Thursday, January 30, 2014

North Dakota

Home is where the heart it is.  So I guess that means home for me is North Dakota.  I love this state.  I always have.  My sentiment runs so deep; I can even truthfully say this as I sit through the fifth blizzard of the season.  To me the weather is just one more thing to love.

As a teen, I had a special spot near my home that I liked to go to at night and star gaze.  It was a little used highway overpass.  It actually was so little used that I would go lie in the middle of the road and stare at the sky. (do NOT try this at home….)  The stars seemed so bright I imagined I could touch them.  North Dakota is full of beautiful little spots, like mine, to escape to and yet it is still bursting full of growth and innovation.  You’ll be impressed with North Dakota whether you choose to spend your time enjoying the modern cities or the beautiful country side.

Our state is on the right track. Our economy is bursting.  We have a low 3.2% unemployment, rich crop land, rich oil fields and some of the best people you’ll ever meet.  North Dakota has so much to offer that I want to tell you about a few of my favorite things and a few amazing facts.
1.    When Dakota Territory was created in 1861 it was named for the Dakota Indian tribe. We became a state on November 2nd, 1889.
2.    On your way from one side of the state to the other, you can stop and take your picture at the geographic center point of North America which is by the town of Rugby. A rock obelisk about 15 feet tall marks the location.
3.    Milk is the official state beverage, although the unofficial beverage is probably beer.  North Dakota holds the dubious honor of drinking the most beer per person.
4.    German is by far the largest ancestry group in North Dakota, with nearly 44% of the population citing majority heritage in 2000. (This is may be part of the unofficial beverage in #4.)
5.    North Dakota has a large number of ICBM (inter-continental ballistic missile) silos. If North Dakota seceded from the Union, it would be the world's third strongest nuclear power. 
6.    We like our landmarks big.  We have the Magic Highway, a road flanked by huge metal structures.  We have the world’s largest cow in New Salem and the world’s largest buffalo in Jamestown. We even have a 50 foot high pyramid of empty oil cans in Casselton.
7.    Only one word is needed to describe Lake Sakakawea – big.  Lake Sakakawea is nearly 200 miles long with a shoreline of countless bays and inlets that cover 1,600 miles.   This gives us more shoreline then California.
8.    Of the 50 states, North Dakota is 17th in size. North Dakota is 212 miles long north to south and 360 miles wide east to west.
9.    We have had our share of famous people: Lawrence Welk, a band leader and entertainer; Josh Dummal, an actor; Louis L'Amour, an author;
Peggy Lee, a singer;  Angie Dickinson an actress; and more.
10.  North Dakota is the most rural of all states, with farms covering more than 90% of the state.  We rank first in the nation’s production of spring and durum wheat (used in pasta) and sunflowers.
11. The parking meter was invented in North Dakota.  This is a good thing because we have more registered vehicles than we have residents. This however is not true for my house.
12.  North Dakota is the only state to never have had an earth quake. Phew! One less thing to worry about.
13.  We have the highest number of millionaires per capita of any state. This however, is also not true for my house.
14. It is illegal to lay down and fall asleep with your shoes on in the state of North Dakota.  Good thing I only like to nap with my shoes off.

I want to give you one more place to visit before you go: be sure to stop by Devils Lake; the Dakota Dinosaur Museum in Dickinson; Sitting Bull Burial State Historic Site located on the western edge of Fort Yates; De Mores State Historic Site; the rock johnnies on Rock Butte; the International Peace Garden, that straddle the international Boundary between North Dakota and Canada; Big Hidatsa Village; Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site; Theodore Roosevelt National Park; the rustic frontier  town of Medora...  Oh and don’t forget to catch a University of North Dakota hockey game and a North Dakota State Bison Football game.  When these great teams play, we practically declare it a state holiday.
So there you have it… that’s a bit about my home.  I am ready to take you on a tour anytime you want to stop by.  Together, let’s go on a grand adventure!

