Friday, March 16, 2012

Something Different: The Bates Family

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Now, for those who don't really follow the Duggar Family or know much about their ideals and values, it may make no sense to have ANOTHER family on TLC with nineteen kids. But, the families are different in many ways, and the Bates have been on the air before - albeit, via spotlights on the 17, 18, 19 Kids and Counting show(s). [I've written about the Bates family five times in the past, if you're interested - oldest to newest it's here, here, here, here, and here.] This family excels at their music (very few of the Duggar children actually play well), has parents with college degrees, and allows the children to have varied interests. Now, I'm no expert on the Bates family, but I am surprised that they decided to take on a show of their own (eight half-hour episodes will follow this first special). TheTalkingBox will cover the show, so be on the lookout if you decide that you're interested. Now, onto the family's first solo program...

The Bates Family: Baby Makes 19: JimBob and Michelle introduce this special, about their "best friends." [really? we're going to go with that? alritey...] The background on the family is shared... Gil and Kelly met in college, lived without heat to save money, and decided a couple of weeks into marriage that they'd trust God with the number of children they'd have, thinking they'd only have a few. [it interests me that they didn't talk about this BEFORE getting married...] In 2009, they renovated their home to 4,000 square feet, so they give us a tour. Like the Duggars, they store all kids' clothing in one room. They have four washers and four dryers, but they're still in use several hours each day. Four boys share one room, three share another. Seven girls share one room and three (Erin, Carlin, and Alyssa) share another. It seems that Callie may share a bed with Michaela as well.

We see part of a typical day, which includes an 8am is wake-up time. They use an intercom but sometimes they have to go shake the kids individually as well. They have private Bible Study, then do chores (rotated monthly, and Kelly helps out with laundry, among other things), then have breakfast. They do a character lesson. They practice their instruments - the kids go to nursing homes and hospitals to encourage people through song. [we don't really see how they handle other things, but I imagine it'll come.]

The special starts with Kelly being 27 weeks pregnant, and ends with her having baby Jeb Colton when she is around 37 weeks. In that time frame we see Alyssa celebrate her 17th birthday with family and friends, plus a day of hunting with her dad and Trace (a brother), with whom she is close. Alyssa does other "masculine" things, too, like help her brothers with Gil's tree service. [so another un-Duggar characteristic there.] We also see Gil & Kelly's 24th wedding anniversary, where they head to a cabin in the same area where they honeymooned. They eat at the same restaurant almost every year! This year, the kids join them after the first night, as the cabin is large. [they actually have compact sedans, which the Duggars don't seem to bother with. The kids also carry their own bags, so perhaps packing isn't done by a single person, either.] Additionally, the family decorates for Christmas, with Erin leading the brigade.

Now, back to the baby... Gil and Kelly want the suspense of not knowing what the baby is ahead of time, but Alyssa gets to know in advance (they've done this with others, too, with Michaela and Erin). [what's the point in anyone knowing if the parents don't know?] About half of the children have come early, so Kelly is ready ahead of time. She goes for a routine doctor's appointment with three weeks until her due date, but she goes into labor. [I've actually heard of this before, I wonder how common it actually is?] Michaela goes to pick-up Gil and they head to the hospital. Several of the older girls are there to witness the birth. (Actually, Kelly's first 14 children were homebirths! But now she even gets an epidural.) There was a cute scene where Gil and Michaela argue over who gets to be the first to wish Trace a Happy Birthday over the phone, as Jeb is born on Trace's birthday.

Here's a rundown of the family, and the descriptions are from Gil & Kelly:
Zach, 23, is a county commissioner. He didn't realize their family was "large" until they got to about 6 or 7 kids.
Michaela, 22, is a "homemaker."
Erin, 20, is a "music major." [such a pretty and talented girl!]
Lawson, 19, is the cowboy. [we know he has another job, tho, as he helps the family with money, or so the rumors go.]
Nathan, 18, is the preacher.
Alyssa, 17, enjoys photography.
Tori, 16, loves to play the fiddle.
Trace, 15, loves competition.
Carlin, 13, loves crafts.
Josie, 12, reads.
Katie, 11, loves animals.
Jackson, 10, is a tree-climber.
Warden, 8, loves football.
Isaiah, 7, has no fears.
Addalee, 6, loves to color.
Ellie, 4, enjoys tea parties.
Callie, 2, loves dolls.
Judson, 1, is all smiles.
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