Woman Jen and John Speak

Category Archives: Woman

Talents

by Jen Fong

God designed our bodies to be used. When we fail to use this gift he’s given us, the body decays and eventually becomes useless. However there is ample opportunity to restore the body along the way with care, feeding and exercise.

The same can be said for the many talents God gives to us. It’s no accident that we can sing, or take pictures, or know how to comfort, or can cook, or any one of the myriad of things we excel at. God gave us each talent for a specific purpose, and he will give us the opportunity to use each talent we have.

It’s our responsibility, therefore, to develop our talents. To keep them in working order through frequent practice. For many opportunities will arise in which we can use those talents to fulfill our purpose and touch others. Your talents are not for you alone. They are precious and should not be wasted. For God uses these talents to touch the world.

What are your talents?

Great and Now I Feel Guilty…

I am a bad mother.

As much as I love my children, there are some things that other mothers think are SO fun and are so delightful that make me want to run and hide.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago my daughter received a letter in the mail. It was from one of her friends. It told her she was now part of the “Sticker Club” and all she needed to do was mail a pack of stickers to the girl listed on the letter, then add her own name to the letter and mail it, along with a blank copy, to 6 other friends. Within 2 weeks she would apparently receive 36 packs of stickers!

Shoot me now.

The letter sat on the hall table for a week just staring at me before my husband started badgering me about it. Pointing out the fact that good mothers had probably already gotten on the ball and sent theirs out.

What he didn’t understand was that first, I had to figure out what copies I had to make, what addresses I had to find, how many stamps I had to buy, and also run out and buy a pack of stickers. Then I had to set aside time to hand write all the addresses, make all the copies, etc.

I barely have time to wash my dishes.

I finally sucked it up and mailed out the letters with my daughter last night. She was of course clapping her hands in delight the whole time. (insert mommy guilt.) I’d also like to point out the fact that I was a week late in sending these out. Which means there will be other disappointed girls who don’t get their stickers on time.

Sigh.

Now I feel guilty about all the other moms we probably stressed out with this project. (If you get one and you’re reading this, I’m sorry!)

How do supermoms do it all? Because I sure can’t figure it out!

Your thoughts?

When Did I Suddenly Get Old?

This December I will turn 40. I honestly didn’t think that was that old. I feel great. I exercise more now than ever before in my life, and eat better too. I can keep up with my kids. I rock out to Just Dance 3 on the Wii with the best of them. So honestly, I think of myself as pretty young.

At least I did until I watched the Grammys the other night.

Now there are contemporary artists that I like. I work out to the Black Eyed Peas every morning. I enjoy songs from Katie Perry, Adele, etc. But I have to tell you…the majority of the performances I saw (until I finally turned it off) sounded like noise to me. Not music.

Then I saw this: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/who-is-paul-mccartney

OMG. Am I really that old???

Conquering the Math Beast

I know exactly when I started hating math.

It all started in 4th grade. I got Mrs. Potter as my math teacher. I hated her and she hated me. I was a kid with lower than average social skills and she couldn’t stand me. I returned the favor. It was a miserable year. And then she moved up to 5th grade and I got her again. That pretty much ended any chance that I could have a positive view of my ability to do math ever.

And the unfortunate thing is that I carried that through for pretty much the rest of my life. And it has affected my ability to manage finances. And I think I’m not the only one. So many women have been led to believe that they are not good at math, and that has carried over into finances. (Barbie says “Math class is tough,” remember?) And that’s a big deal, because I believe that it’s part of the reason our economy tanked. We’ve spent too much because we weren’t looking closely enough at what we were doing.

Budgeting is not that hard. You look at how much you make, figure out what your fixed expenses are (mortgage, car, groceries, etc.) Whatever is left over is saved, donated, or spent. Don’t spend more than you make and you’re in good shape. Spend more than you make and you’ll never be able to retire. It really is pretty much that simple.

But how many of us avoid looking that closely at our finances because instinctively we’re afraid to? We’ve been so programmed to think that this is beyond us that we make bad financial decisions? And then WE PASS THAT ON TO OUR CHILDREN.

I’m not saying you have to be good at higher math. But adding, subtracting, and multiplication can be done on a calculator. It’s not that hard. And if you want to be a good parent, you have to teach your kids financial responsibility. Heaven knows the schools aren’t doing it.

So conquer your own math beast and get over your fear. The math required to make good financial decisions is not beyond you. And your kids need your good example if they are going to be financially secure one day themselves. Don’t spend more than you make. Save some. Delay gratification when necessary.

Conquer the math beast.

Your thoughts?

