El Dorado Hills family makes it work ? all 11 of them

The Cimorellis need a 15-passenger van to take the gang out
By: Bitsy Kemper, The Telegraph
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Russia declared last Wednesday Procreation Day, giving workers paid time off to make babies. Other negative-growth countries, like Italy, have started campaigns to encourage more children. In America, large families get their own special on The Discovery Channel, or in the Cimorelli's case, their own profile in local papers. El Dorado Hills residents Lynne and Mike Cimorelli have 11 children, ages 2-18. Yes, 11 kids. Forty-six year old Mike owns and runs Cimorelli Construction. Lynne, with a master's degree in piano performance, is home schooling all the children without breaking a sweat. Son Alex, 11, says he's noticed when his dad's friends come over, they all say they wish they had a bigger family. "Actually, I would like an even bigger family. It's fun, you are never lonely, you always have someone to talk to," he said. "Plus everyone can help you with school work when you get lost." Eldest daughter Christina, 18, agrees home schooling in their household has worked in her favor. "When I started college, it was the first time I had attended a school (outside the home) and didn't know what to expect," she said. "But I was so far ahead of the others it wasn't even funny. They're all 20, and I'm 16." To see the happy, attractive 44-year matriarch of the family one would be hard pressed to picture her facing the imagined challenges day after day. Lynne recognizes it would appear overwhelming to clean the kitchen every morning after 13 people just had breakfast. They take it one chore at a time. "We break it down as a team," Lynne said. "One person clears the table, one person loads the dishwasher and one person hand washes the pots and pans." "It's not too hard, really, it only takes maybe 10-15 minutes," said Lisa, 14. "I'm the one that loads the dishwasher. I also clean my room and fold and do my own laundry. And mop." "We are teaching them how to be independent, self sufficient," Lynne said. "When they move out on their own I don't want them to look around and ask, 'Where is my cleaning lady?'" As musical director at El Dorado Music Theater for about 10 plays in three years, Lynne's involved as many as seven of her kids in the same play at the same time. "It's easier to get the kids involved with recreational activities based on level instead of age range, like theater, karate or swim team," she said. Lynne is used to the stares as the big family makes their way about town in a 15-passenger van, heading to church on Sunday or out to get ice cream. "Family runs deeply in everybody," she said. "With so many broken families there is a fascination with families that are working, not just at how big they are." The most common negative comment she hears is, "How can you stand having all those children?" "That person's own children are usually standing right there, which always makes me wonder if those poor children are hearing the same implicit message I am, which is, 'I can't stand my own children,'" she said. The average American family has 1.87 children. Families with more than six children have so diminished that the census doesn't track them anymore.