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NWI Parent
NWI Parent

Photographer and writer mom of two, Beth always brings a new twist to the suburban mundane.

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Failure to launch

January 7th, 2011 - By Beth Fletcher

Declutter.
Reorganize.
Simplify.

I love the way the first of the year gives everyone the feeling of starting fresh. Even though it’s just a date, nothing really changes, yet, most of us want to make big changes.

I want to make these changes but really, I need to make these changes. It astonishing to me that I actually run a business from my home without even a desk. I have no filing system, I have items in the garage, my laundry room, my kitchen, living room, my basement and my car. When it comes time to meet with a client I am completely and totally overwhelmed and almost always forget something.

I feel a little like a homeless person running a business from my shopping cart except not as organized.

We need to make a change but it can’t be too drastic because we just don’t have the space for a drastic change. Eli, my little nine month old, is now extremely mobile and likes to play with anything that is not a toy. He crawls, pulls himself up, plays with DVD players and has a keen eye for spotting electrical cords which are scattered all over our living room.

Don’t blame us. Two weeks ago he would just randomly roll all over the place and wherever he landed, he would sit up and play. Now, he gets up on his knees and hands, scopes out the lay of the land and sets his eyes on the teeny tiny piece of plastic nine feet away that the vacuum cleaner didn’t pick up when we vacuumed five minutes before.

And he does this every four minutes.

What does this have to do with getting organized?

I need my new workspace to be in the living room but away from Eli’s play area, I need his play area to not contain plugs, wires, DVD players or Polly Pockets and I need my area to not be cluttered which is impossible because my house is a giant pile of clutter. My workspace must be near Eli, there is no way around it.

Beginning today, I’ll have an actual work computer…which I think will be the start to a life less cluttered, which I so desperately need.

I’m going to attempt what I feel is the impossible, I’m going to integrate my work with my family and try to do the best with both worlds.

Is this possible?

Man, I hope so.

Filed under: parent.

Mama love

December 7th, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

I have this baby boy who absolutely adores his Mom.

Anna was so independent as a child but she definitely preferred to be in her Mama’s arms, but Noah arrived before she turned one so her attention was quickly shared. She usually threw fits when I was leaving to go somewhere, even if I was just going outside to mow the lawn. (which I often did to “get away” back then.) To this day, Anna still prefers her Mom and is sometimes a little too clingy for my liking but really I do like it because someday, she’ll pretend I don’t exist.

Noah always shared this attention. He loved being with his Mom or his Dad and he’s still very much the same way. It’s peaceful and I love that he’s just as comforted with his Dad than with his Mom.

Eli, well, he loves his Mom. He cries for me when I’m not around. He cries when I walk out of a room, he watches me when he’s supposed to be playing with his toys. He watches me, well, always. Eli always knows when I’m not around and I always know when he needs me because he cries out for me.

(don’t get me wrong, Eli loves everyone but he really seems to be comforted by just my presence but his preference is, of course, in my arms.)

It’s interesting how when we dreamed of having a baby, throughout all of the heartbreak and prayers of our past, I only envisioned my love for my baby, how badly he or she was wanted, how much we would love him or her, hug, teach, play…

but I guess I forgot to picture the other side of it. I never really thought about how much this little baby would love us back, I never thought about us having a mutual loving relationship, both us us needing each other.

Some days are so hard when all he wants is his Mom, especially lately, as he’s been sick. But to know that behind the tears and the neediness is simply his love, well, I’m not going to lie. It’s special.

And I like it. A lot.

Filed under: parent.

Magic Moments

November 28th, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

I’ve got a string of light up bells hanging on my curtain rod in the kitchen. It plays chime music and the lights twinkle. I thought it would be a fun thing for Eli to watch. I was right. I opened the box and put them up. The box just happened to be up here because we began decorating outside our home on Sunday.

I’ve decided to decorate the outside of our home simply, which was good news for Brian because he’s our official light hanger-upper.

