Monday, August 14, 2017

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "The Room Project": Mind NOT blown

Catching up on some more old recaps! You can review the discussion thread of this episode here. Enjoy! 

It's interesting to watch The Room Project, which aired over two and a half years ago (sorry for my tardiest recap yet!), from the perspective of now. Things are so different today, with Collin gone, the chickens gone. But, so much remains the same. There's still the same amount of bickering and yelling and overall stress whenever they do anything.

I hate people who drop pronouns when they speak. This is Kate: Got back from summer vacation, put kids back in school. No, it's we got back from summer vacation. I put kids back in school. Grr! And there's that odd, stilted language again. You put kids back in school, like you might put away the pool toys for the summer? Not, "the kids started back up with school?" Strange.

For some reason Kate has the kids lined up on the stairs to lecture them, only she more seems to be lecturing the producers about what's happening, and she calls all the nasty acne on her face shingles. That's not shingles, it's acne. She needs to get a better doctor, as "stress"-related shingles has been thoroughly debunked much like no doctor anymore thinks ulcers are caused by stress (they are caused by a bacteria called h.pylori). Shingles is caused by a virus, not stress. Kate always has some weird stuff going on with her skin, I'm guessing she's the type who never washes her face before bed out of laziness. The kids look really bored.

Spoiled Mady and Cara are demanding their own rooms and have been for a while. In a family of eight kids, usually you tell your kids, "too bad." Not Kate though, she's going to make it happen. After all she's got to maintain some kind of leverage or at any time they could quit wanting to film anymore.

There's a TV and VCR in the boys room. I personally think kids should not have TV's in their room, and for that matter adults shouldn't either if they can stomach it. Not only is it a huge time suck and a distraction, but virtually every study concludes that it interferes with a good rest. Naturally, Kate is moving the boys' room to, you guessed it, the basement. Heh, you can't make this stuff up. They show a 3D rendering of the entire layout of the house, which I find extremely reckless. I guess she's never heard of cases like Elizabeth Smart or JonBenet Ramsey, where criminals get to know the layout of the house first before striking.

Mady is hysterical over something, wiping tears from her cheeks. I can't quite make out what the problem is. It's something about Kate warning them that cameras were coming up to their room and a dispute over when or who would clean up. In any case, it should be illegal to film your child when they are this upset. In California, it is. By law, a set teacher would have shut down production, and made sure the child was comforted and mentally stable before filming resumes. All Kate can say is people should feel sorry for her having to deal with Mady. Right, Kate, all the sympathy should be on you. Asshat.

Kate's one of those who has to remind you every five minutes they're sick. She has shingles. Yes, we heard you the first time, duchess. Kate's really loving her pink-hued French tip dated manicure she got. She's waving her fingers so close to the camera her hand is starting to look double the size of her head. Perspective, ya gotta think about that when you're on camera.

I would say I can't believe the way the kids mouth off to Kate, but I've seen it so much in the two years since this episode I've almost gotten used to it.

Kate is still trying to sell some kind of B.S. that having kids this age is so much harder than when they were infants, plus, she's a single parent. Heh. Single parenthood was her choice, by the way. The younger girls are very adamant about not moving, though I can't quite figure out why they are so against it. It is very noticeable to me that I never see the boys stomping around like this the way the girls do, refusing to go along with the plan the adults have decided for them. And therein lies the problem, the girls think they get to tell an adult what to do and what decisions to make. And that's one reason why, sorry to say, Kate has failed as a parent. She has instilled no sense of authority or respect in her.

The kids are ungrateful, Kate tells the camera. Her kids are ungrateful, it's true, but it's not fair to tell the public that, especially when you are the root cause of it. If you have an ungrateful child, you work on in privately with them, and perhaps with their teachers and therapists. You don't tell the world about your problems.

Mady is still hysterical, what the hell? She is red faced and sobbing. Could Kate be a good mother just once, once, and shut down filming until Mady gets a hold of herself? She is repugnant. The true nature of why Mady is so upset is becoming clearer. She is troubled that the younger girls don't want to move, and she offers to cancel the whole thing if it's going to make them this upset. That's nice of her, actually. I've said all along there is a kind soul in Mady, and I think it genuinely does upset her that her younger siblings are so ticked off about this move.

