Seven Years in Exile
The Most Weirdly-Specific Mother's Day Gift Guide on Earth

The Search for George Washington

This post is sponsored by Colonial Williamsburg. Book your stay at colonialwilliamsburg.com

Colonial williamsburg1

Whenever I take my children someplace new, I learn something new about them. You'd think I'd remember this and take them to new places more regularly, but instead I tend to overthink trips and destinations and convince myself that no, they're not old enough for that place or well-behaved enough for that one. I get bogged down in logistics (car? train? hotel? packing? gaaaaah?) and completely underestimate my kids' capacity to find something fun about...well, pretty much any place on earth. 

Colonial williamsburg3

This past weekend I learned that Noah is quite the fan of George Washington. I had no idea. He ran up to every single costumed person and asked them if they knew George Washington. He chased after several older men on the off chance they were George Washington, only to be more than a little deflated to learn that they were not. 

I can't lie: At one point there were tears. TEARS. He wanted to meet George Washington that badly. 

IMG_1474

Ezra, on the other hand...

IMG_1508

...was much easier to please.

IMG_3149

(Though that still didn't stop Jason from spoiling him rotten at the gift shop, with a COMPLETELY UNAUTHORIZED BY ME purchase of some wooden cork guns, that go pop-pop-pop-pop all the livelong blessed day. I was shopping for Mother's Day gifts and came back only to be informed that both of my children had run off to fight the British.)

Luckily, our map informed us that there would a "Public Audience with George Washington" the next morning at the Governor's Palace. 

Colonial williamsburg day two1

We showed up early. 

Colonial williamsburg day 21

Just in case we had to clear the gardens of any traitors.

Colonial williamsburg day 22

And then, the moment — and the man himself — arrived. 

Colonial williamsburg day 24

And Noah was captivated. Thoroughly, completely captivated.

Colonial williamsburg day 23

(ALSO: HAT. I booked a hotel package that included a free hat for the kids; Noah was all, NO FREE VAGUELY COSTUME-LIKE HAT. He changed his mind after about an hour in the Revolutionary City because tri-corner hats are dope, yo.)

The "public audience" was actually really impressive — 45 solid minutes of Q&A with the audience, so the actor is basically doing improv and needs to know his history like nobody's business. I assumed Noah would be bored, that this talky history lesson was probably not what he was expecting. (George Washington riding in on a unicorn, maybe, and taking out an army of orcs right before our eyes.)

And yet once again, I underestimated him. He sat there quietly the entire time, watching and listening intently. Finally he whispered that he really, REALLY wanted to ask George Washington a question but didn't know what to ask. He and Jason quietly debated and eventually settled on one.

He raised his hand.

George Washington pointed at him. 

"Sir," he asked, his voice nervous but clear. "How long have you served in Congress?"

And George Washington answered his question. (Not very long, as the Congress had been formed very recently and had only met once at that particular point in time.)

And Noah beamed and settled back in his seat.

After the talk was over, this happened:

Colonial williamsburg day 27

While Jason and Noah waited for their turn to take a photo, I sat further away with Ezra and Ike. (Double stroller, y'all. Do not attempt Colonial Williamsburg without one.) Another grandmother approached me.

"It's not every little boy who gets to talk with George Washington!" she said.

I laughed and explained that Noah had been waiting for that moment allllll weekend. 

And I realized she was crying. 

"Are you okay?" I asked.

She grabbed my hand. "My husband's in line to meet George Washington too. But I wanted to meet you. Your little boy is so special."

And with that, she was gone. For the second time in two days, Noah's sweetness and enthusiasm had made a stranger cry. 

(I swear I am not making a single word of this up. Colonial Williamsburg is full of nice people who want to randomly compliment your children. It happened CONSTANTLY, at every activity and restaurant and store we visited. And I believe it's more of a reflection on the general loveliness of the crowd than the all-around amazingness of my children, who, you know, CAN be amazing but can also be...not.)

We extended our stay by a few hours so Noah could see George Washington again in another street performance. He hopped up and down and waved and hung on his every word, completely in the grips of some historical version of Beatlemania.

