Today marks our favorite quilting couple’s 40th wedding anniversary, and to celebrate this amazing milestone, we wanted to put together a list of the 40 things that the Doan family loves about their parents/grandparents. Only problem is, there are waaaaaaay more than 40 memories, life lessons and stories to share about this wonderful couple, and even with a little editing here and there, the list doubled to 80! Each and every one of these memories speak to their remarkable character and the light that they shine on the world around them.
Without further ado, here are the Top 80 Things To Love about Jenny and Ron from all seven of their children, children’s spouses and 21 of their 22 grandchildren (baby Porter doesn’t speak just yet, so he gets a pass this year!)
First up is Darrel, Jenny and Ron’s oldest son and his wife Stephanie and their two boys, Erik and Sean:
1. We love your passion for tradition, especially Swedish history, from Dola horses to Tomtes to Swedish pancakes…we love it all almost as much as we love you!
2. We love our sports car racing! Thank you for introducing such a fun sport at an early age. This lives on in our house as there isn’t an IndyCar, Formula 1, or IMSA race that we miss.
3. I love Grandma Jenny & Grandpa Ron because you always think of me every holiday” – Love Erik (and we mean EVERY holiday!
4. “You both remind me of Christmas, presents, and fun cards” – Love Sean
Next is Natalie.. She’s Jenny and Ron’s oldest daughter, and mother to Sam, Noah, Isaac, Hannah, and Jenna.
5. I love that my mom is joyful, she loves positivity, adventure and looks for the good in all situations.
6. My mom loves her family and has a strong testimony that she shares in everything that she does, and she is one of the hardest working women that I know.
7. I love that my dad is so patient and he loves us so much.
8. My dad is constantly serving others, and never wants any accolades for all that he does. He loves unconditionally and teaches by his example how we can be more Christlike.
Sam, Natalie’s oldest son, writes:
9. Grandma is thoughtful and kind to everyone she meets.
10. Grandpa really cares about other people. He puts the needs of others above his own, is always helping anyone who needs it, and is very smart and can figure out anything.
Next up is Noah, who writes:
11. I love that Grandma loves all her grandchildren so much, and I love how grandpa is always willing to help someone in need.
Then we have Isaac, who explains:
12. I love that they were so welcoming and kind to my wife, Aislinn and made her feel like family. I know that sounds generic, but it was so special for us.
Followed by Hannah, who notes:
13. Grandma is always happy. She’s always singing or whistling or doing something she loves. One of my favorite memories of Grandma is one time we were at a concert and I was in a large bathroom. I had waited in a long line with strangers. Grandma came in whistling and I instantly knew it was her. I was in a stall, and had no idea who it was, but I knew it was her. I said, “Grandma”? and she answered, “who knows me by my whistle”? It was sooo funny!
14. My favorite thing about Grandpa is how much he loves cars, and bikes. I love how much he loves working, doing things with his hands, and helping others. One of my favorite memories of him is the time he taught me how to ride the dirt bikes. He was teaching me, and I kept falling off but he still made it fun. He was patient and kind, and I had fun learning to ride from him.
And, last up from Natalie’s family is Jenna, who writes:
15. I love how much they always want to help others and give, how they set a good example to all of us grandchildren and how they treat everyone with compassion.
After Natalie comes Sarah, who is married to Seth. They are parents to Annie, Katie, Jared, Ella, and Jason.
16. My best memories are not only of the adventures we had but the feelings that go along with them. I can come up with tons of stories and things we all did together, but what sticks out the most to me, is the way I felt. Growing up, we felt loved. We knew we were safe. We didn’t have money for fancy things, but we felt good about what we did have. We felt good about working hard for what we wanted; earning things together for a big reward. We felt inspired to be better and do better. We felt sadness and talked about our feelings and dealt with emotions. We felt pride and we felt joy when we would dress up and go overboard for community festivals, decorating floats to be in a parade. We felt valued when our parents listened to our ideas and cared about our feelings. We felt cared about. Every day, Dad would get up and work long hours to support us, and we knew that he did it because he loved us. We felt smart. Mom taught us and gave us so many opportunities to learn and grow and was the real life Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. We were so blessed to grow up together in a house full of fun, laughter, and love.
17. Having a chilly good time with Ron crawling under the house at the Gould Farm roadhouse to fix frozen pipes and changing the transmission in their old Geo in the freezing cold.
