Homeschooling and Entrepreneurship

Our son, Hayden, lacks one class for his Associates degree, but about a year and a half ago he decided to buy a computer repair business, putting his college education on hold. Not too long after he bought it, a local tv station invited him to appear for a short interview. It was a great opportunity that he didn’t want to pass up, but he began to worry that they would ask him about his education, or more pointedly whether he had a degree in computer science. When he first mentioned that to me, I, too, began to fret, but then it dawned on me that Hayden had been studying computer science his whole life.

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Starting Out

When he was just nine months old I began sitting at the computer with him several times a week. While using a product called JumpStart Baby, he could touch any of the keys on the keyboard to see what would happen on the screen. As he grew, we graduated to JumpStart Toddler, then JumpStart Preschool, and so on, with each level gradually teaching more. By the time Hayden’s sister came along, he was almost four years old and while I was busy with the baby, he was able to start the computer, boot up his software, type in his name and do everything on his own.

Self-Schooling

As Hayden grew up I felt like I saw an aptitude for technology, so I looked for opportunities to nurture it. Homeschooling and Entrepreneurship Hayden had a passion for Legos and played with them throughout his childhood. Somewhere along the way I learned of Lego Robotics groups, and wished there was one in our area that he could join. When he was about ten, I decided to splurge and buy him his own kit, thinking of it as an “educational expense.” That turned out to be a good investment. Hayden spent about an hour and a half just about every day for a year and a half, or so, designing robots and programming them on the computer. He followed his own interests and was totally self-taught.

Lego Robotics

When Hayden was about eleven, I learned that the high school computer science teacher sometimes held Lego Robotics camps. I contacted him and asked if he would consider having one the upcoming summer, and he did. The teacher’s own son, who was an incoming high school senior, assisted for the first few days. When the kids had designed their robot, he helped them program it on the computer. But when he was no longer able to be there Hayden took his place at the computer and helped the other kids. Each day when I returned to pick Hayden up, the teacher would ask me questions such as “How long have you homeschooled?” “Do you always plan to homeschool?” and “How old is he?!” At the end of the camp, Mr. O invited eleven-year-old Hayden to take his high school computer science class. He went so far as to walk me to the Principal’s office to talk to her about it. She wasn’t there, and talking with her confused secretary was amusing, but the result was that the district’s rules wouldn’t allow it since Hayden wasn’t an enrolled student. Alternatively, Mr. O gave Hayden private lessons, teaching him different computer languages and beginning animation. Not too long after that we moved to the Ozarks.

Hands-On Learning

During his teens, Hayden started tinkering with his own computers, taking them apart, fixing and upgrading them. When the opportunity arose to buy a computer-repair business, Hayden had been working there long enough to learn the ropes from the owner who was wanting to relocate. He was only twenty at the time, so it would be a big risk and responsibility for such a young man. My husband’s background was in finance. Having worked for Morgan Stanley (previously Dean Witter) for over twenty years, he was talking to an old friend about the opportunity. His response was that Hayden would learn more from the business than he would with a college degree. We agreed, and with Scott’s expertise in finance, and my experience in advertising and customer service, we felt like we still had things we could teach him and that the business would provide that avenue.

Facing Challenges

Hayden continues to learn through his business. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud of him. Last year he was contacted about installing a new technology. I was amazed at how confidently he committed to learning it, and negotiated his rates. We asked him if he had any previous experience with the technology, and he said no, but that he could read the manual and figure it out. And he did.

Walmart Locker on Mid-Life Blogger
Walmart Lockers, Austin, Tx. Photo credit: Teresa Bressi

It was for Walmart and they hired him to do work for them in five states, installing lockers for their Pickup service. He also maintains a contract to service all of the McDonald’s restaurants within a 50-mile radius, and is called when any of them have problems with their point-of-sale system.

Entrepreneurial Traits

Once, on a radio program, I listened to a speaker talking about homeschoolers. He said that, in general, they have high self-esteem and are independent learners, and that those traits are beneficial to entrepreneurship. That has certainly held true for Hayden. I don’t know what the future holds for Hayden and his business, but I know that the scope of things he is learning will be beneficial wherever life takes him.

