5 of Our Favorite Bedtime Books

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Every night at bedtime, Gavin picks a book (or three) and settles in my lap while we read books together. We’ve read a lot of books, but we do have a few favorites that we read over and over… and over! Gavin has a nice collection of books to choose from, and we’re always adding more books. The books listed below are ones we own and have read numerous times. We do check books out at the library a lot, and we usually read those at night too. I’m not including any of those on this list, but I definitely recommend using your local library to find new books to read together.

5 of Our Favorite Bedtime Books:

1. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

2. The Goodnight Train

3. Steam Train, Dream Train

4. The Going-To-Bed Book

5. Goodnight Moon

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

10 of Our Favorite Board Books

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase. For more information, click here.

Gavin reading his books | rainerlife.com

Books! Gavin and I love looking at books! During the day, sometimes we look at books together and sometimes he likes to look at books by himself. In his room, he has a shelf of board books, plus a few of his favorite paperback books. I keep all the other children’s books in the living room and office/play room. We usually read one or two books together during the day, and another one or two books in the evening. He has been known to pull all the books off a shelf and sit and look at book after book. It’s so fun to watch him! He’ll even grab one of his favorite paperbacks and take it to “read” on the sofa… he definitely takes after his mama. We have several favorites, and below are ten board books that we’ve read many times. We are starting to read more paperbacks than board books, but we still have our favorite board books that we go back to again and again. I usually let Gavin pick out which books to read, so the ones listed below are the board books he most often chooses to read together.


1. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle – We also have Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. Gavin picks them to read about the same amount of time. There are others also, but we only own two Little Blue Truck books. Definitely favorites for my little boy.

2. From Head to Toe by Eric Carle – We love Eric Carle books! This one is a favorite because we do all the motions together, and Gavin thinks it’s hilarious!

3. Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw – There are other “Sheep” books, but this is the only one we own. Can’t speak for the other books, but this one is fun to read.

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – There’s a reason this book has been so popular for over 45 years! It’s a classic, and a good one for your child’s library.

5. Robots, Robots Everywhere by Sue Fliess – Gavin loves robots, so this is a favorite because he likes to talk about all the different robots.

6. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen – Another classic I recommend for a child’s library. Gavin was on a kick a while back where he picked this book out every time I asked him what he wanted to read.

7. Inside, Outside, Upside Down by Stan Berenstain – We got this one for free at a library event, and Gavin loves it! This is our only Berenstain Bears books, and it’s a short fun read.

8. Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi – This is part of a series on behavior – other books include biting, kicking, and yelling. I got this book when Gavin was starting to hit us or others when he was playing, and I didn’t want him to think it was okay to keep hitting. It’s a great book, and one he ends up picking to read a lot. Which surprised me, but I guess that means it works.

9. Happy Hippo, Angry Duck by Sandra Boynton – We have this one, plus six other Sandra Boynton books. Gavin goes through phases where different ones are favorite, but lately he’s been picking this one. Two others that he reads a lot are Moo Baa La La La and Blue Hat, Green Hat.

10. Ten Tiny Toes by Caroline Jayne Church – This is another interactive book, and it’s so fun to read together!

Quick Trip to Houston

Early in May, we took a quick trip down to Houston. Our main reason for going was to take Gavin to visit NASA. He is really into space stuff right now, and we thought he would enjoy seeing the Houston Space Center.

We spent three nights, and did a different family activity each day. The first day, we arrived in late afternoon. After checking into the hotel, we drove over to the Kemah Boardwalk. The second day we spent at the Houston Space Center. On the third day, we visited the Houston Zoo. We drove back home on the fourth day.

Kemah Boardwalk
It’s been years since I visited the Kemah Boardwalk. It’s still a fun place! We walked around the boardwalk and had dinner while watching the boat traffic. Gavin’s too young for the rides, and we’re not big shoppers, so we’re happy walking around, people watching, and grabbing a bite to eat. We ate at The Flying Dutchman. We were able to get a table outside, so we had a good view to watch the boat traffic. It was a Sunday, and there was a lot of boats coming and going.

Gavin & Darinda at Kemah Boardwalk | rainerlife.com

Space Center Houston
Our main reason for going to Houston was the Space Center. It was great! Gavin had so much fun! The Space Center had lots of interesting and informative exhibits. We arrived early – just before they opened. The Space Center opened at 9:00 and we wanted to have plenty of time to see everything.

NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Tram Tour – Astronaut Training Facility
We started the day with the a tram ride around the NASA Johnson Space Center. The Space Center offered two tram rides, red and blue. We opted to start with the blue tram first. That tram tour visited the Astronaut Training Facility and Rocket Park. Since it was early, and not their peak time of year, there were only four of us on the tour… and our little family were three of the four! The tour guides seemed to like the small group and visited a little longer, giving us more information than they probably normally have time for in a packed tour. The tour goes to Building 9, a huge warehouse that houses all sorts of equipment the astronauts use to train before going to space. Plus, it’s where a lot of new tech is being developed. It was really interesting to see! The tram tour then went to Rocket Park, where a Saturn V rocket is on display. It was amazing to see a rocket up close like that, and Gavin thought it was fun to see.

Building 9 at NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Building 9 at NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Building 9 at NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Building 9 at NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Building 9 at NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Gavin at Building 9 at NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Building 9 at NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Warehouse for the Saturn V at the NASA Johnson Space Center | rainerlife.com

Gavin & Michael at Rocket Park | rainerlife.com

Gavin at Rocket Park | rainerlife.com

Gavin & Michael at Rocket Park | rainerlife.com

Gavin & Michael at Rocket Park | rainerlife.com

Gavin & Michael at Rocket Park | rainerlife.com

Gavin at Rocket Park | rainerlife.com

After the tram tour, we walked around the Space Center. There are a lot of exhibits to see! The exhibits we saw were Space Center Plaza, Mission Mars, Starship Gallery, Independence Plaza, International Space Station Gallery, and Astronaut Gallery.

Space Center Plaza
This the the main area we first walked through once we arrived at the Space Center. On our visit, this area was set up with a lot of hands on activities geared toward children. Gavin was too young for it, but Michael and I walked around with him and showed him what some of the activities were and how they worked.

Mission Mars
This is a newer exhibit for the Space Center, and contains a simulated Orion capsule and a Mars rock you can touch. There was a lot of information in this area, and unlike the other areas, it has more on new tech and NASA’s journey to Mars. This was one of Gavin’s favorite areas.

Starship Gallery
This area of the Space Center is like a museum and contains some cool artifacts, such as a Gemini V, Lunar Roving Vehicle Trainer, the Apollo 17 Command Module, the Skylab 1-G Trainer, Mercury 9 “Faith 7”, and the Lunar Samples Vault, which includes a moon rock you can touch. I enjoyed this area, but it seemed to be too much for Gavin. He was looking every which way and kept running from one thing to the next.

Independence Plaza
This exhibit was very cool! This is a replica of the shuttle Independence, mounted on top of the original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft. You can board both the shuttle and airplane. I think Gavin would have enjoyed this more if he was a little older. He didn’t seem to connect that he was walking around on the shuttle and airplane. We took the elevator up to the shuttle instead of the stairs, so when we got off the elevator, he was suddenly in the shuttle. I don’t think he really made the connection that it was the shuttle we had been walking under.

International Space Station Gallery
This area is also kind of more like a museum, and contains artifacts from the space station and interactive displays. There were some interesting things in this area, but we walked through a lot without doing much since it was geared toward older kids and adults.

Astronaut Gallery
The points of interest here were the Gallery Wall (photos of every US astronaut who has flown to space) and various space suits. Some of the space suits were Pete Conrad’s Apollo 12 suit, John Young’s escape suit, a shuttle launch entry suit, and the Orlan suit. This was a big open area and didn’t take too long too walk around. Actually, I walked around here while Michael and Gavin went back to the Mission Mars exhibit since Gavin was wanting to see that again.

Tram Tour – Mission Control
Later in the day, we went on the red tram tour. Actually, it was the last tour of the day, so we were on the first and last tram tours. Anyway, the red tram tour visited Mission Control and Rocket Park. I was the one that really wanted to go on this tour. Gavin wasn’t all that interested in it. The tour goes to the viewing room of Historic Mission Control. Everything is straight out of the sixties… because it hasn’t been updated, since it’s a historical site. It was cool to see Mission Control where so many important NASA missions were monitored, including nine Gemini and all Apollo lunar missions. After visiting Historic Mission Control, the tour went to Rocket Park. Since we had seen Rocket Park earlier in the day, we stayed on the tram to head back to the Space Center. Multiple tram tours were running at the same time, so trams rotated through Rocket Park to pick up visitors and take them back to the Space Center. That’s a great feature, since we were able to spend as much time as we wanted at Rocket Park in the early part of the day, and skip it later in the day.

We spent a full day seeing the Space Center, and we didn’t do everything they offered. We had a toddler with us, so we took our time, skipped a couple of things, went faster through some exhibits, and slower through others. Plus, we must have gone through the Mission Mars exhibit at least three times. The must-see things were the tram tours and the Independence Plaza.

The Space Center does have a dining area that sold different foods, like pizza, burgers, salads, and sandwiches. We ate a leisurely lunch of pizza, which tasted okay and was overpriced. Typical for this type of place.

The Space Center had two gift shops, one large and one small. Of course, we bought a few things for our space loving little boy. His biggest delight was a space suit and a helmet. We bought them after lunch, so he wore them the rest of the day. He looked adorable all decked out in his space suit, plus he had so much fun wearing it and running around looking at the exhibits.

Houston Zoo
We went to the zoo on a Tuesday afternoon, which it turns out is a free time to visit the zoo. That means it was crazy busy! Parking was the worst part, but once we found a spot it wasn’t too bad. The zoo was crowded, but we still saw everything we were interested in seeing. The zoo is large, with lots of great exhibits, so we spent a few hours walking around. The Children’s Area was great, and Gavin had a lot of fun in that part of the zoo.

Gavin at the Houston Zoo | rainerlife.com

Staybridge Suites
We stayed at the Staybridge Suites near NASA. It was a convenient location for NASA, and Kemah wasn’t a far drive. It took a long time to drive to the zoo, but Houston traffic is terrible, so it takes a while to get anywhere. The hotel staff was very friendly, and the hotel was clean. They were doing construction, but we knew that ahead of time and it wasn’t a problem for us. The construction did close off some of their parking, and twice we grabbed the last spot in the lot… and one of those times was only because a car left, freeing up a spot. We booked a one bedroom suite with a king bed. I wanted a suite so we could close the door if someone, like Gavin, wanted to sleep, but Michael and/or I wanted to stay up. For this trip, it worked out well for us. We didn’t do much outside of the room, but we did enjoy the breakfast each morning.

We ate breakfast at the hotel and grabbed lunch at wherever we were visiting (Space Center and Zoo), but we did go out to eat in the evenings.

The Flying Dutchman
Seafood resturant located at the Kemah Boardwalk. The food was good, the service was great. I had the shrimp & crab cobb salad, which was huge and no way could I eat the whole thing, but it tasted good. Michael had a steak. It’s always a risk to order a steak at a seafood restaurant, but he figured he’s in Texas, so maybe it would be okay. He said it was good, so I guess he was right. For Gavin, we ordered grilled shrimp. We had them hold the seasoning on his shrimp so they wouldn’t be too spicy, and he seemed to like them. We sat outside near the water and watched the boats while we ate, which was fun for all of us. A good dining choice while visiting the Kemah Boardwalk.

Bone Daddy’s
A BBQ joint in Webster. The food and service were good. I had the burnt ends with skillet beans and potato salad. Michael had hot link sausage and brown sugar ham with potato salad and mac and cheese. We both shared food with Gavin, so he had some of everything, except the hot link sausage because it was really spicy. We enjoyed the food and casual atmosphere.

J Henry’s Draughthouse
A family-friendly pub-like restaurant in Clear Lake. We wanted to try a place with a good beer selection, and Michael found this one listed online. We started with the soft pretzel appetizer, which is always a good choice with beer. For dinner, I had the beer glazed fish tacos, Michael had the chicken & sausage spaghetti, and Gavin had a cheeseburger. The food was good and the beer selection was great. Most of the beers were from Texas, and they had several beers we hadn’t tried. It was a good place to go for finding new beers to try.

We had a fun, short family trip! I think Gavin had fun at the Space Center, which was the main part of the trip. So glad we were able to take a few days to get a short vacation in this Spring.

April 2017

Happy Spring!

Michael, Gavin, and I started the month off with the Spirits of Oakwood tour. It’s a fun and informative tour that is held each year in conjunction with the Azalea Trails. Volunteers dress in period clothing portray local citizens that were buried in the cemetery. Sometimes the volunteer is a descendant of the person they are portraying, and they can give more information on the individual than you could find elsewhere. They change it up each year, so different locals are represented in the tour.

Gavin had his first haircut this month. He’s 2 1/2, so he went a long time before needing it cut. Michael cut Gavin’s hair, and did a great job!

Gavin's First Haircut | rainerlife.com

Gavin's First Haircut | rainerlife.com

One Saturday, we drove to Dallas to go to the vinyl record show. The show was located in the Richardson Civic Center, which is next to the library, so Michael and Gavin were able to go the children’s area of the library and play while I shopped. I found a lot of records to buy, so my little vinyl collection is starting to slowly grow. After shopping records, we went to The Flying Saucer restaurant to eat, and Michael and I were able to try some new beers.

Gavin at the Library | rainerlife.com

Beer Tasting | rainerlife.com

We had a happy Easter! It was a great day – Mass in the morning, lunch with family, and fun watching Gavin hunt for eggs and play with his Easter gifts. On Good Friday, Gavin and I dyed Easter eggs with his Honey. It was his first time to dye eggs, and I think he had fun. I figured he would lose interest, but he helped with all the eggs. On Easter Sunday, Gavin’s Honey and Pappaw hid the dyed eggs around their house for him to find that afternoon. Easter Sunday evening, I hid some plastic eggs around the yard for him to find. So, he had lots of eggs to hunt for, but I think he had fun doing it.

Dyeing Easter Eggs | rainerlife.com

Dyeing Easter Eggs | rainerlife.com

Dyeing Easter Eggs | rainerlife.com

Gavin at Easter | rainerlife.com

Hunting Easter Eggs | rainerlife.com

Hunting Easter Eggs | rainerlife.com

Hunting Easter Eggs | rainerlife.com

Hunting Easter Eggs | rainerlife.com

It’s crawfish season! We went to a crawfish boil at a local brewery, and enjoyed a couple of pints while there. Gavin and I love to eat crawfish! He ate more crawfish than I did, which is saying something, because I love boiled crawfish.

Boiled Crawfish | rainerlife.com

With this beautiful Spring weather, we’ve been spending more time outside. We’ve been playing outside and swimming in the pool. Also, I’ve been working in the flower beds around the house… weeding and spreading mulch. It’s always nice to get outside more, and now that Gavin is older, he can help me with some of the yard work.

Flower Beds | rainerlife.com

Flower Beds | rainerlife.com