Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy News!

My heart is so happy right now!
Our friends recieved word that they are getting a little girl! Little Sister is finally coming home to Yichang.
This family has been waiting almost 2 years and have gone through some trying times while waiting. On Christmas Eve, they recieved the good news.
Our God is faithful. Truly!
Congrats Sandra, Shoral, and Schafer!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas with Rilie

Yesterday Dad, Momma, Leanne, and I headed out to Joe's house for an early Christmas. My niece Rilie has to spend Christmas in Louisiana, so Santa came early to Nashville. Joe had quite a spread for lunch. However, the best part of the day was being with a great little girl who is loved so much. Even amidst the all of the things in the world that can contaminant, scar, and hurt, Rilie still has the simple innocence that makes Christmas and the little things so fun. A great first Christmas...

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Nutcracker

Last night was one of the best nights I have ever had. Truly.

Thanks to a grant, we were able to snag free tickets to The Nutcracker. Beth, Maggie and I picked some kiddos and planned an evening of ballet and dinner for them. A little early Christmas something. :) I was excited all week, but it exceeded my expectations.
A local church allowed us the use of their bus and provided our group a driver. We started the evening with some homemade goodies and milk in my classroom. Then, all of us loaded the bus and headed downtown. The kids were excited by the sight of the city decorated for Christmas. We took some pictures and then managed to find seats on the 5th row center.

I only wish everyone could have seen my kids. So precious! Two were literally on the edge of their seats during the show, oohhh-ing and aahhh-ing. My heart was so happy. During intermission, I read the storybook to the ones sitting close to me. The show was magical. It was also my first time to see a live ballet so I was pretty entranced by the whole thing as well.
After the show, we went to Old Spaghetti Factory for a late dinner. The kids enjoyed seeing the train car and eating Mac and Cheese. The boys got tickled and we girls enjoyed laughing at them. Beth, Maggie, and I could not stop commented on how happy we were and how our cups overflowed.

After dropping the kids off and when I finally managed to fall asleep, I am pretty sure I still had a smile on my face. Such a good night!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Just a few hours until school freedom for 2 weeks...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Drop In and Decorate!

Tonight, we hosted a "Drop In and Decorate" party. "Drop In and Decorate" is a program based on the idea that you bake cookies, invite friends over to decorate the cookies, and then donate the cookies to a non-profit or organization helping people. I stumbled across their website while looking up sugar cookie recipes one day and I am so glad I did! Lydia (founder of "Drop In and Decorate") has a wonderful recipes for sugar cookies! Check out the website...
More importantly this is a great program based on someone's love for others and doing something they enjoy. Best kinds of things to support!

Seven girls surrounded the Stockell house table tonight. We had a good time icing cookies, hearing about Shawna's engagement, and just a lot of laughing. Sometimes the best nights are good old fashioned fun of doing something simple. We will be donating our cookies to the Ronald McDonald House. A little Christmas cheer on the way!

And our finished product...


This morning some first grade elves appeared in my classroom.

They brought me some gold!

Final week before Christmas break... woo-hoo!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I love Sundays...
It is 1:45pm and I am still sitting in my pjs. I slept until 12 which was upsetting only because I was planning on going to my parents for lunch. Overall though, it is pretty much perfect. The Christmas tree lights are on. Julie and Julia (which came out on DVD on Tuesday!) is playing. I am scouring for the perfect sugar cookie recipe for a get together tomorrow evening. Just finished broccoli cheddar chicken leftovers from dinner last night. Planning on grocery shopping, making cookies, finishing Christmas cards, church, and small group. Love it.

This week I really did not do much after school. I really feel tired these days so I sleep a lot in the evenings. I was supposed to go to Denver, CO this weekend to meet up with the amazing Tiffany Lemons. However, we both decided it might be unwise for me to go tromping around CO feeling tired all the time. We canceled out trip and Tiffany ended up coming here on the down low. We didn't tell anybody other my roommates and our families. I took the day off on Friday and we had a girls day. We shopped, ran errands, and got pedicures. It was so wonderful having her here!

Last night, Justin and I went to see the movie Invictus. With a cast of Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, and Clint Eastwood directing, you know it had to be a good movie. We were not disappointed! The story was of how Nelson Mandala and the South African rugby team fought against apartheid in their country. I don't see many movies in the theater, but this one is worth supporting.

Only a few days of school left until a glorious break with no plans! It is a good day, my friends... a good day!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hard Morning

Sometimes I wish I could do things on my own. Go to the grocery when I need/want to. Run to the library when I want to read a book. Go to a store just to look because I have free time. Just do things on my own time. This morning is one of those times when I really just want to pick up and go.

I feel bad about saying that though because I know people have their own time schedules too. Many have sacrificed and given up much of their time for me. I don't want people to think I don't notice how much they do for me, but I wish I could do things on my own too.

I was able to finally have another treatment. Yesterday, I did not get off the couch. Football and sleep. Then, last night my leg started having spasms. It scared me just because I seemed to have no control. My head and neck still ache. And if you haven't noticed, I am a little cranky. :(

I really want to look at the bright side of things, but I am struggling this morning. I just want all of this to pass. Please pray for me. I need a change of heart. Some peace.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Breakfast Debate

So I have never been a big breakfast person. Normally, breakfast would consist of a glass of orange juice, milk, or coffee if someone else made it (or I stopped at Starbucks). I am changing my ways though.

Because my appetite comes and goes during chemo, I am trying to eat 3 meals a day even if it is not much. Instead of a glass of something, I now have scrambled eggs or muffins. Sundays have become banana pancakes mornings. Juice is still required. Coffee is a plus. (Note: I refuse to make coffee for myself. I have been spoiled by roommates and friends who have always made coffee for me. Thankful for Brad and Justin who make me coffee each morning. Big kudos for the Peppermint Mocha creamer find!)

