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.

A Note About Comments: When you post a Comment, please note that it will appear online after it is approved.

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve 2010

(Pic: Fall 2005 - Christi joking with Jason at COSI) Our deepest thanks to Traci's friend Jason! A while (quite a while, actually) he gave me a CD with many Christi pictures on it. For whatever reason, I didn't save them on my computer at that time. Since we've been home a lot lately, I've had time to get caught up on many things, one of them being organizing my CDs. Low and behold, I popped the CD in and saw pictures of Christi I had never seen before. God is good! Thank you, sweet Jason - we miss you!

In this series, Jason took 12 pictures of Christi in this same spot at her last dance recital (June 2006). Much to our shock and delight, we saw she squeezed a (very quick) little "hello" into her dance routine (middle picture in the series). All three of us laughed in a big way over that one. We didn't think Christi had it in her to be mischievous, but she sure did! (wink)


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wow, sweet bloggers - THANK YOU! I did not catch the orb in our family Christmas Morning picture. I'm so glad a few of you pointed it out to me, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I'm sure it's a bit of dust on my camera lens, but it gives me great comfort as I tell myself Christi "flew in" to celebrate Jesus's birth with us!

We did donate to "Upper's Winter Fantasy of Lights" again this year in Christi's memory. We will not be making it over to Upper Sandusky to see the light display this year, but I've heard it's lovely. Please make a trip if you can! Christi LOVED going there and seeing the gorgeous light display.

I didn't realize that I created a blog entry for Shayla's choir concert and then never published it so I will do that here today. We are having a FABULOUS week! Praise be to God! I've been very productive in terms of work - writing, preparing for my spring courses, my annual review, submitting some conference proposals, and reading. I was also able to visit my grandma in the nursing home yesterday. Shayla's having a fabulous week. She's had many friends over, gone shopping, seen Gulliver's Travels, gone ice skating and to the YMCA, and done some baking and scrapbooking, and finished up a school research project on her future desired career - a free lance writer. She's really looking forward to Friday night - I'm not sure I'm ready! I will update after all of that hoopla!

The sixth graders sing four songs at the middle school concert.

Close up shot of Shay Shay, blurry, but that's what I get when taking photos in a gym.

One of Shayla's ocarinas. She played this one for the group gathered with an 8th grade partner.

Shayla loved being with the older kids and participating in this incredible art program. She was thrilled to learn because she was identified, she will get to participate next year - and they may make jewelry, cool!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Day 2010

Our Christmas Day Hike - simply gorgeous! I never checked my phone during our hike at the park. Getting ready to drive back to our home I pulled it out and was surprised to find out that my sister and her family had driven three hours to our home and we weren't there. We never really set up a time so I thought they'd arrive much later. What a hoot! We weren't there! Thankfully, we were just ten minutes away.

Shay had a glorious time with her three awesome cousins! My sister and I even talked the others into going to see "The Tourist" with us again so that we could watch it a second time. Shayla and all of the females in the group loved it!

"Santa" arrived!

It was so nice that Nee Nee could join us on Christmas morning!

Opening her stocking on Christmas morning.

Family Picture: Christmas Morning 2010

Shayla received some Cupcake Supplies, including this apron.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pre Christmas Update

(Pic: Christmas Eve 2010) It's definitely been a different Christmas this year with Shayla knowing what she does. I told her it really has taken the pressure off of me and she said I took things way too far and didn't need to do so; she never would have figured it out (different wrapping paper, writing on gift tags with my other hand, setting my alarm to get up in the middle of the night, watching Santa's path on the website, etc., etc.). While she was at school one day I wrapped the presents and put them all under the tree. I had never done that before and it was wonderful not to be sitting on the bathroom floor where I always wrapped the presents late at night! This was way too easy, ahhhh!) Speaking of sweet and easy, we didn't make any cookies/treats for Santa and I actually took her shopping with her awesome cousin to pick out some of her own gifts. As soon as she wakes up this morning, we'll see if she's surprised with her new clothes she picked out last week - wink!

The icy morning we took off to go to church and visit grandma and didn't make it, I said to Shayne and Shayla, "I just wonder if we missed the last time we will ever visit grandma at her home," due to her age - she's in her 90s. Well, little did I know.

Last Friday night was graduation at BGSU and I can't even explain what an amazing feeling it was to be sitting with faculty. I had to brush away tears a couple of times as I reflected back to how I sat in the student section just 12 months ago. I've truly had the best year of my life; I can't believe I'm a faculty member at BG and I am so blessed. After graduation, I took off to pick Shayla up from a friend's home and a call came in my car. It was from my sister. "Did anyone call you yet?" Oh, now that made my heart fall. I just knew something had happened to grandma. She told me grandma fell. Our aunt found her and an ambulance had transported her to the hospital. Thank God she was ok; however, what we had been talking about happened. She was put in 24 hour care. Perhaps because she's my only grandparent left and my only connection to my deceased father, I've taken this pretty hard and keep having bad dreams. I know it's the best place for her safety, yet it breaks my heart knowing what's ahead. Shayla and I visited with her this week. I had to blink away tears as I "played" ball with her (with a balloon) during a therapy session, thinking back to days when I was younger. (Grandma and Grandpa were our neighbors so I walked to and from their home countless times.)

