Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My, how baby care basics have changed March 11, 2016

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One of the many baby items my daughter and son-in-law received.

One of the many baby items my daughter and son-in-law received.

AFTER WATCHING MY DAUGHTER and son-in-law open gifts at the baby shower I hosted for them recently, I’ve concluded it takes a lot to care for a baby now days. A lot of equipment, that is.

When my daughter told me she and her husband were getting a Jenny Lind crib for their baby girl, I reacted with enthusiasm. "That's the kind of crib I wanted for you," I said. My daughter was surprised that I knew about the Jenny Lind style.

When my daughter told me she and her husband were getting a Jenny Lind crib for their baby girl, I reacted with enthusiasm. “That’s the kind of crib I wanted for you,” I said. My daughter was surprised that I knew about the Jenny Lind style, which has been around for decades. It was the dream crib I never had for any of my children. They slept in generic garage sale cribs.

When I delivered my three babies 30, 28 and 22 years ago, the essentials included a crib, changing table, diaper pail, high chair and car seat. Nearly all items were second-hand, purchased at yard/garage sales. The crib wouldn’t meet any safety standards today. I doubt the car seat would either. But we managed with what we could afford and what was available. It was better than nothing.

A niece slept in a dresser drawer as a newborn because her mom couldn’t afford a crib. I shopped garage sales to clothe my kids. I used cloth diapers not only to save money but also because I didn’t want a zillion diapers going into the landfill.

Another baby care essential which the parents-to-be received.

Another baby care essential which the parents-to-be received.

Times change. If they didn’t, we’d still be setting babies on the floor of the car, like I did my niece once. Now I shudder that I ever did that. How irresponsible.

If improvements hadn’t been made in cloth diapering methods, parents would still struggle with diaper pins, trying to avoid jabbing the baby. We’d still have bumper pads cushioning cribs and teddy bears stuffed in corners. We’re wiser than we once were about safety issues.

Yet, one care essential remains unchanged. It’s the most important. Babies still need love. Lots of love.

TELL ME, IF YOU’RE a parent or grandparent, what baby care product/products did you find especially valuable?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

All about love & family at my daughter’s baby shower March 7, 2016

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I picked up three helium balloons for my daughter and son-in-law's baby shower for a total of $3 at Dollar Tree.

I picked up three helium balloons for my daughter and son-in-law’s baby shower for a total of $3 at Dollar Tree in Faribault.

THE PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS flew in from California. The aunt drove 300 miles from eastern Wisconsin. A great aunt traveled from western Minnesota, near the South Dakota border.

I created this baby

I created this baby banner from construction paper, shiny paper letters, animals shapes and polka dot ribbon, then strung it across my living room window.

They gathered with 13 other guests (three of whom are pregnant) and three baby girls to celebrate the anticipated arrival of my first grandchild in less than two months.

Family from across the country shipped baby gifts to my home prior to the shower. I started stacking them, along with party supplies, in my daughters' former bedroom.

Family from across the country shipped baby gifts to my home prior to the shower. I started stacking them, along with party supplies, in my daughters’ former bedroom.

I’d been planning this party, this baby shower, for months for my eldest daughter, Amber, and her husband, Marc. It was perfect. In every way.

Guests created personalized onesies using stamps, stencils, paint and permanent markers.

Guests created personalized onesies using stamps, stencils, paint and permanent markers.

From the food to the conversation, art project, games and, yes, even the weather, the day proved lovely.

I purchased these napkins at Party Plus in Owatonna.

I purchased these napkins at Party Plus in Owatonna.

Guests loved the cute mini elephant roll-out cookies I made and sprinkled with pastel sugars.

Guests loved the cute mini elephant roll-out cookies I made and sprinkled with pastel sugars. I borrowed the cookie cutter from a friend.

Beanie Babies were big when the mom-to-be and dad-to-be were growing up. So I asked guests to identify the elephant, lion and zebra. Only one guest correctly names them: Peanut, Roary and Ziggy.

Beanie Babies were big when the mom-to-be and dad-to-be were growing up. So I asked guests to identify the zebra, elephant and lion. Only one guest correctly named them: Ziggy, Peanut and Roary.

It was my honor and my joy to throw this party for my daughter and son-in-law. When I settled on a theme—zoo animals—my creativity sparked. Elephant themed napkins and dainty elephant cut-out cookies. A baby trivia game included questions about the gestational period of an African elephant (22 months), plus questions about the parents-to-be and more. The two grandpas were the lifelines.

The great nieces played while their moms and others passed opened baby gifts around my living room.

The great nieces played while their moms and others passed opened baby gifts around my living room. That’s my husband in the doorway.

Laughter and conversation flowed. Arms of aunts and grandmas and cousins held babies. Wrapping paper fell onto the living room carpet, entertaining the 10 ½-month old who’s beginning to walk.

The adorable "Santa" outfit from Great Grandma Norma.

The adorable “Santa” outfit from Great Grandma Norma for Amber and Marc’s daughter.

The parents-to-be and guests, and grandparents, too, gushed over the red velvet Santa-style dress with matching hat and red-and-white striped leggings selected by Great Grandma Norma in California. You could almost hear the Minnesota dialect reaction, “Oh, fer cute.”

My daughter holds a colorful car seat activity toy for her daughter.

My daughter holds a colorful car seat activity toy for her daughter.

