This is a story about karma. | January 4, 2023

Last week, Kyle took the boys to a hockey game and I stayed home to tackle the literal mountain of laundry that had accumulated after our Christmas vacation in Canada.  I had no sooner tossed up my Tide Pod Grappling Hook (patent pending) and gotten a foothold on a stack of socks when it dawned on me that it was a beautiful day and I would much rather go for a walk.

“You’re always at work in the middle of the afternoon and aren’t able to go for a lovely walk,” I told myself as I slipped on my shoes.

“Well, you’re always at work in the middle of the afternoon and not at home to do lovely laundry, either,” the Tide Pod Angel (patent pending) on my other shoulder reminded me.

No problem, I thought.  I’d make up for it by doing DOUBLE the laundry tomorrow.  TRIPLE.  I’d do the neighbor’s laundry.  I’d pre-wash clothes that we hadn’t worn yet.

Now, normally when Kyle and I go for a lovely walk we take a route up and down the street by our house.  However, there were three unique factors on this particular day: One, Kyle wasn’t there to put any limitations on distance; Two, it was twenty degrees outside (if you live in a cold-weather locale you know there is a phenomenon where the moment the air dips below zero all temperatures above feel like springtime); and Three, earlier in the year I had purchased a coupon book from one of my friend’s kids for $20.  Another phenomenon that exists is one where the moment I clip a free coupon I lose it immediately – but if I have a financial skin in the game, by golly I will do whatever it takes to get my $20 back.  Wouldn’t you know it, I had a coupon for a free cup of coffee at the coffee shop two miles from my house.

My coupon (plus $1 for a tip) and I set out for our lovely walk.  I didn’t bring any additional money – even though Kyle also loves coffee and would have totally appreciated me thinking about him while he took our children on an outing – because I didn’t want to walk back with two cups instead of one.

“It would get cold anyway,” I told myself.

“You could get him an iced coffee,” Tide Pod Angel suggested.

No, I thought, because if I slipped, I’d have my hands full and would have nothing to break my fall.

“What are the chances of that happening?”  Tide Pod Angel asked, but I didn’t hear her.

Now, normally when I go outside for any amount of time over nine seconds I wear my hot pink snowpants; however, it was so warm that I opted to eschew my typical layers for the ripped jeans (follow me for more fashion-related tips) I had put on that morning.  It took me (and my ripped jeans, coupon, and $1) about ten minutes longer than anticipated to get to the coffee shop because something had been going on with the street clearing situation in Grand Forks and so all of the crosswalks were mounded with snow.

As the shop, I traded my coupon and $1 for a 16-ounce cup of coffee.  I put on my brand-new leather gloves – a gift from my parents – opened the door, walked outside, took a deep breath, and slightly shifted the coffee sleeve.  With that, the entire cup of coffee exploded all over my gloves and shoes.

Now, normally I don’t appreciate it when things explode all over me and so my typical reaction would be to throw the cup of coffee away.  Except that I had $1 and a $20 coupon book invested in this particular beverage, and I had just walked two miles to get it.  Plus, while it seemed like the quantity of liquid soaking into my socks was the equivalent of 16 ounces, when I looked in the cup it was still about four-fifths full.  So, I shook off my gloves, picked up the coffee lid from the ground, stuck it back on the cup, took a sip, and started off on my way.

I walked to the first crosswalk hill.  I took a step onto the crosswalk hill.  And, apparently, I slightly squeezed my cup of coffee at the crosswalk hill because, once again, the lid came off and, once again, sprayed coffee all over my gloves, coat, and jeans (or rather, knees, since my jeans were torn).  Not to be deterred, I did that cross-legged thing to use the back of my knees to wipe the front of my knees, picked up my lid, and took a sip.

I then repeated this scenario five more times over the next five crosswalk hills.  No matter how I held the cup, the minute I stepped down, the coffee went up.  As this was the magical Mary Poppins purse of coffee, the actual amount of liquid in the cup seemingly never reduced.  By the third crosswalk hill, the rim of the cup simply started rejecting the lid, slowly disintegrating over the next couple of blocks.  I finally gave up on the lid and decided to pound back the entire cup of coffee because 1) it was sloshing everywhere now that it was lid-less, 2) it was quickly getting cold now that it was exposed to the air, and 2) I didn’t want to dump it out because I am a nutjob.

When I had blessedly finished the last drop, I stuck the lid into the cup to make it easier to carry.  It, too, launched out of the cup, lodging itself in my hair.  I put the lid in my pocket.

Unencumbered by the cup of coffee, covered head to toe in liquid in freezing temperatures, and POWERED BY A BOTTOMLESS CUP OF CAFFEINE, I felt the best course of action was to power walk home.  I don’t have much of a memory of this walk, although I’m pretty sure I flew during part of it.

