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:

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.

Friends | NNoTW August 5, 2021

I recently read an unattributed Internet fact that the percentage of men with at least six close friends has fallen by half since 1990; and that men today are five times more likely to state that they don’t have a single close friend compared to similarly-aged men thirty years ago.  As the mother of two boys, I’ve been noodling on this (quite possibly completely made up*) information and I have a theory about it.

Moving Day | NNoTW July 29, 2021

I wasn’t planning on writing anything else about our move because, honestly, who wants to read that – but the whole thing was such a wild ride that Kyle basically insisted I record it here for posterity.  So, here we go:

Squeegee | NNoTW July 22, 2021

We are moving; and between packing up and saying goodbye to our current house, renovating and unpacking our new house, working at my job, and doing the bare minimum at parenting, I have reached my complete maximum mental bandwidth. Read on.

Little house on the prairie | NNoTW July 14, 2021

After ten years in the country, Kyle and I have sold our house and are moving into town.  While we made the decision for a whole bunch of reasons – the biggest being that we were spending most of our time driving to and from Grand Forks – now that our departure is imminent, we’re all a little glum.  I know I personally am glum because it feels like we’re abandoning a long-time friend, and also because moving suuuucks.

Road trip | NNoTW July 8, 2021

Kyle and I just got back from taking our kids on our just-about-annual road trip from Thompson, North Dakota to Ann Arbor, Michigan.  We got there by driving through Minneapolis, Minnesota; Madison (I love Madison), Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; Gary, Indiana; and then over into Michigan.  The total distance is somewhere around a billion miles, which translates to roughly fifteen hours of drive time each way.  Each year, I am lulled away from the beautiful, shiny airport and into my poor, overloaded Honda Pilot with personal promises of a stop in Madison (I love Madison) and also by reminding myself, “Once we’re in Minneapolis, we’re basically there” – which is as factually and geographically correct as saying, “Once we’re in New York, we’re basically in Paris.”

The politics of cake | NNoTW July 1, 2021

Our friends hosted a family birthday party for their ten-year-old last weekend.  The jury is still out between my sons as to the second-best part of the soiree (right now it’s a tie between the slip-and-slide covered in dish soap and “playing” in general), but they both have agreed that the number-one spot goes to the cake.

We are here to tell you your opinion | NNoTW June 24, 2021

When we were first married, Kyle and I went to the movie theater so often that we took it upon ourselves to create a movie review website, called We Are Here To Tell You Your Opinion.  This website was not borne out of altruism or a desire for fame; rather, we are both oldest children, and it is our God-given right to tell people what to do.  It’s important to understand that absolutely no one in the history of cinema had or has ever asked, “Hey, I wonder what Amanda and Kyle thought of The Grey?”

Buy me some peanuts and Whiskey Jacks | NNoTW June 17, 2021

Our nine-year-old played two sets of double-headers last Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday, we naturally decided to detox after hours upon hours of baseball by taking our two sons and a friend to a Wheat City Whiskey Jacks baseball game.  The Whiskey Jacks played the Badlands Big Sticks at Kraft Field, which is apparently known to our family as “that place with the concession stand” because the boys ate their way through the entire experience.

Fort Abercrombie | NNoTW June 10, 2021

My ideal vacation consists of strategic lounging.  I lounge on beaches; by pools; in restaurants; on patios.  In the early morning I lounge with books; midday I lounge with pina coladas; and in the late afternoon I lounge with my eyes closed.

On the other hand, the only time anyone lounges on a Kyle-planned trip is when…[Read on]