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 www.ChristiThomas.com 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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Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat Night

My Favorite Photo! (Check out that "orb"!) This is the only picture where orbs showed up. Ironically, Shayne wanted Shayla to see his childhood home (where he lived from 3rd through 12th grade). When I downloaded the photos I was quite pleasantly surprised to see this.
Shayla had a grand time with her daddy. I really enjoyed it too!
Fun at "Grandma" Donna's! Thanks, everyone!
Even the back of Christi's "Locks of Love" wig was/is gorgeous! Shayla had a ball wearing it. At school today, many didn't recognize her. She loved that! I know Christi would have loved that too - perhaps she laughed all day in Heaven. I'd like to think that was the case!

The annual "Trick of Treat Night" with "Grandma" Donna.


Now for the "Oldie, but Goodies":

How I wish we could have made our traditional final stop at Caroline and Doug's house (Pic: 2000). Ironically, only two in this photo are still alive as Christi and Doug died nearly a year apart. We are so lucky to have Caroline as one of Shayla's 4th grade teachers this year. As you can tell from the photo, Shayla is in great hands!

Katie, little Donna, Christi, Theresa & Shayla - ready to head out. Oct. 2005
Christi Trick or Treating, how we miss that gal!
Kaylyn will never know how she warms my heart every day in the two classes she's in that I teach. It's almost like she's sizing me up, making certain I'm doing ok, instead of the other way around. She has the most caring heart a child could ever have. I'm so blessed!

Shay, Theresa and Christi Trick or Treat on the campus of Heidelberg College - Christi's final trick or treating.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Glasses

Thank you, Bloggers! In the midst of voting for Shayla's eye glasses from the eye doctor's office, two of you suggested a website to find really cool (and really inexpensive) glasses! Well, after selecting an $8.00 pair for Shayla (I just could not resist these darling pink and blue ones), I decided to get a $12.00 pair for myself. I was simply shocked at the prices - and the great styles! THANK YOU! Shayne snapped our picture before school this morning to show you our new glasses. For anyone else who may be interested in having inexpensive prescription glasses mailed to your home, all you need is your prescription. Here's the website: http://zennioptical.com/cart/home.php

NEW QUESTION: Since you were so good at that, does anyone know of a website where I can order my contact lenses cheaper than I pay at my eye doctor's office? It seems like I am always accidently tearing mine while cleaning them.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Christine

Wow, sweet bloggers - thank you so much for your great guesses!! We had a nice time this afternoon reading them! This summer Shayla decided to be "Christine" from Phantom of the Opera for Halloween. Shayne has been asked to go with her as the Phantom so he will. I will be carrying the music in a plastic pumpkin she selected while decorating our home for Halloween. (She thought people would just think she's an angel or a princess while Trick or Treating without the "Phantom of the Opera" music playing to help them. I agree.) For dress up day at school on Friday, she'll be going as a "cowgirl" because she didn't think many of the kids would know what she was as Christine from Phantom of the Opera.

She really made me smile when she asked if I thought Christi would mind if she borrowed one of her wigs to complete the costume. Therefore, she will be wearing Christi's "Locks of Love" wig. Quite frankly, I think it looks exactly like Shayla's real hair - just with layers - but she thinks it's different so she'll wear it.......or maybe I'll end up carrying it if it bothers her. Hee hee! THANK YOU for guessing!! I put Christi's wigs into the "dress up" box after she died. (What do you do with two kid sized wigs? Now I know! Just joking!)

We picked up Aunt Marty and went to the Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus early yesterday morning. Much to our surprise, Shayla was able to meet this year's Queen, Jessica. She is only the second Queen from Ohio in the Congress's 45th year history. She's a third year pharmacy student at the University of Pittsburgh and we wish her well! (Shayla was thoroughly impressed with her "winnings" - so were we.....a bed, many pairs of boots and fancy show clothes, an incredible saddle, a horse trailer, etc., etc., etc., etc. I wish we could have seen her ride as we learned that is part of the criteria for the selection. It was interesting reading through her scrapbook.

The three week long Congress ended today. In this competition are girls from all over the country. The competition started with 130 entrants. The winner was from Las Vegas, Nevada.

Shayla was happy to head back home with Aunt Marty while Shayne and I went to the OSU / Penn State game last night. Shayne kept teasing me he was going to sell our tickets and when we learned that the people who usually sit beside us sold their tickets on Ebay for $225.00 each and the price went up from there, Shayne said, "See? You paid $30.00. We could have a lot of money now and just go back to Marty and Jeff's and watch the game on TV." He is so funny! He knew I'd have nothing to do with that nonsense! It was a fantastic game! I'm so glad we were there, despite the fact Ohio State lost. We spent the majority of the game on our feet; it was just too exciting to sit down (and quite frankly, if we would have everyone in front of us was standing anyway - LOL). During the game, I - an old washed up baton twirler - was very impressed with Penn State's baton twirler ("Sapphire Girl" if I got that right from Sylvia who I texted with many times throughout the game, a game she was happy about the ending of, wink). Prior to the game running with all of the pregame "hoopla", I ran into one of my "old" neighbors (John S.) and his wife. It was fabulous to see him and to get updated on his family. I have wonderful memories of spending time with his great family growing up.

It was about midnight after walking back to our van and getting out of traffic last night; therefore, we stayed overnight with Marty and Jeff as planned instead of making the two hour drive home.

Today we all went for a hike together. God's beautiful world was so colorful. Fall has been "hard" since Christi's death, but today I really enjoyed it!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Guesses?

Shayla decided what she wanted to be for Halloween in July! It's almost that time. Her costume is ready. These pictures should give you a big hint. Any idea of what/who she'll be dressed up as/like for Trick or Treat next week?
Another Hint: She's been really into this since January 2008. Like Christi did at nine years old, Shayla decided this summer what she wanted to be for Halloween. These pictures might give you a clue as to what the theatre girl wants to be for trick-or-treat night. Any ideas?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Family & Friends

I believe I felt like some of my students today; I couldn't wait for school to end! I knew we were meeting our good friends from high school for dinner, as they're visiting back at home this weekend. I was really looking forward to finally seeing them. (It'd been nearly a year.) Shayne gave their absolutely precious boys a tour of the quarry while I took Shayla to ballet then we met up for pizza. It was great, like we'd never been separated! They are the most wonderful parents and people! We are so blessed to have great friends! (A FUNNY: Upon arriving at the restaurant I told the waitress, "It's on one check and give it to my husband." She assured me that was no problem. THen when she gave the check to Ned, I looked at her like she was crazy. She smiled and said something like we had this worked out ahead of time. I replied, "I said to give the check to my husband. This good looking guy sitting beside me is not MY husband!" Oh, the misunderstanding was funny!)

Shayla did a great job of corrupting the boys! They have WONDERFUL parents and do not have "technology" so as you can see they were really caught up in Shayla's "Gameboy" we took in to the restaurant to wait for our friends. I read while Shayla played knowing we had time to kill as we were ahead of schedule. (And the book one of my Professors on my dissertation committee is having me read is really good. She believes my dissertation research should lead into a book like I'm reading and it really hit me - it could! That is exciting! And as I continue to make very s-l-o-w progress, I needed that!)

(PHOTO: Christi LOVING the art toy Grandma Gear gave her on her birthday - May 12, 2002, 4 months before diagnosis.) I received a text from Shayne when I checked for messages at lunch. He told me his grandma wasn't doing well at all and he was going to squeeze a visit to the hospital in somehow today. (It's about an hour away.) I've not had a chance to really talk with him yet; however, from phone calls and quick comments it doesn't appear that things are fine. He said he was able to have a very nice talk with grandma and that she appeared to be really "with it". A therapist told him that was the most she'd talked to anyone all day. Grandma is 90 years old and ended up in the hospital after a recent fall. Our prayers are with grandma. (I know she's not REALLY my grandma; however, since I've only dated Shayne since I was 15 years old she's been like MY grandma for 25 years! I love her and this update is so hard to write!) The news Shayne received from his mom after talking with the doctor this morning was that it probably would not be months. It goes without saying that we are terribly sad. Grandma Gear is a sweetie! (Ironically, our friends we had dinner with tonight are going through a nearly identical situation and were on their way to check on their grandma next. Weird!)

I have no idea why "Princess Shayla" has that look upon her face, but isn't it a hoot?! It was Christi's fifth birthday and we took her to visit with both sets of her Great Grandparents that day. (I'm so glad we did as it was the last time she visited with my Grandpa at his home. He died in Feb. 2003 when we were in the Ronald House of NYC and I did not make it back for his funeral. I still feel bad and when I talked with Grandma Falter last weekend she once again told me I did the right thing becuase it was terribly cold out then.) I wonder if Shayla "borrowed" Christi's crown and why she's looking like that! Too funny! We love you Grandma Gear!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Christi's Helmet

Unlike many of her clothes and toys, we never did anything with Christi's helmet after she died. For whatever reason, Shayne packed it and took it to the Dude Ranch and I'm so glad he did. After my lesson, during our lunch break, prior to the trail ride he suggested I try Christi's helmet instead of using one I borrowed from Smoke Rise. I was stunned that it fit and I was so happy about it! Shayne adjusted the chin strap and I could only beam and think that this would be like Christi really going with us on the afternoon trail ride! I know she would have loved it! I don't know when my next time on a horse will be, but I think it will again be with her helmet on my head. I can't even describe why I thought that was so cool, but I really did!(PHOTO: August 2005)

I went out to the cemetery after school today....always tough. I really must get that cemetery plaque ordered. So hard, so hard, so hard!

