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


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




  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. 


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.

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.


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


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

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


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.


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.




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.


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.


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.


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



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





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


RaCo Life Related Post


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.

RaCo Life Bacon Thick Cuts Cooked Glistening10px white Line

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.


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.


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
10px white LineRaCo Life Maternity Japanese Weekend Hug a Boo DressRaCo Life Maternity Hatch The Perfect V Tee10px white LineRaCo Life Maternity Hatch The Long Sleeve TeeRaCo Life Maternity Jeans Racer Skinny Citizens of HumanityRaCo Life Maternity Isabella Oliver Neville Maternity Shift Dress10px white LineRaCo Life Japanese Weekend MamaCoatRaCo Life Maternity Hatch The Long Sleeve Body DressRaCo Life Maternity Amazon Asymmetric Design Loose Linen Dress10px white Line


Best Discount Brands & Consignment Sites:

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


A Couple of My Choice Clothing Brands:

Japanese Weekend MaternityFillybooMilk Nursingwear MaternityHatch Maternity


Best Fancy Dress Award:                       Best Jeans Award:

Rachel Pally MaternityCitizens of Humanity Logo

Best Shopping Sites for Variety of Brands & Great Prices:

 Amazon LogoShopBopIsabella OliverThyme Maternity


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

“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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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.

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:

• 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.

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

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



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.






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


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!


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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!


Highlights from the 3 Days:


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-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!


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. 🙂

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.


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.

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]

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 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.

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]

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]

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]

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.


  • 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]

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.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2688″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”none”][vcex_spacing size=”15px”][vc_column_text]

  • 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]


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!

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: 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

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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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.

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.


The American Dream


RaCo Life American Dream

As a new parent, I now know why half of America is overweight, on anti-depressants, watches 3 hours of TV a night and our test scores in schools are getting lower and lower. We are tired. We are overrun and exhausted by the demands of the American Dream. I am new to this world – having a baby, while working full time – and it is hard. Much harder than I imagined it would be. I give snaps to all the parents out there that have done what we tried to do and failed at.

We as a nation have been sold on a dream that is unattainable and unrealistic to most.

  1. Let’s start with sleep. Sleep is the #1 fuel to your engine. It makes your cognitive thinking clear, capable of making better decisions, able to be more relaxed and regulates your hormones, your metabolism and your heart. It keeps you afloat. As Americans have increased their operating hours, we have lowered our potential for hours available to sleep and increased our potential for exhaustion. This has created a number of issues which the rest of the world is beginning to face as well.
  2. Next up is diet. Without a healthy, nutritious and rounded diet, we can’t function. Our bodies go into overdrive and have to work extra hard to function causing a host of other physical ailments.
  3. Exercise comes into play next. We can’t sustain any of the above without it, but when do we have that extra 1-hour available to go running?
  4. And then it’s all the other stuff. Somewhere in there we go to work, play with our kids, door our chores, catch up with friends and family, and relax.

We try to mask each need with more coffee, drugs and a host of other stimulants in order to fulfill our ever expanding list to do. Debt starts to pile up, and just when we start to break even, a new car is needed, the water heater just broke, you need to save for the kids need to go to College, etc. It always seems like the more you get, the more you want. It is engrained in our DNA and spawned from centuries of oppression and classism.

It seems like a vicious cycle; one where you can never get ahead or accomplish anything.

As far as we are concerned, the road to the American Dream is shaped into a half pipe and anyone can just jump on and slide through life. There it is an endless cycle of: 1. you want more, 2. you spend more, 3. you need more money, 4. you work more, and then back to the start of the wheel. It felt like if we didn’t move to the suburbs to a good school system, put Iza in childcare and get full time jobs, we would be unable to attain a ‘purposeful life,’ by everyone’s standards.

Kurt and I felt like we were unconsciously heading down this path on the half-pipe of expectations, and saw all our opportunities for our talents slipping away. The most important thing for artists is uninhibited time. As a result, we gravitated waaaaaay “outside the box.” We decided we wanted to try to make a go of something different; to not be so tired, to eat healthier, to enjoy our natural environment each day and get our heart pumping, to play, and ultimately to live.

So, we have ended up here instead (here = Guatemala), because we truthfully couldn’t figure out how to do this in the States.

In the last 5-months we have grown beyond our wildest expectations in purpose and experience. We have honed in on potential ways to make a go of it long-term and really started developing a routine which is life-based, waving goodbye (partially) to our work-based life. The only constant routine of the Brand’s is evolution, but we feel we really have have now defined what we want out of each day and have started to formulate Our Dream.


My dream last night was eyeopening; set in a store with a mock double bedroom on a shitty side of town, inside of a mall, with another couple in the bed beside us. The sign on the outside of the store was “Erotica.” I am still trying to make sense of it, but I remember it required reading a book, independently, with your lover laying next to you in the same bed, also reading. There were two telephone booth-sized closets and a guy coming in and out of the adjoining room to check on us, hand us another book, etc. The books were pretty normal books – it almost seemed like a library made for me of a full range of interesting, artistic, but still well-rounded books with public interest-style relationships written about. They were not romantic by any account.

So here we are sitting in a double-bed reading, with people next to us in the bed doing the same, and some weird guy coming in and out of the room and the noise of the mall in front of us. Hardly an erotic set up with the typical sea of colorful and bright, sexually fantastical moments.

Waking up this morning, I didn’t feel warm, but I did feel contented. I don’t know why it was called “Erotica,” but I think it leads into the post on the American Dream and the 1950’s mindset of sexuality. Or maybe it is based on my inability to read as of late, due to distraction. Thoughts are welcome.



Co-Sleeping with a Toddler

Wiped out.

I’m kicked and hit, my face is smooshed and I nearly roll off the bed, everytime. This little lady thinks she is 250lbs and 6′ long. She takes up the entire bed and then some… and it never seems to be enough space. Where do these creatures get off without sharing? We have given them life and then they just take, take, take from the moment they arrive.

In all seriousness, we keep trying to co-sleep with Iza because we love to cuddle her and be close to her when she is so small. She latches on when she is falling to sleep and gives the best hugs! During the day, she never stops moving, but at night its the same, she never stops moving.

If you can’t tell, I have just been up all night because Kurt heard her coughing and brought her into our bed. She didn’t want to sleep on the bed, she had to lay on top of me with her head buried in my neck. I could hardly breathe so I moved her to the side and then she started the rustle and roll, taking us both out in her midst. Fun stuff.

Anyone that co-sleeps I give major snaps too. This family is just simple not meant to do it.

Throwback: Off the Cost of Madagascar – Ladies n’ Babies Island

Throwback Before Baby: I found this post in my drafts folders from an old website I built eons ago. I wanted to grab whatever content I could salvage and entertain everyone on Ra’Co Life. Here is an email that I sent to my friends in late 2010. It was fresh off a divorce and rearing for a good time. I wanted children, but knew they were out of reach. Read this post with a serious sense of humor!


Dear Fabulous Ladies,

You have been selected because I love you, you are single and you are what is keeping me ticking these days. I hope that you enjoy a good hearty laugh from my insanity.


Call me crazy (I am), but I am also completely brilliant and I have a fantastic idea. Like Hannah Montana (I have lots of nieces, don’t judge me for knowing who that is), it is the best of both worlds.

A few months ago in October I had this amazing idea… a world where we could get anything that we ever dared hoped for and a way to do it. Imagine a sensational (Luca, your word), model-perfect beach, surrounded on all sides by sea. A land of plenty; offering gorgeous sunrises, fantastic sunsets and sunny days all year round with children and gorgeous men.

Look at us. We are incredible women. Producers, Designers, Teachers, Writers, Lobbyists, Chefs, PhD’s, Architects, etc. We can and should have anything we want, but one problem – there are no men that are good enough for us (okay, maybe a generalization… but go with it for the sake of drama) and we all want families, soon. So, more than likely we will have to settle to get what we want before mother nature ticks her way off our richter scale. Beyond that, do we really want to deal with smelly socks and the toilet seat being left up for the rest of our days? Come on already, actual children are enough work we don’t need adult children thrown in the mix.

Off the Coast of Madagascar is this place where we can go to have children and be part of a communal raising. The worlds first female/children-only commune, built at the helm of sustainability. We are women who never settled and now choose a greater path in life: loads of children from all over the world, some biologically produced, some adopted, some foster and others that were fully raised and never had a loving environment. Women who want a chance to embrace all things motherhood and create a loving and wonderful space for our children to learn and grow. We will help each other to do it. Keep your career, or don’t! We will make it work as a team!

Okay, now I feel a little like a lunatic, but here is the punch line: We are NOT going to do this without still getting male attention. No way. We are going to solicit an unbelievable pool of fantastic men that will join us in this quest to realize our dreams. Working off an annual calendar, we will have a schedule of different “talent” that will be imported for our entertainment, friendship, reproductive purposes and for our thrust-and-release program (i.e. fuck buddies). Want a Greek God? An Italian Stallion? A Hairy Persian? A Californian Surfer-dude? A British Bloke? We will have a schedule for every single type so we can be sure to try them all out.

