It’s All Material

Norton Simon Garden (photo by Wendy Kennar)

Sometimes something happens and I’m inspired to write.  I don’t initially react, but the event stays with me, and I react later, the best way I know how, by writing about it.  That’s what happened recently when my son and I were out and we heard a mother tell her young daughter to “shut up.”  (You can read that essay “7 Reasons Why It’s Not Okay to Tell Your Child to ‘Shut Up’” here.

Other times, I write in response to a particular call for submissions.  That’s the case with two recently published anthologies.  One of my personal essays was recently published in Tomato Slices — An Anthology of Tomato Stories, Poetry, Art, and Recipes.

And another of my personal essays was published in So Glad They Told Me: Real Women Get Real About Motherhood.

After all, that’s what happens with writers.  Nora Ephron has credited her mother as saying “‘Everything is copy; everything is material.”  I agree.


Third Grade Memories

third grade school photo (photo courtesy of Wendy Kennar)
My third grade school photo

My son started the third grade last week.  He’s a “big kid” now, taking his recess and lunch with the fourth and fifth graders.  And, for the first time, his classroom is located in the main building, on the second floor.

And, as has become my tradition, this week’s post involves memories from my third grade year.  (In case you missed it, you can read about my own second grade memories here, and my first grade memories here.)

My third grade teacher was Mrs. Chisnell.  She had orangey-red hair, was a Bruins fan, and wore sunglasses that were decorated with small sticker-letters spelling out “U-C-L-A.”  My elementary school wasn’t air conditioned at that time, except for one building.  Two rooms upstairs, two rooms downstairs, and, luckily,  Mrs. Chisnell’s room was upstairs in this special, air-conditioned building. 

I remember we had to learn multiplication that year.  There was no question about it; every student was expected to master the times-tables.

When going through my papers to find my third grade school picture, I also found a thank you note from another teacher at the school.  She thanked me for helping with the “little ones.”  Apparently, even when I was nine years old, I had the desire to help and work with children.

It makes me wonder about what path my son’s life will take.  Will the things he’s passionate about now be the things he’s passionate about in his professional life?  We’ll see.  Meanwhile, I just feel lucky to be his mom and watch him grow up.

Being a Parent and a Patient

at the beach (photo by Paul Kennar)

I’m a regular contributor at  Usually I write informational posts about places to visit and things to do with kids.  This week, in addition to my usual posts (including “20 Things to Do in Burbank With Kids” and “7 Back-to-School Scheduling Apps”), I also wrote “The 9 Similarities Shared Between My Roles as Parent and Patient.” You can read it here.

A Day at the Beach

at the beach (photo by Wendy Kennar)


“Nature is incredible.”

Those were my son’s words on Sunday.  He and I were holding hands, our bare feet in the sand, waiting for the next splash of ocean water to cover our feet.

It was our family day, and while Dockweiler State Beach isn’t Cambria (our favorite ocean-side spot), it is still a beach.  We spent a few hours at the beach, and though we had packed a Frisbee, a book, and my son’s sand toys, we didn’t use any of them.  We were content just to be there at the beach.

We heard seagulls, shrieks of others splashing in the not-very-cool water, and the sounds of the ocean.  And airplanes.  For those who aren’t familiar with the area, Dockweiler is located close to Los Angeles International Airport, so we were also serenaded by the sound of aircraft climbing higher and higher into the sky. 

Even with the noises and the crowds that descended onto the beach as the day went on, I was still able to find myself lulled into a trance-like state at times.  There is something very soothing about the ocean, about the in-and-out of the water, about the endlessness of it all. 

And after we got back home, I found myself re-visiting a piece I wrote last year for Breath and Shadow.  You can read my essay, “Seven Lessons I’m Learning From the Ocean” here.