I like a good challenge. Apparently.

That’s why I signed up for I’m Perfect Life r2014 Fitness Challenge, in July. I had to come up with 10 challenges (and complete them) by the end of the year. Luckily, I’d already completed a few (my second half marathon in May and then a week later a 5K plus stair challenge), but I still had 8 more… I finally decided I was going to walk/run for 30 days straight. It also helped my wallet by using Pact during each walk.

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I actually love walking, so I thought this would be fun.

And, for the most part, it was. On the weekends it was easier to get in a longer walk/run, but the week days I waited until the kids went to bed, so I found myself getting anxious around bedtime. As the days went on, I added a little more challenge to my challenge… I had to walk at least 2 miles each day. If the kids went to bed earlier, I’d try to get in 3-4 miles; if it was later, I settled on 2.

So, yesterday, I finished my 30th day. I logged 102.1 miles in that 30 days. Not too shabby. I averaged 3.4 miles a day. I’d say it was a challenge successfully completed.

Now it’s on to the next challenge. Riding my bike 5 miles straight. If anyone knows me, they know I trip over carpet and run into doorways, so balancing on a bike is a challenge in itself. (;

I’ve maybe had a few issues with listening lately. And, I’m not just talking about me. (: When I got to daycare on Friday, I was surprised to see Maddox sitting in the front office. Dang. I felt like the worst mom in the world when she told me, “Maddox has been having a rough week listening.” A whole week!?

I love Maddox’s daycare, they don’t bring up the small stuff, but when it continues to happen, they do. And, actually, this is the first time he’s been sent to the front office, since he’s been going there. But when your kid is sitting in the front office when you come to pick him up, things need to change.

So, I decided it was time to make some charts. Some listening charts.

DISCIPLINEcharts_BLENDRA

 

I made weekly charts, so the goal seemed attainable. There are three spots: morning, afternoon and night. If they listen in the morning, they get to put a sticker on before they leave for school. If they don’t get any bad marks at school, they get to put a sticker on for the afternoon. Simple.

So far it’s still fun, but we have had some mess-ups. And, on those times they don’t feel like listening, they get to put a big red X in spot of the sticker. That’s not so fun. I decided if they get a full chart with no Xs, then they’ll get to pick a small reward. I love rewards.

And, because I want your kids to listen too, I’ve made some printables (and stickers) for your kids. Or for yourself. Or your spouse. Keep scrolling.

ListeningChart_Boy-01ListeningChart_Girl-02

Sometimes all of the not listening makes you turn into a yelling machine. So, here’s a chart to stop all of the YELLING! Maybe if I had more wine, the yelling wouldn’t bother me.

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And, sometimes all of the not listening really makes you wanna cuss. I’ve made a chart for that too. All of these charts should make for a nice family bonding experience. It’s really not fair for only the kids to suffer.

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I’ve made a few stickers that fit on Avery 8293 round labels (1.5 inch): Ninja Turtles, Disney Princesses, Wine glasses, FSU football helmets. I haven’t actually printed these yet, but I’m sure they’ll work great because I’m awesome.

Lemme know if you have any charts that have been successful for you and maybe I’ll make those too. Since school is pretty much in full swing, I’ll be adding more charts, like daily reading, writing and arithmetic ones. Duh.

Some days you wake up and you just want to drink cupcake-flavored coffee. Some days you can’t stop thinking about cupcakes until you finally google: cupcake coffee creamer. I found this recipe and stayed right with it, except for doubling it. It only called for half a can of sweetened condensed milk, what am I supposed to do with the other can? Drink it. Probably shouldn’t.

So here she is, my favorite homemade, super simple, why wasn’t I making this sooner, cupcake coffee creamer.

blendra_coffee_creamer copy-sm

Seriously, it takes like 3 minutes to blend up. I made mine while both kids were screaming, so I could drown out the noise. Multi-tasker.

I used the powdered Hot Chocolate Cupcake (it does not make a good cake, but makes a good creamer) Cake Mix, for my first batch. Let me know which flavors you enjoy.

Tonight I went for a 4-mile walk, while listening to The Power of Habit.

