Advent Week 1 – Hope


I wrote this post last year, a few days after the First Sunday in Advent, but I felt too raw to share it. This year has brought different challenges for most of us, both personally and globally, and I’m sure we’re all now feeling a bit raw from those. May hope enter into all our hearts throughout this season of preparation and contemplation. 

–  Jenna

We caught up on lighting the first Advent candle at home today. I was thinking of my Nana all the while, as I used her wreath and the last candles she bought for it. She passed away last January, making this our first Christmas without her.

I remember when I was very young she let me light one of the Advent candles when we were gathered at her house. We listened to her read, and I sang with her at the piano. I properly learned “I Saw Three Ships” that night. I don’t know why that detail in particular has stuck with me all these years.

Tonight Anastasia said, “I’ll bet Nana’s really loving it in Heaven.” She is, my sweet baby girl. I know she is.

We lit the Hope candle tonight, and as tearful as I was, hope was there with a certainty which, to be very honest, I did not expect, though I should have. It sustains me always. It is a hope that began before even the prophets, a hope that carries on beyond the Advent of our Lord, a hope that goes beyond the cross and the grave, through to the resurrection, and beyond.

More than hour has passed since we lit that candle, and I have pored over verse after verse trying to find just one to sum it all up. But the truth is that they are all so inseparable from one another, as the birth of Christ is inseparable from his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Still, the following passage struck a chord,

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,

And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.”
Psalm 130:5-8 NASB


My Everyday Carry (Or: The Mom EDC)


This is going to be a little bit of a different post. A lot of people are sharing (on Reddit, YouTube, and various other places) what they have in their EDC or “Every Day Carry.” Essentially, your EDC is the collection of things that you carry every day. It can be as simple as your wallet, phone and sunglasses, as tricked out as a diaper bag with things for three kids of different ages, or as serious as survival items. Your EDC is largely dependent on your needs and those of your family, as well as the bag and/or pockets that you generally have on you.

Now, a lot of the videos you’ll see on EDCs have grizzled dudes emptying their pockets of all sorts of things of alleged use to people who can go to the grocery store without one child “needing” band-aid for the scab they just re-discovered just as the other one sneezes and gets snot all over their coat sleeve. Sorry, guys, but I just can’t help but laugh at the idea of leaving the house with nothing but my phone, wallet, a way-too-complicated flashlight, and some sort of weapon (wait, did I just say “weapon?” Yes, I did. Maybe it’s an American thing?) I may be long past the diaper bag stage (my kids are 8 and 9 at the time of writing), but there is just no conceivable way I’m leaving the house without most of the items on this list. Heck, even before becoming a mom I carried more than what most guys’ pockets can carry just in hygiene items.

So here we go. This is the Mom (of school-aged kids) EDC:


1. Wallet and Keys

2. Phone
Mostly used to entertain children with games when they get bored.

3. Sketchbook and pencils
Allegedly to sketch in when I have a moment (lol). Mostly used as the item the other kid uses to entertain themselves when they’re bored and waiting for their turn with the phone. I like to get a set of three Moleskine Journals (affil) for this purpose. They’re durable, not terribly expensive, and if I actually do get the chance to draw in them myself they lie nice and flat for that purpose.

4. Crayons
ABSOLUTELY NOT TO BE USED IN THE SKETCHBOOK. OK, use them in the sketchbook, fine, whatever it takes.

5. Pens of various types
Mainly used when I forget to sign the kids’ agendas and realize suddenly while pulling up to the school drop-off line.

6. Tissues or wet wipes
I wish I were one of those moms who carried cute little packages of Kleenex and handy packages of wipes, but who am I kidding? The fact that I remember to keep this ugly sandwich bag full of tissues in here is a damn miracle. Mostly used in desperate attempts to mop up drink spills in the back seat.

