Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Creative parenting: Let the painting & mud slinging begin August 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
The kids, Braxton, left, Jack and Nevaeh, were thrilled to paint blocks, unlike me.

The kids, Braxton, left, Jack and Nevaeh, were thrilled to paint blocks, unlike me.

I SWEAR SHE would have locked me in the basement.

The sheetrock wall canvas.

The sheetrock wall canvas.

Billie Jo, a former preschool teacher and the mother of two school-aged youngsters, insisted. “You need to paint a brick, Audrey.” She emphasized “Audrey.”

The paint comes from the county recycling center.

The paint comes from the county recycling center.

There was no wiggling my way out of her demand, even if my friend was preoccupied with opening paint cans, stirring paint, handing out brushes, washing kids’ hands and wiping paint spills from the concrete basement floor.

See, I really was busy taking photos, here of Hannah. She's quite the artist who not only paints, but also sews. Plus, she writes poetry.

See, I really was busy taking photos, here of Hannah. She’s quite the artist who not only paints, but also sews. Plus, she writes poetry. Oh, and she made that pony tail holder in her hair.

feet

Painting in bare feet.

Jack creating his masterpiece.

Jack creating his masterpiece.

My excuse of “I’m busy taking pictures” wasn’t sliding by Billie Jo. Nope.

My, ahem, masterpiece.

My, ahem, masterpiece.

So, eventually, I set down my camera and picked up paintbrushes to paint a clutch of lilac hued flowers, my name and the year onto an orange brick painted upon a sheetrock wall. I’ve never pretended to be an artist, except perhaps in photography.

Where the project started, on the cement walls.

Where the project started, on the cement walls.

Prior to the sheetrock dividing wall construction, visitors to Billie Jo and Neal’s south Faribault home created art (a record of their visits) on a cement block wall in a corner of the basement. That area is now covered by totes in a storage room stocked full of board games, art supplies and more.

“Garage sales are great,” Neal says.

Braxton, in near constant motion, took time to paint.

Braxton, in near constant motion, took time to paint.

And so are he and Billie Jo and their kids, Nevaeh (heaven spelled backwards) and Braxton.

They are loving and kind and fabulous and generous and in the paperwork process of adopting, hopefully, two children from Colombia. These will be blessed children to join this fun-loving family. (International adoptions are costly, so if you wish to donate to the cause, email me personally or at audrey at mnprairieroots.com)

I love how they parent, reminding me of bygone times. They have no television, instead choosing board games and crafts and bike rides and storytime at the library and such to define their family togetherness.

My friends stretched a wood plank between their deck and an outdoor play cube for the kids to jump and run and do whatever kids’ imaginations tell them to do. The plank was added when Braxton was in his pirate phase.

Fun times at Billie Jo and Neal's mud party.

Fun times  for Hannah at Billie Jo and Neal’s mud party. The event included mixing of “potions” at the picnic table. Photo courtesy of Billie Jo.

Recently, they hosted a mud party, as in purchasing black dirt, shoveling it into a kids’ swimming pool, mixing in water and letting Nevaeh and Braxton and friends muck around.

Billie Jo tells me that clean-up lasted longer than the party. Here Braxton and Nevaeh pose. Photo courtesy of Billie Jo.

Billie Jo tells me that clean-up lasted longer than the party. Here Braxton and Nevaeh pose. Photo courtesy of Billie Jo.

If I hadn’t been out of town, I would have been there photographing the event. But, if Billie Jo had insisted I join the fun…

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling