Le gazon (pelouse) - lawn, grass, turf in French
une girouette - weather vane in French

amour-propre - self-esteem, self-love, self-worth, ego in French

Jacques French wooden shutters windows(c) Kristin Espinasse
"Primroses, stuffed cats, and other this's-n-that's." More than a few things are off today, including this photo which I am unable to straighten or edit - given that my computer crashed this morning. More, in today's missive. (Photo of my brother-in-law, Jacques, who has spent the past two weekends with us, helping to fix the upstairs ceilings. Click image to enlarge it.)

amour-propre (ah-more-prohpr)

    : self-esteem, self-love, self-worth; pride

blesser quelqu'un dans son amour-propre = to be a blow to one's ego

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

I am getting a kick out of the French definition for the verb vexer: être offensé dans son amour-propre or "to have one's pride offended". I don't know, French definitions always sound so dramatic to me and this is only one of the reasons I love foreign language.

But vexer, that may explain my response this morning as I stood in the kitchen in my purple pjs tucked into orange ski socks chanting positive affirmations for the beginning of the work week.  (This was after I realized I was incontinent and before I discovered my computer had crashed, and the reason for which I am typing this post on my son's keyboard. I have to crane my neck to look up to the screen, which is placed on a shelf next to a bong. A BONG?!...)

But back to my story, lest I lose the courage to work in these unusual surroundings. Back to hurt or offended pride... yes, I was standing there in the kitchen, tissues stuffed in more places than my pockets, psyching myself up for another Monday, when my son stumbled into the room.

"There is nothing to eat in this house!" Max lamented.

I begged his pardon, for there was always something to eat in this house. When was the last time he skipped a meal? Besides, I said, reaching for the bread bag, there was brioche! (I quickly peered into the bag to verify the brioche was not growing green fuzz on its back. And even if it were (which, ouf!, it wasn't) would I be the first parent in the history of the world to have plucked off a spot or two of green fuzz before thrusting the miserable bread back at her child?).

Pourquoi je ne peux pas manger le petit déjeuner comme tout le monde?" Max complained.

"So you want to follow the sheep?" I countered. "And do like everybody else does? Be numb to your own decision making? Well, a good box of GMO flakes will help you with that! And you can buy it with your own money!"

Meantime, I pointed out, there is brioche or oatmeal or yogurt or oranges or bananas for breakfast. With that, I grabbed my tea and tore out of the kitchen.

To the young man left holding the bag of brioche it must have been quite a sight, that of a pride-hurt mama stomping off in big orange ski socks over sagging purple pjs and a faux fur vest (snapped up from my daughter's giveaway pile—the extra layer almost keeps me warm). 

I am nothing if not a mix—of new and used, thoughts and things, stuffed tissues. I do the best I can. At times I make do. And sometimes, just sometimes, I wish others would too.

French Vocabulary

ouf = phew

Pourquoi je ne peux pas manger le petit déjeuner comme tout le monde? = why can't I eat (a normal) breakfast like everybody else 


game of boules (c) Kristin Espinasse
My brother-in-law and Jean-Marc taking a break from repairing the ceilings in the kids' rooms. 

    => How to properly pronounce French words? Read "Exercises in French Phonics"! 

Front porch (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Front porch". The woody branches of the almond tree (left) and the fig tree (right) are coming to life, though you cannot see the little leaf buds from this far.

Re that bong I mentioned (you were wondering, weren't you?). What I saw on Max's desk was not a bong. Find out what it was in the first few paragraphs of this story, click here to read it.

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Linda Casey

You KEEP me laughing Kristin ... you need to get on your own computer again .. I found two typos.


Hang in chérie.(Comment dit-on en français?) It WILL get better. xoxox

suzanne dunaway

"And sometimes, just sometimes, I wish others would to."
Just mentioning the typo: too for to.
Happens all the time.
As for breakfasts for kids, he's old enough to pick up whatever he wants at the store, if it is different from what mama works to buy!!!! Give HIM the job.
With a smile and some euros...

joie blair

what on earth am I doing up at 5 am? Reading something funny so I can go back to sleep. Max is just like every other 18 year old male. Still can't do without his mother. This is a good thing for maybe just a little while longer.
Looks like Jean-Marc has made a little boules court for entertainment.
May the rest of your day come together....now, back to bed for a couple more hours......


I think kids just like to make their voices heard, even though they themselves know that they are being critical or unreasonable - especially as they grow older and are starting to separate from mama. I used to hear similar cries from my kids who told me there was nothing but health food in here (in the fridge?). And, as a single mom struggling on a tight budget, this was not what I wanted to hear after paying a bit more for healthful foods. I think holding your head high and going on with your day was perfect. It could be a long while until kids "get it," however, my daughter is now a vegetarian and my sons are very aware of what constitutes a healthful diet. Keep up the good work!

Kathleen from Connecticut


It's great that you are feeding your family healthy foods. Boys will be boys and they are growing and consuming all of the food which they see and they want some of not so good for you food as well.
The weather must be warm. The window is open with Primroses(?) in the window and Jean Marc and your brother-in-law are playing Pétanque in short sleeves and even shorts.
We still have snow on the ground from Nemo, but it is slowly melting. I can't wait for spring. We "Fall Back" this coming weekend. Spring is around the corner, but which corner?
We are coming to France at the end of May, into June. We are hoping to making it down to coast, but aren't sure.

Kathleen and Dean

Priscilla Fleming Vayda

Good morning all from La Nouvelle Orleans where it is 7:34 a.m. and cold. So much for the sunny south. I want to say again how much I admire Kristin's photography. Crisp, clear and always thought provoking. You are a great story teller so keep up the good work, Kristin, in both your photography and your writing. Then there is the full-time job of being a parent and spouse! Enough is enough! And the computer crashes!


Oh, I remember those days so well! I too had a 17 yr old son and a 15 yr old daughter when I was 39 yrs old! I look back and realize I didn't do much for myself nor did my children and husband for that matter, during those precious 39 to 49 years of my life. There was saving grace for me and a way to removed myself from the feelings of not having any "amour-propre". I taught aerobic dancing twice a week and you have your writing. So hang in there, dear girl. This too will pass.


You discovered you were incontinent?

Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,

My family used to call me Old Mother Hubbard because our cupboards were always bare (according to them). There was always something to eat for sure. I have also pinched off some green mold from the baguettes. Why does bread mold so quickly? I would think, how is that moldy? I just bought that!

My son would tell me about the hookah pipes when we lived in Germany.

I like the picture of Jean-Marc and his brother. Are they playing boules?

Hope you have a great week! We are going to get hit with some snow on Wednesday!

Deb Locke

This story produced a sympathetic laugh this morning! And the imperfect, crooked window view is delightful just as it is--just like you, Kristi! (Kegels at every stoplight--will that help?)

Max Morrow

Please let the kids know that hookah smoking is not benign. A recent article here (Boston) about the popularity of it and the fact that, though kids think the cool smoke if filtered free of the bad things because of the water, that is not at all the case. A health benefit of this type of smoking is a misconception. For purposes of full disclosure, lest I sound like too much of a scold, I sneak a couple of cigarettes a day.


You are my fashion sister, altho I may look oddly put together later in the day also!!!
When I am home all day I relish the choice to look as 'as is' as I want. Sorry, Kristin, for all the 'asesses'~


I cannot believe this but I just this morning said to myself... no problem I will make do.
Then I read your post and got the biggest smile of the day! Thanks for making do from a person who DOES appreciate others who " make do" as well!

Bill in St. Paul

(Max, take a picture of your mother in her purple pjs, orange ski socks, and faux fur vest - we're all anxious to see this vision!)


Too funny Kristin! I'm another 4am insomniac, smiling at every word, chuckling behind eyes sorely needing sleep. Teenagers! So drama filled with their grande sense of self and needs. I'm now inspired for that piece of toast, to induce carbo sleep...thinking every time the bread bag comes out, my mind will be implanted with your image, reminding to check for da fuzz vert. (you in purple pjs, orange socks, in 'your fuzz' vest... Sweet! ~ :D

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks for your sympathies and corrections and for the laughs.

Margaret, I like your take on kids just wanting to hear their own voices, and that they realize, sooner or later they are being over critical.
JeanneR, yes... and Deb--that will definitely help--though there arent a lot of stoplights around here :-)

Bill in St Paul, haha, now dont give the kids ideas--or they may bribe!

