Why I Wake Up At 4am Everyday (Or Try To)

Raco Life Morning Sunrise Lake Atitlan

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”7270″ alignment=”center”][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]If the early bird catches the proverbial worm, I want to be the first one up.

4 am is the only way for me to start the day.

As a teenager, I definitely slept until 12 on Sundays, but during the week at boarding school, the only time I had alone was before class.

In Unversity, let’s face it, I was mostly into all-nighters and not going bed until after class, so who knows?

But as a worker, I have always risen early. From the time I start work until the end of the day, I am on conference calls, so if I want me time, 4 am – 6 am is my only shot at a meditative, pensive, quiet. For these 2-hours I can do nothing, or I can do something, but I get to choose.

It became my standard way before kids were even a consideration and it has stuck.

One of my fondest early-morning memories was living in Camden Town in London. I remember sitting in the corner of my apartment overlooking Camden Town where the nightlife was still pumping. By 6 am I was out running and passing drunks until I got to the park where I saw bums. It was enlighting, mindful, and crucial to the success of where I am today because it endlessly reminded me of what not to do with my life. So I ran harder, farther, and got up earlier.

I like waking up early because it gives me a jump on the day and offers me a chance to enjoy my green tea in peace, read the news, or just generally ‘unthink.’ With all the extra time, I am wildly accomplished and by the end of the 2-hours alone, I have graduated beyond my list to do ready to take on whatever the world throws at me.

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10 Benefits to Waking Up Early:

1. You Have Extra Head-Space ALL day

If you are like me you are a taskmaster. I have lists to do by the hundreds and I cross them out with a satisfying STRIKE THROUGH. I get a list down before I go to bed, and in the morning, I pick one or two of the major things to get knocked out. While on conference calls I can then work on small, meaningless tasks throughout the day.

Having these extra 2-hours seems to free up every part of my brain to expand and have the freedom to explore. If I want to research something extra, I will. If I want to read an industry article and I didn’t have time for it yesterday, I will. I just get a chance to do my ‘thang.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/NRplh-P_Zc8″ align=”center”][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

2. The Moon and Stars Are Out and in a single Hour it Transitions to the Sunrise and the Birds Chirping

Sometimes when I first wake up, while I wait for my tea water to boil, I stand outside on my terrace and look out into the night. It is a perfect time when it is still pitch black and there are endless stars, but there is a little rustle of the birds starting.

Here in Guatemala, no matter what time of year, the sun comes up at 6 am on the dot, and by 5:30 am the birds are fully engaged in song. So if I intend to do nothing 1-morning a week except sit and watch, it is well worth it. Reminding me we are all so insignificant on the spectrum of life. The freakin’ birds are going to wake up and sing eventually, so today is just another day.

3. No One is Responding to Emails

I have a love/hate relationship with emails.

I love that I get to hide behind them and not have to actually pick up a phone and engage. I love that I can send them anytime and not expect a response so it is done for the moment and I can move onto something else and it is out of my head.

But I hate when I send an email and I get an immediate response back – it’s not Messenger… read, comprehend, and then write me back. I handle when email is used for a set of ‘to dos’ I am supposed to add to my already running list to do (see #1). But what I hate more than anything is a full inbox.

From 4 am-6 am it is the only time in the whole day that I have an empty inbox. CLEAR.

“Clear inbox, clear mind.”

Someone who has the ability to have bazillions of emails in their inbox and not be bothered by them – to ‘think them away’, is impressive. I am just not that person.

4. You Can be in Your PJ’s or in Bed and it is Totally Acceptable

Ahhh… back to the days when I didn’t do video chats. Since 2015 I have been on video chats – that’s 4 years without PJ’s at work. And because I like to actually fit the part, I don’t normally wear sweatpants. I mean, there is always the occasional pair of comfy slacks, but I like to be ready for the day – such a bummer, right? I guess it makes me feel more connected to the concept of work.

So, in the morning I give myself permission to be basically naked or wearing whatever I wore to bed. I don’t brush my teeth and I just relish in being comfy and simple. There is no pressure to do anything but be me.

5. The Air is Cool and Crisp – Which Makes for Better Learning

Do you know when it is 2 pm in the afternoon and it is a bit warm in your conference room and your eyes are starting to droop? This is a common moment for me, sadly. I just feel so cozy and the speaker is lulling me to sleep no matter what the subject matter. I want to just prop my feet up on the chair in front of me and… EYES SHUT.

Here, in my indoor/outdoor house in Antigua, I am able to FEEL the brisk morning on my fingers and nose. I am illuminated by the glow of my computer and it is just me, alone in a room with the crisp air falling around me. It makes me alert, open and energized to do something.

6. Quiet. It is so so so Quiet You Can Hear Yourself Think (or I Guess You Can Just Meditate)

Years ago I used to be sitting at the lake and looking out across the still water and relishing in the early morning calmness. I could hear everything in my head. It was like a tidal wave of ideas driving me to keep doing something. I wrote 200 essays in a year. I had two full-time jobs and I still managed to make a baby. I was driven by the quiet.

In today’s world, we are often not without noise. Our phone beep beeps, there is an endless stream of chatter, the tv is in the background, the tea kettle is going off, the fan is going in the laundry room, someone in the kitchen is cooking, cars are driving by, the door is opening and closing… it is so much and by the end of the day I am exhausted.

7. It’s like You Grow Armor – Any Bad Client Moments Just Cast Aside

I used to have a really hard time with criticism. In University I went to a Design School and in the first year (foundation Freshman year) was like ‘How to be Tortured and Cut Down 101.’ I didn’t create a piece of work in my first year  I was proud of or that survived the teachers ripping it off the wall. The goal was to make you tougher, but what I took away from it was to NEVER EVER feel rejected again. So sadly, the concept backfired and now I truly loathe negativity in all sense of the word. Now, I do hit criticism head on and with pride, but I still don’t enjoy it. Who really does?

When I wake up early, I feel like I OWN my own destiny and my day is mine. You can’t fuck with me and what I need to do for me goes first. Energy to rule.

8. You Can Tackle One Project WELL

Do you ever get to the end of the day and realize the #1 thing on your list still didn’t get done? That used to happen to me. Now, I just know if it is at the top of my list, it is it the only project I focus on in the morning. I have to get it done, or at least a jump start so it gets done. Then I am free from the emotion of it holding over me.

I am a procrastinator just like the best of them, so this tactic has worked for me fairly well. I dive in and FORCE myself to just get it down and miraculously my mind releases from the obligation.

9. You are Fresh and Full of Ideas

Did you ever have a dream and you wake up and remember every single detail? Well, when you start waking 4 am, it is like you are waking up ready to recount your last 8 hours of brain stimulation. I am filled with ideas and somehow the way that things just start to connect opens me up for a beautiful world of creation.

It is the only time in the day that I feel creative, alive and open to possibilities. I can write, design or just search around aimlessly. It is like my free-time, fun-time for me.

10. You have a Routine Which Releases You From Obligation

Did you know lots of successful people wake up early? It’s not really about the time so much as the routine ready-ing them for their day. Each of us is different and requires a different code and guideline to function. But what I like most about how we are different, is when we fall into a pattern that becomes our routine, it releases ourselves fully from the ability to make decisions.

Because I wake up at 4 am:

  • It means I go to bed early during the week
  • Which means I rarely make evening plans
  • Which means I am home in bed with my children every night
  • It means I can wake up refreshed
  • And I get creative with breakfast time
  • I get to spend an extra hour with my hubby
  • It means I am not stressed on conference calls wondering when I am going to find an extra hour to get that project done
  • And I feel released from the pressure of my own mind
  • It means, I try to never stay at work late, because I don’t need to – I already got that project done
  • But mostly it means I am in control of my life and destiny and I found something that works for me.

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Now for the How To Guide: 5 Ways to Prepare Yourself for a Successful 4 am Start

Now, let’s face it, I am not always an early riser. I will do 2 or 3 weeks in a row and then something stops me in my tracks for a week.

I will have a trip to a different time zone and I am crashing at 12 am and waking up at 8 am. I totally allow myself freedom and play it by ear. I give myself PERMISSION, to be honest with myself and what I need to be successful with my life.

Or I will get back home for a trip and the kids for the first 3 days will come in at 1 am to snuggle and I will give into the moment. Why not? We only get these little babe snuggles for a moment and then they are gone!

Sometimes I just sleep in because it feels good.

I embrace it.

But I do choose to use some of these special tactics for waking up early:

1. Go to Bed at 8:30 pm

Well, you don’t have to go to sleep exactly at 8:30, but sit in your bed, relax and watch a movie. Believe me, you will want to be in bed by that time anyway. It’s not so bad the day after if you stay out late, but by Thursday you will be CRUSHED. Pace yourself, it is going to be a long week.

2. Turn Your Phone to Sleep Mode

This is essential – DO NOT keep your phone on. You need your beauty sleep and having the blinking light from an Instagram like or a WhatsApp from a friend is freakin’ distracting.

3. Prepare Your Set Up for the Morning

I don’t want to make extra noise and start to disrupt the household, but also it is nice to be able to be a bit mindful. I like to think of it like Shabbat – I overprepare so I can just be free in the ritual. I always get the water ready with my teacup and bag next to it. I make sure I have my slippers next to the bed. Since it has been a bit chilly as of late, I keep a scarf next to my computer just in case I need it. There’s not a lot that I need except my notebook, my mouse and my computer.

4. Do Not Look at Your Phone 1st Thing

Don’t make this mistake – it has ruined my entire morning, so now I don’t look at my phone unless I absolutely have to. Everyone has different working behaviors, and some are late at night, so for me, I opt to not overwhelm my thoughts or my list to do with fresh information until at least 5:30 am. I like to get through whatever I need to do first and then I dive into all the new stuff.

5. Embrace a New Location – A Sacred Spot

In the past, I used to work at my desk at 4 am, but then I realized that I never left my workspace. It meant my creative juices were forced to be surrounded by my analytical workspace which didn’t feel right. Now I sit at the dining room table or the couch in the morning and just ‘jam’ in a different space. It feels good to mix it up and I realize just how space has given me a new perspective.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

And there you go – All my secrets to a successful start to my day are down on paper.

So curious to see what you are going to try, please share!

I also found this great article from a woman in Sri Lanka with 7 great reasons to wake up early.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Going Back to Basics

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Time to Get Back to Basics

It’s been a lifetime… Well, actually, it’s been 3-years since I have really mustered the courage to change my pattern.

Kurt and I made a decision to go back to basics. It’s amazing how far off track we’ve gotten and it is time for a change. Kurt and I started Ra’Co in 2012 – can you believe it? It’s been nearly 7 years since we wrote our first post.

 

Who Are We?

We are both wildly ambitious with our own careers – and we like to work a lot. But in the last year, we have found ourselves truly drifting apart from each other and growing independently, not together. We have also been very focused on the children, work, and personal development.

It’s been a rough November and December, re-entering into a daily pattern after having not spent any real time in the past two years together. The man I live with, have had children with and have crafted a life with have mostly communicated through WhatsApp on an as needed basis. That’s just crazy! There are so many reasons why things have gotten THIS off track, but the fundamentals don’t really matter. The point is we are getting back to our roots.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”50px”][vc_column_text]

W H A T  W E R E  W E

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Striving For?

[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][vc_column_text]When we started Ra’Co the goal is still the same as it is today – to hold ourselves accountable for our actions and to create a community of online people around the world. We also wanted to do it together and to invest time in our relationship by working together. 

The community we want to create is one that gifts the next generation (our children) with a more sustainable life because let’s face it, the world is not in a good place. Ra’Co is really not that complicated – Our #1 goal is to create a constant balance in all that we do which is the baseline principle (Raw + Cooked Food = Ra’Co). 

The Moment of Change

Most of the time, there is a moment in time where you realize you have to make a change. Kurt and I both felt it individually. For me, it was the combination of two guiding statements in the last three months:

  1. Early in the fall, my wonderful friend and running partner Maria said, “Everything in life is a compromise. No matter what you do, you will always be sacrificing something.”
  2. My wise Mother said this week, “Honey, the only thing you can count on in life is change.”

They are both right. I can’t even remember what the topics were although I can imagine the 1st one was about traveling for work vs. staying home with the kids and the 2nd one was about Zai’s recent crazy outbursts.

What Happened Next?

The statements somehow snapped me back and pushed me in the direction towards my internal self. I have spent the last three years, the total time of Zai’s life, reaching outside of myself and my family into the world. I spent endless hours having parties, events and supporting Kurt’s art career. I tried a million new kinds of projects. I took a ton of risks. I failed a lot – and in the end, I was searching for something I did not find. What I realized with these two statements is that the compromise I was making was my desire to craft my own path and feeling like the hard sacrifices would seemingly disappear if I fulfilled the void with friends and fun. On the contrary, what I found is emptiness and frustration within myself.

So I find myself here: 3 days after my 38th birthday, energized, excited and reinvigorated to set my intention for 2019 inward and grow as a more complete person on my own journey, that I am controlling.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]

M Y  P A T H

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Forward

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  1. Get back to writing. I realized on this break, how important writing is to me and my central self.
  2. Continue working on thoughtful communication with myself, my husband and my children.
  3. Make each month a progressive month forward – select an item and work towards changing it. This month is DRY JANUARY. See how I am going to stop drinking here.
  4. Find strength within myself through exercise and consistency.
  5. Learn a craft – in this case I want to learn how to take and edit photos. 

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My 5-Year Old Teenager and Her Things

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”6579″ alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1547520361083{margin-right: 150px !important;margin-left: 150px !important;}”][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Iza Ruby is really hitting the ground running. She is such an indvidual at 5, I can only imagine what the next 10 years are going to lead us towards…

But what that individuality really breeds is a sense of STYLE in her wardrobe! Iza loves to put outfits together and this one is a favorite. I am so impressed.

It’s odd to be the mother of someone so interested in developing their own sense of style. She will spend hours in front of the mirror playing with makeup and trying on different outfits. She absolutely loves it. Kurt has been known to have a moment or two in front of the mirror before we go out – he loves to try out creative looks. Zai, on the other hand is obsessed with shorts that have string and t-shirts. He will only wear red or yellow shoes – so extremely specific and limited. I am one of the least fashion-oriented females out there. I exclusively shop at Banana Republic because the sizes never change and I can quickly pick up discounts with my Banana credit card – most of the time upwards of 40% off.

We had a fantastic manny named Luis who used to love to dress Iza and take her shopping. It was actually wonderful to have someone so attentive to her in those ways. Now she takes care and is thoughtful with her choices.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vcex_image_grid columns=”3″ randomize_images=”true” thumbnail_link=”custom_link” custom_links_target=”_blank” title=”yes” image_ids=”6578,6576,6574,6572,6571,6570″ custom_links=”https://www.kleankanteen.com/collections/kid-kanteen,https://www.radioflyer.com/my-1st-scooter-sport-bundle.html,https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Sculpture-White-Diamond-Pita-Plastico/400121/3578647/view,https://us.corolle.com/louise-1250.html,https://us.benetton.com/baby-girl-dresses/,https://www.adidas.com/us/infant_toddler-shoes”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Perfect Pumpkin Soup for Winter

[vc_row center_row=”” margin_right=””][vc_column][vcex_image_grid columns=”2″ thumbnail_link=”none” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”2650,2643″][vc_column_text]We are non-conformists, so this is going to look a little different from normal recipes. I don’t have a ton of time, and I really hate having a dirty kitchen (since my husband and his German-self yells at me). Every part of the below process, except the bread, goes in 1 bowl, 1 pan or 1 dish.

This is certainly not a quick dish, but it is the kind of dish you can walk away from and let cook while you do something else. As with all soups, it is always better the next day, which makes a dinner party very easy on the day of if you can plan ahead.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][vc_column_text]

A L L   T H E 

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Fixings

[/vc_column_text][vcex_image_carousel items_scroll=”page” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”1″ max_slides=”4″ img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”2641,2642,2643,2644,2645,2646,2647″][vcex_spacing][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row center_row=”” margin_right=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]Serving-Size

 

(10) 10oz bowls of soup including garnishes & 10 slices of bread

 

Ingredients

 

Bread

  • Crunchy topping (Toss and sauté.)
    • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
    • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
    • 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
    • 1/2 tsp olive oil
    • 1 tsp salt
  • Base (Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, form into a frisbee, cover with a kitchen towl and set aside to let rise for 1 hour. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.)
    • 3 cups of gluten free all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp xantham gum
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 eggs (cold)
    • 2 tsp yeast + 1/4 cup hot water
    • 1 cup water

Soup

  • Base (Peel pumpkin and cut into 1″ chunks, bake with half of onion, 3 cloves of garlic and cubed potato for 30 minutes, then switch to broil for 10 minutes. Meanwhile chop and sauté all the remaining ingredients (except herbs) until the onions are clear and the rest is a nice golden brown. Add water to the middle of your large pot and put a lid on it until boil. Pull out everything from the oven and toss into the soup. Let cook for 30 minutes. Put in herbs and add additional salt or herbs as needed for flavor. Add more water as needed. When ready to serve, add in coconut milk and use an emersion blender to make a chunky substance. You can substitute using a blender, but only do up to 1/2 of the soup. Do not blend entirely.)
    • 1 medium green, yellow or red pumpkin
    • 1 large yellow onion
    • 6 cloves of garlic
    • 1 potato
    • 4 small carrots without tops
    • 3 stalks of celery
    • Olive oil
    • Salt & pepper
    • Handful of fresh thyme & oregano
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds (Toss and bake.)
    • Seeds from pumpkin leftovers
    • Olive oil
    • Salt & pepper
  • Carrots (Toss and sauté.)
    • 20 peeled small carrots with partially cut tops
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • Salt
    • Olive oil
  • Flat pancakes (Mix together and fry.)
    • 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp xantham gum
    • 1 tsp ground flax seed + 2 tbsp warm water (let this stand for 2 minutes)
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil
    • 1 can Aranciata San Pellagrino
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • Water as needed for consistency
  • Crispy kale topping (Toss and bake.)
    • 1 bunch of curly kale
    • Olive oil
    • Salt & pepper

 

Important-Information

 

Make sure that you are properly making your pumpkin nice and crispy by putting it first on bake around 300 degrees for about 45 minutes, and then broiling at 500 degrees for 10 minutes. You want it to be a dark, golden color. Make sure to rotate often.

Timing is everything. If you can get the bread mixed and rising while you get the pumpkin cut and in the oven, you will have enough time to lower the temperature of the oven and put in the bread before the soup is done. Juggling is what parents do best, so this shouldn’t be a challenge!

 

Making-Magic

 

Your taste buds are different then mine, so I am going to leave the olive oil, salt and pepper quantities to you. Salt enough to bring out the flavor, but don’t overwhelm. Leave the option to your guests to add a second helping of salt if they desire.

Arrange the soup and its toppings however you think it will look best. Don’t feel shy to give it a go and try something a little outrageous with the presentation and don’t feel obliged to make it look like our version. You can even put a side plate with the pancakes and the carrots and bread if you choose.

 

Conclusion

 

What you will have at the end of your labor, is a hearty and tasty meal. It is more than just a soup, and it is perfect for parties where you just want to sit around the fire or the coffee table, without messing with a formal sit down meal. This is a great meal to have with friends because it is thoughtfully prepared, and in some ways labored over.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row center_row=”” margin_right=””][vc_column][vcex_spacing][vc_column_text]

D O N ‘ T   H A V E   T I M E   T O   M A K E   I T   F R E S H ? 

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Buy Instead

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M E A L   W I T H   F R I E N D S

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Monica’s House, Fall 2011

[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][vc_column_text]What fun! I had been staying with my friend Monica on a trip back to London, just having given up my apartment and have moved back to the States and I wanted to see all my friends. Monica let me host everyone at her house. For some reason many of the photos are lost, but the food ones remain and the two photos of my best friends, Surrinder and Monica. I loved being able to cook dinner for everyone and it was a great way to catch up on a sunny, but chilly weekend day.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][vcex_image_carousel items_scroll=”page” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”4″ max_slides=”4″ img_width=”500″ img_height=”400″ image_ids=”2670,2654,2669,2653″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vcex_spacing][vc_column_text]

D E C O R A T E   Y O U R

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Pumpkin

[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” heading=”” content_width=”70%” media_width=”30%” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image=”2656″]Celebrate the season with something unique on your table or at your seating area. Decorate for the fall with leaves, or even use mini pumpkins for the serving bowls. Found a few ideas through Blovely Events, too.

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This is Our Story: The Story of The Brand Fam

Our story. Individual perspectives.

 I imagine it is about to be something different. This girl I had just met, Rache asked me what she wanted for dinner and it was somewhere around $150.00, which she said, “No problem.” Then, I eventually realized what she had asked for and I couldn’t believe that was what she wanted to spend. It was a complicated experience, mostly because we just hadn’t worked out how to communicate with each other, but it was fun and we had a great time enjoying the process.

It definitely took a long time to cook this meal – I spent the whole day in the kitchen. It is hard making a gourmet Raw Food dinner for two. I remember at one point I was trying to get the top of the bulk Olive Oil container open and so I was using a knife. At some point, the knife tip broke and I couldn’t find it. I assumed that it landed in a corner of the kitchen somewhere under the counter, etc. Turns out it landed in Rache’s salad which she discovered when we were eating. She handled it eloquently seeing as I could have killed my future wife and I was cycling through all the options of how it could have killed her and I was just horrified at my carelessness.

There is a single painting that hung over the dinner table and I got to talk about my process. It was the first time in a while. Jan gave me a chance to talk about it for the first time in a long time. And it was great to have two people there that were so interested in art and food. It was a great experience. I was also really happy to meet someone that was willing to go out of their way to have a special raw food meal and art viewing.

My mom Jan was coming into town and I was totally excited, so I booked a day at the spa and a chance for us to go to Kurt’s for dinner. He was completely confused over the whole experience. I thought I was buying a box and then somewhere he changed it to dinner along the way. He was so flaky and confusing, but I was really excited to have him meet my mom and show her his work. It is so intensely beautiful from what I had seen on Facebook.

We got there a little late and it was dusk. Really gorgeous farmhouse and barn. Every room we went into I got more and more excited about what he was doing there. My kind of person, for sure. My mom seemed a little annoyed that we were so hungry and wandering around so I rushed the visit and we ate. Totally amazing food. We had the best Raw Lasagna, Crispy Fennel Arugula Salad and a sensational smoothie (with bananas, gross!). We gobbled it up, or rather I did. So tasty. I think I finished my plate in under 5 minutes, but I did run into a little shard from the knife and it was quite a bite! I imagined what could have been, but I looked at it as a way to connect together.

Walking upstairs and looked at Kurt’s work which was beautiful and my mom gave her educators / professional opinion. For some, it can be annoying, but Kurt was really patient and seemed to kind of appreciate the conversation.

Afterward, we all went downstairs and we did the dishes (mom and me) since we are helpers and we wanted to do something. Kurt just let us do it, which was a bit strange, but it was fine. He then brought out dessert which was a cashew thing… maybe with orange flavored? Like a custard. It was absolutely insanely rich and good. We shared one and it was wonderful.

We both knew, at that moment, that this was something special. What it was, neither of us knew…. only time would tell.

Story of Us: Connecting for the First Time

Connecting for the first time for us was quite a while ride. On the agenda: lots of drinking… dancing and some randomness.

It was such an interesting moment. Rache had her house at the most optimum level of sweetness: candles burning, appetizers out, snifters of scotch ready to go. It was a bit like a vegan porno scene, ready to happen. Kurt strolled in with his bowler cap, a little tip of a toothpick sticking out of the top and his skinny jeans in boots. He rocked the euro-artist style all the way.

Lots to chat about and our evening came and went quickly. Hours on the dance floor turned into a hot and sweaty mess… Rache confident from her lack of interest in men, Kurt intrigued by the moment.

The Nights Recipe

  1. Food at Rache’s Lake House (left over from the day before), with 2 glasses of scotch
  2. Friday Night Macrodinner, with a bottle of red wine
  3. Every bar in Ithaca… especially in a college town… and then again. Tequila all around!
  4. Ending at the State Street Diner for a night of gorging on egg white omelets and extra crispy potatoes.

Over the years we have replayed this moment anytime we were missing each other and desired a connecting moment. Really we have a specific way!

Not bad for a night out with two raw food chefs. Kurt left in a hurried, drunken stupor after slamming Rache’s mouth with a kiss. Connecting in a wild way.  Totally bizarre night leaving both of us wanting more.

The Story of Us: Finally… All 4 of Us at The Brand Fam

Family Picture of all 4 of Us

What a ride this year has been! We are so lucky to have two very healthy, crazy and wonderful little Brand babies. Welcoming Zai to the family has been one of the most spectacular experiences of our lifetime knowing that we are two and done, and he will be our last. Having a baby in the house is so special; sleep deprivation aside, the smell of a baby and the tenderness that we all feel towards each other comes through in Zai. His adorable squeals of frustration and his animal noises to bring in my milk are by far the single best experiences with him and so very different from Iza’s babyhood.

We asked Luis Pedro Gramajo to come back one morning while my mom was still here so we could capture this very raw moment in our home. Just 10 days in this kid really kept up with the program, while his sister flipped her wig at every corner in one colossal meltdown after another. How Luis was able to capture the total opposite of what was actually going on was pretty amazing!

In someways this is a very narcissistic display… showcasing ourselves and our offspring online and in social media. There is something strange about this moment; for the first time in our lives we really want to celebrate the experience of building our own family and somehow showing it to the world makes it real. What’s that all about?! Either way, it has been fun to see, document and express this moment. I am glad that we have been able to share it with our readers and our close friends and family.

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What does it mean to be a nuclear family?

As soon as I had Zai my dad said, “Well kiddo, now you have the perfect nuclear family.” And so we do. By my definition of living the Ra’Co Life, in someways we all balance each other out – Iza and I crazy gals, and Kurt and Zai mellow dudes.

“Nuclear Family” by historical definition is meant to be a married man and woman and their children living under a common dwelling. Overtime this has shifted and in  the last 30 or so years it has been used to describe a family with 2 parents and a boy and a girl. Sometimes people make reference to a “house, parents, 2 kids and dog” as the American dream family… which can feed into the same context as the nuclear family.

RaCo Life The Perfect Nuclear Family

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Gallery of photos

Many more pictures where these came from, but the ones below are a few of our favorites. For the complete download, click here. If you are interested in seeing the book we made for our Abuela and Bubby at Walgreens, look here.

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Tip: Spend a Little More, Save a Little Time

RaCo Life Tip Spend a little More

Listen to the words from the song by Malvina Reynolds Magic Penny:

PennyIt’s just like a magic penny,

hold it tight and you won’t have any.

Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many.

They’ll roll all over the floor.

Those who are frugal know a secret… every little dollar not spent aids in saving a big nest egg. Those who are spenders also know a secret… every dollar spent (provided it is done purposefully) can aid in making your life easier in some way. In some ways it also comes back around and you will end up having even more. We have tried it both ways, but for us we see the value in spending a little more to gain ourselves more time.

The roller coaster of money is something to look at. Over the course of most of our lives today, there is the ebb and flow of the market which our jobs seem to follow. We have been at the bottom of the barrel and then flowed well over the top with more money than we ever imagined making. And then we are right back to the bottom of the barrel. For us as freelancers, the roller coaster maybe more extreme than those who have steady jobs, but jobs also come and go these days pretty rapidly. One day you are an executive high flyer, the next jobless. So those who are intelligent… save.

When we set out on this journey of balance (leading us to Guatemala), with the purpose to give ourselves an edge towards more time. So our tip to you is to spend just a little more to save a little more time. In the end you will also have more experiences which drive you forward and you will ultimately have a better and more content life.

RaCo Life Tip Spend a Little More Full Width

 

RaCo Life Funny Story

I could give a million examples of how this has played out for us, but I opted for a more ‘life story’ for this funny story.

Over the course of the last year as I have put myself out of the work force and into motherhood full time, I have had a chance to try things differently. Kurt and I tried at the beginning of the year to save, get out of debt and try to find out way with less.

But it worked. We were nearly in a place we wanted to be financially after about 8 months. But was it worth it? We realized that we compromised a lot to be there. We missed out on seeing friends and family because of not going back to the states, we didn’t take any trips and we made our lives more complicated by not going to the city or taking private boats. We purposefully made our life harder to save a few bucks and we were extremely bored.

Eventually everything always comes back around for us and our roller coaster of funds left the station. After the year mark, we decided to move into a larger town and rebuild our life here permanently. We took on a car loan, went into debt for taking time off work to have our second child and spend more time with our 2 1/2 year old, had new school fees and had a number of unexpected expenses like travel, furniture, appliances and healthcare. We are at the end of the year with much less money and much more debt, but I can say looking at both sides of the spectrum; spending less to save more money vs. spending a little more to save time and make our lives a little easier, we proudly stand by the latter. We have a full life filled with friends, adventures and beautiful stuff that has made our lives boundlessly better.

There are few times in our lives that we have the opportunity to just step back and experience life. Most people wait until retirement age to travel, enjoy and rest knowing the importance of “striking when its hot” in the workforce. Those are the same people who come right out of graduate school and never leave until they retire. We have done things a little differently all around – we spent time in our 20s just enjoying life, or trying things out. I started a business and then closed it when it became too much. I took a year off to travel and live in Europe in my 30th year, and another year to be pregnant with my 2nd and enjoy my daughter. Kurt traveled in his RV for 6 years in his late 30s and lived in and out of Zen centers around the country. He was in bands in his 20s and showed in galleries before getting a “real job.” He started a raw food delivery service and now took the last 4 years off to be a full time painter and see where he can take it.

