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Birthday Party Holiday Themes: Christmas

If your child’s birthday falls on or around Christmas, you may be thinking about incorporating the holiday into your party’s theme. When Christmas draws near, you’ll likely find great deals on Christmas decorations and supplies at inexpensive places like your local dollar store or

If you can find a good deal on small Christmas stockings, use them for goodie bags for the kids to take home instead of regular party goodie bags. Another fun idea is to have Christmas music playing in the background throughout the party.

The following are some fun game and activity ideas for an Easter themed birthday party. Use these ideas or put your own spin on them to come up with some creative and fun activities for the kids.


Christmas Cookies

Buy or make sugar cookies ahead of time. If possible, have cookies in fun Christmas shapes, such as candy cane, reindeer and Christmas stocking shapes. Have plenty of frosting and sprinkles on hand, and allow each child to decorate a few cookies to take home. As a tip, use a disposable table cloth on the table, and perhaps even on the floor. This will help with the inevitable cleanup you’ll be doing later.

Decorate the Tree

Another great food activity is tree decorating. I’m not referring to your family’s Christmas tree (although that could be a great party activity for kids too, just avoid letting htem handle sharp hooks), but ice cream cone trees. Purchase inverted ice cream cones (the pointy-bottomed sugar cones) and let the kids go wild covering them with green frosting and decorating them with silver and gold candy balls, mini m ms;, shoestring licorice, sprinkles and mini gumdrops .

Music Games

Play the classic version of Musical Chairs and Limbo, but for a festive holiday twist, use upbeat Christmas music, such as “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” or “Jingle Bell Rock”.

Pass the Present

This game is similar to the ‘Hot Potato’ game, but instead you use presents. The person holding the present when the music stops gets to open and keep the present. Have that child sit out the next round. When the game is down to 2 kids, you may want to name them both the winners or be sure give the last child a prize, this way everyone wins something. Choose small inexpensive gifts so that everyone wins a prize.


Cut a four-foot Christmas tree shape out of felt and hang it on a door or the wall. Use another piece of felt or fabric and make a bullseye area in the center. Purchase ping pong balls and affix Velcro to them, these are snowballs. (Alternatively, you can find small, lightweight colored balls and make them the “ornaments). Have each child take a turn throwing the snowballs at the tree. Whoever gets closest to the bullseye winds a prize.

Tip: for all games with prizes, consider keeping the prizes under the Christmas tree and letting them select one from under the tree!


Holiday House Hunting

When you are selling your house there are a million questions that run on a continuous loop through your mind like when should I lower prices, how should I decorate, and should I keep my home on the market during the holidays? While I’m not so sure about the first few questions here are a few pros and cons of keeping your house on the market during the holiday season.


  1. Buyers that look for houses during the holidays are generally more serious about buying than others. It takes a lot of gumption to get out in the cold and house hunt so buyers willing to venture out into the elements are going to be much more intent on finding a house that is right for them.
  2. Your home is generally at its best during the holidays. With family coming and going and the spirit of giving in the air homes are generally more inviting during the holidays.
  3. Opportunities for house hunting are more prevalent. Many people use their weekends to rush around and see as many houses as possible, during the holidays vacations are longer and there isn’t such a harried feeling when looking at houses.
  4. Buyers are much more prepared to purchase a house at the end of the year and get the housekeeping out of the way. Buyers generally want to use their vacation for the most benefit and if they are seriously looking for a new home it could be the perfect expanse of time to wrap up loose ends and find that perfect home.
  5. The holidays put people in a different mindset. Where they may have been rushed and stressed during their other home buying experiences during the year, seeing family and friends and getting a chance to relax puts buyers at ease and makes it easier for them to say yes to the commitment of buying a home.


  1. Buyers will be able to see just what your home is lacking in regards to holiday function. Buyers that purchase a home earlier in the year don’t generally think about what it will be like for holiday functions, if you have it all set up they may see just what it is lacking.
  2. It’s much harder to be ready for a showing at a moment’s notice especially if you have company staying with you during the holidays.
  3. The timing at the end of the year is a bit off. Buyers generally want to close the sale in the month that they make it and sales generally take longer during the holiday season because it is the holiday season.
  4. Some buyers may think you are desperate. By keeping your house on the market during the slow season that is the holidays, some buyers may think you are just desperate to sell.
  5. Offers will be lower than list price. Because of the end of the year buyers will be more aware of what they were able to afford during the year and what they weren’t, making their budgets decrease accordingly. This breeds wariness in the buyer because they begin to doubt how much they really can afford.

As always, I am not a professional realtor and if you have serious questions about selling your home during the holiday or really any season you should talk to a realtor in your area. What time is right to sell is completely up to the individual.

Find Real Estate for Sale on Google

Google strives to be the most relevant and useful search tool in the world. That goal leads to many innovative and new ideas on how data and information can be used by consumers on the Internet. One great example of this can be found in the Google maps section of the search giants website.

When you go to Google maps, you can actually use the site to help you find property to buy. Forget a good book or a cheap appliance, you could just find your next home on Google. And finding the home is the first step to signing the all important real estate forms that make you a homeowner when you close on your mortgage.

Finding real estate on Google is a simple, straightforward process. Go to Google maps and if you don’t already have your zip code saved, type it into the search bar. You can also type in a zip code for any other area where you would like to find real estate.

When the map has loaded, there will be a “More” button at the top of it. Hovering your mouse over this more button will drop down a list of options for you to chose from, one of which is real estate. Put a check mark in the real estate box and the map will reload with homes listed for sale marked on the map and a list of the homes on the left hand side with links to their listings.

At the top of the left hand column you can adjust the settings to find just the kind of home you are looking for. You can set a minimum and maximum price for the home you want to find. You can also set whether you want to see regular for sale listings or foreclosures.

More settings allow you to further refine your search by selecting the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you are interested in as well as setting a minimum and maximum square footage for the floor space of the home.

The listings for the homes have the price, a brief description of the offer and the address of the property. Clicking on the links takes you to a listing page on Google where you can get more information about the home, if it is available.

The listing pages also feature a close in map of the neighborhood, a link to the Real Estate Company or agent who placed the listing and a Google Maps street view of the address if that is available.

If you’re in the market to buy a new home, give Google a shot and see if you can’t get a good idea of a home you like before you even have to talk to a real estate agent.

The Caveman Diet Revolutionized Our Lives!

Over a year ago, I was at the grocery store and overheard a woman talking loudly about the Caveman diet. Although I found her prattle a bit obnoxious, I was intrigued enough to go home and check this diet out.

A few weeks later, while visiting my sister-in-law, a registered nurse, we enjoyed several unusual meals: no potatoes, grains or sugar. Instead, we ate lots of vegetables, meat, fruit and nuts. As she is so petite, I asked her about this style of food. She advised that their family followed the Caveman Diet. She then explained that this style of eating was very satisfying. Avoiding sugars, grains and potatoes was eliminating any form of sugar. Instead, she ate grass fed or wild game meat, fish, eggs (the only dairy she consumes) veggies, mushrooms, fruit, nuts, seeds and olive oil.

Before we left, she gave me The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. I read this book on our flight back, carefully taking notes. This was not just about food, this was an entire lifestyle change! My husband, an enthusiastic carnivore, was all about pursuing this diet. I, on the other hand was not as eager to pursue this diet. I love bread and pasta and always enjoyed an afternoon sweet. Then again, when I was slim and trim, I avoided all of these things.

Although the first few weeks seemed odd, we soon learned to adjust to this new lifestyle. A lot of food is about habits – eating mashed potatoes with meat, toast with eggs or a sugar laden dessert for dinner. My husband found the adjustment much easier. After the short adjustment period, I found that I had more energy and the fat around my waist was starting to get smaller.

To make the Caveman Diet work for us, we found that eating at home was the key to our success. This way, we could control how we cooked the food and made sure that we consumed the correct ingredients. Because I want to get all of the necessary fruits, vegetables and fiber, we eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. For example, instead of relying on milk products or cheese for calcium, we eat vegetables such as kale, bok choy or collard greens, as well as almonds for calcium.

When we go out for a meal, we usually go to American style steakhouses and order a meal with just vegetables and either fish or meat. We ask them to not bring the bread bowl to our table. As many people already follow the high protein, Atkins Diet, we have found that most restaurants are both accommodating and prepared to handle our requests.

Although I feel healthier with the Caveman Diet, I still am tempted. What can be tough – and where I tend to cheat – is when there are celebrations and cake or other treats are served. Sometimes I avoid such gatherings and it seems unnecessary to miss out on social occasions to avoid a food group. Often, I will bring a bowl of cut up fresh fruit, with chopped nuts, on top of the delicious fruit.

Yet, because of our success, many of our friends are now following the Caveman Diet. Following this diet with someone else is also helpful. Most of all, despite avoiding several foods including all grains, our meals are full of healthy variety and taste!