Cigi and Joie, hope your catching up on those zzzzs.

Max,  I agree and have spoken to Max about this - pointing out an article that mentions what you have shared. Glad you brought it up.

Mille mercis for your responses to the story.


Chère Kristen,
Je pense que je continuerais avec vos affirmations. Aujourd’hui, mon affirmation est a propos de les verbes : ponter, avoir confiance en soi, et rendre parce que je suis le prochain course français a l’universitaire. J’ai échoué deux examens le dernier semestre. J’espère que je ferai mieux ce semestre !

A la prochaine,

Cassie Alexandrou in Dallas, TX

Your description of your morning attire made me laugh about my own strange outfit -- a ratty (but oh so comfortable) old, blue bathrobe, with a big, red University of Kansas (my daughter's alma mater) sweatshirt thrown over it, for added warmth. Of course, I put the hood up, and let's not forget those misshapen leopard slippers! Talk about a fashion felony.


Hi Kristin,
I woke up at 4:00 AM this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Wish I had gotten up and read your blog. When I did,it made me laugh, and I needed that today :-) I've found laughter is the best stress reliever.



I had to laugh! I live with 4 teenage boys and this morning woke one up at 6 a.m. this morning for orchestra, to be informed there was no orchestra (losing out on 45 minutes sleep for me!), one needed a jump start for the battery on his dilapidated car, one overslept and needed a ride to school-and this was all before 8 a.m.! And they are ALWAYS hungry and ALWAYS saying we have nothing to eat-and no, they have never gone without a meal! So, I can relate and just have to start every day with a clean slate and enjoy the fun, because they won't be in the house too much longer! Have a great week!

Joanne Ablan

Qu'est-ce que c'est l'idée de Max d'un petit déjeuner comme tout
le monde? Joanne, Carmel-sur-mer, California

Lin Powell

I'm glad you share so much. It makes me realize I am not alone. I had a day like that last week and when I read about your morning, I can now laugh at my possible over reactions during a sensitive time.


What a colourful scene, shame there was no photo!





Ha-ha !!! What a joke for me to hear when the author happens to be my youngest daughter... how can you now be experiencing a topic formost on the minds of many of your readers of my generation. How can you dare to come into my territory of symptons. You are forcing me to stop looking at you through my rose-colored lens - to acknowledge that you are a full-fledged woman in the mist of mid-life.

Enough on the above musings - loved the scene where you are sitting at Max's desk and distracted from your 6 a.m. schedule of work by his BONG! I already knew about the bong years ago. How I would like to tell tales of Heidi when she was even younger than Max and dead-set on turning my hair white.

I must say your photo's today are beyond perfect for a Mother who longs to be in your presense again. To see your lovely arrangement in the dinning room window with Jacque in the background made my heart cry for the loving embrace he always has saved expecially for me. And the photo of Braise and Smokey's house was very revealing as I could see where Jean-Marc had been running amuk with the tractor through the boules court...I must send him a video on pruning fig trees...too much for an obsessive (sp?) mother-in-law. I must remember to bring my masking tape to tape my mouth shut like I used to do when I would come into your presence long ago when I lived in Les Arc.

I seem to have taken on the persona of a Mom who also needs a vacation-fix. Don't try to understand any of my comments, I would delete but I don't want to have to make a new post for the comments box.

Finally - the best photo of all was the last one. I wonder if anyone realizes that the adorable little room seen behind Jacque on the boules court will one day be your office - with the priceless view of the meadow filled with olive trees. You are one lucky girl to be running about stuffed with kleenex in this French paradise.



Nancy,                     Cambridge

Kristin, (and all the women reading who may not know)- get those kegel exercises going- they work wonders for everything! But the exercise I was interested in after reading this is played on the boules court; I am sick of watering and mowing a lawn, and thought of creating a boules court instead; did JM do anything fancy to make it? Is it tough to keep weeds from growing into it? Any ideas would be appreciated.


One of your best! I can totally identify.


Dearest Kristen,
You are the best! Sorry, but I also just laughed while reading your post! I have been in so many similar situations and have felt the same way about both the mom and the make do situations. My son is 26 and away at college, but it never seems to fail that when we are together or even talk on the phone that I still have pride-hurt mama moments!! You are a doll, a very endearing doll, and you embody what we all think and feel and it makes us all feel better reading what you put your heart on an open page for us all to see and then we each feel that we have a special, personal, connection to the author and that we too can make do and carry on with the day to day challenges or mishaps we all encounter.

