The Toblerone | April 12, 2023

The Jewish holiday of Passover kicked off last week.  Passover was my favorite holiday growing up because my parents would replace the living room furniture with stacks of card tables and invite over as many non-Jews as the house could hold for our annual family seder.  Passover is a great way to introduce interested Christians to the Jewish religion because there’s lots of wine, lots of food, lots of goofiness (we sing a song about a goat), and very little praying.  Every year, I say to my (Catholic) husband, “Next year we’re going to bring back the Silverman seder.  Next year I’m going to get my act together and do it up.  For sure next year.  FOR SURE next year.”

You’ll be unsurprised to hear that this 3,000-year-old holiday really sneaked up on me for the eighteenth year in a row.  I blame my ill-preparedness on the fact that I bought all of my Passover matzah like two months ago and then had no reason to think about it again.  Passover is the celebration of the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt, and we commemorate the occasion by eating a cracker called matzah for eight days.  I am picky about my matzah – I prefer a certain brand of egg matzah – and since North Dakota isn’t exactly awash in Jews to necessitate the grocery stores bringing in more than one flavor of matzah, if I want my special egg, I need to remember to buy it on a trip to Minneapolis.  Which is what I did, and then promptly put the whole thing out of my mind.

As Passover came out of nowhere, I decided to keep up the Amanda Kosior seder tradition of hosting my husband and two children.  And, because it was only the four of us, I decided to do away with the typical Passover desserts and just do candy bars.  If you’ve been reading North Dakota Nice for a while, you know that I LOVE food.  LOVE food.  Except for Passover desserts; I hate Passover desserts.  HATE THEM.  I’m sure there are a lot of wonderful homemade Passover recipes that I can find with a quick clickity-clack-clack of Google; however, as a person who can barely get her act together to make Passover dinner itself, I buy (and hate) Passover desserts.  The two “most popular” pre-made Passover desserts are macaroons that come in a tin and these gummy fruit-shaped things and both are somehow equal parts wet and crunchy, which is exactly what you want in a gummy and/or macaroon.

Anyway, I bought candy bars; and one of those candy bars was a Toblerone.

Kyle and the boys were hanging out in the basement when I returned home from purchasing said candy and so I marched downstairs and said,

“I bought these candy bars for Passover.  Don’t eat them.”

“Okay,” my eleven-year-old said without looking up from whatever he was doing.

“Got it, eat the candy bars,” Kyle said because he’s soooooo funny.

Our seven-year-old popped up from a pile of toys.  “Is that a Toblerone?  I LOVE Toblerones.  I’ve ALWAYS WANTED a Toblerone and I’ve never, ever had one.”

“I didn’t know you wanted a Toblerone,” I said.

“OH, YES,” Seven said.  “I LOVE them.”

“How do you know you love them?”  Kyle asked.

“Because,” Seven said.

“Well, you’re in luck,” I said, “Because we’re having this one on Passover.”

“Let’s just eat it today,” Seven said.

“It’s for Passover,” Kyle said.

“Awwwwww,” Seven said, with the type of awwwwww that can only exist when having to wait two whole days to eat a Toblerone.

Seven, who normally takes anywhere from one to four hundred hours to consume a meal, scarfed up his dinner that night.

“I did great eating,” he said, showing off his plate.

“You sure did,” Kyle said.

“I probably deserve a treat for all of that great eating,” Seven said.  “Like a Toblerone.”

“Dad got ice cream,” I said, referencing Seven’s typically-favorite food.

“I don’t like ice cream anymore,” Seven said.  “I only like Toblerones.”

“Well, we don’t have any Toblerones for this dessert,” I said.

“Awwwwww,” Seven said, dropping his forehead to the table and flopping his arms down at his side in the deepest of disappointments.  Kyle put a bowl of ice cream in front of him.  Without raising his head, Seven reached up and felt around until he found the spoon.  He brought the spoon to his mouth, licked it, and sighed.

“Maybe you’re too sad for ice cream,” I said.

“No,” he said, sitting up.  “But I am REALLY SAD.”

For the next twenty-four hours, Seven did absolutely everything in the universe to legally acquire that Toblerone.  He functioned as a normal human – brushing his teeth, putting on clothes – without being asked.  He vacuumed the floor.  He avoided fights with his brother.  However, because the only adults around were his crappy parents and not his whatever-our-sweet-darling-wants-he-gets grandparents, all of his good deeds went un-Tobleroned.

