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Today's story begins in Mexico... and this is Mom, who taught me the example sentence in today's edition (see "audio file")...

Enter to win a $30 Amazon gift certificate when you answer the following question: Which part of this newsletter do you most enjoy: the word, the soundfile, the pictures or the story column? (Or maybe these giveaways?!) Click here to enter. (update: this contest ended in 2014)


 (ah-pwee-yay) verb
1. to press; to lean, rest (against, on); to prop (up)
2. to rely on; to support (petition)

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc read the following example sentence: Download MP3 or Wav

Confie-toi en l'Éternel de tout ton coeur, Et ne t'appuie pas sur ta sagesse
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. -Proverbs 3:5-6

Bilingual Bible For your Ipad, tablet, or Kindle:
Download the French-English parallel language bible (King James) Click here to order.

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

(Part one of today's story is here)

Having just been treated for my dislocated elbow and released from the emergency room--and after three days of travel--five airports, four airplanes and 3 "strippings" at airport security ("No, mam, you can't take off my arm brace!), I made it all the way to Mexico from France!

The never-ending trip included two overnight stops: one in Philadelphia--where I'd missed my flight and stood out in the rain for an hour, waiting to be shuttled to some far off, comped hotel--and one night at my sister's (originally designed to be 2 nights of rest before venturing south of the border). I'd picked up several new one-armed skills along the way: everything from opening packages with my teeth to putting on my laced shoes after yet another airport security check. (Shoe-tying tip: using your free hand, roll laces around this set of fingers and tuck the bundle into the shoe. Voilà!)

Despite a swollen and very sore elbow, and two more bouts of nausea from the pain medication, I'd gone ahead and gotten on the first flight in Marseilles! I would never have made it had my husband not done everything in his power to push me onto that plane.

Which got me thinking: Isn't he a bit enthusiastic about my departure?

Ah well, my concerns were put to rest when, once on board, I discovered a little note he had tucked into my purse: "Love you more. Bon voyage."

The petit mot was even illustrated with a big heart. How thoughtful! And how doting he had been earlier that morning, washing my arms with a soft gant and even helping me apply deodorant. It was a first lesson in humility.  And by now, having arrived via planes, trains, and automobiles to Mexico, I was a pro at letting people lace my shoes, put on my one-armed coat, cut up my airplane food into manageable bites, and even tear open those little packets of cream and stir them into my coffee! Normally I wouldn't touch the chemical-laden creamer, but this was a trip full of compromises and poudre chimique was no longer a biggy in my rigid mind.  

In a way, this accident was turning into a blessing, forcing me to be patient and much more flexible. So when Jean-Marc and I first spoke on the phone (back in Philadelphia, where I'd finally caught the shuttle and was now resting in my room with the special "handicapped" sign on the door), I was very positive:

"Oui, chéri! All is well! So far so good!"

But I was only half way through my trip at that point. And the swelling in my elbow and not yet reached my hand--in time to blow it up the size of a boxing glove!

Follow with me now, back to Mom's casa in Mexico, where I am resting on her bed, relating the whole story of my journey from ER in France to Puerta Vallarta. I had changed out of those scratchy wool pants (with the elastic waistband--no way to travel with buttons and zippers and my teeth wouldn't have been much help either) and was now almost giddy to laugh about the whole misadventure.

"Hey, let's call Jean-Marc!" I said to Mom. My husband had installed the World & You app on my mobile phone which would allow me free (with wifi...) calls to France. Only, after dialing his number, there was no answer....

A moment later I received an email from Jean-Marc: "Sorry I couldn't answer. I'm in the stadium at the Davis cup."

The Davis Cup?!! "Where's that?" I said to my mom, as the heat rushed to my chest. I think it was a tennis tournament... and it had better be in Marseilles! Two seconds later Mom had googled it.

Why that little devil! He was already north of Paris, in Lille! He must have dropped me at the security checkpoint three days ago, and skipped off to the next terminal to board his own flight TO PLAYVILLE!

That nervous tick below my eye was doing jumping jacks and my adrenaline had kicked in. Who needed 5 airplanes to get back to France? I could now poll-vault myself from Mexico all the way to The Stupid Davis Cup--in time to STRANGLE MY HUSBAND! 

"Just before he threw me on that plane, I'd asked him a simple question," I screamed to Mom. Do you have any plans this week? That's what I said. I asked him twice!"

Mom was now bracing herself again the back wall of her room, the sheer force of my delivery having pinned her there.

I continued my tirade: "And to think that I traveled all the way to Mexico with a newly relocated elbow! When I could have rested an extra day or two in Marseilles, as I had thought to do. But no! That would have put a wrench in Monsieur's plans!"

On and on I imagined all sorts of scenarios, verbalising each one aloud as it traipsed across my mind like a thinly clad adversaire. But the true adversaries, I knew, were my own personal frustrations.

Though I had made it all the way to Mexico, the truth was I was not very adventurous. And my husband was. Never one to miss the chance to "see, go, and do!" he takes life by the reins!

While I don't know how to hold the reins, I can grab onto life's skirt-tails. Like now, as my heart whips me to and fro... building an inner-strength--a work that began the day I said "I do."

"Look!" Mom announced. There is another message to you from Jean-Marc..."

Clicking open the email my husband explained his decision, that of keeping his plans quiet just before my departure.

"I did not want to tell you this earlier because I didn't want to stress you during your travels..." Jean-Marc wrote.

Reading his note, I saw the truth in it: had I known he would be absent for a few days, I would have never gotten on that flight home. I would have worried about our daughter, the dogs, the house... who would take care of them while I was away? Not one to delegate, I live with the conviction that only I can sort out these types of care-related details.

Still, I wish I had had the information in order to make my own decision to stay or to go. But then I would have missed the chance to see my dear family back home....

Jean-Marc made the right decision for, even if I had mustered the courage to get on the plane with all that information in mind, I would have suffered from worry during the entire trajet. Instead, I flew with a peaceful mind, and an unflappable elbow!

When you comment on this story, you automatically enter to win today's prize: a $30 gift certificate at Click here to comment.

(And congratulations to a recent winner, Josephine G., who won the frame Desiderata poem!)

French Vocab
le gant de toilette
= washcloth
la poudre
= powder
= chemical
= opponent, adversary
le trajet
= journey, flight, ride 


 Have you heard about all the rain in France? Weeks and weeks of it led to this: the collapse of our rock terrace, or restanque. Not sure it can be repaired. We will see....

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
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Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Pam S.

It's hard to pick only one thing, but I enjoy the photography immensely!

David anderson

The giveaways :-) add me! Bon soir!

Toby Cone

It's a triple tie for me - word, photos and
story !!!
Love it all to pieces!


My favourite is the story - but they all work together...

Dorothy Perilli

I appreciate the sound files


My favorite is the story part. I have learned so much from you!

Barb Friedman

Of course your stories on your life in France are the most interesting, but your photos are fabulous and I even look regularly on Instagram for them!

Barb Friedman


It is very hard to pick one thing, but I would also go for the photos.

Rosalyn Barclay

I read the story to "test" my understanding of the French words - then review the definitions to rehearse the words I missed. I would like more French - I wonder how other readers feel?

Linda Casey

Noooooooooo .. it's impossible to choose so I won't. I like them ALL!! I can't choose just one (dang, you'd think I was a Libra or something). I can't fathom any of them being deleted from this marvelous blog. Nooo nooooooo nooooooooooooo Viking Princess .. noooooooooooo Greetings from Linda and my little dog, Lili from The Netherlands. :)


I love the stories. They always draw me into your world, which you describe with such honesty.

Pamela Bain

I love the entire column, the word, the pronunciation, and the tie in of the column and photos!

Jackie Layton

Who doesn't like giveaways? But even if you never had a giveaway, I'd continue to stop by. I love all of your blog. Stories, vocab, and being able to listen to the correct pronunciation of the words.

Thanks so much for all you do. I hope you are healing and feel better.

Take care.


Look forward to it all - but I guess the story is my favourite.

Susan L.

I adore the new words (which I note in my journal) and the photos! I truly love them both.
Thank you so much for sharing them and educating us on this side of the pond.

Debbie in Ontario, Canada

I love everything...the story and the pictures the most I guess. Last year I travelled with a broken foot in an AirCast and crutches/wheelchair, I quickly learned to accept any assistance offered. Thanks for sharing.

bonnie poppe

Poor Kristie -- I know, because I've dislocated mine, both bones, twice. First time a friend drove me to the emergency room, second time I had a friend who was at the house when it happened pull it back into place for me. Both times were when I lived in San Diego (now I'm in the Languedoc). It is very painful, and the longer it is out the worse it becomes. You did absolutely the right thing to put it back yourself, bravo. You must now be careful forever (!) as once it dislocates, it will do it more easily in the future. I try very hard not to fall, and especially not to break my fall with that arm! Enjoy your visit with family, and that warm Mexican sun.

