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, May 31, 2010

2010 Seneca East Christi Thomas Scholarship Winners

As one of the five members of the Christi Thomas Scholarship selection committee, I can assure you deciding this year's Seneca East Scholarship winner was an absolute killer! There were 17 (seventeen) outstanding applicants. (I've taught them all.) They were all deserving of a $1,000 award, but financially, we could only select one $1,000 winner. Reading, scoring and debating all of the applicants, we selected Courtney as this year's scholarship recipient. I'm sure Christi would be proud.

We wanted to give all of the applicants something; however, that would have added up to about another $2,000 so we just couldn't, but it was heartbreaking not to do so. We decided to award the five highest scoring students with a $100 book scholarship to help with the students' book bills in the fall since that would "only" be an additional $500.

I was in the midst of teaching summer school and Shayla was down with the chicken pox, so Shayne made the scholarship presentation at the high school last week. I've heard he did great making comments about Christi being a little prankster and how that tied in with my computer crash. I'm thankful Shayne went and made the presentation himself, that we were able to award some outstanding students with some money and that Shayla, after having to take seven days off of school due to the chicken pox, will be back tomorrow to end her fifth grade year. The end of fifth grade - wild. Seems like Christi just started, now Shayla will actually end. Odd, it's all so very, very odd.

And after going to the cemetery to "visit" Christi one night last week, I'm going to get that gravestone marker ordered for her soon. Also, when I received the sweetest email this weekend from a mom of one of her classmates who took some of Christi's friends to the cemetery it just made me realize (again) I must get that done - like this week. (Fingers crossed I'll have the guts to really do it! I've decided waiting for that "perfect" picture of her to surface just isn't going to happen.)

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Pox and The Wedding

Shayla has been bitten by the chicken pox worse than any of us thought. She's covered and miserable. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to go to my cousin's daughter's wedding on Saturday. It was so lovely! I wish the newlyweds the very best!

Before leaving, Shayla said, "You know how I love going to weddings! Please take videos for me" so I did. I also brought her home a piece of wedding cake. She's not had much of an appetite, but she did eat the cake. (As I told my cousin - the stunning mother of the bride, "I've been to many weddings and with many beautiful cakes, but this is the most gorgeous wedding cake I've ever seen." Those are all live flowers on the cake. Amazing! It was delicious too!)

Certainly I can't be this old (ha!) but this beautiful wedding was the very first time I ever attended the mother's wedding and then years later the daughter's wedding. Wild! I vividly remember my beautiful cousin, the bride, crying at her own wedding 25 years ago. So.....when her daughter did the same exact thing yesterday in church, it was really wild! Like mother, like daughter! The wedding was lovely and I wish this awesome couple the very best! (PHOTO: With my mom and sis! I KNOW dad was there in spirit too!)

(PHOTO: Four Generations!) My beautiful (inside and out) grandma will soon be 92 years old! (I think she got a kick out of telling the other ladies that - and watching their expressions - in the bathroom yesterday - sooooooooo cute!)

(Photo: Catching up with the girls!)

(HUMOR: Shayla said, "Mom, you'll never believe what dad did while you were gone! He bought white bread AND pop!" Shayne explained she hadn't been hungry for anything so he broke down and bought junk food with the hopes she would eat it. She told me she liked cereal. I said, "You don't like cereal!" She said, "I do when it's the sugar coated kind!")

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chicken Pox

I'm sorry to say we have learned that "Martha" was highly contageous Wednesday night at her school play. On Thursday, Shayne texted me to let me know she had a horrible headache and she was staying home from school. She had not missed a day of school for illness since she was in the second grade. I felt horrible being 45 miles away and working. She slept most of the day. On Friday, Shayne texted me she had funky red dots all over. We questioned chicken pox; however, since she tested positive for it through a blood test when she arrived to be reunited with our family in 2003 on her fourth birthday we did not think it was possible for her to get them again - but that's exactly what's going on. Thankfully, she's not too miserable and she will be back in school on Monday. After dealing with the nastiest of the nasty, we celebrate Chicken Pox. Thank you, dear Lord for blessing Shayla with great health! There could be no greater blessing!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Martha Washington