On Wednesday of that week, the monument company emailed me a picture of what they designed for Christi's grave marker. I'm typically the "open up an email the moment it pops into my Blackberry" type of gal, but instead I finished some work, ran some errands and then emailed with a friend - a friend we never would have met had Christi's body not been filled with cancer; strange isn't it?! What a blessing friends are sticking with us, getting us through what continue to be some days very difficult ones. Finally, I clicked it open. I LOVED the lettering, absolutely gorgeous, then I scrolled down and did not like any of the rest. I kept thinking, "I don't know what I don't like about it, but I don't." Truly, it's not the fact that I don't like what it is, I will know what I like when I see it and this just wasn't it. I waited until Shayla went to bed and then showed it to Shayne. He didn't really care for it either - but he thought Christi would have thought the " going the wrong directions was hilarious! I just couldn't quite find the humor. The next day I contacted the company with our suggestions for improvements and asked for it to be redone. (I just don't think the ballet slippers should be bigger than her face, right?! Smile.)

It was an incredibly busy for me. I got all of my online course components set up and running for spring semester which begins Jan. 10th. I emailed all of my students so that they could obtain their books and materials. Revised my syllabus for spring semester and I prepared for some professional development sessions I will be conducting for some middle and high school staffs in January. I love it, but it takes a very long time to get everying all set up exactly the way I want it. Additionally, I submitted a manuscript for publication. I'm very pleased with it; however, I just don't know if it's good enough. Fingers crossed! Of course it really hasn't been "all work and no play" this week; I've gotten in a lot of great reading and I rented five "new release" movies (a splurge for me) and watched them all in a week - ahhhh!

We were able to spend last weekend at my sister's home. It was great! We are thrilled they are coming to spend this weekend with us! Shayne went to the Bengals/Browns game and we had "girls time"! Check out the movie, "The Tourist" if you can. I want to see it again!

We were also able to all see Shelby earn her yellow belt, very cool! (Of course, we asked if she was getting shoes and a purse to match her new yellow belt, but she said she's not. - hee hee!) We also got to watch Will's basketball game!

We went to "midnight" mass at 10:00pm last night. (Shayla thought that was pretty funny, midnight mass at ten!) The decorations were gorgeous and Shayla squeezed my hand and told me, "I love you so much, mom," three times. What did I do to deserve this wonderful child?! Absolutely nothing; I don't deserve her. She's such a gift! Thank you, dear Lord!!

(Check out the orb! The only orb of the evening's pictures!)I thought since she now knows the reality of "Santa" we started a new tradition. "Now that she knows" she can open one gift on Christmas Eve. She thought the new tradntion was a fabulous idea! After our steak dinner (Shayne grilled outside, brrrr! So sweet!) Shayla carefully went through each and every package under the tree and picked one. I was really disappointed with her selection, but let it go. She proceeded to open up a box of beef jerky - BEEF JERKY! She liked it, but I couldn't help but think, "Out of all of the amazing gifts under the tree, she opened THAT one!" Oh, Christi was probably giggling her beautiful little angel face off over that one.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours! I will update after our celebration here!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An End of Innocence / Childhood

I knew this day was coming. Quite frankly, I thought it was long overdue and I had been suggesting to Shayne that we sit Shayla down and have that talk - no, not "that talk" we had that one years ago and continue to bring it up and purchase reading materials for her. You know, the "other talk" - the one about Santa.

My BG students knew it had been bugging me. I am always in my classroom early and make small talk with them as they drift in or hang after class. "She's so bright. She CAN'T POSSIBLY believe in Santa Claus, right?" and "I feel like she's never going to trust me or come to me about anything else because she now thinks I'm a liar letting her believe in Santa." My students shared their experiences with discovering the truth over the past couple of weeks with me and basically what they told me boiled down to two things:

1.) She knows, but she doesn't want to tell you she knows because she thinks her gifts will get cut in half at least.

2.) She doesn't know. When the other kids her age were talking about Santa on the bus, she was still riding to and from school with you. Now the middle school kids talk about sex on the bus so she totally missed it and she still believes.

I even had one young woman track me down after the final to say, "Just wanted to let you know that when I was in sixth grade, I still believed. I had no idea it was my parents until they told me after my sixth grade Christmas. Let her believe until she comes to you. It's ok. She'll be ok."