Finally, I – and my soaked gloves, coat, shoes, jeans, and hair – reached the house.  Kyle and the boys came in a few minutes later.  My seven-year-old hugged me.

“You smell weird,” he said.

“I smell like coffee,” I said.

“Did you get coffee?”  Kyle asked.

“Yes,” I said.  “I went for a walk.”

“That’s good,” Kyle said.  “I feel like a cup of coffee, too.  I’ll make a pot.  Would you like another cup?”

“No thanks,” I said, peeling off my coffee’d socks.  “I’m going to do some laundry.”

I took the photo above as Kyle and the boys were walking in the door, although in hindsight I should have left my coat and gloves on because this just looks like a normal person with slightly redder cheeks. On an unrelated note, Kyle proofreads my stories for me and so he’s finding out about all of this right now.

The Minot community baked up 9,000 cookies for the service men and women at the Minot Air Force Base. (KX Net)

Congratulations to Fargo’s Mike Nelson, Josh Zeis, and Jay Ray, who took home bronze at the U.S. National Snow Sculpture Competition in Lake Geneva, WI. (Fargo Forum)

Lace up your sneakers, because North Dakota’s state parks are challenging you to 12 hikes in 12 months. (Williston Herald)

Welcome to the world, Kyson Kadrmas – the first baby born at Bismarck Sanford in 2023 (and, notably, born on his due date)! (KFYR TV)

Like Fargo’s Liam Loree, my seven-year-old LOVES the history of the Titanic; however, Liam definitely has Seven beat when it comes to turning that passion into Legos. (Fargo Forum)

I have a nice story all of my own (or adjacent, I guess) this week.  I was sent a Purposity link from the Grand Forks School District, on which teachers made requests for their students such as new t-shirts and weighted stress learning equipment.  I forwarded the link to Kyle and asked him to send money for one of the lower-cost listings – a student who needed snacks over the holiday break.  In turn, Kyle texted the link to his group of dads and suggested that everyone chip in $5 and they would fulfill as many of the requests as they could.  Well, those dudes sent more than $5 and they were able to purchase 12 of the remaining 16 requests.  They are the nicest guys, and I’m glad they are our friends.

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Come in, we’re clean | December 28, 2022

Of all the household chores, the one I like the least is washing dishes (the best is folding towels).  If I ever come into an inordinate amount of money, the first thing I’m going to do is replace my kitchen floor with one of those evil genius shark pits – but when you press a button and the doors slide open it’s going to be a giant dishwasher (in case it needs to be said, no sharks).  That way, when you are finished eating or cooking, you just drop the plate or pot into the floor.  This is an infallible plan.

In my college-ish days, my #1 requirement for an apartment was a dishwasher.  The realtor could have said, “Listen, it’s a two-bedroom, but one of you will need to sleep in the crow’s nest of a colonial pirate ship.  It also has a dishwasher.”  And my roommate and I would have been unpacking our collection of limited-edition Hardees dishware before you could say “Shiver me timbers.”

We spend every Christmas (minus Covid) at my father-in-law’s house in Saskatchewan, Canada, along with my husband’s brothers and their families.  If you include my own sons, our collection of limited-edition children is as follows: 14-year-old girl, 11-year-old girl, 11-year-old boy, 11-year-old boy, 11-year-old girl, 7-year-old girl, and 7-year-old boy.  This year, my wise sister-in-law took a look around at this group of able-bodied, highly-sugared goofballs and announced that the new Christmas tradition would be for the children to wash the Christmas Eve and Day dishes.  As opposed to the floor dishwasher which may still have some kinks to work out (like a standing platform), this was actually an infallible plan.

My wise 14-year-old niece did the type of quick calculations that only come with age superiority and realized that while Christmas Eve would just be a normal supper, Christmas Day would be a competition for how many different foodstuffs we could prepare and serve (and sometimes forget in the oven/microwave, also per Kosior tradition).  So, after the last few bites of Christmas Eve deliciousness had been crammed into the nooks and crannies of our tummies, my oldest niece volunteered herself and her 11-year-old sister to do the evening’s cleanup.

In the span of 15 minutes, my nieces were able to fit all of our dining tableware into my father-in-law’s dishwasher, handwashing and drying only a couple of pots and serving bowls before throwing in the proverbial and actual towel for the evening.  As they are both careful and trustworthy girls, my sister-in-law and I “helped” by sitting in the living room and not paying attention in the slightest.

