Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A mother’s reflections on her daughter’s birthday November 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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EVEN AS A BABY, she was fiercely her own person.

Miranda didn’t snuggle. She cried way too much. In those early months, it was sometimes tough being her mother, dealing with a colicky infant while also nurturing my first-born, only 21 months older.

But that all seems so long ago now that my second daughter is turning 26 today.

Miranda and her dad, along the shore of Lake Winnebago near Appleton, when we last visited in October.

Miranda and her dad, along the shore of Lake Winnebago near Appleton in High Cliff State Park, when we last visited her in October.

Where have the years gone? I have asked myself that often this past year—the year in which my eldest daughter married, my 19-year-old son moved to Boston to attend college and my middle child, Miranda, is now edging away from 25. In many ways, it’s been a tough year for me as I adjust to life as an empty nester.

But then I consider my three and I can only be happy for them, proud of the independent adults they’ve become, seemingly content in their lives.

Take Miranda, the birthday girl. She’s lived and worked for the past three years as a Spanish medical interpreter in Appleton, Wisconsin, 300 miles from Faribault. She possesses a deep passion for her work and the people she serves. And there is nothing more noble in a job than to love what you do and to serve others.

Although I’m not privy to details due to patient confidentiality, I know Miranda has dealt with some difficult situations, interpreting for patients in hospital emergency rooms, physicians’ offices and elsewhere. It takes a special type of person to remain calm and professional and compassionate in the face of emotional stress and/or trauma. My daughter is all of those.

As a little girl, Miranda was all girly girl, wearing only skirts and donning ribbons in her hair. She also loved horses, including her stick horse, shown here in a photo taken when she was 5 1/2.

As a little girl, Miranda was all girly girl, wearing only skirts and donning ribbons in her hair. She also loved horses, including her stick horse, shown here in a photo taken when she was 5 1/2.

I wonder, sometimes, if that core strength and heartfelt empathy come from her own experiences. At age four, she underwent hernia surgery. Even now I can visualize my darling curly haired girl walking down the hospital hallway to the operating room, Big Bird clutched in one hand, the other hand held by a nurse. My preschooler never cried. I did.

And then, years later, she was diagnosed with scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine) and wore a full torso back brace 24/7 for a year. That time we both cried at the diagnosis. But Miranda soldiered on and never complained although I know it had to be difficult for her. Life’s challenges often make us stronger.

Miranda is undeniably strong and independent. She’s studied, interned and vacationed in Argentina. On her second trip of three to South America, she was mugged. Not assaulted, thankfully. Thousands of miles away, I felt utterly helpless. Miranda managed, with the help of friends and my assistance back home, to work through the situation.

I need only look back at the baby and preschooler she was to see the roots of her independence and strength. I remember how, as a preschooler, Miranda would tell me to “go away” when she was playing alone in the toy room, now my office. So I would turn around and walk away, only semi understanding her desire for solitude.

That, I suppose, was the beginning of the letting go. As mothers, that is our ultimate goal—to let our children go. It is not easy, but that is our job from the moment they are born. I eased Miranda onto that path of independence early on, as much for myself as for her, by sending her to bible camp every summer, supporting her decisions to go on multiple mission trips (including two to clean up after Hurricane Katrina), sucking up my own worry and enthusing about her time in Argentina, and now, even though I wish she lived nearer than 300 miles away, accepting that she’s happy where she’s at in her life.

Now, on my daughter’s 26th birthday, I reflect on this beautiful young woman her dad and I raised. Miranda is a woman of faith, caring and compassionate and kind and giving, and, bonus, a darned good cook. Whenever we visit, she treats us to delicious home-cooked ethnic food. She worked two summers in the Concordia Spanish Language Village kitchen near Bemidji, where she learned to cook. I failed her in that skill.

But I succeeded where it counts, and that is in raising my girl to cherish God, family and friends and to pursue her passions in life.

Please join me in wishing Miranda a happy 26th birthday.

