One, I’m not sure if enchalupé is a word.  Two, I just figured out how to put the accent above the e, which makes me kind of excited.  Regardless, I’m excited about this recipe.

I received this recipe from the mom from my roommate Steph in college.  I spent a couple of weeks staying with her family, and her mom made this one night.  Me, being a Mexican food fan, fell in love with this recipe.  It takes about an hour (start to finish), but it’s delicious and totally worth it.  I’ve tweaked it a bit to fit my husband’s and my tastes, but the bulk of it remains the same.



1 pound ground chicken/turkey/beef

1 onion, chopped

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can refried beans

1 package taco seasoning

1 package large flour tortillas

1 package (3 cups) shredded Colby Jack cheese


Brown meat with onions, and drain fat.  Add the diced tomatoes, refried beans, and taco seasoning.  Heat until warm.


Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Layer the bottom of a 13×9 pan with tortillas.  Once meat mixture is warm, layer half on top of the tortillas.  Layer half of the cheese on top of the meat mixture.  Repeat with tortillas, remaining meat, and remaining cheese.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until top is beginning to brown.  Cool five minutes before cutting.


Top with favorites like sour cream, lettuce, tomato, salsa, guacamole, etc.  Enjoy!

Categories: Foodstuff, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ooooh, I’ve been bad…

It’s been a REALLY long time since I’ve updated this.  Bad blogger!  Well, in all fairness, I’ve been blogging…just not here.  I’ve been updating the baby blog and a class blog, so this one has just fallen by the wayside.  My apologies!

So, what’s been going on the past six weeks or so?  A lot actually!  I guess I’ll just try to synthesize, because otherwise, this post will be ridiculously long.

*I will officially be taking next semester off to stay home with the baby.  After much thought and debate, my advisor and I decided that this would be the best course of action emotionally, mentally, and academically.  I’ll get about 4 months at home with the little one, and if we’re lucky, he/she will be very close to sleeping through the night by the time I go back to class.  In the meantime, I will occupy myself with a lot of (scholarly) reading, trying to narrow my interests, and frame myself within the research.  If I get the chance to be really productive, I’ll hopefully find a way to churn out a publication.

*I went to Vancouver for the American Education Research Association (AERA) conference.  I fell in love!  Not only was Vancouver itself an amazing, beautiful, friendly city, but the fact that I was there to learn was just so much fun.  I saw a lot of great researchers, had my thinking pushed a little, and got to meet some of the prominent people I read.  Anyone heard of Gloria Ladson-Billings?  (Probably not, unless you’re an education nerd like me).  Yeah, got to meet her and we talked about Wisconsin politics for a good 15 minutes or so.  Additionally, four girls, two beds, one hotel room, and nobody killed or wanted to kill each other.  It was like a long sleepover!  So much fun!

Baby's face is on the right

*M and I can officially feel Stormageddon move.  He/She is a busy bee in there!  There are very specific times where he/she is really active…particularly during my stats class and again later at night.  Perhaps we have a statistician on our hands??  Also, we’re officially half way through the pregnancy.  We had our 20 week appointment and ultrasound this week.  While the ultrasound was so much fun, the face shots are a little creepy.  He/She looks a little like a cyborg in this shot.  Look at that big brain cavity!  But have no fear, when we saw the baby’s face from another angle, it looked a lot cuter!  Also, we could see Stormageddon opening and closing it’s mouth…probably in there complaining…not unlike it’s mother.  😀

*Classes are officially over for the semester!  I just have to finish up a case study (which is A LOT of work), finish a take-home stats test, take a stats final, and write two papers before I’m free for the summer.  Yes it’s a lot, but at the same time, I’m shocked that I’ve made it through this first year.  There were times, particularly in the beginning of this semester when I was exhausted and hormonal that I really didn’t know how I would make it.  But alas, it’s almost May, and another school year is done!

That’s about it for the update.  Hopefully now that school is winding down, I’ll have more time to update things.

Categories: Academia, Children, Daily Life, Education, Family, Married Life, Politics, Pregnancy | Leave a comment

Me, A-Z

As Spring Break is winding down, I was looking for something somewhat frivolous to do tonight.  Aside from watching Frozen Planet, I came across this fun little thing.  I figured it was a random way for me to share a little bit more about my life.

