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August 14, 2005

Mommy Weirdest

In less than a month, Graham starts kindergarten, and he is quite excited. Each day he asks, “How many days left at my old school?” followed by “I start my new school on the first Wednesday in September, right?”

I’m excited for him but I’m surprised at how emotional I’ve become as we gear up for this big change. (Okay, I’m not really surprised.) The other day was I was reading through a skills assessment that Mrs. Block, Graham’s new teacher, sent home for all her students to complete. I began to weep when I discovered that I was sending my baby off in the world and he didn’t even know how to button. How will he manage? (It turns out he can button but I’ve never seen him do it since he refuses to wear any clothes with buttons.)

Then there was the night when all the district kindergarteners and their families learned about bus safety. One minute I was bursting with pride as I watched him march up to the front of the gym with all the other kindergartners, and the next I was struck cold when I listened to the bus driver tell the kids, “The most important rule is ‘If your backpack drops underneath the bus, leave it.’” Last year a five-year-old in St. Paul was run over by a bus driver who thought the bump he made was a backpack, so she backed over him again to take a better look. God help me.

And this weekend we were at our favorite “Frisbee Park” where a group of young men, probably 16 or 17 years old, play a wild game of wiffleball. As I watched them, I tried to project out 10 to 12 years when Graham would be hanging out with his buds. Would they be the kind of good kids to engage in such an innocent and free-spirited game? (My thoughts about the kids playing changed later when I heard one young man use the old Effenheimer in front of small kids louder and more frequently than the Irish dancers tapped with their steel-toed shoes earlier in the day.)

I heard a great term the other day: helicopter parents. These are the wigged-out parents who relive their own childhoods by “hovering” over their children. You know, the parents who chart and manage their children’s careers from tiny totdom on and eventually follow them off to college and have to be asked to leave by the Dean.

For five years, we’ve been able to keep a bubble around Graham, keeping him safe. We’ve known who’s been around him, scheduled his play dates and controlled who he came in contact with. In September, that bubble will burst the minute he steps on the school bus for the first time and drives off to school.

I keep thinking back to the evening of his bus training and how I watched him walk away from me, his head held high, master of his own destiny. As he marches away from us into an environment over which we have no control with only the hope that we have instilled some sense of good judgment in him, how do we begin to let him go and not hover? How do we let him live his own adventure and not live it for him?

Hang on, folks, it’s going to be a bumpy (helicopter) ride!

Irish Fair

Irish Fair Photo One:
:: Graham’s Class ::
Graham stands with his class shortly before they go on stage
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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

We had such a great time during Irish Fair, I’m almost sorry I’m not Irish. We spent most of Saturday and a big chunk of Sunday afternoon cheering on Graham and his fellow dancers from the Rince na Chroi Irish dance school. The older dancers are phenomenal and the wee ones in Graham’s class all made their parents proud.

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With live music all around, Graham couldn’t stop dancing, and we could barely keep him in his seat to enjoy fish and chips with Uncle Mike and Aunt Lori who came to watch him.

Irish Fair Video:
:: Graham Dances::
Graham practices his steps before he goes on stage
Click photo or HERE to view the video

Here are some other photos. If you'd like to see all the photos, please visit our Irish Fair album (you may need to register first, which is free).

Irish Fair Photo Two:
:: Graham and Mommy ::
Graham and Jackie enjoy a moment before the show.
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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Irish Fair Photo Three:
:: Dance Routine ::
Some of the older girls wow the crowd.
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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Irish Fair Photo Four:

:: Graham On Stage ::

Graham joins his group on stage.

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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Irish Fair Photo Five:

:: Graham and Daddy ::

Daddy wishes Graham luck before his performance.

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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Irish Fair Photo Six:
:: Day Two Treats ::
Graham enjoys some ice cream before his second day performance.
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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Irish Fair Photo Seven:
:: On Stage ::
Graham performs a little jig with his class on stage.
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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Irish Fair Photo Eight:
:: On Stage ::
Graham was very comfortable and smiling on stage.
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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Irish Fair Photo Nine:
:: Refreshments ::
Graham drinks some water in between performances. He had two on the second day.
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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Irish Fair Photo Ten:

:: All Over ::

Graham takes a well deserved bow after his performance.

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Click photo or HERE to view larger image

From sheepdog demonstrations and cold stout to a hurling game and a marching piper band, Irish culture was on display. Now if I could just nabbed a sticker that said, “Kiss me, I’m a Kelly” …

The Top Ten Characteristics of Real Gardeners

10. ...have gardens that are never finished.
9. ...actually spend money on a sack of poop.
8. ...give advice to other customers at garden centers.
7. ...stop on the way home from buying plants – to buy more plants.
6. ...will, within 5 minutes of entering someone else's garden, start pulling weeds.
5. ...find seeds falling off plants and into their hands when they visit other gardens.
4. ...can be recognized from May to September by a telltale hint of dirt under their nails.
3. ...know what Taraxacum officinale is.
2. ...squish "bad" bugs with their bare hands.
1. ...keep an "emergency gardening kit" in the trunk of their car.
+...can always find room for just one more!

So which ones describe you? Post a comment and let me know.

(Printed with kind permission from my friend Rebecca)

What’s Happening in the Garden Now

The morning glories have hit their stride. I always plant two or three different varieties along the chain link fence for some late-season color. Some have even managed to set seed and start growing on their own.

The Mystery Plant

Several of you guessed correctly that the plant with the lime green flowers was a nicotiana. Can you guess the plant this week?

