Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Dance

Naples Civitan Club Annual Valentine's Day Dance

There were red balloons tied to every table, festive garland stretched across the walls of the gymnasium and a DJ spinning Lady Gaga, Elvis Presley, and Chubby Checker from the center of the stage.

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"They look forward to this night all year," my friend tells me. "It's a really big deal."

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I can tell it's a really big deal. There are fancy dresses. Suit jackets and ties. A medley of cologne scents and silk flower boutonnières.

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We danced. Oh, did we dance.

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And I made note of so many things. How nobody cared about the things that didn't matter and everybody cared about the things that did. Like having fun, making people feel special, stopping to listen. Dancing.

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I cried because I was happy, I cried because I am still learning, I cried because my emotions can't contain that kind of awesome and yes, I cried because there were short moments when I felt sad, and it is important to me to let myself feel those moments when they come. They fuel the passion to be proactive. They fuel growth.

I danced with a young man who told me I was pretty. He held my hand and smiled. He was a good dancer. And when he dipped me at the end of the song, he didn't let me fall. I felt so much kindness from him and when I finally sat down after we danced, I cried because I knew that he felt we were different. And I wanted to tell him we really weren't.

There was pure love in the room. The kind that made me sit and watch and take it in.

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The amazing thing about feelings is that we possess the reins to our perspective. It is a powerful thing--more powerful than the fate of being differently abled itself--to steer our minds and actions toward where we want them to go. I cannot change the fact that sometimes life is hard, that minds don't always work like they are supposed to, that accidents happen, that bodies fail us, or that an extra chromosome happens to be present on my daughter's DNA.

What am I going to do about it? I'm going to rock it. I'm going to raise the roof.

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I'm going to find more ways to be kind and to teach my children to be kind, and I am going to ask others to help me do it. I'm going to fight for my kids equally, and I'm going to stop and take time to teach them to have fun. To never stop dancing and loving life, no matter what the rest of the world does around them.

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I urge you to find ways to get involved in your community's programs for differently abled adults. There are numerous programs, support groups and fundraisers for babies and children with special needs, but adult programs are often challenged in finding support. After being present last night, I want to help change this.

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And let me tell you something else. That extra chromosome? There are dance genes on it, I am sure of it.

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"That will be Nella," someone said, nodding to this beautiful girl on the dance floor. And it made me smile because this girl was vivacious, happy and, Lord have mercy, could she ever dance.

Someday I want THIS to happen in our community. Regardless of your religious views, it's an amazing video to watch.

We are all different, but we all deserve the same opportunities to be respected, to be treated kindly and fairly, and to party with the best of them. I was reminded of that last night, and I am so glad my friend invited me to come. It is a night that won't be forgotten.

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For more information on opportunities like this Valentine's dance, contact your local Civitan organization.

*****

Friday Photo Dump:

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Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12x12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am @etst (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you want to follow the feed.


*****

Introducing new sponsor, Melody Joy of Melody Joy 1983, a fun shop full of funky knits, paintings and hand made jewelry.

You may have noticed my favorite chunky bird's nest ring I've worn in several posts the last couple weeks. It's a fun conversation piece and a great way to show some mama pride.

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Freshwater pearls are carefully woven from your choice of silver or antique brass wire to make this ring, or you can choose it in necklace form.

Melody's shop is also stocked with paintings and a fine collection of beautiful handmade cowls and legwarmers.

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Tell me those cedar branch buttons aren't fabulous?

Melody is offering a generous discount. Use Code 2for2 for free shipping, and for the rest of the month, Melody will be donating 25% of her profits to continue Nella's 2 for 2 Fund.

All mama bird's nest necklaces and rings are buy two, get one free for the month of February as well.

One comment will be randomly chosen from this post to win a $75 gift certificate to Melody's shop.

*****

This was my favorite photo this week. It makes my heart hurt so good.

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441 comments:

1 – 200 of 441   Newer›   Newest»
Cate said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE throughout this post!!! Thank you!! What a shot that last pic!!!

Lauren@ "Happiness is..." said...

Beautiful... I have been to several dances just like that one and they are so much fun and teach you so much--in such a short amount of time. I love every picture and your words that go along with them! You're wonderful!

Natalia said...

My heart sorta just melted. How inspiring -- I wish there would be something around us like this! Our family really wants to adopt a child with DS... we're just waiting for the right one :)

Hope said...

Aweh, these pictures are so sweet! and that last one is absolutely precious!

Mark, Wendy, Dale and Rose said...

Oh yes, that last picture is one to blow up and put on the wall. Love it.

Hailey @ Me and My Boys said...

Beautiful.
And you definitely need to blow that last one up. So perfect.

Beth said...

the last picture of you & Nella is just gorgeous. bring me to tears because it is just too cute!! super sweet. (:

Lyndsey said...