John V.

How in the world did he get tickets to the Davis Cup? We signed on to their ticketing website the morning they went on sale to the public. It took 20 minutes to get in to the overloaded website, and by then it was sold out! Looked at resell prices on eBay later and decided it wasn't worth it. Ended up cancelling the train and hotel reservations we had made in advance.

Teresa Johnston

The story, and the word..thank you..

Vicky from Athens

Kristin - I love everything about your column and hope you don't change a thing! Giveaways are nice but I since I'm not likely to win one that definitely isn't the reason I look forward to each and every post of yours. I suppose the icing on the cake is the opportunity to learn a new word or phrase in French with each post.

El Wheeler

I enjoy the entire newsletter but if I have to choose one aspect and one only, it would be the word. However, Jean-Marc's audio files are a very close second. Thank you for your newsletters. They transport me back to France for a brief moment in time every week.

Bonnie K

The pictures make me dream....


The sound bite, Bien sur! Keeps me emotionally in touch with the French language that I long to hear!
(yes, I know my keyboard is missing the necessary circumflex)


I love the stories! Take very good care of your elbow! I did same a few years ago.

Jennifer Perry

I love the stories! What adventures you have!

Jim Puckett

The education.

Raymond Jimison

As a sometime-writer, I enjoy the stories. Especially the give and take between you and Jean-Marc...the ebb and flow of a love affair.

Lucille Dodge

I enjoy all of it, especially the story.


Seriously? I have to choose? Truth be told it started with the word - the initial idea after all was to bolster my French vocabulary. But I was soon drawn into the story and captivated by the many characters and their entire rich lives. It became more like a serialized novel with the fillip of an expanded grasp of French (if not The French). And then I noticed that the pictures were adding to that rich enjoyment. As for the audio samples, I was lucky: my reaction has always been, "That's exactly what I thought it was supposed to sound like!" But in the end, it's always the story...

Nancy Heyer

The pictures. I'm a visual learner!

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

Ahh! Haha, how I can relate (minus the dislocated elbow). I know someone who is an expert at avoiding the truth until it's convenient for it to come out.

I so appreciate your honesty in front of thousands of strangers, and in the face of criticism from some. It's inspiring! Thanks to you, I consider moving to the south of France at least three times a week. ;)

Johnette LaBorde

I love the photos!

Marjorie sparrow

I like the word. It engages me into some of the posts . Life is busy so sometimes I can't get further.
That story about the broken bone engaged me!


I signed up for the words, but it's the stories that make this stand out.

Eileen Leahy Preston

My favorite is the story. But I am always happy to see the email in my inbox!

Deb Kanter

Love the words, stories, and pictures. Look or ward to receiving always


I came for the French (words and sound) and stayed for the warm, open stories of your lives, so beautifully shared. Merci beaucoup, mon amie.

Mary Hartnett

I love the word of the day because it helps me expand my vocabulary. I'm a teacher of French and having these new words / idioms help me to better inform my students.


I like EVERY part of your newsletter, Kristin! It's always a breath of fresh air coming into my day ... merci!
PS: I especially like the Bible verse your mom taught you ... it's one of my favourites :-)

Donna Schramek

I go to the photos first and then the story. I love reading about your life and experiences.

Jan Pessano

It's all great, but I notice that I jump to the word first then go back to relish the rest.

Nicole Gelinas

Because I am an artist and french canadian, the pictures inspire me so much!


The word. I don't always have time to give the newsletter the attention it deserves, but there's always time to quickly read the word and get something out of it. Merci.


Simply impossible to chose! I do enjoy the stories and pictures but really appreciate the sound files as well. Love it all!


Without a doubt it is your openness and willingness to share your stories and tieing them into a learning. I have recommended and shared your writings to family and colleagues who also have similar thoughts that the stories and building context for vocabulary.

Milles merci!


I enjoyed hearing the Scripture in French !

Jacqueline Butler

I love the photos. You have a good eye for composition, and I love the dogs too.

Susan Paul


Letitia Searcy

A picture is worth a thousand words! We can all see your life stories in them! Letitia Searcy of St. Simons Island, GA USA

Adrienne Kinkaid

I love the stories but photos are a close second!

joie in carmel-by-the-sea

You can't have one without the other; simple as that. Jean=Marc is going to make an adventurer out of you yet.