Gordon R. Vaughan

Well, we've certainly heard the same complaint many times, *including* right after shopping for groceries! In fact, there's a TV ad running currently here in the U.S., where a couple boys are staring into the freezer looking for a large, very prominent bag of pizza rolls. I always get a laugh from that.


Forget the breakfast, I love the outfit you had on. Sounds to me like you have a feast at your home, we have milk and bread...coffee. A happy week to you.


Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

Such a vivid and realistic yet amusing description of a morning in the Espinasse household followed by Jules' letter above.....I couldn't ask for a better way to start the week. It all sounds so familiar. My thanks to you both. Bonne journée, Cynthia

Diane Young

Dear Kristi,
Your story was so human. There was something in it for everyone. I had to wait for some unknown thing to repair my computer this morning so I could get to your column. And in sunny Florida I was wearing layers to get the newspaper and now I have to bring in the garbage can. Brrr/ Some of the bread in my refrigerator is months old. Maybe I should inspect it and eat or pitch? I keep eating a small tortilla sandwich because I like the corn better than the wheat bread. Now that I'm a widow, I frequently feel like there's nothing to eat because I can't get excited about cooking for one. By the cabanon that looks like a hydrangea bush.Surely not in bloom this early?


Your porch....What a perfectly lovely place to sit ...

N Vandenberg, San Antonio, Texas

I have missed reading you! Ks are now a regular part of my daily routine - as they say maturing is not for sissy's. Your writing has a way of making me laugh at myself and all our very human traits. Good for you on the breakfast front - to many children today do not know how to get from point a to point b without their parents and I am talking about 20 year olds. As always love your pictures and writing. Have a great day!

Bill Facker

Thanks for the great laugh this morning Kristin! I can see every woman I've ever know walking around in their saggy morning garb ... comfortable in their own homes. I'm still laughing! And by the way, this is when you ladies are at your most endearing! Aloha, Bill


You made my dreary Monday bloom.
BIL is a cutie!


Dear Kristin,
I heartily agree with you! "Brioche or oatmeal or yogurt or oranges or bananas for breakfast" is the best kind of breakfast. I look forward to just such healthy and yummy things every morning. So I think momma bird is doing just fine providing for her chicks.


I remember my kids saying on more than one occasion that there was nothing in the house to eat, because they were too lazy to fix something. I am not sure that ever changes in some men. Hopefully they will not be like that as they get older. Patrick's computer for school last year crashed, so I feel your pain. His was beyond repair, and cost way too much to replace. I laid in bed too long today, catching up on sleep after working too much last week. It is not good for the back. HAHA sorry complaining. I just feel your Monday. Hope your week improves!!!!!!

Christine Dashper

Great story Krisitn. Oh how familiar the teenage boy lament! Well they do survive (haha) and you will still be mother of the year. You are right, just keep patting them and give them the brioche. Have a great week :)


6.30 in the morning and you have just made me feel better!!

My son, in his wisdom , has decided he needs money (because his mean parents have said we are providing a roof over your head, food, basics of life but you need to provide the rest yourself) and has found a job working full time from 5.30am to 5.00pm and then off to uni 6pm to 10pm...a very long day by the time he gets back!
Being the good mother I am up before him to make sure he has a good breakfast otherwise he will just leave without and rely on takeaway coffee.
There are mornings that don't always go to plan and this morning I had to contend with the invasion of the ant line ferrying all the food out of the pantry ( it is raining which brings them out), the now famous bread loaf with the odd green spot ( toasted you will never know...surely?!) running out of dishwashing detergent (both hand and machine) and then my son told me the Internet doesn't work!!
Sigh! I agree it is hard to be supermum in uggies, daggy trackpants under your nightie and hair awry! So lovely to know I have a sister counterpart just up the world globe a little!! :-)
Now to find the hair brush.....before anyone sees!


