Saturday, December 27, 2008

My New Years Resolutions

During 2008, I have made it a big point to make my genealogy the best it can be. During this, I have completely re-started my tree, starting with myself and truly working my way backwards. I have made sure that everything is properly sourced and that I am not overlooking any records. I want my genealogy to be worth something to someone someday and that won't happen if everything isn't properly sourced and clearly written out.

While I haven't spent as much time on my genealogy as I would have liked because of school obligations, the big move I made in October, and chaos on the home front, I have done pretty well. So as I reflect as to what I want to do with the new year concerning my genealogy and blogging, I've come up with some pretty neat resolutions:

1.) Continue to have everything sourced!! This may seem like a no-brainer, but I certainly made the mistake of not doing this when I first started my genealogy and I am paying an extremely heavy price as I try to go through each person.

2.) On my desk I have a clipboard, which has multiple sheets of paper on it. On these sheets of paper is random little to-do items, websites I want to check out, and articles I want to read. I want to finally get rid of the stuff on this list so that I can have a clean slate.

3.) Since I aspire to become a future teacher, there is no doubt that I value and love education. So this year, I hope to educate myself further in genealogy and then share that knowledge with you. I want to write more how-to articles and give you guys tips. I hope that what I learn will be a bit out of the ordinary - something that gives me an edge in the genealogy world. I'm not quite sure what I will learn about genealogy that will be so different and unique - maybe a weird organizing tip or a cool way to look through records... well, we'll find out soon enough.

4.) I want my blog to have a good appearance - so I will definitely be learning some more about blogging and getting traffic here.

5.) I want my Graveyard Rabbit Blog to be the best it can be!! I want to write more content and really get it off the ground.

So there you go - my genealogy and blogging New Years Reslutions! I would love to hear about some of yours.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Recieved the Proximidade Award

I am so honored and grateful to Cindy over at Everythings Relative for giving me the Proximidade award!!

She was so sweet to nominate this blog.  I say a million "Thank Yous".  Here is what the Proximidade award is all about:

These blogs invest and believe in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers, who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

I have nominated four (I know I am supposed to do 8, but I am short on time today) amazing blogs which I really think you'll enjoy:
1.) The First Blog is Sheri Fenley at The Educated Genealogist
2.) The Second Blog is Looking4Ancestors
3.) The Third Blog is Rainy Day Genealogy Readings
4.) The Fourth Blog is I Find Dead People (Honestly, what an awesome blog name!)

De-Cluttering Your Genealogy Challenge Part 4

Hello challengers!  I hope you all have been working hard at de-cluttering your genealogy (or atleast attempting to de-clutter your genealogy - during this time of year everyone gets an A+ for effort!)

So, for part 4 of our challenge I have a task that can seem very daunting...making sure that all of your documents in your paper files match everything in your computer program.  How daunting this task seems will vary, based on how big your family tree is.

I have a very easy way to go through and make sure everything matches or doesn't match.  This will take a little bit of time, but I've cut that time down a bit with this system that I have come up with:

First, grab a notebook (or a bunch of pieces of lined paper), and a pen.  Next, take one surname folder out of your paper files.  Open up your computer genealogy program and go to the first person/couple/family (depends on what file system you use) that is in your surname file.  Finally, go through each piece of paper and compare it to what is in your computer program.  Anything that is in the file system but not in the computer program, or vice versa, write it down.  Make sure that you include the name of the person and the document that needs to be entered.

And once you've done one folder, move on to the next one.  The wonderful thing about doing this is that you can do it at all hours of the day or night (which is what I am currently doing).  Trust me - when you are done with this, you'll feel AMAZING.  Everything will match up.  No more thinking that you've entered that record, knowing in the back of your mind that you've seen that somewhere.  You'll now have it all at your fingertips, ready for research!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Miss Universe Party 2008 - The Results!

So, now that all of you know about my family's tradition of the Ms. Universe Party, I figured I would share the happenings of what happened this year.

Before I report the results, I must first explain a thing or two: My family is the type of family where we absorb people.  Once you come to a party like this - you are forever in the family.  We call these people "honorary Doerflingers" because they have stuck by our family through all of the ups and downs, twists and turns, fights, tears, and chaos.  We will never describe them as "extended family" because they feel closer than that.  We figure that if you can put up with us, then you choose to put up with us year after year, then you have earned the title of "Doerflinger".  (When I give everyone the title of "aunt" or "cousin", you are probably going to think I have a billion cousins and aunts!).

