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Nom the Mom 2013  by Tara


Nom the Mom Email and blog image

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 third year in a row (has it already been that many??), we are honored to provide a relaxing pampering experience to one knock-your-socks-off Mom.

The Pampering Prize Package (value of $250):

A Stress-Fix Full Body Massage at City Looks Salon & Spa, a beautiful basket full of Stress-Fix Aveda products, and a $75 Visa Gift Card to spend on a lovely dinner out on the town.

To nominate that super-spectacular mom in your life (your mom, wife, sister, grandma, friend, co-worker, etc.) just fill out the form here. Be sure to include a picture of the lovely lady you are gushing about!

All entries are due by midnight on Monday, April 29th. On Thursday, May 2nd the top 3 submissions (as selected by Linn Area Credit Union) will be announced. Area residents will then be able to begin voting immediately. The mom who receives the most votes will win the Pampering Prize Package. Voting will end at midnight on Thursday, May 9th. The winning Mom will be announced on Friday, May 10th.

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

Become our next TV star!  by Tara


TV Star Email and blog image

We just have to let you in on a little secret… we are going to start filming new TV spots soon and want to feature some of our raving Linn Area fans! Before we can film anything, Linn Area Credit Union needs to find our next TV commercial STARS! That’s where you come in.

You love us? Check. You don’t mind just a little bit of attention? Check. You’ve got a sparkling personality and a winning smile? Check. Yep, you’re exactly the kind of person we’re looking for!

Throwing your hat into the ring is super simple. All you have to do is go here to fill out a questionnaire and be sure to include a picture. Bada-boom, you’re in like flynn.

All entries submitted will be considered for interviews with our TV production team (you would be contacted no later than April 19th). Even if you aren’t ultimately selected to do a TV spot, you just might be featured on our website or blog.

All entries must be submitted no later than Thursday, April 11th at midnight. So giddy up, Linn Areanites!

How To Shop Safer Online  by Tara


Young woman using laptop and mobile phoneShopping online has an obvious appeal: No lines, no parking lot misery, better inventory, an absence of uber-pushy salespeople and I can shop while wearing my comfy pink sweatpants. Everyone wins! However, buying anything on the internet comes with a risk – the potential of having your personal information compromised. We’re talking about your name, address, and method of payment (credit card, debit, or account number). Eeee! We don’t want you to have to deal with that!

I chatted with Linn Area Credit Union’s Fraud Specialist Liz to get her tips for a safer online shopping experience:

Before you even get started…

  • Secure your computer: Ensure that your computer has up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software and firewall. This software is available at all price points, including fah-fah-FREE. Make sure to do some research to see what will work best for you. Here’s one article that can help you get started.
  • Make sure your web browser is updated: Use the latest version of your web browser and set it to the highest level. (Need help finding the latest version of your web browser? Go here if you use Internet Explorer. The browser Firefox updates happen automatically, but you can read more here on how to look for updates manually.)
  • Isolate the spending: Get a credit card just for using online so you can monitor transactions easily. This credit card should not be associated with your debit card. Check out our rock star credit cards here, including one that you where you earn Reward points!  (Liz’s tip: If it comes out of your checking account, it could mess up your account balance if the store places a hold on a larger amount than the total of your purchase or if you happen to get charged multiple times.)
  • Keep Paypal your pal: Set up a Paypal account (click here) and use it whenever possible while shopping online. Be sure to check the accounts that Paypal debits from frequently to quickly detect fraud.
  • Be strict about passwords: Use a different password for each site on which you have an account; do not allow your browser to store passwords for you. We recommend that you use a combination of letters and numbers. (Liz’s tip: It’s always a good idea to change up your passwords on a regular basis!)

