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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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Tween Room - Nearly Complete

The new carpet will be delivered and installed on Tuesday, but here's a sneak preview of the "Chrsiti turned Shayla's new 'tween room". I love it!

New paint, new carpet, new bedding and curtains - the "tween room" turned out really cute! I will say it was much harder than I expected to let go of "Christi's Room", but I love Shayla's new room so much one afternoon I said to her, "Can I sit on your bed and read? I just love it in here." We've now moved on to the long overdue task of redecorating the basement and removing our "Christi Items" from down there.....oh will this task and pain ever end?!

Ironically, this is the wooden box Christi painted in 2003 when she was five years old and we were living at the Ronald McDonald House. What were the chances it was going to be the same colors her surviving sister would pick out for her new bedroom?! Crazy! I'm not certain where Shayla will decide to display it in her room, but were were pretty amazed that the colors were perfect. I know this has been hard for Shayla too. She really misses Christi. She doesn't come home from school and hide behind the couch and cry anymore like she did right after Christi's death, but there are times when it brings her down too. May God comfort her and always keep her safe and from harm's way.

(Check out the orbs in this picture - the only picture with orbs. This picture was taken last Tuesday when Shayla came home from school and saw her new paint for the first time, then we went to rearrange the furniture to see where she wanted everything. We both think Christi would love these colors and this room.)

Bye Bye Sweet Christi's room. The "wallpaper removal guy" saved me some of Christi's wallpaper. I may arrange it in a shadow box or something. I really liked her little girl room. She'll always be my little girl, one of them.
(PIC: Christi's 8th birthday - playing in her room with Cousin Shelby)

Shayla had another nice weekend filled with friends. Her basketball team won their tournament on Saturday morning so I took her and a friend out for pizza to celebrate. (She's now started another basketball program - this one for the city, not just her school) She had a friend over Friday night and spent Saturday night with friends at a Japanese steakhouse and at the BGSU basketball game. Today she performed a little skit with her church youth group "Out Loud" and is having another friend over. Shayla will never know how much joy she brings us and how much we absolutely treasure and adore her. It's hard to believe it's almost SHAYLAUARY and soon she will be 11. Eleven? Wow! What would Christi think; she would be 12 now, if only she had lived to see double digits - wild!

For a couple of years actually, I've wondered how I would handle her 13th birthday - seems like that's such a big one. Well, in case I didn't say, "I love my new job" this week - I LOVE MY NEW JOB! For Christi's 13th birthday, I had thought off and on about having a "Teenager Birthday Party" but then wondered how terrible I'd feel if no one showed up - well THANK YOU BGSU, instead of sitting at home I will be spending Christi's 13th birthday with two other professors I really look up to and 9 amazing BGSU education majors touring some of the best schools in the world - far far away in another time zone where I'll need my passport! That will be an incredible (and needed) distraction. God is good! I am blessed!

(PIC: For Shayla's research project at HEIGHTs she's pursing the topic of "Marketing to Pre-Teens". She's not doing a topic like cats or basketball, so she's really struggling to find material. One day I came home and said that one of my students works at Justice, Shayla's favorite store. I thought she'd say, "Cool, mom! I love that store," but instead she said, "Perfect! I need to interview her." When I learned she was serious, I set an interview up. Shayla prepared her questions and during our meal at the Japanese restaurant she interviewed this amazing student I'm lucky to have in class. She's going to be a FABULOUS teacher! What a sweetie!

My new guestroom / office will be done in a matter of hours - YES!

This is one of my sweet (and very talented and athletic) students. She will be a fantastic teacher. One very lucky school district will snap her right up.
I loved watching her cheer last night and I pray she doesn't get dropped and hurt herself cheering on the Falcons! Those cheerleaders are INCREDIBLE!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ready or Not, We're Moving On

Some final "treasurers" I removed from Christi's room.

