Comment

Kladder Update: It's the Holiday Season!

Hart Tree Farm Christmas Tree.jpg

Thanksgiving was a marathon of one-fun-thing-followed-by-another this year! There was no shortage of cocktails nor turkey as we celebrated with both friends and family. Our weekend kicked off Thursday with a morning happy hour hosted by friends from church complete with breakfast fare, mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar.  From there we headed south to my parents house for Thanksgiving supper with family. My Dad, recently retired and with more time to spend in the kitchen, made a fabulous meal with all the usual menu items. We contributed pumpkin pie and grandkids. 

On Friday we headed north to Rockford for a second Thanksgiving meal with the Kladder family. We were completely spoiled with back to back turkey dinners and had the leftovers to prove it! During this years devotions Jeff's Dad read aloud a letter from a dear family friend about his Grandfather Peter. In the letter the family friend shared cherished, personal memories about Peter which prompted a few tears, the good kind, amongst the family. It was certainly a favorite part of our weekend. 

Saturday morning we packed up the kids for our second annual Christmas-tree-hunt tradition. This year we tried out Hart Tree Farm in Rockford and loved it. They've got choose-and-cut trees, pre cut trees/garland/wreaths, small farm animals for the kids (goat, sheep, mini horses) and even horse rides for $5. Pro tip, they accept cash or check only! The tree is up, decorated and just waiting to for those wrapped gifts to fill the skirt below. 

Later that same day we celebrated Thanksgiving one last time with our friends and all of our kids for our annual Friendsgiving tradition. I'm not certain, but 2017 might be the year that us adults were out numbered (or at the very least matched) by our kids. We never took a head count but the race had to have been close. The tradition includes soup and salad for dinner and (my favorite part) sharing our 'thankfuls' around in a circle together. This year Jeff expressed his gratitude over our family's 'health' and I talked about 'balance.' We, and our group of friends, have much to be thankful for. 

Friendsgiving kids photo. This isn't even the half of them! 

Friendsgiving kids photo. This isn't even the half of them! 

The weekend before Thanksgiving we celebrated Jeff's 32nd birthday. His actual birthday was on Thanksgiving Day, however, he's not a fan of celebrating himself so I tried my best to play it cool and opted for date night out just the two of us before the big day. We spent some quality time at the casino followed by some birthday shopping and dinner at Six.One.Six at the JW Marriott downtown. Casino was a bust, shopping was a success and dinner was wonderful. In this season of giving thanks, I'm very-very thankful for Jeff. He makes me better and I celebrate him each and every day. 

Earlier this month we checked out the Art Van Santa Parade downtown. Natalie got a huge kick out of the floats and the marching bands but we froze our booties off and had to leave the parade early to beat the rain that rolled in just as we got back to our car. We missed Santa - I'm not sure there was anyone left to actually see him! But we'll catch him at Fredrick Meijer Gardens here in a few weeks. 

Natalie at the Art Van Santa Parade in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Natalie at the Art Van Santa Parade in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Thomas turned the big 8-months-old this week and he's still growing like a weed. Family has been asking for his clothing size (for Christmas gifting I assume) and I'm predicting he'll be out of his 12-month onesies before the end of December. He's got 8 teeth, gets upset when you eat real food in front of him (he wants his own!) and still has yet to figure out crawling. The ladies at nursery on Sunday at church has kindly nicknamed him 'Big-T.' Apparently Thomas the Tank was already taken. 

Thomas Kladder.jpg

Natalie recently discovered Sandy the horse at Meijer and I must say, well done, Meijer... a whole minute of joy for just one cent! That's some serious good ol' fashion family service. Natalie's vocabulary and ever increasing sentence structure has been hilarious to witness... thank you daycare!  Lately she's very into princess dresses (anything with a skirt fits into this category), has been requesting hot dogs for pretty much every meal (including breakfast) and has been spending a lot of time in our recently half finished basement; we moved the outdoor toys (slide, swing, rocking horse) down there and it's been a great escape now that we're stuck inside more. 

