Category Archives: Oot

Being Evil

Tonight, I was playing in the living room with my girlfriend (Sarah) my oldest son (codename Oot: age 5.5) and my youngest son (codename Cutie Snoo, age 1.5)

It wasn’t anything fancy. Nothing organized. I’d just come back from recording this week’s podcast with Max Temkin, and rather than head upstairs to do more e-mail, as I am wont to do, I decided to stay downstairs and play with the kids.

A large part of this is because my Cutie is at a magical age. 18 months is pretty awesome. After a bit of a hiatus, he’s saying da-da again, and it pulls at my heart.

Those of you without kids might have trouble understanding how enthusiastic an 18 month-old can be. Let me explain.

You know how excited a dog can get when you’ve been away for a couple hours? (Or let’s be honest, when you’ve just left the room for a couple minutes). At 18 months, my little boy has that level of enthusiasm. He runs up to me, his face all lit up, grinning, his legs doing that straight up-and-down stomping walk that’s the closest he can get to a run.

And all the time he’s saying “da-da-da-da-da-da!”

So yeah. It’s pretty fucking amazing. I’m not going to lie.

Anyway, I’m hanging out with my family, and Oot walks up to Sarah and says, “I’m so… thirsty! Can you please… get me… a drink of water?”

His performance makes it clear that he is about to die from thirst. People in the desert don’t have it this bad. He’s really going full Shatner in his performance.

Sarah starts to get up to get him a drink of water. She does this because she loves him.

Sarah and Oot

(Exhibit A)

“You know where the water is,” I say to Oot. “You can get yourself a drink. You’re a very grown-up child.”

I say this because I love him too. Sarah and exhibit our love in different ways. She wants him to be happy now. I want him to be happy in the future, and part of that is making sure he’s self-reliant.

Plus he’s five. If we were living in the wild, he’d be hunting and cooking birds on his own. So yeah. He can get his own drink of water.

But here’s the thing, it’s a little late at night. The kitchen is on the other side of the house. It’s a whole, like, 50 feet away. And it’s late in the evening, so that part of the house is kinda dim.

And he’s five, so he’s a little scared of being alone, and of the dark.

“Will you come with me?” he asks.

This is a familiar dance. We want him to do things for himself. He wants company. We want him to be brave. He wants to feel safe.

Nobody’s wrong here. We all want good things. But they’re in conflict.

“You can do it,” I say. “I know you can.” (Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not some muy mas macho monster. If it was fully dark in there, I’d work with him. But it’s not. He can handle it. He has before. It’s good practice for him.

I’ll tell you a story,” Sarah says.

This is a compromise we use sometimes. If he hears our voices, he knows he’s not alone. So one of us will tell him a story, and it will help him go somewhere in the house when he’s a little spooked.

“I’ll tell you a story,” I say.

“I want mom to do it,” he says, moving toward the baby gate that leads into the dining room.

He’s on to me.

Once there was a little boy who really liked candy,” Sarah says. “So he decided to go exploring.

I’m going to be honest here, Sarah’s narrative structure isn’t the best. Her themes can be kinda muddy sometimes, and, truthfully, her stories are often really lacking in terms of the Aristotelian unities. But even so, I know she’s up for this. Two minutes of story will get Oot into the kitchen and back. I watch as he opens the gate then turns on the light to the dining room. Out of our line of sight. Out of his line of sight. He’s gone.

So one day he walked out into the the backyard and he found–

A Thousand Angry Ghosts!” I say. I don’t yell it. But I say it in a really loud voice. My phantom of the opera voice. I project from my diaphragm.

And from the other room, comes a high, piercing scream. It lasts for a full two seconds.

Then Oot comes running back into the living room.

You’re going to have to trust me on this, it was *super* funny. Sarah will back me up on this.

You see, most days, I’m a good dad.

Other days, I’m an AWESOME dad.

Stay tuned, everyone. Soon we’ll have bedtime stories.

Seriously,

pat

Also posted in babies, Beautiful Games, Because I Love, Cutie Snoo, podcasts, Sarah | By Pat26 Responses

The Things that Children Know

Every night I’m at home, I read to my little boy before he goes to sleep.

“Little” I say, but he’s creeping up on six now. It doesn’t matter. He will always be my little boy.

