We love our neighborhood in North Carolina – it's quiet and safe, with many tall trees and lots of birds and other wildlife. It has many young families, and there's a strong community spirit. There are neighborhood picnics several times a year, and also impromptu gatherings, like the winter weekend when about 20 children and parents gathered after a snowstorm, first to sled down the hill next to our house and then to share hot chocolate and stories and games.
We have a playground and swimming pool right in the neighborhood, a short walk from our house, and trails that connect to nearby parks. We have many friends in our neighborhood and community, including lots of friends with children. We also live very close to the district elementary school, which is highly rated, has a diverse group of students, and does a lot of outdoor education. The students run a butterfly garden and a vegetable garden, and they take field trips to local parks.
We bought this house specifically to raise a family – we have a room set aside for children, a guest room for visiting grandparents, and another room we plan to make into a dedicated playroom. We have a big back yard, where we're making a child-friendly garden (and also leaving a big open play space). The house is spacious, and there's a lot of natural light through our large windows. One of our favorite pastimes is sitting in the dining room and watching the squirrels play outside - we call it "squirrel TV."
All of our parents are retired and are extremely excited to welcome a new child into the family, especially on Nicole's side where this baby will be the first grandchild! Nicole's family lives on the other side of the country (Colorado and Oregon), but because her parents are retired they can come out for several weeks at a time. We have a nice guest room, and we are looking forward to long visits with grandparents.
Most of Rob's family lives within a day's drive, and we see them about every month or two. We expect his parents to spend several long weekends a year with us. The adopted child will have four first cousins on Rob's side, currently aged between a few months and ten years old. All of them (and their parents) are really excited to welcome a new cousin!
Rob's family owns a cabin on a lake in southern Quebec, just over the border from Vermont, where many family members gather every summer and enjoy hiking, boating, swimming, and fishing together. We also gather with family at least every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. The biggest of these gatherings is Thanksgiving, when we usually have 25 to 30 family members including aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children. There are a lot of young children these days, and the adopted child will have a lot of family members as playmates, most of whom also live within a day's drive.
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