Author: The Mom

Why You Should Read Your Insurance Policy

Why You Should Read Your Insurance Policy

The insurance company answers to its investors – and the secret most of the companies don’t admit is that you are not the investor. The goal will be to get you to settle at the lowest possible expense to the insurance company.

As long as they aren’t acting in bad faith, then they are justified in their actions.

That doesn’t mean you are going to be happy with where they want to settle.

Knowing what’s in your policy will help you get to a place where you are happy. Don’t expect the insurance adjuster to know what is right for you. Learn for yourself.

A friend recently shared that he’d had his heating and cooling unit go out. He and his wife had been getting by because the cost was so much. When he shared with another friend, that friend knew that the insurance company had added the central units to some policies. When he looked at his policy, he saw that he was covered.

Had he known his policy, he would have saved him and his wife a few months of discomfort.

You don’t know what you don’t know, and you can’t work with getting what you deserve if you don’t know what that is.

Know More by Knowing Your Insurance Policy

  • Read your insurance policy. It’s a good idea to read through your policy every year – especially if you make any upgrades or do any remodeling during the year. You have to be sure the coverage you have is enough, and you also want to be sure you not over-covered.
  • Keep your policy in an easy to access location – in this day and age, it might be a good idea to keep it on your phone. When something happens, you need to be able to access the details of how you are covered.
  • Learn the lingo. Like most industries, insurance has phrases that mean something unique to the industry. Having a basic understanding of replacement cost, cash value, and other terms in your policy.
  • Take time to understand the different sections of your coverage. Your policy will have limits for each one of the sections – for instance, your auto insurance may cover medical, car rental, repairs, and even passengers’ personal property.

The more you know about your insurance, the better prepared you will be to handle trouble when it shows up.

It took us two hours to hike out from the house to safety after the tornado hit on Easter night. Once we were safe, I made a call to the insurance company to start the claims process. As soon as the local office opened, I went to get a cash advance to help us get a room and some necessities.

I had taken the time to know what we had available because of past storms. Because I knew what I knew, we were able to immediately get a place to stay and start the process of finding a rental car. Not only did I need to know about the home owner’s insurance, but also three vehicles. Every little I knew made it a little easier to get things moving.

There is still a lot to learn, and with each learning opportunity, we are a little bit closer to getting things settled.

What tips do you have for dealing with insurance?

The Mom

Promised Lang New Adventures into RV Life

Promised Lang New Adventures into RV Life

The show “Promised Land” inspired me. It would be so cool to pack up the kids and live out of a travel trailer.

My husband laughed at the idea – out loud . . . right in my face.

Still, I persisted. If you’ve met me you know persistence tends to show up when I’ve determined something needs to get done.

My husband will tell you I’m stubborn . . . and obstinate (or maybe he read that in my baby book – apparently, I’ve had years of practice).

In the show, the father loses his job so he packs up his wife, son, daughter, mother, and nephew into an Airstream travel trailer and they are off on adventure. It turns out you have to really like your family to be packed in together in that way.

But, the thought lingered in the back of my imagination daring me to let it out.

On Easter evening, 2020, my husband, my son, my dad, and I were all sitting together flipping between Huntsville weather and Birmingham weather – not because they weren’t covering the weather well but because we live in a kind of no-mans-land of radar so we have to watch both to understand what’s going on.

A small spot appeared on the radar – what the weather reporter suspected might be a debris field. We took cover in the hall just before the whole world exploded.

Now, we are living the hotel life as we prepare to make the adjustment to our own “Promised Lang” experience – although I guess this will be the Promised Lang Experience. The fourteen trees that fell on the car, around the house, on the house, and yes, IN the house which means we will be out of pocket for at least 8 months (and at the reate things are currently going it might be longer).

My husband isn’t laughing now.

It may turn out that hotel living provides the perfect practice run for the travel trailer living. We are all in one space . . . almost all day. We are learning to sleep through the late night watching habits and the before dawn reading habits – I’ll let you guess who is who. Soon, the only way apart will be to wander outside, but maybe that’s a good thing as well.

Hope you’ll join us as we take this next step in the TraveLangs adventuring.

Since most of us have been living in close quarters the last few weeks, share your favorite tip for getting along or getting by in the comments below.

The Mom  

Facing Homeschool Fears While Schooling from Home

Facing Homeschool Fears While Schooling from Home

Homeschool fears are not new to me. We homeschooled for 17 years – starting when my oldest was only around 4 or 5 and ending when my middle son graduated from high school.

