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  • Valerie Just

Celebrating a Birthday, and Family Commitment

One of my son's birthday is this upcoming week, but with the CDC guidelines squelching our ability to gather socially, and moreover a desire to be healthy, celebrating as we normally do as a family is not an option.

So, I decided to plug in my Cricut machine, and make a couple of lawn signs for JP - picture below. We also baked some chocolate chip cookies, gave my grand kids a recommended Lego set that could occupy some time , as well as provide child development skills, such as following directions, reading and strategic thinking, and gave JP our standard birthday gift these days - cold, hard cash in a card!! The Lego set could be considered a gift for both JP and Ziwei - maybe, just maybe, a little down time for Mom and Dad!

Today is also a celebration of my son, JP, and his spouse, Ziwei. JP has a PhD in agricultural engineering; Ziwei has a Masters Degree in Chemistry, and pushed on to acquire her license as a Physician's Assistant from the University of Iowa medical program. While my kids can tout many academic achievements, I believe their greatest achievement is a passion for family. My son and daughter-in-law are phenomenal parents. My grandchildren are self-disciplined, have enough moxie to carry them through a lifetime of challenges, treat each other with love and kindness, and are loving and generous to everyone they associate with.

Helping children become people of character, with a quest of learning, does not happen without fortitude, discipline and dedication to a common goal established between two adults willing to take on the challenge. And it takes work - a lot of work - and the work is typically when Mom and Dad have already given a full day's work to their employer for the day, and they would love none better than to have some personal down-time.

JP and Ziwei have been diligent in introducing a variety of cultures and global experiences to my grandchildren - every Friday night, prior to the onset of COVID-19 concerns, Ziwei and JP cooked dinner for a multitude of people from their church. The city of Ames is home to Iowa State University, and the church that my kids attend serves a throng of various races and nationalities. Pictures around the Just kitchen table demonstrate that my grandchildren are being introduced to a vast world of global culture and diversity; an experience that will lead these children to a lifetime of acceptance of all types of people.

Ziwei has spent endless hours helping her children learn not only how to speak Chinese, but to also how to write the Chinese language. I believe her greatest motivation was to ensure that her children could communicate with her parents; a selfless, generous act that again took a bounty of effort to accomplish.

JP has spent countless hours helping both of my grandchildren to have advanced reading and math skills for their age. He also started teaching them computer programming about 3-4 months ago. I believe JP's greatest motivation is to open up a world of endless opportunities for his children; reading, math and computer skills can be applied across a myriad of occupations. These skills lay the foundation for future successes in whatever his children want to achieve.

As you can tell, I am very proud of my children, and the difference they make in their community, as well as their basic gracious generosity. I am blessed to be associated with this family, and attribute their triumphs to a collaborative effort in achieving common objectives for their children. They are modeling enduring parenting skills for generations to come - which is the greatest gift of all.

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