Passover morn dawned.  Kyle and I were awakened bright and early with a little face proclaiming, “Happy Passover, Mommy and Dad!  It’s alllllllmost Toblerone time!”

Finally, it was Toblerone time.  I slid the gold foil out of the package as Seven regaled us with an encyclopedia’s-worth of Toblerone facts (for example, did you know there is a bear in the Toblerone logo?!).  I split the bar into four and gave Seven the first bite.

“Here is how you eat a Toblerone,” he said, cracking off one of the mountains.  “Doing it this way makes it taste SO GOOD.”

I was still handing out candy when I realized Seven had already finished his Toblerone(s), so I offered him mine.

“No thanks,” he said, reaching across the table for some licorice.  “I don’t like Toblerones anymore, now I like LICORICE.  YUM YUM.”

“Did you like the Toblerone when you were eating it?”  I asked.

“Did you know there is a bear in the Toblerone logo?”  He replied, his mouth full of licorice.

The photo above is of a Toblerone.

I received the nicest email last week from a Manvel-er/Wolford-er named Mike Humble.  I loved it so much that I asked Mike if I could publish it here (and kindly agreed – thanks, Mike!), which I decided to do in lieu of the news.  Happy reading!



I stumbled upon your website thanks to my Google news feed on my phone, specifically the article about the father-son hockey game. Apparently, the algorithm figured that I googled enough hockey things recently and since I live near Grand Forks, it was reasonable that your website would be a good fit. The algorithm was correct.

I grew up on a farm outside Wolford, ND and left the state for college and the Army in 1998. During those 21 years, I met and married a girl from New Jersey and we have two sons who have lived in Alabama, Germany, Missouri, California, and Kansas. I returned to ND in 2019 to finish my Army career in the Army ROTC department at UND and my wife got to fully experience ND. When I retired from Active-Duty last fall, I started teaching in the Aviation Department and as a result, have found myself with more free time than I did while in the Army. I’ve filled that free time with hockey, both as a youth hockey ref, and as a Mite coach in Manvel.

And Manvel is the reason for my message. When the COVID lockdown forced me to teach from my dining room and my sons to transition to on-line learning, we had to do something to stay sane. That something was skating. I hadn’t spent much time in Manvel that school year, but volunteered to help with kid wrangling when the PE teacher, Vikki Fruetel, had curling for the 5th and 6th graders in February 2020. That was the day I discovered the Jason L. Stadstad Arena in Manvel.

When we couldn’t go places in March 2020, we went to the rink in Manvel. My 5th grader and I had just started skating and were both really bad. He had a head start as Vikki took the Manvel 5th-8th graders skating for PE. We both fell, a lot. But we persevered and met some truly incredible people that were the reason the rink is what it is today.

Russ Hatt, the late Jason Stadstad’s uncle, is one of those people. Russ’s son was a Squirt this year and I coached his daughter on the Manvel Freeze Mite team. He, Mark Gerszewski, and a small group of volunteers take care of the rink. Russ taught me how to run the Zamboni, and how to make ice in the rink. Russ is more than just a hockey dad. Without him, the rink in Manvel wouldn’t be what it is. (If you haven’t visited, I encourage you to do so. We usually have ice from early December until the end of March, and it’s a no-cost facility that is open 24/7, though you do have to pay for lights after 9pm.) Russ is responsible for new my winter hobby: youth hockey. He told me a couple of seasons ago that I should start officiating. I told him that I needed to learn how to stop first. Well, I kind of learned that last year so I made good on my commitment and became a youth hockey official in Grand Forks. I also volunteered to co-coach the Mite team in Manvel with Alex Johnson and my now 8th grader.

The crew that supports the arena in Manvel, in my opinion, is the definition of North Dakota Nice. Heck, the Ralph crew comes up and paints our lines every year ( Elementary, middle school, high school, and UND students all come up to skate in a youth sized rink supported by a small group of dedicated volunteers.

– Mike

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Live, Lake, Love | June 8, 2022

In a surprising move, I made a last-minute Friday decision to take my family to the lake for the Memorial Day weekend after our expected houseguests cancelled their visit.  It was surprising because I am not known for my spontaneity – when I first met Kyle, I told him that I wouldn’t go to the bathroom without a ten-minute warning – and also because I AM known for using free time for small projects such as sandblasting and repainting the entire exterior of the house.