Every night we read. Usually at least 10 minutes. Usually not more than an hour. A couple short chapters. A dozen pages. Maybe just a picture book if I’m exhausted. Maybe just a page or two. But I always try to read him something.

We worked our way through all the Little House on the Prairie books this way. We read the Hobbit together. I hope to do Narnia soon.

I may not be the best dad all the time. I travel too much. I work too much. I have a short temper. I’m overly critical. But in this one thing I know I’m doing something right. Reading at night like my mother read to me.

Right now we’re between books. We took a run at Treasure Island, and he seemed to be enjoying it fairly well. But it was requiring a lot of explanation and on-the-fly editing….

And let’s be honest here: *I* wasn’t that into it. Besides, the further we kept reading, the more concerned I was going to have to explain what sodomy was.

So tonight we were looking for something to read, and I wasn’t quite ready to start Narnia yet… so I pulled a couple books off the shelf and let him pick.

He picked this:

velveteen-rabbit-cover

The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s a book I’m terribly fond of, though I haven’t read in ages. In fact, the only piece of art I have on my wall here in my home office is a piece of art based off a quote from the book.

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(Witness the unspeakable glamor of my office.)

Yeah. I could take a better picture, but that would mean standing up. Trust me, it’s art based on a quote from the book. My mom gave it to me.

And just to be clear, it’s not that I don’t *have* any other art. It’s just that I’ve only lived here, like, six years, and I haven’t got around to decorating yet.

Anyway, I didn’t know we had a copy of this book until I pulled it off the shelf. But I was delighted when Oot picked it, because, as I’ve said, the book has a special place in my heart.  I was eager to read it after a decade or two away from it.

So I start reading, and in about three pages I’m crying so hard I can’t actually make words.

This is the passage that did it to me. It’s the same quote that’s on my wall:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Even just cutting and pasting that into the blog made me all teary again.

So there I am, sitting on the couch, crying too hard to keep reading, and Oot looks over at me and says, “Are you all right, Dad?”

Luckily, this sort of behavior isn’t something out of the blue for him. Sarah is a Olympic-caliber crier. She cries when she’s happy. When she’s sad. When she’s ambivalent. Because she loves me. Because she’s mad at me. Because she’s mad about the fact that she loves me. Pretty much any emotion, action, situation, or change in temperature can lead to weeping.

And I’m only being slightly hyperbolic here. Ten years back, I asked Sarah how much she thought she had cried in her life. Something quantifiable: volume of tears shed. She guessed it at somewhere over seven gallons. And honestly, I think she might have been conservative in her estimation.

So. Oot is no stranger to out-of-the-blue crying. He gets up off the couch, gets me a tissue, and brings it back. He’s a good boy.

As I sit there, trying to pull myself back together, I try to think of how I can explain why I’m crying. The truth is, I’m not entirely sure myself.  Sometimes a story just hits me a certain way and it destroys me. The Last Unicorn Does it all through the book. Gaiman’s Sandman in places.

But while Oot is a pretty perspicacious little guy, he doesn’t have the vocabulary I’d need to explain this. Or the experience base. Or the emotional wherewithal.

Still, I feel like I owe him an explanation. There’s nothing obviously sad in this part of the story. Not even a little. That’s got to be confusing.

“Some things are hard to explain,” I said. “Because some people know things that other people don’t.”

He’s listening to me. He nods.

“You know how you’re scared of going into the basement?” I ask him.

He nods again, his little face serious.

“That’s something you know,” I say to him. “You know that the basement is scary when it’s dark.” I pointed to myself. “I don’t know that. It’s hard for me to understand because I’m a grown-up. That means if you tell me that the basement is scary, I have to get you to explain it to me. Or I just have to trust you when you tell me it’s scary to you.”

He nods a third time. This makes sense to him. He knows that I don’t have a problem with the basement, but at the same time he knows it’s scary.

“There are some things only I know,” I tell him. “When I read this part of the book, I get happy and sad and I can’t help crying. You don’t feel that way, and it might not make sense to you, but it’s still the way I feel.”

He reached out then and patted my arm. “That’s okay, dad,” he said gently, “I believe you.”

He’s my sweet boy.

