave us a perfect opportunity to attend today.

Alan enjoyed the pregame theatrics and happily wore the Monsters hat that he picked out at the team shop (along with a few souvenir pucks).  Side note:  He decided he’s going to wear this fantastic hat to Friday’s hat day at Millridge as part of the ABC Countdown after Grandma Debbie suggested it.

Although the Monsters lost 2-0, Alan had a great time.  We had seats 3 rows from the ice and Alan enjoyed when the players banged into the glass in front of us.  We also sat near the penalty box, so Alan learned about penalties and penalty kills today.

Other highlights for Alan included watching the Zamboni and “Ice Patrol” team work on the ice.  In the concourse, Alan met Monsters Center Zac Dalpe (kind of) and also drew another great sign that he used to cheer on the Monsters!

Captains Game No. 1 of 2019

A night after our first Indians game of the season, Alan and I took in our first Captains game of the season at Classic Park!  Alan received a free ticket to the game through the Captains Reading Program.  Alan also got to participate in a pregame parade around the warning track as a reward.

During the parade, Alan ran into Paige and Noah’s cousin Sean from Millridge.  He also happened to see his baseball coach and teammate Jake in the ballpark.

We had front row seats in Right Field for the game, but we didn’t stay long, as Alan wanted to have his regular Saturday night sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s house.  It was also pretty cold and rainy.  But Alan did have time to eat ballpark food – fries, popcorn, and even vanilla ice cream.  He also got me a hot dog with his food voucher and three Captains baseballs at the team shop with a merchandise voucher.

Before leaving, Alan took a picture of Skipper, who he had high-fived with earlier during the parade.  The Captains went on to beat Kane County 9-3.

Tribe Game No. 1 of 2019

To cap an eventful day, tonight Alan and I made our return to Progressive Field for the first time in 2019!  We stayed until the end and was treated to his very first walk-off victory when pinch hitter Tyler Naquin singled home Leonys Martin with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat the Mariners 2-1!

Alan started the night by picking up his Tribe Town MVP package for the season, which consisted of a membership badge and lanyard and a duffle bag, t-shirt, socks, and wall banner.  We spent some time in the Kids Clubhouse, where Alan climbed the baseballs and got his customary orange popsicle.

Alan realized that at his age the Kids Clubhouse is beginning to lose its appeal, so we spent a larger proportion of our time outside on the Family Deck.  After growing bigger and faster over the winter, Alan recorded his first set of sub-6 second times, with the fastest coming in at 5.82!

Alan also took advantage of short lines by getting a lot of hitting practice in at Little League Park, where he hit for the cycle and recorded the 2nd and 3rd home runs of his career.  His first home run of the night was hit just fair down the left field line.  At first it was ruled foul, but upon subsequent video review and slow motion analysis, I reversed the call on the field.  His second home run of the night was a no-doubt-about-it blast.  He rounded the bases with a big smile after that one.

Alan and I watched the 9th inning rally from the seats outside the Kids Clubhouse.  Naquin’s famous walk-off inside-the-park home run from 2016 was shown on the jumbotron right before Naquin’s game-winning hit tonight.  It was an exciting finish on a spooky, foggy night at the ballpark.

On our way out of the ballpark, Alan wanted to get on TV.  The ballpark staff had already ushered fans away from the STO set, but we snuck over anyway while STO was airing Francona’s post game comments.  I was able to hit record on my DVR through my phone while Francona spoke.  When STO went back live, I told Alan to look up at the monitor to see himself on TV. 🙂

If Francona, who recorded his 562nd win as Indians manager to break a 5th place tie with Eric Wedge, had spoken 10 seconds longer, we might not have been able to dodge the ballpark staff long enough.  But somehow I don’t think this will be the last time Alan’s tries to get on TV…

 

ABC Countdown – Week 1

“ABC Countdown” is back to wind down the school year.  Each day Mrs. Harris’ class will have a special activity that coincides with a letter (or two) of the alphabet.

Here’s the recap from this past week:

Thursday was “Appetite Day.”  The class brought their appetites and shared a pizza lunch together.  The pizza was from Zeppe’s and Alan liked it.

Friday was “Bus Ride Day.”  The class hopped on a bus and went to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for the 2nd grade field trip!  But not before having donuts in honor of Miss Koniar’s last day (Alan’s student teacher).

Zoo Field Trip

Today I joined Alan on the 2nd grade field trip to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!  We successfully dodged rain drops long enough to have a great afternoon.

Alan’s group included his good friends Brady and De’Onta.  Together the boys chose to see elephants, tigers, bears, zebras, fish, and giraffes — including a baby giraffe just born about a week ago.  But I think they enjoyed the tram ride the most. 🙂

Career Week TY Note

Alan’s class gave me a thank you card that I really enjoyed!  Alan even drew a hockey player for me, since we’ve been talking about the Blue Jackets and Monsters a lot during their great playoff runs this spring.  It’s been hockey mania for us for the first time. 🙂

Career Week

This week Alan had both Dad and Mom speak to his class during career week.  I spoke mostly about diamonds and, according to Alan, got the most questions out of all 6 speakers.  I figured focusing on diamonds was the best way to go!

Easter!

Celebrating Easter at Grandma Debbie’s — one of the highlights of Alan’s entire year — has had Alan smiling for the past two weekends.  He just couldn’t wait to color eggs, so he got a head start and colored his traditional “emoji” eggs a week in advance. They turned out great!  🙂

With the coloring done last weekend, Alan spent this weekend focused on Easter egg hunts!  Saturday night he did four hunts with Grandma Debbie, Tyler, and Carleigh — as each took a turn as the ‘egg hider’ in Grandma Debbie’s house.  When Grandma Debbie hid the eggs, they were filled with money and Hershey Kisses.  One lucky winner (Tyler this year) walked away with a $5 bill.

Then today Alan and I took turns hiding and finding eggs at home, as Alan just couldn’t get enough of it.  Alan also found an Easter basket waiting for him in his fort!  It was filled with a neon Indians baseball, a blue foam Indians stress ball, a Lego snowmobile, M&M’s, Oreos, and a golden egg with a Lego train and dollar bills inside.  Alan hinted to me that he thought I was responsible for the basket, not an Easter bunny.  Perhaps it was the baseballs that gave it away…

Alan’s Kindle Fire

After asking for an electronic device of his own to play cribbage and watch Super Mario videos on Youtube, Alan now has his very own Kindle Fire.  And since he got his Kindle, his violin teacher introduced him to a new app called “Score Creator” — which allows Alan to compose his own songs by combining music notes in an order of his liking.  Tonight he let Carleigh and Tyler have a try at making music…and plenty of giggles ensued!

Spring Fling Carnival

Tonight Alan attended the Millridge Spring Fling Carnival for the first time.  The event was held at Mayfield Middle School, which has a bigger gym than Millridge and, therefore, more space for the event.  Alan had a blast playing games and collecting points, which he redeemed for a “Nerf Nitro Sparksmash” toy (pictured by Alan’s knee above) at the end of the night.

He crossed paths with many friends, including De’Onta, Noah, Collin, Luca, and Ella.  He also entered raffle tickets for a few prizes — one of which included a package for Fun ‘N’ Stuff!  On the way out, Alan was happy to find his entry into the Carnival’s coloring contest hanging near the entrance.  He just had to take a picture with it!

Cavaliers Game No. 2 of 2018-19

Today Alan and I headed to the Q to watch the Cavaliers take on the Spurs!  The Cavaliers did not win, but the game was secondary to the honoring of Channing Frye, as he prepares to retire after Tuesday’s season finale.

Before the game started, Alan made his customary sign to support the Cavaliers.  I love how he always draws a sword swiping the opposing team’s logo, just like the graphics he’s seen on the jumobtron.

Then Alan and I watched Altman, Love, and Jefferson honor Frye from our seats during a pregame ceremony.  Alan noticed right away that players on the court were all wearing “Channing 9” on their backs, as he was surprised to see that Sexton wasn’t wearing his customary #2.

After watching most of the game from our seats with popcorn in hand, Alan and I went to pick up some souvenirs (Alan opted for keychains and buttons).  We also snapped a photo with the new era team leaders, including Alan’s old favorite (Love) and new favorite (Sexton)!

That’s a wrap for basketball season.  The next game we attend will be next door at Progressive Field!

Straight “A” All-Stars

Millridge was back in the spotlight again today, this time thanks to the Cavaliers!  The Cavaliers declared Millridge the ‘Straight “A” All-Stars’ winning school for the second grading period.  Ahmaad, Sir CC, Moondog, and the Scream Team came to Millridge to present a check for $1,000 and lead the kids in a dance off!

This is the second time Alan’s school found itself all over social media this year, with the first being when Fox 8 declared it as a “Cool School.”

