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Nom the Mom 2015 Winner: Colleen  by Tara


To say Colleen was surprised is pretty much the understatement of the century! Join us as we shock the daylights out of this amazing mother of 11 and all around selfless woman by naming her our 2015 Nom the Mom winner.

Nom the Mom 2015: Meet the Finalists  by Tara


Nom the Mom 2015 VOTE (Promo)

Every family has traditions that they hold dear. One of ours at Linn Area Credit Union is our contest that seeks out truly spectacular moms. And – hold your hats – this is our FIFTH year! The task of sorting through all the stories of the 43 nominated moms was nearly impossible! (To see ALL of the nominees, just click here!)

If you nominated someone in this contest, I beg of you to TELL HER! Moms need to hear how loved they are! I can personally guarantee that any mom nominated would be floored that you took the time and care to think of them. She might even bake you an Italian cream cake. (Just a friendly suggestion if you’re reading this, Mom!)

Whittling down to 3 deserving moms was tougher than an arm wrestling with Chuck Norris. However, a trusty group of  fellow Linn Areainites carried the weight on their shoulders. Each separately reviewed each entry and then submit their top 10 moms to me. I complied their votes, weighted them, and the top 3 moms emerged to become your finalists in the Nom the Mom contest!

Now YOU have the toughest job of them all – CHOOSING the deserving mom who will win the Elevate Salon & Spa Pampering Prize Package worth $250 (info on HOW to vote is right after the three stories).

Here they are, in alphabetical order:


The Mom: Colleen

Nominated by: Kris (her daughter)

Mom has been there for her family always. As a mother of 11 children she took care of us like a champ! Since she was homemaker and dad supported us financially, mom didn’t have a break and never complained. For 20+ years she was busy changing diapers, going to parent/teacher conferences, fixing our bumps and scrapes and being our biggest supporter. I think of the many sleepless nights and long days she had as several of us would have the stomach flu and mom would be washing out our “sick buckets” and aiding us back to health.

Having to care for so many and delivering child #7 only 2 weeks after the tragic death of our 6 year old brother. Tending to my little sister who had severe and profound special needs and frequent seizures, getting her to every doctor appointment dragging several kids with her to each visit. Coping with the loss of her second child (our sister) while still being the strong stoic mother for all of us. At the end of the day a hot meal on the table by 5:30 p.m. each night.

As a mother myself, I have grown in admiration, appreciation and respect for my mom. I only raised two and know how challenging parenting can be! I cannot fully understand how mom managed raising all of us so successfully. She is the most selfless person I know and continues to put her children’s needs before herself.

In 2009 we lost our dad to a terminal illness just 3 months after he was diagnosed. Mom was an outstanding caregiver to him through it all. Respecting his wishes to pass away at home required care around the clock and mom was strong and amazing through it all and he died a very peaceful death. She lost her husband and best friend of 53 years and continued with her life determined to focus on her blessings.

Mom has always been loving and supportive of all of us through our lives and is still our “go to” when we need support or have excitement to share. I look back on my childhood with fond memories. We didn’t go out to dinner, have a fancy house, take vacations or have the nicest cars, we had a childhood of laughter, backyard games and car rides on warm summer nights. I am blessed to have been born to such an amazing mother and I love her so incredibly much. Thank you mom for all you have given me and our family! (Click here to vote now for Colleen!)


The Mom: Gloria

Nominated by: Stanley (her son)

My Mom is my sunshine. I am her 45 year old disabled son, Stanley, and the things she does for me and helps me with is endless. I’m kind of thinking this contest is for younger people writing about their Moms, but I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to share my Mom with you and the rest of the Linn Area family.

When it’s time for groceries, I send her a list and she does the shopping and delivers them to my home since I am unable. When hard financial times hit, she’s always there to “bail me out” of the situation and help me get back on my feet, all with Motherly love and patience. When I’m having a bad day I call her to help brighten my day with assurance that this day will soon pass and not to sweat the small things. When she goes to the pet store, she always thinks about my cat, Cairo, and picks him up a toy or some catnip, all without me asking. She regularly invites me over for breakfast, lunch or dinner and fixes some of the best food I’ve had.

My Mom is also one of the hardest workers you’ll meet (which I hope you have the chance to do so). She holds down a full-time job, Nannies and babysits on the nights and weekends, keeps her two cats in the best possible living conditions (oh how she spoils them!) and yet has the time to do the numerous things that I need for me to get by, all without a single complaint. She is so dedicated to make my life better as time goes by and never, ever gives up even though I may falter from time to time.

As things may have it, I may very well leave this Earth before her, but I look forward to every minute I can be with, talk with and enjoy my Mother’s wonderful and beautiful presence. She is so selfless, I think her picture should be in the dictionary for that word. My Mom’s name is Gloria. In Latin, that means “Glory”. There couldn’t be a more appropriate word for her. Thank you for taking the time to read my entry. It may be short on words, but sometimes words can’t describe the power of a Mom. I think that is the case here. Words just can’t say enough. (To cast your vote for Gloria, click here now!)


The Mom: Rachel

Nominated by: Chad (her husband)

I nominate my wonderful wife of 4 beautiful children who works extremely hard at everything she does. We have a 17 year old son, 6 year old son, 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son. My wife works about 65-75 hours a week and still finds time for her family.

