A CUP OF JO: 13 Surprising Things about Parenting in Turkey

It’s that time of year, the time to read A Cup Of Jo’s Motherhood Around The World series.  Joanne Goddard highlights American mothers parenting in other countries and I find it so compelling to peek into these ex-pats’ lives.  Maybe I’ll wave my Quebecois flag for 2015’s series?  Here is this week’s installment from Istanbul:

Diane Zhang moved from Brooklyn to Istanbul with her husband, Josh, and 11-month-old son, Aaron. Here are 13 things that surprised her about being a mother in Turkey…

via A CUP OF JO: 13 Surprising Things about Parenting in Turkey.




World Breastfeeding Week, Belatedly

World Breastfeeding Week

Nursing and Conversing, Respectively

I asked Kris to take this picture of me when visiting Utah last week thinking “When will I ever breastfeed again at 9,100 feet?!?”  Farrah Star is 17-months-old and shows no signs of weaning.  Last week was World Breastfeeding Week so I salute you fellow breastfeeding mothers, belatedly.

Three days before this photo was taken Farrah refused the breast for the better part of an afternoon and night.  Farrah nurses as she pleases so I was very alarmed.  Was she going on strike?  How will she sleep?  How will she eat?  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HOW WILL WE FLY TOMORROW?  It turns out she had hand/foot/mouth disease and everything she put in her mouth caused her pain.  It passed but it made me so much more aware of the importance of our breastfeeding relationship; it not only means everything to me, it IS everything to me, and to her.  Or more humorously:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 9.37.04 AM

And more factually:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 9.42.15 AM

Breastfeeding really does it all so Farrah and I, for the most part, continue happily (I could really do without the nipple-twiddling though. Gaw. Stop that!).

I’ll see you at next year’s celebration, I have no doubt.







MMM: Morning Has Broken

Mostly Montreal Monday
Shots and thoughts from my new home of Montreal.

That which occurred to me my first morning as a Montreal resident, presented in a timeline:


First Morning

Huzzah!  No car, no house.  My purse just lost four pounds.

First Morning

City lights, city noise, loud fan and the best night of sleep she’s had in more than a week.

First Morning

I am glad we are moving to a first floor apartment.  I have a toddler.

First Morning

Real glad.

First Morning First Morning First Morning First Morning First Morning

It was an exhilarating 1.8km walk to Arlo’s school.  I am rejuvenated by this urban landscape.  Madison ignited in me an appreciation of nature however, so I hope Kris agrees we need a country/mountain/farm/river/lake house.  Are you there Kris?  It’s me, Lisa.

First Day

Walking takes much longer than expected.  No time for food or coffee.  Balls.  Also I’ll never judge another person speeding down the sidewalk staring at their phone while appearing to ignore their kids.  That was me all morning paying attention to my map app.

First Morning

Remembering last night how I was the oldest person in the restaurant by at least 15 years.  Because of the long travel day and late bedtimes it was already 9pm while I waited for take-out.  WHO EATS AT 9PM?!?  The heavily accented, tattooed and pierced, all at the same time and in the same place.  That’s who.

Walking is the best.  Another 1.8 km!  I am going to learn my neighborhood in less than a week!

Holy crap.  I just got back and now I have to go pick him up.  1.8km.  DRINK WATER DUMMY.  I’m going to have to figure out how to bike with these kids once our stuff arrives.  I think I can use the alleyways.  Why not use the alleyways?  Everyone bikes on the street but that terrifies me.  Is there something wrong with the alleyways, something … French?

First Morning First Morning


First Morning

I crack myself up.

First-born retrieved by 11:50am.  He too is exhilarated and I am so happy that he is so happy that I hug him and cry.  Parenthood.

Everyone is speaking English but it holds true that a greeting followed immediately with a sincere “parlez-vous anglais?” is the best way to get what I need.  I SHOULD NOT speak limited French unless I can follow-up.  For example, feeling bold, I asked the cafe guy “Excuse-moi, avez-vous les sandwiches?” and he responded.  Oh, how he responded.  It went on and on.  I caught the “Oui” part only.  Switching to English at that point was … awkward.

Back to the temporary apartment with grilled cheese and Arlo in hand.  That’s 7.2 km (or 4.5 miles for you Americans snooty snoot snoot) by noon.  I’m going to eat the hell out of this city.  Avez-vous it all?

The Best Thing I Saw All Week

My family and I were in Park City, Utah the past week enjoying a long-planned if (suddenly) ill-timed vacation with good friends from California.  One day, driving aimlessly to keep Farrah Star asleep in the backseat, I turned into a parking lot instead of onto a road.  (I should be the one asleep in the backseat.)  As I pulled in I noticed a bird hopping backwards on the driveway.  BIRDER4LIFE, I parked and got my camera poised.  I only travel with my 128mm so pardon the loss of clarity, but check this out – a black-billed magpie battling a snake:


The snake knew it was in trouble so it darted for the curb and the cover of grass.

MagpieMagpie Magpie Magpie Magpie

It never stood a chance, poor bastard.  The bird caught it in its beak and give it a sound smack on the cement, wounding it enough to be carried away but alive enough to remain delicious.

Magpie Magpie Magpie Magpie

The post-Madison birder in me was thrilled to capture such a battle.  Felt like home.

Did you see something this week you’d never seen before?  I’d love to hear about it.  It does not have to bird-related.  I also enjoy stories about eating too much candy.

Happy Weekend!

