Parallelogram: Top Ten Things That Matter, Six Months Later

\One experience explored from two points-of-view\



My family moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Montreal, Quebec last August.  Here are my TOP TEN THINGS THAT MATTER, SIX MONTHS LATER:

  1. The farmer’s market is open all year-round and I know how to get there.  While I can’t get everything I need, it is bright and fragrant and shopping there mid-week is a pleasure.  Farrah Star charms the proprietors and everyone gives her lots of attention which makes the weekly outing extra cheerful.
  2. I have started to regularly host a ( playgroup at my house which is both motivating and satisfying.  It gives me the opportunity to cultivate new friendships (this is how I met both Allison and Laura in Madison) and I like having as many tiny humans enjoy this room as possible:_MG_7513
  3. I still can’t find an organic deli.  When I say I have eaten hummus and chips every day for lunch, I have eaten hummus and chips every day for lunch.  I like a good turkey sandwich.  I feed my child turkey sandwiches but he only gets the “natural” kind because that’s all I can find.  DON’T CALL THE AUTHORITIES.
  4. I still haven’t figured out how to go for a simple walk with my kids.  All winter long my boots, stroller, sled and toboggan have been stymied by the infuriatingly inconsistent sidewalk surfaces in the Plateau.


    Want to guess what MY face looked like?

  5. I have found a carwash and my god it has changed my life this winter.


    Steamy, clean-y goodness

  6. Winter is hell.  You know it.  I know it.  Having just spent two winters in Wisconsin I kept my expectations about Montreal’s winter very low and have not been disappointed.  “With a wind chill of -33º” is our new alarm clock.  Ha.  Alarm clock.
  7. School is everything I dreamt it could be, except that I don’t know too much of what actually happens there.  What I do know is that Arlo is excited and happy and appreciated at his new school all while learning French at a comfortable pace.  Switching schools was one of the most difficult tasks I undertook during this move but it was the right decision.
  8. We have a family doctor.  I cannot begin to explain the relief I have over this change of circumstances.
  9. Charles-E and his family have continued to bless us as neighborhood friends and support.  Another sister, Berenice, now teaches Arlo how to ice skate every Tuesday.  They were my first SOS call when three of the four of us recently caught a nasty stomach bug and nearly every Friday afternoon our home looks like this: _MG_7621
  10. There’s so much more!  Montreal is big and despite my (our) leaving the house every single day, winter precludes me (us) from exploring far and wide.  I dream about seeing more of this city and can’t wait to get on the bike and go.



My family moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico last August.  Here are my TOP TEN THINGS THAT MATTER, SIX MONTHS LATER:

 1) I love my neighborhood and my neighbors.  Having once lived next to neighbors I was scared of and had to call the cops for, this was so important to me. Home is our sanctuary. I feel so blessed to be near nice people who we have become friends with.


the friendly neighbors who took us to one of their favorite restaurants

2) I find that I love living in a bilingual culture.  This surprised me! But being around people who so easily speak two languages is so inspiring to me, and reminds me that the world is small.  Language connects people.

3) Every weekend feels like a mini vacation. I seriously think it’ll take at least 5 years for us to feel like we’ve exhausted all the island’s activities. But then my kids will be old enough to try more challenging activities. I love this easy way to have awesome family time!


4) I can feel the ‘God/Universe providing’ with every adventure we have and every new person we meet.  Hear me out – you know how when you need something and someone comes into your life just at the right time to give it to you? I feel like everyone we meet here provides us with something we need (even if we didn’t know we needed it). Every chance meeting or conversation excites me as it could add more options for our weekend adventures or social life 🙂

5) I REALLY miss Whole Foods, and having easy access to organic meats and produce. This unsettles me still.  While there are farmer’s markets in nearby towns, they’re not convenient and don’t offer organic meat options. I have to do a lot of hunting around stores to get some organic options, and I think I’ll resort to buying org. meats online. Huzzah for the internet!

6) School is working out for my son. An issue wherever we lived, I’m greatly relieved that even though we plucked him out of Madison and 2 weeks later plopped him into a mostly Spanish speaking school in a new country (for his FIRST school experience), he’s thriving. whew! And, school has been a great way to make friends with other parents.


at the Escuela Montessori de Mayaguez

7) I don’t miss the seasons as much as I thought I would. My neighbor just mentioned that he was in Madison last week and for a moment I was homesick.  But then he said it was -22 there. yeah.  I’ll take year round summer.

8) The roads! I’ve gotten used to driving around here. Which is good because there is zero public transportation and you just don’t walk or bike around here. Potholes, ignored stop signs and bad traffic I still don’t care for but eh, it comes with the experience.

9) Smoking.  Or the lack of. There’s no smoking in public spaces, and for so many people crammed on one little island, I’m surprised by how few people smoke.  There are definitely more smokers in Madison, WI than in Mayaguez, PR. Which is fine with me!

10) Las playas. ‘Nuf said.


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6 Responses to Parallelogram: Top Ten Things That Matter, Six Months Later

  1. Pingback: Parallelogram: Top Ten Things That Matter, Six Months Later | | Black Panty Salvation

  2. Barbara Schutt says:

    They have such beautiful beaches in PR. It sounds like your family is adjusting very well (adorable kids)! Fresh produce is a must for us too. We ended up hitting a couple of stands on 115 in Rincon every few days. Great post on your reflections after 6 months 🙂

  3. Carlitos says:

    1. Thanks Dad for talking Trevor out of the mansion on the isolated hill. Actually, I can’t claim responsibility. Probably goes to your number 4.
    2. Language connects people. Or is it that connected people find ways to communicate?
    3. Why wait for the weekend? Expect a miracle every day!
    4. Every encounter is an opportunity. It’s how we respond that may or may not take us in a new direction.
    5. Organic meats! How wonderful if the folks here could even begin to ponder such possibilities. I guess its a question of cost, pressure, culture, education and choices. How blessed to even have such choices.
    6. Education. We take it for granted too easily. The key to a better future. Schools here in El Salvador are teaching English in Kinder.
    7. Seasons are relative. Here there are two seasons, wet and dry, and year round growing season. But, they are also susceptible to the ravages of global warming, mostly caused by “developed ” nations.
    8. Roads! Where I am pedestrians have no rights. Cars have the right to park on the sidewalk, blocking the sidewalks and forcing pedestrians into the roads. And oh, the sidewalks, there are no level sidewalks here. Potholes, busted concrete, open holes, one dare not look up while walking. Driving in a civilized way? Lots of communication by horn!
    9. Smoking? Folks can’t afford to eat, much less think of a cigarette. My “folks” here eat well by design and plan and effort. Other eat culturally and by capitalistic consumerism, ie., coca-cola.
    10. Ah, the beach! A time for relaxation, meditation, and refreshment. I ‘ll be there this weekend for only the second time out of my 20 trips to el Salvador.
    Lots of love and hugs! Abuelo

  4. Diane Palmert says:

    Laura, I so enjoy the person you have become and this move to PR has made you fully bloom. I think of the “girl” I sent off to UW Eau Claire and marvel at the “woman” you have become. Though I miss driving 70 minutes to visit my grandkids I know they are developing wonderful life experiences which will help them flourish as you have. Miss you all very very much, but am very very happy for you. See you soon!!

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