We have taken tremendous risks without any level of payment. But we have enjoyed our time exponentially and grown so much from the experiences. We are better suited to help our customers and give back to the world.

 

Product Review: E3 Live BrainON Food for Mama & Baby

RaCo Life E3Live Actual Product

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_single_image image=”5951″ alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://amzn.to/2RWDQld”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Set them up for success early. When it comes to parenting, doesn’t everyone want to have a super smart kid?

With our 1st child (our daughter Iza), we did whatever we could for brain development.

We did all the things we knew of:

… and we added in E3Live BrainON to everything.

E3Live is thought to provide a cleaner, clearer way of life by infusing your body with a natural inflammatory from an ancient algae-based formula. It is meant to be a terrific balancer for the amount of existing alkaline and chlorophyll in your body. When it comes to deep-rooted change, this is the formula!

For both my pregnancies I was able to take E3Live BrainON. With Iza it was more accessible since we lived across the street from the health food store that carried it, so we were regularly stocked. For Zai, we only had access in our final trimester since it can’t be shipped to Guatemala (they actually have pill versions now that can travel). Kurt brought back the bottles in a freezer bag and checked it in our luggage. It made it here perfectly (which was shocking!).

How much did I consume?

I went through about 2 bottles a month (instead of the recommended 1 bottle a week). We kept it in the freezer and defrosted enough for 3 days and put the liquid defrosted part in the fridge in an airtight container. The frozen bottle went back into the freezer.

Sometimes I would put it into a smoothie, other times I would just take a shot like we would with wheatgrass. It takes sweet, and you can get a few different flavored options if you go to the E3 Live website.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_single_image image=”5895″ alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://amzn.to/2RWDQld”][vc_empty_space][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]

Fresh Frozen E3Live with an added Brain Support helps:

  • Increased focus and clarity
  • Lifted and brightened mood with PEA
  • Lower stress and enhanced well-being
  • Ability to function at a higher level
  • Increased concentration

 

Description

E3Live + BrainON is Certified Organic Fresh Frozen E3Live (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) with a super concentrated Organic E3AFA extract of Phycocyanin and Phenylethylamine (PEA). Phycocyanin is a natural anti-inflammatory. PEA is a naturally occurring extract that may promote clear thinking and focus to give you optimal cognitive function.

E3Live + BrainON is for anyone who wishes to balance mood and increase concentration while functioning at a higher level.

Product Research & Technical Data

E3Live (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) is wild-harvested from Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, USA. E3Live is tested and assayed for purity. AFA is an edible species of blue-green algae that has been consumed by indigenous people for thousands of years. AFA is a very nutritious, whole food containing over 64 nutrients that are easily absorbed by the body.

AFA is considered a new superfood that contains more protein and chlorophyll than any other food source. Micro-algae, existing at the beginning of the food chain, provide nutrition in its simplest form balanced whole food nutrition that is easily digested and absorbed. AFA has a soft cell wall that is easily digested by the body. This allows rapid absorption of vital nutrients and easy assimilation.

Research on the molecular studies and health benefits.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”5304″ alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://amzn.to/2RWDQld”][vcex_button url=”https://amzn.to/2RWDQld” target=”blank” align=”right”]Check Prices[/vcex_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Balancing Act of Work and Life

RaCo Life Kurt Playing Guitar for Iza

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RaCo Life Kurt Playing Guitar for Iza

A work life balance has been lost in today’s society, but it can be found with few basic maneuvers. Kurt and I both work in our fields of choice; he as a conceptual artist and me as a restaurant designer. Neither job is simple or straight forward… both require intense schedules, time and dedication. We have worked hard to orchestrate a schedule which permits meditation, yoga, family meals and play time with our kids by doing less work and more life, and trading responsibilities. We also make time for each other which makes us happier. We don’t always make it work on the first try, but we always adjust as needed.

Balancing is a challenge no matter which way you look at it because there is always going to be a sacrifice. If you can look at the sacrifices as opportunities instead of losses, you will always remain satisfied.

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Here’s our balancing act*:

RaCo Life Balance List

1. Work less
Sweden just went to a 6 hour work week to increase productivity. Studies have shown the more downtime you have, the more productive you are during work hours. Streamline.

2. Sleep more
Sometimes hard with a toddler and a newborn, we make a point to be on a bedtime schedule and get out of bed after we are fully rested. We say goodbye to our list to do for the day.

3. Eat healthy
A plant-based rounded diet with small frequent portions. Simply eat less meat and fill your plate with veggies.

4. Exercise Daily
Even if for just 20 minutes, take the time to walk in nature or just down the street.

5. Rest Your Mind
Do something fun. meditate or watch TV. Whatever it is mix it up so you get a mental break every day.

*If you work outside the home it might be harder for you to make your own schedule and work list; give it a try.

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Mitigate Postpartum Blues by Encapsulating a Dehydrated Placenta

RaCo Life Iza's Placenta Laid Out

RaCo Life Benefits of Consuming the Placenta

The placenta contains your own natural hormones and is perfectly made for you, by you. Reintroducing them to your system through placentophagy is thought to rebalance your system. Experts agree that the placenta retains hormones although the specific benefits are theorized. Your baby’s placenta, contained in raw capsule form, is believed to stick with the Ra’Co Life theory of living a Balanced Life by literally rebalancing your system after child birth:

  1. Replenish depleted iron
  2. Lessen bleeding postnatally
  3. Increase milk production
  4. Decrease risk for postpartum depressionRa'Co Life Medical Disclaimer

A Few Facts

  • Humans are nearly the only mammal on the planet who do not eat their own placenta (other non-placenta eaters include marine and domestic animals)
  • The placenta is one of the most nutritious organs
  • Dehydrating above 122ºF will kill all bacteria harmful to humans. Of course there are specific recommendations for individual meat proteins which can exceed 140º. Ra’Co Tip: If you are concerned, just raise the temperature for the 1st hour to your desired temp.

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RaCo Life Honoring the PlacentaRaCo Life Rache Zai and KurtLet’s start with the fact that I am not a hippie dippy kind of gal. Actually quite the opposite… I am pretty practical minded and conservative. I do eat organic, a lot of raw food and gluten free, but a lot of that is due to food allergies, weight control and health. My interest in placenta consumption stems out of pure desire to connect with my baby and to focus on preventative care.

Being in partnership with Kurt, an artist that sees the world with totally different eyes than I, has really enlightened me. To him this is one of the most beautiful elements to the birth (aside from his children) and if you see this purely through the eyes of natural aesthetics, honoring this incredible organ through ingestion is a way to connect back to the earth and to your own DNA as other animals do.

We dehydrated and encapsulated our daughters placenta in 2013. I had no depression and a very smooth transition into motherhood, including milk production. There is no sure thing, but if it helps, why the heck not?

RaCo Life Viewer Warning

Black-LineGet Set up with the Right ToolsPlacenta Boy Must Haves Post

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RaCo Life Watch the Video

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RaCo Life Where it Comes From

The placenta is an incredibly beautiful organ, one that lives inside for 9 months protecting a growing life. Oddly enough it is rarely seen by the caretaker. Even I, who knew we were dehydrating the placenta during both of our children’s births and knew all the benefits didn’t take the time to even glance at it before it was packed up and carted away. I can assume very few women know what they even look like. Let’s face it, the baby kind of steals the show!10px white LineAs written from the Mayo Clinic, “The placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy. This structure provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby and removes waste products from your baby’s blood. The placenta attaches to the wall of your uterus, and your baby’s umbilical cord arises from it.”

About 5 minutes after you have the baby, typically you will start to have mild contractions again and begin to birth the placenta. Your doctor will help to coax it out of the uterus. It is like a big sack of blood from the outside. If you see in the left photo my doctor is reaching for the metal bowl to place it into. REMEMBER: make sure you have asked for the placenta prior to delivering.

RaCo Life Yanking on the Ambilical Cord RaCo Life Birthing the Placenta

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RaCo Life Dehydrating the Placenta

RaCo Life Iza's Placenta in Bucket in SackRaCo Life Iza's Placenta10px white LineIf you are looking to do this yourself, it is actually quite easy.

  1. Start with the raw placenta in the sack, remove the top layer revealing the actual organ.
  2. Pull it apart discarding all the fatty areas and places that look white, ending up with the hearty dark colored chunks.
  3. These should be cut into thin pieces and spread out across 1-2 dehydrator sheets.
  4. Put in the dehydrator at 135º for 1 hour, then 115º for the 2nd hour and 105º for the remaining 8-10 hours (depending on the thickness of your pieces). Play it by ear until it looks like crispy beef jerky.

RaCo Life Placenta on Dehydrator Tray  RaCo Life Placenta Dehydrated

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RaCo Life Pizza Placenta Boy 2

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RaCo Life Encapsulating the Placenta

10px white Line RaCo Life Ground Up Vitamix PlacentaRaCo Life Capsules10px white Line

  1. Put all the pieces in the Vitamix and go on top speed until you end up with a fine powder.
  2. Place into an encapsulation machine, fill to the top of each capsule, tamper it gently, put the capsule tops on and squish it down.
  3. Store in an airtight container, in a cool place.

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RaCo Life Important NotesHospital Rules: Likely you will have to sign a disclaimer to remove the placenta from the hospital. Actually some states don’t even allow you to take it with you, so find out that information when you go for your hospital / birthing center tour. It is best to bring a small bucket (no more than a gallon) and a freezer bag along with you, but make sure there is a fridge available too.

Timing: The most optimal time to dehydrate the placenta is before 72 hours (within 3 days) after birth. It should remain refrigerated until that point from moment of birth to preparation for dehydration. Do not freeze the placenta if you anticipate a raw encapsulation.

Preparation: Plan to have your Excalibur Dehydrator, Vitamix and capsules ready and waiting for you before you go to the hospital. This will help to make the process go quicker. There are also services that provide this effort which are the last two items on the resource list.

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Resources

 

Jan Ruby-Crystal Drawing Placental Separation

 

Introducing Zai: His Epic Journey into the World

RaCo Life Zai Stefan Brand Announcement Large

He’s here! What a 40 week journey… and what an epic final push out into the world. (FYI all births are epic.)

I have always related the concept of child birth to journeying from space through the ozone… literally through a ring of fire. Zai’s journey is no different. At each step of development from Conception to Birth to Childhood and into Adulthood, the previous step is set in place to help you transition to the next level with your offspring. Birth is likely the easiest day you will ever have; a massive struggle and then a moment of terrific relief. Think of it like training for the “big game of life.”

Throughout this pregnancy I had become a vessel with 1 soul purpose: to create a new, healthy life. Now with Zai on the outside on my body we can say it was a success. He is sweet and cuddly, healthy and chirps like a little bird out of delight or frustration. He is making us all better people with his presence.

We set out on the journey of baby #2 with the anticipation of a total of 4 kids. Experiencing such a different pregnancy had me reeling from day 1 and I am happy to say that we have our perfect nuclear family with one of each sex. We are two and done. We started out the year in a totally different place in a totally different life on the road to discovery. Somehow along the way during the last 9 months we found a new home and a wonderful community we are excited to be in. Our work is growing, our blogs expanding and our personal voices are finding a sense of place in the world. It is really exciting and we feel exceptionally lucky to have both Iza and Zai.

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RaCo Life The Birth Story

 

Starting a week prior to delivery I had pretty regular contractions that never progressed. They started and stopped a few hours after each series. The contractions were like sledgehammers each time, which I later found out was because his head kept missing the birth canal opening (maybe as a result of having a cord around his neck) and was hitting a variety of other places in the proximity to the exit ramp.

Zai came as our amazing doctor said he would, though… on his due date: October 12th. I labored from 11pm onward on the 11th and by 7am I was having 3 – 5 minute contractions. We already had our Dr.’s appointment for that morning at 10:30am, but I was pretty nervous about Monday morning traffic in Guate so we left around 7:30am. We miraculously avoided all traffic and ended up getting to the office around 8:30am (literally never happened before). Dr. SanJose checked me and I was already 5cm dilated. Woohoo! He told us that we would have the baby between 3-4pm and to go to the hospital. He called ahead and ordered our suite and we drove the 2 minutes around the corner and “checked in.”

Hospital Universitario EsperanzaNow That's a Bump is beautiful. The gardens are so lovely and it is situated behind one of the largest malls in Zona 10 in Guatemala City, but feels like you are in a little park and the birds are even chirping! It is set on a University Medical Campus. We had a chance to explore a little while I labored, always better to be walking around, and Kurt had a nice cup of coffee from a great concept called Gitane that I like.

We labored until about 1pm by ourselves with a great Gynecologist who came to check on us every 30 minutes or so. I didn’t even change until then into my birthing dress until Dr. SanJose came to check on us. He said I was 9cm and I would have the baby in another 2 hours. He did say that the head still had not engaged and it could be because the cord was wrapped around Zai’s neck. This sent me into a tisy since I didn’t want a cesarean if I could avoid it (longer recovery, less of an immediate connection to the baby, more money, etc.). Together me, Kurt and Dr. SanJose set to work and as a team we brought the head down by skillful yoga positions and hip sways. We ‘welcomed’ Zai with every contraction and Dr. SanJose checked progress as we went. Within an hour and a half he had engaged more and we were ready to rock with delivery. We still didn’t know where his cord was, but Dr. SanJose and our pediatrician Dr. Castañeda thought they had it covered. The pain was outrageous… 10x what it was with Iza’s transition period… but I was in it to “win it.” They broke my water and knew they had to act fast since if the cord was wrapped it would choke the baby without the buffer of the water around the sack.

In Guatemala the pediatrician attends the birth which is absolutely wonderful. Dr. Castañeda is Iza’s pediatrician, so we know him and feel comfortable with him and trust his advice. If you want to picture it: Here I am on the bed with Kurt on the left and my hand in his, the local Gyno Dr. Urrelula on the right with my right hand in his, Dr. SanJose at the bottom right watching the whole scene and Dr. Castañeda on the bottom left coaxing the baby out making sure the cord was not wrapped. It was a sight to see, I’m sure. Kurt said my eyes were literally bugging out of my head (from the pain) and I was screaming a number of profane words in English. What I felt in that moment was pain + a tremendous sense of security, presence and connection from all 4 of them. Kurt as my partner was brilliant – we took the Bradley Method workshop with Iza and had retained all the learnings from it, putting them into place beautifully in a pressurized moment. I feel very lucky.

RaCo Life Zai's Birth 1st Family PhotoThe ring of fire was the most intense I could have imagined since Dr. SanJose pulled me back and had me hold through two contractions in the same position with the baby half way out. This was to keep from tearing and he slowly had me ‘bleed’ the baby out of the opening. It was INTENSE and definitely the moment of pure white clarity you don’t want to ever have. But it was silent in that moment, and the end result is this beautiful person; the pain is forgotten.

The Upside to the Pain: No cord around the neck and a perfectly shaped head as a result of it not being engaged in the canal until the last minute. A winning moment all around.

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RaCo Life It's All in the Name

The beginning stages of a brand are crucial. It has to be a perfect setting with the right groundwork. Without it, you are already sunk before you get off the dock, so we know how important the branding of our baby is and we have not been light with the development of it.

When we found out that we were having our first baby in 2013, we would talk about baby names on our decent from Mt. Beacon… it is about 30 minutes down, so we had lots of time to talk. Kurt loved the name Zai and within minutes we were both sold on it so we decided that if we had a boy it would be Zai Stefan (after his brother’s middle name). Coming up with a little girls name made us crazy once we found out Zai was actually a going to be a little girl. I had a million ideas and all of which were shot down with force by Kurt, not being the right sound, arrangement of letters or potential nickname. Eventually, out of frustration, I tried rearranging the letters for Zai and it spelled Iza.

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RaCo Life Why Zai?Not sure where this name even came from, but we assume through sounding out words. And as noted above we love the idea of Iza & Zai having similar names and sharing in the letters and sounds together. Living in a Spanish speaking country the “Z’s” are pronounced liked “S’s” so their names actually sound like “Eesah” and “Sahi.” We liked that these were translatable names to most cultures.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 11.52.27 PMZái in Mandarin means “at,” so by the nature of this translation it literally means for him to be in the present moment. We love that idea since he is a Libra like his cousin Marshall, and it appears is meant to be one of the most balanced Astrological symbols.

RaCo Life Why Stefan?Kurt’s brother Karl is ever present in our lives and his middle name is Stephan, but pronounced “Stefen.” In most countries it is spelled instead with an “a” before the end instead of a second “e” so we went with that. Karl is a very important part of our family, mostly because Kurt and he have a similar disposition regarding their art and feed off of each other’s creativity, collaborating regularly. We wanted Zai to have the opportunity for creativity from birth and to feel empowered to always make things knowing that we will support his ideas fully. He may end up being an accountant or bartender, but we still like the idea that his roots stem from a place of choice for a creative life.

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RaCo Life Preparation

 

The last time we went into labor we didn’t anticipate needing anything other than a few clothes. We lived about 40 minutes from the hospital and it was our anticipation that we would be in and out of there (what did we know?). We were pretty quick (under 28 hours), but we missed out on having a relaxing experience with our moment-old-newborn because Kurt had to rush home and make us something healthy to eat and dehydrate the placenta. We didn’t have anything ready to go or organized and as a result we paid the price in emotional and physical exhaustion. It was almost as if we got to the point of exiting the baby in preparation and then forgot about what happens next!

This time I made sure to have everything from food made to a freezer bag for the placenta. We booked a hotel for Iza and my mom and arranged car transport for them after her school. We knew how long we were planning on staying and what our day looked like after we left the hospital. I suppose it has something to do with this being our second child, too. We know how to change diapers now, afterall!

Must haves in our bags:

  • Technology: Laptops, Speaker, Phones, All chargers (phones, speaker and laptops)
  • Clothes: Birthing Dress, Slippers, Comfy Pants, Nursing Bras & Nursing Shirts, Warm Fleece Shawl, Regular Clothes for Kurt, Clothes, Burp Cloths, Cloth Diapers & Wipes for Zai
  • Toiletries
  • Placenta: Freezer Bag
  • Food: Silverware, Wild Rice, Roasted Potatoes, Salad, Cereal, Snacks, Mandarins & Apples, Nut Mix, Crackers, Green Tea, Mother’s Milk Tea, Sparkly Water

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RaCo Life Iza on the Way to GuateIt has been a rough road with Iza since the start of the 1st trimester. I know I was the problem, but it took me until now to realize exactly how I was the problem. The reason: I changed, and stopped being Iza’s Mama right when she needed me the most. I was miserable and as a result Iza felt the effects of the change through my emotional distance. We had our nanny’s work additional hours to help supplement the time I wasn’t feeling well and for months I laid on my back staring at the ceiling and not participating. Then we went traveling for 3 months and finally moved to Antigua. Here Iza has had me more in her life than ever before, but I have not been as active physically or emotionally connected. Now that I am out from under the pregnancy cloud I am beginning to realize just how different I was. I am thrilled to be back on track and able to be there and mobile for my little girl.

We prepared for how difficult this transition was going to be by doing a few extra special things for Iza before Zai came:

  1. We made sure her bed was done and installed and she had a special space. We established an area that belongs to Zai, but showed her how everything integrated so she could see that they were sharing.
  2. My mom came 3 weeks early to be with Iza and spend time with her and now she is her dedicated playmate, making her feel like she has a special support system.
  3. Iza and my mom made a special trip to Guate on the day of the birth and stayed at a hotel so they could have an adventure together, go out to dinner and swim (they did come to the hospital for an hour, but that was like a side trip, not the main attraction).
  4. As a gift, my mom gave Iza her own boy doll to play with complete with bottles and a diaper. Iza in turn claimed a bunch of Zai’s new clothes as her babies and is really enjoying having her own “Baby.”
  5. Other fun and distracting games like the below DIY game.
  6. Now that we are home we are allowing Iza to participate in everything from bathing to rocking to changing Zai.
  7. Everyday I spent at least an hour just with her. In the morning I make sure Zai is fed and sleeping again before Iza wakes, so when she comes to snuggle it is just her and my time. Then we make breakfast together and Kurt watches Zai until Iza goes to school.

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RaCo Life Iza's Matching GameDIY Color & Shape Matching Game

My mom had an idea to do a color and shape matching game, which she crafted in Iza’s honor just for this special trip together. Essentially she created a board with a bunch of shapes and had a bag full of matching shapes to place on top. This is a common Montessori practice, so Iza quickly picked up on the project and mastered the basic level very quickly.

RaCo Life Related Post

 

 

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2 1/2 years ago we welcomed our gorgeous daughter Iza into the world, in someways igniting our life together and starting a family. Read the start of our journey with Iza’s announcement which shares many of the resources we used in preparation for birth (i.e. the Bradley Method, yoga birth and supplements).

Iza Ruby's Announcement

The same rules apply and here we were graced with lots of luck. We had 3 terrific Doctors at our side and it was all due to planning and questioning the process.

RaCo Life Our Goals for Birth Plan

 

RaCo Life Terrific Resources

 

Thinking of delivering in Guatemala? Call on our team (all thanks to our friend Katherine who bestowed this great list upon us)!

  • Hospital Universitario Esperanza
  • Dr. Luis Francisco SanJose: Private practice obstetrics and gynecology near Centro Medico in Zona 10 / 502-2362-3744 / 502-2362-3741 / 502-5200-3816
  • Dr. Raul Castañeda: Private practice pediatrician near Arkadia Mall in Zona 10 / 502-2261-7014

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Main

DIY Kid Project: Matching Shapes and Colors

DIY Matching Game

RaCo Life Iza's Matching Game

This was a great idea on my mom’s behalf. Iza has a fantastic game on her iPad which uses matching shapes, and she has really enjoyed it. She thought to make it analog so it was more tactile on with fun, sparkly shapes. She did this during Zai’s birth so Iza would have a special new toy.

RaCo Life Related Post

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RaCo Life DIY Matching Colors & Shapes 2

RaCo Life DIY Matching Colors & Shapes 1

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Iza has these terrific blocks from Melissa & Doug that fit into a wooden box. It is a Montessori activity that she uses in her classroom as well, so she is very used to the shapes. We used these as the template for making the shapes so they were both familiar and easy for her to pick up.

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RaCo Life DIY Matching Colors & Shapes 7RaCo Life DIY Matching Colors & Shapes 3

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Lay them out on a white piece of paper and trace. For every shape create 2 tracings so you will have a duplicate. Add in a paper clip on 4 sides to a stack of colorful paper. We recommend doing no more than 3 pieces of paper at a time to ensure it stays in place.

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RaCo Life DIY Matching Colors & Shapes 6

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Create two piles of shapes and put one set in an envelope.

Note: Don’t screw this step up or your kid will go nuts looking for the missing piece!

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RaCo Life DIY Matching Colors & Shapes 4

Lay out all the shapes on a 18″ x 24″ board. Pick a material that is thick enough to not be flimsy, but light weight enough to be manageable for carrying around. If you a have an older kid you could go up a size to 24″ x 36″.

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RaCo Life DIY Matching Colors & Shapes 5

Here’s what the board looks like laid out. We just glued everything down with a silicone and then it was ready to go. In hindsight it would have been fun to add her name to the top like “Iza’s Matching Game” or something that made her feel like it belonged to her, but she really loved it.

How to Play:

1st level – Just match the shapes. Lay the shapes from the bag over the shapes on the board. We recommend keeping the shapes in the bag until they are placed on the board.

2nd level – Direct matches to color and shape.

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Resources

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Trip Advisor Review: Caoba Farms, The Best Shop!

Caoba Farms

No Need for a Grocery Store or the Market, You Only Need Caoba Farms!

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5 stars for us: Check out our Trip Advisor Review.

 

We have fallen in love with Caoba… and might never find another place quite like it! Kurt and I are food obsessed and our life has been surrounded by wonderful ingredients living in LA, London and NYC. Here in Guatemala we were literally starving for quality organic food living in Atitlan (although Shad’s Atitlan Organics is pretty special… they are just starting out and the variety isn’t there yet). Moving to Antigua and finding the farm was incredible.

At least 2 times a week we come to the farm to enjoy the atmosphere and relish in the expansiveness of the views. Iza loves seeing the animals and playing with the cracked shells which line all the walkways. And once a month is the most wonderful farmer’s market which allows for all of the suppliers in the tienda to showcase their wares. It is really a special experience with live music and delicious food.

This is the only place we grocery shop. Aside for the very rare occasion of Organica, we nearly buy everything from the shop at the main farm. They have wonderful artisanal products from local suppliers and abroad and all fresh produce grown on their farm. The coffee is exceptional as are their wine selections, honey and peanut butter.

This is literally the best place on earth.

Saturday mornings offer a great routine for Iza and Rache who head out to the farm right at open time at 8am. They walk the grounds, get a little fruit ice popsicle and then they do our weekend food shop. It is a great way to kick off the weekend.

Recently we decided to do our family photoshoot and we decided that the best place to do it was here. So, we put on our tie dye and headed to the farm. Luis Pedro Gramajo did the photography.

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Bacon Recipes for a Vegan Gone Baconite During Pregnancy

I love Bacon when pregnant

How Do you Know Someone's a Vegan?

What happens when you fall off the vegan wagon? Well, you land in a pile of emotional stuff you never knew was possible. Pregnancy does some funny things, but when people say you are a vessel it is something to truly take to heart. We as mothers are literally the outside carrying case for the life inside and whatever they need becomes our top requirement, regardless of our belief systems, passions or choices.

For as long as I remember I was a picky eater and my preference was non-animal products and a healthy repertoire of veggies. My friends and family really never remember me even really eating meat. Dairy maybe, and of course living in Baltimore I had fresh seafood, but even that was rare. I think it started because I was a gymnast and always trying to maintain a healthy weight. While thin, I was never as small as my colleagues in the gym and I was voluptuous, always feeling like I needed to eat a little less. In someways I suppose I had a very low opinion of my body which enabled me to use food to control my body image issues. I used veganism as a way to have a social acceptable term for my pickiness. That statement at the above was something I practiced well when any question came up about my diet.

Pregnancy with Iza was a breeze. I maintained a vegan diet the whole way through, splurging occasionally for eggs and spaghetti and clam sauce (which I love), but never straying too far from the vegan path. And I really wasn’t overly hungry. I felt great! I had a green juice every morning, 2 tbsp’s of E3Live and continued to practice all my typical habits. I was very comfortable and my total weight gain was 17lbs.

I am currently possessed with a little guy on the inside who ONLY wants meat and dairy and at the end of my pregnancy I have gained over 30lbs.  I fought it for as long as I could, but on Father’s Day in June we were at a BBQ place in Antigua celebrating Kurt and I literally ripped a huge hunk of chicken off his plate and ate every last bite of it. Since then meat, dairy and the like have become staples in our everyday. It wasn’t like I wanted to eat meat or to integrate it so fully into our diet, but it somehow stuck out of comfort. The kicking stopped every time I had anything meat or dairy related. I felt like I was starving my little man without eating it (even though I know that is completely illogical).

On the flip side it has been a wonderful experiment. I have learned how to cook so many things with meat from burgers to bacon I am officially a well-versed carnivore cook. Parties at our house will certainly have an opportunity to expand beyond my typical dishes. In addition, it was a great opportunity to try everything I had avoided my whole life and get a chance to make a new choice about. I would say if anything remains in my diet it will be bacon. I now know why vegan people say that bacon is always the food that brings them back to a carnivore lifestyle. But now at 39 weeks and after 3 months of eating like this, I am so ready to get back to my typical diet as soon as I have the babe on the outside. I miss eating clean foods!

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RaCo Life Fantastic Recipes

First Start with the Right Cut

RaCo Life Bacon Thick Cuts

The single most important aspect of a successful and satisfying bacon recipe is good quality bacon. What should you look for? I think it goes without saying since we focus on farm to table, but we strongly urge hormone free, organic, grassfed, pasture-raised bacon, ideally purchased from a local grower. My brother Michael and his partner Jen . Our preference on cut is based on what we plan to do with it, but for typical bacon we like a slightly thicker cut. This cooks up beautifully to become a red and tasty, crunchy piece of meat.

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Martha Stewart How to Cook Crisp Smokey Bacon

10px white LineOur Very Own Ra’Co Gluten Free BLT with a Homemade Mayo

RaCo Life BLT

 

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Jamie Oliver’s Warm Salad of Crispy Smoked Bacon and Jerusalem Artichokes

Jamie Oliver's Bacon Salad

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A Our Very Own Ra’Co Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Glazed with a Balsamic Reduction and Baked in Olive Oil.

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This is a Collection of Cool Material’s Best Bacon Recipes on the Web

Our featured favorite is the Bacon Brittle, Bourbon-Caramel, Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Bacon Brittle Brownies

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The Happy Raw Kitchen’s Raw Vegan Bacon

For good measure I though I would include our favorite Raw Vegan Bacon recipe. One that we always use when we are trying to recreate the flavor of bacon in a healthy, raw plant based version. It is really true that there is absolutely no need for meat and this is great proof. Give it a whirl and you can even have fun with the shape you cut it into. This recipe is all about the spices.
Raw Vegan Bacon
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RaCo Life Funny StoryOur Daughter’s Disturbingly Funny Rendition of ‘Rockabye Bacon’


10px white LineThe only negative to my diet change has been the introduction of all these new things to Iza’s diet. Perhaps it is good that she is able to try them and make up her own mind, but it is still challenging to watch my little vegan baby go full on carnivore and to LOVE it. This weekend we were making bacon on the grill and Iza started caressing it. I didn’t capture her singing, but I did get the visual effect (her mouth was far too full to participate in a song).

Obsession with Ice During Pregnancy

RaCo Life Crunching Ice While Pregnant

RaCo Life Ice Zoom
Crunching into a melting piece of ice is the most satisfying moment for me these days. The crunch takes on the same appeal as an accomplishment and the cool is this internal reward of both temperature control and hydration. My teeth are not terribly happy with me, but who cares? It is so worth it!

As my dentist and husband have pointed out they see no reason why I shouldn’t just have a tall glass of cold water instead, but I have tried to explain that it is beyond the cool. It is the CRUNCH. The crunch is the most essential part of the entire experience.

Clearly, pregnancy does some weird things to a body, but ice obsession? That’s a weird one. I can’t stop eating it… I thought at first it was a coolant tactic; because I am so internally warm I needed a way to cool down. With Iza’s pregnancy I was obsessed with frozen peas, so naturally, ice would just be a replacement now that I can’t get organic sweet peas so readily.

What is the cause? After searching around the internet it looks like I am not the only one who is obsessed with or questioning why they are so enthralled by cold, crunchy ice. The most probable is a disorder called pica. Other causes could be an iron deficiency and if focused on ice only it could mean that you are trying to self-soothe.

What is Pica?

Pica is the act of eating non-food items like dirt, ice, and paint which have no nutritional value. Outside of pregnancy it is a serious issue and is likely related to a mental health disorder such as a compulsive, obsessive behavior. Inside of pregnancy, it can be your bodies way of begging for a different kind of nutrition that is being offered. Pica is a serious disorder and should not be taken lightly. If you are pregnant, however, pica is likely a temporary disorder that will disappear after birth.

RaCo Life Tovolo Ice Cube Tray OrangeMy Choice Ice Tray

Tovolo 15 cube grid and fill each cube with water by about 1/8″. They harden a little thicker than the liquid at about 1/6″ and offer the absolute perfect bite every time without it melting in the process.

Want something a little more fun? I sometimes do this with orange juice or mashed strawberries to get a little extra flavor in there. Its so delicious!

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RaCo Life Funny Story

The idea of crunching on ice is one that our parents have told us not to do since we were little. But as a 37 weeks pregnant person with a toddler who likes to mimic everything I do, there is little I can do to control her from crunching ice. I am a terrible parent letting her have at it with a big bowl of ice! Her poor little teeth.

So last week we were in the car and driving to a friends house. I had a metal coffee mug filled with ice and happily crunching as we were driving. Iza starts singing, “Yo quiero ice” (which means I want ice) over and over again as a song. I started handing them back to her one by one every time she sang since I couldn’t really watch what she was doing. I could hear her crunching occasionally, though so I just assumed they were all going into her mouth.

Finally, there was a tremendous scream from her which nearly made me go right off the road. She started to cry and said that the ice is “no esta aqui” (which means was no longer in her hand). She had been saving them and as she was they were melting away in her sweaty sweaty palm and then falling down into her chair. She was soaking wet and without any satisfying crunch.

Once I figured this out I had a chuckle.

Resources

21 Maternity Clothes You Can’t Live Without

RaCo Life 21 Maternity Must Haves

RaCo Life 21 Must Have Maternity Pieces

At the most vulnerable point in you life, splurging is essential. Don’t let discomfort take over and force you back into the comfy pajamas and crappy slippers – take a moment to put on something extra special that is made for the pregnant you! My mom made a point in my last trimester to buy me two really nice dresses: 1 super comfy, but still pretty, and the 2nd a gorgeous tight number to accentuate my belly and legs. She explained that this is one of the only times in my life that I am going to have that pregnancy “glow” and I should relish in the moment. And so I did.

Since I have done my best in this next pregnancy to always leave the house looking great… which has translated into a tremendous confidence booster the whole way through. I took time to pick things that I not only like, but that look really good on me and make me feel as if I were wearing my normal clothes. My husband and my friends are always complementing my outfits and that feels great!

RaCo Life Tip Maternity Nursingwear Go Multiuse

For the purposes of this article I have streamlined the choices to just focus on clothing basics, and a few fun pieces of flare. I didn’t want to share bras and stretch pants since those are pretty personal and available everywhere. Depending on your style preference you might have to look a little harder, but hopefully some of these options will help you out. If you are bohemian chic go for FillyBoo. If you are West Village, go for Hatch. If you just want the basics, go to Japanese Weekend or H&M. I think there is a little something for everyone!

During and after (maternitywear / nursingwear) is the best choice when making a purchase. It is expensive to buy anything baby related, so maximize your dollars! Buy something you can wear during pregnancy and then after when nursing. Trust me, you will be so glad that you have something that fits and functions as it is intended to.

RaCo Life Recommendations

Fashion is one of those things that can’t be forced. You have to really know yourself to create an individual style. But here are are a few general recommendations that will help with any selection:

  1. Remain neutral:

    Remember that you can always add color with funky shoes, hats, bags, jewelry and scarves. Keep the bulk of your clothes neutral in color to maximize wear. You will be so happy you did.

  2. Buy for a 2 year time span (per kid):

    If you are going to be nursing, anticipate at least the 9 months of pregnancy and the year+ afterward for nursing. If you are having multiple children, you may not be back in normal clothes for 4 or even 6 years, so buy as if you are buying a new wardrobe and add to it over time.

  3. Think about comfort and size:

    Normally when we buy clothes we go on style and do our best to pick the things that we are going to feel thin and beautiful in. When you are considering maternitywear / nursingwear you want to be sure you have room to expand. Obviously you won’t know how big you will get if you buy at the start, so just pick a range of sizes and consider comfort. Stretch is very important with maternity!

  4. Don’t forget about diversity:

    Many women start off working and then shift their lives to accommodate doctor’s appointments, playdates, school obligations, etc. Don’t just get a 1-sided wardrobe. Think about all the things that you might do in a given week and try to select pieces that can be mixed and matched accordingly. Casual wear becomes just as important as workwear with kids.

    • Exercise is very important, so don’t forget about getting something you can wear during it.
    • If you have a toddler, think about things like maternity swimwear and things for the park or playdates.
    • Always pick 1 or 2 things that can be worn out on a date night; it is now more important than ever for you and your spouse to find time to connect and you want to look rockin’ when you do!
  5. Quality counts:

    Since you are going to likely have a smaller maternity / nursing wardrobe than your normal clothes you will be wearing more of the same thing more often. In addition you will be eating more so spills on the bump area are more likely to happen and when you are nursing milk stains are going to be on everything. If you get discount clothes, you will very quickly see the pillage and wear. You won’t be sorry you spent that extra $20 per outfit… it will payback in spades and you won’t have to always look like a ragamuffin.

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21 Must Have Pieces:

 

RaCo Life Maternity fillyboo The Story OF Maternity Maxi Dress (Grey Marle)RaCo Life Maternity Harris Maternity Cardigan Isabella OliverRaCo Life Maternity Hatch Hudson Shirt White10px white LineRaCo Life Maternity Thyme Boyfriend JeanJapanese Weekend d&a™ nursing sweater dressRaCo Life Maternity The Classic White Button Down Shirt Hatch10px white LineRaCo Life Maternity Little Black Nursing Dress Milk NursingwearRaCo Life Thyme DL Maternity Boyfriend Riley Jean with SandblastRaCo Life Nursing Faux Wrap Purple Mother's Milk10px white LineRaCo Life Maternity Tee for Two maternity dress (Cream) FillybooRaCo Life Maternity Hatch The Ophelia Dress
RaCo Life Maternity NICHOLSON MATERNITY STRIPED DRESS
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Best Discount Brands & Consignment Sites:

H&M LogoGap LogoB to B Maternity LogoMotherhood Closet Maternity Consignment

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A Couple of My Choice Clothing Brands:

Japanese Weekend MaternityFillybooMilk Nursingwear MaternityHatch Maternity

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Best Fancy Dress Award:                       Best Jeans Award:

Rachel Pally MaternityCitizens of Humanity Logo
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Best Shopping Sites for Variety of Brands & Great Prices:

 Amazon LogoShopBopIsabella OliverThyme Maternity

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RaCo Life Funny Story

 

RaCo Life Maternity Dress Blue HillBlue Hill at Stone Barns is by far one of the most pivotal restaurant concepts of our time. Chef Dan Barber has transformed this incredible farm into a consumer friendly educational experience through a high-end one-of-a-lifetime dining event. For our Baby Moon we decided it was essential to head to Blue Hill at Stone Barns and have a full day and night enjoying a meal from food we were able to see growing. On the way into the farm are two speed bumps. It felt like it was meant to be!

This image is in an adorable dress from Japanese Weekend called the Hug a Boo. It has a large black flower and ruffle neckline on the upper left and it ties in the back to create an empire waist. I know I am bunching it up at the base and you can’t see, but the best part of the dress was the structure in the front which had darts sewn in to accentuate and flatter the belly. Very thoughtful design. It worked with flip flops for the day and then at night I transitioned to heals and a black cashmere shrug over my shoulders to fancify it.

Ra'Co Life Related Post

Veggie, Lactose-Dairy Free, Gluten Free Quiche

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]RaCo Life Egg Crustless Quiche

Sounds like this would be limited in flavor, taste and excitement, but it is a fabulous treat to have for breakfast. Kurt and I are partial to salad as a side, instead of fruit, when we have vegetable quiche and it is a perfect compliment to this simple recipe.

Ingredients

Red Silicone Quiche RaCo Life Silicone Whisks Shun-Classic-Chefs-Knife-0

RaCo Life Egg Crustless Quiche 2

Directions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Thinly slice the onions and garlic and sautee in olive oil until a nice golden brown color. Set aside to cool.
  3. Crack and whisk all 6 eggs, adding a little salt and pepper to taste. Add the almond milk and continue to whisk until a slight froth forms. Add the onions and garlic to the batter after they are cooled.
  4. Chop the kale and basil into thin slivers and add to the batter. Switch to a spatula and gently fold into the batter. When complete pour into the silicone quiche holder (since these tend to be a little flimsy it is always best to put onto a baking tray first).
  5. Put in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your preference. The top will not crust over (since you don’t have cheese) and the edges will only slightly brown so it is important to check frequently with a toothpick, etc.
  6. Wait 5 minutes after taking out of the oven so it can continue to cook inside. Then slice and serve with a side of greens. We have a terrific 12 year aged white balsamic and olive oil we typically add to the salad.

Resources

 

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Homemade Creams for Pregnancy and Babies Courtesy of Meghann

RaCo Life Homemade Pregnancy and Baby Creams

Pregnancy Cream Paste

Pregnancy is never a comfortable feat for anyone, especially when it comes to stretching and growing. The most uncomfortable piece of the puzzle is typically the skin during this growth and with it comes a need for soothing. Here are two fantastic homemade cream recipes my step-sister Meghann passed on via my mom to help me get through the last couple of months. With 3 kids under 3 1/2 she is the master of all things surrounding health and wellness for herself and her kids. These are great recipes!

Homemade Baby and Belly Itchy / Eczema Cream

The typical natural remedy calls for Shea Butter with lavender. While effective, Meghann created a cream of her own that has actually made this pregnancy bearable. It stops the itch, soothes and stays moist for at least the entire day. I asked her for the ingredients, and I guestimated the recipe based on the logic system of how they would come together to form a cream like substance. You can easily adjust this as you go if the consistency is not to your liking.

Remember: A little goes a REALLY long way!

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RaCo Life Cream in a Ball JarIngredients are all organic and can be purchased through Amazon:

Version 1:
1/2 cup Olive Oil (infused with nettle)
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1/4 cup Beeswax Pellets
20 drops Licorice Root Extract
1 tsp Tamanu Oil

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Version 2:
1/2 cup Olive Oil (infused with nettle)
1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1/4 cup Beeswax Pellets
1 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil (add several drops of Calendula + Chamomile to it)
1 tsp Evening Primrose Oil

Mix the olive oil, coconut oil and beeswax together in a jar placed in water in a sauce pan over low heat until the beeswax and coconut oil melt and blend together. When it starts to cool, add in the remaining ingredients. Quickly transfer to a permanent glass jar and seal.

The cream should harden and form a harder substance, but you may have to adjust your recipe accordingly based on your preferences.

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Homemade Magnesium Cream

This is a great way to round out an evening bath and settle in for relaxation. It is thick like vaseline, so a little goes a long way. I use it after a tub when the skin is still moist.

Ingredients are all organic and can be purchased through Amazon:

Wellness Mama LogoHere is the recipe from Wellness Mama (one of our favorite sites)!

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RaCo Life Buy Product ButtonDon’t want to make it yourself? My mom just mentioned that Meghann is starting to sell her batches of creams from Northampton, MA. If you are interested, contact us and we can get you in touch.

Wyse Organics Delivery Meal System Review

RaCo Life Wyse Organics

Part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle is eating fresh from the farm, but people have busy lives and cooking farm fresh takes time. If you happen to live in the NYC or Long Island area, you have an option that we strongly recommend from people we know and respect: Wyse Organics. This is not just any meal delivery service; it is in essence a private chef service with an affordable price tag. You can trust you are getting good quality, exceptional flavor and fresh, local ingredients.

Delicious organic entrées.

Plans include entrées, sides and soups or kids meals. View Meal Plans.

RaCo Life Buy Product ButtonYou can view the listing in our shop
or go directly to Wyse Organics.

 

Chef Wyse has made it easier than ever to get delicious and healthful meals delivered right to your door. Annual subscription plans start at $149 per month. 

Using only local and organic ingredients, our menu changes with the seasons. This way the ingredients are at their freshest and provide the best flavor. From ripe tomatoes in the summer to pumpkins, squash and winter greens in the winter are all sourced from the best organic farms on Long Island and the surrounding region.

Wyse Organics Instruction Video from Wyse Organics on Vimeo.

Healthy eating shouldn’t be hard. Using modern sous vide and flash freezing techniques, we’ve made it easy for you to create a restaurant-quality culinary experience in 3 steps. If you have additional questions, please reference the Wyse Organics FAQs.

 

Wyse Farm Stories – Green Thumb from Wyse Organics on Vimeo.

Founded in 2014 by private Chef Allan Wyse and global organic food entrepreneur Erik Bruun Bindslev, Wyse Organics is a start-up with a mission to empower more people to savor the best organic, local and seasonal flavors from the comfort of home.

Wyse Mix & Match Video Series

Wyse Mashed Organic Zucchini with Spaghetti

This episode has Chef Allan Wyse using Wyse Organics frozen mashed zucchini from Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett in combination with spaghetti. Its an easy, organic and healthy 10 min. meal.

WYSE MIX & MATCH: Wyse Mashed Organic Zucchini with Spaghetti from Wyse Organics on Vimeo.

 

Wyse Braised Kale & Chard with Organic Lamb Chops

In this episode Chef Allan Wyse uses Wyse Organics Braised Kale & Chard as a perfect side for organic lamb chops. An easy 10 minute meal from Wyse Organics.

WYSE MIX & MATCH: Wyse Braised Kale & Chard with Organic Lamb Chops from Wyse Organics on Vimeo.

 

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Chef Allan Wyse

Chef Wyse is a celebrated private chef amongst New York’s A-list. From Horizon Media to Cosmopolitan Magazine, Fran Drescher, Mario Cantone and Kim Cattrall both of Sex and the City fame and numerous Fortune 500 CEOs. Allan’s name is synonymous with fresh, delicious and organic first-rate cuisine. Raised with an organic garden in his backyard, Chef Wyse has always known the importance of using only the best ingredients in his kitchen. He crafted his trade working in some of the world’s finest restaurants, including Daniel’s and The Modern in New York City. Chef Wyse has cooked alongside the world’s most renowned chefs such as Daniel Boulud and Marc Aumont.

Allan has appeared on “Food Networksiron chef chairman’s challenge, promoted both the Vita Mix blender and Turbo Chef Ovens (with Charlie Trotter) and hosted his own cooking show Wysecooking. Allan is based in Southampton, New York.

Erik Brunn Bindslev

Erik’s career spans more than 2 decades in which he has built up a responsible and long-term approach to global business. He is truly at home as a strategic partner for his clients building and managing multi-stakeholder brand building models. Current and past clients include: Linda McCartney Foods (vegetarian food business – London), Lady Carole Bamford and Family (luxury food/lifestyle and fashion/spa – London and Tokyo), HRH Prince of Wales (luxury food and lifestyle – London), COJEAN (high-end foodservice concept – Paris), Hakkasan Group (fine dining restaurant and clubs – London and Las Vegas), BlowToGo (mobile hair services- London)

Erik has lived in São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Paris, Copenhagen and London. He  shares his time between his base in London, Long Island’s East End and travelling around the world.

Ra’Co Tip: Play Hard, Then Work

Play Hard and then Work your Ass Off

Its easy to lose track of the importance of living. Playing is a huge part of that experience and instead of leading with work, leading with play enables a calmness and ability to reset making work an enjoyable experience. It is typical to do it in reserve; start with work and once it is finished you should reward with play. Sadly, the weight of the American Dream is an exhausting, all-consuming experience which requires endless energy leaving very little time and opportunity for little else except rest. But the reality is that the more play you integrate with your life, the less exhausting the work will be.

Play Hard and then Work your Ass Off

Ra'Co Life Definition for

Play: Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Work: Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

 

RaCo Life Direct Experience

Iza & Rache SleepingEveryday I wake up to the sound of my daughters little pitter patter as she climbs into bed with me. I snuggle and play with her for about 15 minutes before we even think about getting out of bed. I call it our “cuddle time” and it some how creates a leveling in my brain. For me it doesn’t have to be a significant amount of time of play before getting down to brass tacks, but it needs to be foundational. With Iza in my arms I get lost in the moment and forget any responsibility we have other than our time together and it creates a clarity I wouldn’t have otherwise. When the alarm goes off and we know it is time to get breakfast and get ready for school and I start my work, it feels like I have already been rewarded. I work extra hard throughout the day because I am so grateful for the 15 uninterrupted minutes with my little girl.

Ra'Co Life Related Post American Dream

Coconut Dusted Crunchy Beet Chips

Beets

RaCo Life Beet Coconut Finished-2

Beets increase stamina by 16%Sweet and crunchy with an incredible texture these little coconut encrusted beet chips will create a whole meaning of tasty. Many people don’t like beets because they taste too much like the earth… but it is probably because they have never had them properly prepared. What’s great about this recipe is the beets start to take on a sweetness… which is a similar quality to caramelization. When you bake them the natural sugar and juices sweat out of the body of the fruit and caramelize on top. It is amazingly healthy and great tasting. The coconut oil helps that process along.

 

Kitchen Tools

RaCo Life Shun 8 inch Knife Damascus

RaCo Life Product Bron Original Stainless Steel Mandoline Slicer 2

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Ingredients

  • Beets
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Coconut Oil
  • Pinch of Salt to Taste

Alternate or Additive: Finely Chopped Raw Almonds

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Directions

This is a super easy, 10 minute prep recipe. Make it and bake it on a low temp around 200º (or dehydrate it – see our blog post on why dehydrating is a preferred method) until crispy and to your liking. Use the ratio of the ingredients based on your desire. There are no rules with this recipe!

We have been making our own veggie chips for years, but they are simple and boring – just a way to quickly get some nutrition and a satisfying crunch into our bodies. This is a recipe worth sharing because it is so simple, but the flavor is so incredibly rich, tasty and fulfilling.

RaCo Life Beet Coconut Top View

Peel and thinly slice fresh, raw beets. The thinner the better with this one for speed, but it depends on how chewy or crunchy you want them to be when complete. The medium sized beets work best for this… the large ones are a bit too large to cut all the way through. Using a mandoline if you have one is the best bet, but not a requirement. Check out this great video on our mandoline of choice the Bron Couke Professonal. You can use a knife.

RaCo Life Beet Coconut Oil and Beets
RaCo Life Beet Coconut in a Bag

Toss the beets in a Ziploc bag with the shredded coconut and a teaspoon of coconut oil for every medium sized beet you have used. Add in your pinch of salt to taste and finely chopped almonds if you are using them. Then zip it shut and “Shake shake shake!”

RaCo Life Beet Coconut Before Baking

Spread out all the beets on a baking tray (or dehydrator tray) and place in the oven (or dehydrator).
RaCo Life Beet Coconut Finished

Benefits

Beet Infographic

  1. Detoxify:

    Support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.

  2. Betaine Packed:

    Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress

  3. Increase Stamina:

    Beets have shown an average increase of 16% stamina in exercise. This is likely due to the nitrates turning into nitric oxide which lowers the oxygen effort required. They are also known for increasing sex drive by being jam packed with  boron.

  4. Reduces Birth Defects:

    Because of the Vitamin B Folate found in Beets, this is a great food for pregnant mama’s to eat to reduce developmental issues in the spinal column.

  5. Lower Digestive Issues and Heal Quicker:

    Beets have been used to cure fever and constipation. Beet leaves are good for speeding up the healing process of wounds.

 

Resources

Ra’Co Tip: Mistakes

Make a lot of mistakes so you can learn

Making mistakes is part of the journey of life and in some way is the more educational route. Often you will learn a new life lesson along the way. But so many of us get caught up in the concept of perfection forgetting that perfection doesn’t lead to a rounded experience overall and that allowing mistakes to happen via risk is often the most important hidden reward.

Make a lot of mistakes so you can learn

Remember to be conscious as your mistake is made, or to reflect on it after the fact if you are not aware during. Be thoughtful about honoring your time and energy required to figure out how you got there and how you will get out of it. Often your intentional path will be adjusted based on your new found learnings.

RaCo Life Definition An act or thought that unintentionally deviates from what is correct, right, or true. 

RaCo Life Direct Experience

 

I left Hospitality Services, Inc work full time for myself building a design studio and to give it a try with a business partner and best friend. We had dreams of building a product line in her namesake and creating a sustainable business. She had no business experience or investment capital and she was weary about getting involved. I pushed her to do something out of her comfort zone and to focus on sweat equity instead of HEARING her say, “No.” The end result was what you would expect; a loss of a 12 year old friendship and a product line in her name that she had no desire to do anything with. We parted ways.

Learning: What I learned from this was to listen better and to really HEAR people. I get it now when someone says, “No” and I back away willingly.

My new path due to my mistake: I realized my friend and I had co-dependent friendship that wouldn’t stand the test of time, and letting it go enabled me to walk away and build a new set of healthy friendships. One of those relationships was Kurt. Another piece of this was realizing that I didn’t want to have a lifestyle product line or to invest in building a brick n’ mortar operation. I wanted to be free from all boundaries to travel and explore. I moved to London right after the end of our business, then onto Ithaca, Beacon, New York City and finally Guatemala.

Trip Advisor Review: Blue Hill at Stone Barns; Change Your Experience

Fresh appetizer

“An Experience That Will Change your Entire Approach to Dining…. Forever.”

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Word of Caution: You will become a restaurant snob after attending Blue Hill at Stone Barns! Be prepared.

During our stay in the Hudson Valley from 2012-2013, we took full advantage of the incredible artisanal bounty produced in our backyard. Blue Hill at Stone Barns was a once in a lifetime experience which truly reshaped our entire vision for what food is or could possibly become to us.

Self-described foodies, we both came into the experience with deep knowledge of farming, growing and organic food, but what we didn’t know is how presentation and flavor could be released with the tiniest bit of added ingredients.

For our Baby Moon (last ditch effort before Baby comes) at 36 weeks we headed off to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. We took the day at the farm to relax and enjoy each other in the sun. We walked the grounds, graced the chicken coop (which is actually like a huge circus tent) and had lunch at the Grain House. We even went for a hike at the state park down the road afterward to make space for dinner.

We had a pretty early seating at 5:30pm, and are so glad that we did. We got there at 5pm and had a cocktail at the bar… talking to the mixologist about the local bitters and other treats they had behind the counter. They have an entirely separate menu of non-alcoholic beverages and it was a perfect experience for me. I was able to get an equally delicious pairing menu with our meal too, that allowed me to not overdue it with alcohol.

When we were seated the waiter came to the table and asked our food preferences. They were very careful to mentally note and repeat all of my food allergies and assured me it was not a problem on any level. We wanted Kurt to still have a great experience, so we asked for them to keep his menu the same. Typically in these scenarios they aim to give both guests the same menu, so it was really special that they accommodated our request. Kurt received gluten, dairy, meat and shellfish and they focused on fish, eggs, vegetarian and gluten free for me. Their gluten free bread is truly exceptional… some of the best I have had.

Our only regret is that we didn’t go when I was less pregnant! Our 4-hour dinner was a robust and filling feat. 3 times in the middle of eating I had to get up and take a 30 minute walk to just be able to fit more food in there. But while we were walking around the terrace at night, the kitchen was lit and in full effect for us to watch on. There must have been 20+ chefs in there, each crafting a deliciously amazing dish and experience for the 100+ guests in the dining room. It was so tremendous to watch and see how they worked together.

Dan Barber’s episode trailer on Netflix.com. Check out the write up on Eater.com to get a better sense of just how revolutionary this chef is to our culture and our future food economy.

The creations, the presentation and the way the staff handled us as guests was what made this experience every bit worth the $500+ for the two of us. We thoroughly enjoyed it as if we had gone to a dinner and a show (which for the record would have been roughly the same cost). It is an experience that stuck with us and one that we intend to return to on our next extended stay to the Hudson Valley.

The mixed reviews we have heard and read are from people who are not interested in ingredients or knowledgeable about taste, presentation or quality. This is not a trendy, NYC experience and not one for someone who likes simplistic foods. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is for someone who wants to truly understand and embrace the preparation of their meal and interested in trying lots of new ways of pulling flavors and textures together. Imagine it like the best food art you have ever experienced and this is going to be the most sacred experience for you!

 

“Just us 3” Family Photoshoot

3 of Us in the Front Door

3 of Us Brand Fam in the Front Door

Thanks to the most wonderful friend and photographer Luis we got totally authentically us shots. We are so happy with the results and it was a ton of fun. Iza kind of hates getting her picture taken, so it was even more fun to see that the photoshoot was of a happy Iza.

Thank you to Bubby for the incredible DKNY tye dye dress that matched mine. It worked out so great. And to Luis for the patience and outrageous results. Perfect! And to Kurtis who I adore and who definitely only did this because it was important to me.

The reason for the shoot is more than just documentation: This shoot is part of my Bells Palsy recovery process to accept my permanent state and capture everything on camera to remember the moment. With Iza in the belly we have maybe 10 photos total from 6 months on because I was too overwhelmed every time I saw my face staring back at me. Now at 90%, it feels like the acceptance has come from a place of personal power. It was so much fun to take these shots and I see true joy in all our faces in the results. I really am so grateful to all my friends and family who have given me positive affirmation over the last 2+ years during recovery. Thank you!

 

From our Photographer Luis Pedro Gramajo: Un día lleno de sonrisas, amor y creatividad con esta hermosa familia, ya están listos para recibir al nuevo miebro de la familia… Los Brand son una familia muy divertida y sobre todo creativa, son fuera de lo común y estoy seguro que esta nueva vida que está siendo puesta en sus manos va a aprender disfrutar la vida cada moneto, espero que les guste…

Translated to English: A day full of smiles, good energy and love with this beautiful family, they´re ready to receive the new member of the family… The Brand’s are a really creative and fun family, I´m sure that this new life that is given to them is going to enjoy every day with them, hope you like it… ENJOY!!!

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Raising Expat Children Abroad While Maintaining their Origin Culture

RaCo-Life-Porta-Antigua-Hotel

During our day in Antigua last Friday, I had the most interesting conversation about raising expat children abroad. The discussion was about raising children outside of our home countries and if they will have a grounded understanding of life on their parents familial soil as if it were their home country. All 3 of the women are part of blended cultural marriages; One was American and her husband Argentinian, another was British and her husband Canadian and the other was American and her husband Norwegian. While I can’t really relate in someways to their concern since Iza is still so small and we have only been here for a year, I can really understand their commentary. Wow! It is crazy complicated to even start to consider this.

In someways this is not that different from the situation with the Libyan’s fleeing their country for Sicily, or from the migration of Africans, Europeans and Britons in the 1800s to America, or from the Dutch’s journey to South Africa in the 30s. We as a human race have been migrating like birds all around the world since we had the knowledge of other lands. We have had to hold onto our own understanding of cultural traditions far beyond 1 generation and as we see the aging population and the promotion of American brands, we are beginning to see a homogenized global population. If we use Walmart as an example – you can nearly find a Walmart or Walmart owned store in every single continent, and in most countries. Likewise with Coca Cola products. Even our American culture is evolving and blending into a global culture, particularly with the very engrained Latin influence.

But in essence this mindset is becoming a less and less of an unusual situation. There are so many blended families and children living abroad these days, many born in the country they are currently living in. These three women have birthed and raised their children completely detached from their home countries and each have filed petitions for birthrights in two home countries, while maintaining a birth certificate from the country they physically had their children in. Since we haven’t had to go through this yet, I am taking their word for the complication and concern they have for their heritage being passed along.

