The Story of Penelope Bloom

There's not a lot about pregnancy that I enjoy. I know women who love being pregnant (they're not mythical unicorns!) but I am not one of them. The only pregnancy glow I rocked was a sheen of sweat from barfing so much. (Hashtag: glam life.)

The part of pregnancy I did enjoy? Baby names. I can talk baby names all day every day. Swistle: Baby Names is one of my favourite blogs. Talking about our lady baby's name was the one bright spot of the pregnancy.

Shawn and I don't have very similar naming styles. I think my style is best described as a little old fashioned and a little sassy. Shawn's style can't be pegged down. He would suggest names I thought of as 80s and 90s names and then throw in some Swedish names and my personal favourite, names of characters from Game of Thrones. Our baby name discussions were all over the place is what I'm saying.

From very early on, I felt like Mabel was our baby girl's name. I loved how it sounded with our two-syllable, starts-with-an-M surname. It felt sweet and old timey while still familiar. I loved how it sounded with Grady. Shawn wasn't opposed to it the way he was to my other suggestions (which, to give you an idea of the style of names I love were: Ruby, Clover, Birdie, Violet, Georgia, Beatrice, Marigold, Margaret, Edith, Belle, and Olive.)

Shawn's list of suggestions included the Game of Thrones names (I wasn't kidding,) Luna, Annika, Astrid, Holly, Evelyn, Eleanor, Scarlet, and Penelope.

We'd almost-just-about-agreed on Mabel when something happened to ruin the name for Shawn around the same time that he started feeling like Evelyn was our baby girl's name. We were stuck. I felt very strongly that her name was Mabel and he felt very strongly that her name was Evelyn. Our baby names discussions were no longer fun; they consisted of both of us only suggesting our top name pick.

So in a fit of "What would Swistle do?" desperation, we both forfeited our top names. Mabel and Evelyn were both off the table. Neither one of us wanted to tackle The Baby Name Wizard (the best baby name book, by far) again so we decided to start with each other's lists.

I kept coming back to Penelope. It was the name on Shawn's list that fit my style most closely. My arguments against it were pronouncing it Peen-uh-lope as a child when I read the name before ever hearing it, and feeling like the nickname Penny was inevitable (and Penny is a fine name, it just didn't feel like my baby's name). The Baby Name Wizard is what sold me on the name. It gave me the origin (in Greek mythology, Odysseus' wife, Penelope, patiently awaited his return for twenty years and it felt like we'd been waiting for Penelope forever) and the nickname Poppy.

I hadn't considered Poppy as a nickname for Penelope before. It's definitely raised a few eyebrows when we explain that Poppy is short for Penelope (and we've had a few people ask outright why we don't call her Penny,) and I know in the future she may choose something other than Poppy as her nickname, but I don't mind. The name Penelope / Poppy fits her perfectly.

As for Bloom, I knew I wanted a short and sassy middle name. Grady's middle name is Shawn after a longstanding tradition in his family of giving the firstborn son his father's first name as a middle name (a tradition I didn't love but cared less about breaking than Shawn cared about keeping). We briefly considered using different parts of my name as Poppy's middle but I didn't love any of the combos we came up with. Bloom is a word that holds a lot of meaning to me so even though it felt a bit weird at first, we decided to use it and we have no regrets. Penelope Bloom is a name that suits Poppy perfectly, holds a lot of meaning for us, and gives us some excellent nicknames (Poppers and Ms. Bloom are my favourites).

How did you name your baby? If you're pregnant and having a tough time coming up with names, will you submit your request to Swistle and then tell me about it so I can play along?

Penelope_Bloom_Hillary2Ls

Bat Sh!t Crazy

A bat flew into my kitchen last week. It was just after 8pm. Grady was playing in his room (at the front of the house) and Poppy was chilling in her bouncy chair on the patio (the back of the house) and I was in the kitchen (in between the two). The bat flew through the French doors that lead from the patio to the kitchen and wildly circled above my head.

I froze.

It was one of the hottest days we've had so far this year and the air was stifling so I'd opened the house to try to get some air moving. Shawn was at a work event and wasn't expected home until hours later.

My heart started pounding and I couldn't take a full breath. I was torn. Go to the (totally defenseless, wearing only a diaper) baby or go to the sure-to-engage-and-probably-make-things-worse five-year-old?

Now, before you say it, I know it was just a bat. I know. But in the moment it didn't matter. I was in full panic mode. The bat was flying so quickly and erratically. It swooped near my face a few times and even though I'm sure it wasn't closer than two feet, in the moment it felt like two inches.

We live in a neighbourhood that until very recently was classified as rural. There's a creek that runs behind our house. We frequently see bears and coyotes and other wildlife. Most of the time I love living at the bottom of our little mountain.

However. I draw the line at bats in my home.

I finally unfroze and grabbed Poppy from her chair and called to Grady to run downstairs and knock on Papa's door. I've never been so grateful to share a home with Shawn's dad. He came upstairs and as I shook and (unsuccessfully) pretended I wasn't scared so Grady wouldn't develop a bat fear of his own, he climbed up on his ladder and threw a blanket over the bat. He took it outside and released it back into the night sky and I closed up the house forever and ever amen.