Now that you’re ready to shop…

  • Go straight to the site: Type a store’s Web address directly into your web browser instead of using a search engine to retrieve it. Cybercriminals plant malicious links that look like popular sites within the first few pages of search results. (Liz’s tip: This also counts for coupons that are emailed to you. Don’t use the links within the email. Ever.)
  • Do your research: If you’re buying from an unknown retailer, be sure to check reviews, their address and verify the landline number you can contact them on. (Liz’s tip: A quick Google search for reviews on an unknown retailer can save you A LOT of hassle later.)
  • Look for the “signs of security”: On sites where you’re making a financial transaction, look for “https” in the address bar and a padlock icon in the web browser Status Bar. On sites where the retailer uses extended SSL validation, look for the address bar to turn green on secured pages.

Before you purchase your items…

  • Know the return policy like the back of your hand: Make sure you know the store’s policies and procedures. How long do you have to return the product if you’re not happy with it? 14 days? 30 days? Keep in mind that if you are purchasing around a holiday, shipping might be slower, so if the store has a 14 day return policy, it’s possible you may not receive the product before the 14 day return window expires. (Liz’s tip: I find that online retailers who also have brick and mortar stores tend to be the easiest to work with on returns.)
  • Keep your eye on that receipt: Once you buy your item, you’ll want to print out the receipt. This gives you a sales confirmation, which is the best way to protect yourself in case the vendor tries to charge more or something goes wrong with delivery.

Aren’t we done yet? Nope, while you wait for your goodies to arrive…

  • Watch for seasonal scams: Be wary of spam emails claiming to be shipping confirmation or undeliverable package alerts that require you to open an attachment. Delete any message that claims to contain tracking information, but which lacks a tracking number in either the subject or body of the message. The safest way to track a package is through the shipper’s website or the online store where you made the purchase.
  • Brand name scams: Does that typically pricey item look untypically cheap? Beware. How does the saying go? Ahhh, yes – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. We have seen a common theme of people typing an item into a search engine and finding the item for a jaw-droppingly low price. Be wary and use your research to ensure that there are no surprises when that box arrives… or doesn’t arrive at all. (Liz’s two cents: I’ve seen fake tablets, fake Uggs, and knock offs of almost every clothing brand you can think of. Be careful!)

A big thanks to Liz for all of her helpful tips! Goodbye, trip to the store! Helloooo, sweatpants!

So tell us in the comments below – how much of your shopping do you do online???

Winner of Marion iPad!  by Tara


You might have noticed a little something extra special on 7th Ave in Marion. That would be us!

We’ve moved over a few blocks into a new, beautiful building at 3375 7th Ave that is now tech savvy enough to handle all of our members’ growing needs! It even features a fresh way of banking – pod style. No, it doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck into a spaceship or anything – we’ve gotten rid of the teller line and now have welcoming areas for you to interact more personally with our team members.

To help celebrate our Grand Opening, we gave away an iPad to one very lucky recipient. And here she is now:

Congratulations, Sierra! We hope you ADORE your new iPad!

Blue Zone: Add 10 years to your life  by Tara


So many of us hope to age “gracefully”. Well, I say get REAL. Why not age “HEALTHfully”? Oh, and possibly add 10 more years to your life?

Millions of dollars each year are spent on creams, pills and procedures to look and feel younger. Books FLY off the e-bookshelf to learn the latest and best way to stay young. Why do we try so hard when the answer is much more simple? Well, Cedar Rapids & Marion and surrounding areas, you are on the cusp of learning the secret. You want to know the secret? I know you do. *whispering * Blue Zones.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard the buzz around town about the Blue Zone, including the exciting event, BLUEhemia, that is happening TOMORROW in the New Bohemia Main Street District (click here for more info!). Check out this super cute Harlem Shake video promoting it:

Let me give you a little background on Blue Zones and why this should matter to you: In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and hired the world’s best longevity researchers to identify pockets around the world where people lived measurably better. They decided to refer to these special slices of communities as “Blue Zones”. In these Blue Zones they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States. Without the use of pills, creams and procedures, these groups have found the extra 10 years that we’ve been searching for! What the team consistently discovered was a trend of 9 basic principles that helped people make the right choices to live a longer, yet more healthy life. In Blue Zone lingo, these are the Power 9. *insert a dramatic clashing of cymbals here*

Two years ago Dan spoke to a room full of people in Cedar Rapids and shared a plan to bring these concepts to Iowa. He spent a lot of time talking about how his team set a similar plan in motion in the Albert Lea, MN community and it made a huge change in their health. Fast forward over a lot of hard work to get to 2013 – zip, boom, bang- we are now a designation site for Blue Zones! A heartfelt THANK YOU to all the peeps in CR that made this happen!

