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MUMSNETTERS, WE WANT TO GIVE YOU THE BEST START TO 2009 From our holiday homes to our kids' clubs, from busy seaside resorts to relaxing spas, we want to wow you, impress you and make you feel great. Visit now for more information on our family holidays.

Hello from Mumsnet HQ...

Where we're giddy with excitement because the first copy of Toddlers: The Mumsnet Guide, penned by your good selves (with a bit of help from MP), has dropped onto the Towers' doormat. It'll be in the shops in the next few weeks or you can pre-order from here if you like. And as we're talking toddlers, we're also doing a survey to find out how you get your toddler to do what you want (snort). Complete it and you'll be entered into a prize draw for a stack of lovely Bloomsbury books.

Yet more New Year cheer in the form of our latest partner, Baby Friendly Boltholes, who are offering Mumsnetters exclusive offers and discounts.

Not to be outdone in the January sales stakes, we've knocked a third off Mumsnet Xmas cards - so buy yours now and you can positively wallow in smugness and thriftiness.

And our 2009 live webchats kick off on Monday 12 Jan when we welcome domestic energy expert Charlotte Lawrance from 1-2pm. If you want to find out how to cut your energy bills, join us or post your question here.

Now for this week's parenting news ...

Inside track on teenagers: Inner-London teenagers are the least likely in Britain to take drugs and drink alcohol, according to a major study of children’s habits and happiness. The report, published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, also found that adolescents in the north of England are the most emotionally secure and that bullying is most prevalent in the Isle of Wight and least likely in Merseyside. Anne Longfield, of charity 4Children, said drug problems were sometimes more common in affluent areas because children had disposable income but didn't see their parents much (Guardian 08.01.09).

Schools for sale: At least 25 independent schools have been quietly put up for sale as pupil numbers decline in the economic downturn. But schools aren’t publicising the fact that they’re looking for buyers, fearing a mass desertion by parents. One school in the Midlands had to close after news of its possible sale leaked out. Schools currently on the lookout for a buyer include a £3.25m primary in southern England and a £1.5m prep offered as a "quick sale" (Times 08.01.09).

Other stories in brief

The UK has been named as one of the worst countries in Europe for measles, with case levels dashing global hopes of eradicating the disease by 2010 - a Lancet study says that in 2006-07 most of the 12,000 cases in Europe were found in the UK and four other nations (BBC Online 07.01.09); a woman who lost control of her Toyota 4x4, swerved on to a kerb and killed a toddler in his pushchair has been jailed for seven years (Guardian 07.01.09); the risk of autism increases for firstborn children and children of older parents - it triples after a mother turns 35 and a father reaches 40 (Guardian 07.01.09); France's justice minister, Rachida Dati, returned to work yesterday less than five days after giving birth to a baby girl by caesarean section; Ms Dati recently told reporters she had "a complicated private life", sparking a national guessing game over the identity of the father (Daily Telegraph 07.01.09).

JOIN THE NATION'S BIGGEST CHILDREN'S SING-ALONG I CAN's Chatterbox Challenge, supported by Openreach, from 2-8 February, and raise vital funds to help children who struggle to communicate. For your FREE activity pack and your chance to win a LeapFrog Tag Reading System worth £39.99 go to or call 0845 108 5303.

Hot threads

Thanks for nothing - read the saga of the letter, the receipt and the disappointed Grandad.
Controlled crying - or possibly uncontrollable hysteria (and that's just you).
Sticking it to The Man - did you choose breastfeeding as a political act?
Slebs or skeletons - who's lurking in your family tree?
Sticky situation - been missing Morningpaper? Read her terrible confession.


A great new crop of prizes to usher in 2009. Find out how to enter and win a:

Quote of the week

RubyRioja wistfully remembers sex before her children were too small to get out of bed: "At one point, we could manage foreplay and a finale in the time it took the Fisher Price mobile to run down. Ah, those were the days."

STATE SCHOOL SURVEY The Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum has devised a survey for parents and would like your views. So if you have a child in a state primary school, and would like the chance to win £250 of vouchers for SpaceNK, Boden or The White Company, please fill it in now.

Looking for somewhere (warm) to take the kids? Mumsnetters recommend:

Carmenere's recipe of the week: Martianbishop's beef cobbler
We were going to choose a healthy, low-fat, New Year-type of recipe but, given the weather, we scrapped that in favour of something warming and rib-sticking. Martianbishop's recipe is big on comfort and flavour and, because it uses stewing beef, easy on your apres-Xmas purse.

That's your lot, we're off to cobble some beef together.
Mumsnet Towers

BABY CLOTHES SAVINGS Private view at Oh Baby London on Thursday 5 Feb, 6-9pm, with 20% off any purchases, plus a photography discount or exclusive voucher for Mumsnetters. Visit the Oh Baby website for the address and to see its range.

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