Kool Kidz Kutz – A haircut above the rest!

Driving down Wokingham Road on our way to the kids MAD Academy lesson and I stopped at the traffic lights and looked across and saw the bright and colourful sign of the new hair salon, Kool Kidz Kutz, specialising in cutting children and young peoples hair.

I had been meaning to try this new hairdressers out for a while, waiting for my sons hair to be ready for a trim. (Youngest at 9months is a fair bit slower on the old hair growing part and her first hair cut is still a very far milestone in the distance!) Looking in rearview and catching Eldest swiping the hair from his eyes confirmed we were ready and I decided there we would be stopping in on our way back.

Parking was easy despite its prime location with a small but easily accessible car park at the rear of the salon and as soon as we reached the door, Eldest was excited. Fun was visible almost immediately, with an inviting array of toys on the play mats, colouring set out on the kids table and a rail jam packed with dressing up clothes.

Youngest was fast asleep after merrily shaking maracas to her hearts content at music, so she sadly missed out on the plentiful entertainment options on offer and being the only ones visiting at the time, Eldest was free to pick and choose from the impressive toy selection as he pleased.

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From the minute we walked in we were made to feel welcome. Eldest was greeted and offered a glass of juice. He was allowed plenty of time to feel comfortable in his surroundings and when ready, he was given the task of selecting his vehicle of choice for his trim. Sat in front of the cutting mirrors, is a Barbie jeep, a sleek red racing car and a cool fire engine. Eldest quickly chose the later and was giddy when he discovered it also offered siren noises and a toy walkie talkie.

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Our hairdresser that day Hayley, also the owner of the salon was nothing shy of wonderful. Her calm nature and confidence in her job put myself and my 3yr old instantly at ease.

Eldest has sadly inherited my bizarre hair, not only do my family feature a cows lick at the front but also a double crown. This means, too short and his hair will poke up like a coconut’s tufts, too long and it all starts going out wide, thick and unruly. In past haircuts, I’ve just been asked “Trim all over?” with the cut starting before I can even describe what we were looking for. This usually ends in disaster for his double crown. What may look smart and short today, in a weeks time will be poking upright at the back of his head for at least a month.

So it was with great relief when Hayley actually asked me what cut I was hoping for. She instantly spotted the double crown, cows lick and dodgy last choppy cut and reassured me that would soften the edges but keep his hair long as possible to weigh it down. Rather than just chopping as quick as possible, time was taken and a proper hair style was given (surfer dude was the style we all agreed upon!)

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His finished cut was (and 10 days later, still is) fantastic. The style looks fun and cute for his age, not chopped and snipped at in a panic. I can’t thank Hayley enough.

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After chatting it through, I was amazed at the variety of services on offer at Kool Kidz Kutz. Alongside little people’s hair, the salon also provides hair care for tweens, teens and even adults needing a bit of help to entertain the children whilst they get their hair maintained.

The price list showed fun pamper treatments available including hair styling such as curling, crimping, straightening and plaits. Face and body glitter, make up and a Kool Mini Mani are also on offer on request and the salon even gives the chance to host a children’s party.

If getting your little ones hair cut is a tense fraught experience, or even if not and you just want to make this regular visit a bit more fun, then I cannot recommend Kool Kidz Kutz enough.

The salon is open Weds, Thurs, Fri and Sat, call 0118 926 9635 now to book ahead or visit the website for a full price list: www.koolkidzkutz.co.uk.

 

 

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Win tickets to see Justin Live at the Hexagon!

Are your little ones Justin crazy? Well the rock star of children’s TV is headed to the Hexagon this autumn and you could win yourself one of our two family tickets up for grabs to see Justin Live, his brand new stage show coming to Reading this September.

Justin Fletcher for Festival
To celebrate Justin Fletcher’s forthcoming book signing for recent books ‘Chuckle Time’ and ‘Rhyme Time’, the lovely people over at Waterstones in Reading are giving you the chance to win a family ticket to catch Justin’s brilliant new stage show, Justin Live this autumn.

