Find-A-Friend Friday: Meet Montserrat

Okay, people, you really need to know Montserrat, also known as “Cocoa” in the blogosphere.  She fascinates me because she is so many things that I love (faithful, Spanish and Hispanic heritage, from Georgia like me, chocoholic…), and also so many things that scare me to death (homeschool, 8 children, farm …).  She pulls it all off with an amazing grace and a remarkable attitude. She is truly inspiring, and any visit you make to her blog makes you want to do more and be better (but not in a guilty way).  I honestly believe that what she does with her family out on a remote farm is just as magnificent as any woman in history has ever done.  She rocks.  Here’s Montserrat:

Hola! My name is Montserrat (moan-say-raht) but most people just take the “rat” off and call me Montse (moan-see). My name comes from the monastery outside of Barcelona, Spain. I am 33 years old and have had a ‘heap o living’ in my life already. My wonderful husband and I live on a 4,200 acre alfalfa farm with our seven daughters and one son (soon to be two sons!) in Northern Nevada. We farm with my husband’s brothers and their families. We also homeschool our children.

I am a “mixed” breed. My mother is Mexican and my father is half Spanish, with his other half being descended from good old Mormon pioneer stock. The oldest of five children, I was born in Salt Lake City and grew up in Miami, FL and Byron, GA. My husband served his mission to Georgia, our branch being his first area. That is were we first met, but since I had just turned thirteen you can bet there wasn’t anything inappropriate going on. J I went to Ricks College (BYU-I) at the ripe old age of fifteen. My parents tried to find someone who could keep an eye on me and remembered that Elder ‘W’ was also going to Ricks. He’s been keeping an eye on me every since! We were married and sealed in the Salt Lake Temple by President Hinckley in December 1994, one month after I turned seventeen.

What’s your favorite part of motherhood?

I love the hugs and slobbery goodnight kisses I get from my children. I enjoy just being with them, watching them, learning who they are. They are each so unique! I enjoyed hearing this quote given by Sister Jean A. Stevens this past General Conference:

“Elder M. Russell Ballard has taught us the importance of the Savior’s admonition to “behold your little ones” when he said: “Notice that He didn’t say ‘glance at them’ or ‘casually observe them’ or ‘occasionally take a look in their general direction.’ He said to behold them. To me that means that we should embrace them with our eyes and with our hearts; we should see and appreciate them for who they really are: spirit children of our Heavenly Father, with divine attributes” (“Behold Your Little Ones,” Tambuli, Oct. 1994, 40; emphasis added; “Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 59).

“There is not a more perfect place to behold our little ones than in our families. Home is a place where we can all learn and grow together.”

Name 2 or 3 items on your “bucket list.”  (Some things you’d like to do before you die.)

My husband and I really want to serve a mission together when our kids are grown and gone. Someday I WILL write a children’s book. And I want to learn how to play “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” on my violin before I die.

Brag for a minute.  Do it.  What are a few things that you’re pretty good at?

Playing the piano has always been a favorite talent. I’m glad my parents instilled that love of music in me and my siblings. Being able to play practically anything when called on at the last minute has been a tremendous way to serve.

I am good at staying cheerful. It’s just a natural thing that can drive others (especially those that like to be pessimistic) nuts, but that’s part of my disposition – to be truly happy and cheerful.

I can also make really good wheat bread.

What are you loving lately?

Hot chocolate on a stick, my quiet study times in the mornings before everyone else wakes up, feeling my son move and kick in my womb, hearing my children laugh as they play together, and listening to all the great programs at the Mormon Channel on my iPod when I go walking or clean the house.

6. Do you have a favorite scripture or quote?  Why?

One of my favorite scriptures has always been Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

It goes along well with my favorite quote from Sis. Marjorie Pay Hinckley, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”

Though our lives may be hard and full of trials we can still choose to be happy and content with whatever situation we find ourselves. We are commanded to “be of good cheer!”

What do you gravitate toward during your unscheduled time?

It depends on the time of year. In the winter I enjoy sewing and quilting. Spring and summer you’ll find me working in my garden. And in the autumn it’s baking and canning with all the harvest. You can bet no matter what the season though, I will always have a good book in hand.

Tell us some of your best mom-tricks  (things you’ve figured out that work well for you).

Keeping a good routine! Kids thrive on routines. We don’t really stick to a certain time schedule but rather the same flow throughout the day. When it’s time to work, we ALL work. When it’s time to eat, we ALL eat. And when it’s time to play, we ALL play. It makes our days runs so much smoother.

What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend?

Sometimes I can have a really sarcastic sense of humor. It can throw people off when we first meet. Also I am a total nerd (actually I prefer dweeb) and love to talk about odd facts. And if we ever play Scrabble be prepared for a knockout, hard fought game!

Friends are great for venting.  What’s been frustrating you lately?

Politics. Enough said on that one! Another is feeling alienated sometimes because my husband is the bishop of our ward. Some people assume that he tells me everything that is going on, who he’s meeting with, and what everyone’s problems are (which he doesn’t!) so when they are mad at him for various reasons they show it towards me or my kids as well. Of course, this doesn’t happen all the time, but enough that it hurts.

What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of?

I know that Jesus is the Christ! I Stand All Amazed is my favorite hymn as it was the starting point of my testimony. At thirteen I began memorizing that hymn – the words as well as playing it on the piano. A little fire was started that couldn’t be stopped. I studied the words and the accompanying scriptures which led me to other scriptures and hymns. Studying the atonement and what it means in my life has truly helped me through trials. Jesus Christ is my Savior and redeemer! I’m not one for writing poetry but the following just came out one day. It is my testimony of Jesus Christ.

The wondrous works thy hands have wrought,
The majesty of thy being,
Doth cause within my humble heart,
A peaceful quiet knowing.

Thou art my Savior, my Master, my Healer,
My soul from sin redeem.
Oh, beautiful Lord, my Rock, my Pillar,
Thou King of all supreme!

Thy suffering pains no man could share,
In agony that night spent!
And still, next day, the cross to bear,
That all mankind might repent.

Three days thy body lay in tomb,
My Lord, the Anointed One.
What joy is found, the empty tomb!
Victory over death is won!

Thou art my Savior, my Master, my Healer,
My soul from sin redeem.
Oh beautiful Lord, my Rock, my Pillar,
Thou King of all supreme!

My sins are great, my soul doth grieve,
“O wretched man that I am!”
Yet, in thy bosom, sweet reprieve,
Cleansed by the blood of the Lamb!

What homemaking job/task gives you the most satisfaction?

I love, love, love to do laundry! A good thing as we have loads of it around here – especially in the summertime. I love the whole process of washing it and hanging it on the line, then folding and smelling, and smelling and folding it when it’s crisp and dry.

What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it?

2008 was a hard year for me. I had two miscarriages, one at the beginning and one towards the end of the year. Right in the middle of that my husband was called to be the bishop. Talk about lots of changes and highs and lows! My husband is the one that helped me the most, keeping steady and strong, and lending a listening ear. He is the rock of our family. Boy, do I love him!

Tell us about your blog:

Chocolate on my Cranium was started a little over three years ago. If it’s not obvious from the title I am a die hard chocoholic. I talk about everything from mothering, home making, and homeschooling, to sharing crafts and tutorials, and also what life is like on the farm. I hope that those that stop by feel welcome and at home there. I gave everyone in our family chocolate aliases – but am running out of ideas so if you have any for the new baby boy due in July please let me know!

See?  I told you she was amazing.  Go spend some time in the archives of her blog and you won’t regret it.  Thanks, Montserrat, for sharing your awesomeness with us.