ORONO – The Winters family is far from typical, but it’s exactly what The Learning Channel wanted for its new season of “Kids by the Dozen.”
“They found us. We didn’t find them,” mother Laura Winters said Friday.
After TLC staff spotted an article online, the show decided to feature the family of 13 as members work to open a store on their property in Orono. Named Candlestick Creations, the store is packed with children’s clothing, gifts and handmade soap.
Chaotic? Yes. But the Winters family’s life is actually a zone of controlled chaos that includes mother, father, seven daughters and four sons.
The show was filmed over nine days in July and is set to air at 10 p.m. Monday.
Jim and Laura Winters always knew they wanted to have a large family. With children ranging in age from 19 months to 21 years old, they’re looking to grow even larger and want to adopt another child in the spring.
“Today, don’t ask me why I want a big family. I’m doing laundry,” Winters said with a laugh.
At their Stillwater Avenue home, they live simplicity, home-school their children and shun most technological conveniences. A Christian family, the Winterses dress much like the Amish and didn’t have a TV in the house until “Kids by the Dozen” came around.
“We don’t have TV, but just for the show, we got one,” Winters said.
She’s not sure how the family will be portrayed on the show, but she expects that they’ll look like country bumpkins.
“They think everybody in Maine is country,” Winters joked.
Now in its second season, “Kids by the Dozen” delves into the lives of families with several more children than the U.S. average of 2.4.
“It’s really busy,” Winters said. “It’s always busy all the time.”
In Monday’s episode, viewers will get a chance to see how the Winterses survived opening their own store on the family’s property and what their daily lives are like.
During the show, the family also created a Web site for the store, www.wintersfamilystore.com, where orders can be placed.
The seven Winters daughters primarily run the store. The eldest of the daughters designs and makes the products sold at the store.
The bright purple building is hard to miss as you drive down Stillwater Avenue in Orono.
The Winterses had painted the building purple before TLC crews arrived to begin filming, but producers said they wanted to see the process from start to finish, and at 9 p.m. the day before filming was to begin, the family found itself painting the building white. The next morning, the Winterses were back with paintbrushes in hand to paint it purple again while the cameras were rolling.
“I’ve learned a lot about TV through it all,” Winters said, adding that their episode cost TLC about $160,000 to produce.
It was worth it, though.
“Our oldest daughter didn’t want to do it at first,” Winters said, adding that by the end, the whole family had taken to the cameras.
“They had an incredible time,” she said.