"HEY EVERYBODY," he would randomly shout to people on the street, "GEORGE WASHINGTON IS HERE! HE'S ALIVE AGAIN! HE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN FOR TODAY TO ANSWER MY QUESTION!"

Later, he talked us into buying not one, but TWO different biographies about George Washington for him to read during the car trip back. When we got home we printed out the photo of him and his new pal so he could take it to school and show his class. Now it's hanging in his room, above his bed. 

So will we be going back to Colonial Williamsburg? Uh. Yeah. We will. Where else can my kid hang with his idol? 

P.S. Ike was there too. He also seemed to have a very good time, particularly at breakfast, lunch and dinner. He and I were equally enthusiastic about the food, which was delicious.

Colonial williamsburg day 25

Colonial williamsburg day 26

(Not a fan of the hat, however.)

This post is sponsored by Colonial Williamsburg. Book your stay at colonialwilliamsburg.com

Comments

Beth

I am SO JEALOUS, and it sounds like the best time. We're hoping to make the trek to DC with the kids one of these days, so I'll definitely keep Williamsburg in mind.

Diary of Why

So much awesome.

Carrie

Next time you come y'all should definitely go to Busch Gardens! Glad you liked it. :)

Amy

I just sent this post to my husband with the subject line "This is why we're having kids." Because OMG Williamsburg. LOVE Williamsburg and can only hope my future kids like it as much as yours did. It's a little bit magic, yes? Yes.

shannon

Have you ventured to Mt. Vernon yet? There's a festival in late September with lots of artisans, and George walks the grounds. Plus, you can tour the house. My kids loved it.

margalit  (@margalit)

I LOVE Williamsburg. We've been many times although we also do a day at Busch Gardens. Your kids might like that too. It's like visiting a teeny tiny Europe.

For a sachool vacation week you can do Plimouth Plantation and Sturbridge, plus a day on the Freedom Trail to see Paul Revere's house, which is amazingly small and the kitchen does not have stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Imagine that. Also on the Fredom Trail is the Old North Church and the USS Constitution which is a real navy ship so they have Navy guys do the tour. Obviously we are big history nerds and stop for anything historic.

Judi

That's interesting- I wonder if the people there were moved to see kids actually interested and excited about history. I think we all have this expectation that kids are beyond getting excited about the same things that we would get into, thinking they just want to hang out on the couch and watch TV and play on their phones (not that your kids do but just in general, that's the impression we have- like it takes so much more to get them engaged).

My family and I went there when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite trips. :)

Neena

This begs the question: Did Noah introduce his doorknob to George Washington?

Kate

Noah should think about William & Mary for college! Although four years in the quiet of Williamsburg was not the most exciting college experience, I studied in the backyards of those houses, and I can run the maze blindfolded still to this day (amazed my kids when we last visited... I have no sense of direction, but some things you don't seem to forget, and i guess that maze is muscle memory now..)

rachel

I think it looks like Ike liked the hat and is just pretending to be a pirate with an eye patch in the last picture. Arrrgh!

Lisa

When he's older MUCH OLDER you can show him this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbRom1Rz8OA

juliet

Do your kids watch "Liberty's Kids"? My boys looooove it- I bet Noah would too.

Merced

2 co-workers were raving about Williamsburg lately, and am glad to know it's kid-friendly!

Super random, but I know you've had a couple of trips lately and I recall that you recently purchased lightweight luggage for the Vegas trip and wanted to ask if you'd recommend your purchase and might share it?

And lastly, your blog is beyond awesome, and it's been an inspiration to me for many years. Thank you for writing.

Lois in TN

I've been reading your blog since before Noah was born. This was a lovely post, sponsored or not. I cried. Actually cried. What sweet memories.

Karen

See, I am the weeper when people compliment my kids. Especially my very special, warmhearted little boy who has so much in common with Noah that I wonder if he might like George too....

Karen

See, I am the weeper when people compliment my kids. Especially my very special, warmhearted little boy who has so much in common with Noah that I wonder if he might like George too....

Ami

So glad you had a good time. We did Colonial Williamsburg as part of our spring break road trip from Indianapolis. Nobody complimented me on my kids though. That's probably b/c one of them was being a class A jerk. He actually threw a rock at me while we were there. I don't think *he* remembers that part of the trip, of course. But I do, dammit.

Cara

I see a bit of Ezra in Ike in that last photo! So glad you guys had a great time.

Cara

I see a bit of Ezra in Ike in that last photo! So glad you guys had a great time.

Laura

Is Ike being a pirate?

michele

I think Ike may be doing a colonial eye test

Jennifer B

I can't even.

Christina

Thoroughly enjoyed the post (now convinced I may take my gurlz there), but my pleasure went through the roof with Ike looking like a pirate in the last picture. Arrr!

JCF

Oh man, that's just adorable. All of it. I'm excitedly anticipating the day we can take our kids to the east coast for a nerdy historical trip. Williamsburg, Plimouth Plantation, Sturbridge, DC, Civil War battlefields, etc. My 4 and 5 year olds LOVE history, and when I recently showed them pictures of them in DC as babies, standing in front of the White House, in front of Lincoln's hat at the American History museum, etc., their tiny little minds were BLOWN that they've been near such incredible places and things. They're begging to go back. Alas, we live in San Francisco, so it isn't some tiny little weekend trip for us.

We are, however, taking them to a historical Gold Rush mining town to pan for gold in a couple of weeks, and I think when they find out, they might just implode from glee.

Wendy

So will we be going back to Colonial Williamsburg? Uh. Yeah. We will. Where else can my kid hang with his idol?

Uh... right across the river in Mt. Vernon?

ashley

Any thoughts on your lodging? It's hard to tell from the pics on the site the most kid-friendly/location one?

Whozat

My Ezra-aged daughter has recently gotten very into US Presidents. Lincoln is her favorite - so it's great that we live not far from Gettysburg! We're considering some (day?) trips to Mt. Vernon, Monticello and DC, and possibly an overnighter to Williamsburg at some point. I was thinking she'd need to be a lot older, but maybe not.

Also - Did you try the peanut soup at the tavern? It's amazing. We discovered it there on a trip I took as a kid, my mom later found the recipe and it's now a holiday tradition.

Suzy Q

Your kids in those hats are so damn cute! I sure hope that when you go back, the same actor is playing George.

Suzy Q

Your kids in those hats are so damn cute! I sure hope that when you go back, the same actor is playing George.

jess

Holy GEEZ your children are precious. I want to cry myself!! Make another one? For your favorite awesome readers who love you via the world wide web?? Please?

Maggie

As a William and Mary grad, I have a soft spot for Colonial Williamsburg. I cannot wait to take my kids there one day (currently have a two year old and another one due in October - still too young). I'm so glad your family had a great time and YES the food is delightful. I plan my visits around meals. Nom nom nom. Keep W&M in mind for Noah!

hekeri

I declare, you are one of the few bloggers who can write an enjoyable sponsored post.

JenVegas

So a) this makes me want to take M kid to Colonial Williamsburg even though I haaaated it when I went...but I was a jaded 14 yo from N.Y F'ing City when my mom dragged me through.
And b) someone asked upthread and I don't see an answer...where DID you stay? Because I still have no idea how to plot a vacation with a kid since mine is still pretty new.

Anna

Okay, the thing about the lady crying totally made me cry! That is so sweet.

My favorite part of Colonial Williamsburg was a talk/Q & A with Patrick Henry. He was really interesting and knowledgable...and hot! All the women in our group were taking photos with him and talking about him for the rest of the trip.

Heather

Colonial Williamsburg is v nice! I never thought of taking a family vacation there. But after reading your post, I am now. My kids are 4, 2.5 and 7 months ...so maybe we can visit in a year or two.

I loved the Noah stories. So sweet, such sweet, innocent enthusiasm!!! No wonder that lady cried. Love that boy!

Heather

Colonial Williamsburg is v nice! I never thought of taking a family vacation there. But after reading your post, I am now. My kids are 4, 2.5 and 7 months ...so maybe we can visit in a year or two.

I loved the Noah stories. So sweet, such sweet, innocent enthusiasm!!! No wonder that lady cried. Love that boy!

Liz

This totally reminds me of all the vacations we took to historical places when I was growing up. You might just have a future history major in the family. (Which totally makes my history teacher heart happy.)

