Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review and Author Interview: Pants Optional By Carol L Steingreaber

UNcoventional Tips for your Road Through Life and Motherhood

By: Carol L. Steingreaber

Published: February 29, 2016

Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers


I hope you were able to honor your mom yesterday in some way, whether it was taking her out for a meal, a phone call, or remembering her by reliving some of your favorite memories of her. This book will remind all of us moms that life isn't perfect and laughter is the best way to get through all those crazy stages of motherhood!

Steingreaber worried that people who didn't know her while growing up in her large family of nine or as the parent of two children wouldn't think her stories were funny. But, when people who read her manuscript and told her it was funny and relatable, she thought she might actually have a great book. She asked those early readers to indicate their five favorite chapters, thinking that they would all pick the same five. What shocked her was most of them liked completely different chapters based on their current stages in life. Young moms connected to the chapters on parenting toddlers and others related to growing up in large families or being in the stage of life where they are now parenting their parents. Steingreaber's book has stories that women and men (Yes! Men!) can relate to and I guarantee at least one of the stories will make you laugh out loud.

Carol Steingreaber was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and wrote this series of stories from her childhood as well as married life and parenting. She wrote this book in honor of her mom who died suddenly in December 2012. Even though her mom wasn't able to read her book, she believes she was guiding her along the way as she started writing in January of 2013. By forcing herself to write every Thursday and Friday, the stories began to flow and soon she had the beginnings of PANTS OPTIONAL.

In each chapter, Steingreaber offers a "UNconventional Tip" to help with parenting and getting through life. The main tip that resonates throughout the whole book is to laugh, have fun with life and not take things too seriously. Each of her tips includes a story where Carol learned from her mom, her siblings, her husband, and even her own children, how to laugh at herself. She also shares photos from many of the scenes described in the book which gives us an even more personal look into her stories.

In "UNconventional Tip #5, I learned some interesting facts about Steingreaber's family in Benton County that may have made me blush a bit.  I related to her tip "Avoid FCS" and expect all new moms could benefit from her advice. FCS stands for First Child Syndrome and I had it bad. Steingreaber's example of FCS and Iowa winters reminded me that the amount of time it took to bundle up the kids took longer than the length of time they actually wanted to be outside.

Carol's daughter, Kate, attempting to play outside in the snow

When the tip that shares the title of the book comes along, be prepared for hoots of laughter as the author gets her first mammogram. I, like the author, find joy in embarrassing our children and she shares this tip in UNconventional Tip #22, which I'm pretty sure she accomplished by telling us quite the hilarious story in UNconventional Tip #21. She tells me that her children, ages 18 and 20 when they first read this story, handled it with a great sense of humor. That's no surprise, but they did decide a few of their mom's stories needed to stay just between the family. Not all of her tips will make you laugh, however. Her final UNconventional Tip will leave you emotional and speechless.

In my conversations with Steingreaber over the past couple weeks, I realized that she is someone I could relate to. I found we have a lot in common and commiserated on how crazy life can be when you have teenagers. This is exactly how her book makes you feel. While reading it, you'll realize your family isn't the only one that lives to embarrass you and definitely isn't the only one that knows how to laugh. Reading this book is like sitting around at your friends' house sharing stories of life. Carol Steingreaber teaches all of us that a life well-lived is one with laughter.

Readers who enjoy laughing along with stories by Erma Bombeck, Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy, and Dave Berry will find the personal stories of Carol Steingreaber just as enjoyable. Maybe she should consider a stand-up comedy night as well!

Carol Steingreaber - author submitted photo

Carol Steingreaber was born and raised in Cedar Rapids and attended Regis High School. She graduated from Loras College in 1987 with degrees in English Literature and Writing.  She worked as a correspondent, proofreader, and copywriter for an ad agency in Des Moines for seven years. Returning to Cedar Rapids in 1997 when her children were four and two, she took on the role of stay-at-home mom until 2006 when she took a job as a Marketing Director. This is Steingreaber’s first humorous autobiography. She currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with her husband, Paul. 

Pants Optional is racing up the charts on Amazon, ranking in the Midwest and in parenting books. If you are a local reader, you'll want to check out Carol at a Book Signing/Reading at Next Page Books in the New Bo District in Cedar Rapids on Friday, May 13 at 7:00 PM. You can find her books available there as well as at all the Barnes & Noble stores in Iowa. You can also purchase her book on Amazon by clicking the photo below:

A post from today, 6 years ago - What Kids Say About Moms 
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A post from today, 4 years ago - Summer Planning Has Begun
A post from today, 3 years ago - Book Review: Mom's the Word: The Wit, Wisdom, and Wonder of Motherhood By Allen Klein

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for this review. This review is my honest opinion. This book was part of a feature I wrote for the Cedar Rapids Gazette for which I was compensated. I may also receive a small commission if you choose to purchase the book through the above link. Thanks for supporting 

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