2004: The McCaughey Septuplets at 7
The Best of Times at 7
The septuplets always have energy to spare, and on this chilly but sunny afternoon they're burning some up on their bicycles. "Natalie! Go more fast!" hollers daredevil Kenny (aka Bert) as he tailgates her on the driveway, zooming perilously close to Sprinkles the tabby. Blond and delicate in ballet slippers, Natalie will have none of it, and when little Kenny sideswipes and knocks down a standing bike, she stops and scolds. "Bert! Why do you do that?"
Kelsey rides around silently in a world of her own, while Brandon, normally a roughhouser, plays nice with Cattie, the timid calico cat. "You can't talk loud because she gets scared," he whispers, kneeling on the grass and petting her gently. He looks up. Dad, Kenny Sr., 34, has come outside to monitor any mischief. "Joel, ride on the sidewalk, not the street!" he shouts. Joel obeys. But as soon as Dad goes back to the garage, he starts pedaling hard, props his feet up on the handlebars and speeds away -- in the middle of the road.
Inside, in the rec room, Nathan lies contentedly on the rug with Alexis, who's pleading with her mom, Bobbi, 36, to watch a Miss PattyCake video. With wish-list dreams in her head, big sister Mikayla thumbs through a toy catalog, admiring the cheerleader and Wonder Woman outfits, when Kelsey comes in and snatches it. "Kelsey!" she says in her best Mom-is-miffed imitation, "I was looking at that!" In the kitchen there's an aroma of baking bread, and Bobbi smiles as she stirs the pepper stew in the slow cooker. "Always lots of fires to put out,"she says.
Just another day in the life at the McCaughey household, where the septuplets turned 7 on November 19. And it truly is the best of times. "I'd say the biggest change in the past year is their wanting to help me, whether it's cooking supper, putting forks on the table, or pouring the Kool-Aid," says Bobbi. "It all started one day when they'd all behaved especially badly at their group violin lesson. I told them, 'There'll be no playing tomorrow!' The next morning I gave each of them a list of three chores to do, like picking up papers in the car, sweeping the garage floor, wiping the stair rail, straightening the sofa pillows. But it almost backfired as punishment," she says, laughing, "because they enjoyed it so much!"