A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure Tour: Win Star World Casino (Review)

Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard on his Force Majeure World Tour

“Let’s start with human sacrifice,” Eddie Izzard said as he strode on stage. He was decked out in a gray suit, high heeled boots and painted fingernails. He calls himself an “action transvestite.” He is also a comedian. He performed to a sold out crowd last night at the Win Star World Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Izzard mentioned at the beginning of his act that he had just flown in from England that day. He said his act sometimes has intermissions but this one would not. He would just plow through. “So if you have to go to the loo, just go. Or if you want to move around a bit, you can do that too,” he said. This brought a series of cheers from the audience. His energy and enthusiasm lasted well throughout the two-hour show. He was never still, bouncing and dancing his way through much of the act. He gleefully acted out bits that should have been included in the London Olympics: namely the Dressage and Burgle event.
The high point of his act was when he retold the saga of Mr. Stevens from Catering. Some call it the Canteen Sketch. He has done versions of this sketch in other tours, with additions and minor changes. It is a well-loved piece. He ended with an Ode to Mr. Stevens. He sung the final stanza to the tune of “America the Beautiful”. This brought on a spontaneous sing-along from the crowd.
Most of his material was new from gold-digging moles to jibes at various languages and accents. He injected his older bits with some new jests and observations. The crowd still roared with laughter at each familiar bit. He then performed bits of his act in both German and French. He was very surprised when the crowd understood and laughed at the appropriate parts. “The Oklahoma-Texas border gets German.” He worked the crowd rather well. He even stopped at one point during his performance to ask the audience “Now where was I?” He then waited until he received the appropriate answer. He is like a hyped-up man with ADHD. He would go off-tangent much of the time. But he always came back around to the subject at hand.
He ended his show with a “happy holidays” sign-off. When the crowd gave him a standing ovation, he returned to the stage as if he never left (almost in mid-sentence). He continued on to talk about The Lord of the Rings for a bit. Then, he signed off for good. All in all, he gave as only Eddie Izzard can – frantic comedy done right. Bravo.

Eddie Izzard will finish his Force Majeure Tour in Australia. His complete touring schedule and other information can be found at eddieizzard.com.

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School Choice Week

schoolchoiceweek.com

National School Choice Week is January 25-31, 2015.

“National School Choice Week (NSCW) provides an unprecedented opportunity, every January, to shine a spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children. Independently planned by a diverse coalition of individuals, schools and organizations, NSCW features thousands of special events across the country. The Week is a nonpartisan and nonpolitical public awareness effort.”

I recently came across School Choice Week while I was researching for my homeschooling book. I took a good look at the website and I spoke with a customer service representative. The site is basically a place for organizers and schools to sign up. I looked for events happening in my area through their nifty search engine. I found four events in my state. The one in Dallas is an open house for a Catholic school. All the others were over 200 miles from me. Although there is a great event happening on the steps of the Capitol Building in Austin, it’s a four hour trip.

As soon as you open their site, a chat window opens up and a CSR asks if they can help you. It was a little annoying at first. I told her that I was a homeschooler and I was interested in helping out the cause somehow. She said I should be an organizer and directed me to the homeschool section of the site. When I arrived at the site, I noticed the form for organizers to fill out. So, I filled it out. If approved, I will receive a complimentary box full of goodies such as scarves, posters, fliers and more. I am not sure what I will do with all the goodies if I get them. Do I just sit at a table downtown during the School Choice Week and talk up homeschooling? That would be odd. Most people would ignore me or think I was three fries short of a happy meal.

Does anyone have any ideas about what I could do with all this information? How can I get the word out that there is a need for effective education options for children. I guess I could set up on the steps of the Fort Worth court house. I would love to do this locally but my town is so small. We have a tabernacle in the middle of town. I guess I could set up there right next to the farmers’ market. “Hey! Have a flier with that apple. Support education and farmers at the same time!” Maybe. I would love to get your feedback. Just leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks! BTW, this will take place January 25-31, 2015.

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Are unschoolers really nuts?