If you want to join the fun and get to know how you too can live the Power 9 principles join the town this weekend at BLUEhemia at your NewBo market. Find out more about Blue Zones here or get more information on tomorrow’s New Bluehemia event go here.

So, please, let’s put down the creams, pick up the veggies and move naturally our way to aging “healthfully”. See you there!

Thank you to our Training Specialist Patricia for not only writing this little diddy, but for all of her hard work on the Blue Zone project over the two years! Your Linn Area family is very proud of you!

The Women Build Project  by Tara


Linn Area Credit Union was honored to help support Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Project. This program challenges women to devote at least one day to the effort to eliminate poverty housing. Women Build had one project in Cedar Rapids in 2012 for a family that is originally from Burundi Central Africa. (Go here to learn more about Women Build and the family).

One of the days during the build, Linn Area Credit Union provided lunch for the women participating. Three friendly Linn Area faces were part of the event and have each written about their experience. Here are their stories:

Bonnie, Senior Account Representative at Mt. Vernon Road:

Ever since I heard about a home being built in Iowa City five years ago, I have wanted to do a Women Build project.  My cousin was working on that particular project and I thought, “How cool would that be to be a part of!”  This year, a close friend of mine happened to be on the committee that finds people to help serve lunch to the volunteers. I told her I had always wanted to do be part of Women Build and she gave me info to volunteer.

It was such an amazing experience, we started the day off with lifting thanks to our higher power and the blessings he has given to each of us and the family that will live in the home.  The family was there helping, so we had an opportunity to visit at lunch and breaks. This made the experience so much more of a blessing for me. The day before we came to help, the walls, foundation and some stairs to the back door were completed.  Our day was spent setting the interior walls, framing out closets and the kitchen, bathroom and laundry area. We even set the roof tresses! I was actually standing in the tresses at the end of the day helping to lay the sheeting on the roof – and I have a fear of heights! No belt. Just weaving in and out of tresses and 2×4′s – amazing!

The day was filled with new friendships, laughter, a huge sense of pride and a few hammered thumbs. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to be able to help again.  I want to say a BIG thank you to LACU for providing lunch for the 25 volunteers we had that day.  We all worked up an appetite but thought the sandwich was too big and we would only eat half (a girl thing), but I ate all of my lunch that day :).

Sandra, Financial Counselor at Mt. Vernon Road:

Volunteering was so much fun! I was there to help serve lunch. Meeting the women who were hard at work was awesome!  The women volunteering were from all walks of life – from a retired woman from a different state, to a college sorority, along with all different cultures and races. It was amazing thing to see everyone join together for a greater cause!  I volunteered because it makes me feel so good inside to be able to help.  I might not always be able to give money, but I can give a little bit of my time to help. I even brought my kids along so they could understand how important it is to help people, no matter where they come from.

Bobbie, Finance Department at Blairs Ferry:

This is something that I have always wanted to help with. When Bonnie asked for volunteers, I wanted to help, but had too many things going on that day. So when the opportunity came along to help serve lunches at the site, I said that I could help with that.  Hy-Vee dropped off box lunches for the crew, and all we had to do was organize by sandwich and hand them to the workers -very simple.

I learned a lot, not just about Women Build Project, but Habitat for Humanity.  There is so much that they do and so many people they help. It was really amazing. If the opportunity arises again, I think that I would actually like to be a part of the construction in some way.

WE WANT TO KNOW: Do you volunteer? Why?

