Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Castle


This year for Christmas I received one of the best gifts I have ever received.  My fiancĂ©e, Emilee, and my parents got me a black Labrador puppy.  I was completely surprised and was not expecting to get a dog at all. About a month before Christmas I was looking on Emilee’s Pinterest account at dogs. After doing some looking I new that when I did decide to get a dog I wanted it to be a lab. Then about a week later she was texting me about dogs and asking all of these questions but I guess I didn’t think much about it since I just had been looking at them online. Emilee surprised me with him a few days before Christmas. He came from a breeder in Indiana.  He made the long trip here with his sister who went to one of my coworkers. I was expecting picking a name for him to be a hard decision, but really one came to me pretty fast. I thought my family and Emilee would have all shorts of suggestions, but they really didn’t have any.  I decided to name him Castle after the TV show Castle. His full registered name is Castle Cooper Gaston.

I stated before that Castle was probably the best Christmas gift I have ever received but he has also been more work than any other gift I have received. Castle is my first dog so it has been a huge learning experience for me. We always had a dog growing up but we haven’t had a puppy since I was a kid so I guess I did not remember (or truly understandJ) the amount of work it takes to take care of a puppy. The first few weeks with Castle were very tiring since he didn’t sleep through the whole night and he required constant attention if he was out of his crate. It took me awhile to adjust to the new lifestyle of taking care of a puppy but things are going better. Castle now sleeps through the whole night and is doing a pretty good job learning basic commands. Castle is now “mostly” house trained. Overall he has done a pretty good job being house trained we’ve had only a few accidents along the way. He is extremely smart, so when he isn’t completely full of energy he has been fairly easy to train. 

Castle has been a great learning experience for me over the past few months. Raising a puppy takes a great deal of patience and responsibility. The responsibility of raising a dog I have that down, but patience on the other hand has been a struggle. Most people don’t see it, but those who know me well know that I am one of the least patient people in the world.  This has been the biggest struggle for me in this process, but I have come a long way. Having Castle has done great things for my patience and I have learned a lot.  Even though some days he pushes my patience, overall he is a lot of fun. Castle has been a huge joy to have around. I enjoy coming home and taking him for a walk and playing with him in the evenings. I am really looking forward to the weather warming up and the days getting longer so we can spend more time outside. Even though you can see (below) he really likes the snow. I think he is probably feeling a little cooped up also.  I don’t currently bird hunt but I am thinking about taking it up since it could be a fun hobby that Castle and I could do together. I am looking forward to all of new adventures and learning experiences I will have with Castle.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Banking Trail…

When I was in my senior year of High School, I was asked by the 2 owners of the original West Chester Savings Bank if I would be interested in a job.  I had discussions about it with my dad.  I was just engaged to my current husband and was on the fence about taking the job or going to college.  I ended up taking the job.  That job was certainly “old time banking ways”.  I learned a ton about banking.  It was just the two owner myself and a couple part timers.  This bank was then purchased by FSB holding company from Kalona.  The original owners both retired.  Suddenly nothing was normal.  Big changes came to this little bank.  We had new management and computer conversions, hours, more employees and building on and remodeling the bank.  I stayed on for another 6 years.  Then we had another management change with same ownership.  Then the ownership changed shortly after I left.

I went to Farmers & Merchants Savings Bank in Lone Tree.  I was there for a year in the bookkeeping area.  I left there and went to Gretter Motor Company for 14 years as the Finance Manager.  Then I was asked by the Farmers Savings Bank of Keota if I was interested in working for them as the Operations Officer.  Yep, I was ready to get back into banking.  What a change banking had made.  It didn’t take long and I was back in the banking groove.  I was then promoted to AVP, Cashier. Eight years later, here we are the Libertyville Savings Bank.

This was rough at many times.  Becoming the Libertyville Savings Bank was the EASY part.  Rumors and questions were the HARD part.  Our customers would come in with all the rumors and many questions.  We as employees knew nothing about what was going on.  It was hard.  We felt like everyone knew and we didn’t.

Finally we knew, Yes we are selling.  However, we didn’t know who was going to purchase us.  We all worried about who, what, when, will we have jobs, just lots of questions.  Finally the day came for the announcement that yes we were sold and to the Libertyville Savings Bank.  I knew Amber and Jill before this.  I felt it couldn’t be any better.  I hoped for a family owned bank and not a larger bank.  We were all relieved.  The purchase still took time to happen.  Waiting on that was rough.  We still didn’t know if we would keep our jobs or how working for LSB would be.  Here we are…..it has been 7 months and what a 7 months it has been!! 

Last August we did the computer conversion.  It all went relatively well.  I became the Office Manager.  Everyone has a job.   Some of them may be different but we have them!  Now as we adjust to all the changes, we willingly help all of our customers adjust.  We are thankful for the many changes and welcome the different structure.  Change is hard for most of us but for the most part, change is a good thing!  Our customers seem to be adjusting well. 

The employees all welcomed us with open arms.  They have been very helpful and patient with all of us.   I have felt a huge relief.  It is great to be a part of an UNSTOPPABLE group of people. 

Thanks to our customers for their patience.  We love learning from their questions!!  : )

Robyn Morgan

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dream Jobs



When I was a little girl, I would go to Libertyville Savings Bank with my dad.  I was amazed with the process of money.   My grandpa, Rex Swan, was on the board of directors and always spoke highly of Bob Stump.   What an impression that made on me, since the two most idolized men in my life, my dad and grandpa, had the utmost respect for this bank, I was determined to work there when I got older.



As I grew up, I always did my banking at Libertyville Savings Bank.  As time passed, I graduated from college and entered the work force.  At the young age of 45, I contacted Jill Burnett to discuss a position they had open.  I decided to apply and received an interview.  Jill called to offer me the job of Head Teller in Fairfield.  I started August, 2013.  It was a dream come true and I knew it would make my grandpa proud.  His picture hangs in the bank board room and I believe he watches to make sure I do a good job.  I enjoy working here and the people are great.

The new year rang in with my husband, Dale, being offered his dream job.  The only catch was he had to live close to West Branch, Iowa.  After many hours of discussion and different scenarios, we came to an agreement.  We would look for a place for Dale to live during the week close to West Branch and the kids and I would stay in Keosauqua.

Our oldest son, Drew, graduated and chose the Air Force.  Our oldest daughter, Ryan, is a senior and will graduate in May and our youngest daughter, Darby, is a freshman and will graduate in 2018.  We live apart during the week and are together at one house or the other on the weekends.  We decided we could live with this arrangement for four years.

We spent February thru April looking for a house to buy.  What an experience for me, since I had never done any house hunting in my life.  To begin with we looked at townhouses/condos, and soon decided that wasn't for us.  Next we looked at acreages outside of town.  We decided that, too, wasn’t for us and Dale declared “I want to be at work in less than 5 minutes”.  So…onto houses in town we went.  After looking at three houses that needed a lot of updating, we looked at a brand new house.  We walked in, looked at each other and asked "Can we see ourselves here in 20 years?"  The answer was yes.  Now we own two houses (with the assistance of the bank)!

July took my husband to his new position with Altorfer, Inc.  in West Branch and our oldest son, Drew, to the Air Force.  The girls and I were on our own in Keo.  School started in August and by October our four year plan started to change.  Darby decided she might want to go to school in West Branch next year.

Darby, Dale and I went to visit West Branch High School.  We were very impressed with the academics and the athletics.  We explained to Darby that the decision was hers.  We could stay or we could go, but once that decision was made, it was in stone and there would be no going back.

Darby and I talked it over and her decision is to move in July after softball season.  We will sell the house in Keosauqua and move to West Branch at the end of July.  We knew it was going to happen, we just didn't know when.  Now we know.

I have very mixed emotions from excitement to sadness to nervous to relieved.  We have a house to sell, I have to find a job (leaving my childhood dream), we have to downsize and pack and we have a graduation party to host.  No stress here. 

I'm looking forward to having one house and all of us together, but I dread leaving the bank, our family and our friends.  This is just another chapter in the book of life.