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Related Reading

The Homeschool Entrepreneur Interview Feature With…a Homeschool Graduate Business Owner

Oriental Lilies

Oriental Lilies are blooming now and they’re amazing! I’m making a mental note to order more of them. A single flower can perfume an entire room, making it one of my favorites to bring inside, although their pollen can make a bit of a mess.

Stargazer Lily bouquet by Mid-Life Blogger
Stargazer Lily bouquet

The blooms are huge, about 6-7″ across, and their colors are intense and vibrant. They need full sun to thrive, and grow to be about 3′ tall. Their show starts when others have waned, in mid-summer. I love to order plants from catalogs, mainly because I truly enjoy looking at the beautiful photos, comparing descriptions, and sometimes getting ideas for companions. Doing that by the fire in the evenings is how I survive the bleak winter months. Breck’s is a company that I order from quite often and their products are good quality. If you don’t already have some of these lilies, you’re missing out!

"Dizzy" Oriental Lily by Mid-Life Blogger
“Dizzy” Oriental Lily
Stargazer Lilies
Stargazer Lilies

While researching to positively identify these lilies, I happened on the website for The Lily Garden which has a vast array of varieties.

Mystery yellow lily by Mid-Life Blogger
Mystery Yellow Lily

I wasn’t able to identify this yellow lily, and I don’t remember ordering it. It could have been a free gift, a mix-up, or my memory could be faulty. If you know what it is let me know. Do you have oriental lilies in your garden? What are your favorites?

Related Reading

What’s Blooming Today (June 21, 2016)

My Mini Garden Pond

Spiritual Corridor daylily

Coal Miner daylily

My Garden Style

I would describe my decorating style, both inside and out, as “Flea Market Chic.” I love things with character, patina, and a story. I admire the cleverness of repurposed items, and especially enjoy having things with extra meaning because they were made by a friend or loved one. I didn’t plan it, but my front yard has a kitchen theme. There’s an old colander planted with succulents, an old teapot made into a bird house, old silverware made into wind chimes, and an oversized coffee cup and saucer made into a bird feeder that was a gift from my sister. I guess those things just “speak” to me.

Birdfeeder Made from Cup and Saucer
Birdfeeder Made from Cup and Saucer
Birdhouse Made from Coffee Pot
Birdhouse Made from Coffee Pot
Silverware Windchimes
Silverware Windchimes
Hanging Collander Planter
Hanging Collander Planter

This barn-style bird house is special because it’s made from debris that was picked up after the Joplin tornado. I bought it from the couple that made it when I happened upon their garage sale. I wish I knew their names so I could give them credit for it. It’s a treasure.

Barn-style Birdhouse Made from Joplin Tornado Rubble
Barn-style Birdhouse Made from Joplin Tornado Rubble

I have more things I could share, but I think I’ll save them for a future post. If you like Flea-Market Style, too, then you might want to follow my “Repurposing” or  “Gardening” Boards on Pinterest.

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Boredom: Gateway to Creativity

“Mooooooommmmm, I’m booorrred!”
Believe it or not, I was happy to hear those words from my children. It wasn’t my responsibility to constantly entertain them, and when they got to the point that they were bored, that’s when their creativity took over, if I didn’t rush in to rescue them.

Learning Environment

When we made the decision to homeschool, one of the first things I did was to go through everything we had in the way of books, toys, games, etc, and cull anything that wasn’t educational or in keeping with our values. I was purposeful in what I provided them with because I wanted to make it so that no matter what they chose to do, it was beneficial. Even on weekends, days when I was sick, or just sick of homeschooling, I knew their free time would be productive and edifying.

Unstructured Time

Through homeschooling I’ve come to believe that unstructured time is important in childhood. It’s during this time that their imagination kicks in and they experiment with new ideas and discover new interests. If every minute is filled with school or extra-curricular activities, then they’re deprived of that opportunity.

Junk Playground

A few years ago I read an article called Is This the Perfect Playground, Full of Junk? about an exploratory playground in the UK that was filled with what most people would consider “junk.” Things like mattresses, tools, rope, wood, and old cars. The kids were free to build, demolish, and take risks, with only some basic guidance of a few adults. (Link to article below) While I’m not totally comfortable with all of the ideas, I do agree with the premise, and I wish I had read it when my kids were younger because I think I would have tried to give them even more basic playthings, as opposed to all of the colorful plastic toys.

