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NWI Parent
NWI Parent

And so it begins

July 6th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

Eli didn’t take an afternoon nap. I had a particularly long day that started too early (thanks, Eli!), I worked a lot, tried to keep up with the house, did some laundry, played with the baby, took care of the big kids. I was so tired.

Brian and Noah had to leave for Noah’s baseball practice, so it was just me, Eli the Grouch and Anna.

We needed a few essentials from the store, like milk, cereal, fruit and Devil Cremes.

So, the three of us hopped in the car and headed to Walmart.

Now, I could easily name about 519 places I’d rather be than Walmart, but you know, a Mama’s gotta do what a Mama’s gotta do.

We had a fair time. Eli played with every other customer in the store, I pointed out important things like “doritos!” and “ice cream!” Anna asked for important things like Barbies and flashlights and then we headed towards the very long checkout lines.

In the next lane was another pregnant woman with two kids. Eli started playing with her son. It was so cute. Then she asked “when are you due?”

“Early October,” I responded. Now, I’m the type of pregnant lady that owns up to her due date. I don’t try to shorten it or wish anything away. If my due date is October 12th, I say “October 12th.” I don’t say “probably late September because I’m the size of an elephant, apparently.” I just answer what I am asked. So the fact that I said early October, was actually strange for me to say.

Her mouth opened. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head and she just sat and stared directly at my belly. Like I was a freak of nature. She looked at me as if I had just told her I spent $139 on a pair of socks. or as if I had a palm tree growing out of my shoulder.

It was so rude, so uncomfortable for me that I actually had to break her stare.

“WHEN ARE YOU DUE?” I said, trying to get her attention.

“I’m due in three weeks, but I hope it’s tomorrow,” she replied.

“Well, good luck.” I replied.

This happened last week, too. (also by another pregnant woman.)

Yes. I am large. I’m measuring 2-3 weeks bigger than a typical 26-weeker. And I’m okay with that.

The reactions, the horrible questions, they’re not just rude. They’re MEAN. And they make people sad. I am not okay with that.

So, just stop. Be nice. You wouldn’t say something like that to a non-pregnant person, so why say it to an emotionally unstable person who will take your words and let them eat her up alive?

I’ll tell you what. I walked in, my sciatica hurting, feeling nauseous.

And I walked out with my heart hurting.

Totally prefer the sciatic pain.

Filed under: parent.

Heat Wave

June 30th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

I’ve never been so hot in my life. Right now, we have no power and I’m watching the temperature on my thermostat rise. I have little beads of sweat on my forehead. This power outage has caused me to do outrageous things like fold laundry, make my bed, put my make up on and all before 9 in the morning.

It’s like a don’t know who I am anymore.

During every other pregnancy, I’ve been pregnant during the summer but only early in my pregnancy, this is my first pregnancy where I’ll be hugely pregnancy, waddling around in search of a pool or small body of water to jump into, fully clothed.

The funny thing is? I’m only 25 weeks pregnant and today is June 30th. Which leaves a lot more summer and a lot more growing and a lot more sweat.

I think I’ll be okay. I’ve already created a Heat Emergency Plan. For instance, rather than coffee, I’ll have iced coffee. Instead of toasted Pop Tarts, I’ll eat them cold, rather than turning on the oven for frozen pizza, I have Papa John’s number on speed dial and I’ve given my kids a detailed tutorial on how to properly place cool wash clothes all over my body.

Actually, this may be the best summer ever.

Filed under: parent.

Days

April 27th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

I wake up, way too early, probably because a baby is crying, a baby who is now a toddler but still, he smells like a baby, so he’s a baby. I often lay there and reflect on what day it is and what the plan is for the day and also how tired I am.

Throw my hair into a ponytail, brush my teeth, take my pills (because I’m 80), put my contacts in.

After that, for the next hour or so, it’s a big blur. All I know is that I have lots of work to catch up on, a house to clean, a child to take care of and big kids to get to school.

Eli and I usually have breakfast together. After that, he’s happy and I try to get some work done. Send out emails, usually. My mind is at it’s best in the morning, so it’s important I take advantage of that time. Especially since the rest of the day my mind is a giant bowl of mush.

Usually, he hangs out and just wants me, sometimes he plays for a bit. Eventually, I put him down for a nap, which means I have an hour to edit photos, create client galleries, write blog posts, clean the kitchen, clean the bathrooms, organize the house, pretend like someday I’ll wash the windows, make the bed, think about laundry…

but what actually happens is this:
I lay Eli down. Come downstairs, tidy up the kitchen, eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, refill my coffee, sit down at my computer, open up Lightroom to edit photos, it moves so slow that I move to the internet where I get distracted by FACEBOOKTWITTERPINTERESTCNNTHEWEATHERCHANNELOTHERBLOGSANDFLICKR.

Then Eli wakes up and I get frustrated by the internet and social media, I shake my fist at them and pretend I’ll never return but then I get distracted by someone’s wall post on Facebook and forget that I made that vow.

This happens basically every day.

Filed under: parent.

Photo Fail

April 17th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

As I type, Anna and Noah are browsing my Flickr stream checking out old photos from when they were younger. Back at our old house, where they played outside in our fenced in, shady backyard, they’d play and I’d take pictures without hesitation.

They’re finding photos from when they were in preschool, they’re seeing projects they completed and they’re reminiscing about the “good ol’ days.” (they seven and eight, c’mon!)

Photos from ordinary days, wearing ordinary clothes, doing ordinary things.

Things are so different now. We’ve moved, now our backyard is everybody’s backyard (living in the middle of the subdivision in NOT my favorite location), when they do play outside, there are always other children in the area and those are just my excuses. Most of the real reasons is that the ordinary moments are forgotten for me. I keep my eye out for exceptional, beautiful moments, the kind that take your breath away. The kind that do not happen enough.

And when I take the photos, I must edit them to perfection. But who has time? So, they sit on my hard drive, just waiting to be seen.

And my camera that I take out so often for professional sessions, sits collecting dust because I’m not recognizing what really, truly beautiful.

And that? Is the everyday. That? Is my family.

I’m challenging myself to take photos of my family everyday to capture the everyday. I challenge you to do the same.

Filed under: parent.

In her business

March 21st, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

I just had a conversation with my 8 year old daughter about drugs. Why. Who. Where. When. Everything I knew, I told her. She asked smart questions, I answered her smart questions the best I possibly could.

In the newspaper, I showed her a photo of a boy that used to be part of our life a few years ago. He would come to our house, have dinner with us (he was shy, so shy, but sweet, so sweet.) He was my niece’s boyfriend. They were in high school, Brian and I were married with two kids. They would come over and play with Anna and Noah.

Long story short, years went by, roads turned bad, drugs introduced. I can’t go into the deals of their lives because it’s not my story to tell. But we watched things get bad. Suicide attempts, an abusive relationship, details I don’t even know, details I’ll never know.

All I know, after 4 years of the two being together, the two broke up. My niece, now married, a Mom to two, and he? Well, he died this week. He overdosed on drugs. 22 years old and now he’s gone.

From my view, I felt like the parents’ role in his life was not strong enough. I had always felt that way. I’m not going to lie when I say that I felt that they failed him in many ways. I hate that I’m judging them, my heart aches for them, I just wish they had parented him and not friended him. I wish they knew they difference. I wish they knew better.

I played such a small role in his life, so small, yet even I feel like I failed him.

As I talked to Anna about his death and the evil power of drugs, I explained to her that this is why, even now, I ask questions about who she is talking to, making decisions about why she can or can not do something, I’m skeptical of children, I raise eyebrows, I listen to neighborhood kids, the way the talk in my driveway.

Brian and I let her know that we’ll always be in her business, we will always be in her business and it’s not because we want to control her it’s because we want her to live a long, healthy, happy life.

That’s our goal. Plain and simple.

Filed under: parent.

Where they go

March 9th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

Yikes. I’m pretty much embarrassed by how long it’s been since I’ve visited this spot on the internet. It really is one of my favorite places to go. But each week, it flies by and before I know it, I turn around and see this blog getting dusty. It makes me sad. Places to write should never become dusty, there’s always something to say, someone who listens.

Yesterday, we let the kids take the bus to school for the first time. They take it home from school but I always take them to school, one, because I like them to not have to rush around in the morning but two because selfishly, it’s one of those quiet moments, without TV, phones, internet, music, etc., where we sit and talk for the five miles it takes to get to school. We talk about whatever is on our minds and then when they exit the car, we say our I Love Yous and I always, always drive away with a happy heart.

Well, I had an appointment with my cardiologist in Chicago yesterday morning, so Brian thought maybe taking the bus was a good idea. I asked them if they were interested, I was sure they’d so “no.” Instead, they cheered and laughed and probably danced for a little too long.

When they came home from school, I asked how their trip into school was, you know, WITHOUT THEIR MOMMY, I was certain they’d say “we missed you, we want you to take us tomorrow.” Wrong again. They loved it. They asked, NO, they begged to take the bus again today.

I agreed, ever so reluctantly. So, this morning, I waited in the garage with them, Eli in my arms. The bus showed up down the street and they ran away, hoods on to protect themselves in the rain, climbed the bus and never turned back.

I took Eli inside, sat down on the couch with him and looked at the clock, 7:30. I couldn’t help but think about how when I take them to school, they don’t leave me until 8:00. I sat there and really, truly, missed seeing them for those extra thirty minutes. I wanted them back. I still do.

I’m not ready for the growing up and I realize I never will be.

Filed under: parent.

Usually torn

February 9th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

I hesitate to even clear my throat. I’m on the couch, Eli is playing with toys. He’s working so hard to fit shapes in the shape sorter, he just got frustrated because it didn’t work out the way he wanted. He’s smart and I’m going to go help him because that’s what I do.

I just tried to help, that made him smile and he’s continuing to play, without me, which is why I can’t even clear my throat because he’ll remember that i”m here and he’ll remember how much he likes to touch my laptop.

Working from home has become incredibly challenging. My to-do list continues to grow, Eli continues to demand and since he’s a tiny human with sweet cheeks and pudgy fingers and sounds like a chain-saw when he needs something, well, I tend to focus my attention on him more than my business.

Which is the way it should be, of course.

But you know, there are clients with expectations and I want to deliver excellent photos coupled with excellent service which is hard because, well, I’m next to a boy who right at this moment would like some yogurt and cheerios and, I’m just being a honest with you, he needs a diaper change.

However, he’s playing, still, by himself and no dirty diaper is going to cause me to break this party up. So, I’m going to work on this massive to-do list.

And that’s how I’m handling this moment. That’s how I’m working from home, I have no plan other than to work when I can and I’m not sure how long that plan is going to work but for now, it’s working.

I have the best of both worlds, that is, at least until my clients start sounding like a chainsaw, at which point, I have a very serious problem on my hands.

Filed under: parent.

Snow blown

February 2nd, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

As a child, we always had to do chores and I don’t mean that we were always doing chores, I just mean chores have always been part of our lives, which is important. (I try telling that to my kids and they just don’t buy it. Doggone them.)

We had four girls and two boys. The two boys were always treated a little uh…different than us girls. While we had to slave away in the kitchen, sweeping and making dinner, they were able to play video games and basically do nothing.

Except this isn’t necessarily true but as a child I’m pretty sure this is how I viewed it. I can remember when it snowed they were the one who were given the task to shovel the driveway. In my mind, that just meant they were able to go outside and play with shovels. They would go out there and shovel and built ten foot forts afterward as I sat in the kitchen and swept while wondering why my life was so unfair.

Us girls, we were always on kitchen duty and sometimes rather than tackling the job, we’d complain and moan and on more than one occasion we’d hide dishes in the oven. And on more than one occasion we got caught. But I’m pretty sure we saw that trick on The Cosby Show and it worked for Vanessa and Rudy and why won’t that work for us?

Anyway. When my brothers went outside, they would turn into human snow plows, I’m guessing they would create a plan of action, one that would be most efficient and would require the least amount of energy but still doing the absolute best job possible. Which meant before we knew it and while we were still shoving dishes into the oven, they were back inside playing on their Commodore 64.

