Who Inspires You?

by Sheep Farmer

Several years ago, when my family was on vacation in Ohio, we made a stop at the John Rankin house. Rankin was a staunch abolitionist in the 1800s. He lived in a small house on top of a hill on the outskirts of the town of Ripley, just across the Ohio River from the slave state of Kentucky. Rankin was instrumental in the abolitionist movement. As a Presbyterian minister, he preached about the horrors of slavery; he helped runaway slaves cross the river into the free state of Ohio and he fed and housed them before they continued on their journey north. Here was a man with everything to lose and nothing to gain by helping complete strangers, yet he felt that it was his moral duty to do so. I find his story inspirational and I keep a picture of his house on my desk. Totebaggers, who do you find inspirational and why?


147 thoughts on “Who Inspires You?

  1. In my actual life, my niece and nephew on my in-law side (roughly same age as me) have raised their own children into adulthood, and began fostering infants a few years ago. Last year they decided they just couldn’t let one of the kids go because they had become very attached and she would not be going back to her parents. Now they also have the baby’s kindergarten age half-sister, who they will also adopt, and are fostering her infant half-brother. They are building on to their house to make more room. They are not wealthy, and they have no relation to these kids. They just see a need and cannot turn their backs. They inspire me to do every small thing I can do, because when you’re going through a rough patch, I think even small kindnesses make a difference. The other inspiration for me is Pope Francis. At my core, I’m judgy. I read the text of a lot of his sermons and talks, and he (along with this site!) helps me realize that my deeply ingrained ideas of How Things Should Be are meaningless, and that I should withhold judgment on people who are going it a different way. It has really changed me for the better. (Although still plenty of room for improvement).

    Re: the Underground Railroad, in searching my husband’s ancestry, there was a man in the family tree who shares the same name as my son. He was a judge, and his home was a stop for runaway slaves. You can even tour it, so it’s on the list of places to get to one day.

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Perkins

    Completely off-topic, but if you’re a Reddit fan (or even if you’re not), the usually-rigorous /r/AskHistorians subreddit is doing a hilarious April Fools thing today. Example: “Question: Why Did So Many Survivors of the Wounded Knee Massacre Go On To Become Guards in Skyrim?” One answer partway down the thread:
    “It’s kind of a dick move to joke about the “Wounded Knee Massacre” with regard to the Nords in Skyrim.
    It’s just another imperialist narrative that erases the true indigenous peoples of Tamriel. The Dwemer, Snow Elves, and Reachmen all have long histories in Skyrim that predates Nordic settlement.
    Nordic nationalist groups are engaged in an ideological project that tries to erase the previous inhabitants of the lands, pushing the surviving Reachmen to the most infertile and inhospitable parts of the province, consigning them to mountaintops and infertile lands where they are disconnected from the broader society and economy.
    In terms of the Dwemer and Snow Elves, the battle cry that “Skyrim belongs to the Nords!” shows modern Nordic attitudes towards the first peoples: one that erases these peoples from history in favour of a settler colonialist narrative.
    To co-opt the “Wounded Knee Massacre” from the indigenous inhabitants is a part of the broader imperialist project. Ignoring the rich pre-Nord history of Skyrim is a disservice to true understanding of the province.”

  3. Lousie,

    If I could go back in time, I’d love to have a martini at the White House during WWII when it was FDR, Eleanor, Winston Churchill, Lorena Hickok, Crown Princess Märtha and Harry Hopkins all living under the same roof for weeks at a time.

  4. Andy Grove (Swimming Across), Marie Curie (biography by her daughter Eve), Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place) and, while I don’t know much about him, A Soldier’s Farewell recording with Sullivan Balou’s final letter is very touching.

  5. I find that I cannot point to a few people who inspire me. I find inspiration from people who are or who have passed through my life about different elements. Examples:
    1. One friend’s kindness and generosity inspires me to be follow her example.
    2. My aunt’s application of her non-religious-based ethics inspires me (and to pass on my kids) to take ownership of being ethical when no one is looking vs. being ethical because you think God is watching.
    3. A former boss’ mentoring, creating opportunities for you to grow, catching you if you stretch too far, and willingness to allow people to change and grow inspires me to do this in the work place and with my kids.
    4. An older friend and her husband, who after 50 years of marriage, it is clear they adore each other, inspires me to focus on the positives in my relationship with my partner and not on the negatives (my tendancy), and to do something nice for him daily.

  6. Oh, no, Rhett! The idea that Irving Kahn smoked and didn’t lead a healthy lifestyle and lived to 109 scares the heck out of me. Despite what I do to ensure a timely demise, now I need to have to worry about living to 109 and paying for it.

    Sigh. My dreams of that new Lincoln are fading. Thanks for ruining my day.

  7. PTM,

    He walked a lot. I get the sense you’re not a big walker. So, there’s that.

  8. I know you’re trying to help, Rhett, but I walk for an hour every day. I can stop now, though.

  9. I love the story about Irving Kahn. Some of that has to be genes. My grandmother is 98 and she is the youngest of 9. They all lived to 94 to 104 except for one sister.

    I’ve been inspired by some people I’ve known in my personal life CS famous historical people.

    I can’t stop thinking about someone that I followed for years- Lisa Bonchek Adams. I was always inspired by her, but it’s changed since she died.
    I’m really trying to live in the moment and make the most of each day.

  10. Hmm. This is something I have a hard time with – if I try to think of someone who inspires me, I just draw a blank. People who do things that I do much better than I do them just tend to fill me with despair.

  11. PTM – if you inherited good genes but smoke you may live to 99 instead of 109.

  12. WCE, I think the The Hiding Place is an incredible book. Her interaction with the former guard from the concentration camp at an event many years later is especially amazing.

  13. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for his faith, intellectual rigor, and the strength to make incredible sacrifice for the greater good.

  14. HM-I read that book before we went on that vacation. We made a detour just so I could go to the house. Unfortunately it was closed that day, so we could not go inside, but we were able to walk around outside and take pictures.

  15. Rhett, you’re killing me this week! And I’ve been so nice to you that I’ve even kept my name for you when Saac is so pissed with me that she refuses even to abbreviate it.

    Yesterday, you and Milo found me my dream car. I want that car! Then you pointed out it’s likely price. Today you identify as an inspirational figure a guy who lived to be 109 who lived an unhealthy lifestyle. When I protested, you said “but he walked”. I walk. I’ll never be able to rationalize the Continental if I’m planning to support myself till I’m 109.

    Then, when I’m finally thinking of going back to real work, with a real firm, doing real deals after having quit Biglaw, and even Small Law for the most part to make time to be with my son during his childhood, you tell me that to be a decent parent I can’t go back to work because my kid is 13 and he needs me most now!

    I now see only the Lincoln’s tail lights as it heads over the hill out of my sight forever.

  16. I know a handful of older women, ages about 70-100, who live (or lived) the way I’d like to in my old age. Adventurous, independent, courageous, generous, and loving to their family and friends. This is the opposite of many older women who seem to become frail, dependent, fearful, and more clingy than loving. Some of these older women are cranky, but mostly in an endearing way. They speak their mind, even if it offends people.

  17. CofC, you are absolutely, positively right! Except that one isn’t coming out.

    (I love the doors. What are they called? It’s something. “Gangster doors”? “Mobster doors?” “Shotgun doors?” I’d ask Rhett or Milo, but I’m irritated with both of them this week.)

  18. PTM,

    I’ll side with Milo’s theory of your likely financial situation and channel Meme and say just get the f-ing car.

  19. It is hard for me to think of people who absolutely inspire me, because in most cases, I am inspired by some aspect of their behavior but not the entire person. Most people who accomplish something cool have a lot of warts too. And the utterly saintly people out there, like Gandhi, are just more saintly than anything I could aspire to.

    I always had a crush on Patti Smith. She was the epitomy of what my teen self wanted to be, and later I admired her for first walking away, to raise her kids, and then years later after the deaths of her best friend (Robert Mapplethorpe), husband, and brother, picking herself back up and resuming her career as if she had never left.

    But there is no one whose life I really want to imitate.

  20. Thanks, folks. Suicide Doors. That’s right. Don’t you all love them?

  21. PTM –

    I showed a picture of that Lincoln to my husband and said, maybe we should consider something other than a Camry for the next car. Since we have to park outside in this climate, it is probably not doable, but I would certain add the proceeds from some of my “safe queen” watches to the new car fund to make it happen.

    And I bite my tongue rather than comment on Rhett’s article.

  22. PTM I thought of you when we were in Golden Colorado a few days ago (Coors plant)

  23. PTM, I’ve been converted from a Coors Light drinker to a Kirkland Light drinker. For an extra dollar, I get 18 more cans, and I like it just as much, if not more.

  24. PTM, your car situation reminds me of the comments my Florida uncle made when I bought a Buick Century at age 28- he said I was too young for it, and I told him it was the least stolen car in America so, given where he lives, he should get one too.

    Rhett, this was on my Facebook and “The Google” made me think of you. My Mom: I read the most interesting thing on The Google.
    Me: Mom, Google isn’t a newspaper, it’s a search engine. How do you find all this interesting stuff?
    Mom: Well, I go to The Google on the iPad, then I squirrel up to the little square box next to the round one, hit it and swoosh over. There’s all kinds of fascinating stuff there!
    That’s right, I’m the technical one in the family and that is VERY scary.

  25. I’m not inspired by Andy Grove because I want to be like him- he survived WW II as a Jew in eastern Europe, escaped from Hungary during the Revolution when the border was open then went to City College of New York where he did a groundbreaking PhD thesis that established the fundamentals of a multibillion dollar industry based on silicon, one of the most abundant elements in nature. I’ll never be like him, but struggling to understand what he figured out 50 years ago quells my whininess.

  26. WCE – that’s so funny about your mom. My mother is similarly high tech. Then again, so am I …

    PTM – I give you 5 years. There — that better? Get the car!!! :) Then load Jr. 2.0 into the front and come see us all one by one. It’ll be your Thelma and Louise moment, something he’ll never forget. You gonna deprive him of that?

