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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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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Day in Pittsburgh

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday May 22, 2014 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

Statue on Top of Hill



Yesterday, we  spent the day in Pittsburgh. We quickly realized we could not do it all and had to come back. Claire picked to go the Heniz History Center to start the day.  We really enjoyed a new exhibit – Treasures of the Arbia.  It is about a sunken Steamboat that has been recovered. We also liked the glass exhibit and What is it? Cobey liked the small exhibit on the French Indian War. There is a large sports exhibit also.   The museum is great at having interactive activities with every exhibit. We spent over two hours and could have easily spent longer. We saw every exhibit at a steady pace.


Cobey on Space MissionAfter the History Center, we decided to take the Duquesne Incline up the hill and have some lunch.  You have to have exact change and cash for the incline so be prepared. We picked that one because quite frankly it is red and cuter.   After we got to the top, we had lunch at Monterey Bay Fish Grotto.  A friend recommended it and she did not steer us wrong. The food was delicious and the view was amazing. Claire had the best looking crab cake I had every seen. It was a huge crab lump with lots of meat. Cobey had a steak burger and I had trout. Everyone gave it five stars.  We then headed down to spend the after at the Carnegie Science Museum. The museum is great. We spent about three hours and could have  spent the day. It is very interactive in ever exhibit and had a great show that taught great vocabulary without them even knowing it.

We plan to return to do Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Andy Warhol, and the Ducks Tour.  But for now we were off to drive to Ontario, Canada.  If you are taking your kids without your spouse out of the country, be sure to take a letter of permission. The Border crossing was a little interesting. We arrived not too terribly late and checked into Embassy Suites- Niagara Falls. The hotel is really nice. It has the layout I love with the bathroom in between the two room. The bathroom has a huge Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. There is a fridge, microwave and two extra  sinks also in between the two rooms. And the best part I am sitting in my room watching the lights on the falls. It is beautiful!!


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Agape Environmental Education Center

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday Oct 14, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Revolutionary War Sites

Agape CenterWe went to Agape twice this fall, once with NC Homeschool Adventures and once with our church homeschool group. We love that place. We have been going ever year for years and years and we still have not run out of programs. When we went with the church group, the kids talked about the food chain, caught animals around the pond and evaluated three different ecosystems. With NCHSA, the kids learned all about trees, habitats and did tree identification. This is a great place for a hike or for a field trip.

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Woodrow Wilson Library, The Frontier Museum and More

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Oct 11, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

Woodrow Wilson Library The Hanna family and I had a two day field trip to Staunton, Va.  We started with the Woodrow Wilson house. This is the home were he was born and the tour focus on what early life would have looked like in the home. We then went through the museum. They had a great scavenger hunt with four different levels. They were well put together and age appropriate. I highly recommend if you have kids. We then went to the Trinity Episcopal Church. This is a must see if you are in the area. It has beautiful breathe-taking stained glass windows including twelve from Tiffany Studios. I took a few photos but they do not do the place justice. The kids asked to go back to the church the next day. After the church, we went rode the free trolley. It is the public transportation for the town so it had colorful passengers. It is not guided so you don’t get the history of this beautiful town but you did get a nice overview and interesting ride.

Golf Cart

English CottageThe next morning we went to The Frontier Museum. The kids were excited because we rented golf carts. I am glad we ended up getting the carts because of time restraints. This is a very unique museum and I can’t wait to go back. It shows the home life of immigrants before they moved to the area and after. They have an African village, English cottage, Irish home, German home.  They then have a Native American village and American homes. They do an excellent job of showing how the different cultures blended together in the pioneer home. They have guides in each home and tons of hands on activities for the house. We spent three hours and we fell in love with this place. I can’t wait to go back.


We had lunch on the grounds and then went to the Shakespeare Center for a tour. They have a reproduction of the Blackfriars Playhouse. It was informative and interesting and we are looking forward to going back for a show. The only disappointing part was we did not get to spend much time in the theatre and did not get to take photos. After the tour, we walked thru downtown. We stopped and went inside a beautiful bank. While we were looking at the architecture, one of the tellers called us over and showed the kids the new 100 dollar bill. Cobey knew all about it and she let him hold the bill for a photo. We then walked back to the church for a second visit.

German Cottage

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Tyron Palace

Cobey at Pepsi Family Center


NC Homeschool Adventures went back to Tyron Palace. It is one of the few places the kids have begged to go back to. They really wanted to go back to the Pepsi Family Center which in the North Carolina History Center. They loved this interactive museum where you can make turpentine, sail a ship, cook and make a quilt. I was afraid they would be disappointed because they were now too old for it or they were remembering it more fondly than it was; but, we started out our visit their and they loved it. I did manage to tear them away for a delicious  lunch at the cafe. We ate looking over the water and it was very nice. We then went and toured the Palace where we had a great tour guide. We toured one other house on the property and then back to the Pepsi Family Center. We ended up having dinner at Captain Ratty’s which is downtown New Bern  and it was great. We had  a great day and it was getting ready to be even better.




Guest of the Day


We arrived at out hotel the Hampton Inn in New Bern to discover we were the guest of the day. We had a special parking place, breakfast brought to our room and our name in lights. The kids loved it. We have stayed in lots of hotel rooms and it takes a lot to excite the kids now and that did it. What a great idea by that manager that really doesn’t cost them any money but makes a families day. Thumbs up to Hampton Inn of New Bern.

