Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stocking Stuffer Idea: Powerocks Magicstick Portable Charger Review

At the risk of sounding all Scrooge-ish, I'm just gonna say it: I don't love Christmas shopping.  OK...I don't love any kind of shopping, actually.  OK...I mostly hate shopping when I have very little money to shop with.  If I do have money, then shopping becomes slightly more tolerable.  But even when I do have money, shopping isn't my most favorite activity.  Especially when I have to figure out what to get other people.  I don't know why.  I think I am just too worried about getting something the receiver won't like.  Which is why I like little gems like this Powerocks Magicstick Portable Battery.  Because honestly?  There is only one person I know who would not like this and she is 75 years old and does not own one single electronic device that would need to be charged.  No cellphone, no laptop, no tablet, no e-reader...nothing.  Other than my friend Darlene?  Everyone else I know would use one of these!

I am seriously psyched about this little piece of awesomeness!  I use my smartphone constantly throughout the day for both personal and professional tasks, which include internet searches, social media updates and taking photos for blogs, reviews and marketing purposes.  Consequently, the phone battery gets drained quickly and if I have forgotten my car charger or I am in a meeting when my phone decides to die, then I am without my communication device until I get back home.  And that is bad.  Because I depend on that device.  OK, I am addicted to that device. It's my crack. Don't judge me.  

The Powerocks Magicstick solves that problem for those of us who are slaves to our electronic devices.  Inside the sleek exterior is a rechargeable 2800mAh lithium ion battery that will charge any device that can be powered by an USB connection, such as iPhone 4/4S & 5, e-Readers, Android Phones, Blue Tooth Devices, Cameras, Gaming controllers, MP3 players, GPS. That's a pretty long list of devices, people!

You know what else is great about it?  It's size.  It fits easily in a purse, a pocket, a backpack pocket or a carry-on bag.  Honestly? I could fit this bad boy, along with the USB charging cord, in my bra in an emergency! Sorry, no pics on that one, but I can assure you, I tried it.  Just to see.  Because sometimes a girl finds herself with no pockets or hand bag and she needs her hands free to climb a tree or something!  It happens! 

The Magicstick is incredibly easy to use: just plug the USB cord into the device, then plug it into your phone.  That's it.  And to recharge the Magicstick when it's dead?  Use the same USB cord in reverse by plugging the device into the USB cord and then plugging the USB cord into a computer.  Rocket science, right?

The only negative thing I can say about this portable power source is that I can't tell how much of a charge it holds once the power indicator turns red. There is a button on the bottom that will shine green when the Magicstick is fully charged and red when it is not fully charged.  But I can't tell when the light is red just how low the Magicstick is.  It could be 3/4 full or almost empty.  But seriously?  There's nothing else to pick apart.  

So to recap:

  • Powerocks Magicstick is an awesome portable charger for many electronic devices.
  • Powerocks Magicstick is easy to use and easy to carry.
  • Powerocks Magicstick is a great gift for males and females of varying ages who use electronic devices.
  • Powerocks Magicstick makes an excellent gift for your boss or other high powered executives who travel with their smartphones.  Your sophisticated and thoughtful gift might prompt them to thank you with a raise or a promotion. Just sayin.'  
  • Powerocks Magicstick fits into Christmas Stockings or really cute, small gift bags.
  • Powerocks is offering a 20% discount for I Am Boymom Readers who use this code: Powerblog20 

The Magicstick retails for about $50 and you can find it at the Powerocks website.  You can also find a list of retail locations in your area on the website.     

Admit it.  I just helped you cross like 3 or 8 people off of your Christmas shopping list, right?  No need to thank me.  It's what I do. But maybe you can thank Powerocks Magicstick by visiting their website and Facebook page.  

**Disclosure:  Powerocks provided me with a Magicstick Portable Charger to help me facilitate this review.  My honest opinions about the product are my own.**

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tek Recon Advanced Battle Systems Review

My boys have had every kind of toy blaster a kid can have, from Nerf Blasters, to Paintball Blasters to stupid little cap guns. they love them all to some degree. I thought we had pretty much run the gamut of blasters. Just when I was thinking there was no kind of kid's blaster that we hadn't seen, Tek Recon comes along and proves us wrong. Tek Recon takes blaster battle strategy play to another level by incorporating smartphone apps into the action so players get a real time experience.

Installing the smartphone holder onto the gun takes seconds and downloading the app from Google Play is just as easy.  What we have not found easy though is navigating the app and actually playing a game with it. The app wasn't very intuitive and it would often freeze during game play. For a bunch of impatient boys, this was frustrating.  We'll need to go through a tutorial to get more familiar with the Tek Recon app.

Regardless of the app situation, they were happy to get started with their new blasters.  The older they get, the more discerning they are about their blasters. They pay attention to the little things now that make game play fun and winning their battle a possibility. They immediately commented on the the various features of the shooters, such a the sturdiness and realistic features like the adjustable stock and the pump action firing systems. They also loved the idea of the quick change cartridges.

The NRG ammo was looked upon with skepticism as the boys opened the packages. THe NRG ammo is different than what they have used before in other blasters. It looks like a small, thick, orange rubber band. The boys found it a bit hard to load the cartridges until they got used to the smaller pieces. The ammo goes pretty far when shot, it doesn't hurt when you get hit and the blasters are fairly accurate, but we found we had trouble getting the Hammerhead to shoot consistently without the ammo getting lodged in the chamber. And forget about trying to find all of the pieces! Their small size makes it difficult to locate, especially since the rubber component they are made of make them bounce when hitting anything super solid, like a wall or the side of the house

We received a Tek Recon Hammerhead set, which consists of 2 handheld blasters for players who like dual wielding.  The Havoc is a little larger and comes with an adjustable stock.

