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Kansas sextuplets celebrate 10th birthday

Published on -4/6/2012, 3:41 PM

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NORWICH, Kan. (AP) -- It's been a decade of too much laundry, too little money and not nearly enough sleep but Sondra and Eldon Headrick of Norwich have become accustomed to the "organized chaos" that has been their life since their sextuplets were born 10 years ago.

On April 6, 2002, after a pregnancy that lasted 31 weeks and a day, the Headricks became parents of three healthy girls and three healthy boys -- Ethan, Melissa, Grant, Sean, Jaycie and Danielle. Sondra had undergone fertility treatments to provide a sibling for their daughter, Aubrianna, who was 3 at the time.

They family moved four years ago to a modular home with a full basement in Norwich, bringing them much closer to family members who provide a lot of help with the children.

"Organized chaos" is how Eldon Headrick described family life to The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/Hnlb5u ).

They are often asked whether raising so many children becomes easier as they grow older, Sondra Headrick said.

"I think every year presents a new challenge," she said.

"It doesn't get any easier, it's just that what happens gets different," Eldon adds.

The couple doesn't often think in terms of having sextuplets any more.

"The only time you think 'I have six kids,' is when you have to buy them bicycles," Sondra said.

Or when they go to a Chinese buffet, where even the cooks come out to look verify that, in fact, seven children qualify for the child discount.

The magnitude of the parenting job is in the numbers.

Over 50,000 soiled diapers in the first two years, Eldon estimated, some of which were delivered by trucks and on pallets. Loads of laundry that seems to never end. The family van is on its second engine. Add in clothes, food, uniforms for sports teams, always times six. Sometimes times seven.

And then there are the braces. The Headricks will pay more than $30,000 to straighten the teeth of all seven children. Four are already fitted with braces, the three boys are waiting until the first four sets are paid for.

"Half a house," Eldon said of the cost.

In order to meet those needs, Sondra and Eldon spend little time alone and often are home at separate times.

Eldon drives to his job with the city of Wichita, leaving early in the morning. Sondra takes the kids to school at Norwich Elementary where she works as a para-educator. After briefly returning home, she leaves again at 5 p.m. to work as a night janitor at the school. Eldon cares for the children until they're in bed.

Sondra said the night janitor job is to pay for the braces. She also said she enjoys her jobs, admitting that sometimes the quiet and solitude of the night job is welcome.

Asked when the last time the couple had a date, Eldon just lets out a chuckle.

"It's a strain," Sondra said. "But there's no choice. We're happy to do it for our children."

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