Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#ZipStix by @HogWildToysLLC - Have Fun Racing, Crashing, Stunts, and Collecting (With Give Away!)

ZipStix CoverZipStix Toys - Race, Crash, Do Tricks, and Collect Them All
  • Flexible Skateboard Style Sticks Flip and Roll
  • For Ages 4 and Up
  • Good for Indoor or Outdoor Play
  • Race for Speed or Distance
  • Create Obstacle Courses
  • Master Tricks and Stunts
  • Four Series One Team Styles
  • Collect your Favorite Team or All 72 Series One Sticks
  • Affordable Pricing and Four Buying Options
  • Suggested Retail Pricing From $3.99 - $19.99 (Details Below)
  • A Product From Hog Wild Toys (
  • Find Hog Wild Toys on YouTube, on Facebook and on Twitter (@HogWildToysLLC)
Yesterday was a cold and rainy day here in New York, and both of my sons are just getting over a gross respiratory virus.  We were stuck in the house and the boys were itching to do something fun after spending the previous four days down for the count with sickness.

Luckily, I had just the thing to brighten our day - these ZipStix from Hog Wild toys were still in the box waiting to be reviewed.  it was perfect timing!

I put together a collage of some photos below so you can see all of different things that make these fun.

The basic components are the ZipStix and their launchers.  The flexible sticks look a bit like skateboards without wheels.  They come in a wide variety of brightly colored designs that are grouped into four teams.  Each team has eighteen styles which makes a total of 72 different stix to collect and trade.

There are also collector packs that include stunt cones and ramps like the kind used for skateboarding or stunt biking.  Once a child and their friends start building up their collections, they can have a lot of fun racing for speed or distance.  They can also have stunt competitions or trade to complete their collections.

Here is a commercial spot that shows ZipStix at their best.

We have a little bit more practicing to do before our skills are that impressive, but the learning curve is pretty quick.  It only took a few tries before we had some decent launches.  These things can really fly!  

The instructions are included in both pictures and words so they are easy to figure out.  Just get your ZipStix onto the launcher and a little push with one finger sends it on its way.

ZipStix Instructions
Once we mastered the launch then we started working on knocking down cones and aiming for the ramps.  I was surprised how much fun I was having, and you can probably imagine how much my boys enjoyed sending these things flying around the house.  Even the cats got in on the fun chasing any runaway ZipStix that rolled past them.

There are currently four ways to buy ZipStix that range from the starter pack to the mega pack.  you can see each product pictured below.

ZipStix Products
The Starter Pack includes one ZipStix toy and a launcher.  This is really all you need ot get started, and it is also the way to fill in gaps as one  builds their collection.  The suggested retail price for a starter pack is $3.99.

The Dual Pack has two ZipStix, one launcher, three crash cones and a flyaway target.  This comes with the suggested price tag of $5.99.

The Stunt Pack is the next step up.  It includes two ZipStix, two launchers. three crash cones, anda dual angle kicker ramp.  The suggested price for this package is $9.99.

Finally, there is the Mega Pack.  As the title suggests, this is the one with the most to offer.  This is a collection of six assorted ZipStix, two launchers, six crash cones, a kicker ramp and a quarter pipe for even more stunt possibilities.  The suggested price for this one (pictured below) is still affordable at $19.99.

ZipStix Mega pack
Series One ZipStix are divided into Team Blaster, Team turbo, Team Wild and Team Zilla.  The instruction/information sheets that come with each purchase also open up to a check off sheet so that players know which ones they need to complete their team or complete set.

I am hosting a giveaway for a ZipStix prize pack.  If you want to take part, please use the form below to submit your entries.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Friday, April 11, 2014

#Chosen - Your Journey Toward Confirmation - A Complete @AscensionPress Confirmation Program #Catholic

Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation 
  • A 24 Lesson Program That Incorporates Video and Workbook Components
  • Speaks Powerfully to 8th - 10th Grade Students Preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation
  • Granted Imprimatur by Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia
  • Video Segments by Some of the Most Sought After Catholic Youth Speakers in the World
  • Easy to Follow Leader's Guide and an Engaging Student Text Help Classes Flow Smoothly
  • Teacher and Sponsor Handbooks Allow Adults to Actively Engage With the Candidates
  • Relevant .pdf Downloads are Available to Aid With Essential Elements of Confirmation Preparation
  • Program DVDs and Books May Be Purchased in Bundles or Separately
  • To See Purchase Options and Pricing Visit This Page and Scroll to the Bottom
  • The website for Chosen is  (Don't Miss the Awesome Chosen Blog!)
  • Chosen is an Ascension Press Program 
  • Find Ascension Press on Facebook and Twitter (@AscensionPress) and YouTube
Chosen Bundle
My boys are entering ninth grade and they will be making their Confirmation in a little over a year.  This is a very important Catholic sacrament and candidates need to be properly catechized before they make these vows.  Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation was recently released by Ascension Press and does a fantastic job preparing young people.  The presenters are especially effective because they have found a way to captivate the minds and hearts of young people while remaining faithful to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I am very impressed by the program!  I have used several segments to teach my current Religious Education Class and they enjoyed the speakers, the format, and the lesson plans.

The videos are shot on location in over 40 different destinations throughout the world.  The resulting backdrops for the lessons are very impressive.  In addition to being visually pleasing, the classes are delivered by some of the most popular Catholic youth speakers available.  If I could plan a fantasy dream retreat for young people, these names would all be on the guest speaker list - what a gift to be able to bring them into our parish classroom and my Catholic homeschool living room each week.

Chosen Speakers
If you are familiar with the faces, you can see that the speakers include Chris Stefanik, Jackie Francois Angel, Deacon Burke-Sivers, Brian Butler, Jason Evert, Father Michael Schmitz, Chris Padgett, Sarah Swafford, Father Mark Toups, and Mary Ann Wiesinger.  The Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia, and Leah Darrow are also included.

Here is a promotional clip that will help you to feel the mood of the program:

As you can see, the music and the visual effects will definitely engage our young people who respond so well to this type of  multi-sensory lesson.

Now, although these guys and gals in the videos are a tough act to follow we (the teachers) are given a great resource in the Leader's guide.  From opening and closing prayers, relevant discussion prompts - it is all there.  The book gives us a lesson overview, shows us what the students see in their workbooks, and fills the margins with tips, pointers, how much time to spend on each topic, and there is a place to write notes, too.

Chosen leader Text 1
So, does it cover everything?  Will the students be prepared for confirmation?

I have been through the 24 lessons myself, and as I mentioned earlier I have shared a few lessons with my 8th grade religious education class.  I think it does a great job covering the material - but see for yourself - here are the chapters, in order.
Lesson 1: “Why am I here?” (An Introduction to Chosen)
Lesson 2: “What makes me happy?” (Discovering God as the Source)
Lesson 3: “What’s your story, God?” (A Look at Salvation History)
Lesson 4: “How do I know God is real?” (Understanding Divine Revelation)
Lesson 5: “Who is Jesus?” (The Person and Mission of Christ)
Lesson 6: “Why be Catholic?” (Discovering the Church Jesus Founded)
Lesson 7: “Where am I going?” (A Look at the Four Last Things)
Lesson 8: “How do I get there?” (The Power and Purpose of the Sacraments)
Lesson 9: “When did my journey begin?” (Baptism, Your Initiation into God’s Family)
Lesson 10: “Why tell my sins to a priest?” (The Healing Power of Confession)
Lesson 11: “How does God help when it hurts?” (Anointing of the Sick and Redemptive Suffering)
Lesson 12: “Who is the Holy Spirit?” (Meeting the Third Person of the Trinity)
Lesson 13: “What does the Holy Spirit do for me?” (Gifts for the Journey)
Lesson 14: “Why have I been Chosen?” (Sealed and Sent in Confirmation)
Lesson 15: “Why do I have to go to Mass?” (Encountering Jesus in the Eucharist)
Lesson 16: “What does it mean to say, ‘I do’?” (Marriage, a Sign of God’s Love)
Lesson 17: “Who’s calling?” (Holy Orders and Vocational Discernment)
Lesson 18: “Are you talking to me?” (Getting to Know God Through Prayer)
Lesson 19: “Who is Mary?” (Meeting the Mother of God – and Your Heavenly Family)
Lesson 20: “What would Jesus do?” (The Beatitudes as a Path to True Happiness)
Lesson 21: “Do I have what it takes?” (Building Virtue – Your Spiritual Workout)
Lesson 22: “Why wait?” (God’s Plan for Love and Sex)
Lesson 23: “How do I build the kingdom?” (Saying “Yes” to the Mission of Christ and His Church)
Lesson 24: “Where do I go from here?” (The Journey Continues)
Lessons begin with a quick video review quiz that covers material from the preceding lesson, then there are three video segments which will cover the week's topic.  In between each video there is time for group discussion and there are workbook pages which I will discuss below.

Teachers also have the resources on the downloads page that I linked to in the bullet points.  There you will find a great guide for a three day retreat, a printable Candidate Commitment form, a guide for a Penance Service, an Examination of Conscience, the Rite of Welcoming, the Rite of Enrollment, a pre-Confirmation Interview and a Letter of Conformity if you need to print it to show it to a parish RE coordinator or pastor.

The Student Workbook is also well done.  There are bright photos, an opening prayer (teach them to pray!) interesting stories, (teach them why it matters and what our faith looks like in real life!) a "hero" of the week (teach them about our glorious saints!) and a challenge for the week. (live it out!)  Lessons end with a wrap up, some key words to contemplate, a memory verse, an interesting fact, and some quick Catholic Apologetics.

Chosen Student Text
The lessons connect with teens while encouraging and inspiring them them.  They are given spiritual, intellectual and emotional guidance that is in accordance with the CCC and doesn't treat them like spiritual and emotional infants.

These are the Parent and Sponsor Guides.  Both are very similar, but the parent guide has pages which describe each lesson.  I love this because it gives parents the opportunity to engage their student in a conversation about what they learned in class instead of relying on the teen to relay the information.

Chosen Parent and Sponsor TextsWith these books Candidate, Parent, and Sponsor can all share the journey and make the Sacrament more meaningful.  They will also be better equipped to support their teen - since many people my age were not well catechized and may be learning this information for the first time.

I have been a long time fan of Ascension Press programs - and this one is is definitely a home run for today's typical Confirmation candidate.  It has the potential to reach the students and bring them to a personal relationship with Jesus and an understanding of The Church that so many of our teens are missing.

If you think the program would be a good fit for your parish, visit the website and check out the what they call the guided tour of the program.  You will see session samples and get a preview of the guides for leaders, parents, and sponsors.

Ascension Press always offers a risk free trial of their programs to priests, religious, DREs, teachers, youth ministers, and others who are authorized to make purchase decisions for a parish, (arch)diocese or school provided that they are located in the continental United States.

If you still have questions you may call (800) 376-0520, email, or use the website link to chat online with a representative.  Their business hours are 8:45-5:00 CST Monday through Friday. (excluding holidays)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Smelly Towel Cleaner - A Capful in Hot Water Removes Odors! (with Give-away!) @SmellyWasher

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. Smelly Towel Cleaner
 Smelly Towel Cleaner - a Smelly Washer Product
  • This Powder is Added to a Hot Water Laundry Cycle
  • Mildew and Musty Odors Are Removed 
  • Towels Stay Soft After Treatment
  • For Use in a Regular or an HE Appliance
  • Leading Cleaning Experts Recommend This Product
  • Made With All Natural Ingredients
  • Safe for Septic Systems
  • Made in the USA
  • One 12 Ounce Bottle Lasts for 24 loads
  • Website Price is $14.99 per Bottle
  • Visit to Purchase
  • Connect With SmellyWasher on Facebook and @SmellyWasher on Twitter
I know I am not the only one who gags over the smell of a nasty towel.  My boys mean well, but if their towel misses the hook and lands on the floor it might stay there for a full day without anyone thinking they ought to pick it up.  Even when they do hang them up properly, the towels get a bad smell over time - even with regular washing.

Because I am very sensory and smells are especially hard on me, I either throw the nasty towels away or use bleach to get the smells out.  When I read that the Smelly Towel Cleaner used all natural ingredients and still got the odors out, I was eager to try it out.

The directions are simple enough.

Smelly Towel Cleaner
All I had to do was wash a full load of towels in hot water, and use one capful of the powder in place of my detergent.  Well, that is certainly easy.

I removed the cap and the protective foil and saw that the pale coral colored powder.  There is not a lot of scent - just a light citrusy smell like a powdered drink mix.  it is nice, but it was obvious that the product did not work by overpowering one smell with another.  It was designed to get to the source of the smell and eliminate it.  I did some reading on the website, and I was correct!  Smelly Towel Cleaner will work on the source of the odors that are in towels, clothes, and even in the washer itself!

I was ready to try it out.  After gathering up a load of towels from around the house I started filling the washer with hot water, dispensed a capful, and added it to the water.  When the washer tub was about half full, I added the towels.

Smelly Towel Cleaner
The directions say that for tough odors a user can allow the full washer to sit for up to two hours.  Our smells were not too gross, so I let it sit for about ten minutes.

The towels came out soft.  Even without traditional detergent or other additives there was no musty smell.  In fact, the towels had a rather neutral smell.

You will also notice that the colors stayed true.  I want to mention that this is only because these towels  had all been washed many, many times before this treatment.  The manufacturer warns against using the product on new towels and ones with bright colors like these until they have been washed enough times that color bleeding will not be an issue.

Smelly Towel Cleaner
So, now - if you would like to try this product, you can go to the website that I linked above in the bullet points and buy a bottle.  You will also see that they have a product that is designed to clean the smell out of washers, and another for dishwashers and disposals.  All of the products are all natural, and they do not have any chemical odors.  They are safe for septic systems and even people with sensitive skin report that they can use Smelly Towel Cleaner.

You might also like to try your luck in this giveaway opportunity.  I have been given permission to offer one bottle of Smelly Towel Cleaner to one lucky reader selected at random.  Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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