Cougar Woods | June 15, 2022

When I was in high school, my boyfriend said to me, “If you’re going to be in business, you need to know how to golf.”  This was the late ‘90’s, when being “in business” meant wearing power suits with white sneakers and drinking martinis and obviously I was going to do that, so I agreed.  He and I went to the golf course on a foggy fall day.  He set up a tee and ball on the first hole, handed me his driver (I feel compelled to note that he was 6’2” and I was 5’2” and that club fit exactly one of us), gave me a quick, helpful instruction on how what to do, and stood back while I swung for the fences.  Then, he walked twenty feet up to where my ball had landed post-hit, picked it up, and threw it in the direction of the green.  We repeated that same process roughly a million more times – hit the ball, throw the ball – until we reached the fifth hole and he said, “You know, you’re good at other stuff,” and we left to go get ice cream.

I was “in business” by my early twenties, and so my boss invited me (and my white sneakers and martinis) to a charity golf tournament.  “Do you know how to golf?”  He asked.  “Oh, yes,” I said, remembering the advice I had been given on my first outing.  I borrowed a set of clubs from my friend’s little sister, bought three golf balls (I mean, how many does a person need?) – and, using those rightly-sized clubs, hit the crap out of all three balls right into the woods or the water on the first two holes of the course.  I spent the rest of the tournament driving the golf cart – i.e. one of my many “good at other stuff” skills – and charming everyone with my near-constant chatter.  Unrelated, I was not invited along on any future golf outings.

Fast-forward a decade or so to when Kyle and I took the boys to Arizona and he suggested we fill the time by going to Top Golf.  Top Golf is a multi-story driving range with digitally-chipped balls that track where they go on the range.  Also, it’s a restaurant and bar.  The boys liked it because they could hit golf balls for two hours.  I liked it because I could sit on a couch surrounded by nachos and cheesecake (martinis) and still have close enough access to my then-four-year-old to hold onto his shirt so he didn’t swing himself off the range.  With about ten minutes left in our reservation, the four-year-old took a nacho breather and Kyle suggested I use his turn to whack a couple of balls into the virtual water hazard.  Full of cheesecake and mirth, I did – except that instead of whiffing the shots, they went straight (and up and down like a rainbow, which I’m sure is the technical term for describing a proper golf ball path) and true.

“Mom is the best golfer in the world!”  Four exclaimed.

Buoyed by my newfound designation as the best golfer in the world, I spent the next couple of years showing off my rainbow golf skillz at every Top Golf-esque driving range in the United States.  Finally, earlier this spring, I told Kyle that I was ready to give for-real golf a for-real try.  He quickly bought me a set of clubs before I could change my mind/the martinis wore off; and then told one of our friends about it so that I couldn’t do that thing where I would act really grateful and excited about the gift but then hide them in the back of the garage for all eternity.

That friend and her husband invited us out for my (third time’s the charm) maiden voyage.  Kyle prepared by purchasing a sackful of golf balls and tees.  I prepared by Pinteresting “cool weather golf outfits to wear with white power suit sneakers” and finding places to hide airplane bottles of vodka in my golf bag.  We played nine holes of a game called Bingo Bango Bongo, which is where two golf teams compete to earn three points – longest drive, first to the green, and first in the pin – a great game to play with a novice, as teams advance to the best ball…no throwing necessary.  My team won because I am the best golfer in the world (I got one total point, and lost two balls) and, unrelated, my teammate and friend was an actual skilled golfer.  Despite the fact that it turned out that my golf skillz were only to be found at Top Golf, the whole thing was so fun – thanks to lovely, patient, helpful friends and a beautiful evening – that I decided not to throw in the proverbial towel, and instead kept it tied to my golf bag to wash off my balls (for whatever purpose that would serve).

Since then, another one of our lovely friends has invited me to Lady’s Night, and my co-worker has agreed to come with me to a thing called “Divot a Try,” where you pay $20 for a golf lesson and a drink ticket – and all of those things sound awesome.  Also, I bought a golf skirt – so I guess it’s for-real-for-real that I’m an official golfer.

The other night, we took the boys out for nine holes of golf.  I parred one hole and shot a billion on another.  Kyle texted a photo (above) to my best friend, who replied “She’s a regular Cougar Woods.”

This week’s news has an old family and hidden treasures.  Read on.


