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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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Place in the Baking Contest

When I saw "Marty's Cell" ring on my cell phone during the OSU game Saturday, my heart fell and I quickly figured something was wrong. I was soon relieved to hear that Shayla had some very exciting news. When we dropped Shayla off Friday on our way to Columbus, Marty told me she was going to have Shayla make an apple pie again this Saturday and they were going to enter it at a festival, but I never thought any more about it. Imagine my surprise when Shayla said, "I won first place in the baking contest with my apple pie!" That was really cool I thought, but then she added, "I got $50.00!" and I was shocked!! That was a HUGE help with her savings for her wii game. She's only about $44.00 shy now. (When you're doing chores for quarters at a time, it takes a while and I think it's a FABULOUS lesson!)
There were six entries in the competition and here Shayla is with the second place winner. She was the only "kid" and Aunt Marty insists, with the exception of paring the apples which Uncle Jeff did, Shayla really did it all.
Grandma Nonee and Paw Paw Joe went to the festival with Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff and it looks like they all had a grand time!

If every child in the world was a loved as Shayla is, what a glorious world this would be!

Aunt Marty has used this recipe since she was in high school (must have been about 2005 perhaps, hee hee. She has so much energy!). I probably shouldn't give away Marty's "secret", but she felt the strategy would be for Shayla to use a homemade crust and to deliver her pie to the judges while it was still warm. Gotta love that Aunt Marty!!!

Apple Crumb Pie
By Shayla Thomas age 9 ½

Pie Crust
1/3 c. shortening
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 T. of water
Mix first 3 ingredients together until crumbly. Add water and stir with a fork just until mixed.
Roll out and put in pie dish.

Pie Filling
4 to 5 large baking apples
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ cup flour
1/3 cup butter

Pare apples. Cut in eights and arrange in pastry lined pie dish. Sprinkle apples with ½ cup sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon mixed. Mix 1 cup flour, ½ cup sugar, and 1/3 cup butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake in a hot oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Then lower oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes until tender and bubbling.

There was also a lot of horse riding going on back at "the ranch". Once again Marty and Shayla competed against each other in the "trail division" where they set up a variety of obstacles they each had to take a horse over. This time Paw Paw was the judge. Of course he wasn't bias (cough, cough). No one was surprised (except Shayla) when she once again won First Place in the family horse competition! (wink) And gee how this would all be so different if Christi were alive! I'm thinking there would be TWO first places, smile, or maybe she would have always been the judge.

We spent Sunday bike riding with Marty and Jeff. They also took us to an Equine Rescue Center which was fascinating to tour. The Humane Society has about 25 horses they rescued or which were dropped off. It really was interesting. Shayla was so glad to know the horses were alive, getting proper care and not being made into dog food. I know Shayla wishes she lived closer so she could volunteer there.

Shayla cracked me up when she told me she learned something really surprising on Saturday that no one ever told her before. She said, "Did you know Aunt Marty and Grandma Nonee are sisters?!" (I can just see Christi looking at me like, "Mom!") Two days later, I'm still laughing! Love ya, Shayla! I told her, "Can you believe Grandma trusted her sister, who was only 15, to be my Godmother?! Isn't it neat we picked her to be your Godmother too?!" Shayla assured me we made a great choice. (PIC: Shayla's Great Aunt Marty holding her in the hospital for the very first time. Feb. 12, 1999)

Monday, September 29, 2008

And The Votes Are In

Shayla asked me to post a thank you from her. We sat down after dance class tonight and read each and every sweet vote and comment regarding her glasses decision. I often think if Christi's journey with cancer was to teach me just one thing it is that God's people are good and this little "vote" idea of Shayla's certainly proved it to me again - thank you!

Much to our surprise and delight, in less than 12 hours there were just over 122 votes coming in via blog posts or emails.

"A" - 21 votes
"B" - 35 votes
"C" - 66 votes

Shayla tallied every single one on paper and will take that with her back to the eye doctor's office to make her big decision. (she is leaning toward "C".) I have to wonder what pair Christi would have preferred and if Shayla would have just gone with whatever Christi said, as she most often did (looking up to Christi so much). I'll let you know what Shayla decides. Thanks so much for your help!

