Christine Park

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Why I felt like leaving my dream job

I love my job.  It's something I've worked at for 15 years, nearly half of my life to achieve. It's the kind of job that when you tell others what you do, they look at you differently, curious and impressed. It's a job you pursue for passion, not for money. The perks are nice too. It's a job that gets me access to restricted people and places with a flash of a badge. I am a TV news reporter and anchor. And I love my job.

The other day, I read former CEO's Max Shireson's blog post about why he left his job to spend more time with his family. Now granted, I don't make millions of dollars and I don't travel 300,000 miles a year. In fact, I have what's considered the best schedule in the news industry: 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday through Friday. Already you're thinking, "Quit your whining, then!" Let me explain.

It's the guilt. That mom guilt that all working moms and some working dads experience at one point or another. The guilt when you realize others spend more time with your children every day than you do. The guilt when you can't attend an awards ceremony or performance because you're working. The guilt when your kids keep calling you grandma because that's who is raising them. The guilt when dinner is once again fast food because you didn't have time to cook. The guilt when you feel like your best, most productive hours and talents are given to your employer and not your family. As a working mom, these feelings are regular occurrences. And I'm gonna assume they were for my mom as well.

The thing is, despite spending long hours at our babysitter's house, home alone, or at the after-school "fun club," I don't recall ever feeling like my mom wasn't there for us. When I flip through my childhood photo albums, I see an ecstatic 10-year-old winner of the Spelling Bee. Who quizzed me on all the words? My mom. I see a beaming angel excited for the school play. Who made the costume? My mom. I see a nervous girl about to perform in a piano recital. Who sat by my side, making sure I practiced? Mom. What I didn't see at the time, or in the pictures, is what happened behind the camera. My mom pulled many all-nighters. Despite being exhausted from a long day working the cash register at the diner my parents owned, she stayed up, lovingly sewing the last stitches and ironing the material of that beautiful white angel costume trimmed in silver.   

I recently got eye surgery which put me on medical leave for 6 weeks. I couldn't work. Initially, I was pretty helpless and miserable. What I wouldn't give to just watch the news without my eye being watery and blurry and in pain. But as the healing progressed, I embraced my other job: being a wife and mom for my family. I experienced joy in doing the things I usually can't as a working mom: planning day trips with them on their days off, picking up the kids from school, supervising their homework, planning and executing delicious dinners. I heard from my kids in more detail, while the events of their days were still fresh in their busy little minds. My husband and my children expressed how much they LOVED having me home. So did I.

To make matter worse, my husband discovered this long-lost video in which he asks my then-2-year-old daughter if she likes me working at Action News. She replies, "No." He asks, "Why?" She then delivers the simplest, most heart-melting answer in her little lispy baby voice, "Because I love her. And I want her to stay home." Talk about pouring salt in my still-fresh wounds. At that moment, I looked at my husband and said, "Look at the budget. Can we afford for me to stay home?" Surely we could live without cable, private preschool and my monthly facials if it meant I could be there for my children! He looked shocked and incredulous. Understandably. I've been a career woman my entire adult life. Even while on maternity leave with both of my children, I never considered becoming a SAHM. What changed? Maybe it was because now that they're older and more aware, I feel like they need me around more. As my return date to work neared, I started to dread going back. A friend asked me if I was excited. I honestly answered, no. "But this is your dream job!" she exclaimed. I started to wonder if my dreams were different now.

Well I'm back now. And I still love my job. My return was a whirlwind of busyness, co-workers and viewers welcoming me back, and a TON of work. Fulfilling work. It was like I never left. The kids, while they expressed some regret that I was going back, never missed a beat. We adjusted to the schedule, the juggling and insanity of life B.S. (Before Surgery). And I started to become convinced again that I can be a good mom *and* a working mom too. I'm lucky enough to have an employer that allows me a break in the day (within reason), to attend class parties and doctors appointments. And I want my son and daughter to grow up with a role model that pursues her passion. And if working requires me to pull a few all nighters to find the time to bake cookies for a party, create some costumes or help with science projects, I've got a cup of coffee with my name on it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ten Things My Mom Used to Say That I Never Thought I'd Say... Until I Became a Mom too

1. Get that out of your nose/ear/mouth/butt! Why do kids think their bodily orifices need to have foreign objects placed in them? Straws, army soldiers, pennies... have you seen the health insurance company ad where the kid goes to the doctor, only to have a doll shoe pulled out of his ear? I can relate.

2. Don't make me tell you again! My kids are selectively deaf. This is a strange affliction I noticed every time I asked them do something they don't necessarily want to do. In my daughter's case, this happens any time she's in the middle of a book or TV show. Sydney, go take a shower. SYDNEY, please go take a shower. SYDNEY TAKE A SHOWER!!!!!! Usually on the third try, I'm resorting to raising my voice.

3. Because I said so! As a child this answer really vexed me. It signaled the end to an argument without a satisfactory explanation. Now I realize my mom used it when she was just sick and tired of me questioning her. I use it regularly now to just SHUT. THEM. DOWN.

4. Let's play the quiet game! Can I just have one car ride home without screaming, yelling, singing, fighting coming from the back seat? Yup, it's called the "quiet game." The kids thought it was fun and played along... all of one time.

5. Did you flush? Why is it so hard to remember to flush the toilet? The last thing I want to see when I use the bathroom is somebody else's business. It's not any less stinky coming from little people.  And apparently some adults need this reminding as well. Sheesh.

6. Life isn't fair. This has become my go-to answer anytime my kids fight over the same thing, usually it's portion size. "Why is her muffin bigger than mine?" While I've had the urge to ask this as well when I'm buying my breakfast muffin at Starbucks, I remember my momma's wise words that life just isn't fair.

7. Go ask your dad. I always thought this was such a cop out. And it is. But if it means he gets to deal with their whining and cajoling instead of me, I'm not above using this line. Unfortunately, hubby is wise, and counters with a quick "Go ask your mom." It's like a ping pong game. Back and forth.

8. Don't cross your eyes or they'll freeze that way. Throughout my childhood, I lived in terror of this actually happening, so I never ever crossed my eyes. Obviously this isn't true, but that doesn't stop me from telling my son every time he does this. And it's often. Like every day. Ugh, what if his eyes freeze that way?

9. How do you know you don't like it if you haven't tasted it?/If you're too full to finish your dinner, you're too full for dessert/Think of those poor starving children in North Korea... If you've got a picky eater, you've used one or all of these phrases too. My daughter eats like a bird. It drives me crazy how she sits there and just picks at her food. Like I'm trying to poison her with, horror or horrors, cauliflower. She even gags and plugs her nose to make a big show of how utterly disgusting she thinks her food is. I want to scream. Especially after I slaved away in the kitchen, making it presentable after microwaving it. Instead, I swallow my scream, and use one of these phrases.

10. I'll tell you when you're older. Son: "How did the doctor get me out of your tummy?" Me: "I'll tell you when you're older." There is NO way I'm ready to have the birds and the bees talk, let alone with my 5-year-old boy. Why do they have to be so darn inquisitive?

Do you guys have any more to add? Crazy how we all end up sounding just like our parents!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taste Testing Trader Joe's Pumpkin-Flavored Everything

If you're like me, when the fall season comes around, you start craving all things pumpkin and pumpkin-flavored. I think it was even more so this year, because Fresno had an extended summer, and I was desperate to hasten the arrival of the crisp, cooler air, and the beautiful fall foliage. Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte hadn't yet arrived, so the other day, I faked it by making pumpkin bread. It was freaking delish. Moist, with the perfect blend of pumpkiny nutmegy cinnamony flavor.

That's where my neighborhood obsession, Trader Joe's comes in. The aforementioned "freaking delish" bread was made from their Pumpkin Bread Mix. But that's only the beginning. Have you been inside the store lately? It's like Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin exploded and broke off into little pumpkin-flavored goodies scattered in nearly every aisle. I couldn't resist snapping up a few (quite a few) to taste test. I can't tell you how many items I grabbed, then guiltily put back down, knowing I'd probably be the only one in the family to consume these things. (Hubby does not share my pumpkin addiction). Anyhow, I was super-excited to eat my breakfast this morning:

...Only to be disappointed! Let's start with the Pumpkin Waffles. I'd skip these. I'll stick with their amazingly flaky, crispy Belgian waffles instead, because these pumpkin waffles are like the cheap, cardboard-like Ego waffles with hardly any pumpkin flavor. Even slathering these with Cookie Butter couldn't save them.
The Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte Mix is all spice, to the point of overpowering. Mixing the powder with water, as the instructions suggest, just doesn't cut it. There's no latte creaminess to it. I will give it another try with milk, and see how that balances out the flavors.
Pumpkin Macarons. YES! A delicate, shell, a chewy interior, and a flavorful filling.  The pumpkin flavor is just right... really reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Make sure you defrost them for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheescake. Buy this. If you love cheesecake and pumpkin pie, this is a cross of the best of both worlds. It's got the firmer consistency and tanginess of cheesecake, with the smoothness of pumpkin pie. Sometimes pumpkin pie can be a little too... gelatinous for me, so I actually prefer this.

Pumpkin Butter. Pumpkin pie in a jar. This is a great way to satisfy your pumpkin craving, so you might want to stockpile a few jars of these. They're a little pricey for the size, but it's good on anything from ice cream to toast. The tasting station uses cream cheese to cut down on the sweetness. There are also some great recipes online using this ingredient. 
I found this hilarious and helpful "Pumpkintensity" matrix of some of TJ's most popular pumpkin-flavored products. As you can see, some are super high in the spice factor, while others have a much stronger pumpkin flavor. I guess depending on your preferences, you can decide what to try!


How do you feed your pumpkin addiction? Let me know about your favorite products!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Just Between Friends Fall Sale

You know how much I love a good bargain. That's why I'm addicted to JBF. I first heard about Just Between Friends Children's Consignment Sale about four years ago, while doing a story on them. I felt like it was made for me! At the time, my house was overflowing with baby gear that I needed to get rid of, but I had spent hundreds of dollars on these things, so I didn't just want to give them away or sell them for pennies at a yard sale. This was the perfect solution. I was able to recoup my costs by consigning everything from my Medela breast pump and my kid's crib mattress, to the exersaucer and rocking chair from their nursery. Here's a link to how consignment works with JBF.

Now that my kids are older, it's more a matter of keeping up with their clothes and shoes, as they grow out of them every year. So I've become an avid shopper at their twice yearly sale. Today is opening day for the Fresno Fall Sale at the Fresno Fairgrounds' Commerce Building. From today through Sunday you can find amazing deals on new and gently used baby, children's, and maternity items in one huge place. Here's my one-minute explainer:

If you're willing to really spend some time looking, you can find some great quality, even brand new stuff, tags still on them. I spent about an hour and half at their pre-sale and ended up with a ginormous shopping bag loaded with stuff.

Here's a breakdown of my JBF haul: Crazy 8 pea coat ($16), Old Navy cream sweater ($4), Baby Gap black sweater ($6), new w/ tags Rock n Roll sweatshirt from Kohl's ($9), Osh Gosh All Star hooded shirt ($5) , plaid and striped Ralph Lauren button up shirts ($10 each).

New with tags Gymboree brown corduroys ($8), black corduroy pants ($4), 2 pairs of Osh Gosh lined athletic pants ($4 each), Old Navy jeans ($4), Carter's boots ($9), and Adidas soccer cleats ($7.50).

An entire winter wardrobe for my 5-year-old son for $100! I also got a Crazy 8 sweater dress for my daughter, two Justice workout shorts for dance and gymnastics, a hot pink Children's Place velour sweatsuit, and two pairs of leggings all for about $45. But my favorite find of the day was a pair of brand new pink and black converse high tops for my daughter for $13 (Retail $32).

Are you going to the sale? What amazing finds have you scored? 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No Kids Allowed

Old Fisherman's Grotto is located on Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

You can't miss it. The bright yellow paint, the black and white striped awning, and the ever-present call of the man hawking clam chowder. On a recent work trip to Monterey, my photographer Richard and I followed our stomachs and our noses to the Old Fisherman's Grotto. Once we arrived, he pointed out this sign, posted just under the menu, and since he knows I'm a mom, asked me if I was offended. I laughed, saying no, even though it seems a bit harsh, I absolutely agreed.

Families are crying foul over this sign, saying they're offended and upset

Easy for me to say, right? I wasn't with my kids. But that's the thing, when I'm not with them, I'd like to enjoy fine dining without having to tend to my kids or try to tune out others' little ones. Tantrums, fighting, food on the floor, if I wanted that, I would have had dinner at home! I figure, patrons shelling out big bucks and restaurant owners catering to those patrons have every right to have a kid-free zone. I remember when my hubby and I, desperate for a nice steak, ventured to Fleming's with our children in tow. My son, who was a toddler at the time, thought it was a fun game to throw his fork on the ground. The gracious staff was quick to pick it up and replace it with a clean one. They even brought out a tasty little plate with finger foods on it to distract him. But after the fifth or so fork on the ground, I was mortified and my hubby had to take him to the restroom for a stern talk and a time out. Never again! We vowed to hold off on fine dining until the kids were a little older and they could learn to behave themselves.

Back at the Old Fisherman's Grotto, Richard and I enjoyed a fantastic meal. The service was attentive and speedy, and the food was VERY good. And even though we didn't say much because we were stuffing our faces, the nice thing was, it was quiet and intimate enough to have a conversation. No crying babies or unruly children in sight. We joked about the sign again on the way out, how it must be working.

Little did we know the local media and some parenting blogs would pick up the story, after some families complained about the sign. Customer Niki Riviere says she was turned away from the restaurant because she couldn't get a high-chair for her 6-month-old child. She told a Salinas TV station: "I'm completely shocked because I never had that happen. Usually they cater, at least have a high chair for the child, but it seemed like they didn't want any child. They said the child can't make any noises so they turned us away." I actually have a problem with the part of Niki's statement where she says, "Usually they cater." It's the same sense of entitlement many of us have developed when we are visiting a business. Obviously customer service is key in making your patrons happy and get them to keep coming back. But guess what? Your needs and desires don't automatically supersede others'. So if the fact that you have little ones means you can't eat at this particular place for a few years, it's being courteous, it's not discrimination. And in the meantime, as your kids get older, make sure to teach them manners, like sitting still, eating with utensils, and using their inside voice, so that when you do take them out, they know how to behave.

Meantime, the owner, Chris Shake has been completely unapologetic, saying if customers don't like the rules, they can go somewhere else for dinner. Obviously Shake doesn't care too much about being polite. Some have suggested it's the sign's tone and wording that is more offensive than the actual adults-only policy. I wonder, if any families that get past the sign, have actually been asked to leave mid-meal because their kids weren't behaving? Shake could probably use a few lessons on how to deal with young families, since they are a huge demographic among the tourists in Monterey. But he says he doesn't need to, because business has been great despite his no kids policy. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Pantry Organization via The Dollar Tree

You know your pantry is in bad shape when it makes you ANGRY and IRRITATED every time you set foot in it. And when you shut the door anytime company comes over, because you're embarrassed anyone might see it.

            Behold, the "Before" (don't judge):

Everything was crammed in there. I couldn't stand the chaos.
As my readers know, I've been on an organizing kick, with my closet and my jewelry, and so my pantry was naturally the next project to tackle. Little did I know my good friend and colleague Margot Kim was attempting the same exact thing at her house. But this just goes to show great minds think alike. Today we compared pantry makeovers, like two dorks, oohing and aahing over the end results.

So I wanted to share how I went the Dollar Tree route. Who knew? The Dollar Tree carries these awesome plastic organizing bins, some that stack, some with handles, in all shapes and sizes. I went with red, since my Dollar Tree had the most options in this color, and I wanted everything color coordinated. But I saw blue, green, white/clear, even purple.
I wasn't sure exactly how many containers I would need. So this was my initial haul, about $20 worth. Obviously, when you see my "before" picture above, you can conclude that wasn't enough. So about halfway through my organization attempts, I went back to another Dollar Tree (since I had cleaned out the supply at the first one), and didn't find anything I needed. So 30 minutes later, I found myself at my third Dollar Tree of the day, where I bought another $25-$30 worth of red containers. So for about $50, I was set. Meantime, hubby is inviting me to RELAX on my Saturday and spend some time with the kids in the pool. Anyone knows, a woman in the middle of a project, is a woman on a mission that CANNOT be stopped!

As I sorted through the shelves of food, I couldn't believe the amount of expired goods that were sitting in there, hidden in corners, and under boxes. I found baby formula from 2007 (my kids are 5 and nearly 8 now), shave ice syrup from 2008, a gingerbread man from 2009, and Korean roasted seaweed from 2010. I discovered I had perfectly good barbecue sauce even though I had just bought some, and an entire Costco sized box of trail mix.

I especially love these stackable bins, which are perfect for canned foods and canned sodas.
These baskets have handles, which makes it really easy to access what's inside.
Everything is labeled so the kids can find snacks for themselves too!

The bigger baskets on the bottom hold things like chips and popcorn.
With every item in its proper place, I felt my stress melting away. Organization had become my therapy. The pantry, once the bane of my existence, had been transformed into my zen place. I had some girlfriends over the other day, and one of them literally went inside and shut the door so she could revel in it. She's now inspired to do her own makeover! Another laughed and said she really needs to this because she ended with 6 bottles of ketchup because she had no idea what she already had. Now, when I'm making the grocery list, I know exactly what we do and don't need. I honestly hope this cuts down on our family's food waste.
This morning, I was in a rush to get to my workout and instead of spending precious minutes searching for a power bar, I knew exactly where to go. I actually laughed out loud at the awesomeness of it. I know it sounds like no big deal, and a little OCD, but I think this could be a whole new organized way of life for us! Share your organization stories in the comments below!

 Behold, the "After": 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Starbucks Savings for Hopeless Caffeine Addicts

The other day, one of my colleagues came into work and I almost didn't recognize her without her customary Starbucks cup in her left hand. It made me do a double-take, because something was clearly missing. Maybe she was protesting Starbucks' price hikes this week? LOL The company says the drought in Brazil has severely limited the coffee bean supply and driven up prices, and now they're passing on the price increases to customers. Tall and venti lattes will see price increases of 15 to 20 cents (grande price won't change). After July 21st, bags of their packaged ground coffee will increase over $1 per bag as well.

Now I'm nowhere near my friend's level of addiction, but I do enjoy a tall nonfat chai latte every now and then. It can be an expensive habit that really adds up. The "latte factor," basically the premise that many small purchases add up to a significant expenditure over time, has been well-documented in the media. So what's a bargain hunting consumer reporter to do?

Turns out, there are tons of ways to save at Starbucks. In fact, many of you hardcore insiders might already know about these. Money-saving expert Andrea Woroch recently offered these tips:

1. Enjoy rewards.
The My Starbucks Rewards card provides loyal customers with such, well, perks as free drinks, free food, free refills and more. Cardholders also receive a free beverage of any kind or size on their birthday, as demonstrated by this gentleman who ordered a 60-shot espresso concoction worth $54.75! Stars are earned whenever the Starbucks Card or Starbucks mobile app is used at checkout.

2. Buy discount Starbucks gift cards.
At, you can buy discount gift cards to Starbucks for as much to 20-percent off. For instance, pick up a $100 Starbucks gift card for just $84.54 and save over $15! In addition to saving on coffee, buying discount Starbucks gift cards is a great way to save on gifts for birthdays, holidays and graduations.

3. Print or redeem coupons.
Even Starbucks issues coupons from time to time. Keep track of these coveted offers by searching sites like, where you can find both printable and online offers for savings. Also, check out Starbucks' website periodically as they advertise special offers like their current "summer surprises" texting campaign.

4. Keep eyes peeled for daily deals.
Ever notice how your Facebook feed explodes when Groupon or LivingSocial issues a daily deal to Starbucks? Once or twice per year, you can score a $10 digital gift card to Starbucks for just $5. You must have an account with daily deal providers to get the deal, but you can personalize your settings to only receive emails weekly. That way, you're not bombarded with daily offers but can be notified about the Starbucks deal.

5. Join the mailing list.
By joining the Starbucks Mailing List, you'll get a coupon for 10-percent off your next order. Plus, you'll find out about special promotions like seasonal offers, member-only benefits and discounts on speciality drinks. You can sign up here, or hold off until you have time to create a separate email account just for promotional offers!

6. Get social.
Follow Starbucks on Facebook or Twitter to get notified when they release special promotions, coupons or daily discounts. Last summer, followers could enjoy the "Starbucks treat receipt" which awarded customers to a $2 grande cold beverage after 2 p.m. simply by showing the morning receipt. Finding out about these saving promos early is easy when you follow the brand on social media.

7. Choose coffee over espresso.
To keep costs down while fulfilling my Starbucks addiction, I sometimes opt for brewed coffee over an espresso beverage to kick start my day. When I'm really in the mood for a latte or Americano, then I satisfy the craving for less by sticking to a tall or grande size over the venti.

8. Look for sale or clearance tags.
When it comes to shopping Starbucks goods, never buy at full price! That cute coffee mug or trendy eco-tumbler will inevitably go on sale, so make a note of what you like and hold off until sale time. Save even more when you buy your clearance good with those discount gift cards I mentioned!

9. Ask for "light" ice.
Iced coffees are just the ticket on warm summer days, but you often end up getting less latte than if you ordered the hot version. That's because ice takes up more than half the cup most of the time. Avoid this issue by requesting "light ice" when you order your chilled beverage.

10. Go halfsies with a friend.
If you and your friend like the same drink, order a venti and ask for an extra cup. Starbucks doesn't charge for the extra cup and you can often save an average of $1.50 by splitting up their biggest size. It's a cheapskate move, but you're probably doing both your systems a solid by not downing a venti of caffeine!

11. Bring your own cup.
As an eco-friendly company, Starbucks is all about promoting sustainable practices and limiting its impact on the environment. As such, it rewards its customers who bring in their own tumblers and cups with a 10-cent discount. Just bringing in your own mug will cancel out the price increase on grande and venti brewed coffee - score!

12. Earn stars with coffee bags.
True coffee aficionados drink the good stuff at home, too, which makes the $1 increase on ground coffee all the more painful. However, you can earn more Stars on your My Starbucks Reward card when you buy specially-marked bags of Starbucks coffee from grocery stores and other retailers. Earning Stars helps you score discounts and freebies!