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, August 26, 2015

2nd Grade Memories

                                                        My 2nd Grade Class Picture (This Time I Didn't Blink)

   Someone had once told me that once your child starts kindergarten, the time really flies.  I think they’re right.  Because, last week, my son started second grade.

   So in the spirit of last year’s blog where I wrote about my first grade memories (http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2014/08/first-grade-memories.html), I thought I’d share some of my second grade memories.

   My teacher was Mrs. Jones.  Her classroom was located upstairs in the main building.  I had never been upstairs before and suddenly felt very grown-up.  After all, upstairs is where the big kids had their classes!

   I remember that Mrs. Jones made me a book with a yellow construction paper cover, and she filled it with the “good” paper -- the white paper with the blue lines.  She told me to use the book for the stories I would write.  That’s my first memory of me wanting to be a writer.

   On Valentine’s Day, I watched Mrs. Jones randomly drop small cards into each student’s decorated brown paper bag.  She hadn’t filled in the “To” part on the cards.  I remember not liking the way she gave out the cards, that not having my name on it meant it didn’t show as much love.  Consequently, in all my years of teaching, I always wrote out my students’ names on their Valentine cards.  

   And, apparently I blinked on picture day.  Because on a random day, I was called to the auditorium to take a make-up picture.  I had come to school that day in pigtails and hadn’t specially picked out an outfit like I had for the original picture day.  I remember needlessly being worried that my yellow shirt wasn’t special enough. 

   And thirty years later, that’s about all I remember.  I don’t remember details about field trips or class parties or special projects; you know the kinds of things that usually stick out in a chid’s memory.  And it’ll be interesting to see what will stay in Ryan’s memory from his second grade year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Leg Drama

                                                                           Wish I was here

   Within the last week, I’ve put my body through two very different types of situations. First it was an MRI. I never considered myself claustrophobic until I had my first MRI several years ago. This year’s scan was my doctor’s attempt to get a sense of what was going on inside my leg, what exactly was causing all of the additional pain and fatigue I’ve been experiencing. 

   I feigned enthusiasm when I told my son I’d be going to this appointment.  I explained it to him as a special machine that takes a picture of the inside of my leg.  I told him that I lie down very still, and my body is pushed into this sort of tunnel.  The machine gets very loud, and while the machine is taking pictures, I have to remain very still.

   That’s basically what an MRI is.  I didn’t tell my son about the “panic button” that remained close by in case I needed to be pulled out of the tunnel.  I didn’t tell him that my legs were wrapped tightly together.  And I didn’t tell him about the shot I received that inserted some sort of contrast into my system and would provide a different set of images for my doctor to examine.

   I didn’t tell my son that I was afraid of what my doctor would fine.  And I didn’t tell Ryan that I really wasn’t sure what I was hoping for -- would finding something be better or worse than not finding anything at all? 

   The second event was a mild yoga/stretching class.  A friend of mine had attended one session and told me she really enjoyed it, had found it quite relaxing, and so I was intrigued.  I haven’t been stretching at home.  My pain level has been pretty high lately and by the time my son is in bed, I just don’t feel like getting on the floor to stretch as my physical therapist had suggested I do.

   I had never attended a yoga class before.  In my head, I heard “yoga” and envisioned stick-thin people getting themselves in and out of pretzel-like poses.  And that definitely wasn’t me.  This yoga instructor was very welcoming and very accommodating to every one’s different abilities.  The five of us were guided through different stretches and poses.  Some of the times, I was inhaling when she was telling us to exhale.  And there were a few stretches that I couldn’t do completely, but I attempted each one she guided us through. 

   This room had soft music playing and soft lighting.  It was a room designed to promote a sense of serenity.  Participants didn’t talk much (or at all, now that I think about it).  On the other hand, when I went for my MRI, it was very isolating.  My husband came with me, but while I was strapped down, I couldn’t see him.  And when I did open my eyes, there was nothing really to look at except the ceiling and the large Siemens machine (ironically named “Symphony”) that was manufactured in Germany.  

