Showing posts from 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 w


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 or

Meeting "Fred"

The first day I showed up to work at LSB I was given a copy of a book called The Fred Factor and it was explained to me that all employees of the bank were to read “Fred” that quarter.   To give you an idea how much I like to read, I can tell you I hadn’t read a book for pleasure since graduating from college.   I was certainly glad I was assigned the task of reading the book though, as it was one I ended up enjoying very much.     I’ve particularly been captivated by the use of The Fred Factor at LSB and most recently by the book’s author’s speech at our annual meeting.   As Mark Sanborn the author of the book spoke at our annual meeting, I couldn’t help as my mind wandered to a real life Fred I know.   I’m sure he has never read the book, but he epitomizes Fred is every sense, and it’s been fun to watch as that spirit has helped lead him towards success. I met this fellow Iowan several years ago at the Circle of Gold Pig Sale in Oklahoma where we had both consigned hogs.   And

First Year at Libertyville Savings Bank

         The end of the year will mark my first year in banking, and WOW what an exciting year it has been. I have met a lot of great people and learned a ton of new things. So when I say this is my first year in banking that isn’t entirely true it is my first year as a full time bank employee. I started working at Libertyville Savings Bank in February of 2006 as a part time teller. I worked summers and weekends through high school and college. I really enjoyed my part time job here so when I graduated from The University of Iowa last December I knew this was the place I wanted to be. So on January 2 nd I started full time as the banks Investment/Training officer. My year started by finding out that I had been accepted to the Iowa Bankers Association Leadership Institute. I was very proud of this since the IBA only selects 20 people per year to be a part of this program. I need to thank Lori Mitchell for pushing me to apply because I didn’t think I would be accepted since so few peo

First Ever Trip to the Lake

My grand daughter is 2½ years old and as with most completely prejudice grandparents, I think she’s pretty awesome.   Last month she made her first trip to the Lake of the Ozarks and had the grandest of times.   Collyns has had some baby swimming lessons, but she had only been in a pool and of course never on a waive runner or in a boat.   After only a short spell, she made herself at home at the lake house and back and forth to the dock…..and back and forth to the dock……and back and forth to the dock….life jacket on… jacket off……life jacket on… jacket off and that didn’t end   for 3 days. J     It was HOT and on the first day we found ourselves floating in the lake before noon.   Collyns’s dad has a complexion at least as fair as mine, maybe lighter.   I said, “Josh, do you have sunscreen on?” to which he replied in a big, tough guy form, “No, I’ll be alright”.    Needless to say, he was toast…..literally and figuratively….for the rest of the trip.   He looked like

College Bound

I sent my first child to college this fall.  For those of you that have done it, you know what a big event this is not only in your child’s life but in yours. I spent most of my summer analyzing what it would be like. As the day grew closer, I was not sleeping well. Is she ready? Did I raise her right? How would move in day go with all the traffic? How could we possible get all her stuff into that small dorm room?  Would she like her roommate? Would she be home sick or would I not hear from her until Thanksgiving? My mind would not shut off. When I boiled it all down, it was more about me and my identity as a parent. Not only was this a reality check that my life was moving by at what I consider a high rate of speed, but what does parenting look like when they move out? As a parent we are given no handbook, no instructions, and no guidelines when those bundles of miracles are placed in our arms for the first time. They hook us in with their smiles and their amazing personaliti


It’s mid summer; 2014 is flying by.   I can’t help but take notice of some milestones that have occurred so far in 2014; both professionally and personally.   A few that top the list are: I celebrated my 25 th year work anniversary with LSB in April.   It’s gone by in a blink of an eye. When I look back at all the technology changes and how much the bank has grown, I start to feel the years.   I absolutely love coming to work every day and am very grateful for the opportunity to work at LSB. We’ve just completed our 1 st week in our new Keota location!   This takes me to the above paragraph.   When I started in 1989, LSB had assets of 25 million and 8 employees.   With the Keota acquisition, we are above 300 million in assets and close to 50 employees.       Libertyville was the only location then, and now we are happy to be in and support 5 communities.   We are thrilled to be a part of the Keota community!   It’s been a year since my diagnosis of Sjogrens Syndrome.

