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Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479.

Get ready to make this summer an epic adventure for your family in Fairfax County!

From thrilling outdoor escapades to cultural discoveries and delectable delights, we’ve compiled the ultimate Summer Family Bucket List to ensure an unforgettable season of fun. So put on your sunscreen, grab your shades, and join us as we explore the best activities and hidden gems that our area has to offer.

Get ready to create memories that will have your family reminiscing for years to come, because this summer, Fairfax County is the place to be for excitement, laughter, and quality time together.

Let the summer adventures begin!

  1. Visit Great Falls Park: Explore the beautiful Great Falls Park located along the Potomac River. Enjoy scenic views, hiking trails, and picnic areas perfect for a family day out.
  2. Explore the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Located near Dulles International Airport, this museum features an impressive collection of aviation and space artifacts. It’s a great place for kids and adults alike to learn and be inspired.
  3. Spend a day at Mount Vernon: Visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and gardens. Take a tour of the mansion, visit the museum, and learn about the life of the first U.S. president. The property also hosts special events during the summer.
  4. Enjoy water activities at Lake Fairfax Park: Rent paddleboats or go fishing at Lake Fairfax Park. The park also offers a water park, hiking trails, and picnic areas, making it an ideal spot for a family outing.
  5. Explore Meadowlark Botanical Gardens: Discover the beauty of Meadowlark Botanical Gardens with its stunning landscapes, colorful flowers, and serene walking paths. The Children’s Garden section is especially designed to engage and entertain young visitors.
  6. Take a trip to the National Zoo: So, this one is not located in Fairfax County, but the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is so close. Home to a wide variety of animals, it’s the perfect place to explore exhibits, attend animal feedings and demonstrations, and enjoy a fun-filled day surrounded by wildlife.
  7. Attend a Rock the Block summer concert at Old Town Square in Downtown Fairfax or outdoor movie Films in the Park at Mosaic: Many parks and town centers in Fairfax County offer free summer concerts and outdoor movie screenings.
  8. Discover the Workhouse Arts Center: Visit the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, where you can explore galleries, attend art classes, and enjoy live performances. The center often hosts family-friendly events and exhibitions.
  9. Go on a nature hike: Fairfax County offers numerous hiking trails with varying difficulty levels. Check out parks like Burke Lake ParkScott’s Run Nature Preserve, and Hemlock Overlook Regional Park for beautiful trails suitable for families.
  10. Enjoy a day at the water park: Cool off at one of the water parks in Fairfax County, such as Atlantis Waterpark in Centreville or the Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole in Reston. These parks offer slides, pools, and water play areas perfect for summer fun.

Whatever you decide, enjoy the moments and embrace making lasting memories!

Explore Fairfax with Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney.

Sharmane Medaris | Live Fairfax | | | @soldbysharmane | 813-504-4479 | 374 Maple Avenue Suite 202, Vienna, VA 22180


Red alert! Reston Station is filling a Blank Space in your summer plans!

Grab your Cardigan and Run to Reston Metro Plaza on Monday, July 3 for a FREE, LIVE, tribute concert to Taylor Swift from 7-9 p.m.

Missed the Eras Tour? Bring your friends, trade the friendship bracelets, and enjoy the next best thing! Playing songs from every Taylor Swift album, this is a show that will make Sparks Fly and have you feelin’ like you’re 22 all over again.

Come early or Stay, Stay, Stay late for dinner and drinks at one of the incredible restaurants on the Plaza including, Matchbox, Founding Farmers, Davio’s, Big Buns and Sweet Leaf. Also, enjoy three hours of free parking in the ParkX garage with validation.

However you Dress, come in Style… Bejeweled and Gorgeous! This is sure to be a night you’ll remember All Too Well.

To learn more about this and other events at Reston Station, visit,

When it comes to pursuing your personal wellness, there are a wealth of options beyond the fitness center.

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

The path to wellness is a very personal journey, and one that is unique for each of us. That’s why organizations that are committed to helping people meet their wellness goals see positive results when focus is placed on individual preferences.

