But the biggest reality check of all, Rick and Jennifer said, is that they are blessed.
The Paynes, who are both 37, said they are blessed to have a house full of healthy children.
And they feel blessed that although the children have individual personalities and interests, they spend a lot of time playing together.
Five in one
Preston, an outgoing leader, loves playing games on the computer, whether the subject is making cakes or racing cars. Griffin, who shows off his dimples with frequent smiles, enjoys all things related to farming, including feeding a calf out in the barn. Carson, who's tenderhearted, prefers playing with cars when he's not coloring or painting. And Claire, who likes to dress up, loves not only playing with her dollhouse but also the toy farm village in the basement.
But despite the individuality, the quads and older brother Parker spend a lot of time together, inside and outside the Custer County farmhouse.
“Christmas isn't really hard on us, because they don't want a lot because all five children play a lot together,” Jennifer said. “They play a lot of imaginative play or things like hide-and-go-seek, things that don't take any toys.”
But sometimes everyone wanting to do the same thing poses a dilemma.
Take, for example, feeding their dachshund, Gretta.
“If you ask one to feed the dog, everyone wants to do it,” Rick said. “If you don't watch it, the dog gets four dishes of food.”
As Rick gave that example recently, Jennifer sat on the couch in the living room facing those seven Christmas stockings as “Jingle Bells” played on the stereo.
She smiled softly.
“I always look forward to December,” Jennifer said, still focused on the long row of stockings. “It kind of stresses me out a little bit, but I look forward to it, because it's an exciting time.
“It's a time to be thankful, and I am. We pray a lot together. Praying for others, thanking the Lord for what He has done for us, and asking for His guidance each day.”
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Several people have asked me how we do it. I've decided that the Lord thought we could do it or He wouldn't have given us so many kids. I was in shock at first, but then we took reality as it came.”