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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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Goodbye, Sweet (and funny) Ryan

Shayne is just a few hours from home now. He left after his (father/daughter) horse lesson with Shayla on Friday afternoon. I hated to have him drive all the way to Wisconsin by himself; however, I knew I didn't want to go to Ryan's funeral so I used the "I need to get Shayla to all of her Saturday activities excuse". When Shayne sent me a text, as I was driving Shayla to skating lessons this morning, that said, "I can't do this." I had no response for him because I felt the very same thing. How do you go to your friend's child's funeral? It's nothing anyone WANTS to do at all.

Although terribly sad, and downright wrong in my book why a child would have to fight cancer for 9 straight years and then perish, Shayne said the funeral service, grave site activities and luncheon were incredibly well done. The USC (Ryan's favorite team) coach spoke as did a former USC player who is a current professional football player (Arizona Cardinals). I was so grateful that Eric and Alicia made the trip to Wisconsin too so that Shayne wasn't alone. I really hated for him to be alone, for something like that; however, I knew I could not do it. (Remember I could not even go to Matt's funeral in September. I don't know if I will ever be able to go to another child's funeral. I sometimes smell fresh flowers and have to remove them from my surroundings because it reminds me of standing beside Christi's coffin - a sickening remembrance.) My prayers are with Kirby and his wife.

(PIC: Hats & Sweats Day at school. If you donated a $1.00 to "Pennies for Patients" at school, you could wear this. We had fun and it was a very comfortable day!)With Shayne out of town, I said to Shayla Friday afternoon that we could have a "Girl Party" for 24 hours. I told her I thought we could go to see a musical, we could also scrapbook and make cookies. She responded with, "No, that won't work for me." I said, "What????" She said, "I gave up sweets for lent so we can't make cookies." (Darn! Daddy is such a healthy eater that I enjoy indulging when he's not around!) Last year she gave up television and did great so I'm very proud of her for making this sacrifice during lent.

Although Shayla didn't undertsand all of the Catholic humor, we both really enjoyed watching the musical "Nunsense" showing at the Ritz Friday night.

Shayla was able to get together with her fellow "Munchkins" for pictures today. It's hard to believe the show will be here next week.
I still have tickets if anyone wants them! Let me know! They'll be yours!

Ryan's Website:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tickets Anyone?

(Pic: Check out loving Buttercup, Christi's cat, as Shayla models her musical costume.)

Because of the high school musical typically selling out, I purchased our tickets early and was hopeful we would have family/friends who wanted to come and see the “Wizard of Oz”, Seneca East’s High School Musical this year. Unfortunately, we only have a few people coming to see Shayla and I have too many tickets now. I’d love to give them to the first people who email me and tell me they want them.

We have two tickets for Friday at 7 (March 6th), two tickets for Saturday at 7 (March 7th) and 1 ticket for the 2:00 performance on Sunday, March 8th. Email me at if you want them!

It’d be a great way to see the wonderful new school and the show looks like it will be incredible. (They are actually “flying” some students - not just up in the air, but all over and upside down too. Amazing! Practices have been very impressive! Having served as most of the high school kids' teacher, I can tell you they are GREAT kids too!) Shayla has a bitty munchkin part as a “Lullaby League” girl, but she thinks she’s a star and she’s LOVED everything about being in this musical. She knows how lucky she is!

You can't imagine my delight when our gifted ed. teacher brought me some pictures of Christi! Her daughter used to occasionally babysit for the girls. These were taken in July of 2002. (Christi was diagnosed in September of 2002, about 8 weeks after these pictures were taken.) She looks a bit heavy or puffy to me in these pictures, for Christi, but other than that who would have ever thought she was ill?! I guess that's why I was sent home from the emergency room thinking I was crazy about four times in the spring of 2002. I remember at one point telling Christi at the ER, "Could you at least act sick?!" Because it was like she was in so much pain, but then I'd get her there and after waiting as long as you have to wait in hospitals, she'd start feeling better and start playing. If I only knew THEN what I know NOW, I would have pushed for more testing and she would have been diagnosed earlier. In the end, it wouldn't have made a bit of difference, but I still ponder it all. (And I'll never forget the one ER doctor who asked me if she was breastfed and if her immunizations were up to date. When I said, "yes", he said, "Kids like that don't get sick. She's not sick. Take her home." I remember coming home and telling Shayne, "Next time, you'll take her because they look at me like I'm making it up." OK, done venting now! I know, I know! Move on, Angela, move on!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

(PIC: Shayla with her new AG outfit made by Christi's sweet "Chemo Angel" Chris. She's so talented!) All is well here! Busy, but that is a wonderful thing as far as I’m concerned. Also, having a student teacher from Heidelberg (who is wonderful) right now has given me more time as I’m not grading papers and planning lessons as much. It's nice to be a guide on the side and to assist him. Therefore, now that I have more time, I’ve vowed to myself that I will get Christi’s cemetery plaque ordered soon, very soon. I owe it to her and I'm sorry it's taken me over two years to do it. I'm still not "ready" but hey - who would ever be ready to do such a ridiculous thing?!

Shayla is having a great week. She is such a delight! I’ve been enjoying the interviews I’ve been conducting in the evenings with national board teachers from around the country. Writing the analytic memos and beginning to do data analysis is time consuming, but I'm still at the point where I'm absolutely loving it all! (All of my doc friends have told me that will soon subside.)

Shayne was out of town for a few days this week for work. It always makes me very appreciative to be married to such a wonderful husband. It also makes my heart go out to single parents as I can only imagine how difficult that must be. I will never forget the many single parents trying to make ends meet and also take care of their very ill child. Unfortunately, we met way too many of them during our years of caring for Christi.

