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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Monday, March 29, 2010

Shay to Campus

Shay spent her first day of spring break by getting up early and going to work with me. Actually, she taught my classes and my students learned a lot from her. She did an amazing job! As a fifth grader, I NEVER would have been able to stand up in front of college students and present book talks, tell what good and bad teachers are like, read a poem "written by a middle school girl" and answer many questions about "life as a fifth grader". When she told one of my classes she'd rather go to BGSU than Harvard, they applauded. I was shocked. She also told them she would like to be a writer and an actress. They suggested she could do both - write her own plays and scripts and then star in them. She was surprised my students didn't know about "Just Dance" - a wii game she received last week for getting straight As on her grade card. When they asked her if her mom played "Just Dance" she said yes and they suggested she video me and have me share that video clip. (About once a week I share a video clip of Shayla featuring a reading concept we are studying in class.) Trust me, they will NOT see my playing the wii dance game, but that would be a hoot!

After classes, we enjoyed lunch at the "Bowl N Greenery". While I did some student advising this afternoon, Shayla curled up in a chair in my office and played her DSi. She must have thanked me ten times for letting her come to BG with me. What an amazing flip from her thoughts about BGSU one year ago - the afternoon she sat on the couch and cried her eyes out knowing she'd have to leave her school and start at a new one. What a fabulous year it's been for us all. Thank you, dear Lord!

PLEASE JOIN US ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31st at TIFFIN UNIVERSITY - home of the Dragons, for the Christi Thomas Annual Egg Hunt. It will begin at 3:30 pm. Bring your little ones and bring their Easter baskets!

Video Clip of Shayla reading a poem written by Brod Bagert

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Christi Thomas Tiffin University Egg Hunt & "No Snow" Day


The 4th Annual Christi Thomas Egg Hunt at Tiffin University will be held on Wednesday, March 31st at 3:30 pm. It is a free event for the community and we are happy to sponsor it in Christi's memory. We love her so much and don't get to spend any money on her so we are happy to share where we can, with things she loved! Bring your basket and join us on campus! We hope to see you there!

I was quite surprised when the phone rang at 5:45 am on Friday. It was the school informing us of a two hour delay. Shayne was in Houston so I had to quickly come up with a "Plan B" because I had to teach two morning classes up at BG. Thankfully, a neighbor down the road said she could take her to school, she was taking her daughter anyway. On the one mile trek to their home my new little car was really sliding even though I wasn't going over 25. I dropped Shayla off, but said I couldn't imagine they would have school and that I might very well turn around and come back for her, but I was going to try it. As I drove just a couple of miles I remembered my lunch conversation with Jennifer just two days ago. She was telling me that students really don't mind when professors cancel class and that I shouldn't risk my life to do so. I told her I was afraid to ever cancel because my students might question my commitment or dedication.

Then I saw an accident and flashing lights and thought, "I don't need to try to make the rest of my 45 mile commute. My students will forgive me." I turned around, came home, received word Shay's school was cancelled for the day so I emailed my students and gave them a 30 minute video clip to watch and questions to respond to, called my two students who don't live in Bowling Green, had my secretary post a sign outside my classroom down and I was walking back out the door to go get Shayla when they called to see if Shayla could spend the day. She was so happy about that and she was so happy to finally get "Snow Day #4" (even if the ice was melted by 11:30 and it really wan't a "Snow Day") and she's now on Spring Break for a whole week plus a day. Ahhhh! She's soooooooooo happy about that!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Healthy Kid - Busy Kid - PTL!

Last Thursday night, Shayla finished her second basketball league's games. She learned a lot this year.
She was on the "purple team", #3.

Wow! This poet/author, from New Orleans, was amazing Saturday at BGSU! Shay and I had a great day on campus. Some of my wonderful students were there! The amazing event was worked by our early childhood education majors and our reading GAs.

That night we took Shay and a sweet friend to see "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid". It was wonderful, absolutely perfect for these two girls soon to enter middle school and also for me - a teacher educator of middle school teachers.

I'm not able to get the little video clip of Shayla introducing Brod to load, but I thought she did a great job (bias mom, of course!). (Funny thing: She couldn't remember his last name so she decided not to say it and she soon learned that Brod could not remember her name either!)

