“When Did We All Grow Up?”

My husband turns twenty-five today. He’s a quarter of a century old, and I’m not far behind.

And yes, I said “husband.” On September 27, we finally tied the knot in a small, perfect ceremony back in my hometown. It’s a word that I’m still not used to, and the thought of being someone’s wife just feels strange to me. I’ll be twenty-five in June, I have a daughter who will be two in January, and I’m a married woman. When I think back to just five or ten years ago, I would have never imagined that I would end up here. I didn’t think I would be married yet, and I certainly didn’t think I would have a child at this point in my life. Everything I thought I wanted back then is nothing like how my life has turned out – which is okay, because I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love my family, I love my life.

Yet, sometimes it doesn’t feel “real” to me. It’s still hard for me to imagine being a mom, and I’ve been “mom” for nearly two years now. It seems like everyone around me is having a baby, getting married, or both, and it’s sort of made me realize just how far we have come from being the carefree teenagers we once were. My former classmates are constantly posting new announcements on social media and it makes my head spin.

I had a short conversation with a friend yesterday about all of these announcements and how everything is suddenly changing and she asked me, “When did we all grow up?” I’m wondering the same thing myself. It feels like just yesterday, I was sixteen years old and starting my first job. Time felt so slow back then, and I couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and go out on my own and be reckless and make mistakes. I assumed I would make the most of my late teens and early twenties: constantly making new friends, going to parties, hanging out at the bar until closing time, doing what I wanted, etc. I’d graduate college, get an awesome full-time job, and maybe by my mid-twenties, I’d find someone who was worth settling down with, and maybe by the time I was twenty-seven or twenty-eight, I’d be having my first child. Things happened sooner than that for me, and I can’t help but feel like the last six years since I graduated high school have gone by so quickly.

So, when did we all grow up? Was it when we all left high school and pursued other things? Was it when we all started moving out of our parents’ houses, getting places of our own, and paying our own bills? Was it when we all started getting full-time jobs, having babies, getting married – all of the above? Is there even an answer to that question?

Baby’s First Trip to the ER

I’ve always been a pretty clumsy person. I’ve run into, tripped over, and fallen on more things than I can count in my twenty-four years. In fact, my earliest memory is of the time that I broke my left foot. I was about two years old and I was pretending that I was in the Olympics. I stood on top of a box and jumped, intending to land on one foot, but I did not come out the victor; I hit the floor with one foot just fine, except for the fact that I broke it and had to be rushed to the hospital that night.

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Wasn’t I cute?

As a mom, I have always thought it would be really cool if my daughter took after me in some way, but this was not exactly what I meant.

Yesterday, we got home around 9pm from running an errand and R wanted to climb up the stairs on the outside of our apartment building and back down the single set of stairs inside that leads to the ground floor, where our apartment is located. She has done this a million times before. I stood off to the side, watching her slowly make her way down the steps backwards, as she usually does, and when she got to the last step, she stood and turned. When she did, her foot caught on something (I presume her other foot) and she fell forward, crashing down onto the ground.

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Not happy about her ankle, but otherwise, in pretty good spirits.

I panicked.

My poor baby was hysterical. I picked her up and held her for a minute, but that didn’t seem to do any good. I walked down the hall to our apartment, sat down on the living room floor with her, and attempted to calm her down, to no avail. She hadn’t calmed down a bit and I knew immediately that something was wrong. I began touching her foot gently, moving it around a bit, and she screamed at me. She broke her foot. I knew it, I just knew it.

I quickly stood up and packed us both back into the car and headed to the nearest emergency room. They took X-rays and I tried to keep her calm, which worked until she tried to stand on her foot again and realized how badly it hurt, then fell right back down. It was also way past her bedtime and being exhausted didn’t help matters whatsoever.

On the bright side, the X-ray showed no signs of any fractures, so they concluded that she severely sprained her ankle – a week and a half before our vacation, no less! That seems to be our luck. I’m glad she’s okay, though. That is not an experience I would like to relive anytime soon… or ever.

Cheeseburger Casserole

Last week was a little bit rough for me in a lot of ways, but I got a chance to do some fun stuff this weekend. R and I did some shopping yesterday morning and then we spent the evening with family and friends, and today, we slept in and lazed around for most of the day before a quick shopping trip this evening. She even took a nap on me, which she hasn’t done in ages, and I didn’t realize how much I missed all the time she spent sleeping on me when she was younger. After battling with her all last week, it was nice to see her chill out a bit this weekend. I’m sure that my being away from work and my computer (since I work from home) had a lot to do with how well-behaved and wonderful she was this weekend. I can’t tell you enough how great she was.

Oh, and did I mention that I got a new car? It’s much more family-friendly than my little Cavalier and we’re not stuck at home anymore, thank goodness!

Anyway, I’ve been kind of bad about cooking lately and we’ve been eating a lot of convenience food and frozen meals, but tonight, I wanted to make something different. A friend commented on my Facebook a few days ago about cheeseburger casserole and it’s stuck with me since. The traditional method seems to be putting some Bisquick in the bottom of a square dish, covering it with ground beef and onions, topping it with cheese, and baking until the Bisquick is cooked. It sounds easy, simple, and it’s probably pretty good, but admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Bisquick, so I wanted to try this another way. I came up with my own version of cheeseburger casserole and it was delicious. It was so simple and quick to make, I had to share it here.

You will need:cheeseburger casserole

  • 1 lb ground beef (my grocery store sells them in about 1.2-lb packages, that’s what I use)
  • 2 small onions, diced (you can adjust to your taste by using more or less)
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water
  • cheddar cheese
  • 1 regular-sized can of refrigerated biscuits, any kind
  • salt and pepper to taste

Over medium to medium-high heat, brown your ground beef. When it’s almost finished cooking, toss in the onions. Continue cooking the beef and onion mixture until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are tender, then drain off the fat. Return this mixture to the pan and add the tomato paste. (Here’s a tip: using a can opener, open up the top and bottom of the can of tomato paste, remove the metal lid from one of the ends, and squeeze the tomato paste into the pan using the other metal lid. You get almost all of the tomato paste out without having to scrape the sides of the can with a spatula or a spoon!) Cook the tomato paste for two to three minutes, then add a dash of Worcestershire sauce (I added about a half teaspoon or so) and the water. You won’t need much, so start with 1/4 cup and add a little more if it’s too thick for you, it just depends on your preference. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the water is mixed in, turn the heat off of the mixture and let it hang out for now. Pull your refrigerated biscuits out and check the package directions, then preheat the oven according to what it says on the can. Pop that thing open and cut each biscuit into four pieces. I used the homestyle variety of the Grands Jr. biscuits in the 12-oz can and it was the perfect amount for what I needed. Set your biscuit pieces aside for a moment and pull out an 8″ x 8″ baking dish. Spray the sides to ensure that the biscuits don’t stick, and then pour in your beef mixture. Top that with a generous amount of cheddar cheese (I didn’t measure this, I used about two handfuls) and top the cheese with the biscuits. Bake this for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the top is golden brown. They will not be cooked thoroughly yet! Cover it tightly with aluminum foil and put it back into the oven to bake for another 25 to 30 minutes to make sure that those biscuits are fully cooked when they come out.

After it has finished cooking, let it cool for at least five minutes before serving.

I was really impressed with how good this turned out and I will definitely be making it again. The hardest part is just making sure the biscuits are cooked. I pulled mine out after about 12 minutes and found that while the biscuits looked like they were fully cooked, as soon as I cut into it, the bottom of them were just mush. I baked them for another 25 minutes and they were perfect. This is definitely a winning recipe.