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 29, 2015

Back-to-School Clothes Shopping

It's that time of year, and if you're wondering where to buy your child clothes and shoes for a new school year, check out this post at MomsLA.com.


I Know It Could Be Worse, But Still ...

   I’ve got an autoimmune disease.  But, life could be worse.  Much worse.  In the year and four months it took to get a diagnosis, I saw a series of doctors:  a neurologist, a rheumatologist, a geneticist, an ophthalmologist, a vascular surgeon.  I endured a multitude of lab tests, ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs, and CT Scans, while doctors tried to determine what was wrong with me.  One doctor went so far to tell me that all my test results showed something was not quite right but she just wasn’t sure what it was; the results weren’t “wrong enough.”  I was told I could be suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer, leukemia.  

   My current doctor (the only one who could finally figure out my medical mystery) scheduled my appointment for one morning before school.  I figured that whatever he had to tell me couldn’t be too awful if he was planning on telling me less than an hour before I had to go teach fourth grade.  So when he told me I suffered from an autoimmune disease, I breathed a sigh of relief.  It wasn’t fatal.  I was going to be around to watch my son grow up. (At the time of my diagnosis, Ryan was 3 1/2 years old). 

   At first, I thought having this disorder would simply be something I’d learn to live with, much like my asthma. How wrong I was.  Less than two years after I was diagnosed, I had to give up teaching.  Two years after I left my classroom, I’m not quite as upset about not teaching.  In a way, I am still teaching.  I’m teaching Ryan.  I’m helping him write a letter to President Obama.  I’m watching caterpillars evolve into butterflies.  And I’m teaching him without having to worry about report cards, cumulative records, and Tuesday professional developments.

   But these last few weeks have been really hard for me.  Relatively simple, ordinary activities have been increasingly difficult for me.  My weekly trip to Ralphs has caused me a great deal of pain.  I had to move a few of my mixing bowls because standing on my tip-toes to reach them from a high shelf was proving to be too difficult for me.  And our yearly family trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific left me fatigued and in pain. 

   I’m increasingly worried about the regular things that I fear may be taken from me, that there is no real substitute for.  I may not be able to teach any more, but I can volunteer in Ryan’s classroom.  I can help him with his homework and grab a book I have from the closet to help reinforce a specific concept.  

   Because even though I still “can” go to the Aquarium, this year it wasn’t as pleasurable for me.  I bit my lip, trying to contain my discomfort, not wanting to put a damper on my family’s spirits as Ryan touched a stingray and a shark for the first time.  But if I can’t go to the Aquarium (like I have every year since the day in 2007when I found out I was pregnant), there’s no way for me to settle for something else.

   I have this internal struggle with myself because I feel as if I don’t have the right to complain about my pain, my discomfort, my frustrations.  Things could be worse.  In fact, things are much worse for many people.  

   Several weeks ago, I wrote about a sentence I had read in Chronic Resilience, one of the books I’m currently reading.  (Here’s the link in case you missed it:  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2015/07/hoping-to-become-more-kick-ass-me.html)

   But the truth is, instead of feeling more “kick ass,” I’m feeling as if I’m getting my ass kicked.  Day after day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Birthday Party Post at MomsLA.com

If you're looking for inspiration for a child's birthday party, check out my latest post at MomsLA.com.  You'll find suggestions for book-themed birthday parties!  Here's the link:


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dive In Essay at Mamalode.com

Dear Readers,

I’m so happy to let you know that Mamalode.com has published another one of my personal essays.  This month’s theme is “Dive In.”  I hope you’ll take a look at my personal essay, “A Life of Passion” and remember to pass along the link to others.  As a reminder, this site pays based on the number of unique views my post attracts.  So please click on the link, read the essay, and share it with others.  And ask them to do the same.  The goal is at least 500 views in 30 days.

With much appreciation,


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

MomsLA Post: Apps and Websites

Dear Readers, If you're a parent, take a look at this post at MomsLA.com.  I've compiled a list of 10 apps and websites that will make things easier for the new school year ahead.

