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Hello from Mumsnet HQ...

Where we've had a rather busy week with the nervous proud unveiling of Brave New Mumsnet. We know there are still a few ishoos, so we're keeping up a constant supply of tea and biscuits to the shed to force encourage the techs to get 'em fixed. In the meantime, if you're having any problems finding your way around Talk, do check here.

What with all the snow, we had to postpone the launch party of our lovely new book for a week but Toddlers: The Mumsnet Guide is out now in all good bookshops. Tell us what you think here (as long as it's nice) and if you need some brilliant free publicity posters to brighten up your GP surgery, nursery, church hall, newsagents etc, just drop a line with 'mumsnet' as the subject. 

As if that's not enough launching, we're celebrating two new MN partners offering you fab discounts - ward off winter blues by planning your fair weather wardrobe with Joules and start thinking about this summer's holiday with Thomson Alfresco.

And what better way to while away chilly evenings than with The Enchanted April, February's book of the month, before the book club chat on 24 Feb?

Now for this week's parenting news ...

School closures 'unnecessary': Parents, business leaders and education campaigners condemned the decision to close 8,000 schools across the UK this week, even though the snowy conditions had eased. In Birmingham and Bradford, all schools were shut, but the weather was nowhere near as severe as had been expected. Schools minister Jim Knight warned that, if classes were cancelled too quickly, the message that every lesson counts would be undermined (Guardian 04.02.09). Meanwhile fresh snowfall across much of England and Wales on Thursday led to a decision to close many schools again (BBC Online 05.02.09).

Childhood under threat: Adults' aggressive pursuit of personal success is the greatest threat to the future of British children, according to the Children's Society. In a major report, it blames family break-up, unprincipled advertising, too much competition in education and income inequality as big contributing factors to the damage being done to children in the UK today. Among its recommendations are the abolition of SATs and league tables, a ban on advertising aimed at under-12s, and the establishment of one high-quality youth centre per 5,000 young people (BBC Online 02.02.09).

Other stories in brief

Many pregnant women who smoke do not approach doctors for help to quit because they think they will be 'judged', a poll for the NHS suggests - of 224 pregnant smokers questioned, 25% said they had not sought help because of worries about being criticised (BBC Online 04.02.09); schools must do all they can to keep down the cost to parents of uniforms and school activities, children's secretary Ed Balls says, after a report found parents spend an average of £683 a year on children at primary school and £1,195 on children at secondary school (BBC Online 04.02.09); measuring hormone levels during pregnancy may predict a woman's risk of postnatal depression, say researchers (BBC Online 03.02.09); infant chimpanzee orphans given special emotionally rich 'mothering' are more advanced than human infants, according to a study from Portsmouth University - the researcher said her study was a 'stark warning' that doing no more than looking after a (human) child's physical needs could leave that child with long-term developmental problems (Guardian 02.02.09).

PERFORM Boost your child’s confidence, improve their concentration, give them a creative outlet to make new friends and have fun. Try a FREE class at Perform (4-8s), Perform Plus (8-12s) or Mini Ps (3 months – 3 years). 120 venues across London and the SE.

Hot threads

New mum's routine - where on earth do you start?
Downs and ups - how do you cope with reflux while breastfeeding?
Yummy mummy - is it possible to look good if you've got under-fives?
Single parents - are there effective ways to challenge the stereotypes?
Child deprivation - what did your parents refuse to buy for you?


Lots of lovely loot for you to win this week. First up, a brilliant August family holiday to the Netherlands (including ferry crossing), courtesy of Thomson Alfresco. Plus, five £50 Joules vouchers, two years' of Special K and £150 I Love Jeans vouchers, five Disney Bolt goodie bags and three £75 sets of Little Label kids' clothes. Find out what you have to do to enter here.

Quote of the week

Guadalupe shares her mother's approach to ganglions: "My mum hit hers with a Bible and it went. She also tried the same thing with what she thought was one on her foot and couldn't walk for two weeks."

IT ALL ADDS UP: try Cornhill Direct's household economy calculator and work out who does most in your home and how much you would get if you were paid market rates for domestic chores. Give your feedback here and have the chance to win £100 of vouchers.

And this week's hot tips from Mumsnetters if you're looking for a day out include:

Aitch's TV round-up: Free Agents, Channel 4, Fri 13 February, 10pm
Friends, here is something to look out for when you're reading the newspaper… the word 'promising' with reference to a new comedy series. It means so much more than simply 'shows promise'. In fact, what it means is that the reviewer has cracked under pressure. It is shorthand for, "Oh GOD, I don't know. It could be good, it could be horrible – I'm not paid enough to Do Pronouncements. But I don't want to look stupid in six weeks when everyone's saying how awful it is… How can I say something that offers no great opinion either way? I know…" Anyway. Free Agents is a new comedy series and it's great. That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it. Read more...

Carmenere's recipe of the week: Nicola27's Nutty Caramelised Pear Crumble
A bit of rib-sticking, indulgent comfort is what's needed to counter the snow and sludge outside. Hot, sweet and sticky, this crumble is a pudding to seek solace in and will satisfy kids and grown-ups alike (but possibly not WeightWatchers leaders).

That's your lot, we're off to harass help BigTech.
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