Monday, 29 February 2016

Protect the Rights of Children in Alberta Schools!

Due to some disturbing policy changes in Alberta schools regarding gender self-identification, I have written a letter to the Minister of Education of Alberta, Mr. David Eggen, stating my opinion on the matter.  Many other parents (and their children) across the province have done the same.  (Links are provided below.)  This is the letter I emailed this morning:


Dear Mr. Eggen,

I fear the consequences that will come if the Guidelines for Best Practices: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions is implemented in Alberta schools.  It literally shakes me to the core of my being.

Perhaps you do not realize just how biased and disturbing this proposal is. 

In the acknowledgements, you express appreciation for “everyone who is committed to creating welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environments across Alberta.”  Please accept my plea for safe learning environments everywhere.

I am a caring mother of a 17-month-old daughter.  My husband, a protective father, works with me in parenting our little girl.  No matter what each of us may say, we are still the gender and sex we were born as and ever will be so.  As well, if not for our difference in gender (which is based on sex which is based on anatomy), our daughter would not be a part of this world.

Even before we were married, I decided I wanted to homeschool our children.  My reason was simply that I felt like there was a lot of wasted time in school compared to what could have been accomplished if I was able to learn at my own pace.  I want my children to have the opportunity to excel in whatever area they choose at the rate they are capable of learning – but they will have the choice to learn at home or in a public or private school.

Kristin Olsen School Children Picture
By Kristin Olsen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Another reason my husband and I discussed was regarding what is being taught in the schools about sexual education to the young people around us.  I believe that sex is good and appropriate, but only between a married man and woman.  Any other sexual associations taught otherwise degrade the purpose and sanctity of the family relationship.  Else, what purpose is there to having a family?

Now, if these so-called “Guidelines” are enforced in Alberta schools, there is no way ever that I will let my daughter go to public or private school if we continue to live within the province.  I would not have peace of mind for any child sent off to school.  The “Guidelines” contain loopholes that allow for potential sexual harassment, abuse and/or rape to happen within school limits or on fieldtrips – without informing the parents of the victim or abuser.  Where, then, is the safe haven for any child of any gender-identity within Alberta schools?

The acceptance of either gender to use any gendered bathroom, the elimination of gender-segregated activities, and the opportunity to self-identify as either gender (or none) at any time will not stop bullying of students with different sexual preferences.  These “best practices” only cover up the problem of bullying and avoid dealing with the serious mental, emotional, and sexual consequences of gender confusion in children.

I do hope that, if these “Guidelines” are enforced, those parents and families who choose to homeschool their children or move outside of the province in response to the “new rules” will not be punished in any way – whether financially, emotionally, educationally, etc.

Please do not enforce these “best practices” in Alberta!  I stand with many other caring and loving parents in this.

Sincerely and hopeful of a better world,

Kristina Ogrins


What is your opinion on this issue?  If you are facing this situation, whether in Alberta or elsewhere, what have you or others done about it?

Next week's topic: [Widow or Wife of a Criminal?]

Monday, 22 February 2016

Who in the World is Flora B. Caviness?

Census records are so interesting!  They help to tell the story of a family's journey through life by tracking residence, immigration, and birthplace.  They also hint at the approximate date a family member gets married (and moves away), dies, or becomes widowed.  And sometimes rare valuable information is included that can help solve mysterious family situations!

In the last two weeks I have revisited a problem area in my family tree that I identified several months ago.  While attaching sources to various individuals of my family tree on, I noticed that many children in the Caviness family were missing almost at random from census records.  After some research, I found that it wasn't as random as I thought and I learned many things about this unique family.

On the United States census records of 1900 and 1910 Jesse C. and Sarah Amanda Caviness state that they have 11 children - all of which were living at the time.  But on my FamilySearch tree there were 12 children listed in this family: Walter, Laura, William, Andrew, Ada, David, Flora, Ernest, Crecie, Clyde, Eva, and Hubert.

