Somehow, they manage | January 11, 2023

A month or so ago, Kyle texted me at work and said, “Do you want to be the team manager?”

To which I replied, “I’m sorry, I regretfully have to pass; thank you for asking.”  (I actually think I said, “No frickin’ way,” but this is my story and I’ll tell it how I want.)

Our eleven-year-old is in his second year as a Squirt hockey player.  Grand Forks Youth Hockey recently kicked off the travel portion of the Squirt winter season, meaning the kids now play teams in other cities and not just one another.  The “team manager” Kyle referred to is a Mom who somehow miraculously finds an extra ten hours in a day to arrange all of the non-game activities that come along with toting around fifteen kids and their families from place to place.  Specifically:

  1. Selecting hotels and negotiating room blocks.  A good hockey hotel is located close to the rink; offers rooms with enough space for a hockey bag to be opened and everything inside to spread out to dry without stinking up an entire family’s worth of clothing, snacks, drinks, pool toys, blankets, pillows, takeout pizza boxes, and extra children; serves a free breakfast; has a pool and/or a place for everyone to hang out between games (preferably away from other guests on the RARE occasion someone isn’t giddy with excitement about relaxing in the middle of the equivalent of a Mardi Gras parade); and costs $100 a night.  Did I mention that sometimes the rinks are located in a town with only one option…and it’s an 8-room motel with a shared bathroom and you have to take one of those Tom Sawyer rafts to the rink?
  2. Ordering stuff.  In addition to the briefcases full of cash regularly doled out for skates, pads, helmets, gloves, sticks, practice jerseys, Gatorade, registration fees, gas, hotel rooms, and takeout pizza boxes, it is widely agreed that our little popsicles need promo items to effectively play hockey.  From hats to eight-person ice houses – if you can embroider a last name and a jersey number on it, the team manager has to source, organize, order, distribute, and troubleshoot it.  Also, it sure would be nice if the kids had gift bags filled with tape, snacks (the aforementioned hotel room snacks don’t count), energy chews, knee hockey pucks, and stickers, wouldn’t it?  Yeah, it would.
  3. Coordinating team meals, social activities, and related.  Turns out, restaurants aren’t immediately ready for 50 people who need to eat, drink, and get out of there in an hour.  Who knew?  Fortunately, that’s only one person’s problem – the team manager.
  4. Doing actual management things.  Grand Forks Youth Hockey gives every team manager a backpack filled with all sorts of important gameday items – like, you know, the record book and the First Aid kit.  And, like, you know, Grand Forks Youth Hockey expects someone to do whatever it is they do with all of those objects…which, I wouldn’t know, since I’m not the team manager.

“No problem,” Kyle said.  “I’m sure Youth Hockey will find someone.”

Later that night, after the kids had been scrubbed down and put to bed, Kyle said to me,

“Good news!  We have a team manager.”

And then I said,

“Great!  Who is it?”

And then Kyle said,

“This Other Dad and I are going to split it.”

So then I said,

“No.”

We blinked at each other for a while.

“Why not?”  Kyle asked.

“Because,” I said.  “It has to be a second-year mom.”  (PS, kids play Squirts for two years, so a second-year mom is someone who has a kid that has already been a Squirt for a year.)

“Why?”  He said.

“Because,” I said.  “That’s just the way it’s done.”

“But why?”  He said.

“Because the second-year moms learn from the previous year’s second-year moms,”  I said, exasperated.  “You were never a first-year mom, so you’re not going to know what to do…which means [deep breath, pause for dramatic effect] NOW I’M GOING TO HAVE TO DO IT.”

“Oh, that’s no big deal,” he said, brushing me off.  “You can tell me what to do.  Besides, the other team manager is our friend, and she can help us.  Like a partnership!”

“Harumph, Kyle,” I said.  “HARUMPH.”

The next day, Kyle met me for lunch.

“We got the hotel for the Duluth tournament,” he said.  “I also went to the embroiderer and picked out a beanie for the boys.”

“Harumph,” I said.

“The Other Dad is going to coordinate the book and the box workers for this weekend,” he said.  “And check it out – he made a song playlist for between whistles.”

“Harumph,” I said, and then, “What about the door signs?”

“What door signs?”  Kyle asked.

Every year, the moms and grandmas get together during a practice to paint large paper signs for the front doors of our houses.  These signs have the kids’ names and numbers and say something like, “Go team!” to make it easier for burglars to figure out who is out of town for the weekend.

Kyle pulled out his phone and typed something.

“Okay, one of the moms said she’d be in charge of the door signs,” Kyle said.  “By the way, I was thinking we should organize a group dinner after the Park River game.”

“Harumph, Kyle,” I said, pulling out my own phone.  “Fine.  Here’s a restaurant in Park River with a kid’s menu.  I’ll call them after we eat.”

“I called them already,” Kyle said.  “They are going to get a bunch of tables ready for us.”

“Oh,” I said, and then, MORE BEGRUDGINGLY THAN ANY PERSON HAS EVER BEGRUDGED, “That’s nice.”

We’ve now had two weekends’ worth of games – and in the most annoying situation ever, Kyle and the Other Dad continue to do a good job as co-team managers.  I keep telling myself it’s because all of us moms have such low expectations for their output that whatever they do seems acceptable – but they approach everything with such gusto that it’s hard to find fault.  They send messages!  They buy pin bags!  They hang out with other dads in the scorer’s box!  They bring the backpack to the rink!  They take the backpack back home!  Sure, the moms have had to redo a few things, but overall they are a major success; so much so, that I’m thinking Grand Forks Youth Hockey should always have dads be team managers – second-year dads, of course.


The photo above is of one of our two team managers.


The Three River Crisis Center in Wahpeton had 1,762 (after finding one hidden away!) pairs of undergarments under the tree this year. (Wahpeton Daily News)

In North Dakota-adjacent news, Red Lake Falls’ Alex Gullingsrud is back on the ice. (Grand Forks Herald)

This is a story about a clock. (KFYR TV)

Teen author and Lansford-ian Lindsey Undlin has written a second book. (Minot Daily News)

Fargo’s Russ and Robin Nelson ate at a different locally-owned restaurant every week and wrote about it on Facebook. (Fargo Forum)

Trust no one at the Dickinson Public Schools Foundation’s annual murder mystery dinner. (Dickinson Press)


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This is a story about karma. | January 4, 2023

Last week, Kyle took the boys to a hockey game and I stayed home to tackle the literal mountain of laundry that had accumulated after our Christmas vacation in Canada.  I had no sooner tossed up my Tide Pod Grappling Hook (patent pending) and gotten a foothold on a stack of socks when it dawned on me that it was a beautiful day and I would much rather go for a walk.

“You’re always at work in the middle of the afternoon and aren’t able to go for a lovely walk,” I told myself as I slipped on my shoes.

“Well, you’re always at work in the middle of the afternoon and not at home to do lovely laundry, either,” the Tide Pod Angel (patent pending) on my other shoulder reminded me.

No problem, I thought.  I’d make up for it by doing DOUBLE the laundry tomorrow.  TRIPLE.  I’d do the neighbor’s laundry.  I’d pre-wash clothes that we hadn’t worn yet.

Now, normally when Kyle and I go for a lovely walk we take a route up and down the street by our house.  However, there were three unique factors on this particular day: One, Kyle wasn’t there to put any limitations on distance; Two, it was twenty degrees outside (if you live in a cold-weather locale you know there is a phenomenon where the moment the air dips below zero all temperatures above feel like springtime); and Three, earlier in the year I had purchased a coupon book from one of my friend’s kids for $20.  Another phenomenon that exists is one where the moment I clip a free coupon I lose it immediately – but if I have a financial skin in the game, by golly I will do whatever it takes to get my $20 back.  Wouldn’t you know it, I had a coupon for a free cup of coffee at the coffee shop two miles from my house.