I absolutely love your blog, Kelle. I think I've only commented once before, but I've been a lurker for a long time. I adore your perspectives on life, and they remind me to love my life. I have two disabled daughters (autism), and sometimes the weight of it is overwhelming. You help me to let go of some of that weight, and I appreciate it. Can't wait to read your book!

Team Lando said...

My heart is happy. And a little sad, but mostly happy.

About an hour ago, we saw my neighbor's brother. I adore him. He's in his 50s and has Down syndrome and never had any therapies or anything as a kid. He always takes time to stop and say hi to Ellie. He always seems to care about the things that SHOULD matter.

Gloria said...

I love your unicorn t-shirt!!!!! Please tell me where you got it!!
I also love the pic of you and Nella that you took in the mirror at ballet!

Emma said...

That sounds like such a fun party and everyone looks so happy. Am loving the last shot of you and Nella x

Katy Walker said...

This post made me cry big happy tears.

Sarah Nora said...

That pic makes my heart fill. The most sincere look in Nella's face. Looks like she is sending all of the joy in her soul to you telepathically. So beautiful.

Rachael said...

I love the honesty of your blogs, highlighting the beauty but also recognising the struggle. I wanted to do a link to your birth story and wondered if you would mind if I used one of your photos from that post when I do the link? Rx

http://sandersonsmithstory.blogspot.com/

Charissa said...

I can't help but smile when I see that picture of you and sweet Nella!
Btw, Shine is amazing. I was privileged to call Flatirons Community Church home when I lived in Colorado, and they truly reflect the heartbeat of Jesus!
Thanks for bringing joy to my day!

Kmarie said...

In honor of this incredibly beautiful post and link I posted a give away on my blog as incentive for my readers to click on this post. I feel this message is really important and I often try to get it across with my Asperger's posts or any posts on differences. I bawled in the video. Thanks for inspiring me today. I read the news and felt the ugly side of humanity then I read your post and felt the beauty. Thanks!!:) And it fit since I was writing about dancing..just because and then I found your post!:)

AllTheKingsBlessings said...

Oh my goodness. I love this. They rock. What an awesome thing to be a part of.

Lovely Love said...

okay i cried! because i know exactly what you were talking about through out this post :) im planning on unschooling my son. and im planning to spend a lot of time at events like this with him and plan on spending a lot of time at retirement homes as well. when i was a little girl in choir we would go to retirement homes to sing and hand out christmas cards and to talk with them. at 10 years old i understand the beauty and the magic in it and couldn't help but cry even then. those memories have stuck with me and they are fond ones. when i saw the picture of the young woman dancing i thought of Nella too!!!! and she is really really really beautiful that girl! it shines through even from the picture. and the girl in the vest waving hello? she's gorgeous too! i swear she resembles rachel mcadams! beautiful!!!! thank you for sharing this special moment with <3 i loved all the pictures and the one of you and nella at the end, you are very lucky to have captured such a special moment. oh oh oh alos in your friday photo dump there's a pic of nella running i think in her funky onesie? I LOVE ITTTTTT! okay im done lol have a great weekend!

Meg McGinn said...

Boyce Avenue's cover of Perfect came on as I was reading this post...seems like perfect timing. Love these photos.

Nathalie said...

The dance looks like it was a lot of fun. They have very similar activities like that one around my neighborhood, through the best buddies organization. Also, the picture with you and Nella is beautiful.

PS. Just found this blog and have fallen deeply in love :)

http://poised-pink.blogspot.com/

Paisley Seven said...

Ok I thought the same thing about that beautiful blonde. That's Nella, all grown up!

Victoria said...
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Brandy Jane Mabel said...

Love that video you linked to! Thanks so much for sharing this. Such an inspiration!

Sheila said...

Great post...you made me teary eyed....I will be stealing your terminology...."differently abled" adults.... as I spend some time letting those who are around me know that I NOTICE them and BELIEVE they are worth some of my time and attention. Thank you!

Victoria said...

one amazing photo of you and your sweet nella!!

my twin sister has CP and she goes to a weekly program callend ELA where adults with disabilities have fun, learn new things and volunteer in the community. always brings new perspective to my eyes when i go to family events there. humans are humans, no matter our dna or handicap.

have a great weekend!

Carolyn said...

You are so inspiring! Thank you once again for your honesty, your kindness and your lessons for all of us.

The Blandos said...

You always capture the sweetest moments! :)

Benay said...

Gorgeous post, as always. I have never really been a fan of valentine's day because I know that so many people often get left out. But if every valentine's day was as inclusive as
yours, it might turn into the best day of the year!

Meagan Kenney said...

Awesome post!

Heather said...

"I felt so much kindness from him and when I finally sat down after we danced, I cried because I knew that he felt we were different. And I wanted to tell him we really weren't."

