I’m over on The Artful Parent today, sharing an excerpt from The Unplugged Family Activity Book. It’s one of my favorite projects from the Autumn chapter, and one that my own family has enjoyed for years.
Head over to their blog for all the details, or turn to page 92 in your copy of The Unplugged Family Activity Book. (We’re also offering a copy up to one lucky winner on Instagram + Facebook!
We’ve been wrangling this kid into Pete’s old leather jacket each autumn for the past eighteen years (and his sister into her great-grandma’s fringed jacket for fourteen). Oh, how slippery time is.
On Sage’s first birthday, we wrapped him up in an adult-sized jacket (a thrift store find that belonged to Pete) and snapped a picture for posterity.
A friend had suggested the tradition, to mark time by capturing your child growing into the garment as they approached adulthood. Hopelessly sentimental, I was all in the moment she shared it with me, and knew it would be the one consistent thing I did to mark time.
We repeated the shoot each year, and when Lupine was born, she got a jacket of her own (my grandma’s vintage buckskin fringe).
Year after year, all childhood long, this is what we‘ve done. I bribe them with ice cream each autumn, they don the jackets, and we head outside. In the absence of school pictures, we have these. How glad I am.
And this year… well, this year was big. Because Sage isn’t a child anymore. He’s old enough to vote (his first vote being this critical election, quite possibly our most important homeschooling lesson of all).
I expect this is the final jacket picture year featuring them both.
Oh, my heart. What a ride it has been.
How do you mark time and the growing of your kids?
Eighteen years ago today I headed out the front door toward our waiting car. After 19 hours of labor, we were transferring to the hospital as our homebrith plan began to unravel. As I crossed the threshold, I could feel everything beginning to shift once more. I turned to my midwife & asked, “How do I keep the baby in?!” And this denim-frocked, salt-and-pepper-haired angel softly replied, “If the baby’s going to come, the baby’s going to come. And we’ll just have that baby right here.”
I let the screen door clatter shut behind me, placed one foot on the coffee table, & with my backside to the four-way stop, I gave birth standing in the open doorway, praying that everything would be okay.
Welcome to motherhood.
In one final push he came. 9lbs, 2oz, Sage looked me straight in the eyes & the words “old soul” echoed in my mind. We stood in the doorway, dumbstruck, silent, & awed for a long time, just staring at each other. Laughing, crying, exhausted.
In truth, I can’t imagine a better welcome to parenthood that that. All of the tangled up hope & fear, the unraveling of everything we expected & then the pivot as all of it tumbled back into our arms. And everything turning out better than we dared to dream. Because that’s so often parenting, isn’t it? It’s messy, it’s worrysome, it’s fairy dust & abject fear–and all rolled up seamlessly into one juicy mess of life & love.
And then we blinked, & 18 years rushed passed.
Eighteen years of rough nights and radical love, big tears and belly laughs, worry and growth and trust–together. Trust…It’s been our touchstone and our beacon through all of these years. Trust is what guides us. And it’s never let us fall.
And so here we are. Eighteen trips around the sun. And all the while, this child taught me how to mother, how to hear my intuition, how to trust his unfolding and learning and growing, how to lead with a patient heart. And how glad I am.
Happy eighteenth birthday Sage. Your light shines so bright, & I’m honored to have walked this path beside you for all of these years. You have taught me more than you will ever know. Keep shining.
To everyone who pre-ordered, I can not thank you enough. Pre-orders (and online reviews) are a game-changer for the long-term success of a book, and you came through. Goodness, did you ever.
I’m signing the last few pre-order copies this morning here on the farm, and then your books will head out the door, en route to your family’s welcoming arms.
Thank you for cheering me on, again and again! And to anyone who thinks they’re too old to do that thing they set out to do: don’t fall for that story. You’re unfolding at just the right speed. Grab hold of life and do the hard thing! You won’t regret it.
At least I haven’t.
Still waiting to pick up a copy? Find it (along with my first book, Herbal Adventures) on my website! Signed copies are shipping out this week.
I have always delighted in celebrating the small in-between holidays, to bring a bit of joy to an otherwise ordinary week.
May Day, or Beltane, is certainly on my simple favorites shortlist.
