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Hello from MNHQ...

Where we're waving off Carrie as she heads to Malawi with Oxfam, who are aiming to raise awareness about the massive problem of maternal mortality in the developing world. You can make your voice heard by signing up to the Million Mums campaign. Let us know if you've signed and add any comments or questions for Carrie.

Back at the Towers, we've a veritable smorgasbord of webchat delights, kicking off on Friday (29 Jan, 11.30am-12.30pm) when veteran broadcaster John Humphrys is coming in to tap your views on education for his new BBC2 documentary. On Tuesday (2 Feb, 1-2pm), our guest is education expert, Jim Rose, author of the recent primary-curriculum review, and then, on Thursday (4 Feb, 12.30-1.30pm), it's Natasha Walker, whose new book Living Dolls: the Return of Sexism focuses on the hypersexualisation of girls.

Don't forget to vote in our February Book of the Month poll: we've a fabulously feisty trio of female authors to choose from.

Now for this week's parenting news...

Having a Caesarean or instrumental birth doesn't affect how long you breastfeed for: And neither does it affect how soon after birth the baby was put to the breast. But what does have an impact, say researchers whose study has been published in BMC Pediatrics, was ethnicity and the number of previous births. White mothers were found to be 70% more likely to stop breastfeeding than non-white mothers, and women having a third or fourth baby were more likely to continue than those having a first. (BBC Online 27.01.10)

Karmel concern: Child nutrition guru Annabel Karmel has been criticised for adding sugar and salt to her ready meals for toddlers. Her Eat Fussy ready meals have too much sugar and salt, according to a BBC Panorama programme. Attention focused on the beef lasagne in the range, which is stocked by Sainsbury's, Tesco, Budgens, Ocado and the Co-op. The dish has 5.4g of sugar per 100g, which is double the sugar found in a similar product for adults. A spokesperson for Karmel said the criticism was unfair because most young children would not eat the entire contents of a pack. (Daily Mail 26.01.10)

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Other stories in brief

Hot threads

Quote of the week
Wuxiapian basks in the lukewarm glow of her best-ever back-handed compliment: "You're gorgeous: built for comfort, not for speed!"

Competitions
This month's prizes are:

It's easy to enter (and keep an eye on winners' corner to see if your name has come out of the hat).

YOUR BEST BOOK OF 2009? We'd love what you think were the best books to be published in hardback or paperback in 2009, so we can hand out a coveted and dazzling MN award to the most popular title. You can upload as many reviews as you like – and do please feel free to comment on other folks' choices.

Looking for a day out? Mumsnetters say try:

Find more Mumsnetter recommendations for great days out near you in Mumsnet Local - and once you get home, please add a review in our Days out/Attractions section.

Aitch's TV round-up: Mo, Sun 31 Jan, C4, 9pm
Haven't watched this yet as I fancy tuning in with you lot to yak on endlessly about how much I love Julie Walters (apart from her unspeakable troll-roles in Mamma Mia and the Asda ads) on the inevitable MN Sunday-night thread. But, really, a biog of Mo Mowlam: what's not to like? Politics, brain cancer, wigs, weight gain, squeaky voices, smart women and Gerry Adams played by John Lynch. Oh yessiree, this is catnip to the middle-aged-matron MN demographic...

Recipe of the week: grumpalumpa's white chocolate and apricot crispie squares
And lo, the season of the cake stall fundraiser is upon us – so notch up some PTA Brownie points with this yummy variation on the traditional crispie cake. All the sticky sweetness kids love with just enough fruity apricot to mollify all but the PFB-est of parents.
Review this week's recipe here - or why not post one yourself?

That's all, we're off to prepare for our defences for the John Humphrys grilling...
Love, Mumsnet Towers

NEWS FROM MUMSNET LOCAL! Six of the best royal flourishes for our latest MN Local Tsarinas: Mung (Colchester), MimiDaler (Luton), Domesticextremist (Sutton), 4andnotout (North Norfolk), TheHouseofMirth (Merton) and MmeLindt (Switzerland). If you fancy being a Tsarina for your Local site, please email us at editorial@mumsnet.com and we'll shower you with unseemly amounts of gratitude and let you know what it all involves.

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