We are thankful for the opportunity to spend a few days immersed in the history of Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia. The girls and I spent some time leading up to our adventure reading books and preparing to see a glimpse of what life might have been like during colonial times. We read If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days, Hogheads to Blockheads, and they also read The Colonial Caper Mystery at Williamsburg (a fun easy to read chapter book). True and Brave also started reading about Felicity of The American Girl series (thanks to your recommendations!), so that really helped paint a picture of what Williamsburg was like for little girls during this time period. We brought the books mentioned with us on our trip, as well as Colonial Williamsburg: A Pocket Guide. We had all of these on hand before our trip (bought from Amazon), but I did see them all for sale at the Colonial Williamsburg gift shops.
I wanted to give the girls as much background information as possible before our trip, so when we went, they would be able to make connections with what they read to what they saw in real life. They had a lot of “aha! moments” when they recognized a place, activity, or shop mentioned in one of the books we read. In addition to that, I used the pocket guide throughout our visit as a reference to learn more about a particular place. We’re technically on a break from homeschooling, but learning was still happening even while on vacation.
Our first stop was Powell House. The girls and I were super excited to start off with something we were sort of familiar with from the books we read. The girls helped bring in fire wood, make a little tart, and played with some of the toys in the house. The girls are super shy, so they really need encouragement to get involved in the action, but they were doing it (Brave more than the others) and I could see they were in amazed with seeing this in person. The whole place is really overwhelming at first, so I’m glad we had some previous knowledge that really helped us get started and more familiar with the place. I highly recommend reading books before going because it also helps you map out your day on what may be of more interests for you and the children.
This face of True’s is a bit funny because in the picture prior to this, you can see Ben getting sworn into the Continental Army by Captain James Ennis. True (and the other girls) were not happy about that at all. True believed it was entirely real, and that scowl on her face stayed on for hours after we told her it wasn’t. She said that “if that was a joke, it wasn’t funny.” I guess those army guys were quite convincing.
There were so many reenactments going on all over the place. We hopped from one place to another and were just in awe at how well everyone played their parts; the whole family was totally into it! The girls would ask (with our encouragement) the various characters if they were a patriot or a tory. The tailor gave a very good answer to explain at how complex that question was since England was their home country, the difficulty of their choices, and what they believed to be what’s best for them. Just like it is now, it’s not completely easy to side with one or the other, but there are pros and cons to both sides.
To aid in the Colonial Williamsburg experience, there was a Colonial Williamsburg scavenger hunt that got the children really involved into learning more bits about life during the American Revolution. I think this was a great way to further learning and get everyone exploring more of the history of this revolutionary city. We went into all the trade shops trying to match the picture with the description in the hunt, and the girls were pretty excited to get seven matches and collect their prize. Ben, Brave, Soul, and Glow even got to march with the militia, with fife (a small flute) and drum fanfares for a victory march. They also had canon salutes which were super exciting and super loud! You had to brace yourself right before they fired each one.
This place is very educational, but it’s also a lot of fun! I’ve mentioned before that I get geeky about historical things, so I was relishing it all. There is so much for everyone; kids can go to the dancing school and learn various social dances of that time, adults (and kids) can participate in a re-enactment of an 18th-century trial or engage other political figures from that time period in a discussion of the political tensions going on, or you can just tour museums and historic buildings and soak things in that way. There is seriously something going on all throughout the day that you can’t even cover everything in just the few days we were there. You will no doubt leave some stones unturned and will be wanting to go back to explore more; I know we feel that way. If you’re living on that side of the coast, I’m pretty jealous at how much easier it might be for you to take a weekend trip to Colonial Williamsburg Revolutionary City than it is for us.
One of my favorite things, and no doubt the girls’ favorite, was being able to tour the R. Charlton Coffeehouse and getting to try some of their chocolate. We read all about that in one of the books, and how chocolate then isn’t quite the same as hot chocolate today. When the big girls saw the sign for the coffeehouse, they were so excited and exclaiming, “Mommy! Rememeber when we read about that?! Maybe we can try chocolate.” Sure enough, after the tour, they served the guests your choice of tea, coffee, or chocolate, and of course my girls all picked chocolate. The lady was surprised at how much my girls loved it (it’s pretty much straight cocoa and spices) and guzzled down their cups. I think you can see in the picture above which girl loved it most!
