(Goose, Ryan, Isabelle, and Caroline at Isle of Palms)
When I was a little, I loved to spend the night with my older sister, Luci. It was always a special treat for me. We would paint toenails and, if I was lucky, I would get to sleep with her childhood stuffed animal. I remember one particular night that I stayed with her because we went to Blockbuster (imagine kids these days who have no idea what it was like to go into a movie store and find out that the movie you wanted was already rented). I wanted to rent My Fair Lady, but Luci said it was too long, so we rented Princess of Thieves(remember that Disney movie?). We bought movie-style popcorn from Blockbuster and then went home to her house to watch the movie. And that movie was so, so good!
Fast forward about fifteen or twenty years, and now Luci has two little girls of her own—Isabelle (7) and Caroline (5). Ryan and I invited them to spend a weekend with us, and they came to stay with us earlier this month. I met my sister in Columbia, SC on a Friday afternoon to pick up the girls. Once we strapped the car seats into the back of my Altima (let me tell you, sedans were not made for child seats) and sweated like crazy, I headed back to Charleston with Isabelle and Caroline. Some of the first words out of Caroline’s mouth were, “are we driving on the interstate? I don’t like the interstate.”
The entire drive back to Charleston is interstate.
The first thing we did was take Goose to the park at Alhambra Hall. Isabelle and Caroline both asked if “Uncle Ryan” knew they were coming because they thought it would be funny if he was surprised. So I texted him and told him to act really surprised when he came to meet us at the park. They loved it! After Goose got a good workout and the girls played on the nearby playground, we headed home to eat pizza for supper. Earlier in the day, when we had eaten lunch at Chick-Fil-A, the girls had asked for an ice cream, and I told them to wait and we could get some at the beach later.
True to my word, we took them out for ice cream on Sullivan’s Island that evening. We went to a new ice cream shop on the island, and y’all, it cost over $20 for the four of us to get ice cream—it was ridiculous. (I should have paid attention to the prices before we ordered). Isabelle and Caroline asked for mint chocolate chip, which didn’t really seem like the flavor most kids prefer. But they ate every single bite of that ice cream! After ice cream, we drove down to the end of the island and watched the sunset so that the girls could play on the beach for a few minutes.
(Sunset on Sullivan’s Island)
On Saturday morning, Isabelle and Caroline were up at 6AM, ready to start the day. As promised, Ryan and I took them to the beach. Since they were awake early, we decided to hit the beach by 9AM to avoid the strongest sun rays. We played in the ocean for a long time—the girls thought it was great fun that Goose got to swim with us—and then we walked along the beach, and they picked up dozens of tiny seashells. (which I sent home with them. You’re welcome, Luci.)
Later that day, we headed out to a River Dogs baseball game. Pinnacle Financial Partners, my employer, was hosting a family picnic. I had RSVP’d that Isabelle and Caroline would be attending with us, and the woman in charge made nametags for everyone. Not knowing any different, she listed their names as Isabelle & Caroline Woodham, and the girls wouldn’t wear the nametags! They simply weren’t comfortable with the mistake.
Unfortunately, a massive thunderstorm began to roll in as the game was beginning. We got to eat supper and watch the first inning of the game, but we decided to leave when the lightning got too close.
On Sunday morning, we took Isabelle & Caroline to brunch at my personal favorite spot for breakfast in Mt Pleasant: Page’s Okra Grill. They were so sweet all through brunch that an older lady sitting nearby stopped to tell me how well-behaved they were!
Every night before bed, the girls took baths. Once they were ready for bed, I would read to them. Isabelle had brought along a Boxcar Children book (my favorite books as a child), and Caroline brought Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, which she thinks is hilarious. Isabelle also brought a Nancy Drew mystery, and she loved to curl up with it. One night, when I was blow-drying her hair, she stood at the bathroom sink and read. While I was drying her hair!
At one point during their stay, the girls commented that Uncle Ryan didn’t talk very much. Caroline piped up with, “well maybe Aunt Emma talks so much that he can’t talk much!” (she’s probably right). Caroline also thought it was cool that we had a “spare room”, reserved for guests only. The girls also had a serious discussion in the back seat about why they referred to our apartment as “Aunt Emma’s apartment” and not “Uncle Ryan’s apartment.” Caroline finally decided that, “it was because women are more sensitive.” On Sunday, Isabelle went grocery shopping with me, and we passed the section of the store where all the international items are kept–including ingredients for Asian food. Isabelle asked me if I liked kimchi, and then began telling me how much she loved kimchi. When I told her I wasn’t a big fan, she asked if I liked sushi. And her mind was blown when I told her that I didn’t care for sushi. Then she began telling me that she thought that the fact that she is 1/4 Korean is the reason she loves Asian food so much. Somehow, that led to a discussion about the “Great American Melting Pot” and somehow I ended up saying that I had some Irish heritage, somewhere down the line…it was a slippery, slippery slope.
Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. It’s priceless. Listening to the two of them debate topics is really hilarious, but they also know how to ask questions. Wow, do they know how to ask questions! I think we must’ve answered at least a hundred in the forty-eight hours that they were with us.
Overall, we really enjoyed having my nieces visit, and I think they had a pretty good time. Ryan and I definitely realized how demanding having two children is, and it gave us a deeper appreciation for being a parent. Still, it was really special to have them stay with us when I used to stay with their mother when I was their age.