Friday, May 28, 2010

Celebration: Duggars and Holidays

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to those of you in the United States! Those of you in Canada and overseas, I wish you a wonderful weekend as well. I am visiting my parents for the holiday and will be checking in, and if time permits hopefully posting a few new posts (I had a chance to watch some Duggar dvds on the way up--bless my husband for having the foresight to have DVD players installed in my car for long trips!--and have some new ideas, but for now here is the post on holidays, as requested! Safe weekend travels to those of you traveling and to friends and relatives traveling.

We've seen a few holiday celebrations on the show, but not very many, when you really think about it. I have a few theories--they share their lives and their Faith with us, but at the same time, they do want to keep some things to themselves. TLC also seems to move around when the Duggars are on the air--sometimes it's through the winter, sometimes it's in the spring. What holidays have we seen?

I think we can all clearly remember seeing the episode on St. Patrick's Day. Michelle, herself, made a special effort to research who St. Patrick was because of her own Irish heritage. I found this a little bit interesting--as a homeschool mom, wouldn't it have been a great opportunity for her KIDS to do a project on it? They had a huge green breakfast that was clearly over the top and probably done just for the show that day. And hearing about how the green dye affected everyone's digestive system later was ...too much information.

We've seen, if I recall, two Christmas episodes, but one was with Josie in Little Rock. The first was the Duggars in a parade, not really them showing us their Christmas morning opening presents, and Christmas traditions. I think they do try to keep some things private and personal. I believe that's why we've never seen them on Thanksgiving--afterall we've seen them film during the season, but skip over the holiday. It could be they have family and friends that don't want to be a part of the show, or it could e that some things they want to keep for themselves. I applaud them on both parts, if that's the case.

There are other holidays we haven't seen--Fourth of July, Memorial Day, New Year's, Labour Day, President's Day, Martin Luthur King Jr. Day, Columbus Day, St. Valentine's Day, and of course Mother's Day and Father's Day.

I will ammend, we did see Michelle on Mother's Day walking the ducks at the Peabody Hotel. But that was by invitation from someone else. What do the kids do for her on a Mother's Day when the rest of the world isn't celebrating her? What about Jim Bob? Ok we know how Michelle celebrated last year (hahaha) but we haven't seen how his children celebrate him.

Being such patriotic citizens, I would be interested in how they celebrate the 4th of July and if they acknowledge President's Day. Being homeschooled, they don't have day's off for Martin Luthur King Jr. Day and President's Day and Memorial Day, yet they are still very important days in our history. Do they stop to remember what those days mean? I remember when they were all waiting to find out if Jordyn was a boy or a girl and they were in the waiting room talking names--John-David was very clear about Jefferson Thomas. He was also the one who wanted quotes from founding fathers on the boy's room wall. A connection there?

I've lived in London, England as my husband is British and I've mentioned that's where I gave birth to my daughter, and I became familiar (well not really because frankly I'm still confused by what the term really means) with "bank holidays." And this weekend here in the states we are celebrating Memorial Day--officially it's on Monday, but as we have become accustomed, it's not "Memorial Day Weekend." Memorial Day is when we honour those who we've lost in battle, or those that have served and are now gone. The boy scouts will go put an American flag on my father's grave and since I will be in town, I will go place a bouquet there as well. My father served in Korea in the Navy before meeting and marrying my mother. Do the Duggars honour those who have fallen with any kind of special acknowledgement?

It will be interesting to see what the upcoming Season and beyond hold for us. Will we get to glimpse into the lives of the Duggars and their holiday celebrations?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jim Bob: Producer, Not a Puppet or PuppetMaster

Two different readers have brought up two different points/questions regarding the Duggars and I thought I might respond by putting the answers in one place. One reader asked about a post that was put on another Duggar blog that was written by Anna Keller's brother-in-law after the wedding episode, depicting what went on behind the scenes. He is careful to point out that he does not know the Duggars, but that his post is merely to clear up any misinformation out there about the Kellers and Kellers alone. He was not happy about having to sign a waiver to appear on camera, when he was first told it was optional, so he refused (he was there for Anna not to be on TV) and then when everyone was standing up on stage (he was a groomsman, his wife, Anna's older sister and owner of Anna's wedding dress, was a bride'smaid) was he then publicly confronted to sign the waiver or he wouldn't be in the wedding--apparently his wife never signed one and appeared, according to the brother-in-law, on the show illegally. There were other examples of staged incidents and questions of the Duggars being "in control" or not.

The entire letter he wrote is very long, so I copied and pasted it into the comment section, if you want to read it.

So the question was, are the Duggars puppets to TLC, especially with all the seemingly staged trips, or are they laughing all the way to the bank. The other remark was from someone who, like me, doesn't share in the Duggar's religious beliefs, but respects them, and enjoys watching them. I put these two together because it struck me as another case of "watching between the lines." I still, naive as it may sound, believe the Duggars are doing this show for honest and upright reasons. I also don't think they let it control their lives--otherwise it would be many many more shows than it is, I could be wrong, but doesn't the Kate show have many more episodes than the Duggars do?

I do think that the Duggars are put in situations that they normally wouldn't think to put themselves in since the show started--trips, outings, etc--and that is due to TLC, but I think they are enjoying them and using those trips to their advantage, not necessarily in a money way, but in a homeschooling way, behind the scenes--again speculation. I think a lot goes on behind the scenes we don't know about--I personally believe they have a "tv life" and a "private life" since this show isn't a documentary, it's set up "theme-style." I have no doubt that TLC pulls some strings. However, I don't believe for a minute that the Duggars would allow their morals, or Faith to be compromised for one moment--if that were to happen, I think they'd walk and walk fast. After all I think that's why Jim Bob's name is listed as a Producer, so he has final say--they said they would only do this if their Faith wasn't edited out. And this Producer credit is apparently new, he wasn't always listed as such, and that may be due to some things that have happened during filming that the Duggars weren't pleased with, or he's just a brilliant business man, or both.

I don't think anyone believes, even the real Duggar believers, for a moment that all the trips are Duggar-planned. While in Little Rock, I'm sure that Jim Bob does want to get the kids out of the house and keep them occupied, as well he should--it's best to remind them that they are still important parts of the family and that while Josie is sick and needs attention, they need attention too. I think TLC is just helping him find places to take them and making those trips easier to come by and making access easier--and in the stressful situation they are going through personally, I'd take the help and just go with it. Back before they had this personal trauma to deal with, I think they took TLC up on the offers of help finding outings, but still used those outings to their advantage on a homeschool basis--of course not all trips on their face will be appropriate for all age kids--but you can, if you work it right, can find something out of any of those trips, to make a valid project for any age homeschooler. Also, trips are trips and experiences are experiences, and regardless of whether they are relevant to school or not, they still are interesting and exciting for the kids and help build up who they are and where they've been.

Jim Bob is not a minister or a man of the cloth. He is a man of Faith, but he is not ordained. He is a real estate investor and former politician and former car salesman. He is a businessman. So, yes, I have no doubt he is constantly eyeing the bottom line. Why shouldn't he? He's in his mid-40s and still has kids in diapers! Even if he does have money coming in from TLC he still has to manage it wisely because he has a large family and it will be at least 20 years before Josie leaves the nest, plus he and Michelle have to think of their retirement.

I have said this before and I will say this again--they do not have a gauge for fame in the TV sense of the word. They don't watch regular television, they don't pay attention to modern media or music, so they have nothing to compare themselves to. Even when asked who Dolly Parton was, someone who had chart topping hits back when they were both in high school and able to listen to her music, didn't know what she was famous for. So when it comes to their own personal fame in regards to television, they have nothing to compare it to. They do, of course, know that they are a famous family, however it could be because you've seen them in People, or on the Today show. For all they know you're waving at them because they are a large family--remember in the first documentary, they said they always got approached long before TLC came knocking. In that respect, they can be naive to what "fame" is.

So because of that, I have no problem in believing that they are true to their word that they are really trying to be an encouragement for others---it's not about fame. I don't have a problem with them being paid a deserving wage for their time and trouble, after all it's not all wine and roses, as we've seen having a camera crew wake you up at 5am as you're leaving on a trip to the airport. I do think there are days they probably wish there wasn't someone following them around, even if that someone has become "part of the family."

That's my take--I will say this, I do feel for the brother-in-law. He was torn. He and his wife did want to be there to support Anna and the Keller family. However, I think he should have been a little more realistic...he and his wife knew going into it, long before they showed up for the wedding that it was going to be filmed for TV and they knew long before they showed up for the wedding that they didn't want to be filmed. I think he either should have signed the waiver without making a fuss about it or opted out of the wedding and done something else to support Anna and the Kellers. Obviously he was angry because he was reading things on the blog about the Kellers that he didn't like and he was blaming it all on TLC, I get that, but what I don't get is that Anna's parents knew from Day 1 that Josh and Josh's family were on a TV show--they said that in their first interview--we like them, not because they are on tv, but because they are great people, or something like that. So Anna's parent's knew what was coming--the rest of her family had to have known too. I think he was kind of out of line about it--did TLC deceive him about the waiver? We only have his word on how it happened, and if they did, that was wrong, but anyone knows, and he obviously seems to know how it works, that if you appear on tv you have to sign a waiver, and he said from the beginning that he didn't want to appear. So again, I ask, why even agree to be in the wedding? You can politely decline and give the reason "I don't want to be on TV." The Kellers, being the nice people he says they are, certainly would have understood. He could have been an usher, done something off screen. Is it just me?

Pulling this together, I think the Duggars have managed to stay on top of their world, without compromising their values, beliefs, or morals. The wedding episode aside, I do think that TLC probably has a lot to say about the episodes, but I do believe that Jim Bob and Michelle have veto-power over what happens and what gets onto the screen. I have no doubt that the wedding day was insane--even without a film crew show me a wedding day that isn't a mad one ready for pictures? Sounds like my first wedding. Actually it sounds typical of any wedding, just add a camera crew and waiver signing. I do feel badly that the Kellers weren't portrayed as well as he feels they should have, I don't remember them being portrayed badly--however this show isn't about the Kellers, it's about the Duggars. Now, at least, we know why we don't see more of the Kellers--Mr. and Mrs. Keller aren't fans of being on film. I think brother-in-law was overly defensive over remarks on a blog by people being mean to his in-laws (the Kellers) and he vented at TLC about it, I probably would too if I saw my in-laws being called horrible names by faceless people who didn't know them. But when it comes down to it, I think the Duggars are not puppets of TLC and doubtful they ever will be. I think their entire mission is to be an encouragment to as many as they can--just the sight of them with Sara and Samuel in the NICU should prove that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jill Duggar: Spokesperson For a New Generation

It's only been recently that Jill has come into my radar and she really is a vibrant personality. As I search back my memory to the first two seasons (the only two I have on DVD) I have vivid memories of Jana and Jessa and Jinger doing interviews, and a few of Jill, but it seems that it's this season that Jill is making her big break out and we're seeing more and more of her. I did write a piece a few months ago about not seeing much of Jana and the speculation around that, but Jill has been all over the past few episodes of recent memory.

Jill is the daughter that Michelle has described as being neat and orderly--never having her shoes scuffed or her dressed ruffled. She does a great job wrangling the kids without losing her temper or getting frustrated--at least when the camera is within range, and she seems to have about 8 arms--she can grab a kid here while holding a kid on her hip, while pulling a kid off of this, while yanking a kid down from that...

I just watched the episode where they went to the zoo and seeing Jill handle her siblings was nothing short of amazing. The other thing that was telling about this episode is that we really did get to see that, no, this family is not perfect, these kids are not robots, and they are not little angels. All the older girls, while doing their jurisdictions and pulling their weight do not all have the same personalities and same patience levels--Jinger was clearly not at ease with the little ones in the same way Jill was. And that's good, that's what we want to see, we want to see reality, not pre-packaged perfection that anti-Duggars seem to think TLC is feeding us.

She is very calm, very open, and very at ease on camera. She is probably at ease with the public as well. I'm sure by now she's used to people coming up to her family when they are out and about and I have no doubts that she's capable of having a polite conversation with people she's just met. I see a nurse in Jill Duggar.

I have no doubt that these glimpses into Jill's personality and capabilities with her siblings, especially the young ones will show us how well she could do with NICU babies should she choose to pursue that career as was earlier reported. Nursing isn't easy--it was my major as a Freshman before I switched to English and then again in Graduate School before I swithced to Social Sciences. It's more than taking the classes and absorbing the material--it's almost a calling, a drive, a need to do that type of healing. Not everyone has that in them, even if they can pass the courses. I think what we've seen in Jill is the drive and the calling, I do hope she decides to go through with her goal and make it happen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Daughter-in-Love: Anna Comes Out of Her Shell

I love Anna. I think she and Josh make a great couple, but this isn't abou them, this is about HER. I think that she has done a great job jumping into this family with both feet and taking on a role of "public" life well. Not many people could handle being a newlywed (in every sense of the word) and have it filmed for the world to see.

We don't know a lot about Anna's life before Josh, but we know a little, and some things people seem to gloss over. She is constantly referred to as having a "sheltered life." And while that may be true in the sense that she grew up in a home school/ATI family like Josh did, she wasn't as sheltered as you may think. After all, her father was called to lead a prison ministry for youthful offenders. That took him to juvenile detention centers around Florida. Anna has spoken about helping her father with his ministry after graduating, so visiting youth prisons isn't exactly 'sheltered' in my point of view.

While she has had a different upbringing than Josh, we've seen where she grew up and it wasn't as prosperous as the Duggars, but still a close-knit family full of lots of love, she carries herself with such pride and passion that she is such an equal match for Josh. I read comments that Josh over-powers her and even "abuses" her emotionally, and that just angers me. All I see is Josh the usual camera-hog, but Anna carries herself with a normalcy that "growing up Duggar" hasn't seemed to give Josh (i.e. being on time, waking up in the morning, staying on task.) No I'm not bashing Josh, just remembering the episode when she was trying to get him to put balloons on cars at the carlot!

I think all it took was a season of being on camera to get her out of her shell. This second season of Anna has seen her growing, talking more, really sharing more of her feelings, and personality. She's witty, charming, funny, and not a pious, quiet little mouse that everyone assumed she was at the beginning of their engagement and marriage. I also think at the beginning, especially when she found out she was pregnant, she was intimidated by Michelle, not because of the usual Mother-in-love (that's the term they use) issues, but because, let's face it, she married the son of one of the most famous Mothers there is...and now she's about to be a mother herself! Who wouldn't be intimidated? I think Michelle getting pregnant while Anna was pregnant actually took some pressure off, Anna seemed a little relieved, but if I'm not mistaken, also a little weirded-out--did anyone else catch that?

I think Anna is a great Duggar addition and just might not be the follower that everyone thinks she is. I have a feeling that behind closed doors Josh does a lot of listening.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Duggar Encouragement: Things the Duggars Have Taught Me

While there are some things the Duggars and I will never see eye to eye on, I will say that by watching the show and reading their book, I have learned a few things from them. I'll share mine, and you can share yours.

1) There is always a cheaper place to buy food--I was a bargain food shopper before the Duggars, but they've taught me to always look for a bargain regardless

2) Motels have a "walk-out" rate--you can actually negotiate with hotels/motels for a better rate and not just accept the rate they quote you--who knew? I've never been that bold, until my parents came to stay for a week, and it actually worked--we got them $10 lower than the lowest rate for the entire week by going in person and talking to them directly.

3) Potty training--this is something I am working on now that my daughter is 3--why did I wait? Well Michelle Duggar made a very valid point in their book...why try training them to use the potty before they are old enough to pull down and pull up their own pants by themselves? Otherwise you're in there every single time they have to go anyway, you may as well be changing nappies...we are still in the training phase and it's not going as smoothly as I'd like it to be, but hey, she can pull up and pull down her own pants!

4) Quiet praise and encouragement works better than ranting raving and screaming...even when ranting raving and screaming at your child is what you really feel like doing....

5) If you want your child to grow up in your Faith, have them see you practice your Faith...take them to your place of worship with you, see them read the manuscript your Faith follows and read it to them, pray with them and let them see you pray...

6) Simple meals really can be satifying (not necessarily theirs, but simple ones nonetheless :)

7) It's important to spend quality time with your spouse and share your feelings with him/her no matter how many kids you have or how busy your day has been

8) Children really ARE a blessing

I know there are many many more and will continue to be more as the Duggars continue to share their lives with us....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

20 Kids and Counting?

There's been talk in a few of the comments on a resent post about the new People article and I finally got ahold of it, and here it is:

What does it mean? Well I have a lot to say about it, especially after my blog about "reading between the lines." First of all, I have a lot to say about the "psychologists" they quoted. It angers me that they say it's wrong to put so much "burden" on the older children. I suppose that would be true in a normal situation. However, this is ANYTHING but a normal situation. I think that any family that cares about each other would be bending over backwards to do whatever they could to help each other in a situation like this. Heck, I just had my gallbladder out, a minor procedure these days, where you're home after a few hours and better after a few days (according to my lying surgeon hahaha) and my parents were willing to drive 640 miles to spend a week with us and take care of my daughter for me while my husband kept working. Also, their "older children" are now adults--these "psychologists" don't bother to mention that.

I have nothing against the psychology/psychiatry fields. I've used them in the past. However, unsolicited observations by doctors that have never met the family are ridiculous. I don't recall the Duggars asking for any therapy or advice, rather it was People who asked for someone to anchor the article.

What does amaze me and also impress me is that Michelle and Jim Bob were so frank and honest about their marriage and how they've been with each other during this time. I've said it in other blogs and in this one in the comments that I have noticed on the show that Jim Bob and Michelle are rarely filmed anywhere near each other--not the lovey-dovey couple they usually are, but at the same time they are only filming her either leaving for the hospital or at the hospital. So hearing she spends 15 hrs a day there makes sense as to why. I've also said that she probably hasn't lost any baby weight because she's probably stress eating, she's eating a lot of extra protein and extra fluid to keep the pumping of milk going, and she is getting little or no exercise, so that's why she may look pregnant and not be. I also doubt that they are as intimate as usual because she says she gets up every 4 hours to pump--doesn't sound like a lot of romance going on.

But on the other hand, with fighting comes make-up sex. And in times of stress comes clinging together. It wouldn't surprise me if they are continuing with their intimate relationship. Her comment that was vague "...I don't know, maybe..." says it all. But then, I say that too, because until my cycle starts, I don't know either, since we don't use birth control. I was also told by my nurse in the UK that you are the most fertile right after having a child, so those first few months were vital--but also she was healing--who knows?

I love how this family sticks together, looks forward, holds true to their beliefs, and thinks positively. Baruch Hashem!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Career Gals: Duggar Daughters Talk Careers

On a positive note, Michelle has blogged about Jana and Jills career goals. This should hopefully take some of the wind from the sails of those who choose to believe that the Duggar parents refuse to let their adult female children have lives outside the home. Someone posted these links on a message board if you want to read the entire articles:

Michelle talks about Jana's desire of midwifery or being a doula, however she also discusses a career goal that most of us probably overlooked--teaching and performing with her harp!

