Sock Bunnies

Last year, as I was thinking of filling Easter baskets, I decided I wanted to make special stuffies for the kids.  As I scanned the internet for easy ideas, I came across a pattern for a sock bunny. I loved the idea, because Niko had a thing for collecting and playing with socks at the time, so we had quite an assortment of socks that were either worn or had lost partners. The bunnies were so easy to make, and so loved by the kids, that I thought I’d share my process. I made a few changes to the original pattern, which you can see by clicking here. 

First I chose two socks, one for each bunny, that were tall enough to work with and not too worn. Of course, you could use new ones, but I liked the idea of upcycling what we already had.

I wanted the bunnies to be heatable, so instead of using regular stuffing, I used rice, because it works well for heating in the microwave. You can see in the picture that I used two types of rice, arborio and jasmine. This wasn’t for any creative reason, I just didn’t have enough rice to use only jasmine. I used the socks to measure the rice ahead of time to make sure I had enough.

To give them  a comforting aroma, I scented the rice with a couple of drops of essential oil. Lavender oil is traditional for bedtime and relaxing, but since we all had miserable colds, I went a different route. Niko’s first, beloved babysitter always used DoTerra’s OnGuard oil when Niko or anyone else in her home was feeling under the weather. She would dab it onto the bottoms of his feet, avoiding the sensitive skin of his face, or put it into a diffuser. It has a warm orange-and-spice scent, and it’s supposed to improve immune response and help with congestion. I have no evidence for the immune part, but I can testify that it does help open up congested sinuses. Remembering how comforting that scent was to someone suffering from a cold, I added a few drops to the rice and mixed it well. I made sure not to use too much; any essential oil has a powerful aroma, and the orange and cinnamon in OnGuard is especially strong.

When I made the first bunny, I filled the sock about two-thirds full, then sectioned off a large bottom part with my fingers and cinched a thread around the dividing line. This was a little difficult, because the top kept wanting to fall over and dump out the rice. The second time, I ended up pouring out the rice in the top section before tying it off, leaving the heel empty. Then I firmly tied the thread just above the rice. This approach was much easier. I put a dab of fabric glue onto the knot so the kids wouldn’t accidentally untie it later.

I made sure each heel, above the cinched thread, had as much rice as I could pack into it while making sure this section was smaller than the bottom part. I used thread to tie this section off. This time, I used fabric glue both on the knot and on the inside of the sock where the thread pulled it tight, to prevent rice from falling out later.

Next, I oriented the bunny with the round heel, which would be the bunny’s nose and face, toward me. I carefully cut down the middle of the empty top of the sock, with the cut lined up with the center of the heel. I cut away a diagonal, slightly curved piece at the end of each half of the fabric. Now the top of the sock looked roughly like bunny ears. The ears were open and prone to fraying, and I wanted to give them a more finished look. I didn’t have access to my sewing machine, and that miserable cold had exhausted me, so I used the fabric glue one more time. Folding each edge of the ear under, I ran a line of glue along one side and used clothespins to hold the edges together, and let the bunny dry overnight. Besides making the ears more durable, securing the edges also gave them a more defined, less floppy look.

I’d put off my project so long that the next morning was Easter. Before the kids woke up, I got out my fabric markers and gave each bunny a face on the rounded heel of the sock: eyes, heart-shaped nose, and smiling mouth. I tied some ribbon over the thread that defined the neck,  with the fluffy bow just under the bunny’s chin. I finished just in time to add a bunny to each Easter basket.DSC01213

I was gratified by the kids’ responses: they immediately hugged them, and Niko was instantly reminded of his babysitter. He said, “It smells like Joey!” as he inhaled deeply. Despite how rushed the end of the project had been, I was satisfied.

A year later, I’m pleasantly impressed with how much sturdier the bunnies are than I’d expected, given that they are held together with ribbon and glue. I had to mend each one recently because Niko bit holes into them (yes, really), but the construction remains intact. And both kids still adore them and ask for them to be warmed up at bedtime, even though they each have a store-bought microwaveable toy. It was a project that was both insanely easy and durable, which is a win in my book.

 

 

Meow

There are parents out there — you know who you are — who freely, glibly, almost joyfully lie to their children on a regular basis. Behavior modification, comfort, pure and simple fun — all are justifications for these routine lies. They range from “Jimmy Kimmel told me to eat all your Halloween candy” (do a YouTube search for that –there are some heartbreakingly funny videos out there), to “Santa won’t bring you any toys if you pull the puppy’s tail,” to “Yes, sweetie, your purple polka-dot shirt looks charming with those camouflage capris,” to “That green stuff on your plate is elf farts, and if you eat it all you’ll be able to fly! (Oh, how sad, I guess you must have missed some crumbs on your plate.)” Lies, boldfaced lies, and I’ve never truly understood the common propensity toward this parenting approach. It’s one area that brings me perilously close to the brink of breaching my personal life philosophy of non-judgement. 

I guess my near-yielding to temptation to judging others might be why I found myself in a sticky situation a couple of days ago: a demonstration of just why parents might feel moved to act in such ways. 

We’d had a long morning, and opted to stop in for a bite at McDonald’s so we could finish shopping before going home. Immediately inside the door was a display of the Happy Meal toys: wind-up monster trucks, and Hello Kitty toys. Sofia, who will be two in about three months, adores “meows” and instantly recognized Hello Kitty as such, and began hopping up and down in joy as she shouted “Meow! Meow!” I glanced at the options: a little tin with stickers, and several figures. I could see the tin would be too difficult for Sofia’s little hands to manage, so I resolved to request a figure instead. 

After the meal, I realized I’d forgotten to request a Hello Kitty figure. I checked the bag: yes, it was a tin. I carried it to the counter, which was, I was thankful to see, nearly abandoned on the customer side, and apologetically explained the situation. The server was understanding — I guessed she had kids of her own — and did a quick search for a replacement. 

Unfortunately, they were all tins. She had just one figure. She brought it to me, shaking her head, as she showed me that it was even worse — it featured an ink stamp on the bottom. “Let me look in the back.” She was doing way more than she needed to, and I was grateful and by now feeling guilty, but she was gone before I could say I’d just take the tin anyway. 

She returned in a few minutes. “There weren’t any more Hello Kitty toys. I just found this.” She extended a rather adorable purple, bewinged, single-horned, flowing-haired My Little Pony. 

I was torn. I recalled Sofia’s eager bouncing and exclamations of “Meow! Meow!” On the other hand, I couldn’t possibly reject this woman’s hard work to help make a little girl happy. She had had no obligation to try anywhere close to that hard; there was no way I could hand the toy back. I smiled, thanked her for her generous help, and returned to the table. 

I handed the toy to Sofia, pasting an enthusiastic smile onto my face. “Look! A PURPLE PONY!”

Her face fell. She pulled her hands back, shook her head sadly. “Meow?” She looked around, as if expecting a cat to materialize from empty air next to her. “Meow!”

I took a deep breath. I gritted my teeth. I drew on my deepest reserves of parenting strength. And then, my friends, I held up that pony in front of my toddler’s sad little face, and I said, in a voice imbued with the very richest sincerity I could muster, “This is a meow. Look! Meow!” I danced it toward her, making highly authentic cat sounds. 

The light returned to my little girl’s eyes. She squealed with delighted laughter, startling the nearby diners, and grabbed the purple pony with a triumphant crow of “Meow!” 

 From then on, we have referred to the pony as a meow. Even Niko, our literalist, was convinced to adapt the new terminology when he realized what was at stake. 

And I realized, once again, that judging other parents just isn’t kind. You really don’t know why they’re making the choices they’re making, why they’re in the situation you see. I still don’t get the humor in getting  kids to cry as you tell them that Jimmy Kimmel told you to eat all their Halloween candy, but I’m willing to accept that maybe even those parents aren’t actually terrible parents. We all make different choices, based on what our children (and we) need. And maybe what those parents needed after an exhausting Halloween was some side-splitting laughter at their children’s expense. I guess. (No, sorry, I still don’t get that one.)

 So next time I hear you lie to your child, I promise, I’ll try a little harder not to judge, as I remember the transformation from devastation to joy that I saw on my own daughter’s face when I told one tiny little lie myself two days ago. Meow.  

Kissing the Meow