 

 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Getting out of my box in 2015


Have you ever wanted to try something new but the fear of never doing it before scares you away?  Well, I do all the time and the fear always wins.  This year I told myself that I had to try something new again.  Last year I walked my first 5k in April and then did another one in July.  So this year I said to myself, “you have to do it again, get out of your box and do something new.”   I’ve seen people on Facebook going to these Wine and Canvas events and the pictures they are painting are great.  Of course my mind says, Lisa you can’t even draw a stick person how can you paint a picture?  I kind of pushed the thought out of my mind until one night I was scoping out Facebook before I went to bed and saw that there was an upcoming event right in Fairfield for a Wine and Canvas and it was a picture of a snowman which I love.  So, I clicked the link and said, “Yep I am doing this!”  As I wait for the weeks to go by waiting for the Friday night event to come up, I am nervous and excited and worried but I know that it will be so much fun.  I happen to get an email from my daughters Girl Scout leader stating that their troop is going to do a fun event called Cookies and Canvas.  I am so excited that my daughters are going to get to experience this event too!  A couple of days before the Cookies and Canvas day, I learn that the moms of the Girl Scouts get to participate too.  I was so excited, not only do I get to experience this new adventure with my daughters, I will get a heads up on how the Wine and Canvas event will probably go. 

The day of the Cookies and Canvas arrives and I am so excited!  I have not told my daughters what they will be doing because I wanted them to be surprised and because they like to worry about stuff like me.  As we sit down and begin, I realize that this is so much fun and it isn’t about being perfect or making the picture exactly right, it is just about relaxing and doing whatever you want to the picture.  The instructor will coach you on the basics of the print but otherwise you get to choose what colors you use, how much of the colors you use, and pretty much whatever you want.  It was just a totally relaxing freeing event that I had never experienced before and my daughters loved it.  They each got to make the same but different pictures and nothing had to be perfect.  This little life lesson taught me that it’s ok to not always be perfect at what you are doing, just do it to the best of your ability and everything comes out fine.  We got three great pictures out of this and I got to experience something new with my daughters which is always so much fun.  Now I can’t wait till my Wine and Canvas event comes up and I can create another masterpiece.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Kid On The Block

As I am one of the new kids (61 years old) on the block with Libertyville Savings Bank, its fun to see what  opportunities are being offered to bank customers.  What comes to mind is the Libertyville Savings Bank travel club and the big trip to Alaska planned for next June.

     I have been fortunate to enjoy a number of trips over the years taking the family to California, Colorado, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida and some others that I may have forgotten.  Most trips were taken by land as I am not a world traveler by air.  Taking the kids in the van to California was a pretty long ride but worth the time and effort behind the wheel once we arrived at Disneyland.  After a lot of fun with the kids in the theme parks, the California trip had a couple of not-so-fun memories that included a scam artist trying to get money from me as we were headed from the hotel parking lot (my Iowa license plate made me an easy target) and the air conditioner fan in the back of the van malfunctioning.  As we were traveling between California and Las Vegas, my very young son said “Dad, there’s something smoking back here” from the back of the van.  Thankfully, there was no fire, so we got home safely and all ended well.

     On a separate trip to Colorado, the scenery was quite beautiful in the Colorado mountains.  Overall it was a good trip, but I learned that it pays to be a good planner.  After a long day of driving through the mountains, I was ready to quit driving a 4:00 p.m., get a nice supper and enjoy the rest of the evening.  I did not think that getting a motel room would be a problem in the Colorado Springs area.  All over the Colorado Springs area rooms were taken because of an international soccer tournament, so hours later we finally got a place to stay.  I learned my lesson that time.

     Which leads me to the fun excursions I have experienced over the past 25 years on a number of cruises.  Cruises I have been on include trips on the western route (at least twice), eastern route, southern route, from New York to Bermuda, and a trip around the Hawaiian islands, all together at least 6 (maybe 7, can’t remember for sure).  There are so many things on a cruise ship to enjoy, making the travel experience very free and easy.  The cruise ship staff are there to spoil you morning, noon and night.  When you get checked in to the ship, there are natural worries that your luggage will disappear and not show up to your room cabin.  But by evening when you come back from the first dinner, the luggage will be by your cabin door waiting to be unpacked.  The Cabin steward will get you what you want, when you want it.  The evening entertainment will usually include singing, dancing, comedy, some include ice skating, and other great performances.  Staying up late at night and sleeping in the next day is everyone’s personal choice.  If you want, you can enjoy fine dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or you can go casual for any and all of those meals.  There are a lot of steps to climb between floors, so forget the elevator if you decide to take more than one desert.   Relaxing by the pool or sitting in the hot tub while taking in the sun is great.  Most cruises schedule a belly flop contest at the pool which brings a lot of laughs.  There are games for audience entertainment like the Newlywed Game asking new couples and old couples just how well they know each other.  You can keep very fit by exercising in workout rooms or take walks around the outside deck of the ship.  There are a lot of gift shops on board so that finding a keepsake of the trip will not be a problem.   Some cruises happen to be during a full moon.  A very awesome sight is to see the moon reflect off the ocean in the evening.  In the morning when the sun rises, looking over the front of the ship is a great way to begin the day.  As each day winds down after the evening entertainment, you can find a lively place to go, or find a quiet pub that may have a piano player to listen to.  Most of the cruises have various ports to let passengers sight-see and enjoy.  When the trip is finally over, it can leave a bit of sadness when you say good-bye to the staff that take care of you and smile every time they see you somewhere on the ship.  And if by chance a group of friends wish to take the cruise experience together, the memories are just that much more fun.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas, 2014

