• Updates

    Monthly Recap: February 2018

    It’s been a fun and busy year. After our vacation to Hawaii in January, we were ready to do a few things around the house.

    We had already hired someone to install a new front door for us. We had enough space to put a double front door, and we opted for solid wood. It looks great, and we’re happy with the new door.

    New front door | rainerlife.com

    We also did another home improvement project. It wasn’t exactly a planned project. I had wanted to turn the home office into more of a home library, and that’s where it all started. In the end, the room is now painted, has new flooring, and new bookcases. I will do a full blog post about this room when the bookcases are installed. I’m really excited about this room, and envision spending a lot of time enjoying it.

    New floor in home library | rainerlife.com

    For Valentine’s Day, we enjoyed a night out. A local restaurant was offering a Valentine’s dinner, so we all got gussied up and went out. Plus, I got some beautiful roses from Michael.

    Valentine's Day flowers | rainerlife.com

    Gavin dressed for Valentine's Day dinner | rainerlife.com

    Gavin is great at entertaining himself, but he also likes to be near me. While I was cleaning house one day, Gavin was set up with his chalkboard and chalk. He’s been improving his drawing skills, as in he attempts to actually draw something. One day, he drew a picture and told me is was a picture of me. He was so proud. Below is the photo I took of him and his artwork.

    Gavin with his drawing of his mommy | rainerlife.com

    I have wanted to have a separate blog for all my bookish posts, and I have finally finished setting it up. If you are interested in books, then check out my new book blog Nightcap Books. I mainly post book reviews, but I also post my personal reading goals and updates.

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: January 2018

    We started off 2018 with a bang!

    My birthday is in January, and this year was a big one, so I wanted to take a family vacation to celebrate. We traveled to Hawaii and had a fantastic time. I love beach vacations, and Hawaii was beautiful. We stayed on Oahu and Maui. I already posted about our trip, so click Oahu or Maui to read about our trip and see photos.

    Pearl Harbor | rainerlife.com

    Dressed for the Old Lahaina Luau {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Sunrise at Haleakala {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Maui sunset | rainerlife.com

    When we returned from vacation, we were in the mood to get a few home projects done. So, we focused on that for a little while. I’ll do separate posts about what we did when everything is finished.

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: December 2017

    Merry Christmas!

    We had a fun December. Getting ready for Christmas is always fun with Gavin. Hanging out with a three-year-old is a sure fire way to get into the spirit of the season.

    We went to see Santa twice. Once at a Breakfast with Santa and once at the mall. Gavin does great with Santa. All smiles. So, we got two cute pics with Santa this year.

    Gavin and Santa | rainerlife.com

    Gavin and Santa | rainerlife.com

    Now that Gavin is a little older, I wanted to start an Advent tradition with him. Since we read a lot of books, I thought a bookish Advent would be great for us. I wrapped up 24 Christmas and winter themed books, and Gavin opened one each night and we read it. I didn’t have a particular order for the books, so we read which ever one he picked. It was a fun new tradition for us, so I think we will continue to do it in the future.

    Advent book calendar rainerlife.com

    While sitting in the pew, waiting for Mass to begin on Christmas Eve with Gavin, this happened:
    Gavin: Ladies and Gentlemen.
    Gavin: (a little louder) Ladies and Gentlemen.
    Me: Shh.
    Gavin: (holding Hymnal) Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to read you a story.
    Me: (whispering) No talking. Be quiet or we’ll have to step outside.
    Gavin: I’m talking to the Gentlemen.
    Me: (whispering) That’s it. Let’s go.
    Gavin: Sorry, Gentlemen.

    Sometimes it’s hard to keep a straight face. As a side note, we were really early, so it was asking a lot for a three-year-old to sit in silence for that long, and still last through Mass. Also, fortunately the people around us were more amused than irritated by our chatty boy.

    Gavin on Christmas Eve | rainerlife.com

    We had a very Merry Christmas, and enjoyed a relaxing end of 2017.

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: November 2017

    We had a very low-key November. We stuck to our favorite activities: parks, library, and staying in. I didn’t take any photos this month, except for our trip to Hot Springs, AR.

    We went to Hot Springs for Thanksgiving. We enjoyed our time visiting with family, and we went on a few fun outings.

    The Rainers | rainerlife.com

    We did the National Park Duck Tour, which was a first for us. It was neat to ride through town and then out on the lake. It was one of those fun for one time things, so I doubt we will do it again.

    Gavin also got to go on the lake when his Grandpa took him for a ride in a boat.

