Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Virginia Joy

There's no place like home except Grandma's.  ~Author Unknown

The weekend of August 17th was a special one...our whole family threw a surprise party for my Grandma's 80th birthday. I wish I could find the words to describe how incredible my Grandma... Virginia Joy... is. Growing up she was "Grandma Far Far Away" because she lived in Michigan and as a child living in a world before portable DVD players, the 8 1/2 hour drive felt like days. But once we got there, the time it took seemed to disappear.  I remember getting there late at night...we'd pull in the driveway and the porch light would be on. I don't know whether it was his keys or loose change, but as we'd slowly make our way to the front door I could always hear Grandpa coming before we could knock or ring the doorbell. I miss him. Grandma of course was right behind him, jammies and all with the warmest smile and biggest hug you can imagine.

I loved their home. Everything smelled older, worn but safe; the food aroma had baked itself into the furniture.  ~Susan Strasberg

Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete.  ~Marcy DeMaree

Last weekend we had a surprise party for my Grandma. Her birthday isn't until December but we wanted everyone to be there and for it to be a surprise so we came up with August 18th. When I looked around at my amazing family, I swelled up with pride and love and an overhwhelming gratefulness for these people God blessed us all with. My Grandpa would have been proud. I am amazed at the family him and my Grandmother made. There is so much love there.

3 Children (4 if you include my Uncle Ray who was surely in attendance from above), 11 Grandchildren and 11 Great Grandchildren....all of us were there. Not to mention the spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, Grandmas nieces, nephew, great niece and great nephew, sister and brother in law!!! From California, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and all over Michigan. How incredible is that? Nick couldn't get work off so wasn't able to come...heartbreaking and even more so as the day went on realizing what he was missing. I got home and showed him all the pictures and videos and we already made plans to get there in the very near future. 
Our Family :)
Grandma thought she was going to my Uncles house for a cookout...when she arrived it was anything but just that. Here is the moment and moments leading up to her surprise... (excuse the video...it felt like hours until she came down even though it was just 5 minutes or so...it's worth it to see her face. I was sobbing so I tried to hold it as still as possible).

Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap.  ~Doug Larson
My Aunt Sue and Uncle Mike hosted the party at their home and I couldn't believe all that they had done. Aside from the fact that they have a beautiful and amazing home, there were balloons everywhere, an abundance of food, music from when my Grandma grew up, a popcorn machine, bags and boards, a wall of photos of my Grandma growing up and her family, and a wall called "When you were our age" with each of us on there with fun facts about the world when Grandma was each of our ages. The photos don't even begin to do it justice.

                         THE PARTY
Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.  ~Alex Haley

It was such an amazing (have I said that enough yet?) day with all the cousins and Aunts and Uncles....all you needed to do was take a look around at how loved my Grandma is. We also made her wear a tiara:) Warning: PICTURE OVERLOAD:

This was my CJ all day...the big kid...seriously....he's great.

The cousins kids....plus CJ on the right:)

I love this girl...Kylinn...showing off her skills

Heather June with her Aunt June


Cousins Savannah and Evan

Heather and I practicing our yoga..."The Crow"

Beautiful sisters...Heather and Kelli
CJ in the bouncy machine with all the kiddos...

and again...

How precious are these girls?

boy time!

My amazing family

Not my best...but Jimmer looks too cute in this pic:)

Giving Kisses

Cake Time for G-MA

80 (in December) years young!

We love you Grandma!

His faces kill me...
I still can't get over those dark eyes

Future Baller???

Grandma, Heather and Kelli

The best one I had of Ashley, Brayden and Gma...all the kids LOVE Grandmas chair!

:) Wish Nick was with us....but love this pic just the same...Jimmer LOVES Grandmas scooter!

We attempted several of these and these are the best 2.....


"Aunt Nancy" ... she's the coolest!

Again...this girl is too cool...she built this amazing fort/popcorn/baloon/contraption and was serving frosted popcorn...immediately my bestie

My Mom and her siblings and in laws:)

Jimmer loved Savannah...he kept trying to give her kisses!

He loves his MiMi

I have a ZILLION Uncle Hugh Memories...his laugh is infectious....and he told me 100 times he was going to keep Jimmer:) He's the best!

It's no secret I have a tight knit and amazing family...this group of hoolagins are some of my most favorite people in the world. I have so many memories from growing up with them.

All the gal cousins minus Becky and Ashley...as you can see Ashley was a little tied up with Braydenon the stairs:)

Aunt Junes Girls, Uncle Rays Girls, and Uncle Don and Aunt Barbs duo

....added Adam...2nd of 4 boys to Uncle Mike and Aunt Sue

 We decided to get in the childrens bouncy thing...bad idea. I'm pretty sure someone broke my toe...not to mention the unexplained bruise on my right leg . At one point something smelled terribly (pretty sure you can which picture that came about)..and we were over the weight capacity so there was no bouncing whatsoever...just sunk to the ground.

...moment of the "broken toe"

"EWWWW what's that smell?"

All the Vanover cousins minus Becky who had already left (I will have to insert her face)

There are so many things wrong with this picture....let's just leave it at that...Awkward family photos?!?

Ok so 20ish some years ago there was a photo taken of us girls on Grandma and Grandpas couch (a much larger couch might I add). So anyway, we thought it would be cool to recreate this photo on Grandmas current couch. So...here is the before and after. I think we did pretty good. Ashleys apple is the size of Mount Rushmore and we don't have matching PJ's, but other than that it ain't half bad.

I love these beautiful girls :)

One of the coolest moments was when my Grandma opened her gift from my cousin Kelli. Kellis has such a knack for making the perfect gift. She made Nick and I the coolest wedding gift that hangs in our room so I knew this one would be amazing. This gift was a family tree...the top had a photo of my Grandparents, below them their 4 children, followed by their 11 Grandchildren, and finally the 11 great grandchildren. Grandma was beside herself. She kept reaching out and touching the picture of Grandpa and my Uncle Ray who live with Jesus now. It was so cool to see all of us there together on this tree...and at the top of that tree my Grandparents.
Just after opening her gift (Kelli, who put it together, is behind her)

The Family Tree

Here it is all set up at my Grandmas house

Grandma, I know you follow and read my blog. I know I don't call nearly enough, and I cannot see you as often as I'd like...but you are so important and special to me. I have so many memories of you and Grandpa and your "far far away" house. I learned how to do a back walkover in your living room...I drank hundreds of malts that Grandpa whipped up in his khaki pants and white tank tops...Heather, Kelli, Ashley and I stayed up way too late laying at the end of the pull out bed watching the TV through the kitchen into the living room when we were supposed to be sleeping...you always had the best movies to watch....your kitchen always smelled of some marvelous meal...roadtrips with you and Grandpa were ALWAYS an adventure "DAVID!! DAVID!!"... I find myself repeating your famous sayings in my every day life more than I care to admit "Pretty is...is pretty does"..."She's got pimples on her BUT she's pretty"...I remember you and Grandpa teaching me about Jesus...and I always did and always do feel so loved when I am with you. I have an amazing Mother that I should thank you for too...and one who named me after you...Amanda Joy:)

Happy 80th Birthday Grandma "Far Far Away"...Virginia Joy...I can't wait to come see you again:)

We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence, Grandmother was that person to me.  ~Phyllis Theroux


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