Blessings
Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

To discover all of the things to do in North Dakota and find out what makes it legendary visit http://www.ndtourism.com/

Here’s what’s ahead!

I really am honored to have the responsibility as Miss North Dakota International to represent my home state of North Dakota. I have been trying my best to really focus on some of my personal goals as a titleholder, so here’s a sneak peak at what is coming up!

I really want to work with each of my former Miss North Dakota International sisters and find a way to continue every single one of their legacies by being involved in an event that supports their platform. It’s important to me to recognize all of their hard work and to be a part of their passion. I also want to make sure that the mission and message of The Miss North Dakota International System is heard by continuing to recruit and support future contestants. If you or someone you know could even be the slightest bit interested in competing, please please please get a hold of me! I promise no one will never regret it!

As a dietitian, it is so exciting to have the opportunity to partner with The American Heart Association. I am so excited to be a part of an organization that generates so much awareness about health and wellness. I believe heart disease and strokes are something all of us have been affected by in some way, so we all need to do what we can to prevent heart disease in the future. I will be registering women to join the Go Red for Women movement and also to take the Go Red Heart Check-Up at http://72.32.26.93/hcu/locale/en_US/main_en_US.html 

I will be aligning with the National Forensics League, which is the nationally recognized honor society for speech and debate programs, and using their national influence to promote Find Your Voice. I want to see communities support their local debate and forensics teams. The more people that have witnessed firsthand the transformation that students go through on their journey as a debater will know why we need debate programs in schools. Right now, the National Forensics League homepage says “We believe every student can learn to eloquently speak up – advocating for themselves and others – to be a positive force for change. We work to give them the chance to do just that.” Students have the right to be offered the best potential education available, and The National Forensics League is prepared to support every student in learning to speak, listen, discuss, and express themselves. I will be working on seeking grants for schools that need funding to start programs as well as grants for schools to continue to grow their existing programs. I will also continue to mentor debaters on Find Your Voice. I am also looking forward to developing future research and studies that are able to support the benefits of debate programs in schools. I am even planning ways to be involved with the national competition this summer in Kansas!

And last, but certainly not least, I will be preparing to compete at nationals for the ultimate goal of becoming Miss International. The opportunity to promote debate initiatives on an international level would be a dream come true! I can’t think of any job I would be more excited to wake up and go to work to every day then Miss International, and I’ve only got one chance! Thank you for following me on my journey to reach my goals! 

Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD
Miss North Dakota International 2014

Fargo Force Princess for the Night

I got the privilege of having an appearance a Fargo Force Hockey game. I had so much fun handing out t-shirts at the beginning of the game while trying to sneak a few pictures in when there was a free chance! I was also lucky enough to do the ceremonial puck drop at the beginning of the game as well as go out on the ice during intermissions. It was so cool being in the lime light in front of 3,000+ people! A sweet little girl who was in awe over my crown also asked me if I was a princess. Although I told her I wasn’t a real princess, I did say I was the North Dakota princess, and the Fargo Force Princess for the night. It was such an amazing feeling having people come up and ask for pictures and talk to me about what my year as a title holder will be like. With having my first appearance under my belt, I am even more excited for what is in store for me.





Yours truly,

Madison Johnson

Miss Teen North Dakota International 2014 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gym Rat Wannabe

The 90’s, I remember them fondly.  Late in that decade was the last time I held a gym membership.  I paid for a whole glorious year of exercise at a great 24-hour facility.  My plan was perfect, the timing was right, I never went even once.

Those of you who know me, know there is one thing I don’t like about working out…the “work” part.  It is too much work to change into my gym cloths, too much work to change out of my gym cloths, too much work having to shower again, too much work having to redo my make-up and hair, the getting sweaty part, and then there is the whole actual exercise part.  I don’t love that either.  I want to enjoy working out, to feel those endorphins I’m supposed to get.   I’d love to be a runner.  I love the way a runner’s body looks: long, lean, and smooth. (Plus those running skirts are super cute!)  

