Year Five: Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Five years ago today, I published my first blog post. It was, shall we say, NOT my best work.

As I’ve said many times before, I started this blog with the assumption that I would be a “mommy-blogger.” After all, everyone who was anyone was a mommy-blogger back in the day. And I was a mommy… with a blog… so… there you go.

I now, however, consider myself to be a geneamommyblogger.

I’d been reading blogs for a year or so before I decided to give it whirl myself. And back in the day, there were only a handful of people blogging about genealogy. Somehow, I stumbled across Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings one day, and he had links to a few others who were blogging about genealogy.

So I stopped reading mommy blogs – for the most part – and started searching out genealogy blogs. And I started blogging about genealogy, too.

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It’s hard to believe how much life has changed in five years.

My daughter looked like this when I started blogging. She is now 6 years old. I keep telling her she’ll always be my baby no matter how old she gets, which is what my mother used to say to me. She just rolls her eyes and says, “I’m NOT a baby!” I probably did the same when I was her age.

Five years ago, I looked like this (and yes, I’d had a little wine). I now look 5 years more exhausted, so we don’t need to go there.

My husband and I have now been married more than twice as long as we were in 2007. He still hates it when I talk about him on my blog. I try not to, but sometimes I can’t help myself. In the past year, he has ventured into The Twitter, but I doubt he’ll ever get into blogging.

In 2007, I was recovering from a fall down the stairs, which included surgery, a plate and 8 screws, a cast, a wheelchair, lots of meds, and 4 months of physical therapy.

In 2009, I recovered from herniated discs in my lower back and neck. This included x-rays, two MRIs, a CT scan with a myelogram, lots of meds, and another 5 months of physical therapy. I thought the pain in my right arm would kill me. Obviously, it didn’t.

In 2011… no major physical traumas, thank goodness! I still battle the disc pain, and I’m still too chicken to have the plate in my ankle removed. But I’m not in a wheelchair, cast, or crutches, I’m off the meds, I can type again, and I haven’t seen a physical therapist in 2 years (no offense to physical therapists).

2012 has brought some major life changes for me – mostly all good. I have “retired” from several projects so I can spend more time researching and writing, but as usual, I wound up taking on a few more. My daughter is in 1st grade now, still into everything, and always keeping me on my toes. We continue to homeschool part-time, a decision I question on an almost daily basis (!).

Things continue to change. And more ancestors have been found.

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I’m so thankful that I’ve had this blog. It’s given me a place to sharea place to learna place to cry, a place to laugh, and a place to remember.

And I’m thankful to you for coming along for the ride. Knowing and sharing with you has made this journey so much more special.

It has truly been an amazing five years!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O’Neal

Year Four: Happy Blogaversary to Me!

Four years ago today, I published my first blog post. It was, shall we say, NOT my best work.

I started this blog with the assumption that I would be a “mommy-blogger.” After all, everyone who was anyone was a mommy-blogger back in the day. And I was a mommy… with a blog… so… there you go.

I now, however, consider myself to be a geneamommyblogger.

I’d been reading blogs for a year or so before I decided to give it whirl myself. And back in the day, there were only a handful of people blogging about genealogy. Somehow, I stumbled across Randy Seaver’s Genea-Musings one day, and he had links to a few others who were blogging about genealogy.

I stopped reading mommy blogs – for the most part – and started reading genealogy blogs.

I’d found my people.

*   *   *

It’s hard to believe how much life has changed in four short years.

My daughter looked like this when I started blogging. She now looks like this.

I looked like this (and yes, I’d had a little wine). I now look 4 years more tired, so we don’t need to go there.

My husband and I have now been married twice as long as we were in 2007. He still hates it when I talk about him on my blog. I try not to, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

In 2007, I was recovering from a fall down the stairs, which included surgery, a plate and 8 screws, a cast, a wheelchair, lots of meds, and 4 months of physical therapy.

In 2009, I recovered from herniated discs in my lower back and neck. This included x-rays, two MRIs, a CT scan with a myelogram, lots of meds, and another 5 months of physical therapy. I thought the pain in my right arm would kill me. 

In 2011… no major physical traumas, thank goodness! I still battle the disc pain, and I’m still too chicken to have the plate in my ankle removed. But I’m not in a wheelchair, cast, or crutches, I’m off the meds, I can type again, and I haven’t seen a physical therapist in 2 years (no offense to physical therapists).

Things continue to change. And overall, life is good.

*   *   *

I’m so thankful that I’ve had this blog. It’s given me a place to sharea place to learna place to cry, a place to laugh, and a place to remember.

And I’m thankful to you for coming along for the ride. Knowing and sharing with you has made this journey so much more special.

It has truly been an amazing four years!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O’Neal

Best Bytes for the Week of December 17, 2010

Big news this week seems to be the announcement of the next season’s line-up of celebrities on NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are.” While I can’t say that I’m super-excited about watching any of these folks, I’m sure I will watch the show just to hear them talk genealogy. My hope is that they were all selected because they have interesting family history stories.

Also, I’m hoping Steve Buscemi is as much of a character in real life as he is in some of the movies in which he’s performed.

In the News:

Today is the 75th Anniversary of the Plane That Changed Everything

If you’re traveling to a Spanish-speaking destination, or need to translate Spanish-English or English-Spanish documents, you need this iPhone app – Word Lens: Augmented Reality App Translates Street Signs Instantly. I can see lots of uses for this, once they release a few more languages!

A train-wreck in motion – Yahoo Has Hit Rock Bottom And Is In “Absolute Disarray”

Kind of interesting, from a historical perspective – Cultural Evolution Could Be Studied in Google Books Database

Print at home? Print at Costco? – Calculate Whether to Make Prints at Home or Through a Printing Service

If you love maps, check out this post (and the whole site!) – Mapping American Slavery

UPDATE: I forgot to add these yesterday! King Henri IV’s head has been very busy lately: Scientists ID Head of France’s King Henry IV, Suspected Henri IV Head Back With Heirs, and video here.

From the Blogs:

A terrific post about the misrepresentation of African American history – “Old Tom” in Grant County. A Disappointment and an Opportunity from My Ancestor’s Name by Angela Y. Walton-Raji.

Do not operate heavy machinery after drinking this! And Now… for your Holiday Nogging Pleasure: The Eggnog Recipe from The Family Curator (thank goodness Mr. Curator found the omission!)

A very interesting series about how a scientist looks at genealogy – Applying The Scientific Method to Genealogical Research (Part 6) from Steve’s Genealogy Blog by Steve Danko. Start with Part 1 here.

As much as I love technology (and want a Nookcolor for Christmas!), I still worry about this stuff – Books Are Your Friends from Random Notes by Leah Kleylein. Anyone who has tried to open an important, old file on obsolete media will understand.

Maybe this is why I can’t find Louise Rudity/Redsuty/Redsouty/WHATEVER – But I KNOW My Great Grandma’s Name! So Why Am I Stuck? from Olive Tree Genealogy Blog by Lorine Schulze

Because I loved Part 1, and “showing is better than telling” – Interviewing while looking at photo albums (Part 2) by Susan Kitchens of Family Oral History Using Digital Tools.

How genealogy can save the world – Family History–What’s in it for me. from The Chart Chick by Janet Hovorka. Seriously though, Janet is so very awesome, a fact that is not lost on the Utah Genealogical Association.

If you can translate Swedish, Jennie could use your help – see Swedish, Anyone? on They Came To Montana. Too bad Word Lens doesn’t do more than Spanish!

A possible case for The History Detectives? OTIS V. GRAY: A HISTORY MYSTERY from West in New England by Bill West.

Because I love a good scoundrel ancestor story – The Brooklyn Midnight Assassin from The Virtual Dime Museum by Lidian.

The Last Byte

More big news this week was the announcement of nominees for Family Tree Magazine’s 2011 40 Best Genealogy Blogs. While I have mixed feelings about this whole thing, I do want to thank (again) whoever took the time to nominate Little Bytes of Life for this honor. I’m happy that you read this blog, and I’m happy that I’m not always talking to myself… like I usually am at home.

I started this blog because I was a lonely, isolated, stay-at-home mom, and I needed to talk grown-up talk with somebody, anybody, even if nobody out there was listening. I assumed in the beginning that I would be a “mommy-blogger.” Sitting in my pajamas, I was just going to write about life, dull as it was, and hope to be struck by inspiration. Frankly, I never intended for this to turn into a genealogy blog (hence the odd title), mainly because when I started blogging, I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a genealogy blog.

