Halloween, costumes, and hugs | November 2, 2022

I’ve written about Halloween costumes every single year I’ve had North Dakota Nice because I love costumes.  Lerve them.  Looove them.  One of my favorite costumes was a Rainbow Brite get-up that I wore for Halloween in 1985 AND 1986 because it had striped tights and a plastic smock and was rad.  Nowadays, if you were to dress up as Rainbow Brite you’d get a blonde wig and a giant hairbow, but the 80s were pretty literal so my costume instead came with a full-head mask where the eyes were punched, not in the face, but in the hair – because nothing says “Gonna take you for a ride” like four eyeballs:

Another favorite costume was in college.  Two of my roommates were English majors and I was an English minor, and we dressed up as a Prepositional Phrase.  Specifically, we were the phrase, “Against the wall,” with each of us wearing a t-shirt with one of the words (I was the “The”).  Exactly zero of our fellow Halloween partygoers got it; and when we educated them on our cleverness, most people nodded slowly and said, “Huh.” before wandering off.  (The following year I was a Sexy Pirate and everyone seemed to have a handle on that.)

The only thing I like more than costumes are hugs.  My dream job would be to be a Disney Princess, because dressing up like Sleeping Beauty and hugging kids all day sounds like a 1985 Rainbow Brite costume (i.e. rad).  However, it turns out you need to be “tall” and “beautiful” and not “short” and “Jewish-y-looking” to be a Disney Sleeping Beauty, so I guess I’ll just have to bide my time until Feivel Mousekewitz from An American Tail really takes off (what kid DOESN’T see themselves in a depressing story about escaping Russian pogroms?!).

Women (and maybe men, too, what do I know) love to talk about our Love Languages – Compliments, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Buying Candles And Then Never Burning Them.  My language is, obviously, Physical Touch.  I love hugs.  Lerve them.  I love strong hugs, wimpy hugs, one-arm side hugs, whatever.  If I had my way, I’d hug every one of my coworkers before and after work (and then I’d hug H.R. after they inevitably brought me in for a “Keep your hands to yourself” chat).  My little sister is my gold standard for hugging.  Her hugs are warm and smushy and smell great.  She could give me a birthday coupon for a ten-minute hug AND I WOULD USE IT, I REALLY WOULD.

Kyle’s family’s Love Language is No Touching – so much so that when we first got engaged and I was in the process of meeting his extended family my sister-in-law would go in ahead of me and warn them, “Hey, everyone, Amanda’s a hugger,” so they could steel themselves for what was to come.  However, for a family that doesn’t like touching they are incredibly good huggers, and I know because after seventeen years together they will initiate my hugs just to get them out of the way.

North Dakota is also not big on touching.  North Dakotans don’t even really like touching themselves (gross, not like that).  For example, I have been to many, many movies in the theater (humble brag).  In every non-North Dakota U.S. state where I’ve seen a movie, someone has applauded at some point during the film.  I have never, ever been to a movie in North Dakota where someone in the audience has felt compelled to clap.  This does not mean that North Dakotans don’t like the movies.  Au contraire.  It means they show their affection in other respectfully-distanced ways, such as wearing a humorous t-shirt with the movie’s tagline on it or telling their friends of their partiality towards the cinema.

Like my sister, North Dakotans are warm (and smell great); and, of course, they WILL hug; it’s just not their first instinct when engaging with someone.  “Well, everyone is like that, Amanda,” you may be thinking.  Listen, I lived in Boston for six years, my sister lived in Los Angeles for a decade, and our mom’s entire side of the family is on the East Coast – and I can tell you with confidence that East and West Coasters not only hug, but kiss one another like they are trying to win a numbers competition.  In more than one instance I have been introduced to an East or West Coaster who kissed me on the LIPS, and I honestly and truly can’t imagine what would happen if I did that to a North Dakotan (wait, yes I can – they would kiss me back and then avoid me for the rest of my life).

While the Kosiors are family and can’t avoid my hugs, I try not to put my fellow North Dakotans in a similarly awkward position.  However, I still need my daily touches, so I’ve taken to patting people on their back and/or arm as a consolation: “I’m so happy to see you [pat pat].”  “How have you been [pat pat]?”  “You look great [pat pat pat]!”  I’ve also found that if I pat people enough, over time they will hug me when they see me…so, double win.

Last night was the most beautiful Halloween in memory: sixty degrees, nary a whisper of wind, and a sun that shone all the way to sunset.  Kyle and I took our seven-year-old trick-or-treating (Eleven went with his friends); and Seven, who normally likes hugs about as much as his father, was so taken in by the weather, the candy, the decorations, and the spookiness that he actually stopped other children for a hug (or a pat) at various intervals throughout the evening.  I sneaked a couple from him since he was handing them out so willingly, and for a few brief seconds I was fulfilling my dream of being a Disney Princess – wearing my high school letterman jacket, but close enough.

