Category Archives: Oot

The Tenuous Serenity of Not-Knowing

As I start writing this, it’s the morning of November 4th. The day after the election. It’s an event I’m guessing folks will eventually refer to in historical if not straight-up superlative terms: The French Revolution. The The War of 1812, The Tungusta event, the Election of 2020.

(Actual Footage)

This is, as they say, a big one. It feels melodramatic to say, “This is the election that will define America,” but it’s probably true. More than that, I hope this *isn’t* the election that shows what America has become.

Despite the fact that the election was yesterday, I don’t know the results. I did what I could leading up to the event. Donated money to places that fight voter suppression. I helped make arrangements so everyone who works for me or Worldbuilders had the day off so that they could vote or support other people who wanted to vote. I’d made sure friends were voting. Years ago, I started a newsletter with the hope of urging people to political awareness/activism, and it’s been trundling along quietly ever since.

Of course, this morning all I can think about is that I could have done more. That I should have done more. I always feel like I should be doing more.

Nevertheless, I don’t know how the election turned out because last night I focused on spending time with my boys. After I finished my afternoon meetings, we went for a walk. Then we made dinner plans. Then I read them a chapter of Slow Regard. (Something I started a while back on a lark, I wondered if they would enjoy hearing me read, and was startled at how into it they were. I could write an entire *other* blog post about what that’s been like all by itself.)

We read together and we cuddled. We brought the empty garbage cans back to the house. Did some chores. Had a feelings talk. Made and ate dinner together. Cleaned up and did the dishes and had our evening treat:

(Tim-Tams sent to me by the lovely folks at Ludo Cherry.)

Then we did our fun thing for the evening. We were going to watch Kipo and some Adventure Time. But when the time came, our mood had shifted, and instead we watched some Youtube videos: one about a guy called Rollerman, and another about people who do that thing where they jump off mountains and glide like flying squirrels.

After each video, I told the boys that I loved them. I told them I would always support them in whatever they chose to do in their lives. I told them their bodies belonged to them, and they were the only ones who got to decide what happened to them.

I also told them that I admired these people in the videos. And that flying down a mountain looked really cool, and part of me wishes I could do it. And that I was glad that there were people in the world who were willing to pursue amazing feats like that.

BUT I also told them that they could never do either of those things. Ever. They agreed.

We then watched some Minecraft videos. (We’re partial to the flavor of brilliant madness produced by Dream and his friends.) After that, the boys told me that while my choices were my own, and I was an adult and free to do as I liked, that I should never *ever* mine straight down. Especially when I was in the Never and wearing all our best equipment. I agreed.

We have a good relationship.

Then it was washing face and hands. Brushing teeth. And, because we managed to hit our bedtime, we got to read, so I read them the final two chapters of Slow Regard, and we talked about it until they fell asleep.

That was my evening. At no point did I poke my nose onto the internet to find out what was happening with the Election. There was nothing I could do at this point but worry, so I avoided it. This is a skill I’ve been trying to develop this last year: The Life-Changing Magic of Sometimes Just Not Thinking About It. (TM)

Today, I still don’t know what’s up. It’s the boy’s busiest school day, they each have three zoom classes. Breakfast and lunch. Tidy the house. A little e-mail. Setting up a video play date. There’s a lot to keep busy with…

(One of the things I’m keeping busy with is this blog. Pecking away at it here or there. Right now Oot is having his virtual Spanish class while Cutie is listening to the audiobook version of Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess. (Yup, there are novel versions of the amazing comic. They’re both written by the Foglios, and if you buy it off that link you’re *also* supporting Worldbuilders.)

But here’s the thing, as the day progresses, I still don’t want to get into my e-mail or on social media for fear of seeing news about the election. Don’t want to message anyone for fear they’ll let something slip and shatter my fragile not-knowing.

Last night this was such a good strategy. I was proud of it. I was peaceful. I felt I’d made a healthy choice and enjoyed quality time with my boys rather than engage in pointless, self-destructive media engagement.

But today I’m walking on eggshells. The boys and I rake leaves and I think, “Surely if Trump was voted out, one of my friends would have pinged me with delighted crowing… so that must mean he’s still in.”

Then I think, “Surely if Trump was still in, one of my friends would have been unable to avoid howling in agony in my direction, so he must be out?” Plus I’m pretty sure it would be raining blood and the sky would be the color of burning tar.

But nothing is happening. It’s a really nice day out. We rake crispy bright-coloured leaves. We eat pickles and biscuits and soup for lunch. The boys practice their knitting.

I know something big must be happening, but right now it can’t touch me. I’m in an odd liminal state that reminds me nothing so much as when my mother died.

That’s a story I don’t know if I’ve ever told on the blog. Simply said: I got the call in the middle of the class I was teaching. I had a strict no-phone policy, but I’d told my students I had family stuff going on, and I might have to answer the phone if a doctor called. I stepped into the hallway, found out she was dead, then went back into the room and taught the rest of the class. Then I taught my next class too. Only they did I go home, get in my car, and head down to Madison to spend time with my Dad and Sister.

When I came back to Stevens Point two days later, I hung out with a friend. It’s so odd to think of now. I haven’t had local friends in ages, so the thought of just meeting someone casually for lunch seems so odd. Doubly odd now, as after the last 8 months, just the memory of eating in a restaurant feels surreal.

But back then it was odd for a different reason. This was back in 2007, two months before my book was published. Way back when I had local friends in town. All of them knew what was going on: that my mom had the sort of cancer you didn’t get better from.

I wasn’t on social media in a meaningful way. Social media didn’t really exist in the same way back then. The only reason I’d finally caved and bought a cell phone at all was because my mom was sick. As a result, my friend didn’t know my mom was dead.

When we got together to hang out, I didn’t tell them. Part of it was the fact that I couldn’t imagine how to bring it up. But the bigger part was that if I didn’t tell my friend the news, for the space of the meal I didn’t have to live in a place where my mom was gone. Down in Madison everyone knew. We were making funeral plans. Consoling each other. Offering support. I was soaked through with the incessant oppressive reality of her utter non-existence.

But my friend didn’t know. They weren’t sad about it. They didn’t mourn at me. Didn’t offer comfort. That meant that back in Point, for the space of a meal, things could just be normal a little while longer. Just for a while.

That’s what I feel like today.

As I finish writing this blog, it’s 3 AM on November 5th, two days after the election. I spent the day with my boys and despite my best efforts, I’ve become dimly, inexorably aware of the fact that it’s not just me that doesn’t know what’s up with the election. Apparently everyone’s in a liminal state. I still haven’t checked the news.

I’m not sure if I’ll post this. It certainly won’t be the first blog I’ve written and then left to lay fallow here.

If I do launch it. I hope y’all are doing as well as can be reasonably expected. I hope you’re experiencing a flavor of not-knowing you enjoy, or at least find pleasantly palliative. I hope for all of us, this isn’t merely the joyful bliss of an unseen iceberg. I hope for all of us, it’s more the tense uncertainty that comes before opening a gift you’ve been desperately desiring.

Or, if not that, a gift like the ones my grandfather gave me ages ago: a pair of soft pajama pants, wool socks, traction grips that fit my shoes for ease of winter walking….

Not gifts I wanted at that age. Gifts that were, quite frankly, annoying and irritating in the moment. But also the only gifts I used for decades afterwards. Gifts that improved my life in small, meaningful, persistent ways.

Here’s hoping,

pat

Also posted in a ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms, Cutie Snoo, ethical conundra, mom, musings, the man behind the curtain, things I shouldn't talk about | By Pat115 Responses

One Good Thing #3

Also posted in Cutie Snoo, One Good Thing | By PatComments closed

One Good Thing #2

In an effort to get back into blogging while also focusing the positive things in my life, I’m trying something I think of as “One Good Thing” where I share a good thing out of my day.

