Oreiller (Or how to say "pillow" in French) + My Mother-in-Law teases me about my husband's past love life
Monday, July 16, 2012
I couldn't find a picture to illustrate today's word (oreiller) so how about a snapshot of a favorite summertime libation? Also a great way to recycle these Domaine Rouge-Bleu wine bottles!
oreiller (oh-ray-yay) noun, masculine
prendre conseil de son oreiller = to sleep on it (re decision making)
une taie d'oreiller = pillowcase
une bataille d'oreillers = pillow fight
les confidences (f) sur l'oreiller = pillow talk
Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read this sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file
Ma belle-mère m'a offert son propre oreiller. My mother-in-law offered me her very own pillow.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
At a beachfront café in Marseilles, Jean-Marc is buttering his mom's toast. "Honey or the confiture d'abricot?" he asks.
"T'es gentil," my mother-in-law thanks her elder son. "Abricot, s'il te plaît."
Taking a sip of her tea, Michèle-France turns her attention my way.
"Tu es toujours si jolie," my belle-mère begins. Instantly uplifted by her words, I send a grateful smile across the table. It's a good thing I took the time to have my hair done. That seems to have made a difference!
"I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on you," my mother-in-law continues. My thoughts race back in time. Guiltily I wonder, Did I remember the exact moment too? Little by little, I begin to see the Espinasse family's apartment, in the Roy d'Espagne neighborhood, near the end of Marseilles. I don't remember the pine forest or the sea. I do remember the shining white tiles in the hall entry. I remember that it was just Jean-Marc, his brother, and his mother who lived there in the three-bedroom apartment. I don't recall which floor of the high-rise they lived on—or even taking the ascenseur—though we would have had to.
I do remember the kitchen, where Jean-Marc's mother prepared an exotic-to-this-American dinner (or was it lunch?): lapin à la moutarde. I remember sharing the meal with Jean-Marc's friends, Rachel and Stephan. I do not remember Michèle-France eating with us. Did she discreetly withdraw to her room, to leave us young amours to dine?
As I reminisce, Michèle-France fills me in on where it was, exactly, that we met the first time she laid eyes on me:
"I met you in the hallway, after you shuffled out of my son's bedroom!"
I vaguely remember the awkward situation. Had I been leaving Jean-Marc's bedroom? Behind me, the disheveled sheets would have covered the mattress. You could just see the desk, where Jean-Marc had been showing me his new Macintosh—when we lost interest in computers. I could also see the hook on the wall, where a green robe hung; it was a gift from Jean-Marc's sister. Was I wearing that robe when I met Michèle-France in the hall?!
I must have needed the bathroom. I could almost hear Jean-Marc assuring me no one was around—just go on down the hall. The restroom was at the end of it....
That is when I must have come face to face with Maman. My fears were now materialized and I could not have been more embarrassed. Jean-Marc must have come out of the room, in time to make the introductions.
Any discomfort quickly disappeared when Jean-Marc's mother smiled an unmistakably warm welcome. As long as I live I will never forget her words: "You can stay as long as you like. You are most welcome here with us. Bienvenue!"
I could not take her up on her generous offer at the time, as I would need to return to Tempe, Arizona, to finish another year and a half of school.
Taking a sip of my café au lait, it is 20 years later now, and I do not seem to have overstayed my welcome. My mother-in-law's eyes continue to glimmer bienvenue!
Michèle-France sets down her tea, and looks at me softly. Next she shares with me, for the first time, what her thoughts were that first time we met.
"I remember thinking: this girl will make my son happy one day!"
I return my mother-in-law's gaze. Her words echoed in my mind as I try to etch them there, on a gray-mattered blackboard.
"Oui, je savais que c'était toi qui le rendrait heureux!"
Lest the lovey-dovey mother-in-law-daughter-in-law moment were too gushy sweet, my belle-mère adds a little spice to the moment. I recognize the beginnings of a rascal's smile as it spreads across my belle-mère's face... evidence her mischievous side is waking up.