The Christmas cooking started bright and early; and, even with regular cleaning throughout the day, my father-in-law’s kitchen was covered from floor to rafters with dishes by the time supper was over.  My sister-in-law reminded the children of their bound duties, and my 14-year-old niece reminded everyone of her efforts the previous evening and promptly wandered off into the night – which, in turn, reminded me that maybe the infallible plan still had some kinks now that the job was in the hands of two wild-on-life 11-year-old boys (who were a little TOO EXCITED about a sink full of soapy water) and their best-intentioned 7-year-old counterparts.

Chaos erupted the second those children stepped foot in the kitchen.  The big boys took over the sink, my son washing while his cousin dried.  My 11-year-old niece, absolved of any work, watched my son scrub the crap out of the outside of the potato pot while their cousin simultaneously filled the inside with half a bottle of Dawn before stepping in and taking over the drying (and management) before the train went completely off the track.  With both boys now washing, my father-in-law had to stop packing up the turkey (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law raised the 28-lb Christmas turkey, which was so large that it bowed the oven rack and needed to be legally declared its own land mass) and turn to mopping since every inch of the kitchen was receiving its own deep clean due to the amount of water flying about. 

Meanwhile, my sister-in-law and I tried to get the 7-year-olds to help us put away the leftovers – and then, after they dumped more of the corn and carrots on the floor than in the Tupperware, sent them to load cups in the dishwasher – and then, after they ran out of cups and started putting very-soapy-and-wet-but-clean servingware in the dishwasher (much to the chagrin of the sink masters), gave them the job of watching a movie in the other room and staying out of the way entirely.

After either twenty minutes or 200 hours, the big kids hung up their sopping (similar to what one would find at the bottom of a swimming pool) wet towels and headed to the basement for a much-earned knee hockey tournament.  My father-in-law finished scooping the last of the soap bubbles off the floor, and my sister-in-law and I corralled the rest of the leftovers into the bulging fridge. We sat down at the table with caesars in hand to toast our success.

“To a new tradition,” my sister-in-law said.

“And a job done,” my father-in-law said.

“Shiver me timbers,” I said.

The photo above is me standing on Main Street in Kyle’s hometown of Fillmore, Saskatchewan – and if you’re wondering why I’m not wearing my trusty hot pink snowpants, it’s because it was 30 degrees.

After installing a Santa Mailbox on his lawn, Grand Forks’ Nate Bertram has responded to hundreds of children (and delivered a few presents) over the past three years.  This is my favorite line from the article: “‘It’s exciting,’ Bertram said. ‘And I don’t just write two sentences back to them; it’s a full page.’ In the evenings, after his wife and daughter have gone to bed, ‘I write ’til I’m falling asleep in my chair.'” (Grand Forks Herald)

If you haven’t done it already, follow the Stutsman County Facebook page – where one of its staffers draws all of the daily news and updates. (Facebook)

In North Dakota-adjacent news, a restaurant in East Grand Forks now has a five-item “Community Kitchen Project Menu” where a person can come in and order a free meal. (Valley News Live)

Students at St. Marys Academy in Bismarck made 80 fleece tie blankets – and collected warm clothing – for those in need. (KX Net)

Anonymous donors dropped not one, not two, but THREE gold coins (worth $3,606) in kettles around Fargo. (Fargo Forum)

Two Minot gymnastics teams played Secret Santa to residents at a local retirement home. (KFYR TV)

After a major snowstorm, UPS driver Nathaniel Hunt put out a Facebook post to help get all of his packages delivered in time for Christmas. (Facebook)

Leonard’s Rhonda and Eric Klubben spent their 60th birthdays on the Today Show (and won a Dyson Airwrap). (Valley News Live)

The Hoselton Farm in Drayton is home to a team of reindeer, raised just for the purpose of bringing holiday cheer. (KFYR TV)

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Seven and the Grasshopper Egg | October 26, 2022

This past Saturday, Kyle took our eleven-year-old deer hunting (or, rather, he took him stand-sitting because the only thing they bagged was some magical father-son bonding time).  Kyle also wanted to bring along our seven-year-old, which I nixed because Seven is not a fan of quiet, or sitting, and especially not quiet sitting.  For example, Seven and I went to see the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile in the theater a couple of weeks ago and mere seconds after he finished his popcorn he leaned over and said in what I suppose could be considered a whispered tone but was more of a shouted volume, “Let’s go home.”

ME, in a for-real whisper: We’re going to stay and watch this movie.

SEVEN, whisp-yelling: But I don’t feel good.  I need to go home.

ME: Why don’t you feel good?

SEVEN, shoveling in a fistful of fruit snacks: My stomach hurts.

ME: If your stomach hurts, you need to stop eating fruit snacks.

SEVEN: The fruit snacks are making it feel better.

ME: Have some water and watch the movie.

SEVEN: I’m allergic to water.

[Thirty seconds pass.]

SEVEN, holding his general calf area: Ow!  I think I broke my leg.  I need to go home.

ME: You broke your leg sitting in that chair?

SEVEN: I broke it earlier, but it hurts now.

ME: You’ll need to rest it.  Good thing we’re at the movies.

[Thirty seconds pass.]

SEVEN: I need to go to the bathroom.  Don’t come with me. [Runs out of theater on broken leg]

Seven went to the bathroom eight times during Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.  He watched exactly five straight minutes, which happened to be the final five minutes – after which he announced it was “his favorite movie in the world” and spent the next forty-eight hours singing all of the songs, which he somehow miraculously heard and retained.

As a consolation for being withheld from deer hunting, I offered Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’s Biggest Fan a variety of some of his favorite non-quiet/sitting activities, including the pumpkin patch, laser tag, and the trampoline park.

Here’s another thing about Seven: he marches very much to the beat of his own drum.  As another example, Seven has announced every single day this school year that it was the BEST DAY because he learned about the Titanic and how chicken nuggets are made.  At his Q1 conference, his teacher told us no, they hadn’t yet learned about the Titanic or chicken nugget production – but speaking of learning, she’d really like to see Seven finish his own non-Titanic/nugget-related assignments before moving on to assist his classmates’ with their work.  When we brought up her comments to Seven later that evening, he said, “Did you know a cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes?”

Anyway, when provided with a list of non-deer hunting fun options (funptions), Seven went predictably off-script and selected a walk from our house to the nearby gas station for ice cream.

It was an absolutely glorious day, and so we took our sweet time meandering to the ‘station – checking out Halloween decorations, pointing out birds, and, of course, crunching through blocks and blocks of fallen leaves.  Midway from Point A to Point I(ce Cream), Seven took to gathering a bouquet of the reddest leaves, which I, his loyal assistant, was allowed to carry for him.  Suddenly, he stopped.

“LOOK AT THIS,” he said, holding up a brown leaf with a teeny-tiny fuzzy ball on it.  “This is a grasshopper egg.”

“Are you sure?”  I said.

“Yes,” he said.

“Should we Google it?”  I said, surreptitiously Googling what the Internet quickly identified as not a grasshopper egg (inconclusive otherwise).

“No,” he said.

We continued, me with a handful of now-less-good leaves, him cradling this all-important proof of life.

“When this hatches,” he told me, “I will put the grasshoppers in my bug cage.”

“Wouldn’t it make sense to put it in the bug cage before it hatches?”  I asked.

“No,” he said.  “It will be too lonely.”

There were three other people – two shoppers, one employee – at the gas station.  Like any good dad would, Seven loudly announced to all in attendance, “Shh, these grasshopper babies are sleeping.”  Like any terrible mother would, I tried to gently undo his shushing by saying, “Oh, haha, no, everyone is fine.”  No one (including the grasshopper egg) seemed affected one way or the other.

I was put in charge of the leaf when we walked home because “I know about these things,” according to Seven (also, he was holding ice cream).  At the house, Seven put the leaf in the my car.

“What about the bug cage?”  I asked, skeptical that the answer was because the car was in the front yard (where we were) and the bug catcher was all the way in the back.

“That won’t work,” Seven said.

“Why not?”  I asked.

“Because,” Seven said.  “Did you know the first wedding cake was made out of bread?”

“What about the grasshoppers?”  I asked.

“Grasshoppers eat grass, not wedding cake, silly,” Seven said, marching into the house, humming the first bars of a Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile song.

The photo above was taken at the pumpkin patch the day after our gas station walk.  Seven, Eleven, and their friends spent two hours playing their faces off.  After it was over, we asked Seven his favorite part and he said, “The car ride.”

This week’s news has a grand marshal and a doughnut walk. Read on.

Watford City’s Olga Hovet led the high school homecoming parade honor of her 103rd birthday (and 86th post-graduation year). As a side note, I’d like her to put out a beauty guide because if that lady is 103 then I’m a fairy princess. (KFYR TV)

There are so many fun (and free) Halloween events going on across the state – like at Bonanzaville, where kids can participate in old-timey games like a doughnut walk. (News Dakota)

Garrison’s Mike Matteson is the recipient of the AARP’s most prestigious volunteer award, given to one North Dakotan annually. (Minot Daily News)

Happy 100th to the largest mill in the country! (Facebook)

An update to a previous news item: the Meyhuber Family won their episode of Family Feud. (KVRR)

Dickinson’s Tessa Johnson is the only nurse to be inducted into the North Dakota Nurse Hall of Fame in the past 35 years. (KFYR TV)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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