It's been about 12 years now that our loop has been together, and from the very start I always knew there was something special about Dina. Always soft-spoken (or should I say, soft-written), never complains about anything, is always supportive of her friends. When we first "met" she was pregnant with baby #3, who I will just call "H". In the past 12 years, Dina has given birth to 6 more children, one more beautiful than the next. Yes, she is a mom of nine and isn't even sure if baby AJ will be her last. It's not uncommon for her to be breast feeding more than one child at any given point in time. Dina is a very devout Catholic girl and even goes by the Catholic law that birth control is a mortal sin, something most Catholics, even ones who consider themselves devout, tend to ignore. Her hubby, N, is a diesel mechanic and of course Dina is a stay at home mom, so you'd think she'd often complain about financial difficulties, wouldn't you? Well, she never does.
I've always thought that Dina would be an outstanding Pioneer woman because she's so self-reliant and "earthy". She home-schools all of the of-age children except her two oldest boys, D and C, who decided this past year that they wanted to go to public school. Everything Dina cooks is made from scratch with only the most natural of ingredients, some fresh from her back yard. The family has their own chickens and they have eggs coming out the wazoo. The chickens have really become like pets to them and the kids love holding them and playing with them outside. Their good friend has a milk cow, so they get raw milk each week and sometimes even make their own yogurt. Each year the whole family plants a huge vegetable garden that the kids tend to throughout the season. Dina actually found a hive of bees close to her house and had her husband, N, move it to a better location on the property, and yes, they harvested and ate the honey!
Holistic and homeopathic remedies are always Dina's first choice of treatment for any of her children. She's done a lot of research on childhood vaccinations, and has since chosen not to have her children inoculated. I can't say I agree with this one, but because I know she's done a lot of research on the subject (whereas I have done none) I just trust that it's the best decision for her and her family, and that they won't start a new Smallpox epidemic. Only kidding! Don't get me wrong. When one of her kids is really sick she takes them to the doctor. She's just not an alarmist who runs at the first sign of an earache (use garlic oil! LOL) or a runny nose. Whatever your ailment may be, just ask Dina and she'll probably know a homeopathic remedy off the top of her head.
Here's something I've always thought was completely quirky and wacky. The most heartwarming yet crazy thing that Dina does each time she has a baby, is that as soon as she's sure she's in real active labor, she gets out her ingredients and BAKES A CAKE. Yes, you read that right. In between hee hee hoos, she's in the kitchen baking a cake from scratch to celebrate the birth of the new baby. And it's not off to the hospital we go after that either. Nope, Dina has had the last 6 of her children right there at home in her own bedroom. It scares the poop out of me, but she doesn't even have a midwife or doula with her, just her husband and/or a close friend.
They live in the rural mountains of New Mexico, so God only knows how long it would take help to arrive if the need arose. I try not to even think of that and assure myself that Dina knows what's best for herself and her family. It's just one of those huge differences between us, but one that I truly respect her for. But can you imagine already having a huge family relying on you, then having your baby at home and not having any time to rest and recoup? I've seen Dina have a baby at midnight and then kiss N goodbye at 5 a.m. as he leaves for work. Her day basically goes on as usual, never mind that she popped out a 9- pounder hours before. At least these days she's got C, D, and H to help out with the littles, but can you imagine giving birth and then having to do 5 loads of laundry later that day and cook a meal for 11?
And don't assume that because there are so many children that they are deprived in any way. No, Dina keeps them all busy, whether it's with 4H, gymnastics or Cub Scouts, plus things like home- schooling play groups . Try picturing yourself driving down the mountain in bad weather with 9 kids in tow just to get to a gymnastics meet that you would then have to sit through for 3 hours, entertaining 8 of the 9 children. OMG, just the thought of it gives me the heebie jeebies! Here's a list of the age of the kids, and what their interests are.
Cahner 14, enjoys skateboarding.
Dalton 13, plays bass, and likes cooking
Hannah 11, baking, crafts, learning to knit
Cam 9, gymnastics (optional, level 7)
Hailey 8, loves giraffes, drawing
Cierra 5, likes reading and puzzles,
Hunter 4, likes dragons, dinosaurs and tormenting his sisters
Brooke, likes her babies, and dresses that spin.
AJ, loves her siblings and standing and trying to get things she's not supposed to have.
For the past several years I've wanted to write Oprah and nominate Dina for Mother of the Year, but since I haven't done that, I thought it would be nice to post a blog about her so I could let her and everyone else know how special and unique I think she is. I don't think there are many of us out there who would have the patience and the fortitude to have such a large family and keep it running like clockwork with never a complaint to be heard. In my eyes, Dina truly is Mother Earth. I, for one, am much too selfish of my alone time to be able to have any more than the two children I've got. If you think about what Dina's days must be like, you know she has no time for a pedicure or to read a book or even take a bubble bath, unless it's in the middle of the night. Just take a moment to imagine yourself in a house filled with 11 people (yes, she's got a very nice-sized house, but still... think), all the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, bath time, school time, recreational stuff, taking care of the dog and the chickens. And what about the utter CHAOS??????? When my two get into an argument it's all I can do not to run screaming out into the street like a crazy woman. Imagine if you had 9 children all fighting at once? Egads! And what about when a bunch of them are sick at the same time? This would literally put me in an asylum, but once again, Dina doesn't complain. She's always looking on the bright side. "Well, at least D and C are better now. Just waiting for H and Ec to come down with it. Ha ha ha." Egads, I'd shoot myself on the spot.
Although I've never set eyes on Dina in person she's still one of my most treasured friends. I've learned so much from her over the years and my respect for her knows no bounds. She's younger than me, but she's someone I look up to, as you would a wise elder. Her utter faith in God, her appreciation of life's smallest gifts, and the complete love she has for her family make her a very special person in my eyes.
Side note. I wrote this post months and months ago, and had been waiting for individual pictures of Dina, the kids, and N. But surprise! I never did get them. Gee, I wonder why she didn't find the time to send them to me? LOL! I think it's finally time to introduce my great blogger friends to my great loopie friend. Here's a picture of all the kids together. Tell me that ain't a great looking bunch of kids! Be sure to give Dina and her family a visit at Nine Lil' Monkeys!