About 6.5 years ago her grandmother had a stroke and Rachel stepped up to the plate and took care of her. She needed 24 hour care and so grandma moved in with us. Grandma required 24 hours a day care and was not able to afford anything else. Rachel made a vow that nobody in her family would see a nursing home and as long as she could she would take care of her family. Grandma passed about July 2014, which was very hard on Rachel. Six years of taking care of her grandma and revolving her world around it she was at a loss. Besides working, taking care of children and grandma she went back to school to better herself.

Rachel doesn’t have a lot of alone time for just her and of course our financial situation doesn’t allow much time to play as well. Rachel is the most passionate person with a heart of gold that you will meet. She takes pride in her job and what she does to help others. She takes pride in her family and how she tries to keep them organized, involved and well respected children. She works two jobs as a Certified Medical Assistant and trains a lot of the new employees at both jobs. She is well respected at her jobs and enjoys her work.

Rachel is caring and loving. She helps are elderly neighbors next door. She will take over meals, clear the driveway, teach the kids to help out as well especially with the trash cans on trash day. She will take the kids over to visit and even take the one neighbor’s dog, Neffy for a walk with the kids. She tries to teach our kids the value of a person and what you can do to make them happy and feel good at a good well respected cost.

Rachel is always around with a smile on her face even on a bad day. I feel she deserves this and much more for all she does. She deserves it for all the hours she works away from home or at home. She deserves this for all the hard work she has done and the values she tries to teach. Rachel deserves this because she is Rachel and if you ever meet her you would know. She has a glow all the time. (Ready to vote for Rachel? Click here now!)

How to vote!

To vote, click here! Anyone at all can vote – whether you have Facebook or not (we made sure of it!). Only one vote per person! We will be watching IP addresses and reserve the right to remove any votes we believe are not in compliance with our rules, so please play fair!

The knock-your-socks-off mom that gets the most votes by midnight on May 9th will win a Pampering Prize Package worth $250! So please go vote and help one deserving mom have the best Mother’s Day ever!

VOTE: Meet our 2014 Nom the Mom Finalists!  by Tara


Nom the Mom 2014 VOTE (FB Size)Holy buckets, you guys! We asked for stories about fabulous moms and, ohhh boy, did you ever deliver! We were overjoyed by the response we got for our fourth annual Nom the Mom contest (want to see the pics of some of our nominees? Go here!).

You know how Oscar nominees always say “It’s an honor just to be nominated!” Well, I think that that is particularly true in this contest. What mom wouldn’t want to hear how amazing she is??? So thank you to everyone who shared their lovely moms with us! I wish that we could have selected ALL of those that were nominated! But *sigh* it just isn’t possible.

So once again, I asked for a volunteer committee of five Linn Area employees to each separately review each entry and then submit their top 5 moms to me. I complied their votes and the top 3 moms emerged to become your finalists in the Nom the Mom contest!

Now YOU have the toughest job of them all – CHOOSING the deserving mom who will win the Elevate Salon & Spa Pampering Prize Package worth $250 (info on HOW to vote is right after the three stories).

Here they are, in alphabetical order:

The Mom: Laura

Nominated by: Jill & Christine (her daughters)

Everyone claims their mom is the best. But mine really is. Of course she taught us those all important- and quite useful skills- of walking, talking, and potty training. (Thanks for those mom!) However, the things my mother have taught of the most importance, are things she taught by example. Through my school years she woke in the morning to make her pot of coffee and a batch of muffins before shuffling us out the door for school and then off to work her full time job. After work, she shuttled to and from our sports activities, made dinner, and helped with homework. She spent hours and hours proofing my papers- even through college. After getting us off to bed, she would then do house chores, pay bills, and her own homework (Yes, she even went to school!). When my father began his own business, she was his biggest supporter; she was also the only other employee. Now 14 years later, he has a fleet of eleven semi-trucks, and she still tackles this full-time office position daily.

But these don’t even scratch the surface of describing how wonderful she is. Four years ago on April 11, my brother was in a tragic motorcycle accident. He was taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s where his prognosis was grim. As they loaded him in the helicopter to life flight him to the U of I hospital, my parents were told to be prepared to say goodbye. With a few dozen miracles on his side, he hung in there. My mom stayed by his bedside every moment she was allowed those first days. She literally did not close her eyes for nearly three days, out of fear of missing any of the moments he might have left. He was in critical condition for days, in an induced coma for weeks, and in the hospital for a total of 174 days. His accident left him, a 19 year old, paralyzed from his chest down. It was just 4 days before his 20th birthday that he finally went home. Leaving the hospital was an exciting stage- but not nearly the end of the healing road. My mom tried to go back to work full-time, but was eventually laid off. Although rough, it enabled her to better manage my brother’s needs at the time. After leaving the hospital he still needed assistance with wound care, medications, and mobility. He still had several surgeries ahead. She shuttled him daily to physical therapy, group exercise, and appointments as far as Mayo Clinic.

Now, just past the four year anniversary, he has started driving lessons and gone back to school. I graduated college. My sister started college. I bought a house. She has devoted herself to making sure that we were all set up to succeed- regardless of the situation. She has always been the glue in our family and our biggest fans- and far too often received too little gratitude. She deserves to be pampered because she has always taken the time for everyone else but herself.  (Click here to vote now for Laura!)


The Mom: Jennifer

Nominated by: Amanda (her stepdaughter)

Jennifer, often called J.J by those of us closest to her does everything at 150%. Whether it’s baking cookies, cleaning house, having dance parties in her garage, or fighting the tumor in her brain…she simply doesn’t hold anything back. J.J. came into my life about 17 years ago when I was about 13. My younger sister Ashley and I were unsure at first about Dad’s new girlfriend and eventually fiancé as we are fortunate enough to have an amazing Mother ourselves.

The whole “Step Mom” persona was showing its ugly face and we just weren’t so sure we needed another Mom. But as it turns out, we hit the jackpot in gaining another Mother figure, and better yet friend in Jennifer. I still am not fond of the term “Step Mom”. Maybe I watched Cinderella too many times as a child, but that label makes me cringe. There’s nothing “step” about her. J.J. to me, was that very important woman in my life who I could turn to…a friend.

But one that, on top of my Mom and Dad, played a hand in shaping who I am. After our Dad and J.J. were married they welcomed our youngest sister Olivia into the world. Jen and Olivia had an immediate and special kind of bond. I’ve watched her publicly make a fool out of herself to make her laugh, encouraged her to love the skin she’s in, and created some of the best Halloween costumes and decorations for their favorite Holiday. I could list a million things that are alike about them, or that they’ve done together, or stories about how Jen has gone above and beyond for her mini me. But that wouldn’t be enough.

It’s impossible almost to put into 500 words what makes someone a magnificent Mother. It’s something you’re born with. Something that is just in you. For me, especially in my adult life, she has been a friend, a shoulder to cry on, someone to celebrate with, and someone to turn to. J.J. listens and empathizes and immediately starts to problem solve.

This past August when Jennifer was diagnosed with Glioblastoma we were devastated. But oddly enough, it was HER spirit and HER strength that lifted us all up. Jennifer is superwoman. No REALLY…I think she has a superwoman costume under her clothes and at night when we all go to sleep she is out saving people and fixing things. Between radiation and chemo, she still manages to take care of the people around her. But cancer is just a detail in a very amazing life. Jennifer….J.J… just good. Her spirit and her heart are gifts that aren’t often seen. Olivia, Ashley and I are lucky. Everyone who knows her is lucky. #FaasStrong (Click here to vote for Jennifer now!)


The Mom: Rachel

Nominated by: Matthew (her husband)

My wife Rachel is the most amazing mother I know. When it comes to our two sons Joey and Charlie, she is the most selfless and caring parent a kid could ask for. She is always there for them, whether it is to praise and cheer their achievements, or to console and give advice when things don’t go as planned. She has an undying love and patience with our kids that is both amazing and inspiring all at the same time. In any instance, she has that perfect “mom hug” that makes things feel even better – or lets them know everything is going to be okay.

Always a teacher at heart, she is always showing them how to do things around the house. She does this obviously so they learn responsibility and self-dependence, but in turn it is also helping make them more confident about themselves and their abilities. She also encourages their creative sides, and lets them know it is okay to express who they are and how they feel. She also helps stir their imagination by doing arts and crafts, or by sharing her love for reading and encouraging them to get lost in a good book.

One of the most important lessons she is trying to teach them is that you have to work hard to get what you want in life, and you should never give up. They have not only heard how important it is to get a good education and to make the best of what you have, they have also seen it with their own eyes. Rachel has showed them this first hand herself by going back to college to earn her B.A. degree in teaching. When she graduates in May of this year, Joey and Charlie will have witnessed four years of her hard work, sacrifice, the sleepless nights, the up’s and down’s, and even some of the tears that go with being a full-time student. In the end, they will see the reward when she accepts the diploma she earned and (hopefully) gets a position she wants in her career field. To top off this entire achievement, she has done this while continuing to be a full-time Mom and wife as well. Given the craziness of our household, this has certainly not been a small task.

Our sons are incredibly proud of their Mom, and feel very lucky to have her in their lives. The guidance and inspiration Joey and Charlie receive from her is something I wish all kids could experience in their lives. I know when she becomes a teacher, her students will feel the same as Joey and Charlie – and be that much better for having her in their lives. So because of this, on behalf of Joey and Charlie: I would like to nominate their awesome Mom (and my wife) Rachel for this award. She is very deserving and it would be a wonderful way to thank her for all that she does. (Click here now to vote for Rachel!)


How to vote!

To vote, click here! Anyone at all can vote – whether you have Facebook or not (we made sure of it!). Only one vote per person! We will be watching IP addresses and reserve the right to remove any votes we believe are not in compliance with our rules, so please play fair!

The knock-your-socks-off mom that gets the most votes by midnight on May 9th will win a Pampering Prize Package worth $250! So please go vote and help one deserving mom have the best Mother’s Day ever!

Contest: Nom the Mom 2014  by Tara


Nom the Mom 2014 (em)

She wiped your drippy nose. She was at every soccer game, rain or sunshine. She has inspired you with her quiet (or not so quiet) confidence. She even has eyes in the back of her head. Now it’s time to celebrate her awesomeness!

For the fourth year in a row, we are honored to partner with Elevate Salon & Spa (formerly City Looks Salon & Spa) to provide a relaxing pampering experience valued at $250 to one knock-your-socks-off Mom.