  27. Ris, I’m just waiting for the new Continental to come out. I haven’t waited with such anticipation for anything since I waited for a certain book to come out September 9.

  28. PTM – DH says he can get you a better deal than I can, and can put you in touch w/ a dealer down there who’ll “treat you right.” So when Rhett arrives to drag you out to buy one, be sure to get in touch with me asap.

  29. I don’t really have a single person outside of family whom I really look up to, but different stories come and go in my mind, and some stick with me for awhile. I recently finished reading “Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors,” and this definitely qualifies. It’s October 1944 in the Pacific and the U.S. victory had become inevitable. But Japan has put together essentially a Hail Mary effort concentrating what it had left of a navy, and it all converged into the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Although the big picture, and the long-term outlook favored us, through some unfortunate circumstances, there was a smaller battle within the larger battle in which a very small American task force of a few escort carriers, a couple destroyers, and a destroyer escort were surprised by a massively overwhelming Japanese force that included battleships and heavy cruisers. Compared to the Japanese, the Americans’ ships were fewer in number, smaller in size, much less heavily armored, not properly armed for a surface engagement, and slower. They had nothing going for them, and there wasn’t going to be any significant help, and they all knew it.

    But they attacked so viciously, driving these tiny destroyers and a destroyer escort at flank speed right at ships that were three times their size and firing heavily, including (from the Japanese battleship) 3200-pound shells from 18″ guns–that’s a bullet with the mass of a medium-sized car. The destroyers were ultimately sunk, just as their crews expected they would be all along, but in the middle of all the Pacific rain squalls, the explosions, the fires, and the smoke, because the Americans had been so aggressive, the Japanese admiral believed he had been fighting a force far stronger than it was, and ultimately turned his ships away before finishing off the carriers, except for the one that had been sunk by a kamikaze.

    The surviving Americans were in the water for almost two days before being rescued, after some were lost to their injuries, hypothermia, dehydration, or sharks.

    So it’s inspiring to read about those sorts of heroics from people who know that their situation is next to hopeless.

  30. “So when Rhett arrives to drag you out to buy one, be sure to get in touch with me asap.”

    I’m not kidding, Ris, I will.

  31. P.S. I just notified Jr. that 1) he’s transferring to the big public high school and 2) I am going to continue my “retirement” to hang with him until he is 18.

    You can imagine his reaction.

  32. PTM – I strongly protest big high school for Jr. You will miss the mothers group, the auction, the uniform.
    As DS grows older, moves to a bigger school and mothers have less opportunities for volunteering I will miss seeing familiar faces of the parents. The kids are now changing so fast – I have a hard time recognizing them.

  33. I will NOT miss the mothers. Any of them.

    And they will be more than happy without me.

  34. DD, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles like that recently, given that it’s college acceptance/rejection letter season.

    I was planning to send CoC a possible post topic based, in part, on articles like this, so I’ll refrain from commenting right now.

  35. ALL of the kids I interviewed as an alum interviewer were rejected this year. I couldn’t believe it because some of them were amazing. I polled my friends that interview around the US, and they had the same result. It is so difficult to get into some of these schools, but luckily it is a small subset of most colleges/universities.

  36. Rhett, I read the article to which you posted a link about parental leave for adolescents, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal for many totebaggy parents.

    It specifically mentions 3 to 6 on school days as when adolescents get into trouble. I can see that for latchkey kids, but kids of totebaggers are typically very busy during those hours, e.g., sports practice/games, dance classes, music lessons, second (or first or third) language school, SAT prep classes, chess club, musical rehearsals, or other extra curricular activities.

    Overscheduling has its benefits.

  37. It specifically mentions 3 to 6 on school days as when adolescents get into trouble.

    Personally, I’m not sold on the idea that shenanigans (within reason) are all bad.

  38. “Personally, I’m not sold on the idea that shenanigans (within reason) are all bad.”

    I’m not sure they are either, Rhett. I was pretty bad in HS and my sisters were worse. Many of us have done fairly well and all of us are good citizens.

    But I do admit that with drugs, things can get pretty bad pretty quick.

  39. Oh no, our friend is far too high class for those obnoxious horns that at tunes, don’t you think? The only people who don’t lose by playing one are clowns.

    Lim glad to hear Junior will be in the big arena of a public high school. I’m sure he will conduct himself well, and his dad will find the freedom more refreshing than expected. Do you know yet what classes he’ll be taking
    ? It seems to me that he’s doing better than I expected from our first introduction to him a few years ago.
    Does this decision mean no more baskets, or is there one more coming this spring? The poofy cloud car might be a good theme, or “nana, nananana, hey hey hey, goodbye!”

  40. Saac, I was kidding about the public school. The continued retirement, maybe not so much. It may be forced– I’m not getting younger.

    Getting Junior into high school will be my nervous breakdown for next year when he’s an 8th grader.

  41. I have enjoyed the Lincoln side topic. Many laughs. I really hope PTM gets one. For all that driving you’ve had to endure, you should spoil yourself. You deserve it. Meanwhile, over here my DH has been drooling over the new CT6. Never mind he is at least 20 years below the key demographic.