Resourcefulness

When Hayden was about nine, we were remodeling a house and Hayden came to us with a light switch he had found and asked if he could have it. My husband and I looked at each other and shrugged an “I guess so,” and he happily ran back to his room. He soon emerged to show us what he had done with it. He had found some wires, a battery, and a small fan (from a computer, I think). He connected them together, flipped the switch, and the fan came on. I was amazed because I would have never thought to do something like that.

Boredom: Gateway to Creativity - Hayden's Homemade Car
Hayden’s Homemade Car

Years later at another house, we had inherited a workshop full of junk. One day he and a friend asked permission to use some of that stuff and they built a rudimentary car using old lumber, wheels, and other found materials.

In both of these examples, my son took things that I considered “junk,” and did something meaningful with them. Given the opportunity, what might your kids create?

Art & Animals

Our daughter was drawn to arts and crafts supplies and spent countless hours drawing, painting, or sculpting. She also loved animals and had a wide variety of pets and rescues. She was knowledgeable about animals at a young age because in trying to save a ‘possum, raccoon, squirrel or bird, she would research them on the Internet, pursuing her interest to a self-taught science lesson.

Feeding a baby 'possum by Mid-Life Blogger
Feeding a baby ‘possum
Forts and Paths

From my own childhood I remember using a card table and blankets to make forts or houses with my sister. We then used every book in the house to make paths. (I don’t remember ever putting those books back up, so sorry Mom!) I also liked playing in the dirt with Hotwheels cars, making roads, and using sticks for fences and buildings. Huge cardboard boxes were always fun to make things out of, too, such as a playhouse for my sister and I, or a kitten.

Revelations

Don’t be afraid for your children to become bored. Provide them with simple things and let their imaginations find creative uses for them. Allowing your kids to play with basic materials may not only be good for their imaginations, but your bank account as well. The resulting projects may also reveal new talents and interests.

Do you have similar observations from your own experience? I’d be interested to hear about them so please share them in the comments.

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Shared in Blessed Momdays Link Up Party.


Boredom: Gateway to Creativity
Boredom: Gateway to Creativity

BBQ Station in Cassville, MO – Worth the Drive

About eight years ago, my husband, Scott, came across a building for sale in Cassville, Missouri, that seemed like a good deal, so he bought it not knowing for sure what he would do with it.

Welcome to BBQ Station!
Welcome to BBQ Station!

At first, he considered opening a flea market, but ended up deciding to open a restaurant with his younger brother, Joel, and his wife, Tanya. While growing up in Bentonville, Arkansas, Scott’s parents, Gil and Sue Curren, had owned a restaurant called “Gil’s Burger Bar,” and Scott worked there during his teens, gaining a lot of experience.

The new restaurant became a family affair, beginning with the renovation of the building. Scott and Joel did some construction work to reconfigure the space, while other family members helped with stripping wallpaper and painting. Joel & Tanya, Scott, and Sue, experimented with recipes to develop the restaurant’s menu with a Texas barbecue theme. Almost everything they sell there is homemade, including their three proprietary barbecue sauces.

Owners of BBQ Station
Sydney, Tanya, and Joel Curren

When it came to decorating, we wanted you to have a lot to look at while wiping the delicious barbecue sauce off your chin, so we all contributed and many of the items in the restaurant have a story behind them. Most of the taxidermied mounts were a result of Scott’s hunting and fishing hobbies.

Texas License Plates by Mid-Life Blogger
“Pa’s” Old Texas License Plates

There are many old license plates in the restaurant, but two of them hold special meaning as they were the last plates on their grandfather’s truck. My sister-in-law, Tanya, is a talented painter and she hand-painted canvases as well as cowbells and cowboy boots. She also designed the restaurant’s logo. Uncle Don Curren is a woodworker and made some pig-shaped cutouts that Tanya painted to use as chalkboards.

Cowbells Painted by Tanya Curren
Cowbells Painted by Tanya Curren
Pig Painting by Tanya Curren on Mid-Life Blogger
Pig Painting by Tanya Curren

Joel used his carpentry skills to make the front counter, using wood that his father had saved from their church when it was remodeled. The weathered tin and reclaimed wood along the front came from an old lumber mill that was on his parents’ land in Missouri. Their father, Gil, made the paper towel holders for the tables. Pigs were part of the restaurant from the beginning, but loyal customers have contributed even more of them over the years. That’s just a sampling of some of the stories behind the decor.

