Monthly Archives: July 2013

I Want to Interview YOU on the Topic of Marriage!

If you are married or divorced (or both!) or if you have an opinion on why people get divorced, let me know! I want to pick your brain! Just make sure to tell me which category(ies) you fall under!

Listed below are questions posed by my English 102 professor, Lindsay Christopher, to me on my “Ethnographic Research” strategies. It’s all just a fancy way of saying “Living Sources.”

Q: How could you use ethnographic research for your project?

A: I can use ethnographic research for my project by interviewing divorcees or even married people to gain insight into what their theories on marriage are.

Q: How can you use ethnographic research to “fill in the gaps” of your library research?

A: I can use stories of individuals to “fill in the gaps” of my library research by using personal accounts of marriage “gone wrong” or the opinions of real housewives.

Q: Which methods do you think you’ll pursue to gather more data?

A: I plan to use interviews and read encyclopedias to gather more data. I also plan on using field work, by recording my experiences with marriage and that of my married/ divorced friends.

Q: If some methods don’t seem appropriate, why not?

A: I don’t plan on using surveys because they would take too much time.

Q: How can becoming a researcher/ storyteller enrich your essay?

A: I think becoming a researcher/ storyteller can help to enrich my essay because it will breathe life into my words and research! People will feel the passion I have for successful marriages and hopefully I can make a change in the world.


Paraphrase: Complexity of Communication within Families

We use language to communicate our thoughts, be it to convey fear or comfort. When we express ourselves to others, strong relationships are cultivated. When we talk to those closest to us, including our family, we are looking for acceptance and to be appreciated as our own individual. Sadly, often times we are met by harsh and personal judgments. And the worst part is, because we are close to the person, possibly even family, we remember all conversations with them, to which we draw further meaning.

Blog #3: What Does it Mean that 50% of Marriages End in Divorce?

I’ve been struggling with creating my research question for my ten page paper. I felt very blessed when Lindsay, our new English 102 teacher, helped me to create a new Interpretation Question the other night:

What does it mean that 50% of marriages end in divorce?

DISCLAIMER: With this blog as my sounding board, I’m going to rant.

It means that many people have been unhappy with their marriages. It means that lots of folks become turned off to the idea of marriage and that the concept of marriage is now changing. It means that people are changing the entire ideology of marriage and with the change, marriage is becoming something that can be thrown away, fixed, made better somehow in theory.

And even worse, society is teaching our children the new version of marriage. Society is teaching our children that step-parents are common and single parent homes are normal.

I, for one, want my children to know what marriage really is. Marriage is ordained of God between a man and a woman. They are meant to work together as a combined force to make things better than if it was just an individual. Marriage is about synergy and love. Marriage is about taking your spouse by the hand and walking through life to share in life’s joys, sadness, and to help your family during the healing process. Marriage is knowing someone will be there to support you when hard times come. Marriage is about creating a tightly knit family unit to hold on to so you can all withstand wordly evils together. Marriage is about holding strong. Marriage is having another person to care about more than yourself. Marriage is about doing what needs to be done to ensure your loved one is being all that they can be.

Marriage in it’s basic form is beautiful.

So why is the world trying to shave off pieces of marriage and then patchwork other concepts on to it- and in to it- to make it something different?

My husband says that people are looking for the easy way out. People work hard in their jobs and all they want is entertainment once they’re off the clock. Marriage is too much work for a lot of people and they don’t want more work on top of all the work that they already have.

To extend on that idea, I feel like people spend way too much time watching movies and participating on social media sites; there is far too much stimuli for people to simply be content anymore. But in reality, being content is part of God’s plan that people oh so often lose sight over… God wants us to find contentment and happiness. How can we every be truly happy if we are always fighting for the next best thing? And how will we know if we’ve found “the best thing?” With “the grass is always greener on the other side” mentality, no one can ever know peace. And sadly, the whole ordeal is cyclical.

We want the next best thing and we try to manipulate what we do have… All the while, what we have changes and pushes us farther into the darkness. And on top of all this turmoil, we have loads of confused advocates calling the darkness “the light.”

So how do we find our way out of the darkness? We hold to basic truths. Solid truths. We look for answers from those who have lived and learned. In the old days, marriages weren’t like Kim Kardashian’s or Brittney Spears’. Marriages are supposed to last not only a lifetime, but beyond that. Think Johnny and June Carter- Cash.

Kim Kardashian is, for who knows what reason, a role model to youth nowadays. Every young person knows her name, knows her body and face, knows most details about her life because of all the reality tv shows that she stars in. Kim Kardashian married an NBA player, Kris Humphries, for 72 days. Their divorce was glamorized and a mockery was made of marriage.

Because of Kim and Kris’ marriage sham, people don’t understand what marriage is supposed to be anymore. The whole idea of marriage is contorted and disfigured now because of the way the media presents it.

And how many famous couples cheat on each other?! We see it time and time again. And then their spouse takes them back. An example for the rest of us, right? Thank you to good old Bill and Hill.

But one of the worst reasons that has a solid grip on so many of us would have to be seductive magazines like Cosmo. Now, I’m not gonna lie. I read Cosmo all the time. I have every new issue before it hits stores. I love to read about the latest fashion tips and sex scandals. But Cosmo and the like glamorizes casual sex. Articles like “Hooking up 101” in the August 2013 issue teaches girls tips like carrying a “Shack Bag.” Which, by definition, means “A purse that contains essentials for spending the night with a guy who is not your boyfriend. May include some or all of the following: toothbrush, eye concealer, fresh underwear, condom” (page 154 by Jessica Knoll).

I mean HELLO PEOPLE! What are we teaching our children?!

Thank you, that is all for now.

❤ Siarra

Research Proposal: Stay at Home Mothers

My Inquiry Question for my Research Proposal is:

What is the popular opinion regarding stay at home moms in this modern day?

My primary purpose for my Research Proposal is to EXPLORE. Some additional questions that interest me would be:

  • What do the majority of men think, in this modern day, of women staying at home to raise babies?
  • What was the popular opinion regarding stay at home moms 50 years ago?
  • 100 years ago?
  • 500 years ago?
  • Are there any groups that are anti stay at home moms?
  • Are there any groups that advocate for stay at home moms?
  • What are some professions where women are essentially stay at home moms but still make money?
  • Do children suffer if they don’t have a stay at home parent?
  • What are some alternatives to having a stay at home parent?
  • Will gay marriage affect stay at home parenting?
  • Has the number of mr. mom’s increased since the rise of feminism and the right for women in the workplace?
  • Do women really make less than men in the workplace for the same job (with the same education level)?
  • What is the popular opinion, in this modern day, of women regarding women in the workplace?
  • What are the duties of a stay at home mom?
  • Do kids prefer a stay at home parent vs a workaholic parent?
  • How can couples, especially couples with kids!, survive with only one parent working?
  • What are transferrable skills the average home maker has that may transfer well to the workplace?
  • What is the definition of a stay at home mom?
  • Are there any specific people who fight for women’s rights so they don’t have to be home makers?
  • Are there any specific people who fight against women leaving the home for the workplace?
  • What was Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s position on home making?
  • What was Susan B. Anthony’s position on home making?

Some prior beliefs I have that might bias my research would be the fact that I’m religious. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my religion loves the idea of stay at home moms when possible.

I was also raised in a home with a stay at home mother. Even on my father’s side, my step mother stayed at home while we were young and ran a day care program. I always had a mother who was home to monitor my siblings and me.

Before I begin my “working knowledge,” my take on home makers is that they are extremely necessary because kids need guidance. If they didn’t, the world wouldn’t need families. Families are the most fundamental units of society.

We have a letter framed near our dining room table that reads, “We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan. Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another… and be law abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations…

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners… Other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation…”

The letter is called “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and it was written by the LDS church’s First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles in 1995.

I definitely agree that parents have a responsibility to nurture and take care of their children; they also need to make sure their children are law abiding citizens. I can’t tell you how many adults I know who say, “I’ve done what I could. They are who they are,” when asked about their children. We all know that most of those parents spend 40 hours a week at work and don’t spend time each day with their kids.

