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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... 



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 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 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. 


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? 

Brewery Vivant Kids.jpg


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. 

Perrin Brewing Bend and Brew.jpg



Wealthy Pool Swim Lessons in East Grand Rapids, Michigan

Wealthy Pool East Grand Rapids Swim Lessons.jpg

For us, just as a general note, proximity is key. We naturally gravitate toward things (parks, restaurants, stores, etc.) because they are geographically close. Lazy? Maybe. But I like to think the reason is more because we like to live local. 

We heard wonderful things about the wildly popular Goldfish Swim School (located out on 28th Street and Cascade - a good 15 to 20 minute drive for us depending on traffic) but we decided to check out our local swimming pool at Wealthy Elementary instead. 

Wealthy Pool.png

Wealthy Pool offers both private lessons as well as group classes for learning to swim. And Natalie has done both! Last Spring we signed her up for private lessons with Miss Barb (one of the 3 instructors on staff there) for a series of 30 minute sessions. At that time Natalie had just turned 2-years-old and the lessons were focused more on getting to know the water and splashing around. Miss Barb was warm and inviting and made Natalie's first swim lesson experience a good one. I could tell immediately that she was a seasoned instructor and works very well with children. 

Private lessons are $29 a session for residents (those who live in the East Grand Rapids City limits) and $39 for non-residents. Natalie's lessons were one on one (just her and Barb) and they had the entire pool to themselves. I watched from a chair off to the side. We also got to chose our time (8:45am on Wednesdays) based off the instructors availability. They were flexible and easy to schedule. 

To make private swim class arrangements at Wealthy Pool call or email Director Betsy Granstra ( # 616-949-1750). 

And this winter Natalie and I signed up for their Monday night parent-child group swim lesson. For 5 weeks/sessions the cost was $48 for residents ($63 for non-residents) and lasted for 30 mins each time. The group lessons included instruction on how to get in and out of the pool properly, signing/games and learning the basics of swim form. I was in the pool with Natalie which was a fun thing to do together. 

Overall, our experience at Wealthy Pool was excellent. Not only is it 2 minutes from our house and much cheaper in comparison to other swim classes, but the staff and their programs are high quality.

Bonus Info: 

  • Wealthy Pool is a warm water pool and they keep their temps between 86-87 degrees. 
  • Parking is super easy and located on the NW side of Wealthy Elementary School. 
  • They have family locker rooms as well as separate Womens and Mens locker rooms that include showers and suit drying machines. 
  • There is also an observation room if you'd rather sit outside of the closed in pool space off to the side. i.e. if you have a toddler with you who you'd rather not walk into the pool like their sibling swims.