05/22/2009 at 11:00 AM EDT
Jon and Kate Gosselin are set to kick off the fifth season of their popular TLC series Jon & Kate Plus Eight
Monday night. With the couple's marital problems
making headlines, interest in them and their family has grown. Below is a breakdown of the Gosselin brood for those watching the lovable chaos for the first time. (To catch up on all the family drama, tune in to TLC's Jon & Kate
marathon over Memorial Day weekend.)
Meet the Parents:
Kate, 34, met Jon, 32, at a picnic in 1997, and it was "love at first sight," according to her.
They got married in 1999 – and got to work on starting a family soon after. Kate was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which made it hard for her to get pregnant on her own. Fertility treatments were necessary for both of Kate's successful pregnancies, which resulted in twins and then sextuplets.
Both parents stay home – Jon used to work as an IT analyst and Kate often travels for speaking engagements and book promotions – to manage the family and their two dogs. The family's primary income comes from their TLC reality show.
Big sisters Madelyn or "Mady" and Cara will turn 9 in October. Cara, the tomboy of the elder two, likes one-on-one time with her dad, whether it's when rollerskating or learning how to ski. She's more reserved than twin sister Mady, who is most likely to throw a tantrum wherever the family ends up. Drama-queen Mady is likened to her mom, a lot. (Hint: The twins are easy to tell apart since Mady got braces last season.)
The sextuplets just turned 5 on May 10, which was also fittingly Mothers Day this year. Matching outfits aside, they are growing up fast and are pretty easy to tell apart.
First the boys. Aaden is nicknamed "the professor" – and not just because he's the only kid in glasses. He's the most inquisitive of the bunch and loves animals. Collin is the total boy, and often finds himself in "time out" when he gets too aggressive. Flying under the radar is Joel, who keeps to himself but is expressive about his love for his parents.
The three girls are Alexis, Hannah and Leah, the smallest of the six and night-owl of the family. Alexis, who has a bit of a wild streak, is always smiling. Hannah likes to keep her long hair down (like a Hawaiian princess, says Kate) and is very maternal, enjoying taking care of her siblings.
Two German Shepherd puppies joined the family after they moved into the new, much bigger house last season. The Christmas gifts for the kids are named Shooka (male pup, after a Samoan security guard they met in Hawaii) and Nala (female, after a character from The Lion King