ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) - A Rockford family with 12 sons hit the national spotlight Wednesday after being featured on "Today" for its boisterous brood. The parents' oldest child is 21 and their youngest was born this past weekend.
The Schwandt household is many things, including busy and loving. But quiet? Not on your life.
"Is the house ever silent?" Jay Schwandt double-checked with his wife Tuesday. The short answer? "No."
"The house is never silent. That's why when [Kateri] had the baby the other day she could have came home yesterday. She had the option, she's been through this," said Jay. "She said, 'I'll stay an extra night.'"
The 12 boys are ages 21, 17, 16, 14, 11, 10, 8, 6, 5, 3, 19 months and 3 days old.
Jay pointed out they pretty much have a child in every grade at school.
The youngest, Tucker Ray, slept through the din of his older brothers on Tuesday, When 24 Hour News 8 was incredulous at that, mom Kateri replied, "If you want to sleep in this house, you have to sleep through anything."
They all sat down together to speak to 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday before their national debut. But as one of the older boys put it, it's not hard getting them all together. The difficult part is keeping everyone calm.
"Right now we're just enjoying it, and we do enjoy it," said Kateri. "It's work and it's chaos and it's crazy, but that's us."
Kateri and Jay started their family when they were young. They had their oldest, Ty, when they were both still in school.
"When we had Ty, we were in college at the time, and we thought let's have one more so Ty's not 10 when he had a brother or sister," said Jay. "And then little Zach came along, and the flood gates were kind of open."
There was a 4-year gap between 21-year-old Ty and 17-year-old Zach. After that, a new baby brother arrived every year or two.
No one knew if baby Tucker was going to be a boy or girl before he was born, and though the family is of course most happy that he is a healthy baby, it admits a baby girl would have been nice.
"At this point, a little girl would have been cool," said Jay.
"Females definitely are different than males. I'm surrounded by it and, you know, you just go with it," said Kateri.
The parents said the older boys are invaluable in making sure the family runs smoothly.
"They help out a ton, [and now] we have two drivers," said Jay.
And though the parents admit they do have to pick their battles with 12 boys at home, they said some things are just not debatable.
"Having good manners, respecting others, those are the big ones," said Jay. "If they fight with each other or break something you say, 'Hey, we got 12 kids, that stuff's gonna happen.' As long as the things that come out of their mouths are acceptable."
And even though they may be entering into the territory of the Duggar family of reality show fame, both parents say they're not interested in a reality show of their own. Kateri said local notoriety is more than enough for their family.
"That's not anything that we're interested in. The normalcy of their lives are more important than the fame," said Kateri.
And of course -- will there be a 13th?
"My guess is that there probably would be at some point, but we'll see," said Jay.
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