Every year around this time, Alex and I go through all of her toys and take the gently-used ones that she's outgrown to give to Goodwill. She generally does this exercise pretty gleefully; however, last year I found her in tears.
"What's the matter?" I asked, alarmed.
"Am I going to have to give Baby Lion away, one day, too?"
"Oh, no, no, no," I said immediately. "You can keep Baby Lion until you're an old, old woman."
I'm not sure when Baby Lion actually became a member of our household -- I think I got him about 8 years ago as a gift at a baby shower when we were awaiting Alex's birth, but the truth is, I don't really know for sure. What I do know is that Baby Lion has been a fixture at Alex's side since before she could walk, and we don't go anywhere overnight without taking him along with us. At this point Baby Lion's mane is all matted down so he looks like he has a crew cut, and his fur is all worn, but I think this makes his appearance even more endearing to Alex. She sleeps with him every night, and when her alarm goes off, if she decides to crawl in bed with us for an early-morning snuggle before hitting the showers, invariably Baby Lion crawls in bed with us too.
In fact, I so associate Baby Lion with Alex at this point, that I think I would be heartbroken if anything ever happened to him.
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(A quick intermission: since we're talking about Alex's birth and all, it seems only fitting to share with you the story about how I got started blogging, over at BlogStar. We're coming up on 8 years of blogging! Eight years!! Crazy.)
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It's Day 4 of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, friends -- and today's giveaway features the really unique work of a very talented artist -- I'm seriously considering hiring her for Alex and Baby Lion.
Image courtesy Jennifer Maher of Your Toy Portrait
Artist Jennifer Maher creates one-of-a-kind original paintings of your (or your kids') favourite stuffed animal -- and she's giving an 8x10 original acrylic-on-canvas portrait away (the winner of this gift will have to send a non-flash photograph to Jennifer for her to work with). As you can see above (and on her site), her work is amazing. And wouldn't it be great to memorialize something your child loved to pieces, before the toy is ... well, in pieces?
Here's more about Jennifer and Your Toy Portrait:
Artist's statement: A long-time collector of quirky stuffed animals, Jennifer Maher has often turned to them as subject matter for her artwork. The birth of her daughter in 2008 revived Jennifer’s interest in documenting unique and significant toys, especially those most special to baby Sonja. This series has expanded as other parents began requesting portraits of their own children’s special stuffed animals. Originally from Chicago, Jennifer now lives and paints in Upstate New York. She holds undergraduate degrees in both Fine Arts and English Writing from Knox College in Galesburg, IL, and an MA and an MFA in painting from the State University of New York Albany.
A signed copy of The Beauty of Different, inscribed to whoever you'd like; and
And again, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.
As always, for a chance to win these prices, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Friday, December 16th, US Central Time. Please leave only one comment. Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are. I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.
(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.)
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AND THE WINNER IS: According to Random.org, the winner is Leah, who said "I, ahem, have my childhood stuffed animal (a koala bear my brother gave me when I was first born) sitting on the mantle above our bed. And my baby quilt is still sitting on the dresser." Congratulations, Leah! Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.
Thanks for participating, everyone -- not even halfway through, with 8 more days left!