Tag Archives: Raising children in Nicaragua

Lucy Tuesday, take eight: The Botanist

6 Nov

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lucy Tuesday, take six: The Naturalist

9 Oct

Lucy and I have both been under the weather this week – me with a cold, and Lucy with her umbrella.  She, quite literally, loves to be “under the weather” – any opportunity to break out her ladybug umbrella.  So when I awoke to a torrential downpour earlier this week, a puddle stomping morning for Lucy Tuesday seemed appropriate.  Plus, we were down a car and it seemed a good day to stick close to home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lucy had her rain boots on before I could say puddle and we were off to explore the hood to see what new creatures came with the rains.  We barely made it off of the front porch when Lucy noticed a beetle that had flipped upside down and was struggling to turn over.  I wrote him off for dead, but Lucy insisted that if we helped to turn him “right up side” (her version of right side up), perhaps he could walk again.  And so we began our day by rescuing Mr. Beetle by placing him sunny side up.  Less than five steps later, and still on the porch, we discovered a frog nesting in one of our flowerpots, soaking in the cool, damp soil.  After a brief conversation with La Rana, whom Lucy insisted was a girl, we finally made it onto the driveway.  By then, the rain had stopped and the sun was blazing, but we carried on in search of muddy puddles.

Thanks to heavy rains, puddles were abundant.  Lucy wondered allowed if any fish lived in the puddles.  When I explained that it was unlikely because they would need to travel from a lake or an ocean or a river to get to the puddles, she pointed out that crabs accomplished this feat daily.  And so we decided to check each and every puddle just in case there might be a fish (or a dolphin) because maybe, well, you just never know.  When the puddles came up empty, Lucy began taking notice of how much water filled each hole and wanted to know why one boot was covered in puddles more than the other.  I threw the question back at her and she surmised that it must be because one boot wasn’t as good of a swimmer as the other and therefore needed to stay in shallower water.  I decided to forego the opportunity to teach about depth and rolled with the possibility that perhaps one boot just needed some swim lessons.

In between puddles, we scaled giant rocks and crossed rushing rivers and happened upon some friends that looked strikingly like us:

And so we danced with our shadows for a bit, waving hello and finally goodbye and set off in search of more “natures.”  Lucy pointed out the billowing trees and questioned why they were moving.  We determined that the howler monkeys were not close enough to swing in these branches and therefore, the movement must have been caused by either the zanate or the uraca (both birds common to Nicaragua).  And then we happened upon this beauty roosting in the lush green leaves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As the puddles dried in the scorching sun, we made our way back home, but not before Lucy identified some letters on the sign to our entrance and said hello to the neighbor’s dog.

Once home, Lucy was quick to shed her boots and requested an “art project,” a favorite pastime for us both.  But I was beginning to run out of creative ideas (and materials) and so I did a quick Google search for preschooler art projects and found this recipe for homemade goop.  It seemed perfect, as I even had a little bit of leftover food coloring.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize, until it was too late, that cornstarch and corn flour are not the same thing.  We’d already begun to mix the mess and so I let Lucy roll with it because really, goop is fun, no matter the recipe.  Instead of watching the properties shift from liquid to solid, as promised by the original recipe, we explored color mixing and watched blues and reds transform into none other but…purple!  We made handprints and drew our names and shapes in the goop, too.  Lucy delighted in the mess for far longer than I expected and even managed to keep the walls goop-free.

By the time we were done playing and cleaned up, it was time for lunch and so we ate gallo pinto and pollo with stained hands and headed up for nap.

IMG_0042

Lucy Tuesday, take five: The Reader

4 Oct

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

IMG_4583

Lucy has become pretty adept at identifying letters lately.  It takes us twice as long to read a book because she likes to point out each of the letters that she recognizes.  She’s nailed “L” and “T” so that she can quickly find “Lucy’s and Teddy’s” letters,” but she’s also got a good handle on “A, C, D, F, G, I, J, M, O, S, U.  It’s pretty amazing to watch these early stages of reading, though it can make bedtime last twice as long!  As a lover of reading myself, I find great joy in listening to Lucy “read” to her dolls and friends. And it’s even more wonderful to see the pride emanate from deep inside when she shares her own love of reading with us.

So, a visit to the library seemed liked an obvious choice for a Lucy Tuesday.  Plus, it’s indoors and when you get started as late as 10 a.m., you want to be anywhere but outside!

The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Móvil was established in November 2001 on the patio of Hotel Villa Isabella, by owner Jane Mirandette.  In January 2002, the library moved down the street to its own building, four local employees were hired, and the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Móvil became the first stationary public lending library in Nicaragua.   The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca’s Mobile Project began in May, 2003. Three times a week, library staff and volunteers load bins of books onto a pickup truck and venture into the countryside surrounding San Juan del Sur. At each site, library patrons are able to browse and exchange books, and other educational and recreational activities are frequently provided for children.  By June 2008, the mobile project  is bringing more than 5,000 books to 32 remote farming communities, and it had issued more than 3800 library cards to children, their teachers, parents and other residents.” – from the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Movil website.

The library houses over 12,000 books, primarily in Spanish. Patrons can borrow and return  library materials, and children can browse through bins of attractive, brightly-colored books.  Though we had visited in the past, this was an exciting trip for Lucy because after choosing a few books to bring home, Lucy received her first library card!

We were particularly happy to find a number of bilingual books for Lucy to share with Gloria.  The library also has a small collection of toys, as well as tables covered in craft paper and crayons, inviting kids to draw.

After our stop at the library, we popped across the street to check out the new playground equipment that was recently installed.  Purple-obsessed, Lucy made a beeline for the violet seahorse, but quickly discovered that without shade from the trees, the plastic was just too hot.  So, she migrated to the climbing equipment and there met two new friends, Yennifer and Isabel.

Eventually, we both got hot and hungry and so we made our way to one of Lucy’s favorite snack stops, El Gato Negro for a cinnamon bun and some fresh juice for mom.  And because we were jut next door to Daddy’s office, we decided to stop in for a quick visit and to share our snacks…

%d bloggers like this: