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Mr. K's Soft Serve

 

 

Mecklenburg County has so much to offer, you can’t possibly cover it in one day or even two. The kids considered past trips when ranking. Cobey said the Whitewater Center was the only reason that the county made it to the top. Previously, we have been to NASCAR Hall of Fame, Raptor Center, Latta Plantation, Discover Place, and Rural Hill.  Our first stop was Mr. K’s Soft Serve which has been family owned since  1967. The kids both got ice cream which they said was good but not the best.  The place was very friendly and great atmosphere.  The rest of the menu looked good also.

 

 

 

The Mint MuseumFor the rest of the day we got to tour with the Browns which always makes exploring a county more fun.  The next stop was The Mint Museum on Randolph Road.   The museum has history of the mint in Charlotte, and a variety of art. Claire was very interested in the fashion exhibit and the conservation of the clothing items that was taking place.  They have many interesting decorative art pieces including wedgewood and pottery. We were all interested in the political pottery pieces.  Many of the galleries at activity bags to make the museum more interactive for kids and they also had an interactive room.  We really rushed through the museum and Claire wants to go back as soon as possible.

We then went to Brook’s Sandwich Shop for what is said to be the best burger in Charlotte. Brenda agreed that it was the best burger in Charlotte but Cobey said it was not the best burger in the state.  Claire had a BLT which she loved!

 

Charlotte Museum of HistoryWe then went to the Rosedale Plantation.  We had a great tour where we learned about the family that lived in the house and interesting features of the house. The last stop was the Charlotte Museum of History.  The museum is also home to the largest bell in the country. It is also home for the   1774 Hezekiah Alexander House who was a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. This is the largest surviving house in Charlotte. We toured the house, small garden, kitchen and springhouse.  We saw lamb’s ear in the garden which they used for toilet paper.  The museum also houses a large interactive display with a replica stone house and garden.  We ended the day with the First Annual Baby Bundle project hosted by Susan Tillis. These baby bundles go to new babies born at Fort Bragg for E4 families and below. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Baby Bundle Shower

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Snow Hill SIgn

St Barnabas Episcopal Church Happy JackGreene County is a small county but had an unfair advantage because of our personal tour guide- native Charles Taylor. He did a fabulous job setting up  things for us to see and people to talk to. We stopped by the courthouse which recently had a fire and had boarded up windows. We then stopped by  St. Barnabas Episcopal  Church. This Carpenter Gothic  church was built in 1887. It is a charming church has a church bell outside and a graveyard.    Our  first appointment was  a tour at Happy Jack. This is a family run business since 1946. It was great learning about the inner workings of the business.

 

 

 

Simply Natural Creamery On the way to the county museum and visitor center, we stopped into the ABC store and learned about a sweet potato Vodka called Covington. It is distilled in the county.  The county has a large sweet potato production and a sweet potato festival. The museum is one room and the exhibits change. They currently had a hat collection exhibit. There was a flag from the county and some information about the forming of the county. Otherwise, not much to the museum. We then headed to Simply Natural Creamery where we had a tour and had ice cream twice. The tour was very informative about the running of the farm. The ice cream moved to the top of list for North Carolina ice cream.  We then headed to Ribeyes of Snow Hill.  It was the first of the franchise and the owner of the franchise lives in Greene County. The best part of the day was our guest at lunch.  Ben Rayford is a WWII vet and past Greene County Mayor and town council member. He told a story of coming face to face with Paton and being in France when the war ended This was the highlight of the trip for me.. After lunch, we meet with the warden of one of the three prisons in the county.

 

 

The last stop on the way out of the county was the monument to  remember a battle at Fort Nooherookuh where almost 1,000 members of the Tuscarora Nation were killed.  They attack took place on March 21-23, 1713. It is now the largest burial site of Native Americans in North America. The monument located on farmland is quite beautiful and unique. It  was a great end to a wonderful visit to Greene County. Cobey bumped newly placed New Hanover County and placed Greene County as number one.