    Gavin and Grandpa after boat ride | rainerlife.com

    One of our favorite things was Garvan Gardens. They were decorated for Christmas, and it was spectacular. We went on the Friday night after Thanksgiving… we were not the only ones with that plan. We must have waited in the car line for 45 minutes before being able to park, and go wait in line to buy tickets. They were well organized and kept the flow going, but they were very busy. Due to the large crowds, they stayed open later so everyone would have enough time to see the decorated gardens. Michael and I had been to Garvan Gardens once before for the Christmas lights, but it was Gavin’s first time. We walked the entire gardens, and I think Gavin had a lot of fun looking at the lights.

    Garvan Gardens Christmas Lights 2017 | rainerlife.com

    Garvan Gardens Christmas Lights 2017 | rainerlife.com

    Garvan Gardens Christmas Lights 2017 | rainerlife.com

    One of our favorite stops while in Hot Springs is the Superior Bathhouse Brewery. They have a lot of beer on tap, and it’s always fun to try some new ones. The food is good, and we like to sit at the counter seats by the window and people watch while we enjoy our food and drinks.

    Beer Bath - tasters at Superior Bathhouse Brewery {Hot Springs, AR} | rainerlife.com

    We enjoy walking around downtown Hot Springs. The shops are fun to check out, and we like to go in the Arlington Hotel and see the gingerbread house. We always stop at the hot springs and marvel at how hot the water is. A fun town to wander around and enjoy a stroll and some people watching.

    Gingerbread House at the Arlington {Hot Springs, AR} | rainerlife.com

    Fun in Hot Springs | rainerlife.com

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: October 2017

    Happy Halloween!

    Our October was kind of busy. We had fun going to different events and places, plus we started a home remodel project.

    Early in the month, Gavin and I went to the Red River Revel with his Grandma and Grandpa. We had fun looking at the arts and crafts, and eating all the junk food.

    Gavin with his Grandma and Grandpa at the Red River Revel | rainerlife.com

    Also early in the month, we went to Dogtoberfest. The combination of animals, beer, and family fun was irresistible. Lots of places that have animals for adoption were set up, and had animals with them ready to adopt. We’re not looking for any new pets, we already have two crazy dogs, but it’s nice to look at the animals and talk to the different rescue groups. The beer portion of the event was pretty good. They sold tickets for entry and you got 10 beer samples. Most of the breweries represented were from Texas, and lots of good craft beer is available in Texas. We enjoy trying new beers, and like events that offer different things we can’t find in the stores. The family fun portion was great for Gavin. They had a fire truck and firefighters there, and Gavin was able to get in the truck and talk with the fireman. He loved that. They also had face painting, which we tried, but she ended up painting his arm instead of his face because it tickled.

    Gavin on a firetruck | rainerlife.com

    Gavin getting his face painted | rainerlife.com

    Speaking of firefighters, the library had a firetruck and firemen there one day at storytime this month. The kids got to talk to the firefighters, see what they wear, and get on the firetruck. One fireman put on his firefighting gear, which was a great way to introduce kids to a fireman in gear in a safe and friendly environment. A fireman in full gear (boots, pants, coat, gloves, mask, helmet, and tank) could scare young children that don’t know that is what firefighters wear. The firefighters were great about talking with the kids and letting them touch the gear.

    Gavin high-fiving a fireman | rainerlife.com

    Gavin with a fireman | rainerlife.com

    Gavin on a firetruck | rainerlife.com

    Gavin went fishing for the first time. His Honey and Pappaw took him fishing, and I think they all had fun.

    Gavin and his Pappaw going fishing | rainerlife.com

    Gavin fishing with his Honey and Pappaw | rainerlife.com

    The weather was nice in October, so we went to parks a little more than usual.

    Gavin at a playground | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at a playground | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at a playground | rainerlife.com

    One pretty day, Gavin and I went to the zoo. It had been a while since we went, and it was a fun outing. We walked around, looked at the animals, had lunch, shopped the gift shop (Gavin got binoculars), and played in the playground area.

    Lions at the zoo | rainerlife.com

    Giraffes at the zoo | rainerlife.com

    Pink flamingos at the zoo | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at the zoo playground | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at the zoo playground | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at the zoo | rainerlife.com

    Our home remodel project is in our living room. We hired someone to remove the paneling and built-ins, and put up drywall. We did not have new built-ins installed. I’ll post photos of the finished room in a future blog post. For now, here’s what it looked like while under construction.

    Living room remodel | rainerlife.com

    Living room remodel | rainerlife.com

    We celebrated Halloween a few times. Gavin dressed as an astronaut for the library Halloween storytime and we dressed as pirates for a Halloween event at a local brewery. For trick or treating, Gavin dressed as an astronaut and Michael and I were aliens.

    Gavin as an astronaut | rainerlife.com

    Darinda, Gavin, and Michael as pirates | rainerlife.com

    Gavin as an astronaut, Michael and Darinda as aliens | rainerlife.com

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: September 2017

    Happy Fall!

    Our September was really quiet. We stayed in a lot and enjoyed our home. We swam in the pool, played outside, read books, built things with LEGOs, and just had fun. We did get out and go to storytime at the library each week and visited a few parks.

    Gavin front and center at storytime | rainerlife.com

    Gavin on a park slide | rainerlife.com

    The East Texas State Fair was this month, so Gavin and I went to check it out one day. I think his favorite thing was a kiddie pool with magnetic fish to catch with a little rod and magnet. I had a hard time getting him away from that activity, but he had fun with some of the other stuff too… there was a robot that he was really interested in and the petting zoo is always fun.

    Gavin fishing at the Fair | rainerlife.com

    Gavin and the Fair robot | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at the Fair petting zoo | rainerlife.com

    We did have some sad news this month, Michael’s father passed away. There was a nice Celebration of Life visitation. Thank you to our friends and family who were able to make it.

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: August 2017

    Happy Almost Fall!

    Our August was fun and relaxing! Gavin celebrated his birthday in early August, and we took him to Dallas for a couple of days to have some family fun. I wrote about our Dallas trip here. We were home on Gavin’s birthday, so we celebrated the day with lots of pool time and by going out to eat.

    The birthday boy - Gavin turned 3 years old! | rainerlife.com

    For the solar eclipse, we went to the local science place. They were handing out viewing glasses and had a few informative and fun activities. Gavin had fun, but he didn’t really understand the whole solar eclipse thing. We also went to the science place another day when it was less crowded. Gavin loves playing with the different activities they have available for kids to learn new things.

    Gavin at Discovery Science Place | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Discovery Science Place | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Discovery Science Place | rainerlife.com

    A new bookstore opened in town at the end of the month. Of course, we were there on opening day and managed to find a few books to buy. I got a lot of reading done in August, and have started reviewing books.

    Half Price Books | rainerlife.com

    Reading with Rocky | rainerlife.com

    We also spent a lot of time at home this month. We enjoyed the pool on nice days. We played with toys inside when it was too hot or too rainy.

    Gavin playing pirate | rainerlife.com

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: July 2017

    Happy Dog Days of Summer!

    Our July was great! Early in the month, we went to Germany. We stayed in Heidelberg for a week and had so much fun! I already wrote about our trip, so for more about what we did and tons of photos, click here and here.

    View of Heidelberg and Old Bridge from Heidelberg Castle (Heidelberger Schloss) | rainerlife.com

    Love locks at end of Old Bridge {Heidelberg, Germany} | rainerlife.com

    Heidelberg Castle Illumination | rainerlife.com

    Gavin with his first stamp in his passport! | rainerlife.com

    Michael’s birthday was in July. We celebrated by hanging out at home around the pool and going out to eat.

    Michael on his birthday | rainerlife.com

    With our big trip early in the month, we took it easy the rest of the month. We took Gavin to see Despicable Me 3, and Michael and I went to see Wonder Woman. We did a lot of swimming and relaxing around the pool. Gavin and I went to the Center for Earth and Space Science Education to watch a couple of shows in their dome theater – Astronaut and Ocean Wonderland. I worked in the flower beds around the house. I’m working on the area around the pool. That’s about it for our July 2017.

    Gavin playing robot in the pool | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at CESSE | rainerlife.com

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: June 2017

    Happy Summer!

    Our summer has been pretty great so far! We’ve been spending more time outside and in the pool. I love summer time, and it’s so nice to have a pool to relax in during the warm weather. Oh, and we have a lot of pool toys… and we play with all of them. I think the pool will be getting a lot of use this summer!

