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Kladder Update: Summer, Summer & More Summer!

It's been a very long time since I've cried, which isn't unusual for me. I'm a pretty tough cookie. Translation for tough cookie: cold, bitchy, harsh... or rather, it's going to take a lot more than a mean comment to hurt my feelings. Now, I do believe I've softened a bit since becoming a Mom, but despite babies, I do think I still wield a strong outer shell. 

And this is why the smeared mascara and flushed cheeks caught me completely off guard at church two Sundays ago. Every once in a while during worship (which is singing along to a super loud band), I get a huge rush of emotion. And full disclosure, I work in video production so I understand how things like music, lighting and warmth can affect mood. And Mars Hill Church plays right into that: they lower the lights and turn up the base each and every Sunday. And on this particular Sunday, it hit me just right and for some reason I just stood there balling. 

Twenty-Seventeen has been very very good to us and in that moment I think I was overcome with just how GOOD life really is. I turned 30 this year and I shared how I felt like each year keeps getting better and better. And that's the honest truth. But I know that life is not perfect and bumps are bound to happen. I see the bumps. They are happening all around us but for some reason our road has been smooth as Thomas' cute baby bottom. So for right now, we're going to keep riding this wave of good and be grateful for it. And that's what's been on my mind lately. 

Onto the Kladder Update... what have we been up to these last few weeks?... 

Some of our fine friends enjoying the patio at Member Member Event. 

Some of our fine friends enjoying the patio at Member Member Event. 

The weekend of the 21st was the Annual Member Member Event at Watermark and we had a blast! Jeff golfed with his league partner, Zach Dennis, for who-knows how many rounds of golf throughout the weekend. I attended the portions of the event involving cocktails including the family pool gathering on Friday, the 'horse-race' Saturday afternoon followed by a formal dinner that evening. Horses you say? A fantastic part of the weekend where the winners from each flight go head to head on a hole by hole, single elimination championship final. The crowd follows the rounds on golf carts creating quote the scene overlooking the green. 

Watching the playoff on the 9th green at Watermark. 

Watching the playoff on the 9th green at Watermark. 

Last Friday we took Natalie and Thomas downtown for the movie in the park, downtown at Ah Nab Awen just outside the Ford Museum. We met up with friends and enjoyed the scenery of our two girls dancing to the final credits. Zootopia was showing and if your kids haven't seen it yet, it's actually got a good plot and excellent music. It was our first time to the event and I was so impressed. They had food trucks, face painting and free popcorn. They even allow you to bring your own alcohol (and snacks) which simply requires you to get your ID checked at a tent to receive a wrist band. It was a fantastic way to spend a summer evening with family. 

Movies in the Park at Ah Nab Awen in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Movies in the Park at Ah Nab Awen in downtown Grand Rapids. 

With this incredible weather lately, we've been soaking up every bit of summer possible and spending as much time outside as we can. We've got an unofficial Summer Bucket List of things (outside of golf, porch drinking and laying by the water) that make summer in Grand Rapids complete. Here's the latest: 

  1. Attend FMGs Outdoor Concert - DONE! 
  2. Attend Outdoor Movies in the Park - DONE! 
  3. Walk the Pier at Lake Michigan 
  4. Host Friends for Dinner on the Patio - DONE! 
  5. Play in the Wilcox Park Splash Pad 
  6. Visit Bolder Ridge Zoo
  7. Attend Outdoor Concert in John Collins Park - DONE! 
  8. Walk to Fulton Street Farmers Market - DONE!
  9. Take Evening Booze Cruise on Lake Bella Vista - DONE! 
  10. Eat Ice Cream at Jersey Junction - DONE! 

We're at a passing grade with 70% which is pretty good I'd say. And speaking of passing grades, Thomas had is 4-month appointment this week and measured in the 99th percentile for height, weight and head size. He's huge. He's a very happy little guy and certainly healthy - the Dr. assured me that his size is nothing to worry about! And this week he hit a huge mile marker by rolling over and sleeping 12 hours at night. Amen! 

