Happy Mothering Day…


…is fundamental to all beings.

…involves nurturing and raising children.

…extends far beyond biology and bodies.

…is the act and practice of love and the passing on of knowledge.

…occurs across multiple times and spaces

…is political.

…is life.

“Mothering is not limited to relationships between a female parent and her biological offspring. Mothering, as a relationship and practice, is a social and cultural act that occurs between multiple configurations of people of many generations – individually and communally. This is something Indigenous peoples have always known, celebrating extended families and lauding the wisdom of matriarchs as it applied and was transmitted to all the younger generations of a community. Mothering, understood in this way as a complex web of relational practices, was and is fundamental to life. This is perhaps also why mothering has often been so threatened while simultaneously holding the potential for (re)building the inherent strengths in our communities.

Aboriginal mothering is recognized as extending beyond the biological act of giving birth and involving a multitude of roles and relationships across times, spaces and generations. Strength to move forward as healthy individuals, families and communities is inextricably linked to Aboriginal women, mothers, grandmothers and aunties….”

The Sacred Space of Womanhood- A National Showcase on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Women and Mothering

©2012 National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health

©2016 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved




Bling Glam Bloom…….

Alice’s dance to the prom was strewn with dresses, gloves, nail polish, Goldilocks curls, hair accessories and wrist corsages.  MomJami and her cousins glammed* Alice up and took some cool pics.

 Alice has done a really good job at school this year.  She took her family’s 175 mile move from one town to another with as much grace and dignity a 16 year old can muster. Alice has faithfully attended school and made new friends. She attends church and participates in her youth group.

I am so proud of my granddaughter and the choices she is making.  Isn’t she beautiful?

*I really like this new phrase “glammed up”. I am pretty sure an English grammar teacher is somewhere having a fit. Today I do not care. This phrase really conveys the message. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=glammed+up

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Navigational Pull……

We were the grandparents in charge Saturday night. Sam’s parents went out to a friend’s birthday party. Staying over for Easter festivities was an added benefit. According to his mother’s video, Sam had a great time coloring eggs before we arrived. Seven eggs survived the drop into the dye and were waiting for the Easter bunny to hide.

After the obligatory crying jag at the door following his parents departure. Sam settled down to play with his Baby Einstein music square and help me polish the silver tea service. Around 8:00 he was tired and led me into the bedroom where he was asleep in the middle of the second song he likes me to sing. When I came back to the living room, Mike looked up, smiled and said, this was a really easy gig.

I nodded and mentioned easy was good. The past year has been dramatic enough. What with my early retirement, Mike’s unemployment, new job and being unemployed again, my new business ventures, mortgage loan modification, trees down during last summer’s storm, budgeting with the Peter ‘n Paul school of personal finance, everyday has been harder than life ought to be at our age. We have found a contentment and peace in life’s small pleasures and are learning “old dogs” still have new tricks to learn.

Sam picked up the ‘finding eggs and putting them in the basket’ skill pretty quick. He appreciates the little things in life. We enjoyed our Easter Sunday with Sam, his parents and our son-in-law’s family. There was good food, conversation and babies to watch… a very good holiday.

On the way home this afternoon we drove down Lake Shore Drive. Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline never fails to thrill and inspire me. The grandeur of the skyscraping buildings are awe –inspiring and satisfy an inner need to know we humans are capable of achieving greatness. We followed the detour signs to I-290. This route took us on Wacker Drive, across Michigan Ave., where I always pause to think about Fort Dearborn wilderness growing into a vibrant metropolis. Mike wanted to know where the Trump building was and mentioned his desire to take a boat ride on the Chicago River.

As we wound around through downtown and eventually found our way to I-290, we acknowledged detours, gave us the opportunity to see things we have not seen before, provide us with new knowledge as we make our way forward and show us there is more than one way to reach our destination. Good information to know as we follow the navigational pullls our lives take.

Easter greetings from the lily pad float, where we float with our navigational pulls ………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Welcome to the world, baby girl……………

Eighteen years ago today, Kyra Rose appeared in the early morning hours at Stormont-Vail Hospital, Topeka, Kansas.  The years have slipped by somehow and now we are celebrating her entry into legal adulthood. She can vote, sign her own paperwork and join the military. The most important legal advice I have is to remember ignorance of federal, state and local laws is not a defense in a court of law. Rules of engagement for a productive adult we all want to be around are the rules of civility, etiquette, fairplay and commonsense.

