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French for Beginners: Catherine Crawford's 'French Twist'

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Are French kids really better behaved than their American counterparts? Are Gallic parents just more relaxed American ones? These are some of the questions Catherine Crawford examines in French Twist: An American Mom's Experiment in Parisian Parenting.

Crawford, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband, sought tips and advice from French experts and friends in an effort to turn her young daughters into thoroughly modern mademoiselles. Did it work? And can it work for you? You'll have to read the book, out March 12 from Ballantine, to find out.

T+L sent Crawford (who, it should be noted, is a friend), a few questions. Here's what she had to say.

Q. What drew you to the French style of parenting in the first place?

Curiously, it came to me. Namely, an old, dear friend of my husband's came for dinner with his Parisian wife and their two astonishingly well-behaved children. Everything was so easy and pleasant that night. My first reaction was jealousy--why couldn’t I have that kind of chaos-free rapport with my kids? That envy morphed into resolve, and la grande experiment was born.

Do Americans over-idealize the French? Or do they really have childrearing figured out?

Our relationship with France is so fraught. We love it… and we hate it. What I find fascinating is that we are culturally so competitive yet our societies are so very different. I discovered that the French do have many aspects of childrearing figured out – or rather they haven't over-thought and distorted them in the way many of us parents have done here. However, American parenting has some real upsides, and I’m happy that my kids are still filled with grit, fire and guts. They just needed to learn a little respect and restraint as well.

What things are American parents already doing that's pretty French?

Breathing. No, hmmm, let me think. It really is quite different. American parents are much more likely to put their kids on a level equal with themselves which, I believe, has led to a lot of ineffectual negotiating and bargaining. In France, children are children and their parents are The Chiefs. This distinction did wonders for my family. Still, I often consciously tempered the French lessons because I wanted to maintain that enterprising streak in my kids that is so cool – and common in Americans. Even many of the French parents I interviewed marveled approvingly at this American individualism instilled at such a young age.

What can American parents learn from French parents, especially when traveling with kids?

The best lesson I learned was that, given the chance and some direction, my kids could really hang. After about six months of "French-ifying," we took a beach vacation that was revolutionary. The difference between this trip and our previous vacations is that we didn't plan it around the kids and "kid-friendly" activities. For the first time, they had to adapt into our world (and not the other way around). Instead of spending gobs of money at amusement parks and mini-golf, we hiked, cooked, and communed with both nature and each other.

What's your one can't miss French trick that parents can try right now?

My personal favorite, offered to me by a French friend with whom I was drinking wine and chatting when my youngest daughter launched a tantrum in the other room: "If there is no blood, don't get up."

See: Taking the Kids to Paris and Best Family Getaways.

Photo courtesty of Catherine Crawford.

Delta CEO Condemns New TSA Rules

We weren't the only ones baffled by the TSA's announcement last week that airline passengers can now bring small knives, baseball bats, and golf clubs unto flights: Delta CEO Richard Anderson released a letter to the security agency expressing his "legitimate concerns" about the changes.

"If the purpose is to increase security checkpoint flow, there are much more effective steps we can take together to streamline the security checkpoints with risk-based screening mechanisms," he wrote, according to a report from The Associated Press. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants has already condemned the new regulations. Laura Glading, head of the union, was quoted as saying she was "a little puzzled" by the TSA's decision to allow the banned items. "Nobody knows what it takes to keep passengers safe better than we do."

Update, March 13: Representatives from American Airlines and its soon-to-be partner US Airways have also weighed in. Per Skift's Dennis Schaal, American Airlines wrote in a letter to the TSA, "The safety of our people and our customers is paramount..."

The new rules go into effect April 25, 2013. A searchable list of TSA banned and approved carry-on items can be found at the agency's official website.

U.S. Embassy Lifts Kidnap Warnings in Peru

The U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru has posted a new message on its official website walking back some of the warnings it issued in February about the threat of kidnappings in the country.

The statement says, in part:

"The U.S. Embassy has conducted a thorough review of current information surrounding the potential kidnapping threat against U.S. citizens in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area by members of a criminal organization. Based upon this review, the February 13 restriction on travel by U.S. Embassy personnel to the region has been lifted."

