Saturday, May 31, 2014

Brother and Sister Small Business Duo!

If you follow @spraypal on Instagram, you may have already seen some of the numerous pictures I've posted of my brother's new craft beer brewery, Beach City Brewery.  Since it opened about two weeks ago, we've been heading over there a bunch as a family to eat from the many food trucks that stop by, and I couldn't be happier to see his dream of owning his own brewery become a reality.

Then, a few days ago, our two worlds collided (in a good way, of course!).  He emailed me asking if I had heard of Club MomMe and if we'd be able to help him out with pouring their craft beer at their SpringFest event next weekend.  Of course we were thrilled to be able to help, and even signed up to get Spray Pal on board with a booth as well!  Funny that we heard about this super fun expecting mom and baby event from my brother the brewery owner, lol! So now, if you're in the Orange County, CA area on June 7th, you can stop by and visit me at the Spray Pal booth and Mr. Spray Pal and (not so) little brother Spray Pal aka Mr. Beach City Brewery at the beer tent and learn all about cloth diapers and craft beer!  There's something for everyone, right?! ;)

Besides just meeting a good portion of the Spray Pal fam, you'll also hear from some amazing panelists and speakers such as Dr. Harvey Karp from Happiest Baby & Toddler, Daddy & Company, My Life as a Dad, Daddy Doin' Work, and more!  You can also partake in some fun, family-friendly festivities!  If you haven't reserved your spot yet, you still have a few days left and you can order tickets HERE.  Many of the VIP tickets are sold out, but there are still a few options available.  You definitely won't want to miss out on the goodie bags and the amazing giveaways!

You can also enter to win a Family Ticket below.  Includes 2 Adult tickets and kids plus one gift bag with a ton of product & goodies.  Good luck and we hope to see you there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 26, 2014

Tips for Stress-Free Potty Training

Potty Training the EASY and eco-friendly way!

You may be wondering why a brand like Spray Pal would be writing about tips for helping your kids succeed without their cloth diapers, but here’s the thing. Most parents find that their kids will actually potty train sooner when wearing cloth. This is likely due to the fact that with cloth diapers, you have the option of allowing your child to feel the wetness, which signals to them that something has happened down there that they don’t necessarily feel comfortable sitting in, as opposed to disposable diapers which contain harsh chemicals and “stay dry crystals” that are meant to keep your child from feeling wet.

Mini Spray Pal 1.0 actually started noticing this phenomenon at around 18 months, and by 21 months she was telling us in her own words and signals that she wanted to go on the potty and didn’t want to wear her diapers anymore. By waiting until she was ready and going off of her cues, she completely ditched the diapers well before she turned 2, which was bittersweet for me because I loved her adorable fluff!

Not to fear, we still had our little guy rocking the cloth in the NICU. Now that he’s turned 2 and is still facing lots of developmental delays, we’re realizing he’ll probably be in his cloth diapers for an extensive amount of time. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start reading his signals and practicing elimination communication for those times he’s clearly showing us he’s ready to go. Every opportunity for him to communicate something with us is a good one, and this will just prepare him down the road as he starts to make the connection that the bathroom and the toilet is where this stuff is actually supposed to happen.

Here are my tips as we start down the road toward bathroom independence:

  • Look for cues, but don’t force it. If your child is giving obvious signs that s/he is about to have some potty action, just ask in a super friendly tone, “Would you like to go sit on your big kid potty?” If they accept the invitation, just go with it!

  • Stay positive and encouraging. If your child isn’t in the mood to go on the potty at that moment, just act like it’s no big deal. But the times that they do choose to make the attempt, play into those moments. Tell them how exciting it is and how proud you are and basically just ham it up and act like a goofball. They’ll love this positive reinforcement and they’ll remember it next time you ask if they want to use the potty.