Concerning Jana’s interest in midwifery, Michelle says, “Jana has helped with a doula. She hasn’t worked alongside with an actual midwife yet. She’s assisted with labor and delivery, kind of getting her feet wet to see if she really likes that realm of work.” If Jana were to decide to become a midwife, a minimum of one year of clinical training is required, including at least 1,350 hours under the direction of a supervising midwife. A midwife candidate must also pass the North American Registry of Midwives written exam and skills assessment to become certified. Training is less rigorous to become a doula or childbirth educator. However, according to Michelle Duggar, Jana may choose music over midwifery.

“It’s interesting, she’s doing some music studies, and she’s pursuing some more in-depth harp. There’s good money to be made in harp-playing because it’s not something a lot of people do,” said Mom Michelle of her oldest daughter. All of the Duggar children learn how to play a musical instrument at an early age. Jana Duggar has excelled at the harp. She also gives music lessons to others. “Music is something she likes to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if she became a music teacher eventually,” Michelle added.

I posted this on another blog that discusses the Duggars to let everyone know (anti-Duggars mostly) that Jana is looking at her future and it isn't all babies and family. It angers me when people just assume that the girls in this family have nothing to look forward to but a life of babies and family--UNLESS THAT'S WHAT THEY CHOOSE! Frankly, that's what I never turned out to be something I enjoyed, but a lot of women DO want careers, my mom loved her job and it was a huge part of her life and who she was before she retired.

And now Jill has decided that nursing really is her passion, especially after seeing Josie in the NICU. Michelle says that Jill is currently checking into nursing courses at nearby colleges. “I can see her doing that. She just literally loves people,“ mom said of her second daughter. “It takes a special person to be a nurse and to be in that realm. She’s definitely interested in that, so we’ll see,” Michelle added on her most recent TLC blog entry. Frankly, I CAN see Jill as a nurse. She is the one who is the care-taker, the patient, kind, over-seer. I have no doubt that Jill has what it takes to make it through a nursing program. And luckily there are several to choose from right in her back yard. Arkansas has 17 different nursing programs at colleges, universities and medical centers. The closest one to her home is the Har-Ber School of Nursing, located right in Springdale. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Baptist Medical Center are two of the state's largest and most popular nursing programs in Arkansas.

It angers me when people assume that Jim Bob and Michelle have their children's lives mapped out for them. Jim Bob and Michelle constantly talk about G-d giving people the gift of free will--why wouldn't they allow their children to exercise it?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Duggar Fan or Duggar Maniac?

Someone on a message board brought up the point that none of us personally know the Duggars, so why are we posting that they are "such great parents." How do we really know this from what we see on TV? Frankly, I've been accused as a blog-writer of being too one-sided and not seeing the Duggars for what they really are--whatever that person seems to think they really are. I supposed since it's been awhile and people are now only reading the new blog posts, I'm getting the idea that no one reads the "what this blog is all about" post at the beginning, so it's time to reiterate my stance on the Duggars and my own personal beliefs--and what lays between.

There is a lot that I don't agree with when it comes to Duggar Dogma. The first one is obvious and that is I'm not Christian, I'm Jewish. I also happen to be pro-choice and I also happen to be pro-gay marriage, not only that, but I'm very vocal and vote those two opinions. I was also raised by conservative Old Testament parents (Presbyterians) so they weren't strict about fundamentalism or evangelism, but with a mother who taught chemistry and biology I was also taught that evolution and the Bible weren't contradictory--they could walk hand in hand and make sense with each other. Before you ask, I was adopted and my birth mother was Jewish.

I am also smart, sorry if that sounds egotistical, but get over it. I went to college, I have degrees, and frankly and IQ off the charts. Yeah yeah, I'm trying to be honest here. I know how to read between the lines, and with a TV show like the Duggars, you have to read between the lines a lot to see the deeper meaning, and see what's really going on. I also watch the episodes more than once. I've also read their book and read the magazine articles that pop up here and there, so I have a general knowledge of what's known publicly about the Duggar family. I've admitted that I'm lazy and unwilling to a lot of research to go back and fact-check as well as having a "mommy" memory, so when I get it wrong, I admit it after someone around here corrects me.

Now let's go back a step and talk about reading between the lines. It seems to me that a lot of anti-Duggars seem to take a lot of Duggar activities on face value and I think that's wrong. I think you have to look deeper, especially when there are that many children in the frame, that much action going on, and truly analyze the situation. My other point here is that you also need to watch the show from Season One and know the family from the beginning--watching one or two episodes from Season Four and deciding the family is this way or that way, isn't making an educated observation. You also have to understand circumstances, their past, their history, their beliefs (seriously understand and know their beliefs, not just think you know their beliefs), and base your statements on some facts.

I've also said you need to understand what this family is currently going through emotionally, and that's something the anti-Duggar faction seems to be refusing to do. Instead of acknowledging that a premie can happen via pre-eclampsia at any time to any one (it happened to me to my first and only baby) they are blaming Michelle for Josie's premature birth because Michelle chose to have 19 kids.

Now here is where I do have something in common with the Duggars. I've been to a NICU to visit my baby. I've walked those halls and been through those doors and I've dreaded every minute of it. I HATED going every single time I had to go and I had to force myself to do it. I hated having the nurses watch over me, I hated having them stand over me as I fed her, changed her nappy, and put on her new clothes, and most of all I hated that I couldn't just check her out and take her home. I hated that in the NICU, I wasn't her mommy. I had to wait for 2 weeks to be the mommy to my newborn. Now that sounds like nothing to a lot of people, but to my husband and me, it was a lifetime, especially when you waited a lifetime to have a child.

So do I understand why Jim Bob and Michelle took an offer to go to Wisconsin to speak at a conference why Josie was in the NICU? Yes, I do. Did I get flack for it from an anti-Duggar? Yes I did. Do I care? No, I don't. Why? Because I've been where Jim Bob and Michelle are and it sucks...sorry, but that's what it sucks the life right out of you...and if that's what it takes, a weekend away, what if it's a conference where you're the speakers. Who cares? Their daughter was in the best possible hands she could have been in, what could Jim Bob and Michelle done for her if they had still been in Little Rock? Frankly I think it's just another think for anti-Duggars to complain about.

I respect the Duggar family for their ability to hang together when the times get tough and when the times are good. I respect their ability to raise a family the way they want to and have it work. The fact that they can put together a plan and have it come together amazes me since I can barely get my day together, let alone a life plan. Yes, I respect them. I enjoy watching the show for their financial advice and as a romantic hope to see some weddings coming up, but as far as manical fan? I wouldn't go there.

Now back to what this blog was going to be about.....the rest of the fans....we've covered about everyone else? Are they over the top in their glorification of Jim Bob and Michelle? Are they right to post things about how inspirational the Duggars are? Frankly I don't have a problem with that, after all, that was the point of the show from the Duggar's standpoint in the beginning. They wanted a show that inspired others to be better people, not necessarily better Christians, just better people.

Do I think people sometimes think the Duggars are perfect? I think some fans get over-zealous in their defense of the Duggars on fan pages and that's a little sad. The Duggars themselves will admit QUICKLY that they are not perfect. The Duggars have many flaws and we all, as fans, can list our own things about the Duggars that bother us (no need to) but that doesn't mean we still don't admire them and have aspirations to be more like them in some small ways. I didn't say everyway, I said some small ways.

I do think it's important as fans to remember that the Duggars are real people, just like the rest of us. They make mistakes, they stumble, they sin, they fail, and they fall. Do we see this on their TV show? Not very often if at all. Why? It's not entertainment. Seeing Josie in the NICU is drama enough, the rest of the episode is play time.

I think everyone needs to read their book and that will ground a lot of their fans. It might also educate a lot of their detractors. Their fans will realize that they can still be inspired by Jim Bob and Michelle, but see them as real people, not the perfect family we're shown on television, and their detractors can learn the facts instead of spewing out rumour and inuendo on fan pages just to incite unnecessary drama.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WWDD: What Would The Duggars Do?

Have you ever been going along your day and stopped to ask yourself: what would The Duggars do in this situation? I actually have. For the most part it usually has to do with things financial--groceries, thrift shopping--do I really need that? But the more time I spend on the message boards, reading how people love the family and appreciate their morals and character and how they raise their children.

When I see people write bad things about them, of course my first instict is to correct them, with facts, but also to belittle, add a few snarky remarks of my own, and tell them exactly where they can take a flying leap. But I have to ask myself, "Is this what the Duggars would do?" No probably not.

There are a lot of instances you can ask yourself that. No, the Duggars are not perfect and lately I've been accused of thinking this family is infallable and perfect. What this detractor fails to realize is that one of my main goals is that by playing "devil's advocate" I hope to make people who are less than fans, see these people in a different light than they might currently see them. No, I don't think they are perfect, how can I when I disagree with most of their beliefs and state so in the beginning of my "what this blog is about" statement? But I can see them as moral and ethical and trying to do right. You can always try, regardless of how the results turn out. That's one thing I have learned from them, you can always try to be a good person, even if you fall short.

I made a comment under one of the blogs, I don't even remember which one, something to the effect that I can act like a Jew and practice the part, but it doesn't necessarily make me a better person....that has to come from within...just because I dress the part and say the prescribed prayers and eat the diet and show up on time to shul, I still have to have the right heart and soul.

