Brandy: You’re listening to Scholé Sisters, episode number 56.
Welcome to Scholé Sisters, the podcast for the classical homeschooling mama who seeks to learn and grow while she’s helping her children learn and grow. Scholé Sisters is a casual conversation about topics that matter to those of us in the trenches of classical homeschooling who yearn for something more than just checking boxes and getting it all done. I’m your host, Brandy Vencel. You can find me at Afterthoughts, and you can hear more from me on my other podcast, AfterCast. My co-hosts today are Pam Barnhill and Mystie Winckler. Pam is a speaker, podcaster, blogger at PamBarnhill.com, and author of two fabulous books, Better Together and the newly released, Plan Your Year. Mystie is a second-generation homeschooler with five kids and too many projects. She writes about practical, classical homeschooling and organizing attitudes at Simply Convivial. We are pleased to have Cindy Rollins back on the show today. Cindy homeschooled her nine children for over 30 years. She is co-host with Angelina Stanford of the popular Literary Life podcast and curates the Over the Back Fence newsletter at CindyRollins.net. She is the author of some wonderful books. My favorite is Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, and My Journey Toward Sanctification. The desire of Cindy’s heart is to encourage moms using Charlotte Mason’s timeless principles in the classical tradition. In today’s episode, the four of us are giving you a little peek at the content of the fall retreat. Our theme is Laughing Well. And as usual, we each have our own angle on the topic. You’ll find out why we chose the theme and the general ideas we intend to cover. Speaking of the fall retreat, if you’re listening to this episode the day it releases there is only one week left for early-bird registration. That’s right. Early-bird registration ends on Friday, August 2. Head on over to ScholeSisters.com/laugh to register today. I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode. There’s a lot more to laughter than standup comedy. All of us definitely have some opinions on it, and so without further ado, let’s get to it.
Brandy: Okay. So, since this is our special summer where-we’re-going-to-talk-about-the-retreat thing let’s talk about why when we get so much hate mail about laughter would we use Laughing. Well as our topic for the retreat, and does that mean everybody’s doing stand-up comedy all day long?
Mystie: Ooh, no.
Cindy: I could have done that.
Pam: I was going to say I think that’s my entire approach, but …
Cindy: I mean, just because they don’t laugh doesn’t mean it’s not stand-up, right?
Brandy: That’s true. You’re still standing.
Pam: You know what? I think as homeschool moms we, kind of, take ourselves seriously, way seriously.
Mystie: In our projects.
Pam: We’re tasked with such a big thing; the education of another human being. And not only the education of another human being but the human beings we care about more than anything else in the world. And so, this is a big serious job for us and a lot of us take it very seriously and I think sometimes in that seriousness we forget or neglect the joy of being with our kids and the joy that comes with everybody learning together and things like that. And so I think it’s a really important topic for us to approach.
Brandy: I was thinking, though, does laughing actually mean you’re not taking it seriously?
Pam: I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t want to set up this kind of either or proposition that you have to be serious or you have to be laughing but I think what happens is sometimes we get so into the seriousness of it that we forget that you can do a good job and something can be important to you and you can still have fun while doing it. And not even have fun, you can still experience joy while doing it; they’re not two separate things. They’re not two sides of a coin. Joy and seriousness are not two separate sides of the coin. You could have it all together.
Cindy: And I think the joy – just because you feel joyful about what you’re doing though, doesn’t mean that other people know you’re joyful about what you’re doing.
Mystie: That’s happened at our house.
Cindy: That’s where I think the seriousness becomes a problem. It’s not that you can’t be serious and have joy at the same time, but does anybody know it?
Mystie: Because when we want relationship in our homeschools, we can be hindering that with our attitude, with the demeanor, the atmosphere that we’re creating, but joy and light-heartedness actually helps and promotes learning.
Cindy: Yes, absolutely.
Pam: Very much so.
Brandy: You know, actually, that reminds me of the complaints we get about the music. Not just on Scholé Sisters, but I know you and I, Mystie, also get a hard time about our other podcasts.
Mystie: I’m very jealous about your Afterthoughts.
Brandy: It’s because it’s the best.
Cindy: Hopefully you don’t ruin anybody.
