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.

Mindfulness at work. From the Studio 2-15-15.

Mindfulness in the studio.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’ve been working on the Emptiness series all week and getting nowhere. A large canvas has been tormenting me for several months and I have allowed it to do so, and that is why it is failing. The important thing is not that it is not coming out the way I want it to, but that my mind is not clear when it doesn’t look right and I have to start all over again. I get pissed, stressed and bring those feelings home and into others’ lives. My family shouldn’t have to deal with this. And with this one large canvas I am striving for perfection; a big mistake. Nothing is ever perfect. The 3rd Patriarch says:

One thing, all things
move among and intermingle,
without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.

I am on the fourth attempt now and that is all I will try with this one. If it fails again I will have to live with it. Often, jazz musicians in the past only recorded three takes on a composition. After that the performance went stale because the spontaneity and freshness were gone. Maybe I should listen to them.

Mindfulness at work

A big part of this series is the practice of mindfulness while I am painting. While doing the work I try to focus on my breath, the sound of the brush hitting the canvas, the waves from the lake below crashing against the rocks, the wind blowing against my back. The moment. This is where it is really at. My practice. It IS meditation and the nature of this series allows me to stay in the moment while I am working. I have to stay present because any little slip up will ruin the painting.

One piece I was working on in tandem with the large canvas was successful after the second attempt and I am happy with the results of that piece. I can see where my mind was while making that piece. But I don’t get all excited. I look at it as part of the bigger picture. Practicing mindfulness is an important thing so I can better understand the nature of reality and my true being. Doing a great painting or a bad painting are secondary. Clarity and realization are what I hope to achieve with my art. And this is what Ra’Co life is all about. The middle way.


I should have been better practicing mindfulness when painting this piece. I ended up killing it.
This one I actually messed up. The next one I kept.

As the larger canvas dries,  I am now looking at things from the proper perspective. The big picture, the practice of mindfulness.  Stay clear while working, learn from and accept the mistakes, and let the pieces live, warts and all. They are there as a reminder.

The failed third attempt in progress. More mindfulness next time.
The failed third attempt in progress.

These words remind of a time when I was playing in a band called the Meta-G’s in Cleveland, Ohio. We were ill, real ill. The funkiest and the heaviest band with massive potential. 3 rappers, guitar, bass and the funkiest drummer around. 3 black dudes, 2 Jewish cats and me, the weird white guy. We were the future. But nothing ever really came of the band because everybody wanted to be rock stars without making the necessary sacrifices. Too much ego, too many distractions too much of everything. Anyway, we had a big gig lined up at The Hard Rock Cafe in Boston which was about a 12-14 hour drive from Cleveland. We practiced and prepared for that gig for a long time. When it came time to leave for Boston we were all crazy with excitement about what exposure we might get from a goof performance. We were going to blow up.

We got to Boston, partied the night before, and slept long into the next day resting up for the gig. Everybody met at the club that night and we went backstage to warm up. After the first band finished we were all tuned up and ready to go. Or so we thought. The place was packed and people were amped and we took our place behind the curtain to await our introduction. Smoke was filing the stage, lights flashing, people screaming. Just then, right before the guy called out name, I noticed that my guitar was drastically out of tune. Turns out I had tuned up in silence with a chromatic tuner that was set wrong and I was tuned totally wrong. I did my best to get back in tune in about 3 seconds before the curtain went up but it was too late, the gig was shot. We finished the set but most of the people had started to filter out. We all walked out of the club, heads hung low…I had blown it for everyone.

Later that night we watched the video from the gig and it was torture. I tried to get up and walk away but somebody yelled at me, “Sit down, these are game tapes and you have to watch them”. They were right. I had to let it sink in so nothing like this would ever happen again.

The Meta-G’s broke up a few months later, but the truth is it had nothing to do with that gig. We needed a lot more work before we were ready and we needed to play a lot more of those gigs before the big one hit.

The only time we practiced mindfulness was when we were playing music.
The Meta-G’s around ’94 or so.


And I have nightmares about that gig to this day. Well, maybe not anymore. I learned a lot from it and now I am applying it to what I am doing with my paintings. I need to do a lot more of them before I am really happy with the results. A few bad paintings are not going to ruin the whole series, they will make it stronger. I plan on creating 50 paintings for the Emptiness series and then moving on. I’m only on my fifth one. Time to get back to work.

So how do we practice mindfulness? Check out this post from to get you started. The practice should be carried out in every aspect of your life. Working, cooking, brushing your teeth, walking the dog…all are opportunities for realization. Just try. With time and practice a mysterious feeling will creep in. You may start to feel lighter, more ebullient, your problems will seem less important, and you will feel a sense of gratitude for your life. The calmness and clarity that comes from serious mindfulness practice is worth the effort. Give it a try.









Yesterday and Today, Same Mind

Yesterday I was laying in bed at 4:30 in the morning and I just wanted to get up, go sit and then paint. But Rache got up to work, Iza was crying and I couldn’t do anything. I was trapped. Today, I woke to the soft hum of a distant boat on the lake, sat and then went straight to painting. Beautiful morning. But I try to keep the same mind whether it goes my way or not. The Third Patriarch of Zen, Seng-T’san, said:

“If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything.”

Most of us are not enlightened monks so we have to find a balance. But whether things are going our way or not, we still have to have the same mind, constantly looking inward and not giving importance to what happens outside of us.