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Kladder Update: Easter, Birthday Girl Natalie & Front Porches

I hung the ferns out on our front porch this morning which means the drinking stoop is officially open for the season. We've been practicing (sans hanging ferns) for the last few weeks when the weather was warm enough, but moving forward you can find us there on our evenings home. If you see us while driving or walking past, you should know you're always welcome to honk/wave and/or stop by for a cocktail and a chat. 

Spring has already been a good time with April containing both Easter and our first born's 2nd birthday this year. Last weekend we celebrated Natalie with my family in town from Schoolcraft. They spoiled her with all kinds of new outdoor toys including a swing for the backyard, a tricycle and a slide for the drinking stoop - all just in time for the warmer weather. Natalie has always been a big fan of being outside and already this year she's managed to skin and re-skin her knees with falls on the driveway which reminds me... I forgot bandaids at the store again today. 

Parents always say this (because it's totally true), I cannot believe how quickly 2 years went by. She's certainly not a baby anymore speaking to us in full sentences and asking to do things herself most of the time. We may have a new baby in the house, but Natalie will always be my first baby. To Natalie (who may read this off the internet some years down the road), a very happy birthday sweet girl! 

We also celebrated Easter last weekend and the best part was watching Natalie hunt for eggs. A close second was watching our parents watch Natalie hunt for eggs. She quickly figured out each egg contained candy which made the process a tad slower, but totally worth it. She got a second round of egg hunting at the Lake last weekend with the Kladder family. Jeff's parents are back from Palm Springs for the summer which means getting to spend some of my maternity leave that I have left out at the lake with the kids on sunny afternoons with my mother-in-law. Bonus. 

Speaking of my mother-in-law Mari, we celebrated her birthday last week as well with lunch at the Downtown Market with the kids, which is also where she met her grandson for the first time. It was a special moment to witness as she was pretty bummed to have missed being able to visit us in the hospital directly after his birth. She's a very special lady and we're blessed to have her in our lives. 

Two Saturdays ago Jeff spent some dude time with Thomas at home while Natalie and I joined a few neighbor friends at the Posh Petals Brunch with Bunnies event. The live bunnies were a HUGE hit with the kids while I found the donuts and the bunny ear decorating pretty entertaining. I think the ears were suppose to be for the kids, didn't care. There was a professional photographer there to capture the girls and boy did the pics turn out cute. Elizabeth, friend and owner of Posh Petals, and her team did a great job putting on the event and I let her know my only suggestion that next time there be mimosas!

In our spare time we've made the rounds at some of our favorite places including Fredrick Meijer Gardens for some outdoor strolls, Mangiamo's freshly opened patio for Rosewood happy hour and Watermark for some rounds of golf and smacking balls on the range. I say 'smacking' because while Jeff may be good at golf, I could use some private lessons. Despite my skill level, the ladies at the course have convinced me to sign up for women's league this year. This summer I turn the big 3-0 which means I'm getting closer to retirement... it's time for me to start practicing the skills necessary for that. I'm only half joking. 

Enjoy the sunshine my friends! May you soon be enjoying a cold beverage on your boat, or better yet, your friends boat! The rest of us will stick to our drinking stoops! 

POSTSCRIPT ... Things we're into lately... 

  • Lavish Bath Boxes - A very thoughtful friend sent me a box full of bath gear. What a great gift idea! Eager to test some the box contents out soon. 
  • Captured in Clay - When Natalie was born we got her foot and hand prints captured in clay for gifts. We did the same with Thomas two weeks ago - post on coming soon on GR Family. 
  • Girlfriend Leggings - Have you received your order in the mail yet?! Loving mine. 
  • Happy Hour @ Mangiamo - Half off all drinks! And their patio/yard is pretty kid friendly because it's all fenced in. I smell another GR Family post on this topic.  
  • James Richard Fry Photography - James captured all of our new family photos, Thomas' newborn pics as well as some of Natalie who turned 2 this month. He does great work and we recommend him!  

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Kladder Update: Escape Michigan, Princesses & Art Downtown

It's been just under a month since our last Kladder Update and we've got a lot to catch up on... 

Biggest news of course has been the arrival of Thomas. You can read more about our newest family member HERE. A very genuine 'thank you' to friends and family for the meal train we've been riding. I'm averaging 3 cookies a day. 

Another noticeable change you may have seen are the updated images on the website. Another big thank you to James Richard Fry for the awesome shots. We were able to capture Thomas' newborn photos, Natalie's 2-year photos (her birthday is on Easter this weekend) as well as some new family pics. I think replacing our framed family photos around the house may take me a little longer than the digital update. 

We also launched the newest page on MCL titled GR Family. Here is where we'll compile content containing lists, tips and tricks helpful to raising a family in Grand Rapids. We had great feedback about our first post, Getting Coffee with Kids in GR, and hope to add to this page over the next year. If you have specific questions or posts you would find helpful drop us a line and let us know!

So outside of having a baby and telling our community and the internet about it, what have we been up to?... 

Escape Michigan. 

Escape Michigan. 

The evening before Thomas made his debut we joined friends for a fun night out at the Escape Room. It was SO much fun. They recommend a team of 6 and together you have 60 minutes to solve a series of riddles and puzzles by finding clues and keys hidden within a room of which you are locked. The goal is to escape before time runs out. We were successful in our escape with only minutes to spare and had a great time. Following, we dined at Amore for some of the best Italian food in Grand Rapids. It was an unplanned carb-load before the marathon of child birth that followed the next day. 

Amore pasta! 

Amore pasta! 

That same weekend Natalie and I headed down to Kalamazoo to meet with my Mom and friends Kathryn, Addie and Grandma Sandy for the annual Princess Brunch at Burdicks downtown. Kathryn is the owner of Once Upon A Princess, a fairytale character company that specializes in parties and events through performing arts so we had a special 'in' for the event this year. Natalie and Addie enjoyed pancakes and photos with the princesses. It was adorable. 

Breakfast with the Princesses in Kalamazoo. 

Breakfast with the Princesses in Kalamazoo. 

Last weekend Jeff was in Detroit for opening day. Thinking I would still be pregnant,  the home openers weekend plans did not involve me. The Tigers played the Red Sox which made Jeff happy (he's a big Boston fan) until they lost. Needless to say, I didn't feel too sorry for him. 

Utilizing the double stroller at Art Downtown last weekend. 

Utilizing the double stroller at Art Downtown last weekend. 

And last weekend we took our first official family of four outing to Art Downtown put on by Avenue for the Arts with a member group from ArtPrize. They fed us tacos and beer followed by a 1.5 hour walk to 5 different venues. We finished at the UICA where there was a student exhibition as well as the phenomenal 'Us Is Them' exhibit on the top two floors. It's a pretty great showing and completely stroller friendly if you want to take the family. 

It's been a wonderful last two weeks at home with the kids. I cannot wait until the weather is consistently warmer so we can take walks and play outside. Until then, I'll continue snuggling on the couch watching cartoons with my kids and try really hard to capture the sweet moments by memory - I know my maternity leave is going to fly by. 

A walk to Wilcox Park on one of our sunnier days last week. 

A walk to Wilcox Park on one of our sunnier days last week. 

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Introducing Thomas Christopher Kladder

Thomas Christopher Kladder, photographed by James Richard Fry 

Thomas Christopher Kladder, photographed by James Richard Fry 

We welcomed Thomas Christopher on Monday March 27th at 11:32 a.m. He surprised us a whole three weeks early and weighed in at 7 pounds 5 ounces, 20 inches long. He's named after both of his Grandpas, Thomas for Jeff's Dad and Christopher after mine. He's the first boy on both sides of our family and quite possibly the only kiddo who will carry on the Kladder name. 

So far, Thomas has shown us a pretty laid back personality. He's been eating like a champ, sleeping well and tolerating his big sister's curiosity. Natalie enjoys giving him all of her things: blankets, pacifiers, half eaten cookies, small toys... you name it... Natalie has her little brother covered.  

Since Monday we've been completely spoiled by visitors who have brought meals, sweet treats and gifts which has been doubly appreciated considering his early arrival. We've certainly felt the love and are definitely not going hungry over here in baby land. 

I could sit here and write paragraph after paragraph about the birth story and about how my heart is so full it hurts, but you get it... and I'll save you the time. If you truly are interested in saga of Thomas' arrival, lets get coffee. 

What I'd really like to say about adding Thomas to our family is that we are so so so grateful. I don't say this enough, in blog posts or even out loud in conversation, but we are totally 'Jesus people.' We are Christians, we go to church, we pray and we believe that God is love. And holy moly... is God in the love we have for Thomas. And that I have for my husband Jeff. And for our daughter Natalie. And now... the love Natalie shares for Thomas.

In the morning I'm giddy because I get to take care of TWO kids - which I'm sure has something to do with Thomas and Natalie both being good sleepers... I have the energy (and the coffee maker) to help give me the gusto! But coffee and proper rest aside, I've got so much love for this family of ours. 

Thank you, community, for your support. This season of life is even better than the last. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Photography by James Richard Fry

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