Christine Park

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ten Things I learned on my Date with my 4-year-old Son

You know how it is, unless you're the firstborn child, you rarely get one on one time with your parents. Such is my son's fate. Born second, through no fault of his own, any cuddle time is interrupted by his older sister trying to insert herself onto my lap too. Story time, she takes over reading. Meal time she dominates the conversation. I didn't notice how much this was true until she was dropped off at her school's movie night, my husband was out of town, and my 4-year-old son and I were left, just the two of us, for hours of quality time.

I was excited at the possibilities. Being a working mom, I miss the best hours of his day, and when we are together, I'm either barking commands (clean your room! eat your dinner! don't pick your nose!) or too distracted from my day or by my iPhone to strike up a conversation full of "why?" and "how come?"

But that night, I told myself I would listen. REALLY listen, instead of my zoned out state of "uh-huh, that's nice honey." I would get to know my little man, who's developed a personality that his teachers and little friends seem to love. So in between painting at Color Me Mine, dinner at Five Guys, a treat at Yogurtland, and jumping around at the playground, here are ten things I learned on my date with my son:

1. Captain America is WAY cooler than Iron Man.
This is significant because for the last two years he has been OBSESSED with Pixar's Cars. So it was news to me that he's transitioning to superhero worship. This would explain all the jumping off the couch and posing on tables as of late.

2. He likes cheeseburgers more than pizza when given a choice.
I always assumed the kid would choose pizza. But he told me he "always" eats it (bad mommy!), so I guess he doesn't see it as a treat.

3. He has the toddler-specific talent... of spinning around and around without getting dizzy.
I said, "Aren't you getting dizzy?" He asked, "What's dizzy?" I said, "When you spin around and even if you stop, it feels like you're still moving." He laughed and said "No!" and kept on spinning.

4. He smacks his lips in between sentences.
I noticed in the past, he would often picks up my speech habits. He would ask, "Right?" after a statement, like I do, right? But I do not know where he got the lip smacking thing. And once he starts, it's constant. So our convo would go something like this: "Mommy?" (smack) "Did you know..." (smack) " friend Eddie..." (smack) " still three?" (smack)

5. He makes new friends wherever he goes.
We weren't at the playground but a minute, when I look up and he's chatting up some little girl and they start playing together. If only we could all make new friends so easily as adults. He makes it look so simple. "Hi. Do you want to play with me?" Granted, that line might get him smacked if he said it as a young man, but it sure works for him now.

6. He wants to marry me.
He doesn't seem to understand why he can't. I told him I already have a husband, his daddy. This does not deter him. The way he sees it, if you love someone, you should be able to marry them. And since I'm the number one girl in his life right now, he was heartbroken when I turned him down. But I know that I'll be just as heartbroken (and happy for him) the day when I get replaced by the real love of his life.

7. He can finish an entire Five Guys burger in one sitting.
The boy can put it away. I could barely finish mine. My food budget will have to triple as he grows.

8. He wants to be a daddy when he grows up.
I asked him what he wants to be when he's an adult, and he answered, "A daddy." I said, "Yes, but what do you want to do to make money? You need to make money to support your family." He shrugged and said, "I'll do my chore chart, and get my allowance!"

9. He loves the colors red and orange.
 This surprised me too. I asked him what colors he wanted to paint with and I assumed he would pick blue or green, or so-called boy colors. As he happily smeared red and orange all over his plate, I resolved to not limit his creativity and not freak out if he gets messy. Having a boy has been so different from having a girl. My daughter is a perfectionist. She colors in the lines, cares about order, follows the rules, and listens to what I and her dad tell her to do. My son, not so much. But for all his silliness he can be so sweet, for all his stubbornness he is smart and it is a privilege being his mommy.

10. I'm the "best mommy ever!"
Needs no explanation. ; )

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Great Summer Freebies

Consumer Reports ShopSmart has uncovered dozens and dozens of ways to score free stuff in six categories: skills and services; snacks and more; classes; fun times; books, music and more; and other surprising stuff.   Below are some warm-weather suitable products and services from different categories that adults and kids can enjoy without paying for them: 

  • Bowling.  Head to to register little ones to enjoy two daily games of bowling all summer at participating alleys.  Some places even throw in a free shoe rental.
  • Internet Service.  Want to stay connected while on the go this summer?  The Wi-Fi Finder app (free for Android and Apple) finds no-charge connections nearby.
  • Frozen Treats.  Head to Ben & Jerry’s on Father’s Day (June 16th) to see if dad can get a free scoop of ice cream.  Stop by 7-Eleven on July 11 to score a free Slurpee.
  • Kid Food.  Search the KidsMealsDeals app (free for Android, Apple and BlackBerry)  daily to find nearby no-cost bites.
  • Movies.  A few independent theaters and chains, including Clearview Cinemas and Cinemaworld, screen movies for kids; seating is first come, first served, and some theaters require a paid adult admission. Regal Cinemas only charge $1 for kids movies Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am.  And, as the temperatures heat up, many cities turn parks into movie theaters with sunset film screenings.
  • Outdoor Skills.  Get out and enjoy the weather.  Some REI locations offer no-charge instruction on bike maintenance, mountain-climbing prep, and a lot more.  Check a local store for more information or go to
  • Park Visits.  More than half of the country’s national parks are free and all will be free on August 25th in honor of the National Park Service birthday.  Check online for other free days offered throughout the year.
  • Workout Sessions.  Stay in shape this summer with no financial commitment.  Check online to see if a municipality offers group fitness classes at their local recreation centers and parks – as some do. Fresno PARCS has a free nutrition and fitness summer camp for kids in danger of obesity/diabetes.
Paying a Price for Free Stuff
Free stuff is awesome, but ShopSmart advises consumers not to be lax with their personal information to get it.  Here are three things to do when signing up for freebies:
  1. Read privacy policies.  Consumers shouldn’t provide information they aren’t comfortable sharing and be especially careful when it comes to children.  For example, with birthday clubs, it may make sense to use initials instead of full names.
  1. Check the fine print.  Freebies aren’t free if consumers are required to sign up and pay for something else.  The Federal Trade Commission cautions that certain companies that use payment info to sign consumers up for stuff make cancelling extremely difficult, hiding the info in tiny, out-of-the-way type.  Watch for prechecked (opt-out) boxes on sign-up forms.
  2. Use a credit card.  If payment info is required, use a credit card.  The Fair Credit Billing Act makes it easier to stop payments.  Check statements after cancelling. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why I'm Vowing Not to Buy Any Makeup for 6 Months

    I am a self-admitted makeup hoarder. Consumer Reports conducted a recent survey and found 20% of women have six or more unused products hanging around. By definition, that'd be me. Except multiple that by 10.

    At first glance, you might look at this picture and think oh, that's Christine's makeup case... which makes sense, since I'm in the TV business, and it's my job to look good even in the face of HD TV cameras.

     Truth be told, this is my backup supply. It sits under my sink, just in case Armageddon happens and all makeup supplies get destroyed. If there was a house fire, I'd grab it (after my kids and my wedding album, of course). This is the result of years of acquiring products through freebies and buying things that I THOUGHT I needed but have yet to open/use. (Darn those tempting Ulta coupons!!!)
I have a whole separate makeup bag that I actually use on a daily basis for work.

 So I challenged myself to:

#1. Organize my makeup by function, and wittle down my supply by throwing out any expired products. Apparently the shelf life of mascara is 4 months, not years! Check out this helpful guideline.

#2. Take inventory of what I have (4 mascaras, 4 eyeliners, 4 blush/bronzers, 2 eyeshadow palettes, 3 primers, 3 BB creams, 2 foundations, 1 powder, 2 lip pencils, 6 lip glosses and 3 lipsticks.) This is not counting the creams, potions and perfume samples that I've also been hoarding.

 #3. Not buy any additional makeup for six months, and instead use only what I already have... even if the color isn't EXACTLY right or I don't absolutely love the product. Who know, I may discover new favorites along the way?

#4. Blog about my challenge and encourage other women to do the same and let me know how it goes. I've already spoken to my gorgeous, makeup savvy fellow hoarders, I mean, colleagues, Margot Kim and Graciela Moreno and by chance, they're both doing the same thing. Think how much money we're saving!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Back to the Manic Mondays, and Tuesdays, and Wednesdays...

I knew the end of winter break was coming. Dreading the epic morning battles to get out of the house in time for school and work. A wiser mom might have maintained a more regular sleep schedule for the kids during the two weeks off, but no, I let them sleep in til 8 or 9 and stay up past their bedtimes too. Needless to say, Monday was a nightmare. I had to resort to dragging my daughter by the ankles out of bed while alternately cajoling and comforting my cranky 3-year-old son who told me, "Don't bother me, go to work, mommy."

But even more than the mornings... I was dreading the how-does-a-working-mom-make-dinner-for-her-family-in-between-dance-and-tennis dilemma that many of us face every weeknight. I scored Monday night with an easy chicken pot pie recipe. Ready made pie crusts, cream of chicken soup, milk, frozen veggies and chicken... and voila! Almost as good as Marie Callender's!

And just like that, I was out of ideas. There are only so many times we can eat spaghetti and tacos. Enter the late Mr. Food. Regardless of what you thought of his slightly creepy "OOH, it's so good!" tagline, the man was a genius at cooking shortcuts. Some of you my turn up your noses at some of his recipes, but even this wannabe foodie ain't too proud to beg.

The folks at Mr. Food's Test Kitchen are offering his Easy Weeknight Dinners: 20 Recipes for the Busy Cook cookbook for free. They've got plenty of simple dinner recipes that'll get you through your hectic schedule. Plus, they say it's a triple-tested guarantee, so you can be sure that all of the recipes included in this free eCookbook are going to turn out right the very first time you make it.