Here’s What’s Blooming Now

Morning glories
Nicotiana – all shapes, colors and sizes
Verbena bonariensis
Cardinal Lobelia
Native monarda
A lobelia that is blue but was labeled “Cardinal Lobelia” when I bought it. Surprise!
Nasturtium “Peach Melba” and others
Rudbeckia “Goldsturm”
Phlox “David”
Russian sage
Hydrangea “Annabelle”
Coreopsis “Moonbeam”
Campanula “Blue Clips” and others
Joe Pye Weed
Purple coneflower
Butterfly weed
Alpine strawberry – and fruiting, too
Indian blanket
Nepeta “Walker’s Low”

Garden Chores for the Week

Plant the lilies and butterfly weed that Brian brought purchased.
Keep up with the wisteria vines, slug traps and pot watering.

Vegetable Garden

So many cherry tomatoes, so many ways to eat them.

Today’s Grahamisms

"Tell me again what six creatures suck human blood? I know there are vampires, lampreys, mosquitoes and those things in the lake water but what else?"

While playing Wile Coyote and Road Runner and showing off his stockpile of weapons: "And here is the Acme Dental Floss of Doom. You open it and sniff and oh, how refreshing."

"Daddy says he was the fastest boy in all of Jamestown so he must have been the fastest man in the world."

"I am the Pumpkin Man and my powers are that I have a box of taxes. Taxes are those things that make car tires go flat, right?" He meant to say tacks.

"While listening to a radio announcer: That guy said electrical response but that can’t be right. There’s no electrical response! He must have meant “mythical.”

"Do germs and bacteria see our owies as big, red playgrounds where they can run around like a maniac like Pont? Do they have really big ears so they can hear the minute we get an owie?"

Posted by maasx003 at August 14, 2005 9:43 AM | Family | Gardens


I didn't know the latin name for dandelion. I do now, thanks to Google. Only yesterday I was helping an old guy, (not Chuck, another old guy) pick out some shade tolerant plants at Home Depot. I am not employed by Home Depot. The mystery plant is Lamium or "dead nettle" a truly awful nickname for a pretty nice plant.

Posted by: Diana at August 14, 2005 10:15 PM

Howdy, I don't know where to start...
First of all, a tardy thank you for hosting a fun dinner a few weeks ago, I am so mad I had to leave early r/t babysitter.
2 - I don't know mystery plant of the week, but I have it all over the place, I think I pull it up and toss it as a weed. Should I be keeping it?
3 - I am so happy I pass most of the real gardener litmus test, I continue to be a gardener without a garden, I had great plans for the summer, and already the perennials are on sale. And me with no beds for them. Argh, I need to do less laundry so I have more time to dig. Do they make biodegradable, disposable clothes?
4 - I am more ready for Kindergarten than I was last spring. You're doing better than I am, I had the bus safety night on the calendar and everything, that evening came and we went outside to play after supper. Fool that I am, I didn't even think about it until it was over. I am very threatened by the impending shift in influence on him. Not that I want a clone of myself (not my bad self esteem, just - yikes, one of me is enough) but I consider it my secondary job as a parent to protect their innocence. Job #1 is that they are alive at the end of the day in case you were wondering.
4 - I am kind of lazy. I really don't want to do all the PTO stuff, I'm up to my neck in church activities, not nearly enough dirt under my nails and there's this desk half refinished in my cluttered garage. Can I just skip it for a few years?!??! Ditto on the organized sports and music lessons??
OK, thanks for bringing up these provokative subjects, for a full discourse on school, contact me Sept 6, I'll be the one weeping in bed with the bottle of Vodka.

Posted by: Rachel, Cheesehead Craig's wife at August 15, 2005 1:27 AM

Ahh..kindergarden. I too was a crying mommy. Personally I think we send our children to school when they are too young. Even one more year would be better. My little guy is going in grade 2 this year. I'm not sad any longer. Yipee I have a bit of my life back!!!! He loves going to school and I am free to work more. I drop him off and then I work for 5 hours and then pick him up. I pick my own hours so it is very handy.

Graham looks adorable and looks like he enjoyed the Irish Fair. I pasted the gardners test except for the seeds. I prefer instant gratification. P.S. Your hubbie has a nice camera!

Posted by: Sandy at August 15, 2005 12:10 PM

Kindergarten is a big step! He'll be fine--he sounds like a smart little guy, ready to learn.

Saralee started this morning, but is in the same classroom as she was for pre-k with the same teachers. That bus stuff is scary--she's not riding it yet as it would take an hour to get to school on a bus in 10 minutes by car.

Graham is such a cutie, and you have aged a day since I left the Twin Cities!

Posted by: nancy at August 16, 2005 1:56 PM

I remember kindergarden with my little one. She will be 18 in a couple of weeks. It is mind blowing how fast the years flew by. I so understand the anxiety you feel sending them into the world. It doesn't get any easier...

Posted by: kerry at August 17, 2005 2:36 PM

White deadnettle? I didn't know it came in white, but I have the purple.

Posted by: Kasmira at August 19, 2005 2:51 PM

I was going to guess dead nettle too.

I could say "yes" to nine out ten. I too did not know what the latin word was. I don't want to give those terrible things any sort of legitamacy!

I heard about the bus accident, but I didn't hear that she had BACKED UP OVER HIM AGAIN!!! That's terrible.

Posted by: Sylvana at August 20, 2005 8:31 PM