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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A Love Story | April 5, 2023

My seven-year-old, a goalie, played in a hockey tournament this past weekend.  His eleven-year-old brother, also a goalie, was forced to attend.  At the end of the second game, Eleven – who had spent the previous eighty ten minutes BORED OUT OF HIS MIND having been asked to stand in one place with his face turned in the direction of the ice – wandered over to his brother as he was getting undressed, bent over, and murmured something into his mask.  Seven nodded vigorously.

It turned out Eleven had offered to be his goalie coach.  For every moment of the next twenty-four hours, Eleven exercised, stretched, strategized, and encouraged Seven in his gameplay and attitude.  Seven, who would do absolutely anything for his brother’s attention, ate it up.  After it was over, Seven put his little arm around Eleven and said,

“I love you so, so much, forever and ever.”

Eleven turned to me and said, “Can we get Taco Bell?”

“Your brother just said something to you,” I admonished him.  “Is there anything you want to say back?”

Eleven looked down at Seven, seemingly surprised to find a person gripping onto him for dear life.

“Okay,” Eleven said to his brother.

Like Seven, I am an effusive lover.  At least half of my conversations with Seven are the two of us trying to one-up each other with love.  As I was typing this, for example, Seven came up to my office and said,

“Hi, I love you.”

And I said,

“Hi, I love you with all my heart.”

And he said,

“I love you with all my heart to infinity and the universe and I’ll love you FOREVER and EVER and I like looking at you so much if feels like a dream.”

And I said,

“Well, I love you INFINITY more than that.”

And he said,

“I love YOU infinity infinities more than that.”

Anyway, three hours later and we’re still going.

The only thing that keeps me from saying “I love you” to everyone I love – and I love A LOT of people – is the societal understanding that not everyone loves proclamations of love.  The vast majority of people in my family, in fact, will usually only say “I love you” if someone says it first.  Kyle is one of those people, and every time Seven or I tell him we love him unexpectedly (and not at a prescribed time like before bed or leaving the house or going to the bathroom) he mumbles a “Love you, too,” as if he were trying to surreptitiously let us know that we had a booger hanging out of our nose.

This is not to say, obviously, that only the Sevens and the Amandas of the universe love big.  It seems to me that most people prefer to show their love rather than tell it.  Eleven becoming a goalie coach, for instance, is about as close to throwing himself on his knees and declaring his undying love as he gets.  Kyle is a super-duper helper.  My mother is a maestro of letter-writing and handwritten hearts. My dad clips articles.  My paternal grandmother baked chocolate chip cookies.  And my maternal grandmother used to show her love with cold drinks.  No matter where we were or what we were doing, if she was happy, she was also thirsty.

We were out shopping in New York sometime in my college years when I said,

“Grandma, I love you with all my heart.”

“I love you, too,” she said.  “Let’s go get a cold drink.”

We got iced teas; and as we were contemplating the addition of a light nosh, my grandma said,

“Have I ever told you how I find it interesting that you say, ‘I love you with all my heart?’”

“No,” I said.  (As an aside, my go-to message has been “I love you with all my heart” since I was about four years old.)

“After your great-grandpa had his stroke, the only thing he could say was, ‘I love you with all my heart,’” Grandma said.  “You wouldn’t have known that, though, because he died when you were six months old.  I wonder where you picked it up?”

“Maybe Mom?”  I said.

“No,” she said, “I guess it’s just one of those things that reminds us we’re connected.”

“Like cold drinks?”  I teased her.

“Absolutely like cold drinks,” she said, raising her hand to call over the waiter.  “And crème brulee.  Let’s get some crème brulee.”

The photo above is of one of my loves.

It was a packed house in celebration of Dickinson’s Jessica Clifton, who has spent the past decade “going above and beyond her job duties to help veterans in Stark County. (Dickinson Press)

There are now four former University of North Dakota hockey players playing for the Ottawa Senators. (Grand Forks Herald)

Happy 107th birthday to Dickinson’s Helma Lein! (Valley News Live)

Best of luck to the Bismarck U-16 curling team, who are headed to nationals in Boston. (KFYR TV)

Speaking of Bismarck, Bismarck’s Britta Curl is suiting up for Team USA – the 10th time playing for USA and the third at the IIHFWHC – in the IIHF World Hockey Championships. (KFYR TV)

And one more time for Bismarck: Bismarck’s Marea Reinicke took advantage of all of our recent snow to make a snow sculpture on her roof. (Facebook)

Congratulations to West Fargo’s Darcy Brandenburg, named North Dakota Band Director of the Year. (Fargo Forum)

Grand Forks has been named the fourth-best place in the United States to buy a house on a budget. (Grand Forks Herald)

This is not related to North Dakota, but my Godmother sent me this video without knowing this was the exact topic of my story this week, so enjoy. (Facebook)

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Kids these days and their darn rock ‘n roll music | March 29, 2023

My weekend Facebook feed was top to bottom about the appearance of northern lights – aurora borealis for us sophisticates – in North Dakota last Thursday.  If you’ve never had the good fortune to see the northern lights in person, they are one of those things where even the most majestic photo does not do them justice.  Kyle and I were driving to Canada a hundred winters ago when all of sudden the universe began to buzz and what was a pitch-black sky lit up into a chorus of dancing color.  The whole thing lasted ten minutes and will have a seat in my brain forever.

