Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Dieting is one of those things that consumes you.  I mean, literally takes over your life to the point where all you can think about is food.  What am I going to eat next?  How many calories do I have left?  What am I going to have for dinner three weeks from now when I finally get to put aside the calorie counting for one meal?  Why do those chocolate cake donuts have to have 500 calories apiece?  Why???

It's like when I was potty-training Matthew and Leah at the same time (do not try this at home).  I felt like I was the living embodiment of those old anti-drug commercials where someone was frying an egg: This is your brain.  This is your brain on potty training.  This is your brain stopping by to inform you that your son just peed in the pantry.

But you know what helped?  Chocolate.

You know what helps when you're dieting?

Yeah... nothing.  It's not true, what they tell you.  Everything tastes better than being skinny feels.

But honestly, I've been soooo good.  And by that I mean I haven't tried to kill my husband even though he always has like 500 calories left at the end of the day.  However, I think the universe is conspiring against me. Exhibit A:

At church on Sunday I was sitting next to a woman who opened her purse to reveal a GIANT BAG OF CHOCOLATE.  Rolos.  Snickers.  Twix bars.  It was all there.  "Do you want one?" she asked innocently, as if she couldn't see my tongue hanging out like I'd just turned into a Labrador retriever.

But I was good.  I only took one teeny tiny 42 calorie bite-size Snickers.  Phew.  Self-control asserted. 

And then she started handing me more chocolate.  And not just like "Here, save these for later" chocolate.  She was UNWRAPPING Snickers bars and handing them to me.  UNWRAPPED SNICKERS BARS.  IN MY HANDS.

What was I supposed to do?  Let it melt?  Say, "No, thank you."?  People, she was handing me UNWRAPPED CHOCOLATE BARS.  I mean, if I hadn't been dieting, this would have been a dream come true.  "Yeah, baby, keep it coming!  Momma needs a pair of size 16 pants!"

As it was, I was panicking.  Which felt weird, you know - panicking over food.  But I'm obsessive about saving calories for a treat at the end of the day, and if I eat my treat at 3:00 in the afternoon, what am I going to do when 8:00 comes around?

In the end I ate two candy bars, slipped two into my purse to mingle with the used kleenexes, and was able to find the appropriate words to refuse a fifth.  But now I have Post Traumatic Snickers Refusal Disorder.  I mean, I refused chocolate. FREE chocolate.  What is the point in living?

Please don't say it's flax seed.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

"Being a mother is not the most important job in the world."

Nor is it the hardest, according to columnist Catherine Deveny.  Even if motherhood were a "professional" job, she says, "there is no way [it] could be the hardest when compared to working 16 hours a day in a clothing factory in Bangladesh, making bricks in an Indian kiln, or being a Chinese miner. Nor could it ever be considered the most important job in comparison with a surgeon who saves lives, anyone running a nation, or a judge deciding on people’s destiny."

Well, yes... if you think that this life is all there is.

But if it is indeed true that God's work and glory -- that is, His whole purpose for creating this world and sending us to live in it -- is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," well, then raising children is a heck of a lot more important than turning in your quarterly reports on time.

But even placing religious beliefs aside, I find Ms. Deveny's arguments difficult to swallow:  "If being a mother is that important," she says, "why aren’t all the highly paid men with stellar careers not devoting their lives to raising children? After all, I never hear "being a father is the most important job in the world".

It couldn't be the simple fact that if fathers and mothers both devoted 100% of their time to raising children we'd all starve, could it?  Nope.  If parenthood were truly that noble, we'd all sit around in glowing family circles while the government dropped manna from Washington on our heads...

Ms. Deveny insists that declaring motherhood the most "important" job "only encourages mothers to stay socially and financially hobbled [and] alienates fathers..."  But she doesn't understand that the two roles go hand in hand, that one cannot diminish the importance of fatherhood by elevating motherhood, just as one cannot diminish motherhood by elevating fatherhood.  There is no one without the other, as much as society would like us to believe otherwise, and there is no more important job for a man than being a father.  That he goes to work to support his family does not change this fact.  It simply means that meeting the needs of his family is a necessary part of his fatherhood.  To suggest that his doing so somehow exposes the insignificance of parenthood in general is unbelievably clueless.

What Ms. Deveny fails to recognize is that when we speak of motherhood being "harder" or "more important" than other jobs, it is not a statement of comparative day-to-day tasks and which is technically more difficult.  It is a statement of value.  It is an understanding that these children will grow and influence hundreds and thousands who come after them.  And beyond that, it is an understanding that there is more than this life and more than this world, that raising children is about souls and eternities -- not bodies and time.

