Icelandic State Park | October 1, 2020

Come May, my husband and I found our normally jam-packed schedule substantially, uh, lightened – and so we decided to take the opportunity to introduce our two sons (and ourselves, in most cases) to some of North Dakota’s historic sites and state parks.  On one of those trips, we were barely out of town when it became apparent the boys were gearing up for some pretty turdy behavior, and so we abandoned ship on our destination and pulled into the nearest park to let them burn off steam.  That park happened to have a lake in it, my husband happened to have a new fishing license in his pocket and an old rod and reel in the trunk, and that stop just so happened to spark a deep love of fishing for our two babes.  From that point on, all of our travel plans have included fishing.  I should also note that very few of those excursions have included actual fish.

Last weekend, we packed up all our gear – rods, bait, tackle boxes, chairs, a complete change of clothes for a five-year-old with a knack for getting dirty just by existing in the universe, snacks, bottles of water, a bucket, and a magazine that I apparently felt needed to see North Dakota because I had brought it with everywhere and had yet open it – and headed to Icelandic State Park.

Icelandic State Park is located a few miles west of Cavalier, and so we stopped in town on the way to get ice cream see what was what.  Not only did we find chocolate drumsticks, but we also found the He-Mart & Co.  My husband was so excited about the potential of a whole mart filled with stuff for Him and his Related Company that he barely got the car into park before sprinting inside.  He emerged 10 minutes later with three teeny-tiny jighead hooks and advice from the shop owner: jig a bit of bait close to the dock and the fish would come biting.

Because we are terrible parents, we made our children actually hike around the Park first before any fishing would take place.  The trails in Icelandic State Park are honest-to-goodness autumnal fairylands, brilliantly designed in very short (less than a half-mile) segments that are perfect for people like me who like being outdoors, but don’t want to commit to the outdoors.  The best part of our absolutely perfect hike was that the floor of the trail was covered in three-to-four inches of red, yellow, and orange leaves that swished as you shuffle-stepped.  At one point, our nine-year-old stopped shuffle-stepping midway across a crunchy wooden bridge to say, “This place sounds great.”

Anyway, we finally shuffle-stepped our way to the fishing dock.  My husband and Nine got to work tying on and baiting the new hooks, while I gave our five-year-old my most-repeated, most-ignored lecture about not just flinging his line every which way because, while he had yet to catch a fish, he had hooked all of us at least a dozen times.

After a few errant flings by Five, Nine convinced him to follow the He-Mart instructions, and so they both dropped their lines in the water right off the dock, and gently bobbed them up and down.  I picked up my magazine and flipped open the cover.  And then both boys started shrieking, because Five had CAUGHT HIS FIRST FISH EVER, a little perch.  Maybe three minutes later, Nine got a perch…and then another, and another.

After 30 minutes of fishing, the bucket held a dozen perch and one catfish.  We took a million pictures, said goodbye to the fish, and released them back into Lake Renwick (the photo above is my husband and Nine bidding the fish adieu).  I never made it past Page One of my magazine.  It was another great day in beautiful North Dakota.

And speaking of beautiful North Dakota, this week’s news has a lifesaving mattress purchase, a 48-hour relief group, and a course-setting hole-in-one.  Read on.

Fargo’s Willy Kautzman has volunteered every day (except Sundays) for 18 years at the St. Francis Thrift Store. (Fargo Forum)

West Fargo’s Brianna Normand was on the phone with a customer when she realized the woman was having a stroke, and so she called paramedics and stayed on the line until she knew all was well. (KVRR)

I thought this story was going to be about a Farm Aid program, but it was actually just a group of 60 awesome neighbors who brought combines, grain carts, semis, and people together to help Lane Unhjem finish his harvest after suffering a heart attack. (Washington Post)

Killdeer high school senior Brendon Gibson is one of only a few delegates to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders – a position that can only be nominated by a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Dickinson Press)

Sixteen-year-old Claire Upton has the community of Fargo rallying around her as she navigates a possible Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome diagnosis. (KVVR)

“Nice Idea is a free entrepreneurship program for North Dakota middle and high school students where they learn to be creative and entrepreneurial, connect with mentors and actual problems that need solving, and showcase their ideas to win support to make those ideas a reality.” (Valley City Times-Record)

Grand Forks will soon have a community orchard with apples, pears, plums, grapes, raspberries, elderberries, asparagus, and more – and also garden tools available for use. (Grand Forks Herald)

Keene’s Mariah Thompson is selling Ethiopian-made handbags to raise enough money to build a home for eight orphans and a house mother. (KX Net)

For the past three years, volunteers in Hillsboro have taken a day to make the city pretty. (Hillsboro Banner)

The newly-formed Mandan Fire Relief group has made it their mission to make the first 48 hours a little easier for victims of fire. (KX Net)

More than 1,000 pounds of food was donated this year courtesy of Minot’s Hunger Free Garden. (KFYR TV)

Napoleon’s old Model A fire truck is now up and running thanks to Assistant Fire Chief Andy Hilzendeger. (Napoleon Homestead)

Fargo’s Dave Schultz got his fifth hole-in-one in the same spot as his first, both setting the course record and providing a nice moment to celebrate Dave’s father, who passed away two years ago. (Fargo Forum)

(Like the story above?  Check out last week’s tale of a very windy bike ride.)

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)

Nice news of the day – July 11, 2019

Did you know North Dakota is ranked 12th in the nation as a great place for working dads?

And did you know today’s news is about t-shirts from the heavens, a free trip to Rome, and gas bubbles?  Read on.

My favorite part of this article is the photo of the kid sharing his hoard after grabbing a bunch of them at the t-shirt drop. (Dunn County Extra)

An anonymous donor has sent a group of high school seniors to Rome for the past five years. (Napoleon Homestead)

North Dakotans are great at turning lemons into lemonade – or, in the case of Roxi Mathis, a detaching retina into “Gas Bubble In Eye.” (Williston Herald)