Passport to Italy

I would have posted sooner, but I’ve been running in wooden shoes the last couple days. Cannot get out of Holland, and my in-a-funk posts are just not cool. I’ll spare you. Needless to say, this here totally blows. Like painful blisters.

But, as I told Heidi in my ten-minute tyrade on the phone this morning, there is no law that says I can’t get out of Holland and if the planes out are halted and I want to go to Italy, I’ll take these damn wooden shoes, smash them into splinters and use the wood to build a dingy on which I will paddle through the English Channel, so help me God, with Nella and Lainey strapped to my back until I land in Italy. And I will eat gelato and take pictures of the Roman Cathedrals and, by Golly, I will write the map of Italian tourism if I so choose.

End of tyrade. (standing ovation anyone?)

Well, hello there little tourist.

‘Tis with this passion I paddled out of Holland this morning and albeit a crazy day already (try shaving a leg with one hand while shaking a bouncy seat with the other…bloody cut-up ankles to say the least), I’m beginning to smell spaghetti and what’s that I hear? …ah, Pavarotti. Ain’t no one gunna tell me I’m banished to Holland. Nuh-uh.

And I asked myself what exactly would push me out of Dutch-town?

So, I began to make this little mental list of all the spontaneous things I’ve done over the years that make me happy…even if they are menial tasks like sipping a cup of hot tea in a real teacup or painting my nails a super sexy red.

And I, in a moment of bad decision making, chose the latter first. Needless to say, two seconds after spanning all ten fingers out in a moment of “damn, they look good” admiration for my manicure, I realized I’m a mom of two kids and Lainey’s begging me to peel the foil off her yogurt cup and Nella’s crying for her swaddle to be tightened and, well…three smudges and two polish remover-soaked cotton swabs later, my hands are…redless.

Minor setback. In fact my manicure failure only fueled my fire. I became the crazed tourist, madly making my way to Italy. Don’t get me wrong…I’m content with Holland, really. Windmills save energy and all, but, Dude, don’t tell me I can’t go to Italy. ‘Cuz now you ticked me off and I’m just gunna prove you wrong.

So, I went mad today. I took a bath with both my girls.

The Return of the Pouty Lip

I cleaned the house, I rearranged. I took a half hour to sit on the couch and look at our wedding album until I was crying happy tears and remembering just how awesome that day was (I’ve decided heaven is just going to be one big rewind of our wedding day…except our babies are with us too). I dug through my closet and found my favorite tweed linen pants I bought before I was pregnant and…voila, they fit. I curled my hair, curled my lashes, and then curled my lips into a big fat pout and told my mirror self convincingly that I was fabulous and bound for Italy. I took pictures and journaled and caught up on some editing. I read books to Lainey and sang songs to Nella. I listened to Ingrid Michaelson and pretended I was on stage with her…and I sang really loud…to outdo her, you know. I changed the sheets and sprayed forget-me-not linen spray to remind Brett when he comes home from Atlanta tonight that I indeed forgot him not. I texted him that he, just by being he, makes me so entirely happy. I read Lainey the story of when she was born…and made it through without crying. I did a cartwheel in the front lawn just to say I did and then watched Lainey as she attempted to copy me with the cutest up-legged crooked tumble.

…and somewhere between slipping on my linen pants and watching my little gymnast do a tumble, I heard the pilot…

…Welcome to Italy.


And now that I know I beat the odds and went to Italy and can go there anytime I please, I’m fine to settle back into the comforts of Holland.

And, for the record, look what shoes I’m wearing today…

See what those soles are made of? That’s right. Wood, my friends. If I’m wearin’ wood shoes, I’m gunna style ’em up and do it my way.

…and a few pics…

Reading Books to Little Sister in the Morning…

Playing Hide-and-go-Seek with friends…

Happy Friday.

P.S. I will answer some F.A.Q.’s in next post re: baby knits and such.


Leave a Comment
  1. Oh that pouty lip…I miss those :)

    Well if you’re getting out of Holland, pick me up a souvenir eh?!

