Tag Archives: love

Stylin’ Photo Shoot

Family photo

He is the most handsome baby known to man.

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And he is the most handsome babe known to man. :)

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They are the cutest little twins I know. Daddy and me style.

I decided I would play around with my camera while we waited for the professional to show up and take our family photos. :)

Selfies at the Farmer’s Market

Farmers Market is a fun event we enjoy partaking in throughout summer. We have a great one just down the street from us; lots of vendors, delicious food and live music. Super fun.

Today we walked all throughout but as usual, ended with a cup of coffee. This was a cute little parking spot for us as a family to enjoy coffee, treats  and selfie photos before heading home.

IMG_6034We must be the “selfie” family. Most all of our pictures as a family are selfies. At least we have two plus people in each photo right– isn’t that worth something? I’m not that obsessed with taking photos of myself like some people are….ah hem….maybe I used to be… or maybe you are one of them… I’m not judging you as this may bring us closer as friends! But I will say, whether you are obsessed with selfies or not, I should have patented the “selfie” way back when, because when I was in middle school I took them all the time. And now…. it’s the cool thing to do I guess.

Enough about the selfies, lets talk sugar…

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Not too sure what to say other than sometimes “rules” must fly out the window. How terrible is a cake pop for you, that my friends is a question I don’t really want to answer. I’m sure with the ungodly amount of sugar it holds along with absolutely no nutritional value, I’m sitting at a lose-lose scenario. And, I’m okay with it.

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I’m hoping one day he will begin to appreciate all the photos I take and will offer smiles without staring at the camera as if he’s starring at an alien.

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To counteract all the non-smiley photos, he is the cutest ever when he crosses his legs…and he does this all the time.

IMG_6036This is a must post photo as Michael thinks he’s absolutely hilarious. He gets what he deserves when he chooses not to smile for me; a photo for the world to see. 

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Okay, okay, okay, a little coaxing and I can get a special  smile.

IMG_6042Sweet pea looks as if he’s ready to go golfing. 
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Now we begin our extremely short journey home as little man needs a nap, pronto!

Oh how we dread the end of summer. We are we an outside family and love summers here in Oregon; so many things to do. The dread of Fall bringing on the rain as it will limit our activities; not all, but some!

Moment of Truth: Thank the Lord for summer as our mood swings definitely chill out in the hot summer heat! :)

DIY- 60 Reasons Of Love

A couple months ago we celebrated my dad’s 60th birthday. I am still shocked that he is 60 and has all his children grown, married and with families. He is a wonderful Papa to every grandchild and loves them and protects them just as he did his own three daughters.

For my dad’s 60th, I wanted to do something extra special as I have always looked up to my dad in many facets. He’s been the utmost example of Christ in a family and how to walk with Him and seek Him above all else. He has taught me what true love should look like and lives that out on a daily basis with his wife and children.

I decided a book would be meaningful and worth the time to display his love on 60 different pages. I purchased this book as it is leather bound and is transportable. He can be reminded of the deep riches God has gifted him within every page of this book. Whether kept at his bedside, in his truck, on the coffee table or on his desk, he can carry it with him.

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I must be honest here, the easiest part of the book was writing down the 60 reasons of love. My dad has been an example to many people and continues to live a humble life. 60 reasons was extremely simple but the challenging part was my lack of creativity. I’m not the most creative person nor did I realize the amount of work to “create” sixty different ideas and display them on a page. Definitely not the easiest but I did conquer the task. So– there is hope. If you are not creative like me, you can still make this project a success. If you are creative you will blow my project out of the water. :)

First, pick a theme. I wanted to base the book off of my dad’s love for Christ and how he displays that in all facets of his life. I began the sixty reasons with a cross to display God’s love for us and laying His life down for His children.

photo 1This picture was taken on my wedding day.

My dad loves and accepts his children with only a deep love God has blessed him with, and he continually displays that love with each of us; I am blessed. 

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My father loves and accepts EACH son-in-law as if they were his own. He truly loves them and accepts them no matter what and has displayed this in numerous situations.

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He loves each grandchild with a sweet love only a papa could have. He exemplifies this in every interaction with sweet tender care. His grandchildren look up to him and admire him.

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Finances have never got in the way with this man. No matter the age or situation his children are in, he is there to help no matter the cost and no matter the hardship.

He has always been a provider.

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He was always there to support my dreams and help me succeed with finding my purpose in this life.

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What an example of unconditional love. 37 years of marriage, three children and happier than ever with his family. Life may not be easy, but boy does loving your family make all the difference in the world.

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Lastly, my dad taught me to walk with Jesus. All growing up my dad would put notes on the counter in our bathroom when he would head off to work. Whatever the note held, he always ended it with: “walk with Jesus.” This was something that carried with each of his daughters as he continued to live this out himself.

Our family theme: Walk With Jesus.

By doing so, not only does the memory reside with each daughter, but Christ love also resides while we each walk our own journey with Christ.

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Thank you dad for being an example of love; true love. I appreciate you more than anything and thank you for teaching me life’s deepest lessons; how to walk with Jesus. 
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Once I accomplished my 60 pages and gifted this to him, he was blessed. He is a humble man who deserves to hear what the world sees in him. He is a living example of Christ.

This project was a gift for me as well, realizing how blessed I am with a father who put Christ above all else knowing this world will soon pass away and nothing else will matter.

Make your gift meaningful and show someone what they mean to you.

Have Your Kids Walked Away From God?

How many kids are leaving home after high school and walking away from their “faith?”

These questions are important but there is a harsh reality to these questions as well. We all long for our families to be all out for God, live a life for Christ, walk with Christ and to pursue Him with all that we are. There will come a time in every one of our lives when we are faced with the question: “What do I believe?”. The question poses a response of self reflection and self purpose. Do we feel we have a purpose worth living for in this life and if so, what does it entail? Secondly, what we have been taught, whether from faith or lack of faith, does that define who I am?

Thanks to behavioralhealthhub.com

Thanks to behavioralhealthhub.com

We all have experienced on some level or another raising kids in a Christian home or being raised in one yourself. Or perhaps you have nothing to do with God and have simply watched a close friend partake in either scenario. In either case, we all have a picture of what it looks like whether good or bad. The problem with a “church going family” is that our lives often do not reflect the work of God. We can do all the right things and say all the right things but are your actions living proof of what you say you believe?

Are kids attending youth group because it’s fun and exciting or because they are becoming equipped with the Word of the Lord? Are we shipping our kids off to church camp in hopes to straighten them out? Are we going to church because we long to hear the Lord’s teaching and be in community with those around us, or do we go in hopes that someone else hears the message without applying the message to ourselves. Or–maybe we attend church because we believe it is the right thing to do but what teaching do we carry with us throughout the week?

Ephesians 4: 11-12 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

Here’s my personal opinion. Although I am not a psychologist, having experienced life and working with kids on many different levels, I’ve come to realize there are two extremely challenging times in a persons life. These two events in a child’s life will begin to define who they are based off how they respond and what they choose to partake in, but we as the parents have the responsibility to properly equip them.

The first defining moment; middle school. We all know middle school is the dreaded age any man, woman, or child would long to run away from. Puberty, squeaky voices, tall girls, short boys, pimples, acceptance, bullying, popularity, fashion, etc. These are all extremely weighty for a middle school child. These are the critical years of losing ones innocence and beginning to enter the stage of awareness. I do not mean losing innocence in a sexual connotation although that is the route our society travels (this is a whole different topic of discussion). I mean innocence in the realm of simply an innocent child becoming aware of their surroundings and beginning to enter adulthood. For example, what used to be an exciting time to kiss mommy and daddy is now a humiliating event. Boys caring about their hairstyle, girls wanting to wear makeup. Kids begging for a cellphone, email account and connecting on social media, the list goes on. Things that once were not of importance in your family now takes the lead of every dinner conversation. The continuation of innocence long to stay forever with our children, must flee at some point or another due to the fall of man. They will and are growing up. They will begin to experience pain in this life that you as their parent can no longer protect them from. The sadness sets in as your child experiences their first real heartache in this life. The awareness has officially set in and children begin to lose their sense of innocence.

Secondly, college brings about a trying time in a young adults life as well. Leaving home at the ripe age of 18 is like sending your 2 year old off to church camp. They are entirely too young and uneducated on how to survive in this world on their own. They are still babies. Take a look around at church and pick out the 17 year old standing two rows in front of you. They will be graduating next year. Do they look old enough? Do they have a handle on life and how to survive in this big world we call society? Are they capable of handling finances and living alone? It’s a pressure cooker out there. Expectations are high and money does not fall from the sky. Our kids take off from home with some “idea” of what life is all about but hold very little “real” knowledge on what to expect. Are they equipped?

Thanks to abpworldgroup.com

Thanks to
abpworldgroup.com

This is a scary reality but more scary is our children drowning in our society. Their lost souls seeking acceptance from anyone and anything. We can teach your kids all we want and give them all the knowledge in the world, but they will have to choose what they believe themselves when push comes to shove. Sorority houses, parties, drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships worth investing in– the list goes on. I’m sure all of us have those stories that come from our college days and with hindsight would change many events. Our troubled years tend to be figuring out who we are and what we believe about this world. What is our survival mechanism. Sometimes we pull out of the haze and other times we are stuck in those years for a long time, simply lost.

