Outdoor Fun

The Penny Date


When you have a map to anywhere and GPS in your pocket, it’s really hard to get lost. I think that’s too bad, because sometimes getting lost can lead to great adventures.

Someone shared the idea of a “Penny Date” with me, and I wanted to pass it along.

The first rule is to get dressed to out and grab a penny. Get in the car and let your partner choose a number between 10 and 20. This will be the number of times you flip the penny. Pull out of the driveway and begin your adventure. Heads is right, Tails is left. Every time you come to an intersection, flip the penny and turn the corresponding direction. Once you get to the number your partner picked at the beginning, stop. Look around. Make a date where you are.

Pretty neat idea, isn’t it? Of course, this could be easily adapted for different scenarios. I regularly go on date nights with my daughter Lucy, and this would work just as well with her. Not to mention outings with the whole family or a couple of friends.

You don’t need a map. Or even a lot of money. You only need a spirit of adventure and a little creativity to have fun wherever you find yourself, just like when you were a kid.

Adultitis be gone!

Our Silly Take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

We inevitably got called out in the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has taken the interwebs by storm. We happily accept the challenge from Michelle, our book agent, plus we will be donating $100 to ALS research. We enlisted the help of some friends for this one…

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By the way, this whole Ice Bucket Challenge thing is a stellar example of how the world is aching for silliness, but oftentimes, we just need a little permission. Making a video of yourself dumping a bucket of ice water of your head is pretty silly. People don’t make a habit of doing things like this.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t.

When someone else is being silly, it gives us the cover to jump in and be silly ourselves.

Be a permission granter. Go first.

5 Ways to Turn Messes into Memories


Our society is over-sanitized. We emphasize order and cleanliness and anti-bacterial EVERYTHING. But when kids do what comes naturally — get messy — good things result. Not only does Adultitis throw a hissy fit, but according to a 2012 report by The National Wildlife Federation, playing in the mud provides benefits to immune systems, hearts and skin, as well as kids’ emotional wellbeing and learning skills.

According to Dr. Joel Weinstock, director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, “Children raised in an ultraclean environment are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.” For their own benefit, Dr. Weinstock argues, “Children should go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt and not have to wash hands when they come in to eat.”

In addition to Adultitis prevention and health benefits, messes are an especially effective way to create memories with the people you love. (Not to mention the awesome photo ops!) Here are five magical ways to turn messes into memories:

Mud Day

A while back, a teacher at a childcare center told me that they had celebrated International Mud Day. Flyers were sent out ahead of time instructing the parents to pack an extra set of old clothes (including underwear!). On the big day, they used a garden hose to transform a dirty patch of ground into a glorious mud hole and gave the kids permission to go crazy. The children rolled around in the mud and squealed in delight as they covered their teachers in the brown slime.

I was smitten by the concept, and was so happy to learn that International Mud Day is a real thing. This year’s day of splashing, rolling, squishing, sliding, making mud pies is June 29th.

For more photos, resources, and the history of International Mud Day, go here.

For an afternoon that won’t soon be forgotten, just add mud.

Flour Game

Get a teacup or small bowl and pack it tight with flour. Regular, white flour. Flip the cup over onto a plate, remove it, and carefully place a Lifesaver candy on top. (Some people use a coin of some sort, but candy is better in every way.) Then everyone takes turns cutting the flour with a knife, taking care not to disturb the Lifesaver. The person who makes the Lifesaver fall has to fish it out with their mouth. No hands — or feet — allowed.

It is a game in search of an occasion. It’s perfect for birthdays, Christmas parties, even National Flour Month, which is March, in case you’re wondering.

Big Top Living Room

Build an extravagant and elaborate living room fort. Every kid has made a simple, makeshift fort with sheets and blankets, but there’s no doubt the experience and know-how of an adult can add a lot to the party. What extravagant, elaborate fort could you create with clips, clamps, rope, rubber bands, bungee cords, and duct tape? Think multiple rooms, secret passageways, and maybe even different levels!

Our friend Scott used a canceled flight as an opportunity to spend the entire day in his hotel room making an impressive fort of epic proportions, utilizing mattresses, end tables, sheets and bed spreads. If you do this one right, it should take you one or more hours to complete. When you’re finished, bask in the glory of your accomplishment by watching a movie or having a picnic inside.


Barbarian Spaghetti

Next time you have spaghetti…don’t use plates. Just plop the spaghetti in the middle of the table, and have the meal participants pull their portions toward themselves. If you want to keep the messiness to a minimum, make sure to use a plastic tablecloth and clean up will be a breeze!

Now, would the idea of Barbarian Spaghetti make Martha Stewart hyperventilate and possibly slip into a coma? Probably.

Is it messy and cheap and simple and silly and childlike and fun?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

And what are the odds that the participants will have created a scene they will not soon forget?


Dinner of Bad Manners

Host a dinner in which good manners are strictly forbidden.

That’s right, forbidden.

Anything goes. Elbows on the table. Napkins optional. Burping welcome. Slurping your spaghetti. Talking with a mouthful of meatballs. Rudely demanding for the peas to be passed pronto.

As you might imagine, the kids reeally look forward to this. And I’d bet my last dollar the parents do, too. Even though Miss Manners might flip her lid, we all need permission from time to time to take a break from the rules, blow off some steam, and not take ourselves so seriously. And who knows? You could actually turn it into a teachable moment about why good manners are important.

Your turn: What’s your favorite idea for turing a mess into a memory?

Keeping Kids Safe: Let’s Ban Tag!


In a story that seems ripped from the pages of The Onion, a middle school in Port Washington, New York has banned tag and cartwheels and balls of all sorts in order to cut down on injuries to children during recess.

Yet another example of adults ruining everything.

And we are one step closer to living in a society where we all wear Nerf clothing and drive on streets paved in Nerf in our Nerf-covered cars to our Nerf-wrapped places of employment.

Kind of makes me want to invest in Nerf stock.

Back in the day, if you didn’t accidentally cut yourself on some sort or metal-edged toy before 9:00 in the morning, you weren’t doing childhood right.

And now dodge ball is demonized, Red Rover has been neutered, and it’s illegal to throw a football around at recess. How long before recess itself is banned?

It’s easy to point fingers at the school officials. The main reason they’ve concocted this ridiculous new policy is most likely to avoid lawsuits. Which is a legitimate concern in our sue-happy society. If I may state the obvious, however, the idiots who sue people for stupid things AND the policymakers who try to stay one step ahead of them are both demopgraphic groups made entirely of adults.

There are plenty of fingers to go around, but they all point to one problem: grown-ups.

It’s a crystal clear indicator that Adultitis is winning the war. Make no mistake: we will continue fighting the good fight. I’m not advocating giving kids bags o’ glass for Christmas, but then again, I’m not sure which extreme is more terrifying.

Instead of turning into a society of wimps living painfully boring stories, let’s keep in mind that life is a contact sport, and no one gets out alive.

No matter how much Nerf you’re wearing.

What do YOU think about the decision to ban balls, tag, and cartwheels at recess?

How To End Your Summer in Amazing Fashion


Egads, we’ve already sped past the middle of August, haven’t we? In my role as a Professional Permission Granter, I feel that it’s my duty to remind you that summer is almost over.

That being said, I encourage you to make an effort to make at least one more awesome memory before the door hits summer in the tooskus. One more big fling. One more crazy scene.

It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, of course. A Frosty run to Wendy’s could fill the bill. Especially if you’re wearing your pajamas. Or you take a new friend. Or you order in a fake accent. Or all of the above.

In case you’re really stumped, here are six more ideas: [Read more…]

What’s Better Than a Banana Split?


A giant one that’s ten feet long, of course!

Banana splits are pretty good at thwarting Adultitis. But 10-foot banana splits have been known to give Adultitis the hives.

If you wanna make one for your next party, they seem pretty easy to put together. This tutorial uses a carpet tube and this one uses a simple rain gutter (both were covered in heavy duty aluminum foil.)

If you wanna go crazy, eat it for dinner.

If you wanna go easy on the waistline, try these Banana Split Bites instead.

Photo from OhHappyDay

The World is Filled with Awesome Things


This is a photo by Allard Schlager of a real live tulip field in The Netherlands. I am convinced that you could live one hundred lifetimes and never see all of the wonders this world has to offer.

It makes me wonder why we rely on drugs or alcohol or even television to enhance our reality. At best, they are cheap imitations. A more productive option might be to practice seeing the world through childlike eyes.

The world is filled with awesome things. Look around and be amazed.

Bring the Magic of a Drive-In Movie to Your Own Backyard


I love drive-in movies. Always have. My parents took us to a few double features when I was little. I remember my brothers and I getting to watch the first movie and then having to lay down in the blanket-packed back of the red station wagon for the second (and more adult-oriented) one. Last summer we took Lucy to see Brave and The Avengers at a drive-in theater about a half-hour from Madison. (She too, fell asleep during the second one.)

