Monday, January 2, 2017

Year in Review

Another year has passed, and it’s time for the 2016 Overly Family Rundown:

JANUARY: The year started off with a bang known as “The Great Viral Adventure.”  We’d tell you about it, but the records of our experience are in a biohazard bag stowed safely away in the bowels of the CDC.  Let’s just say that Disneyland is a lot less fun with three different illnesses raging through -- and out of -- the family (if you know what I mean). 

FEBRUARY:  With three birthdays within six days of each other, the transition from January to February is basically the Cake Olympics at our house.  Matthew, who turned six on January 29th, was first out of the starting gate with an Oreo ice cream cake, followed closely by his twin sister, Leah, who put in a great performance with a pan of brownies topped by chocolate chip cookie dough frosting.  Coming in last was Jonathan on February 4th, who celebrated his first Cake Olympics with a traditional chocolate cake, earning solid 9.5s from the judges for his forkless eating technique.

MARCH: Jonathan learned how to open doors, splash in toilets, and use the toilet plunger as a sword.  Meanwhile, Bonnie dusted off her straitjacket (well-worn from the twins’ toddler days) and put the toilet plunger under lock and key.  And sprayed disinfectant all over everything.  And everyone.

APRIL:  Matthew lost his two front teeth, Michael tried to harness the powers of the Dark Side to ride to victory at the Pinewood Derby with his Darth Vader car (Lesson: Evil may put in a good showing, but never wins in the end), and soccer season started for the boys.  David finished up his spring busy season at (company), and everyone rejoiced in having their dad back.

MAY:  Matthew presented his mom with a fill-in-the-blank Mother’s Day card which said, “My mother is 921 pounds and 30 feet tall.”  On a related note, Bonnie decided to turn down a job offer to moonlight as King Kong on account of the extensive climbing requirements.  Leah performed flawlessly in her end-of-year dance recital and everyone got incredibly lazy about all things school-related.  Including the kids.

JUNE:  After the previous travel disaster (see January), we decided to try a California do-over and head to Oceanside for a week of family fun and relaxation (because what could be more relaxing than taking a 16-month old sand-eater to the beach and giving him ample opportunities to drown himself?)  We spent a day at SeaWorld, hit a bunch of museums, and enjoyed boogie boarding and building sand castles.  Best of all, not a single person barfed.  We got home just in time to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary by camping at the Overly family reunion.  (As everyone knows, nothing says “romance” more than tenting it with your in-laws, a toddler, and a couple of hole-in-the-ground potties).

JULY:  We deep cleaned the house room by room, hit the pool several times a week, and enjoyed the McConkie family reunion in Brianhead, Utah, except for a little hike we dubbed “Satan’s Slip ‘n Slide.”  Fortunately, no one fell off a cliff.

AUGUST:  After an entire summer of the kids practicing to be lawyers (“I’M not touching her, my SPOON is touching her!”) school finally started again.  With three out of four kids in full-day school (Michael in 4th grade and Matthew and Leah in 1st), Bonnie finally had time to get to her to-do list.  (Sit on the couch in silence while Jonathan naps?  Check.  Eat a brownie without having to share?  Check.)  David’s summer busy season was a little more mild than usual, which was awesome because it meant he could come home for dinner occasionally.

SEPTEMBER:  Everything started again – “forgetting” to set alarm clocks, soccer, dance, scouts, avoiding piano practice, whining about homework…  To get her away from it all, David sent Bonnie to New York City on a surprise getaway with her sisters.  (#McSistersEatManhattan)  While she was gone he not only played Super Dad at home, but, with a little help from Grandpa and his tools, installed bead board on the living room walls.  Best.  Husband.  Ever.

OCTOBER:  On Halloween the kids collected so much candy that we should have emergency-sugar food storage until 2035.  Notice I say “should” have.  In reality, we expect it to last till about next Tuesday.  (We regret nothing).

