Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Photo ready giveaway

It's been awhile since I've been part of a big giveaway for a variety of reasons - mostly that my life has been a bit more chaotic than usual the past few months. But I really like this prize and wanted to be part of getting the word out.

I tend to favor giveaways with prizes that I would like to win - and this is no exception. My little point-and-shoot is cute and all, but doesn't do everything I want it to (although, to be honest, if I would read the manual, I know I would get better photos).

So here's your chance to win a Canon EOS Rebel T4i digital camera. Just imagine how great your photos would be if you had this.

Welcome to the Photo Ready Giveaway Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media

Please take a moment to say hello to our sponsor: Giveaway Booster

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Now let's talk about the fabulous prize package which includes:

Canon EOS REBEL T4i 18.0 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 3-inch Touchscreen and Full HD Movie Mode (Body) - Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II SLR Zoom Lens - Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens - Telephoto & Wide Angle Lens Set - 3 pc Filter Kit: UV/ Polarizing filter/Fluorescent correction & Case - 32 Gigabyte SDHC Secure Digital Memory Card - Secure Digital USB Card Reader - Universal Memory Card Wallet - Pack of LCD Screen Protectors - Additional LP-E8 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Replacement Battery Pack - Well Protective SLR Camera Gadget Bag w/Pockets & Strap - Full Size 59" Tripod W/Case - Focus DVD Guide to Digital SLR Cameras - Focus Digital Grey Card Set for color correction - Focus 5pc Deluxe Lens Care & Cleaning Kit - HDMI cable

One lucky winner will receive the Canon EOS REBEL T4i Prize Package {detailed above}!

Giveaway ends May 14th at 11:59pm, open worldwide residents, ages 18+. Residents outside of the US will receive a $750 Amazon GC instead. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Carol's Random Babble is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Please contact with questions or to see your business or blog featured on the next big event!

Friday, April 19, 2013

A good cause

I have a friend who is a Child Passenger Safety Technician. She is passionate about car seats and making sure children are safe in cars. This passion helped her a couple of years ago when her family was involved in a terrible rollover accident - because all three of her children were in the proper car seats and all three were rear-facing (even the six-year-old!), the worst injury was a broken leg. It could have been much worse.

My friend is promoting the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program on Facebook. One of the causes that is seeking votes is called Safe and Green.

Here is the summary at the Facebook page:

What is the mission of your cause?

To reduce the number of deaths and injuries of children in car crashes through education & advocacy.

How would you use the $25,000 to address an unmet need in your community?

We would use this grant to expand a pilot education and recycling program for unusable safety seats in communities from Long Beach across Los Angeles County. Staff time would be used to approach local businesses, community groups, family agencies, and environmental groups to generate participation in the network. We would develop educational materials to teach parents how to assess their children’s safety seats to ensure that their children are riding safely in the car. We would then put together a media and publicity campaign to promote the messages of safe car seat use, safe disposal of unusable seats, and recycling. We already have received considerable interest in the concept of enhancing safety through promoting recycling from Los Angeles media, making it a newsworthy way to promote protecting kids in the car. We would work with organizations that provide free or low-cost new safety seats to help low-income families find safe alternatives and avoid old, risky seats.

Each person can vote 10 times per day. It's as simple as clicking. Do you have a few seconds to vote? It may not be in your neighborhood (and you can check at that page for causes that are), but it can potentially save lives.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Perspective and the elephant

This is most of the text of the talk I gave today at my mom's memorial. I improvised a little while speaking and those thoughts are not included. I paraphrased the elephant story here because for the talk I copied it from an online site. But it is an old legend.

Once upon a time there were six blind men in a village. One day there was an elephant and they wanted to find out for themselves what it was like. Each one touched the elephant.

One man said, “the elephant is a pillar”
Another man said, “no, it is like a tree branch.”
The man who touched the tail said it was like a rope.
The man who touched the ear said it was like a huge fan.
The man who touched the side of the elephant thought it was a wall.
The man who touched the tusk said it was like a solid pipe.