  • Play down the accidents. If your child is going without diapers, and doesn’t quite make it to the potty, just play it down. Clean it up and go on with your day. You definitely don’t want them to start thinking it’s hilarious when mommy or daddy freaks out about the mess on the floor! Maybe ask a bit more frequently after that if they’d like to try the potty and see the previous tip. ;)

  • Give TONS of positive praise, even if they just try. We never had to do a reward system or treats with my daughter when she started using the potty. She just loved hearing how excited and proud we were of her! Of course there are some kids who respond better to candy, so you’ll have to go with your gut on this one. You know your kid best! ;)

  • Don’t beat yourself up! You are doing a great job, mama, no matter what happens. If your child isn’t quite getting it after a few days, it might be time to throw up the white flag and save it for another time. It’s not the end of the world if you have to wait a few more weeks, especially if you’re using your cloth diapers! At least you won’t have to run out for a few more packs of diapers, right? :)

So, since we’ve recently started working on this with mini Spray Pal 2.0, we have teamed up with some amazing companies to offer some super helpful tips and products that can make this journey easier! One lucky winner will win a gift set containing one of each of these useful products!

Potty Training Must Haves:

1. Oops! Sheet. Prize value $40. This is a waterproof cotton mattress protector for night time potty training and occasional oopsies. Learning is a process, and accidents can happen, so protect your mattress with this great mom-created product! Available in sizes ranging from crib to king.

2. A Joovy Loo. Prize value $40. In the beginning stages of learning, it’s important that your child have a small, easy to access place to practice using the potty. We highly recommend the Joovy Loo potty chair. The folks at Joovy have designed this potty chair to be just as functional as it is stylish, which means it’s easy to clean (always a plus in the Spray Pal household). You can read more about them by clicking the link.

3. EcoNuts Natural Ammonia Bouncer. Prize value $16.50. Depending on how many accidents you have to clean up, you may need this product all throughout the various stages of potty training. I’ve actually seen this product in action first hand, and it’s amazing how it actually does destroy the strong ammonia smell with only natural ingredients! Safe to use on cloth diapers or anything that ends up getting pee on it, you can even add it to a spray bottle to spritz it on accident spots.

4. Joovy StepTool. Prize value $20. Some sort of step stool is a good idea to have around from the very beginning stages of potty learning because your kids will feel a great sense of accomplishment after they do their business and wash their hands in the grown up sink. Joovy is giving away one of their stylish StepTools for this purpose, and it will pair perfectly with our next innovative product.

5. Aqueduck Faucet Extender. Prize Value $13. This is another mom invented product that was created out of necessity. When Susanna’s kids were getting to be too big and heavy to hold up to wash their hands, she created the Aqueduck faucet extender to solve the problem. This makes the water from your sink easy for your child to reach when they’re finished using the potty and need to wash up.

6. A Spray Pal. Prize value $25. You’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute. I already have a Spray Pal. Isn’t it just a cloth diaper sprayer splatter shield for protecting my bathroom and walls from the poop splatter? What does this have to do with potty training?” Well, let me tell you. One of our amazing fans gave us an idea for repurposing the Spray Pal splatter shield after your boys are out of diapers! She has a 4 year old who wakes up in the night to use the bathroom all by himself, which is fantastic, until she wakes up in the morning and wonders why her bathroom smells like urine. Turns out in his half asleep state, he is standing in front of the toilet and just spraying away aimlessly, lol. So she suggested putting the Spray Pal in the toilet as pictured before bed, then it will continue to serve its purpose as the perfect splatter shield even while you sleep!

Little Jimmy can wake up and go to the bathroom as always, and mom can wake up, quickly spray down the Spray Pal with the diaper sprayer and stick it back in the wetbag to tuck it away until the next night. No more mystery urine smell, no more mess to clean, everybody’s happy! Also, we love that this makes your investment in a Spray Pal and a sprayer last even longer and it’s a way to reuse something you already have! I’m even envisioning people drawing bulls-eye targets at the bottom of the Spray Pal to make learning to aim easy and fun. So, if you didn’t think the Spray Pal was a bathroom must have before, and you have a little boy, you may want to reconsider. ;)

7. Oops! Undies. Prize value $30. These waterproof bamboo underwear for kids are the perfect reusable option for that transition out of diapers. They look and feel just like regular underwear, but they will protect against minor accidents if your little one is having a hard time making it to the bathroom on time. These are great for mid to later stage potty training, but if you already have some natural fiber cloth diaper inserts or doublers at home that you’d like to add for extra protection, you can use these even longer! Available in sizes for ages 2-7.

