No sleep till Scottsdale | March 22, 2023

My boys and I recently returned from a vacation in Scottsdale, Arizona.  We were gone the exact amount of time it takes a human body to decide, “Hear ye hear ye, pull out yer flip flops and lawn chairs because it will now be warm for the next several months and it’s lemonade season, ring-a-ding-ding,” which means our transition back into North Dakota Springtime (it’s 24 degrees outside as I write this) has been a bit of a seeeeeeprise.

We planned this trip several months ago – by “we” I mean that Kyle did all the work and I sent messages like “Sounds good” and “Okay” – and a major factor in this planning was our outbound schedule.  Spring Break started on a Friday, our eleven-year-old had his Hunter Safety test the following day in Grand Forks, our seven-year-old was signed up for a weekend-long hockey tournament in Marshall, Minnesota, and airfare prices ranged from approximately $1 million to $1 billion per ticket depending on when and where a person wanted to go.  Somewhere in the “Sounds goods” and “Okays” it was determined that Kyle and Seven would depart for Marshall on Friday, Eleven and I would follow post-test on Saturday, and then together we’d drive from Marshall to Minneapolis after Seven’s final Sunday game and leave for Phoenix on the 9:40 PM Central Time flight.  We chose the flight (scheduled to arrive at 10:30 Mountain) because it was the cheapest one available in the entirety of March; and we justified it by saying, “We’ll be on vacation, so the kids can just sleep in on Monday.”

Wellllll, it turned out the United States got itself into a bit of a blizzard that weekend. Eleven and I never did make it to Marshall, Kyle and Seven had a 30-MPH-white-knuckle drive to Minneapolis, and Delta sent us a series of notifications that ultimately pushed our departure back by two hours. We got on the plane at 11:45 PM Central, sat on the runway until almost 1:00 AM Central, and walked into our Airbnb at 3:30 AM Mountain (5:30 AM Central). I spent the entire flight repeating to myself, “It’s a vacation, we can sleep in; it’s a vacation, we can sleep in.”

We didn’t sleep in. We were on vacation! It was warm and lovely and sunshiney and we were all up and raring to go at 7:30 AM (Mountain). No one in the history of awakeness has ever been as AWAKE and energized as the Kosiors were that morning. Prior to the trip, the boys had selected one must-do activity each: for Seven, it was to eat breakfast at his favorite restaurant. Hear ye, hear ye, we were AWAKE! On VACATION! We Would Eat Breakfast!

There was a short wait at the restaurant so, naturally, Kyle made a friend.  We were standing on the patio hopping back and forth due to our massive amounts of AWAKENESS when Kyle realized the gentleman standing nearby was wearing an Edmonton Oilers t-shirt.  As there are very few people in this world who like the Oilers enough to advertise it on a piece of clothing, Kyle felt compelled to talk to him.  The man was Canadian (Kyle, as a reminder, has both American and Canadian citizenship), and was in town for the U.S.-Canada game as a part of the World Baseball Classic.

When was said game, Kyle asked?  TONIGHT, the (not-Kyle) Canadian told him.

What luck!  Here we were, WIDE AWAKE, on vacation, American AND Canadian, and Kyle’s chosen activity was to see a baseball game.  “The last time they played each other was six years ago,” Kyle said as he punched in the series on his phone.  “I want Canada to win!”  Seven announced.  We had our tickets before we had our pancakes.

Eleven’s selected activity was to swim, and we had rented an Airbnb with a pool and a hot tub.  Should we take a nap after breakfast, we asked one another?  NO, we should SWIM.  Besides, we weren’t tired, WE WERE AWAKE.  Awake People do not nap.  They swim.

We swam.  We soaked.  We had lunch.  We swam and soaked some more.  We showered.  We ate dinner at one of our other favorite restaurants.  We drove from Scottsdale to Phoenix, parked the car, walked to the stadium, found our seats, and sat down.  And then we all got very, very, very, very, very tired.