Kate says she should have just remodeled her own bedroom and be done with it. It's rare I agree with her, but I think she's right. There is nothing about these kids that suggest they deserve a new room. Or, give the boys their own room, as they behave and are grateful. And when the girls earn it, someday they can have theirs, too. I remember getting my own room at about age 13, and I don't remember having any negative feelings about it. It was pure excitement, and I loved it, even though there were downsides, like it was smaller than my old room (which I shared). I'm not saying that to propose I was some kind of perfect child, far from it, but I was raised to be appreciative, and when you are raised as such, it doesn't really cross your mind to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The conflict escalates to getting a little grabby and physical, and now Leah is sobbing, too. What a mess.

Kate makes a ridiculous comment that everyone's lives are stressed and that only the strong survive. Let me explain something to her. Stress is something that, barring mental health issues, you choose to invoke to react to your situation. You can choose to deal with a lot on your plate or difficult problems by being "stressed," or you can choose to be calm, rational, and low key about it.


A lot of potential stress triggers are also avoidable, so you can also plan ahead to mitigate stress. So no, not everyone lives in a constant state of stress. I don't, even though objectively, you might say there are things in my life that could be "stressful." For instance, the dozen child abuse cases I work on Monday through Friday and often weekends, too. I don't feel stressed about them in the slightest, however, because I don't approach them from such a negative emotional place. I think if I did let myself feel overwhelmed, I wouldn't be able to handle them as well. As for Kate's comment only the strong survive, realize she's talking about switching around a couple of bedrooms! Survive?? So dramatic.

They check out the basement where the boys' room will be. Thank goodness it has some big long windows, which makes me think this is a ground level "basement." Much less like a prison. It's going to need a lot of work, right now it houses Kate's storage of a fuckety billion BBQ sauce bottles and cleaning products fit for the apocalypse, and her freezers. Remember when she was bragging about all of those freezers? Wasn't that on her blog somewhere? Lol, I remember what fun we had snarking on her back when blogging was her flavor of the month. I guess if North Korea really does go nuclear this family is going to be eating a heck of a lot of BBQ chicken.

Because they're going to paint anyway, Kate lets the kids graffiti the walls with paint samples. That is really neat, though she has to suck the fun out of it by shouting orders at them and making them wear huge plastic smocks like they're about to go on Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. Don't they have old painting clothes they could wear, the kind you just toss after it gets dirty?

Collin is as talkative and happy as I've ever seen him, thrilled with how he painted his name on the wall so colorfully and also painted a crying smiley face who doesn't want him to leave the room. Aw. Collin goes around and says goodbye to all of the murals they painted, and then the room. Double aw. This, Kate, is why people keep asking, "where's Collin?" We like the kid.

Mady has speckles of paint all over her feet somehow, and leaves the room, getting some drips on the hallway floor. On the one hand, you just want a strangle a kid for doing that. On the other hand, Mady is sorry, and because they noticed it right away, Kate was able to rub the paint right off. No harm. Kate opened the door when she allowed them to paint. Any time you do that, one should just assume paint will get somewhere it shouldn't be.

Some random painters are now in one of the rooms, and they painted a sample of the purple paint Kate chose. Heh, it's Barney purple now that it's on the wall, and Kate freaks out about how dark it looks. What do we do?!

Pick another color, the painter says calmly and rationally. Right, because, you just pick another color. What else can you do? He doesn't seem stressed in the slightest about any of this. I'm sure he's dealt with hundreds of people who don't like the color now that it's on the walls, which is why he painted a sample for her. I'm not a fan of various busy colors she has scattered throughout the house. It looks way too childish and dated. I notice she has evergreen in one random room, and I have a feeling the girls are going to outgrow the purple fast. More contractors are in the basement refinishing the boys' room, and it quickly looks really, really good. They've done wood paneling from the floor to halfway up, and above the wood, a very sleek slate blue paint. It looks so good I'm sure Kate had nothing to do with designing it. Kate gets the contractor to agree to cut some two-by-fours for her for a pumpkin bulls eye game. Huh? What does this have to do with remodeling the basement? Charge her extra, buddy! She awkwardly flirts with him, promising hugs and kisses. Ew. His expression is also, "ew." He suggests maybe just hugs? Heh!

I guess I didn't catch on it is Halloween time until they start carving pumpkins. Kate figures this is a good time to do it since they're stuck at home due to construction.

That's a weird comment. Number one, they always seem to be stuck at home, so I don't know why this would be any different. Number two, it's often better to leave when construction is going on. The house is a wreck and often not very livable, and the contractors usually want you out of their hair anyway. They'll call you if they need you. I wonder if these contractors got annoyed at the nine people in and out of the workspace constantly the whole time.

