Wednesday, April 08, 2009

ABC Wednesday---L Is For Lilo

ABC Wednesday is hosted by Mrs. Nesbitt's Place.

Near the end of January 2002, Garry and I took our annual trip to Walt Disney World. It was to be our last trip there as a couple. At that time we knew we were going to adopt a baby from China but had yet to formally start the paperwork.

During our visit to the then active animation studios we were treated to a brief presentation by one of the studio animators. He drew us a picture of "Stitch" one of the characters from their new movie "Lilo and Stitch" that was coming out that summer. It was interesting...Stitch was this blue alien...thing...that in one picture had four legs and looked like a dog if you kind of tilted your head and squinted...and in another picture looked like an alien with about 8 arms and antennae sprouting everywhere. We also saw headshots of the actors who were going to do the voices for the animated film. I was excited because I recognized Kevin McDonald, who voiced the character of Pleakley. Some of you may remember my total and complete obsession with the Kids In The Hall many years ago. No? Ok...moving on...

Never...never...NEVER could we have imagined the impact that this presentation would have on our lives. N-E-V-E-R.

By the end of 2002 we were completely immersed in the paper chase for Hope and had moved into our "real" house leaving behind our not so child friendly condo. The nesting instinct was pretty strong and we started buying Disney DVD's to have around once she arrived. (Notice I didn't mention that I love Disney movies...and cry at them...all of them...) The Disney Store had sent us an email saying that Lilo and Stitch was coming out on DVD and that we could pre-order it along with a mini stuffed Lilo and Stitch. I ordered them all and we had them before our first Christmas in our new home. We even have pictures of Lilo on our mantel at Christmas time.

From December of 2002 to January of 2004 I don't know how many times Garry and I watched Lilo and Stitch. I bonded with Lilo. Here was this strong, independent, creative kid...who looked like what I imagined my daughter would look like at age six. At one point Garry wanted to name Hope, Lilo. There were a lot of tears shed during each viewing of that DVD. Especially during the utterances of two different quotes. The first being, "O'hana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind...or forgotten." The second: "This is my family. I found it all on my own. It's small and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good." We bought a rather large stuffed Stitch toy and put it in Hope's crib.

Fast forward to January of 2004. We were leaving for China at the end of the month to bring Hope home. We had all of our suitcases in the middle of her nursery trying to decide what to take and what to leave home. Her little suitcase was busting at the seams. When I tried to get the stuffed polar bear in that her Daddy had purchased for her, it just wasn't happening. No room at the inn. The large Stitch was also a no go...he was bigger than the polar we figured it might scare her. Remembering the tiny Lilo and Stitch, I went to Hope's closet and pulled out the mini toys that came with the DVD...they fit perfectly!

All of the pictures taken of me while I was waiting at the hotel for Hope to arrive? I'm holding little Stitchie, as we had started calling him. While baby Hope was fascinated with Stitch, she was completely, madly, totally in love with Lilo. She bonded to that tiny doll as fiercely as she did to us. This shot was taken on our last night in Guangzhou. At one point she was laying in her crib, gurgling to Lilo, making her dance and playing peek-a-boo with her!

Little Itty Bitty Lilo, as she is now known, was Hope's VERY favorite toy. After we had been home a few months we found a slightly larger version of her at The Disney Store and bought two of them. One was for sleeping with, the other one was for playing with downstairs or taking with her in the car. I cleaned up Little Itty Bitty Lilo as best I could and put her in the box of China treasures that we pull out every year on the anniversary of Hope's Gotcha Day. So far, Hope is mildly interested in the clothes she wore, the bottle that was marked as hers from the CWI, her tiny shoes...but Little Itty Bitty Lilo? She can't wait to dig into that treasure box and hold her!

For Hope's first Halloween I made her a Lilo dress. I looked all over for a pattern and then thought, "Hello?" How much easier do you want it to be?" I bought a red women's t-shirt at Old Navy, cut out the leaves from muslin and bonded them to the t-shirt. The next picture was taken in October of 2004.

Not realizing how beloved that Lilo dress would become and how often she would want to wear it, I ended up having to make Lilo dress 2.0. This time I actually appliqued the leaves on.

Shortly after her second birthday Hope had her, well, one and only bout I can remember, with some type of stomach bug. She threw up all over...yes...Lilo. I was mortified. The kid KNEW the difference between "Upstairs Lilo" and "Downstairs Lilo" as they were...and still are called! Even though at that time they were identical she could smell them and tell you which one was which. After I cleaned Hope and her bedding up, I gave her Downstairs Lilo to nap with; threw Upstairs Lilo in the washer saying more prayers than you can imagine; then hit eBay looking for another one. I found a SAINT who had FIVE of the dolls that The Disney Store no longer carried or manufactured. I bought THREE of them and they are STILL tucked safely away in her closet upstairs because Upstairs Lilo cleaned up like a dream.

We didn't take our next trip to Walt Disney World until November of 2005. Hope was 2 1/2, we were expecting our referral for Claire in February of 2006 (we didn't get it until November of 2006)...we figured this would be something special for Hope before she had to share Mama and Daddy with a baby sister. This is a picture I snapped of Hopie on the airport shuttle...notice who is sitting beside her?

