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Hello from MNHQ...

Where we're jealously guarding the stash of Weleda goodies waiting for the Tsarina who wins our inaugural Mumsnet Local Site of the Month poll. Do have a village-fete-type nosy round the Mumsnet Local sites near you and vote for the one you judge to have the best-kept borders (and nice ham shops).

If, mid-nosy, you feel inspired to become a Tsarina yourself, please drop us a mail and we'll send you some info. We've made a list of Local sites that are woefully Tsarina-less and may be heading for the chop if we can't find a nice volunteer to tend them (hint, hint).

Now for this week's parenting news ...

Over-full classes soar: The number of state school children taught illegally in classes of more than 30 has doubled over the past two years to 10,000-plus and the figure is likely to soar next year, due in part to a government pledge to allow all four year olds into school in the September after their birthday. Combined with this, a mini baby boom four years ago means increased numbers of children are competing for places, and pressure for cuts in public spending is likely to exacerbate the problem. There are now 310 illegal infant school classes of more than 30 pupils, compared with 130 two years ago. The government banned children in this age group being taught in classes of more than 30 in 2002. (Independent 14.05.09)

Mother banned from kids: A mother has been denied access to her children for three years after a court found she had been trying to turn them against her former husband. The woman, former wife of a City financier, has been banned from seeing her three children after a ruling that she had placed them in "an intolerable situation of conflict of loyalties resulting in them suffering serious emotional harm". The mother has already been jailed for a month after she approached one of her children to tell him she loved him. She faces the prospect of another jail sentence for posting a video of her experiences on the internet. A spokesperson for the campaign group Mothers4Justice said it was "absolutely appalling" that the woman had been jailed for telling her son that she loved him. (Daily Telegraph 11.05.09)

Other stories in brief

ASK JEEVES WIN YOUR OWN BUTLER COMPETITION What would you do with your own butler? Would you have him pick up the dry cleaning while you spend time with the kids? Or would you send him off to the shops for the food you need for dinner tonight? The possibilities are endless. To win your very own butler, enter now.

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EVERYTHING FOR THE NURSERY FROM BABY ETC Instant-fit blackout blinds, and other hard-to-find essentials, like award-winning Korbell nappy bins and swim nappies are available now from Mumsnet's new shopping partner Baby etc.

Quote of the week

Rosebud05 fondly remembers her partner's inspirational encouragement during the transition stage of labour: "He said: 'Do you want an Eccles cake?'"

Looking for somewhere to take the kids? Mumsnetters say try:

Find more Mumsnetter recommendations for great days out near you in Mumsnet Local

Aitch's TV round-up: Growing Up Without a Face, Thurs 16 May, Channel 5, 9pm
Yes, yes, we know, we've watched plenty of these modern freak docs, and the titles do have a tendency to exaggerate but this little girl, Juliana Wetmore, without a word of a lie, really didn't have much of a face when she was born. Her hugely admirable parents had been warned that "something wasn't quite right" and, being staunchly God-fearing Americans, had vowed to stand behind their child whatever happened. When she came out with no facial bones to speak of, eyes hanging out of their non-existent sockets and a hole where her features should have been, they adored her...

Blog of the week: Dignity shredded and sent for incineration
porcupine11 on a reversal of misfortunes at her baby swimming class: "The classes are held in a school with changing around the edges of the pool. The flimsiest of hospital-style curtains stand between dignity and public nudity. Top of swimming costume down, quick dry, mammoth nursing bra on, all good. Bottom of swimming costume off, quick dry, sickening realisation that I have backed into the curtains, pushing them apart. I have been drying my expansive bare bottom over the edge of the pool. Where the toddler swimming class has just begun to sing Ring a Ring O Roses. I See The Moon And The Moon Sees Me would have been more apt..."
Why not join the MN bloghood yourself?

Recipe of the week: penguinmum's chocolate chip cookies
Dead-simple, melt-in-the-mouth, make-with-the-kids cookies you can rustle up from store-cupboard ingredients in half an hour flat - and then spend the next half an hour fighting over sharing out nicely.
Review this week's recipe here - or why not post one yourself?

That's all, we're off to lick out the bowl...
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TAKE OUR CHILDREN'S COMPUTER GAMES SURVEY - YOU COULD WIN STORE VOUCHERS AND GAMES CREDIT. Complete this quick survey about children's computer games and have the chance to win £150 of vouchers for the store of your choice, plus £100 of computer games credit at Metaboli. The survey's open to anyone with a child who plays computer games (on any PC/Mac or console but not DS/PSP). Good luck!

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