7. Hair brush & hair ties
Because it’s windy here. And because my daughter often forgets to put hers in her dance bag.

8. Sunglasses
For when I’m on the case and need to drop a one-liner.

9. One-size-fits-all gloves
The notorious “Magic Gloves.” I don’t know how many winter mornings I spent desperately combing the floor of the vehicle in hopes of finding a pair of these because someone forgot to bring their OWN gloves to school, but eventually I got wise and started carrying a pair in my bag. During the summer these will probably get switched out for an extra pair of socks, for those rainy days when we spontaneously go to an indoor playground and one of the kids is wearing sandals.

10. Snacks
My kids are growing. Need I say more?

11. Caffeine sources (affil: Starbucks Via Ready Brew Coffee )
I HAVE kids. Need I say more?

12. Change and transit tickets
Because they get thrown in here and forgotten about until that rare time when the first of the month sneaks up on my husband and he hasn’t bought his monthly transit pass yet, or when we want to be able to drink wine on a date.

13. Hygiene items
Because sometimes hygiene emergencies happen. (Bonus tip: Deodorant is awesome for preventing blisters. Just swipe it wherever those cute new shoes are rubbing.)

14. Rescue inhaler
For my asthma. I can’t believe I’m back to carrying this thing around! One of the only things that sucks about being in my 30’s, the return of my childhood asthma.

15. Contact lens case with saline solution
Have I mentioned it’s windy here? Dust gets kicked up and thrown in my eyes by the wind on a fairly regular basis. This is the solution.

16. “The Pharmacy”
I always used to tease my sister-in-law for having “the whole pharmacy” in her bag (I’m pretty sure she’s the queen of the EDC, by the way, even though she doesn’t call it that). Well, I don’t know what it is, but this past year or so has been TERRIBLE for my seasonal allergies. When it’s not a runny nose and asthma attacks it’s Ocular Migraines (which make it impossible to drive). Add to that the fact that I’m working out more again and being sore makes me grumpy these days, and that we’ve had a few sudden onset stomach emergencies while on the road…Well, anyways, I understand now and I’m sorry I ever doubted the need!

I actually was keeping most of what’s in this little “pharmacy” bag in my vehicle in the winter. Now that it’s warming up, though, the inside of the vehicle is just going to be too hot to store most of the pain killers and allergy meds. This weekend I got organized and put it all in a makeup bag I wasn’t using, so it can live in my bag through the warmer days and go back in the vehicle for cooler months. I’ve also thrown in some Band-Aids (another must-have when you have kids, and a good-to-have if you’re just clumsy like me), an emergency sewing kit (which has safety pins, needles, thread, and transparent buttons, as well as a mirror on the inside wall of the case), a sunscreen stick (SPF 50…what you need when you’ve got a family full of blondes and a redhead), hand lotion, and chapstick.

Well, there you have it! That’s my EDC. Excessive? Not for me. There is almost nothing in there I don’t need on a weekly basis (some of the hygiene items are monthly, of course), and very little I don’t have some use for on a daily basis. It’s definitely much lighter than the diaper bag I once needed (SO glad I don’t have to carry one of those anymore).

You’ll notice that there isn’t really anything by way of makeup in there. If I’m feeling fancy I might throw some lip stuff and a touch-up stick in my bag, but honestly, I usually don’t wear makeup. It’s expensive, time consuming, and my skin doesn’t like it (no, not even whatever you’re selling…believe me, I’ve tried it all at various times in my life and it all makes me break out). Probably most women have far more in that department, though.

So, spill! What’s in your EDC?

How Dogs and Babies are (VERY) Different

I shouldn’t have to write this post. But I’m gonna. Because if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say “my dog is my baby,” “having a dog is like having a baby,” or something similar, I would…well, I wouldn’t be rich, because a nickel isn’t worth much, but my eight year old would think I’m rich, so that would be pretty cool.

I’m a mom of two and I am a pet guardian, and I have a little secret for you: Having a baby is not the same as having a pet! Does that mean that the relationship between pet and guardian is not important? No, it absolutely does not. But there are some pretty major differences.


Top: Baby   Bottom: Dog   They’re not the same, and they don’t have to be.

