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    An Interview with Experience: Cindy of Ordo Amoris (Part I)

    August 16, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    To be honest, the best advice I could give a fellow homeschool mom is: Find someone with experience, someone you respect, who embodies what you are aiming for, and ask her a lot of questions. I’ve been wanting to interview a few different women, but it wasn’t until the other day that I mustered the courage to ask for permission. I am privileged to have a number women in real life that I can drill with questions, including my own wonderful mother. But there are some women–the writers I read–of whom I have never asked a deliberate series of questions…until now!

    Naturally, my first pick is the woman who has single-handedly changed our school-at-home more than anyone else I can think of. I started reading Cindy’s posts back when my daughter A. (who is five-and-a-half) was a newborn, and I know a number of you read Cindy’s blog as well.

    Unfortunately, many of her archives were lost from the old Dominion Family site, but thankfully Cindy, who mostly blogs over at Ordo Amoris, rescued some of the best of her work before it disappeared forever, and posted it over at her other blog, Morning Time Moms. You can read those “bests” in her archives from September 2008.

    I could have asked Cindy a million questions, but I knew I needed to narrow it down. Along with the help of Mystie and Kimbrah, I am able to present a fourteen-question interview covering homeschooling, being a mommy, raising boys, and more. I asked, and Cindy was faithful to answer, so I’ll be dividing the interview into two or three parts over the next few days.

    Consider this a back-to-school gift from Afterthoughts (and Ordo Amoris!) to you all.

    Today, we’re going to learn the Morning Time ropes (remember: you can read those September 2008 archives from Morning Time Moms if you want to know more about this concept).

    • First, tell us a little about yourself.

      I am homeschooling mom married to my husband, Tim, for 30 years. Tim works in nuclear power. We have 9 children. Timothy is 26. He is married to Natalia (homeschooled and New Saint Andrews grad) and they have 2 children Tim (TDRIII) and Blake. Timothy is a Green Beret. Nicholas, 24, is married to Hannah (homeschooled and jewelry designer.) They have a daughter, Georgia (1yo). Nicholas is a police detective and SWAT member. James, 22, is a junior at Covenant College playing 3rd base and planning on coaching baseball someday. Nathaniel, 20, is married to Vanessa. They are expecting their first baby in the early spring. Nathaniel studies nuclear engineering at Chattanooga State and works in the nuclear industry. Christopher, 18, is a freshman at Covenant College, playing baseball and thinking about sports journalism as a career. Benjamin, 16, is a junior in high school. He runs his own lawn business (Sporting Turfs), and works for the Chattanooga Lookouts along with playing baseball for the Chattanooga Patriots. Emily is a 15yo high school sophomore. She enjoys photography and graphic design. She has a dry sense of humor and no illusions about men. She is the light of my life. Andrew is 12 years old and in 7th grade. He plays baseball and likes to read mythology. Alex is 9 and in 4th grade. He also plays… Alex loves to wake up early and get as much school done as possible so that he can get on with the business of playing. I heard about homeschooling 3 years before Timothy was born when Raymond Moore was on the 15 minute new radio show Focus on the Family and it has been full speed ahead since then. We live in Tennessee and are members of a PCA church. In my spare time I read and play word games.

    • You say you read a Proverb each day in Morning Time. Do you mean a chapter of Proverbs, or a single Proverb (a single idea)? Do you just start over when you get to the end, and continue year after year?

      Depends. Lots of times I read the whole chapter but other times I stop and we discuss things for a while. With this particular exercise I read the Proverb of the date so if it is January 23, I read Proverbs 23. If I don’t make it through the Proverbs 23 on January 23rd, I don’t read it again until February 23. I don’t start where I left off as with so many other things. Obviously, this only happens during weekdays.

    • You say you discuss a president a day in your Morning Time. What do you use as a resource? (Because I know very little about presidents.)

      The Buck Stops Here by Alice Provensen (Oh, how I love the Provensens!) is a great place to start. You can read about one president a day. I don’t always discuss one president a day. I usually mix it up with amendments or civics questions from the naturalization test. Every other week, or so, we have a president’s bee. Even guys home from college think it is fun and join in. If the kids come to the end of the bee and have missed someone, I start giving out clues such as, “He was married to Lemonade Lucy.” Every once in a while, I see how many presidents each child can name all by themselves. Before I started losing brain cells I could name them all.

