It is now February so things are rolling again. We spent a little over 24 hours earlier this week in Charlotte. We got there Monday afternoon and headed straight for Discovery Place. I have not been in years and boy has it changed. They first went into Kidscience where they loved the huge Lite Brite. They say the room is for ages 0-7 but both the kids liked several things in the room. The next room that they spent some time in was  one of the labs. They never get tired of touching a hermit crab. They saw some different animals and played a game about the water cycle. After going thru the rainforest, we headed upstairs. They both enjoyed putting up a shelter and then designing a cafe on the computer. Claire loved laying on a bed of nails and the air chair in the Cool Stuff exhibit. It is a great hands-on way to learn about physics. We spent about two hours and could have stayed longer but we had another stop to make. We have a museum pass so it only cost us the $8 parking fee. We dropped by Dan Forest Headquarters to pick up Cobey a shirt and then headed to meet friends for dinner.

The next morning we were at the NASCAR Hall of Fame waiting for it to open. I had heard mixed reviews on the the museum but we loved it. If you are looking for a museum with lots of stuff to look at but not much to do then this is not the place for you. The museum is very interactive and hands-on. You get a card when you go in then you can  play games and do activities to earn points. Some of the kids loved that part. The experience starts with a movie that gives a good overview of the sport.  We had a good size group with several families which made it even more fun. They loved competing at the pit stop exhibit (pictured on right) to see who was the fastest.  There are several simulators that cost extra. We only did the race one which Cobey enjoyed. Cobey also loved pretending to announce the race on the radio. Claire liked waving the flags, the M and M colorful fan exhibit and the pit stop. We spent a little over two hours at the museum and then had lunch next door at the Buffalo Wild Wing Cafe. The food and service were good. We  then headed for the track- Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Our group did the Over the Wall tour which was awesome. We saw the Performance Racing Network studios, the Speedway Club and the luxury suites. The view from the club and suites was amazing. We then hopped in the van to tour the track. This part included two laps around the track and  a ride on the drag strip. This was the highlight of the tour and that little van got moving pretty fast. We were lucky enough to have a tour guide that had been employed there since 1969. She was a wealth of knowledge and not a timid driver either. We also got out and saw the Time Warner media center and got to stand in victory circle. It was a great ending to our day. Some of our group liked the tour better and some liked the museum better.  They are very different experiences so try them both out. I really enjoyed both and so did my kids. Well, tomorrow we are off to Columbia so I will report back in-  real soon!






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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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Town Creek Indian Mound

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Oct 14, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, North Carolina, Travel

We had a great field trip to Town Creek Indian Mount in Mount Gilead. We started on in the visitor center with a movie that gives a good overview of the site. The kids then had a few minutes exploring the exhibits. There is a traveling one that is interactive and quite good. We then went to the classroom where they learned about clothing and tools of the native people. By the way, I love outdoor classrooms. The kids got to see and learn about lots of different artifacts.

We then took a tour of site. The site has three reconstructed building- a ceremonial building, a burial hut, and a family house. We learned more about how the tribe would have lived in each building. It was a great tour and very informative. We had a picnic lunch and then headed back to the classroom. The kids were then shown how to make pinch pots and go to make their how pinch pot. If you go I highly recommend adding on the programs to make the drive worth it. The entire program was $6 for the kids and $3 for adults.

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We spent the whole day at the warehouse and most of it in clothing. We had to take off plastic, remove hanger, fold and box. We went through boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of clothes. We had a great time talking with the people and learning more about the ministry of GAIN.  The kids loved the job of getting into the huge boxes and packing down the plastic and hangers. The final step (pictured above) is praying over the boxes.

Mission teams take the supplies that are packed this week and distribute them all over the world. This week they were packing clothes, school supplies, food, blankets and more.

One of the best things about this ministry is that EVERYONE can help. There were infants to the elderly at the warehouse that day.  A very small child can make a difference. I think it is important to start early teaching your children about helping others and pray GAIN will continue to allow children to participate even though they are small.


Jan, the innkeeper at The Artist Inn, recommended we try out the Turkey Hill Experience. After our day at the warehouse we headed to Columbia.  We had a great time. They have cow’s you can milk, a milk truck to drive and bad bacteria to zap.  It has a ball pit, a slide and lot of interactive exhibits.