The 5 combined children of these 3 mom’s are absolutely gorgeous. Unlike Iza who is blond and as Eastern European as they come (Kurt 100% German and me 1/2 German and 1/4 Russian and 1 /4 Polish), these children have sunkissed cheeks and an undefinable look. They could be from anywhere; some lighter or darker, some with blue eyes and others with freckles. It is fun to bare witness to such a tremendously beautiful bunch playing in harmony with their combined 4 languages amongst the 5 of them (Spanish as 1st language, English as 2nd language, Norweigan for 2 of them and Katchiquel for those who were raised here in Guatemala). They really look free, unburdened and happy.

But the question the women posed is a tremendously interesting one: will they still have a foothold and a grounded understanding of life on our familial soil? I suppose the first place to start is in breaking down which familial soil they see as primary for their children. With each of their relationships being from different countries, they would have to start with selecting which becomes most important to the family. Is it America or Argentina? Is it Norway or America? Is it Canada or England? Once that is determined, then it would be likely to assume citizenship or birthright VISAs, requiring them to go back and live there for a few years. It would require an understanding of their educational system, national anthem and general holidays, with a continuation of celebration of those holidays from afar (wherever they may be).

Something relatable has to come next and with kids this is a hard one. For example, if you are a die-hard soccer fan and obsessed with one of Briton’s premiere football teams, you may easily pass that onto your child and their country pride will live within that cultural tradition of British pastimes. If your spouse has a similar likeness for a soccer team from their home country it will likely become a competition and the child will have to ultimately choose between your two sports teams (or come up with a new one that he/she likes better). This could cause problems since country pride might be one of the single most important aspects of familial soil. So it is always best to determine as a family exactly what those individual elements are that define your family and belief system. It doesn’t mean that your spouse has to give up their traditions, but you have to ensure that the ones which define pride are related to the primary country you call “origin.”

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is to ensure that the country you have chosen is one that will maintain a level of faith in your family. Currently the travelers fleeing from Libya are seemingly not interested in continuing to spread their country pride to their children due to the turmoil within. But a country like Guatemala is beaming from ear to ear with their win this morning of the resignation of their corrupt president and there is nothing but flags waving high above their heads. Faith has to be maintained and cannot waiver for too long in order to receive longevity of respect.

The Origin Requirement List: 

  1. Select the primary country to identify with as familial origin
  2. File for a right to live there
  3. Educate on core cultural attributes
  4. Promote country pride
  5. Build faith

Kurt and I are in someways lucky to not have a similar concern for our children feeling removed from their familial soil. We are both as American as they come. Both spent much of our childhood in Ohio and our adult life on the East Coast of America, both in Baltimore for significant periods. We are from middle class, Unitarian Universalist families and were raised with alternative thinking, mostly in nature. But what’s interesting is that while we do identify with America as our home, we have both left behind much of our familial origin for a different life. We are Zen Buddhist, live a mostly raw food diet and live in Guatemala. Hardly what we were taught or raised to be. We have been able to make our own choices in adulthood and in someways, some of the experiences and familial origins we were given have pushed us into that direction. We do still identify as American, but we always follow with Expats. So we are American Expats living in Guatemala. I think the 3 women would also agree that they identify as Expatriates from their countries, but again we are all still grounded with a “home.”

What the conversation with the 3 women led to was me determining that there needs to be a level of acceptance that our children likely won’t follow in the path we put out for them, even if we were in our home countries. They are children of a different community, their own global community. As Iza extends into her own future reality as a student of the world, she will be making her own choices. Even if we educate her with pride and build an American familial origin around her life, she can identify however she chooses. If she defines herself as Guatemalan in the future, she will have every right to follow the traditions of Guatemala and leave behind all that we taught her. Crazy to even consider, but honest.

Parenting without Borders

This is one of those concepts that changed my life path forever. Even if we never moved to Guatemala and maintained a lifestyle in NYC, it would be a concept I would follow; a belief that the world is a global, expansive place and everything in it is an opportunity to be taught and learned by our expat children’s fresh minds.

Years ago while I was pregnant with Iza I first came across this book that taught me nearly everything I know about expathood. It is called Parenting without Borders by Christine Gross-Loh, PhD and her experiences changed something in both Kurt and I, shaping the next part of our journey. It was this book that drove us to leave Beacon and move to NYC full time and then onto Guatemala for a family adventure. It will likely also be a future catalyst for another change abroad as our children age into their tween years. We believe fully in the global experience… especially in this day in age.

Christine raised her children all over the world and as a Yale PhD she certainly had the intelligence and wherewithal to conduct a living study. So she did using her 4 kids as the subjects. She interviewed and observed mother’s all around the world in their natural habitats as they raised their children and documented the best of each cultural origin. Her focus was education, but as a component of education she showed the valuable supporting elements like play and friendship, language and cultural traditions. It is tremendously well written and enlightening.

If you are thinking or considering about an alternative lifestyle of any kind, Parenting without Borders is a great book to read and it will really expand your stance on education.

Ra’Co Tip: Be Kind

Our mother’s always told us to treat others as we want to be treated, but now as a parent myself I would like to establish this as “Be Kind to Everyone, No Matter What.” There really are no reasons or excuses why kindness shouldn’t be how you want to be treated, and in life I believe things have been left too esoteric and not direct enough.

The term ‘Kind’ stems from the Germanic root of kin meaning natural or native to. In someways I believe Kind to be a form of truth and wholeness growing from within something. It is also a physical act of doing something for someone else and can be split between being a noun and a verb depending on how it is put into action.

I have had a lot of kindness bestowed upon me in life. First my parents who offered me every opportunity, then wonderful teachers who shared their incredible journey’s with me and finally staff who have doted and cared for me throughout the years. I see life as a journey through acts of Kind, and like others gifts to me of kindness, I always return the favor. My heart is fuller because of it.

Raco-Life-110220-Luca-&-Her-Girls-Before-an-Award-ShowOne story comes to mind which I wanted to share: 
In 2010 as I was ending my marriage to my 1st husband, I had to find a new place to live in London. I looked absolutely everywhere to find a good roommate situation in a non-shit hole. It was honestly a challenge for my price range I could afford. I looked first in some of the hip and trendy sections of town which seemed more affordable, but I came up short. At 28 it seemed I was a bit washed up and out of my league in terms of ‘hipness.’

I found Luca through a roommate site and sent her an email of my situation. After yoga one Saturday we met at the apartment. I was seriously like a scared little girl and I remember at the time I had horrendous acne from stress and allergies. I really couldn’t be in a worst spot emotionally. Luca interviewed me as I had been interviewed 10x before in the other apartments I looked into. Towards the end of the conversation I felt comfortable and more at ease with her so I told her how much I wanted to find a good place to heal. I was broken from living away from home, having lost my partner and was beginning to transition away from a company I built more than a decade before.

She called me later that evening with the decision for me to be able to live with her. This to me was one of the greatest acts of Kind I had received and mostly because it was from her. Luca is a selfless, giving and wonderful friend. She offered me a chance to reset my life and helped to ground me once again. She was going through a similar situation with her long term boyfriend from Australia, so we were two hot single girls living together in a fabulous apartment in Camden Town, North London.

While we have not stayed too much in touch outside of the occasional Facebook message and email, Luca will always hold a special place in my heart due to her kindness.

 

Resources

 

 

Trip Advisor Review: Porta Hotel Antigua Family Friendly

“Family Friendly with the Best Atmosphere”

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This review can be seen on our Ra’Co Life Trip Advisor page.

Combine Parrots, a playground, an enormous heated pool with a 6″ shallow end and wine and you get pure and simple magic for families. This place truly enchants us! They have a glorious outdoor seating area, a spectacular place to socialize and all the amenities you could ask for. This is truly a place that is family friendly.

We haven’t stayed at the hotel, but as far as entertainment goes, this is the place. We go often in the afternoons and have a little glass of white wine and bring our daughter to swim. If we just let her swim we don’t get charged. The playground is pretty much available for playing and the parrots are just next to the playground.

We often meet friends at the hotel to play with. It is so much fun!

If you are visiting Antigua this is really the only hotel to stay at. If you live here, why haven’t you been?!

Click here for their site.

Remedies for Dealing with a Coughing Toddler

Iza Ruby Sick Day in Bed When Coughing

Its 3:47am and we are all up. Iza is having a really hard time getting through the night tonight with her ongoing cough. Many kinds of coughs get worse at night, especially when the air is colder. Iza has had a drippy nose for the last two days and at night when she lays down likely the mucus from the nose and sinuses is draining down her throat and triggering her cough to worsen during sleep.

But coughs are in some ways a good and important sign that a kids body is helping to rid themselves of the cold on their own and they should not be stopped with medicine. It is important for the kid to allow their body to rid themselves (i.e. cough out) the bad stuff.

Ra'Co-Life-Logo-balanced-tag
Proactive care:
Always our preference, but as life flows we sometimes lose sight of the vital aspects of health with our busy days and get off track. If you are up for trying to maintain some level of daily preventative care, here are some of our recommendations:

Lifestyle
• Sleep for 6-8 uninterrupted hours. Your body will tell you what it needs and it might not be the same everyday.
• Walk for at least 30 minutes a day and get your heart rate up high enough to perspire.

Work
• Build a balanced schedule and don’t overdo it.
• Keep stress to a minimum.

Food
• Juice every morning… lots of greens, little fruits.
• Drink tons of water. Limit all other beverages.

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Iza is truly a terrible sick person and she gets that from me. For any parent who has a child who is similar to them, it is definitely hard to watch them go through something you can really relate to. I work extra hard to make sure she is comfortable – almost to a fault sometimes (like permission to have unlimited iPad and bed time) – and I follow a very prescribed formula that can be carried forward quickly to ensure a healthy recovery.

Ra'Co-Life-Logo-balanced-tagReactive Care: My little girl has sadly been quite sick over the last year being in Guatemala. Much of the reason is weather induced as our local climate has very extreme temperatures – we go from hot / dry 80ºF during the day sometimes to a cold / wet 40º F at night. It is like a split, temperate climate where it is a combo of dessert and jungle. Really very strange. Luckily she hasn’t gotten anything other than just a common cold and cough, however.

  1. Bath: Here in Guatemala the local remedy for a common cough / cold via Katy and Claudia would be to bath Iza in a bath of eucalyptus leaves, bugambilia flowers and rosa de Jamaica dried leaves. They would make the water really hot and let all the plants steep in the tub for 20 minutes or so until the temp came down to a manageable temperature. Then they would put Iza in and softly sponge bathe her while she breathed in the aroma of the water concoction. It was pretty unique to watch this local ritual and while it didn’t necessarily cure her, it definitely helped with opening up her air passages.
  2. Tea: Another trick we have used is a little honey, ginger and lemon mixed with warm water. Iza seems to really like this concoction and it isn’t difficult to get her to sip it out of a cup since it is a little sweet. We use a tea spoon and pretend we are having a tea party.
  3. Chest Rub: After the bath it is always a good thing to have a little oil rub down. You can use essential oils or just a coconut butter. This helps to loosen up the mucus before we clear out the nose. Another thing we have done is added a very tiny amount of hot sauce and peppermint to the coconut oil and that makes it like icy hot. Super strange, and should be a very small dosage, but it works!
  4. Clear Out the Nose: If you have one like my daughter, you will struggle to get her to “blow” out the crap on her own. We have this amazing suction thing called the Nose Frida. We also use a humidifier and add aromatherapy to it. Below is an echinacea that can be ingested or used as aromatherapy.
  5. Diet Adjustment: Staying hydrated is the single most important aspect of any cold, but beyond that increasing healthy probiotics and introducing more raw foods will help your child to recover faster. With Iza she is not a fan of green leafy veggies so we give her a healthy dose of probiotics. This helps to maintain a healthy digestion and keep her vitamin K levels up helping to get rid of her cold quicker.

RaCo-Life-Nose-FridaRaCo-Life-ChildLife-Echinacea-TinctureRaCo-Life-RAW-Garden-of-Life-ProbioticsRaCo-Life-VicTsing®-Electric-AromatherapyRaCo-Life-Nutiva-Coconut-Oil

 

 

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When to Call the Doctor (according to Kidshealth.org)
Most childhood coughs are nothing to be worried about. However, call the doctor if your child:

  • has trouble breathing or is working hard to breathe
  • is breathing faster than usual
  • has a blue or dusky color to the lips, face, or tongue
  • has a high fever (especially if your child is coughing but does NOT have a runny or stuffy nose)
  • has any fever and is younger than 3 months old
  • is an infant (3 months old or younger) who has been coughing for more than a few hours
  • makes a “whooping” sound when breathing in after coughing
  • is coughing up blood
  • has stridor (a noisy or musical sound) when breathing in
  • has wheezing when breathing out (unless your doctor already gave you an asthma action plan)
  • is weak, cranky, or irritable
  • is dehydrated; signs include dizziness, drowsiness, a dry or sticky mouth, sunken eyes, crying with little or no tears, or
  • peeing less often (or having fewer wet diapers)

How to Entertain a Toddler for 3 Whole Days

RaCo-Life-Iza-Ruby-Porta-Antigua

Thank goodness yesterday was a Monday… I don’t think I have ever been so happy for the start of the week to come! I was absolutely wiped out from 3 full days with a crazy, emotional toddler. My goodness emotions run high these days! I swear no two minutes are the same and the bouncing from happy to sad to happy to sleeping leaves my head spinning. But on the inside far beneath the facade of exhaustion, I am remembering and relishing in the tiny moments of each of our activities and I wanted to share our very occupied schedule.

This past Friday was a teacher’s development day, leaving a school full of kids and their parents without a place to go. Myself with a few other moms took it upon themselves to develop some level of entertainment to get through the 1st day which would have been our Friday, but then I was on my own!

Friday: 

  • Make a mess while cooking a blueberry pancake breakfast
  • Spend an hour cleaning up the mess after breakfast
  • Swimming, playground and lunch with friends (for 5 hours)
  • Walk around the neighborhood

Saturday: 

  • Early grocery shop, sitting front and center in the cart
  • Jump around in the car as if it was a playground
  • Skype with Abuela
  • Farm tour and find as many things that look like circles as possible
  • Talk about how Iza’s doll is scared of the mouse
  • Play with the iPad for far too long
  • Play with neighbors and then go for a walk and run into more neighbors
  • Take a bath until fingers are wrinkly

Sunday: 

  • Put together a very complicated shelving unit and hide all the screw backs from mommy
  • Spend 2 hours looking for the screw backs
  • Long walk around the neighborhood and fill the stroller up with dirt
  • Hug a tree
  • Float around the house like a butterfly (with one broken wing)
  • Paint a picture
  • Talk about how yesterday the swing backfired and hit her in the head
  • Reorganize toy baskets
  • Take a ridiculously long nap

I spent quite a bit of time researching ahead of time, so I now have a pretty long list of options for our next school closing. This was definitely a trying weekend for me with being pregnant and my poor toes on my right foot feel broken from all the running around after Iza (with the added weight of Zai), but there were wonderfully fun moments embedded into it. I relish in the simple things with this little lady. She is at a very fun age, full of discovery… I get to be apart of that discovery!

RaCo-Tip-Keep-it-Simple

Highlights from the 3 Days:

RaCo-Life-Iza-at-Pool-at-Porta-HotelRaCo-Life-Slide-at-Porta-Hotel

Porta Hotel Antigua for swimming and playground with friends: This is a wonderful pool with a center section that has just about 4″ of water. Perfect for a toddler who wants to get wet, but is not a super fan of wet hair. Oh! And it’s heated. The playground is really an exceptional treat. Iza was just like a big kid playing with Maya Lily.

RaCo-Life-Farm-Visit-Caoba

RaCo-Life-Farm-Visit-Caoba-2Farm Tour at Caoba Farms: The beautiful and serene backdrop is not a joke. We regularly walk the grounds to just enjoy the scenery and to see what is popping up next. Here are our salad greens! Iza likes to find the macadamia shells that have cracked open and pair them together.

RaCo-Life-Neighborhood-Walk  RaCo-Life-Neighborhood-Walk-with-Hands-on-HipsWalking with Neighbors: We love to walk with the Mercer’s in the afternoons, but this Saturday we were fortunate to run into some of Iza’s other classmates. Adoi is in her class and believe it or not he is 6 months younger than her. The kid is absolutely adorable, and very tall. When Iza saw him she went running right up to him!

RaCo-Life-Iza-Dancing-Like-a-Butterfly Dancing like a butterfly: Wings are essential for any little girl – so she can fly! What a fun moment to capture on camera. Iza demanded her “corte” (Spanish word for skirt) and her wings from me, but found the hat in her dress up box all on her own. Coupled with her WHO shirt, I think this kid has some serious style. Our friend Nikki makes these wings if you are interested in them!

RaCo-Life-Iza-Hugging-a-TreeHug a Tree: This is an image from one of the first times we witnessed Iza hugging trees. She just ran right up to them and wrapped her cute little body all over the tree. There has to be something psychologically rewarding about hugging a natural element. Maya Lily and Noah (wonderful neighbors and friends) quickly caught onto the movement and helped to paint the perfect picture of happy children in nature.

RaCo-Life-Iza-PaintingPainting a picture: More like painting with water and a little color! This gal absolutely loves to see water mess something up. Water color paints are by far the best choice and this is a great set provided by my artist mother Jan Ruby-Crystal.

RaCo-Life-Mama-and-Zi-SleepingTaking a nap with Mama: While there was a kick, fight and scream leading up to this perfectly tranquil moment, it was pure heaven for me to be laying with Iza for a 2+ hour nap on Sunday. She is just so squishy and her trust implicit. I love that she is still able to just fall apart in my arms. I know soon that moment will be gone, so I am taking all I can get right now.

My Big Pregnant Debut on Babyweight.tv

I suppose when in Rome, right? This is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, considering Zai is going to be our last pregnancy. I have to admit that it was pretty exciting to be able to participate in something with someone as cool as the owner Micky of Babyweight.tv. A fellow parent at Iza’s school, Micky approached me (I mean ran after me) a few weeks ago during morning drop off and asked that I participate in a video on 3rd trimester exercises. I certainly jumped at the chance to have a new experience like this!

Babyweight.tv-logoMicky Marie Morrison has written a comprehensive book called Baby Weight on managing weight gain and loss before, during and after pregnancy. It offers great exercises and suggestions on how to support yourself physically during the transitional phases you go through. We all know how hard being pregnant is…. so this is a great way to maintain your strength, building up to birth and back to skinny.

After a full review of my efforts, I wish I would have been more prepared to be on camera. Perhaps a practice session in front of a mirror would have helped? I am, however, very proud of myself. What it showed me is my strength and ability to push through the moment of shear uncomfortableness, fighting to stay strong and full of energy. I see an inner confidence with the positions that I guess I haven’t been able to witness before. It’s kind of liberating in a way and now I plan to practice my birthing positions in front of a mirror more regularly.

I definitely realize that TV might not be in my future – especially now that I have Bells Palsy. I noticed the lip movement and the facial structure imbalance much more so on these videos than I see in person in front of the mirror. It was an overcast day, so I could feel my eyes squinting and I wasn’t equip to deal with my mouth, so I was in a bit of a half smile the majority of the time which makes it a challenge to keep my lips together (And also baby pink may not be my color :)).

But, I really enjoyed the moment and especially loved learning a few great positions to work on between now and October.

Go Micky. I love what this woman is doing – so sign up for her subscription service today!

Subscription-Notice-for-Babyweight.tv

Transitioning Away from Work and Into Parenthood

There is a moment in life where you realize you just can’t do it all well. I am in that moment and transitioning rapidly towards a more mommy-focused era.

And work has been very slow over the last year. Lots of industry problems in the food field, and Kurt is in the process of building up his body of work. So there has been a natural progression that has taken over in the last year and it is wonderfully scary and fully of intrigue. We all know it will work out in the end, but we are currently in the growing pains of the unknown.

I am retooling all of it… carefully.

  1. Iza – Managing her schedule so I still have adequate time for me
  2. Work – Targeted, effective connections for profit, not fun
  3. Family – Less traveling, more time just here
  4. Friends – Poignant, supportive relationships
  5. Life – Playing with Iza, creating projects which support her educational development
  6. Food – 1 big enjoyment meal a week and the rest simple, healthy meals

It has been an interesting experience to move away from my typical day to day communication with my work colleagues and clients, focusing on day to day life. I wouldn’t say that I am more relaxed, yet, but I am beginning to live the Ra’Co Life. (That’s a lot of “life’s” in one sentence).

I know that I will only have the captive audience of my children for the first few years and then they will be off running around the universe with their own plan in mind. Already I can see this with Iza as she soars into her own social network at her school. She is less interested in and less available to me when she is home; she is tired, has her own agenda and plays contentedly without my prompts. So, these next few years are crucial to the development of myself, Kurt’s and my children’s familial foundation. What’s a 5 year commitment in comparison to the remaining 60?

Of course this has not been an immediate transition. Some of my preparation for this was done over the course of the past 3 years… starting with closing TILT and going into consulting, and most recently in our permanent move to Antigua, Guatemala. It seems as though finally things are falling into place and we are able to just breathe a little into our current position. Kurt is finally in the studio more regularly, Iza is in school, my work commitments have slowed, we are set up to execute on Ra’Co / Shop for Gluten Free and we are nearing the end of growing a new little Brand.

It is kind of exciting: we are set up and ready to execute.

There are a lot of great advice columns out there on this transition out of work and into life, although I haven’t really felt compelled to read many. In someways I feel like Kurt and I are writing our own book on this since we are creating as we go.

  • One of my favorites has been from Care.com where they help you to establish the mindset of your own Cottage Industry business of raising children; Your Kids, Inc. I think that is pretty clever and exacting for what should be a maintained frame of mind when you leave the work force.
  • Here is an article from the Parent Map which focuses on tips for remaining positive through the transition.
  • And if you are choosing to keep your job, Parenting.com has a bunch of articles on creating a live-work balance with children.
  • Mywifequitherjob.com is one of the better free mini courses you can subscribe too and they have a pretty good blog with some interesting information. It has been helpful in the development of Ra’Co and Shop for Gluten Free.

Recently there have been a number of companies start to go into a formula of unlimited maternity / paternity leave, offering their employees the right to exercise their own level of balance with their families (Google.com and Netflix are two of the biggest and most well documented).

For me, I look at this transition as a chance to reinvent. Beyond being a parent, I have always wanted to write full time, work on my patterns and to build a portfolio of excellent Gluten Free recipes. This now gives me a chance to slow down and refocus my talents where it really counts.

 

5 Ways to Mitigate Pregnancy Challenges

It’s interesting to go through the stages of pregnancy because I can see how quickly the ebb and flow of nature really works. I am like an ocean with changing tides; inevitably I am always going to come back to a calm sea, but there are going to be waves, manmade disruption and natural disasters like storms in between.

For the past 4 days I have really had a rough go of it and while I am nearing the end of my rapidly short rope of patience, I am trying to gently remind myself that it will come around. I still have 6 weeks left which is not an encouraging time span. It feels like it will literally never end, but I know that 6 weeks from now I will be sorry I did not relish in the quiet moments when I could. It is all a balance and test of give and take.

Here are some ways I am trying to deal with it: 

  1. Surrounding myself with strong female supports who have been there and being very directed and clear with my husband about what I need him to support me with (don’t leave it to be a guessing game, ladies. They don’t get it!)
  2. Going for long walks by myself and spending time alone when Iza is at school
  3. Laying in bed as long as I need to and not feeling bad about doing one more thing around the house
  4. Canceling meetings as needed and letting go of the need to do anything
  5. Writing for the sake of therapy and not work

 

Having a toddler makes it even harder

The hardest part has been the emotional upheaval of Iza. I almost feel as though she senses my hormonal and emotional shift and as a result her emotions have mirrored mine. She is a disaster of clinginess and desperation. She is hanging all over me and gravitating to one of our rooms at night (oh yes, we are sleeping in different rooms now so my tossing and turning is done without strain on our marriage), so none of us are sleeping and we are having a really hard time resetting our patience level.

What am I doing about it? I am trying to reason with her and negotiate her journey through all this too.

  • I am trying to keep in mind that she doesn’t understand why I am upset and that the term “Zai” to her means belly. So I am giving her the permission to go through her emotions the same way I need to be supported.
  • I am being patient with her realizing that she may not quite yet correlate that it is a human life in there and that mama is having a hard time supporting all the weight and the changes physically
  • We are taking a bath together every night as a family so she can still climb all over us without having to lift her up
  • We are allowing her the time to talk through and draw out why she is “scared”
  • I am relying very heavily on my terrific new network here in Antigua, Guatemala to help take her mind off it with playdates and activities

 

Even in writing this quick little post, really helped me to relax my emotions for a minute. #5 is maybe the best help of all for me. Check out the post on Tips n’ Tricks for Coping with Baby #2 to get some insight on how to manage all of this, not just the hard parts.

Tips n’ Tricks for How I am Coping with Baby #2 Pregnancy

It’s just how it goes. Round 2 is never easier than Round 1. You know too much, and likely you already have at least 1 other munchkin jumping all over you and emotions are high all around, especially with the existing munchkin.

I have had a terrible go of it from day 1 – nausea, vertigo and exhaustion plagued my 1st trimester and then we spent the 2nd trimester traveling and searching for a new ‘Home.’ Here we are finally in the 3rd trimester and I am already bigger than I was at full term with Iza, I am eating meat and dairy again and totally disgusted with myself, and I have a little girl whose emotions are so out of whack from our combined hormones. And this is all totally normal – in case you were wondering.

The good news it that Zai is extremely healthy and happy. He bounces around all day and night and seems to be progressing nicely. The doctor is very happy with the progress and very reassuring about all the rest.

Likely if you are in your 3rd trimester all of the above will sound normal to you.  Here are some tips on what I am doing to get through and maybe some will be helpful to you!:

  1. Eating tons of frozen fruit. That’s right! I take fresh fruit, cut it up into small pieces and freeze it. With Iza I was obsessed with frozen sweet peas, with Zai it is fruit. I also sometimes make ice cream or popsicles using Coconut Milk and frozen fruit so it is ready to go anytime I am craving.
  2. Yoga, walking and swimming when I can. I take lessons since I am not disciplined enough to do it on my own, and I have worked it out with girlfriends who are also pregnant to keep it interesting. With yoga, I was constantly frustrated with my lessons until I started listening to my body and adjusting accordingly. Don’t be afraid to not do as much, but push yourself when you can.
  3. Complaining often to release the tension. I have prepped my family that this is a unique time in my life and I just need unconditional support and the ability to be self indulgent right now. I have given myself permission to vocalize how I feel even if it sounds like a broken record. It is important to get the feeling out and to not harbor it.
  4. Playing as much as I can with Iza. With the new baby in arms reach I am worried Iza will feel left out. This is a common emotion mother’s go through when they have to begin dividing their love, so I am doing what I can now (against intelligent work decisions) to spend as much time with her as I can. When I need a break, I do offer the iPad and don’t feel guilty about it. Now is the time to balance energy, time and experience.
  5. Isolating our emotions. It has been really hard on my marriage with Kurt to be constantly interrupted by Iza’s crying and her frustration with me, and even harder to not let it effect our relationship. We have had to work really hard to isolate our emotions to the moment we are in and to remember to come back together at the end of the day, regardless of what the day has unfolded. Carving out an hour to splurge on a TV show together goes a long way.

If you want to get in touch to chat about what you are going through, I am here to be part of your tension release program. 🙂

Bins for Days – The Bin Years… Nearly Over

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Kurt left on Tuesday night for our bins the States for the second storage emptying trip. It is a pretty monumental moment for The Brand Fam.

Background
Iza-in-a-BinWe have been living out of bins for the past 10 years – Kurt traveling the country in an RV since 2006 and me moving all around the country and world. In 2012 we did our consolidation of all our stuff from Ohio to Pennsylvania to Massachusetts and moved everything into a storage unit in New York. Since our entire life’s belongings are there. We invested in Bins. Not just any bins, but the best bins out there that we tested to make sure they would hold our stuff and be able to move often. We have been everywhere with our bins. Even Iza has gotten into them! Literally.

Bins
Most Recently

Kurt went back in October of 2014 to collect the bare necessities, but at the time we didn’t know we were pregnant or that we would actually be staying. Now that we are settled, he is home to retrieve everything else except the art. From Dehydrators to Ice Cream Makers, Baby Clothes to our beloved stroller BOB, he is going to be back on Saturday with our material life in his hands. I CAN’T WAIT!

And Ta Dah!
A pretty special moment. We are here in Guatemala and settled. That doesn’t mean that we won’t travel, but it does mean that instead of our permanent residence being a mail house in Florida + a storage facility in New York, we will have a full life here in Guatemala with an address and a house in the same place.

Some Storage Tips
If you are the type to travel or move often you need a plan. Here are some of the things to do:

  1. Start with an assessment of your material value. Does it merit saving?
  2. Determine your storage location.
  3. Invest in a killer Bin. We will have 60 empty ones available if you are interested in getting them when we are back in December or you can buy one through our site.
  4. Have an end game.

 

Some Shipping Tips
On this trip we have spent quite a bit of time analyzing:

Value-vs.-repurchase-vs.-freight

We found that the best way to ship was to limit ourselves to 10 bags and send through the airplane – totaling about $1400. Anything more than that started to weigh against the value of the goods, making it not equal. While we have enough for a container, it is roughly $7,500 + import taxes (which you find out at the border and is 12% off the top + 1-7% depending on the depreciated value of the goods inside). So it makes sense to give away the rest or store it for another 2 years and slowly take things back as needed.

Delta is the best deal all around to Guatemala, but it will depend on the airline in which you are flying. TransCargo is the best deal for container shipping.

 

 

Our New Address Courtesy of Tio Karl

My brother-in-law Karl is by far one of the coolest, most eccentric people I know. He is gifted beyond belief with ideas and individuality of concept. You wonder how things like Star Wars are made? Karl is the kind of person who could invent the story. So, it comes as no surprise that we got a glorious postcard from him today without any indication it was from him… other than the postmark. A little mini piece of artwork if you will.

Hugs, Karl. We love it! And what a better way to announce our new address than through your card:

The Brand Fam
Colonia San Pedro el Alto
Seccion F No. 4-B
Antigua, Sacatepequez 03001
Guatemala

Letter-from-Karl-2Letter-from-Karl

 

 

Finally into our New Abode

Yay! We are finally here and in a place we LOVE. Antigua is the perfect blend of activity and proximity to the big city, with the quiet natural environment we were looking for. It is so weird to be in a place where it feels normal to drive around a big SUV and run in carpool circles, but it has become part of our life adventure for us. We know that we have truly found ‘Home.’

The only drawback so far has been that the house came unfurnished (including appliances) with massive plate glass sliding doors all over the house. The unfurnished part could have been manageable, but an impossible expense for us right now with our current work / life situation (me being 7.5 months pregnant and already have taken off 4 months this year + the remaining 3 once Zai comes) and for the fact that the furniture here is utter crap. But the plate glass issue was unknown until Kurt went through the window the 3rd day in the house, causing quite a physical catastrophe on himself. He was just walking and walked casually through the door! I suppose for it is 10′ x 6′ and only 1/4″ thick, there is no way that it could hold his 6′ frame. We like to say now that he “took one for the team” and we are now quickly replacing all the windows in the house to avoid any further issues.

Here are some awesome pics of the furniture-less house. You can note the exceptional beauty in Kurt’s work. It has really soared over the last year.

Kurt’s studio is coming along nicely and is just a mile up the road in the main part of the town called San Pedro las Huertas. It will be featured shortly. If you are interested in seeing more or purchasing any of the work you see, please reach out.

 

Oh Yeah, We Moved to Antigua, Guatemala

Raco-Life-Antigua-Guatemala-Rache-&-Iza

Finding a place to call home has never been an easy task for either of us since the world is our oyster, but we feel we are narrowing in with our search through the process of elimination. Antigua, Guatemala seems to be where we are really putting down roots. It is about 2.5 hours away from Lake Atitlan and about 45 minutes from Guatemala City. It is flanked by 3 volcanos, 1 of them still very active…. and there is a large Gringo population. We found a Montessori School for Iza and an organic farm close by. All the things that we were desperately missing at the Lake.

We have just come off a whirlwind tour of the United States in April & May, then we had an immediate 10 day stay in Mexico all to seek out what we thought might be ‘home.’

Coming back from the States we were in the hurried frame of mind that comes with the culture of America. Everyone has a very busy, task-oriented schedule with little time to play, exist or just be. Kids have the craziest schedules too with little time for invention and free play schedules. We were so exhausted by the end of it, but recognized the importance of some of the features; Whole Foods, the convenience of having a car, all of our stuff in arms reach, etc.

With our trip to Mexico, we had intended to find an immediate solution, but instead, we gained a lot of perspective on our gorgeous life in Guatemala and realized we wanted to stay. We have support here in Guatemala and that is worth the world to us in both energy and time while we are building our careers.

So here we are, new life to be in Antigua, Guatemala. Another change, another house, another chapter for The Brand Fam. It is a great place for us to be for now and we hope that now can turn into a real future. Wish us luck!

Some highlights: 

Our friends from Embark.org came last year and did a fantastic hike up Volcán Pacaya where they were able to see the shooting lava from Volcán Agua. Very cool and worth looking at!

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The Perfect Moment While Getting the Kid to Sleep

Getting our kid to sleep is one of the most ridiculous rituals.

Now that Kurt has gone back to the Lake to finish packing I am on nighttime duty with Iza, which is normally Kurt’s gig and I am finding that he has created a pattern of insanity.

She requires the normal stuff – bath, brushing teeth, pj’s, 2 books and then her sleep sack just to get ready which is a chore in itself. Then due to her father’s coddling ways, you must lay with her until she is completely sound asleep. When I say sound asleep we are talking about:

  1. 10 minutes of babbling in the dark
  2. Another 10 minutes of flopping around to get out unused energy
  3. 30-45 minutes of spooning in the nook of my arm. (If you move her too early she will wake up after a ‘cat nap’ of sorts and likely not go back to sleep for a little bit, or we have to leave her to cry it out for another 15 minutes which is torturous for everyone.)

All in it is typically about an hour and 15 minutes every night to get this kid to bed.

But in the last few days I have mastered the process by finding this perfect moment: Just when the breathing starts to slow and I can feel her body go limp in my arms, her death grip loosening on my hands, I can transport her to her crib and she will only cry/whimper for a few minutes. It is right around the 10-minute mark (into the 30-45 minute spoon stage), so that buys me at least another extra 20 minutes a night.

A few things have come up in my discovery of this:

  • I am super in tune with my daughter and her breathing now, more so than I wish to be
  • She is the most stubborn, willful child and there is an element of manipulation that I, as a mother have to give into in order to just survive the experience
  • Sleep appears to not be high on her priority list, but somehow it is high on mine
  • My husband is an enabler

🙂 I suppose we all have our own ways.

 

 

 

Back When I Was a Poor Art Student… I Modeled

I’m pretty sure that the cliche of modeling while in college and broke is played out. But, I benefited greatly from 2 years of sitting for a fabulous photographer Stephen John Philips.

He is one of my favorite photographers because he invents and creates the feeling of a painting in his pieces. I have done a bizarre series of Mexican masks, medical instruments, and gymnastic poses… all in a sepia or black and white style. He took a chance on me as much as I did on him, trusting he would show my body with an eye of beauty and not sexual appetite.

As my belly is growing by the day, I love to look at this and remind myself of what my body really looks like underneath the inches of flesh.

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Gay in the Mayan Society?

1 week into living at Joyce’s in San Marcos, our nanny came to work crying having just heard her brother in-law Wilson committed suicide the night before. He hung himself and was discovered by his wife (Teresa). It is hard to say why Wilson did this. He was young (25) and extremely good looking. He had lots of friends and a community. He was a teacher at the technology college in town and spoke English and Spanish. He was well-respected. They had money by Mayan standards and lived in their own house (very rare for newlyweds). He was not a drinker.

Together they have a 3-year old little girl named Aymee who has become one of Iza’s favorite children in the barrio. Since the death, and now nearly a year later, Iza and Aymee are inseparable and adore each other. I have also seen photos of Wilson (beautiful and extremely effeminate (and very good looking) and heard that he had a robust network of friends.

It is hard to say what the reason is, but of course being as close to Aymee’s family as Iza has been, I am curious. Teresa is still sad. Of course she is. Aymee still cries for her Papa in the middle of the night. And we have witnessed a loss of a community member that we never got to knew.

It just doesn’t add up. Speaking objectively, I see no other reason for his chosen end of life other than an affair – it is very common to have affairs in the traditional sense with heterosexual partners (see post on Autohotels), so I speculate that it was an affair of the same sex.

I see Teresa regularly and Iza spends her time regularly with Aymee and the family. They are wonderful people and it is sad to know Wilson won’t ever see his beautiful baby girl grow into a woman. It is sad for us to know that Aymee looses out on a father too.

We will always be curious why he chose to take his life.

Iza y Aymee

Reaching Internally to Find the Balance

Something happened after Iza was conceived, and I stopped reaching out. Instead, I started to focus inward and reengage with the parts of myself which had been lost. In some ways, this was self-protection and also self-reflection on my life to date. It was simply my body and minds way of preparing for parenthood.

I used to do a lot without thinking and would be very reactive to get something off my daily list, instead of really engaging with the experience of what I was doing. I had endless expanses of time and limited accountability for what I needed to be doing and when, but I always felt rushed and didn’t have any time to consider and think things through. I was a procrastinator and also very reactive to the moment instead of the future.

What I have found in my newfound parenthood is my ability to really capture and wander in those rare moments of precious time. The lists are still there, but they are now rolling instead of daily, and my time is constantly expanding as a result. The lack of activity in the evening or morning hours, an eery quiet from the balance of the busy daytime hours is my favorite moment to snag a chance for wandering and this is the time I plan for and give myself to just enjoy.

Something had to give in the midst of all this change and evolution and as a result, I have stopped really reaching out. My wonderful friends from College and London recently united in DC and called me on St. Patty’s Day and me, got a fabulously fun and energetic phone message from the two of them partying it up together. I smiled from ear to ear, but then felt a little sad. I miss the old me some days – the energetic sparkler of personality and zest…. the absolute opposite of a nester. But then I force myself to remember that right now at this moment I am giving myself permission to figure out how to be both the sparkler and the nester. It takes time to perfect and I need to be true to giving time to each stage.

A balance of life ultimately. Right now I am searching for my inner-balance to be true to each moment. After I will get to apply that to the outside world. It is all evolution.

Everything in Life is a Practice

In life, it seems everything is a practice, and no matter what decision or choice we are faced with the practice part is the constant:

  • It is a practice to stay and a practice to go when it comes to my career.
  • It is a practice to be a parent, but the practice also to find a different way without children.
  • It is a practice to love someone, and also a practice to live with them every day.
  • It is a practice to work with a client, but it is a practice to not have any clients.
  • It is a practice to have a family and to have family obligations, and a practice to have a family and not be close.

We are definitely in a ‘searching’ phase of our lives. Some of it might be indecision or misdirection, but a big part of it is a balance. We want to achieve the ultimate level of success by giving ourselves both time and dollars. It has seemed like pushing away from all that we know and graduating to a level of thinking that is not widely supported is both good and bad, but either way, any decision we make is a practice.

Our day to day practice has always put experience first instead of responsibility. We often see responsibility as a roadblock to creativity and one that stifles our opportunity to grow, but we have found recently it does not have to be the case. Responsibility can actually act as a set of boundary lines to help push us forward in a directed manner…almost establishing ground rules.

Perhaps a bit esoteric, but in the months and years to come this will be honed in, refined and ultimately a perfected daily practice; we will master our ability to ‘practice’ over time.

Raco-Life-080000-Kurt-at-RhinzijiPhoto taken at Ren Zhi Ji Mount Baldy. Kurt stands near the infamous Roshi.

Kurt practices Zen Buddhism and maintains at least 2 sesshins a year at the Ithaca Zen Center.

April 15th: Taxes Blow – Unless You Live Abroad

While living abroad we have a much different opinion on taxes. In most other countries, taxes really are put to hard work. They may be more than 2x what the US requires you pay, but in the end, the benefits far outweigh the means. As my brother-in-law puts it, “you don’t have to deal with anything else, which makes the extra dollars worth it.” He has a good point. Who really wants to think about all the other things that we pay for (i.e. health insurance, etc)?

As a US citizen we are required to file taxes until the day we die regardless of where we live, unless we renounce our US citizenship. It is the nature of being from the “Free World.” But there are benefits if you look hard enough.

Filing taxes come every year like clock work… and we work the whole year towards righting our books. We have now a bookkeeper on retainer who supports us monthly with reconciling our Online Quickbooks and an accountant that specializes in International filing. We feel like we have finally gotten together the best support team possible. One of the things that our bookkeeper said to us that we latched onto early on was that in order to make money and to be a profitable business you have to know the whole picture of what you are doing so you can see where to streamline, adjust, etc. She is right.

What we have found has been enlightening: 

  • The US government offers you an exclusion if you live out of the country for 335 days
  • Many of our Quickbooks entries were duplicated from our Bank of America virtual transactions
  • We can classify based on our interest projects so our money can be allocated into buckets
  • We spend far more than we make and now we know why
  • There are great write off opportunities when you are an independent / sole proprietor

We now feel like we are headed in the right direction and are legal, focused and directed… and we have researched the crap out of the global opportunities for being expatriates.

Want to learn more? We are happy to put you in touch with our team.

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IRS Site Information: Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

If you meet certain requirements, you may qualify for the foreign earned income and foreign housing exclusions and the foreign housing deduction.

If you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien of the United States and you live abroad, you are taxed on your worldwide income. However, you may qualify to exclude from income up to an amount of your foreign earnings that is adjusted annually for inflation ($100,800 in 2015). In addition, you can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts.

You may also be entitled to exclude from income the value of meals and lodging provided to you by your employer. Refer to Exclusion of Meals and Lodging in Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, and Publication 15-B, Employer’s Tax Guide to Fringe Benefitsfor more information.

For purposes of the foreign earned income exclusion, the foreign housing exclusion, and the foreign housing deduction, foreign earned income does not include any amounts paid by the United States or any of its agencies to its employees. This includes amounts paid from both appropriated and nonappropriated funds. Also, if you are a U.S. Government employee paid by a U.S. agency that assigned you to a foreign government to perform specific services for which the agency is reimbursed by the foreign government, your pay is from the U.S. Government and does not qualify for exclusion or deduction.

References/Related Topics

Working Towards a Healthy Pregnancy

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For the last 10 months we have been planning and trying to get pregnant again. Now we are 14-weeks in and we are happy to say that we are coasting along nicely. The building-up-to process has brought us back to a place where we feel alive, energetic and healthy once again. We know the importance of elevating our bodies to a host level and remaining in tip top condition as we prepare for making and then growing a child.

We learned a lot during the first pregnancy, and plan to learn more in this next iteration. For each set of parents it is a different and enlightening experience, but we see this as a little guideline to follow.

In the planning and growing of our little Ra’Co people, we do the following 10 things.

  1. Sleep as much as we can, whenever we can.
  2. Drink a ton of water.
  3. Try to keep a simple daily exercise routine.
  4. Eat as many vegetables as possible, especially through juicing.*
  5. Mix it up with different kinds of protein.
  6. Savor sweets. Do not over do it.
  7. Establish a healthy regime. Remain consistent.
  8. Track the experience.
  9. Take supplements when you feel you need to.
  10. Listen to our bodies and give it what it wants. It knows.

Wish us luck![/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”Recommended Supporting Tools” style=”one” element_type=”div”][vcex_spacing][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3129″ onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://www.racolife.com/product/omega-j8004-nutrition-center-commercial-masticating-juicer-white/” title=”Omega J8004 Nutrition Center Commercial Masticating Juicer*”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3995″ onclick=”custom_link” title=”Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body and Soul” link=”http://www.racolife.com/product/jivamukti-yoga-practices-for-liberating-body-and-soul/”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3127″ onclick=”custom_link” link=”http://www.racolife.com/product/excalibur-3900b-9-tray-deluxe-dehydrator-black/” title=”Excalibur 3900B 9 Tray Deluxe Dehydrator, Black”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3162″ onclick=”custom_link” title=”Vitamix 5200 Series Blender, Black” link=”http://www.racolife.com/product/vitamix-5200-series-blender-black/”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]*There have been mixed reviews about juicing with pregnancy. One concern I received from a friend was that it could provide a deficiency in the child after birth if they didn’t receive the same nutrition. I did it 5x a week and only about 8oz and I did it for my whole pregnancy and through nursing. I did not see any negative effects in Iza, only positive. Every doctor that saw her said her color was remarkable. This is only a side and should not be used as a replacement for eating solid foods.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Gluten Free Playdoh Recipe

Playdoh is one of the best kids toys. It can be made quickly and it is simple to manipulate the color and mold into a variety of scenarios. You can also bake it if you want to make something last.

Here is a pretty solid recipe for a gluten free playdoh.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white flour (we prefer our own gluten free mix)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp organic canola oil
  • 1 tbsp xantham gum for elasticity
  • Food coloring (we prefer plant-based ideally from berries)

 

Making-Magic

 

  1. Put all ingredients into a medium size pot and heat on low, stirring continuously. Mix to incorporate well.
  2. When it pulls away from sides it’s almost ready and you should take some out to see if still too sticky; keep “cooking” it until it’s not sticky to handle.
  3. Separate into even sized balls and add food coloring to suit.
  4. Now you are ready to play! If you find it is still too sticky, you may want to incorporate more flour when you’re playing with it, which can be part of the fun process for the kids.

The playdoh works best if you refrigerate after use. Remember that this is plant-based without any preservatives so after a week test it before use again.

Beyond Gender

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]Agender – I am fascinated by the constructs of gender. What makes us think that we have to be defined by one or the other? Isn’t it terribly antiquated to make things so black and white and not consider gray? I am as straight-laced and white as they come, but I still believe in a spectrum for all things. There are extremes in all cases, but most of us live somewhere on the spectrum as far as gender, race, sexual preference, mental disorder, culture, religion and career are concerned.

The concept of neutrality is a beautiful one and I applaud Selfridges for taking on a challenge to illustrate a very physical and iconic element in gender; clothing. Cross dressing has always been a tremendously controversial act and can only be used if an opposite gender wears the opposites clothing. Make no mistake about this one – this is a new dress code focused on blending of form and expert trickery for all. Call it Unisex or call it neutral, but this is going to force a tremendous change in perception.

As a young girl, I had a transgender girlfriend Jen who played on my soccer team. While this ‘girl’ may have had a girl name and hung out with the girls and played on the girls team, she looked just like a boy and played soccer better than all the boys and she was fun and evolved. She didn’t hang onto stupid girl stuff and gossip, she wanted to actually have conversations. As a 6th grader I suppose transgender wasn’t a term I knew yet, but I knew then that Jen wasn’t just a girl… she was so much more. Throughout the remaining parts of schooling the memory of Jen never left my mind – although we had moved away and lost touch.

In College I focused extensively on transgender after having a wonderful literature class on the subject (leave it to art school to continue the expansion) and the learning didn’t stop in the classroom living in Baltimore. Much of the neighborhoods I would pass on my way home from school to Charles Village fell near the brink of North Ave; the historic avenue where non-gender specific or transgender prostitutes would stand on the corner and flag down the passerby. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine did the first transgender operations in 1965 and gave people a chance to voice their inner-selves in an outward change.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” image=”4038″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″]Over the last year I have noticed an increasingly vivid narrative on transgender and gender neutrality. It has filled the airwaves, my inbox and newspapers with brilliantly colorful essays on everything from models to CEO’s to children. What I have learned is that most people really believe that beauty stems from the voice, not the vessel. That the way of the future is limitless opportunity and that labeling is a thing of the past.[/vcex_feature_box][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vc_column_text]We have learned to evolve with race (well most of us educated folks have), why not evolve with gender? Doesn’t telling your daughter that she is a girl and shouldn’t play with trucks put a damper on her development and opportunity to strive to her best place? Doesn’t taking away a doll from a boy and telling him he shouldn’t paint his toe nails or dance ballet force him to leave behind a more evolved sense of knowledge? What seems to be stemming out of the media is not girl or boy, but this idea of an it. All things instead of one thing. We are no longer pinning down and defining either or, we are stating that he/she is actually a we.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]This spring Selfridges in London is “sweeping aside the boundaries of gender” with their new campaign, Agender. This exploration leaves behind the traditional gender stereotyping and offers a chance to build on some of the more poignant headlines over the last year:

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”4040″ alignment=”none”][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]About Selfridges Agender Shop (taken from their site)

Launching in mid-March, a concept space created by designer Faye Toogood will span three floors of our Oxford Street store, offering customers a gender neutral shopping experience complete with non-gender specific collections of clothing and accessories.

Among the unisex lines on offer – many exclusive to Selfridges in the U.K. – will be a capsule collection by Bodymap, the U.K. launch of Nicola Formichetti’s collection Nicopanda, a collection from footwear label Underground and Rad Hourani’s made-to-order couture designs.

Designs by labels including Ann Demeulemeester, Comme des Garçons, Meadham Kirchoff and Gareth Pugh will also feature in the lineup.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vcex_image_grid columns=”3″ thumbnail_link=”none” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”4033,4034,4035,4036,4037,4039″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Story of Us: Date #2 – “Flirtin’ at Maxie’s”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As part 2 of a series of narratives on our family story and falling in love with each other you can see our differences, struggles and general lack of balance.

Excited for a chance to get to know Kurt, Rache had planned to leave work early and head to Maxie’s Oyster Bar just in time for happy hour. During the weekdays it started at 4pm, but that was still an hour or two before the house was packed after leaving work. She always sat at the bar, and that night was no different. She had company with the bartender Maddy laughing and chatting about a variety of things – boys, life, experience, job irritation, etc. She had worked a few times before when Rache was in, so there was context and familiarity. Typically Maddy kept herself busy which allowed Rache to work, sometimes breaking out her laptop on the bar top or other times just reading on her phone.

The menu at Maxie’s may have changed, but it was always the same for Rache: a dozen oysters, a dozen steamed clams (no butter, no bread) and 2 Patron Silver’s neat with limes on the side. In the months coming back from London, Rache had fallen in love with all things potatoes for comfort and also familiarity. Maxie’s had the best waffle cut and seasoned fries on the planet, and at least 1 or 2 baskets made it onto the table. It was her very own well-balanced meal.

She waited until Kurt’s arrival for the food, but the drinks were poured and ready to clink. They were barely just starting to get to know each other and at this point had decided friends and buddies was the best way to go since they were unsure of the next steps in their paths. They were collaborating on a raw food television concept and starting to learn more about each other’s businesses. Tonight was about networking as much as friendship.

Kurt walked in and saw Rache talking to Maddy. Whoops. This was just about to be awkward. He had tried dating Maddy when he was in his ‘exploration process of women’ last year and now here she was chatting up Rache with no idea he was coming to meet her. So, he decided to downplay it.

Kurt sat down, exchanging looks with Maddy and said, “Hi.” So far, so good. He got a drink, and the group chatted, mostly Maddy and Kurt caught each other up. She had been away traveling, so it was good to see her and catch up. It was a natural and easy conversation and it seemed like Rache was participating.

What a waste of time, Rache thought. This was supposed to be catching up with Kurt, talking about ideas for Cook it Raw and getting to know each other. How would she have ever known that Kurt would be friendly with the bartender here, and if she knew there is no way she would have sat at the bar. Meaningless conversation is the last thing in the world that Rache liked to listen too, especially when it was two consenting adults who looked like they were going to fuck on the bar top. This was bullshit.

It has been so great to catch up with Maddy, Kurt thought. It had been a year or so and he forgot how adventurous and fun she is; full of life and travel. It was also really great to be around someone closer to his age and to have a soul searching conversation after having just completed his efforts. He felt important and useful in his banter.  In someways the moment brought back the days on the road in the RV and his mind was lost in consideration of the past voyage to this place.

An hour had gone by and the oysters, tequila and chips were long gone. Since it was a quiet night at Maxie’s there were only a few regulars at the bar, and it was noticeable that Kurt and Maddy were enjoying their conversation and that Maddy wasn’t really focusing on her work. Rache eventually said she was going to go home. She asked for the check, paid politely and wished Maddy well. She turned abruptly and walked out. Kurt sat for a moment and questioned what he missed. Eventually, he bid his farewells to Maddy and followed.

Rache had already gotten to her car before Kurt got out of the restaurant. He hustled to get to her in time before she got into her car and pressed at what was wrong. Rache exploded, “I felt like a fucking 3rd wheel on someone else’s date. I have better things to do and tonight was supposed to be about us getting to know each other.” She opened her car and got in, closing the door and turning on the car.

He had no idea at how she felt about him until that moment, and when he realized he became paralyzed with thoughts, unable to say anything meaningful. So, he just watched the car back out of the spot and drive off into the dark night.

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Story of Us: Throwback: Over the Internet…

It was such a great coincidence. An email came to me from my friend Ryann Levo (one of my Ithacan transplants from Bmore) who found online that this guy went to MICA and was a Raw Food chef in Ithaca. How cool! After a quick Google search on his name (with little that came up), I jumped on the opportunity to reach out and connect. The phone rang into voicemail, so I composed an email to cover all my bases.

I called the next morning at 7am and Rache picked up immediately. From the email, it looked like a great opportunity to get to know someone in a small town who seemed like she had a great business sense and was extremely involved in the healthy food movement. I was definitely itching for a bigger opportunity with Kurt’s Cuisine and this looked promising to collaborate with an expert.

We chatted briefly and connected about getting together at a later date…and Friday seemed liked the day. Both of us were excited, motivated and opportunistic… but neither had any expectation of a romantic interest or anything beyond business: Rache fresh off a breakup and Kurt still reeling from a 2-year Zen stint, completely focused on building a business.

And the rest is history.

The Importance of Reward to Yourself by Knowing You Did Your Best

There is something to be said for the Importance of Reward, especially when you are feeling down.

I woke up this morning and felt terrible. Perhaps a case of the Monday’s but I was in the can’t-get-out-of-bed mode. In addition, I opened my email and got a rejection letter from a pattern organization I really wanted to belong to.

How did you feel this morning? Give me some positive vibes, folks!

Here I am already calling it a day at 8am and watching the Oscars (since it wouldn’t air realtime outside of the States). This incredible show in its 87th year is by far the most intriguing 3 hours of television. It is so well orchestrated and offers a natural close to the end of a movie season. In the past 3 years, I have had the motivation to watch with one of my Step-Sisters attending as a guest of their Aunt Rebecca, and the other two acting as ‘seat warmers’… trying to catch a glimpse of their debut on the red carpet. But this year I actually was excited about the movies and really was curious about the show itself. Neil Patrick Harris is such a great presenter and actor.

It brought up an internal dialogue about why it matters to be rewarded. Does it need to come as an accolade or is the act of the work itself and your own opinion of the outcome enough?

With all that we do – Kurt’s art, my day to day work and this blog with Ra’Co – what actually will be enough for us to feel we accomplished something. Is it followers? Is it the number of likes? This strange world we live in is obsessed with outside accolades, but what if we really like something we did?

Using the Oscars® as the Guideline

The red carpet review started with Michael Keaton up for Birdman as the Best Leading Actor. He called this the “Super Bowl or the 7th inning for the final stretch of the movie.” I had to think about that comment, especially when Julianne Moore said exactly the opposite with her 5th Oscar Nomination within reach. She said, “It doesn’t always happen and I have been in the business for a long time and so I just appreciate when it happens.” She also went onto describe her role in Still Alice and her heartfelt journey through understanding Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of putting emphasis on finding a cure.

What a difference between the two. In someways, I love the raw honesty of Michael Keaton and his need to win, but it is hard to deny the heartfelt heroism of Julianne Moore’s appreciation for her role in doing good. So I started thinking about my loss with the pattern site and what is really important to me.

How we Define Success

It seems to me that there are several schools of thought: 

  1. Do your best because you have pride and want to feel good about what you do. You are a winner for you.
  2. Do your best so you can shine brightly for everyone else’s hopes and dreams. You are a winner for everyone.
  3. Do your best so you can win an award and tick a box. You are the winner.

But it is also the same for a loss.

There are several types of loss which help to support each of those items:

  1. Loss you potentially did not do your best
  2. Loss for everyone’s hopes and dreams
  3. Loss of the award for your own self-esteem and self-purpose

Where I Go From Here

Somehow, in my loss of acceptance, I read the design through the lens of imperfection and I realized I wasn’t doing my best and I wasn’t thinking about the particular company and what they might have been looking for. I am simply rushing my efforts and not acting as a true pattern-maker – I am looking at just ‘getting something done’ for a potential win to tick the box instead of doing the best I could for me.

Tomorrow I will start again and rebuild with the importance of reward at the forefront of my mind. I will position myself with a goal for the creation of a new pattern I WILL FEEL PROUD OF, and that will be enough with or without the acceptance.

The Quiet of an Afternoon Delight

Quiet is about to kick in. Its afternoon… 4:50pm or so and our staff is about to go for the day. Iza is sleeping, the waves are lapping and Claudia and Caty made me gluten-free and lactose dairy-free oatmeal raisin cookies. I am sipping a glass of green tea (which I should not be having so late in the day), and looking out my bedroom window into the voluminous range of mountains and volcanos in front of me. It seems for if only a moment, in this solitude, the world is quiet.

What a pleasure life’s simple moments can give us. I forget that sometimes in the heat of a crazy work day and today is a nice reminder.

El Artesano Wine and Cheese

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There were a million and one reviews and people who have shared their story about El Artesano Wine & Cheese in San Juan. Starting with Joyce even before came to the Lake and then after we were here we heard nothing but great reviews. When my mom and Drew came for a visit we thought this was an ideal time to relish in a free day drinking and relaxing at this absolutely wonderful place.

Let’s start by saying that our dining experiences around the lake have been less than impressive. Now we have extremely low expectations and have found that while people seem to come here with great ideals and aspirations, the locals can’t match the culinary expectations and eventually the efforts fall short. It is not that they are incapable, but historically their food is very simple with light seasonings, so without consciously and carefully educating them you are often left with the local taste. El Artesano far exceeded our expectations here and any other wine and cheese concept in the world.

We really had no idea what we were in for – everyone said it was great, but that could mean a thousand and one things from a thousand and one personalities. We were very pleasantly surprised!

Walking into the entrance felt like we were going back in time to Italy, but with a modern, almost Brooklynesque edge. There were fantastic cocktails and unusual cheeses from around the world. The wine list was to die for with everything from bottles to glasses. The owner was behind the counter with an exacting era-specific hat, and apron with a butcher block table. Dried meats were hanging from the ceiling and the tables were impeccably set with blue-checkered cloths and tiny plates and napkins. The water came in clear jugs and the music was a blend of historic and modern parisian jazz.

The menu is robust and full of delicious offerings. Some with meat, some with light fare and all with unusual cheeses. We were told to only order 2 servings of the cheese platter so we could order other items to enjoy – and we are so glad that we did not order more – it was a HUGE portion. For 6 people 2 servings was more than enough with all the other items we ordered.

It was such an adventure and an extremely worthwhile experience.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vcex_image_galleryslider thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”400″ img_thumb_width=”200″ img_thumb_height=”200″ caption=”true” animation=”slide” slideshow=”true” randomize=”false” smooth_height=”false” slideshow_speed=”7000″ animation_speed=”600″ image_ids=”3799,3800,3801,3802,3803,3804,3805,3806,3807,3809,3811,3812,3813,3814,3815″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Lomas de Tzununa

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Truly the most spectacular views of the lake, Lomas de Tzununa will take your breathe away. It is not an easy feat to get to – it requires a boat and walking up 380 steps, or taking a treacherous tuk tuk ride from Tzununa’s public dock (a ride my step-father Drew will NEVER do again). But when you reach the top you know why it was so much work… beauty doesn’t come easy. Luckily from our house it is just a 15 minute walk and we are at the same altitude, so the effort is significantly less.

We have fallen in love with Maria and Terry’s vision and expert style in our short-time on the lake. They really know how to do something right. it is not only a 280º view of the lake, but it offers the best sunset and best sunrise viewing I have ever seen. Kurt enjoys sitting outside on the deck and playing one of Terry’s fabulous guitars he leaves for his guests. I love having a glass of wine and enjoying the view. Really I could sit up there all day and look out.

We have not stayed at the hotel yet, but we can imagine it is a lovely stay. There is a pool and plenty to do with a spa and lots of walking around the area. The hotel is set into a forest and the buildings are structured like some kind of beautiful Swiss Chalet in the Alps. It feels upscale and yet still comfortable. Kind of the perfect blend of experience.

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The Lake for Lovers…

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]We had a great Valentine’s day as a family… although none of the below happened. Truthfully we are not huge fans of Hallmark Holidays – although with Iza we are finding that it is more and more fun to watch her giggle at the traditions that we have known all our life.

Valentine’s 2016 is a year away, and in light of planning we figured it might be fun to share some of our clever and thoughtful things on the lake. Or maybe some of this will spark a non-Valentines day romantic excursion sometime during the year. We would both agree now is the time to be here. It is calm waters and gorgeous sunrises/sunsets everyday.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Kurt’s mom (Mommalei) sent Iza the cutest Valentine’s package filled with every possible sticker and adorable heart-shaped item you could buy. It was so thoughtful and she adored it. I suppose there is an inherent love for heart-shaped with little girls.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3820″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_text_separator title=”Best Things to Do on Lake Atitlan” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3782″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” img_size=”500×400″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3825″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”left” link=”http://www.racolife.com/la-fortuna-lake-atitlan-review/”][vc_column_text]La Fortuna is absolutely magical. We live here and we still wanted to spend the night! That has to say something, right? The hotel is expertly designed and appointed, setting the tone of some kind of Bali adventure. It was rated #1 most romantic hotel in Central America and #6 in the world. Worthwhile adventure and trip.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”5px”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3793″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3826″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”left” link=”http://www.racolife.com/lomas-de-tzununa/”][vc_empty_space height=”5px”][vc_column_text]Truly the most spectacular views of the lake, Lomas de Tzununa will take your breath away. It is not an easy feat to get to but when you reach the top you know why it was so much work… beauty doesn’t come easy.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”5px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3804″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3827″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”left” link=”http://www.racolife.com/el-artesano-wine-and-cheese/”][vc_empty_space height=”5px”][vc_empty_space height=”5px”][vc_column_text]Walking into the entrance of El Artesano feels like we are going back in time to Italy, but with a modern, almost Brooklynesque edge. It far exceeded all our expectations for what a wine & cheese bar should be (in any country and in any place in the world).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

La Fortuna Lake Atitlan Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We are BIG fans of La Fortuna.

We live here and we still wanted to spend the night! That has to say something, right?

The front building is expertly designed and appointed, setting the tone of some kind of Bali adventure. There were coffee beans drying out in the yard and a beautiful display of indigenous and fruit trees throughout the property. Those who have come to the lake know how rare it is to see mature trees, and La Fortuna is filled with them. Kat and Steve have done a brilliant job of designing their casitas, everything from the mirrors to the outdoor seating and bathrooms has been carefully planned designed and thought through.

From a food perspective we were happy to see that Kat and Steve have done a good job of selecting a decent wine list and considered tasty dishes which were executed beautifully. All my food allergies were accommodated for and Kat was extremely intelligent on the subject. We are looking forward to eating there again soon… even outside of staying there.

We highly recommend coming to La Fortuna, especially if you are looking for a quiet retreat in the woods surrounded by nature with your mate or family. It is beautiful!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_image_galleryslider thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”400″ img_thumb_width=”200″ img_thumb_height=”200″ caption=”true” animation=”slide” slideshow=”true” randomize=”false” smooth_height=”false” slideshow_speed=”7000″ animation_speed=”600″ image_ids=”3771,3772,3773,3774,3775,3776″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3778″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) When Missing Snow

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Not sure this is even possible, but I have the same issue from an opposite cause. I miss snow so much that I think it is giving me my own version of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)! I miss the wet, cold crystals hitting my nose when I am all bundled up, and the feeling you get when you walk into a warm house and everything cold tingles as it warms up and comes back to life. I love the white blankets across the world, remaining untouched in the early morning hours. I miss snow angels and snowballs and sledding. Most of all I miss the winter fashion; my gorgeous coats and fabulous boots, and Iza’s adorable snowsuit.

I have realized that when you grow up somewhere you can’t let go of where you came from. It is the rhythm of the seasons and the smells that bring you nostalgia and a sense of home. Home for me and Kurt might just be a temporary mindset… it where we are for the moment, but real home is where we are from and something neither of us can recreate. Oddly if we look at our past and the places we have lived both of us call Ohio and Baltimore home. The two longest places each of us lived in our youth and young adulthood.

For a sure snow, Rochester, NY is the place to go. My grandparents lived in Rochester and every winter we would homage to Rochester. And every winter there was snow… no matter when we went. It was always a sure thing to find snow on the tip of your nose from December – March. Thinking of those moments feels magical and familiar.

But I suppose Baltimore is where I had the best snow experiences because I loved that it was my house and my life that got snowed in. Always worrying about our roof caving in. The inability to get our Land Rover out of our garage because it is really ill equip to manage real life but somehow can climb a mountain and then lean horizontally at a 45º angle. The rude neighbor that didn’t shovel the sidewalk on purpose, or us who forgot 1 time out of 1,000 and got a ticket. The parties at each other’s house – Charles Baker’s ‘Mid-Winter Bleak Party’ or the progressive dinners to get people moving. I remember getting stuck in a Uhaul when moving out of our apartment in Spinnaker Bay in the middle of the road, blocking traffic. Baltimore under snow is like a world disaster, no one knows what to do and the city shuts down. I remember 1 week in the spring of 2003… I was just finishing up my senior year at MICA, I had lived in my house for nearly a year and there was a tremendous snow storm which shut the city down for a week. Aside from the power being out almost everywhere, it was insanely beautiful. In only a day or two the 4′ snow drifts crusted over and you could walk on top of them wherever you wanted to go. No cars could drive, etc. It was a spectacular sight, moment and memory.

Last year in NYC we had the pleasure of two cars on a city block in Central and then East Harlem in the middle of one of the worst snow seasons. It was impossible to get anywhere even walking and our cars where plowed in every time it snowed. We were hit pretty hard by a plow on one occurrence creating a massive dent in the passenger door that made it nearly impossible to open. Our favorite moments were when little pockets of shoveled out spots were made available and you could just sneak right into a beautiful little buffer. My least favorite moments were the 3 times I got stuck in snow banks and the flat tire I got in the middle of a major highway. We loved walking with Iza through the parks… a kid that simply never gets cold. She loved sticking her tongue out and catching the white crystals. We have so many great memories of her hot little body pressed up in her Boba against us, sweaty as all get-up when we removed her person from ours. So cuddly and cute.

Last year in NYC we had the pleasure of two cars on a city block in Central and then East Harlem in the middle of one of the worst snow seasons. It was impossible to get anywhere even walking and our cars where plowed in every time it snowed. We were hit pretty hard by a plow on one occurrence creating a massive dent in the passenger door that made it nearly impossible to open. Our favorite moments were when little pockets of shoveled out spots were made available and you could just sneak right into a beautiful little buffer. My least favorite moments were the 3 times I got stuck in snow banks and the flat tire I got in the middle of a major highway. We loved walking with Iza through the parks… a kid that simply never gets cold. She loved sticking her tongue out and catching the white crystals. We have so many great memories of her hot little body pressed up in her Boba against us, sweaty as all get-up when we removed her person from ours. So cuddly and cute.

Every day I talk to my colleagues who span the East Coast and while I am grateful in some ways to not have to brave the cold for every second of every day (especially with my Bells, which worsens in the cold), but the crisp, fresh air and the soft little flakes of white are missed. A LOT. It makes me nostalgic, homesick and SAD.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”4″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”600″ image_ids=”3749,3750,3751,3753″][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”4″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”400″ img_height=”300″ image_ids=”3746,3747,3748,3754″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

The Truth

It possible to get ‘SAD’ over missing something seasonal? No. Not that I have read at least. Homesick can be a mental illness, which makes me believe that the concept of ‘missing’ or ‘nostalgia’ is a form of a mental hardship too. In this sense of nostalgia I look at it as holding onto the past so tightly that it is almost like hoarding physical objects. You feel sick to your stomach to let the memory go.

I am joking when I say I have SAD of course, but researching the concept was enlightening and contrary to popular belief about home. I truly believe that home is beyond where the heart is; it is history, family, experiences and memories that can only be repeated at the source.

The featured image photo is by Brandon Remler from his sight, “Thoughts from my Camera.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

When you can’t right the ship…

I am at the end of a very long, very visible 2-year project and there is an uncontrollable issue in my way of completing it. In a nutshell it is the kind of project where we pushed the envelope at every corner only to have it come back around to one of the most obvious and formulaic solutions. An idea that we presented at the first pass and then did everything but that before reverting back to the original idea. But what’s funny now is that the decisions we made for this off-the-shelf very basic solution, is now sitting in the middle of the ocean waiting for dock space during the West Coast Port Shutdown and my products will not make it here in time for the deployment date we had scheduled.

For the last 5 days I have been in a state of panic (with little I could control), and tried every possible other avenue. I started with the obvious working with my supplier to connect with the manufacturer in China to have them reproduce and then air freight. Another road block: Chinese New Year started on Friday and all of China’s factories are closed until the second week of March. We sought and counted inventory from as many suppliers as we could – nada. And now, our final solution has been to go with an entirely different product and redesign at the last minute to support that decision. Awesome.

I have been in the business long enough to think through many of these potential road blocks and make accommodations for them, so a quick dodge to the left or right, or even a zig zag maneuver are always in the back of my mind. When you can’t right the ship (or in this case dock the ship), you should take a deep breathe in and not focus on the ship so much. Instead come up with 3 solutions that could accomplish the same effect.

Extending My Career for Another 3 Years

Yikes. My planning was so far off it’s truly humorous.

This past year and going into this year were projected to be very slow due to the election, a lot of business development and some slowed projects. I imagined flying off to Guatemala, landing on the lake and becoming freed from obligation; surely here living in a foreign emerging country that I would have no access to being able to really do much but relax.

I was pretty busy with several projects when I left, but the end was in sight and our plan was to just coast through the moments of our daily life and work on our own projects, inexpensively. We were planning on just being together and enjoying a year living without the overhead of projects and management of money – we were just going to be on a fixed income.

Well now we know how well this went, we never stopped the bleeding. Just like NYC we continued to live in the moment, instead of the future. We were busier than expected and accommodated for the busyness by nanny’s, assistants and travel, we had to move around because of one bad decision after another with housing selections, so the work pile had to (and did) miraculously grow. I remember sitting at my desk at Joyce’s, and that I would have to remind myself to look up so I could see the view. In someways I even felt resentful of the view and wished we were still in our East Harlem walk up with no view to speak of.

But we got through and here we are. In hindsight the whole situation drove us to our current position; finding a sustainable way for us to live beyond my career. It has given me a continued purpose and practice as I wean myself from my current standing in life and move towards freedom, the conscious, thoughtful and planned way. I am giving myself a 3-year notice.

So here we are in February 2015 (can’t believe how fast it is going already this year) and our transition is beginning. We have stopped the bleeding and are extremely focused on living within our means, paying off debt and planning.

It is exciting and empowering. We are going to do this!

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]This is by far the easiest and most delicious sugar cookie recipe. Modified from Martha Stewart’s holiday cookie recipe, we decided to make it all gluten free, and to remove just a little of the butter, replacing with a coconut butter/coconut manna mixture instead.

I have to admit that over the holidays I adventured back into Dairyland after about 5 years of complete avoidance and it was damn tasty. The repercussions were not so fun (but totally worth it) with my skin and Iza’s getting an itchy rash, and I was so tired from trying to process it all. If you are dairy free, this is an easy recipe to fix up and make without dairy by just eliminating butter and using a the coconut mixture instead.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”3543″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”left”]
[vc_column_text]Cookie Base
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (room temperature)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg

Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp milk
Decorative toppings & food colorings (these can be natural out of pressed and strained berries)

Dairy Allergy or Vegan?
Butter Substitute: Coconut manna with a little almond or hemp milk.
Egg Substitute: 3 tbsp of warm water, 2 tsp of flax seed. Let stand for 5 minutes before adding to wet mixture.
Milk Substitute: Coconut Milk[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”5px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_single_image image=”3544″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”left”][vcex_spacing size=”5px”][vc_column_text]

  1. Put the dry ingredients together and mix around. Put the butter and sugar together and mix thoroughly until it is creamed. Use a hand mixer to do the dirty work for you. Add in the other wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour in the dry mixture slowly while maintaining a steady speed with the mixer.
  2. Create 3 even sized balls and cover. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. Start heating the oven to 325º.
  3. Remove the dough from the freezer and unwrap the plastic. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Put the dough in the middle and place another sheet of parchment paper above. This will help to keep from sticking. Roll out a 1/8″ thick piece of cookie dough. Cut out shapes using a knife or cookie cutters and remove the excess from the cut shapes.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are perfectly golden brown. Remove and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes until cooled.
  5. Make the icing by mixing the milk and the powdered sugar slowly until it is the right consistency. Ice each cookie individually and decorate as you go. If the icing gets hard, add a little more milk.
  6. Let cookies sit out 30-minutes or until dry and then either serve or package using wax paper between each layer.

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Balancing Life with Work

Well, let’s start with I absolutely suck at balancing WORK and LIFE. My business is up and down, all around. Some weeks I am so busy I can’t breathe working from 3am to 9pm ignoring my daughter completely, and other days I can lounge around and answer an email here and there and play all day. The sad part is, they are almost completely equal in time to each other. So I have a balance, but maybe more of an annual balance, not a daily balance. This has made it hard to be a mother and to be consistently available, and to work towards additional career goals. I never know when I am going to have time. Planning seems impossible.

Those who are consultants will understand this statement, but feast or famine is a real thing, and it goes without saying this equates to both workload and money in our pocket. Depending on the project time period, we have to save as though we are living on a fixed income in the event that the next check is late or the project stalls, etc. It is as thought each project wraps without any intention of the next one leaving a lot open for interpretation.  In that case we are often ‘hurrying up’ to stress out about where our next meal is coming from instead of being able to plan and just know that we are in a slow period. Often I just take on any project to stay busy, feeling like the quiet moments are more scary than just not having the work. At the end of the day I know that January – April are slow, as are September and the first part of October. So, why bother getting all worked up?

I am sick of having a minor heart attack every time our bank account gets low or a project doesn’t come through. It nearly always works itself out eventually. So I have made a new vow to myself and my family to take a different path forward. I am calling it my transitional state towards freedom.

To date I have:

  • Saved and become more thrifty. No more $5 lattes or $100 Monday night dinners.
  • Stopped fighting for projects I know are going to lose or have uphill battles.
  • Created a more balanced schedule.
  • Tried to lessen my project load, focusing on making money vs. exciting projects.
  • Only taken on projects that I can complete successfully and are going to be profitable. I’m done with risk taking.

The balance is self imposed and I am the one setting the schedule and my own standards. Wow. That is pretty awesome to write on paper. Part of my journey has been watching Kurt go through it and working with him to be a balanced family. He has never been much of a ‘dive deep and make it happen’ kind of guy. He has always been balanced (as far I can tell) and maybe even teeters on giving more time to life than to his work, which maybe hasn’t been the best idea for his career. Over the last 2 years, however, now that he is in the thick of things with his projects and our passion projects, and a family to support, I have seen a fire under his ass and a desire to work ALL THE TIME. But the sad part is my happy, sweet and loving husband/father now looks miserable. So, I have seen what the stress and frustration of a job without balance will bring to a person and I see what a toll it took on myself.

I have conceded to the idea of working for another 3 years, or until we are profitable with our passion projects, so why not enjoy every moment I am still working? I want to go out with a positive note and a fabulous clink of the champagne glasses, not feel angry and frustrated about 20 years in an industry that I grew up in. And the stress does nothing for anyone.

This morning I am up and working; doing stuff that I love for both my ‘real’ job and my ‘future’ job. I am excited and motivated, but especially thrilled that at 6:00am when my funny little girl opens her door and comes teetering out into my office and says, “Mama…” I can scoop her up in my arms and have as much time as I want to play. I make my own life and schedules now, and it will all work out with the financial stuff  (or I can hope).

Volcan Fuego Explodes in Antigua, Guatemala

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]About 45km as the bird flies, or 75km driving from our house you can land at the base of Volcan Fuego; a still very active volcano nearest to Antigua, Guatemala. On Saturday, February 7th the day that my parents left to head home to the States, Volcan Fuego erupted so much that it clouded the sky in Antigua and Guatemala City closing the airport and leaving a dust of black ash behind. My parents were luckily able to get out in time, with their flight leaving at 3:45pm before the airport was closed.

In the morning hours it has been so foggy and rainy here, which has been a nice surprise and perhaps unrelated to the eruption. Fuego from what we understand has subsided, but it has been extremely active in the past few months, so only time will tell.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_text_separator title=”Related Articles” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” image=”3676″ link=”https://www.facebook.com/conredgt?pnref=story”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3679″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”http://au.ibtimes.com/guatemala-airport-closes-due-fire-volcano-eruption-1419190″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3677″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-09/guatemalan-fuego-volcano-erupts-australian-hikers-flee/6080606″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3678″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_blank” alignment=”none” link=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-31231744″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_text_separator title=”Shots of the Volcano” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vcex_image_galleryslider thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”400″ img_thumb_width=”200″ img_thumb_height=”200″ caption=”true” animation=”slide” slideshow=”true” randomize=”false” smooth_height=”true” slideshow_speed=”7000″ animation_speed=”600″ image_ids=”3684,3685,3686,3687,3688,3689,3690″][vc_column_text]Photos collected from Conrad and Christian Santizo.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_text_separator title=”Video of the Volcano” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/Ms6JOBlX-Zw”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Car Sick Toddler

At any age, I can’t imagine enjoying car sickness. But for a little girl who can’t communicate yet how she feels, our hearts go out to her.

Iza has never been a great traveler. She is so full of energy and it is hard to contain it all. When she was little and we had a carseat, there was an element of containment but she still cried the whole way wherever we were traveling to. She just hated the car. Now that we live in Guatemala and we don’t have a carseat, we have a hard time containing her. I too am regularly carsick which gives me compassion, but also makes it very difficult for me to help her when we are on the road.

While our shuttle or plane is in motion, she is in non-stop motion as if she were at home. It can not only be quite easy for her to just fall off the bench seat or hit her head on another seat, but she also causes major distraction for the driver. To get her to calm down, this typically leads to us handing over her iPad so she can play a game or watch Baby Einstein. But then she asks for food and with her already fixated with her head down it eventually that leads to her throwing up. It has become a cycle.

The worst part is this is impairing us to take her on adventures – thing like the zoo or traveling to the beach, going home, etc. We just simply don’t want her to have a bad day so we eliminate travel from every activity we do. Obviously this is not a long term solution since we are a family on the move.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Find a way to bring the iPad up to eye level with a holder behind the chair. This poses a bit of a challenge in a van because it has bench seats without the headrests. We could probably rig something.
  2. Distract from food by bringing along unrelated toys and not having any food available. Focus on water. She loves stickers so maybe window clings or something that get her to look out the window.
  3. Try to get her to sleep as soon as we leave. Give her cherry juice infused with mint to calm down her tummy.
  4. Stop every half an hour and let her run around for 10 minutes. It will take forever to get anywhere, but it will ground her again.
  5. Never go anywhere without Claudia. She is so good with Iza!

We know the logical thing to do would be to get a carseat and just let her wail. The problem is that it doesn’t negate her frustration (it actually causes it to be more), it bothers our driver and then we have to deal with the carseat as another piece of luggage wherever we go. (For the record we are aware of the safety recommendations and we agree with having a carseat).

The balance with traveling for us is to give her a little of what she might want, with a logical and practical need.

The Arrival of Grandpa

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Finally Drew has made his way to the Lake! This is very exciting for all of us since his son Ian has spent a bit of time in Guatemala and at the Lake over the years. We are so excited to show him around and to have him here.

After a rough ride here, a day later than expected, we got to the Lake on Sunday night. Iza loved all her new animals that arrived and Kurt got an entire suitcase filled with star screws. They were thrilled with their gifts. Yesterday was a lounging day and everyone had breakfast and lunch outside. The water was perfectly calm until about 1pm (can you believe it?!) and we got a chance to go swimming and play in the water.

Today we are off for a trip around the lake to see everything we can. I am excited to have a tour of Santiago (a first) and to get fish from the farm.

More details to come![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”6″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”3620,3621,3622,3623″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Josie’s Gluten-free Deep Chocolate Cake

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]There have been many wonderful people we have met and gotten to know along the way, but our friend Josie is by far one of the most dynamic. And she bakes. We met Josie at the Santa Cruz Market at La Iguana Peridida when we first arrived at the lake. She is funny, vivacious and has a little ‘East Coast Angry’ which makes her real. She is never late to meet someone and she knows what she wants and is not afraid to ask for it; two very rare characteristics of lake dwellers.

Josie came here on a very thoughtful journey… she is what we would call intentional about each and every thing she does. We asked her to work with Iza for 2-weeks just before she heads off to her new life in Hawaii to teach her English and set up a curriculum that our staff could implement. She takes her work very seriously and although she is not a mom or childcare provider Josie met her challenge head on.

This recipe for her famous brownies which made us desperately fall in love with her spirit for life. These are unique and crafted with intention. During Josie’s going away party that we hosted she made cupcake versions, which were also delicious.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”3543″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”left”][vc_column_text]

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) butter or olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup azúcar moreno (sucanat or brown sugar – best for nutrition, or sugar in the raw)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup rice flour in 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup raisins soaked in hot water (enough water to cover completely)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp lime or lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
    Optional: 1 TBSP real strong coffee (espresso is good; instant will work too)

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  1. Heat the oven to 325° F or 162° C
  2. Cream butter/oil and sugar. Add eggs and blend well. Add lime/lemon juice or vinegar.
  3. Put raisins and beans into a blender or bullet along with salt, baking soda and coffee (if using). Blend as well as possible (will be thick). Add to egg and sugar mixture along with rice flour paste and mix real good.
  4. Add cocoa and carefully incorporate. Pour into baking dish and bake. For 4 small cakes will take about 1 hour. You’ll have to check with butter knife at this point to gauge how much longer.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]To Josie,

As you fly off into the sunset and head to Hawaii, know that you always will have friends wherever we are! We will miss you!

Kurt, Rache & Iza[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”6″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”3612,3613,3614,3615,3616″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Iza’s Wonderful Abuela

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”3″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”3595,3594,3578,3582,3581,3583,3580,3586,3585″][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][vc_column_text]We have had the best week. My mom arrived last Thursday and it has been a week of fun, games and a gazillion and one presents.

This woman is amazing! It is her 3rd time here in 9-months and the last two times she has come with a broken foot. With all our stairs it has not kept her down or frightened her away from coming. Two nights ago she even hobbled up the hill to Kurt’s studio all by herself (and this is not an easy feat… it is a vertical mountain climb). She never complains and she is thrilled to spend any second she can with Iza. At home she has another two beautiful granddaughters the same age as Iza and I know it is hard to be away from them when she is here… so it is pretty special we get to have the time with her.

Iza is happy as can be with her grammy by her side. She is learning more English and spending time with activities. And with my mom’s direction, Efrain has been a building frenzy creating a gorgeous easel and 2′ square puzzles. I think next up is a toy chest and more blocks. One amazing gift – a freakin’ Melissa & Doug Dollhouse. Can you believe she brought it in her suitcase? Iza and her friend Amy have been loving it and playing with all the dolls and the house regularly. It is wonderful.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3579″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” link=”http://www.racolife.com/product/schleich-world-of-nature-farm-animals-series-3/”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Last time she came my mom had made Iza the most beautiful farm. She sewed a ‘farm purse’ out of fabric and filled it with premium farm animals from Schleich. Amy loves it as much as Iza does and yesterday she came up to me and asked if she could borrow some of them to play with and bring them back another day. When her mom and I looked into her bag to see what she had taken, it was the whole set![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][vc_column_text]My mom and I are very similar in appearance these days and all the locals love to point it out. It is rare to see white hair on the lake, it is not really that common in the Mayan Community, and she is striking. It is fun to watch people watch her.

We have been to the market and the fabric market and this weekend we head to Antigua and her husband Drew will come to meet us for the next week. It is going to be fun! We have a huge agenda for the next week and I am looking forward to playing ‘tourist’ in a place I love to be.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Up with the Stars

As parents we rarely have the quiet moments available to expand. I have found in the last 6-months the need for earlier and earlier wake up calls to get what I want to get done and often because of our early bed times I just wake up anyway. Writing is my meditation, and in the wee hours of the morning I get a chance for as many moments as I can muster.

I have always gotten up early but what started at 5:30am in America, has quickly turned into 4am here and then 3am. I am literally awake for 3 hours with the stars… their shiny, brilliant-selves offering guidance, purpose and limitless heights of creativity. I get to BOUNCE. I  have 3 or more things in motion and I try to complete all by sunrise. In some ways it has taught me time management, in other ways intense chaos. Each morning is a new experience and with the stars in front of me my expanse for creativity shoots for the ‘stars.’

 

 

Uppababy Stroller… Oh How We Miss You!

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]We bought this by reading reviews and it has not failed! There are several features we think are must-haves.

  1. The silver lining which becomes a sunshade. It is a lifesaver with a very picky toddler who is constantly bothered by the sun.
  2. Storage. Come on, the universe requires crap when it comes to kids. We could NOT live without this basket. I especially love the dividers which allow for a mommy bottle and a baby bottle, or diapers, etc. I have never carried a diaper bag.
  3. Hand extension. My husband is tall, I am miniature. It works for both of us and is a comfortable push no matter what size is in charge.
  4. Packability. This thing goes FLAT! It is so easy to chuck into the car or store in a closet.
  5. Drivability / Kiddie-comfort. The wheels on this bus are hefty. What that means is that our little one has a very smooth ride. It also allows us to manage the cracks in the NYC sidewalks and the paths of Central Park.

There are few complaints, but here are 2 key ones:

  • Collapsing sucks. It requires two hands to delatch this thing and is seriously a pain. With an infant I would have to pop out the seat and put it in the back of the car with her in it, then pray she wouldn’t move too much that she would bounce herself right out of the car. Then use both my hands to delatch. Truthfully a very thoughtless design feature knowing how thoughtful the “pop up into action” (opening it up) is. That effort takes 1 second flat and can be done essentially without hands!
  • Too much visibility into the basket. Since it is a mesh basket, if you put anything in it of value, it is totally visible to the passerby. If it was a opaque nylon and had a drawstring coverlet like the Bugababy, it would be a better all around design.

But those two complaints are nothing in comparison to the absolute awesomeness of this stroller. GET IT!

If you already like Uppababy and are looking at lots of options, here are my two cents: The Uppababy Vista is a waste of money… it is simply too much stroller (unnecessarily so). The Uppababy Lite is great down the road, but doesn’t work for an infant. The Mesa is killer! Go for it and you will have the complete package.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/2″][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”1″ max_slides=”1″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”true” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”false” thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”300″ img_height=”300″ image_ids=”3533,3534,3535,3536,3537″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3538″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” link=”http://www.racolife.com/product/uppababy-cruz-stroller-yellow/”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Will My Bell’s Return?

[vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Years from now I will look back and be grateful for the opportunity to have Bells Palsy. It has given me so much more compassion and offered me a new perspective.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Now as I am headed down towards another pregnancy and as I fall in some ways I’m scared. I am not sure I am ready to get Bells again and to start this journey all over again. There is a lot to be said for recovery and here I am, nearly 720 days out from the onsite of Bells Palsy and I am at about 90%. The last 10% may never return, but I have so much to be thankful for standing here today with a beautiful 20-month year old by my side.

Maybe I am pushing my luck with another?[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3433″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” img_caption=”In the throws of Bells with family in NYC. See the ‘stunned’ look.”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Bells Palsy” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vcex_spacing size=”15px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”15px”][vc_column_text]I have written about this before, but as a quick refresher – Bells Palsy is a reaction spawned by a viral infection which attacks neurological function often swelling a particular area of the nerve-ending resulting in a temporary paralysis. Over time the swelling subsides to a point, and recovery begins. Many people never regain more than 80-90% of full functionality.

There is no cure to Bells, although over time the symptoms will lessen if not completely go away. It typically lasts about 6-months. I got it at 6-months after a 6-week stint where Iza was breech and being outside unexpectedly on a very cold winter day. I probably was already a little sick and that moment put me over the edge.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”3462″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”3461″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][vc_text_separator title=”Symptoms” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vc_column_text]At the onset:

  • Complete paralysis on the right side of my face.
  • In ability to shut my right eye, drink water or breathe out of my right nostril.
  • Extreme pain behind my right ear.

Now:

  • I still have a lazy right eye.
  • My forehead doesn’t ‘squish’ on the right side and I don’t have wrinkles “Hello benefit. I do not look like a Shar-Pei.”
  • Blowing bubbles / balloons, kissing and smiling or putting my lips together I can still feel a stretch on the right side of my face in my mouth.
  • My right eye dims every time I smile.

Before it was like a burst coming from the center of my cheek up and down. My eye would stay wide open and my cheek and mouth would droop downward. Now my eye has the appearance of drooping and my mouth always is a little higher. Interesting how it changed to the opposite. But, I will always have a crooked smile.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Relationship to Pregnancy” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vc_column_text]There is often a strong correlation between pregnancy and Bells Palsy. While it effects men and women equally (according to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine), it is known to effect pregnant women whereas there are a variety of other reasons in men with no real root cause. My theory, when a body is putting all its effort into growing a baby, women have a lowered protective armor against viruses, especially in cold temperatures. Even a virus doesn’t want to disrupt a growing baby, so it fights to take a different form, instead of a form that could be potentially be fatal to a baby in the womb. It is 3.3 times more likely to effect pregnant women than other women and is often thought to be brought on by the hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

It is not caused by stress. 

Surprisingly, I know that when I get stressed now, I feel Bells more intensely. But perhaps that is just my body reacting in my own ways.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”BIG QUESTION: Will get Bells again with the next pregnancy? ” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vc_column_text]No. Actually from what I have read the only way I will get it again is through recurrent lower motor neurone facial paralysis for which there are probably other causes, not an additional viral reaction. This could happen if I have chronic hypertension (which as far as I know, I don’t) or I attract lyme disease… or if I just have really bad luck. The chances, however are much lower in multiple attacks and those with previous histories are not more susceptible to it.

One Case
An interesting article with Net Doctor in the UK, which answers a question posed by a mom with 2 additional cases of symptoms like Bells Palsy after an initial Bell’s Palsy during her 1st pregnancy. While it won’t be fun the second or third time around, there is one primary concern: Each time an attack occurs it is harder to return to normal function. That is where the hardship comes into play. Temporarily it is not such a big deal, but forever is hard to stomach.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_text_separator title=”Value of Change” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”3435″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Was It Worth It?
Absolutely, 100%! Iza is bright, beautiful and full of energy. I have gave her a piece of myself and that makes her so much more special to me. I get to see my old self through her eyes and my new self contains more compassion than I could ever imagine.

Will I Get Pregnant Again?
Hell yeah! And even if I get Bells again, c’est la vie. I am hopefully going to be rewarded with another little person.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Morning Stretches

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Three years ago Kurt injured his rotator cuff doing what most yogi’s do: Overdoing it. He has since seen the error of his ways and with a 30lb toddler to lug around all day he needs his strength and to be limber for those expected moments and the unexpected ones when she leaps into his arms.

This is how he rolls… After his morning Zen practice, Kurt runs through a stretching routine. It is down and dirty, basic and can be done in 20 minutes or less.

  1. BREATHE and follow your Breath the whole way through.
  2. SIT on a chair or the edge of a normal height bed with your FEET GROUNDED on the floor.
  3. BLOOD FLOW: Reach up with your hands, lock them above, drop your head and look up. Repeat up to 5 times in 10 second intervals
  4. RELEASE TENSION: Rest your hands on your thighs. Lean your head to one side and bring that arm up over your head and lightly pull your head towards your elbow. Keep your back straight and your shoulders dropped. Alternate up to 3 times and hold for 5 seconds on each side.
  5. OPEN UP: Cat-Cow is a very popular yoga and gymnastics position and it helps to open up the space through the center of your body. Put your hands under your shoulders, open up your hands into a 5 point star with your fingers forward, keep your knees shoulder width apart with a flat back. Concave your back and look up when you breathe out, breathe in and round your back and look down. Do this 5 times and follow your breathe.
  6. REST: Go into child’s pose. Sit back onto your heals and stretch forward. It is always helpful to have a toddler try to help you.
  7. LENGTHEN: Sit up straight with your feet flexed. Hold this for 15 breathes. Bend forward with your shoulders down and your back flat. You can bend your knees as necessary to get a good stretch. The cheering squad is the best part.
  8. BALANCE: A modified sun salutation into a tree pose is a great way to accomplish two things at once. Bend forward and touch your toes, come up with your hands above you with your fingers stretched out into a 5 point star. Press your fingers together and take them up over your head. Drop one hand grab your ankle and bring it up to the inside of the opposite leg. Bring your hand back up to meet the other hand. Look straight ahead and hold for 15 seconds. Alternate.

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Patterns by Rache

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Since I was a little girl, I was obsessed with pattern-making. It’s actually something my dad and I loved to do together – his analytical / builder-style mind and my creative, inventive child-like imagination. When I draw, I create elaborate graphic scribbles as scenes with dialogues, and I can visualize a transcription to a physical object.

I have had a vision for my future filled with clothing and products like Murakami, Marimekko, Rebecca Atwood, and in recent years OhJoy. Seeing something 3-dimensional made out of a 2-dimensional print is like magic.

Growing up with an uber-artist, creative-extraordinaire my mother Jan Ruby, I learned to never take something for face value. She went to Japan to learn how to make handmade paper from the Japanese masters and then figured out how to print digitally on the paper. For her opening, she took one of her paintings and had it printed onto handmade paper and then sewed it into a dress. That’s what I want to do.

There is a movement towards on-demand printed goods and I have fallen in love with this company called Society 6. Perhaps not 100% perfect in quality, but the overall ability they have to creatI started playing around with my products positioned on each item and  Here are some of my patterns on the products I have available for sale at Society 6. There is lots to browse and to purchase. And more to come where I got started. Stay tuned.

PBR-Download[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vcex_spacing][vcex_image_grid columns=”3″ thumbnail_link=”custom_link” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”3443,3454,3450,3449,3448,3447,3452,3453,3444,3445,3446,3442,3451,3441,3440″ custom_links=”http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache,http://society6.com/patternsbyrache”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Kiss or Bite

These days with Iza we just never know what we are going to get from one second to the next. This Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde behavior model is getting old, real quick. One minute she is all smiles and then next she is on the floor having a full-on meltdown. She loves to kiss arms when she is in a good mood and when she is in a bad one she will bite you as hard as she can. It’s difficult to know what you are going to get with her, and it seems to switch so rapidly.

Of course there are serious concerns with this too. The biggest is that Kurt and I both have diagnosed mental unbalances (although I maintain with medication and Kurt maintains with meditation) and we start considering whether or not Iza will fit in this category and if these are indications… and that is frightening and guilt-ridden. Could she be bipolar?

In actuality, we know that she is a baby and her brain and her body are growing at different stages. She is frustrated she can’t do certain things and she gets angry and crazy when she can’t figure out why things aren’t connecting for her. She lashes out at anything in her path.

The kisses are obvious to show love, but the biting is an interesting choice. I have heard of kids biting before, but it was certainly not what I would have expected.

I suppose we are nearly in the terrible 2’s and nothing should be expected.

Wind Flowing Through My Veins

If you are from the East Coast of America more than likely harsh wind is not something you really think about. Sure there have been moments of windstorms from residual hurricane effects or other changing weather patterns, but it is typically a day or two. I never thought much about wind until now.

And I hate it.

I miss the tranquility. The silence of the night and morning hours is gone, and I can’t handle the constant clanking and rustling of our thatched roof. The dogs are up in arms, the fires are glowing bright and spreading, and power keeps going out. What I think is most frustrating is the consistency. There is literally never a moment without and it impairs our ability to go swimming, hiking, sit outside to eat, have a fire, etc. Rain is so sweet and soft, even when it is pouring there is something very therapeutic about it. Wind is harsh and angry!

When we moved here the Gringo’s told us there would be 6-months of rain and 6-months of perfect weather. We got here at the start of the rainy season, so by November 1st we were ready for sun. We had a pretty good month of November, December and now January has been unbearable. From our employees mouths who are local, we should be expecting this same weather behavior until end of February. Then in March and April it lightly rains regularly. So essentially there is one calm month of the year: May. Or maybe there is something else surprising that will happen.

My rant.

Speech Delays in Tri-Lingual Toddlers

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/9ru7mvrfkPI”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/mSqxJCsI9cY”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]While this might be true for Iza, speech delays during toddler speech development in multilingual households is not the rule. Actually, studies show that it shouldn’t have an effect any development, and it could even help to set up Iza’s brain for better learning in the future.

It doesn’t worry us in the least bit either way, and actually we find it to be a wonderful time for all of us: a confused mess of strange syllables, baby-talk, Katchiquel, Spanish and English. Recently, Kurt decided to start adding in Sign Language to the mix of ‘languages,’ so we have our way of communicating with her… (which is a sure thing and we hope down the road she will have a deeper understanding of the unspoken word, which is very important to us – Kurt’s Zen brother and his wife are both deaf and have raised their child Josiah with Sign Language).

But whether or not she is having a delay in her sentence structure, directives and actual words, the fact of the matter is that Iza loves to talk. At 11-months we couldn’t get her to stop babbling and at 18-months, she has full conversations with herself, her nanny, my assistant and even the cat. She will happily talk to her toys or even the wall, if no one else is around. She could talk all day and all night long and still not say enough. There are even moments when I wish the delay was real and we would be able to have some silence back in our lives, but then of course I slap my own wrist and remind myself of how crazy that is to wish and how lucky we truly are.

And she knows EXACTLY what she is saying. In between her babbles, we find a few words that we know, and our staff seems to understand more of what she is saying since her primary language is Katchiquel. She is very assertive and sure of herself, almost preacher like. In the mornings she likes to go out on the porch, which looks out over the gardens in a similar setting to Simba in the Lion King looking out over the ledge of the rock into his kingdom. She puts her hands up like a preacher and shares everything on her mind to the world below her. It is truly remarkable to watch our very dramatic daughter, taking front and center stage with her voice.

But what is she ACTUALLY saying? We have no idea. We had “Agua” down by 14-months pretty solid, but then she didn’t really say anything we understood until she was about 17-months. Now everyday she learns something new and is more than excited to share it with us. The staff said by around 16-months that she new about 5 words in Katchiquel.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]We have been researching this and am curious to know more about how language effects people, beyond childhood. My grandmother learned Hebrew at 91 and she is as spritely as ever at 94. She is quick and has a memory like an elephant.

So far the best collection of research on this is written by Corey Heller who started the blog on Multilingualism.

…children aren’t exactly having to “learn” twice as many words, like I did in my high school French class.  They don’t have to think about which language bucket to put each word into.  Our bilingual children are picking up something more like packages of sounds that they are hearing around themselves.  They are simply putting the sounds together in the context that they hear them.  As their little brains become more complex, they start to understand concepts like words and sentences and parts of speech. Their main goal becomes making themselves understood and getting others to react to their needs and wants.

[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” content_width=”75%” media_width=”25%” heading_type=”h2″ image=”2453″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″]Corey also provides tons of research from Cornell and other publications focused on multilingualism. She has her own magazine which has great resources: Multilingual Living[/vcex_feature_box][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_text_separator title=”Progress Examples” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/CWGaJpjpqyg”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/r44F-H5zfbI”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Working Out 101

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  1. Set your expectations low.
  2. Know it is going to suck.
  3. Put on workout clothes and shoes.
  4. Stretch.
  5. Have a glass of water.
  6. Move your body for 20 minutes.
  7. Sweat.
  8. Stop.
  9. Lay there for 5 minutes.
  10. Shower

[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_message color=”alert-info” style=”rounded”]You will be surprised. It will not suck as bad as you expected.[/vc_message][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Ideas to Get Moving” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2689″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”15px”][vc_column_text]

  • Walk up and down the stairs.
  • Carry a grocery basket in the store.
  • Scrub every dish in your house.
  • Lift your kids up and down.
  • Weed in the garden.

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  • 10 sun salutations (Yoga).
  • 500 crunches + 10 push ups + 50 lunges on either leg + 20 squats.
  • Light jog and crunches.
  • Hike!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_column_text]Working out is so freakin’ easy and yet my motivation for it has waned. Mornings are for writing, work and organization, and then Iza is awake and moving. There is such little energy left after chasing her, I have no desire to do anything active, which makes me lazy, tired and then even less motivated to working out.

Today is MONDAY: So, I need to get my butt in gear and MOVE. And really, even I read above and it doesn’t look so bad. What the heck, let’s go.

[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”4″ max_slides=”12″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”true” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”true” thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”300″ img_height=”300″ image_ids=”2673,2674,2675,2679,2680,2682,2683,2684,2685,2686,2687″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

34.

Happy Birthday to me.

It’s so quiet outside… the calm before the storm of the fireworks blasting off into the sky. Its 10:30 and I have been creating patterns since Iza went to bed at 7:15 and Kurt at 8pm. Tomorrow (or in 1.5 hours) I turn 34. I have turned off my phones in anticipation of birthday calls from family – a tradition since I could stay awake long enough to see the ball drop. I would love to talk to anyone, but that would disrupt the peacefulness of the moment (potentially waking Iza or Kurt).

I suppose I am not super excited about this year’s number. Years ago I thought to start rounding to the nearest 5th year. So instead of today being 34, I would be 35. Next year I will be 35 too and until 2019 when I will be 40 for 5 years in a row. I never implemented it, but I still think it is a good idea. 34 is not really a milestone, it is just a number. 35 and 40 might be more interesting numbers to dress up for… although I do feel there is much to be celebrated this year, much more so than other years. I have never been happier than I am now, especially in this very perfect moment at my desk, looking out at the silent night with the twinkling stars and the pin dropping silence. It’s awesome.

The biggest celebration for me has been our move to Guatemala. It has taught me patience, the importance of time and the ability to dedicate myself fully to living. 3 gifts I have given myself by opening my mind up to something new. I feel fulfilled. (Of course I wish my time was more free to play with Iza and make things with Kurt, but I know I am still not ready to leave some of the creature comforts I have grown accustomed to.)

Every year on my birthday / New Year I write my goals (really original, I know). I am still working on them, but here is a rough draft for 34/2015: 

  1. FAMILY: Try for another baby, work harder on sign language with Iza, focus more on play for the family.
  2. HEALTH: Yoga every morning and detox more often.
  3. LIFE: Remember how precious time is. Relish in the little moments.
  4. SELF: Stop biting my nails (wow is that ever repetitious – maybe on my list since I was 12)
  5. CREATIVITY: Draw everyday and post something new.
  6. TRAVEL: Visit the States at least once, take advantage of Guatemala and Central America and adventure.
  7. WORK: Go out with a bang!
  8. SIT: Take more breaks, enjoy the view.
  9. EDUCATE: Read more often. There is so much to learn about.
  10. FUTURE: Really focus on all our passion projects to meet our goals for sustainability.

Signing off. Happy Ball Dropping, y’all!

BobaAir, I can’t live without you

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]There are few material things in life that I cherish. The BobaAir is by far the ‘top dog’ on my very short list of things I cannot live without. My daughter has been toted around in a Boba since birth; hiking up mountains from the time she was 2-weeks old, to nursing while on the subway at 6-months, to traveling as an accessory through the jungle at over a year. The first Boba we had was made of organic cotton and while we loved the shape and design of it, the fabric caused us all to get too sweaty.

This new version of the Boba is my magic pack. Rip-stop nylon keeps it light and airy and it has a deeper base which allows for a lot of growth with an older child, or as a little one with their folded legs on the inside. And the best part – way less moisture on both our parts.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”1″ max_slides=”4″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”true” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”true” thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”2351,2348,2347,2346,2345,2344″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_column_text]Now that my daughter is 18-months, at least 3-people a day use the Boba – myself, my husband and her nanny… and sometimes even my assistant. We all quickly can adapt with the easy to manage adjustable straps. In general, getting it on is so EASY! Since it offers us two options: Front or Back, we can use it wherever we go. We throw her on our back like we would a monkey and…. snap! We are a go, folks! Or when we go to crowded places, we can still fit her on the front and that way we can make sure that we can see her all times.

She loves it because it is her safe house. She can just be rocked to sleep in the kitchen, or in a busy crowd she can put her hands inside and be totally protected from the world around her.

The BobaAir seems like a product that we dreamed up and it suddenly appeared on our doorstep. It combines everything we need from a perfect diaper-sized pocket, to a lightweight shape, to a rip-stop material. Perhaps all I would add would be a Camelbak somehow within.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading=”Want to buy the BobaAir? ” heading_type=”h2″ image=”2354″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_url=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.racolife.com%2Fproduct%2Fbobaair%2F|title:Buy%20through%20Ra’Co%20Life%20Shop|target:%20_blank” image_lightbox=”url”]Buy it through the Ra’Co Life Shop, today!

Just fold, zip and stash. That’s the promise of our high-flying, far-roving, light-as-a-feather, there-when-you-need it Boba Air. With this perfectly portable travel baby carrier, there’s practically nowhere you can’t go. Just toss it in your diaper bag, carryon or glove compartment and you have instant access to a simple, supportive child carrier that unfolds or self-stores in seconds. A journey for two doesn’t get much easier than that.[/vcex_feature_box][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-content-right-image” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading_type=”h2″ image=”2343″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_url=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.racolife.com%2Fproduct%2Fbobaair%2F|title:Buy%20through%20Ra’Co%20Life%20Shop|target:%20_blank” image_lightbox=”url”]Racolife-BobaAir-Packing[/vcex_feature_box][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Making of Silence

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]This was written a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t been ready to share it. Honestly – depression was running ramped through the Brand Fam’s Casa Patziac feeling as though we had really made a tremendous mistake. What we found is that through moments such as these, we came together and united as a family… literally getting through.

Silence is creatively empowering, and while power and internet are two essential aspects of our livelihood, it stunts my creativity. I have seen over the past few weeks of in and out power and the past few months without internet, just how creative I can be. I would say I am learning to take lemons and make lemonade. Yay.

If nothing else, as Kurt says, “We have been given a huge bank of source material on the topic of power.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Recent Musings from Days Without Power” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vc_accordion][vc_accordion_tab title=”Learning to Live Without Power, Internet, Phones and People”][vc_column_text]

I would venture to guess that it is due time to begin considering that we actually do live on a deserted island.

This morning around 5am, there was a boom and our power went out. It had been windy for two days, and finally ceased, and then this boom and a sizzle, snap crackle and our night light goes out.

When we actually got out of bed and confirmed the power was in fact out, I called our guardian. He normally says something soothing, but this time he said he would be down in 2 minutes and pointed me in the direction of the casita. Sure enough 2 of the power lines on our property have gone down and they must have just snapped under the pressure of the last few days. Yikes.

The guys came out around 11am to check it out, and I went up to look around. It is blocking the walking path completely with two looped wires laying down, and the rest is a mess within the trees, almost like a scribble in the sky. They are planning on checking this out tomorrow morning, which means that by Monday they will have a plan, and probably by the end of the week we will have power back. I have no great expectations.

We are literally alone, here and unless we want to pack up and go, we are checking ourselves into a weekend, or a few days without power, internet, communication, etc. Awesome.

We had plans, but I felt better canceling them, knowing our food was already going to go bad and that we didn’t have much to offer them by way of music, entertainment, etc. We can just exist in space and time, which is not our usual.

And we are giving it a whirl.

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In my current statement of mind, I am like a forgotten vessel in the bottom of a 1,000 ft. deep lake. We live in the middle of nowhere, without quick access to a town / community, and for days now we have been without internet and now without power. It has given me entirely too much time to think. I wish I didn’t have so much time to think.

Here we have have few acquaintances, few true comrades, and spend most of our days alone, together. There are no evening activities or places to eat out. There are no ambulances or police sirens, or the sound of traffic from cars and trucks. Voices from those on our trail behind our house or from kayakers in front of our house are heard bright and clear. Dogs and birds are heard vibrantly with an eco within our cove. Without internet, we have a lack of information of the world, and limited connection with our family, and without power, we have endless amounts of time.

The days, weeks and now months have gone by away from home, and the time that I promised to give towards my family, work relationships and friends has now extended into 6-months, and now it will be 9-months before we return home as a family, and even that trip might get pushed.

I feel truly disconnected and I really don’t need to be. There are lots of opportunities here for friends and like-minded expats. They are fun and do fun things together. And even when we have internet, I have noticed that I still have a lack of emphasis on connection. I don’t reach out to anyone. I suppose I am becoming a little hermit-like, and it is the balance of our fast paced life in the States.

I also think it is my way of protecting myself and my time from investing in a life here until we know what we are doing in the future. It takes a year to know a place, and 4 years to really make friends, and who knows if we will be here that long. I don’t want to spend unnecessary energy, or to have others spend unnecessary energy building something that will not last. I have done long distance friendships all my life, and I am done with that chapter. I am ready to settle down somewhere, have a significant lease and really settle in.

There is belief deep within that this is a true balance to our future life. This is the time to search internally and to bring ourselves to the next level of our businesses by cultivating our crafts. It is time well-spent, not wasted, and being hermit-like is exactly what we need to do right now. There is much time for friends and activity in the future, in a place we will remain, wherever that may be. For now, being a forgotten vessel at the bottom of the lake is okay. One day I will be found, and like any other treasure chest, I will be flowing with knowledge, freedom and confidence from within.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][vc_accordion][vc_accordion_tab title=”It is Freakin’ Dark”][vc_text_separator title=”Recent Musings on Silence and Lack of Internet” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div”][vc_text_separator title=”Patterns Created During Silence” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div”][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_column_text]

I am not sure I can imagine a cloudy night right now, or being more isolated than we are and not being able to see the twinkling lights from across the lake, but after being without power for now 3 days this week, it is dark. Like darker than I can imagine. There isn’t a light in sight on our property and our batteries are waning on our flashlights and our candles are burning low (can you tell there is a Hanukkah story coming?).

I guess I have never really known what this feels like and it is unique for me to be without. It is also really sacred and a new experience which has given me much; it is endless expanses of soundless moments. Soundless if of course the abstract version of visual. We see much nature, but little else. It becomes a time where your sight kicks in and you see more of what you didn’t see before in your present, internal space (wow, I becoming woo woo).

Now, my ability to love this moment has shifted and I get to see something new within myself. At the beginning of being in Guatemala and experiencing this internal visual, I was scared and full of discomfort all the way up to the brim of my being. Now I am learning to love the darkness, knowing it my shadow of opportunity and the time I have to think and to be alone.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_text_separator title=”Patterns Created During Silence” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”3″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”3022,3025,3026,3027,3028,3030″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”Living with Solar – The Only Way!” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-content-right-image” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading_type=”h2″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image=”3042″]Really, we are never going to be caught dead without having a back up solution in an ’emerging market.’ We are fortunate that we already had a Guatemala City trip planned when things went awry… and it has taught us a good lesson. Always have a BACK UP!

Thanks to my step-sisters, we have a PowerGen which got us started. We have lived on that thing for the past few months when we travel, etc.

Solar GuateBuy-Me[/vcex_feature_box][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”4″ max_slides=”4″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”false” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”false” thumbnail_link=”custom_link” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”3035,3036,3034,3037″ custom_links=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M10YD8W/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00M10YD8W&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=XOJCBWHXMJ5ZCG7K,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M16KLM8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00M16KLM8&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=ENR2YE5OB7PUM47T,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0085OB0IE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0085OB0IE&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=CICH57YJR2BIYAW2,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HKK5VXY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00HKK5VXY&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=O5Z5U3GL2REYTEEJ”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Iza: The Crispy Jew Bu

[vc_row center_row=”” margin_right=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]When you have 8 grandparents you are bound to have a mix of all cultures. Iza is truly a global child being represented by 3 cultural practices. While we are not religious, our families have traditions which we share in, and our own joint practice of Buddhism. This year Iza will experience Christmas (and maybe remember it), Hannukah, and in the New Year she will begin heading towards a meditative yoga practice with us.

She is not unlike most ‘Homelanders,’ who are, by definition, melting pots of worldly experience. Iza is growing up with a knowledge of so many important traditions which are the foundation of history and family… a key element which has been mostly lost to those who grew up as Generation X‘ers and Millennials.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row center_row=”” margin_right=””][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”2944″ alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”][vc_column_text]Christmas comes just 1 time a year, and Easter seems to be a candy coated holiday for kids. Almost everyone on both of sides our family have some relationship to Christianity (except for the Ruby girls.) The Bible is an awesome read if you haven’t read it in a while.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”2945″ alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”][vc_column_text]I was born into a matriarchal Jewish family and as Ruby girl I am bound culturally. If your mother is Jewish, you are Jewish. What I love are the rich stories, filled to the brim with poignant cultural references and valuable lessons… and the fact that food is #1 in cultural tradition.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”2953″ alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”][vc_column_text]Kurt is a Zen practitioner and participates in daily meditation and sesshins as the Tenzo when he can get away to visit his teacher David at the Ithaca Zen Center. I have joined his practice in theory, less so in physical time, but it is our preferred daily commitment.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”2955″ alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”][vc_column_text]Religious exploration has been ever present in our lives. Both our dads have explored Unitarianism but are now staunch atheists. My mom also was a devote Unitarian for most of my life. We have been in many churches, temples and structures with spiritual teachings around the world.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row center_row=”” margin_right=””][vc_column][vcex_spacing][vc_text_separator title=”Unbiased Babe” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vc_column_text]We are lucky that we have a hilarious mess of a child – and in all her shining brilliance she finds a way to flash that million dollar smile to anyone who is willing to look at her and pay attention. She is one with the world and every person in it, without bias, criticism or question. When it comes to religion, culture or practice, she is going to choose what she wants. We are just educating her with various traditions.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row center_row=”” margin_right=””][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2956″ alignment=”none”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2967″ alignment=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row center_row=”” margin_right=””][vc_column][vcex_spacing][vc_text_separator title=”Books for Generational and Religious Exploration” style=”five” element_type=”div” font_size=”16px”][vcex_image_carousel items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”false” thumbnail_link=”custom_link” custom_links_target=”_blank” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”4″ max_slides=”4″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”2961,2962,2965,2960,2963,2964,2972,2979″ custom_links=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1610393503/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1610393503&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=3AYHFYFEQG7PVETP,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0143115154/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0143115154&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=QSCLN5ZGGLHSZN3E,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1433524767/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1433524767&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=SCBJBUQTDT22LS6V,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0671034812/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0671034812&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=UYNHPBS2SDCVIBIE,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1590302672/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1590302672&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=WRBMIQGN5STVILRO,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310286182/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0310286182&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=LGVQRJQM2W6LQSRY,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0807016179/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0807016179&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=QWBU4DHWZV6WHKPY,http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XKN6IC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B003XKN6IC&linkCode=as2&tag=racolifecom-20&linkId=OSJV4DJ22MKAVF6Q,”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Throwback: This Time Last Year

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Honestly hard to believe that this time last year we had a baby and were running around from NYC to Northampton to Vermont to NYC to PA to OH to Ithaca and back to NYC all in a matter of 10 days. It was by far the most interesting holiday, however with lots of highs, lows, family drama, broken down car in Northampton, being locked out of an apartment in Central Harlem in the middle of the night, Chinatown on Christmas Day and even an anaphylactic reaction in the middle of PA. It was a tough moment for the Brand Fam and this year we are going to relish in our peaceful, non-traveling, family alone time.

What was brilliant for us were the bright smiles and warm sparkly eyes lighting up at the sight of our little girl. She is a beloved, happy child and we are so lucky to have shared her first Hanukkah Christmas with all that she loves. From afar in Guatemala we reminiscing and definitely missing being apart of everything, but more than anything enjoying pictures from many holidays celebrated together.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”no-margins” columns=”3″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”3017,3003,3015,3012,3013,3011,3010,3006,3007,2995,3008,3005,3004,3000,3009,3002,2999,2998,2994,3014,3016,3001,2996,2993,2992,2990,2985″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Proposal

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Today we celebrate 2-years married. Wow! I can’t believe how quick it has gone and how LONG it has felt :). Hard to believe that in that time we have experienced as much as we did.

