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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!

Contest: Nom the Mom 2012  by Tara


Moms are simply amazing, that’s all there is to it! We at Linn Area Credit Union want to celebrate their awesomeness by bringing back our Nom the Mom contest. For the second year in a row, we have partnered with the generous people at City Looks Salon & Spa to find one very deserving mom and then pamper her like it’s going out of style! (But it’s not going out of style, I assure you. Pampering is here to stay.)

The prize package (value of $300):

A Spa Facial or 50 minute Full Body Massage, Spa Manicure and Spa Pedicure, Hair Style and Makeup application and beautiful basket full of Aveda Bath & Body products! (value of $300)

How to Nominate a Mom:

To nominate that super-spectacular mom in your life (your mom, wife, sister, grandma, friend, co-worker, etc.), email the following things to

  1. Her story. Tell us in 500 words or less why she deserves to get pampered! You can do this in a story, poem, sonnet – whatever! Don’t feel like writing? We’ll also consider video nominations – talking, singing, interpretive dance, live footage, just keep them under 3 minutes, please! The more creative, the better!
  2. Her picture. We want to see this lovely lady you’re gushing about!
  3. The full first and last name of the nominee.
  4. Your contact information.

The Details:

  1. All entries must be received no later than midnight on Monday, April 30th.
  2. On Thursday, May 3rd, the top 3 submissions (as selected by Linn Area Credit Union) will be announced on our blog.
  3. Area residents will then be able to begin voting immediately on our blogonly one vote per person! (Psst! We will be watching IP addresses!) The Mom who receives the most votes will win the City Looks Day of Beauty Package.
  4. Voting will end at noon CST on Thursday, May 10th.
  5. The winning Mom will be announced on our blog on Friday, May 11th.

The Rules:

  • Entries received after midnight on Monday, April 30th will not be considered.
  • Incomplete entries will not be eligible (see the four entry requirements above).
  • Your entry must be emailed to – no hard copies or other forms of entry will be accepted.
  • All nominated moms must live in Linn or surrounding counties.
  • The three finalists from the 2011 Nom the Mom contest are not eligible.
  • You do not have to be a member of Linn Area Credit Union to nominate or be nominated.
  • Linn Area Credit Union employees and their immediate families are not eligible to nominate or be nominated.
  • Linn Area Credit Union reserves the right to discount votes from duplicate IP addresses.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • By submitting an entry, you are giving permission for Linn Area Credit Union to use your name, picture and submission for promotional and advertising purposes, including but not limited to our website, our blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Questions? Just shoot me (Tara) an email at We can’t wait to hear all about these wonderful women!

Nom the Mom: Day of Beauty  by Tara


The woman you chose as your Nom the Mom winner, Amber Nietert , finally got her chance to get pampered. Since so many of you got out there to vote, we thought that you’d like the follow up on Amber, her family and her City Looks Day of Beauty. 

If you’ll remember, Amber is the mom of two little boys. One of the boys, Brekin, has a heart condition. (For the full story, go here or to see how we surprised Amber, check out the video at the very bottom of this post!) He had another surgery in mid-June and I’m proud to report that he is doing exceptionally well! In fact, his doctor has officially cleared him to run, jump and even swim – all those things that little boys LOVE to do! (Amber said that it’s so hard to tell your 3 year old son that he can’t ride his bike when he so desperately wants to!) 

Now that Brekin is on the mend, Amber finally had a chance to focus on herself for one day. On Friday, I met Amber at the Westdale location of City Looks for her Day of Beauty. She was extremely excited! To make things even better, that particular evening she and her husband, Joe, were heading out on the town to celebrate their 6 year anniversary. Perfect timing! 

The day started off with a relaxing facial, something Amber had never tried before and absolutely adored! Next, the girls at City Looks turned their focus to Amber’s fingers and toes, giving her a fabulous manicure AND pedicure (Heaven!). After her mootsies (yeah, I made that word up) and tootsies were perfectly polished, the City Looks team turned their attention to Amber’s hair. One tiny French braid and lots of curls later, our Nom the Mom winner was ready for the last leg of her pampering experience – make up! And, let me tell you, she looked awesome! Sure, she was gorgeous before, but after a day of beauty at City Looks, Amber was simply “WOWZA”!!! 

Go here to see all the pictures of Amber’s big day of beauty.

When we chatted after it was all done, Amber said that she almost didn’t want the Day of Beauty to end! (Well, who could blame her?!) But she was definitely looking forward to hitting the town with Joe.

Thanks again to Amber and to the lovely people at City Looks for making this happen! 

So now how are we going to top this next year…?!?!?!

Nom the Mom: Surprising Amber  by Tara


Welcome back to our Blog! We hope that you are enjoying reading about how we got to surprise our finalists because I certainly enjoyed meeting each of them on Friday, May 6th! Over the last few days, you’ve read what happened when I visited with finalists Dawn and Wendi. Now it’s time for the riveting conclusion to my adventure…

Last, but certainly not least, I needed to surprise the Nom the Mom winner, Amber. But this one was going to be a little bit tricky… 

The day prior, Amber’s husband Joe posted a vote on our Facebook wall. His message said, “I vote for Amber Nietert. She is sitting next to Brekin holding his hand in the hospital room in Iowa City as I type this right now and has no clue that this voting contest is even happening. Amazing Mother!” 

“Amazing Mother” is right! I was floored. I couldn’t believe that Amber had no idea about Nom the Mom, however, she had family, friends and co-workers galore voting for her religiously for the week prior. How did they manage to keep it all secret? 

Knowing that she was currently at the hospital with Brekin made me dig in a little deeper to make certain I would be able to properly surprise her. I learned that she would be at home with the boys the next day.

So Friday morning I found myself in front of Amber’s adorable home. In my right hand I held the City Looks basket and in my left I clutched a video camera, a file folder, a digital camera and the keys to my car. I must have looked odd as I bumbled my way to the door, repeatedly dropping my keys. Then it dawned on me – I was going to need to convince Amber to let me into her home when she literally had no idea about this contest. This could be awkward… 

I rang the door bell and a woman appeared along with a dog, which clearly had its owner’s best interest at heart. I smiled and said, “Hi there! Are you Amber??” 

“Yes…” she replied, friendly but unsure. 

The fact that I was holding a gorgeous basket probably helped. “I’m Tara from Linn Area Credit Union. Have you heard about our Nom the Mom contest?” 

She shook her head “no”. 

“Well you were selected as one of the 3 finalists! Do you mind if I come in and tell you a little bit more about it?” 

After putting her pup away, she invited me inside where I got to meet her two boys, Payson (4) and Brekin (2), for the first time. I wanted to get her full reaction to learning about the contest and the fact that she was chosen as the winner, so I asked her if it would be okay for me to video tape. She laughed and said that I had caught her cleaning and that she looked awful – but she was still okay with me taping her. 

Camera rolling, I explained the contest, the nomination process, the voting, and the fact that she had been selected by the community as the Nom the Mom winner taking in nearly 170 votes between the blog, Facebook and Twitter. Even on the tape it’s clear that she was in shock and just trying to take it all in.  (Click here to watch the video!)

As soon as I shut off the camera, she started to cry. I then told her about what her husband had posted on the Facebook page, which made us BOTH cry. She really was in complete shock that all of this had gone on unbeknownst to her. 

And then Amber exclaimed, “This all makes sense now!”  

Because she had been at the hospital with Brekin, she only had very limited access to Facebook and that was only on her mobile phone. She had noticed that all of her friends and family had “liked” Linn Area Credit Union. That was especially strange considering many of these very same people live a few of hours away. Amber promised herself that when she “had time to breathe” (her exact words – which I think is very telling of her situation) she would look into it further. 

It was such a pleasure meeting not only Amber, but her boys. And, let me tell you, they are definitely BOYS! They were getting such a kick out of showing me their trucks and plastic farm animals. At one point, Payson even built a ramp from the floor in order to route a truck up onto the couch. Genius! 

I have to give a quick shout out to her boys for taking a picture of their mommy and me together! The picture to the rght was actually captured by 2 year old Brekin. A little fuzzy, but it still makes me smile!

Amber’s Nom the Mom journey does not end here. We plan to join her for part of her Day of Beauty whenever she has a moment to not just breathe, but to relax. However, that moment may not be anytime soon, as Brekin has an open heart surgery coming up this summer. Please continue to keep this remarkable family in your thoughts and prayers. 

Well, friends, our very first social media contest was definitely a success! We are very grateful to City Looks for partnering with us to provide such a luxurious prize to an incredibly deserving mom. Additionally, we would like to give a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who nominated a mom, voted or who is just a fabulous mom themselves. 

So I hear Father’s Day is coming up… I think we’re going to have to come up with something a little special for Dad. What do you think??

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