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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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The End of Shaylauary

The last time we were at Busch Gardens with Christi (February 2005), the birds flew to Christi and she was able to hold them. As hard as Shayla (only six) tried, they would not come to her. (Perhaps it was the fact she was overly excited, jumping up and down, sticking out her arm and saying, "Here birdy, birdy!") I remember feeling bad for Shayla then. Well, five years later, she got her turn - and loved it!
Beautiful Busch Gardens - Tampa, Florida
Shay and I were delayed nearly four hours (sitting in the Toledo airport, waiting for our plane to arrive so we could get on it and head off) trying to get to Florida late last week. Shayla is the almighty trooper! She, as always, was easily entertained with the items she packed (books and her DSi she received for Christmas from grandma Nee Nee). Well, I also handed her the iTouch BGSU gave me to figure out and to play with. Thankfully, we had those hours because much to my surprise and delight, the eleven year old showed ME how to use it. (And it is really incredible with all it can do!)

Arriving in Florida and finally seeing mom and Joe, made tears pour out of my eyes. I miss them terribly when they're gone in the winter and it was an incredible blessing to spend precious time with them. We are so blessed! When Paw Paw safely returned us to the airport to catch our flight home, again tears started to come as I know how much I will miss my parents until they return to us up north. Warm up soon, Ohio! We've got to get them back!!

Funny girl - acting like the birdies!

Call me old fashioned, crazy or silly, but I really enjoyed the free Chubby Checkers concert at Busch Gardens. Let's Twist Again!
Shay with her amazing grandpa. Not only did he ride roller coasters with her and play dominoes, he also played basketball with her.

Come home soon, mom and Joe! We miss you!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

An Amazing Experience

Did I say, "I love my job!" yet this week? If not, I'll do so now! This week I was blessed to be able to attend an absolutely outstanding school. Clearly, it was the most remarkable and amazing school I have ever visited. The cultural diversity, the positive and extremely high caliber teachers, the incorporation of technology and effective teaching strategies based on the M.O.R.E. Approach (Multiple Options for Results in Education) was more than impressive! It was easy to see what it has received national awards. I just kept thinking I wish I had a group of my BGSU students with me. Hopefully, next year!

I learned a ton and I can't wait to get back to Ohio (OK, I heard there's a lot of snow there, maybe I can wait - wink) to share my experience with my students and colleagues. (The teachers even wrote their own book I'm in the midst of reading, "It's All About Kids: Every Child Deserves a 'Teacher of the Year'".)

In speaking with the Head Master I learned she has many applicants who want to teach there, but the bottom line is they are not willing to work as hard as they must to get to teach at that school. Additionally, the teachers all train and learn together each Tuesday after school for two hours. She feels that has really brought the staff together.

Finally, she told me I could take all the pictures I wanted, as long as the ones of students were from a distance, and that I could post all I wanted as long as I posted a picture of their sign and said, "Independent Day School in Tampa, Florida rocks!" (And that is not a stretch by any means - it does!) I had forgotten how different the physical layout of schools in the south typically are so this one, with lakes, fountains, bridges, outside eating areas, etc. was radically different than our schools (often in one tight building) in northwestern Ohio.

I watched amazing lessons in seven different classrooms grades 4-8. Ironically, the very first female teacher's class I went to observe was a teacher named CHRIS THOMAS. I thought to myself, "Christi, stop it, you're freaking mom out here. This is too wild!"

While I was learning, Shayla was being spoiled by her grandparents. Strangely enough, she did not have school on Thursday or Friday, due to parent/teacher conferences, so coming with me was a richly added bonus! Being in Florida and not having homework to make up - ahhhhh! What joy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Electric Green? Ride On!

Ready to Ride! On Sunday we were able to go to the annual "horse garage sale" and buy Shayla a new (to her) used outfit to compete in this summer. (We were down to the very last aisle and we had looked for 1 1/2 hours, without any luck. Then- this one, a favorite color, a great fit and within my budget - Praise God!) She's all set now.....well, she just needs to decide WHICH HORSE she wants to lease this year. Skeeter has been a great horse for her the past two summers; however, he's not a "fast" horse and she says she wants to try to go fast. Skeeter is solid at the fair: good in trail, predictable, doesn't spook, but you can't trust him around a grain bucket. He'll push you over and take off for the food. Hmmmmm. Big decision and we're letting her make it.

Thankfully, the hat Traci (aka Hariett from COSI) gave Shayla for her first year of competitions still fits and looks great! Also, all of her English clothing we bought for her last year still fits, as do the English boots a sweet Blogger mailed her three years ago. THANKS! Much to my surprise and delight, the black boots we bought her in Amish country two years ago also fit. God is good! Now - pick that horse, Shay. You've got nearly 20 to pick from. (Yes, I'm serious!) Who will it be?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Final Party

Sunday was the final party. (OK, I guess it is Shaylauary and it will end with a bang at the end of the month too, but last Sunday's and this Sunday's parties were her final birthday parties....for a while.....I guess we haven't quite arrived at the end of the month, yet.) Shayla LOVED being with her cousins and with more friends!
You're not our little baby anymore, Shay, but we love you just the same. (OK, even more. You are just so nice and soooooooooooo much fun)

Thank God for friends!

