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Please Wipe Your Feet. {Our Code of Conduct}

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2009 was a terrible year.  And a great year.

Three years ago, my family was planning to leave Grand Rapids and follow a job with my husband’s company.  I quit my job teaching chemistry in anticipation of the move.  And then the economy tanked and the auto industry imploded.  My husband’s auto-related job that we were relocating for vanished.  Amazingly, my husband quickly landed another job (albeit in Kalamazoo.)

Given all the upheaval, we tabled the idea of moving and I found myself in a new role as a full-time stay-at-home mom.  I was thrilled that I would get to spend more time with my 2 kids but I quickly realized I needed an outlet for myself.  Since I had been sharing family event lists with my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group for the past 2 years, I decided to buy the grkids.com domain name to make sharing events with my friends even easier.  And Voila! grkids.com was born the next day when I started uploading events to an online calendar.

What happened next is nothing exciting.

I spent lots of time on my website, not because it was popular, but because it was fun for me.  It was a hobby and it gave me something to do with my mind in addition to all the diapers, feedings and play dates.  Throughout that first year, I probably annoyed a lot of people because I wouldn’t shut up about the website.  I even gave business cards to other moms standing in the checkout line next to me at Meijer!

My shameless campaigning for grkids.com didn’t stop.

I thought everyone with kids would want to know about this free, amazing resource that I spent so much time on, so I kept working for no pay and no real recognition for almost a year.  As I worked, I was continually amazed by the amount of information out there for families. It became a personal challenge to see how many events I could find to add to the event calendar.  And it was a real ego-booster when I’d get an email from a local mom telling me how she was using the website and that it had made her life better.  Yay!

Decision: Take the Jump

As year number two for grkids.com came and went, I realized that this was a viable business and that I needed to decide if I really wanted to do this as a job and not just a hobby.  Discussions with my husband, a lot of soul-searching, and prayer gave me the go ahead I needed.

Now that the website has celebrated its third birthday, we’ve realized that it is here to stay.  Needless to say, grkids has changed a lot since those early days when it was just my friends online.  But in some ways we haven’t changed.

Minding the bottom line.

Running a website isn’t cheap. I bought the domain name grkids.com and pay the yearly hosting fees that keep the website functioning.  I also funded the recent website redesign and  I pay other stay-at-home moms to help with the calendar, newsletter, and event reviews.  I am also privileged to answer your emails, facebook posts and tweets.

To make this all happen, I must secure and coordinate advertising so that we’ll have funds to keep the site going.  I tell you this now, not to boast or put anyone off, but to shine light on what many may not know:  grkids.com is not a large corporation.  grkids.com is a small, private business that started almost accidentally in my home just a few short years ago.  Even today, GRkids.com is still a tender, new organization that needs TLC from all of us.

Maybe you can relate: grkids is like my fourth child.

Having put so much energy and effort into it, I’m proud to see the website grow and take shape as a trusted community resource.  But sometimes I have to guard my “baby.”  Since the internet can be anonymous, it’s a place people can do and say almost anything.  But, please remember:

Visiting grkids.com is like visiting an acquaintance’s house.

I will have almost anyone who is willing over to my house. And when you come into my house, I’ll welcome you and offer you refreshments- but I may ask you to take off your shoes or wipe your feet.  For the most part, you’d probably be cool with that.  And that’s all I ask when you visit grkids.com.  Think of the other people on the site as guests in your living room.  And please, treat our advertising partners in the same way – without them, there would be no grkids.com.

The hard truth: We’d hate to see you go, but it’s your choice.

Unfortunately, I have to moderate the comments we get on the grkids blog and facebook page – you’d never believe how much spam there is out there.  But I also remove comments that are unkind, contain swear words, or are argumentative.  Don’t get me wrong – disagreements are welcomed.  Constructive conversations are encouraged.  When phrased with grace, these can be very helpful.  It’s comments like “This place is too expensive” or “I don’t know why anyone would go there” or “That’s stupid” that won’t make the cut.  Rather, posting “This place requires budgeting if you’d like to go,” or “This event doesn’t fit my family right now, but maybe someday we’d use it,” are great.

You and I have taken great care to craft a supportive, welcoming community.

I believe that parents and caregivers of children in our community have the same goal- we want to help our families grow stronger and have fun while we’re doing it.  GRkids.com is proud of the little community we’ve built online together and we want to keep it a safe and welcoming place.

Sincerely, I thank you for doing your part in making grkids.com what it is today!











Melody V

Melody V

Melody started grkids.com in 2009 on a whim. The site has grown leaps and bounds since then and she is just as amazed as everyone else. She enjoys listening to audiobooks, creating with chalk paint, tickling her kids and enjoying our wonderful city.



  • Keli Christopher via Facebook

    Great article! It is inspiring to see how grkids.com has grown and I appreciate the work you do to keep it positive and informative :)

  • Kelly Tietz Van Eerden via Facebook

    love gr kids and even though my kids are getting older, I go on all the time to take nieces and nephews places and recommend it all the time! you do such a great job, keep it up!!!

