Credit: TLC

Talk about togetherness! On the January 5 episode of Kate Plus 8, "Deck Party," Kate Gosselin tried to plan a unique day of activities for her eight kids, one for the boys and one for the girls. “One of the hardest struggles of having so many kids is to carve out special time,” she lamented.

The TLC series' episode began with the 40-year-old mom finally getting to work on the deck that she had been saving for and dreaming of since buying her new house. Ever the invested mother, she paused from telling the camera about her new patio to remind Alexis to take off her school sneakers and put on her play sneakers.

This Magic Moment

“You only get so many weeks in a given summer, and the kids have never forgotten those ‘special days’ we did,” Kate said, evoking memories of taking her kids to various activities, classes and events on their own. She was determined to give each kid special time with her this summer too. “I don’t do enough of it because there is a lot going on.”

The first special day was a magic lesson for the boys, even though Aaden was hardly interested in magic at all. The first thing that happened was that the instructor, Eddie, asked for Kate’s phone, which she had just gotten to replace the one she broke last episode! Ultimately, she handed it over before Eddie went on to show the boys tricks with playing cards, scarves and coloring books that they could later show to their sisters.

Nervous that the girls would be hard on their brothers during the magic show, Kate drilled them on their new tricks. “I wasn’t micromanaging for the fun of meddling in their magic day,” she insisted. “I was trying to look out for their best interests so I could help them!”

After the lesson, Kate took the boys to one of their favorite restaurants in Lancaster, Aussie & the Fox, to further discuss the impending magic show. “Your teacher told me your greatest critics are your family, so — chew with your mouth closed, please,” she started to say before noticing Joel displaying poor table manners. How does she do it all, honestly?

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Braid-Holder

The special day for the younger girls was a trip to the spa, which they had asked for specifically. “This truly is special to the girls, to take this time and kind of have me all to themselves, really,” Kate said, making it obvious that the days she spends with smaller groups of kids are as important to her as she hopes they will be to them.

“Oh, wow, that color is beautiful,” gushed Kate as Hannah, who got a fuchsia manicure, asked if her mother remembered “torturing” the girls by forcing them to get their hair braided and beaded tightly during a previous vacation. Kate grimaced as footage played of the ill-fated braiding session from a few years ago, showing the girls screaming and crying in pain. Not every girls’ spa day can be great, after all!

They moved to a hair studio to learn some braids. Leah had a fishtail braid that Kate thought looked beautiful, so Leah made one in her mother’s hair to thank her for the class.

It's Showtime!

“This is going to be cute,” Mady said about the magic show. Cara was less sure, pointing out that the boys had only spent a few hours at the class. The twins amended Mady's initial enthusiastic statement, agreeing that the show would be “a disaster.”

Collin, who was at one point sporting a delightful fake mustache, did the introduction to the show, announcing Kate as their lovely assistant. Trick after trick, the girls laughed at their brothers, throwing the chocolate coins Kate had provided as “tips” like weapons.

“If it’s not convincing, we can’t clap,” giggled Leah when Kate admonished them for being rude, but Joel eventually nailed one of his tricks, earning the chocolate coin “tips” and compliments from the girls.

Towing the Party Line

The episode concluded with everyone preparing to throw a party to christen their beautiful new deck. They went overboard shopping for the party, even purchasing “deck blankets,” which made Kate mutter, “This is excessive, actually. …”

The kids had a lot of friends coming, so they were excited to help get ready. From cleaning the deck to chopping the food for the party, they each got involved. Even though the kids were into the idea of having the party, Kate was still being her micromanagerial self, doing most of the work while the kids stood around.

Still, the party turned out great and everyone had a nice time enjoying the new patio. The kids swam while the adults drank some well-deserved wine, and even the ever-sullen teenager Mady said that the deck and party turned out just right!

Tell Us: Was Kate right to grill her kids on their magic skills?

Kate Plus 8 airs on TLC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST.

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