Pregnant with HIV

The coming out of the late Sarah Jane Salazar in the 90’s was the the first time the Philippines became aware about AIDS. She had been a public figure and her moves became news to her countrymen. She made us cautious about the things we touched and in dealing with our friends and neighbors because we thought that it could be contracted by usage of public toilets or sharing dining plates and silver wares.Fortunately,further research and information campaign made it clear to us that it could only be obtained by getting intimate with the infected individuals, getting exposed to the infected body fluids and by blood transfusion. However, Sarah got us even more terrified when she announced that she got pregnant. We were afraid that her unborn would get her disease. We knew a little about the course of disease perinatally, back then.Fortunately, the medication she took made Lyka safe from the HIV.

According to the article written by Marino in, the usage of antiretrovirals has helped in the reduction of perinatal transmissions of HIV from 25.5 % to 8 %. The exact mechanism of transmission is still unknown.The American Congress of Ostetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) website says that it can happen anytime during pregnancy through the fetomaternal circulation , by passage through the birth canal and by breastfeeding.The risk is highest among those with high viral load.

Marino wrote that the ACOG recommends routine screening of the HIV for those who are 19 to 64 years old.However, several state laws urged the signing of consent forms prior to the testing.In the Philippines, the screening is not yet mandatory because consent also has to be granted before physicians request for the HIV test.Complete blood count ,lipid profile, renal and liver function profiles, CD4 count and HIV RNA copy number, which determines viral load, are obtained to evaluate the condition of the patient. High viral load and low CD4 levels, according to the ACOG website, indicate risk of transmitting the virus to the fetus. Marino added further that antiretroviral resistance studies must be done before initiating any antiHIV medications.However, those who presents late in the pregnancy should start taking the drugs while they wait for the results to come out. The antiretrovirals could make the viral load undetectable in 6 months time. Otherwise, the failure in treatment is likely.According to Gonzales et al., the Pediatric Aids Clinical Trial Group, zidovudine can be given during pregnancy from the 14 weeks age of gestation, and via intravenous route during labor. The neonate should receive it for 6 weeks.ACOG , however recommends continuation of treatment for the pregnant women who had the medication prior to their pregnancy. Lamivudine and Nevirapine can be added as combination, according to Marino.

Furthermore, the ACOG, Sumpaico et al. and Marino supports the idea of testing the HIV patients for the presence of other forms of sexually transmitted diseases. The hepatitis B and C should also be detected.

Sumpaico et al. recommends the cesarean delivery (CS) for the patients with this condition because the rupture of the water bag during labor could expose baby to the virus.According to the ACOG website, the CS is scheduled at 37 weeks age of gestation to avoid the labor process. Marino said that the low CD4 of the patients can be risky for the procedure, but antibiotics could help alleviate the risk. The benefit should be weighed against the risk of exposure of the offspring to the dreaded virus.

Call of Duty Black Ops Multiplayer: Did it Deliver the Goods?

Has the multiplayer, which has become the foundation of the Call of Duty franchise, in Black Ops lived up to the much anticipated hype or have we expected to much?

If you’re reading this then I probably don’t have to go into some deep analysis of playing on-line in Call of Duty. It can be hours of bliss filled gaming mixed with an equal amount of time wanting to throw your controller through the T.V. But has Black Ops captured this roller coaster ride of emotions that we are used to feeling? Let’s take a look at the good and the ugly to discover the truth.


  1. Many of the things that made us rage with Modern Warfare 2 have been fixed. The dreaded One Man Army/Danger Close grenade launcher combo is gone. MW2 became less of a FPS and more of playing dodge-ball where you had to dodge the ball by 100 feet to not get tagged. It was frustrating and game-breaking at times. Commando has went bye-bye as well. Gone are the days of watching as a victim waves his magical knifewand and teleports through your barrage of bullets only to shank you in the moneymaker. Killstreaks no longer add to the next killstreak making the game less about them and more about good old fashioned gun slinging.
  2. The leveling up system has improved. Leveling up works on a system in which you must earn COD points that you use to purchase upgrades. This is great because if you are not a sniper you don’t need to waste your time getting the gear to do it successfully. You can concentrate on buying the perks, weapons, attachments, etc that fit your playstyle. And by accepting contracts to complete while you are playing your preferred game mode you are adding a variety to the game that keeps it from become same old same old.
  3. Stopping power has been removed. I actually thought this would annoy me but it has had the opposite effect. Guns still do the job quick enough but now I’m not handcuffed into that perk and can enjoy the others that are offered. In MW2 you almost had to use it because 90% of people did and they would hand you your breakfast.
  4. Combat Training. A mode that lets you experience the multiplayer aspect of the game while playing against computer controlled bots. This mode gives you a chance to practice with some new items, learn the maps, and whatever else you would like before entering the competitive arena of human players. It also gives your wife or little brother a place to play so they don’t obliterate your hard earned KDR. All and all it’s very fun and I was surprised at how well the A.I. moved throughout the game. If you didn’t know better you would think you were actually playing real opponents.
  5. Theater Mode. I don’t get into using this much but I can see where many wannabe elite COD YouTubers can find this useful. It’s a mode where your past games are saved and you can go through and re-watch them or upload them to become the next YouTube sensation.