Sandy the horse at our local Meijer store. Natalie is in love! 

Sandy the horse at our local Meijer store. Natalie is in love! 

And with the cooler weather this fall we're settling into our dialed back winter routine. We've spent a good amount of time at home hosting friends for dinner and cocktails around the fireplace and November has been perfect for coffee and conversations with friends and meeting with our neighborhood House Church. We've even been able to make time for donuts with the kids - which is very, very important! 

Fireplace Dessert.jpg

And so, the tree and lights are up, the Christmas cards are out and the calendar is booked! In this season of celebration and copious amounts of sugar... may you find peace and joy! Christmas here we come. 

Merry Christmas! From the Kladder house.

Merry Christmas! From the Kladder house.

POSTSCRIPT - Stuff we're into lately... 

  • Yoga at Roots Brew Shop - Our Rosewood neighbor Kari is a yoga instructor and occasionally teaches drop in classes at Roots on the Westside. Coffee's included with the $8 price tag! It's a fabulous way to start the day. 
  • Peace & Toil - P&T is a new home botanical shop in Grand Rapids and they're hosting a pop up shop on Saturday, December 9th. We're big fans of house plants (the ones I can keep alive) and we hope to see you there! 
  • Watermark Women's League - You a lady who likes to golf? Come join us! You're invited to come mingle and see what we're all about on Wednesday December 20th (email me directly for info) for cocktails, apps and holiday cheer! I recently joined the board and we're always looks for new, fun membership! 
Peace and Toil Grand Rapids.jpg

Comment

Comment

Review: Basic Invite, Custom Photo Christmas Cards

We absolutely love the holidays at the Kladder House and if it weren't for Jeff putting a firm rule in place about no Christmas decor before Thanksgiving, our tree would already be up. However, despite his pre-Thanksgiving Grinch-like demeanor, I cannot be stopped from busily working behind the scenes on our Christmas cards! 

This year we teamed up with a new partner, Basic Invite, to create one of my favorite bundle of Christmas cards to date! The process begin in early October after we scheduled our mini photo session with our favorite photographer James Richard Fry: $150 for a 25 minute session and full rights to a gallery of 15-20 edited photos. Done and done! 

Within days of the shoot James emailed us our proofs and off to Basic Invite design land I went! With over 250 holiday design options and nearly unlimited color choices, you are pretty much guaranteed to customize your cards this year.

Full disclosure, we ordered our photo cards from Costco last year and ended up having the exact same card as two other families in our network of friends. Don't get me wrong, everyone survived this occurrence, however, who wants to be the same!

Basic Invite allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. The design tool is easy to use and actually kind of fun to tinker around with. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail.

Basic Invite Custom Cards.png

And if you're worried at all about what the final product will look like before final purchase, Basic Invite is one of the very few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their card before placing your final order.

I also found the envelopes just as fun to sift through as I did creating the card design. Envelopes come in over 40 different colors so you can make your delivery stand out from the rest! Lets be serious though, I picked white. Call me consistent, call me predictable. I like what I like. And bonus... all envelopes are peel and seal which means no licking! Save that saliva for something with calories in it. 

Basic Invite also offers an address capturing service. I didn't personally use this part of the process simply because I enjoy handwriting the addresses on each card, however, the tool seems pretty nifty and if you're into automatic labeling, this would be your jam. You can upload all the addresses to their site and your envelopes will come already addressed, at no extra cost. 

After ordering our cards they arrived within 7 days of purchase and with this midwest gloomy/wet weather we've been experiencing lately it's likely the Kladder Christmas card will be the first to arrive at your house this season. Apparently, it's a personal goal of mine to plaster our family's faces on all of our friends and families refrigerator doors for as many weeks as possible! That is, until we're tossed out with the old cookies and uneaten candy canes at the end of the year. And if you're a procrastinator, no worries, you can pay a little extra to rush print your order. Boom.

Feeling behind on getting your photo Christmas cards or holiday party invites out this year? Don't, I'm weird and do things incredibly early. You've still got plenty of time and Basic Invite is now offering 30% off with coupon code: holi30. Happy creating!  