Cancun and Mexico City

Alan is back home after spending his spring break in Cancun (Mar. 25-27) and Mexico City (Mar. 27-30) with his Mom and her parents.  Alan’s favorite story from the trip was riding a speed boat and seeing a crocodile!  He also told me about the pink lake and the pyramids he saw.

Alan was glad to come back on a Saturday afternoon so he could still have a sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s and see Lulu and Rosie.  And he was happy to help Tyler draw musical instruments (a piano, violin, drums, and electric guitar) for Tyler’s homework assignment.

Mayfield Science Showcase

Tonight Alan participated in the 9th Annual K-12 Districtwide Science Showcase at Mayfield High School!  He set up his project in the 2nd grade classroom next to De’Onta and near Xavier.  He got to demonstrate his experiment for a large group of onlookers that happened to include the district’s superintendent.

His favorite part of the night, though, was watching the high schoolers see if they could paddle across the pool in self-made boats during the Cardboard Boat Regatta.  Some boats sank, but others — including the Batman boat — did not!

Alan’s Favorite Activities

Second grade — Part IV — edition of the Top 10:

-Puzzles with Tata and Jill!  The one pictured was 300 pieces.

-Playing with a parachuting lion & tiger picked up at United Skates during De’Onta’s birthday party and a parachute picked up at the Cavs game back in November.  Tyler and Carleigh have enjoyed them too!

-Throwing [soft] balls down the long hallway at home.

-Skiing at Alpine on Sunday afternoons, even though lessons are over.  Alan’s lessons came with a pass for the whole season, and he often still sees his favorite instructor Jen!

-Making a fort at home.

-Making a fort at Grandma Debbie’s.

-Playing Cribbage — which Alan first learned on the plane to New Orleans in December, then perfected with help from Jill.  He plays on my phone regularly now and taught me how to play.  Below are the results of his first and largest wins.

-Friday nights and Sunday afternoons at the Wildcat Fitness Center.

-Drawing cars and other forms of transportation during indoor recess.  And at home too — especially when making birthday cards for family and friends!

-Learning on the Chromebook at school!

Spring Sports

As of last Saturday, swimming lessons at Hawken are back on for the spring, and they run through May.  Alan is still skiing on Sundays, too, for as long as Alpine remains open for the season.

And up next in the sports calendar:  Baseball in April!

Bingo Night

Alan and I attended the PTG’s annual Bingo Night for the first time tonight.  It was the makeup night from January 25th, which ended up being a snow day.  We bought two bingo cards, and Alan won on the first game!  He picked out a “stackable spinner” for his prize, which he loves.  Each child could only collect a prize once, so Alan had to play for fun for the rest of the night.  Alan sat with Xavier, De’Onta, and Grady and had a great time.

2nd Grade Science Project

Alan presented his science experiment, “Baggie and Pencil Magic,” to his class today.  He demonstrated sticking a pencil through a Ziploc bag full of water, while explaining how polymers formed a seal around the hole and prevented the water from spilling out.  Alan — with Noah as his volunteer bag-holder — did great and earned a 15 out of 16 for his grade!  Alan’s practice last night (pictured above) helped, but so did all the work he put in with Grandma Debbie over the past few weekends.  🙂

Alan will also be presenting his experiment at the District Science Showcase at Mayfield High School on March 14th!

2nd Annual One School, One Book Night

After a fun filled weekend with cousins — and an impromptu trip to Niagara Falls — Alan and I finished reading The Enormous Egg yesterday.  And we were just in time for the school party tonight.

After gladly skipping the reptile show in the gym, Alan and I went to the classrooms to learn about dinosaurs.  Then we made our way to the cafeteria for fun and games.  We did ring toss together first, then after Xavier arrived, the boys played bean bag toss.  Alan saw a few other second grade friends, and they hung out together in the cafeteria the rest of the night.

Alan went home with a blue dinosaur — and of course an egg!  Alan picked a green egg, which also had a mini dinosaur inside.

Dominic’s Birthday Party

The cousins met up today to celebrate Dominic’s birthday at Sky Zone in Boston Heights.  Alan had to be a little late due to piano and violin lessons, but Dominic & Co. waited for Alan to arrive before having cake (which made Alan very happy).

Alan still ended up getting in a good two hours of jumping before the evening was over, even with the late arrival.  He showed off a new “360 move” and had fun in the pit!

Birthday Slap Bracelet

Alan gave me a birthday slap bracelet to wear today and I rocked it like it was 1991!  Alan actually got it for his 8th birthday at school from Mrs. Harris and wore it on his birthday.  So naturally, I wore it on mine (and I’ll be wearing it to work tomorrow).

Alan also gave me a card that featured a drawing of a gray plane that was flying a scarlet banner that said “Dad.”  And he gave me a bag of Hershey kisses that he snuck into my car as a surprise early present last night.

Today we spent the morning skiing at Alpine (just for fun; no lessons) and the afternoon playing at Zero Gravity for Joshua’s party — where I had plenty of birthday cake.  Second year in a row I got cake on my birthday by taking Alan to a party!

Train Art

Alan has made the most of indoor recess during the winter months by practicing his drawing skills.  He loves drawing cars, trucks, planes, and trains and he teaches Brady how to make them too.  This week, Alan drew a continuous train on several sheets of paper.  Mrs. Harris took note of it and posted it online.  Alan said I could have it for my birthday present. 🙂

Valentine’s Day Party

A last minute cancellation by a room parent allowed Alan and I to be together for the second straight Valentine’s Day party at Millridge.  The kids passed out valentines, ate cupcakes, and made bead art!  Alan’s bead art was a cactus, and he assembled it without help.

Alan gave out spaceship valentines to his friends, and his favorite valentine received contained a paper football that he and Noah got very excited about!  Alan’s valentines bag of course had a car drawn on it.  🙂

   

Skiing Lessons – Week 5

The pendulum swung back to unseasonably warm temperatures today at Alpine.  Fortunately lessons went on as planned.  Alan maneuvered around cones and then was rewarded with a ride on the longer ski lift to an even bigger hill with Allister.  The top of the hill was out of sight so I could only record the end of his lengthy run.  Alan advanced another level and will be skiing with the light blue group next week!

Skiing Lessons – Week 3

Alan was back on the slopes today despite very cold temperatures.  Alan had to brave the elements for the first time today, and he wore thicker gloves and a polar scarf to cover his mouth and chin.  But it was worth it as he got to ride high above the ground on the ski lift over and over again.  He still made in the full two hours and still braved the elements to demonstrate his progress after practice.

Tribe Fest 2019

In what’s quickly becoming a favorite winter tradition, Alan attended Tribe Fest today at the Cleveland Convention Center.

The new events this year seemed to be designed just for Alan – particularly the indoor train ride.  We must have gone for a ride five or six different times.  Each time Alan had us ride in the caboose, and he smiled the whole time. 🙂

The other new event was a performance training course.  Alan ran a race against me, then held his own in a race against some bigger kids.  He never misses a chance to show off his speed.

Alan practiced his throwing and batting too.  He continued his tradition of throwing a perfect strike at Tribe Fest not once but twice.

In the game area, Alan had to get in some rounds of darts, air hockey and foosball.  Alan would’ve stayed all day if he could!

Skiing Lessons – Week 1

Alan made his debut on the slopes today and he did great!  During the first of six Sunday afternoon sessions at Alpine Valley Ski Resort in Chesterland, Alan learned how to balance, move, and stop on skis.  He appeared to have an edge over the other first time skiers in his group in ability to stay upright, perhaps because of the balancing skills he’s developed from ice skating.

After the 2-hour lesson on an unseasonably warm day, Alan took the “magic carpet” to the top of the hill to show his parents that he could ski on his own.  He was so brave!

New Years Day & The Rose Bowl

The new year kicked off in style today with Ohio State playing in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl.  Alan and I had roses on the mind all day long.

After returning from Grandma Debbie’s, we watched some of College Gameday and the Tournament of Roses Parade.  On Gameday, Alan was happy to catch the highlight of Parris Campbell’s 78-yard TD dash during the Michigan game during an “Images of the Year” montage.  That was Alan’s favorite play this year, as he loved how Campbell ran away from defenders like he was shot out of a cannon.

During the parade, Alan enjoyed seeing the Ohio State Marching Band perform on a big stage once again (Side Note: I can’t imagine any other band having played both the Thanksgiving and New Year’s parades in the same season).

While we were watching the parade, Robbie and Jill stopped by to see Alan’s Christmas train in action.  Alan got it running pretty well after making some engineering adjustments to the train tracks.  Alan also showed off Super Mack and his new fort.

Afterwards, Alan changed into his Braxton Miller-era OSU #5 jersey and got ready to watch the first half of the game with Robbie, Jill, and David at Tata and Papa’s apartment.  Alan packed up an OSU foam finger, an OSU football, and a rose to take with us.  He also packed his new Buckeye plane from Christmas and a Buckeye truck for the city he sets up on the coffee table.

During the game, Alan got to see a TD catch by Parris Campbell, who set OSU’s single season reception record and went over 1,000 yards on the season during the first half.  Alan also saw some nice runs by OSU’s current #5, Mike Weber, who played his best game of the season at the Rose Bowl.

While driving back home, Alan of course followed along on ESPN Gamecast, as Dwayne Haskins threw his 50th TD pass of the season, good for 6th most all-time in the NCAA record books.

To Alan’s delight, Ohio State coasted to victory in the second half.  And as the sun set on the Rose Bowl, it turned into a retirement party for Urban Meyer.

Here’s to Urban and 86 wins over the past 7 years!

Cassidy & Xavier’s Birthday Party

Alan returned to Wickliffe Lanes today for a joint birthday party for Cassidy and Xavier.  The party date was picked to be in between Cassidy’s birthday (November) and Xavier’s (February).  Alan picked up one spare on the day and had a great time seeing his friends, who he’s missed while on winter break.  That includes Brady, who Alan set a play date with on January 2nd.

The kids took one serious and one funny photo before eating cake and the famous “giant donut” that is always a part of Xavier’s party.  The Browns’ final game of the season was on TV during the party, and Alan celebrated when he saw the Browns score their first TD of the game.  Alan will miss football this winter for sure.

Winter Workshop Gifts

   

Alan wasn’t the only one who found gifts in his stocking tonight.  I also had a couple Winter Workshop gifts from Alan waiting for me!  This year he made me an ornament and a wooden snowman.  I absolutely love both!

Grandma Debbie’s gift from Alan, which she received last week at the family party, was a set of four charms that Alan designed himself.  Grandma Debbie put them to good use on two of her purses.

New Orleans Trip

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!

Christmas 2018

Alan’s Christmas resumed in the early hours of Saturday morning after returning home from New Orleans.  Alan’s plane landed just before midnight and he made it back to Mayfield at about 12:30am.  After sleeping on the plane, though, Alan was wide awake and ready to see what Santa left for him — a Cars 3 Super Mack Truck!!  Super Mack, which transforms into a motorized race track, was exactly what Alan told Elfie he wanted, keeping Elfie’s stellar track record as a messenger alive.

Alan also received gifts from me in his stocking, including the 6th book in the Dog Man series: Brawl of the Wild, an Ohio State book for kids called Buckeyes A to Z, a Hot Wheels monster truck ornament, a gingerbread man ornament, a pack of Topps baseball cards (Alan was excited to get a Cody Allen card!), a Buckeyes mini jet, a Cavaliers car, and three “C” baseballs (including a green one that Alan placed in the living room next to his favorite baseballs from 2018).  Alan stayed up until about 2:30am reading his new book and then telling me about his New Orleans trip (more on that in a separate post) before finally calling it a night. 🙂

Setting up for Santa

With Alan set to travel during Christmas this year (December 24-28), we got the apartment ready for Santa tonight before he left.  It was important for Alan to get the new train set up and running so that Santa (and Elfie on his way out) could see it in action.  Alan also made a card for Santa, which he set up next to the hot chocolate for Santa and carrots for the reindeer!

Family Party

The Christmas fun kicked off for Alan last night when he had a sleepover with Tyler and Carleigh at Grandma Debbie’s, and it continued today with the family party!

Alan was excited to share last weekend’s new toy — the Hot Wheels launcher — and open up plenty of new toys as well.  His favorite gifts were the Nerf gun from Grandma Debbie (he can never have enough Nerf toys!) and the electric train from Robbie and Jill (which came in a large, heavy box).

   

The party was held at the same time the Browns were closing their 5-2-1 home slate in 2018 with an exciting win over the Bengals.  The photo of Alan with his arm raised above actually captured his reaction to the Brown’s 2nd touchdown of the game!

As usual, the cousins had a great time playing together.  When it came time to leave, they wanted to take pictures together.  Carleigh had already put her hat on and preferred to keep it on for the photos. 🙂

Note: This year the party was held a little early because Alan is traveling to New Orleans Dec. 24th-28th.  Alan was very happy that he didn’t have to miss out on the fun.

Alan’s Favorite Activities

Second grade – Part III – edition of the Top 10:

-Reading Dog Man books!  After Alan was so excited to buy one of the books at the winter book fair, we ordered the other four books in the series.  They arrived tonight and Alan couldn’t wait to start reading them!  Some are being kept in his reading box at school, and others are being kept at home.

-Decorating the apartment for Christmas.

-Setting NFL match-ups with mini-helmets.  Similar to what Alan did with baseball bats, he’s now pairing up football helmets to reflect weekly match-ups.  He’s learned all the teams this year.

-Finding Elfie every morning.

-Drawing pictures of race cars.  Alan also recently bought “emoji” markers that he took to school to use with Brady to label race cars.  He loves them.  Both the Dog Man books and the new markers are a hit with his classmates!

-Browns games.  Alan has enjoyed following the Browns in addition to Ohio State this season.  The Browns played this past Saturday night against the Broncos in Denver for a special Saturday night game.  Alan followed on Gamecast as we drove from Luke’s house to Grandma Debbie’s.  After the game ended on a Jabrill Peppers 4th-and-10 sack, Alan called me to celebrate.  I loved getting that call from him!

-“Lexia” sessions.  Alan is up to Level 14 now.

-Swimming at the Wildcat Fitness Center.  I’ve been meeting Alan at the pool more frequently lately.

-Christmas crafts!

-Science experiments at school.  Gravity and motion have been two recent subjects.

Uncle Luke

Tonight Alan was thrilled to add another chapter to what he calls his “annual tradition” of visiting Luke and Amie.  He loves going there around the holidays, especially because he always receives awesome gifts there.

Alan brought his Lego 3-in-1 motorcycle — the highlight from last year — to play on the British gas station toy that he’s loved ever since his first visit.  This year’s favorite gift was a Hot Wheels launcher.  Alan played with it for two hours, laughing with joy the whole time.

Afterwards, he brought the car launcher to Grandma Debbie’s house for his Saturday night sleepover so he could share it with Tyler and Carleigh there.

Craft Making

On two separate Saturdays this month, Alan has been invited to work on crafts at the apartment main office.  First he made a snowman out of two plastic pumpkins (check out the batman hat!) on December 1st.  Then today he mixed together paint to decorate an ornament.

The snowman has been sitting outside our door all month, under the sign that Alan picked out to decorate the front door, while the ornament is hanging on our tree.  We look forward to holiday arts & crafts like these all year long!

Elfie Time

Elfie’s back, and Alan is on his best behavior!  Elfie has been showing up in some new spots this year.  Once he blended in with Alan’s winter workshop gifts from years past.  Another time he showed up next to the bathroom sink, ready to take a swim!  Alan may have whispered the idea to him after hearing some stories about Noah’s elf at school.  🙂

This year we bought a special envelope for Elfie to use to transport Alan’s letter to Santa back to the North Pole.  In Alan’s letter, he asked for a Cars 3 Mack truck and race track!

Winter Book Fair

Alan and I braved some bad weather this evening to stop by Millridge for the winter book fair.  The snow wasn’t going to keep Alan from one of his favorite after school events.  Alan was very excited to buy the book Dog Man Unleashed, as well as Let’s Go, Rescue Trucks!  I was happy to learn that Alan loves the Dog Man series and reads it at school regularly.  I think someone is going to get a few more books in the series this Christmas!

Alan read some of Dog Man Unleashed at his desk, before we went home to light candles on the 5th night of Hanukkah.  While at school, I also got an up-close look at “Baseball Land” – Alan’s creation from the November 1st trip to the Innovation Center.

2018 Big Ten Champions

One week after Alan watched Ohio State dismantle Michigan 62-39, he stayed up late to watch Ohio State win the Big Ten Championship by defeating Northwestern 45-24 in Indianapolis!

Alan and I watched the first half of the game together at Grandma Debbie’s – a half highlighted by quite an air show from the Buckeyes’ Heisman candidate, Dwayne Haskins.  The Buckeyes always seem to put on a show on the fast turf in Indy, and Alan enjoyed three Buckeye touchdowns in the first half.

We drove home during halftime, and in the car, Alan followed the game on my phone via the ESPN Gamecast App — his new favorite pastime.  He didn’t quite stay awake for the whole game, but he saw the best parts.

During these past eight quarters of OSU football, Alan has picked up a large percentage of the rules of football.  He now has a strong grasp of down and distance (on a related note, boy do I wish they had the yellow ‘first down’ lines on the TV screen when I was Alan’s age).

This great run for Ohio State down the stretch in 2018 will be remembered as a driving force behind Alan’s growing interest in football.  And we’ve still got a Rose Bowl to watch together next!

In honor of Ohio State’s return to Pasadena, here I am in July 2007 visiting the Rose Bowl.  What a great memory!