    Bad days are bound to happen, but they are always curable…by the next one :) Take care my dear.

  2. Those pouty lips – they make me smile big and wide and take a deep breath. Thank you. Your story brings me joy today.

  3. Nella takes my breath away. I love her pouty lip.

    Gorgeous photos Kelle.

  4. this blog feeds me…
    Just beautiful.

  5. I love your blog. Your writing is amazing- and makes me see my own life in new light.
    Thankyou for making us all stop and look around –

  6. Dang it, I thought I got first post!! Oh well. I’ll tell ya what girl…you take us all to Italy every time you brighten the day with your words and images. And for the record, I still tear up every time I hear the line, “you are the face of a faith,” or however it goes. Great song. Love Miss Thang dryin’ her blonde wisps. Thanks for the Friday sunshine!!

  7. I love the pouty lip. My girl makes the pouty lip too, but I never seem to have the camera ready. Sigh. I love your outlook on life and how you make me sit back and have a better outlook on mine.

  8. Oh my goodness I Love those pictures that little pouty lip…

  9. Just what I needed. I wish I could just fly over there and feel y’alls spirit. I need some happyness, some Holland and some Italy!! You are an awesome mom. Your girls are so blessed and you are too!!

  10. You’re going to be alright. I love reading your heart. I just know that all of Heaven is smiling on you.

  11. You have an amazing spirit. I wish I was in Italy with you…instead I’m behind a desk, missing my little ones. Perhaps we’ll go site-seeing tomorrow! =)

  12. Thank you so much for your posts. I find you so inspiring. I really look forward to reading each new entry in your blog. You are beautiful and strong, and I don’t know how you bathed with two little ones!!! I only have one little one of my own, and I’ve learned that turning a task you “once loved” into one you can share together is HARD! Enjoy your beautiful girls, and Italy isn’t THAT far from Holland! πŸ˜‰

  13. These girls are stunning…and the pouty lip…dont ya wanna just sqeeze her when you see that… priceless. I’ve been in some what of my own funk lately, wishing for the days when I could bathe with my daughters, but at 18, 15, & 13 we just won’t fit, and they would not have it even if we did. Blessings Mamma…I truly enjoy your writing.

  14. Benvenuta

  15. Lisa (the soon to be crown maker for the soon to be big brother!) says:

    Can I please have your photo taking skills (and I’ll also take your eloquent writing capabilities while I’m at it…)????

    Here’s to happy days Kelle!


  16. YOU GO!!!!

    fist pump.

    smiles :-)

  17. I’ve been in Holland a year now. Sure I make trips to Italy every now and then, but find that I keep slipping back to that place. The place of barely holding on. My daughter’s diagnosis is something I will struggle with the rest of our lives… What I hold on to… very best peace… I’m not in Holland alone! Welcome… I hope you find, as I have, the strength from other special needs mom’s to be a breath of fresh air. Just maybe that smell of pasta.

  18. Hi Kelle. Thank you for your blog. Have you heard before that it’s awesome (haha). Sometimes as I read your posts, I feel like they are my words. Probably the case because we do have some things in commom…I’m 31 and a mother of 2 beautiful daughters (ages 2 and 4) and have the most wonderful husband. I’m also from Michigan! But unfortunately I’m still stuck here in the cold…boo…I’m jealous of your walks to the lake and picnics while I’m stuck in lake effect central. Anyway, thanks for sharing your life with all of us strangers. Your posts are helping so many other woman get to Italy.

  19. I can so see you in Nella’s tiny little face! She is breathtaking, and the pout kills me! Ah, the baby days…
    Lainey is lovely – really lovely.

  20. Fabulous & determined. … you rock! Ciao Bella.. welcome to Italy! Your passport may be from Holland but a second home in Italy ain’t so bad. :)
    Wonderful post and I love love love that pouty’s delish!!