At The Mather, a Life Plan Community for those 62 and better opening in Tysons in 2024, resident wellness will be supported through some “person-centric” amenities and offerings — designed to be customizable to individual goals, needs, and desires. Far beyond the community’s fitness center with a group exercise studio, cardio/weight training, and an indoor pool, The Mather will support each resident’s wellness through myriad offerings, including some cutting-edge technology and holistic classes.

This is fitting of an organization that has earned top honors in wellness: operator Mather earned top industry awards in the area, with their Life Plan Community in Tucson ranked #1 in wellness among senior living communities in all of North America, earning a ICAA NuStep Top 5 Pinnacle Award for exceptional, above-and-beyond performance using wellness as a foundation, and partnering with residents and staff to create relevant, meaningful opportunities that empower people to age well. (The same awards ranked Mather’s Illinois Life Plan Community among the top 25 on the continent, and recognized CEO Mary Leary as one of the Top 5 Wellness CEOs in senior living in North America.)

Mather’s unique approach to resident and staff wellness is based on the Person-Centric Wellness Model, which was developed by Mather Institute, the organization’s research area. Grounded in scientific research, it offers an evolved approach to whole-being wellness that empowers individuals to choose the types of fulfillment that match their aspirations. The model will be applied to offerings at The Mather, from cultural and educational programs to creative arts offerings to the fitness center’s group classes, personal training, and equipment.

Below is just a sampling of the unique wellness offerings planned for the community:

Vibrational Therapy & Audio Frequencies

The spa at The Mather will house a Gharieni Welnamis spa wave bed. This bed uses computer-controlled vibrational therapy and audio frequencies to train the brain to relax. Similar to meditation, certain sounds heard through stereo headphones slow mental activity, while the bed’s vibrational frequencies target the body’s energy centers. Users can adjust settings on the spa bed to address their specific wellness goal, such as reducing stress, increasing concentration or creativity, or improving sleep quality, among many other focuses — along with duration and other customizable features.

Holistic Wellness Sessions

Programs at The Mather cover a variety of wellness approaches, from traditional fitness classes to some holistic offerings such as sound wellness. Sound wellness refers to using audio — including music, acoustic resonance, and/or vibration — to boost our well-being. Science has shown that sound has a profound effect on our physical health, mood, mental health, and overall well-being. Sound therapies and sound-bathing workshops can target stress or fatigue, trigger rest and recovery, or boost productivity.

Spa Treatments for Whole-Person Wellness

Imagine a spa where you can snip herbs and flowers from a live plant wall for tea and customized spa treatments… where you can test out zero-gravity seating to improve your circulation and relieve pain… where you can bathe in the healing air from a Himalayan salt wall. The Mather’s spa will include all this, along with signature skin treatments and hair and nail services.

“The Mather is attracting a diverse group of older adults,” says Mary Leary, CEO of Mather. “As a result, we aim to incorporate wellness practices from around the world, including Wyda movement theory of the Celtic Druids, which helps people achieve harmony with nature and contentment through mindfulness.” This holistic regenerative approach is similar to Qi Gong and yoga, while originating in a different part of the world.

Wellness options like those outlined above hint at the broad range of choices we have when pursuing our personal wellness. When it comes to taking care of your health, think outside the gym!

The Mather in Tysons, VA, for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be. It opens in 2024.


Are you looking for a flexible master’s degree that will help you advance in your career? Consider George Mason University’s Global Commerce and Policy master’s program!

Broader than an MBA or economics degree and more focused than a master’s in international affairs, this program will immerse you in the nexus of business, economics, international relations, and public policy.

The Master of Global Commerce and Policy Program is available in-person in Arlington, online, or hybrid, as well as part-time, or full-time.

It’s not too late to enroll for the fall semester! The Arlington-based Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University has extended the fall application deadline for domestic applicants to June 30.

Global Commerce and Policy Lunch and Learn
Wednesday, June 21, Noon to 1 p.m. Eastern
Virtual event

To learn more about graduate programs at the Schar School, register for the virtual information session or fill out our inquiry form.

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or

If you’ve lived in Vienna for any length of time, you’ve heard about the long wait times for local pools.