The kidnapping scare, kicked off by the mother of an American cyclist who'd stopped updating his Facebook feed while in Peru, rippled through the country's travel and hospitality industries. Garrett Hand, the "missing" cyclist, has since been in touch with his mom.

The embassy still has some suggestions for American travelers like signing up for the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and avoiding certain regions known for crime. We'd add another suggestion to the list: Call your mother.

See also: Insider's Travel Guide to Peru.

SXSW 2013: Your Clip and Save Guide to Austin

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Chances are, if you're in the music, tech, film, or media business, you or some of your colleagues are headed to Austin right about now for the SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive conference which kicks off March 8. While attendees will find their schedules packed with panels, demos, concerts, and wall-to-wall marketing pitches, if they can sneak away from the SxSW circus, Austin has a lot to offer.

Here, we present some suggestions for enjoying the most laid back city in Texas beyond the 24-hour blitz of the festival.

Eats:

The Dock & Roll Diner: Every city has food trucks, but Austin has a food Airstream trailer. Follow them on Twitter @DockandRoll for the daily specials, like today's offering: The Infidel Castro: "Cuban rubbed smoked pork, prosciutto, swiss, pickle, jalapeño and vaquero."

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Picture This: Smithsonian's 2012 Photo Contest Finalists Announced

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Looking for some inspiration? Smithsonian.com has just posted a slideshow of the finalists in its 2012 Photo Contest. The group 50 images, which are organized by categories from The Natural World, Travel, People, Americana, to Altered Images, was selected from over 37,600 submissions by photographers from 112 countries.

The finalists include an almost tactile image of rice terraces in Vietnam by Vo Anh Kiet; the colorful revelers at the Festival of Onam in India taken by Indranil Sengupta; an eerily beautiful liquor store in Petaluma, CA taken by David Egan; and the monumental portrait of a Bangladeshi day laborer by Raihan Parvez shown above.

Check out all the images at Smithsonian.com. Voting for the Readers Choice is open now.

Image by Raihan Parvez, courtesy of Smithsonian.com

BBC Worldwide Reportedly Selling Lonely Planet

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Yesterday, Skift's Rafat Ali reported that BBC Worldwide is in negotiations to sell off a majority of its stake in Lonely Planet, the longtime must-pack for wide-eyed international backpackers since its founding in 1973. The buyer, according to Ali, is Brad Kelley, a former tobacco company owner and semi-reclusive billionaire described as being the third biggest private landowner in the United States. BBC Worldwide, which acquired Lonely Planet from its founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler in 2007, would still have some role in the day-to-day operations of the book and web company. Rumors of a possible sale were reported in the U.K. press back in December 2012, when names of possible buyers included Barry Diller, head of IAC/InterActiveCorp.

So, what might this mean for fans of the books? As Jason Clampet notes in another Skift story from the same day, sales of guidebooks are down as more travelers are turning to the web and mobile devices for user-generated content. According to Clampet, sales of the top guides dropped by 47% since 2007.

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Documenting St. Martin's Wildlife One Species at a Time

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A lot of people dream about packing up their workaday lives and moving to paradise, but few of us actually do it. Mark Yokoyama, a former marketing and merchandising executive, and his partner, Jenn Yerkes, an advertising copywriter, did just that when they moved to St. Martin in November 2009 to found Les Fruits de Mer, "the world's first Extreme Shallow Snorkeling team, dedicated to pioneering the sport, art and science of extreme shallow snorkeling all over the world."

When not extreme shallow snorkeling, Yokoyama spent much of the last three years hiking the island and documenting the diversity of its wildlife. The result is The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin, a book of original up-close nature photography and original research he released as a print-on-demand edition in 2010. Yokoyama is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for a revised and expanded edition. According to his campaign video, the more copies Yokoyama sells in advance, the cheaper he can make them and the more accessible the book will be to the island's kids. (He freely acknowledges playing the "do it for the kids" card.)

As he tells T+L below, the book is also a great resource for visitors to the island with an interest in nature and local culture.

Q. What are you doing on St. Martin and how did you come to document the island's wildlife?

As a child, I was very interested in wildlife and wildlife photography, but I grew away from that in my teens. I ended up in St. Martin after developing a love of scuba diving and underwater photography. Spending all day wandering the hills taking photos of insects was a natural next step, and now I'm doing exactly what I loved to do when I was ten-years-old.

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