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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Monday, November 30, 2009

18 Years Ago Today!

With my sweetie! As I walked down the aisle at 2PM on Saturday, November 30th, and saw my husband for the first time, tears were running down his cheeks. I KNEW how lucky I was to have captured such an amazing (and hot) young man! We dated for seven years before we were married. He was definitely worth the wait!
Little did I know at that time the curves life would throw us. Despite it all, we have been richly blessed!
Surrounded by sweet friends and family - still some of our closest friends today. During our challenging times, while fighting for Christi's life, they did the sweetest things to lift us up and to help us out. We will forever be grateful!

Happy 18th Wedding Anniversary to my true love and soul mate - Shayne Thomas!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Despite trying to be so brave, the holidays still always get to me. I know it has been three years since Christi's passing; however, holidays are still quite challenging to put it in positive terms. For us, holidays are about family and tradition and when one of your family members isn't able to be contacted, it makes my heart so heavy. Therefore, we used one of the two free sets of airline tickets we received last December when we took two bump from two oversold flights coming home from California and booked a trip to NYC so that we could pretend it isn't really Thanksgiving. We actually got on an earlier flight and were in our hotel room around 10AM on Wednesday. Denial is far from perfect, but it has really helped me by not being at home WITHOUT Christi. She was so awesome! I miss her so much!

After we met up with Olivia late Wednesday morning, we took the subway down to the NYC Tenement Museum - one of the most unique and intriguing museums I've ever visited. I had no idea it was even in existence. Then it was off for a late lunch at the famous Katz Deli while we were in the Lower East Side.

With Olivia, we were blessed to spend the day with her, viewing the balloons at the "Balloon Blow Up" around Central Park West - lots of helium and volunteers. Amazing!

Shayla spotted her friend from preschool outside of her school where we were to pick her up. She waved madly trying to get Veronica's attention. I still think it's so odd while in NYC we were trying to find a preschool for Shayla to attend. The social worker and child life specialists weren't coming up with anything close at all. One day, while Shayne took Shayla to a museum, they ran into this little girl and her dad. They lived TWO small streets away and told us about her preschool which was directly along the route we walked from the Ronald House to the hospital. Shayla started immediately and these girls were inseparable. Through telephone, email and texts they still keep in touch.

These two gals always seem to pick right up where they left off, incredible! (Of course sending Shayla to that preschool was nearly the same amount as my part-time teacher salary and Shayne was unemployed at that point in our life - 2003 - but now I believe it all worked out ok and was totally worth every penny!)

After we picked Veronica up from school it was back to the "Balloon Blowup". We were surprised the balloons were all inflated in a very tight area on just two streets.

Shayla enjoyed visiting Times Square with Veronica and playing with her back in our hotel suite before her dad came to our hotel to pick her up.

Olivia and I took Shayla to see "Mary Poppins" while Shayne met up with a buddy who lost his child to neuroblastoma too. Mary Poppins was spectacular, really amazing! Our prayers are with Shayne's friend, struggling terribly with so much in his life. We do know most families don't come out like we did after the loss of a child.

Much to our surprise, they changed the parade route this year and it went right by our hotel. We had a free four night stay due to credit card points so I thought we'd have the worst room in this gorgeous hotel due to the fact rooms are $999 and the place is sold out. I think Christi played a role because we ended up with a view of the parade route from our room. Temperatures were great yesterday for the parade (in the 50s) but to open our room window and to listen and watch the parade from the comfort of our 10th floor room - wow! It was an incredible experience! Shayne said, "I don't deserve this, but I'll take it," which summed up my thoughts as well. It was glorious! In 2004 we were able to take the girls to this amazing parade. This was MUCH BETTER than standing along the streets.

Shayla really enjoyed our incredible view!

A visit to Central Park isn't complete for Shayla unless it includes a trip to the Balto Statue! It was one of the many things that choked me up yesterday as I kept thinking, "Maybe coming to THIS city wasn't the best of ideas." We cherish so many memories of Christi here. I am soooooooooo thankful I have them - and that I had her at all; sometimes it just hurts.
We took Shayla's ice skates and spent a couple of hours at the skating rink in Central Park. Much to our delight the weather was incredible (55 degrees and sunny for the most part). It was a great way for the three of us to spend Thanksgiving day.
We spent many hours wandering around Central Park on Thanksgiving Day. We picked up some deli food for lunch/dinner back at our hotel and Shayla was ready to head back out - not me. I wanted to work on a paper I'm writing so they headed out. Pretty soon I received a text, "We're in West Side Story". I couldn't believe it - they went to see a Broadway show. Shayne said as soon as they got out of the hotel a lady was in front of the theatre holding up two tickets. Shayne said, "How much? I only have $25 on me." Because he thought he'd just walk around with Shayla for a little bit and come back to the hotel room, he only had $25 in his wallet. They were flashing the lights for the show to start so she said, "I'll take it," and they all went in to see "West Side Story" together. Amazing! After the show, Shayne brought Shay up to the room and then he went out and brought me back some NY cheesecake - wow! I don't deserve this man!

I know how very, very blessed I am! I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving together!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Savannah, Georgia!

My favorite part of the trip was touring the "Mercer House" the house where the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil" takes place. The teacher in me required reading of the other ladies on our trip and most of them were very good students and followed through. Touring the house, where things were SPECFICIALLY SAID, was quite interesting (and very funny actually). (Don't mention the book or the movie or you may be asked to leave!) "A movie was filmed here based on an "incident" which happened in this home. Behind you you will see....." (Oh, I'm still chuckling over that one!)

Aunt Marty and Cousin Lora!

Niece Ashley and mom in front of "Lady & Sons" Paula Deen's restaurant. (I had never even heard of her prior to our trip. Now I'm half way through her book "Paula Deen - a memoir - It Ain't All About the Cookin'" and it is FANTASTIC!)

Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist

Mom and Lora chat on Tybee Island.

We rented a huge and GORGEOUS restored home. It was spotless, and had four bedrooms with four full baths. When mom was making room assignment suggestions, I ended up with the Master Suite - wow! It was amazing!

Marty & Lora on our carriage ride. Maybe that was my favorite part of the three night trip.

Tina and Ashley in front of one of the gorgeous Savannah homes.

CRAZY TOURISTS! Six relatives in Savannah! We flew in from four different cities and were so happy to spend three wonderful days relaxing, laughing, eating, touring and shopping together. What a glorious time we had!

Our distracted pirate "friend" from "The Pirate House" - the oldest house in Georgia and where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote parts of "Treasure Island" - very cool!

The lighthouse at Tybee Island, gorgeous weather the whole trip too!

Mom and the Waving Lady

Forsyth Park! Definitely worth the walk!

Eating at Paula Deen's Restaurant. Can you say "Put some South in your Mouth"? May I one day shed the pounds I gained there!

After our tour of Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace home. She was the Founder of the Girl Scouts.

Walking on Tybee Beach, about 20 minutes outside of Savannah.

Enjoying the day in Savannah.

Lora in City Market. My poor cousin; she had the longest distance to travel and had long flight delays both ways, ergh! My heart was breaking for her with each text I received updating us with her news. FINALLY, I got to hop in the rental car and make that airport pick up! Later, Marty rode with me to pick up my sister and when she described what I was driving to Tina so she'd know to come out to the curb, Marty told her I was driving a hearse and wearing a pirates hat. What a hoot! My sister knew there could be nothing more removed from the truth, but it was a hilarious thought as I was transporting her to America's "most haunted city".

Savannah was one of the most charming, lovely, historic, gentle and quaint places I have ever traveled to visit. Obviously, I missed Shayne and Shayla, but I was thankful Shayne suggested making this trip to me and I kept thinking that I'd love to bring them with me on another trip.

Today has been a great day playing "catch up" as I'm officially on "Thanksgiving Break" - I never started Thanksgiving break on a Tuesday before, but.........I like it! YES!!!! Thank you, dear Lord, for blessing me with my new job! I LOVE IT! (And Shay started basketball practice today so I'm anxious for her to arrive home so I can hear what she thought of her first practice!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weekly Update - November 18th

We've had a lovely week; sometimes I just can't believe how blessed we are! I'm more in love with my sweet husband than ever before. He recently said how nice it was that my life has slowed down and we're now able to spend a lot of time together, really enjoying each other's company. (We had "date night" last Thursday night as we went with friends to a fundraiser at a Comedy Club and got a hotel room in Perrysburg while Shay stayed with my mom and Joe. It was a riot; we laughed so hard and are still retelling jokes to each other, still laughing hard!)

Shayla LOVED her Saturday spent with her great aunt Marty and uncle Jeff. I just wish everyone had an "aunt Marty" in their life because what an amazing world this would be!

Shayla had a few friends from dance over on the weekend and they had a blast. Shayne and I loved all of the noise and laughter filling our home; sometimes it is just too quiet. I can vividly remember how loud TWO children living in our home were and then when Christi died, it was suddenly quiet as Shayla just played by herself.

