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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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Day Three

Amazing to our little "Midwestern Family", Josh & Rosa's kids are bilingual (and they love "Dora"). The children are all incredibly well behaved, sweet, so beautiful and amazing! I must admit the more I've held them and talked with them, the more I'm feeling like I want one. Yet, I remind myself of the promise I made myself while Christi was on her death bed. I could never go through with the fact that another one of my children could die. Instead I'll throw myself into my career, and being the best mom and wife I can, but these sweet babies have really been tugging my heart in a different direction.
Universal Studios
Perhaps the "star" is a little too short for the microphone, but she learned a lot on the Studio Tour.
"Holly" Thomas in Hollywood (hee hee). (We also considered Starlett and Hollywood for her nicknames.)
Holly cruising past "Paramount Pictures" while her daddy drives the red convertible in Hollywood. (What would Christi think of this trip? I'll never know, but we have talked about it countless times.)
Rosa, Josh and family (Yes, the infamous yellow family sweatshirt continues on - another family member borrowing Shayne's fleece - too funny!)
Their kids had never seen snow before. Precious was it to watch their delighted faces today.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Where in the World - Day Two

Wow! THANK YOU! You made Shayla feel so special as we laughed and said, "good guess" at many of your responses. TWO amazing bloggers even guessed it correctly, which really surprised us! We picked some pretty challenging pictures, we thought. Thank you so very, very much! "Holly" (some may know we like to give each other nicknames while on vacation) the actress wanna be, is throughly enjoying her trip to Southern California! She's thanked us at least 25 times! (PIC: our morning hike)

Yesterday, we flew to California and used our Cedar Point passes for complimentary access to Knott's Berry Farm. Shayla loved their incredible stage coach ride (on top - never glad to be a family of three, but I really was at that moment as only groups of three got to be seated on top of the coach). She also enjoyed Snoopy's Ice Show. Disney's High School Musical on Ice is touring out here in LA too so that was a huge bonus for Shayla.

With tremendous sadness, I learned via text from Jennifer and with an email from one of my former OSU professors this afternoon that sweet Eden Adams, from Ohio, earned her Angel wings and returned to God's great kingdom today. I'm away from my picture files right now, but I will soon share one of Christi & Eden together as I tell myself (OK, I admit Christi's death change A LOT and I continue to struggle, but always try to convince myself) that they ARE together in a MUCH BETTER place with our Lord and Savior. I hope we'll be home in time to attend her funeral.

May God grant healing to Eden's family as their lives will never again be the same. I only know how terribly difficult life has been for us, two YEARS since Christi's death, despite the fact I try to put on a happy face and totally thrust myself into being a great mom for Shayla. I know that masks the pain I feel in others' eyes, but it's still there for me. I'd never wish that on anyone and I know Eden's parents will forever struggle with what has happened to them. I hope they somehow try to put on brave faces and make good things happen for others in Eden's memory, but I know of TOO many of our dear cancer friends who have turned to very destructive ways of living, following the deaths of their children. I pray they will not go down that road. Oh, enough "negative talk" here. On to things that lift my spirits and help me forget that we just had a very tough holiday without Christi and how very much I miss her and long to be with her.

Day Two:

Shayne and I visited this wonderful (famous) Farmer's Market in 1986 on our High School class trip. What a glorious thing to bring Shayla back to it on this vacation. We tried a lot of great foods and found some interesting scrapbook stickers for her "Drama Scrapbook" project she decided to do for 4-H this year.
This stop was a complete surprise to me. Shay and Shayne wanted to go to "Pinkberry". I didn't even have a clue as to what it was. We loved it and thought they need to put one at the University of Pennsylvania because it would be a hit there too. Very cool! Very yummy!
This fountain display was the neatest one I've ever seen - amazing! (Of course it reminded me of Christi watching with great joy the jumping fountain at the Detroit airport on one of our many flights to/from Philadelphia. How I wish she could be here with us!)
When we went to pick up the rental car we were told they didn't have any we reserved so they gave us a complimentary upgrade to a convertible! Shayla got to pick out the one we wanted and we have been having a ball with it. I never thought I wanted a convertible before, but hummmmmmmmmm. (Shayla of course remembered Mr. Grant giving us a ride in Philadelphia in his convertible and that Christi really thought it was "cool" too.) (PIC: Pulling up in front of "The American Girl Store", an incredible surprise for Shayla!)

