About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, and DivineCaroline.com. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Getting What I Want (At Least When It Comes to Hotels)

                                                       Ryan, on his 7th birthday, relaxing at our hotel in Cambria

   I’m not what you would call an experienced traveler.  But when it comes to hotels, I know what I want.  I want a hotel that is centrally located to wherever I plan on being.  I want a hotel that offers a free breakfast each morning.  And I want a hotel that doesn’t charge for parking.

   I’m fortunate that the hotel we stay at each year in Cambria meets these requirements.  But I had no idea that what I was expecting to receive isn’t the norm at a lot of hotels.  It’s not until I go searching for a hotel in a new destination (we’re planning a summer trip to Santa Barbara) that I’m shocked to discover what hotels do and do not provide.

   First off, the nightly rate at a hotel covers less than 24 hours now.  Check-in isn’t until 3 or 4 p.m. with check-out the following day at 11 a.m.  Now, hotels want to charge for parking.  That is outrageous to me.  Where else are you supposed to park?  You go eat at a restaurant, and unless you’re using a valet service, you park for free in the lot.  Same thing should hold true for hotels.

   And don’t even get me started on these so-called resort fees.  I think it’s absolutely ridiculous how some hotels try to nickel-and-dime their guests for every little thing.  And as a matter of principle, I won’t stay at any of those locations.  Instead, I go searching online, ask friends for suggestions, re-read old travel articles I’ve got filed away, until I find a hotel that will suit our needs. 

   In the movie When Harry Met Sally, Sally was described as being “high maintenance” based on the way she ordered her food.  Meg Ryan’s character replied, “I just want it the way I want it.”  And I’m the same when it comes to hotels.  We don’t go away all that often, and when we do, I want it to be as pleasurable and cost-efficient as possible.

By the way, if any of my readers are planning a trip to Legoland, just thought I’d mention the West Inn and Suites in Carlsbad.  We stayed there last summer and enjoyed free parking, free shuttle service to Legoland, free breakfast, friendly staff, and an overall really nice hotel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Purple Trees Are Back!

   We don’t have regular seasons here in southern California.  In Los Angeles, the norm is year-round sunshine.  Other states know that certain months, like January or November, are traditionally cold months, and will require cozy sweaters and layering in order to remain comfortable.  Yet, in Los Angeles you never know.  In fact, last Thanksgiving, my family wore short-sleeves.  And anyone who watches the Rose Parade knows that January 1st is typically nice and sunny here.

   Because it is perpetually sunny and warm(-ish), it can be hard to remember what season it is.  But there are markers around that help.

   For me, it’s the blooming of the jacaranda trees.  When I see those purple blooms, I know it’s spring.  

   I think I appreciate those purple trees more now than I did a few years ago.  You see, for a while, jacaranda trees were just a giant nuisance.  Those pretty purple flowers fall off the trees and leave a sticky residue on the sidewalk.  And when my son was stroller-bound, those purple flowers would stick to the stroller wheels and would then make their way into my home.  Which meant my floors required a daily clean-up.

   Additionally, jacaranda trees also serve as a giant “in-your-face” to one of my elementary school teachers.  Now, my readers know that I was an elementary school teacher and hold teachers in high esteem and believe they should be treated with the upmost respect.  But there are always a few that don’t do the profession justice (which I believe is true for people in any profession).  This teacher had a very strict view on art.  In her mind, trees were brown on the bottom and green on top.  And these jacaranda trees just serve as a visual reminder that it isn’t always so.  (In fact, years ago I wrote an essay that was published in the Christian Science Monitor about teachers and children’s art.  Here’s the link if you’re interested:  http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0928/p14s01-legn.html)

   In any event, they’re blooming.  Happy Spring!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Words That Still Hurt

Write the one thing someone said to you a long time ago that still hurts.

   That’s the writing prompt I discovered in a book.  And I knew instantly, what that one thing would be.  

   Back during my high school days (we’re talking about the years 1991-1994), a friend of mine told me something that I have carried with me, locked away in my memory.  

“Your sister is prettier than you.”

   I didn’t doubt it.  My sister is three years younger than me.  She’s always been taller and thinner than me.  She never had the same problems with acne that I did.  She was pretty.  No question about it. 

   To this day though, I don’t know what good can come of a comment like that.  It hurt me then, and it still hurts, and it made me look at things differently.  Because I realized then that people would look at my sister and I and compare us -- “the pretty one” and the “not-so-pretty one.”

                         My seventeenth birthday

   I never felt my looks were my strength.  I knew what my strengths were.  My neat handwriting.  My good grades.  My reading speed.  My quick math calculations.  I was a good student.  Studious, serious, and sincere.  (And in all fairness, my sister was also a good student.)  

   I accepted, quite a while ago, that I would never be pretty in the way that beauty pageants describe pretty.  I’m too “me” to be that kind of pretty.  And by me, I mean “authentic.”  I won’t wear clothes that aren’t comfortable.  I won’t wear a bathing suit that covers less than my underwear.  I won’t wear shoes that I can’t walk in.  I won’t wear a bra that adds sizes to my breasts.  I won’t wear gold jewelry or big diamonds.  