I am amazed to see how much more energy I have throughout the day if I eat breakfast. Maybe I will become a regular breakfast person after all.

If you are ever around the Stockell house on a Sunday morning, feel free to stop on by for a pancake or two. ;)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


"And the stockings were hung by the white board with care,
In hopes that Christmas break would soon be here..."

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Just a little health update...

My nose did bleed and neck and head still hurt. I went back to the doctor Saturday morning. She gave my some good pain meds for my head and neck. She did discover that my thyroid was enlarged to a rather abnormal size. More blood work. I will go back again on Thursday.

I am still on bed rest until at least Monday morning. Amy stockpiled me with movies so yesterday we had a movie marathon. Today might be a repeat.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


It's that time of year again and I bet you could tell just from the past few blogs...

The Holiday season!

A time where Beth becomes ridiculously cheesy, emotional, and sentimental. Sometimes I even make my gag! Bless.

This morning a wave of emotion has pulled ashore and sadly, it is not going back out to sea.

I woke up this morning to find myself lying underneath my comfy blanket on the couch. I am in the only room that actually feels warm. (To see the heat guy would be better than seeing Santa right now!) The first glimpse of the white lights from the tree make me smile. This is the setting for prime Beth paradise.

But then I remember yesterday...

Yesterday afternoon, I made my way to the hospital to have my blood count checked. I have not managed to have my next treatment yet. Once again it is too low. I am put on bed rest. BED REST!!!! I mention that I wonder if I could be allegoric to something in my wig because of some red spots that seem to appear when I wear it. The nurse asks me if anything else is wrong. I told her that I seem to have a crick in my neck and I have had a 2 day headache. Not a noise headache, but one that sends shooting pain every once awhile based on light or movement. She went and got a doctor. The doctor thinks it might be an infection. If it is not gone tomorrow call back. If your nose starts to bleed come in immediately.

I come home to find the Iron Bowl has already started. Auburn is ahead the entire game... well, until the last minute and a half of the game. Fudge. Fudge. Fudge.

Caitlin came over to start the Christmas decorating madness. We made Christmas countdowns, and then the turkey decided to leave! My Christmas soul sister was too tired because she had to work Black Friday morning. I start dragging out the tree and stuff until Amy gets home from work. I do one layer of the tree and then I have hit exhaustion. Thank goodness my roommates understand what a big day this is for me and finish the tree, lights and garland while I watch. You know I am not feeling good when I let someone else decorate!

Christmas cheer isn't so cheery so far. It is just so frustrating to not be myself. To not feel like myself. To add to everyone else's lists of things to do.

The living room does seem cozier now. I am thankful that my friends are so understanding.

Just waves of emotion...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday Night Boys

This morning I got an email with this picture from my Monday night boys. They are SENIORS now.
Gosh, I miss them.
It just amazes me how God ties people together.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good Start

Nothing can start your day better than walking through the hallways of an elementary school and hearing kids calling your name and telling you that you are beautiful. :)

Tug at the heartstrings... sigh.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Early Thanksgiving

So for 3 years now, I have been looking forward to cooking a turkey. 3 years! While in Gatlinburg, all of us American Zhongguoren decided to have our own Thanksgiving. I was quite excited and willing to make the turkey.

Last night, I got the bird all ready to go. It was after midnight when I put Sally (the turkey) in the oven to cook. I decided I would just go to bed, set my alarm, and get up to take turkey out. I set it for 2:30am.

About 4:30am, Daniel came over to go hunting with Justin. I just happened to hear them moving and then it hit me. Turkey...oven...Crap. (Semi-strong language, but that is what I was thinking.) I rushed in and turn the oven off. It looked decent, but I could tell the texture was not going to be awesome. I went back to bed with tears.

This morning after some banana pancakes, we headed to CrossPoint for church. I was excited to learn that there were going to be several baptisms. As I watched people being dunked and with pure joy o their faces, I could not help but cry again. This time with tears of happiness. Every time I see a baptism, I just think back to the day when I made the decision to do so. That was a defining moment in my life of what it meant to be happy. These people were experiencing that today. I really just wanting to dance and shout with joy, but my little Church of Christ heart only smiled and clapped (which still felt rebellious). What a terrific turnaround of my dreary morning!

The turkey results are still unknown, but I am looking forward to sitting down tonight with my friends. A couple of these people have been friends since college/early PTS days. Some I met and bonded with in China. Some I have known only for a short time, but have grown to love quickly We all are followers of Christ and know the happiness of being the son/daughter of a king. We will sit in a warm house (yet another good thing that happened this weekend!), with enough food to overfill our stomachs, and talk, laugh, and make yet more good memories. Not everybody gets to do this, and for this experience I am truly grateful.

Happy Early Thanksgiving from the Stockell house! :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Caught the movie "Coco Before Chanel" at the Belcourt with Amy.

Why is it that French movies tend to be so pretty? I found myself countless time humming the sing-song tunes and desperately wishing I was as elegant as Coco.

Best line of the movie...

‘When a woman cuts her hair, her life is about to change.’

So true, so true.

What A Morning...

This has been one of those mornings, I just wish we could start over.

I was grumpy as soon as I woke up. I was cold. My back hurt. Plus, I knew I was going to have to teach a regular education class today (instead of my lovely ELL kiddos). Grrr...

In the car, I checked my voicemail because I was not about to answer the phone when it rang so early this morning. I learned that my friend Becky passed away early this morning. Becky had stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 27. She was in my support group. I couldn't cry even though I really wanted to. 27 with something that is supposed to hit older women. It just seems so unfair.

Last night while checking the headlines, we read an article about a governmental task force that has changed the recommendations for mammogram. In the past, the cancer society said every woman over 40 should get a mammogram every year. They promoted self-checks in women of all ages. Now this task force wants to say that women should get mammograms every 2 years after the age of 50. They believe that self-checks are worthless. (Check out Google News or any big newspaper to read articles!) I cannot tell you how this made my blood boil. While it is true that mammograms are not always accurate and sometimes cause worry when there is no cause for concern, they do also save lives. As far as self-checks go, I just want to ask them when the heck do they mean they are worthless?!?!?! Every girl in my group found their lumps by self-checking (or boyfriend finding). Thank God we did. Thank God.

Please keep Becky's family in your prayers this week.

Oh to crawl back to bed...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thankful List #2

Things I am thankful for this week...

Small group. Last Sunday night I went to a small group with two of my fellow teachers. It was my first time to attend. They are reading through the book The Power of the Blood Covenant. Our conversation focused on forgiveness. My thoughts on forgiveness have changed quite a bit over the past couple years and this conversation was really encouraging. I plan to go back.

My action research topic was approved!!! This is a big deal to me. My project is the main focus of one of my masters degrees I am pursuing. Now, I can actually start on the work. (Or at least think about starting. Ha! ;) )

The Smartt Household and Maggie. On Tuesday night, these wonderful people came over for dinner and to play games. Mayne made a fabulous Banana Foster. So much fun.

Written notes. What power written words hold. I feel like sometimes putting things in writing is far more meaningful than just saying something. I have been blessed to receive many kind notes.

Blankets. I crave them.

Anybody got anything that sticks out to them this week?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Panties With A Purpose

My friend Kelli had a marvelous idea for a service project. This one is especially for the ladies! (Guys, you can help too if you want.)

Here is what Kelli has to say...


I have an exciting opportunity to share with you to truly bless women in need.

I'm calling it "Panties with a Purpose" and it starts Today.

Do you get the "Free Panty" coupons from Victoria's Secret? Do you really need another pair to fill up your drawers?

Imagine what would happen if each of us used our coupons to redeem a pair of panties not for ourselves, but for women fleeing domestic violence situations with nearly nothing to their names.

The goal of Panties with a Purpose is to collect 100 pairs of panties to donate to the residents of Nashville's YWCA Weaver Domestic Violence Shelter.

The drive starts today and will go through November 30th. Once all the panties are collected, they will be donated to the YWCA.

So, how can you get involved? Let me tell you!

1. Use your VS free panty card to redeem a pair of panties in any size OR

2. If you don't have a card, buy a pair or package to donate

3. SPREAD THE WORD! Post this drive on your myspace, facebook and twitter accounts. Tell at least 10 other women about the drive and encourage them to participate.

4. Don't live in Nashville and want to take part? Find a shelter in your area and start a drive to support women in your community.

Panties with a Purpose...because it's no Secret that giving is beautiful

If you can help us out, it would be greatly appreciated! Email me if you have questions...


Friday, November 6, 2009

First Thankful List

In the past, I have blogged about things I am thankful for during the month of November. It is that time of year again! This month, I will write a thankful list each Friday.

Things I am thankful for this foggy, fall morning...

Chai Lattes from Starbucks. I am a sucker for these things!
The Kindergarten team at my school. They made it a point to do something for me each week to let me know that I was being thought about.
My kiddos. Too precious!
Naps. I have been able to take a lot more lately. :)
My blue scarf. I love the color and it is so soft.
Catching my favorite dinner at Cracker Barrel. Broccoli Cheddar Chicken which they only serve on Wednesdays and I never think about it except on Thursday or some other day of the week. Got me some this week! :)
The Office. I am addicted. It truly tickles my heart.
Eyes. This might be sound rather odd, but I am thankful for them. To be able to see all the wonderful things around me, to see color, to see the fall leaves, to look in the eyes of friends... Something taken for granted too often.
Trip to Gatlinburg. This weekend, Amy and I are heading to the mountains to have a little reunion with many China friends. We all have been readjusting since being back in the States, so this will be a time of encouragement and relaxation. There are no real plans except to enjoy each others company, sit in a hot tub, and soak in the mountain air. I have packed a couple of books, my journal and I am hopeful for a stop at the huge Christmas store. So excited!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October has come and gone. This year I was fully aware that it was breast cancer awareness month and it was celebrated/honored/whatever you want to call it.

The first Saturday in October was Nashville's Race for the Cure. We had more than 30 people sign up for Beth's Buddies team. We raised $2,462.70 We walked 3.2 miles. (Maybe we should count another mile for parking so far away...)

The second Saturday, Justin and I went to Little Rock, Arkansas for Race for the Cure with his family. For the past 4 years, they have been participating in the walk in honor of Justin's grandmother. This time we only walked 2.5 miles. When you have a chemo patient and a 2 year old I think 2.5 is just fine.

The third Saturday was Nashville's Strides Againest Breast Cancer. This time I walked with Beth's Bosom Buddies team. (see picture above) This team was made up of friends I made when I attended Granny White. While I no longer attend that church, these people are very dear to me. We raised $2,325.00 and walked 5 miles.

The last Saturday was spent in bed. Recovery. ;)

We also raised over $400 for the Susan G.Komen organization through "Deeply Rooted" t-shirt sales.


1 month.
3 walks.
10.7 miles.
Over 5,100 dollars.
Lots of friends.
Tremendous support.
One truly blessed girl.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An Inspirational Family and Woman

At this season in my life, I have met many people who are worthy of admiration. There is one family though that has had a huge impact on me rather recently (and may not have even known it). Meet the Cruze family...

Meggie (the beauty in pink shorts) was a member of my small group last year. Meggie is one of those people who you just love being around. She is so much fun! In June, Meggie shared that her mom had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was devastated. Rightfully so.

Over the past couple of months when talking and emailing with Meggie, she has shared her mom's positive outlook. The whole Cruze family has relied fully on God to get them through Mrs. Cruze's chemo. The Cruze girls wore matching necklaces on days their mom had treatments. Mrs. Cruze went around the house singing "gypsies, tramps and thieves..." when she lost her hair and wore scarves. They all loved on each other and built an army of prayer warriors around them.

All of these things, I have thought a lot about when I have had a crappy moment. "What would Mrs. Cruze do?" ;) We have never actually met, but she is an inspiration to me.

On Wednesday Mrs. Cruze will be undergoing her last chemo treatment! This is so exciting!!!!!

So thankful for the inspirational and amazing people in my life...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Zoo Fieldtrip

On Wednesday, the fourth graders were off to the zoo. The Nashville Zoo is one of my favorite fieldtrips. This year was especially fantastic when I hear the laughter of my kiddos when they heard the monkeys screeching. So cute!

"Mr.Justin" was a chaperone and I decided to have a little friendly competition. The boys took off with Mr. J and the girls went off with me. The challenge was to read the signs and remember as many facts as possible. The girls loved looking at the maps to see where the animals were from. It is always exciting for them to see animals from the kids' native countries. When we made our fact sheets the next day, it was quite obvious the girls won. The boys came up with one fact and the girls came up with seventeen. ;) There were pictures from the boys camera that were proof that learning was encouraged. ;)

Before we went to play on the massive "jungle gym", we stopped at the parakeet landing. Let me just say, having no hair makes for a much more uncomfortable pecking.

It really was a great day at the zoo, but I was oh-so-glad to make it to the couch when I got home.

No Treatment

No chemo today because my blood count was too low yesterday.

Gave these babies a little pep talk while getting ready at bathroom mirror this morning.

As soon as they are back up then I can have my next treatment.

Pray that it is soon because I am sooo ready to be done with all of this mess.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't Judge Me...

My iTunes account is looking a little uncharacteristic of my amazing taste in music.

Here is what I downloaded today...

I and Love and You album by the Avett Brothers (what took me so long?!!?)
Thriller by Michael Jackson (classic... one day I will learn the dance)
Life Let Go album by SafetySuit (really, really love song "Find A Way"... It is on repeat for hours!)
"Peanut Butter Jelly Time" by Chip-Man (this really is a song)
"Single Ladies" by Beyonce (oh, it gets worse my friends...)
"Boom Boom Pow" by Black Eyed Peas (you will find me doing Zumba moves in my classroom now...sigh)
"Cupid Shuffle" (haven't listened to this yet, but judging my 4th graders love for it, I will probably hate it)
"The Boys Are Back" from High School Musical soundtrack (cringing!!!!)
"Party In The USA" by Miley Cyrus (there are no words. truly.)

I own a Miley Cyrus song. Endtimes must be near. ;)

In my defense, the last songs are for my 4th graders dance party we are having this afternoon. I was to make a "clean" dance mix of songs they like. Talk about a difficult job.

Yesterday, I took up a piece of paper from one of my students that had the lyrics to "Kiss Me Through The Phone." ELL students cannot say "thank you" but "sexy" is one of their favorites. Sigh.

This mix cd task made me feel old for a second. Who is this Soulja Boy guy? What is P.Diddy's name now or is he even still around?

Thankfully, I snapped back to the reality that it is not a bad thing that I don't know these songs and artists. It means I have good taste. I find comfort in the fact that my radio only knows Lighting 100 and NPR. My iTunes is chock full of great tunes from Springsteen to Journey to Ryan Adams to Coldplay. Dave Matthews Band and The Features will always be my favorite bands. And Justin Timberlake is my guilty pleasure. ;)

Don't judge me...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Game Face

Sometimes it is just hard to put on your game face and pretend everything is okay.

This applies to life as well as Titans football.

Hoping to get my game face on today...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Daytrip to Lynchburg

Last Thursday, Katie, Beth N. and I headed out of the city to Lynchburg, Tennessee.

At the last minute, we were able to snag a reservation at Miss Mary Bobo's for lunch. Miss Bobo's is quite the place! Each person is assigned a room where they will eat family style with other strangers. We table has a hostess that explains the meal and gives a short history of the house and town. We feasted on country ham, fried chicken, fried okra, squash casserole, apples in Jack, pinto beans, and all kinds of fantastic Southern yummies. We chatted with some Southern belles from Georgia, a family who was making their semi-annual trip, and other Nashvillians. By the time we managed to choke dessert down, we had to be practically rolled from the room. Some super good eats!!!

After lunch, we opted for walking to the Jack Daniels distillery for a tour. Our guide had an amazing Southern accent that had us in giggles. Because the distillery is in a dry county we were not able to partake in any whiskey drinking, but did enjoy a nice glass of lemonade after our tour. I now feel a little more knowledgeable about whiskey and enjoyed hearing stories of the famous Southern gentleman Jack who died by kicking his safe!

We enjoyed our scenic ride home listening to some country tunes and soaking up the good weather. Lynchburg, Miss Bobo's, Jack's, and good girlfriends really did make for the perfect daytrip!

Summary of Fall Break

Fall break was great!

Katie was here for the week.

(more later...)

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Why does the dentist use the word "pressure"? Why does he not call it what it really is - pain?

At least he looks a little like Anderson Cooper.

I threw up twice. Thankfully not on him. Embarrassing nevertheless. Metallic taste was just too much.

Stopped after cleaning just the bottom teeth. He is going to order instruments made out of a material other than metal so we can finish. Strong.

"Dentist" can finally be marked off my list of things to do.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009


On the way to school in another downpour I was relieved.

This time last year, I taught in a portable. On a day like today it would have had hundreds of little muddy footprints all over the place, students (and myself) would be slipping from the gathered water puddles on the floor, and the constant wet/dry clothes from tromping to the school building for activities.

Now I sit snugly in my big classroom. We can watch the rain from our tiny window and proceed with our day nice and dry. Sometimes we don't even realize it is raining. Strong.

Saying little prayer of thanksgiving this morning...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tiggered Thoughts

So I have been reading this book called "I'm Too Young To Have Breast Cancer" by Beth Leibson-Hawkins. It makes me feel normal.

Recently, I have let my schedule get really busy. I think it has helped my spirits somewhat, but after having an evening at home tonight I am realizing how tired I am. It is a real struggle to balance my busyness that I am accustomed to and getting real rest. The book I am reading is full of stories about women going through the same battle. Some women have come to realize that being still is nice and they take drastic actions to slow down. Others keep doing what they have always done. This is my tendency. It makes me (and the women) feel more alive and more like the person I was pre-cancer.

My life feels turned upside down. I find myself needing to sit down more. There is a noticeable change in my arm strength. I almost cried when I could not hold my nephew Jakson for more than just a few minutes. My face is breaking out again. I find myself getting more impatient. After walking on Saturday, I could not move the rest of the day. This is not me. It is not who I want to be.

I know things will change. I know they will get better. Pep talks are huge and needed. I have not gone to my support group lately. I haven't felt like it. I am thankful the girls still come to my treatments though. I just don't want to be in a group setting talking about cancer right now. I am starting counseling next week. Hopefully, one on one will be more beneficial. I find encouragement in the books, blogs, and articles I read. There is hope for good things after all there is a lot of good surrounding me now. I just need to keep in mind the physical stuff will change again.

Change... I think that sums up my life.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cake Decorating

Tried my hand at cake decorating to celebrate some big events for my friends. Let's just say I'm no Martha Stewart when it comes to making cakes. It's the thought that counts!
Our friend, Daniel loves corn. In honor of his birthday...

Our friend, Josh will be receiving a saucer for his achievement. From us, he gets...

(Yes, that says "200" not "zoo" ;) )

Love you both.

Fall Is In The Air...

Sunday afternoon at Owen Brothers Farm in Chapmansboro, Tennessee...



Cool Weather and Good Friends,

Fall is in the air.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Race for the Cure

This morning we got up early and headed to Maryland Farms for the the Race for the Cure. It was amazing to see so many people turn out for the cause. I heard there were over 12,000 people who came!

After parking what seemed forever away, we met up with the rest of "Beth's Buddies" team. We definitely were the best-looking team with our great shirts! I did not truly plan on completing the race, but I did cross the finish arm with arms linked with my friend Robyn. The teammates who had got much further ahead than slowpoke Beth were there cheering loudly. While it was a good feeling, it was a tad sad thinking that this time last year I was running in races. Nothing to be ashamed of through after a chemo treatment yesterday.

Along the way, I met and talked with two other survivors. One woman, Robin (not my Robyn) came up and put her arm around me. She is finishing her treatments on Monday. :) She was super sweet. Another survivor raved about our shirts. She has been a survivor for 12 years and was walking strong. She reminded me that better days are ahead. Personally, I thought today was a good day.

I really can never complain about being supported, when I have so many who encourage me daily. Thanks to all of those who came out to the race, donated, or just showed support in whatever way you could. Overwhelmed with love.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Busy Weekend

Three days of fun events!

Last Friday night, we headed to the Ryman for two great bands. The Plain White T's were opening for Snow Patrol. I was so excited to see the Plain White T's because "Hey There Delilah" is one of my top ten songs. Great memories of singing this song at the top of my lungs in the car with Caitlin and then of course "Hey There Beth Quarles". Snow Patrol was pretty good too. We had seen them open for Coldplay a few months ago. They are surprising because you just don't realize how many songs they have that you already know. They did play some of their new songs from their album coming out in November and I wasn't as impressed. Overall, fun show and good tunes.

On Saturday, I had to go to a training for Metro for hours. Ugh. But the day quickly got better because I got to go to the Auburn/UT game! Justin and I headed to Knoxville to be one of the few screaming "War Eagle." After watching UT play, there might be some more Auburn fans. With the score of 26 to 20, Auburn winning, I was a happy girl. We couchsurfed which was an entirely different experience than my past surfings. The quick trip ended well with a stop in Cookeville to have lunch with Caitlin. We also made the first Christmas ornament purchase of the season. :)

When we got back to Nashville, I had time for a quick shower and then it was off to the circus with Brad. I am always amazed at how the circus has become such a big part of my life. (Mostly thanks to Brad.) Honestly, even though this was a cheap production of a circus, it was one of the best. We got to see elephants, tigers, motorcycles, trapeze artists, and a 67 year old human cannonball. Amazing.

It really was a fun weekend, but required some recovery. I truly am a blessed girl to be able to get to do such fun things and be surrounded by such good people.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

International Milk Day 2009

It's here again...

Happy International Milk Day!

This is the fourth annual day of celebration.

We did it up big in Miss Quarles' class. Our "Mystery Word of the Day" was calcium. We drank milk and enjoyed Sideways Stories From Wayside School. At the end of the day, we filmed a short video. (The Spanish and Arabic can be translated as "We love milk.")

Tonight Amy, Brad, and I will be getting milk-faced.

This is dedicated to all of those who have lived/live in the Middle Kingdom and know what it means to really appreciate milk.

To my fellow Yichangren... Wish we could all be together to celebrate over a glass of milk. Thinking of you all today with much love.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jakson's First Birthday

This weekend we celebrated my nephew's first birthday. It was so good to have Emily and Jakson in town! I wish Dallas was not so far away.

Jakson enjoyed a yummy birthday cake of his own. He racked up in gifts. Fun "Cars" house shoes, a wind up clock, clothes, dump truck, Titans shirt, and the priceless "Where The Wild Things Are" book.

In the tradition of writing him letters, here is the one for his first birthday...

