On Saturday, we headed out in the unexpected Snowpocalypse to bid farewell to the National Zoo's four-year-old panda, Tai Shan, aka "Butterstick." We first met him way back in December of 2005, and we've been back several times since then. The zoo's arrangement with China allowed for any babies to stay for two years, but we were lucky enough to keep Tai Shan for four. But all good things must come to an end, and Tai Shan will be heading back to China on his own personalized FedEx plane on Thursday. Saturday was the day the zoo picked for the official farewell celebration, brought to you in part, by Land O' Lakes, a fitting tribute to our Butterstick.

The snow was just beginning.

Ellie, Claire (Ellie's friend) and I waited in the snow (while Evan and Lisa were in a zoo class about monkeys) for the official opening of the farewell celebration. Why?

Giant stuffed panda! Free!

Tai Shan checks out his farewell "cake" and knocks it over trying to reach the apple on top, much to the delight of the onlookers. Alas, due to the snow, the zoo closed early, and we packed the frozen kids back into the van for the traffic-choked hour and a half drive home. Goodbye, Butterstick! We'll miss you!