Hoosier High School Basketball Hysteria

In Indiana, Hoosier hysteria is a way of life.

Though you won’t find it in the dictionary, this phrase is well known and describes the excitement surrounding Indiana basketball – specifically, Indiana high school basketball. My staff and I witnessed the hysteria earlier this month at the Fifth Annual High School Slam Dunk and Three-Point Championship at Carmel High School, sponsored by American Family Insurance.

HS Slam Dunk

This event featured 16 outstanding high school seniors – eight young men and eight young women – from all over the country, competing in a one-minute three-point shooting contest. The senior boys also had just two opportunities to demonstrate their creative, challenging slam dunk skills for a panel of Indiana celebrity judges in the Slam Dunk Championship.

When we walked into the gymnasium, the energy was electric. Spectators from all over Indiana came out to witness and support the athletes demonstrating their amazing talent. This night had the potential to be history-making for some of these young players as they competed, hoping to become one step closer to pursuing their dreams. The cheers were deafening as Carmel senior Ryan Cline made it to the finals and won the three-point competition with 22 points in the final round (one and two points are awarded per shot).

Everyone from my office was thrilled to attend this event, as each has a love for Indiana basketball. Basketball brings together the old and young, boys and girls, urbanites and those from tiny rural communities. We gather at homes or at a restaurant to watch the games. And whether you live in the city, suburbs or on a country road, chances are, there’s a basketball goal within a rock’s throw.

More than half the homes in our neighborhood have basketball goals in their driveways. We see kids gathering nightly to play. I grew up playing in the neighborhood, on my high school team, and later with a group at our church. Our son has played basketball the last two seasons and this year I coached his third grade team. A basketball goal was a must-have feature on our “wish list” when we purchased our home late last year.

One of our office’s licensed producers is Noblesville, Indiana native Tom Coverdale, Mr. Basketball 1998. He was asked to judge the Slam Dunk Competition with four others including Boom Herron, running back with the Indianapolis Colts. Tom says in Indiana you are basically born with a basketball in your hands. Every kid dreams of playing for their high school team and in college. The state has a following unlike any other state when it comes to basketball. The atmosphere at Carmel High School was no different.

Bobby Plump, John Wooden, Larry Bird and Steve Alford all began pursuing their dreams in a high school gymnasium in Indiana. Hoosiers take great pride in remembering these young men before they were legendary players, and we feel a connection to their success.

It was an honor and a thrill for us to be involved in the High School Slam Dunk and Three-Point Championship representing American Family Insurance. This event allowed these young athletes to demonstrate their athleticism and to “dream big.”

Whatever becomes of them as they pursue their basketball dreams, we will be able to say, “we were there” when it began.

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Should You Buy a New Car?

hondaWe’ve had our 2011 Honda Odyssey van for 4 years.  It came straight from the factory and had 4 miles on it when we drove off the lot.

With a very little interest rate, about $12 of each payment is now going to interest and the rest is going to principle.  It will be paid off soon and that’s a great feeling.  We haven’t had any issues with the vehicle and we weren’t considering trading it in until we received an offer in the mail from the dealer.  It seems this model is popular on the used car market and they are eager to get us into a new vehicle ($$$).  I gotta say, it’s tempting.

However, no car payment is tempting too.  We feel we’re in a good spot with a relatively “new” vehicle but when should we buy a new car?

I did some research and Edmunds.com says it’s almost always less expensive to repair a car than buy a new one.  They say a new car typically loses an estimated 22 percent of it’s value in the first year and your existing car has already taken that depreciation hit.

On the flip side, if trips to the mechanic are costing you too much money and time from your work or family and you don’t want to worry constantly about future break downs, a new car may be worth the investment.  New cars are safer than ever with many safety equipment becoming standard on new vehicles.

Edmunds formula to making a decision is if the cost of repairs is greater than either the value of the vehicle or one year’s monthly payments, it’s time to buy another vehicle.

I asked Pat about the cost of insurance on an older vehicle v. a new one.  Would our insurance premium go up or down if we bought a new vehicle?  Of course all rates depend on the driver’s driving record and the type of vehicle (sports cars really do cost more to insure) but he said a newer car would cost more to insure (there are reasons and I’ll let him break it down for you).  But if you are in the market for a new care, the good news is, it’s also true that newer vehicles may have newer safety features that can lower your premium.  It’s important you research what your rates may be on a vehicle you are interested in purchasing before you buy.