But that’s not all…

This is going to drive some serious PR. Anticipate a financially free and clear life through an ad-driven site, annual calendar sales, tours, donations and an exclusive product line from Ladies&Babies. We are going to be Billionaires. Yep. That’s right, I used the b-word.

Sounds crazy? Of course! But the best part is that we get to make the freakin’ rules. Let’s build this community to be what we want, including our own governing body (i.e. Fey). So… as they say in Jerry Maguire – “Whose with me?!”


The responses from the email were mixed – mostly funny and a few that scolded me for thinking my ovaries were drying up, and another one yelled at me for not working. And coincidently there was even some real opportunity behind this; my friend’s colleague was creating a film for Off-Grid living and he asked if I would really participate in something like this and be filmed. (HELL NO!)

Even more… I went out for a blind date from my stylist (my fabulous hair dresser Stephen who is very posh) with this guy Marc a couple of days after I sent this email. It turns out he is from Maritius, which is an Island off the Coast of Madagascar. He has some land and was thinking about what to do with it and I gave him a pretty thorough idea…

Part of the beauty of living, is exploring, why not explore all our opportunities? As adults we don’t give ourselves permission to play make believe. When we do it is “weird” or “immature.” I love this idea and it was poignant for this time in my life.  It is funny and original and it could be a really viable brand. Did I really want to do it? No – but I love thinking this creatively about forging your own path in life.

Baby Learning to Speak, Constant Noise

The talking will come and I will do my best for patience. And for now I dream of bedtime and the hours I get to have filled with free thought.

Truthfully, the noise is killing me. Kurt is not a talker outside the house, but here I get the sole pleasure of hearing all his random thoughts, ideas, and music sounds as he invents some kind of song. I love all of it, provided those were the only sounds I heard. Iza is a constant babbling mess of sound bites – some Katchiquel, a few choice Spanish or English words, and some bizarre noises acquired from Baby Einstein. I can’t think straight for the majority of the day; my head is literally full of this endless stream of thoughts which are not my own. I often find myself at the end of the day wanting to literally cover my ears and jump into the lake to have a single moment of silence.

It is possible, I may have been like this as a child, but as an adult, I am not much of a talker inside the house. I use this time to be pensive, and I am very mindful of the time I have outside of work; the simple, rare moments that I don’t have to communicate with clients or vendors. I can just exist in solitude and not have to respond on command.

Children do not understand this need, and I get that. I have to remember that this learning phase of speaking is frustrating for Iza as well because she desperately wants to communicate, and life is very confusing for a child learning 3 languages. A little research shows a delay in speech when multiple languages are learned at the same time – I suppose she is trying to make sense of all the different words she hears, that mean the same thing;

MonkeyMonkey’ and ‘Mono’ both make the “ooo ooo ahhh ahhh,” but Mama says its ‘Monkey’ when she talks to me, and Kati says its ‘Mono,’ Papa says it is ‘Mono’ and ‘Monkey’ depending on the moment. Which one do I say?

In the end the word is “Yes!”

My first word was “ball” or “no” I can’t remember. Either way, I know that I was a NO person from the start. It was my main vocabulary and I think to this day I have always enjoyed the slow and pronounced way that the word rolls off my tongue, “Nnnnnnnnoooooooo”. It is very flavorful and entertaining to say. I think it is also a little bit of an instant reaction. Someone says they like something and negative nelly me, says, “No” in a very satisfactory and matter of fact way. I mean business by saying “No.”

But what I am finding is that in my professional and adult world I have learned to say “Yes” more often than not. I think that this started working for my first big girl job with a man named Allan because he was a “Yes-Man.” Although, even beyond Allan, I have carried the tradition over of wanting to help and do good by all people… clients included. So, my “No” has become a very distinct, “Yes!” in almost all circumstances (really its just that I don’t want to miss out on any potential experience).

Two things have happened as a result from this: The first is that I am exhausted from all the things that I do now on a daily basis… again, I never want to say, “No” to an opportunity, so I am constantly scrambling around trying to make it work for my schedule and I have become a bit of a push over… a little too accommodating. The second thing that has happened, which is key, is that I have forgotten who I am and I am now having to real learn my life as a person from the “Yes” culture.

Now, thinking back as a child, I asked my parents if they can remember a time that I used the word “Yes” in any sentence? I feel as though I need to retrace my history and try to relearn the magical world of where I came from so I can rediscover my purpose in life. It was always to be a “No” person, I thought and to be self-directed and very conscious about my choices. But now in this new “Yes” culture I am finding that it is boundary-less and the possibilities are endless and undirected. I am just a feather blowing in the wind; sometimes it is a stronger wind I guess, but mostly I just float around.

And so I encourage each of you to join the pledge along with me to say, “Yes” to life and join into something new and bizarre that you never thought you would venture into.

You might have noticed that this post really doesn’t have a particular purpose, so like my new undirected lifestyle of the word, “Yes” this post is quite similar. No direction, no result, just the experience.

Solo Mama

Kurt is going to write a separate post on this to share his perspective, but here we are – 1 month in without nursing and Iza is still crying and latching onto my leg at every moment. She is what we refer to as “Solo Mama” (only interested in being with me). I am exhausted from the noise… constant, penetrating crying which makes my milk start up again and my head pound. I don’t know how to handle this, except to run in the other direction. He has these perfect little moments with her when I am not around. She is laughing, playing and happy. Bring her near me, and she cries.

As a mother I could get upset about this, but instead I am just getting annoyed an impatient. I want my little girl to want to play with me; to feel excited when she sees me and want to do something fun!




Breastfeeding: Finito! Woo Hoo!

Iza Nursing

It has been a long road; paved with lack of sleep, double meals and a lack of possession over my own body. Since August 2012 I have been attached to Iza physically in one way or another – in the womb or on my breast. After leaving NYC, we really felt it was important to continue allowing her to nurse. It was really comforting in all the upheaval of moving, but it took a turn towards the worse over the last two months and she abused it. We called it “chain nursing” or “toggling” because as she would finish with one (I had very little milk), she would start up with another one. She would go as long as we would let her go back n’ forth before I would cut her off. Screams would ensue. In public it was embarrassing, and in private it made both of us so frustrated (and annoyed) that she was taking advantage of me.

So, we made the decision to wean. (I say “we” because I am lucky enough to have a very invested husband and father.) But when is the right time? We asked ourselves that a million times over the last 4 months and I am not sure we ever came to the right conclusion. Some women nurse until their kids are older (we hold no judgement, but maybe a little compassion) and some women don’t nurse at all (again, no judgement – it is fucking hard work). On our end, we nursed merely because we were told it was the best thing to do for the baby for general health, immune system and future, and we are stopping because we feel as though she has had what she needs now. We want to wrap it up and let Iza move onto being a big girl.

Truth-be-told, I am really not one of the kinds of mothers who relish in the love affair or romantic notions of a cuddled baby next to her breast (I am not a touchy feely person in general, especially not 24-7) and I kind of find it annoying. It is the single hardest thing I have ever had to learn and consistently do. I need a break, and be able to be alone for a change, I need to lose the extra 10lbs I have packed on from my double meals and be able to detox, work out again and be on my own schedule, void of my milk ‘coming in’ f0r Iza’s feeding time (and pumping sucks as an alternative). There you go: decision made.

Today we are at 48 hours without a latch. Watching your kid erupt because they are not getting what they need from you is horrible. 1 day in my period came back, and this morning I woke up and my ears are ringing from her piercing screams (girls can really give it to you, huh?), my stomach is bruised from her kicking and fighting me, and my breasts are full and on fire. But hell yeah, I am FREE.

Bells Palsy During Pregnancy

Photo-on-3-19-13-at-1.03-PM-3-150x150Certainly pregnancy is never a walk in the park, and mine was no worse than any other experience. It was actually a great pregnancy filled with time, pampering and happiness with my wonderful husband.

But, sadly there is a dark side for most mama-to-be, which is unique to each of us. My dark side came during my 7th-month, and was in the form of Bell’s Palsy.

Don’t know what Bell’s Palsy is? Bell’s is a dysfunction of the cranial facial nerve, which causes temporary paralysis. There are a million reasons why it happened to me, but likely it was a weakened immune system due to pressure on my body (when Iza was breach) in the middle of my pregnancy. The first day, I lost my ability to drink water, then by the end of the day, I couldn’t see out of my right eye. When I looked in the mirror it was as if an alien was staring back at me; my wrinkles on my forehead were gone, I couldn’t raise my lip, and my nose was suddenly tweaked to the side. My eyebrow didn’t raise, and I had a dull pain all along the backside of my right ear.