Pro Tip: if you’re selling a home and you have a pool membership make sure you advertise that! It’s a huge selling feature as the buyer can buy your membership. There are 6 main pools in the area, which I’ll list below, but this list is for anyone who is looking for other options to find water — local pools, spraygrounds and splash pads.

My kids are past the splash pad age, so if I’ve missed anything new please share with the readers below!

Local Vienna Pools

Spraygrounds, Splash Pads and Waterparks

  • The Boro Splash Pad: 15 jet splash pad at the Boro Park located on the Upper Promenade, open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
  • The City of Fairfax Splash Pad (10415 North Street): Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and don’t skip on the ice cream next door at Woody’s!
  • Mosaic Water Fountains (on the green): Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Our Special Harbor (6601 Telegraph Road, Franconia): This Chesapeake Bay themed splash park has a water maze, dumping crab basket, spray fountains, misting flowers and interactive water tables. Aquatic shoes or sandals with a back strap are required for kids under 15. There’s also a carousel.
  • The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole (400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston): Here you’ll find a pool, slides, a lazy river, an area for kids with a smaller slide, covered picnic areas and chairs for lounging. This is a great option for day trips to a pool if you’re not a member of any of the local pools. We bought a family pass our first summer in Vienna when we weren’t members of a pool yet, and it was a great way to pass the summer. We have also done birthday parties here — so much fun!
  • Ocean Dunes Waterpark (6060 Wilson Blvd, Arlington): Explore multiple pools for different ages, large slides, a “sprayground” with a dumping bucket and many areas for lounging in the sun. It’s also adjacent to an 18-hole mini-golf course — another great way to pass a lazy day!
  • Volcano Island Waterpark (20015 Volcano Drive, Sterling): This is another great option with a pool, “sprayground,” slides and a dumping bucket.
  • Atlantis Waterpark (7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville): Keep the kids busy with waterslides, pools, a play island with smaller slides and a huge 500-gallon dumping bucket.
  • Great Waves Waterpark (4001 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria): For the adventurous, this park includes speed slides, waterslides, a wave pool and a small kids’ zone for the younger crowd. There’s also a mini-golf course, batting cages, playground and cabanas.
The Vienna Aquatic Club Pool (Photo via Vienna Aquatic Club Facebook)

Other Pool Options

I want to give a shout to an Instagram account you may want to follow if you have little kids — @Virginia.Adventure.Family. They do a great job of posting videos, photos and details about cool places to visit around Virginia. 


This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

It is important to obtain legal advice prior to meeting with security clearance investigators when potential security clearance problems are anticipated.

When individuals have difficulties in the security clearance process or anticipate future problems, the best advice that can be given is to prepare in advance for the meeting. Preparation for the first security clearance meeting can make the difference between a government contractor/federal employee successfully obtaining/retaining a security clearance or being denied one.

Preparing for the Initial Security Clearance Investigator Meeting

One of the most important considerations in meeting with a security clearance investigator for the first time is to adequately prepare for the meeting, especially where there may be potential disqualifying security concerns. We find that most government contractors and federal employees have a general sense of potential security concerns that could arise at the time that they begin to review or complete their e-QIP/SF-86 submissions.

In the most common scenario, an individual is usually alerted to potential problems that may require preparation for the clearance process when they find that they may have to answer “yes” to a certain question and then provide formal disclosures to an uncomfortable question, such as the use of drugs or past financial debts. When these types of issues are anticipated, then one should seek counsel and prepare in advance of a meeting with a security clearance investigator.

Review Relevant Documentation

If a potential security concern exists, it is important to gather as much information and documentation one has on the issue of concern in preparation for the interview.  Such information, if useful, can be provided to security clearance investigators at the start.  At other times, the information can be useful for later in the clearance process, if needed.

For example, suppose an individual knows that they have a large outstanding debt on their credit report. If so, then that information will certainly be important to review prior to a meeting with a security clearance investigator.

Respond to the Questions Asked

In regard to meetings between government contractors/federal employees and security clearance investigators, one other issue that we run across is the tendency of some individuals to provide information not sought by an investigator.

We advise government contractors and federal employees to answer the questions asked by investigators as honestly as possible but stick to the actual questions that are posed. On many occasions, individuals can get sidetracked or provide information that is not relevant to the questions asked by an investigator, which may cause clearance difficulties later or cause frustration for the investigator.