This is where my heart broke. In a good ay, in a way that is pushing me to get out of my conmfort zone and reach out. I will be looking for my waysto be a part of this magic in my community. Thank you feels like a very small thing to say but please know I really really mean it.

Callie said...

Kelle, just wanted to let you know the civitan link doesn't seem to be working. Would love to see what opportunities there are to get involved.

Kristine said...

don't you just love when your kid pulls your face in for a kiss?!

Kelly B said...

My 18 year old daughter just attended one of these dances as an 'escort.' I have never been ao proud of her, and we both cried reading this post. So many ways to share kindness and love!

motherhoodandotheradventures said...

Love this post! We don't know yet what my son's chromosome change will mean for him, but if it turns out he will always need a little extra help, it's stuff like this that gives me hope. Different doesn't mean bad, it just means different. Thanks again for the reminder!

The Lourceys said...

That is such a sweet picture of you and Nella.

Kayla said...

LOVE that little girl in the red shirt, that so will be Nella one day. So full of life. I love how you celebrate every moment, to its fullest. Even if for no reason, cause they deserve it ;) you are such an inspiration.

Alisha said...

What a beautiful post! I too wish there were more opportunities like this out there for my girl as she grows.... only nags at me that I might have to be the one to pioneer it. Thank you for sharing!

Life is good! said...

I work with the special needs adults in my church every Thursday night. Dancing, singing, magic shows, sometimes just a lesson about Jesus.
No one is ever judged. No one cares if I wear makeup or not. God bless em. Then every Saturday morning I get about 12 of the ones in my near bye neighborhood and they bowl. and they laugh, and they bowl another game and I have to tell them to quit laughing so much cause I have to get home and do some Saturday stuff. I am a lucky mother of a special needs 21 yr. old. And I thank God for her.
Love, love love your blog! Can't wait for your book!

Cait said...

New to your blog, but in love already - your words, your girls, you're so blessed. Thank you for sharing them with the world.

joeltrista said...

I just want to say "THANK YOU" for this post. There are so many people that forget about thier brother/sister/relative that have developmental disabilities once they have been put into a group home. My uncle was developmentally disabled and was one of the lucky ones, whose family went to get him for every holiday, visited on the weekends and throughout the week, etc. It was amazing how a quick hug, or better yet, taking ice cream to some of the other guys in the home could make their whole week better. In my community, there is currently a developmental center that is going to be shut down in a few months because of state budget constraints, and it pains me to think of what is going to happen to all the wonderful people who will be without a home. Again, Thank you for this post!

melissa said...

Oh my goodness...when you posted the first pic of the blond girl, I was like, she looks like Nella. Then, a few pics later you mentioned that someone told you that would be Nella one day! -Cute and cute go together!

Jennifer from NJ said...

Last picture totally melted my heart. Your post today and the video shine have inspired me to seek out an oppurtunity to help out with a local organization to make a night special.

Erin said...

The Shine video is amazing. Thank you for sharing!

Shelley said...

Thank you for a wonderful post. I know EXACTLY what you mean. Last Dec was my daughters first concert with Dancing Hearts. Dancing Hearts has two dance classes - one for children with disability 5-11 and the other for adults. The concert combined them and indeed the adults and the kids shared the stage for the finale. It was awesome, and I cried and laughed - the love in that room from the dancers but especially from their families who were so proud and happy was awesome and the dancing was fantastic! This year my daughter is so excited cos she knows how much fun the end of year concert is going to be - and so is her 'typical' twin brother cos he has joined the class too...I hope one day he will lead others into engaging with some of the very special people he has met because his sister happens to have an extra chromosome. Hope next week is as great for you Kelle

chellekjones said...

Lady, that is one.amazing.photo <3

Brooke said...

That last picture is so awesome. You catch the best moments!

mandie lane said...

God, what are you trying to do, RUIN MY MAKEUP?

Beautiful post. As per usual.

Amy Cappelli said...

Wow! Such joy. Such love. My heart feels like it might burst. I needed to see something uplifting today. I needed a reminder to get over myself and dance with humankind, with human kindness. Thank you.

jolie said...

Yes...that last photo is wonderful...brought tears to my eyes! Love the love you have for everyone! You are a blessing to so many...I'm sure more than you will ever know! Hugs!

laurenperlin said...

That final picture is so beautiful! You can see the love :)

Stephanie said...

What a great post. I am looking at similar opportunities in my community right now.

Lisa Johnson said...

Those pictures show what true/deep beauty is. Thank you so much for sharing.

jacq said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now and often get tears at your words and photos.

But this post? Oh my how I'm still blubbering looking at those photos. I used to work with adults just like these in your photos. Now I work with kids. And since the very beginning I have been reminded how much I need to step back and just love living the way my clients do. I envy how free and uninhibited they are - you've captured that beautifully in your photos.

scgrits said...