One of Brod's poems (of course he did not present during his silly and entertaining presentation) is quite serious. It is called "The Empty Desk"
The say I have a gentle touch
And that's why they sent her to me.
So she spent her days in my clssroom,
In the first desk of the third row.
She listened,
She learned,
And she blossomed like a morning glory.
I can still remember her smile,
The day I stood beside her desk
As she pressed purple crayon to paper white
And ended the arch of her rainbow.
She spent her last days with me,
Right here in my classroom,
In this desk,
The first desk of the third row.
Because I have a gentle touch...
That's why they sent her to me.

Monday night was Shayla's school's 4th and 5th grade spring concert. The music teacher did a fantastic job! They kids were all great!


Last night, Shayla presented to the Tiffin City School board about the distance learning / exchange they did with the fifth graders in London, England.
It was a great experience for her. As a fifth grader I never would have had the courage to speak in front of a panel of adults (with microphones in front of them) and with the local cable TV news there filming too - yikes! She was fine.

I had a most wonderful lunch today with Jennifer (Kids Cancer Crusade). What a delight she is and what a remarkable person too. I can't believe she will be a pediatric oncology nurse very soon. When we stood outside the education building on campus today saying our goodbyes, she invited us to her pinning. She said, "The reason I am going to be a nurse is because of your family." It was all I could do not to choke up. Oh, we actually have other plans that day, but I'm going to see what I can do. That was really moving. I walked to my car with tears streaming down my face. What a sweetie! I know she misses Christi too.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Accepted as Submitted"

"Accepted as Submitted" - Wow! I absolutely could NOT believe those sweet words this morning. "Accepted as Submitted" - Unbelievable! At my first annual review meeting on Friday with the Director of the School of Teaching and Learning at BGSU and with my mentor, the findings regarding my teaching (50% of my job responsibilities) and service (20% of my job responsibilities) were outstanding based on upon two separate investigations one by eight of my colleagues, the other by the Director of the School. However, I only received "on target" regarding Scholarship (the other 30% of my job responsibilities). I was praised for having two manuscripts "under review"; however, I was reminded that if I do not have six publications in peer reviewed scholarly journals within my first three years at BGSU, I will not be given a second three year contract. In my defense, I shared with them that I had another submission.

Imagine my surprise and delight, early this morning, to find out from the editor herself - I'M IN! I immediately called Shayne and Olivia to share my glorious news and I think, quite frankly, I surprised my boss and my mentor this morning with the amazing news! They were so happy for me! Praise be to the Lord!

My article will be published in the October or February edition of "Middle Ground". "Middle Ground" is National Middle School Association's practitioners' magazine. It provides a voice and a resource for those committed to the educational and developmental needs of young adolescents. The magazine's readership includes over 32,000 across the United States and internationally. It is published in August, October, February, and April.

Thank you, dear Lord!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another Little Update

Thanks a million for prayers said for my student. She told me when I visited with her after classes yesterday that she will be discharged today! Praise be to God and may God continue with her as her doctors try to figure out what is going on in he body.

My favorite newspaper reporter, Jill Goshe, with the Advertiser-Tribune (Tiffin / Seneca County) newspaper came to campus yesterday to cover a story our BGSU methods students were doing with one of our partner schools - Fostoria City. As always, she did a great job and we thank her for the great news coverage!

Last night we enjoyed taking Shayla and a friend to see "My Fair Lady" at the high school. The show was great (as was the fish fry fundraiser bfore the show).

And the decision is in..................SKEETER! Good old Skeeter boy will be returning with Shayla for her 3rd year of 4H Horse competitions this summer. I think she made a great decision. He's such a good boy! (He just likes to run for the grain bucket - and I can relate....I would run for a hot fudge sundae too, wink!)

We've had gorgeous weather with sunny skies and temps near 70s all week. It's been great to go bike riding and Shayla's riding lesson this week was also outside. Ahhhhhh! Spring!

Now we're off to BGSU where Shayla is scheduled to go on stage and introduce the hilarious children's poet and author, Brod Bagert, who is the feature at our "Literacy in the Park" family event on campus today. One of my colleagues asked me about a month ago if Shayla would be willing to do that and now she's actually nervous about it. I think when she goes out there though, she'll be fine. Go, Shay! Thanks, Brod! God bless you all!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Little Update

I thought I'd better update before my sweet mother gets concerned. All is fine here, busy, busy, busy but fine. (And I will never complain about self selected busy - to have the good health to do that, that is the most fantastic blessing!)