So, the day started off a bit stressful, since my parents were late getting ready for the party.  We had all agreed to leaving at noon, with everyone ready at 11:30 so that if something went wrong, we had time to deal with it.  I had been ready for two hours and I was starving.  We had agreed to stop at In N Out before the party (stopping to eat somewhere before going over to the party since the food is not so tasty is a tradition that is nearly as old as this party).  We didn't eat until around 1:30 and we didn't leave until 2, which was the time we were supposed to be there.

So we finally get to the party and the conversation was wonderful.  It was so good to see these people again, especially since there are some of them that I only see once or twice a year.  I was sad that certain people weren't at the party.  I really enjoyed catching up with people and hearing all about what they are doing (many of them are retired and only live in California for six months out of the year).  Plus, my boyfriend was a huge hit at the party - everyone loved him.

The theme for this year was "Car Parts".  I was Ms. Flat Tire.  My mom was Ms. Rear Bumper and my dad was Ms. Dip Stick.

This year, my Uncle Larry tried a new thing: a trivia game with 20 questions.  While I didn't really know much since a lot of the questions were from movies from the 50s-70s, I got one question right: "What does the little drummer boy give to baby Jesus"?  "A SONG!" I screamed and sure enough I got it right.

We then did the gag gift game which was pretty funny.  I got a men's grooming kit, which went straight to my dad.  My mom got this American Indian doll-like thing that is supposed to sit on your dashboard in your car.  My boyfriend got some of the ugliest frames I have ever seen.  My dad, however, was the one that got one of the most hilarious gifts: A matching bra and underwear set!!!  (Some of the gifts get to be a bit raunchy since everyone in the family is an adult, and so that is the only raunchy gift I will discuss).  One of the hit gifts were the "Depression Era Dinner" which included spam, pork and beans, a "poor man's table cloth" which was really a newspaper, and sardines.  Another great hot gift was the singing hippo dressed in a tutu that sang "I'm coming out!" (which is hilarious for our family since we have a lot of people in our family who are gay).  

After dinner, we began the Ms. Universe Pageant.  As tradition, the youngest draws out the first name (which was me).  Thankfully, I didn't pull my boyfriend's name out.  In fact, he made it all the way to just before the semi finalists (the last 10).  No one in my family was hoping for me to win(I've already won 3 times and there are people there who have never won once!), except for my dad and boyfriend because I told them that I would give them a cut of the money winnings.  One by one, my parents got voted out and I was left.  I kept hoping that I would win, and sure enough - I made it to the top 5.  I was up there with people who had never won before and I was hoping that I would make it (and I could sure use that money right now!).  But I was I became 4th runner up.  I got close!!

So that is what happened at Miss Universe 2008!!

Mozy - A Backup Service Reviewed

I was inspired today after I read Dick Eastman's blog article (The link for that article is at the bottom of this blog entry).  I realized that I really needed to look into other ways to back up my genealogy.  So, I figured I would try the website that he recommends: Mozy

You all know that I am a huge fan of backing up your genealogy files - and luckily, I've been able to keep it all to a 2GB thumb drive (I use 2 different thumb drives - one for my genealogy and pictures and one for all of my school stuff).  

So I headed on over to to see what they have to offer.  Since I a poor college student, I immediately began searching for a free offer.  Luckily, they have a free service where you can upload 2GB of information.  This is what I am using and it compliments my 2GB thumb drive system perfectly.

I was surprised to read that for only $4.95 a month you could get unlimited storage.  If you think about it - this is SUPER CHEAP!  In a year that is about $60.  With that $60 you can save yourself a ton of headaches, crying spurts, and hair appointments to cover that new bald spot that you gained from pulled your hair out.  You'll have piece of mind knowing that if tomorrow your computer decides to crash or if a virus gets your computer - all of your important files are safe and sound.  You'll be able to restore everything.

So, the way Mozy works is that you download the program onto your computer.  Then, you just tell it what files you want it to backup, when you want it to backup - and your done.  It is pretty easy to use and very user friendly.  I've never used this service before today, and I figured it out rather easily.

