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.

A Note About Comments: When you post a Comment, please note that it will appear online after it is approved.

Friday, November 30, 2007

16th Wedding Anniversary

(Photo: Nov. 30, 1991 - As I look at all of the sweet friends and family in this photo, I am moved by the kindness, love and support they've all so lovingly continued to give us over so many years! Blessed we are!! My mom recently reminded me of a song that was played during our wedding reception which had the words "We're gonna make it through the hard times." She said that has been so true.) Sixteen years ago this afternoon, I became the luckiest wife in the world as I recived the most wonderous title one could ever hold - Mrs. Shayne Thomas! Thanks for still loving me, Shayne. I am most unworthy!
(Photo: December 2005 on the 3 night Disney Cruise - the cruise Christi talked about just before going into the coma. As she said how much fun it was and talked about the various things she did; we felt that that overpriced vacation was suddenly worth every single penny! Today's advice: Make Memories!! Book that trip!!)

DISNEY CRUISE PICTURES FROM DEC. 2005: A month later she was very ill and soon bald.

Shayla’s Funny: A few weeks ago Shayla came up to my classroom after
school with a little smile on her face, yet declaring, “Today was the
worst day ever.” I asked her what happened and she told me in the
morning, when it was time to sign up for what you wanted for lunch, she
saw the word “ham” and then saw an “s” in the second word so she assumed
it meant they were making “ham salad sandwiches” for lunch. When she
got to the cafeteria she learned that it was “Breakfast for Lunch Day” -
her favorite lunch. Not only did she not get the ham SLICE but also the
French toast sticks because they were both concerned the main entrée for
the day. I asked her what she learned from that and she told me to read
the whole menu before signing up for a peanut butter sandwich. What a

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Blue & Sparkly

Wow! God's people are amazing! Thanks to incredible "Bloggers" I think we've got "Blue & Sparkly" taken care of for Santa's treat for Shayla!! (I've been quite busy since I posted my dilemma so I've yet to respond to the emails I read, but I will tomorrow - thank you for your sweet offer of help!)

I stopped out at the cemetery on my way to a teachers' meeting tonight in Findlay. While I sobbed out at Seneca Memory Gardens, I was soon laughing hysterically with some great friends I do not get to spend enough quality time with! It's amazing the range of emotions one can experience in one day.

I've not wanted to bother Lori, but word has it she was feeling better today than she has in months. I praise God for his wonderous blessings and pray for her continued strength and for wisdom for her doctors.

(PICTURE: Christi & Shayla playing at a McDonald's Play Place in Kentucky while visiting Grandpa, October 2004)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Shayla felt like such a "biggie girl" getting her pointe shoes in Perrysburg. (Note Daddy watching her sizing at the side.)

Interestingly noteworthy, the only "orbs" in all of the Thanksgiving pictures are of "The Grandkids" picture. I tell myself Christi didn't want to be left out; she wanted to remind us she's still with us.

Unfortunately, I posted my good news about my friend Lori too soon. The next day she started having horrible pain again. On Monday after school, Lori's daughter called me telling me their dad was at work and could I go to the hospital. I'm so saddned to say that after hours in our local hospital, Lori was rolled into an ambulance - bound for a Toledo hospital. I somehow drove home through my tears. Your prayers, for this amazing and sweet young woman, are welcomed.

Rachel A from Cambridge: YES! We received your sweet letter and thank you so very much for writing and sharing our Christi's touched your life. We wish you the very, very best with the marathon you're running overseas in honor of Christi & Locke. Lean on those sweet little angels to keep you going!

With great joy I report this week I wrapped up two of my three OSU classes. As I walked to the parking garage last night in Columbus, I wished everyone I passed a: "good luck on your finals" "Happy Holidays" "Hang in there!" etc. I received many strange looks, but it just made me smile even more being so silly! One more final paper to complete and then you will most likely hear me shouting for joy as I'll have a break and get to read what I want to read! (For the next five weeks anyway, smile.)

