Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Folding bike!

I've wanted a folding bike for a while. It's fairly common, I think, among cargo bike lovers to also want a bike that you can take anywhere (including in the cargo bike itself). So I was doing some freelance gigs and writing, saving my money, and watching for a good deal.

The thing about folding bikes is that good ones tend to cost a good amount of money. For example, a Brompton  like the one above (quite possibly the sexiest folding bike on the market) will run a cool $1800 with the options that I would want on it.

A Dahon, also an excellent folding bike company, was a more reasonable option, but new they cost $700 and up. I had my eyes open for a used one, but many were single or 3 speeds, 30 years old, and in iffy condition for $100 - $150... or were newer, but 100 miles away and were priced somewhat out of my budget at $350 - $500.

So I had made up my mind to order a nice, entry-level folding bike from Citizen Bikes.

This model was the one I was thinking of - for only $300 plus $30 shipping, I could have a 26 lb alloy folding bike with 6 speeds. Pretty cool.

THEN. One amazing day (Monday) I decided to check craigslist yet again, just to see if there was anything new.

A scant mile away from my house was a used Dahon, maybe 6 - 8 years old, for $75. The owner said a friend had given it to him about 5 years ago, and the first time he had unfolded it was to take pictures for craigslist. I couldn't see any gears in the picture, so I figured it was probably a 3 speed internal hub. The owner didn't know enough about it to tell me, but he said he thought it was a 3 speed. At that price, I was willing to drop a few speeds - I asked if I could come take a look. After all, it's not like it was far at all.

Oh. Man. It wasn't a 3 speed. It was an internal EIGHT speed with a chain guard, an aluminum frame, and a hub dynamo light on the front! The rear light still had the 5 year old batteries in it, so it was sadly corroded out, but the (flat) tires took and held air like they had been waiting for the opportunity! The brakes didn't even need to be adjusted, though the handlebars did. It had a spring-loaded, two-footed kickstand, perfect for holding the bike up either folded or unfolded. I hopped on, rode for about 15 feet, and realized that if I didn't put money in that guy's hand and get the bike in my car NOW, someone else would... or he would figure out what the bike was really worth and raise the price! I paid him the $75 and waltzed home!


I wanted to update this before, but the website wouldn't let me - now I know it was because there was more to add to the story!

So I bought the super sweet aluminum Dahon, but there was only one thing that I would have changed - it had 24" tires. Obviously on a deal like this, it wasn't going to stop me from buying and enjoying the bike, but it would have been nice to have a bike that folded up a little smaller.

2 days later, I was still flying high and feeling smug about that find, when my husband turned to me and said "There's another Dahon for sale 30 minutes from here - a 7 speed with 16" wheels for $80. ".

I stared for a second and said "My freelance account can cover that."

So now we have two folding Dahons!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Potty training (at last!)

I have to say, I thought I'd have this done a long time ago. I did Elimination Communication with Tristan from when he was about 4 months old, and was inordinately proud that I almost never had to change a poopy diaper... up until he started eating more solids than breastmilk and became more mobile at the same time. The combination of the firmer stools with the knowledge that he could take off at any time worked against me, and EC went by the wayside.

Meanwhile, I've bought piles of underwear, training pants, and various potties, all hoping to get the magic combo that would make him use the potty. And you know what? None of it helped.

What finally helped was a book called "Oh Crap! Potty Training", by Jamie Glowacki. I'd heard great things about this book, but I resisted buying it for ages. By the time I broke down and bought it, Tristan was well past her "ideal training window" age between 20 and 30 months old, but her principles still worked - she has sections in the book about how to potty train older kids, dealing with special circumstances, and how to deal with day care.

For me, the big mental shifts were not ASKING Tristan if he had to go potty, but telling him very matter-of-fact-ly that it was time to go sit on the potty for a minute. And the other was asking myself "What is your child capable of?" - he can run, climb, talk rings around people, and likes being a big helper. Of course he was capable of understanding that poop and pee go in the potty, and doing it himself! And because I have a little guy who loves to mess with me, none of the potties or inserts would do for him - he had to sit on the REAL toilet to do his stuff. Because of COURSE he would do that. <eyeroll>

The other quirk is that to do this for real, you have to commit. Clear the schedule, stay home for a few days, and for the first few days the trainee is supposed to be bare-bottomed so you can see what little body clues they give you before they go. That was old hat for me, since we had done the EC thing before, so we pretty much skipped to step 2, commando in pants. Yeah. None of those fancy training pants I've been so excited about, no undies. Just pants. The reason? Underwear and trainers feel snug around the butt, just like a diaper. There's no motivation to go, because it feels about the same as a diaper. Commando feels a lot more gross to a little kid - the poop and pee slides down the leg, and... ewwww. Much more motivating. (It should go without saying, but I will anyway - Pull-Ups do not work - they are diapers that slide a little easier, not a potty training aid. They must be ditched if you're using disposables and potty training - the only exceptions are nap and bedtimes.)

The whole potty continuum goes from clueless to "I peed" to "I'm peeing" to "I'm about to pee!". Tristan had been telling me for the past few weeks when his diaper was wet, so I knew he was very close here - it can take a lot longer than this for some kids. We're on day 5 of training, and we've had a few mishaps - a poop on the floor while I was still in the shower, another in a pair of very loose waterproof training pants (we had to go to an appointment, and I wasn't confident). But today and yesterday he was dry all his waking hours! and today he even got himself onto the potty before I could get there, and did a great poop all by himself! Last night was funny as we were trying to get settled for bed and he was already in his cloth diaper, he sat up in bed and said "You gotta be kidding me - I gotta go again!". Sure enough, he held it until we got to the potty.

At this stage, the only thing I'm thinking we need is a pair or three of Super Undies Bedwetter pants. Daniel has used them with a great deal of success, they're very well made and pull up and down easily, and unlike the rest of the training pants I have around, they'll stand up to a whole night of use. And I won't have to worry if I have enough cloth diapers between the new baby (her name will be Charlotte Elizabeth) and Tristan - what a relief!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Politics and other options

I'm not a very political person. I've been waiting this primary season out, hoping it would all blow over. But here it is - Trump is the nominee (or as good as) for the Republican Party, and it looks like Hillary will likely take the Democratic nomination.

I refuse to vote for either of them.

That doesn't mean I won't be voting.

It's funny how we can get so sucked into the either/or mentality - and the media doesn't do anything to help us come up with other ideas, either.

But I'm a person who looks for other options. Huggies, Pampers, or Luvs? How about cloth? Enfamil or Similac? How about breastmilk? Take the car downtown? Why not get the bike set up to ride with the kids?

So when I'm told that it's a Trump/Hillary race, I say "What about the Libertarian candidate?" Gary Johnson actually seems like a reasonable candidate. Of course, I know that the last third party candidate who made a splash (Ross Perot) didn't get a single electoral vote, but he wasn't up against such disliked candidates as these two. I have hope.

What's more, I'm a dreamer. I know people aren't going to drop disposables for cloth or switch to bike riding tomorrow, and the two party system is deeply ingrained. But I can choose where my vote will go, and as a matter of principle it will not go to either of the two big candidates.