However, (and this is such a small "however"), it will only backup files that are on "fixed" drives. For those of you who don't know what fixed drives are, they are drives that can't be disconnected from your computer (So, your thumb drive is not a fixed drive but your C drive is). This was a very small inconvenience that took only seconds of my time to fix: I simply copied the folders that I wanted onto my desktop - and now I can easily back up all my genealogy files!

Link to Dick Eastman's "Backups: A Testimonial" blog entry:

Miriam made a great comment on this blog today.  She said that Carbonite charges only $50 a year.  Plus, Mozy apparently charges you to send a DVD with all of your data on it, should your comptuer ever crash.  Great point Miriam, and thanks for pointing that out!  And as for your question Miriam, I don't believe that Mozy will backup external hard drives.  But please, don't take my word on it since I am just now trying Mozy out.  It might be best to check some of the review sites like CNET to get a better answer.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Taking Care of Baby

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I babysat his three-month old cousin, Gabriel.  I've never babysat someone so young before, so I have to admit that certain things were a bit difficult.  But, everyone survived and I didn't even put the diaper on backwards!

But I couldn't help but think about my grandmother - how she had her first baby when she was 19.  It sort of gives me the chills to think that if I was like my grandmother, I would be married to a man who is 8 years older than me and have my first baby on the way.

And I can't imagine taking care of baby without some of the amazing technological advances for taking care of baby that we have today.  For example, at one point, Gabriel decided to cry and scream for some unknown reason.  I was in the middle of changing his shirt (since he spit up all over it) and he just starts screaming.  I have one of his arms in the shirt and I begin to panic as his little face turns red.  I immediately picked him right up and started walking around the room, bouncing him as I went and giving "WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?" looks to my boyfriend.  Finally, I thought to put him into his massaging bouncy swing.  I put him in as he is still screaming and I was trying to get him strapped in and turn the thing on.  I got in on and within seconds he begins to calm right down.

I had a tsunami size wave of relief run over me.  I had no idea what set him off to start crying like that, but I was so relieved to get him to stop.  I knew that I owed that swing BIG TIME.

And honestly - when it came time to leave, I was so relieved that I got to go home.  I was exhausted and I had only watched him for two hours or so.  It certainly re-affirmed what I had already known: I can definitely wait a few years for kids.

Yet, my thoughts went back to my grandmother.  If I was her, I would be married already and getting ready for the birth of my first child.  Within the decade, I would have a total of three children, two of which would be twins.  By the end of her child bearing days, she would of had a total of five children and adopted her sister's illegitimate daughter.  Honestly, I couldn't imagine living her life.

Experiencing how hard it was to for me to take care of baby Gabriel (and I had that wonderful massaging bouncy chair), I can't imagine what it must've been like without modern advances.  My grandmother didn't have plastic diapers or already moistened wipes at her disposal.  She didn't have that massaging bouncy chair.  She didn't have any of that... 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Ms. Universe Party

Every year in my family, usually on the weekend before Christmas, my family throws the Ms. Universe Party.  For this party, everyone is given a sash with a name on it (names are determined by the theme for the party - I'll go into more detail on this later) and we enjoy good company, exchange gag gifts, and finally prance around the house as contestants are eliminated, one by one, until Ms. Universe is revealed.  Ms. Universe then gets to give his/her speech, wear a crown that has been in our family since the 50s, and recieves some money as a prize.

Alright - let me give you some background information so you can better understand this information.  The Ms. Universe Party was created by my great grandparents in the 1930s as a way to get all the family together and entertain all of the children (which, at the time, there were a TON of kids in my family).  It was meant to be a way for the adults to act silly for the day while entertaining the children on the cheap.  It was entitled the Ms. Universe party because the real Ms. Universe Competition was a very big deal for all the women in my family (which outnumbered the men at the time).

So every year on the weekend before Christmas, everyone in my family congregates to my "aunt" Caroline's house.  (Caroline isn't technically my "aunt" - she was absorbed into my family after my uncle introduced her to us.  She is just such a wonderful person and my family loves to adopt these sort of people into our family).  When you arrive, you must put a dollar into a hat and then recieve a sash.  Each sash has a name on it, and the names have been picked based on a theme.  For example, one year our theme was disasters and people were given names such as "mudslide", "earthquake", and "acid rain".

