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, August 31, 2010

Little Update

After some wonderful breaks meeting friends to walk or to have breakfast in recent days, I've been kindly reminded I haven't updated for a while. All is well! (OK, I'm stressed, but it's all truly fine. I love what I'm doing; I just feel like I don't have enough time to get it all done! I spent 13 hours on campus yesterday and still didn't finish with my work - yikes! And seriously, I just want to curl up with two new books I got at the library yesterday, but....) So to take a break from my work (preparing for classes, some upcoming workshops, some writing, some grading, etc.), I'm going to post some great shots my mom took on Friday because that was a blast. We spent the day on South Bass Island at Put-in-Bay. It was a gorgeous day, very relaxing and wonderful. I'm so lucky to have mom and dad in my life!

Shayne's humor: As we were leaving the island, I texted Shayne we were heading back to Port Clinton. He said, "OK. The guys and I were wondering how long one could stay on the island without stepping into a bar," (knowing the three of us don't drink alcohol). I texted back, "4 1/2 hours!" He said, "I'll let them know. We couldn't imagine."

Angela's humor: It's hard to believe but my new little car has 10,000 miles on it so I took it in for the check up. When it was ready I said, "Now I have two questions. I've not been able to figure out how to get the back windshield wiper to work. I've looked and looked in the book, but I can't find it anywhere." (Now I wish I wouldn't have asked the question in front of THREE gentlemen, but I did.) They all three started chuckling at me and one said, "You don't have a back windsheild wiper." So I didn't miss a beat I said, "OK, that must be why it's not in the book. Next do I use the phone via voice dialing commands?" (They had to show me that one! Whew!!)

ONE MORE OF ANGELA's STUPID MISTAKES: I always like to go to my classroom at least a half hour in advance. It allows me time to set the classroom tables/chairs up the way I want them and also to get the technology up and working. I loaded up my cart in my office. (I tend to take a small ton of things to every class I teach.) Got in the elevator, pushed the cart down the hall to the classsroom and then as I approached the door I could see my boss was still teaching in there. I couldn't believe she ran over, but it appeared she did. As time ticked on, I was getting nervous that I only had 15 minutes to set up. I think it's important to greet my students at the door and to make small talk with them, but I can't do that until I have everything all ready to go. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer, I opened the door, started pushing my cart in and said, "Do you mind if I just start getting the techonolgoy set up?" She looked at me in an odd way and then said, "Well, if you really need to, but you don't teach for another 45 minutes. I'll be done in 15." Oh, yikes! I had the wrong class time.

VERY COOL IN MY LITTLE WORLD: I had a really sweet thing happen on Monday - the first day of school at BGSU. As I was leaving campus, I saw a "Seneca East" tee shirt and recognized the student as one of my former students. I beeped and waved. I sent an email: "You made my day! On your first day of school, I got to see you as your kindergarten teacher. On your first day of junior high, I got to see you as your seventh grade teacher and on your first day of college, I got to see you! I don't know if you recognized me or not, but you waved. I was the crazy lady in the white car, eating a chicken sandwich with one hand and beeping at you with the other." I received a very kind email back! Sweet! Yesterday I ran into another SE 2010 grad too who is also doing very well and so far loving BGSU. How lucky I am!

Shayla continues to love middle school, everything about it actually. We've learned she's first chair flute which I found quite odd since she took her flute to school and I've never seen or heard it since. (Don't think we'll be keeping that first chair position very long that way, cough.)

(PIC: A blast from the past! 1972 to be exact. Our family vacation to Pennsylvania. I wish I remembered it, but I don't. We've had a lot of fun with these pictures mom scanned. THANKS, Mom!)

(I know I've posted this picture before: Christi's first day of 3rd grade, but at this time of year it's hard not to go back and review how much the girls have grown - and to realize how much I miss Christi and how hard September can be. After bawling my eyes out with a student after class yesterday, who lost her mom to cancer when she was only 9 years old, I've vowed I'm going to be just fine this September (but maybe I really won't be just so fine after all, but I will try very hard to be just fine).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ready for Fall Now

(PIC: Christi, one year, 1998 - note all of her baby pictures across the cabinet. I had her pictures taken every three months. I'm so glad I did. I treasure them!) Shayla came home from school Friday afternoon and basically slept until Saturday mid-morning. Her ear had really been hurting her. Thankfully, the medicine and the prayers are working and she’s now feeling almost better. I think she will have a great week!

Classes also start at BG tomorrow and I couldn’t be happier about that! I’m sooooo excited about meeting my 65 students for the semester and getting started. (Being so far removed from Seneca East and the constant “Christi reminders” really, really helps! I am so lucky to have my new job!) I again have a sweet schedule; it’s exactly the same as last year’s: three total classes, (which I taught both semesters last year) two total preps and juniors and seniors – ahhhhhh! My new GA, who will work ten hours a week for me, has already been working on the assignment list I’ve given her. She seems like a great gal. It’s hard to believe last year’s is now off teaching – wow! I was also very pleasantly surprised to receive a letter that I got a raise! I knew my peers had voted for me to receive merit based on the documented evidence of my work submitted for my first year, but I didn’t comprehend that was directly tied into any salary increases. So what a surprise blessing that was!

We have the second largest freshmen class in the 100 year history of the university starting tomorrow – nearly 4,000 freshman (a 15-20% increase). Typically, there are about 60-70 Middle Childhood majors in each class; on Saturday, we had a workshop/meeting for 100 freshmen Pre Middle Childhood majors. We stressed (to those very nervous incoming freshmen) BG’s requirements are higher than the state of Ohio’s because we don’t want to prepare teachers who have just minimum standards and that every single class is important in establishing GPA and getting accepted into our Middle Childhood program. Hopefully, they understand the seriousness of the situation and that they will work hard and do well so that they can stay. I was also able to spend precious time with my sweet friend, Beth, who was in BG for the weekend! Yipee!

On Friday, I finally got my home computer totally restored and my work computer was returned to my office. It took what seemed like forever, but now it’s done and I can quickly locate everything I need. (That's why I have all of the old Christi Pictures here today!) I no longer have excuses for not getting that cemetery plaque ordered so I will definitely do it this fall! I have the file of my ideas. I promise you, sweet Christi, you’ll have that marker soon!

I was asked about my publishing, so I will briefly share here. (I think it’s been going great – or I’m having fun at least!) I thought I had to have six publications in peer reviewed journals in three years; in fact, it’s six publications in six years as one of my tenure requirements. (Three in my first three years.) Thankfully, I’ve already made my first three year assignment as I have three in my first year. Praise God! “The Rewards of Teaching” will be published in February 2011 in “Middle Ground”. “Reading Globally” published by Corwin Press in September will contain a Classroom Vignette I was asked to write by the authors and got to work through the editing process with their editor. My piece for the American Reading Forum has been accepted, but needs a bit of revision. That should come out by January. God is good!

Now that amazing husband of mine on the other hand does not need to do any publishing for his job, yet he sure "upped me" as he was asked by a national quarry journal to write an article about his business. Not only are they printing the article, but guess who will be pictured on the front cover?! Amazing,eh?! The magazine is not out yet, but he's there, as cute as ever, wearing his jeans, hard hard and gorgeous smile on a full cover glossy front shot. (And he's so good looking I had to joke, "They're using you as the centerfold too, aren't they?! hee hee!)

This summer, I submitted two pieces (one dealing with the death of a student, the other with some of my dissertation research). Both were rejected. I’ve reworked and resubmitted both pieces to two other journals – perhaps better fits. We will see. I should know something by October. It is a long process. The third piece I’ve been working on this summer will be submitted by Friday and actually I will be submitting one more to yet another publication later on this week. When I met with my faculty mentor last week he was incredibly impressed with the work I’ve done over the summer. Additionally, I’ve received Human Subjects Review Board approval for a study I’m conducting in one of my classes this fall regarding a writing approach for middle schoolers and I have a couple other items of interest on my plate that I will be spending lots of time working on this fall and I fully intend to again catch up with friends and family too!

And for some really fun things: We have about 10 BGSU freshmen from the little Seneca East class of 2010 starting classes tomorrow!! I’ve emailed all of them welcoming them to campus and promising them free food when they want it. I can’t wait to hear how they are doing and I hope they will let me know if they need anything. I’ve promised not to ever invade their space or privacy. It’s been nice to hear back from many of them. I know they will all do very well!