Natalie is... hilarious. She's bouncy and brave as they come. Last weekend she went down the big kids water slide at the pool which is leaps and bounds from where she was a few weeks ago when stepping foot in the water drew tears. Toddlers certainly keep life exciting. And the girlie-girl inside of me swooned over the fact she allowed me to put a ponytail in her hair for the first time this week. Big things are happening over here you guys. 

The ponytail!!! 

The ponytail!!! 

This week Tuesday we headed out to Grand Haven to visit with family and to eat cake, celebrating my Grandpa and Grandma DeKoekkoek's 60th Wedding Anniversary. I asked them what the best part of being married has been and my Grandpa had an excellent answer: "Creating our family and spending time with you all now." Sigh... old men and their wisdom. Gets me every time. 

Grandma and Grandpa DeKoekkoek with all their GREAT grandkids this week. 

Grandma and Grandpa DeKoekkoek with all their GREAT grandkids this week. 

And this weekend we head North for our annual trip to Ontonagon with family. What is Ontonagon you say? Here's more from our trips in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Ontonagon has been a family tradition since before I can remember and consists of mostly becoming 'one with nature,' taking our sweet-time and drinking plenty of Bud Light. We're looking forward to unplugging and going off the grid for a while. Now I just gotta pack the car.

POSTSCRIPT - Things we're into lately... 

  • Into Spray Tanning? Check out Smooched. I had one done for the Member Member event two weekends ago and loved it. 
  • Kirkland Brand Almond Butter from Costco. Holy moly it's so good. 
  • The Dailey Method - The newest parent friendly fitness place in town. Stay tuned for a review coming soon. Here's a fun pic of the class I hosted for friends two weeks ago! 

All my pretty friends who showed up for a super muscle busting barre class with me! 

All my pretty friends who showed up for a super muscle busting barre class with me! 

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Review: Smooched Spray Tanning, Grand Rapids

For most of the year, us Michiganders cover our bodies from head to toe for legitimate fear of frostbite. 'Winter is (constantly) coming' - Two hands up top for my Game of Thrones reference!! However, come Spring our layers shed exposing our porcelain skin. And if you're anything like me, you're skin's near glowing after months of hibernation. Help. 

As a busy mom of two, my leisure time spent laying in the sun is on pause... "Ain't nobody got time for that!" And as a woman who's concerned about preventing wrinkles and more importantly, skin cancer, I'd rather not risk my health if there's a better alternative.

So last week I went to see Sarah, owner of Smooched Grand Rapids located downtown inside Manic Muse Salon off Lyon Street. The salon was modern, clean and welcoming. Sarah greeted me with a smile and genuinely seemed happy to see me. Located just off the main room is the space with the spray tanning booth where Sarah works her magic. She does everything by hand which, in my opinion, is WAY better than standing in one of those machines that simply spins around you. We talked through shades of color, carefully made a selection with her guidance and about 30 minutes later I was the perfect shade of summer. And just in case you're wondering, yup... I stood completely naked in front of someone I just met. And honestly, I sort of regret having on underwear... the lines didn't match up with my swim suit. I mean, lets be serious, it's nothing my waxologist and half the intern staff at Butterworth Hospital hasn't already seen! 

Sarah is a professional and she's got her method down to a science. She chats with you the entire time and gives you clear direction on how to stand and when to move so you get your absolute best tan. She gauges her 'shades of tan' on a scale of 'Kardashian' which I found humorous. Are you a Kim? What about a Rob? 

I walked out of the salon smelling like a sugar cookie (she uses all natural products that smell amazing!) and feeling awesome. There's something about being tan that makes me feel more confident which meant not being afraid to show a little (tanner) leg at our Watermark Member Member Banquet. 

I've had many spray tans over the years (even before kids) using a handful of different places around town and after a week and a half post spray with Sarah, my tan is still going strong which is much longer than I've experienced in the past. My tan has even survived three trips to the pool which usually causes fading due to the chemicals. Sarah charges $45 for a full body tan. 

You can read more about what to expect on the Smooched website, but here are my personal tricks of the trade: 

  • Wear loose fitting/black clothing to your appointment like athletic shorts/pants and a t-shirt. Anything that won't rub against your skin post tan for at least 4 hours giving the spray time to soak into your skin.
  • Plan your visit at a time when you don't have any commitments involving water at least 4 hours after your appointment. As in, don't plan to wash the dishes, use the hose, give your kid a bath, etc. Water during the hours following your spray means risking streaks. No bueno. 
  • FYI - You'll look darker in the hours following your appointment than your tan will actually be. Sarah instructs you to shower off 4 hours after your visit which gives the spray time to set. When you shower the shade will lighten to the appropriate color you discussed prior to your appointment. And yes, there will be some color that washes off you in the shower... you'll see it go down the drain. Looks like dirty water! 
  • To make your tan last longer be sure to lotion! Also, avoid exfoliating your skin for a bit and dab dry when you get out of the shower rather than rubbing. 
My main squeeze and me at the Member Member Banquet Saturday evening. 

My main squeeze and me at the Member Member Banquet Saturday evening. 

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Kladder Update: 4th of July, #IMomSoHard & Double Date Nights

Our American Girl on the 4th of July in Schoolcraft, Michigan. 

Our American Girl on the 4th of July in Schoolcraft, Michigan. 

With just about three and a half weeks of summer under our belts (10 weeks to go! Summer officially ends September 22nd) it's just one fun thing after another for us at the Kladder household.

Lets rewind to 4th of July weekend. We kicked off our marathon of celebration with friends at their pool in Ottawa Hills. They recently redid their backyard and it's primo for summer parties. It was all about the kids playing in the pool, snacks and keeping a cold drink in hand. There was no better way to spend a Friday summer evening. 

Saturday morning we packed up the car and headed to lake for the next few nights with Jeff's family. With the Kladders, Independence Day is bigger than Christmas. The entire family comes (and then some!) and stays for the entire weekend. The overflow creates a tent city in the front yard which I'm sure is against some neighborhood ordinance at Lake Bella Vista which people overlook due to the holiday. There is tubing and spike-ball. There is so so so much grilling. There is a Wiffle Ball tradition and a couples vs couples bags tournament. Everyone plays card games and the snacks... oh the snacks. If there were ever a pictured definition of 'American Freedom' this would be it.

With three full days of enjoyment at the lake, there were plenty of fun moments but my favorite was, by far, watching Natalie's face light up with glee over the sights and sounds of the fireworks Monday night. Each year the Lake association puts on a spectacular fireworks show using a barge in the middle of the lake. The entire crew loads onto the boats to watch from the water. Natalie had the time of her life driving the boat with Grandpa and gawking over the excitement. It totally got me. 

With the celebrations at the Lake coming to a close Monday evening, Tuesday morning we headed south to meet up with my family for the Annual Schoolcraft 4th of July Parade - something we haven't been to in years due to the festivities at the lake. Anytime we visit my hometown (where my entire family still resides) it's like we never left. With parents who flash a family photo any chance they get, I'm never surprised when a townie already knows my most recent news. The people there are warm and wonderful and going back is always a breath of fresh air. 

The parade is just as you'd expect it: horses, firetrucks, marching bands, clowns on bikes... and Natalie picked up real quick that the folks walking down the street will toss you candy. After the parade we strolled over to the local American Legion for the Chicken and Ribs dinner which was INCREDIBLE. The chicken was mouth-watering-fantastic! 

And I think this all goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: we are extremely grateful to live in a country with freedom to do these things. God bless America and thank you to the men and women who have made celebrations like this possible. 

Moving on, there was a moment about a week ago when I believed the entire population of Grand Rapids was highly susceptible to potential extreme danger... and that moment was sitting down at DeVos Performance Hall for the hilarity that is #IMomSoHard, a stand up comedy show put on by moms Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley. Why? Because the gross majority of the female population that supports our community through motherhood was all in one location... at the same time. If that theatre went up in flames, Grand Rapids would have been doomed. It's like when Corporations book the members of their executive leadership team on different flights for fear of losing them all at once should the plane go down. Gosh this is getting morbid... but this is what I spend my spare time thinking about! As incredibly hilarious as Kristin and Jen were, perhaps we should rethink their visiting again for safety reasons. Only half joking. 

