COLUMBIA -- Rena and Nalin Haley squeezed beside their mom and dad on an antique sofa Saturday under a ceiling at least 15-feet high in the front room of the South Carolina Governor's Mansion.

It's the place where then-Gov. Strom Thurmond married his first wife more than 50 years before they were born.

The goal for Gov. Nikki Haley and her husband Michael is to keep life as normal as possible for Rena, 12, and her brother, 9-year-old Nalin, as they grow up for the next four years in the public eye.

On this day, two television crews had finished filming and the children were on their third of four interviews before the Haleys left for their Family Fun Night at the State Fairgrounds, part of the new governor's inaugural celebration.

On a typically weekend, the family might have pizza for dinner, go bowling, to the movies or stay home and play some games on their Nintendo Wii. They call it Family Fun Night.

Rena and Nalin said things haven't changed too much for them since their mom was elected, except their new house is much bigger than their old one in Lexington and the kids at their hometown public school ask lots of questions.

Rena, soft spoken with a sweet smile, remembers arriving at school the day after her mom's big win.

"I stayed quiet," she said. "I came in sort of late that day so I could sleep in. Everybody shouted my name when I came in. I was sort of nervous to walk in at first, but after they shouted my name it was sort of exciting."

Nalin also got a big welcome on Nov. 3 in his physical education class.

"I thought they didn't know because normally you wouldn't stay up that late on a school night," Nalin said. "We were at PE and I opened the door and everyone was shouting my name. They were like, 'Nalin, Nalin.' And they start hugging me."

Their dad, Michael, said he is working on ideas for his new role. Michael Haley, an officer in the Army National Guard, said he would oversee the mansion grounds, as first ladies have done in the past. He has some other agenda items planned to compliment his personality, the first of which is a National Guard youth program that he wants to help improve the graduation rate in the state.

"I plan on being very active," he said.

Nikki Haley said family life is much the same as it always has been, especially for the kids.

"They have learned very quickly that there are chores in the Governor's Mansion," she said. "They are cleaning in the kitchen and they are cleaning in their rooms. It is very much like it was before.

"Nalin still does his basketball and Rena still does her dance, and we still make it to those. For us, life isn't changing much."

Asked if there was anything South Carolinians should know about his mom, Nalin said, "I think my mom said everything."

And it was off to the next interview.

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