I've loved this since the day I bought it for her. Now I will soon put it in a plastic tub - crazy, but I don't know of any one named CHRISTI who likes ballet. I can't throw it away yet I know ultimately Shay will most likely be stuck doing that one day. I'm so sorry Shayla!

Christi made this little light switch cover out of fabric. We're not certain if it will stay or go - it's up to Shay Shay.

This was the final item I removed from Christi's room. It is a Gund bear given to her on our first trip to Children's Hospital in Columbus that frightening afternoon when we learned she had a tumor. Christi was in horrific pain, and terribly scared. Shayne drove with tears streaming down his face the entire way to Columbus while I sat in the back and tried to comfort five year old Christi in her car seat. She was in great pain. They told us they didn't have a bed for her, the hospital was packed. We were told us to get a hotel room. A sweet lady took this bear off of her desk and gave it to Christi to try to comfort her. Christi loved the very soft bear. That sweet lady somehow got us a room in the hospital and Christi was soon on morphine to help her with the pain. When we came home three weeks later, after her first surgery and first round of chemo, Christi put that bear above her mirror and it stayed there until now. I'm certain the secretary never thought any more about it - but may God bless her for her kindness when we really needed to get Christi out of pain.

Shayla is excited about her new blue/green "tween room"! She did a great job of repainting Christi's beige furniture "ultra white". The wall paper will be removed tomorrow and the aqua and lime paint will go on next. Oh my! We're really doing this. I vividly remember right after Christi's death closing the door and telling myself she was in there reading, playing and talking on the phone with her friends. That helped me. Denial is great; I just wish it were true!

The cat and foot/water bowls Christi drew on this mirror caused some tears during lunch. Shayne asked Shayla, "Should we wash off the cat Christi drew on her bedroom mirror?" (It really is faded.) I suggested we could have someone clean it off for us. Shayla said she wanted to leave it as tears poured down her cheeks perhaps at the thought she should even have to consider such a thing. She also did not want to paint over the labels "socks" "panties", etc. Christi had created with her label machine Alex Scott gave her in Philly when she was eight. I was surprised. When Shayne asked her why not remove them she said, "They're from Christi!" Enough said! That sums it all up for me too!

We will never be able to repay all of the kind people (so many strangers) who showered Christi with love during her four year battle with cancer. I think this is what brought many of my tears yesterday - so much love for one little gal. She was truly worthy of it all too. She was a gem - a rare and precious find. Christi, you are so loved!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A First Success

Shay, one of the "Twin Towers" with her sweet coach and teammates.

At this morning's ball game, Shayla made her first basket during a game. This was HUGE for her. She'd really been disappointed that she hadn't been able to put one through the hoop and today she did it twice. Whew! PRAISE GOD! (Of course, she's been telling us she tries to pass the ball as soon as she gets it because she can't remember which basket is theirs and she doesn't want to put it in for the other team. That totally cracked me up.) Today she shot at least 20 times, but what joy to score six of the 24 points for her undefeated team little fifth grade team. Her smile was HUGE! She's learned a lot about playing ball. It's definitely not her love - like horse riding and dance, but she's having fun (and so are we cheering for her team). They are precious!

I'll update with the "end of Christi's" room soon. It's been more emotional than I thought, but Shayla's room is going to be awesome and Christi would be happy for Shayla I'm sure!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Amazing Progress

It's hard to believe just seven days ago, I set out to tackle Shayla's "green bedroom" after Shayne suggested he was going to repaint in the basement and I complained, "Shouldn't we do the girls' bedrooms first?!". Thanks a ton to the sweet, sweet bloggers who shared their dreaded wallpaper removal tips with me. (Check out the orb!)

The room is done (well, almost....).
The carpet was put down this afternoon; tonight we moved the furniture back in and Shayne hung up the new curtains - ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Shay and I just might sleep in the new room tonight. We're still thinking on that, but we think it would be fun!PIC: Shayla walked in the room after I was finished, danced around a bit, fell on the bed and said, "It's so pretty, mom!" It definitely meets her approval. (She also gave me the beige star she won at the family Christmas exchange because she thought it looked nice in the room. Shayne put it above the bed for me. She's really a sweetie!)

This is how Christi left the bulletin board. I've yet to be able to touch anything on it. Guess what I'm doing tomorrow. Oh, my! May God give me strength and grace.

I'm happy to say that I've hired someone to remove the wallpaper and to paint Christi's old bedroom for me. The wallpaper removal in Shayla's green room was horrific and I think Christi's room will be just too emotional in addition to the tedius task of picking the pretty purple ballerina paper off.

This week Shay went to the paint store to select the colors for her new "tween room". This will be her 11th birthday present. It is almost Shayluary! Oh how are we moving on without that other young lady?! I don't know. I do feel guilty about it and like the last little pieces I have of her will be gone this weekend. I did go to the cemetery to talk with her about it on Thursday afternoon and, well, she didn't say anything back and her grave site was covered with snow. If I would have had my gloves I would have made her a little snowman, but I didn't. I know that would have made her laugh. She had the greatest laugh!

Here's wishing you and yours a fabulous weekend! ENJOY! BE WELL!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MLK Weekend - 13 Years Ago

Ironically, thirteen years ago we spent this long weekend preparing the nursery for the arrival of our new baby (Christi) by wallpapering the walls. (I selected a pattern of "mint green clouds" because we didn't know if we were having a girl or a boy and the carpet in that room when we moved in was mint green as well.) Guess what I've been doing MLK weekend this year? Taking down that same wallpaper - and a few "interesting" things have turned up as well, making me feel like Christi is with us!

Throughout this post I will share old pictures of the girls as little ones! I was looking for pictures of the nursery, but found these instead.
Because I'm working a few days a week from home with my awesome new job, I've been desiring a better place to work (not that my computer on the kitchen table isn't "nice", but I waste a lot of time packing things up when Shayla gets home from school so we can use the kitchen table for homework not to mention dinner). Thankfully, Shayla moved herself into Christi's room a couple of years ago (saving us from the agony of having to do "something" with Christi's room - a room that still actually makes me uncomfortable being in there). When we're finished we'll have an "office/guest room" - ahhhhhh! Next, we will redo Shayla's room so that it's HER room, not Christi's. (Trust me, that's giving me some anxiety, but she deserves her own room and I should move on even though it's so hard. The thought of taking down Christi's lovely purple ballerina themed wallpaper is going to be a killer, but......taking down the nursery room with visions of 13 years ago has caused enough tears. I should be ready when I move to redoing that room for Shayla. She deserves it!)

FREAKY: In the midst of packing up Shayla's green room and going through all of her toys, the same Disney Princess toy that started playing randomly after Christi's death started playing again - wild. I heard it and Shayla said, "Mom! That's the same sound that started playing after Christi died, right?" Oh, yes indeed she was right. Freaky, really freaky! Shayla and I discussed it. I worried it was a sign Christi was upset we were taking down her ballerina items and turning her bedroom into Shayla's new cool "aqua and lime" pre-teen room Shay has picked out. Shayla said she thought Christi would want us to make our house fit our new needs even though they don't involve her. I don't know. Regardless, it was quite freaky! (PIC: at the Toledo Zoo's "Boo at the Zoo", 2000)

Shayla came to check on me many times throughout the weekend (scraping wallpaper is %&X!L:GL!@!). She knew I needed some extra loving. Not only was it hard work because the paper didn't want to budge, but it was terribly emotional as well. The little sweetie shared many stories about playing with Christi in that green room. (And now I know why the door no longer fully closes - very interesting, who knew?! I guess now that she knows she won't get in trouble she can confess what the sisters were scheming that day when they messed up the door with their antics.) Too funny! (now) Boy, I miss her! (PIC: Baby Christi swinging on the old swingset in the backyard, 1997.)

Another "interesting" fact was that I discovered another Christi's FIND - a new little nugget! I opened up a small notebook that was under the bed I moved while scrapping wallpaper off the walls. In the notebook is a one page letter Chrsiti wrote to Shelby (her cousin). Christi was in the 2nd grade when she wrote it. I read it and cried with both happiness and sadness. I was THRILLED to find something I'd not known about and yet so sad because she's dead and I probably won't ever find anything else new. (And Shelby misses Christi so bad too.) Then of course it was back to scraping off that nasty wallpaper. ERGH! (PIC: Shelby at Chrisiti's 2nd birthday party, May 1999)

My wallpaper removal experience made me think of my dad a lot. My dad would never let my mom wallpaper or put up border because it would "ruin the walls" (and I used to think, "In THAT old house - are you kidding, Dad?! How old fashioned are you?!" But of course I'd never say anything to disagree with him.) This weekend of course I'm thinking, "Boy my dad was smart! I had no idea back then, but now I know he was a genius. Sure wish I would have listened to him and painted instead." (PIC: With Baby Christi at a seafood restaurant in Maine, fall 1997)

I've also had another circulating thought: For thirteen years we've been so blessed to enjoy this lovely whimsical wallpaper in the "nursery later turned Shayla's little girl room" where we added a border when she was taking gynmastics lessons at the YMCA. Thirteen years. I never had wallpaper until we moved into our home and I loved it so. Thirteen years. I think I can suffer through this horrific wallpaper scraping for how much I loved that room for thirteen years. I guess I got a lot out of it after all. So many memories, reading to the girls in the rocking chair every night. Delightful memories! After Shayla was born, Christi would have to sit on a little stand beside the rocking chair because I couldn't hold two girls (21 months apart) and our nightly books to read to them all at the same time. Great memories! Great nursery! (Soon to be GREAT OFFICE/GUESTROOM!)

It couldn't be all work and no play. On Monday afternoon I took Shayla to the scrapbook store for a couple of hours so that I could give her all of my attention and let her relax and work on her scrapbook. It was delightful! (Especially knowing the awesome worker and having a surprise visit from my sweet aunt who stopped by the store to shop)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

We Hope You Can Join Us for a Great Cause!

Bowling for "Kids Cancer Crusade"
Saturday, February 13, 2010
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Plaza Lanes
2641 E. State Street
Fremont, Ohio

$45 per lane per hour (6 people to lane)

Please reserve your lane before the event by contacting Sarah at (567)201-3239 or Checks can be made to Kids Cancer Crusade and mailed to PO Box 1045 Fremont, OH 43420.

We hope to see you there! Join us if you can!

Kids Cancer Crusade is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supporting families of children with cancer.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Back to Work

After an amazing holiday break, I'm now back on campus trying to nurture aspirations and cultivate minds. In an effort to make myself "human" to my students and not as "the professor who just handed out a 25 page syllabus", I shared with my students a few pictures of myself (20 years ago) when I was taking the exact same class at BGSU I am now teaching at BGSU "Language Arts Methods".

In just a matter of weeks, they will be out in their assigned placements full-time, teaching and I will be supervising. These pictures show my BGSU "Methods Placement" in a fifth grade classroom in the Toledo Public Schools. Truly, it seems like yesterday (and was that really 35 pounds ago?! Yikes. I must start my diet soon.).

I don't know what my students' long term goals are, but I hope they know they can count on me to help them get where they want to go. I've had too many amazing teachers, professors and friends guide me over countless years not to want to help others as I've been assisted. I'm here to give back!

Go, Falcons! Let's work really hard and have a great spring semester!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Cutting Edge in the Tiffin City Schools

Shayla told us a few days ago that her class would be doing a teleconference event with a class in China. Shayne questioned her on how they were going to do that because he's been to China and they are 12 hours behind/ahead of us. Then with that puzzled look on her face she responded, "Maybe it's not China, but some other country." Indeed it was "some other country" - England, five hour time difference. With great excitement, Shayla told us about the experience on Monday. Imagine my excitement to see her happy face passing the ball on the front page of the newspaper yesterday morning! What a great surprise!

Here's the Advertiser Tribune's article and photo - by Jill Gosche, Education Editor Extraordinaire!

Teleconferencing gave students in Tiffin an opportunity to talk to students in London Monday and see how diverse learning experiences can be. They also saw how similar their experiences are.

Kathy Mohr, director of technology for North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, said when students talked about math and science lessons, she found they were learning a lot of the same things.

"We all like McDonald's, too," she said.

Monday morning, fifth-graders in Paula Perna's class at Clinton Elementary School connected, by way of video-conferencing, with Paul Greenwood's class at Northwood Primary School in London. The London children were 9, 10 and 11 years old.

Clinton students could see the London students on a screen at the front of the class.

A small box in the corner showed them the view the London children would have of the Tiffin classroom.

Mohr, who led Monday's discussion, coordinates video conferencing opportunities for area teachers and estimated she leads several teleconferences per week.

Monday's session, which lasted about 50 minutes, was not the first time she has initiated an international connection.

"I'm really pleased with how it all did come out today," she said.

Mohr said Greenwood found her name on a distribution list where teachers collaborate on video conferencing opportunities. He asked her if she would find a class in the U.S. that would connect with him.

Originally, the classes were to discuss President Barack Obama, but the class had moved on to other topics. The classes briefly discussed the president before having a more relaxed conversation about the schools and what students are doing in Ohio, Mohr said.

Clinton students heard Northwood students sing a song in Spanish and explain how their school day lasts six hours. The children discussed musical instruments they play, sports and their favorite television programs.

One Clinton fifth-grader, wearing a New York shirt, asked whether any of the Northwood students had been to America. One Northwood student was born in New York.

The uniform-wearing children in London taught the children in Tiffin a game that involves children passing a ball over their heads and between their legs. Greenwood suggested they have a trans-Atlantic race, so Perna located a red ball.

Five Clinton students participated in the contest, and the Northwood students barely won.

Mohr said the teleconference wasn't a structured activity so it gave students an opportunity to ask questions about what it is like to live in their respective areas and discuss things they have in common and the differences about where they live.

"It was a very good exchange," she said.

After's Monday teleconference, Mohr received an e-mail from Greenwood. He would like to connect with the Tiffin class again. The two discussed potential activities and she said it sounds like the two classes will continue their connection.

Students in Greenwood's class are writing an essay to send to Obama to see whether he will participate in a video conference with them, and Greenwood invited the Tiffin class to participate if he can make the arrangements.

Mohr said she is not sure whether it is a possibility.

"We'll see," she said.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The First Band Concert

Christi had her instrument all picked out upon entering 5th grade. Unfortunately, she didn't live long enough to actually get that instrument or to take lessons, to practice or to perform. Last night was Shayla's first band concert - and she was very lucky to be there! (I really don't believe in luck, but it had to play a role in this.) Let me first back up just a bit.

We ended our incredible five nights in Keystone by skating on America's largest outdoor skating rink. Next we drove to Vail and had lunch so that we could see what Vail was like (amazing too). After lunch we headed back near Denver to visit with Shayne's cousin and her husband (and AWESOME child). We overnighted with them and went to the airport Sunday morning nice and early.....that's when the "adventure" began.