On Sunday we met up with Dani and Jennifer at the skating rink. It was great to see them, to watch the beautiful little Miss Katie for her first time on skates and to get to hold the precious new baby! (Yes, I needed a reason to get OFF of the ice to rest!) We were amazed at Shayla's ability to pick right up where she left off last winter and to really do a great job. She was soooooo excited after lunch when I told her it was time to go ice skating. Despite the fact I was standing there with long underwear and jeans for her in my hands, she took off looking for "the perfect ice skating outfit". She found it in Christi's closet. (The rest of us felt a little underdressed at the rink, hee hee.)

(Same Outfit! March 2005, Prior to Christi's Piano Recital at Heidelberg)

IDEAS NEEDED: When we made out her Santa list, she asked for a blue, sparkly figure skating outfit. I have absolutely NO sewing talents at all. I checked on Ebay and some "discount" ice skating outfit sites, but the costumes were very expensive. Any ideas on how I can buy an outfit without spending too much? She will have six ice skating lessons in Jan., but other than that I don't believe she'll wear it very much.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Shayla fell in love with this darling dog yesterday before the Thanksgiving dinner. I know, just like Christi, she too is an "animal lover".

(PHOTO: 2001 - Mom and I celebrate our birthdays together, Nov. 19th)

It was great to see everyone for Thanksgiving and thankfully, after the morning was over, it wasn't quite as challenging for me. I couldn't watch the Macy's parade (or any other for that matter) because it reminded me of staying at the Philly Ronald McDonald House on Thanksgiving of 2003.

(PHOTO: Macy's Parade 2003) Wednesday night arrived and slowly, one-by-one, staff and volunteers left the house and we soon realized that it appeared we were the only family stuck at the house for the holiday. Shayne asked if I was ok with the girls and he headed out the door. Later he was back with TRAIN TICKETS to go to NYC to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade the next morning. It was wonderful! I've yet to be able to watch that amazing parade without choking up and I just figured that would have pushed me over the edge yesterday, so I worked on a paper for one of my classes instead. (This quarter - and my work for it - cannot end soon enough!)

Today, at mom and Joe's, I scanned about 40 photos of Christi that mom had taken over the years. I still believe my photos are my most prized possessions and I am so blessed to have them as they remind me of happy days, most of them before Christi wad diangosed back in 2002. Again my message for today is grab your camera and snap away!!

Tomorrow, after our church pictures are taken, we will head to the special dance store to get Shayla's first pair (hopefully not last) of pointe shoes for ballet as she will go on pointe in January. I know the fitting at the sotre will not be without tears. I VIVIDLY remember that January night in 2006 when after school we went to buy Christi's. She felt so grown up and loved all of the special attention they gave her while determining just the perfect size of shoe she needed. Sadly, she only wore those shoes twice - 15 minutes at the end of two lessons. (They spent more time hanging from her IV pole, but.....I will just pray Shayla's good health continues and that her new dance shoes will never see an IV pole.)
(PHOTO: Shayla, Christi and their Cousins, Xmas 2001)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Morning

(PHOTO: Thanksgiving 2001, Christi (4) Shayla (2) "Breaking the Wish Bone")

(PHOTO 2005, Age 8 - Christi's last Thanksgiving: A Toledo News Crew arrived at my mom's house. They did a story on families who had a lot to be thankful for. I've never forget calling my sister Wednesday night and telling her I just told a newscrew it was fine to go to my mom's house for Thanksgiving and jokingly I asked if she thought I should tell mom, or just surprise her?! hee hee)

The day we've been dreading has arrived. Another holiday without Christi. You'd think this would get easier, but that's certainly not the case today. We wanted to escape it all, but we knew we owed Thanksgiving to Shayla so we'll be visiting with relatives today. It's going to be terribly hard seeing how much the other kids have grown, but it will be nice to see everyone.

Speaking of growing: Shayla needed new dance shoes. I had Christi's final pair here so last night Shayla tried them on. She squeezed and squeezed, but without any luck. The little sweetheart looked up at me and said, "I'm so sorry, mom. I tried really hard but my feet are too big." I think she knew how sad it all was for me as I realized Shayla's feet are now bigger than Christi's ever were. I held her little dance shoe and cried as I looked at the little size "2" and realized what torture such a little girl endured. Somehow, Christi always seemed "so big" to me and holding the shoes told me otherwise.

On Monday, my 40th birthday, I had parent/ teacher conferences after school into the evening; however, while I was getting Shayla's breakfast around Shayne said, "Shayla, isn't your mom more beautiful than two twenty year olds?" (I think Shayla knew to just keep quiet; she didn't say a peep.) And then of course came his comment about being as old as TWO twenty year olds. Hee hee! While it is always so hard for me to see Christi's friends because I wonder how tall she would be, what she would look like, I'm reminded she's not with them, etc. one of Christi's sweet little friends came to my classroom to give me a lovely homemade birthday card. It was the greatest thing!! And now that my friends have convinced me that 40 is the new 20, I'm fine with it all! (Smile.)

Shayla went to Aunt Marty's while I was in class Tuesday night and because I had a meeting at OSU Marion on Wednesday, we overnighted with Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff and had too much fun! When I got in late from class Tuesday, I saw the amazing gingerbread house they made. Aunt Marty is entirely too talented!

Not only did Shayla ride Aunt Marty's horse on Wednesday, she also had her regular horse riding lesson. She's been moved up to a group with five older girls (ages 10-13)and she is loving the group lesson. Their instructor is fabulous and they're putting together a (get ready for this one....) Christmas Recital. Nope, I am not kidding and it is really amazing. The six girls on their horses are learning a routine and I'm very impressed with their routine. Shayla will be riding "Buddy". Of course I had to be the mother to suggest buying matching sweatshirts and I'm taking pictures next week since I volunteered to make programs. (Hey, my classes end next week I'll have so much time I won't know what to do with it all! Cough.)

Much to our surprise and delight at horse lessons while Shayla was saddling up her horse, the instructor said, "Shayla, do you remember Heddie? She is coming to watch your lesson." Shayla screamed, "HEDDIE!!!" and couldn't wait for her to arrive. We met Heddie, her instructor's niece, when we were in Alaska this summer and spent a delightful afternoon with her! Since Shayla always says when she grows up she's moving to Alaska, Heddie is Shayla'a idol!

Deciding that we loved school vacations, Shayla and I also made a pumpkin and cream cheese pie for our friend, Lori yesterday. Much to the shock and delight of many, although she's not out of the woods yet Lori is now back home!! We knew she wouldn't be able to eat the pie, but we hoped her family would enjoy it. When I walked in and saw her sitting propped up in a chair, I was quite surprised and immediately blurted out, "You look great!!" Her coloring is so much better and she told me she now weighs over the 100 pound mark, praise God! She has battled her disease, for seven years, always working, taking classes and doing so much for others, I was happy to hear her doctor said no work until January.

This morning we are reminded of the wonderful blessings in our lives; they are countless!! We also reflect back on the Thanksgiving holidays we were so blessed to spend with Christi in our presence. We also remember the incredible gifts so many shared with us during our toughest years to make our holidays brighter and we will never forgot that goodness! Here's wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

I know it's rare not to see Christi smiling in her pictures, but she must have been pondering upon how she was going to eat all of that food that looked so good, smile.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Running for Christi & Cancer Kids

PHOTO: Prior to Halloween we saw some darling gingerbread kits in the stores. I told Shayla that she was so blessed to have an amazing great aunt who makes real gingerbread houses with her every year because those kits are so expensive. Well, now that they're 75% off, the kit was just $2.50 so we bought it and had a lot of fun! How about that for a Haunted House! Hee hee!

Much to our shock and surprise (no offense, Olivia) one of Christi's sweet, sweet supporters informed us that SHE is running in a race to raise money for the Christi Thomas Memorial Fund and for Kids Cancer Crusade - two wonderful charities very near and dear to our hearts! Olivia's fundraising efforts will be split equality between the charities. Olivia's brother died of cancer and that is how, years later, she stumbled upon Christi's website. Having a disability herself, she was able to relate to Christi's physical struggles and the two girls shared the wonderful bond of reading great books! Olivia is a wonderful blood donor and one of the sweetest people you could ever meet. If you're looking to make a donation this holiday season in memory of Christi, or just in need of a great cause, this is a great choice! THANKS, Olivia! And thanks to Eric, for helping get things set up on-line!

Shayla's conference was incredible! I know I am just a proud, bragging mom, but her conferences in 1st and 2nd grade - when we learned of her reading struggles were not pleasant and I left in tears SO PLEASE LET ME BRAG! This little sweetheart scored nearly 100 points higher than the state of Ohio average and her school district average on the state reading test!! She just missed a perfect score of 518 by a mere 18 points!! We knew she had made tremendous gains in reading and now happily declares, "I love reading!" but it was awesome to see it in writing. Additionally, she started 3rd grade off with a reading level of 3rd grade sixth month and now, it has moved up to fourth grade, ninth month. After the conference, back up in my classroom, I hugged her and told her that she was almost reading at a fifth grade reading level and I wish I would have videoed her little shocked face. I think for years she compared herself to Christi, and then of course with her many vision, hearing and dyslexia problems she never viewed herself as smart. This was a great, overdue, boost to her self confidence and I thank all of her teachers along the way for working so hard with her, despite her struggles. She wrote a sentence describing herself to share with us at conferences and we loved what she wrote and thought it was very, very true: I am a book-reading, pet-playing, horseback-riding girl from the tree-growing, road-riding, creek-flowing side of Tiffin.

Yesterday, she was a total sweetpea out at the cememtery and a great support for me. For the first time, I saw that the grass is now completely grown in over Christi's grave. For whatever reason, I thought that was the most horrible thing ever and I just broke down and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed out in the cold, damp weather. I think the grass visually showed me how long it's been since she's been in my arms. Shayla just quietly hugged me until I could get myself together. (She was thrilled to see about a few new things placed by sweet strangers out at Chrsitis' grave and asked to take the Halloween things home.)

Last year, Shayla was noticing all of the lovely Christmas dresses in the stores and I told her that she could still fit into Christi's Christmas dress so she'd need to wait until next year before she could have her own Christmas dress. Well, next year is now and after the Ohio State / Michigan game (Sorry, Cathy! I know your sweetie in Heaven must have thought his fellow Angel friend, Christi, should enjoy a big win this year or something!) we went to get groceries and we found many lovely dresses on sale for Shayla. She picked out one and we think she looks beautiful! We will be celebrating my 40th birthday in a couple of weeks, when we have some time, and going somewhere VERY special; she is happy about getting to wear it soon.

SHAY's FUNNIES: When she came up to my classroom after school one day last week I said, "Good news, Shayla! Dr. Grine got moved out of Tiffin and in to Toledo!" She looked at me with puzzlement and said, "But I thought you liked Mrs. Grine." I told her just like Christi's cancer was so difficult it needed a big hospital to help her, Dr. Grine's case is just like that. Then she got it and laughed, "Oh, I didn't know why you'd want her to go hours away when you like her."

ANOTHER FUNNY: She was explaining the lock system to Shayne, and I said, "Did you remember learning that at Grand Rapids?" She said, "At a waterpark? No, I learned it where Grandma and Paw Paw took us this summer to ride the canel boat." I told her that the name of the town where that was was Grand Rapids, but yes it does sound like a great name for a waterpark!

After church tomorrow, we'll get together with my mom and Joe. I was born on Nonee's birthday so we will celebrate our birthdays together. I love sharing my birthday with the most special woman - my mom!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bad Blogger

I understand this photo I posted of Christi, taken just before bedtime on Sept. 19, 2005 - one year before her death, didn't show up so I will try it again. It's just such a great picture of her, I can't let this one go. Bad Blogger - eating the photos again, shame, shame! (smile). Have a good day! We're off to Shayla's parent teacher conference before school this morning. She's very excited to show us her school stuff and we're equally excited to hear all about it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Turn of the Table

I just came across this picture of Christi, hanging out in her bedroom. Ironically, note the date - exactly one year before her death. Didn't she look so beautiful that night? Oh, I miss you Christi Thomas!!

Although I am not one who believes in good or bad luck at all, I can’t help but feel that there has been a turn of the table in recent days. My professional news today is nothing short of miraculous, in my opinion. Soon after school started this year, I learned of a merit based scholarship open to all female, full time doc students at Ohio State with at least 3.75 GPAs, who had completed the majority of their coursework and were nearing completing of their degrees. While I knew the competition at OSU would be fierce and that I would not just be competing against other Ph.D. students in Education, but all doctoral programs, I went ahead and completed my application process and mailed it off. I remember telling Shayne, "I just wish I went to a smaller school because how in the world can I ever get selected from Ohio State – the largest university in the world?!" While there is no money involved at the local level, the national winner receives $10,000 - payable to their university - to complete their research. I knew I wouldn’t have a chance at the national level, but I really wanted to receive the nod from Columbus, so I applied.

Much to my surprise and shock, a few weeks ago I received word from an OSU Professor notifying me that they were interested in meeting me and learning more about me and my research for a possible nomination from their chapter for the national award. I was shell-shocked. When I learned that they wanted to meet me at their next meeting, which was on the same night I was already on campus and just 45 minutes after my class, I could not believe that was anything other than divine intervention involved because there would not have been another time in my schedule to make it! Praise God!

I was told to prepare a 20 minute presentation and that would be followed with 10 minutes of questioning on my research and work. There would be 12-20 professional women to present in front of. Of course I was terrified, but felt I needed (and really wanted) to do this.

I knew I wasn’t smart enough to receive a scholar award, but if I could feel that Christi – the smart one - was with me I’d feel much more confident. Therefore, I got out a few select things of hers that I have been “saving”. (Special items she really liked and items that once used will forever be gone.) Before I walked in, I put on Christi's favorite lip gloss and popped one of her little candy mints (now stale of course) kept a special teddy bear shaped tin, in my mouth. A little angel she drew was tucked into a pocket of my suit. I started to “talk” to her just before I walked in to present; however, then I was choked up with tears so I turned to my father instead and asked him to help me relax and to encourage the ladies to be bias, like he always was about me, and to vote for me. Thankfully, the ladies were incredible sweet and my presentation could not have gone any better. I definitely felt like that special little angel was in the room with me and gently encouraging me to do well.

Later that night, when I called my mom and Joe to share of the incredible news, I told them that it couldn’t have gone any better and with my recent run of good luck, I was tempted to go and buy a lottery ticket. I finally decided to pull over and buy a high-calorie, chocolate milkshake instead to celebrate, so I did! I also called to check on Lori at the Toledo Hospital and was so saddened to learn she had a fever and was back on oxygen. Our prayers continue for Lori and her family.

My deepest thanks and appreciation to the Columbus PEO chapter (Philanthropic Educational Organization) for selecting me – the teacher and Ph.D. student in the College of Education - as their nominee this year!! I will soon be completing the national application process and crossing my fingers about the $10,000 award to be announced in May. Hopefully, Christi and our Father will stay with me and continue to provide guidance and wisdom.

P.E.O. (philanthropic educational organization) has almost a quarter of a million members in chapters. The P.E.O. Sisterhood is passionate about its mission: promoting educational opportunities for women. P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women and to educate women through scholarships and other means. (Or click on the “red” at the top of today’s entry.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

OSU Football

(PHOTO 2005: Lori & Christi during brighter days)