Winter Workshop

Today Alan made holiday gifts for the family at the annual Millridge Winter Workshop.  This year I opted to attend Winter Workshop instead of the Holiday Party and got to follow Alan & the rest of Mrs. Harris’ class through all 4 workstations.  Alan made a couple ornaments, designed some charms, and made a wooden snowman.  I might know what the gifts are, but he hasn’t yet told me which one will be for me!

Cavaliers Game No. 1 of 2018-19

Alan and I watched the Cavaliers beat the Rockets 117-108 tonight at the Q!  Alan was excited to see Collin Sexton in person for the first time.  And Sexton did not disappoint, as he scored a team-high 29 points in the win.

Upon our arrival at the Q, Alan measured up against the player he represented in the starting lineup during last June’s NBA Finals – Tristan Thompson!

Next Alan found our names on the floor of the Wine & Gold Headquarters.  This year our entry reads “Scott & Alan Miller.”

 

Our next stop was the team shop.  Alan bought a Cavaliers stuffed elephant and named him “Wajibu,” since Blue House (Team Wajibu) has an elephant as its mascot.  Wajibu will fit well at home with “Lucky” (dog) and “Cav-ee” (duck).

On the way to our seats, Alan made another great sign!  He came up with the idea of drawing a sword slashing the opponent (a rocket in this case) in half, just like the graphics he saw on the Humongotron during the Finals.  He also used a stencil to draw the “C” logo.

   

After getting some popcorn at Alan’s request, we sat and watched the rest of the game from our seats.  We had a blast watching Sexton lead the Cavaliers to victory.  We shared a lot of giggles too, as Alan got a kick out of taking my phone and taking close up pictures of his face and my shirt.  🙂

All-in-all, we had a perfect day together.  Earlier in the day, we watched Ohio State beat Michigan 62-39.  We watched every second of the game and celebrated every Ohio State score together.  Considering 62 points were scored (an all-time record for an opponent of Michigan), we tired ourselves out!

11/25/18 Update:  The Browns capped a remarkable sports weekend by beating the Bengals in Cincinnati.  The Cavaliers, Buckeyes, and Browns combined to go 4-0 over Thanksgiving weekend, and Alan and I watched almost all of the action together.  If only this weekend could last forever…

Thanksgiving!

The cousins were back together today to celebrate Thanksgiving!  As usual, there was much running, jumping, and playing hide-and-seek.  🙂

Continuing our tradition, Alan decorated the Christmas tree as soon as he got home from Grandma Debbie’s house.  He did a great job decorating on his own!

11/23/18 Update: Alan and I spent Black Friday shopping for some new ornaments and Christmas decorations at Target.  Alan convinced me to string lights up on our living room and bedroom windows this year.  We also went to the local Goodwill store so that Alan could make his annual donation.

Alan’s Favorite Activities

Second grade – Part II – edition of the Top 10:

-Sunday visits to the Mayfield Library – for playing and checking out books.

-Collecting on a new weekly allowance of $1!  Alan’s actually gotten to put his NASA wallet to good use holding his dollar bills, library card, McDonald’s card, and photo ID (2018 summer baseball card).

-“Lexia” sessions (online learning for 2nd grade).

-Ice skating lessons at Gilmour.

-Playing basketball on our Ohio State mini-hoop!  Alan sets the phone alarm and we play 3-minute quarters.

-Playing the dreidel game on the computer!

-Building racetracks, airports, and cities on Grandma Debbie’s coffee table.

-Doing crossword puzzles for kids with Tata.

-Constructing & playing, “Mouse Trap.”

-Setting postseason mini bat matchups!

Innovation Center

Mrs. Harris’ class went on its first field trip of the year today — to the Mayfield Innovation Center.  Alan loves the annual field trip there.  This year the learning activity was “creating maps with Ozobots.”  Alan said he and Brady partnered to create “baseball land” (A bat and glove can be seen in the picture below).  Alan told me the Ozobot will navigate along the black lines that they drew on their map by itself.

Halloween 2018

Today The Flash made an appearance at the Halloween party for Mrs. Harris’ class.  The Flash won a sticky-spider-toss game, after getting two bullseyes.  He also took part in the Millridge Halloween parade, which was held in the gym due to rain.

  

It was still raining during trick-or-treating, but that did not stop The Flash from going the full two hours!  This year Alan was also brave enough to approach the neighborhood house where the owner answers the door with a chainsaw.  The brave souls who dare knock on the door receive a treat better than candy — a toy sword that lights up in the dark.  When he came home, Alan proudly ran over to show me the evidence of his great triumph!

Note: The Flash was the costume of choice this year following Alan’s summer of being the fastest member of the Yankees.  Alan’s scary classmate pictured with him above is De’Onta.

Noah’s Birthday Party

The Year of the Sky Zone Birthday Party continued today with Noah taking his turn as host and birthday boy.  The usual suspects – Alan, Noah, Brady, Xavier and Grady – were together again, along with a few other Millridge second graders.  After jumping and playing dodgeball, the kids played “Heads Up, Seven Up” while waiting for cake.  It was Alan’s first time playing, and he loved it.  Turns out he has a pretty good poker face!

Millridge: FOX 8 Cool School!

Today Alan appeared on FOX 8 News during the 6am and 4pm hours!  He was representing Millridge–this week’s FOX 8 “Cool School of the Week.”  This was his third time on television — first time not related to the Indians or Cavs. 🙂

Millridge earned the featured spot of the week by earning 53% of the vote in last week’s online voting competition against Forestlawn Elementary School in Sheffield (40%) and Watson Elementary School in Massillon (7%).  Voting ran between Oct. 8 and 11, and Millridge was announced as the winner during the 6am hour of FOX 8 News on Oct. 11.

Yesterday the kids were asked to wear their House shirts to school for the filming of the FOX 8 News segment.  Mrs. Harris’ class took a photo with their Mayfield High School mentors, just prior to heading to the gym for filming.

Millridge’s 5th Grade ambassadors made and held the official FOX 8 welcome sign.

Students from each grade held signs representing each House.  Alan got picked by his art teacher to hold the Blue sign!  He was so happy that he got picked, which enabled him to get some air time!

At the end of the week, Alan proudly wrote about his good fortune in his weekly journal!

Fall Weekends

Alan’s weekends this fall go something like the following:  Friday night hangouts with Daddy, followed by Saturday lessons and Sunday fun.

On Fridays we’re likely to play one of our board games together (Sorry!, Mouse Trap) and arrange baseball bats by match-ups.  Saturday lessons kick off with swimming at Hawken and are followed by piano and violin lessons back-to-back at the Music Settlement.  On Saturday nights, Alan heads to Grandma Debbie’s to see his cousins and sleepover at Grandma Debbie’s house!

Sundays involve taking Tata to Giant Eagle for shopping and then stopping by the apartment to have lunch and play.  We also usually play baseball or tennis too.  Occasionally we stop by the Wildcat Fitness Center as well.

There’s not too much schoolwork to do on weekends this fall.  Alan does do practice math problems though.  And we participated in Millridge’s Read-a-thon for the first time!  Alan logged 480 minutes while reading 22 books this month.

2nd Annual ‘Guys Only’ Week

For the second October in a row, Alan and I had extra ‘buddy time’ while Veronica went traveling for a week!

Together we had quite a week+, starting on the night of 9/27 and lasting through tonight.  There was a lot of math homework (50 problems a day), music (in the car on the way to school), books (it was Millridge Read-a-thon week), and even dad jokes (written on notes placed in Alan’s lunch bag).  There was also The Great Coffee Spill of 2018 mixed in, which fortunately we overcame.  🙂

We devoted a day (last Sunday) to board games.  Then midweek we went to Party City and bought a new one, Mouse Trap.  Alan loved it!

There was also sports (& creations).  Alan watched OSU beat Penn State while building the Lego Coast Guard set, then watched OSU beat Indians while building a new Tinker Toy 16-wheeler.  We watched the Browns upset the Ravens on a last second field goal in OT(!).  And we hit baseballs at the park, two days after Indians day at school in honor of the ALDS.

Fortunately Alan had some meditation time with this classmates after all the excitement at home.  🙂

Music Settlement Tuesdays

Tuesday nights this year (every other Tuesday to be exact) are once again group piano and Dalcroze class nights.  Alan first meets with George and Pasquale to practice together for their upcoming group performance in December.  Then Alan meets up with other classmates to combine music with movement.  Tonight Alan let loose running to the beat, then practiced rhythm clapping and jumping.  Alan made it look easy, but other kids who haven’t had as much music instruction had trouble with the pace and staying on beat.

2nd Annual Father Figure Walk

Today Alan and I walked to school together as part of Millridge’s 2nd Annual Father Figure Walk.  The details were the same as last year — we parked at the Fitworks at the corner of Wilson Mills and Brainard and walked to school — but the weather was considerably nicer!  And we passed Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Russo, and Mrs. Feldman in front of the school on our walk in (they were there to greet students and father figures).  I was given a ‘thank you’ bag from Mr. Bradic again, with a water bottle, granola bar, and note inside.  Then Alan played on the playground with Colin until the first morning bell rang.  When I left, Alan thought it was funny that I still had a long walk back to my car.  🙂

Best Saturday Ever

Today’s excitement included swimming lessons during the day and putting together Legos at night.