Brought to you by Colonial Williamsburg. With so much to do, stay and make some history. Book your trip at colonialwilliamsburg.com. I’m very thankful for this amazing opportunity, and thankful to you all for the support you give me and the companies I choose to partner with.
This is more of us roaming around Singapore, and you get a one picture of us with our bowls of food (we ate so much there!). There will probably be two more posts just of all the different food we tried; we wanted to try as many new dishes as we could! Ben and I seriously walked everywhere, as well as the MRT (their subway system), and my friend, Abby (pictured above), was the best tour guide. Not only did she take us all over the place, she knew so much about Singaporean history and we loved hearing all her stories. All her stories made this country come alive for us even more, and it deepened our appreciation for this city/country.
Of course, besides the plant nursery, Ben would love the place where you can buy all sorts of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats! He went by himself the first time (I was prepping for my classes), and he came back with $15 worth of fruits that we had never tried before! We also pretty much ate all the fruit in one sitting. We had rambutan, lychees, custard apple, mangosteen (my fave!), dragon fruit, and water apple. We didn’t venture to try durian (though I did have a durian dessert!). He took me back to the Tiong Bahru wet market a few days later and I loved looking at all the different things they were selling. Totally different from our farmers markets for sure!
It was so humid and steamy that once I took my camera out snap some pictures, my lens was completely covered in fog. That’s why that first picture looks somewhat cloudy, and I had to keep wiping the fog away to take more pictures!
While in Singapore, Ben wanted to check out their plant nurseries. Of course, right?! If was far off the beaten path, and not really a tourist thing to do, but it was worth it. Besides the Bloesem team, our friend Abby was our tour guide in Singapore (she goes to grad school in CA, but was home for the summer), so we were really able to get the inside scoop on this special country. She helped us navigate around and took us to the plant nursery.
Ben was in search for a particular citrus tree that is illegal in California, while he didn’t find it in Singapore, we did find a lot of interesting fruit trees we had never heard of before. I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over a lot of the other plants I had never seen before, and I was so wishing that customs would just let me walk right through with all these plants in my arms. I did jot down a few names in hopes of tracking them down here somewhere, so my wish still could come true somehow.
Gardens by the Bay: Such an expansive garden and there was no way we would be able to cover it all, but we walked around until the heat and our legs told us we had enough. Ben really enjoyed the fruit tree section of it and was reading up all he could, and he would look up additional info on his phone to find out more! There were so many plants I wanted to bring home, and The Supertree Grove is so cool. I wanted to walk across the suspension bridge, but after Cloud Forest, Ben was not up to being so far up from the ground.
Cloud Forest Dome: This was this amazing (air conditioned) indoor conservatory with lots of beautiful greenery and a man-made waterfall. You go all the way to the top and walk down, but Ben was freaking out because you can see through the walkway that leads you down (and you’re pretty high up), so he was walking as fast as he can. You can totally see his nervous face in the picture; he was freaking out so much that I started freaking out.
Singapore Flyer: This is Singapore’s version of the London Eye. We went to go see it (and think about riding it), but once we got close, that was good enough for Ben. The thought of being trapped in that thing for 30 minutes was making him uncomfortable. HA! We made a deal though, we would skip out on the flyer, but we would go to the Skypark at Marina Bay Sands (the towers that look like it has a ship on the top) to see the view. He agreed, so I was happy with that deal.
We also took a tour on the river (thank you to one of you for the suggestion!), and I’m so glad we did that because we learned a lot about the history of this beautiful country. I enjoyed hearing about the how this was once a bustling seaport, how the British came to conquer, and the influence they had in developing this country. I loved imagining what it might have been like here long ago.
I still have so much to share about this wonderful sunny island; Singapore is so rich in beauty, diversity, and deliciousness, that’s it’s just not possible to contain in one post.