I figured out the reason why the Buckeyes lost last night. We weren’t there. OK, maybe that had nothing to do with it, but…. In the morning I took our OSU student IDs and some doughnuts and things over to my friend Lori’s house so that her husband – a big OSU football fan, could get a much needed break and go to the game. My sweet OSU / Heidelberg friend, Lori, has been very ill for years, with complex health issues and is now in a Toledo Hospital. I sat with her for a few hours in Tiffin on Wednesday night. She looked so frail and horrible; it was just as though I was sitting beside Christi days before she died. When I got home and Shayne immediately asked how she was. I told him I didn’t know if the next time I saw her it would be in a bigger hospital or at a funeral home, but I expected her to be life-flighted out soon. (A doctor in Tiffin punctured her lung trying to put a port in on Wednesday.) When Lori graduated with her Ph.D. from Ohio State in June she said her husband was crying and she didn’t know if it was because, after six years, she graduated or if it was because he knew he just lost his season football tickets, hee hee. Regardless, Lori should have been at that game too, but instead I decided I would bring an OSU party to her.

On my way to Toledo, I stopped and bought many scarlet and gray items. While Lori had never been on a pediatric oncology floor before, I had received tremendous, hands-on training there. That, combined with being a teacher, gave me all of the creativity I needed. I walked in with my OSU pom poms and rally towel. By the time I was finished, Lori’s IV pole had little red lights with Brutus hanging from the top. Posters, balloons and streamers of scarlet and gray were on the walls. A weak, but beautiful smile was on her face, and she let me paint her toe nails with red polish. With her little hospital TV screen, we watched the first two quarters – without sound, together before I headed for home. I don’t know about Lori, but I felt better! My prayers continue for my sweet friend, Lori, and her family. May all be blessed with much needed strength and wisdom!!

CLASSROOM FUNNIES: Early last week, while our students were changing classes, a teacher down the hall was asking me for suggestions about incorporating assessment rubrics for a project. I was a minute or two late for my class. I walked in and they said, "You weren't by the door. We thought you weren't here." I joked and said, "Sorry about your luck, you're still stuck with me." They laughed and one said, "Sorry about your luck, but you owe us ten push ups." I said, "What?" A student told me, "Last year, when we were late we had to do ten push ups." I knew I couldn't do ten push ups. I glanced down to be certain I was wearing slacks and flat shoes and I asked, "How about five?" They laughed and said, "YES!" My arms were shaking and I could not quit giggling, but I DID IT!! I stood up, they claped and I had to wonder what Dr. Madeline Hunter and her lesson design and anticapatory set theory would have to say about that for getting my students' attention - what a hoot!

On Friday afternoon, I was still really excited and so happy about my National Board news. One student asked, "Mrs. Thomas, did you just drink a cup of coffee?" I knew what he meant! I laughed and said, "I don't drink coffee and I don't drink alcohol (always have to try to be a teacher and get a lesson across). Besides, can you imagine what coffee would do to someone like me?" There was much laughter and comments were shared such as I'd be hanging from the lights, or jumping out the window. Finally, I pretended to be deep in thought before I responded, "I think I'd just start assigning triple homework or something."

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Glorious News

(PHOTO: At a Research Conference in Montreal, Canada 2005. I'd love to share pictures of me with my students, but I do not feel that is appropriate here.)

The following was written Friday afternoon, but thanks to our sweet high school friends, The Bowermans, inviting us to dinner, duel pianos and hours of dancing, I didn't have a chance to upload this until now.

After Christi's death I wondered if I would ever be able to truly feel happy about anything ever again in life. I wondered if I could ever feel so excited and joyous as I had before. Well, it took 14 months, but it happened this morning!

Some many know that the day before I drove Christi for what ultimately turned out to be her diagnosed with cancer in September of 2002, I mailed off my application to try to become a National Board Certified Teacher – the teaching profession’s highest honor. Days later she was diagnosed, and weeks later I wrote NBPTS and withdrew my application. I said that if I ever stepped foot in my classroom again, I would indeed attempt it. In 2003, I returned to my classroom and therefore, kept my promise to myself and attempted the certification (which requires hundreds of hours of work with my teaching and my students' learning, and has a 60% non-passing rate). A year later when the scores were released, I was THRILLED that I was a National Board Certified Teacher (Early Childhood Generalist, ages 3-9, 2004).

