Not yet three, Lucy has raised some incredibly thoughtful and amazing questions as of late. Most recently, on our walks, “Mommy – who made the flowers?”
I’ve always been fairly open regarding my ambivalence about religion and spirituality. When Justin and I first began dating, we had lengthy talks about what it means to have faith. When we got engaged, we spent summer evenings in the home of George Brown, the priest who would later marry us, discussing religion. When I became pregnant with Lucy, we talked about what it meant to believe in God. With time, I’ve come to a comfortable place with God and I couldn’t sum it up any better than this:
“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”
~Frank Lloyd Wright
So when Lucy asks questions like “who made the flowers,” Justin shares his beliefs and I share mine. And we don’t share differing ideas to confuse or compete. We share differing ideas because we feel it is important for Lucy to know that it’s okay to have differing ideas – that everyone doesn’t have to believe in the same thing and that we can still love each other fiercely. And because ultimately, she will believe in what is most comfortable for her, just as I did.
“Mother Nature made the flowers,” I tell her. And then I decided to show her.
Last Tuesday, I took Lucy to one of two viveros (nurseries) in town. Located at the entrance to Zen Yoga, a small, but lush nursery grows. Most of the plants are driven in from Catarina, a town north of San Juan del Sur, known for its abundant gardens. Because they didn’t have seeds for sale, we opted to purchase a few small plants to pot back at home.
Not surprising, amidst the green, Lucy set her sights on a pinkish/purple flower and I chose a basil plant (great for cooking AND keeping the flies away). Once home, we laid out all the necessary tools for potting our plants (including a homemade shell-decorated pot from a previous Lucy Tuesday).
As we scooped earth and patted soil, Lucy talked – sometimes to me and sometimes to the plants.
“Okay, little plant, I’ll put you next to your mama plant.”
“Mommy – how do I say basil in Spanish?”
“Albahaca,” I told her.
“Oh right, alahabaga.”
“Okay, alahabaga – are you thirsty? Here’s some water for you.”
“Mommy, why do they need water?”
“Well, they need water and sun to grow, just like we do.”
“Sun makes us grow?” she asked thoughtfully.
“It does,” I said. ”It gives us energy we need to grow and it makes us happy.”
“Okay, Mommy. Let’s be sure they gets lots of sun. Then they can have lots of energy and be happy…like me.”
And so began our very first conversation about photosynthesis, the beauty and power of nature, survival, and Mother Earth.
Lucy was on “rainy season” break from school last week, so instead of a Lucy Tuesday, we had Lucy All Week. We managed to hit the park, the library, the market, a friend’s house, and even Managua throughout the week, but looking back at the week in pictures, a very clear theme emerged…
Lucy loves a good art project. She comes home from school every day covered in marker, paint, and glue. Nearly every day lately, she asks to “do art.” I’ve got a decent amount of simple art supplies, but was glad to have stocked up on a few additional items while in Managua. But pipe cleaners and yarn can only hold a little girl’s attention for so long – and so we set about finding items around the house that we could repurpose and boy did we hit the jackpot!
Day 1: Cardboard Box Town
I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for diapers. Monday should really be called “sponsored by Huggies and Pampers.” Lucy was up before 5 a.m. on day 1 of school vacation week and so it took some extra creativity to keep her occupied. The good thing is that Lucy is thick into imaginary play and once she has something that grabs her attention, she will roll with it for at least an hour.
Three diaper boxes, some construction paper, and a little ingenuity and we had a house, a yard, and a sled for Lucy’s friends. I initially called it a car, but Lucy was quick to point out that the box had no wheels and should therefore be a sled. An observation which blew me away considering that she was recalling a memory, from almost a year ago, of sledding with Daddy and Grandpa. We added in a few projects she brought home from school (the whale, the rooster) and voila – she had a full on farm (because don’t you know that whales live on farms).
Day 2: Plastic Bottle Flowers
It’s hard to top the creation of a village, but every town needs a garden and so for day two, we cut into plastic water bottles to make hand painted flowers. This was a HUGE hit! I made sure to do the cutting, but then let Lucy run wild with the paint. We had fun mixing the primary colors to make new colors. We added some popsicles sticks to the base to make stems and a garden we created:
Day 3: Wax Paper Stained Glass
This activity was a bust. I thought Lucy would love ripping tissue paper to shreds and gluing it to wax paper, but she lost interest shortly after the glue came out. Truth be told, I did most of the ripping and only managed to get her to glue some paper before she took off for the sink to wash off the glue. Once the glue set, she did consult with me on what shape to cut and she helped me to loop the yarn and hang it in the window. I will say that the glue was a great alternative to ironing the paper – better for little hands.
Day 4: Cardboard Picture Frame
This was the surprise hit of the week! Lucy loves looking at photos of her family back in the States, especially her cousins. So when I suggested that we make a picture frame for one of her many photos, she was thrilled. I cut a rectangle out of one of the remaining diaper boxes, gave her a container of “stuff” and the glue stick and let her go. Once she decided it was complete, we added some yarn to hang the frame, though Lucy preferred to wear the frame for most of the day. Every day since, I’ve discovered the frame hanging in different locations throughout the house:
Day 5: Toilet Paper Cars/Trains
This was another fun one thanks to the number of elements involved in making the cars. We first painted and waited for the tubes to try. While they were tanning on the porch, we cut out the wheels and painted those. Once the body of the cars were dry, Lucy set about decorating them with stickers. By then, the wheels were also dry and we were able to attach them with pipe cleaners. Though cars are fun, trains are even better, so we eventually added the yarn and attached the two rail cars to make a train. The train has gone on to take up residence just outside the cardboard box house – after all, Lucy’s friends need a way to get from the pool to home…
It was a busy week for little girls…and moms! We now have a collection of recyclable materials waiting in bodega for the next school break.