Alan had one-on-one attention at the pool this afternoon due to some absences in his swim class.  He swam back-and-forth and back-and-forth, compiling quite a few practice laps.

In the evening, Alan put his entire Coast Guard Lego set together!  The set, which he got at his family birthday party, came in 8 separate bags.  Alan just kept going and going and assembled the entire set while we watched the Ohio State football game.  Not only did Alan enjoy his Legos, but he also got to see Ohio State rally to make up a 12-point deficit in the 4th quarter at Penn State to win 27-26!

The first OSU game that Alan watched portions of was against Penn State in 2015.  This game was the first that Alan watched the majority of the game.  We were both ecstatic by the end of the night.  🙂

House Competition Winners!

Today Alan was proud to announce that Blue House (a.ka. Team “Wajibu,” or “House of Responsibility”) was this week’s winner in the school-wide competition for kindness and unity points!  It was the first time that Blue won, and the news came on the same day that Alan picked up his team shirt.  The second graders on Blue, plus Mrs. Harris, made sure to pose for a photo in their new shirts.  🙂

Alan’s Favorite Activities

Second grade – Part I – edition of the Top 10:

-Attending Indians games at Progressive Field!

-Batting practice at the Mayfield Community Park and racing Daddy around the bases on every 5th hit.

-The Cleveland National Air Show!

-2nd grade birthday parties at Sky Zone (Noah is up next in October after Grady and Alan!)

-Making Lego and train cities.

-Playing with Tyler and Carleigh Saturday nights at Grandma Debbie’s!

-Following Indians games on Gamecast. 🙂

-Setting mini bat “matchups” of MLB teams every Monday and Friday nights during baseball season.

-Playing cards and “Sorry!”

-Playing badminton and tennis with our new rackets.

Tribe Game No. 7 of 2018

Alan kept his birthday celebration going late into the night at the Indians game!

We arrived during the 5th inning, around the time of Josh Donaldson’s 2nd homerun of the night.  Alan headed straight for Little League Park and hit everything in sight.  He legged out a triple in this at bat.

Inside the Kids Clubhouse, we took selfies.  Alan had to have an orange popsicle too.

   

At the team shop, Alan got a ASG mini bat and some AL Central Champs souvenir baseballs and pins.  On our way out of the ballpark, Alan lamented that he’ll “miss this place” during the offseason.

Alan wrapped up another winning season at Progressive Field with a 4-3 record.  He’s 24-10 overall in his Indians career.

Sky Zone Party

Tonight Alan invited his closest friends to help him celebrate his birthday at Sky Zone — the hottest place going for 2nd grade birthday parties right now!  The invitees included Brady, Noah, Xavier, Cassidy, Grady, Colin, De’Onta, and Kilian.

   

The kids jumped from 5:45pm to 7:15pm.  Some jumped on the partitioned course, some jumped into the ball pit, and some jumped on the dodgeball court.  As Alan predicted earlier in the night, they jumped until they tired themselves out.  At 7:13pm, Alan’s birth minute, the announcement of his birthday was shared over the loudspeakers.  The kids were then called into the party room for pizza and cake.

For the second year in a row, Alan had a baseball-themed, white marble cake from Giant Eagle.  But this time we went all-out on the Indians theme.  🙂

Silliness ensued when Alan’s friends sang to him and he blew out his candles.  After enjoying the cake, Alan requested my phone in order to follow the Indians-Red Sox game on Gamecast with Noah and Xavier.  He also started a boo Red Sox chant in the room.

After the party, Alan handed out the treat bags we put together with prizes bought from Target and Browns/Buckeyes pencils.  Kilian took home the “bonus bag” that Alan filled with extra cool prizes and a Cavaliers pencil.

But the fun didn’t stop there.  When the party ended at 8pm, Alan and I drove up to Cleveland and traded in Gamecast for live action baseball at Progressive Field!  During our drive, we listened on the radio as Josh Donaldson hit his first homerun as an Indian.

Happy 8th Birthday Alan!!

My best buddy turned 8 today!

Alan passed out Justice League pencils (featuring Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, and Batman) to his classmates at school today.  He came home wearing a birthday sticker and slap bracelet (the same could easily have been said for me back in 1991).  I surprised him at the bus stop, after leaving work early, and he was pretty shocked.  Then we hung out for the afternoon during the lead up to his Sky Zone party!

Alan commented to me how his bus driver, teacher, and librarian were all celebrating the Browns’ big win and Baker Mayfield’s successful debut last night!  This Browns fan didn’t need to wait to hear it from me — Cleveland was on fire!

Birthday Party for Alan & Tyler

 

Alan and Tyler celebrated their 8th and 7th birthdays at a family party today at Grandma Debbie’s house!  The party was at the same time as the Browns’ season opener, so Alan and I were dressed accordingly.

Alan was in charge of setting up the candles on the boys’ vanilla cake.  When the boys blew out the candles, Alan took the top row and Tyler took the bottom row.

Alan got a lot of great gifts, including the one he really wanted!  It’s almost as if people knew he really likes Legos.

As always, Alan was so glad to have his cousins there!  He was also very proud to show off his new violin, after having his very first lesson yesterday.  He showed it off to the whole family.

Millridge Movie Night

Tonight Alan and I attended the 2nd Annual Millridge Movie Night for a showing of Peter Rabbit.  Alan met up with Brady, Xavier, and De’Onta to watch the movie on the grass next to the Millridge playground.  We did not attend last year’s showing of Boss Baby, so this was our first time attending movie night.

Captains Game No. 1 of 2018

Alan and I attended our first Lake County Captains game today at Classic Park!  It was a scorcher, but it was nice to spend time outdoors over Labor Day weekend.

Just like Sundays at Progressive field, Sundays at Classic Park are focused on the kids.  Captains Kids Days feature inflatable games (including hitting), Catch on the Field before the game, and Kids Run the Bases after the game.

  

Alan of course loved playing on all the inflatable games, but he especially enjoyed the playground shaped like a big ship!

We loved how much space there was to move around at Classic Park, especially beyond center field where there are open spaces for fans to play catch.  We also enjoyed sitting underneath a covered pavilion in right field where we could watch the game from our own table.  We played cards in the shade together there while cooling off.

When it was time to run the bases, Alan took advantage of a less congested diamond and showed off his speed around the bases before touching home.

Other highlights of the afternoon for Alan included a very large ice cream cone and buying three mini Captains baseball bats and a foam “Skipper” (Captains’ mascot) from the team shop.  Today happened to be a “Bark at the Park” day as well, so Alan got to see dogs throughout the ballpark!

I think we’ll definitely be heading back to Classic Park next summer.

Tribe Game No. 6 of 2018

Tonight Alan and I made a special Friday night visit to the ballpark to close our school/work week with some baseball and fireworks.  It was a great way to kick off the long Labor Day weekend.

Out on the family deck, Alan dove home safely after a sprint around the bases in Little League Park.

Inside the Clubhouse, Alan got extra turns on the slide with fewer kids in attendance for night games.  He also got his favorite popsicle to eat during fireworks.

  

During the 8th inning of the game (won 3-0 by the Indians over the Rays) we found out the Indians acquired Josh Donaldson!  Alan was concerned for who we had to send to Toronto, but for now at least it is a player to be named later.  The Indians win clinched another winning season at Progressive Field for Alan.  He’s 4-2 with one game left to attend.

Open House

Tonight at parent orientation I learned what’s ahead for Alan in Mrs. Harris’ second grade class this school year!  Alan came tonight and played on the playground with his grandparents while his parents were in class.  Afterwards he met us in the classroom and showed off his desk (I had to hide the personal note written for him).

Alan sits at the table group that named themselves the “Number One Stars.”  In the picture below of the group’s sign, Alan drew the green helicopter and red airplane in the lower right corner. 🙂

Alan also showed me his “friendship pie” hanging in the hallway.

Lastly, he showed me the picture he drew on his personal book holder by his cubby!

One theme of the evening was the introduction of the new “House” system.  Alan is in the blue-colored “House of Responsibility.”  I’m sure there will be more to come on that throughout the year!

Weekend with Brady

Alan and Brady, best friends in Mrs. Harris class during the week, got together twice this weekend too.  On Friday they swam together at the Mayfield High School pool.  Then on Sunday Brady came by to see Alan’s Hot Wheels Super Ultimate Garage.  Alan had been waiting a long time to show it to Brady!  But they didn’t stop there.  The boys played together on the Highland Heights playground, then played at Brady’s house for a couple more hours!

Ice Cream Social

The school year is officially underway now that we’ve had the ice cream social!  Tonight Alan and I went to Millridge for the event, where Alan played with De’Onta and Collin on the swings and Grady on the monkey bars.

