Sunday, January 26, 2014

Thoughts on Adam and Eve

Today was a very fascinating lesson in Sunday School. We are studying the Old Testament this year and we've started with Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. Moses parallels the first books of Genesis in the Bible, but it provides clarification on information that was lost over the centuries and it gives greater detail about man's beginnings.

Something that I have always struggled to understand about Adam and Eve is why they couldn't multiply and replenish the earth when they were in the Garden of Eden.

{Adam and Eve in the Garden by Lowell Bruce Bennett}

I know that once Eve partook of the fruit she knew that she would be kicked out of the Garden of Eden for breaking God's commandment not to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17 or Moses 3:16-17). If Adam didn't also partake of the fruit and accompany Eve out of the Garden, he would not be able to keep God's other commandment to multiply and replenish the earth (Genesis 1:28 or Moses 2:28). But what was it about taking the fruit and having their eyes opened to the difference between good and evil that changed things in regards to procreating? Did God not want them to procreate when they were immortal? If so, then why did He give them that commandment knowing that they could not do it (no pun intended)? Were Adam and Eve unable to feel physical attraction? Were they ignorant about how to procreate? Did it not ever cross their mind?

Today we watched excerpts from this talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The lightbulb went on and I finally understood why procreation had to happen after Adam and Eve became mortal. When they were created, they had flesh and bones like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22Genesis 1:26-27, and Moses 2:26-27, also this great article Is the LDS view of God Consistent with the Bible?). But they were immortal and could not grow old or die (Alma 12:21-23). Whatever the biochemical makeup of their bodies were, they could not procreate (2 Nephi 2:22-23) because they were not mortal. Something had to physically change before they could multiply and replenish the earth. From Elder Nelson:
The Fall of Adam (and Eve) constituted the mortal creation and brought about the required changes in their bodies, including the circulation of blood and other modifications as well. They were now able to have children. They and their posterity also became subject to injury, disease, and death.
I get it now. Mortality was a prerequisite for having children.

{Adam and Eve Teaching Their Children by Del Parson}

Another very interesting idea we discussed was the role of agency and God's plan in the Fall of Adam and Eve. Heavenly Father gave two seemingly contradictory commandments: do not partake of the fruit (and stay immortal and unable to have children) and multiply and replenish the earth. What kind of impossible trick was God trying to play on them?

Before we came to earth there was a great council in Heaven where God presented a plan for all of His spirit children to become like Him.

{Grand Council by Robert T. Barrett}

Part of His plan included us getting a mortal body. That could not happen without Adam and Eve beginning the physical creation process. Another essential part of God's plan of happiness was agency, the opportunity for each of us to make our own choices. Thus, God presented two commandments that allowed Adam and Eve to make a choice, to use their intelligence to figure out which path would allow them to fulfill God's plan. He knew that Adam and Eve would have to transgress one of his laws to get the ball rolling. That is why His plan included choosing a Savior to redeem us from our mistakes. But He wasn't a fatalistic God trying to set Adam and Eve up for failure. He was providing a means to an end that involved Adam and Eve exercising their first act of agency. Presenting two paths from which to choose gave Adam and Eve the opportunity to own their choice rather than just having things easily dropped in their lap. Partaking of the fruit in order to begin procreating opened up the opportunity for emotional and spiritual growth.

No one knows how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before they partook of the fruit. They communicated openly with God and He taught them. I imagine Eve deeply contemplated how she and Adam could obey both commandments. She must have wrestled with it greatly. Somehow she understood that they could not procreate without partaking of the fruit and undergoing a physical change that would subject them to death. Perhaps Adam did not fully comprehend this. When Satan came to tempt Eve, I think she had already come to the conclusion on her own that she must partake of the fruit. Her choice to partake was an act of faith and a desire to fulfill God's plan, not a succumbing to Satan's power. Once she partook of the fruit, she had to go explain to Adam why it was the only way to put God's plan for His spirit children in motion. She knew that if they remained in their immortal state, nothing would ever change, nothing would ever grow, there would be no window opened to invite God's spirit children to earth. She was a very spiritually intuitive woman; a very selfless woman to sacrifice her own perfection to serve God's purposes.

We do not always understand God's ways. We don't always understand why He asks us to do things. Adam was commanded to offer up sacrifices (Moses 5:5-7) but he didn't know why. He just knew that God told him to.

{Adam and Eve Kneeling at an Altar by Del Parson}

In our modern world where we are inundated with information and almost any question we have can be answered with a few clicks on our keyboards, we have gotten into the habit of thinking we have to have a concrete understanding of everything in order to take action. But Adam taught us the first principle of the gospel, we must have faith. Someone in Sunday School shared an idea that had been told to them by an older, wiser woman many years ago. She said, "What I understand, I love. What I don't, I must trust." As parents we ask our children to do things they don't understand. We are asking them to trust that we have their best interest in mind, that we are asking them to do specific things because our experience has taught us that those things will make them happy. Is it any different with our Father in Heaven? He asks us to trust Him and follow His commandments in faith even when we don't understand all things.

I love it when I gain new knowledge and understanding. It's one of the reasons it's so important to go to church. The discussions and teaching from those who have studied the subject extensively lead me to greater understanding that I likely would not gain sitting at home. With that new knowledge comes the beauty of feeling the Spirit. And it is that Spirit that sustains us through our other mostly ordinary days.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thermoregulation and a little ADPD

Mack is the funniest kid. He is serious about getting his body temperature just right.

We were playing Sorry on Sunday and he got hot, so he popped one arm out of his sweatshirt.

{Here comes the ADPD (Attention Deficit Photo Disorder) part}

Mack played really well with the rest of us for quite a bit of the game, moving his own game pieces to the appropriate spaces instead of just messing around with his guys. But then he got hungry and decided that he was done. The girls and I kept playing and it came down to this close of a game (try to ignore the fact that we've improvised for missing game pieces):

Amelia was the first to make it Home and she was pretty freakin' excited about it!

Now, back to thermoregulation.

Mack started doing the funny one-arm-out thing almost two years ago when we first moved into the big Hammond house. He wasn't hot enough to take his shirt off, he only needed a little adjustment to make things just right.

{photos from March 2012}

He doesn't do it a lot now, just occasionally. But what he does do a lot is this:

One sock on and one sock off. I am constantly finding single discarded socks all over the house.

P.S. Raise your hand if your kids use your smartphone more than you do.

Mack started this funny habit about a year ago (or at least that's the first time I took a picture of it).

I couldn't resist sharing these photos of Super Wedgie Man:

{May 2013}

If you look very closely you'll notice that he has a wooden sword tucked into his pants. All superheroes need a special weapon.

"Dude, there's something stuck to my foot."

Yeah, that's what happens when you walk around without a sock on.

The one sock behavior isn't limited to the indoors.

{June 2013}

Mack sees absolutely nothing wrong with going outside in his socks. Even if it's just one sock.

It reminds me of a certain someone who is also a little quirky about thermoregulation. She who shall not be named.

I love Mack. He keeps us laughing everyday!

Monday, January 20, 2014

There's cold and then there's COLD

Here in Wyoming, where winter lasts for 6 months, cold is a part of life. Kids take their snow pants to school for recess, you have to start the car 20 minutes before you go anywhere (unless you have the luxury of a garage), and you become a religious weather checker. After living here for a couple of years, you get to the point where you can gauge the temperature by how quickly your snot starts to freeze.

There's a bit of pride involved in being able to live where the elements are harsh. I know how to drive on the snow and ice, I can build a fire, I can go for a walk in 10 degree weather and think it's not that bad. Don't get me wrong, this time of year I envy those who live in more temperate climates. But if it weren't for the long winters and mosquito filled summers, Cokeville would have a population of 10,000 instead of 535. The cold is what keeps this little slice of heaven one of America's best kept secrets.

One of the downsides of the cold is that we don't get very good snow for snowball fights and building snowmen. It's usually so cold that the snow is dry and doesn't stick together. When we get a big snowstorm, it's not necessarily a kid's dream. You can go sledding or skiing if you can handle the cold, but hanging out in your yard playing in the snow usually doesn't last that long. Oh, and we NEVER get snow days.

Well, last weekend we got a bunch of snow followed by an unusually warm day. And by unusually warm I mean upper 30's. It's only the second time this winter we've had good snowman snow.

Here's a quick peek at our first snow day in November:

Silver's like, "Freakin' human with the camera, making me sit here and get ice balls in my fur."

This is one of my favorite pictures. Amelia and Mack are actually working together.

This snow came right after the last weekend of decent weather. I never did get the leaves raked in the back yard.

The cats had mixed responses to the snow. Spooky wanted to be right in the middle of all the action. Firetail mostly stayed under the camper or the propane tank (unless you were offering pets, then he came running). Annie decided that snow was for the birds and she went right back to the door, thanking her lucky stars that she's an inside cat. Jackie and Sophie were off cattin' around the neighborhood.

Isn't he a pretty boy, especially in the snow?

One of the coolest gifts we've ever gotten is a snowman building kit. My cousin's wife, Jenn, gave it to us for a family gift exchange a few years ago. It includes wooden eyes, a carrot nose, a pipe, coal for the mouth, and a scarf.

The girls were sure proud of their snowmen (Mack had long since called it quits and gone inside for some hot chocolate).

Now, fast forward to January. After the kids had been sick and cooped up in the house for several days, they were super excited to bundle up and play outside with our next-door neighbors, Rebecca and Brenden. Oh, they had a fun time!

Silver hung out with us, but had to be tied up on her long leash because she kept trying to run off to snoop around the neighborhood. Can't have that, not everyone is happy to see a dog in their yard. ;)

The snow was great for packing, but the snowballs got big fast. Mack wanted to roll his own snowball, but it got so heavy that he couldn't move it. He didn't want any help from his sister and had a little meltdown when he couldn't do it all by himself.

Each of the kids got a little brick maker from Stan & Betty's store here in town. Mack was so excited to get one, but it took a couple weeks before there was the right kind of snow to use it.

During the snowman building, Lily was out in Daddy's camper/wood shop working on a small wooden box with dovetails. I had to get her help to lift the top two snowballs and I still almost broke my back!

A snowman's hat stays on better if you fill it with snow and attach it with a stick inserted into the snowman's head.

The kids really wanted Silver to be in their picture.

I suspect our giant snowman will be watching over our front yard for the next two months. :)

That was a fun day. But let me show you what a more typical winter morning looks like in Cokeville.

I drive Amelia to school each morning because she is never ready early enough to walk and there's no way my non-morning girl would ever walk in this cold anyway. Lily, however, is up early, ready early, and is not afraid to walk in the cold if it means she can get to school at 7:30 when they unlock the doors.

-9 degrees isn't the worst we've seen this winter. On December 11 my Facebook status said, "-20 degrees. Wyoming ain't for wusses." This is the inside of our storm door that morning. Jack Frost's handiwork.

Occasionally we'll have a foggy night combined with freezing temperatures. Everything gets encapsulated with frost and the trees look so pretty.

{photos taken January 2010}

The other morning I went to take Amelia to school and Spooky was covered in frost.

Now before you think we're cruel cat owners, note the little roof Spooky is sitting on. It goes to an insulated cat house that has heated beds inside.

This is where the cats are supposed to sleep. But apparently they're not too bright because I went outside at midnight last night to take Silver out and Jackie was the only cat smart enough to be in on the heated bed. Whatever.

I guess everyone adjusts to the cold, even the cats. You gotta get tough or die!

Friday, January 17, 2014

What is it with Boys?

These are the words uttered from my lips this morning:

"Your penis is not a toy or a snuggle friend. You use it to pee."

We have entered the stage of saying 20 times a day, "Get your hands out of your pants." It's Mack's local hangout and it is totally gross. I'm like "Don't touch me, don't touch my stuff, and here's some Germ X."

I understand the need to itch or readjust occasionally. But why, oh why, do boys just like to hold onto their junk as if it's going to run away? I talked to my friend who has 3 teenage boys and she was like, "Yeah, you'll be telling him to get his hands out of his pants until he's 14. Then he'll just sneak through his pocket."


(Yes, there are no sheets on the bed. I hadn't replaced them yet after Mack pee'd on them for the 237th time.)

A few nights ago I was giving Mack a bath. After I got him out and dried him off, he stood in front of the full-length mirror, and struck a pose. Then he literally started strumming his penis like a guitar, singing, and doing the Elvis hip swagger.

I'll admit. It was kind of funny.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Orthodontic Journey Begins

I'm the mother of an almost-teenager.

I know, Lily's only 11 (for 6 more weeks), but I think when you start seeing the orthodontist that means you're pretty dang close to being a teenager!

I've always been of the philosophy that you should not get braces early, that starting too young just sets you up for having to wear braces twice. I didn't get braces until I was in 10th grade. A year earlier would have been nice, then I could've had my junior and senior years braces free. But no big deal. High school is the time for braces.

About a year ago, when Lily's dentist began suggesting we have a consultation with an orthodontist, I was like, "Maybe in a couple of years." But he continued to suggest it and the hygienist said that sometimes you can prevent further complications by finding out if there are other non-braces treatments that need to be done first to get the jaw ready for braces. I conceded to have a consultation just see what the orthodontist said, fully expecting to wait a couple of years before braces.

The orthodontist said that Lily's upper jaw is too narrow, which surprised me because she has all those gaps. But she has two peg laterals (the ones adjacent to the top front teeth are small) and that is what's giving her the extra space. She has a crossbite where one side of her top teeth align properly with the bottom teeth, but the other top side sits inside of the bottom teeth.

{San Diego, July 2013}

In order to correct this crossbite, the roof of her mouth needs to be widened with a palate expander.

She would need to wear the expander for 3-6 months, then get braces on.

Lily was so excited by the news. She has been wanting braces for awhile because her jaw hurts sometimes and she is always biting her cheek because of the crossbite. But mom wanted a second opinion. ;)

My friend Karla highly recommended her orthodontist, Dr. Johnson, as one who is adamant about not putting braces on too early. He is most interested in correcting the jaw, not just aligning the teeth. So we went to see him and his suggested the same treatment plan as the first orthodontist. When I asked him about Lily's age, he explained that girls' palates fuse together earlier than boys' do, so it's best not to wait. The palate bone has a suture down the middle which is not fused together until approx. age 13 in girls and 15 in boys.

The bones have a finger-like structure and if you begin early enough, the bones can be spread apart and the "fingers" grow back together at a surprisingly rapid rate. But once the bones fuse together permanently, you have to do jaw surgery.

Lily has one baby tooth, a molar, left on the top that will need to fall out before she gets her braces on, but she will need to wear the palate expander for at least 3 months. The tooth should come out by then and if not, they will pull it. The opposite molar on the other side of her mouth as been in for a year, so it's possible this one might have some sort of problem that is keeping it from descending, so it might need to be pulled anyway.

We went into Dr. Johnson's office last Friday to have the palate expander put in. Two weeks earlier Dr. Johnson inserted some rubber bands on either side of the teeth where the expander would go. This was to create a little space around the teeth. All the rubber bands fell out by the time we went back. The expander was inserted around the teeth and pushed in with a little tool that Lily bit down on.

Then it was glued in.

Groovy, no?

See the little straight hook looking thing with the rubber string attached? That's the key/tool Lily uses to turn the screw inside of the expander twice a day.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked in Lily's mouth the day after she had the expander put in. Her teeth had already moved! I meant to take a good before picture of her smile, but I forgot and figured I could do it the next day. Too late!

Here's what her front gap looked like the day of installation:

And the next morning it looked like this:

It had opened up to a bigger triangle.


Many kids with palate expanders have their front two teeth spread into a huge gap and as the palate bones grow back together, the gap closes again. I have the feeling that Lily is going to have some serious Bubba teeth in a couple of weeks! She goes back in two weeks and depending on how things are progressing she may need to continue turning the key twice a day, or Dr. Johnson may have her leave it where it is for the next 3ish months.

The first couple of days were no big deal, but now Lily's mouth is starting to hurt and we're keeping her on regular doses of ibuprofen. Unfortunately, Lily (and everyone else except me) has had a nasty chest cold for several days and has been grossing us all out when she coughs and gets phlegm stuck in the appliance. Gross.

It's been amusing listening to her figure out how to talk with that thing in her mouth.

Good times!