To nominate that super-spectacular mom in your life (your mom, wife, sister, grandma, friend, co-worker, etc.) just go here. Be sure to include a picture of the lovely lady you are gushing about! (No – you do NOT have to have Facebook to participate!)

All entries are due by midnight on Monday, April 28th.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to Nom YOUR Mom!

2013 Nom the Mom Adventure (Part 2)  by Tara


It was about 10:30 on Friday the 10th of May and I had just finished surprising the winner of our 2013 Nom the Mom contest (click here to see the video). It was time to hand deliver gorgeous flower arrangements to our two runners up, Esther and Pat!

Esther was next on my list.

To be honest, Esther had the shortest entry to ever make it to the a finalist spot and the one that I knew the least about. Her son, Dale, nominated her, but he now lives in the Philippines so wasn’t able to be part of our surprise. I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

I pulled up to her driveway and instantly felt like I could have been outside my own Grandma’s house. On the porch sat a half dozen flower pots with blooming buds and a brightly colored rocking chair with a decorative pillow.

You know how walking into a stranger’s home can feel a wee bit, um, awkward? Nope, not at Esther’s house! Esther’s son, Charlie, met me at the door with a smile. As I stepped inside, it seemed as though I had popped into a regular family gathering. The woman of the hour, Esther, was seated in what I imagine is her favorite chair, covered with a light blanket. Her daughter, SharEstheron, and granddaughter (who doubles as her caretaker) were there as well. Oh, and we can’t forget Julie, Esther’s granddaughter’s adorable pup.

Esther’s family was so excited that she had not only been nominated, but was a finalist. They weren’t very familiar with the contest, so I pulled out the entry and read it out loud to the group. As I read the simple nomination, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Well, maybe Julie. ;o) (Read her nomination here.)

Esther Parents

Esther’s Parents

It was time to start digging in to learn more about this wonderful woman, 94 years young.  Esther was born on December 24, 1918. She came from humble beginnings on a German settlement in Missouri. Women didn’t have the right to vote, welfare was nonexistent, but people in this very poor settlement joined together to help one another. (Hmm… that sounds A LOT like our credit union’s entire foundation!)

Esther Kids

Esther’s 7 Kids

Esther gave birth to 7  – YES, SEVEN – kids: Charlie, Dale, Sharon, Doug, Vicky, Van and Denny. Extra bonus points go to Esther because Vicky and Van are twins. As if having 7 kids wasn’t a challenge in itself, their father was an alcoholic and left them.

But our heroine wouldn’t let that get her down. In 1954, she moved her family to Cedar Rapids to make a better life for the kids. She got a job working at Farmstead Packing, which was a meat packing company. For nearly 30 years, you could find Esther there packing pigs feet. Looking at this small framed woman, it is next to impossible to imagine her in that line of work. But she did what she needed to do to provide for her family.

She achieved quite an American dream in 1956 when she was able to buy a home for her family. In fact, this was the very home I was sitting in. Sharon began to talk about how when they moved in, they had no running water. She even went on to show me the bathroom that they later added on. It was a very monumental occasion!

5 Generations!!!

No matter the challenge Esther was faced with, she handled it with grace, something her children took to heart. Sharon recalled a story from her childhood. Though Esther’s family was poor, their neighbor was really, really poor. Around Christmas, a young neighbor so badly wanted to bake a cake for her parents, but couldn’t afford the sugar. And guess what? Even though money was scarce, Esther helped that little kid fulfill her Christmas wish. This story seems to perfectly sum up this amazing, selfless woman.

Esther 80 Bday 2

All 7 kids celebrating Esther’s 80th birthday

When you looked around Esther’s tidy little home, the very first thing you notice are pictures. She is literally surrounded by those who love her at all times, even if they aren’t there physically.




Let me break THIS down for you: Esther has 7 kids (ranging in age from 57 to 76), 26 grand kids, 33 great grand kids, and 22 great, great grand kids. That is a whole lot of limbs on her family tree, folks!

Esther had a tradition of making every single grandchild a quilt. The first Esther Quiltsthing you probably thought was, “Oh my goodness, Esther! That’s a pant-load of quilts, girl!” Okay, maybe that’s just me. But they showed me two of her quilts and, honestly, they were more like works of art. Every stitch hand sewn with intricate detail. Charlie had a very wise idea to start embroidering her name on each of the quilts so they can continue to be passed down for generations and generations to come.

In my short 60 minutes with Esther, I felt like even I became part of the family. She is warm, calm, and carries a strength in her eyes that you know is product of every challenge she’s ever conquered. It was nothing short of an honor to meet such an awe-inspiring woman.

PatMy final stop of this 2013 Nom the Mom adventure would be at Pat’s work. Unfortunately, she was very busy and unable to talk for very long. Though Pat and I didn’t have the opportunity to chat, I did talk with her daughter, Katie, a few times and know for certain that Pat has been an incredible mom. (Read her nomination here.)

On behalf of Linn Area Credit Union, thank you to all of you who have been part of this Nom the Mom adventure. Whether you nominated, voted, or just read along – THANK YOU! Start thinking now of who you want to nominate next year. ;o)


2013 Nom the Mom Adventure (Part 1)  by Tara


Nom the Mom 2013 finalists blogOne of my favorite things about Linn Area Credit Union is that “We Are Family” isn’t just a tagline, but really, our lifeline. Family is our pulse.

Though we run lots of contests throughout the year, Nom the Mom is the one I look most forward to. Over the last three years we have been introduced to some extraordinary women and the people who love them. This year was no exception. (Click here to read about our our finalists from 2011, 2012 and, of course, 2013.) We had nearly 30 ridiculously wonderful moms nominated, which is actually a record number of nominations. (Want to see our other 2013 nominees? Go here!)

Just like you, when I woke up on Friday morning, I had NO clue which of our deserving finalists had won – Esther, Kaci, or Pat. The race had been too close to call the night prior. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I raced to my computer to pull up the contest software and – AHH – there she was. In the tightest race in our Nom the Mom history, Kaci emerged the winner by only 3 votes.

I hopped into my trusty car, pulled out my GPS (lovingly referred to as Lady Garmin), and began to plug in addresses. My 2013 Nom the Mom adventure was about to begin! Weeeeeee!!!

My first stop was Covington & Company, a fabulous little flower and event shop right by the Paramount in downtown Cedar Rapids. Because all of our finalists were outstanding, we wanted each these jaw-droppingly superb ladies to get something. Covington & Company designed stunning flower arrangements for the two runners up. Now, when I say stunning – I’m not over exaggerating, pinky swear. I was literally squealing with delight inside the shop!

You might be wondering how I go about tracking down each of the ladies. The day before the contest ends, I always contact each person who nominated a finalist and work with them to determine where their mom will be the following morning so I can surprise them either with the grand prize or flowers. The nominator is, of course, invited to be in on all the fun.

The first finalist I was scheduled to meet with happened to be Kaci, the WINNER! What a FUN way to kickoff the day!

Kaci has what I refer to as the “Unicorn Situation”. What on earth is that, Tara? When someone is nominated by their *wait for it* mother-in-law. Yeah, I’ll let that just soak in for a second.*pausing* Yep, totally my idea of a Unicorn Situation because that kind of thing just doesn’t happen.

Kaci was at work on that Friday morning, so Jan, her mother-in-law, met me in the parking lot of her workplace. Naturally, Jan’s first question was, “Did she win?!?!” I simply smiled, opened my trunk and showed her the beautiful City Looks Salon & Spa gift basket. She teared up, now knowing that her daughter-in-law had indeed won the Pampering Prize Package.

That’s when I found out that somehow my new chatty friend Jan had managed to keep the whole contest top secret. She didn’t even tell her own son (Kaci’s husband) or Kaci’s side of the family in fear that it would get back to her. That alone is amazing! (Read Kaci’s nomination here.) Jan reached out to everyone she knew, including her pastor. When he didn’t respond right away, well Jan went ahead and followed up with a “Hey, are you ignoring me?” email. Don’t worry – he ended up pulling through! Shoot, maybe he was one of the 3 votes that helped her win?? Can I get an Amen?!?

Since this was going to be a Kacicomplete surprise, we had to be pretty strategic. Jan had done some behind the scenes work the day before, collaborating with Kaci’s super cool boss. Kaci was pulled into “a meeting” *wink wink* with her boss, which was actually more of a ploy to make sure we would be able to reach her when the time was right. And, good golly, was the timing ever right. :o)

The receptionist called Kaci and her boss up to the front. Naturally, when Kaci saw her mother-in-law randomly there with a stranger (moi), she looked a little confused. Well, very confused. After I assured her that everything was okay, this is what happened:

Later that afternoon I got an email from Jan. In it she shared the text message that Kaci had sent shortly after we Kaci and Jan2surprised her:

“I am STILL in SHOCK and DISBELIEF and I feel like I should SHARE it with you… how stinkin CUTE!”

It is very easy to relate to Kaci. She is just like you and me – just a really GREAT mom who always, ALWAYS puts her family first. And thanks to the love and tenacity of her mother-in-law, Kaci will be able to put herself first, even if only for the duration of her 60 minute massage.

Congratulations to Kaci!

I figured that it would be pretty hard to top the energy of my meeting with Kaci, but was I ever surprised! My next stop was to meet Esther and, I am telling you, you are going to want to read about this dynamite lady.

Join us Monday for her story and to hear about the rest of my 2013 Nom the Mom adventure.

In the comments below, let us know how YOU spent Mother’s Day!

Nom the Mom 2013: Meet the finalists!  by Tara


MomsHoly buckets, you guys! We asked for stories about fabulous moms and, ohhh boy, did you ever deliver! We were overjoyed by the response we got for our third annual Nom the Mom contest (want to see the pics of some of our nominees? Go here!).

You know how Oscar nominees always say “It’s an honor just to be nominated!” Well, I think that that is particularly true in this contest. What mom wouldn’t want to hear how amazing she is??? So thank you to everyone who shared their lovely moms with us! I wish that we could have selected ALL of those that were nominated! But *sigh* it just isn’t possible.

So once again, I asked for a volunteer committee of five Linn Area employees to each separately review each entry and then submit their top 5 moms to me. A BIG thank you goes out to Jess (Finance), Stacey (Member Services), Debra (HR), Amy (Collections) and Matt (Compliance)! I complied their votes and the top 3 moms emerged to become your finalists in the Nom the Mom contest!

Now YOU have the toughest job of them all – CHOOSING the deserving mom who will win the Pampering Prize Package worth $250 (info on HOW to vote is right after the three stories).

