Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When the granddaughter stays over February 4, 2019

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IN THE LIVING ROOM, a ballerina guides a train along tracks…



then dances across the carpet, tulle flaring as applause roar.



In the kitchen, an elephant stomps. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. Then asks for a cookie.



Along the river bank, snowboots slap on wet pavement edging the river and the ice-boxed rushing waterfall. The need to walk, to run, to just be outdoors prevails following days of near record-breaking brutal cold.



Then, beneath the bridge along the recreational trail, vehicles thump overhead while three walk, one trailing.



Back inside the house, two snuggle under a fleece and blue jeans blanket and read of baby robins and bunnies and warm days of spring.

Then preschool arms reach, wrap around neck and speak the sweetest of words. “I love you, Grandma!”

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


What a joy to watch Izzy grow September 15, 2017

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My granddaughter Isabelle.


I WONDER SOMETIMES HOW I, a woman who has birthed and raised three children, can find such novelty in the transition of a baby girl into her own person.


Izzy stole Grandpa’s lawn chair and settled in for a few seconds.


But every time I see my 17-month-old granddaughter, I delight in the new things she can do. Her personality is emerging with each skill learned, each developmental stage reached, each step of independence. And it’s a joy to watch.


And then Grandpa found an Izzy sized lawn chair in the garage, saved from when our kids were little.


I’ve seen it all before. Thrice. But this is different because I’m not the mom. I’m the so-in-love grandma.


My eldest, Amber, helps her daughter with a bubble blower because Isabelle wants to blow bubbles all by herself.


This time the let me do it attitude charms.


Grandpa stands nearby just in case Izzy needs help. She didn’t.


The climbing onto and off an adult-sized lawn chair is not dangerous, but applause worthy.


I love this sweet photo of two of my three children (Caleb and Amber) and darling Isabelle back in Faribault for a recent family reunion. Caleb flew in from Boston for a long weekend. Our other daughter, who lives in northeastern Wisconsin, was already gone when I shot this portrait.


In my eyes, I see only a sweet little girl whom I adore with a love I never imagined.


Getting a 17-month-old and her uncle to sit still is not always easy. But I find the photo still endearing.


I love being a grandma.


© Copyright 2017 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