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What's Good in January?

I'm taking a break from NPR and MI Radio for a while - a usual on my commute to and from work. Instead, I started listing to that random station that plays classical music from Beethoven and Mozart. Makes me feel pretty pretentious as I drive sipping my coffee, but I'm sure like most of you... I need a break from all the 'noise.' There's lots of heaviness happening lately - heavy words, heavy hearts... just heavy - and I can't do happy hour right now so classical music is what I'm working with. 

So what's good lately? 

Two weekends ago we headed north to Harbor Springs with a GIANT group of friends where we rented a very large house and hung out for a long winter weekend - seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, indoor hot tub, sauna, ping-pong table and all the living space we ever needed. We ate big meals together, played games and let the kids run wild. Us ladies took a morning to ourselves and visited Boyne Highlands Spa where I got a great prenatal massage and manicure followed by lunch together. Later in the weekend the guys took off for the gun range and to go bowling for the afternoon. We made fires in the wood fireplace, caught up on everyone's life and watched Disney movies on repeat. It was a good weekend. 

Last week at work the digital team gathered in Grand Rapids for a summit on dot.com. With team members in from all over the globe we made the most of our social time together including a visit to the Meyer May house in Heritage Hill after work hours. I'd never been before and if you haven't been, I recommend checking it out. I learned the house is owned by Steelcase and was renovated to it's original glory in the 80s. Today it's run as if it were a museum and is open for tours to the public (for free!) on Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays.  Steelcase actually wines and dines it's customer groups there during sales visits which I think is pretty brilliant. The Meyer May house is a good thing. 

Inside the Meyer May House sitting on one of the designer chairs that's much too small for my height - the entire structure was made for a family closer to 5 feet. 

Inside the Meyer May House sitting on one of the designer chairs that's much too small for my height - the entire structure was made for a family closer to 5 feet. 

Last weekend my parents were in town for a visit. We took them to the Gerald Ford Museum where we also checked out the Four Chaplains event put on by the local American Legion. A little over a year ago the museum renovated its second floor and they did a fabulous job. I learned Ford was our most athletic president and he was our last president to be a Mason - something my Dad appreciates being one himself. Afterwards we grabbed lunch at Horseshoe Smokehouse. The waffle fries were good. 

Grandma Smith and Natalie at the Gerald Ford Museum. 

Grandma Smith and Natalie at the Gerald Ford Museum. 

On Sunday I did yoga for the first time in I can't remember when. I usually enjoy hot yoga during the wintertime (followed by a long hot shower - thee best!) but the extreme heat isn't recommended during pregnancy so I've taken a break. However, our neighbor who is in the process of training as a yoga instructor was co-teaching at West Side Yoga for 'warm' yoga and a few other neighbor girls and I jumped on board. It was real good. 

And this weekend will mark 30 weeks pregnant! Yahooo, my friends, yahoo! I had a doctors appointment this morning and baby boy is growing perfectly. I went ahead and made all my remaining appointments for these next couple months and we'll keep rolling on hanging up curtains and stocking the newborn diapers in the nursery. Feeling strong and really good. 

Natalie and her little brother. She's starting to 'get it.' 

Natalie and her little brother. She's starting to 'get it.' 

POSTSCRIPT - What we're into lately...

  • West Wing on Netflix - I started watching this completely outdated show a few months back and it's been my go to show when I'm looking for easy entertainment. Clean and honest storylines. 
  • Finding Nemo - Oh. My. Word. She won't stop watching it. Just saw today that Finding Dory is out on Netflix. Praise Jesus. He hears us. 
  • That Early Bird - Solid coffee and increasingly tasty menu. Great for heads down time and for meeting a friend for conversation. Try a lemon thumbprint cookie. Yum. 
  • Girlfriend Collective - Want super high end leggings for only the price of shipping ($20)? Ordered mine a few weeks ago and lots of friends followed suit. Haven't received them yet but have heard rave reviews. It's a new company and this is their kick off campaign. 

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Quick Kladder Update, January

We kicked off the New Year a little differently than last year by joining a group of friends for a house party - kids included. The only photo I took of the entire night was of some of our kids eating together... like I said, totally different than last year! But, alas, with baby #2 on the way I didn't mind the change of pace and neither did Jeff - with a built in designated driver he had a very happy New Year indeed! 

Dinner dates at our family friendly New Years Eve party. 

Dinner dates at our family friendly New Years Eve party. 

Jeff and I talked about (very briefly because he's not into this sort of thing) setting some resolutions for 2017. Our list includes: replacing TV shows that we aren't really that into with reading books before bed and so far it's a success - I finished Girl on the Train last night. Don't get me wrong, you'll still find us Sunday night tuning into HBO for Westworld and as soon as Walking Dead is available on Netflix... forget books for a while. Moderation my friends. We aren't TV haters over here. 

We also talked about getting rid of stuff we don't use anymore and again, success - I dropped off another load to Goodwill this past weekend. Last summer a friend turned me onto The Minimalists and thereafter I listened to their entire podcast up to date. Recently the duo released their documentary on Netflix which inspired the need to purge. Feels really good to declutter. Less stuff to clean. I'm also tempted to try The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up which is a book that everyone went mad over a while back. I could consider this a twofer: reading and decluttering. Boom. 

And a third item we discussed was adding more faith practices. Sure, we already go to church on Sunday, but we certainly know we can be more intentional in other parts of our lives regarding this subject including prayer, especially around the dinner table as our family grows and Natalie learns more about what 'folding her paddies' actually means. We'd like to do more through small group, generosity and service, and even nature walks which I look forward to trying out during our annual trip to the U.P. this summer. I also really like the idea of feasting with friends over a meal. This is something our pastor AJ at Mars Hill speaks about; he says there's something very special about breaking bread amongst friends and I agree. We love hosting friends for dinner so this should be an easy one. Who said resolutions are suppose to be hard?

Another thing we plan on doing this year is giving birth to our baby boy and, gosh, it's coming up fast. I'm officially in the 3rd trimester with 3 months to go and I'm glad to say we're prepping for the arrival. With the playroom now complete, furniture is now moved: the 4th bedroom that once served as the landing place for toys is now the guest room which then opened the 3rd bedroom up for setting up the new nursery. My heart melted as Jeff put together the crib with the help of soon to be big sister Natalie. A real hormonal mom moment I'd say. 

Baby is growing perfectly and moves around a TON. My body is feeling great and now with the awesome news that they won't have to induce this time around, I plan on working right up to the time when he's ready to arrive. It'd be fun to go into labor at work... a bit more dramatic than last time when we had an appointment to arrive at the hospital. Also, a very solid excuse to leave work early I'd say. 

On Saturday we went to breakfast and bowling with Jeff's family and even at 1 and a half Natalie had a blast. I honestly thought she'd be more interested in pushing the buttons on the ATM machine. With the ramps and bumpers she just needed help getting the ball onto the start of the ramp then she handled the rest. I sent my Mom and Dad a video and my Dad made a solid joke asking if I had gotten stopped at the door as we were leaving - pregnancy jokes are fun. 

Bowling with cousins at Clique Lanes on the Westside. 

Bowling with cousins at Clique Lanes on the Westside. 

And this coming weekend we look forward to spending time with friends enjoying some of the winter awesomeness that Michigan has to offer. I'll share more about that next time. Have a great week everyone! 

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Quick Kladder Update, December

Natalie and Jeff enjoying our very own winter wonderland.

Natalie and Jeff enjoying our very own winter wonderland.

December has been full of baking cookies, family time, conversations with friends over dinner and finishing the playroom in the attic. Our stomachs are full and our hearts are happy and grateful. 

Our holiday was sadly not off to the happiest of starts with the unexpected passing of Jeff's Grandma Koopman the week before Christmas. She was 84 and arrived at the hospital with trouble breathing where they found she had a large blood clot in her leg - something that hits pretty close to home with my history with DVTs. Portions of the clot traveled to her lungs which caused the trouble breathing and her eventual passing. Family gathered in Hudsonville for the funeral and visitation services where we honored her life.

But where one door closes we can always hope a window near by opens. That same week Grandma Bee passed away I visited the doctor and was surprised by some very good news. This second pregnancy has been much less eventful than the first and so far there are no signs of blood clots which means we get to do this labor and delivery the good ole fashioned way. For us this means no IVC filter surgery and no inducing of labor. I recall last time being sad that we wouldn't get to experience the whole water breaking ordeal and rushing to the hospital... but this time I'm left in a nervous/excited state of mind because the planner in me now has to deal with the unexpected wait time of when will this actually happen?! Overall, this is excellent news and we are thrilled. 

Speaking of babies, we now have a place to store all of the kids stuff in our home: the playroom is finally complete! I searched back in our photo archive to find 'before' photos and discovered the images dated all the way back to December of 2015 which means this project has taken us over a year. Whew. But it's already proving to be well worth the wait. All the saved dollars on the heating bill aside (the new insulation is incredible and totally worth the cost), the room is such a fun space for Natalie and her soon to join brother to hang out on cold/rainy days when they can't go outside. The once unused space is now totally open for business. 

This year in particular, December has been a season of firsts for us. With a growing family and with Natalie now old enough to really experience things, we started some family traditions: chopping down a real tree (they are 100% recyclable, you know?), baking Christmas cookies using my Grandma DeKoekkoeks cookie press and hanging lights outside on our house - so fun and totally addicting! This year we were happy to slow our pace and visit with friends and family over dinner together and enjoyed all the slower moments. 

Spritz cookies using my Grandmas cookie press. 

Spritz cookies using my Grandmas cookie press. 

We kicked off our holiday celebrations with our annual neighborhood progressive dinner party. We love our block and really appreciate having fun people as neighbors.  Having grown up in the country where neighbors were nonexistent, being part of a community like this is something I've always hoped for when I had a family of my own. Grabbing drinks together and cheers'ing to Christmas is one thing, but being able to call your neighbor to borrow a ladle or heck, watch your kid for an hour last minute is something you don't find everyday. And calling our neighbor last minute might come in handy here pretty soon when the unexpected arrival of baby happens! 

Natalie spent a lot of time this month checking out the tree at home. 

Natalie spent a lot of time this month checking out the tree at home. 

And last weekend we spent all of our time with family, first in Schoolcraft with the Smiths followed by a few days in Rockford on the lake with the Kladders. Like I said, Christmas this year was different and by different I mean way more fun because Natalie totally 'got it.' She opened presents, ate the cookies and watched the Christmas shows. Her genuine excitement added that touch of magic that had been missing before. 

As we head straight for the New Year, we wish you and your family all the best for fresh and happy beginnings. Enjoy all of the slower moments! 

 

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