The next day we went to Shackleford Island. We had about a two hour tour of the island with Laura. She is so passionate about the horses and marine life that it is wonderful to learn from her. We got to see the horses up really close which was fun and Claire and Cobey got to snack on pickle grass which they had been talking about to all the kids. We spent another hour just hanging out on the beach and enjoying a great day. I really love it there and Laura makes it even better. When we got off the boat, we went to downtown Beaufort and had a great lunch at Clawson’s and then headed back home.



Shackleford Horses

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Carmen’s Favorite Things- Brave Writer

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday May 12, 2012 Under Carmen's Favorite Things, Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner

I am starting a new series called- Carmen’s Favorite Things.  I will begin by reviewing my favorite homeschool products but who knows where it will go from there.  I will start with a little background about me. My wish for my children is to develop a love for learning and the ability to think. I try to not focus on “teaching” them anything.  They don’t have to LOVE everything we do but if they are miserable with something then I try to change it up. I believe it is a waste of my time and theirs time to work on anything once the wall has gone up. I have moved more and more toward a Charlotte Mason approach but not a purist.  My only homeschool regret is that I did not  pay more attention to her approach earlier.

I am starting with Brave Writer because they have a sale on their new product – Jot It Down that ends tomorrow. ( I have been using their products for over a year now and have nothing but praise. I first was introduced to Brave Writer at a conference last year. Julie Bogart, the owner, was teaching a workshop. I instantly loved her because everything she said “made sense” and lined up with my educational philosophy. My first purchases were The Writer’s Jungle and a years worth of The Arrow. The Writer’s Jungle is not a step by step curriculum although it has many great ideas. It is more of a philosophy of why and how to teach writing. It is a reference that every homeschool home needs. The Arrow is language art program for 3rd thru 6th grade. It covers spelling, punctuation, grammar, and literary elements in a “natural, literature-bathed context, using copywork and dictation.”  This may not seem like “enough” for those who are not familiar with Charlotte Mason and her methods but I can tell you that this is all we used for my son this year. Language arts is his weakness and he made great strides using this program. He also read some great literature which made me very happy.

For Claire(7), I purchased The Wand. Cobey(10) does a lot of this program with us which I think has also helped him.  The Wand is geared for K-2nd and covers phonics, spelling, word origin, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and vocabulary development. It is hands-on and continues to amaze me with how much I learn from it.

The last product we have used was  a four week online poetry class. The kid loved it and we all learned so much. I have all the materials so that I can go back and do the class again in a few year. She has a variety of online classes that look great and  I look forward to taking more in the future.  I have not been disappointed with any products or classes that I have purchased through Brave Writer and can highly recommend them. Come on and join the Brave Writer Bandwagon.

PS Don’t judge Brave Writer  based on my grammar, spelling or writing. Remember I attended public school. 🙂

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Greensboro Historical Museum

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Tuesday Mar 6, 2012 Under Claire, Cobey, Kid's Corner, NC History, Travel


We had a great time today at the Greensboro Historical Museum. We took a trip to Greensboro around 1900, and visit the Porter School, the Richardson & Fariss Drug Store, Steam Fire Engine Company No.1, Hotel Clegg and the Crystal Theatre. In the school, we learned what life was like in a one room schoolhouse and got to practice on a slate. In the Drug Store, we learned about formulas that the pharmacist would come up with it. In the Fire Station, we learned about the fire station in the early 1900s and got to practice a bucket brigade. In the hotel, we learned about the hotel and about how the phone system worked during that time. In the Crystal Theatre, we watched old movies which was interesting for the kids. This was an awesome hands-on program. It added so much to the museum experience. I highly recommend it to any group. After the program, we walked through the rest of the museum and then headed out.


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Today, we stopped in Camden, SC on our way to Columbia. It was one of the Revolutionary Sites that we never made it to last year while we were studying the Revolutionary War. We came to a site. We got out and went into a small house that was the visitors center. We had been inside for a few minutes and  had not seen anyone. Claire in a very loud voice said, “Is anyone in here.” A lady came out of a back room on the phone. She told us the buildings were open and there was a movie but she she did not seem to want to be bothered. We went out and I told the kids this must not be it. So, we got back in the car and road down the road some more. Well, that was it so we went back. We started with the movie which was okay. It did get Cobey excited about the significance of the town. It is one that loops so we started in the middle which I hate. We then walked around and we did find the Kershaw house which looked nice but was locked. There are several other buildings on the grounds with displays but  we were not impressed at all. It probably would have been much better if we I had gotten their in time for the three o’clock tour. We gave it three thumbs down for our experience and that is from kids that love history. I suggest making sure you make one of the guided tours or skip this stop all together. Hoping for better luck tomorrow.


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Bennett Place

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday Nov 7, 2011 Under Civil War Sites, Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, NC History, Travel, Uncategorized

Last week, we took a field trip to Bennett Place in Durham. This is the site of the largest surrender of troops during the Civil War. I really did not know much about the site and had never been. We started out looking at the small visitor center and then watching the movie. The movie was gave a great background of what was going on during the time period and the significance of the site. We then took a tour of the site where they have rebuilt the home, kitchen and smokehouse that once stood there. The tour was mostly about how the family would have lived during that time. The last part of our visit was when a Civil War solider taught the children how to march. I have never seen that group stand so straight and be so quite. The parents decided they all need military school. The solider showed the kids how to load and shot a musket to end his part. The field trip was free and very well put together. It is an interesting part of NC history and recommend you check it out.


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