I think back to reading Nella's birth story and the agony you first felt about having an unexpected challenge in your life. I hope you see how lucky you are. If Nella has been born the way you expected, you might not have experienced love and beauty quite as pure as you see it now.

First Time DIY said...

My mom has been having a hard February, I would love to to get her one of those gorgeous nest rings.

Erin said...

Before I could even get to the end of this post, I was reflecting on a life changing experience that I had in October. I volunteered at my church, Southeast Christian in Louisville, Ky, at Shine, to assist in hair and make up. I met the most beautiful people and I had the time of my life. Thank you for such beautiful posts...

Jill said...

Beautiful. Beautiful words, beautiful pictures, beautiful love. Thank you.

Shannon said...

My sister goes to dances like this all the time. I'm so thankful that she lives in a community that is so supportive of people like her. The amount of dancing that happens...wow. I'm exhausted by the end of the night just watching them. And I absolutely agree...that extra 21st is 95% dance moves.

mchar said...

That shine video is the best thing I have watched in a very long time. I want my kids to understand and believe in this genuine kindness. The young organizers of this event blow my mind. Thanks for sharing, its very motivating on more then one level.

Bless by Tone said...

that's my favorite photo also - now I'll go back and watch the video

Donovan Doins said...

Oh those pictures just make my heart beat in sweetness!

Christie said...

Thank you for sharing such beautiful moments! Love the last pic of you and Nella.....Nothing but LOVE :)

BLOOM - Parenting Kids With Disabilities said...

I LOVE, LOVE LOVE that you went to this dance and that you shared this experience with all of us. It means so much! xo

ellie said...

The Shine video made me cry.

I am a Christian. Since becoming disabled (due to a brain tumor), my children and I have learned that our local parish was ... Not prepared, shall we say. It's been hard. We have forged a new path, in a new parish. God is good.

I love how you write, I love how unafraid you are to grow. We need more peopole like you Kelle.

Peace
Ellie

Tara and Nick said...

Well I was going to post a comment on how your words mixed with your pictures have this wonderful dance between them that make me smile while crying. Its a gift, for that I am sure. Then you post that last photo and all I am is a puddle. What people find here is inspiration and hope and for that, I will forever be grateful.

Kate J said...

Your pictures and the Shine video made me cry, too. At the annual conference for my daughter's (rare) disability, the concluding banquet and dance is the most joy-filled highlight. A generation ago, these kids would not have survived infancy or childhood, so I'm thinking that there will be more adult opportunities and events out there, when our girls grow up. Hoping and working toward that goal!

G said...

I am pretty sure all my makup has run down my face from all the happy tears this post made me cry. My co-workers 30 year old daughter attends these dances several times a year and they mean so much to her.

Natalie Burke said...

I love your blog! It's a bright spot in my day. I also love the last photo of you & Nella. So cute!!

Little For A Little While said...

There is a dance like that every year in our small little community. It is adorable! Your pictures and the ever present happiness make me smile.

Plus one Wee Bean said...

You teach us ways of equality with every post Kelle!
Thank you for today's lesson.

Linda said...

Love this post and seeing what others are doing for persons with special needs. I teach preschoolers with special needs during the work week and a class for adults with special needs at church. Last weekend we had a Valentine party at my house that was a blast!! http://mommystreasures.blogspot.com/2012/02/valentine-party-fun.html
We really are all more alike than we are different!!

Kelsey said...

What a great picture that last one is. No doubt Nella and Lainey will be happy adults; they've got a good role model in their mamma.

Gina said...

What a beautiful post. And great pics as usual. :-)

Kathleen said...

Pulling at my heart strings today. Beautiful post. The pictures tell a nice story of the dance. I feel like I'm there right now! Happy weekend.

AnnV-R said...

Tears. Smiles. Tears. Laughter. Tears. Awe! You are amazing!

Trini said...

I love the pictures of the dancers!!! :)) Made me smile.

CurlyQ said...

Thank you Kelle for bringing attention the adults with different abilities.

Nicole said...
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Danyiel said...

So much fun being had at that dance, it just oozes out of the pictures. No wall flowers there and I just treasure that there is not one person in one picture that is eyeing anyone up as is the case at a lot of dances. I wish there was a video to see all the dancing. Glad that you got to go and shake your groove thing.

The final photo is precious, the way that Nella is so gently caressing your face. Momma daughter love it's a wonderful thing.

Nicole said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time but have never commented. But I had to say that the last photo of you and Nella literally made me cry. The emotion is so incredibly beautiful, the love between you two, it took my breath away.

Sky said...

Now THAT looks like a fun dance :-)

Boo's Mom said...

The first time I met a person with Down Syndrome I was 15 years old and volunteering at a summer program at the San Diego Zoo. A group of students with DS attended the program. One of them was named Joe and he told me he liked the way I smelled. I've never forgotten the cologne (Muguet des Bois), the compliment or Joe.

lori said...

i used to help with the partners club in high school and we always had a dance for valentines day... i definitely think you're right about the dancing gene ;)

this post is fabulous. so much love and joy...

that last picture is perfect.

