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Kladder Update: NeoCon, Outdoor Concerts & My Birthday

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I saw a meme this week that said: “Running on coffee & Jesus” and it made me smile because at least through the month of June it pretty much defines my life. Between a busy work schedule, travel including a family vacation, birthday festivities and the regular summer fun... our lives are full! 

The air is buzzing with excitement over here at the Steelcase office as we continue announcing new partnerships (and acquisitions) and of course the ever important (and time consuming) Neocon. In the last week I've been back and forth to our Chicago Showroom in the Merchandise Mart for a handful of video work including 10 Facebook Live episodes! Last year during NeoCon I was still on maternity leave so it was fun to get back into the game with the team this year. Live productions are outside of our usual scope of work, however, as we continue developing our digital communication strategy I wouldn't be surprised if our work in this area continues to grow. And I think I can speak for most everyone on our video and social media teams when I say that we wouldn't mind one bit if this sort of work escalates because we had a blast running through the crowds and battling WiFi connections these last few days.

Before leaving for Chicago last weekend I was able to celebrate my 31st birthday with family and friends. Our Saturday kicked off with lunch with my parents and the kids. My parents gave me (and Jeff) a super solid birthday gift and took the kids over night for us so that we could celebrate with friends at the golf course. Girlfriend and golf-mate Amber planned a Trio Birthday Par-Tee for me and two others in our group out at Watermark complete with decor, prizes and dinner afterwards. Amber sells tea for a living and it's save to say that if she ever quits her day job, she'd be just fine planning parties for a living. Our team did not win, but Amber awarded me a medal anyway! 

Earlier that week we also celebrated my birthday with Jeff's parents over dinner (and GIANT homemade coconut cake by Mari - my favorite) and a very special wine tasting with family friends Dan and Kathleen Matson. We enjoyed 3 hours of red wine, snacks and great conversation. Jeff and I both enjoy wine and we are continuously learning from our parents and the Matsons. And so, the hobby continues to sneak up on us. 

And this month we kicked off our Fredrick Meijer Gardens summer concert series with our Rosewood neighbors for The Decemberists. There is something pretty awesome about these concerts in the outdoor amphitheater there but we got a total kick out of goofing about planning our own mock outdoor concert series... We should all bring our short lawn chairs to Wilcox Park and just pick an obscure Pandora station that's still common enough for one person in the group to know exactly two songs. And then we sell each other plastic cups of red or white wine for $9 each. Think about it, we wouldn't have to wait in any lines to park or go to the bathroom or to get a beer. We wouldn't have to scramble/battle strangers for a spot on the lawn and we could even have pizza delivered from Harmony! All that to say, COMING SOON: Rosewood Outdoor Playlists in the Park. But seriously, we do love concerts at FMGs and the expansion sure does look nice. 

The rest of June will be spent traveling! I'm heading to Boston for a quick trip for work followed by our ever anticipated family trip to Disney World! We are very much looking forward to a week away for some fun in the, what's predicted to be, super hot sun. I promise to pack our SPF and take lots of photos.

Stay cool and appreciate all your friends and family with pools and lake frontage! See you in July! 

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Kladder Update: Memorial Day Weekend, Summer Has Begun!

 Natalie & her buddy Maxine DeWitte. 

Natalie & her buddy Maxine DeWitte. 

Memorial Day Weekend was one for the record books! Here in Grand Rapids temperatures reached a high of 94 degrees breaking the all time high of 92 set back in 1977. And if you weren't near a pool or lake this weekend we sure hope you had access to air conditioning and ice cream instead! 

For us, each year Memorial Day Weekend officially kicks of the start of summer with family and friends at the Lake Bella Vista in Rockford.  It was the first time the entire Kladder family had all been in the same place since Christmas and we certainly made the most of our time together cooking out, tubing on the lake and playing on the beach. My favorite part of the weekend is the after dinner pontoon boat rides around the lake. At this point, the whole crew still fits on one boat. I figure we still have a few more years of this till the girls grow out of it both literally and figuratively. We joke about how it won't be long before they'll be taking the boat for rides around the lake solo leaving us in the dust. 

We forgot what it was like to have a 1-year-old at the lake during summertime. Thomas reminded us that babies are weird about sand and grass while he opted to spend most of his time in the shade on the blanket with toys. Natalie played so hard she asked to take naps and I think both our kids had a weeks worth of sugar in one single afternoon. But hey... it's summer!

Two weekends ago we partied hard with neighbors for a 40th birthday bash. Rosewood took our celebration duties seriously starting at 7pm at City Built Brewing for tacos followed by a 4 hour brew tour around the city. The bus ended at Billy's in Eastown which made for an extremely convenient walk home. A very happy birthday to Stefano and big thank you to his wife Kari for being a fantastic party planner. 

Earlier that week the Watermark Women's Association hosted our first summer golf outing: Golf is in Full Bloom! It was a partnered 18 hole scramble and my partner Jamie and I didn't even come close to winning. However, if there had been an award for the best team sunburn... that would have been a different story - I'm still peeling on my right arm. It was one of those perfect summer afternoons and I completely forgot to put on sunblock. That night (after I rubbed aloe over my sun kissed skin) I promptly put 2 bottles of SPF 30 in my bag. Won't be making that mistake again.

I'm still pretty jazzed about golf and improving my game. Jeff continues to be my biggest source of motivation in both his affiliation and talent for the game. I'll never be as good and him (no seriously, I won't, because he gets WAY more practice than I do) but at some point in our lives perhaps he'll be proud to play on a couples league together. 

 Wednesday Night Womens League at Watermark C.C. 

Wednesday Night Womens League at Watermark C.C. 

And a quick shout out to some of my best mom friends who I get go through parenting with. Sharing summer mornings with you and your kids over coffee and delicious donuts is exactly how I pictured parenting to be. I will continue to savor watching our kids play together and become best friends themselves. This season of life is so full in every sense of the word and I'm glad you're a part of it. 

Heading into June we've got a lot ahead of us including Neocon in Chicago (the biggest week of the year for my office), a family trip to Florida, my birthday and a few more golf tournaments including a day spectating at the LPGA again this year - I promise to pack my sunblock! 

POSTSCRIPT - Stuff we're into lately... 

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5 Family Friendly Breweries in Grand Rapids

 Photo Credit: James Richard Fry 

Photo Credit: James Richard Fry 

Grand Rapids is known as Beer City USA as well as a fantastic place to raise a family. It should be no surprise that our list of breweries is extensive, but what about meshing the two: family + brewery? Here's our list of top 5 family friendly breweries taking into account kid friendly atmosphere, menus and spaces. 

HARMONY EASTOWN

Harmony is a personal neighborhood favorite of ours with the biggest reason being how family friendly they are. This summer they will open their new addition including a larger outdoor patio that is completely fenced in - the fence is extremely helpful because of the busy Lake/Wealthy intersection just near by. They don't have a kids menu, however, they have wood fire grilled pizzas and if you go on Tuesday night they run a $6 cheese pizza special. The staff are accommodating with crayons, coloring books and high chairs, and they're happy to accommodate with cups (with tops) of chocolate milk. 

 Photo Credit: Harmony Brewing

Photo Credit: Harmony Brewing

VANDER MILL Grand Rapids 

Vander Mill is a cider mill rather than a brewery but one that completely deserves to make our top 5 list. Vander Mill offers another great outdoor patio space worthy of roaming kiddos. There's a bit more space with grass and trees where they can stray a bit further without disturbing other patrons. They offer a great kids menu including homemade Mac n' Cheese and Chicken Fingers with Fries that are sure to win your crew over. Vander Mill does have high chairs and the usual crayons and coloring sheets, but they also have yard games on the patio when it's open. And parking is easy at Vander Mill so you don't have to worry about walking far from car to front door. Last, they have a fantastic brunch menu as well on the weekends! 

CITY BUILT BREWING

City Built is a little slice of Puerto Rico right here in Grand Rapids. On their menu you'll find lots of plantains, spice and tacos! Sure, they offer a pleasing kids menu complete with the ever favorite cheese quesadilla, but it's the adult menu that's one for the record books. It's anything but your usual brewery sandwich. City Built got super thoughtful and has a designated kids area with a few buckets of toys and a chalkboard. It's fantastic. 

BREWERY VIVANT

Speaking of designated kids area, Brewery Vivant has an outdoor (yet indoor?) kids area located inside their sun porch that's open air. What's great about this? It's all closed in, has a sandbox, playhouse and little table and chairs for them to hang out at while you hang out just inside. At Brewery Vivant they're all about the kids by supporting the local charity Kids Food Basket - for every kids menu purchased, Brewery Vivant donates 5 meals to local kids in need. They've got a great kids menu (made from scratch Mac n' Cheese) and some fantastic beer - Big Red Coq anyone? 

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PERRIN BREWING COMPANY

Perrin is one that's large enough and loud enough where bringing the family is totally acceptable. They have a great outdoor patio (completely enclosed) that's ideal for sitting with kids and plenty on their menu to chose from including sweet potato fries - my kids fav. And for all those Moms (and Dads) out there looking for a little 'me' time, Perrin regularly offers what they call 'Bend & Brew' on Saturday mornings which includes yoga followed by a free beer! Check them out. 

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