Our night ended by taking Josh and his family to dinner at Universal's Citywalk. Can you see how happy Shayne is to be with two of his four great nieces/nephews. He said all he wanted for Christmas was to see his family so we ensured that happened! It's been great to have them up from Phoenix!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where in the World?

Not only are my letters off, we are off too! If anyone is game, Shayla would like to play "Where in the World" with you. Please post a guess if you think you know where she is.
Depending upon how well you know Shayla and her interests, this trip location should be easy to figure out. We planned it to be a perfect trip for her, surrounding her in love and her favorite things.
Thanks to Shayne's absolutely incredible job we've been able to really take some fabulous trips recently, with more instore. He works so hard and we're so blessed by the consequences! Check out the good looking dude in this picture! I thank God for him every night. (And I joke with my teacher friends when I die, they'd better go right for him because he's gonna go fast. Of course they joke with me, "Why wait until you're dead?!" hee hee) I'm not ready to go back to work just yet, but I do miss my teacher friends and my students. I hope they're enjoying their Christmas breaks too!

Knowing how much Christi loved "High School Musical" and how those songs still make us tear up, this was a bit of a challenge, but Shayla loved it oh so much as we knew she would. Shayne and I choked back tears throughout the show, but Shayla was non-stop smiles. We know Christi would have enjoyed it too. That was the end of a lovely day! (Day 1)

If you'd like to let Shayla know you're "guess", please post your thoughts. THANK YOU so much!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

And They're Off

I'd planned to share a little video clip of Christi opening gifts today, but my family came through and provided some pictures. We had a grand time ice skating last weekend. (Well, some of us skated, some of us hung out on the other side of the glass, cough. Nice skating pose, Gil!! Love you!)
Skating with her cousins, Shelby & Ashley

It's so hard to believe this beautiful young lady was a former kindergarten student of mine. (And it's hard to believe after sealing about 700 envelopes, this college girl just trying to make some $, is still smiling!)

Something I've been known to tell the Heidelberg students is, "Be nice to your students! One of them may just grow up and be your Principal." Next time I say that I'll also be thinking, "Or help you with your dissertation!" (hee hee)

I arrived at the post office yesterday, minutes before closing, with hundreds of letters in tote to mail out for my "invitations to participate" (solicitation letters to National Board Certified Teachers around the USA for my dissertation research). I don't know if I ever thought this day would come. It's one small step closer to graduating, but what I'm really so very excited about is actually conducting my study and doing the work! I'm so intrigued by what I might learn. Thanks to Alison's assistance, the letters were mailed out. I sing His praises about that. It is a glorious feeling. (Now I will sit back and cross my fingers, waiting for the response. OK, really I'm going to have some fun until school starts, but I will also be working on lesson plans for the new year and enjoying my family very much.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day

Ahhhh! Santa made it!
Shayla with her awesome daddy on Christmas morning!
This lovely gift moved me to tears. Sent by a sweet, sweet "Christi Fan" from Florida, it says, "Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess". Christi's ballet picture is placed inside. It's gorgeous and Shayne will soon put it up for me.

OK, now this is TOTALLY FREAKY, but notice the "orb" above my head on this photo! There weren't many "orbs" in our Christmas pictures at all, but the fact that one showed up here took my breath away when I saw it. Would Christi's spirit show up while I'm holding her picture? It sounds so "Christi like".

Shayla sewed a little shirt and bow on one of her stuffed bears for my gift. I love it!