18. Ron taught me how to ride a motorcycle and we continue to build and ride motorcycles together through the years.
19. Jenny singing loud (for all to hear!) and whistling. (She’s very musically-inclined you know!)
20. Jenny making apple pie filling, cherry jam, and peeling lots and lots of wallpaper (not at the same time, of course!)
Annie, the eldest of Sarah and Seth’s children, remembers:
21. Sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa’s and sleeping on their floor to be close to them.
22. Going on movie dates together.
23. Always getting cards for birthdays and different things and feeling so much love through little random gifts that are always super personal.
24. Sewing with Grandma: helping her pick out fabric from her giant fabric closet, ironing for her, and looking through her giant button jar.
25. Hanging out with Grandpa as he worked outside on different things and the one time we were in the car together and that “I knew you were trouble” Taylor Swift song came on and Grandpa did the goat scream like the meme that was popular then and it was so unexpected and so so funny!
26. I remember driving to Florida to go on my first teaching adventure with them and going to Medieval Times and getting to Florida and driving back with Grandpa and just talking and laughing together.
Jared, Sarah and Seth’s eldest son, reflects on his favorite memories with his grandparents:
27. Watching the Kansas City Chiefs football games, riding motorcycles, going camping, and making homemade ice cream.
Katie, Sarah and Seth’s second eldest daughter, remembers:
28. I remember dancing and singing with Grandma and baking cookies, oatmeal cake, and making ice cream with Grandpa!
29. I remember when Grandma and Grandpa took me and Hannah to Arkansas, and I’m pretty sure I annoyed the heck out of them. 😂
30. I remember Grandma teaching me how to sew buttons and how to cut fabric. She taught me how to bind a quilt and how to properly sew on a machine and by hand.
31. I remember sanding and painting the blue desk for my room with Grandpa in the garage of the Main Shop.
Ella, next in line in Sarah and Seth’s household, writes that she:
32. Loves their hugs.
33. Remembers making her first quilt with Grandma (the elephant one!)
34. Always enjoys Grandpa’s eclairs, cookies, oatmeal cake, and homemade ice cream.
Jason, the baby of the family, explains that he:
35. Loves going to Kansas City Chiefs games, riding motorcycles, surprise visits, and enjoying eclairs with his grandpa.
36. Enjoys his grandma’s Christmas Eve parties, singing songs, and camping in her glamper.
Hillary is Jenny and Ron’s youngest daughter. She’s married to Alex, and together they have five children: Allyson, Livvy, Alayna, Phoebe, and Jack.
37. I love that adventure is in their blood and they’ve shared that love of discovery and freedom and fearlessness with us as much as they could.
38. I love that they still are willing to help me with the things I never could figure out like cars and fear of failure.
39. I loved growing up in a place where love was the standard and arguments disappeared with a song and laughter.
40. I loved coming down the stairs for church as a teenager and Dad telling me I looked beautiful. He lifted my whole heart every time.
41. I like how comfortable I feel in their home and how they spend quality time with us every chance they get.
Allyson, Hillary and Alex’s eldest daughter, writes:
42. They’re so funny! They always goof off together and are one of the best examples of “best friends for life” that I’ve ever seen. They are so loving to others. They really know how to take care of other people.
43. Both of them can do ANYTHING! When they put their minds to it, they accomplish the impossible (we’ve all seen the proof).
Livvy, Hillary and Alex’s second-oldest daughter, explains:
44. I like eating Grandpa’s pancakes on Grandma’s cat plates.
45. I like that they take care of stray cats and that they have a ton of quilts!
Alayna, next in line in Hillary and Alex’s family, writes:
46. I love that Grandma and Grandpa can keep me smiling all the time when I’m near them and how kind and caring they are.
47. I love that Grandma and Grandpa are so giving, and how they walk around the house singing. It makes me happy
Phoebe, the youngest daughter of Hillary and Alex, writes:
48. I like that they have cute things in their house. They make me happy.
49. I like that Grandma sings and whistles around the house, and how they can find places to hang so many quilts!
Jack, the baby of Hillary and Alex’s family, explains:
50. I like that I get to talk to Grandma and Grandpa about my Pokemon (and they actually listen!).
51. I like Grandma and Grandpa’s gifts, and that Grandpa gave me the coolest pinewood derby car.
Al is up next, and is the eldest of Jenny and Ron’s younger sons. He is married to Drea, and they are parents to the youngest grandchild at the moment, Porter, and they also have a pair of twins on the way!