Happy birthday, Tib! I love you now and forever.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Personalizing a wedding: It’s in the details October 9, 2013

I PROMISED YOU no more photos from my daughter’s wedding.

But now I must break that promise because of Stacey, who lives in southern Minnesota and blogs at down to earth digs. (Check out Stacey’s incredible earthy and artsy homespun single-photo posts by clicking here.)

Anyway, when Stacey wrote the following comment on one of my wedding posts, I just knew I had to show you some of the details that shaped Amber and Marc’s September 22 wedding.

I think this is the most lovely, simply elegant wedding…so sweetly simple with amazing little details that were just perfect…the dress—so special, so beautiful…so perfectly worn by a beautiful bride.

Love the suits—not rented tuxedos….Love the setting of that historic building. The adorable card suitcase…the chalkboard…just wonderful!

The flowers—amazing! Ahhh, dusty miller in the bouquets…so pretty!

Yes, Stacey, an avid gardener and appreciator of all things simple and beautiful, understands the importance of details in comprising the whole, in shaping a setting and mood.

That said, let’s look back at wedding prep and the personal choices that, together, created, as Stacey says, a simply lovely, sweet and elegant wedding.

The bride's decision to shop for her dress at a vintage bridal shop in Minneapolis set the tone for the entire wedding.

The bride’s decision to shop for her dress at a vintage bridal shop in Minneapolis set the tone for the entire wedding. The bridal shop is housed in a former garage. Amber’s dad, my husband, is an automotive machinist. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Once the dress, a second-hand vintage replica gown, was chosen, Nikolina helped Amber envision the dress redone to suit Amber. She suggested adding a sash, which was the perfect addition to emphasize Amber's tiny waist and update the dress.

Once the dress, a second-hand vintage replica gown, was chosen, Nikolina (who runs Andrea’s Vintage Bridal with her mom, Andrea) helped Amber envision the dress redone. Nikolina suggested updating the dress with a satin sash, the perfect addition to emphasize Amber’s slim frame and tiny waist. The gown had to be taken in some, too.

Nikolina checked out the hem-line, which did not need to be adjusted, saving Amber lots of dollars in alterations. Hemming, we were told, is typically the most costly alteration. The beaded details and the flow of this body-hugging dress made it simply elegant.

Nikolina checks the hem-line, which did not need to be adjusted, saving Amber lots of dollars in alterations. Hemming, we were told, is typically the most costly alteration. The beaded details and the flow of this body-hugging dress create an elegant look.

When Amber initially chose plain navy blue pumps to wear with her wedding gown, I had to zip my lips, sort of. They were her "something blue," but I thought the wrong choice. I said something like "just make sure they don't show in photos." Eventually she changed her mind and chose these lovely bow-detailed and classy shoes. She had her toenails painted blue for the "something blue."

When Amber initially chose navy blue pumps to wear with her wedding gown, I had to zip my lips, sort of. They were her “something blue,” but I thought the wrong choice. I said, “Just make sure they don’t show in photos.” Eventually she changed her mind and purchased these lovely bow-detailed and classy heels. She had her toenails painted blue for the “something blue.”

Amber and Marc wanted to honor their parents and grandparents at their wedding reception and did so with wedding day portraits, like this of my parents, Elvern and Arlene, married on September 25, 1954.

Amber and Marc wanted to honor their parents and grandparents at their wedding reception and did so with wedding day portraits, including this of my parents, Elvern and Arlene, married on September 25, 1954.

Choosing flowers is no easy task. Amber and Marc researched online and in books.

Choosing flowers is no easy task. Amber and Marc researched online and in books looking for the right mix of colors and textures and design to shape the vision they wanted for their wedding. Tie selection is also important, finding just the right colors.

Ideas for bridesmaids' bouquets.

Ideas for bridesmaids’ bouquets. Notice the details, too, in the bridesmaid dress with the shirring at the waist and the tie. The dresses were custom made by Hong Kong based Mermaid Bridal.

Armed with information Amber had emailed, my floral designer sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, arrived at our home with fresh flowers and ideas.

