October 28, 2016

Support Indie Authors Free and Discounted Books

Do you like books?

Of course you do, you're not a monster. (Halloween pun? Anybody?)

Well then, check this out: From Friday October 28 through Monday October 31, choose from over 75 books written by indie authors in different genres either discounted or totally 100% free!

You're welcome.

October 17, 2016

How to Get a Free Dog Sitter or House Sitter

Don't pay to kennel your dogs when they'll just come back smelly and anxious. Get someone to come to your house to feed them, cuddle them, and water your plants!

It's easy: Services such as MindMyHouse.com and TrustedHouseSitter.com connect those who need a house/pet sitter with those who enjoy travel. Some people charge a fee, but many people do it free, just for a place to stay in a new city.

On many of these sites it's free for home owners to post a job, and the site charges the potential house/pet sitter to contact you.

We used MindMyHouse, posted an ad with the details and had three applicants in a week or so. The young woman we chose was just moving out to the Denver area from New York and didn't have a place to stay. She was couch surfing with her friends, but wanted some time in a place to herself.

We had her come over to the house for an interview, to meet the dogs and so we could make sure she wasn't actually a serial killer. She was super nice and great with the boys, so we set it up.

The house was kept in good order, the dogs were fed, and the night we returned from our trip, she even stayed an extra night and babysat Babs so we could go out to a concert! It was an excellent, mutually beneficial deal.

And this house sitting swap makes me think about being on the other end of the service as a traveller. What a great way to see the country, and the world! Get a free place to stay in exchange for feeding and cuddling with some animals? Sounds pretty good doesn't it?

October 11, 2016

Cloth Diapers and Potty Training

It's so easy to just wrap up a turd in a diaper and throw the whole thing away that it's tempting to forget what happens next: It goes to a landfill, where it sits for up to several hundred years until it decomposes. Yuck.

Not to mention they cost an average of 30 cents apiece (Pampers large pack on Amazon Subscribe & Save). Double-yuck.

Which brings me to:

1. Cloth Diapers

I was scared of even talking about cloth diapers. I was a new mom, still trying to figure out what to feed my child and how to get her to sleep so I could get some goddamn sleep myself and now you want me to wash the shit out of her drawers?? No, thank you.

But the truth is, cloth diapers are easy. If I had been open to it and allowed for a few days of learning curve, I would have understood that. But that's me for ya. Uncooperative. (Cue Mr. Go emphatically nodding in the background.)

There are a plethora of "diapering systems" available, which try to sell you on all sorts of shit you don't need, so here's the skinny: the cheapest we could find were Alva Baby. And they work just fine. People tell you to try several different brands to find which fits your baby the best, blah, blah. You're already going to have to wash shit out in the sink, I don't want this to be any harder on you.

Buy the Alva Baby diapers. If you get excessive leakage, maybe they don't fit right and you should try something else. But the diaper shells have a zillion snaps on them so you can customize the fit. It's probs gonna work out just fine for you.

The solid color are the cheapest, at $4.79. Get those, and you can choose what insert you want. (The inserts are the absorbent pads that soak up all the pee, which you tuck inside the colorful outer shell.) They come automatically with a 3-layer pad, which was always good for about 1 hour of wear for my 2 year old. You can choose to increase the pad to a 3-layer plus bamboo, 4-layer, 4-layer plus charcoal (which increases absorbency), 5-layer, or 5-layer plus charcoal, for $1-$1.20 extra.

Buy 5 diapers. Get 3 of them with regular pads, get one with a 4-layer pad, and get one with a 5-layer pad. 

We still put disposables on her for bedtime because she always seemed to leak. A friend of mine doubled up the pads in her cloth diapers for nap times, and even wrapped the doubled-up pads in absorbent burp cloths for safety. Her kid looked like a bumble bee with a gigantic bubble butt. But it worked.

Try them on your kid to figure out which snaps fit best. For Babs, we snapped with 2 snaps left in the middle. Snap all three of the snaps on the tabs.

Wash everything before you use them. It helps increase absorbency in bamboo. Don't ask me how. (Max absorbency is after 8 washes. Just throw them in with your laundry for a few loads. I only did it like 3 times before starting to use them.)

Washing Cloth Diapers

For pee-dirty diapers, toss them in a little bucket or a plastic bag until the end of the day.

For poopy diapers, roll the turd into the toilet if you can. If it's a real squishy raisin shit, you may have to scrape it off with a paper towel, or even rinse it in the sink a bit first. Then toss it in a little bucket or plastic bag until the end of the day.

At the end of the day, remove the pads from the shells and throw everything in the washer. Use a pre-wash or soak cycle with cold water first, then wash with the hottest water available. (Most instructions outside the U.S. say to wash them in cold water. Some people wash in warm. Honestly, whatever you do, it'll get the shit off and it'll be fine.)

Use laundry detergent free of dyes and perfumes. Do not use fabric softener. Hang to dry. Or throw the pads in the dryer on delicate if they're still wet; it won't hurt them.

If you buy more than 5 you may not need to wash every day. You may only need to wash every other day, which is great.

We only used ours for 4 months, so they barely stained and didn't smell at all after washing, but I hear sometimes that happens. Google it, there will be tips.

If you're still overwhelmed, get someone else to figure that shit out for you (literally). Your husband, your mom, your mother-in-law, a very good friend. It's ok to hand it off.

Next up is:

2. Potty Training

Babs is potty trained! She still needs help wiping, and still wears diapers for bedtime, but we've gotten away with only minor accidents.

Here's how we did it:

First, decide on a reward. Some use a chart with star stickers. Some just use a nice crisp high five. We used chocolate candy. Bribery? Possibly, but oh well.

Then, just take the diaper off. Put the diapers out of view. Let her run bare-assed through the house. (Stay home for the first day or so.) Ask her frequently if she has to potty and reinforce that big kids (and mom and dad) go pee and poop on the big potty.

Get super excited when she puts something in the potty, even if it's just a toot. Hopefully she will start wanting to sit on it. When she was getting one M&M for pee in the potty and two for poops, she figured out pretty quick that she could sit and pee a little bit, get a treat, then sit again 30 seconds later and try to con us out of another treat. So we had to get a little more restrictive with the treats.

When she started going poop without much fuss, we gave her a new pair of underwear for each successful turd. Fun colors and prints! Big kid undies! Even better than M&Ms!

She was ready for this step, and she didn't like the feeling of pee in her underwear so it was a pretty easy transition. If, after two or three days, you're still getting a lot of accidents, wait a couple weeks and try again.

Remember that in new surroundings and distracting situations, she may forget, so ask frequently. Even if she says no, take her to the potty at every opportunity.

There's nothing like the freedom and fear of taking a diaper-less kid to the grocery store for the first time. What exhilaration! She's becoming a small adult!

I miss some things about her being a little nugget, but in terms of cleaning up poop, this is one area I'm glad she's grown up.