Christi's cats (Buttercup & Buckeye) got in on the Christmas gift opening action.

Shay with Lisa's gift, absolutey awesome! The scrapbook is incredibly well done - so detailed and gorgeous. Contained in it are picture of the girls. After going through it again last night, Shayla started telling more about the pictures and what she was thinking or what she remembered. It was precious!

Shayla had a lovely Christmas, exactly as we hoped it would be for her! I won't say we made it through without tears, we cried a bit while opening gifts, and I noticed Shayne "disappeared" and went downstairs to clean the basement for a while, but I guess that just reminds us how lucky we were to have been given that most precious gift of Christi's life. We wanted to do something different so Shayne suggested taking a hike. It was 22 degrees so we just bundled up and went for a great walk.

(PIC: Crossing the raging water. I don't look scared in this photo, but I really was! As we neared the end of our hike, the only way to get through - short of walking all the way back around the lake/marsh (about 45 very cold minutes) was to go over this water area where the water was flowing from a higher point to a lower one at a pretty good clip. Yikes! I knew the safest thing to do was to turn back, but we were oh so cold so I gave Shayne my camera to hold (knowing I was going to fall for certain) and thankfully made it across. What a hoot!

We also decided it would be "different" to take in a movie on Christmas, something we'd never done before. Shayla talked on and on about wanting to see "Marley & Me" so I hurried up and finished reading the book so we could go, but, then, she changed her mind and wanted to see a different movie. ("Smile and nod, mom, just smile and nod," is what I could hear Christi's little voice saying. That was one of her sayings, I think perhaps from the Lion King.) We saw "Bedtime Stories" and it was a great movie!

(PIC: Our Family of Four! Shayne playing Santa for the bank Christmas party with Shayla "baking" in my tummy. Christmas 1998)I'm anxious to put all of the Christmas decorations away today because it pains me to look at many of them. Hopefully next year won't be so hard. This year really was better. It's just all so sad and so odd - eight Christmases WITH Christi, three Christmases without. Three years? Oh, that pulls my heart. I need to move on.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Christi Thomas

A sweet, sweet "Christi Blogger" made this incredible, loving video in Christi's memory for Christmas. We absolutely love it! I hope you do too! Click on the "red" title, or cut and paste into your browser:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Wow! I keep reminding myself God didn't promise that life was going to be easy. We went to Shayne's mom's tonight, which was a great change from "tradition" however, since arriving back at home, it's like I'm haunted with Christi memories from past Christmas Eves. Despite trying to put on a brave front, this is pretty hard.

Shayla's all set and tucked in bed now. Shayne had to read her the annual Christmas stories because just looking at the books made me weepy remembering how we'd read them to BOTH of the girls and we can no longer do that. Would Christi, as an 11 year old, allow us to do that if she were here? Would she have written her own books for us to delight in instead. It's been nice this Christmas season to be able to do some "giving back". We will forever be grateful for all who helped us through our most difficult times!

Shayla crocheted this necklace for Blitzen. She thinks he is the most overlooked reindeer so she wrote her annual letter to Santa and asked him to get this to that overlooked reindeer.

Tonight, Grandma Nee Nee gave her some sewing things that were her Great Grandma Gear's. She was so happy. She's really into sewing - she's the one who sews all of our family's buttons back on and repairs simple things like seams and hems. This was such a special gift!
In nearly every picture taken this evening, an orb appears. I wonder if it's Christi's spirit or Grandma's. I know in reality it's most likely a spot on my camera lens which keeps changing, but I tell myself our "angels" are with us on this most special night - soon to be Jesus's Birthday!


SHAYLA SAYS: Correct! This is a hedge apple. People put them in their basements to keep the spiders away, but that's a myth. It doesn't work. The one dad gave me was frozen, but it's not any more. Mom said we had to get rid of it. Dad found it when he was hiking through the woods with Uncle Jeff before the party and he brought it to me. They're green and yellowish and they have wrinkles and remind me of a monkey brain. Wasn't that gross? Thanks for playing my game. I hope you had fun too. Mom and I really laughed with your silly guesses!