MommaExpat said...

When I read your entries I always cry. Typically it's over a mom post, reminding me why I cherish every.single.moment with my son. But posts like these, these remind me why I was blessed to work with children with special needs, not special needs children. Everyday was a gift... thank you for reminding me why I chose what I did, and for missing what I have left behind. Your soul is beautiful.

Shauna said...

wish I could have been there! We have a young man in our church with Ds who lives to sing in the choir and help with communion and any other thing he can find to do there. I have always smiled every Sunday morning watching him sing with such joy. The Sunday after my Reagan was born I still smiled through my tears because I could see them standing up there together someday. And he loves her too!

dressesandmesses said...

Beautiful post. The joy that radiates from the faces... especially that spunky girl! Love her!

Rebekah said...

You can just see the love in that room. I want to be there so bad. It's beautiful. And I love your comment about how they care about things that matter, and don't care about the things that don't. It's so true.

Sam said...

What a wonderful post. And that girl is so beautiful, what a cool glimpse of a future Nella.

Janet said...

Thanks for sharing such a touching story. wow.

melissa said...

The gentleman in the red coat is awesome! Love him!

Great post

aaflood said...

Laughter & tears this whole post through. & That last pic is AMAZING!! BTW-- I'm going right NOW to get one of those bird nests for my MIL...she will LOVE it!

Lisa said...

Dance gene. YES!!
We are currently doing a birthday party. There is one girl here, maybe 13, who has Down Syndrome. She is boogey-ing her butt off! She has not stopped dancing all night b

Kimberly said...

I love that last picture too! You post was heartwarming!

Kimmy said...

I love this post!!! I worked with adults with special needs for 9 years and you are so right, there is just not enough programs or help for the adults. When people turn 21, it is amazing how the help goes away. The dance was beautiful. The picture of you and Nella is amazing. Your love for each other shines through loud and clear in that picture. The look on her face is beautiful. As usual, love your post. I am so excited to read your book, I already pre-ordered it.
~Kimmy

Just Trying Not to Blink .... said...

That last photo? Cutest one ever!

teal915 said...

This is my favorite post I've read lately! I am seriously bawling. Thanks for posting it :)

Katie S said...

I was thinking the same thing! Future Nella breaking it down on the dance floor :)

caitlin weaver said...

Beautiful post Kelle. It brought tears to my eyes, but in the best of ways :) Thank you.

Bonnie@TheFragileXFiles said...

I could not agree with you more! I'm enrolled in a govt. training program called Partners on Policymaking that is teaching us all about making life wonderful for the differently abled. I know they have them in FL, you should look into it!

The Skinny on Getting Thinny said...

What a wonderful opportunity. As a Speech Therapist, I work with many children who are differently-abled and I am always touched by these stories. I am just in awe of the love! I hope many people read this post and are inspired to do something like this! What a difference it makes to these angels!

kelly said...

that was beautful!

We Can Do All Things said...

Beautiful! Thank you for posting this.

vermonter said...

Oh Kelle, These pictures are amazing. They all look like they were having such a great time. I could not believe when I continued to read down your blog that I thought the same as you said that the young girl in the red outfit could be Nella in a few years. I thought the same thing she was so cute and blonde and was dressed just like I could picture Nella being dressed for her Special Dance Party.. SO cute . WHata awesome post. Thank you for making my day.

Jones Family said...

Thank you for not only trying to change the world for your Nella, but for all of Nella's friends and our friends too. You inspire me.

Melody said...

That Shine video brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could be part of something like that!!

Last night my husband and I were at Disneyland for our date night, and we were listening to a band that was playing tons of rock music. Up walked this young man with that beautiful extra chromosome and he didn't waste any time- he started to get down. He had the best time and you're right about that dance gene!! He was so much fun to watch and he didn't have a care in the world. He didn't care who was watching him, he just danced with all he had in him. So inspiring. Why do I care who's watching me?

Natalie said...

What a great reminder that these adult programs need help too. I love your comment that you are still learning. Aren't we all? And I hope we always are.

Consider The Lilies said...

beautiful. that church's video was amazing and put a lump in my throat no doubt. this post makes me want to get involved somehow. i have so much to learn from these beautiful souls.

:)

Carrie said...

Oh my goodness, I was thinking that same thing...that the adorable gal in the orange top, dancing up a storm will totally be Nella! You can feel it through the pictures...Nella's going to be a firecracker just like her.
I loved this post...it made me smile, gave me goosies and a lump in my throat all at once. Life is hard, but they are forgetting about all of that for one night, and just living. I love it.

TBLB Edmundson said...

