Another year! This year Travis and I celebrated our 81st birthdays and our 61st wedding anniversary. Every day is a blessing, and we are so grateful for our continued good health. Except for a few aches and pains, I feel much the same as I did when I was younger. The only thing I can’t comprehend is how my oldest child, Ramona, can be 60 years old! That just does not seem possible. Ramona agrees with me. She says the only time she realizes her age (or notices her weight) is when she sees a photograph. Therefore, Ramona has tried to establish a new “Family Photo Policy” by decreeing that “all pictures of Mona should be taken at a distance of at least 100 feet and from the neck up.” Naturally, this has ensured that all family members are trying to take as many close-up photos of her as possible. Now that is one thing that has remained a constant! My children still enjoy joking around and irritating each other. That identifies one of the main challenges in a family business: there is no one you love more than your family and no one that can “get your goat” faster than a brother or a sister. All in all, I would have to say that Ramona and Mike (President and Vice President of the bakery, in that order) manage their disagreements rather well (although Ramona has joked that sometimes the office help deserves combat pay). Having a good sense of humor helps in our family just like it does in the larger world!
Ramona keeps the sign below at her desk. “Our New Year’s Resolution: We will not fight or fuss in 1965.” Sometimes I have to remind them that their pact needs renewal.
The Newest “Cookie Taster” Additions
Daughter Caroline’s twins, who will be two in October, have enjoyed a happy and a mostly healthy year. There is rarely a dull moment when they are around. Watching them “grow” into their personalities keeps us entertained. They are so different! Evva Kate, the twins’ big sister, (age 5), helps her mom look after them, and the twins adore her. All three take their “Cookie Tasting” jobs seriously. In fact, one of the twin’s first words was “cookie.”
Madison loves being in Chicago where she attends law school at DePaul University. Her first Chicago winter gave her a whole new appreciation for “puffy coats.” She enjoys sharing her rural roots with the “city slickers.” “Yes,” she tells her friends, “my house is up a dirt road, and yes, I have dug potatoes.” She has also proven to be quite the sales representative and increased our business in Chicago! Grandson Jed has been a big help at the bakery this past year, working on Saturdays when his Aunt Caroline is unavailable, and letting Uncle Mike teach him to mix up dough. Mike experienced some back problems this past year, (“old age” says Ramona). “Mixing up the dough” means scooping out thousands of pounds of dough by hand and placing it in 21-pound storage containers—a challenge to a “mature” back. Having younger family members around is a tremendous asset because it really does take a family to run this business. We hope to get Isabella and Fiona to pitch in soon. In the meantime, they continue to excel in school. You should hear Isabella sing!
Mike and Ramona and son-in-law Scott still make pottery and display it at the bakery. Mike and Scott’s pieces are functional and Ramona’s are, well, let’s say, “interesting.” Son-in-law Norian was making pottery, but these days he stays pretty busy chasing the twins and Evva Kate. Travis still rides around the farm on his tractor and scouts for well-shaped branches that he makes into walking sticks. My love of gardening endures as I continue to delight in watching vegetables grow and flowers bloom. Mike insists that I have never met a plant I did not want or a seed catalog I could resist. I derive as much pleasure from growing food as my family does eating it.
And so another year passes by. During my 81 years, one of the things I have tried to do is create wonderful memories for my children and grandchildren. Two of those memories involved trips we shared, Disney World (20 years ago) and hiking the Grand Canyon (15 years ago). We still talk about those trips. However, the majority of those memories were made by simply sharing time together. It’s a simple gift, time. I love to cook for my family, and once a week we all take the time to gather around the dinner table. We have spent hours at that table, laughing together, teasing each other, playing games, and watching the children grow up. In March, Granddaughter Madison really wanted to come home from Chicago to celebrate her birthday and surprise her mom. However, before she made the reservation, she called to make sure I could cook. I must say that made me feel very special. So until next year, here’s wishing you and your family much joy as you make your own happy memories. Thank you for being our customer!