Christine Park

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Apology to Friends Without Kids

I just finished watching this hilarious vlog post by What's Up Moms' Elle Walker, which has totally gone viral now. In it, she explains through her inner monologue, why it's so hard staying in touch and maintaining her friendships with people who don't have kids. Her toddler spills grated cheese in the time it takes Elle to text, sits on her baby brother when she isn't looking, and Elle nods off mid-conversation with her visiting girlfriend. Good Morning America featured the video and the ensuing controversy this morning. I guess some folks were offended, calling it a slap in the face. GMA also asked in a poll, "Can parents stay close friends with people who don't have kids?" 73% said yes, 27% said no. Their parenting expert, Dr. Robyn Silverman, said people took offense because the video made them feel their lives weren't as important or significant just because they didn't have children.

First off, LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE. It's a light-hearted, funny take on the challenges parents face. And part of the way parents cope with the insanity of seemingly simple tasks made impossible by a screaming toddler (like trying to force said toddler to wear clothes and shoes when leaving the house), is with humor. We like to laugh at ourselves and commiserate. But do we feel that our friends without kids can relate? Not at all. That's why this video helps. It gives them an insight into the fact that when I say, "I'm so sorry, it's been so crazy lately." It literally means, "As soon as I got the call from my kid's school that my daughter was sick, she has not stopped puking, and I have not had a moment to put the barf bucket down to text you back." Does it mean I don't value your time? No. Does it mean I don't value our friendship? No. Does it mean I want you to feel sorry for me? No. It just means, "I would love to catch up with you, and I am craving adult conversation about something other than the color and consistency of my daughter's stool, but can I take a rain check?"

Oh those crazy days that are now just a foggy memory, when I had a newborn and a toddler that wanted to act like a newborn. When sleep was just a cruel tease. And I was consumed with nursing the baby and potty training all at the same time.

I've always been the only one of my best friends that had kids. I remember feeling really bad (and sad) when they would invite me to happy hours, weekends in Vegas, or vacations to Mexico and I couldn't just pick up and leave. I REALLY wanted to, but I had new obligations and priorities. I didn't expect them to understand, since they didn't have children. And after awhile, they stopped asking. At first I was hurt, but then I was relieved that I didn't have to keep turning them down. Now I just live vicariously through their Facebook posts. We are still best friends. It's about making an effort, even if that effort isn't always successful. They have been great "aunties" to my kids. They've attended baby showers and the kids' birthdays, sent them gifts. Even inspired their requests for a puppy (thanks a lot Anj). I know I need to be a better friend when it comes to calling and catching up. After the kids are in bed, we've been known to squeeze in a conversation or two, when I'm really able to listen without constantly being interrupted. And I do try to get away and make an effort to have girls weekends every now and then. It just requires more advance planning and notice. 

As you can see... I made it to Mexico with the girls after all:

I love that part in Elle's vlog where she says: "In a few years, I'll make it all up to you with some bad advice from someone who will never judge..." Trust me: I am just counting down the days til my girls have kids of their own, and I can just knowingly smile and say, "Welcome to my world. What took you so long?" And they'll be glad they have a friend who's gone through the mommy madness, and will understand when they can't come out for a drink. (I'll bring the wine over to her house instead)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring Cleaning Your Closet

I have a lot of clothes. (The first step to overcoming an addiction is admitting you have a problem, right?)
Except, I wouldn't call having a lot of clothes a 
problem, per se. It's actually a necessity due to my career. My job requires that I have a lot of professional-looking outfits. And it would be an anchorwoman faux pas to repeat outfits too often. I try to console my husband, by explaining that nothing was bought at full price. So that I'm actually SAVING him money. Yeah, he doesn't buy that line either. He started to get fed up when the closet we shared, was more like a 90/10 split. "Can't you get rid of some of the stuff you don't wear anymore?" As if!!! But he was right. So this photo is a snapshot of how the dress section of my closet looked before my spring cleaning. A hodgepodge of hangers, clothes crammed together.

I didn't want to invest in an entire closet system. And I wasn't about to get my dream walk-in closet.Some people pin vacation spots on their Pinterest boards, but *this* is my happy place. Every now and then, I look at this photo to fantasize about what I'd really like to do with the space that is my guest room or hubby's office.

So I figured a really affordable way to organize and create more room in my existing closets would be to change out the hangers. Costco happened to have these no slip, space-saving hangers at $9.99 for a box of 35. I bought a few... hundred. Then I proceeded to swap out every single one of my hangers, color coordinating and purging the stuff I longer wear along the way. What do you know? The closet space is now more of a 70/30 split and I can actually find stuff now. Hubby was happy, happier. And I was pretty pleased with my $100 investment. Now I can turn my attention to my jewelry. But organizing that collection would require its own blog post!

