Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Click to play Halloween
Tonight we took my sweet honeybee trick-or-treating for the first time. We're not sure if she had more fun getting candy or giving it away!

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: First Halloween

"My Little Pumpkin," (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California). Digital Image. Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, October 31, 2006.

"Too Much of a Good Thing," (Lompoc, Santa Barbara Co., California). Digital Image. Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, October 31, 2006.

About Wordless Wednesday.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There's a Reason Why They Call it a Curse

In honor of Halloween, I share with you my family's curse.

Dancer Julianne Hough is the latest casualty on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." Following last Tuesday's live results show, Julianne complained of stomach pains and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Hospital where she was treated and released.

Well, it turns out that Julianne is also the latest casualty of a disease that affects curses over 70 million women worldwide: Endometriosis.

I was diagnosed with "endo" about 25 years ago and have endured numerous surgeries, years of infertility, and bizarre medial treatments (I went through induced menopause twice before the age of 40!). After being told that I would probably never have children, it was quite a surprise when I wound up pregnant at the ripe-old age of 42. Another surgery is most likely in my future... just as soon as I get my medical records together and my family trained to be self-sufficient for a while.

This disease has cursed my maternal line for... well it's impossible to know how long. My mother - after years of being told that her pain couldn't possibly be that bad - was "cured" by a hysterectomy in her 30's, forcing her into early menopause and a lifetime of mood swings and hormone replacement therapy. My grandmother was eventually diagnosed with uterine cancer, but she most likely had Endometriosis. Doctors didn't really know what it was back then.

Beyond my grandmother, it's difficult to know how many of my female ancestors also suffered with this disease. A definitive diagnosis can only be made surgically, and back-in-the-day doctors didn't typically go around poking holes in women when they could much more easily be diagnosed as "crazy," or "it's all in your head."

Though it is not known for certain how or why Endometriosis occurs, one promising theory is that it may be hereditary:

Preliminary study results indicate that patients with relatives who have Endometriosis may be genetically predisposed to developing it themselves. This theory was suggested as early as 1943, with current research underway by OxeGene researchers at the University of Oxford. [1]
Which, of course, shifts my concern to my daughter. It breaks my heart to think of her suffering as her grandmother (my mother) and I - and probably countless other female ancestors - have done.

In an effort to bring attention to this "curse" on women, the Endometriosis Research Center is sponsoring a petition to encourage the U.S. Postal Service to create a stamp "honoring the lives of the millions of American women and girls struggling with this disease and to bring about widespread National awareness which will hopefully lead to better recognition of Endometriosis, more effective treatments, and ultimately – one day – a cure."

I urge you to take just a moment out of your day and add your name to this growing list of supporters. In honor of our female ancestors, let's work together to stamp out this curse so that our descendants - present and future - will no longer have to suffer in silence.

Julianne Hough is scheduled for an appendectomy today to remove her endo-covered appendix, something that I went through myself on my birthday back in 1997. I wish her a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal


[1] OXEGENE is a world-wide research study that aims to find the genes responsible for causing Endometriosis based at the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Oxford.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Are You a Good Ancestor?

A good ancestor keeps certificates including birth and death certificates; records including health, military, naturalization, and school; passports; newspaper and church notices; awards; photos; art and craft work; journals; Bibles; diaries; baby, school and wedding books; heirlooms.

He or she dates correspondence, cares for tombstones, keeps research organized, writes or tapes the family stories, and supports family organizations.

A good ancestor dates everything, is sure that full names are included, records where material may be found and always sees that at least one other copy of important data is somewhere else.

A hundred years from now, will they think YOU were a good ancestor?

I have so many ancestors who just annoy the heck out of me. It's like they were beamed here by aliens, and then simply vanished. So I really do try to be a good ancestor, for my daughter and for her future children.

But sometimes, life gets in the way. Photos are unlabeled, important documents are stacked on my desk awaiting filing. I forget to update my daughter's baby book for months at a time.

It's so hard to keep up with everything. Perhaps I just need to be more organized? Or lower my expectations?

What's your secret? Are YOU a good ancestor? If so, how do you do it?


"Are You a Good Ancestor?" found at
Genealogy Humor

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Bad Luck of the Irish

A broken mirror will bring you 7 years of bad luck.

One year at summer camp, when I was about 15, I dropped the same mirror 7 times within a week. Lucky me: I'll be working off the bad luck until about 2027. This does not include all the other mirrors I've broken since then, so it's quite possible that I will have bad luck for the rest of my natural life... and then some.

That is... if I actually believed in superstitions. Which I don't.

At least, I think I don't.

My mother's Irish family was very superstitious. Or as I saw it when I was young, very "rules-oriented." By that I mean that there seemed to always be some sort of rule about the oddest things.

There were, of course, the old standards:

  • "Never walk under a ladder."

  • "Don't open an umbrella in the house."

  • "If your ears are hot, it means someone is talking about you."

  • "A four-leafed shamrock (or clover) is good luck."