I've also been blessed over the week to have some more long over due lunches and breakfasts with friends. Spending quality time with friends; something not done in a terribly long time, but that I promised myself I would do once my new job started and I've been doing just that. Shayla recently said, "Again?" when I told her what my plans for the day were. I told her, "Aren't I lucky to have so many friends who want to go to lunch with me?" (Of course getting Christi's cemetery plaque is also on my list too....hmmmm...I had a dream about that lack of that the other night. I really must do that.) I've also been catching up on my reading and I recently watched "Gone with the Wind" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" preparing for a little "birthday trip" down South Shayne suggested. I'm taking off soon with some of my "favorite people" as Shayne termed them.

Over the week I attended my final game as an Ohio State Student. I can say it was the best game I watched the Buckeyes play in three years of being a season ticket holder, yet it was also sad knowing I will be back, but not sitting in the crazy student section ever again. (Although it might be nice to actually SIT and watch a game sometime instead of standing like we do in the student section.)

Shortly before the game I received a text from a former student, who is a band member. It said, "Where are you?" And although I was too far away to get to where we usually meet, it made me cry to realize how fortunate I have been to have a career that has allowed me to touch student lives.

Soon after I started my new job at BG, I received an email from a student telling me she has followed Christi's story since her 8th grade teacher told her about Christi in 2002. She welcomed me to BGSU. I told her that I'd love to meet her and treat her to lunch, just as soon as my dissertation defense was over. Finally, this week I got to do just that. I was so shocked by her choice of major.....she wants to be a Child Life Specialist. Oh, she WILL BE AWESOME! I blinked away tears (actually, many times throughout our lunch and visit back at my office together) as I knew how important Child Life Specialists are to little cancer patients, who really need "fun things" to do.

OK, I just HAD to do it! This is my version of "Rushing the Field" after Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship (and a bid to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena) in overtime on Saturday! While students were throwing themselves over the concrete and running to the center of the field, Shayne jokingly said, "Angela, you've got to do that! It's your last game! When are you ever going to get on that turf?" I laughed and said, "I know I WANTED to graduate in June walking down in this stadium, but my dissertation committee thought otherwise, now I'm graduating in a gymnasium - yuck. Really, I just need to get to the ladies room." Finally, we decided the fastest way back to catch our bus to our van was actually to walk through the stadium - with all of the "hoopla" - so we did. What an experience! Let's just say I was probably the calmest student in that mess!

Early this week I mailed out a few graduation invitations with tears in my eyes. I sometimes cannot believe I'm done and that I really did it. I can't wait to celebrate with a handful close family and friends in Columbus in a matter of weeks. I vividly remember submitting my application while living in the Ronald McDonald House of Philadelphia in the fall of 2003. The journey was longer, harder and much more expensive than I ever thought at that time and sometimes on my late long drives home from classes I'd question myself, "Will this ever pay off?" I can honestly say the answer to that for me has been a HUGE - YES!!! I didn't know I could be this happy again, thank you Lord!

I hope you and yours have a fabulous week! May God grant you all peace, good health and happiness!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Morning Sunshine!

Ahhhhhh, it was so nice to have today off for "Veterns Day!" God bless our veterans and I don't remember ever getting that day off before so.......I LOVE MY NEW JOB! And speaking of veterans reminds me of a military supporter - Robin Meade! Therefore, I have an awesome new book to recommend today! It was sooooooooooo good I read the entire book in two sittings. It's called "Morning Sunshine" by Robin Meade - Anchor HLN Morning Express with Robin Meade. In my younger (and much thinner) days, I had the pleasure of being friends with Robin. Over the years life has gone on and I've lost contact with her, but I wish I could tell her how much I LOVED her book and how I had no idea she struggled as she did. I hope you read it and enjoy it as much as I did. I'm so honored to have ever known this amazing young woman! I ought to actually drop a note to her parents and ask them to let her know how inspiring (and humorous) her book was to me, and how I want to talk to those high school girls who weren't very nice to her - they had to just be plain jealous of her and her many blessings.....perhaps I'll do just that! Goooooo, Robin! Thanks for writing a wonderful book! I'm so proud of you!

I had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with beautiful Robin during my late college years. We roomed together when we completed for Miss Ohio. (Of course she later went on to win, but I had a great time spending the week with so many amazing and downright fun and intelligent young women.) During this time she used to joke she was going to become a broadcaster and have her own TV interview show and she'd have me on as a guest! What a hoot! I was a young teacher trying to win scholarship money for my Master's Degree - which I'm proud to state was FULLY FUNDED by my winnings in the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program, where entry fees are never charged and volunteers run the incredible organization.
Robin doesn't mention this in her book but when she writes about her husband's joking comment regarding some frozen yogurt she was eating I had to remember driving home from Cleveland with her one time, just the two of us in my little car, and I went through the drive-thru at McDonalds for our dinner. She asked, "Do you ever just get yogurt for dinner? I'm going to do that." I said, "No, it never even crossed my mind." Then she ordered TWO cones, managed to balance them and ate them both - this little (less than 100 pound) gal. What a hoot! When she talks in the book about her previous poor eating habits I had to laugh because I remembered that. What a cutie! I love how in the book she talks about her home and her parents because it put me right back to standing in her home and spending a bit of time with her parents. They are so loving and supportive - amazing people; it was great to learn so much more about them while reading her book.

