This is the post excerpt.




Tidying Up?

Have you all seen the new show on Netflix that everyone is raving about?  It’s called Tidying up with Marie.  She’s a darling little Japanese lady that goes to the homes of families to help them “tidy up” their home.

I’d heard about it on the radio.  I heard about it from friends.  It came with high recommendations.  Living in a 900 square foot town home, I am always looking for ways to streamline my storage as there isn’t much here.  After delaying seeing the show, I finally sat down with the girl to watch it.  I was sure she’d bail on me in the first 10 minutes.  But she didn’t.  Hmmm, I thought to myself, maybe she’ll learn something!  You see, I’m not the neatest person in the world but I look like it compared to her!

On with the show.  Marie entered the families home.  She seemed very sweet and kind.  The family was elated to have her there, along with her interpreter.  As we watched episode one, I first had to get myself over my distaste for the wife.  I’m sorry, but if she had said “Babe” to her husband one more time…well, I won’t go there.  I usually love terms of endearments between people but there seemed to be a lot of “attitude” behind it.  Strike one.

The first thing Marie did was to invite the family to sit on the floor with her to thank the house.  We spent what seemed like hours while they sat in silence and thanked the house.  I know I was rolling my eyes but the girl was entranced so we stayed with it.

Next up, she demonstrated some great ways to fold clothing so that you can literally stand it up in your dresser drawers.  Absolutely genius for babies clothes, teen clothes, basically, rather tiny peoples clothes and tanks, scarves and undies for the more endowed people.  I think I could use some of her ideas for towels and washcloths too, if I had a drawer to put them in.

The next challenge was huge!  They had to pull out ALL of their clothes from the closet and lay them on the bed.  Now, the husband and wife had their own closets in different bedrooms.  Let me tell you, you couldn’t see any of the bed when the wife got done with her closet.  I imagine it would be the same for the most of us.  I could get into this part if it meant putting less back into the closet.  Which they did. However, I could not buy off on the process.  Marie instructed them to hold each piece of clothing in their hands, one at a time.  If the item “sparked joy” in them, they could keep it.  If no joy was sparked, they were to thank and even kiss the item before they placed it into a donate pile. I can. not. do. that.  By the tenth or fifteenth time of hearing “spark joy,” I am unashamed to admit I was ready to pull my hair out!

From clothing, they went onto books, the kitchen and sentimental items.  The people got rid of a lot of things.  But I went to sleep chanting “spark joy.”  I woke up crabby.

The next day, the girl turned it on again. OK, I thought, perhaps I didn’t give it a fair chance so I sat down and joined her.  It basically just echoed everything from the first episode, just with a new family.  I didn’t fair any better through this one.  It caused great irritation in me.  It did NOT “spark any joy” in me so I got up and left.  The girl remained.

Today, with it being minus 53 degrees outside, I elected not to go into work. I was fearful my car wouldn’t start when it was time to come home.  The girl and I chose to have a pajama/cleaning day.  Together we cleaned the kitchen and living room.  Then it was upstairs, I scrubbed the tub and shower as she was doing laundry.  And then it happened, she needed more hangers so into her closet she went!  I was being quite snarky when I hollered out “Go through yours clothes and get rid of anything that doesn’t “spark joy” within you.  I got a smart response but guess what? She did it!  She came to me with a shirt and said it doesn’t “spark joy.”  I almost threw up in my mouth but I controlled myself and said ” Yeah!  Get rid of it!”  And lo and behold, she continued the process.  Enough so, that I got to get into her closet to help her clean it up enough so we can, once again, walk into it!

So I guess I need to apologize to Marie.  In the end, the process did spark a little joy in me.  However, I won’t be tuning back in.  I’m not new age.  I’m old age.

Shine On!


I’m Still Here…

Just when I think I might shut this old mouth down, someone jumps in and asks me why I haven’t been making updates.  I can’t express to you how good that makes me feel.

This is my third blog.  Each time I start one, I have a certain route I would like it to take.  A certain feel, a certain nuance. A certain purpose.  Somehow, they always go off the rail for me.  I guess it’s like life itself, we are never 100% in where we will go.

