by Amy K. Bredemeyer
So I really and thoroughly enjoyed The Duggars: 20 and Counting. Especially when you consider how I just read the Gosselin book and wasn't that impressed. I was originally going to list 10 things, but then it was hard to narrow them down. So, I went with 21, since there are now 19 children in the Duggar family, and two parents. (Ironically, this theory worked last week without my thinking about it - there are eight children and two parents, and I listed 10 things, LoL.) Also, I hope that they write another book, since I think there are several topics untouched that would be a good read for their "fans."
Again, no specific order, although it kinda hits from the beginning of the book to the end.
1. We knew that JimBob and Michelle married young, but have you ever done the math? JimBob had just turned 19, and Michelle was two months shy of 18 when they got married. Her family was going to move to North Carolina, and to avoid being apart, JimBob pretty much begged her dad to let him marry her (they got engaged the December of her senior year of high school).
2. They didn't have a television the first year they were married, because their premarital counselor said it would be too big a distraction. I think this is a big part of why they're not big on TV now. However, they also say that they never watch their own show on tv, but we've seen that they sometimes go to JimBob's sister's house to watch.
3. Jana and John-David had bassinettes made from laundry baskets. This isn't really that intriguing to most people, and it may be that the Duggars are frugal and it would be reasonable for them. But I found it amusing just because I had a dream once, where I had a baby and we couldn't afford a crib, so it slept in a laundry basket next to the bed. I had never heard of this so I had no idea why it was in my dream, but it appeared in the book, LoL.
4. JimBob got robbed once. Michelle and Josh were asleep when two alleged customers tied up JimBob at gunpoint. They took $11 (all he had on him) and a car, but they were eventually caught.
5. Snarkers of the show often point out that JimBob does very little fathering when it comes to cooking, helping with the littlest ones, etc. BUT, when there were only four children, he at least dressed the kids, changed them, and sang to them.
6. There are a lot of photos in the book through the years, and I really enjoyed seeing the family portraits grow by one (or two) babies at a time. It's nice to get a look at the family when they were smaller and just above-average, as opposed to the mass that they are now.
7. It irks me that they call the education of a child "training." I mean, I know they get the term from their ATI stuff, but it just bothers me.
8. Jessa was five months old by the time they moved into a three-bedroom home (that they paid $65k for). That meant they had 5 months of 2 parents and 5 kids in a two-bedroom. Yikes. But it got worse. They lived in that house until they had 14 kids... that's 16 people in a 3br/2ba house! (#15 & #16 were born when they lived in an interim rental house.) The house they built started at $82k for the "kit," then another $5k for an addition.
9. The idea that the Duggars don't have debt is kinda an interpretation issue. They do mention that some medical bills take them a while to pay off, so technically they sometimes have debt in that way. But they don't borrow money at all, so no debt in that sense.
10. Michelle doesn't enjoy breastfeeding. Some of the babies didn't have much because of painful mastitis infections. And, up until baby 15, she described breastfeeding as "excruciatingly painful." Sensitive, inverted nipples caused problems, and she'd even try numbing them before feedings. (she washes with Selsun Blue, tried Nystatin, uses Lansinoh, uses Gentian Violet.)
11. The family reads Proverbs EVERY MONTH. There's 31 chapters in it, and they read a chapter every day. I find this to be very interesting. I've heard of companies with Christian missions that go over a psalm or two daily, but a chapter a day and repeating it monthly is so... different. They read it during breakfast.
12. The property that the Duggars live on now (and by now I mean in Tonitown, not the rental they're in to be near the hospital) is 20 acres and adjacent to a chicken hatchery which they converted into rental storage units. It was appraised for a million, and they bought it for $300k.
13. "Bill Gothard's 'Operational Definitions of Character Qualities'" - biblically-based character qualities. The Duggars pick one per month, and memorize the definition, discuss how it applies to everyday life, etc. Similarly, obedience is their number one rule in the house, and it has 4 points for them: Instant, Cheerful, Thorough, Unconditional
14. I really enjoyed reading about JimBob's political career. How he came to run, how he ran, how he ran again, how he tried for US senate, the bills he supported and sponsored, how the family dealt with living in Little Rock, etc.
15. Blanket Training. I know that it's been mentioned a tiny bit on the show, but I was interested in how it's done. Basically, Michelle gets the kid excited about getting to sit on a blanket. It starts at 5 minutes and gradually increases. First, they just had to listen to Michelle talk. Then they got to choose a special toy to play with (the was only available during blanket time). Sometimes this training took place multiple times a day. The older kids know it as sit-down time... but there's nothing that describes when the transition happens, how they deal with blanket time when away from home and without toys, etc.
16. Michelle is probably the first mom I've ever heard of who takes the "if you don't behave, we're going home" super seriously. On more than one occasion, she's left grocery carts in the store while hauling all of the kids back to the van for a "correction."
17. Remember when the show was really new? Like, maybe when they only had those once-in-a-while specials? The kids recited these rules they had. Did you ever think about them after that once? They're in the book, and they were lifted/altered from a friend of the family. Here they are... Always use soft words, even when you don't feel well. Always display kind actions, even if you have been mistreated. Show joyful attitudes even when no one is looking. Have sincere motives with no thought of self-gain. Think pure thoughts. Always give a good report of others; never tale-bear (tattle??) unless physical harm will come to someone - use Matthew 18. New raise a hand to hit. Never raise a foot to kick. Never raise an object to throw. Never raise a voice to yell. Never raise an eye to scowl. Use one toy/activity at a time. Never let the sun go down on your wrath. Put Jesus first, others second, yourself last; make serving your family a priority.
18. They started wearing the same colors on the same day to cut down on laundry pre-sorting. When they moved to the big house and had four washing machines, that was no longer a priority, BUT, "they still put the little ones in the same-colored shirts on any given day to make things easier" does imply that the older girls (the team leaders) choose the others' outfits daily.
19. The playroom has lockers. Some of the kids even use locks to keep out others. I find this amusing, since it seems we always see the kids playing outside, on the porch, or in the living room. Oh, and the idea that the kids can "lock up" some items is intriguing. In the playroom they have a climbing wall... so if the kids are used to it, why did Joy struggle so much when they went to a climbing wall for her birthday?
20. I know that a lot of the household items in the Duggar house are homemade (like laundry soap, they showed that on the show and the directions are also in the book), but the idea of making homemade baby wipes kinda grosses me out. Maybe I'd feel differently after I had a child, but at this point I think I'd prefer store-bought, LoL.
21. Okay, there's been a lot of flack about how the Duggars homeschool. On the show, they recently made a point to say that they "school" for six hours a day, from 8 to 4 with two hour-long breaks. But in the book, they have individual lessons or help eachother out from 9am-noon, have Michelle teach from 1:30-4pm, then another hour of individual work/practice. Oh, and ever wonder about all of those music lessons that the kids have? I did. Turns out, two violin instructors come every Friday from 10am-5pm so that everyone gets in. Piano lessons are also done at the house, since the woman comes twice a week to help with laundry. Jana (and the other interested older girls) takes harp lessons elsewhere it seems. Nothing is mentioned about the guitar (Josh and at least one other boy Duggar play it). And, speaking of scheduling, I've often wondered how all of the bath times get in. That's not really addressed, other than mentioning that after a 5pm dinner there's free time until the 8pm snack, and then there's time to brush teeth and pick out tomorrow's clothes before 8:30pm Bible reading with JimBob. Since not everyone can bathe in a 30-minute time period, no clue when it all gets in. Or at what age the kids begin handling their own bathtime routine.