Austin’s Bernadette Noll wants families to “Look at Us Now” in new interactive book

Austin author Bernadette Noll wants families to take a look at where they are now and capture this moment in time. Her newest book is about doing just that. Noll, who previously wrote “Slow Family Living,” is releasing “Look at Us Now: A Creative Family Journal” next month with an interactive appearance at BookPeople on May 14. You’ll get to try out some of the book there.

Bernadette Noll is the author of "Look at Us Now." Katherine O'Brien

Bernadette Noll is the author of “Look at Us Now.” Katherine O’Brien

The book really is a journal that you can do as a family or just as a parent who records what’s going on with your family over a glass of wine after they kids have gone to sleep. It’s a keepsake to record what’s happening now to remember for later and can apply to families with children of any ages. It could even be done once, and then done again a few years later because the answers would change.

Pages include topics like “What gives us reason to cheer?,” “Inside jokes. Family sayings. And things only our family gets. (Spill it.),” “One crazy thing that happened this month,” and “The five favorite things to do EVER!”

Noll says the book is about “capturing the minutia and the daily happenings. We capture the big events all the time, but the little things that are the meat of family life are all those daily rituals.”

This is a book where there are no right answers, and it’s not meant to make you sweat over how much you got done. You don’t even have to do the pages in order. Just flip through, take a page that is meaningful to you at the time and fill out as much or as little as you want.

Noll, 50, who has four children ages 18 to 9, passed around the book to her kids to see which pages were meaningful to them. One page that got a lot of enthusiasm was “List your current favorites.” “I know that even six months from now that might be different,” she says.

Look at Us Now coverartWhen she did pages with kids, each kid got to write down their answers without judgment. “It doesn’t have to be voted on,” Noll says. “It can be different for each person.”

She also did pages herself to see how they felt. One page that didn’t make the cut: “What’s your favorite color?” “Who cares? … It’s of no import,” she says.

So often, we’re told that were doing things incorrectly, Noll says. This book won’t do that.

“I made it so it applied to all stages and didn’t feel like, ‘I didn’t start on this day, so now I’m behind.’ There’s no right way to do it. You can do a page a day or one page every three months. There’s no wrong way, no wrong time.”

It is definitely not like the baby books that parents increasingly neglect as their children get older and more children come into the family. You don’t have to try to re-create what happened in the last six months. It’s just about what is happening now.

The book gives you a chance to record the struggle, but also the joy, the humor and the craziness of it all.

A page from "Look at Us Now."

A page from “Look at Us Now.”

“If we can just pause for a minute, it’s a little easier to appreciate all the little, small moments,” she says. “If a kid is freaking out at bedtime and you feel like going crazy and you want to pull your hair out, realize that it’s just where we are right now and not the way we really are going to be.”

May will be a busy month for Noll. In addition to launching this book, she’s leading the craft area at Maker Faire Austin on May 7-8. Kids will get to make many classic crafts including many that involve tying yarn recycled from old T-shirts. There will even be a giant 5-foot potholder loom.

She’s also working on another book. This one will be based on the babysitter class she teaches. It will be a book filled with activities that kids can take with them on their gigs.

Book giveaway

If you’d like to try out “Look at Us Now,” I’ve got two books to give away. Email me at nvillalpando@statesman.com with Look at Us Now in the subject line and your name and address in the body copy. I’ll pick two people out of a hat on Friday afternoon. Think early Mother’s Day gift.