Better let you go | March 8, 2023

If you are a North Dakotan, you know there’s a darker – but not like “Darth Vader” dark, more like “grumpy Death Star janitor” grey – side to the concept of “North Dakota Nice.”  Specifically, North Dakotans tend to struggle with direct negativity; meaning that if there is something not-so-nice we feel we need to communicate, we do it in a passive-aggressive fashion.  For example, if you say to a North Dakotan, “I think light ranch dressing tastes the same as regular ranch,” and the North Dakotan responds, “Oh, yeah?” in a casual and off-hand way, what that North Dakotan is actually saying is, “You must have lost your taste buds on a ranch dressing farm because nowhere in the frickin’ universe is that statement true.”

I was talking to a friend of mine (who worked for many years in city government so HE KNOWS) about these not-nice-isms and he reminded me of the meanest thing one North Dakotan can say to another: “Well, I’d better let you go.”  The translation of “Well, I’d better let you go” is “The only place I need to be in this world right now is as far away from you as possible.”  I had this conversation with my friend at a wedding reception last year and he ended our chat a few minutes later with “Well, I’d better let you go,” and he laughed and I laughed and I said, “Well, I’d better let YOU go,” and he laughed again and I laughed again and we haven’t spoken to each other since.

You may be thinking, “What’s so mean about ‘I’d better let you go?’  You’re just recognizing a person may have other things to do and giving them the space and time to go about them.”  You may also be thinking, “I’ve heard that Midwesterners take forever to say goodbye, so ‘I’d better let you go’ is a good way to put closure on those transactions without making it seem like you are overly-important.”  In both cases, you’re generally correct: North Dakotans are afraid of inconveniencing another person, and we (not ME, but most other North Dakotans) don’t like to make anything about ourselves (again, I have no problem with this, but other people do).  As such, we have for-real-nice responses for those scenarios; for instance:

This past weekend, Kyle and I ran into two of our friends at the rink before a hockey game.  The wife commented soon after the greeting that they had to go up to the third level to find their seats, which were different from their usual lower-bowl seats and therefore unknown.  Kyle and I, too, were on the move – we had people waiting for us in our own spot.  After we had talked for a bit, I said to Kyle, “We should let them find their seats before the game starts,” thereby acknowledging they had somewhere specific to be in a timely manner per their own indication and using that to achieve our own exit goals.

And another example: I was traveling for work a few years ago and found myself seated next to a friend on the airplane.  It was a late-night flight, and we both were tired.  We chatted during takeoff and the drink service, until I tipped back the last of my ginger ale and set it on the tray.  “Yep,” she said, in reference to nothing.  I nodded.  We sat in silence for a moment, and then she pulled out a book and I closed my eyes and our conversation came to an agreed-upon end.

My son had a hockey tournament earlier this winter.  After the kids went to bed, the parents went down to the hotel lounge for a chat.  On my left was seated one of my dad-friends (this story is just a “LOOK AT ALL THE FRIENDS I HAVE” brag-fest); On my right was a mom-friend (jeepers, Amanda, we get it, you have multiple friends).  The mom was engaged in a rapt discussion with the mom on her other side, and so I turned to the dad and said, “How’s work?”

“Good,” he said.  “How’s work for you?”

With that, I held him hostage for a solid hour.  Around the thirty-minute mark, he excused himself to get a drink – a perfect out – but another dad appeared out of thin air with a beverage and so he sat back down.  I came up for air fifteen minutes later and he said, “Yep,” and I nodded and then KEPT ON TALKING because the crazy train was well out of the station, choo-choo.  Finally, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Well, I’d better let you go.” 

Obviously, I can never speak to him ever again.  Outside of no longer being human because I spontaneously melted into a puddle of embarrassment, avoiding this dad has been made difficult by the fact that he is, as noted, my friend (but really, Kyle’s friend – which, if I’m being honest, is probably the case in 75% of our friendships) and so I see him all the time.  In fact, he recently came to my house to pick up his child, who was playing with my child.  This is how that interaction went:

HIM: Hi, Amanda.  Is my son here?