Here is an after photo of the same space. Better, right?  Just so happens, the good folks at Consumer Reports did an article on low-cost closet fixes in their June 2014 issue. Here are some good ideas:

 Free or super-cheap:

  • Mason jars can be used to stash rolled-up belts, tights, and scarves.
  • Corkboards provide easy-access to jewelry particularly necklaces, earrings and bracelets; use decorative pushpins to dress it up.
  • Ice cube trays are sized just right for earrings and other small jewelry items, and they’re stackable.
  • Rubber bands can secure bulky items (such as a puffy down vest or jacket) that have to be rolled up tightly.
$25 or less:

  • Rubbermaid Flex Tote storage boxes, $8 ( can be filled with cotton items and is easier to squeeze into tight spaces than traditional storage boxes.
  • Hanger Hamper, $9 ( is a triangular bin that stores extra hangers neatly without tangling; the triangle shape nestles neatly into the corner of a closet.
  • 3M Command Hooks, $3 ( can be hung anywhere in a closet where there is a little space to hang robes, nighties, necklaces, and more.
  • Acrylic shelf dividers, $17 each ( keep T-shirts, jeans, and sweaters neatly stacked on a shelf; they can also prop handbags upright and don’t add visual clutter.

Best Closet Systems
Do-it-yourself closet kits can save shoppers hundreds of dollars over professionally installed systems.  ShopSmart  put  those  designed  for  a  six-foot  wide  closet  from  ClosetMaid,  Elfa,  Ikea, Martha Stewart, and Rubbermaid to the test.  Here’s a look at two of the winners:

Best Overall: Platinum Elfa Reach-In, $560 ( This system held all of the stuff without anything getting smooshed, plus it was the easiest and fastest unit to install (taking 35 minutes), with minimal drilling.  There is a lot of customer support – online and video directions are clear. 

Best for small closets: Rubbermaid Homefree Series, $90 ( This kit was the cheapest of the bunch and held all the stuff.  It was also fairly easy to put together, though installation time took more than an hour.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What do I do with all these photos on my phone?

I am so tired of getting this message on my phone -- reminding me that once again, I've clogged up my memory space. I can't launch my camera. I can't launch apps. Then I'm desperately trying to delete non-essential photos and videos so I can create even more memories I'll eventually have to delete. Repeat.

OK, so I have over a thousand photos and videos on my phone. Is that excessive? This, despite the fact that just last month, I transferred what I had onto my laptop. For most of us, our phones or tablets have become our go-to devices for documenting life. A small percentage of those digital memories actually get printed or shared. The other day, a friend of mine told me she lost thousands and thousands of her photos when her computer crashed. My heart sank. When was the last time I'd backed up my pics? I would be devastated if I lost my daughter's first piano recital, my son's first T-ball game, my anniversary in Napa.

To ease my mind, my hubby bought me an external hard drive years ago. I have always had an inherent dislike for the thing. It's inexplicable, really. But my two biggest beefs: It's not automatic (I have to be reminded to sit down and back up my stuff) and I can't access my content unless I'm hardwired to it.

For that, there's always a "cloud" service like Apple's iCloud which gives you 5GB of free storage (you can buy more storage). iCloud lets you access your photos, documents, and music from whatever device you're on. It's easy to set up and use. iCloud automatically backs up your phone daily over Wi-Fi when your device is connected to a power source. There are a ton of cool features, including the "find my iPhone" feature and the password keychain to help you remember everything. 

There are a lot of cloud storage options: Google Drive offers 15GB of free space. Dropbox only 2GB. Amazon Cloud Drive 5GB. All offer premium upgrade options, if you want to buy more space.

But with convenience also comes concern. I've always been uneasy about the idea of my personal photos and documents floating around on a server somewhere. There for the taking by hackers or even the government. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but privacy advocates warn cloud security is a challenge.

For me, the perfect solution is Western Digital's My Book Live Personal Cloud Storage: essentially, your own personal cloud. You can save everything in one place and access it from anywhere with your PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet. Protect your files with automatic file backup for all your computers. And with direct file uploads from your mobile devices, all your important photos are safely stored on your personal cloud. Their consumer version "My Cloud" costs $150 for 2TB to $180 for 3TB and $220 for  4TB. In my opinion, a small price to pay for a ton of space and the security and privacy and convenience of your own personal cloud.