Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Strollers on Transit: Planning Your Trip

Strollering it on transit
Since we don't own a car, nowadays we bike & walk most places, & just occasionally take transit. I took the bus a lot when each of the kids were too little to go on the bikes, however, so I consider myself a bit of an expert. I sometimes wear the baby when I'm taking transit, but because I'm often carrying shopping & my hip issues make it uncomfortable to walk, I've usually used the stroller.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about strollers on buses. Drivers seem to have different guidelines about how many strollers are allowed & other passengers are often quick to pass judgement on the size of your baby carriage or grumble that strollers weren't allowed on buses when they had their kids.

In general though, taking a stroller on transit is pretty easy & it sure beats finding parking & wrestling two kids in & out of carseats. There's always an elderly person who I assume to be a grandparent making funny faces at the baby & someone else chatting up the four-year-old. You just don't get this kind of human interaction with a variety of people when you drive.

All that said, there are a few things I do to make my transit trips smoother with the kids & a stroller:

  1. Leave early--if the route is particularly busy & you get passed up by a bus, having a little extra time will mean you won't be stressed about waiting for the next bus.
  2. Park your stroller, brakes on, at the front of the bus with your child facing the back of the bus. This is safest if the driver has to make a sudden stop.
  3. Try to travel in off-peak hours. If you can't or the routes are always busy, taking a small, easily folded umbrella stroller means you'll be able to get on that bus instead of waiting for the next one or two.
  4. Tell your driver well ahead of the stop that you're getting off with a stroller. They'll be able to pull up closer to the curb, "kneel" the bus, & keep the incoming passengers back from the front door while you exit.
  5. If your stroller has smaller wheels, it's probably best to back out of the bus. If you've got larger rear wheels with pivoting front wheels, it's easier to go out forward.
  6. Check Translink's website for service alerts or delays before you go. Things like elevator closures or route detours could throw your plans off if you don't know about them in advance. 

Speaking of service alerts: Metrotown Station elevator will be closed for a year. as of February 26, 2015, while the station is undergoing a huge renovation. If you're heading to Metrotown on transit with your stroller, your best bet is to take the bus instead of the train, or get off at Patterson or Royal Oak & take the community shuttle that runs every 15-20 minutes. For more details, visit the Buzzer blog.

Got any tips to share on taking transit with wee ones? Let me know in the comments!

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Sweet Tooth Satisfied: A Recipe From RainCityMama

I'm not the most domestic of stay-at-home-moms. In fact, I might actually be the least domestic. Anyway, I do like baking sweets. Treats that require no baking are even better. Which is why this recipe for Best Ever Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Bars on RainCityMama.com really grabbed me.

I tried making them a few days after I saw the link & I have to admit: they do satisfy my notorious sweet tooth. They were quick to make & I had every single of the ingredients sitting in my cupboards. Of course, if you didn't, there's a lot of variations you could do that would still taste fantastic--it's a pretty flexible recipe.

After having had several dozen samples, I can officially say they are tasty, fudgy, & definitely satisfying without being cloyingly sweet. I think next time I make them I may experiment with less honey, since the chocolate chips I used are already sweetened & I think they could handle being less sweet without taking all the fun out of them.

Let me know in the comments: What's your latest favourite homemade sweet treat? (Bonus points if you include a link to the recipe!)

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Get Your Kid On A Bike For $5 at Our Community Bikes

Linnaeus after putting his pedals on at OCB
It's no secret that I love cycling & one of the reasons I do is that it's a great equalizer. It's affordable to just about anybody & cheaper than anything but walking. People of all ages & almost all abilities can do it (especially when you look at the incredible range of adaptive bikes out there). Riding a bike is a great way for kids to burn off energy & a good start to a lifetime of healthy, active living.

A Bike for EVERY Kid

Back to the topic of equality & accessibility: Main Street's local bike kitchen, Our Community Bikes, is selling children's bikes for $5. If your child needs a bike & your budget for one is low, OCB is a great place to look! Every bike is tuned up & fully functional. They're a wide variety of sizes & styles, donated to the shop. They might not be shiny & new, but for $5, you may have a little wiggle room in your budget for some spray paint or streamers & a basket.

The kids' bikes at OCB are always $5, so head down there to take a look. If you don't see what you like, come back again in a week--they're always getting more. In case you're thinking of getting a bike for yourself, OCB has a selection of reconditioned bikes for adults at budget-friendly prices too. You could probably get your whole family riding for less than a month's worth of bus passes, in fact.

A little more about OCB

Our Community Bikes (OCB) is a full service repair shop, bicycle recycling depot & an educational workspace for people who want to fix their own bikes or learn how. You can just drop your bike off if you don't have time, but they love to help people learn about bikes, from the basics, like fixing a flat tire, to more advanced stuff like bleeding hydraulic disc brakes. They have nearly all of the tools, new & used parts & accessories you might need to fix up your old beater or complete your dream bike.

OCB also endeavors to be a safe space for all marginalized people which means that they have a zero tolerance policy on homophobia, racism, sexism, ableism, etc. As a collectively managed, non-hierarchical organization there is no owner, boss, supervisor or manager. All staff are mechanics, teachers & students who are learning & improving all the time as individuals & as an organization. Your first time at the shop, take a couple of minutes to read over their 'Ten Commandments'.

OCB is located at 3283 Main Street, just north of 17th Avenue. Find out more on their affordable rates, courses they offer, & more on the OCB webpage.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Parked in a Bike Lane

Public sticker-shaming anyone?
Have you ever been riding along on a painted bike lane only to have to stop or swerve around a parked vehicle? Or worse, had to get off your bike to pull up onto the sidewalk because there was a vehicle blocking the entire separated cycle track? I've lost count how many times I've experienced these two situations, sadly.

I saw these stickers posted on Facebook recently (hat tip Boing Boing) & I have to admit, I'm tempted to order a pack of them: #IParkedInABikeLane

What do you think, public sticker shaming or turn the other cheek? What do you do if you come across someone so blatantly disregarding parking bylaws?

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

We biked to the Chinese New Year Parade Sunday morning. Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Parked our two cargo bikes & used them as benches

Sitting on a padded rack beats the sidewalk any day!

There were A LOT of lion dancers & a lot of photographers

I turned to the side so she could see the parade while nursing 
Spent a bit of time with my guy on the sidewalk

Group photo hijinks on the way home

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Toddler Eating

Baby Led Weaning is messy! Linnaeus covered in yams
I consider myself pretty lucky that I got a couple of kids who took to eating solid food really well & weren't too picky to start with. Baby Led Weaning was great fun & I kind of miss watching my wee ones awkwardly picking up chunks of veggies & smooshing them into their little mouths. I mean, at four & a half & one & a half they both still get food on their faces & clothes every meal & spill drinks all over the table fairly regularly. However, now it's not so much about how they eat, but what or if.

Linnaeus would eat pretty much anything but leafy foods as a baby & toddler. I'm going to assume that it was because he had trouble grinding it up, being new to molars & all. He had some issues with things like apple skins to start with, but I soon quit peeling everything & he figured it out. He's recently started eating salads, though the lettuce has to be accompanied by a lot of other stuff for him to eat it. Works for me, since I love salads full of nuts, fruit, seeds, eggs, bacon, cheese, veggies, croutons, & whatever else I think to throw in.

Baby Bronte's first Cheerios
Bronte was pretty adventurous to start with too, but has recently gone off bread type foods. She will eat whatever is on it, but leave most of the bread. She seems to see toast, a bun, a bagel, or a tortilla as more of a plate than a food item.

Bronte is also very anti fruit skin. The only way she'll eat apple is having bites of mine, off the core, after I've already eaten the skin. If I hand her a peeled slice or chunk of apple, she still won't eat it. Has to be mine.

Temperature is another thing. Bronte will accept a wider range here than Linnaeus--she loves peas straight out of the freezer, never complains at ice cream or smoothies. Linnaeus, on the other hand, won't tolerate anything much hotter than lukewarm & it took him a good year to stop making faces at how cold ice cream was.

The last thing I find weird about their eating habits is that they seem to alternate in terms of quantity. Some days, Bronte will eat twice as much as her brother. Other days he will eat more than I do & she'll have just a few bites & exclaim, "I done!"

Thankfully the pickiness isn't near the point where I worry about them getting scurvy or something. Overall their diet is fairly balanced, so I'm not going to get stressed out about it. I heard some great advice years ago: when it comes to toddler nutrition, focus on the big picture. Aim for a balance of healthy foods over a week, don't worry about getting in all the food groups (or whatever) at every single meal.

You tell me--did your kids go through an only goldfish crackers phase, or refuse to eat any particular type of food for months? Let me know in the comments... 

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