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Building Memories and Moments: BABW is a champ at creating bonds and bears. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Monday, 05 November 2012 15:29
Luckily, right before the hurricane, we were able to do Halloween’s “Boo at the Zoo.” We’re serious animal lovers, so we donned critter masks for some trick-or-treat Philadelphia fun.
Build-a-Bear Workshop does more than bears as the kids’ “family” of creatures proves. They have all forms of four-legged friends.
The fur for “Pumpkin the Cat” is a celebration of Halloween and Jack-o’-lanterns.
The rabbit was the first BABW pal to enter our home. She’s worn every outfit imaginable, including the “wearing of the green” for St. Patrick’s Day.
Boy Power! When my son got his first BABW companion, he dubbed him “Fang Gung Fu.” Today he’s called “Lightning,” in honor of Percy Jackson, the Lightning Thief.
Kitty cats and puppy dogs put aside their differences and root for the home team: the puppy is a cheerleader and the cat is a softball player.
Holiday costumes and everyday ensembles are available at your local Build-a-Bear Workshop! They provide hours and hours of fun!
Luckily, right before the hurricane, we were able to do Halloween’s “Boo at the Zoo.” We’re serious animal lovers, so we donned critter masks for some trick-or-treat Philadelphia fun.
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Whoever came up with the idea of cutting two holes in a hat and adding a circle for a tail to protrude from a pair of blue jeans, I want to thank you. In fact, I want to tip my non-holed hat to you. You are a genius!

I’m paying tribute today to the folks at Build-a-Bear Workshop. For my family, BABW is not just a store—it’s a rite of passage. My daughter, who is adopted from China, was given two BABW creations when she arrived in America as a baby. One was a rabbit that was stuffed and named and created with love by her godfather, John. Now, if you knew John, you’d realize how sweet and touching that is. John had a stuffed rabbit as a child and wanted his goddaughter to have a beloved bunny to call her own. Having no kids, he wandered into the Build-a-Bear at the local mall, mistakenly assuming it was a toy store. The next thing he knew, he is picking out pelts, sitting down to have it stuffed, going through a naming ceremony, and then having to hunt-and-peck his way through a computer-keyboard system to create a birth certificate for the rabbit! All of this is very charming and heartwarming, but it’s also a tad funny because John is a “mountain of a man,” who looks like a “mountain man”! He’s very tall, has a big bushy beard, and dresses in plaid flannel regardless of the temperature. Still, he was willing to settle down on a toddler-size stool and create a BABW bunny for his new goddaughter.

With that kind of a devotion to a baby and a bunny, John has definitely earned a place of honor in my heart. BABW is the place where my son (adopted as a kindergartener) was taken to make his very first stuffed animal: a snow leopard that he decked out in full kung fu attire. It made a world of difference for this child who came to us without a forever family and without the toys and trappings of childhood that most of us take for granted. We don’t take any of this for granted anymore.

Even more heartening, he couldn’t speak English when he arrived, so the making of the snow leopard required lots of pantomiming and exaggerated emotional, facial contortions. Luckily, the girl who was stuffing his first stuffed animal was up to the task and made it a sentimental and sweet bonding experience.

Over the years now, we’ve bought and received a whole passel of animals from Build-a-Bear, which really is a misnomer because a preponderance of the kids’ bounty has been non-ursine characters. They have cats, dogs, rabbits, snow leopards, and a few bears, of course.

Best of all is that there are so many different outfits that can be bought for the characters that one well-made kitty can become a thousand different felines with her fashion choices: there are holiday-themed attire, everyday knock-around clothing, sports uniforms, and pretty pinafores. There are opportunities to make your bear a boy or a girl, or a gender bender depending on what costumes you choose to cloak him/her in!

With the outdoors environment so unforgiving and dangerous this past week—we were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy—we made our house “the great indoors.” My kids and I lined up the BABW menagerie and photographed them, then discussed who gave them to us and why. In the midst of fallen trees, crushed cars, destroyed power lines, and a general feeling of helplessness, it was a good exercise in being thankful for what we still have: each other!