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 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

I’m not omnipotent, but if I was there are certain things I would do; big, lofty things like making sure no child was ever abused and making sure all children had a warm, safe place to call home.  On a much smaller scale, I’d amend Halloween.  Me, with my new powers, would change Halloween so it occurred on a fixed day-of-the-week rather than a fixed date.  Specifically, I’d choose the last Saturday of October.

As an elementary school teacher, let me just say that there isn’t a whole lot of teaching that occurs on Halloween.  There are parties, but not teaching per say.  I try to strike a compromise.  For the last several years, my upper-grade students enjoy a bagel and fruit brunch while they read aloud their October-themed fiction stories they’ve been working on all month.  Even with a more relaxed teaching day planned, most of my teacherly duties fall in line with “maintain order.”  

Additionally, you have to factor in time for children to change into their costumes for the school-wide parade.  Understandably, kids have other things on their minds besides being attentive in class.  Furthermore, most children have special events planned for later that afternoon and evening.  Which means homework completion is challenged, children aren’t getting the same amount of rest, and they will consequently come to school the next morning with the equivalent of a candy hangover.  Let’s not forget, the other part of our student population - the children who don’t celebrate Halloween so they choose not to attend school that day.

On the other hand, if Halloween had a fixed day, specifically a Saturday, parents would be responsible for all Halloween festivities and their side-effects.  Schools could then decide on a case-by-case basis how they wanted to celebrate this day of tricks-or-treats.

On that note, I hope my readers are enjoying more treats than tricks today (and everyday)!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


One of my favorite vacation spots is Moonstone Beach Drive in Cambria.  For those who don’t know, Cambria is half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, close to Hearst Castle and close to the beach where you can witness elephant seals giving birth.  I first ventured to Cambria for those reasons, but I don’t return for those reasons.  Instead, I make yearly pilgrimages to Cambria because, in a sense, when I go there, I go home to myself.

Cambria gives me something I don’t get anywhere else.  It gives me a chance to breathe differently - slower, more completely.  It allows me a chance to be someone different - someone on vacation who doesn’t have to take care of anyone, who doesn’t have phone calls to make, meals to cook, or errands to run.

In addition, staying in a hotel on Moonstone Beach Drive means the ocean is my neighbor.  It lulls me to sleep, wakes me in the morning, and accompanies me while I write on the balcony of my hotel room.  Nothing soothes my soul quite the way the ocean does.  (Maybe it’s a Pisces thing). 

Around my left wrist, I wear a silver bangle with three stones - moonstones.  Two of the moonstones are adjacent to each other, the third moonstone is on the other side.  The bangle was a Mother’s Day present, the moonstones a perfect representation of my husband, my son, and myself.

Moonstones are indeed found on Cambria’s beaches.  Some say the moonstone is a gem for lovers; some say it is a gemstone good for the wearer - good for introspection, good for meditation, good for inner strength.  Cambria is all those things for me.  It is the only place where I can slow down, focus on me, regain a sense of peace.  

The bangle encircling my wrist is a beautiful representation of our family.  And while my family provides me with joy and tenderness, warmth and delight, they are also a source of exhaustion and frustration, worry and work.  It is the other Moonstone I rely on to get me back in balance.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Celebrating the Times (The Good, The Big, and the In-Between)

Early on in our parenting days, someone told my husband “the days are long, the years are short.”  When there’s a child involved, it certainly seems like we were changing diapers one day and sending our son to pre-school the next day.

Time is fleeting so we celebrate the little moments in the everyday.  We celebrate yearly events, monthly events, weekly events, and daily events.  Here is a list of our family’s top seven traditions and celebrations:

  1. Birthday books.  We have celebrated each of Ryan’s four birthdays with a small family gathering.  Each year, everyone in attendance signs Ryan’s “birthday book.”  I began this tradition with Ryan’s first birthday and the Dr. Seuss classic Oh the Places You’ll Go.
  2. Our yearly Santa picture.  When I was pregnant, I purchased a “Santa and me” picture frame at an after-Christmas sale.  Each year, we take Ryan to visit Santa Claus and take a picture (although, one year he declined to visit with jolly St. Nick).  Each year, the frame graces our coffee table with an updated Santa picture.
  3. Our yearly visit to the Aquarium.  On the day I took a home pregnancy test and learned I was pregnant, I spent the rest of the day with my sister and two nephews marveling at fish like Nemo, sharks, and sea lions.  Since that July day, we take Ryan to visit the aquarium each summer.
  4. Easter and Passover.  I was raised by parents of two different religious backgrounds, and the tradition continues with my husband and myself.  So each spring, my son enjoys “matzo crackers” and we decorate hard-boiled eggs.  And on Easter Sunday, the eight plastic eggs hidden in our living room each hold a quarter to total Ryan’s $2.00 “Son Day” payment.
  5. To document Ryan’s growth, we take a picture of him on the 30th of each month (he was born on March 30th).  When Ryan was younger, we were able to position him on a red chair in his bedroom.  We watched his legs dangle closer to the hardwood floor.  As an active toddler, pictures are more spontaneous - on the see saw, standing outside of preschool, striking a pose as he dances around the living room.
  6. Ryan was born on a Sunday, so since his birth, Sunday is also known as “Son Day.”  Each Sunday, Ryan receives $1 in each of his “piggy” banks (one is a blue pig, and one shaped like a baby bottle).  Every few months I empty the banks, tally up the change, and make a deposit in Ryan’s savings account.
  7. Good nights.  My career as an elementary school teacher often forces me to leave the house quite early, sometimes before our son has awoken.  “Night-night time” is even more special.  We have our ritual - a kiss, a nosey-nosey, and a hug-a-bug.  And then, I tell my son I love him and, borrowing from the Mamas and Papas, wish him “Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Riding It Out

Sometimes life, (well, my life anyway), feels like a roller coaster.  You strap yourself in and hang on.  You wait it out.  And sometimes there’s not much more than that for you to do.  You have no control over trajectory or speed.  You can keep your eyes open, or shut them tight.  You scream with terror while adrenaline pounds through your veins.  But once you’re on, you’re on.  There’s no getting off, there’s no slowing down, you wait for the ride to stop.  You just have to wait it out.

That’s where my life feels like right now.  The past couple of weeks have been quite the roller coaster ride.  Moments of joy and laughter, and then, the ride starts to descend, the speed picks up, and there’s panic.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve taken my son to the pony rides in Griffith Park and to Urgent Care.  I’ve had nights of six hours of sleep and nights of three hours of sleep.  I’ve spent time crying in pain, and breathing sighs of relief that my discomfort had eased up.  Most of it, though, is out of my control.

I’ve decided I’m ready to ride the carousel.  I’ve always liked merry-go-rounds.  You can see where you’re going, there’s charming ice-cream-truck music accompanying your ride, and there are the horses that are decorative and pretty, that raise you up gently and bring you back down.  The ride’s more predictable, but a lot more steady, a lot more relaxing.

I think my ride on the roller coaster isn’t done yet.  But when it is, I’m getting in line for the merry-go-round.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Girls and Boys

I remember my eleventh grade United States history teacher.  She said that regardless of any advances we might make, men and women would never truly be equal.  To prove her point, she said a man could walk down the street without a shirt while a woman who did the same thing would be arrested for indecent exposure.

Since I was pregnant, gender differences have been increasingly apparent.  Maybe more so because I’m raising a son.

Boy or girl, I believe it’s my duty to parent so that my child grows up to be a thoughtful, considerate human being.  Consequently, my four-and-a-half year old son is 
not allowed to own or play with any weapons - no light sabers, no guns, no swords.  I strongly believe that items that can cause death and great bodily harm are not items that should be made into play things.  My son has some cars and trucks - so-called “boy toys.”  However, I’ve done my best to provide him with gender-neutral activities - books, puzzles, sidewalk chalk, blocks.  

Ryan knows there are differences between girls and boys, mommies and daddies.  Boys shave their faces and can go pee-pee standing up.  Girls can wear dresses, polish their nails, and wear lipstick.

I think I’m doing something right when I see my son choose a pink balloon.  He doesn’t see it as a “girl color,” and he doesn’t need to.  It’s simply the balloon color that looks most appealing to him.

As the mother of a son, it’s easy to see some of the neighborhood girls playing in their Disney princess dresses, and confidently think, “No way I’d buy those if I had a daughter.”  Do those dresses (along with the toy guns and swords) send a certain message to our children or am I just analyzing it too much?

I don’t know.  

I do know that my son will grow up in a world where men and women aren’t entirely equal.  One isn’t better than, smarter than, or faster than the other.  They are different.  

And it’s really okay to be different.