This time of year (when Christi was diagnosed – September 2002, and when she died – September 2006) can be terribly, terribly hard so I continue to take stock of all of the good things in my life to help me get through it. When Christi was diagnosed, I felt like I was robbed of everything and that I would never be truly happy again. I’m not saying I don’t miss her terribly, wonder what she’s be like as a high school student today, wish I could have had more time with her and cry uncontrollably at times – I do; but, I am thankful I got to be her mom (what a gift!), thankful I was sitting beside her when she left this world and thankful I’ve had so many positives in life to help me through my darkest days. It’s almost like the years have helped dull my pain and I now can experience true joy, happiness, peace and love again. I am so blessed! Thank you, God!

SHAYLA FUNNY: (A MIDDLE SCHOOL MOMENT) When Shayla walked into the house on Friday after school she wasn’t carrying a thing. I inquired, “Where’s your bookbag?” She responded, “I didn’t have any homework.” Knowing very well her cell phone (her new life connection with her middle school girl friends calling and texting each other ) was in that bag so I inquired, “Where’s your cell phone?” Oh, I wish I would have had a video camera on her little face. What a hoot! It immediately fell as the fact that her social life was cut off for the weekend hit her. I’m willing to bet she will be more careful in the future.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thanks a million for the sweet sweet comments and well wishes. Thankfully, Shay had a great first day of middle school! I wish I could say the second went as well, but....things happen as we all know. This picture is of the start of her 2nd day of middle school. All too soon I was picking her up from school and taking her for a visit to the doctor. She now has some medications for "Swimmer's Ear" (guess a wee bit too much summer fun) and hopefully she will feel better soon. She's really hurting. Other than not being able to master her locker combination, she had a super day of school yesterday and was so very happy about it all. What a relief to this mom! Praise be to God!

I also had yet another fantastic day on campus yesterday - again another day full of meetings, but I still love it all and am learning so much. I am feeling much less stressed about my second year than I was last year. Yesterday, I was also invited to be part of a research project so I am thrilled to have this opportunity handed to me by some colleagues I really admire. It will deal with literacy at an urban Toledo middle school school and be a nice little extra income bonus. I truly can't believe I won't have to jump through all of the hoops and to collect any data. I will "just" get to analyze and write what was previous collected for me - yippee! I can't wait to get started reading!

Finally, I've LOVED hearing from my students who are now starting their first year as teachers. THANK YOU for emailing me your schools and positions!! It's been awesome to find out where you ended up. (Remember how stressed you were in May thinking you'd never find a job?!) I'm soooooooo proud of you and soooooooo happy for you too. Now those of you who are teaching in southern states, don't be surprised if I show up in your door step! Remember, I want you to put me to work and to let me teach with you so invite me in. (It'll be "payback" time: You can give me all of those "sweetiepies" who challenge you and you can sit back and enjoy yourself watching me struggle!!) Best wishes! Go Falcons!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day of Middle School

(PIC: Shay entering her new middle school on her first day of school)

Despite Shayla waking up with a horrible ear ache which vividly brought back memories of waking Christi up for her first day of school when she had terrible back pain that morning, but was so excited about starting school, Shayla too headed off for her first day of school. This time a first for our family - MIDDLE SCHOOL!

Orientation went very well last night (after she got her locker combination done) and it was nice to meet her teachers. She was so happy to see her friends.

After some prayers, she took off for school. I'm already anxious to hear how her day went - and she just left!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Last Week of Summer - Happy Half BDay Shay

We have been enjoying our last full week of summer vacation before school starts next week. After a lovely weekend at the lake, Monday morning Shayla talked me into going on "The Raptor" with her at Cedar Point. I could only ride a few more rides after that and then we had to head for the shopping mall. (I hadn't ridden it since May 2006 when I rode it with Christi for her first and last time. Funny what age has done to me in more ways than one! I just can't take those wild rides like I used to enjoy.) Shayla will be heading back to the point again next week with a school friend so hopefully she can ride more "wild and crazy" rides then. She always says, "It's ok mom. I understand. Remember I used to be scared too. Remember, I was afraid of "It's a Small World" at Disney? I always thought the boat was going to sink."

We were very pleased Tuesday with Shayla's new middle school's meeting for the honors math and English students. I'm totally amazed and impressed with all of their advanced options for these students. Additionally, we've learned their new advanced sixth grade science class is one of just four schools in the state to offer it. I think Shayla will have a challenging and exciting year. She's ready to go now! (Whew! I love her attitude!)

