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Review: Captured in Clay, Grand Rapids

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As a kid I remember pressing my hand into freshly laid cement in my parents new driveway leaving behind my tiny handprint that still remains today. It’s a sweet memory not only for me, but for my parents as well. That’s why when I learned of Captured in Clay, a local company who specializes in making these lasting memories, I called and made an appointment.

Captured in Clay creates handmade clay tiles capturing your child’s (or pet’s!) exact hand or foot impression. Jen Dyke, who acquired Captured in Clay last year from founder Deana Brownlow after 14 years of successful business, runs the company out of her home studio located in Hudsonville, Michigan. She’s a one woman show who creates the tiles from start to finish.

Jen's home studio is located at: 2295 VanBuren Hudsonville, MI 49426

Jen's home studio is located at: 2295 VanBuren Hudsonville, MI 49426

The tiles come in a variety of colors, sizes and shapes and most importantly, the material used is 100% non-toxic which makes it safe for your little ones. Prices for tiles range anywhere between $25 and $150 depending on specific design, size and layout. There are fun additions to the tiles such as beads and wires for hanging which adds onto your tile cost.

Two months ago we had our second child and I called Jen for an appointment for the following week. The appointment took less than 30 mins and she was wonderful working with our newborn. She already had everything prepped and ready to go upon our arrival and even had a bin of toys for our toddler to play with while we captured our newborns handprint. Our experience was professional, yet personal even down to the fact that she runs the business out of her home – it was like she was inviting us over for a cup of tea! Because she works alone she did ask for my help in holding our son while she worked with his hand and foot to get just the right impression. She was very good at providing instruction on how to assist her.

Jen took two imprints of both the hand and foot of our son, one for a tile for my mother-in-law (a gift for her birthday) and a circular clay ornament for my mom (that we’ll give to her at Christmas). The tiles took Jen 3 weeks to complete and when they were done she sent me a text letting me know they were ready for pickup, which she leaves beautifully packaged on her door step.

This was our second experience with Captured in Clay and both were wonderful. We now have both sets of our kids hand and foot prints beautifully on display at both of our parents homes. My only regret was not getting a set for our own home!

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My Honest Feeding Story: Nursing as a Full-Time Working Mom

On our first baby, my mother-in-law nicknamed me 'Bessie the Cow.' Don't worry, it was all in good fun; I had asked her multiple times to store my breast milk in her freezer because ours was full. I had to agree with her, one of those metal bells that hangs around a cows neck would have been appropriate. 

I had two deep freezers full of frozen 'liquid gold' and all without the help of those tips and tricks you read about on the internet: brewers yeast, lactation cookies, power pumping, etc. For me, producing milk was not a problem. 

We are now onto round two of breastfeeding with our second baby and it's been a bit like ground hogs day - the same feeding story, different cute baby. To say I'm 'proud' I've been able to provide this for our family would be the wrong use of words. Grateful is more appropriate. Grateful and comforted to know that when I return to work after maternity leave that our son will have no shortage of nourishment in my absence. 

I work full-time and sometimes with that comes mom-guilt. Guilt that I chose to work rather than stay home with my two kids. But for some reason, when I pump at the office it makes me feel like I'm doing both. I'm making time for both. A big part of my guilt relief can be attributed to my employer who fully supports working moms through their Mothers Rooms (for pumping), Maternity Leave benefits and even their respect for family time, meaning, if I need to leave because my daughter is sick I can do so without getting the stink eye. They even cover the cost to ship frozen milk home when I'm on the road. Dry ice deserves a big round of applause! 

And so logistically, as working mom I find myself pumping more than I find myself nursing. It's part of the deal. But I don't mind because if I'm being completely honest, I prefer pumping over nursing. There are a multitude of reasons for this but the biggest: it fits our lifestyle. With two full-time working parents, a 2-year-old, an infant and a home to manage, our schedules are pretty precise. Pumping sessions are much easier to manage than feeding an infant on demand. What I lose in skin to skin bonding time with our son I gain back in my sanity. And that's incredibly important. Pumping allows not only for my freedom, but my sons as well. While I'm at the office he and our daughter are at daycare and my gallons of stored breast milk go with them which puts my 'Bessie the Cow' mind at ease.

The biggest lesson I've learned in this 'feeding my family' game is that there's no right way. There's only the way that works for us. And only the way that works for you. And only the way that works for the next parent. There's no doubt that feeding babies is a tough business to be in, but no matter the method, at the end of the day we're all faced with the same result: a dirty diaper. 

This is my Honest Feeding Story inspired by The Honest Company who's goal is not only to provide you with safe, non-toxic, beautiful products for your family and home, but also honest stories that provide support and inspiration. Check them out. 

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Family Friendly Happy Hour in Grand Rapids

We had our second baby just over a month ago which means Momma can 'happy-hour' again! And perfect timing too because the weather just screams, 'gin and tonic!' And while we LOVE having cocktails on our porch in the evenings, sometimes a venue change is just what the family doctor ordered. Here are our TOP 10 HAPPY HOUR LOCATIONS (in no special order) in Grand Rapids that are family friendly. 

Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

1. Mangiamo! in Cherry Hill

Overall, we are big fans of Mangiamo! - it's where Jeff and I had our first date so I'm a big softy when it comes to this beautiful old house turned restaurant. Mangiamo is one of our happy hour go-to's with kids because (say it with me) it has a HUGE fenced in yard and patio. A big bonus for us is that it's within walking distance. So we pack up the kids, take a nice walk into Cherry Hill and grab a drink and a snack on the patio while Natalie roams the yard. Daily specials include half off ALL beverages which runs from 3pm to 6pm. If you want to order a snack for the kids, go on Monday night which is half off deep dish pizza and if you're looking for a takeout, try Tuesday night which is half off all pizza (deep dish included) for carry out only.  

Photo Credit: mynorth.com

Photo Credit: mynorth.com

2. Big Bob's in Gaslight Village

Outside of their micro brew selection on tab, tasty pizza and unique Briazzo (their take on a deep dish pizza), Big Bob's also offers sports TV entertainment and FREE popcorn which we all know is a kid pleaser. Daily happy hour specials include $1.50 off pints of beer as well as full glasses of wine for the price of half. Beware, it's located directly across the street from Jersey Junction (ice cream central for Gaslight)... you've been warned. 

Photo Credit: The Crazy Tourist

Photo Credit: The Crazy Tourist

3. Brewery Vivant in Cherry Hill

We love Vivant and Vivant loves kids/families. Not only do they offer a wonderful kids designated space on their patio, but Vivant is also a big supporter of the Kids' Food Basket. Monday night is the day to go for happy hour with it's bring your own stein or boot night for liters starting at $5. While you're hanging out we highly recommend the duck nachos. If you're within walking distance you can feel comfortable parking your stroller or wagon outside the fenced in patio probably near the line of hipster bike brigade. 

Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

4. Rose's on Reeds Lake in Gaslight Village 

During the summer there's nothing better than drinking a cocktail on the water. Enter Rose's on Reeds Lake. Daily specials include $2.99 select draft beers, house wine, sangria, well drinks and cosmos. You can also get 20% all appetizers and wood-fired pizzas. Happy hour is from 2pm to 6pm. And, if you've got kids old enough to roam by themselves and you get a table on the patio, you can watch them from afar as they play next door in John Collins Park. 

Photo Credit: WoodTV8

Photo Credit: WoodTV8

5. Vander Mill located on Ball St. just off Michigan Ave. 

There's good news and bad news about Vander Mill: bad first... they don't actually have any happy hour specials BUT the good news is that they've got a perfect set up for kids on their patio and have live bands (at least last year they did) on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Their outdoor patio is spacious and fenced in which is perfect for letting your kids toot around in while you enjoy a beverage or two listening to the music. There are a few yard games but I'd even recommend bring a few outdoor toys for the kids to enjoy while you're there. 

Photo Credit: GRNow.com

Photo Credit: GRNow.com

6. Old Goat in Alger Heights 

It's hard to justify the drive (however short) to Alger Heights when the Old Goat's sister location, Electric Cheetah, is within walking distance to us. However, when Old Goat offers a kids food menu with a $4 price tag and great options like their TV Dinner (salisbury stead or turkey with peas, grits and a brownie) you put the kids in their car seats. They've got a great daily happy hour menu including $1 off draft beer, $3 house wines and even food options like $3 sweet potato fries - so good! Happy hour runs from 3pm to 6pm and if you've got a dog in the family, they are welcome on the patio as well. 

Photo Credit: Jose Babushkas

Photo Credit: Jose Babushkas

7. Jose Babushka's in Gaslight Village 

Jose Babushka's in EGR probably has the BEST happy hour menu on this list including daily specials of $3 well drinks, draft beer and house wine that runs from 2pm to 6pm. In addition to the daily happy hour, they also offer specials like $5 sangria on Friday and (our favorite) $3 off all margaritas and Mexican beer on Thursday. They've got a small patio that is great for the kids that also backs up to the EGR high school side entrance where the kids can roam while you eat those chips and salsa and get your rita on. Last year they had fun advertising their family friendly atmosphere by placing a 'stroller parking' sign out front. 

Photo Credit: Downtown Market

Photo Credit: Downtown Market

8. Social Kitchen and Bar located in the Downtown Market

The Downtown Market in general is a great place to take the kids... lots to look at and stroller friendly. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 3pm to 6pm and includes $3 draft beer, $5 house wine and well drinks, as well as half off appetizers, pizza, sides and select burgers. If you haven't been, place an order of fries for the table... it feeds an army and they are very tasty. It's a pretty loud atmosphere so you don't have to worry about the kids making noise. 

Photo Credit: Jonny B'z

Photo Credit: Jonny B'z

9. Jonny B'z on Wealthy St. 

Now that I have kids I look at Jonny B'z differently; Jonny's used to be the place to stop after the bar closed and now... well it's not that anymore! Happy hour runs from 3pm to 6pm Monday through Friday and includes $3 beer and $4 appetizers including smoked wings and sliders! You can't go wrong with hot dogs for kids and with their newly opened location you can post up on their fenced in patio for the happy hour win! 

Photo Credit: Harmony Brewing

Photo Credit: Harmony Brewing

10. Harmony in Eastown 

And last but certainly not least, our neighborhood hot spot: Harmony Brewing. We frequent Harmony often, mostly on Tuesday night, for their very little advertised $5 cheese and $6 pepperoni pizza night. It's a family friendly atmosphere both inside and out complete with crayons and even a stack of children's books to occupy the kids. Harmony offers happy hour from 2pm to 6pm Monday through Thursday which includes a $1 off beer. 

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