Dearest Jakson,
It is amazing how fast time has gone by. You have developed a personality and have learned to use those legs. Yesterday you climbed stairs while we sat in the living room. Your mom was quite surprised! Time will continue flying by and soon you will be climbing mountains in the Alps.
You are a mama's boy. Don't let anybody tell you that is a bad thing. Your mom is quite terrific! I love watched you hold onto your mother. You play with her hair. You snuggle right into her arm. You are a perfect fit. You will always be a perfect fit, no matter how big you get. I hope you always hold tight to your mom and your family. We all love you.
You have started talking. While at the moment, the words just sound like noises, I know you are trying to say important things. I can't wait for the day where the noises become understandable and we can talk together about important things. I want to hear about all the things that are important to you.
Oh Jakson, you are loved so very much. You have added so much joy to the Quarles/Valenta families' lives. I cannot wait to see you again soon.
With All My Love,
Aunt Beth

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Race for the Cure

Nashvills's Race for the Cure is coming up on October 10th!

One of the girls at work organized a team called "Beth's Buddies". We set a goal to sign up 10 people and so far we have 22. We have already raised over $1,400. Wow! I am honored that so many people are going to walk with me.

You are invited too! Click on this link (Beth's Buddies) to sign up to walk or give a little something something.

There is another group walking on October 24th in the American Cancer Society Walk if you want to come out that weekend instead.

The fabulous LTG is helped me create a team t-shirt which I will post about once everything is finalized. :)

It's almost the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month so you are guaranteed to see a lot more pink these days!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Coming

I just realized something good is coming...

Next Thursday.

October 1st.

Need to start planning. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Extreme Measures

Sometimes one will take extreme measures to have her back popped... (thanks didi!)

On a side note... Brad has discovered how he will make millions in the physical therapy business. Celebs will eat this up!

Gripey at 5am

I am sitting in my pjs, a hoodie with hood up, two blankets wrapped around me, in my comfy mocs and drinking a cup of hot peppermint tea. As much as I adore my comfy mocs, it should not be cold enough yet for me to bust those out.
I woke up at 4 this morning with a serious case of the chills. Around 4:30, I decide I have had enough and slip into the shower. I let the hot water hit my skin until it runs out. (Looks like I will be paying a little more to the next water bill.) I get out and assemble layers of warmth, but it is still not enough. I boil tea, praying I will get it off before the loud whistle wakes a sleeping house. Now I sit, still cold, but feeling ridiculous.
The "aftershocks" of this treatment have been a little different. Thankful (and I do mean thankfully!!!!!) I have not had a case of the spaghetti legs. I am walking, a little slow, but I am getting around. My stomach has been tormented. My bald spot is growing alongside a little one that has developed. I have a sore in my mouth which stings a little each time I sip this tea. My face is looking rough, like a teen going through puberty again. My arm stings, like when your foot falls asleep and you have to wake it up with the feeling of thousands of pins in it. My whole body aches. The WHOLE thing.
I am a little gripey today.
I have been reading some books written by others who have gone through this. I feel a bit more normal. Personally, I still feel like a psychopath. Apparently though all of this is normal. Some stories make me even look good. I feel like I have done a decent job swallowing undeserved anger towards some things. In all of these things I am reading though, there are common themes of which I can identify -the process of letting go and letting others do, not feeling beautiful (for real!), feeling like your womenhood is at stake, worrying about future (having children, meeting somebody, etc.), trying to stay afloat in your job/school, and just overcoming the fact that your life is different now. Reading these things is sometimes refreshing, sometimes encouraging, and sometimes depressing. Breast cancer truly has affected so many lives.
It is times like this when all a girl wants to do is crawl up on the couch with a container of Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip put in some sappy movie and cry. It is kind of like going through a break-up... emotional and just pretty crappy. There is no ice cream for me. Instead, I grab a blanket, a cup of tea, and start to type.
It is important to me to document this time of my life. I share my writing openly with the chance that somebody else might feel a little more normal because that see somebody else who is struggling. I share my writing so that people will know what to pray about for me. I share my writing to save some poor soul who I would go off on a tangent on otherwise. I write this though for me. One day I am going to look at this and say "See big girl, you got through this." One day...

Friday, September 18, 2009


It is the morning of my second treatment, so a little update...

Physically: I will say I have felt much better physically this week. I drove to school a couple of days. Last night I volunteered at TPAC for Wicked. My muscles are not what they used to be. I pulled the Vespa out of the driveway the other night and swore it was the workout of the year. I cannot pour a gallon container without shaking. I am getting daily naps. Strong.

Emotionally: A doozy of a week. I have cried, gotten angry, been completely joyful, and happy. Bless this mess. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself... like when I see other girls playing with their hair or when I have to miss something at night because I am just too tired. Sometimes I am thankful for the lessons I am learning... to just say "no" sometimes. I feel loved though. Ridiculously loved.

Work: I do love my school! My kiddos have been super good this week. The smell of crabs and frogs has overtaken the 4th grade hallway. It is not for the faint of heart. Maggie and Beth have been so kind to take the kiddos when I have had to leave early this week to get some shots/meds. Today, "Mr.Bateman" will be subbing. The little monsters love him and I am thankful he is around. I am currently at school trying to wrap up some things for the week and get some things together for next week.

Anxiety has taken over to some degree. There are no plans for the weekend and nothing pressing to take care of, but I still feel anxious. Hopefully that will disappear after my treatment. A song came to mind this morning as I tried giving myself a little pep talk. It is one of my favorites and we used to sing it often in China. (Brad also shares a deep love for this song.) It comes from Isaiah 43...

When you pass through the water I will be with you,
And the waves they will not overtake you.
Do not fear for I have redeemed you.
You are mine.
For I am the Lord Your God.
For I am the Holy One of Israel,
your Savior.
I am the Lord. (Do not fear.)
I am the Lord. (Do not fear.)
I am the Lord. (Do not fear.)
I am the Lord. (Do not fear.)
I am the Lord.
When you pass through the fire I will be with you,
And the flames they will not overcome you.
Do not fear for I have redeemed you.I
have called you by name.
You are mine.
I am His.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Little Things

Some little things I am thankful for today...