Funny enough, we got married on the fly at the courthouse on a Friday (very us) and we don’t have a single photo, but that’s what makes it so special. It is really a fabulous story – one for the books. I will share another time, but today I want to make note of our proposal.

Kurt and I had gotten to Northampton, after a very intense week of moving and trying to get things in order. It was mid-June and we had just gotten ‘kicked out’ of my mom’s house as a result of them moving, and truthfully an uninterest in having us around for it. We were a little lost – homeless will do that to you. We kind of needed a plan and we had decided to just rent a place temporarily while we figured it out. The place was in walking distance to town and we had a great time roaming around town, arm in arm. It was great.[/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading_type=”h2″ image=”2595″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″]There is a corner candy store in Northampton with every kind of vintage and current candy known to man. Kurt and I love candy. For two foodie / health-nuts, I suppose it is what you would call our ‘guilty-pleasure.’ We just love it. Kurt’s favorite are Jelly Belly’s and mine are Swedish Fish and those grapefruit jelly’s with sour flavor on them (which since I can’t have due to their potent gluten-additives). We bought a little bag of each and went across the street to one of the new bars that had just opened. We sat next to each other at a hightop community table and we had scotches and then red wine with our candy. Yum.[/vcex_feature_box][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_column_text]About halfway to drunk, Kurt leaned in, took my hand, wrapped a Swedish Fish around it and said, “Marry me, Rache. I love you.” And there you go. I think there was a lot of laughing and joking into the night, all the way to drunk. But in the morning, we knew that it was a moment in time that A. we would never get back and B. we never would want to go back in time, just forward.

I love this man. Happy Anniversary, babe![/vc_column_text][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”2591″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Throwback: Weirdest Golf Range, Ever

[vc_row id=”” visibility=”” css_animation=”” style=”” center_row=”” tablet_fullwidth_cols=”” min_height=”” bg_color=”” bg_image=”” bg_style=”” parallax_style=”” parallax_direction=”” parallax_speed=”” parallax_mobile=”” video_bg=”” video_bg_overlay=”” video_bg_mp4=”” video_bg_webm=”” video_bg_ogv=”” border_style=”” border_color=”” border_width=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” margin_left=”” margin_right=”” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”default” columns=”3″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”none” lightbox_caption=”true” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_ids=”2609,2608,2610″][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][vc_column_text]You can certainly tell by these photos that we like each other! Just as we do with most things, we broke up a moving trip by a spontaneous golf range outing. I mean, driving for 4-hours + is no fun without a little road-trip excursion!

It was hilarious to have to adjust the 2 kayaks on top of one of our cars to get out our clubs, and dig to the bottom of a pile of bins in the other car. We had so much fun… and looking through these pictures is a great reminder of how simple and basic fun can be. We made total fools out of ourselves, but hey! Who was there to watch? No one.[/vc_column_text][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” content_width=”50%” media_width=”50%” heading=”Baineridge Golf Range, Somewhere NY: Do It Yourself Golf” heading_type=”h2″ image=”2613″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″]Want to try the adventure for yourself? It is great, you basically roll up into the parking lot, open up the money box (which is totally out in the open) and put enough money corresponding to the bucket of balls that is there. Absolutely hilarious.

Then you pick up a T and a club (or in our case we BYOC), and hit to your hearts content. All on your honor.

The views are absolutely outstanding check this out![/vcex_feature_box][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px” class=”” visibility=””][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”1″ max_slides=”4″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”true” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”true” thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”2612,2600,2607,2601,2602,2603,2604,2605,2606,2614″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Having Staff

I feel like I do more work just to get ready for staff, then it actually helps me. I wish I could say that it is more beneficial and ultimately I get more done, but I think I am such a control freak that all my time is dedicated to planning, thinking and redoing. What a waste!

After having my wonderful team at TILT, who after 3-years of intense work, really ‘got me,’ I vowed to now try to do it again. Really, it was just too much work to keep up with and I really hate having to be on a schedule for someone else’s purposes, and in fact I really like doing the work. Amber Wilburn, a dedicated employee for over 5 years (I think?) started work everyday at 7am, which meant that I had to have notes to her by 7am. I am just not that dedicated to be able to think clearly on a schedule – and at the time I was single and having too much fun the night before to really function at that hour. (BTW – Amber has a blossoming photography business and design studio. She is highly recommended!)

Here we are in Guatemala, and are just learning the language. Coupled with the fact that many of the tasks we are asking to be carried out are new to our staff using equipment they have not had access to before, and it feels like we are spending our time solely on staff education. I would rather just do it myself. I will say, however, it is a pleasure to come home and have groceries in our pantry, a freshly made bed, etc., but it is in the details that matter… and again I am a total control freak. Things out of order or in a different place make me crazy, and Kurt is going nuts from seeing splash marks from painting and weird placement of screw holes in his frames.

But, isn’t our motto – Balance? It should also be patience and I seem to have lost sight of all of it. Time to get it back. There has to be a compromise here that I am missing and I know I will find it.

Today I have nothing for my team to do because I haven’t done my work to get ready for them. I think what would be best is to have a running list of ‘other projects’ that don’t require my time and support to carryout. I need to focus on getting prepared… and making my lists ahead of time (days ahead of time preferably).

Throwback: Our First Supper – I Paid Him to Make It

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Kurt ran a company called Kurt’s Cuisine and part of his deal was a raw food box. I thought that meant that he would provide me with all the tools necessary to make the food for myself. Wrong. The idea was to make dinner for you for an evening. At $60, if you think about what you would pay at a restaurant, that is a pretty good deal for 4 people.

My mom came to town and I wanted to do something special with her. We went to the spa for massages and facials and hung out and had wine, and then we went to Kurt’s to his country house in Newfield for dinner. He had rawked (hahah, raw cooked… I just make that up) lasagna using zucchini and pumpkin seeds, salad, an smoothie of some kind, a side dish I can’t remember and a cashew orange torte. It was delicious, but I found a knife tip in my meal. We had a laugh, and enjoyed the moment.

Being that it was only our 3rd meeting, I didn’t know anything about him yet. He shared his collection of art that he had done and talked a bit about his history. He shared some stories and provided some thoughtful insight to where he was with his Zen practice and his life. My first inclination when I met him was ‘he’s cute, but he likes himself too much.’

This conversation changed everything. He was sensitive and sweet, showed my mom his artwork and genuinely provided him with feedback, and he listened. He was thoughtful. So, at the end of the evening my mom paid the tab of $60 and then I gave him a $20 tip (I am a very good tipper).

As we walked away, she said, “I don’t know why you aren’t considering Kurt as a potential mate. He is great.” And that was that.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”1″ max_slides=”3″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”true” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”true” thumbnail_link=”none” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”500″ img_height=”500″ image_ids=”2470,2477,2471,2466,2467,2468,2474,2475,2472,2476,2473″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_text_separator title=”Make Your Own Raw Lasagna at Home” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”five” element_type=”div”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_single_image image=”2482″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/FgKgI0CAkUI”][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Ingredients
Lemon-Pignoli “Ricotta”
2 cups raw pignoli nuts, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional; available in health food stores)
1 teaspoon sea salt

Tomato Sauce
2 cups good-quality sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed), soaked in water for at least 2 hours
1 medium ripe tomato, diced
1/4 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons sea salt
Pinch hot-pepper flakes

Basil-Pistachio Pesto
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup raw pistachios
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Lasagne
3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
3 medium Heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Garnish: whole basil leaves

.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Cooking Instructions
Lemon-Pignoli “Ricotta”: Place the pignoli, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt in a food processor, and pulse a few times, until thoroughly combined. Gradually add 6 tablespoons water, and pulse until the texture becomes fluffy, like ricotta. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Tomato Sauce: Place all ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth.

Basil-Pistachio Pesto: 
Place all ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth.

Lasagne: Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, shave zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices, then cut in half crosswise. Cut the tomatoes in half, and each half into thin slices. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with two layers of zucchini slices. Brush the zucchini lightly with olive oil, spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce over it, and top with small dollops of “ricotta” and pesto, using 1/3 of each. Layer on 1/3 of the tomato slices, and sprinkle with 1/3 of the oregano and thyme. Add another double layer of zucchini and repeat twice more with the tomato sauce, pesto, ricotta, tomato slices, and herbs. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic and let sit at room temperature for a few hours. Garnish with basil.

Recipe can be found at:

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Casa de Joyce

For some reason we never posted photos of this amazing house. From sunrise to staff, it was the best of everything in Guatemala. There was a time early on, that we would have jumped at the opportunity to buy and put down roots here. But it was bad timing all around, and here we are now. New house in Patziac.

What makes Joyce’s house so special are her dramatic gardens. They are like none other we have seen. She has put time, care and love into crafting different terraces, planting a mix of indigenous and exotic plants and building something truly unique.

We were graced with 3 months in her beautiful house, facing San Pedro Mountain. Her house filled with collections from markets and local craftsman, and some unique features like her chest-high bed. She has some of the best artwork we have seen in all of Guatemala and a terrific staff. We felt at home in her abode and are grateful for her hosting of us. It came at a time when we needed a win here, and we found it at Casa de Joyce.

New York Times Article on Joyce’s House

Joyce Maynard found in a second home a sanctuary for writing, swimming and teaching workshops, until nature took it back. 

LA Travel Article 

As the boat glides through the beautiful waters of Lake Atitlan and around one last rocky outcropping, a dream comes true. Like a shining white gem, Casa Paloma stands out among the deep jungle greens while still somehow existing in complete harmony with its surroundings.

The water at Joyce’s is amazing. The water’s edge is always cleared up and the dock has a very easy to use ladder, which have discovered is an anomaly here at the lake. Because of the lake rising, we have been able to really enjoy jumping in and not worrying about the waters undergrowth coming through. Just like where I spent my summers as a girl, the water here is refreshing, a little chilly and clear. We love it!

Joyce is a writer who has invested most of her career towards romance, intrigue novels. She is best known for her recent movie Labor Day with Kate Winslet, and To Die for with Nicole Kidman. My favorite is her book written when she was freshly at Yale Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties. She is also infamous for having an affair with J.D. Salinger who wrote the The Catcher in the Rye. And she is uniquely a San Marcosian vacation implant for around 15 years, living in New Hampshire and then California for most of her adult life.

 

 

Caged Wild Horses

We came here for two reasons: 

  1. To be able to have time together and be parents
  2. To be able to work without distractions

Kurt and I just realized this morning that we are both depressed and a little “vegetable-like” being here. Depressed? What the F?! We are in Paradise!

But the truth of the matter is, we are able to spend lots more time together and are definitely more engaged parents, but we made a mistake with removing ourselves from distraction. In truth, we love distractions of the right kind – people on the street, sirens from ambulances, music, subway, etc. and stimulation with friends, arts and culture. We miss all of that, and are simply lost without it.

Walking down a NYC street, we see both material and cultural aspirational elements we strive for. Kurt’s name on the program of the Whitney, my name on the next new food concept, etc., a great meal out, a vintage pair of boots, Starbucks, etc. We see possibility to be able to rise from our place on the food chain and are reminded daily of how hard we need to work to even move up a notch. So we work harder, push more and never stop for even a second to breathe. NOTE: we also left NYC for these reasons.

TranquilHere we wake up everyday and it is beautiful, and pristine, and calm. “Tranquilo” is everyone’s favorite word… and it truly is. But, I suppose putting two energetic, manic artists essentially on an Island, away from everything tangible in the world, and making everyday Groundhog Day, is like putting three wild horses in the same cage (Iza is here by proximity). Now take away the internet and our lifeline to civilization. Just imagine our state of mind: a far cry from working.

In the back of our minds we know just how truly lucky we are to be here and that life is our practice. We are going through the depression as a way of letting go, breaking down the barriers and putting us in a strong position to move forward, when we are ready to. The beauty of this place is that time is on our side.

Thanksgiving: Hugging Our Friends & Family From Afar

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/OXS14LSzMy4″][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_column_text]Today is Thanksgiving. I am looking out the window at the lake and a volcano and I am pensive and aware of how far we are from our friends and family. It is not only my favorite holiday, but my moms. The holiday of food. What’s not to love?!

There is much to be said for ‘Thankfulness’ this time of the year. We are truly blessed to be able to have such a huge family. We miss each and everyone one of them and are happy to know that we have shared plates at their Thanksgiving tables over the years, enough to remember and know what they will have today. We certainly have no shortage of places to go, and we would be sad that we weren’t in 5 places at the same time anyway, but we are thinking of each of them.

  • Ohio (Kurt’s family)
  • Pennsylvania (my Dad’s family)
  • Vermont (My Mom’s family)
  • California (My Aunt Glo’s family and My Grammy)
  • Florida (My Aunt Beth’s family – who is normally in California)

While it is exceptionally beautiful here, there is nothing that makes up for the changing seasons and the ability to hug those close to us. We send our love, hugs, happiness and kisses to the wonderful gift of family we have been given. We have a lot to be grateful for this year, and traditionally we do cut out leaves and write what we are thankful for on them.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”2446″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” img_caption=”Kurtis”][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”2447″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” img_caption=”Rache”][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”2449″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” img_caption=”Iza”][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row padding_left=”130px” padding_right=”130px” bg_color=”#efe821″ margin_top=”10px” margin_bottom=”10px”][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”30px”][vc_column_text]

Thanks to all those that touch our lives everyday.

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Meltdown

Wasn’t expecting that this morning. I got up, checked my email, had a beautiful morning writing, went for a swim and took a few moments to take a warm shower. It was a good day, and all before 6:30 (Iza’s wake up time). When Iza woke we had a great time playing in her bedroom and then I got her ready for the day, and gave her breakfast. The staff arrived and I went to go sit at my computer to work and the power just went out. No internet. AGAIN.

We really can’t win – we either have power without internet or internet without power. Every second that we have internet needs to be useable time… and having a moment, a precious moment to myself, without working was clearly just stupid.

So, I melted down. Completely. It was one of those moments that maybe happen 2x decade, where I even threw something for effect (unfortunately I chose to throw my Ray Ban’s across the room for effect – breaking them apart). I literally damaged my spirit by losing control, and really ruined such a beautiful morning. All because I don’t have internet and can’t work.

45 minutes later, on the morning commuter boat, I arrived in Pana in a quiet and peaceful cafe. Not a bad compromise, and while it is not perfect, I feel like it is a good compromise. But… I am still shattered and angry at myself for the disruption, which was so thoughtless on my part.

DSC_0406I have to do better. I have to let go of such silliness, adjust my way of doing things, and instead of flowing with my creative spirit, flow with my internet and power opportunities. I am in an emerging country afterall… and I just need to learn to roll with it. And come on already, check out that view. Really, who cares about anything else?!

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But in good news – Kurt just found me an office space in Pana. Stay tuned. I am going to have a back up PLAN!

Even with a sunrise like this, I am stressed out

What the heck is wrong with me? I woke up this morning a bit out of sorts, and definitely on edge. No apparent reason (perhaps internet issues last night), but it was like I was born with stress in my veins. Around 5:30am the sun started to peak out from behind the mountain, so I came down stairs to share with Kurt who was making me tea. Here we are, both of us sitting here together, in a quiet, peaceful morning, drinking green tea from Tea Trekker, and looking at a gorgeous sunrise cast over two volcanos and a mountain.

And my heart was still palpitating from stress.

The funny thing is, there is no real explanation. I create drama for myself, even if I have nothing to worry about. I seem to not be able to let go and just ‘be.’

When we decided to take this adventure on, away from the busy and full life of the city, and away from our family and friends, I told myself that I was going to hit the reset button on stress and start fresh. I have done pretty well with all that the world, and more specifically Guatemala, has thrown at me, but I suppose at the end of the day that stress is inherent to my soul.

My theory: the concept of Ra’Co has to kick in eventually… and I need to recognize that this is not a dream that I will wake up from, but a new way of life I am giving a whirl. I may not be able to remove stress from my veins, but I can give myself new ways of dealing with it and confronting my own demons of drama.

 

The Original Butcher

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]I have been missing NYC, a lot. As a foodie, there is just nothing like walking into any old place off the beaten path and seeing some new invention or trend hitting the streets. The best part about NYC is that it is the pinnacle. The concepts that are created are perfect for what they are designed for: THE NEW YORKER. Few have tried, and many have failed when trying to go International or even National. When they do leave, they become watered down or transformed into a concept that ‘all of America’ will like. The beauty in the purity vanishes.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vcex_image_carousel style=”default” item_width=”230px” min_slides=”1″ max_slides=”3″ items_scroll=”page” auto_play=”true” infinite_loop=”true” timeout_duration=”5000″ arrows=”true” thumbnail_link=”custom_link” custom_links_target=”_blank” img_width=”350″ img_height=”200″ image_ids=”2310,2308,2309,2307,2397,2399,2400,2402,2403″ custom_links=”http://www.the-meathook.com/,http://marlowanddaughters.com/,http://www.dicksonsfarmstand.com/,http://www.harlemshambles.com/,http://thecannibalnyc.com/”][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_column_text]New York is a unique environment unto itself because a high check average is an expectation. Good quality ingredients is just par for the course because of access to variety. Concepts are designed by emerging and seasoned designers who know their market and how to provide the best possible guest experience. Brooklyn gets the wrap of the “land of millennial food concepts” because the rents are cheap and talent is high. Restauranteurs are willing to take bigger risks in Williamsburg, Red Hook and Dumbo before taking on the bridge to Manhattan. There are rarely crossovers of success sadly, because just like NYC, these Brooklyn concepts are created for Brooklynites (quirky, theatrical, artisanal and a little folky).

When a concept leaves, the essence of is retained in typically 1 menu item and 1 design trait. It might be a conceptual idea like, “haute vintage” or a physical element like a meat hook on the wall. Whatever it is, imagine the essence of all a dining concepts being wrapped up into two easy-to-get traits. Seems easy… but to find a differentiator that will appeal to the whole of America, or the whole of the world, is nearly impossible. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”2395″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]What made me really think about NYC was visiting Antigua. Here we were in a massive indoor/outdoor market, and it is filled with stands which have those quintessential, unequivocal or transformable traits which make up the basis for the trendy restaurants/markets in NYC. It seems as though everything in NYC has been modeled after the concepts in the Market (except with food safety standards in place). This got me thinking, so if NYC is my hub of all ideas, and from there it gets watered down to two easy-to-get traits, I am going to imagine that the ‘street market’ is the original and NYC is the watered down version of it. Incredible to think that NYC is not the hub of all ideas… and in actuality, I can get to the root of the idea from being here.

This comes at a time when I am feeling like my relationship to quality ideas is beginning to blend into average. By being here, my opportunity for good quality restaurants / food is next to none, which has made me start to question whether this move is going to work in the long term. I need to be in Dubai, Mumbai, Rio, and Hong Kong… emerging markets where the west is only beginning to influence, and ideas for newness run rampid. So it was very exciting to be in a place that showed me something new –

Welcome to the East Harlem / Brooklyn meat market. Seriously, everything from the style of the lighting to the guy behind the counter made this space feel like we were back in the streets of NYC (less food safety concerns).[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”The Original Butcher at the Antigua Market” title_align=”separator_align_center” style=”six” element_type=”div”][vc_single_image image=”2406″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vcex_image_grid grid_style=”no-margins” columns=”2″ title_type=”title” thumbnail_link=”lightbox” lightbox_caption=”false” custom_links_target=”_self” img_width=”400″ img_height=”250″ image_ids=”2312,2311″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_video link=”http://youtu.be/WJ9wa8Mj8vA”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

All I ask for is Quiet

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The man cannot be quiet. I mean, he is flat out noisy and it makes me absolutely crazy. How can his balance be Zen Buddhist and meditate for a week without talking, and at home when all I want is quiet in the morning between 4am-6am (and have asked for it repeatedly), and he simply cannot make it happen. He is always interrupting me with a question, turning on a light or looking for something he should have prepared the night before. The problem is willingness, not inability.

This morning was a search for his Crocs. He was looking in his bedside table, in the corner, in the closet, etc. fumbling around and making a total array of noises. I wanted to grab his shoulders and just shake him and say, “Don’t you see me working here? Don’t you know that Iza is going to wake up in 20 minutes and this is the last moment of peace I will have in the day?” But instead I asked him to stop making so much noise. His response was a complete blow up (furthering the noise), saying, “Don’t start fights in the morning, Rache. Just live your life and I will live mine.” Wow, stinging words. I think what he meant was, “Don’t pay any attention to what I am doing, it is not your business and you should learn to ignore me and just do what you need to do.”

Should I? Should I learn to ignore his contribution to my morning, even if it is disrupting? I have been sitting here thinking about it and my conclusion is that he is right (sadly). I should learn to just meditate through is noise and be present within myself to get my needs met. I shouldn’t rely on him being any different than he is willing to be.

Conclusion-LargerMy needs can only be met by affecting myself as I need to and I am disappointed when I expect otherwise. I cannot control the world around me, and should not expect anything to be different than it already is.

But when my blood is boiling, and there is a Buddhist philosophy to note which makes me wrong as does this one, I want to jump out the window and run as far as I can. Perhaps there is another teaching needed here. 🙂[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]

L E A R N  H O W  T O  B E

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Zen

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vcex_feature_box heading=”” image=”2370″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_url=”url:https%3A%2F%2Famzn.to%2F2MDJKTt|title:Buy%20on%20Amazon%3A%20The%20Way%20of%20Zen|target:%20_blank|”]My Uncle Craig gave this book to me when he heard that I was dating a Buddhist. I know he wanted me to figure out a way to sit and enjoy each moment for what it is, which he does exceptionally well.

Buy on Amazon: The Way of Zen by Alan Watts

Alan Watts stands as the godfather of Zen in America. Watts takes the reader back to the philosophical foundations of Zen in the conceptual world of Hinduism, follows Buddhism’s course through the development of the early Mahayana school, the birth of Zen from Buddhism’s marriage with Chinese Taoism, and on to Zen’s unique expression in Japanese art and life. As a Westerner, Watts anticipates the stumbling blocks encountered with such concepts as emptiness and no-mind.

[/vcex_feature_box][vc_empty_space][vc_empty_space][vcex_feature_box style=”left-image-right-content” heading=”” image=”2371″ img_width=”9999″ img_height=”9999″ image_url=”url:https%3A%2F%2Famzn.to%2F2FUTbgv|title:Buy%20on%20Amazon%3A%20The%20Parent’s%20Tao%20Te%20Ching|target:%20_blank|”]Kurt has two Zen Brothers – Josh and Billy. Both are creatives in their own right and understand the importance of solitude and calmness, especially when it comes to child raising. Josh and his wife Leah gave this book to us when we found out we were pregnant. The book has been a lifesaver and given us a rule book to live by.

Buy on Amazon: Parent’s Tao Te Ching by William Martin

William C. Martin has freshly reinterpreted the Tao Te Ching to speak directly and clearly to the most difficult of modern tasks — parenting. With its combination of free verse and judicious advice, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching addresses the great themes that permeate the Tao and that support loving parent- child relationships: responding without judgment, emulating natural processes, and balancing between doing and being.

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Internet in Guatemala, What!?

Let’s just say that the lack of internet in my life has provided me with one of the largest life lessons; “stress doesn’t make it any easier.” Exercising patience is my new motto.

For the last 2.5 months I have not been able to really work. As the primary bread winner for my family, and living in a foreign country with limited opportunity to network, relying solely on my existing contracts and relationships, I require internet for my survival. We require internet for our survival.

1 month of that time was at Casa de Joyce in San Marcos and it was a frustrating mess of dropped and inconsistent service. We had upgraded the service to the highest package available,  but it was rendered useless over the last month (other than a few sporadic uploads and downloads here and there) during the rainy season. This was expected, but also wildly frustrating. (I should note that we are lucky TIGO 3G works regularly and were doing a lot of work from our phones by using it as a wifi hotspot).

Then we moved to Patziac. For a monster set up fee and a monster monthly fee, we were under the impression that we would actually be able to get some level of service. How wrong we were.

So, about a month ago – about 15 days after being patient – I started reaching out to Mayanet, who is our service provider and documenting every time the internet went out. We had about 3 days one week without internet, 1 of those days due to power outages at our house. The last 2-weeks have been an in and out series of “power outages” in San Pedro (I quote it because we look out the window and there are lights, but apparently our internet has its own power?), and a series of other excuses why we don’t have internet:

  • Reason 1: The weather (i.e. clouds) are interrupting the signal
  • Reason 2: A pinch in a wire bringing internet to San Pedro*
  • Reason 3: Power going out in San Pedro, “The infrastructure in San Pedro is messed up and old”
  • Reason 5: The backup system he installed and we paid for (meant to kick in when the normal internet goes out) runs out of money
  • Reason 4: He doesn’t know

Below is an overview of where we are to date. We have spent everything on the left and are committed to the Monthly Payments. Do we move forward with the new Pana Plan? Do I follow through with the My Plan? For a reference, here is what we are paying in monthly rental costs, improvements, etc. so it seems absolutely insane to virtually 3x that cost by adding in a permanent internet structure. But, it is one idea, and may end up being our only one to get consistent service.

The below portrait is a visual of  what our gorgeous house is going to end up having added to it, in order to support our internet need that Carlos has outlined through the Pana Plan. It is terrifying and locks us into this property. But it is a very intriguing and interesting visual. 
Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 1.59.50 PM

While I am not an expert, for shits and giggles, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I called TIGO and had a fantastic conversation in English with a sales rep there. We discussed some opportunities and it might be a potential to work out a situation with the TIGO company.

Funny story though: We don’t have an address here, so when the rep asked me what it was, I had to explain that we are our own little space, no street address, no street, etc, we have a walking path and water! So, he asked me for my coordinates. If you are planning on coming for a visit, you can now search by coordinate:

Area de Uso Multiple Cuenca de Lago Atitlán
Nahualá
14.731739, -91.226821

Casa de Patziac
Jabalito y Tzununa
Panajachel, Solola

Hell yeah. Surviving in Guatemala!

 

*I complained so much and Mayanet called the internet provider so much that the company Claro (yuck) actually ended up looking into the problem. It was effecting tons of people. What?! No one seemed to have a complaint except me? Crazy! I guess people just expect intermittent internet service in emerging countries.

My Little Monkey

This little lady is actually a little lady. I can’t believe how quickly she is changing and how much her life is becoming her own. She runs around and plays on her own, goes up and down the stairs and is just as sassy as she looks. She reminds me a lot of what people tell me I was like, but in the same breathe, I know that Iza Ruby Brand is her own girl.

When I was Iza’s age, my dad always said I would walk into a room and light it up… I would make eye contact with every person, and smile. Iza is also engaging and smiley, with the same uncanny ability to light up a room. She also has her own sparkle that is beyond just engaging – she is a full on clown with a fantastic sense of humor. She loves to see people laugh and she works really hard to make sure everyone knows that she is there and that she wants you to be happy. It started on the subway when she was 4-months old and now at 18-months she is still doing the same thing on the launcha (the public boat).

But we know that there is always a balance: At home, at Iza’s age and beyond – I was a tyrant of complication and darkness much of the time. Many of the pictures you see outside of the house are with bright smiles, and the ones that I have at home (like the featured image in this post) I look bitchy. I suppose there is an explanation for it now, but at the time, I was just a broody kid. Of course we are always watching out for the signs of similarity.

Luckily, Iza is different on the flip side of her happy. She is not dark or complicated like I was, although she does have her moments of switch-hitter behavior. She needs downtime too, and at the present it seems as though Baby Einstein has been doing the trick lately. I would venture to guess that she is pretty normal – She is light and free of sadness and worry. And like most kids, she goes from clown to exhausted in 1 minute flat.

It is fun to reflect on our differences and similarities, especially since everyone that knows us both says we have wildly similar personalities and facial structures. For me, I just love this little monkey exactly for who she is.

My-Monkey

Procrastination: 101

I am a PROCRASTINATOR. I try to get around it by playing little tricks on myself, but it is hardly possible to overcome it. I live and die behind deadlines as a means to a way to overcome procrastination. I mean, I am not alone in this, but it is still annoying (check out this cool Zen book of practical tactics).

Here I am, 4am on a Tuesday… 6 weeks late on a project and look at me, I am still procrastinating. That’s weird. I have excuses out the ass for the delays and of course many of them are real and actual. But it is kind of crazy that I am still procrastinating. And the worst part is – I actually like what I am doing.

Seriously.

Okay, so now I am going to provide for myself (and those reading) some recommendations on what I should do to get into it.

  1. Get into a routine. If getting up early is your thing, or working late – do it consistently until your project is finished.
  2. Dangle “the carrot.” What’s that one thing that you really want, but haven’t given yourself? Make sure you don’t give it to yourself until you finish.
  3. Take breaks and be realistic. It is important to reward each stage of your project with a small break: 10-15 minutes to jump around or blow off steam with email, etc. Build in time to do the things you need to do, like playing with your 18-month old, or taking a shower.
  4. Turn off Facebook. Most of us love to hate Facebook and secretly, especially when we are procrastinating, we have a tendency to revert back to the safety zone of other people’s lives. Live in your present and turn off fucking Facebook.
  5. Lose the distractions. I have my daughter running around, staff at my house and tons of emails that alert every time they come in on my phone. I have to turn off my phone, shut all the doors, lock myself in a cave to get anything complete. Just try to be nicer than me about it, okay? I am a real bitch.

So that’s where I am for the moment. It is now 5:51am and I have still yet to do anything. Maybe I should start?