For the life of me, I don’t know why this American classic is an endangered species. Some of you may not have a drive-in theater anywhere near your home. Happily, I recently found a post about screening movies in your own backyard. Although it may require a little up-front money, it’s hard to beat the savings on concession stand food and overall convenience. (Plus, I’m willing to bet your bathrooms aren’t as gross!)

AmberLee (and her husband) cover everything you’ll need to consider, including ideas for the perfect spot, tips for what kind of projector to get, and even how to make your screen. Action!

Photo by AmberLee at GiversLog.com

The World Would Be Better if We Had More Giant Rubber Duckies Floating Around


I’ll just state the obvious, because we’ve all thought it: We need more giant rubber duckies floating around in our lakes, rivers, and harbors. We also need more artists to think of ideas like this.

The giant yellow ambassador of fun pictured above is the work of conceptual artist Florentijin Hofman, who states: [Read more…]

Kites Aren’t Just for Flying Anymore


I’ve written before that one of the BEST parts of being grown-up is having the ability and the know-how to take awesome things from childhood to a new level of awesomeness.


The sweet photos above? No, they were not created by some guy in a small plane or captured with the iPhone of a blimp pilot. They were taken by a camera attached to a kite.

Yes, a freaking kite. You know, that thing kids play with on windy days? In fact, Kite Aerial Photography is a real thing. Google it. [Read more…]

Snapshots From Our First Marathon


Training began about a month ago. Perhaps that wasn’t enough time to prepare, especially if you have a hard time jogging around the block without feeling like you have to hurl. But Kim and I had each other to hold ourselves accountable and, as you can see from the photo above, Kim was all business. [Read more…]

The High Roller: A Big Wheel for Grown-Ups

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One of the worst parts about growing up (I know, there are many): outgrowing your Big Wheel. Yes, upgrading to a two-wheeled bike is cool, but nothing beats the pure joy of operating an old school Big Wheel tricycle. Being that low to the ground is kind of like driving a Ferrari.

One of the best parts of being grown-up is having the ability and the know-how to take awesome things from childhood and making them even…awesomer.

I give you the grown-up version of the Big Wheel, with alloy V-Brake and levers, a plush custom seat, a pneumatic 26-inch front wheel and molded 14-inch plastic wheels to promote epic Power Slides. Plus tassels!

I don’t know about you, but I want one.

23 Super Snowman Building Tips

I put on my snow pants, boots and mittens and scoured the vast wastelands of the Internet to uncover a whole bunch of neat tips for making your next snowman the envy of the neighborhood. Please keep in mind that these tips are for building a traditional snowman, which is typically three snow balls placed on top of each other. If you want to get all crazy and create some elaborate snow sculptures, this is not the post you’re looking for.

These tips are for those times when you want to roll old school. [Read more…]

The Skipper

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I’m not sure how I feel about this guy. This video is three decades old, but I know one thing for sure: he has no Adultitis whatsoever, as far as I can tell. His secret? Skipping.

“That sensation is absolutely one of the most extraordinarily joyous sensations that a person will ever experience.” –Bill Martinelli, The Skipper (now known as Skip Martin)

I gotta be honest, even though it’s been a while since I’ve been skipping, it’s probably in the top five, for sure. It IS hard not to feel joyous when you are skipping! And I love how he made a business out of skipping. But this is the quote I related to most:

“We started running, and I hated it immediately, like I always did.”

Skipping. The alternative holiday weight-melting activity for Adultitis-fighting anti-runners.

Christmas Vandalism

outdoor-christmas-treeAccording to Wikipedia, “Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, an ancient Germanic people, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable.”

Most of the time vandalism is mean and perpetrated by jerk heads.

But what if an act of vandalism is done is a spirit of cheerfulness and actually adds or enhances beauty? Is it still called vandalism? [Read more…]

Hey Congress. Legislate This.

I couldn’t agree more.

Imagine these being installed in airports.

Imagine these being installed in the offices of all law firms and insurance companies.

Imagine these being installed in every single government building, especially the ones in Washington, D.C.

I dare say that these could bring peace to the Middle East.

Get on it, Congress.

Dad Sends Son’s Train Into the Stratosphere

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This is a cool story (and video) of how a dad sent his son’s favorite toy train into the stratosphere. Pretty amazing what one can accomplish with a weather balloon, an HD camera, a GPS-equipped phone, and a little imagination.

And after watching the video, it appears as though the train had the time of his life.

