Four Oils for Every First Aid Kit

While the temperatures are heating up and you’re spending more time outside, having a first aid kit with essential oils is important. It’s easy to create and carry with you on all your travels whether its in your backpack, under the car seat, or in your tent.

Here’s a list of useful essential oils for your natural first aid kit:

lavender

Lavender: Lavender essential oil is a rather universal oil and is also one of the most well known and used essential oils in the US. This oil is wonderfully soothing for accidental burns and sunburn. It’s anti-inflammatory properties can also be used to treat bug bites, bee stings, bruises, and sore/tense muscles. Mix a small amount with a carrier oil and apply to affected area. When you’re having difficulty sleeping, place two drops in the palm of your hand, rub them together and swish over your pillow to ease you into a restful sleep.

Peppermint: This essential oil is great for treating nausea and tummy upset, and fevers, It is great for headaches (apply a sparing amount to your temples, forehead, and the back of your neck) or any muscle aches or pains. Peppermint is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory. For upset tummies and nausea, place one drop of essential oil in a cup of herbal tea.

Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca): Another must have for any first aid kit, Melaleuca oil is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal. This is a great antiseptic to be used on minor cuts and scrapes, it kills germs and helps prevent infections.

Helichrysum: Helichrysum oil is excellent on those days when you’ve spent a little too much time in the sun. Whether you laid out by the pool for a little too long, or your afternoon hike was sunnier than you expected,

Helichrysum essential oil can be used as a skin soother to calm irritated skin.

Deep Blue Rub: Deep Blue Rub is a rich, topical cream infused with the Deep Blue Soothing Blend of CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils. Deep Blue Rub provides a comforting sensation of cooling and warmth to problem areas. Rub onto sore, tired muscles to ease them into wellness.

Wherever you venture, make sure you have a stocked and useful first aid kit.

Happy travels,

Christine

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Airlines and Essential Oils

For those of us who may only travel once or twice a year by way of the airlines, it may be difficult or a bit of a pain to relearn the carry-on/checked baggage rules of the the TSA. This only gets more complicated when you love your essential oils and can’t decide which to bring, how many, or how to pack them.

Here’s the rule of thumb: Liquids (as well as gels and aerosols) are generally permitted in carry-on bags in amounts of 3.4 oz or less per container, stored in a 1qt ziplock bag, with one of these bags per passenger. This bag should be easily accessible in the carry on, as TSA officers will require that it be placed in a bin during the security screening. Any other liquids in quantities of more than 3.4 oz should be placed securely in the checked baggage. Here’s a great graphic by the TSA that makes the decision a little more simple.

Also, here’s a great TSA link to check out. It has an A to Z list of all of the possible items one might bring onto a airplane and the guidelines for packing them… or for that matter, not bringing them at all because they are not permitted.

So, now that I’m sure I can bring my oils, the big question is: Christine, do you really need every oil you own? Well, if you mean NEED, then no. But truth be told, I really WANT to bring all of them. Here is what I decided to pack:

Lavender (no doubt): this is such a versatile oil that it has to be packed. Good for burns (including sunburn), inflammation, relaxation, sleep.

Peppermint: Peppermint is a cooling oil and can be added to FCO and applied to skin to induce cooling, food for fevers, headache, motion sickness, tummy upset (add a drop to herbal tea)

Melaleuca: melaleuca is a powerful antiseptic… good for cleaning scrapes and scratches. It can also be used in disinfectant sprays. Its excellent acne, add to your shampoo to improve the condition of your scalp. It also has anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

OnGuard: This is a wonderful protective blend that can boost your immunity. This is something I have always felt like I needed before and during travel.

Roll ons: Because I don’t use chemical perfumes, I’d be lost without my rollerballs. My favorites are Motvation, Cheer, Neroli, and Jasmine.

Traveling is a lot of fun and you can bring your oils with you. Be safe.

