Monday, November 25, 2019

Currently: It's Turkey Time

Current Book

This doesn't include the 2 audiobooks I'm also listening to, ha.

Current Song

South of the Border by Ed Sheeran

Also lots of Pandora Christmas carols if I'm being honest!!
I just started this weekend and am LOVING it!

Current TV Show

After falling in love with Mixed-ish, I set the DVR for Black-ish...
and have over 50 of them recorded, eek!

Current Podcast

I haven't listened to a podcast since Cold because I've been double-fisting audiobooks. I'm trying to listen to all the Outlander books before the 9th book comes out. And I'm still listening to all the Game of Thrones books before I finally read book #5 in the series.

Current Drink

My mom mixed up some peach Fresca with Peach vodka.

Current Food

Brent had some deer/pork steaks made that have jalepenos and cheese inside and are wrapped in bacon. DEAD. He grilled those and we ate them with baked potatoes.

Current Shame-Inducing Pleasure

Of the 6 books I've finished this month {so far},
4 of them have been romance-y. That feels high for me???
But they were sooo good!
And you can see I've got another one in progress above, ha!

Current Outfit

A garage sale Harry Potter t-shirt and boxers.
I look amazing! {grin}

Current Celebrity Crush

Listening to Outlander has reminded me how much I love Jamie Fraser!

Current Mood

I feel very accomplished.
Over the weekend I made a lot of progress on moving the kids' rooms around.
I still have a ways to go, but I made it farther than I thought I would in 2 days.
I will post details later this week, but it's really coming along nicely!

Current Anticipation


Current Wishlist

A professional cleaning service to help me finish phase 1 of the room re-wrangle.

Current Film

Going to try and take the girls to see this since they have the week off!

Current Picture

Baby girl's first nap in her new big girl room!
Overall her sleep is still a mess, but it's S L O W L Y getting better.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Mexic-Arte Museum

One of the great things about my job is the flexibility I have. I found out last minute that Trent's teacher needed me to go on their field trip yesterday, and I am so thankful I was able to go! We went to the Mexic-Arte Museum in downtown Austin to view their Day of the Dead exhibit, and it was fantastic!

They had 2 different exhibits - one that was focused on Mojigangas - 'masks' that were used in the annual parade. We learned a lot about the history of Day of the Dead and how it is celebrated in different parts of the world. The second exhibit focused on community ofrendas - altars - that are built to memorialize the dead.

Different ofrendas made by groups throughout the community

Mojigangas exhibit - all used in the annual parade!

After the museum, we had lunch at a huge park and the kids got to run around on the playground - always much needed after having to be quiet in a museum!

Me and my cutie pie stinker

Monday, November 11, 2019

Book Deep Dive: The Explosive Child

A few years ago, Brent made a comment about me being so open about Trent's struggles on my blog. Yes, my journey with him is very much part of my day-to-day life, but I'm also putting a lot of Trent's business out on the internet, and as he grows, he might not appreciate everything I've shared. So I haven't really talked much about him as much, but that does not mean we're not still grinding away. 

And honestly, the last few months have been pretty awful. Tough enough that I've started having individual sessions with his therapist. Recently she suggested I read the book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, and I'm so glad I did - it was fantastic!

I wanted to share more about it than I normally do in my monthly book reviews because I really think this book has strategies that could work for all families, not just ones with 'explosive' children. {grin} 

The main purpose of the book is giving strategies for problem solving with 'behaviorally challenging kids'. It talks about 3 ways you can solve problems:

1 - Plan A - whatever you are currently doing now - reward charts for good behavior [don't work for these kids], harsh punishments for every meltdown , tantrum, bad behavior, etc. [happens way too often and doesn't help] - which is basically not working because you wouldn't need this book if they were.

2 - Plan B - Dr. Greene's approach that I'll go more into detail below.

3 - Plan C - basically ignoring/prioritizing unsolved problems that you can wait to resolve because you have higher priority problems. For example, your child has a meltdown every time you ask him/her to brush teeth. You might have 10 issues you need to work through with your child but there's no way you can solve all of them at once, so you need to prioritize and the ones that don't make the top of the list, you legit ignore. You tell your kid 'It's time to brush teeth.' and your kid says 'Noooooo!'. Your response used to be a giant battle that eventually resulted in brushed teeth but everyone was upset. Right now, you'd say 'Okay' and you'd move on. You know you're eventually going to address the problem because your kid has to brush their teeth, but for let that sh*t go.

What the author believes is that Kids Do Well If They Can. This is such an important concept to think about - it sounds simple but think about it - how many times in the middle of an argument does it seem like your kid is just being a jerk to be a jerk. But really they don't have the skills (Dr. Greene calls them 'lagging skills') to problem solve. Just this simple sentence alone has helped me - Trent is responding the way he does because he literally can't help himself and us constantly punishing him is never going to help. We need to work together to teach him the skills he needs so that he CAN do well! Very encouraging!

There's a whole checklist of Lagging Skills to consider for your child, and let me just say, there were a lot that fit Trent!

So what do you do once you've identified the skills your child is lacking? Honestly that isn't very critical because you really want to focus on the problems that result from those lagging skills.

For example, one lagging skill I highlighted was Difficulty handling unpredictability. You would think about the problems that fall into that category. So for every skill, you'd list out the problems. Then you decide which you want to tackle first and the rest fall into Plan C.

For the problem you want to resolve, you need to sit down with your child when NEITHER OF YOU ARE UPSET. So while in the middle of an argument, don't try to have a rational conversation. When you are sitting down, you try to drill down into why there is a problem - as the parent, you should be asking questions and letting your child answer. It's hard to not try and feed them answers but you really aren't supposed to - the book is great and there are a ton of resources online - to help you ask those questions. The end result should be that you really understand why your child is getting upset. From our earlier teeth brushing example - what if your kid hates the taste of the toothpaste or the toothbrush hurts their teeth? By drilling down, you will discover the WHY behind the problem.

THEN you brainstorm a solution. Again, you don't want to jump in and come up with an answer for your child, but the solution needs to be one that you and your child can both live with. Next, you put it into practice. If it works, great! You can go onto another problem. If not, you reconvene and tweak as needed.

So how did this work for us? We have been slowly Plan B-ing different issues and do have a list to get through. Nothing is perfect, but I've been happy with what we've done.

The first issue we tackled was him having a meltdown every time we asked him to clean his room. I can say 'Drew, go pick up your room.' and off she goes. NOT the case with Trent! I think this falls under several categories of lagging skills for Trent, so it was a great one for us to tackle together. I asked him ahead of time when we could talk about this issue, and we agreed on a time, and we came together and had a talk about why this was such a challenge. We drilled down and he admitted that he felt overwhelmed when he would look at his room and see everything that needed to be done and couldn't think about where to start. When I asked what we could do to prevent that from happening, he had a few suggestions that I couldn't agree to {remember both parties need to agree to the solution}. We finally agreed on a 2-fold approach: 1) on a daily basis, he will give us 3 minutes of effort - basically picking anything up! and 2) on the days we need him to fully clean his room, I will outline what needs to be done - 'Put away your clean clothes, pickup trash, put books on bookshelf' etc. - so that he sees it more clearly and then I do 1 task off the list. And it's working pretty well so far!

I think even the best-behaved kids in the world could benefit from Plan B because you end up really understanding why something is bothering your child and you work together to resolve it. Who doesn't love that? {grin}

Friday, November 8, 2019

Five on Friday

The Biltmore

It's been a couple of years since we've had a Gurley gurls vacation.
Well my fabulous mother-in-law is taking my sister-in-law and me to The Biltmore!
She's been a few times and thinks it's really amazing.
But the icing on the cake is we are going while The Downton Abbey exhibit is there!

Wildflower Republic

I discovered a really cute local shop
I am getting a ton of Christmas presents here - 
they have wooden signs, clothes, organic bath products, jewelry...
And the shop is adorable too!

Elizabeth Holmes

I recently discovered this IG account and it is amazing.
Elizabeth is a journalist who created 'So Many Thoughts' - 
her fashion thoughts on Megan and Kate.
And just in case you wonder about her 'journalism' - 
she interviewed the main cast of Downton Abbey for Town & Country - 
so she's a legit journalist ha.

And her So Many Thoughts got her a book deal - I can't wait to check it out.

You Should've Asked

Trent and I see the same therapist, 
and we were talking yesterday about the mental load of motherhood.
She sent me this 'comic' and I felt so heard!
I think my mom friends will really appreciate this.

Plank Challenge

If you follow me on IG {@aggieallena}, you've seen lots of plank pics lately.
I'm in a challenge through Jazzercise for a gift basket from the owner.
You guys know I love a good challenge!

Planks & Prosecco ~ Can I be the STAR on your tree? ~ Parking lot puddle plank

P.S. - I think I'm going to get my 150 classes tank-top!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

October 2019 Reads

October was a doozy in the book world, folks. I read FOURTEEN books {to be fair, some were super short} and they ran the gamut. We've got self-help books, thrillers, romance, books with a social I said, it's all over the place! 

You've Been Volunteered by Laurie Gelman - I read Class Mom not that long ago, even though it's been out for a few years and was happy to hear there was a sequel out. We've jumped 3 years in the timeline and Jen is class mom again for her son's 3rd grade class. Hilarity ensues. I think I might have liked this one even better? It was very fun and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez - I can't remember where I saw this recommended but the reviews on Amazon were great, so I was excited to read it. This follows Kristen and Josh who are Maid of Honor/Best Man in a wedding. They are attracted to each other but, of course, there are complications. I liked that this jumped back and forth from Kristen and Josh's perspectives and I enjoyed the story. It wasn't perfect, but I really liked it. The one loose thread that was bothering me {about a secondary character} is getting resolved in a sequel - yay!

