Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday, Karys!

I don't know where the time has gone, but this weekend Michel and I traveled to Longview to celebrate our niece's 3rd birthday! Before my sister had kids, I never knew how much fun it could be to be an aunt until I became one. I am so blessed to have a niece and nephew that are so much fun and seem to love being around me as well! It makes me excited to have kids of my own (but that's still awhile away!) Every year, I comment and say "It seems like just yesterday we were driving to Longview to meet her for the first time" and now she's 3! As you can tell, I'm a very proud aunt! I've always been grateful that Michel and I were already dating when she was born, and we were engaged when she was 7 months old, so she's been around him all her life, and we've started referring to him around her as Uncle Michel ever since he and I got engaged, so she's always grown up knowing him, and with him in her life! 

After our family "staycation" to Chuck E. Cheese, my sister decided to do her party there. As soon as she walked in the door, she said "want ride horse" because that was her favorite ride when we were at the one in Rockwall. Luckily, Longview had the same horse for her to ride! 

Her party was from 10:00 a.m. - noonish, so that we would beat the majority of the crowd, and it worked perfectly! When we first got there it was pretty empty. And since there were so many of Karys's family there, the adults got to take turns walking around Chuck E. Cheese with her, and playing games ourselves! 

One of the preferred adult games was Deal or No Deal.

When others began wanting to play it as well, Janette and I got competitive in a game of Guitar Hero! I discovered that I'm not all that great...

I attempted to walk around and take pictures of all the party guests, but apparently I got more interested in playing games than taking pictures because I only got pictures of my immediate family - I didn't even take pictures of Zane! Oh well...hopefully he won't be too scarred by that :)

My mom and sister  - is it just me or do they really look alike in this picture?

Proud aunt and uncle!

Since the beginning of July, Janette has asked Karys what kind of birthday party she wanted. Janette listed all of her favorite shows to help her decide: Elmo, Toy Story, Wonder Pets. But, like a true 3-year-old, Karys chose the show that's not super-popular among other kids, making it hard to find themed party decor: Bubbleguppies. Luckily, Janette found a Bubbleguppies cake-topper, so that she could have a Bubbleguppies party!

Getting ready to blow out her candles!
Happy Birthday sweet girl! Uncle Michel and Aunt Julie love you so much!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy 27th Birthday, Michel!

For Michel's 27th birthday, he chose to go to:

Before we headed out, I took the mandatory picture that I take when we dress up nicer than usual :)

And then one of just the birthday boy....pondering the meaning of life at this new age??

Anyways, back to our dinner. It was SOOO delicious! This is the first time for either of us to go and we will definitely go back (only on special occasions as it is pretty expensive). We both ordered soft drinks, and never again will I do that (this is the only negative thing I have to say about our experience). They came in a 12-ounce bottle and it cost $5.50!! For 12-oz of coke!!! We didn't know the price or the quantity that we would be getting when we ordered. Next time, water will be just fine :) Michel is on their birthday e-mail list so he had a coupon to get his dinner free, so I really shouldn't complain too much! 

Anyways, for anyone who doesn't know, Texas de Brazil is a Brazilian steakhouse. It is one fixed price and you get an all-you-can-eat salad bar, and all you can eat steak of all cuts and varieties. You get a card with a red side and a green side. Red means you don't want any meat and green means that you do. Several waiters walk around the restaurant and they each have different meats that they'll cut you a slice of if you want it. Tonight, I had filet mignon wrapped in bacon, some type of sirloin, sausage, and many other types of meat that were delicious but I have no clue what they were.

We had a wonderful time experiencing the greatness that is Texas de Brazil and celebrating Michel's 27th birthday. I feel so blessed to be his wife :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

German Chocolate Cake Fiasco

Last year for Michel's birthday, he asked me to make him his all-time favorite cake for his birthday, German chocolate cake. For my birthday last year, I asked for a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and he made the entire thing from scratch - and it was DELICIOUS!! So, I decided since he went to all that trouble for me then I would go to the same amount of trouble and make his cake from scratch. I found Trisha Yearwood's recipe. Not only did it sound good, it sounded very doable. So I made it for him last year and he loved it and asked for it again this year! 

The recipe is supposed to be a triple layer chocolate cake and it calls for frozen GRATED coconut. I have never found this either year I've baked it (I've also only looked at Wal-Mart and Kroger), but I use the bagged shredded coconut and only make a two-layer cake. That worked well for me last year. However, THIS year I have no idea what happened! The cake turned out great, but the frosting made me want to throw stuff across the room! It stuck to everything but the cake!! I don't remember that happening last year, and I don't know what I did! 