Christine

Please note that I’m a teacher not a doctor and as such, this information is not intended to replace sound medical advice.  Please see a physician should you have medical concerns.

Would you like more information about how essential oils can help make your travels more comfortable?

Middle Grade Fantasy

For many around the country, schools are coming to a close, teachers are packing up their classrooms, and custodial and maintenance staff are prepping for a long hot summer. In my area, schools are in session until about mid to late June. That means for my school, it’s our Fantasy Unit time. The current 5th graders that I teach love this unit, including the few students who have never read fantasy. Personally, I’m a sucker for a good intermediate or young adult fantasy novel.

This year the students are in book clubs, currently reading Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clements; Inkheart by Caroline Funke; Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine; The Girl Who Could Fly, by Victoria Forester; and more. These are all great books illustrating that there are many types of fantasy stories available for the intermediate reader. For example Inkheart is a more complex fantasy with multiple settings, story lines and numerous characters. It’s a lengthy novel, with over 500 pages and each chapter is also quite long. This is the kind of novel for a reader who can derive meaning from a complex plot filled with unique characters and who has the reading stamina to face the bulky chapters. On the other hand, Andrew Clements’ novel, Things not Seen is a good choice for someone new to fantasy reading. Generally, speaking there is a smaller number of characters and the plot is rather straight forward. In addition the elements of fantasy included in the novel are easy to keep track of.

I think I love fantasy stories so much because anything can happen in them… that is where magic lives. Below is a list of some of my favorite titles for upper elementary/middle students. I’ve categorized them as such not because of their readability, but more because of their content.

Elementary/Middle School Fantasy Recommendations:

🧚‍♀️The Percy Jackson series: This is fantasy/mythological. A great series for any student who loves fantasy and is particularly interested in mythology.

🧚‍♀️The Harry Potter series: My favorite and classic fantasy with magic, witches, and wizards. The series is seven novels long and requires readers to hold meaning across all seven books, as elements from the last book link back to the first in the series. This leads to a lot of “aha” moments.

🧚‍♀️ The Ember series, by Jeanne DePrau: Some say fantasy, some say Sci-fi, either way this is a great entry level fantasy for those who want to get their feet wet.

🧚‍♀️ Fablehaven series by Brandon: Play while at 1st glance the fable haven series may appear to be a book for older readers in terms of fantasy fable haven is also a good introduction to the genre. Some may call this a low fantasy novel because it takes place within a magical world inside of our own the characters are generally young young people along with the fantasy characters. Again, I think fablehaven is a good place to start for someone who wants to learn more about the genre and enjoy it without having to keep track of so many characters so many magical elements and complexity of plot structure.

🧚‍♀️ Redwall series, by Jacques The red wall series, on the other hand, can be described in the opposit way that I described fable haven. Red wall could be called high fantasy. It’s the epitome a fantasy in that there are talking animals magic excitement and the story takes place in another world in a magical place. The Redwall books are epic, complex, highly descriptive, and a real treat for the experienced fantasy reader.

🧚‍♀️The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien: in my opinion most of the time books should remain books and movies should be made from screen plays strictly written for the movies. That is the case with The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien is an amazing writer who creates vivid fantasy worlds and writes them so that you feel like you’ve lived there all your life. His stories have action, adventure, and fantasy rolled into one. For the experienced fantasy reader The Lord of the Rings will deliver.

Other titles you might want to explore include:

Tuck everlasting, Aragon, the girl who drank the moon, the alchymist, the graveyard book Mrs. Peregrine’s home for peculiar children, the series of unfortunate events And the Warrior series.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of fantasy novels for upper elementary and middle school readers, it is definitely a good place to start. Keep in mind, many of these books can be read as read-alouds with younger readers who aren’t quite ready to read them independently.

Happy reading to you and your students.

Small Steps Toward Psoriasis Relief

Having recently been told that I have a form a Psoriasis to go along with other things I have, I recently began exploring how I might use natural healing to correct or cope or lessen the outbreaks. I tend to be someone who hangs out in the psychological and neurological areas of health malfunction, so it’s taken some research to learn about this new area. As I am not a doctor and this is natural wellness blog based on my personal experience I will discuss this from my point of view and encourage you, too, to research. I’ll post my sources at the bottom as a place you might want to start.

What is Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common chronic skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes cells to build up quickly on the skin’s, forming scales and red patches. It’s itchy, red and sometimes painful.

There are several types of Psoriasis and mine has been called an autoimmune disease, but the specialist you see is based on the type you have. For example mine largely manifests itself through the skin, so I am seeing a dermatologist.

What Causes Psoriasis

My doctor simply stated that my body is attacking my skin. My research tells me that she isn’t far from accurate. While the cause isn’t fully understood it’s related to an immune system problem. According to the Mayo Clinic, “T cells normally travel through the body to defend against foreign substances, such as viruses or bacteria, but if you have psoriasis, the T cells attack healthy skin cells by mistake, as if to heal a wound or to fight an infection.”

Overactive T cells also trigger increased production of healthy skin cells, more T cells and other white blood cells, especially neutrophils. These travel into the skin causing redness and sometimes pus in pustular lesions. Dilated blood vessels in psoriasis-affected areas create warmth and redness in the skin lesions.”

Why? What Triggers This?

Well, there’s a boatload of possible triggers, mainly because doctors aren’t completely sure of the triggers. One thing they can say is that genetics plays a role. Although, the community does feel that there are triggers that that start a flare up or make one worse:

  • Stress: This is huge for me, as the outbreak occurred after the death of my husband in January 2017
  • Obesity
  • Infections
  • Injury to the skin
  • Smoking and Heavy Alcohol Consumption
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Certain Medications

Treatment
While my doctor was able to answer my question about what was going on with me and prescribe topical cream medication and an antihistamine-type drug, I’m not ready to go with these medications just yet.

I decided to try some wellness strategies and essential oils. I started by seeing what I could do to effectively moisturize and (hopefully) not need the topical cream medication. Plus I had also read that it’s important to keep my skin super moisturized and be sure to bathe daily to remove the excess skin cells. Thinking along this line I pulled out my books and recipes and created a moisturizing lotion for the most affected areas. Keep in mind the following: I like to take small steps, I am not suffering from a form of psoriasis that covers large portions of my body, and as far as I know, I do not have any complications as a result.

Here’s my Small Steps Natural Healing Lotion:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons Emulsifying wax (You can add more if you want it thicker next time)
1/2 teaspoon Stearic Acid (this is a stabilizer derived from plant oils)
1/3 cup sweet almond oil
1/2 cup distilled Water
10 drops lemon essential oil (preservative)
2 tablespoons Vegetable Glycerin
15 to 25 drops Essential Oils (I used 10 drops Lavender, 8 drops Geranium, 3 Rosemary, 3 Helichrysum) All of these oils are healing, anti-inflammatory and soothing, as well as super good and nourishing for the skin.

Directions

Stir together the oil, emulsifying wax, stearic acid and glycerin in the top part of a double boiler. Warm this slowly over a low heat until the wax is melted. This may take some time. That’s ok. Take the time.

While you’re waiting, warm the water just until lukewarm.

After the contents of the double boiler have melted, slowly pour the water into the oil, stirring briskly with a whisk until the mixture is a uniform color. As you can see, mine was both the color and consistency of milk.

Stir in your choices of essential oils. Pour into a 4oz glass pumpable bottle (note here: you should replace the straw of the pump if you can not clean it between batches to avoid bacterial build up.) Allow it to cool before putting the lid on.

And here’s a trick I learned: The oil and water components of the lotion will separate as it cools. Shake the bottle every 10 to 20 minutes to re-mix them. Once the lotion has cooled completely, they’ll stay mixed.

Store in a cool, dark place.

**As a side note: I now use this lotion on my tattoos straight from day one. I have to say, it’s highly moisturizing and the essential oils I selected are also wonderfully soothing and healing for tattoo aftercare.