  • Chris Jennifer via Facebook

    I have followed you from almost the begining and now 2.5 years later my four and six year olds are growing too old for many of the activities listed. I was wondering if there was a way to include activities for older children as well as younger ones. I have found that once my boys hit school age finding “affordable family friendly older child” events is getting a bit tough. I know (okay I hope!) there are events out there for the older child, I just don’t know where to look. Your website came to me at a time in my life when I needed it, but I am too selfish to want to outgrow it! I still use the site daily to find ideas for my childcare, my niece and nephew and numerous friends, but I miss using it for my own family. Thank you for all you do. I realize it is very time consuming, but from the bottom of my heart you have saved me as a “mom, employer, aunt and friend” so much time and I thank you!!!

  • Julie Balanda via Facebook

    It was good to meet you (and your train!) at Ada Park the other day! With 5 kids, I’m always checking your calendar to see what’s happening in our area. Thanks for creating a place to quickly access daily activities :)

  • grkids.com via Facebook

    Chris Jennifer amd Kelly Tietz Van Eerden- Thank you for your kind words! Here’s the reality we’ve found about older kids’ activities- once the kids hit school-age, there are not as many one-day opportunities offered for older kids during the school year. We do find that changes a lot in the summertime. In the meantime, know that we do include activites on the calendar for babies up through teens and you can filter events on the calendar by age if desired. Hope this helps, and thanks for being loyal followers!

  • Molly Hoekzema Pippin via Facebook

    I LOVE grkids.com and I recommend it to anyone with little kids. I too use it daily with 2 little ones at home and am grateful for an awesome (and free!) resource. Also, love the site redesign – it’s professional looking and easy to navigate.

  • Gina Thomas via Facebook

    Love your website, enjoyed your article. Thanks for all the hard work you do in making my life easier;)

  • grkids.com via Facebook

    Julie Balanda- Thank you for introducing yourself! You handle 5 kids with such grace! and Molly Hoekzema Pippin- thanks so much! I love the new site, too. =)

  • Kelly Tietz Van Eerden via Facebook

    totally understand by the way that there’s more baby/younger kids stuff 😀 We still do use it for our own but I use it much more for younger kids!!!! You need cheaper/free stuff more when they’re younger any way. School age you run from one activity to another and try to squeeze homework in between :}

  • Michelle

    Thank you! My husband and I adopted 2 special needs children from the foster care system last year and I found myself a stay-at-home mom as well. Your website has saved the day more than once and has helped us plan great time together. My family in Detroit are sick of hearing about this great website b/c they don’t have anything like it! That makes me proud to live here and be a part of this community. Thank you for all that you do!

    • Melody V
      Melody V

      Wow, what a big change for you and your family! We are so glad that you find the site useful. On a side note, we are on the look out for resources that would be suitable for special needs families, so if you know of any please let me know.

  • Tiffany Crampton via Facebook

    I have lived in GR for almost 4 years and JUST recently stumbled upon your website and fb page. My kids are 8 and 6, and there is still plenty of info I get from you, ideas for things to do, and places to check out! Thank you so much for taking the time to do what you do!! I know my kids and I love it!

  • Tamara Abboud

    Great article and inspiring … you followed an idea, a dream without recognition, to see it succeed is wonderful! I love this blog and I’m so thankful Grand Rapids has you living here, the many hours you log in to make this blog a true resource for families is appreciated! :) Thank you!

  • kris

    You have done an outstanding job and I am grateful every day for this website. The resources that you provide for families is outstanding, and we can pick and choose activities based on our interests and budget. I wish this would have been avaialble when my own children were growing up, but now I use this website for activities with my grandchildren. thanks again for all your hard work, Melody.

    • Melody V
      Melody V

      Thank you Kris, for your kind words! Your grandchildren are blessed to have an involved grandparent like yourself. I am glad that we can be of service to you!

  • Claudia

    Loved the article and knowing the “behind the scenes” of grkids.com!! :)
    I don’t know what should I’ve done without your website! We really love it and visit it daily!!!
    Thanks SO MUCH, Melody

  • Willow Cramer

    I love your blog!! I don’t know what I would do with out it!!! I love being on the go and it is so nice to have stuff to do!! My only problem is there is too much stuff :) My husband wants to relax sometimes but I can’t miss anything!!! Thanks for all your hard work I really appreciate it!!

  • Jennifer Briggs via Facebook

    Nicely put, Melody!

  • Camille Zoet Deboer via Facebook

    This is a good piece and relevant to many online interactions.

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  • Tamara

    Eloquently put, Melody. I’m amazed sometimes at the way we parents express ourselves unabashedly online. We’d never allow that language from our children, yet we use it without hesitation when no one can see our faces.

    Good manners show themselves in every situation, even online. Thank you for gently enforcing appropriate behavior on an excellent website!

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