  • "Three butterflies together mean good luck."

  • "A cricket in the house brings good luck." (and a lot of noise)

  • "Don't step on a crack or you'll break your mother's back."

  • "If you drop a fork, it means someone is coming to visit."

  • "Death come in threes."

  • "A cat can suck the breath out of a baby."

  • "A bird in the house is a sign that death is coming."

  • "If a black cat crosses your path, you'll have bad luck."

  • "The number 13 is bad luck."
Then there were the religious superstitions:

  • "If you spill salt, you will have bad luck unless you throw some over your left shoulder into the face of the devil who is waiting there." (ultra-creepy, when you think about it)

  • "If you sneeze, someone must say 'God bless you,' to drive away the devil."
And others that were just plain odd:

  • "Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you'll have good luck." - The caveat: this rule is only valid if the penny is lying head's up. The good luck is negated if the penny's head is facing down. When I think of the fortune in pennies that I've passed up during my lifetime, just because their head's were down...

  • "Knock on wood" - If something good happens, and you want that goodness to continue, you'd better knock on a wooden object as quickly as possible or face the consequences. Heaven help you if you knock on some other substance, such as metal or a wood veneer. I once jokingly said, "Knock on plastic," and knocked on a plastic table. I thought my mother would faint.

  • "If your palm itches, it means you'll be coming into money" - I have had many itchy palms, but I'm still waiting for the money.

  • "A horseshoe hung above a doorway is good luck" - this is only valid if the horseshoe is turned upward, or the luck will run out. I discovered this when my grandmother screamed upon seeing the horseshoe she had given me hung the wrong way. I promptly took it down and never re-hung it.

  • "Pulling out a gray hair means 10 more will grow back in its place" - while not exactly a superstition, it is scary, nonetheless.
I really don't think my mother believed many of these "rules," but was instead so used to hearing them while she was growing up that she couldn't help but say them.

As for me, I don't actually believe that having a cricket in the house is good luck, and I'll do everything in my power to shoo it away. I don't like black cats, but I won't go out of my way to avoid them. I've walked under ladders, opened umbrellas in the house, and stepped on cracks, and all has been well.

I do have a pot of shamrocks that I keep because they were my grandmother's. I do say, "God bless you" when someone sneezes. And I tend not to pick up pennies that are "head's down." But these are mainly just habits, not things in which I truly believe.

Although I'm not so sure about the gray hair thing. I'm pretty sure that one is true.


Written for the 9th Edition, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture: Irish Superstitions.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Feeding the Sheep at Avila Barn


My daughter had such a wonderful time feeding the animals at Avila Barn on Tuesday that I wanted to capture some of that joy on video. I never knew that feeding sheep was so much fun until I watched her!


"The Joy of Feeding Sheep!" (Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo Co., California). Digital video recording. Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, October 21, 2008.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Pumpkin Picking at Avila Valley Barn

"Girl With Pumpkins," (Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo Co., California). Digital Image. Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, October 21, 2008.

"Decisions," (Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo Co., California). Digital Image. Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, October 21, 2008.

"I'll Take This One," (Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo Co., California). Digital Image. Photographed by Elizabeth O'Neal, October 21, 2008.

About Wordless Wednesday.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Friday, October 17, 2008

IT Lives: Land of the Living Memes

It's been a rough few weeks for me. It all started about 3 weeks ago with the flu; I ran a low-grade fever for over a week before I finally got a clue that I might actually be sick. A week's worth of antibiotics finally knocked out the sinus infection that had developed - blech - and I've been playing "catch-up" ever since.

So that's where I've been and why I haven't been blogging. Like I said, it's been a rough few weeks.

Much to my surprise, I've been tagged 4 times (that I know of) for the latest meme that's going around. Many thanks to Thomas of Destination: Austin Family, William at The Sock in the Dryer (love that blog name!), Kathryn Lake Hogan at LOOKING4ANCESTORS, and Taylorstales Genealogy for thinking of me! It's wonderful to know that friends are out there who actually notice if I drop off the radar for a while. MWAH!

So here goes with the MEME:

10 Years Ago, I Was...

1. Going through a divorce
2. Selling subprime mortgages (!!)
3. A new regent for my DAR chapter
4. Two dress sizes smaller (pre-baby)
5. Helping my mother through her first back surgery

7 Things on Today's To-Do List:

1. Call the NSDAR genealogy department to find out what we can do to get a prospective member's application approved (done)
2. Plan for tomorrow's C.A.R. meeting (in progress)
3. Prepare for a talk on C.A.R. to an SAR group (in progress)
4. Finish a newsletter I've been working on for way too long (not done)
5. Find out where the Veteran's Day ceremony will be held and who is in charge (oops, forgot)
6. Interview the MOM of the Month for another newsletter (done)
7. Play with my daughter (always in progress)

5 Snacks I Enjoy:

1. Pirate's Cannon Balls
2. Diet Cherry Coke
3. Mint/Chocolate Chip ice cream
4. Starbuck's Peppermint Mocha
5. Little chocolate donuts

