I feel like March is giving Christmastime a run for its money as the most wonderful time of the year.

Sports are big in our family, and our home has been filled with March Madness. We watched the men's NCAA basketball tournament selection show and made predictions for our brackets.

Preston, 8, and Griffin, 5, enjoy following the games and writing in the winners. They like rooting for the underdogs and seeing a team like Lehigh upset Duke.

Who knew that the best player in the Lehigh-Duke game would be C.J. McCollum? The Mountain Hawks' McCollum was a 5-foot-2 high school freshman who grew to 6-foot-3 and was the fifth-leading scorer in the nation this year. For Preston, always one of the shortest kids on his sports teams, McCollum's story is inspiring.

The boys are also getting a geography lesson. At what other time of year would they learn that Murray State University is in Kentucky and that Lamar University is in Texas? This year, there were an unprecedented four schools from the same state in the Sweet Sixteen: Ohio University, Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati and Xavier University.

After the championship game there's my favorite part of all - the "One Shining Moment" song and montage of the tournament highlights.

The month of March also marks for our family the exciting start of Little League baseball. For Preston and Griffin, the only thing that beats heading out to the baseball fields for opening day in a brand-new uniform is heading to the snack bar with their teammates after the game.

We seem to have visitors every March, too. We just hosted some friends from Kansas City who came out for their children's spring break. With company in town, we take advantage of what Tucson has to offer and visit attractions that we typically wouldn't. It had been about a year since we had gone to Trail Dust Town, and a couple years since we had been to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

We also get a kick out of sharing with our friends what life is like in the desert. What is normal to us is novel for our first-time Tucson visitors. Preston and Griffin point out different types of cacti, and share stories about the baby Gila monster we rescued from our swimming pool and the stinky javelina who like to knock over garbage cans in our neighborhood.

March has brought with it lots of fun, and minus allergies, it just might be the best time of the year.

Gila monster encounter

In her column this week Kelley Helfand mentions rescuing a Gila monster from her swimming pool. Another Foothills homeowner (and Arizona Daily Star copy editor) did the same a few years back, with surprising - and unpleasant - results; read his column online at azstarnet.com/news/gilamonster

E-mail Kelley Helfand at foothills@azstarnet.com