Top Carolyn Ron Sue Bonnie Deanna Dan Bob Pat Jeff Lisa Renae Mike Michelle Louise Reading



I remember growing up with a Mom who got up at 5 AM. Most of the time she was in chore clothing and out the door in a flash to help with milking the cows. Then back in the kitchen to get breakfast for all the kids and see us off to school. Plenty of kids still at home to care of all day long. On Saturday it was time to bake 8 loaves of bread, a pan of dinner rolls for Saturday night supper, and a pan of caramel rolls for Sunday dinner. It was important to always have cake on hand. You never knew when someone might drop by, and Mom always had time to welcome a visitor with cake and coffee. Of course, if it happened to be meal time, what is one more at the table?

 In summer there was a huge garden. The kitchen became a food factory. 50 bags each of green beans, peas and corn had to be prepared for freezing. Many jars of canned tomatoes, and many jars of pickles both dill and sweet. She also made jam and froze apples for pie. I remember pie crusts made with lard from the hogs we butchered. Mom was the entrail remover for chicken butchering. And most other aspects except feather and pin feather removal which was our job. Chicken dinner every Sunday was the norm as it was Dad’s favorite.

Somehow Mom had time to make those little open face cookie cutter sandwiches with cream cheese and olives and such. Seems like dozens of them for the school bazaar. She managed to attend PTA meetings, 4-H meetings, was very active in the church women's group, teach catechism, and as far as I know never missed a school conference. How on earth?

Eventually all of the kids grew up. Mom then proceeded to work till age 70 when she retired from Mico incorporated, and take care of Dad like a professional nurse. I will not forget how amazed I was when we daughters had to learn what to do so she could travel out west with her sisters. 26 medications to set up. Insulin to keep track of. She knew just when to give a bit more or a bit less, when orange juice was needed, when to call the doctor or head to the ER. So competent and intelligent. Also the designated driver of the sisters, to Omaha, where they would catch the train. When Mom returned from that trip, Dad was standing in the kitchen as each sister came up the stairs from the front door. Mom came up last. I will never forget the look on his face as he said "There she is" with a smile, sigh of relief, happiness, love. So glad to witness this moment.

Recently I read the story Mom wrote in 1986. She also drove a team of horses pulling a manure spreader and such. I had forgotten that story. Again, amazed me. Is there anything my Mom couldn't do? Love you so much Mom


In 1970 I was 18 and graduated high school. At the time Vietnam War was going strong and I had a very low draft number of 18. Most draftees were going into the Army infantry and sent straight to Vietnam. I was a brain-dead kid that knew everything and nothing. I was working at Owatonna Manufacturing as a fork lift operator and making my own money for the first time and was nonchalantly independent.

My induction letter came for me to report on April 15, 1971 and Mom was hounding me for months prior to contact recruiters to join the Airforce, Navy, or Marines, anything to stay out of the Army infantry. Of course, I never took it seriously and naturally did nothing.

 I came home from work on the Friday the week before I was supposed to report and Mom met me at the door with a list of phone numbers for the Airforce, Navy, and Marines recruiters and handed me the phone. She said she had talked to them and they told her that if I called them that night and set an appointment to see them the following day, Saturday, they could steal me away from the Army. Mom stood right there and insisted I make the call. It was already after 5pm so odds were slim anyone would still be there.

I dialed the first number, no answer,

I dialed the second number, no answer,

I dialed the third number and they answered. It was the Navy recruiter and we set the meeting for the next day. That is how I wound up in the Navy, thanks to Mom’s persistence.


One quality I have noticed in mom is that she never said a negative word about any of the son-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. Most people can find faults in people and express them to a family member, but mom didn’t. She welcomed people into her family with open arms.

However, if they hurt or somehow did something ugly to one of mom’s kids, she did have a rather negative opinion of them and stated it.


I recall when we surprised Carolyn with a peddlepub excursion around Minneapolis with all the sisters; Mom enthusiastically joined in the fun.

Growing up I recall frequent Sunday dinners with various relatives as family functions were a priority. Mom and Dad would sit around the living room visiting with the adults while us cousins would be off on our own adventures.

Another memory was driving with Mom and Aunt Janie to Arkansas to Michelle and John’s time share. There were many stories told and much laughter and fun along the way making the long drive a piece of cake. Then who can forget the super suds jacuzzi incident. We added what we THOUGHT was just a normal amount of soap, but soon had bubbles overflowing and spreading throughout the bathroom. Michelle was instantly put to work scooping up bubbles and throwing them into the shower. We laughed so hard we were crying in our wine.


One of my youngest memories of Mom was when she saved me from a mad sow.  She was always busy, but she still made time for saving lives, literally!  It was all in a day’s work.

Like so many in our family, I am still amazed at how calmly she faced chaos.  Meals for large gatherings, graduation receptions, even mine when the family moved off the farm the next morning, people camping all over the farm for July 4th gatherings.  Even families sleeping all over the floors over Christmas.  These events did not seem to faze her, at least she did not show her anxiety.

Another memory, one Christmas holiday I was home from college and working on preparing a meal. Mom had just returned from the store, having purchased some groceries as well as a few gifts.  Dad came in the house and had a bit of a fit because Mom spent money on gifts.   I am sure Mom knew that would happen, but she was willing to deal with that if she thought something was important, and providing a little happiness with a few gifts for her children at Christmas was important to her.

One last memory, when Mike and Michelle were babies Mom told me I could not choose to feed Mike just because he ate faster than Michelle!  That was not okay!  Evidently, I was supposed to treat both babies equally. 

Mom, it has been such a joy to be able to visit you as an adult these many years.  Playing games, shopping, running around the mall in Omaha, visiting at family gatherings.  You are a blessing and I cannot wait until I get to visit again!Love you bunches!Mom, I love spending time with you and I hope you have a wonderful birthday!  I will see you soon!


I will always remember when Mom would bring food out to the field when I was out on the tractor in the fall, (back when there were no cabs on them to keep you warm). To see her coming after being out for hours was a treat.  Just to know I could sit in the warm car, eat a meal for a few minutes and get warmed up again.  It seemed she always had the time to come up with three squares per day no matter how busy we were.

I can remember her making bread from scratch, the stuff with no preservatives.  Her bread never lasted long enough to worry about it getting moldy because it was always eaten before that happened.  Glenn Wencel would often come over around dinner time when she had just baked some bread.  He could not resist getting his hands on it and loading tons of butter on every piece!

As everyone knows, I most certainly was a well-behaved child.  This might be hard to believe but once in a while Mom would have to discipline me.  I can remember a time when she was chasing me around the yard, (for whatever reason, I cannot remember what I did), but she got tired of running around so she went back into the house.  When she did I climbed up on the tractor that was in the yard and sat on the metal seat to catch my breath.  Low and behold, there was a wasp on the seat and it stung me right in the butt! I guess as the saying goes…Carma is a B***


There are so many memories to choose from, but I will just pick a few short ones that might reflect the general atmosphere.

One of my earliest memories that stays with me for some reason was when I was playing in the yard and Mom had to go into town. I must have been about 4 or 5. She asked if I wanted to ride along. I remember it being exciting being the only one besides mom in the car and riding in the front seat. Extremely rare. It was always exciting to go anywhere. Mom had this interesting skill where she could snap her gum which she always seemed to be chewing. I believe this trip was to the laundry mat. This was a usual Saturday destination. Mom would use four or more washing machines at a time and I was happy to be along as there was a bottled soda machine (pop) and I would always get an orange soda. After loading the clothes, we would walk around the town where I would beg for candy at every stop. I also remember her asking if I thought this toy helicopter was better than the trucks or something. I said it was of course. Much later I was surprised that Santa had brought that same one for me for Christmas. It was a great toy but it didn’t last too long before the propellers fell off. We never had toys for long after Christmas.

Other significant memories are the times mom had to take me to the doctor. A particularly strong memory occurred at the time when we first moved from West Concord to the Good Thunder farm.  I had decided to try my skill at jumping over the newly built cow station chains in the barn. I would lock together all of the chains from opposite sides of the alley where the cows’ heads would normally be (they were out pasturing) and then jump over each like I was doing the track and field hurdles. Theoretically I anticipated that it would be incredibly fun and very doable. The experiment did start well but, unfortunately, I ended up catching both feet on one chain and then when I tried to grab the bars on the side I missed. I went full force and caught myself on the cement by my teeth. Very traumatic and painful. I ran to the bus where we were living at the time while we waited for the Pongrats to leave the house. When mom saw the mess of lips, teeth and blood she was not happy. She was yelling “you crazy kid now what did you do” or some other somewhat less than soothing words until we had to head for the doctor. I was always too shy to speak so mom would try to gather what had happened and explain it all to the doctor. Anyway, they ended up pulling out the nerves and not much else. We couldn’t afford a proper repair. It was only much later when I went to post graduate school that I got those teeth replaced. I went all through high school, college and graduate school with defective and blackened front teeth. Oh well they say it builds character.

