Baby-friendly restaurant – Combine Eatery

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Baja fish tacos

It seems as though I’m having a lot of luck finding baby-friendly places to eat lunch with friends on the Danforth. Last week three of us met with babies in tow up at Combine Eatery and received a warm welcome. Always makes it easier to go to restaurants that are friendly to moms and close to an accessible TTC station (Broadview).

It has a pretty spacious dining area, so easy to navigate the strollers. While no strollers are allowed in the dining area if you go just after the lunch rush (we went around 1:30 p.m.) you can park the strollers against one of the walls. We were able to put all three strollers there easily and sat at one of their bigger tables, so two of the babies could remain in their carseats and the other one could be in a high-chair. The table we sat at was also toward the back of the restaurant, so this meant it was a little more private for the inevitable breastfeeding that occurred.

The food is also fresh, tasty and eating with one-hand friendly! My go-to pick has always been their Baja fish tacos. You can get these grilled or fried and they come with a choice of salad, coleslaw or fries.

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Living in the moment

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Sometimes it is ok to stay at home in your PJs. To lounge on the couch covered by a cozy blanket and to watch your baby sleep beside you in her bouncy chair. Seeing her smile in her sleep is a moment I don’t want to miss. Emptying the dishwasher can wait. No one knows that your bed remains unmade until the afternoon.

Thank you Hands Free Mama for reminding me that C will only be this small once and that I should soak up all the time I get to spend with her instead of trying to juggle her, trying to get things done around the house and technology devices all at the same time. I don’t need to do it all.

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Initial thoughts on taking transit with a baby in Toronto

Riding the TTC

Riding the TTC

Over the years I’ve made no secret of my displeasure with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Constant delays, slow rides and packed subway trains has been the norm when traveling to/from work. There have been days when I have chosen to ride in the opposite direction for a few stops in the hopes of actually getting on a train going downtown. When I was pregnant I rode the subway up until the day I left for maternity leave. I was rarely asked (even when heavily pregnant) if I wanted a seat and when it did happen it was usually a woman who offered. Now being a mom who has to rely on transit to get around during the week, I’ve become even familiar with more downfalls of the TTC.

Before having a baby, I admit I never really gave much thought to transit accessibility. I’d hop on/off buses, use any entrance to access the subway stop and get off where I needed to. A couple of weeks before C was born I realized that getting around with a baby may be a bit more difficult than I anticipated when I traveled to see a friend in the west-end of town. I was with another friend who had a baby in a stroller and the subway stop we got off at didn’t have an elevator. We ended up having to take the stroller on the escalator which you are technically not supposed to do (people do it all the time though). This caused chaos and nearly resulted in the baby getting stuck. Turns out we also couldn’t use this subway stop on the way back as the only option was going down many flights of stairs to access the train. A pretty stressful situation and eye-opening experience.

I know that not every mom has to rely on transit, but I really wish that Toronto’s transit options were more friendly to those of needing to use the system to get around. There are many places and neighbourhoods that I definitely won’t be able to visit with baby in tow!

If you need to take transit with a baby here is some of the things I’ve found helpful as planning your trip is key on a number of different levels:

  • You need to know if the subway stops you’ll be using are accessible or not. Many are not!
  • Once you figure out if the stops are accessible you need to figure out where the elevators are. Not necessarily an easy feat. This weekend we wandered around in the rain trying to figure out how to access the northbound platform at Dundas.
  • Are the elevators in service? Check the TTC Twitter feed or website for this info.
  • If riding the bus instead of the subway, hope that it isn’t busy as getting on/off buses with a stroller when packed is not fun. Try to pick a route that is quieter.
  • Rush hour is the enemy. My advice is to avoid these times as much as possible.
  • Avoid streetcars at all costs or make sure you are with someone who can help. Maybe the new ones will be better, but the thought of trying to use old ones makes me sweat profusely.
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My favourite baby book

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Hands down my favourite go-to baby reference book is Baby 411. A colleague gifted me this book before going on maternity leave and over the past 6 weeks it has been my baby question bible. One thing about having a baby is that you’ll have a lot of questions and this book has the answers from reputable sources to everything you are probably wondering or worrying about. The thing I love best about this book is that it is written in plain language and not long-winded. You don’t have a lot of time on your hands with a baby, so is great that this book allows people to just quickly look up what they need.

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The cookbook challenge

Vietnamese chicken cabbage salad

Vietnamese chicken cabbage salad

One of the things that bugged me when I was pregnant was being told how I wouldn’t have time for anything other than looking after my baby. Six weeks in I completely understand that taking care of a baby is a lot of work (more than I bargained for), but I’ve also realized that it is important to still take time for myself and to also set my own goals. A healthier and happier mommy in my eyes is going to result in a healthier and happier baby.

One of the goals that I have set for myself is to make a recipe a week from one of my 62 cookbooks. Yes, you read that right I have 62 cookbooks. For many years I have bought cookbook after cookbook and after looking through them once or twice I usually forget about the recipes I was going to make from them. Now with 52 weeks of maternity leave on my hands I have decided that I am going to make at least one recipe from each over the course of the year.

Three weeks into the challenge I have made halibut with puttanesca sauce, Vietnamese cabbage chicken salad and tandoori chicken pita pockets from three of my cookbooks. While this may seem like a random goal, I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent looking through the selected cookbook, picking a recipe to try, figuring out how to put my own twist on it, shopping for the ingredients and making the meal. My own rules for this challenge are it has to be a recipe I’ve never made and I have to go in order of how my cookbooks are positioned on the bookshelf. I’ll begin to start sharing some of the recipes through the blog and as a way to capture my year. A related goal is by the end of the year to make my own cookbook filled with the recipes I have made.

Would love to know how other new moms make sure to take time for themselves!

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How do you ask for another mom’s number?

Looking for some friends to go on walks with!

Looking for some friends to go on walks with!

I’ve lived in Toronto now for close to 8 years or is it 9? For some reason I can never seem to remember when I moved here from Montreal. When I moved here, I was fortunate to already have a number of good friends living here and my boyfriend (now husband). Over the years new Toronto friendships have developed. I’ve had a lot of luck meeting people through various running groups, other friends and work.

Now that I’m a mom and on maternity leave I’m in the market for some neighbourhood mom friends. The neighbourhood I’m living in is filled with moms and strollers. One of the nearby streets is literally stroller central. I’m constantly passing other moms with their babies on the street and have talked to quite a few.

This morning I went out for a walk with C in tow and stopped at the new neighbourhood juice place. While I was there contemplating what juice to taste, another Mom popped in. We got talking while our juices were being made and it seemed that she could have been interested in carrying on the conversation. Then the juices were ready and we had to say good-bye. As I walked away I thought wouldn’t it have been nice to get her contact info, so we could maybe grab a coffee or go on some walks together.

My question is how to do you take these passing chats in the streets and stores to the next level – making a new friend?

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Items I wish I didn’t buy for my newborn before she arrived

Before C was born I was fixated on buying things for her that I thought she needed right away. Five weeks into motherhood I have learned a valuable lesson. Wait until your baby is born, so you know what type of baby you have. The things your friends’ babies have may or may not work for you. Save your money and wait to see. Stores will still exist and be open after your baby is born. In no particular order, here are some of the items I wish I either didn’t buy or held off on buying.

  1. The bassinet: I was obsessed about where our baby would sleep when she was born. With all of the news, Canadian guidelines and SIDS warnings I was paranoid. We needed something that was safe and would work until we were ready to transition her to the crib in her room. Enter the bassinet. I needed to have it. It was beautiful, expensive and fit in with our bedroom’s decor. Turns out C hated it and even if she was asleep as soon as I put her in it she would scream. I ended up buying the much cheaper Fisher Price rock’n’play sleeper which she loves. I know Canada has some warnings about this product, but to be honest if it is approved in the US I figure it is ok. She’s also only still sleeping for a few hours at a time.
  2. Baby carrier: I recently went to an informational session about baby carriers as part of the mom’s group I’ve joined. It was really helpful to learn more about what was out there and to also try a few different options before purchasing. I’ve now gone out and bought the carrier that is right for us, but also have the one I bought before she arrived.
  3. Clothes: I know this one is hard, but trust me everyone (especially if it is a girl!) will be giving you clothes – either brand-new or their own hand-me-downs. I’d recommend buying some onesies and pants to get you started before you buy up the store.
  4. Fancy baby bathtub: Your baby isn’t going to know the difference and a simple tub from Ikea with an infant insert at first would definitely do the trick.
  5. Change table: The dream was that C was going to have her diaper changed on her pristine white linens on top of a beautiful change table/dresser. The reality is that we have for the moment at least moved her change pad to my bathroom as it is more convenient, has access to running water and allows us to easily throw soiled clothes in the sink for soaking.

What are some baby items you wish you hadn’t purchased?

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