52. Some of my favorite memories growing up are of Mom reading mystery novels to us kids while we lay on the couch and floor around her. She was the queen of cliffhangers, but often she’d get as into the story as much we would be, and she would sit and read to us for hours. I loved that.
53. I loved how on long drives, we’d listen to books on tape. Dad didn’t love to read books as much, but he definitely loved a good story and on those drives, we all got to bask in great storytelling and how exciting it would be.
54. I remember Mom taking us to people’s houses who I didn’t know, but we’d eventually become their friends. We would volunteer at the library, help at the food pantry, and deliver bread to those in need. She made service fun and a big part of who we were, and who we are today.
55. Dad was amazing ‘cause he’d jump right into our antics. We’d be playing basketball when he made it home from work at 6 p.m. (after starting work at 4 a.m.), and he’d pull in the drive and just come right out and start playing with us. I didn’t realize how amazing that was until becoming a father myself, and now I understand the desire to just sit down after that long day and he never would. He’d come home to be the judge in our kangaroo court, join a water fight, or help remodel the bathroom.
56. I also remember begging Dad to wake us up before he’d leave for work (at 4 a.m.) so we could say goodbye and give him a kiss, and sometimes he would, and we loved it. Other times, he said he felt too bad and just had to let us sleep.
57. I remember saving for weeks to buy a baseball card kit from those book sale flyers they send home from school, and I didn’t have enough and Dad woke me up before he left for work the morning it was due and gave me the $14 I needed for it, and just how amazing that was to me. I used the money for show and tell, I don’t know that I’d ever held a $10 bill at that point and I was so thrilled.
Following Al is Jake, who is married to Misty, and together they have three children: Gideon, Ashelyn, and Ezra.
58. Their work ethic, kindness, compassion, and dedication to charitable endeavors are amazing. I’ve learned so much from them.
59. I love Mom’s love of gardening that she passed on to me.
60. I loved summer camping trips. Mom packed the best food, and Dad would always play catch with us.
61. They taught us that we could do hard things. We hiked the Pinnacles when I was like five—THE PINNACLES. That’s a serious hike and we did it together.
62. They taught us that nothing was impossible. Even though we didn’t have much money growing up, our dreams were always within reach!
63. I love the way that they always hold hands, how they love to sit next to each other, and how they are the most reliable, kind, and helpful people.
64. They are an incredible example of true love—always looking out for each other, doing something kind for each other, and always doing things together.
65. I love that they love to dress up in costumes!
66. I love the way Ron looks at Jenny—like she hung the moon!
67. Family is EVERYTHING to them and they made me feel like part of the family from the first time I came over to the house at 16 years old. I always wanted to be around them.
68. Do you need a hand with something? You can always call Ron.
69. There aren’t better in-laws on the planet. They’re the best.
Gideon, Misty and Jake’s eldest son, writes:
70. They are always there to help and they will always love and respect you.
71. They also will give you yummy treats that aren’t quite as sweet as they are.
Ashelyn, Misty and Jake’s daughter, explains:
72. I loved it when Grandpa surprised me with a pink motorcycle.
73. I loved that day when I got to sew with Grandma.
74. I also had a great time playing that game called Qwirkle with them. It’s so fun!
Ezra, the baby of Jake and Misty’s family, writes:
Grandma and Grandpa are so kind and helpful. I love them!
We’ve made it to Josh, Jenny and Ron’s baby boy! He reflects on his favorite memories:
76. I remember sewing together with Mom and all those times at 2-3 a.m. talking with her while she was sewing.
77. Riding motocross with Dad. We had both just finished our races and were so tired, but so happy that we got to share that moment getting to race together. Dad can still get down and ride with the best of us!
78. Acting with mom in local plays really helped me gain a love of theatre.
79. Playing pranks with Mom. Sometimes these can get brutal. Haha!
And last, but certainly not least, Talon, Josh’s son, writes:
80. I love making pillowcases with Grandma every year.
This list could go on and on, and rightfully so. Jenny and Ron are two of the very best people we know! Please join us in wishing them both a very happy 40th wedding anniversary! If you have a memory of this remarkable couple, please feel free to share it with us in the comments below.