Bears at the end of the driveway? No problem. A bat in the kitchen? ALL THE NOPE.  

Bears at the end of the driveway? No problem. A bat in the kitchen? ALL THE NOPE.  

Meal Plan 08/22/2016 - 08/26/2016

We're still trying to get back into the groove of things after our whirlwind weeks of summer celebrations. And by "groove" I mean "out of survival mode." I'm not sure we have much of a groove with a newborn. We try. 

Monday: it's "clean out the veggie drawer" day so I'm making a one-pot quinoa dish and oven-roasted tofu for Meatless Monday. 

Tuesday: leftover quinoa surprise and whatever looks good at the fishmonger. Probably just a simple oven-baked salmon with lots of fresh lemon.  

Wednesday: tacos with some sort of protein. Whatever looks good at the butcher.  

Thursday: burrito bowls with leftover protein from Wednesday's tacos.  

Friday: breakfast for dinner with waffles, cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit salad.  

We're also going to juice at least twice this week (hopefully three times) to boost our nutrients and get our immune systems in tiptop shape before Grady starts school (SOB!) and brings home all the germs.  

What's on your meal plan this week? I need some inspiration for next week. Doing this week's meal plan felt blah; I need someone to jazz up next week's meal plan for me.

 

Saving Time - and Sanity - with Save-On-Foods Online Shopping

This post is sponsored by Crisp Media on behalf of Save-On-Foods. The opinions are my own.

I love to cook and I value home-cooked meals over eating out because I like having some control over what my family eats. Not in a creepy I-want-to-monitor-every-item-you-consume type of way, but I like knowing what goes into our food. I want my kids to appreciate the relationship between what they put into their bodies and how their bodies feel and function.

Cooking a lot of home-cooked meals means doing a lot of grocery shopping though, and navigating the aisles with a screamy baby and a 5-year-old who wants every treat he sees is not high on my list of priorities.

Save-on-Foods online shopping to the rescue! It's a busy person's dream. Just sign up for an account, shop the online aisles, and someone does all the shopping for you. Store pickup is free and easy (no need to park and go into the store; there's a handy pickup spot and someone brings your bags right to your car) or you can have your groceries delivered to your doorstep for a small fee. There is an order minimum to use the service but it's low - $40 (which, let's be honest, we can meet with our coffee and squeeze-y yogurt tube purchases alone). Check out the quick tutorial for an overview of the service.

I didn't need any convincing beyond "you don't have to get out of the car" (hello, sleeping baby!) but if you need to be swayed, let me introduce you to the My Favourites list. Under the "add" button on each product, there's a little heart which gives you the option to add the product to your My Favourites list. When I sit down to do my weekly shop, my first stop is My Favourites. These are the items we go through quickly but they're also the staples I like to have on hand. I do a quick scan and if any of our staples are on sale, I stock up. My Favourites helps my sleep-deprived brain remember what we use on a regular basis but it also helps me save money.

Looks like this week we're stocking up on peanut butter!

Looks like this week we're stocking up on peanut butter!

I was skeptical at first (how will someone be able to pick out my produce? I like my produce just so) but once I discovered that I could add a note to each item, I was appeased. I add notes to the items I'm a bit fussy about (I don't want a tub of yogurt that expires two days after I bring it home!) and the shopper does their best to abide by my requests. I also check the box that allows my shopper to make substitutions if an item is out of stock so I'm not left without something I need. The shopper reviews my substitutions with me when I pick up my order and I have the option to reject any that I'm not satisfied with. I've even had a shopper ask if he could go back into the store to find me a different replacement after I wasn't happy with his initial substitution.   

Building a useful My Favourites list and adding notes to my order are tiny time commitments compared to actually taking both kids grocery shopping with me, and I can do both (pantsless! drinking an icy cold g&t!) from the comfort of my own home. Scheduling grocery pickup fits easily into our lives. There are so many time slots available (7 days a week!) and you book a 2-hour window, not a specific pickup time (perfect for me because with two kids I'm never able to get anywhere at a set-in-stone time). I plan it around other events so I'm just making a 5-minute stop on the way home from the doctor or a playdate, instead of rushing around the store trying to remember everything we need and not lose my kid to the cookie aisle.

It's a no-brainer. Which is great for me because my brain hasn't been seen in quite some time (see: screamy baby).

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Save-On carries products you can't find anywhere else and I want to share how I use a few. These brick oven pizza crusts are so versatile and (it pains me to admit) taste better than my homemade crust.

apricot_goatcheese_flatbread_Hillarywith2Ls

Apricot & Goat Cheese Flatbread

1 brick oven pizza crust
3 Tbsp apricot jam
50g (half log) goat cheese, crumbled
2 big handfuls (approximately 2 cups) baby arugula, washed and dried
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
balsamic reduction to drizzle

1.  Preheat oven to 425F.

2.  Spread crust evenly with apricot jam and sprinkle crumbled goat cheese evenly over top. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until crust becomes golden.

3.  In large bowl, toss together arugula, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

4.  Top flatbread with arugula and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Slice into thin slices and serve immediately. Preferably with an icy cold g&t.