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Published November 17, 2013, 12:00 AM

From ICU to middle school: Moorhead quintuplets enter new stage of life

Moorhead - In a couple weeks, the Christoffers family will sing “Happy Birthday” five times. Each of the Moorhead quintuplets will get their own rendition of the song when they turn 12 on Nov. 30. Bobby, who died at 6 months, gets one in his memory.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

Moorhead - In a couple weeks, the Christoffers family will sing “Happy Birthday” five times.

Each of the Moorhead quintuplets will get their own rendition of the song when they turn 12 on Nov. 30. Bobby, who died at 6 months, gets one in his memory.

“We want to remember him because he’ll always be a part of our family,” says mom Collette, 41.

When they were born, preemies Jacob, Bethany, Bobby, Kevin and Alyssa all weighed less than 2 pounds.

Believed to be the first healthy set of quintuplets born in Minnesota, the Christoffers kids have come a long way since their days in intensive care.

“It’s hard to believe that they started off under 2 pounds,” Collette says.

Ten years ago, the quints were scampering around their Moorhead home in diapers. Now they’re navigating the hallways of Horizon Middle School in Moorhead.

“It’s a big change all at once. It’s a big change for one, let alone four,” says dad Mike, 44.

New this year are “pods” (two kids are in one pod, two are in another), locks on lockers (two are righties, two are lefties), and the short time allowed between classes to swap books.

“I think they were mainly nervous about finding their classes,” Collette says.

With four kids in the same school in the same grade, school fees, photos, uniforms and physicals all come at the same time.

“There are challenges all the time. The challenges just change,” she says.

Their older sister, Emily, a 15-year-old sophomore at Moorhead’s Park Christian School, welcomes the change because it means more homework to help keep her siblings out of her hair.

“It’s not like me constantly doing homework and them being loud,” she says. “Now we’re all doing homework.”

MONTH OF CELEBRATION

Until their 10th, the quints had their birthday parties outside the home, at places like Chuck E. Cheese or a hotel with a swimming pool.

“After their 10th birthday, then we kind of toned it down a little bit,” Collette says.

Last year, they all wanted separate parties, so it was a month of parties.

This year, it’ll be a two-part sleepover with movies, pizza and cupcakes, boys and girls separate.

“It’ll be on the same day, but we’ll be doing different things at different times,” Alyssa says.

There’ll be a family party, too, around Thanksgiving. November is a month for celebration for the Christoffers.

Christmas will be scaled back this year to save for a summer trip to the Grand Canyon, inspired by a fourth-grade project of Jacob’s.

“We’re going to bite the bullet and take a road trip,” Collette says.

But first they’ll pay Bobby a visit at the cemetery like they do every year on the anniversary of his death, June 6.

Meanwhile, the kids are saving their weekly allowance, which they earn by doing chores on a chore chart, for goals of their own.

Alyssa wants an iPad Mini; Kevin’s aiming higher.

“I’m saving up to go to Vegas,” he says with a smirk.

BICKERING, BONDING

Although multiples are more likely to have health problems, the Christoffers quintuplets seem to be doing just fine.

Everyone, including big sister Emily, is involved in a combination of sports and music – soccer, football, cheerleading, softball, taekwondo, piano, violin, viola, cello, baritone and choir – which means a busy schedule for the family.

“For the whole sixth-grade year, we go to all of the orchestra concerts, all of the band concerts and all of the choir concerts,” Collette says.

At one point, Kevin and Bethany played on the same soccer team.

What was that like?

“Weird,” Bethany says.

The boys share a room and the girls share a room, but that’ll change in a few years when big sister Emily leaves for college.

Everyone has a different idea of what’ll become of her room. Jacob’s idea? “Kevin can stay in the basement.”

The quints may bicker over things like who will get their own room, but Collette says they still depend on each other.

“Even though they’re brothers and sisters – they fight well, they play well – they do watch out for each other. That can be helpful, especially in middle school,” she says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

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