There's not enough time and money to fix everything at once. There's never enough money.

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PAXTON — The Renfroe family house, which sits in the middle of nowhere on a desolate county road, is a work in progress.

So is their life.

Eleven of them share a double-wide mobile home, while a 12th sleeps in a camper in the yard. The family van, parked askew in the yard, has more than 370,000 miles on it. Dogs, cats, mini-horses and a large pig roam the fenced-in yard. Inside, a mini-pig and a dog run to the front door when visitors arrive, nipping at their shoes and ankles.

In the kitchen, Angie Renfroe makes tea in an open pot on the stove. School papers and snacks are strewn across the dining room table, where her husband, Danny, sits holding their first grandchild.  

And sitting on the floor is their daughter, 9-year-old Katie. Her hair is a mess since she doesn't like to sit still so her mom can put it in pigtails. She scoots around the floor and slams a bedroom door shut. The seat of her polka dot leggings is worn out the way other kids might wear out the knees of their jeans.

Born with a still-unnamed disease, Katie made headlines around the world five years ago when the Northwest Florida Daily News first visited the Renfroe family. 

A handful of surgeries later, Katie's cheeks are still the biggest part of her body.

Doctors noticed abnormalities during Angie's first trimester and warned about the profound defects. In response, she made a pact with God.

"If you let me have her, I’ll raise her and take care of her the best I know how to do for as long as you give her to me," Angie told the Daily News in 2012.

After the article appeared, the family became celebrities of sorts. Donations poured in adding up to at least $12,000, according to Angie's estimate. They started a Facebook page for Katie, which has more than 3,500 followers.

Strangers offered everything from money to an all-expense paid trip to Disneyland. Katie continues to receive little gifts in the mail.

"It makes me feel great that someone cares about a child that's not their own," Angie said. "That's not something people have to do."

In those five years, they've been both blessed with gifts and prayers and cursed with bad luck. Where it brings them is right back where they started — struggling to make ends meet.

Getting by

The Renfroe family is big. Danny and Angie had eight children — five before Katie and two after her. And it's growing. Last month, 16-year-old Jessica gave birth to a baby girl, Mackenzie, and Megan, who is 18, just gave birth to baby girl Kenlee last Sunday night at 9:14. She shares her bedroom with her boyfriend.

"I told Megan she couldn't have her baby until I had gas money to take her to the hospital," Angie said with a laugh.

While the family has moved into a bigger home thanks to a government grant, it is still too small.

Jessica sleeps in the living room with her baby. Kenneth and Emalee, who are 8 and 5, share a bedroom with Katie's belongings, but she sleeps with their parents. It's not ideal, but they make it work.

Danny, who is on disability, tinkers around the house fixing and updating parts of it. He's working to build new cabinet doors for the kitchen. Angie said she wished he waited to do it all at once so they wouldn't be mismatched.

There's not enough time and money to fix everything at once. There's never enough money.

Before Katie was born, Angie worked in produce and raised chickens. Now she stays at home for Katie, who needs 24-hour care.

"If I could find time to get a job, I would work until my back falls apart," Angie said.

The family makes it by — barely — on Danny's and Katie's monthly disability checks, which amount to $1,555. Then there's the food stamps, which are $1,200 a month. The family is all insured through Medicaid.

Angie said they are able to pay their bills most of the time. When they fall short, they overdraft the account.

"We're just trying to make it," she said. "By now, the bank tellers know my account. One day I'll crawl out of the cycle."

The donations that poured in five years have largely dried up. Angie used most of it to repay loans from family members.

When a donation comes in, it goes pretty quickly.

There's the regular visits to South Florida where Katie — also known as Katie Bug — has her surgeries. There's the gas money to drive the kids to schools in Crestview, DeFuniak Springs and Paxton. Angie said she puts 100 miles on their 2005 van every school day. They received a donated 1999 truck, but their oldest son, Bradley, who is now 19, wrecked it.

The only family trips the Renfroes make are to Hollywood, Florida, where Katie has her surgeries. The entire family tags along and most of the time stays with Katie in her room.

"We never know if that's the last time we'll see her," Angie said.

Looking ahead

Bradley is currently working to become a certified welder. The older girls are not working, but have career aspirations. Jessica went back to school just two weeks after giving birth, leaving the baby with her parents. She wants to be a florist someday. Megan wants to go to nursing school.

Even Angie has dreams for the future. She'd love to open a restaurant. She figures she cooks for enough people, she could handle a small eatery.

"I guess that's just one of those pipe dreams," she sighed. "We still need to get our air conditioner fixed."

The father of Jessica's baby is not in the picture. But she has a house full of people supporting her and Mackenzie. While she was at school on a recent afternoon, Danny held his tiny granddaughter, rocking her while she quietly cooed.

Being a grandpa is "pretty cool," he said.

"I'm used to babies," Danny said. "But it'll really hit me when they start saying 'Grandpa'."

At 2:30 p.m., Angie brings the kids home from school and the tone of the day changes. It's a whirlwind of backpacks thrown on the kitchen table, snacks being made and kids sharing their stories from the day. Emalee, who is 5, wants to show off her school work. Jessica sits at the dining table and complains about a boy at school who constantly pesters her.

Between the kids and now grandkids, there's never a moment of peace or privacy in the house.

"Privacy? What's that?" Angie said with a laugh.

Angie loves her grandbabies, but she admits she wished her daughters would've waited to get pregnant. She talked to them about birth control and safe sex. In the end she wants what all parents hope for their children — to be happy.

"I want them all to graduate high school and be with someone who treats them right," she said.

Dreams for Katie

Angie's hopes and dreams for her Katie Bug are a little different. Katie won't grow up to have a career or even a romantic relationship.

She is still in diapers. She cannot walk or stand on her own. But she's mobile. She scoots around the house by sliding on her rear end — the family calls it "boot scooting." Angie said she wears out the seat in pants pretty fast. Katie still gets most of her nutrition from a feeding tube. Her little arms and legs are noticeably smaller than that of her younger brother and sister.

Katie's large head is barely supported by her small frame. The extra skin creates splotches of brown pigmentation. Her large lips hang open leaving Katie in a constant look of wonder. She's already had several surgeries to reduce the size of her tongue and lower lip.

She still has occasional seizures. As she started to convulse one recent afternoon Danny held her and rubbed her back. The seizure lasted three and half minutes.

"You just have to wait it out with her," he said.

Doctors have run all kinds of tests to try to diagnose Katie's condition. If they can't come up with a diagnosis, they will name the condition after her.

Even though Katie cannot talk, she's able to communicate with her family. She can nod her head, throw toys or laugh. She likes to watch Monday Night Raw with Danny. She loves music and splashing in water.

"We didn't know if she'd live a week after she was born," Angie said. "Every day, I'm glad she's here. She's changed all of our lives."

Caring for Katie has been a big lesson for the Renfroe family. Jessica said she learned how to change diapers with Katie, which comes in handy for the new mom. She also learned another important lesson: patience.

"Katie taught me to slow my roll," added Danny.

Growing up 'hard'

The Renfroe teens are much like any other. They Snapchat, they bicker, they watch TV. Their social media accounts could belong to any number of teens. There's lots of selfies with filters and friends.

But they've also had to grow up rather quickly. The older siblings had to be surrogate parents when Danny or Angie were preoccupied. They learned how to change diapers, they learned to cook and clean, how to change Katie's feeding tube, they learned the struggles of living from check to check.

"I never told my children there was a Santa Claus because I don't want them to be let down," Angie said. "My family was poor and I remember wanting something for Christmas, but I didn't get it. I got the same thing I always got — new shoes and a new suit. I was heartbroken. So I teach my kids about Jesus' birthday and I tell them that there's really good people who do things for others when they receive something.

"I never treated the kids like babies," she added. "They had to grow up hard."

This summer, a British TV crew followed the Renfroes around for a story which posted in August. The family continues to share photos and videos on Katie's Facebook page. They've talked about doing a reality show but only if it was unscripted, Angie said. The Renfroes like to be open about their experiences, but they're protective of Katie. As Danny said, "you mess with one us, you'll get the whole clan."

At the end of the day, they're like any other family.

"We depend on each other. That's what we're supposed to do as a family," Angie said. "We're here for each other."

Follow Katie's story at