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We wrap this season of Your Morning Basket up with an interview with Cindy Rollins. Cindy has experienced the joy of Morning Time with all of her now grown children. In this interview, we talk a little bit about Morning Time, a little bit about Mere Motherhood, and a little bit about real family life.

Cindy is no stranger to the messiness of homeschooling, and she shares some of what she has learned in a way that is both humble and encouraging for other moms to hear.

We delve into using your philosophy of education as a tool, the importance of appropriate education in the little years, and how a remembrance of the past is quite possibly the most important thing for your Morning Time.

If you need an encouraging look into what it looks like to be towards the end of the long haul of homeschooling or a refocusing on what is truly important in your family life, grab a hot beverage, breath deep and listen. Cindy’s warmth and frankness are sure to bless you.

Links and resources from today’s show:

Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, and My Journey Toward SanctificationPinMere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, and My Journey Toward SanctificationA Handbook to Morning TimePinA Handbook to Morning TimeBeauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of EducationPinBeauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education


Pam: This is Your Morning Basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness and beauty to your homeschool day. Hi everyone, and welcome to episode 27 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. Well, I am super excited because I got to talk to one of my very favorite mentors on today’s show. Cindy Rollins from Your Morning Basket episode 1 is back with us to talk all about her book Mere Motherhood. I got to read this book this fall and it was such a blessing to me. So Cindy’s on the show today to talk about that – we dig pretty deeply into that book and then we also touched just a little bit on Cindy’s brand new Morning Time handbook which is coming out this month. It was a fun conversation. I think you are really going to enjoy it. So on with the podcast.

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Pam: Cindy Rollins has been equipping families to do Morning Time for years through blog posts, interviews, and conference presentations. She is the co-host of the Mason Jar podcast from the Circe Institute, where she explores the ideas of a Charlotte Mason education. Cindy is a veteran homeschool mom to nine (mostly grown) children and in her new book Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, and My Journey Towards Sanctification, she chronicles her own experiences as she grew in her understanding of both motherhood and what educations really is. She joins us on this episode of the podcast to share a little more about her book. Cindy, welcome to the show.
Cindy: Well thank you for having me, I am excited to be here.
Pam: I am always excited to get a chance to chat with you, so I’m just really happy you are here.
Cindy: Me too.
Pam: Let’s talk a little bit about the message of your book. Why is it a message that today’s homeschooling moms need to hear?
Cindy: That’s a really good question I am not prepared for, but I will just answeroff the top of my head. I think there was a homeschooling movement (I guess if you want to call it a movement) that has grown and changed and morphed over the years, but some of us have been through some of the ups and downs, I would say, of the whole movement, and I guess the book is my perspective on living through some of the good things and some of the bad things from really the whole history of modern day homeschooling. So I think the book offers new moms the perspective that, “Oh here’s the things that really did matter,” amongst the whole mess of things that didn’t matter. And here’s the things I kind of regret you know, in case you are tempted to try those things.
Pam: Right. I think it is so hard because even where I am not just a few years down the road, and I am looking back on preschool and everything I did wrong. But nobody could have ever told me then and convinced me, even though people tried. And so, I think it is important for us to repeat those messages, like you’re saying here, to give that advice over and over again, because I think we just have to keep, or you, people like you, not me, just have to keep saying that over and over again so maybe a little bit of it can get in there and take seed.
Cindy: Well I find myself in conversations with moms all the time and I have said this before, so people who have heard me have probably heard me say this but, they will ask me a question and I will be going full speed ahead and maybe they will ask me about Latin or Reading or when to teach this or that, and then I will stop and say, “Now, how old are your children?” and they will say, “5 or 4 or 3,” and then I will be like, “Oh wait, none of that applies. None of what I just said applies to that age. Just go have fun. Read a book and enjoy yourself and just have a jolly time with those little guys.”
Pam: I think that is an important message to keep repeating. Well, tell me about the title of the book.