This is one of those things:

*     *     *

Today I was hanging out with my boys, and I said, utterly unironically, “Jeepers Cripes.”

(I honestly don’t know why. As a lot of you know, especially if you’ve seen me in person or watched me livestream, I curse like a sailor with a broken leg an will happily shout “Motherfucker!” at the slightest provocation.

That said, I do tend to use different language around the boys, so maybe this isn’t that odd.)

Okay. So. As I said, I was hanging out with my boys, and I said, “Jeepers Cripes.”

Cutie: That would be funny if you said, “Jeepers Crepes.”

Oot: Delicious.

Cutie: That would be a curse word in the Candy Kingdom.

Cutie preparing something for Experimental Sandwich Night using a tortilla,  peanut butter, raspberry jam, and what is known in our house as “garbage cheese.” It could be fairly said that this is about as close to a “Jeepers Crepes” as you are ever likely to see in this world.

*     *     *

Internet went out at my house last night, so I wasn’t able to livestream, tweet, or write a blog to promote the fundraiser or talk about the new items we have going up.

That said, things are going well. We’ve raised over $80,000 so far, which I feel is pretty good given, well, covid and the general state of the world.

That said, we have posted up a *bunch* of new things today, most of them limited in quantity, some of them purely digital (for those of you who live overseas and don’t want to pay crazy shipping), many of them severely discounted…

So if you’re interested in grabbing stuff, keep in mind that there’s only 3 days left before it’s over.

Take care of each other,

pat

 

Also posted in Cutie Snoo, Experimental Sandwitch, One Good Thing | By Pat22 Responses

Crapping Presents: In Which Oot is Cute

Heya everybody,

It’s been a while since I told a story about my kids here on the blog. And over the last couple days, my kids have been *particularly* fucking cute. So I figured this was as good a time as any to break my dry spell…

My little boys are, despite my best efforts, getting older. Oot is ten, and just a little while back, Cutie (also known as Cutie Snoo) turned an almost incomprehensible six years old.

(Here they are at Gamehole Con, dressed up as squids.)

Now some of you might think that the costumes they’re wearing look suspiciously like those costumes people buy for their dogs at Target. And some of you would be right. But my kids don’t know that. And I don’t plan on telling them. And also they were super cheap. Also shut up. Also, I’m an awesome dad.

Also also, just because it’s been a while since I’ve talked about the boys here on the blog, I should make it clear that Oot and Cutie Snoo aren’t their real names. I keep their real names private because I talk about them and share pictures of them on the internet. Using public names gives them a bit of privacy and safety. If they really want to be internet famous, they can make that decision for themselves when they grow up. I don’t want to make it for them.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve been wanting to tell a cute kid story for a while now, and for a similar amount of while, I thought that that story was going to involve the time that I heard them playing in their room together.

“What are you guys doing?” I asked.

“We were playing M&M!” Cutie chirrups.

“What’s that?” says me, the very good dad who would never dress his kids in dog costumes unless, of course, they were super cheap and his kids looked amazingly adorable in them.

“It’s kinda like D&D,” says Oot. “Except without the dice.”

Which is to say that what they were *really* doing was telling stories together.

I hope I don’t need to stress to you how ebullient that makes me feel. I’ve been telling them stories for years now. Little adventure tales where they are characters and they solve problems or make choices that shape the narrative. It’s like role playing without the roll, if you catch my meaning.

And now, apparently, they’re doing it with each other….

I’ll be honest with y’all. I wish I had that story on tape. Partly so *I* would get to listen to it all, but also so I could share it with you. All I really caught from listening in the hallway was that someone had stolen someone else’s socks. Further inquiry informed me that Cutie was originally going to be a Frost Gecko who would eventually transform into an Ice Dragon. But then he became a Flame Raven. But now he was a human because he needed to have a backpack because… honestly. I don’t remember why. Probably just Because Backpacks, I’m guessing.

(Also, I think he had a shock toad as a pet? And it ate battery flies? I don’t have any more context than that for you, sorry.)