I made a chart to keep track of each family member as I sifted through census and other records, trying to follow each one from the 1880 census up until the 1940 census or until death.  I needed to make sure I wasn't missing any valuable information that could help me understand what was wrong with this family's size.  Go ahead and follow along as you read!

Caviness Census Tracking Record 1880-1940
Click to view larger size image.

Meet the Caviness Family

Jesse was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, USA in 1858.  His future wife, Sarah Amanda Wrenn, was born in Pulaski County, Virginia, USA in 1860.  By 1870, Jesse's family had traveled approximately 130 miles northwest to Carroll County, Virginia.  By 1876, Jesse had made it another 40 miles north to Pulaski and married Sarah on May 3.

map of Virginia, USA
Map of Virginia, USA
All of their children were either born in Carroll or Pulaski.  The map I include here shows the three main areas that significant family events occurred at.  Some documents have conflicting information as to birthplaces and many details are missing, but it suffices to say that all events occurred in very close proximity and therefore are acceptable.

Walter Andrew (1878) and Laura Blanche (1880) appear with their parents on the 1880 census in Black Lick, Wythe County - not too far from Carroll County where they were born.

United States census, Virginia, 1880
United States census, Virginia, 1880

William Harvey (1881), Andrew Neal (1884), and David Price (1889) were born in Carroll County while Ada Lou (1886) was born in Pulaski County.  All should be included as well on the 1890 census, but those records for Virginia are not currently available (or weren't completed - I don't know).

Ernest Graham (1891), Eva Mae (1898) and Hubert Clarence (1900) were born in Carroll County and Crecie A (1893) and Clyde Stanley (1895) were born in Pulaski County.  All children are included in the 1900 census shortly after Hubert was born (he wasn't even named yet!).

United States census, Virginia, 1900
United States census, Virginia, 1900
(Jesse is listed on the previous page.)

By 1910, Walter, Andrew, and Ada are presumed to be married and living with their new families.  Walter died before the next census was recorded.

United States census, Virginia, 1910
United States census, Virginia, 1910

By 1920, William, David, Crecie, Clyde, and Hubert are also presumed to be married (some found with their families elsewhere for the 1920 census).  Ernest is married too but he and his wife Lillian are living with his parents.  Laura and Eva were single their entire lives but yet Laura is nowhere to be found in 1920 census records (perhaps boarding elsewhere).  And then something else strange... a daughter named Flora B. (born around 1891) is listed with the family.

United States census, Virginia, 1920
United States census, Virginia, 1920

By 1930, Ernest and his wife have moved out and Hubert has moved in as a widower.  A newborn grandson, David, is also listed but I haven't yet figured out who his parents are.  I suspect he belongs to Hubert but I haven't figured out who his first wife was.  I assume that if Hubert is his father, his mother likely died in childbirth.  Also, guess what?  Flora B. disappears as quickly as she appeared.

United States census, Virginia, 1930
United States census, Virginia, 1930

By 1940, Jesse has passed away, leaving Sarah Amanda a widow.  Laura, Eva, and the mystery grandson, David, live with her.  Hubert remarried and is found elsewhere with his new wife and their 6-year-old son, Billy.

United States census, Virginia, 1940
United States census, Virginia, 1940

The Main Issue

"Flora B. Caviness" is listed as a daughter on the 1920 census but is not mentioned anywhere else.

Why?  Who is she if she is not the daughter of Jesse and Amanda?  Where did she come from?  Why is she listed as part of this family?

Flora is about the same age as seventh child Ernest Graham (born in 1891).  Yet, Ernest first appears on the 1900 census, again in 1910, and then in 1920 (still living at home but married this time).  Therefore, she can't be a child born after the 1910 census when there were only 11 children in the family.

I doubt Flora is a biological daughter in this family - but could she maybe be adopted or welcomed in as one of the family?  Could she have been the illegitimate offspring of another family member kept secret for many years?

Of course, if a child dies or gets married it is unlikely to find them listed in the same household as the parents in later census records.  But what other reasons might a child not be listed?