The usual key to a successful interview is to be as responsive as possible to any areas of concern but to make the meeting with the clearance investigator as efficient as possible. Investigators tend to have many cases to review and like to focus on their particular areas of concern. The better an individual can honestly address specific issues raised by an investigator, the better the potential outcome.

When issues arise, it is important to consult with counsel to obtain the best legal advice possible in presenting one’s response to difficult questions.

Follow-up Interviews or Requests by the Investigator

A security clearance investigator may need additional information regarding potential security concerns or need to interview an individual a second time. We typically advise individuals to attempt to anticipate these requests in advance.

For example, if an investigator appears to have questions about one’s psychological issues during an initial interview, it may be helpful to attempt to obtain a letter from a medical professional soon after that shows that the psychological concerns are under control and have been resolved. Doing so in advance can save time and effort later and may resolve issues early should the investigator come back with additional questions.

Contact Us

If you are in need of security clearance legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.


Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or

A lot has changed since Covid and the exceptions that were made to accommodate outdoor seating around town. Thanks to a suggestion from one of my clients — shout to Christina! — I put together a list of outdoor dining options to enjoy this summer.

Church Street Options

  • Sandwich Shop — a few indoor tables and a small patio with tables and umbrellas on Church St.
  • Ritas — benches in front to enjoy your cold treat!
  • Greenheart Juice — a few tables in the front on Dominion Rd NE
  • Caffe Amouri — small tables and some benches with cover
  • Kiln and Co — small tables/chairs, some under cover
  • Caboose Brewery — patio right off the trail

Maple Ave

  • Clarity — fine dining with a dedicated patio space with umbrellas
  • Cava/Potbelly — a few tables out front
  • Maggio’s and Skorpios Charcoal Grill — several tables out front
  • Crepe Amour — a few tables out front
  • Pazzo Pomodoro — a few tables out front
  • Big Buns — several tables under cover
  • Sweet Leaf — a few tables out front
  • Bruster’s Ice Cream, Jammin Java, Pizza Vienna — all have a few tables out front
  • Noodles and Co, Crumbl, Chipotle, South Block — all share a few tables out front
  • Lily’s Chocolate and Coffee — a few small tables out front
  • Bear Branch — a large patio that fills up quickly
  • Foster’s Grille — a few tables out front and to the side
  • Taco Bamba — covered patio out front
  • Mod Pizza — a few tables out front
  • Frame Roasters — new coffee shop has a few tables
  • Hawk and Griffin — has a small front patio
  • Coco’s Sodas and Sweets — a few covered tables

The town is pretty strict on outdoor dining options which is why many of these have smaller tables and just a few of them. If you’re looking to dine out, make sure you call ahead and see who takes a reservation for that specific table.

Some Favorites in Oakton

  • Santini’s — tables out front
  • Mama Tigre — just recently did a renovation to add more outdoor seating

Some Favorites in Tysons

  • Lebanese Taverna (Tysons II) — big patio on the lower level
  • Patsy’s — covered patio in the back but also picnic tables!
Outdoor Patio at Patsy’s American (Photo via Patsy’s American Facebook)

Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479.

Prepare to be amazed! Fairfax County is a treasure of incredible neighborhoods, each boasting its own distinct charm and amenities.

Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly haven, access to outdoor adventures, a thriving foodie scene, or a delightful combination of all these, Fairfax County has got you covered.

As a Realtor, mom, and Fairfax neighbor deeply rooted in the local community, I’m thrilled to share my top neighborhood picks based on my experiences and observations.

Get ready to embark and discover Fairfax County neighborhoods that perfectly align with your preferences, turning your dream of finding the ideal home into a wonderful reality.

So, don’t wait another moment — dive into the video and unlock the best neighborhoods Fairfax County has to offer.

Happy exploring!!

Explore Fairfax with Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney.

Sharmane Medaris | Live Fairfax | | | @soldbysharmane | 813-504-4479 | 374 Maple Avenue Suite 202, Vienna, VA 22180


The plunger. It’s a dirty topic that no one talks about, but we all have to deal with it. We’ve all had the same experience; we plunge the toilet and don’t know what to do with that nasty plunger afterwards.

