Sunshine and May | May 4, 2022

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.

Heavily Meditated | April 20, 2022

I don’t want to brag, but I am exceptionally good at worrying.  If there is a real (or assumed) situation, issue, non-issue, or potential future scenario in need of a place to settle in, my brain is always open for business.  It’s fortunate to be riddled with anxiety because it means that I get to wake up in the middle of the night and re-evaluate every word I’ve ever said to another human being, which is an efficient use of time that would normally be wasted by sleeping. — click to read on.

The Great Scotcheroo Debate of 2022 | April 13, 2022

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.

The Grand Forks Mercantile Exchange | March 23, 2022

This week, my company is moving out of our long-time downtown office space to a fancy new building about two blocks away.  The whole thing has been a little weird for me because I have worked in our old building – the Grand Forks Mercantile Exchange – for 17 years, which is two years longer than I’ve lived in any one house.

While I typically don’t like to talk about my job on here (I can’t imagine my coworkers would be pumped to know they were associated with this nonsense), I feel I owe it to the Merc Exchange to give it a proper sendoff.  Plus, I work for an architecture firm, and if anyone would forgive me for telling a building story it’s a bunch of architects.

The Library Room | March 16, 2022

As you know, we moved into our new house at the end of July 2021.  As you also know, the world has been struggling with shipping and supply chain issues.  So, as a result, Kyle and I have one room that is currently devoid of furniture.  We call it The Library Room.

Here is a picture of The Library Room as it looks right now.

The Apple Tree | March 9, 2022

Last week, the New York Post put up a graphic that identified North Dakota as “the best state at solving Wordle.”  I’m not sure my participation is helping those numbers, but I absolutely love Wordle because I love WORDS.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh man you are so deep I hope they have a Nobel Prize for deepness because you would win it” – but listen, some people like sports and other people like collecting decorative spoons and I like words.

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:

Chicken nuggets
Hot dogs, bun optional
Hard-boiled eggs
White carbs (all)
Babybel cheese
Ice cream
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.

Everything in the World, in part | February 2, 2022

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.

Hot tub | January 26, 2022

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.

Fun to Phone | January 19, 2022

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:

Hello, January | January 12, 2022

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:

The Mom Lounge | January 5, 2022

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.

Santa and the Sewing Machine | December 22, 2021

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.

A&E’s Great Restaurant | December 8, 2021

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.) 

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade | November 24, 2021

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:

Shorty | November 17, 2021

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.

Mrs. Teacher | November 10, 2021

I bumped into one of my old teachers at a concert the other evening.  I say “old” in that she was previously my teacher, and also because she retired shortly after I was in her class (I have that effect on people) and when I saw her she said, “Give me a hand here, I’m old.”

She also said, “Amanda, you can call me Mary.”*

To which I responded, “Why?”

Road trip | October 27, 2021

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.

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.

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: