After our fancy night at the Kennedy Center, Piper and I took a day to relax. After all, I needed to de-stress after wearing a dress- AGAIN! What is it with occasions needing dresses and the wintertime?
I have a favorite place in Washington DC, and I needed to take Piper there. Where was it? You guessed it- the National Zoo! Home of not only red pandas, but the giant kind as well!
The National Zoo has an awesome panda exhibit. You can watch the researchers as they view the Panda cams, and you can even try out the enrichment activities. Here Piper and I are playing in a challenge crate!
Of course we had to see the pandas too- and they were so big and cute! Here's one of the pandas- either Mei Xiang or Tian Tian. Isn't it cute how it's sticking out its tongue as it eats the bamboo? Awesome!
Although the ballet was the reason for our trip, we couldn't visit Washington without seeing what I think is the biggest attraction- the baby red pandas! Shama and Tate, the zoo's two adult pandas, had twin baby girls this summer. This is either Pili or Damini, one of the red panda cubs. I had never seen a cub in person before- and they were so cute!
After viewing the giant pandas and red panda cubs, we went outside to see my old friends, Shama & Tate. It was a chilly day in Washington, so I wore my new hat (it was a Christmas gift from my friend Alaina).
Shama and Tate are the red panda couple at the National Zoo. They're probably my favorite red pandas in the whole world! Their exhibit is full of exciting things to climb on; I love watching them explore.
At the red panda exhibit, there is also a pair of cute red panda statues. Of course, Piper and I had to pose with them. Can you believe it was Piper's first time seeing red pandas? I made her pinky-promise to go see the red pandas at Utah's Hogle Zoo. Then she made me pinky-promise to come with her!
As visitors leave the Asia Trail part of the zoo, they walk through a beautiful path through a little bamboo forest. Piper took this photo of me there, because she thinks I'm part panda. Actually, I told her that if I ever go to Hogwarts, my patronus is going to be a red panda!
We wandered all over the zoo, but it was a cold January day- most of the animals were inside. Piper told me that one of her favorite animals is the meerkat, because they work together like friendly busy bees- so we had to go see them! Here we are with the aardvark statue in front of the Small Mammal House. Wouldn't it be fun to have animal statues in front of your house?
Good thing we stopped by the Small Mammal House, because there was a friendly meerkat just waiting to say hello! He looked at us for a long time, and then scurried back into his fake termite mound.
After the zoo, we had to accomplish another goal- Piper's first Junior Ranger badge! Luckily, Piper is very handy at figuring out subways, so we took the DC Metro. Here's Piper at the nearest station to the zoo. The farecards in Washington have giant pandas on them! I need to speak to Mayor Bloomberg about getting red pandas on ours in NYC.
We got off the metro at the Smithsonian stop. We each had a Junior Ranger book, and we'd been working on them the whole trip. Actually, we got most of the work done on the bus- Piper brought her laptop along.
We decided to visit the Washington Monument as our first stop before going to the ranger station. Did you know the monument was built in two phases? That's why it's two different colors. It was designed to look like an Egyptian obelisk.
My friend Violet and I have a tradition of standing in front of the official park signs, so Piper and I had to get a snapshot in front of the little ranger station. Here we are!
Inside the station, a friendly park ranger swore us in as Junior Rangers! Piper was very proud to earn her first badge in the nation's capitol. We both took our vows very seriously- Explore! Learn! Protect! That's the Junior Ranger motto.
After we left the ranger station, we had to leave to go back to New York. We walked back to the Smithsonian metro station so we could go to Union Station. Before we left, Piper took one last photo of me in Washington.
It was a great weekend! If you ever have the chance to visit Washington, take it!
This weekend, Piper and I were lucky. We received tickets to The Mariinsky Ballet's Firebird as a gift! I saw The Mariinsky Ballet last summer here at Lincoln Center, but Piper had never seen them. They're known as one of the world's best ballet companies. Not only did we get tickets- but the performance was in Washington DC! On Friday morning, Piper and I woke up early to take the train down to our nation's capitol.
We knew that The Kennedy Center (where the performance was held) is a Very Important Place, so we wore our best dresses, from Melody Valerie Couture. Of course, we had to have our photo taken in the big beautiful lobby of the theatre. The Mariinsky performed three ballets- Chopiniana, Firebird, and Scheherazade. My favorite was Firebird; I loved all the monsters and the sorcerer!
During the intermissions, we went to the Members' Lounge and had lemonade and cookies! There were some other girls there too, also dressed up.
It was a magical evening; I'm so glad we had the chance to see The Mariinsky Ballet during Piper's visit! It was all thanks to a family friend of my friend Maiki, who had some extra tickets.
On New Year's Eve, when I walked into my bedroom, I saw a big pile of presents underneath my New Year tree! I'm Russian, so my family celebrates the New Year instead of Christmas. We still have a tree, but it's a New Year Tree instead of a Christmas tree. We also have Ded Moroz (Father Frost) who is a lot like Santa. I get to open my presents on New Year's Eve, so when I saw the pile under the tree, I got ready to open them all!
My first present was from my Grandma in Wisconsin. She always sends really nice presents, so I was excited that hers was the first present. What do you think is in the big box?
It was the Calico Critters Giant Panda family! They're so cute. You can't see all of them, but there's a Mama, Daddy, boy, girl, and twin babies. They're going to be friends with my red panda Calico Critters family. Thank you Grandma!
I like to stick the bows from my presents on my head. It makes things feel more festive!
The next present was from my moms. I tore off the paper and it was...
The Playmobil Stone Age family!! Awesome! Playmobil's newest theme is the Stone Age, but the family isn't coming out until June. My parents got them for me in a special sale. Thank you Mama and Mom!
Next came a package with snowflake paper. I shook it, but I couldn't hear any sounds. What could it be?
A Squishable!! So cool! I love Squishables. I got the best one too- the narwhal! Thanks Mama and Mom!!
My parents also gave me an autographed copy of Good Luck Ivy, by Lisa Yee. She wrote an inscription just for me! So cool.
My biggest present was an Ivy doll from Ded Moroz. I just read her book a few weeks ago and loved it. Now I have the doll and a signed book! Sweet!
My good friend Sophie Moreau sent me two lovely gifts- a giant panda journal and a set of porcelain red pandas. Spasibo, Sophie!
I pulled one last present out from under the tree. It was in Ded Moroz's special paper, but it was addressed to Piper, not to me. Piper? What? why would she be getting a present from Ded Moroz at my family's apartment?
The answer? Because my biggest New Year surprise was a visit from my good friend Piper! Her parents' big present was a trip to visit me in New York City. We hadn't seen each other since last spring, when I visited her in Utah!
It looks like 2012 is off to a great start! What should I do with Piper to show her New York?
P.S. If you want to see the rest of the story, including Piper's present, it's at this link.