I Want to Be Supermom But My Cape Ripped (And I Don’t Know How to Sew)

My patch-less brownie 🙂

I am a working mother.

I have a husband who makes sure the household stays running smoothly so I can take the lead in running our company. (God bless him.)

Our roles are often reversed. Parents in town sometimes make the mistake of coming to me to make plans with our kids. After giving them a blank look, I send them to the master schedule keeper (John) who will also most likely be the one who shows up for the playdate or birthday party with kids in tow. He also does the laundry and the taxi driving of the kids. (God bless him.)

We really do like the way things have worked out, even though it’s rather non-traditional. But sometimes it’s hard, too. I’m on the road a lot and miss performances and things. I try to show up for things when I’m around, like caroling with the Brownies.

But I also sometimes think about moms in generations before ours. Those superwomen who cooked and cleaned and got the kids where they needed to be (in heels and pearls, God bless them.) The definition of supermom back then was a lot different than it is today when we’re balancing work and family and everything else we want to do.

Heck, they even knew how to SEW (a talent I simply do not possess.)

Case in point…brownies. I have written before about the stress the whole brownie patch thing has added to my life. I still haven’t added the last 2 patches to my daughter’s vest because I’m not sure where they go. When we went caroling with the brownies at the nursing home, I figured I’d check out the vests of the other girls and then do my daughter’s.  Only when we got there, EVERYONE’s patches were falling off. And it made me feel better. LOL Maybe it’s not just me.

So even though I try very hard to be supermom, there are simply things I’ll never be able to do like June Cleaver. I still haven’t attempted to attach the brownie patches. My husband doesn’t ask me to sew hems (he asks his mom.) And yes, I’ll miss the occasional child activity.

But you know what? It’s OK. It’s what we’ve chosen. It’s the life we created. The kids are happy most of the time.

Even if I don’t know how to sew.

The Kindness of Strangers

My daughter cried when I left for the airport this time.

It was understandable. This was my longest trip yet. A full week away from my family. I haven’t been on a plane since July. And lately I’ve been making a special effort to spend more time with her, as she’s been dealing with the challenges of girls and being social, which tends to rear its ugly head at about her age (boys are so much easier when it comes to the social stuff.)

Now I try to keep it all in perspective, in order to keep the mommy guilt from spiraling out of control. I know she’ll be fine. My husband is home full time (just like I am when I’m not traveling) so I know she’ll have a lot of attention. Travel is a necessary part of the job that I actually enjoy. And it’s what we have to do to take care of our family.

But I also wanted to cheer her up. So I promised to Skype. And send postcards.

So Monday morning I woke up on the opposite coast to discover the internet wasn’t working in the hotel. I battled it for hours but couldn’t get the Skype to work before she left for school. So we talked on the phone. It was OK.

I didn’t get to call her again before she went to sleep, because of the time difference.  By the time I was able to call she was already asleep. So I went in search of a postcard. Part 2 of my promise.

But then I found out that the Orange County airport doesn’t have a mailbox.

I asked a few different shop owners in the airport, just to be sure.

And then I asked the sweet old Asian man in the Hudson News (he reminded me a bit of my Father in law), explaining that I was on a long business trip and wanted to send a card to my daughter (in terminal B…shop there if you’re in the John Wayne Airport.) He told me that if I wanted, he would mail my postcard to my daughter on his way home from work. That there was a mailbox by his home. I thanked him profusely as I started looking for the stamps I knew I packed somewhere. He quietly fished in his pocket and brought me over a stamp for my card.

I finished my message to my daughter, and brought the postcard over with some money for the stamp, and some extra for his kindness. He took the postcard and refused the money. He told me in his broken English that many people had been kind to him over the years, and I should pay it forward. With tears in my eyes I thanked him.

There is kindness in the most unexpected of places.

Family Update, and Managing the Holidays

Our Family Christmas Card Photo

So since I wrote my last post about the sweet potato ravioli, we had a major snowstorm in October which wreaked havoc on the trees and knocked power out for days. My brother’s family (with their baby twins & adorable dog) moved in with us for a few days because we at least had a gas fireplace (for heat) and a gas stovetop to cook with. And since the power was out for days, we had no refrigeration and I wound up having to toss the rest of the sweet potato ravioli (sob).

So it’s been quite a time.

But now we’re back to normal, thank heavens, and I can’t believe it’s going to be Thanksgiving next week! This year, bucking all tradition, we’re celebrating the Chinese side of our family heritage, and going out to eat at the same Chinese restaurant where we celebrated our wedding banquet. The food will be amazing, if not quite traditional. It’s good when you have parents that are pretty much up for anything! 🙂

We’re also planning for Christmas. Now in our house, the kids are allowed to ask Santa for one large gift that costs around $100. Nothing bigger than that, and only one thing. We do give them smaller gifts as well, but they’re only allowed to ask for one thing. I make my kids write their letter to Santa in early November. Once I tell them it’s sent, they’re committed. Then they can enjoy the rest of the holiday season dreaming about their big gift, instead of constantly trying to make up their minds.

I also have this “thing” where I like to be done with my Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving. I HATE the crowds in the mall, and so do all my shopping online, with regular speed shipping, and then I can enjoy making memories with my kids during the holidays instead of battling for parking spaces. So pretty much everything has been ordered and is either here, or on its way. And that makes life a LOT easier.

I am doing the “Small Business Saturday” thing sponsored by American Express (although I’m not doing it the Saturday after Thanksgiving.) I am trying to purchase just about all of our gifts from small, local businesses and direct sellers, instead of big box stores. It’s a way that I can help jump start the economy. It all starts with small business.

So that’s pretty much our holiday season in a nutshell. How do you keep the stress of the holidays to a minimum? Would love to read your tips in the comments below!

No One Told Me About the Parental Aptitude Test for Girl Scouts!

 

I am not a domestic diva. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t scrapbook or sew or do any of those wonderful crafty things I stand in awe of when I see other moms do them. Sure I can put together a bookshelf with the best of them, but crafty? Not me.

Funny story…when my oldest son started pre-school, we were hanging out together in the “imaginative play” section of the classroom. It had a toy kitchen, ironing board, babies, etc. My kid had to ask me what the ironing board and iron were. Never saw those before. *hangs head in shame*

So anyway, my daughter just signed up for brownies. She has a lot of boy in her life with 2 brothers…Legos, Star Wars, martial arts, etc. I figured she needed a seriously girly activity, but I still wanted it to be character building. Brownies seemed to fit the bill. So we signed her up.

They sent me a list of the stuff I’d need to buy for her uniform…vest, patches, pins. When it arrived I REALIZED I WOULD NEED TO IRON ON THE PATCHES. Like, STRAIGHT. Praise the Lord I didn’t have to sew them on. That might have sent me over the edge.

I looked at the directions. There is pre-ironing, ironing cloths, and flipping of the garment involved. No lie, my hands started to sweat and my heart started beating fast. Seriously. No one told me there was a parental aptitude test for this. Like, if I can’t manage to get these things on straight, my child will be the laughing-stock of brownies. But no pressure or anything! Ha!

So last night I bit the bullet. Laid out all the patches. Placed them all first, prior to ironing, just to make sure. Then I had to remove everything, pre-iron, place, ironing cloth iron, flip and iron, flip, ironing cloth, and iron again. I swear. Those were the instructions.

I only messed up a little by failing to remove a backing from one of the numbers. And that was easily remedied. Her little vest actually looks like a competent mother ironed it.

But holy cow. Next time I think they should warn the parents about the aptitude test!

What puts pressure on you when trying to do things for your kids? I can’t be the only one! Share your stories in the comments.

image source: http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_central/insignia/where_to_place/brownie/

Every Woman Needs a Fabulous Pair of Red Shoes

I am of the opinion that every woman needs a pair of fabulous red shoes.

It’s an emotional well-being thing.

When you walk down the street in a pair of fabulous red shoes, people notice. They compliment you. That pair of shoes can make you stand tall and feel fabulous all day.

Seriously.

Too many women sacrifice looking and feeling fabulous for comfort (in the guise of ratty old sweats.) It’s not necessary. You never wear a set of old sweats out and get compliments. You never stand tall or feel great.

Don’t do it to yourself. It’s possible to be comfortable AND look great. Find out the type of jeans that compliments your body shape, and buy yourself a couple pairs of stylish ones from Target each season. Get rid of the shapeless t-shirts, and trade them out for ones that highlight your assets. Put on a necklace, and some earrings with your jeans.

Don’t try to hide behind shapeless clothing. Sure, be comfortable. But do it in clothing that looks great on you. If you’re not sure where to start, do a Google search on “Dress for Your Body Shape.” You’ll find lots of great info to get you started.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to dress in ways that make you feel good. Heck, I do most of my shopping at Target and Old Navy, with just a few select pieces for work from New York & Company and Macy’s. But you deserve to feel and look good. It affects everything…the way you feel, the way your husband reacts to you, the way you parent your children, the confidence you have…the list goes on.

The pair of red shoes are the icing on the cake (I have purple ones too!). They make people notice that you feel great about yourself. What a gift to give yourself!

What’s your favorite item of clothing that makes you feel great?