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, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. 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, October 27, 2010

Secret Foam

         Only people who have lived with me know my secret.  And now, it’s only my husband and toddler son who are subjected to my dark side.  Well, not dark, but my white, foamy side.  
I am a messy toothbrusher.
I am not one of those people who can wander from room to room while brushing their teeth.  I need to be standing, perched over the sink, hoping any droppings make their way into my sink basin and not onto my orange slippers.  It’s one of the only things I do without multitasking.
I was taught to use a pea-sized ration of toothpaste.  I do that.  My husband insists I need to brush with my mouth closed.  I try to do that.  But still, I foam.  First at the corners of my mouth.  Then a trickle starts, working its way down to my chin.  And then, the dam breaks, and the bristles of my toothbrush can no longer contain my tri-colored Aquafresh.  My toothbrush has transformed into an uncontrollable stick of foam.  My hand is covered, and the trail continues down my wrist towards my elbow.  A river of spit and toothpaste that won’t stop until I use one hand to scoop up and rinse off the white goo from the other.
My messiness is nothing I’m proud of.  And it worries me.  How will I properly teach my young son to brush his teeth?  Will this be our first example of, “Go ask your father”?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Wise Person Once Said

I don’t remember much from my college philosophy courses.  However, I do remember my professor telling our class that the sign of a truly wise person is acknowledging what one doesn’t know.  
I don’t know if I’d consider myself wise, but there are many things I don’t know, can’t figure out, and don’t understand.
As a disclaimer, let me just say that there are a myriad list of technological devices and feats that I can’t begin to fathom.  This list reflects the smaller, more everyday bits of life that have me puzzled.
  1. Garbage bags.  Why do people spend money on things intended for the trash?  I mean a lot of things eventually wind up in the trash, but that’s a garbage bag’s whole purpose.  That’s it.  Now, I recognize the need for garbage bags; however, I use the plastic and paper bags that every store gladly provides its customers.  These freebie bags don’t always fit perfectly inside my trash cans, but it’s close enough.
  2. Shirts/no shirts.  Who decided that it was okay for a man to walk around without a shirt but not okay for a woman?  Quite frankly, I don’t enjoy looking at people’s chests.  Male or female.  If my chest needs to be covered while I go for a walk in my neighborhood, so should my male neighbors.
  3. Food delivery.  Why are pizza and Chinese food so easily delivered?  They are hot foods, after all.  There’s a whole time issue with delivery because they taste better hot.  Why aren’t submarine sandwiches delivered?  Something cool would, in my mind, be easier to deliver.  And, let’s take it a step further.  If we’re going to make special insulated carrying-cases to keep our pizzas hot upon delivery, why isn’t there a coffee delivery service?  There’s a fortune of money to be made there, for someone industrious enough to realize that tired people will pay to have coffee delivered to their homes each morning.
  4. Squeeze bottles.  Whether it’s body lotion, shampoo, or ketchup it’s a relatively new occurrence to create the bottle with the opening at the bottom.  But it makes sense.  It’s a science lesson, after all.  We have gravity pulling things down.  So, inside my shower, are bottles turned upside down in my attempt to use the remaining last bit.  Why are Ketchup bottles just recently embracing this phenomenon?
  5. War-Crime-Violence as entertainment.  There are television shows and video games that make me want to scream.  Call me old-fashioned, but war is not entertainment.  Hospital emergency rooms are not entertainment.  Crime scenes are not entertainment.  Yet, that’s what people are watching.  And playing.  If I want to see that, I can watch the news.
  6. Over-priced children’s clothing.  Adult clothing comes in all styles and price ranges.  Similarly, so does clothing for little people.  I am a somewhat frugal clothes shopper - I rarely spend more than $20 for a shirt/sweater/blouse.  And because of my self-imposed spending limits, I don’t spend $20 on a piece of clothing for my son.  I’m not a miser, I’m simply being practical.  My toddler-aged son is continuously growing.  His clothes have a relatively short window of opportunity to be worn.  And when they’re worn, they’re likely to be decorated with sidewalk chalk, watercolors, or chocolate pudding.
The quest for wisdom and knowledge continues.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Make a Wish

Make a Wish
Up until a few weeks ago, the Make-a-Wish Foundation was just that, a foundation.  An organization I respected.  An organization I sent $5 or $10 to every time a letter came in the mail requesting a donation.  I believed in their premise - granting wishes to children suffering from life-threatening conditions.  And I believe in karma, so I put forth good vibes, try to do good deeds, and donate a little money.
A few weeks ago, the new school year began.  And Heather (her name has been changed for this blog) became one of my students.  On the surface, Heather looks and behaves like a typical fourth grade student - does her homework, chats with her friends, doesn’t like running in P.E.  
But Heather isn’t like every other child.  Heather is being granted her wish, and she will be missing a week of school.  Suddenly, this foundation isn’t just a foundation.  It’s a part of Heather’s life, and it’s a part of my life, because Heather is in my life.
I recently read a bit on the Make-A-Wish Foundation website.  I share with you their guiding principle: “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.”
I read and re-read that statement.  Yes, this organization does some very special work.  However, the latter part of this statement seems to be something we can all do - “enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.”  
I can, on a daily basis, do something that will enrich someone’s life.  Whether it’s a compliment on a pretty necklace, giving a hug and a kiss to a child who is missing her mother, or calling a friend to tell them “I’m thinking of you.”  
  I can do these things, and everyone can do these things.  Reading that statement, learning more about this foundation, just left me wishing every human being could read that statement.  If every human being spent their day thinking of enriching the human experience in some way (however small, however seemingly insignificant) we really could change our world for the better.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Woman with a Book

I am “Woman with a Book.”  
For much of my childhood, I was either called a “bookworm,” or “teacher’s pet,” or both.  Were those monikers true?  Depends on your definition of those terms.  I honestly don’t want to be compared to a worm, and I’m certainly no one’s pet.  But I did read.  A lot.  I often skipped the recess games of Dodgeball or Kickball so I could sit on the bench and escape into the world that Beverly Cleary had created.  And I did study.  A lot.  And got really good grades, and tried to please my teachers.
That was then.
I am, by no means, an art connoisseur.  I see a piece of art and sometimes something resonates with me.  There is an attraction I cannot explain.  I like it.  I feel a connection to it.  For me, great work leaves a lasting impression.  Picasso’s Woman with a Book did that to me the first time I viewed it at the Norton Simon Museum.
This was a painting of me.  The me that most people don’t know, or don’t take the time to find out about.  Here was a woman, a sensual woman - hair down, breasts exposed- and she had been reading.  Yet, something she read made her stop, and think, and wonder.  But still, in the quiet of the room, seated on her comfortable reading chair, she was there in all her bright colors and sexuality.
Humans are so quick to judge.  Quiet girl, with a book.  You already have preconceived ideas about me.  But you don’t know me.  You don’t know that I once danced on a table in a crowded restaurant.  You don’t know that I went parasailing.  You don’t know that I took a belly-dancing class.
I am not just a woman with a book - end of story.  I am Picasso’s Woman with a Book - beginning of a story.