Getting somethin’ done | NNoTW December 1, 2021

My husband, Kyle, is a hockey agent.  My little sister, Erica, is a movie/television casting director.  Both of their jobs are about finding talented people and putting them in the right place(s) to maximize that talent.  As everyone in the world has talent in some shape or form (not just related to acting or men’s hockey), I am going to share the one piece of advice that they both regularly give because it basically works across the board.  And as my talent is stretching a story long beyond its necessity, I shall do that, as well.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade | NNoTW November 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am very grateful for all of you lovely readers.  In appreciation, I am going to share with you a little-known fact about myself: I once danced in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

To be fair, the only reason more people aren’t aware of this major accomplishment is that I tend to forget about it until I see the parade on TV every year because, apparently, my life is so exciting that I can’t be expected to retain every amazing thing that happens to me on an annual basis.  Anyways, here’s the story:

Shorty | NNoTW November 17, 2021

I am a 5’2” full-grown human, which is a perfectly good size.  It was a perfectly good size when I lived on the east coast, where either the quantity or average height of other fully-grown humans was seemingly closer to the neck of the body woods of my own.  It’s a perfectly good size now that I’m living back in the land of the Norwegian giants, even when I find myself in a conversation in a group of lovely hockey moms and I realize I’m talking to a bunch of shoulders.

Mrs. Teacher | NNoTW November 10, 2021

I bumped into one of my old teachers at a concert the other evening.  I say “old” in that she was previously my teacher, and also because she retired shortly after I was in her class (I have that effect on people) and when I saw her she said, “Give me a hand here, I’m old.”

She also said, “Amanda, you can call me Mary.”*

To which I responded, “Why?”

Happy Halloween | NNoTW November 3, 2021

I love Halloween because its continued non-religious success is due entirely to human kindness (and costumes).  It’s a holiday in which almost everyone over the age of 16 annually agrees to invest time and money in order to show kids a good time, and that’s it.  I am especially beloved of Halloween in North Dakota because it’s usually cold outside – it was briefly snowing as we were cajoling our six-year-old into a second sweatshirt under his costume this year – and that didn’t/doesn’t deter anyone or anything.

A mom recaps the Canucks vs Oilers game | October 30, 2021

There was a gentleman in the crowd at the Vancouver Canucks vs the Edmonton Oilers game on Saturday, October 30 holding up a sign that read, “CELEBRATING 1 YEAR CANCER FREE! THANKS FOR THE STRONG WORDS LAST YEAR KASSIAN.”  Zack Kassian currently plays for the Oilers and previously played for the Canucks, and so I’m guessing everyone on the ice was proud of him for what he did to help that fan – even when he checked one of his former teammates into the boards early on in the first period.

A mom recaps the Oilers vs Flyers game | October 27, 2021

First of all, it was both and Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) and Rasmus Ristolainen’s (Philadelphia Flyers) birthdays on Wednesday, October 27, and if the team and crowd sang happy birthday or ate cupcakes I didn’t see it.  Second, the Oilers-Flyers game didn’t start until 9:00pm CST which is too late for a school night.

Road trip | NNoTW October 27, 2021

The boys were off from school last week – and after deciding that we were definitely, definitely going to stay home and just chill, come Friday Kyle got antsy in his pantsy and quickly planned an overnight excursion to what was supposed to be Medora.  If you have read North Dakota Nice for a while you’ll know that “planning” a trip for Kyle consists of packing a suitcase and maybe having a hotel room and/or destination in advance of departing the house; while I, on the other hand, require every single second of the day scheduled and reserved from start to finish.  We met in the middle for this particular trip in that I got a handshake agreement that we would drive to Bismarck via Jamestown, sleep in Bismarck so the kids could get a swim in the (reserved) hotel pool, and then wake up early and head to Medora for a day in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Yard work | NNoTW October 20, 2021

My ten-year-old and his buddy spent thirty minutes raking leaves a few weeks ago and henceforth decided to turn their newfound skill into a leaf-raking business.  This was the conversation we had on the ride to school the next morning:

Odometer Watching | by Steve Silverman

I’m one of those people that watches automobile odometers. Yep. One of…those people. Sure, there are bird watchers, armed with super-duper binoculars and expensive scopes with cameras built right in them, birder books in their backpacks, trooping through field and forest looking for that one bird. There are also people watchers. You know the ones: They go to the mall or to Vegas, not so much for the shopping or the gambling, but to sit in front of the M&M’s Store or in the lobby of the Bellagio and just watch the people go by. Turning their heads from side to side. Watching. All. Those. People.

Postcards from the middle | NNoTW October 13, 2021

Kyle recently came back from a work trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“Great!”  He said – and then, forlornly, “But I couldn’t find any postcards.”