I think perhaps because I learned the evil truth about Santa (smile, it's really ok!) when I was only five years old, before my kindergarten Christmas and because that was so shocking and sad, I wanted my own children to enjoy and believe for along as possible. I was so happy, when Christi died, that she still believed. It just seems to me that once you know about Santa, a part of your childhood, your innocence, is forever gone and I wanted to postpone that for as long as possible.

(Shayla and Shayne - December 1999, 10 months old)

For the past couple of days, whenever "Santa" has come up, Shayla has been saying, "Santa - you mean you!" Hmmmmm. I didn't know how much she knew and I didn't want to ruin her life (wink) by talking about it. Oh, what to do. (At one point she asked, "Are you going to have me email my list to 'Santa' again this year because if so, I'm emailing you." I didn't respond, but I soon got an email on my Blackberry containing her list. So after that little confirming stunt, we had that Santa talk.) She said she didn't really believe last year, you know about flying reindeer and stuff, but she still thought there might be a guy bringing presents. This year she knows it's all your parents. And she did consider not confessing because she thought we might not have a really good Christmas or get her any presents if she told. Oh, my students were right on the money about that one (and I'm still really thinking hard about that middle school bus conversation - ohhhh my!)

The girls with Shayne, 2000: Shayla, 1 1/2, Christi 3 1/2 yrs old

Well, I knew this talk was coming and I was ready. I knew she'd have an absolute blast learning that Shayne, her awesome daddy, use to be the Santa who would come to our home before Christmas. When Christi died that made me sad, knowing I'd never be able to show her the picture of her sitting on Santa's lap and crying her eyes out and telling her it was her loving daddy - who was just as shocked that she reacted that way. So, praise be to God, I got to share those awesome, wonderful memories with Shayla. We stayed up way too late talking about it all and sharing pictures with her last night. When she asked how the tradition started, I shared that my father used to dress up for us and then for the grandchildren until he died. Then Shayne took over. Oh, what a hoot! Now "Little Miss Christmas" wants Shayne to start dressing up and going to people's homes again like he used to do because SHE wants to play the role of Santa's Elf and go in and help! God love her!

Shayla laughed and laughed at this last night saying, "If she only knew it was her own Dad, that is soooooo funny!" I know, Christi would have tried to pull off his beard and kiss his face all over. Oh, she loved her amazing daddy!

THE PICTURE at the very top of this entry is the last time Shayne played Santa for the girls, December 2001: Shayla 2, Christi 4 She was diagnosed before the next Christmas and Shayne knew he'd look at Christi, with her bald little head, and absolutely break down and sob. He knew he could never do it again - and he didn't.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No news here! Shayla's band concert last week was fantastic, 140 students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade bands. I was surprised she was first chair flute, but she said it was no big deal. Regardless, I was impressed. I love to hear her play. Tonight is her choir concert and also her gifted art academy event. Thanks to the sweet blogger who emailed me while we were at Disney that Shayla's picture was on the front of the school website. I had no idea! Here it is! THANKS! Shayla really enjoys her pull out art program on Tuesdays. I think there are 12 students; she was the only sixth grader selected. We of course emailed our friends from the MET in NYC and thanked them for giving her such a great start with art!

We were planning to visit my grandma after church on Sunday; however, seeing cars in the ditches along the way made us turn around and head home. We cleaned the basement, cooked and read instead. Shayla enjoyed a snow day yesterday and spent most of it cleaning and scrapbooking. I couldn't make it to BG for a thesis defense so they Skyped me in. It was actually quite comical. They emailed me not to try to drive they'd Skype me in. I said, "That would be great! What time?" Of course, I had never Skyped before so, the first thing I did was put make up on and change my top! THEN I downloaded it and called Eric and my GA to see if the could practice with me since I had about 15 minutes left before the meeting. Whew! It is EASY! My colleagues most likely never knew it was a brand new experience for me (and I'm sure they were glad I put some make up on and changed my shirt) - what a hoot!

We went to take another look at "Roamy" - that horse for sale. We took along one of Shayla's horse trainers for a professional opinion of whether it is a good horse for Shayla or not. She thought the horse was great. It all went MUCH better than any of us expected. Shayla was even able to ride too; I was so comfortable with the horse after their trainer, than our trainer rode first. Shayla knows not to get her hopes up, but she really likes Roamy.

The Sixth Grade Band

Monday, December 06, 2010

'Tis the Season

Last weekend it was time for the annual tree topping! Ya know, Christi and Shayla used to fight over who would get to place the angel on the top. Now Shayla has the honor all to herself and in a heartbeat she'd gladly let Christi do it, if only that were an option. I loved the "orb" that shows up on this picture. It's the only orb that was in the photos I took of our decorating last weekend. Fly, Christi, Fly! (This year Shayla decorated the tree all by herself and I couldn't have been any more please about that. She made the popcorn balls and then strung popcorn. I think it's simple, yet classy. I never got out a single ornament and since some of the Christi ones 'Baby's First Xmas 1997' 'Mom to Be, 1996' etc., etc. always make me so sad, I really lucked out. Again and again Shayla is huge blessing! I love her so much!)

