Tag Archives: outing

Darling Darlington


Just minutes from our home sits the small town of Darlington, population 249. Darlington is one of those one-horse towns that are frequently driven through but rarely visited. Currently Darlington is home to two gas stations, a convenience store, our mechanic and veterinarian, a handful of churches, and a whole lot of history!

Located within the town limits, multiple historic buildings can be found that have been converted into a place of historic preservation. Over the last decade I have passed these charming old buildings hundreds of times, but had never stopped in for a visit. It hasn’t been for lack of desire, however. The history-lover in me has been itching to explore the treasures hidden behind those 200 year old walls and learn a bit more about the local history of the area we call home.

Miss Corrina, a fellow mom in our co-op, was next in line to plan our co-op activities for the month of March. The first outing she planned finally gave me the excuse I needed to do a little local exploration, when she booked a tour with Darlington’s local historical Society. As part of our tour we were led through three different historical buildings in the town.

Because of the large size of our group we were split into two smaller groups, with Molly joining her friends in group A, while the rest of the McCleery clan stayed together in group B. Our first stop on our tour of historic Darlington was to the Greersburg Academy.

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“The Greersburg Academy, a two story stone structure, was established in 1802 by Rev. Thomas E, Hughes.

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In its earliest history it was a prep school for men entering the ministry and later became a classical academy. It is Beaver County’s earliest educational institution, and is the oldest standing public building in the county. Those who attended include William McGuffey and John Brown.

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In 1882 it was transformed into a passenger/freight train station, and is the oldest standing railroad station in the nation.

Today, the first floor contains the Meeting Room, Greersburg/Train Room and the Research Room. One of the main displays on this floor presents the history of the Underground Railroad of which Darlington was a central hub.”

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Next we walked over to the Little Beaver Museum, where we continued gaining an education on the history of the area.

“The Little Beaver Museum, a two story brick structure, was built to carry on the tradition of the Greersburg Academy.

The building was erected in 1883 after the Academy closed. It later became a two-year high school, graduating its first class in 1910.

The building and grounds of the Little Beaver Museum were deeded to the Society in 1964. Today it houses two floors of artifacts and displays.”

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Our final stop on the tour was also the last addition to the Little Beaver Complex…

The log cabin.

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“This historic cabin originally came from Fredrickstown, Ohio. In 2009 it was donated and moved to Darlington. It features a beautiful working stone fireplace and chimney.

The cabin houses a number of traditional artifacts and is used to display and demonstrate traditional cloth arts like wool dying and spinning.”

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It was a wonderful outing.

Who knew so much history played out in our own back yard!

Fun with Science!


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On Thursday we headed into Pittsburgh for our first school outing since returning from vacation. This trip was organized by 21st Century Cyber Charter School, which is Rusty, Molly and Ozzie’s cyber school.

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We were excited that a break in Gracie’s crazy schedule allowed her to come play with us for the day. After bidding Toby “goodbye” and dropping Brandon off at the bus stop, we ventured south to play for the day.

In addition to meeting up with some of the teachers from 21st Century Cyber Charter School, we were also joined by 75 other students & families. It was the biggest turnout we had ever seen for a local outing with 21cccs. Among the numbers were quite a few familiar faces, and it was fun to catch up with friends after being away for the last month.

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The first half of the outing was spent in the science center where the kids explored the various exhibits and enjoyed the hands-on learning available over the four floors of fun.

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Some of the favorite exhibits include H2O!:

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“Our bodies are marvelous machines! BodyWorks uses brand-new interactive exhibits, live shows, and demonstrations to explore the blood, guts, bones, brains, senses, and mechanics that make us  us!

The exhibit explores our Muscles and Bones, Heart and Lungs, Digestive System, Brain and Nerves, and Body Basics.

Learn about the fluids that fill your body, the limits of the human form, and what parts of you can be replaced.

Come pump a heart, stretch your intestines, fool your senses, make your skeleton dance, see actual preserved human organs, and more!”

