Saturday, March 27, 2010


So, I think I'm too old for March Madness. I've been a basketball fan since I was pretty young, although the time I spend actually following the sport has significantly decreased over the years. The only exception to that is the most wonderful athletic tournament on the face of the earth, the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship, aka March Madness. I love it. I can't get enough. I always fill out at least one bracket and track them religiously. This year was no exception.

I made some crazy picks, and for once, most of them paid off. My Final Four: Kansas, Duke, West Virginia and Butler. Kansas got knocked off in the second round by Northern Iowa, Duke plays Baylor tomorrow night, and WVU and Butler both made it in today. Woo hoo! Other notable upsets I picked: Georgia Tech, Murray St., Missouri and Washington.

I've been winning my pool at work pretty much the entire tournament, but it really comes down to whether a) Duke wins tomorrow, and if so, b) WVU beats Duke. If those two things happen, I think I have it wrapped up.

And, I just figured out tonight that I went to high school with Brad Stevens, the head coach of Butler. It's good to have a reason to cheer for a team other than wanting to them to help you win something.

In other news, we've now expanded the number of pets in our household. Grandma Darke bought Lauren a really pretty betta a few weeks ago. Lauren named him Luke. Luke went to "swim with the other fishies" and Sammy the betta arrived a couple days later. Sammy almost joined Luke, but I managed to keep him alive. Bettas are pretty, but they're kind of boring. So Chris and the kids picked out a nice little 2.5 gallon tank, and today I took the kids to pick out a fish to put in it. Lauren of course chose a $12.99 green Glofish. That thing better live. We'll get another fish in 2-3 weeks, and maybe one more another 2-3 weeks after that. Who knew aquariums took so long to get going? Apparently there's some nitrogen cycle you have to worry about. But both the kids love the fish. Maybe someday we'll get a really cool aquarium with all kinds of neat fish. Not now, though.

I've got good things going on at work, and so does Chris. We're crossing our fingers that everything pans out the way we think it will. We all need some good news these days...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Evan's 1st Birthday

Apparently I can't even master weekly updates. But in all fairness, there's been a lot going on. My biggest failure is waiting over 2 weeks to post an update about Evan's birthday. Bad mommy. Which reminds me, I posted awhile back about getting the book "Bad Mother" by Ayelet Waldman. I really need to post a review, because I thought it was a really awesome book. Anyways, I digress.

Evan's birthday week o'fun...started when the Bileks arrived. I love that they always come for the kids' birthdays (so far). It's such a long trip for them, and we appreciate them so much when they're here. The week started off pretty uneventfully, with the Bilek Grandparents giving Grandma Darke a much-needed break from the little monster. By mid-week, Chris, the kids and the Bileks were taking a dip in the hotel pool. Lauren's always loved the water, and Evan seems to agree.

Evan's birthday was on a Thursday, which didn't work out too well for a party. But we all went for a lovely dinner at Cap City, Grandma Bilek's favorite restaurant in Columbus. It was a dual birthday celebration, since Grandma Bilek's birthday was only 3 days earlier.

Saturday was the actual party. After every birthday party, I swear I'm going to start preparing earlier, have the cake baked and decorated the day before, and the house nice and clean so I actually have a chance to get nice and clean on the day of the party. And every time, I fail miserably. This was no exception. Chris was working, so thank goodness the Bileks were there to occupy the kids while I grocery shopped, baked and decorated Evan's block cupcakes, and put the final touches on the house.

We just had a few close friends over, which I think makes for a much more fun and relaxing party. Evan looked smashing in a cute little ensemble from Crazy 8 (my absolute favorite store for boy clothes!) and was in a really good mood. We opened presents first, with Lauren and Tenzin "helping." It might as well have been Christmas morning for those two. Evan didn't quite know what to make of it, but thought the tissue paper was pretty darn cool.

Then, it was time for the big event. I smartly removed Evan's sweater vest and dress shirt. I placed the (unlit) candle into Evan's little block, which he promptly removed...the boy doesn't like obstacles to his food. And then it began. The boy ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. His eyes glazed over and he went into the birthday cake zone. The sugar rush hit, and he ate some more. Finally, all that was left was a mess of red icing. Everywhere.

And then, from the living room, I see Rachel shoving Tenzin's head in the big bag we were using for wrapping paper remnants. Apparently Z ate something that didn't agree with him earlier in the day. We knew something was up when he didn't want cake. I mean seriously, have you ever seen a 3 year old refuse cake? Our childless friends quickly made an exit after providing Rachel with a lovely pair of pajama pants to wear home. The Thornburgs left just to be safe, even though Tenzin appeared to fine and didn't really want to leave. The Grandma's did a tag-team cleanup on The Ev, and then the evening was over.

We were sad to see the Bileks leave at the end of the week, but they'll be back at the beginning of May to give Chris a hand while I go to Disney for a week for a conference.

Now, I swear, for Lauren's birthday, I'll at least do the cake the day before the party. Right...who am I kidding.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A plea for help...

By now, many of you know about my niece, Ryan. At the beginning of February, my sister went into her room to find her unresponsive. Over the course of the next few weeks, Ryan suffered seizures due to extremely high blood pressure. Finally, the cause was discovered: adrenocortical carcinoma. This type of cancer affects literally 1 in a million people. She underwent a lengthy surgery to remove the tumor on her adrenal gland, and was fortunate enough to receive treatment at St. Jude. While all treatment at St. Jude is provided at no cost to their patients, the medical bills for Ryan's treatment prior to going to St. Jude are astronomical.

My brother-in-law, Jeff, plays for the Missouri Mavericks who were kind enough to set up the Ryan Christian Love Fund to help raise money to offset those expenses. To all of you out there with children of your own, imagine being in this position. All you care about is the health of your child. Not your house, not your car, not the latest fashion or stylish haircut. But the bills still need to be paid. You still need to eat. And yes, you still need some time away every once in awhile.

If you have the ability, please consider donating to the Ryan Christian Love Fund. Once the family's expenses are under control, funds will go to St. Jude so even more children can benefit from the kind of care Ryan is receiving. You can donate here.

To those of you who have already donated, thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The rundown

Well, we survived another week. One utterly crazy week, and there's another one almot upon us. Where to start...

Well, I got my dose of motherhood for sure. My mom went to Kansas City to visit Ryan, which meant that I got to juggle work and home for 3 days. Talk about exhausting...2 hours of Evan, 2 hours of work, 2 hours of Evan, 2 hours of work. Not necessarily the best way to effective at either parenting or working, but I did my best.

One long crazy day at work, and then Chris and I took off for WV. I was going for work, and Chris could come along at no extra cost since my rental car and room were already paid for. Did I mention the meeting was at a casino? Ah, makes more sense now. It was a bit of a treacherous drive there on some snowy roads, and more treacherous driving in snow on the way back. And the best part...a pebble hit the windshield on the way back and it cracked all the way across. I'm still trying to figure out how this is all going to work since it was a business trip. Joy.

Now we're busy cleaning and doing laundry, and really looking forward to the arrival of the Bileks on Monday. Hopefully they don't run into any bad weather on the way down. They'll be here for almost a week, so my mom will get a much-needed break to recover from her stressful travels.

Update on Ryan...she was accepted for treatment as part of a clinical trial at St. Jude's. She really couldn't be at a better place, and they really know how to take care of families in this situation. She arrived there yesterday, and will likely start her chemo early next week. I'm working on setting up some fundraising stuff, so be prepared for a plea for help in the near future.

On the kid front, Evan is a maniac! That boy went from cruising to practically running laps in the course of a week. He's also working on some more teeth, so he's a little crabby. I should have some updated stats in the next couple of weeks. He's due for his one-year checkup, but I wanted to wait until after all the commotion was done so he's not dealing with shots on top of everything else.

Last thing...have you seen the new Nationwide ads featuring the World's Greatest Spokesperson in the World?

Check him out here or become a fan on Facebook. There are some hilarious clips online only.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'm gonna try this again...

I've decided that family blogs are the modern version of the baby book. Now that Evan is almost 1 (yes, he's really 1!!!!!!), I've been looking back through this woefully out-of-date blog to see how he's stacking up to Lauren. In the process, I realized that I had created a really great account of our family's first couple of years of life with kid(s). I sat here for almost an hour reading month after month of posts, laughing, with tears in my eyes, wondering what the heck I was thinking. And then I was sad because I stopped doing this. So, starting today, I'm going to try to post once a week. I'm sure I can find something interesting to write aboout at least once a week, so why not?

Our lives have generally been good since the holidays. Evan is now the pro sleeper, and Lauren's the one waking us up in the middle of the night and super early in the morning. Please, someone explain this to me? Lauren is now a "Cookie Monster" at school and had her first Christmas program at school.

She still loves school. We're trying to figure out a way to get her there full time instead of 3 days a week, but we just can't afford that right now.

In even bigger news, Evan is now WALKING!!!!!!

Dear God, help me! I had learned from my first parenting experience and savored the little time I knew I had left before he started walking on two feet. He now has 5, almost 6, teeth, and loves eating people food. We're starting to move him off formula (yay!) and on to whole milk. He's over the bottle, so the sippy cup is making an appearance.

We're getting ready for the Bileks to arrive in a couple of weeks to celebrate his first birthday. No specific plans yet, but there will be a custom-made, hand-decorated cake of some variety. And a huge mess.

In less happy news, we're sending our best thoughts and wishes to cousin Ryan in Kansas City. She's been in the hospital since the beginning of February with what was originally seizures, and has now been diagnosed as adrenal cancer. She's a true fighter, making it through a 5-hour surgery to get rid of the nasty tumor. Fingers crossed, she'll be going home early next week to finish healing from the surgery. Then, 8 rounds of chemo to follow. It sounds rough, but this girl is one tough cookie. This silly cancer doesn't know what it's up against :)

Okay, I feel fairly caught up now. And keep me honest...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New pics...finally

More on Facebook. Did I mention you should join?


This holiday season I'm falling prey to the tradition of reflecting on the year and what I've learned. It's been a year filled with ups and downs, joy and sorrow, and just life in general. From the elation that accompanied birth of our baby boy, to the devastating loss of a good friend, I think we've covered it all. So I'm thankful that I have a wonderful, healthy family, even if I do complain about the craziness. I'm thankful Chris and I both have jobs when so many don't, even if it means I'm stressed out. And I'm thankful for everything I've learned about myself through it all. I just might have turned out to be a decent grown-up after all.

I hope you've all had a good year, whatever that means for you, and that the year to come will hold more of the same.