Hot tub | January 26, 2022

It is cold.  Cold, cold, cold.  Obviously, it’s not a surprise that we have low winter temperatures in North Dakota (“Warmer than Outer Space!” is my favorite weather-related headline); however, I still shrivel up like a helium balloon whenever I step outside and am hit with a blast of that brisk fifteen-below air.

Fun to Phone | January 19, 2022

You know what I miss?  Telephones.  No, not the little computers that we take into the bathroom instead of the TV Guide.  Obviously, I’m talking about these beauties:

Hello, January | January 12, 2022

I’m really impressed by people who use January 1 to dive headfirst into “New Year, New You” lifestyle improvements, because I’m more of a “whoops, there goes the starting pistol and here’s me without my bathing cap” kind of girl.  It’s not that I don’t have good intentions; it’s just that there’s a weird phenomenon that occurs where every calendar I’ve ever owned flips from December 31 to February 1 faster than I can say, “Time to put together a vision board and dust off my favorite legwarmers.”  Therefore, I’d like to put out a request to the universe (or the state government) for a few additional holidays in January in order to slow things down a bit:

The Mom Lounge | January 5, 2022

My ten-year-old recently played a hockey game at the Bill Jerome Arena in Devils Lake, North Dakota.  If you’ve never been to the Bill Jerome Arena, one of the first hockey arenas ever built in the state, it is a beautiful barn with curved white-washed trusses, natural ice, wooden bleachers, and an ice resurfacer (aka Zamboni) made out of a yellow tractor.  It is also the coldest place on Earth.

Some people have normal mothers | December 29, 2021

Kyle and I are those kind of people who take a funny (“funny”) Christmas/Hanukkah card photo every year.  This year, our ten-year-old took one look at the final result and said with a level of exasperation expected from a child forced to dress up in a suit and sit in a Jacuzzi tub full of bubbles holding a lacrosse stick (“funny,” as you may recall), “Can’t we just do a normal picture at a farm or whatever?”

Santa and the Sewing Machine | December 22, 2021

I have kind of an unusual relationship with Santa.  Probably the weirdest part about it is the fact that we have any relationship at all – because, you know, I’m Jewish.  For Jewish kids, Santa is like your workplace hosting a doughnut party when you’re on vacation: it’s nice, but it doesn’t really affect you at all.  In the winter of 1990, however, I wanted a sewing machine; and I went to Santa to get it.

You Betcha: a guided meditation | December 15, 2021

You’re sitting in your favorite armchair, which was initially pretty expensive but purchased for 75% off thanks to a coupon book you bought from your co-worker’s fifteen-year-old so his class could go on a field trip to Minneapolis to see the Johnny Holm Band.  You’re wearing a brand-new sweatshirt that is still amazingly soft because it hasn’t been washed yet.  Speaking of that, you’re all caught up with the laundry.  Also, the house is clean, your email inbox is cleared out, and there’s taco hot dish bubbling in the oven and a bowl of puppy chow on the counter.

“You betcha,” you think.  “Yep, you betcha.”

A&E’s Great Restaurant | December 8, 2021

My family just got back from a trip to New Jersey to celebrate my grandpa’s 95th birthday.  (Here’s an interesting fact about my grandfather: he was a practicing dentist for 63 years – even after a stint in WWII and initially being denied entry into dental school because he was Jewish.) 

Getting somethin’ done | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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.

Road trip | 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 | 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 | 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 | October 6, 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 | 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 | 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 | 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.