Although, being a boy, I spent most of my time outside working on Sundays we would sometimes get to stay inside. Mom would always be baking, cooking, or canning something. We canned a lot and in the summertime. We would scour the woods for boysenberries and black raspberries and mom would make jams and jellies. When we had apples she would bake apple pie. I found a maple tree in the woods and decided to try to tap it for syrup. I brought back many gallons of sap which mom would boil down to a few ounces of maple syrup. It seemed almost not worth the effort. We stopped collecting it after a few trials. Once we brought in a bunch of oat dust from our pile of oats in the barn. Mom somehow separated the usable parts from the chaff and baked oat bread. I don’t recall if it was any good or even if I got any but I remember her baking it. She was always baking something. For a time she was into making chocolate moose then brownies and always tons of bread. So many sweet and savory items. I remember sitting around smelling all the different scents emanating from the kitchen and wondering if we would get to try their source soon.

Meals were always important. She would insist we all sit around the table. Dad would almost always want meat and potatoes so that was the usual, but mom tried a lot of variations on the meat theme. I was not particularly fond of liver and onions, but it was far better than some of her more exotic choices like pickled cow’s tongue. I think we tried a squirrel once – not good by the way. We ate whatever was served because back then we did not have the luxury of a choice. Looking back, now with my often fast food or frozen dinners, I know just how good we had it.

Another activity mom and her family were big on was playing cards. We would play every time Grampa Tacheny visited. We would also host card parties occasionally. Usually, it was the game of Pfeiffer. I would always be sure to position myself to be on her team especially if dad was playing because I knew she would play fairly reasonably. God help you if dad was your partner; He would always yell “bid em up” regardless of the cards so you never knew what to think.

Perhaps these are not particularly exciting stories. In an ideal world Mom did what any good mother would do.  But much later I realized just how lucky we were. I’ve found so many people who never had anything close to the hard working dedicated mother we had. She always kept busy creating an environment and home where we could  feel safe and secure no matter how long she had to work. She would help out with milking or weed pulling or any other task when needed. There was always activity. Thank you, mom, for making our childhoods so memorable.



As the eighth child, I believe my older siblings played a big role in taking care of me when I was young, so my first real memories with mom were when I was in 3rd grade. I was diagnosed with Rheumatic Fever and had to go to the hospital. I remember going into the hospital room with mom, and the nurse told me to take off all my clothes INCLUDING MY UNDERWEAR and put on the hospital gown laying on the bed. Well, once the nurse left the room I started undressing, but when I got to my underwear, I started crying…I mean, no one had EVER asked me to do that outside of my immediate family. I was so scared and completely devastated. But I remember mom coming over and hugging me and telling me it would be ok. I don’t remember much of that two-week hospital stay as I was pretty sick, but looking back, that had to be very hard on mom. She still had three babies at home (Renae, Mike and Michelle), Lisa in kindergarten, Jeff in first grade, and seven other kids to take care of. But she made sure to find time for me too. She must have been completely overwhelmed.

My life before and after the hospital stay is pretty much a blur. I don’t have specific memories of mom, I know she was around and that she worked really hard with housework, baking, cooking, laundry and so much more. I have more memories of mom and home life after Deanna left for college. I was 13 years old, and mom started working in Mankato. Because I was the oldest girl, I was in charge of making sure dinner was on the table each night and the outside chores were done before she got home from work. It was a lot of responsibility, especially because I had two older brothers who didn’t have my same sense of commitment! There were many fights and arguments!!! On Saturday mornings I remember sitting with mom while she made her grocery list for her trip into town. Instructions were left with me on what needed to be done as far as cleaning, or other chores.

As a teenager, I remember mom as quiet and unassuming. If Dad would upset me with his words, I remember mom seeking me out later to talk with me and make sure I was ok.

After I left home, and especially after I married, my relationship with mom grew stronger and more loving. Mom enjoyed relaxing and having nice conversations, and because I also enjoy those things, we clicked. My most positive memories were when Scott left the army and was going back to school. We moved to Blue Earth – only an hour away from the farm. Scott was gone all the time because of school and work, and Andrew and Josh were very little. I packed up the kids and took them to visit mom and dad on the Farm a couple weekends each month. I loved being with mom and just fixing dinner together and visiting. That was a very special time for me.

Later, when we moved to Omaha, I absolutely loved having mom and dad stay with us. Dad really enjoyed Scott’s company, and I sure enjoyed having mom to myself for a while.

I love you mom!


As I reflect on all of the moments watching Mom, I wonder how she was able to do everything she did. From preparing meals and doing laundry to being a cow-milking supervisor and so much more. It always amazed me; and as I think about it now, it still does.