More soon,

pat

Also posted in Stories about stories. | By Pat52 Responses

Wherein I Start Reading Fifty (50) Shades of Grey

Okay, so everyone’s been talking about it for ages. Everyone’s reading these books. There’s a movie out. Articles are being written all over the place…

I tend to have a irrational aversion to things that are really popular. But at the same time, I feel its my job to be aware what the general populous is reading.

So I’ve decided to start reading 50 Shades of Grey:
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It might take me a little while….

I’ve heard that there’s some racy stuff in there, so I’ve been careful to keep Oot away, lest his innocence be irreparably harmed….

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God. He’s such a little ham. I can’t imagine where he gets it from….

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Now right now I can hear you thinking, “Pat, did you just spend 500 dollars on books just so you can make a joke on the internet?”

To which I reply: You bet your ass I did. What’s more, I don’t feel even the slightest bit bad about it.

The main reason for this is the fact that Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde is an amazingly good book. And I never feel bad about spending money on books I love. (You can see my gushy review of it over here on Goodreads.)

What’s more, I’m sure I’ll find something else fun to do with these books. Maybe I’ll go and hand them out at the movie theatre to people standing in line to see Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe I’ll just give them away to friends. Maybe we’ll include them in something we’re doing in the future for Worldbuilders.

That’s all I’ve got for today, folks. Sorry to pun and run….

pat

P.S. And just to head off people who will doubtless be asking in the comments. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey or seen the movie, so I don’t have much of an opinion on them.

That said, I have heard that they’re not a good depiction of proper BDSM behavior. Which is a shame, because tying people up (or being tied up) can be a ton of fun with the right partner if you do it in the right way. Alternately, it can be a supremely bad scene when you do it in the wrong way. Do your homework before jumping into something like this, folks.

P.P.S. There’s only two days left on on the Humble Bundle book deal. Then it’ll be gone forever.

Also posted in Fucking With You, My Iconoclastic Tendencies | By Pat69 Responses

Cutie, Crying, and the Weirding Way

I was just laying in bed with Sarah and our youngest child. He’s just a little bit over one year old.

little bug

Codename: Cutie Snoo. (Because I don’t like using my kid’s real names online.)

I don’t know how it works in other households, but in ours, a lot of the day-to-day kid activities end up happening on the bed. Sarah has a huge king-sized mattress that just rests on the floor. Partly because she likes it that way, and partly because low-to-the ground beds are easier and safer for kids.

Anyway, I’m laying in bed with Cutie. I’d come in to hang play with him when I heard him wake up from his nap.  A little later, mom joined us, because she has the boobs, and boobs make everything better.

Cutie was laying between us, nursing (on Sarah) while she and I were talking.

Then, unexpectedly, Cutie rolled over and pushed a little baby spoon he carries around with him at my mouth.

It surprised me. It bounced off my lip a little bit, and hit my teeth. It hurt just a little, about as much as it would if you poked me in the mouth with your fingernail. We’re talking… like… half a newton of force, tops.  Not enough to crack an egg.

Still, it surprised me. And it hurt just a little.

So I looked at him, and I said, “Ow.”

Didn’t shout it, didn’t bark it. Didn’t even do my disappointed dad voice.

I mention this because over the years I’ve learned my voice is a powerful thing. Where my kids are concerned, I’m one of the Bene Gesserit. I’m the Kwisatz Paterach. I’m Black Bolt.

I’m not sure why this is, exactly. I’ve got a pretty good baritone, but it’s not earthshaking by itself. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been a teacher. That I’ve been a singer. That I was a performer who never really liked using a mic until the crowds started topping 100 people and I was forced to go electric.

Maybe it’s all of those things together. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I discovered early on in my parenting career that if I wasn’t careful with my voice, I would terrify my children. Once, back when he was about 16 months old, I barked Oot’s name at him from the top of a stairway and he went into fetal crouch, trembling with animal fear.

I felt like king asshole of the universe at the time. I still do. As a parent, you slowly build a portfolio of memories. Things your children will never remember, things that you will never forget.

Standing at the top of the stairs, looking down at my terrified boy, I thought to myself, “You need to get this shit under control right now, Rothfuss…”

So I did. Slowly. Over many years.

All of this is to say that I’m very careful with my voice these days. I don’t bark. I rarely even snap or get a little sharp in my tone. There’s no need, just a little disapproval in my voice is like iron to these tiny little faen creatures I have flitting around in my life.

