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Hair straighteners literally transformed my life.  It is split into two era's life before straightener and life after straighteners.  I now have manageable hair.  However, I would not want the to transform the life of any child. Did you know that  hair straightener burns among children has doubled in recent years and they now account for nearly one in ten burns.

Keep your children safe

If you use hair straighteners, follow the Electrical Safety Councils top tips to make sure that you, and your children, stay safe from electrical burns:
  1. Keep hair straighteners out of reach of children - Children’s skin can be 15 times thinner than that of adults so it’s important to keep them out of reach of little feet and hands.
  2. Use a heat proof pouch - Hair straighteners stay hot up to forty minutes after they have been switched off. A heat proof pouch is the easiest and safest way to store a product after use.
  3. Keep them away from skin - Do not allow the any of the hot plates to come into contact with the face, neck or scalp when using straighteners.
  4. Seek medical attention - In the incident of a serious burn, seek immediate medical attention.  If the hot plates comes into contact with the skin but it is not serious, run the affected area under cold water.
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Tips for a good bedtime routine

We have been round and round the block when it comes to bedtimes.  We have been remarkably lucky with Maxi, he has always been a dream when it comes to bedtime and goes to bed and to sleep with little or no fuss.  However, to make up for this Mini has been a challenge, well from turning two years old! bedtime I am please to say that at seven he is now really good at going to bed and much better at getting to sleep, so I thought I would share some of the things we have done to make this as easy as possible. A bedtime routine is key for us.
  • No computer or electronic screens after 6pm.  This is non-negotiable.  We do allow some TV, but mostly it is quiet time for reading, board games, jigsaws and chatting.
  • No electronics in bedrooms. No TV's, no games, no tablets.
  • A regular bedtime.
  • We end the night with three positive things from the day.  Things that have made us happy or smile.
  • A good nightlight.  Philips sent the boys a softpal nightlight each.  Mini has a Mike one and it gives off a soft glow that doesn't interfere with his sleep.  I found it important not to dismiss his fear of the dark and a night light makes all the difference to him being comfortable in his room.
  • Both boys have a Lumie Bodyclock Go and this is great for helping Mini getting off to sleep as it dims over a 30 minute time, so he can often be found asleep with a book in hand!
  • Not too much to drink after 6pm.
  • Audio books.  Both the boys have a great love of audio books and often go to sleep listening to them.  Mini is currently listening to David Walliams and Maxi is using the Leapfrog Leap Reader to read audio books.
  • Relaxation CD's.  When Mini is finding it really hard to go to sleep or wind down we turn to our Relax Kids CD's which really do help.
bedtime routine Both the boys have had periods when they have been anxious or upset and this often shows itself at bedtime.  We have used many different ways to handle this including:
  1. Making a dreamcatcher.
  2. Talking about what is concerning them and making sure that we do not dismiss their concerns.
  3. Worry dolls - you tell them your worried and leave them under your pillow and they take them away.
  4. Relaxation CD's.
  5. Worry Spray - A mix of lavender and water in a spray bottle to spray away the scaries! (lavender is very relaxing, which can help in itself)
  6. A special stone for rubbing if you are worried.
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Colouring on Fabric

One of the things that we love to do as a family is to sit and colour in.  I find it really therapeutic and have some adult colouring in books, so I don't feel left out when the boys are colouring.  Crafting as a family doesn't have to take lots of equipment or even lots of time and this is a great activity for fitting in to small amounts of time. coloring on fabric When I saw Tidny Fabric at Ikea I knew it would be perfect for family colouring sessions.  It is great to get it out of the cupboard and set it at the table for times when we all need to wind down and have a good chat.  Slowly over time it is getting filled in more and more and we all really enjoy doing this. We are using fabric pens thaa £7.99 from Yellow Moon and are just like felt tips and you set the colour to the fabric permanently by ironing it.  We are going to turn our finished fabric into cushion covers for the family room.  It is a great activity for people of all ages as the pens do not bleed through the fabric, like felt tips can sometimes on paper. colouring hats But you do not have to just colour in on sheets of fabric, the boys have also personalised some caps too.  They had so much fun making them there own and this way they do not get confused as to which is theirs! colouring collage You can find so many more simple art and drawing ideas on this week's something for the weekend post.  
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Simple drawing and art – Something for the weekend

simple drawing This week has been filled with a nasty vomiting bug, which has really taken us back to basics in The Mad House.  We have done a lot of reading, watching movies and simple art and drawing.  So I decided to concentrate on that for this week's something for the weekend.  We received an amazing gift pack from Australian company Smiggle, who have just opened up a store at Westfield and it included a fantastic scratch book, which is what inspired this weeks activity, make your own scratch paper. make your own scratch paper

Make your own scratch paper

Materials:
  • Paper
  • Crayons or oil pastels
  • Black tempura paint
  • Washing up liquid
  • Foam applicator (you could use a paint brush)
Method:
  • We all had so much fun colouring in our sheets of paper with crayons, making sure they were as colourful as possible.
  • We then mixed the black paint with a good squirt of washing up liquid and used the sponge applicator to color the crayon.
  • We applied a second coat on some of the sheets when the first one dried and then the sheets were ready to be used.
Childhood 101 has a great post about making scratch art with oil pastels, which is the way we used to make it when I was younger.

Other Drawing Activities and Games

PicMonkey Collage   Drawing can be a wonderful open ending art activity.  It doesn't need lots of materials and it not messy at all, just look at how inviting this invitation to draw is.   When the boys were smaller I would use masking tape to fix paper to the table and also to give their drawings a boarder.   I adore this idea with drawing cards and Artchoo has some fab drawing games for kids on her site. You can draw almost anywhere and adore this idea from Tinkerlab about drawing under a table  and also you don't have to just use paper, you can make comics on the ipad, colour on perspex, mirrors, photographs or windows and even the pavement or sidewalk.

Books about Drawing

One of the things that has always stuck with me is that you should never ask a child "what is that?" when they have done a drawing or picture as this implies that it doesn't look as it should! Instead, ask them to tell you about there drawing.  I have always encouraged the boys to just draw and doodle and say that things do not have to look like photographs and below are some of the books that we have in our home. Make sure you are following our facebook pageGoogle + page or on Pinterest for lots more simple drawing and art and activities over the coming week.
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6 Gifts Mothers Definitely Do Not Want on Mother’s Day + Cath Kidston Giveaway

Mother’s Day is a special time of year where we celebrate everything that our mothers have done for us over the years.  From changing your nappy to helping you put money into your children’s savings account and, these days, listening to all your worries and woes, your mum has been there for you through it all, so she deserves something special to remind her just how important she is. We suggest you read this list and avoid these items at all costs or you can expect to have one disappointed mum on your hands this Mother’s Day.

cath giveaway

‘#No.1 Mum’ Mug Firstly, how many mugs does your mum actually need? You already bought her that colour-changing one for her birthday and she still hasn’t used that mug with a picture of your face on it that you got her for Christmas. Secondly your mum’s only going to get upset when she bumps into someone at work with the same mug and realises that she is not the sole owner of the title ‘Number 1 Mum.’ Socks This is a present that should be reserved for Father’s Day only and even then it’s a pretty lame gift. That fake smile you’re dad put on is going to look even more unbelievable when your mum tries it out.  And for heaven’s sake if you do opt for this gift, take note from above and don’t buy a pair that declares your mum as the ‘Best Mum in the World.’ It’s not OK on socks either. Anti-Ageing Cream Yes your mum has been talking about how she’s run out of her anti-ageing cream or she’s been going on about that new product she saw on the TV that claims to take 10 years off your face. No, that wasn’t a hint. Any gift that suggests your mother isn’t the youthful, beautiful young mum she once was is asking for the silent treatment or possibly even tears. This also applies to hair dye to get rid of those pesky grey hairs, cellulite cream, weightwatcher membership, gym membership … A Tattoo Nothing says Happy Mother’s Day  like a tattoo of your mother’s face slapped across your arm or the picture of a heart with the word ‘Mum’ scrawled across it plastered on your chest. It’ll really help you bag that special someone and help you out with next year’s Mother’s Day gift of a grandchild for sure. Bath Stuff This can actually be quite a nice present. Your mum can have some much needed ‘me’ time whilst she relaxes in the bath making use of your present.  Where you most likely sourced this present from however is probably what makes this present one of the worst.  It’s pretty likely that your mum remembers seeing you unwrap the present that your auntie gave you just a few months ago at Christmas and probably feels a little cheated now it seems to have made its way into her collection of Mother’s Day presents. A Book on Parenting If it’s her first Mother’s Day as a parent, she’s probably going to appreciate all the help she can get. On her 10th Mother’s Day as a mum she’s probably not. cath giveaway

Cath Kidston Giveaway – What is on your wish-list this Mother’s Day?

To stand a chance to win this lovely Cath Kidston Sewing Kit with the twin travel pack tell us what your most desirable Mother’s Day present is. Whether the kids bring you breakfast in bed, make you a card, give you a weekend away (with the collaboration of Daddy’s credit card) or they promise you they will to go to bed on-time, we want to hear what you are wishing for this Mother’s Day! a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Exploring sense of smell and taste

smell and taste When I was pregnant I seemed to have such a heightened sense of smell and have passed that on to Minimad. Maxi has been under the weather lately and noticed that when his nose was blocked foods didn't taste the same or as strong, so I thought we would explore this. Firstly we had a look online and discovered this great page at the Childrens University of Manchester all about taste and your nose.  The boys had great fun exploring the web site and told me all about it, so we decided to put the theory into practice with some food and drink . We decided to test, orange juice, apple juice, blackcurrant juice, sugar water, salt water, dilute soy sauce, lemon juice and lime juice.  The boys took turns to test one another, blindfolding each other and giving them a taste whilst they held their own noses. drinks The boys also made a chart so they could write down what each of them through the tastes where and after we sat down and looked at the results and they made their conclusions. Maxi noted that he could still taste more of the food by just holding his nose than when it was bunged up, so I tried to explain that the mucus that caused his congestion was at the back of his nose and throat too blocking the smell more. taste collage We learned about the  five main tastes which are bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and savoury or ‘umami’ and they matched the food they often eat in to the different taste groups. We also discussed the facts on the infographic we received below from www.otrivine.co.uk.  Can you imagine growing 2 meters of nose hair! Otrivine Did You Nose It Infographic v3 3.  
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Fingerprint heart valentines cards

fingerprint heart cards I have to say that as a couple MadDad and I have never really been in to celebrating Valentines Day.  Mainly due to the fact that it is our wedding anniversary in March and we tend to celebrate that much more than Valentines, however, since having the boys things have changed. It seems that they really want us to celebrate valentines, they have made fingerprint love heart cards for their dad and also made heart bookmarks which they are giving out to their teachers tomorrow.

Simple Fingerprint Heart Cards

fingerprint hearts It doesn't really get much simpler than this and I think we originally saw this over at Thinly Spread a couple of years ago.  You take a forefinger and angle your fingerprint then add a second one to make a heart shape. Chris' are much neater than ours, but then my boys are only 8 and 7 and refused any help! To make it simpler for younger children you can add the paint to a sponge rather than a paper plate like we did, in fact the sponge method is better for all ages, but the boys wanted to mix their own colours.
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Something for the weekend – The pompom edition

pompom I loooove pompoms and so do the boys.  we find making them something of an addiction especially with these Pom-Pom makers.  It really is super simple and something that my boys can do all on their own and is a great way of using up scraps of wool.  We find making them really therapeutic and something that we tend to make them on an evening when we are all sat around chatting together.  These makers are really simple for children to use, just take a look at the video below of Thinly Spread's Bonus Boy aged five making a pompom.

How to make a Pompom

  Cardboard strip method - Maggie at Red Ted Art shows you how to make a pompom using just a strip of card and wool in her blog post about making pompom bunnies. Cardboard donut method - Miss LIzzie at Me and my shadow shows how simple and effective this method is with her pompom wreath. Crayon box chronicles shows us how to make pompoms using folks  - This is so easy for tiny pompoms.   You can even make them from two cardboard rolls.

