Education in Action Day

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Feb 20, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Politics, Uncategorized

Justice Newby

North Carolina Coalition of Home Educators had their first annual day at in Raleigh. We had some wonderful speakers and it turned out to be a very positive day. We had almost 200 people from across the state. What make our day so special was all but one of our speakers were homeschool dads. The first speaker was one of the reasons we started our organization and the connection between all the members on the board. We all worked on his campaign and now we are proud to call him our Lt Governor- Dan Forest. Representative Bert Jones gave a talk about how the legislative works and how a bill becomes a law. Senator Warren Daniel gave a brief talk and then gave a tour of the Senate chambers. Representative Skip Stam answered questions from the kids. In between all of these speakers, we had families visiting legislators and talking about issues important to homeschoolers. For the last speaker of the day we headed to the NC Supreme Court to hear a wonderful talk by Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby about the Mecklenburg Resolves. He tied so many truths and lessons into this talk. It was a huge success.

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National Museum of the Marine Corps

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Feb 15, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Military Museums, Travel, Uncategorized

D-Day HeroCobey and I went to this museum on the way back from The Generation Joshua conference. We loved it and had to rush thru because of time but we put it on the list to comeback and bring Bruce and Claire. We finally made the time to go. This time we rented the audio tour for the kids and had several hours. It is a great timeline of American history and there are several hands-on activities for the kids. The exhibits are very well put together and have interesting variety of use of artifacts, audio, visual, etc. The best part of this visit was meeting and talking with a man who was at Iwo Jima in War World. He told us how three ships that were damaged at Pearl Harbor were refurbished and took part at Iwo Jima (Nevada, West Virginia and the Tennessee).  Both the Nevada and West Virginia were sunk at Pearl Harbor and then raised and refitted.  The Nevada is the only ship to be at Pearl Harbor, the D-Day invasion of Europe and Iwo Jima.  I highly recommend this museum. I am surprised that a military museum would be one of my top picks but this one is.


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Inauguration Day – NC

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday Jan 12, 2013 Under Uncategorized

Dan and Alice Forest

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Still Dreaming about Gluten Free dessert at Zelo in Minneapolis

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday Sep 20, 2012 Under Uncategorized


It has been over a month now and I am still thinking about this restaurant. I have joked about flying to Minneapolis just to eat there again. I have not ruled it out. We needed a place to eat lunch that had items that were gluten free and vegetarian and for picky eaters. I found Zelo online and made a reservations. It was a tall order but this place surpassed expectation. Everyone ordered something different and everyone enjoyed there meal. The food seemed to fresh and was delicious. The real excitement was when the dessert menu came. I am lucky to get one gluten free desert on the menu. This one had almost all gluten free options. I was in heaven. I got the Huckleberry Cheesecake. When the waiter returned with the desserts, he put the gluten free option for every desert on a separate plate so I could taste everyone’s. They were so fabulous. I know it sounds crazy but yes it would be worth the flight just to eat there again.





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Disney Cruise to Canada

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday Jun 25, 2012 Under Uncategorized

We took a five-night cruise from New York City on Disney Magic. This was our fourth Disney Cruise and our first non-Caribbean cruise. We had stops in Halifax and St. Johns. Overall, we had a good experience. The kids spend a lot of time in club. We allowed Cobey to check in and out of club himself, which made things a little easier. He did not care anything about the characters and only took a photo with them when we made him.   He was excited about the food and often ate off the adult menu. He tried lots of new food like Duck and Lamb. He was very adventurous.  I had problems getting a good gluten free meal, which was very disappointing.  I had steak two nights and both night I felt like I was eating a Golden Corral steak or worse.  The two nights I had fish where excellent.  I felt the food was better on Royal Caribbean. The service was okay. It was much better than on the Disney Dream .   Our assistant waiter seemed to have problems getting us drinks in a timely manner.  It was sometimes after our food and we often had to ask for refills. The headwaiter seemed better and the kids loved the magic tricks he did.  The kids went swimming one afternoon and they were the only ones in the pool because it was freezing outside and so rough that it was a wave pool.