Every single time Kyle travels, he sends a postcard.  By “a postcard,” I mean upwards of a dozen of them.  And by “travels,” I mean if his head hits a pillow that is not his own, it counts as a trip – including once in Grand Forks when we booked a hotel room because we were having some work done at the house.

Canadian Thanksgiving and Back-Up Beef | NNoTW October 5, 2021

October 11 is Canadian Thanksgiving.  Or, as they call it in Canada, Thanksgiving.  Canadian Thanksgiving is the exact same thing as American Thanksgiving except that it’s in Canada and on an October Monday and everyone says “Eh” a lot.  Also, Canadians watch Canadian Football on Thanksgiving, not American Football.  (Come to think of it, I don’t know if Canadians ever watch American Football because, as the name suggests, they have their own football league – which, like American Thanksgiving, is the same but also slightly different.)

Pumpkin spice and everything nice | NNoTW September 30, 2021

Fall has officially…fallen; and with it millions of pumpkin spiced Pinterest boards have sprung up featuring porches and front doors and lawns covered in physical celebrations of autumn.  Obviously, I, too am all aboard the trainful of haybales.  This meme (which I did not make) pretty accurately represents my feelings on the matter:

Turkey tidbits in gravy | NNoTW September 23, 2021

I recently asked my sons and their friends to name off their favorite school lunches, and they said chicken nuggets, walking tacos, spaghetti, corn dogs, and sloppy joes.  These, of course, are the wrong answers.  As anyone who has gone through the Grand Forks School System will tell you, the best school lunch is turkey tidbits in gravy.

Ghost Tour | NNoTW September 16, 2021

Kyle and I are tour people.  We love tours.  We will attend basically any tour that is offered to us.  You could say, “Hey, listen, I’m giving a tour of my living room.  To participate, you’ll need this painter’s tape and this roller and this can of ‘Marshmallow Heaven’ and the tour will consist of you painting my walls,” and so long as you also give us a storyguide headset and one of those little metal buttons with the folding flap, we’re in.

Anyways, today I’m going to tell you about my all-time favorite tour.

Surrender, Dorothy | NNoTW September 9, 2021

When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was an obscure little indie film called The Wizard of Oz.  In it, a girl named Dorothy is transported out of her home state of Kansas via tornado, dropping generally into the magical country of Oz, and literally onto the head and torso of the Wicked Witch of the East.  Dorothy is eager to return to Kansas (presumably to avoid both manslaughter and theft – she walks off with her victim’s shoes – charges) and is given instructions to do so by visiting an entity named “The Wizard” located in a single-building casino-esque metropolis called The Emerald City.

Sofa, So Good | NNoTW September 2, 2021

We just passed the one-month mark of living in our new house.  At least, I *think* it’s our new house.  Considering there are stacks of stuff everywhere, we may be living in a box fort.

This is the exact text conversation I had with a friend right after we moved in:

Friend: How’s the unpacking going?

Me: Slow.  But my parents are taking the boys this week so we’ll have it all done by Saturday.

Friend: Ha ha!

Me: Ha ha!

Good Advice | NNoTW August 26, 2021

A huge part of my job is understanding social behaviors; and if I had to use one word to describe all grownups right now, that word would be TIRED.  It’s like being at a party where you were ready to leave 45 minutes ago but your ride is debating whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich with a large group of people, and so you sit there with your empty wine glass, avoiding a refill or a trip to the bathroom or anything, really, that would delay your exit, responding to all attempted conversations with, “Oh, yeah?  Oh, okay.”

Ten weird minutes | NNoTW August 19, 2021

I recently came back from a work trip, my first since February 2020.  The actual travel portions of my work trips are typically completely unremarkable – transport to destination, check into hotel, complain to coworker about the air conditioning/pillows/ice machine/Wi-Fi, sleep, eat breakfast, leave – but the universe wanted me to remember this particular trip (as well as remind me that I apparently do not belong in normal human society) because this is what happened in the span of about ten minutes:

Camp Bubbe Zayde | NNoTW August 12, 2021

My children are currently nursing a grandparent hangover after spending a week at my parents’ house at the second-annual “Camp Bubbe Zayde” (Bubbe and Zayde are the Yiddish words for Grandma and Grandpa, respectively).  As you might expect, Camp Bubbe Zayde was a happypalooza – fishing, baseball, Valley Fair, the zoo and the waterpark, and casual texts from my mother that read, “The kids wanted a snack, so we got them two ice cream bars a piece.  They must be growing!”  Of course, there was also teethbrushing and vegetable eating, but even following the rules – such as picking up toys and being kind to your brother – was turned into a game, with the prize being a trip to Dave & Busters.