Picky Eating | February 9, 2022

Our six-year-old recently announced that he is a vegetarian.  As a self-professed vegetarian, he has determined that his diet will be thus:

  1. Chicken nuggets
  2. Hot dogs, bun optional
  3. Hard-boiled eggs
  4. White carbs (all)
  5. Babybel cheese
  6. Ice cream
  7. Every kind of candy ever invented
  8. Fruits and vegetables

To protect his vegetarianism, Six has taken to stating that he is allergic to anything not on the aforementioned list – which is often a surprise to people who will watch him eat a hard-boiled egg, only to be “allergic” to scrambled.  Also, he is only a vegetarian on weekends and evenings because he likes his school’s pizza and walking tacos.

Our ten-year-old, on the other hand, will eat (or at least try) whatever is served to him; but if given the opportunity will choose one of the following three items:

  1. Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos (five words no mother has ever willingly strung together)
  2. Maruchan 5-for-$1 Ramen Noodle Soup
  3. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

As you can imagine, I – their loving mother and the primary cook in our household – have been a bit dismayed over their food choices.  Having unofficially/officially determined that all parenting challenges are the karmic return of whatever was inflicted on one’s own parents, I was lamenting to Kyle that we should have two of the greatest eaters in history because I – their loving mother and the recipient of a million “This food is GROSS” reviews – have always eaten basically everything in the world.  I’ll even eat food I don’t like; for example, I’m not a fan of coconut, but will still manage to put down all of my sons’ unwanted Almond Joys from their Halloween baskets.

Anyways, I was right in the middle of lecturing Kyle with a Forrest Gump-style list of all the meals I consumed as a child, when it dawned on me that Ten’s garbage palate IS actually my karmic fault.  Here’s why:

Back in the days when a breakfast of Lucky Charms qualified as “eating the rainbow” of the food pyramid, my mother was magically-deliciously into tofu dinners and sliced cucumber snacks.  On more than one occasion, she tried to convince my little sister and me that carob was the same as chocolate*.  Not only was processed food not in her vocabulary, we were one of the last families to get a microwave because she read during the Red #40 scandal (Red #40 and the ozone layer caused cancer in the 1980s) that microwaves sucked all of the nutrients out of vegetables.  The only time we got anything remotely close to junk food was when my dad would order takeout ribs and fries when my mom was out of town for work.

“Your mom is a genius,” you may be thinking.  “You and your sister must have been the healthiest children on the planet.”  Well, just like my son and his Doritos Locos Tacos – you can lead the horse to water, but you can’t keep her from getting her Kool-Aid somewhere else.

Which is what we did.  My sister and I strategically chose our friends based on their access to processed food.  If you were a kid in Grand Forks between 1987 and 1992 and your parents served Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, chances are we finagled a lunch or dinner invite at your house.  We knew the exact amount of time it would take to walk down to Valley Dairy, get two Freezee Pop (Now flavored with Red #40!), and eat them before our mother came looking for us.  Also, I played soccer just for the McDonald’s orange drink.

Obviously, at some point, I became my mother.  Specifically, when my oldest was born and I unexpectedly/expectedly found myself blending up avocados and apples with my Baby Bullet because “I wasn’t sure what was in that store-bought baby food.” (PS, store-bought baby food is great.  Also, that same kid once licked both a car tire and a lid from a can of turpentine so the avocado was more of a nice thought.)

At the same time I started going all-in on becoming my mother’s next-generation health nut, my mom went full grandma and started buying food flavored “Blue.”  By the time my second child bounced into the picture (and I was too tired to make any more baby food), my mom and I met somewhere in the middle and came to an unspoken understanding that so long as the majority of food is made by nature, the rest of it can come from Taco Bell.

However, while this “a lot of good, a bit of crap” plan has worked well with my older son, it hasn’t been a recipe for success for my little vegetarian.  After trying basically every method in the parenting book – bribes, letting him help cook, sitting him at the table until time and space have no meaning – I’m now onto hoping and praying that he’ll realize one day that variety is the spice of life.  Until then, I’m going to keep aggressively Googling “Is it bad to eat only peanut butter sandwiches and nothing else.”

The photo above is of Kyle, who loves all kinds of food but is also sort of a picky eater, at a restaurant.  The menu was back-lit, which was pretty nifty.

This week’s news has a request for birthday cards, (at least) three famous North Dakotans, and a battle of the books.  Read on.

Minot’s Ray Curtis is turning 105 on Friday, and his friends want you to send him a birthday card. (KX Net)

Belfield’s Bill Palanuk has donated his mother’s book, Ukrainians in North Dakota: In Their Voices to every school in the state in order to help preserve the story of Ukrainian immigrants in North Dakota. (Dickinson Press)

If you’re a Super Bowl watcher, you should know that Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow lived in Fargo in first and second grades… (Fargo Forum)

…And the Los Angeles Rams’ Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, Jamel Cooper, is from Grand Forks! (Grand Forks Herald)

Also, Bismarck’s Britta Curl is on her way to China as a part of the Team USA’s Women’s Hockey competition. (KFYR TV)

Near the Pioneer Museum in Watford City this weekend?  Come on down for a Celebration of Hygge. (McKenzie County Farmer)

Bismarck’s Great Plains Food Bank served 121,000 meals last year. (KFYR TV)

This event should be called, “This is something Amanda would have FER SURE WON if it existed back when she was a fourth grader.” (Minot Daily News)

*Carob is not a food.  It’s a punishment.

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:

As opposed to apparently all of North Dakota, however, I have no discernible skill when it comes to seasonal decorating.  For example, I am the only person in Grand Forks incapable of keeping a pot of mums alive.  I was lamenting this to one of my (well-decorated) friends and she said, “It sounds like you’re overwatering it,” and so I bought a new pot of mums and didn’t water it and it died and she said, “Well you have to water it a little,” so I bought another pot and watered it a little and it still died and she said, “Maybe you should try dried grass.”

I partially blame my lack of an orange thumb on the fact that I am Jewish, because I just don’t think the Jews are really in the inner cinnamon circle when it comes to celebration-based porch decorating.  I’m lumping us all into a group, obviously, but I can’t think of a time when I’ve gone over to a fellow Jew’s house and thought, “Man, I sure do like that Fourth of July bunting.”  We Jews actually have a holiday that falls smack in the middle of harvest in which decorations are part of the celebration (we hang up garlands and dried fruit and whatnot around a tent-structure called a Sukkah), but it’s less “Martha Stewart’s Top 5 Sukkah Splashes” and more like, “Get the craft paper and yarn so we can move onto the eating.”

I could be projecting these assumptions based on my own family’s lack of proclivity for all things Hobby Lobby.  My dad is an expert-level gardener, and so my parents’ method of decorating consisted of my mom swapping out the front door wreaths and all of us waiting for the next series of plants and flowers to bloom in and around the yard.  This was/is all well and good for them – but, as decades of mums would tell you, I would either need to lean into a theme of “old crone witch living deep in the forest with buckets of blackened roses and cupboards of poison” or invest all of my resources (and storage) into silk flowers.

Nevertheless, I press on.

We’re in a new house with a lovely front porch that is just perfect for decorating.  It’s so perfect, in fact, that the previous homeowner was known across Grand Forks for her amazing holiday décor, which is definitely the type of pressure I thrive on hahahahahahahahahaha.  When we first moved in, I went and got five beautiful bunches of red zinnias and planted them in big white pots in the hopes that it would trick the universe into thinking the old homeowner was still there and make them bloom into bundles of amazingness.

Unsurprisingly, they died.

Fortunately, they held on just long enough for Fall; and so last Saturday, I pulled those poor formerly-zinnias out of the pots (sorry again, plants) and decided that I would focus all of my efforts on putting up the most amazing autumn tchotchkie display anyone has ever seen.  Then, after Pinteresting ideas and reading an insane number of blogs on “DIY Decorating!,” I downgraded this great plan into one that had me setting out a small amount of pumpkins in a way that didn’t look like crap.

With my ten-year-old off playing with friends, my six-year-old and I loaded up into the car and drove 1,000 feet down the road to the neighbors’ houses, who had dozens of perfect pumpkins and gourds laid out across their yard and a “Pumpkins Sold Here” sign.

The pumpkins were neatly organized into $1, $3, $4, $5, $10, and $12 rows, and my strategy for a “small amount of pumpkins” just about went out the window when Six and I realized we liked ALL of the pumpkins and started stacking a gazillion of them into my trunk.  Finally, being a responsible grownup got the better of me, and we put back all but four of them (plus two little green ones) and rolled back home.  We set the pumpkins on the front steps – one per step – and the two little greenies by the door, shook hands, and Six ran off to play.

I stepped back to admire our work – and frowned.  Something wasn’t Pinterest-y enough about it.

I moved the green pumpkins down to the steps and shifted a few of the oranges over to look a bit more random and stepped back again.  Still not right.

I moved the greenies to the columns next to the door and the oranges all lumped together.  Nope.

I put all of them by the columns.  Nope again.

I moved all of the pumpkins to the bottom step.

Across the street, two teenagers were sunning themselves on the lawn.  Around the third iteration, one of them sat up and was watching me intently.

“Put the orange and green one on the top,” one shouted.  I did that.

“Put two by those columns,” he pointed.  I did it.

“Put the rest on the steps,” he said – and, having exerted all of the necessary effort, returned to lounging.

It looked great.

It still looks great.  It looks so great that I’m thinking about adding a front door wreath.  Obviously, I’ll be taking my neighbor to the store with me.

The photo above is Kyle’s artistic take on the green pumpkins.

This week’s news has an Opening Act, Oktoberfest, and a bad word.  Read on.

Mandan’s Brianna Helbling has been writing songs since she was seven years old, and is now gearing up for the quarter finals of “The Opening Act” competition. (KX Net)

Dickinson’s Out of the Darkness Community Walk raised over $30,000 in support of suicide prevention. [A side note on this: I participated in the Fargo walk – they happen all over the country – at the same time.  What struck me is how.many.sad.people. were there walking for each person lost to suicide.  If you are considering suicide, remember that there are so many people who will miss you and reach out to one of them for help.] (Dickinson Press)

For the next month, Medora will be home to Johnny Cash. (Dickinson Press)

A Williston mom got a letter from her Guard son, courtesy of a clerk at the post office. (KX Net)

Four Grand Forks teenagers were given a Saved by the Belt Award for wearing their seatbelts when their car rolled, saving all of their lives. (Grand Forks Herald)

Bismarck’s Madeline Erickson has been named the Youth Advocate of the Year by the national Tobacco-Free Kids organization for her work to eliminate vaping. (KX Net)

Last Saturday was Hankinson’s 19th annual Oktoberfest celebration, which starts with the traditional tapping of the keg. (Wahpeton Daily News)

Belfield’s Ruth Johnson was honored with the fourth-annual Stark County Spirit of Excellence Award, given to “spotlight positive actions done by local people with the purpose to build morale throughout the county.”  Bonus, the story includes a compliment from a former student, who wrote, “My teach is a b**ch and her name is Mrs. Johnson.” 🙂 (Dickinson Press)

Congratulations to North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year, Bret Dockter of Harvey! (KVRR)

Putter | March 4, 2021

The weather is warming up, which means Kyle has started his springtime puttering.  It’s hard to put an exact definition to “puttering,” but it generally involves wandering around doing something – with a pretty hard emphasis on the “wandering” bit.  Puttering is less driven by a structured and scheduled set of activity and much more about just being there in case there is a thing in need of doing. 

On any given day, Kyle will put on his barn jacket and blow whatever the way the wind takes him.  Often he’ll be under the four-wheeler or the garden tractor.  Other times he’ll be digging through one of his 2,000 coffee cans filled with screws(?) and nails(?).  Sometimes, he and our neighbor will just stand and stare at our tree line while drinking pocket Miller Lites.  Once I watched Kyle start to roll up the plastic liner for our hockey rink, stop, look to the road, and then go to the backyard and rototill our vegetable garden.  The plastic liner didn’t get put away for two more weeks.  Puttering means he is both busy and completely carefree at the same time; like Schrodinger’s Cat, if the cat listened to podcasts and was constantly in the market for a bigger garage and/or garden shed.