"Yes, you were une bouffée d'air frais—a breath of fresh air," she winks, "especially after some of the girls he brought home!"
Recognizing the direction in which we are heading, I raise my hands, quickly inserting my fingers into my ears. "I can't hear you! I can't hear you!" I laugh. Next I begin to hum.
When I take my fingers out of my ears, my mother-in-law is in the middle of reciting a string of sultry names, "Ma..." (MArilyn? MArie? MAnon?) but I will not listen to a word of it—just as I won't listen when Jean-Marc's longtime friends tease me about les anciennes copines.
Jean-Marc laughs as his mom continues her innocent taquinerie, and when next it seemed safe to unplug my ears I hear this doozy:
"Ah, and that one! What-Was-Her-Name? Je l'ai jetée de mon lit! I threw her out of my very own bed!"
I can't help but appreciate the colorful scenes my mother-in-law paints with her words, and I finally give in, picturing Jean-Marc's mom yanking some young tart out of her very own bed (sheesh, Jean-Marc—your mom's own bed!).
On a final, tender note, Michèle-France colors in a bright ending to the story:
"But for you," my mother-in-law says as she reaches across the café table and squeezes my hand, "for you, I would have offered my very own pillow!"
Comments: to respond to this story, or to any item in today's post, click here.
To see that wedding picture again, click here!
Don't miss this tender story about my mother-in-law (with a picture, too!)
la confiture d'abricot = apricot jam
t'es gentil = you're nice
Tu es toujours si jolie = you are still so pretty
la belle-mère = mother-in-law
un ascenseur = elevator
le lapin à la moutarde = rabbit with mustard sauce
bienvenue = welcome
le café au lait = coffee with milk
Oui, je savais que c'était toi qui le rendrait heureux! = Yes, I knew it was you who would make my son happy!
une bouffée d'air frais = a breath of fresh air
l'ancienne copine = old girlfriend
la taquinerie = teasing
Click for a larger image. In love in January 1993... only six months before Jean-Marc would buy me a one-way ticket home! Find out what happened after that, in the intro to the book Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language (the snap shot image includes Jean-Marc writing "la cloche ) fromages"--which is the cheese restaurant where we ate that night. The restaurant places the cheese in a circle on the plate, with a glass of wine at each quarter on the "clock". As you can see, we finished most of the wine and were feeling both giddy (I) and enchanted (him). Well that didn't last long! Don't miss the story.
Then and Now (2012). Photo taken on Jean-Marc's 45th birthday, last March 29th.
Listening skills & learning French:
I could really relate to this question of Rob's, as I, too, struggle with listening to French.
I was wondering if anyone has recommendations for a way for me to build my French listening skills? I am improving in being able to decipher written French, but spoken just moves too fast for me. I'd like something I could listen to that would slowly build my skills. --Rob, in Illinois
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
Perfect story and perfect photos, thank you for sharing!
Posted by: Vayia | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Loved this story... what wonderful memories to have! There is a lot of love in your family!
Posted by: Patricia | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Cute picture of you and J-M in 1993, what sweet memories.
Posted by: Bill in St. Paul | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 01:33 PM
WHAT a darling story--and what a great mother-in-law too! Thanks for bringing a big smile to my day.
Rob--try Yabla. Fun and you can slow down the speech. Or French radio, on the internet. And I assume you've found your local Alliance Francaise chapter? They're the best!
Posted by: Lynn at Southern Fried French | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I loved both the pictures, then and now, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet you both in May.
For Rob, I'm not sure what level learner you are, but there are lots of listening opportunities on the Internet with dialogues (Laura Lawless, etc). Another thing is to rent French movies and listen to them, with or without the subtitles. If you can get up the French subtitles, even better. Also you might be able to get TV5 on your cable or satellite dish. Better yet, go to France!
Posted by: Carole | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Again another heart-warming beautiful story. Your family (both French & American) is wonderful. And you, Kristin, are indeed blessed.
Posted by: Tom B, Jersey City NJ | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Mothers-in law get such a bad rap. Glad to hear a story about one who obviously loves you. My own mother-in-law was always kind and supportive of me. Thanks for your story as it reminded me of my dear mother-in-law.
Posted by: Geraldine Ventura | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 02:00 PM
And did you like that le lapin à la moutarde? Je suis curieux! I love the pictures of you now and then, Kristie. You are as beautiful today as you were then, and the look on Jean-Marc's face in the early picture shows that he thought so, too. He knew then he was a lucky man. Anyway, thanks so much for a look into your past. I do love your stories!
Posted by: Alyssa | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Did you see any of le tour when it passed through your area Saturday?
Posted by: Henry. | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Rob: Try Fluent French Audio, a subscription audio magazine on two CDs, one slowed down and the other at normal speed. If normal speed isn't understandable, you can start out with the slowed-down version and progress to normal speed. The site is http://www.fluentfrench.com/
Try searching on "French audio magazine" for others.
Posted by: Passante | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 02:12 PM
What a heartwarming story! Lucky you! By the way, I believe it's une taie d'oreiller not une taille.
Posted by: Clare Jones | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 02:13 PM
If you have an iPod or an iPhone, there are tons of language learning apps, many of them free. Coffee Break French is a good series that has a series of short 12-15 minute listening exercises. Or try Internet radio stations in French--
Posted by: Elena | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Love the story, love the pictures! My mother-in-law called me "Kim" (the ex-fiance) for at least a year when I first starting dating her son! C'est la vie!
She truly is a "belle" mere...love her dearly!
Posted by: Amber Hopwood | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Such a wonderful love story. Love between the women in a son's/husband's life. You give me hope. xoxo Mary
Posted by: mary | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 03:04 PM
OH KRISTI - SUCH A BEAUTIFUL MEMORY OF OUR PRECIOUS MICHAEL-FRANCE. Whenever I see Jean-Marc's mom, we both share our praises to each other for the gift of our children for each other. I honestly don't think I have ever witnessed a such a committed mother-in-law.
I wish someday I could put into words the love and bond my first mother-in-law 'Melba' and I shared. I remember when Heidi my first-born daughter was married back in approx. 1988....oop's, I better not write our exchange here and now, but what a story this exchange would make. I truly think of Melba every single day with a longing for our loving bond no one really knows about.
Mother-in-laws have the power to be one of the most significant encounters in a woman's life. I always stress to Kristi to remember what Michael-France and Melba have taught us when MAX brings home the ONE who will take up the task of bringing their son to his full potential.
I have always adored that first photo of Kristi and Jean-Marc - Kristi carried that same impish smile to the altar of her wedding photo's = I love that photo of the two of them just as much. Yes, here in Mexico I spend a lot of moments gazing at K & JM'S old photo's...I miss them so much.
Posted by: JULES GREER - PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I also find that the effort of trying to keep up with spoken French a little dispiriting. What I try to do is congratulate myself if I make out just one complete phrase. From that one can often make out the gist of the meaning and second guess the rest. Often the guess is right - if not just ask to hear it again "plus lentement". Bit by bit we may find ourselves able to cope with whole sentences - even speeches! It will begin to grow without our noticing!
Posted by: Sue Lamarque | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 03:13 PM
You don't look a day older, Kristin. What a wonderful story and wonderful memory to hold.
Rob, I recommend an Alliance Francaise if you're in a city big enough to offer one. At my AF we have afternoon "casse croute" classes for conversation. I don't speak much other than answering questions when asked, but our leader just starts the conversation about French culture and it gets my ear very used to hearing the language. This spring we listened to a lot of pop music (Edith Piaf to Johnny H.) and learned a lot of idioms and French cultural history.
Other than that, I'd say try Yabla because you can slow down enough to understand but not enough to distort the speaker.
Posted by: Julie F in St. Louis, MO | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Mothers-in-law wield such power! My three sons have brought home their ladies without hesitation, for which I have paid dearly. I've fallen in love with almost every single one of them. I'll admit there have been a few "what's-her-names". Alas, my sons' losses have, indeed, been mine. While they don't read your delightful blog, Kristin, I hope they know how much I look forward to the opportunity to be that Michèle-France.
Chris at penattheready.com
Posted by: Christine Webb-Curtis | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Reading your story today I clicked on the Rachel link that mentioned passing Fos-sur-Mer. Well, my husband built that oil refinery in 1963/4 and that is where I met him (my now husband, also an American) when I (an american) applied for a job to work there during the construction (I did, for 2 years) We have been married 40+ years now!!
Posted by: Jean Lillibridge | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Kristin, thank you once again for a lovely story - and the photographs were amazing!
Rob, you may want to try listening to a French radio station whenever you are on the computer. My favorite is Radio Nostalgie, that way I get the best of both worlds, French music and conversation.
Posted by: AlpillesGal | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I don't know how helpful this is but I have a free app called France Inter on my iPod Touch. It delivers French radio shows and podcasts. If you listen to the little news clips, there is also text (not word for word but very close) so you can follow along or brief yourself before you listen. I have a lot of trouble w/ comprehending languages, having a (lazy & spoiled!) American ear, but France Inter comes through clear as a bell every time. The good sound quality makes a HUGE difference for me. I may not understand everything but I can definitely single out many of the words spoken and find that I understand more and more bits and pieces as I go along. It takes time I guess but sound quality makes a remarkable difference for me.
Posted by: Nan | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Simply lovely, this vignette. The photo of you two in '93 is priceless. Who wouldn't have fallen in love with either of you?! And indeed you are just as pretty now...your belle mere is - and was - spot on. All of you are fortunate to have found each other. L'chaim! (Could not find that in my Larousse.) Thank you for sharing and adding wit, whimsy, and, often, wisdom to our days. And so the adventure continues...
Posted by: Susan in Sonoma Valley | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Rob - You might try the language features on Radio French International; go to http://www.rfi.fr and click on Langue Francaise. Le journal en francais facile offers a pretty accurate transcript of everything recorded in the studio (but omits contributions by correspondents). Check out the listening exercises, too! Mary
Posted by: Mary Rack | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Watch Maigret on International Mysteries and replay what you didn't understand over and over.
Posted by: Dr. Cyrus Thomas | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Ah, that was a lovely story... you had me choked up at the end.
Posted by: Linda in Port Townsend WA | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 05:54 PM
A lovely story. Your belle-mere is a wise woman.
Posted by: Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 06:34 PM
What an endearing and induring love story! It has all the sweetness of young love and the tenderness of having loved each other for these many years! I, too, had a wonderful mother-in-law and it just added to the love and warmth of our whole family.
I love the pictures - I think I might go dig out some of my own! We have a bunch, having now been married for 44 years! Seems like yesterday! :-)
Posted by: Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Posted by: Sue J. | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 06:47 PM
rob-i subscribe to news in slow french and really like it. i think the basic subscription would be adequate. also, i bought the text and workbook to the french in action series about mireille, robert, and marie-laure, and there are 52 videos, free, that go with it. i LOVE it, but the dialogues can be hard to understand. i'm going to alliance francaise in paris for two weeks soon!!
Posted by: barbara lynch | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Another post that vividly paints a scene of French life with a few simple strokes, and also reveals the quiet goodness of its writer.
Kristin, you are beautiful inside and out. You are truly a humble and generous soul and your wonderful writing reflects that in every post. It is a God-given gift in every sense of the word.
Posted by: Teresa | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 07:55 PM
This is for Rob in Illinois; Chanps-Elysees is the best listening tool IMHO. It used to be a monthly CD with a transcript, but it looks as though it has been taken over by The Plan 9 Group as a web app. I don't have any experience with that, but if it is anywhere close to being as good as the CD, it will really augment your understanding of spoken French.
Posted by: David A. Alexander | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 08:43 PM
What a charming story! An awkward moment turned into something special!
Posted by: Christine | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Posted by: Lynda Laun | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Rosetta Stone is perfect for enhancing listening skills. The program is expensive but is frequently on sale. Another way is to rent French movies.