Next Steps

Aside from this first small step, I also want to evaluate my diet and slowly transition to anti-inflammatory foods. Also, I plan to be more mindful about the emotional wellness that essential oils can offer me, with goal of relieving stress and becoming more grounded.

If you’ve tried my lotion or want to share your story, please definitely comment.

If you’re interested in exploring essential oils to support your wellness, fill out this form and I’ll personally get in touch with you.

Sources:

https://www.easy-aromatherapy-recipes.com

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840

https://draxe.com/psoriasis-diet-5-natural-cures/

https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis

Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

It’s getting to be that time a year when parent teacher conferences come around. Sometimes they’re quite easy and sometimes they are more difficult. Perhaps students have been struggling, or maybe parents or students are nervous about the transition into the next grade, or perhaps there’s been some friction. In any case, here are some tips that you can use for any parent teacher conference.

Be. Prepared. It’s a simple idea, but it should never be skipped. As teachers, we plan and prepare for almost everything we do. For me, being prepared means that I have all the student work, assessments, etc. that I want show the parents. I have notes for each student so I don’t miss anything that I want tell parents. I have pen and paper for parents in case they want to take some notes of their own. After teaching for 20 years I still rehearse, lol . even just quickly, each of my conferences in my head: where I’m going to greet them, where each parent is going to sit, and how I’m going to start the conversation. Finally, before the first conference, I start my diffuser and diffuse something that fits the mood. This year I think I’m going to use something uplifing like wild orange.

Anticipate Questions. Just like during a well-planned lesson we always try to anticipate the questions that students are going ask, try to anticipate the questions that parents are going to ask and then have my answers ready. In my case, parents ask about the transition to middle school, what can the student work on over the summer, and they ask if I think their student should have a summer tutor.

Stay on Time. In my district we only have 15 minutes for each conference and I’ve learned that it is very difficult to have a parent-teacher conference in 15 minutes. I developed the habit of having a timer to help us stay on time and posting my schedule outside the door. At first, I felt like the timer seemed rude, but I set it for two minutes before the end of each conference. When it goes off, I let the parents know that I’m more than happy to meet again at another time. Parents appreciate the respect that you have for their schedules as well, especially when they have back-to-conferences for several children.

Keep the Meeting Positive. I have always believed that I am not in this alone. Parents want to know that you are interested in what is best for their child, even when your methods don’t match with theirs. Keep your tone and choice of words positive and growth oriented. Ask the parents for their input…They are the experts on their children even if you are the expert on education.

Report What You Can Support. I have always been a big believer in supporting what I say to parents. I veer away from personal judgements and communicate with them about observations, performance, work samples, grades, etc, without drawing all encompassing conclusions. I try to name the behavior rather than labeling the student. For example, if a student stops doing homework, I will let the parents know just that fact rather than adding to with general judgements like ‘he’s going to struggle next year’.

Avoid Teacher Talk. I sometimes forget that just because I’m speaking with an adult (thank goodness) they don’t necessarily understand all of the jargon we use. During parent teacher conferences, use layman’s terms to explain what’s going on with their child.

Listen. Finally, this isn’t all about what you have to say. Be a good listener. Ask the parents questions that will help you improve how you teach their child.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s been helpful for me over the years. I hope it is also helpful for you. If you have additional thoughts, please send them to me in the comments. Good luck during end of year conferences, teacher friends.

Big Hugs.

A Great Need

“I love it when a plan comes together!” The words were echoed by George Peppard every time the old TV show, The A-Team, came to its predictable end.

As a teacher, I too love it when a plan comes together. I particularly love when the plan includes allowing an outlet for children to explore all of their talents.

This morning I was walking down my hallway and stopped to notice the art show that volunteers were putting up on the walls. I had already been witness to several of these projects in mid-completion, but now was my chance to see the finished products.