Crafts with Pompoms

  pompom chcks Materials
    • Yarn
    • Pom Pom Maker
    • Felt – yellow for the chicks
    • Glue – we used the glue gun, but also fabric glue
    • Small beads for eyes
Method
  1. Make a largeish pompom in yellow wool for the chick’s body
  2. In yellow felt cut out two shapes for the chicks wings and one for the chicks tail feathers.  Also cut a small triangle for the chicks beak - in future ones I will make this orange to stand out more.
  3. Stick the wings and tail to the pom pom using a glue gun.
  4. Stick the eyes and beak on using fabric glue
pompom bunnies You can also make pompom bunnies or pompom monsters.  There are lots of animals you can craft with pompoms, including hedgehogs, spiders, robins or sheep!   Why not make a bunch of white pompoms and then you have no melt indoor snowballs.

Activities with Pompoms

  racing pompoms I know my boys would love to race pompom balls, see more of this great activity at frugal fun 4 boys.  You could turn them in to angry birds and use them to knock down cups or use them for a colour sorting activity.  You can even use pompoms for maths activities or literacy exercises. pompom crafts Make sure you are following our facebook pageGoogle + page or on Pinterest for lots more pompom crafts and activities over the coming week.
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Are you supporting Sport Relief – Dial for Davina Day

I guess we are all aware of the Team Honk relay race in the blogger community, but were you aware that Davina McCall  is attempting to run, swim and cycle over 500 miles from Edinburgh to London, entirely under her own steam?  Do you know that she cycled 90 miles today? I have to say I wasn't until I saw her pulled out of the water at windermere after attempting to swim in the frigid waters.    Davina's challenge is all about girl power.  She is going to to go through hell and back in order to raise money for Sport Relief.  You can keep up to date with her challenge  on the Beyond Breaking Point Website and there is also up to date photos, videos and facts on the website. header_desktop Tomorrow (13th February) is "Dial for Davina" day, where BT willdonate 1p to Sport Relief for every call made from a BT home phone line, BT business line as well as every call made from a BT payphone. Davina is also the voice of BT’s Speaking Clock until the 23rd March,  and if you call the speaking clock from a BT landline BT will donate 10p to Sport Relief.

What else can you do to support Davina?

  Send Davina a supportive tweet using the hashtag #Davina.  She is 47 years old and this is an amazing challenge and not one I would even contemplate doing. Any tweets will appear on her wall of support. Sponsor Davina as she goes Beyond Breaking Point. Sponsor Davina at sportrelief.com/Davina All the ups and downs of Davina’s challenge will be captured for a BBC documentary, to be broadcast in the run up to Sport Relief Weekend, which is taking place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March. 3.  
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Kids in the kitchen. My top tips for baking with boys!

I say boys, but really these tips are great for baking with any child.  My children have been helping me in the kitchen from when they could sit in a high chair.  I tried to involve them from a young age, even if it was just giving them some pastry to play with.  I wanted them to feel comfortable in the kitchen and be involved in preparing their food. Baking is a great exercise for children, it involves lots of different skills such as reading recipes, measuring and weighing ingredients, following instructions, motor skills (mixing), measuring time and also is a great way to connect them with the food that they eat. Mini Baking

Tips for cooking with younger children

 
  1. Write out the recipe in simple words and laminate it.  Even if they can not read it is great to show them the recipe.
  2. Get out the ingredients first
  3. Put everything at their level.  We used to work at the kitchen table as it was the perfect height for them.
  4. Get child sized implements
  5. An apron that fits them is great too.
  6. Be prepared for mess, but hey you can clean it up!
  7. Simple recipes are best, try one only a few ingredients first
maxi cooking

Tips for cooking with six plus children

 
  1. Let them chose the recipe and check if you have all the necessary ingredients.  If you are out of any then they can write a shopping list and go shopping with you for them
  2. Encourage them to read the recipe and do the weighing and measuring themselves.  We found that having electronic scales that also can be used for weighing liquid were ace when they were younger.
  3. Be prepared for the finished product not to look like you think it should. This is their project not yours.
  4. My boys have a step that they use so that the kitchen counters are a good level for them, but still mix on the kitchen table.
  5. Encourage them to clean up their mess.
  6. There is nothing wrong with packet mixes.

Great recipes for kids

  Shortbread, oat and raisin cookies, gingerbread, three ingredient cookies, rice crispy cakes, Spelt banana bread, banana muffins and pebble cookies. What is your favorite recipe for cooking with kids?  If you have blogged it then please do join in and add it to the linky below.
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