Monday, June 23, 2014

The Greatest Man I've Ever Known

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One June 12 my grandfather passed away. I know that death is a natural part of life, but it is still completely blindsiding when it happens, even when it's your own grandparent who has lived a long, full and successful life. My grandpa was more like a father to me and I had the opportunity to write and deliver his eulogy for his funeral service. I was scared out of my mind, but my grandpa is somebody who is worth going outside my comfort zone for in his honor. Today I'm going to share the eulogy I wrote. Maybe his life will touch yours even if you never had the chance to meet him.


Daniel Van Dyke is my grandfather and he was the greatest man I have ever known.

Born on December 13, 1933 in Bloomington, Indiana, Dan was one of six kids. When he was around 12 years old, Dan and his family moved to California where his story really begins.

Dan was always very interested in transportation. He either wanted to be a truck driver, an airplane pilot or a train conductor. Although, now come to think of it, I don’t know if it was that he was interested in transportation or if he just always loved to be in the driver’s seat. When he was 16 years old, Dan got his first truck job for Dorothy and Harry Shubin. 

During the summer of 1951 when Dan was 17 years old, he noticed a cute girl named Ginny working in the office at The Shubin’s trucking company during her summer break. She was only 13 years old, so naturally he didn’t pursue her. But the next summer when she returned to work he couldn’t believe his eyes. The question my grandpa asked every single time he told this story was, “Have you ever seen a flower blossom?” That was how he described the way my grandma transformed in that year. I must have heard him tell that story more than a dozen times and he always used the same words but lit up brighter with each re-telling. Their first date was at The Pike in Long Beach where they took a photo booth picture that Dan kept in his wallet and never removed in the 63 years of their relationship. It’s still in his wallet in his back pocket right now.

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Daniel and Virginia Van Dyke were married on November 29, 1952 and renewed their vows in the Catholic Church 17 years later. Ginny was only 14 years old so Dan had to convince her mother to let him marry her. This was just one example of the many times Dan had to use his skills of persuasion and negotiation to get what he wanted. While he would use these skills for the rest of his life in business, I know this was the most important time that he got the deal that he wanted.

Dan and Ginny lived in Long Beach, California when they began their marriage. Dan continued to work in the trucking industry and owned his own truck at 17. From 1954-1960 Dan and Ginny had five children: Robert, Danny, Gene, Lori, and Susie. Danny is buried here at the cemetary. 

Trucking was a much more difficult experience in Dan’s day, and he even ventured away from the trucking industry a little bit, owning a bar from 1962-1968 and later moving to Parker, Arizona to get into the boating business.  But he always came back to trucking. In 1976, Dan started Doss Transportation Inc with his partner Bob Ross; you might recognize the company as DTI today. 
Over the course of Dan’s career it was always important that he work for himself. He never punched a time card but I guarantee he always put in more than an eight-hour day. His work ethic and loyalty in business was second to none. He was a real “handshake guy” and a true people person. Throughout his career, whenever one business opportunity didn’t work out, if he couldn’t negotiate his way through it, Dan picked up the pieces, utilized what he learned and moved on to his next adventure. 

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In 1985, Dan “semi-retired”. This was a phrase that would follow him for the rest of his life because Dan really never stopped working. During his “semi-retirement”, Dan purchased his own truck and hauled sand and gravel until 1989 when he got into business with his eldest son, Bobby. Together they formed Van Dyke Transportation, a full blown family business where you’d always find someone from the Van Dyke clan driving, wrenching or answering the phones.

In 1992, Dan was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had radiation treatment 3 times a week for a total of 36 treatments. After the cancer went into remission, Dan’s doctors continued to check for regrowth every year. They told him the radiation would give him 8-10 years, but that was 22 years ago.

Throughout all the trials of his health, Dan continued to run Van Dyke Transportation with Bobby until 2004 and even opened E-Z Weigh Truck Scale with Jim Ermigarat in the late 1990s. When it came time to “retire” again, Dan and Ginny sold part of Van Dyke Transportation to Bobby to run as R. Van Dyke Transportation in Whittier. The other part of their company became an associate of Trimac Transportation and is now owned by Marty Gevorkian as GVD Transportation in Downey. Dan was the ultimate entrepreneur. Even after he “retired” again, he continued to come up with new ideas for himself and others because his brain and his work ethic never slowed down. 

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While most of Dan’s time was spent with family or in trucking, there was one hobby we will never stop associating with him: golf. It’s very clear to see that Dan’s life revolved around three things: family, trucks, and golf – in that order. My grandma said that golf would come after family if he didn’t have to make a living trucking. In the 40 years that Dan played golf he made 17 hole-in-ones and his best handicap was a 12, but I think he wanted me to round down to 2. Once he even won a $5 bet with golf great Fuzzy Zeller.

