mariana perez

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Travel is so much more pleasant when you know the language and understand the culture of your destination. From hailing a cab, to ordering at a restaurant, or haggling at an outdoor market, your experience will certainly be more enjoyable! Everyone's heard of Rosetta Stone. You may even have passed by one of their kiosks at the mall or the airport. I've tried it (via a free 30-day trial last year) and it is a really great way to learn a new language. The only drawback is how expensive the software can be. If you're only looking to learn a few phrases just to get by, or want to brush up on the language you studied in high school, then you may want to consider taking lessons online. There are a variety of websites that offer free instruction in a multitude of languages, including:
In my last post, I shared with you one of my favorite places to visit in Austin, Texas - the Zilker Botanical Garden. Staying with the same theme, but a little closer to home, today I'll tell you a little about the United States Botanic Garden. It's been around for nearly 200 years, but somehow the United States Botanic Garden looks incredibly modern. Right next door to the US Capitol Building, it's impossible to miss the beautiful glass dome of the conservatory. Taking into account how great its location is, it's surprising that it's not a more popular tourist attraction.
There are hundreds of botanical gardens across the United States, but the one that has a special place in my heart is the Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin, Texas. It's so beautiful and peaceful, and a great place for photo ops. My favorite section of the park is the Taniguchi Oriental Garden, a Japanese garden that opened to the public in 1969. I met the man who built it.
I've been living in Virginia for almost 12 years, yet somehow I feel like I haven't even begun to tap into all that the state has to offer! Of the cities I've visited, one of my favorite places in Virginia is Colonial Williamsburg. More of an educational trip than the typical amusement park outing, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg takes you back in time. The first time we visited, my oldest daughter was only a few months old, so we just took a couple of hours to walk around the historic district, had lunch at a tavern, took some photos, and went back to our hotel. The best part? It was free! This allowed us to see all that Colonial Williamsburg has too offer, without paying the hefty admission.
My advice for riding the Metro with kids? Plan ahead.
Summer-in-DC
It's not officially summer yet, but it's hot, hot, hot and the pools have just opened, so, yeah... it's summer. You can cool off and head indoors to a museum, but the city offers SO much more than that!
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Sadly, late last week I found myself shopping around for bereavement fares, following the death of my grandpa back in Texas. After spending what felt like hours talking to representatives from several airlines over the phone, I realized I was wasting my time. In fact, after the experience I've had, I can flat out tell you that bereavement fares are a joke.
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Experts say that children 40 lbs and under should be in child safety seats on airplanes. That is perfectly understandable, but have you ever tried to carry a big, bulky car seat through the narrow aisle of an airplane? With two kids and a carry on bag in tow? It's not pretty. This is why when I heard about a new child aviation restraint being developed - CARES - I was one of the first to order! CARES stands for Child Aviation Restraint System. We've had ours since the week it launched back in 2006. Designed for children who are at least 1 year old and weigh between 22-44 lbs, it's the only harness-style child safety device approved for aircraft use by the FAA. It takes the place of a car seat when traveling by air with your children, providing an equivalent level of safety during all phases of a flight - taxiing, take off, turbulence and landing. Weighing about a pound, CARES comes in a small sack that can be carried around your wrist or tossed in your diaper bag.