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Having eight kids doesn't slow down this family in El Dorado Hills

Familiar Faces
By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
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It takes a super mom to raise a mega family. With eight kids, Brenda Collette has to be organized. At one point in her life, when she had five kids in soccer, her schedule began at 6 a.m. and didn?t end until 10 p.m. As the kids have grown, she said her schedule has eased up a little but schedules are still a necessity. Tell us about your family. I have five boys and three girls. Their names and ages are Andrew, 20, Brittany, 18, Houston, 17, Joshua, 14, Roxie, 12, Maverick, 10 and Steel, 8. My step-daughter Jessica, 24, is currently living with us. Andrew is in Denver, Colo., serving a two year mission for our church. Brittany attended Brigham Young University in Provo last year and just recently returned home for summer break. What is the best part about raising a large family? I love having a large family but I have to admit I didn?t realize how hard and difficult it can be to raise teenagers. Even with all the struggles and problems we face, I am so thankful for the love and friendship I share with each one of my children. Being a mother is my biggest accomplishment and my highest priority. My family is the most important thing in my life. People ask me all the time ?How do you do it?? I just do the best I can and I am very fortunate to have so much love and support from my family, friends, neighbors, and church. I couldn?t do it without them. Do you work outside of the house? Just after I had my third child, I became a realtor. At that time, I lived two miles away from my mother so she helped me with all the children. I had a lot of success and I really enjoyed working with people and selling homes. However, this past year I was feeling like I had too much on my plate so I started referring people to my niece who is also a realtor and I decided to take a break for a while. I?m still a licensed real estate agent but I have put it on the back burner for now. I will continue with it later in my life when I am not running in so many directions. How do you manage all your kids? activities? Our weekday morning routine goes something like this: The high school boys get up first and leave at 6:45 to attend early morning seminary before going to school. My daughter, in middle school, carpools with the neighbor leaving at 7:30 and then I drive the youngest boys to school at 8:15. In the afternoon, I pick up at the middle school and the elementary school, and then all the extracurricular activities begin. Depending on the season, the kids may be involved in wrestling, soccer, volleyball, basketball, swim team, flag football, Boy Scouts, dancing, performing arts, or church youth group. We only sign the kids up for classes and activities near the El Dorado Hills area because it makes it possible to get everyone where they need to be and sometimes we are able to carpool with neighbors. Do you have family meetings? On Mondays, which are Family Home Evenings, we meet together to calendar and schedule activities and events. We try to do something fun together like attend a performance, go to the park, go out for ice cream, do service for someone, write letters, read, or play games. On Sunday we attend church together and usually spend the rest of the day together. We may visit grandparents or other relatives. This is a day when we are not running from one activity to another which makes it possible for us to spend time together. What chores do you delegate to each child? We have tried all kinds of chore charts where we rotate chores but the thing that has worked out the best is when each child is assigned a specific chore and they keep that chore for an extended period of time. Some children are better at doing chores than others and some need more incentives than others. Although the children that are 12 and over do their own laundry, I seem to still have a ton of laundry. What does your husband do to help? My husband is a great cook and does a lot of the cooking. He does most of the yard work and he can repair almost thing that needs repairing. We never have to worry about our cars because he does all the maintenance and repairs on all the cars as well. This is no easy task because even though we don?t buy our kids cars, we do provide cars for them to drive so we have six cars and a motorcycle. How do you control spending? We try to live on less than we earn. When we charge something on a credit card, we usually pay it in full at the end of the month. We avoid paying interest and late fees. We spend about $200 a week at wholesale clubs and at least another $100 during the week at the local grocery stores. This doesn?t include eating out which we rarely do. My husband and I do go out to dinner for a date night a couple times a month. Sometimes we eat out as a family on special occasions. We also expect our children to pay for their cell phones when they turn 16. When they turn 18, they begin paying for their auto insurance. Do you take time out for yourself? I don?t take a lot of time out for myself but I do attend a monthly women?s meeting at church. I do get sometime alone when everyone is in school and when there are no doctor or dental appointments scheduled. When I do have extra time, I?d rather do a one on one with a child, girl time with my daughters or mom and the spend time with the boys.