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 www.ChristiThomas.com 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, December 29, 2007

Babbling and Finally a Question



Not only did we promise Shayla that we would stay home for Christmas, but also that we’d stay home for the whole day before and the whole day after Christmas – and I added an additional one to that. (Those of you who know me, know I was itching to get out of the house.) By Friday at 10AM, I had all of the Christmas decorations neatly stacked in green and red plastic tubs in the basement, and I told Shayla we were headed out for our fun day.

During the month of December, I read Shayla four or five chapter books. One of them was based on the movie “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”. Now I am not declaring that it was the greatest piece of children’s literature ever written (far from that) but it was a cute story and we thought seeing the movie would be something enjoyable to do next. Problem was, the movie is now longer ‘newly released’. I learned of a theatre in Findlay; It plays movies that aren’t the current “hot” movies and all seats are $2.50. Additionally, I learned that the movie was still playing there! Yipeee!! After some errand running and shopping, we took off for Findlay.

Of course, we stopped at Christi’s grave on our way. Shayla was thrilled to see a darling princess style plastic tiara left for Christi and a lovely wooden carved angel. We tidied up the grave, said a prayer and then I yelled, “It’s a good thing I don’t have a shovel in our van Christi Thomas! I would go get it and dig you up! If I could have you alive, I’d even let you sit in the front seat and take you to the movies with us!” (Pause, continuing my shouting through my tears) “OK, Christi, if I could have just one more day with you, I think I might even let you drive!” This made Shayla burst into giggles as she said, “Mom! Christi would crash! And if we’re going to Findlay, she’d want to go to Sarah’s!”

As we walked back to the van, Shayla asked if she could take a picture of the tiara to show daddy. I told her she could use my camera phone to take it, but I was too shaken to go back and do it. I showed her how to take a photo; she hopped out of the van and ran back to Christi’s grave. Soon she ran back bursting with laughter, “I’m so sorry, mom! I’m so sorry, mom. I accidentally took a picture of the grass!” I could literally hear Christi’s awesome giggle thinking she’d shout, “Shayla! You totally missed the tiara and you took a picture of the grass!” I explained it was just a digital photo and she didn’t waste anything and she could go try again if she wanted, so she did! The “finds” at the cemetery were incredibly too sweet. Once back home last night, I took the wooden angel out of the plastic bag. Written on the bottom was, “Merry Christmas Goofy Girl! Love, Ali” This was from a very sweet school friend of Christi’s. It really touched my heart and I put it up on a shelf with some other angel statues. As we drove away, I promised Christi I’d get her plaque ordered soon – as soon as I make “the perfect” choice and then strangely the song “Breaking Free” came on. (This is the song from High School Musical. A song she really liked and a song that still moves Shayne to tears to hear it because they watched the DVD three or four times together during her final trip in Philadelphia and because the words now say so much.)


Here are the lyrics at the beginning of the “Breaking Free” song:

We’re soarin’, flyin’
There’s not a star in heaven
That we can’t reach

If we’re trying
So we’re breaking free

You know the world can see us
In a way that’s different than who we are

Creating space between us
‘Til we’re separate hearts

But your faith it gives me strength
Strength to believe

We’re breakin’ free
We’re soarin’
Flyin’
There’s not a star in heaven
That we can’t reach

If we’re trying
Yeah, we’re breaking free
Oh, we’re breakin’ free
Ohhhh

Can you feel it building
Like a wave the ocean just can’t control
Connected by a feeling
Ohhh, in our very souls
Rising ‘til it lifts us up
So every one can see

We’re breakin’ free
We’re soarin’
Flyin’
There’s not a star in heaven
That we can’t reach

If we’re trying
Yeah we’re breaking free


After wiping away the tears, we arrived in Findlay and absolutely loved the movie! Next, for our “fun day” it was on to “The Cube” – Findlay’s amazing indoor ice skating rink. We had an enjoyable hour of ice skating before heading for home.

We had money Shayla received for Christmas for our “fun day”. At the stores she didn’t find anything of great interest. Then as we ready to go home she said, “Could I get an ipod?” I was taken back and said, “Well, I don’t know if you have enough money for an ipod, or if you’re old enough for one. Why do you think you might want one?” She told me that we travel a lot and when we do she always has to start her books over when we stop to get gas, use the bathroom or get home and it'd be nice to listen to a whole story, in order. (Her walkman / CD player doesn’t let us do anything but go back to the beginning.) She told me her friend’s holds 200 songs and is easy to work. Now I was NOT to fall for peer pressure, but I did actually think it would be something she would enjoy and get a lot of use out of. I told her that we’d go look at them, but I’d have to think about it and daddy would make the final decision. I’d support whatever he said.

Never having any experience with these things, I was surprised she knew exactly what she wanted and immediately asked how much it cost. She did have enough money, but I didn’t know how challenging it might be to install. I explained that I would have to read the information and decide if I thought I could get it all set up for her because we were not going to stress or burden daddy with this right now. After talking with a few of the employees, I told Shayla we would buy it, but if daddy said no we’d bring it back when we went shopping next. She was OH SO HAPPY! As I drove, I kept glancing back in the mirror and she held the little hot pink Ipod Shuffle in both hands, staring at it occasionally saying, “I can’t believe it holds over 200 songs!” At home, daddy was as cool as a cucumber asking her many questions about it and talking about responsibility. Finally he said, “If it’s ok with your mom, it’s ok with me.” Shayla hugged and hugged him saying, “Mom said the same thing so I can keep it, right?!!!!” For three hours (OK, I’m a slow learner!) Shayla sat at my side as we installed the software and downloaded 71 songs, she selected, into her ipod. I must have received a thousand hugs and kisses while working.

So, now after all of that blabbering, I have finally arrived at my question for those techno bloggers. (As a beautiful teacher friend, Lynn, recently said to me, “There is ‘techno’ and there is ‘tech NO’. hee hee) QUESTION: Shayla loves to listen to the books on CD we borrow from the library. They have a large selection; however, I do not believe there are any that Shayla hasn’t already listened to. I’m assuming I can download books somehow on the internet on to this ipod shuffle. Can anyone give me a suggestion as to how to find easy to download children’s books and for an inexpensive price? Thanks for your help! I have no idea where to even start looking for books to download.

Early this morning found us driving to Mansfield to go skiing at “Snow Trails”. With temps in the mid-thirties and no snow in sight, I looked at Shayne with questioning eyes last night when he suggested it to Shayla. He explained that it would be all manufactured snow and that would make the hills pretty slick, but if she’d like to go, we would. Of course, Shayla is all about winter fun so we had a great day. I’m totally amazed at how quickly she is picking this sport up. It’s hard to believe Christi never went skiing and this is now Shayla’s third season to ski. (Shayne first starting taking her in the winter of 2006 when I was in the hospital in Philly with Christi.) Santa brought a nice helmet and ski/snowboarding goggles for Christmas so the mother in me felt MUCH better about her skiing those hills this year. (Shayne and I both went skiing one time in college with friends and later said, “If we ever get married and have kids, we will start them skiing when they’re young so they don’t look ridiculous like we did when all of those little kids just whizzed right by us!”) We also went to see the Carousal in downtown Mansfield, had a wonderful visit with Shayne’s Grandma Gear, and met up with great friends for dinner. Today was the new school dedication, but I decided weeks ago that would be entirely too emotional without Christi in tote. I hope everything went well!!

19 Comments:

At 29/12/07 9:57 PM, Anonymous Holly Hart said...

Shayla! You are just going to LOVE your new iPod! I like to download books from Audible.com. You get a free one from time to time. You can also download from I-tunes. Angela, you are going to want one too! I am listening to Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. A nine hundred page book that is 40 hours on tape! I can hardly wait to get in my car (they have an adapter to play through your car radio) and listen, also, I listen while I cook, and get dressed in the morning. Shayla was right, it always starts up right where you left off! There are free podcasts on I-Tunes as well, on many different subjects.

