Sunday, May 31, 2009

3 days, 50 miles, closer to a cure

This weekend was the Dean Team Automotive Challenge Walk MS at the St. Charles Community College. It's a 3 day, 50 mile walk, and we had about 160 people participate this year who have so far raised over $400,000. Do the math - these are some of our top fundraisers and people who are generally very connected to our mission - many have a close family member living with MS if they aren't living with it themselves, or a close friend and/or co-worker. These people are dedicated to finding a cure! It's such a tight group - many of them come back year after year - and its really cool to see them interact with each other and how they bring the rookies right into the family.

It's also cool as a staff member to be able to talk to this group to learn about why they walk and how MS has effected their lives. There are few events like this one where the group is small enough that you can really get to know everyone who's participating. Often times we just get to know team captains and maybe a team member or two just because there are so many (regular) walkers or cyclists (we have easily as many Bike MS team captains as we do Challenge Walk participants to give you an idea - over 3,000 people will ride with us in Sept! - and over 5,000 people walked at 12 different sites for Walk MS), so I was excited to have this opportunity. So while its a long week/weekend for me as a staff member (its often said that it's actually harder to work the event than walk it) it was very rewarding.

I think the best moment for me came on day 1 (Friday) when our last walker for the day, Brian Phillips, came in. Brian has MS, and his symptoms are more severe than some of our other walkers. His balance and vision are both impaired so his pace is a little slower than everyone else's and he almost looks like he's limping when he walks due to his balance issues. I can't really say his MS slows him down though, because the man walked 50 miles in 3 days - how many healthy people do you know who can do that? Anyway, I had heard about Brian, but had not yet had the pleasure to meet him. When he got close, I was able to go out to the finish line section to cheer him in (there are people out there for each walker who comes in at the end of each day because its a major accomplishment to walk 20 miles!). I was not prepared for how moved I was to watch this man cross the finish line - I got goose bumps watching him struggle to get to us and from sharing the joy with him for achieving what he set out to do. It was really my first experience of the weekend being totally inspired. There was a lot of joy this weekend! There were lots of inspiring moments throughout the event, but for me, nothing topped those 5 minutes.

Remember how I mentioned earlier that while this is a rewarding weekend, its a long one as a staff member? As a staff, we work to wow and amaze our participants as Paula likes to say. I have to put out there that we put on a hell of an event - I mean we really rock at what we do. Within our organization, Gateway is known to be one of the better chapters when it comes to events (well, really we do everything well) which is really saying something. Anyway, in order to wow and amaze, we offer to do just about anything and everything for people that will make things easier for them. This could be anything from getting someone a refill on a drink so they don't have to get up (they've walked enough!) or helping carry stuff to rooms or making sure people get things they need out on the route. I love when I offer to help with something and the person I'm helping asks, "really?" and I get to say, "yes, really!" You know then that you're doing things right. That being said, its an entire weekend of being "on" - how can I help you, how was your day, is there anything I can do to make your weekend better, do you have any questions, etc and always having a smile for people. Since we do not sleep past 5am over the course of the weekend (and sleeping till 5 was a luxury that we only got on Friday) this can be tiring late in the day and there are few places you can go and sit to relax without having participants around. Thankfully most of my co-workers are awesome and I'm happy to go sit with them to hang out in the few places we can relax - alone time is basically non-existent at an event. I'm very luckly to be part of a development staff in which I get along with everyone - because we spend SO much time together that anything else would just suck.

I could go on, but its getting late, and the effects of my over 3 hour nap are wearing off and I'm getting ready to go (back) to bed. So I'm going to end this long post. One more thing though - I stopped by to see the Ericsons today and got to cuddle with Max for a few minutes. That boy is just so precious. A great way to end my weekend. :)


Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you take a few minutes today to thank all the men and women who serve our country to keep us free today! Thank you to you all!

This weekend has been a lot of fun. Friday evening I went to dinner with my mom and grandma, and then they went with me to pick out new patio furniture. So now if you come over we can sit outside! (I just need to get a bbq grill now - Mark, don't you want to come with me to pick that up?!?!) Sat. I bbqed with my mom, sister and nephew at my sister's house for lunch, and heard all about their trip to Disney World. They had fun, but apparently it rained a lot. That afternoon I put together my patio table and eventually headed over to hang out with Sam and Max (and all their company). I am looking forward to watching that little guy grow! Sam seems to be adapting beautifully to being a Mommy, so I'm sure they'll fall into a comfortable routine soon!

Sunday I went to Kara's birthday/graduation party for awhile at Boeher Park in South County, and then headed north to meet up with Cyndi, Aimee, Andy and Lindsey at the greek festival that was happening in Des Peres. It was great to see everyone, but the rain put a bit of a damper on both gatherings. We still had fun though! After the festival we met up with Patrick and headed back to Cyndi's house for a bit to hang out. I'm so glad I got to see Linds while she was in town and Patrick before he heads off on his 3 week European vacation! (Jealous? Yes, that's me!) I went home for a bit after that and had dinner, then met up with my dad, sister and nephew to see "Night at the Museum 2". It was cute and funny, so we all enjoyed it.