Posted by: Hilary Lange | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Delightful story and picture. You look so innocent and JM not at all! Only the French would be non-plused by meeting her son's girlfriend for the first time coming out of his bedroom. No wonder you have such a sweet relationship.
Posted by: joie in carmel,ca | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 09:24 PM
For the question about improving listening to French: I watched French tv (in Brittany for 4 months) with closed captioning IN FRENCH. So I could see what I had just heard... or half-heard. It help me immediately, and improvement was noticable (after being stuck and frustrated).
HERE IN THE US, the trick is to get movies in French with French subtitles. Not easy to find. I keep hoping to get some from Francophone Canada, but so far haven't figured out how. (WRITE ME in this space if you can solve this!)
BEST LUCK / Bonne chance
D.O. in Portland Ore.
Posted by: David Oates | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 09:33 PM
This story reveals how natural it appears that intimacy is treated in French culture! It also reminds me that I love the French word for mother-in-law: "belle-mere"; how appropriate in your case, Kristin!
Grammatical correction: I believe that pillow case is "taie d'oreiller" (f.)
Posted by: Andrea Hughes | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I was gifted a smile from the photo at the top of this post (I set out sun tea this morning with tea from France :) to the bottom photo and all points in-between. Thank you for sharing this sweet story and loved the inclusion of the photo from 1993!
Posted by: Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon | Monday, July 16, 2012 at 11:52 PM
What a wonderful story. I agree you do not look any different that back in '93.
I am very blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law.
Posted by: Karen from Phoenix | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 12:18 AM
I agree you have not aged at all.
What a wonderfully sweet story. I too have a wonderful mother-in-law.
Love sent your way.
Posted by: Karen from Phoenix | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Here's a couple of tips that I found helpful in learning to "hear" French. First, try the website imtranslator.net/translate-and-speak You can plug in long passages of French text and have it spoken back to you at various speeds. This was tremendously helpful in my last two semesters studying French in college. Also, listen to French music. One CD that I love and is easy to follow is Paris which is a compilation of various French chanson a classic genre with modern twists by different artists. You can find the lyrics to these songs on lyricsmania.com and then translate them to English if you wish. I hope this helps and joyful listening to you! Bonne chance! Robin
Posted by: Robin Everett | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Sorry, that was: imtranslator.net/translate-and-speak/
Posted by: Robin Everett | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Hi dear Kristin,
This story is absolutely wonderful and just wrapped itself around my heart.
You were such a beautiful bride (and are,toujours!)
No wonder your belle mere loved and accepted you! What a special gift for you both!
Today you gave the pleasure of again remembering my own dear belle mere. What a privilege to have had her in my life,and I miss her still.
Love, Natalia XO
Posted by: Natalia | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Thank God for bathrobes :-) ... AND wonderful Mothers!
Posted by: Bill Facker | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Try http://www.nostalgie.fr/ and click on "Nostalgie poetes" (one of 19 choices!)for songs by Georges Brassens, Charles Aznavour, and Serge Gainsbourg. Use Google to find the lyrics and follow along. These men sing slowly enough to be understandable. Not the latest pop, but that tends to be hard to understand even when it's your native language!
Posted by: Mara in Wisconsin | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 04:40 AM
I love the story and the pictures-you are both so adorable.
Posted by: Susan Carter (Westminster, CA) | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 07:48 AM
To Rob: I recommend Anenberg Media's "French in Action". You can watch the videos here: http://www.learner.org/resources/series83.html
Each video is a short vignette completely in French, so you can figure out what is going on even if you don't understand every word. Then the narrator/author comes on and explains everything you just saw and heard, all in French. I have found these videos very helpful and entertaining!
Posted by: Mollie | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 09:44 AM
Memories to cherish, store and share forever!!!!
Thankyou for letting us into this beautiful part of your life.
I am wishing you and your husband all the best, for the 'meetingeach other' and the actual Anniv' to come!!!
Posted by: Rina Rao. | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 10:24 AM
"...qui le rendrait heureux." You translated it in the conditional tense, "who would make him happy." I seem always to be nit-picking about tenses with you, but I adore you and your column. You are so beautiful and, oui, vous n'avez pas changé depuis 20 ans!
