October 23, 2013

A Shameless Request For Money (for Kinsey!)

These amazing sunflowers are raised from seed and tended to by the citizens of BiG and sold at a local farmer's market.  

I will be upfront with you.  This is a plea for money for BiG (Brookwood in Georgetown's) 2nd annual golf tournament.  

BiG is the fantastic vocational program for adults with cognitive disabilities that Kinsey has been attending the past 14 months.   

Yes, I should have posted this more than a month ago, but asking for money, no matter how good the cause is never easy.  Before you make a decision, please give me the opportunity to tell you about the BiG program and the positive impact it has made on Kinsey.

If you know Kinsey personally, or have gotten to know her through this blog, you know she casts a bright light into any room she enters.  She may have been short changed in some areas, but doubly blessed with a kind and generous heart, and sense of daily joy that many of us struggle to achieve.

For the past 20 years Kinsey has benefited from early intervention programs that taught her "baby basics" including how to crawl; then a pre-school program that helped facilitate her ability to walk; and finally an excellent K - 12 public education where Kinsey learned basic reading and math skills, how to communicate via sign language and the spoken word, and even how to tie her shoe!  More importantly she learned how to be the confident, independent and amazing young woman she is today.

But what happens to students like Kinsey after high school graduation?  

The cruel reality is, there are very few options for individuals with disabilities, let alone options that provide meaningful and fulfilling work.  

Kent and I were floundering.  Was Kinsey going to be stuck at home all day with only an iPad as a companion?  Would the only programs available to us be a cold institutional room where individuals were stuck watching and endless of loop of games shows and crappy cartoons?  Would this vibrant, happy child become bored and sullen because she no longer had an opportunity to be engaged with the world?

Thankfully BiG (Brookwood in Georgetown) came into our life.  

BiG is a vocational program that gives Kinsey the opportunity to flex her creative muscles, learn new skills, and enjoy meaningful work. Every day she (and the 15 other citizens) participate in one of five social enterprises that raise funds (and awareness) for adults with cognitive disabilities.  These include: horticulture, pottery, card making, jewelry and baking.

At BiG every citizen, no matter how compromised their abilities, is valued and respected.  

And the stuff they create is truly beautiful.  (Apparently Kinsey has mad skills when it comes to pottery and card making.  Who knew?!)  If you want to get a real feel for what this program is like, then watch this inspiring 4 minute video.   (It will give you a good overview of the program, and where it is headed!)

BiG receives NO government funding and relies on the generosity of good people like you to support these efforts.  Last year's golf tournament raised an impressive $120,000, of which 97% was reinvested back into the program allowing for expansion of the pottery and horticulture enterprises, paying for qualified and effective staff, and general operating expenses.  Rest assured, your donation will directly benefit Kinsey and her fellow citizens.

Each citizen has been challenged to raise $10,000!  Team Kinsey has only fulfilled 10% of this goal, and I hope you will help us achieve (or surpass) this amount.

Kent and I will match 100% of the contributions, up to $1,000, so your $25 donation will magically double and become $50!  Please consider helping out.  No amount is too small (or large) and anything you can give is greatly appreciated.

You can donate via PayPal to The BiG Kinsey and Century 21 Team OR you can go "old school" and mail a check to:

Brookwood Community
1752 FM 1489
Brookshire, TX  77423

Make sure you write TEAM KINSEY on the memo line so Kinsey gets credit as the "rainmaker."

*** The Golf Tournament is Monday, October 28th, but don't let that stop you from writing a check as they will still be accepted until the end of December.

Also - if you would like to be updated on the happenings of BiG, then make sure you like their Facebook Page.  

Warm regards,

Suzanne, Kent and Kinsey Young

October 14, 2013

Kinsey's daily commute

I promised you an update on what Kinsey's been doing the last year, and I will (in greater detail) tomorrow.  Today however, I'd like to show you the scenery on the way to BiG (Brookwood in Georgetown), the fantastic day program she attends four days a week for adults with cognitive delays.

I count the 20 minute commute to BiG as one of the best parts of my day.  Even though we are a mere 24 miles from downtown Austin, there are still parts of Texas that have retained the bucolic countryside that I have grown to love.  Every day Kinsey and I see horses, cows, goats, and the ever present Texas Longhorns grazing in the open fields that border the roadway.