Cindy: The title was stressful. I had had an old blogpost that I had titled “Mere Motherhood,” and it was when I talked about being an older mother and how it feels being around younger mothers at church. And I had titled it Mere Motherhood for some reason and it always stuck, so when I went to put Scribner file where I was writing the book, I used that as a title for the book and as we went along, David Kern and I, we started wrestling with what are we really going to title this book? And we went on and on and on looking for a title. I think at one point we had talked about doing The Long Haul, which when I took that, because I speak about that a lot, how our rewards are in the future, we have a long haul ahead of us. But when I took that to some young moms that I knew, they were all, “That just sounds terrible.” It kind of put a negative spin on the book. In the end, we were a little worried that it would be a little uppity, like I think I’m the next C.S. Lewis or something. So that was our main worry about the title, but we thought everybody could handle that and really, who would think that I would think I’m going to be the next C.S. Lewis. So we pretty much were able to shelf that negative and we just kept the title from not being able to come up with something better.
Pam: But it is great.
Cindy: In the end I really liked it. In the end I thought, ‘Well, we have not come up with a better title than that.’
Pam: I love it. I really do. Because you touch on so much of the importance of what we do as mothers and yet it is such a humble position that we have. You know?
Cindy: We really are in a humble position, because I think one of the things as mothers, we are put in a position of authority an control and yet, the rest of our time as mothers we’re learning how little we do control. So it is a very precarious situation.
Pam: Very much so. Well, I am going to say that one of my favorite parts – I am just going to jump into some deep stuff here – one of my favorite parts of the book is where you talk about, you say, “I didn’t start homeschooling out of fear and I’m happy about that now because fear does damage wherever it appears.” And you said, “Later I would fill my mind with fearful thoughts about the culture, I would listen fear mongers and gurus I would make bad decisions about parenting and homeschooling because of fear. But I can truthfully say that my original plan for homeschooling came entirely from a sense of excitement and joy. Knowing I could give my children what I had missed.” All over the country right now, there are mothers everywhere going, “Oh crap, I’ve been homeschooling out of fear.” So what can we say? What can you say to those mothers to help them turn that “Oh crap I’ve been homeschooling out of fear” to like homeschooling from a place of joy and excitement.?
Cindy: I was thinking about this today because I had actually reread that passage today when I was going over some things, and one of the things I thought is it particularly pertinent to Christianity because if we are afraid that our children are not going to be Christians and we’re wringing our hands and we’re worrying, and in the same way we’re afraid they’re not going to be educated, we’re really giving them the message that our faith isn’t very strong. That what we are placing our faith in isn’t big enough and it’s causing us a lot of fear and worry. That’s one reason that I think Charlotte Mason was so good about talking about giving our children the basics of Christianity and some of our distinctives but not pounding it into them so that it is almost like we are afraid that it doesn’t work so we are just going to over-teach it. And I think that applies to both our Christianity and our educational methods. If we trust that what we’re teaching is right, then we need to step back, stop over-teaching and trust the process a little more.
Pam: Right, because you were giving examples of the lists your kids work from, and what really struck me about these lists, is that it was morning time obviously, and then a few basic things and then two hours of reading in the afternoon.
Cindy: Yeah, I used reading to cover a lot. Morning time covered a lot of those things that for years were frustrating me. So, like music and art when into Morning Time. But then reading was on the other end of the spectrum of our school day, whatever else I wasn’t covering was going into the reading lists. I put a lot of time in figuring out what the kids’ reading lists were going to be. I used that to cover a multitude of sins. Two to three hours of reading a day really did cover and make up for a lot that I wasn’t able to do as a mother juggling, at one point, seven students. The reading list was extremely important at that point.
Pam: Right.
And so, that was really you having faith in what you had chosen to do. The educational method that you had chosen.
Cindy: Right. I didn’t always have great faith. I worried just like all mom’s worry. But I did have faith in reading that I had so much good input from people and programs that were promoting reading, that when I really couldn’t keep up, we always had the reading list.
