Elephant Trunks

For Christmas, Ollie made Grandma Kathy and Grandpa Ron some “elephant trunks”, made out of the cardboard tube from the inside of wrapping paper rolls. He also gave them a couple of extra elephant trunks, “in case [they] wanted to play with other people.”

Well, Grandma Kathy *did* want to play elephant with other people, and made Ollie a birthday video to prove it.


X’s and O’s, an explanation

In order to keep everything 100% scientific, I wanted the poll first, before the explanation, so as not to bias anybody. Naturally, once you hear my incredibly-correct explanation, your votes would immediately be swayed. :) So if you haven’t voted yet, do that first, then come back here.

Back? Okay.

It came up the other day that Sara and I didn’t agree on the meaning of the X’s and O’s at the bottom of a letter. Letters to your loved ones are sometimes signed “XOXOXO” or “XXX OOO”. As far as I know, either version is read as “hugs and kisses”.

But which ones are the hugs, and which ones are the kisses? I don’t believe anybody ever explained it in that detail; it was always just “hugs and kisses”.

Sara’s understanding was that the O’s were hugs and the X’s were kisses. The O’s represented the big round circle of your arms, and the X’s are like puckered lips. My understanding was that the X’s were hugs and the O’s were kisses. The X’s remind me of crossed arms, and the O’s are like a big round mouth coming at you.

“What, are you doing big open mouth kisses? Gross!”

(Guess it depends on who you’re sending the note to, then!)

I guess I never really spent any time wondering if I had the X’s and O’s backwards, but since we’re currently just over 70% for “The O’s stand for hugs and the X’s stand for kisses”, I guess I’m wrong. Now that I think about it, neither X’s nor O’s really remind me much of hugs. But I still stand by the fact that mouths look more like O’s than X’s, even when not doing sloppy open mouth kisses.

Show me an ‘X’ in here

Okay, but forget all of that. I can see that going either way, now that it’s been brought up. However, my smoking gun, so to speak, is the fact that you *always* start with the X’s, and you *always* say, “hugs and kisses”. XXX OOO = “hugs and kisses”. So the X’s translate to the hugs, and the O’s translate to the kisses.


A chivalrous birthday

Ollie is very clear: when he grows up, he wants to be a knight.

Now, what a knight does exactly is a little less clear. He’s aware that it involves, 1) having a shield, and 2) fighting bad guys and/or dragons. And that’s enough; sign him up.


Grandpa Ron made him a wooden sword and shield set for his birthday. “You better make a set for Evelyn,” we said, “she’s going to need to defend herself.” So he ended up making two sets. So far, no smashed fingers. (We should also have made sets for ourselves, as well as laptops, coffee cups, walls, doors, the piano…) (The cat, on the other hand, can fend for herself.)


A brave knight defends his lady

Given his fascination with knights, there was really only once choice for his birthday: Medieval Times.


My best friend’s mom took me to Medieval Times when I was a kid and it left an indelible mark on my soul. For the next 20 years of my life I literally bounced in my car seat every time we drove by the castle. I think it’s safe to say that it’s going to have a similar impact on the kids. They had a BLAST (the grownups too). It was so much fun to go with them and experience it through their eyes.

The day began with a “summons” from the king, requesting Ollie’s presence. Sara rolled it up like a scroll and tied it with some yarn. She put it outside the front door, knocked, and ran away.


I never in a million years imagined that Ollie would fall for this so spectacularly. He was absolutely convinced that a messenger from the king had left it for him. He carried it around all day and even brought it with us to the castle, “in case the king wanted to see it”. I think Ollie thought they wouldn’t let us in without the invitation.

Ollie seemed a little bit overwhelmed by everything, and spent most of the show just staring, slack-jawed. I was so glad I ended up sitting next to Evie. She had the time. of. her. life. The two of us cheered and cheered until our voices were hoarse. She was 100% invested in the show. I kept looking over to Sara, like, “are you watching this?”

I don’t think either of them knew what to expect, and it just kept getting better and better. Each new aspect was like Christmas and Easter and a birthday party wrapped in one, tied in a bow with a puppy on top. Just standing in the extended-gift-shop-turned-waiting-area was worth the trip as far as they were concerned. Ollie talked to a real knight with a real sword in his belt. Then we were doing “cheers” with soup bowls. Then there were dancing horses, and a princess, and a falcon flying over our heads, and cheering our lungs out and nobody telling us we were being too loud. And just when it couldn’t get any better, there was fighting, real fighting, with lances breaking, and people diving off of horses, and sparks coming off swords…

Evie said repeatedly it was the greatest night of her life. I believe her, too. If her eyes were shining any more, she could have seen in the dark.

Needless to say, it was a very, very successful birthday.


Quote Monday has a short memory

Sara: “One time Evie was walking on a wall like this and she fell.”
Ollie: “Did she die?”

::Me finishing reading a story::
Ollie, wistfully: “And now, the olden days don’t come around anymore.”

Ollie: “If you make me clean up, then you won’t have any presents for your birthday!”
Me: “You know what present I would like for my birthday? A clean house.”
Ollie: “Well, it’s not your birthday, so you won’t get any birthday presents today.”

Ollie: “I wish you would never die, until you don’t know how to read anymore.”

Perhaps a bit more nicely phrased than the more direct, “As long as you’re useful to me, I will let you live.”

X’s and O’s

And now, a duet

And now, for your enjoyment, a beautiful piano and accordion duet.

Because nothing says “Spring!” like “Jingle Bells”:

(Special thanks to our videographer, Oliver!)

It’s here! It’s here!

I have right now in my hot little hands a copy of the Year’s Best Young Adult Speculative Fiction, 2013.


This book includes my story, “Random Play All and the League of Awesome”.

Seriously, you guys, I’m only about half-way through the book, but so far it is amazing. These really are the best stories of 2013. I greatly enjoyed 57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides by Sam J. Miller and Selkie Stories Are for Losers by Sofia Samatar the first time around, but they were even better than I remember. Additionally, I’ve discovered excellent stories that are new to me, such as The Minotaur Girls by Tansy Rayner Roberts.

The more I read, the more honored and humbled I am to be included among such amazing stories.


I would especially like to draw your attention to the back cover, where I am only a comma and a space away from Neil Gaiman.


I think I will use that as my new cover blub: “Shane Halbach is on par with Neil Gaiman! (alphabetically)”

You can chose print, e-book, heck, why not choose both?


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