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, December 29, 2010

Dear Aya

My longest friendship is with a woman who lives in another country.  Aya has been my pen pal since fall of 1993.  We began writing during my senior year of high school and my letters consisted of information about my classes, upcoming exams, and my part-time jobs.  Aya, a few years older than I, wrote of her education, her preference for the color pink, her admiration for birds, and her love all things Elvis.
During these seventeen years, we’ve written about men we’ve dated.  Men who we wouldn’t see again, and men who would become our husbands.  We’ve written about moving, buying cars, becoming teachers, and becoming mothers.  Our worlds have become larger and the subjects we write about have grown as well.
When someone finds out I have a pen pal, they are usually surprised by two things - the longevity of our friendship and the fact that we communicate with letters.  Old-fashioned, hand-written letters that require multiple stamps.  Letters that find their way back and forth at least once a month, with only the occasional e-mail.  There’s always a smile on my face when I see one of Aya’s letters among my utility bills.  Her stationery often features Disney characters or whimsical drawings of flowers or airplanes.  We adorn our envelopes with stickers and send pictures of our family back and forth over the ocean.  
We’re fortunate because we have met - several times.  Aya has many more stamps in her passport than I do.  I admire her courage and fearless spirit for flying hours on a plane to explore various locales.  She visited Hawaii and Las Vegas and Paris before I did.  And for a few months, Aya was an exchange student, residing an hour’s drive away.  We went out to eat, went to the movies, and shopped.  High price tags were not so high for Aya who informed me of the drastic price differences in Japan.
On a regular basis, thousands of miles separate us, yet we are close, and have shared in the milestones of each other’s lives.  I sat on the floor of our first apartment, speaking into a cassette player, recording a message of happiness, congratulations, and good wishes to be played at Aya’s wedding.  And a few years later, I returned home from a weekend in Laguna Beach to a phone message - Aya’s husband had telephoned to say Aya had given birth to a baby girl.  Almost eleven years ago, Reina entered the world and entered my life.  Her pictures hang in my home, just as my nephews’ pictures do.
Almost eight years later, my husband would send an email and a photo, announcing the birth of our son, Ryan.  Reina and Ryan.  Aya and Wendy, friends with birthdays each on the 7th. 
When we meet, we look very different.  Aya is a woman with acrylic nails, a Coach handbag, and high-heeled boots.  I am a woman with silver rings and clogs.  Yet, Aya knows me.  She knows my family, the names of my sister and nephews.  
I do not take our relationship for granted.  Generally speaking, friendships are not easy to maintain.  Written relationships are rare, and thus even more special and precious.  Just like Aya.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Greetings

***  Disclaimer - This blog is a reflection of my own opinions and beliefs.  It is in no way meant to offend, insult, or upset anyone who sends me the types of cards I am describing.  ***
I don’t think it’s an overstatement or an exaggeration of any kind to say that computers and the internet have changed our lives.
And I’m not just talking about making the world smaller or more accessible or faster and more convenient.  I’m talking about the computer’s trickle-down-effect that has extended its reach to holiday cards.
Every year, I receive an increasing number of  digital photo cards.  A family portrait or pictures of the children, sealed and delivered in all their glossiness with a generic message of joy and happiness at this time of year.  And the photo cards I receive are exactly the same cards a next-door neighbor or colleague receives.  And that’s the part that bothers me.
There’s no personalization.  There’s no special greeting specifically for my family and I.  When I open an envelope and find a generic, digital card inside, I feel like I’m opening an advertisement for the World Wildlife Fund.  I feel no personal connection to a mass-produced, mass-mailed holiday card.
Children are growing up with limited knowledge regarding the art of sending mail.
Instead it’s text messages, e-cards, and voicemail that are supposed to take the place for thank you notes, letters, and cards. 
Not me.  Call me old-fashioned, but I think there’s something special about opening an envelope and knowing that the contents inside were chosen just for me.  So, I addressed, stamped, and sealed my holiday cards myself.  I filled the slot on the front of the card with a picture of my son standing in front of a snowman.  And inside each card, I wrote a personal message tailored to the person opening the envelope.  My neighbor, my former boss, and my friend all received different sentiments because I have different relationships with them.  
Maybe you want me to remember that the important part is just receiving a card in the first place.  And I admit, it is nice to see holiday cards around the living room.  But, I want more.  I want a heartfelt, personal holiday card adorning my living room.
*** To all my readers, I wish you a happy holiday season filled with laughter, love, hugs, and hot cocoa!   ***

