Josh Kramer
Josh Kramer’s middle child, Carter

It has been a winter for the record books, not that I care much for breaking records. But I said it before and I will say it again, THANK YOU to all who do their part to maintain roads, equipment and power lines, respond to emergencies and make it possible to feed people and animals.

Snow and wind have been tough competitors this year, pushing many of us to wit’s end. Allow me to share a story, which will hopefully provide a moment of levity during this long winter (supposedly spring is near).

To set the stage: It is around 7:15 a.m. on a school day. My wife and I are doing our best to bring some order to the daily morning chaos that accompanies getting our family ready and out the door for school on time.

Our teenage kids are somewhat self-sufficient (sort of), once they roll out of bed (after the third wake-up call) and become coherent. Our middle child, well… Let’s park this for later in the story. And getting our 6-year-old twin girls ready is a challenge, dependent on the mood of the day. Somedays, they are sweet and obedient. Others (most days), it’s not so harmonious.

This day was not pleasant. Heck, it was harsh – a blood-boiler with lots of tears, wardrobe changes, spilled milk/juice, the entire gamut.

Enter stage right: Our middle son, doing everything he can to irritate his little sisters. It was working. Finally, I had enough, and with the sternest look of Dad eyes I could muster, I shouted, “Leave your sisters alone, go to the garage and feed the dog… NOW!”

My son complied, things began to settle down and order resumed. The twins are peacefully eating breakfast at the kitchen counter, while my wife and I comb through the girls’ tangled hair, our backs toward the door.

Suddenly, we’re hit by the shock of gale-force winds! The nearly secured ponytails undone, cereal and school papers flying through the air, cups spilled. Nearly everything not heavy or tethered down had been upended. I turn around slowly, hearing wailing girls and laughter from my son. Please tell me he didn’t just do what I think he did.

Sure enough, there stands our middle child with my new 80-volt, 170-mile-per-hour air velocity leaf blower in hand. His laughter shifts to a look of regret, as my wife and I ask in unison, “Did that just happen?” He retreats to the car, awaiting his unavoidably uncomfortable ride to school.
Although our son lost many privileges for his incredibly bad decision and even worse timing, he gained a friend, maybe two, through it all. Every snowfall since that fateful morning, he gets to use his friendly leaf blower and its trusty sidekick, the snow shovel.

End scene: A dad who wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

Here’s to spring!

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at