As I type this, THE SUN IS SHINING. We’ve had roughly 100000000 grey days in a row this spring and I tell you what, it starts to wear on a person – like a hat with bells which seemed like a whimsical idea in the store but turns out is the equivalent of self-induced tinnitus. I like rainy days and cozy darkness just like all women on Instagram, but I was one more set of clouds away from getting a Vitamin D lightbulb to sit under it while I shopped for a plane ticket to Yuma, Arizona – the sunniest place on Earth. These big, beautiful blue skies have completely cleansed my soul, like the feeling you get when you throw out a hat with bells on it. — click to read on.
My ten-year-old has been campaigning pretty hard for an axolotl. An axolotl, for those of you who aren’t up on your Minecraft animals and/or exotic amphibians, is a carnivorous salamander that lives under water, has frilly external gills, and looks like it’s always smiling. My ten-year-old is not getting an axolotl.
Ten wants an axolotl because he actually wants a dog – and if not a dog, a cat; and if not a cat, a guinea pig; and if not a guinea pig, a bunny; and if not a bunny, an axolotl. The thing is, Ten is allergic to pet dander. — click to read on.
I had a completely different story lined up for this week, but my friend Corey and I had…let’s call it a “situation”…regarding Scotcheroos and Special K Bars – after which he commented, “I bet this is going to end up on your blog,” and after about the third time he said it I thought, “Yup.”
First, however, we need to discuss the products in question. Both Scotcheroos and Special K Bars are dessert bars. — click to read on.
It’s springtime; and naturally, every passageway into our home is littered with the muddy shoes of our children and their friends. Of course, even if they were clean as a whistle those shoes would still be there – because every single North Dakotan is taught from birth to 1) never take the last item in a shared food situation; 2) have a “Well, that’s the way she goes” attitude towards the Minnesota Vikings; and 3) always remove their shoes when entering someone’s house.
The “No Shoe Rule” is so ingrained in our culture that our oldest son recently accepted his North Dakota birthright of keeping his sneakers permanently tied to the loosest state so that he can just step on the back of his heel and pull them off (and then back on) quickly – as has generations of his fellow statesmen have done before him.
The Academy Awards are my annual reminder that my eighteen-year-old self would be incredibly disappointed with my job choices. Twenty years ago, I made the decision to pivot from the entertainment industry to the hotsy-totsy world of architecture and construction. Prior to that, I had one career goal: to plan The Oscars.
This wasn’t one of those dreams that began and ended with a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio on my wall (although I did have that); I went to college for Public Relations – the degree-of-choice for the discerning event planner – and interned throughout college with movie and television studios and their related partners. It was those internships that made me realize that I was more cut out for popcorn and Leonardo DiCaprio posters and less Paramount paychecks and Disney business decisions because, when it came to working in the entertainment industry, I was two thumbs down.
We have reached the point in winter in which North Dakotans adopt the age-old adage, “Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, and park like you’re the only car in the lot.” From the months of April through December, a driver will identify an empty gap between two uniformly-striped parallel lines and maneuver their vehicle so it is placed between those two lines. From January to March, however, it’s less “neat and orderly lines of cars” and more “uffda, whatever.”
There’s a mathematical equation for when this occurs, which is [Amount and Color of Snow + Number of Previous Days Below-Zero] x [Everyone’s Feelings of Doneness in Regard to Winter]. When that result is greater than the number of North Dakotans traveling to Arizona, Florida, or Mexico, society’s laws of parking no longer apply.
Last weekend, my ten-year-old played in the Squirt International hockey tournament in Fargo, North Dakota. The “Squirt” in “Squirt International” refers to the age group in which he skates – specifically, fourth- and fifth-graders. My son, a fourth grader, is a first-year Squirt. I’m not sure why “Squirt” is the nationally-recognized term, but my guess is it has something to do with the fact that kids of this age like to hold their water bottles out in front of their pelvic region and squirt water/Gatorade all over the ice to simulate going to the bathroom.
The “International” part is because this tournament attracts 240 Squirt teams from all over the United States and Canada, who descend on Fargo for three four-day hockey tournaments (80 teams per weekend) in February.
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:
Hot dogs, bun optional
White carbs (all)
Every kind of candy ever invented
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.
It was my birthday last Saturday; I turned 42 years old. I like being 42. I wish I had been 42 when I was 32, you know what I mean? Actually, if I’m wishing for things, I’d prefer my 22-year-old body, my 32-year-old years, and my 42-year-old everything else.
You know who wouldn’t have wanted any of that? Twelve-year-old me. When I was twelve, I could have written a book called Everything in the World because I knew all of it – and I knew, for a fact, that I was perfection.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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’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.”
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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.