Speaking of things that are amazing and must be seen to be believed, my eleven-year-old is now 5’1” tall.  I am 5’2”, so if you are doing the math this means I can look Eleven and his friends in the eye when I pull a random sock out of the kitchen cabinets and ask 1) who the sock belongs to, 2) why it’s in the kitchen, and 3) where all of the other socks are located, since I’m standing in front of six boys in bare feet who were 100% socked not thirty minutes prior.

Obviously, I had a pretty good idea this time would come.  If you set aside the fact that North Dakota is one of the tallest states in the U.S., and also the non-fact that Kyle and I did the old wives’ tale thing where we doubled our sons’ heights at age two and both of them came out to be over 6’, I am still short.  “Small but mighty,” as my mom likes to say.  Not to brag, but I’m bigger than the average Bangladeshi by .08” and Bangladesh isn’t even the shortest country in the world (it’s the ninth-shortest).

Still, it’s weird.  It’s weird that I suddenly have these large people roaming around my house, especially since they are inherently wee babes who can be bribed with fruit snacks and have a handful of Tooth Fairy visits left in their futures.  It’s also weird that these big-little children have started to develop interests outside of the things their parents tell them to like – specifically, in Eleven’s case, social videos.

So that we are on the same page, social videos are videos shared on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook.  My favorite social videos, for example, are recipe tutorials.  My second-favorite, as another example, are worldwide restaurant tours.  My third-favorite, unrelated, is workout instruction, which I watch with the phone propped up next to me on the couch so that my hands are free to eat the food I cooked and/or ordered.  My fourth-favorite, and all of the favorites beyond, are too embarrassing to admit.

I am no monster; I don’t expect Eleven to appreciate my personal brand of quality video content (#253 on my list is watching people make teapots out of clay).  Instead, here are the social videos I’d like Eleven to watch: science experiments by real scientists in controlled environments, people being kind to one another, children practicing their tubas because they want to improve and not because their parents are standing over them saying, “Playing the tuba means practicing the tuba.”  Also, puppies.

Here are the videos Eleven actually wants to watch: I don’t know.  I mean, I KNOW, because I see them with my eyeballs and he gives me a frame-by-frame recap of every single one at dinner – but I don’t actually KNOW WHAT in the aurora borealis is happening in any of them.  One of the meager few I sort of understood was a cat made in the style of old-school pixels.  The video was twenty minutes long, and it was just that cat flying through the air with different outfits on.  Eleven was hysterical with laughter.  After it ended, he asked, “What was your favorite part?”  And the only thing I could think to say was, “I liked how much you liked it.”

Kyle is in a similar boat, especially when it comes to…I’m not even sure how to describe these…impersonation videos?  Re-enactments?  Basically, young people dress up as their mothers or teachers or siblings and mimic how they would respond in specific situations.  The totality of this caricature typically involves sticking a t-shirt over the top of one’s head so that it cascades down like hair(?).  Also, the background is fake, which I think is a part of it.  The titles of the videos are something on the lines of, “North Dakota Grandmas Be Like…” and then a huge amount of screaming.  No matter the topic, screaming is central to the script – and if there is one sound Kyle LOVES, it’s SCREAMING. 

However, because we grew up in the ‘80’s when DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince stated the obvious that “Parents just don’t understand,” Kyle will stand there and watch what Former Victorian-Era Pirates Who Are Now Homeroom Teachers Be Like and then say to an eager Eleven, “What’s a pirate’s least-favorite vegetable?  Leeks.  Now go practice your tuba.”

In addition to being large and a modern-day video savant, Eleven has started to become aware that maybe Kyle and I aren’t as hip and jive as he might have thought, giving us a glimpse of an era to come when we are devastatingly uncool.  To counter-act that, I have taken to sending him YouTube shorts about why kids should respect their elders.  Also, puppies.

Bruh, the photo above is of the sweatshirt my boys gave me for my birthday.

West Fargo High School has a peer-to-peer program which is currently pairing students with and without special needs to share in the universal world of coffee. (Fargo Forum)

Minot’s JJ Franks will be on the Jennifer Hudson Show TOMORROW after winning $10,000 by scoring a layup, free throw, three-pointer, and one-handed half-court shot. (KVRR)

Bismarck’s April Lund has broken the U.S. Women’s Track and Field 3,000-meter American record for women ages 40 to 44 at the World Master Athletic Indoor Championships in Poland. (KFYR TV)

Valley City’s Hadlee Mathias isn’t yet out of high school and has already earned 41 record-breaking college credits. (Fargo Forum)

Get out yer binoculars – Game and Fish is looking for bald eagles. (KX Net)

Teachers!  Gateway to Science is putting together a STEM All-Star team.  Nominate your all-star students – also the first 25 students nominated get two tickets to a Larks game – here. (Gateway to Science)

The Minot community came out to welcome back the Beavers after winning the ACHA Men’s Division I national championship. (KFYR TV)

WHOA!  Curling is now North Dakota’s official sport thanks to the work of Bismarck 6th grader Alaina Schmidt. (Dickinson Press) (KFYR TV)

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