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!