Too Many Screens

Cambria (photo by Wendy Kennar)

(My Preferred Distraction)

This week, my post is a bit of a rant or complaint.

I’m tired of screens.  I was in a doctor’s waiting room recently, trying to read my book (and yes, an actual book), trying to keep my nerves at bay.  And I was distracted.  Distracted by the office phone ringing.  Distracted by patients making their follow-up appointments and patients arriving and checking in for their appointments.  I was distracted by the pharmaceutical representative who bumped her cart into the side table near where I was sitting.

But I was most distracted by the television on the wall.  It was on.  A performance of some sort was being broadcast.  I glanced over once and saw acrobats on the screen.  Another time, a woman was singing.  But all it did was contribute noise.  Which made other people louder because they needed to speak above the sound of the television.

I sat in my chair, but what I really wanted to do was get up and turn the darn thing off.   When did it become okay for televisions (or screens of any kind) to be on all the time, everywhere?  I go to pump gas, and there’s a screen at the pump.  I’m not there to find out a basketball score or the weather or watch a commercial for a mortgage company.  I’m just there to put gas in the car. 

Seems to me there’s enough noise out there already.  And by noise, I mean audible noise and visual noise.  We’re bombarded by billboards and posters and moving images.  It’s enough.  A little bit of quiet is really okay.  Maybe I feel this way because I’m a writer, because I’m a parent, because I was a teacher. 

Or maybe, we’ve just gotten to the point where it’s too much.  Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Meet Melvin

Melvin the pumpkin (photo by Wendy Kennar)

Melvin the Pumpkin

I’m not a big fan of Halloween.

I like the tame version of Halloween — pumpkins, chocolate, and dress up. 

I don’t like the gruesome version of Halloween — the fake blood, the artificial limbs dangling from trees.

And I’ve just never understood the tradition behind children I’ve never met, ringing my doorbell, and expecting me to give them candy. 

But I put aside my feelings, because I’m a mom.  And my son does like Halloween.  He thinks it’s fun to dress up in a costume and visit our neighbors and see what treats he gets.  Most of the candy, he doesn’t even keep.  Last year, we had a big bag we donated to our local fire station.  So he’s not in it for the candy.  He’s in it for the fun.

Which can then make it fun for me.

Which is where Melvin comes in.  Melvin is the decorated pumpkin you see at the top of this post.  My son and husband created Melvin using old hardware parts that were in the toolbox.  Together, they sorted parts, made a plan, and created “Melvin.” 

My son named the pumpkin “Melvin” for no apparent reason except that he wanted to name this pumpkin Melvin.  And that’s why I like Halloween. 

I like it when I can experience it through my son’s eyes.  When I can see something anew.  And that’s really the gift that children give us — a new way of looking at things and experiencing things.

Words of Wisdom


no dream is too high (photo by Wendy Kennar)

I recently finished reading Buzz Aldrin’s book No Dream Is Too High – Life Lessons From a Man Who Walked on the Moon. I was curious to read it and learn about his insights and his ideas. 

There are some interesting behind-the-scenes information regarding the Apollo Program that I’ve never read about.  There are some interesting facts and stories about Mr. Aldrin’s life.  There are some general, common sense life lessons (such as “practice respect for all people”).  And there are these stand-outs from his book:

“When it comes to exercise, I subscribe to the Neil Armstrong philosophy. At least half seriously, Neil always said, ‘God only gave me so many heartbeats; I’m not going to waste any of them on physical exercise!’.”

“Pick an amazing dream and go for it.  Don’t merely make a living; make a life.”

“Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi, the Hungarian Nobel Prize-winning physiologist who first discovered the benefits of vitamin C, was fond of saying, ‘Discovery lies in seeing what everyone sees, but thinking what no one else has thought.’ ”

“Remember, your mind is like a parachute: If it isn’t open, it doesn’t work.”