Here is what happens when the Kosiors get tired: Kyle develops big, dark circles under his eyes.  I get angry.  Eleven leaves reality, and Seven turns silly and irrational.  All of this happened in the first inning of the U.S.-Canada World Baseball Classic game, surrounded by 50,000 of our closest strangers.

Here’s something else that happened in the first inning: the U.S. scored nine runs.  If you’ve ever been to a baseball game, you’ll know that it takes a long time to score nine runs.

“I want to be on the big screen!”  Seven shrieked.

“I want you to stop wiggling in your seat,” I grumbled.

“They aren’t showing any fans on the big screen,” Kyle said.

“But I’m not even a fan!” Seven wailed, bursting into tears as Mike Trout hit a home run.  Two men sitting in front of us turned around and high-fived Kyle and Eleven, snapping Eleven back into this plane of existence.  He looked around, confused.

“Why did they do that?”  Eleven asked his dad.

“The U.S. scored again,” Kyle said.

“Again?”  Eleven asked in a tone that made it unclear if he knew they had scored previously.

We made it to the fifth inning only because we got ice cream in the third.  The game itself only made it to the sixth because it turns out the World Baseball Classics has a Mercy Rule.  Both boys – and maybe Kyle, who was driving – fell asleep on the way back to the house.  I powered us forward on fury alone.

I’d like to say we caught up on sleep that night or any night in Scottsdale, but we were ON VACATION.  We returned to my parents’ house five days later, and everyone celebrated with a deep sleep in…a much-needed vacation from our vacation.

The photo above was taken at the baseball game about four seconds before we left. As you can see, Eleven was 1000% checked out. You can’t see him but Seven is also in the photo, leaning against Kyle, possibly asleep.

If you’re reading this on the newsletter, I stuck a few more photos from our trip below the news (for those of you reading it on the website, I’m sorry, but my website company makes me pay for photos and my newsletter company does not).

The New York Jets’ (and Fargo’s) Connor McGovern came to Grand Forks to teach middle schoolers some ABLE games. (Grand Forks Herald)

This year’s Limitless Fashion Show in Minot – designed to empower people with disabilities and foster friendships – has grown so large it has to be moved to a new venue, and will also now include male models. (Minot Daily News)

Fargo’s LaVerne Aventi helped save a Canadian (as in, it originated in Saskatchewan, Canada) great horned owl with a broken wing. (Fargo Forum)

It took a whole group of six dads and sons from Colfax to reel in a great white shark – which they named the Colfax Crusher before releasing it – on a fishing trip in Florida. (KFYR TV)

According to Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, North Dakota is a worthwhile investment opportunity. (Fargo Forum)

The largest public art project in North Dakota will be turning an unused grain silo in Minot into a work of art. (KX Net)

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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.

His recipient list varies; it’s usually a handful of family members plus whatever addresses he has in his head at the moment.  He decides how many postcards he’s going to send by how many he buys, and he typically buys eight or so wherever he sees them being sold.  The last time we were in Arizona, for example, he ended up with approximately forty postcards because we went to a park that had as many gift shops as tourist attractions.

He doesn’t write much – “We are in Arizona, and it’s 95 degrees.  This postcard has a cactus on the front because you’re pretty fly for a cacti.” – and he never expects a card in return.  Every once in a while someone will send one back on their own travels, and he will read it several times before hanging it in a place of prominence either by his bedside or in his office.

Kyle’s two biggest postcard fans are named Harrison and Louis, and both are under the age of five.  Kyle once sent Harrison a postcard with a frontiersman on the front, and that little fella was absolutely convinced that said frontiersman was Kyle and carried the card around for a week.  Louis, on the other hand, wants to immediately travel to whatever place the postcard is promoting.

I fell in love with Kyle, in part, because of postcards.  I had just started my current job (I’m a marketing director) and was asked to host a booth at an aviation conference and trade show in Minot.  Instead of the usual promotional items, I decided that I would print up a bunch of postcards with my firm’s logo and pithy taglines (“Making Magic in the Magic City!”) and let people “mail” them via a (very cute) mailbox (that I spent a very long time building).  At the end of the show, I would stamp all of the postcards and send them off to their lucky recipients.

