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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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Holiday

The night I ordered Christi's grave marker, I didn't sleep well. At one point, I went to my computer and pulled up Facebook. Imagine my surprise - the very first thing I saw was a few pictures of Christi I don't believe I had ever seen before posted on the site of Traci (aka "Harriett") just a couple of hours earlier - wild. I found it very comforting. I told myself it was the sign from Christi saying, "You did it, mom! Yes! I'm finally getting a marker!" (Christi absolutely adored everything about the wonderful Traci so it just had to be my sign!)

Ironically, Traci also posted a few of our pictures taken together at Disney World in 2004. Little did Traci know that in a matter of hours the Thomas team would be heading back there for Thanksgiving. Thank God for Traci and for the many blessings of comfort I've received over so many years! Thank you!

Waiting for the Electrical Light Parade to begin, December 2004

With Mickey Mouse!
Thankfully, Traci's stomach could handle the tea cups - and boy can that girl spin a fast teacup! Impressive!

My birthday was sweet! Thursday after school Shayla asked me to drop her off at the Christian bookstore. (Thanks to Shayne cluing me in, I agreed to do so.) I parked on one side of the street and she had to cross the street (by herself) to get to the store on the other side of the street. Shayla had never crossed the street by herself before and as I sat there watching her walk to the light, wait and then cross I just kept thinking how we've protected her and now she was probably going to get hit and killed by a car. We protected and cared for Christi just as much and yet she died too. Oh, watching Shayla take such a big step, right before my eyes, was really odd. Because we were flying to Florida very early Friday morning she wanted me to open my gift Thursday night so I did.

She drew me an awesome picture and gave me a wonderful bible saying, "See mom! I am giving you love letters, hundreds and hundreds of them from God!" For weeks she had been asking me what I wanted for my birthday and I continued to say over and over, "You know I love your writing, and there's nothing more personal or that I could ever treasure more. Write me a letter. Write me a love letter."

Months ago I learned my proposal to present a session at the National Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (NCTE) was selected. What was thrilling to me was that the conference was to be held at the Walt Disney World Resort and that it was incredibly close to Thanksgiving break. Shayne agreed to go along and we spent an incredible time soaking up the sun and really enjoying each other's company. It was amazing, definitely one of the very best vacations we've ever had! What a blessing! I hope you enjoy some pictures!

Taking a break during my NCTE conference and relaxing at the resort with sweet Shayla. While we had been to Disney about six times, we'd never stayed at a Disney property before. Thanks to this conference we did! And we loved it! (OK, throughout the week all three of us took turns reading "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins so we pretended Disney was the Capital and we couldn't escape - we were trapped (wink). What fun my family is! (OK, a bit warped too, but it's ok by me!)

With Jack Gantoz (author of the Joey Pigza books)

Meeting one of her favorite authors, Margaret Peterson Haddix author of "Found" "Sent" "Among the Hidden" and others Shayla has read, loved and recommended to my college students.

(With Gennifer Choldenko, the author of "Al Capone Does My Shirts" and a few others) This is her new book.

Shayla got to meet another one of her favorite authors, Ally Carter. Shayla was incredibly surprised to see her. She said, "I was just reading 'Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover' last night in my bed and now here you are!" (I thought she was very young and incredibly beautiful. What an awesome inspiration for Shayla to get to meet her as she's pondering careers.)

I'm really not sure who enjoyed my conference more! hee hee! For the little writer wanna be it was awesome! As she visited many of the exhibitor's booths with me she made a great analogy, "This is like Trick or Treating for teachers." I too was surprised at how many free books were being given away by various publishers. I actually mailed over 23 pounds of free books back home - amazing! When we saw Gordon Korman (author of Swindle, Zoobreak, and many other hilarious books), our mouths dropped as we said, "Gordon Korman!" She also got to see Lois Lowry (Author of "The Giver", "Number the Stars" "Gathering Blue" and probably others). I told Shayla many teachers go all their careers without meeting more than a few authors and there we were, author after author after author of many of our beloved books, too cool!

Shayla enjoyed swimming in the Coronado Resort's pool with her awesome daddy.
Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) Shayla enjoyed this attraction so much we had to do it twice - what fun for her!

Happy Thanksgiving, Mickey Mouse!

Waiting for the parade and enjoying some Mickey shaped ice cream, so special!

with Donald Duck

Our last day at the hotel, a beautiful rainbow formed over the pool. Shayla reminded us that it was the sign for God's promise.

When my awesome conference ended, we moved to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort - wow! This was the view from our balcony! Each morning we woke up and enjoyed the zebras, etc. right from our balcony. It was amazing! Christi would have absolutely loved staying there too!
At EPCOT Shayne enjoyed sharing his love of history with Shayla. Then we proceeded to tell her the story of when we were in college, the traveling exhibit came to Columbus. We scraped together our money and went. At the gift shop, we wanted to purchase one of the little replica terra solider for sale. We didn't have the money then. We told her how we even looked in the tub of the broken ones because they were cheaper, but we just didn't think we should spend any money on that. Then of course we did our usual, get good grades, get in to a good college and get a good job and life is much eaiser talk. Poor Shayla, she's so tired of hearing about our poor college days I think.

Animal Kingdom

Enjoying our Segway Tour around Celebration - Disney's planned community/town. We all loved it!

Shayne took Shayla to a shooting range where she shot a pistol and a machine gun. She's not yet sharpshooter Olympic caliber, but she wants to learn more about the sport and to try again. "Oh" I said, trying to be an open minded (yet totally freaked out) mother.

Shay with Mickey and Minnie Mouse (Sadly, she did not remember any of the previous times she had been to Disney with Christi. We were really surprised and she kept asking questions and questions, "Did I ride that with Christi?" "Did I like the parade?" It was really interesting (and heartbreaking at times) to say the very least.

On Thanksgiving night we got her a turkey "holiday" meal at the hotel. It was very awkward. Other than sharing what we were all thankful for, (health, family/friends, work) we ate in silence. Sometimes we just miss Christi so bad it hurts. I think going away for the holiday helps, but she's still not with us. After dinner we went to Downtown Disney and took in "Tangled" - a hilarious movie we all enjoyed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Despite bile rising, I made it inside the monument store and tried my best to order Christi's grave marker. I'm "close" - just a few things they are checking on for me. I really didn't want to have to ever go back in there again, but I will.

The gentleman told me I was in a different state of mind than when I was there before. (Thank you, but I didn't exactly need that reminder; I remembered myself and my behavior quite well without that comment.) He also apologized for not being able to get me a price quote for a few days. I responded, "No problem. It doesn't appear that I'm in any kind of rush now, does it? I've put this off for four years and two months, what's a few more days?!" At least I had him laughing at that one.

Then back in the car I knew I was going to get sick. I pulled over and talked with Shayne, telling him my stomach was a mess. He so kindly told me I was so brave and it must have been so hard.

(PICTURE: March 2006 at CHOP with awesome Traci and Jenn)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Real Big Step For Me

You most likely wouldn't think the English teacher in me would like this funny little kitten graphic, but I do! (And since this is about Christi and she LOVED kittens, I really do!)

I JUST MADE A REAL BIG STEP FORWARD! You'll never believe it! On Sunday, while Shayne cooked an awesome brunch, I made the final decisions on Christi's grave marker. Shayne said, "That's great! I'm really proud of you, Angela. I couldn't ever do it." On Monday, I called the monument place and made an appointment for Wednesday morning to order it.

The poor guy remembered me from when I was in his store four years ago, sitting at his desk. I burst into tears, got up, took Shayla's little hand and walked out. He said something like, "Oh yeah, it's coming back to me now. I know who you are; I remember you." At least he didn't come right out and say, "Oh, yes, you were the sad, crazy, wacky, rude lady who just got up and walked right out the door as I sat at my desk looking up prices. Now here you are four years later actually coming to order this puppy, well the price has gone up - a lot!"

Seriously, I'm very, very happy with myself. I can't believe I did it! I'm ready - well, not really, but...... Now let's just see if I actually go through with my Wednesday morning appointment. Don't let me down now, dear Lord! I really don't want to do a repeat performance! That was quite embarassing and precious Christi deserves a lovely marker at her grave site memorializing her life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another Little Update

All is well. Another busy, yet normal week here. I picked Shayla up a bit early from middle school one day as she wanted to speak to my classes and tell them what they should and shouldn't do as teachers. She is amazing! She put together a 45 minute PPT featuring her favorite books and other items she thought future reading teachers should know. My classes absolutely loved her - truly one of the best classes "I've" (cough) ever "taught".

I absolutely loved how she told them everything I do. I think it was just more meaningful coming from a sixth grader. "You have to work hard to really engage your students. Get them interested and excited about learning. Don't give them worksheets to do while you sit at your desk and read your email. We don't learn best like that. Remember not everyone learns the same way so present your information in various ways." Oh, it was PERFECT! My 40 students, in two classes, asked her wonderful questions. I was very proud of everyone. After classes ended, I treated the "little professor" to ice cream for her payment. (Good thing BG doesn't pay me in ice cream - hee hee!)

Shayla enjoyed overnighting with a friend Friday night while Shayne and I saw one of the best movies I've seen in a very long time. "Morning Glory" - we both really liked it! A great "Date Night" choice. If you get the chance, see it!