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dear Ryan

Dear Ryan,
   Do you ever feel like you have two different mommies?  They’re both me, it’s just that sometimes I feel like two different mommies.
   For half the year, I’m teacher-mommy.  That’s who I am right now.  I’ve been leaving the house earlier and I miss seeing you wake up.  I miss hearing you call out, “Ma, Da, Ry.”  I miss the first hug of the day, the first kiss of the day, the first rub of your satiny-soft cheek.  This past week, we haven’t shared our first hug and kiss until the afternoon.  Late afternoon.  And by then, I’m tired-teacher-mommy.  I’ve spent all day with other boys and girls - hugging them, making sure they’re safe, making sure they’re listening and following directions, making sure they’re learning.  And I’ve missed doing all those things with you.
   I know you’re having fun during the day.  I know these days are probably harder for me than for you.  And I’m glad you’re not missing me.  But, you have to know I’m missing you.  A lot.
   Soon, I’ll be on-vacation-mommy.  I’ll be home to feed you three meals a day.  I’ll be home to play “squish” with you first thing in the morning.  I’ll be home to sit on the sidewalk and color with our chalk.  I’ll be home to take you to the swings and push you high-in-the-sky.  
   When I’m on vacation, I won’t be waking up at 5 each morning, unless you decide you’re ready to start our day.  I won’t have papers stacked on my desk, waiting for me to grade.  I’ll have more energy to play puzzles on the floor or sing “head-shoulders-knees-and-toes.”
   Sweet Pea, even when I’m exhausted-teacher-mommy, please know that I am always your mommy.  I am honored to be your mommy.  You are what I am most proud of in my life.  My life is for you.  
   I give hugs and kisses and love to children at school.  But I never run out.  I always have an endless supply of hugs and kisses and love for you.  You are my number 1!  
   Ryan, I love you.  I tell you every day, and I won’t ever stop telling you - I love you one hundred, thousand, million, billion, trillion, gazillion, every minute of every day!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Phenomenal Woman

   There are times in life when I feel anything but phenomenal.  I feel run-down, exhausted, unattractive, and frumpy.  I feel frazzled, over-whelmed, and inundated.  This is one of those times.
   As a reminder to myself and my female readers, for this week's blog, I offer you the words of Maya Angelou.

      Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
      I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
      But when I start to tell them, They think I'm telling lies.
      I say, It's in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips,
      The stride of my step, The curl of my lips.
      I'm a woman
      Phenomenal woman, That's me.
      I walk into a room
      Just as cool as you please,
      And to a man,
      The fellows stand or fall down on their knees.
      Then they swarm around me,
      A hive of honey bees.
      I say, It's the fire in my eyes,
      And the flash of my teeth,
      The swing in my waist,
      And the joy in my feet.
      I'm a woman
      Phenomenal woman, That's me.
      Men themselves have wondered what they see in me.
      They try so much but they can't touch
      My inner mystery.
      When I try to show them,
      They say they still can't see.
      I say, It's in the arch of my back, The sun of my smile,
      The ride of my breasts,
      The grace of my style.
      I'm a woman
      Phenomenal woman, That's me.
      Now you understand just why my head's not bowed.
      I don't shout or jump about
      Or have to talk read loud.
      When you see me passing,
      It ought to make you proud.
      I say, It's in the click of my heels,
      The bend of my hair,
      The palm of my hand, the need for my care.
      'Cause I'm a woman
      Phenomenal woman, That's me.