I've learned from experience with doing family history work and indexing handwritten records that there are times when names aren't recorded correctly.  So "Caviness" sometimes appears as "Caveness" or "Caviners," for example.  Sometimes individuals go by a different name or their middle name instead of their full given name or the census recorders may have had horrible spelling.  Mistakes happen.  Could Flora have been listed as a daughter by mistake?

My Conclusion

In the end, I decided to remove Flora B. from my family tree.  It would be nearly impossible to find out who she might be if her last name wasn't Caviness.  But I still wonder who she was and why she came to live with the Caviness family.  If I can track down journals or letters maybe I can find out for myself - and for poor, lost Flora B.

But now I really want to find out Hubert Clarence Caviness's story.  And where David Caviness fits into all of this!

Do you have an idea as to who this "Flora B. Caviness" might really be?  Or, do you know who David Caviness belongs to?

Next week's topic: [Protect the Rights of Children in Alberta Schools!]

Monday, 15 February 2016

3 Ways to Celebrate the Family

Today is Family Day in the province of Alberta, Canada.

Since I don't actually know how this holiday came to be, I just did some Wikipedia research.  This is what I learned:
  • celebrated by Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI), British Columbia (BC) and Saskatchewan
  • on the third Monday of February (except in BC on the second Monday)
  • coincides with Presidents' Day in the USA
  • first celebrated in 1990 in Alberta

"Premier [Don] Getty said it was important for all Albertans to take time for their families, and that this holiday would emphasize the importance of family values." [source]

So, to celebrate, here is a list of things you can do with your family today (or, really, any other day).
  1. Tell each family member what you admire about them.  If doing this verbally is too difficult (and all members know how to read and write at least a little), try this:
    • Each individual needs a piece of paper and a writing utensil.
    • Everyone writes their name on one side of the paper and places it in front of them.
    • Sitting in a circle, each person passes their paper to the person next to them.
    • On the back of the paper, each person writes 1-3 things they like about the person whose name is on the paper and flip it back over when done.
    • Continue passing papers until all family members have written on each other's paper.

  2. Read and discuss The Family: A Proclamation to the World with your family.  Some possible topics to consider are:
    • the role of each family member
    • the importance of gender
    • the purpose of marriage
    • wholesome activities to do together
    • why Heavenly Father decided to place us on the earth in families

  3. Pick a family from your family tree to learn more about.  Search for birth, death, marriage, war, and census records to find as many details as you can about each individual.  Read journal entries, obituaries, biographies, compiled family genealogies, and look at family photos (if possible).  Track family milestones (births, deaths, marriages, moves) on a map.  Visit their grave sites if possible.
    • I recommend using to track your findings.
    • Additionally, for LDS temple recommend holders: schedule a day and time to take family names to the nearest temple.

What do you do to celebrate your family?  When does your family have special time together?

Next week's topic: [Who in the World is Flora B. Caviness?]

Monday, 8 February 2016

Dream Home Floor Plans: 2-Story Library & Indoor Playground

What you are about to see is the first dream home floor plan that I've actually finished drawing.  I've never finished drawing a final version of any other plan because I'd change my mind about how to represent a certain space or scrap the idea entirely.

Lucas and I have many ideas of what we'd like to include in our dream home - so expect many more posts of this kind in the future (until we finally get to build one of our dream homes)!

Disclaimer:  Since I am not an architect, drafter, or educated in any course about home design, building, etc., be aware that these are very much hypothetical and bound to be inadequate in many areas.

An attempt to show the basic exterior of the house.
Ideally, it will be designed to represent the Victorian era.


  • 3 floors including finished basement
  • 7 bedrooms
  • 4.5 bathrooms
  • 2-car attached garage
  • large kitchen and pantry
  • wrap-around porch
  • plenty of space for entertaining
  • playroom includes indoor playground
  • separate apartment above garage with access through laundry room
  • luxurious master suite with walk-in shower
  • cozy 2-story library with balcony access from master suite

(Click each image to view larger size.)

