• 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.

  • US Travel

    Maui Vacation

    Kamaole Beach Park III {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Aloha!

    We spent most of our Hawaiian vacation in Maui. We mainly wanted to relax and do fun family related activities, and Maui is great for that.

    In Maui, we rented a two-bedroom condo located in Kihei. We had a great location, right across the street from the beach. The condo worked well for us because both bedrooms had king beds. Most condos I looked at had a king in one bedroom and two twins in the second bedroom. This one had a bedroom upstairs in a loft area, with a king bed and a private bathroom. The other bedroom was downstairs, as was the kitchen and living room area. Another perk was the lanai. Technically, both bedrooms had private lanais, but they looked back toward the condo complex, whereas the lanai off the living room was large and looked out toward the ocean.

    Sunset from our lanai {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    We arrived in Maui on a Wednesday afternoon, and didn’t do much that day. We found the condo, unpacked, went out to eat dinner, and enjoyed a relaxing evening. In Maui, a rental car is necessary, so we booked a car for the week so could explore the island.

    On our second day we picked my mother and stepfather up from the airport, they stayed an extra night in Oahu. After getting everyone settled in the condo, we decided to go shopping. Well, my mother, Gavin, and I went to a quilt shop for her to shop fabrics, and the guys (Michael and my stepfather) went to a brewery. After that, we stopped at the Kihei Kalama Village for shopping and dinner.

    Friday was spent at the beach and ended with a luau. We walked across the street from the condo to go to the Kamaole Beach III and spent the day there. Friday night we went to the Old Lahiana Luau. It was a fun experience, and something we all enjoyed.

    Old Lahaina Luau {Maui} | rainerlife.com

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

    Roast pig at Old Lahaina Luau {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Old Lahaina Luau {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Old Lahaina Luau {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Saturday got off to a rocky start. That was the morning the missile alert message was sent out. So, we saw that on our phones, and tried to verify if it was real or not. We never panicked or anything. I did try calling a couple of police stations, but never got through – guess we weren’t the only ones calling. We turned on the local news because the national news wasn’t reporting anything, and the local news announced it was a false alert, so we went back to drinking our morning coffee and enjoying the view. It was still a little while before we got phone alerts that the first message was an error. Anyway, we never really did anything that day. I went for a long walk by myself down the beach. I walked along Keawakapu Beach, Mokapu Beach, and Ulua Beach. It was beautiful, and I enjoyed a nice, long walk along the beach.

    Gavin at sunset {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    On Sunday, Michael, Gavin, and I went to Lahaina. We did a whale watching boat trip, walked around town, and had lunch. It’s a great town to walk, and had plenty of restaurants and shops. Also, there was a big harbor there, and a lot of the boat tours left from that harbor.

    Gavin whale watching {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Whale watching {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Whale watching {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Monday morning was a very early start. We got up really early to drive up to Haleakala National Park to watch the sunrise. It was a beautiful sunrise, but Gavin did not like it. He was sleepy, and it’s really cold, so he wasn’t having it.

    Sunrise at Haleakala {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    That afternoon we drove over to Big Beach, also known as Makena Beach and Oneloa Beach. It’s the widest beach we went to. There was a serious shore break, so swimming was a little more dangerous on this beach than some of the others we visited.

    Big Beach {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Michael and Gavin at Big Beach {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Tuesday was our last full day in Maui, and we drove over to Paia. We wanted to visit somewhere on the north side of the island, and this town seemed like a good choice. We walked around town, visited some shops, and ate lunch. On the way out of town, we stopped at Hookipa Beach. We parked the car, and Michael and I walked a little on the beach while Gavin waited in the car with his Honey and Pappaw. This is definitely not a swimming beach, but there were some kiteboarders out. This is also the only place we saw sea turtles.

    Hookipa Beach {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Hookipa Beach {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Wednesday was our last day in Hawaii. We flew from Maui back to Dallas. Another long travel day. We were all exhausted when we got home, but had a great time in Hawaii.

    Gavin playing at beach {Maui} | rainerlife.com

    Maui sunset | rainerlife.com

  • US Travel

    Honolulu, Oahu

    Aloha!

    We went to Hawaii to celebrate my birthday. I turned the big 4-0, and wanted to take a trip to celebrate. Since I had never been to Hawaii, and beach vacations are always relaxing, a Hawaiian vacation sounded perfect. We stayed on two islands, Oahu and Maui. This post is about Oahu, and a second post will be about our time in Maui.

    Waikiki Beach | rainerlife.com

    We traveled from Dallas to Honolulu, Oahu, and stayed in Honolulu for three nights. We arrived on a Sunday evening, so that day was a long travel day. My mother and stepfather traveled with us, so them and us (Michael, Gavin, and me), were all exhausted.

    We didn’t have anything scheduled for our first day in Oahu. I figured we would be tired from the long day before, and not up for too much activity. So, we walked over to Waikiki Beach and checked out the beach, had a leisurely lunch, and did a little shopping.

