Wednesday, March 21, 2012

3-21, 2012

Tonight we gathered under periwinkle skies for a beach sunset to honor 3-21. On the twenty-first day of the third month, we celebrate three copies of the twenty-first chromosome along with thousands of other families across the globe who share our journey. We were joined by many others who came to celebrate, lying blankets that overlapped other blankets on the sand like giant circles in a Venn Diagram so that somewhere in the middle there was common ground--a place that united us all, regardless of our differences.

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We passed shovels to babies who scraped sand and filled buckets. We exchanged stories of where we grew up. We watched as both big kids and little kids chased seagulls and braved the still-chilly water of the gulf.

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Unlike two years ago when we spent this same evening on the beach, there was no ceremony tonight--no tears, no prayer, no speech. The meaning of this day was fully present in the unspoken.

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I've been thinking about this post all day--how I want to represent awareness today, what I want readers to understand. I could give you a lot of facts and figures. I could talk about important major headlines in the news right now like prenatal testing and abortion politics. I could tell you about inclusion and its importance in the education of all children. These are all critical topics--things I read about, things I care about, some of which I'm still figuring out.

But what I express best is what's on my mind right now.

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Right now, I am thinking that Down syndrome is the best thing that ever happened to our family.

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It is amazing what can happen when you open your eyes to the world around you. It is amazing to be afraid--to feel it, to acknowledge it, to face it head on. And oh, Good Lord, is it ever amazing to be transformed by love in a way that awakens parts of you that needed to come alive.

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I think about a lot more now--what kind of person I want to be, how challenges make us grow, how the world is changing, how we need to be reminded that we cannot control everything and if we could, how predictable and flat our world would be. I am so much more aware of beauty. Of people. Of unique differences that make our world rich and interesting.

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I want to be a great mom. I want to be strong and amazing. I want my children to be strong and amazing. I think we're headed in the right direction, and Down syndrome is teaching us a lot about that path.

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A few months ago, out of the blue, Brett asked me "Hey babe, will Nella be smart?"

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These questions always catch me off guard. Brett's so very go-with-the-flow and doesn't really have a lot to say about Down syndrome. He's always said "Let her show us who she is" and he's pretty unphased by any information I present. Between the two of us, I'm definitely more the research girl. He says Nella's a better teacher than books, and he's right. But I wanted to address the situation appropriately.

He must have sensed my confusion as he quickly followed with, "I'm totally okay if she isn't smart. I just want to know...could she be smart?"

I formulated my response thoughtfully. "Babe, I will never say what the future holds because I will never put limits on my child. I think she's brilliant, but she might not be able to show it quite like Lainey does." Feeling the need to maybe soften the blow or prepare him a little more, I continued. "Adults with Down syndrome generally have a child-like mentality, Brett. You know that, right?"

He stopped and thought for a moment. "You mean, when she's older, it will be like we still have a kid, right?"

I braced myself for sorrow. "Well, kind of," I answered.

And I waited.

He raised his head and his eyes met mine. He was beaming, smiling, excited.

And, with tears, he finally said, "That is so awesome."

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*****

Tonight I am grateful for what we are learning. I am inspired by the way challenges are shaping us. I am fueled by any remaining fear and sadness. I am motivated to see people for who they are inside--for what they have to offer rather than what they are lacking or how they are different. I hope you are learning this with me.

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In explaining to Lainey our celebration tonight, I expounded on the deeper meaning of today. "Remember how Nella has Down syndrome?" I asked. She repeated the term "Down syndrome" and quickly connected it to our Buddy Walk last year and Nella's therapy visits. We went on to talk about a lot of other things that make people beautiful and unique as well. "We're all different in a lot of ways but we all like a lot of the same things too," I reminded her. I then initiated a list of all the things that make us unique and awesome. "Some kids have wheelchairs, some kids have blond hair, some kids run fast, some kids run slow, some kids have brown skin, some kids have blue eyes, some kids know how to read, some kids don't, some kids talk differently, some kids are short, some kids are tall..." and when I came to the part where "some kids have Down syndrome," Lainey smiled and took ever.

"Just like some kids wear green shirts and some kids wear blue shirts, right Mama?" she asked.

My eyes pooled with tears and I hugged her. "You're right, baby." I answered.

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Thank you again for coming here.

Yes, there are more challenges. But tonight, what do I want you to be aware of? Well, I hope you see it like my wise 4-year-old daughter.

The world is rich with unique differences. Some people wear blue shirts. Some people wear green shirts.

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Happy World Down Syndrome Awareness Day.

To learn more about Down syndrome and the many accomplishments of individuals with Down syndrome please visit ndss.org.

If you are pregnant and have a new diagnosis or you know someone close to you who is expecting a child with Down syndrome, visit
downsyndromepregnancy.org for a wealth of helpful and assuring information.

384 comments:

1 – 200 of 384   Newer›   Newest»
Lifesong... said...

Beautiful...

abbie said...

Absolutely beautiful, Kelle. Thank you for your words!

Kelly said...

Fantastic post! What a celebration :) P.S. my 18-mo-old has those same boots and it made me smile to see Nella rocking them!

Kylie Louis said...

Wow! you truly have changed my views on all of this!

Stacey said...

Down syndrome is the best thing that ever has happened to us as well. Where there is fear, replace it with knowledge, where there are differences, replace it with acceptance. Today was a happy day.

karagiselle♥ said...

Loved this post. I teared. :)

Ashley said...

beautiful. I think every parent should think like you, in not putting limits on what they can achieve!

And I ADORE the picture of Nella reading her book!!!! LOVE IT

Kristin said...

Amen to that! Down syndrome was the best thing that has happened to our family, too!

Lindsay said...

And to you! I have learned so much from all of you, thank you!!! I love the photos of Nella with her crazy Pippi braids... So adorable.

The Cruce Family said...

This was perfect. That's all. :)

Happy 3/21!

Denise said...

Your post left me teary - you are sooo right!! We celebrated down syndrome day yesterday with my youngest brother at his school. He is 12 this year and down syndrome is the best thing that happened to me, my parents and all my other brothers and sisters. We are so blessed through him!!

Happiness is... said...

You got it babe. I think it was the best thing that ever happened to your family and I think you might be one of the best things that ever came to NDSS. You are creating such awareness. I think I was always afraid before of the what if, of the diagnosis. And your family has helped open my eyes. The "dis" has dropped from the word and I only see the ability. Thank you so much for sharing. God had a plan and knew you had the heart and the strength.

Happy 3.21.

:) Jennifer

Tess said...

I love how simple it is to Lainey, and you should be very proud that you have taught her its okay to wear blue shirts.

Missy said...

I love your comment that you think Down Syndrome is the best thing that happened to your family. I feel exactly the same way about Cerebral Palsy.
I have had such an amazing, eye opening and incredible journey. I am a better, more passionate, more tolerant and understanding person. My daughters inspire me on a daily basis and I am almost thankful to them for teaching me things I wouldnt have learnt otherwise.
Embracing and loving disability xx

WestCoastGirl said...

That was an awesome post. Thank you kelle, it made my day.

My World - My Life said...

Bretts response brought tears to my eyes....it will be awesome!! :)

Sara said...

I've been following your blog for almost a year now but I have never commented. Just wanted to tell you how amazed I am at your strength, your beautiful way with words, and the powerful images taken of your wonderful family. This post had me in tears from the beginning. As I sit in my kitchen in Romania, drinking my coffee to prepare to teach (peace corps volunteer here!), I am renewed by your words and for that, I thank you. Have a great week.

Sara
www.sarainromania.blogspot.com

Leonard Family said...

I can not read your blog without tears! That was beautiful!!! Thank you again for sharing your wisdom and making this world more beautiful!

Kate said...

Absolutely beautiful words tonight. The tears just won't stop flowing! Happy World Down Syndrome Awareness Day!

LeiShell said...

So beautiful. Tears welled up in my eyes. I wish that everyone felt the way you express, with acceptance, love and embraced it. It would be hard I imagine, but lacking isn't always lacking...the way we think. Some of the sweetest, smartest people have ds...Nella has an amazing family to support her. I loved her mismatched outfit with the green boots. Sort of inspired me to dress my babe all crazy and take cute pics:) Hehe

Rachel said...

Go Brett! Kelle, there is a reason for this blog and it is a changing force for the good in so many families! :)

Jill said...

Amen! LOVE!

Love this! Besides my own husband, sounds like you have one of the wisest husbands I know! =)

If you get a second, check out my FB page for the pics/videos I posted from our world down syndrome day!

Jill B (Overland Park, KS)

Darcy said...

Simply Beautiful.

Darcy said...
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Noelle said...

This was beautiful! I have an almost 8 month old daughter born with a chromosome deletion. She spent the first three months of her life in the hospital because of a heart defect that is just part of what having the deletion means.

I come to your blog to feel the hope that comes with time. You make me believe that I won't always be heartbroken over the life that should have been for my beautiful little girl.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Ann said...

If I remember correctly from Nella's birth story, your sister said you'd been given a key to a door that some people didn't have. I remember commenting that was through that door was "truth". This beautiful post contain so much of the gift of Down syndrome...the gift of truth.

Debora said...

Green shirts, blue shirts. Amazing and moving. Thanks again for sharing and continuing to change our world, one post at a time. :)

Ashley @ Coffee and Apple Juice said...

love this post. absolutely beautiful Kelle. I love your approach and I loved your comment "I think Down Syndrome is the best thing that ever happened to our family." I have heard so many others say that same thing. You are an inspiration and Nella is such a gift!!! She makes me smile every time you post pictures...I have a feeling she is going to do that for a lot of people for the rest of her life. Much love!!

Jess Bosgra said...

That man of yours. Amazing.

Sharen said...

"I am motivated to see people for who they are inside--for what they have to offer rather than what they are lacking or how they are different."
If only we could all see people that way, what a world we would live in. I have no doubt that this little piece of the blogosphere is having an impact on people view others and their differences.

Des said...

Love it. Love it all. Love Brett's response. Love Lainey's analogy. Love your celebration of all the GOOD in your life. Love Nella's sweet face in those pictures - a secure, happy, well loved baby who is very, very lucky indeed. It's a good day. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I just love the photo of the dad in the trucker cap holding up his smiling baby girl like a ray of sunshine. I see a lot of adorable faces... Happy belated 3/21/2012!

LEF said...

Beautiful Kelle. You amaze me. Love your endless inspiration.

Love is all you need said...

Your hubby is so right. How awesome it will be! I love celebrating differences with my son, but also the things that make us the same. That make us family.

Marla S. said...

I cannot tell you how much I needed this post today. There is this ocean inside. This deep, srormy, beautiful ocean with a dam I've built to keep it in check, but it is threatening to drown me. Thank you for inspiring me to write about honesty. With yourself, and also to it share with others. I've been holding out, and holding back. I think maybe it's time to let people in. Thank you for the wonderful catalyst. You've inspired me to open up more, even through the excrutiating pain. It is needed. Thank you, and god bless you and your beautiful, sweet family.

thetaooftulips said...

Happy Day! And can I say the answer to Brett's question- Could she be smart- absolutely she could- and she may not express it the same as Lainey- but she'll express it her own way- the same way she expresses her own little self now! While we were told by our dear ped to expect mild to mod MR- Ms. Quail recently went through the public school screening system- and although her expressive language is a big challenge for her, and inspite of her answer of "No" to many of the testers requests- her IQ came out at an 83 and her receptive language as a 98. I was telling another friend with a younger child with Ds this and they were shocked b/c they had been told not to hope the IQ could be over the MR range (which is less than 70). I know ultimately it doesn't matter- they are who they are- but I just wanted to share that in case you or your readers didn't know that it could even be a possiblity. It may be like having a kid when she's grown- but from your descriptions of her- my guess is she'll show you the sky's not even the limit!

Betsi* said...

What a truly beautiful post. I shared your blog with a friend who has a potential diagnosis of DS for her soon-to-be son. I am happy to report she said her whole outhanksgiving definitely improved, thanks to you.
Keep up the good work, Ambassador Kelle. You're helping people understand and appreciate Holland.
Autism has certainly changed who my husband and I are. Our boys have grown us up in wonderful ways.

Jannice said...

I think you are married to a very special man.

And your Lainey...wise little soul she is. Glad you had a great day.

Michelle said...

made me tear up... you are an amazing mom. And that Lainey, she sees it how we all should; just as things are.

Mrs. Mazzei said...

I truly wish that more of us stayed at a child-like mentality...I turn 31 on Friday, and I continue to long for my youth. Not to negate responsibility or deny maturity, but to live simply and without the callous I've acquired thus far. Lainey is wise beyond her years and if only all could see it's as simple as some people wear blue-shirts and some people wear green-shirts; this world would most definitely be a better place. Thank you for contributing to what is innocent, pure and lovely on this earth...you continue to inspire and motivate me to "enjoy the small things". Xoxo, Erin

Sherri Mitchell said...

Beautiful post, and so moving, and the photos are just so heart warming. I enjoyed it very much.
Just know that there are so many of us who enjoy your family, and thank you for opening up and letting us all partake in your thoughts, feelings, and of course, your shared photography through this blog. It's such a blessing. xo

P.S. - I am still reeling over the What the Hell photo of your mom. I laughed so hard I got chest pains!

Andrea said...

I cried big tears tonight, reading this, because I think it's a message that rings true for all parents ... we want to give our kids the best of us, no matter how challenging it is to overcome our own issues along the way. It's been a tough parenting week for me, my patience has run thin, and as often happens when I am tired and focused on the wrong priorities, I forgot to suck the marrow. I love reading your words, because you always bring me back from that place, that forgetting place, and remind me that I am not the only momma navigating this one wild and precious life, full of hurdles and challenges. We are all in this together, and I, for one, am so honored to be in it with you.
Great post :)

Celina said...

Dear Kelle, I feel like I know you, I'm sure we all do. Nothing has ever given me so much in life as my baby daughter Fernanda who has Down Syndrome as well.Thank you for sharing beauty, inspiration, your beautiful children stories and photos. How could we ever be grateful enough? Giving back and raising awareness, building a better world for all our children around the world. Impacting our circle. Thanks again for your inspiration. Your blog is an oasis for many of us. Friendly, your friend from Mexico.

fa81a04c-73e5-11e1-ad52-000bcdcb471e said...

I have been meaning to pass this on to you for a while, but just haven't done it. Every day I receive a very short, spiritual commentary by email from Henri Nouwen, a highly respected Roman Catholic author and teacher. Nouwen faced his own demons in life, and I believe his wisdom grew directly from those sorrows and sufferings. He finally left life as a highly renown professor in the Ivy League to live in a L'Arche community with mentally and physically handicapped people. He found healing and a home there until he died.

Anyway, this particular reading made me think of you:
"Vulnerable, Like a Bird
Life is precious. Not because it is unchangeable, like a diamond, but because it is vulnerable, like a little bird. To love life means to love its vulnerability, asking for care, attention, guidance, and support. Life and death are connected by vulnerability. The newborn child and the dying elder both remind us of the preciousness of our lives. Let's not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular."

Somehow I think Nella, and everyone with Down Syndrome or Autism or cancer or whatever -- they simply have to wear some of their brokenness on the outside where its visible. And the wise among us realize that we have plenty of it too, we can just hide it more easily. Maybe what makes people uncomfortable around people who wear their difference so visibly is that it reminds them of their own vulnerability? Maybe. I don't know. But I LIKE that I'm reminded of the vulnerability of us all, for exactly the reason that Nouwen said.

Melissa@Julias Bookbag said...

I love the pic of Lainey kissing Nella, who is puckering up with the biggest puckeroo ever -- and THAT BRAID, oh the love I have for that braid.

Love all your posts, but this one is Super Mega Special Love.

Nicky said...

I love Brett's thinking. You have THE most supportive, amazing, loving family. You guys are inspirational. Happy 3:21 day!

Erin said...

Crying real tears reading this, Kelle. Thank you for changing my perspective, forever altering how a 20-something young woman looks at differences - as I go forward into my future, I will always have your story in the back of my mind as a reminder that the unexpected in life is amazing and beautiful.
Love to you and that precious family of yours. Amazing.

Nancy said...

What a beautiful post and a wonderful outlook! Coming from someone who has an older sister with Downs, she may not be as "book smart" as some of my siblings. But she has an inner pool of knowledge far beyond us all. Her understanding of people is incredible. She has the biggest, kindest heart. She has never met a person that isn't a friend. She is my greatest example.

My parents treated my sister similarly to you. They treated her as just another member of our family. They gave her expectations, goals, chores, etc...just like the rest of us.

I'm so glad there are other Downs kids out there with caring, loving parents!

Nicole said...

beautiful post. the conversation between you and brett had me crying. you are amazing. your family is amazing. your husband is amazing. I wish more people could see the world the way your family does.

dandelion daydream said...

Oh wow, brett is just a beautiful daddy isn't he! Yes it will be awesome. So super awesome. You guys are so lovely.

Little Luna said...

Brett's tears brought tears to my own eyes. :)

Ellen said...

Wow. Brett and Lainey both made me cry, hard. Happy tears. Your family and your stories are blessings to me, even through this small blogging connection.

Ky said...

Oh Kelle, you're family is so lucky to have Nella. I know there will always be challenges, but people with DS are precious beyond words. My kids are normal, but I always knew that if I ever had a child with DS I'd be happy, tired probably, but happy.
You thank us for visiting you. I thank you for sharing your journey with us. I thank you for sharing photos of your precious family. Nella makes me smile so much and I wish that I could hug her and watch her play with her big sister.
This blog is awesome! It always makes my day.

Karly Jaco said...

this brought me to tears...beautifully said! thank you for sharing your heart, and in turn for echoing my own.

Br00ke said...

Your photos of those beautiful children at the celebration have me convinced that that extra chromosome is for extra cuteness! Also it was so genuinely uplifting to read Brett's interpretation of how even when you don't have a child anymore you kind of still will...followed by a photo of Nella jumping for joy. That positivity is what it's all about!

Grammy Braxton said...

I happened upon your blog by accident a few months ago and I am so glad I did. Your thought provoking posts are so straight to the point. I love the pictures of Nella and love that bright happy smile she has. Lainey is wise beyond her years. Thank you for teaching me to accept my world and the people in it. I have not had much experience with DS but you have made me aware of the beautiful people this children are. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your life with us.

Laura @ SpottyOwlDesign said...

Kelle, I believe this is your best post yet.

Thankyou.

Hope said...

Beautiful, beautiful post! I've been waiting all day to see what you had to say and knew it would be amazing. I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog almost 2 years ago now, when at the time, I didn't even know Nella had Down syndrome. As a teenager in high school, I can easily say that reading your blog has been a huge eye opener for me, and I always make sure not to look at children with Down syndrome differently. Nella has taught me that children with disabilities are just like everybody else and shouldn't be treated any differently. I thank you for writing this blog and showing the world that they don't need to look at children with disabilities any different then children without!

Mrs.Joyner said...

This post is amazing..Not only because of what you are doing for the DS community, but of how you have bravely let it change you. This blog is SUCH an inspiration..and those babies..beautiful, gorgeous, just adorable. This post is absolutely one of your best!!

Liane said...

Simply put this is beautiful xx

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Stunning photos as always.

Ola said...

beautiful.

Sara said...

a friend of mine has a (full grown) brother with Down Syndrome. One time when someone wasn't paying much attention, he went to a restaurant, told the hostess he was meeting someone (he knew he couldn't get a table by himself) proceeded to order a burger and fries and walked out. Well someone noticed, and he ended up getting a ride home from a policeman followed by about three other cars that wanted to make sure he got home safely. If that whole stunt wasn't an act of brilliance, I'm not sure what is.

Peggy Lyu said...

Amazing post...just amazing..
A big hug to ypu, Nella and Laney, who is a really smart girl!

kendradueck said...

Oh, I loved this post! I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes, and my heart all warmed up. I think it's amazing the way your family has learned to embrace something that so many other people fear. I absolutely love how you find joy in everything, even the hard stuff, to the point where it doesn't even need to be classified as "hard" anymore.

Thank you so much for your heart and spirit and written words. They mean so much to me!

MsPIsMe said...

Your husband (& little Lainey, although she might want to cover her ears) completely kick a** .... kudos to you all ....

Delhibound said...

You're a freaking lucky girl, Kelly Hampton ... REALLY lucky.

Although I really don't like the word luck ... 'cause you've come about your beautiful world through pain, sorrow, tears, angst, etc. but with a whole hell of a lot of joy, love, absolute wonderment, etc.

I guess what I mean is more than lucky, you are DESERVING ...

Your family DOES kick ass ... to copy MsPlsMe up above!

PapillionMom said...

Kelle you are amazing. I"ve followed you since before Nella was a twinkle in your eye. I followed your photography, gaining inspiration for my own photography. However after Nella came into the world I have gained much more than inspiration. I've gained a respect for all people that I never knew I could have. While I've always treated everyone equal, I now view differences in a new light. Like Lainey, it comes down to the color of the t-shirt instead of the chromosome count. My children also read your blog and we are all anticipating the release of Bloom so we can further expand on the strength we are learning from you. Thank you for being willing to share your journey. You are reaching people in so many ways.

Team Lando said...

My heart melted. I love this. I love how Lainey will explain DS to her friends as they all get older. I LOVE LOVE LOVE watching Miss Nella grow. SUCH beautiful shots of beautiful children for 3-21!

Hanna said...

You have given me a broad new perspective towards really going beyond differences and appreciating beauty by what it really is and not by our concept of what it is supposed to be.
Thank you for that Kelle, and you are a strong and amazing mama and woman.

Anne Cunningham said...

you said it all, and then some! just beautiful.

Sian said...

'I hope you are learning this with me.'

I am learning this with you, I'm learning it because of you. Thank you xxxxxxx

medina family said...

Beautiful.

Mama with a red heart said...

You rock. And you're girls are evidence of it. Take care, Katie

Ρόδι said...

Kelle, you're such an inspiration for all parents... with blue shirts and with green shirts alike.
Lovely words and followed by very powerful sentiment-fuelled photos.
Thumbs up to whatever you do, I'm with you.

Amy said...

Amazing...
honestly.. I am pregnant.. I am waiting for my blood results, and although I have to be honest and say I am trusting and praying for a positive healthy result, Nella makes me less scared about the potential outcome. Thank you for what you have done to educate so many on the POSSIBILITIES and the hope.. and fun.. and love..
Just thank you

Sarah said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your precious family with us.

Heather Bird said...

I, too, in often in tears from your beautiful words. Thank you for always delivering.

P said...

Helpful and ASSURING information. PERFECT. Thanks for being you.

And may we all reconnect and learn to maintain that spark of childhood curiosity just like our very clever unconditional love always souls with Down syndrome.

The Halbert Home said...

What a touching post. I'm here in tears. Thank you for opening OUR eyes to the world around us through your experience.

carmen said...

Your words are amazing! Love.

Jill said...

Your words are beautiful, as always. I loved Brett's and Lainey's comments:) They brought tears to my eyes, and made me smile!

kelly said...

Your raising compassionate beautiful, knowledgable children kelle ......both of them.... :-))) xo

Catrine said...

All these children are gorgeous, don't get me wrong, but looking at them and then at Nella, it seems to me as she has a very mild form of DS, cause in all honestly I don't even think it looks as if she has DS at all most of the time.

Babs said...

Yes. I am learning too.

Hazel said...

Kelle, I'm like you, I have to research, to feel in control. But I love Brett's attitude to Nella, happy to see how she is, rather than letting a textbook determine his expectations.
Lainey and Nella are going to be two amazing ambassadors for choosing to see beauty in our differences. How exciting is that?

Hannah Joy said...

Wow girl. I read your birth story of Nella two years ago and I remembered it yesterday. Again I read it and cried. What a beautiful story! I read this post as well and cried.

You have a beautiful family, and you are a beautiful writer.

Thanks.

Benay said...

This made me tear up so much that I couldn't even read the last couple of sentences. It was too blurry! :) gorgeous post.

Beverly said...

YOU are amazing. You can bring me to tears with a smile on my face. I cannot wait to read your book. I love all the pictures of all the children in their blue and green shirts. Lainey is so sweet. Love the picture of Nella looking up at Lainey with all the love her little body can produce. And I think you've definitely got a keeper in Brett. I'm so thankful that you let us in to see your wonderful world. Thank you.

Rhonda said...

She's perfect and loved. What more could one ask for!!

XO

cathy said...

Sounds like you had a blessed day...

much love

xoxo
cathy

Southern Gal said...

I love your celebrations and your heart, Kelle. Tell Lainey we're wearing blue shirts today.

Amanda said...

Tears-that was beautiful!

Jen said...

Lovely day to celebrate lovely people!! That Nella sure is getting cuter everyday. Love the braided pigtails. My daughter's hair is almost long enough to braid too! Something I have been waiting anxiously to do now for 4(!) years!! :)

karlamcurry said...

That was beautiful - brought tears to my eyes. That we should all stay young as we grow older!

Heather said...

Oh my word...now I'm blubbering away...thank-you for sharing your sweet family with all of us. Nella is just the sweetest thing!!

Misty Pratt said...

I am 11 weeks pregnant, and I just declined the prenatal testing. I did it with my first child, and honestly, I don't know what I would have done with that information if I'd received a "positive." I know that I sure as hell wouldn't be aborting based on Down Syndrome. I wish mothers all over North America could read your blog and realize that your daughter is just wearing a different coloured shirt. Anyway, just wanted to say that the IPS testing and abortion stats are scary....but I'm glad you focused on something different for this post :) Thank you

Tia said...

I don't even know you a little, but I love you and your entire family. Great post.

Jessica said...

I know I say it all the time, but it's worth repeating. You amaze me. I have never cared for someone so strongly that I've never met. You have brought us into your lives with such open doors we feel like we've been through them a million times. Like we live next door. And it's ah-mazing. And Brett? His comment? Dude, it took me 5 minutes to stop the tears enough to even read the rest of your post - that is until I got to Lainey's words and they started all over again. I'm smitten with your girls and I pray that their love is a beacon to the world so there can be more that can love like them. So innocent, so pure, so REAL.
PS) The frog boots are freaking adorable. I wish they came in my size. Just sayin :)

lauriez said...

Absolutely beautiful post....just like Nella and Lainey. Thanks for all you do and for who you ARE. Too bad the world isn't full of people who view things with the cup not only half full but completely overflowing. Hugs.

Michelle said...

AWESOME post! I have shared before that my husbands aunt is in her fifties and has downs syndrome. She is such a great part of the family. Can't imagine life without her.

Ilse said...

absolutely beautiful...

Coffeemomma said...

The one thing that sticks out to me: "Down syndrome is the best thing that ever happened to our family". OURS TOO!!!!! Even with the complete roller coaster ride we were on with my son Ben's health.....even still. Ours too. :). Happy 3:21, Hampton family.

Barbie @ Mamaology said...

If Brett hasn't seen the movie Radio yet...he totally has too! You two will love it! ♥

Emily said...

Another beautiful post Kelle. Always brings tears to my eyes, to know you are enjoying and loving life so much... and teaching us as you go along. I wish we could all see the world through the eyes of a child, and even though it's difficult, we can keep trying and know that we each bring special gifts to this life.

Cooking for My Kids said...

I am crying happy tears right now.

He stopped and thought for a moment. "You mean, when she's older, it will be like we still have a kid, right?"

I braced myself for sorrow. "Well, kind of," I answered.

And I waited.

He raised his head and his eyes met mine. He was beaming, smiling, excited.

And, with tears, he finally said, "That is so awesome."+

Just beautiful. And, I can attest to the fact that there is something amazing about that child-like innocence that you get to embrace a little longer. You are doing so many great, wonderful things for this world, Kelle. Raising a kind, compassionate family is the beginning and the best of that.

Party of Ten said...

Not only do your words bring me to {happy} tears, but now Brett's do, too...Sheesh :) What a beautiful day for you. Thanks for sharing your life.

Becky from WI said...

I have been anxiously waiting for this post and it was exactly what I thought it would be--insightful, heartfelt, and beautiful! The conversation with Brett is where I lost it because my husband doesn't say much about Tessa's Down Syndrome either, but he has moments like that where you know he is deeply moved by his baby.
Thank you once again!

TRB Holt said...

Green shirts, blue eyes, brown skin....we are all different all in beautiful ways. You represent awareness so beautifully....your photos especially tell the story....I AM learning with you, thank you Kelle!
xoxo,
Bug & Ruby's Gram

Rik said...

OK, I want to hug the dad who wears the shirt saying: "3.21, Because I will not stop until the world recognizes my daughter." You parents hold lenses the world needs to see through. This post reduced me to blubbering tears...and told me "reduced" was the wrong word--"raised me" seems more appropriate! Thank you, Kelle, for a child teaching a father new and glorious things.

Poppa

Luckygirl721 said...

Kelle,
This post brought tears to my eyes. I just love your Nella! I need a dose of her chubby adorable-ness every day...this mama has three babies who grew up too damn fast--they're 12, 15, and 20! Thank you for sharing your words and your beautiful life with us!
Shannon

aprilanecdotes said...

Beautiful pictures of beautiful children. Take heart Kelley our kids with DS do grow up to be awesome, smart adults. My April is amazing and her brothers, still in their teens, are growing into wise young men. Yes, all have DS. Nella will amaze you with her knowledge that she aquires on this journey of life.

ralphnmonica said...

So beautiful!! I only wish I had known about the celebration. My girls would have LOVED it. :)

Jen said...

Best Post Ever.

xoxoxoxo

Kim said...

It's so refreshing and encouraging to read about how wonderful your live is now that Nella is in it, especially when we're daily confronted with so many parents (and so many people in the media, etc.) telling us that these children aren't just as valuable as any other. Your posts warm my heart and I hope many, many people are encouraged to do what is right when faced with the same circumstances...May attitudes change!

Years ago I had a friend whose sister had Downs. Her sister was maybe in her 20's and still living at home with her parents. Her room was still painted a bright pink and surrounded by Barbies. And every time I went to his house, she would run to me and give me a huge hug. (And would then sit right next to me the whole time I was at the house.) Until that point I didn't know anyone who had DS but I have to tell you that she delighted me (even though I was a very young, clueless adult!!) and I always felt...loved. Isn't that weird? She didn't know me that well but because I was a friend of her sisters, she showed this amazing amount of affection. It made quite an impression and now, over 20 years later, I still have happy thought when I think back on visiting that family...because of that sweet girl.

Enjoy this beautiful life and your truly beautiful daughter!!

Leisa said...

I think you are ALL awesome! Thank you for blessing us with glimpses into your lives. We are all enriched by your spirit!

The Martys said...

Beautiful!! Down syndrome is beautiful!!! We celebrated our sweet one yesterday too. Can't wait to get your book. I pre-ordered a few months ago. You are inspiring!.

Amy

Leah said...

Brett's response was perfect! :) So glad you had an awesome day celebrating Nella! She is just perfect, too! Love the kissing pictures! They are so very sweet together!

Leah said...

PS - Actually I loved all the pictures! :) Nella reading is priceless! :)

Talia said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. Lovely. Just lovely.

Cindy said...

Kelle, this post was absolutely beautiful and soulful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, words, images, ideas with us. Thank you for sharing the lessons you are learning along the way. They inspire me to be better, too.

Mark, Wendy, Dale and Rose said...

What a amazing post. Totally made me bawl!

Gemma said...

Kelle your words are beautiful....No-one gives us a manual when we become parents. Its our job to teach our little ones but I believe they teach us just as much. I love that you are not allowing DS to define who Nella is. It is a part of her but its not who she is and bravo for teaching us all that!

Tiffany V said...

Well said!
I'm trying to teach my abled two year old the same things right now! That no matter what you look like, wear, sound like, or think about we are all the same on the inside. We all feel happiness, sadness, gratitude and fear. Two great books we've discovered that helps with these concepts are:
A Rainbow of Friends by P. K. Hallinan
and
Whoever You Are (Reading Rainbow Books) by Mem Fox
Thank you for continuing to inspire a just, caring and thriving world one well raised child at a time!

Nikki said...

This brought tears to my eyes and was beautiful. You are inspiring, as is your family.

Erin said...

Please know that you are helping the world learn about the beauty of not only DS, but the beauty of life. I wish the whole world could put on those Kelle rose colored glasses.

And just an fyi to Catrine's comment: you missed the entire point of this post. I hope reading it again will encourage you to reevaluate your words. - sorry couldn't help myself. that comment really got under my skin.

BLOOM - Parenting Kids With Disabilities said...

Brilliant. Just brilliant on so many levels. I loved Brett's response -- it's similar to how my husband looks at our situation with our son becoming an adult.

I wish all children in our education system had discussions about differences (like the one you had with Lainey) as part of the curriculum.

Nicole said...

All I can say is...tears. And girl, what an amazing husband you have. Your girls are who they are because you two are remarkable.

Thank you for sharing your experiences and reminding me to keep my eyes wide open every day.

Erin said...

"Some people were green shirts and some people wear blue shirts" sounds like a great title for a children's book! Wonderful post <3 My oldest son has Tourettes and I have had similar conversations with him. <3

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elizabeth said...

Kelle.. I am so grateful for this post. You have no way of knowing this, but today am I making my way through the first anniversary of losing my dad at the tender age of 50 to an unexpected stroke while he was on vacation. I have been so afraid of what this day would feel like since I made it through March 22 of last year. I took today off, unsure of what I would or would not be able to handle. I woke up early this morning but didn't get out of bed. I finally grabbed my computer and started checking my daily things. Your precious blog is always on that list. And today, it was just what I needed. An reason to let go of my emotions and let the tears fall. A reminder to enjoy the moment, to find the joy, to not get so caught up in the petty, but instead think about the things that really matter. Family. Friends. Love. Experiences that you'll never forget. You reminded me that sometimes, the biggest "tragedies" can be the moments that change your life forever in the biggest and best ways that you never even thought possible. I could go on, but I bet you get the point. So thank you, for reminding me of what's important on this most unrelished anniversary.

Mary Grigg said...

I love your blog and this post made me smile looking at all the happy beautiful children! They are just adorable :)

angi said...

I love this post for a million reasons, but mostly you. I'm hooked. Much love to you and yours.

MommyBelle said...

Ugh, I totally teared up reading this and was not prepared to at all! But, thank you for such a beautiful post. Definitely worth the tears!

Kristin said...

Beautiful post, Kelle. Brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful family Nella was born into.

poeticchronicles said...

Hi Kelle!
Just wanted to let you know that your words and pictures speak perfectly! I don't have kids with special needs, yet I have exactly the same dreams and intentions: I want to be a great mom, I want to teach great things to my kids, live the beautiful and embrace the unexpected, savour life and teach my babies to savour it too. I want to learn, and I learn every day, through the bumps in the road and all the moments of grace. You show so much grace, you and your family!
Your daughters are dang cute by the way, and you're right,Nella is a wonderful teacher. :)

shellbell said...

What a wonderful post, it also brought me to tears. This is my favorite line: " I am motivated to see people for who they are inside--for what they have to offer rather than what they are lacking or how they are different." YES! I agree 100% This is what I needed to hear. You have beautifully articulated one of my greatest passions. Thank you for spreading open minds and open attitudes.
Shelley

CurlyQ said...

What a great way to start my day today. I was wondering what you were going to post yesterday and it was beautiful as always. Love the exchange between you and Brett. You have started my day off on a positive note to work with my adult clients some who wear blue shirts or green shirts or have Autism or Down Syndrome or MR all of whom inspire me.

Angela said...

Look at all of those beautiful children. Every single one of them, in the blue shirts, and green shirts. thank you for sharing all of this this with us! you have taught me so much through your own navigation of finding the beauty in everything.

5boysand1girlmake6.com said...

Most perfect post ever! I have tears streaming down my face. Best thing that ever happened to all of us. Truly made me feel again. Love all of you!!! Katie

{Jessica} said...