You get to create your own ice cream flavor, make your own package and then film the commercial for it. I was worried the kids would be disappointed because they don’t actually make the ice cream like you make your chocolate bar but they LOVED it! Cobey loved making the commercial and made my commercial also!  (pictured below) At the end you get to taste ice cream and beverages made by Turkey Hill. The kids agreed it was much better than Ben and Jerry’s tour and just as good as Chocolate World.  I only wish they would  have a booklet like The Hershey Story. They rushed thru the museum and I think missed some of the educational pieces. I would also have liked to heard more about the story of the Turkey Hill family. I hear it is a good one! We would go back for sure it was a fun evening!

We ended the evening with dinner at Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen. We loved the atmosphere and the food was excellent. The bill was cheaper than Shady Maples and I did not even have to wait it line once.  Two great recommendations by Jan – another reason we love staying there.

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You would think after the Chocolate World ride, Create Your Own Chocolate Bar and the trolley ride, we would have heard enough about Mr. Hershey and had enough sweet, but we decided to head for The Hershey Story museum. It had been a long time since I had been and it had mixed reviews so I was a little unsure.  I decided I love the story of Mr. Hershey and reinforcement of the story would not be so bad.

If you have kids, spend the extra three dollars per kid and do the Apprentice Program. They have to find things and answer questions and they get stamps and punches along the way. The staff was AWESOME and helpful. The kids got way more out of the museum then they would have otherwise. At the end they get their photo and name put into a newspaper article and printed. They loved it! Also while we were there we also did the Chocolate Lab, where we made chocolate cobwebs and learned about how chocolate was made. The class was interesting and kept the kids attention.

If I had to choose between Chocolate World and The Hershey Story it would be a hard choice. People who say it is the same thing are wrong. Chocolate World is more entertaining while The Hershey Story is more educational.  There is some overlapping but hearing something twice is not a bad thing. However, I would do the Create Your Own Chocolate Bar at Chocolate World not The Hershey Story. It is more expensive but totally different experience. Chocolate Lab was the best for teaching them about how chocolate is made though. Cobey’s favorite thing was Create Your Own Chocolate Bar and Claire could not pick because she loved it all.  And for once I agree with Claire- I can’t choose.



We spent the rest of the afternoon at GAIN Warehouse in Mt Joy.  Claire was VERY disappointed to find out that Richard (the friend she made last time) was not their this time. We brought in four boxes of clothes we had collected from our COOP and hundreds of bracelets that the AHG girls made. It took Claire a long time to put in all the quarters and coins she had collected. I was proud of her!  We spent the rest of the time packing care packages and boxing up new clothes. It was my favorite part of the day.

On the way home, The Artist Inn is like our second home, we had dinner at Shady Maple. When we drove into the parking lot it was like driving up to an amusement park. I have never seen so many cars at a restaurant. I am not sure why I thought this was a good idea since I have never liked buffets. This is a buffet on steroids. You stand in line to pay first. It was $35 for the three of us no bad but not great. You then stand in line to be seated. After you are seated, you have to navigate through lots of people to several different lines. This is not easy when you have to do it times three. People where eating in the lines, there was spilled food everywhere and did I mention people everywhere. It was not relaxing at all. The kids liked the huge variety of food but it was not for me and I will not be back.

We finally made it to The Artist Inn where Jan had decorated the house with lots of pumpkins just for us!! 🙂  It was nice to be able to clean out the car, have plenty of room to spread out and relax. I love that place!



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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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AHG at Great Wolf Lodge

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Oct 5, 2011 Under American Heritage Girls, Claire, Homeschool, Travel

Our American Heritage Girls troop went on Sunday and Monday to Great Wolf Lodge in Concord. This was our families fourth trip to this one. On the way down, I was thinking this may be our last trip but the experience changed my mind.

The problem was arranging a group visit. The way it was set up was not easy for our group to deal with. It took multiple phone calls over the last few months. I would not set up a group again and do not recommend it. The last three times we went was with Homeschool Days which was a better price and less hassle.

When we arrived, we got a free upgrade because of our previous stays. I let Claire pick the room and she picked the KidCabin. The cabin has a bunk bed  and a single bed. Then the room has a bed and a pull-out couch. The kids loved the room but Majestic Bear is may favorite.

The water park is clean and the lifeguards do an awesome job watching out for the kids. The kids had hours and hours of fun and I could relax in a chair. They also had hours of fun doing Magiquest.  All the parents sat in the lobby and socialized while the kids played the game for hours. I know it is an extra charge but for the hours of fun it is worth it.

Claire spent several hours in the Cub Club making crafts. She loves making the lotion and body gel. We also do the Wolf  Walk this time. It was cute but not something we would do every time but passed the time while waiting for the water park to open.

I promised Cobey he could pick the room the next time so I guess we will be watching for Homeschool Days.

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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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