Become a Junior Zookeeper at Indianapolis Zoo

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Jun 24, 2015 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel, Zoo

11402931_10205781076860836_6230966643007750309_nWe only had a few hours to spend but we packed in as much as possible.  What I love about zoos is they all have a different twist.  There were several highlights from this zoo. One would be the dolphin show which was pretty good. My only complaint was it was hard to understand what the trainers were saying. We also went to the All-Star Dog show. It was also entertaining. They had where you could feed the birds and giraffe. They also had the now obligatory rides at the zoo. They had a train, a carousel and a decent roller coaster.

11218173_10205781074660781_4697642178762626424_nThe part we like the best and didn’t figure out till we had been there for a while was the Zookeeper Challenge. There are kiosks throughout the park where you can tap your unlimited wrist band and get started. You tap at the kiosk near of the animals and then back to the station where it ask you a question. The challenge really teaches you a lot in a fun way.   You get a reward at the end at the gift shop. We only had time to do about half but Claire loved it and it made getting the all inclusive package worth it. If you want to save money then only get the package for the kid that wants to do the activity. We only got it for Claire. She rode the carousel,  fed the birds several times and did the zookeeper challenge so it paid for itself.

We stayed around four hours. We didn’t get to hear any zoo chats and didn’t do all the rides but saw both shows and most of the animals. You could easily spend a day here or even less time if you only walked through and saw the animals. It was a good zoo and worth the visit.

Relaxing While Claire Feeds the Birds

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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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Day Four in NYC- Financial, Fashion, Food and Fun!

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday May 28, 2014 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

Trinity Root

Financial Tour This was by far the best day in New York and now the kids really want to come back. I planned the day with the kids interest and passions in mind. We started with a Financial Tour – The Wall Street Experience.  The tour was two hours and excellent. It included great revolutionary history in the tour. It included background information about what caused the financial crisis. I would recommend this tour even if you are not that interested in finances.  Cobey really wants to go into the New  York Stock Exchange and already working on this for the next visit.

We then headed straight for the 911 Museum. We only had a little over an hour and we did not have near enough time. Our friends went and stayed six hours. The museum is intense powerful and thorough. My only complaint was there was too many people allowed in at one time. Despite the crowd, people were quiet and introspective more so than any museum I have been to. The kids want to go back when we have more time to spend. This time we had to go for  Clare’s part of the day

Claire at Fashion Tour

I signed her up for a private tour with SEEK. We got on the subway going the wrong way but we made it to our meeting spots only a few minutes late. The tour did not disappoint. Our tour guide Liz started with giving us background about the fashion district and fashion history. Some of the history went along with our tour the day before at the Tenement Museum. After the history part, she then took Claire shopping. We went to a bead store, three trim stores and three fabric stores. Claire had a ball and we had the best guide.  Liz gave great advice and encouragement. They became instant friends.  The tour was a little over two hours and since we skipped lunch and it was now almost five,  we were starved. With advice from Liz, we headed to John’s Pizza. It was a great meal. They have gluten free pasta but I had a wonderful salad. The kids loved the mozzarella wedges and cheese ravioli. Cobey was disappointed with his wings but otherwise good meal. We then headed for Dylan’s Candy Bar. The Dylan’s Candy Bar was a very sweet ending to a great day.

Claire and Liz Dylan's Candy Bar

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MOST and Fort Stanwix

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday May 24, 2014 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Politics

Fort Stanwick

Flying a F-16



Yesterday we made two stops on the way to NYC. The first stop was the science museum in Syracuse- Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) . We spent about two hours there. It was much smaller than Pittsburgh. We watch a Planetarium Show called Zoo in the Sky which was good. The kids favorite exhibit was where they could fly planes.

Fort Stanwix


The next stop was Fort Stanwix which was built at the end of the French Indian War and  where a siege took place during the American Revolution.  There was a reenactment going on so the fort was full of folks in costume which made it even more fun. We spent about two hours which was rushed. I wish we had time for tour also but we had to head out.

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Day Two at Niagara Falls

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday May 23, 2014 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

Butterfly Conservatory


World's Largest FlowerWe had another full day. The weather was rainy on and off all day but most of what we had planned was indoors so it worked out okay. We finished the activities on both passes. The first stop was the Floral Showhouse which was part of the Nature Pass. This was a huge disappointment. It had a room with the world’s largest flower and one other room full of hydrangeas. Outside there were lot of tulips. There was not much to it. We moved on from there to Butterfly Conservatory.  Claire loved this place and it was in her top picks for the two days. It was bigger than some we have been to but basically the same.



We next went to Laura Secord Homestead. The Canadians are very proud of Laura Secord who traveled 20 Kilometers on foot to warn the British where the American’s were going to attack.  It then took her 50 years to get the recognition she thought she deserved.  The next stop was in both kids top three activities- MacKenzie Printery.  We first heard background information about William Lyon MacKenzie , a rebel printer. The kids got to typeset their names and print a paper with their names on it. They also got to print a bookmark on a different machine.

????????We drove through the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. I love this town and wish it was beside the falls. It was old and quaint. We then went to McFarland house. We learned more about the War of 1812  and how upper class lived at the time.  The last stop before we crossed the bridge to the US was the smallest church in the world.

Musket Firing We made it to Fort Niagara just in time for the last movie and guided tour. We had two hours and we were rushed to see it all. We loved this fort. We learned so much more about the War of 1812. The fort was built by the French which is different than other forts that we have visited in the states. One of the top three activities for both kids during the two days.

After we left the fort, I wanted to go see the American side of the falls. It started raining on the drive. We parked and went to this large gaudy store. Clifton Hills is Myrtle Beach and the American side is South of the Border. It is tacky and not decent places to eat.  With the rain and hunger pains, we decided to skip the falls on the American side and headed to dinner. Overall great day and fabulous visit to The Falls.