Because I felt so strongly about how much I grew as a teacher in the process, when I switched to teaching 7th and 8th grade, to help pay Christi’s bills, I thought that I should try for a second certification. With my Ph.D. program requiring a dissertation, I felt that I would conduct my research in some area of National Board Certification and then I decided that I would be a hypocrite if I had the opportunity to try for a second NBC and didn’t; therefore, when Christi’s health settled, I applied. Little did I know she’d soon die and I’d be trying to complete my hundreds of hours of application requirements (video tapes of my teaching and work with students, student work samples, submitting a 120 page document, taking hours of assessment exams at an exam center) without her at my side, but I did.

Today, NBPTS released their scores to candidates. (They will be made public in December.) I was shocked, thrilled and absolutely shaking when I saw my scire report and congratulations notification this morning(NBCT Early Adolescence Language Arts, ages 11-15)! I was told that only .02% of all teachers are NBCTS and I am one of very few teachers in the United State to ever hold TWO National Board Certifications! My Praises to God as I think this was nothing short of miraculous! The amount of work felt incredibly grueling, tears were involved many nights, but without a doubt, it was the most profound professional development of my nearly twenty years of teaching and I’m so glad it is all behind me! I learned so much and definitely feel I improved my teaching practice as a result of it all. I just wish Christi was here so I could tell her, even though I blink away tears and remind myself she knew before I did!

I still remember the November day in 2004 when Shayne told the girls about my first one; they didn’t understand but their hugs were the sweetest!!! I am so blessed!

My deepest thanks to all of the wonderful education professionals who helped me along the way. I know I should never mention names for fear of overlooking someone, but......thanks to: the 'Berg's Dr. Armstrong, Mrs. SanGregory & Dr. Arnold-Grine, OSU's Dr. Gartner & Dr. Fresch. I NEVER would have made it without them -and many others who have made a significant difference in my career! THANK YOU!

My mom wrote this sweet email to me: "Who would have thought that little girl playing school in my living room with TV tables for desks would have such sucess in the teaching profession. Your hard work has paid off!! Praise God! Love, Mom"

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Grade Card Time

(She really enjoyed the Japanese man cooking our meal on the hibachi grill in front of us. What a hoot!!)

Some may remember a year ago, when Shayla brought her first quarter grade card home as a second grader it was nothing to celebrate. Due to Christi's illness and death, she had missed about 12 out of 40 days of school, we didn't know she needed glass - nor the vision therapy - nor that she had a form of dyslexia (it affects her spelling) and she had two Ds on her grade card (one in reading and I think the other in English). Well, after getting glasses, receiving vision therapy and spelling instruction, and having a much more settled life the past year, Miss Shayla's grade card was filled with As this first quarter. She did receive a B- and that was in spelling. She said, "But it's not all As." I explained how she worked harder for that B- than she did for all of her other subjects put together and soon she was beaming and was so very happy.

It's amazing how much she really enjoys reading now (and how that reminds us to much of Christi). We've been reading many of the books to her that we also enjoyed during intense hospital stays with Christi. I won't say that I can even stomach the thought of picking up "Flush" the last book I was reading to Christi and of course never finished, nor the fact that Shayla has been reading the "Hank the Cowdog" books with Shayne and when she goes past book 18 - the last one Christi read, and yes she was reading them "in order" (such a Christi think) it won't make me cry, it will - but it has been wonderful to share the same joy of reading that we also shared with Christi.

After school today, we went to the post office to mail to CHOP a stack of duplicate "Hank the Cowdog" paperback books sweet angels on earth had given Christi during her last year of life. I contacted the social worker and ask her to put them out for the kids to enjoy and I really appreciated her emailing back saying she remembered how very much Christi loved that book series. I didn't tell her that Christi was buried with one of them, but she was. I hope they make some other kids smile, even if it was hard to get in to Chrsiti's room to get them out. It's something I know I have to keep doing.....and ordering that cemetery plaque - ergh! All in good time, I guess!

