Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Same Old Sadness

I guess it's time I finally address the elephant in the room: our very disappointing early exit from the NCAA tournament on Sunday. As the whole sports world knows, KU got knocked out of the Big Dance yet again by a much lower seed. Ugh. While I was obviously broken-hearted, I wasn't really that surprised. Although we do have the 5th most wins of any team in the NCAA tournament, we definitely have a long history of getting upset, starting with the painful loss to UTEP in 1992 after which I laid on my bed in the Jayhawk Towers bawling my eyes out. It just happens over and over--we can't seem to handle the pressure of being favored big against teams that feel absolutely no pressure to beat us. In fact, I feel like I could almost just copy and paste the blog post I wrote last March, replacing Sherron with Tyrel and Northern Iown with VCU. So many of the game problems were similar--missed free throws, tense play, lights out shooting by the other team--and the bad weather was similar right down to the snow. Thankfully, this year on loss day we only ended up with an inch or so and not the 6 or so inches we had last year!

Although it was rough getting knocked out by an 11 seed this year, I was proud of our boys for making it to the Elite Eight and for being the last of the number 1 seeds to go home. It makes me feel so much better when other number ones fall early. This year Pittsburgh got knocked out in the second round like we did last year and I was so excited! It's not just the Jayhawks who have off days during the tourney!

Speaking of off days, we could not have had a more off shooting day on Sunday. We couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. We were awful from the charity stripe, from the 3-point line, and even from inside the paint! While it's not unusual for one or even two Jayhawks to have an off night, rarely have we ever had practically every guy on the court go cold in the same game! It just wasn't our year, clearly, and VCU was definitely feeling it.

Since I hadn't watched nearly as much of the tourney this year as I normally do, and since I was sort of preparing myself for the possibility of another upset, I really and truly believed that I would be able to better control my emotions in the event of a loss. Um, yeah...not so much. I really really thought I wouldn't cry this year, and I can't believe that after 19 years of crying after every tournament loss I still do. It just never ceases to be gut-wrenching. Looking at the faces of those players, especially a terrific kid like Tyrel, and thinking of how hard they've worked all year, and then thinking about how sad I am and multiplying it by a thousand to imagine how sad they must be--it just makes me cry every time. For us, there's always next year, but for those seniors, they'll never get the chance to dance again!

I hope they know that even when they lose we still love our Jayhawks!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet and Elite

I'm so embarrassed that we are smack in the middle of March Madness and I haven't even blogged once about basketball. Even more embarrassingly, until yesterday the only full game I'd even watched was the KU/Illinois game last weekend. Even more embarrassingly, this was the first time in about the last 20 years that I didn't enter a bracket pool, and the first time since the invention of online pools that I didn't even fill out an online bracket!! I know this sounds like complete insanity, since obviously all my friends I love love love the Big Dance. I feel like I should turn in my superfan card.

It's kind of like I'm living in the basketball bizarro world this year. Normally I do tons of research and study each matchup carefully before picking my teams. Since the week the tourney started was also the week I was busy getting ready for the party, I just never had a free moment at the computer. I kept thinking I would at least fill out a bracket at the last minute, but Wednesday night when the online brackets were due, Eric and I were at Mom's until after midnight going through old photo albums, trying to find pictures for the slideshow!

The Thursday of the tournament I did actually fill out my annual "dream" bracket and "reality" bracket on paper before I looked at any of the scores, just so I could take more of an interest in any of the games I was able to watch. The problem with that is that I picked the games so poorly, by the time I was able to watch this weekend I barely had any teams left in my bracket! As the Elite Eight games started today, I seriously had two teams out of eight still on my reality bracket and one team out of eight on my dream bracket. I always wondered if my research was really doing me any good, and I guess this year we've answered that age old question. Without studying I completely stink--with research I only stink as much as the rest of the country.

Ultimately though, it doesn't really matter how crappy my bracket is overall, because the one team I have left in both brackets is the only one that counts. It was so awesome to watch our Jayhawks manhandle Richmond yesterday in the Sweet Sixteen and we're hoping to another win tomorrow against VCU for a trip to the Final Four!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mom's Big Day

I've been absent from blogging for the last couple of weeks primarily because of the big 65th birthday shindig we threw at our house last Saturday for my lovely mother. There was so much to do in the weeks leading up to the event--reminder sending, housecleaning, menu planning, grocery shopping, food preparing, airport shuttling, decoration purchasing, present buying, houseguest hosting, and picture searching/scanning for slideshow making. My brother flew in last Tuesday (which was our mom's actual birthday) and was very helpful in getting a lot of this done, which was great since my dear husband was sick in bed a lot during the last couple of weeks!

Overall, I have to say that the party was a big success. Although it poured down rain and even hailed for a little while in the early afternoon, we still had over 40 people attend. My mom looked beautiful and had a really great time visiting with so many very dear friends. Everyone was very complimentary of the food, of the decorations and of our slideshow. My friend Leigh Ann made fantastic cupcakes which were so beautiful people didn't want to eat them. I took tons of pictures of the festivities and my brother took a bunch too, and most of them turned out pretty good. I hope to eventually put them into a scrapbook with all of mom's birthday cards, but for now the online album will have to do.

Although the party itself went very well, the evening before the big day, as we were trying to prep all the food and finish picking out the music for the slideshow, Mom and I took a trip to the airport to pick up her very dear friend Linda, who was flying in from Montana for the party. Unfortunately, the construction traffic on I-70 put a big kink in our plans, since the normal trip of 50-55 minutes took us almost 90! After getting to the airport so late and then having dinner at Zona Rosa (which is always busy on a Friday night), we didn't get home until way later than anticipated. I didn't get nearly as much of the food prepared as I had hoped, and I still stayed up until about 1 a.m. working on mom's slideshow!

The point of that whole story was just to make an excuse as to why the food wasn't quite done when people started arriving on Saturday. I think everything was on the table at 1:10 (the open house started at 1), but I would have much preferred to have the whole thing set up and the kitchen cleaned prior to guests getting here! Thankfully, Chad's mom Joanie and our friend Linda were hugely helpful in refilling the food as needed during the afternoon and even assembling appetizers!

Other than the delayed food, there was only one other tiny detail that I didn't anticipate that could have been kind of disastrous. About 3o minutes into the party someone requested coffee, and not only had I not made any (we only made yummy punch), I only had my tiny one person coffee pot that makes 20 ounces at a time! I never thought about the fact that almost everyone in my mom's generation would want coffee at our afternoon party. Thankfully there was a newly opened bag of coffee, so my awesome mother-in-law started brewing, and she didn't stop the rest of the afternoon! We used the 12 little cups from our china set (that had never been used) along with all the other random mugs in our house, and Joanie's husband Rory still ended up washing dishes for at least an hour. My dear coffee-hating husband even got into the coffee-making action, which is a sight I thought I'd never see in my life! I was so thankful for all my awesome kitchen helpers that helped to avert a crazy coffee crisis. Our successful party was definitely a group effort!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

That's "Owl" Theme and We're Sticking To It

This afternoon I finished editing and uploading the plethora of pictures from Leigh Ann's shower on Sunday, and I realized once I had uploaded them all that there wasn't any reason I needed to wait until they were finished to blog about the event. In my mind I guess I imagined putting the pictures into a slideshow on the blog. Now that I realize there are 111 pictures in the bunch, I'm thinking that probably only Leigh Ann herself and a few of our other friends who were there would probably be interested in that many pictures! If you get the urge though and want to see all of the food, decorations, gifts, guests and the game, please feel free to check the full album out here.

When my friends Melissa, Ellen, Corrie and I first got together to discuss the planning of Leigh Ann's shower, Mel came up with the great idea of using an owl theme, partially because Leigh Ann had recently picked out some baby bedding with owls, and partially because her husband Nate recently finished his doctorate in the English department and is a literary brainiac. We thought everyone bringing a book for baby braniac's library would go along well with the wise owl theme. Once we had the theme picked out we began to go a little crazy with it! Later Melissa found out Leigh Ann had changed her mind on the bedding, but the owl themed baby shower was already well on its way!

At our planning meeting, I volunteered to plan the menu, for which I chose foods that were either bird/tree related or in the color of the green/pink/brown/orange invitations we picked out. I made a fruit plate, a veggie tray, some little bird nest egg salads, ham asparagus roll-ups, spinach/artichoke dip on a tree shaped platter with a rye bread trunk, and some little bird seed snacks that are Chad's new favorite snack at our house! Melissa made festive little labels for all the food, Corrie ordered some adorable little cakes to match the invites, and Ellen made some awesome punch and bought colorful flowers to decorate her lovely home perfectly. Here are just a few of my favorite pics of the decor and food from the day.

The other thing that I had so much fun doing for the shower was making a shower game, even though none of us are big baby shower game people and weren't even sure we wanted to have one. I played a similar game when at my friend Karen's baby shower just a couple of weekends before, and it just seemed too perfect for the theme--and it actually seemed like something Leigh Ann might enjoy! I went online and found pictures of 20 famous people when they were babies, and then I printed out all their pictures onto tree branches (which I scanned from the invites) and pasted them into a tree trunk on poster board. Because I'm not very artistic, my tree ended up looking like the Washington Monument, but whatever. I put the celebrity's names in a list and numbered the pictures so that the guests could match the names to the numbers, and I think most people enjoyed it. Even if they didn't enjoy it, at least it wasn't ridiculously cheesy like so many baby shower games! It took me almost an entire day to find the pictures and make the tree, but I had a fun time doing it!

I'm hoping that all of Sunday's guests enjoyed the food and festivities as well as showering the lovely Leigh Ann and baby W with gifts and good wishes. It might not have lived up to the most amazing baby shower that Leigh Ann planned for our friend Amy a year ago, but with our four brains working together, I think we were able to come pretty close!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bieberrific Birthday

Today is my amazing friend Cara's birthday, and even though I sent her a Jib Jab card and left her a message on Facebook and sent her a text, I still have to wish her a very happy birthday on the blog tonight. Cards, texts and other messages just don't cut it when you have a friend who is such an inspiration to so many people in so many ways. In the last couple of years, our friend Cara has handled the adversities of life with incredible grace, poise, maturity, faith and godliness--and she's not even 30 years old yet! All my other birthday wishes didn't seem adequate for such an amazing person, and my Jib Jab card certainly didn't seem adequate since I couldn't find an appropriate card that I could stick her head onto. Since I didn't have the perfect card, I decided to make her a special music video instead. I can now say I've watched my first ever Justin Bieber video. It's kind of appropriate since Cara's still a youngin' herself!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Happy birthday, Cara! :)

Sunday, March 06, 2011


This evening Chad and I are just laying here lounging with our laptops, and I'm definitely enjoying the time to decompress a little. This might have been evident by my lack of blogging, but the last week was a busy one, and I'm definitely relieved that it's behind me. Since my last post just over a week ago, my schedule has included lots of activities that aren't part of my normal routine as chief homemaker. We've taken our nephews sledding and hosted them for a sleepover, I've started a new small group at a new church, we've taken all the dogs to the vet, I've been to my nephew's basketball game in Kansas City, and I've helped to plan and host a baby shower for my friend Leigh Ann, for which I made almost all the food. I think this was all complicated by the fact that I still did my volunteer shift at the food pantry, still made my regular weekly trip to Topeka, spent my regular afternoon with my baby friend Eli, had a medicated dog who needed to go out every couple of hours, a crazy dog who needed to be re-crate trained (more on that later) and a sick husband whose congested snoring didn't allow for much sleep on my part. Whew. Now that I write it all down, I understand why I'm a little pooped!

This week I'm hoping to get caught up on my sleep and my blogging! More posts coming soon!