This week we also enjoyed the gorgeous weather in the 70s. Shayla had a few two hour fog delays so it was nice she was able to sleep in a bit. One more she woke up on time and said, "Were you cooking breakfast today? If so, what's for breakfast?" I said, "Bob Evans!" She thought that was a grand idea so we enjoyed a breakfast out before another late school start. I was also able to join a beautiful friend one day and an awesome husband another day for lunches outside - at TJ Willies, wow! It's November, just doesn't feel like it. God is good!

We will be heading to the Latin Mass later today. As we enjoyed our lunch (Shayne BBQed on the grill) outside on the picnic table yesterday, Shayla said, "What? It's all in Latin? I won't be able to understand any of it." She's been learning Greek & Latin roots with her amazing English teacher so we think she'll be able to figure some things out. We told her that masses were indeed said in only Latin when her grandparents were her age. She was shocked.

CONGRATS to Tiffin Columbian Football who won yet another state playoff game. It's been so much fun for our town. Shayla is convinced if they make it to the state final game, school will be cancelled so we can all go to Columbus - hee hee! Dream on, honey!

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

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Little Update

No worries, all is fine here! We are blessed!

Shayla's school won the first round of state football playoffs so that has been very exciting. Go, Tiffin!

We visited the cemetery yesterday and Shayla gave me a very hard time (as she should have) about not having a grave marker down yet for Christi. I told her I'd order it by Christmas. (Oh, God help me get it selected.)

Shayla enjoyed a birthday party this weekend while Shayne and I went out for a quiet dinner.

I spent part of last week in Baltimore where I presented with two Ohio State Professors a literacy session at the National Middle School Association's annual conference. Our session went very, very well - standing room only with over 100 in attendance. It was so nice to also have BGSU colleagues and about six of my students at the conference too. I picked up many wonderful ideas! My highlight though was spending an entire evening with a former high school classmate I don't get to see enough. He took me to an incredibly swanky, classy and chic place for dinner. It was absolutely amazing and we talked and talked and talked and talked! Any SE classmates who may be reading this - Kip is doing great and he will be coming home for our 25th class reunion this summer (can't wait).

This weekend we went to see a horse that just happens to be for sale. I loved the name "Slick Assets" (registered name) "Romy" for the name-name. Shayla loved the horse. (Imagine that!) Shayne is having someone else, who actually knows about horses take a look at it for us. Hmmmmmmm. We'll see what this all means. I continue to say we have Christi's two pets - no more pets! Two is plenty. This one though would at least be housed elsewhere (Or should I say barned?). I guess "boarded" would be correct.

Got new boots for the little one (Thanks, Grandpa) and new ice skates, specially molded to fit her feet, as skating lessons start back up this week. Grades were great: all As and a B+ in Honor's Math. When we asked her teacher about the class and how she was doing he told us that only the top 8% of all of the kids in her class (over 200) are in that highest level math class. (There are two advanced levels) so we thought that was great. Regardless, Shayla was still disappointed with the B.

I've often heard that when you see your name in your very first publication, there's nothing like it. You will always remember where you were and who was with you. Well, I'll never forget!

The book my former OSU professors asked me to write a class vignette in arrived. I was standing in the kitchen with Shayne and I tore the box open as soon as I realized what it contained. I found the page, skimmed it and told Shayne. He didn't stop but said, "That's really nice, honey." That was three weeks ago and he still hasn't read it, but my sister really did it up right.

She stopped everything. Sat down and read it right in front of me. Aren't sisters grand?! (Or maybe it's just a girl thing?!) I don't know, but regardless, I'm happy! And next time I will write the whole book and ask my former professors to just write a little piece in my book (he he heheee!) Oh, I can always dream!

Our weekend highlight was our Book Discussion held yesterday at a coffee shop in town. Last Saturday, on our way to BG, Shayla asked for a really good book to read, one that she could do a book chat on for her Advanced English class. I immediately responded, "The Hunger Games" - it's all the rage with middle school students (and adults too). It's really a different concept and not your preferred genre, but I think you could give it a try." I told her a little about the book and that I wanted to read it too. She agreed so we stopped and bought the book. One chapter in to the book and I knew Shayne would enjoy it too so he also started reading it. The next thing we know we are all hooked, but there is a big problem - one book, three readers. Thankfully, Shayne took the 2-4 am shift. Shayla took it with her to school so she could read between classes and while waiting for things. We only wished our sweet friend Olivia would be reading it with us and we joked about it all week. (However, we weren't going to invite her to our book club because we knew she'd finish it and the two sequels too before we finished the first one - hee hee!)
Over 300 pages, we all finished in seven days. Shayla asked if we could go someplace really special to discuss the book together since we had never done anything like this before so we did. What fun! Shayla claims it was the best book she's ever read. I found the concept to be a bit gruesome, but very thought provoking. Definitely not the best book I've ever read, but near the top of my list.

Here's wishing you and yours a fabulous week!