My coupon (plus $1 for a tip) and I set out for our lovely walk.  I didn’t bring any additional money – even though Kyle also loves coffee and would have totally appreciated me thinking about him while he took our children on an outing – because I didn’t want to walk back with two cups instead of one.

“It would get cold anyway,” I told myself.

“You could get him an iced coffee,” Tide Pod Angel suggested.

No, I thought, because if I slipped, I’d have my hands full and would have nothing to break my fall.

“What are the chances of that happening?”  Tide Pod Angel asked, but I didn’t hear her.

Now, normally when I go outside for any amount of time over nine seconds I wear my hot pink snowpants; however, it was so warm that I opted to eschew my typical layers for the ripped jeans (follow me for more fashion-related tips) I had put on that morning.  It took me (and my ripped jeans, coupon, and $1) about ten minutes longer than anticipated to get to the coffee shop because something had been going on with the street clearing situation in Grand Forks and so all of the crosswalks were mounded with snow.

As the shop, I traded my coupon and $1 for a 16-ounce cup of coffee.  I put on my brand-new leather gloves – a gift from my parents – opened the door, walked outside, took a deep breath, and slightly shifted the coffee sleeve.  With that, the entire cup of coffee exploded all over my gloves and shoes.

Now, normally I don’t appreciate it when things explode all over me and so my typical reaction would be to throw the cup of coffee away.  Except that I had $1 and a $20 coupon book invested in this particular beverage, and I had just walked two miles to get it.  Plus, while it seemed like the quantity of liquid soaking into my socks was the equivalent of 16 ounces, when I looked in the cup it was still about four-fifths full.  So, I shook off my gloves, picked up the coffee lid from the ground, stuck it back on the cup, took a sip, and started off on my way.

I walked to the first crosswalk hill.  I took a step onto the crosswalk hill.  And, apparently, I slightly squeezed my cup of coffee at the crosswalk hill because, once again, the lid came off and, once again, sprayed coffee all over my gloves, coat, and jeans (or rather, knees, since my jeans were torn).  Not to be deterred, I did that cross-legged thing to use the back of my knees to wipe the front of my knees, picked up my lid, and took a sip.

I then repeated this scenario five more times over the next five crosswalk hills.  No matter how I held the cup, the minute I stepped down, the coffee went up.  As this was the magical Mary Poppins purse of coffee, the actual amount of liquid in the cup seemingly never reduced.  By the third crosswalk hill, the rim of the cup simply started rejecting the lid, slowly disintegrating over the next couple of blocks.  I finally gave up on the lid and decided to pound back the entire cup of coffee because 1) it was sloshing everywhere now that it was lid-less, 2) it was quickly getting cold now that it was exposed to the air, and 2) I didn’t want to dump it out because I am a nutjob.

When I had blessedly finished the last drop, I stuck the lid into the cup to make it easier to carry.  It, too, launched out of the cup, lodging itself in my hair.  I put the lid in my pocket.

Unencumbered by the cup of coffee, covered head to toe in liquid in freezing temperatures, and POWERED BY A BOTTOMLESS CUP OF CAFFEINE, I felt the best course of action was to power walk home.  I don’t have much of a memory of this walk, although I’m pretty sure I flew during part of it.

Finally, I – and my soaked gloves, coat, shoes, jeans, and hair – reached the house.  Kyle and the boys came in a few minutes later.  My seven-year-old hugged me.

“You smell weird,” he said.

“I smell like coffee,” I said.

“Did you get coffee?”  Kyle asked.

“Yes,” I said.  “I went for a walk.”

“That’s good,” Kyle said.  “I feel like a cup of coffee, too.  I’ll make a pot.  Would you like another cup?”

“No thanks,” I said, peeling off my coffee’d socks.  “I’m going to do some laundry.”


