The Times West Virginian

September 24, 2012

Strong support system

Organization, teamwork are priorities for busy Tomana family

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — For the active Tomana family, organization, support and teamwork are key factors in keeping their busy schedules on track.

Stephanie and Chris, along with their daughters Sophia, 9, and Lillian, 5, keep a calendar on their refrigerator with events ranging from practices and birthday parties to vacations and holidays.

Stephanie is a science teacher at Fairmont Catholic while Chris works the afternoon shift at Mylan in Morgantown. Because of his work hours, Chris uses the time in the mornings before school to catch up with his daughters. Even though Stephanie works at the same school Sophia and Lillian attend, Chris takes the girls to school.

“It’s their special time together,” Stephanie said. “He talks about school with them, looks over their papers and listens to their stories.”

Even the mornings are busy for Stephanie, who starts her day walking their dog Jake and doing laundry.

“Like every mom I know, I throw a load of laundry in the washer and fold a load before I start getting ready for work.”

Stephanie and Chris work together to support each other when they can.

“Chris recognizes and has great respect for the fact that most of the weekday chaos and parenting falls on my shoulders,” Stephanie said.

After sending the girls to school, Chris helps Stephanie by getting a headstart on cleaning the house or starting dinner for that night.

Being a teacher comes with more responsibilities than just teaching — Stephanie serves as co-adviser for the National Junior Honor Society.

“I also help with special events like our Annual Prayer Walk or Math-Science Technology Day,” Stephanie said. “I’ve never met a teacher who just teaches in the classroom; you wear all hats.”

Along with her teaching responsibilities, Stephanie takes on the role of coach of cross country.

“We run at least two races a week and practice the rest,” Stephanie said.

But without the help of a parent volunteer, she wouldn’t be able to handle so many kids.

“He’s a huge help,” Stephanie said. “I couldn’t host a meet much less keep track of 18 kids in the woods without him.”

And as if one coaching role weren’t enough to handle, Stephanie and Chris help coach Lillian’s U6 soccer team.

“Every Saturday our little team of six play a game at the soccer complex,” Stephanie said. “Every Sunday afternoon we have an hour-long practice.”

Sometimes Stephanie’s cross-country schedule conflicts with soccer, but the family manages to work it out.

Sophia’s schedule keeps them busy with gymnastics, and she practices once a week.

“It makes Wednesday a late night for us all,” Stephanie said.

Although they have a busy schedule, Stephanie, Sophia and Lillian have dinner every night together.

“We always eat dinner together,” Stephanie said. “It isn’t always at the table — the girls love to have picnics outside or in the living room — but it’s always together.”

With his work schedule, the weekends are when Chris can enjoy time with the whole family. The Tomanas like to spend time outside as much as possible or with relatives.

“We spend a lot of time at rails-to-trails, whatever the girls can do to be outside. They will play outside until dark,” Stephanie said.

The family likes to visit different parks and walk Jake, and the girls love riding their pink go-kart.

Volunteering is also a big part of the Tomanas’ life. They believe that volunteering is teaching by example.

“Parents have the greatest influence on their children,” Stephanie said. “We want our children to see the reward in working for and with others for a common goal.”

The Tomanas see that life is too short, and they know they have a busy schedule.

“We want to live every minute of life, so our schedule is crazy but everyone else’s is, too,” Stephanie said. “We have a great support network of help — other coaches, other parents, our families, our friends — and nothing that either one of us do would be possible without them.”

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.