Pam: You said in the book that you thought it was important to have an educational philosophy. And sometimes I think as I look across different homeschooling sites these days and looking at different things that are going on in the homeschooling world, there’s almost a backing off of that, like, “Oh, you need to do what works for your family and not be a slave to a philosophy” and you’re kind of saying, “Wait a second, let’s do the philosophy. Let’s have this and understand the philosophy and use the philosophy as a tool.” So, you want to speak to that for a few minutes, why you think it’s important?
Cindy: I do think it’s important. Because just like you said, there are so many winds and waves of doctrine of how to homeschool out there, if you are not grounded in your own philosophy, you will be whipped around wildly in the hurricane of thoughts and ideas. If you can nail down what you believe about education, and then work that through your school planning and the way you go about your school, you’re going to be much safer and much less confused all the time if you’ve gotten that philosophy nailed down first. Almost any real education, anything true about education, is always going to start with philosophy. Of course, you want to do what’s right for your family, but how do you know what that is if you don’t know what your philosophy of education is.
Pam: I love that. You describe your own experience of having your imagination stirred and finally waking up to truth, beauty, and goodness as a young adult and you mention a number of times in the book how you felt your own education growing up was lacking. I know a lot of moms are out there and they are faced with these kids who they are waiting for them to stir and wake up. How can we walk a line between diligently offering truth, beauty, and goodness through practices like Morning Time and then being patient and waiting for our kids to stir and wake up and maybe not be quite so resistant?
Cindy: It is a long game for some kids. Especially when you take a child out of maybe a public school situation or let’s say a traditional school situation and you bring them home and you start reading all these wonderful, wonderful books to them and maybe you’re excited because those books are hitting you right where you want to be and right where you are as a thinking person, but your kids are just sitting there like lumps on a log and they’re not responding. I would say that’s another area where we have to have faith. We want to keep the lessons short. We might want to do more with kids like that. In other words, more with them, but we’re going to do shorter lessons. So, we might read five books instead of two books to a child who is not awake yet, because we’re going to have to cut our reading short before the child loses interest or gets bored. And that’ll happen a lot more with kids who are just coming out of a situation where they haven’t been listening, they haven’t been processing, and they haven’t been thinking. And that is exactly what is happening to the kids in our school systems. They are systematically trained not to think for themselves. So, it’s a long process redoing that for them. But it does happen. I have seen it happen over and over again, even working with kids who are not in my own family. The first day you work with them you just think, ‘Oh they are not getting this. This isn’t going to work.’ But you just plow through and you shorten up the readings, you add a few more books but you shorten them up, and by the end of the school year you are going to be amazed by how the child has responded to these things. So, it is once again, we are talking about trusting the system, trusting that this is going to work, that this truly is what is good for the child. And some children are late bloomers. They are going to take a while to wake up. And sometimes we don’t always succeed at seeing them wake up when they’ree in home, but later, now looking at my adult children, I can see kids that I really struggled with when they were at home, but I gave them the books and we were doing the reading and maybe they even said, “Id don’t like reading. I am not a reader.” But later you see the fruit of that and they do become readers and they do blossom. And when they blossom, they have this treasury of ideas to pull from that they wouldn’t have had if they had been in a stifling situation where they hadn’t been filling their minds with these good and beautiful thoughts.
Pam: And so, when you are talking about bringing these kids to life, either kids who have been in some kind of formal school setting where they have been fed these facts and not really got to feast on any of the ideas, or even maybe we are moving from a different method of homeschooling. You kind of jokingly talk about the year that you did the workbooks and had everybody go through workbooks. So maybe there is a family out there that has been doing workbooks for a few years, and they are coming around to this idea of doing things differently. You are really talkingabout simply reading to these children and then doing narrations with these children. That is mostly what the process is right there, right?