  42. What are you thinking of for his high school? I admire how you’ve given him so much stability where he is now; that will surely help him where ever he moves on to.
    I still can’t believe anyone actually likes the cushy, riding-on-air feeling of those cars! If I have to drive, I still want to feel in control. I guess a stick would eventually be a pain in traffic, but I absotuletly want sharp responses when I judge the wheel, not a shiplike yawning turn. But then I’d go for better gas mileage too. My little man’s godfather was just telling me about his Citroen. If he has to have a car, that one sounds alright.

  43. “It specifically mentions 3 to 6 on school days as when adolescents get into trouble.”

    This overlaps with babies’ typical fuss period of 5-8p. Most doctors believe that babies fuss then because they are over stimulated. I wonder if teens get in trouble during the 3-6p period because they are over stimulated and it’s not proper to cry? Could the cure be found in swaddling? If teens are tied up they can’t get in trouble…

    …waiting for CPS’ call…

  44. Saac,

    Citroën? The same company that pionered the hydropneumatic suspension, legendary for having the smoothest floatyiest ride of them all? French cars are traditionally very floaty.

  45. I’m late to the party today, but we tried the fake egg for breakfast this morning and the kids were all amused. I’ll call that a win. My kid was happy, breakfast was fun and pleasant, *and* I set the bar low for next year.

  46. On parental time off when kids are teenagers – several of my mother’s colleagues quit their high ranking jobs because their kids were having trouble at school. It was definitely not an easy decision to quit but none of the other routes were working. One woman had a stay at home spouse but the spouse’s life at that point did not revolve around the kids. When SM described her son’s friend and what was going on, it sounded familiar.
    Several totebaggers seem to have gone part time when their kids are older so that they are better able to manage the needs of older kids as well as be available for their parents.

  47. I wonder if teens get in trouble during the 3-6p period because they are over stimulated and it’s not proper to cry?

    More likely, they’re home from school before their parents and the house is empty.

    I doubt that the new Lincoln’s suspension will have that unsettling floatiness of the old days. I think it will be moderately firm but very muffled. The old binary tradeoff between stiffness for handling and bounciness for comfort has been nearly eliminated with modern technology. I’ve further read that what we perceive in modern cars as a “sporty ride,” which, when you get down to it, is supposed to indicate a superior ability to hold traction in a turn under higher lateral g-forces, is just a marketing package at this point. What’s worse, the tweaks that automakers use to make it feel sporty often have the effect of REDUCING its ability to hold a tight turn.


    “The Mentalist” Patrick Jane drove a Citroen like that.

  48. Louise – I would say that rearranging my work schedule so I’m home after school with the kids is the best decision I’ve ever made, for the kids and for myself. And though I thought it was important when they were in upper elementary school (and it was) with every new year, it feels even more important, each year for different reasons.

    It was a total mommy track move – I would never be considered as a real candidate for GC now – and not everyone could handle that. I thought I might have an issue with it myself but I never have.

    For any younger parents here who feel conflicted about working full time while their kids are little, I would say, take heart. Keep it up, build more and more good will at work and at some point, consider flexing your schedule so you are home after school. No need to quit or go part time – even simply transferring operations to the house in the afternoon so you are present there is a great thing.

    When the kids were quite young, I was so envious of the moms who stayed home full time. But now, I’m very glad I kept working and was able to get this flexible position. I find it the best of both worlds. And for many of us here, this is the sort of situation more in line with savings plans etc, not to mention intellectual stimulation.

  49. Rhett, the Citroen may float, but the gas mileage is ridiculously good, something like 50 mpg!

    Tulip, you might call that a low bar, but I thought I was doing well when I set out an April Fools after school snack of frozen Lucky Charms (WCE–funny re the green ones) and jello in a cup. The frost on the glass cereal bowl gave that one away, but I got him with the Jello!

  50. I’ve been saying for years that being around more for my kids as they grew older was so much more important than it was when they were elementary-aged and younger. This applies both logistically and socially. Finding a flexible position for me was hard, and complicated. So when I had the choice to stop working, I did. Of course there are some regrets, but looking back we still believe it was the right choice.

  51. Oh yes, for avoidance of doubt, I personally didn’t find Tulip’s bar low at all. I have never done any April Fools tricks so no bar could be lower than mine.

  52. It sounds like what the experienced parents of teens are saying is that at some point it does become quantity, rather than quality. That’s what I thinK I’m seeing–as long as I’m home, passing by where he is from time to time, maybe making the occasional comment, I don’t have to be actively engaging with him. At this point, I think he would find the “let’s play a game together. Now you can help me food the laundry” bit really annoying, and he knows now that folding laundry is a chore. We might play a (phone) game together, but generally the time hanging out is what gets him to open up and start talking to me. Do you guys who’ve been through this stage agree? It does seem backwards that DS will officially be a teen in early Oct & my goal is to be working by the end of the year, after several years with him, but I think that his needs were much higher than most kids during the elementary years.