Mystie: Every time I listen to Brandy’s podcast, I’m like, ‘Oh man, she’s got the best music!’
Brandy: I actually have a story about that. I waited two and a half years to come out with that podcast because I couldn’t find the right song [Laughter] because it was that important to me. And then I found this song and now I get hate mail about the song constantly, which I find amusing. But it’s interesting to me; so there’s two kinds of people: the first kind of people who complain about the song (and Scholé Sisters’ song definitely gets less hate mail. It doesn’t get none, but it gets less), but there’s the first kind that just thinks rock music is evil and downbeats belong to Satan and, you know, that kind of thing. So there’s that. But then the other is constantly like, “Well, this song communicates that you don’t take these subjects seriously.”
Mystie: Yeah, it should be classical music.
Brandy: Right. And I think that’s really funny.
Cindy: Well, Angelina and I did not go with classical music on purpose for The Literary Life because we are actually trying to be the non-critic, you know, we are not highbrow. We’re not a highbrow podcast and we don’t want that communicated to people like, ‘Ooh now we will be talking about books.’ We want it to be accessible to everybody and we felt like classical music—we love classical music—but we didn’t feel like that would send the right message for what we wanted to provide.
Brandy: And that was sort of the same kind of thing for us. This idea of we wanted it to be fun. Why does serious have to mean stuffy especially because we’re dealing with children, right? And children are funny and they’re playful and so, to me, besides the fact that I just liked my song and wanted a song that was better than Mystie’s song [Laughter], but to me, you’re actually conveying certain things when you choose to use a different kind of music.
Cindy: Play is the work of children and in Charlotte Mason also says moms should get out and play and in this exact situation she says it. She says when moms are over-burdened and they’re feeling pressure, and all these things that we feel, we should go out and play.
Mystie: We need that tension and the pressure relieved or we will explode in various ways, or implode, or something spectacularly wrong will happen.
Brandy: Something’s going to -plode. [Laughter]
Cindy: We’ll be sad all the time and overwhelmed and it won’t be good for our families. They’ll feel responsible. They’ll feel like, ‘Oh mom is overwhelmed because of me.’
Brandy: I think I’ve done that to my children before.
Cindy: Oh, I know I have.
Cindy: That’s how I know this because I did it.
Mystie: And we want them to feel like we like them and we are having a good time with them and I think that smiling and laughing with them … I have some who are particular about feeling ‘laughed at’ which is the easiest source of laughter.
Cindy: It is. And it’s so much fun. And in a large family it’s just like there always has to be a victim. [Laughter]
Mystie: It’s like I tell that child that it’s taking yourself seriously that’s actually causing your internal drama right now that you need to let go and say, ‘Yeah.’ I often need to take that advice myself.
Cindy: Yeah. I mean teaching your children—and I know y’all know that I said that a lot but, you know, teaching your children to laugh at themselves is a huge victory in parenting.
Mystie: Which we aren’t going to be able to teach unless we’re doing it ourselves—that’s the most effective way to do it and it’s healthy for us.
Cindy: When all the laughter turns on mom, like you’re the victim of the making fun of, you’ve got to also model being able to take it as well as dish it out. We had a really brutal family. [Laughter]
Brandy: I actually can’t fathom that many boys in one family. I’ve seen the picture so I know it’s real, but.
Cindy: I honestly don’t know how we got through it either, but I said that to my older son the other day. I texted him. I said, “We made it, we survived” because he was with me for the some of the intense years. It was him and me trying to figure this all out.
Brandy: Crazy. It really is amazing, Cindy.
Cindy: Well, it is what it is, whether it’s amazing or not. It didn’t really matter because when you wake up in the morning and you have nine kids you gotta deal with it, happily.
Mystie: I think that’s where laughing comes in because we wake up a lot of the time and feel like, ‘I have to make this amazing!’ like that’s my job is to make this amazing and be amazing and make my children amazing and that’s what builds the pressure and the tension that makes us no fun and makes the whole experience no fun and ends up backfiring.
