Hello!

Welcome to our blog! We share our own personal experiences about the challenges and joys of traveling with a toddler and a dog, how we plan for our vacations, and give you travel tips from our personal experiences. I also enjoy cooking and crafting, so there will be a few posts about those topics as well.

Thanks for visiting!


Click to read about our Caribbean cruise for four!

Read about our road trip across all 50 states!


There’s a faint line
between
being an influencer and
being influenced by others,
and for most of us
it’s the latter
-Christina Ho Falcon

Toddler Lesson: Apples

 

[pdf-embedder url=”https://plantravelinspire.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/A-is-for-Apple.pdf” title=”A is for Apple”]

Fall is just around the corner.  You know what that means? Apples, apples, and more apples! Can’t believe it’s already that time of year. 

Last fall, I was very much into the homeschooling “thing”. This year, my now 3-year old will be attending preschool four days a week for 2 1/2 hours a day! Wow, that a difference, huh? I went from planning lessons and organizing playgroups to having time to myself. Praying for a cleaner and more organized house this year 😉

Here’s some of the highlights from our apple-themed lesson plan.

Apple-themed toddler lesson plan

It was an apple-packed lesson plan! We sorted apples and made apple VOLCANOS too:)  We used this Apple Felt activity my son and I created.

ten red apples felt board activity making

It ended with all the kids snacking on some apple sauce, freeze-dried apples, and sipping on some apple cider. 

if we only had apple cider donuts to add to the mix…

Wicked Tulips in Rhode Island

white pink and purple tulips in show garden at wicked tulips in johnston, ri. photo taken by christina ho falcon

HAPPY SPRING!

There are so many wonderful places to discover and experience locally. Last year, I heard about this tulip flower farm in Johnston, RI. I was so excited to check it out. Tickets are sold online only. We were lucky to get one day in last year to visit with my husband and then-two year old.

This year, it was just my son and me. He had his 3-year old well-visit at his pediatrician’s office, which is located in Johnston, RI.

So, we decided to pack a lunch and have a picnic after his doctor’s appointment. Then pick flowers, take pictures, and have some fun in the sun.

Tickets

My son just turned three at the end of April, so his ticket was free. I just had to pay for my adult ticket, which came to $17.28. This ticket includes 10 U-Pick tulips.

When you enter, you check in with the people under the white tent and they give you a token for the 10 tulips. You also have the option to purchase more tulips if you decide to pick more than 10.

Picking the Tulips and Picnicking

Upon entering, there were people under the large umbrella to ask any specific questions. There were baskets and large red buckets for patrons to carry their tulips in. The ground is bumpy and a bit rocky, so it’ll be tough to roll a stroller. But, it might be helpful to have one if your kids get tired.

Off to the side, there are picnic tables set up (some under a shaded pavilion) along with trash cans and porto potties.

We brought along a blanket, which we laid down to have more room. I also left my lunch bag on top of the blanket after lunch so I didn’t need to carry it while we picked tulips.

toddler carrying basket at u-pick tulip farm at wicked tulips in johnston, ri. photo taken by christina ho falcon

My three year old son enjoyed running up and down the rows of flowers. And, I had a wonderful time snapping pictures of him.

toddler boy model pose at wicked tulips in johnston, ri. photo taken by christina ho falcon

Show Area

In addition to the U-Pick tulips, the flower farm has a show are that is limited to viewing and taking pictures. There is no picking allowed in this show area. On display is a lovely assortment of flowers.

This is a popular area for those selfies and “glamour” shots:)

Visit

It was such a beautiful Thursday afternoon when we visited! If you’re ever in the RI area during the spring, usually anytime between the middle to end of April until about the middle to end of May, you should check out Wicked Tulips! They have their “Bloom Report” available online so you are able to check when U-Pick time is!

Thanks for reading about our mini excursion:) Happy spring, everyone!

Xi’an in December

Xi'an in December 2014

Our Honeymoon Part I
Country: China
City: Xi’an

Back in December 2014, we went on our honeymoon. It was my husband’s first trip China! Our first stop was Beijing, which you can read about here.

Our second stop along our journey as newlyweds brought us to the bustling city of Xi’an. The weather was cold, but not as cold as it was Beijing. 

Our itinerary prior to visiting:

Screenshot of Xian Itinerary

Prior to this trip, I had never been there before. So, I did not know what to expect. We ended up staying at the Hilton Xian, which came with a breakfast buffet. Overall, it was a nice stay. 

Cost for one night: $148.70.

