Category Archives: Real Life

Parenting Your Child, Parenting Yourself-Age Appropriate Jobs Through Age 9

Phyllis Dillar once said, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.”

Until your youngest child is around 9 years old, don’t focus on how neat the house is. Focus on training your children to pick up after themselves and take care of themselves. Training a child to do household work has to begin at a young age. Although training an older child is possible, the difficulty of doing so rises proportionally with the age of the child.

Here is a guideline. This is only a guideline. I do not attempt to include everything for every age. Also, some children can do some jobs at an earlier age while some children are not ready for certain jobs at the same age. Some children are more independent than others. Tailor the expectations to the individual child.

Age 2:  Can put away toys with A LOT of help. This may mean that the parent puts away most of the toys, and the child puts away one or two toys. When my children were this age, I purchased totes. Dress-up went in one tote, dolls, clothing and accessories went in another tote, cars, ramps, street signs etc., went into a third tote, etc. Don’t waste time trying to sort. Grouping like items together will help your child with organizational skills, which will lead to success in math, English, and science later in life.

Age 3/4: Can put away toys with some help. This means the parent puts away around half the toys and the child puts away half the toys. I want to emphasize that at this age, the parent and child have to do this together. A parent telling a child, “Pick up your toys,” can be overwhelming to a child. Also, you are modeling to the child how to do the task. Other skills the child can work to master: choosing his/her own clothes, folding wash cloths, drying/sorting silverware, measuring ingredients and mixing them in a bowl. Again, these skills will lead to success in school. The key at this age is to be consistent, perform the task with the child, and expect the child to do the task immediately when told to do so.

Age 5/6: At this age, supervision is extremely important. Can put away toys without help. The parent has to say, “Go into the living room and pick up your toys.” At this age, the child is still too young for the parent to say, “After supper, pick up your toys.” The child simply will not remember to do this and does not have the self-discipline to do it even if s/he does remember.  Children at this age can also pick out outfits for school, fold wash clothes/towels, unload the dishwasher (This depends on the storage situation. I, personally, do not recommend for children to stand on chairs to put away dishes.), put his/her own dishes in the dishwasher, follow a simple recipe with help. I do not recommend for a child to put items in the oven at this age. I also do not recommend for children of this age to cook on the stove. I did not allow my children to use the stove until they could reach the pans comfortably while standing in front of it. Also, they had to demonstrate the self-control necessary to avoid injury.

Age 7-9: I want to emphasize, at the age, the child must be supervised by an adult when performing these tasks, but the child should be able to perform the tasks independently. By this age, the child can do all of the above (except put items in the oven/cook on the stove) and should be able to follow a simple routine. The child probably will not be able to unload the dishwasher at five-o’clock, pick up toys at seven-o’clock, and take a bath at seven-thirty. However, the child can be trained to unload the dishwasher when s/he gets home from school, pick up toys immediately after supper, and take a bath after picking up toys. The child can also begin to be responsible for his/her own school supplies. I trained my children to leave their backpacks by the front door when they arrived home. At a certain time, I instructed them to remove any graded papers/letters to home, etc., from their backpacks and place them on the table. Then, they did their homework. After homework was finished, they placed the backpack by the door again. In the morning, all they had to do was grab the backpack on their way out.


Parenting Your Child, Parenting Yourself–Children’s Schedules

With the school year approaching, and my writing becoming more prolific, my husband and I need schedules, not only for ourselves, but also for our children. This post presupposes  a couple of things: first, you, as the parent, have established appropriate authority over your child, and two, that you have already trained your child to do whatever jobs which you schedule them to do.

At the beginning of the summer, my husband and I agreed on a schedule for our children–one adult daughter who just graduated from college and is living at home temporarily, and one teen daughter who will be a senior in high school. Since then, we have been working with our daughters, and each other, to make the schedule fit our needs.

Notice, first and foremost, the schedules for our daughters fit the needs of my husband and me, not the needs of our children. That is important. The parents have to be the first and foremost consideration in the schedule. Of course, you will see that your children’s needs are met, but too often, parents make their schedules revolve around their children, neglecting their own needs.

The schedule is in the form of a chart. Each daughter has her own chart with a rotating schedule of jobs. Here is a sample:

Daughter One
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Morning Jobs Finish Before Leaving House


Clean Cat Litter Boxes/Empty Trash Clear/Load


Clean Cat Litter Boxes/Empty Trash Clear/Load


Clean Cat Litter Boxes/Empty Trash
Afternoon Jobs Finish Before 8:00 p.m. Unless Otherwise Noted
Make Supper: Must Be Done By 6:00 p.m. Wash/Dry/Put Away One Load Towels Clean Downstairs Bathroom Vacuum Living Area


Daughter Two
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Morning Jobs Finish Before Leaving House
Clean Cat Litter Boxes/Empty Trash Clear/Load


Clean Cat Litter Boxes/Empty Trash Clear/Load


Clean Cat Litter Boxes/Empty Trash Clear/Load


Afternoon Jobs Finish Before 8:00 p.m. Unless Otherwise Noted
Vacuum Living Area Make Supper: Must Be Done by 6:00 p.m. Clean Upstairs Bathroom Wash/Dry/Put Away One Load Towels

Note: The schedule is flexible. If one daughter has a commitment on the night she is scheduled to make supper, she can change to a different night–as long as she works that out with my husband and me ahead of time.