Sadly, I think my opinion is not the popular opinion. I really am interested to see what people of other cultures, religions, and backgrounds have to say on the subject.

One source I’ve looked in to reads, “Women who take time out of the workforce… pay a big career penalty. Only 74 percent of professional women will rejoin the workforce in any capacity, and only 40 percent will return to full-time jobs. Those who do rejoin will often see their earnings decrease dramatically.” This was said by Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In earlier this year. Sandberg was quoted in an article called Confessions of a Stay at Home Mom written by Ashley Nelson of The Nation Magazine.

Another negative Nancy, named Linda Hirshman, who wrote a book called Get to Work says, “Why would a congressman listen to someone whose life so resembles that of a toddler’s?” I enjoy the response from Nelson who forcefully commented in return, “Because I can vote!”

I look forward to researching more on the topic of stay at home mothers.

❤ Siarra

Blog #2: Marriage Proposals

I’m the youngest married person I know.

My boyfriend proposed to me when I was just 17 years old. Two months later, we tied the knot and began our life together in wedded bliss. I was 18 and he was 21 years old.

In three short weeks, one year will have passed since the day we said “I do.”

With our one year anniversary in view, I have a question on my brain regarding proposals…

But first, for the Siarra and Jesse Nielsen Proposal Story.

Jesse found a coupon on Groupon (say that 3 times fast!) for discounted movie tickets at a rinky- dinky little theater in Lake Oswego, OR. We live pretty far from Lake O, but the tickets were so dirt cheap (with popcorn included!) we couldn’t refuse the adventure.

We anticipated an hour drive and we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Twin Lakes Cinema early. We took a lovely stroll and admired privately owned shops and boutiques. We even found a little park and ran around for a while to let off some energy!

When the hour of Batman hit, we rushed back to the theater to claim our seats- and POPCORN! The movie was great! We have always been huge super hero fans.

As the movie ended, the crowd was pushed to the back exit. The small exit led to a cute wooden deck overlooking a lake. To our right was the beautiful park we had run around in just hours before. After coming out of the dark theater, we drank in the breathtaking scenery. Then we both noticed a small bench on the deck at the same time. We silently sat down to admire the sunset over the lake. We saw birds on the water and watched them for a long time. There were families on their speedboats and a lady lounging by her pool on the lakeside. I remember feeling jealous of all those people; wanting to have nice things like them.

As Jesse and I sat together, we shared our thoughts and replayed the movie in detail. Jesse had been holding my hand the entire time; but after a while, he started fiddling with my promise ring. And then, in the midst of all our smiles and giggles, he got down on one knee in front of me.

He said, “Siarra Conlin Edmondson, I love you. Will you please marry me? But only if we can name our first child Robin, like in Batman.”

I must say, yes, it was a very personalized proposal. But shouldn’t a proposal include inside jokes so it can be intimate? What could be more intimate than spending the rest of your life with someone?

The moments following were so surreal! I loved him so much, even more now, and it took my breath away to think that we would be together forever. I said yes right away! And I remember thinking that those families on the boats and that lady with the expensive pool had nothing compared to what I have.

Which brings me to the question I’ve been contemplating…

Why is it custom for a person to get on one knee to propose marriage?

I started out by asking a few of my family and friends for their opinions. And I can’t wait to share these gold nuggets of knowledge with you, my readers!…

My husband, Jesse Nielsen, said, “The reason men get down on one knee is because the woman is in charge. Don’t forget that. The woman is in charge. But you won’t. She won’t let you forget.” And to that I say, “Yes. You are so right.”

My friend who recently has been talking with my husband and I about marriage, Zach Collier, explained, “People probably get on one knee because in certain cultures you have specific things you do. Getting on one knee heightens the significance or value of a proposal.”