5 Places I Have Lived:

1. Lake Forest (formerly known as El Toro), CA
2. Irvine, CA
3. Balboa Island, CA
4. San Diego, CA
5. Palmdale, CA

5 Jobs I Have Had:

1. Administrative Assistant
2. Theater Manager
3. Caterer/Event Planner
4. Mortgage Banking Sales
5. 1st Grade Teacher

So now... is there anybody left who has not been tagged yet? If you have, then you're IT again, sorry:

Rob MacDougall of Old is the New New (I like robots, too)
Ken Spangler of Beyond Fiction
Virginia Travis of Valeehill Genealogy Blog
Robert Ragan of Treasure Maps Genealogy
Colleen Johnson of CMJ Office Blog

And now... back to my unfinished to-do list!

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

It's hard to believe, but one year ago today I started writing this little blog.

I really had no plan for what I would say... which was pretty obvious, based on my first post.

But over the past year, Little Bytes of Life has evolved into a "genea-mommy blog" (thanks to Jennifer for the label!): part genealogy, and part stories and pictures of my kid.

It's been a terrific experience. I've met some wonderful people, focused my research, learned a lot about myself and my family, and made some amazing discoveries that I wouldn't otherwise have made.

I can't wait to see what the next year will bring!

So today, as my blogiversary gift to you, I am debuting my new site design for Little Bytes of Life. I'm still working out the bugs, but I hope you like it anyway.

Thanks to YOU, my readers, for sticking around for the past year! You rock!

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Central Coast Lineage Groups Calendar: October 2008

Friday, October 3
United Daughters of the Confederacy - Arlington Chapter
San Luis Obispo
11:00 AM

Friday, October 10
Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Laura Belle Stoddard Tent 22
Santa Barbara

Saturday, October 11
Captain Henry Sweetser Chapter DAR
Santa Maria
10:00 AM - Noon
Speaker - Alicia Valdiviezo, Citizenship Program Coordinator, Allan Hancock College

Thursday, October 16
El Paso de Robles Chapter DAR
Paso Robles

Saturday, October 18
Rancho Purisima Chapter DAR
10:00 AM
"Revolutionary Ballads"

Saturday, October 18
Central Coast Chapter SAR
San Luis Obispo
12:00 Noon

Saturday, October 18
Santa Barbara Chapter SAR
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Wednesday, October 22
La Cuesta Chapter DAR
San Luis Obispo

Thursday, October 23
Mitz-Kahn-a-Khan Chapter DAR
11:00 AM
Scott Beat - "Navy Secret Agent Mission's Speech"

Thursday, October 23
Mission Canyon Chapter DAR
Santa Barbara
12:00 Noon
Thomas E. Myall - "Mission Canyon Chapter, DAR Historical Plaques"

DAR = Daughters of the American Revolution
SAR = Sons of the American Revolution

If you would like to have your group's information included in this calendar, please contact me. Thanks!

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

Central Coast Genealogy Calendar: October 2008

Thursday, October 2
Monterey County Genealogical Society
7:00 PM
Dr. Rob Chapman - "Death Records and Modern Insights"

Saturday, October 4
San Luis Obispo Genealogical Society
12:30 - 1:00 PM
Cafi Cohen & Cheryl Storton - "What We Learned at the National Archives"
1:00 PM - Business Meeting
1:45 - 3:00 PM
"Genealogical Projects Display and Presentations" by SLOCGS Members

Tuesday, October 7
Conejo Valley Genealogical Society
7:00 - 9:00 PM
Computer Interest Group Meeting
"Are You Googling It? A Look at Some Other Google Features"

Friday, October 10
San Luis Obispo Genealogical Society
10:30 AM - Noon
"Finding Your Ancestors on the Internet"

Saturday, October 11
2008 Central Coast Genealogy Conference
Sponsored by the
Monterey County Genealogical Society
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Keynote Speaker - Geoff Rasmussen

Saturday, October 11
Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society
3:00 - 6:00 PM
"Heritage Potluck & Barn-Raising"

Saturday & Sunday, October 11-12
Seaside Scottish Highland Games
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Genealogist Beth Gay will be on hand to talk about Scottish heritage

Friday, October 17
San Luis Obispo Genealogical Society
1:00 - 2:30 PM
"Beyond Ancestry: Exploring Genealogy Bank, New England Ancestors, the National Archives, World Vital Records, and Footnote Online"

Saturday, October 18
Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society
10:30 AM
Program TBA

Saturday, October 18
Ventura County Genealogical Society
8:00 AM - 3:30 PM
30th Annual Seminar
Featured Presenter - Henry Z. "Hank" Jones

Tuesday, October 21
Conejo Valley Genealogical Society
5:30 - 6:30 PM - Genealogy Tools
6:45 - 8:45 PM - General Meeting
Ed Mann - "The Blue and The Gray - Richmond Howitzers"

Please send me an email if you would like to have your event included in this monthly calendar.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal