Wonderful Wooden Spoon Characters

Wonderful Wooden Spoon Characters Inspired by our Kids in the kitchen pack we received from Betta Living and the craft pack from the Tots100 Bostic Craft Club this month we decided to make our own wooden spoon characters to use as puppets. So let me introduce you to Alice, Jim and Sheena (the punk rocker)! We had great fun making our wooden spoon puppets. Materials
  1. Wooden Spoons
  2. Fabric Scraps
  3. Embroidery floss scraps
  4. pens
  5. Fabric Glue
  6. Pipe cleaners
  7. Sharpies
wooden spoon puppets We basically just had loads of fun making our wooden spoon characters by glueing on clothes which were just scraps of fabric and adding some embroidery floss hair.  We even added pipe cleaner arms. We then drew on faces and left them to dry before putting on a show, which of course Sheena was the star! bostic  
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Tips for preparing for going back to school after the holidays

For me and the boys the hardest part of going back to school is reestablishing a good bedtime routine and time after the more relaxed days and nights of the holidays, however, I find that with some planning and preparation I can ease the transition back to school with the ideas below.  This makes going back to school so much easier for the kids and therefore, me. Tips for preparing for going back to school after the holidays Re-establish routines A couple of weeks before the school day starts again, we make a schedule for our typical school day and record all the timings and what needs doing.  We work towards regulating bed time in the final week before school, which ensures that body clocks are in sync with our Autumn timetable.  I try and ensure that I plan activities on a morning for that week before school so we all get in to the habit of getting up, breakfasted and dressed to a timescale. back to school routine and bag checklist Set Expectations Even though my boys are eight and nine, I still find that a back to school chart is really helpful in establishing what they and I need to do each day, so we take some time to each make one which includes what we have to do each day, including the timings. For the first time ever this also means that Maxi will be doing homework (Year 5), so we will be working on a homework timetable. Back to school routine Have a timetable/calender central We use an Organised Mum planner at home and the boys have the days that they need PE kit, musical instruments etc on the calender.  it is their responsibility to keep me informed of changes and taking their things to school. I totally copied the fab backpack checklist from J Daniel4's Mom Bag checklist Nurture independence One thing that makes our back to school transition so much easier is that I expect the boys to be independent and to manage things on their own.  They are both expected to take control of things in their classrooms at school, so I take advantage of this at home. A place for everything We have a place for the boys to out their school bags and paperwork each day.  It is important that they follow this, so I can check their bags for paperwork and act on it.  They also came in and wash their water bottles before refilling them and putting them in the fridge for the following morning. Do as much as you can the night before This is one of the things that is key for out mornings running smoother.  I AM NOT a morning person, so will stay in bed as long as I can, by doing more the night before I take the strain out of what can be a moody morning.  This means getting clothes ready, bags ready, checking the calender, filling water bottles, paying for school lunches in advance and prpping breakfast. Have a trial run We do a dress rehearsal a couple of days before school starts, just to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  For us this means having the bike locks and keys ready (the boys cycle or scoot to school), setting alarms and also helps make sure we know what is expected for all of us. Mum's need to be prepared too Being prepared for the boys going back to school means that I am not stamping their names in uniform the night before they go back to school.  It also means that we have tried on all the school uniform and that they have everything they need.  It also means getting back in to a routine with breakfasts and dinners and more importantly making sure that they have an afternoon snack to come home too.
THe Mad House
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A weeks school lunch Bento Box ideas

Just because my kids eat school dinners doesn't mean that they don't need a packed lunch occasionally and I have been a fan of Grace at Easts Amazing for a long time.  Her lunches looks fantastic and really aspirational, however, as you can see from the fab post from Grace below they are easily achievable with some planning using what you have in your home. Allow me to introduce myself – I’m Grace, mum of two boys, and I usually blog over at Eats Amazing, where I share ideas and inspiration for presenting healthy children’s food in new and exciting ways. I’m probably most well-known for the creative bento-style lunches that I make daily for my older son, and that is why I am here today. Jen very kindly asked me to share a week’s worth of my packed lunches with you, and I was very happy to oblige back to school bento lunches Making a packed lunch day in, day out can quickly become a very boring task, and when my son first started school I wasn’t looking forward to the endless lunch packing I could see stretching ahead of me. I had already struggled to keep them interesting when I was only packing two lunches a week for pre-school, so when I stumbled across some photos of bento lunches online I was instantly attracted to the idea. As well as being eco-friendly, bento boxes are incredibly flexible – depending on the box that you choose to use you really can pack almost any food in them. Initially, I primarily concentrated on packing healthy foods, but I soon discovered that with a tiny bit of extra effort I could get creative with the lunches too, and have never looked back! I estimate that I have made close to 400 lunches to date, and I’m still enjoying the process! I’ve picked out five of my favourite packed lunches to share with you today. Eats Amazing UK - Frog themed bento lunch This frog themed lunch was packed in a fun lunchbox made by TUMTUM. I packed some roast beef sandwiches on wholemeal bread, a mini Babybel cheese, cucumber slices, a mandarin orange, a few raspberries and a strawberry, plus a portion of mixed cranberries and raisins. I made it extra fun by cutting the sandwiches into frog shapes (using a special cutter kit by CuteZcute, which comes with an outer cutter and several interchangeable animal faces), cutting triangles from the cucumber to make lily pads, peeling the orange and gently pulling apart the segments to make a flower, cutting a flower into the wax of the Babybel cheese using a mini cutter, and adding a grass shaped silicone divider and some food picks (frogs, a leaf and a bee) to decorate. I also created a few edible flies by adding sunflower seeds wings to some of the raisins. Eats Amazing UK - Simple Zoo themed lunch This zoo themed lunch was fun to make and simpler than it looks. It’s packed in the Yumbox (one of my favourite lunch boxes), which has in-built compartments that make packing bento lunches really easy. The food was made up of some home-made tortilla crisps (to make, cut shapes from a tortilla wrap, brush them with oil and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes), houmous, a Babybel cheese, a hard-boiled egg, cucumber slices and some strawberries and red grapes. I made it fun by using an elephant cutter on the tortilla crisps, popping the Babybel into a silicone cupcake case and adding alphabet food picks, shaping the egg into a panda using an egg mould (egg moulds are really easy to use and so effective!), cutting the cucumber slices into flowers and adding cute animal food picks and a few grass shaped silicone dividers. Eats Amazing UK - Tortoise pitta pocket bento lunch I made this tortoise themed lunch to celebrate world turtle day. The food was a wholemeal pitta bread, stuffed with mayo, lettuce and slices of roast beef, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, a couple of strawberries and a peeled and sliced kiwi fruit. I got creative with it by turning the pitta bread and carrot sticks into a tortoise (I drew the details on with an edible marker pen), cutting ‘bite marks’ from the cucumber using the edge of a mini hand shaped cutter and adding food picks (alphabet, clover and leaf picks) to decorate. Eats Amazing UK - Hairy Maclary book themed lunch for World Book Day This Hairy Maclary lunch was part of a series of special book themed lunches that I made for World Book Day earlier this year. It was a simple lunch – a quesadilla (tortilla wrap filled with cheddar cheese, chopped ham, finely chopped red pepper and chopped tomato before toasting in a dry frying pan), grapes and natural yoghurt. I turned it into a themed lunch by drawing Hairy Maclary on the tortilla with edible marker pens, adding dog picks to the grapes and freezing the yoghurt into bone shapes using a silicone mould. I often get asked about the frozen yoghurt shapes – to keep the lunch cool I pack the lunchbox in an insulated bag with a small ice pack above and below it. I’m told that the frozen yoghurt usually holds its shape but is soft enough to eat with a spoon by lunchtime. Eats Amazing UK - Star themed bento lunch This star themed lunch was packed in a tiered Japanese bento box. The food was a quick pasta salad – pasta, finely chopped yellow pepper and carrot with a simple dressing of olive oil and white wine vinegar. In the second tier I packed shredded ham, a mini Babybel cheese and some cucumber slices. I also added a reusable food pouch filled with yoghurt and an apple to his lunch bag (not shown). I made this lunch fun by using space-themed pasta shapes, cutting stars from the carrot and pepper with a mini cutter, adding rocket food picks to the ham, cutting a star from the wax of the Babybel and popping it into a star-shaped silicone cupcake case and cutting the cucumber into stars. I hope that you feel as inspired by Grace's lunches as I do.  If you have any back to school posts then do come back and add them to the link up below:
THe Mad House
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The benefits for your child from eating school meals

I am a huge believer in school meals.  My boys have both had school lunches since they started school and I firmly believe that there are huge benefits for kids from eating school dinners.

Free school meals for infant aged children in England

  As from this September all infant aged children in England (reception, year 1 and year 2) are entitled to free school lunches.  For me this would be a saving of over £900 (although my boys are older).  This was piloted in Durham and was a big success.  Children in the pilot areas quickly moved ahead of their peers elsewhere, by almost a term.  Hungry children can’t concentrate and it helped solved the problem of  feeding pupils who are “not quite poor enough”. These children come from low-income families who don't quite qualify for free school meals, but can't afford to pay for them – or to put together a good packed lunch.  Want to know more about the free school meals then do check out the Department for Education  and the Children's Food Trust. To help publicise this the Department of Education are asking people to share their #SchoolMealMemories.  I have to admit that I have pretty decent school meal memories and the boys school dinners are ace. SCHOOL DINNERS facebook  

The benefits of eating school dinners

  1. Eating a balanced meal at lunchtime is important for concentration.   Hungry children can not concentrate
  2. Peer pressure - My boys will often try a new food if they see their friends eat it.  This is a great way to introduce new foods.
  3. The UK now has the highest rate of obesity in Europe with one in three children overweight or obese by Year 6.  School lunches are a nutritionally balanced meal.
  4. School lunches provide the opportunity for pupils to sit down and enjoy their meal whilst developing social skills that will be very important later in life.
  5. The boys school dinners provide three of their five a day
  6. Research by the Children's Food Trust shows that school meals are now consistently more nutritious than packed lunches, giving the children who eat them a better foundation for good health.
  7. A Children's Food Trust study has shown that children in primary schools are 3 times more likely to concentrate in the classroom following improvements to the food and dining room 
  8. I believe that by eating a warm school lunch and being taught about making healthy food choices that we are giving our children a solid foundation in food and equipping them with the skills for years to come.
  9. Table manners and cutlery skills come from everyday use and seeing how other people eat.  You would be surprised at just how many children can not use a knife and fork or talk with their mouth full. For some children lunchtime will be the only time they eat at a table or in company.
  10. Don't just take my word for it, this survey on why Teachers think school meals are important is eye opening.
Just to show that I am not totally against school lunches, Cass my dear friend from Diary of a Frugal Family gives her kids pack lunches and this is her post on them.
THe Mad House
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#CapriSunSchool Twitter Party – Friday 29th August 2014, 1-2pm

CB-Twitter-Party-Post-Disclosure-June2014-TM Do you love a good Twitter Party?  You know we do and we’re excited to host a party about your back to school lunchbox ideas.  On Friday 29th August at 1pm BST, please join us for the#CapriSunSchool Twitter Party where we'll be discussing juice drinks and how they can be incorporated into your back to school routine and healthy lunchboxes, and giving you a chance to win prizes! #CapriSunSchool-Twitter-Party08_29 Do your kids have packed lunch for school?  Mine don't regularly, but when they do I have to admit that we are fans of Capri Sun.  I love that I can freeze them and the pouches keep the rest of the food cold in the boys lunch box. We are big fans of Capri Sun fruit crush which is great for kids who like mine have adverse reactions to additives.  Oh and I also love that I can upcycle the pouches in to pencil cases.

Join me and RSVP for the #CapriSunSchool Twitter Party on SoFabChats!

   DATE: Friday 29th August 2014 TIME:  1:00 - 2:00 pm BST PRIZES: 5 - £60 Tesco Gift Cards EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 - £30 Tesco Gift Card HOSTS: @Jessies_kitchen, @keepupjonesfami@mum_themadhouse PARTY LEAD: @tsue1136 RULES: #CapriSunSchool Twitter Party Official Rules RSVP & PARTY GRID: #CapriSunSchool Twitter Party Page How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats! TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party - sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page! TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page! TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible! TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win! TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party! TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns - they are slower paced and easier to follow! TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendarto find more fun parties to attend! Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!
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Loo Roll Balloon Rocket

Rocket Bingo are hosting a competition where you have to make a Loo Roll Rocket to be in with a chance to win an iPod 7th Generation. Now loo rolls are something that I have a lot of in our junk modeling box otherwise known as the recycling bin and as it isn't bin day till next week, we thought we would spend the afternoon making our own loo roll rocket.  But my boys do love to challenge me and they insisted that our rocket actually move! Don't worry your rockets don't have to work the competition, in fact you can find out all the details of the competition here

How to make a loo roll rocket that flies 

  making a loo roll rocket that works What you need
  • Loo Rolls
  • Washi tape
  • Wool
  • Straws
  • Balloon
What to do I asked the boys how they wanted to decorate their rockets and they decided that washi tape was the way forward, so I got out my stash and we had some fun decorating the loo rolls.  You could decorate your loo rolls in any way you wanted, paint, stickers, glitter or pens, the tape was a great as it encouraged the boys manual dexterity as they tried to keep the tape lined up on the rolls and an added bonus for me was that it wasn't messy. We then taped a straw inside each of the rockets and threaded some twine through it.  We tied the twine to two chairs and then blew up the baloon before taping it to the loo roll. We then let go of the balloon and wow the rocket moved on its own!  IT WORKS! Don't just take my word for it, take a look at our video below How to Enter

The competition closes at 23.59 on the 31st of August (see the site for full details).  But entry is easy, all you need to do is make a loo roll rocket, share it off on Facebook, and read the small print for the full terms and conditions.

So why not make the most of the rest of the summer holidays and get crafting with the kids and make your own loo roll rocket.  If you do enter I would love to see it so do come back and share a link to it in the comments. 

Good luck and have fun!

Full details here on Rocket Bingo’s site, competition is not hosted by The Mad House, the promoter is Rocket Bingo and this is a featured post on their behalf.

Looking for more summer fun inspiration then do come and join me over at Mum in the Mad House Facebook page 
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Encouraging learning at home

I have blogged previously that we are not big fans of homework here in the mad house, however, I am aware that it is going to become a necessary evil for my boys in the years to come and we have made the decision that from this year (year 5, aged 9/10) we are going to encourage Maxi to learn at home and do any allocated homework. 10 ways to encourage learning There have been a number of reasons for this decision, including the fact that a couple of their friends are starting senior school and they will have over an hour homework each evening and also that other friends although not local are receiving tutoring for their 11+  using tutors such as Fleet Tutors.  In fact MadDad tutored Math's GCSE and A'Level when we first met.  Tutoring isn't always about just improving grades, but about raising confidence and giving children the encouragement they need. We feel that the time has come to start the preparation for future learning.  We want to keep this encouragement as simple as possible and in fact make homework and learning fun and not a chore. We have been encouraging learning at home though play and reading throughout the boys lives at home, so the transition to doing homework, doesn't scare me or the boys at all.