TO ENTER: Answer the following question by email to reading@mumsnetlocal.com below by midnight on Wednesday 16th of July:

Which of Reading’s two Waterstones stores will Justin be visiting on Saturday 26th of July at 9.00 am, as he signs copies of ‘Justin’s Chuckle Time’ and ‘Justin’s Rhyme Time’ – Waterstones Reading Broad Street or Waterstones Reading Oracle.

Answers can be found using the above book signing link.

Please email your answer and your name and contact telephone number.

Terms and conditions. Prize based on a family of four with a minimum of one adult and one child. There are two sets of family tickets available, only one set per winner. Valid for all performances from 6-7th of September 2014. Subject to availability. Cannot be used retrospectively or in conjunction with any other offer. The editor retains the right to redraw the prize should the winners fail to respond to our email within 36 hours of the competitions end date. Please see this link for full T&C’s.

Shaving Foam Zoo Washing Station

This was an impromptu boredom buster in our house. During all the DIY in our living room, the messy arts and crafts supply box became visible to Eldest and he was merrily pulling out pots of paint, packets of jelly and a thousand blooming unpacked pipe cleaners out (agghhhh). Then he stumbled across a can of shaving foam, one that I’d purchased about a year ago with the intention of messy play and just never got round to setting up.

I’m not sure why it took me so long, as it was really no time at all. We used the empty sand and water table (still awaiting this years purchase of sand…) and took great delight in piling mountains of fluffy pillowy shaving foam. For the first ten minutes Eldest took much joy in clapping, digging and scooping the foam with his beach spade.

 

 

However then he wanted to hide things in the foam and we agreed upon his bucket of miniature animals, perfect for all sorts of messy play. These poor animals have survived being buried in sandtrays, set in to gloopy green jelly and now today encased in an avalanche of foam.

We then decided the animals would need to wash their foam off and filled the second half of the table with some water… and voila, the zoo animal wash and go station was created. Animals would be dug out from the foam, encased in bubbles, we would try to guess which animal it could be and then dunk! In to the water they would go to be washed and scrubbed clean.

It was actually quite sweet to see my son role-playing as a parent role as he showed love, care and nurturing to these little animals as he washed them. I could hear him muttering away to them “That’s it, close your eyes and we’ll wash away bubbles” … ” One, two, three, well done – all done” and “it’s OK my baby, all will be finished soon and you’ll be squeaky clean in no time” – I realised he was saying all the things I often tell him and his sister as we go through the sometimes hysterical hair wash (both absolutely despise having water poured over them!)

 

 

The foam station kept my 3yr old entertained for well over 2 hours. He was quite upset when I told him we had to go and clean up for his football lessons but quickly cheered up when he spied another tub of foam in the box, ready to go on another day!

We used a simple basic value foam that cost no more than £2 but I think if you headed to a local pound store, you could do this activity even cheaper.

 

Oh, Just the School Starting Age Issue. . .

A fascinating blog from the lovely Mumsnet Redbridge.

London-on-Toast

Excerpted from the University of Cambridge article “School Starting Age: the Evidence“:

“Earlier this month the “Too Much, Too Soon” campaign made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools. Here, one of the signatories, Cambridge researcher David Whitebread, from the Faculty of Education, explains why children may need more time to develop before their formal education begins in earnest.”

In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously

– David Whitebread

130924-back-to-school “Back to School”. Homepage banner image by Woodley Wonderworks via Flickr Credit: Nick Page from Flickr.

In England children now start formal schooling, and the formal teaching of literacy and numeracy at the age of four. However, the UK’s Department of Education states clearly that compulsory school age is five.  Children born in the summer…

View original post 1,104 more words

Trying out the new Harris + Hoole

I once had the misfortune of trying the cafe that previously inhabited the coffee corner in Napier Road’s Tesco. It was not long after we had Youngest, she was about 2/3 weeks old and had started to scream for a feed half way round the food shopping. My husband took Eldest and carried on, I slunk off to the cafe to console my crying baby with milk and myself with a nice warm drink. That was probably my first mistake, expecting my drink to be warm. No milk was given with my tea and the doughnut that caught my hungry eye was rock hard and clearly days old. Call it hormones but I could’ve wept at that hideous serving that cost me nearly a fiver that day.