This seems like a good time to apologize to Dan’s Heartwell Men’s Club for arranging his funeral on a Saturday golf day. While we all like to say he’s here with us in spirit today, I think you gentlemen can agree with me when I say he actually just finished the 18th hole and will be joining us at the 19th after service, if you know what I mean.

Dan’s love for golf was more than a hobby; as with everything in his life, it was about relationships. Some of his best friendships were built on the golf course and some of the relationships he already had were strengthened there, too. When his grandson Kennith was 12, Dan began taking him out on the golf course. Together they continued to play golf until just recently, and Dan even got Kennith into the Men’s Club a year before he turned 18 despite protests from other players that the Club wasn’t a day care. Dan proved that the apples in his family don’t fall far from the tree as Kennith went on to graduate from the San Diego Golf Academy and now gives private golf instruction (we’ll have his business card available in the back later).

As you can see, over the course of Dan’s life he never stopped working and it was always for his family. What we haven’t had time to include in this eulogy are all the little things Dan did to help everyone he loved: all the businesses he advised, all the drivers licenses he trained us for and the cars he helped us buy, all the extra roommates he had because his door was always open, all the dollars for the arcade games and the dollars hidden in coloring books. There wasn’t a day in Dan’s life that he didn’t do something for someone else. And if there was, I guarantee he was *thinking* about what he could do to help solve somebody else’s problem. He loved to get involved, he loved to help and he loved a challenge.   

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Even beyond helping people, I’ll never forget how he forgave. He helped everyone who needed it, even the people who weren’t as generous as he was. Sometimes I used to wonder why he wasted time on people who weren’t so deserving of his extra time. Reflecting on his life I see that Dan Van Dyke was a man that took advantage of all the opportunities he could find and I’d like to say that he was just giving other people the second chances that he had found for himself. 

Throughout it all, family was the lifeblood that coursed through Daniel Van Dyke’s life and it all started with a very special love that bloomed in 1952. I’ll never forget the way he loved my grandma and I hope you’ll all surround her with your love during this time because there’s nobody that loves him here like her. I also ask that you spend today sharing all of your individual stories about Dan so that we can all celebrate every facet of his memory. While we know he’s already negotiating with God how to run things in Heaven, together we can continue the legacy he began and keep him alive on Earth for many generations to come.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Paleyfest 2014: The Vampire Diaries Panel

After we got to hear the cast of The Originals talk about that show, the main cast of The Vampire Diaries came out and talked about their show. It was great to see how much chemistry all three actors have in real life, which is obvious as it translates to the screen. It's no wonder this show is so popular with some crazy dedicated fans!

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Do you watch The Vampire Diaries? Are you Team Damon or Team Stefan? 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Paleyfest 2014: The Originals Panel

It's my favorite time of year: Paleyfest season! Paleyfest is a two-week long festival that celebrates television and I look forward to which shows are going to be featured each year. In the past I've been so such panels as FlashForward, Glee, Mad Men, and Modern Family, listening to cast, writers and producers talk about each respective show. This year I'm going to two panels: The Vampire Diaries/The Originals joint panel and The Mindy Project (tomorrow!).

The main reason I wanted to go to the TVD/Originals panel is because one of my online friends who lives in China is obsessed with TVD (she actually got me into watching the show). And while I'm not obsessed with either show (like the 2600 other screaming girls there are), I appreciate them (well, KLAUS) enough to venture to Hollywood in hopes of getting some autographs for my friend, Annie. And, I mean having to sit through a few hours of Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gilles, Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley is never anything to miss!

Today I'm going to feature some of my favorite photos from The Originals panel, which was my favorite. I adore Joseph Morgan and how he can make an evil character so endearing and attractive lol. I love the dynamic of the Michaelson siblings and seeing them in person was very fun!

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A fan got to rub Daniel Gilles' ("Eljah") head. Which only led every other fan to ask to come to the stage. #annoying. At least he was a good sport! And I love Claire's face!

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I love their chemistry!

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The serious and brooding Michaelsons we all know and love...

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Jeez, "Hayley", don't give me the evil eye lol.

I enjoyed seeing how much off-screen chemistry Charles Michael Davis ("Marcel") and Leah Pipes ("Cami") have! They were super cute and silly.

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I think my favorite part of the panel was when Phoebe Tonkin ("Hayley") was asked to play Kiss-Marry-Kill for the men her character is romantically involved with. She said Kill Klaus, Marry Elijah and Kiss Jackson because he's so cute. Daniel Gilles ("Elijah") turned his chair away from her from the insult. ;)

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Have you ever gone to Paleyfest? Which tv show would you like to see a panel for?

