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10 for four

They don't expect four birthday cakes because, for them, sharing is a way of life. But the Friend quadruplets, who will be 10 on Tuesday, have seen a cake in a supermarket decorated in green and white Sioux colors. And that is what they want. The...

They don't expect four birthday cakes because, for them, sharing is a way of life.

But the Friend quadruplets, who will be 10 on Tuesday, have seen a cake in a supermarket decorated in green and white Sioux colors. And that is what they want.

The quadruplets are:

n Courtney, who has curly, red hair and thinks sometimes she might like to grow up to be a veterinarian.

n Bailey, who also has red hair and likes Barbie dolls. She thinks it would be nice to be a teacher or a veterinarian.

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n Brady, who is a "sports nut" and might like to be a doctor. He has red hair.

n Nicholas, who has brown hair and likes science, is a Pokeman fan.

The quadruplets have just finished fourth grade at Lewis and Clark School, which is a couple blocks from the neat, little house on Hammerling Avenue where they have lived with their parents since they were born May 27, 1998.

Their parents, John and Stacy Friend, say the years have gone by way too fast.

Stacy looks at their baby pictures and feels like she wants to cry. John said when you are busy with quadruplets you don't think about what you have to do: "You just do."

Busy, hectic, wild

They describe the first few years of life with the quadruplets as busy, hectic and wild.

When John and Stacy found out they would have quadruplets, they were shocked, scared and excited. They had been hoping for children for five years and turned to fertility drugs. Their family of four children arrived all at once at Altru Hospital with Dr. Jerald Reinhardt as the physician, assisted by Dr. Mike Brown, mayor of Grand Forks.

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The combined weight of the four babies was about 12 pounds, with three weighing just more than 3 pounds and one under. It was five weeks before all of them were home from the hospital.

As Stacy looks back, she said they never could have managed without all the help. In the early days of the quads' lives, there were friends from Calvary Lutheran Church, Girl Scouts and others lending a hand between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There were gifts from businesses and diapers from The Salvation Army. Boxes of donations flowed in. The Mothers of Multiples Club helped out.

In the past 10 years, the Friends have made do in a very small house. At one point, there was so much in the living room it was impossible to open the front door. So, they used the side door. The yard was small, so they fenced it in to keep the children safe.

As the children grew, it was impossible for Stacy to keep up with photograph albums. So, they set up stations in the basement where each child can now take care of his or her own scrapbooks.

And the quads have prospered. They are active in music and sports and doing well in school. They don't all do the same thing. Some take music lessons at school. Nicholas is in Boy Scouts. Bailey doesn't play soccer, but the others do. They all sing in the children's choir at Calvary Lutheran Church, where director Elizabeth Romero also has two sets of twins.

For the most part, their mother said the quadruplets get along very well. They are learning now that they can't all be invited to the same place at the same time. They are branching out and making individual friends, although they usually have enough company at home.

Willie and Mabel

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Though their home is small, there is room for two enormous cats named Willie and Mabel, who think they are dogs. They come when they are called and know exactly where the treats are kept in the kitchen.

Usually in the summer, the Friend family makes a trip to visit relatives in Denver. And each year, they take a different route to see more of the country. This year, the summer trip is in question because the Friends are hoping to move into a larger house. John Friend works in human relations for PRACs in East Grand Forks. Stacy has started doing child care at home and gets plenty of help from Courtney, Bailey, Brady and Nicholas.

The quadruplets are used to doing chores around the house and yard. They follow orders that include bedtime at 8:30 or 9 p.m. They know when they get into trouble there will be extra chores or loss of privileges, such as television.

The quadruplets often go to Thief River Falls on Sundays to visit their great-grandmother, Doris Thompson. Their grandparents, who live in Grand Forks, are John and Donna Friend and Betty Nelson.

The children will take summer school classes for enrichment. And they have been noticing the new slide at Elks Swimming Pool near Lewis and Clark School, where they will attend for one more year.

The one thing they know well is how to share. In order to make ends meet, the Friends share almost everything. But they laugh when they say they don't share their toothbrushes. They each have their own!

Other area foursomes:

Other quadruplets in the Grand Forks area live near Cavalier, N.D., and Fosston, Minn.

The Helgoe qu­adruplets, who live near Cavalier and are finishing seventh grade, are Leighanna, Mackenzie and Shelby, with Casey the only boy. They will be 14 on Aug. 21. Their parents are Floyd and Cathy Helgoe, and she says having four teenagers all at once is "interesting, good, bad and challenging."

They are, like other teenagers, caught up in iPods and other electronic games. They have to take turns with one cell phone and share whether they think it's fair or not. They have always had to share, she says. Floyd Helgoe has three older children, but the quadruplets are the only ones at home now.

Fosston is the home of the Schmidt quadruplets including Austin, Christian and Izik and their sister, Melina. They will turn 8 on June 18. Their mother is Erica Schmidt, who works in the hospital at Bagley, Minn., and Joe Schmidt, who is employed in the area. The couple is divorced and has split custody of the children.

Erica Schmidt also has a 13-year-old son, Bryant. She says the quadruplets were born in Fargo. They are healthy and happy and keep life busy with the foursome "going every which way."

Reach Hagerty at (701) 772-1055 or send e-mail to mhagerty@gra.midco.net .

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