Catastrophic Happiness

catastrophic happiness catherine newmanWant to hear something weird? I love reading parenting books, but I’m not a parent. How-tos, essays, memoirs, cartoons, pretty much everything except those photographic encyclopedias that help you diagnose your baby’s latest rash. No. Thanks!

Seriously though, it doesn’t take a parent to appreciate these books and I think reading some of the how-to books makes me a better aunt. The memoirs, however, are what I pick up when I want to see the world through my own mother’s eyes and imagine how different my life would be with littles. I usually go for funny, but I can also handle cute and heartwarming. And I found all of that and more in Catastrophic Happiness by Catherine Newman.

If you read Real Simple magazine you probably recognize the author’s name. Newman is the etiquette columnist and always handles readers’ questions with grace and verve. Yup, sometimes the answer is that you have to stand your ground and be firm with your mother-in-law/child/spouse/co-worker/florist. The same holds true for parenting, which makes me still hold out hope that the editorial staff will eventually let Catherine write a parenting advice column.

Catastrophic Happiness isn’t like most parenting memoirs I’ve read–and trust me, I’ve read a bunch. Most focus on what it’s like to start parenting life with your newborn. Babies and toddlers can provide endless entertainment and joy, so the plethora of anecdotes usually proves meaty enough for a book. Or several.

This is exactly why Catastrophic Happiness is so incredibly awesome. We get to share in the trials and tribulations of the not-so-cute phase of raising kids. The book starts out with Catherine’s son Ben and daughter Birdie already starting school and it follows them up into the start of their teenage years. These are the years that can get messy, or distant, or strained, or just plain…blah? I’m not really sure, but for some reason they aren’t usually the focus of a book. But this is definitely a mistake, as Catherine proves chapter after chapter.

I laughed. I cried. I read so many passages out loud to my husband that I should have contacted the publisher to see if they would let me record the audiobook. Catherine Newman has a particular way with words that will have you writing down quote after quote. She turns a phrase like no other. I wanted to include a passage to illustrate what I mean, but publishers get a little bit Genghis Khan about comparing quotes from an advance reader copy to the finished product, and our finished copy hasn’t yet arrived. You’ll just have to wait and see for yourself!

Catastrophic Happiness hits bookshelves on April 5th, so there’s plenty of time to get a copy for your mom/sister/wife/cousin/friend for Mother’s Day. Regardless of whether or not you’re a parent you should read this one, to yourself or out loud to someone you love.

Your New Prince or Princess

Well, the new British princess has a lovely name: Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. I wonder if the royals consulted a name book before they chose so wisely. Did you know that the library has a parenting section which includes fabulous books on names and everything baby and child related? We use it often, especially when there are questions about children’s discipline, potty training, sleeping and eating issues. There are some really excellent titles in this collection and I’d like to share them with you here.

index (2)index (3)1,107 Baby Names that Stand the Test of Time by Jennifer Griffin will help you decide upon that perfect name for your prince or princess. This is where you’ll find Charlotte, Alice, William and Edward. If you’re looking for funkier names, check out Baby Names 2013 which will give you lists of the currently popular names.

index (1)Baby Day by Day: In-depth, Daily Advice on your Baby’s Growth, Care and Development in the First Year is published by Dorling Kindersley, so you know that it’s chock full of wonderful photographs. This is your guide for taking care of baby during the first year: basic information, day by day milestones, and everything about your baby’s health. You can rest assured, it’s all here!

indexCaring For Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics has all the information you may need to safeguard your child’s health. It includes sections on safety checks, all the common diseases, feeding and nutrition, and emergencies. Parents usually go out and buy a copy of this book once they lay eyes on it, it’s that good! Come check it out from the library before you spend money on your own personal copy.

index (4)Retro Baby: Cut Back on all the Gear and Boost your Baby’s Development with more than 100 Time-tested Activities by Anne Zachry is a great one! The baby product industry would have you believe that you need loads of equipment for a baby, but, do you really? The refreshing concept here is that you are your baby’s favorite play thing and this book is full of fun, money-saving activities that will set children up for lifelong success.

index (2)Having said that, sometimes you just need that crib or high chair and, hey, it all adds up, so check out the book Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20-50% on Baby Furniture, Equipment, Maternity Wear and Much Much More! by Fields. It shows you the best web sites for discounts, name brand reviews, safety tips, and seven general tips on saving money. It costs about $10,000 just to equip a baby, so use this book and pinch your pennies.

index (5)Now here’s a book that’s on my bedside table right now: 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 by Thomas Phelan. It’s also one that provides immediate relief to parents searching for help with discipline. I kid you not, I’ve had moms and dads hug me when I place this book in their hands. This program works like magic and it is quick and effective. It gives you keys to controlling obnoxious behavior, encouraging good behavior, and strengthening your relationships with your children. Magic!

indexindex (1)The most popular books on toilet training are Potty Training Boys the Easy Way and Potty Training Girls the Easy Way by Fertleman. This is fascinating reading for people who have this issue, let me tell you. It’s almost potty training season (summer), so reserve your copy today!

index (6)Recipes for Play: Creative Activities for Small Hands and Big Imaginations by Sumner and Mitchener will help fill your child’s days with inspirational activities. I want to try the jiggly eggs, play dough recipe and marble painting from the indoor play section and the garden soup, fairy housing, and bubble blowing from the outdoor section. There’s also the ribbon leash, the pom-pom pusher and the wallet wonder (for long car trips). This book is pure gold for creative ideas.

index (7)One book that has to be included on this list is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish. This new edition of the bestselling classic includes fresh insights and suggestions as well as the author’s time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships, express your strong feelings without being hurtful, engage your child’s willing cooperation, set firm limits while maintaining goodwill and use alternatives to punishment that promote self-discipline.

Come on in to the library and we’ll set you up with these or other great parenting titles.