Tomorrow I'll post about The Vampire Diaries Paleyfest panel!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

With a Grateful Heart

I'm grateful that this week my best friend (aka sister-from-another-[equally-douchey]-mister) gave birth to a beautiful, animated, healthy baby girl and I was able to be at the hospital when she came screaming into this crazy world.

I'm grateful that said best friend will tell me how birthing a child really is instead of, "Oh, it's not a big deal..." (you are passing an ideally 6 to 10lb human. It's a big freaking deal and I know it's painful, don't lie to me!).

I'm grateful for a job that I don't love because it's a solid job with solid people and a lot of flexibility.

I'm grateful that said job allowed for me to be at the hospital for said best friend's birthing, no matter when it occurred (ironically I still made it into work on Tuesday morning only 15 minutes late on 20 minutes of sleep from the waiting room. I'm grateful my job allowed for me go home at noon that day!).

I'm grateful that my mom went to the hospital with me in the middle of the night to wait for that beautiful baby girl. Even though we waited for a long-ass time. I'm grateful Mom didn't complain once, even though we were operating on 20-40 minutes of sleep on tiny chairs.

I'm grateful that my mom attempted to make me macarons last week because she knows they are my favorite, that I travel all over to find the best ones, that they're not cheap at bakeries, and that she thought they were as easy to whip up as chocolate chip cookies. They are not. (But Susie's Wackaroons were born).

I'm grateful for Tyler in so many ways, but namely this week that he came to the hospital, too. Both the day before and the day the baby was born. He's a great uncle already.

I'm grateful that I didn't fall asleep driving from the hospital to work during the most peak morning rush hour traffic, driving right through the heart of Los Angeles from top to bottom.

I'm grateful that there's still time before I have any babies. Ideally, a lot of time. That shit is crazy.

I'm grateful that the Catching Fire movie was so satisfying.

I'm grateful that I don't have a huge urge to Black Friday shop this year because I should be saving money anyway.

That said, I'm grateful that Target has a Nook on sale because I'm going to add to my e-reader collection.

I'm grateful that I'm not stressing as bad about planning a wedding or setting a date as I was a month ago.

I'm grateful that I kicked my Diet Coke addiction. 

I'm grateful for coffee, especially now that I've kicked my Diet Coke addiction.

I'm grateful for books.

I'm grateful for my newfound love of audiobooks. 

I'm grateful that I've found a creative outlet that involves reading through my book review blog.

I'm grateful that even though I haven't posted in far too long, you cared enough to read this far.

I'm grateful for my friends: old friends, new friends, blog friends, Instagram friends, online friends and everyone in between. 

I'm grateful for family.

I'm grateful for my car because it allows me to up and go when I need to get away.

I'm grateful that this weekend, said car is going to take me to a member of said family who lives out of state. That family member is cousin Wendy and if you've read this blog much, you know how excited I must be to spend a weekend with her.

I'm grateful that Wendy and I get a WHOLE WEEKEND together. Talking and fiber crafting and learning from each other and praying I don't get allergies from her cats and exploring the desert. I'm so jazzed, cats and all!

I'm grateful for Carson Daly and Perez Hilton's banter on the radio every morning as I drive to work. 

I'm grateful that Tyler has Christmas Eve off, even if he doesn't have many other holidays off. It's something and it's a big something.

I'm grateful that Homeland isn't sucking this season.

I'm grateful for my nieces and nephews and that nieces is now plural thanks to the baby mentioned at the beginning of this post.

I'm grateful for how long this list is because honestly, I haven't even scratched the surface.

I'm really grateful for too many things to count and I don't forget them, even though sometimes I get cranky. I hope you have an equally infinite number of things for which to be grateful this holiday season.

I'm sincerely grateful that you're reading this and hope you'll let me know what you're grateful for so I can celebrate your blessings with you! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Will you be my Groomsman?

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It's a total girly, Pinterest-y thing to ask your bridesmaids to be a part of your wedding. It's emotional, it's mushy, and if you're lucky, you might even get some happy tears out of the experience of formally asking your girls. Same goes with asking kids to be a part of your wedding: the cheesier the better and more memorable. But what about the guys?

I've mentioned before that planning on asking people to be in your wedding has been more fun to me than actually planning the wedding (can you say, "STRESS"?), so of course I wanted to make something for Tyler to ask his groomsmen. Because he hasn't decided on a final four yet, he hasn't asked any of his friends, so hopefully they won't read this post, but today I'm going to share what I made!