IMG_4744In our case, the van isn’t that “old” and we have the most recent safety features such a side air bags, the back up camera and a lot of what I’d call bells and whistles on it: Navigation, DVD player, bluetooth, auto start = all awesome features when toting around kids (and when I want to learn my Jazzercise routines on long road trips).

Not having a car payment soon and keeping our premium low is more attractive to me right now than a new vehicle that’s going to depreciate thousands of dollars the minute I drive it off the lot.  And, according to Kelly’s Blue Book, if I wanted to sell the van to a private party, I could expect to receive just over $21,000.  Not a bad chunk of change should I change my mind in the near future!

Are you in the market for a new car?  Call us and ask what your insurance premium would be so you can factor the total cost of a new vehicle into your budget.  We’d be happy to assist you.

-S.O.
The Patrick D. O’Brien Agency

 

 

12 Fruits and Vegetables That Will Help You Eat Healthier this Summer

We are a fruit and veggie lovin’ family.  We genuinely like the taste of most of them – especially in the summer.  We make salads, grill them, snack on them at the park, take to pitch-ins, etc.  We know they’re good for us, but it was eye-opening to learn WHY they are good for us.  Read on to see how you can prepare the following fruits and veggies to maximize their flavor and healthy benefits.

Asparagusfruits and veggies
Lightly grill then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar this summer.  Asparagus is high in fiber, folic acid, potassium, vitamins A and C and glutathione (a phytochemical with antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties).

Avocados
Add to your salad, sandwich or alone on whole wheat toast for breakfast.  One ounce of an avocado contains 20 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  It’s rich in monounsaturated fat, which may lower bad “LDL” cholesterol and reduce risk for heart disease.

Blackberries
Add to salads, smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal.  Blackberries contain antioxidants, are high in vitamin C and the seeds are high in fiber.

Brussel Sprouts
These can be lightly grilled after splitting in half and lightly drizzled with olive oil.  These veggies are high in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and fiber.

Butternut Squash
Add to pasta dishes, risottos and soups.  It’s rich in complex carbohydrates and vitamins A and C and it’s a good source of beta carotene, magnesium, calcium and potassium.

Figs 
Rich in potassium and fiber, try adding dried figs to trail mix with some almonds and whole-wheat cereal.

Kale 
Use in smoothies or add them to entrees in place of spinach or cabbage.  Kale is packed with vitamins A, C and E.  Kale is high in antioxidants and also includes important minerals manganese, iron, calcium and potassium.

Pomegranate
Toss some of the seeds on your salad this summer.  They are high in antioxidants and rich in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.

Spinach
Blend into smoothies, saute with garlic and olive oil, or use as your salad base.  Spinach is an excellent source of folate, iron, and vitamins A and K.

Strawberries
Eat alone or on salads or make a fruit kebab with other fruits like grapes and melon.  This fruit is rich in Vitamin C, folic acid and antioxidant flavonoids thought to be protective against stroke and cancer.

Swiss Chard
Use in side dishes, salads and soups.  It’s a blood sugar stabilizer and one of the world’s most nutritious vegetable.  It contains magnesium, vitamins A and C, and can aid as an anti-inflammatory and detoxifyer.

Tomatoes
Sliced on a sandwich, chopped into a salad, added to omelets or skewered and grilled, tomatoes are a summer staple.  Huge in antioxidants and rich in beta carotene, tomatoes also contain vitamin C, manganese and vitamin E.

How many of these items are you already nibbling on this spring?  Which one will you incorporate into your menu this season?

– S.O.
The Patrick O’Brien Agency – Fishers, IN

 

 

 

Clean a Stinky Garbage Disposal

If your kitchen is developing an odor and you’ve taken out the trash, it could be your garbage disposal.  Even if you run your garbage disposal until the last shred of food is gone, and you let the water run the recommended time, you can still wind up with an out-of control science experiment that stinks up your kitchen.

The reason is – some food is going to stick to the inside of the grinding chamber, and it’s going to decay.  You can clean the chamber by grinding ice and lemon rinds, adding baking soda or rinsing with vinegar and water.  Or, you can add commercial cleaners like Disposer Care, which is available at discount stores and most home centers.

garbage disposalIf there is still an odor after cleaning the grinding chamber, you’ll need to attack the underside of the splash guard.  Cleaning the splash guard is easier than you think.  you don’t even have to remove it.  Just clean it with a toothbrush and cleaner as shown.

Dip an old toothbrush in antibacterial grease-cutting kitchen cleaner and lift up one corner of the splash guard.  Scrub off the crud and rinse with cold water.  Repeat with each flap until it’s totally clean and rinsed.