Comment

Comment

Kladder Update: Halloween, Thomas' Dedication & Crappy People

Kladder Halloween 2017! 

Kladder Halloween 2017! 

Last week we returned home from a week long family vacation in Palm Springs, California feeling refreshed and completely high on life. It wasn't until Thursday evening that we were abruptly brought back to reality... while putting the kids to bed our home was entered by strangers through our unlocked back door. They stole our wallets, my computer, my work bag and Jeff's watch. Outside of the back door being left open, their presence went unnoticed. I thought perhaps Jeff had accidentally left the door open after he took the trash out earlier that night. It wasn't until later, when I went to take out my laptop to do some work, that I realized my bag was missing. And so was Jeff's wallet. And his watch. And then it clicked - someone else had been there. We called the cops and they took a report and screened for prints. After searching the property they found they had also gone into our garage through the side door (also unlocked) and riffled through both of our cars where they didn't find much, thankfully. 

I've got tough skin and I'm not shaken by much, but this has certainly gotten to me. I'm having a hard time shaking the fact someone felt bold enough to enter our home while we were home and likely watched us as we moved about the house in order to time their move appropriately. I feel completely violated and angry that we live in a world where we have to lock our doors and close our blinds for fear of someone taking what's ours and infringing on our privacy. 

I'm very glad we didn't encounter them for fear something worse than stolen items would have taken place. The cops believe it was a pair working together. What if we would have surprised them in the act? What if they had a gun? What if Jeff had run after them? These are all things that have been keeping me up at night. Friends are suggesting we get a security system which is likely, but I'm sincerely upset we even have to consider it. 

We write about a lot of wonderful and fun things on our blog and I understand this story doesn't fit the usual bill. However, this is part of our world right now. I'm feeling challenged to continue thinking the best of people but will likely change my habits to lock all of our doors, all of the time. 

So that sucks. You know what else sucks?! Raking leaves in freezing temperatures! Jeff and I teamed up this weekend and did our first round of leaf raking for the season. However, our trees are still pretty full of leaves and I expect we'll be out there in snow pants here pretty soon. 

Just before vacation we celebrated Halloween with family at John Ball Zoo for their annual 'Zoo Goes Boo' event. This is the 3rd annual (read more about 2015 and 2016) Kladder Halloween gathering that doubles as Jeff's Dad's birthday celebration. Everyone dresses up in costume for the zoo followed by games and food back at the lake. Sure, the kids love it but it's possible the adults enjoy it just as much if not more. 

On actual Halloween Jeff and I hosted a few friends and my parents at our place for trick-or-treating. I made chili and the kids decorated Halloween cupcakes. We all took turns handing out candy on the porch to the approximately 350 trick-or-treaters. We ran completely out of candy and had to shut off our porch light 10 minutes before trick-or-treating officially ended. It was a good night. 

On Sunday, October 29th we dedicated Thomas at church. We did the same for Natalie in February 2016. Having both kids dedicated means our commitment to raising them to know God and to help guide them in growing their faith to the best of our ability. Together, with our parents and church community, we vowed our commitment to this. The dedication was naturally followed by a small celebration of cake and cocktails!

I'm chomping at the bit to bust out the Christmas decor and the only thing stopping me is tall, dark, handsome and goes by the name of 'Jeff.' I'm so envious of those who've gotten the jump on me! Come Thanksgiving weekend you'll find me baking cookies and hanging garland! Enjoy these next few weeks before the holiday season really kicks in. Till next time! 

POSTSCRIPT - Stuff we're into lately... 

  • Rocket Fizz - A soda pop and candy shop that I just discovered is a chain! There is one in Knapps Corner and we also checked out the one in Palm Springs last week! They have everything! 
  • City Built Brewing - Excellent new spot just north of downtown on Monroe. Extremely family friendly (there's a kid's corner) and surprising and fantastic menu of Puerto Rican food. 
  • Melissa & Doug Water Wow - Keep your kids busy for at least 30 mins. Great for airplanes! 

Comment