Cindy: Absolutely. Charlotte Mason, I just taught a class, we just had a discussion group on chapter 1 of Towards a Philosophy of Education and one of the things that one of the moms said, because Charlotte says, it’s not all about the teacher, learning is about what’s happening within the student and the teacher’s job is not to go around making everything exciting for the student, but just make sure the student is getting good meals, setting that that wide curriculum in front of them and making sure it’s the very best that you can offer them and then get out of the way or learn with them, but it’s not all up to you as soon as the teacher-mom. So she was saying this very thing that you’re saying she said that is so freeing. It’s not all up to me. I have this job. I can’t get inside of my child and tamper with who they are. So I have this job that’s outside of that that I have to do. And here’s how I’m going to go about it. I’m going to give them the very best that we have to offer in each of these things, you know, literature and history and writing and music and all these things and then it’s not up to me to make my child into this particular person. And that should free us.
Brandy: Yes, there really is an interesting aspect of children being born persons, this idea that it means persons are things that we have no control over. [Laughter]
Mystie: So it’s good for people to laugh about that …
Mystie: … when it happens.
[00:12:54] The retreat details
Brandy: Okay, so what we always do is we choose a theme and then talks are developed around that theme but everybody has their own angle on it. So, I’m looking for really brief (this does not have to be long—here’s the entire outline of my talk—I haven’t written my talk yet, I’m assuming you guys haven’t either) …
Mystie: What outline?
Brandy: So …
Cindy: You guys outline your talks? [Laughter]
Brandy: I don’t outline anything ever much to Mystie’s chagrin. Actually what did I tell you yesterday, Mystie? I was going to send you an outline, no, I mean the brain dump. I prefer disorganized pile.
Mystie: I’ll turn it into an outline.
Brandy: So, anyway. I don’t know who wants to go first, but I thought we could just each share really what your angle is. Like Laughing Well, laughter joy, levity. I mean that’s actually really big topic. It’s a big idea. And so, what’s your angle? Where are you going with this?
[00:13:58] Mystie’s talk
Mystie: Well, I get to talk about laughing at ourselves. I’m excited about that. So, it’s going to be how to laugh at yourself and why you need to.
Brandy: I like that.
Mystie: I’m kind of thinking about calling it “liberating laughter.”
Brandy: Ooh, because L’s.
Mystie: Well, it has to be alliterative.
Brandy: That’s what I was about to say. We didn’t just choose this topic because it was another L, but I’m not going to say that it didn’t factor.
Mystie: I’ve got five L’s, so just be prepared.
Brandy: And then, our sixth conference is on llamas. [Laughter]
Mystie: That’s not a verb. [Laughter]
Brandy: No, it’s like the grand finale of L’s because there’s two L’s at the front. It’s perfect.
Pam: But it has to be a verb.
Mystie: Oh dear.
Brandy: Anyway, Mystie, would you like to tell us more? As I so rudely interrupted you.
Mystie: There was this quote that I have heard attributed to G.K. Chesterton, but in trying to find it, it turns out it was actually written about G.K. Chesterton. That he was a man who took his work but not himself seriously. And I just love that quote and I wish that it was G.K. Chesterton who had said it but instead he modeled it and it’s what we need to model as well; taking our work but not ourselves seriously. And I think that makes us better teachers and better mothers and more sane and capable and less overwhelmed when we kind of wrap our heads around the fact that it’s our responsibility to do the work that’s set before us but it’s not our responsibility to be awesome within ourselves. So there’ll be a little theology in there. Our identity is in Christ and that’s why we can laugh at ourselves.
Brandy: [inaudible] that discrepancy.
Mystie: So Brandy?
Brandy: Did you want me to go next, Mystie?
Mystie: Yeah, that was like …
Brandy: That was the transition?
Mystie: That was the tennis ball to you. [Laughter]
[00:16:23] Brandy’s talk
Brandy: I could do that. So, my angle actually started when I was thinking about Proverbs 31 in a different concept and I just noticed that it talks about the ideal woman or ideal wife as being able to laugh at the days to come. So laughing at the future.
Pam: I was looking at that the other day, too.
Mystie: Brandy’s claimed it.
