When entering a household with 18 children for the first time, one might expect a sea of toys scattered on the floor, or the sound of 18 voices all chattering at once.
However, when one steps into the Grab household just south Killeen’s city limits, the well-mannered children quietly filter into the spotless room, greeting each guest with a smile and a warm hello.
Killeen residents Linda and Joseph Grab, who have been married 24 years, welcomed their 18th child to their family March 30.
Anna Grace Grab, 21, the oldest child, said she’s very happy her newest brother is healthy.
A deeply religious family, the Grabs pray for their babies’ health during every pregnancy.
“We are all very relieved that he was delivered safely because he was a month early,” Anna Grace Grab said. “We were all really concerned. We are just thankful that he made it here and that he is healthy and strong.”
“It’s so cool to be in a family that every year there’s a new baby,” said Daniel Grab, 19.
Life with 18 children requires organization. Each child has a chore, though the chores rotate weekly. The Grabs vacuum their carpet five times a day, and “tidy up” around the house between three and five times a day.
Linda Grab is also a firm believer that there’s a designated place for everything in the house, so items such as shoes are easy to find.
“It helps when you go to look for something, and it’s in the place its supposed to be,” Linda Grab said.
To keep things running smoothly, the family adopted a buddy system to keep track of everyone and ensure that daily tasks happen quickly and efficiently.
Through the buddy system, an older child watches over a younger child assigned to them, by helping to dress them or hold their hand in a parking lot.
“We all work together quite a bit,” Anna Grace Grab said. “Everyone has strong points, and it takes a lot of teamwork.”
The family estimates they consume about 14 loaves of bread, and 8 to 10 gallons of milk a week, and wash 25 or more loads of laundry a week. To cut costs, the family bakes homemade bread, rolls and croissants. The family typically uses 2 to 3 vans to transport the children.
Despite the demands of a large family, Linda Grab still makes time for weekly dates with her husband, who is the pastor of Freedom Baptist Church in Copperas Cove.
She said many couples begin their relationships by dating frequently, but then the dates fall by the wayside when the couple gets married and has children.
Linda Grab stressed the importance of keeping the dates going, and staying devoted to making the relationship work by talking through issues that arise rather than giving up.
Linda Grab also starts every day with prayer and home schools the children, allowing her to strengthen family bonds. The family also eats dinner together every night.
“There’s a lot of love between the siblings and Mom and Dad,” Anna Grace Grab said. “We’re not a perfect family, but there is a lot of love to go around.”
Killeen-area couple Linda and Joseph Grab have 18 children:
Anna Grace, 21
Samuel, 8 days old