Hat tip to thekidsshouldseethis.com

Small Rebellion #5: Pajama Run


It’s time for another official Small Rebellion (a small but mighty act of defiance against Adultitis and the rules that don’t exist)!

Pajama Runs are great, because they fit into busy schedules, allow you to break a few “rules,” and for the price of a few simple ice cream cones, you get to create a memory you will never forget.

The Mission: Put simply, a Pajama Run is when you surprise someone by taking them out for a late-night ice cream treat in their pajamas. In fact, EVERYONE involved needs to be wearing pajamas. Anyone can play — you can “kidnap” your kids, grandkids, parents, or friends — and you can include as many people as you want. Bonus points if the people you surprise are already in bed (feel free to wake them up with pots and pans and wooden spoons or some appropriate music). For best results, maintain the mystery by keeping the destination a secret for as long as possible. If you have kids and you’re feeling extremely rebellious, do it on a school night.

Are you in?

Share your adventures online with the hashtag #smallrebellion5

Here’s a video that goes into a bit more detail:

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And here’s a cool story about a mom who organized one of the most epic Pajama Runs ever.

Does Your Car Have a Kite Compartment?

I think it’s funny that even as our cars get more high tech, outfitted with GPS systems, heated seats, and hands-free calling, they still come equipped with glove compartments.

Glove compartments!

Although the glove compartment in my car is jammed with a great many things — manuals, napkins, straws, ketchup packets, pens that don’t work, and the like — gloves are not among them.

I got thinking about glove compartments when I was in Houston a few weeks ago for a speaking engagement. One of the audience members talked about a friend’s dad who always carried a few spare kites in the trunk of his car. That way, whenever they were out driving during superb kite-flying weather, they could just pull over and have some fun. And oftentimes, he would hand out kites to children. [Read more…]

Time to Get Wild

If you combine television, computers and any mobile devices you may have, how much screen time do you have each day? It may not seem like a lot, but a half hour here, a few minutes there, and it really adds up. It’s probably more than you think, and the number would probably depress you.

Here’s an even more alarming fact: More people die globally from inactivity than from smoking.


So I recently stumbled across Project Wild Thing, and it is brilliant. They assert that children today are getting “dangerously tame.” Their mission is to re-connect 1 million kids with nature. Of course, this aim benefits adults as well. I invite you to read their manifesto and take the simple pledge to spend as much time outside every day as you do on screens. The website is filled with resources and inspiration for getting wild.

The healing Adultitis-fighting power of the great outdoors only seems like magic because we have gotten so far away from regular interaction with nature.

Technology is nice. But the screen-time pendulum has swung too far. It’s time to get wild.

Ding Dong Ditch 2.0

One of my favorite parts of the first ever Escape Adulthood Summit was tapping into the collective knowledge and wisdom of every in attendance. We spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon sharing insights and ideas to help each other with various hot button issues. One of the things that got brought up by a camp director named Jen was the subject of pranking.

Pulling pranks and practical jokes is fun in large part because of the rush of excitement that comes from getting away with something and creating a scenario that contains the element of surprise. Unfortunately, it too often makes the person who was pranked feel bad, stupid, or even violated. So Jen shared that at camp, they only tolerate “positive pranking.” She gave an awesome example that she learned about via Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

It’s called Hostess Ding Dong Ditching. [Read more…]

How to Build Tree Swings, Teepees, and Sweet Watermelon Homesteads

Even though kids are starting to go back to school, summer is still hanging on for a bit longer, and watermelons are still being sold at the supermarket. I love this watermelon homestead, carved up by the Dahls and featured on their site Builtbykids.com.

I especially LOVE the mission behind their site: [Read more…]

Nearly the Next Best Thing to a Real Lightsaber

I wonder if I’ll ever see a real lightsaber in my lifetime. Not like a prop that they used in the Star Wars movies, but the fully functioning, cuts-through-steel-doors, real deal. Do they have the technology to make such a thing? It seems like they should. They’d probably be pretty dangerous and come with all sorts of warning labels and require a license and you’d hear about some idiot on the news who used it while drunk and accidentally killed his dog and cut his car in half.

Until then, here’s a tutorial to make some homemade ones that are much, much safer.

Photo by Audra Caldwell

3 Childhood Games Super-Sized for Backyard Fun

Remember that one summer cookout back in the seventies when your inebriated uncle was impaled by one of those steel-tipped Jarts?

Talk about a buzzkill.

Jarts are safer now, but removing the element of bodily harm seems to have dampened some of the fun as well. Fortunately, here are a few backyard game ideas that will — safely — bring back a fresh spirit of fun. [Read more…]

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