Armed with information Amber had emailed, my floral designer sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, arrived at our home with fresh flowers and ideas for the couple to consider. Check my blog posts for the stunning results.

The bridal couple and the father-of-the-bride worked on table numbers for the vintage blue canning jars that would grace tables at the reception. The choice of these jars followed the vintage theme and the color scheme for the wedding.

The bridal couple and the father-of-the-bride tie pink paper hearts on vintage blue canning jars for bridesmaids’ bouquets. The choice of these jars for bouquets and floral centerpieces followed the vintage theme and the muted blue/pink/green/grey color scheme for the wedding.

The historic Bachrach Building in downtown Faribault was the perfect venue for the wedding couple's vision of their reception. However, about a month before the wedding, I noticed that the flowers in the outside urns were mostly dead or dying. When I mentioned this to Amber, she admonished me to drop the idea of replacing the flowers because she did not want to spend more time and money on this. Because first impressions count, I contacted my floral designer sister. Together we hatched a no-cost easy plan to beautify the urns. I clipped nearly 40 hydrangea from my yard. Lanae brought ornamental kale, curly willow and greens from hers. She transformed the urns into stunning floral masterpieces that impress.

The historic Bachrach Building in downtown Faribault was the perfect venue for the wedding couple’s vision of their reception. However, about a month before the wedding, I noticed that the flowers in the outside urns were mostly dead or dying. When I mentioned this to the bride-to-be, she admonished me to drop the idea of replacing the flowers because she did not want to spend more time and money.  I quietly overrode her decision, which I would not typically advise. But, because first impressions count, I contacted my floral designer sister. Together we hatched a no-cost easy plan to beautify the urns. I clipped nearly 40 hydrangea from my yard. Lanae brought ornamental kale, curly willow and greens from hers. She transformed the urns into stunning floral masterpieces as shown here. The bits of purple peeking out are the petunias which had been planted in the urns.

The couple arrives at the reception venue in the Bachrach Building in historic downtown Faribault. The social hour was held in the first floor Atrium and the reception in the second floor The Loft. The exterior floral pieces were created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography of Minneapolis.

The couple wanted a sign out front to direct guests into the reception venue. The folks at The Cheese Cave, which is housed inside the Bachrach complex, kindly lent their sandwich chalkboard to us for the reception. Amber told me to write “Schmidt wedding” on the board. I added the hearts and the “A + M” detail inside the bottom heart, using two of the wedding colors, pink and green. Details, remember. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography of Minneapolis.

Mini chalkboards were used elsewhere throughout the reception venue, here to label the cheeses purchased at The Cheese Cave. The bride and groom wanted to showcase fine locally-made and/or aged cheeses.

Mini chalkboards were used elsewhere throughout the reception venue, here to label cheese purchased at The Cheese Cave. The bride and groom wanted to showcase fine locally-made and/or cave-aged cheeses. This photo does not show the actual set-up at the reception, but rather a shot I propped at home.

A "sweetheart table" just for the bride and groom. It's covered in one of the vintage tablecloths from my collection. The table was purchased for $15 months ago at a Montgomery, Minnesota, used furniture store. At the time of purchase, my husband asked why I was buying it. "Because I like it," I told him then. Little did we know our daughter would use if for her wedding.

Great care went in to selecting the vintage tablecloth for the bride and groom’s sweetheart table. I collect vintage tablecloths and pulled out those that matched the wedding color scheme of muted blue, pink, green and grey.  The bride selected this one from among several. The wine glasses came from the groom’s paternal grandparents and are engraved with the Schmidt family name.

Card gift boxes, in my opinion, are not exactly original. So the bride and I came up with an idea that was simple and vintage and personal. Here Amber attaches CARDS letters to jute with clothespins from my clothespin bag.

Card gift boxes, in my opinion, are not exactly original and rather boring. So the bride and I came up with an idea that was simple and vintage and personal. Here Amber attaches CARDS letters she made, to jute with clothespins from my clothespin bag.