(PIC: Yes, much to the surprise and shock of the others sitting at our table, Shayla still loves her sushi!)To celebrate Shayla's wonderful grade card, we told her to pick a restaurant to take Grandma Nee Nee to on Sunday. She selected "Nagoya" a Japanese restaurant in Nee Nee's hometown. (Actually, I think she referred to it as the "flying food" restaurant, but we had a grand celebration. Check out her smile!)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Day

As I took off to vote before school on Tuesday morning, I could only remember when the girls got to "vote" in the Kids Election back in 2005. I'm so grateful I have thousands of pictures of Christi! They help me remember things I would most likely have forgotten without the visual cues. Here's my advice for the day: get out your camera and take pictures of your loved ones, especially of your sweeties doing the common, normal, every day things - like eating breakfast, and getting ready for bed. Those are the photos I did not take, and wish I would have.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Since the last time I saw my aunt and uncle (last night) I was suffering from a mild (seemed extreme at the time) case of food poisoning so I thought I'd better update so my mom and aunt would know I am MUCH better this morning! (I won't be visiting a Middle Eastern restaurants any time again soon, but....Praise be to God! I am feeling so much better and I can't even imagine how horrible Christi felt at times.)

(PHOTO: Shayla with her great Aunt Marty rolling and cutting out to dough to make Ginger Bread Houses. They will later assemble and decorate them for Christmas. Amazing!)

Shayla has really enjoyed "helping" with all of the chores on the "King Ranch" (smile).

Our deepest thanks to Uncle Jeff and Aunt Marty for giving Shayla such tender loving care (and entirely too much fun and excitement!) during our "adventures" to the Ohio State football games this year. I've often sat there, with tears streaming from my eyes, knowing we could have gone for years, but we would never have even considered it because of all of the uncertainties involved with Christi and her care. While we had the opportunity time and time again, walking to the game yesterday, to sell our tickets (which would have been enough $ to pay for one of my winter quarter courses) I just kept thinking how I would have loved to have never known of this "excitement" and instead have Christi back in our arms. Regardless, we know how fortunate and very blessed we are!

After church today we will go visit Shayne's mom and take her out to eat. I'm not certain if my stomach is up to anything yet, but I am feeling SO MUCH better and slept well after 4AM. I quit asking God to "Take me now," as I've decided He must be telling me my work is not yet done and I'd better get going on writing up a book analysis today too!

We received an email informing us that one of Shayne's former colleagues just named her new little puppy after Christi. The puppy was born on 9/11 - the date Christi was diangosed with cancer in 2002. Shayla squealed with delight (imagine that) and Shayne and I knew Christi would absolutely, positively LOVE that!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Go Bucks, AG Style

As we arrived home today after school, there was a package from Christi's Chemo Angel in the mailbox for Shayla. What an incredibly sweet surprise - an Ohio State outfit for her American Girl doll. (Christi's Chemo Angel is an OSU grad, very talented at sewing and the mother of boys.) Shayla was thrilled. I didn't even know she was opening it, nor dressing her doll when she ran down to show me with tremendous excitement.

While Shayla was all dressed in her OSU attire today, we received our assignments for our classrooms at the new school. (Once again I will be right next to the sixth grade, the grade Christi would have been in this year. Ugh.) We will all move into our one k-12 school at the end of December and start the new year off there. The school is absolutely lovely; however, receiving my assignment brought back those memories of the night the levy passed and we let Christi jump up and down on our bed and how we rejoiced that we'd always be in one school together and not in separate buildings. I think it may be easier for me to cope in the new school. While it will still be very hard to see Christi's classmates every day as I'm filled with sadness she's not with those great kids, it may be easier not having to walk past the classrooms she loved so much. The very old school will be demolished. .

Another very sweet (and very emotional) thing happened today at school. As I was heading back into my classroom, I noticed a locker door open of one of the sixth graders. I immediately saw Christi's picture hung up inside of that locker. It nearly brought me to tears; I thought it was the absolutely sweetest thing.