Cindy: Exactly. That is the process. That trains their minds for so many things in the future. That is the very first thing that we want them to take out of their education ultimately at the end is that when they hear something they are able to think and process through that. That is why we go about this education the way we go about it. Yes, we want them to remember the knowledge in the books, which they will eventually do that, but we also want them to train their minds to be able to handle information and to be able to think for themselves and like Charlotte Mason says, “To accept or reject initial ideas,” which I forget which ancient philosopher that comes from. I am thinking Aristotle, but I might be wrong about that.
Pam: Yeah, I don’t know, so we’ll just go with him.
Cindy: Okay.
Pam: Let’s talk a little bit more about this idea of getting things into their minds, because you reference Stratford Caldecott’s book Beauty in the Word and I love that book and he describes the grammar stage of the Trivium as remembering. So, can you talk a little bit about that idea that Morning Time is about remembering? You have already hit on that a little bit, but can you expand on it a little more?
Cindy: When I read that, it was such a richer fuller way of looking at what in Classical Education they were calling the Grammar stage and most people were interpreting that because of Dorothy Sayers’ essay and because of the way her essay had been interpreted by many people, most people were saying this is the grammar stage, our children are small, let’s just cram in the facts during this stage. Whole homeschool programs have been built up around this idea that we are just going to smash everything into their heads during this grammar stage. And then Stratford Caldecott come along and said, “No, the grammar stage is really the stage of remembrance. Not memory, but remembrance.” Now memory is a part of remembrance and that is why Morning Time is so perfect, because in Morning Time you can concentrate on facts. At some point in Morning Time you can learn the planets or do your math facts if you want to during that time, but really it’s set up so that things that you are remembering are remembrances of things past. And that ‘s stories, poems, nursery rhymes. And when we read those things, even if you read nursery rhymes, you are getting a piece of culture from the past and it is going into your mind and you are holding on to it and you have a deep and wide picture of that culture just from that nursery rhyme that you wouldn’t have any other way. And you aren’t going to come away from memorizing the planets with anything but the names of the planets. So, to get away from Grammar as memorization and look at memorization as the tool of remembrance just to me turns the whole thing around and makes Morning Time the perfect time. Now remembrance to me, I like to think of it like a tether. We are here in the middle as parents. We come from the culture that our parents gave us and we are a little bit in a different place and our parents have given us a tether of remembrance and we’re passing that tether of remembrance on to our own children. So, anything we can do to tether the remembrance to the past is going to be carried into the future by our children. So, that is why Morning Time, I feel, is so deeply important to the culture, because it does give us a chance to step away from the curriculum and say, “What really is important? What am I really trying to pass along here?”
Pam: I’m just going to restate that. The thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind since you’ve been talking. So when we are talking about remembrance, we are not talking about the child remembering what they learned the day before, but we are talking about the remembrance of an entire culture. We are talking about remembering the beginnings of learning what you need to learn to be part of that Great Conversation later.
Cindy: That’s right. Remembrance is much deeper than just memory, and that’s the key right there. Yes, we want to have a memory of yesterday, but really, we want to have remembrance of all that went before, we want to carry with us into the future the cultural heritage of our families, of our Western culture, of whatever has come from the past that is good that we can carry with us into the future. Because if we don’t do that, if we don’t have that larger remembrance, then it’s like that tether is cut and our children are left to drift aimlessly. And, honestly, I see that now happening to children. I see them separated from the past, isolated even from their own immediate families when you have this breakdown of the family.But even in families that are still together, there is that generation gap. But these children are left without any remembrance of the past. They only know the Here-and-Now and the Here-and-Now is very short lived. You know Facebook is passé to our children. I was going to say they are already on to Snapchat, but that is probably already on its way out, and it is something new. These kids are living in a very swift current, let’s put it that way, and we want to make sure that they’ve been handed something solid from the past.
Pam: One of the things I like to talk about with Morning Time is that you’re building a shared family culture. So, everybody is getting that remembrance together and then they’re able to talk about it with one another as well. You have the same memories, so that is a much smaller part of what you’re talking about, but at least you have got other people who know what you are talking about.