A Young Man of Many Questions

At the Science Center (photo by Wendy Kennar)

He’s strong too! At the California Science Center, my son is lifting the truck that helped tow the space shuttle Endeavour!

Earlier this year, published one of my essays titled “7 Reasons Why My Son Is Smarter Than I Was At His Age.”  (You can read it here).

More and more, I’m convinced it’s true.  My son is smarter than I was at his age.  At eight years of age, he has such an awareness about the world around him.  I’m pretty sure I was much more self-absorbed at his age.  And he wonders about things and asks questions, that many times I don’t know the answer to.  (But due to the magic of Google, answers are never too far).

Here’s just a small sampling of what he’s asked about this past week:

“Who gets ready faster — men or women?”

“Who invented bras? And when?”

“How does wind form?”

“Did Grandma and Grandpa buy their house before or after they got married?”

I love the fact that my son asks questions.  I love that he’s curious and interested in such a wide variety of subjects.

And I love that he knows that it’s always okay to ask his questions.  Because he knows his questions will be listened to, will be considered, and will be answered (to the best of my ability).

Living My Life


mug (photo by Wendy Kennar)

I found the mug you see above at the Barnes and Noble Cafe and was immediately offended.  And I knew that this mug, innocently sitting on a shelf waiting to be purchased, would be the topic of this blog post.

“Live the life you have imagined.”


As if my life must be pre-planned, and I wasn’t allowed to deviate from my imaginary blueprint.  How limiting would that be?

It got me thinking that most of my life isn’t anything like the life I had imagined.  I had never imagined I’d be married weeks before my twenty-third birthday.  I had never imagined that I would be the mother of one child, not two.  I had never imagined that my adult home would be ten minutes away from my childhood home.  I had never imagined that by the age of 40, I would have only once traveled internationally.  And I would never have imagined that I would have retired (due to a disability) from my teaching career after twelve years.

That isn’t to say my current life is worse or better than the one I had imagined.  It’s just that when you’re young and inexperienced, your imagination starts to run wild.  I envisioned trips abroad (to visit my pen pal in Japan and to eat pasta and gelato in Italy) and a semester studying in France.  I imagined owning a house instead of being a life-long renter. 

But, you get older, and you get out into the world and start experiencing life, and realize that your imagination and your reality don’t always match up.  And you realize, that different than originally imagined isn’t bad.  Different than originally imagined can be fine.  Actually, more than fine.

Handprints of Hope


handprints (photo by Wendy Kennar)

Dear Readers,

On Sunday, published my essay “On September 11, 2001 We Made Handprints of Hope.” You can read the essay here.

I’m asking you all to please read my essay (on all your devices) and then share the link with others. Mamalode compensates writers based on the number of views a post receives. (Minimum payment requires 500 views within 30 days, but of course, the more the better).

Thank you so much for your support!



Reading Year of Yes


year of yes book (photo by Wendy Kennar)

I’ve recently started reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I’m at a slight disadvantage because I don’t watch a lot of television, so I’m not familiar with any of the shows Ms. Rhimes references.  (Though I do understand that they’re her shows).

Putting aside my television ignorance, so far, I’m right there with Ms. Rhimes.  I want to see where this year takes her.  Because there was something she wrote within the first thirty pages of her book that really spoke to me.

“Whatever that spark is that makes each one of us alive and unique … mine had gone.  Stolen like paintings on the wall.  The flickering flame responsible for lighting me up from the inside, making me glow, keeping me warm … my candle had blown out.  I was shut down.  I was tired.  I was afraid.  Small.  Quiet.”

Sometimes I fear that I will become that person — the always tired, always afraid, always quiet person.  And sometimes I fear that I have already become that person.  And that’s not the person my husband married.  That’s not the person I want my son growing up with.  And that’s not the person I want to see when I look in the mirror. 

So the reading continues.  I’ll go with Ms. Rhimes on her journey, and maybe, it’ll help me with mine.