The men started arguing about which one of them was right. A wise man passed by and asked them what was the matter. They told him what they each thought the elephant was like. The wise man explained that they were all right, but the elephant was the combination of what they had each discovered. The men were happy.

My purpose today is to share my perspective on the life of Janice Burrell Snyder. I can only share my perspective because I have mostly known her as my mother, but somewhat as friend and sister in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Now, all of this is pieced together mostly from my memories of what my mom told me. So it is a mixture of her perspective and my perspective. Other people who were involved have their own perspective.

For the purpose of being clear, I'm going to say Janice rather than Mom, because most of you knew her as Janice. And I sometimes called her that – mostly in public when we were shopping and if she heard “Mom” she didn't think it was for her, but she would answer to “Janice.”

And now, part of the story of Janice Burrell Snyder.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Arthur and a woman named Florence.

Arthur and Florence fell in love. They wanted to get married, but her parents didn't approve because Arthur was about 9 years older than Florence. Nevertheless, they did get married.

Arthur and Florence had three little girls: Janice, Diane and Nancy.

Janice was born May 30, 1938, in Chicago. That is the traditional Memorial Day, no matter that now it's celebrated on the last Monday of May. She told me that her mom's doctor was determined that she be born on Memorial Day. He wanted her sister Diane to be born on the Fourth of July, but he didn't get his way that time. I really have no idea why he was so fixated on holidays.

Arthur held a variety of jobs and the family moved around a bit. They lived in Dixmoore Village in 1940, according to the census. That's next door to Harvey, Illinois. Janice said she had a pony when she was little. I believe the pony was traded in for a younger sister, Diane.

They lived in Chicago and also Fort Dodge. Janice went to elementary school at Hawley, where the Hawley Lions park is located today. When in elementary school or junior high, her plan was that when she grew up, she would be an old maid. She and her best friend would adopt kids and kittens and raise them all together.

Later on, her plan was to have four kids and when she and her husband retired, they would live with each kid for three months of the year.

The family moved to Gowrie, and she went to high school there. I have recently been in contact with her boyfriend from high school, and he gave me a new perspective on her – the high school girl with younger sisters who teased her about kissing her boyfriend.

Janice's dad, Arthur, was Gowrie town marshal for awhile. He resigned from that job and they moved to Aurelia during her senior year. She worked at Cherokee as a nurse's aide, while her parents worked there. They moved to Chicago some time after she graduated.

Her uncle worked for the Fort Dodge police department. When they moved, there wasn't room for her to travel with her parents and sisters, so she was to take the train by herself from Fort Dodge. Her Uncle Walter escorted her to the train depot, in his police uniform. She said that she felt like a scarlet woman being run out of town on a rail.

Janice had met and dated Bill Snyder while still living in Iowa. I don't have all the details of their courtship, just that she worked in a cafe and he was driving a truck. I do know that they were married in Chicago.

They lived in Des Moines, where Bill was going to college. He transferred to Iowa State University and they lived in Pammel Court – the married student housing. It consisted of trailer homes and quonset huts. This is where they lived when I was born. My earliest memory is like a fuzzy black and white snapshot. I was being held by one of my parents by a quonset hut, at night.

When Bill graduated, he got a job teaching vocational agriculture in the Van Buren School system at Keosauqua. This is where Donna was born. We joke that my dad was a student and her dad was a teacher.

The family lived in several homes in the Keosauqua area. There was one farm house, then another – we called this one Little House on the Prairie. The neighbors had pigs that would get out from time to time. My Aunt Nancy blamed me for causing Mom to go into labor – she said I let the pigs out and Mom had to chase them down. What can I say? I was three years old. If it is true, I think I have the excuse of not being old enough to know better.

I need to backtrack a little here. While the family was still in Ames, Janice was visiting one of the neighbors in Pammel Court to bring over extra tomatoes given her by Bill's mom. She noticed that the woman was coloring in her Bible. She was curious about this and asked. The neighbor explained about marking scriptures for studying, and invited her to go to a weekday women's meeting – Relief Society.

While at the church for this meeting, Janice met and shook hands with two men who were there. She said that she felt something was very different about them and she wanted to know more. She started investigating the church.

