Another Hiatus… 6 Weeks of School Left


Since my last post, it’s been difficult to do any reviews. To be completely honest, we haven’t been playing many games. It’s been a struggle to get Thing 2’s grades up from the 1st semester so she could participate in the heavy duty band competitions (no pass/no play) and keep the grades up, while not having the other kids feel neglected. Sauin killed most of the plants, so to destress, I have been crocheting some fake plants he can’t kill… plus I can do that in the waiting rooms of the doctor offices.

We cleared out some of the games no one wants to play or kids outgrew during spring break… so here is part 2 of the Game Graveyard.

Game Graveyard/Retired Games:

Hedbanz and Hedbanz Act Up:

Ages 7+, 2-6 Players

Ages 8+, 2-6 Players

Hedbanz by Spinmaster
Hedbanz Act Up by Spinmaster

Instructions for Hedbanz:

Cards are shuffled and placed into a pile in the middle of the table. Players are given 3 tokens. You play “20 questions” while wearing the headband with a card on your head. if you guess correctly, you get rid of a token. If you give up, you take a token. The one to lose all their tokens first wins.

Review:

Those plastic headbands are a torture device. They never soften up, they stay perfectly round and are not human shaped what so ever. We even wore them over winter hats, baseball caps, etc, and still can’t tolerate them for very long. The novelty wears off very quickly. The game is also very frustrating when you have some kids who intentionally answer incorrectly or who don’t know the answer to your question, but refuse to say, “I don’t know”, so you or the other players will get frustrated when fruits/veggies are answered incorrectly or doesn’t know the difference between an herbivore or a carnivore. This game caused more fights among the kids than I like to admit. Was more fun with adults.

Instructions for Hedbanz Act Up:

This time the headbands are color coded with a matching dice. Each player gets 12 tokens to start. Shuffled cards are placed into a center pile. Each player grabs a card and places it in their headband. On a player’s turn, they roll the dice and that color shown will be the “actor” for a game of charades. (if the player’s own color is rolled or your have less than 6 players and no one is playing the rolled color, everyone is the actor). The player has 20 seconds to guess. If they guess correctly, the player and actor get to return a token to the “bank”. If they don’t guess, nothing happens.

Review:

Now you have those uncomfortable headbands on while moving around… and they fall off and come undone while moving around. We ended up not wearing them. Good idea, poor execution.

Bloxels:

Ages 8+, Solo

Bloxels, Star Wars edition

Instructions:

It’s not really a “game” per say. Yes, you can play retro style platform games on IOS and through Google Play, but it is also a game design program. You can build and play the games in the browser of the PC, but won’t by able to use the Bloxels sets. Those require the cameras on the smart phones and tablets. It is an output for kids to learn how to design and animate sprites (the characters), the environment, and the gameplay.

photo form Tech Age Kids

Review:

I can’t rave enough about this game/app.

Thing 4 started with this, but we have decided to no longer to keep buying iPads and have moved her to PC. She has since started to learn how to program games on Scratch and Python. She hasn’t decided if she wants to continue with Bloxels on PC since it now requires a membership.

With Bloxels, she has done some amazing stuff, like animating coins, making them spin as they did in the old Mario games, she’s made a mermaid’s tail swish while swimming… it’s amazing what she’s accomplished. Her favorite thing to work on is animating sprites. Bloxels is available for individual use or for use in the schools.

No Thank You Evil:

Ages 5 to Infinity, 2-5 Players or the Whole Family

Instructions:

It’s essentially D&D for kids… the stories are whimsical, the character classes are already flashed out, you can have pets if your kids understands the mechanics… It even teaches your child how to be a DM if they choose to go that route when they get older.

Review:

Super cute game. As a D&D fan, I enjoyed it and thought it was well executed and know several families of neurotypical kids who thoroughly enjoy it.

That being said, I do not have have neurotypical kids and found it to be a struggle. I was hoping it may help foster critical thinking skills and found it ended up causing more stress than not.

Example: There’s a scenario where they enter a dark room. They have a back pack (that’s essentially a bag of infinite holding) and in it is some stuff including a flashlight. I’m playing with 4 kids… not a single one use the flashlight. I remind them they can use their items. All of them said their items won’t be useful. I again remind them to look in their backpack. They refuse to use the flashlight. I flat out tell them to use one of their items… after telling them the 5th time and them repeatedly telling me they don’t need to, I had them lose a hit point for stubbing their toes for stumbling in the dark. To which 1 cried, 2 quit, and 1 didn’t understand… needless to say, its been a few years. Thing 2 wants to try it again. I’m hesitant, but I guess we will.