And while we normally celebrate with our friends and neighbors at our community May Day Folk Festival (complete with a colorful, ribboned, towering May Pole), this year we’re back to the basics of celebrating at home.
Thankfully, we can still keep at our favorite May Day tradition, global pandemic or not: tiptoeing around the neighborhood delivering scrappy bouquets to unexpecting neighbors. (Though full disclosure: after 7 years, they *might* just be onto us.)
A simple gift of love, cheer, and springtime magic. What could be finer–today more than ever?
So make up a few bouquets, then leave them hanging from your neighbor’s fence, front gate, paper box, or doorknob, and celebrate the delight of having delivered a bit of cheer during these difficult days.
One note before we get to the download: For those who have the means, I’d be delighted if you pre-ordered a copy of my book as soon as you are able. As you may have guessed, launching a book during a global pandemic isn’t exactly idyllic timing (who knew!?). But, eternal optimist that I am, I’m going to take it as a shining opportunity to align families with wonderful ways to lean in and connect with one another and each other during this unprecedented season. Think of this as a homemade version of summer camp, but at a fraction of the price.
The upshot is this: pre-ordering is not only a fabulous way to support my work, but it also ensures that more libraries and booksellers find their way to my work and pick up copies for their shelves. Win-win-win.
Order directly from your hometown, independent book shop, or pick up a signed copy straight from me. Then tell all your friends (because that really helps, too).
Thank you. It means so much.
Now… enough chatter. On with the tutorial! The simple upcycled May Day Bouquet how-to is below! Have at it, and happy merry-making.
Have I ever mentioned that spring is my favorite time of year?
It is. And I have. Indeed, my very first blog post (posted nearly *12 years ago now) mentions it, and it’s a theme in my life and writing that surfaces again and again.
*12 years of blogging here?! How? What? Whoa.
And here we are, in the midst of the most curious of springs.
“Curious”: that’s midwestern nice for, “Holy heck this is not what I was planning for this season.”
And day after day, week after week, I keep wishing my book had been printed last season so you would all have it in your hands already: a treasure trove of simple, accessible, no-shopping-necessary projects and recipes and activities.
Resources and ideas to help you connect you with one another, with nature right in your neighborhood, and with the seasons–simply and joyfully.
Yet here we are.
So, I decided: let’s work with what we’ve got! My publisher and I pulled a few more projects from the book to share with you, just in time for this, ahem, most curious of springs.
And today? We’re heading to the kitchen to make a wild and tame pesto and then craft some delicious sandwiches on a miniature scale.
I’m hoping that these free offerings will brighten this shadowy spring, and bring you some cheer and light during these dark and trying days.
Below you’ll find your free, downloadable recipe.
Make the pesto and sandwiches with your kids, your live-in quarantine pal, or your partner, or make them all on your own. Then, if the weather permits, head outside for a picnic in the sunshine.
But before we dive in, may I ask a small favor of you?
If you have the means and the interest, would you consider pre-ordering a copy of my book?
Pre-ordering The Unplugged Family Activity Booktoday would be the very finest thing you could do if you’d like to support me and my work. Then spread the word to your family and friends!
Book successes these days hinge on pre-orders, and because of current events, it’s no surprise that we’re falling behind a bit from where we’d like to be right now. You can pre-order by calling your local, independent book shop, who could certainly use the business right at the moment.
If you don’t have a local bookshop to call upon, you can order your copy directly from me. I’ll be signing all copies before they ship out in June! You can find my book pre-order page here.
Thank you, friends. It means so much.
And with that, let’s get on with that recipe! Find your downloadable PDF recipe below. If you make a batch and share any photos online, be sure to tag me with #unpluggedfamilyactivitybook so I can see your delicious creations!
Happy Saturday! Lupine posted her third video tutorial yesterday, over on The Happy Dumpling. She’s sharing how to make felt Easter Eggs using just sewing thread and scraps of wool (or other) felt.
I sharedmy own tutorialfor these when Lupine was only 5, and it’s so delightful to see how my kids have grown up with these homemade eggs (not purchased plastic eggs) as their spring celebration standard.
You can watch the video below, or pop over to her channel to view her how-to.