  21. You go girl, bon voyage! I adore Nella’s pouty lip, I’ve never seen anything so cute!

  22. Oh. My. Goodness. The pouty lip makes me smile so much!

    And those shoes…well, if they are dutch shoes, I am SO getting some : ). Hotness.

    I hope you paint your nails again. And do some more cartwheels : )

    Happy Friday indeed.

  23. You Rock Girl!! You may have your down days but you sure know how to pick yourself up – along with everyone else who tunes into your blog!!! Love love love your pictures of the girls!! They are perfect little Princesses!!! What perfect beauty! Have a great weekend!!!

  24. I love this blog, the pics, the heart. Your heart is big and being stretched bigger, in the best of ways. Your little girls are so beautiful, picture perfect, both of them. Truly. What a gift that you CAN take such gorgeous pics of them both, framers all.

    And your perseverance, getting back up again and again….it’s not easy. I keep getting redirected back to Holland too. And while I love love love tulips…I yearn for Italy. But this post, reminds me, in a tough week/day, to permit my reach toward Italy….it’s ok to step out of Holland on purpose. To build Italy where I am. I forget that sometimes. I really do.
    Travel is good.

    Bless you.

  25. Gorgeous pictures, especially that first one!!

  26. I seriously loved this post and the pictures are absolutely gorgeous!!!

  27. Do you really want to read that I, too, love that pouty lip? Amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing your sweet family and your truthful words.

  28. Beautiful. I love your posts. I don’t think I have ever read someones words and truly felt like I was walking through something with them. It is beautiful. Thank you for being so eloquent, so open, so real. We need more real people in this world. Ones who aren’t afraid to share their heart and to challenge the politically correct emotions that people want us to have. I love that you can recognize where you are and where you are going and you’re doing it boldly. Lovely. Thank you for helping me to look at myself honestly and to live life to its fullest with all its surprises!

  29. Three very beautiful tourists!
    Love the first picture of Nella!
    Lainey looks like a model! Heck . . . all of you look like models!

  30. Love it! Happy Friday to yo. You are doing great things!

  31. Marsha Colbert says:

    For you…

    Dare il benvenuto all’Italia. La siamo aspettata.

    Happy Friday! :)

  32. Sooo glad you were able to leave Holland…it’s a tough place to be—been stuck there myself quite a few times….but eventually I find my escape route!!!!!
    I think Nella is one GORGEOUS child—-she is absolutely breath taking!!
    Enjoy your girls and know that if you find yourself stuck in Holland again you are surrounded by friends—those in real life and those of us that get a peak into your world through your blog!!! Know that you WILL find your way out!!
    Take care and Live in Love!!

  33. Sooo glad you were able to leave Holland…it’s a tough place to be—been stuck there myself quite a few times….but eventually I find my escape route!!!!!
    I think Nella is one GORGEOUS child—-she is absolutely breath taking!!
    Enjoy your girls and know that if you find yourself stuck in Holland again you are surrounded by friends—those in real life and those of us that get a peak into your world through your blog!!! Know that you WILL find your way out!!
    Take care and Live in Love!!

  34. Ok I haven’t even finished the post yet, but had to say YES you get a standing ovation from ME! Because you remind me of ME so much (years before i had a blog) of how I felt. And guess what??? I KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO BE AN AWESOME ADVOCATE FOR NELLA!!! Yes, I had to yell that! πŸ˜‰
    You are not going to take no for an answer and you are learning that now and it ROCKS my friend!!!
    Also, being the mother of twins, one with special needs and one without (also a 19 month old baby girl) Your Lainey is going to show you how SPECIAL she is, you think she has shown you unconditional love now? JUST WAIT, because it keeps getting sweeter and sweeter! My Johnny is the most caring, compassionate, warm, and LOVING 9 yr old boy, and I know alot of it has to do with the fact that his brother is “different”.
    I know Nella has a different disability than my Kris. But please if you have HBO watch Temple Grandin. I promise it’s not a downer, it’s awesome.
    Her mother constantly told everyone that Temple was “different NOT less”.
    Ok, I can keep reading now, lol! Sorry for MY tyrade! :)

  35. I love love love this post.

  36. Marsha Colbert says:


    Welcome to Italy. We’ve been expecting you.


  37. I’ve been reading for a long time but I think that photo of Lainey with the blow drier is my new favorite! What adorable daughters you have (but you knew that!)
    Kelle- it’s okay if you want to make your in-a-funk posts. But hey, these happy ones are great too. As long as you’re real, we’ll keep reading. I promise. Now go have fun with those girls.

  38. I just love reading your posts! You make me laugh with all of your analagies.
    I love that brown hat on Lainey and that pouty lip on Nella just makes me want to reach into the computer to cuddle her….I miss the newborn days…

  39. :::standing ovation, applauding:: Ok, I am so going with you to Italy!! No wonder my special boy loves Italian food!!! He loves Italy too!!!! I love the fight in ya!! It will take you to many more places than Italy you will be a world traveler and I am coming with you!! Nope, you are not alone!!!

  40. I’m a relatively new reader. You and your girls are just too adorable for words. And I love the pouty lip!

  41. I love, love, love your blog – it inspires this southern gal here in upstate SC. Blessings to you and your precious family!!

    Mom2B&B πŸ˜‰

  42. Great Blog. Maybe the only guy to respond but couldn’t resist anymore. I have a 6yr old with DS and you will have good and bad days (that has been my experience). Italy is good but Holland, not so bad.

  43. Your daughters are beautiful!!! great pictures!

  44. I find myself checking your blog daily. I never read blogs before and now I’m reading one daily and getting oh so excited to read yours. Thanks for inspiring me….

  45. Again, I am addicted to your pictures and words.

  46. Your photos are stunning as always. I wish you were in Chicago so you could photograph my 2 girls. Or rather I wish I was in FL so you could photograph my girls, it’s so cold here, your pics warm me up :) Nella is just more beautiful every time you post. Lainey is of course a cutie always too. I just loveeeee little girls :) But I’m a little biased I guess. My 6 mo old calls me now … :)

  47. I’m back, not in a stalker-kind-a way, well maybe, ROFL!
    Anyway, I see Coldplay in your playlist. If they come near you, SEE THEM if you havent’ already!! Hubby and I went in July, I splurged on second row and I still have the after-concert warm fuzzies!!!!!! Again, awesome playlist here :)

  48. Oh my. That pouty lip is precious, and would have me wrapped around a finger in a millisecond. Your girls and your life are so, so beautiful.

  49. While I initially took comfort in the “Welcome to Holland” poem…now, sometimes I think it makes WAAAY to big of a deal out of the differences btwn Holland and Italy and doesn’t show people the similarities. And the whole idea that you’ll be stuck in Holland and miss out on all the Italy fabulousness is just rediculous.

    As mothers, we choose whether we are going to be a parent in Italy, Holland, or even the Bahamas for that matter. We don’t always get to choose what get thrown our way in life, but we DO get to choose where we go with it. Way to go for getting out of your “stuck” place today.

  50. welcome to italy my friend.
    i’m pretty sure there is a constant flow of planes to and from … you’ll get around like you need to.
    and a package shall soon your way come … tomorrow morning. i’ll need to get out by then. (brrrr. though.)
    and pre-maternity pants? you are a rockstar.

  51. You know, I went to Italy last year – and guess what – as great as it is, as amazing the food, as romantic the streets – it’s not home. Family, your bed, your animals, your favorite mug – that is home. Italy is great to visit – and visit often – but it’s even better to be in the place you were meant to be, even if it’s not 100% what you dreamed – it’s still better than just being a visitor.

  52. Thank you for this post! I so needed this post for my own selfish reasons. I think that you are AMAZING! I strive to have an attitude such as yours. I love, love, love your blog and your photos push me to improve my photography skills. Thank you for your honesty. Your girls are so lovely – we have two little girls, aged 5 and 2. What a life it is!


  53. Since it seems everyone else gives you a little history, I feel like I should tell you I started reading a few weeks ago & your blog is like a great novel- I can’t put it down. I started from the beginning & fell in love with your beautiful daughter & your lovely stories. And your fantastic photography skills (as well as your friend, Heidi’s). I have found myself downloading songs that are playing on your blog & have listened non stop to the playlist I made from them. And I painted my nails this week. I guess you’ve inspired me! So thank you for that. And thank you for sharing your beautiful life & beautiful daughters. That pout face on Nella is beyond cute. I’m so thankful that I came across such a good story, and I’m always anxious to read your next chapter.
    In short (although this isn’t actually short at all) thank you, because reading your blog makes me get out of my ‘in a funk’ place. Enjoy Italy today, you deserve it.

  54. Your words and girls are so very beautiful. I look foward to reading your blogs and seeing your amazing photography. I’d love to pick your brain on how you get your pictures to look so perfect. Do you do much editing? Thanks for brightening my day!

  55. Love love love this post!

    I don’t love that you’ve been in a funk though. :( Glad you made it to Italy today. πŸ˜‰

    Beautiful pictures, as always. Nella’s pouty little lip is precious, and I adore Lainey’s hide-and-seek pictures.

    Since you’re going to be answering FAQS, maybe you can fit this one in? What does Brett do for a living? I just know he’s out of town alot. πŸ˜›

    Love, love, love <3

  56. i love your fighting spirit! your girls will benefit from that as much as your love and passion for finding beauty!

    PS could you list some of your favorite albums or singers? you always have the best songs on your blog!!!

  57. Beautifully put…as always. And that pouty lip makes me smile so hard that I laugh. What an absolute angel. I need to know where you find your strength, your energy and your positive attitude. Please share. You are an amazing woman Kelle..I am so happy to have “found” you. :)

  58. oh how I love the pouty lip! My baby girl does it too, but she’s almost a year and a half now and newborn pouty lip is just the best!

  59. I keep thinking everytime I read your blog, that I just don’t know what to say. You make everything look so beautiful and amazing. I have to admit that I think differently about down syndrome since reading your blog. You have an AMAZING outlook on life. I love it. I think we are a lot alike in how we think. Nella and Lainey are so so amazing. I too LOVE Nella’s pouty lip. Its just too cute!

    I have been reading your blog for the past 3 hours. I feel like a stalker but I just love it. Your pictures are amazing.

    I have a 4-year old boy named Dylan, and a 17 month old daughter named Elaina. And we call her Lani!
    I wish I could afford a camera like yours, but even though I can’t I will make with what I have and will take pictures of my life EVERYDAY! Thank you for that<3

  60. Love Nella’s pouty lip and Lainey’s bedhead. I am not sure how you do all that you do AND post these pictures, but keep it up!

  61. Enjoy Italy. And heck, as long as you’re out and about you might as well hit up the UK, or Australia, or even Africa. Just keep travelin’.

  62. LOVE Nella’s pouty lip those are always the greatest even though it seems mean to think they are cute when the baby is upset .

  63. “you will have good and bad days”

    I have two girls (grown now) and when they were little there were good and bad days. As long as there are children, parents will have good and bad days, whether they are special needs or not.

    Lainey is a sweetie, and Nella is so beautiful! I love the pictures of her.

    Hooray for your good day!!

  64. I haven’t been a reader for that long, but ever since I have stumbled across your blog, reading your words has inspired me to become a better mom. You are an inspiration. Your blogs are so full of emotion and honesty. Thank you for that. Your family has inspired my family to become better. Thank you.