Brandy: I already claimed it. You can’t have it. So, my angle really is going to be talking about that’s a laughter that’s really born of confidence and stability, and yet, we all know that the future doesn’t just hold good things. I mean the ultimate future holds good things but like tomorrow could be a really bad day. So, how can she do that? I think there’s a level of confidence. So what I’m going to explore is where that kind of confidence really comes from. And so, there’s going to be a theological side of that and there’s also going to be, I think, it’s also because she’s prepared. When you read about what she’s done, she’s also done her duty well. So anyway, that’s where I’m going with things.
Pam: Well, that’s my softball.
Brandy: Okay. Pam!
Pam: The prepared thing.
Brandy: Pam! [Laughter]
[00:17:43] Pam’s talk
Pam: Well, mine is going to be practical. It’s going to be very practical. And it’s about laughing with your kids. So, Mystie, we have all of these different themes going on and mine’s probably going to be the least theological of all of them and the most practical. But we’re just going to take a look at how can you bring laughter into your day with your kids? How do you stop a day that’s going bad and can you use laughter to do that? How do you interact with your kids on a daily basis and work on laughter? And a lot of people, and Cindy, I may have to get on the Voxer and pick your brain about this one, but one of the questions I get sometimes as I’m speaking, because I talk a little bit about this topic as I’m speaking around the country, is how do you laugh with teenagers and teenage boys and my kids are getting to that age and I have a couple of little tricks that I use, but I may pull in some stuff from Cindy as well because she’s going to be really good at that.
[00:18:53] Cindy’s talk
Cindy: Well, then I just have the real downer thing that I have to talk about. Because I’m going to be speaking about—actually, I like this topic—how to have joy and laughter in the middle of hard times. If we are going to be joyful and happy in our homes, we are going to have to be joyful and happy in the hard times as well as the good times because lots of what we are going to go through is going to be overwhelming and challenging to us as parents. I was telling the girls earlier I like to say that parenting is demoralizing and that’s because of our own limitations, but we have all the riches in Christ at our disposal. So, there is a way to be joyful and happy and not be insincere even when things are hard or when things are in the very worst of times. It’s good to turn to our children and smile not because we’re fake but because we have another level where we know that all shall be well. So, I’m going to be speaking about that. And I’ve gone through hard times in my family life and the hardest time, one of the hardest times we went through the Lord gave me the word jollification right before it started. So I got that word and then things fell apart and I thought I’ve got to cling to this word for my children’s sake during this really hard time. And so, we enacted a time of jollification in our family that we did, you know, even though there were many times I was in my bedroom crying, I would come out and we would do something jolly. I’m going to explore that in more depth.
Brandy: I love that. Was that when you ate a lot of ice cream?
Cindy: Yes. We did eat a lot. I found that when all else fails for jollification, ice cream prevails. Really, we don’t even need a conference now. All we need is ice cream. [Laughter]
Mystie: Adding it to the Costco list.
[00:21:12] Lunch meetup on 9/20/19
Brandy: Okay, well, in addition to the retreat, we are having a meet-up for Sistership members in the San Luis Obispo area. So, the retreats are local. If you’re a group leader or you’re just really motivated person, you can put together your own local retreat. We provide the structure and the speakers and the amazing jokes and …
Mystie: And instructions and a checklist.
Brandy: Well, yeah, okay the boring stuff, too. And you get together with your group and enjoy yourself, for the most part, and make tea or something…
Mystie: Or eat ice cream.
Brandy: Or eat ice cream, exactly. What you need is an ice cream bar this year. So, anyway, in addition to that we are doing a meet-up if you’re in central California, our meetup is in the San Luis Obispo area. I don’t think we have an exact place yet, but that’s coming and it’s going to be announced in Sistership. So everybody needs to be in Sistership in order to find out about this. Everybody’s going to know right? Like even the free accounts, right? You don’t have to be …
Mystie: Right, it’ll be in the free area.
Brandy: Okay, so as long as you’re in there, you know, you’ll find out where we are, but we would love for you to come and join us. Do you remember, do we know if it’s dinner or lunch yet?
Mystie: It’s lunch.
Brandy: So, it’ll be lunch on Friday [September 20, 2019]. The retreat is on Saturday [September 21, 2019]. So, it’s lunch Friday before and you know, the last one we did, it was not just like a 30-minute lunch, I mean, what? We were there for two hours at least, right? So, you’ll have plenty of time to meet each other and talk and all those kinds of things.