Tips for encouraging learning at home

  1. Fill your home with books.  Both the boys love facts and fact books.  We have and still are fostering a love of reading in our children.
  2. Encourage discussion and opinion.  I want my children to be free thinkers, to understand that having an opinion is fine and that they have to back up that opinion with reason and facts.
  3. Make it fun.  Both formal and informal learning is much easier when fun.  If a book they need to read does not stimulate them, find an alternative one that does or another way for them to glean the information.  This too applies if using a tutor,  make sure that your child finds them inspiring (has a connection) and enjoys learning with them and that it isn't a chore
  4. Make learning a participation sport.  I freely admit to my children that I do not know everything and that I too will have to learn somethings with them.  Spellings are a communal event, they test me (I am pants at spelling and I test them) usually during dinner or on the walk to school.
  5. Encourage learning through play from a young age.  Play matters and is key to everything your child is and will be.
  6. Use real world examples.  Do science at home, encourage children to cook and engage your child in real world learning, ask questions and make connections.
  7. Give them a place to do homework whilst supported by you.  We use the kitchen table and have everything the boys will need in a bureaux in the kitchen.  I can be preparing dinner whilst they are working and I make myself available to them as they need me.
  8. Celebrate achievements.  Make time to celebrate your children's learning achievements and set clear expectations of them.  My boys know that 100% effort is non negotiable regardless of the outcome. Offer positive reinforcement to inspire them to keep learning and being challenged.
  9. Show interest in what they are learning.  Do not make results and scores the focus of your questions.  Show a true interest in what they are studying.  Having your child put what they are learning into their own words will reinforce that learning.
  10. Set a good example by showing them that learning is pleasurable and is a lifelong process.  Additionally, parents who exude an overall positive attitude about their own responsibilities show children that while all people have tasks to complete, doing them with care and enthusiasm is far better than simply giving the minimum effort.

 THe Mad House

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Back to school lunchbox jokes

My boys love jokes and now as they are getting older their jokes are actually laugh out loud funny most of the time.  We have pulled together some of our favorite back to school jokes.  Perfect for popping in school bags  and into lunch boxes. 25 Back to school Jokes What kind of school do you go to if you’re an ice cream man? Sundae school. A boy returns home from his first day of school, and his mother asks, “What did you learn today?” “Not enough,” he  replies. “They said I have to go back tomorrow. Teacher: How can you make so many mistakes in just one day ? Pupil: I get up early ! Teacher: Andrew, where is your homework? Pupil I ate it. Teacher: Why?! Pupil: You said it was piece of cake! Why was the teacher wearing sunglasses to school? She had bright students!

Who the king of all school stationery? The ruler.

What food do math teachers eat? Square meals! Why didn't the sun go to college? Because it already had a million degrees! Why does it take pirates so long to learn the alphabet?
Because they spend years at C! Why did the student throw his watch out of the school window? He wanted to see time fly. Why were the early days of history called the dark ages?
Because there were so many knights! "Class, we will have only half a day of school this morning"  We will have the other half this afternoon. Why was the teacher cross-eyed?
She couldn't control her pupils! What happened to the plant in math class? It grew square roots. Which hand is it better to write with? Neither, you should use a pen! What do you do if a teacher rolls her eyes at you?
Pick them up and roll them back to her! What kind of school do you go to if you’r a surfer? Boarding school Why would a music teacher might need a ladder? The reach the high notes. Why is a math book always unhappy? Because it always has lots of problems What makes a Cyclops such an effective teacher? He has only one pupil. Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9 What is a math teacher's favorite food? Pi! Pupil: Would you punish me for something I didn’t do?
Teacher: Of course not.
Pupil: Good, because I didn't do my homework. What is snake's favorite subject?
Hiss-tory! Why did the two 4's skip lunch? They already 8 What do librarians take with them when they go fishing? Bookworms! Teacher: Why did you eat your homework?
Pupil: Because I don’t have a dog. What's a teacher's favorite nation? Expla-nation. Why didn't the skeleton go to the school dance? He didn't have anyBODY to take. Who succeeded the first Emperor of Rome?
Pupil: The second one! Why aren't you doing very well in history?
Because the teacher keeps asking about things that happened before I was born!

Looking for more kids jokes

a joke a day  kids lunch box jokes I love these printable knock knock jokes from Happy Go Lucky. How about these fab free printable lunch bag jokes from Emily Beale Nurturestore has 24 Christmas jokes perfect for advent calenders. Kids Activities Blog has 35 Jokes to make kids laugh and Kids Animal Jokes Teach Mama has super silly lunchbox jokes Lunch jokes for kids from Blooming Homstead Play Activities has 20 funny jokes Kindergarten Basics has lunchbox notes and jokes Over 50 kid friendly lunch box jokes from Lasso the Moon More jokes for lunch boxes from The Taylor House Here are the MiniMads favorite joke books

THe Mad House
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First day of school photo ideas

How to you record your kids first day of school.  Since mine have been small I have taken a picture of them all decked out in their uniform with a list of their likes.  I love capturing all that first day excitement with my boys and it is a great way to see how much they have changed year on year.   So I have put together a great roundup of ways to record that first day at school. first day of school photo ideas We take a picture and then I picmonkey the boys likes on. Paging Fun Mum's does a great image with sidewalk chalk I love the idea of making my own chalkboard speech bubble to show their year in. Let's Lasso the Moon using a great small chalkboard. No chalk board then just use a notebook like Me and My Insanity Print off the date and their school year on a sheet of paper and do the same for the last day of the year too (I am never that organised withe the last day of the school year!) How about making a giant polaroid frame - this is so cool! I also love the idea of just taking a pic of those shoes all clean and unscuffed with their backpack and a sign. How cool would it be to buy a t-shirt for when they graduate and finally leave school and get a picture of them wearing it each year. Kids being camera shy, then take a photo of their first day outfit instead. I love how you can just share a little bit about them and what their want to be when they grow up too.  
THe Mad House
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#Mums4Tommys Twitter Party – Tuesday 26th August 2014, 1-2pm

CB-Twitter-Party-Post-Disclosure-June2014-TM Do you love a good Twitter Party?  You know we do and we’re excited to co-host a party about taking care of your baby’s skin as well as their clothes.  On Tuesday 26th August at 1pm BST, please join us for the #Mums4Tommys Twitter Party where we’ll be discussing how laundry detergent and fabric softener is an important choice for your baby, and giving you a chance to win prizes! #Mums4Tommys-Twitter-Party-8-26 With two boys who have sensitive skins and me who well seems to have issues with most things I put near or on my skin, I try and make sure that I stick to non bio and a good fabric conditioner.  Maxi suffered really badly from eczema until he turned four and we managed to control it by finding out what his triggers were Fabric detergent such as Persil Non Bio, together with Comfort Pure fabric softener can ensure that your clothes are clean, soft and fresh, at the same time as preventing irritation to baby’s skin. So I am delighted to be co-hosting the #Mums4Tommys Twitter Party on SoFabChats supporting Tommy’s baby charity. Join me and RSVP for the #Mums4Tommys Twitter Party on SoFabChats! DATE: Tuesday 26th August 2014 TIME:  1:00 - 2:00 pm BST PRIZES: 5 - £60 Asda Gift Cards EARLY BIRD PRIZE: 1 - £30 Asda Gift Card HOSTS: @Jessies_kitchen, @keepupjonesfamily@mum_themadhouse and@mymummyspennies PARTY LEAD: @JManMillerBug RULES: #Mums4Tommys Twitter Party Official Rules RSVP & PARTY GRID: #Mums4Tommys Twitter Party Page   How To Participate In A Twitter Party on SoFabChats!
  • TIP:  How to join a Twitter Party - sign in! Before party starts, click on the green “Sign In On Twitter” bar at the top of the page!
  • TIP: Who to follow at a Twitter Party? Follow the Party Team by clicking on the Twitter handle links on the RSVP page!
  • TIP: Want to win Twitter Party prizes? RSVP by clicking on RSVP button before you join the party, follow everyone on the Party Team, and tweet with the party hashtag during the party to be eligible!
  • TIP: How to win the Early Bird prize? Watch for chance to share a tweet when you RSVP for chance to win!
  • TIP: Special deals and brand coupons? Keep that option checked when you RSVP for the party!
  • TIP: New to Twitter parties? Watch your column and Party Team tweet columns - they are slower paced and easier to follow!
  • TIP: Where to find Twitter Parties? Check out the SoFabChats Twitter Party Calendar to find more fun parties to attend!
Find more helpful Twitter Party Tips on SoFabChats!  
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