ME: Yes.

[Gets kid, who takes an interminable amount of time putting on his shoes]

HIM: Work good?

ME: [Nods] You?

HIM: [Nods, gestures to the car] Gotta get to the gas station before supper.

ME: Yep.

HIM: [Nods, exits]

Anyways, if you are ever “Well, I’d better let you go”-ed by a North Dakotan and you feel like being a little saucy, respond back with, “No, it’s okay, I don’t have anywhere to be.” 


The photo above doesn’t have anything to do with anything, except that it’s pretty hard to have a bad day when Kyle wears that hat.

My amazing sister-in-law makes meditation music for a number of platforms, and she recently made a track ABOUT ME.  I’ve listened to it on repeat since she created it (and my wonderful and artistic niece made the cover art!).  Check it out. (Spotify)

I mean, this story is just so cute. (KFYR TV)

 Linton’s Dan Carr is the first head coach in North Dakota to reach 800 career wins. (KX Net)

Ready for spring?  The Fargo Public Library has free seeds to help you get started on your garden. (Valley News Live)

The Bismarck/Mandan Capital City Ice Chips synchronized skating team are national champions! (KFYR TV)

Good luck to Minot’s Gabby Johnson is on her way to nationals, having been crowned the North Dakota state poetry champion. (KFYR TV)

Fargo’s Alexis Engelking and Aaron Gnoinsky (‘s house) took center stage on on a recent episode of “House Hunters.” (Fargo Forum)

The Girls Class B basketball tournament is able to happen thanks to the help of 150 volunteers. (KFYR TV)

This is the car version of the “I know a guy who wears shorts all year ‘round.” (KFYR TV)

 The Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society is planning a Japanese Garden in Fargo in celebration of the non-profit’s 25th anniversary. (Valley News Live)

Did you see the story I posted this week about the Theodore Roosevelt Public Library?  Check it out. (North Dakota Nice)

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Friendship is Magic | September 21, 2022

I had a pretty craptastic week last week.  There wasn’t anything that would be deemed an actual, real problem – I was coming off of a cold, Kyle went out of town for work just as both of our kids decided to have their own minor ordeals, my band didn’t get hired and then my nonconformist friend needed me to go back in time with him to make sure my parents fell in love at the school dance or else I’d cease to exist, etc etc – but combined made it one of those situations where my nightly routine was to get in bed and think, “Blech.”

Fortunately, though, there were a few bright spots (specifically, people) that ultimately got me back on the path to jollyville, and so I’m going to tell you about two (technically three) of them now.

The Cushman Classic is an annual football game between Grand Forks Central High School and Grand Forks Red River High School.  The first Cushman Classic was held in 1997; since then, it’s grown to a communitywide event with bouncy castles, dunk tanks, face painting, and, of course, chips-and-queso (Grand Forks loves queso almost as much as ranch dressing).  If that wasn’t enough fun-ness, this year, a bunch of my eleven-year-old’s friends were playing in their own mini-football game on the field during the half.

By the time gameday rolled around, I was so pooped out by the week’s suck that I only wanted to curl up on the couch in my “Fri-YAY” underpants with a bowl of ranch dressing in one hand and a bowl of queso in the other.  Since Kyle was out of town on his aforementioned work trip, however, it was up to me to feed and care for my children…and also to take my son (and, by lack of a babysitter, his unwilling younger brother) and his buddy to the Cushman Classic as promised.

You know how in Looney Tunes when a character is disheartened they drag themselves, weighted by their melancholy, through the motions while a mournful violin plays in the background?  That was me through the making and cleaning up of an uninspired soup-and-sandwiches supper, through the half-assed brushing of my hair, and through agreeing to absolutely whatever my children wanted so long as they ate eat some portion of their meal (“You want cotton candy at the game?  Sure.  You want a Coke at the game?  Sure.  You want cocaine at the game?  Sure.”).  I was begrudgingly tying my shoes when I heard my son’s friend pull up and his dad have a short conversation with the kids before popping his head in the back door.