Poor Michel heard me yelling (yelling at cake frosting...does that make me crazy??) and going a bit crazy on this thing, and assured me that it would still taste delicious, but I swore I was going to make that thing look as good as it was going to taste. 

The end result: 

Most of it turned out looking really good!

And then there were still some stubborn parts that looked not-so-pretty because the frosting refused to adhere to the cake!

Luckily, it did still taste delicious, and I'm not that much of a cake person - especially German chocolate cake, but I think this is delicious! The cake itself is VERY moist!

All that mattered to me was that Michel liked it. He approved of my funny-looking cake :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do I want to....?

For some weird and unknown reason, I have really been in the mood to start running again! I have taken a major break from it since I finished the White Rock half marathon on December 4, 2010.

Michel and I were first-timers in the event and it was really fun getting to do the whole thing with him! Don't get me wrong...we didn't run together because he finished about 35 minutes quicker than I did, but just the fact that we had gone through all the training and everything was a lot of fun, and definitely a motivator! This year, he's not sure he wants to do it, and I'm kind of wanting to again. However, I know myself and I'm not sure if I would stick to the running schedule and training without his encouragement. Do I want to get back to getting up before 5:00 in the morning to go run, OR do my runs after I get home from work? Do I want that horrendously LONG run hanging over my head and occupying my precious Saturday mornings?? I have that mindset right now when I should be thinking more "Don't I want that gratifying feeling of knowing that I accomplished a HALF marathon??" 

Hmmmm....I can't decide what I want to do!! Is anybody else running it this year??

Monday, July 18, 2011

CVS Savings!

I went shopping at CVS today to take advantage of a few deals that I saw. On a side note...CVS seems to be the only place that I really score a lot of great deals. When I go grocery shopping (as in food shopping) I rarely use a coupon. Lately, I've just been shopping at Wal-Mart because Kroger and Target haven't been offering good deals on food, and Wal-Mart's prices are usually the lowest out of the major grocery stores. Does anybody else (who coupons a lot) find this to be true as well - that coupons are used more at drug stores rather than the grocery stores? It really makes me wonder how the Extreme Couponing couponers go to a grocery store and have such huge savings because that's not the case with me! 

Anyways...on to what this post is really about: CVS Shopping/Savings!

I bought: 2 boxes Cheerios (the BIG boxes, 2 boxes Fiber One, 2 bottles Pantene Pro-V, travel size Gillette shave gel, Crest toothpaste, 2 Oral-B Indicator toothbrushes
Everything pictured above should have cost me: $24.44

I only paid: $13.33

That's a savings of 45%!!

OK, now I realize it's not THAT fabulous, but at the last minute I realized that the GM cereal was on sale 2/$5 and added it in without a great plan, but considering the Cheerios are the big family size boxes and they were still included in the sale, I'm pretty happy! I looked at the price of Cheerios at Wal-Mart, and the big box was $4.29! It's almost like I got one box for free! Anyways, here's a break-down of what I did. 

Transaction #1:
Pantene products 2/$6.97 = $2 ECB
- Bought 2 Pantene products
- Used $1.50 ECB I already had
- Used $2/2 Pantene CVS coupon
- Used $1/1 mfr coupon
Paid: $2.67 (not too shabby for shampoo AND conditioner!)
Earned $2 ECB

Transaction #2:
Gillette Shave Gel = $2 ECB
- 1 Gillette shave gel $1.50
- Crest toothpaste - $1.99
- Used $2 ECB from Transaction #1
- Used $0.75/1 Crest coupon
Paid: $0.99
Earned $2 ECB

Transaction #3:
All GM Cereals 2/$5
Oral B Indicator toothbrushes $1.99 =   $1 ECB
- Bought 4 GM Cereals = $10
- Used 2 $0.50/1 Cheerios coupons
Used $1/2 any GM cereal
2 Oral B toothbrushes = $3.98
- Used $1/2 Oral B Indictor coupon
Paid: $9.67
Still have $2 ECB remaining for next time :)


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Staycation Summer 2011

Earlier this year my family had decided that it would be fun to do a very inexpensive vacation all together. My parents vacationed with my sister, brother-in-law, and niece last summer to Myrtle beach last summer while Michel and I went on our Caribbean cruise, and they had so much fun we decided to do it all again. After months of looking into places, talking about what we could do that would also be kid-friendly we were still at a dead end. The turning point was my sister and brother-in-law are saving their money to buy a house, and my parents are trying not to go spend-crazy ever since one of those massive storms that we had in April/May actually turned into a tornado in their area and completely blew down their fence and they've had to pay for the repairs that the insurance didn't cover. Anyways, long story short (or is it too late for that?) we decided that a staycation would be better for us all. My sister and her family were at my parents for an entire week, and I was able to go down the first day that they were here, then I came back for a couple days and stayed from Tuesday - Saturday. Michel came and went as his work schedule allowed him to. We had a blast! 

