Merry and Bright

Where did we leave off?


Ah yes, the disappointing White House Tree.





Saturday night, we managed to make it to the tree before ten PM. (I know, I’m great at posting things super quick, but if you’re going to complain, then don’t look at the pictures. Your loss.)

It was pouring rain, and freezing, but this tree was beautiful.




In November 1923, Fist Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission for the District of Columbia public schools to erect a Christmas tree on the Ellipse south of the White House, to be known as the “National Christmas Tree.” That Christmas Eve, at 5 pm, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse and “pushed the button” to light the tree, donated by Middlebury College. The tree was harvested from the President’s native state of Vermont. From 1924 to 1953, live trees were lit on Christmas Eve.

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In 1954, the ceremony expanded its focus to include smaller trees, representing the states, District of Columbia, and the territories forming a “Pathway of Peace.” These trees are decorated with ornaments created by students at a chosen school in each state. I managed to snag a picture of the Pennsylvania tree. It may not look like much, but trust me: the ornaments were much more colorful than some of the other states (I attribute our superiority to the fact that we’re actually a commonwealth.)


This year’s centerpiece tree was a Colorado Blue Spruce from northwester Virginia (misleading name, huh?) cut down on October 27 th. I find it amazing that this little tidbit of information is on the sign nearby, but not how tall the tree is. Go figure.

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Of course, there’s an expansive train set and village surrounding the tree. Amazing.

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The weather attempted to deter my master photography skills (pfft),  but I was not having it. I immediately regretted taking this photo..   


But alas! Santa saved the day!


We ventured into what I can confidently say was a spectacular recreation of Santa’s workshop. And were greeted by the most enthusiastic and happy (and attractive. seriously, where do they find these girls?) elves in the District.

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There was only one way to end the night. And that was with.. NUTCRACKERS!

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Of course, Erika made some friends..

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All in all, a wonderful (albeit cold and wet) end to the semester.



Rent and Disappointment

The semester is over! I survived my first 110 days as a graduate student. Now what?


ZOOLIGHTS, that’s what!

Our adventure included a wide variety of animals, some organic and others a little more.. electric (boogey woogie woogie).

Flamingos                    Anteater

R Owls     R Lizard     R Croc
Owls                                                                                          Weird Lizard Guy                                                             Crocodile

Lang Game
he ape house had a neat little language game experiment.
Of course, we had to try it out.

R Another not monkey                    Bear Cub
Some super fuzzy guy                                                                                            

Zebras     Waterfall     Toucan

Tigers                    Seal 

Panda                    Panda 2
Cute, cuddly panda bears (BTW, they named the new baby!)

R Turtle 1

Moving on…

R Not a monkey      R Not a monkey 3      R Not a monkey 2
Much better..

Ocean 2                    Ocean 1
onestly, the under-the-sea theme was strange to me, until I saw the TURTLES

R Turtle 5      R Turtle 4      R Turtle 3

Monkeys                    Monkey2
                                                                                                                                  Of course, Erika had to hug the orangutan

Kyles stoma
k, let’s take a brief intermission to talk about the best thing ever. The orangutan at the National Zoo, Kyle, has a stoma! It’s such a speechie thing to get excited about but OH MY GOD THIS APE HAS A STOMA CAN I PLEASE JUST HANG OUT WITH HIM?!

Gorillas sleeping                    Dinosaur
One of these things is not like the other…

Mole Rats                    R Mole Rats
Story time (part dos): To your left, you see some pretty lights. To your right, you see this animal in its much less cute, and more real, form. Both sets of naked mole rats are getting the same amount of “stuff” accomplished. Those to the left are giving off light and providing joy to children. Those to the right are giving UP. One of them (call me racist, but they all look the same to me), spent about ten minutes trying to get into the tube. Instead, he ran head first into the wall. Let me repeat.. this rat ran headfirst into a wall without stopping for TEN straight minutes. When his friend finally helped him out (I assume), he just lay there. Victorious, yet defeated all at once. They were still there when we left.

Iguana                    R Small lizard

  R Cuddly (2)      Groundhog      R Cuddly
These pictures don’t match, I know. But these little cuddle guys were just too cute and I can’t remember their names.

Elephants                    Elephant 1

Dodo Bird                    R Bird
I think one is extinct. The other is a ball of awesome.

Butterfly     R Dwarf Sheep      R Porcupine
Let me take a minute to map this out for you.
Left: butterfly and flowers, normal things.
Middle: a DWARF sheep! Literally, it’s an even cuter version of a cute thing.
Right: A porcupine. Pretending to be asleep. He kept peeking, but closed his eyes when he saw people standing there. 

R SlothAnd of course, for Gina, the hiding sloth. 

As if our night had not been so spectacular, we decided to top it off with a visit to the White House Christmas tree. Now, kids, here’s a lesson: Quite while you’re ahead. When we got there, we were greeted by a wonderfully lit tree in the distance. It was 9:59.
When we had trekked across the lawn and were approaching the tree, ready to draw our cameras and capture the beauty before us:
Z Dark Tree

The clock struck 10:01. The jolly man running the tree kindly kicked everyone out and shouted something along the lines of too bad, the tree closes at ten. Happy Holidays! Oh wait, I ruined your night? Oh well, hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Our night thoroughly dampened, we boarded the metro. As the doors closed, a small commotion occurred. A young man let out an exasperated sigh. His friend just looked dejected.

Z No shoe

Oh yeah, and he only had one shoe.

So, when life gets you down, remember: At least you didn’t lose your shoe in a fight with the metro doors. Because, it’s true what they say: Those doors don’t stop for anyone.