December 2004. Making Gingerbread Houses with Aunt Marty

I guess this wouldn't fit in Santa's sleigh; it arrived last night! Shayla danced with her ballet barre late into the evening.

Traditions are so hard. Tonight we will do something different. That should help, I hope!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Spirit

We had a lovely day spent visiting with dear friends, making Christmas cookies to set out for Santa and running errands.
Shayla wanted to honoring Christi by making no bake cookies (Christi's favorite) so we did. (And I cracked up at her choice of words "to honor Christi" as I could just see Christi here on earth joking around bowing down like she was on stage in front of Shayla jokingly saying, "Yes, you may honor me with cookies!" and then cracking up in giggles!)

Christmas Morning, 2000
Great Memories - Mom & Joes, Christmas Celebration

We also thought it'd be a good day to get a jump start on one of her 4-H projects, the drama project she wants to take this year so last night we watched, "A Chorus Line" knowing the assignment for 4H was to: Write a critic’s review of a musical of your choice. (p. 33) Let's just say I read on the back of the DVD we borrowed from the library that it said "PG-13" but I thought, "What? It was a Broadway musical. It's got to be ok." This morning when she said, "Mom, what exactly is a wet dream?" I about fell on the floor, but then I reassured myself that I'd rather tell her than have her learn about it at school. Oh, my, like many things in motherhood, no one prepared me for THAT!

“A Chorus Line”
A Review by Shayla Thomas, age 9 ½

I saw the Broadway musical, A Chorus Line, on a tape. It sounded good on the summary because I take dance lessons and I like to audition for musicals, but it turned out bad. I am giving it thumbs down. At first is was interesting, not good, but interesting.

It started out at an audition. There where tons of people trying out. Then they dismissed everybody but 16. They only need 8 people. When there were 16 people, things got bad. The show did not even tell you the name of the people. You had to figure it out by yourself! The person running the audition was weird. He wanted everyone to tell their personal secrets.

Then things got disturbing. They told of weird things that happened in their childhood. A famous retired dancer came and song a song called Let Me Dance for You. She was supposed to be in love with the director, but it didn’t look like it. They didn’t tell anything about the characters. Don’t waste your time with this show, it is bad! Then at the last 6 minutes of the show they showed a scene in the musical the people tried out for. Remember 8 made it, but 40 danced in the chorus line. The whole story line was messed up!

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT? Well, I've bragged up Christi's bloggers countless times saying how intelligent they are, but this one of Shayla's "games" must have been too difficult. So far, no one has guessed correctly. (Although we have bent over with laughter at some of the guesses, what a hoot!) Shayla thinks we shouldn't reveal the answer until someone actually guesses what it is. Here are a few clues: Shayla thought it looked like a Martian egg, but it's not. It is an object found in nature and many bloggers were correct with their guesses, it was frozen. What do you think now?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christi's Final Chat with Santa

Shayne stopped dressing up as "Santa" when Christi was diagnosed because he knew it would be emotionally too hard to ever do that again. December 2005, Christi, 8, Shayla 6. I knew I had to get the girls to see Santa for their yearly picture, but they weren't thrilled about stopping their play to go into town so I made them a deal. They had to get dressed up in dresses, but they didn't have to wear fancy shoes. It worked! They looked riduculous walking into the mall in fancy dresses and dirty tennis shoes, but I got the pictures and video I wanted! (Christi is wearing the dress that Shayla then wore to her funeral, weird, sickening actually!)

Here is Christi explaining to Santa for Shayla.

We really enjoyed our visitor today! My dear, dear, dear friend, Becky (and Shay's 4H advisor) stopped by and brought Shayla an incredible Christmas gift - an OSU Piggy Bank! She loves it! Thanks, Becky!