Some of my personal favorites:

Please, thank you and your welcome are always appropriate.

Listen to your elders, including your parents. Their opinion might make your list of viable options.

Think global, act local.

Respect the environment.

Continuing education is never wasted.

Bosses are always correct, not always right, just correct.

Think before you act.

Be the change you want to see.

Doing the same thing over and over will get the same results. If you want different results, change it up a little or a lot.

Fake it till you make it.

Love your Grandma.

Friends are important; siblings are forever.

Sometimes being good enough is all we get.

Remember when you were 17, waiting for this big day. When I was 18, I could still buy 3.2 beer. A friend and I bought a Coors six-pack at the Kwik Shop on the corner of Chester and Sardou in my Oakland neighborhood. I choked down half a can and ended up pouring the rest out on the dirt road where we went to drink our no longer clandestine beverage. One of life’s little lessons: pre-purchase taste testing is a good thing. My Uncle Ed might have given me a taste of beer if I had only stopped by his house earlier in the day.

The day Kyra was born; my mother drove my grandmother to welcome the 8 hour old precious baby girl into our family. Five generations gathered in the hospital room April 22, 1993. My cup of gratitude was overflowing as we shared the day with Jami and Kyra.

Happy Birthday, Kyra Rose.…….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


St. Patrick’s Day……..

The day began at Le Chocolat’ in Naperville with a Raspberry Mocha Latte and my Ladies Who Launch group. We swapped women entrepreneur stories and talked about helping each other “push forward” our businesses. Once again I was impressed with and uplifted by how empowered women are and what we are doing with our lives.

For lunch I had quiche and a nonfat latte at one of my favorite Barnes and Noble bookstores in downtown Naperville. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I bought two books and a CD. The CD is a collection of Celtic Woman Lullaby’. The inspirational book of the day was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubib. My brain candy read is a two book collection of Linda Lael Miller’s McKettrick family characters.

I listened to the CD as I drove from place to place all day. The music is wonderful, of course.  I started reading The Happiness Project over lunch and am saving the brain candy reads for a really relaxing ‘put my feet up and enjoy a fire in the fireplace day’ in the next week, maybe my birthday.

Sam and his mom met me at the outlet mall. We shopped for new clothes for Sam and birthday clothes for Hayley. Sam’s mom is sending the birthday package in the next few days. Hayley is the proud new owner of a really cute pair of sweatpant Capri’s with the roll-up bottoms and a really pretty lavender-purple GAP shirt. She will be styling. Sam’s present to Hayley is play food for her play kitchen.  I wish Sam and I could be there to play with her.

Sam clothes shopping is always fun.  His mother is into design, style and color. Sam is developing some really strong feelings surrounding his attire. We discovered in Kansas last week his preference for his long sleeved grey hoodie. He cries when his mom takes it off and would wear it to bed of she would let him. The problem is the size. He needs to move into an 18-24 months and GAP does not have the grey. The color this season is navy blue. He was not having any of it yesterday.

I used my $20 off birthday coupon at the Vera Bradley outlet. Purse shopping is almost as satisfying as shoe shopping. We met Mike at Cracker Barrel for a wonderful dinner. Thursday is sweet potato casserole day at CB. Their sweet potato casserole is made with walnuts and eats like a dessert. YUM.

I closed out the day at Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca. The once a year National Girl Scout CEO meeting was being held there. Three of my CEO training colleagues are still part of this elite group. We met after their last session for the day for a really good catch-up session. We all met as new CEO’s 10 years ago this week and have become  good friends.

Home by 10:30, slept like a baby. Very satisfying day…………………..

 ©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Busy Days……….

Hayley and her parents stopped by so Hayley could stay with Grandma and Sam for awhile. Sam and Hayley played side by side with Sam’s toys. Aunt Leslie had to go pick up milk at the dairy store. Hayley went along to see the cows and Sam took a nap.

Alice, Hayley and their mom came over to Aunt Leslie’s house after school. We talked and played and spent time together. They went home for dinner.

Sam and his mom went to dinner at the home of one of her close friends.

I dressed and went out with my friends of almost 55 years. Dinner was wonderful. The conversation was great. We sat and talked for several hours and then we went back to my sister’s home and talked until about 11:30 PM. We reminisced about school, friends, families, first puffs of cigarettes. Sam and his mom came home. He slept through the admiration party by all of the grandmas in the room.