NOVEMBER:  The long-awaited day arrived and David finally moved to his company’s downtown office.  He is loving the change and grateful for the shorter commute.  Plus it’s just down the block from the new Eccles Theater, so we had to take advantage of his conveniently located parking pass and get season tickets to their Broadway series.  (We wouldn’t want a perfectly usable parking pass to go to waste…)

DECEMBER:  With three kids in the French immersion program we’ve had a lot of Christmas carols being sung en francais around here.  Michael turned 10 at the beginning of the month, and the kids are all counting down the days till Christmas, wishing for more snow, and punching each other in the arm occasionally just to keep things real.

We are so grateful to know you and hope you have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Love, The Overlys

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Kindness Challenge

The presidential election has been decided, and Donald Trump has been declared the winner.  I never thought I would be typing those words, but there they are.  In actual letters.  On my actual computer screen.  (A friend of mine summed up the situation best when he quoted the immortal words of Clark Griswold: "If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am right now.")

But if this election has taught me anything, it's this:  Words have power.  For good or evil, they have power.  Which means that I have power.  And I'm going to use it for good.

As Thomas S. Monson said, "Life is perfect for none of us.  Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life.  May we recognize that each one is doing her best to deal with the challenges which come her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out."

We need to choose kindness over judgment.  Compassion over indifference.  Love over anger and understanding over hate.  We need to recognize that none of us can truly know what's in another's heart, and that we should not speak of their decisions as though we do.

We need to make America kind again.

Want to join me?  Here's the challenge:

For the next two weeks until Thanksgiving, act on the good.  When you have a kind thought about someone, say something to them.   When a friend needs help, do something for them.  When a stranger needs their grocery cart taken back to the stall, take it back for them.  Make a phone call, write a thank you note, and let someone merge in front of you.  In the words of Camilla Kimball, "Never suppress a generous thought."
On the flip side, if you have an uncharitable or unkind thought about someone -- whether it's their political views, their life choices, or their personality quirks that are using your nerves as a banjo -- keep it to yourself.  Don't add to the pile when others are throwing stones; only add to the good.

As Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."  If we want healing, this is where we will find it. 

Two weeks of kindness.

Who's in?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Kindness For President

You might have noticed by now that it's an election year.  If, by the grace of God you forget this fact for three blissful seconds, don't worry... Facebook will remind you.

The choices -- according to an informal poll of my newsfeed -- are your drunk uncle Donald, who got his start in politics when he saw that the Misogynist Party was not properly represented (votes for boobs!... I mean women!) and career criminal Hillary McMob Boss.  If you really want to flush America down the toilet, you can "throw away your vote" by backing Gary "Weed for Aleppo" Johnson or Evan "San Dimas High School Football Rules!" McMullin, who threw his hat in the ring for Junior Class President and accidentally ended up on the presidential ballot.

But I digress.

The point is, there's a lot of name calling going on.  A LOT of name calling.  Like, if my Facebook feed were my children, they would all get sent to their rooms for approximately 365 years level of name calling.  Which is decidedly uncool.  I mean, if you can't support your candidate without saying "All [other candidate's] supporters deserve to be slowly devoured by flesh eating bacteria" then there is something very, very wrong with you.

So I'll let you in on a little secret.  Ready...?  I don't care which candidate you support in the election.  Like, not even a little.  You know what I care about?

What kind of person you are.

Are you compassionate?  Are you kind?  Do you try to understand where others are coming from?  When someone's views conflict with your own, do you malign their character and insult their intelligence?  Or do you listen and consider and learn?

The fact is that there are good people who support Clinton and there are good people who support Trump.  And no matter which candidate you vote for, we can all be friends.  We can all choose kindness.  We can all choose to listen.  We can all choose to love and to help and uplift.

So let's throw away the pitchforks.  Choose kindness.

It wins every time.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Anxiety and a Telephone Walked Into a Bar...

I don't like making phone calls.  I don't like thinking about making phone calls.  I don't like answering the phone, listening to my voicemail, or calling people back.  There are only a handful of people on this planet that I will regularly answer the phone for -- my husband, my sisters, my mom, and my friend, Kristin.  If you are not one of those people and you are trying to get ahold of me, I'm sorry, I'm hiding in my bed recovering from the shock of your calling me WITHOUT ANY WARNING and scaring the bejeebers out of me.

It's not that I'm a wimp.  It's just that only hateful, horrible people still use phone calls to communicate.  (Kidding!  Kidding!  Sort of...)

So you can imagine how being a parent and calling doctors and dentists and schools because my kids "can't do it themselves" (gosh, Jonathan, you're 19 months old!  Make your own appointment!) gives me anxiety comparable to what a normal person might experience if they were about to have their head chopped off with a sword.  Because of that, I only make these phone calls when I really need to.  The problem is, I never know when I really need to.

For example:

Once Michael was running a fever on and off and complaining about his throat hurting for several days.  I called the doctor and arrived for the appointment, whereupon Michael's symptoms magically disappeared as soon as we stepped over the threshold of the waiting room and I got to sit there feeling stupid while the doctor looked him over and pronounced him "perfectly fine."

The next time Michael had similar symptoms I thought, it's not that bad.  I don't need to call the doctor.  And then he developed a mysterious rash all over his body, so I made an appointment and the doctor said, "He has scarlet fever!  Why didn't you bring him in three days ago??"


But seriously, you send your kid to school with an upset stomach and he vomits all over his desk.  You keep the same kid home and he's bouncing off the walls three minutes after the tardy bell rings.  No matter what, there will be phone calls.  And no matter what, you'll be wrong.

Which is why I think the entire world should operate solely by text and email.  Communication in loco phonentis.  Who's with me?

If you're with me, please send me a text.

Only hateful people make phone calls.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Olympics Bingo

After watching the women of Team USA spend their entire pursuit of Olympic Beach Volleyball glory picking their swimsuits out of their butt cracks, I thought, "This should be a drinking game!"  ("Kerri Walsh-Jennings saves it!  And pauses once again to stop her bikini from performing a colonoscopy!"...)

But I don't drink.  So I made Olympics Bingo instead.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Picture Perfect

I keep getting tagged on Facebook in those love-your-spouse-rah-rah-marriage things.  Which is awesome because I love my spouse and I love marriage and I especially love snorting my way through everyone's photographic evidence of Aquanet and wedding dresses with shoulder pads.  (I mean, how is it that nobody in the eighties looked in the mirror and thought, good heavens, WE SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS?)

Marriage is awesome!  And my husband is particularly awesome!  But we aren't perfect people and our marriage takes work.  Which is why this is my all-time-favorite photo of the two of us together:  

Awww.  Isn't that adorable? 

But the reason it's my favorite picture isn't because of what you can see, it's because of what you can't see.

If you could slip through the camera lens into this memory, you'd see my 19-month-old twins screaming and crying as they tried to climb up my legs.  You'd see a four-year-old dumping an entire bottle of water inside my diaper bag as he searched for a fruit snack.  You'd see that it was a cold day in October and that my pants were covered in snot because both babies had bad colds and had been using my legs as a kleenex for the entire photoshoot.  You'd see that the reason we were laughing is because there is nothing less romantic than two screaming toddlers trying to claw their way up your thighs as a photographer says things like, "Look like you love you each other!"

But in this picture you see none of that.  You don't even see how red my nose was from the chilly temperatures, thanks to a quick switch from color to sepia tones.  What you see is only part of the story, captured from only one angle.  And isn't that the case with all of our marriages?  We have perfect moments, and perfect snapshots, and we tend to share only those perfect portions of our lives with others.  But what we share is never the whole picture.

And the whole of this picture is what makes me love it.  Knowing what we've worked for and been through and survived and that right there in the center of our family's little universe my husband and I will be laughing and crying and sticking it out together for the rest of eternity.  Because family IS the whole picture.

Imperfect parts and all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Church of the Holy Toddler of Terror

Church is at 1:00.  I have a toddler.  Combining these two things is basically like taking a jar of highly unstable anti-matter out for a game of kickball and hoping it won't break open and destroy the known universe.

LDS (Mormon) congregations are divided by geographical boundaries, and are assigned a meeting time that rotates yearly.  In our meetinghouse, one year you have meetings at 9:00, the next at 11:00, and the next at 1:00.  In our case, due to our large size (which necessitates the use of every single classroom in the building), we are stuck on a permanent hell-cycle of 1:00 church for the foreseeable future. 


Okay, I love church.  I really do.  It's where I need to be every Sunday, and it's where my kids need to be -- even the one who has to miss his nap.  I have no doubts about this, which is why I go.  The blessings of church attendance are real, and the gospel is true, even if you don't get to hear a word that is said.  But have you been to church with a toddler in the middle of his regular nap time?  Because it's about the only thing that makes me consider taking up drinking.

Every week is mostly the same.  The only thing that really varies is how much Excedrin I need after the meetings are over.  Every once in awhile I find myself hearing one sentence of what must be a really good lesson and thinking, "Wow, no one is bothering me.... INCOMING!" and then I have to duck as my toddler tries to whack me in the head with his sippy cup.

Last Sunday I pulled a book out of The Church Bag (what goes in The Church Bag stays in The Church Bag until the following Sunday), opened it, and my oldest son looked at it quizzically and then slowly peeled back what appeared to be a perfectly preserved specimen of a fruit snack from the cenozoic era.  Approximate quiet time afforded by said book:  30 seconds.

Each week is a variation on how long The Church Bag can ensure quietness.  You pull out another book or quiet toy, but the toddler rejects it by throwing it at the person in front of him.  You apologize.  Then three seconds later you apologize for the fact that he just pulled that person's hair. He tries to escape down the aisle and you block his exit only to have him crumble to the ground and shriek like he is being devoured by piranhas.  You hand him a piece of cheese to shut him up, but remember too late that breaking a whole food item into pieces causes the food to undergo a chemical change that makes it taste like cat pee.  Your toddler reacts accordingly.  Your other kids pick this moment to renew their fight over who gets to sit on Mom's lap.

Just before the passing of the sacrament, your toddler develops a strange sensation behind his eyelids that causes him to whine and claw at his eyeballs like someone filled them with flesh-eating sand.  He wipes a combo of snot and graham cracker crumbs up the entire length of your navy blue sleeve.  Gah, why did you wear navy blue?  That's a rookie mistake.  He squawks like a dying parrot.  Your husband takes him out in the hall.  Your other kids dive onto your now-vacant lap like it's the gold medal in an Olympic sport.

Your husband returns ten minutes later with a sleeping toddler drooling down the arm of his suit coat.  You think, "I should really get that suit coat dry cleaned."  You touch it up with a wipie instead.  Your toddler snoozes till the closing hymn and then wakes up with a disease I like to call Angry Waking Syndrome.

You hand him a toy, he yells.  You hand him some food, he tries to slap it out of your hand.  You open a book, he throws it.  You take him out in the hall and he falls to the floor and wails.  Even if a miracle occurs and he decides he's happy, he's happy at too loud of a level.  Minus the short sleeping period on Dad's shoulder, you repeat this scenario for the next two hours.  You consider it a win if nobody hauls you out in a straitjacket by the end.  You mark another survival X on your calendar -- THREE MORE MONTHS TILL HE IS OLD ENOUGH FOR NURSERY CLASS.

It's hard.  And it's flat-out awful sometimes.  I mean, the highlight of my meetings this past Sunday was when Jonathan gagged himself on a piece of cheese stick and I had to run him out of Relief Society just in time to catch the first heave of his stomach in my hands as he threw up all over the floor.  Bless those beautiful ladies who came running out after me and used their powers of helpfulness to grab my diaper bag and paper towels, offer support, and help me CLEAN VOMIT OUT OF THE CARPET.  (I think this act alone assures someone a place in the Celestial Kingdom.  Bless you, Kim!)  But I'll keep going.  And I'll keep doing it.  Because church on Sunday is where I need to be.

Straitjacket and all.