Over the course of the last 3-months of pregnancy, I had the unique experience of seeing people’s reactions to me. It was hard not to look. My family’s reaction was heartbreaking. Their reactions were in the form of their own contorted facial expressions of sadness and compassion, and I had to see what I looked like in their gasp’s and stares. The mirror was not my friend and I avoided photo opportunities. I tried to avoid people all together, but Kurt had several large art shows and I had to be present for them; stares and more uncomfortable moments. I also had to keep working and a huge job opportunity came up right at that time. White rooms with lots of light were the worst (since I couldn’t close my right eye), and art shows and hip office spaces love white.

It was a wild ride of emotions; and in hindsight I wish I had embraced my condition instead of resenting. It was a life experience which has provided me the ability to explore inner strength.

Photo-on-6-7-13-at-4.03-PM-2-150x150I have tried every form of alternative medicine possible, avoiding steroids and other Western medications while nursing. Acupuncture worked for brief moments. In the morning with Green Tea I can feel my right side of my face rise from the jolt, and in the evenings I can feel the same side droop from wine. There is still a dull and achy pain behind my right ear. I will always notice these things and they will never go away.

Some of the little things you wouldn’t think have bothered me: I will never blow bubbles or whistle again. I will not be able to make fishy faces with Iza when she makes them at me. I will never kiss Kurt squarely and I will never fully be able to smile or drink water out of the right side of my mouth. I will always struggle with my right eye and work extra hard to shut it each time I blink.
It has taken a lot for me to get here with my own acceptance and even be able to write this post, and it is still very raw.

18-months out, I am roughly at 85% where I was before pregnancy and I probably won’t improve further from here. Will I ever stare back at my new self and not miss the old one? Probably not, but hey – we all get older and ‘wiser,’ right? I always said that I was totally vein before and it was the Universe’s way of showing me that my life is no longer my own and knocking me off my high horse. I know I am extremely blessed; I am healthy, happy and can do most things with my baby girl (no blowing bubbles or whistling for me). The rest is just icing on the cake!

Nanny Wars – Mayan Style

I mean, come on. We are apparently all the same around the world and it is just full on pathetic that we can’t all get along and work together as a global community. Right?!

So when we started this journey we relied on Mario (our devoted gardener) to set us up and get our life in order as our landlord Ana had recommended. For Q.80 a day ($10) we had a full time nanny who cleans our house! Kind of insane considering that is above their typical working wage and is considered a very good salary.

We loved the initial two ladies he set up to come. Mario called them ‘Chica’s’ so we did too! The first was Clara. We thought this was his wife, but it turns out to be his wife’s cousin. She has a little girl named Maria who is 9. Marta came on day 3 and she was warm, smiley and very in control. It felt like she understood us and we saw eye to eye and she has a little girl with Mario named Adriana who is 3. On Week 2, day 1 we had a new nanny come and her name was Cecilia. She was Marta’s sister and looked so similar we actually didn’t know it wasn’t Marta until 2 hours in. This continued for another week: Cecilia on Mondays, Clara on Tuesdays, Marta on Wednesday, Clara on Thursdays and Marta on Friday. On week 3 we were graced on Monday with a new lady, this time Marta & Cecilia’s mom. At that point I totally broke down on Mario and said, “We can take 2, but not any more. This is outrageous.” He fixed it and we were back to just Marta and Clara.

But then we decided to move. Clara’s husband Jose works at this Casa and when she found out we wanted to leave she told us that she had a place for us to look at. We didn’t really understand what she said until we ended up at this new Casa and we were being introduced to her husband and her sweet daughter Maria again. It was so strangely warm and kind of weird at the same time. So, we signed up and moved in. We talked to Marta and it was still our understanding that we would have Clara everyday except Wednesday and that Marta would be here then.

Yesterday morning Clara said to us that Marta didn’t know if she could come on Wednesday and would we be okay if she (Clara) came instead. Being silly foreigners we really didn’t think too much into it and didn’t even really consider that the sweet-natured Mayan woman would be able to manipulate the situation so well. Then around 11am we get this text from Marta:

Hola buenas tardes, espero que esten bien solo quiero avisarles que no llegare mañana con ustedes Clara no quiere, esta enojado con migo y no quiero tener problemas. fue un plaser conoserlos son muy amables y muy buenos. muchas gracias por trabajar con ustedes que Dios les bendiga y cuiden mucho a IZA UN BESITO.


Loosely translated it basically says, she is very angry at Clara and that she will not be coming but she wishes us all the best and that she loves Iza.

Awesome. DRAMA.

We kind of freaked out, but really didn’t know what to do. We absolutely love Marta and adore Mario. Adriana is 3, so Iza really relates to her and has so much fun when they play. Mario even said that Adriana goes to sleep every night saying, “Iza, Iza, Iza.” We feel in some ways like they are very cool and similar to us. We would definitely like to be friends with them. So, we invited Mario and Marta over for dinner tonight so we can get the scoop, but for now we are playing nice with Clara.

It is just too freakin’ funny. Nanny Wars… Mayan Style.

Losing Connection with My Partner and the Magic 4-Hour Fix

It is no secret that married couples have issues from time to time. It is understood and expected, especially in times of duress. But boy o’ boy does it suck.

For 3 months nearly we have been on the road – this means that Iza sleeps between us because she is too disrupted to feel safe or comfortable on her own. We are absolutely exhausted from travel, complicated logistical arrangements and a kicking 1-year old who whimpers on and off all night long.

We also have had some pretty big transitions in our careers – Kurt leaving Chelsea and my decision to not seek a PhD at this juncture. I feel like I want to just be a mother, Kurt feels like he just wants to work although our current roles which we set in motion last summer are reversed. It is very difficult to shift a moving ship (especially one with lots and lots of heavy cargo).

We have a child, we live in an emerging country and we are taking a big risk that may or may not pay off. We are scared. 

Through all of this we have really lost sight equally of our friendship and our intimacy. We have stopped communicating clearly or thoughtfully and we have shifted away from a daily hug, kiss or cuddle to a weekly passing moment and daily arguments.

I would suppose last night was my breaking point. I have felt for these past 3 months that Kurt has almost “left the building” out of our relationship and into himself. I don’t exist right now other than a nuisance. On my end I have lost a sense of respect and stopped showing respect and thoughtfulness to him.

Honestly it has been rough. The conversation went as well as expected (terrible) and Kurt ended up sleeping on the couch by choice.

Today was our first date day in nearly 3 months and a chance for lunch, an adventure and time together. Needless to say neither of us were that excited going into it, but we gave it a go. 1st we headed off to look at our 3rd place of the day (the 1st too Clara and Iza came to) in a town called Jabalito (pronounced Ha-ba-li-to). It is meant to be a great area for hiking. The house was very sweet, but unbelievably small. No go. We ran into our friend Josie who makes the best Kombucha and fresh American bread on the lake (Guatemalan’s interpretation of bread is full on gross, so it is wonderful to have Josie at our farmer’s market). We immediately put in our order for tomorrow’s market.  #1 Moment: Making a simple decision together.

After the house tour we went to lunch by Josie’s suggestion. We walked through town and realized that this was actually the least developed area on the lake. It was the section 8 housing if you will. Everywhere there were terrible smells and shacks. Children looked a mess in the streets and dogs were scratching their flee-infested backs. We tentatively walked to the restaurant and went in. The stench from their garden smelled of old animal feces. We looked at the menu and both agreed there was NO WAY we were going to eat there. #2 Moment: Share in a laugh over an uncomfortable situation and work together to get out of it.

At this point we ended up at lunch and had a good conversation. Hard, but good. We talked about the things we needed and what we have struggled with over the last couple of months. We talked through how to stay on track with our plan and to continue to move in the right direction. It proved that we can communicate and that we can open ourselves up again if we are willing to try. #3 Moment: Have a thoughtful conversation which is both calm and rationale.

It was now about 1.5 hours from our departure on our adventure together. We decided to take the time to go to San Juan which is where all the locale artists (painters and weavers) work. We had a great time walking around the streets and looking at the beautiful weavings. The painting were fun to see and technically quite good, but it was no where near our style. So, we went back to #2 Moment every time a painter asked us what we thought.

We took a long walk through town and ended up at the Coffee Cooperativa which is the locale coffee plantation. It is organic and very interesting. We enjoyed a walk through the woods and various coffee plants all along the way and even walked on the highway together. We decided to take a Tuk Tuk back to San Marcos. We had quite the adventure instead of our typical boat ride… one that lead to maybe 50 potential near death experiences. #4 Moment: Be reminded how sad you would be if you lost the other person (morbid but important).