A. Age: 27

B. Bed size: Queen

C. Chore that you hate: Folding laundry–our clean clothes will usually sit in the dryer until we forget about them, and we remind each other to put our laundry away

D. Dogs: Don’t own any yet

E. Essential start to your day: Running to the bathroom, making the bed, and snuggling with the kitties

F. Favorite color: Blue

G. Gold or Silver: Silver

H. Height: 5’1″ (when I round up!)

I. Instruments you play: I play a mean kazoo.  I own a violin, but wouldn’t say that I can actually play it.

J. Job title: Professional (Ph.D.) student in Education

K. Kids: None yet, but Stormageddon is baking away at the moment

L. Live: St. Louis

M. Mother’s name: Victoria

N. Nicknames: Lynz, Little Buddy, or my parent’s personal favorite, Lynnie

O. Overnight hospital stays: When I was 14 and had an ovarian cyst removed, and when I was 24 and had my gallbladder taken out

P. Pet peeve: Fakeness and lying; honesty means a lot to me

Q. Quote from a movie: “Let’s get the shit kicked out of us by love!” –Love Actually

R. Right or left handed: Right

S. Siblings: Khrysta (25) and Max (22–>23 this week)

T. Time you wake up: My alarm goes off at 7:15…when I actually get up can be another story.  Usually between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m.

U. Underwear: Whatever is comfy and on sale at Victoria’s Secret

V. Vegetable you hate: Cauliflower = yuck!!

W. What makes you run late: Getting distracted by the Internets so I lose track of time

X. X-Rays you’ve had: My left wrist when I broke it, and a chest X-ray when I got a really bad case of bronchitis

Y. Yummy food that you make: Any kind of Italian

Z. Zoo Animal: My favorites are giraffes, elephants, and penguins.

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The Day Our Life Changed

Written on December 30, 2011

I’m going to be holding this one close to the chest for a while…once we decide to announce this to the world, I’ll make this post public.  For now, it’s just between DH and I.

Our lives changed forever today at 3:45 p.m. when I took a pregnancy test.

I’d been having some nagging inklings for the past week or so, even though it was super early.  Although I was having some typical PMS symptoms, they just weren’t the same.  My gut kept going, “maybe you’re pregnant.”  I’d shake it off, because in a lot of ways, it was unbelievable.  The fertility specialist said trying naturally would be “playing roulette.”  DH and I weren’t even really trying; we were just along the “if it happens, it happens” route.

Today was different though.  After chowing my second piece of fudge in about 30 seconds, something just seemed off.  I had been getting dizzy spells on and off all day, and feeling a little queasy.  I chalked it up to nerves, but tested anyways.

Faint, but there…positivo!

Right now I’m pretty nervous.  Having a baby in September, while not unwelcome, is a bit of a surprise.  Oddly, the only thing I’m really concerned about is how my department is going to react, and how things with school will be impacted.  I know DH and I have been ready to be parents for a while…I just don’t know how good I’ll be at parenting while being a student.  We were anticipating on it happening after I was done with classes.  Not that life would be a lot easier at that point–just–different.

But, we’ll see.  Life is always ready to throw you a curve ball when you least expect it.  But I’ve got to admit, this is a pretty darn exciting curve ball!


March 10, 2012

Obviously, things the past few months have been exciting around here.  Since this post was written, we’ve had a trip to the ER for side pain at 5 weeks, had an ultrasound at 7 weeks, and have heard our baby’s heartbeat at 12 weeks.  Now, in our 13th week, life is good.  🙂  Can’t wait to see what the future brings!  Only 7 more weeks until we get another ultrasound and get to see the baby again!

Additionally, I have another blog that I’ve been keeping since last summer.  It goes into the fertility issues, as well has the early days of the pregnancy.  I plan on keeping that blog throughout the pregnancy, and once we have the baby.  It does have an adult “content warning” on it, (as the process of making babies and having babies isn’t always so child-friendly) so if you want the link to it, you’ll have to let me know.  🙂

As far as school goes, I could not have asked for a better support system.  My advisor got pregnant during her last year of classes in her Ph.D., so she is really able to empathize with all of my concerns.  Hopefully, we’ve worked something out for next semester that honestly is the most ideal situation I could have ever hoped for.  We have been truly blessed on our journey thus far, and can’t wait to see what the rest of it brings!

Categories: Academia, Body Issues, Children, Daily Life, Education, Faith, Family, Married Life, Pregnancy | Tags: | 3 Comments

The Life/Work Balance

In a much different way from last semester, this semester is rough.  I don’t know if it’s just one specific class that has me bogged down with just an insane amount of constant work, or if it’s the combination of these four classes that make me wish there was either more time in the day, or more days in the week.  Whatever it is, it has me questioning how the heck it’s almost March, and I still feel like I have no clue how to manage my time this semester.

I’ve had NO outside life this semester.  You can ask my husband what we’ve done almost every weekend since school started.  I’ve worked Friday-Sunday on school stuff, almost non-stop.  Even the weekend my SIL and BIL were in town for M’s birthday…I worked pretty much non-stop.  And it’s not like I procrastinate and put stuff off until the weekend; it’s just that I can’t stay on top of things.  There’s too much to do.

I don’t know how to balance it all yet.  It’s nearly midterms.  Never have I felt this way this late into the semester.  I wish I would have had the foresight to say that I was only going to take 3 classes.  Due to circumstances for next school year, I’m going to be pushed back a little anyway.  Too bad it’s too late in the semester to drop a class.  Even if I did have the option, I don’t know which one I’d drop.

I’m starting to feel really guilty; like I’m neglecting my personal life.  I’m so lucky that I have a husband that picks up the slack around the house.  Otherwise, we’d have dishes piled through the roof, or we’d be eating cereal every night (well, I would be eating cereal every night…I don’t know what he would eat).  When I come home, I’m just too tired/spent to do it or care about it.  He doesn’t complain about it, but I still feel like I haven’t been a supportive enough spouse.  Although I know that he’s not as “busy” as I am, there are so many times that I’m so focused on all of my school work that I fail to ask him how things are going in his life.

I just don’t feel like I have any outside life this semester.  I feel like I’m just a lousy little graduate student; nothing more.  My soul misses reading, and writing, and cooking…and even occasionally, the cleaning.  I miss LIVING.  There are so many good things going on in my life, and I’m just not excited about any of them.  Instead, I’m worried about how it will cut into the precious little free time I have to get all of my work done.  And that too makes me feel guilty.  I should be excited.  I should be happy.  Instead, I’m counting down the days until the semester is over, and maybe then I can breathe a sigh of relief.

Categories: Academia, Daily Life, Education, Married Life | Leave a comment

Soul Searching

The past month or so has been a little rough…it’s gotten even more tricky since school has started up again.

I continue to question whether or not I can do this.  People tell you before joining a Ph.D. program that it’s hard.  If you’re like me, you’ll probably shrug it off, and think, “Well, maybe it is hard for them.  But I’ve done grad school, and how bad can classes and a little research be?”  And then you get there…and realize that you’re not playing with the little kids undergrads anymore.  You’re supposed to be big time; putting out publishable material; coming up with original concepts for your field…and it doesn’t matter that you’ve only been there 4 months.  You are no longer in the field, you ARE the field.  And sometimes that can be scary, intimidating stuff.

The hard part is, I actually like what I’m doing, for the most part.  I like researching new ideas and writing papers; I love the moment when it all starts to come together, and I can point to something I wrote and feel victorious that my ideas actually make sense.  And although I’m not a huge fan of the necessary statistics, it’s really exciting when it shows you that there is some mathematical link between your ideas.  Plus, I don’t think I’ve mentioned the conferences.  You get to travel to places (like Vancouver!!) to LEARN!  How cool is that?

It’s just…it’s a lot of pressure.  All the time.  I have a class that wants us to put out TWO items for publication in addition to everything else going on in my four classes this semester.  Four classes at the Ph.D. level in of itself is a ton of work.  I can’t even imagine what it’ll be like next year when I have TA-ing and other obligations to attend to.

Right now I’m just freaking out and nervous.  This happens at the beginning of every semester.  Part of me is super tempted to start looking for a job.  In some ways, I feel like working would just be a lot easier right now.  Although I would lose about 2 weeks of winter break, I would gain my weekends (for the most part) and ditch a lot of the extra work.