So. Remember where we were? Bed. Cutie. Spoon.

I looked at him and said, “Ow.” Not because he hurt me, but because I want him to know that he *can* hurt someone. He needs to learn to be careful.

“Ow,” I said. Softly.

Hearing me, Cutie turned away, facing back toward mom.

“He was trying to give you a bite,” she explained to me.

I nodded, only understanding then what he’d been trying to do with the spoon. It’s a game I’d seen Cutie play with her, but he’d never done it with me before.

Looking down at him, Sarah’s face goes concerned, then she looks up at me. “He feels bad,” she says.

Then Cutie gave a little sob. It was tiny, but it was one of those deep ones. One of the ones that comes out of you in a lump: “Uh-huh.”

When you’re a parent, you learn the different types of crying. You learn to recognize the panicked cry of a baby that’s hurt. There’s the “I can’t believe you took that away from me” cry. There’s the “I’m tired and can’t hold my shit together” cry. There’s the rare, furious red-faced rage rage rage cry. There’s the “Where’s Mom?” cry.

This wasn’t any of those. It went, “Ah-huh” and it was nothing but sadness. One sob. Pause. Then another. Then he was really crying.

He felt bad. He was sad that he’d hurt me.

I read something somewhere that said children start to develop empathy when they’re 3 years old.

I’d like to officially go on the record as saying that is bullshit.

Cutie is 13 months old. He can speak about 10 words, and those he speaks badly. He can’t run, or jump, or eat with a spoon.

But he feels bad when he hurts someone. This is something some adults have yet to learn.

He’s is my boy. My sweet boy. I am so proud of him.

pat

Also posted in babies, Cutie Snoo, How to be a Worthwhile Human Being, musings | By Pat30 Responses

… and I’m back.

Whenever I go a long time without posting on the blog, it feels like I should have something really important to say when I get back. Something newsful. Something portentous.

But I don’t. I’ve just been hanging out, catching up on my sleep, reading about a gajillion books, and spending some time with my family.

Let’s think… what news do I have to share…

Cutie is walking now. And he can say “mam” which is kind of like “mom” but about ten thousand times cuter.

We’ve started the vast packaging that is the prelude to shipping out all the prizes for Worldbuilders this year.

packages

There’s a *lot* of packages this year. A super lot….

And… that’s it. I’m just trying to remember what it’s like to have a normal life again, where I get up, spend time with my family, and get writing done every day.

It’s not a bad time. But it just doesn’t make for great stories. In a book, this is space of time that I would gloss over by saying something like, “It took me about a month to get my life straightened out after Worldbuilders…”

But if you’re looking for news of a smaller, more comfortable sort of the kind I usually post up under the hashtag #OotSays, here’s a little story.

*     *     *

Last night at bedtime, I’m reading to Oot. Instead of the two chapter books we’re reading: On the Shores of Silver Lake (With me) and Mary Poppins (With his mom) he wants a picture book, one of Richard Scarry’s.

I’ve read it before, and I don’t deal well with boredom. So:

Me: Do you know why they call it a library?

Oot: No.

Me: Because every book has one lie hidden in it. It’s right in the name: Lie-brary.

From where she’s laying in bed, I feel Sarah suddenly become alert.

Oot: What does ‘brary’ mean?

Me: It’s called that because “Brary” was the name of the first person who ever built one.

Sarah lifts up her head and gives me a scowl. That’s my payoff right there. I only do these things when she’s around. Ever since Oot was little that’s been true. It’s no fun giving an pornographic ad-lib reading of Fox in Socks to a 5 month old if there isn’t an adult around to be horrified about it.

Oot, however, is his father’s son. Which means he has a finely-tuned bullshit detector. He gives me a bit of a narrow-eyed look.

Me: I’m just teasing you. It’s a joke. It’s called a library because “Librum” is an old word for book. Libr-ary.

Oot’s face light up, and he asks me to make up jokes for all the other pictures in the book, which I happily do.

More news and musings soon,

pat

Posted in Oot | By Pat43 Responses

The Final Day: Wherein I Kiss a Llama

Over the weekend, Worldbuilders passed $681,000 in donations.

This might seem like an odd benchmark to get excited about. But $681,000 is how much money we raised last year. Passing that is a big deal for us, especially considering that we moved our big event much earlier in the year, and cut the time of the fundraiser in half.

Honestly? I was worried we wouldn’t make it. But we did. In fact, as you can see from our thermometer, we’ve rocketed far past it. As I write this, we are just about to crest over $750,000, and we still have a full day to go. Three quarters of a million dollars.

Try saying that to yourself: “We’ve raised three quarters of a million dollars for Heifer International.” It has a nice sound, doesn’t it?

Because of this, on Sunday, I went looking for a llama to kiss….

*     *     *

That’s the promise I made at the beginning of the fundraiser: if we beat last year’s total, I’d kiss whatever Heifer animal people voted for. I thought “goat” was going to be a shoe-in. But I realize now I was being hopelessly naive.

animal kiss final

It’s harder than you might think to find a llama to kiss. There are a few at nearby farms, but when we ask people if I can come kiss them, they tend to say things like: “You realize a llama will kick a hole straight through you, right?” or “Yeaaaah… Our llama isn’t really into that.” or “Son, what the hell is wrong with you?”

Then we found a place up in the north woods of Wisconsin. A Bed & Breakfast that specializes in Llama Kisses. When I heard the name of it, I knew we’d found the right place: Storybook Farm.

So I did what I normally do in these situations: I screwed things up. I was so busy trying to spread the word about the fundraiser that I didn’t call them until Sunday around 1:00 in the afternoon. That’s when I found out that they like people to make appointments *before* coming out to their place, y’know, like everyone does in civilized society.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “This is completely my fault. But this is for a fundraiser. And its ending tomorrow. And I promised people. Is there any way I could make it worth your while to fit this in today?”

They said it was okay, but I felt like an ass.

So I get in my car and start to drive the 120+ miles farther up into the northern woods of Wisconsin. The temperature was at that perfect temperature where it’s warm enough for fog, but still cold enough for water to freeze on the roads.

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(Actual footage.)

It was a long drive.

When I got there, Jim and Bonnie came out to meet me. They were kind and gracious despite the fact that I’d rudely intruded on their Sunday. They didn’t understand why I was there, so I explained about Heifer International and what we were doing with Worldbuilders.

Then I got to meet some animals. I knew I was among friends when they introduced me to Tumnus the Goat.

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And there were Llamas there too. Of course.

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I think the Llama on the right is Congo. We got to be good friends.

I don’t want to get a reputation as a player, but I will say that several of the llamas were all up ons. I think it might have been the beard.

Here’s the thing. The video is fun. I had fun kissing the llamas, which I have to say are actually really, really pretty creatures. (Don’t make this weird.)

But that isn’t the point of this story. That’s just the plot of the story. The point is what happened next.

The owners of the place, Jim and Bonnie, spent an hour out in the muddy field with me, helping me out. Introducing me to the llamas. Bonnie got the Santa hat for me to wear. Jim engaged in llama distraction when it was needed and gave me the grain I used to tempt them into kissing me. (Don’t judge.) Bonnie worked the camera.

They spent an hour out in the freezing drizzle on their Sunday, helping me out. A Sunday I had rudely interrupted.

At the end of it. I tried to pay them. But they wouldn’t take my money. I explained that I knew their time was valuable, and that they had helped me keep a promise, and that’s really important to me. But they wouldn’t take my money. By that point I’d chatted with them for a while and learned that their house had burned down a while back and they were still recovering from that. I said I knew that they were running a business, and I was more than happy to…

But no. They just wouldn’t. “Take that money and buy a goat for someone,” Bonnie said.

That’s the point of the story, folks. People are good.

*     *     *

A couple days ago, Sarah made the questionable choice of reading an entire toy catalog to Oot. He showed it to me when I came home, all excited. He had circled about twenty things in it with a red pen, and explained each of them to me. There were two marble mazes. A laser game. A skeleton with removable organs. A fossil kit….

Score one for rampant consumerism.

Later on, he came into my office, clutching the magazine. He started to explain the items to me again, focusing especially on the little terrarium that is supposed to grow plants that look like brains and eyeballs, as well as carnivorous plants (A pitcher plant, I’m guessing from the illustration) and a plant that moves (A sensitive fern.)

