Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Molden family at home in West Linn: front row (from left) Josiah, 5; father Alex, a former University of Oregon star cornerback; Bianca, 3; Alana, 10; Ezra, 8 months; Alexs wife Christin; and Selah, 8. Back row: Micah, 12; Isaiah, 18; and Elijah, 15.WEST LINN -- Alex and Christin Molden never intended to have such a big family. Not at first.

"We planned for five," Christin says. "Well, in the beginning we said three. But we had three boys and no girls, so then we got a girl. Then we said, 'She needs a sister.' Then I didn't like the odd number. I begged for six. No. 7 was a surprise, and No. 8 was a big surprise."

So that's how the Moldens wound up with eight children -- five boys and three girls, now ages 18 years to seven months.

It's a full, active, lively family that will grow no larger. Alex -- the former University of Oregon cornerback who went on to an eight-year career in the NFL -- saw to that medically last year.

"Eight is enough," Christin says with a smile, drawing inspiration from the TV series of the late '70s.

Not that the parents are complaining.

"It's super fun," says Alex, a personal trainer and fitness consultant who turns 41 on Monday. "It's busy, and there's always something going on. But I wouldn't have it any other way."

Christin, 40, was raised in a family of six in Hillsboro. Alex grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo., with his parents and twin brother Lenar.

"I can't imagine how much harder it would have been for us with a set of twins," says Alex, a former first-round draft pick who played for New Orleans, San Diego and Detroit from 1996-2003. "Luckily, we had two- or three-year breaks between kids. As they get older, they learn responsibility and how to help out with their younger siblings. After three (kids), it's just more laundry and more food on the table."

Alex estimates the family's monthly food bill to be between $1,500 and $1,800. The parents cart the kids around in an extended Chevy Express van.

"Six captain's chairs and a bench," Alex says. "Whenever we go to the store and I can't remember where I parked, it's the biggest thing in the lot."

The Moldens have ample room to spread out in their five-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot home in the Barrington Heights section of West Linn. But privacy has never been much of an issue.

"It's been so much fun every day," says the oldest child, Isaiah, who will leave the roost next month to begin his college football career at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. "It's a real pleasure. No downside at all. Everybody has pretty much their own room, so we can get away from everybody if we need to."

Usually, that's not necessary.

"It gets crazy, but it's always fun," says the second-oldest, Elijah, 15. "There's always something to do, with one person or a group. … play Legos, watch a movie or something."

The girls are outnumbered but not overwhelmed by their brothers.

"They entertain me," says Alana, 10, the oldest girl. "They're really funny, and they're always loving. I like it."

All the Molden kids are involved in athletics.

Isaiah, 6-2 and 310 pounds, was a three-year starting tackle who earned a scholarship at Western Oregon.

"He gets his size from my side of the family," Christin says.

Elijah, 5-11 and 175, started at cornerback as a freshman at West Linn last season and recently received his first scholarship offer -- from Oregon.

Micah, 12, will be in his second season as ball boy for the Lions this fall.

"It's super cool," he says. "I give the ball to the referee and bring water to players."

"We have to work more on that water thing," laughs Alex, who coaches West Linn's cornerbacks.

The other children are involved in various sporting activities -- soccer, softball, track and field, basketball and gymnastics.

"We run the gamut," says Alex, an all-Pac-10 selection as a junior on the Ducks' 1995 Rose Bowl team and member of the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame. "We never wanted the kids to focus on just one sport. Enjoy as many sports as they can for as long as they can. Have fun, but do something."

The Molden kids seem happy and well-behaved. What's the parents' secret?

"People always ask me, 'How do you do it?' " Alex says. "It's Christin. She's a supermom. I've learned so much from her about parenting. She can write the book on it.

"You have to have patience. Not everything is going to be perfect. You want to raise kids who are always going to do the right thing, but they're going to have their bumps along the road. Parents have to be able to guide them and correct them but let them walk their own path. You have to love them, and make sure they love the family."

"Communication is really important," Christin adds. "And keep God in the equation. We're trying to raise good, responsible, God-fearing young people."

The Molden boys -- Isaiah, Elijah, Micah, Josiah and Ezra -- all own biblical names. The parents couldn't find girls names in the bible they liked. They ended up with Alana, Selah and Bianca, "names of girls Alex thought were hot in high school," Christin says, smiling. "I asked his brother."

Alex and Christin met in a geology class at Oregon. She worked at the Casanova Center in an office near the UO football treatment center.

"Alex was quiet," she says. "I liked that. I'm more of a challenge girl. He was very reserved. He didn't give me much attention, and I liked that."

What sold Alex on Christin?

"She was super smart, super nice and beautiful," he says. "I hit the trifecta."

The Moldens moved from San Diego to West Linn in 2006, looking for a good school system and more affordable living. A year later, Molden turned to corporate personal training as a second career, beginning work as an independent contractor for Nike. He teaches a twice-a-week "Fusion Training" course to Nike employees and significant others.

"We incorporate speed, agility and strength and apply it in a fun game," Molden says. "There are a lot of athletes on the Nike campus. It might have been a few years since they competed, but they still have that in their core. They love getting out there."

Molden also does personal training at the Bo Jackson and Nike Sports centers on campus and is often asked to train celebrities (Usher) or sports figures (Serena Williams, Shawn Johnson, Uriah Hall) in personal sessions.

A few weeks ago, Molden supervised NFL standouts Dez Bryant, Earl Thomas, Andre Johnson, Charles Woodson and Michael Crabtree, among others, in a group session.

He works for Nike as a consultant and also does occasional outside events, such as a recent Fellowship of Christian Athletes football camp in Corvallis.

"I love it," he says. "It keeps me busy. Every morning, I have to get up early to get over to Nike, but it's so much fun. I'm doing what my backup plan was since high school in case I didn't make it to the NFL."

Last year, West Linn High coach Mike Fanger asked Molden to join his coaching staff. It was a chance for Alex to spend time with his three oldest boys, including ball boy Micah.

"That was the whole purpose," Christin says. "They've wanted him to coach for years, but with a job and eight kids, you don't have time."

Alex will coach again this fall under Fanger's successor, Chris Miller -- the ex-Duck quarterback. Alex will be working with Elijah, who attended a UO football camp in June, "and they offered him (a scholarship) on the spot," Alex says. "He wants to be a Duck, but I want him to use this opportunity to see what else is out there. He's only a sophomore. There's tons of time. Things can change."

Nobody knows that better than Alex Molden. Child after child after child over 18 years changed his life in so many ways. For the better, of course.

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