Simple as that!

To prevent future odors and to ensure all the food particles are cleared away, don’t turn off the garbage disposal as soon as the grinding noises stop.  It is better to leave the garbage disposal on (with the water running) for several seconds after the grinding noises subside, as there may still be small particles in the disposal unit which have not yet been cleared away.

– S.O.
The Patrick O’Brien Agency – Fishers, IN

6 Amazing Household Things You Can Do With Salt

morton salt

Salt isn’t just for flavoring your food. Thanks to HGTV magazine, I just learned of 6 amazing ways to use salt around the house to fix some oops and clean a variety of items from tools to body parts.

1.   Remove the stains from a coffee mug

Pour half a teaspoon of salt into a stained coffee cup or teacup, scrub with a dry paper towel, then rinse.  The alkaline in the salt gets rid of discoloration from coffee or tea like magic.

2.   Neutralize a stinky sink

After cooking smelly things like onions and garlic, add a heaping tablespoon of salt to a quart of boiling water, then pour it down the drain to clear away odor-causing grease and bits of food

3.   Lift wine stains

Instead of cleaning a stain with a wet cloth, which can make it spread, blot the area with a dry cloth.  Then pour on a heaping mound of salt to help lift the stain off the fabric.  Let it sit for 30 minutes, then blot clean with cold water and wash.

4.   Eliminate rust

Use a paste of six tablespoons of salt and two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice on a dry cloth to wipe away rust from almost anything metal.  Use on bicycles, outdoor furniture, and tools.  Rinse thoroughly.

5.   Clean a cast iron skillet

Ad a splash of water and a teaspoon of Kosher salt to a cast-iron skillet.  Use a paper towel to wipe off food without causing the pan to lose its seasoning.

6.   Use as a body scrub

There are many exfoliating products for the body on the market but you can make a scrub at home with just a bit of sea salt.  Just mix two parts sea salt and one part grape seed oil and you’ve got a great exfoliating body scrub.

I learned quite a bit from this article in the HGTV April issue.  I think the wine tip and the stinky sink fix will come in especially handy at our house.  Did you learn anything new?  What will you try first?

– S.O.
POB Agency

Road Trip Essentials for Kids

Road tripIf you are heading out of town soon and driving with kids, a large chunk of your packing list is dedicated to what you’ll need inside your vehicle to keep everyone fed and entertained so you don’t have to STOP.

I could “Google” and “Pin” much more but here’s my favorite list of what to pack and what to do to pass the time in the car.

Activities:

  • Books, magazines, comics, activity books.  Bring books they’ve never read before.  Goodwill has LOTS for just pennies.
  • Sketchbook, notebook, washable markers, twist up colored pencils (no sharpening needed)
  • Games, such as the license plate game or travel bingo
  • disposable cameras so they can take pictures – or a digital one if you trust them with it.
  • Free up space on your smart device and let the kids make recordings along the drive.  Or use a good ol’ tape recorder: Let the kids produce a vacation broadcast
  • Pre-stamped blank postcards (find them at the post office), which your kids can decorate, or postcards bought on the road; have your children write to friends, relatives, even pets
  • Doodling doodads: a small dry-erase board, Etch A Sketch, Magna Doodle, tic tac toe board.
  • Pipe cleaners, easy origami, and other scissor-less craft supplies
  • Portable DVD player and DVDs; don’t forget headphones!
  • Books on CD for the whole family, such as the Harry Potter series or “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  Rent them free from your library.
  • Scrapbook envelope—entrust your children with the responsibility of collecting postcards, ticket stubs, and brochures for a scrapbook
  • Create your trip map and track it with the kids. Print a map off Google maps & insert it into a plastic sleeve.  Use a dry erase marker which will wipe off nicely.

Food:

  • Individually packaged, crumb-free snacks such as bite-sized goldfish crackers, raisins, string cheese.
  • Hard-to-bruise fruits such as apples, grapes and berries; or try fruit roll-ups.
  • Trail mix, which will leave kids feeling full longer (and keep fingers greaseless)
  • Reusable bottles filled with water

Miscellaneous:

  • First-aid items, such as Neosporin, bandages, anti-bacterial wipes, Tylenol, sunscreen, and Dramamine
  • Grocery bags to collect trash
  • Easy wipes & hand sanitizer
  • Change of clothes, in case of accidental spills
  • A blanket for spur-of-the-moment picnics at rest areas—and naps
  • Jump ropes, football, frisbee, baseball gloves, and balls, etc. so energetic little travelers can tire themselves out at rest stops!