It took some time for Bill to accept the gospel, but he did while they lived in the Keosauqua area. They were baptized in January 1964, in the swimming pool at the Ottumwa YMCA. The family was sealed together in the Salt Lake Temple in 1967.

The other two homes the family lived in near Keosauqua were an old farmhouse that burned completely down in February 1966 and another home that was rented by the same landlord.

Bill got a different teaching job – this time for the West Marshal school district. The family moved to an old farmhouse just outside Rhodes. This is where I attended school from second grade through eighth grade.

Janice went to Marshalltown Community College and received an associate's degree. Bill left teaching to take a truck driving job for Umthun Trucking in Eagle Grove, and the family moved to Fort Dodge in 1975.

Janice moved out in 1978 to take an apartment at the Warden. She was still around for a while, but eventually moved to Chicago, where she lived with her sister Diane and her family. You will have a chance to hear about that perspective from my cousin Neela, Diane's oldest daughter.

Bill and Janice divorced. She never remarried. He did remarry, and I assume happily – it appears so from my perspective.

Janice's mother, Florence, died in 1979. Her father, Arthur, died in 1981. One thing that made her happy was a mistake she made in June 1981. She gave her father some books – Westerns, that she knew he would enjoy – for Father's Day. Unfortunately, it was one week early. She took some ribbing about that, but her dad enjoyed the books for a week before he died.

In 1982, Donna and I both moved to Chicago at different times. I got married to Kent, who I had met in Iowa. Donna married Elias, who she met in Chicago. They produced four grandchildren for Janice. Kent and I produced two grandchildren for her.

Janice loved to babysit her grandkids. When she would visit Donna when Alex was little, at parting she would go to the door in preparation to leave. She would say “1, 2, 3” and Alex would run the length of the apartment to jump into her arms for a big hug.

Sometime after Donna's divorce, she moved back to Fort Dodge. In March 1996, Kent and I moved to Fort Dodge, as well. Janice moved back to Fort Dodge later that year to be with her grandchildren. And, I suppose, her daughters as well.

In Fort Dodge, she became a Foster Grandparent. She loved her first assignment, in Mrs. Duffy's kindergarten class at Hillcrest. Unfortunately Mrs. Duffy died and Janice was reassigned. She didn't find as fitting an assignment at the other schools she went to. Eventually her physical condition caused problems – she had both knees replaced and some other surgeries.

The last few years she lived at Garden Village in Fort Dodge.

These things tell part of the life of Janice Burrell Snyder. But there is much, much more.

Her favorite flowers were lilacs and lily of the valley.

Janice loved to read. There was hardly a time in her life that she wasn't involved with books. She enjoyed a wide variety of genres like fantasy, science fiction, mystery, certain romances, and one of her favorite authors was Betty Neels. I have quite a collection of Betty Neels books at home now. I also have her collection of church books. She loved the scriptures and read them daily as long as she was able.

She liked to watch some crime dramas, science fiction and history on TV. She enjoyed the classic Doctor Who, but I couldn't get her interested in the current episodes, unfortunately.

Janice enjoyed participating in a couple of online forums. She liked the people there and they liked her. She did gain a certain amount of expertise in being online and emailing, although sometimes we got a little exasperated when things didn't go well and she called us for tech support.

Janice loved the church. She believed in the gospel. She held many callings throughout her life. Her death is a separation from the things and the people she knew, but we hold on to the belief that we will be reunited some day. I take comfort in the timing of her death on Good Friday. I will remember the resurrection when I think of her and hope that we will have a sweet reunion.

I have told you a part of the story of Janice Burrell Snyder. But like the blind men and the elephant, there is only so much that I know.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blogger op: Photo Ready Giveaway

Photo Ready Giveaway Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media
Prize: Canon EOS REBEL T4i 18.0 MP CMOS Digital Camera Prize Package {RV$950+}
Event dates: 4/23 - 5/14
Please say that Carol Foltz (Carol's Random Babble) sent you.

Leaving things to the last minute

I'm really bad at this - or really, really good at it.