Posted by: Marjorie Wilde | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 03:54 PM
YOU ARE ONE LUCKY GUY - look at all of the new friends you have made here in FWAD. I am busy checking out all of the great information that has been generously given to you.
Tell me a little about yourself...
JULES - Kristi's mom in Mexico
Posted by: JULES GREER - PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Just lovely, Kristin. So enjoyable to read about then and now.
And that beachfront café sounds absolutely perfect right about now. Thanks for sharing.
Posted by: Julia | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Rob- Yabla French on line is great, if you have Sirius radio you can listen to Radio Canada. French films are another great way of increasing comprehension. iTunes also has a huge number of French artists from Piaf to Florent Pagny and rappers like Abd Al Malik to download. Télé 5 monde can be suscribed to to with many cable companies. Fluent French Audio ,if it is still around, has interviews with French people in a variety of situations with repition exercises that are slowed down. Good luck! Bon courage!
Posted by: Ally | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I too am trying to improve my listening skills and have the same problem as you-they speak too fast and like we do in English, slur our comments such as ah duh no (I don't know). I watch lots of french movies and I still can't understand but a few words. I need to find my level. I understand that if one were to go to a french-only speaking area of France for three months, one would pick up much more of the language as spoken every day. I can't find any french speaking colonies in Illinois (I am from Evergreen Park Il) and have tried without success to find some groups like that on the south side of Chicago. I have some ideas but I would like more info from anyone who, like your request, can help us learn spoken French.
Posted by: Ron Axium | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 06:09 PM
For Rob, there is a Canadian learning program available called French In Action. It is like watching a weekly story or soap opera, but there is a book with it and it starts out basic, but moves quickly to more complex and it is all in French. It is really good. Also, there is a tutoring program that is inexpensive called MyPLT.com I speak with a French tutor for one hour a week. It's great.
Posted by: Annie | Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Wow, thanks to everyone for the great ideas on how to pick up spoken French. I will start pursuing some of them.
To Jules: I am 47 have been married for 26.5 years, have six children ages 24 (and married), 22, 19,16,11 and 6, with the 22 and 6 year old being girls. I took French in high school and pretty much failed my second year. I have learned more from the free version of Coffee Break French in the last few months than I remember being taught in two years (but that just may be an indication of how bad a learner I was).
My wife and I went to Paris for eight days in November 2009 (which started me back trying to learn French), and then we took the four youngest to Europe last year for six weeks, about two of which we spent in France (Paris, Normandy, Mount St. Michele, Bayeux, Carcasson, Chamonix, Brignoles and here and there in between). We all just fell in love with the French food and people. I was so frustrated when two older ladies asked me about how we liked our car (Renault Espace) when we were in Chamonix and that I could not carry on what I am sure would have been a lovely conversation. This led me to come home and step up my studies. I have been grateful to find FWAD. I really enjoy both the writing and the pictures (since photography is also a hobby) and jump in with an occasional comment.
We were in Mexico (Valladolid and surrounding areas and Akumal) in the summer of 2009 and loved Mexico as well. My 24 year old is fluent in Spanish, so he was able to help in our interactions with the locals when we were there. My 19 year old is now fluent as well. He has been in Chile doing missionary work since January.
I love the way you and Kristin interact in this public space. Someday, maybe we will have the pleasure of meeting.
Posted by: Rob, Illinois, USA | Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Thanks, Rob (and thanks, Mom!) -- enjoyed learning more about you and your motivation for improving your French. Mom often tells me that she wishes she spoke Spanish--so she could better enjoy all the lovely people that cross her path in Mexico!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Thanks, Marjorie, thanks for the helpful correction -- and for the very kind words.
And thanks to everyone for these wonderful French learning suggestions! (sorry if this is a repeat comment, I began this particular note yesterday then got distracted...)
