We started our morning in Historic Edenton at the Iredell House. We had a great guide that gave us a insight into the important role the Iredell family had in history. I have been in many historic homes and I am amazed that their are still so many items that I have never seen. I enjoy seeing and learning about new pieces. After the house tour, the kids were excited to get onto the trolley. We had a 45 min. trolley ride around the town. Our tour guide did a great job of  showing us a lot of different architectural styles. He also shared the history of the town. I enjoyed the story about the Edenton Tea Party and the slave girl that escaped. We watched a short movie in the Visitors Center after the tour which was a nice overview. We quickly went and saw a few more things before we had to be at our next tour.


Our next tour was at the Edenton National Fish Hatchery. We started in the small aquarium where the kids got to see and learn about an alligator. We walked back to the hatchery to see what they do there. It was very interesting and we had a great guide. The think I liked best is he talked about finding something you love and making it your career. You could tell he loved his job. It is such an important lesson for kids to learn and I liked they could see it being lived out.




Our last tour was at Historic Planation.  It is a great example of the colonial period and gave a great glimpse to the time period. My favorite room was the library where Mr. Stone the owner of the plantation, had over 1400 volumes at the time of his death. There were some beautiful pieces in the house. The kids also learned where pop goes the weasel came from.

We also got to tour the 1763 King-Bazemore home that was brought to the site from four miles away. It also has been nicely restored and has some interesting pieces. It amazes me that after all the homes we can continue to learn more and more. We had an awesome day and made it home before too late.

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We stopped on our way to Edenton at the Rocky Mount Children’s Museum. It was a good half way point to take a break. We stayed an hour which was plenty of time. We had been several years ago but most of the exhibits had changed. It was free because we have a children’s museum membership.  There is a dinosaur exhibit, an exhibit that shows how your body works, a preschool gym that the kids were almost too big for, two costumes to dress up and a natural science center. The science center has a touch tank that has nothing to touch in it.  It has an alligator and a python that are living. The best part of the day was when the Rhino started making noisy and scared me half to death.  Overall it is an okay museum but I would not go out of my way to go there. It is not no were near as good as a NC Museum of National Science or a Marbles.

We had dinner at Waterman’s Grill in Edenton which was recommended by our hotel.  It is downtown Edenton and not on the water.  You could see the water from some of the tables thru a small window but not from our table. I like being on the water when I eat seafood but besides that the atmosphere was nice. They don’t have a kid’s menu except for a shrimp plate for 7.50. I hate paying money for food for Claire that she will not eat. I had streamed shrimp, Cobey had a salad with fried oysters and Claire had the shrimp plate. The kids food looked really good and they enjoyed it. My shrimp was overdone but okay. Cobey had key lime pie for dessert that was excellent.  Overall it was good but for a family with kids, it was on the pricey side.


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Museum of Industry and Chocolate World

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Oct 9, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

We started the day at the Museum of Industry in Baltimore. I thought it would only take an hour to go thru so we did not rush to get there. We spent over an hour and could have stayed longer but had to get  Bruce to the airport. They have a guided tour which you can join at any time. I highly recommend the tour because the staff shows how the machines work and gives great information about the exhibits.  You even get to help operate one of the machines. We did not get to hear the entire tour but we hope to return soon. There is a transportation section, printing section, cannery, blacksmithing, sewing factory and more.  It is one of our free museums with our Historic Ship Membership. They also have homeschool days four times a year. It is definitely worth checking out!

We dropped off Bruce at the airport and headed for Hershey. Claire was first to see the Hershey Kiss light post. She was so excited. She said she wanted to live here. We went to Chocolate World where we first went on the free ride that tells you how chocolate is made. The kids enjoyed it so we of course had to ride again. Claire liked the talking cows.

The next activity was the Create Your Own Bar. I was a little skeptical because of the price but it turned out really neat. You enter and receive your disposal apron and hairnets which the kids kept as souvenirs. You then go to a computer where you pick the ingredients that you want in your bar. Then you go to a room where you get to watch your bar go down the line and be mad.  Then you go to another computer area where you get to design your wrapper. Lastly, you get to pick up your bar.

The last activity of the day was a trolley ride. I really wanted the kids to do this because I wanted the kids to hear the story of Milton Hershey. He has a great story. He went bankrupt four times, had a ticket on the Titanic and left a legacy for disadvantage kids. His story has lots of great life lessons. They gave us lots of chocolate during the hour tour which thrilled Claire. The trip to Hershey has even turned Cobey into liking chocolate.  It was a great day and the kids are begging to come back.

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Baltimore- Day Two

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday Oct 8, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Military Museums, National Parks, Travel

We had a rough start to the day. No one had slept well. We stayed at Hilton Garden and the hotel was fine except Claire did not get her french toast which is her favorite thing there. And they don’t know how to cook grits this far north. Cobey and Bruce haves colds so the first stop was the CVS. We then tried to find our way to Fort McHenry. We were very close but it took almost an hour. There was first a VERY long VERY slow train that came to a stop. We then try to find our way around the train when we find a bridge out that we had to navigate around. We were only a few miles from the fort but it took forever.

Cobey loved the visitor center. His favorite part was the interactive time line. He liked how “modern” it was. The visitor center is small but has a great movie and some interesting exhibits. The fort is well preserved and has displays in most of the buildings.  You could also walk around the outside and top of the fort. The kids did the Junior Ranger program which was okay but not a stand out at all.

The fort is famous for the battle during the War 1812 where Frances Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. The fort was also used during the civil was as a prison and World War I as a hospital. Bruce and Cobey said the fort was their favorite part of the day.

We then headed back to Inner Harbor for the Star Spangled Banner Museum and the Flag Museum.  They have a small museum with a film. The film was interesting but was hard to hear and understand. We then got a guided tour of the house where the flag that flew over Fort McHenry was made. This was my favorite part of the day. I learned the flag at that time had 15 stripes and that it was put together in a brewery across the street. The tour guide was interesting and informative. The picture is showing how big the actual flag would have been. Amazing!! Claire loved the room inside the museum where she got to dress up and pretend to cook by the fire.

We finally made it to what Cobey had been asking for the Historic Ships We first went into the USS Torsk a submarine. There is no guide, no audio and very little printed information. It is interesting to walk thru and get a size perspective. I really liked the USS Constellation. There is a great audio tour – one version for adults and one for kids. I listened to the kid one and it was very good at teaching about the boat and what life would be like on the boat. It did not get into what kind of action the ship saw. You get to see all four levels of the ship and Cobey even got to try out the sleeping arrangements.  This tour turned out really good.

The last stop was the dragon paddle boats for Claire. She had been asking to go on the them for two days. We decided we enjoyed the Sawn boats in Boston better. You got to relax more and the scenery was nicer.

We ended up getting the museum membership for the Historic Ships. It is better than a Go Card!  Our membership will last till Dec 2012 and gets us in free to over 15 Baltimore History Museums and over 30 Maritime Museums.  Some of the museums are already free so look carefully to see if it will pay off for you.  As much as we travel I know it will pay for itself very soon!

We at at Denny’s because Saturday is Kids Eat Free! We are at the Embassy Suites tonight and the kids had a great time at the pool. Now for a good nights sleep.

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An Evening at Inner Harbor

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Oct 7, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

The drive was miserable. The GPS took us a strange way thru DC and added almost an hour to the the already long drive. We only stopped once to go to the bathroom. We ate lunch in the car with food we had packed to save money and time. We arrived at Inner Harbor at almost four. I had wanted to take the kids to the aquarium before but it is a little pricey.  For admission and the dolphin show it would have cost us 102 dollars. I found a special if you enter after five on Fridays in October so we purchased our tickets for 48 and then headed for dinner.

The place I had in mind for dinner was closed so we ended up at J Paul’s Tavern. The atmosphere was great. We ate outside looking out on the harbor.  Bruce and I had steamed shrimp, Cobey had crabcake sliders and Claire had grilled cheese. The food was excellent! We told the waitress we were in a hurry and the service was extra fast. The kid’s meals came with a great ice cream sundae with whipped cream and sprinkles. They gave Cobey one even though he did not have a kid’s meal. The prices were reasonable for the location and quality but not cheap. Kids meals were 7 and entrees between 10 and 30.  It was a good meal and I would return.

After dinner, we headed for the aquarium. It was better than I remember and I was impressed with the exhibits.  There is not a huge impressive shark tank where they dive like at tother aquarium but some of the smaller aquariums were amazing. Some were just stunning.  There were also animals that I had not seen before. I loved the tanks in the rainforest exhibit because the fish and animals were so different there. We also saw a sloth and learned some facts about them.  Next we went to the dolphin show which was cute. They shared a few facts about dolphins and the ocean. The kids absolutely loved it!

After the show, we went into the newest exhibit- Jellies Invasion. This was the only time I  regretted the discounted tickets because it was packed. I was stepped on twice. Even though it was crowded, I wanted to stay because they had some very cool different jellyfish. It is a well put together exhibit and wish I could have enjoyed it more.

The last stop, besides the gift shop for Claire to buy a dolphin of course, was the Australian  exhibit. I loved it because Claire got to feed an archer fish. The fish spits at the insect in a trees to get it to fall out of the tree. The fish got Claire right in the face. She loved it!  She walked away saying this was the best aquarium in the world. The dolphins and archer fish were by far her favorite things.

The other thing the aquarium does not have unless we missed it – is touch tanks. They had staff stationed throughout telling about the animals which was great. We have been to aquariums in NC, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta, and Boston. I would put it middle of the pack. This one had some of the best exhibits but I like the hands-on activities a the others.

After a long drive, the day ended on a positive note with a great dinner and great fun at the aquarium. The aquarium exceeded my expectations. I don’t know if it 104 exceed but definitely worth 48.


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Marine Science Consortium Trip

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Tuesday Sep 27, 2011 Under Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, National Parks, Travel

Cobey and I arrived to campus Sunday evening after braving the Chesapeake Bridge. If you recall from earlier post, I do not care for bridges and tunnels at all. I was not happy to discover AFTER I signed up for this field trip that the Chesapeake Bridge was part of my route. It took a weekend crop in Richmond with a great friend and a last minute visit to more friends in Virginia Beach to get up the courage. It actually was not as bad as I thought. There was not much traffic on the bridge which I think helped and it was at dusk. I really could not see the full effect. We will see how I manage tomorrow going back in the daylight.

They had left a key for us in a mailbox and finding our room was easy. We had time to get unpacked and then it was time for the bed. The next morning came early for me. Breakfast was at 7:30. In the morning, Cobey went on a nature hike and did a nature journal while I stayed back with the some moms and talked about homeschool issues. In the afternoon, we went to a field trip to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  The talk by the ranger and movie was a little long. They did play one game where they got up and moved but for the most part  it was sit and listen.  We then rode through the refuge where we did not get to see much. This part of the camp was disappointing and I was beginning to worry.

After dinner, we had a Oceanographic Equipment Lecture. Lecture made me a little nervous because that usually equates to boring. This lecture was very informative and interesting and done quite well. We went over each station on the boat and what we would be doing the next day.

We woke to a thick fog which caused our day to be shifted around. We first went to Tom’s Cove Visitor Center. The center had a small touch tank and a bone identification exhibit.  After a short visit there, we headed to the intertidal where we walked out in knee deep water to the estuary. Once we hiked out the kids used nets, boxes, and seine nets to catch organisms  to take back to the lab.

After lunch, we got to go out on the research boat where we got to explore the estuary more. The kids loved being scientist on the boat and doing the different experiments. Tonight, the kids had to use Dichotomous keys, field guides and microscopes to help identify what they found. They also learned about zooplankton and phytoplankton. It was a great day and I think Cobey learned a lot.

The food was not great. It is what I think of when I think of bad cafeteria food but edible. The accommodations were very clean and the mattress was better than a typical camp mattress. I slept great!  Daniel was our naturalist and he was awesome. He was passionate about marine life and it showed. He kept a room of boys entertained and interested. Overall, we had a great experience and we would return again. Now I just have to make it back over the bridge.



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Art Detectives

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Aug 17, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner

We had a few homeschool families over today for an art appreciation lesson. We used a free kit that I borrowed from the NC Museum of Art. We first looked at a painting and then turned it over to see how many things we could remember. In Charlotte Mason terms, this is called Picture Study. It is a great activity to do to develop the discipline of attention which I have come to believe is an essential part of learning.

We then divided the kids into four teams and they each got a case to solve. They had a picture of a piece of art, evidence, and a suspect costume. They were detectives and had to come up with a story behind the art. The kids really enjoyed it and wanted to do more than one case. We then shared our stories and compared how they were different.

They used skills of evaluation, making associations, problem finding, interpretation, flexible thinking, visual analysis and recall. They did all this while having fun!! Go the NC Museum of Art’s website and look under explore and then educators and reserve your kit!


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I have had a few busy weeks. We spent a few days at the beach where we celebrated my brothers birthday. We had a lot of fun with a Casino theme. We also

While we were there, the Senate voted to override the governor’s veto on HB  854- Woman’s Right to Know. This was the last step and  I was so excited because I worked on getting this bill passed. They have been trying to pass this bill for over thirty years. It will save between 3,000 to 6,000 babies a year. Praise the Lord!!

Also while I was there, I finished two storybooks, planned for next homeschool term and started on my NC History Curriculum.