Sonic Route 44 Cherry Limeades
Not having to drive to work (spoiled.)
My rocking chair and Auburn pillow (Planning nap time was great!)
Coldplay's Parachutes
Projector in classroom
The nap I will be taking in the car this afternoon :)
Watching the Office (season 5 dvd) tonight with Bethie and Mags
The couch I will be crashing on after school
Scholastic's 50% off sale! (teacher's paradise!!!)
The rain which makes sleeping oh-so-much better

Yes, it is a lazy feeling day of which I plan to partake in as much as I can.

So thankful...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Constant Battle

This weekend was a complete roller coaster emotionally.

Friday and Saturday were quite enjoyable. More on that later...

Sunday and today have been messy. Yesterday I felt on the verge of tears all day. They never really came. I really longed to sit on the porch with God, sit in his lap, be rocked, and just feel strength consume me. Maybe a little childish sounding, but that is what I wanted. Today, I lost it on the ride to school. We hit about a 10 second cry. I really just want to cry because I think I will feel better. I feel like everything is just building up. These quick couple of second cries are becoming normal. When I walked to my classroom, I found these beauties outside of my room along with a note...

"To brighten your day, Beth! May you always see beauty around you. It is everywhere. Love, The K-Team"

Another couple of seconds cry.

Part of the reason why I have been so emotional is because of the outpouring of love I have received. It is truly overwhelming. Truly. To go home and have a mailbox filled with cards, to walk into school and everybody is wearing pink ribbons, to receive emails of encouragement from people I have never met, to be hugged on, to hold hands with... all of these things... it is overwhelming.

I get so frustrated because I am not reaching out the way I normally would. I am tired of not being able to do all the things I want to do. I am tired of being tired, of body aches, of second tears, of being dependent on others for so much, etc.

At the same time, I realize how blessed I am. I do. I am so grateful to be where I am.

This is just a constant battle.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009



I have finally figured out the word for what I am.

On Friday, Beth N. and I went to see Julie and Julia right after school. A little over 2 hours later, I left the theater all smiles and wanting to see it again. On Saturday, I purchased My Life in France by Julia Child and Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. On Monday, Amy and I went to see the movie again. I am currently sucked into reading My Life in France. On Saturday, Tiffany and I will be going to see the movie. I cannot get enough!!!

I have always been a sucker for quirky people, blogging, pearls, and cooking. Could a movie be more fitting?!?!! Julia's frankness and enjoyment of life is so endearing. She wears pearls. Had me then. Guess I have my Halloween costume... Julie's personality traits and life events pretty much sum up my life too. Loved her.


How can Hollywood affect me so?

If you want to go see the movie, let me know... I see a movie inspired dinner party in the near future. That would be worth saving up some energy for.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

President's Education Speech

This morning, our class listened to President Obama speak directly to students.

President Obama is quite popular among students. Last year during election time, all of my students voted for him. There was a lot of excitement when he won the election. This morning there was the same air of excitement among the kiddos. Several of my students stood and clapped when they first showed the President at the podium.

I was quite thankful that the President's speech was simple enough for my students to understand. He spoke on the importance of student ownership in education. While my students do not understand the ins and outs of a political system, they do see a president who they can identify with (just based on background alone). He does offer them hope.

Now back to crabs and frogs... ugh.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Whoever is happy will make others happy too."
-Anne Frank

Thursday, September 3, 2009


So this morning on the way to school we made a little pit stop at Sonic. (Those Route 44s are a blessing for dry mouth!) The girl who brought my Cherry Limeade was ridiculously chipper. She asked if we were having a good morning and I think I might have glared at her. (Thankfully she could not see my face.) Could not help but stare at her as bound off to do her work.

When I got to school, I walked into my classroom, letting out a huge sigh. "Do I have to be here today?" I am tired. After piddling around, I got to thinking, "what could make me as exuberant as the Sonic carhop?" I pulled out my Good Book for my morning refresher and this was my passage today.

Psalm 117
1 Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
2 For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD.
I am no Sonic chick, but I have good reason to have a little more bounce in my step. Talk about a reason to be happy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Just Call Me Spaghetti...

It really is amazing how much has happened in the past year... but the last few weeks in particular have been exceptionally full.

I have been diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. It has spread to my lymph nodes. I have started chemo. I will go every 3 weeks for 5 months.

There, I just blog-vomited.

Yesterday was my first round of treatment. My first treatment consisted of a drug called Avastin. I just sat for what seemed like forever while the drug was pumped through my veins. Thank goodness for the company of Linda and Ellie, some chickas from my support group. Linda painted my toenails a rockin' pink. I got home safely with relatively little side effects which is a blessing. I slept most of the afternoon and felt numb on the left side of my body.

This morning I managed to make it to school. (Thanks to my driver! ;) ) While walking the kids back from the restroom my legs semi-gave out. Basically, they feel like spaghetti. We got back to the classroom and I taught for a little while from my chair. When the kiddos went to related arts, I went home. This really seems ridiculous, but I cannot walk. Brad, Justin, and Amy have taken turns walking me from one room to another and each time I swear I am not moving again. Really praying this is a one day side effect and that I can go back to school tomorrow.

I wish I could say that I was doing well, but I am a mess. I cannot cry which has always been my outlet for things. I seriously cry for like 2 seconds and then I am done. I don't feel any better. I find myself getting so frustrated because I am tired, feel sore, etc. I feel like I am being a burden (don't correct me now... maybe I am not, but I feel like I am) I am scared of losing my hair. I am scared of something happening at school. I am scared of people feeling like I can't do my job.

I am grateful for the huge outpouring of love people have shown. I have gotten some beautiful flowers (thanks Lindsey and Joe!), great phone calls (David and Katie...) and masses of emails. My family has been amazing and now I get to hear almost all of their voices daily. ;) And you know the House of Awesome has been exceptionally awesome... So yeah, I have quite the support system and I feel loved.

Looks like I am in for some ups and downs, but in the midst of it all, there is hope. Someone is carrying me and will see me through. You can just call me spaghetti...