The nearly 340 descendants of Erick and Kari Evenson will soon celebrate North Dakota’s oldest family farm by ceremonially break the ground in Mayville using Erick and Kari’s original plow. (Grand Forks Herald)

Bismarck’s Pam Crawford has published a children’s book about change, starring an eight-year-old adventurer named Leia. (KFYR TV)

Head on out to McKenzie County Heritage Park this weekend for the annual dinosaur dig. (McKenzie County Farmer)

Congratulations to Minot’s Sidni Kast, the new Miss North Dakota! (KFYR TV)


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Live, Lake, Love | June 8, 2022

In a surprising move, I made a last-minute Friday decision to take my family to the lake for the Memorial Day weekend after our expected houseguests cancelled their visit.  It was surprising because I am not known for my spontaneity – when I first met Kyle, I told him that I wouldn’t go to the bathroom without a ten-minute warning – and also because I AM known for using free time for small projects such as sandblasting and repainting the entire exterior of the house.

Kyle, who is actually spontaneous, is always so happy when I say things like, “I just bought 200 feet of wallpaper,” so when I called him over the lunch hour about my unplanned plan, he was all in.  When we spoke he was in the garage preparing to leave for a meeting in Fargo, so he delayed his departure for five minutes in order to throw a duffle bag, the fishing rods, and tackle box in his truck while I booked a room at a lakeside resort a few hours away.

I finished work at 5pm, and spent the next hour running around like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep in order to gather up everything the boys and I would need for the trip.  Just as I was shoveling the last of the suitcases and children into the car, it dawned on me that I had forgotten something…goggles.  I ran back in, congratulated myself on being me, and hit the road for our weekend o’ fun.  We stopped for a Fargo fast food dinner and to pick up Kyle (who parked his truck at our friends’ house), and pulled into the resort a little past bedtime.

Our ten-year-old had used the drive to map out an elaborate activity schedule (the trip was Friday to Sunday, so Saturday was our “only” day), which was so action-packed that I wasn’t sure we would have enough time for a bathroom break, let alone a ten-minute bathroom break warning.  The grand finale was a pontoon rental/fishing trip at 5:30pm, which meant all of the other events needed to happen in a timely manner so as to get the family to the dock by 5:15.  Ten was recounting his schedule for the two-hundredth time when I opened a suitcase to get Seven some jammies and realized that the thing I had remembered I had forgotten was not the goggles – but was in fact, my underwear.

Growing up in the 80’s, clean underpants were a very big thing.  Like your American Express card, you’d never leave home without it.  We don’t seem to be concerned with this anymore, so either the results of dirty skivvies never manifested themselves or we are a lot less disgusting without Aquanet.  Regardless, old rules die hard; and so when I mentioned my predicament to Kyle he said, “No problem, we’ll have breakfast in town and you can grab some then.  It’ll be quick.”  He may have also mentioned something about wearing bathing suits for the next two days as an alternative, but I had stopped listening at that point and also I wasn’t going to do that.

Now, I don’t know if you know anything about resort town shopping, but if you are in the market for a sign that reads “Live, Lake, Love,” then you are IN LUCK.  If you want to buy ladies’ undergarments, however – well, it turns out a lot of people wear their bathing suits because it took me eight stores to find any.  I did, of course, find a pair of boxers that said, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” that I was going to get for Kyle because of its inspiring and worldly mantra but then remembered our tight timeline and moved on.  I was also pointed towards a tableful of nursing bras; close, but no cigar.  I should note that in the time it took me to procure two pairs of ‘pants, Kyle and the boys bought a cricket bat and ball, a hockey t-shirt, a novelty plate set, Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, a USB hairdryer, and a hand humidifier.

We got back to the resort – a ten-minute drive from downtown – an hour behind schedule.  No problem, we told Ten – we would just cut a little bit off of each activity to get back on track.  This great plan worked exactly never because all the activities were so much fun that we had to drag both boys away after several gentle calls for, “We’re leaving now.  Okay, we’re leaving NOW.  Okay, NOW we’re leaving now.”

By 5:05, we had accomplished exactly half of Ten’s program; but ‘toonin’ time was nigh, so we rushed back to our room to grab the fishing gear.  As the boys were arguing over who was going to carry the Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, Kyle casually mentioned, “Oh, right, I forgot to get bait.”  Ten froze.  No problem, we told Ten, once again – we would buy some from the guy renting the pontoons.  This was a resort!  Obviously, they would have bait.

