Tag Archives: Fun

The Great Sledding Conspiracy

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

As children, we believed our parents gave us Christmas sleds because they wanted us to have fun.

Wrong. They knew children already had too much fun.

Instead, as card-carrying members of the Great Sledding Conspiracy, they purchased sleds to ensure their own survival. Their brains atrophied by 573 games of Candy Land, mothers and fathers ordered us to go sledding.

“Fresh air is good for you,” they said.

Chances were, they’d given us a Flexible Flyer, whose sharp runners could slice through granite. We hurtled down hills, often vaulting over streams, stumps and each other … standing up.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay.

This was good for us?

I was surprised to discover the inventor of the Flexible Flyer, Samuel Leeds Allen, was a Quaker. Maybe this desperate father of six strove for peace by concocting ways to keep his tribe outdoors.

Perhaps both Dad and Samuel belonged to the Conspiracy for an additional reason: they’d lower food bills permanently by lessening the population at home.

Mr. Fowler, another secret member, drove our school bus. While my yard was flat, his nearby house sat atop a tall hill. Even we children realized he endured unspeakable racket, yet Mr. Fowler let us sled on his hill. Such a nice man.

Ha! What better way to lower his bus population and its accompanying decibels?

However, one snowy night, Dad topped Fowler’s ploy, offering to take my siblings and I sledding.

Only when we rendezvoused with Dad’s buddies did we realize the fathers would join their kids’ sleds behind a truck. We would zoom along unplowed country roads.

If we children had been older, we might have realized this plan represented the ultimate in population control. Instead, we believed our dads, like Mr. Fowler, were nice.

Soon, we were skimming past a dark blur of trees, fences and fields at speeds we’d never dreamed of. The only complication: when one sled veered into a drift, the whole line followed. Guess who spun off into drifts the most?

Years afterward, I realized those pauses helped preserve our lives.

Upon our return, Mom immediately deduced Dad had overstepped. No one lied to Mom, including Dad. She soon extracted the whole story. Never again would Dad take her children sledding.

Image by Lena Helfinger from Pixabay.

Given my steering, that did not bother him.

Did I buy my children sleds? You bet. With no conscience whatsoever, I joined The Great Sledding Conspiracy.

Though lately, I’ve heard my grandsons have been whipping down snow-covered sand dunes on Lake Michigan shores. Do they stop before zooming onto the lake’s ice? Maybe all the way to Chicago?

But their parents say all that fresh air is good for them.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a member of the Great Sledding Conspiracy?

In the Running for a Serene Spring

No green interrupts my “spring” day except the envious color I turn when the Taylor University track teams — women and men — run through my neighborhood.

They wear long tights, hoodies and woolly hats. Snow confetti may greet them. Still, their effortless, long-legged strides defy winter, as do their fresh young faces.

They talk as they run. They laugh.

Running and laughter? An oxymoron. Even decades ago, when I ran routinely, I don’t recall laughing once.

My new husband had talked me into running with him. It’ll be fun, he said. Relaxing, he said.

His legs measure six inches longer than mine.

Newly married couples, do not try this at home. Or anywhere else.

Watching these track teams run now, I find their togetherness friendlier. Definitely more fun.

Even as a solo runner, I lacked the fun factor.

Fellow joggers encouraged, “You’ll grow accustomed to exercise and hit a zone when you’re comfortable, even serene.”

Pony-sized canines nipping at my heels increased my pace. Even with their help, I never achieved that blissful nirvana.

Instead, my knees hurt, ankles ached, and I developed giant stitches in my side that reappeared when I played ring-around-the-rosy with my toddlers.

I told Hubby, “I’ll soon be so healthy that I’ll need a wheelchair.”

Even he finally switched to bicycling when a blown-out knee dissolved his dreams of running the Chicago Marathon.

Instead, we cycled and watched our children run. At our son’s junior high coed cross-country meets, the order of returning runners never varied. First, a pigtailed girl appeared ten minutes before anyone else. Next, the boys manfully pounded to the finish line, embarrassed at being beaten by a girl. Then the other girls finished.

Those guy runners needn’t have felt shame. That girl, Morgan Uceny, ran the fastest 1500-meter race in the world during 2011. Morgan often smiled while running.

Still, she hasn’t inspired me to run.

I’ll let others enjoy that privilege. Some find unique ways to do so.

J.D. Arney reported on enthusiasts who ran the five-mile Raleigh, North Carolina, Krispy Kreme Challenge. Each ran halfway, consumed a dozen glazed doughnuts, then ran back. At least, they smiled during the last part.

Arney also described the Filthy 5K Run in Fargo, North Dakota, where joggers slogged through acres of gunk. Participators in the Green Bay, Wisconsin, Beer Belly Run, with beer stops every half mile, might have ran the happiest race — if they remember it.

Some psychos even pay $17,900 to run the annual Antarctic Ice Marathon.

Me? I’ll cheer track teams from my window each spring. It doesn’t get more serene than that.

Smiling participants of The Color Run, also known as “the Happiest 5K on the Planet.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you run — and smile?

The Bouncy Life

When I was a pre-schooler, jumping on a bed made perfect sense. Sleeping? Resting?

Bor-ing.

Why flop like an emptied-out Raggedy Ann when I could soar like Peter Pan?

Boom-ba-boom-ba-boom-ba—

My parents, official killjoys of the universe, decreed I take naps, not turn somersaults. Lying still took 10 times more energy.

Why did those fun monkeys stop jumping on the bed just because of the doctor’s orders? The doctor also gave shots. Who in her right mind would trust him, anyway?

Despite adult meddling, children continue to jump on beds — until they graduate to trampolines.

In my first up-close-and-personal encounter with one in high school gym class, little-kid instincts came roaring back. This magic trampoline would morph me, with my uncoordinated-octopus body, into a graceful gymnast.

I climbed aboard. My P.E. teacher droned instructions.

What? I had to jump straight up and down? Teachers showed no more imagination than parents.

She called, “Try a knee drop.”

In order to wow the world and the guys’ class across the gym, I bounced …

Higher.

Higher.

HIGHER.

“Take it easy,” she cautioned.

What did she know? Boom-ba-boom-ba—

PLOP.

Ouch.

I had just demonstrated before God — and the boys’ gym class — the land version of a face-busting, ego-crushing belly flop.

They all smothered grins.

My teacher didn’t smile. She checked to see if I was alive. Then she did her best to kill me.

Grandma took this pic while still safe on the ground!

Maybe the bouncy life wasn’t so great.

Fast-forward 40-plus years.

“Grandma, jump with us!” My grandsons, ages four and seven, bounce on their trampoline.

My jump-on-the-bed instincts pop up. Shedding shoes, I stare at the trampoline. Don’t these things come equipped with stairs now? Escalators? Cranes?

“Climb up,” one grandson urges.

The little one offers, “I help you, Gwandma!”

I hoist and heave. The boys yank on me like two ants with a watermelon.

Finally, I sprawl over the edge.

“Ya-a-a-y! Jump!” Both shoot into the air like twin rockets. Boom-ba-boom-ba—

Bleeeaaah. My stomach jiggles. So does my bladder. My internal organs love gravity way, way too much.

Still, I play bounce tag with my grandsons for a few minutes. Will my body parts ever return to their original location?

Soon I resort to the usual grandma functions: applauding, refereeing and preventing the destruction of the universe — at least that of my grandchildren, their backyard and adjoining properties.

Finally, they flop onto their backs and I with them. We discuss why God made the sky blue and trees green, instead of the other way around.

The bouncy life is fun. But know what? This looks like a really good place … for a nap … zzzzz.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever tried to return to the bouncy life?