They even put a bench in the snowman so you can sit a bit! Shayne said it was so hard emotionally, but those girls made him get through it. I couldn't have done it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Christi's Grave Marker

The Grave Marker

Well, the poor child may not have an official grave marker, marking her spot in the cemetery, but thanks to Shayla and her friend (and Shayne for driving them), Christi has a snowman marking her spot instead. Ya know, as much as I know Christi, I think she'd much prefer a snowman than a bronze plaque anyway. Thanks, Girls! I know I couldn't muster up the courage to go with you, but maybe next winter.

I still have such a hard, hard time at the cemetery. Seeing the pictures Shayne was sending me back at home from his phone, I had to actually smile at the thought of them perhaps making a snowman at the wrong grave and how Christi would absolutely delight at that mistake! Shayne assured me, they correctly found Christi's spot. Christi, I promise you, I'm going to get your grave marker ordered soon. Didn't sissy and hre friend do a great job? Do you remember when you made "Suzy the Snow Cheerleader" complete with pom poms out in the front lawn for me? I loved it. And I love you! Love, Mom

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The "New" Basement

With a little nudging from Shayla (and elbow grease from her too) we were able to finish the basement before her first birthday celebration on Friday, February 12th.

Our half size basement is really quite small, but we like how the new space turned out.

Shayla still has her "dance studio" in one section and Shayne has his work out area on the other.

It's a great feeling to be finished! Three new rooms in four weeks - whew! I wish I had a before and after picture for the basement, but if you would have seen the "before" you would not have believed it. It was that bad. I loved that big green plaid couch of my parents when they bought it in 1975, but it just didn't work so well in the basement. And the "stuff", oh the "stuff". This is a great feeling!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another Scrapping Day for Shay

Another snowy day gave Shay more time to "scrap".

Cassandra has left a new comment on your post "SSS: Shay's Scrapbook Suggestions":

I have a question--I hope it is not too late. Shayla, how do you scrapbook objects, that won't lay flat on a page? A special momento from something that you want to keep? I am assuming you can't add this to your scrapbook, but just wondered if you had any creative ideas about this.

Oh, good question! Now that is a very good question! You can add them. They won’t really do anything to your scrapbook. You’ll just have your page a little more lumped out. You don’t have to worry about it. You don’t need to press down or anything. It should be fine, unless it’s sharp on the edges and pokes through the plastic. Look at my blue "LIVING HISTORY" page. Those are actually buttons I just glued down. I also have stick out dots on the corners of my pictures on the Xmas morning page. They're not flat, but I think it adds a lot to the page by poking out some.Thanks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tigers to Falcons

I had the sweetest, yes, the sweetest surprise on Monday at work. Four of my former students were touring BGSU as "Prospective Students". Imagine my shock and surprise to see "my old kids" walking down the hall from my office! I really couldn't believe it! I was so flattered they came to find me; campus is huge. I had a great time sitting in my office (and also getting a bite to eat) just catching up with them. They are wonderful men and women! I couldn't believe how tall they are now! Where does time go?!

Regardless of whether they come to BGSU or not (and I think three are a definite YES), I hope they know I will never invade their space or their privacy, and I hope they always know they can count on me for help if they ever want or need it. (And let's face it, what college kid wouldn't like a free meal off campus?!) Seriously, I am so blessed! I tell my BGSU students quite often how rewarding teaching is as a career and I hope that they are as blessed in theirs as I have been in mine. Monday's visitors proved it to me again! Thanks, kiddos! Hope to see you back on campus as Falcons this fall! (NO, you can't borrow my faculty parking pass. That's where I draw the line! hee hee!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thanks, Scrapping Bloggers (or blogging scrappers?)

Thank you so much for your great tips, suggestions and questions. Shayla has responded in bold face type. Thanks to another snow day today, she can work on her 4H projects again. She LOVED answering your questions and learning from you. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Dear Shayla,

I have the most basic question: What exactly IS a scrapbook? (Sorry, that might sound stupid, but I'm from Europe and have never heard of something like that!). To me it looks like a sort of diary. What are you supposed to put into it? Does it have a topic? Or can you put in anything you like?

A scrapbook is basically a collection of photos and stickers or even little keepsakes you received while doing your activity or event that the scrapbook page is about. Your scrapbook can be events of a year or there can be a topic like one year I did theatre, or they can be about just one single event such as the county fair.

I think, that Shayla did an amazing job and as I am going to be an English teacher for German teenagers one day I think that I will keep this idea as an inspiration.

Take care, all of you,

Irene left a new comment on your post "SSS: Shay's Scrapbook Suggestions":

Dearest Shayla, it does my heart good to see you scrapbooking and enjoying it so much! As you know, I've been scrapbooking for about 15 years and I love it too! I do have a couple of questions for you... 1) What is your favorite subject to scrapbook?
My favorite scrapbook topic would be anything with really pretty scenery.
Why is this your favorite? Because I can add lots of really pretty stickers and mount it with really pretty paper and try to make it look really cool.
2) What is your favorite scrapbook product to use and why? I like stickers because they can really change the effect of the page whether you want it to be glamours or whether you want it to be funny.
It was so nice seeing your pages again. Keep up the fabulous work and I definitely will be shocked if you don't get a first place ribbon!

Great big hugs to you Shay!

Dear Shayla,

Thanks for letting us have a chance to comment on your scrapbooking! We don't have anything like it in Ireland (or, at least, it is not as popular as it seems to be in the US). When I was younger my grandmother's friend gave me an album that she had made out of pictures from greeting cards - perhaps that could be a source for you when you are looking for materials!

I have two questions:

First, your work looks so professional! How do you organise your scrapbook - is it by theme, or by date (like a diary)?

There really is no set way to organize your scrapbook, but I usually arrange mine by date.

Is it loose-leaved or a book bound together? I was thinking about what you said about re-doing pages and imagining that would be hard if it is bound together!

The scrapbook is bound together and then you have a whole bunch of plastic cases for the pages so you can add or take away some. So when you’re done with your pages you just slide them inside the scrapbook. There are other ways to do it, but that’s how I do mine.

Ok... maybe this makes it three questions...

How much do the pieces, like stickers etc, cost and where do you buy them?

Well, if an object isn’t on sale, it’s rather expensive. The stickers, depending if they are scrapbook stickers or just play stickers can range from $1 to $5 depending on how fancy it is. Paper goes on sale a lot so if it’s on sale it’s like $.50 a paper, but if it’s not on sale it’s $1 to $1.50. You need paper for mounting too so the paper cost adds up. We have a great scrapbooking store in Tiffin called “Scrap Happy” so I like to go there, but you can go to any craft store even Wal-Mart has paper. I also like to go to Hobby Lobby because they have all this great stuff, but it’s really far so I don’t get to go there often.
Best of luck with the project Shayla, I hope lots of people ask you questions so you do really well in 4-H!


Dear Shayla (and all of the Thomas team!),

I currently live in Greece, where scrap booking is not a big activity.
I am originally from the UK - where there too scrapbooking is not done much. Therefore my questions might seem quite basic (sorry!). Also please bear in mind we do not have craft shops or shops that sell scrap booking materials.

1) What materials do you need to scrapbook? I am guessing a book to put the pictures in, the paper, the photos and stickers etc to liven up the pages. What could one use, if one can't but a special scrap book?
Would a normal photo album work?

For scrapbooking, to make a basic scrapbook, you would need straight sharp scissors, colored papers, glue dots or glue tape, or rubber cement. Also, you need pens for labeling or a computer and you would need pictures and brochures and things from your trip or whatever you did. Then things you would want could include stickers that tie in with your theme. If you want your scrapbook to last a while you need to have acid free products. If it’s not acid free the papers will dissolve your pictures and things over the years.

I wouldn’t think a normal photo album would work because it’s usually divided into sections unless you cut your scrapbook pages into little sections. Then your pages would also be really tiny. I would also worry it wouldn’t be archive safe. I would suggest looking on-line for something.

2) How many pictures do you put to a page?
It depends on if you’re doing on page or two pages together. It also depends on how big your pages are and how big your pictures are and how many accessories and other things you have. I have put as little as one and as many as five on a page. Arrange it and trust you eye. Go with what looks good and don’t be afraid not to use all of the pictures. Too many things on a page makes it look cluttered.

3) How long does it take to complete a scrapbook? I know the answer will depend on how big the scrap book is - so for a small scrapbook with just a few pages how long does it take?

Well, a page that’s just getting the pictures mounted and down and just printing out the labels takes maybe an hour. Then I put it in the scrapbook plastic sheet, but I know it’s not really “done” but I wait until something hits me, like I get an idea, or something catches my eye for it then I will maybe add a few stickers or change something until I’m completely happy with it.

Thank you Shayla in advance for your answers to my questions - and if after your advice I start scrap booking, I will have you to thank!

with lots of love to all of you
Isabel x


I'm sure you use acid free paper and glue products for your scrap booking projects. I don't know if you can answer this, but it's been bugging me since scrap booking has become an art........