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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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Day at Niagra Falls, ON

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

A022214115A Fort Erie

We arrived late last night  and we were looking forward to a great view this morning from our room.  We were disappointed when all we could see was mist and fog.  We decided we wanted to do the Heritage Trail Pass and Adventure Nature Pass.  We will see if we can get it all done in 2 full days. Today, we started at the south end of Niagara Parkway at Fort Erie. We watched a 30 minute film about a battle during War of 1812. Then we had a tour of the fort with a guide in costume.  Cobey talked the entire day about how 3,000 killed was not that many compared to some of our battles in the US.


Behind the FallsThe next stop was Journey Behind the Falls. We added this onto our Nature Pass. This was a bit of disappointment. It was the closest view by far we got of the falls. It is kind of cool to know you are walking in tunnels behind the falls but when you get to the cutouts you can’t see anything.  They did have plaques with cool information in the tunnels. This one ranked last of all our activities.

Niagara FallsThe next stop was new Hornblower Niagara Cruises. This was an awesome experience. They ride the boat into the mist of the falls which is like a steady rain when you get that close. The ride is only 15 minutes or so but  really fun. The kids loved it and quickly became their favorite of the day. Don’t worry about rain gear. Both the Journey Behind the Falls and the Hornblower Niagara Cruises provide you with these nifty rain ponchos.

Whirlppol Aero CarWe next went on the Whirlpool Aero Car. You ride in a open air cable car high above Class 6 rapids.  The round trip is about 1 Kilometre. This actually exceeded expectations and we really liked it.  It was a close second to the boats. We took the WEGO bus from the cruise to the car and back. Save your gas and the outrageous parking fees and use the WEGO which is included in the pass. It is easy to use. It will not work for the Heritage Trail Pass but for everything else you are good.

Niagara Helicopters We finally ate at Hard Rock around 3:30 in the Clifton Hill district. The Clifton Hill is Myrtle Beach squeezed into a block. It is full of wax museums, haunted houses, mini golf, rides. I really think it is tacky.  I decided early on today that this would not be a place I wanted to come back. We had a wonderful day and the falls are beautiful but all the commercialization takes away from it. I have seen overall more beautiful places in the world. I am glad I have been once but not on my return list.  On my list to do again for sure is our last activity of the day. Shop for bargains,  skip wasting your money at Clifton Hills and put on your must do list the helicopter ride with Niagara Helicopter. It was fabulous. They have a recorded tape of what you are seeing and a little history about the area. Cobey was thrilled to sit up front with the pilot. He said it was the best 11 minutes of his life. Claire was smiling ear to ear the entire trip. It was a huge hit. The only  bad thing is that the rest of the trip will be a let down.

???????? Falls

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Family Week at Coble Ski School

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday May 31, 2012 Under Claire, Cobey, Kid's Corner, Travel



We are home from four nights and days at Coble Ski School in Lillington, NC. Cobey went one day last year and learned how to get up on two. The water was low at the lake all summer last year so he never got a chance to improve on his skills. This summer I decided to take them both for the week. Before you ask, yes I have taught a bunch of people how to ski over the years. I don’t have as good a record as April but I have done pretty good.  I teach the kids everything else, can I not get a break on something.

The first night you get there they have a meeting to learn the rules. The kids each got bags and water bottles which came in handy for the week.  The schedule does not work on my time clock. They have lights out at nine and they get up before seven. Anyone who knows me at all knows that’s the hardest part. They provide all the meals and the kids loved the food. Cobey especially loved the banana pudding.  I brought most of my food because of the gluten thing but they always had salad to eat and I loved the ham and taco meals. The second night they went to the water park area at the lake with several blowups. The third night they went bowling and the last night they went for ice cream. Heather did a great job of entertaining after ski sets. I barely saw Claire the whole time because their were several girls around her age.

 And now to the skiing. They skied four times on Monday and three times on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. By the end of the week, I was wishing that I had brought my ski and skied.  Cobey started the week getting up with two skis with a bar and ended the week dropping a ski and crossing the wake. I was very happy with his progress. It would have taken a lot more time at the lake and probably some yelling for me to get him to this point. Claire had been skiing on the skimmer for several summers but never gotten up on two. She got up on two with the bar  the first day and by then next day she was getting up on two without the bar. A large part of skiing is mental and somewhere Claire lost the mental game. She is sure to be a great skier because she was blaming everything but herself. (My old ski friends will get this.) It was the wrong equipment, the drivers fault, and the wrong people were in the boat. On Thursday, they put the bar back on which was disappointing to me because I felt it was a step back.  But you could tell she had her confidence back the last set and looked better.

This place really is special and I can’t put my finger on exactly why.  I think part of is that it is family run and the family is very involved. April is actually instructing and has a real talent with kids. Her mom is in charge of the meals. Her mother-in-law drove the bus one evening. And her husband and dad are helping also. April is a super star in the ski world and Cobey came in from lunch all excited that she sat with him.

The instructors are all awesome except the one I had the “misunderstanding” with. They are very encouraging yet don’t buy into complaining and whining. Cobey really liked Daniel. I think Claire had a great last run because she wanted to hear Aubrey talk like a chipmunk. They were running four lakes while we were there and they have it down to a science.

The room we slept in was nothing fancy but comfortable. We had a small fridge in our room which was nice for the food I brought. It had two sets of bunk beds. One bunkbed had a double on the bottom and that is where I slept.  We had a bathroom in our room and air conditioning. It was a great experience and I hope that we can make back again! Maybe I should go back to Spa Week without the kids…..



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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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