Thursday, October 29, 2009


a sampling of my final product, nice orange color frosting don't you think? :)

Candy Corn . . . are like Twinkies to me, you don't eat them for months (or years in the case of Twinkies) and then you take a handful to remember what their sugary goodness is like. It only takes a few and you remember why you don't eat them on a regular basis, toooooooo sweet! Twinkies are just an all around gut bomb. How did I LOVE them when I was a child??

We're having a "fall festival" at both of the schools I work at tomorrow. It's kind of an alternative to full fledged Halloween. A bunch of teachers were asked to sign up to provide baked treats for an auction so I volunteered. The treat we make is supposes to have a fall/Halloween theme so I decided to go with sugar cookies. Somewhere along the way in college I bought some Halloween cookie cutters so I went to town tonight.

It was a little strange because I think this is the first time I have made sugar cookies (decorating the whole 9 yards) outside of Christmas baking. It's an Eller family tradition to make Christmas sugar cookies on Christmas Eve and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" together. I finished tonight and had the urge to put on "It's a Wonderful Life" a couple holidays early to reminisce. Here's to fall!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

a hunting mishap . . .

WARNING: Mom, you may want to skip this entry. It contains graphic images. :) Just giving you a heads up. This is for all family and friends that want to see evidence of Ben's run in with a deer.

This past Monday Ben took a "short" study break to help a buddy pack out and clean a deer he shot. The deer was about a 5 mile drive in the mountains away from his buddy's house, Jonathan. He figured he'd be gone for about 2 hours and get back home to study in no time. Well, that's not exactly how the afternoon turned out.

Ben got to Jonathan's and they drove out to the spot where he had been hunting. Ben hiked down to the deer and found that it was not actually dead just injured. The front legs were broken and it was stuck in an area of thick brush dying. Neither Ben nor Jonathan, both experienced hunters, had guns just knives to quarter up the deer and pack it out. Ben took it upon himself to knife the deer in the heart/lung area and let it bleed out quickly. No big deal, it was just a deer. As he pinned the antlers down, however, the deer turned his head quick the opposite direction and gored Ben's left calf. The antler poked right through his double lined carhart pants.

It all happened within a matter of seconds so Ben didn't think much of it until he looked down later and saw blood dripping out on his sock and shoe. The inner lining of his pants was rather wet by this time too. Ben and Jonathan went ahead and packed the deer out and drove back to Jonathan's house where Jonathan stitched him up at his kitchen table. No, Jonathan is not a doctor he's just has a kit at home to stitch up his hunting dog when he gets stuck in barbed wire, he figured a leg can't be that much harder. Ben said each stick had a different knot. Jonathan had perfected his stitch knot by the 7th stitch. We have good health insurance through my job but Ben said Stephanie, Jonathan's wife, was offering complimentary juice at their house so how could he pass it up?

Ben called a doctor friend from seminary after the mishap and got a prescription for heavy duty antibiotics to fight infection. The first couple days he walked around the house like a gimp. Now his hobble is less noticeable but he's still pretty tight. He has said you never notice how much you use your calf until you injure it. His doctor friend said he should be back to normal in 4-6 weeks. I think he's planning on cutting the stitches out himself tomorrow night. Not the way I would go about it, but hey, I'm not a man.

Monday, October 19, 2009

life is precious . . .

In my seven years of speech pathology and more than 400 IEP meetings today was the hardest IEP meeting I have been a part of. Right now I work at two schools for an elementary district in Northern Los Angels. One school I'm at I work in two SDC (Special Day Class) programs for children with multiple severe disabilities.

This morning our team had an IEP meeting for a little boy in one of the SDC classes. This particular boy is one of the sweetest students I've ever met. You wouldn't know it by looking at him now but last year this time he was in a typically kindergarten class, walking, talking, making friends like all the other kindergarten students at our school. It was about this time a year ago things started changing for this boy physically and mentally. Within the past 12 months this little boy has changed from a typical K-1 student, talking, playing at recess, making friends, eating and misbehaving like typical kindergarten students do to barely being able to walk, eat and talk. He is nearly nonverbal today.

