Thursday, January 31, 2008

Organic Dog Food? You gotta be kiddin me!

When we brought Merry and Milo home on New Years day, our initial concerns were ear mites, worms, and malnutrition. So after tackling those issues, it was a relief to focus on something as basic as dog food. Specifically, what are these dudes going to be eating over the next 10+ years? I had read with disgust the newspaper reports in 2007 about American pet food manufacturers and their Chinese counterparts lacing our pets food with arsenic to pump up their profits. Well, the average American is far more forgiving than I, because once you try to kill my dog or my kids, any chance of getting my future business is pretty much shot to Hell. Simply put, I will NOT buy dog food from any company that was involved in the massive petfood recall. If I have to cook up ground beef and rice daily for the rest of my life, so be it.

So, I decided to check out the Pet Food aisle at Krogers and see what my options were for pet food made in the US. To my surprise, I saw a familiar product label that I adore - Newman's Own makes organic dogfood! That's the good news. The bad news: it is 3 times the price of Purina ($1.89 a can as compared to 69 cents for Purina.) I did the math, and calculated the additional cost per year it would be to go with Paul and Joanne, and realized I could buy a new laptop every year if I went with the Purina. Don't even get me started on if I opted for the 'Ol Roy!

Then I started thinking of our new little friends, and everything they had been through... and all the love and admiration they shower upon us. You guessed it, I opted for the organic. Who needs a new laptop every year anyway, eh? My hunch is that many families have arrived at the same conclusion, so tomorrow, I call our broker and buy stock in organic dog food companies!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Central Illinois Area Homes Guide now viewable on-line!

Compliments of the local Peoria Area Association of Realtors, the Bible of all Peoria area home buyers is now available for on-line viewing. I remember when we were looking for our home just a short 10 years ago, I would count the days until we could run around to the grocery stores looking for the newest issue. How times have changed! Now, anyone with a computer and a cup of coffee can sit down and view on-line at their leisure. Other key features include:

*View current issues and print pages
*Search issues using key words and access archive issues
*Find a pick up location
*Free 6-issue subscription to each publication

Whether ready to invest in home ownership or just dreaming of that day...the Greater Peoria community has come to embrace The Central Illinois Homes Guide (CIHG) as a must-have house-hunting companion. Homes for sale are beautifully displayed and the information about them is current and reliable ...and multi-purpose.

It is great to have this internet option available but be advised that it seems to be loading a little slow. Please don't let this frustrate you... I am sure they will work out the "bugs". Just save it in your favorites folder and check back in a week or so! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No, I did not just wrestle with a jungle cat...

That's what you would think by looking at my hands and arms. They are covered with deep painful scratches... similar to what you would get if you wrestled with a large animal from the cat family and lost. No, these are compliments of the two new fuzz-faces in our home - Milo and Merry. Before the reader jumps to conclusions and thinks that I am referring to a minor nail clipping issue, I will digress on the source of my injuries.

On New Years Day the Vespa family took a little ride out to East Peoria to potentially adopt one out of 2 Pekingese that the owner wanted to get rid of. The Pekes were a breeding pair and together they had 3 adorable 8 week old puppies. The owners wanted two of the puppies but due to the emaciated condition of the Mamma, the partial blindness of the Pappa, and general health issues of the pair they no longer wanted these dudes. This scenario met all my criteria for adopting only rescue or pound pets and when we got there we decided to take both- just to get them out of a bad situation. I told dh we would keep one and find a loving home for the other. That was 3 weeks ago, ah-hem.

They are gentle, loving dogs and great with the kids, but suffice it to say they lack a little in the manners department. Slowly but surely we are making some progress in that regard- but it was all shot to heck yesterday during the fresh snowfall. The dogs love to go for short rides in the mini-van and upon returning home were making the customary jaunt from the van to the house. Ordinarily, they run straight into the house to see if any food has magically appeared in their bowls during their absence, but this time, the blanket of snow disoriented them, and they started running. They ran behind our house, and then the neighbors and then the next neighbors, and then to my horror... disappeared into the woods. I was chasing them as fast and far as I could go. Do you know that there are wild rose bushes deep in the woods? Like their domestic cousins they have thorns - very large ones, indeed.

So there I was, Ms. Super Pet Owner running as fast and furious as I could through the woods- pushing the thorns out of my way with my bare hands- completely oblivious to the damage they were inflicting upon my limbs. But it was to no avail... soon there was no sign of the dogs. It was devastating. My mind was filled with all the awful ways they would die, lost deep in the woods. If the coyotes didn't get them the frost or icy creek would. Merry in her weak and fragile state wouldn't last an hour. What would I tell the kids? What would I tell the dh, and the neighbors? I was literally shaking from dread and fear.

A few minutes later, I heard my daughter yelling "Merry! Merry!" My little Merry apparently came to her senses and remembered all the hot meals and loving she enjoyed over the last several weeks and mercifully re-traced her steps. A few minutes later I heard Milo's familiar sassy little yap a bit in the distance. I followed the source of the yaps and found Milo trash-talking a Springer Spaniel.

I scooped up both of my dogs and took them home ASAP! I was so relieved I couldn't even be mad at them. Hmmm... I wonder if they will remember their break for freedom? I sure won't forget it - and I'll have the scars to prove it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ya gotta love the little darlings!

Today we were sitting at Northwoods Mall food court eating burrito's as big as our heads, when I was suddenly overcome with a rush of affection towards my children. I grabbed my daughter and squeezed her close and told her that I would never let her move away.. even after she was married and had kids of her own. I was kidding of course. But she wiped the smile right off my face by replying "But Mommy, when we have kids of our own you'll be dead." Ugh! Guess I need to quit harping on my age around them. Lol!

Politics: What's a family?

