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Displaying blog entries 171-180 of 205

Q & A with an Ankeny Educator: Meet Mr. Ruff

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 Mr. Ruff!

Name: Aaron Ruff    


Position: Physical Education at Prairie Ridge Middle School


Number of years in education:8


Years taught in Ankeny:5


Hobbies: Coaching, Reading, Cheering for the Cyclones, Bears and Cubs


What is the best thing about teaching in Ankeny?

Teaching in Ankeny is a privilege. The students, families, teachers and administrators are a joy to work with. Above all else the best thing about working in the Ankeny Community School District is the mindset that whatever is best for the students is what will be done.


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

As we keep growing as a community our schools keep up and are always doing good work, work that is best for the students of the community. 


What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Balancing the time in all the extra-curricular activities that I am involved in with Ankeny Community School District. 


How would your students describe you?

Fun, Fair and Nice


What motivates you?

Seeing students and athletes achieve beyond what they thought they could do.


What is typically the best part of your day?

 Working with kids and seeing kids achieve their personal goals. 

Trending: Mudrooms (Make Your Own!)

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

No matter how big or small your home or family are, we can all agree that a designated place to drop our “stuff” when we walk in the door is ideal for the sake of ease and organization in today’s society.  And while a dedicated, actual mudrooms in every home would be nice, it isn’t a reality.  Although, mudrooms are certainly a trend on the rise.  So, what do you do if your home’s layout doesn’t exactly leave room for such a space?  Well, you get creative!  Use what you have and make the most of your space!  Think outside the box and utilize hooks, shelves, storage bins, and any extra wall space to create your makeshift mudroom.  Solve shoe storage issues, get the bursting with artwork backpacks up off the floor, and hang your coats for every season on hooks assigned to each family member.  Take it from us -- no matter how big or small your space, your clutter issues can be solved.  Check out these inspirational areas of order: 









Meet Your Ankeny Real Estate Service Agent, Bob Cazavilan

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

We caught up with agent Bob Cazavilan and asked him to share a little about himself and his background.  Here's what he had to say!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself…

A:  "Ultimately I’m a teacher...  I taught high school mathematics in Massachusetts after graduating with a BA degree in Philosophy in 1969.   I also taught real estate courses in MA.  Since then, for the past 30 years, I’ve been teaching clients how to work through the details of buying & selling homes.  There’s quite a bit more data that I become aware of, & information I discover,  when I’m looking at a home than what most people see.  I’ll point things out to a client that might not be so obvious.  My role is to keep my clients informed giving them all the pertinent information to consistently make the right decisions.   This is true whether representing a buyer or seller.

Another part of my job is anticipating difficulties & working them out ahead of time.  With the complexities of any transaction, knowing what’s coming, & having worked out similar details beforehand is crucial to a successful transaction.  Buying & selling a home can be a stressful time for even the most prepared people.   Knowing that someone experienced & knowledgeable is legally working in your own best interests, who can work out & explain the details, gives a great sense of peace & accomplishment to the people I represent. 

Integrity, clear communication & flexibility are traits I’ve pursued & developed over the past 30 years…

I also drove cab in Boston for a while…. & milked cows in New Hampshire, lived on a boat in the Virgin Islands & started Bless This House Real Estate in 1994.

Starting in the early 1980’s, when interest rates were over 17%, I showed & sold my first home by crawling in a cellar window to open the door for the waiting buyers.  Two years after first getting my Agents license I secured my Brokers license & opened Cazavilan Real Estate, Inc. renting a space over the Christian bookstore in Springfield, MA.  I ran Caz R.E. for 12 years until I came to Iowa in 1992."

Talk about a well-rounded guy! Does Bob sound like just the person you want representing you on your next transaction?  If so, give Bob a call at 515.669.5123!

Trending: Home Theater Systems

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

These days it isn’t uncommon for our prospective buyers to be as concerned about home technology as they are about floor plans, location, and mortgage payments. Many even have “media room” on their list of prospective home must-haves…or at the very least, a space to create one!

As home-theater prices lower and technology advances, the idea of a “media room” has slowly evolved from a luxury to a near necessity for many.  Think about it…it is a place your family can congregate, laugh, and be entertained.  Next to the kitchen and family rooms, a home theater room practically demands to be occupied.  And when it comes to entertaining?  Nothing says “fun” like a shiny new flat screen and impressive components. 

According to a recent survey performed by the Consumer Electronics Association of real estate agents, home-theater systems and other home management systems are selling at a faster rate than they ever have before.

Be it big or small, we think it is rooms like these that are motivating our buyers to add that much-loved home-theater space to their “prospective home must-have” list.

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.

Q & A with Ankeny Real Estate Service Agent Becky Mock

by Ankeny Real Estate Service

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I grew up in Ankeny, so I know this town well.  I enjoy Ankeny so much that I raised my own kids here. 

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

A: Real Estate was something I had always wanted to do, so I finally went for it about 4 ½ yrs ago.  It’s been great! 

Q: What is the best part about your job?

A: I really enjoy meeting all kinds of people and helping them to make one of the biggest decisions they’ll probably make.

Q: What motivates you?

A: I enjoy what I do and helping others fulfill their dreams!

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

A: How’s the market right now?

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

A: Spend time with family.

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

A: Steve Hidder, owner/broker at Ankeny Real Estate Service, has taught me so much since I’ve been with his company.

Q: What is one thing you learned from your father?

A: Always do your best….don’t do anything halfway.

Q: Your mother?

A: How to nurture my family.

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

A: Being a Realtor involves MUCH more than just driving buyers around to look at homes or to just put a sign in the yard of a seller.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A: I’ll still be a Realtor helping others’ dreams come true! 

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


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 


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


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


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


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


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.  


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?


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!


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.


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.


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.



Displaying blog entries 171-180 of 205