  1. Getting into the game with a party of friends can become time consuming and can flat out make you pop in something else. The most frustrating part is a lot of times you will finally get into a match only to see you’ve lost a few of your friends on the way. This leads to backing out, picking them up again, and once again awaiting to hit the lottery and finding a game.
  2. Hit detection seems a bit off. Now this may do with lag issues but it’s not something I’ve encountered in past games. I’ve got hit markers on people that were not in the same zip code of my crosshairs. In turn I’ve been on the receiving end of the same scenario quite often.
  3. The sounds on this game are a step back. Footsteps, when you actually can hear them, sound like someone stepping on a wet sponge. The guns and killstreak choppers just don’t have that intense impact sound we’ve become accustomed to hearing.
  4. The nerfing of all things that go boom. One of MW2’s biggest flaws was the power of explosives. Its seems as Black Ops has over compensated trying to relieve us of this by greatly reducing the impact of explosives. I think they did a good job of limiting your access to explosives on one given life and the nerf on damage is a fine idea, but it needs to be somewhere in the middle of what is was and what it is now.

So a week after the release what is the verdict? Well there’s enough added material to make the game feel fresh and fun while abiding by the proven successful formula that is the core of the Call of Duty multiplayer experience. The cons are nothing so game-breaking that would make the game unworthy of enjoying. The party system is something that definitely needs addressed in a patch but with Treyarch’s track record I’m not worried about them correcting this problem. Bottom line however is that the multiplayer proves to be a worthwhile experience.

The 5 Most Exciting Things About Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black Ops, is Treyarch’s first Call of Duty title since Call of Duty: World at War. The developer has spent a long time on Black Ops, and the multiplayer reveal showed that Black Ops will be a very fun and suspenseful game. According to, Black Ops has already sold more pre-orders than Modern Warfare 2 did last year and is expected to sell 12 million copies this holiday season. There are 5 main features from the September 1st reveal that stuck out as original and very exciting.

  1. COD Points

COD Points, or more conveniently, CP, are Treyarch’s brand new currency for Call of Duty multiplayer, says Kotaku. CP can earned by simply playing the game’s multiplayer, but are also earned by completing Contracts. Contracts are challenges that are must be completed within a certain amount of game-time. These challenges can be rewarded for getting kills or killstreaks, using team work, or by completing random and unique tasks. The third way of earning CP is through Wager Matches.

Instead of getting new weapons by ranking up, you now use CP to buy items usually acquired by ranking up. This includes guns, attachments, killstreaks, and facepaints.

  1. Wager Matches

In Wager Matches, players must bet their CP on their placing in the top 3 of the Wager Match game mode. The first is “One in the Chamber”. In this mode, each player starts with a pistol with only one bullet. If a player shoots another player, he will receive another bullet. If he misses, he is left with only a knife.

In “Gun Game”, each player starts with the same gun, a pistol. When a player gets a kill, he advances to the next level’s gun. The first player to level 20 wins.

In the next game mode, “Sharpshooter”, all players start with the same randomly selected gun. The players keep the gun for a random amount of time, then switch to the next random gun. Each kill results in a perk and later a score multiplier.

Finally, we have “Sticks and Stones”. Everyone spawns with an interesting combination of weapons- a crossbow, ballistic knife, and a tomahawk. The tomohawk has an interesting twist- if you are hit by it you are instantly bankrupt.

  1. Character Customization

Since the announcement of Black Ops, we’ve known Treyarch is completely redesigning the “Create-a-Class” mode with “Create-a-Class 2.0” Players can use this new function to control how their players appear, a first for Call of Duty. This includes the new facepaints, camos, and the many ways of customizing the reticle on your gun. This means that the red dot on your gun can be customized to any one of many shapes and colors, all of which can be found here.