What has worked for you on road trips with your kids?  Did you consult Pinterest like I did?  Check out our Pinterest board for more ideas on road tripping with kids.

– S.O.
POB Agency

10 Ways We Reduce Dust (and Allergies) in our Home

Today is the first day of spring and we are looking forward to cleaning up the garage, the yard, and “spring cleaning” inside the home.  With two small children, it’s hard to have a perfectly clean home every day but the one thing that will stop me dead in my tracks year round (no matter what I’m doing) is dust.  Why does dust bother me so much?  Because dust mites live in dust.  YUCK!  And, Pat and Jack have allergies that can go berzerk.

I know dust mites exist and I try hard not to think about them living in our pillows, bed covers, mattresses, furniture, carpeting, and clothing.  (Another YUCK!)  But, I feel better knowing I can reduce the amount of mites in our home by staying on top of the dust with some easy steps.

Here’s our top 10.

  1. Vacuum floors and upholstered furniture once a week
  2. Keep your closet clean and the floors clear so you can vacuum easily & regularly.
  3. Keep furnace filters clean.
  4. Limit knickknack decor.
  5. Instead of heavy drapery, hang lightweight curtains & shades.
  6. Avoid stacking piles of mail, newspaper, and magazines on tables and shelves.
  7. Keep clothes you wear regularly in your bedroom or closet and store the rest.  Use garment boxes and clear plastic containers to store items on shelves so they don’t collect dust.
  8. Store stuffed animals in a closed toy box or closet & regularly wash stuffed toys in hot water.  I’ve heard you can put a stuffed animal in a plastic bag and in the freezer overnight every few weeks to help kill dust mites – but I haven’t tried that yet.
  9. Wash your sheets (and the blankets you wrap up in when you snuggle on the couch) weekly
  10. Have your area rugs cleaned once or twice a year

Can you think of any other ways to reduce dust in the home?  Who’s ready to get started “spring cleaning”?!

– S.O.
POB Agency

Visit Patrick’s profile on Pinterest.

10 Years and Counting

10 yearsIn this day and age, not many people stay with a company for 10 years or more.  In fact, until now, neither had I.  So you can imagine when I received the notice that February 2014 was my 10 year anniversary with American Family, I was surprised (time flies when you’re having fun) and proud.

I started as an agent in 2004 and accepted a sales manager position three years later.  After six years as a sales manager, I returned to agency the Fall of 2013.  A lot comes to mind looking back on the last 10 years and I’d like to share my experience with  you.

I was first attracted to a career as an American Family Agent because of the opportunity to run my own business.  After many years in a corporate sales position with little control over my time and an ever-increasing gap between effort and reward, I realized I had the entrepreneurial drive to own a business.   In the role of an agent with American Family, not only do I control my time, effort and reward but just as important, I have the ability to provide superior products/claims from the best insurance company in the industry.

Not only was I happier in this new role but each year I received an added bonus of working with like-minded fellow managers, supportive company partners and motivated fellow agents.  Everyone I’ve encountered in the company, American Family Insurance, has the same focus:  Put the client and the Agent first!  The company’s sole purpose is to give the client the best experience possible as it pertains to the purchase & servicing of insurance products.

My time as an agency sales manager (2007-2013) gave me access to the inner workings and executive leadership of the corporation. The time spent working for the corporation was invaluable as it helped me understand who we are, where we are going and how important our clients are to the organization.  I had the opportunity to work alongside a team of talented sales managers (in Indiana and other sales states) as well as lead dozens of agency owners in District 556.

The opportunity to work once again as an agent, assisting current & prospective clients, has been the best part of this career.  Meeting with clients and learning about their families and understanding their story has been a privilege.  Our lives are so busy these days with work/family commitments.  I know that my clients need my agency’s advice and recommendations so they can make the best decision for their families.

I have so much gratitude for those that have helped me get to this point in my career:  My awesome wife, Shawna; my Parents; all the amazing mentors I’ve spent time with; and my past managers that gave me opportunities along the way.  All of these individuals helped me succeed in my efforts to be where I am today professionally (and personally).  I thank them for their support, encouragement, dedication, time and belief in me and the agency.  There’s so much heart and soul that goes into what we do every day and I hope you can feel that when you speak with me and Shannon.

I am optimistic for great things to come at The Patrick D. O’Brien Agency.  And those that know me well can hear my tone when I say, “I am pumped”!  Here’s to 10 more years!!