In closing:

The next 6 weeks we will be flying by the seat of our pants… Here’s to hoping I can start getting some gaming in this summer.

Today is World Functional Neurological Disorder Day. Thing 2 (Piper) was one of the people living with FND featured in an informational video. Her quote can be hard to read on smart phones, but says, “Everyone, regardless of ability or disability, has strengths and weaknesses. Know what yours are. Build on your strengths and find a way around your weaknesses.” The quote is from award winning teacher and author of Front of the Class, Brad Cohen. (Book and movie about his struggles as a child and young adult pursuing his dreams to become a teacher because of having Tourette Syndrome.)

Can’t catch a break and other holiday antics.


Thing 2 has had a setback, again. We believe it was triggered by a huge cyst in one of her sinuses, which turned into a massive sinus infection and another ear infection. Not to mention all the antibiotics and steroids. We are hoping to have it drained in the near future.

Poor thing is dealing with severe pain in her sinuses, her face swells on that side, dizziness, and constant headaches. It has affected her eating as she likes spicy foods. What happens when you eat spicy foods? Your nose will run. Hers cannot as the cyst is blocking the drainage to the nose, thus just causing more swelling. Ug.

In addition to that, she’s had neurological symptoms. Her Tourettes was out of control in October, we thought she was having seizures, she forgot how to do almost all of her school work routines and even how to play her instrument (she did regain her ability to play, but the rest is still suffering). It’s been a really rough time. She even couldn’t perform ADL’s for a couple of weeks. Doctors wanted her hospitalized, but our local children’s hospital converted half the wards into Covid wings. Because she was having neurological and psychological symptoms, they wanted her in the psych part of the hospital, but they were shut down to teen patients, sending all others to strictly psych hospitals (which doesn’t help when symptoms are caused by medical issues).

Answers, Finally:

However, on the bright side, with all these urgent appointments with specialists, we FINALLY have a diagnosis for her wax and wane symptoms. Functional Neurological Disorder. We have been looking for a diagnosis for 12.5 years.

“We know very little about the brain. We know about connections, but we don’t know how information is processed…”

Neurobiologist Lu Chen, PhD

The brief description is Functional Neurological Disorder is a disorder in the somatic nervous system, that’s the system where the brain and body communicate for sensory input (the 5 senses) and voluntary movement. They’re not sure why there is an issue on the somatic nervous system, but each person has their own triggers. Some people have this reaction in result to emotional stress, some to physical stress or illness, others to medications, some to heightened emotional states (like excitement). Thing 2’s triggers are illness and some medications. In her case, imagine that you would have pain from an infection in your ear. She often doesn’t realize there is an issue until it ruptures. While she should have a fever, she rarely has one anymore, however, she trades her normal illness symptoms for neurological symptoms and psych issues. It makes no sense, but the neurosciences is in its infancy compared to other fields.

Now, over the years it was NOT classified as a neurological disorder. Remember hearing about “female hysteria”? Current neuro specialists and those who study medical history believe it was Functional Neurological Disorder. Conversion Disorder? Also FND. The problem is because it was classified as a psychiatric disorder for so long and it is being transferred to being neurological, it still carries the negative stereotypes. Spread awareness. Remember, epilepsy was once thought to be hysteria or demon possession.

Because FND has an unknown origin, there is no treatment or cure. People will have relapses that can last from days to years. The only thing that can be done is treat each symptom individually. Therapies out the wazoo, medications for the physical, neurological, and psych symptoms, assistive devices if needed. It can be as disabling as Multiple Sclerosis and because of the stigma, very lonely.

Other news:

Thanks to autoimmune issues, I’m having to completely change my diet. So if anyone needs some tips about minimal salt, 0 saturated fats, and 0 added sugar, but NOT have your meals be depressing and taste like dogfood, I’m relearning how to cook.

This meant I was struggling for Thanksgiving. I gave up and made a buffet with tacos, burritos, and fajitas. Everything I could have except the full fat sour cream and the cheese blend. I didn’t make the cheese, sour cream, or tortillas, but I made everything else. I made the taco meat with turkey, so that counts, right? Tilapia, shrimp, mango salsa (don’t knock it), guacamole, salsa… It may be our go to Thanksgiving meal. LOL All the kids ate it.

Now, what to do for Christmas?

When is the next post?

I’ve been working on an informational post by request about health insurance (blech) and things you can get through them or via other means. The most common question is iPads. Since many insurance programs start at the beginning of the year, I’m hoping to dish the skinny in a day or two. Please leave a comment with any questions you may have and I will include it.