mal a l'aise

les bagues

Rue des Penitents
Happy holiday's to all! Photo, "Rue des Pénitants," taken yesterday, in Bollène.

les bagues (bag) noun, feminine

    : braces

Example Sentence: (I'm afraid I just don't have the vocal stamina to offer a sound file, today, for the following quote...)

L'orthodontiste colle sur les dents des bagues reliées entre elles par un fil dont on ajuste l'écartement chaque mois... De plus en plus, les bagues posées sont transparentes afin d'éviter la gêne sociale provoquée par un "sourire d'acier". The orthodontist glues the braces onto the teeth (the braces are linked together by a wire, the length of which is adjusted each month)... More and more, braces are transparent in order to avoid the social stigma associated with a "steel smile". --MagazineAvantages

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

On the way home from the orthodontist's, my daughter mumbles, "J'ai leufesonsayefdanlaboosh!"

"What's that, Sweetie?"

It must be me, but how is it that adolescent French is harder to decipher than advanced French— something I supposedly tackled years ago?

"I don't understand what you are saying, Chou.* Can you please repeat that?"
le "S" "N" "C" "F" dans la bouche!" says my daughter, exaspérée.

"Oh! Train tracks! I get it! You've got train tracks in your mouth! You are so funny, Chou!"

After a couple of knee-smacking heehaws and guffaws, I look over to the passenger seat, and notice my daughter isn't laughing: I've giggled at my poor girl's expense--and oh, what an expense! Given the price of braces these days, and given the fact that I had the bright idea to have both our kids fitted for them, at once, I'd say this is no frugal French train...

THIS is the Orient Express!

Comment your heart out, and heart-felt thanks for every word you share!

French Vocabulary

chou (short for choucou, chouchoute) = darling, sweetheart; j'ai le SNCF dans la bouche = I have the SNCF in my mouth!; la SNCF (f) = Société nationale des chemins de fer; exaspérée (exaspérer) = to exasperate

A Day in a Dog's Life...
by Braise and Smokey

Smokey and Braise, heehawing and guffawing...
"Thank goodness WE don't need braces!" Smokey says.
"Otherwise how could we eat these rubber balls!" Braise agrees.
Both dogs feel sympathy, for auntie Jackie...
She'll have the bottom teeth "braced" in the new year. Meantime, our billfolds are bracing themselves, in time to refuel the train.


Caudalie Beauty Elixir :
J'aime this refreshing moisture mist - the scent is lovely!

Staub Oval Cocotte: The French oven is a timeless standby for stews, roasts, soups, casseroles and other one-pot classics.

Eiffel Tower Paris Tea Light Candle Holder

The Ultimate French Review and Practice (Book+ CD-ROM)

Bonsoir Lune / Goodnight Moon (French Edition)

Navigation Paquet, Art Poster

The Chorus (A family film favorite!)
When he takes a job teaching music at a school for troubled boys, Clément Mathieu is unprepared for its harsh discipline and depressing atmosphere. But with passion and unconventional teaching methods, he's able to spark his students' interest in music and bring them a newfound joy! It also puts him at odds with the school's overbearing headmaster, however, locking Mathieu in a battle between politics and the determination to change his pupils' lives!

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Bill in St. Paul

Neither my wife, our children, or I had to have braces, but I can still sympathize with Jackie, having had many a friend wear them. Our ex-backdoor neighbors tell the story of when they were dating, and both had braces, they got hooked together when they kissed good night (at least they claim it was a good night kiss).

It's great to see Smokey running after his mother, looking so happy. Seeing Blaise running with a tennis ball in her mouth reminds me of our Golden and how he loved to play catch. What we couldn't understand, though, was how he kept "finding" so many tennis balls, until we found out that our neighbor, who played tennis regularly, was tossing the "dead" tennis balls (you know, the ones who played tennis with as a kid) into our yard for Theo.

Winter is finally here!! 6-8" of snow, 11 degrees F, winds 21mph, gusting to 29mph and everyone is driving slowly.


Ah, Jackie. I can empathize. I even remember the date I got my braces ... December 19! The year? Let's just say the Beatles were really popular that year. But it was worth it. My goddaughter just had her braces removed and has a retainer. As uncomfortable as it may be to feel as though you have the S.N.C.F. in your mouth now, I hope you too can look back, be glad your parents could afford the braces, and give some advice to a young person going through this privelaged "rite of passage."


Tell Jackie that she will be glad someday that you "made" her get braces. I didn't and still have that funny bottom tooth that leaves a funny shape when you bite into a slice of good ol american cheese!
We had our first snowfall in Ohio and it was beautiful at 11 - haven't shovele snow for two years - another thing I loved about living in Paris!!



"chou (short for choucou, chouchoute) = darling, sweetheart"

Doesn't it all start out as Chou=Cabbage?


And which room in your house has that incredible raspberry tiled wall?

You never cease to amaze me.....

Marianne Rankin

I've never worn braces, but my son has had them, from age 11 to 14. Since then he has worn a retainer. For some reason, he is missing 3 adult teeth, and his whole mouth had to be rearranged to make up for that. He likely will have to wear the retainer until age 21. At that time, the orthodontist may install one or more "false" teeth or other means of keeping the teeth from gapping or shifting.

Point out to Jackie that she probably won't have to wear her "train tracks" and retainer that long.


Jackie's a good sport to let you post her picture. Tell her that they are a lot less noticeable than the metallic monstrosities of my day. Less uncomfortable too, I'd imagine, though never having worn braces I can't say that from experience.

Braces make pretty girls like Jackie even prettier, so they are worth it in the end!

Candy Witt

Thank you, Kristin, for teaching me another meaning for the word "blague". I only knew it to mean "ring". Does having "rings" in your mouth sound better than "railroad tracks"?! What a cute thing to say! Jackie has obviously inherited your way with words. And she can probably do it in 2 languages sans probleme! Your little girl is becoming a young lady in front of our very eyes. Thank you for sharing these moments with all of us and thank Jackie for letting you post her photo. Kiss Blaise and Smokey for me, if you can get them to stand still long enough. My husky/lab is loving the snow that we're having here in SW KS, but my poodle much prefers the couch :) OH! I just noticed that you have listed the French version of "Little Women"! I'm presently playing "Marmee" in a local production! And here's my post right next to Louisa May Alcott's famous novel!


Jackie looks beautiful with or without braces. Braise and Smokey-oh they just make a person smile.
My poodles prefer their dog beds inside right now. It has been freezing or near freezing for most of this week in Seattle.


I know the feeling Kristi! Two kids in braces is a killer! I always wished I had braces. Love the picture of Jackie making a heart with her fingers--the world of teenagers is really the same all over, isnt' it? My girls do the same heart pose all the time!! I guess you are headed to Phoenix soon? Have a great time!


How brave of Jackie to pose with her "train tracks." I don't think my daughter smiled in a single photo until hers were off. And I agree -- Jackie must be inheriting your gift with words. I empathisize with your 2-at-the-same-time situation. That's a deep financial hole. Just pray they don't suffer the same fate as me. A month or so after getting mine off (a million years ago) a softball tipped off the end of my glove and smashed into my mouth. So I've lived with crooked bottom teeth ever since then because with four kids my folks didn't have the money to send me back to do it all over again.

Winter is finally making its presence known in eastern Missouri. Light flurries but wind gusts that could blow my SUV off the road and send the wind chill plummeting. And my husband still insisted on riding his bike to work!

Jules Greer

Dearest Kristi,

Oh what a dummy I am, it's taken me a couple of posts to realize that you have
actually presented us with an extra blog:
"A Day in a Dog's Life" by Braise and Smokey.

Of course this is just another example of how much smarter you are than your MOM. I love that they have their own little blog.

As for the rasberry wall, that's in Kristi's
bathroom. I will never forget the last time
I visited ... when I walked in her bathroom it litterly (sp?) knocked my socks off. Jean-Marc just painted over the old beige tile. Very few of you know that Jean-Marc is a very talented artist, who put down his paint brush just before they were married. I look forward to the day he resumes this gift of his (probably when he is old like me.) As we all know his soul is tied to the earth, he has a gentle eye for the beauty which surrounds him.

Thanks Heidi for pointing out that Jackie was making a heart with her hands, I would have missed that too! It's amazing how much the comments for everyone bring out the little elements - as I have said before - the comments are as great as Kristi's stories.

And finally, I am so blessed to have such a beautiful grandaughter - Kristi you should post that darling photo of Jackie when she was just about three sitting on a step one vacation long ago. Yes, they are growing up right before our eyes. What a great life Max and Jackie - Braise and Smokey have.

It's a cool 78 degrees with big fluffy clouds here in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico today.




I associate braces with wealth. My niece in Ottawa paid $5000 herself (by working at Canadian Tire) for her braces 15-20 years ago, and she says they were worth every cent. It's good to see those dogs running around, Kristin.

Candy Witt

Just a short comment on the endearment "chou". I was told that it comes from the term "choux" which is the word used for a cream puff and not from the word for cabbage. I wonder which one is correct. Kristin, maybe Jean-Marc can verify this one for us. But we Americans do use the endearment of "pumpkin" don't we? :) (That's not so much different from cabbage!) I'm a sucker for idioms - they're so much fun.


Oh Kristin, I have worn all kinds of stuff, braces, retainers, well, luckily no head gear. Your beautiful daughter will love you for doing this later. Smokey and Braise are delightful.

It is cool here in Pasadena ,CA!!! 40s! Rain is expected tomorrow.

xx Happy Holidays


Julie: I can't get over your "straightened teeth knocked out by a softball" story! Life can be so unfair (or, as Jackie might say UN (chemin de) FER!

Roseann and Candy: good question about "chou". Anyone have an answer?

Mom: Glad you found Braise & Smokey's blog. They are getting ready to dish (or give out the scoop...). Candy, speaking of idioms, I'm confusing them now...


When my son was in middle/high school, he always had "the hots" for girls with braces. Why? He said that if they were already cute with semi crooked teeth, then they'd be SUPER cute when the braces came off. When I see a kid with braces, I know that he/she comes from a prosperous and loving family! Partly cloudy and 58F in Encinitas, California.

Jacqui McCargar

My son Glen had an "appliance" when he was Jackie's age that was not permanant and it supposedly made your mouth change shape a bit at a time to accommodate growth so the teeth would move into their correct spaces naturally. Bien sur, this only works if you wear it!! He dumped his in the garbage at school, he says not on purpose but I may disagree. The downside was $1200. down the drain (in 1992) and he still has a crooked smile!
Your picture above says "Joyeaux Noel" only backwards on the glass portion of the window! Joyeaux Noel to all

It's sunny and very cold here in Santa Rosa, Ca 20 degrees right now!

Fred Caswell

Jackie, tes bogues sont tes ponts a plus de beaute. Aujourd'hui tu est sage et quand tu est une parente tu comprendras que tes parentes sont increables, plus que tu peux savoir maintenant. En englais, you and your brother are living proof of your mom's and dad's extraodinary love, wisdom, endurance, abilities, and devotion to their family and individual passions.


Jackie, take it from an old lady in California. I love my retainer. Yep. I got braces at my advanced age because I had a bottom tooth that had escaped. And I would soon look like the Wicked Witch of the West if I didn't do something. I did. And I wear my retainer every night and love it. Alors courage... and just laugh at life. You will have your teeth long after those around you report horrific tales of dentist trials. You can get your wires in all sorts of colors and just have fun with it!!.

Michelle C.

Jackie is such a beautiful young lady...even with her braces. She definitely looks like you, Kristi. Has she had her hair lightened? I thought I remember her in previous pics with darker hair. Aside from the "train track" looks, the worse thing about braces is the foods that you can no longer eat (or at least are not supposed to eat) Corn on the cob, gum and any other sticky candies will be a no-no. I think that bothered my son more than the new reflection he saw in the mirror.
It is rainy and cold here in Rhode Island. We had a few inches of snow this morning but the rain has turned it to slush.


Jules is way too nice with me and I need to rectify. I have NO talent at painting but would love to learn sometimes with my dearest very talented Mom.


The real advantage of braces is the avoidance of real pain and dislocation of teeth and serious maxillary problems when you get older. The avoidance of TMJ conditions is worth every penny spent on braces. This is more than just having a nice smile. It's a more like fixing a crooked bone very gradually by adjusting the bone within the surrounding tissue. It's a good idea.


my granddaughter, 11, just got braces, top teeth $5,000

Jules Greer

Just checking in - again - to see what's happening here at my favorite hang-out "Cafe Comments". I am remembering that
Kristi wrote a post a year or two ago about
Jackie feelings about being a BLOND when all
of her peers had dark hair in school. While
I was visiting I remember Jackie working her Dad - "If I could just have a little bottle of color to fix my hair a beautiful brown." We all know how persuavive (?) a beautiful young child can be, so you now know the answer to why Jackie's hair was brown and now is back to natural blond again. I had to bite my tongue throughout that phase as I used to put lemon on Kristi and Heidi's hair and set them out in the sun
(hot Arizona sun) because I love blonds. When I first saw today's photo of Jackie I was thrilled to see her natural color again.

I (like all Moms who have "braced" their children for their future, remember the pain and frustration that comes along with this particular voyage with their children.
Kristi had to have 13 teeth pulled - broke my heart thinking of the pain, yet she sailed through like a champ. Heidi her older sister has a mega-watt-million dollar smile, maybe one day she will allow Kristi to show off her beautiful sister.

Patience - what a cool idea - braces in color, I had no idea...

Fred Darling - I've missed you here, don't let us go so long between your precious comments.

And last but not least, aren't I the luckest Mother-in-Law in the world. Next year when you visit Puerto Vallarta we will paint on the beach together...



Pamela Waterman

I just found this wonderful slice-of-life en Francais blog through tracking braces blogs - such fun! Our three teenage girls (now 21, 18 and 16) all had braces at some stage at the same time ($$$) but the results are beautiful. Yes, the colored elastics made things better - they would choose burgundy and gold for going to a Harry Potter movie (Gryffindor), red and white for Valentine's Day, and such. When theirs were all done, I went in for my own, at age 52. Wouldn't you know, I was allergic to the latex in the colored elastics and "paid" for wanting pink and purple by having puffy cheeks for several days. Alas, I was destined for the plain clear vinyl ones, but they worked just as well. How lovely that you will be in Phoenix in a few weeks - are you having a book signing at Vincent's? Sorry, I haven't found the post for this yet.

Kristine, dallas

Oh what joie de vivre I receive every time I log on to FWD! Not only are the stories wonderful, the pictures amazing but the comments are so fun! My favorite comments are always Mom's AKA Jules AKA XOXO! :) And Jules you are NO dummy!

Please tell Jackie she should be glad she is getting braces now, as a young lady, as opposed to when I got them, which was my senior year in COLLEGE! Yup, I was 21 when I got braces (many moons ago) all because I started having popping in my jaw and headaches from eating. TMJ was the culprit and thankfully a straightened out jaw via braces resolved it.

I went on dates with braces on, I graduated with them on, and I went to job interviews with them on (was even told by a prospective employer that I should remove my rubber bands before an interview as it wasn't a professional look) needless to say if the job had been offered I would not have taken it!!

It was all worth it as I now have beautiful teeth, a permanent retainer on my lower front teeth that thankfully keeps everything aligned and a killer smile! :)

P.S. The high at noon was 30F! Winter is here!


Jackie looks adorable, even with braces! Love all your photos!

(Los Angeles is having a cold snap) Lorrie :)


Hi Kristen,

I love your December photos, but I especially love the Dec. 4th photo. Did you take it? Is there a way to get large prints?

Jackie is just beautiful - braces and all!

Jules Greer

Hi Pamela,

You are like a little angel that just dropped into our "Cafe Comments" - I just spent a few minutes at your website and blog, WOW!, I even hit the translate button to make sure Jackie would be able to read your blog (she is not proficient in English) and would never have been patient enough to read in English. You have wonderful information - what a great blog to
help Jackie along with questions she may not
have even thought to ask. I see you are based in Arizona, so I am hoping you will visit Kristi at Vincent's on the 26th.

Kristi - you need to buy Pamela's book!!!

Christine - you little DOLL! You always make me feel so special...




I know as I am typing this (4:07 p.m. in Mexico) that my sweet little Kristi is fast asleep dreaming up new posts for all of us.
The first thing she does each morning is rev up that computer and go straight to the comment box...she's as addicted as I am.

Miss Emily

Un petit piece de conseils, if les dents d'enfants hurt now or after having their teeth "cranked"--my word for when I had new wires put in--try tylenol (Acetaminophen), perhaps even extra strength. I did not find anything that eased the pain as well as this did. I used to take it before heading to the orthodontist.

Vos enfants ont de la chance! My parents could not afford les bagues, so I got them at age 22!

Jules, just love reading your comments!

Bon courage a tous!

Robert Haine

"Les bagues" remind me of the 1980 film "La Boum", which marked the debut of a young French actress named Sophie Marceau. I used to show it to my French I students, despite a handful of scenes perhaps a bit risqué. At the famous "boum", or party, two braced-up teenagers attempt to kiss each other on the dance floor, and the inevitable happens--they get hilariously stuck to each other, then finally separated, with the young man hopelessly attached to his partner's retainer! By the way, TV5MONDE will be showing the film December 17, as well as the sequel "La Boum 2" on December 24.

I got to wear braces for two years, from 6th to 8th grade, and couldn't wait until the braces were finally off so that I could do something I hadn't done for awhile--bite into an apple! (The orthodontist didn't want his patients biting with their front teeth, so my mother would cut my sandwiches into little bites that I could pop into the back of my mouth.)

a cool 47F in southern California in the foothills of the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains


Dear Jackie, DO are always lovely, and the braces will be worth it! You should have seen the kind of braces I had to wear. There was a belt of metal around each tooth..much more metal and much more obvious than these new ones, which are nearly invisible. It is 50 degrees at 8 PM in Phoenix..we had a big storm move through on Monday..with much snow in the mountains..Flagstaff had 20 inches! Phoenix was happy to receive real rain! It was 60 mid day, so still a nice day. We look forward to seeing your parents here..are you coming along too? Hope so!

Madame Tut

I love A Day in a Dog's Life! More Braise and Smokey pictures, please....

Jennifer in OR

The dogs playing ball in the field is an awesome sight. What are the mountains in the background?


Mon Dieu, I woke up this morning and began reading my email backwards, found Madame Tut's comment, came here to tell her how AWESOME (sorry for the valley girl talk) her blog is ( then discovered all of these exciting "words" of you-alls (sorry for the hick talk).

I am tickled to see Jules and Jean-Marc talking to each other in here--this, while I was sound asleep. They are fans of each other(s)(?). For the record, they are fans of one another both inside and outside of this blog. And they are very big fans of "you alls" too.

Merci for starting off our day with a great smile.

Robert: thanks for the film info

Pamela: I'll check out your book/site now; just the info we need.

Travel Dude: thanks for pointing out the reasons why braces are vital! I think my daughter would agree, whole-heartedly.

Fred: merci beaucoup!


P.S.: Sharon, I took the photo of those vines, which are located at the country intersection (just up the street). RE getting large prints, I need to work on this in the New Year...

Miss Emily: thanks for the Tylenol tip!


Kristin: The two new books by you that I ordered arrived yesterday. This was very quick service. They are beautiful! I certainly recommend them and I could not be more proud of them if they had been published by one of my children. Your can-do attitude is so refreshing.


My 11 year old was supposed to get "les bagues" today, but instead she is home with "la grippe". She'll be getting both tops and bottoms next week (clear ceramique on top). I hope she looks as cute as Jackie!


My 15 year-old just got her braces off a few months ago,( 2yrs. to the hour, she pointed out). I wanted her to have them because you notice a smile first, and it gaives a person confidence (and good health). I was so grateful to my parents for mine. She complained about the palate expander that first widened her top palate, and the pain of wire-tightening each month. I almost killed her when she broke her NINTH bracket in so many visits, since her orthodontist said the next one would cost $50 to replace. Apparently, her mint and gum habit were hard to give up, until this point. Fortunately, she shaped up after that. But when shen she see old pictures of herself before the braces, she is very glad she endured, and we insisted. She says she has received a number of compliments on her beautiful smile. Now her 10 yr.old brother has had 6 teeth pulled and the palate expander, and is awaiting a few teeth to grow in so he can get his braces on. His teeth are like mine- much worse. I am grateful we can do this for our children, and I know they appreciate it. I just hope the other 2 won't need them , but the odds are not good. Bon courage et bonne chance to all of you!! C'est vraiment (worth) la peine!!

Betty Bailey

Your daughter is lovely and she will be so grateful to you in coming years for helping her to have beautiful teeth.

I am curious to know if le système de santé will reimburse you for this expense.

Vintage Rings

Nice pictures! One of the dogs which play with the ball very similar to my dog:) Very nice, positive blog. I hope your daughter will have very beautiful teeth after pulling out the brackets. I wish you good luck!

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