– Pat O’Brien
POB Agency

ps.  If you’d like to view American Family’s 2013 annual report, you can view it here.

8 Ways to Have Integrity – In your Public & Private Life

Have you ever looked up the word, Integrity in the dictionary?  I admit, I had not.  Here’s what it says:
 
“Integrity” Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.in·teg·ri·ty
inˈtegritē/
noun
noun: integrity
  1. 1.
    the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
    “he is known to be a man of integrity”
    synonyms: honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness

Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage.  I was raised on the 10 commandments and the golden rule.   Running a business and raising young people keep “doing the right thing” at the forefront of daily decisions. 

How we conduct ourselves in public and private life is crucial to the legacy we leave behind.  Maybe that’s why Pat loves golf so much.  It’s such a great life-lesson game.  It’s the only professional sport where the participants call penalties on themselves. 
 
We’re not perfect, of course, but the following (condensed from this article) is a good read whenever we need a reminder of how best to be honest, true, noble, trustworthy, and kind to family and customers.
 
1.    Root yourself in a moral foundation. 
 
2.    Look for the positive. 
 
3.    Resist the temptation to compartmentalize your life. 
 
4.    Determine to live for others ahead of yourself (Golden Rule).  
 
5.    Participate in an active accountability group. 
 
6.    Partner with a friend where you need to make progress.  That person should “hold your feet to the fire”. 
 
7.    Be in the habit of sharing EVERYTHING with your spouse (if you are married).  Keeping secrets, big or small, tends to have an impact on who we are
 
8.    Practice the habit of imagining the presence of someone whose opinion you value (Father, Grandparent, Spouse, your children) when conducting yourself with others.
 
And, if applicable, hold your children accountable.  Every lesson we bring to our children is something we need to hear too.
 
As mentioned at the beginning, “integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage. Integrity is keeping your word. Integrity is that internal compass and rudder that directs you to where you know you should go when everything around you is pulling you in a different direction. Some people think reputation is the same thing as integrity, but they are two different things. Your reputation is the public perception of your integrity. Because it’s other people’s opinions of you, it may or may not be accurate. Others determine your reputation, but only you determine your integrity”.
 
How do you maintain integrity in your public and private life?

– S.O.
POB Agency

Healthy Holiday Eating (and Drinking)

Holiday cookiesWe definitely want you to have fun this season and we know delicious baked goodies & seasonal beverages come with the territory.  Between baking at home with your family, receiving baked goods as gifts, and attending functions with a large selection of deserts & drinks, you’re probably consuming your fair share of bulge inducing delectables.  No wonder so many people make weight-loss a part of their New years resolutions!

Here’s how you can modify a bit but still have fun and enjoy the goodies.

If you’re baking, try substituting the following:

*   Whole wheat flour, ground oats or almond meal for FLOUR.
*   Honey or Stevia for SUGAR.
*   Applesauce, mashed banana or coconut oil for BUTTER & OIL.
*   Applesauce or flax meal for EGGS.
*   Carob chips or dark chocolate chunks for CHOCOLATE CHIPS.
*   Greek yogurt for SOUR CREAM.

If you’re attending a party try the following:

*   Make the earlier part of the day extra healthy.  Have a high fiber breakfast, a vegetable filled lunch and exercise in the afternoon.
*   Eat a healthy snack before the party to ease your hunger.  We’ve heard a cup of vegetable soup does a great job.  Also try fiber filled fruit, string cheese, almonds, 4 oz. Greek yogurt or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.
*   When you get to the party, survey and determine your options before filling your plate.  Decide which foods you like best and choose only those – don’t fill up on the others.
*   Dish out smaller portions – about 20% less than you think you might want. (How many times have your eyes been bigger than your stomach at a party)?

If you are going to indulge in Holiday Libations, here are lower calorie options:

*   Wine spritzer = White or red wine mixed with club soda
*   5 oz. of wine, 12oz. of light beer, or 1.5oz of liquor combined w/ non-calorie mixers = 120 calories each.
*   Cranberry crush = Club soda splashed with cranberry cocktail and frozen grapes
*   Guiltless hot chocolate = 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder, skim milk, low-cal sweetener, dash of cinnamon & vanilla extract
*   Apple tea = Brewed tea sweetened with a splash of apple cider and a cinnamon stick.

Do you have any tricks, tips and strategies for savoring the season without putting on the pounds?  We’d love to hear it!

Merry Christmas!!

S.O.
POB Agency