I like the words the most, because in most cases I learn a new word or even a new usage of a word.

Ann Deane

I enjoy your tales of life in France which I can contrast (or not!) with my own life here in the Haute Vienne.


the pictures and the story line but also the words!!

Laura J.

I like the story!


As so many others, I love ALL of it, every last word, sound byte and pixel. After following you since 2004 (when I first discovered FWAD), I am amazed when I read any passage in French elsewhere, I'm always astounded at how much of it I understand. This without any other serious attempts to learn French! It's a slow, but very enjoyable way to learn a language bits & pieces at a time. ;)

I'd like to add one other aspect I greatly enjoy... the comments. When I have time, I scoot over here and read. I have been missing your mother's delightful, insightful comments the last few months, though. I do hope that she is doing okay. It was lovely to see her pic in today's missive!

Thanks, Kristi for sharing your life with all of us fellow sojourners... even the armchair dreamers!


I love the story line the most, but it would be diminished without the wonderful photos. And the words add to or reinforce my French vocabulary. The entire package is a winner for me!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I love the story the most followed by the lovely photos! Thanks for sharing your life with us....the ups and the downs!

Anne Fescharek

Having not spoken a word of French since college, I like the words themselves. I see a word and instantly recognize it (or sometimes don't) and I'm in college again!!

"Soft Fuzzy Sweater"
[email protected]

Linda R.

What do I like most? Your voice, you, your stories of family, your honesty and openness in writing, your courage in using your gift & talents. Good travels and Merry Christmas to you and yours.


The pictures, and your sense of humor. I loved the post about Mr. Sacks. I still giggle about it.

Heather in Arles

Oh my goodness, what a tale this is! Expertly told as always and that is why your stories are my favorite part of this amazing place...with photos featuring Smokey in second place. ;)

As always, thank you so much for all that you do. I hope that you had a wonderful time home with the rest of your important for us expats!

Mary Jo Altom

Too hard to pick! But if only one were to come, I would want the word. But please keep the photos and stories!

Linda Frank

I love the stories! And the vocabulary. I keep a list of all of the words you teach us!


I loved this entire post, the word, the quote, and the story.
Will read it several times today, tomorrow, and beyond.
Thank you for sharing.

Karen Chambers

I love the stories! My first love was French and France although I ended up marrying a Spaniard and settling in Spain. Somehow, when I read these stories, I get a sense or 'what might have been' if I had followed through on some of the holiday romances in France...

Terry littman

I enjoy the sound file and the story. Having a little push to connect to a language and country when I'm stateside.

Alexis S.

I always love the stories...but the photography is a very close second!

Alezis Torbert

J'aime le mot! :)

Kelly R

My favorite part is the storyline. You are a great story teller. :)

Denise Sharron Wells

Mon Cheri, (I do hope I have used this greeting correctly, as it is intended as a term of endearment!)
However would I choose which part of this daily gift that I love the MOST? I can hardly choose. Every part of this little daily ritual now, takes me, if only for a precious few moments to another land,and leaves me smiling! :)

Christine Heyworth

So sorry about your elbow and hope it's all healed. I love the photographs the most but your stories always resonate, like this one did. Couldn't help smiling at the parallel with You Before Me by Jojo Moyes which I finished this morning. We need adventurous supporters in our lives to break out of our comfort zones. Jean-Marc and Will Traynor are very special that way. You are a lucky woman and charming as well!


All your stories are wonderful, Kristin. I do love your photos so much. That's why I painted the one I sent to you. Some of yours look like paintings already. Thank you.


I love both the stories and the amazing photos! The stories always make me smile or reflect on something that you write; the photos carry me into a different land. I love looking at them and dreaming that one day I'll be there!


Kristin, I disagree with your comment that you are not an adventurous person. You moved to France far away from family, trusting in someone you didn't know very well, you raised two children without hands-on help from your mom, you began a writing career when those children were still small never having done anything like that before and you've started a new adventure with permaculture. To me you are very adventurous, very brave and very confident in yourself as a woman. As we used to say when we were little "put that in your pipe and smoke it!". 😊


It's a perfect recipe and ALL of the ingredients are important. The "flavor" of the stories are complemented by the beautiful pictures. Same for the audio in some cases. The giveaways are the surprise ingredient. However, the stories are always the main ingredient. Love them all!

