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, July 11, 2012

The A to Z List of Exceptions

One of my high school English teachers once told our class that there were only two guarantees in life - death and taxes.  It does seem that life is full of exceptions, things that don’t quite apply all the time.  Here is my A to Z list of Exceptions.
A Adverbs.  Adverbs are words that describe verbs, they explain how you do something.  You write neatly, drive carefully, jog slowly.  Most adverbs end with “-ly.”  Exceptions to that rule include “friendly, lovely, hourly, leisurely.”

B Breakfast.  We grow up thinking that certain foods are eaten in the morning for breakfast.  Not necessarily.  Especially when restaurants such as IHOP allow you to enjoy pancakes any time of the day or night.

C Chips.  Generally, we hear “chips” we think “potato chips.”  But there are exceptions.  Chips may refer to poker chips, chocolate chips, or banana chips.

D Dress.  Women certainly have more options available to them - skirts and dresses, pants and shorts.  To compensate, sizes vary widely for women’s clothing, though not for men’s, it seems.  A woman, most likely, needs to try on an item of clothing before purchasing.  A size “large” by one manufacturer may fit differently than a size large by another manufacturer.  However, men can shop merely by size - pick up an XL shirt and jeans with a certain waist-size and know that those items will fit.

E Emotional expressions.  Traditionally, we smile when we’re happy and cry when we’re sad.  But, there are the exceptions.  Times we express our profound happiness with “tears of joy” and we laugh because we’re scared or nervous.

F Flight.  We learn that birds have beaks and they fly.  Not necessarily.  Not all birds have been granted the ability to fly.  Those exceptions include penguins, turkeys, and ostriches.

G Grown-Up.  Children anticipate each birthday, waiting for the day they will be a “grown-up.”  When I turned eighteen, I became an adult in some ways and not in others.  I was old enough to join the armed forces and fight for my country.  I could vote.  I could not order a margarita nor could I put a quarter in a slot machine in Las Vegas.

H Hue.  Color isn’t steadfast; there are exceptions.  Leaves aren’t always green.  Gold isn’t always yellow (white gold), and chocolate isn’t always brown (white chocolate).

I Iceland.  It is my understanding that “Iceland” is a misnomer.  From what I’ve read, Iceland has less ice than Greenland.  Names aren’t always descriptive, as in this case.

J Junior.  That moniker only works for males.  Some famous examples include - Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Downey Jr., Harry Connick Jr., and Sammy Davis Jr.  Women don’t have this option available to them. 

K Kilt.  My maiden name is Scottish in origin, but I still can’t envision my dad wearing a kilt.  Although a kilt is the exception to the widely held rule that men don’t wear skirts.  

L Library.  I’m a library girl - volunteered in my high school library during my lonely lunch hours and worked in a public library for a few years during college.  And thankfully, libraries still exist.  Libraries are the exception in our society - a place that is (largely) free, a place that doesn’t pressure you to spend any money, a place that allows you to borrow things without leaving behind your car keys or credit card.  A place that celebrates the written word and the honor system.

M Months.  How do you calculate how long a month is?  4 weeks, usually, with 7 days in each week means 28 days.  But really, the only month that limits itself to 28 days is February.  Most months actually consist of 31 days.

N Names.  It used to be much easier to determine a student’s gender by looking at their first names.  “Jordan” and “Maxwell” may not be boys.  Two different years, two different students answered to the name “London” - one a boy, one a girl.

O Oxen.  Deer, sheep, children, and feet.  These words are “irregular plurals” - exceptions to the rule that plurals have an “s” at the end.  When my students ask me “Why?”  I tell them the truth, “I don’t know.”  I really don’t know who decided we shouldn’t say “sheeps” or “oxes” (We say “foxes” after all).

P Phonemic Awareness.  It has been said that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn.  I think it’s because of all the exceptions.  The letters “gh” often sound like “f” as in “rough” or “tough.”  Yet, you take those same letters, “gh,” and put them in another word, “through” and they sound completely different.  Likewise, the letter “c” doesn’t always sound like the letter “k” as in camera; instead, the letter “c” sometimes sounds more like the letter “s” as in Cinderella.

Q Quitting.  It’s not always a good thing.  We’re taught to not give up, to stick it out.  Except, when we’re quitting smoking or any other bad habit.  Then, quitting is celebrated.

R Renowned individuals.  Famous people change the rules.  They don’t have to use capital letters to write their name (think of the poet e.e. cummings).  They don’t have to use a first and last name (think Madonna and Cher).  

S Spelling.  I tell my students that the English language is challenging because of all the spelling exceptions.  “i before e except after c.”  We usually teach students to “drop the e” before adding “-ing” as with “care, caring.”  Except, “canoe” becomes “canoeing.”  Many suffixes are simply added to words “pain + ful” becomes “painful.”  Except “nine + th” becomes “ninth.”

T Taxes.  Turns out there’s an exception to my English teacher’s philosophy.  Yes, there are taxes, but even within the state of California, different cities have different sales tax rates which means the same product can cost more in one city than another.  

U Umbrellas.  They’re a rainy-day accessory.  Except, when it’s sunny and then some people choose to use them to block the sun.  

V Vermilion, crimson, ruby, red.  Pick your synonym, but it’s a color with many exceptions.  Red is the color associated with fire and danger, love and valentines, ladybugs and strawberries, passion, and feng shui.  

W Weather.  Living in Southern California makes explaining the seasons to my toddler son a bit more challenging.  Usually, winter is described as “cold, snowy, rainy.”  Usually, but not always, as viewers of the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena will attest when they look with envy at our blue skies.

X X-Rays.  Most times a patient only experiences an x-ray because something is wrong and doctors are trying to determine exactly what is wrong or how wrong it really is.  The exception to that rule is dental x-rays.  Dentists perform periodic x-rays not because something has been determined to already be wrong, but just in case something is wrong.

Y Youth.  We are young, itching to be older.  Old enough to stay up late, wear lipstick, do what we want to do.  We want to be grown-ups, have freedom, have fun (isn’t that what children think?).  Then, we become adults, and women especially, want their youth again, want to be young again, try to disguise the laugh lines they have earned.  Any wrinkles I have, I’ve earned.  They mean I’m alive, I’m experiencing life, and I don’t think that’s anything I should be disguising.  I strive to be like wine - getting better with age.

Z Zero.  In most cases, zero means nothing.  I have gone snowboarding zero times.  I own zero motorcycles.  However, in math, a zero isn’t always nothing; it can actually be quite important.  There’s a big difference between $100 and $1000, and all because of that extra zero.


  1. Honey,
    This A -Z really got me thinking about how strange the English language is with its multitude of exceptions that are not very logical. I love reading your writing and I am proud of you!

  2. You are so right about exceptions.When growing up we are always told things are done one way and made to believe there are no changes,but as we get older we see all the exceptions there really are and it gets very confusing.Your father has always had a problem with spelling and he is always saying"the english language is so difficult".Life is confusing enough without adding all the exceptions one has to deal with.I love reading your work.I love you and I am so proud of you.

  3. With any task the hardest part is getting started. Your weekly blog is an example of a reoccurring task that requires a fresh start every time. I am impressed with the content and variety of your subjects. I am also impressed with the devotion you have for your weekly words. Your Mother & I are proud of you.

    Love Dad