(PIC: Leopard Print) I also received a couple of messages regarding the high price of glasses (which is why, even though she had a prescription change, I needed her to wait until our insurance would pay for a portion of them - October 1st). However, due to those emails, I must share if you're looking for kids' glasses right now I think Wal-Mart is having the deal of the year! Until October 1st, they are having frames, lenses and a hard glasses case for $40.00 total.
(Pic: hot pink) I was very surprised that I could actually get her a whole pair of glasses for $40 so last week I got her prescription from her eye doctor and we went to Wal-Mart. Their selection was so much larger than at the eye doctor's. I really couldn't believe it! She narrowed it down to two and then asked me to make the final choice for her because she just couldn't decide. Well, I'm embarrassed to admit, but "Shayla's mother" (cough) bought both of them. They were just so cute and at $40.00 a pair - wow! Six (yes s-i-x, 6 days later they were ready and she's now wearing her "fun and funky" pairs. We'll order the "serious pair" from the eye doctor's October 1st and we're both very appreciative of your selection help - THANK YOU!! So, if you need kids' glasses, give your Wal-Mart a call and check with them as the sale ends VERY soon! I wish I would have known about it sooner.

Please Vote

I know this isn't a big election of any sort, and the duration will be only two years, not four; however, Shayla needs some help in picking out her new glasses and she thought if she put it on the blog she could go with the pair that most people voted for. She's had a prescription change and has needed new glasses since March, however, to make a long story short we've needed to wait until October 1st to order them. Therefore, it's now time - yipee! Last week we went to select the frames and this week she'll need to tell them which ones to order. Please let her know what you think by voting for "A", "B", or "C". THANK YOU!!


PS: I'll share her other wonderful and very exciting news - with pictures - soon! (It just needs a whole post to itself and she needs to pick out her glasses on Wednesday.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thanks, Advertiser-Tribune

I just received word there are 22 pictures from the Dr. Lori's Students' Lemonade Stand at Heidelberg College on Friday on the newspaper's CU gallery. I also understand there was an article in the newspaper yesterday.

Interestingly noteworthy, the bee that landed on the reporter at the stand had the SAME THING happen to her at Christi's memorial stand drive in October of 2006. I vividly remember that incident and so does Jill! We'd like to think Christi did that on purpose! (Probably to thank Jill for the lovely fresh bouquet of flowers left on her grave recently!) (photos) (in Saturday's paper)

Heidelberg College's Lemonade

I wish I could have been there, but I'm still happy to share this information second hand and I really appreciate all of the photos/words I've received about the event. THANK YOU! Isn't Heidelberg's Education Department amazing?!! Our deepest thanks to Dr. Lori Arnold-Grine and her Junior Education Students for hosting a fifth annual stand to raise money for pediatric cancer research through "Alex's Lemonade Fund". According to Shayla's chatter, Shayne's reflections and Lori's emails, it's confirmed! Shayla had an absolute ball! We were really surprised to see the event up on the college's homepage too. (or click the blue link above). (Shayla likes that they said she was "10"!)

Shayla sold lemonade to her grandma Nonee. (Thanks Mom for getting her to campus for me!! I hope the fire drill we were having at school didn't "freak you out". I was out back with my students, but wondering where you were since I told you to get her then and had no idea there was a drill planned, sorry Mom! I hope your heart didn't fall.)
Dr. Lori, far left, with some of her students. (THANKS, Lori!)
Here's some insight from Lori: Shayla wanted them to ask questions, and THE STUDENTS were being kind of shy. She told them they weren't very good at asking questions and proceeded to CALL on individuals to speak up! It was hilarious! Of course, she had quite a lot to say! I was telling Shayne how thankful I am to know that she has very vivid memories of times with Christi. It was so nice to have her there, as she brought some vitality back to the lemonade stand!
She insisted on pouring every cup, amidst playing with the Bridges students. She was like the social event leader and organized games on the lawn. What many people commented to me about was the "noise of children" on the campus lawn, which I feel provided the perfect backdrop for an education dept. event! It was as if we staged that with kids running around, laughing, screaming, etc.
I hope you like the pictures I took for you. If you see one of the sky, it's because there were two jet streams in the sky, like a sign - Christi & Alex. Also, as I was talking to Jill, a bee landed on her arm. She both got chills and tears immediately! It wasn't like "Ooh a bee!" but more like "Lori, there's a bee on my arm!" with this smile! Shayla was never hungry, as she was having too much fun! I am going to have my students reflect in class on Monday morning, so I will certainly share those with you.

