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Kladder Update: Quick Labor Day Recap & More

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Life right now feels like it's moving at one hundred miles a minute which is being driven by my workload. I'm in the midst of planning two large video shoots at our European headquarters in Munich, Germany putting me out of town all next week. And leaving behind Jeff and the kids at home has me on hyperdrive organizing things before I leave. Right now I'm relying heavily on the benefits of coffee, crockpot meals and grocery delivery services. Speaking of Shipt, did you hear you can now use mPerks with Shipt!? Amen, my friends. 

And while things at the office are heating up, home is beginning to settle down. Our nights and weekends are freed up for the popular neighborhood $5 pizza night at Harmony and the ever so coveted Saturday morning Fulton Street Farmer's Market strolls for fresh produce and those tasty frigg'n cookies. Give me all of the Gluten. 

Last weekend we enjoyed the Eastown Streetfair with friends. Four-strollers-wide we roamed Wealthy Street seeking food, trinkets for purchasing and face-painting - for the kids for the kids! We started with happy hour on our porch followed by more happy hour on our porch - living the dream! Kids went to bed unbathed and later than normal bedtime because, well, summer is still alive and well on Rosewood Ave. 

Some of the gals from Women's League. They make Wednesday nights very memorable. 

Some of the gals from Women's League. They make Wednesday nights very memorable. 

Also last Friday night I took a few hours off as Mom and Wife and went out with some girl friends from golf league to celebrate a birthday. We ate dinner at Wheelhouse, my fist time, followed by dancing at the Back Forty. Talk about Moms gone wild... birthday girl Amber took the (birthday) cake with impressive moves on the dance floor and stellar onstage presence. I think we took the whole 'dance like no one is watching' slogan to the next level.

All the pretty ladies celebrating Amber's birthday last weekend at Wheelhouse. 

All the pretty ladies celebrating Amber's birthday last weekend at Wheelhouse. 

Jeff and I have been fortunate to golf together (we usually golf separately during our own league times) the last few weeks with some last minute Sunday afternoon rounds during the kids nap time (thank you babysitters!) and we even paired up with my in-laws two Fridays ago at Thousand Oaks for a change of golf scenery. This kicked off of Labor Day Weekend. Golf was followed by happy hour on the Reds patio and later that night, a date with just the two of us at the newly opened Noco Provisions in Forest Hills. We were very happy with our dinner and think the place will do great in Forest Hills neighborhood. Jeff had the ribs and I ordered a very tasty salad and we shared the Calamari for an appetizer. 

The Calamari at Noco Provisions, tasty! 

The Calamari at Noco Provisions, tasty! 

The rest of the Labor Day weekend was spent both with friends for a day at their pool in Ottawa Hills watching the Michigan game (so fun!) and then with family at the lake in Rockford. The weather was great and per usual, the hospitality of my mother-in-law Mari left us with full bellies and happy hearts. 

The kids are doing fantastic. Here's a fun fact, Thomas is now in the same size diapers as Natalie. Which tells us two things: 1. Thomas is a BIG, healthy boy and 2. Natalie is still not 100% potty trained. Which is super duper cool. Potty training drama aside, we've got good babies who make things easy for us and that makes us very grateful. 

Thomas Christopher at 5 months. 

Thomas Christopher at 5 months. 

And outside of prayers of gratitude for this excellent summer we're having, we've certainly got plenty of other things to pray for lately: hurricane disasters, friends with serious health challenges and some with sick grandparents. The Kladder house may very well be a chaotic one (at times), but we've always got plenty of room. We've got room for your needed prayers, room to make you meals and buy you bagels, and room to just listen over coffee or a cocktail. Call on us and we will be there. Grace and peace. 

POSTSCRIPT - Things we're into lately... 

  • The Donut Conspiracy!!! Ohemgee... so so good. We had them on set at one of our shoots last week and I could not stop eating them. 
  • Happy Hour at Reds at Thousand Oaks Golf Club. Discounts on apps, wine, beer and cocktails! 
  • The Cobb Salad at Wheelhouse. Pretty much two bites of lettuce and then 2 times the amount of Cobb Salad toppings! 

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Kladder Update: Fredrick Meijer Gardens, Rosewood Avenue & #RWGR

Natalie enjoying the Great Lakes Garden (water pools) at the Lena Meijer Children's Garden. 

Natalie enjoying the Great Lakes Garden (water pools) at the Lena Meijer Children's Garden. 

We are very sad to report the closing of one of our favorite happy hour spots, Mangiamo! It's where Jeff and I shared our first date and where we celebrated the night of our engagement. And more recently where we 'happy-hour'd' with neighbors. They're closing their doors as a public restaurant and will transition to an events space. They can take away our happy hour lawn... but they can't take our memories!!! 

True story, we started brainstorming ideas about Halloween costumes already. Real talk, it's only two months away. Fall is on it's way, folks, and we're doing our best to soak up all the last bits of summer that remain by spending plenty of time dining on patios, enjoying Fredrick Meijer Gardens and, surprise, golfing. We've got lots to catch up on... 

The first week of August kicked off with our annual neighborhood block party. Last year we were confined to one of our backyards due to the never ending construction of our street, but this year the kids had free reign of Rosewood covering the newly paved avenue with side walk chalk and water balloons. There was a bounce house, tons of food and a piñata. The high was certainly watching the plethora of kids playing together which is only meant to escalate as babies continue to make their debut. The low was breaking my toe which isn't even a good story: I accidentally kicked brick edging on our sidewalk while walking. I spent two hours in the ER waiting for them to X-Ray and reset my left baby toe, only to send me home with 3 rolls of tape and Tylenol. 

The toe breaking wasn't the best timing - the next morning we headed out for a week long family trip to the U.P. where it would have been ideal to have full use of my foot. Read more about our trip HERE.

We recently enjoyed a few summer nights (and mornings - Natalie LOVES the children's area)  at Fredrick Meijer Gardens listening to music in their fantastic amphitheater. FMGs is regularly open late on Tuesdays but during the summer there's an added bonus with free concerts (for members) featuring local bands that are completely kid friendly. We also had tickets to Twiddle & Railroad Earth last week Monday which was a Rosewood Neighbor outing. FMGs remains a Grand Rapids gem. 

Last weekend we headed towards the lake shore for a summer party with Jeff's clients in North Muskegon. My mom took the kids for the night allowing Jeff and I a night out together. Our Friday night was countered with dinner Saturday with the kids and Jeff's parents for Restaurant Week Grand Rapids at Reds at Thousand Oaks. Dinner was excellent and was followed by an evening boat ride at the lake. And Sunday we snuck away yet again for some day golfing while a sitter watched the kids for a few hours. 

This week I've been in Chicago for work shooting video with Microsoft. I love traveling for shoots and spending my days on set. Jeff does an incredible job holding down the fort while I'm gone - he's the champion of Dads - and we've got great support with daycare and our sitters. I'll likely be doing a bit more travel for work the remainder of this year with trips currently planned for both L.A. and Munich, Germany in the next month. 

Heading back to Grand Rapids today with more outdoor patios on the forecast for our weekend. Have a fabulous weekend!  

On Set in the Steelcase Chicago Showroom with partner Microsoft. 

On Set in the Steelcase Chicago Showroom with partner Microsoft. 

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Summer Family Trip 2017 - Ontonagon, Michigan

Jeff and Natalie kayaking down the West Branch of the Ontonagon River. 

Jeff and Natalie kayaking down the West Branch of the Ontonagon River. 

Altogether, our trip this year was a challenging one. With two young kids, an 8 hour car ride and a final destination that consists of a remote cabin in the middle of the Porcupine Mountains… the challenge should have been no surprise. 

Our annual trip to Camp Whisky Hollow, located just outside of Ontonagon, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula, has always been a special part of my summer. We’ve been ‘vacationing’ there since I was a kid and when Jeff and I started dating, he joined too. And now with kids in the picture, our tradition continues to evolve. This year we were challenged with a number of factors: I broke my toe the day before we left grounding me a bit more than normal, Thomas cut his first two teeth during the trip (poor guy) and despite our best efforts, we just can’t do everything we used to when our group now includes a newborn and a 2-year-old. 

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Natalie had the time of her life soaking up every bit of attention given to her by Grandma, Uncle Jason and Aunt Rachel. She took four-wheeler rides, kayaked with Jeff down the Ontonagon River and ate her body weight in peanut butter filled pretzels. Both her and Thomas took baths in the newly completed 'shower room' at camp which works off a rain water collection system. And big news... we've got hot water! which runs off a propane heater. It's absolutely glorious. 

The interior of the cabin where the family cooks, eats and hangs out playing cards at night. 

The interior of the cabin where the family cooks, eats and hangs out playing cards at night. 

My dad continues to tinker with the new camp that he started with my brother and the many helping hands of friends just over 3 years ago now. The cabin is Dad's pride and joy and we're all convinced he'll never stop working on it. My Mom continues to furnish it with an ever growing collection of cast iron cookware and ornamental hooks. She's a big fan of antiquing and the cabin is another space for her to shop for. And you won't find us complaining... with 4 private bedrooms plus a loft area for sleeping, a shower room, a sauna (my favorite room), a wrap-around-porch and a kitchen/dining room that rivals most, we feel right at home. 

Throughout the week the group went kayaking and fishing on the Ontonagon River that runs directly in front of the camp. We rode four-wheelers and played around with the Argo, a land and sea 6-wheeled ATV. We spent a day at the beach on Lake Superior with friends (the water was freezing!) and made a few day trips into civilization stopping for drinks at Stubbs Bar in downtown Ontonagon and Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton. We did have one cabin-fever day when the weather was crummy that was spent working on the cabin, slow cooking a beef roast and playing cards which wasn't a bad way to spend a rainy day. 

Food is a big part of the week and something my Dad puts a lot of thought into. There are a few major food groups including meat, potatoes and a whole lot of butter. We were treated with eggs benedict, cinnamon french toast, SO much bacon, homemade french onion soup and the mother of all meals: the low country seafood boil. Photos provided... beware of drooling on your screen.  

It was a good break from the normal pace of life and a forced time out from our constant connection to the internet. Thanks to Grandpa and Grandma for providing us an escape like no other. Don't forget to get yourself some nature before summer is over! 

Intersted in reading more about Camp? Check out posts from past years... 

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