Shayla received this incredible ballet barre at Christmas. Shayne had been working very hard to turn half of our little basement into a "dance studio" for her.
I love the floor and the mirrors. Shayne finished it to this point about a month ago. Shayla has been spending hours dancing (and jump roping) in the basement each week since then. She is one loved little gal!

We really enjoyed our time with Christi's Webby (sweet Eric) and his beautiful wife on Sunday. Eric challenged Shayla to some wii games which she loved!

Wednesdays are Shayla's favorite school day because she gets to spend the day with her gifted class. She has an AWESOME teacher
Today, Shayla was able to share her knowledge of the Mayan culture with her class. She spent a lot of time with her sweet daddy getting her presentation ready and her teacher took a bunch of pictures for me and told me in was incredible. Shayla said it was so much fun sharing all she learned about the Mayans with her school friends.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Oh, no! Shame on me! While uploading the last post, I accidentally deleted the news of Ryan's death. I still can't help but shake my head and cry over his death. I'm also shaking terrible thoughts that keep coming back to me. I keep thinking that on the day he was born they would have presented him to his parents and said, "On his 16th birthday, he will die." I'm telling myself not to let myself go there, but I keep drifting there. Brave Ryan fought cancer for 9 years. He will forever live on in the hearts of many.

Final Vacation Pics & a Few Baby Shay Ones Too

Shayla with the crew on the second formal night.
My "cruise bargain". There were two formal nights on the cruise. Before the trip, I tried on the long dresses I owned. Shayla and I decided they were really out of style so we went shopping, but not with any luck. (Dresses, much less long dresses are hard to find right now.) Therefore, I went to Goodwill, tried on 30 or so dresses and bought the three that fit. When I came home Shayla said, "Why did you buy three? You only need two." When I said, "They were $5.00 each so I thought for an extra $5.00 I'd let you decide which two to take." She couldn't believe each dress was only $5.00. (I couldn't either!) While sitting at dinner on one of the two evenings, Shayla said, "Don't you just love formal nights?" It cracked me up! She really loved everything about our vacation.
Learning a dance, from the Royal Caribbean's dancers, to a song from "Wicked" in the kids' room.
Photo by Shay
Shayla with a former Olympic gymnast. (He was amazing!)
Shayla managed to make friends (imagine that, cough) with many little girls on the ship. We were grateful she had someone to play with. Here's a group of them getting ready to rock climb together.

Since a blogger asked.......We definitely prefer Royal Caribbean over Carnival. We felt the service and the food was MUCH better than on any of our previous Carnival cruises (three). Additionally, using the rock climbing wall every day, the ice skating rink many times and watching the most incredible ice skating shows we've ever seen only exist with Royal Caribbean. Shayne may not be much of a cruiser, but it's an ideal vacation for the gals! I'd love to go again next week, but trust me - there are no travels plans in our near or distant future.

Shayla had a great week at school. She was glad to be back with her friends. Getting all of her makeup work done and having musical practice many times this week kept her busy and made her happy. (Having a student teacher, who is a great student teacher, has been keeping me happy at work! I've also conducted three interviews for my dissertation and I've had a ball!) This morning, at skating lessons, Shayla was presented with the "Skater of the Year" award which shocked her. (We - bias parents - of course, were not surprised.) Currently, she's with Tiffany at a play at Heidelberg. She was really looking forward to that! Tomorrow, we will head to a "swap meet" in Findlay to try to buy all of Shayla's Western and English show clothes (and chaps) for this summer's horse competitions. We're also looking forward to going to that with Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff. Sunday night will find "Webby" and his beautiful wife overnighting with us - can't wait!

Shayla with my mom and Joe (Grandma Nonee and Paw Paw Joe)
Baby Shayla in my arms, with big sissy Christi nearby. Christi liked to think she was so much older than Shayla, but really it was only 21 months.
Shayla being held by Shayne's Mom (Grandma Nee Nee)
Shayla being held by the lovely ladies who turned out to be her 3rd and her 4th grade teachers. She recently made some comment about how nice of them to come visiting all of the new babies that are born and I had to break the news to her that they're my friends, we taught in the same hall together, that's really why they came. She thought about that for a bit and then she said something like, "Well, I can just see them doing something like that. Can't you? They're the kind of people that love babies."
Shayla's 1st birthday party. With her great grandma and grandpa Fatler. (Grandpa died when we were treating in NYC in 2003 and living at the Ronald McDonald House. I didn't make it back for his funeral. He was so sweet! I miss him!)

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Shayla’s birthday cruise has been incredible! Today is our final day at sea and I sucked up the “sticker shock” of going on-line so that I could share these pictures. My mom always worries about me so I thought she ought to know we are fine, sailing back to Texas and doing great.

On this dream vacation, we have talked about our many memories of Christi’s only cruise (Disney, Dec. 05). We know she loved it and that she would have enjoyed this one too. There have been very few “orbs” in our pictures; however, the HUGE one when we had a rare “family” photo taken was blew us away when we saw it. I really want to believe Christi is with us, sailing God’s beautiful waters on this Royal Caribbean cruise ship!

We only wish we could have brought all of our friends and family along as that is the only thing that could make this vacation even better. I hope you enjoy the pictures. (Because I’m being charged by the minute, I’m not going to add any captions.) We went to Roatan, Honduras (where we went horseback riding and snorkeling), Costa Maya, Mexico (where we toured ancient Mayan ruins and went to a private Mayan home for lunch) and Cozumel Mexico (where Shayla swam with the dolphins and then went snorkeling). We also spent three splendid days just “sailing” at sea, enjoying the many amenities offered on a ship carrying nearly 4,000 passengers. What a blessing!