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!