Our kids need solid teaching, solid family foundation and solid biblical teaching. Our churches need to equip our students to learn how to walk the life of Christ; they need guidance not entertainment. They need tough love and acceptance. They need a safe haven and open communication. These kids need to know how to survive in this world without living at home. They need protection but Truth. They need love. They need guidance along with experience. They need Christ as the focal point of their being. We need to stop sugar coating life and equip these children.

It all starts in the home. We can pray that our churches provide great the accountability for our children but it begins and ends in our home. Life is not easy, but Christ will and has overcome this world. We need to stop with the mediocrity and be outright for Christ and Him alone. Children need to see us live out Christ in our home, families and relationships. They need to see us actively living the Narrow path rather than speak on it. They follow our example not our words.

I found this article and was actually quite amused by it. Not because I think it’s poorly written but because I think it gets back to the basics. (Read here)

Moment of Truth: Lets get back to the basics. Equip our children. Pray for our children and their tender hearts to be malleable for Christ’s teaching and guiding. Let’s live out the powerful teaching God has impressed on our hearts. Live a life that is extraordinary, not following the path of this ordinary life. Be an example to your children.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. 

Loving Time With The Cousins

Summer has come and has almost left us indefinitely for the year of 2014. Can you believe we are already 14 years into the millennium? Not that I really cared prior to the new millennium but it actually makes me feel old now that all our kids will think we are from the stone age. Kind of a weird thought, but I felt it was worth sharing. Tweet about it for me, than it will be something of value. Everything tweeted is honorable and worth acknowledging right?

Enough of my tangent about something of no value, but intriguing it was… while we were up visiting family, Cooper got to spend some amazing time with his three cousins. They are all boys. They all love outside. They all love cars and tractors and most of all…they all love one another! It was so terribly cute to watch them all play together and care for Cooper as he was the baby!

Trying to keep up with the boys in all their outside activities, Cooper did mighty well.

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All the boy cousins

Agezu holding his little kitty. Oh how he loves these little kitties.

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Showing off his sweet little kitty!

I think Cooper became over stimulated pretty quickly while the dog and two kitties ran around. He wasn’t quite sure which animal to attend to first.

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“Woof Woof”

Come back kitty, come back! The kitties take off runny while the boys tried to chase them only to pick them up by their necks… no wonder they ran away!

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Cooper loves his cousins and loves to call them “the boys.” It is great to have older cousins for Cooper to play with who also loves sports, outside and trucks and tractors too!

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Cooper kept saying “Tim, Tim” I think implying that he was holding the kitty too! :)

Agezu trying to explain to Cooper how to properly hold the kitty…

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Cooper trying to take kitty holding skills seriously…

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Is the kitty smiling?

He could not get enough of these little kittens. They were so patient with him as he drug them all across the yard. Smashing their face and grasping their necks.

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The grey little kitty would run away quicker than a bullet leaves a gun but boy did Cooper beat him this time.

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Don’t you try and run away from me

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Ah-ha, I gotcha now!

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Let’s hug and make up

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“I’ll say goodbye now..”

Finally he let the kitties go and play in the woodpile. 
IMG_5442Okay… one more goodbye! 
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Bye bye woof woof, better known as Moose! he’s the largest Lab you will find but the best trained hunting dog around. He’s beyond well-behaved and taller than Cooper and… he had no fear of the Moose!

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“Thanks Auntie and Uncle for letting me come play with all the kitties and puppies and chase them around. It was so fun!”

Cooper had such a good time at Auntie and Uncle’s house and absolutely loved not only chasing animals around, but chasing the boys around the yard too!

Thanks for a great visit. Wished we lived closer.

Movies in the Park

If you want a cheap date night or family night, look for your local movies in the park. In Oregon, you will find them all throughout the Portland-metropolitan area. In our own neighborhood we have them every Friday night, and just one stop further, we have them every Thursday night.

This has been a great past time memory that we have participated in since Cooper was born. And although Cooper hasn’t been old enough to enjoy the movies, he has enjoyed playing in the park and having a picnic. Last night was fabulous. The weather was perfect, overcast skies, and an over zealous baby! He was beyond happy and content pushing his little truck around, playing in the water and most of all…playing with his mama. ;)

We went 2 hours early to the park to enjoy some time playing around and also because I wasn’t sure if Cooper could manage that late of an evening. We got home at 9:30 about 45 minutes after the movie was set to begin. Cooper had a blast and so did I.