Rewatch a few episodes, those of you that own the first few seasons. Relearn the qualities the Duggars are teaching their children. Then start asking yourself when you get in a quandry ....What Would a Duggar Do? See if it helps...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Duggar Abuse: Teaching Their Children To Handle The Negatives

The Duggars didn't go into this blindly. I'm sure they realized that by putting themselves on national tv, they'd not only garner themselves fans, but they'd also garner themselves some negative responses as well. There is a message board on the TLC website that posts probably more negative Duggar comments than positive ones, at least the few times I've been there--but to be fair it was during the "Wisconsin incident"--so they know that there are people out there that aren't fans. Besides my small little blog there are greater, more popular ones that also get their fair share of negative comments.

I doubt the Duggars themselves cruise the Internet looking for "bad press" but it wouldn't surprise me if a producer from the show, or a producer's lackey had the task of reading message boards and blogs just to keep up with the Duggar's popularity and see how the public is feeling about them. Why else would TLC have a monitored message board right there at their fingertips, as well as a monitored Facebook page?

We learned from the "Josh and Anna Engagement" episode that they get a lot of emails about the older girls--I believe the comment was about marriage proposals and it was made by Jim Bob. Either Jinger or Jessa made the comment that most of those were "from creeps." So again, they probably get emails to their website that aren't all that friendly.

I tend to spend time on the Facebook page for "19 Kids and Counting" both as a way to network for the blog, a way to get ideas for blog topics, and to see what's new in "Duggar-land" as TLC posts previews there, plus extra interviews with Michelle. The rumour was that TLC deleted negative comments from the Facebook page, but I've seen many negative comments there--with a rise of defenders attacking the person who dare to make the comment--and so far I haven't seen those deleted, but that's just me. I don't sit there 24/7 monitoring so it could happen. Some people could also remove their comments once they are made and attacked--I've deleted old blog announcements after making new ones, so you never know. One person who was there a few days ago talking Duggar disappeared--along with his account--while I think he was just there to stir up trouble and play with those "true believers" and drive them nuts, I think he deleted it himself, not Facebook or TLC. He had his fun, then he was done.

So how do the Duggars teach their children how to handle any negativity they may encounter while undergoing this tv project? Well thankfully someone asked this question and Jinger (when she was 14) gave us the answer in their book The Duggars: 20 and Counting!

"Our parents have taught us to work at doing right and not worry what others think of us. yes, sometimes we hear some negative and potentially hurtful comments. but when those negative comments come, we are reminded to accept the ten unchangeable things about ourselves that make each person a unique individual: 1) the way G-d made us, 2) our parents, 3) our brothers and sisters, 4) our nationality, 5) our mental capacity, 6) our time in history, 7) our gender, 8) our birth order and placement in our family, 9) the fact that we grow older as the years pass, and 10) the fact that life is a race against time and the best way to use that time is to serve G-d and others."

Now to me, some of these do sound great and a great way to boost your self-esteem. I'll admit, on it's face, without some deeper explanation, some sound like fillers to make the list come out to 10. I do see where it was made to fit their family, obviously not every family can use this: what if you don't have siblings--no brothers and sisters, no birth order and placement in the family--and while these things do make you an individual and a unique person--how exactly do they help boost your self-esteem when someone makes a negative comment about you? I'm not saying they are bad things, I'm saying I need more information. This is probably because I was the baby of the family? Maybe that's why I don't get it? Also because I'm not on the best terms with my sibling? No idea.

I do use some of these, to be quite honest, when I'm not feeling all that upbeat about our current situation. For instance, if you're ever feeling down about your food budget, reread a few Laura Ingalls Wilder books and you'll never feel hungry or bored with your diet again. You'll also look at the potato in a whole new light. So "our time in history" is one I appreciate--I don't have to boil water to do my laundry, hitch up a horse to go to town, or sew by hand by candlelight. All in all my life is pretty darn good all of a sudden.

Also "mental capacity" is one that should cheer you up if someone tries to buck themselves up by tearing you down. I merely remind myself of what I've accomplished scholastically and that not everyone could have done that.

I'm not sure about "nationality" unless it's to be thankful that we live in a land so wonderful. After all there are countries out there with much worse living conditions and we should be grateful for the fact that we live here? Is that what they mean by that? I really hope so, because taken another way it could be really really bad.

All in all I think the Duggars have done will in preparing their kids for what to expect and how to handle any negative comments or harsh words they might hear. Keeping them away from the family email is probably wise, and shielding them from certain websites is also a good idea. Why go searching for bad words about yourself if you know you'll probably find it? It's not as if they just threw their kids to the wolves and said "yeah we'll do a tv show, bring it on!"

From reading Jinger's answer, you can see that it's well thought out and it's been repeated to them often--not in a "drilled in" way, but in a way that they know, positively, that their parents care for them and want them to remember the positive things about themselves, always.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

TLC Courts the Duggars: A Marriage Made Back in 2004

I stumbled across a conversation on another blog that made me laugh so hard I almost did spit take. "Do the Duggars have a TV show because they are so good looking?" Seriously? Who on earth was asking this question? It had to be someone that had just stumbled upon the show.

You all know me. I love the Duggars and think they're great. Have you all watched "14 Children and Pregnant Again?" Anyone who has seen that first 1 hour special would not be asking that question--do they have a TV show because they are so good looking? Michelle's bangs are out of control while the rest of her hair is a bit frizzy and hanging down her back. Her skin is incredibly pale. And for some reason she is in love with bright red lipstick--the only make-up she uses. The girls are all wearing their matching pinafore dresses (mistakenly referred to often as prairie dresses, but they aren't) and the girls are all also in their awkward stage pre-teen years--all gangly arms and legs and teeth. Even poor Josh had to be filmed with his crew cut during one of the specials when he came home from ATI ALERT camp--and a huge zit.

This was Discovery Health's top-rated show regardless. So they kept coming back for more 1 hour specials. Interestingly, the boys all looked better in the 1 hour specials than they do in the current TV show. They were always in the tan trousers and polo shirts. And of course Jim Bob's hair hasn't moved--ever!

TLC/Discovery came to the Duggars because the audience loved the Duggars--not because of their looks--but because the Duggars are fascinating. They were a family of 14, 15, then 16 children and we got to watch the family grow in front of our very eyes. They let us into their home, watch them build their home, see how they managed their money, handle their food budget, teach their children, organize their household, and when the time came move in and decorate their new home. We also got to see them take a trip across the country and all the excitement that entailed. We got to see how the organized a camper, traveled with all those kids, met new people, homeschooled along the way, and we even got to see that they were human (they had parts of a vacation they liked and didn't like just like everyone else!)

Now that we get to see them on a more regular basis and we've seen them grow, yes, the girls have grown up and they are beautiful. Michelle is more attractive--that is something that happens with pregnancy hormones and some women, your skin changes and your hair changes (she also has teenage daughters that have learned to do hair and have done hair for her!) The girls aren't as awkward as they were when we first met them and now the new viewers just coming to the program don't realize that--all they see are 4 older girls that are attractive and assume *bingo!* TLC gave them a show!

Well I'm sorry to disappoint those of you that think that physical beauty is what brought TLC a callin', but TLC has been courting the Duggars for 6 years now, and those girls were much younger then and there weren't nearly that many Duggars. TLC came a courtin' for the same reason the rest of us serious Duggar watchers did--we want to see a family that lives what they believe, yet is honest enough to admit that they aren't perfect, they do make mistakes--even after 19 kids. A family who knows what is most important and instills that in their children. That is why we watch and why TLC's first special was the most watched on their line-up way back when.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Duggars in the White House: Could Jim Bob Do It?

We all know Jim Bob has a history in politics. Here's an interesting thought: Could Jim Bob make a run for the White House? I doubt he'd make a successful run, but it sure would be interesting to watch the race. While he does have a lot of fans out there and many people think he's an all around "nice guy" I don't see him as Presidential material--do you?

Do we elect a man to the oval office in this century who doesn't have a college degree? He didn't get elected to his own state's Senate seat.

Do we elect a man to the oval office who is that conservative? We've had conservative Presidents before, that's nothing new, but not THAT conservative. I don't think he'd be able to seriously handle conversations with governments, or even people from other religious backgrounds. Could he? Would he seriously be able to seperate church and state? Frankly I don't think he could.

As far as I know, he hasn't been out of the country, other than the trips to El Salvador--has he been to Europe? Asia? the Middle East? How can a President be taken seriously by other world leaders if he hasn't traveled the world?

Would he have the stones to send our country to war? I'm sure as a Republican he supports our troops and was behind Bush when he started the war we're in now, but if it were up to him, would he be able to make that call? Is he that strong? I only say this because he's never served in the military--granted we've had (and have) leaders that haven't served before, but those Presidents also weren't very eager to go to war either--Clinton's big war claim to fame was the Yugoslavia which isn't Yugoslavia anymore event and the other Balkans and he wasn't keen on the idea of being there. Our current leader is doing his best to undo the war we're in, not start new ones. While I'm not trying to make a political debate or discuss current or past Presidents....I'm just trying to point out that military service is usually brought up during a Presidential campaign.

Now...there are some upsides...he is a great financial manager. I have no doubt that given some time and some ability to lead, he could probably get the budget cut down to something managable. We could even get it balanced. And Michelle would put the word Lady back in First Lady. She is the epitomy of the word lady.

Some downsides, do we want the White House to be thrashed by 18 Duggar kids running amok in an historical building? Can you imagine the Secret Service nightmare of them going anywhere? Would they still want to be on TV? What would happen to Josh and Anna?

He could run as a VP with Sarah Palin. They'd make a great pair. You know I love the Duggars, but you also know I wouldn't vote for him. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Duggars and Homeschool and Fieldtrips: Oh My!

