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)

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Hockey Bubbes | May 11, 2022

My ten-year-old’s hockey team closed out the spring season with a tournament in Minneapolis.  As his mother, I’m legally obligated to tell all of society (but, like, in a casual way) that they went undefeated, and won the championship, and my son and his friend (the team’s two goalies; they each play half-periods) had two shut-outs and the whole thing was very fun.

My parents live in the Cities and attended all of Ten’s games.  The championship was held on Mother’s Day – and so my mom recommended (by saying “Amanda, you need to drink more water and your next column will be about me”) that I use this week’s story to honor those mothers and grandmothers and aunties and next-door neighbors who give the entirety of their love and support to a child athlete without actually caring about the sport itself.  My mom calls them “Hockey Bubbes” because my children call her Bubbe (the Yiddish word for grandma) and so I’ll use that for simplicity’s sake – but really, Hockey Bubbe-dom transcends all activities, genders, ages, taste for concession stand hot dogs, and geographies.

There are three rules to being a Hockey Bubbe.

The first is that you can’t be bothered to learn the rules of the game.  My mother is currently teaching herself another language and has watched hundreds of hockey games; and while those two things are unrelated they are proof that she has both the intelligence and access to understand the general nuances of the sport.  She does not, however, have the interest.  As such, 100% of her understanding of hockey is that the puck has to go into the net more times on one side than the other in order for the game to end.  She knows that icing is more than a topping on a cake…but she definitely can’t identify an icing call when it happens. 

This lack of knowledge does not keep her from commenting on the game, of course; which she does from the puck drop to the handshake (I also have this gift of non-stop chatter, and I’d like to formally and deeply apologize to any past or future moms who have the misfortune of sitting in my general vicinity.  Thank you for not turning around and saying, “Jeepers creepers, Amanda, shut your piehole.”).  A Hockey Bubbe’s commentary is accurate maybe once every thousand times.  She will yell “Hustle!” during an end-zone penalty kill, or “Get to the net!” to a player who is already off-side.  At this recent tournament, the buzzer rang to indicate the end of the period.  One of the opposing players tipped the puck into the net as he skated back to the bench.

“Goal!”  My mom shouted at the ref.

“The period is over,” I said.

“So what?”  She said.

“So…the game is stopped,” I said.

“Well, that doesn’t seem very fair,” she said.

Fairness is the second rule of Hockey Bubbe-ness.  In the case of my mother, she wants everyone to have fun and feel good but she also only wants her own grandchildren to win.  As my son is the goalie, this means that she demands that every game end with a 1-0 score.

It also means she doesn’t like any cheering against her own grandchildren and/or their teammates.  My son was scored upon in the second game and the other team (unsurprisingly) celebrated.

“That is terrible,” my mother said.  “Look, they made him feel sad.”  And then, loudly, “That is terrible.”

A few seconds later, my son’s team scored, and my mother jumped to her feet and cheered,

“Great job, [kid’s name]!  Great job, [another kid’s name]!  Great job, [a third kid’s name who was not on the ice]!  Whoop whoop whoop whoop!  Beat their butts!”

Finally, the last rule of Hockey Bubbe-ing is to have opinions on everything.  Here are a few of the exact comments that came out of my mother’s mouth over the weekend:

“What was that penalty?  Hooking?  I think that was tripping.”

“That ref needs to stop blowing his whistle, I have things to do today.”

“I don’t like the color of those jerseys compared to the other team.”  And then, when it was communicated that the Home team always wears white, “I want to see a few alternates.”

Obviously, there is no greater fan than a Hockey Bubbe.  Also, obviously, there is no one who can move on from a game and onto the next activity faster.  To quote my mother when my son emerged from the locker room after his championship win: “You’re the best goalie in the world, now let’s go to lunch.” 

The photo above is of the boys holding their championship trophy – because, you know, legal obligation.

This week’s news has an interactive playground and not one, not two, but THREE TV shows.  Read on.

Connor George has a sweet new playset thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota. (Jamestown Sun)

Heart River Elementary School now has the first interactive indoor playground in North Dakota, which uses touch projection to keep kids active. (Dickinson Press)

Bismarck’s Cody Adolphson is the winner of the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” a TV show where bladesmiths recreate historical weapons. (Hot 97.5)

Congratulations to Halliday’s Chloe Fredericks, who made it all the way to the finale of NBC’s “American Song Contest.” (KFYR TV)

The Badlands will be front and center in a two-part NOVA science series called “Dinosaur Apocalypse,” which will feature the findings from a fossil site near Bowman. (Fargo Forum)

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Hop, Skip, and a Jog: The Amanda Kosior Running Story | February 16, 2022

This is typically the time of year when I take up running.  I am right type of person for running as I own a pair of sneakers, belong to a class of bipedal organisms, and say things like, “I can’t do a chin-up because I prefer cardio.”  Also, my natural state of movement is akin to a speedwalking 1980’s businesswoman – elbows up, emphatic stride, power skirt and sports socks – so it’s only a hop-step more to turning that into a light jog.

I have a habit of becoming a February runner because I the calendar gives me an unproven surge of hope that I will soon look unbelievable in a bathing suit.  By July I have given up on the beach-ish body and moved onto creating good workout habits, which is followed by a Fall that’s both a season and a description of how easily I justify the lack of time for exercise as soon as schedules get busy.  Then comes winter, and by mid-January I realize it’s almost my birthday and I’m winded from walking up the stairs to my office and strongly considering buying maternity pants “for the stretch.”

Running has always been a two-part activity for me.  Part One is all about preparation: finding the exact right mix of beat-thumping songs, drinking (and absorbing) a big glass of water, and then running about 200 steps before pausing in order to go to the bathroom.

Once I’ve done my Part One business, Part Two can begin in earnest.  Part Two starts with finding an entirely different set of beat-thumping songs, making a half-hearted attempt at stretching (so that my muscles aren’t stiff after my Part One “run”), and then actually running.

When we lived in the country, I’d lace up my sneakers and Velcro on my cell phone armband (obviously, I have a cell phone armband) and make a big show about going for a jog.  Our old house was surrounded by sections of farmland, and so a typical run for me would consist of jogging up one side of the section and back again – roughly two miles, if you didn’t count our laneway.  That road only saw a handful of cars a day, and so those runs were just me and the wind; which was good, because it really tested the strength of Kyle’s love when I returned home all red-faced, jiggly, and sweaty from the equivalent of a warm-up.

As you know, we moved into town in July.  One of the reasons I justified the move was so that I could get a membership to a gym/Fit Body Bootcamp/Orange Theory/ the latest hot mom thing and be fit all year round, and not just when the weather was cooperating.  You may be thinking, “But I live in the country and I have a gym membership?”  As a long-time sufferer from “Every Excuse in the Book”-it is, I struggled making regular use of the gym because of my inability to wake before 6:30 am unless the roof was being ripped off the house or a baby was crying…meaning that, in the country, I needed to work out at lunchtime or at night because I didn’t have an extra 40 minutes to spare in the morning (20-minute drive each way) to get to and from the gym and still get the kids to school and myself to work on time.

I did, one January, make an effort to exercise over my lunch break – but, as noted, I have impressively-active sweat glands which require me to shower after every run.  As an extremely lazy person who doesn’t really LOVE getting dressed once a day, needing to do the whole make-up, hairdo-ing twice in a four-hour period didn’t have long-term appeal.

Anyways, as noted, we moved to town in July.  By September I still hadn’t gotten that gym membership, and so I told Kyle I needed (“needed”) indoor space so that I could literally (and I don’t use the word “literally” lightly) clear away every possible excuse I could muster and finally work off the thousands of pounds of Hanukkah latkes I’ve been carrying around once and for all.  Kyle says yes to everything and so he agreed, and it was a hop, skip, and a jump (or rather, some rubber flooring and the absolute cheapest treadmill available on the Internet) later that I had a windowless bunker in the basement designated as the EXERCISE ROOM.

Now I, and my crappy treadmill (seriously, Fred Flintstone had a higher-quality rig; the first time Kyle saw me using it he asked, “Are treadmills supposed to shake like that?”) run whenever the mood, and a need to shower, strike me.  Kyle also hung an old TV in the bunker EXERCISE ROOM, so sometimes I work out when I want to watch an episode of the TV show “Velvet” without anyone judging bothering me.  As of this moment, my rate of both exercise and self-congratulations are up 100%.  My two-piece bathing suit purchases – and returns – are also up 100%.  Baby steps.

I didn’t want to post a picture of me running in the bunker because I have big dreams of putting my Pinterest skills to work and painting a mural in there.  So, the photo above is from the first and last time Kyle and I tried hot yoga back in 2006.  Notice how one of us is more red-faced than the other.  Also, that sweatshirt is normally a lighter grey color when it’s not covered in sweat, and I didn’t even wear it into the yoga room.

This week’s news has Jennifer Lopez, an online suicide support program, and advice from a 105-year-old.  Read on.

Jamestown’s Josh Brown has had an almost miraculous recovery after a four-wheeler accident. (KVRR)

The Bengals may not have won the Super Bowl, but they are still winners in Dickinson’s Gladys Weiler’s book. (KFYR TV)

Minot’s Ray Curtis is 105 years old, and credits his longevity to staying mentally and physically busy. (KX Net)

Thompson’s Allison McGauvran is helping take Altru’s TEARS suicide support program online. (Jamestown Sun)

Surrey’s Kelsey Bachmeier is now Kelsey Baeza thanks to a wedding ceremony courtesy of Jennifer Lopez and Maluma music video. (Minot Daily News)

Pick up your pick; a Jamestown coffee shop is hosting bluegrass jam sessions. (Valley City Times-Record)

I don’t know if this is really nice news, but it’s pretty funny.  The organizer of the Squirt B International interviewed a few Arizonians in town for the hockey tournament, and this is their take on the weather. (A side note: We flew into Phoenix a few years ago during an unusual cold snap – the temperature at 6pm was 67 degrees.  One of the employees at the hotel was wearing a parka, and when we commented on it, he said, “If it gets any colder I think I may freeze to death.”) (Fargo Forum)

I like to draft little stories, known as Flash Fiction amongst writers.  I thought I might post a few of them on North Dakota Nice this month because they are starting to pile up.  You can read one here entitled “How to Spot a North Dakotan” and another one here entitled “Keepin’ Busy.”