I was pretty much a good kid and never in trouble, so I don’t recall any major events that some of the less-than-ideal children recall. However, I do recall a few special snippets I’ll share. One of them was our Sunday dinners--especially when we had company--they were the best. Grandpa Tacheny declared that he liked Mom’s fried chicken the best of all the girls. The process required two to four pans on the stove at once and there were never any leftovers. Even the animals enjoyed a feast with the table scraps. I also remember Mom waking up early in the mornings to get the milking underway. One of the first things she would do is go out to the barn ten to fifteen minutes before everyone else and spray it down with a fog to kill all the flies; it looked a bit like a crime scene.

I also recall watching her do laundry on the porch using the old laundry tub with the ringer on top. I distinctly remember her telling me to keep my hand out of the way, but all that told me was I needed to test it out. Unfortunately, it pulled my arm through and I suppose I screamed bloody murder, but I’m sure it was much less dramatic. Another thing I remember was mom being my ride home when I played basketball as a Junior in high school. She would swing by the Rapidan School on her way home from work, and thankfully, she only forgot me two or three times. That was pretty good when you consider all the things that must have been on her mind on the way home from work.

This list of special moments can go on and on. I could write a novel if I included all of them. In the end, one of the greatest things about Mom is that no matter what, she has always been the best listener. You always feel like she is truly trying to understand what you are expressing. That, I believe, is a rare gift of which I am very thankful. Thanks Mom.

Have a great birthday, Mom!

With love,


I have many good memories...but will focus on key things that stand out.

As a little girl, I remember Mom always being there to make you feel better. I remember being home waiting for Jeff to be done with kindergarten so we could play. Mom would engage me in feeding the twins. I was pretty helpful as I recall. It was a good distraction until I could play with Jeff. Once home and after lunch and naps, we got to play outside where we buried clothes pins in the dirt and dug them back up to then create fences for pigs. Clothes pins represented fences and actual pigs...this seemed so obvious and logical...this was well before LEGOS...who knew what the future of clothes pins could have been if only they were ready to see the future!

Then there was the time that Pat chose her neighbor friends over her younger sister...a.k.a, me, to play with. She’d run off with Shelly Ness or Lori Baumgartenar....literally running from me so I couldn’t catch up and play with them. I’d go in the house very sad and Mom would immediately engage me in something she was doing to forget my disappointment. Since she was often baking, she would have me make buns from freshly made dough. This was comforting.

As I grew older, I helped Mom do all the analytics with the dairy operation. She was always good with numbers and we’d measure the pounds of milk from each cow, record them in a notebook, record bio partials (or something like that) from the bulk tank which was necessary to keep on grade A milk status....and from that data cull the herd. Perhaps that’s why I still love data driven problem solving and process improvement today?

I remember Mom always attending teacher conferences and pleased with what she heard...though never boasting about it because she expected nothing less. I remember her attending concerts and other activities where I’m not sure how she found the time but always enjoyed it.

I remember her always enjoying our singing, a fun skit or play we created and having us doing it multiple times for relatives at gatherings. Bottom line...I think she likes to party!

I remember her always looking for good in people and not being happy with gossip or negative comments in others. I remember her always taking life in as it is and enjoying what’s there...appreciative of the good times, realistic of the hardships and staying kind and open minded to those who are different and experience life differently.

I get told I’m optimistic with a dose of realism and I believe that comes from my Mom.

Thank you for always being there for all of us!


My mom.... seems the memories I have are all kind of grouped together in a “I’ll do whatever it takes to feed and clothe this large family that God has blessed me with” theme.

I remember many days of waking up from afternoon nap as a very small child and smelling cooking or baking. There was always so much food to prepare for the family. Mom could make a full meal without a lot of thinking. It seemed to come natural to her. I can’t even imagine the stress that would cause most mothers, but she seemed to take it in stride.

I have memories of us three little kids hanging on to mom’s skirt or riding under the cart at the canned warehouse store. We always stayed glued to her side as strangers were so scary. Not what we sometimes see now days with kids running ahead or misbehaving. We were patient and enjoyed the day out shopping. That cart got pretty heavy with the weeks-worth of supplies.

Later during most of my school years, mom was working. First as a secretary to a lawyer and then as a waitress. We would call her at work a lot and ask her what to make for supper and tell her about who was being mean or who we had to lock out of the house. She must not have gotten a lot done between the hours of 4 and 5 PM.