What I found out later was that there was this amazing group of renegades people out there who shared my passion for genealogy, and were already blogging about it and sharing their knowledge. I accidentally stumbled across this group one day when I Googled my way onto Bill West’s blog, West in New England.

I’d found my genea-soulmates!

Much has changed in the genealogy blogging community in the past 3 years. It’s taken seriously now, and is no longer a “frontier,” trail-blazed by renegade genealogists using this strange thing called a BLOG. I mean, what sane person puts personal stuff like genealogy out on the internet like that? It’s just UNHEARD OF (or so I was told)!

I kind of miss the frontier days… but alas, that’s a post for another day.

What hasn’t changed is the people. Genealogy bloggers are still the most caring, helpful people you’d want to meet anywhere… not just on the WWW. And they’re a lot of fun in person, too!

And I’m still blogging in my pajamas, wiping noses and bottoms in between posts.

So, that being said… if you like this blog, I hope you will consider giving it a vote (or two!). The fact that you even took the time to read this post is much-appreciated!

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Please note that “Best Bytes for the Week” will be on hiatus for the next 2 weeks in observation of Christmas and New Year’s.

To subscribe to my Google Reader shared items (where there are many more cool things to read), please visit my Google Profile. Be sure to check out the weekly picks of Randy Seaver, Diane Haddad, Megan Smolenyak, Susan Petersen, Greta Koehl, Donna Pointkouski, and the Follow Friday posts listed on Geneabloggers. Happy reading!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O’Neal

A Genealogical Joiner

I’m a joiner.

I like to be part of a group, especially a group that is working toward a common goal.

When you think about it, genealogy is such a solitary activity. We spend so much time alone: in front of a computer; in libraries, courthouses, and Family History Centers; writing and researching.

Our families sometimes see us as the crazy/nosey/annoying one, and hide or run the other way when they see us coming (especially when we’ve got netbooks and personal recorders in our hands).

Finding a safe place for us to “be ourselves” as genealogists, and to fellowship with others who share our passion is so important… not just to increase our knowledge, but to preserve our sanity.

Genealogical societies, both local and remote, are the perfect place to fill these needs. However, for me, at least, it’s been difficult to find everything I’m looking for all in one place.

So, I keep looking.

Like many genealogists, I belong to the National Genealogical Society (NGS). Their web site is great, their publications are great, their conferences are great (or so I’ve heard). But mainly I joined to get a discount on American Genealogy: A Home-Study Course. And also, hopefully, on the next NGS Conference… provided I can get a hall-pass to go. So being a member of this group has really been a “remote” experience for me. It helps with the knowledge, but not so much with the fellowship.

For the past three years I’ve also been a member of the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS). They have an awesome library –which actually contains books that are relevant to my research – some terrific member benefits (like a NewspaperArchive subscription), an informative web site and publications, and they put on one rockin’ conference each year. Seriously, if you haven’t been to the SCGS Jamboree, you haven’t lived (read about last year’s exploits here). And SCGS members are darn nice people, too.

SCGS membership has filled both my fellowship and knowledge needs. Unfortunately, their headquarters are far enough away from me to make attendance at meetings – and visits to the library – impossible.

So finding a local group would really help to fill that void.

In May of 2008, I related my woeful tale about how I tried to join our hometown genealogical society, only to find that it had died such a quiet death that even the newspaper thought it was still alive.

I was disappointed, but determined to find another group.

A couple of former defunct-local-society members directed me to check out the larger “county” groups: the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society (SBCGS) and the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society (SLOCGS). Not knowing anything about either group – with the exception of their meeting dates – it was really a toss-up for me. Travel to meetings for each group would be about an hour, each way. I weighed the pros and cons of both groups (as I saw them), and I finally decided to attend a meeting of the SBCGS. I joined that same day.

(I have not yet visited the SLOCGS, but I still have every intention of doing so… someday… in my free time.)

The SBCGS is an outstanding group. I haven’t been able to attend many meetings yet, (unfortunately (there are only so many weekends in a month), but so far, the programs have been wonderful, and the people are friendly and helpful. I hope to be more involved in the group in the future.

However, I’m still on a quest to either find, or organize, an even more local-to-me genealogical society. I recently – with the help of all-knowing GenSoc Guru Kathryn Doyle – stumbled upon the Santa Maria Valley Genealogical Society, a fairly small group that meets monthly in Santa Maria on a weekday afternoon. I met up with a few members one afternoon at the local library, and they were extremely welcoming, even with my 3 year-old daughter bouncing off the library walls. I really hope to visit one of their meetings in the not-too-distant future… provided that I can find a babysitter.

The group does have what looks like an interesting collection of genealogical books at the Santa Maria Public Library, but with said toddler bouncing off the walls (literally – I’m not joking), I didn’t have much of a chance to check it out. I’m just lucky they didn’t ask us to leave.

So, why do I find it important to find a local group? Well, as I’ve said, that face-to-face interaction is a big boost to genealogical motivation (and depression). Even if the meeting topics aren’t always relevant to my particular area of research, there’s still so much value in attending the meetings, networking with others, and discovering how they solved similar research dilemmas.

Plus, there’s the cookies.

In the meantime, my current goal is to join a few genealogical/historical societies in the areas in which I’m researching: namely in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska, and Iowa. I’m hoping that the brick-wall-breaker information I need is hidden away in back issues of their periodicals. And if I’m really lucky maybe someone will still be alive who knew my family.

You just never know what you’ll find when you’re a joiner.

Written for the 82nd Edition, Carnival of Genealogy: “Breaking Into Society.”

Copyright © by Elizabeth O’Neal

Year Two: It’s My 2nd Blogiversary!

Two years ago today, I published my first article in this blog. As you might guess from that stinker, I had no real idea what direction the blog would take. I was just going to type, and hope to be struck with inspiration. After all, no one was going to read my blog, anyway.

In the beginning, I think I assumed that I would be a “mommy-blogger.” I was (and still am, to some extent) an isolated, stay-at-home mom. I was looking for a way to express myself and communicate with others who shared my interests. You moms out there know what I mean: sometimes we just need to talk with others without using the words “num num” and “poopy” for an entire conversation.

But despite the fact that I love my kid, and I love talking about and showing off my kid, I wasn’t sure that all I wanted to write about was my kid. Blogging wasn’t going to be much of a “break” for me if I was still being a mommy while I was doing it. Besides, I still had other interests, didn’t I? Like, say… genealogy. And wine (although not necessarily together).

What I didn’t know at that time was that there was this amazing group of people out there who shared my passion (read: obsession) for genealogy, who were already blogging about it and sharing their knowledge. I accidentally stumbled across this group one day when I Googled my way onto Bill West’s blog, West in New England. Bill had just posted “49 GENEALOGY USES FOR A FLUTAPHONE ON PARADE!” and had issued a challenge to his fellow genealogy bloggers to design a virtual float for the “Genealogist’s Parade.”

I’d had a frustrating few days (years) of researching my Delaneys, so I decided that – what the heck – I could design a float for Bill’s parade… even though I was a newbie blogger and had never met (virtually, or otherwise) any of the genealogy bloggers out there.

Kind of brave of me, when I think of it now.

My float was The Mother Ship. Yep, I’m pretty sure my people really were beamed here by aliens and then mysteriously removed, leaving absolutely no trace.

Be honest: you’ve thought the same thing about your own family at one time or another, right?

So I left a comment on Bill’s blog pointing him to my article. Sure, he’d probably think I was nuts, but since nobody was actually going to read my blog, I didn’t care.

Before I knew it, people were leaving comments on my post – which meant they were actually READING it – wow! They were supportive and encouraging. In particular, an amazing, wonderful blogger named Apple had taken the time to look up – and find! – information that I had overlooked dozens of times in Ancestry.com.

I was stunned. And hooked.

I’d found my genea-soulmates.

***

Much has changed in the past two years. Genealogy bloggers have adopted the moniker “geneabloggers,” and the online community has virtually exploded. Genealogists – from newbies to seasoned researchers – are creating new blogs every day, as is evidenced by the 719 members (!) of the Geneabloggers group on Facebook.

“Geneablogging” is being taken seriously at conferences, with how-to workshops and classes being offered at local and national events.

But what hasn’t changed is the people. They’re still the most wonderful, caring, helpful folks you could hope to find anywhere… not just on the world wide web. And they’re, FUN (especially in person)!

So my point – and I do have one – is this: if you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, and haven’t had the courage to do it yet, be brave. Do it! You’ll meet some incredible people, and you’ll be amazed at the rewards. I know I was.

Who knows: you might even meet a new cousin!

Copyright © by Elizabeth O’Neal