A thing of beauty | May 18, 2022

I am writing this from a massage (which is aggressively vibrating like the engine room in a submarine) chair at the nail salon, where I am getting a pedicure.  Since you didn’t ask, my polish color is a coral-ish named “I Eat Mainely Lobster” – which is purely aspirational since the last time I had lobster was 2021 and it was a part of a bisque so its statehood was unknown.  I am getting a pedicure because society has generally agreed that painted toenails are a basic expectation of summertime grooming, like wearing a bathing suit under your clothes – or, in the case of my husband, as clothes – just in case.

I am very aware of society’s base-level expectations of beauty because I am the dictionary definition of doing the absolute bare minimum.  The other day I styled my hair after a lobster bisque-esque period of time of braids and ponytails, and three of my coworkers asked, “Whoa, why are you all dressed up?”  The week prior, I was complaining to my friend that I am starting to look old and she said, “Well…do you use…some…thing?”  Not, “Do you use this serum?” or “Have you tried this treatment?”  Just, “Do you put absolutely anything on your face besides the Earth’s oxygen?”

I wasn’t always like this.  Back in THE OLD DAYS, I would spend hours plucking and feathering and masking and filing, and squeezing things in and pushing things up, and saying “If I ever got a tattoo, it would be a permanent wing eyeliner” and “Ugh, no, I can’t wear that to Saturday brunch; that’s a Sunday brunch outfit.”  But then I became the mother of two boys, and it’s hard to put in a lot of effort when my target audience thinks the perfect look is a baseball cap, cut-off sweatpants, and a box of farts.

My sweet, darling, muddy, oblivious personal universe has very low expectations of my appearance because, as Kyle says, “They like me for me” (and for my ability to make macaroni and cheese).  For example, my ten-year-old tells me I look beautiful when I wear a pair of pajama bottoms with a satin waist-tie.  When I ask my seven-year-old to pick out earrings for me, he always goes to a fist-sized pair of sparkly jack-o-lanterns that I got for a Halloween costume because “They are the prettiest.”  That same seven-year-old went through a period where he would wipe things on my clothes (usually boogers) so that his own didn’t get dirty.

As my boys are perfectly satisfied with my appearance, it’s hard for me to justify (to myself) breaking away from all the mac-and-cheese compliments for spa treatments and shopping trips.  While I used to spend hours upon luxurious hours combing through clothing racks and testing out makeup samples, now my mantra is “Get in, get out, get back into those booger-wipers.”  A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to shop for a bit with another mom, and it had been so long since I’d browsed that I’d almost forgotten how to do it – as evidenced by the fact that I bought a crop-top see-through army green tank-top that I’m apparently going to wear on my leg because that’s the only place it will look good.

I know for a fact that my sons would go with me to get a pedicure if I asked.  They would sit there and hum along with the chair vibration and drink their little bottle of water and have a grand time – and then never willingly go back.  I know this because my seven-year-old recently pulled out my box of nail stuff and demanded a manicure, and I got halfway through one hand when he said, “That’s good,” and then spent the next week with one-half of one-hand haphazardly painted until he figured out he could pick off the remaining polish with a wooden sword.

Even though pedicures pull me away from my pajamas and fart boxes, and even though I have a nail salon’s worth of polish under my sink, I will do them forever because if my last bastion of beauty is lobster coral nails, you can bet your bippy that I’m tipping my sword to the professionals.

I’m not alone in this sentiment because I’m currently sitting next to a lovely woman who told me that she gets pedicures because she recently had knee surgery and it’s good for the scars when the pedicurist massages her legs.  “I suppose I could do it myself,” she said with North Dakota pragmatism.  “Why on Earth would you do that?”  I said.

At some point in the near future my children will no longer want to hang out with me, and then (possibly) I’ll get back to the glamorous life.  Or, maybe I’ll create a club for situationally-similar moms where we organize day-long fishing-and-bonding trips for our children and their fathers at resorts that are conveniently located near spas and mini-malls.  In the meantime, I will admire my perfectly-painted toes from the driver’s seat of a go-kart while my seven-year-old eloquently shouts, “We’re going so fast that my spit is coming out of my mouth!  VROOM VROOM VROOM!”

The photo above is of Kyle at said go-kart track in Fargo.   You’ll be happy to know that he is tall enough to ride the bumper cars.

This week’s news is about a marathoner, a makeover, and a mayor.  Read on.

Edmore’s Holden Mack is looking for the group of people who rescued him from his burning truck so that he can thank them in person. (Grand Forks Herald)

Alivia Lowery was Williston’s Mayor for a Day thanks to her award-winning essay. (Williston Herald)

After running his first marathon in Fargo in 2015, Grand Forks’ Nate Lizakowski is set to complete 50 marathons in 50 states. (Grand Forks Herald)

Children’s Park in Medora got a sweet new makeover thanks to a volunteer crew of 80, who power washed and re-stained all of the wooden equipment and replaced the rubber mulch. (Dickinson Press)

The Minot Girl Scouts Troop 10028 earned a badge for kindness by planting flowers, bagging and carrying groceries, and handing out cookies. (KX Net)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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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?”

Obviously, I said yes.  I said yes because I, too, know the plight of having a not-normal mother.  I said yes because, despite all of my teenage proclamations that I would be “totally normal when I grew up,” have become even more not-normal than the woman whose favorite catch phrase is, “Some people have normal mothers; you don’t.”  And, with my mom’s blessing, I am going to tell you about her today.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), my mom had a pretty typical Jewish Princess-type upbringing in central New Jersey.  She worked for my grandfather’s dental office.  She went on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.  She told her boss – not my grandfather, different job – that “he needed to make up his f*cking mind about anything” and then quit.  She hung out with the King of Sweden.  She married my father, a nice Jewish boy from North Dakota, and moved to Grand Forks – where she went from being “Robin Silverman” to “That New Yorker (New York and New Jersey are basically interchangeable to Midwesterners, ammiright?) who goes to Whitey’s, asks if the salmon is farmed or fresh, and then orders the steak no matter what the answer.”

Being from New York/Jersey may have made her stand out from the crowd for a little while, but my mom is, and was, nothing but adaptable.  By the time my little sister rolled around Mom had stopped locking her car doors, developed a taste for fried walleye, and was able to call soda “pop” without flinching.

Then, one day, my mother awoke after a vivid dream about a rose garden in North Carolina, booked a plane ticket, and then traveled to North Carolina and actually found that rose garden.  You know, the ol’ PTA-mom-who-goes-on-a-vision-quest story.

In finding that rose garden, my mother was convinced that something bigger was going on in the universe and she needed to learn more.

With that, Mom shrugged off this plane of existence and leaned hard into the New Age movement.  HARD.  Like “mystical crystals charged in the full moon” hard.  My mom became trained in transcendental meditation, went on spiritual adventures, had her aura cleansed.  She read books and attended retreats; she wrote books and hosted retreats.  She even convinced Hale Dwoskin, the author of The Sedona Method, to host a free three-day retreat in Casselton with the goal of making the entire town free of stress.  (The foundation of The Sedona Method is that you release the emotions around whatever is bothering you; and if I ever get too worked up about something Kyle will shout “RELEASE!” at me, which isn’t at all how it works but it’s certainly distracting enough.)

Today, thanks to Oprah and The Secret, New Age is more like “Age” because a lot of people are doing it; but back then, it was pretty frickin’ embarrassing to have a mother who detoxed her energy with mustard baths and made us store our electronics on bags of dirt “to keep them grounded.”  If I had a stomach ache, my mother’s first step would be to get me to release whatever negativity I was holding in my gut (her second step was Pepto Bismol; she wasn’t that far out there), which is exactly what a teenage girl wants to hear from her mother, especially around her friends.  I walked around with a permanent eye roll for two decades.

Then, one day, I woke up after an unremarkable dream and realized having an unusual mom was pretty nifty for three reasons:

One, she is living her authentic self.  I can assure you my mom has the same level of “I must be normal and fit in” anxiety as all the rest of us; however, she has figured out a way to push past that in order to do the things that make her happy.

Two, she wants everyone around her to be their own authentic selves.  I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone more committed to helping people live their best lives than my mother.  She is one of the least-judgmental people I know (unless you are actively trying to be a jerk to someone else, then the Jersey in her comes out), and doesn’t allow anyone to carry a burden that doesn’t do them any good.  It’s very freeing to have a conversation with her because she doesn’t think in a linear fashion.

Three, she is my mom. 🙂

Here’s wishing you an unusual or normal, but definitely very happy, new year!

The photo above is one of our past ChristmaHanukkah cards.

This week’s news has curling, a hand lended, and Plowasaurus Rex.  Read on.

Thank you to everyone who bought 40 North Dakota Nice stickers from Dorshie Designs!  Kenzie and I both matched the donations, and are so happy to have been able to support St. Joe’s Food Bank!

Edmore’s Ethan Sampson is headed to the 2022 World Juniors Curling Championships in Jonkoping, Sweden. (Devils Lake Journal)

It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the DOT has announced the names of eight snowplows.  My personal favorite is Plowasaurus Rex. (Bismarck Tribune)

An organization called “Lend A Hand Up” – supported by FM Raise Your Spirits and Gateway Chevrolet, as well as private donations – has gifted $2,500 to each of 17 families to help them with their non-medical medical expenses. (KVRR)

Minot’s Meals on Wheels delivered 200 Christmas gifts, via an Angel Tree, in order to spread holiday cheer to their participants. (KFYR TV)

The Dickinson Bad Pennies handed out food and presents to 22 families just in time for Christmas. (Dickinson Press)

Minot’s Lorraine McLeod and Lorine Tallerino, twin sisters, spend six weeks setting up their Christmas decorations for all to enjoy. (WANE)

Nice news of the day – September 5, 2018

“A labor of love in Edmore” (WDAY)

Almost 40 friends and families have stepped up to harvest Bryce Hoime’s fields as he battles paralyzing melanoma.  Said his daughter, Katie Hoime, to WDAY:

He’s kind, giving, caring and really has just always been in the community. Has always participated on boards and helping other farmers. He’s given his time. It’s crazy to think how many people are willing to give theirs back.

Watford City middle-schooler opens Paisley’s Treasures (MyNDNow)

Eleven-year old Paisley LeBaron has launched her first store to sell crafts and activity kits for other children.  Named Paisley’s Treasures, the store can be found online on Etsy and in-person in Minot, Garrison, and Watford City.  Paisley is saving 100% of the profits for college.

Williston businesses support library patrons for National Library Card Sign-Up Month (Williston Herald)

Businesses around Williston are offering discounts to shoppers who show a library card through the month of September.  Community members who sign up for a new card will receive a gift bag, and anyone who checks out a book will receive a giveaway.  It is free to get a library card.

photo by George Hodan