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Welcome to roboworld®, the world’s largest permanent robotics exhibition! Learn how ‘bots sense, think, and act and explore dozens of interactive exhibit stations in this one-of-a-kind robotics experience. It’s the ultimate robot gathering, right here in Pittsburgh! Are you ready to go robotic?

At roboworld®, explore hands-on robotics exhibits – and even challenge a robot to a game of air hockey! Roboworld highlights the amazing technology that enables robots to sense, think, and act.

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And the Miniature Railroad & Village exhibit which highlights landmarks around the Pittsburgh area:

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“Take a walking tour of western Pennsylvania at the world-renowned Miniature Railroad & Village®.

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This beloved exhibit’s story began in 1919 with a man named Charles Bowdish of Brookville, Pa. Originally a holiday display on the second floor of his house, it moved to the Buhl Planetarium in 1954, and ultimately found its final home at Carnegie Science Center in 1992.

The Miniature Railroad & Village® features hundreds of wonderfully realistic animated scenes that illustrate how people lived, worked, and played in our region during an era spanning the 1880s to the late 1930s.

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More favorites include the Primanti Bros. restaurant in the Strip District, Westinghouse Atom Smasher, Crawford Grill, Fallingwater, Forbes Field, Punxsutawney Phil at Gobbler’s Knob, Luna Park, Sharon Steel Mill, Manchester Farms, and a historic Pittsburgh incline, to name a few.

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Mr. Roger’s house. The only building in the miniature village that isn’t a real place. Can you spot Mr. Rodgers and Mr. McFeely?

The Miniature Railroad & Village® features: 105 animations, 250,000+trees, 14 aircraft, 85 automobiles, 1 Incline (Monongahela Incline), 60 trucks, 22 horse-drawn vehicles, 23,000 fans in Forbes Field”

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At noon we all gathered in the lunchroom to eat our packed lunches before heading over to Sportsworks, the second building included with our cost of admission, where the kids enjoyed more hands-on fun.

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This building’s exhibits focus more on the human body, heath, and fitness, with various challenges that allow guests to put the marvels of the human body to the test.

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Among the challenges were a race track, climbing wall,

And the most recent addition: a ropes course that sits high above the other activities below.

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“Learn about the science behind the climb, such as center of mass and inertia, as well as the physiology of fear and thrills and perception.

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Located in the middle of SportsWorks, the Ropes Challenge consists of 11 elements, such as walking a rope bridge, balancing on rolling logs, and climbing across a horizontal net, before reaching the zipline.”

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This exhibit was added since our last visit, and as a result was the first thing the kids go in line to try.

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High above my head they climbed, balanced and zipped through the course, enjoying the novelty of perceived danger without actually being in danger of falling to their deaths.

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As I stood below, capturing their adventure on film, I wasn’t sure if the strangled screams were expressions of delight or terror.

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In the end the consensus was that the new ropes course was a fun addition to the science center.

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It was a fun day with a fun group of friends.

A Snowy Day for Snow White


Between outings planned by our co-op group, 21st Century Cyber Charter School and PA Cyber, we have many opportunities to get out of the house and experience some hands-on learning through educational outings. These outings are always a highlight of our week and the “icing” to the cyber school experience.

On Thursday we put on our fancy pants and headed north for a more cultured outing. We were signed up to join 21st Century Cyber Charter School for a outing to the Erie Playhouse to watch
“Snow White and the Prince.”

Our sojourn north began with a quick stop in New Castle to pick up Tatum. From there we headed north to Erie where we were meeting up with teachers from our cyber school and other 21st Century families.

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It was a VERY snowy day to go and see “Snow White.” The flakes came down heavy around New Castle, but surprisingly lightened as we drove north.


We met at the Avalon Hotel at 9:15.

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We were pleasantly surprised to see quite a few familiar faces. It was fun to connect with friends, new and old!

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At 9:30 we walked across the street to the Erie Playhouse to watch a youth theater production of “Snow White and the Prince.”