In Halifax, my friend Elizabeth and I took the top ten attractions. Halifax was not that impressive of a town. It did not have the charm or beauty of other cities that I have been too. We had a tour of the public gardens, which was nice, and the view from Citadel was okay. The tour got better when we went to Peggy’s Cove. It is a very picturesque town where we had a Clam Chowder lunch and time to explore. I thought the best part of the tour was the last top, which was the Titanic Graveyard. It was very interesting to hear all the stories and our tour guide did a great job. Cobey and Bruce went to Citadel to be soldier for the day. Cobey had to sign enlistment papers, dress in uniform and march. He had a great time and thought the excursion was wonderful. Bruce dropped Cobey off at the ship and picked up Claire. They went to the Maritime Museum where they saw chairs from the Titanic and other artifacts. They also went to the gardens and saw the view from Citadel. Everyone ended up having a great day.

 Of the two ports of call, I really enjoyed New Brunswick, They welcomed the women with roses when they get off the ship. They really do make you feel like you are wanted there and not a bothersome tourist. Claire and I went to a tea with Alice in Wonderland. It was a little pricey but after all was said and done it was worth it and my favorite excursion. We first toured some gardens, which included a maze, petting and feeding medicine and a ladybug release. Claire really enjoyed placing the ladybugs on the roses. We then went to the area where they had kid size houses and the kids ran around and played while we waited for lunch. The lunch was tea sandwiches, scones and brownies. It was the best gluten free lunch that I had. Alice and the rabbit came out for pictures and signatures. It was really was the perfect setting. After the garden, we had a short shopping time in a nearby town of Anderson. It was a quaint town by the water. We found a cute little shop where Claire bought  a knitted mermaid and dolphin. I could have spend more time is this small little town.  While the girls were on their excursion the boys went on a kayak trip up the St John’s river. They kayaked up a smooth part of the river but were able to see a fossil bed in the cliffs that had been exposed by the river and also an eagle’s nest.  Back on the beach they had a mussel and lobster lunch with rhubarb pie for dessert.  They eat their lobster cold there which was a bit of a different experience.   On the way, the boys saw the Reversing Rapids.  The difference between low and high tide in this area is three stories this results in incoming tide pushing the river back upstream.  When the tide goes out all that water going back out to sea with the regular river flow results in class 6 rapids.

One of the highlights of the trip  by far was purchasing the entire Brave costume including wig and then leaving it on Claire’s bed.  She was so excited when she saw it. The next night they showed the Brave movie at midnight and Claire was dressed for the occasion. She looked awesome. The characters made over her and some of the cruise guests asked to have their photo with her. It was a wonderful evening.  Overall, we had a wonderful trip. It was the first Disney cruise that we did not book a future cruise.  We are planning on going with Carolina Homeschoolers on an Alaska cruise next year on Royal.  We decided we would wait and see how that goes. The kids really wanted to do Disney Fantasy so we will see.


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Day in New York City

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Jun 15, 2012 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, National Parks, Travel, Uncategorized


We only had one day to see New York and I think we made the most of it. We started out taking a ferry to Ellis Island. The kids did the Junior Ranger tour there. They had a great audio tour geared to kids that gave a great overview of the building. We then went to the Statue of Liberty, where we first did a ranger-led scavenger hunt which did an excellent job of teaching the kids the symbols that are on the Statue of Liberty. We then did an audio tour that explained more about the statue. We had a quick lunch and then took a ferry over the Manhattan. We raced to make our ticket time for the 911 Memorial. The memorial is free but you have to get a ticket. Even with a ticket you have to wait in a line but it moves pretty quickly. The museum is not open yet but I am still glad we went. The memorial seems a perfect tribute. It is quite beautiful which cannot be conveyed in photos.  This event has affected me still after all these years and it gave me peace to see how beautifully and respectfully they memorialized this event. We then took the subway to go see the Empire State Building.  Bruce ended up taking the kids on the ride and up to the observation desk. The ride was an flying overview of the city.

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Carlos’ Bakery and Mystic Seaport

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday Jun 14, 2012 Under Uncategorized

We headed up north two days early to catch a few sites before our Disney Cruise. The first day we planned to spend the day at Mystic Seaport. We wanted to go last year during our New England trip but we ran out of time. We also thought it was a good time because we could get in free with our Historic Ships Membership Passes. It was two hours north of New Jersey so we headed out early but decided to surprise Claire with a quick stop on the way out of town. One of Claire’s favorite shows is “Cake Boss” so we had to stop at Carlo’s Bakery. I could not believe it when we drove up and parked right in front of the store and walked right in. Claire picked out a lobster claw, crumb cake and a cannoli.  Claire liked the lobster claw and cannoli  but thought the crumb cake was dry.  After a few snapshots, we were off to Connecticut.

Mystic Seaport is a living history village where you take a step back into time.  The unique thing about this one over Williamsburg, Old Salem and Old Sturbridge is that it is on the water and represents a seaport town. The village gives you a real feel for a  19th century whaling town.  They have churches, pharmacy, general store, houses and gardens like at other places. At the pharmacy the kids got to help make pills.  The blacksmith shop was different because they did not make horse shoes but made things for ships like harpoons. Another difference in the village was the ships, lighthouse and museums full of things of the sea.  They had games to play for the kids and skills to try. Claire’s favorite part of the day was making a banjo.  After she made the banjo, she played it for the rest of day while singing made up songs. The other guest seemed to thing it was cute but Cobey was horrified by the entire experience.  Overall, we really learned a lot and had a great day. I highly recommend spending a day a Mystic Seaport.


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Maritime Museum- Beaufort and Fort Macon

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday Apr 30, 2012 Under Uncategorized

After staying with a friend last night, we were up and out early this morning for our program at Maritime Museum. The kids had pirate program, watched an hour movie and did two scavenger hunts. We were still done in two hours. The program was good and hands-on but short. They talked about who was the most important person on the ship, what kind of treasure they took, and weapons of privates.   If I was going to do the museum again, I would look into doing two programs. Cobey enjoyed the movie but Claire did not make it very long. The older kids scavenger hunt is very well written and really got Claire to look at more things.  I would definitely ask for that one if you go! The museum is small but the exhibits are interesting. The Blackbeard exhibit is especially good and Cobey enjoyed that the most.

We had a lot more time between programs than I thought we would have. We went across the trip form the museum to have lunch at Finz Grill. I had Shrimp and Grits and I was disappointed. It was too cheesy – who knew that could be possible. Claire had shrimp and Cobey had crabcake sandwich.  They ate all of their food and it looked good. We then headed to Fort Macon. We were there early so we went through the small visitor center. Claire loved the exhibit where you match the bird sound with the bird. Cobey liked learning that Robert E Lee visited there. After the museum, we went to program where the Park Ranger gave us background information about the fort, talked about soldier’s life and then had a musket firing demonstration. I thought the program was good except the references he made to kids hating history. My kids love history and don’t want them to get the idea that they are not suppose to like it.

After the program, we went back into the visitor center and got junior ranger books. We had asked to volunteers early and they said wait till someone got back from lunch.  We then watched the movie which is a good overview but repeated a lot of what the ranger talked about. The junior ranger program is for all the parks and is focused on nature not history. Cobey did not like it but Claire was thrilled.  We then watched the movie which is a good overview but repeated a lot of what the ranger talked about. We then went back to the fort to look for a ranger and look around.  They have some great exhibits at the fort with audio telling a story of the fort. It has a rich history. After walking around the fort, we then walked to the beach to work on booklets. Claire loved chasing the birds and saving one bird from eating a cigarette. We then went back to visitor center to look for a ranger. We never could find a ranger to finish the book so the kids left disappointed they could not earn a patch.  The kids had a cold swim in the pool. We are staying in the Hampton Inn – Atlantic Beach. It is a really nice Hampton Inn and the pool area was super nice. We ended the evening with at meal at The Crab’s Claw.  Cobey and I had a shrimp pot and it hit the spot. It turned out to be a wonderful day and I can’t wait till tomorrow.



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3 Days, 5 Civil War National Parks, 8 Junior Ranger Badges, 1 Supermom

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Apr 29, 2012 Under Uncategorized

The kids are beginning their study on the civil war. We use Truthquest curriculum. We are on our second year of a three year study of American History. The curriculum uses living books to teach which I love.  But the best way to learn is to go see it. So, a few weeks ago we spent some time in TN (hope to blog about that soon) and this past week we headed for Virginia. We were blessed to stay two nights with a wonderful friend who lived closeby many of the sties. It was also National Park Week so all the parks were free. It turned out to be a bargain of a trip. On the way to my friend’s house, we stopped at Stonewall Jackson’s home in Lynchburg. The house was interesting and did a great job of telling the story of Jackson with a film and guided tour.  He was a very faithful and disciplined man. I can’t wait to read more stories about him.