So when we spotted the makings of a new cafe taking its place at the supermarket, we were quite excited. My toddler adores coffee shops. Perhaps it is all those Mummy and Baby coffee meet ups I did in his early days, perhaps it’s because of his grandfather’s fondness for an americano meaning we meet there quite regularly or perhaps it is just the special treat of a juice or chocolate wafers that he loves. Either way, he adores a trip to the Costa Coffee in town and regularly requests this when we let him pick a special treat. 

Sunday came, it was raining heavily and my husband was desperate to have the kids out of the way to finish some DIY in the living room. So when Eldest answered “Coffee cafe” when asked what he fancied doing, I knew exactly where I wanted to try.

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Youngest fell asleep en route, leaving Eldest and I the chance to have some nice Mummy and Son bonding time. We picked out a sandwich each (I the mozzarella flatbread, Eldest chose the kid’s ham sandwich) and then we agreed on some yummy looking banana bread as our special treat to share. To be honest, the sandwiches weren’t cheap, roughly priced around £5-£6 for an adult one and £1.75 for a children’s crust free smaller option. I nearly balked at the price but was pleased to see included in this price was a free piece of fruit or bag of crisps with each purchase of a sandwich.

 

Years ago I pretty much gave up on tea in coffee shops, fed up with the usual servings of scalding flavourless tea, I concluded tea really wasn’t included in their specialities. But the choice of teas on offer at Harris + Hoole had me willing to reconsider my previous assumptions and I’m glad I did. The pot of Rooibos tea that I picked was absolutely beautiful.

The tea was hot but not tongue blisteringly so. A small set of timers came with the pot, meaning you knew precisely when to let it brew until. It was whilst sipping my tea, I noticed on their menu board it declared that they serve the coffee and tea hot but not scalding. As they believe that a scorching hot drink interferes with the natural flavours of the milk added. A small but wonderful feature was that also the accompanying jug of milk with my tea pot was a generous enough portion for me to actually drink every last drop of my scrummy tea, not the thimbleful that often is so often served in other stores. 

The little sand timers kept my son amused for quite a while and gave me a chance to take in the lovely relaxed atmosphere. Still busy at 2pm on a Sunday, there was a mum behind us comfortably breastfeeding her young baby, two gentlemen were sat nearby and having a quick business meeting and across the cafe was another family like us, enjoying a treat. I could see plenty of highchairs available if they were needed and there was ample room for when the odd person strolled in with a trolley in tow. Once the sand timers had done their course with my sons attention his interest moved straight on to the quirky decor. He was fascinated by the funky lights and the big chalkboards across the walls.

 

 

When the time came to go, my 3yr old informed me he didn’t want to leave, he wanted to stay and “watch the world go by”. After chuckling at his choice of words, I conceded and we sat back again for another 10 minutes happily pointing out and watching the too’ings and fro’ings of this buzzing cafe.

We absolutely loved our trip to Harris + Hoole and my noisy, messy and cheeky pair were embraced and made welcome from the minute we crossed the threshold. Something that will always endear a venue to my heart for a long time. I would recommend a trip to anyone and the local Costa certainly faces some tough competition!

This post was entirely of my own opinion and is in no way affiliated or sponsored by Harris + Hoole.

 

Nana’s Knickers – Book Review

It was early one morning, eyes still blurry and my first dose of caffeine not quite rushing through my bloodstream, when I came across an email in my inbox inviting me to review Nana’s Knickers. It took me a little longer than normal to understand what lay in my inbox but when it clicked, I was absolutely delighted. It was an invitation from Blue Fluff Books and author Nico Russell, asking me to take a look at their new children’s book, the tale of a rather frantic Nana and her search for her beloved pair of spotty knickers.