I chaperoned Shayla's "Preteen Church Retreat" down in Cincinnati over the weekend (over 1,000 preteens celebrating their faith and love in the Lord - wow). Shayla wanted to go and her parents (smile) decided the only way she was going was if I chaperoned. That burst her bubble, but when Shayne explained the options were 1.) go with mom 2.) stay home; she decided to go. She had a glorious time and I think I gave her a bit of freedom too.

We were also able to spend precious time with my sister and her family. Shayla just LOVES her cousins and all three were home - yippee!

I taught a literacy inservice for a group of middle school teachers one day after school this week. They were fun, receiptive to learning, and I look forward to going back next month to share some more strategies with them.

(PIC: March 2003 - my sweet, sweet friend with Christi at the hospital in NYC. Due to Spring Break, I was able to get together with Becky for lunch one day last week! There is never enough time for good friends!)

Wednesday, after classes, I went to the hospital to visit one of my students who is in ICU. It just brought back too many vivid memories (which is why I'm up at this ridiculous hour, unable to sleep with all of the horrors of those sickening memories). Please keep this wonderful young individual in your prayers. I can't imagine being so young and so far away from home and family in a strange, small hospital, very ill and alone. May God bless her with a full and speedy recovery. I am sick with worry about her. I wish I didn't live an hour away and that I wasn't terribly busy right now so I could do more for her. I just finished teaching my Language Arts methods class for the semester (yes - already, crazy!) so now those students are out in the schools and I have a HUGE pile of assignments to grade by Friday - yikes! Thankfully, now that this class has ended, it will free up my schedule tremendously and allow me more time to pursue my research agenda. And things are shaping up there! Praise be to God!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

$1,000 Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship - HEIDELBERG

While we have received several already, this is just a reminder to students who are Juniors at Heidelberg and who are majoring in education, you qualify to apply for this year's $1,000 Christi Thomas Memorial Scholarship. Applications are due on Friday, March 12th. All items must be submitted electronically. More information is located at

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Spring Break

BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY Did I say "I love my new job" yet this week? If not, here goes:

When I signed my contract last April, I realized for the first time since I was a BGSU student myself I would have a full week of spring break. I blocked the week off of my calendar - and Shayne's too. Shayne, who has been saying for months, "My passport is lonely," wanted to cycle in Dublin since I've never been to Ireland and he thinks I would love it there.

AT THE TOP OF THE PRU listening to the audio tour
And I dreaded just the thought of having to tell Shayla's principal - since he told me she's already violated the five vacation days policy of the school with her nine days - and telling him we were going biking for a week in Ireland.

Unfortunately (although it really is fabulous news) Shayne is soooooo terribly busy with new components of his business right now that he couldn't get away. Regardless, he thought I ought to at least take Shayla to Boston to learn some history. This year she has been studying the American Revolution in social studies.

What better place to go than Boston to learn about that?! Sooooooooooooo Shay didn't really have another "vacation day", but really a "college visit day" since she toured Harvard (and was not impressed, unlike her mother who had to keep picking her jaw up off the ground). I wonder how many college visit days a fifth grader can have? (wink) In all reality, she only missed one day of school and I only wish ALL of her fellow classmates could have gone and experienced what she did! She is blessed! (PHOTO: Walking Harvard Yard)

Eating in a student residence hall with a beautiful (inside and out) Harvard student. Thanks to amazing Michele's connections, she arranged for us to get in to a dorm to have lunch with students. There were three gnormous chandeliers. It was incredible! Shayla enjoyed her tofu on "Meatless Monday" - then she had a huge hot dog, hmmmmmmmmm. I learned tuition is $50K a year, only 8% of applicants are selected and there are 6,000 undergraduate students. I had no idea it was so small - or so expensive. Trust me, I asked a ton more questions and that poor student will probably never permit visitors like me to ever enter again! Sorry! I was so intrigued. And yes Shayla did want to know, "Are Ivy League Professors smarter than MAC League Professors?" (I told her, "Of course not!" and then I laughed and laughed!)

Holocaust Memorial - very moving

With John Hancock's coat and items (This is who Shayla selected to do her report and project on for school)

The statues from McCloskey's book, "Make Way for Ducklings" - Shay is a new little ducky at the end

Thank you, sweet Michele for the most amazing 48 hours in Boston ever! Thank you for sharing your beautiful city with us and your precious time. You are a gem! I know you brought Christi so much happiness when you would visit with her at CHOP, now to be so giving of yourself for our family yet again - we are deeply indebted. May God hold you close and richly bless you always! You are a beautiful gem - a rare and precious find! THANK YOU!

