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Getting Coffee with Kids in Grand Rapids

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Mom'n ain't easy and that's why God gave us coffee beans. I like mine straight up, no mixers or in the form of an Americano. And sometimes I just want a solid cup of joe with my kid in tow. You too? Considering a few factors: kid-friendly atmosphere, ease of parking (because the distance I have to haul my kid and her stuff matters), coffee quality and treats... here are our TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS for getting local coffee with kids in Grand Rapids where you're going to feel welcome, aren't going to feel like you're bothering other patrons and ones that AREN'T Biggby or Starbucks. 

That Early Bird

Early Bird is located in Eastown on Lake Street. Open Monday through Saturday from 7a-9p and Sunday from 8a-9p, they serve breakfast from 7a-3p! They've also got a great pastry display including lots of sweet treats like their delicious lemon thumbprint cookies as well as gluten free/vegan options like their homemade granola bars. They serve Rowsters Coffee (which is another great coffee shop located on Wealthy not too far away - a much less kid friendly location) which is so tasty. What makes their place great for kids is not only the adorable sugar cookies your kids will leap over, but also their atmosphere. Early Bird is always busy which means a constant 'buzz' is in the air. In other words, if your kid sometimes gets really excited and forgets their indoor voice, no one's going to look at you funny. They also have a special kids table complete with wooden blocks and coloring books set up just for them. And last, don't worry too much about parking when visiting Early Bird, there are usually plenty of metered parking spots along Lake Street. 

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D'arts Donuts

If you (or your kids) are into donuts, be sure to check out D'arts located on Lake Street as well, just across the way from That Early Bird. Individual donut prices range from $1.25 to $2.75 depending on what kind you order. They make their donuts fresh daily and come in a multitude of unique flavors like PB&J and Whiskey Bacon. The space is a great setting for you to sip your coffee (they serve both Madcap and Ferris Coffee - both local and excellent depending on your preference of coffee bean) as well as for your kids to hang out in and munch on their donut. Again, the atmosphere is such that no one would be bothered if your kid decided to get down from their seat to wander a bit and check out the scenery. Here you may want to bring them your own coloring books and crayons or something to keep them occupied (and seated if that's what you prefer) while you enjoy your caffeine and sugar buzz. Parking is the same for D'arts as it is for Early Bird, metered street parking along Lake or any of the side streets which are free. Store hours are: Tuesday through Friday 6:30a-6p and Saturday and Sunday 8a-3p.  They are closed Mondays. 

Ferris Coffee & Nut

For something a little closer to central downtown you can count on Ferris located on the Westside of Grand Rapids just across the street from the YMCA. One of the best things about Ferris, behind their great coffee of course, is that they have their own parking lot which makes for super easy kid transfer. Their space is larger than most coffee shops and includes a few soft seating options that'll be more comfortable to relax in while you sip your coffee and your kid munches on their scone. A great perk about Ferris is that their coffee shop also doubles as their store front where you can buy nuts, candies and more in bulk. I usually try and plan my coffee stops at Ferris when I also need to pick up a quick gift - packaged coffee and nuts make a good one! Another great thing about Ferris is their outdoor seating space which is great accommodations for kids. Keep in mind it's not completely fenced in and still near the road, but it's much more manageable than the outdoor seating space at That Early Bird which is directly on Lake - a very busy street. 

Photo Credit: Madcap Instagram Account

Photo Credit: Madcap Instagram Account

Madcap Coffee in the Downtown Market (NOT the Center City location)

Unless you're simply walking downtown with your kid(s) in the stroller and need a cup to go, Madcap downtown on Monroe Center is NOT the place to post up with your kid(s) for coffee. Why? It's a popular spot for business meetings and quiet creatives who use the space to do heads down work. Trust me, I was once cool... I lived downtown... it's where the 'cool' people meet for coffee and they're going to make you feel bad if your baby cries in the middle of their very important meeting. "But the coffee is so good!" you say? I hear you, but no. Don't go there. Instead, you can get the same awesome coffee at their newest location just south of center city inside the Downtown Market. The Market is a much better place for you and your kid(s) to roam. You can grab a cup to go and walk around the market or go find a spot on the second floor indoors or if the weather is nice, on the balcony - its all walled in so the kids are trapped and you have a wonderful view of downtown. Bonus: the Downtown Market also houses Sweetie-licious Bake Shoppe which means: cookies, cupcakes, muffins and more. Your kid will be talking about it for weeks. For parking, the Market has it's own lot that's going to run you around $5 to park, but the cost is worth not having to try and find side street parking for free or at a meter. 