  65. I love your honesty. Because, let’s admit it… we all have bad days or even bad weeks! You will get through this time and you will adjust and yes you can even go to Italy!!! ((HUGS))

  66. Nella’s pouty lip literally made me laugh out loud. Cutest. Thing. Ever!

  67. you know, you could ride the train from holland to italy, so you could show your kids the very beautiful european landscape:)
    and, when you travel over the alpes (cause that’s the right and PERFECT spot to get into italy) you can throw your wooden shoes out of the window….those mountain-people might need them:)


  68. Everyone of your posts inspire me to be a better person, a better mum, a better wife and to pick up my camera a lot more.
    This entry was beautiful. Welcome to Italy! x

  69. K, do you really live in Holland or am I not catching on????? *dumb founded* Your life is BEAUTIFUL and so are you and your girls!!! WOWIE!!! :)

  70. Hi there! I’ve been reading your blog after Jennifer Graff Groneberg linked me to it. I have a 5-year old princess who also has Down Syndrome. Those first few months are really hard as you wrap your head and your heart around the whole thing. These are the darkest days right now but let me tell you, the light is just around the corner. I can tell by your writing and how you are healing that you have an incredibly beautiful, strong soul. This will get better. Sorrow carves out a greater space for joy.

    You little Nella is going to change you in ways you never could imagine (in a good way). You will meet a slew of angels along your journey that had she not been in your life, you would never had known. She will bring you immeasurable joy, just as your Lainey has.

    On a sidenote, I read “Expecting Adam” in those first few months after Lauren was born. I would highly recommend it as well as “Roadmap to Holland.”

    Hang in there! Your girls are beautiful!


  71. My friend sent me a link to your blog and your writing has really touched me. What a fantastic mother you are! As a mother myself, with three small children with a chronic disease, life can be too much at times. But as our family has carried on in our own journey there are occasions where I can see things from a bigger picture…heavenly glimpses I suppose. And from our family’s struggles, I have come to believe that our challenges are what define our character. These hard trials have literally carved into my soul, changing its shape entirely, and are hopefully helping me to become a better person.
    Both your girls are beautiful. I have bookmarked your site and enjoy reading about your family. And when you find yourself struggling in wood shoes, try and remember that there are complete strangers (like myself) that think of you often and send you support from afar.

  72. “Mommy, do you think this will last forever?” This was a question asked by one of my daughters last night. And, might I add, that it was the end of a exhausting day, and even more frustrating week with my girls. Sadly, I know it won’t last forever. The newly painted, and newly chipped red nail polish, the first bite of lunch only to be interrupted by a sweet voice yelling “I went poopie” (also happens every time I jump on the elliptical, in case you were wondering), yelling from my twins bedroom “you aren’t my sister anymore”, the cuddles at storytime, the sweet kisses in the morning and all of the insanely frustrating and insanely wonderful moments of this life as a mom. A job that I cherish, but that I need reminding from time to time, of how quick these days pass.
    Just about done rambling, but I wanted to tell you that I love reading your blog and it helps inspire me to enjoy the small things. I wanted to share one of the “small things” in my day with you.

    Oh- and that question from one of my four year olds was actually in regards to the blinking light in her new pen. Kids.

  73. Love it all! What beautiful girls, what a great family. I really loved the other day how you pointed out that ALL kids take their parents to Holland, in one way or another. Keep travelin’ Momma!

  74. you rock!!!! what an amazing woman – with 2 very cute girls! :)

  75. The pout is what it’s all about! Nella has got it DOWN! Again, inspiring. I’m learning from you. I’m learning I need to let loose a little and let the day just come as it will. Tomorrow I will write down a schedule and then throw it in the trash. My girls will thank me.

  76. Your word are fuel for me. They feed my soul. I am always being inspired by your outlook on life. I feel a little bit of a kindrid connection. I can’t help but come back for more…no pressure or anything πŸ˜‰
    p.s incase you needed one more person to tell you, your girls are simply stunning. Albeit, it doesn’t hurt they have a momma who captures their little personalities and perfection so well.


  77. Hi Kelle,
    Great post! And great pics as always–love Nella’s pouty lip and Lainey blow drying her hair.
    I, like another commenter, wonder how you go about choosing and finding these songs that go so beautifully with your words and pictures.
    I hope to call you very soon and would like to come by to see you and your sweet Nella and Lainey. However, we will continue to wait until everyone is virus-free for a good week–haven’t had that for four weeks now!!
    You are doing great and may I say, you look fabulous even if you couldn’t keep those nails sexy red for long!
    Leslie L.