My boys love playing strategy and battle games with all the kids in the neighborhood.  I love that they have the option now of having the video part of the fun incorporated into their physical game play!  More incentive for them to get outside and run around!

Check out Tek Recon's website and Facebook page for more information about where to get these fun toys, just in time for Christmas!

*Disclosure:  As part of House Party's Chatterbox team, we received Tek Recon Advanced Battle Systems products to facilitate this review.  I received no other compensation for this post.  As always, my opinions about the product are my own, honest opinions.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I Hope He Meets John Wayne

I went to Arizona over Thanksgiving to see my step-dad.  If you read my last post, you know he had bone cancer.  Yeah.  I said had.  He passed away the morning after I arrived in Arizona.  Unfortunately, I did not get to say goodbye, because I had stopped overnight in Phoenix and had not yet made the 3 hour trip to the mountain top where he and mom lived. 

When I received the call I was both grateful and devastated.  He was in so much pain, the life he was living as a cancer victim was horrible and hard and humiliating to him.  How could I not want him to be free from that situation?  At the same time, I was sad.  I didn't get to tell him how much I appreciated him.  Or how much I loved his ridiculously funny stories.  Or how grateful I was that he gave us a safe place to live and gave me employment when I needed it.  Or how his love of all things John Wayne has become my love of all things John Wayne.  There are all these unsaid things just hanging out there.  I hate leaving things unsaid.  

My step-father was a lover of really cool muscle cars.  I wish I would have shown more of an interest for them when he was collecting them and fixing them up.  At different times in his life he bought and restored a GTO, an old Chevy something that looked kind of like the original Batmobile that he called the Ghetto Sled (because of where he bought it), an old Buick Riviera with that weird back window, and several others that I don't recall the makes and models.  But they were all cool.  But part of the reason that they were cool was because he was cool.  He didn't have to try to be cool, he just was. Kind of like the cowboy version of The Fonz.

He was one of those guys that knew what the trends would be 6 months before anyone else did.  He came home with black Reeboks one day and we all laughed about how weird they were.  Six months later EVERYONE was wearing them!  

John was one of the original "preppers" and a MacGyver kind of guy that would make MacGyver jealous! He could figure out how to make just about anything out of stuff he found laying around.  

He loved food and music and guns, all equally.  He got me hooked on these:

And he taught me how to use these:

And he made me download hundreds of these to his Ipod:

 He was a master story teller who had many, many stories to tell about traveling with his dad, who rode and trained race horses.  He talked about the things he would do as an 8 year old kid wandering around the fair while his dad was busy. Watching the monkeys dressed like jockeys riding greyhounds was high on his list of favorites.  He talked about how his mom would take him to church and give him money for the bus ride home and he would wait for her to drive off, then go to the ice cream shop and buy a cone with the bus money and walk home.  His mom could never figure out why his suit was so dusty all of the time. His stories about fighting and drag racing and his overnight stint in jail when his dad got mad enough not to bail him out were hilarious and filled with real life details that no one could make up.  I'm sad that we didn't take the time to record him telling those stories. 

John had a wickedly, sarcastic sense of humor.  He was the kind of person who could totally slam you and it was so funny and accurate that event though the joke was on you?  You had to laugh!  When he was in a good mood, there was not a funnier, more fun guy to be around. His grin and his laugh were so indicative of who he really was when he was happy.  His laugh was not a laugh that fit a man of his character, reputation or build.  He was a big, tough guy.  His laugh was not at all tough.  When he really got going, his laugh got very high pitched and when you heard him laugh that hard, you had to laugh too!

He had nicknames for everyone.  Hammerhead, Numbnuts and Honyock were among his favorites.  My boys were never Tanner and Eli when they were with him.  The were Big One and Little One.  My sister was Bird when she was a kid, because she was all knees and elbows.  He called me Thumper for a while when I wore my Nike Canvas or Converse sneakers because he said my big feet looked like rabbit feet. They did look like rabbit feet when I wore the shoes with what is now called skinny jeans.  

John loved Old Westerns and John Wayne and Gene Autry.  He would watch reruns of Gunsmoke and Bonanza for hours.  I'm pretty sure he has watched every single John Wayne movie ever made.  Watch the movie "The Cowboys" sometime.  John Wayne in that movie?  That was my step-dad. His humor, his tough exterior, his truly soft heart, his work ethic, his intolerance of bullies...all my step-dad.  

There were downsides to living with John, to be sure.  He hated holidays.  He would get grumpy and hide in his room all day.  We kind of laughed this year during Thanksgiving dinner that his grumpiness had become part of the tradition.  Because of his upbringing, he didn't let a lot of people get close to him.  Not even us.  He put up a lot of walls and it's too bad that he waited so long to let the the walls start to come down.  He missed out on a lot of great relationships with his family and friends.  And we missed out too.

Last visit with Grandpa John in June 2013
I'm sad cancer took him just when he was figuring out that family was important and that he needed to spend more time getting to know his grand kids. He had a lot of hard-earned advice and wisdom to share with them.  He had so many stories to make them giggle and laugh.  He had so many skills that he could have passed on to them.  And they would have loved almost every minute of their time with him. 

There is so much more I could write, but it wouldn't sum up who he was.  And nothing I could write right now could ever convey my appreciation for him, as a step-father or as a person.  So I will just finish by saying this:  John, thanks for giving me a safe place to live, for teaching me how to change a tire and defend myself and for hiring me back every time you fired me for speaking my mind.  I hope where you are now that you get to meet and talk with John Wayne.  I bet you'll be good friends.

And this, which only a few of you will get:  That whole thing about you going to hell with a bad back?  We win.