Once the younger daughter starts extra-curricular activities, the schedule can work around her homework and activities. The older daughter’s schedule can work around her part-time job.

The above schedule assumes a few things. First, my daughters do all of their own laundry. They also clean up their own kitchen messes. They don’t leave books, papers, etc., lying around the house. They also have jobs feeding the animals, etc., which I didn’t list on the chore chart simply because they have been doing those for so long that they are assumed.

If you want to establish a schedule/routine, for your family, I suggest starting now, before school starts, or as soon after school starts as possible. Watch for my next post, “What are age appropriate expectations for children?”





Sh**in’ Bricks–OOPS!–Sh**in’ Rocks

So, I have Hieu Tran’s paperwork–Yep! The original documents–the very papers he brought from Vietnam when he was twelve, the papers from when he was adopted, from when he became an American citizen–THE ORIGINAL PAPERS!

Am I nervous to be in possession of such valuable documents?

For the answer, please play the above “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” clip.

I went to a professional place to have copies made, impressing upon them the value of the documents. They came back to me unharmed.

If something does happen to the papers, I do have contingency plans:

This pic actually goes with #2, but I don’t have a pic for #1, so I put it here.
  1. I keep the papers with me in a fire-proof lock-box at all times. If the house catches fire, I will throw the box with the papers out the window and yell to the firemen, “If I don’t make it, give this to Hieu Tran!”


2. If my dog, or my friend’s dog (See pic.), gets the papers and destroys them, I will blame my brother John. Here is the story. We were at a birthday party.  When the candles were lit, my brother decided to do his version of St. Elmo’s Fire. He shot hairspray across the flames. The resulting fireball caught Hieu’s papers on fire, and they burned.


3. I can always use the classic “Alien Abduction” excuse. I was abducted. Space Aliens took the papers. Now, they are coming after Hieu.

I am in the process of arranging a hand-off of the papers at an undisclosed location. Until then, just refer to the “Christmas Vacation” video–that about sums it up.

Thank you for reading! Please “Like” my Facebook author page by clicking on the link in the margin. Please also visit Hieu Tran’s memoir page, , and join Hieu Tran’s Facebook memoir group.

See Ya!

I Love A Mystery–First Post on Hieu’s Website

Plot Holes

This post is linked to my first post on Hieu Tran’s Website. It involves plot holes and solving the Great Mysteries of Hieu’s Past.

Click on the following link, or copy and paste it into your browser.


As always, please “Like” my Facebook page and subscribe to this blog. Please do the same for Hieu when you visit his site.

Thank you for reading!

See ya!

The Secrets

This contains spoilers, so please watch the film before reading this if you don’t want to know what happens.

I am working on an Old Testament romance. In researching this story, I am hoping to watch some Jewish movies to learn more about the Jewish culture. The Secrets is a movie I hoped would help me. It is entirely in Hebrew with English subtitles.

Although I watched the entire movie, I am disappointed in this film for several reasons.

1. It never tells how the woman killed the man.

2. It portrays the Jewish religion as a cold and uncaring society run by harsh, unmerciful men.  When the murderess approaches the rabbi to ask him to help her seek God’s forgiveness, we see him hollering at her and driving her away. Later, when the girls try to help this woman, they are threatened with expulsion.

What we don’t see, but find out later in the movie, is that the woman is not truly sorry for sinning against God, even though at the beginning she says she is. Some people may argue that what she did wasn’t sinful. If a person does something and believes it is sinful, then it is sinful because the person is deliberately going against what s/he believes God does not want. The woman thought what she did was sinful because she talks about it and says she cannot regret it. Also, earlier in the movie, the woman states that the very same things were sinful.

In our society, we may have difficulty understanding that the girls face expulsion, not for trying to help the woman, but for doing what the Jewish religion specifically states (in the movie) to be a man’s job. “Well, that’s not right,” our society might say. That is truly not ours to judge unless we are Jewish.

3.  The girl who “snitches” on the other girls, is actually in the right, not for snitching, but for telling the girls that their ceremony is blasphemy and for trying to stop the ceremony. This girl is portrayed as a cruel, tattling hypocrite who does not care for the woman or for the girls. She actually cares a lot and wants to prevent all of them from sinning against God. And, she is right, a person cannot be forgiven if s/he isn’t sorry for what s/he did.