One of my bridesmaids from my wedding, Kenzy Stupfel, claimed, “Men usually look down on women; it’s a societal thing. When a man asks a woman to marry him on his knees, he’s relinquishing control and throwing a lot out there. When a man gives a ring, which is the symbol of marriage, he’s starting the act of meeting half way. He’s showing vulnerability to the woman.”

I really love these answers. Thank you to my friends (and Jesse, lol) for sharing your thoughts.

But, as it turns out, there are no concrete reasons why one might get down on one knee to specifically ask for another’s hand. But upon further research, I located some possible theories.

According to Cheryl Cirelli, author of an article entitled “Marriage Proposal on Bended Knee” from Love to Know: Advice You Can Trust, the gesture of the bended knee bears resemblance to many ceremonial situations, including:

Royalty: As kings would award honors, a knight would kneel on bended knee before him.

Religion: We pray to our God on bended knees to show respect and to humble ourselves.

Surrender: One might bow to a victorious enemy for surrender in times past, again, to show respect.

But my FAVORITE answer would have to be from the article “How to Propose to your Girlfriend” found in Men’s Fitness.

Meredith Bodgas says that men need to get down on one knee to propose because,“It adds to the humility of the proposition—could I, some jackass on the floor, possibly deserve you as my wife?—and it’s a romantic gesture to which women are entitled only once(-ish) in a lifetime. If getting down and dirty means, well, getting dirty, at least take her hand while you ask your question.”

So there you have it folks! Right from the expert’s mouths (well, web pages).

❤ Siarra

 Jesse, the ladies man. Kenzy is on his left. (Yes, this was MY wedding.)

 Jesse and I right after our wedding last August. ❤

The Holocaust and the Shaping of My Journey

I was born in a split family. One side of my family is Jewish and from Israel and Romania.

I have always felt a strong connection to my Jewish roots and I celebrate a few Jewish customs within my home. My husband and I celebrate “Christmakkuh.”  It’s Christmas (because we are Christians) and Hanukkah (because I identify with many Jewish traditions) combined for a really fun, albeit interesting, holiday.

For this English 102 assignment, our teacher has asked us to write about a topic that we plan to research. I have chosen to study on the Holocaust in hopes that as I explore my culture’s past, I can find answers that will help guide my future.

I know that the Holocaust took place around 1945 and that my Gambeenie (my grandmother) would have been in her early adolescent years. I wish I could ask her about her experiences.

Some questions I plan to answer in my 10 page paper are:

  • How long did the Holocaust last?
  • How many people died during the Holocaust?
  • How many camps were there to hold Jews and the others deemed unfit?
  • How many Nazi leaders were there?
  • What brought Hitler to such a hatred of the Jews?
  • How many Nazis were there?
  • What types of people were picked up by the Nazis?
  • Which groups don’t believe that the Holocaust ever happened?
  • Why would a group believe that the Holocaust never happened?
  • Why did Nazis not rebel?
  • What caused “nice” people to commit mass murder?
  • How many Holocaust survivors are alive today?
  • How many people were put in camps?
  • Which countries were allies to the Nazis?
  • Which countries were not allies to the Nazis?
  • What was the American President’s take on the situation?
  • Who was America’s president at the time of the Holocaust?
  • Where did the majority of Jews and the like flee?
  • Where were all the different places Jews and the like fled to?
  • What else was happening in the world during the 1940s and time of the Holocaust?
  • Where did my relatives flee?
  • How did Hitler have such ultimate control over people?
  • What happened to people who decided not to become Nazis?
  • Did anybody decide to not follow Hitler?
  • What happened to Hitler’s family after his disappearance?
  • How did the public feel about Hilter’s actions in the 1940s?
  • How did the media portray the Holocaust in the 1940s?
  • What events in history led to WWII and the Holocaust?
  • Why do I feel such a deep connection to my ancestors?
  • How did Hitler get weapons?
  • Was Hitler well educated?
  • What are some theories on Hitler’s mental state?
  • What are different ways the Nazis killed people during the Holocaust?
  • Were any Jews captured and used for other purposes?

I hope that by answering these questions (and the other page of questions I have) I will come to a deeper understanding of the Holocaust.

Blog #1: A Life with Nerves

For my first English 102 blog, I’d like to write about something that is rather personal.

About 6 hours ago, I left the operating room feeling like an entirely different person and I can’t seem to stop thinking about it! I just had a life changing procedure done and I feel like learning more about my procedure by researching and writing about it!

But first, for a little background…

For the past 19 years of my life I have lived with a chronic pain in my left shoulder blade. This chronic pain has, sadly, become part of me and has caused daily migraines and complications throughout my entire life. 5 years ago, I started having seizures and I lost mobility of my arms and legs for a long time. I felt completely overwhelmed by my pain and  I was void of any hope that I might ever lead a normal life.

I spent my first few years of high school attempting to attend 3 days a week. Some weeks I didn’t go to school at all. And eventually, I started a home school program through Seattle Children’s Hospital. I lived in the Seattle Children’s Hospital for a month for comprehensive treatment. I learned that I had very severe CHRONIC REGIONAL PAIN SYNDROME WITH SEIZURES caused by a nerve plexus in my left shoulder blade. I was forced to complete over 8 hours a day of rigorous physical “boot camp” in attempt to override my nerve pain signals. In reality, all that happened was that I became very, very ill.

After years of inpatient and outpatient hospital treatments for my daily pain, in 2011, my seizures stopped when I found the right medication mix. I had tried 43 different medication combinations over those 3 years. Unfortunately, my left shoulder blade nerve pain did not cease its relentless torment.

After 2 years of using the medication that helped my seizures, I’ve found that I can live a reasonably happy life. However, I still can’t be around any bright lights, flashing lights, beeping noises, or have anything NEAR my left shoulder because of the terrible pain. I also have to close my eyes and count to mentally prepare for any shifts in sensory intake because I’m always nauseous. And aside from all that, my new husband and I can’t start a family while this toxic drug continues to control my body because it creates an unsafe environment for a fetus.

In other words, the medicine was a place holder while I became stable enough to have procedures done.

Today, I had a STELLATE GANGLION NERVE BLOCK procedure done through my neck.

I’ve been contemplating having a Stellate Ganglion Nerve Block put in for many years now. But my mother always complained over the complications. My mother has always felt that medications offer a comfort blanket of sorts.

And to be honest, in some ways she’s right. Upon my research, I’ve learned that the risks associated with Stellate Ganglion Nerve Blocks include spinal block, epidural block, and possible injection of anesthetic and medication into blood vessels and surrounding organs (according to Also, my doctor, who performed the procedure, alerted me that often times people experience temporary paralysis of their vocal chords and befall Horner’s Syndrome. Horner’s Syndrome causes your eyelids and other facial features to droop.

But there are benefits too. When you experience pain in your Sympathetic Nervous System that plays on a loop, like mine does, a nerve block can be a God send. “A Stellate Ganglion Nerve Block is an injection of local anesthetic in the ‘sympathetic nerve tissue’ – the nerves which are a part of the Sympathetic Nervous System. The nerves are located on either side of the voice box, in the neck” ( When the anesthetic calms your angry nerves, you get a moment of rest from the pain.

Because this is my first time having an injection done, the doctor started off small with only anesthetic. My nerves were calmed for several hours. Next week, when the doctor does another nerve block for me, she will add some stronger medication; every block from now on will have a little bit more medication than the last time. Eventually, I will only need injections every 3 months!

Right after having the anesthetic injected into my nerves, I felt pain free for the first time EVER. Even a few hours after the procedure I felt pretty darn good. Sadly, now that we are 8 hours after my procedure, I’m experiencing pain again. I can’t wait to have another LONGER LASTING INJECTION!

It takes courage trying something new. I know that everyone has that one thing that they’re AFRAID to try. Maybe someone told you it wouldn’t work, or maybe you’re just too scared.

But maybe, just maybe your situation turns out like mine. Where you get to experience life nerve pain free for the first time.

I know it’s risky, but finding a pain free life, for me, is worth the risk.’s a picture of my battle scars from my procedure today! is my husband supporting me today after my procedure.