What I failed to consider was that a bunch of North Dakota aviators would have had career opportunity to send postcards from all sorts of exotic and amazing places, and would henceforth be less inclined to communicate their positioning from a town in which they either A) lived or B) could travel to without needing to stop to go to the bathroom.  I mailed one postcard from that conference – to myself, with a note that read, “Amanda: next year, bring sunglasses clips.”

Kyle and I met two months later.  Our first weekend away was up to (exotic and amazing) Winnipeg, where we attended the Festival du Voyageur, ate Thai food, and stopped at a store so Kyle could get some postcards.

“Do you like postcards?” I asked him, wary that he had been secretly one of the attendees at the aviation conference and was low-key teasing me.

“Oh, yes,” he said.  “I always send a postcard to Uncle Buddy.”

Kyle’s paternal great-uncle was a gentleman named Dominic, who everyone called Uncle Buddy.  Uncle Buddy contracted polio as a boy and lived in a care home most of his life.  After she married my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, Jean, took to mailing Uncle Buddy a postcard whenever the family went on a vacation.  Uncle Buddy was pretty much non-verbal, but he liked the postcards so much that he called Jean “Postcard.”  When Kyle moved to the United States, he also started sending Uncle Buddy postcards – tossing a few extra in the mail for his grandpa, parents, and brothers at the same time.

So, I married him.

Fast-forward to now, it turns out you can order postcards on the Internet.  A few days after his return from Pittsburgh, Kyle received a pack of Pennsylvania postcards and immediately turned around and sent them to their intended recipients – putting a little memory of Uncle Buddy and Jean out into the universe once again, too.

If you would like to receive a Kyle postcard, send him a message on Twitter.  His handle is @ICKyleK.  The photo above is of Kyle with some of the postcards he’s received.

This week’s news has whooping cranes, “manure on the court,” and the Northern Lights.  Read on.

Wabek’s – or rather, the town formerly known as Wabek – Hunter Andes is raising money to preserve the ghost town’s school building. (KX Net)

Keep your eyes on the skies this week as migrating whooping cranes make their way across North Dakota. (AP News)

The Prairie Village Museum now has a new Germans from Russia Heritage Center to celebrate North Dakota’s “largest ethic immigrant group.” (KX Net)

The Rotary Club of Wahpeton Breckenridge filled a bus with 8,249 pounds of food for the food pantry (plus over $1,000 in cash) with a whopping 7,000 of those pounds coming from Econofoods. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Grand Forks got quite the light show on Monday night courtesy of a once-in-360-days aurora display. (Grand Forks Herald)

This is a sweet little anecdote – entitled “A little manure on the court won’t stop the farm athlete” – about what it’s like to grow up a farm kid. (Fargo Forum)

North Dakota has seen an 8% increase in racial diversity over the past decade. (Grand Forks Herald)

Living the Best Dakota

With talk of Canada separating into two countries and an American presidential election looming, it’s time we North Dakotans have a serious conversation about merging with our lovely compadres to the South.  A state filled with nice people, national landmarks, and, of course, ranch dressing.  That’s right: Arizona.

Here’s why:

We’re all already there anyway.

As the last Halloween trick-or-treater sneaks one more piece of candy before bed, scores of retired, semi-retired, and perpetually-cold North Dakotans put their leftover hot dish in the deep freeze, set their front light timers, and head to the airport in search of a place with so little precipitation that a person need never wash their car.

Without any basis of fact, I can confidently say that roughly 20% of North Dakota ups and flies to the Grand Canyon State for the winter.  East coasters go to humid Florida; North Dakotans like us some dry heat.

And don’t think I don’t get it.  For the last couple of winters, my family and I have had the good fortune to spend a few gloriously warm days in the Phoenix area.  We have interacted with dozens of people on those vacations, and 95% of them were from our fair state.  The nice couple in the coffee shop?  Born and raised in Oakes.  The girl working at Legoland?  Originally from Fargo.  The guy in downtown Scottsdale we grabbed to take our photo?  Wearing a UND sweatshirt.