I was able to tell Lori that I will be dropping off some doughnuts and juice for Monday morning to thank the students for their efforts. I also asked her to remind the students to apply for the $1,000 Christi Thomas memorial scholarship for a Heidelberg Junior Education Major this spring and that we've decided to make another $500 donation to Heidelberg's Education Department in Christi's memory. They always made Christi feel so special and I know there are items that they need for their students that they do not have the funding for so we hope this helps!

Shayne told me how Christi's Bridges friends all came to the stand and were so sweet playing with Shayla. He said he wondered how "odd" it was for them because the last time they were with Christi she was Shayla's size. He said at one point, one yelled to Shayla, "Christi!.......oh, I mean Shayla!" He said another went over and carefully examined the plaque with Christi's picture on the ground by the tree and then came running back to play. He said he knew they knew Shayla wasn't Christi, but yet it was almost like Christi was back and they could play as they once did.

We've yet to be able to muster up the courage to really return to that wonderful place - with fabulous staff and friends - where Christi attended on Fridays for her gifted instruction. It was so special to her, they always treated her incredibly well and we have great memories. One of my sister's friends is an artist and she, with the help of Christi's Bridges friends, painted a mural there with Christi's favorite things. While I've seen pictures, I've yet to be able to go as that is just "over the top" and will be so hard to see. Shayne thinks he's now ready to go back, I'm not so certain I can do that - yet.
We continued on with our weekend dropping Shayla off at Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff's and proceeding down to Ohio State to the College of Education's Scholarship Tea where over $1 million in scholarships and fellowships were awarded late Friday afternoon. I received the Harold C. Miles Graduate Fellowship - a $1,000 award for a doctoral student studying early or middle childhood education. This will help with my tuition this year and I'm incredibly thankful! We were hoping that we'd be able to meet the donor's family and to learn more about Harold C. Miles; however, they were not in attendance.

From there, Shayne dropped me off at my conference for National Board Certified Teachers for Friday night and Saturday morning and he met up with his cousin and attended a film festival on campus late Friday night. Saturday afternoon's game was a lot of fun! (And now that our seats for the rest of the season are in a much better location, that is grand too!) Also, Christi's friend that moved to Columbus shortly after her death was at the game with her mom so I was happy to catch up with both of them. And you won't believe what happened to Shayla during her time with Aunt Marty! We received a call during the game and quite frankly, we're still shocked!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Walking for Christi

I had planned to post this information prior to Michele's walk for the Jimmy Fund, but I forgot! The race was Sunday, September 21st. Michele has a fundraiser page set up, and she added Christi's picture to it.
She also wrote a little blurb on why she's walking for her, but they don't post it on that page. She wrote, "I am walking for Christi because she was my biggest inspiration in getting involved with fighting childhood cancer, and that I was with her during one of the last weeks of her life, which I will never, ever forget." We thought the timing of the weekend was perfect! Thanks, Michele!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

September 23

I went to the cemetery after school today, always hard but perhaps today even more so as it was on this day two years ago I last saw her beautiful face.

Throughout the day I tried not to remember today's date. Any time a student would ask, or I had to fill out a form I said to myself, "Just a day in September, don't think about it!" and that helped me a lot.

What brought me great comfort tonight was learning that Matt's mom will let me get a thumbprint necklace made for her. I know I treasure my Christi necklace and really wanted to do that for her. She has Matt's baby thumb print and I pray she loves her necklace as much as I love mine! One wouldn't even know what comfort this gives me, but it's huge! We simply could not go to Matt's visitation, nor his funeral due to our own emotions. I feel terrible about that, but just knew - especially at this time of year - watching parents suffer over the loss of their child would not be something we could endure. Learning tonight's news makes me feel a bit better. I've imagined many times in my mind since Matt's death that he is carrying back to Christi's little spot in Heaven all of the library books she checked out, but couldn't carry - just like I saw Matt do for Bryce so many times at school. What a guy! In front of our school it says, "We Miss You Matt, RIP", so true, so true, so true!

(PIC: Sept. 2004 Heidelberg's Christi & Alex Lemonade Stand. Christi with class.) If you're interested: STOP BY CHRISTI & ALEX'S LEMONADE STAND IN FRONT OF THE EDUCATION BUILDING AT HEIDELBERG COLLEGE ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th from 11-1. Shayla will be on hand with Dr. Arnold-Grine's Early Childhood Education Students, raising money for pediatric cancer research. (I wasn't with Christi during the 2004 Lemonade Stand at Heidelberg so I have absolutely no idea what this picture all about, but it looks like a special group of some kind and the look on Christi's picture shows she's having a grand time. If anyone knows anything about this, please share!)

Shayla wanted to return to the Heritage Village on Sunday so that she could show me what she did with her class on Friday. I really wasn't feeling the best, but wanted to go and watch her having a good time on a gorgeous day. I couldn't help but reminisce about past festivals where we were able to take both of our daughters. Despite coming home and having to take a two hour nap, it was a wonderful afternoon. Now I'm feeling great! I think by tomorrow I'll be 100%.

Shayla at the Heritage Festival, 2008

Christi at the Heritage Festival, 2005

REMINDER: Lemonade Stand at Heidelberg, in front of the Education Building (across from the dining hall on Greenfield Street) Friday, September 26th from 11-1. Come get some lemonade and donate to a great cause "Alex's Lemonade Fund". Thank You!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Live, Love, Laugh

(PIC: Christi and Traci, Sept. 17, 2005. Little did we know then that in one short year Traci would be a pallbearer at Christi's funeral and would give a lovely eulogy about her "little friend". I think they both look smashing in this picture! It's hard to believe how quickly it all went down.)

When I reflect upon Christi's "journey" I believe that she taught me a few main lessons, specifically the three "L's". This would be how to live, how to laugh and how to love. On Friday morning, the second "Angelversary" of her death, I tried to wrap myself around her teachings instead of the heartache that seemed to be enveloping me. I knew I had a doctor's excuse to be out of school through Tuesday, but I really felt ok except for being tired and some stomach pain. Christi wouldn't have wanted me to stay home and to cry over her death, but instead to live my day doing what I love to do so I went to school telling myself to give my students all of the love I could and that something funny would undoubtedly happen which would remind me of Christi and make me laugh.

As the 9:00 hour approached, I was busy teaching, but occasionally I checked the clock and told myself not to as soon as I realized I had let my mind do that. It's like your right back "there" when it "hits". Thankfully, due to a misunderstanding about who had the laptop computers signed out for first period, another teacher and I quickly decided before class to just share them and therefore at 8:58 I was busy helping my students shut down their computers and carry them back to the other teacher's classroom. That distraction wasn't planned, but it was great. I looked in the hall and it said 9:02 and I thought to myself, "I made it, now quit looking at the time and thinking." While I believe Christi's death was a gradual shutting down of her body over time, something about that time - 9:00 AM - is something I can actually pinpoint and know. I checked my phone at lunch and was touched to find a couple of text messages sent around 9AM by sweet blogger/friends. After school it was comforting to come home and read my email and to see the cards that had arrived in the mail from people remembering Christi, a couple of donations made to her memorial fund, "Tasty Cakes" arriving from Philly friends, a candle being lit in Florida and an 8 AM Mass being said in NYC. I think as a "angel parent" what one worries about is of people forgetting their dead children. Friday's display of love reconfirmed to me of what compassionate and thoughtful people there are in the world - THANK YOU!

After my teachers' meeting in Columbus late Friday night, I was finally hungry. (I'd just not been able to eat much, or normally, prior to then due to last week's operation.) Shayne drove us up and down High Street trying to find a place with an outside table and where he could just pull over and help me get out since I still wasn't walking the best. Finally, we found the perfect spot! We sat at an outside table at a cafe enjoying a late dinner on High Street, definitely living and loving as I believe Christi would want us to be. When we were told we were at a "gay bar" I was laughing to myself thinking Christi must have sent us there to lighten our evening knowing we'd been reflecting about our life with and without her. My deepest thanks to everyone for helping to get us through a challenging time!

I really don't know how he did it, but Shayne spent Friday volunteering as one of the parent chaperons on Shayla's fourth grade field trip to the Heritage Village set up at the Heritage Festival, just like he did for Christi's.
(PIC: Christi's 4th grade field trip, 2005, age 8 - nearly one year to the date of her death) I noticed a text message came in at 8:48 a.m. which said, "This is really hard, isn't it?". However, it sounds like they both had a fabulous day on the field trip. We didn't believe Shayla needed to know that it was the date of Christi's death so we didn't tell her. When she's older, she'll know, but we didn't feel there was a need to bring her down too. We were already low enough ourselves!

Shayla also had a most wonderful overnight spent with her great Aunt Marty (and her Godmother) on Friday. When we came back after the OSU game on Saturday they were out riding horses. Our sweet relatives/friends also have four 3 week old kittens in addition to the two dogs so Shayla was in all her glory and said we didn't need to come back and pick her up so soon. They made a pie for us to share from the apples on "Christi's tree". Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff planted an apple tree around the time Christi was born. Never had apples appeared on the tree until two days after she died. Wild! They turned that little garden area into their "Christi Garden" shortly after her death and we love it as it's the spot where Christi used to stand and watch the horses, or sit and sketch them. We thought the pie tasted especially wonderful on September 20th.

