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 31, 2014

Let It Go

   One of my son’s favorite Christmas gifts this year was the movie Frozen.  And if you’ve watched that movie, you know the song “Let It Go.”  For me, that song took on a different meaning in the days before Christmas.

   Shortly before Christmas, I became incredibly ill (stomach-wise) after dinner one night.  My husband took off work to be home to care for me and our son.  On day one, I didn’t do much but sleep and nibble on a few crackers.  On day two, I actually got out of my pajamas, ate a couple of corn tortillas, but I still needed to rest a lot.

   It’s not easy for me to be home and not be able to actively participate in my family’s activities.  After all, I’m usually the one who goes grocery shopping, takes our son on his weekly library visits, prepares meals, and reads our son a bedtime story.  (My husband took care of all that).

   On day three, when I began to feel slightly like myself again (meaning I got dressed, was actually a bit hungry, and felt strong enough to stand) I realized that these days when I was sick shared similarities to the days when I was a teacher and called on a substitute to cover my class.

   When I was a teacher, procedures and routines were firmly in place in my classroom.  A lesson plan was prepared, and a substitute was always left with all necessary paperwork and materials.  But I was never there to see what went on.  I found out when I returned.  My students would tell me about the substitute who just gave answers to math questions, or the substitute who skipped a math lesson entirely.  

   Here at home, when I was awake, I was around to observe my “substitute.”  I can say that, like in my classroom, the routines at home are firmly in place too.  But it still wasn’t easy to lie back and let my husband step up and do things his own way.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  My son was fine, and was actually loving all his extra time with Daddy.

   I learned I had to “let it go.”  I can’t control everything, and I can’t do it all -- as much as I try.  It’s a lesson I need to carry with me into the new year.

           Wishing my readers a radiant new year.  May we enter 2015 with courage, hope, and love.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

   We do the December holidays differently in our family.  For starters, we’ve got a Christmas tree in one corner of the living room and a menorah on the dining table.  Growing up, my parents’ different religious upbringings were acknowledged by celebrating both Chanukah and Christmas, but with our own family adaptations.  We never said prayers when lighting the menorah, and we received a gift only on the first night of Chanukah.  Christmas morning, a multitude of gifts waited for us under our artificial tree.  Christmas Eve dinner was often ham and potato latkes.  

   As a parent now, I continue my parents’ traditions with some adaptations of my own.  We have a real tree each Christmas.  And this Christmas Eve, lasagna is on the menu.  

   My husband and I have tried very hard not to make the holidays all about gifts.  I think we’re doing a good job of it since last year, at the age of five, my son made his first request of Santa -- a rocket that would launch into space.  (Santa brought a bunch of surprises instead).  This year my son asked Santa for the movie Frozen, and I feel confident that Santa will recognize my son’s year-long efforts to remain on the nice list.

   When it comes to gifts for my husband and myself, we don’t exchange gifts for Chanukah, and we set a budget for Christmas gifts.  (This year it’s $50).  We share some “wish list” items with each other, and let it go from there.  For us, the gifts are a nice bonus but it’s more about us being together to celebrate and appreciate our family and home.

Wishing my readers a holiday that is merry and bright, full of love and laughter!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Princess Problem

   On Sunday, my family and I were invited to the Disney on Ice Let’s Celebrate show at the Staples Center.  My six-and-half-year-old son was over the moon.  And for me, the best part of the show was watching Ryan’s reactions.  Jaw dropped.  Eyes opened wide.  Whispers of, “wow!”  He was a joyful audience member which made the show worthwhile for me.

   I’m not a huge Disney fan, and not a huge fan of animated movies in general.  In fact, I think it is very telling of my personality that my favorite part of the show was the act that involved “brooms” reminiscent of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  The skaters were dressed as brooms and performed some clever choreography.  I was captivated.  