Here's the link:  http://momsla.com/10-apps-websites-parents-need-new-school-year/

Doing It Right

   If you regularly read my blog, you know that I’m not a Facebook person.  (In fact, RoleReboot.org published one of my personal essays about that very phenomenon.  Here’s the link, in case you missed it:  http://www.rolereboot.org/life/details/2015-06-why-im-not-on-facebook/)  Which means I’m not regularly posting photos of my son, accompanied with cute little captions or anecdotes.   

   And, most parents, I think, tend to second-guess themselves, wondering if they’re “doing it right.”  And by “it,” I mean parenting.  Recently, my son showed me that my husband and I are, in fact, doing it really right.  

   Allow me to boast:

  • Last week, my son and I went on a date to the Page Museum, a place we’ve visited many times since Ryan was a baby.  On this trip, though, Ryan bought himself a souvenir with his own money.  And outside, as we marveled at the statues of mammoths seemingly trapped in tar, Ryan’s gaze fell on the “Banjo Man.”  (That’s our name for the gentleman who regularly stands outside the Page Museum, singing and playing instruments for those passing by.)  Ryan saw the open box and asked what it was for.  I told him it was where people could give the Banjo Man money, as a way of saying “thank you” and showing that they enjoyed his music.  And my son opened up his Elmo wallet, took out a dollar bill, and placed it in the Banjo Man’s box.
  • At our weekly shopping trip to the supermarket, my son and I were about to buy apple juice.  My son led the way, and called out the prices for different brands.  He compared a few, and then correctly identified the one that was cheapest, and thus, the one we would buy.
  • At that same trip to the supermarket, my son walked by a man who was intently looking at laundry detergent.  My seven-year-old son said “excuse me” as he passed in front of the man.  The man smiled at Ryan and at me.

And now, the best for last:

  • The other night, my son and I were having dinner.  We ate and talked about our day.  It was a comfortable, relaxed dinner.  And then my son turned to me and said, “I love you Mommy.”  At that moment, nothing else in the world mattered.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Keys to My Heart

   If you ever saw the movie You’ve Got Mail, you may remember Meg Ryan’s character describing herself as someone who thinks about a past conversation, trying to figure out what she should have said in the moment.  That’s me.

   Here’s the latest example.

   My son and I went to our local CVS to pick up one of my prescriptions.  The pharmacist scanned the CVS card on my keychain and noticed Ryan’s picture dangling from my keys.  (Call me old-fashioned, but I still carry around a fairly large keyring that includes a hanging plastic frame where I proudly display Ryan’s pictures.)  

   The pharmacist commented on Ryan’s school picture and saw the picture of him and me that’s on the other side.  And then she asked me why I didn’t have a picture of my husband in that frame.  She wondered how my husband felt about the fact that only pictures of my son were on display.

   I was unprepared for the comment, and really didn’t know how to respond.  It had never occurred to me before.  After all, before Ryan’s birth, I never walked around with Paul’s picture dangling from my keys.  

   I love my husband and I love my son, but the love I feel for each of them is different, and so perhaps I sometimes show that love differently.  It feels like each day my son is growing and changing.  I’m proud of this big boy my baby boy has grown into.  I proudly walk around with his photo, eager to show it to anyone who may be interested.  My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t look all that different from the man I married sixteen years ago.  I wear his love on my finger and in our shared last name.  

   It wasn’t a long exchange, but it’s one that has stayed with me.  One more example, I suppose, of people sharing their comments and observations about things that don’t really concern them at all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sports-Themed Birthday Parties Post at MomsLA

Hi Readers,

Just thought I'd let you know that MomsLA.com has published another one of my pieces. This one is about hosting a sports-themed birthday party.

Here's the link:


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

First Birthday Post at MomsLA.com

Dear Readers:

If you or someone you know are planning a first-birthday celebration, take a look at this list of 8 creative ideas I wrote for MomsLA.com.


