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“There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  –Albert Einstein (quoted from Now I See The Moon by Elaine Hall)

April is Autism Awareness Month and in that spirit of celebration I’m reviewing Now I See The Moon: A Mother, A Son, A Miracle by Elaine Hall  

In this moving and inspiring memoir, Elaine Hall (known as “Coach E” and a “Miracle Mom” and a speaker at the United Nations for World Autism Day 2013) shares the story of her adoption of a Russian boy and their journey to a diagnosis of nonverbal autism.  With courage and passion, Elaine Hall invites readers into both her private and professional worlds (she’s a former child acting coach) and opens up about her emotional journey — one that includes her struggles with infertility, the heartbreaking diagnosis of her son’s autism, divorce and the birth of The Miracle Project.

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I devoured the book (and have re-read it several times).

Like a tough but gentle coach, Elaine knows when to push and when to let us test our own limits.  Her life is filled with teachable moments and reading the book felt like a virtual support group.   Here, she raves about Dr. Stanley Greenspan and his revolutionary work.  She teaches about Miracle Moms and Dads and The Miracle Project.   Best of all, Elaine’s writing transports the reader:  we wait at the doctor’s office with her and Neal, we play on the floor with Neal, we are on the stage with her miracle kids.

Elaine introduces each chapter (“Phase”) with an inspirational quote and includes “Neal Has Autism,” “Connecting,” “Never Give Up,” and “Celebrations.”

Elaine Hall teaches us that life is filled with Miracle Moments – we just have to be open to seeing them.  And who doesn’t love a miracle?

For more about Elaine Hall and her miraculous work, visit her at Coach E On Autism and The Miracle Project.

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Author Pamela Druckerman created a stir last year with her international bestseller BRINGING UP BÉBÉ.  Her memoir touted the advantages of French parenting and started a provocative conversation heard from the boardroom to the ballpark.

Last week, Druckerman’s new bébé arrived — BÉBÉ DAY BY DAY:  100 Keys To French Parenting (The Penguin Press). 

The book is a how-to guide for new parents and veterans alike and gives readers the best of from her memoir.  In this new companion book Druckerman teaches parents the timeless maxims of French child-rearing and in doing so, has changed my life forever.

Organized by topic into 10 sections  (including sleeping, eating, discipline, motherhood, and relationships), BÉBÉ DAY BY DAY offers 100 clear, concise rules along with brief discussions on how to parent the French way. With irresistible illustrations and recipes throughout (including a crèche meal plan), BÉBÉ DAY BY DAY belongs on every parent and caregiver’s shelf.

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The best two things about the book, in my opinion, are that Druckerman’s rules are not complicated, and that you can dip into the book and pick one rule to try at a time — each offers a simple solution made up of equal parts common sense, intuition, and proactivity all designed to effect positive change NOW.

Some of my favorite rules include:

On Eating: Rule #25 There is no “kid” food. Everyone eats the same thing.

On Dessert: Rule #59 Let them eat cake!

On Discipline: Rule #42 Say “wait” a lot.  Don’t jump at every demand.

On Work: Rule #72 Go back to Work.  If you don’t work, have non-mom interests.

On Motherhood: Rule #53 Don’t constantly entertain your child. Stimulate him, but not all the  time. Teach them to cope with boredom. Let them muddle through.

On Relationships: Rule #73 Find your couple again.  Your baby doesn’t replace your husband. Or your partner. Date night is non-negotiable.

In BÉBÉ DAY BY DAY Pamela Druckerman addresses universal parenting concerns and teaches us we can change our parenting styles and in doing so, we will dramatically improve our  own lives as Moms and women.

Merci, Pamela!

(PS:  Last week, a group of NYC area Mom bloggers — including yours truly(!) — feted Ms. Druckerman at a book party sponsored by The Penguin Press and Go Mighty — check out the Bebe Rules that were featured on cute chalk boards, photos of Pamela Druckerman, and all the party photos on Flickr.  Photo credit and permission granted for all photos and links by Go Mighty and Leslie Fandrich, photographer.)

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It’s February Moonfrye friends — the month of hearts, kisses, x’s & o’s and of course, Love.

Our fridges are covered in kids’ love-themed crafts, candy companies are tempting us 24/7 and commercials for sparkly “Gifts for Her” are on every network.

We all love the idea of love and celebrating it on February 14 has turned into a national holiday.

Like most gals, I love romance and so I’ve been thinking about love — family love, kid love, friend love.  But mostly I’ve been reflecting on romantic love and my sweet husband.   Valentine’s Day reminds me why we try to have weekly date nights and how important it is for us to make our relationship a priority.

So, it’s fitting that my first book review for February is the new book The Chemistry Between Us:  Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction by Larry Young and Brian Alexander.

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I love nonfiction (and fiction!) and especially crave books that take readers on journey. In this case, I embarked on a mission to understand love including:

Blending real human stories and scientific research to define “love” on a molecular level, the book gets a little heavy during discussions about the human – animal parallels (and I didn’t spend too much time on some of the gender issues) but overall the authors give us a highly accessible and entertaining and not at all intimating read that does a terrific job of breaking down the mysteries behind lust, physical attraction, jealousy, infidelity, parent love and so much more.

 Award winning journalist Brian Alexander and neuroscientist Larry Young, PhD literally let us count the ways we love in The Chemistry Between Us and that is a great reason to take a moment, grab some chocolate, kiss your honey, hugs your kids, and celebrate love this Valentine’s Day!