On a separate note, I do admire the courage of the main characters. They risked expulsion to give the woman some measure of peace before she died. I feel the lady in charge of the girls’ school would have been more lenient toward the girls, and even approved of the girls’ actions, if the rabbi had not become so angry and threatened to shut down the school.

For updates on my progress on the OldTestament romance, please “Like” my Facebook page and/or subscribe to my website.

I welcome any positive or negative feedback on the above review as long as it is stated in a respectful way, so let me know what you think.

Thank you for reading, and See Ya!

Project Memoir: Interviews

Hieu and Me Working on the Memoir Over Coffee

Hieu and I get together regularly to do interviews for his memoir. This generally includes me turning on a digital recorder to record his answers to my prepared questions.

Hieu has also given me a list of people to interview. I also include them.

So far, I have interviewed his former teacher, Mike. (I am only using first names unless the person is a public figure.)

One of the first teachers to have Hieu in class when Hieu started school after being adopted.

One of his best friends, David.

David and Hieu became friends when Hieu first started school, and they are still friends today.

And another former teacher/guidance counselor, Mayor Brenda Stadholt.

Mayor Brenda Stadsholt was Hieu’s guidance counselor and teacher.

Some people remember a lot about Hieu, some don’t remember as much. Sometimes one sentence, one memory, opens doors to topics which HIeu and I have not considered.

When I interview these people, I set the recorder on the table, turn it on, and say, “Tell me about Hieu.” Inevitably, all of the people touch on the themes of Hieu’s book, which, according to them, he lives out in his everyday life. They talk about these themes without me mentioning them, which tells me Hieu is the genuine article.

After the interview, I transcribe the person’s dialogue into my computer. Later, I will weave them into Hieu’s memoir: a story everyone will benefit from reading.

Please “Like” my Facebook page by clicking on the link in the margin. Also, please visit Hieu’s website: and join his Facebook group for the latest news about the memoir.

Thank you for reading, and See Ya!


I have a “talking” cat. Her official name is Daneryus Stormborn Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains. We just call her Daeney. Whenever we turn on the water, she comes running over, “talking,” telling us she wants a drink. She also “talks” when she is hungry, wants out of a room, or greets us when we arrive at home. Let me know if you have a “talking” cat, and what your cat says.

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Three Shades of Midnight by Hargrove Perth

Three Shades of Midnight by Hargrove Perth

My author/friend Hargrove Perth has a new book out called “Three Shades of Midnight.” If you have some time, please go to the following link to vote for her book to be chosen by kindlescout.




Sand Storm (Sufat Chol-Original Title)


As part of my research for the Old Testament romance I am writing, I am watching foreign films located in places similar to the Sinai Desert. These films reflect the lives of women in a patriarchal society where females have little or no perceivable power. Living this way is especially painful for the women who have been exposed to a society where women have opportunities to decide the directions of their lives for themselves.

Sand Storm is about a young woman, Layla, caught in the tangle of choices this knowledge affords. Throughout the film, she struggles with the choice of whether to leave her family-forever-, and their ages old traditions and laws, to strike out in a new direction or to stay with her family whom she loves and abide by the rules and restrictions of their society.

Layla’s mother, Jalila, has struggles of her own. Her husband has just taken a second, younger and more beautiful wife, and her oldest daughter, Layla, appears to be striking out in a direction which both fascinates and terrifies Jalila. Jalila’s smoldering anger at her husband’s indifference and neglect make the movie difficult to watch.

One overriding theme of this movie is the potential women have if they join together and the pain caused by women’s failure to do so. So many times, women are overcome by jealousy and bitterness toward other women that has nothing to do with those women. For example: a woman may be jealous because another woman has a loving relationship with her husband while the first woman’s marriage lacks the intimacy she craves. Another example: a woman may be jealous because she perceives another woman to be more beautiful than she is. Like women everywhere, if the women in this movie: Layla, Jalila, and the second wife, would band together, they could make positive changes that would benefit all of them. If the women in this movie choose to project their insecurities and unhappiness on each other, they will remain mired in the muck that is their lives. You will have to watch the movie to see which these three women choose.

I really liked this movie, and I plan to watch it again. It is a Netflix original and won awards from the Sundance Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Israeli Film Academy among many others.

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I spent about an hour and a half yesterday reading two books:  This Must Be My Brother  by Leann Thieman and Carol Dey  and The Vietnamese Boat People, 1954 and 1975–1992
by Nghia M. Vo .  I vaguely remember the first story, so I either read the book when I was younger or watched a show on television about it. The story takes place over the course of two days and is a fast, easy read. The second book is more in-depth. I am probably going to have to read it two or three times to really understand what it is saying.

Writing a book takes a lot more than just sitting down and putting words on paper. Any book, even a fiction book, takes time, research, planning, and time. If you are writing a book, give yourself time to make it the best it possibly can be before publishing it. Taking the time and necessary steps will be worth it, to you, and to your readers.