Linzee Klinkenberg with boys Clive (left), Miles (right) and Wes (front). (photo courtesy Linzee Klinkenberg)

Creating memorable experiences

By Linzee Klinkenberg

Oh, how I aspire to be a mom who creates memorable experiences for her kids. I think back on my own childhood, growing up in Boulder and the countless times my parents took my sister and me sledding on the hill above Viele Lake. Now it’s my turn to gift my three rowdy boys with happy, snowy adventures. Such memories.

So bring it on, winter, I say. My family is going to make the most of these glistening, powdery days—whether they like it or not.

It turns out that happiness requires five willing participants, and I’m the only one that got the message on this particular day. But my ruthless (foolish?) determination to make memories persists; I am convinced that we have what it takes to enjoy the most fun ever risking our lives on a quarter-mile-long sheath of ice commonly referred to as a sledding hill.

illustration by jagoda

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It almost ends before it begins when the reality of donning seven layers of snow gear equals a critical tanking of family morale. If anyone’s face had a smile on it, it’s lost in a pool of sweat by now. Still, I promise it’ll all be worth it.

The 10-minute drive unfolds without any marked strife, which boosts my withered confidence. Somehow, the kids are a bit jazzed about the prospect of riding a new sled—ah, the promise of speed and danger and potentially broken bones! My husband—a tough sell on family-outing fun—agrees to smile in at least one picture that captures the moment.

Here we go.

First kid down lives to see another day! Second son finds it hysterical to aim his sled at just the right angle to take his brother out at the ankles. Youngest of the family careens past both of his big brothers and scores the longest-run triumph.

“See you later suckers!”

It’s really happening: We have managed to get outside, actually use our overpriced gear and no one has peed his pants nor started bleeding yet. I’m practically live-action role-playing a shiny car commercial. Over-enthused, I heave myself toward the only jump and take flight down the hill.

I release an avalanche of expletives.

Then, “Move, move, move!,” I scream at an unassuming toddler and her dad unfortunately located directly in my path. My overeager parenting may finally prove fatal today.

Here comes the jump. And despite that I know nothing of physics, I’m well aware that my trajectory will probably result in the annihilation of an elderly lady and her small dog strolling, unassuming, across the snowfield. There is no redemption for running over seniors or pets. Especially pets, this being Boulder and all.

I must at least save the dog! Recruiting muscles I didn’t even know I have, I manage to hurl myself just left of total destruction.

And … I’ve completely split the back of my snow pants. Wide open. My mouth is filled with snow, and I may have broken a tooth, but I am blissfully distracted by the sight of my three children. Smiling! No: beaming.

This is their best day ever.

We proceed, as a family, to own that hill all afternoon. It doesn’t even matter that I can now tell which way the wind is blowing, thanks to my exposed backside. I eventually bust out a big thermos of hot cocoa, which warms my heart and the bellies of my red-cheeked boys. My mother taught me that every family outing is better with hot chocolate and, once again, she is right.

Two hours on that hill and I’ve savored the view of the ever-stunning Flatirons, all dusted in white, and I have relished the sound of my children laughing—mostly at my expense. I am renewed and my boys (husband included) are wonderfully exhausted. Only one glove has gone missing, and no small dogs were harmed in the name of our family fun. Success.

Our sledding day taught me a few precious lessons:

Wearing underwear is always a good idea.

Next, we really do live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and raising a family here commands both guts and gratitude.

Also, yes, one can absolutely get sunburned in the winter.

And hot chocolate does indeed make everything better.