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, September 30, 2015

Plans to Exchange Stubborness for Self-Care

                                                              Words of Advice from a Refrigerator Magnet

   Lately a bunch of words have gotten mixed-up in my head.  For instance, when I am being “stubborn” and when am I being “stupid”?  When am I in “denial” and when am I “resilient”?

   If you don’t know me all that well, you should know that I’m a pretty stubborn person.  And stubborn can be good.  It means I’m persistent; I don’t give up easily.  I’m determined.  (I mean really, how else would you explain the fact that I used to get my tush on six buses a day and commute to CSUN?)

   But sometimes that stubbornness isn’t a good thing, because I don’t know when to back-off, when to ease-up, when to admit I really can’t do something.

   Last week, I was one of three parent volunteers that walked with my son’s second grade class to the public library on their first field trip of the school year.  About once a month, my son and I walk to this same library from our home.  So I can do the walk.  But the field trip walk was further because we were starting out from school.  And the field trip  walk wouldn’t be a nice leisurely stroll like it is when my son and I go to the library together.  This walk would require me to keep an eye on a bunch of second graders.  My husband had to work, and I felt that it was left to me to step up and volunteer.  I tried to point out to Ryan that not all grown-ups can go with their children on field trips.  But Ryan asked me to, he said he really wanted me to go, and I couldn’t make myself tell him “no.”
     I signed up to volunteer.  There was a big part of me that knew I was setting myself up for more pain, more fatigue, and more discomfort.  But I was doing it in the name of a mother’s love.  Right?  

   Not exactly.  I did it because I still sort of could.  

   Right now, I’m in somewhat of a holding place.  I’m stuck in this cycle of pain while I wait for test results and wait to determine my next course of treatment.  So I wanted to join my son’s class now, in case I really can’t sometime in the future.

   I know my legs are not as strong as they once were.  And who knows how I’ll be walking in the future.  For instance, maybe someday I will need to rely on a cane.  If that’s the case, I certainly wouldn’t be able to join a walking field trip.  So I did it now while I kind of could.

   But that night at dinner, I told my son that I wouldn’t be able to walk with his class any more.  (Of course I was able to say this now.  When the next field trip rolls around, it most likely won’t be so easy for me to be absolutely certain and resolute about my decision).  

   Because this field trip did teach me a lesson.  It showed me that I need to start using words like “restraint” and “self-care” a lot more often.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Fall

   It’s the first day of fall.  Or so the calendar says.  Here in southern California, seasons aren’t as clearly defined as they are elsewhere.  It’s not uncommon for us to still be wearing short-sleeved shirts during “winter” months.

   But today it’s officially fall.  Or, “autumn” if that’s your preference.  I usually refer to this season as fall.  It’s easier to pronounce, and certainly easier to spell.

   Even if we aren’t yet finished with summer weather, I’m glad the summer season is over.  I’m glad it’s fall.  And I’ll tell you why.

     Because it is fall, there is the possibility of cooler weather.  Temperatures that require me to wear my jean jacket when I take my son to school each morning.  Theoretically our days and nights won’t be as hot as they have been.  I can start wearing long sleeves; meaning, I can finally start paying attention to the other half of my closet that hasn’t been touched in months.  My body will be more covered up than it has been so I won’t need to make sure my exposed arms and ankles (no more capris or sock-less feet for me) are safely protected with sunscreen.

   Because it’s fall, darkness sets in earlier.  I can light my candles during dinner (something I do year-round) and see them flicker and cast shadows on the wall.  Once the days become shorter, there’s the very real chance that the neighborhood kids won’t be playing outside for as long, and my family and I won’t have to endure the sounds of skateboards hitting the sidewalk.

   Because it’s fall, I can look ahead to a most enjoyable time of the year -- Thanksgiving.  A holiday that’s all about family and food and feeling grateful for what you have.  

   Because it’s fall, the stores are displaying decorative pieces in earthy tones -- browns, oranges, rusts.  It’s time for me to drape our staircase with our artificial leaf garland, and fill a vase with decorative artificial fall leaves.

   Because it’s fall, I need to appreciate this last relatively quiet bit of time before the holiday madness begins.  For our family, it’s not just December holidays; that’s just the start of it.  For us, it continues in full-force until the end of March.  (Here’s the link I wrote about our family’s “March Madness” in case you missed it.  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2015/04/march-madness.html)

   But today, it’s fall. And I’m glad.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Childhood Tradition Continues

                                                           An elementary-school-aged me riding the pony

   There’s a lot that has changed in my neighborhood from when I was a kid till now.  I grew up in this neighborhood, and in fact, only live ten minutes away from my childhood home.  But in certain ways, it feels like it’s such a different place.