This may seem like a "part 2" to the field trip post from earlier, but I'm not sure that it is. It's more of a take on field trips and their homeschooling. As I began to think of their field trips I was reminded of their early 1 hour specials and in one of them Michelle said that "when we don't know the answer, we can get in the car and go out and figure it out--find the answer for ourselves." So during that special we saw them on a field trip to see how soybeans were being used as insulation.

From that I started thinking about how people are blaming TLC for all of these "spontaneous" field trips. Now I'm beginning to think that, besides being necessary therapy for the youngsters in a stressful family time, they are great bits for homeschooling. Many people think the Duggars take homeschooling lightly and don't pay much attention to it, as if education is secondary to almost everything else in their life. I doubt that, otherwise their kids wouldn't be getting their GEDs at 16--when most kids seem to be getting them at 18 or not at all if they drop out, but that's just my opinion. Aside from the offhand remark at the mansion in Ashville about "shapes and colours," all of these trips DO make great opportunities for the Duggar kids to expand their horizons. They will always have these trips to remember.

One thing I remember about my first trip to the UK with my husband (besides w00 h00 this is my honeymoon) was WOW this is where history was really made! Seeing where things actually happened was fascinating--now because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where "history" is relatively new, seeing things built in the 1500s and older was awe-inspiring. For those of you on the East Coast where you've seen things from the 1800s, you probably aren't that excited.

Even living in the south, the Duggars have the chance to visit some civil war territory I'm sure. That's history! Actually getting out there and seeing it is so much more amazing than reading about it in a book. The first time I saw the "white cliffs of Dover" my entire experience of World War Two in History class took on a whole new meaning--and let me tell you, 11th grade History class was a LONG time ago. And when we were in Calais, France at a tag sale and saw actual war uniforms and shells being sold--whoa--talk about bringing history alive! I imagine farmers in the south still come across the same thing (from the civil war) as farmers in France and England.

Sure we don't see these lessons being taught on camera, after all we see a mere 20 minutes (not 30 because after all, commercials), but I'm sure there is a lot of learning going on while these field trips are going on. After all, they've been going on long before the 30 minute TV show even started! It wouldn't surprise me at all if after the cameras are packed up there are learning packets, or worksheets to be done; some kind of follow-up to the trip that is age-appropriate to each child.

And why do the girls have to go? That question again? After all the oldest ones have graduated and it doesn't seem like they enjoy it, or they shouldn't have to go if they don't want to. If we are talking homeschool here, they are probably mentors. That is not uncommon in public schools at all, so why shouldn't it be common in homeschooling. Also, think back to when you were younger, seriously, how well did you always want to take direction from your mother, even if she was fantastic? Sometimes you do better when it comes from a sibling. I remember back to being in CampFire and the kid who acted out the most and was the most obnoxious was always the leader's kid--why? because she was the leader's kid--who wants their mom to be the leader? No one! It's no fun when your mom is there! Ok that was a small example, but only on occasion. Sometimes you need a break from mom no matter how great she is. I plan on homeschooling, or trying on-line school with my child and I hope she doesn't resent me for it :)

One thing the Duggars have never done, even from the moment we met them in their first special, was keep their kids at home while homeschooling. So to say that their field trips are something new to pass the time or to take up TLC space while Josie is sick, is a little bit of a cop out. While it may be partly true, after all, it's not as if there is a lot they can do with Josie in the hospital, field trips have long been a part of the Duggar homeschooling tradition and I think that TLC has merely added to their capability and their locations. But you won't convince me that learning isn't taking place when they travel to these marvelous destinations.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Duggars Stand Their Ground: How Far Would You Go to Uphold Your Beliefs?

I was reading the Duggar's book again and came across the part where they owned their mini-mart and decided to stop selling cigarettes. It was a huge part of their income, but at the same time, what was it teaching their son, who was always in his play pen behind the counter? Cutting their income and making a mockery of what a mini-mart is--and losing a partnership--they stood up for their convictions and decided not to sell cigarettes. They didn't want to be hypocrites to their child--don't smoke, but watch us sell them to people all day long. They were at the same time grateful they didn't have to sell liquor, for at the time in Arkansas, you had to go to a liquor store to buy liquor.

Soon after, they made another decision to sell their towing business, even though it was making them a very good income. Why? It was keeping Jim Bob away from their family. As soon as dinner would be ready, sure enough the beeper would go off and he'd have to go off to pick up a car. So they prayed about it and decided that even though it was supporting them, their family life was more important.

These events got me to thinking to some things that have happened to them lately. Once again, I'll remind you, I don't do investigative reporting, I only write what I remember. But when Michelle was reported to have protested the issuance of a liquor license to a mini-mart near her home soon after Josie was born, people were up in arms. However, in my estimation, history shows this to be right in true Duggar form. Michelle has 18 other children, not just Josie and she is mother to ALL of them, not just Josie. To her, having liquor sold so near their home so "easily" (in their opinion) was important to the safety of their ENTIRE family. So she exercised her rights as an American citizen and let her opinion be known before the board who issues the license.

By choosing to home school, rather than send her children to public school, they are taking a verse from the Bible about "train up your children" and using the literal translation to teach their kids at home. Being the mother of a 3 year old I am still tussling with the notion of home school. I am dreading the thought of putting her in the California school system--sorry but right now it is in the throws of economic crisis and it seems unfair to punish her for the government's inability to balance a budget and care for our children's education. I'm the product of public school, but a rather well-funded one--most years--some years we had to fight to get the bugets passed. We can't afford private school and there is no private Jewish school where we live, so a private school would have to be one that wasn't religious and offer massive scholarships. So I'm back to home schooling and again, I find that very daunting. I've made no secret to my laziness--would I make a good home school mom? Could I really pick up the torch and do this for my child if push came to shove?

By merely putting their family on camera and showing their faith to the world they are in a way, saying to nay-sayers--we get it, you don't care for our life-style, but what you have to say isn't what matters, what the Bible says and what G-d says is what matters. They have focused on their faith and set their lives in motion by following that faith. How many of us have that kind of courage to give up our lives to any faith that strong?

By watching the Duggars we can ask ourselves a lot of questions in our daily lives. Even if we don't share the same faith, the same political beliefs, the same ecological beliefs--we can still glean a lot of perspective from them. How far would you go to stand up for what you believe in, no matter what that "what" is?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ask the Duggars: The Question I Hate Most

This topic idea comes courtesy of Angelique, thank you!

During the "Ask the Duggars" someone invariably asks the one question I dread most...not "are you going to have more kids," or "how do you handle laundry," or even "how do you handle meal times..." while we're all sick and tired of hearing those questions, and the many more that get repeated ad nauseaum, here's the one that makes me want to scream and throw a tantrum: "What do you think about the carbon footprint you and your family are leaving for future generations?"

Why does this bother me so much? There are many reasons, but the first reason is this: it's an elitist question; an "I'm better than you and you don't deserve to live on this planet while my family does." The people asking this question over and over and who make this argument on blogs and message boards over and over say they only have 2 kids and the Duggars are taking up the earth's resources that could be used for their children. Excuse me?? Why are their children any better and more important than the Duggar children? First of all, taking away the environmental component of the question, what it boils down to, is that these people are saying that because they only have 2.5 children, they somehow deserve the earth's resources before the Duggars do because they are somehow more prudent and wise. Elitist crap.

Ok now let's bring back the environmental component back in and discuss just how the Duggars do reduce their "carbon footprint," if in fact there actually is one. First of all, they buy as many things used as possible. Things most people would be throwing out and would be buying from new materials, the Duggars are buying used. The Duggars also heat their huge house with wood from their own land. They carpool--rarely do they go places with just one person in the car--how many of you can say that?

To be fair there are some things they do that do bother me. They do use paper plates and paper napkins. With their industrial washer they could do a load of dishes in 3 minutes. When they first moved in, Michelle said they were using regular plates and using the industrial machine, but after a few days they switched to paper plates. I'm guessing with so many kids it is probably easier--breakage? Once they are older it would be nice to have them using proper plates and washing them--they have wood-heated water so what's the big deal with washing?

So the Duggars do deserve to be here just as much as anyone else does. When you start to ask that question, you start to open a Pandora's box that gets scary. Who deserves the earth's resources and who doesn't? Do you really want to start asking that question? I don't think you do.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Duggar Dynasty: Prayer, Luck, or Coincidence?

If you just watch the Duggar's TV show, their life seems pretty good, save for their recent birth problem with Josie. They have a lovely home, Michelle gets to stay at home with her kids and home school, they live on a budget, but still seem to have everything they need. All in all life seems to be pretty darn good. Even if you take away TLC and the money that must bring in (we've never proven they get much from TLC, they must get some, but regardless, they were self-sufficient before, so forget TLC for this discussion) the Duggars were living the sweet life long before most of us ever heard of them. Occasionally they'd get their name in a magazine when a baby was born, but other than that they lived a quiet life in Arkansas.

You have to read their book to learn that they've had some hard times to get where they are now. So the question becomes, is it prayer, luck, or coincidence that got them to where they are today? It would all depend on who's asking that question and what you personally believe. We know what the Duggars believe--Jim Bob doesn't believe in luck--even potluck dinners aren't allowed to be called potluck dinners at their home, they are called "potfaith" dinners--because Jim Bob doesn't believe in luck! Many people don't believe in coincidence and that has nothing to do with religion--mathematicians don't usually believe in coincidence. Most religious people believe in prayer.