Our conversation about cows and horses provides a brief but welcome respite from the non-stop prattling about the FIVE (yes I said 5) American Girl dolls that are now living in our house.  Seriously.  

The recent rains have greened up our drought stricken terrain and rejuvenated the sunflowers that are once again flourishing along the thoroughfare.  I should also point out that this particular roadway is a magnet for cyclists (Kent included) as it has about 25 miles of well maintained blacktop and a generous bike lane.  (On the weekends there are probably more cyclists than cars or cows!)

These are just a few of the photos that I snapped the last two days.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I thought I'd spare you a few.  Words that is, definitely not pictures!


October 05, 2013

Suzanne finally answers "So...what have you been doing the last 10 months?"

Wow!  Has it really been 272 276 277 279 280 282 285 315 days since Kinsey and the Rolling Stones was published on November 24 - 2012!   Sadly, the answer is yes, and as you can see by the various strike-throughs, I still can't get something written and published in a timely manner!

If you'd like a side of irony, I actually wrote: "I promise to start writing more on Kinsey's Texas Tales. It's like getting back on the horse right?" in the aforementioned November post.  And that was only after a writing absence of two months. Oy!

I know some of you think Texas is a black hole and it swallowed us up, but that really isn't the case.  I have no good excuse for why I haven't been pounding on the keyboard the last 10 months, but I can give you five bad ones.  Here goes:

1) I got a job!  OK, it's only a part-time job, but in order to do "said job" I have to stare at a computer screen for four straight hours, five days a week, and it killed my enthusiasm for further screen time.

So...what is this blog killing job of which you speak?  Well...., let's pretend that after much ballyhoo from the local media, you decide to celebrate your anniversary at that "fabulous" new restaurant that recently opened up downtown.  Except, instead of fabulous you experienced this:

After waiting 25 minutes beyond your appointed reservation time you are finally seated, not by the window as you requested, but by the serving station, next to the kitchen door.

"Happy Anniversary sweetheart" you mutter over the din of a shrieking sous chef and the clattering of unwashed dishes.

You would have happily clinked glasses, but your waiter has yet to appear, and the busboy just poured ice cold water all over your crotch making you look like a candidate for a Depends ad.  Instead of an apology he merely shrugs and says. "Oops, my bad!"

Once your shockingly overpriced glass of wine finally appears and you begin to take the first bite of your appetizer, the waiter unceremoniously slams down your entree and begins to slink away.  You start to sputter, "Wait!  I'm not ready for the main course yet." but all you can see is his retreating backside as he heads into the kitchen shouting "I'm taking a pee break people!" For a moment there is a brief and perfect silence, until the kitchen door opens with a thundering crack.

There is nothing left to do but try and enjoy your meal.  However, as your knife and fork hover over your requested medium rare steak, you realize that it is neither "medium" nor "rare" but looks like it has been pulled from a crematorium.

And those delicately sautéed vegetables the missing waiter waxed poetic about?  They look and taste like the line-cook doused them in lighter fluid and then waved a match over them.  This is al dente?

This is the last straw.  Your typically unflappable spouse throws his napkin down in disgust, and starts scanning the room for the manager.  Once located, he stalks his quarry like a lion who hasn't eaten in weeks.  His discourse begins calmly, but within 15 seconds he starts pointing and gesticulating and his face begins to turn a rather unhealthy shade of red.

The manager is unmoved by your plight.  With a wait time of over an hour, hungry patrons are spilling forth from the bar and eager to fill your table, so he could care less about your dining experience.   Shoving his plate aside he throw cash on to the table and you shouts "We're leaving now!"

Within seconds of returning home he fires off a scathing restaurant review lambasting the food, service and management entitled "AVOID THIS RESTAURANT AT ALL COSTS!!!"

Well guess what?  Chances are I've been reading your reviews of restaurants, hotels, or your latest clothing or refrigerator purchase for the last year.  Don't worry, as a moderator I haven't been correcting your spelling or grammar, although some of you might want to consider using the grammar and spell check buttons before you push send.  (Seriously.)

