When you start up Bitcoin, a window should open, and you will see the number of connections at the bottom of the window (initially 0, goes up to 8, I believe). Once you make a connection (which might take 15 minutes or more), then you'll start to see the number of blocks start at zero, and count rapidly upward. Current Block is 127691, but it increases every ten minutes or so.
When you are all caught up on the blocks (which might take an hour), you're good to go.
And yes, there is a lot of information here and at bitcoin.org that can help newbies. I am one.