I think the last year has been a good recipe of chaotic, sleep-deprived and very interesting. —Anthony Consolo
WEST POINT — When the door swung open at the Consolo home, five small heads peered around a corner and through a safety gate from the the stairs above.
The quadruplets, and older sister Dorothy, were perfectly entranced. Soon, though, they flopped to their backs and Charlotte started screaming.
"Spinning dragon," her parents explained knowingly.
"If there was a tape of Charlotte screaming, the U.S. government could use that to end the war on terror," Natalie Consolo said of the baby's bellow.
Daniel, the sensitive one, quickly joined in. The two parents handily grabbed bottles and babies and soon had two children on each lap. But Dorothy, almost 3, felt left out and started whimpering.
Mom stacked the two girls on one leg, and Dorothy and her gaggle of stuffed animals took a place on the other.
"I think the last year has been a good recipe of chaotic, sleep-deprived and very interesting," Anthony Consolo said.
"I would call it chaotic," his wife confirmed.
The couple had been trying for a second child when they learned they had naturally conceived not one, not two, but four babies. It's now been a year since their family grew from three to seven.
Quadruplets Daniel, Anabelle, Lucille and Charlotte turned 1 on Monday. The couple decided to forgo a party until next year and instead hired some babysitters and went out for sushi.
"We had a '(Let's) celebrate that we survived' lunch," the mother explained.
"A first-year survival party," her husband added.
When the quadruplets first came home, the couple's LDS ward organized volunteers to come to the home to help for four hours each day, six days a week. After about four or five months, the parents took over on their own.
"It's an oxymoron," Anthony Consolo said of life since. "It's a combination of being extremely blessed and very strong moments of, 'What did we do to deserve this?'"
He went back to work in May after buying Tuscany Gardens, a wedding venue in Roy where he plans and hosts weddings. He logs 70- to 80-hour work weeks, often leaving his wife to hold down the fort at home on her own.
"You just sort of have to hit your stride," she said. "I know that this has to be done at this time, how long they generally sleep, so I get everything else done in between. ... Once they're up, they pretty much entertain themselves. They've got built-in friends. They run around, scoot around and they just play."
Each day they just focus on what needs to be done and in so doing, the couple has tackled the tasks before them. They've even managed to take the entire family to the grocery store. "We got a lot of attention," she said.
"I think one of the main things that got us through was the firm focus on the babies' needs and welfare and doing what you can to take care of them. That's all you can do," Anthony Consolo said.
"And energy drinks," he quipped.
They've also learned to rotate which quadruplet sleeps in the same room as Anabelle — "the loquacious one" who will wake up in the night and babble to herself.
"Otherwise they don't sleep," Mom said.
Charlotte's troublemaking doesn't stop with the screaming and they've learned to keep any toy that she can use as a club away from her. Lucille, unfailingly mellow and calm, is the thinker and the dancer.
The best way to get everyone going is with Psy's ubiquitous "Gangnam Style" song. "We had it on while we were getting ready," the busy mom said. When the song was played to calm them, the babies started rocking side to side.
Through it all, Consolo said he still comes home to find that the children are clean and fed, the house is well-kept and the dishes are done. It's deepened his respect for his wife and the work she does.
"Natalie is an amazing mom and wife," he said.
She, in turn, appreciates the way her husband doesn't hesitate to help despite his busy work schedule.
"I see him coming after work, after working 16-hour days, and then he dives right into babies," she said. "It's kind of amazing because he works so hard and I appreciate it when he comes home and takes over because I know he's so tired."
By 6 or 7 p.m. he said he knows his wife will be hitting the wall and Dorothy, who has stopped napping, will be fighting her exhaustion and be "a little needy."
"She's like four babies in one little body," her mother said. "She's up at 8 and goes to bed between 9 or 10. I wish I had some of her energy, she's just running all day."
At this point, Dorothy, on the tail end of the "terrible 2s," is often the most difficult. She can get jealous of her siblings and crave attention. But her mother said she is also a good helper.
She has learned how to use Netflix and turn on "Curious George," a favorite show at the house. She's handled the growth of her family as was to be expected.
"Like a 2-year-old," her father said. "There's good days and bad days. Some days she's very lovey dovey and playing with them and other days she's like a great white shark and she can get a little nasty. But you know, such is sibling rivalry."1 comment on this story
Anthony Consolo said they would like another child, but they know the possibility of going from five to nine overnight "is not impossible." Still, his wife said she can't believe how quickly this first year has passed.
"It was kind of hard to believe that it went by that fast and we actually did it, because before they were born we didn't have any idea how it was going to be or how we would do it," she said. "It all seemed so overwhelming."
"I think the main point is, life is an adventure and babies are definitely the fuel that can keep that adventure going," he said.
"It's a wonderful life."