Puttering is a shared family trait for all of the Kosior men.  My sister-in-law and I have spent many summer holidays sitting on the back deck watching the kids play in the pool while Kyle, his brothers, and his dad “Well, ya know” to one another and move vehicles back and forth and do things like “build a baseball backstop” and “fix Grandma’s old lamp that we found under this dirt pile.”  Kyle’s aforementioned coffee cans were inherited from his Grandpa Sim, and all of the Kosiors are very high and mighty when they are able to prove a purpose for one of the bits and bobs Sim puttered away – and, in doing so, end up with a few extra new parts to add to the cans.

My Canadian husband actually ended up in Grand Forks (where he met and married his wife, ahem) due to puttering, and this is that story:

The year was 2004.  An early springtime breeze had seeded in the first crop of above-zero temperatures, producing slushy sidewalks, red-breasted robins, and t-shirts as far as the eye could see.  Kyle drove along the Interstate, Johnny Cash in the CD player and coffee cans full of flotsam in his heart.  He was on his way back home from a visit to both his cousins and his top-choice law school in Michigan.

Suddenly, a flash of green on the roadside caught his eye.

“University of North Dakota School of Law” it read.  “One mile.”

The day and Kyle were young, and so he pulled off at the exit with the idea to putter around campus and see if this law school had anything in need of doing.

The first available parking spot was in front of the University coffee shop.  The air swirled with the scent of coffee cake, and so he put a pause on the school visit and moseyed inside to pick up a slice.

“Well, hey, you don’t see too many Edmonton Oilers fans around here,” the gentleman at the table next to him commented, pointing to Kyle’s sweatshirt.  The man’s son, it turned out, was friends with one of the Oilers’ newest draft picks.

Kyle and the man, who we shall call Cliff (not his real name), chatted hockey and coffee cake and weather.  Cliff asked Kyle what he was doing in town, and Kyle mentioned the roadside sign.

“Well, hey!”  Cliff said.  “I work over at the law school.  I tell you what I’m gonna do: I’m going to give you the best tour you’ve ever taken, and then you’re going to go to school here.” 

Our merry band of two puttered around the School of Law for a while, and a week later Kyle mailed in his application.

Summer shone in.  By then, Kyle had decided that North Dakota was the place to be; however, he had not yet received an acceptance letter.  His impatience got the better of him, and he phoned the secretary – whom he had met during his visit – at the school.  They had a nice chat, but the school had not yet decided on this year’s students.

“Call back in a week, okay?”  She told him.

He called back the following Tuesday, and the Tuesday after that, and the Tuesday after that.

Finally, she said, “I have the letters here on my desk.  I can’t tell you if you’ve been accepted, but if I stop talking, take that as a good sign.”

She stopped talking.  Two months later he rolled back onto campus.  He’s been puttering around town ever since.  The photo above is Kyle doing something.

This week’s news has happy wooden trees, cozy kids, and lots of dogs.  Read on.

The first-ever Stark County Spirit of Excellence Award has been given to Belfield’s Tom Tessier and Jack Schaff, who helped save a woman and her baby after their car flipped over. (KX Net)

A Hillsboro state trooper named Cody Harstad is starting a woodworking hobbyist club for those with new or developed carving skills. (Hillsboro Banner)

Kids in Watford City are $4,000 warmer thanks to a donation to purchase winter gear. (McKenzie County Farmer)

The Souris Valley Animal Shelter in Minot now has a host of new dogs after the Tulsa Humane Society become overwhelmed following the cold weather snap. (Minot Daily News)

Congratulations to Mandan’s Samantha Power, recipient of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Students Preparing for Academic and Research Career Award! (Bismarck Tribune)

Williston’s Special Wishes 4 is only a year old, but it has already helped over 2,000 people by re-homing donated items to those who need them. (KX Net)

Max’s Julie Mcelwain is preparing to publish the fifth book in her Kendra Donovan murder mystery series. (KX Net)

Do you know a burgeoning wildlife officer?  The ND Game Wardens Association has a scholarship to help get them on their way. (KX Net)

Mandan’s Summer Fike came back after a broken leg to take first place in the statewide girls wrestling tournament. (KX Net)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out last week’s tale about The Tooth Fairy, or this other story about Kyle.)