The photo above is of me and my little anti-hugger.

I say this every year, but I am so touched by the fact that the entire Grand Forks comes together to make sure Halloween is a great time for all of our children.  Some of the neighborhoods must have received 2,000+ kids per house (I saw one news report that said 5,000 for a particular street), and they leaned into it with big-time decorations, food trucks, and teenagers tapped to play crossing guards on the busier streets.

Here is my favorite story from last night: We were walking through a sea, A SEA, of people when Seven screeched, “LOOK, IT’S PATRICK STAR!”  Lumbering straight at us was a 7’ tall blow-up costume of Patrick Star from the TV show Spongebob Squarepants.  “HI, PATRICK!” Seven shouted through the crowd.  “Patrick” walked a few steps past us, turned around, and from somewhere around his navel the voice of an elementary-aged boy yelled, “S’UP!”  He then turned around and disappeared into the throngs.  (Unrelated: from this point forward, I shall only respond to greetings with “S’UP!”)

This week’s news has Meatloaf and potato salad.  Read on.

That’s it, I’m calling it – this is the Nice Story of the Year: two kids in Minot realized a candy bucket was empty, so they refilled it from their own stash. (KFYR TV)

Twins Eddie and Vinny Opp are Halloween-famous around Hillsboro for their amazing costumes. (Hillsboro Banner)

Dickinson’s Eric Sticka is on the road to recovery with the support of the Sticka Strong community. (KFYR TV)

Fargo’s Big Boy, Meatloaf, Cinnamon, and Buggy are Internet celebrities. (Fargo Forum)

Speaking of famous, Eva Schlepp’s potato salad is the talk of the town in Ashley. (KFYR TV)

Bismarck teacher Robert Fuller competed – and took Silver! – at the International Powerlifting Federation’s World Masters Men’s Classic Championships. (KFYR TV)

Dickinson artist Linda Little has sculpted a bronze statue of Medora de Vallombrosa – the namesake of Medora – and has installed it at the Von Hoffman house in Medora. (Dickinson Press)

A two-hundred-year-old tree needed to come down due to Dutch Elm Disease, and so Bismarck carpenter Michael Knodel has spent over 1,000 hours creating “something special for the city of Lisbon.” (KFYR TV)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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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:


If you ask me, the last person to look cool with a cell phone was Zack Morris.  It’s so uncool, in fact, to talk on a cell phone that we have basically given up on it as a society.  On the other hand, there was (and is) something so satisfyingly tactile about holding a push-button – or, even better, rotary – phone, twirling the cord through your fingers while you discuss your favorite New Kid on the Block.

My romance with telephones goes back to my childhood.  My family and I once went to dinner at the Four Seasons in New York City, and my grandfather requested a phone be brought to the table so that we could call my other grandparents back in Grand Forks.  The waiter carried it out on a silver tray.  We said exactly three sentences to my grandparents, and it remains one of the most glamorous things that has ever happened to me in my life.

Back before social media and text messages, the only way to find out what was going on with someone was to speak to them.  So, at night, my mother would post up in the kitchen, feet on a dining chair, spinning her Rolodex back and forth while she called her friends to check on their lives.  Sundays were reserved for calls with my grandparents, and we had to wait in the living room for our turn to speak because it was a long-distance call and running off to go play meant wasting precious minutes.

(Speaking of minutes, in the late 80’s my dad got my mom a car phone for emergencies.  It was a little box connected to the passenger side of the front-seat console, and the push buttons were on the phone instead of below it – which was a novelty unto itself, nevermind the fact that it was a PHONE in the CAR.  Phone calls cost $1 a minute; which, in the 1980’s, apparently roughly translated to a million dollars today because my mother absolutely refused to use that phone under any circumstance.  Anyways, one night, my mom got a flat tire when we were out driving in the country, and she sat there for a good five-count working out if it was a true “emergency” before calling my dad.  Their conversation went like this:

Dad: Hello?

Mom: I have a flat tire we’re on Highway 2 about two miles out come get us.  Bye.)

For my 15th birthday, I was gifted a see-through corded phone that lit up when it rang and looked like this:


CLEARLY, this was and still is the coolest piece of technology ever created.  Along with this phone, I was gifted my own phone number, which made the raddest phone even radder.  Back in the olden days (and maybe still now), parents could get their kids their own number as an off-shoot from their main phone line – so my awesome friends could call me directly on my awesome phone without it ringing to the whole house.  The downside, of course, was that if someone was talking on the main line, the party lines were also busy; but that was a problem that could be rectified (10% of the time) by shouting, “MOOOOOOOOOOOM, I’M WAITING FOR A CALLLLLLL.”