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It took no time at all from the book’s arrival, for my eldest to demand we sit down and read. I was also quite eager myself to discover the story that we held, with such an intriguing title.

Right from the start, this book reads with a beautiful pace and rhythm. The plight for the missing bloomers captured my 3yr olds imagination immediately and we quickly devoured each page. This book could easily appeal to an older audience of children than my son, with its impressive use of vocabulary that would test and develop new readers. In fact since reading Nana’s Knickers, it has introduced a selection of words to my toddler that he has been charmingly popping into sentences ever since.

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It wasn’t long before I found myself warming to Nana and her clear joie de vivre. This grandma is not spending her golden years doing crosswords, but doing the fandango with Mr McGurt, having tea and scones with the vicar and my personal favourite, quaffing bubbles and croissants for breakfast. My son connected with Nana on an emotional level (it was only that morning we had misplaced a favourite toy train) and he was keen to see a happy ending, which did not disappoint.

The illustrations by Charlie Meyer are absolutely delightful, full of bright colours and intriguing details. We would often find ourselves stopping to catch and point out specific parts of the drawings throughout the story.

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It was on our 3rd read of the book that my son discovered a particular element of the story and images that he absolutely adored. On one page was the mention of a mouse trap, which in turn made him spot that throughout the story a cheeky little mouse can be found hiding amongst the house. This was a brilliant addition that I found added excitement and interaction to the book.

We are now on our umpteenth read of the book, having read it most days since it hit our doormat and I can safely say I’ve not yet tired of reading the same words aloud again and again with my toddler happily sat on my lap.

We loved Nana’s Knickers and I was shocked to discover it was Nico Russell’s first steps in to the world of children’s fiction after a successful and award winning poetry background. The book read with the depth of character and witty humour shown by many more experienced children’s authors and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that I think Nico’s is a name that we will be seeing a lot more of in the literary world. The last page held a teasing introduction to the next book ‘A camel, a king and some carrots’ – a story that my family will be eagerly anticipating to see on the shelves.

With kind thanks to Blue Fluff Publishing, Nico Russell and Charlie Meyer for allowing Mumsnet Reading sample and review their impressive work. If you would like to buy a copy, head over to http://bluefluffbooks.com to get yours today.

Setting New Relationships with Food

Youngest is not long on her weaning journey and once again, my Husband and I are treading the tricky path of setting up a child with a healthy attitude to food.

When we first took this task on 2 and a half years ago with our son, we both discussed our associations and feelings towards food and what we wanted to achieve from weaning for our kids. I am absolutely hands down an emotional eater. Feeling crappy lets make (and scoff!) cakes. Feeling happy, let’s celebrate by eating out. Feeling bored, you can find me nit picking around the snack cupboard. This of course is largely my own doing but the foundations for this were definitely laid in my childhood, as my parents definitely fit the same positive reward mould when it comes to food.

My Husband whilst a very healthy trim weight admits he comes from a ‘finish your plate’ household. He feels uneasy if his plate holds leftovers and will eat past the feeling of comfortable to finish his serving.

These were two profiles that we were keen not to replicate for our children and so we decided on a few ground rules for ourselves on our food parenting ethos:

  • Never say no. We wanted to teach our children that no food was off the table. We weren’t going to banish chocolate, jam or raisins, instead we set out to teach that these foods are OK, in moderation.
  • Leaving food when you’re full is fine. Tummy full up, then just say and we wouldn’t force the rest of the plate to be eaten. However you stay at the table till all members of the family are finished.
  • Don’t prejudge on what they will or won’t like. If Eldest overhears us discussing whether we should serve up a particular vegetable or item on his plate, pondering if he’ll like it, it is almost a guarantee that he won’t try it. He will lock his lips and refuse point blank to budge on giving the food a good go. Now all items are offered openly (we were gobsmacked when he absolutely loved curly kale!) and if something does cause him some hesitation, we ask him to lick it a few times and that usually gets him feeling more confident that he will or won’t like it.
  • Pudding isn’t a treat or a special occasion thing. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we don’t. More often than not, it’s fruit, like his beloved pineapple or strawberries, sometimes it’s yogurt and occasionally it’s custard, rice pudding or mousse.