The Devil is in the Details

I consider myself to be a “big picture” guy. Given enough time, I can usually come up with a viable solution to a problem. My shortcomings lie in the 238 intricate steps and processes that lie between finding the problem and actually getting it resolved. That’s right, I’m talking about the details. After several years of self evaluation in this realm, I’ve come to the conclusion that patience or rather the lack thereof, is part of my problem. I want my tractor fixed now and I don’t want to waste a lot of time on the phone with the dealer, waiting on parts, tearing the tractor apart or putting it back together. I just have no patience for those things. But a lack of patience is just a part of my problem. In a lot of cases, I’m just not particular enough. “Close enough for me” and “that’s fine for now” are big parts of my vocabulary. For example, on the rare occasions when I wash my truck, if I notice I’ve missed a spot or two it’s no big deal. I can live with a little dirt. I di

Father’s Day Without Dad

Yesterday was Father’s Day and it was the first time we celebrated it without my Dad. We tried to have a meal that he would have liked and actually he probably would have done the cooking.  We bought a cake that was decorated in John Deere colors and a John Deere hat.  We gathered at the farm that he loved and which he   tirelessly kept looking pristine.  Somehow this didn’t fill the void of him not being there with us.    Unfortunately two other employees of the bank lost their father’s this year, so I wanted to share this poem as my blog.   A death has occurred and everything is changed by this event. We are painfully aware that life can never be the same again That yesterday is over, that relationships, once rich, have ended But there is another way to look upon this truth. If life went on the same without the presence of the one who has died, We could only conclude that the life we here remember made no contribution, Filled no space, meant nothing. The fa

Office Monkeys

Most people that know me, realize that I have a fascination with monkeys.   My IPad screen saver is a chimpanzee, I have monkey t-shirts, and I even say “monkeys” when I feel the need to say a profane word.   Last year, right after Thanksgiving, I had an anonymous surprise on my desk.   It was a set of office monkeys, complete with office scenery.   Office monkeys are little plastic monkey figurines that are about three inches tall and are wearing business suits.   Some are on computers, a banana phone or taking a smoke break.   They currently sit on the corner of my desk and are a conversation piece for everyone that sees them.   They don’t always sit in their office scenario and quite frankly haven’t been there for a long time.   I tend to change what they are doing to suit the holidays or events that are happening. During the holidays, two of them were dressed as Santa and an elf and the others were standing in line to see Santa.   They were carolers around a Christmas tre

Color The Earth Run

Have you ever read a quote and thought about what it really means to you?   Well, the other day I read a quote that said, “Hard, is a mindset.”   As I reflected back on that quote I thought, “Wow that is so true”! How many times have I thought something was going to be hard and after doing it, it really wasn’t, but my mind thought it was going to be.   At the beginning of 2014 my sister asked me to join her in the Color Run in Des Moines this year.   I agreed and then days after accepting thought, “This is going to be so hard I will never make it”.   So, in Fairfield, in April, there is a similar run called Color the Earth run.   I signed up thinking this would be great practice for me to see how bad a 5k really is.   For weeks I have been walking and trying to prep myself for the day.   Well, April 12, 2014 came and still the morning of the run I was nervous and not sure if I was going to be able to do it.   53 minutes later I was finishing my first 5k! Granted, I did walk it but by J

My Path To LSB

Some time ago, I stumbled across the Libertyville Savings Bank’s blog via the links from the Keosauqua Sale Barn’s website.  Since then, I've periodically checked back to see if Blain had written anything interesting.  In mid January of this year as I was considering whether to accept a job offer to come to work at LSB, I came back to the blog page wondering, “what would I write my blog about?” I was born and raised in rural Jefferson County.  My dad raised feeder pigs and sold livestock feed for most of my childhood.  I participated in the 4-H program in Jefferson County taking pigs to the local county fair each year.  As a kid on the farm, doing chores helped establish a work ethic that would help me be successful down the road.  It also instilled a passion for working with livestock that will be with me for a lifetime.  As I was finishing up high school in the late 90’s, the hog industry changed at a rapid pace.  Vertical integration within the industry pushed small hog produ

Construction Project - The End!

Keeping a blog is like building a house.   It can take awhile, a long while .   So like the house building process it’s been awhile since my last blog.   But, once it is finished it’s out there for all to see.   The conglomeration of decision, all tied to your personal preferences and tastes... it’s daunting.   The most common question we got after completion was “are there things you’d change?”   Well the answer is “of course”.   But if you’re going to build thinking to achieve perfection you better rethink your goals.   It’s a crazy fun process but it isn’t for the faint of heart – and probably not for the “anal spreadsheet minded” like me (so my wife says).   We had two completely different experiences.   My wife, the creatively talented, loved every minute of the process.   There was a point, I think it was during decision number Four Thousand and Twelve, when she gave serious thought to killing me with the particular doorknobs I liked.   I know that look.   Her eye twitches