Susan Souza

I so understand what you are going through. Having just had shoulder surgery you learn to accept help . My husband was very helpful as well.. It does get better.. Hope you are healing well.


Story, story,story!!!!!(but I love them all)

Pam Luckey

Dear Kristin, I am very pleased to have a chance to let you know my favorite part of your blog. It is absolutely, hands down, your delightful writing style. You are honest, warm, intuitive, and funny. Besides your disarming honesty, I am constantly entertained by the tender interest that you show in others. I loved the clips about Msr. Farjon, the lessons you have learned from many French women with whom you've come in contact, not to mention the ones learned from Jean Marc's family. I also treasure the French proverbs that you salt into the mix. They give me a window on the French mind as well!
I cannot close without mentioning you wonderful photos. Keep up the great work. I tell everybody about your blog.


As a student, it has to be the proverb and odd vocab words that I can't pick up from a textbook.


i'm curious, Kristie, is it 'skirt tails' or 'shirt tails'? I always it is shirt tails. I know what those are-the bottom curved hem of a shirt. Skirt tails-I'm not so sure.

Joan L.

I like the fact that with one word comes a whole story, or that a story can be synthesized into one nice French word. I like it all! Joan L.

Nina Wolff

J'adore the stories, where you generously share your your hopes, your dreams, your fears.

Marcy Alexander

I especially enjoy the main article and how it ties so neatly into every other facet of the wonderful elements of this website. I have started listening to the audio files more and always practice the French phrases as I brush up on my rusty French - forever a work of art!

My subscription was disrupted with iGoogle went away but I have finally resolved that problem and once again and blessed with daily invitations to participate in your wonderful world!

Cory Martin

I love the Word of the Day the best (the pronunciation guide is particularly helpful)


I enjoy the story column most.

Johanna DeMay

Dear Kristin,

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but the story is the star! Thank you for sharing your journey with us through your words, your images, your voice and Jean-Marc's.

As for your dislocated elbow, consider it an opportunity to learn new skills: how to cope with limitations and accept help from strangers. As we age, those become essential. Your mother can tell you all about that! And BTW, here's an early Birthday Hug!

Johanna DeMay


My favorite parts are your stories and photographs. They make me want to return to France, especially Provence, where we visited one HOT summer! Thanks for sharing your life!


I love all three! I am particularly fond of your ability to choose specific words to share as the words of the day. Your stories make wading through my morning email a pleasure!

Elizabeth Henry

I agree completely with Peter's comment. I started reading for the vocabulary but quickly became delighted with your stories and your life. When I met Jean-Marc at a wine tasting in DC, It was like meeting an old friend. The audio clips help me keep an ear for French. Your photographs make the people in your stories even more real.


Toutes les choses! In fact, your writing influenced me a great deal as I was writing my travel blog this last year as we traveled for 6 months with our dog through Europe.
I always tried to include a clever photo or three to illustrate my musings.
(and I can so relate to your travel pain. Twice I have had to board flights with braces on body parts that I injured while on vacation.)


I appreciate all of the extra vocabulary words that are incorporated into the story and defined at the end.......they are an educational bonus to the word of the day....

Pam L.

Your stories are always so heartfelt! I can picture the entire event. Thank you!

Kim kihlmeyer

I enjoy your stories and love how you interject the words in French. I was studying French diligently when a few years ago I HA to put it aside due to serious health issues of family members. I find now that I will once again have time to try again to learn this beautiful language. You inspire me! Merci Beaucoup! Kim Kuhlmeyer


#1 The story
#2 Photos
#3 French words




Dear Kristin,
As an "older" French student at ASU, I signed up originally to learn new French words. And while I love learning them, I had no idea that I would fall in love with you and your sweet family. Your warmth, transparency and kindness keeps me coming back. And it also keeps a dream alive that someday I may live in France, if only for a season! My father spoke French, and has been gone almost 30 years now. This brings me a little closer to him too! God bless you Kristin. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

Elaine Andersen

I admire most your courage and grace in opening your heart and trusting us with the truth of your life. Your gift with facing your emotions and laying them bare for us to share is articulate, remarkable and blesses us with the desire to emulate your integrity. Your blog of friendship is a feast for the eye, ear and most especially, the heart.

Kristine, Dallas

First it was the word. Then it was the story and now it's a toss up between the pictures and the whole darn thing! :)


You write so well, it doesn't NEED the pictures, but they do enhance the experience!I like everything about your newsletter!

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