Kyle, who is actually spontaneous, is always so happy when I say things like, “I just bought 200 feet of wallpaper,” so when I called him over the lunch hour about my unplanned plan, he was all in.  When we spoke he was in the garage preparing to leave for a meeting in Fargo, so he delayed his departure for five minutes in order to throw a duffle bag, the fishing rods, and tackle box in his truck while I booked a room at a lakeside resort a few hours away.

I finished work at 5pm, and spent the next hour running around like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep in order to gather up everything the boys and I would need for the trip.  Just as I was shoveling the last of the suitcases and children into the car, it dawned on me that I had forgotten something…goggles.  I ran back in, congratulated myself on being me, and hit the road for our weekend o’ fun.  We stopped for a Fargo fast food dinner and to pick up Kyle (who parked his truck at our friends’ house), and pulled into the resort a little past bedtime.

Our ten-year-old had used the drive to map out an elaborate activity schedule (the trip was Friday to Sunday, so Saturday was our “only” day), which was so action-packed that I wasn’t sure we would have enough time for a bathroom break, let alone a ten-minute bathroom break warning.  The grand finale was a pontoon rental/fishing trip at 5:30pm, which meant all of the other events needed to happen in a timely manner so as to get the family to the dock by 5:15.  Ten was recounting his schedule for the two-hundredth time when I opened a suitcase to get Seven some jammies and realized that the thing I had remembered I had forgotten was not the goggles – but was in fact, my underwear.

Growing up in the 80’s, clean underpants were a very big thing.  Like your American Express card, you’d never leave home without it.  We don’t seem to be concerned with this anymore, so either the results of dirty skivvies never manifested themselves or we are a lot less disgusting without Aquanet.  Regardless, old rules die hard; and so when I mentioned my predicament to Kyle he said, “No problem, we’ll have breakfast in town and you can grab some then.  It’ll be quick.”  He may have also mentioned something about wearing bathing suits for the next two days as an alternative, but I had stopped listening at that point and also I wasn’t going to do that.

Now, I don’t know if you know anything about resort town shopping, but if you are in the market for a sign that reads “Live, Lake, Love,” then you are IN LUCK.  If you want to buy ladies’ undergarments, however – well, it turns out a lot of people wear their bathing suits because it took me eight stores to find any.  I did, of course, find a pair of boxers that said, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” that I was going to get for Kyle because of its inspiring and worldly mantra but then remembered our tight timeline and moved on.  I was also pointed towards a tableful of nursing bras; close, but no cigar.  I should note that in the time it took me to procure two pairs of ‘pants, Kyle and the boys bought a cricket bat and ball, a hockey t-shirt, a novelty plate set, Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, a USB hairdryer, and a hand humidifier.

We got back to the resort – a ten-minute drive from downtown – an hour behind schedule.  No problem, we told Ten – we would just cut a little bit off of each activity to get back on track.  This great plan worked exactly never because all the activities were so much fun that we had to drag both boys away after several gentle calls for, “We’re leaving now.  Okay, we’re leaving NOW.  Okay, NOW we’re leaving now.”

By 5:05, we had accomplished exactly half of Ten’s program; but ‘toonin’ time was nigh, so we rushed back to our room to grab the fishing gear.  As the boys were arguing over who was going to carry the Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, Kyle casually mentioned, “Oh, right, I forgot to get bait.”  Ten froze.  No problem, we told Ten, once again – we would buy some from the guy renting the pontoons.  This was a resort!  Obviously, they would have bait.

The resort did not have bait.  “There’s a place downtown that probably sells it,” the suntanned young man at the ‘toon shack told us.  And then he mentioned the same store where I had purchased my unmentionables (it was a very versatile retail experience).  “We’re good,” Kyle said.

We were good.  It was an absolutely perfect evening – 70 degrees, blue skies, and not a mosquito or a lick of wind for twenty miles.  It turns out that both fish and little boys like beef jerky, because that’s what we used as bait and it worked.  When we packed everything back up into the car the next morning, Ten declared it “our best vacation ever” (and Seven declared that he wanted ice cream) so I guess we’ll have to schedule in some more spontaneity in the future.