I took the photo above as Kyle and the boys were walking in the door, although in hindsight I should have left my coat and gloves on because this just looks like a normal person with slightly redder cheeks. On an unrelated note, Kyle proofreads my stories for me and so he’s finding out about all of this right now.


The Minot community baked up 9,000 cookies for the service men and women at the Minot Air Force Base. (KX Net)

Congratulations to Fargo’s Mike Nelson, Josh Zeis, and Jay Ray, who took home bronze at the U.S. National Snow Sculpture Competition in Lake Geneva, WI. (Fargo Forum)

Lace up your sneakers, because North Dakota’s state parks are challenging you to 12 hikes in 12 months. (Williston Herald)

Welcome to the world, Kyson Kadrmas – the first baby born at Bismarck Sanford in 2023 (and, notably, born on his due date)! (KFYR TV)

Like Fargo’s Liam Loree, my seven-year-old LOVES the history of the Titanic; however, Liam definitely has Seven beat when it comes to turning that passion into Legos. (Fargo Forum)

I have a nice story all of my own (or adjacent, I guess) this week.  I was sent a Purposity link from the Grand Forks School District, on which teachers made requests for their students such as new t-shirts and weighted stress learning equipment.  I forwarded the link to Kyle and asked him to send money for one of the lower-cost listings – a student who needed snacks over the holiday break.  In turn, Kyle texted the link to his group of dads and suggested that everyone chip in $5 and they would fulfill as many of the requests as they could.  Well, those dudes sent more than $5 and they were able to purchase 12 of the remaining 16 requests.  They are the nicest guys, and I’m glad they are our friends.


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Come in, we’re clean | December 28, 2022

Of all the household chores, the one I like the least is washing dishes (the best is folding towels).  If I ever come into an inordinate amount of money, the first thing I’m going to do is replace my kitchen floor with one of those evil genius shark pits – but when you press a button and the doors slide open it’s going to be a giant dishwasher (in case it needs to be said, no sharks).  That way, when you are finished eating or cooking, you just drop the plate or pot into the floor.  This is an infallible plan.

In my college-ish days, my #1 requirement for an apartment was a dishwasher.  The realtor could have said, “Listen, it’s a two-bedroom, but one of you will need to sleep in the crow’s nest of a colonial pirate ship.  It also has a dishwasher.”  And my roommate and I would have been unpacking our collection of limited-edition Hardees dishware before you could say “Shiver me timbers.”

We spend every Christmas (minus Covid) at my father-in-law’s house in Saskatchewan, Canada, along with my husband’s brothers and their families.  If you include my own sons, our collection of limited-edition children is as follows: 14-year-old girl, 11-year-old girl, 11-year-old boy, 11-year-old boy, 11-year-old girl, 7-year-old girl, and 7-year-old boy.  This year, my wise sister-in-law took a look around at this group of able-bodied, highly-sugared goofballs and announced that the new Christmas tradition would be for the children to wash the Christmas Eve and Day dishes.  As opposed to the floor dishwasher which may still have some kinks to work out (like a standing platform), this was actually an infallible plan.

My wise 14-year-old niece did the type of quick calculations that only come with age superiority and realized that while Christmas Eve would just be a normal supper, Christmas Day would be a competition for how many different foodstuffs we could prepare and serve (and sometimes forget in the oven/microwave, also per Kosior tradition).  So, after the last few bites of Christmas Eve deliciousness had been crammed into the nooks and crannies of our tummies, my oldest niece volunteered herself and her 11-year-old sister to do the evening’s cleanup.

In the span of 15 minutes, my nieces were able to fit all of our dining tableware into my father-in-law’s dishwasher, handwashing and drying only a couple of pots and serving bowls before throwing in the proverbial and actual towel for the evening.  As they are both careful and trustworthy girls, my sister-in-law and I “helped” by sitting in the living room and not paying attention in the slightest.

The Christmas cooking started bright and early; and, even with regular cleaning throughout the day, my father-in-law’s kitchen was covered from floor to rafters with dishes by the time supper was over.  My sister-in-law reminded the children of their bound duties, and my 14-year-old niece reminded everyone of her efforts the previous evening and promptly wandered off into the night – which, in turn, reminded me that maybe the infallible plan still had some kinks now that the job was in the hands of two wild-on-life 11-year-old boys (who were a little TOO EXCITED about a sink full of soapy water) and their best-intentioned 7-year-old counterparts.

Chaos erupted the second those children stepped foot in the kitchen.  The big boys took over the sink, my son washing while his cousin dried.  My 11-year-old niece, absolved of any work, watched my son scrub the crap out of the outside of the potato pot while their cousin simultaneously filled the inside with half a bottle of Dawn before stepping in and taking over the drying (and management) before the train went completely off the track.  With both boys now washing, my father-in-law had to stop packing up the turkey (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law raised the 28-lb Christmas turkey, which was so large that it bowed the oven rack and needed to be legally declared its own land mass) and turn to mopping since every inch of the kitchen was receiving its own deep clean due to the amount of water flying about. 

Meanwhile, my sister-in-law and I tried to get the 7-year-olds to help us put away the leftovers – and then, after they dumped more of the corn and carrots on the floor than in the Tupperware, sent them to load cups in the dishwasher – and then, after they ran out of cups and started putting very-soapy-and-wet-but-clean servingware in the dishwasher (much to the chagrin of the sink masters), gave them the job of watching a movie in the other room and staying out of the way entirely.

After either twenty minutes or 200 hours, the big kids hung up their sopping (similar to what one would find at the bottom of a swimming pool) wet towels and headed to the basement for a much-earned knee hockey tournament.  My father-in-law finished scooping the last of the soap bubbles off the floor, and my sister-in-law and I corralled the rest of the leftovers into the bulging fridge. We sat down at the table with caesars in hand to toast our success.

“To a new tradition,” my sister-in-law said.

“And a job done,” my father-in-law said.

“Shiver me timbers,” I said.


The photo above is me standing on Main Street in Kyle’s hometown of Fillmore, Saskatchewan – and if you’re wondering why I’m not wearing my trusty hot pink snowpants, it’s because it was 30 degrees.


After installing a Santa Mailbox on his lawn, Grand Forks’ Nate Bertram has responded to hundreds of children (and delivered a few presents) over the past three years.  This is my favorite line from the article: “‘It’s exciting,’ Bertram said. ‘And I don’t just write two sentences back to them; it’s a full page.’ In the evenings, after his wife and daughter have gone to bed, ‘I write ’til I’m falling asleep in my chair.'” (Grand Forks Herald)

If you haven’t done it already, follow the Stutsman County Facebook page – where one of its staffers draws all of the daily news and updates. (Facebook)https://www.facebook.com/StutsmanCounty

In North Dakota-adjacent news, a restaurant in East Grand Forks now has a five-item “Community Kitchen Project Menu” where a person can come in and order a free meal. (Valley News Live)

Students at St. Marys Academy in Bismarck made 80 fleece tie blankets – and collected warm clothing – for those in need. (KX Net)

Anonymous donors dropped not one, not two, but THREE gold coins (worth $3,606) in kettles around Fargo. (Fargo Forum)

Two Minot gymnastics teams played Secret Santa to residents at a local retirement home. (KFYR TV)

After a major snowstorm, UPS driver Nathaniel Hunt put out a Facebook post to help get all of his packages delivered in time for Christmas. (Facebook)

Leonard’s Rhonda and Eric Klubben spent their 60th birthdays on the Today Show (and won a Dyson Airwrap). (Valley News Live)

The Hoselton Farm in Drayton is home to a team of reindeer, raised just for the purpose of bringing holiday cheer. (KFYR TV)


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