With our awesome host mom I still keep in touch with before the style show. While staying with her during my three years of competing, I knew our host family had lost a son in an accident, but it wasn't until Christi's battle with cancer that it really hit me and I wished I'd asked her more about her son. Check out Robin in her "hot pink" outfit - she was the sweetest (and prettiest) competitor by far. I remember wanting to walk and she wanted to jog sooooooooo, she jogged backwards while I walked (that's talent!).

(Photo: Miss Ohio Scholarship Program Week in Mansfield, Ohio) I remember competing together for the Miss Portsmouth pageant (I still can't believe she didn't win - she should have!) Regardless, it was a "local" pageant which, like all other local Miss Ohio pageants, qualified the winner to compete in the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program in June. We drove together for practices (I always drove because she said when she was little she wouldn't take naps so her mom would drive her around until she fell asleep and now when she's in a car she falls asleep. In the book she talks about her husband not liking her driving and I had to smile and laugh about that! Anyway, we roomed together in a hotel for that pageant and I decided that night my bangs were too long so she cut them for me. We joked that we must really be trusting friends because otherwise one would never let another competitor cut their hair the night before a pageant. Funny! That was also the night she decided she was going to straighten her curly hair to compete the next day. I remember her parents reaction when they saw her at the pageant the next night, they weren't happy. She really looked so different and now I cannot imagine her with that big beautiful curly hair. As she says in her book, "Back when my hair was bigger than my butt." Oh, I've laughed at that one over and over - so true, so true! Those were the good old days, hee hee!

As Robin shares in her book, she was suffering from voice problems. This did not stop her from being the beautiful singer at our wedding. She was amazing and I remember being so disappointed that she did not win Miss Ohio that year because she really should have. She kept saying, "It's ok, my voice just isn't healthy." I couldn't believe she was so at peace, but she was. Thankfully, she later got her voice back won Miss Ohio and did FABULOUS competing at Miss America too! She really should have won!
May God bless you, sweet Robin Meade! Thanks for an awesome book! You are a gem - a rare and precious find - now keep your clothes on and keep your job so I can keep watching you while I do my sit ups! You're inspiring!

I don't know why I don't have a picture of Robin and Tim at their wedding; I definitely remember it - without a doubt it was the BIGGEST wedding we'd ever been to and everything was absolutely perfect! I remember being on the campus of Ashland University with Robin, after she met Tim. They were getting ready to go to a costume party and I thought, "Oh, wow! A guy who will dress up in a costume to go to a party, he's a keeper!" When they got married I thought they were the most gorgeous couple I'd ever seen, totally movie star like.

Robin gave me a HUGE compliment one time when she arrived at my home and said, "Your neighbors must think I'm you - you know, big brown hair driving a little white car, they all waved at me."

When I had a teachers' meeting in Chicago in 2000, I went to visit Robin and Tim in their incredible home. I remember walking in and thinking I was in a hotel lobby only to soon realize it was their living room! In the book she talked about her home decorating and I got to see some of her amazing work while I was there. (She also showed me how to do a "crooked part" on my hair as I thought, "How does she learn this stuff? I'm changing diapers and she's doing all of this great stuff!) Reading about her struggle during this time period in the book was shocking as I had NO IDEA she was suffering so during our visit together. What a lady!
Of course, Robin - wearing jeans and HIGH, HIGH heels helped me get back to my hotel when our visit was over by holding my hand, walking my down the street, putting me in a cab and telling the driver where I need to go. Of course I was a bit scared in the city and also so amazed at her "city sense". I didn't know this little lady from "the middle of the cornfields" had such a confident demeanor when she need to have one. (Christi used to tell the nurses that was where she was from, "the middle of a cornfield". She never knew it was an expression of Robin's but that was where I first heard it and I still use it today to describe where I'm from.) I remember Robin one time telling me it was like, "Children of the Corn". I've never watched the movie because she said it was scary. I think that was the same trip we took together when she told me to put down the windows so she could listen to the crickets. When I read that she loved that sound in her book I nearly cried because it all came back to me.
So shortly after this time I lost touch with Robin. She was busy becoming famous and I was busy being a mom of a 3 and a 1 year old - both crazy things. I emailed with her a couple of times after Christi was diagnosed, but lost contact with her after that. I wish her all the best! I'm so proud of her and so glad I have great memories of spending time with her. I hope you read her book!