Cindy: Absolutely! I think that is a huge part of it. I think that is extremely right up there as one of the top reasons to do Morning Time, the shared family culture.
Pam: I love this idea of remembrance, and I am going to have to ponder on this and think about this because I come from a liturgical tradition where remembrance is Christ says, “Do this in remembrance of me,” and we interpret as, “We are going to repeat this over and over again. We are going to repeat this act over and over again.” And so, that is just going to take some contemplation and some pondering to think about maybe where even the repetition of the act of doing this over and over again fits into the whole idea of remembrance in Morning Time.
Cindy: I talk about that in the book. Morning Time is a liturgy. And that is where the power lies in it. Every day you get up and you have Morning Time and you created a family liturgy and the things we do over and over again, even though we might have a different poem today than we had yesterday or last month, we’re still doing poetry. Those things do embed themselves in our lives in a way that I think the church liturgy is a good example for us of why we do Morning Time the way we do it.
Pam: Let’s talk about the long haul. Because, okay, we didn’t want to call the book that because we were afraid it might depress somebody, but I think there is a great reassurance in thinking about the long haul. And you talk about the tiny grains of sand. And that the little bitty things that I am doing now, all I have to do is focus on these little bitty things and I don’t have to worry about the future because it’s going to take care of itself. So, are there any help or inspiration you can give to encourage moms, other than the book, which is fabulous, about the long haul?
Cindy: Just that there is a long haul. That the fruit that we are seeking is in the future. For most moms, they’re not getting any gratification. I think that is why we cling to those things that are very mechanical in our home schools, because we feel like that’s fruit. If our child can rattle off something then we feel like that’s fruit and it makes us feel better about how dismal or how unfruitful our lives might seem or how little the kids are remembering or how little they’re learning. But when we think about it as, ‘Well today we are going to do as much as we can. We are going to get up in the morning and we are going to have a vibrant, happy home where we learn,’ the fruit of that is not going to happen tonight when we go to bed. That fruit is way in the future. If we look for the fruit too soon we will get discouraged because we won’t see it, it won’t be there. But we’re going for lasting fruit. We’re going for the things that will be with our children long after we’re gone. I like to say that we are doing it for the time when they are sitting in their rocking chairs and they are still holding on to these songs, these stories, and these poems, and these truths from the past that they’re carrying with them still into the future. It is discouraging that we don’t get that feedback. But when we aren’t getting the feedback, it can be encouraging to know that it is not a long slug, but it is a long haul. We have to be faithful, we have to keep at it. And we have to see that the outcome is later.
Pam: Right. One of the things I just loved in the book was you basically say, “Just do it.” If there is something that you are not happy about that’s going on in your homeschool you need to just drop everything and do that thing. So I was just wanting to know if I could get you to email me a couple times a week and say, “Pam, you just need to do it.”
Cindy: That was the most successful thing I did in my home, was when I was feeling discouraged and when I was beating myself up, “Oh we haven’t been reading aloud. Oh, no, no.” I would just go get a book and I would start doing that. When you find yourself frustrated about one of those areas where you’re weak in, one of the main areas I think is when mom’s say is that they don’t do their devotions, they don’t read their Bible, I think sometimes people make Bible study into such a complicated process that people don’t think about, ‘Hey I can just pick up my Bible right now and read a bible verse.’ That’s the kind of thing I am talking about. Not putting off things, but if you’re frustrated and you’re worried, just do that thing.
Pam: And that’s a good message, because a lot of homeschool moms are perfectionists, and I may speak from a little bit of self-knowledge here, and you know they want to wait until Monday when they can get note bookingpages printed out and go buy spiral notebooks and new colored pencils and all of that stuff before they begin and then they end up (I end up) never doing the thing anyway.
Cindy: Our plans are always so much more elaborate that what we actually get done, so there is that frustration. I’m all for planning, because I do believe that you do get more done when you plan, but there is a time to just say, “OK, I don’t need a plan to read aloud to my children. I don’t need a plan to ask my child to write a narration. Or to ask them, “What did you read in your book? What happened in that story today?” There doesn’t always have to be a plan. We can go ahead and do those things. We can get up and go outside and take a nature walk. That’s a big one for families who want to get nature study in and they just aren’t doing it. The key is just get out the door. Just walk outside and don’t make a plan to walk outside. Just walk out. The plans can come later. I think that comes down to that Ordo Amoris, the ordering of our affections. But once you get outside, and you have alittle bit of success, then you come back and start planning for the future because now it’s grabbed onto your heart a little bit.
Pam: Sometimes you have to start with wonder. You have to start with delight and loving it and then … I think sometimes may be that should be the first step in our plan. If you are going to plan nature study, the first step should be, do it until you love it and then you can move on to the second step, whatever that might be.
Cindy: There you go. That would be great. I like that plan.
Pam: In the book, you describe these joyous picturesque moments from your homeschooling. But you’re also pretty clear about saying that we need to debunk the myth of the perfect family. So why do you think your readers need to hear, both about the joy and the messiness?
Cindy: That’s a real fine line because I didn’t want to be discouraging, oh here is a depressing book about a horrible family, but I also wanted to be truthful and say, we weren’t a perfect family. We were very imperfect. I always say this and it has been so true, but when you have eleven sinners in one house, there’s going to be some pain involved. When you make nine of them men, or boys, then you’re going to add a different level of pain, at least for the girls involved in the family. So families are messy. It’s just the way it is. We want to think that tea parties cure, that we can make everything true and good and beautiful in our homes, but that beauty and that truth is going to have to be based on the reality of each of us as a person capable of sinning and capable of causing problems in our families. So I do think that it’s hard to communicate. For one thing, I wasn’t too specific in the book, and some people have said, “I wish you had been more specific,” but I can’t tell other people’s stories. I can’t say, “Well here is my son’s sin. Here is what he did wrong.” That is not place to tell that. But we all struggle in our families with different things. At the same time, therein lies the beauty of the Gospel. Because we are sinners and because we have access to forgiveness and to Christ, we get a chance in our families to see that work itself out. We get a chance to see the Gospel come into this really bad situation sometimes and work. When one person forgives another, to me, there is nothing quite like that in all the world.
Pam: In sharing the joy, you share the beautiful wonderful thing. But also in sharing the messiness you’re able to share a beautiful, wonderful thing because you bring it back to the Gospel always. And I think homeschool moms need to hear that, because I know I’m sitting here looking at sin and brokenness in my family. Whether it’s just a child talking back to me. Or the one who never quite can seem to tell the truth or something like that. Or my own sin and brokenness when I yell at my kids for doing something. Or I loved the part where you talked about the sanctification of sitting there listening to the child learning to read. And that you were finally able to do it on the ninth child without losing your patience and that was sanctification. And I was like, “I have only got three, I am never going to get there.” And then I’m like, “Oh, I only have three… “ No, I’m just kidding! But I think that homeschool moms need to hear that because they’re facing these kinds of things themselves, and if they only hear the perfect stuff…
Cindy: I think what happens, especially when you have a child learning to read or especially when you have your first couple children, many families have that child where things just come easy for them and they do well in school and then you have the child who struggles with maybe learning to read. And for the young mom, it really feels like it’s her failure. It’s her reputation on the line. And so then you have that whole struggle, ‘This child isn’t learning to read. I am doing something wrong.’ And you kind of take it out on the child and you get mad at the child. At least that is what I did with some of my early readers. And I think that as you get older you start to realize, that as Charlotte Mason said once again, “Children are born persons,” these are persons made in God’s own image just like you are and you’re helping them to learn to read, and of course it is your job to teach them to read, but it’s not you that is on the line. As you get older, I think you kind of step back a little bit and you see the child more as a person and you’re able to pull your own ego out of the process maybe.
