We recently moved to Washington State into the most welcoming neighborhood we could ever have imagined. Within days our lovely neighbors greeted us with cookies and invitations to backyard cook-outs, and our three year old daughter has become fast friends with the many kids on our street close to her age. There are nine kids on our block; three are newborn-2 years old, four are 2-5 years old, and two are teenagers.
There are two neighborhood playgrounds which we walk to almost every day. One of them has a community garden we are currently wait-listed for a spot in. We're also a 15 minute walk from the zoo. We can see mountains in both directions, there are bicycle trails nearby, and we are a ten minute drive from the ocean and two glacial lakes.
We were lucky enough to find a house close to downtown that has a fenced in yard with room to play and garden, a big front porch, a working fireplace, and most importantly, a large kitchen that has a play area at one end (a super important detail for Kirsten, who loves to cook and is so happy to be able to do so while hanging out and chatting with our daughter at the same time).
We are both from big families, scattered throughout the Unites States and Europe, and because none of us can handle too much distance we're always planning our next trip before we've gotten home from the trip we're on. We visit or are visited by family members at least 5-6 times a year, and when we're between trips we keep in touch through phone calls, skype, email and sending little presents, drawings and cards in the mail. Our daughter's love for her extended family (and their love in return) knows no bounds and the place she most wants to be is literally ANYWHERE her favorite cousin is.
Kirsten's parents are European, so much of her family is not in the US. The ones that do live here are mostly in Chicago. Food and cooking together is at the center of every gathering of Kirsten's family, as her father is a chef, her mother comes from a long line of accomplished cooks, and about 75% of the rest of the family is in the restaurant industry. Kirsten's family also loves to walk together, go to parks and museums, watch and play sports, and play card games.
Our favorite tradition when visiting Allen's parents in Pennsylvania is spending a day walking around the large animal rescue his father has volunteered at for many years. We also love visiting his aunt and uncle's farm where our daughter gets to pick apples, pet horses, run after grasshoppers, and pretend to drive about 12 different tractors.
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