I have no idea why Kate is having a meltdown over the downstairs bathroom being messy, which it barely is. And why she would choose to have this meltdown now when everyone is elbow deep in pumpkin carving and can't come address the issue without cleaning themselves up first? Kate should have checked the bathroom before they started carving pumpkins. She makes a rule that "it's not mine" doesn't work anymore and if you see something messy, clean it up. In theory, yes, but in this family, that will only result in the boys doing all the work and the girls doing nothing, because they will take advantage of that.

Some of the kids are really getting antsy on the couch, closing their eyes or picking at toenails. They're two years younger than they are now, and at that age endless sit-down conversations about things they did weeks ago has to start getting really tiresome. I've always wondered how long these interviews really take door to door, but realistically, it has to be at least a few hours if not much more.

Next up they play a pumpkin bullseye game, where you have to throw little sugar pumpkins at a big bullseye spray painted sloppily on some plywood. Kate has no idea how she came up with this great idea, she says innocently. I bet I know. Cherry Crest Farm in Paradise, a mere 50 miles from her home. They were doing the pumpkin bullseye game as far back as 2014. Gotch-ya!

Wouldn't this game be much more fun if they were allowed to have some friends over, instead of having to play it with Mommy, who is a perpetual nag? Recently the kids seem to spend a bit more time with friends, and I suspect that's more because Kate really can't stop them. But even in this episode, they are well old enough to be spending most of their free time with kids their age. They just weren't old enough to tell Kate to piss off. Yet.

Lol, the pumpkins aren't smashing. They're just hitting the plywood like a basketball and bouncing off. It's making everyone agitated. Two problems here. First, I'm betting the pumpkins need to be overripe to smash easily or maybe even carved already. A sugar pumpkin you buy fresh from the store is like a rock, and you could drop it without a problem. Second, plywood is way too thin and flexible, too much give. Even something prone to smashing could bounce right off without injury. Kate really wasn't paying attention in Physics.

The twins have a lot of nerve complaining that the sextuplets are competitive and annoying. These twins are outrageously competitive themselves, and even at almost 17 now, are still trying to stack the deck in their favor whenever they play a game, to ensure they win. Two words come to mind: grow up.

Eventually after repeated hits the pumpkins start smashing, and the kids start having fun. That's a relief. Smashing good fun, says Kate. Dork.

The kids are experiencing a problem of the one percent in that they have to sleep on air mattresses and they can't find their stuff while they wait for the remodeling to finish. We meander down a little side thread in that the kids play instruments and are excited to show them off. That sounds like a short-lived endeavor, I never remember hearing about those again. The boys feed the chickens and the family cooks dinner. Maybe it's better to kill time showing old clips after all, as all this whole lot of nothing is mind-numbing.

Kate explains the way they've survived all of this over time (all of what??? She never says) .... and I almost think she is going to say by love and leaning on each other. But no, Heir Kate says it's routine! The schedule! that gets them through. Quick march! Sigh.


A couple chicken fingers and a small side salad. I guess this was back when Kate could ration their food Oliver! style. At least give them a nice honey mustard dipping sauce for the chicken. Come on!

Furniture shopping. I'm in the middle of that myself, trying to furnish a house that's double the size of any apartment I've ever lived in is quite an undertaking. It was fun at first but you get to the point where you just want a chair to sit in, any chair, and you just don't give a darn anymore. I think it's nice actually Kate takes the kids with her to do the shopping, as certainly it would be infinitely easier to shop without them. Oh, so it's the kids who are estranged from Jon who went on the shopping trip--the twins, Collin and Alexis. Collin is cute, he loves all the patterned rockers you might see at grandma's. Kate teases him, saying he's 60 years early for that. I don't mind that kind of banter with your kid, it's cute. I wish Kate would be light-hearted and fun like this with her children all or at least most of the time. I think she would find herself with much calmer, happier children. Life's short, so better to make a joke than to be a shrew, I say.

Kate's taste in furniture is 1999 at best. Her house is, to be frank, awful. It needs a remodel and to be redecorated, it's so dated. It looks to me like she kept most of the decor from the previous owners, and cheaped out on hiring a real designer for the rest, relying on Pinterest instead. Big mistake. Huge. If you know you're not going to redecorate for a very long time, then it's a good idea to buy more timeless, traditional pieces. Going with the trend of the year means you're setting yourself up to need a redo within the decade, and that's a waste of money. You can't take the no class out of that girl.