Best Wishes,
Love, Holly

 
At 29/12/07 10:16 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

This is the Gutenberg Project and I think it only has books whose copyrights have run out, so it's largely older books.

And these may be too childish for her, but they're awfully cute!
http://www.kiddierecords.com

Hope that helps!

I found myself in Findlay on Friday too (quite unusual, considering I live in Baton Rouge).

 
At 30/12/07 12:10 AM, Blogger Bonnie said...

Angela-
As an educator, do you have access to all Ohio libraries? There are many libraries that have free audio book downloads available from their websites. Tiffin does not but there is NetLibrary on OPLIN's site that you can access through T-SPL and I see that Hancock-Findlay library has downloads. I am sure that Toledo and Columbus probably do as well. They just require a library card number and you have to install some console software (called Overdrive) from their sites as well. Not sure if they work with the shuffle and I believe that in order to hear the books in order, it can not be in shuffle mode. Also you might just try checking out CD books from the library and ripping them to your computer and then installing them to your player with whatever you used to install the music. I am also sending the link to some free audio book sites recommended by Clark Howard...a news guy/consumer activist that we became familiar with during our Atlanta days. Not every book is free on here but they are interesting to browse through and maybe you'll find something. http://clarkhoward.com/topics/freeware.html

I listen to books all the time on my MP3 and it really is great! I can do housework and feel that I am reading at the same time...I only get the unabridged versions. I particularly love to listen to books that are read by the author.

Hope some of this helps. As always, you remain in my thoughts and prayers.

 
At 30/12/07 12:14 AM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Christi was sending you a message. I find it so beautiful that she used a song that you all know she loved and one that had lyrics that referenced flying. That cute butterfly stake on her grave has "fly high" written on it. Pretty cool. Way to go Christi! What a strong girl that she can bridge heaven and earth to be with her Mom and Sister.
Many blessings for you all! Take care!
- Kimberly

 
At 30/12/07 3:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi!

You could try old-time Radio Programs. My daughters just love these and there is a wide variety to choose from on the net. Yes, some are a little silly or hokey but a lot of fun. The sites we like are www.homeschoolradioshows.com and Internet Archive. Many of the shows are free, too! You can also do a Google search for more as well. You're local library may have books through their computer site or you could try some of the internet libraries out there. "E-books" are definitely getting more popular. Good luck in your search!

 
At 30/12/07 4:35 AM, Blogger Manda Panda said...

Dear Thomas team,

I love your idea of audio books saved as MP3 files in Shayla's ipod. I have been doing some scouting around and found you a website that might help. Therre are even some free downlaods on it so you can see if they are the kind of thing you are looking for...... Have a look at:
http://www.playtime-books.com/

With many hugs and best wishes this Christmas.

Amanda

 
At 30/12/07 5:20 AM, Anonymous Emily said...

If you download Ares you can get music and books.

 
At 30/12/07 10:37 AM, Anonymous Holly Hart said...

Forgot to mention, you can check out books on cd at the library and upload them into i-Tunes and put them on your shuffle.

Happy listening!

Love, Holly

 
At 30/12/07 10:39 AM, Anonymous micaela said...

http://www.top-shelf-audiobooks.com/list.aspx?catId=101

I'm not sure how reliable they are, or how they work, but they are 100% legal. I have never used them, but it seems good enough, and sone of them are even free.

Good luck!

- Micaela

 
At 30/12/07 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally, a way I can help!

open iTunes. got to iTunes store.
on the sidebar, click on "audiobooks" then click on 'kids and young adults."
lots of goodies there!

much love
E

 
At 30/12/07 12:21 PM, Blogger Kristen said...