    Swimming pool | rainerlife.com

    Gavin playing in the swimming pool | rainerlife.com

    Gavin playing in the swimming pool | rainerlife.com

    Gavin playing in the swimming pool | rainerlife.com

    Pool time! | rainerlife.com

    We’ve been staying busy around the house, mainly working on yard projects. I started adding landscaping near the pool. We had the pool installed last summer, but never got around to landscaping around it. Figured the only way I would get any of it done was to work on one small area at a time. To get started, I added a bed of mondo grass between the flagstone decking and the fence. I dug out the area, placed stone edgers in the pattern I wanted, filled the bed with soil, and planted mondo grass. Between the stone edging and pool decking, I put in a drainage pipe and covered it with rocks. The water already drains that way, so, hopefully, that will only improve the drainage and help prevent the flower beds from being washed out in heavy rains. I will install more drainage pipe and rocks to improve the drainage, but it’ll be a slow process… maybe I can finish in July. I also started adding a few plants behind the pool. This will be a pretty large area to plant, and I’m not completely sure what I want to put there, so I only did one small area. Also, it was harder to dig out because of all the rocks buried in the ground from the pool construction. The soil isn’t great, so I’m digging out the grass and weeds and adding better top soil. Our only non-yard project was when our AC went out early in the month… thankfully we have a home warranty and they got the new unit installed. We have two AC units, so it wasn’t too hot in the house, plus it was pretty nice weather the week we were without a working air conditioner.

    Mondo grass bed | rainerlife.com

    On Father’s Day, we go to BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. The food is good, the beer selection is decent, and Michael gets a Father’s Day pint glass. He now has 4 – 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. He got one in 2014 because we went on Father’s Day when I was pregnant with Gavin, and they gave him a glass since he was “almost” a dad. It’s now a family tradition.

    BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse Father's Day Pint Glass | rainerlife.com

    We toured a local brewery early in the month. We’ve been to ETX Brewing several times, but never toured it… we always just get a pint and hang out for a bit. So, we wanted to tour the brewery, hear more about how they got started, and see how they brew their beers. It was fun to see their set up.

    ETX Brewing brewery tour | rainerlife.com

    ETX Brewing beer | rainerlife.com

    For other fun activities, we go to the library, movies, and out to eat. Gavin enjoys storytime at the library, and he LOVES to look at books… he gets that from his mama. Michael, Gavin, and I went to see Cars 3. A fun movie that we all enjoyed. Now that Gavin is a little older, we can add taking him to the movies as a fun outing to do. We try to be home in the afternoon for Gavin to take a nap, which he only does a couple of days a week now. The photo below is after he convinced me to let him sleep in the “big bed” (mama and daddy’s room) and bring all of his stuffed animals to nap with him. He can be very persuasive!

    Gavin at naptime | rainerlife.com

    Gavin | rainerlife.com

  • Updates

    Monthly Recap: May 2017

    Happy Summer!

    Michael, Gavin, and I started the month off with the quick family trip to Houston. You can read about our trip here. We had a great time, and it was nice to get away on a short vacation.

    Gavin at Rocket Park | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at the Houston Zoo | rainerlife.com

    Gavin and I went to a Mother and Son bowling outing with some other mothers and sons from our church. It was Gavin’s first time bowling, and he wasn’t too interested in it. At first, he was excited and wanted to roll the ball. Of course, the ball didn’t go very far, so I had to help him with rolling the ball. It was fun, and it was nice to get out with other moms and kids.

    Gavin picking a bowling ball | rainerlife.com

    Darinda & Gavin at Mother / Son bowling | rainerlife.com

    We celebrated Mother’s Day with a nice lunch out. It was a relaxing day, where we didn’t do much, but spent the day together. Those are great days.

    Darinda & Gavin on Mother's Day | rainerlife.com

    Gavin’s most recent soccer classes ended. He’s pretty good when he’s paying attention… it’s keeping the attention of a two-year-old that’s tricky. It’s been a good way for him to learn teamwork, while having fun with other kids his age. Since he’s not too interested in the classes, we’re taking a break from soccer for a while.

    Gavin at soccer | rainerlife.com

    Gavin with his Certificate of Completion for soccer classes | rainerlife.com

    Gavin and I have continued to work in the flower beds around the house. We’ve made a lot of progress, even though it seems to be a never-ending job. Good thing I enjoy working in the yard!

    Flower bed and pool | rainerlife.com

    Hydrangeas | rainerlife.com

    Daylilies | rainerlife.com

    We had a quiet Memorial Day weekend around the house. We had Gavin’s Honey and Pappaw (my mom and stepdad) over on Monday. Michael grilled burgers and brats, and we all had a nice time visiting and enjoying some food and drinks. It was a cloudy and rainy weekend, but we did manage to get in a little pool time.

    Pool time | rainerlife.com

    Michael and I celebrated our 5th anniversary on May 19th! We went out to eat at a local Italian restaurant to celebrate. It was a pretty low-key anniversary celebration, but it’s been a wonderful 5 years. Below is a photo from our wedding day.

    Our wedding day | rainerlife.com
    Photo by Elizabeth McClung