So here you go busy readers! I haven't tried any yet, but let me know if you do and I'll do the same!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child

I don't know about you, but the combination of the holidays and the kids being off from school made for a few er, tense moments at my house. I mean, how was I supposed to cook up a gourmet Christmas Eve meal to wow my dozen or so guests with my daughter and son running underfoot every five minutes in the kitchen? There are only so many episodes of Caillou and Jake and the Neverland Pirates to act as a babysitter before they get bored. I think more than one threatening, "Go play, or else!" escaped my lips.

But there were also some magical moments when I was truly able to savor being a mother to my children, without the stress of having to get up early for school or work or the pressure of making dance or tennis lessons on time. We made and decorated gingerbread cookies without worrying about the colossal frosting mess. We acted out portions of their favorite movie of the moment, Brave. We had dance parties. We watched in wonder as huge snowflakes fell and made a "snow horse" with seats for the whole family to ride on.

This is what I hope my kids remember about their childhood. Not when I snapped at them in exasperation for the mess in their playroom. I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but I think I'm always trying to be a better mother. So I thought I'd re-post a great article from the Creative with Kids blog about 100 ways to be kind to your child. We could all use reminders on how much our words and actions can mean to our little ones.

Tell to your child:

1. I love you.

2. love you no matter what.

3. I love you even when you are angry at me.

4. I love you even when I am angry with you.

5. I love you when you are far way. My love for you can reach you wherever you are.

6. If I could pick any 4 year old (5 year old, 6 year old…) in the whole wide world, I’d pick you.

7. I love you to the moon and then around the stars and back again.

8. Thank you.

9. I enjoyed playing with you today.

10. My favorite part of the day was when I was with you and we _______.

Tell them:

11. The story of their birth or adoption.

12. About how you cuddled them when they were a baby.

13. The story of their name.

14. A story about yourself when you were their age.

15. The story of how their grandparents met.

16. What your favorite color is.

17. That sometimes you struggle too.

18. That when you’re holding hands and you give three squeezes, it’s a secret code that means, “I love you”.

19. What the plan is.

20. What you’re doing right now.


21. Freeze Tag

22. Uno

23. Crazy 8s

24. Gin Rummy

25. Memory

26. Go Fish

27. I Spy- especially when you’re tired of driving and feel snappish

28. Catch


29. To catch their kiss and put it on your cheek.

30. That their tickle tank is empty and you have to fill it.

31. That their high five is so powerful it nearly knocks you over.

32. That you are super ticklish.

33. That you are explorers in the amazing world of your own backyard.

34. That it’s party day!


35. To get enough sleep.

36. To drink enough water.

37. To eat decent food.

38. Dressing in a way that makes you feel confident and comfortable.

39. Calling a friend the next time you feel like you are about to lose it with the kids.

40. Giving a gentle touch to show approval, rather than saying something.

41. Dancing in the kitchen.

42. To get your kids to bop to the music with you in the car.

43. Showing your kids that you can do a somersault or handstand or a cartwheel.

44. Keeping the sigh to yourself. Just jump in and help clean up.

45. Using a kind voice, even if you have to fake it.


46. A book of silly poems.

47. A book and then act it out. (Like “I’m going on a Bear Hunt”)

48. Your favorite childhood book to them.

49. When the afternoon is starting to go astray.

50. Outside under a tree.

51. In the library kids corner.

52. The comic book they love that you’re not so hot on.

53. About age appropriate behavior so you can keep your expectations realistic.


54. To your child in the car.

55. To that Lego description, and think how important it is to your child.

56. For that question that indicates your child really needs your input.

57. One second longer than you think you have patience for.

58. For the feelings behind your child’s words.


59. Why do you think that happens?

60. What do you think would happen if______?

61. How shall we find out?

62. What are you thinking about?

63. What was your favorite part of the day?

64. What do you think this tastes like?


65. Your child how to do something instead of banning them from it.

66. How to whistle with a blade of grass.

67. How to shuffle cards- make a bridge if you can!

68. How to cut food.

69. How to fold laundry.

70. How to look up information when you don’t know the answer.

71. Affection to your spouse.

72. That taking care of yourself is important.

Take Time:

73. To watch construction sites.

74. To look at the birds.

75. To allow your child to help you dump ingredients in the bowl.

76. To walk places together.

77. To dig in the dirt together.

78. To do a task at your child’s pace.

79. To just sit with you child while they play.


80. That your child is capable.

81. That you are the right parent for your child.

82. That you are enough.

83. That you can do what is right for your family.

Delight your child:

84. Clean your child’s room as a surprise.

85. Put chocolate chips in the pancakes.

86. Put a love note in their lunch.

87. Make their snack into a smile face shape.

88. Make sounds effects while you help them do something.

89. Sit on the floor with them to play.

Let Go:

90. Of the guilt.

91. Of how you thought it was going to be.

92. Of your need to be right.


93. A kind look.

94. A smile when your child walks into the room.

95. A kind touch back when your child touches you.

96. The chance to connect before you correct so that your child can actually hear your words.

97. Your child a chance to work out their frustrations before helping them.

98. A bath when the day feels long.

99. A hug.

100. You get to choose the next one! What is your favorite way to be kind to your child?