What a night.. Wish I could have been there. I wasn't but still cried because I know how much fun you had. What a blessing that you were able to go. I am glad...xoxo

Laura W. said...

Your words are inspiring and your blog is one that I read daily!
Thanks - Laura

jenniwaka said...

oh, that picture is beyond adorable!

Lisa E said...

Thank you for sharing and reminding me that some things just don't matter, and some things do!
The genuine smiles and enjoyment on the faces - wow. I am going to find that today - I'm going to give a genuine smile and then i am going to dance with no inhibitions!
Thank you again - :)

Erin said...

LOVE that picture! I am a nurse and take care of people with all different kinds of special needs, and I can tell ya that they are the most loving angels on earth.

Katie (Mama May I) said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. Makes me want to do more. Thank you.

emily russell photography said...

Been following you since Nella's birth. You're still rockin it out!

Nancy K. said...

I love your ability to feel the sadness, recognize it and then move on to rejoice in all that is good.

Your children are truly blessed.

icanbeurbestbet said...

I just started reading your blog. Don't remember how I found it but I started with Nella's birth.

I must say you are such an inspiration. The way you have grown and learned, how you are honest about being sad about her have Down's Syndrome is truly amazing. You have accepted her wholeheartedly and she (both of your girls) are beautiful.

I'm honored that you share your life with us. I hope I learn a lot from you.

Kristin said...

What a beautiful post. I need to go back through to watch the video. My aunt has Down's Syndrome and is one of the sweetest, most beautiful people I know. She is full of love and joy.

The bird's nest necklace is so pretty. Thank you (and Melody) for the chance to win.

Jerianne said...

I to have a special place in my heart for differently disabled adults(my niece turned 18 last fall) and support from the community is so important. I Love the picture of you and Nella. It is truly priceless.

Pamela said...

The link to the shine video. Is this Church in Colorado? If so it is so close to where I live and I think this would be so awesome to be a part of! What an amazing event you can just see the love and happiness radiating off all of their beautiful faces!

Emily said...

My heart is so happy. Thank you for shining your little light on the "big kids" who need to be loved and respected and treated with kindness ... just like all of us.

CountryMouse said...

I agree whole heartedly, that extra chromosome does have a dance gene attached. I know my brother sure loves to get down and groove.

CountryMouse said...

I agree whole heartedly, that extra chromosome does have a dance gene attached. I know my brother sure loves to get down and groove.

Leslie said...

Beautiful post! Excellent sponsor shop too :)

cathy said...

You have so much more work to do & you will do it beautifully

xoxo
cathy

Dara said...

Beautiful, all of it.

colby, meredith, caden, & carter said...

God knew what he was doing blessing Nella with you as her mommy. You are beautiful inside and out; you inspire me to be a better person and mommy.

amber said...

Man I love your blog. It's always absolutely what I need to see and hear at the perfect moment . You inspire me.

D's Mom said...

What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

So inspiring and beautiful, all of it! Thanks for sharing, always. :)

Sherry F said...

Thank you for sharing the photos of the amazing dance. I am sure Nella will one day be out there smiling and dancing her feet off like that beautiful young girl. The last photo of the two of you is wonderful. I hope Brett framed it for his desk ;)

Michelle said...

That was beautiful... and such a good reminder to remember not just the children with special needs, but the adults they grow up to be as well. ps. that last picture was also my favourite this week. LOVE!

Mel said...

That dance looked totally rad. What a great way to spend an evening! :)

HollyMarie said...

I loved all your dance pics... in college I went to several of these dances as a member of my university's different abilities volunteer group. Since my little sister was born with that special extra chromosome... I feel blessed to know this world in ways that others do not.

If These Walls Spoke... said...

such a great post! Love that pic at the end, gorgeous!

brittany said...

that last photo is absolutely precious!!

Shannon said...

Were are all these people? I feel like pre-Fiona, I never noticed anyone around here with Down syndrome. I just want to shake my old self and say "get your head out of the selfish hole you keep it in!" The last picture is breathtaking- a treasured one for sure. Im totally in in helping putting together a Shine event around here :)

No No Nanette said...

Thanks for sharing your life with us, Kelle.

It is so very beautiful.

onlyveggies said...

Thank you for making me aware of the volunteer options. Triple love these dance pics. Make me smile:)

dldhome said...

Oh that Nella is so darn sweet! Love!

chambanachik said...

I think these are some of the best pictures you've ever posted. They make my heart smile.

Kylie and crew. said...

I help with a special art groups for disabled adults in our community. My aunt sings in the choir....the make your eyes water and heart swell up in pride when she sings a solo type singing. It's one of the coolest things in our community! I love that you are encouraging people to get involved! You are helping to facilitate such change! I admire you.

Sandy said...

that last picture of nella, oh my, no wonder your heart hurts. and with parents who love her and who will teach her to dance through life, how can she not be like that gorgeous girl dancing happily?

Jane said...

Love the photo at the end - a framer for sure!

Tina said...

Oh, this post makes my heart swell with happiness. How amazing, Kelle. Thank you for opening me up to a world I always knew existed, but I never realized how much it is the same... I was too focused on how it was different. You are remarkable.

Abby said...

How fun! I had the privilege of working as a teacher assistant with teenagers with special needs one year at our high school. I can tell you that I only assisted, they taught. I cherish the memories and photos from our prom...what a blast!

Great captures of a fantastic party!

Lacey Madden said...

I loved this post! And I really want a birds nest ring! So sweet and cute!

Lacey Madden from Madden Happy
www.laceymadden.blogspot.com

Shannon said...

"I love my house, I love my nest. In all the world, my nest is best." Love your ring! Gonna get one for myself and my 2 "mama bird" sisters. Thanks for sharing!

Jen said...

This post makes me so so happy. What a beautiful event.

Shaams said...

Love everything about this post! Those buttons are beyond fabulous!!

kelly tucker said...

Oh how this post put a smile on my face and put everything in my life back into perspective! What an amazing event...the pictures and the dancing make my heart smile :-)

Ali @ domesticdevotion.com said...

You are so freaking awesome it hurts!

Courtney said...

That party looked like so much fun! You are are always an inspiration and a motivation for me. Thank you!

Carrie said...

You're so right - that last picture is perfection! I have been to dances like that before with my autistic friend. They are so fabulous. And the dancing? Oh my.

Valerie said...

We have dances like these in our community. When my husband and I go, we feel like WE are the disabled because of our inhibitions. They are FREE!! And I ALWAYS cry too!

Stacey said...

Your post was amazing...your words to describe it were beautiful and it made me cry. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful experience.

Kelly said...

I love LOVE and that dance was full of it. Your pictures touch hearts, you are so able to capture all the precious going on!

Taylor said...

I love this post- so sweet and that pic of you and nella is awesome- I love when my two year cups my face its so sweet- its easy to see that nella thinks you hung the moon, she knows you are her biggest fan!

Maggie said...

LOVE THIS POST!!! AND THE LAST PIC!!!!

Jen said...

This made me cry. Seriously, it is amazingly beautiful, the way you capture the love at this party. I love it :)

Heather said...

I wish every single person could read this post, it is EXAXTLY what I want the world to know about my child as well! Beautifully written, thank you SO MUCH for your inspiration, kindness, and momentum to make this world a more beautiful place for every individual!

Wenona said...

Such a beautiful dance! You can totally see the love and fun presented through your photos.
And that ring is gorgeous!! I'd love one for my little "birds" :)

Sarah said...

Beautiful! You are inspiring. . .we each can make a difference in our world. "For YOU created my inmost being. . ."

Rach said...

Beautiful post as always.
Girl with the blonde hair is a beauty!
Love the last photo too.

Unknown said...

Love your blog! Your little girls are adorable. I too have two toddler girls. Gorgeous ring!

Carrie said...

You're right about the dancing gene! The Kansas City Down Syndrome Guild Prom is my brother's favorite day of the YEAR...every year. And I sneak in, like a super spy sister, every year to watch his moves from afar. Man, he can dance. It makes my heart sing!

aimee jones said...

Your favorite photo is pure love. That is an amazing capture!!

Summit of Glory said...

Such a sweet post. I agree that sometimes we need to be uncomfortable w our feelings about our children's futures. That's where the mind-stretching begins. Thanks for sharing this w us all. xoxo

Melissa @ A Dozen Years Later said...

I am amazed by you more and more. I love your honesty and your passion for your sweet and beautiful girls.

Kuteog said...

I love the photos of the dance... a very special night indeed. And have to agree with you on the photo of the week, Nella is adorable.

Jessica Martin said...

That last photo just made me weep. Oh the love in that picture.

Claire Imsen said...

Kelle,

I cried during this entire video. Not just a few drops in each corner- I mean streaming tears. I have been reading your blog since my daughter, Elina, was born in July. Your bright rays of hope traveled all the way from Florida into my heart at a very dark and unstable time. Now I cannot imagine a more beautiful life for myself. Thank you.

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh! I love the dance. Tears are streaming down my face at the beauty. I am so thankful for their dance! What a time it must have been. I love the smiles. I love that you danced.

Dylan'sMommy316 said...

The last picture of you and Nella melts my heart. You can feel the love in that pic!

Also that girl dancing-beautiful!

Karinny said...

Love this post and love your last picture!

Lace Escapades said...

Absolutely beautiful! One of my best friends has a young sister with DS, and she's been working hard lately to include her in more activities like this dance, and they invited me to tag along to the next one. I'm so excited to be a part of it and to shake my booty with everyone! ;)

Christie Clair said...