Once everyone arrives, we begin the fun gag gift game.  When you come to this party, you must bring a gag gift.  This gift can be as cheap and hideous or as expensive as you like.  The gift must be wrapped.  When the gag gift game begins, all of the gifts go into the middle of the room and everyone sits in a circle.  Then, everyone draws a number and the person who draws the number one picks any gift they'd like from the middle of the room.  They are then allowed to open the gift.  Then, everyone goes in numerical order to select a gift.  If someone wants to "steal" the gift that you picked, they may do so until the gift has been stolen 3 times, at which point, the gift becomes "frozen".  If a gift is stolen from you then you may pick another gift.

After the gag gift party, the Ms. Universe competition begins.  Everyone gathers into the living room in anticipation.  Everyone's sash name is written on a small peice of paper and placed into a hat.  The youngest (which has been me for many years) gets to select the first name.  Whatever name that is drawn, that person is eliminated from the competition.  Once there are only 15 people remaining in the competition, music is played and everyone parades around the room.  The parade continues when we get to 10 people, 5 people, and the bottom 3.  The bottom 3 give their "speeches" about how they'd like to end world hunger and go on a shopping spree.  The person who wins recieves all of the money that was collected when everyone arrives.  When the winner has been selected, a homemade "crown" is placed on the person's head.

Needless to say, this silly tradition is so much fun.  I've won about 3 times in my lifetime, while my cousin Arianne who is 30, has never won.  My boyfriend had his first experience with the party last year, and unfortunately he was the first one out of the Ms. Universe competition because I accidently picked him.  (He still won't let me live it down)  It is all up to chance on who wins, but everyone wants to so that they can get their hands on that money!

Above is a picture of me when I was about 5 years old and at this party.  As you can tell, I have a sash wrapped around me and I am wearing all of my holiday clo

 Above is a picture of my mom, my cousin Christine, my cousin Kali, and me.

Above is a picture of the entire family during one Ms Universe Party.  The picture might be too small, but I am right in the middle wearing the crown.  This was one of the years that I won the contest.  I certainly got to pick out a lot of candy that year.

Update on Dec 18, 2008:
Randy - I love this tradition.  I knew my boyfriend was a keeper when he went with me last year.  He didn't believe me until he actually saw it - but he rolled with the family and was fitting in very well.  He was so polite, laughing with the family, learning a million embarrassing childhood stories, seeing pictures of me as a kid, and he even faked a good cry when I pulled out his name first!  But this year, he is determined to win and the party will be on Saturday.
Three years ago I took a boyfriend of mine who was HORRIBLE at the party.  I knew that if he couldn't handle my family, then he couldn't handle me - sure enough, we broke it off not long after.
Most of the people in my family use this as a "test" to see if their significant other will be a long term keeper.  This test really does work, and has been proven more times than I can count.  It really does prove if someone loves you for who you are and loves your family (which, I've always considered my family to be part of the package).  

Monday, December 15, 2008

De-Cluttering Your Genealogy Challenge Part 3

Welcome back to part 3 of our De-clutter Your Genealogy Challenge.  I hope you guys have been doing well so far in the challenge.  (If you haven't been doing too well - that's okay too.  Just try to catch up)

So we are going to have two tasks for you to do today:

1.) I want you to join a genealogy society - either online or in person.  By joining a genealogical society, you are surrounding yourself with people who can teach you research techniques, who can relate to your frustration with brick walls, and who can appreciate all the hard work you go through when researching for your ancestors.  There are two different types of genealogy societies: The traditional ones where you go to a specific place and meet with a bunch of people and the new online ones where you meet in a chatroom to talk or in some sort of a "group".  These "groups" can be supported on different websites such as Facebook, Yahoo Groups, or Google Groups.  These online versions are all the rage and are perfect for people who are constantly on the go and busy.

2.) Here is your chance for some catch up: Remember how I told you to pick a paper system to organize your papers and to pick a computer program to organize all of your data?  Well, if you haven't already implemented this system then now is the time to do it.  Having this system in place is very important for a task that you will be given in the next couple of posts.

I hope everyone is getting some progress in.  I know that the holidays are right around the corner and everyone is very busy, but by de-cluttering your genealogy now - you'll have a new year full of peace of mind (at least where your genealogy is concerned).