Touch wood, all these rules have worked well for us. We’ve lucked out with a little eater who adores vegetables, scoffs fruit and if full will leave chocolate mousse or ice cream quite happily in his bowl. Phew. Now we just have to achieve it all over again with Youngest! What are you’re top weaning tips for healthy, happy eaters?

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5 After-School Activities A Bit Different To The Norm

A kick around the park not exciting your kids anymore? Football and dancing worn off it’s appeal? Then take a look at our round up of the best after-school action packed classes for preschoolers through to teenagers in our comprehensive list of things a little different from the norm.

Skiplex Indoor Ski Academy

Do your kids get a thrill from speed? Get them confident on the slopes in 6 weeks with Skiplex’s qualified instructors, who help children to progress through a curriculum of learning, integrated with ability specific games and tasks.

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Adventure Dolphin

Climbing, canoeing and marathon paddling. You name the adrenaline sport and Adventure Dolphin seem to train and coach youth and young adults in it. A fantastic charity working along with Activity Team West Berkshire based in Pangbourne.

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Reading Climbing Centre

Is your little one forever climbing the sofa, walls and furniture? Why not get that energy burnt in a slightly more productive manner and get them climbing the walls at Reading Climbing Centre. Teaching children from as young as 5, it’s never too early to get them up and giving this fun sport a go.

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Reading Rockets Basketball

How about teaching your little one to slam dunk? A team sport not too common in the UK, Reading Rockets are bringing basketball lessons and coaching to the local community. With venues from John Madjeski Stadium and Loddon Valley centre, there really is a destination to suit most.

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Kwik Cricket

Have you got a mini Freddie Flintoff on your hands? Then this after school activity could be just the thing for your kids. Based in the lovely Woodford Leisure Centre in Woodley, this is a perfect tea time activity to burn off the last of the children’s energy before bed!

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Flying with kids

We’re gearing up for our Summer Holidays over at Mumsnet Reading HQ and whilst the thrill of a holiday fills me with excitement, two things are lurching in my stomach with dread. 1, the dreaded baring the body in a swimming costume and 2. The flight. With kids. For 3 hours. Acch.

So in preparation I’ve googled, searched and asked about for the top tips other parents have for travelling with little ones and these were the top 5 I could find:

  • The first is a preparation one, the first passport. We’ve had no end of a nightmare getting my Youngest’s first passport organised. We did check and send with over the double time allocation and still we found ourselves 10 days before travel, ringing and pleading to get on the fast track service as they hadn’t even examined the documents after having the paperwork in their office for 8 weeks. Many stressful calls and finally a call directly with the Durham office and we are sorted. Phew. So if you can, put in for the first passport the day you even consider booking a holiday, they are backed up to the max in the passport office currently it seems.

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  • The tip of packing a selection of activities is a well known one, but one I hadn’t heard before was to pack a cheap packet of window gel stickers. Since they launched a few years ago, these are now easily picked up in discount/£1 stores. Eldest was in love with these last Christmas so I hope they hold some entertainment come mid-flight.

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  • Getting through the airport, allow time, time and more time. You know how your toddlers need to pee right when you don’t have time to whizz them to the loo? Or when they want to do something all by themselves and heaven forbid if you stop them? That’ll all probably come in to play and more at the airport, so allow a whole heap of extra time to get you through and to the gate.

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  • One of our favourite tips from asking our social media fans was to keep beakers empty until you’re through the security checks. A full beaker is a lot to guzzle at the check through just to keep hold of those favourite cups and what goes in, must come out, meaning even more pit stops.

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  • Plan ahead some small light activities just incase you get held up in the airport in delays or queues. A quick search online finds some ‘Airplane Bingo’ and ‘Airplane Wordsearch’ printables that are easy to pop in your bag in preparation. One of favourites was this one from Mummy and the Munchkins, here.

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