If you’ve been around here a while, you know my passion for putting down my laptop and phone, pulling on my boots, and getting out there with my kids–no matter the season.
Since they were small, we’ve taken any excuse we could find to toss the to-do list aside and dive headlong into seasonal projects, recipes, and celebrations (both when we lived in town and here on the farm).
To immerse ourselves in nature and the magic that exists when we unplug and connect with each other and the seasons, all through the year. From boisterous summer adventures to quiet winter celebrations, nature–and time together enjoying it–offers us so much.
Because this is where the memories happen.
So when Herbal Adventures was finally out in the world and my editor came to me to ask if I was willing to write a second book, I jumped at the chance.
And I knew exactly the book that I wanted to share.
In my heart for more than a decade had been a book that was begging to be written: a book of joyful, creative, seasonal activities for kids and their families to enjoy together, no matter where they call home.
With projects that are simple, accessible, sustainable, and fun (and best of all, almost always made with supplies you already have on hand). Projects that are as fun in the city as they are in the country; when done alone, as a family, or with a gaggle of friends.
A book that helps you find meaningful ways to celebrate of seasons, no matter what else your family holds dear.
Because there is such fun to be discovered when we put away our devices for an hour, a day, or even longer. And wherever you are is the just right place to start.
Within these pages, I invite you and your loved ones to connect, create, and play all year long. There’s no right or wrong way to unplug–all we have to do is begin. And with simple projects, delicious recipes, and joyful celebrations, you’ll find that more fun awaits than you ever imagined–all through the year.
With more than 50 projects, crafts, and recipes, plus ideas for gatherings to share with family and friends, there are adventures to be had in every season.
Host a springtime tea party, where you’ll nibble shortbread cookies and craft a mossy fairy garden in a teacup.
Or gather with friends for a summer potluck party. Blow giant bubbles, race leaf-and-bark boats, or camp out in your own backyard.
In the fall, enjoy a harvest party with your friends. Create a fall leaf rainbow, sip mulled cider, and bake bread over a campfire.
When winter comes, celebrate the longest night of the year with twinkling ice lanterns. Try your hand at candle dipping, make your own play dough, and pen your wishes for the coming year.
In The Unplugged Family Activity Bookyou’ll fall in love with every season–wherever you call home. So grab your family and friends, and get ready for an unplugged adventure that will last all through the year.
Best of all, The Unplugged Family Activity Book is already available for pre-order! (Release date scheduled for the Summer Solstice, June 2020.) For those looking for independent booksellers who will be offering my book, look no further than the links below, or request that your favorite indie book shop carries it come June.
Friends in the UK, Canada, and Australia, you find links to retailers in your region here.
Or add your name to the email sign-up form below, then I’ll be sure to drop you a note when my new book is released.
And finally, A huge thank you to everyone who has encouraged me to keep writing by reading my words here, purchasing copies of Herbal Adventures, and dropping sweet notes in my inbox through the years.
I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for your unflagging encouragement and enthusiasm. I mean that with my everything.
P.S. In other news, Herbal Adventures has been translated to French, and is coming out later this month! You can find the French translation here and a link to both (all three?) of my books here. The fun never ends!
Leave a comment below telling me what you think about this upcoming book. Are you on a mission to unplug with your family just a little more? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear about your journey.
If you’re new here, I’ll give you a little backstory on why my big kids are dressed in big jackets.
When Sage was about to turn 1, a dear friend suggested a tradition to me that she was just beginning with her own toddler. An annual birthday ritual of dressing your child in an adult-sized piece of clothing, until–eventually–it fits. It is a way to watch the unseeable, their growing into themselves and adulthood, frame by frame.
I knew I was in before she even finished explaining it to me.
And so it’s been our fall tradition for the past seventeen years. First with just Sage, then four years later with Sage and Lupine. Jacket pictures and marking time.
Seventeen years! I’m not sure how that’s possible, yet here we are.
With a 17 and nearly 13 year old. Poof. Just like that. What an honor to watch them grow.
I will stand by the statements I have made in the past that watching my children grow, and walking this path beside them, has been one of my life’s finest gifts.
Thank you, Sage and Lupine, for choosing me to join you here.