While waiting in line to check our luggage we learned that the Cleveland airport was without power and there would be no flights going in or out of Cleveland the entire day. Now I kept thinking, "I've had five weeks off and now that I have to be to work the next day, there is a problem." And, "We fly out of so many different airports, why did it happen to be Cleveland today?" So odd! Finally, it was our turn at the counter to see what we could work out. After much checking, desperately trying to locate three seats on the same plane going to some other city, we were booked on a later flight to Dayton. We were happy to be able to get to Ohio on Sunday, so we took that fight. After landing in Dayton, we spent $150 to rent a car to drive 300 miles to Cleveland, where our van was parked. Then it was an hour and a half drive home. CRAZY! But we made it and were quite thankful when we finally pulled in our drive way. We definitely won't ever forget that adventure home!

Prior to going to Keystone, Shayla came home one day with a concerned look on her face. She had learned that she earned first chair in band, but that the concert was when we were going to be in Keystone skiing. I told her to practice hard and maybe she'd keep that seat for the spring concert. (OK, Shayne and I actually considered trying to reschedule our trip so she wouldn't miss it, but thankfully we didn't.)

While in Keystone, Shayla was chatting with one of her friends one night and she learned due a snowstorm back home the concert she was going to miss was rescheduled for Monday. She was so happy and so thankful! I emailed the band director to see if she could still participate. He said, "It must be divine intervention because her name and chair were actually printed in the program." Amazing! God is good!

NOTE FOR MY PARENTS FROM SHAYLA'S PROUD MOMMY who claims she places no worth on grades (smile). Shayla's report card was all As again. (A- in math and A+ in band) WHEW! She's had a great year so far. Thank you, dear Lord! OK, and what is a little bit comical is that Shayla's wonderful principal called me before our trip to inform me that school policy was only five days of vacation per year which she took in December and Shayla taking another week off to go skiing was in violation. I sweetly asked him, trying not to laugh out loud, "Should I hire her a tutor?" (thinking my BGSU students would love to pick up some ca$h if the school made us do this and Shayla would LOVE their attention - if we could just squeeze it in with everything else she has going on). I truly understand school policy and know why he had to call, he is a great principal, but Shayne and I laughed over that more than once. (And what was really funny about it was that they were watching a full length movie the day he called, "The Polar Express". That's educational - wink) Thankfully, she's a healthy child and doesn't miss school for illness. We are blessed!

Here's wishing you and yours a great week!

An oldie, but goodie (I miss that little sweetpea!) PHOTO: Summer 2001 outside of Dallas, visiting with my friend while Shayne was in Texas for work. Christi holds one of the twin's hand while Shayla is in the stroller. I often thought Christi might end up marrying one of those boys! Melissa and I joked, "We'd like their in-laws!" thinking it'd be great fun. We met at BGSU in our teacher preparation program, both taught first grade for a while and were in each other's weddings. Good times, great friends! Now Melissa is doing much more important work as a full time mom to many more than these two blessed little guys- homeschooling them all too!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Keystone, Colorado - ski trip!

Last January we twice gave up our seats coming back from Los Angeles when our flights were overbooked. We went to NYC for Thanksgiving with one of the free sets of tickets; and in June (after I saw my new work schedule and that I didn't have to be back to BGSU until mid-January) we booked the other set of free plane tickets for another ski trip to Keystone, Colorado. We had a wonderful family vacation last January, but it was just too short so this year we took off on Tuesday and will return home on Sunday.

Shayne and Shayla have been actively skiing morning, afternoon and some nights. I've done a ton of writing and reading for my job in this amazing condo we rented from Shayne's cousin, so no one could be any happier. We are tremendously blessed! I will try to upload a couple of video clips, but that doesn't always work out for me. If I'm successful, they are very short and are of Shayla skiing.

Shayne and Shay ready to catch the gondola up the mountain.
They took me up the gondola, 11,444 feet, for an incredible dinner last night. What an experience we had at "Der Fondue Chessel".
Posing with skis by the Summit House - up the mountain.
Acting like "Rock Stars" instead of the true "Rock Crushers" they are (hee hee)!

Yes, I'd be happy to suggest a list of books for your 15 year old regarding the Holocaust. Please email me at