Here they are, in alphabetical order:


The Mom: Esther

Nominated by: Dale (her son)

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. Prov. 31:10. For most of her 94 years Mom has fulfilled for us her children this proverb. She has taught us by her example good manners, to live quietly and honestly, and to be a faithful wife and parent her husband and children could safely trust. Her name is Esther(Click here to vote now for Ester!)


The Mom: Kaci

Nominated by: Jan (her mother-in-law)

The “SPECIAL” in the MOM I NOM is the over the TOP LOVE she exemplifies. She is a MOM whose children are her EVERYTHING. She is teaching them so many dynamic characteristics they will need to face the upcoming challenges of our next generation. She LEADS by example teaching them healthy eating habits , physical exercise and discipline. They have to earn their screen time by eating five veggies a day. Today, she told her 4 year old son she needed to grab a bite to eat before they ran errands and he said: Have a SALAD mom w/tomatoes !! Since a very young age she has taught them to read, spell, and math. She has taken them to the library since they were very young also and the 4 year old has had his OWN library card for several months. He knows what area his books are in and knows how to check them out. She has taught them the value of money and saving. If they see a PENNY in the street they will pick it up and put it in their banks.. They enjoy recycling and going “GREEN”.She has taught them it is important to respect others and their property. I have to say that our daughter-in-law is ABOVE & BEYOND any MOM I could ever dream of to raise our grandchildren ~~ THE NEXT GENERATION… (Click here to vote for Kaci now!)


The Mom: Pat

Nominated by: Katie (her daughter)

I’m nominating my mom because she has been my teacher, best friend, counselor, provider, and protector. She was a single mother raising both my sister and I as well as holding two jobs to pay for everything. She has had a few health problems but despite it she started a support group and helped others even though she had her own that she was trying to deal with. She always taught us values growing up, right from wrong, and to be nice to everyone no matter what they’ve done. She’s been there for me listening to me rant and rave about life and giving me advice to help me through. She’s always patient and kind even to complete strangers. She has always provided me with everything I needed love, nurturing, clothes, a safe home, and money when I was a little low. She has been my protector through a lot from bad relationships to my health issues that I’ve been going through for the past couple years. I’ve never been able to get her a really great gift and I think this would be the best gift ever and it couldn’t go to a more deserving person then my mom. I love you mom and all the support you’ve given me through my life! (Click here now to vote for Pat!)

How to vote!

To vote, click here! Anyone at all can vote – whether you have Facebook or not (we made sure of it!). Only one vote per person! We will be watching IP addresses and reserve the right to remove any votes we believe are not in compliance with our rules, so please play fair!

The knock-your-socks-off mom that gets the most votes by midnight on May 9th will win a Pampering Prize Package worth $250! So please go vote and help one deserving mom have the best Mother’s Day ever!

Nom the Mom 2012: Surprising the finalists!  by Tara


Three incredible women. Nearly 300 votes. One winner was determined, but all three were honored. Here’s how it all went down when we surprised each on the finalists on Friday, May 11th:

Judy Brewer
Status: Runner Up

Surprised at: Carlos O’Kelley’s
Co-Conspirator: Elizabeth, her daughter

Judy was already having a fabulous Friday when I came to surprise her. Elizabeth was graduating from college the following day, so Judy’s sister came up for a visit and all the girls planned on doing lunch together followed by a pedicure. Oh la la! I worked with Elizabeth to catch them just after they got seated at Carlos O’Kelley’s. After a series of texts, calls and one really awful parking job, I met Elizabeth outside the restaurant, where she led me to meet the wonderful Judy.

As I approached the table with a gorgeous arrangement of flowers, her mom’s face erupted into a huge smile. I introduced myself and let her know that she was a runner up in our contest. She was extremely grateful and overwhelmed with the honor. Like the selfless mom that we’ve come to know and love, Judy started gushing about how fabulous her daughter is. It was obvious that these two have an incredible relationship.

I didn’t keep the family very long so that they could continue on with the rest of their “girls day,” although I’m certain Judy would have been totally fine if I started sneaking a few chips with salsa and then joined them for a pedi. That’s just the kind of wonderful mama she is!

Karen Brenneman
Status: Runner Up
Surprised at: Her Home
Co-Conspirator: Greg, her son

Surprising Karen was a little bit different. She had taken the day off work, so Greg and I weren’t sure where she would be at any given time. So instead of trying to chase her down, I called to let her know about the little surprise that Linn Area Credit Union wanted to give her. I have to tell you that even after a short convo on the phone, it was easy to tell why she had so many votes of support. Such a sweetheart!

I popped over to Karen’s home in the afternoon and was greeted with a warm smile. She was just as easy to talk to in person as she was on the phone – whew! As we chatted about the contest, Karen started to tell me about how her son Greg can’t keep a secret and told her right away about his story. It was really cute.  8-) As she told me more about her children and how proud she is of them, the tears started coming. Oh man. Even I got a little choked up!

Karen certainly is an amazing woman and we’re so glad that Greg nominated her!