I haven’t updated about the boy in quite sometime.  I really haven’t had any big news to share.  One good thing, the house manager that started this rift is gone.  I wish she had been terminated (shame on me) but she quit.  I’m really just glad she is gone.  I don’t expect any major changes because of it but I’m just glad to know she’s out of there.  The county reports he still asks about us (his sister and I) and once in a great while he will say something about coming home.  The case manager is confident all will be well, one day.  The sad news is that our dear case manager will be leaving.  She herself is disgusted by many things the county has or hasn’t done. She has been a great support for me and I will miss her.  I am very sad but I will wish her well.  As with anything, time and patience will hopefully pay off.

And now for the girl.  Sadly, I have nothing new to report with her either!  Transportation issues still casts it’s ugly head upon us.  They keep coming up with, what sounds like to us, one excuse after another.  The consensus is we may have to look at alternate programming which would a real shame.  The program she is in is the best of the best locally but more importantly, she loved it there and they loved her as an employee.

I managed to leave my job as a para without being a complete mess, at least in front of others.  I had a very heavy heart walking out that last day.  I felt like I was turning my back on the students I love and the staff I adore.  I know I’m easily replaceable but I truly love those students and I always will.

The transition would have been much harder had I not had a great job to go to.  I am learning a lot and always busy.  Something not many people realize is that it is very hard to find time to go to the bathroom when you are a para.  Now, that I can go whenever I’d like, I find I have to force myself to move away from my desk.  I get completely swept away in my work.  Now that I say that, I can look back and see I’ve been that way my whole life.  When I was in high school, I worked at the local Dairy Queen.  Back then, we only had malt machines.  Each time I went home from work, my uniform was as  stiff as a board in the front as I’d splash malts all over it when I would make them.  I always told people I just really got into my work.

As I said, I am learning a lot.  Originally, I had pretty must just done some filing and typing up of some very lengthy and somewhat technical forms.  Now I am finding myself doing many different office functions as well as training new hires.  Often times, I am dealing with people that know English as a second language and that presents a challenge in and of itself for me.  My mom had a much better ear for languages than I do but somehow, for now, we are making it work.  I, once again, have a great boss!  That’s another area I have been very blessed in!  The last not so nice boss I had was way back in my college days.  Since then, I have had great bosses with much patience and lots of good humor and those two traits sustain me!  If it weren’t for laughter in my life, I’d hate to think of where I’d be.

Those are the highlights.  The heavy hitters.  There are other things like my friend that broke three ribs and displaced one on the ice in the YARD out back!  Friends, be careful out there!  Or the day I cooked all day and nothing, yea, nothing, not ONE thing turned out!  Or the day I tried to set the VCR back up and almost broke the TV.  Or the other night, in the wee hours, my old school sent me two emails, 1 text and 1 phone call to alert me there was no school the next day.  Or even last night, when the cat wanted to cuddle, on my neck, under my chin…

Yup.  We just never know what’s around the corner.  Until next time….

Shine On!








Merry Christmas

I love this time of year as do most people I know.  I think many of us long for the magic, joy and wonderment we experienced as children.  I know I do.

Once my parents died it was very hard to find that again.  The first year my mom was gone was the hardest ever.  Being divorced always became more real on the eve of Christmas as I  attempted to put toy after toy together on my own.  You see, I am not mechanically inclined. If my mom hadn’t been there encouraging me every step of the way, I would have been a puddle of tears and disappointed my children greatly.

Whenever my mom arrived for Christmas, no matter who’s home it was, she came toting a mountain of gifts and paper bags filled with unknown “goodies.”  She was the queen of bringing just the right thing to bring the magic with her.  She was always decked out, from head to toe, in a very tasteful (pre- ugly sweater phenomenon) Christmas sweater or outfit with jewelry to match! My mom always had the sparkle of a child’s eyes in hers. I think (hope) she passed on some of that to me.

Over the years, I have attempted to give some of the magic to my children.  It’s not easy being single at this time of year but I think they have some good memories.  From little 12 days of Christmas gifts to Elf on the Shelf, I’ve tried it all.  If they didn’t enjoy it, I certainly did!  Through it all, I have taught them the true meaning of Christmas.

It’s the only time of year that I wish I were a millionaire.  I would love to be able to give until I could give no more. Since I am not, I try to do what I can and demonstrate for my children the joy of giving.  We don’t pass by a red kettle without putting some change or a dollar or two in.  We even rang one year and hope to do it again.  The year of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we purchased Caribou gifts cards and left them on the windshields of cars in parking lots with a note stating it was in remembrance of the people that lost their lives that fateful day.  The food shelf is another must.  This year, many of the above were done but the most delightful part was closer to home.

For the past few days, we played Santa’s elves to three little boys that live near us.  Small and simple little goodies left on their door step while no one was looking (I hope) elicited some delightful screams that I occasionally heard from inside the quite of my home.  The parents expressed their gratitude but they needn’t have.  The joy I received in doing it was immeasurable. The girl got in the action too and was just as happy to play “Santa” as I am.  For that, I am thankful! Perhaps it’s the grandma that never will be coming out in me but I have loved every single moment and will be sad to see the season end.  Well, I will think of some way to keep the “magic” going. 🙂

It’s funny how things get repaid when one doesn’t want anything in return.  Last Friday, I was shopping at a big box store and used the self checkout as a friend encouraged me to do so.  It’s really not my preferred way of checking out.  I always feel like I’m encouraging someone’s job to be taken away.  Once I got home, I realized I had forgotten a bag there (another reason I don’t like them as at this age, I do that and appreciate it when a clerk reminds me to take ALL of my bags)!  I was not in the mood to return that night so I asked them to put my bag away and to note that I would pick it up Sunday evening.  Upon my arrival, the clerk began searching for my bag.  She found it in a little used cabinet and as she pulled it out she gasped and said “Your ID is in here!”  I had no idea I had even lost it.  It must have flown out of my wallet as I was getting a card to pay for my purchase.  Someone (and I know who) was looking out for me.  I shared the story with the girl when I got home and we both knew it was a bit of a Christmas miracle.  It could have ended so poorly.  It was a good lesson for us both to try to be better people.

It’s so easy to become jaded in this world of ours.  I truly believe it’s up to us not to give in to that feeling.  There are days we have to make our own sunshine or make our own magic.  It’s the best way to carry on in HIS image.

So from our house to yours, We wish you the merriest, most joyful Christmas ever.  Let 2019 be healthy and joyful for each and every one of you.  We love you.

Shine on!

Jill and The Girl

And the Answer is…

It’s been a long ride.  Much like what I would imagine a roller coaster to be with all of it’s highs and lows.  The old wooden ones would click and clack along the track and I have done the same over the past 18 or so months.  Maybe it’s more like grumbled, hollered and sobbed but like that roller coaster I’ve forged ahead.  It, thanks to some maintenance by hopefully dedicated workers and I, by  undoubtedly faithful family and friends.

Where is this going, you ask?  I have finally spoken to an attorney regarding whether or not I can legally move my son from his current living situation.  The attorney I spoke to helped me gain guardianship of the bout 16 years ago.  She remembered is vividly.  After posing my question to her, she replied “I’m so sorry to hear this.   I remember you two as being so close.”  It made my heart warm knowing she saw the bond we once shared.  I digress, the answer is not what all the other “authorities” have told me.  I do NOT have a legal right to move my son, UNLESS I can PROVE he is in harms way.  The only way I can do that is if the county were to release all of their collected data to me.  I have an inquiry regarding that as I type.  Knowing the county, the response will not come as promptly as I would like.

Someone asked me if finding this out upset me,  Of course, it stung but I am so grateful to have a definitive answer!  It’s all I’ve wanted for a very long time and now I have it.  I let myself get too caught up in what the so called experts were telling me that I neglected getting the facts myself.  Now I have them.

The system is flawed.  There are many laws that are in place to “protect” the vulnerable people in this country.  Yes, some of these laws were quite warranted, however, the pendulum has swung too far the other way.  My son, and those like him, have all the rights.  I marvel that these citizens are placed in group home dues to an incapacitated  ability to take care of themselves and to make sound decisions that are truly in the best interest of themselves yet we place all rights in their hands and if something should go wrong, our hands are tied. Well, they are tied until and unless we jump through what feels like a million hoops.  I’ve always prided myself in being an advocate for all with special needs but throughout this process, I have decided I haven’t done enough.  I should have been more politically savvy.  I should have been a part of groups and committees that support these beautiful souls.  I should have…

Lesson learned, I guess.

Where this will all end up, no one knows.  But I do promise this, I will continue to learn and share my story, if you want to hear it.  Being a parent of a special needs child, young or old, can be lonely.  I’m learning it doesn’t have to be, through this blog.  I’m one to hold most of my “woes” to myself but my blog has helped me to reach out.  I hope that one day, at least one word or sentence will inspire someone, anyone.

I’ve not handled any of this as gracefully as I’d like.  I’ve been slipping in a lot of personal areas.  That being said.  I am not a quitter and don’t plan on ever becoming one.

There is strength in numbers.

Shine On and thanks for reading.



I’ve shared so much of my last year with all of you.  All of the highs and lows.  Maybe it’s been too much but I thank you all for hanging in there with me.  This has been a year of constant change in every area of my life.  Without each of you, I would have completely (I have mostly) lost my sanity.

Today, I share my gratitude, for so many things.

I need to top the list with you and the laughter, smiles and hugs you have shared with me. I do love laughing and smiling and it sees me through the worst of times so thanks for being you.  I often have a million things racing through my mind and you offer me an escape and a reminder to keep myself focused on all of the wonderful things I have in life.

My family, as always, remain steadfast in their support.  They all matter and they all count but I have to call out my sister, Val.  She and her husband have been a non stop sense of support for my family and I, always, but more so since my Mom died.  I miss her so.  In our younger years, Val and I have had our differences but I can tell you that I could not have a better sister.  Ever.

I’m cleaning today.  It’s not my favorite activity but I am grateful to have a home to clean.

Even though there are days I don’t feel like going to work, I am grateful I have a job to go to.  And once I am there, I am so grateful to work with the students and staff that I am allowed to work with and for.  I’m also grateful for the hot chocolate and cookie we all received yesterday as a thanks for our efforts. :->

I had a flat tire last week.  It was unexpected, of course.  I am grateful to the woman on the road that flagged me down to tell me.  I’m grateful for “my” car place that had an available loaner car and could repair my tire instead of replacing it.  An expense I did not need.

I’m thankful for good neighbors.  Those that are always willing to help a gal out.  The ones that share the antics of their adorable boys with me, either in person or through our sliding glass doors that face each other.  I am glad to know their youthful and wise selves.  The one I know I can call on day or night, that always stands beside me.

I am thankful for a warm bed at night, a roof over my head, the money to heat it and shine the lights in it.  I am grateful for my health and sanity ( I know some of you may be questioning the latter, ha!).  I am so very, very, very thankful for my children, estranged or not.  I am thankful for the faith I have to believe my son and I will reunite.  I’ve decided I know he still loves me.  And everyone, I hope, knows I still love him.  The girl, she may test me but she always makes me laugh and tells me she loves me.  I’m thankful for a daughter that loves to sing, off key or not.  Her voice will always bring joy to my heart.

I am thankful for tears.  I know.  That sounds odd but for many years, I couldn’t cry.  Now, there are days I can’t stop.  But it is good to feel, to let it all out, then to move forward.

I wish each and every one of you, dear readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving!  I love you all.  Tell those you love that you do.  Our time here is never guaranteed.

Shine On!


When I Was Four

The girl has been sharing a lot of memories with me this week.  Like the time she went to the zoo with her dad.  And the time she taught grandma how to roll up her window in the car when she (grandma) was trying to start her lighter (I know!).  Or the time they went to the Dells with her dad and they stayed in a condom (condominium).  And then there was the time we went to a hotel and swam in the pool. I can’t leave out the time I took her trick or treating and a lady gave her a stuffed animal because she liked her costume the best!  There have been more but they escape me right now. The interesting thing about this is that she was different ages and we lived in different places but to her,they all happened when she was four.  Each time she shares something from when she was four, I just smile.  It doesn’t matter how old she thinks she was, she has some very good memories and isn’t that what every parent hopes for?

A sweet friend from work told me to enjoy my day off on Friday as there wasn’t school for us.  I smiled and assured her I’d do my best in spite of having to contact Social Security, a lawyer, MN Sure and attend a meeting with the kids county case manager.  I lucked out on SSI, I didn’t have to contact them after all.  Not so good, but it eased the load, the attorney never called me.  That’s on the docket for this week!  I got my answers from Mn Sure and some questions answered from the county while other questions were raised.