The Art Teacher, Mrs. Tolentino, selects an assortment of projects to display for each class, in each grade level. I was captivated not only by the display itself, but by the skill and beauty that each student displayed.

The students used weaving skills to weave colorful yarn around a compact disk. This became the center of these beautiful flowers, which were drawn with PrismaColors on black paper. Stunning!

This is what children need! This is the ability to express all of their other talents. Classes like this and music and drama are so quickly the first to be cut when budgets are tight. There is more to a child than math, science, and language arts achievement. These classes allow all students to feel successful and shine.

With loads of Hugs,

Christine

Practicing Acceptance

I’d like to tell you a story about my dad. You see, he passed away 13 years ago this month. In my eyes he was a great man. A skyscraper in a village of cottages. I always said he walked on water. But I’m reminded of him this month not because it happens to be an anniversary of his death, but rather because I went to Dunkin Donuts this weekend and ordered an iced tea. You always get a straw with iced teas. Oddly enough, it was the straw that reminded me of him .

My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer that I was sure with all of my heart and soul we were going to beat. Of course, he was the type of man that never wanted to burden anyone with his issues (and this IS a difficult thing to digest), so he never did say the C word, but we all knew that’s what it was. The normal protocol ensued and he went through rounds of chemotherapy and then surgery and then more chemotherapy. Shortly into his chemo regiment, he began to study the effects it was having on his body. The one description that still sticks with me is the way his mouth felt. His throat hurt and there were sores in his mouth and he always had a metallic taste in his mouth.

As a result, he began to develop an affinity for two things: spearmint Life Savers and the straws from Dunkin Donuts. Well, the Spearmint Life Savers helped to alleviate the metallic taste in his mouth and overshadowed anything that he tried to eat

straws-tube-plastic-colorful-65612.jpeg

he always said that it tasted like he was eating coins and nails. Consequently, today I somewhat get that between the throwing up in the taste in one’s mouth why somebody undergoing chemotherapy would never want to eat. My dad developed a strategy for getting something into his body and that something happened to be milk shakes and the strategy was using straws. Not everybody had the right straws, though. Two magic

al places did: Dunkin Donuts and Burger King. Next time you go to one of those two places, notice that the straws are rounder than most; not thicker, but rounder. The diamet

er across the straw allows for more of the yummy goodness to get into your mouth and down your throat. of course, as I said, my dad’s choice of what went into his mouth and down his throat was always a milk shake, preferably chocolate. They were cold, ice cream was his favorite, and they soothed his throat and mouth.

Yes, it was sweet moments like this that assuaged the anger that I felt toward cancer, toward my life circumstances at the time and toward God. At the time, I couldn’t figure out why this great Man had eventually become riddled with cancer and passed away.

I wish I could say that I handled this with grace and poise. But I can definitely tell you that I handled it with love until the moment of his death. It was after his death that I fell into a depression fueled by my anger, my, and my feelings of betrayal. None of my questions were being answered: Who is going to teach my children the same things that I had learned from my dad? Who was going to teach them patience? Heck, who was going to teach them how to use power tools and encourage them in anything they did?

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So why do I write this on a health and wellness blog? Well (1) I feel like talking about my dad because he was such a great man, and (2) I came to realize that by accepting life as it was, I gained a sense of peace. I learned that just by living I would be teaching my children my dad’s patience because he taught me. I would be teaching my children all of the things that my dad taught me: life lessons, phrases, family stories, fishing. I learned that instead of fighting what life has given me, I could accept it and work with it and learn from it. I learned that acceptance doesn’t mean I don’t care. Instead acceptance means I do care about you and about me; and by accepting the circumstances, I can identify if changes can even be made. By practicing acceptance, I’m not giving up the fight I am only first accepting what is and seeing things more clearly.

I apply this in my daily life with my family and work and in other relationships. It doesn’t happen naturally. It is something that needs to be worked but the longer I do it the easier it gets and the less stress I feel about situations that I cannot control.

Hugs,

Christine