   When I was a kid, the Grove didn’t even exist.  When I was a kid, the Beverly Center was not a shopping mall full of stores selling expensive fashions, but instead housed kid-friendly places like an arcade, a Warner Brothers store, a book store, a music store, and my favorite -- Natural Wonders.  

   But thankfully, some things do continue.  Some traditions live on.  There is one outing my son really does enjoy that doesn’t seem to have changed all that much since I was a kid --  riding the ponies at Griffith Park.  I used to go there with either my mom or dad.  We’d ride the little train, go on the ponies, and if I was with my dad, head over to the driving range at Griffith Park Golf Course.  

   Now, it’s me taking my son to Griffith Park.  We ride the train together.  (One time we were there so early we were the only riders, and my son was given the honor of calling out, “All Aboard!”)  

   And my son rides the ponies.  He’s recently started riding the “medium” ponies -- the ones that alternate between jogging and walking.  A few loops around, and my son is happy and content.  And so am I.  Because we can share this time together.  Because I know what it feels like to suddenly go from the confines of a car to being perched on top of a pony.  Because it’s a relatively easy, relatively inexpensive date.  (Thankfully, parking is still free).  

   And it makes me happy that something I did with my parents, I can now do with my son.

                             Ryan riding days before starting 2nd grade

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Delicious Mess

   Last week we were eating dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.  (More about that later).  While my son was devouring his pieces of garlic bread, he understandably created quite a pile of crumbs on top of the dining table.  At the end of the meal, Ryan noticed the mess he had made and apologized for it.  

   I told him it wasn’t a big deal; it wasn’t a regular mess, it was a “delicious mess.”  I told him that the mess showed he had enjoyed his dinner.

   A week later, and I’m still thinking about that one simple exchange.  I spend a lot of time and energy trying to keep many different areas of my life in control, things functioning on a schedule, in an orderly fashion.  But, I am also recognizing that there also has to be some space in there for a “delicious mess.”

   I think my son and I are rather adept at making a “delicious mess.”  We’ll paint our feet to make footprints.  We’ll take out our art supplies and create with glitter, feathers, and googly eyes.  The living room floor is a mess, but again, it’s a delicious mess showing a mother and son happily engaged with a project and with each other.

   A delicious mess is evidence of life, of actions and experiences.  Much of our days are dictated by schedules -- designated times to wake up, go to school, have dinner, go to bed.  But in between, I think I need to make some more time in my schedule for the luxury of creating a delicious mess.  (Which means I also shouldn’t be so hard on myself when my desk begins to look rather messy, filled with random piles of papers and articles.  I have to look at it as a “delicious creative mess.”)

By the way, if you’re looking for large portions of Italian food at good prices, I highly recommend Andre’s at 6332 W. 3rd Street in Los Angeles.  I’ve been going there since I was a little girl.  It’s nothing fancy inside, but the employees are friendly, the food is delicious, and once you finish your meal you’ll already be planning your next visit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Birthday Cake Post at MomsLA.com

If you're looking for some ideas for creative, not-too-difficult birthday cakes, take a look at this post I wrote for MomsLA.com.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Then and Now

   This past week, I found myself saying, “That didn’t even exist when I was seven years old.”  And that statement is rather frightening.

   Let me rewind.  My second-grade son began having regular homework assignments last week.  Along with math homework and daily reading, my son had a list of spelling words and vocabulary words to practice and learn.  When I was in second grade, my mom  helped me study by giving me practice spelling tests each day.  

   Things are different now.  My son has fifteen spelling words which are embedded within five sentences.  He has to practice spelling these dictation sentences, complete with proper capitalization, punctuation, and correct spelling of both spelling words and sight words.  So, just as my mom did, I practice these sentences with my son.  But Ryan doesn’t write them on a piece of paper; he jots them down onto his white board.  But studying doesn’t have to stop there.  For Ryan’s teacher had let all the students know that they could  also access some free online games and activities that were specifically tailored to this week’s words.

   And yes, I’m old enough to say that when I was in second grade, there was no internet.

   Additionally, on the class wish list, Ryan’s teacher asked each child to bring a USB to school so that the teacher could use it throughout the year.

   When I was in second grade, we didn’t use USBs.  In fact, I don’t even remember using a computer in second grade.  I don’t remember typing up reports until the fourth grade, and then I saved my work on a floppy disc.  

   Bob Dylan said it, and I’ll write it here -- “The times they are a-changin’.”