I can’t believe another month of summer is over already! *sniff* It’s been a great month, though, and I’m excited to share just a few of the highlights today.
7/3: Jake’s birthday. Jake and I had a low-key birthday celebration at home with his parents. We grilled, ate delicious appetizers and drinks, sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather, and had a backyard bonfire.
I don’t have any pictures from the 4th of July, but we had a nice celebration in town. Jake marched in the local parade in the morning, and we went to a couple parties in the afternoon and evening, one of which included watching the local fireworks.
7/6: Neighborhood pet parade. Yep, my neighborhood has an annual pet parade. Obviously it’s mainly a dog parade, but this year there was a super chill cat, too.
7/7: Day trip to Chicago. My dad and brother’s wife have birthdays the same week as Jake. My brother’s wife’s parents were in town for her birthday. We all attended the open rehearsal for her concert that weekend and had lunch at Pizano’s, where the waiter gave us two free chocolate chip cookie sundaes.
7/8: Hood Smoke at Summerfest. My brother is in the band Hood Smoke , and they played at Summerfest this year. My parents were able to come up for it.
7/9: Ben Folds at Summerfest. Jake and I went back to Summerfest the next day for Ben Folds after my parents headed home to Chicago. We ended up sitting through two other bands to get seventh row seats, which was worth it. The show was so amazing. My life is now complete because I’ve heard Steven’s Last Night in Town live with yMusic.
7/10: Visit with Joe and Melitta. Our friends Joe and Melitta were in town from Minneapolis very briefly, primarily so Joe’s 99 year old grandma could meet their four month old son. We ended up visiting with them at Joe’s parents’ house for a few hours.
7/13: Dinner with old friends. We had some old friends in town visiting family in between their transition to a new city for the Air Force. We hadn’t seen them in three and a half years. It was so great to show them our new place and catch up. They came over with their kiddos for dinner (including this rainbow fruit spread) and to hang at the beach for a bit. It was their three year old’s first time at the beach, and he was in love. He spent almost the entire time throwing all of the biggest rocks he could find into the water.
7/15: Parallel at Bastille Days.Parallel is a fabulous local band featuring keyboards and electric cello (recurring themes in my life, I know). I was really glad to have the opportunity to hear them live for the first time this summer at Bastille Days.
7/15: Emily Giffin book signing. In case the 7th row Ben Folds concert wasn’t enough of a bucket list item to cross off this summer, I also got to attend an Emily Giffin book signing right here in Milwaukee at Boswell Books. I’ve been an Emily Giffin fan for 12 years, and she’s one of my top influences as a writer. She is so grounded and truly amazing to her fans and just generally a really awesome person.
7/18-7/20: Moon watching. The night of the full moon in July and the night right before and right after it offered perfect weather for watching the moon rise in the evening.
7/22: Game night. Jake and I host a monthly board game night in which any and all friends who are free come over to enjoy delicious food and drink (did you see my snaps? follow along: randomcreative), good conversation, and of course a few games. Hobbes decided to get in on the action toward the end of the night.
7/23: Milwaukee in the fog. Jake and I had cleared the afternoon for an event that got postponed. Instead we went downtown and happened to catch this unreal fog.
What are you up to in August?
Any fun local events I should check out?
August 18-21: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a la Carte at the Zoo NEW for 2016! National Headliners
Thursday, August 18 Los Lobos, 8:00 p.m.
Friday, August 19 The Spinners, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 20 Soul Asylum, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 21 In Black ‘N White, 3:30 p.m.
The greater Milwaukee area is home to dozens of fabulous farmers markets, including one of my personal favorites (and one of the biggest in the area), the West Allis Farmers Market. Many Milwaukee farmers markets operate through mid to late fall.
There are around a dozen places to catch free outdoor movies during the summer, including the popular Fish Fry at a Flick at Discovery World. Check out the full 2016 line up for the Milwaukee park movie nights here.
Milwaukee is home to four fabulous beer gardens, all of which operate through October. It’s not too late to enjoy a brew and a giant pretzel in a gorgeous park setting. The Landing at Hoyt Park features live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (see event calendar for times), and the South Shore Terrace features live music Wednesday evenings from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
[Disclaimer: I do not work for the city of Milwaukee. I am not paid to promote any of the events listed on this page. I’m simply a resident of southeast WI who loves Milwaukee and enjoys attending and generating exposure for events in Milwaukee.]