Photo Credit: Wealthy Street Bakery Instagram Account

Photo Credit: Wealthy Street Bakery Instagram Account

Wealthy Street Bakery 

Wealthy is a family owned bakery and cafe located of Wealthy Street just East of downtown. They have an incredible cranberry almond scone and feature daily cookie and muffin options. It's a popular spot but usually has available tables to sit with your company either indoors or outdoors (perhaps indoors with your kids, Wealthy is a busy street and the seating outdoors isn't fenced in). For parking, they have their own side lot that will sometimes have availability if you're patient (lots of folks pop in and out to pick up coffee/treats - stops lasting only a few minutes) or you can find plenty of spots along Wealthy which is free street parking. While you're there I highly suggest picking up a loaf of fresh baked bread for lunch/dinner later. It's fantastic. They also always have gluten free options if that's a requirement of yours. Again, I'd suggest bringing some crayons/coloring books to keep the kids occupied while you enjoy your coffee or chat with a friend, but rest assured you'll feel more than welcome getting coffee with your kids here. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS - Also great options to try out... we could only pick 5!

  • Hall Street Bakery  - Same great offerings as Wealthy Street Bakery (they have the same owners!) but perhaps might be closer to you? Located on Hall Street and in the summer they have a wonderful patio! Outdoor voices! 
  • Cakabakery - Who doesn't love a good cookie? In their new space on Fulton they now have cinnamon rolls, serve local coffee and yes, they have seating so you can get comfortable and chat for a while. 
  • Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe - A great new place in Eastown in the Windmill Building (aka the former residence of Cakabakery). Unique sweet treats, same great atmosphere.  

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Kladder Update: Laughfest, Butterflies & Big News for Steelcase

Doing lots of baking in our house these days. Spring can't come soon enough! 

Doing lots of baking in our house these days. Spring can't come soon enough! 

Big news was announced last week at Steelcase, where I work, on our new partnership with Microsoft. The past few months have been busy for the marketing team getting lots of tactics in place in time for the public announcement that went live Monday. This winter at lot of my time and attention has been devoted to the creation of the partnership video which was a collaboration between both companies and shot here in our Work Lab on our Grand Rapids campus. 

Also in work news, we're adding an assistant video producer to our team and are currently in the process of interviewing. Ideally we'll have this person selected before my maternity leave (just over a month away now) so they can keep things rolling while I'm away and then eventually manage the projects here in the Americas market freeing more of my time to further develop our resources in our Asian and European markets. I'm looking forward to some more international travel upon my return later this summer. 

And while things aren't quite tidied up and ready for me to leave work quite yet, it's the complete opposite at home. The new baby's room is completely ready for his arrival. I think having been through the process once before is leaving me feeling really prepared. Last week I even bought the Cadillac of double strollers, the City Select Baby Jogger, second hand, off our neighborhood resale site. And so, yes, I'm feeling prepared, excited and strong (and round) as we move (roll) into this last month. 

Last weekend we checked out the newest neighborhood restaurant addition, Matchbox, and loved it! A few Rosewood neighbors and us stopped in for dinner Friday night and I was impressed by their food, ambiance and was totally thrilled they are within walking distance to our house. Eastown just keeps getting better! Jeff ordered the fish entree which was very tasty (um, butter) while I had a salad that was giant and super fresh. We also shared fries and a mushroom app with the table that were also great. They serve breakfast all day long and also worth mentioning, they have prosecco AND Old Style on tap (Old Style = $1.50!).  I'm returning with girl friends this weekend for brunch so it's safe to say we totally recommend it. 

Photo Credit: matchboxdiner.com

Photo Credit: matchboxdiner.com

The butterflies are blooming! at Fredrick Meijer Gardens and last Monday we had a family date night at their member event. While there weren't near as many butterflies flying around as we expected (thinking many of them were still hanging out in the caterpillar hut just yet?), Natalie had as good a time as any walking around the indoor gardens. There were kids crafts, face painting, a live steel drum band which captivates the toddler in anyone and snacks (donuts!). The visit has gotten us excited for the announcement of the full concert schedule hosted there this summer. 

Lent is upon us and we're holding true to one of our new years resolutions by adding more intention to our faith practices. Mars Hill is offering 6 Vesper (which simply translates to evening or night) services each Sunday through Lent hosted at St. Cecilia Music Hall. We attend the last two Sundays with a group from our church followed by discussion together over dinner and drinks after the service. If you're looking to push your boundaries in faith practices, it's a great opportunity. You can register HERE, it's free.

Saturday we got 'seriously funny' and supported Laughfest and attended Joel McHale at DeVos Performance Hall. Preceded by sushi at Maru before hand (so good), we laughed through nearly 2 hours of solid comedy. Joel catered his routine to us as a city including ones about our local beer culture, Amway Corporation and he even gave us some crap on how if we were to have built our city on the lake shore we could essentially be Chicago right now. And damnit, now all I can think about is how sweet it would be to look out my office window and see Lake Michigan. 

Last, as we prepare to add another member to our Grand Rapids family I've decided to commit a few more posts to the blog that is curated family content. The new GR Family Series will cover everything from lists of family friendly restaurants to the best parks and even pointers on where you might get your kids swim lessons. With a first hand experience of what it's like to raise a family here in GR, we figure... why not share what we're learning?! We'll begin with our top 5 Grand Rapids locations to get coffee with kids. Keep an eye out for that post soon! Have a great week everyone! 

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Kladder Update: Ai Wei Wei, Birthday Parties & Valentines Day

We are on the less than 8 week countdown for baby boys arrival and getting really excited. This pregnancy has flown by and bonus... it's been way less eventful than the first time through. I like being pregnant just fine but I am really looking forward to having cocktails, fitting into my jeans again and not having to administer shots daily. This baby is SUPER active and I think we might have a wiggle worm on our hands. 

We're considering Natalie prepped and ready to become a big sister: she is head over heels for the newborn at her daycare and plays with her baby dolls nonstop. We just finished her brothers nursery and have taken all the baby gear out of storage. At first, I was nervous Natalie would try to use the gear for herself but instead she's using all the gear for her dolls. It's the sweetest thing listening to her 'shush' her baby dolls and tell them, 'it's okay.' 

This past weekend Jeff headed north with a group of college buddies for a guys weekend in Charlevoix while Natalie and I enjoyed time together at home. We kept busy though and joined the wives and kids left behind by the guys weekend for a wine night on Friday and then we headed south to Schoolcraft on Saturday for my Mom and sister-in-law Rachels birthdays. We shopped, grabbed lunch and later that night we joined yet another birthday celebration for a family friend at Kids Gym in Portage. Miss Addie Parker turned the big 3-years-old this month and Natalie had a ball with the rest of the kids at the gym. 

Two weekends ago we took a family trip to Fredrick Meijer Gardens to visit the Ai Wei Wei exhibit currently on display. We were first introduced to Wei Wei's work on our trip last summer in Eastern Europe. During our stay in Prague we visited Veletrzni Palace where Wei Wei has a permanent outdoor installation, The Zodiac Heads. Wei Wei's work is on display at FMGs through August and is a must see. The installation does an excellent job sharing the story of Wei Wei and easily explains the messages behind his work. Plus, it's pretty cool to look at. 

That same weekend we kicked off Valentines Day with cookie decorating and Valentine making with neighbors. On Valentines Day evening we continued the celebration by dining out at Terra in Eastown. I'm a big fan of Terra's atmosphere and their food - never disappointed - and I'm an even bigger fan of the unconditional love marriage has brought to our lives. I personally think marriage unfairly gets a bad reputation and if I can step on my soapbox for a moment, I completely disagree! Marriage rocks and Valentines Day is a solid excuse to shout it from the rooftops! 

As we coast into March we remain hopeful that this weather will keep up! As everyone heads south to warmer weather, we'll be here in GR on the 'pregnant and can't fly anymore' list. Happy Monday/incredibly sunny February day to you all! 

POSTSCRIPT - What we're into lately... 

  • Kindle Fire for Kids - Holy game changer! Natalie got a kindle fire for Christmas and we used it for the first time in the car this weekend and there was not a peep out of her the entire way. The movie Frozen for the win! 
  • Klarbrunn Soda Water - A cheaper alternative to La Croix stocked in the same aisle at Meijer. I may like the grapefruit flavor even better than my La Croix go to.
  • Social Kitchen & Bar - Located in the downtown market, I had been for happy hour before but never dinner. Two weeks ago we joined neighbors for a bite and I was impressed by the food and service. 
  • Essentialism - The book I'm currently reading. Only a few chapters in but greatly intrigued by the 'Disciplined Pursuit of Less.' We're still keeping up on our more reading, less TV before bed 2017 goal. 

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