I SWEAR SHE would have locked me in the basement.
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.”
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.
My excuse of “I’m busy taking pictures” wasn’t sliding by Billie Jo. Nope.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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