Rain throughout the day threatened the event, but the evening ended up being clear and comfortable.  As a back-up plan, the school set up music and dancing in the gym too.

Tribe Game No. 5 of 2018

The trip to the ballpark today was a special one, as Tyler accompanied Alan for his very first Indians game!  Alan was very happy to show him around the ballpark.

The first stop was inside the Kids Clubhouse.  Alan showed Tyler the slide, the train table, the model Indians lockers, and the oversized bat and glove.  Tyler liked the slide the most.

Tyler also got a taste of being a major league hitter.  Alan, of course, opted to be a catcher!

  

Outside on the family deck balcony, the boys enjoyed popsicles and watched the Indians take an early 1-0 lead on the Orioles in the 1st inning.

After they were finished in the Kids Clubhouse, the boys tried out the outdoor activities on the family deck.  In Alan’s debut sprint of 2018, he recorded a career-best time of 6.19 seconds.  But that record only lasted until his second run of the day, when he finished with a time of 6 seconds flat!  Tyler also enjoyed the race, challenging himself to run against the pace of Lindor (designated fastest Indian) each time.

At Little League Park, Alan and Tyler shared a baseball field together for the first time!  Both boys circled the bases in their first at-bats; Tyler got a hit on the first pitch he saw and Alan clocked the pitcher.  In their second at-bats, Tyler stopped at second on his hit and Alan drove him in!

Meanwhile the Indians were busy posting a 6-run 4th inning capped by a Melky Cabrera Grand Slam.  To celebrate, we next moved to the team shop for souvenirs.  Tyler bought a Progressive Field baseball, a foam Chief Wahoo, an Indians bottle opener, and a pack of baseball cards.  Alan bought some Indians Legos and a baseball bat pen.  I opted for a 2019 All-Star game ball and pin.

Next we showed Tyler around the ballpark.  First we sat in the upper deck in right-center and watched Andrew Miller throw in the bullpen directly below us.  From there, we also watched the hot dog race – won by Ketchup in come-from-behind fashion.  As Alan put it, while drawing some laughs, Ketchup had to catch-up. 🙂  Then we walked the upper deck from right field to behind home plate, showing Tyler the vantage points of the field along the way.  While we were in the right field corner, Andrew Miller entered and the customary flames appeared on the scoreboard.

We also noted Jim Thome’s recently retired #25 (as of just yesterday).  The #25 will never be worn again by a Cleveland athlete at the Gateway Plaza, as Mark Price’s #25 is also retired by the Cavaliers.

For our next vantage point, we stood on the lower concourse near the season ticket holder lounge area behind home plate.  Tyler heard the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame for the first time while Slider and some of his mascot friends in town for his 28th birthday party danced on the top of the dugout.  After the song, Slider, the Hot Dogs, Dinger (Rockies), Raymond (Rays) and the Oriole Bird walked past us.

With the Indians up 8-0 (which would be the final score), the rest of the game went by quickly.   The boys only had enough time to swing by the Kids Clubhouse for some snacks and a quick trip down the slide before it was time to line up to run the bases.  Alan got a popsicle to enjoy while waiting in line under the stadium (it gets hot down there), while Tyler opted for peanuts.

When it was time to run, Alan turned on the jets, but Tyler stayed within range.  They passed Rajai Davis on the way to the plate.  Tyler said he never thought he’d be on a big field like this one.

After the run, Tyler got a close up view of the Indians dugout and the camera bay.  On the way out of the ballpark, Tyler said he was sad to leave and wanted to know how many days before we could come back.

The boys had a sleepover together at Grandma Debbie’s house last night, so it was a full weekend of fun together.  Last night they made forts with blankets in the living room and read a funny book called Goodnight Underwear.

After the Indians game tonight, they played even more at Tyler’s house, this time along with Carleigh.  The cousins wanted to play all night, but alas it was a school night — and for Tyler, the night before the first day of 1st grade!

8/20/18 Update:  Tyler wore his new Tribe Town MVP shirt for the first day of school.

Swimming Lessons

Although Alan’s been in swimming pools since he was a baby, today he attended the first session of his very first swim class.  He’s signed up at Hawken Lower School, and the Saturday morning sessions run through October.  He was nervous when he arrived at the pool today, but it didn’t take long for him to start having fun.  He loved it and can’t wait for next week!

2018 MBBL Banquet

Tonight Alan, Xavier, and the rest of the 2018 Mighty Mites Yankees attended the annual Mayfield Boys Baseball League banquet at La Vera Party Center.  Champions from all MBBL age groups were honored and prizes were raffled off.

Alan and Xavier didn’t win a prize, but they entertained themselves all evening by following the Indians-Orioles play-by-play on ESPN Gamecast (Indians won 2-1).  We didn’t know about this event last year, but we’re glad we found out this year and got to be together as a team one more time!

First Day of 2nd Grade

  

Alan kicked off his 2nd grade year at Millridge today, sporting his new Mayfield Wildcats shirt for the occasion!  In addition to showing district spirit, Alan loves the color green!

At school he had a great day, highlighted by playing the ice breaker game “Find Someone Who…”  Fortunately Mrs. Harris, like Mrs. Russo, is on Twitter, so I’ll be able to follow along with Alan all year long.

Out of the 21 other kids in the class, Alan knows five kids from his 1st Grade class (Luke, Logan H, De’Onta, Nikki, Giuliana) and three kids from his Kindergarten class (Brady, Noah, and Paige).  That certainly helps the transition into the new year.  It also represents a sharp contrast from last year, when Alan only knew two girls from his Kindergarten class (though he quickly made new friends).

The only bad news of the day was that Alan found out 2nd Grade only has one recess.  But on the bright side, he learned that some weeks will feature “double specials,” meaning he’ll have weeks with two gym classes!

8/28/18 Update: At parent orientation, I found this photo of Mrs. Harris’ class taken on the first day of school.

Popsicles with the Principal

Today Alan prepared for 2nd grade at the 2nd annual “Popsicles with the Principal.”  Alan played on the playground and had two [orange] popsicles.  He also met Mrs. Harris and dropped off his school supplies at his desk.  He’s ready for 2nd grade, which starts tomorrow!

Alan also visited with Mrs. Russo.  According to Mrs. Russo, she said Alan and Brady were put in the same class this year because they’re best friends and behave well when together.  That was the second time she gave inside information about teacher assignments.  During Alan’s parent-teacher conference last October, she said she specifically wanted Alan in her class based on his reputation from Kindergarten.

Fun ‘N’ Stuff Round 2

On the final weekend of summer break, Alan and I wanted to have one last fun outing together.  So following Grady’s birthday party at Sky Zone, we drove out to one of our favorite spots – Fun ‘N’ Stuff!

Now that we’re regular visitors, we have a set plan.  We made sure to play two rounds of mini-golf on course 1, two rounds of air hockey, one turn in the bounce house, and $20 worth of tokens in the arcade.

We had a blast all afternoon, highlighted by two big moments.  The first one was Alan’s first hole-in-one at Fun ‘N’ Stuff (third overall)!  I did not capture his live reaction, but Alan was kind enough to reenact it for me afterwards (pictured above). 🙂

The second big moment was when Alan won a 1,000-ticket jackpot on one arcade game!  At first we didn’t even realize he won a jackpot — instead we thought the machine was broken!  In any event, we used these tickets, along with tickets earned during our previous visit this summer, to walk away with a variety of prizes.  Alan used 2,000 tickets on a set of five Mickey Mouse and the Roadster Racers cars and approximately 450 more on a mini globe, hacky sack, toy car, suction cup ball, lollipops, and Tootsie Rolls for Daddy.  Alan is always generous to Daddy!

  

National Night Out 2018

Tonight the lead-up to 2nd grade continued with Alan hanging out with Xavier, Cassidy, and Brady at the Mayfield Community Park for National Night Out 2018.

The kids got to go inside police cars/vans, fire trucks, and construction equipment, as well as turn on the sirens and beep the horns.  They also got to watch officers ride their motorcycles through an obstacle course and watch a police dog demonstration on how to corral a bad guy.  Alan had a great time!

Afterwards, the kids watched fireworks from the back of Brady’s van.  After having missed Mayfield’s fireworks at Unity Days and on the 4th of July, it was nice for Alan to get to see a fireworks display in Mayfield before the end of summer.  We had a great view of the show, almost looking directly up at the fireworks from a vantage point located just across from the baseball fields.

Note: Just yesterday Alan found out that his 2nd grade teacher will be Mrs. Harris and Brady will be in his class!

Summer Fun

Alan’s second-to-last week of summer break was jam-packed with fun activities.  It was a true representation of what a great summer weekend should be like.