  53. I think all kids are different, saac. When I was in HS, my Mom was working mostly full time, and traveling frequently, often away for three days or a week at a time, and this often coincided with my Dad’s travel schedule. It worked out fine. I got the house to myself, and they got a free pet-sitter out of the arrangement.

  54. What I have heard from parents – I don’t know if it is true or false is that their kids were getting little or no homework in elementary school. Then suddenly in middle school the amount of homework increased. There has been a fair amount of talk about transition to middle school with some kids considering leaving their neighborhood schools and trying for magnets. Some families live further away from magnets so a lot more commute time has to be factored in.

  55. Saac: I wouldn’t worry about your job getting in the way of your parenting. You’re simply modeling the benefits and challenges of having a career to your DS. You’ve taught him to be independent, so spending a few hours alone every day shouldn’t be a big deal. For DS1, who is introverted, being alone for a few hours is a blessing. My more social DS2 prefers to have people around, but can take care of himself, too, for a few hours.

  56. “I think all kids are different, saac.” Yes!

    An introverted kid, for example, may not want to spend much time at all with their parents. But they may want to know their parents are available. That doesn’t preclude a parent from working FT, but it may. It depends.

    Being around simply to observe more was a big deal for me, and to deal with the logistics of activities, And being able to deal with impromptu stuff. But mainly I spent my time eating bonbons and watching soap operas. :D

  57. And let me add that being around did not mean I stepped in to solve every problem my kids had, but being around to observe helped me better judge when I should be stepping in. Not that I always got it right, of course …

  58. First thing first – the wedding was great! Loved the ice cream sundaes for the reception. And loved that ppl took time to answer James’s questions as he filmed. I do love the respect in that family. I would think most older sibs on their wedding day would tell him to get that camera out of their faces.

    What does Ben do for a living and how did they meet?

  59. Milo, we continued to be creeped out by Jim Bob’s seeming obsession with their kiss. It made me laugh that even their minister thought it was weird that they hadn’t kissed. We liked her dress. And finally, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that you would invite people to drive hours to rural Arkansas, where presumably restaurant options are limited, and offer them no more hospitality than a scoop of ice cream and cup of water in a parking lot that they have to queue up for. i can’t imagine.

  60. Risley, he used to replace windshields, but presumably will work for Jim Bob now. They met at church, I would guess in a youth group.

    I also did like that they were all being nice about answering James’ questions, and that the girls are so supportive of each other.

  61. MBT – agree JB is overboard about the kiss. He seems to revel in kissing in front of kids who “can’t” kiss yet and I don’t like that.

    Good point about not providing your guests with real food. I was thinking it was nice that they were so simple but of course the guests might have disagreed !!

  62. In terms of friends and neighbors and taking time off to be with their teens full time – at least around here, it’s the totebag/academic version of the stage mom. There is an interesting class dynamic as well as it seems among the working and middle class you get more the dance mom, cheer mom, sports dad. But, when you move up, it starts being more and more about academic competition.

  63. I switched to part time when DS started high school. Older ones didn’t need me at home–very responsible. DS not so much, so I could see the potential for disaster. And staying on top of it as he found his high school peer group was important. So yes kids are different!
    I think it’s helped him, but the jury will be out on that one for a long time.

  64. I’ll share one example of being the totebag stage mom. From volunteering in school and being around more, I became friendly with a teacher who advised a club that was perfect for one of my kids. I pushed my kid to join, and it ended up being a very important extracurricular where he was able to shine and probably played prominently in his college application. Now, has this critical to my kid’s happiness and success? No, but it was an example of how being able to be an involved parent was probably a good thing. OTOH, maybe it crippled my kid’s ability to choose another activity that would have been more important. I don’t think so, but who can say for sure.

  65. Saac – as for what I did/do in afternoons with kids. Before we had kid drivers, I fetched them from school and did whatever sports carpool we needed. Took them to a friend’s or had the friends over. Helped with homework or just oversaw it was getting done, chatted to them while we hung out in the kitchen snacking, etc. Made dinner, ran any errands they had like new cleats or school supplies – freeing up weekends for laziness.

    Now I do way less driving but still hang out in the kitchen while we snack and chat. After that it depends on the day and the kids. Some want to hang out till dinner, some go their own way. I’m always willing to hang out but if they all are into homework or their own thing, I’m happy to do my own thing and if they need something, they can find me. Usually they each find me and sit for a minute to discuss whatever, then disappear.

    From about 4:30-6:00 we are often all/most in the kitchen while they finish homework and/ or chat all together and I make dinner.

  66. I am away from home on a phone, so I can’t engage in a discussion about dialing down work in the teen years, but I respectfully disagree with the general consensus. A child of any age, including some young adults, is no different than any other “boss”. When they want you, they want you right now, and the moment may pass. Whether they neeeeed you, that is open to debate. Parenting fashions change, but what does not change is the cultural obsession with the idea that there is a magic formula to bringing up a successful child, whatever your vision of success. If your child has a lot of bumps in the road or ends up a mess in adulthood, it means that somebody (usually the mom) made poor or selfish choices.