When we returned home, we went to Sword of Peace at Snow Camp. The play is about the Quaker’s internal struggle with rather to fight in Revolutionary War or stick with religious beliefs. I don’t believe it is quite as good as Horn in the West and The Lost Colony but a decent show. I recommend you read about Nathaniel Greene and the Revolutionary War in NC before you go to make it even more meaningful and easier to follow along. Claire was disappointed that she could not go on stage afterward to take photos with the actors. They did greet us as we were leaving.

On Saturday, I will be leaving for a trip to Belize. Please follow our team here: http://www.prayingpelicanmissions.org/journals.cfm


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Highland Games and Horn in the West

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Jul 10, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

I had heard about the the Highland Games while I was at school at ASU but never attended. They are held at Grandfather Mountain each year. We got there shortly after lunch and spent a few hours there. The tickets for adults are a little pricey I think at $30; but, the kids are only $5 so that helps. You also have to pay $5 each for the shuttle up to the event.

It really is hard to review the games because we got an inside view with the MacMillan Clan. They have tents surrounding the main field for each of the clans. Our tent even had great food which the kids loved.  There are all kinds of different sports to watch on the field. Claire loved watching the dancing and the sheep herding but did not care for the bag pipes. Cobey was fascinated with the whole thing and wanted to look up to see if we were in clan. We are still trying to figure it all that out. We are worried we may have been part of the clan that joined the Tories in the Revolutionary War. There is a lot to see, do and eat!  It reminded me of a huge family reunion with great entrainment.  I think we will now have to add a family history to our studies next year.

That evening we went to Horn in West. We got there 30 minutes early to purchase our tickets which worked out great. They have a living museum there with frontier home, blacksmith, tavern, and store. They have costumed interpreters to tell you more about the structures and items in them. We went through each of the buildings and then found our seats.

The show was outstanding. It starts with the Battle of Alamance and ends with the Battle at Kings Mountain. The kids had been to the site of the Battle of Alamance and learned about Kings Mountain. I think this made the play even more meaningful to the kids. But even if your kids do not have the background mine did,  the action will keep them interesting and the story line gives them an insight to the people during this period.  If you have an upper elementary or older student you should add it to your must do list.  When you do, rent the 50 cent cushion- the seats are hard and bring bug spray.

We had two great meals at Shatley Springs outside of Jefferson. If you are in the area and would like a great home cooked meal then check them out. We also ate at the Mountain House in Boone. I still don’t believe it is as good as the good ole days. The menu has shifted way from the country cooking and has more steaks and fish. The food and service were good not great.


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We headed for the mountains this weekend to visit some good friends. On the way up, we stopped at Guildford Courthouse National Park. After all the parks we have been to that have been so good, I don’t know why they continue to surprise me. This park is much bigger and better than I expected. I highly recommend it to anyone learning about Revolutionary War, colonial times, or NC History.

We started in the museum with a thirty minute movie that gave a good overview of the battle.  We then walked through the museum which is not huge but has some good exhibits and different from other parks. We then watched the map presentation which shows in detail the moves of the forces. The kids finished their junior ranger program and then we saw a musket demonstration.

We decided to do an audio tour instead of the ranger tour. The audio tour gave information about each stop. I was glad we did it because we would have probably missed the first stop which was great.  Not far down the road is the Colonial Heritage Center. Here they focus more on colonial life using the Hoskins Farmstead as the back drop. There is a map display that I think is better than the one in the visitor display. They have a separate junior ranger program that is very good. They get to know what life would be like for  two of the Hoskin’s children for Hannah and Joseph.  There are  different pages for girls and boys.

We went through the museum first that showed life on the farm and included clothes they wore, how a mill worked, different trades, and a life size cabin. The children answered most of the questions of the Junior Ranger program in the museum. We then had a guided tour of the building outside- home, kitchen and barn. We had an awesome guide. She was so great at engaging the children and asking them questions. She even stumped Cobey with a few questions.

After we completed the junior ranger badges, we finished the audio tour. We did not get out at every stop but around three our four. We were at park for over four hours and the kids loved it and wanted to go back.

On the way back from the mountains, we stopped at the Winston-Salem Children’s Museum. This was our second visit and the kids had a great time. Cobey loved the beanstalk that you climb to get to the second floor. On the second floor, the kids loved the Krispie Kreme shop. Cobey spent most of his time there where it was his store and he ran the business. Claire also enjoyed the grocery store and the storybook area. There was a special puppet show there based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. I was excited about that because we are going to start Shakespeare this year and this was an excellent introduction.

After the museum, we had dinner at Frontline Brewery a few blocks away. The service was excellent and food was delicious. Tuesdays is half off the children’s menu so give it a try.



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