What is "miaulement"? + a new Paris tip on what to see in the city!
How to say a "check-up" in French?

how to cheer someone up in French

We weathered the storm in Phoenix. More, in today's letter. (Pictured, my niece "Ray-Ray".)

remonter le moral

    : to lift one's spirits, to cheer somebody up

Audio File: listen to the following words: Download MP3 or Wav file

A Phoenix, je suis allée rendre visite à ma soeur pour lui remonter le moral. I went to Phoenix to visit my sister and cheer her up.

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

I made a pact with my family when I offered to come to Phoenix last month. I wouldn't tell anyone I was visiting. This way, instead of juggling the where and when and how to meet up with friends--I could focus on just one thing: ma soeur.

I felt terrible about the unfriendly omission, but travelling from Marseille to Paris--on to Dallas then Phoenix--I had one goal in mind: to help my sister during a difficult time. And though I knew local friends would be happy to assist, this was a sensitive and personal time punctuated by delays and changes of plans.

To ease the guilt of not contacting friends, I reminded myself I was on standby--I was here in the desert to stand by my sister. The current situation at Heidi's was stop and go. We'd be headed to the garage, to pack up its contents, or on our way for a needed coffee break when my sister's cell phone would ring again. With it the familiar sinking feeling.... 

I would look over at my sister, watching as her strength kicked in yet again. Clutching her phone, her eyes blinked as she tried to focus. For a moment she quit biting her lips. But when she hung up the phone the latest news sank in, along with those gnawing teeth.

Despite the atmosphere, we laughed as much as we could. Still, it wasn't funny to witness the doors closing all around my sister--and sometimes falling off the hinge!

When the knob fell off the kitchen drawer as I was putting away the silverware, Heidi said don't worry about it. I watched her reach down, pick it up, and jam it back into place before carrying on with dinner, the laundry, and the kids' homework. 

And when I went to step into the shower my sister warned, "That one doesn't work." Then, when I dried my hands at the towel rack, it fell, hitting the tile counter-top with a loud clang! 

I used the powder room with trepidation. The glass wine cooler that was stored there made these menacing popping sounds. I was sure the minute I sat down the ice box facing me would detonate, sending shards of glass flying! As my body anticipated the sharp-edged attack I could feel what it must be like for my sister to live in this constant state of alert, never knowing what was around the corner. 

Driving back from the airport my sister rolled down her window to let in the evening breeze--but we both startled when the glass dropped--right into the door unit below. The cool night air turned into a cold chill that had my niece (in the back seat) asking for the window to be rolled up again. "I'm sorry, Honey. It's broken." 

I listened to my sister comfort her daughter, who now needed a blanket. That missing blanket spoke volumes.

"Here, Ray-Ray. Take my coat." I smiled handing my jacket to my 10-year-old niece. But it would take more than a few down feathers to comfort a family in transition.

Thankfully our Aunt and Uncle arrived, bringing with them good cheer. Next, Marsha and Dad came to offer long walks and funny stories for my niece and nephew. And, last but not least, Brian was there-- having been there all along.


Post note:

It's tricky to tell a story without telling the story. I hope I was able to update you, all the same, on last month's "sabbatical." I'm happy to say that if all those doors were closing behind my sister, a great big door has opened before her and, with it, a soul-mate to carry her over the threshold. 


1-photo 1

At the Camelback Inn, Phoenix. That's my nephew, Payne. But we call him Blurr--that's how fast he is on the football field! There's my niece Reagan--and that's me, left, and my sister, right. Hugged in between us are Marsha and Dad. 


With my niece. Brian calls her "Small Fry" and she loves the French translation Petite Frite. Hello Petite Frite, are you keeping up with our French Word-A-Day agreement? Love, Big Fritte.

(Maybe you are wondering "Why the black down coat in Phoenix?" That's because we were also in Denver... Denver friends, I promise to meet up next time. Thanks for your understanding!)

With brian

As you can see, my sister is surrounded by support. But wishes of bon courage never hurt anyone.... (That's Brian, right, and Luci and Linus, Brian's sheepdogs, front.) 


French christmas music
Everyone loves this holiday CD! Listen to A French Christmas and "Mon Beau Sapin", "Saint Nuit", "La Marche des Rois", "Petite Ville Bethléem", "Il est né Le Divin Enfant". Order CD here. 

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Fay Plauche' Butler

Must be nice to have family support when times are rough. Beautiful story one does not see often enough.

Karen, Towson, Md.

Those of us who live (or have lived) away from our home towns have all snuck in for more focused visits. Friends understand. You are a wonderful sister and friend


Glad that you are home again, hint earlier about kittens-said you did not come home after cruise. Hope Heidi is inafe hands.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Kristin. . . What a great mission of support! Sorry I missed you in Phoenix, but I understand.

For Heidi, trouble seems to come in bunches; like the words of a western song, “If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”!

I like the French phrase…. C’est la vie, C’est la guerre, C’est la pomme de terre , but I also like the phrase, . . “This too will pass”!

À bientôt

MJH DesignArts

Sometimes the journey is all uphill. With family and friends and love to surround, all is possible. Thank you for sharing the love of family.

Heather in Arles

Kristin, I am sending your Sister lots of Strength as she moves forward into this next phase of life. Oh, how wonderful to have such loving family around too! It does make all the difference in the world.


Tien bon, largue pas as Reunionse creole says! Hang on, don't give up! Bon courage for whatever is needed. You share your ups & downs with us all, the least we can do is showing you friendly support : there you are Heidi, you have it all! Take care, il y aura des jours meilleurs!

Kathy Single

Hi, Kristi. . .

How wonderful that you were able to spend a couple of weeks w/ Heidi & children! There's nothing like a SISTER visit, all the more welcome & needed in this transitional period of Heidi's life.
I was delighted that you were able to meet most of my family on Thanksgiving at Sue & Bob's. . .i so longed to be there, too. I had just returned home, though, after babysitting our new 3 month old grandaughter in Chicago for 2 wks.
I am also delighted that french-word-a-day is BACK! Hooray!

Eileen deCamp

I hope whatever your sister is going through, she will find strength and peace. I'm sure you were a great support! It is so nice to have family behind you to lift you up through the tough times.

Chris Allin

Our daughters have said, through good and bad,

A Sister is a Forever Friend~


That is what families are for: love and support and hopefully lots of love. I am glad you could be there for her.

I hold your sister and her family in my heart and prayers with the hope that she will heal and her life will be even better.


Derry Hennessy

What a wonderful story-never mind the inside- it was lovely to read. You are a kind sister.


Your post is especially poignant for me today. And Chris is right, a sister is a forever friend.

Pat Cargill

Best wishes to Heidi and family. There is nothing like a sister's love. Mine has helped me through all sorts of times and I am forever grateful. Love and sweet thoughts to all.

Sue Anderson

Sometimes, the phrase "Keep on keepin' on" is the best one can do for oneself. I send blessings to your sister, and hope that her transition will eventually bring her peace and even joy. The support of family and friends (sometimes they are one and the same) will mean a lot to her.
Regarding your 'sabbatical', I'm sure we are all delighted to have you back (home with us) but completely understand that Family comes First!

Sarah LaBelle, near Chicago

It was great that you could spend time exclusively with your sister, to help her in her time of changes or troubles. Yes, you did tell that story without exposing all of her story, with a delicate touch.

Horseback riding in France and in the US -- your daughter and her cousin can both do that sport? Did you ride horses in your wild youth, too?


hi all i must say what a lovely family photo but curiously i feel that i have met you all on the market at Bayeux - am i right? very best wishes for christmas and 2014. love your website and word a day Rita

judith dunn

KRISTIN..all families have rough spots, but not all families have a wonderfu person among them to help them over the bumpy parts. Heidi is lucky in life in many ways, but most of all she is so fortunate to have people around her who truly love and appreciate her! Broken knobs and windows are just things.... a loving family is something that can never be broken and just gets better with use! Welcome back to all of us.. and Joyeux et Bonne Annee at tous! Judi in Tallahassee

Sue Lennox

Sorry to hear about Heidi's negative situation, whatever it is. Always wished for a sister; she is fortunate to have one like you. Would have been oh, so surprised to run into you at Fashion Square or Camelback Inn! Friends will understand why you were here...no regrets, Kristin.

Julie Schorr

So happy you were able to be there for your sister, Kristin. Sometimes we just need to know that people are there rooting for us when things get really tough. I have been there many times and have appreciated my sisters and their support.
Sending love to you, your sister and your whole families!


It works for vocabulary & so on...but if you really want to know honestly? From an editor's pov? No. It really doesn't work because the whole time I was concerned & wondering if I missed another entry. So I went to the one you linked to...no, I knew that. So then I raced around looking to see oh my goodness what did I miss. So I think if you're going to do something like this (I would not recommend it, I adore you I hope you know that)...I'd put an intro note.

That said (you asked!), I hope things will settle down. And friends will understand, yes. xoxo

Kathleen from Connecticut

Kristin, our prayers go out to your sister. You are a wonderful sister to her and I hope that Brain stays by her throughout.

Welcome back and bet to you and your family.


catharine ewart-touzot

How pretty she is, like you..and a family with sheepdogs..especially 2 is bound to come out on top.When I lived in France 20 years ago.with my sheepdog.I never saw another,but now I have all kinds of French friends with sheepdogs.and people with sheepdogs seem to attract all kinds of loving help. I have gone through lots of changes in my life and never did I really enter into them with joy and happiness.but in time I found that that the new phase was given to me to grow me, or teach me rearward me or maybe allow me to help someone else. Prayers that this new change will open doors that will in time will lead to happiness and joy.

sandy howell

Kristin, I'm sure your friends will realize you need to be there for your sister, for whatever she's going through. Having family there when you're going through something, no matter how difficult, gives comfort and strength.


Edie Schmidt


Just had a heart to heart talk with my own sister about her family problems. Don't know what I'd do without my sisters. I know about that bond and how important it is.
I'm sure your visit was good for you both.

Edie from Savannah


Our dear Kristi,
We send our prayers for dear Heidi,and also those of thanksgiving for you,her always loving sister and,too,of course, her suportive family.
When things are hardest,that's when you know who really cares.
Thank God for such a blessing.
Natalia. xo

Joanne Ablan

Kristin, How wonderful of you to share how a functional family functions! Your story of sisterly love reminds me of the American classic,Little Women by L.M. Alcott, the penultimate chic flick. There
are several versions, 1933 with K. Hepburn, 1949 with June Allyson
and Peter Lawford, 1994 with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon,
and the one on hulu.com which I am currently watching: 1978 with
Dorothy Maguire, Robert Young, Susan Dey, Meredith Baxter Birney, Wm. Shatner and best of all COSTUMES by EDITH HEAD. This last one your daughter, the fashionista, really should watch closely.
May the light in your heart continue to bless others, Joanne, Carmel, CA.

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Bonjour Kristin,

I wish Heidi the best. She is very lucky indeed to have such a wonderful sister. I am an only child (yes even at 60) and have always wanted a sister!

Thanks for sharing a part of your life. Be well.


Sharing your comfort and strength with family is so important. The priority you set is well honored and great example of the mission of oneness with those loved ones. I see the light around you all that uplifts and brings healing. May Heidi find her journey continually filled with the love that has been planted around her.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

What a delight to have the gift of your return for my birthday! You were missed dear friend! I second smile followed when I read your “all or nothing” statement, something I have feared about myself. A belief that taunts me as I work on listening to my need to slow down and rest more.

Catching up on the rest of your stories now as I was away at the coast for a few days. How did it feel to be away from home for a month?

Welcome to your newest family members! I allow my cats to be indoor -outdoor cats, believing that “life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”. I’ve had cats live to be 17 and have a cat that lives strictly outdoors now (once mostly a house cat) who is 15 or more. It is a life filled with more dangers as well as more pleasures and I have lost kitties early in their life to predators and the road.

Whatever Heidi is facing, to have you by her side will ease her transition. How wonderful of you to visit her. The love and support of family and friends is invaluable. Loving kindness is the greatest healer. I loved all your photos, you look radiant and youthful, Kristi, and your lovely niece Ray-Ray sure has a beautiful horse!

Hands too cold to type anymore! Winter is here, returned from the coast to find the farm blanketed in snow and a low of 10 degrees last night. So lovely to have you back to warm my days! Thank you for lifting my spirits.

Joan Linneman

READING Little Women is what got me fascinated with French. There were so many French expressions that "culturally literate" young ladies were apparently supposed to know, and I didn't know how to pronounce any of them at age 11. I just HAD to study French after that.
I reread Little Women every few years, because it is such a sweet wholesome story, and I relate differently to it differently every time I read it. Now, as a grandma, I see that those four sisters might be my granddaughters. As I was growing up, I was one of the four sisters.
Thanks for sharing your sister with us.
God bless you and your family, Kristi

Diane Young

You are such a dear that I know Heidi felt so much better with you to support her. Family is such a blessing in times of need.
Heidi is surrounded by the prayers of those who love you - and that's a bunch!

Leisa Smith

I too am fortunate enough to have a sister like you, there in good times and the not so good. Bless you, and wonderful to hear that doors of opportunity have opened up for your sister, as they do. Thank you for sharing. xxx

Gaelle from AZ

I recognized Camelback Mountain the minute I opened your email! What a wonderful blessing you are to Heidi!! Although it would have been lovely to see you when you were I would have been the one experiencing guilt after reading today's post. I am so sorry Heidi is going thru a rough time (although she looks great and even healthier than the last time you were here!) but I am oh-so-glad you were able to come to Arizona and spend some uninterrupted time with her. Yay YOU!!! What wonderful support you are to your sweet sister! You are such a blessing to us all Kristin!!!

Gaelle from AZ

....when you were HERE in Phoenix! (Oops)

Karen from Phoenix

So sorry to hear Heidi is having a difficult time. I am sending hugs and love her way. Of course I am being selfish wishing I had gotten to see you. If there is anything I could do for Heidi, please let me know.


I'm so glad you were able to be on "stand by" for your sister. I was on stand by for my sister almost exacctly 5 years ago. I was only able to help her until January 2, 2009 when she passed away. I know you treasure your family as I do mine, so don't worry about making apologies to anyone! Best of luck to your sister and you.

Patricia Bell

I remember Heidi - it's been a long time since I have seen her lovely face! Loved your update, but very sorry to hear of Heidi's struggles. As long as she has you, and her children and your family, she is still a rich woman, and blessed among many. Hugs to you and Heidi ~

Jeanne Robinson

Praying for Heidi at this time. I don't know what she is going through, but God does. He is an ever present strength in time of trouble. God bless you all.


I understand. Currently dealing with extended family illness. I have a younger brother and a niece who are gravely ill and each day I dread the phone to ring. The only thing I know for sure is that it is very important during these terrible life moments to stay strong and take care of yourself. Especially important for the caregivers.


Small fry aren't chips, they're young fish:


She acts like a baby may be on the way, many people go to Denver to be genetically impregnated.

Sandy Vann

Heartfelt thoughts and prayers to your sister and all of your family as they face this challenging time. How wonderful that you could be "there" for her Kristin, in every sense of the word. True meaning of family and Christmas I would say. Joyeux Noel and warmest wishes.


There are some things only sisters can share..
I lost mine 2 yrs ago ...and at a loss now to share those special memories with..Sisters are treasures that not everyone has.....

dorothy dufour

Best christmas wishes to you and your wonderful
family, whom we all feel we know....

the knickname blur rang a bell, because we call andree the blur; she moves so fast, and there
is a picture of her, moving.

Judy Feldman

Kristin, I'm so sorry we Phoenicians didn't get to see you when you were in town, but I totally understand your mission. You are truly a lovely and loving person and wonderful sister! But, please come back soon, and see us!


I have no doubt that your visit meant the world and more to your sister and was healing as well. Glad to hear, too, that she has a loving support system in place. Makes all the difference.

My thoughts are with you both.

Rick Spring

"C’est la pomme de terre" (from another post). Does that mean "That is (a) potato (or some such)? I either don't know or remember who Brian is? Glad you could be there for her. Glad you're back!

Carolyn  Dahm,  Sharon, MA

Hi Kristi,

So glad you could be with Heidi during her time of need. God bless all of you and I hope her struggles are soon behind her.

Barbara Michels

Your niece and nephew look so much like Max and Jackie. Bon chance a votre soeur.

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