  67. And finally, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that you would invite people to drive hours to rural Arkansas, where presumably restaurant options are limited, and offer them no more hospitality than a scoop of ice cream and cup of water in a parking lot that they have to queue up for. i can’t imagine.

    Well, I think Bentonville does have decent restaurants, or so I’ve heard, based on the major corporate influence in the area. But that’s still beside the point. Not even did the guests line up for a scoop of ice cream, the Duggars posted sign-up sheets for volunteers to serve the ice cream! So you may drive for hours to be part of the unpaid staff. (Of course, I would do it just to meet everyone ;) )

    Their wedding planner was freaking about the cold (or “cold”) and unsuccessfully trying to procure propane heaters, but at least it looked like a very pleasant, very sunny Fall day. For tailgating, it would have been perfect weather. And so I thought, maybe that’s how they should have done the “reception.” Because I can totally sympathize with the idea that most people will quickly go broke trying to offer a traditional wedding reception to 1300 guests, but accepting that limitation, I think it would be fun to go to a tailgater wedding where everyone brings portable grills and food to share.

    What does Ben do for a living and how did they meet?

    From the Duggars’ site:

    We met Ben when his family came to visit our church. Afterwards we invited their family over to our home for fellowship, as we often do with guests to our church. I think Ben spotted Jess, but he didn’t go up to her then. We’d met Ben’s parents years ago when we were in the Little Rock area while Jim Bob was serving in the legislature. We visited a church that they attended, so we did know their family in a roundabout way, just a distant friendship.

    During fellowship at our home, Ben and Jim Bob would often sit with the guys and talk about doctrine and the Bible. At one point, Jim Bob said to Ben, “You know, you’ve been bringing up a lot of these truths from the scripture. This is a topic that we’ve actually been talking about in our home and Jessa has really been studying this very thing. You guys would probably enjoy talking about it. So why don’t you text her?”

    Ben is on the Duggar payroll, and I believe that it’s legitimate work, considering how many little income streams they keep afloat. Also, in Ben’s defense (from the online critics), the boy is only 19. In Totebagville, he would have at least 10 more years to mature, figure out what he wants to do, take a gap year, change his major, go to grad school, try an internship…

    Jim Bob let Ben Seewald move into a tiny, windowless guest house on the Duggar compound late last summer. The 19 Kids and Counting patriarch admits that he did this in hopes of speeding up Ben and Jessa’s courtship, but he also wanted to put his future son-in-law to work. During an August interview with People, Jim Bob talked about Ben Seewald’s big move.

    “We have so many projects to do that we need help for – everything from construction projects to keeping the grass mowed to putting roof on a building, paperwork and things like that – and we asked him if he would be interested in moving up here so that Jessa and his relationship could be really accelerated.”


    It made me laugh that even their minister thought it was weird that they hadn’t kissed.

    I think it’s interesting in a PR, messaging sort of way how the family and the show make such a big deal about the “first kiss,” but they do so in an unspoken way as a family-friendly substitute for ever mentioning the much more loaded and powerful first intercourse. “We’re really excited about our first kiss.” “They purposed to wait for their first kiss.” “Are you nervous about your first kiss?” Hellooooo??? Your first kiss is one thing, but is that really what you’re thinking about in light of what’s coming a couple hours later?

    Finally, about the wedding, DW liked her dress but didn’t think that the bridesmaids’ dresses were close to the same level of formality. I pointed out that the groom’s and groomsmens’ outfits were kind of ridiculous because the shirts were very casual, but then they added pink bowties. And only the groom got a jacket. Oh well.

    I really liked Ben’s parents. I wonder if they privately think “What the Hell did our DS get into?”

  68. From volunteering in school and being around more, I became friendly with a teacher

    The other huge value in that is knowing “the lay of the land” in terms of class and teacher selection. But, to your point, teachers are going to give a kid the benefit of the doubt grade wise if a lower grade is going to cause tension with a parent they see every day. Alternatively, it’s only human nature to give the benefit of the doubt to someone they are friendly with.

  69. Meme, what were your after-school hours like when your kids were in high school and you were working? CoC’s description sounds like what ‘saac and I do now, and is why I think it’ll be fine to start back at work. The boy needs an example he can look up to, and as long as I can go in early enough to be home an hour or so after he is, I’m thinking that he can hang with me in the kitchen while I sort mail, make dinner, etc. If he wanders off, he’ll still know where to find me.

  70. on the wedding subject, it used to be customary (maybe still is some places) not to serve any food. I think when my parents married at their church, there was punch, mints, and peanuts. That was typical church wedding fare. The Duggars have a huge family, not sure what they make from the show, but I wouldn’t think they would be throwing all of their kids elaborate wedding receptions.

  71. “The other huge value in that is knowing “the lay of the land” in terms of class and teacher selection. ”

    I have left this to DS, who goes to a large urban high school. Good practice for college. I don’t always agree with DS’ course selections, but it’s his life and he knows what he wants.

    My after school routine is very similar to Risley’s.