This whimsical creature from Uncle Jon Eric and Aunt Stephani in California drew many admiring comments.

This whimsical creature from Uncle Jon Eric and Aunt Stephani in California drew many admiring comments.

My daughter Miranda, who lives in Wisconsin, bought this shirt for her niece.

My daughter Miranda, who lives in Wisconsin, bought this shirt for her niece. My son-in-law is showing off his daughter’s shirt.

Baby’s first doll, a colorful car seat activity toy, a pink “Someone in Wisconsin Loves Me” long-sleeved onesie. Cute. The hand-stitched burp rags, the floral headbands, the cloth diaper shells. Cute. So many gifts from those who love my daughter and son-in-law and my unborn granddaughter.

The grandparents-to-be flank the parents-to-be. From left to right, my husband, me, Amber, Marc and Marc's parents, Lynn and Eric. We are standing outside the garage door where I hung the banner. I found the banner packed in a shoebox. Next-door-neighbors hung the banner on our garage door 28 years ago when our youngest daughter, Miranda, was born.

The grandparents-to-be flank the parents-to-be. From left to right, my husband, me, Amber, Marc and Marc’s parents, Lynn and Eric. We are standing outside the garage door. I found the “it’s a girl” banner packed in a shoebox with baby cards. Next-door-neighbors hung the banner on our garage door 28 years ago when our youngest daughter, Miranda, was born.

Sure, this young couple could have gone out and purchased most of these items. But there’s something special about gathering in a home, crowding into the living room to eat, visit, play games and then watch the opening of baby gifts.

I was delighted to have my two beautiful daughters in my home, together, for several hours.

I was delighted to have my two beautiful daughters, Miranda, left, and Amber, in our home for several hours. We haven’t all three been together since June.

This is about tradition. This is about family. This is about love. This is a baby shower.

FYI: Check back tomorrow when I’ll show you more baby shower details and ideas.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Oh, baby, it’s shower time March 4, 2016

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I designed a BABY banner to hang in my living room. Here it lies on the bed in a spare bedroom.

I designed a BABY banner to hang in my living room. Here it stretches across the bed in a spare bedroom.

GRANDMA. The word slips off my tongue. Two syllables.

Baby. Also two syllables.

In less than two months, I will hold my sweet granddaughter, my first grandchild, in my arms.

Love. One syllable.

This weekend guests will gather in my Faribault home to shower the mom-to-be and dad-to-be with gifts. The other grandparents are flying in from California. My second daughter will drive 300 miles from eastern Wisconsin to be here for her sister. Aunts and cousins will join us for lunch and a few games. Down in the finally-updated basement, guests will stamp designs onto onesies.

It promises to be a lovely day.

Sure we’ll be a bit cramped for space. But we’ll make do as we ooooh and aaaah over baby gifts and laugh and talk and eat.

There will be hugs and “I love yous.” There will be the usual questions about how my daughter is feeling. Maybe prying questions, too, about Baby Girl’s name. Not even this Grandma knows.

But mostly, we will celebrate. Simply celebrate this baby girl who is already loved by so many.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Thoughts on my son’s birthday February 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:31 AM
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At our house we typically don't have birthday cakes. Rather, the birthday celebrant chooses the dessert of his/her choice, and often that's cheesecake like this one my eldest made for my September birthday. Today I'm making a chocolate chip cheesecake for my son's 17th birthday.

MY SON TURNS 17 today, a day before my eldest turns 25. It wasn’t planned that way—to have their birthdays one day shy of eight years apart. But it happened and the two have never complained about the closeness of their birthdays.

For those of you who don’t know my family, there’s another daughter in between, my 23-year-old, who is 21 months younger than her older sister.

I know, I know, I’m tossing a lot of numbers out there for someone who prefers words to numbers and sucks at math.

But here are some more figures as long as I’m spewing them out. Even though my boy was born 10 days early, he weighed 10 pounds, 12 ounces, and stretched to 23 ½ inches. Yikes, you’re thinking. Not to worry. Like his sisters before him, he was born by Cesarean section due to the fact that the eldest was frank breech, requiring an emergency, vertical-incision C-section.

She weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces. Her sister came in at 8 pounds, one ounce.

Yes, I have big babies.

My son was so big, in fact, that the hospital’s newborn diapers didn’t fit him. I also had to return a package of newbie diapers that a friend had given me before my over-sized baby boy was born.

You would never guess looking at my lanky 17-year-old today that he was once a roly-poly baby. He’s tall and lean now, tall and lean.

I’m wondering, if you’re a mom, do you reflect on your child’s birth every year on his/her birthday like I do? I remember that first kiss I planted on my son’s soft, warm head right after his birth. He was then whisked away while the surgeon tidied up after my C-section and followed with hernia surgery.

That first week after my boy’s  February 9, 1994, birth is mostly a painful blur as I suffered spinal headaches so severe I couldn’t sit up, let alone care for my newborn. Instead, the obstetrical floor nurses mothered him, coddled him, loved him. They even carried my baby boy into the break room, which would be a definite no-no today. I’ll always be grateful for their care.

I am thinking all of these thoughts today, a day when I’ll hold my teen a little closer, a little tighter—if he’ll allow it—and embrace him with a mother’s birthday hug.

Happy birthday, son. I love you now and forever. (I know you don’t read my blog, but I’m telling you anyway, just in case you read this someday.)

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling