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Kladder Update: Summer's Not Gone Yet!

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I’m a sucker for Fall and everything the season brings with it, but you will NOT find me complaining about this extension of summer here in Grand Rapids! We’ve been maximizing on the opportunity spending the majority of our time outdoors. Let’s dive right in…

In the last two weeks we celebrated the marriage of two sets of friends, and lucky us given the incredible weather, both receptions were hosted outdoors! First, the style and class of Ryan and Emily Slusarzyk really shined through during their ceremony at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in the Pantland Ballroom. Following, their reception took up most of the outside main entrance at the JW Marriott where they tented the circle turnaround. We had a fabulous time on the dance floor and thanks to Grandma and Grandpa we were kidless all night long which means we stayed way out past our bedtime.

That same Saturday, Project 1 by ArtPrize launched. So, in between the ceremony and the reception we walked around downtown to check out some of the pieces in Rosa Parks Circle. Earlier in the week I got the low-down on the event from Brian Kelly’s podcast, Full Exposure, where he talked with ArtPrize Artistic Director and Curator Kevin Buist. But even after listening to the full episode I had to do some further digging into the event to better understand what it’s all about. Here’s what I gathered: Project 1 is an effort by ArtPrize to bring large scale artwork to Grand Rapids for 4 weeks. These are all pieces that likely would not have been possible to see/install during a typical ArtPrize (i.e. too much $$$, not enough space, etc.) and bonus, they all represent or speak to a defined social platform (i.e. handicap accessibility). There is no voting and no award money. It’s just large scale artwork on display for a month. There is also a series of events that are all listed on the ArtPrize website and you’re invited.

That day Jeff and I were able to check out 3 of the 5 works of art including Kaleidoscopic by Amanda Browder which are all those quilted blankets covering the pedestrian bridges downtown (as well as the building in MLK Park), the large Monopoly piece like sculpture just south of Rosa Parks by Olalekan Jeyifous titled The Boom and the Bust, and last, the lime green house roof Oracle of the Soulmates by Heather Hart. You can read more about these and the remaining two pieces of artwork here. Project 1 goes through October 27th.

The second marriage celebration was for friends Cody and Dana Canan who exchanged vows in Greece earlier this month and hosted a lovely reception back here in Grand Rapids last weekend. Dana has excellent taste in decor so it was no shocker that the party was picture perfect! Congrats and best wishes to both the happy couples.

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Changing gears a bit, last week I joined co-workers for a day at the United Day of Caring through the Steelcase and United Way partnership. I signed up to be a farm hand at the newly opened Kids Food Basket Garden, however, the torrential downpour prevented our group from going outside. Instead, we packed popcorn snacks for the nearly 8,500 kids who are served in the greater Grand Rapids area each day. And although our small task of bagging popcorn might seem small, I was very grateful to help where I could and learn more about the organization. Their organization is moving mountains.

The annual event Partyology with Ideology was a couple weeks ago and despite Jeff’s best efforts, he did not win first place at the race simulator this year. Nonetheless, I redeemed the family name as well as checked off one of my New Years resolutions for 2019 by taking the karaoke mic for a very surprising rendition of Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks. I’m still not certain it’s my ‘go-to’ song, however, it’s likely to be a strong contender. The party was a blast and between the ping-pong, video games, go-carts and karaoke… made us feel like teenagers for the night.

We attended our last Meijer Gardens Concert of the year with our neighbors to see Tash Sultana, an Australian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She was pretty darn awesome and her vibe was that of a festival. I’ve never seen the crowd more diverse which was a good change of pace. That said, Jeff and our neighbor Jay live streaming the Lions football game midway through the show didn’t help us blend in much but certainly provided some comic relief.

We enjoyed the Eastown Street Fair two weeks ago with the kids for a morning coffee stroll through the tents along Wealthy Street. I love shopping the local vendors for artwork and gifts for people. I found some adorable baby items for a friend who’s due later this winter (check!) but decided against the street meat because it wasn’t even 10am yet. We missed the live music that started later in the day but the kids enjoyed the walk and the people watching.

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Natalie is right back into the swing of the school year and so far is loving going full days. This is the first time I’ve had to pack her lunches and what seems to work is utilizing the bento box she got for her birthday earlier this year and packing an assortment of healthy snacks rather than a full meal. Recently we’ve been doing trail mix, a couple carrots, berries, popcorn, etc… and as a snacker myself, I’m all over this mom-task. Also, there’s a new baby at daycare and Natalie won’t stop talking about her. Our daycare lady Barb has shared that Natalie is the biggest helper and at home we’ve seen an increase in her taking care of her own tens of baby dolls. I think if this trend continues, it’s safe to say that our roles as grandparents one day is secure.

Younger brother Thomas is growing like a weed and what’s more impressive is his increasing ability to maneuver his own body. Just yesterday we took the kids to the playground and noticed Thomas is getting more coordinated with running which means he can go faster and almost keep up with Natalie. Right now he’s obsessed with specifically garbage trucks and buses and unlike Natalie, he’s tough as nails. Thomas can call down and less than 30 seconds later he’s back at it running full force.

Last weekend was spent with Jeff’s brother Matt, sister-in-law Sandy and their two girls Zoe and Rylan at the lake. Jeff and Matt golfed in the morning while Sandy and I took the kids to Robinettes for cider and donuts. We must have beat the crowds with our September visit because surprisingly we didn’t have to wait in line at the bakery and the play gear outside was also oddly vacant. And while the weather wasn’t quite warm enough for bathing suits back at the lake, the kids played on the beach back for the remainder of the afternoon. Later we grabbed dinner at The Score which is pretty incredible for families. They have a sweet play area that’s fully fenced in and includes a wooden ship with a slide and a couple retired jet skis the kids can play on. They’ve got live music every night of the week and as for food… pizza, wings, burgers… what more could you ask for! The kids played while us parents hung out which was exactly what everyone else at the surrounding tables was doing. If you’re looking for a good spot in the summertime with kids, we recommend it.

As Fall quickly approaches we’ve got lots to look forward to including a few more rounds of golf, a Fall family reunion and word on the street is that there may even be one last pool party to attend with this incredible weather predicted this weekend. Can’t wait!

POSTSCRIPT:

  • Align & Shine @ The Dailey Method is happening now and I’m 100% on board! The challenge includes prizes and… you guys… star stickers on a chart!

  • The Score Restaurant & Sports Bar is awesome for families looking for a dinner spot. Wrote a review on Yelp.

ON DECK:

  • Have you heard East Grand Rapids is going organic? Stonyfield is sponsoring a FREE event for families at John Collins Park this Saturday from 1-4pm.

  • Project 1 by ArtPrize is happening now through October 27th with a total of 5 works of large scale art on display.

  • Also, for those who will be out walking with the kids this Saturday and looking for a destination spot, Aquinas College has their homecoming celebration on campus all day. Last year there were tents with games, food and beer. Yes, beer.

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