Saturday morning found me with my three daughters and three of my granddaughters in a Kansas City suburb at a baby shower for one of the nieces from my first marriage. Their mother and I continue to be sisters-in-law in both deed and action. My niece was so cute with her baby bump and my other niece is obviously delighted with becoming an aunt. The other niece is engaged and her wedding will be in August. The save the date magnet is on my refrigerator. Hmmmm…..might be a really interesting story day.

Saturday afternoon we were at grandson Jacob and White Storm’s District Pinewood Derby contest. I am happy to report, White Storm came in 7th out of 105 contestants. Sam, his mother and I gave Alice and Kahlan a ride back to Topeka for a child care gig, while Peter, Jacob, Hayley and their mothers slumber partied in Olathe. After the derby, my son-in-law was somewhere, hiding out, I am sure.

Sam and his mom were off to another friend’s home while grandma was doing the town with her sisters.

Stay tuned for more adventures on the road with Lilypad and Co……….

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Lilypad on the road……….

We drove to Kansas several days later than expected.  Sam’s mom had a cold and Sam’s ear infection was back so we skipped the first two days of the trip which had included a visit to Allen Field house on the University of Kansas campus to watch the KU Men’s basketball team beat Texas A&M. Every year I think I will get to be Aunt Margie’s escort to at least one game. Sigh. Maybe next year.

Sister Leslie had broccoli and chicken or pork rice casseroles ready for us when we arrived. I had the chicken with mushrooms option. YUM! Sam played hard to get with his great-aunt and great-uncle. His latest trick is winking his eyes closed like he is hiding himself. Kind of like my little woodchuck. It took at least 10 minutes of sidling around and clutching his mom or my legs before he warmed up and made himself at home.  The lord of this manor is Mr. Knightley, the cat. Sam was on the floor with Mr. K and his toys almost immediately.

Sister Penny is very busy at her work these days. She was busy Thursday rearranging her schedule for the weekend festivities because she thought we were not coming for another month or so. I guess she thought there were two March’s this year.  She wanted to meet us for breakfast this morning, early she said, 8 – 8:30. She called later on and said maybe 7:30 would be better. Okay, we were game. She called again around 7 this morning and said to slow down our departure because she was just up. I love Penny!  Sam, his mother and I squeezed into Leslie’s 2011 Jeep, a REALLY nice ride, and stopped by for Jami.  A really good breakfast was had by all at IHOP on Wanamaker Road in Topeka.

Tonight is dinner with two really dear friends. We first met 55 years ago this upcoming September in the afternoon kindergarten class at Oakland Grade School. We share March birthdays and celebrate together as often as we can. We have been through marriages, divorces, miscarriages, children, grandchildren, parent deaths …………

Come with me the next few days as we follow the proverbial Kansas yellow brick road………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


Everlasting Love……

My 17 year old granddaughter “loves” my blog. She messaged me from Facebook and I am so touched.

I was present at her birth. The tension and angst of her mother’s pregnancy fell away as I spent the first day of Kyra Rose’s life with my daughter. New grandchild euphoria consumed me. I found out the truth behind the “If I had only known how wonderful grandchildren were, I would have had them first” crowd.

For the next two years she and her mother and then her sister lived in our home. She and Alice were shiny bright stars during what was otherwise a dark time in my journey.

Her grandfather and I had her with us a lot as her mother finished up her high school credits at the alternative high school, attended the local college and worked a part time job. The three of us shared child care duties as we were working full time and I was taking nine hours a semester at the same local college.

Kyra was old enough and sensitive enough to feel the tension surrounding the breakup of an almost 25 year marriage. One day, shortly after her grandfather was back in the house after a one month separation, we had Kyra in our bedroom watching TV with us while her mother was with Alice. In her cute little pajamas, fresh from her bath, she was the center of our attention. Kyra leaned over and took her grandfather’s hand placing it over mine. She sat looking at us and holding our hands. We were both overcome with the longing in her gaze and knew exactly what she wanted. Filled with bittersweet regret we were both unsure of how we would ever find our way back together, even for her.