Monument - Greene County

 

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Medieval Times – Myrtle Beach

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday May 21, 2015 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, South Carolina, Travel

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11138091_10205509633114912_4883508687306815075_nOur field trip group took a trip to Medieval Times. It was a great way to end the school year, although does our school year ever end? Cobey had been but he was so young he didn’t remember it.  At the beginning there was some confusion and disorganization but that was only group issues. Our entire group was in the blue section and cheered for the blue night. The first part was teaching the kids vocabulary and history from those times. It is done in a fun and creative way. I am not sure if they do it for regular shows but I liked this part. Cobey said they could have left it out. They also showed off a horse that was very well trained and impressive. The main show followed a simple typical story line of knight versus knight. You were suppose to cheer your knight to victory. It also had good versus evil theme and thankfully good won out.  It took a while to get out the food but when it did come out it did get good reviews. They served bread, chicken, a thick potato slice, corn on the cob and a cookie. They had fun names for all of them like baby dragon, baby dragon ear, baby dragon foot. There were no utensils which was part of the fun. Everything was fairly easy to eat without them.  Cobey enjoyed it but said it was fake. Claire loved it. I think she was the perfect age. It was annoying for me how much they came around trying to sell us stuff but  overall, I would give it high marks and it was worth the money. Check them out on your next trip to Myrtle Beach.

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Bellamy Mansion Musem

11235050_10205502955187968_538999169246573655_nWe visited our 17th County- New Hanover. This was a extra special county because my brother joined us and we had special friends John and Pam show us around. We had high expectations with the owners of AllAboutWilmington as our guides. The did not disappoint. We have been to New Hanover several times. We have been to the Battleship North Carolina, Fort Fisher Aquarium and the Wilmington Children’s Museum. We have eaten at some great restaurants in the past including Carolina Cupcakes.  Last Year, Claire learned all about Bonsai trees at the Painted Lady Bonsai. We knew the area had lots to offer.  We wanted to revisit Fort Fisher since we have not been in while, and then see some new things. We took the ferry from Southport and started at Fort Fisher. We watched the fiber-optic battle map first. It had a sign not to push the button that it was only for school groups. We pushed it anyway. 🙂 It is a great overview of the battle there. We walked around the tour trail and read some of the wayside. When we came back in to the exhibits Claire read about a confederate spy- Rose O’Neal Greenhow. She was very interested in the story and wanted to find her grave at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

Winnie's Tavern The next stop was Carolina Beach State Park. They have a small exhibit about carnivorous plants. We had a very good and informative  talk from Ranger Helms about the plants and his job. We were then off to lunch at Winnie’s Tavern.  It is a little off the beaten path and not a fancy place but it did not disappoint. My brother said the burger alone was worth the trip. You should look it up the next time you are in town! We then headed for Oakdale Cemetery. We stopped by the office and got a map of the famous grave sites. They have some really interesting ones. Along with Rose O’Neal, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial, the first governor of NC elected by poplar vote, and  a girl buried in a run barrel . I love the history you can find in a graveyard.

Cotton Exchange

We headed for the Cotton Exchange.  I am not much of a shopper but I really love this place. I love the history written throughout the plaques all the wall. I love the small unique shops. We got toffee at the General Store and dog treats at the Dog Bakery. We then headed to Bellamy Museum Mansion. There we started out by watching a film of the overview of the house and then a house tour. The house has sparse furnishing but some beautiful architecture detail. The tour was almost two hours. He was very knowledgeable but tour was a little long especially after a full day of touring. He also could have skipped some inappropriate stories with my kids and other kids even younger in attendance.   So the mansion ended up being an plus and minus for New Hanover county.  After the tour, we headed home but there is even more to explore in New Hanover County.

After our day spent in New Hanover and considering the things we have done in the past. New Hanover moved to the top of Cobey’s rankings. He also gave Winnie’s the honor of best burger. Claire ranked New Hanover tied for first with Union, Cumberland and Gaston.  I loved The Cotton Exchange so I am giving it best for shopping so far not that I know much about shopping. And although the tour was long it was my favorite home so far Bellamy Mansion is worth checking out just don’t get the long tour.

 

 

Oakdale Cemetery

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vinegerboy

Vinegar Boy by Alberta Hawse is a must read anytime but especially wonderful for the Easter Season. We read it last year as a read aloud and we all enjoyed it.

It is a beautiful interpretation of the death of the Christ through the eyes of a boy. The disfigured boy’s job is to give comfort to prisoners when they are dying with a sponge of vinegar and herbs.  There are some great themes of service, love and adoption in the book. The story is captivating. It is one of the few books that I would read again.