Once we made it safely to Orlando we started our quest to locate Lilo and/or Stitch. We were told you could find them most days at a certain spot at The Animal Kingdom. Did I mention we HAD to pack the Lilo dress too? ;) We finally ran into Stitch one day at that certain spot. It was almost our turn to talk to him when the woman who was there helping said to us, "I'll get your baby up here as soon as I possibly can. Right now I've got a Make-A-Wish child that wants to meet him." Please? Like we're going to make a fuss over THAT? Hope was perfectly content waiting and so were we. As if meeting Stitchie wasn't magic enough? After the Make-A-Wish girl left, the woman there turned to everyone in line and said, "Well folks! We thought that you weren't going to have a chance to meet Lilo today because she's in the parade over at the studios. But guess what? She's HERE!!!!" She took Hope over to Stitch and EVERYONE applauded. Dang it...I'm leaking again just remembering it. Hope gave him a GIANT hug...and the smile on her face was priceless. The woman asked if I had made the Lilo dress...when I said yes...she said, "You ROCK Mama!" Stitch took a LOT of time with Hopie...and then after we had taken several pictures he came over and gave me a huge kiss. If that would've been the only interaction we had with them it would've been more than we ever could've imagined! I can still see the tears in Garry's eyes...

A couple of days later we did some checking around and found out that BOTH Lilo and Stitch were to be in that spot at a certain hour. We RACED to The Animal Kingdom and sat on the bench under the tree with plenty of time to spare...and waited...and waited...and waited...until well after that certain hour. Garry asked some folks what was going on and was told that there had been a change in schedule and they would be an hour late. We stayed right there and were the first ones in line. When they saw her in that dress...again...more than we ever could've imagined. They held her...they patted her head...they hugged her...they played patty-cake with her...we ALL had our pictures taken with them. And when we were leaving? Lilo took Hope's face in her hands...and kissed her. In Hope's mind it was no big deal. Hey, it was Lilo...she's her best friend. In Mama and Daddy's mind? It was the sweetest, most precious thing that could've happened. More tears.

Several days later we were at the holiday parade at the studios. The Wicked Queen from Snow White walked up to Hope and said, "Do you like apples?" Garry said, "Tell her no honey." Then she said to Cruella DeVille, "Cruella! Did you know that Lilo had a little sister?" Moments later Aladdin and Jasmine rode by. Jasmine points at Hope and says, "Look Aladdin! It's Lilo!" It wasn't long before Lilo and Stitch's car appeared. The very INSTANT they spotted Hope on the curb? Well...look for yourself. What an awesome, AWESOME trip.

The love for all things Lilo and Stitch is still going strong. Hope has requested a Lilo and Stitch birthday cake for ALL of her birthdays except one. She still wants "Lilo toys" for Christmas...and she's asking for a Lilo lunchbox next year. I hope I can find one!

In January of 2007 our Lilo finally got her Stitch. And in October of 2007, Mama finally realized a long time dream of hers when it came time to go trick or treating. I had BOTH of my girls and they could dress up like Lilo and Stitch!

Below are Princess Lilo and Baby Stitchie!

Oh! And that Lilo dress? Well...using an idea that was originally in Life magazine...I've taken a picture of Hope in it every single year. I'm putting all of her Lilo dress pictures in chronological order in a Lilo and Stitch album. I'll do this every year until she's 16. You want to see just how quickly your child grows? Wow. Look at my big girl in her Lilo dress picture from last fall. And yeah...that's still Upstairs Lilo she's holding. She can't sleep without her...even though her one arm is only an arm in the loosest sense of the word...I've sewn and re-sewn and sewn some more.
So that's the story of how a little orphaned girl from Hawaii and her blue alien became a beloved part of this O'hana.

Hugs and blessings,


photowannabe said...

That was a wonderful story. Your China Treasures are beautiful and you are so blessed. I love the way Lilo and Stitch are part of your lives.

pictureeachday said...

YAY! This story made me happy. I have loved Lilo & Stitch since the first time I saw it in the theater.. my sister and I unknowingly got it for each other that Christmas :)

Good luck finding Hope her lunchbox! (How perfect would that have been today? A Lilo Lunchbox?)

Powell River Books said...

What a lovely story and memory for all of you. Great L contribution. I invite you to come see my 10,000 year old lake water. - Margy

ab said...

I Big Puffy Heart Love your Lilo dresses! Great ideas, and sounds nice and easy. I've been dying to make one for my little girl, but am [allergic] to sewing... teehee! I think I'll have to try your recipe!

Anonymous said...

i also love lilo^^


Thanks for the Lilo homemade dress ideal my Nuna will love it.

Mel said...

ab and Marguerite...thenk *you* for stopping by! I'm so glad you found something you can use. You know...this post gets a LOT of visitors around Halloween. ")

Anonymous said...

hi!! i was wondering where you got your daughter's lilo dress?? i really want one! =)

Mel said...

I made Hope's Lilo dresses...really easy. You can get basic instructions right above and below the picture of her on the surfboard. I just took a Lilo and Stitch book that we had at home, traced the leaf, then put it on the scanner and enlarged it until it was the size I wanted/needed for the size t-shirt I was working with. I hope this helps!

Aniet said...

Hi.. it's a lovely post.. I am also a big fan of stitch and those two quotes is my fave quotes too!
Pretty and cute daughters you have and cute lilo's dress :)

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