It's Tax Time

It’s that time of year again.   Income tax time!   I dread it with a passion, and I ask myself why?   I have worked as an accountant in some capacity my whole life.   In fact, I enjoy working with numbers.   I even prepared tax returns for a number of years.   Why is doing my personal tax return so painful? Well, let me explain.   First of all, my husband is a farmer.   We have been in the farming business for 45 years.   You would think we would have the process perfected by now, but we always seem to have the same problem.   I take care of the books throughout the year, and try so hard to keep a record of everything we will need when it comes time for the tax appointment.   My husband has a more relaxed approach to recordkeeping.   He keeps it all in his head.   I am not saying he doesn’t have a good memory, but it is selective.   We just don’t seem to agree on what is important.   I like things exact down to the penny, and he thinks as long as it is close, the exact amount do

Girls Weekend

I have 3 friends that I have known since kindergarten or before.   We know almost everything that there is to know about each other and our families.   There were several years between college and kids that we didn’t see each other.   About 14 years ago, we all started getting together for lunches with our kids.   As the kids got older, we had girl’s night out about once a month.   When we turned 40, we decided to start having a girl’s weekend once a year in Des Moines to have laugh therapy, retail therapy, eat anything and everything we want, and celebrate our friendship.   This year our weekend fell on Super Bowl weekend.   We all took Friday off and left early that morning.   We then made the trek to the city, laughing and poking fun at each other all of the way.   We can go for weeks without seeing each other, yet it feels like we never were apart.   Usually, one of us does something early on our weekend together that generally haunts the unlucky one for the whole trip.   It n

Walk Like a Duck

There is a saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, author is unknown.   I am not a dog, and   I wouldn’t consider myself old, but to a teenager I’m sure I would be considered older than dirt. In a previous blog I talked about change and how we had went through several changes at the bank with our computer software. Well along with those changes were a lot of learning opportunities.    It seemed that every day we could find something else to learn. Now, eight months later,   those   opportunities have slowed down some but we are still trying to utilize all the bells and whistles this computer software   has to offer. In addition to learning all about this new software, we need to take the time to talk to our customers and realize that we can learn from them as well.      This winter has been one that will probably enter the record books, with low temps and considerable snowfall.    We got to talking to our UPS driver about his   routes and difficulties he has had with t

Waxing Nostalgic

We’ve hired some great young people here at LSB over the past few months. Every time a new recruit walks through the door for the first time I harken back to my first day as a banker. That’s been almost 20 years ago now and wow, have there been a lot of changes! Most of those changes have been for the better. The first operating loan I ever made was at the annual rate of 10.00%. Today our operating rates are half of that. When I first started, I typed up all of my loan documents, correspondence etc. on a typewriter. Since I can’t type, they weren’t always what you’d call professional looking. Today, I write up all of my loan documents on a computer and they print off all crisp and clean with not a trace of white out on them! One of my first jobs was sorting checks by hand to familiarize myself with our customers. All of those checks were then bundled up once a month and mailed out in big bulky envelopes to eventually line the bottoms of closets everywhere. Today you get a great

The Things Your Children Will Say

  I have three lovely, healthy children who mean the world to me. I have often wondered when someone asks them about their mother, what do they say? How do they put into words a description of their incredible mother?   Well let me tell you, just when you think they are old enough to have some discretion, they fool you. About a year ago, I had returned to work from a wonderful four month sabbatical. My 16 year old daughter at that time was in a psychology class her junior year in high school. If we are lucky, our family sits down a few times per week for supper together. At the dinner table this night of enlightenment, I asked the standard question. How was school today? Did anything exciting happen?   My daughter proceeds to start visiting about her psychology class and that they are studying midlife crisis. She says the teacher asked the class if any of them knew of an individual that had experienced a midlife crisis, and of course Sydney raises her hand to answer the

Boondocks Drive

Occasionally, my job takes me outside the bank and off the beaten path. I don’t mean just a little way off the path, I mean way off. Back to the boondocks, to the back forty, it’s not the end of the earth but you can see it from here. However you choose to describe that place, getting there is always the best part of the trip. I love those outings! Earlier this year, I traveled to a farm to look at a set of cows a customer was interested in buying. I knew the general area but when I asked for specific directions to the place, the last landmark on the journey was “take a left at the decorative manure spreader”. Now you’ve got my attention. Decorative manure spreader? I’ve spent a fair portion of my life around manure spreaders but I would never call any of them “decorative”. You can get lots of different mental pictures at the mere mention of a decorative manure spreader. Does it have little bells on it? Has someone planted petunias in it? Is it functional? What kind of image