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, May 29, 2013


   The other day in the mail, I received an invitation from the district superintendent to attend the annual retirement reception.  Technically, I am still employed as a teacher, using up my sick days during these last few months when I haven’t been teaching.  After that, I leave the profession, leave the district, and will “retire due to disability.”

   Until rather recently, “retirement” was way off in the future.  When my hair would be grayer, my son would be an adult, and my age would be written as “sixty-something.”  Except, I am still a brunette, my five-year-old son will start kindergarten in the fall, and I’m thirty-seven.  

   And at thirty-seven years of age, retirement doesn’t mean what I thought it would.

   I had thought retirement might mean relocating closer to the ocean.  It doesn’t.  We’re still living in the same home we’ve lived in for the last nine years with no plans on moving anytime soon.

   I had thought retirement might mean finally owning a convertible.  It doesn’t.  A 1965 cherry red Mustang convertible will still stay in my fantasies, because my 2003 blue Honda Civic is already paid for.  

   I had thought retirement might mean days of spontaneity with no set schedules to follow.  It doesn’t.  My days revolve around my son’s current pre-school schedule and will be amended when he starts kindergarten in August. 

   Retirement does mean leaving one’s job.  Our society generally associates retirement with one’s age and years of service. (I had twelve years of service).  Many people voluntarily make the decision to retire after calculating their living expenses and the new-take-home pay they can expect. 

   And I did have a choice.  I could have ignored my doctor’s advice.  I could have kept teaching.  But, it got to the point where I didn’t like who I was when I was still working.  I was someone constantly fatigued, constantly in pain, and constantly unhappy.  And selfishly, I had to stop thinking about other people’s children and start focusing on my own.  I wanted my son to know a happier mommy, and hopefully, a healthier mommy.  And that’s why I retired.

   So for now, retirement means that while my son’s at school, I have some leisure time.  A lunch with a friend, writing time, errands -- it’s my choice.  I’ll open the sunroof on my car.  My husband and I will wander around the Venice Canals while our son is in school.  It’s not the retirement I had originally planned, but as I’m constantly learning, life doesn’t always go as planned.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Books in My Life

   For ten years, I have maintained a reading log.  Back in 2003, I was given a hardcover, spiral bound book from a kindergarten student as an end-of-the-year gift.  At first, I wasn’t sure what to do with the book with the pretty heart cover.  And that summer, I saw a store selling a “reading log.”  It was also a hardcover book, with lined pages inside (just like mine), but the store’s version had pre-printed prompts to record a book’s title, author, and the reader’s critique.

   Thus, my reading log was born.  I document the books I read by recording each book’s title, author, date completed, and my thoughts.  

   Browsing through my reading log is like looking at a scrapbook of my life.  You can trace stages of my life by looking at the books I have read.

   For instance, during my teaching career I have sought inspiration and encouragement from books including Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul edited by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen; One Day, All Children by Wendy Kopp;  A Cup of Comfort for Teachers edited by Colleen Sell; and The Essential 55 by Ron Clark to name just a few.  Teaching can be a solitary endeavor, and I found it infinitely helpful to read of others’ adventures (and mis-adventures), sometimes finding ideas to implement in my own classroom, sometimes a laugh, sometimes a virtual pat on the shoulder. 

   In terms of my writing aspirations, I have sought guidance and inspiration from books such as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; Escaping Into the Open by Elizabeth Berg; Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See; Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett; and A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie.  For me, writing is even more solitary than teaching.  Most times, there is no one for me to brainstorm with, and books like these give me the helping hand I need to keep going.

   As a Mommy, my preoccupations, concerns, and anxieties changed and I sought reassurance and levity from It’s a Boy edited by Andrea J. Buchanan; Momfidence by Paula Spencer; Babyhood and Familyhood by Paul Reiser; and Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott.

   And in my journey as a woman turned wife turned mother, a woman who sometimes forgets to take care of herself, I have found refuge in books such as Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love; Julie and Julia by Julie Powell; and C’est La Vie by Suzy Gershman to name just a few.

   For the duration of my pregnancy, I kept a journal.  I documented every doctor’s appointment, every change - the first time I wore maternity jeans, the night my husband and I decorated my son’s bedroom with the alphabet, the day my husband and my dad built my son’s crib.  For the first two years of my son’s life, I tried to maintain a journal documenting his growth, my return to teaching, time spent with his babysitter.  Life got busy, I became ill, and somehow or another, Ryan’s journal was put away.  

   Intermittently I have written in random journals, but life seems to get in the way of me maintaining a consistent journal.  However, it is my reading log that I have faithfully maintained.  It doesn’t report on the weather or our daily activities, but it does provide a glimpse into my life.  The books I have read and the connections I have made with the written material are my way of documenting my growth -- as a reader, and also as a wife, a mother, a teacher, a woman.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Coffee, Tea, and Me

   I’m not a coffee drinker.  My morning beverage of choice is a mug-full of apple juice, with one ice cube.  I do enjoy, however, the occasional coffee-type beverage:  cafe mocha, iced blended mocha, and hot chocolate.

   Recently, while at my local Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, I noticed the signs for the bags of coffee they sell.  And I realized, that my personality was written on those shelf tags.  I can be succinctly summed up using the same adjectives that describe international coffee beans.

  1. Light and subtle.  I am Caucasian, which means that my skin color is considered light.  Subtle, in many ways, I hope.  My sarcasm; usually just hints of exasperation will do the trick.  My fragrances; I don’t want to be leaving a trail of scent behind that makes the elevator ride uncomfortable for the following passengers.  
  2. Light and distinctive.  I do not wear dark clothes, nor do I outline my eyes with dark eyeliner.  However, I want to be distinctive; I want to stand-out and not look like everyone else walking in and out of Coffee Bean.  My jewelry, I think, achieves that goal.  Rings on eight of my ten fingers.  Earrings and necklace to match the day’s outfit.  Two bracelets, a watch, and an anklet complete the ensemble.
  3. Medium and smooth.  I am of medium height at 5’6”.  And my daily application of lotion is to try and maintain smooth skin.  I want my hands to be welcomed, as I tenderly smooth my son’s hair and kiss him good-night.
  4. Dark and distinctive.  I am not a blonde-haired, blue-eyed California girl.  I am instead a brown-hair, brown-eyed California girl.  And while my jewelry may make the top part of me distinctive, my footwear takes care of the bottom part of me.  I am a person who is almost always walking around in a pair of clogs.  And unlike other California girls, no high heels or flip flops can be found in my closet.
  5. Decaffeinated.  I pride myself on being rather level-headed, sensible, and down-to-earth.  I am not overly hyper or overly loud.  When I was teaching, I was frequently told that I had a calming way with my students.
  6. Flavored.  Anyone who peeks inside my bathroom will find a cornucopia of flavors that are used to cleanse my body.  In the shower, it’s blackberry sage tea shampoo and conditioner with a cherry blossom and wild bamboo body wash.  For my skin, it’s a vanilla brown sugar foot scrub.  And to smell subtly pleasant, it’s a red plum and freesia fragrance mist.

   There you have it.  Wendy Kennar, in a coffee bean (instead of a nutshell).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Reading the Signs

My son is a constant source of inspiration.  One of my latest essays, "Reading the Signs," has just been published at MomsLA.com.  Check it out!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thank you, Mommy

           In honor of Mother's Day, I dedicate this blog to a woman I proudly call my friend:  my mom.

   “Thanks Mom” is so inadequate.  Thanks is what I say to the person who holds the door open for me at the coffee shop.  Thanks is what I say to the supermarket cashier.  

   But you are “Mommy” - even now when I’m 37 and you’re 68, you’re still “Mommy.”  “Thanks Mom” doesn’t begin to do you justice.  You are the model for the type of mother I strive to be.

   Today, I tell you I appreciate all the home-cooked meals, and the fact that you stopped making me eat spinach when you knew I had tried it, over and over, and just really didn’t like it.

   Today, I acknowledge the rides you gave me, re-arranging your schedule so you could drive me to and from my part-time jobs, making sure I never had to take a bus home in the dark.

   Today, I recognize that you didn’t tell me I’m beautiful simply because I’m your daughter, but that you really see me that way.

   Today, I credit you for the reason I exercise such patience with my son and my students.  Seldom did you raise your voice to me.

   Today, I proclaim, with my heart full of gratitude, that I would not be the woman I am today if you weren’t, and aren’t, the kind of mother you are.

   Today, and everyday, thank you mommy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Great Minds Think Alike


                             (My mom, my son, and me) 

        Recently, after my 37th birthday, it occurred to me that I am becoming more and more like my mom.  This isn’t a bad thing.  My mom is sweet and generous, has an infectious laugh, is nurturing, and has been happily married for thirty-eight years to my dad.  There’s a lot I could learn from her.  And every year, as I’m getting a little older, I’m hopefully becoming a little more mature, a little wiser, and little more like my mom.  Here are six telltale signs I’m becoming like my mom:

  1. While driving my car, I find myself singing along to songs I know my mom must be singing along to in her car.  Songs like “Angel Baby,”  “California Girls,”  and “Lollipop.”  Somehow, I have learned all the lyrics to these songs, and find myself enjoying the offers on the Oldies station more than the songs played on the more contemporary stations.
  2. I prepare dinner in the morning.  Being a working mother, it is always easier to come home from work with dinner almost ready-to-go.  Certain dinners, are pop-them-in-the-oven variety; things like chicken nuggets or pizza.  For other meals, I find it advantageous to wake up a few minutes earlier and prepare my spaghetti in the wee morning hours.  And even though my mom isn’t working anymore and doesn’t have little children underfoot, she still prepares her dinner during her breakfast.
  3. My son began preschool this year, and each day in his lunchbox he finds a little love note.  Growing up, my mom always put notes in my lunch box.  And it didn’t stop when I became a grown-up.  When my mom would supply me with left-overs to use during my lunch hour as a teacher, I would find, nestled within the container of left-over spaghetti or teriyaki chicken a love note.
  4. My own birthday has now taken a back seat to everyone else’s birthday.  My mom always said she didn’t want a fuss for her birthday; it was more important to celebrate our birthdays.  I never understood that.  Who doesn’t want cake with candles blazing, piles of presents, a little more affection and attention?  Turns out, I don’t.  Each year, my birthday seems to fall a little lower on the priority scale while I make plans to acknowledge my husband and son’s birthday.
  5. I get a thrill, a buzz, a bit of a high from a good deal.  Both my mother and I use coupons to shop due to financial necessity.  But sometimes, there’s an unexpected bargain that comes my way and gives me a little jolt of adrenaline, just like my mom.  For instance, my husband and I planned to order coffees at our bookstore’s cafe.  Prior to ordering, I found a forgotten coupon in my purse for a buy-one-get-one special.  Two drinks, one price, makes for an unexpected surprise.  
  6. I don’t own a little black dress.  On the rare occasions my parents went out without children (usually for a work-related event) my mom always stressed about what to wear.  She didn’t own many fancy-occasion clothes, and I was sure I would be different.  Turns out, I’m not.  I don’t have a fall-back dress, and when the periodic wedding invitation arrives, it’s the same digging-through-the-closet approach I take, trying to piece together a suitable outfit without having to spend money and buy something that won’t be worn as often as a black t-shirt.

   It’s a wait-and-see type of situation to determine if I will become even more like my mom as I age.  Will I, too, someday have already completed all my day’s errands by 10:00 in the morning?  Will I be pre-occupied, worrying about my family and unable to sleep night-after-night?  Will I also own my car for twenty-two years as my mom did hers?  We’ll see.