Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The joy of time with family-plus November 14, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I TOLD MYSELF I wouldn’t cry. And I didn’t. Not until they had exited the van, scooped together their luggage, hugged me tight and entered Terminal 2 at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

Then, even before Randy pulled away from the curb late Monday afternoon, the choke of parting sadness erupted for a brief moment. Until I refocused on the joy of seeing my son, of meeting his girlfriend. Of the hours during their 2 1/2-day visit from Boston that filled my mama’s heart to overflowing with love.


Siblings together for the first time in 15 months. My eldest is due with her second child in less than two months.


Caleb’s sisters joined us from an hour away and from four hours away in Madison, Wisconsin, as did the 2 ½-year-old granddaughter and a son-in-law. This marked our first time together since August 2017. Too long.

We spent most of our time just hanging out at home, gathering around the dinner table, cozying on the couch, viewing images from Paris and delighting in the novelty of a Polaroid camera. Preschooler Izzy now has a stash of photos. We celebrated my second daughter’s birthday early with gifts and well wishes and birthday candles—one on her mint bar, one on Izzy’s piece. When you’re the granddaughter, you can have a candle to blow out, too.


Our friendly waitress offered to take our photo before we ate our pizza.

We talked and laughed and ate too much—including the requested mint bars and potato soup and delicious meals grilled by Randy and lots more. I made hotdish, albeit not tater tot, but Amy Thielen’s Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish. You can’t host a first-time visitor to Minnesota without serving hotdish (not casserole). One evening we ate out, enjoying Caleb’s (and our) favorite Italian sausage pizza at The Signature Bar & Grill.

We toured Sunny around Faribault, showing her the places of Caleb’s youth—his schools, church, the hospital of his birth. Disappointment showed when I told Caleb the library, where he spent a lot of time while growing up, was closed on Sunday. Likewise, we couldn’t hike at River Bend Nature Center. No one wanted to risk a walk with archery deer hunting happening there. But we walked the new Virtue’s Trail, fighting a brisk wind and abnormally winter cold temps to do so.

I tried to think like someone who’d never visited Faribault. We stopped at the Faribault Woolen Mill retail store and downtown (unfortunately little is open on Sunday), drove past historic Shattuck-St. Mary’s School and pointed out the sliding hill near our home. Sunny delighted in all of it and expressed her desire to attend a county fair as we drove through the Rice County Fairgrounds. I jumped on that and invited her back. Any time.


Before going to the airport, we met our eldest daughter and granddaughter at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.


It was a joy to have Sunny here. To see southern Minnesota through her eyes—to appreciate her appreciation for cozy homes, the quiet of the night, the darkness of the night sky pinpointed by stars, the spaciousness of open land, even cattle glimpsed from Interstate 35.

But mostly, it was a joy to have my house full. To be with those I love, to widen the circle of that love to include Sunny.

My mama’s heart overflows with happiness at the memories.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


30 Responses to “The joy of time with family-plus”

  1. It sounds like a wonderful visit. I think I will have to try the wild rice hot dish. That sounds really good coming off my recent vacation to the states.

  2. This mama is so happy for you! What a wonderful weekend!

  3. Happy early Thanksgiving! You have lots to be thankful for! Adult kids are fun, aren’t they?

  4. melirey96 Says:

    Sounds so nice to have the family all together again. Is so nice to be able to be with the ones you love especially during the holidays. Sounds like everyone had a nice time together. Thanks for sharing your lovely post !
    Have a blessed day!

  5. Valerie Says:

    I sense your joy and am so happy you had a wonderful family time with all your “kiddos” in the same space. It’s wonderful.

    And, I agree, it is fun to see your town through the eyes of someone who has not seen it before.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your time together.

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    I made hotdish

    No Minnesota get-together is complete without hotdish – but you could have tossed in a few tatter-tots; just for effect. 🙂

  7. Littlesundog Says:

    I can see the joy all over your face in that pizza joint photo. I feel the love and happiness each time you write about your kids coming home or having some time with Izzy. “To widen the circle of that love” feels amazing. An open heart does overflow with happiness as that circle widens and expands.

    Where did all of Caleb’s curls come from? Any girl/woman would LOVE to have those loopy curls!! 😀

    • The joy was absolutely there. The night we picked Caleb and Sunny up at the airport, I was exhausted because we didn’t get home until 12:30, hours past my bed-time. But do you think I could fall asleep? Nope. I was way too excited.

      Caleb’s curls come from his dad (when he had hair). I didn’t know Randy back in his days of curly hair. Our second daughter, to the left of Caleb, also has curly hair, although you can’t tell by the photo since she has her hair pulled back. And our sweet granddaughter has darling curls also, although not as curly as her aunt or uncle.

  8. Jackie Says:

    Just emailed you…..before I saw your post, ha ha. Well this answers my questions about your kids visit. I have been thinking about you and Randy a lot over this last week, just knowing how much you were looking forward to this visit. Such joy to have all your kids in your home again! I LOVE the picture of your three! I bet Sunny loved spending time with you all and I’m sure the kids were every bit thrilled to all be home with you. Such a blessing.

  9. What a WONDERFUL TIME and another grandbaby on the way – Congrats!!! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  10. What a joy! Looks like such a lovely time enjoying the people who mean the very most. Those moments are the ones which make our hearts overflow. I wish you more!

  11. Bernadette Says:

    What happy times for you and your family. You are blessed!

  12. Bella Says:

    okay Audrey you got me on this one-I had tears in my eyes by the last sentence in posting. Indeed you and Randy have a grateful heart.

  13. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Happiness is……. (loved the tater tot bit! only in MN)

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