   In both cases, the end result is a hope of feeling better.  Better meaning less pain and less fatigue, more leg strength and more stamina.  And in both cases, I don’t know if I’ve found the answers.  After one yoga class, I’m not sure yet if I want to try it again.  And after the MRI’s findings, I’m now waiting to see another specialist in September. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

1st Day of School Post at MomsLA

The first day of school is next week, Tuesday, August 18th, for kids returning to school within the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Check out this post at MomsLA, where I've written 9 ways to celebrate the first day of school!


Play Date Protocol

                                                      This is what play sometimes looks like at our house

   The night before my son’s much-anticipated play date, he asked me where the name “play date” came from.  He wanted to know who had made it up. 

   My husband and I looked at each other, rather impressed that Ryan would even think of that question in the first place.

   And while we didn’t have an answer for Ryan, we also had a bit of information that made us sound quite old to our son -- when we were kids, no one even used the term “play date.”  Back when we were kids, everyone just casually said they were “going over to play at a friend’s house.”

   It seemed much more casual then.  And maybe it was.  Nowadays, parents have all these rules -- both spoken and unspoken.  For example, prior to the play date, I asked Ryan’s friend’s mom if there were any dietary restrictions for her son.  (She had said no, and the boys wound up snacking on popcorn and water.)  

   Rides home aren’t as easy now as they used to be.  Booster seats are needed, even for a three-minute car ride for boys who are seven years old.

   But, on the flip side, when parents ask their children, “How was your play date?” they don’t have to settle for a nondescript answer of, “It was fine.”  Because during Ryan’s play date, I was able to take some pictures of the boys (with their consent) and send it to Ryan’s friend’s mom.  It was an easy way for me to let her know her son was fine and having a good time. 

   And even if it’s no longer called “playing at a friend’s house,” the bottom line is that  when it was done, two boys enjoyed each other’s company, played together nicely, and my son had a good time hosting his “play date.” 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Post at MomsLA.com

It's almost that time readers -- back-to-school time!  Take a look at my post at MomsLA.com that has suggestions for helping our kids readjust to a school routine.


The Look of Love

   As a young girl, I was never a “hearts” person.  There was nothing wrong with hearts, I just preferred stars.  (I had wanted to be an astronaut, after all).  

   But, I’m not a young girl any more, and when I stop to think about it, I realize that I have more heart items than star items.

   For instance, on my desk, I have a collection of hearts.  It’s an unintentional collection that has grown over time.  By “unintentional,” I mean I didn’t plan on collecting hearts.  It just sort of happened.  Some of the hearts were gifts.  A few of the hearts, I bought for myself.  One is all that remains from a broken necklace.  Basically, they’re sparkly and pretty, and I enjoy looking at them.

   The hearts sit on my desk; the “mission control of our home,” as my husband refers to it.  My desk is where I plan menus for the week, pay bills, and write.  And I write with my heart.  With honesty, passion, integrity, and love.  

   Although lately I must admit that I haven’t been doing a very good job of loving myself.  My family?  Yes.  Myself?  Not so much.  I push myself too hard and criticize myself too much.  And so last week, I decided to carry one of the hearts in my pocket as a reminder to be more patient, more understanding, and more loving towards myself.  

   It didn’t work.  I did finger the heart throughout the day.  I rubbed the heart while my calf throbbed.  I rubbed the heart while listening to my son read a book.  But really, having that heart with me just made me feel rather anxious, afraid that the heart would somehow slip out of my pocket, and I would lose it.  So I haven’t repeated that particular experiment.

   As I’ve gotten older, and my life has changed, I suppose it makes sense that I’m now gravitating away from stars and more towards hearts.  

   A while back, I was given a copy of Drew Barrymore’s book Find It in Everything.  The book is a collection of photographs of hearts she found in daily life.  In the preface of the book, Barrymore writes about the pure essence of a heart; the fact that a heart has no negative connotations associated with it.  A heart is goodness and love.  Pure and simple.  

   She goes on to  say that a heart is powerful; “the way that one continuous line accomplishes the most extraordinary thing -- it conveys love.”