I spent hours upon hours lying on my side on my bed, the phone resting on my face (hands free!) talking to my best friend after spending the entire day with her.  My friends and I also used that phone to call BOYS, and also the radio station in order to request songs.  I can’t say we had any meaningful conversations with the any boys, but I do remember calling one of them so that we could both listen to the same requested song on the radio at our own respective houses.

(Speaking of party lines, Kyle grew up in a rural town of 200 people.  His family’s phone number was four digits; when his dad was a kit, it was only two.  His grandma and grandpa lived just outside of town and were on a party line with several other houses, and when the boys went to visit their grandparents they liked to pick up the phone and listen to whomever was on it.)

When I left for college, my first three purchases were a TV/VCR combo, a cordless phone, and a calling card.  I needed the calling card so that I could speak to my boyfriend back at home – which I did in five-minute increments so as to not use up the card too quickly.  Like my see-through phone and TV/VCR combo, calling cards were also rockin’ technology because they could be used in payphones, too – so no need to tote around a five-pound bag of change in your backpack.

I got a cell phone in my final year of college.  When I met Kyle a few years later, he would text me on my cell phone to let me know he was going to call, and then he’d ring my landline.  We kept the landline until my father-in-law traded in his bag phone (when his truck started on fire, he went back for that phone) for a cell phone, and then packed up the cordless in a box marked “Stuff we may need.”

Despite the fact that Kyle has always wanted a rotary wall phone, it turns out we haven’t needed that landline for over fifteen years.  Even if we still had it, the days of phone etiquette (“Hello?”  “Hello, this is Amanda Silverman.  Who is this?”) are over.  A few years ago, we took our kids to a hotel and asked our five-year-old to call down to the front desk.  He held the receiver about six inches away from his face for the entire conversation – because he had only ever seen us talk on speaker phone and didn’t realize he should have put the phone up to his year.

Today, we are so connected to one another that the excitement of a phone call is long gone, so much so that people – specifically, me – don’t even notice when the phone is ringing.  Someday we’ll be long beyond text messages and video chats and only communicate by ESP (and my family will still have to message Kyle to get me to answer).  Until then, I’ll still have my TV/VCR combo.

The picture at the top of the page is of me.

This week’s news has 16 Alaskan Huskies (driven by a teenager), an 11-year-old with a championship breast stroke, and Somebody Somewhere.  Read on.

Sending best – and warm – wishes to Cavalier’s Eva Robinson, who is training in Alaska in anticipation of the Junior Iditarod. (KXNet)

Hillsboro’s Treyvion Johnson is only 11 years old, and already winning national titles in swimming. (Hillsboro Banner)

Grand Forks’ Katie Edwards set up a Wish List for area teachers to request classroom items that they would normally pay for out of pocket or go without, and the community has started making them happen. (Grand Forks Herald)

In “this is really cute” news, Bismarck’s Susan Wefald and Nancy Willis are trying to find the community’s biggest trees. (KFYR TV)

And in North Dakota-adjacent news, East Grand Forks’ Paul Thureen is a writer for the HBO Max show “Somebody Somewhere” and everyone I know that has seen it says it’s a great example of real life in the Midwest. (PS, Kyle and I are going to watch it after we finish binging “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The Righteous Gemstones.”) (Yahoo! News)

Bismarck’s Laurie Kunz was surprised with a car(!) by her coworkers and a local dealership after her own vehicle broke down and she didn’t have the money for repairs. (KX Net)

Mandan’s Mary Stark Elementary is one of four schools in the country to receive a grant for heart-friendly equipment. (KX Net)

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.

It’s so cold in the Bill Jerome Arena that if you say, “I’m going to the Bill Jerome Arena,” North Dakotans are legally obligated to say, “Dress warmly, it’s really cold there.”  How cold is it, you may ask?  Well, I was wearing boots and two pairs of socks and still walked (hobbled) out of there with frostnip on my toes.  FER REAL.

My situation was 1000% my own fault because the good people of Devils Lake – who really should start selling electric socks imprinted with the Hockey Association’s logo – built a two-story Mom Lounge heated to the temperature of Arizona springtime.  It was so warm and lovely in the Mom Lounge that my 6-year-old shed his jacket within the first five minutes of being inside.  I did not partake of the Mom Lounge because all the Grand Forks parents sat on the ice and I didn’t want them to think my momma raised a wuss (which she totally did, and I’m sure I’m going to get an email from her about this later).  Lesson learned.

Now, the Mom Lounge at the Bill Jerome Arena is not actually called the Mom Lounge.  It’s called the lobby or something, as is the case at every other rink out there with a similar space.  It’s also not only for moms; kids use it, as well as grandmas and (sometimes) grandpas.  For whatever reason, though, dads (and the majority of grandpas) will only come into the Mom Lounge during a game if they need to pretend to talk to one of the moms so they can warm up – which is why Mom Lounges are designed specifically for moms to sit and lord over everything and everyone in the rink.