Terracotta Warriors

The main reason I had wanted to visit Xi’an was to see the Terracotta Warriors, which was outside of the main city. We ended up finding a shuttle to see the attraction. Here are some of the things we saw along the way.

After purchasing our tickets from the office, we soon realized we would be seeing a lot of statues that afternoon. Indeed we did. It was as if we were seeing warriors and horses over and over again. Although it was interesting to see the different exhibits, we couldn’t help but ponder if this type of visit was our cup of tea.  We’re not huge history buffs or anything. And just seeing a few made me realize that it was more than enough.

The Journey Back

We had to find a way back to the hotel that evening, so we just listened to the ladies calling us back to the city. We took a shuttle and ended up staying in that evening because we were too tired to explore. Our hotel overlooked the city wall, so we felt as though we didn’t need to actually visit it.

Could not think of a more wonderful way to relax than to soak in the hotel’s wonderful tub! 

More to come on our honeymoon in China! Next stop: Luoyang.

Beijing in December

Our Honeymoon Part I

Country: China
City: Beijing

Back in December 2014, we took our honeymoon. It was my husband’s first trip China! Our itinerary:

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 11.48.57 AM

This was our view from our room at the Hilton Beijing Wangfujing.

It was definitely a nice contrast between where we stayed and the hustle and bustle of the city. Beijing is one of those cities which is so rich in its history and culture. It’s absolutely beautiful during the winter season. Cold, yes! But, so magical.

In Beijing, we visited the Great Wall of China. Initially I wanted to explore a section of the wall I had never seen before, but we ended up getting swindled by a tour agency we came across right next to our hotel. They piled us onto a bus full of Chinese tourists heading to the Badaling entrance (one of the most popular entrances).

We also went to the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and tasted some local street food!

I loved going to Beijing in December. There weren’t as many tourists on the Great Wall as there would be during the summer months. And, it wasn’t scorching hot.

Must-Eat!

In Beijing, you must try the duck. We went to Quanjude Restaurant. It had a very tasty and filling roast duck. Delicious! We enjoyed our experience.

Street food is also a must! While very different than a high-end restaurant, you get to try new and different things. And, I honestly have never had any stomach issues when in China. Although, I am not allergic to any foods, so if you have allergies are or wary I would recommend staying away from street food.

Transportation

We used taxis and the intricate subway system while traveling around Beijing. For our Great Wall day trip, we utilized a tour agency and boarded a large bus. We sort of regretted this decision, mostly because we would have liked the flexibility of going on our own.

Transportation within Beijing is very cheap. The cost of our living accommodations = the bulk of our expenses.

Preparation before Departure

Traveling in Beijing in December required us to pack some warm clothing. Temperatures are similar to the New England area in the States.

We were prepared and brought our winter coats, hats, gloves, and boots! It was such a lovely experience!

One thing we also did was exchange some money beforehand. This way we had some cash on hand.

Hope you enjoyed reading about our Beijing portion of our honeymoon!

Honeymooning China

Happy December, everyone!

The beginning of December brings back lots of wonderful memories for our family.

Honeymoon

My husband and I got married on November 29, 2014.

After our winter-themed wedding, we were off to China! Prior to this trip, I had traveled to China over ten times over my life, either with family, for pleasure, for study and for work.

This was Michael’s first trip there, and it was a very exciting time for the both of us. It was such a wonderful way to kick-start this chapter of our lives. It’s been four years since we both traveled across the world.

But, it’s December again and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.

Here was our 2014 itinerary:

I planned everything, from start to finish. We didn’t plan on using any tour services. Although, we ended up booking one to the Great Wall when we got to Beijing.

Little Passports

Chinese Visa for U.S. Citizens

One of the things we needed to do before our trip to China was to obtain Chinese visas for our U.S. Passports. The laws have changed over the years, but when in doubt, refer to the following resources:

  1. Chinese Embassy in the U.S.
  2. U.S. Department of State

We ended up filling out the form online (via the Chinese Embassy’s website), and then bringing our documents to the embassy in New York, NY. We lined up and dropped off our forms. Then, we get to pick it up in the afternoon with our receipt.  That’s what we did.

China Visa

If you don’t have the time or energy, you can pay an agency to obtain your visa for you, or you can use a mail-in service.

RushMyPassport.com

Our Adventure

This portion of the trip was definitely an adventure, from navigating and eating our way through the country. One area Michael didn’t want to compromise were our living accommodations. We selected 4 star+ hotels vs. lesser known hotels. It was a wonderful decision with money well spent.

Michael loved it all. It was a different perspective, and it was such a wonderful bonding experience for us both!

After the trip, I made a Shutterfly album which I have shared below! Enjoy:)

Click here to view this photo book larger

You’ll love award-winning Shutterfly photo books. Start your own today.
Samsonite

The 50 States: A Road Trip of a Lifetime

U.S.-Themed Christmas Trees at Ripley’s Aquarium

During our trip down south towards the middle to end of November, we stopped in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where we visited Ripley’s Aquarium.

There, they had a beautiful display of Christmas trees. Each of the trees featured a U.S. State! They were all decorated with various ornaments, which featured each state’s characteristics.

Here are some pictures of the trees we saw throughout the aquarium!U.S.-Themed Christmas Trees
U.S.-Themed Christmas Trees at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC

U.S.-Themed Christmas Trees

Holiday in Myrtle Beach!

Road Trip!

Towards the middle of November, my family took a road trip with our Airstream in tow down south to Miami, FL from Providence, RI. Along the way we camped at Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for about three days. We had such an amazing time, despite the rainy weather.

Activities

Two of the main places we went to were the Ripley’s Aquarium and the Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show.

We really enjoyed the pirate show. To top it off both of the attractions we went to were Christmas-themed!

Cost

Campground: $96.32 for two nights with oceanfront premium full hookup campsite

Pirate Show: We splurged and purchased the premium seats and also decided to get a ticket for Kai, even though they start charging kids aged 4 and up. Kids under 4 would be sitting on our laps. And, we definitely didn’t want that. Although we definitely did not need the extra food that came with his ticket.

Aquarium: We decided to purchase these tickets through Pirates Voyage to save us some money. And we purchased two adult tickets at $19.89 each which is a total of $39.78 vs. the regular price of $29.99/adult, which would have been $59.98. When we got to the aquarium we ended up buying Kai’s ticket, which was just under $10. The Pirates Voyage also sells children’s tickets, but they’re just over $11 when you purchase them because they are for kids aged 6-11. Kai is 2, so he falls in the 2-5 category.

Screenshot of our receipt for the Pirates Voyage show and Ripley's Aquarium tickets in Myrtle Beach, SCScreenshot of Ripley's Aquarium admission pricesAmenities at the Campground

Overall, we had a wonderful time at Ocean Lakes Campground in Myrtle Beach, SC. During this time we figured out our refrigerator stopped working, so we ended up taking full advantage of the campground’s on-site food shack.

Here are some pictures of their menu! We really appreciated the convenience of having food available.

We also took full advantage of the campground’s laundry facilities! They are coin operated at $2.50/wash and $0.25 per 7 or 8 minutes for the dryer.

The ocean was literally right in our backyard! It was such a nice perk being right on the water, so we walked Stanley on the beach. It was beautiful!

Overall, we had a lovely vacation and stay at Myrtle Beach, SC. Thanks for reading about our trip! Happy Camping!

Thanksgiving Menu Idea!

Yes, Thanksgiving is two days away! Need some last-minute dish ideas? Don’t stress.

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 4:6-7

Thanksgiving Menu

Here’s a fun and non-traditional menu that my husband and I created two years ago, for inspiration! We decided on serving small plates or tapas as opposed to a traditional menu.

Thanksgiving Menu 2016

Food and Family Fun

We definitely did not make everything from scratch, but we had a great time creating the menu and serving everything to our parents who we invited.

This was also our son’s first Thanksgiving, so it was really special for us.

Cute 6 month year old baby boy's first Thanksgiving!

Here are some pictures of the food we served!

Thanksgiving Menu idea with food images

We hope you have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!Thanksgiving turkey butt sleepy toddler

Easter menu idea!

Road trip game ideas with a toddler!

Yes there are so many ways to entertain your kids! Nowadays with technology right at your fingertips…not to mention the accessibility of cellular devices, tablets, and portable gaming consoles.

Sometimes we lose touch with human interaction when we are so involved with the latest social media notification or when bombarded with emails and text notifications.

Our family recently took a road trip from Rhode Island to Miami, Florida with stops in D.C. and Myrtle Beach. Along the way we tried out a few different car games with our 2.5 year old son.

Road trip from RI to Fl

Play Guessing Games in the Car

Michael and I both realized that our son, Kai, enjoys playing guessing games! Below are some guessing game suggestions and ideas for you and your family to try while at home, on road trips, or waiting in line at an amusement park or simply when you have time and are bored with your toddler.

Delaware bridge road trip

I Spy Guessing Game

This is a classic childhood car game that brings back memories! The object of the game is to guess the thing(s) that are a certain color.