For the first time ever, my husband and I attended his ex-wife’s Christmas celebration yesterday.  It was the best time I’ve had at a Christmas celebration in a very long time.  The ex-in laws met us in the drive way with hugs and kisses and thanked us repeatedly for coming.  We got the same greeting inside from ex-sisters and brothers in law. The food was unbelievably wonderful and the libations a flowing.  My step son repeatedly whispered in my ear, “it’s like Christmas with the Cranks” and “might as well call us the Griswalds” to which I assured him not to hold any embarrassment, as it is obvious that this family loves each other for who they are and nothing less.  We sat at the very long gorgeous table with 15 or 20 of four generations in a 100 century old farm house and watched as a great grandchild performed for the entire group on his new plastic toy guitar.  The faces of encouragement were enough to warm any heart.  Thank you Bev, CD, Carol Ann and all for so genuinely welcoming us into your home and family.   Merry Christmas and the very happiest of New Years!


Amber and Steve McDowell

Monday, December 1, 2014

TRAVEL TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

At least once a year I normally will attend an offsite meeting that requires me to travel the “friendly skies.”  This year was no different. We purchased a new core software system and were offered two tickets to a Banking Conference in Orlando, Florida. Fun...right? The conference was fantastic, but once again I had another action packed trip in the air.
For a little background, in June we had just finished a huge software conversion that required about a year of planning and information gathering. Every day we were signing, amending, and terminating contracts and building reports to supply the new vendor with information. Our new software provider offered us the tickets and it sounded like an interesting trip. I had taken a week off to travel to Colorado with my family when Jill e-mailed me and asked if I would like to attend. After some discussion I agreed to go and politely said I would let her handle the reservations as I had no preference.  Big mistake!  Never let your boss order your tickets. If she had it her way you would be flying with the luggage if it would save a couple bucks.
The trip started off great. I picked up Lori and we headed to Des Moines. We worked our way in and my bag was under the 50lb limit and I breezed through security with my three totes so I could take my work laptop along.
Last year I wasn’t so lucky. I had to cram stuff into Jill’s bag. Then I thought I would carry on my cleanup bag forgetting that you couldn’t take liquids over 3.4 ounces. My face was red when they stopped me and I told them to just throw the stuff away. I then had to buy new upon arrival to my destination. Things were really looking up.
Prior to leaving I reviewed my itinerary. What? I had four flights? Ok, wait a minute. I wasn’t flying non-stop and I had a layover in Detroit. How do you go from Iowa to Michigan if you are headed for Florida? Let me tell ya. You save $20! We flew to Detroit strolled around the airport and enjoyed our layover time before boarding the busiest flight I have ever been on. Families headed to Disney World! This was a completely full flight. The passengers were crammed in like sardines.
After my wife and I had our first child I have been pretty much housebound. Trying to make sure our son doesn’t get sick or make a scene. This has caused me to pack on a few extra pounds. Maybe I am a little bigger but the seats this year sure seemed smaller.  Then we took off. The couple behind us bickered.  The dad was telling the mom how much money he made while the child relentlessly kicked the back of Lori’s chair. I thought this was actually kind of humorous until the little guy decided it was time to go to the bathroom fifteen minutes in on a two and a half hour flight. Needless to say we sat in the brown cloud for the next two hours and 15 minutes.

At the same time Lori and I both made the comment we should have got more involved in the planning of this trip. Maybe Jill was trying to teach us something but I think she was just saving a dollar or two. One thing is for sure. When we arrived in Orlando we quickly called the airline and upgraded, not to first class, but premium economy. Trust me people….. it’s worth the $19!