Leah Edmunds

Best corporate sponsor EVER!!! I heart Colonial Wburg. I really wanted to go there for the Christmas season when I was in grad school at UVA, but it was too many miles in the wrong direction after exams were over. When the kids are a little older we'll take them.

Serena

So, so sweet.

Jelourai

Go Noah! He's such an awesome kid. Good job, mama!

T.

One of my favorite books when I was a kid was George Washington's Breakfast, so if Noah hasn't seen that one yet, you might want to look for it.

Jocelyn

so sweet, the best part:
"Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner" cracks me up, I can imagine.

Liz

That is super touching and refreshing to boot! Go Amalah family! :)

Mamabear

Long time lurker here.

Just want to say thanks for sharing so much with your readers. I do feel a bit like I know you and your kids are all just as adorable as can be. I'm a little sad though that Baby Ike is getting so big... Reminds me how my own is going to turn 1yr soon.

Can't wait to take my little one on these kind of family trips. After he gets a little older, which I hope never happens, sorta.

Also, great sponsored post. I really love the idea of Williamsburg as a vacation spot. I also enjoyed the Taco Bell sponsored post and finally went there and they no longer had the Cantina bowl/ salad thing that you had reviewed. Too bad, I was going to try it!

Marnie

Yay for Noah for asking a tough question of the Senator from New York! (I think - my history's a little sketchy)

"I tend to overthink trips and destinations and convince myself that no, they're not old enough for that place or well-behaved enough for that one."

I've been so lucky to be able to travel with our daughter. Aw, hell, seriously? I feel lucky that I as a rural chick from Ohio get to travel at all! And, really, the kids will get out of it and remember what they will - or won't. We saw Versailles when my daughter was 7. She's 12 now. The Palace recently came up. She absolutely does not remember the opulent gold gates or Hall of Mirrors. But? "Oh, mom, do you remember those awesome chocolate pastries in Nice on the way to the beach?" "Remember those cats at that castle?" And, frankly, my husband also doesn't remember the same things I do. We all make our own memories, kids included, and the best memories are the experiences of traveling and having fun as a family.

Keep on truckin', and let's both try not to over think.

M

WoW...young George must make Martha pretty happy...he is quite well endowed!

Marnie

And, also? That's why I take several hundred pictures on every trip. And I make my husband hold the camera and take pics now and then. So that my daughter remembers that she did, in fact, have a mother when she was young. :-)

Amanda

You are the best at writing sponsored posts. The places you go are truly places we would want to go to also. So glad you had a good time and that Noah has a new hero.

Judy

M, I thought I was the only one who noticed that.

We lived in the midwest when my kids were little, and they absolutely loved to visit New Salem in Illinois. The little village is restored, and you can wander into a house and be offered fresh gingerbread baked over a fire, or play with the free roaming farm animals, or go down the hill to the mill on the Sangamon River. It was never crowded and always interesting. And it was pretty close to Springfield, so you could do New Salem and Lincoln's home in the city (plus his tomb if you are so inclined) in one day.

Kathi

I went to William & Mary and now live in Richmond. Next time you visit Williamsburg, plan to pass through Richmond on Sunday afternoon and attend the Patrick Henry "Give me liberty or give me death" re-enactment at St. John's Church on Church Hill. It is a beautiful old brick church, and the re-enactment is both educational and entertaining. I'm not a big history fan, but I took my history-loving son when he was a kid and he LERVED it!!

Becca

I'm so freaking mad that I didn't know you were here... I work at a fabulous mom'n'pop educational toy and teacher supply store in Williamsburg that you guys would LOVE. Le sigh.

Falwyn

I went to W&M and can't wait to take my kids to Williamsburg. I can only hope it will be half as awesome as this.

Carolyn

My parents used to take us to Colonial Williamsburg when we were kids. I loved it! Although I will admit that I never was reduced to tears that I couldn't find George Washington - bless his heart, is so cute.

Jenny

I so love your blog. And this post. But my FAVORITE part of it is Noah's comment about how George is alive again and came down from heaven today just to answer HIS question! How incredibly sweet is that ~ brought me to tears! What a sweetie he is!

The comments to this entry are closed.