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Downtown Fayetteville

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday Feb 26, 2015 Under Claire, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

Lafayette Statue We have not officially done Cumberland County yet but we have been spending some time downtown working on Claire’s history project.  First, let me say if you have not been to the Cape Fear Regional Theater- check them out. We have been to several play there and we are NEVER disappointed.  I have really been surprised with downtown  and growing to really like it. They have some great restaurants, interesting history and  it is relatively clean. Claire is still not over the condition of the Lafayette statue. Take another look at photo above.  The first place we ate at was across the bridge from downtown at Riverside Grill which is attached to a bait shop. Claire got a hot dog and chili fries. I got a cheeseburger. The food was quick and good and we were pleased.

Circa 1800The next time we were in the area we ate at Circa 1800. It was opposite end of the spectrum from the grill.  Claire and I split a salad and crab cakes. We also got bruschetta. It was all delicious. The service and atmosphere were great. We really loved this place and would go back for sure. The last place we have tried is The Sweet Palette. We took home mini cheesecakes, cake pops, and cupcakes. They were all delicious.

Brushetta

 

Caesar Salad Crabcake

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French Broad Chocolate Lounge

 

Treats at Frenchh Broad Chocolate Lounge Cobey went to the beach with his grandparents so Claire invited a friend and we headed to Asheville for the Downton Abbey Costumes. We got to town in time for an afternoon treat at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. It took a little searching because the place has recently moved and the website took us to the old location. We walked around the corner and up the street and Claire spotted.  I had chocolate creme burlee. Claire had chocolate mouse and a chocolate truffle. Alana had milk and cookies ice cream and chocolate truffle. They were all yummy. We then went to the factory and did a self-guided factory tour. They do guided tours on Saturday which I think would be better but they have done a good job with the self-guided. They have a great sheet spelling everything out and signs to mark everything.  Don’t forget to taste afterward.

Basilica  of Saint Lawrence The next stop was the Basilica of Saint Lawrence. The architect was Raphael Guastavino, who came to work on the Biltmore House in mid 1880s. The church was completed in 1909.  The style is Spanish Renaissance. The outside is interesting but the inside is amazing. If you are any where close, you should take the time to go inside. It has beautiful stain glass windows, statues and carving. I can’t believe I have never been in this place. They have a great brochure inside with the history and information.

 

Window at Basilica of Saint Lawrence Cederic's CollarWe ended our day with a bite to eat at the Cederic’s Tavern at Biltmore Estates. The girls had soup which they both enjoyed. We had pimento cheese that was quite good. I had a Bison burger which was delicious. The service was excellent and the atmosphere was nice. The girls loved the dog collar and all the photos of the dogs throughout the restaurant.  I would go back for sure.

The Biltmore Inn

Claire has been wanting to stay at the Biltmore Inn so when they offered a  special for passholder’s we took it.  The room was very spacious with two double beds,  two chairs, small breakfast table and chairs, large closest and a desk. It is beautiful place but  would not stay again without a similar reduced rate. You should always check to see what rate they are offering.

The Moment Alana saw Biltmore for the first time.

 

This was the moment that Alana saw the Biltmore House for the first time. The expression was priceless. The girls were up all night watching old Downton Abbey episodes. They were eager to get inside and see the costumes.

 

 

 

 

 

10361331_10204813506512182_7832790773665421654_nThe girls did the kids audio and I did the adult. I am so glad we did. The kid’s audio is based on the Cedric the dog. It tied in perfectly with dinner last night and they loved going through the house searching for the lost bone. The costumes were wonderful and in almost every room. They had descriptions about each one and information about the time period. It is well put together and we loved it.  We are looking forward to our next visit in the spring.

Biltmore House

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Roberts-Vaughan House Yesterday, we made quick trip to Hertford County. We are working on Claire’s project on Lafayette and decided to explore the county at the same time. I was quite surprised what the county had to offer.We first stopped in Murfreesboro. They have so much history and many preserved buildings. We first stopped at the Roberts-Vaughan House (1790-pictured above). We got a tour of this house and learned a little about the town history. We next went to the Agriculture/Transportation Museum. It is small but fascinating.  We  got to see a replica of a flying machine that was built 30 years before the Wright Brothers flight. We also saw the corn husker that gave Gatling the idea for rapid fire gun. We saw a few other houses and buildings from the outside then went for lunch.

Flying Machine

 

We had lunch at Tavern 125. Cobey had a burger (pictured below), Claire had clam chowder and I had philly steak.  The kids had key lime pie(pictured below)  for dessert. The food was very good and reasonably priced.

Tavern 125

Tavern 125

 

We then went to the Parker’s Ferry. It is one of the last cable ferries in NC. It can only carry two cars at a time. The kids actually thought it was fun!

Parker's Ferry

 

Chowan CollegeWe then drove thru Winton which was not very impressive. They had one museum that was not open and a few old buildings but many were in disrepair.  We stayed a few minutes then after some searching headed to Chowan College for our walk in the county. It was the best we could find. The ponds on campus were nice and we walked around for a bit then headed home.  It will not make the top of our counties but it will not be at the bottom either. We will be back for sure either for a field trip I set up or one of their second Saturdays that they start in April. Lafayette visited here and you should too.

 

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Rick’s Restaurant and Sports Bar – Snead’s Ferry

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Feb 1, 2015 Under Good Eats/Not So Good Eats

Rick's - Sneads Ferry

 

Last night the girls went out for dinner while we were enjoying a weekend at the beach. It was fantastic.  We started with a mix drink and none of them disappointed.  We had a  Mango Martini, Sun City Sunrise (like Tequila Sunrise but add midori) and then Snickers (has Godiva liquor). We had crab dip for appetizer which was good. The main dishes were awesome. I had a steak with their specialty rub and crab cake. My friends had a Salmon Florentine special and Shrimp Scampi. We took home M and M ice cream pie home for dessert. It was good also but the drinks and main dishes were the best. Oh and our waitress was a hoot!  Her quote of the evening- Thankfully I am not  drinking anymore but lately I have been. …

The previous night  we ate Riverview Cafe.  We had a while before a waitress came over but once we did the service was great and food came out fast. The hush puppies may be the best I have ever had.  Our main dishes were just okay but I think we ordered the wrong thing. I had peel and eat shrimp and my friend had grilled tilapia. We also had the crab dip which was just okay. I suggest sticking with fried seafood. I hear that is great there.

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Tips for New Homeschool Moms

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Feb 1, 2015 Under Carmen's Favorite Things, Homeschool

This was a post from my facebook page.

Tips for New Homeschool Moms
1- DO NOT try what I call school at home. This is when people  try to duplicate what school does at home with desk and textbooks and stuff. They are not in school for a reason STOP!
2- Your two year old DOES not need curriculum. For that matter, your 3,4,5,6 year old does not need it. READ, PLAY GAMES REPEAT
3- If you pull your kid out of public school, DON’T start book work right away. They need time to decompress and adjust. When you do start, start with a few subjects and then add.
4- You do not have to “have school” 180 days. The whole attendance think is laughable to me. Homeschooling is a lifestyle not a school day so I count everyday as “school”.
5- School should not take all day. If your early elementary students are going past lunch then that is too long unless you don’t get up to lunch which sometimes happens in our house.
6- DON’t prepare your kids for testing that is what is wrong with the system. Test them glean, what you can, and move on.
8- The beauty of homeschooling is the relationship. Don’t miss it by putting them in front of a computer all day or worrying about getting them in to Harvard. You will miss the best parts.
9- Speaking of Harvard, don’t worry about getting them into college at all. They will get into college and not because you worried about it. Instead focus on finding out what your kids are passionate about and fan the flame. Tailor what you do around what they love.
10- Don’t try to prove to the world you did the right thing by trying to prove they are smart. Don’t try to push them in to classes they are not ready for. Don’t have them study for the hours for  the spelling bee, Geo Bee, History Bowl, etc if they hate it. Let them spend the time exploring THEIR interest. If you stop trying to prove yourself, then people will see this homeschooling thing is working.
Bonus- Stop asking dumb questions. FIRST, do a little research like all of us veterans did, then if you have a question ask it. You are driving us crazy. My guess is the people who I am talking to have not read this far. They are off posting another question on Facebook

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