Unofficially this has been (and continues to be) the summer of golden hour. We have been blessed with so many beautiful summer evenings with perfect temps, little wind, and lots of amazing, soft light. Of course I’m taking advantage of it and bringing my camera with me for evening walks and other excursions. These long days will be gone before we know it, and I want to keep enjoying as many of them as possible while they’re still here.
P.S. I can’t say the phrase “the summer of” without thinking of this.
After attending a recent local adoption support group, I felt compelled to write a post about coping strategies while you’re waiting for kids. I am relating waiting to infertility and adoption but much of this post applies to other aspects of waiting such as meeting the right person and getting married or finding a calling for a career. Infertility and adoption are not a big part of this blog, but they are a big part of my life. There are so many difficult aspects of infertility and adoption. One of them is waiting and the unknown that comes with that waiting. If you knew that a fertility treatment was going to work on X date or that an adoption would fall into place during Y month, it would be so much easier to wait. But we don’t ever know.
Many people tell you that they KNOW things are going to work out or that God has a plan, which isn’t very helpful, especially when they got pregnant multiple times with no issues. Again, no one does know for sure whether or not they’ll have kids, and it’s often hard to see the bigger picture when you’re in the midst of a tough stretch. Most of the time, it would be so great if someone said “wow, that stinks that your last treatment failed and you won’t be able to try another one for three months” or “how frustrating not to have anyone view your adoption book again this month, I’m so sorry” instead of glossing over the crushing pain or offering one of the previously mentioned sentiments.
So while you’re in the midst of dealing with month after month of not very supportive comments, most of the advice you come across for infertility is really generic, such as think positively or take a trip together. These tips aren’t bad, but they aren’t always very relevant or specific enough for day to day coping on a long-term basis, which is often the toughest part of waiting to have kids.
Obviously the journey is different for everyone. I don’t pretend to be an expert on this topic or to have all the answers. The strategies that work for me may not work for someone else and vice versa. But these are the real day to day methods that I use so I don’t lose my mind as I continue to wait.
Stop reading your Facebook news feed
I don’t mean hiding certain friends who are pregnant or who overshare about their kids. I mean get off the news feed completely. Pregnancy, or lack thereof, is what pushed me over the edge with the news feed, but it’s far from the only reason I quit reading my news feed. I would love to get off Facebook altogether, but it’s too darn convenient for keeping in touch with far away family and friends, and it’s the only way I communicate with certain groups of people. However, I’ve become really disciplined about how much time I spend on Facebook and which family members and friends I check in with on a regular basis so I don’t end up hating everyone I know.
For many people, reading the news feed is a nice break during the workday or in between responsibilities at home. I wrote this article not long after I gave up the news feed. I still opt for a number of those alternatives. Currently, I also use editing photos as a break from work tasks on the computer. I have a huge backlog of unedited photos. Keeping Lightroom open and editing a few at a time throughout the day helps me keep ticking through the pile. I get something done and can return to work without being pissed off about a pregnancy or kid related post, stupid meme, or controversial article.
Don’t put off what you’ve always wanted to do
When you’re waiting for something really big in your life to happen, it’s easy to keep waiting to do a lot of other big things, too. Maybe you’ve always said that you’d travel to Europe while you’re still in your 20s and you haven’t yet…and now you’re on the fence about planning the trip because maybe you’ll finally get pregnant next month. On the flip side, maybe you’ve been waiting to go to Disney World until you’ve had kids. If there’s something you want to do, go for it. Don’t use waiting as any excuse any longer. (Spoiler alert: Going to Disney World without kids is really awesome, too.)
Also, some of you already know that two of the best things that have happened as I’ve faced infertility are adopting cats and purchasing my first DSLR camera (both late 2012 and then the second cat adoption in June 2015). These bigger endeavors have a huge impact on my day to day sanity. My cats keep me smiling and laughing every day, which has been huge during this time in my life, and photography has helped empower me in a period when I’ve had virtually no control over the one thing that I want most. I have no idea how many cats we’d have or where my photography skills would be if we had started having kids when we originally planned, but I’m so thankful for both of these aspects of my life.
