We got a home exchange request for Charleston a while back; a woman planned to run the Music City Marathon and wanted to bring her whole family. We have friends in Charleston and it's close to Kyle's family, so we asked if the host home would have space for Kyle's family to come. They agreed, so at the end of April we drove to Charleston and Kyle's parents and aunt and uncle came to meet us.

We drove on Thursday and got to Charleston late. We put the kids straight to bed. On Friday, we were on our own in the morning before the family arrived. 

The kids immediately explored the play room. As we've learned in past exchanges, there are no toys as nice as someone else's toys. We were slow moving on Friday morning just because the kids were having so much fun!

But eventually we got going and headed to Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter is the sea fort off the coast of Charleston where the Civil War began on April 12, 1861. Sumter was planned after the War of 1812, and work began on the fort in 1829. When South Carolina seceded from the Union in December 1860, the fort was incomplete. But U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson moved his troops to Sumter from the neighboring Revolutionary War era Fort Moultrie, believing they would be safer at Sumter. South Carolina started calling for the fort to be surrendered in January and Confederate troops blocked Union supply ships. In April, President Lincoln sent a fleet of ships to supply Sumter, knowing that Anderson was nearly out of food. On April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on the fort. Anderson surrendered 34 hours later, and the Union troops were evacuated to New York.

We took a ferry to the fort and we almost missed it because of the crowd of students at the dock. Just in time, I asked if they were all boarding and realized they weren't. Thankfully we made it, and enjoyed the beautiful ride across the harbor.

Once we arrived, we were free to explore the fort. Half of the fort is filled in, but there is plenty that excavated to explore and a nice museum to walk through.

Hamish was fascinated with all of it. She engaged a ranger and learned all about the guns and walls. The ranger told her he thought she'd grow up to be an historical engineer!

We had snacks on the ferry ride back, and got home in time to get a little rest and meet the family.


After nice naps, everyone had arrived. The house was perfect for us. Upstairs had two bedrooms, one with two kids' beds. Kyle's parents enjoyed the master. And his aunt and uncle had the privacy of a garage studio apartment. (But we did miss Aunt Kitty!)

We decided to drive to Folly Beach and play for a bit Friday evening. I didn't expect the water to be nearly as warm and pleasant as it was, but it was lovely. Everyone came. Some of us sat on the sand. Some of us frolicked. The kids loved the waves. It was a perfect evening, and we were all wiped out afterward.

On Saturday, David stayed at the house while the rest of us drove into Charleston. Mimi had brought bubbles and we played with them at a park next to the battery. The wind was blowing well off the water, so all we had to do was hold up our bubble wands and let the breeze do the rest.

The Manimal got tired of bubbles and decided he wanted to see the boats at some point. He ran right between those two white cars into the street. Praise the Lord, the oncoming traffic was going slowly. It was a scary moment, and didn't do Roy's heart any good.

But we all recovered and walked through the park and onto the battery for a while. The kids and Mimi climbed on cannons. I took pictures of love birds in front of pretty houses.

Eventually some of our group got tired.

So Kyle and Roy took the kids home, and Mimi and Bev and I walked through the Charleston Market. We emerged with nothing more than lemonade, surprisingly.

Saturday night, when we got back from the Market, Bev directed the cooking of a low country boil. We feasted on shrimp, corn, red potatoes, and french bread. Everyone was happy.

Then just to make sure we all slept exceptionally well, we went for an evening dip in the neighborhood pool. We were the only ones there, and Hamish said it was one of her favorite parts of the weekend!

The Charleston family had some hiccups that weekend. I don't think she even got to run. But we had a great weekend, and enjoyed being together. Once again the exchange was a success. Hooray!