Inspired by this, I dabbled in Photoshop to make these cards which I attached to DVD copies of The Hangover. Sure, everyone owns The Hangover, but it's the thought that counts and I bought all of these last Black Friday for like $3 each. Very simple, very cute, but not too cute! ;)

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I asked Tyler if they were too much, he said they were right on the cusp but as long as he could tell his guys that I made them, they were acceptable. HAHA! Note: I did NOT tie the ribbon in a bow!

Even though boys probably don't have to deal with nearly as much in a wedding, it's still nice to let them know that the groom cares that they said yes. Afterall, tux rentals aren't cheap and they still have to show up on the wedding day! ;) I think this is a cute tongue-in-cheek way to be silly and memorable when asking groomsmen to be in your wedding!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Will You Be My Flower Girl? Making Your Wedding Memorable for Kids!

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Being a flower girl is like a rite of passage. I remember being the flower girl for my mom's friend's wedding when I was six and getting the pretty dress, getting my hair done with the grown ups, and having an important job. My niece is five so she's old enough to remember this (heck, she remembers the strangest things from 3 years ago...). I wanted to make it extra special for her!!

Meet Berkeley, the flower girl! Berkeley is one of the smartest kids I know- she's book-smart, she's common-sense smart, she's street-smart. She's also the cutest little girl I know, although I'm sure I'm pretty biased. Berkeley is the girl who made me an auntie so there's nobody like her in my life and so there's nobody to fill the role of flower girl quite like her. I have a feeling that Berkeley will lead the way for me down the aisle in a big way!

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After we asked Broxton to be the ring bearer, we waited for Berkeley to get home from school. When she did, I told her that Tyler asked me to marry him (which was especially funny because Berkeley only recently learned that he's my boyfriend. Apparently she thought he was my brother for about 2 years HA!). So we all sat around and brainstormed what we needed for a wedding. Berkeley said cupcakes. Yep. Berkeley said people. Yep. I told her that one of those people was her mommy, that I had just asked her mom to be a bridesmaid. Then I told her that we just asked Broxton to be our ring bearer. Then she got it and screamed, "FLOWER GIRL! YOU NEED A FLOWER GIRL!" I pulled out her book (with Ariel on the wrapping, of course) and asked her if she would be our flower girl. When she jumped up and down saying yes we also gave her a bouquet of flowers. I think that made her feel extra special!

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Me and Tyler with our flower girl and ring bearer! I'm so happy that we got to make it special!
Later in the day Berkeley asked me more about what her mom would be doing in the wedding. I told her that bridesmaids are the bride's best girls in life, that they stand by her and help her with everything to make her wedding day great. Berkeley looked a little hurt and said, "Well, why can't I be a bridesmaid then?" haha! Soooo cute! I told her that bridesmaids were for grown up girls and that the flower girl is also my best girl, just smaller. I think she was satisfied!

Oh, and be still my heart --- Tyler reading Berkeley and Broxton their books about being in the wedding. Best uncle everrrr!!!!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Will You Be My Ring Bearer? Making Weddings Fun for Kids!

Asking Your Ring Bearer // at daniellesque

One of my favorite things to envision on my wedding day is my niece and nephew as the flower girl and ring bearer. I see pictures on Pinterest line this one and this one and I get teary eyed picturing those kids all dressed up and helping to make Tyler and my big day perfect. I want this to be an experience that they remember and that they are excited for, too!

I found these books online and then picked them up at my local Barnes and Noble. They are really cute stories of a ring bearer and a flower girl in the same wedding and they break down their roles and how important they are to the wedding. I wanted to ask my ring bearer and flower girl to be a part of my wedding as formally as I did my bridesmaids; this book offered not only a great keepsake for them, but it was also a present they would get to open!

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Meet Broxton, my 3-year old nephew and ring bearer! Broxton loves Batman, baseball and is always ready for fun. Beneath his rowdy-boy exterior, he's a sweetie with a heart of gold who gives the best hugs. As you can see below, he's not afraid of dirt (why are boys dirt magnets?!). The most common thing he asks me is, "Where's Tyler?" I think he's the perfect ring bearer for the job, no?
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After we surprised Broxton's momma by asking her to be a bridesmaid, we told Broxton that weddings need a ring bearer and we explained to him what their role is. We asked him if he knew of any little boys who might be good at that job. He volunteered excitedly and we gave him his present, which he opened right away in the garage, and of course a ring pop! ;)

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I am soooo excited for this little guy to be in our wedding!! And I hope he remembers the excitement of being asked and that it's always a fun and important memory for him!

I melt over these two: 
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P.S. To be fair, Broxton has a little brother, Brayden. I didn't "ask" Brayden to be in the wedding because he's only 1, but I left that up to his parents. If they want him to be a ring bearer in the wedding, Auntie D welcomes him just as much!

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I mean, my nephews are dolls, right?!
Did you or do you plan on having a ring bearer in your wedding?