Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg

On our recent trip to Virgnia, in September, we visited Colonial Williamsburg. It truly was unlike anything our family has ever experienced. It was like going back in time 200 years, to the 18th century.

The Virginia Governors Palace (Governor Dunmore)
Colonial Williamsburg is a archaeologically accurate area of the real Williamsburg of the 18th century. Many of the houses and shops have been refurbished to be much like they would have in the 18th century. Archaeological research has shown them exactly where and what many of the town shops were, who owned them and what they made an sold. Therefore, Duke of Gloucester Street is much like it was in the 1770's in Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg has an apprentice system in place as well, where artisans are taught to do the craft/skill as it was done in the 18th century, using the same tools as would have been used then as well. It was quite an amazing place!
Here we visited the blacksmith's shop. This was the only one in town in 1770. There was excavation going on beside this shop on property that was owned by the same person. It was the summer kitchen. It was interesting to watch the excavation. The home was on Duke of Gloucester Street and the shop and kitchen were behind. You entered a small gate at the side of the house and then walked through a courtyard to the smith shop. Not only were horseshoes made here but all kinds of tools, shoe buckles, cooking utensils, anything that was make of metal.
There were many different types of hammers and anvils in this shop, all for different purposes. Interesting!

As we walked down the street, we visited a shoemaker, the silversmith, and the millinery shop where you would buy clothing and accessories and even be fitted for your stays:)
As you leave the city streets of Williamsburg, you go into the 'country' where you find a plantation. This man was showing us how to hand hewn a log into a beam for support for a home. He instructed that you would fall this log in the forest and do all this there and then haul this beam to where you wanted. No sense in moving a heavy log before cutting it. It just made sense. This class was to demonstrate the art of building a home with tools of the time period. There was another man showing us how to split pine into clap boards that would be used to cover sides and roof.
Here the men demonstrated the use of a pit saw, which would be used much in building this house.
Other places we visited in Williamsburg were the Capitol Building where we learned much about the conflicts between the people and their government, the Governor Dunmore's Palace and the Courthouse, where we experienced a mock trial.
Overall this was a great family vacation. We also got VERY good prices as it was during home school week. Check their website. I believe they do this two time each year. There were special classes that they offered to us during this time as well. When we first began talking about it, the children (and I too) were not sure what to fully expect. By the end of our three days there, they were talking about coming back next year. That's what I call a successful vacation.

When we go back, here are some of the things that we will do differently:

1. Make sure to wear comfortable, closed toe shoes

2. Bring snacks and lots of water bottles, maybe even a cooler on wheels

3. Attend earlier in the week. There were some events that you had to 'register' for that were not available to us. The sign ups begin early in the week.

The highlight of our time in Colonial Williamsburg was the wonderful street re-enactments that occurred each afternoon. These provided so much excitement and learning for our children. IMHO there was a bit of literary license that took place but that just provided a platform for discussion among us later on. Above you see the drum and fifer core that marched before the Governors carriage.

Here the Virginia Army is calling people to the town center. The British Army is coming and they need to call for a volunteer Army.

Here the Revolutionary War volunteer army is being sworn in as solders. There is Josh and Daddy, right in the middle.

Here are our two soldiers, ready to fight for their country, and freedom from England. The are equipped with 1 rifle and 2 cider mugs and a bit of hard tack in their pockets.

We were grateful to be blessed with this vacation. Suzie

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Construction...and Life

Things have been a bit quiet here and there is a very good reason for that. Our house is under construction and we have all been busy helping. Our little DIY project has blossomed. I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel so I can talk a bit about it. We are converting our 2 car garage to a bedroom for the boys and a utility room and their bedroom will be occupied by my handicapped brother who is coming to live with us. We are excited about his arrival next month. He will be an integral part of our family unit.

So we started this project way back in March when we got home from California. We had to empty this indoor garage space into somewhere so....we built a shed. You can see it in this post.
We were grateful that the tree missed it.
We then moved all the 'stuff' into the shed and other nook and crannies in the house. Have you ever had a pantry in your living room? I have! We hired the electrical and framing to be done but all the rest we have been doing ourselves. I think we will be ready for paint next week and carpet on the weekend, yay!
Take a look at all our work...and play:)

Did I mention that we went without a washing machine and dryer for several days:)

When my father went to be with God, we were blessed with several of his earthly posessions that have made this project possible. The drill ds is using was his, a DeWalt of course, daddy always bought quality when it mattered. We were also blessed to be able to purchase my daddy's truck from my mother. We could have never hauled all the things necessary to do a project of this size, without it. When I was a child, my family did a very large addition to our family home, it took 7 years to complete. One day, I came into our addition to find my daddy's hammer laying there. I had no idea that it had been given to my husband by my mother and was shocked to see it, knowing full well who it belonged to. It is amazing to think that in a small way, daddy is helping us to make our addition possible. Ds and I both have shed not a few tears thinking about not being able to share this space with him.

Here I am with the spackle job. Not my favorite, but necessary! I am glad this job is done.

Last but certainly not least is the sanding. Boy am I glad this is quickly coming to an end. Maybe I will be able to see my furniture again, after I wipe some white dust away:) Joshua learned to like the sander. He became a pro by sanding the ceiling smooth so we could texture it.
I hope to get back to blogging soon. My mother and brother are both coming for Christmas. Brother is planning on staying indefinately and mom will go back sometime, not sure when. We are looking forward to both of them being with us. It will be a wonderfully cozy Christmas.
Blessings for all, Suzie