At the risk of appearing like an irresponsible voter, I will admit I did not watch the 18th Congressional District Candidate debates last week. For one thing, I have the attention span of a gnat and secondly, I feel they would all do a great job so don't feel compelled to vote against any of them. I did, however, see snippets of the debate later on the news...which made me feel glad I didn't watch it in its entirety. It would have only annoyed me. Apparently, Morriss and McConoughy have suggested that Schock might not be up to the task of representing families because he does not have a wife and 1.7 kids. Personally, I find that offensive.

Is a single woman with a child and no husband a family? Is a couple without children a family? Is a couple with adopted children and no biological children a family? And if they are considered a family by these two candidates, do they meet the criteria necessary to make good decisions?

I was 40 before I was happily married and had my first of two children. In the interim, I owned a business, relocated 1000's of families throughout central Illinois, and served on numerous boards and civic associations in our community. Did being married and having children change me? You betcha. Would it have substantially changed any decisions I made in my professional career on the behalf of others? I don't think so. Those decisions are based upon a set of values and ethics that have been cultivated through effective parenting and personal integrity. They are not attributes that magically appear upon the birth of your first child - although I will concede at that point you do start paying attention to school districts!

In the Christmas card photo shown above, you see a smiling Aaron surrounded by a lot of people that look just like him, heh, heh... that obviously love, support, and cherish him. If that isn't a family, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My favorite Photog!

When this blog came on the scene a year or so again, I had a hunch the author was pretty special. Her definition of herself as a "hispanic chick" peaked my interest as our daughter was born in Guatmela, and I have always had a thing for Latin American culture.

I started watching this gal and her site, and learned to appreciate the color, focus and artistry she put into each of her photographs. She can take something so simple and make it look so special.

Shortly thereafter "Lily" became a regular poster on and I had the opportunity to meet her at a forum event. She has become one of my best buds!

When the New Year rolled around and I realized it was time to update my Poodle photo (I HATE that pic- see sidebar), I naturally thought of her. I sent her a quick e-mail asking if she could take some candid business photos for me, and true to her helpful nature she replied "sure"! She gave me one caveat - she rarely photographed people. So I just advised her to think of my head as a pumpkin, and we made our plans.

Our session was at a lovely home I have for sale, and Lily quickly went to work on the camera set-up and lighting. When it came time to take the pics, I plastered on my best photog smile and - Lily looked at me with disgust. "Diane if that isn't the cheesiest smile I have ever seen!" "Well so sorry, Lily, but haven't you ever seen the "Friends" episode where Monica and Chandler are having their engagement photo taken and Chandler simply cannot smile naturally? Well some people are that way and I'm one of them!"

So Lily cleverly asked me to tell her something funny that happened recently. OMG, I had the perfect story. I proceeded to tell her how Dh was loving up to these new dogs in our home, and the unnuetered male dog got just a little too happy about it if you catch my drift. I was laughing so hard I was crying. And Lily was just a-snapping away! Needless to say, we got the pics, and if I ever need a pic of myself crying to boot - I'm set!

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Seller Disclosure Laws in effect regarding Radon

When the harmful affects of radon were first reported in the mid 90's, I'll admit most of my colleagues and I thought it was a bunch of bunk. After all, the definition of radon is something straight out of a Star Trek episode. According to Illinois Emergency Management Agency, radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that comes from naturally occurring uranium in the soil. Yeah, right. Unsafe concentrations of radon in the home are reported to cause harmful side affects including significantly increasing ones risk of lung cancer.

So this radon thing really started catching on, and within a few years of its discovery, Realtors were no longer willing to take the risk that we could be wrong. It then became standard practice to recommend radon inspections to all of our buyers.

The jury is still out on this issue somewhat, but the state of Illinois takes it pretty darn seriously. Effective January 1, 2008, all Sellers of residential real estate in the state of Illinois will need to complete a mandatory disclosure regarding radon in their home. The law does not require that sellers test for radon, nor does it require remediation if unsafe levels are found. But it does require that Sellers disclose the known presence of unsafe concentrations of radon in their home. It also requires that the Seller or their agent provide the buyer with a super scary pamphlet regarding radon. After reading these documents, no one in their right mind would refuse a radon test.

So, homeowners, if you are thinking of selling, you might want to consider having the test and mediation (if indicated) done now. At this point its pretty likely that buyers will be asking for radon tests in the homes they intend to purchase. There is an arguable advantage to having it done up front. Radon remediation systems start around $800. Feel free to contact me for further details.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Peoria County Worthless Check Program

Anyone who has ever been victim of a stop-payment or NSF check will appreciate this Peoria County program I recently discovered. It is the Peoria County Worthless Check Program. The title is self explanatory. According to this glossy little pamphlet I hold here in my non-nicotine stained fingers, this is a program instated by States Attorney Kevin Lyons to assist residents of Peoria County in collecting funds from worthless deadbeats who write bad checks. Unfortunately, I'll be testing its adequacy in the very near future.

The process looks pretty simple. The victim must first send the deadbeat a 10 day courtesy notice demanding they pay up or crap will be hittin the fan soon. If the notice yields no result, the victim then fills out a one page form detailing the fundamentals of the transaction. This took me no more than 10 minutes to complete. Finally, the victim turns over the completed form and the worthless check to the States Attorneys Office. You then click your heels together 3 times, spin around, and voila, within 2 months if all goes well you should recieve complete restitution from the States Attorneys office. Not sure how they do it but I'm thinking it has something to do with Pit Bulls.

There are exceptions to the program. You can read all about it here The site also offers helpful suggestions on avoiding this confounded situation in the first place. It's a good read. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy Flippin New Year!

Thank you to all my readers, commenters, friends, family and clients who have made 2007 such a sensational year! Have a Great '08! I plan too.