    Waikiki Beach | rainerlife.com

    On our second day, we went to Pearl Harbor. We went in the afternoon, and had plenty of time to see the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Bowfin submarine and museum. We didn’t go to the USS Missouri or the Pacific Aviation Museum. We didn’t want to schedule too much, since we were traveling with a three-year-old.

    Pearl Harbor | rainerlife.com

    USS Bowfin submarine at Pearl Harbor | rainerlife.com

    USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor | rainerlife.com

    We had fun sightseeing in Waikiki, but only spent a couple of days there. I’m glad we spent some time in Honolulu because Pearl Harbor was special to see. Most of our trip was spent in Maui, where we spent a week.

  • 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

  • Holidays

    Halloween 2017

    Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. It’s fun to dress in costumes and go out to celebrate, and it’s even more fun with a little kid. Gavin loved Halloween this year. He was really into all the spooky decorations. It seemed all the stores we shopped had ghosts and monsters on display, which Gavin thought was fun and it was all he wanted to talk about while we shopped.

    We celebrated a few different Halloween events this year. First up was the library storytime. The kids could dress up and they received a free book. A fun event, and all the kids dressed up were really cute. Gavin dressed as an astronaut. He loves space stuff and we had bought the astronaut suit earlier in the year when we went to NASA.

    Gavin as an astronaut | rainerlife.com

    Next was a Halloween event at a local brewery. We dressed as pirates, another of Gavin’s favorite pretend play characters. The event was fun, they were selling food and had live music.

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

    Gavin as a pirate | rainerlife.com

    Darinda and Gavin as pirates | rainerlife.com

    The last Halloween event was trick or treating. We had planned to go as pirates, but the weather turned cold and rainy. Since Gavin’s astronaut costume was warmer than his pirate costume, he went as an astronaut. Michael and I usually wear something to coordinate with Gavin’s costume, so since he changed costumes, we did too. The family costume was an astronaut and two aliens. Gavin had a blast trick or treating, and he keeps talking about it.

    Gavin as an astronaut, Michael and Darinda as aliens | 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

  • East Texas Experiences

    Family Fun in Dallas

    Gavin turned three years old earlier this month! To celebrate, we took a short trip to Dallas to do some fun stuff. We spent two days (one night) doing fun-filled activities with Gavin. We went to the Legoland Discovery Center in Grapevine and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in downtown Dallas.

    We drove over on a Wednesday morning and did Legoland Discovery Center, which is in the Grapevine Mills mall. That took a few hours for us to do everything and give Gavin plenty of time to play. He was too young for a couple of the activities, but he did play in the Duplo Village and with the earthquake tables, walked around the Miniland, rode two rides (Merlin’s Apprentice and Kingdom Quest), and saw the 4D movie. They have a coffee shop inside, so we had a snack break while we were there. Of course, Gavin got a couple of new Duplo sets on the way out. Lego Duplos are his favorite toy, so we knew he would have tons of fun with all the Lego stuff.

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Legoland Discovery Center | rainerlife.com

    When we left the Legoland Discovery Center, we walked through the mall to the Rainforest Cafe for a late lunch (okay food and service). It’s a fun restaurant to eat in, and we all enjoyed looking at the animals. We didn’t shop the mall, but it was busy and seemed to have a lots of good shopping options. Okay, I may have dragged Michael and Gavin in the Books-a-Million, but that was the only store we shopped. After the mall, we went to check into our hotel and rest a bit. After getting our second wind, we headed out for dinner – we ate at the Uncle Buck’s Brewery & Steakhouse (okay food, great service) that is part of the nearby Bass Pro Shops. We spent the night in Grapevine, and stayed at the Hyatt Place near the mall. We were exhausted after a very full day of activities!

    Gavin having fun at Rainforest Cafe | rainerlife.com

    We headed to the museum on Thursday morning. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science was very nice! Gavin had fallen asleep on the drive to downtown, so we put him in his stroller (he’s really too big for it, but we’re still making it work) and Michael and I enjoyed looking at some of the exhibits that wouldn’t have been much interest to Gavin. Those were the exhibits on the second and third floors that were about discovering life, being human, engineering, energy, and minerals. We woke him up to go to the fourth floor, which were the exhibits on space and dinosaurs. After seeing the fourth floor exhibits we went to the children’s museum on the lower level. We spent a lot of time in the children’s museum while Gavin played and explored. This area of the museum was designed for kids under the age of five, and has a wonderful selection of activities for the little ones to learn and play.

    Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    Gavin at Perot Museum of Nature & Science | rainerlife.com

    After we left the museum, we drove over to the Spaghetti Warehouse (good food, great service) and had lunch. It was a good restaurant choice for us because Gavin loves pizza and pasta.

    It was a busy two days, but lots of fun. Gavin really enjoyed the Legoland Discovery Center, and I think it’s somewhere we will take him again. The same is true for the museum. We’ll definitely be going back. They had an amazing selection of hands-on activities for older kids, so I think Gavin would really love it in a few years.