8. Easy Daysies Get Dressed and Bathroom Routine Pack. Prize value $18. This handy magnetic schedule is perfect for kids just getting used to the routing of using the bathroom independently. Personally, I think it’s especially great for kids with special needs who really benefit from having each step visually laid out for them. You can tell this was invented by a former teacher, right? ;)

We wish you all the best of luck as we enter this crazy journey together! You can enter in the rafflecopter below to win a prize package containing each of the items listed above, valued at over $200! Thank you for sharing this giveaway as we help #makeclothmainstream :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why Small Business is Hard

...and other musings about small businesses and internet drama.

Apparently while I was off teaching in the land of second grade yesterday, something was happening in the world of Facebook that I became aware of via text messages from friends.  I wasn't able to follow much of it or address any of the comments in real time, but that was probably for the best.  Instead of getting heated and wrapped up in it all, I was able to let things sink in, try to understand the facts, and then decide whether or not I wanted to respond.  I went back and forth about it because I'm absolutely against anything drama or "mommy war" related, and I didn't want to add fuel to the fire by saying something.  But, I did learn some things.  Like A LOT of things.  So I'm going to focus on those things in this blog post, and by sharing, maybe others will learn a thing or two as well.

1.  What I learned about running a business.

As most of you know, my husband and I are not business people.  We somehow in the grand scheme of this crazy game called life ended up creating the Spray Pal and are now business owners, but wow, the things we are still learning each day would amaze you.  In this situation, I learned that competition is something every good business should have.  You know why?  Because it means your idea is actually good!  And useful!  If your product isn't truly a helpful tool, then it won't succeed. It also motivates us to do better. As a business, we will continue to provide our customers with the best product and the best customer service we can give. We will listen to feedback from our customers and do the best we can to adapt. Luckily, we took the time in the beginning of this process to experiment with many different prototypes, and being Spray Pal users ourselves, we know that it works amazingly well. :)

2.  What I learned about collaboration.

One of the most amazing things I've found in the cloth diapering community is that for the most part, everyone is open and willing to work together for the greater good.  As Spray Pal, we've worked hard as a business to not just promote ourselves, but to promote cloth diapering to the masses.  We've worked together with other brands to promote each other and boost each other up because how does that expression go?  A rising tide floats all ships??  Gah, I have to look it up.  But you get the idea.  If we work together as a community to show people that cloth diapers are not as hard as people think, plus they are eco-friendly, economical, and cute, then everyone in the business community benefits right along with our fluffy bummed babes and our landfills (and wallets).


3.  What I learned about social media.

If you've been following Spray Pal for a while, you already know that this is a whole new world for me.  I've been working hard to learn the ins and outs of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and most of my education comes from you all!  I love the amazing and supportive community we have on our Spray Pal social media pages.  Especially when I see what can happen when things get out of hand.  I think Ron Burgundy said it best:

Basically, when it comes to the internet, it becomes very easy to forget that there are real people behind the screen.  The same is true for a business, especially those of the small variety.  We are real people behind the brands and we are eventually going to see all of these comments.  Add to that the fact that it's really hard to read a person's tone through a typed message, and you have a recipe for disaster, and things WILL escalate quickly.  I personally think a very good rule of thumb as a brand is: Do not get involved in social media drama unless you are directly addressed.

4.  What I learned about people in general.

I've always said, always, that we have the most amazing and loyal Facebook following.  You guys respond to my questions, love on my family, share your rave reviews of the Spray Pal on our wall, and tag us in adorable pictures of your cloth diapered little ones.  I get messages from complete strangers thanking us for coming up with the Spray Pal because it 1) kept them going with cloth diapers when they were about to give up, 2) got their husbands on board with spraying dirty diapers, 3) helped them convince their naysaying friends or family that the dirty part of cloth diapering could be taken care of in one simple step.  I will take one day of a negative social media experience any time to have what we have with you all.  People in general are good.  The negative nellies are gonna negate.  But luckily, they are in the minority.  And we have the option not to feed into them.  I really liked what Kim Rosas said on the Dirty Diaper Laundry Facebook page:

"If you love something- support it. If you don't love it, don't buy it.
Vote with your dollars and spread the word about the brands you love, those things do the most good."

This is so true. And we realize that those of you who already support the Spray Pal brand do so because you probably already own a Spray Pal.  But if you'd like a way to show support without having to spend a dime, you can always take a moment to leave us a review here: Spray Pal on Amazon. It will let you leave a review even if you purchased your Spray Pal from a cloth diaper retailer other than amazon. We truly appreciate it!

So keep on keeping on, you amazing Spray Pal fans, you!  And keep spreading the cloth diapering love while you're at it.  We're truly on a mission to #makeclothmainstream and we won't let one crazy day get in our way. ;)

Friday, May 16, 2014


The story behind the hashtag, lol.

Toward the end of last summer, we were encouraged to participate in a contest sponsored by Intuit where a small business could have a shot at winning a Super Bowl commercial.  We were definitely the underdogs, but we figured, why not?  If anything, it would build awareness of not only our Spray Pal brand, but about modern cloth diapers in general.  We had a great time playing along, met a lot of really cool new people and business owners, and definitely helped more people realize that cloth diapers aren't the plastic pants and safety pins of not too long ago.

In fact, we actually surprised OURSELVES with how awesome we did in this contest.  The first two rounds were based simply on popular vote, and out of tens of thousands of small businesses that entered, Spray Pal stayed in the TOP 10 most popular spots for almost the entire time!  The lowest spot we ever hit toward the end was #14, which is still completely and mind-blowingly AMAZING considering how niche our product is!  We had so much love and support from our friends, family, and facebook followers (which at that time totaled around 4,000 people).  I think the fact that we were up there amongst the big dogs made people realize that cloth diapers are becoming more and more mainstream.

Part of our strategy in trying to win this was to use social media as a means to promote cloth diapers and make people aware of the cute, economical, and natural side of diapering.  We had hoped to get some celebrities involved, maybe convince one or two of them to try out cloth diapers on their own kids.  That part didn't actually pan out, but there's still hope!  Celebrities are having babies all the time, right? ;)  Not that you need a celebrity to prove that something is better for your baby, for the environment, and for your wallets, but, you know, it helps get the message out to the masses a lot quicker.

In our pursuit of building awareness, we made up the hashtag #makeclothmainstream and encouraged people to use it with their adorable cloth diaper photos and tag people who they thought might help get the word out.  Since then, in less than a year, there are already almost 9,000 posts with this hashtag on instagram!  It's seriously amazing to see our community come together like this and help spread the word about cloth diapers.  I think we all dream of the day when cloth diapers will become the mainstream choice. :)

In an effort to continue this movement, we have created a Facebook group where you can ask questions and have discussions about anything cloth diaper related.  Feel free to join us if you are interested in learning more or if you have any questions as you move along in your cloth diapering journey!  You can CLICK HERE to request to join the group and one of the admin will get you added!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cloth Diaper Confessions

As much as we love cloth diapers, every once in a while, something goes terribly wrong.  Usually at the most inopportune time.  The good news is that when this happens, we can simply clean up, laugh about it, and move on.  Thankfully, it doesn't happen often, and the thought of how much we are helping the environment while saving money by using cloth diapers definitely helps ease the pain. So, for the sake of full disclosure, I'd like to share our most recent cloth diapering mishap.

When we were on our road trip to Austin, we stopped for some coffee and snacks in a Starbucks right in front of the New Mexico State University. We parked our RV outside and all four of us came in to stretch our legs. We must have looked like a bunch of hippies with our Spray Pal sign on the back of the RV and me carrying Ryan with all his medical equipment wearing nothing but a t-shirt and a cloth diaper (him, not me). As we were standing in there waiting for our coffee, a group of college girls was standing near us, fawning over #minispraypal 2.0 in my arms. All of a sudden, I felt something warm and wet trickling down my leg. Turns out, the diaper we had on him was over 3 years old and needless to say the elastic in the legs is a little relaxed. The way that I was holding him had created the perfect leg gap for all of his pee to just escape right out to the floor.

I felt it first, so my face got the awkward look first, but it didn't take long for those college girls to drop their jaws and bug their eyes! Luckily, they and the sweet Starbucks employee who came running with a mop were so in love with 2.0, they didn't seem to mind too terribly that he had just peed on the floor of their Starbucks.  Luckily (or not, depending on who's shoes you're wearing), most of the urine output (#NICUterms) landed on me, so we weren't totally contaminating their food establishment.  But the look on their faces tells me that they'll probably not be looking into cloth diapers anytime soon.  Maybe in a few more years, when they're ready to have some kids of their own, they'll learn that cleaning up bodily fluids just comes with the parenting territory. ;)

So. I shared mine, now it's your turn!  What's YOUR most embarrassing cloth diapering moment?