On one of the trips, we took the kids to an old, remote mining town; and, as what typically happens with my children, they had such a good time eating scorpion lollipops and watching the mock shoot-out that they fell to pieces as soon as they returned to the car.  We made it roughly 10 miles before we decided to abandon ship and stop at the first place we saw for lunch: an out-of-the-way fried food palace with rows upon rows of picnic tables hooked together for friendly dining.  The place was surprisingly packed, and so we found an open spot and introduced ourselves to our tablemates – who, it turned out, were from Grand Forks.  The people next to them heard our conversation and leaned over and introduced themselves – because they were from Devils Lake.  As we were remarking on the coincidence of it all, one of my husband’s friends spotted us and came over to say hi.  His dad followed, because I knew him from work.  So there we were, hundreds of miles from home, surrounded by home…and wearing tank tops in February.  Heaven.

North Dakota summers are perfect for Arizonians.

I know two people who are actually from Arizona: my friend Elizabeth, and Noel, the fellow who drove the golf cart at our Phoenix Resort because, like North Dakotans, Arizonans know that walking more than 10 steps between your car and your destination is for rubes.  It was 68 degrees, and Noel was wearing a parka and wool beanie.  After some gentle ribbing, I commented that he must love the summers in Arizona, since he’s obviously cold-averse.  Noel scoffed and replied, “No one stays here in the summer.  It’s too hot!”

Well, Arizonians, do I have the place for you.

Arizona’s punishment for glorious nearly year-round weather is your hot summer temperatures.  North Dakota’s reward for putting up with difficult winter weather is absolute perfection in the summertime.  The average July temperature in North Dakota is 82 degrees.  You know what you can do at 82 degrees?  You can go for a pontoon ride at the lake.  You can go for a swim in a myriad of outdoor waterparks.  You can go for a bike ride or a hike or a picnic or whatever outdoorsy thing you like to do.  You can go to the Badlands, which is sort of like the Grand Canyon but with fewer tourists.

You can live in any of the wide variety of housing vacated in the summertime by our area college students, or you can make friends with a North Dakotan and have them stay at your house in the winter and then stay at their lake cabin in the summer.  Symbiosis!

Of course, there are many other benefits to North Dakota: we, too, have a deep love for taco meat; we’ll put basically anything in hot dish (cactus, anyone?), and both of our states border another country, so we can have long discussions about the hilarious quirks of our favorite Canadian and Mexican tourists.  And, of course, we like baseball, too – in fact, we’ll not only put you on one of our summertime beer leagues, we’ll drive you over for two-for-ones after the games.  Talk about a win.

It’s nice (t)here.

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We’re all hockey.

Arizona is the fastest-growing hockey market in the United States.  Guess what is America’s State of Hockey?  Well, it’s Minnesota; but North Dakota is adjacent to Minnesota and we are right behind them in terms of players per capita.  The number one state for USA Hockey-registered players per capita is Alaska, two is Minnesota, and three is North Dakota.  Alaska is also beautiful, but North Dakota is closer.

For the discerning Arizona parent or grandparent who wants their child to keep up their development over the summer months, North Dakota offers a wide array of hockey camps and open ice for your skating pleasure.  And my fellow North Dakota hockey parents, if we need to spend a weekend in a rink, a tournament in Scottsdale doesn’t sound too terrible.

We also have the opportunity to create a two-team-one-state D1 hockey program – you know, like Alaska.  Arizona State is independent of any hockey conference, which means they could easily slip into the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.  As a goodwill gesture, North Dakota State University Football could switch to the Pac-12.  I mean the Pac-13, ammiright?

I could go on and on with all of the benefits to merging our two beautiful, un-temperate states, but I’m too busy brainstorming possible name changes.  Dakizona.  Narizona.  Aridak.  Best Dakota.  Or, if we want to retain individual names, we could try out North and South Arizona…or North and South Dakota – and South Dakota could become East California, because all of those Californians are going to need to move somewhere with electricity.  Or we eschew it all for MegaKota.  I hear that’s a thing.