Pam: I think that’s good. It’s such a weird dance being a homeschool mother. Because in some ways, you are striving to be, as Andrew Kern says, “worthy of imitation”, and then in other ways, you’ve got to take yourself out of the whole thing. And so you’re always doing this dance between those two sides of the coin in order …
Cindy: Absolutely.
Pam: … to maybe try and get it right.
Cindy: I always like to say that it always seemed like school was a place where everything wasn’t your fault as a mom. If I sent them to school, I will have put them in this magical place where every wrong thing in the family is not my fault as a mother. And I do think we take a lot on as mothers. We feel responsible, and of course we should feel responsible on some level, but there is also a freedom in knowing that we’re going to do our best, we’re going to be faithful, we’re going to get up today, and as much joy … I really wish I had had more joy in certain periods of my life than I did. I mean, I loved what I was doing, and I never for a minute didn’t love homeschooling, I loved it all the way up one side and down the other, but I did feel the burden of it and I wish that I hadn’t. I think the burden kept me from being a better homeschooler.
Pam: Is there anything that you could speak to moms to help them with that? Any advice you could give?
Cindy: That’s a good question. Basically, I would say, number one, you want to be, I say this a lot, maybe people take it the wrong way, I don’t know, but you want to be in close communion with the Lord. You want to have a personal relationship with Christ. You want to be reading your Bible and getting strength from the Lord. And I don’t mean to put a burden on someone, because I know mothers feel burdened down, but if that would be the first thing that you felt burdened down about, ‘If nothing else gets done today, I’m going to read my Bible.’ I know people keep their Bibles open all over the house and that helps. There are all kinds of different things. But the other thing is, like you said about my list, how minimal it was, if you’re reading aloud, if you’re writing, if you’re doing some math, and your children have a reading list, that’s quite a bit of education. Especially if they’re doing that written narration every day. I wouldn’t leave that out, but the reading can cover so much. That’s a way we can take burdens off of ourselves, is trust the reading.
Pam: In the book, you share a lot about your experiences from being a brand-new homeschooler to a veteran homeschooler, what do you see as your role in the homeschooling community moving forward?
Cindy: Well that is a really good question, because at first I thought, last year when we decided to put our son in school and my career was coming to an end and I thought, ‘Well, that’s that.’ And I got rid of everything. I was moving to a smaller house and I got baskets and baskets and baskets of curriculum. I finally sold it all as a unit to a lady. I had sold here and there but finally I was like, ‘I have got to get rid of this,’ and I just got rid of all of it. And I thought, ‘That’s it. I’m done homeschooling. I am not going to be homeschooling anymore.’ I thought, ‘I’ll probably tell Circe I’m not even going to speak anymore because I’m done.’ And then, someone got in touch with me and through a long series of events, now this year I have four homeschooling students. I am not homeschooling every subject for them, and that’s a lot of fun and I don’t feel that heavy burden. This may be a help. I feel the joy of teaching these kids, but it is kind of like being a grandparent. I don’t feel the burden. I know that what I am teaching them is good, but I don’t have the total responsibility to make sure these kids turn out perfectly that I did with my own children. So, I am finding great joy in teaching these four kids. They’re wonderful kids, they’re just delightful. I haven’t started the year. I only taught one student last year and this year I am going to be teaching four. Two of them will just be only, for the most part, language arts and nature study, and then two more I will have a few more subjects for. Anyway, suddenly I am still homeschooling. I am just loving it. My tables all covered with books piled high right now as I’m planning out the school year and next Monday we start for real. I thought, ‘I am really excited about Monday!’ So now, I’m still speaking, I’m still talking, I’m still writing books. I don’t know what God has, but apparently, he has something, so I’m just going to go with it. My main philosophy in life is, “Never break a door down, but if a door opens in front of you, walk through it.”
Pam: So this is fun because this is the grandparent version of homeschooling.
Cindy: Yes it is.
Pam: You just get to give them back when you are done with your part, so it is absolutely awesome.
