Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Book Character Day – How an Iowa Start Up, An Iowa Author, and One Frantic Mama Come Together May 8, 2013

wpid-2013-05-08_08-07-15_945.jpgIt’s Book Character Day at my kids’ school, and my daughter loves getting into character every chance she gets (she was an amazing Wednesday Addams for Halloween this year). She informed me last week that she wanted to be Vee from Jill Hathaway’s book Slide. Aviva met Ms. Hathaway at an Iowa Author event put on by the Des Moines Public Library last year, and promptly fell in love with her book, Slide, and proceeded to beg me incessantly all winter long to check if her new book, Imposter, had been released yet. I looked up Jill on Twitter and asked for costume help, and got the response “A pink wig!”

Perfect. I happen to own a pink wig. Done and done. I went off to (or rather, failing to) convince my son to dress up as something other than a movie character (yes, I know they’re based on comic BOOKS, but I was going for creativity points). Then Monday night, Aviva checks back in with me about her costume, and I told her about Jill’s tweet, and my pink wig. I got back a disappointed look and “it’s kinda more red than pink, Mom.” Oh sure, when I wanted it to be a red wig, she thought it looked pink, but now….this feels like the beginning of pre-teen drama, but hey, I can be flexible for going the extra mile on book character day! We can pick up temporary hair color on the way home from soccer practice Tuesday night….plenty of time.

Plenty of time…until I left my wallet in my bike bag after my first of the season ride during the day, and showed up at Sally Beauty Supply with a checkbook, a phone loaded with Dwolla, but no debit card, ID, or cash. Haven’t we all been this parent at one point or another? It’s an hour before closing, the post-soccer kid is starving, you’re starving, and you’re $2 away from having the tasks of the day complete, lacking TWO STINKING DOLLARS. I asked if I could use a check without ID, nope….then I asked if they accept Dwolla, they didn’t even know what I was talking about…I was about to leave in failure, and start racing from dinner to home to back to the store in what I’m sure would have ended up a stressful and potentially disastrous evening of putting together Vee’s look, when a woman stuck her head around the corner and said “Did you say Dwolla?”

Turns out, also shopping at Sally’s was Geoff Wood’s sister, who explained that her brother was involved with ThincIowa and Silicon Prairie News, and she was so surprised/excited to hear someone mention Iowa tech startup Dwolla, that she rescued me and bought the $2 temporary pink hair color for our book character day adventures. Which turned out looking very cool in Aviva/Vee’s hair this morning, even if you can’t see most of it in this photo.

That’s Iowa for you, whether you’re looking to restore a 125 year old house, or start a tech company, it’s far and away, the place to be. The living is easy, and the people are especially nice, in a city that often feels more like a small town than a metro with half a million people. I’m Dwolla-ing Geoff $5. I hope he uses it to buy his super nice sister a beer, smoothie, or whatever appropriate thank you for saving my evening last night!


Things We Love: Start Up Weekend #SWDSM March 4, 2012

I’ve been thinking that eventually, we should have a section of this blog that features the things we love about Des Moines. When I moved to Iowa from New Jersey in 1992, it took me a while to settle in and see how great this city really is. Granted, it’s much improved in the past 20 years, but the reality is that I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else, and this section of the blog will start to point out why. From the great restaurants, galleries, events, and sports, Des Moines offers so much to do on any given day. And once you pick something, you’ll find minimal traffic, free or cheap parking, affordability, and really nice people.

But there’s something else that makes Des Moines amazing: there is almost zero barrier for entry into whatever you can dream up. I could tell you about the amazing experiences I’ve had over the past couple decades involved with several different boards and events around the city, but there’s no time for that. Right now, Start Up Weekend Des Moines has a group of entrepreneurs staying up late and cooking up app ideas: how to use what’s in your fridge to make delicious (My Kitchen Genie); to virtually slashing the tires of someone that doesn’t know that you learned how to drive in New Jersey, and should therefore get out of her way (RoadRageous). There’s a group working on an app for people sports-knowledge challenged, but their theme song says that girls don’t know about sports, and they don’t say anything about soccer, so I’ll post a link to my soccer blog instead. Just kidding….you can find Cram 5 Sports, but it’s at your peril.

A city that’s startup friendly is going to be an incubator for all sorts of cool things like Dwolla.com, StartUp City DSM, and well, you know…cool 1887 historic homes that get renovated into spaces where you can learn about local food, local art, or just have a welcoming place to stay. Just the first of many reasons you should come check out Des Moines.