How Dogs and Babies are Different

1. Most dogs don’t like to be carried. Most babies don’t like to NOT be carried.
If you think that difference doesn’t matter, try carrying around a five pound bag of flour for eight hours. Now picture it weighing twice or three times as much and screaming every time you tried to put it down.

2. Most dogs can be left at home alone for a few hours at a time once they’re crate trained and/or house trained. Babies can’t be left alone in the house for any amount of time.
If you can’t see why THAT difference would matter…well, never you mind, dear.

3. A dog will lie at your feet for hours while you write. An infant/child won’t let you work for hours until they’re at least 7 and only if there’s another parent at home for you to repeatedly tell them to go ask instead of you, even when you just had this SAME conversation five minutes ag– y’know, come to think of it, I’m not sure WHEN as a parent you’ll be able to go that long without interruptions.

4. A dog is a big commitment. You’ll probably have them for 9-14 years before they cross the rainbow bridge and you grieve them terribly. A baby is a big commitment. You never stop being that child’s parent, even when you’re dead, because they carry how you parented (or didn’t) with them until their own deaths, at which point they may have already passed on some of those burdens to their children, if they had them.

5. A dog will play fetch with you. It is not recommended you play fetch with an infant. For one thing, they can’t walk. For another, the neighbour thinks it’s weird when you treat your child like a dog. Until about the age of four, anyways, when they start pretending to be puppies. Then it’s cute. And the neighbour still thinks it’s a little weird.

6. When your dog (who is now house trained, long before a baby will be potty trained, I might add) consistently isn’t sleeping through the night you get them vet checked and work on maybe training some more.
When your baby isn’t sleeping through the night, you try to tell yourself they won’t be this little for that long, as you walk the floor until you wear a hole in the carpet, you feed them again, you call your mom/aunt/grandma/friend for support and (if they’re not that sensitive) get an earful about how their kids slept through the night by your baby’s age and all they did was that thing you already tried, so you agonize about whether you’re feeding them properly, whether they’re going to die because you’re obviously an unfit parent, you cry into their sleeper because you’re going on 36hrs without more than an hour of sleep before they’re up crying again and you’re certain that you’ve ALREADY MESSED THIS CHILD UP FOR LIFE AND EVERYONE WILL SAY WHAT A BAD PARENT YOU ARE AND YOU’LL HAVE TO LIVE WITH THAT UNTIL YOU DIE.


7. A dog is already eating solids by the time you get them home, and probably won’t wait until you make choo-choo and airplane noises to be convinced to eat (though you may have to hand-feed them sometimes or add something smelly like tripe to convince the reluctant ones). A baby won’t eat solids until they’re approximately six months old, and won’t do it until you’ve made choo-choo and airplane noises, stood on your head, spun around six times mid-air, begged, cajoled, and begun to wonder whether you’ll be up for a Lifetime Achievement Award at the next Academy Awards, because you’re pretty sure you’ve given the performance of a lifetime right here in your puree-spattered kitchen. Still, you go to bed some time after that with the words of your doctor, the Public Health Nurse, your mom, and that parenting expert on TV telling you that your kid probably isn’t getting the right nutritional balance and you’re failing at that just like you did with their sleep patterns.

8. Dogs are not people, babies are.

I don’t deny that there are definitely some things about being a parent and a dog guardian that are similar. It’s a big decision and you’re responsible for this being. Dogs and children both need checkups and vaccines, they both need to be fed, they both will require love and dedication that you didn’t even know you were capable of giving. But there are some pretty serious limits to that that I’ve only grazed the surface of here. The fact is, however you look at it, that there is absolutely NO reason why the relationships of parent-to-child and guardian-to-pet have to be identical in nature in order for them them to both be valuable. And that’s OK.

5 Rules for a New Year

I’m not usually big into resolutions. They’re so often forgotten a few weeks in, given up on out of discouragement, or they turn out to be unrealistic. Like many people I know I had a pretty rough 2016 (that it’s been a year and two days since my last post is just one symptom of that), and while I don’t regret removing pressure from myself during that time, I’ve been noticing that I’ve completely lost many good disciplines, and as a result have a good deal of what I can only describe as flab, emotionally and intellectually (ok, I have some of that physically too!)