Mystie: It’ll be fun.
Cindy: I’m looking forward to meeting everybody.
Brandy: There’ll be lots of laughing.
Mystie: That much we can promise. [Laughter]
[00:23:07] Who’s been to California before?
Cindy: I had never been to California and then I went earlier this year and now I’m going to get to go again, so I’m pretty excited about this.
Brandy: I was kind of bummed we ended up not being your first time in California. I thought we were going to pull that off.
Pam: Let me tell you the weather there is awesome.
Cindy: Oh wow. I just want to see the waves.
Mystie: It’ll be my first time except for the fact that I was born there.
Cindy: Oh, wow, haven’t you not been back since what three weeks old or?
Mystie: Yep, I think three months.
Cindy: Three months.
Mystie: Moved back to Boise.
Mystie: I was born there but I’ve never actually been there.
Cindy: Well, that’s super interesting. Was your dad in the military?
Mystie: No, he was going to Bible College there and graduated two or three days before I was born, something like that.
Mystie: So then he had to go get a real job.
Brandy: Well, Renee and Brittany got us this great house, and so you’re going to get to see lots of waves.
Cindy: Yeah, Brittany was telling me, I met Brittany and we talked about the house a little bit, so I’m excited.
Brandy: It pays to have people know people. That’s all I can say about that. Alright. Well, we’re looking forward to it. Anything else we need to cover? I know we try to keep these summer episodes short, but I don’t want to forget anything.
Cindy: Well, we’ll have to come up with a book list also to go with the retreat.
Mystie: That’s a good idea.
Cindy: Yeah, we’ll have a fun book list of hilarious books for adults and children.
Mystie: Wodehouse, Penrod.
Brandy: I was thinking joke books.
Cindy: Calvin and Hobbs.
Pam: My contributions are going to have to be a joke book.
Mystie: I will not let my 9-year-old see your book list then.
Brandy: Well, I know what I’m secretly sending to him.
Cindy: Yeah, our favorite graphic novels. We’ve got this. Inside dry joke. I’m sorry.
Mystie: I got it because I don’t have any graphic novels I like.
Brandy: I should bring my … I have this, I think it’s a graphic novel on Aristotle, I’ll have to bring it to you.
Cindy: Well, there is that new book on Bonhoeffer. That’s actually a very good book. I gave it to a young man. My grandson also has it. It’s a graphic novel about Bonhoeffer and I think it’s a really cool idea.
Mystie: Actually, I’ve seen a graphic novel of Hamlet, which is also pretty cool.
Cindy: So we’re not as stuffy as we sound, Mystie.
Brandy: This calls for classical music. [Laughter] Alright. Well, thanks for coming everybody.
[00:26:06] Your local group
Mystie: I think we just want to encourage people to do a local group. It’s available to watch on your own while you’re folding laundry and making food and that sort of thing but we really want to encourage people to also get together with friends where you can discuss and have it impact your local community and grow your local relationships also.
Brandy: Yeah, for sure.
Pam: Yeah. I mean if the only way you could do it is to watch at home by yourself, then by all means do that. But if you have the chance to get a group, even if it’s just two or three people in your living room, when we’re saying, get together a local group, sure there are some groups that will have 40 or 50 people but we’re going to provide support for you even if your group is smaller.
Brandy: Alright. Well, thanks guys for showing up and recording today.
Mystie: Yeah. Thanks Brandy.
Brandy: Looking forward to seeing you in person in September.
Mystie: Thanks for editing, Brandy.
Brandy: Hello cutting room floor.
Brandy: That’s it for today. And that’s also it for our Summer Bonus Season. Please make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss our fall kick off. And also, we appreciate it if you spread the word about the podcast to your friends. If all goes as planned we will back with our fall season on August 31. We’re starting things off with a rousing conversation with Wendi Capehart. She explains the importance of heroes in the teaching of history. There’s a reason some refer to her as “the smartest woman on the internet.” Until then, we want to remind you once again that homeschooling is a marathon you needn’t run alone, so open up your eyes, and look around you, find your sisters.