Well, my world is about to change!  This week I became a member of Courts Plus Community Fitness.  Courts Plus awarded me and my sister queens a one year membership.  I may not like exercise, but I do like prizes.  We upgraded the winning package to a family package and on Friday, my family and I loaded up the minivan and descended on the gym.  It was WONDERFUL! 

Courts Plus is a beautiful and clean facility.  My husband and I decided to start out slowly.  We took a half hour Les Mills’ Body Attack class. The instructor was so kind, she never even snickered when she watched my attempt at high-knee jogging. She took things nice and slow, and while I did feel like a fish out of water, I didn’t feel like I was going to die.  I kept myself motivated looking at the girl in front of me, who was wearing one of those cute running skirts.  I kept thinking, once I am good at this exercise thing, I can get one for me. 
The kids all loved the indoor playground, even my 13 year old.  It is the perfect place to run off some wiggles.  One of my sons said it was his best night ever.  I would agree.  It was right up there.  Everyone is excited to go back and they have been drooling over a list of children’s programming.  There are so many choices.  For the first time ever, I am actually a bit excited to work-out.  It may be the running skirt I am coveting, or it could be that I have finally found a work out facility that works for me.

Thank-you to the staff for running such a beautiful gym and thank you to Courts Plus for the membership.  Watch out, Courts Plus here we come. 

So there you have it… the tale of a gym rat wannabe.  Instead of avoiding the gym as I did for the past decade, I hope to make the next one a decade at the gym.  Come join me. 

Together we are on a grand adventure and I’ll be sure to keep you informed!

Blessings,

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dreaming Big

If I wrote down all the goals I have for this upcoming year I would put you all to sleep by the second page. I do have a few goals that mean a lot to me and I will do whatever it takes to reach them.

My first goal is to get my platform in area schools. As most of you know, my platform is Bare Necessities, an organization that helps underprivileged families receive the ‘bare necessities’ of life, such as toiletry items, clothing items, non perishable food items, etc. I recently came about a roadblock and was forced to close my Bare Necessities closet at my school, but will do whatever I can to get this platform known. I believe that this organization can impact other people’s lives greatly and I plan on making it known.

My second goal is to make a difference in someone else’s life. Whether it is one person, or hundreds of people, I want to change lives for the better. I have a burning passion for helping people, especially those in need. And whether it is volunteering or making my platform known, I will do whatever I need to do to make someone else’s life better. I want to take advantage of having a title, and use it for the greater good of others.

My third goal is to become the next Miss Teen International. I believe that I have the heart, personality, ambition, and determination to do this. I know that it is first and foremost a job, and secondly an honor. I do whatever I can to be the best role model for the people of North Dakota and I would be more than thrilled to be able to be a role model for people throughout our country. I know that I have what it takes to be Miss Teen International 2014 and I will do whatever I can to fulfill this dream. : )

Yours truly,

Madison Johnson

Miss Teen North Dakota International 2014 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Crowning Moment

In just one year I have been able to accomplished a lot. Between winning my local high school pageant, winning homecoming queen at my school, and now winning Miss Teen North Dakota International, I have truly been blessed these last few months of my life. The adrenaline rush you get standing in front of a crowd, holding hands with girls that you have grown so fond of, is a feeling like no other. And the feeling of hearing your name over a microphone saying you just won? I have no words to explain it. It’s something someone has to experience on their own to know.

My experience at the North Dakota International pageant was sick… in the “cool” sick way and the literal sick way. The Friday portion of the pageant consisted of check-in, rehearsal, and most of my time spent lying on the bathroom. (Details not included) The flu had taken full affect on my body and I was absolutely miserable. Luckily enough, I slept for 14 hours that night and was able to fight off most of the bug. The next morning I was able to interview with the judges and go to rehearsal to catch up on what I had missed the previous night.

I’m still so thankful for my awesome pageant director’s cooperation, the amazing judges for being so flexible, and the incredible girls I was fortunate enough to compete with for being so considerate.

