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Q & A with an Ankeny Educator: Meet Ms. Varnum

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

We're back this week with another edition of an Ankeny teacher get-to-know-you session.  At Ankeny Real Estate Service, we feel strongly that without awesome TEACHERS, our school district can NOT produce amazing, intelligent, and well-rounded students! Nothing makes us more proud than a true professional dedicated to our students AND this community!

And with that...let us introduce you to Ms. Michelle Varnum!

Name: Michelle Varnum

Position: 2nd Grade teacher at Terrace Elementary

Number of years in education: 3 years

Years taught in Ankeny: 2 years

 

Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends, playing with my puppy, running, Cyclone football and basketball games

 

What is the best thing about teaching in Ankeny?

As an Ankeny High School graduate, I feel so fortunate to be teaching in the district I grew up in. Ankeny is a wonderful community filled with delightful families and students. Ankeny Community School District is very supportive of its teachers; the opportunities that I am offered as an educator for learning and growth are endless.

 

What gets you excited about the direction that Ankeny schools are heading?

Although it was difficult to see happen as an Ankeny graduate, I am excited to watch the community continue to grow and develop with two high schools. No matter the high school, Ankeny Community School District as a whole is unified in its commitment to prepare all learners to achieve a lifetime of personal success.

 

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

As most people feel, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. The most challenging aspect is to balance planning meaningful lesson plans, implement the lesson plans, and then respond to what students need based on what was taught.

 

How would your students describe you?

I hope my students would describe me as a role-model who is determined, hard-working, and likes to have fun while learning.

 

What motivates you?

When I see my students succeed or experience the ‘light-bulb’ moment, my heart beams with pride for them. It is such a rewarding feeling to see that the work I am doing is providing my students with knowledge and achievement.

 

What is typically the best part of your day?

I love greeting each of my students at the door in the morning and high fiving each of my students on the way out the door at the end of the day. Although it’s quick, the one-on-one interaction with each student is so valuable to form solid student-teacher relationships.

Fall Fun: Our Favorite Pumpkin Patches From Around The Metro

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Around here nothing says “fall is upon us” like a festive trip to the good ol’ pumpkin patch and apple orchard.  Lucky for us, the Des Moines metro offers plenty of selection when it comes to fun fall outings! But don’t take our word for it!  Be sure to check out a few of our faves.

1. Center Grove Orchard

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We’re sure you’ll gather as many happy memories as apples. Enjoy daily hayrides, corn pool, corn maze and hay maze, farm animals, pedal tractors, weekend festivals with live entertainment, and so much more. Don’t forget the jumping pillow, rubber duck races, Three Little Pigs houses, and apple sling shot. Center Grove has the best (and only) Potty Barn anywhere in the Des Moines and Ames area! Of course, you can pick your own apples and find your perfect pumpkin.  Come hungry to enjoy all the tastes of the season such as farm fresh meals & caramel apples! Open: September through Christmas, on Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. Directions: Just north of Ankeny and south of Ames, 5 miles east of I-35 on Highway 210 (Exit 102, Cambridge). Then, north 1/8 mile on 610th Avenue. Come be part of the lively atmosphere of our beautiful Central Iowa farm! Enjoy daily hayrides, corn maze, farm animals, pedal tractors, weekend festivals with live entertainment and so much more.

2.  Uncle Bill’s Farm & Carroll’s Pumpkin Patch 

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In September and October, you can look forward to picking pumpkins in the Pumpkin Patch, meandering through the Corn Maze, browsing the General Store, shopping the Green House, jumping on the Big Orange Pillow, enjoying Uncle Bill's Funny Goats, riding the Kid Kow Train, riding in the TMX Trikes, wheeling around the Wheel Barrow Course, playing in the Corn Bin, and refueling at Uncle Bill's Feed Bag restaurant. On weekends you can watch exciting Barn Loft entertainers, learn from baking demonstrations, shoot the Corn Cannon, see the Medieval Trebuchet (pumpkin catapult) in action and much more!

3.  Geisler Farms

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Navigate your way through their 10-acre corn maze, featuring the Ankeny High School logos. The fun zone includes swings, a tractor tire swing, rubber duck races, patio maze, table maze, pedal karts, trikesfor tykes, hop-a-long ponies, corn bin and corn hole toss game. Geisler Farms features a one-of-a-kind farmer built ADA-accessible hayrack. Groups of 10 or more corn maze customers may reserve space at one of three firepits. Pumpkins, gourds, corn shocks and straw are also available for purchase.