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Happy 2013 Moonfrye family!  It’s a sparkling, shiny new year and time for a fresh start.  I love the idea of a clean slate: to mean it symbolizes newness and transformation.  In this spirit, I selected what I think is the perfect book to review here to start us off in 2013 and to make this the year to we all dare greatly and in doing so transform the way we live, love, parent, and work.

In her life-changing new book Daring Greatly, researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers advice that encourages us to embrace our vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.

As a mom of twins, I find her message particularly resonates with me as I navigate the parenting maze and my son’s special needs.

Society tells us vulnerability is weakness but Dr. Brown turns that idea on its head explaining that vulnerability isn’t weakness or defeat but rather the source of our potential power and courage.

That concept really strikes a chord when I think about life — challenges and change are inevitable so how can we deal best with life’s up and downs?

The phrase ‘daring greatly is from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic” –

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly . . .”

In her book of the same name, Brené Brown (who also blogs – hooray!) tells us that, “Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose.”

Wow, right?

Check out Brené’s book trailer here (I just love her energy and positivism!)

As women and moms, we are all particularly vulnerable to feeling like we don’t measure up or that we aren’t enough (whether it’s thin enough, successful enough, crafty enough,  blogging enough, Mom enough…).  What the book teaches is that all of these normal feelings come from a place of vulnerability.  The good news: in Daring Greatly, the author gives us all the courage to be vulnerable, to take off the armor we use to protect ourselves, and to let ourselves be seen.

Once we embrace being vulnerable, we transform the way we live, love, and parent.

For me, embracing my life and vulnerability means owning up to what I don’t know, to what I can’t get done in a day, to the unexpected, to change, to parenting twins (one with special needs), and to going with the flow.

In 2013, I’m pledging to embrace the gift of the daily opportunity to Daring Greatly and I hope you will, too!   Here’s to 2013! Make it great!

Please come back to Moonfrye soon to check out what I’m reading and reviewing here next month!

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Welcome to the Holiday Season 2012!

It’s SO easy for busy Moms (and Dads) to lose the “Ho! Ho! Ho!”  in the midst of all holiday madness (shopping, baking, wrapping).  But before I find myself slipping into a “Bah-humbug” mood, I’ve decided to enjoy the spirit of the season every day by having a mini holiday celebration each day in December.

Will you join me?

Holiday cheer can be found anywhere if you stay in the present (no pun intended!) and focus on what you have.  Think glass half-full of egg nog, not half-empty.

Here are my Top 10 Ways To Celebrate The Holidays Every Day:

1. Sing Holiday Songs and Christmas Carols!  Whenever you can, sing and hum this season. My husband and son sing holiday favorites at bedtime every night.  The sweet sounds of song always bring holiday cheer.  My boy M’s favorite is “Silent Night.”

 2. Stop and Smell The Mistletoe!  There is beauty out there to calm and soothe us — nature offers up gifts every day.  Take a moment to notice it.

3. Enjoy a cup of steaming Hot Chocolate – with marshmallows AND whipped cream!  Whether you make it from scratch or make it from a pre-made package, a warm cup of cocoa is a small gift everyone in the family can enjoy.

4Eat a Candy Cane!  Remember what it is like to be a kid again — unwrap a big red and white candy cane and let the sweet peppermint flavor remind you of the simpler days.

5. Treat Yourself! — Buy yourself a small treat or make a special snack or paint your nails.   “Me Time” turns the Holiday Chaos into Happy Chaos!

6. Donate! We all have something to give — a gently used coat, a new toy, a favorite book.  Share something and make another person smile.

7. Watch “A Christmas Carol” (Charles Dickens)!  Gather the family and watch this classic — the Disney version is fine or go for the black and white original from 1938.

8. Visit a neighbor or friend that needs some extra cheer.  We are very busy in December but we can all spare 15 or 20 minutes to banish loneliness in someone’s life.

9. Read A Charlie Brown Christmas!   This classic about Charlie Brown’s ill-fated Christmas tree rescue is a must-read every December.

10. Give out extra hugs, kisses, and love!  Amp it up!  Kids and parents alike will love the extra smooches and care during this hectic time.  Don’t save it for one day — let your love loose every day!

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Author and blogger Jane Roper wrote the book she wished she had read when she was pregnant with her twins. Hands down, it’s the book I wish I had read, too, except it wasn’t published (or written!) in 2003 when I had my own twins.

Double Time: How I Survived- – and Mostly Thrived — Through the First Three Years of Mothering -Twins is part-memoir, part-guidebook and part-homage to her twin daughters, Clio and Elsa. The book weaves Roper’s personal journey as a Mom of twins alongside a woman battling depression with smart advice and authority in a way that will appeal to new parents of twins, twin parent veterans and expecting twin parents.

There are so many things I love about Jane’s book — her voice, her honesty, her ability to laugh at herself. Jane makes being a twin mom relatable in way that all Moms will enjoy regardless of the number of children she has or hopes to have. Among other topics she discusses:

As much as I loved reading the parenting story (from infertility struggles to the joyful birth of the girls and their subsequent adventures), I equally loved Jane’s account of dealing with and ultimately triumphing over clinical depression.

If you want a great read that is inspiring, funny, and refreshing, add Double Time to your list. Best of all, for busy Moms of twins you can read Double Time cover to cover or in shorter chapter by chapter increments. Either way, Jane will touch you and make you smile like only a good friend can.