The first day of our whirlwind tour of National Parks, we started at Antietam National Park. It is said to be the bloodiest one day battle in American History.  They were doing some renovations at the park that day so it was a little loud. We tried to overlook that and enjoy the small exhibit area and a movie. We then did a driving tour of the battlefield. Despite the rain, the kids did a great job of jumping out and finding the answers to their Junior Ranger booklets. Claire’s favorite part of the battlefield was the observation tower on the left. If you look very close you can see their little heads. We spent several hours here and could have spent more if we were not in a hurry and it was not raining. The next stop we went to was Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia.  This national park was not what I expected. First it is in a beautiful area. I so wish the weather was better so we could have enjoyed it.  We stopped at the Visitor Center and take a shuttle bus down to the historic area. There are many building that represent the period. You could easily spend a day exploring the area. We learned a lot about the John Brown slave revolt that took place here. We also learned more about Lewis and Clark since that built a boat here for their trip. The kids were thrilled to have earned three badges at this one park. Of the two site,s this is the one I most want to go back to because there is so much more to explore. It was that evening that I discovered my two day trip needed to be at least three and I shifted plans to stay another day. I just wish I packed an extra set of clothes.

On day two we spent the day at Fredericksburg National Park. Here we visited Fredericksburg Battlefield, Chatham Manor, Chancellorsville Battlefield and “Stonewall” Jackson Shrine. They earned Junior Ranger badges Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. The kids got some trading cards at Antietam the day before but this is where they discovered they were at every civil war park. The obsession to get them all began.  During our search for cards, we got to learn more about Stonewall Jackson’s death and battles that took place here. We saw where Jackson was shot and then where later died.( the home pictured to right) This area is so rich in history we only scratched the surface. We did not see everything at the park and their is more to see in the town.

We started day three at Petersburg where they earned another junior ranger badge. We started at the Eastern Front Visitor Center where we watched a movie to learn about the siege here that lasted a year. We then went on a driving battlefield tour. The kids were interested in learning more about when the union soldiers dug a tunnel (photo to left)  and then set off explosion behind Confederate Lines that left a crater. We then headed to Grant’s Headquarters where we saw another movie and learned about the family that owned the property. We headed back to the first visitor center to get the badges and then to the third visitor center for more cards. We couldn’t leave without collecting ALL the cards. Then we headed for the final part of the trip. You could not have better ending to the trip than Appomattox Court House.

I really enjoyed Appomattox but we did not arrive till a little after three so I felt rushed. There  is a small visitor center, movie, and several buildings. The kids did their final junior ranger badge. They collected more trading cards and were excited about getting the cool bags (pictured below). You get the bags if you show trading cards from other parks. Claire pulled out a huge stack and I think the ranger was impressed. The kids had a great time with the scavenger hunt part of the junior ranger book and exploring the building.  The trip was a little jam packed and  rushed for me. After this trip I did feel like a supermom but I do think they got a great overall view of the war in this area. The kids enjoyed the Junior Ranger program at Petersburg the most. Claire wants to go back to Antietam to go up the tower on a clear day. Cobey wants to go spend more time in Fredericksburg and Petersburg.  And I would love to go back to Harper’s Ferry. And you really can’t not go to Appomattox so my suggestion is you visit them all.


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History Hounds at Junior Historian Convention

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday Apr 28, 2012 Under Uncategorized

The History Hounds of Central Carolina had a great time yesterday at the NC Museum of History wrapping up their first year as a club with the Annual Junior History Convention. We had nine students attend and four advisors. We had no idea what to expect but we we looked great with our cool shirts designed by the kids and drawn by Victoria Hamilton. The kids got to attend four workshops.  The staff did a great job of making the workshops hands-on and a variety of topics so that everyone had something they liked.  The first one they attended was about tin-making where they got to make their on punched tin piece. We then had a quick lunch at our secret place that we can’t reveal because then of coarse it would not be a secret. They kids seemed to love it though because we were the only group there.


After lunch, we had three more workshops. The first one was a original play performed by teens about Blackbeard. The second workshop they had a wonderful time  learning about hockey and visiting with Stormy. And the last workshop they identified colonial artifacts. All the presenters did an excellent job and we were impressed with the quality of programs. The last part of the day was the award ceremony. Cobey got two first places in the Photography division. Daniel Elmore got an award in the Artifact Search division. The highlight was when our club earned the Rookie Club of the Year Award. Alyssa Thomas (on right)  had written the paper nominating us for this award. We had a great day and the kids are already planning for next year. You can see the winning projects all year at the museum. If you make it to the museum this year, be sure to go check out our winning entries.


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