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Crawling and cooing, quads turn 1

The living room is full of sounds as babies in varying stages of contentment coo, fuss and eat.

Salvatore Jr. is finishing a bottle. Joseph is cranky. Samuele's eyelids are drooping. Domenico is in the other room, napping.

The Adamita quadruplets turn 1 today. The family plans a Saturday party for them and all the folks who helped with their babies.

Mary Jo and Salvatore Adamita say the past year has been full of challenge and sacrifice. The days of designer clothes and restaurant meals are over. Going to the mall, even on a walk in the neighborhood, can be an ordeal.

"I have no life," says Mrs. Adamita, who underwent in vitro fertilization.

Mary Frampton, a nurse with the Visiting Nurse Association, spends two hours, five days a week at the Adamitas' home. Her organization donates the time. Frampton babysat for Mary Jo and Salvatore's anniversary in June, when they went out to dinner, unheard of since the babies arrived.

"We didn't go to operas and things like that; we did simple things," Mrs. Adamita says of life before the babies. She and her husband thought nothing of a late-night trip to Denny's if they decided they were hungry.

That was before late-night feedings involved bottles.

"Try to find a babysitter. Who will watch four babies?" Mrs. Adamita says.

She sits on the floor, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, her hair in a loose ponytail. Toys are scattered everywhere. Salvatore Jr. has stayed up while the other babies napped, and he seems energetic enough to keep a mother busy without the help of his three brothers.

He is the daredevil of the bunch and will happily dive off the couch or changing table if allowed. Domenico is the dramatic one, hiding his face if he's upset. Joseph is mischievous and was the first to crawl.

Samuele can be moody, but seems older than the others. Often he appears to be studying his surroundings.

"I think that God will only give people what they can handle," Mrs. Adamita says.

But the family has had help.

"I wrote to every company I could think of: "Is there anything you can do to help us?' A lot of companies responded," Mrs. Adamita says.

As a result of corporate and individual generosity, the boys sleep in donated cribs, play with donated toys and have used donated diapers.

"I know how to shop," Mrs. Adamita says. "I'm a big coupon-cutter."

Mrs. Adamita has two sons, 11 and 13, from a previous marriage. While the babies take up lots of time and receive lots of attention in public, she has tried to spend special time with sons Christopher and Anthony. Christopher plays football at Clearwater High School, and the stands now include four tiny fans at games.

"I worked when my other two kids were growing up," Mrs. Adamita says. "My day-care provider would tell me, "Oh, they walked; they sat up.' I didn't want that again."

So the family gets by on Salvatore Adamita's salary. He owns an ice cream truck. He and his wife had toyed with the idea of Fleetwood Mac tickets. The band is playing at Tampa's Ice Palace.

But tickets alone would cost more than $100. That could buy several outfits, Mrs. Adamita pointed out. She glanced at the windowsill, where eight little shoes were lined up.

"It really brings you back down to basics," Mrs. Adamita says of multiple motherhood. "We always wanted to get a new car. Now the old Suburban is fine."

Their home's decor reflects life with quadruplets. Baby gates bisect the kitchen and living room. Coffee and end tables have disappeared so no one bumps into them. Christopher and Anthony's room became the baby's nursery, and the addition that was to be the older boys' room took longer than expected.

"You don't have a routine," Mrs. Adamita says. "We just basically wing everything. We're always exhausted."

Taking the boys out can be a headache. First, there are the logistics of piling four babies into a car or into a stroller. Then, there are the gawkers who stare and ask questions: How old are they? How much do they weigh? Who's this one named after?

"Sometimes if you're in a good mood it's fun to take the babies for a walk and have people come up, because we're so proud of them," Mrs. Adamita says.

She wasn't so keen on the woman who blocked the strollers' path even though Mrs. Adamita explained that the family was in a hurry. Then there was the woman who simply walked into the house one day.

"She wanted to see the babies," Mrs. Adamita says.

The Adamitas are polite and try to answer questions. They get one query often.

"People ask, how do you do it?" Mrs. Adamita says. "You do it because it has to be done."

+ + +

While Salvatore Adamita holds his namesake, Mary Jo Adamita distracts him as he gets his first haircut Oct. 14.

The Adamita quadruplets of New Port Richey turn 1 today. From left are Samuele, who is moody but mature; Domenico, the dramatic one; Joseph, who can be mischievous; and Salvatore Jr., the daredevil of the bunch. The four will celebrate with their family at a party Saturday.

The quadruplets' older brother, Anthony Pellicano, 10, leads the way as Salvatore Adamita pushes the stroller for four across a street during a visit to New York City. The family traveled to New Jersey in March for the babies' christening and during their trip took a tour of the city.

Mary Jo Adamita, left, holds Salvatore Jr. as she she picks out a pose for the babies' six-month portrait at Sears Portrait Studio in Gulf View Square Mall. With relatives clamoring for pictures, the four are often being photographed.

From left, Salvatore Adamita, his cousin, James O'Blaney, Marty O'Blaney and Mary Jo Adamita take a break to feed the babies at the Children's Museum of Manhattan during the family's trip to New York City.

One of the Adamita quadruplets takes a peek under a crib while learning to crawl in July. Joseph, the mischievous one, was the first to crawl.

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