Joel with Customers by Mid-Life Blogger
Joel with Customers at BBQ Station
Joel Carving Meat to Order at BBQ Station
Joel Carving Meat to Order

BBQ Station continues to be a family affair as many of our family members work there. Joel and Tanya own and manage it now, and their mother, Sue, has worked there from the beginning, contributing her own restaurateur experience.

Sydney Serves Sides with a Smile
Sydney Serves Sides with a Smile

Gil’s sister, Deanna Johnston, designed their website (link below). It has also had the benefit of giving all of our kids the opportunity to gain some work experience.

BBQ Station offers Barbecued Ribs, Pulled-Pork, Brisket, Chicken and Sausage. The meats are cooked the old-fashioned way, hand-rubbed and smoked more than fourteen hours over real hickory. One of my favorites, the St. Louis-cut ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, just the way I like ’em. Their unique “Baked Potato Salad” is a customer favorite, and other sides include cole slaw, green beans, cornbread, baked beans, pinto beans, and (chilled) potato salad. For dessert they have brownies, cobblers and ice cream.

Ribs Hot Off the Smoker at BBQ Station
Ribs Hot Off the Smoker at BBQ Station
BBQ Station Ribs by Mid-Life Blogger
Tender and Juicy BBQ Station Ribs

They also offer fresh salads with your choice of warm smoked chicken or pulled pork on top, and a wide variety of salad dressings.

BBQ Station Salad by Mid-Life Blogger
Fresh Salad With Smoked Chicken at BBQ Station

They have even named a few menu items after regular customers who originated them, such as the “Marple Bowl” or “The Huse” hamburger. Which reminds me, they also have amazing hamburgers! The burgers, famous from Gil’s Burger Bar days, have been reincarnated at BBQ Station. Want some heat? How about made-to-order BBQ Nachos with jalapeños?

BBQ Station Cheeseburger
BBQ Station Cheeseburger
BBQ Nachos at BBQ Station by Mid-Life Blogger
BBQ Nachos at BBQ Station, Cassville, MO

On a low-carb diet? No problem. You can have any of the meats with green beans and a side salad, or if you choose an entree salad topped with warm and tender smoked meat you won’t feel like you’re missing anything. I personally really enjoy the contrast of the warm smoked chicken on the cool, crisp greens. Very refreshing on a hot summer day! BBQ Station has even more to offer than I can list, with additional specials that vary throughout the week or season.  I truly believe there is something for everybody.

Memphis-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich and Baked Potato Salad
Memphis-Style Pulled Pork Sandwich and Baked Potato Salad
Blackberry Cobbler a la Mode
Blackberry Cobbler a la Mode

BBQ Station has excellent ratings on a variety of restaurant-rating services. People come from long distances to eat there and they get catering jobs from near and far. If you haven’t already visited then I encourage you to, but please note that they are closed on Sunday and Monday. I’m proud of the great job that Joel and Tanya have done in running BBQ Station and making it something we can all be proud of. Now that our daughter is working there, she reports multiple customers each day approaching Joel and Tanya to rave about the food, or inquire if Food Network has been there yet. It is definitely worth the drive!

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Helpful Links:
BBQ Station website
BBQ Station on Facebook
Trip Advisor review

BBQ Station - Cassville, MO
BBQ Station – Cassville, MO

Albert Brumley’s Memory Valley

I’m blessed to live in a naturally beautiful area of southwest Missouri, in a region known as the Ozarks. I love everything about it; the hills and valleys, the rocks, the trees, and the crystal-clear creeks. I find it very inspiring, and I’m not the only one. I want to share about someone whose accomplishments add extra appeal to this area for me, and that is Albert Brumley.

If you aren’t familiar with his name, then you might be familiar with some of the songs that he wrote, such as “Jesus Hold My Hand,” “Turn Your Radio On,” and the most famous of all, “I’ll Fly Away.” It was featured in the 2000 movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and earned a platinum record as a result.