The photo above was taken on the pontoon and includes me, Kyle, the Taco Bell-flavored sunflower seeds, and my new underwear.

This week’s news has a life-saving senior and a bowler named Maddy A.  Read on.

Manvel’s Robert Kennedy is a humble hero thanks to a quick-thinking Heimlich maneuver, which saved Curtis Carlson. (Grand Forks Herald)

The Bottineau VFW has been putting out flags – over 500, to be exact-ish –for a Memorial Day and Veterans Days Parade of Flags. (KX Net)

This particular article is for Bismarck, but I know many of the school districts in North Dakota are offering free lunches – and for some, breakfasts – over the summer. (KFYR TV)

Valley City’s Madison Anderson is in the 8th grade and will soon be rolling in a national bowling tournament (and you should click on the article just for the photo because it’s really cute). (Valley City Times-Record)

Bismarck’s Dylan Wetsch now has a new friend named Canam thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota. (KFYR TV)

Looking for a little light reading?  Check out my latest story on summer scheduling in the latest issue of Area Woman Magazine. (Area Woman)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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Sorry | September 17, 2020

I have a Facebook friend who recently started a countdown to the end of what she calls “The garbage fire that is 2020.”  If you share a similar sentiment, you are welcome to join me and my Jewish compadres for the Jewish New Year (called Rosh Hashanah), which begins tomorrow night at sundown.  We celebrate, in part, by eating apples dipped in honey to usher in a sweet new year.  We may also douse ourselves in hand sanitizer – not for any religious reasons, of course, but hey, couldn’t hurt.

We Jews also use the new year to apologize for any unhappiness we intentionally or unintentionally caused in the past.  Apologizing is a very big thing in my household right now because I have two boys who like to literally and figuratively push one another’s buttons and are not sorry about it ever.  Last night our 5-year-old was bouncing on his brother (don’t ask), and when our 9-year-old decided he was done with that scenario, he shoved him off.  Unsurprisingly, tears ensued.

Me: Please apologize for hurting your brother.

9, deadpan: Sorry.

Me: Say it like you mean it.

9: But I don’t mean it.

I’d like to say I had a profoundly great parenting response that changed all of our outlooks forever; but in actuality I started to lecture about kindness, 9 interrupted with a relatively genuine apology, and the boys went back to bouncing on each other.  So, success.

All of this is so that I can share my favorite meaningful apology, found in the Grand Forks Herald (date unknown):

Jewish or not, I hope the coming year brings you good health, lots of happiness – and, if you need it, a meaningful apology from 2020.

If you’re looking for some bright spots in 2020, check out this week’s news – about good customers, good friends, and good strangers. Read on:

This is the perfect example of small town North Dakota Nice: The community of Gladstone is rallying around Lea Madler, a beloved barmaid who is fighting cancer, with a donation box, a spaghetti fundraiser, an auction, a bake sale, and good vibes. (Dickinson Press)

Like old farming equipment?  You’re going to love the Big Iron Farm Show, this weekend in West Fargo. (KVRR)

Fargo’s Emily Kingsleigh may look like a mild-mannered taxi driver, but she is actually a superhero who saved an unconscious man’s life. (Fargo Forum)

The newest comic strip in the Minot Daily News is drawn very close to home. (KX Net)

After Veterans Ayleah Peasley-Evitt and Greg Akason met at the Fargo VA, Akason started a fundraiser to help Peasley-Evitt get back on the road (instead of walking through snow). (KVRR)

Napoleon native Wayne Scherr and his horse Necker Island will soon run in the Kentucky Derby. (Napoleon Homestead)

Kendra Miller ran the Boston Marathon in Dickinson in support of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (and in honor of her mother and aunt) – and she had a few fellow joggers join her along the way.  (Dickinson Press)

Fire prevention education at Manvel Schools has gone waaaaay beyond the typical “Stop Drop and Roll.” (Grand Forks Herald)

If you are a stepmom, Bismarck now has a support group for you. (KX Net)

Minot’s Independence Inc. has created a Career Connections program to take students with disabilities behind the scenes at local businesses to help connect them with careers. (KX Net)

Looking to get outside?  North Dakota Parks & Rec is looking for volunteers. (Jamestown Sun)

After 79 years, Mandan’s Albert Renner is finally coming home. (KVRR)