“Hey, Amanda,” the dad said.  “Do you want me to take the boys to the game?”

Now, I’m sure he was doing this to be polite after my son probably told him that Kyle was out of town.  Also, I’m sure he had something to do after dropping off his son at my house that didn’t involve high school football.  So, my brain told me to say, “No, thanks, we’ll have a great time.”

Instead, my mouth said, “You know, that would be awesome.”

While my eleven-year-old went to the Cushman Classic with his friend and his friend’s dad and had a whale of a time (someone streaked across the field, so they could have cancelled the game right then and there and it would have been a major success to those boys), my seven-year-old and I got ice cream and popcorn and watched Minions: Rise of Gru (v good) in our jammies and the entire week turned around with the absolute nicest, most necessary-in-the-moment gesture.

Okay, the second story: Kyle and I have been good friends with this (now) married couple for almost as long as we’ve known one another.  They are the type of good friends who stick with you even when you become terrible friends.  For example, we were some of the first of our group to become parents – thereby going from SUPERFUN Kosiors to REALLY BORING WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS WITH THEIR BABY Kosiors.  Because they are good friends, this couple would organize movie dates by selecting the film with the lowest possibility of an audience, and then sitting there with us and our baby in an empty theater watching movies like Cowboys Versus Aliens (which was undeserving of its universal panning, by the way).

In addition to being good friends, this couple is really smart.  Kyle is also really smart, so when the four of us get together at least once during the gathering I will think to myself, “I am the dumbest person here.”  Before you’re like, “Aww, Amanda, you’re smart, too,” listen: we all have our interests and skills.  For Kyle and our friends, it’s historic, scientific, and world-based knowledge.  For me, if there was a Jeopardy series solely about Laura Ingalls Wilder and quotes from the movie Back to the Future THEN I WOULD CLEAN UP, I REALLY WOULD.

Our most common get-together with this couple is to go to lunch, during which we do the “Tidbits” trivia.  “Tidbits” is a free newsletter in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks that is basically everything great about a newsletter – in its own (accurate) words, “[‘Tidbits’ is a] non-controversial, weekly paper dedicated to publishing entertaining morsels for the mind, food for thought as it were: trivia, fun facts, amusing stories and oddities.”

There are two trivia segments in “Tidbits,” one for sports, and one for general trivia, which is usually on the same theme as the week’s newsletter topic itself. One of the reasons why “Tidbits” is so charming is because of its fast-and-loose attention to detail in the trivia.  For example, this past week’s theme was “Four-Letter Words” and one of the questions was, “What’s the largest country in Europe?”  The answer was “Russia,” and Kyle and our two friends spent the rest of the lunch discussing how much of the Russian population was actually IN Europe and what role the Urals played in that population spread.

(In case you were wondering, my guess for that question was, “Asia.”  Obviously, I knew that Asia is neither a country nor in Europe – but it was the only four-letter place I could think of; I’m the dummy of the group, anyways; and, most importantly, the answers in “Tidbits” often require a bit, “Well, whatever”-ing…like how “Russia” being is in Europe and spelled with four letters.)

In addition to enjoying lunch with our friends, I like doing “Tidbits” trivia with them because I can be the information deadweight and still answer like 40% of the questions correctly.  In fact, the writers of “Tidbits” must anticipate dumb-dumbs like me needing a little nudge in the right direction (I guess “Babe Ruth” for every single sports question) because my friend shared this gem from one of the past issues and I haven’t stopped laughing about it:

If the image didn’t show up, the question is this: “How many NFL teams do not have an official mascot? (hint: 5 teams)”

Anyways, those three people (and “Tidbits”) helped right my ship, and this week started off about much, much better than the last.

