Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Preschool Steam Room

Our holidays were filled with family, food, and gifts. It was also filled with ear infections, mucus, asthma attacks, and two trips to the ER. Lillie and Dani were on so much medicine over the holidays, we had to keep a chart on our kitchen board so I wouldn't forget who was taking what.

In an effort to help clear sinuses without medicine and without running up the water bill, I finally followed through with an idea I'd been throwing around for a good year. I was going to put together a mini steam room (or sweat lodge as I ended up calling it).

I wasn't sure if the girls would be all right stuck in a dark, warm space, but they didn't want to come out!

So if your kiddos are stuffed up, I'm going to show you how to do it so you can help them breathe better.

You'll need:
A kettle or pot in which to boil the water. 
Lavender essential oil (if you'd like. I did not use any.)
A large heat resistant bowl or pot, one large blanket (I used a full/queen.) and a one throw blanket or big towel. 

A small tent. Ours is from Ikea, and it's perfectly sized for the girls.

A flashlight or lantern so they can see in the dark. Also, toys and/or books are helpful.

Now, for the instructions:
  • Put up the tent, and throw the large blanket over it. You want to make sure that you cover the entire tent. I definitely needed the blanket because this little tent has windows and a really horrible door. You may be using a tent without any openings that zips, but the blanket will keep all the steam inside better. Plus, your kids get to pretend they're in a cave!
  • Boil a full kettle of water.
  • Make a nest with your throw blanket and put the bowl in it. Leave enough blanket out so that you can cover the bowl.
  • Pour the boiling water into the bowl, add a drop or two of essential oil, and cover up the bowl.
  • Put the bowl in the tent and uncover it. Make sure all the sides stay covered by the blanket so no one gets burned!! 
  • Put your kids in the tent. Now, if you trust your kids not to touch the bowl, you can stay outside the tent. I sat on the couch and read while they hung out in the tent. But if you don't trust them, please get in the tent with your child! 
  • Give your kiddos the flashlight and toys and books. 
  • Lower the blanket and let them steam.

Notice that I left a little space at the bottom of the tent, but I ended up lowering the blanket to the floor because the girls wanted it to be completely dark while they "camped out." In the lower picture, you can see the blanket nest I made for the bowl of water. They did wonderfully and never touched it. They hung out in there for a good 30 minutes, and it stayed nice and warm and steamy. Both girls sinuses were cleared for the majority of the day. 

Lillie is an asthmatic, and I completely recommend this to help open up airways for easier breathing. You don't have to run the shower. You don't have to buy anything special (well, unless you don't have a tent already), and the kids still get to play!

If you do try it, please let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reading Challenge 2015

Since returning to work a few years ago, my reading has taken a big hit. Before the girls were born--and even when they were still tiny--I read two books a month at least. Now, I'm more likely to read one book every two months.

Last year, through Goodreads, I challenged myself to read 20 books. If I finish the book I'm currently reading (The Physics of Christmas by Roger Highfield), my book count for 2014 will be 23! I'm very proud of myself because I do like overachievement, plus I read some excellent books this year.

Now (because I'm the competitive type) I've decided to add another element to the book challenge. I'm going to read twenty books on theme and pick the first five books in advance. I don't know about you, but that's always been the hardest thing for me. If I read an excellent book, I have so much trouble finding the next book to read. By assigning myself the first five, I'm hoping that I'll have enough momentum to randomly pick the next 15.

So, here's my reading challenge for 2015. I'm going to read at least 20 books that have been adapted to film or television. If you didn't already know,  I love film and television. I've already read a slew of books that have been adapted, but there are a good bit that I've always wanted to read but never got the chance, so here we go! The first five on my list:

1. Atonement by Ian McEwan 
Atonement, the film, is excellent, and I bought the book almost immediately after seeing it. It's been sitting on my shelf ever since.

2. Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman
This book became Somone Like You... a rom-com from 2001 starring Ashley Judd, Greg Kinnear, and Hugh Jackman. I thought the movie was fun even though it was quite fluffy. I'm hoping the book gives me a nice reprieve from the heaviness of Atonement.

3. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Everyone everywhere raves about this novel and the movie. I haven't seen the movie, so the novel will be first.

4. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Of course something sci-fi has to be on my list. And if I'm going to go sci-fi, I'm going back to the original. I did not think John Carter was all that wonderful, but I was entertained enough to definitely check out Burroughs' novel. (I'd also like to read the Tarzan books.)

5. The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner
Excellent film. I've also wanted to read this book for a long time, but I've always had trouble with non-fiction. Hopefully this story is engaging enough to keep me invovled.

What would you recommend? Have you read any of my first five?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Avocados are Yummy

I went grocery shopping and bought four avocados. For those who love avocado, you know that this is dangerous because this lovely, creamy fruit has a very small window of deliciousness.

But I was prepared. I have recipes lined up that feature avocado, and the one I tried yesterday was just an experiment. A delicious, delicious experiment.

I present Avocado Mint Chicken Salad.

And the recipe I threw together was too much for the amount of chicken I made, so I put the rest in a bowl, and is a perfect dip for chips and crackers too.

Here's the recipe. As I said, I just threw it together, so adjust as necessary.

Avocado Mint Chicken Salad

Blend the following in the food processor: 
2 avocados
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
6 mint leaves (I'll probably add more next time.)
Juice from 1 lime
2 tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix with 2 cups of chopped chicken. (I cooked my chicken with rosemary & garlic in the slow cooker.)

Or don't mix with chicken and enjoy with bread, crackers, or chips!