Escapade en Lozère + A hike and a surprise encounter in Cevennes National Park
Darling reader, I need your "dacodac"! If you want to continue receiving this homespun letter from France, action is required

Deballer: Max unpacks after his exchange program in Mexico

Kristi Max Jackie Jean-Marc Espinasse family
Together again. A nouveau réunis. If you are new to this blog, you might enjoy the story of our Franco-American family, beginning when the kids were very young. Click here to order the book.

Chaque jour apporte ses cadeaux. Il ne vous reste qu'à les déballer.
Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. Ann Ruth Schabacker

Click here to listen to the example sentence

Today's Word: déballer

    : to unpack
    : to untie
    : to reveal


    by Kristi Espinasse

It's been over a week since our 23-year-old returned from his 10-month exchange program in Léon, Mexico. Jean-Marc and I picked up Max from the Marseilles airport...with a surprise in tow: Max's best friend, Antony, was there to meet us at la sortie. (The totally unexpected encounter garnered Antony three times the hug I'd gotten, but who's counting câlins? After a week of catching up with all his vieux pots, I got my son all to myself last night. 

Hot chocolate whipped cream IKEA couches

In our PJs, robes, and other cozy add-ons--pillows, hot-chocolate, blankets and a portable phone (what jeune homme can live without one?) we lounged on just-assembled IKEA couches in our newly-remodeled living room. Jean-Marc and I had planned the entire renovation around our son's return--the work had to be done by May 15th--or no deal!) And here we were now, enjoying an evening I had imagined many times over: just hanging out, watching a good movie.

Peaky Blinders

We were actually enjoying one of Max's favorite T.V. dramas, called Peaky Blinders. He had already seen all the episodes, in Mexico, but he missed a lot of details, owing to the thick accents (Birmingham? Irish?--I don't know, I've only begun watching and I'm hooked, just as Max was!).

Max tells me the series is well into its quatrième saison. That's good news for this Mama, as there'll be dozens more opportunities to chill with my firstborn. And that's the biggest câlin I can think of.

Kristi and Max
Picture of me and Max, from the post "Unfit Mother" (Une Mère Indigne. Read it here)

la sortie = the exit
jeune homme = young man
un vieux pot = an old pal
une quatrième saison = a 4th season
le câlin = hug

Family picnic
Max, left, and me, in hat, at our family picnic here at home in La Ciotat. I leave you with a picture of our new kitchen and living room!

OM match
The night after Max arrived, he and his friends--and a few of Jean-Marc's--gathered to watch the Europe League soccer finals, which, by the looks on their faces (apart from Max's) got off to a bad start for Marseilles!
Kitchen and living room

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:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
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.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

Reunions are so very special. And now, many fun shared times ahead.


Love the new look and openness of the kitchen.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Enjoy your time with Max! I can't wait to fly to Germany next month to see my son, daughter-in-law and lovely Olivia who will be 8 months on June 1st.

I love your renovations. I especially love the kitchen flooring and the tile in the living room!


What a beautiful family and you are so happy to be together again. A very special time. Your remodel looks wonderful. Know you are enjoying it. Happy summer!


P,S. I am also addicted to Peaky Blinders.

Kate Dickerson

You have such a beautiful family, Kristi - inside and out!


Peaky Blinders addicted as well...

Suzanne Dunaway

We have those couches in all places over the years and two here in Collioure and LOVE them. Kids love to lounge on them and I know Max will put them to good use. Bienvenido, MAX!


Addicted to Peaky Blinders as well! If Max watches it on Netflix, he can actvate captions in English. I am an Anglophone and still need help with the Birmingham accent...


Great job of remodeling, Kristi! Your home looks casual-elegant; upscale, but inviting and cozy. Those Ikea sofas look pretty darn good, as well as roomy and comfortable, and the hot chocolate is mouthwatering.

I hope you were able to draw Max into some good conversations. That can be difficult with young men. In any case, I'm glad you've having a great time together.

Julie Farrar

I know you're ecstatic for the reunion. By the looks of your pictures, the kitchen must be done. I hope the renovations make this new place feel more like YOUR home.


Your new interiors look lovely and are well deserved. You have worked so hard for this home. Well done.


Peaky Blinders is set in Birmingham (West Midlands, England not Alabama)
The Brummie accent is widely thought to be the least attractive of British accents (I can say this as I was born nearby)

Philologists believe that by 2100 most British regional accents will have been absorbed into estuarine English, the nasal dialect of London and the Thames estuary so we should treasure these regional differences for as long as we can.

Noble of you to Put up with the brutality of PB in the cause of being with your son.

Judith Dunn

.....Family is everything! Your renovation/remodel looks so beautiful. ! Now the house is your home as you have made it so. Many happy times to come for everyone there..... the future is bright for you and your family... Bisous, Judi... Tallahassee, Fl.

Jeanne Govert

Modern new kitchen but still has that French je ne sais quoi mean
Nice to have a son back home but do know he will leave again!


Fascinating. Love this linguistic tidbit. It's wild to observe the movement of languages and dialects over the centuries. Fun fact: one idiom that has remained consistent is Italian. Old text from the renaissance still reads as modern italian in many respects.

Kathleen from Connecticut

New home, renovations, family reunion. What ore could you ask for? Enjoy it all and 8 reallyneed a Provençal fix. The weather is finally getting better here especially after the rain and thunderstorm last night.
A bientôt.


Roseann Milano

Good reunion. Fantastic reno.

Elissa Hughes

I look forward to your stories each week. I hope to comment intelligently in French by summer's end!

Karen Cafarella

How exciting to have Max back.

Love your renovations!


Ken Curtis

How is it that in the 2 photos of you with your son, you look even younger in the one taken when he was 23 than in the other taken when he was much younger. Whatever you are doing - keep it up. It's working.

Anne Woodyard (@MusicandMarkets)

The living room and kitchen look fabulous! Happy for you all!

Jan in Colorado

So glad Max is home, safe and sound! Did he get to spend much time with his grandmother? What next for him? BTW, I find closed captioning very helpful when I'm watching a British show.


A tip that was given to me for watching Peaky Blinders: Turn on the subtitles! It's distracting at first but you get used to it.


Your children have grown up to be such beautiful young adults!! What a wonderful time of life to be enjoying fun times with them -- in between all their various adventures. You've done a great job, Mom and Dad.

Jan Hersh

Thanks for inviting me to the party by sharing your words and photos! Love the new place and love the big family picnic. Hope to get back to Provence before too long...such a lovely place to be.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Grinning big at all this grand news, Kristi! So great to see all four of you beautiful and cherished cyber-friends together again, to admire your elegant and spacious new quarters, and to think of you enjoying 'Peaky Blinders' right alongside us. What fun, well-grounded in profound relief that the renos are done and Max is home again, however enriched and transformed by his exchange experience ... all this conveys well the fullness of your maternal heart! Bisous à tous!

Kristin Espinasse

Mille mercis, Kitty!

Gail L from AZ

OH!! The joy of a refinished house remodel. It is just lovely!! I have a feeling you will be enjoying it for many years to come! It’s so exciting to see you all together again!


Les copains: potes (pas: pots).
British accents are the best! Provided there are subtibles!!! TIC.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Jacqueline! 

Patricia Sands

Wonderful images all around ... your family, your renovations, and your brilliant smile! Bonne fête ma chère Kristi, un peu en retard!

Cathia Gantz

Your new kitchen cabinets are stunning!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)