My point is? My parents never had a reason to buy a snowblower. (or a dishwasher, ahem.) So, after my brothers went away to college and it snowed, I was all “I’ll shovel, it’s fun!” So, I bundled up and went outside and spent the next two hours shoveling and sweating and I think I died. It was not fun at all and I just wished I could be inside sweeping the floors.

A few weeks ago, I finally talked Brian into buying a snowblower because I had total recall of just how backbreaking and dumb shoveling is. I had only been talking to him about this for about seven years so when he actually did it, it was a day of victory for me.

(and for him.) He uses it often and comes inside and talks about how awesome it is and looks at the clock and says “TEN MINUTES, I DID THAT IN TEN MINUTES.”

One day, he was at work and had to head to school directly after work and I had to make a very urgent trip to Taco Bell, so I emailed him asking him how to use this device. It’s important for you to know this that I have actually never seen one in action. I mean, perhaps from my window as I saw a neighbor but all I saw was flying snow and minutes later their driveway would be clean.

My point is this.

I went outside, started that bad boy up and went about my business. It was like cutting through butter, I felt like a genius.

Until I turned back towards the house and all of the snow that had been flying so beautifully in the correct direction began flying towards my face, completely covering me in snow. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to make the snow switch directions, was it automatic? I just wanted to get back to the garage to figure it out.

By the time I got there, my face, pants, boots and coat were covered in snow, in fact, I considered plowing myself. I managed to get snow in the garage and all over the car. It was then that I made a very important decision.

Clearing the driving is for boys. Hiding dishes in the oven is for girls.

Filed under: parent.

Holding tight

January 27th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

Do you ever have days that you wish you could duplicate day after day after day?

Our lives, as of late, have been beyond busy. We’ve been overwhelmed by birthdays and birthday celebrations (because Dad had school and work on actual birthdays), birthday parties, birthday party preparations, photo sessions, talent show rehearsals, life…in general. All good things but still, I had been going nonstop for way too long and needed a day to be just normal.

I didn’t want easy, per se, just normal.

Yesterday I had one plan. Get in my yoga pants in the morning and stay in them until bedtime. I know. I aim high. The good news? I never had to change clothes or dress up or do anything with my hair.

The better news? After Brian came home from work, I took a 45 minute nap and woke up revitalize and determined to finish my to-do list.

We had dinner together, we had a cleaning party (much to the kids’ chagrin), baths, showers, dancing and work.

I laid down in bed feeling so happy with my day, feeling accomplished because I completed what I had set out to do and feeling complete because in the midst of it all…my family, we were together.

I’m acutely aware that someday, soon, our lives are going to be a million times busier and so yesterday, through the busy, I felt the calm that existed in our home and it was exactly what we all needed.

It’s something that I hope to feel more often. While we still can.

Filed under: parent.

Not a stripper

January 20th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

In five days, my daughter will be turning 8.
Let me tell you something about the number 8.
It feels like just yesterday that she was born. But it was 8 years ago.
Which means that tomorrow, she’ll be 16.
And I know this isn’t true except it sort of is because life is flying by, no matter how much I try to grab hold of it.
It keeps slipping from my hands, like a balloon, in the wind.

So, I’m holding on and also trying to be realistic and I am being totally real when I tell you that I am not really looking forward to the teenage years. I’m excited to see her graduate college, get a job, support herself, fall in love, get married, have kids, support her parents, etc…

But be a teenager? I am so scared.

It’s not like a was a wild teenager. I wasn’t. (usually) I rarely drank. (which is true.) I didn’t smoke. (all that much.) I was not interested at all in making out with boys (such a lie) and I never, ever, ever snuck out of the house. (that is totally true.)
(mostly)

So, I’m not sure exactly why I’m scared except that i blame Facebook. I read status updates by those girls in their teenage years, filled with angst and the f-word and I want to hide and run away.

But then sometimes, I see an update that isn’t about sex and it’s about college and it references literature and even uses punctuation (reeaaal punctuationnnnnnn!) and I think, yes, I’ll take one of those, please!

I know it doesn’t work that way. But, we have decided to have Anna start taking violin lessons simply because how many strippers have you ever heard say “I also play violin.

I rest my case.

Filed under: parent.

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