The photo above was taken at the hospital gala this past weekend.  Last year, I had gotten rid of all of my fancy dresses in the move and had to wear a pink-sequined ice skater number that I had originally purchased as a Halloween costume (I think it’s on my Instagram if you feel like scrolling, which I do not).  For my birthday this year, Kyle got me a real dress so that we could look like a normal couple, and not like a normal Kyle and his pretty-sparkle-unicorn-princess wife.

This week’s news has Family Feud and Chateau Nuts. Read on.

In “These people are living out my childhood/adult dream” news, the Meyhuber Family of Fargo will soon be contestants on “Family Feud.” (KVRR)

Grand Forks County’s Shane Rothenberger – the only drug recognition expert and the first cultural liaison officer for the GFCSO – is the third North Dakotan to be named to the International Association  of Chiefs of Police’s 40 Under 40 list. (Grand Forks Herald)

In “News we all knew was happening but in true North Dakota fashion kept it a secret,” two North Dakotans got married a couple of weeks ago. (Facebook)

Linton Public School, Larimore Elementary School, and Roosevelt Elementary School in Bismarck have all been named Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education. (Valley News Live)

If you are thinking of visiting Medora anytime soon, you should probably check out Chateau Nuts in Medora. (Fargo Forum)

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Hockey Tournaments | March 25, 2021

I saw a mug the other day that read, “I didn’t realize I had to know everything by my second rodeo.  Seems like a pretty small number of rodeos.”  The closest I’ve gotten to a bull is through my credit card (get it, because they both charge), but I do know that two times is plenty when it comes to mastering another type of event: youth hockey tournaments.  And because we just came back from my third out-of-town youth tournament, I’d like to use this opportunity to recognize its unsung heroes: Usually, The Moms.

Youth hockey tournaments are a wild ride because they are simultaneously 100% and 0% about hockey.  In this particular tournament my nine-year-old played in three games over two days: two on Saturday, one on Sunday.  Each of his gameplays required a sprinted checklist of unpacking/drying/repacking equipment and kids, cajoling snacks/chocolate milk/chicken fingers into said kids, traveling to and from the rink, buckling up goalie equipment, filling water bottles and taping sticks, and watching the game closely enough so as to answer questions such as, “What were your top five favorite saves that I made?” and “Did you see that one time that one player did that one thing and I did this other one thing and what did you think of that?”

That was the hockey portion of the tournament; the rest was one big party.  Tournaments are basically like going on vacation with one hundred of your friends and their offspring, except instead of sitting on the beach or riding roller coasters, your fun is spent in the time hanging out between games (and watching/playing the games, obviously).  While sometimes these tournaments are held in cities with extracurricular activities such as laser tag or shopping, most of that hanging out happens in and around the hotel and involves socializing (by the parents) and running around like wild animals (by the children).

And since they are one big party, the standard rules of parenting become as casual as “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”  Bedtimes, gone.  Limits, gone.  Day drinking out of the back of a truck while your kids play hide-and-go-seek in a haunted junkyard, fine.  I missed one of my son’s hockey tournaments and when I called Kyle to find out its status, he specifically announced that our child had eaten a vegetable on the way home, meaning that he hadn’t eat another vegetable at any other point during the weekend.

This is where Usually The Moms come in – because while there are plenty of dads who say, “Hey, stop pouring melted chocolate into your friends’ mouths and go have a little rest,” if anyone is going to poop on this 48-hour parade, it is Usually The Moms.

Do the dads tell their kids to order milk instead of Mello Yello, or make them wash their hands after rubbing them all over their friend’s armpits, or pack a toy backpack for the younger siblings, or put the kibosh on using bad words?  Yes; but it’s Usually The Moms.

At this particular tournament, we got back to the hotel at about 8:30pm after Saturday’s second game.  Knowing we had to get up at 6:30 the next morning for an 8:00 puck drop (after losing an hour to Daylight Saving Time), I ruined my son’s existence by only allowing him to go screeching through the halls with his friends for a half-hour before forcing him to take a shower and fall asleep before his head hit the pillow.  The screeching continued without my son until 9:59, when I heard three different doors open, three different moms give muffled lectures, and a zillion kids go, “Awwww, finnnneeeee.”  By 10:01, it was completely silent.

While our children will be surprised to hear this, Usually The Moms don’t want to be the fun killers.  The second tournament I attended was held at a hotel with a giant pool and hot tub.  There’s an unspoken group parenting agreement at these shindigs; and so, in this case, the first four adults to enter the pool area – four moms, as it were – took up the role of lifeguarding for all.  I was one of those four moms.  Kyle, and all of the other parents, sat outside on the bar patio having a grand ol’ time.

Our four sets of kids were the initial wave in the pool; within minutes, their compadres had joined them.  I’m not sure if it was a case of bad architecture or too much tile or (probably) a gazillion children shouting at the tops of their lungs, but the decibel level hovered somewhere near “sonic boom.”  Every ten minutes or so, one of the dads would pop his head in the pool door, make a comment about the noise, give the moms a thumbs up, and then go back to the bar.

We moms did our best to chat through the din, but after about an hour I could see it on my pals’ faces that they were working out the amount of time remaining until we could pull these creatures out of the pool without looking like jerkfaces.  Fortunately, that’s when our fellow moms started to arrive.  A few brought mini coolers with the intention of starting a mom pool party; but the minute that sound pierced their eardrums, their kid was out of the pool and on his or her way to bed.

As much as no one wants to admit it, these human hammers – Usually, The Moms – keep these tournaments from descending into Mad Max-worthy anarchy.  And so Moms (and sometimes Dads), I raise my half-drank juice box, my Gatorade bottle without a lid, my airplane wine bottle to you.  At the next tournament, as you’re trying to get a sweaty, half-crazed, sugarcoated kid to pointlessly brush his teeth before bed, know that this mom still thinks you’re cool.

The photo above is of my little goalie.

This week’s news has free food, free braces, and and a shipping-container-turned-cabin built with free materials.  Read on.

Call it his flow, his salad, or his hockey hair, the Fargo Force’s Nick Strom is now quite neatly shorn after donating his locks to the Cullen Children’s Foundation. (KVRR)

Fort Yates’ Kylen Running Hawk is the 2021 recipient of the National High School Heart of the Arts Award due to his passion for sharing the theatrical stage experience. (Dickinson Press)

The YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties has a new food delivery truck that is taking to the streets – stopping at 30 different sites – to get a week’s worth of food to 500+ area kids in need. (KVRR)

Bismarck’s Viktoria Gilliam is getting a mouthful of free braces thanks to her fellow girl scout troop members. (KX Net)

The Williston Boy Scouts filled up the Salvation Army food pantry with 2,861 pounds of non-perishables and household goods – and then they handed over a $1,170 check, to boot. (Williston Herald)

Linton’s Frank Kuntz and his 300 Nokota horses – half the world’s population – are the subject of an upcoming Netflix movie entitled “Vanishing Knowledge.” (Minot Daily News)

The kids at Cheney Middle School in West Fargo raised over $3,000 for their teacher’s son who is undergoing brain cancer treatment. (KVRR)

Two dozen Mandan high school students spent the school year building a farmer a two bed, one bath hunting cabin out of a shipping container (the farmer funded the project). (KX Net)

Washburn’s Juan Vadell Jr. has figured out how to tap into boxelder trees in order to make a unique blend of syrup. (KX Net)

Grand Forks’ Beck Thompson has a dozen-piece fashion line debuting at MartinPatrick3 in Minneapolis. (Grand Forks Herald)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out this other story about Hockey Moms.)