But right now, I’m in it for the long haul.  I made a commitment to invest in my future self.  As much as things can occasionally suck, I wanted this.  I wanted this even after being warned by several people how much it would suck.  In the end, I just pray that I’m good enough.

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“Home” for the Holidays

Once again this year, DH and I packed up the cats, and made our Christmas pilgrimage to the north to spend the holiday at his sister’s house.  I really like it when we go there for Christmas, because that means we get to do Christmas with his family, my Dad, and usually my brother-in-law’s family.  It’s slightly crazy, but that’s how I’ve always loved it.

This year was different in many ways though.  I spent most of Christmas Eve feeling nostalgic, and a little melancholy.  Although it’s been great the past couple of years to start new traditions, in my heart I was still wishing for some of the old ones.  I mostly missed being with my Mom on Christmas Eve.  I had literally spent every Christmas Eve of my life with my Mom until I was 24.  Since being married, I haven’t spent any of them with her (not that those two are terribly related–she moved away that year).  But still, this year I really missed the chaos that used to be Christmas while growing up: Christmas Eve mass with my Mom, leaving to spend Christmas Eve with my step-dad’s family, Christmas morning with my Mom and step-dad, getting picked up by Dad and opening gifts with him prior to his family gathering, and finishing out the day with M.  While this year was really nice, it was just…quiet.  Not quite the crazy chaos of shuffling homes that I had grown up with.

It probably didn’t help to find out that there’s another women living in the house I grew up in.  I suppose I should have anticipated this day coming.  I didn’t really expect my step-dad to spend the rest of his days in lonely isolation, even if it’s in the house that we all built together.  I think part of the pain comes from the fact that she’s redone the house.  And she has 5 dogs!!!  5 dogs–in the house that he wouldn’t even let us have one in!  I hear she’s nice…but it was a pretty blatant reminder that that house will never be my home again.  It’s hard to let it go, even though I haven’t lived there in a while.  It’s also pretty clear that there’s still a hole in my heart left from that divorce.  Like all divorces, I don’t know if that scar will heal.  The memories of the good times often far outweigh the memories of the bad, and so they’re hard to let go.

I know it’s all part of growing up.  Things change, and we’ve got to adapt and learn to love the new traditions.  One day when M and I have kids of our own, things will probably change again, and new traditions will continue to be made.  I just hope that those changes will be a lot easier to institute and adopt, and that feelings of longing and sadness on Christmas will just be a thing of the past.

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Christmas Cheer

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted last.  I guess life got really busy, eh?

My life for the past month has been taken over by school, and statistics.  Somewhere in there, I’ve turned 27.  Yikes.  I mentally keep referring to myself as 26.  I keep forgetting that I had a birthday–first sign that you’re getting old.  I also keep forgetting that it’s December.  But maybe now that school is over for the semester, I’ll be able to unwind and get with the program.

I suppose I should update the math situation.  In the end, the class was a spectacular failure.  :/

I went into the final with an 81 in the class.  Not bad, considering where I started.  I needed at least an 86% on the final to pull me up to a B.  Unfortunately, my grade on the Final was a dismal 77%, and left me with a B- in the class.  And the math meltdown happened for real.

But at some point while I was crying into my husband’s shoulder, moaning about how my GPA would no longer be its perfect 4.0, I began to come to terms with my grade.  It was probably while Noelle was meowing at us, wanting us to grab her paper ball off the wine rack.  Mike and I looked at her and he said, “Shhh Noelle.  Think of Mommy’s GPA.”  For some reason this made me burst out laughing.  I realized how silly the whole thing was.  Yes, I was pissed that I had worked so hard, only to still technically “fail” the class.  And yes, my stellar 4.0 is no longer in existence.  But, there are SO MANY more important things to life, and I am truly grateful for each of them.

This Christmas, I’m grateful that I have such a wonderful, loving husband.  He is the one person on Earth who can seem to make me feel better, when I’m feeling absolutely my worst.  I’m grateful to have such a great family.  A family that is healthy; a family that I’ll get to be with on Christmas.  I’m grateful for wonderful friends, colleagues, and an advisor…all who listen to me moan, and give me feedback.