But that story, sadly, will have to wait for another time. Maybe I can get lucky and get them to continue it on tape at some point.

For now, as I was saying, my boys = cute and awesome. Also, my littler, Codename Cutie, just recently had a birthday.

So. Cue the music. Cute story time.

*     *     *

The other day, I had a remarkably large amount of fun going shopping for Cutie’s birthday presents with Oot. This didn’t used to be the case, as little kids, by and large, are more interested in getting presents than giving them. And taking a kid to a toy store and telling them over and over, “Yes, I know YOU like that Frozen 2 Drum Set (TM) and the Farting Kermit the Frog plushy with RealStinq technology, but we’re shopping for your brother, remember…?”

But this year, shopping was such a delight. Oot had ideas of his own. Things *he* wanted to shop for. Even picked out his own card, which is one of the best I’ve ever seen:

But wait, it gets better.

One of the things I struggle with a lot as a parent is *not* doing things for my boys. Especially when we’re in a hurry. Especially when I can see my boys are struggling.

This may not make sense to a lot of y’all, but I think one of my main jobs as a dad is to let my children struggle. They need to try things, fail, be frustrated, fail again, get irritated, try again, then eventually get something done and be generally disappointed in the fact that it hasn’t turned out as well as they’d hoped.

But it’s HARD. I’m a fixer. I’m a helper. I want to make their lives easy. I want to offer assistance, give advice, and help them *avoid* disappointment.

Still, I strive to leave them be and force them to do things themselves even when they’re bad at it. Because doing things yourself is the only way you get better.

I’ve done this for years with Oot, one of my earliest memories of this was him around 2 years old. We’re in the kitchen, and I’m watching him try to cut a potato with a butter knife for AGES while my fingers twitch with the almost overwhelming desire to step forward and say, “Here, let me help….”

Fast forward to now. He’s 10. He’s picked out his own presents. He knew exactly the wrapping paper he wanted. Picked out the bow he wanted, too.

We were a little late for the party. Time was tight. He didn’t want to be late. I asked him if he wanted me to help him cut the wrapping paper… and he said no, thanks anyway, he’d rather wrap it himself…

Then he wrapped this:

I am going to be completely honest here. This is more fastidiously wrapped than anything I’ve done in my whole life. This will probably shock none of you, but when I wrap things… pretty isn’t the word that leaps to mind.

Here, for example, is a prize package that I wrapped for the Worldbuilders lottery years and years ago…

(Click to embiggen.)

Needless to say, they don’t let me help with that anymore.

But here’s my boy, age 10, doing this:

Then this:

Whatever gene governs this ability must be recessive, because it certainly didn’t manifest in me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love how beautiful my boy’s presents turned out. I love that he cared about making something beautiful for his brother. And I love seeing him be better at something with me.

But that wasn’t the really excellent part.

This was:

Then:

And finally:

The final result: a present that looks like it was wrapped by an angry badger. It looks like Oot  either didn’t care at all, or that he really couldn’t use tape to save his life. We spent so much time strategizing about how to make it look crappy, laughing and laughing. It was 15 minutes of pure joy. Joy the likes of which I rarely experience these days. Quite literally the most raw and perfect happiness I’ve had in a week.

As we were getting ready to take him to the party, I looked at the package and started to laugh.

“It’s such crappy wrapping!” I said.

“Crapping,” Oot corrected me, making a portmanteau of the words. (I should teach him that term, now that I think of it.)

“You did a good job crapping that present,” I said.

“We crapped it together,” he said, grinning like a maniac.

And we continued like that, back and forth, all the way to the party.

*     *     *

It’s been too long since I shared something like this with y’all. It feels nice.

As an interesting side-note for those of you who are interested in my writing process, I wrote this blog live on my Twitch Stream as part of the daily livestreaming that I do to promote our yearly fundraiser.

If you’re interested in seeing things like that, you could wander over and give my Twitch page a follow.

Alternately, you can visit Oot’s Team page for the fundraiser over here. He’s really excited about raising money for Worldbuilders.

In other news, the Worldbuilders Auctions are in their final day. If you haven’t wandered over there to take a look at what’s being offered, you’re really missing out. There’s some truly unique items there, and all the proceeds go to charity.

And lastly but not leastly, tomorrow (Sunday the 15th) I’m doing a special livestream where I talk about the upcoming liveplay podcast I’m doing set in my world with the One Shot Podcast Network.

(That will be over on my twitch stream too)

That’s all for now, but stay tuned. The fundraiser is over in just a couple days, and we’re going to have cool things happening every day until the end…

See you later space cowboys…

pat

Also posted in Arts and Crafts, Beautiful Games, Cutie Snoo, small adventures | By Pat30 Responses

A Dream of Cows….

Hey there everyone,

As I write this, the fundraiser is closing in fast on three-quarters of a million dollars and there are only three days left.

I’ve been working pretty solid 12-16 hour days for a while, and I’m starting to feel it. So today I’m going to keep it simple and share a video of my little boy: Codename Oot.

For the last couple years, Oot has had his own team page for the fundraiser because he wants to raise money for cows. This year, he had the bright idea of painting some pictures he’s going to give away on that team page, to encourage people to donate.

This is “Cow in the Morning.”

This is “Cow in space.” (I didn’t do a good job of catching the gold painted stars on this one. But they’re pretty great in better light.)

Here’s a third one: “Red Cow in the Desert.”

When I asked him if the red cow had a sunburn because it was in the desert, he just looked at me for a while as if he were confused. Then he said in a slightly exasperated tone, as if he really couldn’t believe I’d asked the question, “Is the cow in space blue just because it’s in space?”

So yeah. That’s fair. I’m obviously overthinking it. I didn’t question the blue cow. Why should I question the red one?

A few quick notes before I turn in for the night:

  • Anyone who donates on Oot’s Cow Jar page is also eligible for the daily prize draws and stretch goals on my page.
  • You’re also eligible for the $170,000 worth of books and games we’re giving away, too.
  • My younger boy, Cutie, has painted some pictures, as well. Including quite a nice one of a duck. We’ll be putting those up on Oot’s change jar page soon too. (I’d do that myself right now, but it’s three in the morning and I need to be up in less than five hours.)
  • If you’d like a graphic that would help you promote the fundraiser on social media, here you go:

Here’s another link to Oot’s Page, if you’re feeling like you might want to help make the world a better place.

See a bunch of you on the stream later tonight,

Spread the word.

pat

Also posted in Cutie Snoo, love, My Mom Would Like This Blog, Worldbuilders, Worldbuilders 2018 | By Pat18 Responses

Giving Tuesday: For the Love of Cows

As I type this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $279,000 dollars.

It’s also Giving Tuesday. And I’m going to be honest with you. Part of me really wants to be snarky about that. This year someone used the term “Thanksgiving Eve” around me, and I went on a tirade because no. No there is no such thing as that. We started with Thanksgiving. Then we got Black Friday and that was fine. Then there was small business Saturday and that was kinda okay. Because yay, small businesses…

But then there was Cyber Monday too, and you know what? Not everything has to have a day. Sometimes it’s just Wednesday. So no, thank you very much, it’s not Thanksgiving Eve.

So I’m going to be honest with you. I feel a little bit the same about Giving Tuesday. That cussed, contrary part of me *really* wants to have a problem with it. It feels kinda… artificial.

Boy, this isn’t the best way to start off a charity blog, is it? I’m doing this all wrong.

Here’s the thing. No matter how I happen to feel right now, today is still Giving Tuesday. It’s a day when a lot of people feel moved to donate to charity. And even at my most curmudgeonly, I think that’s pretty great.

And *because* it’s Giving Tuesday, I’m supposed to write a blog that will inspire y’all. To be generous. To dig deep. To think of others. To pick Worldbuilders as your charity of choice, donate, (and maybe win some fabulous prizes while you’re at it.)

I’ve written those blogs in the past. Typically about halfway through the fundraiser I get caught up in the excitement, write something passionate, and y’all warm my bitter heart & stomp out to donate. This has happened ever year so far, and it reinforces my belief that humanity is good. And that geeks in particular are lovely, empathetic, large-hearted individuals.

But this year… I don’t really have a great idea for a blog. I… honestly? I just feel so tired. Every day the news beats me down a little more. Every day it seems like the world is a little more on fire. Every day it seems like we’re just a little closer to the brink.

And we just had my dad’s funeral this weekend. I’m not bouncing back from that as quickly as I thought I would.

But the fact remains that it’s Giving Tuesday. And I’m the only one who can write this blog. So I’m writing a blog. And, apparently, I’m determined to make a mess of it. This really isn’t how it’s supposed to go….

*     *     *

I just got up from the computer and had a walk, pretty convinced that when I sat down again, I’d have to erase what I’d written and start over.

But instead, I found this on my dining room table.

(Click to embiggen)

This is a box my son brought over to my house a couple weeks ago at the beginning of our fundraiser. It’s full of change he’s been collecting all year. He *really* wants to get enough to buy a cow for a family through for Heifer International.

If you want to know why, here’s the video from a couple years ago:

My boy knows a cow costs $500, and he’s been working at it tirelessly. He scrounges the house for change, going through our pants pockets and couch cushions. He has emptied both his own piggy bank and his brother’s. He opened a store after Halloween, selling his candy haul piece by piece to anyone who came over to the house….

Sometimes he just straight-up shakes people down for money, explaining how helpful a cow can be to a family that doesn’t have much food or money. In fact, just this weekend at my dad’s visitation, I found out he was offering funeral home mints to people for a quarter. I explained, gently, that this might not be the best place for that. But not before he brought me a check a kind soul had written out to Worldbuilders.

Somehow I don’t think my dad would mind. Especially not given what I found in the box just now.

I think this must have come from a letter they exchanged over the last year. My dad wasn’t an easy man to persuade, but he had a soft spot for my little boy….

I don’t know if I have a real point to sharing this with you except to say that finding this box made me feel… happy. I feel proud of my boy. And right now, when my own enthusiasm is at a little bit of a low ebb, it’s nice to be able to borrow a little bit of excitement.

If you want to be excited about what a cow can do for a family, you should watch this video. It’s not even two minutes long.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to show my boy that video. We’ll count his change and we’ll talk about cows.

In fact, I’m going to invite him to come livestream with me tomorrow, too. (For the next two weeks, I’m streaming to raise awareness of our fundraiser 4-7 CST every day.) Tomorrow, he and I will do it as a team. We’ll play some video games and talk about cows.

You can come on over to my stream and meet him, if you like. Maybe a little of his enthusiasm will rub off on you too.

That seems like a nice way to spend Giving Tuesday.

[edit: Amanda here! We’ve made a team page to support Oot and his change jar, so if you want to help him raise enough for a cow, you can donate here.]

*     *     *

Just to be clear, Heifer International doesn’t just deal in cows. It works with people around the world to improve their lives in the long term. They don’t give people a loaf of bread or a sack of rice. They provide animals and materials sometimes. But more importantly they provide education. They provide the training and tools to become better, more efficient farmers and business people.

Take Félix Octavio Rosales for example. He’d been farming for many years before he received Heifer training as a part of the Healthy and Sovereign Land project.

Félix and his wife, Mrs. Gómez, had been using chemical fertilizers and pesticides without understanding what they were doing and the harm they were causing to not just their farm, but their health.

They attended multiple workshops and training sessions with the Healthy and Sovereign Land project and were educated in how to make their own fertilizers and pesticides naturally. Instead of spending money on agricultural chemicals, they made their own out of the rabbit and guinea pig manure they already had at hand. Their soil has become nutrient rich, and the produce yield has increased significantly.