Wearing Christi's helmet and trail riding with Aunt Marty and Dolly, Shayne and Shayla
Shayla and Pickles
Shayne cooked the most amazing meals over the campfire for us - awesome!
The Thomas Team on the Trail
Shayla tried her hand at roping while "Boot Scoot Boogy" played over the radio, precious!
Loving Ranch Life
Shayla on "Big Mack"

You've come a long way, Baby! (PHOTO: One of Shayla's first times on a horse, August 2005) Many times throughout the day today I just had to shake my head and smile. This summer, at the 4H practices, Shayla would not even try to walk or trot Skeeter through the poles, or anything else that was timed "contested". On Saturday, when she joyfully announced that she wanted to enter the "Extreme Cowboy Contest" on Sunday were were pleasantly shocked. She had no idea that she'd have to lope, or that there would be poles to go through. When she found out on Sunday, she handled it really well. At first saying she couldn't, and then saying she'd try.

After the contest, others came up to us and told us how well she did and that there should have been a "kids" division and an "adult" division since she was the only kid. We were just thrilled Shayla had fun and they put in a teenager connected with the ranch and let Shayla follow the girl as the pattern was so complicated (and took her 6:29 to finish). They didn't need to do that, but it was very nice! We were pleased it ended on a very high note for Shayla - amazed that she loped for the first time. When she shouted to me from her horse in the areana, "Next summer I can enter the poles!" I nearly cried realizing how much her confidence increased as a result of the weekend. What would we do without her? We are so blessed!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shayla's First Loping

video

All's Well

(PIC: Shayla with a wrangler on a cattle drive today.) I hadn't realized it'd been a week since I last updated. All is fine; we've just been busy.....working and playing.....OK, much more playing than working (smile). Shayne picked Shayla up from school at 9AM on Friday and they went to Aunt Marty and Uncle Jeff's to help load the horses. Next they were off to the destination they'd been waiting for since August - SMOKE RISE DUDE RANCH AND RESORT. (I'm still trying to figure out the "resort" part, but.......it definitely met every expectation I had of a dude ranch! This place was so cool - four hours from home down in southeastern Ohio.)

I wasn't exactly anxious to go spend the weekend in a "rustic cabin" without a bathroom and eating by campfire, so I joined them on Saturday. Aunt Marty was so sweet she said to me, "I know this isn't exactly your cup of tea, but you're such a good sport to do this with your family." I really had a fabulous weekend. I would never have gone alone, but to be with my awesome family was glorious! I love them so much and I kept telling myself not to wonder about what Christi would be doing and how much she would have loved this place. I tried to focus on all the fun and there was plenty of that!

Shayla was in all her glory and had the best weekend possible. I'm exhausted so I'll most likely share additional pictures later, but I must upload this video tonight as I think Aunt Marty and my mom want to see Shayla lope. This is like a cantor, I think. It's not a walk or a trot but the next speed. Shayla's never been able to do it before, but when she entered the "Extreme Cowboy Contest" this afternoon, she got "Pickles" - the horse we rented for her at the ranch this weekend to lope THREE times! She was so proud of herself, and we were so proud of her too! She also sat on a Belgian Draft Horse for the first time, spent time with the Equine Dentist who worked on Aunt Marty's horses' teeth, had lessons with amazing riding instructors, went on a cattle drive and three trail rides.
I also had a lesson, but I'm positive I did not receive a passing grade. When I complained to the instructor this morning that although the six hours in the saddle were lovely, my back, neck and bottom were killing me she told me that is because I was too stiff. I have to relax on the horse. (Ha! Me? I have so much more respect for all Shayla does with her weekly horse lessons now that I have had one lesson myself. Notice the "orb". I think Christi was trying to comfort me, knowing how scared I am around those horses!)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Theatrical Kind of Day

This day was right up Shayla's alley (being the "theater girl"). First, for her gifted class, she had me video her doing a commercial advertising a book she read. She really got into this project and I'm certain (cough) everyone will want to run right to the library to read the book after viewing her commercial in class. It was so good! (OK, I'm bias, but I thought it was precious and she had a great time practicing and getting everything ready!)