What I do however, is read comments and either approve OR reject them based on the client's guidelines (which vary greatly).  For example, some clients let you list the price of the product under review, while others do not.  Same goes for full or partial names, competitors, shipping or customer service complaints and even something as ubiquitous as "this product sucks!"  Chances are if you start dropping the F-bomb, even if you mask it behind some asterisks as in (F**K) your review is not going to see the light of day.

The ironic thing about this job is, I got it so I could offset the cost of blogging (website design, blog hosting, conferences, etc.)  While the job has contributed to my bottom line it has most definitely contributed to the demise of my writing!

Yeah, I know.  Quit whining.

And what are the other four lame excuses?

2) We got a puppy!  Meet Shiloh (who was once tiny and cute and only 11 pounds) but is now a fifty pound lap dog who (when not properly monitored) enjoys chewing on expensive shoes, sunglasses and even television remotes.  Gah!

It should be noted that Kent and Kinsey (once again) adopted a puppy at Petsmart while I was out of town.  Shiloh is part black lab and part Border Collie and 100% mischief.  Suffice it to say that we have spent a great deal of time trying to burn off her manic energy and cleaning up after her.  In return she has given us unconditional love and sloppy wet kisses.  All in all, a fair trade.

3)  Mother Nature stole my estrogen!  And with it the ability to multi-task, remember things, and apparently string together a sentence longer than three words.  She did however leave in it's place hot flashes, night sweats and a cranky pants attitude.  (Also, the ridiculous ability to make non-stop excuses about managing one's time time and creativity.)

4) I suffer from Perfection Paralysis.  Urban Dictionary defines it as the inability to start on a project, assignment, essay or any creative task due to the fear of not getting it perfectly right.  Yes, it stupid, irrational, and a total creativity killer, but it is something that has dogged me my entire life.  Ask my poor father how many times I made him read and correct something as insignificant as a one page high school essay.

You would not believe how many times I have "revised" this blog post in mid-stream.  Throw in my obsessive need to check the dictionary and thesaurus while writing, its no wonder this post has taken more than a month to write.  (OK - 43 days to be exact.)

It's a good thing I'm not being paid by the word because I would be starving.  Not that I'm being paid at all.  And finally...

5) "Oh look, something shiny!" In other words that time-sucking place called Facebook.  Do I need to elaborate any further?  It's easy to get sucked in, especially when one is deluding oneself "this" (nattering on in a Seinfeld-esque way) is part of your social media plan.  Except I kind of forgot about the writing part.  (I blame menopause!)

So, yeah, that's the last 10 months in a nutshell.  Except all the cool things Kinsey has been doing. She of course deserves multiple updates.  I just wanted to say hello and let you know we are all alive and well.  We have had a few other big things going on, but I have nattered on long enough.  Please tell me you'll forgive me and stick around?


November 24, 2012

Kinsey and the Rolling Stones...

Soooo, I haven't written anything in more than two months (don't judge me) but I did manage to scrape something together for my friend Tricia at the Southern Spark about (what else) Kinsey!

Tricia writes about food, travel, and family (three of my favorite things) in the Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina area as well as Charleston, South Carolina.  Kinsey and I can personally attest that these are some awesome places to travel.

Tricia is participating in NoNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and is a little bit busy churning out 50,000 words in 30 days, so she asked a few of her friends to guest post on her blog.  I was so flattered that she would even consider letting me write for her.

She asked that posts to be no more than 500 words.  I managed to write twice that much, and she still published it.  Please check out my post "What do the Rolling Stones and American Girls have in common?" at Southern Spark.  (Hint: it's about lessons learned from a special needs child).  You can leave a comment on Tricia's blog or back over here at Kinsey's Texas Tales.  Or both!  We would both really appreciate it!

Also, I promise to start writing more on Kinsey's Texas Tales.  It's like getting back on the horse right?

September 22, 2012

Meet Amy - Kinsey's New American Girl Doll!

Kinsey has been badgering me to write a "Kinsey Pink" post (her name for Kinsey's Texas Tales) for a week now.  I have put her off for various reasons, none of which are any good.  Today guilt set in, and am letting her control the photos (Picmonkey.com) and the general content.  She dictated what to write and I interpreted it.  Lucky for you I put the kabosh on the minutia including details on how we slept.  Very well, by the way.   
Hey Ya'll!  Guess what happened last Saturday?  My family drove to Dallas to visit the American Girl  store for my 20th birthday!  After reviewing the AG website for the past 3 months I had compiled a list of clothes that I wanted to purchase for Angie and Sassy.