"No other success can compensate for failure in the home."  No other job will ever be as important or as meaningful as raising your children.  When we are all dead, it won't matter if we sat at a desk or performed heart surgery or worked in a coal mine.  It won't matter if we were a CEO or a CPA.  But it will matter if we taught our children to choose good.  It will matter if we raised our children to do good.  And it will matter not just for them, but for generations who come after them.

That sounds pretty important to me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Not long after Halloween I was watching a friend's kids while she was at a work meeting.  Before long, the youngest appeared with a Dum Dum sucker in his mouth.  I hate suckers.  Hate them.  If any substance deserves a Dishonorable Mention plaque in hell, it's licked suckers.

I cursed his mother inwardly.  "Really?  You sent your kid to my house with a sucker?"  Besides the inevitable whining that would occur when the other kids discovered there was candy to be had, I really didn't want to be snipping a half-eaten sucker out of my carpet.

Not long after, he appeared with Fun Dip.  "A Dum Dum sucker and Fun Dip?" I fumed.

Over the next hour I watched him come up from the basement (where all the kids were playing together) no less than six times to throw away various candy wrappers.  I was turning into Harry in Home Alone:  Retchafretchinfridgin...!  "What kind of mother sends that much candy with her kid??"  Just as I was I was about to march downstairs and confiscate the rest of his candy -- "I don't care how much candy your mother allows you to have, this is ridiculous!" -- Michael appeared with the tell-tale evidence of blue Fun Dip painted around his lips.

"Michael, where did you get that candy?!  Did (small child) give it to you?"

"No, the Halloween candy bowl is downstairs," he said, as unremarkably as if he were commenting on his fingernails.

"OUR candy bowl?" I asked, suddenly horrified.  "Why didn't you tell me?!"

"I didn't bring it down there," he shrugged.

Upon investigation I discovered that our previously full-to-capacity Halloween candy bowl was indeed sitting downstairs... completely empty but for a few inedible candies that only ancient grannies like to eat.  Yes, in one hour six children (three of them small enough to need regular help in the restroom) had barreled their way through more than 100 pieces of candy.  "I only had seven pieces," said Michael righteously, amidst a mountain of empty wrappers and half chewed banana laffy taffys.  "Maybe eight."

When my friend came to pick up her kids I had to confess that I had been judging her while her children had spent their time gorging themselves on my candy bowl.  "If anyone barfs tonight, I'm so sorry," I said.

She laughed her head off.

And I ended the day a little less judgmental.  Kinda like this:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Dieter's Lament

It's January, which means I am on a diet.

Incidentally, I hate all of you.  It's not your fault, necessarily.  It's just that my kids get to eat more than I do and that makes me really cranky.  Of course, if I spent my day running from one thing to the next and jumping up and down for no reason, I could eat more too, but who wants to take responsibility for their own actions?  Aren't we still supposed to be blaming Bush?

Sunday night David made my most favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (For the recipe, click here.  We leave out the nuts and double the chocolate chips to 2 cups).  After starving myself for half the afternoon to allow myself a more satisfying treat than "If you are a good girl you can look at this candy bar in its wrapper for a whole five minutes" David carefully measured and calculated that each little 2 tsp. cookie was 82 calories.  I ate seven.  He swore he would take the rest to work the next morning.  Instead, he left for work and there they were, staring at me from the counter.  At 8:49 AM I received a text from him:

"Dang.  I forgot to bring the cookies.  And that screw."

"And now I have a kitchen full of cookies," I replied.  "Talk about screwed."

Which brings me to a question: why can't cookies be healthy and celery be like, a thousand calories per stalk?  Because I never get tired of baked goods.  Celery, on the other hand... all I have to do is open the fridge and I've had my fill for the next seventy years.  Yeah, I know normal people get tired of sweet stuff, but if I were one of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness and manna tasted like brownies, by the time everyone else started complaining about wanting something else to eat I'd be like "Nah, I'm good.  Are you going to finish that?"

Brownies... how I miss you.

Actually, you know what I miss most?  Milk.  I LOVE milk.  I would drink it all day if it weren't for the fact that water was all snooty and calorie-free.

The good news is that I don't have to pull that old "There are starving children in China" bit when it comes to getting my kids to eat their dinner.  I can just yell, "Your mother is starving right here at this table, and you don't want to eat?!"  Then I can burst in to tears while they finish their broccoli in stunned silence.


I said I was cranky.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmas 2013

For those who missed the print version:

Dear Family and Friends,

Great news!  If you read last year’s Christmas letter there is no need to read this one!  (You’re welcome!)  Nothing has changed except our pant sizes (can we help it if Costco keeps selling those delectable peppermint truffles?) and the fact that our kids are now one year older and sneakier.  Luckily, we were children ourselves once and already know the “stuff all your toys in your closet” trick.  And the “hide food you don’t like in your napkin” trick.  (Hear that, kids?)

Leah (age 3) is the cutest and girliest girl you will ever meet.  (If scientists ever study her DNA they will discover she is made solely of pink sparkles and fancy jewelry).  She has had a busy year trying to earn her angel wings, and not just by pulling over an entire dresser and escaping death by an inch (speaking of angels...)  She often wanders around the house clothed in self-righteousness, pointing out whenever someone is doing something naughty that she is not.  “I’m not using potty words,” she’ll say, right before clawing someone in the eyeball to make off with his toys.  (You know how the saying goes:  Every time a sibling cries, an “angel” dons her wings...).
Matthew (age 3) also tried to earn his angel wings this summer by diving in the pool when no one was watching and traumatizing his mother for life.  (Just writing this is giving her heart palpitations).  Thanks to Divine Intervention he is totally fine, and apparently his brush with death has given him a greater sense of purpose:  he has now permanently donned the cape and cowl of Batman and can be seen saving stuffed animals, fighting the injustice of broccoli being served for dinner, and looking out for his twin sister...  unless she has something he wants, in which case it’s every three-year-old for himself.

Matthew and Leah started preschool in August, and we are not sure who is enjoying it more.  Oh, who are we kidding?  Of course Mom is enjoying it more!  Do you know how much easier it is to shop without the assistance of three goats kids?  No one ever glares at you or asks you to leave the store or anything!

Michael’s (age 7) reading skills have taken off, which means Mom has had to quit being so lazy about leaving her Christmas list lying around.  It also means more awkward questions now that he can read signs about mating giraffes at the zoo.  He is taking piano lessons and enjoying the French immersion program in first grade.  He also has a very mathematical mind and can do all sorts of addition and multiplication in his head.  Oddly, he still has trouble when Mom gives him to the count of three...

David loves his kids so much it was literally causing pain in his jaw.  Apparently he clenches his teeth every time he hugs them, which, last time I counted, was about 975 times a day.  (You can see how this would become a problem...).  He is still working at (company), serving in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency, and wishing he had enough time for a hobby. 

And finally, in spite of the fact that Bonnie spends most of her time trying to teach her kids what does and does not belong in the toilet,  (Things that don’t?  Buzz Lightyear, Spiderman, towels, shoes, and entire rolls of toilet paper.  Don’t ask how she knows this…) she loves her kids to pieces and thinks being a stay-at-home mom is the best thing in the world.  When she is not handling potty issues she serves as chair of the Relief Society Welcome Committee.  (This is how we know God has a sense of humor, because He was all, “I know, I’m going to give Bonnie a calling where her entire job is to make phone calls and talk to people she doesn’t know.  Hahahaha!  This is going to be hilarious!”)  In her spare time you can find her reading a book in the bathroom or writing on her blog.  Or hiding in the pantry so she can eat chocolate in peace. 

We love you and hope you have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Love, The Overlys

Why I Had Trouble Deciding Which Pictures to Hang on My Walls

Photos by Julie Kirby (www.simplyouphoto.com)

Family Pictures 2013


Overly 2013-0160.jpg
Photos by Julie Kirby (www.simplyouphoto.com)

Friday, January 3, 2014

I'm Baaaaaaack!

For some reason I'm reminded of the time when my mother was talking on the phone with a woman who could have set the Guinness World Record for longest run-on sentence.  At one point my mom accidentally pulled the phone cord out of the wall, which required her to pull out the couch and spend several minutes fumbling around on the floor to get the cord plugged back in.  When she picked up the receiver expecting to dial back, the woman was still talking away.  She hadn't even noticed my mom's absence.

Which is kind of how I figure my three remaining readers are feeling right now.  Like, oh, you're back?I didn't notice you were gone!

I'd tell you why I haven't been blogging, but it's a really boring story.  And besides, I made the mistake of asking someone once why she hadn't been blogging and she said, "I've been too busy living life to blog about it."  Pssssh.  You don't have to be such a snot about it.

But since I like the fresh start of a new year as much as anyone, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you that I didn't achieve a single one of my goals last year.  Not one.  Which is why my goals this year are eat more brownies and get out of bed before noon.

(What? You're supposed to make goals that are achievable!)

Of course, goals are also supposed to be quantifiable, so in that case, three brownies a day ought to do it.  Never mind about my goal to not be the fattest one at the family reunion this summer... 

Truthfully, I sort of achieved one of my goals last year, which was to finish this book with Michael.  We got to like lesson 86 and then I decided that since he could sound out words like "lasciviousness" in our morning scripture reading, he was going to be fine.  Now he reads so well that I can't let him look over my shoulder while I'm sending emails to Grandma or he makes me edit out reports of his misbehavior.

New goal: only send emails when Michael is in school.

Happy New Year!