Each year, after reaching middle school age, we sat down to talk about the next year. We went over what they wanted to do and whether or not they were interested in traditional school. The older two never were. The youngest was all about it!

So, after 17 years of homeschool activities, I was free.

NOT!

Traditional education has just as many hoops to jump through – can we say CAR LINE! And don’t even get me started with all of the fundraisers.

Calming homeschool fears with some creative breaks

But as of Monday, we were back to homeschooling with the added bonus of having my husband at home with us.

Controlling Homeschool Fears

Despite how it might seem, this really isn’t homeschooling. It is schooling from home, but the two are vastly different. When we homeschooled, we were always doing something with another group at least once a week – field trips, play days, co-ops.

My son logs into the school’s online classroom and does his work I only have the privilege of looking over what he’s doing when he beckons me from the other room.

But these moments of schooling at home are rekindling the old homeschool fears (not that they ever truly go away). I am remembering the constant struggles we encountered while we homeschooled – not in educating our sons or even in keeping them socially engaged. Nope, the struggle was in the “what if we mess up” syndrome that every naysayer, well-meaning relative, or “education guru” causes because of words they issue forth.

My oldest son has received his Associates Degree and is pursuing his Bachelor’s (with his brother on a similar path), they both received their Eagle ranks, and they work. But despite all of this, I still get tangled in the “what if we mess up” syndrome and stumble over those homeschool fears

I tell you this because some of you will be worried that you are going to mess up over these next few weeks.

You will. You can rest easy now.

Despite the fact that you will mess up, it will not be the end of everything. Love your kids. Invest in engagement. Find ways to grow.

It is that simple to homeschool, and it is even more simple to school from home.

What are your biggest struggles with schooling from home or homeschooling? Be sure to share in the comments!

The Mom

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Pantry Cooking Challenge

Skillet Chicken Enchiladas

1 can enchilada sauce

1 cup cooked chicken

10 uncooked corn tortillas (sliced thin like noodles).

1 cup shredded cheese

Turn the eye on the stove on high. Place the skillet on the hot eye and add the chicken to the skillet. When it begins to warm, add the can of sauce. Use a half a can of water to get swish out all the remainder of sauce in the can and pour that in the skillet as well.

Sprinkle the tortillas on top of the chicken. Use a spoon or spatula to press down the tortilla “noodles” into the sauce. Cover and simmer on low.

It will take about 10 minutes for the tortillas to cook. Once they are cooked (softened) cover in shredded cheese, cover the skillet, and set off the heat to allow the cheese to melt.

What’s in your pantry?

Immune Boosting Noodle Soup and Biscuit Quick Mix

Immune Boosting Noodle Soup and Biscuit Quick Mix

All the talk of the CoronaVirus had me focused on immune systems. I started the morning boiling water and adding eucalyptus essential oil, doubled the Vitamin C intake, and encouraged sun time for the son.

For dinner, I doubled down on the immune system focus. Although not actual pantry cooking, it did make use of leftovers.

I started with a large pot and melted half of a stick of butter in it. While the butter was melting, I added about a tablespoon of Kosher salt. Once it was melted, I added a cup of sliced carrots from the freezer.

I let those simmer for a few minutes while I thought about what else to add. I chopped up half of an onion and added those. I added a cup of sliced mushrooms because I like mushrooms. Next to go in the pot was the Chilian Salsa my son had made for a project at school (it had more dices onions, fresh diced tomatoes, cilantro, and some smoked, chopped jalapenos). There was also a half of a can of diced tomatoes in the refrigerator, so I threw those in for good measure.

I let those simmer for a few minutes.

When the onions were almost translucent, I added a ¼ cup of instant chicken bullion and let that mesh with the veggies. I knew I wanted to make use of some of the leftover sliced chicken in the freezer – mainly because I have plenty of uncooked chicken that will be utilized in the days ahead. The chicken went in until it had thawed out and then I added 12 cups of water.

Once all of that was mixed and simmering, I asked my son what he wanted to go with it. My plan had been cornbread, but he wanted biscuits. This meant making up a batch of biscuit quick mix, but having a batch already done just meant I had one less prep thing that would be necessary for the days ahead.

While the drop biscuits were cooking (I don’t even bother to roll them out anymore), I added some large dumpling egg noodles to the soup.

The soup was a HUGE hit and I loved how all of the flavors mingled. Plus, you couldn’t eat around all of the veggies – my son tried. He told me. I wish I had added a cup of broccoli or green beans. The dash of green color would have brightened up the dish.