Shayla truly enjoyed an overnight visit at her great aunt and uncle's newly remodeled home while I went to BG to give a speech this week. It was great to be back on campus! I saw a few students and I CANNOT WAIT for classes to start! I went up to the Country Club in BG because I was asked to be the Featured Speaker for the New Teacher Luncheon. When I woke Shayla up this morning, the first thing that sweetie pie said was, "How was your speech mom?" (She knew I was nervous and had been practicing and practicing as I told her there would be over 100 people in attendance and it was really my first time to be out in the BG community, outside of the university.) I told her, "I honestly think it was the best speech I've ever given and I couldn't have done any better. They were laughing, crying and all intently focused on me and what I was telling them. I had at least six administrators come up to me after and ask for my card and thank me for sharing and I've received some very complimentary emails telling me what a gift I have." (Shocking really. I think they most appreciated the fact that I told the room full of new teachers and administrators that if they found that teaching didn't make their heart sing to get out. You can't do something well if your heart is not in it and why make your life and the learning experience of students miserable. Life's too short not to be happy with your work.) It really wasn't a downer speech (quite humorous and light hearted actually) but I really feel passionate about that so I just had to squeeze that in there. It was also awesome to see a couple of my former BGSU students in that room - so excited about their new classrooms and starting their careers. They will be awesome!

Shayla received a favorite lunch and dinner for her 11 1/2 birthday today. We all went in the laundry room and put her mark on the wall. I'm simply shocked at how much she's grown in the past six months. She is now taller than I was at 12.

It's been such a nice leisurely week, having a campfire with neighbors/friends and the kids overnighting in our camper with Shayne the Chaperone - what a hoot!

Our thoughts are with the Mason family as they grieve the loss of their most awesome mother/wife - Irene. She was a great role model to me in how a mother should be. As I shared with her kids at the funeral home, often times when I didn't really want to go the extra mile and do extra things for the girls I would think of Irene and know she would have done it for her kids, and I always loved how they were so doted on, so I went above and beyond for my girls too (and continue to do so). Without a doubt, she loved her children. She will be missed and I hope she's now fussing over Christi in Heaven. (I'm sure Christi could benefit by sweet Irene fixing her clothes and her hair because Christi didn't stop to take care of those things, she had better things to do - like play, play play!) Rest in peace, Irene.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

State Fair Sewing - 4H

After an incredibly short trip to my sister and her husband's home, so that Shayla could visit with her cousins and get all of her school shopping started and finished, we returned just in time for Shayla to represent her county with her sewing project at the state fair. Shayla's Godmother (and my Godmother, aunt Marty) made the trip with us and I'm so glad she did. It was wonderful to spend time with her and we all had a ball after the morning judging session and style show were finished.

When Shayla's name was called for making the Top 20% "Outstanding of the Day", I screamed. I really couldn't believe it. (Sorry, Shayla! I must be sooooo embarassing.)

Our thanks to one of her awesome 4H advisers, and one of my former colleagues, for teaching her how to sew. Shay Shay already has ideas for next year. My gratitude to all of the wonderful 4H volunteers who make so many amazing things happen for these kids and their families - THANK YOU!

Walking (or should I say "floating") off of the stage with her Top 20% ribbon.

Her 10 minute interview with the judge went very well she said. "She didn't even look at one page of my book though." You never know what the judge may ask or want to see. Too funny!

Shayla and her Great Aunt Marty enjoying the fair.

Riding the Chair Lift over the midway at the state fair. We all three agreed, "We've always wanted to do that." It was definitely a highlight!

I hope the Christi Thomas Family Night at the Seneca East Public Library was a success!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Seneca East Public Library - Christi Thomas Family Night

You are all welcome to attend the Christi Thomas Family Night we've helped to sponsor at the Seneca East Public Library in Attica. There is no charge to attend and we think your whole family will have a very nice time. Join us if you can - Thursday, in Attica, at 7:00 PM. Christi loved libraries and we are happy to help sponsor this event for the third year! Read on!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Watch Shayla's face - it is so funny! She finished the trail competition and we all thought she did really, really well, perhaps earning first or second place out of all of the girls. This 11 second video clip shows her face when she learned she was disqualified. First, she's smiling for the winner, then it hits her she didn't place, then she looks over to Shayne like, "What happened?" After I quit videoing it hit her, "I forgot to do the 180," she said laughing. In trail class if you don't follow the pattern exactly (and this one was very complicated) you are disqualified. All of the girls, except for one, forgot something and were out. Oops! Enjoy the little clip. Her face makes me laugh out loud!

2010 County Fair

After a very long, hot and fabulous week at the fair, Skeeter is back at "Lane of Dreams" and we are home. It was an amazing week. I have hundreds of photos of Shayla (Imagine that, wink) and I will share some as time permits. I'm finally home catching up and Miss Shayla is off "splunking" with a church youth group today, exploring a cave. What fun!

Friday morning Claire said, "How would Shayla like to show Duke? We brought the dragon costume if you have a princess costume for her to wear. We'll enter her in the "Costume Class". I said, "Do I have a princess dress for Shayla? I even have matching red boots!" They told me to see if she wanted to do it and to run home to grab the dress and an iron for the dragon costume. When I went back to our camper to wake up Shayla and ask her if she wanted to show Duke she said, "Mom! Are you serious? This is a dream come true!" She has told us that riding Duke (the Tiffin University mascot - well, according to the Equestrian Team) is on her "Bucket List". This was close enough and they won 4th place.

The "Princess" getting ready to show Duke in his TU Dragon costume. I think this picture is sooooooooooo funny! (And she said the red boots are too small and hurt her feet. "The judge won't see under my long dress anyway.")

Her pickles may not have won anything at the county fair, but it sure brought us a lot of smiles!

Shayla, still in her English clothes since the horse show ran so late, watching Supershowmanship with one of her awesome 4H advisers and cheering on Matt and Leah. Fun times!

Shayla was THRILLED that two of the 4Hers who qualified for "Super Showmanship" (means they won showmanship for their animal and get to try their hand at showing ALL of the fair animals for the big event Saturday night) asked her to teach them how to show a horse (Both AWESOME SE kids and sweet former students of mine). Shayla said, "Mom, that was another dream come true! I've always wanted to teach someone how to show a horse!" (Congrats to beautiful Leah who came in 4th overall! Wow!)

Congrats to Matt who came in 3rd overall in the Supershowmanship Competition! Impressive, very impressive!

This was certainly a "highlight" for all of us! Shayla talked her dad into entering the "Generation Gap" competition. The riders have to be at least ten years apart in age. The older rider goes first while the younger riders stand in the middle and then they switch. There were 19 groups of riders entered and needless to say they didn't place, but they had a good time. Check out Shayla laughing and cheering and shouting directions to her dad while he competes. What a hoot!

Go, Shayne! You're doing great!

A quiet moment with Skeeter during Showmanship

English Riding. We all thought this was the category where Shayla improved the most over last year.

We were pleased Shayla wanted to try contesting on Monday night. She's so cautious so it was nice to see her "race" - well, as much as Skeeter will "race" - hee hee!

A smile with Western Pleasure. Shayla had a rough year in terms of winning ribbons on her horse this year. Last year she won the overall beginner division so we skipped intermediate and put her right in to the advanced division this year. She won a lot of 4th and 5th places out of 5 and 6 entries most of the time. She wasn't discouraged and said she still had fun. I love that little sweetie's amazing attitude! (And although I wanted her entered in intermediate division this year Shayne said, "She needs to play with the big kids and see she needs to work harder to get better. You don't get better without competition.")

Late last night as we sat around the kitchen table eating some Chinese food I made after a long week, we shared our favorite and least favorite memories of the 2010 County Fair. Shayla said, "The dance!" was her favorite thing about the fair. As you can see, she had a blast. We turned the horse arena into the "dance floor". The dirt ("footing") was so soft and fluffy it was like sand. She was with her 4H Horse friends playing "Horse" for hours while Shayne and I played cards with fellow parents and even got to square dance with them too. Great times! The dance was my favorite part of the week too!

She enjoyed competing in the "Ride and Run" for the first time this year.

Go, Skeeter boy, go!

State Fair Judging: She did not score in the Top 20 percent with either one of her projects (Arts as an Expression & Designing Interiors) but we had a wonderful time with mom and Traci and her "boys" at the State Fair.

Yep, check it off my "Bucket List"! I've now seen the Butter Carved Statue at the Ohio State Fair! It was bigger than I expected! While I'm glad they are going to recycle it, I'm glad that won't be done at BGSU, but another Ohio university.

Enjoying the Ohio State Fair on Thursday with Traci

Help with the ice cream from Grandma Nonee! We went to the State Fair on the anniversary of my father's death. We both thought it was nice that Shayla gave us something "fun" to do on such a sad day.