It will be very easy to put a book on Shayla's iPod -- Here are the steps:

1. Open up the iTunes program on your computer.
2. Click "iTunes Store" on the lefthand side
3. Once in the store, click "Audiobooks" (also on the lefthand side)
4. Once you're in the audiobooks sections, you can choose "Kids and Young Adults" to find books that are age appropriate for Shayla.
5. Once you choose the book you'd like to buy, when you buy it, it will download it straight to your iTunes program, which will download right to your iPod when you hook it up.

Here is the issue, though. Shayla has a "shuffle" iPod. That means that it shuffles up all of the files, and plays them at random. When you get a book for your iPod, it comes in anywhere from 2-30 files (depending on how long the book is) When you play your iPod, you'll have to make sure that the switch on the shuffle is switched to the "looping" looking arrows, not the ones that cross over each other (which will shuffle up all of the files, playing the chapters of the book out of order!)

The other issue is space. Depending on the size of the book that Shayla chooses, she may only have room for one book, which could work if she just picked one for a trip, and then once she read it, take it off the iPod and replace it with a new book. It's not hard to do, it's just a pain!

If you have any more questions, my email address is Knsmith5@uncg.edu ... I can even give you my phone number if that would be easier!!

Hope you're able to easily figure it out :)

 
At 30/12/07 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe (( not 100% sure hehe)) that if you have limewire on your computer you can download audio books,limewire has a free verison and one you can buy...Good luck and as I tell my son keep reading..

 
At 30/12/07 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hiya,

Try looking on 'itunes' - just type it into google. It is free to download and from there you can link it to Shayla's ipod. There are a number of free tunes and podcasts to download and also many storybooks, tv programmes and things that are inexpensive.

Hope this helps.

 
At 30/12/07 4:54 PM, Anonymous MMS said...

I knew Christi AND Shayla would enjoy the princess tiara ;-) When I am in Tiffin for business I always stop by on my way out of town. I am one of MANY faithfull followers/prayer warriors.

 
At 30/12/07 8:58 PM, Blogger Kristi said...

You can buy audiobooks directly from the iTunes store. Just click on iTunes, then click on iTunes Store. Then, you can click audiobooks and browse all kinds of books! I would be glad to help by phone....just write me at kristi@amethystconstruction.com
Kristi Young
West Monroe, LA

 
At 30/12/07 11:03 PM, Anonymous Caroline said...

wow.. its nice to be able to find the time to comment again! haha. I'm glad you guys had a nice christmas!! Thats so funny that Shayla chose the same pajama's to wear that Christi did..they really do think alike! Shayla's skating outfit looks so cute on her..thats a great color for her! That was a good idea to get Shayla an ipod.. I have one and I looove it! In regards to the books on CD, They have audiobooks on itunes, but since those can be expensive you could download limewire where you could get an unlimited amount of audiobooks and songs for 20 $ a month. Also if you do want to re-listen to some of the audio books you could just put the CDs into the computer and all the songs should immediately pop up in your itunes music library.. I hope that helps.. I am an experienced downloader! haha. I hope you guys have a nice rest of your vacation!
xoxo
Caroline

 
At 31/12/07 6:58 AM, Blogger Carly said...

Hi :)

I've been reading your blog for a while now, so touched by your family's story and in awe of your strength over the years, but I must admit I've been a "lurker" and haven't posted before...

But then I read your question about audiobooks and I realised I could help! (I think :) ). I LOVE listening to audiobooks, and apart from the library there are two sites I get them from: the iTunes music store (simply click on iTunes Store once you've opened iTunes)... the other is Audible (www.audible.com). Now, I'm not sure if they have children's stories but their selection is huge so it would be worth having a look :)

Feel free to email me at carlypalmer@gmail.com if you have any queries about this :)

Best wishes

Carly

 
At 31/12/07 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im sure you have had some help by now but iTunes actually has audiobooks in the store link and most of the children's ones are not too pricey.

 
At 31/12/07 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Angela
if you download itunes program from APPLE.com you can buy ANY audiobooks for I believe 1.99. My kids get ITunes gift cards in their stocking each year or for birthdays they each hold 15.00 so they have those as special treats and use them to go on and get books or music
HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

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