Since mom was working when I was growing up, she didn’t have as much time to sew clothes for us. I remember the big bags of clearance clothes she would bring home every so often from Shopko or Penney’s. She would tell us to look through and see what fit. There were usually several good pieces to add to our other “hand me down” outfits.

While I was in Middle school, I remember mom coming to my basketball games after work. Dad was never very happy I wasn’t there for chores, but mom was trying to be supportive.

As I grew to an adult, I enjoyed going home and talking with mom. She was always supportive and wanted what was best for me. I still very much enjoy our talks and time together today.


When I think about mom, I think of a person who rarely sat out. Whether it was playing cards, dancing, shopping, driving to see fall colors, walking through a neighborhood to look at houses, or going on a vacation, mom mostly said yes.

In the winter of ‘97 John and I took a trip down to Waco, Texas to visit Mom and Dad who spent a large portion of their winters there. While visiting, Mom, John, and I took a day trip to Monterrey, Mexico. There, we walked and walked to see many sights. We were considering touring a cave, however, to get into the cave, one had to hop on board a cable tram on railroad tracks that took you hundreds of feet upward to the cave entrance.

We were quite sure this was not OSHA approved, but to our surprise, Mom had no hesitation. So, on the cable tram we all hopped, and up, up, and away we went. The cave was very fascinating, it might even have been the best cave any of us had ever entered. Getting back down to the ground was even more scary than going up, but Mom never complained and enjoyed the whole adventure.

P. S. The option of taking the train up to the cave no longer exists. They have now exchanged the train ride for a cable car….hmmmmmmmm???


Being the youngest, I was privileged to go on a few trips with mom and dad, one of which was to California to visit Ron and Louise and the other was to Pennsylvania to visit Deanna while she was traveling in Up With People. The memories of those trips were of mom jamming her thumb into the passenger window pointing at the road we had just passed, and explaining that “we should have gone that way,” in a not so calm way to dad. Dad answering in a calm and understanding way, as always…well, sometimes it got heated. Also, on these trips, mom would always pack piles of sandwiches so we would never spend any money at drive throughs.

My fondest memories of her were of how she stood by dad’s side during his last few years. I remember her taking a cotton swab and moistening dad’s lips. She gave everything for her husband, sometimes at the detriment of her own health.

I remember when she first met Jodie and I explained that she was not Catholic. I had so much anxiety about it, but mom’s reply was, “Well she’s Lutheran, it’s almost the same.” Mom was always so accepting.

I remember one time when I was sick mom told me to quickly run outside because I was going to throw up and she didn't want me to throw up in the house.

Of course, there is also the somewhat famous story of me dodging my spankings waiting for me at the top of the stairs. I followed my sisters up, and as they were receiving their punishments; I ran past mom to avoid my own.


When I think of Charlotte Jansen, I feel she is the best mother-in-law one can have. In all the years I have been in her presence not once do I recall her ever complaining about anything of significance. All the visits to the farm rarely did she ever sit down and do nothing. She was constantly running around, cleaning, cooking meals, grocery shopping, working, and most importantly getting food on the table each night. There were preparations of getting ready for someone getting married and of course, the reception was at the farm with plenty of food and kegs of beer.

One time when Shawn was a toddler and we were at the farm, he called her grandma in the kitchen and Char had to turn around and see who he was talking to. She then realized it was her as she now had someone calling her Grandma. Fast forward, how many grandkids call her Grandma now and great-grandkids. Too many to count and the Jansen clan keeps growing and growing. Another great grand-child to be added later this year.

One funny incident was when we sent Shawn and Jeremy on an airplane to spend a week or two on the farm. She had to chase Jeremy all over the store because he had opened a bag of M & M's that were dropping everywhere. That was the only time we sent them on a plane to the farm. Most of our trips were made in our 1978 Chevy Van which I am sure all of you remember.

Her trips to California were always fun and we had many adventures. From traveling to the redwoods, the ocean, San Francisco, and the wine country of Napa, Char was always up for the ride. The train trip with her sisters was a hoot. I remember a discussion the sisters had as to who was going to share a bed with Char as apparently, she snored. We had 4 ladies in our bedroom with two mattresses. Never heard any more complaints after that first night. Our day trips kept everyone busy and they were too exhausted at night so I am sure as soon as their heads hit the pillow they were out. Of course, a dip in the hot tub with a glass of wine I am sure helped at the end of the day.

I could keep on going but there are too many tales to tell. I just want to let Charlotte know that this is one daughter-in-law who thinks the world of her and has a lot of respect and admiration for having us be a part of the Jansen clan.


Reading Ron and Louise's Stories