I feel like I am almost completely healed! I'm still slow, sluggish and having some tummy pain, but it's like I'm 90% better! I didn't feel the best at the game yesterday, still walking slowly with my stomach still hurting, but finally able to eat some. Therefore, after the game we went to a little restaurant that we hadn't been to in years, but that we love - and Christi loved too! It is the bar in Waldo ("G & R's") that serves their famous fried bologna sandwiches. (I know, I know, "Where's Waldo?" hee hee.) Being out of the heat, I was finally hungry and decided I'd see if the surgery was a success or not. With caution and yet risk, I ordered their famous sandwich, onion rings and peanut butter / chocolate cream pie. I don't think I ever had a better tasting meal (smile)! Now my arteries may be clogging, but my stomach was totally fine and it was wonderful to eat foods I've not been able to eat for so long! Thank you, dear Lord! (Now it's back to my diet, hee hee!)

This morning Shayla really took our breath away. While we were both sitting and getting some paperwork done, Shayla brought up a new toy from the basement and started playing with it on the floor without saying a single word. It was sent to Christi in mid-September 2006 at CHOP and Christi longingly eyed it, but was never able to play with it. She'd ask for it, but then didn't have the energy or strength to even touch it, much less play as it would sit at the foot of her bed. I hadn't been able to donate that toy and therefore I tucked it away in the basement not really knowing what to do with it. Somehow, today, Shayla found it. Shayne and I both stared at each other when we saw what she had because that toy would have been a favorite of Christi's and we knew Christi wanted to feel better and play with it so bad, but just could not. Now I have to believe Christi wanted Shayla to go find that this morning and she's having a ball playing with it. Wild!

Christi and friends after lunch on the 4th grade field trip
Shayla and friends at lunch

Friday, September 19, 2008

Missing You Terribly, Sweet Christi

May 12, 1997 - September 19, 2006

PIC: Christi's Last Christmas, 12/23/05, age 8

I feel like someone has taken a knife to my chest and ripped out my heart. I will leave for work in just a bit and will try my best to ignore the time and block out my thoughts when 9:00 a.m. arrives. May God continue with me.

This photo of Christi and Shayne is one of my favorites. It was taken at my sweet cousin Lora and Chris's wedding in Tiffin on September 19th 1998.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Horrific Sadness

Please lift up the sweet Mason family in your prayers. Matt (seated, left, dark tee shirt) one of our Seniors was killed yesterday morning on his way to school as his car rear ended one of our buses. The sun was so terribly bright; it was incredibly hard to see yesterday as many teachers omplained BEFORE receiving word this accident occurred. He was wearing his seat belt and I cannot believe this fine young man was anything but a careful driver!
I had the pleasure of being Matt's kindergarten and his 8th grade reading teacher and I work with his dad who is our janitor. Matt, who would have turned 18 tomorrow, was one of the most polite students I've ever taught. In fact, he would always carry a handicapped boy's books to class for him.

Ironically, because it's so hard for this special needs boy to get on the school bus, (and because they were great friends) Matt would drive him to school. Matt was on his way to pick up that boy when the accident happened. The bus was stopped to pick up a preschooler who thankfully boarded the bus and just sat down the the crash occurred. The last time I saw Matt was on the way to church last week. I remember thinking, "That's Matt! Not out racing on a dirt bike or playing video games like many 17 year olds, but out working in someone's yard." When they say only the good die young, I must agree! May God give his family comfort during this horrendous period of their life. Please hug your loved ones today and tell them how much they mean to you! Matt's family has a strong faith and I'm afraid it is only that which will get them through.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: #1: After reading and discussing a novel I often assign a chunk of the book and have teams "Freeze" a scene. Their classmates then have to figure out what they are acting out and questions are permitted. In this case, they are acting out a wedding scene in "Sing Down the Moon". It was hilarious as one of them was pretending to be a girl. Their classmates LOVED it! (The teacher did too!)

#2 The students discuss their team poster regarding their findings of their topic

#3 Matt (in the back, right side, dark shirt, looking at me) and his 8th grade reading class, August 2004

News Links: (Terrible crash photos you may not want to see.)