Friday, April 14, 2017

New ideas about EC (elimination communication), mamacharis (?) and importing (????)

Hey all!

So, baby Charlotte is a mobile little dynamo. She can't walk... yet... but she's 3 days shy of 10 months. Cruising really well on furniture, and here's a clip of her climbing the stairs!

In honor of the Ringling Bros/Barnum and Bailey Circus going out of business, we managed to score tickets to the nearest location, which was Wilkes-Barre - about a 80 minute drive from Harrisburg. I had never seen it before, though I had seen some smaller circuses with less impressive acts. This was top shelf, though my mother-in-law said that it used to be much more exciting when the elephants were still part of the show.

But the clowns were fun!

Even if Daniel was a little freaked out by them and wouldn't crack a smile.

So, I've been doing EC (elimination communication) with little Charlotte lately. Not full-bore gung-ho "we don't use diapers because I watch my baby's signals" EC, but most of the poops have been going in the potty, which is always nicer than having to wipe it off a bum and scrape it out of a diaper. And sometimes we get pees in the potty too,

One of the tricky things for ECing a baby is the fine line between easy potty access clothing and the desire for clean floors and keeping private bits private. The Chinese tend to swing to the easy access end with "split pants", but children then pee wherever, and their little bits are very visible. Here, everything is geared toward keeping the surroundings clean, but fast, easy access is not a high priority. Snap crotch shirts spring to mind immediately, and a lot of cloth diapers are very fiddly to take off and put back on unless the baby is lying down.

So, while browsing a Japanese website, I discovered these diaper covers that are recommended for preschoolers learning to use the potty. Since Charlotte is probably the same size as a Japanese preschooler, I ordered them, and I'm charmed! This is how they work -

The velcro belt wraps around the tummy, you tuck an absorbent pad or prefold in the cover, making sure it's held up in the back by the belt part, and bring the front tabs up to anchor it in place. The front pulls away easily enough and reattaches without fuss, making potty visits pretty easy.

I like them, but they're hard to find in this style in the US. I did find a few wholesale suppliers on, but I'm not sure if I would get much interest from the EC community, since they tend to also be very big on local, sustainable, fair trade, etc, and it's hard to confirm conditions via alibaba. And I am NOT going to start sewing them again. No. I may look into this a little further to see if I can find a reputable supplier, though - I think if I got a decent brand with an ethical supplier, they could sell here.

And on the idea that "if they were here, I bet they would sell" - Meet the Mamachari!


This bike is freaking EVERYWHERE in Japan. Look at the structure on those child seats, and how the front one is built into the handlebars! When those kids fall asleep on a long ride, they're not going to need anything special to keep them from flopping over - in fact, the front seat even RECLINES. BTW, both of those seats are designed to function as baskets when the kids aren't in them. What's more, all the mamacharis are designed with heavy duty kickstands, front wheel "de-flopilators" to keep the front end rigid when parked, dynamo lights, chain guards, and skirt guards. They tend to be single or three-speeds, but many of them come equipped with electric pedal assist.

And do you think you can buy them in the US? HECK NO! Not new, anyway. The entire mamachari market outside Japan is based on people who went there, bought one, moved away, and are finally selling it because their kids grew up.

But. I have found a used Japanese bicycle seller that will sell a 20' shipping container of 100 USED mamacharis - some of which would even have electric assist. Typically these shipping container bikes are sold to 3rd world countries, but since these are so unusual and interesting, I think there's a possibility that they could be refurbished and sold here at a decent profit. The trick would be raising the initial capital.

So, tell me - if you saw a bike like that on craigslist or eBay for, say, $400 plus shipping, or $600 plus shipping with pedal assist, would you consider buying it? The front child seat would be on there already, the rear seat might not come with it (but they're fairly easy to find here). Bike shipping within the continental US is usually in the ballpark of $150.

Let's hear it - what are your questions about the mamachari?

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