Five months later I found Kyra standing in her grandfather’s side of the closet surrounded by what few clothes he had left hanging. She was keening his name. I had read about keening with grief and was unprepared for the reality of the emotions the words conveyed. There was such a depth of longing for what she could not ever have again in the sounds she made, as she held on to his clothes and called his name. We cried together and I held her in my arms on the floor of the closet for a very long time.

Kyra has an indomitable spirit. She has been faced with unimaginable loss several times in her life and finds a way through. Like others in her gene pool she embraces her journey with an understanding of the vagaries in life and love.

Love finds a way and Kyra Rose has a whole lot of love in her life……………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved


What’s in a name…………

Last December when the grandchildren and I discussed the upcoming blog launch and what it all meant, I asked them to think of names to use online. I want to protect their privacy.* On the advice of an attorney we decided to use only pseudonyms for 17 years and younger. Any still pictures of them will be from behind or a partial side shot of their head. We will be careful with video blogging.

My oldest granddaughter picked Kyra Rose. The name is one of her story characters. She writes poetry and stories and draws pictures. Kyra is a senior in high school. She lives with her father near Tacoma, WA. We will be traveling there in June to attend her graduation. Kyra took a placement test last year and was able to attend a local community college during her senior year and will graduate from high school with one year of college credits. She competes with her high school girls wrestling team.

Alice’s name came from Twilight, of course. Alice is so into Twilight. She is also really into her friends and helping them out – kind of like Alice, I guess. Alice is a junior in high school and moved from one town to another in Kansas the beginning of this school year. The changes have been very hard for her. She has made friends and is singing in a musical group at her school. Alice is an animal lover and wants to work with animals in the future.

Peter is our oldest grandson and is Kyra and Alice’s younger brother.  He never hesitated on his name. He does not really know why. Kyra thinks he took the name from “The Other Guy”.  He is in the eigth grade and likes video games, math and reading. He had a lot of friends in his previous school and is slowly getting used to the change.

Haylee is ten years younger than Peter. She loves Toy Story and all of the characters. She has a talking Jessie doll, Woody and Buzz. She likes to curl up in her blankets and watch movies. Hayley tries to keep up with her older siblings, Kyra, Alice and Peter.

Kahlan took her name from a fantasy TV series, Legend of the Seeker. She liked the name and thought the character was pretty and spirited. Our Kahlan is in the eighth grade, likes horses, animals, reading, and is a soccer goalie on a traveling soccer team. She and her brother Jacob really like cousin time and have more of it now that Alice, Peter and Hayley are several hours closer. 

Jacob just liked the name Jacob. He is right out there with his likes and dislikes. He is in the fifth grade, plays soccer, goes camping with the Boy Scouts and takes ballroom dancing at school. Last year he asked his parents to rent him a tuxedo for the final performance because his dance instructor asked them to dress spiffy.

Sam is nineteen months old. He has a sunny disposition and never ceases to impress me with his ability to figure things out. He likes motion toys and turns anything with wheels over so he can check out their spin. 

In case you had not noticed I am particularly partial to my grandchildren………

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved



Everyday Hero……

While reflecting and pondering life transitions and how women make them this past week, I remembered the juggling. For years a constant theme in my journals has been about finding a balance with who I wanted to be for myself and who I needed to be for those most close to me. There was a pivotal moment, a “blinding flash of the obvious” for me, when I recognized the struggle and juggle is the balance.

Remember the delicate act of keeping a teeter-totter straight across when we were children. Others wanted to go up and down. I was always fascinated with keeping a balance; the breathless concentration, wiggling forward and backwards to find the right location to keep the plank steady.

In the late 1990’s I was working as an assistant executive director at a Girl Scout council in Kansas to be closer to my young grandchildren and their mothers. I was learning as much as I could and taking every opportunity available to attend leadership and training programs locally and nationally. With a new marriage, new job, new location I wondered if I was spending enough time on important things, my new husband, my grandchildren, daughters, sisters, friends….

When my granddaughter Alice was four she was at church with me. During story time she went forward to sit at Pastor Marvin’s feet. He was talking about heroes in our lives. He asked the children if they had heroes in their lives. There was mention of policemen, firemen, Spiderman… The pastor noticed Alice waving her hand.

“Who is your hero, Alice?” he asked.

“My grandma” she replied.  

I was stunned. To this day I cannot tell you why she thought I was her hero. I only know I was humbled and proud and I knew I was still taking the right steps because if I was a hero to my granddaughter I was doing okay…..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved