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EXTENDED SERVICES Lots of families across England are making the most of extended services accessible through their local schools. If you haven't used them, we don't want you to miss out. Click here to find out more.

Hello from Mumsnet Towers...

Where we're trying to decide which book to choose from the fab four on book club's March shortlist. Please vote for your choice, grab a copy and join the next discussion on Tues 30 March. Book club needs your critical faculties!

Next up in the warm and welcoming webchat seat is Douglas Alexander, minister for international development, on Tues 2 Mar at 1.15pm. There's still time to put life-altering questions to Nic Paton, author of The Complete Career Makeover, in his Q&A. And don't miss the responses to your questions by author Cathy Glass.

Bread-maker devotees and coffee-maker connoisseurs, your moment has come. We've got a shiny new Household goods section in reviews, waiting for your discerning views on all manner of household white goods and appliances.

And if you'd like more dosh to spend on said appliances, then you need to fill in our surveys. Tell Holiday Autos about holidays with kids and you could win £250 for the store of your choice.

Now for this week's parenting news...

Cost of raising kids goes through the roof: The average cost of raising a child to the age of 21 has broken the £200,000 barrier for the first time, according to figures released this week. A report from the UK's largest friendly society, LV=, found parents shell out £9,610 a year to feed, clothe and educate each new member of their family. The new total of £201,809 does not include private school fees, and is up 43% over the seven years since the survey began in 2003. Parents in outer London face the biggest cost per child – a record £220,769. Yorkshire and Humber is the cheapest area at £177,706. (Guardian 23.02.10)

Politicians 'out of touch' on families: 80% of adults believe politicians are out of touch with the realities of family life, according to a poll for the Family Commission. It found that many people think public services lack understanding about families - 17% of those questioned said there were no family-friendly public services at all, only a third thought hospitals were welcoming to families and only 40% said GP surgeries were. Family Commission chair Esther Rantzen said more services ought to be accessible at times when parents could use them. (BBC News 22.02.10)

CELEBRATE MOTHER'S DAY EVE To celebrate the release of Motherhood, starring Uma Thurman, we've announced a new date for your calendar - Mother's Day Eve on Saturday 13th March. This gives Mums the chance to have a well deserved evening off! To find out more, visit www.motherhoodmovie.com.

Other stories in brief

Hot threads

Quote of the week LibrasBiscuitsOfFortune takes issue with the idea that every parent's goal is their children's happiness: "I think you will find most parents on mumsnet have a different goal and that is getting to 7pm without killing either themselves, one of their children or/and breaking any laws."

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).

LET'S LOSE THE LABELS! Single parents often get a negative press. Gingerbread's fantastic new campaign challenges prejudice against single parents and is backed by Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and lots of celebs. Watch the ad, add your vote, and ask your MP to sign the pledge at www.gingerbread.org.uk.

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: The Secret Millionaire, C4, 1 March, 9pm
Apparently it's aaaaall about this show these days in TV-land. Fresh-faced young creatives are pitching their cotton socks off, y'know, with all those great Monkey Tennis and Snog, Humiliate, Defile formats, but commissioners are sending them away with the instruction to 'come up with the next Secret Millionaire'. While we await the Next Big Idea, the original and best is back for a new series, and this week mega-rich Dawn Gibbons,  a 'floor couturier' (no, of course I don't know what that means) leaves her Cheshire mansion and heads to Bristol to volunteer for, amongst others, a project that helps women who are trapped in their role as sex workers.
Discuss this show (and others) in our Telly Addicts Talk forum.

Recipe of the week: fourlittlefeet's spinach and ricotta pasta
This dreamy and creamy pasta dish covers all the bases - super-speedy to make and gets some nutritious (and seasonal) green veg into your children. Result!
You can review this week's recipe here - or why not post one yourself?

That's all. We're off to brag about our vacuum cleaner's skirting board prowess in Household goods.
Love, MNHQ

'STUCK IN THE MIDDLE' SYNDROME "DD is not in special needs, not in gifted and talented, but is 'average' and so gets no extra attention," say many parents. No-one wants to be 'stuck in the middle' or described as 'average' (our most disliked word!). Visit www.starstudent.co.uk to see how our bespoke programmes tailored to your child’s needs, passions and personal goals will help your child shine (brightly!).

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