Mrs. Gómez has been able to sell the additional produce at the weekly market fair, empowering her to contribute income to her family.

“Another change is in my health,” Félix said. “I see this reflected in the way I feel when I work and when I have to walk long distances; I feel better. I see these changes because the food we eat is natural, without chemicals.”

And all of this was through education alone, provided by Heifer International.

The projects that involve gifts like chickens require training too, like Ndiolle Faye went through.

For many years, Faye’s family lived in poverty, struggling to get two meals a day during the off-season on their farm, and eating mostly millet the rest of the year. Faye was unable to go to school as a child, and though she tried to make it a priority to send her children to school, there was never enough money.

Then Faye joined the Wax Bakh Self-Help Group as a part of a Heifer project.

“Assistance started with a series of trainings, building a hen house and the placement of four hens and an improved breed rooster,” she said. “There was great joy in my family and in the  community. I saw this as an opportunity to move ahead in life.”

She received the gift of a flock of chickens, which quickly grew from 5 birds to 155. Her family’s income greatly increased, and she was able to run a business as she’d always hoped to do.

Less than two years later, she had sold more than 100 chickens. She used that money to buy 2 young rams for the purpose of fattening them up and re-selling them, providing more income and further diversifying her farm. Now she buys and sells rams three times a year, and invests the money into her poultry farm as well as saving more for her family.

She no longer worries about paying for her children’s education. If she doesn’t have the money, she can simply sell some of her chickens at the beginning of the semester to pay for school fees, new clothes, and supplies.

By integrating livestock and agriculture, she increased her income while improving her family’s food security and nutrition. Growing the flock increased the quantity of manure available, which she used to replenish the soil. As a result, her farm yield has increased by 20 percent. She keeps a portion of the harvested produce to add nutritional diversity to their meals.

Now, two years after receiving her flock of chickens, her family eats three nutritious and diverse meals daily, all year long.

Faye has also participated in the Heifer Cornerstone of Passing on the Gift, where she shares her training and a starter flock of birds to families who are in need.

And get this: As of today, she has Passed on the Gift to 11 different families.

“I am a happy woman. I meet my needs, and support my family. I own a poultry farm and we eat well. I can sell poultry anytime we face any challenge. We eat eggs and chicken as we want. And I have basic livestock husbandry skills – all thanks to the Smallholder Income and Nutrition Project.”

***

Okay. Now I’m into it again. I’m excited. Are you feeling it? Because I’m feeling it….

This is what we’re doing with our fundraiser, folks. This is what Heifer International does, and everything you donate to the fundraiser goes to help programs like this.

The gift of Bountiful Harvest training costs $72.

The gift of a flock of chickens, and the training necessary to raise them, is only $20.

Clean water for a whole village costs $300.

A cow, of course, costs $500 dollars. As my son will no doubt explain to you tomorrow on our livestream.

If the world is getting you down, try joining us here at Worldbuilders. You can give a family the chance to be self-reliant. You can help parents feed their children. You can literally change someone’s life forever. Seriously.

Here’s that donate link one more time.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Heifer International, Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat9 Responses

Making Change

Heya folks,

We’re four days into this year’s Geeks Doing Good fundraiser. I hope you’ve been enjoying it as much as I have. I’ll admit that I spend a lot of this week refreshing the fundraiser page to see how much we’ve raised.

(Hint – right now we’re at just over $90,000 dollars. Which is pretty good for four days….)

Today I’m going to talk about one of the items we’re trying out for the first time this year: Change Jars.

I’ve talked on the blog before about my own change jar. For the lion’s share of my life, you could tell a lot about my financial well being by the state of my change jar. If it had quarters in it, you know that I was doing pretty well for myself. But more often, those were picked out for laundry, or even to pay for food. During the leaner times there weren’t many dimes in there either….

So these days, when I look at my change jar seeing all those quarters is a constant reminder of how well I’m doing.

A couple years ago, I practiced counting with Oot, my young son, and then recorded a video with him where he really suprised me.