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We got settled in our seats and waited for the show to begin. We were the first group to arrive and be seated, but soon the quiet of the theater was interrupted by cacophonous chatter as hundreds of kindergarteners arrived and were directed to their seats.

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That troop of 5-year-olds proved to be one of the most entertaining aspects of the show.  Behind us sat a group of little girls. It was so much fun to listen to their chatter and enthusiastic responses to the story playing out on stage.

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There were “Oohs and Ahhs” every time anyone stepped on stage wearing a crown or gown.

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There were shouts of warning as Snow White debated whether to taste the apple.

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“No, don’t eat it! It’s poisonous!” they shouted behind us.

The play itself was cute, but the running commentary behind us made it a fantastic play!

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After the curtains closed for the final time we crossed the street, back to the Avalon Hotel, where the students split up into groups to work on a literary assignment for extra credit:

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While working and socializing with friends, everyone ate their packed lunches.

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The outing ended with the students making use of the open dance floor in the center of the ballroom we were using for our lunch room for an impromptu dance party.

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Playing music off a cell phone, Molly and Tatum taught the group the steps to Church Clap. There was much laughter and glee as the kids got their moves on and burned off excess energy before the two hour drive home.

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It was a fun way to spend a snowy day!



Raise the Jolly Rancher!


On Wednesday we had the opportunity to join all the youth from church, ages 8-18, for “dollar days” at PNC Park. It was a perfect evening for a baseball game and the weather was ideal. Everyone was excited to go, even my non-sports-loving kids, who just enjoyed the atmosphere of the Pirate’s game. We drove down to Pittsburgh, parked at a local garage, and joined the rest of our group outside the ballpark. As we approached the signs for the park and the Pirate flags waving, Ozzie shouted, “Raise the Jolly Rancher!”

I think he meant “Jolly Roger.” 🙂


Before the game Ozzie asked if we could stay for the entire thing. He told me that he had never seen the end of a baseball game before because he always had to leave early to beat traffic. I promised him we would stay until the end. Little did I know this game would end up being the longest game  in Pirate’s history and would end up lasting almost six hours. Needless to say I broke his heart and my promise.


Even with the large amount of tickets that were ordered for the group we were still  a few short so the  boys (Toby, Ozzie and Tyler) were able to join a friend in his company’s private box to watch the game instead of sitting with the group. It was a special treat for the two little boys who had never watched a game from anywhere but the “cheap seats” before. 🙂

Box seats at PNC park.

Box seats at PNC park.


The girls and Rusty joined me and the rest of the youth in a different part of the ballpark to watch the Pirates play the Cubs. We took advantage of the “dollar days” hotdogs and all enjoyed a ballpark frank… yum!


The girls enjoying the game.

The girls enjoying the game.

It was a great game complete with hotdog tosses, the wave, seventh inning stretch, pierogi races and a streaker. I don’t think the streaker was a planned part of the entertainment but he definitely added to the excitement of the evening. It happened during the pierogi race, a beloved Pirate game tradition, in which potato stuffed pasta mascots race around the perimeter of the ball field while everyone cheers. While the pierogi mascots  were racing a spectator joined in the fun by leaping over the outer wall, running across the ball field, leaving a trail of clothes in his wake, while security guards tried to apprehend him. He made it to the other side with only shorts still on where he was caught by security.

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Pierogi races

The streaker :)

The streaker 🙂

The stadium was packed and the energy was high as we went into the 9th inning. At the end of the 9th we were tied so we stayed even longer. Then it went into the 10th inning. We finally left at 11:00pm at the end of  11th inning. Ozzie was, of course, devastated.

“I’ll never see the end of a baseball game,” he lamented as we were walking out.

It wasn’t until the following day when I found out that the game went 16 innings that I felt good about our decision to leave early. In the end it all worked out… the Pirates won, we had a wonderful evening with friends, and we certainly got our dollar’s worth of entertainment…

what with $1.00 hotdogs, 11 innings of fun and a streaker to boot. What a night!

Beautiful PNC Park!

Beautiful PNC Park!