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This is a great water park

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Ready-Set-Go

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And he’s off…

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Playing in the Water

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And out of the water

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Trying to wear mama’s shoes

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Taking a breather from playing

Mommy and me

Mommy and me

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Adorable

Getting ready for the show.

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Making himself comfortable

Oh what a night… so many activities took place just while hanging out in the park for one night. Tired little boy slept extremely well! 

Is Life Delightfully Doable?

I was thinking about the name of my website today and how my caption below says “finding doable ways to delight in life’s circumstances.” I was also realizing how I’m the author and creator of my blog, which means I can share with you whatever I choose and also withhold from you just the same. I want everyone to know life has been anything but easy for me and that, in and of itself, is exactly why I started this website. My goal and desire is for those reading to gain hope while understanding life is not easy, but God did promise us a future hope and peace along the way. We can choose to delight in life, no matter the circumstance. Friends I am living proof of this and it is only by the grace of God, that I can do so.

I’ve spoke on forgiveness a few different times and have explained that the essence of forgiveness is not a feeling but a choice. If we can gain that acceptance, we will be better off. Same goes with life. The more you focus on the bad and the negative, the more your heart will become resentful and pessimistic. Choose to delight in life’s ups and downs and learn along the way. We will never be in a trial longer than it takes to learn the deep rooted issues God is asking us to obtain on a heart level; not a mind level. Knowing and doing are two entirely different concepts and have two entirely different outcomes.

My life as of the past two years has been extremely challenging. Well, let me go back a little further in history. My life has been challenging for years, but since I came to Christ, I’ve struggled more on a Spiritual level fighting against my flesh. My relationship with my husband has been very exhausting as we hadn’t really known one another when we got pregnant. We got married and two months later we had our precious little blessing. With that comes immense hardship. I see God working all things together for good, for those who love Him. But on the same hand, I see the consequences of my sin, living in sin and having a baby out of wedlock still has deep rooted effects on our marriage. Sometimes I get so angry, but than I realize God is taking my sin and turning it for good. It was my choice to live the lifestyle I had previously known and it’s also my responsibility to accept the consequences.

Thanks to harmonythoughts.com

Thanks to harmonythoughts.com

Moment of Truth: Within those tough trials and those tough seasons of life, I am continually reminding myself to delight in life’s circumstances as it will mold me and make me into a happier, thankful person.

 

Exhausted Mentally, Emotionally and Physically

Boy does the rain never stop in the lives of the Cook’s. We can’t seem to live a life that allows for a breath of fresh air. When we do things we “go big” so to speak. Between my husband and son, these past 2 years, or more specifically the last 6 months have been an utter whirlwind of emotions.

This past weekend was my sons birthday and we headed to the beach to enjoy a nice weekend away and a well needed vacation “from our problems.” Little did we know our problems were going to transpire into an exhausting, scary weekend away from our abode. The evacuation routes you often see when you head to the coast was exactly what we needed this trip…except in the form of a hospital. Unfortunately I saw them when we entered town and bookmarked it in the back of my mind hoping it was my fear stepping in; not reality. Although we tend to frequent hospitals on an all too frequent basis, Ocean Beach Hospital was a step in the right direction.

As we left town Thursday we were driving over the bridge in Portland waving goodbye to Randall Children’s Hospital opting to never arrive there again unless for the delivery of a newborn baby. Well our wish came true this weekend except that it was only granted for the children’s hospital. Stepping foot into an ER at the beach was not excluded from our list of high hopes. The day of Cooper’s 2nd birthday, he came down with a nasty “bug.” I use that word lightly as my son never has symptoms of a common cold except simply not being able to breath or talk. No runny nose, no cough, no sore throat, no ear infections no nothing is ever on the agenda. So when Cooper came down with this nasty little “bug” we were a bit disappointed as it was the day of his birth and we had planned to play most the day at the beach. Well….that did not happen. He was still in high spirits and we still had a great day.

Come evening, I lay him to rest and kissed his little lips. While playing cards with the family I checked on him and noticed he was very wheezy in his breathing; both inhaling and exhaling. It worried me but not enough to let me anxiety kick-in in overdrive. We kept playing cards and headed to bed pretty late. Less than an hour later Cooper was up and struggling to breath, sleep and simply lay still. Laying in bed with us for a bit, struggling to breath and simply not feeling good while I worried all night long if my little man would quit breathing, allowed for very little sleep. It was an exhausting night!

The following morning he woke up in good spirits and within the hour quickly took a turn for the worse. From playing to laying on the floor writhing in pain and a fever that shook my spirits was very unnerving. His breathing progressively worsened allowing for four adults to become highly concerned. Early nap was definitely on the schedule while multiple phone calls to the advice nurse took place.

My mom and I escaped for a couple hours during nap to grab coffee and enjoy the shops in Long Beach. We had a good time and also grabbed some medical supplies for the little man; humidifier, probiotics and honey sticks to coat his throat. Upon our arrival back at the house, my son just woke up to be extremely labored in his breathing to the point it was beyond scary. His little body struggling with each breath wheezing and with no vocal cords at this point was so scary. He couldn’t talk at all!

Off to the ER. We quickly arrive and immediately were seen by a doctor. No cold symptoms still causing for confusion yet again. They decided to treat for Coup and quickly give a steroid shot as well as a ventilator full of medicine. Within minutes we noticed his little voice coming back to us in a very quiet, raspy sense, but it was better than nothing.

Three hours later they send us home with strict instructions to follow up with our pediatrician. Talk of further complications such as cystic fibrosis came up which of course plagued me with fear. On the other hand, finding something that could be causing this is more of a relief than simply no answers at all. All I want is to find a reason and start treating. Now of course, I really pray nothing is wrong with my son and that we can avoid further hospitalizations but that doesn’t seem like the easy answer we will receive.

Wednesday we followed up with our pediatrician with great success, I feel we finally are in forward motion in search for answers. We have an appointment set with a pulmonologist and will be treating Cooper for croup on a preventative level. Our doctors believes Cooper unfortunately will continue to get croup and has had it previously. We will be treating on a daily basis to lessen the severity of croup as we cannot actually prevent it at all. But the goal here, is to keep us from frequent hospitalizations and labored breathing.

This is only the beginning of the long road ahead, but in some weird way I feel confident and relieved that we are seeking this further and searching for answers. Hoping his little esophagus is our only issue will require us to continue battling croup until he’s roughly 5 years old. The good news in that this condition does not have long term effects. Praise Jesus!

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We will wait, pray and be thankful that as of right now, what we know to be true is bearable! I will keep you all updated with how the appointment with the specialist goes.

Moment of Truth: Life was never promised to be easy, but God did promise He will never give us more than we can handle. At many times in my life, I have felt I was on the edge and God swept in and allowed a calm in my storm. Circumstances may not change, but our hearts do. I pray my heart grows tender and I continue to seek the Lord, rather than build resentment and allow fear to take over my life.

Coffee Crumb Cake Muffins- NY Style

Coffee Cake Muffins, New York style. OH MY GOODNESS! These are almost too perfect! They are entirely unhealthy but how can you have healthy coffee cake and actually enjoy it? I don’t believe in wasting calories and fat on muffins that simply are a knock off. :)

We LOVE these muffins and decided to take them to the beach this weekend to enjoy with family and allow them to partake in our indulgence as well. They are a great hit and everyone enjoys a good coffee cake muffin with some fruit and coffee.

Ingredients:

For the muffin:

  • 1¼ cup unbleached flour (Cake flour works great too)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp butter softened but still cool
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk

For the crumb topping:

  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ cups cake flour

In a stand mixer, mix together flour, sugar, soda and salt.

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Add in butter and eggs.

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Stir in vanilla and buttermilk (for homemade quick buttermilk click here)

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Beat until incorporated but do not over mix.

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Fill muffin cups 1/3 full leaving plenty of room for the crumb topping and for the muffin to rise.

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Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except flour together and mix thoroughly. Add in flour and stir really well. Spoon on top of batter.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until crumb topping is golden brown and batter comes out clean with a toothpick inserted.

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Cool on wire rack and enjoy! They also freeze well in an airtight container.

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Recipe adapted from Table for two blog

Little Man Workouts

Oh how my son never ceases to amaze me. His sweet little personality in every step throughout the day is a constant reminder of thankfulness.

I believe Cooper has officially put himself in charge of daddy’s workouts and I believe that Cooper would make the best trainer out there.

He decided he wanted to work out with daddy and do his ab workout. His tiny little body lay next to daddy while he copies everything daddy does from P90X ab ripper x.

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“Look Daddy, I can do them too!”

“Get to work daddy” as Cooper has happily put himself in charge of daddy’s workouts and keeps him going. He continues to ask for “one more” every time Michael stops to take a break. “One more” pull-up, “one more” sit up. Keep going daddy, it’s fun to watch! :) 

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Sweet baby was so proud of himself. I can’t believe this little guy is going to be 2 next Saturday the 21st. :( It’s been really hard on me as I am so happy he’s growing and developing his cute little personality, but I am also so sad the baby stage is officially gone.