Helen Girard
Status: Winner of the City Looks Salon & Spa Day of Beauty
Surprised at: Truman Elementary
Co-Conspirator: Shirley, her daughter

For the second year in a row, the person your chose as your winner had NO IDEA that she was even nominated. (I swear, I don’t know how people make it happen!) When Shirley heard about the contest, she started to contact not just her own friends and family, but she got in contact with the schools that Helen volunteers at. Many of the votes came from parents and past students whose lives she had touched tremendously. But Shirley didn’t stop there. Nope. She hacked into her mom’s email and managed to get contact info for Helen’s past colleagues and friends from college. Talk about a group effort.

Shirley continued her super stealth moves, determining where her mom would be volunteering that afternoon and then working with that school to allow us the clearance to make the BIG surprise. So at 2:00 pm on Friday afternoon, I pulled into Truman Elementary and waited for the “a-ok” from Shirley. Funny story, as Shirley was arriving at the school, her mom was on the road at the same time. Shirley had to quickly divert to a side street before Helen noticed her!

Once I got the all clear, Shirley and a Truman co-conspirator ushered me to the perfect hiding place off to the side on the gym. Shirley stood with me, shaking with excitement. Literally, the girl was shaking like a leaf. We could hear them bringing in the group of kindergarteners that Helen was working with that day. Helen joined them, none the wiser… cue me and a basket of goodies! (Click here to see the video of how it all went down!)

To say that Helen was shocked is the understatement of the year. In true form, after the initial shock, Helen turned to the group of kids and started to tell them how special each and every one of them are. Sure, her words were directed to the kids that were in the gym at that very moment, but it was clear to me that they applied to every person that she had ever influenced. This woman whole-heartedly believes in the success of the kids, not only in school, but in their home lives as well.

Needless to say, there were lots of tears and hugs.

As we started to give Helen more details about the contest, she was overwhelmed to find out how many people had come out of the woodwork to vote for her. What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when Helen reads all the wonderful comments that people left as to why she was deserving of the Day of Beauty. Hopefully there are many boxes of Kleenex available for that tear jerking experience!

Indeed, Helen is very deserving of some pampering and we’re proud that she will reign as our Linn Area Credit Union 2012 Nom the Mom!

We couldn’t be happier that these three women were our 2012 Nom the Mom finalists. What impeccable examples of love, strength and unconditional love. Congratulations goes out to all of them and their families! A big thank you goes out to City Looks Salon & Spa for putting together the gorgeous basket for our winner. And, of course, thanks to all of you who voted!

Nom the Mom 2012: The winner is…  by Tara


After nearly 300 votes for the finalists, I’m excited to give you the woman YOU voted as Linn Area Credit Union’s 2012 Nom the Mom. Check out the video of us surprising her:

Congratulations to our winner and to our other finalists!!! you are all amazing women! Happy Mother’s Day!

Nom the Mom 2012: Meet the finalists!  by Tara


Oh my word! We were overwhelmed by the response we got for our second annual Nom the Mom contest (want to see the pics of some of our nominees? Go here!). I wish that we could have selected ALL of those that were nominated! But *sigh* it just isn’t possible.

So once again, I asked for a volunteer committee of five Linn Area employees to each separately review each entry and then submit their top 3 moms to me. A BIG thank you goes out to Jess (Finance), Liz (Fraud Specialist), Kathy (Collections), Amy (Collections) and Matt (Compliance)! I complied their votes and the top 3 moms emerged to become your finalists in the Nom the Mom contest!

Now YOU have the toughest job of them all – CHOOSING the deserving mom who will win the City Looks Salon & Spa Day of Beauty (info on HOW to vote is right after the three stories).

Are you ready for this? You might want to grab some kleenex first. Okay, I warned you! Here they are, in alphabetical order:

The Mom: Karen Brenneman

Nominated by: Greg (her son)

My mother’s name is Karen Brenneman.  She is the mother of two young men, Greg (24) and Grant (21).  She has been married to my father, Scott, for the past 31 years.  She is a trustworthy, faithful, loving, compassionate, strong willed, dedicated, and most of all patient mother.  She displays all these qualities day in and day out.  Her and my father have worked together nearly their whole lives.  She was born in Cedar Rapids and was moved around as a child.  She was an Kindergarten Teacher for a few years before going into business with my father.  She has been involved in me and my brothers lives tremendously between school and sports.  She loves a good glass of wine and time with friends.

My mother deserves to be nominated because of all her qualities she displays.  She goes to church every sunday and participates in small groups (small group leader), she also helps be the host at are church every 4th Month.  She is a faithful follower of Christ.  As listed about my mother has numerous qualities that stand out but there is one thing my mother is dealing with that a guarantee no other mother is dealing with.  My mother has a medical condition called “Frozen Shoulder.”  It is exactly what it sounds like.  Her shoulder has frozen and she literally can’t completely use her arm.  Her arm is constantly at her side 24 hours a day and has been this way since December.  This condition can last up to 2 years.  She has been going to physical therapy but have not seen any progress yet.  My mother does all the things that mothers typically do.  She cooks, cleans, works, runs errands and mothers the family like a loving mother should.  The best part is she does with one arm.  Her arm will not extend or even go up more than a few degrees.  Her hand its self can’t get much higher than her waist.  Try doing laundry or cooking or trying to carry in groceries.  Even the easiest things like closing your car door has become a chore.  The pain for me and my family is emotional because I can see the pain in my mothers eyes.  There are days she just breaks down due to the frustration of not being able to enjoy life.  She randomly gets shooting pain from her shoulder in her arm and she has to stop everything she is doing till it goes away.  The pain is so intense it brings tears to her eyes and just kills me to see her going through this.

Personally I believe my mother needs a day of rest, relaxation and beauty from her ongoing struggle with her frozen shoulder.  She is a very strong women but after these last 5 months she is due for a little “Women Time.”  Please nominate my mother for this years Mother of the Year … She truly deserves every minute of it.

The Mom: Judy Brewer

Nominated by: Elizabeth (her daughter)

I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine – she helps me grow, prosper, and reach great heights.  ~Terri Guillemets

For all my life I knew I wanted to be a mother.  A mother has an everlasting place in their children’s heart and soul.  For this I am sure because this is where my mother is.  She is always with me; in my heart telling me that she loves me; in my soul telling me to be the strong woman she knows I can be; in my ear telling me over the phone everyday how much she misses me; in my mind reminding me to always be the best person I can be; and next to me holding my hand.

My mother lost her parent’s by the age of­­ 20.  I have never heard her complain or become discouraged.  All I hear are great reminders of how amazing her parents were and how proud they would be of the family she has made.  Her parents molded her into the strong woman she has become, and my mother is still molding me into the woman that I am and the woman I want to be.

No matter the stresses and hardships I put my mother through, she cries with me, picks me up, straightens me out, smiles with me, and puts me on the right path.  Most parents can’t wait to have their children move out of the house.  I am 22, finishing college, and living with my parents.  Every single day my mother tells me how God has blessed her with keeping me with her, if just for a few more months.

When the time comes for me to start my career and move away, this will be the time when she will show her true strength.  She will cry.  She will smile.  She will beg for me to stay just one more day.  But she will give me a big hug and a kiss, and slip some money in my hand as I walk away.  She will want me to stay, but she will also encourage me to start the new chapter in my life.  Her heart and words will stay with me as I move on, but she will let me go and grow as an adult and continue to grow until I can be the wife and mother I know her to be.

As I begin the next chapter of my life, I will always remember the words my mother taught me.  To always be kind, helpful, graceful, and loving. Every night as I went to sleep as a child she would whisper in my ear, “I love you forever. I like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be”. I will always remember these words and they will shape me into the mother I will some day become. I could only hope and pray to become half the woman I know her to be.

The Mom: Helen Girard

Nominated by: Shirley Girard (her daughter)

I would like to nominate my mom, Helen Girard, for the Mother’s Day contest. Why, you ask? Here goes:

My mom, although married for 20 years of her time being a mom, has spent the majority those years as a single parent. My older brother is Autistic, learning disabled, and has a nerve disorder, among other developmental issues. He was diagnosed at age 5 &has had a rough road since then. She spends a considerable amount of her life making sure he is alright. This includes meetings with his supervised living staff, taking him to and from places (he can’t drive), & just making sure he has what he needs.

Growing up, I used to get frustrated sometimes because several of my friends would call the house, my mom would answer, & I wasn’t given the phone until they chatted for several minutes. A few times, they actually called to talk to her. I have several friends who still feel that she was like a mom to them growing up because she cared for them so & was often there for them when even their own family wasn’t. She wasn’t in the best situation at the time but she made the best of it & did what she could.

I too am a single parent. When times get tough, my mom is always there. She has been a very integral part of my life & my son’s life. She took care of him when he was a baby while I worked & went to school full time. Later, she let us move in with her while I finished my education. After living with her for almost 3 years, my son & I were able to get a brand new place of our own, which would have never been possible without her. When I had minor surgery 19 months ago, she stayed at my house for 3 days to take care of my son and to make sure I was taken care of as well. She helps my son with homework, communicates with his teachers to relieve me a bit and strives to make my life & his as great as they can be. She’s always loved me for me, no matter what, & made sure I knew that at all times.

In the recent past, I was unemployed for 4 months & she made sure that I knew she was there to help out in any way she could. In addition to all of the above, she taught for 20+ years in the Cedar Rapids Community Schools where she had a daily impact on children. Even though she’s been retired for 2 years now, she gets graduation invitations & hugs from former students she runs into.

She volunteers on a committee for the Linn County Child Development Center, volunteers at Truman Elementary & Prairie Point. She takes an older friend in poor health to appointments & shopping.

My mom has dealt with a lot throughout the years & often I wonder how she’s done it. She deserves an award for being such an incredibly strong, caring, loving, all around amazing person. As crazy as she makes me sometimes, I’m very proud to call her mom.

Now it’s YOUR turn! We need you to VOTE for the mom you think is the most deserving of the City Looks Salon & Spa Day of Beauty prize.

To vote, leave a comment on this blog post telling us the name of the mom you are voting for and make sure to include WHY you think they deserve to get pampered. (Psst… to vote this way, you have to give us your name and a valid email addy – but no worries! Your email address will not be displayed on the comment and we won’t email you!)

**UPDATE: You have to scroll to the bottom of the blog, waaaay down past everyone else’s comments before the box appears where you can cast your vote!**

Only one vote per person, please! (And, yes, we will be watching IP addresses – so play fair!)

Voting goes until 12:00pm (noon) CST on Thursday, May 10th. The Nom the Mom winner will be announced right here on our blog on Friday, May 11th – just in time for Mother’s Day!

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at! (Want to see some of the other nominees? Just go here!)

Let the voting begin!
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