I'll link up each post that I've written about the different days of our staycation, or you can scroll from bottom to top to read them in order :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Staycation Destination: Chuck E. Cheese

Our last true day of our staycation was our most relaxed day. We all slept in, lounged around in our p.j.'s and ate a leisurely breakfast. When I woke up my parents were awake, and Zane was too. Zane was in one of his usual very happy moods so we took advantage of some awesome photo ops. 

I love this face so much! He's such a sweet boy!

Precious! Love this boy!

Later, when we all woke up and showered and dressed, we headed to Chuck E. Cheese. It was definitely a big hit with Karys. We were there for almost three hours! 
She started out on a little carousel. I think we can tell by the look on her face that she really liked it!

Then she climbed into some tunnels because she wanted to go down the slide. Actually, she couldn't quite get all the way up the steps by herself so I climbed up to help her. 

While climbing around in the tunnels she got lost and couldn't figure out how to get to the slide, nor could she figure out how to get out. She was kind of starting to cry and said "want get out" so I went back up there to help her, and by the time I got up there she just said "Hi, Aunt Julie" and had a big smile and was heading to the slide, so she figured it out on her own :)

She loved seeing Chuck E. Cheese!

Her very favorite ride, though, was this horse that moved up and down to simulate a real horse running and jumping. She was on it for about 20 minutes straight before another kid wanted to ride and she had to get off.

I'm sad to see our family staycation coming to an end. We've had so much fun! I've been so blessed with an awesome family!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Staycation at the Children's Museum

On Wednesday of our staycation we headed to the Children's Museum in Fair Park. This time Michel was finally able to join us! We started out in a farming area. Michel thought I needed to ride the horse. 

The museum was really cool. There was a section for anything you could think of where the kids could explore and play such as a farm, an ocean, a house, a backyard, electricity, tool shed, etc. Zane was old enough to play in some of it, and Karys really loved all of it. 

In the farm there was a little rocking horse that Janette put Zane on. The look on his face says it all!'s tasty!

I had to get pictures of Michel with the fire truck.

Maybe a future fireman??

The backyard area was the definite favorite of both the kids. Zane spent a very long time looking at himself in the mirrors on the ladybug's back.

Eventually Zane was moved to the block area to play with his sister :)

One of the exhibits was all about science/health/your body. There was a giant nose in the middle of the room that Michel couldn't help but pick :)

He's so mature!!
The nose actually sneezed, and it was pretty loud and Karys kept saying "nose scary" when we passed it! 

After so much playing we stopped for lunch before continuing on our day. There was a dinosaur exhibit at the museum that Karys LOVED, and said "Want dinosaur picture" when we passed one of the dinosaurs, so I asked her if she wanted a picture of Karys or Karys and Aunt Julie. This is what she chose: :)

We ended the day taking a picture in a giant hand. At first, we had Karys sitting there by herself, but then we decided that the picture would be better with Zane in it. Fun times :)

It's hard getting two little ones looking in the same direction at the same time  

Staycation to the Zoo

Our first big outing on our staycation was to the Fort Worth zoo. It was kind of an impromptu trip, and we only got to stay for a couple of hours because the zoo closes at 5:00, but we still had a great time! Besides, who wants to stay outside longer than a couple of hours when it's 102 degrees outside??

We saw all kinds of cool animals. Even the gorilla thought it was too hot outside, though!

Zane was having a great time at the zoo!

Karys loved the zoo, too! The highlight of her trip was getting to pet a real chicken!

Magan family photo (minus Daddy who was taking the photo)

We also went to an aquarium inside the zoo. There was a place where we could measure ourselves against different types of penguins. I'm happy to say that I was taller than all the penguins - though just barely! Apparently the emperor penguin (in the picture below) is fairly tall!

Karys was taller than an African penguin.

When we were headed out we stopped in the gift shop, and since I am so mature I had to take this picture:

Then Zane drove us all home :)