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KIDS COMPANY CHRISTMAS For thousands of children December 25th promises to be the loneliest day of the year. Kids Company will be open on Christmas Day to welcome some 1,500 children who have nowhere else to go. We provide lunch, gifts, activities and, most importantly, show them that someone cares. By sponsoring a child’s Christmas you can help give the children at Kids Company a Christmas they’ll feel proud to talk about. For more info, click here.

Hello from Mumsnet HQ...

...Where we ask that you pause from cooking, wrapping and stressing long enough to answer our very quick (and slightly random) Christmas poll. In return, we'll automatically enter you into our competitions.

GoodWilfToAllMN is currently ahead in our Christmas name change comp. But if you prefer one of the other witty and wonderful names on the list, then vote, vote, vote.

Finally, if a new book is always on your Christmas list then make it our January book of the month. Ask for (or treat yourself) to I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and prepare for a great feel-good read over the Xmas break (in between the wrapping, cooking and stressing etc).

Now for this week's parenting news ...

Couch potato baby warning: Children are being turned into mini couch potatoes by a growing reliance on pushchairs and baby seats, child development expert Sally Goddard Blythe warned this week. She said more and more babies spend the first years of life in moulded seats and strollers, or watching a TV screen - and as a result, they miss out on crawling, which lays the foundations for reading and writing by teaching co-ordination, balance and motor skills. "Modern baby equipment may seem like a godsend to tired and overworked parents trying to juggle carrying a baby to and from the shops, navigating a busy shopping centre or simply trying to carry out household chores…but there is a danger, as with all labour saving devices, that the device takes over the function of the parent." (Daily Mail 16.12.08)

Obesity roots 'pre-five': Most excess weight gain happens before children reach school age, researchers told government ministers this week in a study that will suggest initiatives to prevent childhood obesity should target parents of pre-schoolers. The EarlyBird Diabetes study of 233 children from birth to puberty, published in the journal Pediatrics, shows one in four children aged four to five in England is overweight. At birth, the children in the study were of similar weight to babies of 25 years ago – but by puberty they had gained more weight compared with children of the same age in the 1980s. And the bulk of this excess weight had been gained before the children were five years old (BBC Online 17.12.08).

Other stories in brief

Parents of children with special needs feel they have to battle with the system to get what their children need, an inquiry found (BBC Online 16.12.08); a researcher working on head lice has offered to pay £1 per lice for live insects he can remove from children’s heads. Dr Gerald Coles, who has been researching head lice for more than 30 years, said the insects would be used to develop more effective shampoo treatments (Daily Telegraph 17.12.08); 58% of parents use films to broach the subject of sex and relationships with their children – but rather than squirming with embarrassment, 75% of children aged 11 to 14 actually want to talk about these issues (Daily Telegraph 16.12.08); The National Assessment Agency (NAA) was abolished, and two key figures were suspended, after a damning report on the delays in this summer’s national curriculum tests described confusion, chaos and a lack of communication between the NAA and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (Times 17.12.08).

HOTELS.COM VOUCHER For the chance to win a £250 hotel voucher from, the world’s leading hotel bookings site, click here and answer a few simple questions about your travel habits.

Hot threads

Flights of fancy - what would your fantasy round robin say?
Brazilian before birth - is it brave or absolutely bananas?
I love your big squishy bum - 'flattering' things your LOs say to you.
Plumptious Christmas beauty - do you love or loathe Nigella?
Orson Cart - what do you call your baby if you've got a horrid surname?


Great prizes as usual - and you've got until Jan 1st to enter:

Quote of the week

NotanOtter described her attempt at domestic goddessery: "I have bought five boxes of tiny baubles and just put them in a large flatish serving bowl in the hall at toddler eye height...dreamy...I see the babies looking in it and just think 'I hope they remember that when they are big'."

Looking for a Christmas theatre production for your children? Here's what Mumsnetters are saying about the shows they've seen…

The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre in London is "fantastic" for fours and over, or a not-too-wriggly three year old (Bubble99)
Watershed Productions has Horrid Henry in London ("I really, really enjoyed it, as did my kids and dh" – TheBrayingBanshee) and Charlie and Lola in Manchester.
The Gruffalo at the Duchess Theatre in London is "a wonderful piece of physical theatre," gushes islandofsodor.

Carmenere's recipe of the week: LemonMagnolia's Potato Latkes
In the chaotic run-up to Christmas it might have skipped most people's notice that next week is also Hannukah, so in the spirit of inclusiveness we've thrown in a typical Hannukah recipe. Potato Latkes are easy, kids love them, they make a fab breakfast with eggs, a great starter with smoked salmon and an excellent canape when topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of dill.

That's it for two whole weeks. See you on the other side.

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