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CATCH IT, BIN IT, KILL IT is a campaign launched by the Department of Health to help reduce the spread of cold and flu viruses. So if you're sick of your hacking cough or your child's streaming nose, find out how to stop it spreading here.

Hello from Mumsnet HQ...

Where we're recovering on a high from the hugely fun launch party for Toddlers: The Mumsnet Guide. Thanks to all Mumsnetters who came along. Now we need the guides to fly off the shelves so everyone can benefit from your top advice - please ask your local bookshop if they're stocking it, flick through and snort with laughter if they are, and order publicity posters to plaster around your neighbourhood.

Harriet Harman, minister for women and equality, wants your thoughts on what the govt needs to do to help your family get through the recession, so she can tell President Obama.

Book club news: there's a cracking shortlist to choose from for the March book of the month. All women writers, all funny and clever, so the difficult bit's choosing one. Please vote for your favourite before 21 Feb. And we hope you're around for the discussion about February's book - The Enchanted April - on Feb 24 at 8pm.

Now for this week's parenting news ...

Video games 'good for kids': Computer games are good for children and teach them essential life skills, according to an EU report published this week. It says there's no proof that playing violent games has a negative impact on kids' behaviour, and instead the games could stimulate learning and trigger development of skills such as strategic thinking, creativity, cooperation and innovative thinking – all important for the 'information society' of the future. The study calls for schools across Europe to use games for educational purposes, and urges parents to take a greater interest in them (Guardian 12.02.09).

Nurseries better than granny: Children looked after by grandparents while their parents are at work would be better off in nurseries or with childminders, according to new research taken from the Millennium Cohort Study based at the Institute of Education. It discovered that children in the care of grandparents had more problems socialising with their peers at the age of three, had significantly more behavioural problems and were behind at key developmental stages compared with those in nurseries, with nannies, childminders or even other family members. The only clear benefit was a good vocabulary (Times 10.02.09).

Other stories in brief

Overweight women are more likely to have babies with spina bifida or low birthweight, according to two pieces of research released this week (BBC Online, 09.02.09 and 11.02.09); children from the age of two should switch from full-fat milk to help to prevent deaths from heart disease in adult life, the head of nutrition at the Food Standards Agency said this week (Times 10.02.09); children as young as seven whose parents have split up could be offered places at state boarding schools under new plans (Independent 10.02.09).

GREAT MEMBER OFFER: our new partner, Bedruthan Steps Hotel & Spa in Cornwall, is offering all Mumsnetters a 10% discount - just quote Mumsnet when you book. Bedruthan is an eco-luxury hotel in a beautiful location, and Cornwall and the South West's hotel of the year 08/09.

Hot threads

Surname saga - I've changed my name to my boyfriend's. He doesn't know!
Half full - what will you be doing to fill up the half-term holiday?
Crimes against couture - what fashion faux pas do you commit on a daily basis?
Better part of valour - are you a discreet breastfeeder or do you let it all hang out?
Listen to your mother - what one piece of advice do you want to pass on to your daughters?

Competitions

This week's lovely prizes are:

Find out what you need to do to enter

Quote of the week

From the MN Toddlers guide: "Can we go home now, Mummy? I really want to play with my penis."

Planning some half-term days out? Mumsnetters' recommendations include:

Aitch's TV round-up: Damages, BBC1, Sun 15 February, 10.20pm
Patty's back, Frobisher's alive and Ellen is, as they say in America, PISSED. Don't panic if you didn't watch the first series of this glossily taut lawyering series, the feeling that you don't really know what's going on will be shared with even the most devoted Damages fan. It's a month later (although this being TV Time, Glenn Close's blonde locks have miraculously advanced a good few inches) and all Ellen wants to do is destroy her. Patty's haunted by a friend who committed suicide and launching a charitable foundation in an effort to make him go away, and Frobisher's in hospital, crying about no-one likes him and complaining that he's a cripple. I'm not sure about this one, to be honest, as Ted Danson's leg can clearly be seen waggling under the bedclothes. At least I think it's his leg. Read more...

Carmenere's recipe of the week: Waswondering's Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever
Waswondering posted this recipe and within the hour many excited MNers had made it and reported back on its ease and deliciousness. Skramble helpfully posted a photo of hers. With Valentine's Day this Saturday, it's worth noting the cake is the perfect size for two (if you're sharing with your true love) and one (if you're consoling yourself).


That's all folks, we're off to stake check out our local bookshop.
Love,
Mumsnet Towers

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