Funny enough the Tuk Tuk driver only took us 3/4 of the way so we had to walk on the road to get to San Marcos. We walked through town and even helped to negotiate a craft for an Australian guy together. This is now at about 3.25 hours so 3:15 and we still needed to catch the boat home by 4pm. It was PACKED at the dock and we ended up on a boat that was over full. There were even people on the roof. A definite first which led to the absolute slowest boat ever. We were late to get Iza and had to run to meet her Nanny. Sadly we got to the door and no one answered at our new Casa. We don’t have our keys yet, so you can imagine our panic. We figured out that she had probably gone back to our house thinking that we had maybe gone there in our delay, so we set off for home. #5 moment: work together to resolve a major issue / concern.

Long story, but a necessary path for a jump start towards recovery. I love this man, I know he loves me and in our 4 magic hours together we had 5 precious moments which hopefully brought us part-way around the circle and back to being “us” again. I’m sure many problems will arise in our life together, but at least we are building a foundation to come back to.


Pump n’ Dump on the Road via Walmart

Today has been interesting. Woke up with my gorgeous baby and husband and had the most wonderful sunrise cuddling, knowing it was my last moment with my 2 babies before Saturday. My first trip away!

Kind of amazing to walk to the dock and know that by the end of the day I would have reentered America and all the crazy that goes with it. The panorama was just breathtaking of the lake. Now, sitting in Hotlanta after waiting for 4 hours on a layover for my flight, it is certainly not the same level of panorama (bad food, bad lighting, stressed out people… similar amount of walking).

My lovely driver Geovanni (courtesy of my soon-to-be landlord Joyce) picked me up from the 1st dock, the local dock, in Panajachel (if you go to the 2nd dock it is the tourist dock and they rock you with extra Q). We stopped by the bank and the gas station so I could go to the bathroom and then headed to Guatemala City to the Walmart before the airport. He was ready to kill me for being late on all fronts and then needing to stop so many times… but hey, I had shit to do!

We sat in a little bit of morning traffic, but for the most part it was smooth sailing. Should have been since we left like 6 hours to drive 2 hours! Why Walmart? Holy moly… in the States I probably would never intentionally enter it when I have a Target instead but here in Guate it is awesome to be able to get what I need accomplished in short order. Here I could get my “American Breast Pump” (literally not 1 store in all of the lake had even heard of. They actually don’t have a name for it in Spanish. It is just a direct translation. Crazy!) so I don’t explode on my trip.

Thank goodness… now 12 hours later roughly and I have pumped and dumped like 20oz of milk. With each pumping session in my little bathroom stall, pump in hand and Netflix (yay) ready to watch, I feel a little sad knowing it is not going to go in my daughters mouth, but instead down the drain. Boo.

But this is life as a modern woman who still wants to maintain a piece of her sanity and connection with her child. Walmart is a small sacrifice for greatness.


Work Trip Away in Nuevo York

I’m freaking out. I suppose it is a normal reaction since I am leaving my baby who I am still nursing in a foreign country to head back to the City for the week.

Not super prepared considering we got here a week and a day ago, we are still getting to know the area, Iza has now had 3 nanny’s come in and out of the house in rotation so far (they seem to be alternating and it is very hard for any of us to adjust to it) and I didn’t bring my pump with me and to date the 15 stores I have gone into to ask for one look at me like I have 5 heads (What the “F” was I thinking?). Oh and to make matters more interesting, I haven’t heard back from my driver who I am meant to get picked up by at the dock at 6:30am and I just realized  the boats don’t start running until 6am and on Lake Time (like Island Time) that could mean I won’t get to the dock in Pana until 7am. If I don’t meet him, I may just have to take the Chicken Bus again. YIKES!

And I am going to miss my family on such an enormous level.

So, it is going to be an interesting week. Back to the old “Rache” or the “E. Rachael” who travels for her work. How weird. It has been 2 years since I gave up TILT and started on this journey towards my current no work travel policy. I am going back for a good reason and one that I am happy and proud of. My family is in full support and I go back to the states with a full heart and a mission to accomplish.

Let’s just all pray my driver shows up and I don’t have to take the Chicken Bus 3 hours. Iza and I are rockin’ out to Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” She’s helping me get back in the game.

Sleep Training for Baby

Its just after midnight and we are going on our second crying fit the current one lasting already nearly an hour already. I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe. I feel for my beba and I want nothing more than to scoop her up in my arms and let her know it will all be okay and that Mama’s here.

Sleep training is not something we ever wanted to do, but here we are at almost 13 months and none of us has slept through the night since birth (for me maybe since I was 7 months pregnant), Iza included. It is driving Kurt and I emotionally apart in some ways since we physically have no interaction and we are over taxed, exhausted and never have time to be together. Iza also really needs her sleep. For weeks she has been the crabbiest from wake up to morning nap time and then again from about 6pm on to bed time. She has started to sleep less and less throughout the day hours and the dark circles under her eyes have begun to deepen.

We have to try something new.

As mothers we are wired to hear our beba’s distinct noise from a crowded room of crying little ones. Our leche comes in and when we do not use our given assets to comfort the little ones we begin to ache something fierce. The reality is that life has evolved to a point where we all need enough rest to get through a relatively busy existence.

My step-sister breastfed and co-slept and her method worked for both her girls by establishing a routine and then her husband getting up to rock the girls to sleep in the middle of the night. It helped to still show comfort, but to remove the breast from the equation. My friend’s little girl was placed in her crib from day 1 and slept through the night, establishing the routine from the get go. There was no question in her beba’s mind that her comfort zone was the crib. She didn’t breastfeed which made this possible from the beginning, but the principle still works for breastfed children if they are placed back in the crib after a feeding.

Iza eats enough to sleep through the night, but she is still feeding at least 1 if not 2 times a night. We have been moving around a lot, so our assumption was she needed the comfort and the stability of on demand feeding, but clearly it is not working for any of us. We question if it is now too late to change without permanent psychological damage. Yikes.

I feel a little crazy from the noise. Now we are going on an hour and a half and I still hear no end in sight. So I sit here in the dark, and eat chocolate and try to zone out and concentrate only to the waves while writing.

Una noche completa. (1 night complete)


We are off our schedule… yikes! Did we have a schedule?

We often hear about “the schedule” and the importance of keeping a kid on one. We are well versed in theory, a little wishy washy in practice. I remember hearing my friends talk about having to get their kids home to make sure they maintain a peaceful existence for all and thinking I will never participate in a schedule. Let me tell you – sleep is key and these little buggers will certainly let you know when they want to sleep, often having such a meltdown that no one sleeps. This is a daily occurrence for the Brand Fam because we haven’t quite figured out how to get onto a consistent schedule.

Last night we officially kicked off our adventure after our final sale of the Prius V (I know, so sad) to Carmax. Thanks to my long time bestie Pierce we managed to get from Laurel, MD to Little Havana in downtown Baltimore during 5 o’clock traffic, in style. We were greeted by Pierce’s new (and fabulous) girlfriend Emlyn and our long-time friends Holly, Tuffy and Barri who each brought their kids (Holly – Maggie & Cora, Tuffy & Barri – Sarah). We even had a special cameo from Pierce’s college buddy and my wonderful friend Mercedes! It was like coming home for me and great to see familiar, loving faces on our way out of town. But it was especially special to spend time with the 3 amazing little munchkins and our Iza and as you can see from the photo none of them were on a normal schedule. I bet all the parents are suffering for it today (so an enormous thank you for taking your kids off their schedule to come and play).

It is now 5:40am, but we started our adventure this morning at 3, after sleeping for only 3 hours. Iza played her little butt off at the airport and now she has pooped out just as we board. Honestly the cutest picture, ever. But we will still see what’s in store for today!

Practice makes perfect, right? I guess we will have to stop going out at night with Iza at our sidekick to stay on a schedule.

Happy Days for Our 1 Year Old!

As my step father Drew says, “every kid deserves the quintessential birthday cake photo.” Right he is. We had a blast at Iza’s Birthday and so did she, until she had a sugar melt-down. In true fashion we had a Brand Fam Video Stream set up so all the family around the world could join in song. My 93 year old Grammy was the best – she made sure to be on Skype so she could participate!

Gluten Intolerance

My first real-attack was in 2008 in Paris. The combination of dairy and gluten, with my ripe age of 28 was an accumulative allergy-attack. I first lost the feeling in my left arm, and then a tingly feeling started in my left ear. I eventually had my back go out and my legs stop working. It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

In Iza’s first 5-weeks alive I had mastitis (blocked milk duct, very common) and was prescribed a gluten-encased anti-biotic (even after checking with my doctor and the pharmacist), ending in the emergency room with an anaphylactic reaction, 2-days before my mother’s wedding.  Needless to say, Iza and I didn’t sleep for 2-days after from the two EPI Pens I was shot up with.

It is a mild fear I live with when I eat out anywhere but in my kitchen, but I deal with it and I never waiver or try my hand at fate. I make sure Iza has a steady regiment of gluten in and out of the house, and when she offers me something I casually turn her down and say “Thank you.”