Mom's memorial is in two days. I need to straighten my apartment, write the eulogy, write the program, and get the program to the funeral home so they can print the folders (which also means providing photos).

I've had time, but have barely begun to straighten my apartment, let alone the rest of it.

I've got tomorrow off, but I really wanted to get the program done before this. My first deadline was Friday. Then today. But this morning Cayla told me that she wants to play something at the memorial, but she wants to look through my old hymnbook to figure out what.

I hadn't asked her to participate because I wasn't sure if she would be able to. Now I've got to figure out where to put her. But she's at school now, so I can't ask. Which means I either have to figure that out on my own or put off the deadline for turning the program in to the funeral home until tomorrow.

Here's an idea: I'm going back to bed for a couple of hours. Sleep is always good. (Maybe I'll be more lucid when I get up.)

And, Mom's memorial is nearly three weeks after her death. We are taking our time with everything. It makes me wonder how people manage to do all their arrangements when they hold a funeral only days after a death, and there are no prearrangements.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


(In the interest of brevity, I separated this from the previous post.)

Although I make reference to a sort of specific situation, this philosophy can apply to many situations. If you work with the public, you know that people get testy. You can be rude to your waiter, but risk having an unwanted "extra" in your food. You can be rude to a cashier, or a salesperson, or a clerk. But what if the person you are rude to today is the person you want to influence or need something from tomorrow?

I work at a newspaper. Part of my job is to process obits. I deal with all kinds of people, from funeral directors to friends or family submitting obits. (I'd like to say that the people at the funeral home that handled Mom's arrangements have always been courteous, even when, as an obit clerk, I asked them to correct something on someone's obit. Actually, I can't recall any of the Fort Dodge funeral home directors being rude or condescending.)

Some funeral directors, however, treat obit clerks differently than they treat their clients. Or I assume they do, anyway. Because if they treated clients the way they treat obit clerks, they would not have repeat business from families. Some treat the people processing the obits they send as if we are idiots or incompetent or as if we are trying to screw them over.

I assure you, we are only trying to do our job. And our job means following the rules, like getting an approval for every obit, every time, by the deadline (which we tell them every time). It also includes getting a payment, whether it's an approved account (where the paper bills them) or if we have to get credit card information. We don't ask for these things because we enjoy harassing people. We do it because that's our job.

And remember, today, the person you are berating is processing obits. Tomorrow, that person may need the services of a funeral home. It's a safe bet they will remember which funeral home director has been nice, and which one has been rude.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cares of the world

My mom died on March 29, 2013.

Although I had been expecting this since early January, it's still hard. I'm trying to take care of her business (meaning, paying bills, arranging memorial service, etc.).

Every decision has to be vetted with my sister, of course. Which means consultations and delays sometimes. We are pretty much in agreement, which is good.

We chose a local funeral home. They have been very accommodating and understanding, especially since Donna and I are doing these arrangements piecemeal. I had taken Mom there in 2010 to talk about preplanning, but Donna and I changed some of the arrangements.

We had Mom cremated. This summer, we are planning to take her ashes to Wisconsin, where she can be buried with her parents.

We are having a memorial service on April 17 at church. I still have to order the urn. I had to talk to the cemetery association people to find out if they require a burial vault for cremated remains (they don/t), so I would know if I can order a biodegradable urn.

I'm pretty sure Mom would approve. When we did the preplanning appointment, Mom and I discussed green burials, but there aren't any close by. She had also mentioned wanting to be buried with her parents, which would be impossible if we went the traditional casket route.

I also had the weird experience of emailing Mom's obit to the funeral home, then going to work and processing Mom's obit. I modified it in the obit program, then sent it to the funeral home for approval. (I also sent Donna a copy, and she gave me a couple of changes.) I had wanted to stay out of the processing part of the whole thing, but it was inevitable, seeing as I am the only person who does obits on Saturday, and I wanted her obit in Sunday's paper.

So, that stuff is mostly out of the way. I still need to firm up the program for the memorial (waiting to hear back if a certain person can give a talk). I need to write what our bishop called a life sketch (or eulogy, although to me that sounds like heaping loads of praise on a person, and seems a bit fake to me).