   But, a little while later, there was an act involving Minnie Mouse wondering how she would know when she found her prince.  Sitting through this act was a test of my patience.  Of course, no female can find a prince unless she has on the proper gown so cue the Fairy Godmother.  Then, Minnie needed advice from some other Disney princesses.  We saw Jasmine, Ariel the Little Mermaid, and Cinderella all happily gliding across the ice with their perfect Prince Charmings.

   And all I could think was -- what a crock!  2014 and we’re still telling little girls that the need to be rescued by a Prince, they need a gown to be lovely, and that all will end happily ever after.  I know, I know -- this is fiction and I’m probably over-reacting.  But still, it seems there are so many little girls (and grown women) walking around with these illusions regarding love and romance.

   From my experience, after almost sixteen years of marriage, I can say that my husband did not “rescue me” (if anything I think it’s safe to say I rescued him).  It wasn’t love at first sight for either of us (we first met back in high school when we were classmates in an English class our junior year).  And once we got together, it hasn’t been happily ever after.  In fact, there have been times when we’ve each wondered what we were doing and wondered how we had ever thought our relationship was a good idea.

   But it’s all because my husband and I came together and found our “ever after,” that we have our son.  And it’s our son who helps us keep things in perspective and constantly reminds us about what magic and love are really about.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Melodious Discord

   Do you remember that Coca-Cola television commercial featuring the song “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”?  The ad featured multicultural singers, standing on a hilltop, singing in “peaceful harmony,” and of course each one was holding a soda bottle.  Here’s the link to the video in case you want to refresh your memory:

   I’m thinking about that song because several years ago, another teacher and I chose it for our classes to sing at our school’s annual holiday show.  We were looking for a general, feel-good song that didn’t specify one winter holiday over the other.  We chose “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, a song most of our students had never heard of before.

   It’s a song I confess to having on one of my mixed-CDs I listen to in the car.  It’s a feel-good, do-good type of song, and driving around the streets of Los Angeles, music like that can only help during trying commutes.

   I’m thinking about this song now especially because it is the holiday season.  And there are so many disparities that I just can’t make any sense of.  Some people are excessively buying, spending money on gifts and extravagances.  Some people are burning down buildings and marching onto freeways.  Some people are sleeping on streets and digging through dumpsters searching for food.

   It’s all these vastly different human experiences I’m having a hard time making sense of.  And, I’ve been thinking.  Maybe we’re aiming too high.  Maybe we shouldn’t be after “perfect harmony.”  After all, I tell my son there is no such thing as perfection.  We’re all supposed to be just going through each day, trying our best.  Maybe instead of “perfect harmony,” we should be aiming for “melodious discord.”  Disagreements and differences are okay, as long as they’re kept peaceful.

   As much as I may want to, I know I can’t change the world.  But I can build a home and “furnish it with love.”  
By the way, here’s a link to the lyrics of the song and a Youtube video of a performance of the song:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pumpkins and Presents, Turkeys and Trees

   Usually, nothing Christmas-related happens in our home until after Thanksgiving.  I firmly believe that Thanksgiving, a day which is all about family and expressing gratitude, should not be disregarded or overlooked at all.  

   I have been boycotting the radio station that started playing Christmas music several weeks ago.  And our Christmas decorations are still stashed away in our upstairs closet.  

   But, this year I’ve made a few exceptions to my own rules.

   I’ve learned that the key to enjoying holiday preparations is planning early and doing early.  So this year, during my son’s week-long Thanksgiving break, we visited Santa.  It was a very mellow experience, with no crazy lines or wailing babies.  My son chatted with the jolly man, made a few gift requests, and took an adorable picture.

   Also during my son’s week-long school break, we started wrapping holiday presents.  My mom has taught me to Christmas-shop year-round.  So, while I’ve been out and about, I’ve picked up some gifts along the way, and those were the gifts we wrapped.  My six-and-a-half year old is pretty competent when it comes to wrapping presents, as long as we’re using teamwork, and I’m in no hurry to get it done.

   It’s been somewhat disconcerting for me, to have a pumpkin on our coffee table while also having a roll of snowman-themed wrapping paper propped up in the corner. 

   But now it’s December, and there’s no denying that the holiday season has arrived.  