All Mom Lounges have the same three features:

  1. Heat.
  2. The ability to seat two sets of 12-18 moms each without the sets intermingling. (These seats range from metal bleacher seats to padded stadium seating.  I’m surprised no one has lined up a bunch of pedicure massage chairs yet, but I guess they don’t want to deal with the splashing every time there’s a goal.)
  3. A glass divider between the Mom Lounge and the action on the ice.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Obviously, there would be glass.  How else would the moms watch the game?”  There is an alternative, of course, which would be open balcony seating like at the opera.  (A “hockera,” if you will.)  However, the glass is crucial because it provides a sound barrier.  Except for loud cheers and whistles, the moms can’t hear the game, and the game can’t hear the moms.  Additionally, as noted, since the two sets of moms are not intermingled, if each group talks low enough they can only hear their own mom compadres and not those of the other team.  As a result, the moms are able to provide a murmured running game commentary to one another, which goes something like this:

Mom 1, not Jack’s mom: “Great pass, Jack.”

Mom 2, not Jack’s mom, either: “Attaboy, Jack.”

Mom 3, Jack’s mom: “Good job getting there, Liam.”

Mom 4, Liam’s mom: “They are doing awesome today.”

Mom 5: “It must have been all of that pool time at the hotel last night.”

[The moms laugh at a normal volume, and then return to a low tone.]

Mom 6: “Or the Gatorade powder in the goodie bags.”

Mom 1: “Those bags were really nice.”

Mom 2: “Yeah, I found them at Michael’s.  I had a 20% off coupon.”

Moms 3-12: “Nice.”

Mom 8: “Sometimes I have good luck at Hobby – WHOO HOO!  GREAT SHOT!”

[The moms cheer; one mom pounds on the glass.]


Mom 9, Nash’s mom: “GREAT TEAM EFFORT!”

Mom 2: “They were really working for that goal.”

Mom 5: “Everyone was in the right position.”

Mom 10: “I can’t get over how much they have improved.”

Mom 11: “We’re lucky to have such good coaches.”

Mom 2: “Look at how much those other coaches are yelling.  Terrible.”

Mom 4: “HEY, SLASHING!  These refs never call anything.”

Mom 5: “Except for Noah’s high-stick in the second period.”

[The moms laugh.]

Mom 10, Noah’s mom: “He can’t keep that stick down.  He used to walk around with it like a torch when he was a baby.”

[The moms laugh.]

Mom 3: “What’s the plan for dinner after this?”

I think we should consider instituting Mom Lounges in other aspects of our lives.  I’m sure my mother would love to sit behind a glass wall with her friends and watch me work:

“Look at her type!”

“She is so good on the phone.”

“She did like to talk a lot as a baby, hahahahahaha.”

I work at an architecture firm; if you start seeing these rooms pop up on plans, tell your mom.

The photo above is of the Bill Jerome Arena.  I should have taken a photo at the Devils Lake Walmart, where a kind gentleman insisted I go in front of him at the checkout because I only had two things and he had a bunch.  His “bunch” consisted of five items, so we gently fought about it for a few seconds.  Thank you, nice person at the Devils Lake Walmart; my son was happy to get that Gatorade a little bit sooner.

(PS: Want more hockey stories?  Click here and here and here and here and here.)

This week’s news has a boy named Liam (no relation to the above), a dog named Dreamer, and BABIES.  Read on.

Welcome to the world, Ashley Luna Olson of Willow City and David Sanchez II of Williston – the first babies born at Trinity Health in Minot, CHI St. Alexius Health in Williston, respectively, in 2022! (KFYR TV)

Welcome to the world, Jo’halaniJane Wolford of Bismarck – the first baby born at Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck in 2022! (Bismarck Tribune)

Welcome to the world, Decker Tobkin of Fargo – the first baby born at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo in 2022! (Fargo Forum)

Welcome to the world, Knox Bryan Walden of Leal – the first baby born at Jamestown Regional Medical Center in 2022! (Jamestown Sun)

I was following this story on social media and it is pretty upsetting, but has a happy ending thanks to a bunch of volunteers and kind-hearted folks.  An abandoned, hypothermic dog named Dreamer was found by Randy Spokely of Hillsboro, rescued and fostered by Journey Home Animal Rescue in Grand Forks, given emergency care by Red River Animal Emergency Hospital in Fargo, and financially supported by hundreds of donors. (Fargo Forum)

Six-year-old Liam Nebeker of Williston traded candy canes with family members in order to donate Christmas gifts to the Family Crisis Shelter. (KFYR TV)