Thankful for a break from working on my dissertation disaster, we met 40 of my students and their parents at Heidelberg this afternoon where we watched the musical, "Into the Woods". While I won't post photos of my students, my observations and conversations with them indicate they really liked it very much. I'm so grateful to teach in a school with supportive parents and I thank them for bringing their kids to the theater today since this was not a school activity, simply a "meet Mrs. Thomas at Heidelberg if you want to see this musical" type of event.

On Friday, the director (Dr. Jen) brought three of the actresses over to my classroom where they helped prepare us for what we'd see today. When the parents of one of the college actresses tracked me down to tell me how much his daughter loved coming to my class, I was really touched. These Heidelberg students were doing ME such a big favor! God is good! Shayne is driving back from Kentucky, so Shayla went with me and thought she was "all that" as she sat with sixth graders and ate dinner with 8th graders after the show! She really loved their attention.

Just before going to Heidelberg, I received a text from Olivia - SHE MADE IT!!! 13 miles!! Without a doubt, that is absolutely incredible! I bet on the day she was born (along with her twin sister) her mother never would have believed anyone who would have told her that ONE DAY Olivia would enter a 13 mile running competition! THANK YOU, Olivia! I believe Christi was holding your hand and trying to make you giggle while you were out there today! Thank you for raising money for her memorial fund and keeping her memory alive! I'm so very proud of you!!

Shayla got all except one of the actor's autographs. Imagine that! (smile) Many times my eyes wandered to where Christi's friends were sitting in the theatre and I wondered what she'd be thinking of the show. I'm willing to bet she would have loved this musical comedy, her friends and her sister did.

Shayne just called. He made it back to Ohio, but his grandma is in the hospital so he's stopping to visit with her on his way home. We learned from his mom this week that grandma has been sick, but this is the first I learned she was in the hospital. I pray she's back home soon!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Boiler Up

My Goddaughter, a student at Purdue, taught me a few new things during the OSU game today! I must admit I didn't even know what Purdue's mascot was until she told me. I had a ball with my family! I am soooooooooo lucky!!

PIC: Baby Christi, on her first birthday, with her cousins Ashley (left) and Shelby (right)

May 1998 - CT's first birthday. Shayne had been saying that if Ashley wanted to come home and go to the Ohio State vs. Purdue game, he'd give up his ticket and go visit with his dad for the weekend. Recently, Ashley decided it was fall break so she'd do just that. I'm so glad she did. I hadn't seen her since she left for college and it was wonderful to get updated in person! She's doing FANTASTIC! I didn't have any worries, but I'm pleased to report after getting updated on: classes, professors, roommates, dining halls, concerns, friends (male and female), sports, jobs, transportation, family,and a few other items, she appears not to be doing well, but to be thriving! Praise be to God!

Early this morning, Shayne arrived safely in Kentucky (where I learned there was a fundraiser in the little town his dad lives in for a cancer child, so sad) and later this morning Shayla and I headed off for Columbus. (Can you tell she had a great time tailgating prior to the game?!)

We met up with my sister and her family and then went to enjoy some pregame festivities. PIC: Shayla with her Aunt Tina. It hit me again last night as I was reading to Shayla and she was crocheting a coaster for Tina that she won't get to watch her children adore her sister like I do. That still breaks my heart! I think Christi would have been an awesome aunt too!

The three "little ones" enjoyed the free kids' activities provided by the dining services outside of the stadium. Shayla enjoyed it before by herself, but with her cousins to play with??? WOW!!!!!

After the game, I was planning to catch a taxi to Gil's sweet sister's home; however, there were no taxis to be found! While I wanted to walk the three miles to Sue's just to let my brother-in-law know I could survive on my own just fine, I broke down and called him for a lift. Of course he teased us that we walked so far by the time he got there due to traffic we could have made it just walking! It was wonderful to catch up with Sue. She cooked an INCREDIBLE Italian dinner I thoroughly enjoyed before driving Shayla back home. As I drove home in the dark, out of no where Shayla said, "I had the best day, mom!" So did I!

Before the game I was able to say hello to a fellow OSU student who I watched (in complete amazement) cheer here in town in high school. Nate is now a sophomore at OSU and a Varsity cheerleader! He is even more skilled then when he was in high school. I was surprised he remembered me and knew of Christi's death. God's people are good!

(Nate, from our hometown, bottom right. I wish I would have caught his incredible gymnastic and cheering ability on video. Perhaps at another game.)
Ashley couldn't believe our good seats today. Of course I reminded her that I applied to the program in 2003 and with the exception of taking ONE quarter off, I've gone to school - four quarters a year ever since. (And the way I'm going, my freshman niece will probably graduate before I do! Go, Ashley!!)