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Other Beth

I just love my friends!! Seriously, they are the most fabulous people on earth. This weekend I got lots of Beth Neese time. ;)

Beth and I met in college while preparing to go on our first trip to Scotland. We became instead friends due to our "Southerness", love for Auburn (Beth turned out to be a traitor though and pulls for the Vols now!), scrapbooking obsession, and just our plain goofiness. Beth has always had a faith in the Lord that I admire. Over time we began going our separate ways, but always made time to catch up. When moving back to the States last year, I was hired at the same school as Beth. We literally were separated by just a sidewalk, yet we did not really make much effort to spend time together. That has changed!

On Saturday, Amy, Brad and I met Beth for lunch and then we all wig shopping. (More on that later...) Beth and I spent the afternoon by going to a new children's bookstore, trying a new yogurt dessert place, getting makeovers and makeup at Bare Escentuals, and going out for sushi. It really was the perfect kind of day.

Sunday morning, Beth and Amanda met Justin and me for church at Fellowship. Finding a church home has been a real struggle since being Stateside. Beth and our friend Maggie have decided to find a new church home too. It is nice having friends to visit churches with you and then discuss with later.

Just seeing Beth brings a smile to my face. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

First Day of School

I survived the first day of school!

As of Friday, I have 16 precious kiddos. They all are cute as a button. Quite chatty. ;) I am quite sure that I will have some good stories this year.

Come take a tour of my classroom...

From the front of the classroom

From the door
The teacher's area
The reading corner
I love it! It is much more organized than last year. I cannot take much of the credit though. Justin really came through and did much of the organization, lifting, and anything else I asked of him. It gave me time to go to meetings and do the "fun stuff" like making things. Amy also gave up an evening to clean and sharpen pencils. Thanks friends!

I am truly excited about the school year. My goal is to not just survive, but teach.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

keeping afloat

feeling a tad overwhelmed these days...

have so much to do.

kiddos come tomorrow and i could not be more excited about that.

picking up my sister hannah tonight from airport. dad just called to say he is flying back tonight too. will get to see both of them. that makes my heart happy.

have had some good quiet time studies this week. (will share some soon.)

good things are keeping me afloat these days.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Faculty Retreat

This weekend I went on my school's faculty retreat. For 2 days, we discussed Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), went through team building exercises, and just spent time catching up.

I was excited to get to spend time with the beauties, Maggie and Beth N. Funny how even though we see each other almost everyday, we don't really get to talk. These girls really are a joy to be around!

The retreat took place at the YMCA's Camp Widji. Talk about a nice place! It is situated right on Percy Priest lake. They have ropes courses, a resort style pool, amazing dining hall and just lots of fun stuff to do. I really would have enjoyed spending more time there. The cabins were great and my bed was so nice I fell asleep before campfire and woke up just in time for breakfast. I did not hear a sound. Strong.

I am going to enjoy my final day before school at my parents' pool and relaxing. I am really excited about the school year! The retreat was a nice way to get even more geared up.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brad's Birthday

On Monday, J. Bradley turned 25!

Sadly due to exams a big celebration could not take place, but much fun was to be had anyways.

For dinner, we all met up at a Gyro place in Brentwood. After grabbing food, we headed to Granny White Park for a picnic and to play on the swings. We headed back to the house for some front porch living. Grasshopper pie, candlelight, and some good tunes made for the perfect chill atmosphere. It got even better when Josh and Roan showed up! Nothing beats good friends on a good front porch...

That is, unless you get a new bicycle! Brad has been stuck in the house and library for the entire summer. I do not kid. I have never met anybody so diligent in their studies. For his birthday, we all decided a bike was prime factor in freedom for the Captain. His face was priceless. Everybody was happy.

If you happen to see a young buck riding around East Nashville on a black Giant bicycle (Black Pearl Dos!), wave because that is just a good man seeking out a little freedom. ;)

Happy Birthday Brad. Love you much.

"We Are All Awesome"

It is always good to see "awesome" faces!

On Sunday night Kim and Katie arrived in Nashville. There was a lot of excitement at the Stockell house. Brad and Amy hadn't seen the girls since last October and it had been over a year since I had last seen them. We enjoyed a dinner on the porch and catching up.

Poor Brad had final exams this week so his time was limited. Poor Amy had to work. It did give me lots of quality time with K&K though.

On Monday, the girls went with me to work in my classroom. Classroom library looks great, thanks to these two! We came home to have lunch with Brad before heading to my parents to swim. Nothing like a good summer afternoon of sunshine with dear friends! We caught up with my parents over a nice snack spread Mama had prepared. In the evening, everyone was able to go out to celebrate Brad's birthday.

Tuesday was a little more laid back. We spent the morning watching YouTube videos. We met up with Amy for a Chik-Fil-A (or Chik-A-Fil as Kim calls it) meal. I napped in the afternoon and the girls were able to spend some more time with Brad. For dinner, we had delicious Tacos-In-A-Bag... a good Yichang favorite. And what trip would be complete without a trip to Pied Piper? Of course, we made an ice cream run. Blueberry Cheesecake. Yum! We had to book it through the rain to get back to our car. The girls had to leave, but not before snagging this picture. (Note: We look a little rough because we ran in the rain!)

Another great trip for the Yichang 5!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

At Least It Was A Friday Night Out....

Last night, Justin and I went to see the Kaiser Chiefs and Green Day. We only snagged a couple of songs by the Kaiser Chiefs, but I wasn't crushed. Green Day was also pretty disappointing.

Green Day is a generational icon. When I got a call for the tickets, I was excited. Now, I am so thankful I did not have to pay for the tickets. The showmanship, the music, just everything was not impressive. I will be sticking with older albums.

The only saving graces for the evening were the people watching (seriously thought the guy a few seats down was going to fall over the rail!), the song "Basket Case", the fact that it was a free night out, and the Vespa ride afterwards. ;)