I’m trying to start a habit.
Blendra habit

I’m on my ninth day of walking/running, in a row. Only 12 more and this should be a habit. Only problem with habits are they’re easy to break. The book says you need to crave the reward your habit offers in order to want to continue with the habit. So far my reward is getting to listen to this audio book! But, what’s gonna happen when I finish the book?

I’m a sucker for 4-ingredient foods. And who doesn’t like ice cream? No body, that’s who. No body doesn’t like ice cream! Mmmm.

Blendra_Oreo_IceCream

So when I found this recipe for 4-ingredient ice cream on Pinterest, I pinned it. Then I forgot about it, until one of my friends on Facebook actually made it. So, I did what any person would do, I found that recipe and I made it too. I had to change the recipe a bit because Aldi didn’t have cheesecake pudding. They had vanilla.

Sometimes the actual time to make is more than recipes claim, but the Seeded at the Table lady wasn’t wrong, I’ll say it really did take around 5 minutes to make. But, it was five looooong minutes spent whipping the heavy cream into stiff peaks with a hand mixer, but I feel like it was well worth it. I spent $1.79 on a pint of cream, $1.79 on a package of generic oreos (and we only used half of the cookies for the ice cream, then my husband promptly ate the rest while the ice cream was freezing), $0.79 on vanilla instant pudding and $0.99 on sweetened condensed milk. And this makes 1.5 quarts of ice cream for only $5.40. It’s a win I tell ya.

Mmmm.

Oreo Ice Cream
3.4 oz – Instant Pudding
14 oz – Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups – Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 pkg – Oreos (or generics, whatev’)

In a large bowl mix sweetened condensed milk and pudding until pudding is dissolved. In another large bowl pour cream and beat on high speed for 5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold cream into sweetened condensed pudding mix until fully incorporated. Crush oreos (I used a ziplock bag and crushed with my hands) then slowly stir cookies into cream/pudding mix. Pour into a 2 quart bowl, cover with a lid and freeze for 4 hours.

 

CookieBrownieBLENDRA-wp

 

So, my sister made these awesome cookie brownies. She’s a baker. A very good baker. Then she graciously handed me the rest of the pan for a food day at my work. Here’s what happened.

Coworker: Those are so good! Will you give me the recipe?
Me: Umm, yeah, I didn’t make those. I’ll email my sister for the recipe. (;

Then this happened:

Cookie Brownie Recipe

CookieBrownie

After I ran my first half marathon, my husband was so proud of me he bought me this big 13.1 magnet and stuck it on the fridge. Aw. That’s sweet. But, dang, that’s an ugly magnet.

After I ran my first full marathon, I said, “well, since I have a 13.1 magnet, I guess I need a 26.2 magnet. Running that marathon certainly wasn’t easy.” But, dang, now I have two ugly magnets on my fridge.

So, with the help of two friends, we’ve created some super sweet magnets for me to stick on my fridge.

PMC003PMC006

Dang, you say, I don’t like running. As a matter of fact, I hate running. Don’t worry, we’ve created a super sweet magnet for you.

PMC002

Eh, I hate running so much I don’t want a button about not running either. What I really like to do is lift weights.

PMC008

PMC010

PMC012

Kapow.

But, I really wanted that in pink and not red? Go check out Pigeon Milk Club. If we don’t have it and you want it, just ask. We’ll probably make it. Just like any good mom would do. (:

And, because you don’t really wanna stick magnets on your fridge, all you really wanna do is pin them to your workout bag. We do that too.

Him: I guess I could get a McChuble.

Me: Huh? What’s that?

Him: You know, when you smash a McChicken and a McDouble together.

Me: Bahahahaha, that’s awesome.

Him: All the kids are doing it.

I’d give credit where credit is due, but “him” is not here to ask. So, for right now, I’ve just made up this awesomeness, for everyone to enjoy. Click the picture to enlarge, you’ll be glad you did.

1plus1equals2

Dear McDonalds lawyers, please don’t sue me, this is not an actual McDonald’s sandwich and is intended for hilarious purposes only. But, PS, McDonald’s marketing department, all the cool kids are doing this, you should too.

Apparently, I’ve got the gift. The gift of gab, that is. I will talk your ear off, if you’ll let me. My story will start way back in 1988 and continue to 2014. And, even then (most likely) that story will have no point.