The resort did not have bait.  “There’s a place downtown that probably sells it,” the suntanned young man at the ‘toon shack told us.  And then he mentioned the same store where I had purchased my unmentionables (it was a very versatile retail experience).  “We’re good,” Kyle said.

We were good.  It was an absolutely perfect evening – 70 degrees, blue skies, and not a mosquito or a lick of wind for twenty miles.  It turns out that both fish and little boys like beef jerky, because that’s what we used as bait and it worked.  When we packed everything back up into the car the next morning, Ten declared it “our best vacation ever” (and Seven declared that he wanted ice cream) so I guess we’ll have to schedule in some more spontaneity in the future.

The photo above was taken on the pontoon and includes me, Kyle, the Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, and my new underwear.

This week’s news has a life-saving senior and a bowler named Maddy A.  Read on.


Manvel’s Robert Kennedy is a humble hero thanks to a quick-thinking Heimlich maneuver, which saved Curtis Carlson. (Grand Forks Herald)

The Bottineau VFW has been putting out flags – over 500, to be exact-ish –for a Memorial Day and Veterans Days Parade of Flags. (KX Net)

This particular article is for Bismarck, but I know many of the school districts in North Dakota are offering free lunches – and for some, breakfasts – over the summer. (KFYR TV)

Valley City’s Madison Anderson is in the 8th grade and will soon be rolling in a national bowling tournament (and you should click on the article just for the photo because it’s really cute). (Valley City Times-Record)

Bismarck’s Dylan Wetsch now has a new friend named Canam thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota. (KFYR TV)

Looking for a little light reading?  Check out my latest story on summer scheduling in the latest issue of Area Woman Magazine. (Area Woman)


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Hello, Summer Vacation | from Area Woman Magazine

This story was reprinted with permission from the June-July issue of Area Woman Magazine.

Summertime is nearly upon us, and so my husband and I have been spending our free time ensuring our children have none of it.  Between baseball, science camp, goalie camp, theater, fishing, swimming, and golf, if we want our boys to have the same carefree days of our own youth…well, they have a few select hours between sun-up and the time when the streetlights come on to cram in any lighthearted breeziness.

This overscheduling is due, in part, to the fact that everything is so much MORE now than when I was a kid.  Growing up in Grand Forks, the bulk of my summertime memories involved riding my bike and tanning at the public pool – because there was basically nothing else to do.  Sure, my little sister and I would pick up the odd job here and there and when we got older we’d spend a few weeks at sleepaway camp, but the moment school ended so did every other structured activity in town.  In fact, the only items on our to-do lists were mealtimes meaning (just like every other kid in the neighborhood) we’d head out into the sunshine and blue skies just after breakfast and come back when the sandwich bread was being buttered for lunch.  If I ever got bored of this untethered, unbounded play, my mother would hand me the tub of powdered Minute Maid and tell me to hold a lemonade stand.  One summer we had six lemonade stands.

At some point between my own childhood and that of my sons, all of the grownups got together and decided there were far too many lemonade stands and something needed to be done.  That war on boredom coincided with the invention of the Internet and the enlightening of society as to all of the bad stuff that could happen to children who were left un-helicoptered.  The Internet, and ensuing social media, also turned the spotlight onto a whole new level of parental competition – all of it together leading to the rise of MORE activity, MORE structure, and MORE FUN, dammit.

The thing is…all of these activities are more fun.  For one, there’s something for everyone.  Don’t like sports but want exercise?  Try Ninja Warrior.  Or horseback riding.  Or Ninja Horseback Warrioring.  Plus, most of the programs have scholarship opportunities so no kid (or horse) is left behind.

Also, the kids like it.  My husband played organized hockey as a boy – two days a week, for roughly three months in the wintertime.  Our ten-year-old, by comparison, skates and/or trains almost every day for almost the entire year.  When we realized the insanity of that schedule and tried to reduce it, Ten got mad that he was missing out on fun with his friends.  (And, on more than one occasion, my husband has said, “I wish I had all of this opportunity when I was his age; I would have loved it.”)

Still, childhood is precious; and free play is precious; and summer break is especially, especially essential to happiness (starting a petition now to give grownups summer break, too).  So, my husband and I are also making a conscious effort to build in some long “vacations” from all the structured fun so that our boys have the time and space to ride their bikes all over the neighborhood (wearing their Gizmo watches so that I can track their movements every second of the day), create elaborate scenarios with their action figures, and host as many lemonade stands as the neighborhood can stomach.


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