Sunday, November 9

"Unschooling" in the Texas Hill Country!

I am homeschooling Duke (9) and Imp (7). I guess you could call me an eclectic homeschooler. We do some curriculum (Math Mammoth and IEW right now), but most of our learning comes from books, internet/videos, and doing stuff.

One of the main reasons I homeschool is that my husband works Saturdays and takes Sunday and Monday as his weekend.  If the boys were in school they would only have one day a week to spend with their father.  One of the perks of having Sunday/Monday weekends is that we can take mini-trips around Texas on off times while hotel rooms are cheap.

And sometimes during his slow time (like last month) we can convince him to take Saturday night -Tuesday off and we get a real holiday, like our trip to Fredericksburg last month.  These trips aren't just a vacation, they are amazing learning opportunities for our family.  This is unschooling at its best!

We left Saturday night and stayed in Austin so we could visit Hamiliton Pool Preserve early Sunday morning, before the crowds.  The leaves had just started changing and it was perfect weather.  

This photo cracks me up because they look almost 3-D .

This was the boys first trip to Hamilton Pool and they loved it.  This park is gorgeous but pretty small so you can see everything in just a few hours.

Hill-country paradise.

We decided to go back to the parking lot rather than visit the "Poo Trail".  Yes, some joker painted over the "L" in "Pool".  And no, it was not my husband.  ;-)

Then off to Fredericksburg!

We visited Becker Winery and I had a nice big glass of wine.  In retrospect this was not such a good idea since the boys and I decided to go to the monster corn maze down the road next.  I was a bit tipsy (glass of wine on empty stomach) and this maze was GIANT!  My husband decided to skip it to save $7…

I let the boys lead and told them to watch out for the "Children of the Corn".  They didn't get my Stephen King reference.  After about thirty minutes I realized that we were hopelessly lost and the sun was setting and no one else was out there with us.  It was spooky.

I sent a few frantic texts to my husband.  He didn't seem very concerned as he was listening to airplane flight paths over Fredericksburg on his phone.  My knight-in-shining-armor fantasies were dashed.

Finally, after what seemed like hours we were out!  Unfortunately we exited the entrance and my older son (who is very particular about things) insisted we had to go back in and "do it properly".  There was no way in Hades I was going back there without anyone who had any sense of direction, so I went and grabbed my husband and insisted he hand over the $7 and help us defeat the corn.  Luckily they were about to close and let him in for free.  I would need that $7 to buy myself another glass of wine after all of this stress.

Within five minutes (I wish I were exaggerating) we had completed the maze.  Insert anything you want here about a woman and her sense of direction and getting lost…  Dear Husband and older son, please knock that smug smile off your face buster.

Next stop, the Admiral Nimitz and Pacific War Museum.  Our family loves history, especially WW2.  My German grandfather fought on the German side in WW2 as a tank commander, and my husband's father fought on the American side and flew around in a C-47.  The boys are interested in all things military and they were finally old enough to enjoy this museum.

This is the area where they have Pacific War re-enactments several times a year with pyrotechnics and real marines.  We plan on going to one of these so my kids can get an idea of the horrors of war.  They provide ear plugs with your ticket, so you know it is going to be good.

I forgot what this was (torpedo, right?) and the boys are downstairs playing with their niece so I can't ask my expert Duke (I call him Hal from "2001").  He has a little encyclopedia brain for things he finds interesting.  But he forgets to brush his teeth and feed the dog has has been know to wear the same underwear for almost a week...

It is finally Monday and time for some hiking!  We never miss Enchanted Rock State Park on our Fredericksburg trips.  The boys start with energy to spare.

Believe it or not, this was not posed.  My husband and Duke were just enjoying the gorgeous view.  That sky!

An hour later, Duke is getting worn out and waiting for us to catch up.  Imp is still full-speed ahead.  Last spring we hiked 6.5 miles at Palo Duro canyon (2nd biggest canyon in the US, and it is in Texas!) and Imp was skipping the last quarter mile.  I guess our mostly high fat/low carb diet provides plenty of Imp-Energy.

We made it to Echo Canyon and we took a snack break in the shade.

Imp mentioned there were a lot of butterflies flying around, and we looked up into the trees and they were everywhere!  We approached one tree and scared the butterflies and were surrounded by a cloud of dancing colors.  It was incredible and one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

The cactus were blooming.

The afternoon light was stunning and I kept on falling behind because I had to keep trying to capture it "in camera".  I love back-lit wild grasses.  The rest of my family, not so much.

I spent most of the hike trying to catch up with the guys.  They did not share my artistic sensibilities.  

Oh, more flowers, more stunning light, more bokeh!  I was in heaven.  You can see Duke (the slow one normally) in the upper right corner leaving me behind.

No trip to this part of Texas is complete without visiting Pedernales State Park.  We stopped here for a few hours on our way home on Tuesday.  Texas is still under a drought and the water is really low but it is still beautiful.

My guys.  -Swoon-

I love blue skies with fluffy clouds.

Finally our trip was over and we were on our way home. I was exhausted.  My husband was exhausted.  Duke was exhausted.

And we finally wore Imp out.  He slept for two straight hours in the car.

Vacation Unschooling ROCKS!

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  1. Looks like your little adventure was worth a lot more than what one could get sitting in a classroom. What beautiful places! You have such a cute family!
    I wanted to tell you, on those cacti, the red part is it's fruit. You could, if you were allowed and wanted to, pick them, clean and cook them down, run through a sieve, then, incorporate the syrup into a treat, such as tarts, the topping on cheesecake, etc. It has a unique taste, but, they are delicious!
    I love what you are doing with the boys! I wish I had been able to home school my three.
    Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this adventure. You packed a weeks worth of activities in a weekend. I can't wait till my next trip to Texas to go visit some of these sites. It looked so much fun. Thanks!


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