On Friday night we returned to the baseball field to hit balls for the first time since before Alan’s surgery.  Alan was hitting mostly everything I pitched to him and ran the bases several times.  He was thrilled to get back on the field.  Afterwards, as we were packing up, Alan happened to see Ella from Mrs. Russo’s class at the park with her Mom and sister.  Alan stopped to play with them for a while on the playground, and then they chased fire flies together.  Ella also gave Alan an orange wristband to go with the friendship rock from earlier in the year.  After going home, we played chess and also continued to work on a car that Alan, an engineer in training, started to build out of a box. 🙂

On Saturday we began the day at The National Sports Collectors Convention (The NSCC).  After lunch, Alan and I stopped by the annual summer carnival at Golden Gate Gardens and participated in a cake walk and played a ball toss game together.

Afterwards, I took Alan to his friend Josh’s house to play for a couple hours.  Somehow the day was still just beginning though, as the highlight of Alan’s day was going to see Tyler and Carleigh.  First they played in a bounce house at Katie’s graduation party (where a photo was snapped of all the cousins), and then they played at Grandma Debbie’s house.  They ended up having a good four hours together in the two locations.  Alan let his cousins drive his “box car.” 🙂

On Sunday morning we headed back to The NSCC, before spending the rest of the day at the Indians game.  Lastly, we closed the weekend with one final game of chess!

Next weekend — the final one of summer break — figures to be another fun one too!

Tribe Game No. 4 of 2018

It was jersey day for our trip to the ballpark today, with Alan wearing Lindor’s #12 and me wearing Miller’s #24.

To make it to the game on time, we had to hurry over to the ballpark from The National Sports Collectors Convention (The NSCC).  When we got to the gates, Alan was handed Indians trading cards in honor of the upcoming National Trading Card Day (8/11/18).  They complemented Alan’s haul of trading cards for the day quite nicely!

Up in the Kids Clubhouse, Alan practiced his leadership skills by managing the train table for the afternoon.  In recent weeks the table had been put in a storage closet due to all the trains having been taken home by kids.  However, Alan decided to bring 3 trains from home (Thomas, Percy and a caboose) so that the table could be set up again.  He took responsibility for accounting for the trains and rotating them among the kids.  He did a great job managing the table!  (Note: The Thomas and Percy trains were the same ones that came with him to his very first ballpark visit in 2013).

After the game, Alan continued his Sunday tradition by rounding the bases and touching home.  Then we met Robbie and Jill in the stands before heading out.  Hopefully it’s not the last time we’ll have a chance to go to a game with them this season!

2018 National Sports Collectors Convention

This weekend Alan and I made a two separate visits to the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention at the I-X Center.  The event was held in Cleveland (Wednesday-Sunday) for the first time since 2014.  I attended that year and have been looking forward to bringing Alan to his first card show ever since.

Saturday

After checking out the opening night preview on Wednesday, I set a game plan and brought Alan with me on Saturday morning.  Our first stop was to the PSA table, where I dropped off my Rose Bowl tickets and an autographed Jim Tressel business card for grading.  There Alan and I also had personal trading cards made!  I was excited to wear the greatest Indians jersey of all time – the late 80s/early 90s Municipal Stadium era version with the red, white, and blue-striped border.  Alan had a more modern look, sporting his blue practice jersey with the block C.  🙂

The next stop was Alan’s favorite activity – the indoor Ferris wheel.  Alan loved how it peaked through the roof and allowed for a view of the neighboring airport.  We looked out for planes at the top of each rotation!

After the ride, we browsed the booths on the convention floor and picked up a 1948 World Series highlight DVD, a 1958 Rose Bowl game film DVD, and a 1975 OSU-Michigan radio broadcast CD.  When we came across some vintage baseball equipment, Alan felt relieved that the catcher’s gear he wore this year has improved since the early 1900s model!  On the way out we took a photo by the entrance/exit (LeBron is shown top left).

Sunday

Alan and I decided that one day at the convention was not enough, so we returned again on Sunday morning.  When we arrived, we bought two commemorative items – a convention pin and poster.  While waiting in line, a Panini representative passed out a redemption card to Alan to turn in at the Panini booth.  We found it was for a 10-card VIP set that included Baker Mayfield, along with 9 other top rookies in the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

Being a kid at the convention definitely had its perks, as Alan also received free cards from two other booths.  For the first time Alan got to experience the thrill of opening a pack of cards and getting a player from his team, as one of the packs contained a sharp Duke Johnson Donruss card.  The only cards that we ended up having to purchase were the latest 3-card installment from the Topps Living Set that included Francisco Lindor! (along with Andrew Benintendi and Austin Meadows).  When buying the set the Topps booth we came across some great fortune, as the 3-card set we purchased included a redemption card for a 11×14 print of Lindor signed by the artist, Mayumi Seto.

Of course we had to ride the Ferris wheel again too, after having so much fun with it the day before.  Alan also got a kick out of the fun house mirrors right around the corner from the Ferris wheel.

Before leaving, we viewed some more memorabilia, included some LeBron Cavaliers gear and a Satchel Paige game-worn Indians jersey!

   

My hope is that this convention will spark Alan’s interest in the same hobby that I have enjoyed since I was his age.  I think he definitely started to understand what I see in trading cards and sports memorabilia at least.  I think the odds are good that we’ll go to another show again someday!

Surgery

Yesterday Alan had his first surgery — the removal of his tonsils and adenoids.  He braved through it and hopefully is now well on his way to having three fewer bouts with strep throat next winter as compared with last.

He was brave in the pre-op room, where he played with Dinosaur stickers, as well as on his walk to the operating room alone with the surgeon and nurses.  Alan’s Cavs doggy, which we got at the Cavs v. Suns game in March, was with him in the operating room, wearing  a ‘good luck’ necklace for Alan.  The gold coin on the necklace was a gift from Alan to me on last St. Patrick’s Day.

It was a very tough first 24 hours after the surgery with Alan unable to swallow as much medicine and water as he was supposed to (actually barely any at all).  But following a long night, a visit from Lulu and Rosie helped get things going in the right direction again.  They helped him overcome his fear of swallowing and Alan was able to get down medicine, water, and even a donut!  Later on in the evening, he resumed drinking milk and eating ice cream too.

7/22/18 Update:  Alan continues to get a little better each day.  He still has to take Tylenol for the pain and soreness, and nights have been especially tough for him.  But on the brightside he’s spent the last six days with Daddy or Grandma Debbie playing Chess, Checkers, Go Fish, and Legos.  Alan was excited to at least get the Lego Police Station out of this ordeal!  There have also been a lot of McDonald’s Happy Meals with The Incredibles 2 toys and popsicles/ice cream cones.

7/24/18 Update:  Alan built his Lego Police Station and took a photo for me.  What an awesome Lego city!

7/28/18 Update:  By Day 9 Alan was able to sleep through the night without waking up in pain.  By Day 10 Alan starting using his voice again.  By Day 11 Alan stopped having to take Tylenol.  Today, Day 12, Alan is now back to full strength and will get to see his cousins tonight! 

Summer Sleepover

With his traveling behind him, Alan could finally get what he’s been waiting for this summer – a sleepover with Tyler and Carleigh at Grandma’s house!  In fact it was a true summer weekend from start to finish for Alan.

The sleepover took place on Friday night.  Alan brought the Sea Patroller (from Paw Patrol) as the featured toy of the night.  Highlights included the kids picking out donuts from Dunkin Donuts for their bedtime snack and going on a walk in their pajamas with flashlights.  On their walk, they met a woman with a white dog named Misty that Alan liked.  The kids were excited to explain that they were in their pajamas going on a “midnight” walk with their grandma!

On Saturday morning the kids went to the library to get new books (one of Alan’s favorites pictured below) and play with the kitchen set.  Alan’s doing the summer reading program again, and he earned a raffle ticket for reaching the halfway point on his game board.  The kids read and played some more until it was time to go home.

But the fun didn’t stop there for Alan.  Later on Saturday he went to Josh’s house to play with Josh and Killian.  The boys played outside, including in Josh’s backyard pool.   After I picked Alan up, we played two of Alan’s new favorite games – chess and checkers – on our brand new set.  We could have finished the night playing those games, but Alan wanted to run to the park to hit some baseballs until the sun went down.  We’ve been playing a new game when Alan hits a ball far where he tries to circle the bases before I can get the ball and track him down.  He likes showing off his speed ever since the coach told him he’s fast!

On Sunday Alan got to help Tata shop at Giant Eagle for the first time in several weeks due to his traveling.  He enjoys pushing the cart and helping out very much.  Afterwards we hit baseballs again at the park, despite the heat.  It was a full summer weekend for sure!

Baseball Playoffs

Alan had a pretty sweet playoff debut, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI singles.  Alan brought his sunglasses to the game just in case he played OF, and he actually did play RF for 4 innings.  The Yankees tried their best but ultimately lost to the Red Sox 9-5 to conclude the season.