Note the orb - I tell myself Christi was with us in spirit at our little party and poetry reading last night. Christi (like all of us) loved her aunt Marty and uncle Jeff soooooooo much! And she definitely would have loved the fact that I asked everyone to bring a favorite poem or two to share before dinner. (Jeff even wrote a poem, yet passed it off as Robert Frost's work - too funny! And for my students, who most likely think I'm a wee bit crazy anyway, I laugh at what they would have thought when we were all reading about Paul Revere's ride together - it was AWESOME discussing the poetry (and insulting some each other's selections) with each other! After dinner we played my favorite game, Scrabble!) I wore a pair of Christi's socks so that she'd be there too. What a lovely evening with lovely family we don't get to see often enough!

Marty started an amazing tradition when Shayla (her godchild) was little. She bought a huge (and very expensive, I'm sure) nativity set. Each year she wraps up one piece of it for Shayla. Now the set is nearly complete. Shayla is totally in to her Nativity Set. This year I relocated my Dickens Village so that she could have the entire window. Wow! I'll never forget Christmas of 2002 - shortly after Christi had been diagnosed. I caught the girls playing with my Nativity Set. Typically, I would have said, "no, no, no!" but given all that had happened to us that year, I thought it was precious they were moving the statues around and playing with the scene and I let them play. (They didn't even break anything, amazing!) My other great memory of Nativity Scenes is of Shayla opening the baby Jesus piece and saying, "Oh, Jesus!" and then realizing what she said and starting to apologize while we all laughed hysterically.

Here's wishing you and yours a fabulous and blessed week! ENJOY!

Friday, December 03, 2010


Pic: Shayne & Shayla at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge's pool where they swam every day we stayed there - too sweet!

"Florida" written by Shay, age 11 Pic above: 2004 in Florida. Shayla (5), Christi (7)

After the plane baggage pick up and getting a car, I can't help but wonder what the heat will be like here. Staring out the car window of the black PT cruiser, I find out. Full sun rays pour down upon us. It isn't hot, but a feeling of warmth gingerly brushing by. Soon it is gone and the glimpse of a promise for warmth is gone too. A cloud flutters over the sun, crushing our attempt to flee the cold's bite in Ohio. I rip my eyes from the sky and focus my mind on my surroundings. From the front seat, my mom and dad droned on in their definition of a "lighthearted" conversation. They aren't and won't be talking to me so I reposition my focus. I settle for looking at the trees. The trees! So green and not many the "palm trees" like Florida has a reputation for having. To me, they look like a civilized jungle complete with Spanish moss adorning the trees. Berries are ornaments beaming from steamy lands. And we're off to explore this new world!

(Pic: enjoying a rollercoaster with Shay Shay at Magic Kingdom)It was a very busy week here and I found myself reflecting back upon last week's - a LOT! In addition to all three of us reading "Catching Fire", Shayne and I both read Condelezza Rice's new autobiography too. We both LOVED it, thinking it was more of a "how to raise a single child" book than a political book by a former US Secretary of State. I was particularly interested in her parents, both classroom teachers and then her "Daddy" going to work at the university. I found her launching her career into higher education as a new professor to be equally exciting. I did not know she lived in Birmingham in the 60s - wow! We couldn't put it down - well, except to catch the bus to a Disney park (smile). I also read a heartbreaking and eye opening book "I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced". There is much work to be done!

Shayne had to fly back to Orlando again this week (for work this time). Shayla's thrill of the week was attending the middle school dance, a slumber party and enjoying both grandma and grandpa babysitting her one night while I was working late on campus. It's hard to believe I only have two more classes to teach yet before break. I have so much to do yet - yikes!

Pic: My birthday - celebrating this one at Planet Hollywood. On my birthday night, at EPCOT, Shayne surprised me with the Disney waiters singing to me and putting down a cupcake, I cried. It was so much better than the one I spent alone in 2003 in the Ronald House in Philly. I am so lucky!

Speaking of lucky and blessed, Shayne came home on the night of our 19th wedding anniversary this week with a huge bouquet of gorgeous red roses. Later we learned he just dropped by the flower shop on his way home and they didn't have any flowers available. He talked them in to giving him the bouquet they had waiting for another anniversary wife's husband to pick up the following day. I sure hope they were able to make more before he arrived. Shayne kept saying he was sure the other couple was getting a divorce because he bought that guy's flowers for his wife. Too funny!