Today, so far I am being lazy. I have some cleaning to do and need to go to the grocery store, but that can wait a little bit longer at least :). Tomorrow its back to work, then next weekend is Challenge Walk - so the whole weekend will be spent at the St. Charles Community College working. It's a great event, and I'm sure will be fun when I get there, but right now I'm not looking forward to working the whole weekend. Oh well.

I also keep forgetting to mention that Mel was extremely generous and brought me a very bright and fun welcome mat when she came to see my house! THANK YOU!! So look for it when you come to visit!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Max Truman

I met Max Truman today!!

8lbs, 13oz, 22.5 inches long, born May 20, 2009! He's a cutie, and a cuddler! I very much enjoyed holding him and hanging out with his 'rents. :) Congrats Taylor & Sam!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009



KRIS IS THE NEW AMERICAN IDOL!!!!!!!!! Yay! I love Kris, and will totally buy his album! Now, to be fair, I would have been happy if Adam won too, but not as thrilled as I am about Kris. To comment on the finale itself, LOVED Kris and Keith Urban - such a great song choice for him, and he could totally make it in country music with a song like that! - and LOVED LOVED the K&A singing Queen's "We are the Champions" - because they SO both are!

I'm very excited about this. Coupled with my extreme excitement that JT won Survivor, I'm pretty sure that I've cemented my place in reality-tv geekdom. I won't even get into some of the other things I watch on a regular basis... oh well. I like it. :)

In non-television related news, another ohmigosh of the day is that Sam and Taylor are now proud parents of Max Truman! Congrats guys! Max and I haven't met yet, so I do not currently have a picture (and his daddy promised pics but has yet to deliver, probaby because he can't pry himself away from the little guy)... but don't you worry, I'll get one soon enough. And I bought Max his newspaper today, so he'll have record of what was going on in the world the day he was born. To make it even cooler, USA Today ran an article today about the most popular baby names! Crazy, right? Anyway, I'll be going to visit Max tomorrow (ok, Sam and Taylor too), so I'm also way excited about that. MUCH better thing to be excited about than reality tv!

I got to go to dinner with the fabulous Mel this evening, and she came by and saw the 'house too. I was way excited to spend the evening with her (I've had a lot of excitement today!), and dinner at TGI Friday's was yummy too. Since we're fairly close now, we'll have to do this more often, Mel! (Another bit of excitement, the Cards beat the Cubs! Yay!) Lindsey O is coming into town this weekend, so I'm also - you guessed it - excited to see her as well.

So many good things happening today - I must be extra blessed. :)


Saturday, May 16, 2009

I'm like a broken record - things are busy and I'm adjusting to change. Still.

But it's new change, and a different kind of busy. New change in the form of adjusting to a new house (!) in a new part of town, where I'm still learning where things are, and the best ways to get places. So exciting and scary and fun all at the same time. My house is starting to feel like mine - I've done some painting, and a lot of stuff is unpacked now, so the boxes that are left are on borrowed time :)! The hold up at this point is the fact that my first-time home buyers tax incentive hasn't come yet, so I don't want to deplete my savings to a dangerous point buying the stuff I still want to get - like a chair for my living room, carpet for the basement, something to put in the basement, and a bed for the office/guest room. (Currently you have to sleep on the big air mattress if you stay with me! lol) I'll be buying a patio set/bbq grill in the near future too - I actually would love to do that this weekend, but I have no idea how I'm going to get it home. The one thing the stupid minivan was good for was hauling big stuff I bought. Oh well, I'll figure something out I'm sure.

New busy because work is SO crazy during the spring. I may have thought we were busy in Feburary, because I didn't know any better. Feb was not busy. The first week of March was a little hairy, but it has nothing on April and May. This is mostly because in the spring, in addition to the busy crazy stuff during the normal work week, we have things going on for our events pretty much every weekend, because all 3 events are in full swing at this time of year. For example, this evening will be the 3rd weekend in a row that I've worked, and the 4th in 5 weeks. But tonight I'm working for our programs department. We're required to work/attend at least 2 programs a year, and I thought this one would be fun. And it will be, but scheduling wise I maybe should have picked something else. Oh well. I'm just hoping it doesn't go too late so I can maybe still see some friends tonight.

Speaking of my awesome friends, I haven't really seen a lot of them lately. 2 weeks ago I moved, and while they helped, I spent most of the weekend unpacking/working. Last weekend I hung out with Abi and Krystal, and while that was awesome, it just means I didn't see the other folks. So I kind of miss everyone! Next weekend I'm susposed to spend Friday and Sat night at the lake with Krystal, and I want to go, I'm just not sure if I really want to stay down there both nights. So I think I might talk to Krystal about maybe driving myself down there or something. I haven't quite figured that out yet, and of course a lot of it will depend on my mood come next weekend. You never know, I may be ready to just party it up. We'll see. Other than that, I have no offical plans for memorial day weekend. If I had my patio set, I'd invite everyone out here - but I don't want to do that and have no where for anyone to sit!

