Family with 7 kids counts blessings before challenges

  • Fri Sep 14th, 2012 2:18pm
  • Life

By Andrea Brown, Special to The Herald

Linette Sarber doesn’t have to leave her Marysville home to see the seven wonders of her world.

All she has to do is look around the table.

Seven stairstep children: Mariah, 2. Ashley, 4. Spencer, 6. Hailey, 8. Samuel, 10. Brittney, 12. And baby Zachary, born Aug. 22 at Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington.

Talk about a busy 12 years.

For the kids, it’s built-in fun.

“I never run out of people to play with,” said Hailey.

For Linette, it’s seven names to keep straight.

“Very rarely do they get called the dog’s name,” Linette said.

To avoid losing one, a roll call is done after everyone piles in the van. It’s a 15-passenger Chevy Express van, so there’s room for more.

No, Linette and her husband, Craig, aren’t trying to keep up with the “19 Kids &Counting” Duggar family.

“I’m too old,” said Linette, 39.

They don’t even watch the show on TV. Seriously, who has time?

Read Linette Sarber’s parenting tips based on her experiences with seven kids.

Soccer practice for five of the Sarber kids started a week after Zachary was born. Linette spent 2 ½ hours at the soccer field in Everett, nursing the baby, doling out snacks and shuffling five sets of signup forms.

Think fundraisers times five.

“We ate all the chocolate and are still using the Papa Murphy’s cards from last year. I just never got out and around the neighborhood,” Linette said. “My husband said, ‘Just pay the fee this year.’ “

It’s pocket change in the scheme of things anyway. A recent government report put the cost at $235,000 to raise a child over 17 years. The amount decreases in families with more children, due to sharing bedrooms and bulk buying.

“Our piano teacher gives us a discount,” said Linette, who home-schools the kids.

Most families max out at 1.8 kids.

Linette chalks it up to divine intervention. “I gave God sovereignty over my womb,” she said.

She and Craig have been married 15 years. They met at Horizon Airlines in Spokane.

“I was his trainer when he hired on,” she said. “He was getting his ratings.”

He’s a corporate pilot.

“He has had jobs where he was gone for 15 or 20 days, then be home eight to 10 days,” she said.

Those days are over. He works 9 to 5 at the hangar and flies shorter trips. His job brought the family to Marysville from eastern Washington. They bought your average four-bedroom, 2.5-bath house.

“When we first moved here,” she said, “we only had four kids.”

Three kids later, they still live in the same house. With no plans to move.

“You don’t have to have a monstrosity of a home,” she said. “You need a big yard.”

The siblings bunk together by gender.

“It is valuable they learn how to respect each other’s space and share,” she said.

The children pitch in with the chores. It’s affordable, for now.

“My oldest gets paid to do laundry. She does two loads a day,” Linette said.

“Kids are trainable. They know that all the spoons stack, not just get thrown in the caddy. Same with the forks.”

Linette’s older sister and her nine kids came from Alaska to visit the week before baby Zachary was born.

That’s right. Fifteen kids under one roof a week before she delivered. And the spoons were stacked neatly. Same with the kids.

The last pregnancy was Linette’s longest — 41 weeks — and the shortest labor, about 4.5 hours.

The Sarber Seven were born at five different hospitals in Spokane, Idaho, Everett and Arlington.

Two were 9-plus pounders. The others weighed, well, whatever. Details, details.

“It’s written down somewhere,” Linette said.

She has other things on her mind.

From Herald Health magazine, available with the Sunday, Sept. 23, edition of The Herald.