Per a posting blogger's request. Sorry, I don't have the photo that was taken, but this one is close.

GREAT NEWS: This afternoon I received my official "Your Research is Exempt" from Ohio State. As my Advisor told the Office of Responsible Research Practices today, "Thanks - we appreciate your help and guidance in attaining the exempt status." And now that I have the letter, she texted me, "You may officially begin your investigation!" YIPPEEE!!

My data base is being completed and I believe I will be folding and stuffing 1400 stamped envelopes, soliciting National Board Certified Teachers to participate in my study, the rest of the week with hopes of making my mail date of Friday. This is sooooooooo exciting!

WHAT IN THE WORLD? Shayla's not playing "Where in the World?" (although that game is coming very soon), but she wants to play, "What in the World?" Does anyone have a guess as to what this might be? Please post your guesses for Shayla - THANKS!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dwelling - Family Parties 2005 & 2008

We thought if we didn't make it to the ski resort today, we might not make it for quite some time so we took off - not realizing it was 10 degrees with wind chills 20 below. Shayla didn't mind at all and I worked in the warm and cozy lodge so we all had a lovely afternoon. It's so hard to believe this is Shayla's FOURTH SEASON of skiing (something Christi never did once). As I watched them ski from beside the fireplace in the lodge, I quickly noticed Shayla's tremendous improvement over last year (and the fact that she's now almost better than Shayne). He always likes her to follow him for safety, but she did ski right around him on a few runs today. And at the end of the day (OK, I can't quit laughing) ONE of them was covered in snow, while one of them ended the day perfectly clean! (Shayne said he fell twice today. When he crashed on the last run, his skis and poles went flying. He got himself together, laughed and thought, "It looks like a yard sale. My equipment is everywhere.") Shayla also took one tumble today, but not a big wipe out I understand. Pretty good in my estimation. OK, her bias mommy thinks she's awesome!

When we went skiing in college, we said if we ever got married and had kids we'd ensure they learned to ski. (Little kids were zipping right by us as we made this determination.) In this picture I'm getting Shayla's ski boots back on after a warm up and snack break at the lodge. They both did great today! (I decided a couple of years ago that I'm no longer one who tries to ski! My body just doesn't bounce back like it once did.)

It was great to see everyone at Shayne's mom's family party tonight! I just wish Tammy and their little ones would not have been under the weather so they could have joined us too. (This is the only picture I took today with any "orbs". I look at this and tell myself that either Christi, Joey, Grandma or Grandpa Gear were watching over us tonight!) My gut feeling it's Joey as in this picture is his precious little boy and his beautiful widowed wife.) Driving from the ski resort to the family get together late this afternoon Shayla kept saying Christi was sending us message. She noted TWO rainbows in the sky and also a cloud shaped like a unicorn - definitely Christi's traits!

Shayla loves her grandma Nee Nee.

Thanks to our wonderful host & hostess!
Grandma, you are missed! (Shay Shay and Grandma Gear, 1999)

A BLAST FROM THE PAST: Shayla still believes in Santa Claus; however, one day when she no longer believes I will show her this picture and tell her that "Santa" is really her daddy.

Shayne & Shay, 1999. This is one of my favorite pics of Shayla. We came home from Christmas Eve mass and Shayne "went to the store". While he was gone, Santa arrived. Neither girl wanted to sit on his lap, but I handed them to Shayne anyway, knowing one day we'd all laugh over it. This will probably be the last year Shayla believes as I think she's questioning things this year. (Maybe next year I won't be up at 6AM wrapping her Christmas presents in the bathroom, behind a locked door, like I was this morning. Actually, it was great fun, except my heart was pounding so hard. I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family!)

I wasn't able to go to Shayne's mom's family party in December of 2005 as Shayla was ill. I'm grateful Shayne took some brief video clips of the event. I do remember Christi coming home and telling me how much fun it was. (And tonight I find I'm amazed at how well she could play the piano. Age 8)