About a month ago his parents took him to a pediatric neurologist but a formal diagnosis was not given because of extenuating circumstances. For other strange and unusual circumstances his medical diagnosis was actually given this morning at our IEP meeting. These parents were told this morning that their son has a rare aggressive degenerative disease that will eventually lead to death. I had a very difficult time staying composed during our meeting. My heart ached for this couple and their sweet boy who sat next to mom at the meeting rolling his toy bus on the table.

My mind reeled as the meeting went on thinking of all the cases I have worked with over my career. The closest thing I can compare this to was back in college when I had an internship at a long-term care facility on a dementia floor. I worked with two women in particular that left an impression on me. One was in her early 50s and one was in her mid 80s. I wondered then as an eager therapist, "What goals do you set for someone who has a progressive degenerative disease?" With adults fighting dementia and Alzheimer's speech-language goals focus on maintaining memories for as long as possible and creating strategies to maintain those memories. I remember vividly the husbands of these wives coming to visit every day not knowing if their wives would recognize them that day and the joy and tears on the days they did remember their husbands.

Today I set a goal for a little boy who 12 months ago could walk, talk and hang out with friends. Now he can barely babble words. This little boy finds joy in babbling when he has the strength and can use other augmentative devices to communicate wants and needs. When I have my language group in his classroom and we sing songs he lights up like a firefly and gets a huge grin on his face showing his enjoyment and love of music.

Today my perspective changed, or maybe just put back in place. Life isn't always about making a lot of progress, being the best, getting the best grades, having the best kids, being the perfect parent etc. Life is more about making the most of the time we're given. I couldn't help but think during my IEP meeting this morning what this little boy's parents wouldn't given to have 10 more years with their son. His doctors don't know if they will even have 2 more years at this point. Today I was reminded that life is precious.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Ben and I were picking up a couple things at Target this week and came across some good old fashion sugar cereal Boo Berry and Franken Berry. I grew up in ND eating these cereals along with other sugar favorites like Count Chocula, Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs. Just to reminisce about old times we bought a box and to my surprise they're pretty darn good . . . as a desert that is. :)

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Kari, me, Danita in Valdez, AK

Charleston, SC

trip to CA to meet Ben after we got engaged . . . movies and skookies, the way Friday nights were meant to be!

posing at the Getty in LA

Kari and I have been friends since 1998 when I moved to MN to start my speech path program. She has become one of those life long friends that will always be dear to me. We've made some unforgettable memories over the past 11 years . . .

* Roommates in college at St. Cloud State University
* We led Bible studies together through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on campus
* Prayer accountability partners for years even long distant
* Taken MANY road trips all over the country
* Flown to MN, AK, SC, CA back and forth to see each other almost every year since college
* She's been adopted as a surgate daughter into the Eller/Burdine family, my parents email her almost as much as I do
* Kari was my maid of honor in my wedding this past June

I am grateful for friends like Kari where you can always pick up right where you left off even if you haven't called in 2 or 3 months. She has been a blessing in my life! Thanks for the fun week in MN Kari!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

fall break

Kari and me on a walk in Duluth, I LOVE fresh air!!

the beginning of a beautiful midwest fall

the draw bridge in Duluth, MN

SCSU campus

the student center at SCSU

This week I have a week off of work b/c of fall break. The district I work for has a two month summer instead of three so during the school year we get a lot of extra time off one being a fall break. Ben has class and work this week so I took the opportunity and cheap flight deals to fly out to MN and see my college roommate Kari for the week.

It has been a great break from work and BIG city life. Funny how Minneapolis seems "small" in relation to LA, it's all a matter of perspective. We spent time in Duluth at a friend's lake house, AMAZING relaxing. We drove through our old stomping grounds at St. Cloud State on our way back down to the Twin Cities and we watched some EXCELLENT Major League baseball. The Twins just won the division title and are in the World Series starting today in NY. I grew up going to Twins games having lived in ND for 9 years and then went to several in college. This is the final season at the Metrodome. The team is moving to their new "home" at the Target dome next year.

It's been a fun walk down memory lane and a great week of R&R and girl time! I miss my man for sure and am looking forward to seeing him on Friday but it's been a fun break from the work scene.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

fall in So Cal . . .

tiny piles of leaves in a dry and barren desert land . . . thankfully its cooling down this week to the upper 80s, it was 106 last week!

neighbors expecting :)

Dinner date to Claim Jumper . . . AMAZING food and AK type atmosphere, our favorite restaurant