What is in acid free adhesive ("sticky") products that makes them acid-free? No clue! Good question! I do know that without it your paper and photos will fade and wouldn’t be preserved very well.
What was used before acid free products became the norm and why was it harmful?
(I think it has something to do with the way the paper can break down..??)

Finally-this is just a fun question......what do you think will be your next scrap booking project? Are you thinking an overall theme now that you know what the process involves?
No, I really haven’t started thinking about what I want to do next year yet.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

SSS: Shay's Scrapbook Suggestions

Shayla has been working on her 4H projects off and on since this fall. With last week's snow days she was able to get a lot of "scrapping" done for the scrapbook 4H project she's entering again this year. In addition to the scrapbook, there are other activities she must partake in, as well as complete a learning book. I thought her scrapbook was incredible last year for a first attempt. This year I agreed to let her do a full size scrapbook since she really enjoyed it last year and worked so hard. So far, I think this year's scrapbook is MUCH MUCH better than last year's scrapbook. We'll see what the judge thinks in July. Regardless, we will treasure her work and the memories she's captured.

For one of her activities, she has decided to answer questions others may have for her regarding scrap booking. If you'd like to have her answer your questions, please post a comment or email me at This will count for one of her "Leadership Activities" for the Scrapbook Project and she will share it with the judge.

Additionally, she's going to share with you a few tips. (Read below.) ENJOY!
(Check out the "Speech Bubbles" on this page. She told me what she was going to do and I couldn't figure it out. Well, this is what she meant and I totally love it. "Oh - io!")

1.) Tips for Mounting
a. When selecting the paper you will mount your pictures on, make sure that the color coordinates not only with the pictures, but also the color you have for your main paper.

2.) Tips for Stickers
a. Stickers look best when they’re visible, but not too obvious. That usually means the corner of a picture is usually a good place to put a picture.
b. Stickers should match in color coordination with the pictures and should match with the theme of the page. For example, you would not put a frog in a wedding picture – unless there WAS a frog (ha ha).

3.) Tips for When You Can’t Find the Color of Paper You Want
a. Try looking at common objects in the house such as construction paper or even index cards. They might be just the color you need and it saves you money.
b. Always check the back of your scrapbook papers. A lot of times there are different colors or patterns on the back too!

4.) Tips so You Don’t Have to Re-Do a Page
a. Be sure that if you see like a bar code on your paper, you cut the whole side of it off because they add that on and then it’d be too big to fit in your scrapbook.
b. There are two kinds of scrapbook sizes and you want to make sure your paper is the right size for your scrapbook. For example, so you don’t have the big page for the small size scrapbook or the small paper for the big size scrapbook. (Learn from my mistakes – ha!)

Have a Scrapping Question? Ask me - the expert (ha ha ha!) I'm not an expert, but I will try my best to answer your questions based on what I've learned so far with my scrapbooking. And I've made a lot of mistakes, but I try not to repeat them and instead learn from them. ASK SHAY YOUR SCRAPBOOK QUESTIONS! Post a comment for me and mom will give it to me to try to answer for you. THANK YOU! From, Shay

The slumber party girls are still sleeping. Won't they be disappointed when I wake them up for church in just a short while?! I don't know how late they were up. At 11pm I told them to start wrapping it up, I was going to bed, but I'm certain I heard talking past that time.

To answer a blogger's question: Shayla no longer needs glasses! Much to our surprise and delight (and because I lost my incredible vision insurance when I left SE and went to BGSU) Shayla's eyes have improved. She had a very, very weak prescription anyway (1.25) but we were happy nevertheless to receive that word. God is good!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thanks, Bloggers! She had a great Bday!

Thank you sweet Bloggers for all of the kind birthday wishes! Shayla had a great day (well, except for forgetting the lunch I packed her and her valentine candies to pass out at the class party - but....LOL), she still said it was a fantastic day! Go, Shay, Go! I love your attitude!

After school she was able to visit with her grandma Nee Nee and her aunt V and also her second cousin - what a little cutie.

Then she had two friends over and they played, played, played until I told them to roll out their sleeping bags I was going to bed. (OK, most likely they played long after that, but I wouldn't know. I fell asleep.....and found all sorts of curling irons, brushes and make up on the bathroom counter this morning, interesting.)

I drove through "Cold Stone" before I left BG on Friday afternoon. I just had to buy these amazing cupcakes/ice cream treats for the girls. And I thought everyone should get to blow out a candle, not just the birthday girl. She's already spoiled. Thank the Lord she doesn't act like it! I cannot believe how sweet, thoughtful and incredibly considerate she continues to be. Her maturity amazes me. Thanks be to God!

Saturday brought basketball and then sledding with aunt V and the little princess who had never seen snow before - much less THIS MUCH of it. FUN, FUN, FUN! It ended with two more friends spending the night. Family, friends - true blessing in life! Thank you everyone!

Thank you, dear Lord for this amazing gift you've richly blessed us with! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SHAYLA!