Reading the Duggars book is truly an amazing story. It's enough to convert just about anyone over to G-d. Their story of how everything came together, one thing right after another--one land sale after another, the prices growing and the money coming in--finding property and building the all just fell into place almost amazingly--it does make those of us who do believe in Hashem that He is watching over us and that when you do ask for His guidance and assistance, He will provide.

But that's not to say, their life is wine and roses. He made quite sure to tell all the stories where he didn't ask for guidance and assistance and how each time it all came crashing down--literally in some cases--like the $10,000 sign for their mini-mart that fell down almost as soon as it was put up. That was a sign Jim Bob didn't pray about and for a business he didn't pray about--both things he considers mistakes. He also considers trading for a satellite TV system for the house a mistake--once it was installed and he couldn't stop watching it. He didn't talk to Michelle about it, just make the deal and brought it home. Soon after he realized it was not beneficial to their family life, it was gone.

Some things they talk about in their book that show prayer work, or they see as prayer working are how they received a vacuum. A man showed up at the door to show them a great vacuum--demonstrated it, showed all the attachments, and they kept asking the price. When he finally told them it was $1200, they said, sorry, they didn't have that much. But he said, no problem, we have a payment plan. Jim Bob explained that they had agreed not to go into debt ever again, thanks, but no thanks. So they prayed and prayed about how to find a vacuum for their home. Later on a friend called them and asked if they needed a vacuum---apparently he had bought one at an estate sale and didn't need it, they already had one. Jim Bob said, how much? For $200 they received the exact same vacuum with all the attachments the door to door salesman was selling--a savings of $1000 and all it took was some will-power and some prayer.

Another example they discuss was the pink blanket. One of their daughters wanted a pink blanket like her sister. This was back when they were very young. (I don't have the book with me, so I can't tell you which daughters.) But Michelle told her that the blanket she had was perfectly good, just not pink. They can't spend money to buy a pink blanket, just because she doesn't like the colour. However, she can pray for a pink blanket and maybe G-d will see that she gets one. So her daughter prayed for a pink blanket just like her big sister's. Well low and behold, a friend of theirs from church (I believe) gave her a pink blanket all for her own.

So the Duggars have had their share of ups and downs. Right now they seem to be having their biggest down that we've shared with them so far in their life. But they seem to be handling it with strength and tenacity. The family also seems to have bonded together even stronger than we've seen them in previous seasons--they've always been close, but this season they are definately holding close and I have no doubt that they are all praying, not for pink blankets or vacuums, but for Josie to come home and come home for good.

Regardless of how you live, what you personally believe, how you worship, or if you do at all, the Duggars definately seem to defy a lot of odds. I personally tend to think that Hashem is on their side. Even though I am Jewish I do believe that G-d is watching over them and that G-d is leading them. I see them as true believers and I'm fine with that.

I believe that IF you believe, faith works. And I believe they believe.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothering Sunday: Share Your Stories

Today we're celebrating Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, and to our favourite mother--Michelle Duggar, and the other Duggar mothers, Mary, Deanna, and Anna!

I had the good fortune to be in the UK to have my child, for many reasons. But one that sticks out, is that she happened to be born on what they call, "Mothering Sunday." It falls in March over there. My daughter was born 6 1/2 weeks early (I've told parts of this story here and there, so today, you're going to hear it all.) The only downside? I ruined the lunch we had planned with my Mother-in-law and sister-in-law--however, hubby did take them out after the baby was born and they did come visit me and see the new little one.

I happened to be in the hospital because the midwife found signs of pre-eclampsia on Thursday, and I'd been told day by day that I'd be going home soon after they did more "tests." I had a headache they couldn't get rid of (I'd had it since to previous Sunday) and my blood pressure wouldn't come under control. If would calm down for a bit then go wild again. I would have to sit still for 30 min a few times a day so they could hook me up to a fetal monitor, only because everytime they did, my little monkey would swim away--so as soon as they'd find her I'd have to sit perfectly still--apparently she hated that test! Throughout the entire process I was reassured again and again that my baby was perfectly fine, it was my health they were worried about. Finally on Saturday I was told they had me scheduled for an ultrasound (called a scan over there) on Monday morning and if that was ok, I could go home.

Now as these few days had progressed, the other two beds in the room had women coming and going--it was kind of a staging area--pre-labour--before they'd go to labour rooms. In the back of my mind I got to thinking that I just might be having this baby early. That and the fact that when they checked me in they gave me a special shot to speed up the development of my baby's lungs in case I had to deliver early. I started to rethink my baby name. When I went into the hospital she was "Saffron Rapunzel." The more I said it out loud, the more I didn't like it--it sounded great with a British accent, which I don't have--so hubby had to bring me the baby name book in one of the many trips with things I needed (always had a list!) I would walk around the circle of the ward to pass the time (you have to pay for TV over there) and I'd read. As I was walking around, I asked the doctor at the desk if just because I had pre-eclampsia it meant I had to have a c-section, or if I could still have a natural birth. She said they always try to do natural first. That lifted my spirits. Then I joked that if they couldn't find me I'd be down floating around in the birthing pool--they had a huge lovely birthing tub that I SO wanted to go for a swim in!

Then Sunday morning came. My headache was off the charts and all night we'd been doing shots of liquid morphine (literally like doing vodka shots.) Breakfast was brought in and the doctors told me that I could take it with me to the other room, they were moving me to a different room so they'd have more space (remember I was sharing with 2 other people.) So as I'm kind of loopy and being taken across the ward to another room, I had presence of mind to ask a nurse to call my husband. Next I remember I'm laying in a bed and 3 different people are putting tubes in 3 different places--both arms and my neck. Ten minutes later I asked again for someone to call my husband, because I was sure that in all this mess (there were about 12 people, no kidding, in my room) whomever I asked probably hadn't done it. But I was told he was in the lift! (the elevator) And the next time I saw him, a fe minutes later, he was standing at the foot of my bed in scrubs. Huh. Interesting.

Then it occcured to me to ask the question. Where we going to have a baby? You see, no one actually bothered to tell me that we were going to have this baby. The answer was yes, we were going to deliver this baby. My next question struck everyone as rather funny, "Am I having a c-section?" The doctor said yes. "Good," I said, "because I don't think I can push."

We got to the operating theatre and that's when the resident who put in my neck line realized that he hadn't taken off my t-shirt. He was very distressed about it. "Cut it off! I shouted. He was still unsure about it. "It's okay," I said. "I got it on sale." Everyone laughed so hard, it was hilarious! Then my husband had to explain to them what an outlet mall was. (It was from Eddie Bauer.) And Hubby still has the cut up t-shirt.

All through the procedure I kept whispering "Jaspin." Because I was sure that's what her name would be. When she was born they wheeled her quickly past my head and that's all I could see of her as they took her to the NICU. Hubby took pictures with our phone. When I got to the recovery room the first thing I said was "I don't want to name her Jaspin!" So for a few minutes she was Spencer. Later on in our room we spent about 2 hours trying to name her. She was Amistad for awhile, but we couldn't decide if it was a first name or second name. We went through friend's names, we had the baby book of 100,001 names. We went through the list. Finally we got to the boy list to see if there was anything there...and we got to Zephyr. We just looked at each other and it clicked. She was Zephyr. The nurse watching over me was trying not to laugh as we were spending all this time figuring out a name.

I was still paralyzed from the waist down with a clicker to stay that way and they'd bring liquid morphine every so often. I didn't get to see Zephyr in the NICU until Tuesday. I was not happy about that. They moved me to the regular ward on Tuesday evening after dinner. And I waited all day Tuesday to see her, and finally hubby showed up to take me as they were ringing the "no more visiting hours" bell--they didn't bother to tell him they were moving me and that hours were changed. And I burst into tears again. They promised! Well hubby raised all kinds of noise and the nurse came in and soothed me and promised that I'd have a wheelchair there in moments to take me down to see my baby--and I did. She was beautiful. I got to hold her--hubby had been to see her, but hadn't held her, he made sure that I was the first one to hold her. It was the most amazing thing ever, she looked into my eyes and I knew then that I was mommy.

I woke up in the middle of the night in a ward with 5 other mothers who all had their babies with them--and mine was in the NICU--I hobbled into the waiting area/lobby where the nurse's station was at about 3am and started bawling. I told them I couldn't go back in there. I couldn't sleep in there with those babies and those mothers, it wasn't fair. Wednesday morning the head nurse came and talked to me and moved me to a private room, she explained that this never would have happened, they were just full. So I spent the rest of my stay in a private room, getting to go down to the NICU any time during the day to visit her and hold her. And hubby would come after work and see her with me. Sometimes he'd bring take away. I stayed 5 days after the birth.

Two weeks in the NICU and she was ready to come home. We spent the night in a special family room there where the baby sleeps with us in the room and we "learn" how to be new parents. We get up with her, feed her, change her, and sleep there. If we have questions the nurses are right there. The next morning we get to take her home. And she's been our little muppet ever since.

So there's this mom's story--a baby born on Mothering Sunday. I felt it was appropriate, since today is Mother's Day, and Michelle Duggar has shared so many of her birthing stories with us! So please, feel free to share your birthing stories. Or if you aren't that comfortable, share your naming stories :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Duggar Fashion: Laura Ingalls Who?

I know we discussed this early on in the blog's infancy, but it's time to broach the subject again. This time not so much the clothes themselves as just the sense of style. We recently delved into modesty, now let's talk about the teen's individual sense of style, as I've noticed this season they are developing an individuality that in previous years they haven't had.

From the pre-teen pinafores (they weren't prairie dresses as most people call them--the Bates family was wearing the prairie dresses) to the matching denim skirts and polo shirts, in the past seasons, the girls lately have been dressing to their own separate tastes and I'm liking it. Jinger or Jessa (I can't tell them apart anymore) is wearing the baggy sweatshirt every time with the skirt and Jill and Jana are still dressing pristine as always. No longer is the family wearing matching colours so they can be seen as a group--those days of one-colour polo shirts seem to be long gone.

For whatever reason, each child has grown into their own and is deciding what they want to wear. Be it a Season Three anomaly--they are camping out and have one washer so it's wear what you can find and deal with it, or they've just decided that it's time to let the kids wear what they want to wear as long as it's modest; I'm loving it!

I explain this to people all the time. I worship with Chassidic Jews who are far more modest than the Duggars--no flip-flops (must wear at least sheer knee highs with sandals) and long-sleeves year round. But the fashion is still fashion. They shop at the nice stores--I shop where I can afford, but more importantly I buy what I like. I prefer flowing skirts and since I grew up in Oregon, I get a lot of "hippie" jokes thrown my way. But my Rabbi's wife does wear a Duggar-style denim skirt with a tie-dye shirt and she's no hippie! It's just what was in style when she bought it! Like I tell people, there's no rule that we have to dress like Laura Ingalls! And truth be told, I even have sexy (shock and awe) outfits for when we go out for special occasions...but they are still modest!

I've also noticed the hair styles aren't the same for the girls anymore. They seem to have decided they aren't liking the matching perms. One of the girls does have the natural curls--either Jinger or Jessa, I'll have to rewatch that perm-giving episode where they tell which one, or someone who remembers can just note it. It was Jill who said in the interview that they liked having the same hairstyle because "you want to have the same style your friends have." They seem to have drifted into their own unique styles. Jana and Jill have gone to straight styles. Joy-Anna is still the tomboy with the tight-in-the-back pig-tail, and Jessa and Jinger who are close in age and as Michelle says, "almost twins" both seem to have curly hair and as I said one of them is natural. And like I said I can't tell them apart lately--the last few episodes anyway.

They are also asserting some teen independence as well--as with the mountain climbing trip--the teen girls wore flip-flops. Typical teens in a typical family would do that. I wouldn't expect anything less from a typical teen in a typical family. I'm so proud! But did they whine, moan, and complain about it? NO! They made it to the top and were happy when they got there---THAT is the difference between a typical whining teen and a Duggar teen. They may assert some independence but they don't have to be crotchety about it! Good for them!

The older ones are also experimenting with make-up, yet tasteful and modest. They don't look over-done or ridiculous. They look like fresh-faced, happy young teens, twenty-somethings. Even Michelle looks good in her interviews. I will admit, however that in some of the shots of Michelle at the home and hospital she looked a bit pale and less healthy and I do hope she's ok. But in the interviews she looks good.

Anna does seem to have changed since the birth of her child. Her hair has gone straight. Of course you can't get a perm while your pregnant, or breast-feeding. People complain that she's "let herself go" but if she's still breast-feeding that's probably why--people remember, no perms while you're breast-feeding! I think Anna looks fine. She is fresh-faced and always has her make-up done well and has a smile on her face. A smile is all you need! Her wardrobe seems to have gotten even more modest after she has gotten married. I wonder if she's done that on purpose--no longer dressing like a "teen" but more like a "mom." She doesn't have to, but maybe that's her choice. She certainly dresses her daughter beautifully. And when she goes out with her sisters-in-law she always fits in.

I do disagree with those that say it's being on TV that's changed the way the Duggars dress. I think it's growing up. People tend to forget that when they started filming this family the girls were pre-teens and didn't really care all that much. Now that they've grown up, seen the world, developed a sense of style, and developed their own personalities, they do have more of a say in what they wear and it's still modest, but it's their own. I have a feeling it would be that way TV show or no TV show.

I think Josh has also developed a sense of style too. Afterall he's in business for himself and has to look somewhat successfull and he is only 21. Why shouldn't he be dressing similar to his peers. And for those who were complaining about him wearing Aeropostle and isn't that expensive and against their "buy used save the difference?" Well I was in the mall yesterday (first time in 2 years) and saw an Aeropostle store--didn't even know what one was. They had a sign in the window for t-shirts 2/$10 and polo shirts "Buy One Get One Free." I decided to venture in and they had a clearance rack in the back with deals down to about $9.99 to what we've seen Josh wear in shirts. All those sales seem about fair to their bargain-hunting ways to me.

But for me, I'm lucky, I'm from the Sephardic tribe so I do get to wear flip-flops!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Piercings and Circumcisions: Are the Duggars Barbarians?

Ok you'll have to have just a little bit of a sense of humour for this one, because I'm writing this one post-op and highly medicated. Yes the surgery was successful, but painful and I'm floating over the bed right about now.

I was involved in a discussion on a message board recently involving McKynzie's pierced ears and it really had me thinking. There were pros and cons over whether or not you do it when the girls are babies or do you wait until they are older. The pros being that it's over quick and the babies don't remember it, whereas when they are older they do remember it and they can be screaming and fainting. I know this from experience--I was 13 and fainted dead away. It was made worse because it was part of my birthday party and of course every girl there went to school the next day and spread the word. Mortifying. So is it any worse than getting a shot? They cry for a few seconds and then it's over?

Some who were con said that no, babies do remember and that they look to you for comfort, food, and protection. They don't look to you for pain, even if it is over in a few seconds. My husband's con is that as a little one crawling and toddling there's too much danger of the earrings getting caught on something and pulling and/or tearing. However on the pro side, one woman pointed out that her 10 yr old wouldn't stop playing with hers to the point that they got infected beyond the point of fixing. Yes you're supposed to "twirl" them a few times a day (do they still tell you to do that?) but do 10 yr olds always have clean hands? Apparently not.

So why did I bring up circumcision? Well these same women who were railing against how barbaric it was to watch this baby get her ears pierced probably had no problem getting their sons circumcised. And if you research it, there's no medical necessity for it. I gave birth in the UK and over there you have to ASK to have it done, where here in the US you have to make sure to tell them NOT to do it. People's first excuse is "cleanliness." Basically you're telling me that you're incapable as a parent in teaching your child how to wash himself into adulthood? All of Europe seems to be doing just fine washing themselves.

Jews do it for religious reasons. I believe Muslims do too, but I don't know for certain. I still think it's an unnecessary bit of surgery and all surgery carries risk, but these mothers don't seem to mind about that, but piercing ears they all want laws passed so babies can't have it done. The dichotomy between the two amazes me, especially when pointed out to them, they still don't see it.

So if I am blessed with a son, he will have a bris and will be circumcized. And I'm eagerly awaiting for the day when my husband thinks my daughter is old enough to have her ears pierced.

Now what do you think--are either of these barbaric or is it just a personal choice?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sharing the Sabbath: A Great Duggar Idea

It's surgery day, so I can't promise when the next post will be, but since it's close to a weekend, I thought this might give you all something to think about! Love and good wishes to you all...and thank you so much for your blessings and good wishes!

In Jewish tradition the Sabbath is sundown Friday and ends on Saturday when three stars are visible in the night sky. Sunday is then spent for either family activities, doing work around the house, errands, etc. Basically, switch what Christian families do--whatever you do on Saturday, we do on Sunday and what you do on Sunday, we do on Saturday.

The Duggars have brought to light a great idea of actually acknowledging the Sabbath as Christians in addition to the Sunday day of worship. Not speaking as a Jew, but as someone who grew up in a Presbyterian Church, I know what Sundays can be like. You get up, rush through a breakfast, rush to get the kids dressed, off to Sunday school where everyone is off to a different room for a different age--parents in one room as well. Then they all gather for the worship service, but part way through the kids are called up for the children's sermon and afterwards they leave to go downstairs for more learning or games--basically to get them out of the sanctuary so they don't disrupt the main sermon for everyone else. All told the family doesn't really spend the church experience together except for the car ride to and from. However, our family did have the tradition of going out to breakfast afterwards--if you got up and went to church Mom would take us out to eat--that made it all worth it.

But the rest of Sunday the family still rarely spends the day together, unless something specific was planned. Dad would be watching sports on TV, mom would be working in the garden (depending on the season,) and I would be playing with the kids in the neighbourhood, working on homework (depending on my age,) or watching tv and/or going back to sleep. All in all not a family kind of day. And then if we're talking my senior high years I'd be back at church by 7pm for youth group. So again, no more family time.

Saturdays around my house were always house cleaning in the mornings followed by marathon grocery shopping to at least 3 different stores and then yard work or special house projects and Dad watching whatever sporting events were on TV. Depending on the season I'd be skiing, playing with neighbourhood kids, or watching TV. If it was high school I'd be at a ski race, a speech tournament, or sleeping after the shopping part (because I was the one that was usually in charge of it.)

When I was 15 my father had a stroke so our family dynamic took a different turn. I became very independant very fast and we had very little "family togetherness" other than a lot of dining out. I was given a lot of money and a lot of copies of credit cards as well as a new truck and told to be a good girl and take care of myself, because Mom had to take care of Dad. Mind you this was a small town where they knew everyone, so getting into trouble was not an option, so it wasn't as if I was about to run amok. But close and cuddly family time really never happened after age 15.

Getting back to the Duggars, I like their idea of bringing back the family Saturday. Or in my case, the family Sunday. This works well for us since my husband has Sundays and Mondays off and we do actually take many day trips to take advantage of his schedule. For Mother's Day last year he bought a Year Pass to Yosemite/Sequoia/King's Canyon and we drive up there often (it's just an hour and a half) with a picnic to either one of the 3 parks and have a nice drive through, walk one of the many trails and make a nice day of it.