Nothing was too good for my girls and I managed to select over $500 worth of clothes and salon services.  (And this didn't even include a new doll.)  My dad soundly rejected this proposal and told me I had to eliminate (gasp!) a bunch of clothes.  And so with a heavy heart, I had to slash my clothes budget by more than 50%.

Where was Tim Gunn when I needed him?
On the 3-hour drive to Dallas, I mentioned that I would really like to have a doll with red hair and blue eyes just like my Grandma Ruth.  Prior to this declaration, my mom and dad said I would never get a 3rd doll, as Angie and Sassy were already a lot of work for a single mom.

Can you say Open Sesame, because this was apparently all I needed to utter to realign my mother's position on doll number three.  After that, my dad lost all traction on the "no more dolls" front and quietly accepted his fate.

Besides, I was the one paying for the doll and the clothes with my birthday cash and JCP earnings.

We checked into our hotel first (the one that I discovered on the Internet) and my day got even better.  You see, this was one of the hotels that offered an American Girl package and because it was my birthday, the manager gave me a cool American Girl doll bed.

It is so awesome to be me!

After we had dropped off our suitcases we drove to the American Girl store.  I could barely contain my excitement when we drove into the Galleria.  I might have even screamed a little bit in the car, only shattering a few eardrums.

I couldn't help myself, I was super happy!  I was at the American Girl promised land and we were steps away from selecting my third doll.  I didn't know exactly what she was going to look like, but when I saw #17 described as: "long auburn hair with bangs, blue eyes, and fair skin" I knew I had met someone special.

She was no longer #17, but was renamed Amy.

With doll in hand (thanks dad for helping me pick her out!) it was time to buy Amy some new clothes!  She came with a cute outfit, but she needed pink (naturally) pajamas and a smashing new outfit to wear to a wedding will be attending in Northern California.

And of course, Angie and Sassy also got some new threads.  I mean, what girl doesn't want new clothes?  Mom took lots of pictures but refused to create another American Girl video for me like she did last year.  (I hate it when she does not bend to my will.)

After I had depleted my cash, it was time to put the party into overdrive and have dinner at the Luxe Cafe, (the sister restaurant to The Cheesecake Factory) that was just a few doors away from the AG store.  My parents kept muttering under their breath about "needing wine, lots of wine" after we left the store so I guess they were really, really happy about me getting doll number three.

I can't believe I have to wait another 359 days till I turn 21.

Do you think there are any plans to open up an American Girl store in Las Vegas by next September? Because, I am so there if they do!

September 15, 2012

Move Over Elf on the Shelf - Introducing the Bear in the Chair

Until recently, I had no idea who the "elf on the shelf" was, and what nefarious role he played in keeping children from being placed on Santa's dreaded naughty list.

(For those of you who have, until now, been blissfully unaware of who the Elf on the Shelf is, he is one of Santa's spies.  Personally, I think he is one of Santa's creepier elves who has been given the authority to spy on children (with the parent's permission of course) and then send covert reports to Santa when "said child" mouth off to her parents, hits their sibling, refuses to cooperate, or other heinous crimes - including but not limited to lack of teeth brushing.)

Or so I have been told.

Thankfully, this Christmas marketing ploy Jedi mind trick wasn't around when my first two kids were being threatened daily, (I mean gently reminded) during the month of December to "be good" or Santa wouldn't make an appearance on December 25th.

Right.  As if that would happen.

But I'm straying from the point.  As usual.

The point is, Kinsey's 20th birthday is tomorrow.  When she hasn't been lobbying for more American Girl dolls, clothes, or accessories, she's been asking for this GIANT stuffed bear every time we go to Costco.

We finally relented, and it is amazing how many different places he is showing up around the house.  Like the powder room, to do his business!

So move over, "elf on the shelf" there is someone much bigger, and fluffier, and nicer who likes to appear in strange places all over the house.  With a little help from his friend Kinsey!

Did you know Kelly Clarkson has a new boyfriend AND has lost 30 pounds?  At least, that is what Bear told me.