           Cue the Christmas carols!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Remember to Stop and Smell the Roses

   I am a woman who stops and smells the roses.  Literally. 

   There’s a few things I need to explain in regards to that statement.  First off, many roses have no fragrance.  It’s a little known fact, but those oh-so-common, florist-bought red roses will be absent of scent.  However, some garden roses are much more varied in color and scent.  And whenever possible, I do stop and smell them.  The ideal rose scent is a delicious blend of sweet and subtle.

   Recently, as I was walking to the Barnes and Noble Cafe at the Grove I passed by some roses growing outside a nearby restaurant.  I leaned over and smelled a few.  (Very faint fragrance).  Next thing I know, I heard a woman’s voice saying, “Excuse me.”  I turned back expecting someone to ask me where the Apple store was.  Instead, she said, “I just love that you’re smelling the roses.  Literally.”  I thanked her and wished her a nice day.

   I didn’t smell the roses to impress anyone or garner a compliment.  I didn’t smell the roses because I thought someone was watching.  I smelled them for me, because pausing for a few seconds to smell the roses would make me happy.  

   Large portions of  my days are spent doing things for other people and/or feeling badly (physically and/or emotionally).  But I’m learning that I can do certain things to make myself happier.  When I was reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love there was a passage about happiness that I tagged with a Post-It.  

...people universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you’re fortunate enough.  But that’s not how happiness works.  Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.”
  So, just a little reminder, in the midst of chaos and pain and sadness, whenever you can, stop and smell the roses.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gems From The Journal Keeper

   This past week I read The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux.  My only regret is that it’s a library copy.  While I read, I tagged several pages with Post-Its.  These were pages that had words that I found to be especially wise or meaningful or poignant (or all three).  The library copy has been returned which means I’ll need to add this book to my wish list so I can own my copy and highlight the passages that resonated so strongly with me.

   Because I am still thinking of Phyllis Theroux’s beautiful writing, I’d like to share some of these eloquent statements with you.  I hope you may find one (or more) that speak to you as well.

Being a writer does not have the global reach of a canonized saint, but, at its best, writing is a deeply spiritual act that can have a profound effect upon the practitioner.  

There are times when you must treat yourself like a child, with tenderness and belief and encouragement.

What keeps you from being fully alive is what you are most afraid to go through.  - Lawrence McCafferty

If you don’t consider your life a pilgrimage, it gets downgraded to a trip or even an aimless journey.  It is we who make that decision.

But it suddenly struck me that true enlightenment consists in being empty, not full, of answers, that people who are full of answers must drag them around all day like an overpacked suitcase, with no room for anything new.

The effort it takes to stretch either the mind or the body is so easy to avoid. 

   Isn’t it wonderful when a book touches you and stays with you long after you’ve read the last page?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Passionate for Paris

   Technically, I live in Los Angeles.  But my dad used to tell me that when asked, I should always say I live in Hollywood.  Hollywood was famous, after all.  People know of Hollywood.  And while most days, I can see the Hollywood sign fairly easily, Hollywood isn’t my community.

   With the emergence of The Grove, a major shopping center, I can tell people I live near The Grove and that immediately narrows down the large umbrella of “Los Angeles.”  And The Grove is my neighborhood.  Across the street, is a small Italian restaurant where I have eaten since I was a young girl.  A few blocks from The Grove is my son’s elementary school.  For me, this neighborhood is home.  

   And for others, my neighborhood is their vacation destination.  For each day, I see tour buses taking visitors to The Grove and The Original Farmers Market.  

   And while it’s an international tourist destination, Los Angeles is not an incredibly beautiful city.  At least, not beautiful the way Paris is.  Granted, I’ve only traveled to Paris once and that was in 2005.  But still, there’s no denying Paris was then (and I believe is now) a city of beauty.  Historic buildings that have stories to tell.  An abundance of parks.  Open grace spaces and gardens.  Bookstores on every block.

   Paris is a city that has fascinated me since elementary school.  And even now, at the age of thirty-eight, I have multiple items in my home that are adorned with a representation of the Eiffel Tower.  A keychain, notepads, a shower curtain.    

   And I wonder.  Is there a woman somewhere on another continent who writes in a journal with a picture of the Hollywood sign on the front cover?  In a country whose currency isn’t dollar bills, is there a woman who sits at a desk with a mini-statue of the Farmers Market’s clock tower?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Heart of Our Home

   It started with a red teapot.  After the teapot, it was a floor mat placed near the sink.  Little by little the red accessories increased, and now, more than ten years later, I have a red-themed kitchen.

   Our latest addition was a red microwave.  Our previous microwave was purchased more than sixteen years ago.  Once it was no longer working properly, we went shopping for a new one.  And, of course, it was the red one that found its way into our home.

   In a certain sense, a kitchen serves as the heart of a family’s home.  So it seems quite logical to me that our kitchen would be red; the color associated with hearts.  (Coincidentally, red is also our son’s favorite color).  It is the place where you prepare food that will sustain your loved ones.  The place with the essentials -- water, milk, bread.  The place with the celebratory -- birthday meals and cakes.  The place where you fuel up and pack up before leaving the sanctuary of home -- daily breakfasts and lunch boxes.  

   Red is a color that has many emotions attached to it.  Red is the color of love and passion.  Anger and heat.  Happiness and festivity.  And a family’s life goes through all of those emotions.  

   So it is here, surrounded by my red cooking utensils, my red pots, and my red vases that I strive to meet my family’s nourishment needs.  


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Book-a-Week Challenge

   I’m currently enrolled in an eight-week writing course through UCLA Extension.  It’s a course offered by an instructor I really like; the same woman who ran the writing retreat I attended back in May.  (Here’s the link to the blog I wrote about it:  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/05/writing-driving-and-metaphor-for-life.html).  It’s a course I’ve wanted to take for some time, but because it’s offered on Tuesdays from 10 am to 1 pm, teaching had always prohibited my participation.  

   There is something so energizing about being surrounded by other writers.  Generally I write by myself -- either at home or at one of my favorite local haunts.  (And really, I write outside my home just so I’m not distracted by things to do at home.)  Being in a class setting, however, provides an energy and support system that isn’t entirely there when you take an online course (which is what I would periodically do while I was teaching).

   Each week, we’ve got writing assignments to complete and each day, we’re supposed to be writing in a daily journal.  I haven’t kept a daily journal for many years, but dutifully started one after our first class meeting.  And, each week, we’re supposed to read a book (either a collection of essays or a memoir).  

   That last requirement is the most difficult one for me.  I’m not taking this class for a grade or to earn units that can be converted to salary points.  I’m taking this class for personal fulfillment.  And even though I wouldn’t be punished for not completing my homework, I want to be honest and respectful to my instructor, a woman I really like and whose writing insights I value.  So, I’m trudging away, trying to read my one book a week.

Week 1 -- Delia Ephron’s Sister Mother Husband Dog (Etc.)
Week 2 -- Sara Nelson’s So Many Books, So Little Time
Week 3 -- Ann Patchett’s This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

   I enjoy reading.  I’m constantly reading, often more than one book at a time.  And I don’t just limit myself to books.  I’m also reading magazines and the Sunday Times (Here’s the link to the blog I wrote about reading the Sunday L.A. Times:  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-sunday-chore.html).  So there’s a lot of reading to do and a short amount of time in which to get it done.

   Furthermore, there’s two different ways to read.  I can read as a reader and get lost in the story that the author is telling me.  I can lose track of time, block out my surroundings, and escape into the book.  And, I can read as a writer.  I can read while examining the story in hopes of understanding the author’s craft and method.  I can notice the way the author introduces her subject, the way the author concludes the essay.  I am reading in hopes of gaining insight and information I can apply to my own writing.

