We both are very close to our respective parents and siblings so we try to get together with them as often as possible. Although Markus' family lives abroad in Germany, we both manage to talk to them if not every day, then every other day. Skype or web chat calls are an easy way to do it, and even though Natalia's German is not that good yet, Markus or his mom will interpret the conversation for her. We have been fortunate enough to host Markus' parents in the US several times as well as to visit them back in Germany once per year. Christmas is a really big deal in our family and especially in Germany so getting together for the holidays is a must. We can't wait to introduce a child to the German Christmas Markets!
Just last year, Markus's parents visited in the summer for an entire month. Markus' dad loves to be outdoors which is where he spent the entire trip; chopping wood and cleaning up our large backyard while we were at work. Since moving to a larger house, we make good use of the deck and have enjoyed hosting backyard barbecues with neighbors and Natalia's parents, her older brother, and his kids, who all live about 45 minutes away. Music, playing or listening to it in the background sets the mood for the grown-ups to catch up and watch as Natalia's nephew and niece, aged 13 and 10 years old respectively, run around after our hound dog, Lucy.
We live in a country suburb with private access to a shared lake in the beautiful green state of Virginia. About an hour south of Washington, D.C., our neighborhood is home to families with children of a variety of ages as well as older, retired couples fond of the quiet, country style living. Most of our neighbors have one or more dogs and are very friendly. A community swim, tennis, and fitness club is roughly 4 blocks away from our house and hosts frequent community social and multicultural events for children, teens, and families throughout the summer months. In addition, summer camp opportunities for tennis and swimming lessons are available here as well as downtown at two other community recreation centers.
Our home is at the end of a cul-de-sac, and has three floors with a finished basement, 3 large bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, and a cozy living and dining room area. We spend a lot of our time in our sunny kitchen preparing meals together that we enjoy eating outside on our deck when the weather is warm enough. In the backyard there is a tree house and swing set just waiting for your child to play with, and just a few more steps away are the woods where many neighborhood children like to gather for fishing and exploratory adventures.
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