Alan was fortunate to get to play this game, as it took two rainouts on July 3rd and 5th to get this game rescheduled to a date after Alan’s trip to Vancouver (June 29th-July 7th).  That also allowed Alan to play in front of Grandma Debbie, Papa, and Lulu tonight.  Alan made sure to tell everyone again that Lulu was his dog.

After the game, the team took a group photo before celebrating the season with some ice cream at Dairy Queen!

At DQ, Alan joined in and ordered a vanilla cone.  While Alan and his teammates were eating, the coach passed out balls and commended each player.  He called Alan a “hitting machine” and said he was the fastest player on the team — a comment that Alan earned by beating out an infield hit in his first at-bat by a whisker.

But the night didn’t end there.  After Dairy Queen, at Alan’s request, we went back to our favorite practice field to keep hitting and running the bases.  The sun may have set on another baseball season, but it’s never too early to prepare for next season!

Tribe Game No. 3 of 2018

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!

End of Regular Season Update

On 6/19/18, Alan had his first career 3-hit game!  He went 3-for-3 with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored (career high) in a win over the Red Sox.  Alan also caught three innings for the second straight night and played three more in LF.  He was disappointed that he didn’t get a game ball after the game — that went to a player who broke a 9-9 tie with a 3-run double in the bottom of the 5th — but it made him appreciate last night’s honor even more.  Grandma Debbie, Papa, and Lulu(!) were there to see the Yankees earn their first winning streak of the season.  Alan proudly told his teammates that Lulu was his dog. 🙂

On 6/25/18, Alan went 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs (career high) and 1 run scored in a win over the Marlins.  He also caught all 6 innings!  The Yankees spotted the Marlins 5 runs before coming back to win 15-13.  It was a great end to the regular season, made even better by the fact that Tyler, Carleigh, Grandma Debbie, and Papa came for the third straight Monday night.  Alan LOVED having them come this season!

Alan’s cumulative season stat line reads as follows:  17-for-33 (.515) with 8 RBIs and 8 runs scored.  He closed the year on an impressive 10-game hit streak and had multiple hits in six of those 10.

As a team, the Yankees closed the year with three straight victories to end the regular season at 5-6.  That’s good for a third place finish out of five teams.  The order of finish was Dodgers-Red Sox-Yankees-Marlins-Giants.  The Yankees will open the playoffs with a 1-game showdown vs. the Red Sox.  The winner will play a best of three series vs. the winner of Dodgers vs. Marlins/Giants.

Alan’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.  I coached first base for the first time this season (after being at third for all other games) and congratulated Alan each time.

Defensively, Alan caught three innings (on a very hot night) and played one more in LF.  No one on the team enjoys putting on the equipment and catching right now more than Alan.

After the game, Alan and Xavier were each presented with game balls.  The ump originally gave the balls to me following the last out.  When I handed them to our coach, he was consulting with the stat-keeper on the most deserving recipients.  I heard him say Alan, so I had my phone ready to record the video of Alan receiving the game ball.  Alan had been wanting so bad to receive a game ball and tonight he got his wish.  Both he and Xavier really deserved it tonight.

Afterwards Tyler and Carleigh greeted Alan with a big hug.  Alan proudly showed them the game ball, then showed Grandma and Papa too.  It was a very special night for Alan and he was thrilled to share it with his family!

  

At home Alan asked if he can have a case for his game ball, and I agreed.  We’ll be displaying that ball for sure!

Tribe Game No. 2 of 2018/Father’s Day 2018

The Indians were back at home on Father’s Day after a brief 1-year hiatus, and Alan and I celebrated with the Indians for the 4th time in the last 6 years.  We made the day even more memorable by playing baseball on all three sites where professional baseball has been played in Cleveland — thus hitting our baseball trifecta for the first time since August 2014.

The day began for us at League Park, where about 400 people (according to the League Park Twitter account) gathered to play catch between 11am and 1pm (before first pitch of a semi-pro game).  Alan and I parked on Lexington Ave right near the 290′ sign in the right field corner.  We saw there was quite a bit of open space in the expansive outfield, so Alan asked if he could bring his bat and hit.  I only had two balls in the car — one Rawlings “C” ball that I had just bought at Target that morning and a neon, rubberized “C” ball that was in Alan’s equipment bag — but we made it work anyway.

Note:  We actually had a third baseball – an “All-Star Dad” gold ball that Alan had just given me for Father’s Day, but I didn’t want to get that one dirty!

I ended up pitching to Alan in medium deep right-center field, with him hitting towards the wall.  The rubberized ball had some nice roll to it, so Alan was able to reach the outfield wall on his best hit.  We also played catch in addition to hitting.  In all, we played for about 15-20 minutes before heading to Progressive Field — which was no easy task in the record-breaking heat (the high of 94 degrees at Hopkins airport was a record for June 17).  Alan described it as though we were “muffins being cooked in the oven.”

Despite the heat, we still had fun and plan to return to League Park next Father’s Day, when the organizers of the Baseball Heritage Museum hope to set a world record for the largest game of catch!  As original League Park petition-signers back in 2010 and 2012 (to rehab the grounds for baseball purposes), Alan and I definitely want to be a part of that event!

   

When we arrived at Progressive Field, we headed straight for the air-conditioned team shop.  After cooling down from our walk to the ballpark, we went up to the Kids Clubhouse.  The line was long due to the number of families at the ballpark, but Alan wanted to wait it out for the train table.  We spent about three innings in line and four innings inside.

Afterwards, we made our way to Heritage Park to meet with other season ticket holders who had used their points to play Catch on the Field.  We watched Cody Allen work a quick 9th to cap the Indians 4-1 win over the Twins (the first MLB win of Shane Bieber’s career) from the Frank Robinson statue.

When it was time to enter the field, we dodged the sprinklers and set up to play catch in right field.  The rubberized ball skipped pretty well along the outfield grass, so we played from a pretty good distance.  The Indians gave us a ball to play catch with as well (another Rawlings “C” ball, only softer and with a blue panel).  We made it for approximately 15 minutes before Alan sought out one of the sprinklers to cool off.

After we finished playing catch, Alan got in line to run the bases for the first time this season.  Following a photograph by the dugout, we sat in the stands and drank water before trekking back to our car.

  

But of course we weren’t done just yet.  After the Tribe game, we headed to the grounds of Old Municipal and played catch outside the same University Hospitals gate where we played 3 years ago.  This time, though, there was a Jim Brown statue at the gate, and Alan got to read about Brown’s career accomplishments.  Alan commented Jim Brown must’ve been the “LeBron James of the Browns.”

   

So in summary, Alan go to hit, run, and throw where the Indians have played baseball for the past 127 years.  And I got to have another ideal Father’s Day with my buddy!

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!

Playoff Run for the Ages

Alan and I had a blast together during the Cavaliers 2018 postseason run, culminating at the NBA Finals.  During the playoffs, we raised the banners posted at the Cavaliers website following each victory, and advanced the Cavaliers along in our playoff bracket with series wins over the Pacers, Raptors, and Celtics.  Alan especially enjoyed the city’s spirit for the Cavaliers.  He made sure to point out “Whatever It Takes” signs and Cavaliers window displays around town.  For Cleveland kids like Alan, all they know is winning basketball and championship-level enthusiasm in Cleveland!

2018 NBA Finals Game 4 Outdoor Watch Party

Alan and I took full advantage of the NBA Finals in Cleveland this week.  After I went to Game 3 on Wednesday, I took Alan to the Game 4 Outdoor Watch Party tonight!

Upon arriving downtown we headed straight to the surface lot across from Harry Buffalo, where Larry Nance (Sr.) was scheduled to sign autographs.  I had also met Mark Price there on Wednesday (photo below) and I was all for meeting another member of my favorite childhood team — the 1992 Cavaliers.  Alan was familiar with the name, as he remembered our prior conversations about Larry Nance Jr. joining the team this year.

To pass the time, Alan shot baskets on a mini hoop with a boy named Hank.  While Alan was shooting, amazingly, Larry Nance snuck up behind Alan and blocked his shot, adding “Get that weak stuff out of here!”  Alan wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but I explained to him that was who we came to see!

After the block, we got back in line, got an autograph, and took a photo with Nance shortly after.

Before leaving the table, Alan made a Cavs sign.  It featured LeBron making a game winning three pointer in a 103-100 Cavaliers win over the Warriors. 🙂

Next we went back to shooting, since Alan could not get enough of the mini hoop.  He made a fair amount of shots, and after a while, we were both pretty good at it actually.  It took some persuading, but eventually I convinced Alan to head over to the Gateway Plaza to see the Cavaliers-sponsored Fan Fest.

We took a neat photo from the 4th floor of the Gateway garage before participating in the festivities.  Down below, Alan found a new hoop to shoot on, as well as a hockey slap shot game and Cavaliers Jenga game that we enjoyed.

Eventually we made it to the grass in front of the big TV just in time to watch the Cavaliers starting lineup being introduced (which Alan is very familiar with now!).