   As an added bonus, this book-a-week-deadline means I should have no problem meeting my Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stressed or Desserts? It's All About Perspective

   A “palindrome” is a number or word that reads the same way frontwards and backwards.  I used to teach my kindergarten students about it when we were counting the days of school and writing our 100 Chart.  We’d circle our palindromes (11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99) with a purple marker, and soon they began to notice that these numbers were forming on a diagonal line across our chart.

   With my upper-grade students it was fun to point out words that were palindromes.  Common examples are “mom,” “dad,” and “wow.”  Longer words like “race car” and “kayak” were clever examples that captured the attention of my ten-year-old students.

   Because I am a writer and constantly thinking about words, I’ve been considering “anadromes” -- words that read differently when read backwards.  “War” is “raw.”  “Lived” is “devil.”  “Evil” is “live.”  “Stressed” is “desserts.”  And I wonder if, for these words, being an anadrome is more than just a coincidence.

   War is raw, after all.  The violence, the savagery, the fight for survival.  It is the epitome of rawness.  In my opinion, to have fully lived, most likely means you have either lived devil-like (in some way) or interacted with someone who has seemed devilish.  Similarly, to witness evil and/or to behave in an evil manner, is to live.  It is a part of life.  And then there is the feeling of being stressed. Most of us tend to crave sweet and decadent desserts during times of great stress.

   I think this coexistence of words is a reminder.  You can’t have, and can’t fully appreciate, good without bad.  Right without wrong.  Happy without sad.  

   It’s easy, though, to get caught up in just one perspective of a situation.  Evil does exist, people do get stressed.  

   The point is to remember that the tides will turn. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Favorite Road Trip

Dear Readers,

What's your favorite road trip?  AAA asked readers of its Westways Magazine that question.  You can read my response (as well as many others) on their website.  Here's the link:


Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Grey Wolfe Storybook

Dear Readers:

The holiday season is fast approaching, so let me make a suggestion.  The Grey Wolfe Storybook is a new anthology that celebrates childhood.  I am pleased to say that it includes my "A to Z List of Childhood Memories" is included along with a wide range of other stories and essays.  Additionally, proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit special needs children living in Michigan.

Here's the Amazon link:


As always thank you for reading,

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Sunday Chore

               We get the Los Angeles Times delivered once a week, on Sunday.  Back when I was teaching, it was not uncommon for me to take almost a week to read the sections I wanted to read.  Now, without a full-time out-of-the-house job, I can get the paper read within a few days.

   I know I can read the paper online, catch up on the latest news with clicks and swipes.  But I’m old-fashioned in many ways and prefer holding a newspaper in my hand, hearing the rustling and crinkling as I turn to the next page, and getting my fingertips smudged from the black ink.

   We began subscribing to the Sunday Times for one reason -- the coupons.  I wanted, and needed, to browse through the coupons finding ways to shave off 50 cents from the price of toilet paper or toothpaste.  And now, years later, my favorite section of the paper is still the coupons and sale papers (the circulars for stores like Target and Kmart).

   As a young girl, I loved reading the Travel section, saving articles about locales that intrigued me, ripping out ads for flights to Paris.  Now, most of the Travel section seems unrelated to me.  I’m not getting on an airplane any time soon, which rules out quite a few destinations.  And many of the drivable destinations written about include information about hotels and/or restaurants far out of our price range.

   When I retrieve the paper from our front step, I separate it into three piles:  the headed-straight-for-recycling pile (business, real estate, ads for stores we don’t shop at), my husband’s pile (Sports, Comics, the Best Buy ad), and my pile (everything else).

   Lately though, I have come to regard my to-be-read pile as another Sunday chore I need to get through.  So like other chores, I get through the worst of it first.  Meaning I read the main section and the California section.  Most of the articles are about war, destruction, death, poverty.  In other words -- the worst examples of our human race.

   After that I can go on to lighter reads such as the Travel section, the Calendar, and the Arts and Books.  (My husband gets the Calendar and Arts and Books after I’m done with them).  Sometimes I’m tempted to skip most of the paper all together.  There are far too many books I want to read, and while I read every day, I never feel as if I have enough time or energy to read as much as I’d like.  I do still continue to read the Sunday paper though, because in all honesty, I’m not always as up-to-date on current news as maybe I should be.  I don’t begin or end my day with the news, by choice.  Again, I don’t want more information (accompanied with images and sounds) reminding me that humans are the only species that kill themselves. 

