World Traveler

Monica had the privilege of traveling to England to visit her Aunt Terry. She was great company for her mother and a wonderful guest.  She took photos of every new experience but that is too many to include here! We will share just an overview of the delightful adventure.

We drove across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and noticed lots of wind turbines along the highway. We checked in at the Toronto airport. We charged our phones and enjoyed the iPads for travelers. The flight to London was smooth. Monica brought knitting, books, workbooks and her iPad. She was too busy to sleep, but when she got on the train out of Gatwick airport she gave in to a few winks.

We changed trains at St. Pancras/Kings Cross. We bought postcards and stamps there.

Monica’s Uncle David picked us up at the Scarborough train station in a car with the steering wheel on the right side and drove on the left side of the road!

Monica loved relaxing and sharing a cup of tea with her family there, but still did her best to help out with emptying and loading the dishwasher and setting the table.IMG_2922

Since we were there for Mardi Gras, Uncle David took us to the Scarborough events for Pancake Day. The Pancake Races had teams from different organizations running obstacle courses while flipping pancakes in crazy costumes. Then we walked to the sea to see Skipping day in which the children remember skipping with the old fishing ropes when the fisherman replaced them with new.


For the first Friday of Lent, Uncle David brought in Fish and Chips and Mushy Peas!20160212_182232

Monica’s cousins arrived on the weekend and we celebrated a birthday together.

Monica was the one who knew how to set the timer on the phone to take a group photo!

On a very windy day, we drove around Scarborough castle and saw the north beach.IMG_2983

After a week of really getting to know her aunt and uncle, we had to leave. 20160215_131319We took the train back to London and Monica’s cousin’s girlfriend met us for a walking tour of Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, a view of a guard and the entrance to Buckingham Palace, then a stop at the Treasury where her cousin works, a peek at Big Ben and the Eye.

Then supper and good night’s sleep before the Uber taxi took us to the train back to Gatwick.


It was a very long flight with an unplanned fuel and de-icing stop in Quebec City. Monica played her President’s game on her iPad so many times she hit a new high score.20160216_142128

Back at Toronto airport, we scraped the snow off the car when we found it in the long term lot and headed for home. We were so happy to be greeted by Monica’s nieces and nephew!




Gratefulness for a Life

When we say our evening prayers, each person in the family says what they are thankful for that day. We are always thankful for each other and a roof over our heads and food on the table. Sometimes we get bogged down with other concerns and forget how much there is to be happy about.  If you listen to the news items today, it could all seem so sad. Physician-assisted suicide, abortion, challenges to marriage and family, quality of life debating, corruption in public figures are all serious concerns. Listening to Monica’s nighttime gratefulness puts everything where it should be. Yesterday was Monica’s birthday, so she had extra items to be thankful for, but nearly every day her list is this long.

Last night Monica said:

“I am thankful that I was born. I am thankful that I went to Mass. I am thankful that the waitresses sang Happy Birthday and brought me cake. I am thankful that I took muffins to my co-workers. I am thankful that I got to give the blanket to Hillary. I am thankful that Danny came to dinner. I am thankful for the balloons and everyone texting me and calling me and emailing me to say Happy Birthday.”

Cake from the waitresses at special breakfast out

Cake from the waitresses at special breakfast out

Blanket Monica made for her friend's new baby

Blanket Monica made for her friend’s new baby

Birthday dinner at home

Birthday dinner at home

A lot of birthday gifts!

A lot of birthday gifts!

I don’t think anyone in the family receives the kind of attention that Monica receives on her birthday, but it is clearly because it is reciprocal! The rest of us are so much more reserved in our own expressions of kindness. Monica really does remember to send cards and call and text other people, not just for their birthdays, but if they are sick or to express sympathy for a loss or to congratulate for an accomplishment. She is always making gifts and going out of her way to show love to others.


Memories of a special friend

My good friend Terese had many medical problems, surgeries and diabetes, but we never expected to lose her so young. Other than family, she was the closest person to Monica. Terese passed away last week with no warning; I guess as a complication of the diabetes. Terese had been a true friend to Monica. Monica was very sad to hear the news and began writing about her memories. She made notes over the next day or two and finally copied it all over into one document. I helped her to add the punctuation and capitalization, but here are her words.