And then the jute string of letters was hot glue gunned inside the bride's dad's vintage 1970s suitcase.

And then the jute string of letters was hot glue gunned inside the bride’s dad’s vintage 1970s suitcase, a suitcase used by the bride, too, when she was growing up. Not only was this vintage chic, but many memories are attached to this converted suitcase.

First the bride considered using old picture frames to hold guests' seating place cards. But then I remembered two old barn window frames stashed in our garage. One came from the Helbling family farm, where my husband grew up, and the other from my childhood farm. Perfect.

First Amber considered using old picture frames to hold guests’ seating place cards. But then I remembered two old barn window frames stashed in our garage for nearly 20 years. The one on the right came from the Helbling family farm, where my husband grew up, and the other from the Kletscher family farm, my childhood farm. Perfect. Meaningful and unique.

Name cards that the bride and groom created were attached to the old barn windows via jute and clothespins.

Name cards that the bride and groom created were attached to the old barn windows with jute and clothespins.

And all the "stuff" that went into creating the envisioned wedding and reception, mostly crammed right there into the back of the bride's parents' van.

All the “stuff” that went into creating the envisioned wedding and reception was mostly crammed into the back of the bride’s parents’ van. There are linens and vintage canning jars and window frames and tables and more inside the morning after the wedding. Hauling everything to the reception venue, because it had to be carefully packed, took three or four trips.

FYI: To see the end results of the above detailed planning, check my Minnesota Prairie Roots archives from September 23 – October 2. Or click here to view professional wedding photos at Rochelle Louise Photography.

To see the offerings from MermaidBridal, click here.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Love one another: Amber & Marc’s wedding day September 30, 2013

Trinity Lutheran Church, decorated with ferns from my friend, Mike, and with hydrangea pew flowers created by my floral designer sister. Trinity is our family's church, where the bride was baptized and confirmed and attended Christian Day School.

Trinity Lutheran Church, decorated with ferns from my friend, Mike, and with hydrangea pew flowers by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Trinity is our family’s church, where the bride was baptized and confirmed and attended Faribault Lutheran School.

Dear friends, since God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.—John 4:11

LOVE. GOD’S LOVE. The young couple’s love for one another. Love brought family and friends together at 4 p.m. Sunday, September 22, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault, Minnesota, to witness the marriage of my daughter, Amber, and her now husband, Marc.

I love that they chose Sunday as their wedding day, although I know not all invited guests were pleased.

Amber and Marc. Photo by Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography.

Amber and Marc. Photo by and courtesy of Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography.

But Sunday, a day of rest, a day set aside for the Lord, seemed the perfect day for this couple to unite in marriage. Their faith has been an important part of their relationship from the beginning and will center their lives together.

John 4:11 was among their chosen Scripture readings.

Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt are absolutely, incredibly, in love. Photo by Rochelle Louise Photography.

Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt are absolutely, incredibly, in love. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

They also chose, rather than to light a unity candle or pour sand from two containers into one, to share Communion. Just the two of them. The pastor noted in his message, how he appreciated this decision, how years ago Communion was a part of most Lutheran wedding services.

When the young couple partook of The Lord’s Supper together for the first time as husband and wife, tears edged into my eyes, just as they had earlier when my husband walked his daughter down the aisle. It was an emotional moment.

And even though the mother-of-the-groom vowed that she would not cry—and she didn’t—I would not, could not, make that promise. For I knew I would never keep it.

BEFORE THE WEDDING SNAPSHOTS:

The bride and her attendants with the stunning bouquets created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

The bride and her attendants with the stunning bouquets created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

The bridal party awaits the beginning of their photo shoot.

The bridal party awaits the beginning of their photo shoot. The second-hand bridal gown was purchased at Andrea’s Vintage Bridal in Minneapolis. The bridesmaids’ dresses were custom made by dressmakers in Hong Kong (I think) and purchased through etsey.

When my daughter tried on this dress, we all knew, just knew, it was the one for her. She had it taken in and a sash added with no other alterations made.

When my daughter tried on this beaded replica vintage dress, we all knew, just knew, it was the one for her. She had it taken in and a sash added with no other alterations.

Sister of the bride and maid of honor, Miranda.

Sister of the bride and maid of honor, Miranda.

A single hydrangea adorned each pew.

A single hydrangea adorned every other pew.

The wedding party heads outside for photos. No, I did not follow out of respect for the professional photographer.

The wedding party heads outside for photos. No, I did not follow out of respect for the professional photographers and at the bridal couple’s request. It’s best to stay out of the way. Because of that, dear readers, I took no formal wedding couple/group shots.

The flowers, oh, the flowers. My beyond talented sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, created the bouquets.

The flowers, oh, the flowers. My beyond talented sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, created the bouquets.

FYI: Please click here to check out the work of Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography. This husband-wife team set a serene mood for the photo sessions with their relaxed and confident attitudes. I cannot wait to see the remaining results of their nine hours covering Amber and Marc’s wedding. From this first glimpse of their work in three of the photos so credited above, I am beyond impressed. Thank you, Rochelle and Tom. When you click onto Rochelle’s website, also click onto her blog to view her take on Amber and Marc’s wedding and some of her favorite photos.

Click here to reach Waseca Floral, where my sister, Lanae Feser, works as head designer.

To learn more about Andrea’s Vintage Bridal in Minneapolis, click here.

To view previous “My daughter’s wedding” posts, click here and then here and also here.

Two more wedding posts will be forthcoming.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photos by Rochelle Louise Photography are copyrighted and published here with permission.

 

Before the wedding, in black & white September 27, 2013

ARRIVING AT TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH in Faribault prior to the appointed family photo time at my daughter’s wedding on Sunday, September 22, I managed to sneak in a few photos without intruding. I hope.

Randy and I had come a bit earlier than we were supposed to be there. But I figured the parents could bend the rules ever so slightly as long as I stayed inside the church and did not follow the wedding party outdoors for the professional photo shoot.

Here are a few of my favorite pre-ceremony images, converted to black and white:

My daughter Amber, the bride.

My daughter Amber, the bride.

The bride lifts up her dress as she walks through the narthex.

The bride lifts her dress as she walks through the narthex.

Details inside the women's dressing/prep room.

Details inside the women’s dressing/prep room.

Miranda, the maid of honor, poses for a snapshot in the women's dressing room.

Miranda, the maid of honor, poses for a snapshot in the women’s dressing room.

Barb, the pianist, practices.

Barb, the pianist, practices.

Tim, an usher, waits.

Tim, an usher, waits.

And back in the changing room, the bride uses her smart phone.

And back in the changing room, the bride uses her smart phone.

On Monday I’ll bring you more images shot before the service, this time in color, including long-awaited (at least I think you’re waiting) photos of the bridal gown.

FYI: Click here and here to see the first two posts in this “My daughter’s wedding” series.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Veiling the bride, my daughter September 25, 2013

I REALLY WANTED TO BE THERE, to photograph my daughter, the bride-to-be, as she was getting her hair done on the morning of her Sunday, September 22, wedding.

But I couldn’t be in two places at one time. Setting up the rest of the reception venue, the part that couldn’t be done until the last minute, took top priority.

Thankfully, though, Amber’s bridal veil had not been put in place before I returned home to prepare lunch for the bridesmaids and personal attendants and the groom’s sister-in-law and my own family. I’d made barbecued pulled pork days earlier, had fruit cut up the evening before, cookies baked and only needed to throw together a lettuce salad at the last minute. My wonderful husband, Randy, assisted, easing the stress.

The first fitting of the veil.

The first fitting of the veil.

In between, I stole away a few minutes to photograph Amber being fitted with her bird-cage veil. I think that’s the proper term for the veil she purchased second-hand, the perfect fashion fit for her second-hand vintage replica dress. (Click here to read about shopping for a bridal gown at Andrea’s Vintage Bridal in Minneapolis.)