Despite the fact, I'm staying in BG right now due to an intense summer teaching schedule, I made it back home last night to watch Shayla perform as the lead in her school play. She was "Martha Washington" in their "mini musical". The kids were all AWESOME! And I was so very happy to get to spend the night with Shayne and Shayla, even if only for a matter of hours. I'm exhausted, but missing them so much! Great job, Shayla! I'll be home soon! (Just doing nothing, but hanging out with my "BG Family" ya know, Shayla - ha ha ha!!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Venice, Amsterdam and soon Home

Yesterday found the “Cultural Explorations in Italy” study group visiting our final school. My highlight was in a fourth grade classroom a boy, who was reading Pinocchio, in a group of 10 other children with his teacher turned to me and very slowly and clearly said, “What is your name?” When I immediately held out my hand and said, “My name is Angela. What is your name?” His jaw dropped open and he clasped his hands over his mouth – so surprised that he really spoken well enough in English to get a response from me. The class laughed so hard and then the students who weren’t too shy also tried to engage in conversation. After our school visit, back at the convent, we had a farewell lunch and headed to the train station where we rode to Venice.

(PIC: Dr. Susan says "hello" to students) On the two hour train ride it was great to sit with my boss and have a chance to really talk in depth and at length. One of the things I tried to explain to the students one night at dinner is that in higher ed, you are more isolated. You do not see your colleagues every day, sometimes not for a week or so and you do not have time to socialize. Everyone is too busy and our schedules are so different. Having precious time spent with Dr. Susan and Dr. Nancy was truly the highlight of this trip for me. (The close second was visiting and learning in the schools. That was amazing too!) Nancy was so complimentary about my work and their decision to hire me and we are hoping to get an article submitted to a peer reviewed journal about some work we recently completed and how we think it will be very beneficial to our students. I also spoke to her about Christi – a lot, and I was glad she asked the really hard questions she did. “What was it like to watch your child suffer knowing she was going to die and you couldn’t prevent it?”, “Did you ever tell Christi she would die? What did she think?” etc., etc.

Arriving in Venice, I found it to be a most interesting city – truly one that is sinking and I believe dying. I learned that the population in 1960 was 300,000 and now it is down to 60,000. There were vacant buildings everywhere, so sad and yet when the ground floors are completely under water already and the streets drains are backed up, it’s quite understandable.

(PIC: Our charming hotel in Lido (Venice, or close enough) Upon our arrival, we kicked back at our charming hotel in Lido for a bit and then I went with one of the students via boat back into Venice since my time there would be so short and I wanted to squeeze in as much as I could. We strolled the many winding streets and then, stumbling upon the other BG students who headed over to Venice, I had to pretend I was “mom” to one of our students who was being hit on by a street vendor. She was most thankful for my “rescue” as I quickly sized up the situation and saw what was happening.

Dinner in St. Mark's square with live music outside was amazing! I kept wishing Shayne were with me and how I would love to bring him to that incredibly romantic city!

We ended the night with our whole group, and one more who arrived from BG, taking a fabulous gondola ride on the grand canal. Our driver / rower did freak us out a bit when he took a call on his cell phone and started talking. They really have to bend low to get under the bridges and he was chatting away.

We decided it would be ok for him to chat on his cell, but if he started texting and asked one of us to row that was where we would draw the line (hee hee). We also saw Marco Polo's home and he said they do not play "Marco Polo" in Italy, yet every American tourist has to explain the game to him. Too funny!

This morning I tried (tried) NOT to say emotional “goodbyes” to the group, telling them, "I don’t like goodbyes so I’ll just say, See ya on campus! Some of us have to start teaching summer school on Monday and can’t spend another leisure week in Italy, ya know. I’ll have the bulletin board done about our School Study Program before you even leave to come back.” Well, they didn’t let me get away with that. (tears, tears) I wish them well as they continue on to a few more cities! They were all incredibly awesome travel partners!

I caught my flight to Amsterdam and today enjoyed my private driver who narrated for me all of the places I “needed” to see in Amsterdam and who then escorted me right to the door of the Anne Frank House which was really the reason for this 18 hour layover I’m taking in Amsterdam before returning home tomorrow.

As an 8th grade teacher I read “The Diary of Anne Frank” with my students and as a result I really wanted to go through the home where she hid for 25 months. It was very moving. Shayne promised me I’d love it and I did. Very sad, yet I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to go and actually put my own eyes on her diary and to see her room, the bookcase, etc., etc.

Thanks for letting me share my journey with you! Life is going to be quite dull for a while after this – oh, I know Shayla will keep it hopping. Thank God for Shayla! I miss her so much!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Loving this area of Italy. One more school to tour tomorrow and then we will board a train to travel to a city I've never been to before. I'm excited!

(PIC: With a group of 8th graders this morning at our first stop. Shayla will be surprised to know they listen to the same music she does: Hillary Duff, Jason Bieber, etc., wild!)

So many thanks for remembering Christi and for reaching out to us yesterday.
We consider ourselves blessed. I do feel bad about really dumping on Shayne. Typically, I take care of everything with the scholarships (applications were all due yesterday - her birthday). Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago my computer's hard drive crashed so on the way to the airport, I dropped my computer off at BGSU where they are fixing it. Meanwhile students sending applications were getting messages that their emails could not be delivered, despite the fact we really have another way to get into that email account. He's been working with the guidance counselor, letting her know what we received and what we did not. I have been doing this every year. It is a huge hassle and I hate to bother him from his important work with this, but.......I'm still in Italy, touring schools.

And what a great, educational day it was!

Thanks, mom for taking care of Shayla today. Thanks for your email! (Pic: This is the translator we've hired to work for us. She's amazing! Today she wore her daisy shirt for us - what a hoot!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy 13th Birthday, Angel Christi

I'm so blessed to have had this trip come up at this time. I vividly remember teaching last year on Christi's birthday; it was so hard. This year has been nice to be on a different time zone, with some of my favorite colleagues and some delightful (and mature and responsible) BGSU students. This trip to Italy has been a great distraction as I'm certain if I were home I'd be dwelling on the fact that today would have been Christi's 13th birthday and I wonder how we would have celebrated it. (Picture: "The Falcon's Finest: Dr. Nancy, Dr. Angela & Dr. Susan" hee hee!)

We toured more schools today and I particularly enjoyed engaging this group of fifth grade girls in English conversation. They seemed very excited to try speaking English to someone from America and they wrote letters to Shayla.

I hope Shayne is doing ok at home. (He did send me an email telling me he had everything under control, or perhaps out of control, he wasn't really sure. He did miss a 4H meeting since I didn't remind him.) I'm sure he's fine! And Shayla can hold her own - most of the time. I'm sure today has been rough for Shayne.

Happy Birthday, sweetpea! I'm certain you are having a grand celebration with the Lord! ENJOY!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Despite the volcanic ash cloud slowing us down and misplacing our luggage for a few hours, our group of BGSU professors and education majors safely arrived in Italy on Monday. We spent all of today touring schools and learning from teachers and professors. Tomorrow will be much of the same, but we will be travleling into Milan. I'm praying it's the perfect diversion from the fact that tomorrow would have been Christi's 13th birthday, a day I have been dreading for a very long time.

This is a picture of my little room at the convent I am staying at in Italy. Check out the "orb" right over the bed. On the eve of Christi's 13th birthday, I just noticed it in this pic - wild!

My "little" pizza I ordered at lunch - delicious!

I've found I am missing Shayne and Shayla terribly (not that being in Italy with my boss is bad - it's great, but.......). I miss Shayne when walking around this lovely Europeon city and Shayla especially today in the schools. When I asked a group of children, who were so anxious to try to talk English with me, how old they were and they said, "11" I had to choke back tears telling them I had an 11 year old daughter in America. My boss suggested I take her too (and quite frankly we considered it) but then decided not to bring her. Now I'm wishing they were both here with me. She would have love trying to talk with the students today.

The group from BGSU - dinner (We decided it was a wee bit better than the dining halls on campus, wink.)

I sent Shayla an email telling her tomorrow (Wednesday) would have been Christi's 13th birthday. One time we didn't tell her because we didn't want to upset her and she was upset we didn't tell her. I also told her that she was the perfect sibling to Christi and that she made Christi feel so good. (She did!) Shayla emailed me back and told me thanks for telling her about her big sis's birthday.

at the Preschool with our awesome translator - Bernice

the playground at the elementary school we tourned today

I really enjoyed the walking tour in Brescia late this afternoon.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Please Mark Your Calendar and Join Us

Please join us if you can! Saturday, June 24th: Thanks for remembering our little gal and for coming out to celebrate her life with us! Monies raised will go toward the many annual scholarships we give in her memory. THANK YOU!!

