Friday, October 10, 2008

Dina, My Mother Earth Friend

Have you ever met someone that is so completely the opposite of you, so much so that you should probably really dislike this person? But then find that you love them to pieces and respect them for all their differences? This is the way I feel about my friend, Dina, from my Pregnancy '97 email loop. I've written about the loop in a much earlier post if you're interested in knowing more about us as a group.  You can read about it here.

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!


29 "Sister" Lovin' Friends Said:

  • Anonymous

    Justine that's a great story and I might add, so nice of you to share it with everyone. I was one of seven and are life style was along those lines. However, my Mom never baked a cake during labor :) Do you still keep in touch with this lady? She is a tribute for women, that's for sure. Yes, I agree with you, that photo is a great shot of her family.


  • Justine

    Yep, of course we're still in touch. If you click on the link I provided, you can see how we met!

    Justine :o )

  • Anonymous

    Flippin' heck! Now that's a real earth mother!

    Don't you just hate - but love women who are like that?

    bet she never shouts at her kids like I do.

  • Anonymous

    Duh, you did say that, I forgot about it. Senior moment :) I will go back and read that. She is to be admired..


  • Raxx - A day in the life

    As the #10 Kid in a family of 12 Kids I completely understand, however I have NO idea how your friend or your mum made it, of course these are different times, and more than four kids is considered bonkers! But I always admire women who go past two, I know I can't even though I think about it (fleetingly) at tinmes.

    Nice Post and the kids are more than beautiful!

  • French

    I have a friend at work who is very similar to this...I look at her in total amazement...home schooling? There is no way I would have the patience for that, and having had 2 C-sections having natural child birth would have been impossible, and cooking? Well everyone knows I hate it! I love that there are all types of people in this world. She sounds really interesting;) French

  • Naz

    God bless her for having such stamina and strength. You really have to applaud someone who stands by their convictions. This was extremly interesting Justine and thank you for sharing her story.

  • santamaker

    I am a useless slacker !!! Goodness gracious, whata woman! I'm exhausted just reading about all she accomplishes in one day. Baking a cake while in labor!!!!???? You could easy copy paste your post and send it on to Oprah's website... she is someone to look up to!

  • squawmama

    WOW amazing story...what an incredible woman... She should be nominated for Mother of the Year and I think since your post was such a fitting tribute to her you should email it not only to Oprah but Rachael Ray and Ellen... They do so many wonderful things for people like this... How great would it be for someone to recognize her accomplishments and dedication to family... You should do it...


  • aimee

    I loves me some Dina :) Oh and for the record, I'm pretty sure she doesn't even "hee hee hoo" during labor. She's about as quiet as a mouse! It's amazing to see!!

  • nikkicrumpet

    I need a nap just thinking about her and her family. Holy heck just shoot me if I had to raise 9 kids. It takes a very special person to even attempt that level of heroics! I have a friend from Highschool who lives in Washington...she has 11...and they are all single births. And she did it on PURPOSE! I'm like you...I admire them...but I still think they're crazy!

  • Shelia

    Justiney!! I'm aching all over just thinking about popping out all those little ones! My goodness, Dina will have some special rewards for her in heaven! I can't imagine living like that by my appreciate goes out to her and her family. It's nice you've stayed close for so long. Now that baking a cake bit during labor is crazy!! lol
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  • Mama

    What a wonderful post Justine, you really are a great writer, I loved reading this post and what a lovely tribute to your friend Dina, she truly is an amazing lady with a very beautiful family. hugs, Kathy.

  • Nikki via The Scarlett Rose Garden

    What beautiful words you've written about your friend. I am touched!
    I agree with others, you should send this post to Oprah!!
    Her kids are just gorgeous.
    Thanks for the great post!

  • Rachelle

    Hey Justine ~ she sounds like an awesome woman. You are lucky to have such a good friend. Your tribute to her is beautiful ~ as are her children. I could never have given birth at home ~ I always wanted the drugs as soon as I could get them! I look foward to checking out her blog. Thanks for the great post!

  • squawmama

    Justine... How are you feeling lately... Have you heard anymore about your CPAP??? You haven't mentioned it ia a while... I've been thinking about you and how your doing with all that..


  • Karen

    I had checked out her blog awhile back. She is amazing. I once had a friend whose mom had 18 kids so Dina has a ways to go! Karen

  • Buffie

    Holy COW! Unbelieveable! Give this woman a medal...I'm in total awe!
    Buffie : )

  • Alex

    What a wonderful and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing with us, another piece of your life. You are an amazing woman with amazing friends.

    (PS I missed the question about my sorry! I am glad he is here now, though!)


  • Shelia

    Morning, Justiney!! I do love my little fuzzy face. My Mother says I kiss her more than I did my babies, I guess I do! lol You could enter your friends kids in Pink Saturday because of their pink shirts.
    Be a sweetie today
    Shelia ;)

  • Rhea

    What an amazing woman! And what an amazing friend you are.

    I don't know how she does it. How the heck she can have so many children and cook food from scratch and do all she does. Some people are just truly amazing.

  • Life on Bonnie Lane

    Wow, Dina's amazing! I don't know how anyone gets their energy like that. Maybe it's all the natural foods! Some women are just born to be mothers. She has got to be one of them!

    I loved the words "between hee hee hoos she's baking a cake," lol.

    Having kids at home...scary! But my friend who made the journal for me in my Pink Post had her last one at home. I got to go over and see him that very same day! I would have been too scared.

    Immunizations: I have had my kids innoculated, but not without a great deal of nervousness as there was a family from my church affected by immunizations in the worst way. Their daughter was normal up until 5 months, then after an innoculation she got sick and became virtually vegetative. She lived until age 5, which is considerably longer than doctor's ever expected. They attribute her longetivity to the very loving care of her mother. It was heartbreaking to see.


  • Kathy

    What a wonderful tribute to your friend. I am so moved and touched by this story. What an amazing woman.

  • Dina

    Aww Justine, you are too sweet...I think some things sounded more...just more than it really It was so sweet though, thankyou. :) And that you to everyone that posted! I'm blushing now. And the cake in labor...well it is a birthday

  • Anonymous


    This piece was beautifully written. Your friend seems like a remarkable woman. Her children are beautiful!

    She is lucky to have you as a friend!


  • Bridget

    Tiney, You and Dina are like twins. lol
    So why no bloggin' girl? Get your fingers to typing and use that new camera!

  • Justine

    Written by my good neighbor friend, Michelle...

    Justine. I didn't know where to respond to each individual blog you posted. Blogging is a forgein entity to me. I need purchase "Bloggers for Dummies". Now, say the word "IM" and I am with you there. Maybe, I have a little understanding because I house a teenager. Speaking, writing, and texting "IM" is a must.

    However, your blog about Dina, from Mexico, is so inspiring. I believe I would kill myself if I had to "Wife Swap" with her for only one day. That could not be my life. God bless Dina and her crew. You know God only gives us as much as we can handle. YOU AND I CAN ONLY HANDLE 2 KIDS. Amen. Amen.

    BTW(By the way), I absolutey admire you "POETIC TALENT". I hate you for being so cool. I love the poem and you. Make sure to post more poems as you invent them. I think it is absolutely amazing that you have a "Hustle and Flow" and rhyme to you poem. Get it. Get it, girl.

    Just remember to just keep "DOING THE DAMN THING".

  • Smilingsal

    You should follow your first thinking and write to Oprah. Dina deserves it.

  • Anonymous

    Home school, we can't even get through HOMEWORK on some nights! God Bless her and yes, send her to Oprah this one needs an all expense paid day off to anywhere!