  72. winemama – Also, it seems that when you get south of Richmond, even if it’s a relatively fancy wedding reception, you’re not necessarily going to get an assigned seat, or even your own seat. There will be tables and chairs, but like lifeboats on the Titanic, not enough for everyone. The food will be at various stations (and it’s often elaborate and exceptional).

    The plus side is that it encourages more mingling than you would otherwise have.

  73. @Milo – lassoing a groom is pretty common in the home country. I don’t think Ben’s parents should have been surprised. Casual visits are never just that.
    Also, as a kid we attended quite a few receptions with large numbers of guests – you went to the stage, wished the bride and groom, handed over your gift, ate your ice cream, drank your soda. You were lucky to be served chips with that. It has changed. Wedding guests now expect a meal.
    The number of guests is stil large but not many as in years past.

  74. You have to get a job first before worrying about what hours you will be home

  75. Milo, I hadn’t thought of Bentonville. I was thinking of Littke Rick and Ft Smith, which are 2-3 hours away. I guess my takeaway is don’t invite 1300 people if you can’t afford to host 1300 people. I was pretty aghast at the sign up sheets too, and the lack of entertainment, but the no music/dancing is standard in the region for many Christian denominations. (I was the token Catholic in one office I worked in, so a couple of women made a huge deal of telling me when they went to their first Catholic wedding, in their mid-50’s, and saw dancing at a wedding for the first time.) And I agree with your DW on the bridesmaid’s dresses. I was not a fan. It drove my daughter crazy that the bow ties did not match or coordinate in any way with the dress color.

  76. I’ve never been to a wedding reception that had assigned seats

    As the Census data has shown the great migration southward, what I’ve seen on a few occasions now is the groom’s parents, with their mid-Atlantic or Northeastern values, not totally buying into the southern tradition of limited reception seating, so the rehearsal dinner ends up being the one with assigned seating and table service, and in some ways more formal than the wedding reception with its stations and buffets.

  77. Winemama – really, wow! I have only been to one where there *weren’t* assigned seats (non-coincidentally, my friend who got married was Southern) and limited reception seating as Milo describes. I was not a fan – I ended up sitting on a windowsill and balancing my plate over my (non-trivial cost) dress.

  78. A wedding with no drinking, dancing or food? No wonder the divorce rate is so high in that area.

  79. This is why the rest of us are so astounded at the suggested “price of admission”/ wedding gifts suggestions from those of you in the Northeast. I think the key to the buffet-style/ multiple food station wedding is either a good staff bussing tables constantly or well disciplined guests who clear their places when they’re done. People don’t like to sit where there is evidence of someone having just used the table.

  80. I think the key to the buffet-style/ multiple food station wedding is either a good staff bussing tables constantly or well disciplined guests who clear their places when they’re done. People don’t like to sit where there is evidence of someone having just used the table.

  81. A wedding with no drinking, dancing or food? No wonder the divorce rate is so high in that area.


    not a good way to start a marriage IMO, there must be drinks and dancing!

  82. The Totebag and TOS have made me realize how different the east coast area is from the rest of the states

  83. My personal opinion is that the divorce rate is so high because of the wait-til-you’re-married mindset exemplified by the Duggers. Just like Jessa and Ben, young couples accelerate their courtship and get married to someone they’ve known only a couple of months to avoid the grave sin of ore-marital sex, because apparently the grave sin of divorce is of much lesser consequence.

    The thing that blows me away the most about the Duggar weddings is that until their wedding day, the couple has never even had one personal, unchaperoned conversation Ever. How can you know you want to marry someone if you’ve never even had a private conversation with them?

  84. My personal opinion is that the divorce rate is so high because of the wait-til-you’re-married mindset exemplified by the Duggers.”

    I’m very skeptical that there are that many people who are actually waiting, and that the number would be high enough to affect the overall divorce rate.

    I’m not confident that the divorce rate stats are adequately controlled (or even attempted to be controlled) for education or socioeconomic status. I would further point out that the nation’s overall divorce rate is skewed upward very significantly by people who have been divorced previously–your marriage is far more likely to end in divorce if you’ve already been divorced. This tends to refute the idea that romantic experience is a key to marriage success.

  85. you’re right Milo – not enough people “wait” to make that big of an impact on the divorce rate

  86. btw, I told you my personal snipers can’t be bothered to think. Look at this one who thinks it’s easier to negotiate after you get a job instead of looking for one that fits your requirements. Lol!

  87. “teachers are going to give a kid the benefit of the doubt grade wise if a lower grade is going to cause tension with a parent they see every day. Alternatively, it’s only human nature to give the benefit of the doubt to someone they are friendly with.”

    This goes to the heart of why public school politics is so dysfunctional and why the deck is stacked against parents who want reform. You probably know I’m very unhappy with our schools. I’ve toyed a bit with school activism and have been urged to run for school board, but if I publicly advocated for the changes I want I’m sure my kids would suffer. I hear this from other parents, too. Meanwhile, the kids of school board members are doing just dandy, so they consistently support the status quo.

  88. CoC’s stats are fascinating. So the key is to date for a couple years first, make $125k+, and have a huge wedding that costs relatively little.

  89. I’m very skeptical that there are that many people who are actually waiting, and that the number would be high enough to affect the overall divorce rate.

    Age of first marriage highly correlates with the divorce rate. The younger you get married the first time the more likely you are to get divorced.

  90. I did know a fair number of people who waited. There were girls who were getting married right after college graduation who felt positively scandalous starting their birth control pills while living I the sorority house. The city I lived in had a large number of conservative religious colleges and mega churches, so I worked with graduates of these schools. More than one told me they had moved up the wedding date because it was getting so hard to wait. When there is no caterer or band to reschedule, this is much easier!

  91. My parents went to college in Northwest Iowa but my Dad lived for free in one of my grandfather’s under-renovation apartments while he worked construction in Denver before they were married. Denver was a higher paying and better job market.

    My brother and sister-in-law didn’t kiss till the wedding and got married in northwest Iowa in a town with no restaurant. The sole cafe (open ~20 hours/week) catered the wedding meals and so wasn’t open while we were there. Her parents handled it by providing a buffet rehearsal dinner for everyone, not just the wedding party, and a buffet breakfast in addition to a wedding luncheon. (served in the church hall, of course) As I recall, I got to eat hot dish with French fried onions and pea salad with mayonnaise, so it was properly done. Since my Dad is also from a small town in northwest Iowa, he let them make the decisions and sent a check for his portion- he knew every detail would be the talk of the town for months.

  92. My mom and dad, who were of the Totebag class of that era, had a cake-punch-and-mints reception in 1949. Mom did say that some people were annoyed at the lack of alcohol, but she didn’t seem to care much what they thought.

  93. If anyone is still reading this thread, how many parents share after school responsibilities? Mr WCE will likely coach soccer twice/week, which puts him home kind of early, and I worked late then till the baby came. I imagined that each of us could be home earlyish (by 4?) one or two nights/week, depending on meetings, the kids could occasionally be alone after school and it would work out. I’ve also pondered a camera in the home so I can know what’s going on at work. (Our jobs aren’t compatible with always working from home, I don’t think.)

  94. “The younger you get married the first time the more likely you are to get divorced.”

    Maybe, but I think that’s only to the degree that it correlates with education. In other words, I don’t think that a 22 yo college-grad bride is much more likely to get divorced than if she waited 10 years..

  95. WCE, you’re talking about second-graders for half an hour? I would (but I never had more than 1).

    I think a 22 year old college grad is “younger” than a 22 year old who never went to college.

  96. I think a 22 year old college grad is “younger” than a 22 year old who never went to college.

    In many ways, I agree with you. I don’t think that there’s anything particular about college courses that makes someone a better marriage prospect, but I think attending and graduating from college correlates with other factors that do.

  97. My question was more for the future. Right now, they’d fight with each other. Oregon law is vague on the subject and 10 is clearly OK to be left alone.

  98. I married at 22, but had been out of college for a year, owned a home, had a full time job with benefits etc…

  99. Whether spouses share after-school duty or if it all falls on the mom. I imagined Mr WCE and I would share…

  100. WCE – we outsource, as do most of our friends, but for the people with older kids, 90% of the time the mom is the one with the more flexible job and who handles pickup.

  101. WCE, we share. I’ve probably been doing more than my wife the last couple of years because of my work schedule, but that might change in a few months. I see quite a few dads doing pickup at my kids school.

  102. Maybe, but I think that’s only to the degree that it correlates with education.

    Isn’t that part of the culture just like the early marriage?

  103. WCE, we share. My husband goes in to work much earlier than I do so he gets home mid-afternoon (barring work emergencies). But one extra-curric is a few blocks from my office so the kid whose day it is stops by on the way to and then I walk over to pick them up after and we drive home together.

  104. WCE – our kids went to afterschool care at their school. DH and I share picking them up – and also driving the soccer car pool and getting them to/from various activities.

  105. WCE – when my husband’s employer was in our suburb, we split pretty evenly, and when I traveled it was no problem for him to do 100%. Then they were acquired by a large oil company, so now he works in town and takes a vanpool, so I became the primary. Since I was working from home it was no issue. When I had to start going back in the office full-time, I had to hire a shuttle service to pick up my son and bring him home every day, but he managed in his own fine until someone got home. (Now that my daughter is going to school locally, we pay her (tax-free and double minimum-wage) what we were paying the shuttle service, and he gets home an hour earlier, so that works for everyone. )

  106. WCE, we share. DW drives a bit more in the afternoons/evenings that I do, but I think that’s partly (largely?) because she’d rather drive than prepare dinner.

  107. ““price of admission”/ wedding gifts suggestions from those of you in the Northeast.”

    It’s not just the northeast. But does this mean that in the South, with these receptions with little or no food, alcohol, or entertainment, wedding gifts are much smaller to reflect the lower costs of hosting receptions?

    I’ve seen some pretty large variations in regional and ethnic wedding traditions even before I started hearing out yet other variations here and on TOS.

    When a coworker got married a while back, there were two other coworkers who grew up on the continent and had never been to a wedding reception here before. While it was a very traditional reception by local standards, by their reactions one might think they were in a foreign country.

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