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie - I used to read a lot by Jennifer Crusie and haven't in a few years. My mom got this for me at Goodwill and it was more of a short story, and it was very predictable/cheesy. If you like a very predictable romance, go for this one. If you don't, you won't be happy, ha.

Until You and Miracles by Judith McNaught - Until You follows the brother from Whitney, My Love and was a great historical romance. Miracles followed a friend and was a short story and was fine, ha. If you like romance, these are great. Again, if you don't, move along. {grin}

The Explosive Child by Ross Greene - I'm going to be writing a separate post about this book, but it has been a super eye-opening book for interacting with Trent, and I really think the strategy could apply for all parents. 

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan - Another Book of the Month book I borrowed from Karin - psychological thriller about an author whose book she is currently writing starts to blend in with her real life. I saw half of the twists coming - I liked that every other chapter was the 'fictional' story but then again that made it harder to fully engage with either story.

My Lady's Choosing by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris - I chose this specifically for the book challenge - this was a Victorian era Choose Your Own adventure romance-y type book. Super short since I just did it once but fun! The writing was cheesy but it was totally on-purpose and I thought that made it even more fun - making fun of itself. Allison did it too and enjoyed it - and we had different endings ha! If I hadn't had so many other books checked out from the e-library I would have wanted to run through it again to see where I would have ended up!

Prince Charming and Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins - I reserved American Royals which is about America if George Washington had become King - set in present day with the current monarchy. [Which this really bothers me because GW didn't have any biological kids, so who would have been his heir???] Since it wasn't available, this was recommended for me - it's about the prince and princesses had Scotland had its own monarchy. It was 100% YA. Prince Charming is about the younger sister of an American who is engaged to the heir to the throne of Scotland. Honestly I was a little bit annoyed by it but decided to read HRH because the lead was one of the princesses and is a lesbian - always trying to get out of my comfort zone by taking baby steps ha. I'm pretty sure there has to be another one because their is 1 more prince...I'm sure I'll read it but I wouldn't say these were the best.

The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower - Natasha recommended this, and it was so fascinating. It's a look inside the White House and the lives of the staff who work there. It felt a little bit gossipy - it was easy to tell who the favorite and least favorite families were - but also very respectful of the positions of the staff. I really enjoyed getting to see this side of the White House I never thought about. It ended while the Obamas were in the White House, and I definitely wish we could have gotten a peak of what the staff think of the Trumps ha!

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo - HOLY COW. I have had this book on reserve for 7 months {ever since Emily reviewed it} and it was 1000% worth the wait. This book has changed my perspective on life in so many ways. It was totally eye opening about white privilege and the role I'm playing {even passively} to perpetuate the problems we have with racism in our country. Every white person in America NEEDS to read this book. It was very uncomfortable to read at times, and I'm still conflicted on some of the takeaways, but it is really making me do some work to help our culture and especially my children's reality. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!!!

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas - This wasn't quite a sequel to The Hate U Give, but it was set in the same neighborhood. It follows an up-and-coming girl rapper, Bri, and what she goes through in her poverty and gang-stricken neighborhood as she tries to make it big - it was SO good. It was also a really great read AFTER reading White Fragility - love that my holds came in like that - I definitely would have thought about the characters differently had I read this before White Fragility. Angie Thomas' next book will take place in the same neighborhood, so I can't wait to read it too!

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes - And I ended the month with a typical, cute chick lit romance novel. Evvie's husband died on the day she was planning to leave him. She's now stuck in a cycle of guilt - not grief - and can't really move on. She lets a baseball pitcher whose arm gave out rent a room from her...and you can guess what happened. I definitely got annoyed at Evvie at times because I thought she was falling on her sword a little too much, but I really liked the banter and chemistry between the 2 characters, and this was a light easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed!

What have you read lately?

Monday, November 4, 2019

October Happenings

We had a lot of fun in October, and I want to remember these seasons of life with my little family!

We had Observation week in dance! So fun to watch what my girls are up to.

Paige got to 'help' in Drew's lyrical class.

International Festival at P's school 

Fall festival at Papa's church - this pic killed me!
Drew wasn't feeling well, so she and I missed out, boo. 


Superheroes - Koozie Girls!


Drew had her first horseback riding lesson and LOVED it!

Fall festival in our neighborhood 

More horses

Not pitching a fit, 
but her chosen position for showing off her Halloween outfit.

Amelia Earhart presentation for Riddle Day
{Our schools don't dress up for Halloween but do a presentation about a famous person who did good things}
We recycled her Skye aviator hat, ha.

Last but not least, HALLOWEEN!!!

Trent refused to pose with the kids, so I had to sneak this.

I love these action shots!
~   Zombie   ~   Mal from Descendants   ~   Butterfly   ~