February 2005


Writer mom lets us know we’re all in it together 14 Hours ’Til Bedtime: A Stay-at-Home Mom’s Life in 27 Funny Little Stories, by Jen Singer. Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, 2004, $12.95.

Jen Singer knows exactly who she is writing for—moms just like her who feel privileged to be able to stay home with their kids, yet know it’s OK to sometimes wish for a few simple pleasures, such as taking a shower in peace.

With two boys, ages 6 and 7, Singer has been there, done that and still managed to squeeze in the time to write a hilarious account of her life after kids.

In addition to having her funny prose published in national magazines, the author also created her own Web site,, the Stay At Home Moms Coffee Break, filled with anecdotes, links and essays for the breaks moms need—even if they are few and far between.

In 14 Hours ’Til Bedtime, Singer keeps each of her 27 stories short because she knows stay-at-home moms “have only about 750 words to read before someone figures out you’re hiding in the bathroom with a book.” Each story is separated by even shorter “funnies” that take a minute or so to read.

The author doesn’t complain about being a mom or about the gazillion times she has had to scrape peanut butter off the telephone or the long hours she has had to hold her colicky babies. She just feels it’s all right for moms to sometimes wonder what appreciation they get for the 24/7 job with no days off.

The book has a “we’re all in this together” attitude so that overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, rookie moms don’t feel like they are the only ones up at 3 a.m.

This is a great read for moms at all stages. It’s a consolation and a much-needed laugh for moms going through exactly what the author describes. It’s a heartier laugh for moms who have graduated from the teething troubles of infants and toddlers.

As for expectant moms … it’s a preview for a movie they’ve already bought. Kiran Ansari

Books offers insights on sensory integration issues Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Integration Issues, by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske, Penguin Books, 2005, $22.

A tearful child protests loudly, she can’t bear the touch of clothing tags and seams against her skin. Another child is unnerved by the telephone’s high-pitched ring but likes to turn on the vacuum and listen to the whirring and whooshing of its loud motor.

Equally worrisome for a parent is the boy who refuses to climb on the playground equipment. He is content to simply spin in circles on the carousel.

All these unusual behaviors are symptoms of sensory integration dysfunction and they indicate the children have trouble processing tactile, auditory or vestibular (balance) signals in their brain. Often it can occur with other disorders, such as attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorders, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder.

If you’ve never heard of this, then Raising a Sensory Smart Child is a comprehensive handbook that can help you learn about what happens when sensory processing malfunctions in a child. 

In warm accessible language the authors guide us through diagnosis, learning and behavior issues, practical solutions for home and school and “sensory diets.” The co-authors are a parent and an occupational therapist, and they combine authoritative information with personal insights and experiences. Charts describe the seven sensory systems, and checklists enable parents to determine their child’s unique profile—identifying sensitivities and troublesome behaviors.

It is often surprising for parents to learn that problems with sensory processing can also affect areas of cognitive development such as speech and language, motor skills and social and emotional growth.

This is a book to foster sensory smart parents. A complete index provides lists of useful toys, equipment, products, Web sites and support organizations. This deserves a place on the reference library shelf. Another book I also recommend is the previously published and highly regarded Out-of -Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz. Emilija Novitovic, M.Ed. 

Good hockey coaching can smooth out an icy patch The Baffled Parent’s Guide to Coaching Youth Hockey, by Bruce Driver with Clare Wharton. McGraw-Hill Trade. 2005, $14.95.

It’s a highly complex sport, hockey. It’s not smash and bash. There’s almost an art to it, really. Between you and a sheet of ice are two thin blades of steel. You’re skating fiercely, holding a stick, maneuvering around or, hopefully, through defenders, all the while trying to guide a little black puck into a goal’s net. It takes precise hand-eye coordination, patience and toughness.

Hockey can go from complex to downright frustrating when, for the first time, you have to teach the sport to kids 6-14 years old. What is a flip pass, snap shot, hat trick, angle check or a hip check? And what in the H-E double-hockey sticks is icing? Thankfully, all the information a novice hockey coach needs is in this book.

Baffling as hockey may be, former NHL star and Stanley Cup champion Bruce Driver and self-proclaimed “hockey mom” Clare Wharton offer a simple guide to coaching a unique and intricate sport. Everything is covered from safe and reliable equipment to elaborately designed drills. There are more than 40 pages full of offensive and defensive drills. But one of the most important pieces of information might be the section on starting and stopping on the ice.

Hockey is dangerous, but safety comes with knowledge. This book details every aspect of the game in a clear and concise manner, affording a new coach quick insight to prevent injuries.

When it comes to advice, Driver and Wharton offer more than the practical; but the profound. “Goalies must understand that they can never stop every shot and that they’ll let in a weak goal once in a while. But the best goaltenders never allow a bad goal to affect their play. They learn to block out the negative thoughts so they can refocus and concentrate on the next shot.”

Good to know, hockey is more than a physical game. It’s mental too. Icing, by the way, “occurs when a player shoots from his team’s side of the center red line across the opposing team’s goal line.” OK, so now you probably want to know what and where the red line is; read the book. Brad Spencer

Kids Eat Chicago

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