Sitting here at my desk tearing up from the sheer beauty of this post. I have never had the pleasure of personally knowing someone with Down Syndrome, but through following your blog, I feel like I am experiencing it with you and have learned so much. Nella is such a blessing, and your honest account of your journey with her thus far is so inspiring. Keep writing Kel. Along with being a skilled photographer, you have been blessed with the gift of words and with it, touch more people than you will ever know!

Krystle said...

You have taught me so much through your amazing words and photography. What a great post! Thank you for helping me start off my work day right. Love it! :)

cousin Cindy said...

Beautiful and precious post. I have tears in my eyes from all the sweetness...words between you and Brett..you and Lainey..and those cutie patootie pigtails in Nella's hair.I just want to eat her up. "Ain't" nothin' but cuteness and it has made my morning--once again.

Little for a Little While said...

I am most definitely learning along with you. From you. You have opened my eyes to beauty all around, and I smile everytime I see something through your eyes.

jcox22 said...

Wow, when I read the comment Brett made about Nella being like a kid when she's older and he said "That is so awesome." It made me cry. You are so inspiring to me as a parent and I hope that if I ever have kids I can do half of what you do. I am a special needs teacher and have always had an extra soft spot in my heart for my kids who have Down syndrome! Your blog is absolutely wonderful and motivating!!!

Beans said...

yup.....bawling here @ my desk. Wonderful post. Thank you so much.

Unknown said...

So beautiful.

Shannon said...

Geez, I am crying full on big crocodile tears. You have made me see so many things, just through your blog. My little one is Autistic and a lot of what you write relates. It can be heartbreaking, and so eye opening. Your words...your real raw words feel like they could have came from my heart. Thank you Kelle. Just, Thank you. Your little ones are beautiful, your family, friends, husband...thanks for including them in your blog.

The Buchanan Family said...

I swear there is something about Laney's (mine daughter is spelt Laynee). THey are so carrying! Your Laney amazes me, you amaze me and Little Nella sure amazes me! I love your story and love your blog! Thanks for sharing! Tears came down my face this am as I read this. Ashley

love is everywhere! said...

I learn so much reading your blog, especially this morning when I read how people wear blue shirts and green shirts too. Brought tears to my eyes and how awesome it would be to have a child forever.

Andrea said...

This was so beautiful. I feel like this post had love in every sentence and I thank you for sharing it with the world. It just makes me happy reading how loved both of your children are and the part about your husband had me blubbering like a fool. You have a beautiful family!

Sarah said...

This post made me so sad to have lost our Grace. Beautiful.

The Yarbrough's said...

Such a great post. :) You are blessed with 2 beautiful children!

Kristin said...

Brett's reaction- just awesome... and the picture to follow-- what a great way to start my morning at work!! :)

Christie said...

I can't even begin to tell you how much your words mean to me today. You help me put things back into prospective. Thank You!!

Apey Lee's Homespun Designs said...

You and Brett make a wonderful team; Nella and Lainey are so lucky to have the both of you. I love to read your entries and your deepest thoughts... they're all very beautiful as you and your family are.

Sherri said...

Kelle, this was beau-t-ful girl!! I teared up when you said DS was the best thing that ever happened to your family, cuz that's embracing something to the fullest...very inspiring!! Thanku for sharing your life with us...honestly, i think u make me a better momma. Honestly!

becca said...

Such beautiful words...tear jerking words...in a good way. Thanks for yet another mind opening post! I recently started following you and I find I (impatiently) wait everyday for your next humbly inspiring post. You never cease to run out of great words of wisdom that make me think each day, and because of it see the world from a different point of view...a larger point of view...that highlights all the small things around us that we often tend to forget. Thank you Thank you Thank you! ♥

Jenny D said...

Tears streaming down my face. Thank You! Your words are fantastic! And "Pipi's" braids are the absolute best!

Gwen said...

What a beautiful post. And Brett...such a beautiful attitude. What a way to find the positive in everything. I was so moved by your exchange with him.

Molly said...

Oh Kelle. Tears this morning as I read this. Nella's story and life has changed me. It has opened my eyes. When I see a parent of a child with down syndrome I always smile. Knowing more of their challenges and more of the grand love that's involved. That's because of you. You are helping SO many people, Kelle. Living a life with meaning and inspiring people everywhere to do the same.

Sherry said...

Will Nella be smart? Nella is and will be so much more than that and your husband's response to your reply was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. Life sends us lessons in so many different ways and forms. Your Nella is a gift but then so are you, to all of us for reminding us that joy is everywhere. We only need to look.

Prita said...

I read your blog religiously and all of your posts touch me. But this one got me good. Tears literally streaming down my face. So beautifully written... thank you for such a lovely post. It made my day.

booksatthepaperhouse.com said...

I had fallen in love with you after reading your first sentence when I starting following your blog about a year ago, and I've adored your family every step along the way.

But I think I just fell in love with your husband tonight too.

Beautiful, beautiful piece.

Kristen said...

Thank you for your beautiful words and reminding us all what is truly important in life...simply loving each other

The Kippleys said...

Your beautiful words made me cry at my desk this morning!! Thanks for opening all of our eyes to beauty everywhere!!

TBLB Edmundson said...

Girlfriend.. you are downright amazing.. that's all I've got..

Me said...

So gorgeous. Looking at all those happy faces - what more really can you want for your child other than happiness? Thank you for opening all of our eyes to your beautiful world and sharing the beauties that we can treasure.

Allison said...

This made my heart sing...that there is a community that sees perfection in what our society would deem "imperfection."

Tonya said...

. "You mean, when she's older, it will be like we still have a kid, right?"

And, with tears, he finally said, "That is so awesome."

What a wonderful and wise husband you have! I love Brett!!! Awesome indeed!

Bonnie Widmaier said...

beautiful post! your girls are beautiful inside and out. there is one picture in this post, where Nella is wearing the green rain boots and has a little closed mouth smile and she looks just like Lainey to me.... it's happy day indeed! thanks for sharing your life with us.

Anne Lightner said...

beautiful post, i am in tears and your pictures are amazing!

~KC: said...

Love how ~gracefully~ YOU increase positive awareness for Individuals with Down syndrome!

Went to an event last night...to honor...the 3/21 bond...after the rocky start (I couldn't help my emotions and happy tears)...had a wonderful time...celebrating their BEAUTIFUL lives...feeling so much LOVE... :)))

Thank you so much for this powerful post, Friend! Love when words put me in deep reflection mode, feeling my mind, heart and soul are in sync. It is like having a good conversation you "know" will continue.

When it comes to the future of Individuals with Down syndrome, when it comes to the future of any individual, when it comes to our future, I feel that what really matters is that we all find a way to fulfill our unique needs. And, by helping each other fulfill these needs, being loving and compassionate towards ourselves and others, we create a better world for all of us.

xOx...Sending you lots of love~

"These are the times when we stand humbly and boldly in the presence of our own great promise. These are the days when through our decisions and actions, we determine our legacy for those to come." ~Jean Houston

Janita said...

Brett's a rockstar...you know that, right? Yes, you do know that. And your words: "...is it ever amazing to be transformed by love in a way that awakens parts of you that needed to come alive." Cue a little snottage flying...some tears (and other matter) hit the keyboard.

Isn't it strange that we have no idea what's inside of us until we're handed something more precious than we ever could have imagined? Your honesty and vulnerability, exposing your fears, your wonder-abouts, your joy...dude, that's what's changing hearts all over the world. And remember, "He who saves one man, saves the world." xo

In Real Life said...

Gorgeous photos paired with beautiful words.

Jocie said...

Truly inspirational. THANK YOU!

Keely D said...

Every word I read on your blog is a big inspiration to me. The way you explain things and look at the world is simply awesome. My life has changed since I stumbled upon your blog. I look at the world differently, and I also look at the challenges of life in a different way. You are truly a hug inspiration to so many and from me and the so many others. THANK YOU

Noan said...

beautiful, beautiful

Annie said...

I am learning this with you, through you. Thank you for being honest and sharing your experiences.
Beautiful post.

Rachel said...

I feel the same way Down Syndrome might be the best thing that ever happened to our family. I wrote a post last night called 21 reasons I love Down Syndrome, never thought I would say those words. But I do really love it and am thankful. My husband said a few years ago, that he is so excited that Sam will always want to go to baseball games with him and never be embarrassed to be with his Dad, we can't say that for our other children that will "grow up." That is something to look forward to for sure!
http://thebaxternews.blogspot.com/
Thanks as always for your beautiful words and pictures.

anniemills said...

I have tears streaming down my face and mixed emotions. So very very thrilled that Nella is in such a love filled family.
But I feel a sadness too; many many years ago while in college, I worked at a nursing home for mentally disabled adults. There were SO many adults there with Down Syndrome who had been institutionalized their entire lives. If only, IF ONLY.

Kerry said...

why will I never learn not to put on mascara before I read? Amazing, lovely, beautiful. With the music you picked building and soothing at the same time, it was a whole sensory experience and it was amazing.
I want to say that when I first bookmarked your page (at the start here, then obesessively read back through every post beginning to end like it was my job), I did it wrong, so every day when I log on to read what you have posted, I land on the page of nella's birth story, and I have to scroll down to the list of posts, which appears right next to the photo of Miss Nella, brand new and still all red and full of expectation and love and it is the very best way to start the day. I don't think I'll ever "fix" my bookmark.

Comfypjs said...

I truly believe that you and Brett were blessed by God when you had Nella. Your heart was speaking through this entire post and I pray this post will touch the hearts of many who feel differently about Down Syndrome. Thank you for sharing your heart and family with all of us!

House of three names with one heart. said...

What a beautiful post.

Victoria said...

just beautiful,thank you,as usual for your deep yet simple thoughts and words. i love reading your blog so much!!

Shae said...

I love, love, LOVE Brett's response!!!! It brought big ol' tears to my eyes. So awesome!

Jess@BeingMrsBeer said...

This made me tear up. Such a beautiful way to express love the daughter you love so much. I have a sister with Asperger's, and my mom always explained it that way - some kids have Asperger's and some don't. Just a fact of life. I wouldn't change one bit of my sister and am sure you feel the same about your little girl.

dillard said...

Delurking to say you made me cry with this post. Or I should say you and your husband made me cry. Awesome!

Michelle said...

There's a reason I don't read your blogs at work... I'm crying at my desk again! :o)

Jessie said...

The conversation between you and Brett left me bawling. I adore your family, you guys are amazing. You ARE a strong momma and your kids couldn't have found a better one if they had been able to hand pick you themselves. :-)

erica said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I needed to hear this today.

A few Hicks said...

I love Brett's response. It really is awesome to have a child around all the time. My uncle had DS and 2 other family members are special needs. They have brought so much joy to our families! It's refreshing to experience the world through their eyes - we learn a lot from them!

C Turn said...

Beautiful post - and yes, we all wear our own colors don't we miss Lainey? Bless your precious family!

heidig said...

You are a wonderful teacher! Thank you for that.

Crystal said...

I am so glad you mentioned DS Pregnancy's website -- it's such a great resource! My adopted sisters (15 and 20) both have a host of behvaioral problems stemming from their mother's drug use while pregnant. I so wish my family could be as excited about their future as you are with Nella. You're lucky.

Meagan Kenney said...

The conversation between you and Brett brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful. Just like Nella herself. How blessed you are!

Meagan Kenney said...

The conversation between you and Brett brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful. Just like Nella herself. How blessed you are!

unsortable said...

how strange... last night i dreamt about you being on a beach book-signing and Nella and my 3 old girl Lavinia playing together and running in the sand.... and here you post lots of beach pictures....
you have a great family, and you're building it day by day.... Nella couldn't have found a family better than yours...
thank you for sharing with such simplicity and openess you life with us

thesnozzberriestastelikesnozzberries said...

y'all are a amazing.

you've GOT to watch this sweet video on this blog. http://www.eicherumba.blogspot.com/2012/03/wdsd-12-sisters-big-love.html

Happy DS day!!!

Lovely Love said...

beautiful post :)

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