As far as my crowning moment goes, I have words to describe it. As soon as I heard my name, tears started to fall. I felt every feeling imaginable. Surprised, amazed, excited, shocked, happy, all of the above. I nearly fell over when I walked up to get crowned. (Not sure if this was due to not being able to eat anything within the last 24 hours or if it was just out of pure excitement) Luckily I had Jen, Mrs. North Dakota International 2013, to hold on to. 

I’m still pinching myself to make sure this isn’t just a dream. I look at my crown every night and thank God for what I have been blessed with. I can’t wait to see what the new year has to offer. : )

Yours truly,

Madison Johnson

Miss Teen North Dakota International 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Two BIG Ideas

I am excited to get working!  It isn’t very often people get to say that.  I get to spend this year doing one of my dream jobs, Mrs. North Dakota International.   Actually, I can think of one job, I’d like better…Nationals, here I come.

On a more serious note, I really do want to get busy.  I only have one year as Mrs. North Dakota International.  This is it!  There is no grandma division, so I have to make this year counts.  But, even if I had not been given this amazing year, my work on behalf of the orphan would continue.  The platform is my life, and I want to make it yours.
There is so much to do and the clock is ticking, one month of my reign is already gone.  That means I only have eleven more months to change the world!  With the title of Mrs. North Dakota International, my reach has been broadened and I have been given an opportunity to be in front of the community.

I have two goals for this year.  I want to take advantage of every opportunity to speak about the need for the adoption of children from the foster care system. To facilitate this goal, I am looking forward to using my State Directors’ (Kathy and Allison) knowledge and network.  They are pros at finding their Queens’ appearances.  My personal goal is that I would be able to make 25 appearances this year.  That is one for every other week in the year.  I want to take every single opportunity that comes my way, whether they are for adoption groups, the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign, or parades.  I can use each opportunity to talk about what is truly on my heart, adopting children.  If you have any ideas, or events coming up please let me know.  In order to get as many appearances in as I want, I am going to need your help.

My second goal for this year is to promote and strengthen the International Pageants’ visibility.  Too few of people have heard of it.   I am proud of our system and I want everyone to know what a fantastic organization it is and what it stands for.  I want to encourage both young and older women (like Me!) to compete in the North Dakota Pageant system next year.  It is something they will never regret.

So there you have it… I’ve narrowed it down to two, really big goals.  Now where can I hang my crown and heals, while I get to work?  Together we can change the world and I’ll be sure to keep you informed!

Blessings

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

"Overcomer"

I’m absolutely sure that everyone dreams of their perfect “crowning moments” face. For me, it didn’t matter how many times I practiced the most stunning and photogenic look, because when that moment actually happened, I didn’t prepare for the immediate collapse of my knees! I would like to thank the beautiful Miss Grand Forks, Alicia Pauling, for being right by my side and holding me up!

When one of my idols, Taylor Wagner, came over to pass her crown on to me, I was in total shock. I really wish I could say that I remember more from this moment I was able to spend with Taylor, but the only thing I heard was her voice saying “just stay down!” I think I might have laughed when I heard her say that, so thank you Taylor for helping me to smile instead of pass out! Taylor, thank you so much for guiding all of us over the weekend and during your reign. You are a fantastic role model. 
I still am, and will likely forever be star-struck by all of the titleholders of Miss North Dakota International. I have so much respect for these iconic women. I remember the first time I met Brandi Schoenberg and I thought she was walking on a cloud! Erica Lemna is so charming and kind that she captures my immediate attention when
she enters a room. And I can’t believe the absolutely stunning Stacy Schaffer knows my name! And it doesn’t matter how many times I have run into Allison Harmon, I might always be a little speechless around her. If I am ever able to string a successful sentence together around any of these women, I will probably be so excited that my next sentence will be absolute gibberish again. Thank you to all of you for all of your inspiration and the legacy you have created.

I want to recognize all of the heroes who competed with me, my fellow Miss North Dakota International contestants. The impact they have had on the world matters and I want to thank all of them for their dedication to their cause. Because of their hard work, dedication, achievements, and accomplishments, they have made a difference. They truly are the definition for leaving the world a better place than they found it and I can’t thank them enough for all that they have done and all that they are capable of doing. I hope to work along side all of you this year with your platforms and of course to see all of my new sisters compete again next year!

To anyone who is considering competing in this system, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of love, support, and encouragement from all of the other contestants. I attended my first pageant workshop for the 2013 pageant and was unsure about entering, until Erin Bertel, Tammy DeSautel, and Jen Mauch took me aside. Even though they were at a workshop to focus on what they needed to do to win, they took the time to tell me why it was so important that I compete with them. Without their kind and thoughtful words, I wouldn’t have started the journey I am on now. There is so much that I want to say about my experience in the International Pageant System and it has all been made possible because of the amazing women that are a part of it. 

One experience that I need to share immediately is about a moment shortly after I was crowned. There was a young girl that wanted to tell me she has just started her own journey on her school’s debate team and that she felt inspired by my story. I wish I had not been in so much shock at the time, but I didn’t think to get a picture with her and I have forgotten her name. I was so honored to meet her, and if anyone knows who this beautiful little girl was, please get her in contact with me so we can get a picture together!


Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD
Miss North Dakota International 2014

Crowning Moments

In the past year, I have become a pageant junkie.  I watch every pageant I can; from local competitions to getting to see Miss America crowned in person.  I love making my guess as to who is going to walk away with the crown.  Being on the audience side of the pageant the crowning is easy.  Sure, I have my favorite I’m rooting for, but whatever the results end up being, as an audience member I get to move on after the pageant, entertained, Yes, but not changed.

I have watched enough women get their crowns this year, around 30, (told you I was a junkie) to know the drill. At that moment you walk forward, smile, wave, cry a little;  I should have been able to play the part. No matter how many pageants I have watched though, nothing prepares you for being on the participant side. 

At the end of the night, the competition part of the evening is over.  All of the participants have found their final spots of the stage.  It should be time to relax. Ha! Now is when the real stress begins, because we have to stand there and …wait.  Patience is one of the virtues I have to work on a bit more than others.

At the ND International pageants, the Mrs. Awards are last so, as I stand on the stage I am watching the Teen and Miss crownings first.  They are all so beautiful, and while I have made deeper connections with some of them, I am rooting for each of them.  I want so badly for each of these young women to reach their dreams; to have the crown I can already see on their heads.  Maybe it is because I am a mom, and I have daughters who can hardly wait to follow their own pageant dreams, but I felt the crush of loss and the thrill of victory with each of them. 

If any of the candidates from the 2014 pageant are reading this, please run again.  You can do it.  You are beautiful. Go claim the crown I already see.

Finally, the Mrs. Contestants step forward.  In my mind it is a blur.  I remember wanting to close my eyes and hold my breath as the names are read.  In my head was advice given to me from Shelle Moran, Mrs. ND International, 2011.  She said that the real winner is seen in how they lose. I wanted to be genuinely happy for whoever walked away with the crown that night.  Each one of us deserved it.

While the name of Mrs. North Dakota International was read, I was telling myself to open my eyes. I had so much to concentrate on.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.   During this very public moment, my head was having a very busy, private conversation.  When my name was called, it took me a moment to remember what to do.  So much for having the crowning moment figured out.   I am glad I even managed to step forward and bend down. I am thankful everyone else remembered what to do and just pushed me where I needed to go, even while I was in my daze.

My true crown is my husband; I am so thankful that he is the one who got to place my sparkly crown on my head.  As a married women and a mother, my crowning moment changed not my life for the next year, but my husband’s and children’s too.  I am proud to get to wear the Mrs. North Dakota International crown this year, and I love my family for always seeing a crown on my head, even before it was there.

So there you have it… the tale of a pageant junkie who had to talk herself through her own coronation.  I am so grateful for the beautiful queens I get to walk through this year with.  Together we are on a grand adventure and I’ll be sure to keep you informed!

Blessings

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014