"O Brother Where Art Thou?" Platinum Record by MId-Life Blogger
“O Brother Where Art Thou?” Platinum Record

“I’ll Fly Away” has been recorded thousands of times by musicians from a range of genres, such as Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch, Jars of Clay, Alan Jackson, Andy Griffith, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Kanye West, Michael W. Smith, and Randy Travis. Elvis Presley sang Brumley’s song, “If We Ever Meet Again,” at his mother’s funeral as it was her favorite song.

It’s easy for me to see how he was so inspired by this area. Albert wasn’t born here, but he came to Powell, Missouri, in the late 1920s to hold a singing school. It was then that he met and fell in love with Goldie Schell. They were married on the bank of Mike’s Creek and settled down in Powell to raise their family. “Memory Valley” became Albert’s nickname for the area.

Albert and Goldie Brumley on Mid-Life Blogger
Albert and Goldie Brumley, courtesy of Brumley Music Company
Brumley Home
Brumley Home

There on their homestead by the creek, Albert would grab whatever was handy when inspiration struck, whether it be a napkin, a brown paper sack, or the back of some wallpaper. At times, he even awoke in the middle of the night with ideas. Albert’s son, Bob, laughingly says that they are still finding scraps with his father’s scrawled notes. Even he has lost count of exactly how many songs his father wrote, but somewhere over 800.

Albert lived the remainder of his life in Powell and is buried in nearby Fox Cemetery.  In his honor, the highway that runs through Powell was named the “Albert Brumley Memorial Highway.”

Albert Brumley Memorial Highway sign from Mid-Life Blogger
Albert Brumley Memorial Highway sign

Brumley Music Company still has an office in Powell and is run by Albert’s son, Bob Brumley. Albert’s songs live on, and to honor his legacy a Brumley Gospel Sing is held annually in August.

It’s easy for me to see how Albert was so richly inspired here in his beloved Memory Valley. I feel close to God here in its natural beauty as I feel that he also must have been, as evidenced by his prolific writing of Southern Gospel music.  Heck, it makes me want to write, too.

Helpful Links:

Video of Bob Brumley talking about Brumley Gospel Sing

Brumley Music Company website

Albert Brumley’s songbooks are available at the Brumley Music Store.

 

Albert Brumley's Memory Valley
Albert Brumley’s Memory Valley

The Well Armed Woman

I had a scare recently. We live in the country and I’ve hardly ever felt frightened, but one night near 10 pm our dogs started barking and I heard the roar of a loud engine. I went out on the porch to see who it could possibly be that time of night. A truck came barreling down our lengthy driveway, all the way to the house. I don’t know if the dogs scared them, or if they saw me on the porch, but they turned around quickly and raced back down the driveway. It was so dark that I couldn’t make out very much in the way of details, only that it was a loud, full-sized pick-up that I didn’t recognize. Thinking that they were up to no good, I made sure all of our doors were locked, turned on a few more lights (the house was already pretty well lit up) and called the sheriff.

Women Teaching Women

For Christmas a few years ago, my husband gave me a semi-automatic pistol because he wanted me to have some protection, but that gun sat wrapped in plastic for about a year and a half because I was afraid of it and didn’t really know what to do with it. A friend of mine shared something on Facebook about The Well Armed Woman, a group especially for women where, with the help of female instructors, they could learn to safely handle a variety of weapons to protect themselves. That was what I needed to finally decide it was time to learn how to use my gun and I started attending the nearest group which was an hour away. They have monthly two-hour meetings. The first hour has a lesson, guest speaker, or activity, and the second hour is in the gun range with hands-on training.

I’ve been attending Well Armed Woman meetings for about nine months now, and I was really glad I had taken that step the other night when I was home alone. For the first time, I loaded a magazine and put it, along with my gun, next to my chair. Although the sheriff’s office was sending a deputy, and my husband was on his way home, had they meant to do harm I was prepared to defend myself. Of course, I hoped I would not need to, but knowing how to use my gun and that I was actually a pretty good shot, was really empowering. On this occasion, I really didn’t feel like they would be back, but if I had, I had neighbors and a brother-in-law that I could have called. I wanted to share this because I have met other women who are interested in learning to use firearms but hadn’t heard of The Well-Armed Woman. You never know when you may need to defend yourself or those you love.

To learn more, please visit The Well Armed Woman website.

Well Armed Woman