Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I just have to be a proud mom and share Shayla's 3rd grade teacher’s comments from her grade card. After having such a rough year last year with school, this was very pleasant news. (I think last year after Christi's death she had at least two "D's" reading and spelling, perhaps. It was a rough year for her with grades, reading and friends and slowly month after month she made positive progress in all areas. We thank the dear Lord!) We both think Shayla really blossomed this year. We just hope she always stays so sweet because it is her amazing thoughtfulness and politeness that continue to amaze me for her age. She continues to say she wants to be an actress, but I will not at all be surprised if she really becomes a nurse due to her concern for others.

(PIC: Shayla, 2004, age 5)Her 3rd grade teacher wrote: It was great having Shayla in class this year. She listens attentively and participates actively in class discussions with her knowledge and experiences. She takes her school work seriously and is an excellent student. Have a great summer vacation!

I received great news myself last week. In April, I was struggling with my OSU class and also the independent study I was taking with another Professor. I knew my main focus should be on the two dissertation chapters I was writing and my coursework should take a backseat in all reality. One night I was venting to Shayne and I said something like, “I really don’t care if I get my first B. My committee will never know now, no one will ever ask me my grades and I’m just sick of all of this.” Shayla overheard me, came into the kitchen and said, “Mom, that’s terrible. You’d never say it was ok for me not to try my hardest, so why is it ok for you? I know, I’ll just quit trying at school.” I wasn’t in a mood to respond in a proper manner so I said something like, “When you are getting your third college degree, we’ll talk. Until then you’ll do your best and I’ll do my best, but I am not going to kill myself to get this "A" like I’ve done for my other classes. I just cannot do it anymore.”

(PIC: Shayne swinging Shayla, July 2004)
One day while studying she came up and gave me a hug. I told her I felt so bad about not giving her all of the attention I wanted to give her, but soon my degree would be completed and I’d have more time. She sat on my lap and said, “It’s ok. I will probably get my Ph.D. one day too.” I giggled and told her I would come over and clean her house, make her meals and bake her cookies so she'e hqve more time to devote to her studies. Then I burst out laughing telling her she’d better be a really good daughter for daddy so that he pays for her degree like he’s paid for mine.

When my grades were posted last week I don’t know who was more excited. I ran to tell Shayla I ended all of my years of coursework with a 3.98 GPA, 150 hours on my transcript and all As. She didn’t forget our conversation from April; she said put my face in her hands, drew her face close and said something like, “See, now aren’t you glad you tried.” What was even better was I received back both of my dissertation chapters. On one, I had only about 15 minutes worth of corrections to make, the other I sent out to some fellow Ph.D. friends to take a look at one section I was told to revise. I think why I did so well was I had some incredible help from Olivia who edited and proofread my work and who allowed me to “discuss” items with her. She is amazing! Not only was she baking cookies and making candies for Christi’s Tea, but she was also reading my writing. During class one night in May I received a text message from her which said, “Reading your chapter was the highlight of my day.” I passed my phone over to a friend who then leaned forward and said, “Your friend must have had a horrendous day if reading your chapter was actually a highlight for her.” Thank you, Olivia!

Any teachers looking for a really good book? I’ve got one for you! I purchased it to use in a grad class I’m teaching for Heidelberg College later this summer. Not as a scholarly text, but as a supplement and boy is it a great read! It’s called “Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56” by Rafe Esquith. The author teaches in a Los Angeles neighborhood surrounded by violence and poverty. He’s a fifth grade teacher and the book is inspirational.

HAPPY 89th BIRTHDAY to my sweet Grandma Falter! I look forward to calling her late this afternoon. I hope by then to be putting the final touches on my first candidacy exam question, due tomorrow by midnight. It will end at about 42 pages, 50 with references. I've made a vow to myself NOT to ruin my life over the remaining three questions I will soon receive. This has been insane! Fellow doc students told me not to let it consume my entire life, but I didn't listen! (Although in all reality, I don't think I could have answered a seven part question in any fewer pages and with high enough quality for my committee. I pray it's good enough. I had my first nighmare over my defense last night. In my dream, my Advisor started off by saying, "Well, first of all, you insulted me by not saying my name correctly." I know it's not at all her style and I wouldn't do that, but I think it's showing the stressfulness of this situation that will go on until late August. YIKES! Prayer are apprecited! THANK YOU!)


At 18/6/08 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anna said...

Congrats Shayla!!!! I'm so glad things are going well for her, she deserves only the best.

Praying for you Angela - I suggest you frame that cartoon I sent you :)

At 18/6/08 9:39 AM, Blogger Olivia said...

Shayla, you are absolutely amazing!!!!! CONGRATS on your hard work and great effort. You are brilliant and wise beyond your years. Not to mention caring, beautiful, funny, charming and all-around FANTASTIC!

Angela, congrats on the AMAZING GPA. WOW. I have no idea how you do it with everything you have going on. And please tell your friend that I really did have a wonderful day-- but the nerd in me misses school terribly and you've been a *huge* help with that!

Hugs to all,


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