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Double the Joy

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For six kids between the ages of 3 weeks and 7 years, the Château Miraval in Provence, France, might just be the dreamiest place on earth. It’s a paradise where children can play endless rounds of hide-and-seek among the olive trees, where gently sloping vineyards grow thick with organic grapes and the only air-conditioning comes from Mediterranean breezes blowing through the château’s enormous windows. It’s here that Brad Pitt, 44, and Angelina Jolie, 33, have spent the summer, contentedly immersed in their daily life as parents. As much of the world knows, the couple celebrated the births of their fifth and sixth additions—twins Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline—on July 12 at the Fondation Lenval hospital in nearby Nice. Of course, the twins had a built-in welcoming committee: older siblings Maddox, 7, Pax, 4, Zahara, 3, and Shiloh, 2. With some extra help from Grammy and Papa (a.k.a. Brad’s parents Jane and Bill Pitt), the newly expanded family have been living in their retreat far from Hollywood, with the children spending most of their days outdoors and their parents savoring those sweet newborn moments within the château’s stone walls. Taking a break from their daily routine of feedings, changings, playtime and (very little) sleep, the couple grabbed a rare moment of quiet at Château Miraval to answer PEOPLE’s questions.

How did you feel when you found out you were having twins?

ANGELINA: We were in shock and could not stop laughing.

BRAD: We busted into hysterics. My sister had made a joke about twins literally the night before, because my grandparents and sis both had twins. Angie was on the table during the sonogram, and we were in hysterics. We did not see this one coming.

When you first saw Knox, and Vivienne a minute later, how did you react?

BRAD: An awe words fail to describe.

ANGELINA: I knew they would be premature, so when I saw they were big and screaming with healthy lungs, I was at peace.

What do the twins’ names mean?

BRAD: The name Vivienne came to us early, as if she named herself—she has always been Viv. And Marcheline is to honor Angie’s mother. Knox came soon after. It is a family name, my grandfather’s. Léon is a classic French name.

Can you tell us about Vivienne’s and Knox’s personalities and any similarities to each of you?

BRAD: Viv is proving to resemble Ange in spirit, attitude and physicality. And Knox, a bit of me.

How are Maddox, Pax, Zahara and Shiloh reacting to their new siblings?

ANGELINA: Shiloh calls them her babies. She and Z pick out their clothes and help change and hold them. It’s sweet—they are little mommies.

BRAD: This is Mad’s fourth/fifth time becoming an older bro. He’s asking us when we can have more.

With six kids, how chaotic is the Jolie-Pitt household these days?

ANGELINA: Fortunately Grammy and Papa [Pitt’s parents] are here, so yes, it is chaos, but we are managing it and having a wonderful time.

BRAD: [It’s] still a cuckoo’s nest.

Are you getting any sleep?

ANGELINA: Of course we aren’t getting much sleep! There is a point in the day when four out of the six are asleep. That’s the best time to nap.

Are the twins on the same schedule?

ANGELINA: Yes. They eat every three hours, and I’m getting better at holding them both for [breast] feeding at the same time, so that helps. Usually the other kids come in and hold them when they finish. They help with the baths and the changing.

BRAD: We try to get them to eat simultaneously for the sake of time management, but it gets a little crowded at the bar.

How do you cope during those inevitable “what have we gotten ourselves into” moments?

BRAD: We all raise each other.

How did you help prepare your older children for the twins’ arrival?

ANGELINA: There’s a Dora the Explorer where Dora’s mom has twins—a boy and a girl. They watched that a lot. They were excited.

How did the older siblings help welcome the twins?

ANGELINA: We had cupcakes for the kids to celebrate Knox and Viv’s birthday.

Angelina, how does your late mother, Marcheline, inspire you as a mom?

My mom loved being a mom and made sure her children knew every day how much joy we brought to her. I hope to give that to my kids.

How does Vivienne carry on your mother’s spirit?

Every time I see or say Vivienne’s full name I think of my mom. I look forward to the day she asks about her and I can tell her how special her grandmother was.

How is your recovery from the cesarean section going?

The first few days after surgery were a little difficult, but we had a great team of doctors, and they helped me feel better quickly.

How did you pass the time in the hospital on bed rest?

Brad and the kids came to the hospital a few nights each week and spent the night. So we never went too long without seeing each other.

Is it true that you watched a lot of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman while you were in the hospital?

I’ve never seen that show. I watched The War by Ken Burns. I figured it would be the only chance I had to watch a 15-hour documentary.

How did you feel watching the C-section, Brad?

I find the process absolutely heroic.

Is there any truth to the tabloid reports that the twins were conceived via IVF?

ANGELINA: If they had been conceived through IVF, we would have been happy to discuss it. But we have been fortunate never to have had fertility problems.

Angelina, did you have any cravings while you were pregnant?

My only craving was cheese and milk. Still is.

How do you manage to make time for each child each day?

ANGELINA: We do manage! With six kids it takes up the majority of the day. Of course we get tired. We made a decision to have a big family and support each other to make it work.

When it comes to discipline, how often do you sound like your parents?

BRAD: Using the phrase “Because I said so” is extremely satisfying.

Does everybody in the family speak French at home?

ANGELINA: Mad speaks French better than any of us. His schooling is done 70 percent in French.

Do you make a conscious effort not to both be working at the same time?

BRAD: Yes, we try to never work at the same time, to keep the brood together.

What’s on tap next for your nonprofit Jolie-Pitt Foundation?

ANGELINA: The next trip for our foundation will most likely be to Asia to follow up on the situation in Burma and our work in Cambodia. The boys have been asking to go, so we will take them when Knox and Viv are a little older.

And how about the charity you started in Ethiopia in Zahara’s honor?

ANGELINA: We will be building a TB/AIDS clinic in Ethiopia—one we plan for Zahara to take over when she is older.

Did you both always hope to have a lot of children?

ANGELINA: Wanting a big family is one of the things that brought us together.

BRAD: Always said if I were to do it, I’d do it big.