14 October 2016


Hello world! I am officially a university student again. Whoo hoo!

I am still considered an international student, which means tuition is insanely expensive and just getting into classes means jumping through twenty bureaucratic hoops that are completely unnecessary. But, once you finally get in the program, it is pretty mind-blowing. 

Currently, my favourite class is at the National Gallery and focuses on art as a theological medium. The class is taught by Ben Quash who is also an Anglican priest, so every point of doctrine is treated as truth, which I love. However, sometimes it feels like mental gymnastics. 

I've never been surrounded by people outside my faith that were so well-versed in scripture. They know their Bible backwards, forwards, and understand all the deep, deep doctrine and implications behind it. The weird thing is that even though we are all reading from the same book, the interpretations are VASTLY different. As mind-bending as it can be sometimes, I'm really enjoying thinking about Mormonism from a new vantage point. 

I went in to talk to Ben about this, (I needed some doctrinal points clarified) and found out I'm the first Mormon they've ever had in the program.  Makes me feel pretty cool, and I'm hoping I am just the first of many.  

This has been my bedside table lately. Up until this morning, there were twice as many books all from the glorious Maughn library which I know have full access too. I am not exaggerating when I say the library itself might be worth the tuition. That place is insane (think I'll do a post on it soon). 

Every day I walk back and forth between the Maughn and campus I pass by the beautiful Courts of Justice buildings (below). 

One of the cool and unexpected perks of being in the program is that I get special access to certain museum collections. We were brought down to this one, in the belly of the National Gallery earlier this week. 

It genuinely feels like you've just walked into some cave of treasures. They unlock the doors and all this beautiful art, in jewel-tones and gilded in gold, is staring back at you and you think "AH AM I DREAMING THIS IS HEAVEN!" It gets even better as we stand around and discuss it. 

In other news, this past month or so has been very busy. I've had an aunt-in-law, brother-in-law, and a step-great-uncle and his two sisters (whom I didn't even know existed) all come out to visit. Jon is back in the UK and working up in Sheffield and I'm back nannying. I'm also back in charge of the nursery on Sundays, which I am genuinely happy about. 

Life is good. I'm enjoying living in the now. 

03 September 2016

Oxford and the Professor

I'm not sure if I've explicitly talked about it on my blog, so this may be a bit of an announcement, but I'll *FINALLY* be going back to get my master's degree this autumn.  WHOO HOO!I'll be studying 'Christianity and the Arts' which is a sort of dual art history/theology degree at King's College London. I'm so excited about it, it makes me giddy to just think about it. Many of the classes are given at the museums in London, so you are face to face with the original artwork. But what is actually the most exciting to me is that, at its core, the degree is in theology. An anglican priest is even the head of the programme. Over the past few months I've been working on my dissertation, gearing up for school to start. As part of my research, I reached out to the man that quite literally wrote the book on subject I'll be undertaking. By some miraculous twist of fate, he is actually at Oxford right now for a whole term. (BE STILL MY BEATING HEART!) As soon as I found out, we organised a meeting, and I took the train up to Oxford to say hello.I wasn't sure what to expect when I met him, as I've literally been book-crushing on his work for the last six months. He was so friendly as full of amazing information, even providing me with new ideas for leads. At one point, when I was going through some of the art I've found, he jumped and said, "I have to wake up my wife, she has to see this!" Apparently, I had uncovered a piece of artwork that shows a bit of theological doctrine his wife has been investigating for months. It was all very exciting.In the end, he was so encouraging of my research and told me several times how significant it could end up being (which made me want to run out of there screaming and dancing). It was my first time to Oxford and pretty much solidified my hope of getting my PhD there in a few years. GAH! A girl can dream... 

01 September 2016

The Database

To celebrate my birthday week, I have a gift for the world!

For the last couple of months I've been working to put together this database of funding for researchers of Mormon-centric studies. There are actually two databases-- one that is specifically research related to LDS topics (for which member and non-member could technically apply) and a second that relates to awards offered as scholarships to members of faith. 
Between our two databases, we have 51 awards, which I have to say I'm pretty jazzed about (I wasn't sure there would even be enough to consider creating a database). Phase two of the project will be to approach LDS family foundations and individual donors to consider setting money aside for individual research projects. If you'd like to help, please let me know!

In other news, as Jon is currently back in Australia (though he'll be coming home in only a couple of weeks-- not months! YAY!), I've been spending an awful lot of time at the British Library trying to get ahead on some research I'll being doing for school this autumn. This view (above) is pretty much the first sight you see when you come in the library. It is like a Disney-Beauty-and-the-Beast fantasy come to life, and genuinely made my heart skip a beat when I first went inside. 

This place is insanely exclusive. You can't even get near any of the books unless you have a card, which is a bit of a process to acquire (you even have to show a list of books you are planning on reading before they give it to you-- which I find ridiculous). It is a copyright library, so you can't check anything out and they only have one copy of every book. You sit in the beautiful reading rooms, and wait for an hour while your books get brought up from storage. As it is the largest library in the world, these things take there sweet time. 

I sort of have a love/hate relationship with the place. On the one hand, I think it is glorious. It is like a palace to literature and knowledge. On the other hand, it is a bit snobby. And by a bit, I mean a lot. This is an actual conversation I heard while I was waiting for my books: 

(Context: A man had just gone up to the front desk to collect his books. The librarian hands him what looks like a folded piece of paper)

Man: What is this? Where is the book?
Librarian: Oh, you only requested the dust jacket. 
Man: The dust jacket? Why would anyone request a dust jacket?
Librarian: I don't know. Perhaps for research. 
Man: I requested all that was available. Why would only the dust jacket arrive?
Librarian: Maybe it was mislabelled. 
Man: Well then you need to purchase a new book to replace it. 
Librarian: Um... I don't think so. 
Librarian: (clearly annoyed) I'm sorry. I have other customers. (There is literally no one else anywhere near the front the desk. Librarian turns and walks away)
Man: Where am I meant to go to sort this out? Downstairs? Excuse me!
Librarian: (without turning around) Ask the front desk. 

Man walks off, equally dazed and infuriated. 

It was rather funny to watch as a spectator, but I would have been livid if I had been the guy. 

Anyway, as snotty as they are, they have the books. I'll probably be spending a lot more time there over the next few weeks. 

Enjoy the database!

10 August 2016

Two Percent

"So, really you only have about a two percent chance of conceiving a baby each month. And if we look here...."

I had already stopped listening. I was staring at the little "2%" she'd squiggled on the pamphlet in front of her; my mouth fell slightly open in horror and tears burned the back of my eyes.

Two percent.

I was at the doctor's office for a post-op checkin several weeks after my surgery. We were talking about next options when she slipped the statistic in, sandwiched between two completely innocuous sentences, like a misshelved library book.

She finally realised I was upset. "Now dear, what's wrong?" She reached out, stroked my hand and smiled.

"Two percent?" I whispered, "I only have a two percent chance of having a baby?"

"No, no... see here if you get IVF it goes up to 30% or even 40%!" She circled the IVF option on her paper with gusto, but I only saw the $7,000 price written right next to it.

I looked at her smiling face, then promptly burst into tears.

It wasn't my finest moment, I'll say that. It was an overflowing slurry of emotion compounded by the fact that I had just realised that I will be facing many months alone, as Jon goes back to finish his assignment. He'll be in Australia, and I'll be in London for school. It feels like an never-ending dark tunnel.

That being said, I got my first spot of sunshine this morning as we landed back in the UK. Jon will be here with me for the next week or two while his new Australian visa gets sorted and it feels so good to be home again. It feels amazing to be in a physical space that feels emotionally secure.

I don't know how I'll get a baby. I don't know when. If it didn't cost a small fortune to adopt as expats, we'd have done it already. So, all that is left now is to save our pennies for IVF and pray that it works. It is massively discouraging, but I'm holding on to this little flicker inside that says it is going to happen. Two percent isn't zero. There is still hope.

16 July 2016


So, I had my very first surgery yesterday. All went well, and despite being twice the expected price, the service and care were fantastic. 

That said, I basically cried the whole way home. 

As Jon and I have been trying to get pregnant for the past three years, we've spent an enormous amount of time and money on supplements, acupuncture and diagnostic testing. Finally, last month, the doctor said there wasn't anything else they could do without performing a laparoscopy, a surgery where they cut into your abdomen and stick a camera inside. 

The doctor was expecting to get in and find cysts, fibroids, or endometrial tissue, all of which would have to be removed. However, it would FINALLY provide the answers as to why we have remained infertile for so long. 

It isn't often where you hope the doctors find a problem, but this was one of them. 

Unfortunately, when the doctor came back after surgery she said, "We didn't find anything... everything is perfectly clean and healthy. In fact, your AMH levels [from a previous blood test] came back and they are quite high. That means you have lots of eggs!"

You'd think that was the kind of news that would make you jump for joy, but instead it just made me want to scream and weep and bury my face in a bowl of cream puffs. 

Right now we are back to zero. Everything is perfect, except it's not. We still have no baby, and still have to reason why... 

I know it is about timing, I get it, but it sucks. 

Boy, it really sucks.