Main Floor

Let us begin by walking up the steps of the Victorian-style wrap-around porch and through the front door into the foyer.

To your right, over a half-wall, you can see into the main sitting room where visitors can mingle until a meal is served in the dining room.  Between the sitting and dining rooms there is a walk-in coat closet with a designated built-in shelf for shoes.

Directly in front of you is an arched hallway that passes under the stairs, past a half-bathroom into the kitchen.  A pocket door opens into the bathroom to allow uninterrupted space for walking down the hall.  The bathroom has a convenient built-in shelf for linens above the space used for shoes in the coat closet.

Walking up the stairs on your left up to the landing, you have 3 choices: continue upstairs, go down into the kitchen, or access to the magnificent 2-story library through a set of double doors.  The library is partially soundproof and has large windows opposite the walls flanked with built-in bookshelves.  The center of the room - sunken nearly 3 feet - acts as a cozy sitting area for reading and studying.

Let's take a look in the kitchen now.  There is a central island with a sink and dishwasher on one side and an eating area with bar stools on the other.  The large pantry and 5-foot wide fridge-freezer combo are within easy reach to the island and the preparation and cooking zones on the far wall.  The location of the island between the cooking zone and dining room makes it an excellent place to serve foods to eat there or to be taken into the dining room, as well as to take care of dirty dishes immediately after a meal.

The large octagonal dining room includes a built-in serving area or buffet for convenience.  A set of French doors opens onto the covered porch where there is space to set up an eating area outside.

Due to "popular demand" (ie. from me!), we also have a charging station next to the fridge and a built-in L-shaped desk in the kitchen, conveniently placed where all family members can accomplish other tasks while preparing meals.

Finally, a mudroom with a bench and storage shelves connects the kitchen to the spacious 2-car garage.  There is a door from the garage to the backyard as well as access to an outdoor storage room that could also/instead be used as a mechanical room.

Let's go upstairs!

Upper Floor

At the top of the stairs is a loft area overlooking the stair hall that we call our "Family Gathering Room."  This is where we would have family discussions, Family Devotional, or other special family-related things.  There is a built-in desk off of the family gathering room that would be used mainly for computer or laptop usage.

At the front part of the house we have two bedrooms - one with a walk-in closet - within easy access to a full bathroom with plenty of counter space.

On the opposite end we enter the luxurious master suite.  To the left of the door there is a cozy sitting space to read the books from the library balcony - accessed only through the master suite!  The master ensuite includes a decent sized walk-in closet, toilet room, double sinks, and a walk-in shower.

The final door that leads from the family gathering room is for the large laundry room, complete with a sink and ironing board that folds up against the wall.  The laundry room is shared with the *special guest* (yes, we have someone in mind) that would live in the suite above the garage.

This suite opens up into a small kitchen with a mini fridge and microwave and eating area.  (The idea is that this *special guest* would normally be eating with our family.)  Beyond the eating bar is the living room with a storage or hobby room and bedroom at the back.  The bathroom can be accessed from the living space and the bedroom and has a shower instead of a bathtub.

Now run down to the basement with me so we can play!


Before we start playing, let me note that through the door to the left of the bottom of the stairs is the food storage room that doubles as an emergency shelter.  Do you feel the need to "go" when there's an emergency?  Me too!  There is access to the full bathroom through here as well for that very purpose.  Near the bathroom a half-wall partially divides the basement for quiet living: two more bedrooms and a homeschool room (or extra bedroom).

Take a look at what there is to do down here!  There is an entertainment area for television and multimedia set-up, a sitting area to chat (or set up a pool table), and a games table next to a snack bar.

Finally, slide open that barn door!  This is the playroom with a built-in indoor playground under a 10-foot ceiling.  What fun!  (I didn't bother to design the playground - but it would be awesome!)

Thanks for checking out my dream home #1!  There will be more to come (because this is so fun to do)!

What features do you like?  What do you dislike?

Next week's topic: [3 Ways to Celebrate the Family]