Inside the Red Shed is admission to the corn maze and fun zone. This is where you will also find ADA-accessible restrooms, concessions, Iowa-made soy candles, homemade jams and frozen Emma Krumbee take and bake pies and apple crisp.

The Geisler pumpkin patch is conveniently located next to the parking lot on the west side of the Red Shed. There is no admission charged to visit the pumpkins.

4. Howell’s Pumpkin Patch

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Howell's Pumpkin Patch offers fun and interesting sights and activities for the whole family, whether it be racing through the Pumpkin Patch to find the perfect pumpkins, or strolling the beautiful rolling 15 acres of flowers and touring the upper floor of the 1910 Barn, where the flowers are dried for Howell's Dried Florals. From a Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze to the Kiddie Koral and fun food and shopping, this fall attraction located in Cummings is well worth the quick 25 minute drive from Des Moines.

5. Williamson’s Pumpkin Paradise

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The Williamson Family Orchard is a family-owned orchard that was established in 1992.  Located in the rolling hills of Adel, Iowa this orchard is the perfect day trip.  There are many varieties of apples including Enterprise, Freedom, GoldRush, Liberty, Pristine, Jonafree, Redfree, and Williams Pride. We also offer apple butter, apple pie, honey and many other delicious products.  Seasonal and specialty products are available in the Williamson store.

The U-pick pumpkin patch has become an important part of the Williamson farm.  This is where they grow the pumpkins and they can actually be cut off the vine. The on-farm store is open seasonally from the first weekend after Labor Day through October.

Preparing Your Home For Fall

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

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As we start to say goodbye to summer, it is also time to say hello to all things fall!  Cooler temps, college football, apple orchards, pumpkin spice lattes, AND fall home maintenance.  Considering the minimal time investment and ease of the projects listed below, I’d say that our 5 steps for Preparing Your Home For Fall are well worth your efforts before the cooler weather is here to stay!

1. Clean out the gutters.

It is the job of your roof’s drainage system to shunt rainwater and debris away from your home’s foundation and exterior. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to keep this system draining smoothly. Clogged gutters can lead to costly damage and a little fall-time forethought can ensure peace of mind and a well-functioning drainage system.  Take the time to remove leaves and other debris from drain pipes and gutters in an effort to prevent clogging.  This is also a wise time to invest in gutter mesh guards to prevent future accumulation. 

2. Turn up the heat!

Start with making an appointment for an annual heating system check-up.  It is extremely important that your heating system is working correctly and safely! Be sure to take the time to make sure all of your heating vents are free of furniture, carpet, or curtains. This is also the time of year to replace your heater filters and continue to do so as the cool temperatures continue.

3. Freshen up the fireplace!

Even if your fireplace isn’t used on a regular basis, you should still always inspect it annually for damage or hazards. Be sure to look for flue blockages (no one wants burning birds!), chimney damage (loose or broken joints on a brick fireplace), and don’t forget to clear out ash and charred wood.  OR, if you’re like me, save yourself the trouble and call in a professional! But don’t forget to remind your chimney cleaner to check the damper for a tight close.

4. Check for drafts!

Seal Cracks and gaps around windows and doors with caulk and weather-stripping.  This is an extremely cost-effective way to keep those heating bills in check.

5. Remove and store air conditioners.

Any window air conditioners should be unplugged and removed during the cooler seasons.  Go the extra mile and dust and clean them before covering and storing.  You’ll thank yourself in the springtime!

Q & A with an Ankeny Educator: Meet Mrs. Weesner

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

With all the changes happening in the Ankeny Community School District, it is proving difficult to keep up on the latest.  And while the community as a whole is trying to adjust, we at Ankeny Real Estate Service believe that it is important to remember that there are hundreds of teachers working tirelessly with one common goal in mind: to educate our students.  For this reason, we'd like to take the opportunity to introduce you to some of those educators on a regular basis.  From personal interests, to an insider's perspective, we hope that our Q & A's with an Ankeny Educator series will help us all to remember that there are real, committed people working to ensure that our Ankeny youth are being taught to the highest of standards.

So, without further ado, we'd like to introduce you to Mrs. Weesner!