Friday, December 12, 2008

De-Cluttering Your Genealogy Challenge Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our get organized challenge. I have some more tasks for you - all of which focus on getting your desk/research area nice and ready to do some research in. You can’t do research if you don’t have the proper supplies, and part of being organized is having all the supplies you need at your fingertips.
So here are your tasks:

1.) Make sure that you have all of those office supplies that you need to do your research and make sure that they are stored nearby your desk so you can easily have access to them. Also, make sure you buy one of those cheap desk organizers (either the containers that go on top of your desk to hold pens and such, or the kind that go into your desk to keep everything in a separate compartment). Some of the supplies that I would suggest would be pens, pencils, computer paper and ink, a thumb drive (sometimes called a jump drive), file folders or binders with dividers (depending on which system of organization you use to keep your paper files organized), etc.

2.) Make sure your computer area is comfortable and easy to move around in. That means, make sure that your desk is big enough to fit your computer and still have a little room so that you can write something down if you want. Make sure that your chair is comfy, because nothing will hurt your back if you are sitting in a bad chair for hours on end. Bottom line: Just make sure the area feels comfortable to your tastes.

3.) If you haven’t done this already, figure out a system to organize your papers. This is one thing that I will not be going over in detail, because I’ve done it many, many times before. You can check out my videos on Youtube ( and my other blog entries on it.

4.) If you haven’t done this already, find a computer program that will organize all of your data. The only real requirement on this one is that it can read, import, and export GEDCOM files (GEDCOM is the file type that is used for storing family trees).

5.) For now, put all of your pictures into big manila envelopes. Separate these pictures into categories such as "Mom as a baby", "Trip to Disney World 1996", etc. Label each envelop with the category and put all of these envelopes aside. We will deal with these slowly so that we don’t overwhelm ourselves. Trust me.

Good luck everyone, and I hope you guys are all doing well. Stay tuned because I am planning on making a video to show you my successes!

P.S: I am back to having internet at home on a consistent basis. Feel free to email me ( or comment on these blog entries. I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

De-Cluttering Your Genealogy - Introduction and Part 1

With the new year right around the corner, it is time to think about de-cluttering your life. In particular, I am talking about de-cluttering your family history. And I'm not just talking about that filing cabinet you have full of records - I'm talking everything from your computer genealogy program, that family website, your email inbox full of correspondence, the piles next to your computer, your accounts at genealogy websites, your contact list, etc., etc. Everything needs a good cleaning out once in a while!

By de-cluttering, I mean make your family history organized, efficient, to-do list ready, and presentable. Now, for some of you - this task may be HUGE and seem incredibly daunting. For others of you, this may seem like a good yearly clean-out. Whatever side of the fence you are on, I urge you not to panic, but to take some baby-steps towards achieving beautiful results with your family history.

The way I am going to conduct this de-cluttering task is by presenting smaller tasks. By breaking one big task up into smaller tasks, we will be able to feel some achievement even before we are done.

Now, I know that most of my work won't be completed by the New Year - but, I am going to get a good start. I will have lots of time to work on my genealogy during the rest of December and January and I am definitely going to need it. The point is to get the ball rolling, and if it means having to keep de-cluttering through next year, then so be it. Remember, baby steps is all you have to take.

Task 1
Create Goals: Is there anything that you have noticed that has been bothering you about your family history. Maybe it is that you can never seem to find that website with information about your great-great grandpa or maybe you have lost track of what is sourced and not sourced in your genealogy program, maybe your genealogy program doesn't have information that matches your files - whatever it is, write it down.
Priotize Your Goals: Pick 1-3 goals that you are very much looking forward to getting done. It doesn't matter what it is, just pick it.
Final Note...
I am looking forward to hearing from all of you about your progress or about your disaster of genealogy stuff (Trust me - genealogy disasters when it comes to organization and clutter happen, very often in fact). Let me know if there is any area in particular you would like me to focus on.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dear Genea-Santa

I hope you are doing well. I am writing you my yearly list of genealogy gifts that I would love to have this year.

1.) A cookbook of Grandpa Dugger's delicious meals. He always could make the best spaghetti ever! And I've never tasted pork chops so tender. I would love to be able to recreate these meals.

2.) Benjamin Dugger's Family Bible. I really think it holds some of the vital clues that I am missing.

3.) Great Grandpa Doerflinger's camera and photo development gear. I would love to see that circa 1900 camera and gear.

Thank you Genea-Santa. I'll be leaving the door unlocked on Christmas Eve, since you know I don't have a fireplace.

And as always, there will be cookies waiting for you.