Tomorrow I think my dad and I are going to go see Angels & Demons. I loved the book, so I'm really excited to see the movie. I also have to take my sister and Devin to the airport tomorrow so that they can head to Disney World for the week. (I'm still jealous!) Devin is going to have such a fun, magical time. I wish I could see it! Hopefully they'll take lots of pictures.


A new favorite

I also wanted to mention that last night Krystal and her boyfriend met me in O'Fallon to see the Eli Young Band play. If you're a country music fan, they sing "Always the Love Songs" and "When it Rains" - and they were awesome! I got a signed picture and my picture taken with them. When Krystal posts the pics, I'll be sure to post it for you. But until then, you can check out this video:

I love seening bands at this stage in their career - they're making it, but not *quite* there, and are still really approachable and easy to get a few minutes with. These guys are a class act, and I look forward to seeing more of them in the future!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there! I celebrated today by going to lunch with most of my mom's extended family. We ate at Giannino's and it was yummy! My sister and I got my mom a gift certificate to a garden place so that she can go get flowers for her garden. I look forward to seeing her put it to good use!

In house news, I am posting from MY couch, in MY living room, in MY (town) house! Yay for having TV and internet again! I am also continuing to clean everything, because this place has not been throughly cleaned in YEARS. I don't think the previous owners ever cleaned the fridge or the stove. Ever. And though I've cleaned the shower 3 times in the past week, I don't think it is ever going to look clean. Too much neglect. Gosh, some people are just dirty I guess. Oh well, they're gone! I also bought new curtains for my bedroom yesterday to block out the light better in the morning - thank you Abi and Andy for the gift card that I put towards them! Abi actually came to see my new pad on Friday (she was in for a wedding) and I was very happy to see her and show her my new 'hood. lol. Krystal came out on Sat too, and went with me to get the curtains and to test out Silky's. What is Silky's? A local ice cream place out here that turned out to be pretty good. I'll go back I'm sure! (She also contributed to my new decorating by giving me an awesome clock for my living room! thanks!) I'm still waiting for my first-time home buyers credit to come, and I'm hoping for the end of the month but am not holding my breath. My poor bank account needs it though! lol

I am also trying to figure out where I might go for a mini-vacation this June since I have a bunch of comp days to take (days I get for working on the weekend - I will earn 4 this month alone!) I'm considering NC, or maybe Chicago if Linds is interested in hosting? Who knows. I wish my sister would have held off on going to Disney - I could have just went with them! lol. They're going next week though -so I'm sure they'll have fun!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thank God for my Blackberry

I no longer live with my mother! I am now moved into my townhouse - well, besides a few odds and ends that have yet to migrate over here. Yay! The cats are adjusting well, despite their very predictable, yet still unfortunate, traveling experience. (Sally cried the whole way, and Sammy puked by the time we got to I-44 (about 10 min in). Their "moving gift" was a new water dispenser - and they seem to be fans of that. THANK YOU again to KYLE, MARK, DAN, MIKE, TAYLOR, BRIAN for helping with me move on Sat. And of course Mom, Dad and Kristen for helping load stuff on Friday. I am very appreciative!!! Sunday I had to work our Bike Kick-off, but other than that I spent the past few days cleaning and unpacking. (I took Mon and Tue off work.) It actually kind of looks like I live there now! My grandma came out on Tue to go to lunch and see my new place, so that was nice. Kristen and Devin joined us for lunch as well. I'm slowly learning where things are out in St. Charles - but the construction on 94 isn't helping!

I'm also on day 6 without TV or internet in my house. I've gone over to Mom's once or twice to get online, and watched the Biggest Loser with my sister on Tue, but other than that I'm unplugged till Sat. Thank God for my Blackberry! It's keeping me connected to my email, and lets me get directions, etc online through its browser. Its not quite the same as having a PC, but I'll take it! I've been watching a lot of movies and doing some reading - and of course unpacking. So its not all bad. Sam and Taylor have agreed to let me watch Grey's with them tonight, so at least I won't miss that!

Abi is coming into town this weekend, so I'm excited to hang out with her on Fri. and show her my new place. Everyone else is welcome to visit too! Sat I have to work for awhile, so my dad has graciously agreed to sit while my TV/internet gets installed. Then Sunday is Mothers day and apparently the whole extended family on Mom's side is going out to lunch somewhere. Then its Monday again. Where did this week go?

I probably forgot something I was going to write about, but oh well. I kept thinking, "if I had internet, I would blog about this right now..." as I was unpacking. It prob. wasn't that important anyway. :)