Moving in close; my daughter is used to me moving in with my camera.

My daughter is used to me moving in close with my camera.

As Alli, the professional hair stylist and a former classmate of Amber’s, angled the veil into position and then secured it, I literally got in my daughter’s face to photograph these moments in the upstairs bedroom she once shared with her sister and maid-of-honor, Miranda.

The bride, Amber, checks out the veil placement as her sister Miranda, left to right, future sister-in-law Stephani and mother-of-the-groom Lynn watch.

The bride, Amber, checks out the veil placement as her sister Miranda, left to right, future sister-in-law Stephani and mother-of-the-groom, Lynn, watch.

It was an emotional moment for me, for all of us in the room—Miranda and Amber and the groom’s mother, Lynn, and the groom’s sister-in-law, Stephani. And Alli, too.

Allie works the veil in to place.

Alli works the veil in to place.

Probably my favorite photo for the light and the  look.

Alli works her magic on Amber. Probably my favorite photo for the light and the serene look on the bride’s face.

We could feel it. We could see it.  We could hear it. Pure happiness in the bride’s face, in her eyes, in her grateful words.

The lovely back of the bride's hair do.

The lovely back of the bride’s hair do.

And later, after the others were done with their hair and lunch and most of them gone, and Alli was about to leave, I asked if she could do my hair. Last minute. So she pulled her tools from a cloth bag, plugged in the curling iron and I sat on the bathroom stool as she curled my hair.

Then, an hour before leaving for the wedding, I finally had time to sit down and polish my fingernails. Last minute, before slipping into my dress and heels for my eldest daughter’s wedding.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The maid-of-honor, my daughter Miranda, carries her sister's wedding gown to her car.

The maid-of-honor, my daughter Miranda, carries her sister’s wedding gown to her car.

Miranda carefully lifts the beaded replica vintage bridal gown for placement inside her car.

Miranda carefully lifts the beaded replica vintage bridal gown for placement inside her car. Look at the incredible “do” Alli created with Miranda’s curly hair. Alli said it’s her favorite style of any she’s ever done.

The sisters, my daughters, load wedding item necessities and Amber's belongings into the car. They joked about their plaid shirts.

The sisters, my daughters, load wedding item necessities and Amber’s belongings into the car. They joked about their plaid shirts.

The sisters buckle up and pose for one last photo before driving to church.

The sisters buckle up and pose for one last photo before driving to church. I would see them two hours later, per the bride and groom’s request that the parents stay clear of the church until family photo time.

CLICK HERE TO READ my first wedding post. Please check back for more wedding photos.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

My daughter gets married September 23, 2013

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Wedding sign

MORE PHOTOS TO COME, dear readers. But for now, this mother-of-the-bride is too exhausted to choose and edit images.

In synopsis: The wedding ceremony was beautiful, the bride gorgeous, the groom beaming, the venue elegant, the food outstanding and the celebration with family and friends absolutely the best.

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Showering the bride-to-be (my daughter) with gifts & love August 6, 2013

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MY HUSBAND’S ELDEST SISTER suggested early on that I put away my camera.

But how could I, with no other camera in sight, set aside my Canon and simply allow the events of the afternoon to imprint upon my memory only?

Guests filled the living room and spilled into the dining room for my daughter's Saturday afternoon bridal shower.

Guests fill the living room and spill into the dining room for my daughter’s Saturday afternoon bridal shower.

I needed to visually capture these moments in which my eldest daughter, Amber, was showered with gifts and love at her bridal shower.

The bride-to-be opens gits.

When I look back now on these images, I remember the laughter, the emotions, the excitement, the joy, the delight that comes in knowing your daughter has grown in to this incredible young woman who is head-over-heels in love…

Shower, gift

White lace and white bows.

My floral designer sister Lanae created these bouquets, which include flowers that will be among the wedding flowers.

My floral designer sister Lanae created these bouquets, which include blooms that will be among the wedding flowers.

