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The city where we’re living right now is trying to bribe us – well, me – to stay here f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Boy, do they have me pegged. When I swung into the library last Saturday for a quick book drop-off and oh, okay, I’ll check out some more even though we are the Very Last People in the library and the librarians are all counting the minutes until Part II of their cruelly divided weekend can begin, one of the librarians came up to me and said, “By the way, they’ve just raised the borrowing limit from 25 books . . . to 100 books.” She watched the stunned look on my face and added, “I’ve been telling everyone who I know keeps their card close to the limit just to see the reactions.” (Make that two cards – M(4yo) has one in her name, too . . . let’s just say that she’s not the one watching the occasional PG-13 movie that shows up on it.)


The only thing more ridiculous than carrying on a conversation via IM or texting with someone in the same room when there’s no need for silence or privacy is Skyping with someone in the same room anytime. As my husband and I just did.


One of the parts of growing up is realizing that the cool superhero-inspired inside-joke Skype handle that you gave yourself back in your carefree pre-kids days might not be the best option for professional conversations. Fortunately, Skype seems to be aware of this phenomenon and you don’t even have to come up with a new e-mail address to add a new handle for business purposes. Nice. After you set the new one up, though, you will want to make sure that it comes up correctly when someone else tries to find you, so it’s handy if your wife – er, someone – is there to do a search with her account for your new Skype name. And then, of course, you have to Skype with each other. To the great delight of the 18mo, who was on his Daddy’s lap, and the 4yo, who was giggling her head off with Mommy. All in the same room. But we did have our backs to each other because our desks are in opposite corners, even if we could hear each other at least as well not over our computer speakers.


My library book pick of the week – French Twist: An American Mom’s Experiment in Parisian Parenting by Catherine Crawford. I’m enjoying the recent “French parenting” trend (see Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman; her spin-off, Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting; and French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon). I’m enjoying the trend chiefly because it basically confirms the way a) my husband and I were raised and b) we’re raising our kids. (Except for the minor detail of the amazing French food . . .) Daddy and Mommy are in charge; boundaries (which means being comfortable saying – and meaning – “no”) help kids feel safe and taken care of and maintains household sanity; snacks are an exception; dinner is made at home and eaten together, the same basic meal for everyone; adults are not just tall playmates, nor are responsible for having something fun (or organized) scheduled for every moment of the day – independent free play is a Very Good Thing.

So, for me, the books are a combination of “You were doing what before?”; the cozy adult recognition that my parents were right all along; and the relief that I no longer have to feel guilty for not having my children’s day divided into Enriching Activities or for not carrying snacks in my purse (which aren’t missed, for the record). 


Let me clarify that there are still plenty of ways in which I am not a “French parent” (or even an American “French parent”). It would be easy to get the impression from the French parenting books that their approach and, say, the attachment-parenting approach are mutually exclusive. (And, frankly, the extremes of each are mutually exclusive.) But so far things seem to be going well with our Brooklyn-meets-Paris, extended-breastfeeding, parents are parents and kids are kids approach.


My children’s library book pick of the week is Queenie Farmer Had Fifteen Daughters by Ann Campbell, in honor of Mother’s Day – and in honor of my mother. Now, my father is still happily married to (and living with) my mother – he did not disappear a la Mr. Farmer in a futile search for missing cows. But the baking, crafting, creative love for her fifteen daughters (and fifty assorted grandchildren) that Queenie Farmer displays reminded me immediately of my own Mom and her baking, crafting, creative love for her three daughters (and assorted grandchildren). Gorgeous dresses (Christmas, Easter, prom, bridesmaid’s . . .); baptismal gowns; our special birthday desserts (my daughter is already plotting baking time with Grandma for my birthday this summer); and the many favorite photos of my children that were taken by their photographer Grandma. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of my Mom’s creative talents. Thank you, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!


Finally, this is Day 1 of the Pentecost Novena, or the nine days of prayer between the Ascension and Pentecost. The Pentecost Novena was the original novena; the idea of a novena has since become to pray a prayer or set of prayers daily on the nine days leading up to a feast. There aren’t particular prayers set by the Catholic Church for the Pentecost novena. There are short options (the “Come, Holy Spirit” prayer, for instance) and Very Long options (the Novena of the Seven Gifts, for instance). I happen to like this Pentecost Novena, which is somewhere in-between.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen over at Conversion Diary!