As always, thanks for reading,

Hoping to Become a More Kick-Ass Me

“Illness can be an invitation to become a deeper, 
stronger, wiser, more kick-ass you.”
- From Chronic Resilience by Danea Horn

   I’m re-reading Danea Horn’s book because I need help in making it through my days. 

   We recently took our summer trip.  Three days and two nights in Santa Barbara.  And we explored the Santa Barbara Zoo for the first time.  I had been told that the Zoo was beautiful, reminiscent of a large park that just also happened to include wild animals.  And it was. 

   But even though it was smaller than our L.A. Zoo, I still struggled.  There were still many inclines for me to climb.  Lines for me to stand in (we waited in line for thirty minutes for Ryan’s turn to feed Michael the giraffe.)  And our time at the zoo wore me out. 

   We got back to our hotel, and I plopped onto the couch.  And even though my pedometer didn’t register an obscene amount of steps, a day at the zoo just isn’t something I can comfortably do any more.  I’m forced to admit that my legs just aren’t as strong as they once were.  I asked Ryan how his seven-year-old legs felt.  He was only mildly tired.  It was only Mommy, with her “boo-boo leg,” that was suffering. 

   And after getting wiped out from our day at the zoo, my mind went on fast-forward wondering how I will handle future “big” trips?  We talk of someday returning to Hawaii (we were there for our honeymoon in 1999) and Paris (we were there in 2005).  How will I manage on those trips?  And it’s those thoughts that wear me out and wear me down.

   I’ve had difficulties and challenges before.  I used to rely on public transportation.  I used to take six buses a day to get me back and forth to Cal State Northridge so I could earn my Bachelor’s degree.  But I knew I wouldn’t always be enduring that commute.

   I was pregnant.  I handled my contractions and experienced the pains of childbirth (without anesthesia).  But I also knew there was an end in sight.  I knew there was a final outcome I was working toward.  I knew I would be rewarded with the birth of my son.

   With this autoimmune disease, I don’t know when, or if, it will end.  I don’t know what the final outcome will be.  But I like Danea Horn’s words, that this illness will somehow serve as an opportunity for me to become a “deeper, stronger, wiser, more kick-ass” me.  I don’t know how it will happen.  But I like the idea of it happening, and for now that’s enough.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Proud to be a Book-Buying Family

                                                                      one of Ryan's bookcases

   I’m lucky.  I can take my son to Target and he doesn’t ask to look in the toy department.  He walks right by it as we head to another section of the store.  We’ve been to Legoland once and Disneyland once.  And at each amusement park, we were probably one of the only families that didn’t head to any of the gift shops.  Ryan walked right by them, and we were fine with that.  

   One of his favorite things to shop for is books.  And me, being a former teacher, has  a hard time saying no.  On our last trip to our local Barnes and Noble, Ryan selected four books for us to read in one of our favorite quiet corners.  And then he asked me to buy all four books.  I took out the calculator and we figured out those books would cost $51.  So we compromised.  We bought 2 books there, and came home to comparison shop on Amazon.  But instead of buying those other 2 books, Ryan found 4 additional books he wanted.  (In all fairness, I found  a book too).  We ordered our 5 books for $48.  

   And I’m really okay with spending money on books.  We’ve been reading to Ryan since I first learned I was pregnant.  I’m a big believer in surrounding children with books, and I can proudly say that I am raising a boy who loves to read! 

   Now that Ryan is seven, he can help weed through his current book shelves to determine if there are any books he no longer wants and/or has outgrown.  The way I see it, it’s a win-win situation.  Ryan continues to love to read.  And when he finds books he no longer wants, we donate them.  I like knowing that we’re helping put books in other children’s hands.

   By the way, we’ve been making all our hand-me-down donations to an organization called “Baby to Baby.”  Here’s the link:  http://baby2baby.org/donate
Check them out next time you have a clean-up session at home.  (They accept items for children up at age 12).