  1. Killstreaks

Black Ops’ killstreaks will be similar to those of Modern Warfare 2. However, Treyarch has made a few changes. This includes the removal of a game ending killstreak (modern Warfare 2’s Tactical Nuke). They have also decided to require you to get all your kills for killstreaks yourself, without the help of other killstreaks. All killstreaks and their descriptions can be found here.

Treyarch’s last CoD title was fun and brought many new ideas to the Call of Duty series, and Black Ops is already looking like it will be much better.

Top 10 Business and Home Office Software Programs

Software allows people to perform tasks that they used to have to pay a fortune for someone else do. With the selection of these ten pieces of software, any home or business can practically do anything, and stay connected in the process. The best part is that most of them are free or low-cost.

1.) Open Office:

The free version of Microsoft products. It comes with all the standard programs, and most products can be saved as a PDF for easy transfer. It also will open and save Microsoft products.

2.) Gimp:

A photo program which is free. Not as many bells and whistles as Photoshop, but for the average business or owner, it can work well. It does things that paint programs that come on computers cannot do.

3.) Audacity:

Recording program. It is still considered the standard for podcasters, but can also be used to record interviews, thoughts, music, speeches, or whatever a person would like to have as a keepsake. It is exportable, so can go on any portable device.

4.) 7-Zip File Manager:

If you do any downloading online, many find it easier to save the files as “zip” or “rar” files. This is the program to open them.

5.) Skype:

If you want to talk to someone in another state or country without incurring costs, then this is the option for you. You can talk by video or audio, and with some attachments, you can even record the calls. If the person you want to talk to only has a landline or mobile phone, there are paid options available.

6.) Tweetdeck/Seesmic:

Twitter can be a whole lot of chatter, and sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with them all. Tweetdeck or Seesmic are the tools that helps bring about a little organization. You can make groups, do keyword searches, or follow hashtag conversations in one window.

7.) Any Video Converter:

Downloading media from online can be daunting with all the different types of media. This conversion tool allows you to convert most items to your preferred type, strip the audio off a video or convert for use on an mp3 player.

8.) Windows Movie Maker/Apple iMovie:

With the rise of video use, a person may want to do some light editing of some of their moments before uploading them to YouTube. These are beginner level tools, but you can do narration, captions, titles, and transitions.

9.) ITunes:

This is software by Apple which allows people to download TV shows, podcasts, and music. A person does not need to have an Apple product to use it.

10.) Windows DVD Maker:

A computer can be filled up with videos and pictures. One way to alleviate this problem is too put them on DVD. Another use for the DVD maker is making business video brochures.

Line 6 DL4 Delay Module Guitar Pedal

Although this piece of equipment may look like some sort of mysterious spacial debris, the only thing actually spacey about it is its echo. Having four different buttons and six separate dials, the possibility for variation with this device is absolutely endless. There are 16 different vintage delays and echo effects that are built in to the piece. The best part is, every one of them can be manipulated in their way to the user’s liking. Perhaps the most convenient feature this stomp box manifests is its tap-tempo button. After turning on the delay of choice, the user can simply tap Button D three or more times to make the echo timing exactly the way desired. This proves to be not only unique but amazingly helpful to performers in a live setting.

The built-memory of this stomp box is premium. Upon finding a setting of choice, the exact specifications can be stored in one of four sections, A, B, C or D (which are the four silver buttons on it’s face). This feature also boasts ease yet again. While a guitarist is playing, simply tapping one of the four buttons will immediately initiate the saved setting. The four can be interchanged at any time. On most delay pedals to date, changing of setting our sound requires the player to kneel down and dial by hand. The DL4 insists on making the process simple and easy for its master by requiring foot press only.

Although only capable by the memory aforementioned, the DL4’s loop possibilities are the most amazing of all its characteristics and deserves to be solely discussed. After choosing the loop setting, the instrumentalist can engage the effect by pushing Button A. The memory will record a perfect emulation of what was played for up to 14 seconds. By pressing Button B, the recording stops and the loop is stored. At this point, the game gets intense. With your previously made loop, a guitarist can add any number of layers atop the initial. Depending on which button chosen, the loop can be placed in continuous playback, or single playback. By single tapping Button D, the loop can either be slowed to half time or sped to double time, whichever preferred. In addition to this, by quickly double tapping the same button, the loop will continually playback in reverse. This allows for the creation of all kinds of unique noises and sounds.

With so many different capabilities, its no question that this is one of the most unique guitar effects on the market. For what would easily cost $1000 in separate pedals, Line 6 offers this all-in-one super pedal for just around $250. Any musician will quickly recognize the diversity of this machine. Guitarists everywhere will lust after the atmosphere that this simple gadget can accommodate.