Monday, May 12, 2008

Talk about a line for the bathroom!

Published May 12,2008

Michelle Duggar of Arkansas is pregnant with her 18th child.
Yep, 18. A dozen and a half.
But, wait, it gets better.
The names of the 17 she already has all start with the letter J — Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah and Jennifer. There are 10 boys and seven girls, ranging in age from 20 years to 9 months.
The family lives in a 7,000-square-foot house in Tontitown, in the northwest corner of Arkansas, not far from the spot where Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas meet.
And if that isn’t enough to make your head explode, I have even more.
She homeschools them all.
Maybe you already know about the brood of Duggar and her husband, Jim Bob. They’ve been on cable TV reality shows and have made appearances on network news shows like “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show.”
I must have missed all of that because the first time I heard about this family was last week when we carried a story about her latest pregnancy — just in time for Mother’s Day.
I always thought I accomplished a lot raising two kids. Kind of put me in my place as a mother.
I tried to figure out how they could afford all those kids.
They claim to be able to feed the entire brood for less than $2,000 a month but, shoot, even if all they eat is toasted cheese sandwiches, it would take two loaves of bread just to give them each one sandwich.
Maybe money isn’t an issue anymore what with their celebrity status and all — but it still made me wonder.
When Jim Bob, a former state representative who made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, was asked what he did for a living, he didn’t give a direct answer. He just said he is still guided by a seminar he went to 20 years ago that blends finance and religion.
Hmm. Somehow that brought into focus the fact I would never understand any of this.
And, seriously, who has 18 kids?
The family is taking it on the chin all over the Internet. It’s getting pretty nasty. They say the parents aren’t taking care of the kids, the kids are taking care of the kids.
And Mama Michelle — called “Jichelle” by bloggers because she’s the only one in the family without a J-name — didn’t help herself when the first words out of her mouth after delivering little Jennifer last year were that she couldn’t wait until the next one.
This warning was posted on one blog: “Please note that we will not be hosting a discussion on whether their number of children is right or wrong, as the last two posts we've attempted to run have been closed due to fighting.”
It’s a hot-button issue, all right, the question of just how many children one set of parents can adequately care for.
There has been a continuing story in The Chronicle about a woman in Sheffield Lake who had more than 80 cats.
She really loves all those cats, and they seem to be well-cared for, but Sheffield Lake says 80 cats are just too many — and to show it is serious, it has vowed to levy fines against the woman until she gets rid of all but four of them, the maximum number of cats one person is allowed to have.
Now, I’m not suggesting the Duggars be fined until they get rid of some of their kids, but, hey, maybe Sheffield Lake has an idea about what a kid-limit should be.

Patti Ewald is managing editor of The Chronicle. You can reach her at BTW, the Web site that shut down negative comments on the Duggars is However, it did recommend people with a beef check out the forums on

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Money talks but we don't always listen

Published May 5, 2008

It was late afternoon on the beach, and I was hungry.
"Let's go for a walk and find something to eat," I said to my husband.
He came willingly, so I guess he was hungry, too.
We walked and walked and walked. Lots of condos and hotels but no restaurants.
We finally spotted a place where we could sit out on a deck.
We found an empty table with an umbrella and sat down.
A waitress came over.
"It's two-for-one happy hour," she said.
The sun, the beach and two-for-ones. Life doesn't get much better.
A couple of salads, blackened grouper sandwiches and two-for-ones later, we sat looking out at the water and batting away pesky sand flies.
"I hope we have enough money," my husband said casually. "How much do you think it's going to be?"
Hmmm. Probably something we should have thought about before we upgraded our potato chips to French fries - or maybe even before we ordered our two-for-ones.
"I don't know ... $30 maybe.'
With that, I thrust my hand into my beach bag and he stuck his hand into the pocket of his swimming trunks.
Together we had $36.
"That should be enough," I said.
"I don't know ..." my husband said just before the waitress put the faux-leather folder containing the bill on the table.
He opened it up.
I stuck my hand back into the beach bag and swirled it around on the bottom.
A camera, a book and some suntan lotion. No more money.
"I'll walk back to our hotel and get my debit card. I'm tired of these flies anyway," I told my husband as I reached down to swat at one biting my leg.
It took me awhile - it was quite a way down the beach - but I brought back the card.
Another problem solved. We paid the bill and left.
Our sons weren't with us that day, but the story would not have surprised them. They grew up with parents who have a clueless disregard for money - and the lack thereof.
My boys know all too well about people who don't have money.
The test will be whether they can deal with people who do.
My younger son's girlfriend comes from a very wealthy family, something that hasn't been a problem - until the other day when he got into an argument with her father.
They were together because her father had come to help her pack her stuff and haul it home from college for the summer.
Things were going well between the three of them for most of the day, my son said. And then it got ugly.
"He treated me like dirt," my son said.
Then he related the profane and condescending things the father had said to him. They had been drinking, so the words were no doubt fueled by alcohol, something I tried to tell my son.
"He's probably just used to getting his way. You're taking it personally, but it's probably the way he treats everyone."
"I tried to apologize, and he wouldn't even shake my hand," my son said.
I didn't know what to say. I guess there's no way to teach our kids about the people they'll encounter when they grow up. Shoot, forget about potty-training, this is the tough parenting stuff.
We'll just have to wait and see if my son and his girlfriend get through this.
I suspect they will, because up until now most of the things my son has told me about her father have been positive.
Or maybe they were just about him being positively rich.