 This is about my friend Mrs. Hardman.
I went to her house to visit her. I helped her decorate. I watched Darby play with them. My mom and I took Mrs. Hardman to a Dr. appt. check up. Then I visited her and we took her to Mrs. Hyland’s for the rosary group. When she visited me one time, we set up snack down stairs, visiting with Erin and Baylee. I am thinking of her a lot. Another time I visited her I helped her with the dishes and putting them away. I remember when she was at the hospital when Erin had baby Baylee. We went to see her. Mrs. Hardman came to watch me at my bowling. Mrs. Hardman and I went to Subway for lunch. One time we went to the library to see all of Elizabeth’s kids and played with them at the puppet show. I saw Mr. Hardman at the hospital too. I prayed for him with Mrs. Hardman. When we visited Mrs. Hardman I played with Darby. At the St. Angela parish picnic I sat with Mrs. Hardman. Mr. Hardman was laughing. Mrs. Hardman had to stay downstairs. Mr. Hardman helped her when she went outside. Mrs. Hardman came to my caroling party. She sang the songs and she helped me find the right page of the music. I saw Mrs. Hardman at 9:30 mass every Sunday. Darby made her happy. She is a good dog to Mrs. Hardman. Mrs. Hardman was always happy to see me. When I went to my brother Gabriel and Lauren’s wedding, Mrs. Hardman was at the hotel with me. She saw my cousins too. Mrs. Hardman came to my brother Greg’s graduation party at my house. I saw Mrs. Hardman a lot of times. We had a great time. She visited with my brother Greg when he came home from college. She texted me. Mrs. Hardman was in the hospital too. I visited her at different rooms at two hospitals. She gave me Diet Pepsi at one room. When Gabriel and Lauren were here, Mrs. Hardman saw them at Mass and said hello to them and Johanna. I visited Mrs. Hardman and we watched TV and she offered me a drink and a snack so nicely. I prayed for Mrs. Hardman. She let me play with Darby a while. When they were in an apartment, I helped to do some packing. When we visited at the apartment, we made Valentines. Mr. Winter and Mr. Lupson helped moving things to the apartment. I remember everyone helping loading the cars to move all the things. Last summer we had Hardman Happy Hours on the Friday afternoon. My brothers Greg and John came too. I like talking to Erin and Mr. Hardman when I visited Mrs. Hardman. Darby played at Happy Hours too. A while ago I went to physical therapy with my mom and then I visited Mrs. Hardman. Mr. Hardman and Mrs. Hardman came to my brother Dan’s Eagle Scout and graduation party. And they came to the party for Gabriel’s graduation and the party for my graduation from high school. Mrs. Hardman and my Mom and me all had lunch at Subway one day. I was helping her when she had a surgery. Sometimes I visited Mrs. Hardman at her house. For my birthday when I was 16 years old, Mr. and Mrs. Hardman decorated my front yard. We played card games together. Mrs. Hardman talked to me when I was watching for my bus to pick me up. Mrs. Hardman talked to me on Erin’s wedding day. They had me pass out the programs at Erin’s wedding. When it was Easter break, we played cards. I saw Mrs. Hardman at church on Easter. Mrs. Hardman and my aunt Carol came to my dance recital to watch me. Mrs. Hardman came to my program at Lake Shore Day Camp too. Mrs. Hardman took me and John out to breakfast one day. The Hardmans came to my house at Christmas and brought cookies. When my Mom went to college Miami to pick up my brother Greg, Mrs. Hardman picked me up from my bus and took me to her house and we stayed a while. Mr. Hardman made a fire in the backyard for everyone. A lot of time I am praying for Mrs. Hardman. Mrs. Hardman and Erin took us to the golfing place and we had ice cream. I am thinking of her a lot and I am still loving her a lot.


Faith Reflections

In the book, Cheaper By The Dozen, it is explained how Frank Gilbreth would control the mealtime conversation by announcing “Not of general interest” if anyone began a topic he deemed inappropriate. So I am warning you now, this post might not be of general interest.

Our family’s faith life is very important to us. When Monica was young, we sometimes wondered about her capacity to have a relationship with God. We taught her prayers and encouraged the same participation in all the traditions of our Catholic faith as our other children. She has shown us again and again her love for God and the people around her even if she can’t always put it into words.

Recently, she let us know that it was unfair that she never had a turn announcing the mysteries when we said a family rosary and she never got to lead the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But there are a lot of hard words!  We realized that she really wanted to do this, so we gave printouts to her speech therapist and asked her to help Monica with the words. She is so pleased now to take her turn and reads the mysteries with such expression it melts our hearts.

One family tradition we have is to acknowledge our children’s Baptism anniversary. We sometimes let them request their favorite dinner or light their candle, but usually we just remember to tell them Happy Anniversary. Monica never lets us forget her anniversary.

This year Tim was on a business trip to the Far East, so we were only communicating by email. He sent Monica the email below to let her know he was thinking about her anniversary.

My dearest Monica,

Happy anniversary of your beautiful baptism!

I think you know that you were so weak when you were born, because your heart was not working all the way, that we asked the priest to baptize you in the hospital. And he did baptize you in the hospital. And then we knew that you were a child of God. And if you died then, you would go to heaven, because God had adopted you as his own daughter Monica.

That is why sometimes I say that you are God’s daughter and I am very lucky to be allowed to share your house and to raise you with Mary Ellen and to go through life with you.

Certainly you know that your mother and I are very glad that you were sent by God to be in this house and be our daughter to be raised by us. But before we met you God knew you, because he made you first and he knew you first. God loved you first, because God thought of you first, and because he thought of you, you became real, you were a person at his having thought of you.

When God made you with his thoughtfulness he placed you in your mother’s womb where you would grow until you were born as a little girl. So when we saw you we knew you were made to be his daughter.

After you were home a little while we knew that you were strong enough to go to the church and there we showed everyone that you were his daughter and the priest came again and told everybody that he had baptized you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit while you were in the hospital. Everyone was very happy, and everybody prayed for you then that you would grow up to be a lovely young lady who would be a good friend to God and that you would know him and love him every day like he loves you.

Then, we came home from the church and had a party to celebrate what had happened in your life. It was a great beginning of a little baby girl who would grow up to become a very wonderful young lady that we all know, God’s daughter Monica, our friend Monica.

It is a good day to remember and celebrate. We are thankful for everything that God has done!

Love, Dad

And here is the email that Monica sent in reply:

Dear Dad,
Thank you for the email.
How is your trip? We miss you.
We went to St. Stephen church this morning.
My brother John was server. It was so nice.  We saw Mr. Monroe at mass this morning.  My brother John goes to scout meeting without you tonight.
Thank you for remember my baptism anniversary.
Thank you for praying for me. I really love your heart always love my life. You are so be a father being with you and left the hospital and you are working different place with out with your wife. I prayed the rosary and my prayer. I learned to talk now. It really helps me to practice my piano every day. And you are so sweet of you be a father in my world gave me a toy and walk with me in the hike with my family when I was a little child.

Monica Jakubisin

Sometimes I correct her emails, adding the punctuation, etc., but I just couldn’t change this one when I could see her pouring out her heart.

I’ll try to lighten up a bit by sharing one more story. She loves getting her turn to light the candles during Advent. Tim loves encouraging this challenge, but he also sometimes closes his eyes during the prayers. Thankfully I was watching when Monica’s hair began to go up in flames! No harm done.  She now knows to light the furthest candle first.

Happy Advent!

Fun with Friends

We are so grateful that God gives different gifts to different people. Some are called to be teachers, or doctors, or to work with elderly, small children or people with special needs.  We have met so many wonderful people who choose and enjoy providing for the needs of people with disabilities. Two programs that Monica enjoys are the PinPals bowling group and SOAR dance exercise classes.  Both programs were started by ordinary people who felt called to serve people with special needs.

The PinPals bowling program is held at Bay Lanes, in Bay Village, Ohio. Mark Nazario, the owner of Bay Lanes opens on Saturday morning just for this group. The bowlers range from barely school age to adults and nearly fill all the lanes.  Mark offers a great price to make it affordable and Mary and Bob Custer put the participants into groups so they are bowling with peers, some with bumpers or other aids, some really good bowlers! Mark had a great video created highlighting the group.

PinPals at Bay Lanes  Mary,Monica,Mark

Monica is in the video with her bowling friends. They all get encouragement and praise throughout the season and certificates at the end.  This is significant to many young people who would never have the opportunity to be on a team or get recognition at their school.



More recently, she has joined some activities sponsored by Scott Montgomery at SOAR.  She attends a dance exercise class on Mondays. Not only is the physical activity good for Monica, but the people volunteering with SOAR truly show an interest in each of the participants. Two weeks ago, they all sang Happy Birthday to Monica and last week they took a photo of the group for a Get Well Card to one of the participants who was hospitalized.  The participants have a wide range of ability to participate in the exercise, but all are encouraged to keep moving and enjoy being together.Monica at aerobicsMonica at class

My 21st Birthday Celebration

Monica's phone
I got a cell phone. I have wanted a cell phone for a long time. It is pink. I am so happy!
It is a big responsibility but I am ready for it!

Here are the rules my parents made for me.

Monica’s Cell Phone Rules

• I will always keep track of where my phone is, and take good care of it.
• When the phone rings, I will answer “Hello, this is Monica.”
• I will always use good manners on the phone. I will use words like please, thank you, excuse me, and you’re welcome.
• No calls or messages before 8 a.m.
• I will not call someone when they are at work.
• If I call someone and they do not answer, I will leave a message and tell them my name in the message. I will not call them again until they call me.
• If I write a message to someone, I will write a whole sentence and use my best spelling.
• I will not write another message to someone until they answer me.
• If I want to take someone’s picture, I will ask “May I take a picture of you?
• No phone during meals.
• No phone if someone is talking to me.
• No phone during family movies or family games.
• I will make sure my phone is turned off when I am in church, in restaurants, or quiet places.
• I will keep my phone in my bag when I am at work.
• I will leave the phone on the island in the kitchen by 9 p.m.
• No calls or messages after 9 p.m.