Thursday, May 06, 2010


As I finish up my spring semester grades and get them posted through BGSU's system, Shayne is serving as a chaperone for Shayla's "Outdoor Education" experience. Tomorrow will be my day to be the chaperone. (Trust me, I'd rather conduct literature circles with the fifth graders, but most likely I'll be helping to build shelters out of tree bark or something - oh my! May God be with me.) Seriously, I know how very lucky I am to have such a healthy and happy little gal. It's hard to believe she's finishing fifth grade - the grade Christi just started before her chapter of life came to a crashing halt. Even though she never got to go to Outdoor Ed, I am certain she would have LOVED that aspect of school too!

Shay's 5th grade Science Project

Music Program Scrapbook Page

Family Dinner! They're back!!

Shayla with her two grandmas: her "middle name" namesakes HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO OUR AWESOME MOMs and to Shay's awesome grandmoms!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Dig

While I got to go to lunch with a favorite teacher of ours, Mr. Paul Jones (that amazing man who also subbed for me when Christi was so sick and I was in Philly with her), Shayne got to chaperone Shayla's field trip today.

She went with her HEIGHTS class to participate in an archaeological dig of the Johnson's Island Civil War Prison. They both had an amazing time. (I think they're pretty tired too.)
I'm so glad she got to go as learn so much. Her class had twice been to Heidelberg to meet with the professor in preparation for this experience. (And I KNOW Christi would have absolutely loved it too!) COOL STUFF!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

No Real News, but perhaps a little Christi sign (and scrapping)

"A BEDROOM" Shayla's art project from school where she has loved art this year and done amazing things!

Friday morning I completed my (2nd) Freshman Year at BGSU! And what a Freshman year it was! (Soooooooo much better than my one as a student back in the 80s - and I thought THAT Freshman year was grand!) I am incredibly blessed!

I am continuing to work on an article I am writing about how schools should handle the death of a student and I hope that will be ready to submit for possible journal publication very soon. I am also preparing for my upcoming trip to Italy where I will (thankfully) avoid what would have been Christi's 13th birthday on May 12th! Holidays, birthdays - they're very, very tough, I will admit.

Shayla had another great week! I can't say enough about the Tiffin City school system. Shay was selected to be a representative from her school for the "24 Math Challenge" where students from area schools competed against each other with their math minds. She was so happy to go and to see many of her friends from other schools. Like her father, she's quite the social one! I enjoyed watching her, and all of the kids, compete for a couple of hours before having lunch with a friend on Thursday morning. She's been working on memorizing her lines for the school play. This afternoon she will have a friend over so they can "work on their lines for thes school play" together (wink - I'm sure it's just an reason to have a friend over, smile). Shayla has the part of Martha Washington - oh, yes - another excuse to wear that lovely jr. bridesmaid dress from Tiffany & Chris's wedding last July.

Wednesday morning took me a school about an hour and a half away to conduct some teacher training regarding literacy. As I was waiting for the teachers to file in for their before school one hour literacy in-service, I found I was a bit nervous. Then I looked down and something caught my eye and gave me an intense sense of calm. It was Christi's colored pencil box! I had placed them at the various tables in the room for the teachers to use during one of my simulation exercises. I had been nervous, but seeing Christi's name in her precious little handwriting (complete with "hearts" for the letter i's") at the table directly in front of me was sweet, very sweet. In packing up my materials to prepare to go to their training, I just grabbed a couple boxes of colored pencils - little did I know I had a very special one with me. Thank you, God!

Friday night we enjoyed a family bike ride to one of Shayla's friend's homes in town where we scooped the gal up and all went to the Dairy Queen. Yesterday we got our Cedar Point season passes processed. (Shayla already had a friend call her and make plans to go on Opening Day. She can't wait.) And then we cheered on the horses and Calvin Boral in the Kentucky Derby! Tonight, ahhhhhhhh, tonight....we're having mom and Joe over for dinner. They just made it back home from Florida! God is good! I've missed them TERRIBLY!!!

Over recent weeks, Shayla has done a ton of scrapping for her 4H project. She's far from done, but I hope you enjoy her work:

Here's wishing you and yours a fabulous weekend! ENJOY!