   In the meantime, the paper will continue to be delivered once a week.  And since it’s there, I will most likely continue reading it.  And like other chores, I may not enjoy the entire process, I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve done it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I'm a Finalist!!

Dear Readers,

It makes me very proud to share some news with you.  My personal essay, "Abled," has been selected as a non-fiction finalist for the creative writing contest in the Pen 2 Paper Creative Writing Contest.  Winners will be announced during the week of November 3rd.

Here's the link to the website, where you may read my essay (and the other finalists too).


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One Step at a Time

   The trash can next to my desk shows some famous sites of Paris -- the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe.  My son has asked me about them, and I’ve identified them for him.  I’ve told him how we rode an elevator up to the second level of the Eiffel Tower.  And I told him that his Daddy and I actually walked up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.  

   That was during the spring of 2005.  On one of our overly-filled days, we explored the Louvre, strolled down the Champs-Elysees, and arrived at the Arc de Triomphe.  Truthfully, we didn’t plan on climbing to the top.  We thought there was an elevator that would take us to the top for our panoramic view.  We were wrong.  

                               Before the climb                                

   I found the journal I kept during that trip and re-read what I wrote regarding that particular adventure:

   We stood across the street from the Arc, under it, admiring the details.  Saw flowers and the flame burning for the Unknown Soldier.  We decided we wanted to go to the top.  Little did we know that meant climbing more than 200 stairs up a circular staircase and then those same 200+ stairs back down.  I was huffing and puffing and had to use my inhaler.  

   The view was incredible.

   Re-reading that passage serves as a good reminder to me.  Certain things are just plain difficult, and exhausting, and challenging regardless of my current medical condition.  And certain things are absolutely worth the pain and fatigue that occur afterwards.

                                After the climb

   We were thoroughly exhausted afterwards, but we did it.  And the next time I’m in Paris, I’d do it again.  Opportunities to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe don’t present themselves every day.  And life is all about recognizing those opportunities and seizing them.  

   Although, if there’s an elevator available, you’ll find me on it.  After all, the view at the top will be the same regardless of how I arrived there.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reasons to Celebrate

   My son just turned 6 1/2 years old.  Remember when that “half” was of the utmost importance?  Remember grimacing with displeasure when a parent had the audacity to describe you as six when you were really six-and-a-half?  That half made a big difference.  

   There are some people who think that only the “big” birthdays and anniversaries deserve big celebrations.  And by “big,” I mean “milestone” occasions that end with a five (twenty-fifth wedding anniversary) or a zero (thirtieth birthday).  I’m not one of those people.  For the first few years of Ryan’s life, we took his picture each month on the 30th (he was born on March 30th).  In that early period of his life, it seemed that he was always growing, always changing, and I wanted to document those monthly changes.  And personally, I don’t think turning thirty-eight was any less special than turning thirty.  If anything, I have even more appreciation for my many blessings and more reasons to celebrate. 

   Likewise, I don’t think wedding anniversaries don’t need to be celebrated only once a year.  My husband and I have a tradition of exchanging a card each month on the 14th (we were wed on February 14th).  

   These last few years have shown me first-hand how unpredictable life is.  In hindsight, I think I spent too much time taking my life for granted.  I was busy planning, checking things off my to-do lists, taking care of everyone around me (but me).  So now I think it’s time to celebrate each day in some way, and certainly my son’s half-year birthday is one of those days.

   No, we didn’t have a cake and a multitude of presents that will certainly accompany my son’s seventh birthday.  But, there was a special note in my son’s lunch box and a surprise present waiting for him after school.  After all, celebrations don’t need to be extravagant and lavish.  They just need to be sincere.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm Thinking Of ...