Getting Back to Normal

Most women complain about a gazillion issues around their body, especially after birthing a child. I have to admit through the years I have done the same. But now, not so much. I eat well, I breastfeed and I walk regularly. I don’t over do it, I don’t stress about it and I am hanging in there.

A lot of the ease of recovery I can attribute to my pregnancy in the last trimester. I did yoga, ate raw when I could and I walked an average of 3.5 miles a day until I gave birth and I even walked 2 miles while in labor.

My yoga teacher and Doula, Sandy Trimarchi gave me the best advice I could have asked for (along with insisting I continue doing a full yoga practice, even when I was exhausted), “Labor is the hardest physical act you will ever do. You should be in the best shape of your life doing it.” And so she advised to kick it into high gear and I did.

I won’t say labor was easy, but I did get through the hard stuff in 6 hours and I was out of the hospital in under 24 hours.

Anyone can be healthy and to work towards a healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum body and mind. It is the exercise, the healthy raw diet and the ongoing positive mindset which has kept me going (even through Bells Palsy, a breached baby and a natural labor).

And check out the body to prove it!

Bell’s Palsy is Almost Kicked

It is totally amazing that I have turned a Bell’s Palsy corner! As Iza came into the world, all the pushing burst capilaries in my right cheek and above my right eye. My face was slightly speckled for a day and then I started to see a change back in my smile. My right eye can nearly shut at this point and every day is an improvement. I still have trouble closing my mouth and sucking, but that will come with time – I am certain!

Here is the progression. Gross!

Week 1 As Parents

For pictures, please scroll down! or check out her site: www.izabrand.com

Well, we tried to get these up sooner, but I guess having a new baby is going to extend all our personal goals and timing a little! Right now in the early morning light with the rain falling buckets from the sky, Kurt is blowing baby kisses on Iza’s belly, Mozart is playing in the background and we are enjoying a precious moment as a family after a VERY long night struggling with feeding. It is truly heaven for us to hear her little smooshy noises and squakes at all hours of the day and night. We have both wanted to be parents for so long, and we found each other and now found her!

She is really the most delightful baby; she rarely cries and even when she does it is extremely short lived. We take her everywhere already and she just rolls with the program. She is sweet and funny with her little faces. And she mostly looks like a little Buddha. Everyone asks us who she looks like or they try to find some resemblance. Right now, she looks like her – Iza Ruby – and a baby. She doesn’t have any of her actual features that she will shortly adapt and grow into, so it is fun to be able to evolve with her, get to know her as she gets to become apart of our little world. But I would say Kurt and I definitely enjoy people’s projections of what she looks like.

It has been a busy week of adjustment and change:

  • Sunday am Iza was born and we had a chance to just stare at her for a few hours. Around 3pm Kurt went home to deal with drying the placenta so we could encapsulate it and to make us food since we realized how inadequate the food truly was. We were lucky that the hospital was amazing and the food was really the only bad part. He came back in the evening and by 10pm he was literally green from exhaustion. After a sleepless night of feeding and nurse intrusions, by mid-day on Monday we were packed and strolling home. It was great to leave the hospital with the silly 4 hour check ups (which truly left us more sleep deprived then having a small child to care for) and horrible food.
  • Tuesday we stayed in most of the day as it was Iza’s first cluster feeding day and we were so tired we couldn’t breathe. But at some point I had to bust out and break free for a little walk and Kurt went to the gym to achieve some sort of balance and clear his head. It was by far the best day that Iza has had in terms of her general presence and awakeness, so we are starting to feel like there is some merit in the value of home.
  • Wednesday was our first family outing for her Pediatrician appointment with Dr. Malik at Bambini Pediatrics in Poughkeepsie. This very progressive doctor was thrilled with her coloring, attitude and general demeanor and was pleased with how we handled the birth. So far so good! Then we made the mistake of going to Target to get a few small things, but when you are crazy tired, you just take forever to do anything. Nothing is quick! We ended up getting mostly home and then realizing that we left the one reason why we came to Target on the cart in the parking lot. Nice. So, we stopped in a local agricultural park fed her, changed her massively exploded diaper and rested as a family for a few minutes before heading back out to Target. The whole day took us from 9am – 4pm and we got home and were shattered and starving… just in time for another appointment at 7pm which took us about 30 minutes to drive to. I think I cried for 2 hours in the evening out of pure and utter exhaustion. I felt like a toddler who was so overtired you actually can’t make yourself sleep.
  • Thursday we had a beautiful moment as a family at Beacon Natural Market and we had a chance to show her off. Then we came home and prepared for a visit from Grandma Jan and Grandpa Drew who were coming from Northampton, MA. When they came we went to dinner at the Beacon Falls Cafe downstairs below our house and then we headed straight up to the house and off to bed. Starting to get into more of a routine.
  • Friday was a crazy busy day with Grammy & Grandpa here. Kurt and I left Iza with G &G around 10am (our first time leaving her!) and went to look at 2 potential houses to rent in Beacon (after 4 days with a munchkin we realized that there was NO WAY we could stay in our tricked out, beautifully sunny loft space and started looking. Main feature of interest? Washer and Dryer of course). Then as a family we went for a walk around town in what felt like 100 degree heat to all the shops so Iza could meet everyone. While it was probably extremely overstimulating for her, it was totally fun for everyone to meet her. She even got a bonnet as a present from Jacqueline’s shop. Then we went home for lunch and had a lactation appointment with our magical doula Sandy Trimarchi, so Grammy helped out and did the dishes. Sandy talked us through the eating process and how babies need to consume milk. She showed up some invaluable techniques and made it so we felt more comfortable with the general breast feeding process. Afterwards we took naps and G & G headed to the Dia: Beacon to relieve us and give us a break from the activity. When they came home we headed off to dinner in Cold Spring. It was all a bit too much and we have certainly learned our lesson!
  • Saturday morning we woke up and walked to the bank, the post office, Rite Aid and the Beacon Market and then headed straight home. A very quick 30 minute adventure. We decided to talk to our landlord about the lease and he came over with his two girls to see the baby. Dave was very understanding about the situation and willing to work with us, so Kurt went and put in a deposit on the house we liked best (wildly ugly on the outside, but totally new and decked out on the inside – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, massive backyard and veggie garden). Dave thought he could get someone in to look at our loft that day that had already expressed interest, so Kurt and started a cleaning frenzy then somehow worked its way into a blow out argument. We spent an hour talking through it and realized how lucky we were that we had made it through the entire week with only 1 battle on extremely little sleep, a total life change and being totally and completely off our routine. All was worked out in expert form. In the afternoon we decided to do something for us and we went to the Main Street galleries with Iza to show her off and see the new shows that were up. It was fun! Everyone was so amazed by her sweet demeanor and quietness. We then went to the Dia: Beacon and took her to soak in the raw talent of our favorite artists. She was hungry and Iza and I went outside to the bird call garden to have a minute. My first experience breastfeeding in public and with the 90+ degree heat, we certainly did not enjoy the moment. But, we got through and my shirt only had a minor explosion of milk on one side. Not too bad! We had a little tea and cookies in the cafe and then went home afterward, but not before we ‘illegally’ took pictures of Iza with our two favorite artists work. Already the talent is soaking in!
  • Sunday Granddad & Mimi came from Lancaster, PA around 12 and we hung out and played with Iza. We went briefly to the Beacon Farmers Market (about 30 minutes total, realizing that we had been overdoing it with her in the heat) and ended up at Homespun for lunch. It was nice, simple and uncomplicated. We came home, fed Iza and then just chilled out and had a glass of wine and relaxed with her. It was really nice and simple. By 4, we were absolutely wiped out and Granddad & Mimi saw it in our eyes. They headed home and we laid down and didn’t wake up until 5:30. It was a glorious moment for us as a family and other than Iza seemingly uninterested in eating, it was a great couple of hours. Around 8:30 we decided to go to the Roundhouse and have a drink to celebrate Iza’s week with us and we sat at the bar and enjoyed a lovely glass of wine and drink. We met some very cool new locals and snacked on some of the best olives EVER! Everyone was shocked at how little Iza was and happy to see that you actually didn’t need to stop your life because of baby – we reminded them that these two weeks she is essentially still in the womb and at some point she will wake up and release the CRACKIN’ and it will be impossible to go out so we are taking advantage now. We came home and tried to all go to sleep and feed Iza, but the little lady was not having it. We couldn’t seem to get her to eat all night or wake up! She just wasn’t interested. There is this little soft spot on her head and Sandy showed it to me as an indicator of whether or not she is getting enough to eat. It will be indented if she is hungry and flat if she is full. Crazy, huh? Well, it was very indented and her started my decline of stress and anxiety as to why she was not eating. Basically I was in full on meltdown mode – and it took us until 5:30am of coaxing her and working together to get her to eat. She did eventually do about 20 minutes total and we are going to aim again in a few minutes.
We each have 2 parents who are remarried (total of 8), we have my Grammy still rockin’ and rollin’ (total of 1) and in total we have 9 siblings (combined biological and step). Most have a partner (total of 17) and we have 11 Nieces and Nephews… so Iza is one incredibly loved child with already a built in network of nearly 40 family members all to love her. Not to mention the countless friends, extended family, clients and neighbors who have been patiently anticipating her arrival. Needless to say, it has been a full time job managing all these individual people! We are hoping that this site being updated will help us a little.

And that brings us to the present. It was quite a week, full of surprises and new experiences. It is hard to believe that a little more than a week ago we didn’t have Iza in our life and now we honestly CAN’T imagine life without her. She is a part of us and completes our family portrait. She is simply amazing, but with little girls everyone seems to go straight to hearts, stars, sparkles and the term Princess. Even I am guilty of it at times. Princess is not a term of endearment we want to use and when Iza’s Great Grammy called her that, my throwback was “No Grammy, she is a strong and will someday be an independent woman.” Grammy said, “That’s quite a mouthful. What about Wonder Girl?” So, here you have it… our Wonder Girl.


Preparing for Baby #1: What we Learned Along the Way

RaCo Life Iza's Announcement

We have really gone to the ends of earth to make sure that we were prepared for Iza’s arrival… although, it might be impossible to plan, preparing is an important step to any successful experience. I still got Bell’s Palsy at my 7th month mark, an indication of the stress that my body was ensuing as a result of carrying a child. In turn we challenged our own choices and worked hard to find a way in the last 3 months to rebalance my body and our birthing plan to accommodate.

Some of the external things we did to prepare:

  1. We did the Bradley Method classes. It was 8 weeks long. Sounds like a long time, but it was a Friday night social thing which gave us the opportunity to meet other parents close to our due date. We found this out through Waddle & Swaddle – and amazing kid store in Poughkeepsie and in Rhine Beck. This included methods, relaxation techniques, general understanding of birthing naturally and partner-led births. We have very minimal assistance from the doctor with this method – Kurt is pretty much handles everything leading up to the delivery provided everything goes well.
    • Why natural? If you have a natural birth, your body recovers quicker and you have an instant connection with your child. Skin to skin is the most essential part of this and offers the best opportunity to make that happen. If you deliver through the birth canal it helps to clear the mucus out of the nasal passage and throat allowing the baby to cry. It also empowers the ability to be a woman and to go through the most incredible aspect of life – giving birth. It helps with postpartum and relieves many of the concerns around allergies in children.
  2. Plus we did a yoga position and breathing workshop for a 1/2 day with Elizabeth Casasnovas-Calderon from Beacon Birth. This was one of the best experiences because it taught us to work together to bring Iza to the world and how we could help her along. Some of it was dancing, some of it was birthing positions, some was massage. In the end it offered huge confidence to Kurt and I to be able to work together.
  3. We also hired the most well-respected Doula in the area – Sandy Trimarchi who is also my yoga instructor. She gave  us a few 1-1 sessions and was there for the full birth, plus a few hours after as a lactation consultant. This was probably the most invaluable part of working with Sandy. She seriously changed my life with the information she shared with us. I was fortunate to do several classes with Sandy leading up to the birth which helped me to stay strong and prepared.
  4. I have done prenatal yoga in a group the whole way through… so I have learned a lot from the other women, including stuff like which pediatrician to go to and what questions to ask. I also did acupuncture mostly every week from early on in the pregnancy for relaxation and to keep things smooth with my energy levels. I went to a chiropractor 2 times a month and a masseuse 1 time a month to keep my back straight and loose. And I exercised regularly hiking until my 6th month, running until my 7th month and walking there after until the day I delivered.
  5. I did a registry through Harvard and Mass General Hospital for my medication and we were able to work with a genetic counselor and an imaging specialist out of Dr. Lescale’s office. We were fortunate to work with Dr. Lescale himself. We also were under the supervision of a fantastic Psychiatrist who was a female and dealt with many of these concerns around my medication before. And I had a great psychologist who is also a mom and was happy for me to voice my concerns and ongoing issues surrounding mommyhood.
  6. Pick a great pediatrician, interview them and be sure that you are making the right choices for your child early on. We were able to go to several pediatricians to make sure that we knew exactly who we would be working with. Our first experience was with a guy that basically was the epitome of everything we are not – into vaccinating before 2 years old. We ended up with a great alternative doctor from Bambini Pediatrics called Dr. Malik. In the area he is a minor celebrity for his focus around health and wellness for families. He offers both Naturopathic services and regular modern medicine. He believes in helping kids however they need to be helped.
  7. Read! Reach out to people! Be as educated as possible on your choices. The power of information is only as good as what you make of it. The more you reach out, the more you will learn.

Also, after going through the Bradley Method Classes we feel empowered to make our own choices and to not just allow the hospital / doctors to make decisions for us. We went on tours of 3 out of the 4 hospitals that we were associated with. First Putnum, (definitely never having our kid there with the cinder block walls and dark hallways and the Mid-Hudson Medical Group that we disliked immediately), then Vassar (with their politics and general issues surrounding healthful eating), next was Northern Westchester Hospital (which had a 40% cesarean rate) and finally Hudson Valley Hospital’s Birthing Center out of a recommendation from Beth Proague, a mommy and professional in Beacon. Our Doctor, Dr. Dinsmore, was local to Fishkill and was as weird and quirky as they come. But he came highly recommended and also did 2 days a week with a local clinic that I really respect.


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I have to say that when I started pregnancy I knew absolutely nothing and I felt extremely prepared after going through all the above – the car was packed and ready, car seat is in and our birth plans were already at the hospital. We were checked in and our insurance already cleared, so really the classes were extremely helpful helpful to us in understanding, preparation and getting Kurt to feel part of the process. He was totally invested and knew how vital his role was to a healthy birth!


Took the right vitamins:

Everyone takes prenatal vitamins, but does anyone actually know what’s in them? Throughout your pregnancy there are different things that you need at different times and a blanked prenatal is just not enough to do the trick. There are also too many vitamins mixed into one tablet to make it effective, so it is best to do it without taking them all at once.

Immediately you need Folic Acid and a lot of it. I ate a ton of broccoli, but supplemented with 800mg of Folic Acid as well. Then I introduced Omega 3 around my 4th month for brain development. This I still take now when I am nursing. I also started taking E3 Live which helped to regulate my body and truly made me sleep. When I still had trouble sleeping I took magnesium in my tea and now I am doing a body spray which is helping Iza with regulating her immune system.


RaCo Life Green JuiceAte organic & juiced often, but allowed ourselves to indulge in cravings:

Many women use pregnancy as an excuse to allow themselves to fall apart and just indulge in whatever they want. Really, you should be upping your health ante and eating even more healthy. Kurt and I juiced as many days as we could during the week. At the end of pregnancy this was hard because of the little space I had available, I was burping up a disgusting flavor of leaves all day long after drinking, but otherwise we maintained. I allowed myself to eat as much and as often as I wanted to. This was hard because my body wanted to eat all the time and I am not a super eater. I typically eat 4-5 small meals a day and maybe 1 big one and in pregnancy as soon as I was done with 1 thing, I was onto another meal. My time was sucked up by eating all the time!

We had large salads most of the time and Kurt became an expert gluten free baker. We cut out sugar completely and focused on eating a ton of fruit instead. I got really into frozen peas as a snack and frozen coconut and fruit smoothies as the weather got warmer. And my cravings seemed to go in waves. For a few weeks I was obsessed with eating quinoa porridge with raisins and then I couldn’t even look at it, same with avocados. It was weird to walk into a bakery or restaurant and the baby jumped with the smells. I wasn’t used to being so sensitive to my choices, but I truly turned a corner completely and focused on what Iza needed to be healthy and grow strong.

Most who know me, know I don’t eat meat, poultry, gluten, soy or dairy of any kind, so it was certainly an experience to craft my meals everyday. My favorite was Kurt’s raw bars and crackers which are 10x better than anything you can buy that’s store bought. I am a lucky girl with a chef like him!

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Indulged in a fabulous maternity wardrobe:

I was still working at the beginning of my pregnancy on a contract in Massachusetts. As a result, I made sure that my clothes were always fitting me and that I had a great balance of work and play outfits. I did not want to be one of those women always in pj’s in the middle of the day or wearing sweatpants to meetings because nothing else fit! So, I indulged.

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And made sure to continually do stuff together

We were fortunate enough that I had off for most of the end of our pregnancy, so we were able to spend as much time as we wanted together. We took full advantage by walking and talking, planning our future and being creative together. Kurt especially was much more creative in his art during this time. I, on the other hand, became exceptionally organized and focused. It was a great blend to capitalize on opportunities to work together.

RaCo Life Maternity Dress Blue HillOne of the most special items that we did was go on our own baby moon – kind of a honeymoon before the baby comes. We went to America’s best restaurant called Blue Hill at Stone Barns which is in a nearby town called Pleasantville. It was not a cheap dinner, and to prove it, we relished in every moment of it. We had 8 courses and maybe 3-4 drinks a piece. Everything was all natural, organic and grown right there on the farm. Everything was made just for us, based on our preferences and allergies. It was sensational and totally worth every penny. Kurt even did a little speech and gave me a wonderful card, filled with the sweetest message I have ever received.

We also cooked together every day and took quiet walks whenever we could. The idea that our life was about to change and a 3rd person was going to be invited into it offered us reason enough to seek as much time as possible together – for the next 20+ years we are going to be active parents and never truly alone without thoughts or worry.

Black-LineAnd in the end: 

Coco B Sweet Photo Shoot with Iza 11 Days OldNow, on the other side of all this, we are lucky. We have an insanely beautiful daughter who was brought naturally into this world and is the sweetest disposition. We were able to leave the next day from the hospital after giving birth and my milk came in within 4 days from date of delivery. We are managing to sleep through the night and our kid only squaks when she wants something, and rarely cries. We hold her whenever she wants us to and we listen to her needs because we know what to look for and the warning signs she is giving us. And in general, we are getting through… which is a lot for 1st time parents to be able to say!



RaCo Life It's All in the Name

For pronunciation, please click:

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 a baby, 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. Rache had a million ideas and all of which were shot down with force, not being the right sound, arrangement of letters or potential nickname. Eventually, out of frustration, Rache tried rearranging the letters for Zai and it spelled Iza.

We selected Iza [pronounced EE-sah] because it is a tribute to beauty, being the first part of Izabela, a Hebrew version of the Americanized name Isabella. It also means in Hebrew “My God is Vow.”

There are many other significant sources of Iza in the Muslim religion, and we have also found origins of the name from the South African Zulu origin from the  Zulu or Xhosa word meaning to “come.”

When we first shared the name with Rache’s grandmother she was certain that we had dropped the ‘L’ from the first part of the name, making it “Lisa.” So, when we shared that it was Iza in spelling, she was totally confused. Her Rabbi recently shared with her the Hebrew meaning of “Rising Up” and recognizing Iza will be raised culturally Jewish with the Zen Buddhist philosophy (she is going to be a JewBu), we find her name having a Hebrew origin is very fitting.

We are happy to stay that it stuck. Ruby is Rache’s family name and with a bunch of nutty ladies in the family, Ruby seemed to be a fitting name since she is sure to be textbook “nutso” with our combined genes!

There you have it: Iza Ruby Brand.


Click to download our very fun announcement. Here is a preview: 





Halloween Came Early, Folks!







Its been an interesting few days…let’s just say I would rather write them off as sunk, but unfortunately I have to deal with the repercussions.

On Wednesday I was in NYC for a meeting and against my better judgement I went to Brooklyn instead of NYC. It was bitterly cold and I was already uncomfortable for some reason. I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed or something and I was having trouble drinking water out of my mouth. I have been having trouble sleeping as of late, so this was an indication to me that I actually needed to sleep more.

Either way, the wind was whipping, I had traveled approx. an hour in the wrong direction to the wrong city, and was wandering around aimlessly, 45 minutes late for my meeting. It was awful, embarrassing and I was so uncomfortable. I kind of broke down at one point and just started crying in the middle of the street out of shear exhaustion and frustration. I could feel my whole body just give way to the emotions.

So, I started questioning what was going on with my body, my brain and my mouth.

Thursday I woke up and the feeling was actually worse. I volunteered at the Salvation Army and the two people I volunteer with, Michael and Lucy, are retired nurses. I mentioned my face and the weird feeling I was having and Michael did a whole bunch of tests with me. He was checking for numbness and when he didn’t find any he decided that it had to be a nerve palsy issue. YIKES!

Kurt showed up to walk with me to get our driver’s licenses and while I didn’t feel freaked out on my own, the look on his face when he saw me after Michael had pointed out the parts of my face that were not working, made me well up and cry. It was so scary for me to see Kurt’s reaction. Kurt did some research while I was on our way to our new doctors and he determined I had Bell’s Palsy. Basically it is a temporary paralysis in the face that happens during high-periods of stress. It is something that can be caused by auto immune disorders, pregnancy or Lyme’s disease.

I had a meeting scheduled with my new doctor at clinic in Peekskill near the new hospital that we are planning to deliver at. I had a meeting schedule only with the nurse and when they took 1 look at my face, they immediately brought in the doctor. I was told that I was being sent to the hospital to have it checked out.

All in all, I spent about 4 hours between the doctor and the hospital to be told what my glorious husband had already told me. The baby is totally fine and other than my freakish smile, my inability to drink water and my supremely uncomfortable dry eye, I am good to go. I am resting and doing what I can to relax my eye. It is hard to do so, but hey… it gives me an excuse to wear a pirate patch! But guess what?! The best part is that I had an excuse for why I missed the meeting on Wednesday and what was happening with my brain. Bell’s Palsy can make you disorientated, forgetful and misaligned. I clearly fit the bill.  Phew… it wasn’t just poor directional sense after all.

Bell’s Palsy can last between 2 weeks and 6 months. Hopefully it is closer to the 2 week mark!





Glowing Happy Mommy with a Fantastic “Green” Juice Recipe

I am just glowing… that’s what they say happens, but in truth I am! It is so bizarre, but I can literally feel my skin being clearer, my eyes more bright and my hair having more bounce. Its kind of like a flushed, but well tinted rosiness that can only be gifted by another.

In the last few weeks it has been getting more and more prominent, but I was just going to chalk it up to lack of alcoholic beverages and eating only healthy food. I still drink at least a ‘green’ drink every day and I try to exercise as often as possible, but the magic that lies beneath my skin is purely from pregnancy… Apparently the increased blood flow in your veins from your blood pressure makes your skin literally “glow”. Either way, I am not going to risk it and drinking at least 1 green drink a day is a requirement in my pregnancy rule book!

In the Holiday Special Green Drink today (makes 2):

1 Whole Lemon

1 Whole Apple

4 Carrots

Large Handful of Spinach

3 Kale Leaves (1/2 bunch)

1/2 Cucumber

3 Celery Stalks

I have a girlfriend who was concerned in drinking green drinks during her pregnancy, thinking it would actually be a probably for the baby after it is out of the womb. Her thought was that the baby would go into a system shock without the nutrients and feel depleted. I look at this like a daily dose of vitamins, so I can’t imagine it would have that effect. I have not found any hard evidence or clinical research on this topic either. As breastfeeding begins it is also my intention to perpetuate the daily ‘green’ drink and ultimately it will be our little ladies first drink outside of water. She wants juice? The Brand ‘green’ drink is where its at.

Kurt’s Cuisine is also a great source of these products. We have 6 total varieties available and these are for detoxes and just daily health.


Pure Exhaustion

13 weeks in and the exhaustion has just hit. Everyone says that the first trimester is a full on wipe out, but I felt great and had tons of energy and very little nausea and sickness. So, now, in the tri-mester where I am supposed be normal, I am taking on all the traits of the first tri-mester and all I can think about it sleep. It is like the last 20 years of my life has caught up with me and all I want to do is sleep it off. As we all know, the more you sleep, the less good sleep you get, so I am basically always in a slow moving state like a trance, as of late.

This weekend I decided I pretty much had gotten to the end of the rope with myself. I suppose you are not supposed to ‘push through the pain’ as I have in all other moments of my life, so now I am retraining myself to instead, be kind and still honor the exhaustion, but to establish boundaries for when and how it comes into play.

For example:

  • Don’t sleep less than 8 hours during the week, but no more than 9.
  • On the weekends, get up in the morning and do something, don’t spend the whole morning in bed.
  • Embrace exhaustion, be kind to yourself and not upset that you don’t have energy to run a marathon everyday.
  • Let Kurt pull me along when we run or hike and let him bark at me when I renege on my plan.
  • Take naps whenever I need to.

It is certainly a retraining, but it is helpful to know how important it is to the babies welfare that I am moving, active and remaining positive. And it is great to have a partner so willing to support and push me along when the going gets tough. 🙂

Ruby Girls – The Gossip Train has Left the Station

No matter what, I can know anything within an hour through the Ruby Express.

My cousin Ali is my confidant. She understands the unique nature of our family and at the same time as she is negotiating life as a new mother. We have grown up together, but apart in distance – She in Berkeley, CA and me somewhere in the Midwest or East Coast. We shared many irregular visits over the years whether in Florida or California, but with our slight age difference we had little ‘friend’ connection until we grew up.

Like my Aunt Beth, I am very close to Ali’s mom Aunt Gloria (i.e. Auntie Glo-Bug). She is my resource for all life’s challenges, psychological concerns, etc. She is very trusted and her relationship with Ali is very close. She has become the most amazing grandmother and is made for the role.

Within our family, we have a hierarchy by age. It is pretty normal for a Jewish family. When something happens, an hour later EVERYONE knows about it. Ali once coined it the “Ruby Express.” Ruby was my grandfather’s last name and all our mother’s maiden names and there is a certain way that Ruby-girl acts. They have this fire under their ass for ambition an is full of nervous energy. But they have the kindest, most generous hearts. They all have prematurely gray hair (now white) and overwhelmingly warm smiles with kind eyes. They are the best example of the quintessential Jewish matriarchal family.

There is some hardship to being a Ruby Girl; darkness within that nervous ambition which promotes direct conflict between what you want and what you are supposed to do.

“…[our] family creates narratives to some degree, but we aren’t just stories, we are all actually profound set of experiences that are constantly moving, evolving, growing, changing. one minute we are something and the next something else.” Ali wrote this to me recently. It is one of the most poignant statements anyone has ever said about our family, in defense to our generation’s inability for autonomy. 

Babies have changed the Ruby Girls and the above statement applies less. In some ways, Ali and I are now released from the high-pressure obligations that have been set on us since birth and our mothers have found new roles. We have provided additional ‘train cars’ to the Ruby Girl Express; two little perfect girls, with fresh and virgin hearts, capable of absolutely anything, who will evolve into their own people, with the support, love, and care of shiny and bright Ruby’s.

Jan and Andrew Sneak Peek 003

Me and Ali

The Eternal Baseline

Balance is clearly important. It is not something I am good at, nor do I do well with putting myself into the box of routine… so I am trying. First up is getting back to a normal work schedule (i.e. 7-5pmish Monday – Friday), yoga as often as I can muster and then finally focusing on activities that are a couple of times a week. I have decided that those are the Macrodinner on Friday nights and UU on Sunday. So far, so good and at 3 weeks in, I am feeling great. Like most routines, eventually I know that this will be broken by travel for family, work or friend obligations, or possibly just because it is too wonderful to sleep and not get out of bed, but for now I am committed to trying.

Just like the seasons we ebb and flow with the moment. I have noticed that in relationships I struggle to incorporate someone else into my balance as I just don’t leave a lot of room for error. In having such a delicate struggle, I am working through what it means to engage someone else. Can balance be that thing that you always come back to; our internal baseline? This is what I know:

  • No matter what, my body wakes up between 5 & 5:30am no matter where I am in the world. It just adjusts.
  • I can sleep anywhere, including standing up and at 10pm my body starts to shut down. At midnight (as most of my friends will attest) I pass out wherever I am.
  • Raw food is my main, but I enjoy some cooked food. I try for no less than 50% of my diet to come from Raw food, but no more than 80%.
  • I like a good tequila and/or 3 fingers of a sensational single malt scotch, neat.
  • Having a home with my artwork collection on the walls is essential to my character and I cannot live without it.
  • Running every other day is essential to staying sane and I like to kayak as often as possible.
  • I need to have lots of time to work… no matter what I am working on. I like to just have time.
  • Family is all important, next to restaurants.

It is interesting that I always come back to food as a part of my constant. No matter what it is essential to what I do everyday and what I intake absolutely effects my mood, my balance and my day.

I have been talking and thinking about this concept, FOREVER, and now I am going to put it into motion: Ra’Co. 50% Raw Food, 50% Cook Food and I am going to do it with this great Raw Food Chef, Kurt Uchtman. Who knows where it will go, but hopefully there is a clear path at the end of how we can spread this message.

Learning to Walk to the Left and a Host of Other Things

It has been an interesting year. I am currently in Chicago for the second time working on a client project – Chef Jenn Stoker’s brand – and building up my network in the Midwestern community. It is such a beautiful city and as I sit in my token Starbucks, contemplating life and sipping my 1st double espresso Stateside, I am overwhelmed with the feeling of choices. Before me is a bountiful array of opportunity, the pool swimming with positives and negatives, but choice belonging to me. What will I do next? Simple answer – lots.

But first I will start with some observation.

I have just come from a meeting / breakfast with a friend and esteemed colleague Eric. He is in town from Southern Illinois for an AIGA event he is running in town. We have worked together for over two years on ideas, projects and brainstorming, but only met in person for the first time in January and now this is our second meeting – this time with the family in tow.

This morning, it was a great opportunity for me to see the other side of Eric, the family man. I observed Eric with his family and listened to his wife discuss his forward thinking approach and his ability to do anything that he wants as it relates to making money – and the fact that he chooses to focus on community involvement and non-profits instead, but in a very undirected matter. I know this about Eric, but it is interesting to see a spousal view of his business choices. You can sense the tension even though I know that she is ridiculously proud of him. He is like a bird following a shiny object when it comes to opportunities; he heads towards the newest and shiniest one, seeking the opportunities that like me are going to change the world for the better. And it doesn’t matter if the end result brings him cash, he just likes the journey, the discovery and ultimately the passion that comes from it. Being the bird that he is has advantages and disadvantages long and short term.

In my own marriage I was revered by my husband and I was never challenged or questioned on my choices, which was a blessing and a curse. He knew that I always had our lifestyle and future in mind, but the choices were still mine which almost added a second layer of pressure to make the right decision. I would say I was like Eric – a bit undirected and flitting around – not making specific choices, but just following the shiny objects aimlessly so I didn’t consciously disrupt the balance that was in place.

Why did I do this? I think that it had a lot to do with the pressure of performance: What if I do this thing that I really believe in and what if it fails? Will I lose everything? I was scared.

In my now current moment of unwed-dom (pending my April 13th court date, of course), I am finally building in the framework for my own future and building a business plan for my life, my exit strategy and where I want to go during the time in between. I am less like a bird and now more like a cheetah and I am finally directed: #1 know what I want (SEEK),  #2 learn everything about it / work harder than anyone else (STALK), and #3 figure out how to get it (DESTROY or maybe CONQUER is a better word).

  • SEEK

Eric’s wife Sara and I touched on the topic of marriage briefly and she had a very interesting take on marriage and she said she felt that not wanting to get married was selfish because it seemed like not wanting to share your life with someone. Living in London where NO one gets married, I haven’t really spent a lot of time thinking about whether marriage is right for me or not. After thinking through what she said on my walk home, I don’t think sharing vs. shelfishness is the reason for me getting married or not. I think marriage is a very conventional and defined union which doesn’t work for everyone. Perhaps I feel this way because my mother is the woman who has always wanted the white picket fence and marriage is top on her priority list still at 60 years old (even though she has already had two very successful marriages which ended) and she promotes it so much that it makes me go the other way, but maybe it is also because I have already had the perfect, completely successful marriage and I have exited from it in a very positive way.

I have lots of friends who are in the boat at 30ish seeking a man to make all their dreams come true and unwilling to compromise for less than magic. Unrealistic? Maybe, but I don’t blame them. Each and everyone of them absolutely deserves it. I, on the other hand, am fortunate enough to have had the perfect marriage already and now it is my time to focus on my life. I was in love with a man in a way I could have ever dared imagined – the best part being we really liked each other, and especially we liked living together as partners. Neither of us really believed in the conventions of marriage at the beginning, but believed in saving 7-10% on taxes and lots of money on health insurance so we got married. So why didn’t this perfect marriage work? Well, the imperfection was I didn’t get what I needed for the business plan of my life from the relationship. I was undirected because I didn’t want to compromise my precious happy marriage. It was too perfect, maybe. When I did finally make changes, and began realizing what I wanted to do for my future, I lost the balance and it all fell apart. Like a braided river, we branched off into different directions and I found my inner cheetah… maybe only for this moment and I will revert back to wanting a marriage again, but perhaps this feeling could be for life. Either way, I get to choose.

I am left asking myself more questions – is it really important to have it all?

Easy answer for this morning is, “No.” I think for my future it will be about my partnerships sharing a common lifestyle and interest and less about being in a loving and perfect marriage. In some cases it could be enough with the common interest being children. It could be with one partner or several. You have to really like the person (not necessarily love them, but LIKE them enough) to want to spend years raising your children and living in a communal environment, so I want to.

So, when I think about the place I am in, I am learning to walk to the left, finally. I am happy in London and joyful being a free spirit in an environment which could only be cultivated by Europeans. I am content in my life and learning I get to make the choices for the next steps in my future. I am 30 and I feel 30, which is great to not want to be younger or older anymore. This is my year. I believe in myself, my abilities and I know I can do anything I want. I know that I will have children in the next year or two and I know that I will do it with or without a partner. I know that I will build my business with or without investment and support and I know that I will be successful whether it is defined by conventional success or not. I know I will eventually get my PhD and I will be an internationally recognized icon for the work that I do with food, the future and kids. Eventually part of my exit strategy is that I will have a chance to be able to have a retreat in the woods with my own veg patch and garden full of grandchildren, with or without a partner, but definitely with lots of friends. My own little eco utopia.

What’s your business plan for life? Keep in mind the exit strategy!