With that in mind, I’ve created a short list of rules for myself, to help guide me over the next year. I can’t really call them goals, since they’re not very concrete and don’t have measurable success points, really, but that’s not what I wanted out of them anyways. I find that daunting, strange though that may seem. I prefer to operate under simple and positive life rules when starting a fresh year (with a good measure of grace given for those times that I can’t avoid being thrown off-course), and with that in mind, I have written the following five rules in my journal:


  1. Assume the best in others.
    When you’ve had a rough year (or rough few years…), it’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of negativity. Particularly when you have had to deal with difficult situations and people repeatedly over the course of a short period of time, the temptation is to preemptively start assuming the worst, which of course very often sours encounters and circumstances which would otherwise have been good (or neutral at worst). The only reliable way I’ve found to get out of that cycle is to make a very deliberate effort to turn negative thoughts into positive ones, “taking captive every thought” as it comes along.
  2. Give away more than you buy.
    This year I’m going to try donating, recycling, or re-gifting at least one more item than what I’m bringing into the house (except groceries…of course, with two growing kids the result is the same as if I were including them). The purpose of this is twofold: First (and most obvious of the two), it will cut down the clutter. Second, I believe it will make me consider every purchase more carefully and not just think of myself or my family when I’m out (and not that thinking of one’s family is bad, but it can be all too easy to justify purchases when they’re “for the kids”).
  3. Look for inspiration everywhere.
    The cure for the creative rut, right here. This goes hand-in-hand with assuming the best, in a sense, because looking for beauty and inspiration in even difficult situations is an amazing tool for turning negativity on its head. I used to be quite good at this, I think (maybe better in memory?), but it’s another “discipline” (which doesn’t feel like one, really, when you’re in the process) I’ve lost over the last year.
  4. Spend at least one evening a week buried in a good book.
    I don’t know what it is, but something about how I’ve been doing life since college has made me lose some of the joy of reading. Maybe it was the boatload (courseload?) of reading one DOESN’T do for pleasure in college, maybe it’s that adult life just makes it hard to read at my favourite time (late at night to early morning when the house is dead quiet), or maybe it’s a combination of factors, but where I once could finish a longer novel in a week, I now read maybe two or three a year. How sad is that?! And I know that I really COULD be reading instead of watching TV many nights. This goal may seem small to those of you who have kept up the good habit, but it’s something I need to do more mindfully right now and this seems like a good way to start.
  5. Don’t be afraid of starting over.
    So often I get trapped by the idea that I’ve wasted time and energy when something I’ve been working on doesn’t work out. It happens when I have to pick up a skill again that I’ve lost from lack of use, when I make a big mistake that needs fixing, or when I change my mind entirely about what I want to do. When I fall into this discouraged thinking, the monologue in my head starts to sound like, “why should I bother starting/completing this when it’s just going to end in disaster and waste anyways?” The truth is, though, that no effort is ever wasted. Mistakes can teach us, effort stretches us, discipline is learned from going forward despite obstacles. If there is always something to be gained from our efforts, even if it’s not what we THOUGHT we would gain from them, we don’t have to be trapped by the fear of wasting them. I hope to remind myself of that so often this year that it becomes my default position.

Well, those are my rules to live by this year. Do you write resolutions or rules for yourself when you need a re-set, at New Year’s or otherwise? How do you stay on track?

Change is Good

Something something New Year something something…

Well, despite not really knowing how to start this without sounding cliché, I am actually very excited to have a new blog look and a new blog name for this blog New Year’s! I was going to try to fit “same bat-time, same bat-channel” in there somehow, but there was no way for it to make sense in the context. haha

Anyways, I really think that “Handknit Hearts” better reflects the direction I want to take with this blog. It’s all about loving, living, and knitting. Which, really, is what I want out of life in general. So, here we go.

Happy New Year, friends.