Wednesday, July 30, 2014

First Visit to Lego Land

We now have two Lego-lovers in our house. It took a while to take hold, but it finally has. And so, I thought I'd take the boys to the Lego Discovery Center in Grapevine.

I didn't take a ton of photos because the lighting was horrible (as you will see) and also because I was trying to enjoy actually being there with the boys. They were smitten from the time the doors opened and they got to help "make" Lego bricks. And they loved all of the rides, all of which we did twice except for the police car one...because Logan was two weeks too young to ride it (you have to be 4). 

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The foam brick pit was definitely a highlight for them. I think they would have stayed in here ALL day if I'd let them. 

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They both built vehicles, which was serious business, apparently. 

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Engineer at work...

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Perfecting his ride...

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Then they raced their creations. Both flew right off that super-steep track and broke into several pieces. They thought that was hilarious. 

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Who knew that the earthquake table would occupy them for so long? This was another place I almost had to tear them away from. Essentially, you build something with the bricks and then turn on the earthquake to see if your structure withstands the shaking. 

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When the boys were finally done with Lego Land, we crossed through Forever 21 and over to the other side of Grapevine Mills Mall to the Rainforest Cafe for a late lunch. We had about a 20 minute wait for a table, so we occupied ourselves in the gift shop area and finally decided to do the photo booth...a first for the boys. I kid of love our photos. 

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Playing in the Summer Rain

Summer rain storms are kind of great. They give us a little break from the heat. The rain is much needed in these parts. And the boys love to get out their umbrellas and play in it.

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For some reason, they love their umbrellas. They relish a chance to play with them. And unlike me, they don't mind getting wet. I took all of these photos from the shelter of the patio. 

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Although I love his smile, this look is also my boy. And it totally reminds me of 2-year-old Ethan. It's the same sweet face...just 4 years older. 

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

St. Thomas 2014: Day 6

Our very last day of vacation came way too quickly. We decided to savor the villa and the art of doing nothing and stayed put all day (except for dinner).

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Aside from swimming and floating in the pool, we lounged around on the porches and did some reading too. It was such a treat for me to read whenever I wanted and for as long as I wanted. I think I finished 3 books during the week and started a fourth on the way home. 

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After an exhausting day of relaxing, only one thing could get us out of our bathing suits and out of the villa...and that would be another dinner at Thirteen. Friends, we had two appetizers that night to start off our meal...because we just could not decide. This first one is a bowl of house made garlic herb knot rolls with smoked sea salt, parmesan, and gorgonzola dip. That dip...oh, my. 

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Then we had these amazing pork tacos. That bread was wonderful and the slaw along with the pork was just perfect. This was the special appetizer that night. 

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Casey and I both decided to try one of their pasta dishes that night. He had the seafood rigatoni and I ordered the pasta special, which had shrimp, mushrooms, pine nuts and a creamy garlic sauce (not pictured). They were both very tasty.

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Because we had already tried the star dessert earlier in the week (the bacon brownie), we decided to try another one that sounded really interesting...the glazed donut bread pudding with jelly sauce and ice cream. I am not normally a bread pudding fan, but this was so, so good. Especially if you love donuts (and I do). 

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That dinner was a lovely end note to our perfect week in St. Thomas. We flew out the next morning. I joke about this, but I'm seriously only half-joking...if we didn't have the kids to go home to, it would have been impossible to leave. This was a great vacation...the perfect blend of activity and relaxation. I can't believe I was able to choose what I wanted to do with my time for an entire week...what a luxury. And in quite an amazing setting. A huge thanks to all four of our parents for making this week possible for us. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

St. Thomas 2014: Day 5

I wanted to go to a couple more beaches before our vacation was done. So in the morning on our 5th day, my parents went with me on a photo-safari of sorts. Our first stop was Sapphire Beach. Aptly named, I'd say...

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It's definitely smaller and more rocky than Magen's, which was unique for photographs. 