We haven’t decorated on the inside of our home, yet. I have some Holidays candles out. Right now, my pine candle is burning. It’s a nice smell. Last year, I was pregnant and couldn’t light it because the aroma made me ill. Now, I find it enjoyable. Isn’t it funny the way things change?

I bought some fake snowballs the other day from my favorite local shop. They may sound so silly but I can tell they’re going to be my favorite addition this year. I’ve sort of, haphazardly, placed them on my mantle. I like it.

It’s simple.

At the front of the house, in our office, is a big box of Christmas lights. I think my husband doesn’t believe I don’t want them hung, so he’s leaving the box there, just in case.

Christmas music fills the air. I listen to Bing Crosby White Christmas radio on Pandora. It’s really charming and most importantly, doesn’t play Mariah Carey.

On the chalkboard in my kitchen, the words “26 days…” are written out. No drawings, just the words.

The kids asked about the Christmas tree yesterday. Soon, we said. Maybe Wednesday. Maybe Saturday.

It’s November 30th. Not much as been done around here to signify the Holidays are here except the change of the calendar. But with children in your home, there’s magic.

No matter how simple your surroundings.

Filed under: parent.

Leaping Lizards

November 21st, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

It’s like I just moved here except that’s entirely not true because I’ve lived in this area for 98% of my life.

I drive around and see certain restaurants and stores, little shops and cafes and I think, “oh, there’s my favorite place for cupcakes” or “oh, I love to shop there for pretty things.” or “my best friend says they have the best french fries.”

I could go on and on. My favorite parks (we have many) our favorite thing to do on a Saturday, the country roads with the best foliage…you get the idea!

The thing is, either I’m paying better attention or living in this area is becoming more and more fun and interesting.

Yesterday, Anna and I went to see Annie at Chicago Street Theatre, I’m not going to go into what I was expecting but let’s just say that I wasn’t expecting much.

It wasn’t until we sat down and the little girls filled the stage that I was totally overwhelmed with emotion. (side note: I always, always cry when I see plays. Am I alone here?)

The songs, the simple set, the great performers, the live music, everything was sensational and totally entertaining. While I sat with my seven year old daughter, who was in total awe, I could only think about the past performances that I had missed because I had no idea this theatre existed but I also dreamed about the future performances our family will be able to see because now I know about it.

She and I drove home and talked about our favorite parts of the play, we even thought about going back with her Dad and little brother so they could see the play, too.

And part of me was positively giddy because of the unknown sites and pleasures that exists around us that we have yet to learn about. And with that thought, I fell in love with Northwest Indiana a little bit more.

*I wasn’t asked to write this or paid to write this, I bought the tickets myself. I just want to share this goodness with those of you who didn’t know about it!

Filed under: parent.

Report card reaction

November 5th, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

In 12 minutes, my first and second grader will be walking through the front door. They will drop their backpacks, shed their coats, both start talking at the same time about various awesome things that happened during the day.

I’ll do my best to listen to both of them but it’s really hard when they’re both talking at the same time. We spend about 10 minutes of reacquainted time, I give them a tall glass of water and some fruit and they eat up and continue to talk and then eat some Halloween Candy.

Sometimes, they begin unloading their folders and pile of the tens of papers that come home each day, while I worry that I’m going to miss something important.

But today, today is different. Today is report card day. Now, I know they are good students, I know they try hard but there is something about this day where I can actually see the results on paper, it matters to me and it certainly matters to them.

Here’s my question for you…do we celebrate and reward good report cards (dinner out? $10 to spend at Target) or just give high-fives and tell them to keep up the great work? A grading period is a long time for a young kid and we want to set the bar high now while they are young…

what should we do?

(by the way, they’ve been home for two hours now and they both got straight A’s.)

And also, when I work hard? I like to be rewarded. Please weigh in.

Filed under: parent.

The Real Parenting 101

October 19th, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

I’ve been thinking about what I do to get through my day. Some days, I do real fun special things, like take the kids for cupcakes or go for family walks or make a huge dinner with dessert and then other days, I hide in the bathroom with a box of cupcakes and eat them in privacy and pray for the day to speed by so I can just go to bed and have some peace and quiet before slipping into dreamland.

Except in my dreams, my house is still messy and loud and well, more like real life and less like dreamland. (aren’t dreams supposed to be filled with chocolate and shirtless hot men and pedicures and housekeepers? Or is that heaven? I can’t keep them straight.)

So, I’ve created a list of things that I do that may help you get through those tough days. (or any day.)

If your baby/toddler/child/teenager is playing peacefully, for the love of God, do not disturb him or her.
Do not even acknowledge what is going on, do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT, pretend you don’t even realize it. If this means you need to hide behind the couch then hide behind the couch. Even though you are probably so excited you can’t focus on anything else and so elated that they’re not climbing on your legs, just pretend you don’t notice because in that moment? They forgot that you existed. BUTJUSTFORTHATMOMENT … see, it’s over now. I hope you enjoyed it.

When grocery shopping, forget finding a spot by the door, park next to the cart corral. Yes, maybe, just maybe people become a little reckless with their carts and your precious minivan will probably get dinged up, but who cares? Because if you are shopping with kids, you can grab the cart and begin unloading them from the car straight to the cart, the idea being that their feet never touch the pavement because once their feet touch the pavement they become lunatics. When you’re done shopping, unload your groceries and your kids and just put that cart right into the corral and then drive as fast as you can to the closest liquor store. I mean, home, drive home.

Speaking of the store, curb the questions asking for things from all over the store. “Can we buy marshmallows? Can we ride on the bottom of the cart like that mom is letting her kids do? Can we buy that giant Luke Skywalker?” Before we walk into the store, I look into my kids’ eyes and give them a stern warning … “for everything you ask for, you’ll spend one minute in time-out when we get home. If you ask for twenty things, that twenty minutes” …… Do you hear that? It’s called Peace in the Grocery Store. You are welcome. P.S. you must actually follow through with this threat because if you don’t, it becomes null & void the first time you decide to forget about the punishment.

Tip #4, do never ever forget the punishment. The end.

And finally, the most important tip of all, buy the bag of smaller cookies, you know, like mini-oreos instead of the full size versions…they are much easier to hide from your kids when you’re stuffing them in your mouth behind their backs.

Filed under: parent.

grace + laughter

October 11th, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

I can pour the milk in my cereal, but more than likely, it will go soggy.
I can plan to make a big dinner, but sometimes, it just doesn’t work out that way.
I can plan to sleep all night long, or even for a few hours at a time and the children could have other plans.
I can plan to take a nap, but as soon as I doze, the doorbell will ring.
I can plan to play extra on bills but someone will get sick and I’ll spend that money on healthcare, instead.
I intend to sit and listen to my husband vent about work but my brain will be thinking of the 7 million things that I AM IN CHARGE OF IN MY LIFE. (and everyone else’s.)
I can plan to print more photos for my albums, sing more songs with my kids, pull those gnarly weeds in the garden, make cookies for the new neighbor, lay on the couch watching TV with my husband when the kids are actually sleeping…

but mostly, these things don’t happen as I plan them.

But there is one thing I can count on and if I do this, I guarantee everything will be just fine. If I give myself the grace to be okay with not getting it all done, to just be tired, to order pizza, to sit outside while the kids ride bikes instead of staying in to clean, the rest really doesn’t matter, in the end.

Grace. I can guarantee I’m working on that.
and laughing.

Grace & laughter. If I can achieve this, I think, maybe, everything else will fall into place.

Filed under: parent.

This thing

September 22nd, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

There’s this thing I learned a few weeks ago at a conference that tells me to get all of my important work done during my “peak” hours.

I considered this. “What are my peak hours?”

The morning. The morning is when my mind is the sharpest, (which, quite honestly, is not very sharp), it’s when I am the most inspired, when I have my best ideas and it’s also when I need to take care of a very needy baby.

I also considered this: “What is my important work?”

Right now, the baby is sleeping, fairly peacefully in his crib. I can see him, with my video monitor, which is only slightly distracting but distracting, nonetheless.

I sit at my computer and my brain explodes. There is so much I need to do. So much I want to do. And so very little time. This is the point where I truly struggle with “working” from home.

And see how I did that? The little quotations around the word “working?” That’s my way of undermining what I do for a living. I am just now truly admitting to myself that I really WORK at home. And I do! I make money from home. I plan, I brainstorm, I have projects and deadlines. I have commitments and clients, clients who take me seriously abut yet, I do not take myself seriously.

But that has to change because I am ready to grow. I am ready to take on even more, though I do not know where I’ll carve out the time but I have my chisel ready, I’m ready to tackle whatever it is.

I have inspiration & ideas that have been bottled up for too long. I’m NEEDING to let it all out, slowly, like how you open up a 2 liter bottle of pop (soda? coke?). You do it slowly so it doesn’t explode and spray and create a sticky mess. I’m turning the cap slowly…

I’m excited to see what happens. But mostly, I’m excited that I have finally admitted to myself that I ACTUALLY work. That was the hard part.

Now, onto the next chapter.

Filed under: parent.

Function Junction

September 3rd, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

Last week I launched my new photography website, I am up, running and so excited about this new adventure. The thing that is so interesting to me is how I never would have thought the time to do it would be now, with a five month old in the house.

But things happen, decisions are made and you realize that you just have to go with the flow and listen to what the universe is trying to tell you. So, I did. And so did my husband. And the time is now.

This past week we have been working hard on how to manage this new job in our lives. I have to admit, things are pretty disorganized and crazy around here, especially with the feeding woes I have had with Eli but now he’s playing and can be distracted and going to bed earlier, so I am finding MORE time to do things.

I sneak in time to work when I can and I sneak in the rest of my life, when I can, too. Yesterday, I was so hungry, working at my kitchen table, I looked on the floor and saw a cheerio. Without thinking, I picked it up and popped it in my mouth.

Once I tasted how stale it was, I had a few thoughts - 1. How sad that I just ate that. 2. When was the last time I swept the floors? 3. That was so much easier than sweeping the kitchen floors.

My new found available time is also dedicated to school work for the kids and all of the other household items I was unable to do before. It’s a balancing act, this life is, I’m constantly testing out new ways to do things, tweaking our routine and trying to be as flexible as possible.

Some days, I don’t stop moving from the moment I wake up until the moment I lay my sleepy head on my pillow but it’s those days that I realize just how happy and lucky I am to be doing exactly what I want to be doing.

Wife. Mom. Writer. Photographer.

Filed under: parent.

In the beginning

August 25th, 2010 - By Beth Fletcher

We dropped the kids off at school today, it’s funny how nervous I didn’t feel. It’s funny how sad I wasn’t. It’s not that I won’t miss them, because I will, but it just felt normal to be there, dropping them off, once again.

They were so excited that they couldn’t sleep last night, I can understand that, I was the same way as a kid, I imagine we are all programmed that way. Thoughts running across my mind, trying to prepare for the unknown, visualizing what it’s like to see my friends again after a long summer respite.

But now, as Mom, I laid in bed and fell right to sleep, knowing how funny it is that it was just time to go back to school. The kids were getting antsy, I was losing patience, today it’s cooler, windy, sunny. It feels like fall today, on that first day of school.

I don’t worry about them getting to their classrooms okay or their behavior. I worry about the classroom being too cold or too hot, whether or not they’re getting enough to drink, if they’ll eat their sandwich before their cookies, if their shoes will cause a blister. I worry about the things that they don’t, I want them to be comfortable, healthy. HAPPY.

Everyone always warns you how fast your children will grow up when you have a child. I always thought I listened and understood, I just didn’t know it would go by this fast.

I sit here and listen to Eli in the monitor, waking from his nap, knowing now how quickly this is going to go. I need to pay attention because before I know it …

Filed under: parent.

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