Monday, July 2, 2012

{Vacation} Like a good book

Isle of Palms, S.C. I love the beach, even on overcast days.

"So, what was your favorite part of the beach?" one of my dearest friends asked today over our weekly lunch.

I never really answered her question. Instead, I listed everything I loved about the week with my family near Charleston, S.C. And just after doing so, I realized that was the best way to approach the blog post to document my vacation.

So, here we go, hang on for my wordiness ...

Soakin' wet and no worries ... 

My kids loved the beach.
Let me be honest, I want my kids to love the beach. But, you know, well, you just never know. Two years ago, Ben just wanted to eat the sand at the beach. And Cate has grown so much in the past two years and oh-so much since her first time at a beach.

But, with no pressure from their beach-lovin' momma, my kids loved running and in and out of the waves, digging in the sand, searching for shells, and doing it all over again. They played with their clothes on when we weren't planning on getting wet. And they swam among the waves with the sun was shining.

Cate and I were among the group that spent seven hours {with a lunch break back at the rental house} on the beach our last day in South Carolina. Ben went full steam ahead all morning and then took a nap in the afternoon.

Ben loved playing with my aunt Kim,
and he thought that tidal pool was his.

My aunt vacationed with us.
My mom's sister, Kim, and her husband recently retired to a lake near Columbia, S.C, which is only a couple hours from where we were staying at Isle of Palms. We don't see enough of Kim, who is an important person to me, so being able to catch up with her and watch her interact with my kids was such a highlight of vacation.

And Ben certainly agreed. You can see he took her as his playmate on the beach our last day there. He thought that tidal pool was made for him. Those two things gave me a chance to get a good start on Harlan Coben's "Stay Close," which I read in a day and a half. I'm sure you can imagine such speedy reading is really unheard of in this season of my life.

That's my family, minus my dad.

Being with my family was fun. 
I live in a small town that is 3 1/2 hours from my closest family member. I love our life right where it is, but I also love it when my family converges at the same house. Our different philosophies collide in the doorway, yet we make room for each other and fall into the way we are together. They expect me to make a plan. My sister's sarcasm makes us all laugh. My brother is calmer than he was as a kid. The kids adore their aunts and uncles, particularly my brother-in-law. My sister-in-law is so easy going that she brings a calmness to the original Hill family. In fact, all three of us married people who complement us. We laugh, we tell stories, we play games, we eat.

Hello, seafood.
Seriously, eating is one of my favorite things about vacations. Especially seafood near the beach. And even with not much planning and some quick Yelp recommendations, we happened upon some delicious food. Hyman's Seafood. Charleston Crab House. Coconut Joe's. Sullivan's Restaurant. Henry's House.

Cousins make everything more fun. And I love that bridge.

Downtown Charleston is worth exploring.
We had a couple rainy, overcast days that forced us inside, but we found plenty to do. The South Carolina Aquarium was fun and we found the nicest bowling alley I've ever experienced. Plus we saw downtown on a horse-drawn carriage and then took a boat to Fort Sumter. The guys did some fishing while the ladies and kids shopped at Charleston's City Market

Want to see some of the sites we saw?

Two-story ocean tank at the aquarium.

That's Dave leading us around.

The guys caught fish like this.

Capturing the moment while shopping ... 

Ben thought the canons at Fort Sumter were meant to be talked into!

Pardon the wind, but that's us ... 

At Fort Sumter, with a view of our boat and that bridge I love.

Did I mention we ate well? Here is my sweet girl at Cupcake.

I didn't want to leave South Carolina on Saturday morning. I could have gone for a few more days, even a week more, before settling back into normal life. But once I got home 12 1/2 hours after leaving our rental house, I was glad to be home.

You know, vacation is kind of like a good book. You get hooked and just want to soak it all in, page after page, not wanting to put it down. But then it's over, but, thankfully, you have the stories to cherish. And, well, of course, I took many pictures to go along with the words we were living.


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