See Jenny Run  by Tara


The time has come, friends! We’ve reached the last leg of our Ironman journey with Jenny Lorenz. After being kicked by swimmers and fighting insane wind on a bike, it’s now time to close out this challenge with a marathon. That’s just 26.2 miles. No biggie… Take a shot of Coca Cola and down an energy bar – let’s cross this finish line together:

Despite the long, windy, hot bike my legs felt pretty good running. I focused on keeping my pace under control and keeping good form.  At about mile 1 or so of the run my “fan club” was out in force to cheer me on which was a nice pick me up. The first 10 miles of the run in town on Alii is hot; really hot.

So I once again focused on using the aid stations to keep cool – ice in my hat, down my shirt, up my arm coolers – it helped immensely. Again, I was very proud at executing a good plan in this regard as I never felt overheated.  I did my best to stay steady. I ran between the aid stations and then walked through them to take care of myself. I saw my family and friends again at mile 9 or so before heading  up “Hot Corner” and out toward the Queen K.  They asked me how I was feeling and my honest response was “Pretty good!”

Once you get out onto the Queen K it starts to get lonely. Other than the athletes (who aren’t overly chatty at this point) there are very few fans. I found myself playing mental games to make it from aid station to aid station without letting myself walk. There’s a lot of time to think out there, be it good or bad, and with little distraction it gets tough at times. I tried my best to stay focused on the task and stay positive. I hit the Energy Lab in good shape, grabbed my spare fuel belt bottles at special needs and headed back into town.

The hardest part of any marathon are the last miles. And I find it particularly cruel there is a steady climb for a few miles before you hit the last mile or so (which is largely downhill) on this course.  That steady climb was where it got tough for me. My pace had slowed considerably, my feet were sore and I could already tell I was destined to lose several toenails, and it was dark; really dark out there.

A couple women who I know were in my age group passed me in this stretch but I just couldn’t keep pace with them.  But I managed to keep running, well, maybe it was much more of a jog at this point, but I wasn’t walking; keeping up with my goal of only walking the aid stations. And for the first time in 5 Ironman races I wasn’t suffering from cramping in the latter part of the marathon – a new accomplishment for me.

Finally, I made it to the top of the hill near Palani. That’s when you know you’re going to make it. The crowds are back cheering you on and you get to go downhill. Halleluiah!  I made the turn down toward Hot Corner and headed up Alii. Like the swim and bike I took away some very positive things from the run yet definitely have much room to improve. I had hoped to run around a 4 hour marathon and with a time of 4:27 and change, didn’t accomplish that goal.   I did, however improve upon my 2009 Kona marathon time by over 21 minutes so I was happy about that.  And I also accomplished my goal of not walking on the course except through the aid stations. So I had a lot to feel good about despite being somewhat disappointed I didn’t make my time goal. Perhaps my arm coolers covering up my “Just Go Faster” mantra written on my arm was a limiter since I couldn’t see it as a reminder :)

Once you make that turn onto Alii you can see the lights, the crowds, and hear the music thumping at the finish line.  There’s nothing like the finish in Kona. The stage, the lights, the jumbotron, the music, and so many people there cheering you on. It’s at this point you forget any dark patches, any regrets, all the “If only I would haves” and just celebrate the accomplishment. And I did just that. I was grinning ear to ear, high five-ing every single hand that I could reach down that chute.  My family and friends were there right before the finish line so I got to give them a high five, as well. I can’t image that experience ever getting old.

I crossed the finish line in 12 hours, 24 minutes and 16 seconds. I had hoped to break 12 hours so I missed my mark.  But the good news was I did manage to improve upon my 2009 time by over 32 minutes; in tougher conditions on the bike for sure.  Let’s see… At that rate I should go around 11:52 and change next time, right?  Yes, call me crazy but I have already decided there needs to be a next time. I definitely want another shot at this beast – I’ve got some unfinished business out there on that course.

After a short visit to the med tent to get my bearings (was feeling extremely dizzy after the finish), collecting my pre race bag, my finisher bag and medal, and getting my legs rubbed out I was reunited with my fan club. They were all still there patiently waiting after a long day of providing support. You’ve got to give them credit. It’s a long day out there for them too.  And they finished with flying colors.  After meeting up and seizing a photo op, we headed to Tom and Lois’ condo so I could take a desperately needed shower.

My day wasn’t over, however. I make it a ritual to watch the last finishers come in and love every second of it. Dick was a great sport and joined me for what I find are the most inspiring moments of this race. In the last hour you see finishers in their 60′s, 70′s and even 80′s crossing that line. It’s so amazing to see these people out there on this brutally tough course accomplishing the dream.  I’m in awe of their drive to endure and hope I can continue to race with the same passion long into the future.

As with any race I’ve done there are always things I look back on and hope to improve next time.  One thing I know for sure, however, I have no regrets about how I prepared for this race.  With the help of a fabulous coach, amazing training partners, and a supportive family at home and at work, I was able to achieve my dream of running down Alii Drive and finishing this race once again.  I can’t imagine it ever getting old.

And one other thing I’m particularly proud I accomplished this year was raising in excess of $5,771.40 for Children’s Miracle Network.  With the help of countless generous friends, we will be able to make a positive difference in many children’s lives.  Being blessed with the ability to compete at this level is such a gift and I’m thrilled I could do my small part to give a gift back through a sport I truly love.

Thank you to Jenny for letting us experience all the highs and lows of an Ironman without the years of prep and pain. ;o) Congratulations on conquering the Ironman World Championship yet again! We are so proud of you.

Facebook Notifications  by Tara


Guess what! Facebook has changed again! I know, you’re in total shock. ;o)

You may have noticed that posts from businesses aren’t consistently popping up in your news feed anymore. Such a bummer! There are some businesses that I want to know when they have something to say, such as my favorite clothing stores and money saving sites, like Linn Area Credit Union. First, I’ll explain the “why” behind this Facebook fiasco and then show you how to change your settings to ensure you don’t miss any posts by your favorite businesses!

The “Why”

Facebook has a random mathematical equation that keeps track of how often you interact with each business page. If you interact with a page often, you are expressing interest in that business and, as a result, you’re more likely to see their posts in your news feed. I have found that is equation MUST be flawed since there is at least one baby-related company I interact with often and still wasn’t seeing their updates. Is this you, too? Okay, you’re definitely going to want to follow my suggested setting changes below!

The Fix

To be sure you don’t miss a post by your favorite business page, you can enable notifications and choose to have it show in your news feed (though the latter isn’t always consistent). It’s really easy to do!

1. Head over to Linn Area Credit Union on Facebook (FYI: it won’t work from your mobile)

2. On the right hand side on the page, click the “Like” button and a drop down will appear.

3. Select “Get Notifications” and “Show in News Feed.” Check marks will appear to show that they have been enabled.

Like so:

You can also choose to add Pages to Interest Lists, but I’ll have more on that later!

Questions? Just let me know in the comments below! I’m happy to help! :o)

See Jenny Bike  by Tara


Back for more??? Woohoo! We are spotlighting Jenny Lorenz’s Ironman experience in a three parter. (If you haven’t read the first one yet, jump over here.) Ready for the next leg of Jenny’s journey? Take a deep breath, maybe grab a power bar, and get ready to See Jenny Bike:

I headed out on the bike up Palani and made the hard left a few blocks up the hill.  When you make that turn, there are tons of people cheering, cowbells ringing, and music pumping from the announcer stand right at that corner. It’s a fabulous send off.  People are going nuts.

The only bad thing about that is you can’t hear a thing, especially something… say… like your bike computer flying off and hitting the pavement. So when you run over it with your back wheel you think you’re running over one of a gazillion reflector things that are in the roads over there. (Due to their opposition to having street lights.)  Yep, in the very first mile I’m without my Joule which tells me my speed, power output, heart rate, etc.  Not ideal.

I notice it’s gone a bit later when I look down to check it.  I tried not to panic and calmly pulled off the course. I then looked back down the road to try to assess where it might have fallen. In doing that I realized I had no idea and also realized that it would be incredibly difficult for me to go against the grain of bikers coming toward me or fight the crowds on the sides of the road to get back there. So I chose to mount up and ride on.

The course intersected again at the spot where we took the hard left before we left town, maybe 8 or 9 miles into the ride.  So when I got to that spot I stopped again to ask a volunteer if anyone had seen it fly off and turned it in to them.   I waited as he ran down a few blocks inquiring, but no such luck.  So before I headed out onto the Queen K I was struck with the realization that I was going to have to bike this course completely by feel. I tried to think positive and have faith in something Marilyn tells me – that I have a good sense of feel and perceived exertion on the bike – and resolved to stay positive and do the best I could.  I did have a watch on so I at least had the time which is extremely important to me for timing my nutrition.

The first part of the bike was relatively uneventful. I was hydrated well my stomach felt good, and I was doing a good job of taking care of myself and keeping cool by dumping water on myself. I made that a high priority and didn’t miss one opportunity to do so at the aid stations.  I ate my Luna bar after settling in and then just churned away. Hydration and nutrition (enough Gu to choke a horse) went like clockwork and I was enjoying the ride.  That is until the turn up to Hawi. Holy cow!  I thought that section of the ride last time was tough. Well that seemed like a recovery spin compared to this year.

At one point in that climb with the headwind gusting so hard I was afraid to be blown off the road and I remember thinking “It’s probably a good thing I don’t have my computer because I know I’d be super mad at how slow I’m going!” It was awful. When I made the turnaround in Hawi I actually yelled “Yippee!!” to the crowd. I was so happy not to be fighting that wind anymore.

I decided to stop at special needs and grab my Coke and a banana. I felt like I needed a shot of caffeine and sugar after that effort on the bike. The ride out of Hawi was with the wind so I was flying and loving it. Unfortunately it was short lived. Once I made the turn back onto the Queen K it was headwind for what seemed an eternity. The winds never make sense to me there. It seems like they are against us WAY more than with us. So I tried to stay small and aero and did my best to bike strong without blowing myself up for the run.  I continued to be diligent with my hydration, nutrition and kept myself cool and was proud of my efforts here as I didn’t feel overheated and my stomach was in a good place for the whole ride.

In assessing my bike after the fact, a time of 6:28:18, one of my absolute slowest IM bike times, I probably rode too conservatively.  Not having my computer, I really wasn’t sure.  Interestingly, my time was 39 seconds faster than my Kona 2009 bike time, however, in tougher conditions. Within a minute of the same time!  As it turns out, I have mixed emotions about the bike, I had hoped to ride much faster and felt I was fit enough to do so.  It was slow, yes, but I took away some positives from the bike, as well.  And even though I’d been battling headwinds for a while, I felt good (relatively speaking) coming into transition.

When you come to the dismount line in Kona a volunteer is right there to take your bike for you. No running around searching for your spot in transition. You just have to manage to get off your bike and it’s magically taken care of for you. So nice!  Once I got off my bike I headed to my T-2 bag; same efficient drill as T-1 with a volunteer having it ready for me before I reached them.  Back to the changing tent which was much less crowded this time.  A 6 hour + bike will help spread things out for a girl. Argh!  My wonderful volunteer, after putting an ice cold towel on my shoulders, (which feels better than almost anything in the world at that time)  help me put on my race belt and fuel belt as I slipped my shoes on.  Another quick layer of sunscreen and a shot of Coke and I headed out to the run.

Join us next week as we live vicariously through her as Jenny finishes the last leg of this Ironman challenge – with a MARATHON!

Contest: Highlight Reel Winner  by Tara


And the winner… racking up 538 votes…. is:

“This was such an emotional and amazing day! Marvin McNutt is a beautiful person and watching my granddaughters shear joy as he presented them with “daughter bracelets”, after he proposed and gave their mother a gorgeous engagement ring, was a moment I will never forget…captured in this picture.”

Congratulations, Chris!!!

A big, huge THANK YOU to everyone who shared their pics with us. We absolutely adored seeing all of your 2012 highlights! Here’s to an even better 2013! Cheers!

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