As far as the boy goes, things are still a total mess.  The good news is, he’s back to work.  It’s not at his “good” job but at least he’s doing something outside of the home, on occasion.  I’m thinking he’s willing to work when it’s something he likes to do, like making Christmas wreaths.  Many, many reports have been made on his behalf to Adult Protection Services.  Apparently, the small county dealing with these reports is way understaffed so nothing is progressing.  The good news?  The boy  keeps waffling back and forth now on wanting to move!  I’m still staying out of it but I’m so happy to hear that he still wants to, deep inside, when he’s not being influenced by the staff where he is living.  He continues to go deeper into debt with his rent and we can’t figure out why they still want him living there.  They are benefiting in some fashion.  We just can’t identity how.

I have been told it’s going to take awhile to find a home for the girl.  There is such a shortage in Minnesota that some clients are moving to North Dakota!  No, it’s not an option for us but it sure adds a lot of stress to life.  She is happy she will be living here through the holidays and I am too, although she is bored.  The county is going to contact the girls employer and get on them about getting the transportation for her life they are supposed to.

I had a really neat experience that happened to me a couple of weeks ago that I’d like to share.  We were at the neighbors enjoying a fire with them when I decided to send a text to a friend I’d been concerned about.  I simply said, “Are you OK?”  About an hour later, I got the following text back “Maybe :)” I went on to say a couple of personal things and to offer a little encouragement. Several minutes passed again when I got a reply that said “Who is this?” I replied with “It’s Jill.”  They came back telling me that they didn’t know me, but I sounded like a really sweet, caring person.  “She” went on to say that she was sitting there feeling alone and unloved and that my message made her feel loved and like it was a message right from GOD.  I can’t describe the feelings that came over me!  We chatted a little bit more and I assured her she is loved and to never doubt that.  She thanked me.  I thanked her.  A complete stranger and I shared a very surreal and important moment in time.  Proof that a mistake can be a good thing.  We never know how “HE” will use us.  I needed the reminder as much as she did because I was feeling that I had really let someone down.  Now I know I just needed to help a sweet soul that needed and wanted it.

In the midst of chaos, there is often good.  We just have to open up our hearts and minds to see it.

Shine On!



A Southern Gentleman

I had company this last weekend.  One was recently transplanted here from the south. He is the son of a friend of mine.  What a pleasure it was getting to know him!

It took me awhile to adjust to being called Miss Jill or Ma’am all of the time but I confess, now that he’s gone, I rather miss it!  It’s been a long time since I have had such a gentleman around the house.  To top things off, he’s a chef and made wonderful food the entire weekend. He even got the girl into the kitchen to help peel potatoes! He spoiled us all rotten!

He was a true gem with the girl.  He made her feel included, important and took her under his wing and treated her like an equal, a friend.  It’s a weekend neither of us will forget.  Ever.  If you are reading this, kind sir, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  You are welcome back anytime!  Me Casa, You Casa!

I took a big step today.  I contacted an attorney  regarding moving the boy.  I just need to have no doubt about what rights I may or may not have.  I’ll be fine either way, I just need to know.  The attorney has requested copies of the letters from the boys attorney so I got those scanned and emailed today.  I feel really, really good about taking this step.  The attorney I contacted actually helped me obtain guardianship of the boy 15 years ago.  I doubt she remembers me but I sure remember her.

We are still waiting for work transportation and placement for the girl.  I can tell she’s getting bored.  Her enthusiasm for cleaning seems to have waned.  Darn it!  I really was hoping that would be ongoing.  lol!

Life, like always, is throwing a lot of curve balls at me.  I’m not going to share them all but I assure you I am holding up well thanks to good people in my life.  I decided I have no right to complain when my little, sweetest ever, neighbor boy broke both bones in his arm this weekend.  He is still smiling his huge, sweet smile while sporting a bright green cast.  So who am I not to smile?  He’s a good example.  To us all!

What ever battles you are fighting, please know you’re not alone.  If I know you, or even if I don’t, you’re in my thoughts and prayers.  Together, we can…

Shine On!