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I thought it was kind of funny that this is essentially a path to nowhere. It ends at some rocks and then the ocean below. And it was SO windy out there that day. 

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Our next stop was at the Ritz Carlton, which is very near where my parents former villa is located. The hotel itself is beautiful, as you would expect. 

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And the beach isn't bad, either. And they have hammocks...

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Before we left the Ritz, we made a pit stop at the beach bar/restaurant for a drink. 

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The rest of that day was spent lounging, reading, and swimming at the house. Then, we got dressed for a dinner at The Old Stone Farmhouse. This is a place that we had eaten at more than 10 years ago. It was okay back then, but we didn't think it warranted a visit this time around. Except I got to reading about it on my phone and saw that they had a new chef and menu. It sounded pretty good, so we decided to give it a try. That turned out to be a really good decision. 

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The restaurant itself has great atmosphere. It really is an old stone farmhouse and has lots of character and charm. We were seated  next to this arched opening. When it got dark, we could see the stars and moon right from our table. 

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The printed menu looked amazing, but the really unique thing about The Old Stone Farmhouse was that you could essentially create your own entree. The waiter explained how it worked and then led us downstairs into the kitchen (where the lighting was not great) to let the sous chef show us the actual protein choices for that night. There was lobster, prawns, beef fillets, scallops, and one exotic choice...camel, I think. 

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Clearly I chose the South African prawn and some scallops. Also, those might have been the best carrots I've ever had. And I'm pretty sure that was a potato puree, and I remember loving it. Casey got the prawns and one of the beef filet choices. It was all excellent. We were really glad we had not skipped over this place. 

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This chocolate torte was a fantastic way to end the meal, in my opinion. My only regret is that there was not more of it...I shared it with Casey. 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

St. Thomas 2014: Day 4

The next day we went out about mid-morning to Mountain Top on the other side of Magen's Bay. It's way up high and offers a great view of the bay and island.

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There's also tons of shopping in their building up there. 

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For lunch we went over to one of our St. Thomas staples...Molly Malone's. We have been going here for years. 

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Some of the unforgettable things about Molly Malone's are the iguanas. They wander in and around the tables. You have to be careful...they like food and are pretty bold. This one was just stubborn...I wanted it to move completely out of the bright light for my photo, but it wasn't cooperative at all. 

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Molly Malone's is an Irish Pub...so naturally I ordered the fish and chips. It was really, really good...fresh Caribbean fish, of course. And some vinegar on top. 

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Right around the corner from Molly Malone's is the Fish Spa. My mom talked me into doing it for 15 minutes. She and Jill had done it a few days before when Casey and I were on our way to St. Thomas. I'm glad I tried it. It was such a weird feeling...all those tiny fish eating your dead skin. Sounds gross, but all it felt like was a little tickly and like something was mildly vibrating my feet. And afterwards, my feet were so soft!

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When we got back to the house that afternoon, I'm pretty sure we swam and hung out some more, although I don't have the photographic evidence of that. Toward evening time, the sky and islands starting looking like this... (which is facing east). 

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I started to get a feeling that all those fluffy clouds might make for a pretty cool sunset so I had my camera ready. 

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We were not disappointed. Here it is as it was setting but still just above the horizon. 

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My dad looks like he's either standing on air or in the pool...neither of which is true. He's in the trough that catches the infinity edge's overflow. 

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That night may have been one of my favorite simple meals we had, although I liked everything we made/ate. We just had fruit, crackers, summer sausages, cheese, nuts, and a really, really good wine. Perfect after having a heavy lunch at Molly Malone's. And perfect for eating al fresco on the front porch as we waited for the full sunset. 

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The front of the house faces east, so when we started seeing these clouds and colors around the side of the house, we knew the real show was about to start. 

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And sure enough, around the back of the house (facing west), this was happening...

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It was so much more spectacular than it looks here. It was by far the most beautiful of all the sunsets we watched that week. We all stood around the pool area until well after it was dark because the colors just kept going. 

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