Overall, my life is really blessed.  A B- in Statistics, while frustrating, is not worth my tears.  Instead of being sad about what I don’t have, I’m going to choose to be happy with all that God has bestowed upon me.

You may not always get what you want in life; but it will always work out in the end.

Categories: Daily Life, Education, Faith, Family | Leave a comment

Oh How I Love Her…

Gotta love the USPS!

After the craziness of last week, I got to come home to a pleasant surprise: my grandma had sent me a card!  Now, it’s not unusual for grandkids to receive cards from their grandparents, nor is it usually terribly exciting.  But, my grandma is different.  The most random, off-the-wall things usually come from Lolo.  And I almost always love them.

Lolo (I’ve never called her my grandma Lois) has been special from the beginning to me.  She was in her mid-forties when I was born.  Since she was so young, she didn’t want to be called grandma.  She was Mama Lolo.  We spent Sundays at her house for dinner, and all of my earliest memories of Christmas Eve include her Naperville townhouse.  She took us out on outings, and was usually responsible for our trips to Chicago to see the Nutcracker, and the Marshall Field’s windows.  But most importantly, after my parents were divorced, we spent many days and nights at Lolo’s while my mom worked, or got some kid-free time.  Lolo was someone I could connect with during those awkward tween years when my mom was “annoying” and a “pain in the butt.”

After Lolo moved to Arizona, I started receiving random gifts in the mail.  For a while, I had a pair of socks for nearly every holiday.  As I’ve gotten older, the gifts have started to become more refined.  But even so, you never know what you’re going to get.  While it’s always something small, it’s a cute reminder that Lolo is thinking of us wherever she goes.

She may, or may not be groping a guy in Bora Bora...

She always calls on a holiday, is one of the first to call me on my birthday, and will randomly call me just to check in.  I’ve been truly blessed to have someone so wonderful in my life!  Also, she has a zest for life and travel that I seem to find a lot in myself.  I’m pretty sure we’re kindred spirits in that way.  On this Thanksgiving, I’m really grateful for my crazy family; especially my Mama Lolo.

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The Math Meltdown

For those of you who follow my blog (or who are somewhat close to me IRL) have probably seen this coming: the beginning of a complete mental breakdown due to Statistics.

Essays in Statistics? REALLY?

Okay, so I’m being a little dramatic about the mental breakdown part.  But, this class has made my first semester hell, fo’ real, yo.

I’ve never had a class where I was afraid I wasn’t going to pass.  Usually I’d struggle a bit, and be worried that I wouldn’t be getting an A or a B, but in graduate school, not getting an A is considered risky, and not getting a B is considered a failure.  And on this, I am not joking at all.

I’m getting a C in Statistics.  A LOW C.  It makes me physically ill to admit this in public.  But, this blog is about the learning process that is graduate school, so here is my struggle, out in the open.  After talking with the professor a couple of weeks ago, it became clear to me that it was very possible I might not pass.  I’ve done pretty much everything possible to improve my grade: I’ve gone to study sessions with the T.A., I sit in the professor’s office prior to every class to go over the concepts with her, I study with other people, I reread my notes after class, I make study guides.  And the worst part?  I actually understand the material.  Her tests are just so ridiculously hard, it’s not even funny.  If you want to get tested on the most convoluted, nuanced topics in stats, this course is for you.

She’s deliberately designed the tests this way so that the class average is a C (at least that’s what she’s told me).  She also told me that if I “need” a B to pass, that my department is misleading me, and that I need to go talk to the dean.  Yeah, that’s just what I want to do.

I’ve talked to my advisor, and she is under the same impression that I am: I need a B to pass.  At this point, we’re not sure how to handle it.  As of this moment, we’re taking it as it comes.  A lot of it may hinge upon the test I took Friday.  If I get it back tomorrow, and it’s not good, I may be dropping the course.  Apparently it’s better to drop a class than it is to “fail” it.

Overall, I’m just really disheartened by the whole situation.  It’s incredibly frustrating to be in a situation where your best just isn’t enough.  🙁  I’m just not sure what to do about it anymore.  Such a big part of me wants to just give up even trying.  What’s the point, if you know you’re probably going to fail?

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