    • Do you memorize everything that your children memorize (i.e., how important is our example in this area)?

      Yes and no. Technically, I am reading the memory work out loud every day but they usually memorize much more quickly than I do. Still over the years, I have accumulated quite a cache of poetry and probably know more of the memory-work than my younger children. When Timothy (26) was about 7 we memorized, he and I, Paul Revere’s Ride. To this day if I get started on that, the whole poem has to run through my brain taking about 5 minutes. And I have memorized quite a bit of Dr Seuss by sheer osmosis. On the other hand, I have never participated in any recitation nights that we have had. Some parents have but I have never felt up to it. So I am not a good example in that way. I think that it is good for your children to see you read and study and work on mental things. That doesn’t mean they have to be the same things they are working on.

    • Do you discuss everything you read? Narrate everything? I look at your Morning Time schedules, and there are three read-alouds (at least) plus Scripture, Plutarch, and Shakespeare. Are there some things you just read and then move on? Is it bad to read without any reflection at all?

      Not by a long shot to the first question. This is where serendipity comes in to play. Each day we discuss something, narrate something but who knows where it will be or when or what or how. Plutarch usually demands small sections, tiny sections, with lots of discussion. Shakespeare also calls for explanations and discussion. I usually preach during Bible readings. I have to keep a pulse on the day, the time passing and being sidetracked. If we discuss one thing at length I may cut other options for conversation off short. I think that during reading there is always some reflection going on whether or not we discuss it. Some children process everything out loud and you have to protect the conversation from that child. Sometimes it is better to let the discussion flow while cutting the rest of Morning Time off.

      And let me add that we have Morning Time on the good school days. A good year will have a 60/40 ratio of MT days to interrupted days. A bad year, like the last two years, will have a much lower ratio. I am praying that we will have a great year this year to make up for our 2 slower years.

    • Inspire us in poetry. I am so weak in this. I never know what to do. We still haven’t really memorized a poem.

      Keep ‘a goin’. Keep reading. Start small. I truly believe that poetry teaches intuition and making connections. It teaches metaphor which is the absolute height of learning, in my opinion. As with everything, don’t be overly zealous, just keep reading small bits of poetry daily. Pick a tiny poem to memorize. Pat yourself on the back when you can sing a verse of a hymn in church without the hymnal.


    That’s all for today, folks. Tomorrow, tune in for Part II! Update: Read Part II.

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  • Reply Mystie August 17, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Thank you, Brandy!


    Thank you so much for doing the interview, Cindy! Hearing 60/40 for MT is a good year relieved me immensely. Our ratio was about 40/60 last year and I was happy with that, but felt bad for being happy about it (we moved at the beginning of the year and had a baby in the middle). Part of me does get frustrated doing all the planning for 100% and then only accomplishing a portion of it.

  • Reply Dominion Family August 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks, Brandy. I do love to ramble. Amy, we really should get together. I drive to KY several times a year but usually in a big hurry. Still lets try.

  • Reply Amy Scott August 17, 2010 at 1:39 pm


    My 7th grader is 12-year-old, plays baseball, and is a mythology fanatic, too.

    Please keep us in mind to stop in if you’re ever driving to Nowhere in Kentucky. I thought about you while driving by Lookout Mountain. We’re not that far now.

  • Reply Homeschooling Hopeful August 17, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I love Cindy’s blog so this was really fun to read! Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  • Reply Monica August 17, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Can’t wait for Part 2! Thank you, indeed, for this rich treat!

  • Reply Kristine August 17, 2010 at 3:53 am

    This was wonderful. Great questions. Thank you both for this. I love the civics time. I was just wondering what resource I could use to teach the political process to my youngsters, besides just bringing it up when it comes up in stories and life. Looking forward to the sequels!

  • Reply Mrs. H August 17, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Wow, what a great treat! I enjoyed it.

    Mrs. H

  • Reply Rahime August 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks, great idea! I’m looking forward to pt. 2.

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