   My son, husband, and I often play a guessing game.  It’s a great way to pass the time when we’re out at a restaurant waiting for our food.  It requires no batteries, no extra parts; just the three of us, thinking and talking.  

   We give each other riddles.  I’m thinking of an animal that can swim in the water and hop around on land.  When it’s younger it has a tail.  It has a long tongue.  (A frog).

   Recently, I adapted the game so it became a biography version.  I’m thinking of a man who has a very important job.  He is also a husband and a daddy to two daughters.  He’s lived in many places including Hawaii and Indonesia, but now he lives in Washington D.C.  (President Obama)

   The biographies version was new which meant that my son wanted to keep playing it.  Over and over.  The longer we played, the more I had to really think about who I could translate into clues.  I thought of people my son has learned about in school (Andy Warhol, Rosa Parks), and people he’s learned about at home (van Gogh, Monet, Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Michael Jordan).  And I noticed that almost all my clues began with “I’m thinking of a man.”  

   Because I’ve taught for twelve years, I had plenty of women I could have described; after all, I used to make my upper-grade students complete a Women’s History Month Project each March.  But my son is in first grade, and school hasn’t exposed him to many  influential women.  (Yet).

   And that’s when I felt like I had shortchanged my son.  Have I somehow dropped the ball by not exposing my son to more women?  Is it my fault or am I being too hard on myself (something I am apt to do)?  I thought about what we’ve introduced him to, what’s in our home.  There are the Baby Monet and Baby van Gogh DVDs from the Little Einstein Company that first got my son interested in the work of those great artists.  And truthfully certain figures, such as Dr. Seuss and Michael Jordan, are incomparable.

   On the other hand, I never did go through our home and count the number of male artists that are represented by the pieces hanging on our walls, and I’ve never tallied up how many female authors have written the books that are on my son’s bookcases.  So while there’s a part of me that doesn’t feel it’s overly important (he is only six after all), I do want my son to understand that men and women, of all different backgrounds, are capable of, and have produced, some fantastic work. 

   And someday, he’ll be one of them!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Monica-esque Ways

   Friends went off the air ten years ago.  (Gasp - has it been that long already?)  Yet I still refer to it, often.  And it occurs to me that I have my own peculiar “Monica Geller-like” qualities.

   Remember Monica?  She was the “neat freak,” the “compulsive cleaner,” the one who categorized her towels.  And while I don’t think I’m compulsive, I do think I’ve got my own unique set of cleaning quirks.  And I really don’t know if they make me any neater, or our house any cleaner.  I do know that while I am a fan of short-cuts and tricks that make life easier, I can’t seem to let go of these unusual habits of mine.  I know they make more work for me, and yet I am compelled to continue doing them.

   Here it is -- I need to rotate things.  Things as in -- Shirts.  Underwear.  Plates.  Dishtowels.  Linen napkins.  Bed sheets.  Flatware.

   Let me explain.  Freshly laundered shirts and underwear are folded but not automatically placed in my son’s dresser.  Instead, they are each placed at the bottom of their respective piles -- underneath the shirts and underwear that have yet to be worn.

   Dishes and flatware out of the dishwasher are not just put back in the kitchen cabinet and drawer.  Instead, the clean plates come out, the freshly washed plates are placed in the cabinet, and the as-yet-unused plates are now at the top of the pile and will be first used during our next meal.

   And on it goes.  Same steps, same process for the towels, sheets, and napkins.

   On the one hand, I think my rotations make sense.  Rotating items means I’m not over-using any one item.  But because I’m a thinker, I wonder if there’s some sort of deeper psychological motive behind my need to rotate objects.

   I am a middle-child after all, a fact that can be “blamed” for my need to please, to be diplomatic, and easy-going.

   Maybe it’s because I was a public school teacher for twelve years and spent considerable effort making sure all my students were treated fairly and were given the same opportunities to read aloud, come to the board, and be an office helper.

   Whatever the underlying reason, it’s “how” I do things.  Maybe the “why” isn’t important.  After all, Monica didn’t run around that expansive apartment of hers justifying all her cleaning habits.