My thanks to the sweet tech department at BGSU. When I told them I was taking Shayla to Boston for an educational trip, they gave me some iTouches and "The Freedom Trail" - an audio guide to the historic 2.5 mile trek through the city was placed upon them. Shayla enjoyed doing the audio guide on the iTouch so much we actually went back to this cemetery a second day so that she could walk it again. Seeing the grave sites of: Franklin, John Hancock, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, Mother Goose and the five victims of the Boston Massacre was really unbelievable.

It was an amazing surprise for me on Saturday at the Boston airport. I immediately spotted Michele and then I thought, "Oh, nice, she brought a friend." Then it hit me, "It's Sylvia!" (Michele's mom). I didn't think she would be joining us, but she sure surprised us! She flew from Philly to Boston!! I was so happy she did! This amazing woman blows my mind! In the midst of our struggles, she came to CHOP, prayed with Christi, held Christi, gave her her final bath, massaged her feet, gave us breaks to try to catch up on items, etc. so Christi was never alone while we were trying to cope and come to grip with the reality of the impending death. She even arranged for a priest from Philly to come and give Christi her final Sacrament, when CHOP couldn't arranged for a priest for us. Now on this trip, she was equally amazing. I didn't know how she might react to the new technology, but Shay showed her how to use the iTouch and she really got into it! She is incredible! We walked poor Sylvia all over Boston - and back and she never missed a beat. God has blessed us with incredible friends! She also made my day many times by mentioning Christi and telling us how she felt Christi was with us - it was great!!

Much to our surprise and delight, they were reenacting the Boston Massacre. We felt it was our personal WELCOME TO BOSTON! Thank you!

Michele and Sylvia: Take care, be safe and thank you for a great trip! I think I will need to sleep the rest of the week to catch up from all that we did! THANKS! Without a doubt, you are angels on earth!

(PIC: Spring 2006, at CHOP) Sylvia & Michele

Thursday, March 04, 2010

SWEET TREATS! DARLING! To any of my students who may be reading this let me once again remind you to please be safe on your spring break! You probably have no idea how many lives you touch and how devastated those lives would be if something bad ever happened to you. Remember the decisions you make today may very well indeed affect your future for the rest of your life so be wise!

My week was filled with great blessings! On Monday, I was notified I had been voted "Professor of the Month" by the BGSU Panhellenic Council (the governing body of the 13 sororities on campus). While I smiled then choked back tears, Shayne later said, "Angela, that's great! You always wanted to be in a sorority." He totally cracks me up. Because I didn't want to be away from my family Tuesday night, I didn't go to receive the award, but one of the sweet members stopped by my office yesterday to give it to me.

The other great thing that happened was I was able to meet a sweet and gorgeous blogger who has been following Christi's story for years. I typically don't take the time to leave my office, I just eat the same lunch I pack for Shayla's lunch for my lunch too. Leaving the Education Building for lunch was awesome, but what was even better was spending a couple of hours with this amazing woman! I appreciate her coming to BG to meet me! I can't even describe how comfortable I felt, like I had known her all my life. It was a beautiful meeting and I realize how very blessed I am to have met people and made friends all as a result of Christi's journey. While I would do ANYTHING to have her back in my arms, I know God has blessed our lives in many other ways too.

I have quite a long "to do" list for my spring break, but continuing to plan and write the book about Christi's life that I want to write is high on that list (OK, so is ordering that darn cemetery plaque.....) so hopefully I will actually be as productive and accomplished as I hope to be.

I'm posting this picture here of the day to day occurrences we may not remember to take pictures of. Following Christi's death, I was disappointed that I didn't have pictures of those little things you do every day, the normal things. I'm posting this here to remind you to take the ordinary pictures of your loved ones too, not just the special occasions and events!

Shayne flew out of the Tiffin airport this morning. He's spending a couple of hours in Birmingham today. He'll be back this afternoon. He sent me this picture he captured from the little plane. While I love when can fly out of the Tiffin airport, because of how much time it saves him (no security, no time lines, 5 minutes from home, etc.) I also worry about those little planes and his safety. May God be with him and keep him safe in His loving arms!