Cindy: That’s right.
Pam: So it is absolutely awesome. I know I was reading in the book and you were talking about how you still go to the library sales, and now you just stand there and make recommendations. And I’m like, “She should charge for that! There are a lot of people who would pay a lot of money for Cindy Rollins stand there and make recommendations.” I would.
Cindy: My friend Janette actually did that this year. She knows more about books than I do. People paid her to go and get them books at the book sale.
Pam: That’s a fun job!
Cindy: Oh yeah, that’s a great job.
Pam: So much fun. Well Cindy, we’ve had a great time talking about your Mere Motherhood book, but you have something else really exciting coming out and it is a handbook to Morning Time. I know that my listeners are going to be really interested in this one. So share with us a little bit about what’s in this book.
Cindy: This book was just something that, after I wrote Mere Motherhood, some of the things that were left out of it were the practical things. It was very philosophical. And David and I started talking and I said, “Well, I have these old blog posts that could be cleaned up and made into a handbook.” Plus, I like to give people lists. I think we all enjoy lists. And so I just pulled together and complete reworked, but I tried to do it in a way that was very attractive to look at; just a handbook of all the different things that our family did in Morning Time and that’s what it is. It’s a handbook. It has lots of lists, lots of practical Morning Time ideas, so that it’s not quite as philosophical as my book Mere Motherhood. One of the things I really like about it, years ago, I don’t know if you have this problem too, but when homeschooling first started and somebody would put out a really good idea and everybody would be like, “That is a really good idea!” And then you do it for two weeks and then you would just burn and it would just be terrible. And then you would go back to the person who gave it to you and they would say the same thing. The would say, “Oh yeah, that didn’t work for me either. I thought it was a great idea and I put it out there.” But now that we’ve all been around a lot longer we can sift through all of that and get to the point: What did work? What are the ideas that have lasted? And that is why I really am excited about this booklet, this handbook, because it is something that I feel good about that, yes I did do this and it did work in our family and it did over a long period of time (at least 28 years) so it’s not just something to throw out there and add burdens onto mothers.
Pam: So these are all the tried and true, all the tested things that really stood the test of time in your morning time?
Cindy: Absolutely. And I will say this, if you are a young mother and you’re starting out with something like this. You don’t need to feel the pressure to go full speed ahead, ‘Oh every one of these ideas right here, right now.’ I think it is better to let Morning Time grow organically in families, but if you’re wanting some things to get you started, I think the handbook will be helpful. And it will give people a further glimpse into how I went about things, although, these are things different people are going to approach in different ways.
Pam: That’s great. And that’s one thing, and we got this from you, and we repeat it over and over again here on Your Morning Basket, is if you’re starting Morning Time, start small. Start with one thing and let it grow from there. But I know everybody is going to be really excited to have this handbook to go to and look for all of these time-tested ideas that really, really work. And I know I for one am really excited to get the chance to read it when it comes out. Cindy, thank you very much for joining us today. And could you tell everybody where they can find you online?
Cindy: You can find me at the Circe Institute, you can often find me blogging there. But you can also find me at, and if you are looking for my book Mere Motherhood and probably, eventually this Morning Time Handbook will be on there too, and that just links you back to the Circe Institute. It’s
Pam: Alright, and we’ll include a link to that in the Show Notes. Thanks very much!
Cindy: Thank you!
Pam: And there you have it, episode 27 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. If you would like links or information to any of the books or resources that Cindy and I chatted about today, including to her own books, you can find them on the Show Notes for this episode at And this is the final episode of this season of the Your Morning Basket podcast. We’re going to take a short hiatus over the winter break to enjoy the holidays with our family, but never fear, we will be back in January with some more Your Morning Basket podcasts. We’ve got some awesome interviews lined up and I think you’re really going to enjoy them. So check us back on iTunes or on the website in January. Until then, you guys have the very happiest of holidays and a wonderful New Year. And keep seeking Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in your homeschool day.

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