   It’s been more than twenty years since Sally spoke those words to me.  They were mean and unnecessary (as I’ve found, most hurtful words are).  And they’re just that -- words.

     And I’m sure those words, like the Preamble to the Constitution (which I first memorized during elementary school), will continue to remain in my memory.   

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I'm Still Learning

   It’s been a hard few weeks.  I know I can’t work as a teacher any more.  I’ve made that lifestyle change.  (In fact, it was just two years ago that I left my teaching career).  But what I haven’t done is change most of the other parts of my life.

   Call it denial.  Call it stubbornness.  Call it stupidity.  It’s probably all of those things.

   A little more than two weeks ago, I accompanied my son and his class on a walking field trip from his school to the Page Museum (located on Wilshire Boulevard).  Back in the days when my son relied on his stroller for his prime mode of transportation and my legs weren’t under daily attack, I used to walk my son there all the time.  We’d marvel at the Tar Pits and explore the “Fossil Museum,” his nickname for the Page Museum.

   I knew the field trip would be challenging for me.  My husband couldn’t attend because of work.  And although both my parents offered to take my place and chaperone the field trip, I wouldn’t take them up on their generous offer.  This was my son.  I was his mother.  The field trip was my responsibility.

   Thankfully the pain didn’t set in until after my son was safely back at school.  Then it was as if my brain gave my body permission to feel awful.  (The same thing happened on our one and only trip to Disneyland, the summer before my son started preschool.  I was fine the whole day until I parked the car at home.)

   But no matter how awful I felt immediately after the field trip, the day still goes on.  I still had to pick up my son from school and help him with homework.  And the days after that kept going.  Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  School and homework.  Errands and chores around the house. 

   Then there’s the after-school time.  The time when my son wants to go outside and play basketball.  I’m his playmate-of-choice (and by default since I’m the only one around).  And although I could put my foot down and say no, I don’t.  All my child wants to do is play outside with his Mommy.  How could I say no to that?  So I played.  

   And I hurt.  And then it’s a vicious cycle of more pain, less sleep.  More medications, less energy.  More discomfort, less confidence.

   And the knowledge that my current situation sucks.  (I know I’m a writer and should be able to think of a fancier word, but in certain situations, basic is better).  And this sucks.  It isn’t fair.  It isn’t easy.

   And eventually, it’ll get better.  It’s hard now.  But it’s been better.  And I have to trust that the better times will return.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pretty Piggies

   I read somewhere that when dealing with a chronic medical condition, one should re-phrase “I can’t” statements into “I don’t” statements.  This word-change is supposed to give a person an additional sense of power; as if there is some choice involved in the situation.  It’s really hard for me to apply this train of thought to my own life, however, because most of what I can’t do isn’t something I chose not to do.

   With one exception.

   I don’t cut my own toenails anymore.  Every three to four weeks, I treat myself to a pedicure (nail polish optional).  

   Truth be told, it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to maneuver my legs so that I could cut my toenails.  Applying and removing nail polish was a whole other awkward task.  At my mom’s urging, I’ve begun treating myself to pedicures.  And now instead of saying “I can’t cut my own toenails” (technically I can, but it’s really difficult), I can re-phrase that as “I don’t cut my own toenails.”

   Now you should know that I am not a woman who is used to receiving regular pedicures.  Simply because my feet are so ticklish.  Just watching someone else’s feet being rubbed with a pumice stone, can set me off and get me squirming and giggling.  (During my pedicures, I ask that only my heels be rubbed.)

   Sometimes, getting a pedicure isn’t an easy thing for me to do.  It can be  difficult for me to sit in one position and keep my legs still for a period of time.  So I shift when I need to.  And I make sure that my legs are rubbed extremely gently.

   But when I’m as comfortable as I can be, I’m a happy multi-tasker.  For while my toenails are being taken care of, I get to enjoy some bonus reading time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hurray for Hummingbirds

   The bottlebrush tree outside our dining room window is blooming which means:  

a).  more bumblebees are around
b).  I’m sweeping our front steps more often because the tree sheds
c).  we’re enjoying more frequent visits from hummingbirds

   Needless to say, reason “c” is my favorite!  There’s something about the sight of a hummingbird that always surprises me.  Part of it is their small size and their amazingly fast speed.  Because they do move so quickly, it can be difficult to catch a glimpse, which makes a hummingbird sighting all the more special.  

   There’s almost something incongruous about these very small creatures (their weight is measured in ounces) and their flying abilities.  They can fly in all directions (including backwards), and the sound of their wings is reminiscent of a helicopter’s propellers.

   The hummingbird is also the symbol associated with Papyrus Greeting Cards.  In fact, every greeting card includes a protective paper which explains the legends involving hummingbirds.

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.  The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.

   I like the fact that these hummingbirds are visiting our home during our meal time.  I like to think that they keep returning because they see our family sitting together and sharing a meal, all the while talking and laughing, and enjoying each other’s company.  For our life is rich, beauty does surround us, and my son is certainly my sweetest creation.