Saturday 8 October 2011

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Our Build-A-Bear Habit

Arizona Build-A-Bears
Just like their mother, our girls love to shop.  It used to be cute when they were younger and they'd come to me with things like five cent candies or a one dollar toy and I'd get to be the big, generous Daddy and say "Of course you can have that sweetheart!  Anything for my little girl." (Helpful hint guys: Don't ever say that.  Apparently blurting it out once at age five when they were looking particularly cute commits you to buying them everything they want for life.)  Now it's progressed on to much bigger things, like shoes, dresses, and fifty dollar electronic toys.  It's a lot harder to be the big, generous Daddy now.  Fortunately, as a frequent traveling family, we settled on travel souvenirs a long time ago.  Our girls developed a fondness for Build-A-Bears on one of their first trips to Disneyland, and it's been their souvenir of choice ever since.

Gotta wash the bears first
If you don't know what Build-A-Bear is, it's a chain of stores where you make your own stuffed animals.  You go in, pick out the skin (fur?) of whichever animal you would like to make, and then one of the employees will help you to stuff your animal full of fluff while adding extras like a heartbeat or a noise or song appropriate to your choice.  When you're finished, they sew up your pet, and you register them online where you can play with them in a virtual world.  Of course, just like my girls, you can spend a fortune on them in clothes and accessories.

It became quickly apparent that building a bear every time we traveled would be very expensive, so we implemented a rule of "One Build-A-Bear per state".  We figured that this would limit our expenses, but it had the unintended benefit of getting the girls interested in where we were heading next.  Whenever we would announce our next destination, we would be met by questions of "Which state is that in?"  Too bad my girls don't have to know their states for school up here.  They'd be experts by now.  Of course they still don't believe me that Los Angeles and San Francisco are in the same state.  They think I'm just trying to save some money.

Florida Build-A-Bears.  The store is in the Orlando Airport
We try and encourage our girls to choose outfits that represent where we got each Build-A-Bear from.  While some places like Disneyland or Hawaii are pretty easy, some of them are a little bit harder.  Choosing an appropriate outfit from Las Vegas for instance, had it's own challenges.  Eventually we decided that we'd just skip buying outfits in Vegas and the Build-A-Bears went home naked, although somehow it's never been an issue figuring out where they're from.

Hawaii Build-A-Bears
The first bear - Gem from Disneyland
I don't know if Build-A-Bear is in all 50 states yet, but it's kind of cute when my girls point out how close we are to a state where they haven't built one yet.  They were disappointed to discover that there wasn't a Build-A-Bear in the port cities of Mexico that we stopped in ("Mexico's kind of like a state Dad!"), and it drove them nuts that our layover in Salt Lake City wasn't long enough for them to get into town and make the Utah bear (I have no idea what you would dress those bears in).  I can't see us getting all 50 built, so I guess either my girls are going to come up short, or they're going to have to pass the bears on to their children and carry on the quest themselves.  I just know that some time in the future I'm going to get a call from one of my Son-in-laws asking why my daughter insists on going to South Dakota instead of Hawaii for their family vacation.  Sorry about that.