“I remember these,” I said, interrupting him gently. “You showed this to me last night.”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “But I was just thinking that you could order all of these on your computer. Not all at once,” he said quickly. “You could do some e-mail. Then order one. Then do some more e-mail. And then order one.”

It breaks my heart that he knows how busy I am. That he feels like he has to fit himself in between my e-mails. I’ve been neglecting him during the fundraiser. today I kissed a llama more than I kissed him. That’s wrong. I’m going to start making that up to him starting tomorrow.

“Those are pretty cool,” I said to him, then added. “Did you know that some families don’t have very much money? There are some families that are so poor that the parents can’t afford to buy any toys at all for their children for Christmas?”

I was going to lead him down the garden path. Explain the concept of something like “Toys for Tots” to him. Make a plan with him about how we could go out together and buy toys for other families.

But he didn’t even give me the chance. He started chattering on almost as soon as I’d finished. “Oh,” he said. “Well if you could buy this one thing for me,” he pointed to the terrarium. “Then we could give all of those other toys to other kids.”

That was it. There was no hesitation. He didn’t have to think it through. I could see his face when I explained that some kids didn’t have toys. It was confusing to him. His is expression said the five-year-old equivalent of “Some kids have no toys? Seriously? What the Actual Fuck?”

So they should get all these other things. He was fine with just one present.

He’s my sweet boy. He’s good. That’s the moral of the story here. He gets it. It’s just sharing. It’s simple.

*     *     *

I’ve been seeing this happen all over the place during the fundraiser. I’m guessing you’ve seen a lot of it too….

For example, since Worldbuilders started early this year, some people were unable to participate. But regular blog commenters dorwinrin, Kthaeh, and Karissima got in contact with us, and set up a donation in honor of a commenter they saw who said they couldn’t kick anything in this year.

Here’s a comment someone made on the blog early on in the fundraiser:

“I’m pretty poor, but my wife and I have decided to refrain from ordering any takeout this month and put the resultant savings into Worldbuilders. I always forgot to donate in past years, but not this time!”

 But probably my favorite success story of the fundraiser is this one:

Charlotte's Page 12.14

Those of you who have been following the blog closely should recognize Charlotte.  Last week on the blog I mentioned that she’d shot a video and started her own donation page as part of our Worldbuilders fundraiser. She wanted to raise $500 for a Heifer, and so far people have chipped in enough money that she’s up in the top 5 supporting fundraisers now:

top fundrasiers 12.14

It looks like she’s going to overtake the NaNoWriMo page soon….

On her page, folks have left comments like this:

Ruth Hallows

One of my favorite new things about Heifer’s new donation platform is the ability of people to make their own pages in support of our team. That means groups can get together and fundraise for Worldbuidlers while letting their particular geek flags fly. For example, the Wayward Backers is a group of people who banded together on facebook after they got to know each other during my first kickstarter campaign.

And there are warm fuzzies galore in the comments, like this one from the WriMos page:

“I recently got a scholarship out of nowhere, and I wanted to pay it forward somehow. I have been reading Pat’s blog for years, so this was perfect.”

Or these, from the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Club:

“I’ve wanted to donate for several years but haven’t been able to. This year we stumbled on a little unexpected income and decided this was the best use for it.”

“My grandmother passed away this week. She was a very charitable person. In her honor, I’d love to offer what little support I can muster at the moment to give to this wonderful organization.”

Or Team Nerdfighteria:

“This is my fourth year donating. The first year, a goat. Every subsequent year, $250-300. I’m truly happy that, despite everything, I’m able to scrape together a decent amount of money to donate to the wonderful cause that is Heifer. Thanks Pat (and Amanda, and all the other helpers, donators, etc.) for publicizing and pushing this. I probably wouldn’t have started giving to charities if not for Worldbuilders. Thank you so much for encouraging me to be a positive force in the world.”

*     *     *

I could go on and on. But I’ll stop. Suffice to say that you’ve all impressed me yet again.

Let me leave you with a picture.

A couple days ago we took a picture of all the prizes we’re giving away for this year’s fundraiser. We had to do it as a panoramic, because… well… you can see why.

Prize Wall - all of it

Note that this picture doesn’t even include the 1000+ Mayfair games we’re giving away.

Last year we gave away about 1100 prizes. This year we giving away more than 2500. And many of those prizes contain multiple books and/or games. That means your odds of winning are really ridiculously good this year.

If you donate enough for honeybees ($30) you’ve got a 12% chance of winning something. Give a family a goat ($120) you’ve got a better than 40% chance of winning. Enough for a well that provides clean water ($300) and you’re up at 72%.

Prizes include signed and rare books, all manner of games, and, of course, the three favors from me….

Today’s your last chance to jump in. Tomorrow will be too late.

Here’s the link to donate.

Don’t miss it.

Also posted in Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat62 Responses

Making Change With My Boy

For those of you who don’t know, I have a little boy. I won’t tell you his name, because his name is his own business. And he’ll share it with the world when he’s ready.

Online, I refer to him as Oot.

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He is my heart’s delight. He is my sweet boy.

This is a story about him. Because that’s what I do. I tell stories.

*     *     *

A while back, I wrote a blog about my change jar.

Unspeakable Wealth

(Yeah. My kitchen is pretty orange.)

In that long-ago blog, I talked about how strange it is for me to have quarters in my change jar. For the majority of my life, the quarters have been picked out to make ends meet when times get tight. There’s been a lot of time when my change jar didn’t have many dimes in it either….

In brief, my change jar is a constant reminder to me that I am rich.

One of the things I like about Heifer is that they can do a lot with a little. Even when my change jar was mostly nickles and pennies, even if all I could scrounge up was twenty bucks at the end of the year, I knew Heifer could use that money to change someone’s life.

These last couple years, I’ve developed a habit of taking my change jar to the bank, cashing it out, and donating that money to Heifer at the end of the Worldbuilders fundraiser. I make other donations too, of course. But this one is special to me.

The change jar is really cool to Oot. Part of this is because we kept all coins away from him for a long while after he swallowed that dime. But the bigger part of it is that he has my genes, and that means he thinks coins are cool. Because they are.

20131005_173817_2

(Luckily, he did not inherit my fashion sense.)

So last year when I was getting ready to take my coins to the bank, Oot asked if he could help. He didn’t really know what I was doing, he mostly just wanted to play with the coins and spend time with me. I’d been busy with the fundraiser, and he hadn’t seen much of me.

First he moved all his coins into his lunchbox. Then he found a new jar he liked better and started moving all the coins into that instead.

While I was waiting, I asked him what we should do with the change from the jar.

Honestly, I was expecting this to be a teachable moment. I was going to explain why we should help other people. Why that was important.

But he didn’t need that explained. He was on board from the beginning. They don’t have chocolate? We should give them some. Not enough food? We should give people seeds. We should give people water. We should give people a cow so they can have milk to drink.

I swear I didn’t coach him at all. This video is edited for time, but if you like, you can watch the full video over here. It shows more of his thought process, as well as me breaking down crying at the end. (Oot didn’t understand why, and sweet boy that he is, he offered to go get me a tissue.)

I could claim I got all weepy because I was low on sleep and a little emotionally fragile at the end of last year’s fundraiser. But while it does tend to be an exhausting time of year for me, that wouldn’t really be the truth. The truth is that he’s so good that it just breaks my heart.

The world seems so bleak sometimes. But he gives me hope. Y’all give me hope too. Every year Worldbuilders reminds me that there a lot of people in the world who want to make things better. You have no idea how much that means to me.

Thanks so much, everyone.

Here’s a link to our donation page if you’d like to chip in.

*     *     *

A few pieces of news today. Note our shiny new widget.

Because I have been known to suck at math, the fabulous Vi Hart lent us her considerable calculatory skills to determine how likely you are to win a prize in the Worldbuilders lottery based on how much you donate.

The odds are *really* good this year. We made our tech guys double check that they were pulling numbers from the right place. It’s absurd how good the odds are, and we’re not even done adding prizes yet.

In other news, the Worldbuilders Team is livestreaming the entire day in the office. I’ll probably be strolling through there as well like a great shambling mythical beast.

We’ve got an AMA tonight as well, along with some of the faboo authors that are helping us out. So feel free to swing by there with your questions. We’ll have answers. Or at least a sleep-deprived level of snark….

One last time, here’s the link to donate.

And here’s the link to the blog that explains all the details of the fundraiser.

Later Space Cowboys,

pat

Also posted in Warm Fuzzies, Worldbuilders 2014 | By Pat43 Responses
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