Posts Tagged With: National Zoo

My Three Favorite Places on Earth

Today has been a wonderful, lazy Sunday.  The power went out at our apartment about an hour ago, and we spotted the electrician in his truck playing Solitaire on his laptop, so we figured it might be out for awhile.  That was the perfect excuse for a trip to Starbucks!  Progress reports for Sam’s students are due tomorrow, so he’s busy entering some last-minute grades and he needed to use the internet.  I got him a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino and I got a Raspberry Mocha Frappuccino, so we are both happy at the moment.

I wasn’t sure what to write about today, but I promised Sam I would post something on my blog while he worked on his progress reports so he wouldn’t get discouraged watching me play games on my phone while he was working hard.  Fair enough.

I started browsing my pictures and thinking about all the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen.  I picked three places on Earth that are my absolute favorite and posted pictures I took of them.  These are the first places I would go if I had the power to teleport.  If someone told me to close my eyes and “go to my happy place,” one of these places would pop into my head.


1.  The Front Steps of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London, UK

When I studied in London, I visited this spot every few days for several months.  There’s always something to see and people to watch.  If offers a great view of Big Ben and Nelson’s Column.  I loved picking up a sandwich and crisps from Tesco and sitting on those steps to watch the busses drive by.  This is the place I sat on my last day in London and bawled my eyes out (much to the disturbance of some nearby tourists).  Those steps offered me peace in the midst of chaos, love in the midst of loneliness, and I want to sit there again so badly.


2.  The Panda House at the Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.

I’ve already covered how much I love pandas, so this one shouldn’t be a huge surprise.  I first saw pandas at the San Diego Zoo when I was 11, but the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is the first place I visited pandas with Sam.  I went back a second time last summer, and I could’ve stood there watching the pandas all day.  This is a place that gives me hope.  I see a species that has struggled to survive and the efforts people have made to save them.  I love pandas so much that seeing them in person makes me positively giddy.  Mei Xiang and Tian Tian feel like friends whenever I see them.  I’m that annoying “big kid” front and center of the exhibit who won’t move to let other kids see the pandas.  Sorry.  They’re my favorite.


3.  Beckham Courtyard, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, TX

You’ve probably never heard of this place, and that’s all right.  This place has an extra-special place in my heart.  Sam and I went to school at Hardin-Simmons, and this courtyard is where we had our first kiss in October of 2009 and where he proposed to me in January of 2011.  This place has so many fantastic memories, and I love each and every one.  Sam and I would sit at the bench there late at night and talk for hours.  When I sit there, all I think about is how far we’ve come and how excited I am for our future.

(Jenny Linh Spradlin took this picture.)

(Rebecca Henschen took this picture.)

(Rebecca Henschen took this picture.)

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Condolences to Mei Xiang

This morning I woke up and was browsing Facebook in bed when I caught this piece of news from the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Facebook Page:

We are broken-hearted to share that we have lost our little giant panda cub. Panda keepers and volunteers heard Mei Xiang make a distress vocalization at 9:17 a.m. and let the veterinarian staff know immediately. They turned off the panda cam and were able to safely retrieve the cub for an evaluation at 10:22 a.m., which we only do in situations of gravest concern. The veterinarians immediately performed CPR and other life-saving measures, but sadly the cub was unresponsive. We’ll have more updates as we learn more, but right now we know is that the cub weighed just under 100 grams and that there was no outward sign of trauma or infection. We’ll share information with you as we learn more.

My heart is so heavy this morning after hearing about the panda cub.  If you’ll remember, I was so excited in my post last week announcing its birth.  I’ve shed so many tears for this baby panda this morning, and I know that won’t make sense to a lot of you.  After all, it’s only an animal in a zoo 1,300 miles away… but I was so hopeful.  To me, that little baby panda was the epitome of innocence.  It was barely 3 pounds, hairless, completely dependent on its mother.  The fact that something so vulnerable can die is a hard pill to swallow.

Here’s the last video the National Zoo posted of the baby:

It’s unfair that helpless, innocent things in this world have to die.  The only comfort is that God knows what he’s doing, and our world isn’t just spinning chaos.  Still, I’m sad about the loss of Mei Xiang’s baby and I can’t make that sadness go away right now.  When babies (human or not) die, it takes time to ponder life and take hope.

Categories: Noteworthy News | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Congratulations, Mei Xiang!

Great news!  Last night at 10:46 p.m., a baby panda was born to Mei Xiang from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.  I’m so excited!  I love the National Zoo and try to visit the pandas every time we visit my sister-in-law Sara.  One of my go-to “sick day” movies is a documentary I bought about the birth of Tai Shan, Mei Xiang’s last baby cub.  It just lifts my spirits to see a baby panda romping around being cute.  According to this article from the Los Angeles Times, the baby is loud and healthy.  His or her first exam will be in a few weeks, when we’ll find out if the cub is a boy or a girl!  By tradition, the baby won’t be named until its 100th day, which by my calculations should be Christmas Day!  How perfect!

Here’s a video documenting the birth (skip to 14:24 to see the exciting part!):

Are you excited about the new baby panda?  I think the world could always use more cuteness.

Categories: Noteworthy News | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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