Goodnight Madison

Goodnight Madison*

Goodnight sandbox, goodnight trees
Goodnight lefty hippie lean
Goodnight hot tub, goodnight beer
Goodnight neighborhood street corner cheer

Goodnight Madison
Goodnight Madison Goodnight Madison

Goodnight Mendota and Monona shores
Goodnight fancy-pants vinegar store.
Goodnight Marla
and Goodnight Zane.
Goodnight Steph.  Go to sleep, Same Brain.
Goodnight preschool and music and art and goodnight Arlo, you’ve had the best start.
Goodnight heron and cardinal and owl and goodnight coyotes with your lullaby howl.
Goodnight bicycle, whee-hoo and car and goodnight from your birthplace, Miss Farrah Star.
Goodnight community like no other, now go say your prayers and Listen To Your Mother.

Goodnight Madison Goodnight Madison

Goodnight stuff and goodnight things
Goodnight lawnmower we no longer need.
Goodnight boxes and goodnight tape
Goodnight good feelings which will never escape.


( *with apologies to Margaret Wise Brown)

These photos were all taken the last few days in Madison which were a blur not of moving but of love and goodwill.  So many people either wished us bon voyage or helped us in ways too various to list, but I’ll try: meals delivered, bedrooms vacated for naps, homeopathy for smoother travels, and parties, parties, parties.  On behalf of Kris, Arlo and Farrah, thank you so much to Steph, Seth, Nida, Nola, Brad, Jenny, Kay, Pat, Ellie, Jack, Kelly, Heather, Allison and Steph – just to name a few.  It is very hard to envision a life away from Madison and it is all because of you and your good hearts and deeds.

Bon Voyage My Friends.  Montreal awaits …


Deep Thoughts on Moving and Dita Von Teese

This is the move where I look the guys in the eye as they carry out my bloodstained mattress pad.

That which does not kill you makes you donate it to Goodwill just to get it the fuck off your To Do list.

I completed one of those internet quizzes and discovered my Native American name would be One Bed Many Bleeds.

I can’t wait to unpack all the half-dead moths the cats have collected this summer.  The kids will need a snack.

That carpet stain is coffee.  The other one a mystery.  Don’t ask, just roll it up and put it on the truck.

I signed a contract stating I would not import pornography into Canada, not even vintage pornography featuring a somewhat unrecognizable Dita Von Teese:





Your loss Canada.

All of our ziploc bags which are packed in a cardboard box are going to be wrapped in paper and packed in a cardboard box.

“Oh, just leave that.  I’ll pack it myself.” said no one ever.

I’m so glad I’m on my period.  I wasn’t feeling enough feelings this week.

One look at 2014 Dita and you know she bleeds in the shape of an orchid.  Her periods could be commissioned for a hot new line of luxury linens.

Can anyone explain this to me?

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 11.35.30 AM

I sense there will be a lot of unused toys and frayed t-shirts that will be “lost in the move”.

It will be a relief when the house is empty and I don’t have to think about the Where, What and How any longer.  I’ll only have to focus on the Who which is What really matters anyway.

Take my stuff.  Please.

MMM: Top Ten Madison Places I’ll Miss

Mostly Madison Mondays – a howdoyoudo farewell from my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin
This is my final MMM post as we move to Montreal on Friday.  Thank you Madison.

Top Ten Madison Places I’ll Miss

Owen Park

My beautiful, wild, hawk-filled backyard.


Preschool of the Arts

Like a knife to the heart is the leaving of Arlo’s preschool.  The drop-off and pick-up lingering is a blessed union of souls. The handing over of my beloved firstborn into the bosom of his teachers and sticky fingers of his classmates has been a balm.  The never-ending adoration and fascination of my baby girl has allowed me to see her as others see her and that has truly been a gift.  I love preschool.

The Camera Company

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite store in Madison (you make the list too Whole Foods, simmer down).  I have had many photos and books printed at different labs and nothing compares to the quality and care of The Camera Company.  I decided to frame a few nature photos for Farrah’s new room.  This is meaningful to me (and hopefully her) because we discovered these creatures together on our many Madison walks.

The Camera Company

They are stunning and it fills me with pride to hang them in my child’s room.  The people at The Camera Store care about your work.  They also care about your kids, providing a pimped-out train table to keep them happy and occupied.  Oh, you have toys for my children?  Here.  Take ALL my money.

Whole Foods

Farrah and I are at Whole Foods twice a week.  The deli man is in love with my daughter.  The quality and variety of their products cannot be matched.  The staff members help load my groceries in my car.  It is my mom-and-pop shop and I love it.


A place that gives as good as it receives.  Remember Hitler’s Daughter and the Jabba the Hut Nativity Scene?


Pheasant Branch

I spent a lot of time at this park, most memorably to stalk an owl, but we went here a lot as a family too.  I hope to find a go-to park in Montreal as nice as Pheasant Branch.  Did that fall flat?  That reads flat.  No offense Montreal.

Sauk Prairie

A surprise entry but Kris and I agree that seeing the bald eagles was a defining moment of our time in Wisconsin.


My House

You know all about my house.  Enough about my house already.  Goodbye house.

The Capitol

Another surprise entry but hell yeah!  Wisconsin’s capitol building is beautiful and iconic and an indoor winter playground.  Much respect.

Madison Capitol

Steph’s House


This is the place in Madison which I will miss the most because it houses the person in Madison I will miss the most.  No, not the cheeky baby – she’s coming with me – the leggy blonde in the back changing a diaper.  I love you Steph.




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