Name: Molly Weesner

Position: 6th and 7th Grade Health Teacher at Prairie Ridge Middle School

Number of years in education: 9 years

Years taught in Ankeny: 5 years

Family: Tim Weesner Ellie, Cecilia, and Maggie

Hobbies: Being with my family, Cheering on the Cyclones, Gardening, Crafting, and Running.

What do you consider the best thing about teaching in Ankeny?

Ankeny is such a great community; what I enjoy most is teaching where I live. After living and teaching in Ankeny for five years, I am constantly running into current and former students here and there. For example, right now my daughter is playing softball and I currently have two of her teammates’ siblings in class. To me that is so fun. Even though the population in Ankeny is growing it still has that small town feel.

What gets you excited about the direction that Ankeny schools are heading?

Currently, we are learning about Standards Based Grading. I think it is great to be able to give students more detailed feedback for where they are with their learning. I think we are headed in a great direction.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The most challenging aspect of my job as an educator is balancing all of my roles. Not only do I have to teach my content material, I also need to provide feedback, discipline, and praise, build relationships with students and coworkers, grow professionally, be part of school committees and more. At times it can be a bit overwhelming, but that is also what makes education a great field. Every day is different and there is never a dull moment.

How would your students describe you?

I hope my students would describe me as caring, fair, and fun. I want my students to work hard but we also like to have fun in health class.

What motivates you?

Coming up with creative and fun ways to help middle school students understand that their health is important and for them to understand that what they do now does impact their long term health motivates me.

What is typically the best part of your day?

My favorite part of my day is when I arrive at school in the morning and my room is all quiet. I get excited to see what the day will bring. There is always something great in every day.

At-Home Tailgating Tips

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Saturday is THE BIG GAME here in the great state of I-O-W-A.  

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Iowa v. Iowa State. Hawks v. Cyclones. Black and gold v. cardinal and gold. Friends v. friends. Neighbor v. neighbor.  

On game day, fans from across the state will be tailgating in preparation for the match-up.  And while, the lucky (or unlucky??) fans will be celebrating in Ames, the majority of us will be tailgating from the comfort of our homes.  We want to help you make the most of your at-home celebration!  Aside from hosting our own, sharing tips for your tailgate is the next best thing.  So, let’s get started!  

We believe that hosting an at-home-tailgate, starts with focus on the 4 F’s: Friends. Fans. Fun. Food (duh!).

Friends. Invite them. Family, neighbors, co-workers, college buddies, and childhood pals -- anyone that enjoys a little healthy competition AND has even an ounce of team spirit.  After all, what’s a party without people?

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Fans. Encourage your guests to support their team in any way possible.  This means team apparel, face painting, car decorating, and flags.  When it comes to showing your support, we firmly believe that there’s no such thing as going overboard!  And don’t forget to decorate.  Use your team colors and do it up right!

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Fun. Not everyone will be glued to the television for each play of the game, and even those who are, will need something to keep them entertained during halftime.  From cornhole and ladders, to a pick-up game of backyard ball or fantasy football trivia, have a little something for everyone. Look at it this way -- at least one team’s fans will need the distraction.

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Food (& drinks!). While this one might be a no-brainer, it is {in our opinion} the most important part of your tailgate get-together! You must feed your team! But we suggest keeping it simple! Win over your guests by combining appetizers and desserts with grill favorites.  Asking your guests to bring some grub to share ensures that there will be something for everyone AND it makes the meal planning that much easier.  It is also a good idea to be mindful of the weather -- no one wants to be sipping on hot soup on a 90 degree day.  Likewise, soups, hot chocolate, cider, and baked potatoes are all good ideas for tailgating in frigid temps. No matter the weather, be sure to plan ahead and keep it simple.  When it’s up to you to tackle the task of game day food, the last thing you want to be doing is fumbling around the kitchen at the time of kick off.

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Besides being a good excuse for a party, tailgating is a great way to bond with your friends and enjoy the game together. These four tips can help you throw a pre-game party that will be the next best thing to being there in person.  And, take it from us, being prepared, is the best way to ensure that all fans have fun, regardless of the outcome of the game.

Best of luck to both the Hawkeyes and Cyclones.  We are proud to live in a state with such a rich, albeit competitive, football history.

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Q & A with Steve Hidder

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Q: How and when did you get into real estate?