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Rob, I recommend the smartfrench products. Check out www.smartfrench.com. These CDs and downloads specifically concentrate on developing skill in listening and speaking French, pointing out the great differences between written and spoken French (especially what is NOT pronounced). You can work at beginning to intermediate to advanced levels.
Posted by: Keith McDuffie | Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Hi Kristin, I think we should say=je savais bien que toi tu LE rendrais heureux instead of lui rendre!
I dare intervene to please my friend Yvonne!
your mother-in-law is right,you were and are still beautiful and sweet (on your face)!
Posted by: TRAN | Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 03:29 AM
sorry = qui le rendraiS heureux with an S at the end of rendrais(tu le rendrais heureux deuxieme personne du singulier)
Posted by: TRAN | Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Thanks, Tran! Re the correction, are you sure it is the -ais ending? Two people wrote in to suggest the -ait ending:
Je savais que cétait toi qui le rendrAIT heureux
Je savais que cétait toi qui le rendrAIS heureux!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Tiens, c'est par hasard que je vois le commentaire de Tran. Tran, c'est ma copine. Elle voulait se perfectionner en Anglais et je lui ai suggéré de te lire.
Et oui, elle a raison, c'était toi qui le rendraIS... AIS, deuxième personne du singulier, au temps conditionnel.
Posted by: Millie | Friday, July 20, 2012 at 08:22 PM
En voyant le commentaire de ma copine Tran, j'ai oublié de te dire que tu restes toujours belle, comme avant. Vous êtes un beau couple, Jean-Marc et toi.
Posted by: Millie | Friday, July 20, 2012 at 08:27 PM
You are a beautiful woman then and now, and your husband is handsome as well. I am trying to catch up on three months' worth of French Life and have started with the latest. Wish me luck; I think that I have learned a lesson!
Lynne Boca Raton, FL
Posted by: Lynne | Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Sweet story and photos! You all still look cute together. Thanks for sharing!
Posted by: Eileen - Charlottesville, VA | Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 01:47 AM
I LOVE this story. Michele-France is obviously a wonderful mother-in-law and a beautiful person. How lucky you are to be loved so much by 2 families! The photo of you and Jean Marc is such a keeper. I can't wait to meet both of you someday and enjoy some more stories under the mulberry tree!
Have a lovely day!
Posted by: Carolyn Dahm, Sharon, MA | Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Try Radio Suisse Romande on the Internet. In general the Swiss speak more slowly. Journal en français facile (Radio France Internationale) is available as a podcast. I second the other commenter's recommendation of the RFI listening comprehension exercises. There are many spectacular radio podcasts from FranceInter. I was completely in love with the presenter of "2000 Ans d'histoire" because of his beautiful, clear voice, but unfortunately he has left FranceInter (replaced by "La marche d'histoire). These history podcasts seem somewhat easier to understand than cultural programs because the context is sometimes more familiar. Also TV5 Monde now makes some content available as streaming video.
My progression was RFI Journal en français facile (with script!), to Radio Suisse Romande, to 2000 Ans d'histoire, to other FranceInter programs, over a period of several years. By the time I went to France I did pretty well with TV and conversations, as long as the person didn't have a strong accent.
Posted by: Jane | Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Maybe you could post the ideas for listening in a resource page?? There are so many good ideas!
Posted by: Jane | Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM
Hello Jane, excellent idea about sharing these ideas on a listening resource page. Thanks!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 12:05 PM
There was a request for assistance on listening skills. I found a website that may be helpful
Posted by: Hugh Mackay | Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Good heavens, You rendrais l'heureux with great writing. The truth is not too tender when we all share with you and are moved and entertained as well. What a story teller and writer you are growing to be. Also a large grocery chain here,HYVEE, has a wine purchasing agent who asked me for more information about Domaine Rouge Bleu. If you have a way for her to order your produits de Provence, Mistral and she would contact you I am sure. Please email me the contact info or put it in your website so I can 'hook Jean Marc' up with this lady. Oh you two were a handsome couple and nothing has changed. Your interesting passionate souls shines right across time. Winn
Posted by: Winn | Saturday, March 09, 2013 at 08:01 AM