A lot of times after use, the go-to is to stick it in the tub or back on the floor to deal with the inevitable later. Two longtime Arlington residents came up with a better way.

The idea of the Schoon was a glimmer in inventor Elaine Steele’s brain one morning in January of 2020 after plunging yet another clog in her old bathroom in her old house in Arlington. A search of the internet for a plunger that has a way to clean itself yielded no results, Elaine realized a self-cleaning plunger did not exist. After an exhaustive search of the Patent and Trademark site for hours and hours to find a product that was already out there, she found that there was none.

Elaine approached her longtime friend and coworker, Pierre, about the idea of a self-cleaning plunger. Being a germaphobe, he was intrigued, and the two started collaborating on the idea that February. Several designs, a few prototypes, lots of testing, and a patent application later, the Schoon was born and is now ready for manufacturing.

So how does the Schoon work? After unclogging your toilet, the Schoon allows you to use the wand to spray disinfectant over the top and the underneath of the plunger cup, cleaning the plunger immediately after use. The Schoon’s design also allows you to spray and disinfect the surrounding bathroom area. Elaine says, “Pierre and I intentionally created a sleek design, with the intention that you leave it out and at the ready for use when you need it.”

Where can you purchase the Schoon?  You will find the evolution of the Schoon from idea, to sketches, to prototyping and testing on their Kickstarter Campaign page. Elaine says that the most common question she hears from excited parties after talking about the Schoon is, “what’s a Kickstarter???” She explains “Kickstarter is a platform where inventors go after prototyping to introduce their product to the world. Kickstarter Campaigns allow backers to pre-order and purchase their Schoon as early adopters. Once a Kickstarter Campaign reaches its Campaign goal, the invention goes right to production.” Elaine and Pierre say that once they reach their pre-order goal, the Schoon will go straight to manufacturing with Maryland’s Xometry, and the Schoon will be delivered before the Holidays.

The Schoon launched its Kickstarter campaign May 17th. You can pre-order the Schoon from May 17-June 20. This is the final stage in bringing this product to market. The Schoon is patent pending.

Pre-order the Schoon at the Kickstarter campaign here.

To learn more about the Schoon, visit

Follow the Schoon on Facebook and Instagram.

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or

ViVa Vienna, the town fair, is my favorite event of the year — fried everything, cotton candy, deep fried Oreos, fun rides, fun games, just an all around fun time for everyone.

ViVa Vienna is made up of rides for the kids, some for the smaller crew and some for the older crew who likes faster/higher rides, usually games (knock down the clown, pop the balloon, fishing for a duck), vendors (arts, crafts, photos, local businesses), and fair food. Think meat on a stick, turkey legs and fried everything. It’s glorious and fun. They also have shows on the town green in the amphitheater.

The event is Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 10am to 10pm. You can buy wristbands online now and avoid the long wait to buy them the day of. You’ll still need to wait in line as this is a voucher for the wristband, but it’s still much faster. Just go ahead and buy the unlimited ride band now and save yourself the kid meltdown later. You can also buy tickets to BrewFest as well. BrewFest will have beer from Caboose, plus wine, food and live music, but it’s only open on Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 10pm.

Bring water! Bring snacks if you don’t want to buy food. The kids (and adults) get hot and hungry, and that’ll kill anyone’s day.

The Vienna Singing Princesses are always a hit, and are on the entertainment schedule to perform Saturday morning. The Vienna Jammers and the Great Zucchini are on the schedule for Monday morning. Check out the Lawyers Road Stage for more shows too.

If you want to check out the map of the entire event to plan ahead, you can see it here.

Logistics: there are recommendations by the Rotary Club for parking spots. Be careful of residential streets that may have no parking signs, and try not to block driveways.

One tip: we like to go on Saturday before lots of vendors make the attendance even more crowded. Vendors are only set up for Sunday/Monday. However, we do go back because you get to meet some local faces, shop artists, hit a hockey puck with the Caps local outreach team, and more. It’s all fun, but for some people who like to avoid the larger crowds – plan to go on Saturday.


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