Flowers and chocolate and “fu fu.”

The most emotional moment of the shower came when Amber opened linens hand embroidered by her future husband's maternal grandmother, who died in 1992. She embroidered the linens to be gifted to her grandson's future bride.

The most emotional moment of the afternoon came when Amber opened linens hand embroidered by her future husband’s maternal grandmother, Beatrice (who died decades ago). The linens were to be gifted someday to Beatrice’s grandson’s bride-to-be. And this was the day when my daughter’s future mother-in-law delivered the precious packages. The embroidered hues of the flowers are the wedding couple’s colors, making this gift even more remarkable as Grandma Beatrice could not have known this.

Linens, a legacy of love and tears.

The gift of a clothes hamper prompted me to share that 30-plus years ago, the aunts on my father's side always gifted brides-to-be with a hamper and a bathroom scale.

The gift of a clothes hamper prompted me to share that 30-plus years ago, the aunts on my father’s side always gifted brides-to-be with a hamper and a bathroom scale. After much laughter, the group consensus was that a scale would not be a welcome gift. Times have changed. I still have my brown hamper, which looks quite similar to my daughter’s, but not the scale. That broke years ago.

Pots and pans and knives. A hamper for their clothes. The tools to create their new home.

Shower, recipe

Her husband-to-be’s favorite recipes handwritten by his mother, Lynn, who flew in from California for the bridal shower.

Personal messages written from the heart inside cards.

Hugs and well wishes.

Wishes shared...and read.

And lovely words to read.

She was gifted with a personalized bag bearing her new last name of Schmidt.

She was gifted with towels and a personalized bag bearing her new last name of Schmidt.

Soon Amber Helbling will become Amber Schmidt.

The bride-to-be with her soon-to-be husband.

Amber and Marc

My daughter. My sweet girl. All grown up. And, oh, so in love with Marc.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The wonderful family and friends who gathered at my sister-in-law Joanne's house for the bridal shower.

The wonderful family and friends who gathered at my sister-in-law Joanne’s house for the bridal shower.

As always, my floral designer sister created a beautiful gift package.

As always, my floral designer sister created a beautiful gift package.

The delicious food, especially the dessert on the right. That's my 81-year-old mom to the right. She traveled several hours to attend her granddaughter's shower.

The delicious food, especially the dessert on the right made by my husband’s eldest sister. That’s my 81-year-old mom to the right. She traveled several hours from southwestern Minnesota to attend her granddaughter’s shower.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The proposal March 20, 2013

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HE ASKED.

She said, “Yes!”

And I’m going to be the mother-of-the-bride.

Monday evening, on the one-year anniversary of dating, Marc proposed to my eldest, Amber.

Marc and Amber, newly-engaged and celebrating at the St. Paul Grill. Marc ordered a steak, saying, "That is what a man does after he asks a woman to marry him."

Marc and Amber, newly-engaged and celebrating at the St. Paul Grill. Marc ordered a steak, saying, “That is what a man does after he asks a woman to marry him.”

I am excited and happy and thrilled, all those joyful words reserved for those occasions when you feel blessed beyond measure.

I am going to be a mother-in-law, welcoming a wonderful son-in-law into our family. Marc is all I could ever hope for in my daughter’s husband. He is a man of faith. He loves and cherishes my girl and makes her incredibly happy.

From the first photo I saw of the two of them together, I knew, just knew, they were totally head over heels in love. I could see it in their eyes, in their broad smiles, in the way they leaned into one another. I just knew.

Amber and Marc in Bakersfield, Ca., Marc's hometown.

Amber and Marc in Bakersfield, Ca., Marc’s hometown.

For months they long-distance dated, flying back and forth between LA and Minneapolis. The time between visits grew shorter until, finally, Marc relocated to St. Paul last October, shortening their dating miles to the drive between the Twin Cities.

I understood, with absolute certainty then, that this relationship would result in an eventual proposal of marriage.

The ring.

The ring. Beautiful.