Our dear Kristi,
Love today's wonderful post! (and such beautiful pictures!) You not only make us feel like we are there with you, but also like we are good friends sharing a less than stellar Monday-- and coming out feeling much better afterwards. You have so perfectly summed it up when you said "At times I make do and wish others would too".
THANK YOU for both inspiration AND encouragement.
Love, Natalia XO

Joan Simon

Dear Kristin,

Great post this morning. Loved the visuals. My husband teased me a few months ago about my morning attire. Then, for the first time I looked...stained sheepskin slippers, gray socks, pink jammie pants- now "floods", nightgown, then the softest-on-earth t-shirt I had gotten at a thrift store. I laughed out loud! Au contraire- didn't know I looked this fetching.
I tried to get my kids to use the frig grocery list for add-ons, but it never did take. Inevitably, I would go grocery shopping, only to hear that same night, "Oh, Mom, when you go grocery shopping next..."
I really enjoy hearing that we're all in the same boat. Thanks so much!


Kristin, I have been reading your posts for a few years and I just want to say that during the last year your choice of Title vocabulary words has been really excellent. I speak fluent french, but only the basics, so the words you have been chosing are the perfect level for improving one's french a l'etrangere. Thanks a lot for that. Sarah

Tim Averill

I love seeing the boules game and hope to play with you this summer when we are in Provence again!

Julie Farrar

The post had me chuckling and remember. More than once my husband and I responded to our kids' complaints "Well, nothing's stopping you from using your own money to pay for it." It's amazing how quickly their intense desire for something drops if that's the only option.

Loved the scene with the pillows.


Speaking of health all over:

Kegels from the bottom, and oil swishing from the top :-) -- you'd be the New Person all over! :-)

Oil swishing is a ancient Aurvedic practice. Amazing results - facelift naturally. Plus, works as immune system enhancer, giving radiant complexion, super-clean gums and teeth and much more. 10-20 min while in shower or while cooking breakfast -- everyone could do it!

People who have done it for a few months to a year or more (depending on the results one wishes to achieve) got rid of many serious health issues. Highly recommend as a mood enhancer too! Try it once or twice/trice a day and you'll see and FEEL superb results yourself.

Good health and happiness to everyone!

Detox with the Ancient Ayurvedic Practice of Oil Pulling (also named Oil Swishing or Oil Sucking)


"... To accelerate the healing process, it can be repeated three times a day, but always before meals on an empty stomach. The therapy is not harmful if it is repeated several times a day. Repetition hastens the healing process and renders it more effective. ..

..This therapy should be repeated until one has returned to his original vitality and his sleep has been returned to a peaceful state. One who practices this therapy faithfully will awaken refreshed in the morning with no bags under the eyes. Normal appetite and improved memory are additional benefits.

Healing symptoms:
Patients who suffer from chronic conditions may appear to get worse in the beginning. Dr. Karach emphasizes that a worsening of your condition may be a sign that the disease is in the healing process. It may even happen that your temperature increases. .."

Marianne Rankin

Reminds me of a recent morning when we had been without heat for a week (our furnace died, and we were waiting for a new one to be installed); our cat had become ill and had been incontinent all over the house, and we struggled to wash rugs, etc. as fast as the cat soiled them; and my son woke up with sharp ear pain. Some days just have to be survived. Other days we might have a dead car battery or (as happened two summers ago) a tree branch fallen on our car because of a storm ($3,000+ to repair). This is all part of the human condition, and we have to do our best to remind ourselves that yes, indeed, it could be worse. While shivering in the unheated 40-degree house, we noted how fortunate we were not to be homeless.

My son still eats an amazing amount of food, but now knows that if what he wants doesn't go on the grocery list, it will not be bought.

Really hope Max and Jackie have the good sense not to do the shishka.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the hugs, the I-can-relates, and for sharing your stories and pj fashions, or get-ups :-)

Mom, your comments are a treasure for me.

Kristin Espinasse

Nancy, the boules court was here already, and grass is beginning to invade it...

Karima Amos

Hi, Kristin. I find myself reading your postings late, but they always make me smile. Today's story made me feel very human and normal regarding my own perceived sloppiness, and if that was really your Mom's response above, well, that also gave me a smile. I am reminded to explain to my own daughter that, in a few years, she'll need to pay attention when she sneezes. Thank you for the big grin, and I always look forward to more.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Karima. And,yes, that is indeed my dear Mom speaking, in the comment above. Loved your future reminder to your daughter, about sneezing.

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