Talking is fun to me. I like to talk to people. I hate to talk in front of people.

But, really, hate is a strong word. Technically it’s not even the right word. I don’t hate it. I fear it. I fear I’ll look stupid. I fear I’ll sound stupid.

And, after last week’s ridiculous attempt at a Table Topic speech, I did what any sane person would do, I went ahead and never showed up again joined Toastmasters.

Decide_More_Afraid

So, today, instead of being an honored guest, I walked into Toastmasters as a fellow Toastmaster. Cool. Again, I sat down on that cold, hard chair, with sweat dripping down my back and told myself, “you don’t have to speak today. Speak when you’re ready. If that’s next week. That’s okay.”

I felt my face turn a nice shade of red and stomach started churning, as the Table Topics were announced. Last week’s fear settled right in my chest. I felt like I couldn’t breath. But, oddly enough, as time passed the topics seemed easy. Everyone was participating. And, just as soon as I had talked myself into it, I heard, ‘I’ll do one.” Whew. Close call. You almost embarrassed yourself again.

This is good. This is fine. We’ll run out of time soon. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel guilty not doing it. You did it last week.

Then, I heard, “I think we have time for another one.”

Silence.

Everyone had given a speech, except me. The guilt was now bigger than my fear.

“Alright, I’ll do it.” I heard myself say.

And then people were clapping and cheering me on: “Yay!” “Good job, Kendra!” “We knew you’d do it again!” Dang. I can do this. I can do this. But, really… can I really do this?

So, here it was, in my face, my table topic: If you could go back and talk to yourself at the age of ten, what advice would you give yourself?

“Ok. Shoot. I wasn’t supposed to say ok,”  I said as I paused. “Okay,” I said again, nervously, then I laughed.

“Um, I wouldn’t tell my 10-year-old self anything, because I can’t even remember much of my childhood at all. Not because it was awful or anything because It was awesome. And, so, anyway, instead of going back to ten, I would just go back to last week. When I was standing right here. When I couldn’t talk at all. And I would tell myself, “This isn’t so bad. Don’t be so scared. You can do this…”

And then I kept talking. Honestly, after that, I don’t remember what I said. I remember looking at everyone. I remember feeling nervous, but I kept talking. Then my head started feeling tingly. I glanced over at the time clock and it wasn’t green, but I didn’t stop talking this time. Then my lips started to tingle. I felt like I’d been standing there for longer than a minute. But, I hadn’t. Apparently, when I stand up to talk, time stands still.

My fingers felt tingly and my leg started to twitch, as I blurted out, “alright. I’m done” and I quickly threw myself in my seat.

Everyone clapped. I was embarrassed. Again. Less embarrassed than last week, but still embarrassed.

I ended table topics and it was time to vote for best speaker and best table topics. My hands were shaky and my head was spinning, as I quickly wrote two names and passed my sheet over. Just as the meeting wrapped up, I hear, “It’s time to announce the winners! And, the winner of best table topics is Kendra!”

Wait, whoa. What?! No. What? Me? I won? I won.

And, then, the president handed me this.

ribbon_MG_5445

I got  a ribbon! Those two things in that picture above are two things, two years ago, I never, ever, thought I could do. Or, ever wanted to do. Run 26.2 miles and speak in front of people (for fun).

I’m pretty sure I have this video to thank for that ribbon. I watched it right before I left for Toastmasters. Best video ever. Watch it.

Let’s punch fear in the ear, then that 4-star B won’t be able hear us. PS, I made up that word, 4-star B. Pretty awesome, huh?

“I think you’re gonna get up and speak today. And, then you’re gonna blog about it.”

“Maybe” is what I reply aloud. “Nope, not happening,” is what I hear in my head.

Just as I have for the past four weeks, I sit down in the same, hard, plastic chair, next to the same u-shaped table, in the same chilly room. And, immediately, I begin to sweat.

I’m able to say my name and why I’m here, without too much trouble. Then the Table Topics Master begins her normal spiel, “Table topics are random topics that you will be asked to speak about for 45 seconds to 2.5 minutes.” Easy, right? Easy for me, because I’m not speaking.