When I first began homeschooling about five years ago, I researched everything to do with homeschooling. I attended co-ops, support groups, and meetings. I read every article and website. I watched A LOT of YouTube. I then decided to teach my children through structured homeschooling. This means that I re-created the public school experience at home. We had a tough schedule with grading and testing. I kept records and gave out rewards such as stickers and fake money. They used the money to buy things from the treasure box. It seemed to be going well – at least for me.
During this first year, I met all sorts of homeschoolers and unschoolers. The homeschoolers I could understand, but the unschoolers? They were completely bonkers. They actually let their children do whatever they wanted. There was no structure. There were no grades. There was no testing. This was insane! I did not want that for my kids. I wanted them to go to college and be successful. My son loved bugs so he would go to A&M and study entomology. My daughter liked art, so she would go to art school. I had everything planned out. There was only one thing I did not even consider. My children were miserable.
So that first summer, we regrouped. I took some of the structure out. We had school four days a week instead of five. We went on field trips with a local homeschool group. We went to SCA events. We still learned from text books and I still gave grades and rewards. But they were still miserable. What the heck was going on? Couldn’t they see that this was for their own good? They would be successful, by golly.
That next summer, we regrouped again. We still had text books. We still learned from them. But this time, I borrowed a bit from Charlotte Mason and others. It seemed to help but trying to raise the perfectly educated child stressed me out completely.
Fast forward to last year. I started a tech support job from home. I worked the 12-8 pm shift. My husband was attending college in the mornings. We still homeschooled, be it a little more relaxed form of it. So, many things did not get done. Grades were not kept, textbooks were used less and we spent more time together as a family. I missed my kids so we used our time together to bond and have fun. I noticed one very important thing. The world did not end. My kids did not revert back to a Neanderthal state. They still learned. Really? Could this be?
Well, we had many things happen last summer. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had to leave my job to take care of my mother (she is in remission now and doing great). So I had more time on my hands, which disappointed my children. You see, I love research. When I start something, I get a bit obsessive about it. So I was back on the homeschooling kick. I got my husband’s college math book and taught my children college math. I also taught them college history. My kids are now 13 and 16 so they breezed through it all. Although my daughter absolutely hates math. I love it. I could factor polynomials all day long and giggle while doing it. But I am nuts. My son likes math though. He giggles too. He also likes Java (silly kid). How does my daughter work math problems? First she opens the book. Then she copies the problem. Then she cries. Well, not really. She does pout and cross her arms a lot. “But I HATE math!” is her mantra of the day. My son spends more of his free time playing video games and less time exploring. He does this to escape. He is not happy. My daughter spends all her free time writing stories and drawing. They were slowly withdrawing from family time. We were all miserable. What should I do?
Last week, I came across Ms. Gwen’s blog. Through it, she introduced me to Peter Gray. He is a psychologist who studies children and how they learn. He is a huge supporter of unschooling. His article titled “The Danger of Back to School” is eye-opening, to say the least. Seeing all of this gave me insight on how I could make my children happy. I realized that success should not be measured in how much money you make (although that is a nice bonus). It should be measured in how happy you are. They say if you love your job you will never work a day in your life. Why shouldn’t school be looked at the same way? We make children do far more work in school than we do at our jobs. They are micromanaged and taught to sit still and do the work. Really? Would you be happy if your boss treated you that way?
So the rest of this year will be spent on happier pursuits. My son will still work on his Java and math (because he likes them) and I will give my daughter a break from math. I will give her more time to draw and write fan fiction. I have even read her stories and they are pretty good. So what if she can’t factor polynomials? She wants to write, draw and act. I don’t think her lack of numeracy knowledge will be a hindrance. I now have the kids work together on projects. There are times when my son is working math on the board and my daughter will lend a hand. My son will also proofread her stories. They still learn but they have fun doing it and they do it on their own terms. I have found unschooling to be more than I thought it could ever be. It is a great way to raise happy kids. My son no longer wants to be an entomologist (although he still loves all insects and animals). He is more into creating digital art and games. My daughter wants to be a voice-over artist. I am done pushing college. As a teen, I had college pushed down my throat. I was the only one in my family to attend a university. I have done nothing with it. It was a great experience, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t use any of that knowledge today. It is really overrated. But that is a whole other blog post all together.
In the end, I have changed my views on homeschooling and unschooling. I have also found that there is a wide spectrum of people in each category. So are unschoolers really nuts? They just want their kids to be happy. So do I. So I guess I am a little nutty too.

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But I got Better

So many things happened to me because I got the flu. This illness kept me in bed for days. While lying there, with nothing much to do, I had time to reflect on things. Not only was I trying to cough up a lung, but I was also depressed. I have written about my depression before. I had gone to my doctor for a checkup. At that time, I thought I was really doing OK. Then, I lost my insurance. I am currently looking for new insurance. But in the meantime, I am looking for a way to combat all this without meds. I think I have found a solution called SuperBetter. This may seem a little silly. It did to me, at first.

This journey began a few months ago when I saw a TEDTalks video on Netflix. The series was called Life Hack. It was so amazing, I watched the entire series in one day. The one that really stood out was “Jane McGonigal: The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life”. This woman is amazing. I was really moved by her at the time and I shared her video with friends and family. Then, I moved on. I didn’t need her game. I was doing great! I got out of bed, I wasn’t crying non-stop, yadda-yadda-yadda. I didn’t think I was depressed. Then, the flu hit with a tsunami of headaches, fever, and sore throat. I went through tissues, paper towels, and (finally) toilet tissue. I went through the NyQuil and DayQuil. I still felt like utter crap.  What was I going to do? I forced myself out of bed. A couple of days ago, I wrote about how that went. I tried again yesterday. Instead of writing, I went back to Jane McGonigal and her SuperBetter game. This game can help you battle depression, kick an addiction, recover from an illness, lose weight, or just about anything. It is completely free and it is truly a blessing. Thank you Jane!

This is what I found – inspiration and the strength to beat up bad guys. The bad guys here are things like Sticky Chair. To beat Sticky Chair, I must get up and walk away from my seat. I just have to take two steps. I can also use Power Ups. I set my own Power Up as Cleaning for Five Minutes. I took the challenge and I got out of my chair. Then, I took it one more step. I unloaded and then loaded my dishwasher. It may not seem like much to the average person, but it was monumental to me. Then, just before going to bed, I brushed my teeth and cleaned my face.

Today, I have accomplished many things. Usually, the first thing I do in the morning is check my phone (emails and such). Today, I left it plugged in – forgotten. Instead, I got up and got dressed. First Power Up used! Now I am writing in my blog. Second Power Up used. Baby steps. Next, I will actually make breakfast for my family. I am still sick with the flu, but I am not down and out. I am on the mend both physically and emotionally. I think I can really beat Sticky Chair today. I am definitely on my way to getting SuperBetter!

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