Michelle's point is that you don't have to do it up big. Going to a local park and watching your child play on the swings and go down the slide is magical. You never realize how fast the time flies until you see them go down the slide week to week not needing your help. And it doesn't cost a thing. Taking a walk around the block through your own neighbourhood after dinner on a spring evening hand in hand or go for a bike ride together. Even a picnic in your local park, or even your back yard--something different--together is always a way to bring the family together.

You can always find endless free events in your local town. There are tons of things you can do with your family. I took my daughter to a free car show while hubby was at work--not very girlie but she loved it! We saw all the tricked out classic cars and it didn't cost a thing! Great way to spend a Saturday and a nice wholesome family afternoon. There are so many things out there that don't cost anything that you can do as a family; check your paper, your local news websites, even try your local colleges for events---or spend a day yard saling!! Pick up some bargains, but set a limit before you go :) Or HAVE a yard sale :)

Start thinking about ways you can turn off the TV, shut down the video games, tell the neighbour kids that it's "family time" and decide that you're going to build some Sabbath time. Even if it isn't on the true Sabbath, G-d doesn't really mind, he just wants you to build your family bond.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Courting vs. Dating: Isn't it Romantic?

I'm up late because I can't sleep--dreading the surgery I guess. And when I can't sleep I read. So I grabbed "The Duggars: 20 and Counting" looking for some inspiration and I got as far as reading about their first date. I almost teared up when Michelle stood on her front porch praying that if Jim Bob isn't what G-d wants for her, she can't imagine what G-d does want--where Jim Bob stood a year previous asking the same thing about her. How can that not bring a tear to your eye?

Approaching how you're going to find your mate is a leap of faith, and in the Duggars case faith really is the key word. Josh really did take faith literally and left it up to G-d to help him find his future partner and so did Anna and G-d led them to one another. Both Jim Bob and Michelle have taught their kids that there is a person out there for them, waiting, and they just need to be patient. Patience isn't always easy to be and that's what some people forget to be in this day and age. Without being judgemental or stepping on toes (I'll admit to a slutty period between my 2nd divorce and 3rd marriage so hey, I'm not being holier than thou here) I think what the Duggars are trying to point out is that if you do try to wait, you can really find Mr. or Mrs. Right without going through a bunch of Mr. and Mrs. Wrongs.

I won't slam dating. Dating does have its benefits to a degree. I think that there are ways boys and girls can get to know one another and at least see if they are compatible enough to consider if a next step is even necessary without official "dating." That can happen in group dates--those are safe and harmless with chaperones. I think the Duggars do that as families and they probably do that with the girls and boys and friends from their church. It probably happened with the Bates were visiting. Things like broomball, ice-skating, picnics, trips to that arcade/bumpercar palace, etc. Your heart is still "protected" as Michelle would say, but you can still see what's out there and find what G-d has planned for you. There is also the ATI conference where Josh met Anna.

I will say that the Duggars have brought courting into the new century. I don't think they've won over a lot of fans, but I don't think it's that bad of an idea either. I do think that with some combination courting/dating, some conservative families might be able to work out some compromises with their kids. While I thought the "first kiss" was sweet for the TV show, it was, ok I'll say it, lame. I'm sorry, but the hand-holding they were doing was so over-the-top sexual, it was far more intimate than any wedding kiss I've seen. It was a sweet gesture, but misguided considering the petting that was going on.

I also think that courting is fine as long as the choice of the mate is up to the courter and courtee. Choosing your child's mate is a little too old-fashioned for me and a little too old-world. Of course some people still do it and that's fine--I actually have a Hindi friend in the UK who went that route and is perfectly happy with the bride his mom chose--but again--he CHOSE to have his mom choose. I'm told that in the Chassidic world the parents choose a few different mates and then the boys/girls choose from the pool, or something like that. I guess they have to approve of the family first.

I still like love being involved. I'm tired of the constant chatter on blogs that Jim Bob is just waiting to choose his daughters' husbands--I just don't buy that at all. Afterall, Jim Bob and Michelle were a definate love match and their kids deserve nothing less.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Duggar Faith: Always Moving Forward

One thing that has always attracted me to this family is the fact that nothing seems to knock them down. Granted that there hasn't been much TO knock them down. Up until Josie's birth their life has pretty much been gravy. Although if you read their book, you'll find that isn't exactly true. It's their TV life that's been gravy, they actually worked pretty hard to earn their gravy life. They've made some business mistakes, learned from them, and moved forward. But that's one theme about the Duggars, they always seem to be moving forward.

Regardless of their religious preference, which doesn't particularly atrract me; or their political stances, that don't stir me; that one bit of positivity does. This family is a constant moving entity that is growing, ever changing, yet always re-examining itself. One thing that caught my attention that they do every day is read the Proverb that coresponds to that day, and then discuss it. Well that's something I could do--Jews have the Proverbs in the Tanakh. But what got me wondering, if after years of doing this, wouldn't it get tedious? Then I remembered Michelle's description, they apply it to their day. And no Duggar day is ever the say. They aren't talking about the verse itself and discussing the verse itself--yes that could get tedious month after month--you'd have it memorized and the meaning memorized--but applying it to your day month after month--each person's day--when each person had a different day, a different outlook towards the day as they grow, would be quite different.

A service for me is the same every Friday night. We follow the same service printed in the Sidur, depending on the time of the month or the year, some of the words may change in the prayers, but essentially it's always the same. Yet, as a mother of a toddler, I'm often finding myself coming and going from the room and not always able to follow the service from beginning to end. When you pick up a book and start it from a different place every week, you notice things you've never seen and they stick in your head. I've found great peace and knowledge during that service, which I'm sure on it's face, could have sounded quite dull--it's ok to say that--we've all been to dull Sunday services, yet still gotten something out of them. The point is that every week something is different even if it is the same and that in itself is a way of moving forward.

I don't know how the Duggars choose to do their Bible study, they haven't shared that with us. Jews read it in Parsha format. Each week of the Jewish year (different than the regular year) the Torah is divided into a Parsha so you read the entire Torah in one entire year: beginning and ending with Rosh Hashanah--Jewish New Year. The Torah being the first 5 books of Moses (Genesus, Exodos, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers). The rest of the books of what you'd call the "Old Testament" are called the Haftorah and those are used to supplement the study of the weekly readings. However they choose to do their Bible study, I doubt even the Duggars when they study the same lesson twice, have the same emotion twice. Because when you read scripture you're never in the same place emotionally and emotion is part of interpretation and takes bearing on scritural study. It wouldn't surprise me at all if some of the kids had taken on the task of reading the entire Bible cover to cover. Moving forward.

One quote Jim Bob likes to use when tackling a huge problem is "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Deep down and probably away from a camera where he's "camera goofy" he's not a stupid man. He knows how to tackle problems and fix them or at least identify them and acknowledge that you might have to wait for them to be fixed. Patience while looking ahead to the future--eating that elephant one bite at a time--moving forward, even a bit slowly.

This family will continue to move forward. They'll do it in their own Duggar way with their usual Duggar spirit and their famous Duggar trust in G-d. I have no doubt in that.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gallbladders, C-Sections, and Michelle Duggar: A Family Pulls Together

Speaking of kicking someone while she's down. It's troubling to read so many negative posts about a woman I have so much respect for. And this time for her continued lack of hands-on parenting. It's as if people are forgetting that just a few months ago she went through emergency surgery for not only a c-section but her gallbladder. There is a recovery period for both of those surgeries and both of those combined mean you can't always lift and carry small children around, even though you want to.

I have noticed in recent episodes that during the interviews Michelle looks great, but in the regular action shots she doesn't look herself. She seems tired and pale. I think she's very tired and probably stressed. I'm worried about her and hope her health is good. I've also noticed that Jim Bob is definately picking up his fair share of the childcare, which is fabulous. This family is pulling together so wonderfully throughout this trying time. I've also noticed the boys are doing more than their fair share than usual, which should give the anti-Duggars something to shush over. This really is a family pulling together not pulling apart.

Why am I bringing this subject up? Well I've had a c-section and the recovery wasn't the most pleasant experience of my life. I was lucky on one hand, being that my daughter was in the NICU (lucky you ask?) Well, I didn't have to be responsible for her day to day care so I had time to recover without having to care for a newborn at the same time.

Coming up in 3 days I will be having my gallbladder removed--meaning I won't be lifting my 3 year old for at least a week, maybe more, depending on how the surgery goes. I can't imagine what it would be like combining those two operations at once--both of them in emergency situations. Frankly I think she's handling it far better than I ever could. I'm dreading my upcoming surgery so much that I'm having my parents come down to care for us because I'm so sure I won't be able to care for my toddler while my husband is at work.

It's been the same way around here. Normally the household issues are my issues, but since my gallbladder has taken over my life, my husband has really taken up for me. It's been amazing and quite stunning really. Wow! Now that's love when you find the floor vacuumed for you and he understands that the dusting hasn't been done.

That's what families do when the going gets tough, they pull together. They also make time for some fun. Last weekend we went to a picnic in the mountains just like the Duggars went to a trip to the mountains. Sometimes when you need to get rid of stress you need to get out of your element and see some new scenery and get a new perspective. Sometimes you have to spend some time with other people (it was a family reunion of my husband's boss) to forget your worries and problems (upcoming surgery) and watch your daughter play with the other kids and run in the races and win toys as she crosses the finish line. (No they didn't eat bugs.) Families are amazing things--they live, they grow, they are constantly moving, and the right one will never let you fall.