Here it is for those of you who haven’t seen it:

I’m sorry about the vertical nature of the video. I was hoping to catch a teachable moment on video with my son, explaining to him that we could use our change to help people. But he beat me to the punch with almost every point I wanted to make. (You can see the unedited version of the video here if you’re possessed with the strong desire to see me break down crying.)

Anyway, ever since then, the change jar in our house has been referred to as a Cow Jar. Whenever Oot would find a coin, that’s where he would put it. If someone gave him some money, he would typically put it there. The enterprising little guy even set up a store in our house, selling the candy he got for Halloween so he could get more money for the Cow Jar.

After two and a half years, Oot was sure we had enough for a cow. So we took my change jar, Sarah’s change jar, the change jar in my office…. pretty much all the change jars in the house, combined them, and we ended up with this video….

We didn’t end up with quite enough for a cow. And while Oot was a little disappointed, he has redoubled his efforts to save enough money for a cow by Christmas time.

I was thinking about this when we were developing our product ideas for this year. Every couple days when I put my change into a bowl by the door, I smile and think about buying a cow. What’s more, I think about how much fun it will be to count out the change with my little boys. It’s a good way to sneak a little math into a project, while getting them to think about giving to people less fortunate than themselves.

I thought it might be fun to share this family tradition with you.

Back in December, we worked with some local Wisconsinites to make Eolian Mugs. Those worked out so well that they’re making stone Eolian coasters for this year’s fundraiser…

So I asked them if they could come up some change jars, for those of you who… I don’t know, really. Maybe for those of you who have kids and would like to show them that thinking about helping others can be part of your everyday life. Or maybe you’re a fan of Worldbuilders, and putting saving up for a goat will make you happy. Maybe you’re more high-class than I am, and you want something more attractive for your loose change than the cereal bowl I’m currently using.

Or maybe you’d just like to join Oot in his quest to gather change and make the world a better place. I think we might have a “Oot’s Change Jar” team this year during our holiday fundraiser, where everyone who has been saving their pocket change can join forces and be awesome together.

And here’s some jars you can use if you want to do it with some style….

We’ve got three different sizes. My people did some unlikely maths to figure out how big each jar had to be in order to fit approximately the right amount of change for each of these. But in the end, we have:

A smaller jar that fits around $20. Enough for a flock of chicks. That means eggs for eating and selling every day. To say nothing of the fact that chickens themselves improve crop yields, as they eat bugs that cause problems in gardens and small farms.

There’s a medium sized jar that should hold $60 for some tree seedlings. Trees can provide fruit and nuts that a family can eat or sell to gain financial security. Trees also provide shade, and greatly improve sustainable agriculture by preventing soil erosion.

There’s also a large jar that hold enough for a goat: $120.

I’m not shy about the fact that I love goats as a Heifer gift. A goat can easily produce more than a gallon of milk a day, enough to supply a family with some left over to sell. They’re known for having twins when they give birth, so the families are that much better at Passing on the Gift of a baby goat to other families in need.

If you already have a beloved change jar, (or if you’re just not that into pottery) you can still join Oot on his quest to turn pocket change into cows…

We’ve designed a sticker to affix to your existing jars at home for those of you who would prefer more of a low-impact way. It’s just a couple bucks over at the fundraiser….

Here’s another link to the fundraiser if you’d like to pick up a change jar, or look at some of the other things we have available there. Like signed books, cheap games, and new types of tak pieces we weren’t able to produce for the Kickstarter. (Stone and metal pieces, specifically.)

And you can also pre-order a signed copy of the 10th anniversary edition of The Name of the Wind, too. If you’re into that sort of thing.

There’s also t-shirts and… well… kind of a lot of stuff. Too much to describe here.

I just peeked over there and saw that the total is over $93,000 now. I’m hoping we can make it to $250,000 like we did last year.

But remember, there’s only a few days left to get on board…

Later space cowboys,

pat

Also posted in Geeks Doing Good, Heifer International, Worldbuilders | By Pat22 Responses
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