Just as she’s wrapping up, she says, “I think Kendra’s gonna speak today.” I can feel my face turning bright red as she looks right at me and continues, “it’s your fourth time here! I have a feeling!” And she smiles.

I, of course, smile back and do my classic nervous-giggle. Yeah, that’s not happening, lady.

As the main speeches near the end, I can feel my heart racing, my hands are getting sweaty, my legs are starting to stick to my hard, plastic chair. Table topics have to be soon. How am I gonna say no when she asks? I’ve already declined before.

Then, as I hear, “the meeting is running a bit behind, we’ll only have time for three table topics today.” I feel my heart start to slow to a steady pace. Whew. No way she’s calling on me, especially if she only has time for three.

Finally, I’m able to pay attention to the meeting again, “for these table topics, I’ll be giving you an undesirable location and I’d like you to tell me why you love living there.” She starts with Tom, “You live by a nuclear power plant…”

Holy hell, thank god I don’t have to actually do one of these. What in the world would I even say for that?

Of course, Tom’s already talking and it’s funny, “the best part is soon you’ll start to glow…” I was laughing and certainly relieved I didn’t have to give a speech. After all, I am a guest and they don’t pressure you into anything at Toastmasters.

As Tom takes his seat, she looks around and says, “Well, I did say I thought Kendra would speak today. So, Kendra, would you like to do the next table topic?”

Was that my name? That was my name! Oh my god, that was my name! Am I hyperventilating? No. I’m fine. I’m fine.

As I hear her saying, “You don’t have to do this. We don’t pressure you into anything.”  I stand up.

Wait, what?! Why in the hell am I standing up?

I smile and with a nervous giggle, I sputter, “Um, make it an easy one!”

“Oh, I will, it’s so easy! You live in Garden City. On a farm. Everyone knows how awful it smells in Garden City, we’ve all driven through it. The cows, the…”

She continues talking, but I’m no longer listening.

Everyone is looking at me. I can feel their stares. I’m not looking at anyone. I can’t focus on anyone. Except the timer. When is he gonna start the time? I wonder if he’ll start it if I just stand here? I don’t hear a click. Maybe I should just say one word and he’ll start it.

“Ummmm”

Nope, he’s still not starting that damn timer. Think. Think of something to say. Don’t just stand here. Maybe in a few seconds something will come to me. Yes. Think. Think. Think. Nope. I can stand here all day. Not saying a word. SAY SOMETHING!

“Okay, Um, Garden. Uh. City. I uhhhh”

I stop talking and continue to stand. Face burning. Head spinning.  Thoughts running through my head, but nothing is making sense…

Shit, I don’t even know where Garden City is. Does that matter? I’m still standing. Still not talking. Not looking at anyone except that timer. Still not talking. That damn stoplight timer will not turn green. Which, why would it turn green? I’m not talking. Time is not moving. Kendra, just say something! Anything.

I look up, my voice quivers as I blurt out, “Okay, IIII’m, uh, done.” Quickly, I sit back down and put my hand up to my face. Embarrassed.

15 seconds. That’s all it was. 3 seconds of talking and 12 seconds of standing.

My face is burning. I can feel the sympathetic stares. And the sweat, as it drips down my back. Sheesh, really?

Silently, I sit. I pretend to listen to the final table topic, but I’m just listening to the voices in my head. Don’t cry. Don’t leave. Don’t cry. Don’t leave. Keep smiling.

And, then it happens. The meeting is over and the supportive stories are thrown my direction:

“I started out just like you, I could barely say my name in front of a group. It’ll get easier!”

“We’ve all been right there, that’s why we’re here!”

“I shouldn’t have singled you out. I’m sorry. I’ll feel so bad if you don’t come back next week. Sometimes all you need is that one push.”

“It took so much courage to even stand up. Most people wouldn’t have even stood up. I see courage in you that will pull you through this class. In two years they will bring this up again, and then they’ll say, look at you now!”

I could have cried.

I could have walked out.

I didn’t do either, but I definitely thought about it.

Most of all, I could have stayed sitting in that same hard, plastic chair, as I had the four weeks prior, and just said, “no thanks, maybe next time.”

But, I didn’t.

TRY-FAIL-BLENDRA

Samuel Beckett said it best, “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better”