The obvious question, then, is how did these two, a native Minnesotan and a native Californian, meet? Beth, a college friend (of Amber) who lives in California and who met Marc via another college friend, thought the two would be a good match. Text messages, Facebook exchanges and phone conversations preceded their first date in March of last year.

I became aware of Marc only after Amber, who had visited Beth in the fall of 2011, announced in March 2012 that she was flying to California. Again.

“Why would you want to go to California?” I inquired of her. “You were just there.”

“Well, there’s this boy…”

Now that boy will become my daughter’s husband.

I snapped this photo of Marc and Amber walking across the parking lot at Faribault High School after my son's graduation in early June. It's one of my favorite images of the couple.

I snapped this photo of Marc and Amber walking across the parking lot at Faribault High School after my son’s graduation in early June. It’s one of my favorite images of the couple just because, ya know, it’s so sweet. Now they are walking into their future together.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photos courtesy of Amber and Marc

 

Twenty-five years ago this beautiful daughter came into my life November 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:15 AM
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Miranda, almost two, eating chocolate cake.

MY SECOND BORN of three, Miranda, turns 25 today.

What does a mother write about her girl that truly encompasses all her daughter has become as a young woman?

Miranda celebrates the Argentine World Cup soccer victory at Plaza de la Republica in Buenos Aires. The balloon is soccer legend Diego Maradona, at that time the coach of Argentina’s national team. She’s lived in Buenos Aires twice.

I will tell you that my dear daughter is kind and compassionate, adventuresome and fearless (except for spiders), a woman of faith, soft-spoken, yet there to speak for those whose voices need to be heard.

She works as a Spanish medical interpreter and has a heart for helping non-English speaking Hispanics in northeastern Wisconsin. It is an important job. Her ability to interpret under time and emotional pressures impresses me. She cares. Deeply.

Yet, it is that very profession which keeps my girl away from Minnesota. Because she is on call so often, including many nights, weekends and holidays, she is able to make the 5 ½-hour trip back home only several times a year. Likewise, those hours limit times my husband and I can visit our daughter.

Time with her is precious. Just like our daughter. Precious.

A photo of Miranda when she was back in Minnesota in June for her brother’s high school graduation.

Happy birthday, Miranda/Tib! We love you now and forever and miss you and if you were here, I would bake you a chocolate cake.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Happy birthday, Miranda! November 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:16 PM
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Miranda, five days old

MY SECOND BORN turned 24 today.

Miranda lives 5 ½ hours away in eastern Wisconsin so I had to settle for texting a birthday wish to her this morning. Finally, around 4:30 p.m., she got back to me after a long work day that began at 4:30 a.m. She had to be at an area hospital by 6 a.m. to interpret for a Spanish-speaking patient undergoing surgery.

She didn’t have much time to chat; her friend Greg was arriving soon and they were going out for a birthday dinner. Miranda hadn’t eaten all day and she was hungry.

Afterward she was having friends over to celebrate. One of them, Gerardo, planned to bring the cake.

I don’t know if they ate any of the cake. But my husband, who just talked to our daughter, told me the cake was smashed in her face. Knowing several of the invited guests, I expect it was Julio’s idea. Miranda said she saw it coming.

Now I don’t think I’d much like a cake or pie or anything smashed in my face. But I’m not 24 either.

I had to think for a minute today about exactly how old my daughter was.

“Mom, you don’t know how old I am?” she asked, a strong tone of disbelief tingeing her question.

I had to do the math quick-like in my head. I didn’t tell her, but thought, “I can’t even remember how old I am sometimes.”

And sometimes I find it hard to believe that my two daughters are in their 20s, my son turning 18 in a few months. Where did the years go? Honestly.

No one smashed cake into Miranda's face when she was almost two; she managed this all on her own.

Miranda with her Little Mermaid birthday cake on her fifth birthday in 1992. That's a troll she's clutching and a homemade birthday hat with her nickname, Tib (after Tib in the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace). Everyone loved Miranda's curly hair.