  • Example: mommy says, “I spy with my eye something that is the color green.” Toddler replies, “trees?!”
  • We found that focusing on objects that are seen for longer periods of time proved to be better for us, since our toddler’s reaction time isn’t the quickest, especially when driving 60 MPH.
  • This game doesn’t usually last us a long time, unless we also focus on items INSIDE the car. Then we can play for a little while longer. Also try and change it up and ask your child to ask the adult or other siblings what he or she spies!!! We have fun guessing too:)

Guess the Animal

Not sure if this has another name, but that’s what we call it in our family! Objective is to guess the animal.

  • Example: daddy says, “baaaa”, and asks children to guess what animal. Child replies, “sheep!”
  • This game is fun and the child also had a blast getting involved in mimicking animal noises.

Guess the Color

As the name of the game provides a wonderful explanation of objective, which is to guess to the color of what is being described.

    • Example: grandma asks, “what color am I thinking of? Apples, stop sign, cherries, raspberries, roses…” child replies, “red!”
    • We have tried playing this game when our toddler was a bit overtired and let me tell you it was an epic failure! He would not concentrate AT ALL and would constantly laugh 😂 which would make me laugh even harder! It was hilarious!

Guess the Item

This game can be played several different ways depending on the children’s ages. The way we have played is fairly simple. Example: grandpa says, “I am thinking about something, this something is the color red. You can eat it. It is sweet. It is a fruit. It’s crunchy. You can pick it off a tree in the fall. You can make pie with it.” Child says, “apple!?”

  • The adult can go on and on and provide detailed descriptions of the item he or she is thinking about until the child guesses correctly. We have found that, depending on your child’s comprehension and vocabulary level, it might be best to start with very simple things.
  • When your children grow older you can start doing the role reversal so they can ask you to guess the item they’re thinking of.

Little Passports

Imagination and Reading to the Rescue!

In addition to occupying your children’s time with guessing games, another form of entertainment we have found to be fun and stimulating is your imagination.

Storytelling

If you’re a creative and imaginative person this is right up your alley! The object is to use descriptive words and tell a fun story.

Unfortunately my attempts at telling our son a story has failed on numerous occasions. It just doesn’t “flow” for me. Therefore, I rely heavily on resources that are available to us.

Audiobooks

My default: the library! If you have a library card you most likely have access to borrow e-books and audiobooks.

  • Prior to our road trip or even during the long drive, I log into my online library account and search for some children audiobooks. I am able to download them right then and there through an app called Overdrive or listen to the book right through our browser. My son loves Curious George and Pinkalicious and enjoys listening to the audiobooks. I have also realized they seem to calm him down and put him to sleep (on a good day).

Playing Pretend

Similar to story-telling, but we are the ones in the “story”. My husband does such an amazing job with this game! Typically we do this at night when we are winding down from a busy day, and if we decide not to read a bedtime storybook.

  • Example: daddy says, “are you ready to go on a safari adventure? What animals do you want to see today?” Then he describes going into a Jeep and buckling up and seeing all of the sights with animal sounds and all! Being in a moving vehicle we could pretend we are in space and seeing all of the spaceships and other life forms go by us, as we are riding.

Little Passports

Other Activities and Ideas!

Here are some other suggestions and things we have tried with our toddler on our long road trips.

Toys

Sometimes bringing his favorite toy(s) are extremely helpful! If your child has a stuffed animal he or she can play pretend and feed it snacks and have fun. Kai enjoys playing with his “shark blaster,” which has lights and sounds.

Snacks & Food

Kai loves snacks! Eating and snacking on stuff keeps him occupied and entertained for a long time. I usually try and find some healthy snacks for him to munch on. His favorites include the following:

Tablet

When all else fails, we do resort to playing movies or TV shows on his tablet. This is the one we have, along with the case we got for him:



Our sons enjoying watching certain shows and tends to fall asleep to the movie Moana, which was his favorite for a long time.

Some of the toddler games are very educational, but we have found that we need to sit down with him and show him how to play the games before we sit in the car. The games are a little complex for him to figure out all on his own after downloading them.

I recommend letting your child play games that he or she is already familiar with so they can explore on their own. Otherwise, you will have a toddler constantly asking you how to do this and that in each level or in each game.

Play Packs / Coloring Activity

Our son doesn’t typically have the attention span to sit for long periods of time, but when we are in the car he actually enjoys coloring and playing with some stickers. He has been rather intricate with his coloring nowadays…compared to just a few months ago he would just color a few lines and said he was all done.

We hope these road trip ideas are helpful for you and your family during long drives or when you’re traveling:) Enjoy!

The 50 States: A Road Trip of a Lifetime