A: Career change 16 years ago. My father sold real estate for 43 years, so I was always interested.

 

Q: What is the best part about your job?

A: I love being around clients and helping them with the greatest purchase they will ever make. 

 

Q: On average, how many clients is Ankeny Real Estate Service representing at one time?

A: With sellers & buyers we have as many a several dozen at anytime, all are in different places in the process.

 

Q: How do you market your listings?

A: Of course, we participate in the MLS, so all real estate companies have access to our listings. We are also heavy into the internet, with our listings showing up on almost 50 different websites.

 

Q: How are you able to offer such a reasonable commission rate?

A: We have a low over head office.  It's not fancy brick and mortar, and we don't have corporate people needing a piece of the pie.

 

Q: What separates Ankeny Real Estate Service from your competitors?

A: We are passionate about what we do.  We are full time agents and we are hands on. We handle your file from start to finish, we don't hand it off once it's pending to someone else.  We process your transaction from start to closing.

 

Q: What motivates you?

A: I love what I do and I love the interaction with people.

 

Q: What is the most frequently asked question for you as a realtor?

A: "How's the Market?" or "Are houses selling?"

 

Q: If you had an extra hour every day what would you do with it?

A: Additional work on my business.

 

Q: What is a little known fact about yourself that you’re willing to share?

A: I'm pretty insecure at my core.

 

Q: Do you have someone that you consider a mentor?

A: My father taught me hard work and treating people with care.

 

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

A: No real hobbies.  I like the outdoors, taking drives, and camping. I also like sports and following my teams.

 

Q: What is something you want people to know about your profession?

A: Selling real estate is a lot more than putting a sign in the yard or driving around looking at houses.

 

Q: Is there anything else people should know about you?  Ankeny Real Estate Service?  Real Estate, in general?

A: We don't take our profession lightly, we are passionate about what we do and will bend over backwards to make your experience great!

 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: I'll be 59 next month so maybe retired. 

Preparing For Fall: Fire Pit Safety

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

As our warm summer nights turn to crisp fall evenings, the appeal of a cozy fire pit, surrounded by friend and family snacking on s'mores, increases exponentially. In recent years, Americans have jumped on the outdoor fire pit/fireplace/fire bowl bandwagon enthusiastically and with little reservation.  And who can blame us? A warm fire, golden flames, and friendly crackles signal camaraderie and security to us all.  But maximum fire pit enjoyment requires some forethought and plenty of preventative measures. To ensure continued safety and utmost enjoyment, we encourage you to consider these six friendly fire tips.

1. Pick a proper location. When installing an outdoor fire pit, it is essential that you choose a position in which the pit or bowl will be on a steady surface.  The location should provide for proper ventilation and should be away from homes, trees, and anything potentially flammable.  We also strongly advise you to consult the owner’s manual and manufacturer's instructions.  Should any questions arise, a professional should be called.

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2. Keep a fire extinguisher.  This should be accessible to the fire pit and, of course, in good working order. It is also wise to keep a bucket of sand and a garden hose handy just in case things get too hot to handle. 

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3. Start small.  When the fire pit is correctly set-up, dousers are nearby, the manufacturer's instructions have been read, and you’re ready for fire, proceed by using a recommended fire starter.  Gasoline should never, under any circumstances, be used to fuel fire pit flames.  It is especially important to be mindful of strong winds that could lead to flying sparks, and wood stacked too high that can result in fire-y pellets spilling out.

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4. Keep children at a distance.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?  Of course!  BUT, it is well worth the nagging reminder if it means that kids remain safe and unharmed by your “cozy” fire.  Children should never be unattended and it is a wise idea to establish a line a few feet from the pit that children are not allowed to cross.

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5. Utilize large, stainless steel cooking accessories. If you intend to cook over a lit fire pit, your utensils should be long enough to reach over the flame. Stainless steel will not rust and can withstand the elements.

6. Snuff out flames.  Although your fire pit is a safe place to have a fire, that doesn’t mean that you can just leave it alone to extinguish on it’s own.  A fire should be put out completely by using an extinguisher or by pouring water over the fire and hot coals or wood soak, until there is no steam.  When all is said and done, coals or wood can be stored in a metal ash bucket until completely put out, and the fire pit should be covered with a lid.

Back To School: Home Organization!

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

If there is ever a time to get yourself, your home, and your family organized, it is the back-to-school season!  We know that organization is the key to stress-free school days.  And we want you to start the school days off right, so here are Ankeny Real Estate Service’s tips to make the back-to-school transition as easy as ABC.

1. Make a “drop-space.”  Using cubbies, hooks, and baskets, designate an area for coats, shoes, and backpacks.  Keep family member’s belongings divided, decluttered, and off the floor.  Having a space for these things means that there will never be a frantic morning search for the missing shoes or MIA backpack.

2. Adopt a system for school papers.  As a general rule, there are two types of papers that come home from school -- the ones that need immediate attention and the ones you’ll need for future reference. Both kinds need a space to land! For those that need your immediate attention, why not adopt some sort of “in” and “out” mailbox? Stacked mail sorters/desk organizers would be great for this purpose.

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3. Make use of a family calendar.  For this project, we encourage you to think big and be diligent! A large calendar, in a central location, color-coded by person, with each family member’s activities, and updated frequently is sure to keep your hectic days organized.  Whether it be a store-bought fridge-mounted variety, or a DIY/customized project (I’m thinking chalk paint, cork board, magnetic paint, or vinyl clings!) a family calendar for everyone to reference will keep you coming and going in the right direction!

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4. Develop a homework station for your kinds to make working on school projects painless and peaceful. As parents, we care about the kind of learning experience our children have in the classroom AND it is just as important to give them the right study environment at home, too.  A quiet, undisturbed, dedicated, and fully stocked location for studying will help kids be able to focus and be productive! Ensure that your homework station has everything your child will need to finish a project -- paper, pencils, colors, pens, erasers, markers, staplers, scissors, etc. 

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5.  Finally, consider placing a memo board or some type of message center near the door your family uses the most frequently.  This is a great place to leave messages, reminders, and kind notes. 

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In general, kids either love or hate going back to school, but an organized home and daily routines will benefit everyone when school schedules are tight and time is of the essence.  Getting organized now will free up time to attend activities, events or dinners and downtime with the family.  Not only do we love helping our clients find homes, but we also like seeing those homes run well, and the people who live in them enjoy life!

Easy Decorating: Locally Themed Art For Your Home

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

When it comes to decorating your home, the wall art options are endless.  From big name chains, to smaller home decor stores, no matter your style or budget, there is something for everyone.  So why not separate yourself by purchasing local, unique, and often customizable pieces to proudly display on the walls of your home?  Pieces that don’t go out of style and won’t break the bank. 

We’ve rounded up a few awesome Iowa and Des Moines Metro inspired art ideas that would be the perfect addition to any home!  And what’s more?  These unique pieces will get your guests talking -- talking about your terrific taste in art AND first-class home décor style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Des Moines Iowa City Skyline by YouandYoursPrints

 

Iowa by County - 18x24" Satin Print by SniffStudio

 

Home Is Where The Corn Is Iowa Map Print by For The Love of Maps

 

Des Moines, Iowa Love Print, 11" x 14", available in a variety of colors - Art By Amy Nelson

 

Iowa State - Iowa Art - Des Moines Iowa Print - Iowa Hawkeye State - custom 8x10 Iowa State Print by PaperFinchDesign

 

Des Moines, Iowa Skyline by LoosePetals

 

Iowa State Love Map, Iowa City, IA, 8"x10", Fine Art Print by SouthernSlang

 

Des Moines IA Sweet Corn Print by Domestica Print

 

10 Easy & Unique Housewarming Gift Ideas

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Giving a thoughtful housewarming gift doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.  Whether it be food, home supplies, kind words, or a sentimental gift, the thought is what counts (at least that what my mom always said...).  Check out these unique and friendly ways to warmly welcome friends and family to their different digs, or new neighbors to the ‘hood!

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1. Jar ‘o goodies by Little Life of Mine

2. Fancy wine gift: Source Unknown

3. Illustrated house portrait from Etsy shop: Rebekkaseale

4. Wine in kitchen towel: Source Unknown

5. Ice Cream Sundae Gift Box from Tip Junkie

6. Home Cleaning essentials: Source Unknown

7. New home needs bucket from Champagne Thursdays

8. Pasta dinner & wine in colander: Source Unknown

9. Lemonade makin’ jar: Source Unknown

10. Personalized address stamp from Etsy shop Foryoo

Displaying blog entries 171-180 of 181