How are you mastering the Pantry Cooking Challenge?

Share your links or recipes in the comments below.

The Mom

Immune Boosting Noodle Soup

½ stick of butter

1 tbsp salt

1 cup each of veggies (use what you have handy)

1 tbsp diced garlic

¼ cup instant chicken bullion

1 cup chopped or shredded cooked chicken

2 cups uncooked noodles

8 to 12 cups water

Start by melting the butter in your pot over high heat. While the butter is melting, add the salt. Begin adding veggies with the heaviest starchier veggies going in first. Add the diced garlic last. While the veggies are simmering, add in the chicken bullion.

Let the veggies simmer for several minutes.

Add the chicken and then the water. Leave the soup to simmer on low until you are almost ready to eat. 10 minutes before serving, add in the noodles.

Biscuit Quick Mix

Biscuit Quick Mix
Print Recipe
Servings
4 batches
Servings
4 batches
Biscuit Quick Mix
Print Recipe
Servings
4 batches
Servings
4 batches
Ingredients
Servings: batches
Instructions
  1. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly (I use my food processor). Add the softened butter until it is evenly distributed throughout all the dry ingredients. Store the mixture in the refrigerator.

Quick Fix Drop Biscuits

2 cups quick mix

1 cup buttermilk

Mix together until you have a firm mixture. Drop on a Silpat mat or lined cookie sheet one spoonful at a time.

Cook at 350º until the top of the biscuits are a golden brown (about 20 minutes).

Biscuit Quick Mix

Biscuit Quick Mix

Biscuit Quick Mix

Print Recipe

Servings
4 batches

Servings
4 batches

Biscuit Quick Mix

Print Recipe

Servings
4 batches

Servings
4 batches

Ingredients

Servings: batches

Instructions
  1. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly (I use my food processor). Add the softened butter until it is evenly distributed throughout all the dry ingredients. Store the mixture in the refrigerator.

Immune Boosting Noodle Soup

Immune Boosting Noodle Soup


Immune Boosting Noodle Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 cups 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 cups 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Immune Boosting Noodle Soup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 cups 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
8 cups 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Start by melting the butter in your pot over high heat. While the butter is melting, add the salt. Begin adding veggies with the heaviest starchier veggies going in first. Add the diced garlic last. While the veggies are simmering, add in the chicken bullion.
  2. Let the veggies simmer for several minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and then the water. Leave the soup to simmer on low until you are almost ready to eat. 10 minutes before serving, add in the noodles.
Weaving Through the School at Home Maze

Weaving Through the School at Home Maze

How do you homeschool when you didn’t plan on schooling from home?

At the end of the day on Friday, the whole world seemed to flip upside down. Instead of worrying about carline, you now had to worry about getting school done, feeding the kids all day (because let’s not kid ourselves, it’s never just three meals a day), and still do all you need to do to keep the plates spinning.

That would have been bad enough, but the normal release during normal breaks are being discouraged. DON’T go to the bowling alley. DON’T go to the museums. DON’T have play days.

What do you do when everything you thought last week is suddenly different today?

Tips for School at Home

  • 1. Relax. If things are too crazy to get anything done then don’t try to get anything done. If they miss a day or two of schooling, so be it.
  • 2. Focus on things you can get done. Do what you can do or what absolutely must be done. Let the rest wait.
  • 3. Prioritize your list. Last week you may have planned to spring clean this week, but under the circumstances, you may need to rearrange the plan. What MUST be done needs to go to the top of the list?
  • 4. Think outside the box. Let learning come from a different angle. Feed the birds (and identify your visitors). Have the kids help out around the house or teach them to cook dinner. Make your life the classroom for the moment.
  • 5. Get outside. Sunlight is good for the heart, the mind, and the immune system. Try to get outside at least 30 minutes every day.
  • 6. Listen to your school directions. Some schools are moving classes online. Some aren’t. Follow the guidelines provided and you will be okay.
  • 7. Learn together. Take an online class together, try out a new hobby, or dare to tackle a new skill (it’s the perfect time to create a container garden).

Ultimately, the key is to not get caught up in the chaos no matter how much the chaos is determined to disrupt your life. Do what you can do. Accept that you can’t do it all. And above all else, find a way to enjoy the journey.

It doesn’t have to be all fun and games, but it should be all smiles and adventures.

How are you finding your way through the schooling at home maze? I would love for you to share your tips and ideas in the comments below.

The Mom

For the record, we homeschooled for 17 years before the two oldest graduated and went to college and the youngest decided to go to traditional school. I have been involved in just about every form of homeschooling imaginable. But despite being home school veterans, I was caught off guard. Don’t feel like you are alone if things are a little wonky.

Are you interested in getting daily tips on dealing with schooling from home? Like and follow the Facebook page and look for updates there or drop your questions on the site (or in the comments below).

Take the Pantry Cooking Challenge

Take the Pantry Cooking Challenge

Pantry cooking can help you make more of what you have – at least in the kitchen.

They are out of toilet paper at the grocery store . . . signaling the end.

Okay, not really.

The rush on toilet paper caused a shortage – albeit, temporary.

Still, it’s gotten plenty of folks doing the “what if” cha-cha. I did my own little “what if” dance on Friday during the big announcement. Living on 40 acres, in the woods, next to a creek definitely puts me ahead of the game if I never need to survive.

But for now, let’s do what we can where we are with what we have. Bethany Jett shared a video about pantry cooking – one of my all-time favorite games.  Basically, the goal is to see how long you can go cooking from your pantry instead of going to the store.

I’ll make a little confession here. We’ve been playing this game since the beginning of the year. It turns out that when you cook for a house full of boys for two decades and then half the household moves away, you can do a lot more with a lot less.

So my stocked pantry was really over-stocked. After two months of creative cooking, I was down to three cans of enchilada and lasagna noodles. My plan for that evening involved using the remaining ingredients to make a type of lasagna.

Fortunately for all involved, an unexpected baseball practice kept my plan on the back burner.

The next morning, I went to the store.

So let the games begin once again.

What’s in your pantry? Will you dare to join in on the pantry cooking fun?

What’s in your pantry?

How to Pantry Cook

  • Step One: Make a list of EVERYTHING you have in your pantry. Be sure to also make a note of how much you have of each item. Repeat the process for your freezer and then your refrigerator. These lists give you the foundation for your pantry cooking game plan.
  • Step Two: Outline a menu map for the next week. What can you make with what you have on your lists? If no menu ideas come to mind, do a quick search. You can use a website like SuperCook.com or myrecipes.com. You can also put your ingredients in the search bar of your browser along with the word recipe. Use the images or recipe titles to jump-start the creative juices.
  • Step Three: Dare to make it yourself. If you are missing an ingredient, see if you have what is necessary to make it from scratch. If you don’t have the puff pastry, make it yourself. If you don’t have the flour tortillas, make them yourself. Try something new. Be a little daring. Keep learning and growing along the way.
  • Step Four: Write down what you do as you go. This is where I often fail. I’m in too much of a hurry to keep a record of what I do so the next time around I can’t repeat a recipe that my family loved (and asked for). Keeping a record will help you remember what worked as well as what probably shouldn’t be tried again.
  • Step Five: Give yourself a little extra time. When something is new it takes a little more time than when you are doing something you do every day. Set aside extra time so you don’t feel rushed in your pantry cooking game.

Who wants to play? Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of my favorite pantry cooking experiences, tips, and fails and would love to have you join me.

Leave a comment below about your pantry cooking experiences and also let me know if you are going to be joining in. If you have a link to your pantry cooking launch be sure to share that as well.

Happy pantry cooking.

The Mom

Recipe: Quick Fix Nachos

Recipe: Quick Fix Nachos

Have a reservoir of quick-fix meal ideas helps take the stress out of mealtime – no matter who ends up with the job of fixing the meals.

# # #

“What are we having for dinner?”

That may be the only thing my son says to me all day, but you can be guaranteed that at some point – usually around 4:30 pm – that question will make an appearance.

It doesn’t matter that I have the door closed because I am working.

It doesn’t matter that he knows how to cook.

It doesn’t matter that he has to walk past his dad to come ask me.

I am Mom. Apparently, at some point in my life as Mom, I claimed the position of head chef.

Maybe I didn’t touch my nose fast enough.

Either way, I’m it.

I’m usually pretty good at planning meals out. I have a list posted of what they will be having at school and I set a weekly menu with that at mind.

That’s most of the time.

This week was not most of the time. I was still recovering from the yuck my son so kindly brought home from the youth conference the weekend before. I barely had an appetite and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be cooking for anyone else anyway.

My son walked into the room and I could see the words forming, so I beat him to it. “What’s for dinner,” I asked before he could.

He blinked.

I laughed.

He left the room.

I walked into the kitchen where my husband was standing. “What are you fixing for dinner?” I asked.

He blinked.

I laughed.

I felt a little better.

I did a quick inventory of what we had available. Most of the food would take a while to cook. I didn’t want to have to deal with awhile. I needed a quick fix idea.

I did have about a quarter of a block of Velvetta cheese, a half a jar of homemade salsa, some frozen browned ground beef, and tortilla chips.

I tossed together a nacho dish in under twenty minutes. Quick fix magic for the win.

Quick Fix Nachos Recipe:

  • ¼ block of Velvetta Cheese
  • 1 can black olives
  • ½ jar salsa
  • ¼ head of iceberg lettuce
  • 2 cups browned ground beef
  • Tortilla chips

Spray a plastic container with non-stick spray.

Cut Velvetta cheese into quarter-sized chunks and drop them in the plastic container.

Cover the cheese with the salsa.

Heat in the microwave in 45-sec increments, stirring between each bit, until the cheese is completely melted.

While you are melting the cheese, tear off a section of the iceberg lettuce and use a knife to chip into shredded bits.

Once the cheese and salsa are completely mixed, warm up the ground beef.

Now you are ready to build your nachos.

Layer nacho chips on a plate, one chip deep. Drizzle cheese salsa mix over the chips. Add a thin layer of ground beef and drizzle the ground beef layer with cheese salsa. Spread shredded lettuce on the top with black olive slices on top. Add one more layer of drizzled cheese salsa.

Enjoy!

TIP: Keep flour tortillas in the house if you have someone with braces. The corn chips can be too rough but the flour tortillas make for a perfect replacement.

Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy to be done. Use what you have, keep it simple, and make something fun the whole family can enjoy.

Book Review: The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Book Review: The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

I’m sharing a book review of The Sword of Shannara because I just finished my first book of the year. My goal this year had been to read 52 books. The first book on the agenda came from Terry Brooks – The Sword of Shannara.

I had watched the Chronicles of Shannara on Netflix (don’t be shocked that Netflix doesn’t stay true to the clean nature of the books – I don’t think the streaming service has it in it) and since they decided to cancel the show, I decided to go in search of more. I am fortunate that my father-in-law had taken a shine to the series when they were originally published. We have the full set.

I am now convinced it would be better to plan to read a certain number of pages in one year as opposed to a certain number of books. This epic adventure came out to 726 pages. There may have been a time when I could have read through it in a weekend, staying up until the sun came up, but those days are long gone.

It has be a little bit at a time for me these days.

Still, it was a very exciting story and clean. That was refreshing. Too often these days, there has to be sex and curse words before the story can be considered complete. This is my second ready from Terry Brooks and not a single issue has shown up.

Book Review for The Sword of Shannara

  • THE BOOK touches on a dystopian future where the men of our time destroyed the world and the world the evolves includes men of different statures. We would call them dwarves, gnomes, trolls, and elves – but the truth is they are all different ways man has evolved after the devastation of the world.
  • THE ELEMENTS include druids, magic, and otherworldly creatures. It could be categorized as a dystopian fantasy adventure – or that is what I would tell you if you asked. There are also epic battle scenes – lots and lots of battle scenes. If none of this is to your liking then you definitely don’t want to wade through the 726 pages. If you like adventure along the lines of Tolkien, then you might want to give it a read.
  • THE STORY caught my attention and kept my attention for the most part. There were times when the detail descriptions of scenery lost me and I was scan over the words – much like I would have scanned over the scenery. But all in all, it was a page-turner.
  • THE CHARACTERS were interesting, to begin with, and grew along the way. As is often the case in a grand adventure, not all make it to the end. Those that do make it grow and stretch and become more than one dimensional. My biggest struggle was trying to superimpose my images from the television show into the written characters.
  • THE PLOT made me wish I had read the first book and the second one closer together – although the first book was actually written after the second one to explain some of what happened in the second one – which is why you can read this one without having read any of the others.
  • WHAT I LIKED LEAST about the book was the bulkiness caused by the over described moments – many that could have been left out without harming the storyline.
  • WHAT I LIKED BEST about the book was the simple moral that crosses from the fiction into real life. We all need more books that leave you feeling hopeful and closing the cover with a justified smile.

I look forward to more adventures, and I dare to wager that at least one of the remaining 51 books I intend to read will be in this series. I want to know what happens next. You’ll see more book review posts as I make my way through the stack by my desk.

Now it’s your turn!

  • What would you like to see in the book review posts?
  • Do you have any books you believe must be read?
  • Do you have any reading goals for 2020?

I look forward to hearing your book reading and book review post suggestions.

The Mom

You can use my affiliate link to purchase your copy of The Sword of Shannara.