They're doing something I learned not to do furniture shopping. Don't walk into the store blind trying to find your vision. Look online first and try to know exactly what you want and what store to find it at. We've avoided a whole lot of up-selling and misdirection this way. Incidentally, the couch we just picked out, which is one of the most competitively priced yet best reviewed couches you can find (Pacific Beach designs, if you're interested), was conveniently hidden at the back of the store. They don't want you to buy that good couch, and they won't steer you that way if you go in cold. That's for smart people who find it online.

The big reveal is finally here. This woman makes my blood pressure go up, I can't imagine what she does to her own children This should be a purely happy moment, full of anticipation and excitement. Instead Kate takes it upon herself to lecture them firmly and in my view very nastily about how they need to keep these rooms nice and organized and pick up after themselves.

I have an idea. If someone is being messy and disrespectful of their space, address it with that child individually, and when it happens. The kids look at her in a daze, as why wouldn't they, as they have done nothing wrong. They haven't even seen the new rooms yet to mess them up. And I have another newsflash for Kate. Her children are teens and pre-teens. She will spend the better part of the next six years telling them to clean up after themselves, if it's that important to her. That's just part of having kids this age, and it's probably caused by a number of reasons. They don't have a concept that you pay for the space you live in, or understand what money is even worth, which often motives older people to keep it nice and protect your investment, they have many other more important things on their mind like school and friends, they could be just going through a slob stage or lazy stage, or very likely, they are modeling adults who are messy, like Kate herself, who (it's all on film) lives in a very cluttered and disorganized home where nothing seems to have its place. Kids also don't have enough life experience to understand why a mess is such a big problem (it gets harder to clean up the more it sets, it makes the rest of your life feel chaotic, you can't find things in the rubble, it's embarrassing when guests come over, etc.). Bottom line, messiness is normal in a child, and most outgrow it with help and encouragement, and most of all, patience and some compassion for their emotional development. There will be plenty of time to lecture them on this point, can they just have some calm and peace for once?

For once the boys get to go first, which is nice. Their room is, clean, I guess, and they're very appreciative. It has the wood paneling and trim everywhere as we saw before, and cool cubbies below each of the three windows. They're cute, Joel says he was so excited it was like that feeling when you're on a rollercoaster. Collin say his stomach did a U-turn, heh! What are they, 11 here? That is the best age ever.

No boys in girls room and no girls in boys? Seems like they're a little old for such a strict rule. Couldn't the rule just be, knock first?

The room is pretty bare, though, even though the boys adore it. There is nothing in there but the beds and a few pieces of ugly furniture. I hope they get to hang some cool stuff on the walls at some point. Other shows have had designers come in and do a really cool remodel of a kids' room. Check out Chip and Joanne Gaines' and what they did to a boys' room.


The vintage clock and fan, the bar, the live baits sign, the canoe acting as a window box, and the center area with some seating and a coffee table, all take a room from "meh" to marvelous. The Gaines room is the difference between kids saying, wow, thanks, it's nice, to MIND BLOWN.

I'm glad the boys appreciate this, that's benevolent of them, but it could have been so, so much more on the same or similar budget, too. What a shame.

The younger girls' room is sadly, just as uneventful. There is literally nothing in there but three beds, two dressers, and these rather dumb white boxes to store girl stuff that will end up mostly collecting dust within a year or two. Kate is so proud of the oddest things, it gets embarrassing.

So really, this wasn't a remodel or reboot even at all. Nothing cool came out of it. It was painting a few walls, and moving some furniture around. There's a Yiddish word for that, where you just move things around, fuss with things, only to be right back to where you started. Darn it, what is that?

The girls are getting lectured again? Wtf, they're not doing anything wrong but being happy about their new rooms!

Finally Mady and Cara's room. I see now, we started with the least important group, the boys, and are building up to the real stars of the show, the twins. If it's possible, the twins' rooms are even less interesting than the others. There is nothing going on there. I feel like these look very different than the twins' rooms we saw in later years. Please tell me a designer took pity on what we're seeing here and came in and did something real finally. Hm.

Kids never appreciate things, says Kate. That's not true at all. Not never, anyway, so don't say that! First of all, her boys have proven to be very appreciative of much of what she does for them. Furthermore, an adult usually must teach a child to feel and act appreciative, it often does not come naturally. So if her kids are ungrateful, that's her fault. She is the one who doesn't appreciate things, as she actually complains with a straight face that their mansion is feeling smaller and smaller the older the kids get. Well, then, toss some of their stuff, and get rid of your own piles of clutter. You'd be amazed how huge the house becomes.

No little kids in our rooms! Cara gripes. Cara, stop being eight years old. Until next time.