Ladies night out at #IMomSoHard at DeVos Performance Hall. 

Ladies night out at #IMomSoHard at DeVos Performance Hall. 

The show was so super funny and if you do get the chance to see them perform in the future, do! I will always pay for laughter. We made a true Moms Night Out of it with with friends who drove up from Kalamazoo. We dined (or tried to, long story - I still have yet to write my negative Yelp review) at The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck next door. Spoiler alert, we never got our food and instead I coasted on laughter and wine the rest of the evening. You guys, I 'mommed' so hard. 

This past weekend we had back to back double date nights and checked out some places that have been on our list for a while. Friday we toured downtown's Westside with steaks at Butchers Union followed by cocktails at the outdoor biergarten at The Sovengard and a night cap on the back porch at One Bourbon. We were very happy with all three stops and would repeat the tour again with perhaps dinner at One Bourbon next time - southern comfort food! I saw someone's plate of chicken and waffles and wanted a second dinner but I practiced self control and instead munched on the Salted Carmel Popcorn ordered for the table. It had bacon. It was tasty. 

The cutest photo wall on the back porch at One Bourbon on the Westside. 

The cutest photo wall on the back porch at One Bourbon on the Westside. 

Saturday we made reservations at Mazzo, the new Italian place on Monroe Center downtown that took over the old Tre Cugini. The space is full of energy, we had great service and we were very happy with our wine, pizza and pasta orders. It's the perfect spot for date night, intimate but not too quiet with a menu that's higher in price but worth the cost. After dinner we grabbed night cap #1 at the rooftop bar at Homewood Suites (shhh, for hotel guests only) followed by night cap #2 on our porch - a convenient location for our dinner partners who live on our block. 

The kids are great. Natalie is quite the 'Chatty Cathy' these days and surprises us constantly with new words and sentence structures. She's basically the smartest 2-year-old ever. But seriously, we're now in the phase where we're spelling things out when she's in front of us - can't get anything past her now without being careful. Thomas is a very happy baby and smiling/cooing more and more each day. We're on the the verge of him giggling which I expect it to happen anytime. He's a whopping 18 lbs which is, I'm told, the average size of a 6-7 month old. Thomas is 3.5 months. I'll leave you with that fun fact. 

Thomas... losing hair, gaining lbs. 

Thomas... losing hair, gaining lbs. 

And last night we enjoyed one of Grand Rapids finest summer offerings at the outdoor amphitheater at Meijer Gardens. Elvis Costello was the headliner and put on a terrific show. We stayed out too late and drank one glass too many, but we figure, that's what Michigan summer nights are all about.  

Wishing you a week of sunshine and cool drinks. Happy Tuesday everyone. 

POSTSCRIPT... Stuff we're into lately. 

  • Game of Thrones - Okay, everyone is likely watching this tv show at the moment but at the Kladder house we're a season behind because, well... it's Jeff's fault. He refused to let us watch last season for fear of the tv show surpassing the books. He's now seen the writing on the wall that it's quite possible the books will never be finished and finally caved. We're a season behind, but at least we're back on the band wagon! 
  • Yum Tarts from Rise Grand Rapids - Rise might have missed their fundraising target on Kickstarter earlier this month to open a brick and mortar shop but they're still going strong with providing sweet treats at a good number of other local coffee shops around town. Recently tried a Yum Tart and it was super tasty. 
  • Fulton Street Farmers Market - You can find us here most Saturday mornings. 
  • Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar - It's my new favorite and has become my go to for work meetings. Easy parking, good coffee, treats, WiFi and I can always find a seat. 
Yum Tart! From Rise Grand Rapids. 

Yum Tart! From Rise Grand Rapids. 

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