OMG...Kelle Hampton, that video filled my heart and eyes to overflowing with joy! I say, yes to that! YES YES YES!

Bea, OT said...

The last photo made my heart hurt so good too! That beautiful girl made me think of Nella too! thank you for posting such beautiful and heartwarming words. I needed it!

KendraJane said...

I love this! I love it, I love it, I love it! I actually couldn't even finish reading it before I jumped to the end and hit "Comment" so I could tell you how much I love it. :)

Molly said...

One of the best parties I've ever been to was at Pathfinder Village, a community in Cooperstown NY for adults with down syndrome. They have a concert and live band every saturday night during the summers... it is the BEST party around.

Bobbie said...

Me!! Me!!! Please!

The Schlich Family said...

I so understand your feelings...I have the same ones. The joy of the little one you have right now, and the excitement for her triumphs. But, there is still the fear and the unknown of the future with Ds. I see many adults with Ds and it warms my heart, but I also see others that bring the sadness. I have to remind myself that the same is true for my other daughter, as for Lainey as well...we don't know what the future holds for them anymore than for our little ones. The girl in the photo at the dance was beautiful, can't wait to see my little blondie all grown up (1 yr in 3 more months).

Debbie D. said...

Favorite photo of the week... love how Nella is caressing your face!
This was a wonderful post!

P. said...

What a great event. And I LOVED that last photo the first time you posted it and I still love it. What a great shot of a mom and her girl. And I really might have to take advantage of that sale. I Love those rings.

Bri!!! said...

Loved this, and ADORE that last picture!

racheld said...

LOVE shining in every picture!! I've smiled through every second of reading and looking.

When we lived in the South, I used to participate a lot in the Special Olympics events, and would hope that a dance floor would still have room for a Granny lady who hasn't seen her waistline since 1986, has eight GRANDS and a GREAT, and can still CUT A RUG!

rachel, Champeen Finish-Line Hugger

Kristey said...

Lovely post as always Kelle. I had to comment to say that I went to high school with the guy in the pink shirt that the future Nella was dancing with!

Moonstonemama said...

That Shine video rocked my socks! Such an awesome idea.

Jenny said...

What a beautiful dance! I work with these amazing children but don't remember to think about where they will be as adults. If they look as happy as these party animals that would make my day!

Tiff and Seth said...

I LOVED the video and it brought back MANY, MANY memories of my summers at Camp ASCCA (Alabama's Special Camp for Children and Adults). I began working at ASCCA the summer of 1999, I was 14 years old- I did not want to go work, but after being urged by my parents to just try it, for one week, I feel.IN.LOVE! I continued to work for 7 more summers and often go back to visit. We hold a prom every summer for Teen Week and the campers get all dressed up, the lunch room is tranformed and the campers and counselors dance the night away.

I met many different people while working at ASCCA, one of who is now my husband, I also had one of my former campers in my wedding because we became so close throughout the summers. It is definitely an experience that I will NEVER forget and it even shaped my career, I am now a special education teacher and I make sure that at least one of my students every year gets to attend this wonderful place.

Go google it- Camp ASCCA- to learn more! It's a wonderful location and I think everyone needs the chance to experience it!!

*I would also LOVE the gift card! ;)

Rhonda said...

Yup, it's love

The Goofy Goobers said...

I wish I was good with words but the only word that sums up the thoughts in my head is BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for beautiful words.

Sara said...

What a wonderful dance party!! Thanks for sharing.

Sarah said...

This is beautiful! I used to work at a bank and my fav client worked across the street as a bagger at Kroger and he had that special extra chromosome. We always had the radio on and he would dance the entire time i waited on him. He made my day!

Rachel said...

LOVED the dance, made me cry. I totally believe the extra chromosome makes you dance more too!! I also love Melody's stuff she is friends with a friend of mine here in SC, she is really excited to be a sponsor!

Katherines Corner said...

Kellie,every week I come here and spend time reading your weeks posts. Drawn in by the beautiful images and the generous sharing of your life, and your little angels. Sometimes I cry ( usually happy tears) today is one of those days. This dance is wonderful. The love, the love, it is everywhere. In your words, in those beautiful faces, in every photograph. Hugs ♥

Candice said...

Thank you for raising awareness for differently abled adults. I wonder what will happen when our babies grow up. They still need support and love.

That last photo is priceless!!! I wish I had someone around to take photos like that for me. It is true love! It must go on a wall somewhere!!

MyCastleIsFull said...

I love to come here and read about your life and how the girls are doing. After a day like today, the blog really saved my sanity. My son, who is autistic, was also just diagnosed with epilepsy. Even though I know it can be managed, I still had to take a moment to, yet again, grieve for him and me. Your blog helps me cope in so many ways and I just wanted to let you know. Thanks.

sarah said...

what a beautiful evening celebrated. be kind :)

Bret&Amberly said...

What a lovely post, just made me smile.

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