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Hello from Mumsnet HQ...

...where we've set up market stall but, truth be told, are in need of a few more customers for our Mumsnet Christmas cards.  So c'mon people, we need to sell a few more of these fab cards to raise money for a good cause (oh, and to avoid bankruptcy). You can't all have bought your cards yet, but if you have, get a life be super-organised and buy next year's now.

If cards aren't your thing but fine art is, then help us to raise money by bidding for Boco's beautiful original paintings of the MN Christmas cards. We're raising the gavel on an auction for each one (closes Monday morn). Do I hear a tenner?

On the presents front, if your kids are after video games for Christmas, then find out how others rate them before you shell out. (And when your kids keep inflicting Wii humiliation, remember you're the grown-up.)

Now for this week's parenting news ...

Antenatal test breakthrough: A wide range of genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, beta-thalassaemia and sickle cell disease could be revealed in unborn babies using a simple blood test taken from a mother-to-be, researchers from Hong Kong University said this week. At the moment, the only checks available are invasive and carry a miscarriage risk. The new test works by checking foetal DNA in the mother's blood against her own (BBC Online 25.11.08).

Buggy concerns: Front-facing strollers could discourage babies from interaction with their parents and carers, according to a study published by the National Literacy Trust for its Talk to Your Baby campaign. The study suggests old-fashioned buggies, which allow babies to look up at the person pushing them, give the best start in life. Children in front-facing buggies are less likely to talk, laugh or interact than those in rearward-facing ones (Guardian 21.11.08).

Other stories in brief

More babies with Down's syndrome are being born today than before antenatal testing became widespread - in 1989, the year screening was widely introduced in the UK, 717 babies with Down's syndrome were born, while in 2006, the last year for which figures are available, 749 were born (Guardian 24.11.08); an 18-year-old British woman, Laurel Williams, has become the youngest woman to give birth to conjoined twins, and although usually only 5% of conjoined twins survive the first 24 hours, doctors say the chances are good in this case (Daily Mail 26.11.08); most young people in the UK are unaware of the serious damage junk food can do to their health, a British Heart Foundation survey has found - 73% of eight to 15 year olds were not aware that a junk food-laden diet could potentially shorten their life (BBC Online 26.11.08).

TIME FOR A STORY on Windows Live Messenger is a service that enables you to see and talk with your little ones, wherever you are, whilst reading them an interactive story. Get closer to your loved ones and never miss out on Time for a Story!

Hot threads

Competitions

We've got a great prize up for grabs this week - in return for submitting a toys and gifts review, you could win £250 of toys, courtesy of Talking Tots, and one runner-up will get £100 of toys.

Quote of the week

Custardo described what she's getting her husband for Crimbo: "Wedding ring. I told him today - after I noticed our recycling bin had been stolen because it wasn't brought in and our normal bin was full because it hadn't been taken out - that I am going to have it engraved with 'Don't forget bin day'. He said: 'Don't you f****** dare!'"

BANANAGRAMS® is the award-winning must-have word game of the year! Simple, simultaneous play is great for all ages - the perfect gift for children, grandparents and everyone in between! No turn taking means no waiting around! Each player works to his own level, making BANANAGRAMS a family favourite! NOW on FACEBOOK® too!

Looking for somewhere to take the kids on a winter day out? Mumsnetters recommend:

Carmenere's recipe of the week: Dizzydixies' Hummingbird cup cakes
It's Christmas fair (fayre?) season and that means requests for home-baked produce. This brings out the competitive bunting cup cake in most mums, but for those who aren't exactly Martha Stewart the answer lies with Dizzydixies' easy-peasy cup cake recipe.


That's your lot. We're off to cadge pumpkin pie from some Americans.

Love,
MN Towers

CHRISTMAS AT THE LONDON COLISEUM: English National Ballet returns to the Coliseum for the Christmas season. It opens with a glittering production of The Sleeping Beauty (3-14 Dec), followed by the last-ever performances of Gerald Scarfe's The Nutcracker (17-30 Dec), while Manon (2-11 January) provides the grand finale. Tickets start at £10. Call 0871 011 0200 to book.

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