By Sherida Mock
The Stars of “Quints by Surprise” Turn 7
When Casey and Ethan Jones were ready to start a family, pregnancy did not come easily. The couple first turned to in vitro fertilization, without success. Artificial insemination, although less likely to work for most couples, worked for them right away. Their first daughter, Eliot, was born 11 years ago.
A few years later, the Joneses wanted to give Eliot a little brother or sister. They again tried artificial insemination.
“We figured that worked great, so let’s do it again,” says Casey. Everyone—including the doctors—was surprised to discover that Casey was pregnant with quintuplets. That day started an adventure that included starring in TLC’s “Quints by Surprise,” which originally aired from 2010 to 2014.
With the quints turning 7 this month, Casey and Ethan sat down with us to talk about their lively, active life.
af: How did you handle the news that you were expecting quintuplets?
Casey: It didn’t seem real, but it was pretty serious. The doctor gave us all the facts. He started going through everything that could go wrong. We were still in shock. We weren’t taking all that in.
Ethan: One day, you would think it was great—the benefits of having a big family and how crazy and fun it would be—and then the next moment you’re thinking, “How am I going to pay for these kids?”
Casey: When we look too far into the future, it gets overwhelming. What are we going to do when they drive?
af: How do you cope with everyday life—transportation, sick days?
Ethan: When the kids need something, there’s such a great need. You can’t multi-task. You have to set everything aside and focus entirely on what they need. Having multiples leaves no stone unturned in changing your life.
Casey: If you’ve got one or two kids, you might have to work on a school project for a few hours. For us, it takes a whole weekend to get through an assignment. They’re all due at the same time.
Ethan: I love having a big family. I love the activity level, but one of the hardest parts is that they’re all going through the same stage at the same time.
Casey: A lot of big families have the older siblings help out. We have Eliot, and we try to be sensitive to her. There are times when we really do need her to step in and help out, and she’s awesome. But we try to not burn her out. We try to give her free time.
af: How has the community responded?
Casey: Without that help, I don’t know how we would have gotten it done. It started with our church Sunday school group. They rallied and asked for volunteers and put together a care calendar. People brought us food, and the church and H-E-B did a diaper drive for us, which was a huge blessing.
We had a handful of neighborhood volunteers that were totally committed and I still get help from them. They’ve become family. We’ve met some really good people. It’s been a beautiful experience.
af: Tell us about the TLC show.
Ethan: The show was a lot of fun. We had a great time. The Statesman ran an article on us about a week before Casey delivered. A local production company saw the article and reached out to us.
Casey: We did a lot of research on the production company and their motivation for doing this. They were a Christian-based company looking for a family show.
Ethan: They wanted us to be liked. They weren’t looking for controversy. They wanted to show the real story of the challenges of this type of adventure.
Casey: They were looking for a family show. It’s the number one thing we hear from people. They love the show because they can sit down with their kids and watch it.
It showed our ups and downs. We were very open about our struggles. Financially, it came at a really hard time. The market crashed. Ethan had just started his own business and he was in grad school. Money was tight.
Ethan: They filmed for the first year, putting together the first episode. It was fun for us to have their creative energy in the house. We ended up doing 26 episodes over five years. The last one was a special on the quints’ fifth birthday.
It’s been seen worldwide. We get messages from Australia, Asia and South America. They love our kids and our family.
af: Do you have any organizing tips?
Ethan: The organization is constant. We clean up the playroom every night.
Casey: We’re both kind of neat freaks, so we’re just constantly cleaning and picking up. Every day, I do laundry.
In the kitchen, I’ve got a dry erase board with their names and things they need each week, like lunches. At the beginning of the week, I go through the lunch menu, and they call out if they’re bringing or buying on that day.
I almost run things like a classroom sometimes. “If you have something to say, please raise your hand, because I cannot listen to six of you talk at the same time.” I can’t take six dinner orders at once.
Each kid has their own cubby. The quints are in two bedrooms, and we rotate who stays with whom.
Ethan: We just bought three pieces of Ikea furniture to help deal with all the clothes, so now we have six dressers that are devoted to the quints. Our dining room is their homework space, and we’ve got designated backpack hooks.
af: Any last thoughts?
Ethan: We’ve got some awesome kids. They’re all having a great time.
Casey: They’re all really good kids. We are blessed with their health. We are really blessed with what we were given.
Ethan: And we still love each other!
Casey: We do! We’re still married!
Find Out More: Follow the Joneses at: JonesLife.net and facebook.com/QuintsBySurprise