Don’t feel guilty about the things that you can do
I’m well aware that I have a huge amount of flexibility and freedom that most of my friends don’t right now. My husband and I frequently make last minute plans to go out to dinner and attend varying events around town. We’re often out well into the evening without a set schedule. I don’t have to consult anyone or make any sort of child care arrangements when scheduling a hair cut or doctor’s appointment. I can decide to visit my family in Chicago for the day without worrying about a child’s nap schedule. And I don’t feel guilty about any of it. Yes, I would trade all of that flexibility and freedom in a second to have kids. But I can’t so I don’t deny myself these privileges or feel guilty about it. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. For me, this hasn’t been the biggest struggle, but I know that it is for many people.
Take up a relaxing hobby
The more you think about what you don’t have, the worse it seems. A relaxing hobby can do wonders for taking your mind off of waiting during your down time. Obviously photography has been one of my biggest sources of relaxation over the past few years. Working on a craft project is often very relaxing for me, too. Currently adult coloring is all the rage. As such, there are tons of adult coloring books on the market. If you like the idea of an artsy relaxing hobby but don’t know where to start, coloring is a great option. Alisa Burke has quite a few beautiful FREE coloring pages, which you can download and print as many times as you like.
Figure out what you need to do to get through your lowest days
Even with a lot of awesome things happening in your life and an arsenal of coping techniques, some days are really rough. When you hit a really low point, working on a coloring page or getting outside to take photos of flowers most likely isn’t going to cut it. Be honest with yourself about what you need to do to get through these days. Some people retreat in tough times and are tempted to stay in bed all day. If you fit this personality type, think about scheduling a massage or pedicure or setting aside time for a long bath. Some people would rather jump into action and fight through it with physical activity. If you fit this personality type, tackle a deep cleaning project around the house or take an extra long run.
Be straight with people
People ask a lot of super nosy questions. Unfortunately people will ask nosy questions whether or not you have kids. But I got tired of saying, “no, I don’t have kids” and then getting inappropriate follow up questions such as when we think we’ll try, what fertility treatments we have and haven’t used, etc. So now I say that we tried for a long time (sometimes I say how many years, sometimes I don’t) and are currently pursuing adoption. People don’t expect this answer and are weirdly really supportive of the decision to try to adopt. It puts an end to a lot of the ridiculous questions, and many people actually say something nice. I know that not everyone wants to be so forward about their children status or lack thereof. It’s no one’s business, and you can say or not say whatever makes you most comfortable.
With that being said, there are plenty of times you can’t say what you really want to say. If you’ve been facing infertility or waiting to adopt for a long time, you know what I mean. If you can’t relate to either of these scenarios, ask family or friends who have and they’ll regale you with plenty of mind blowing examples. When you can’t say what you really want to say, the next coping strategy is critical.
Seek out family and friends who support you during the wait
A lot of people mean to be supportive of your wait to have children, but they say the wrong things. All the time. It’s really unfortunate, but true. You have to find even one or two family members or friends who really get it and will not judge you for the things you want to say to total strangers at parties and who will be there during your darkest moments. When you’re at any sort of social function and have to hold your tongue, it’s so great to have someone to text quickly who will just listen without judgement. There are other times that you may just be having an exceptionally tough day or get set off by something little that wouldn’t normally bother you. Having someone to just listen without interjecting unsolicited advice is so important.
Finally, there is a lot of advice about continuing to pray and keep your faith during infertility and adoption. I really admire people who do wholeheartedly because this has been a huge struggle for me. When my husband finished medical school and we moved to a new city for residency (in 2011), I felt really ready to have kids. To this day, I’m not sure how I could have been any more ready than I was at that time in my life, which leaves me wondering daily about my timeline for having kids and a lot of other aspects of my life. Needless to say, this has tested my faith. A lot. As a 30-something without kids, I also struggle a lot with my place in the church right now. Faith is a journey, and I trust that someday I’ll be in a better place with mine again. For those who don’t struggle as much with this aspect of waiting, I would love to hear your insight on the topic.
To those who read all 1,900+ words here, thank you. I always encourage people to share their feelings about the topic publicly and try to limit private conversation because there isn’t enough said about the topic publicly. However, if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out publicly, you’re always welcome to contact me privately, too.
In my neighborhood, there seem to be very specific blooming periods for different flowers. One day you won’t see any daffodils and then the next day, there are dozens of daffodils everywhere you look. I know that this is true in many parts of the world, but I’ve never lived in a neighborhood where it occurred so consistently with so many types of flowers. Currently lilies are in bloom. Orange lilies are especially abundant, and it makes me so happy to see the bright petals while driving or walking along the local streets.
What flowers are blooming right now in your part of the world?