  78. Oh my sweetness… the picture of Lainey reading to Nella. Amazing and perfect and precious. ♥

  79. I love Italy and Holland equally. I haven’t been to either but windmills save energy and red wine is my favorite beverage. Wooden shoes are cute and pizza makes me swoon. The Dutch have Van Gogh and Rembrandt and the Italians have Artemisia Gentileschi and Carvaggio.

    I think tulips are as beautiful as the Alps. I wouldn’t want to live without either.

  80. I swear every post just gets better and better. I love your wooden shoes. You definitely are a ROCK STAR! And that first picture of Nella? She couldn’t be any cuter. I am so jealous of your photography skills and all the wonderful pics you have of your beautiful girls (and their parents). Morgan was born before the age of digital cameras (7 years ago) so I probably only have a few hundred from her first year. Not enough.

    I remember those first few weeks and for some reason not being able to finish getting ready while looking in the mirror. I always seemed to cry the most when I was looking at my reflection. Probably because I was focused on me and not Morgan. Worried about how her birth would change MY life and MY plans. It took me a few weeks to realize there was nothing to be sad about. I realized there are no guarantees with any child. It is up to each child to decide what their dreams and happiness will be. No matter what I may have planned or dreamed for them.

  81. Hi, I’m Sara from ITALY. Here we are waiting for you sweet Kelle. When you want, when you are ready.

    Kisse, Sara Edoardo and Carlo.

  82. Hi, I’m Sara from ITALY. Here we are waiting for you sweet Kelle. When you want, when you are ready.

    Kisse, Sara Edoardo and Carlo.

  83. you never fail to put a smile on my face, and help me make my own exit from a personal H***and (Holland – no pun intended).

  84. You’re an inspiration! In fact, you’ve inspired me to buy a camera I have coveted for some time and start taking pictures of life…life as I see it. So thank you! And enjoy Italy…may you stay there for as long as you want!!

  85. Is it any coincidence that Nella Fantasia is, in fact, Italian? I think not!

  86. Your girls are beautiful! I always paint my nails at night when watching TV before bed and then make my dh do all menial child related tasks! :)

  87. Nella is the most beautiful baby girl I have ever seen. Her face is the picture of heaven, truly. Thank you for sharing again.
    I love reading everyone else’s comments too…I feel like this is one big happy family! :)

  88. I need to find you the “recreated” Welcome to Holland that is titled something to the effect of Welcome to Disneyland…you will get there…you will see! I also recommend reading my friend and fellow blogger’s Open Letter to Parents Facing a Diagnosis of Down Syndrome…it’s excellent…
    Wherever you travel, it’s true…you aren’t alone. We’re here with you!

  89. That baby is exquisite-that is the only word for her.

  90. That first pic of Nella is to die for! And I love that I can see you in the glare of her eyes!

    Just like we all knew you would, you are rocking this out in true Kelle style. I love it. There’s only one thing I don’t buy: you read Lainey her birthstory without crying? No way. Not in a million years. Don’t believe it!

  91. Giving you a standing ovation. And a big hug. The girls are sooo beautiful! :)

  92. Wow! I’m in the top 100! :)

    Nella just keeps getting cuter every day! The pouty lip is killer! How do you stand it?!

    Thanks for sharing your journey to Holland. . . or Italy. . . or wherever you, Brett and your babies go. :)

  93. I loved your post today and I’ll go to Italy with you and your beautiful girls anytime. The pouty lip is so darn cute!!! I love how you did that shot of Lainey playing hide and seek!!!! You are an awesome mom those girls will love that you took all those pictures so that they can go back and see their life in your pictures!!!!!!

  94. I think people are uncomfortable with Holland because they don’t know anything about it… they weren’t expecting it, weren’t prepared, perhaps they’ve heard some negative stories about Holland and they are afraid.

    But you are pushing through your fear…and replacing it with what you know best – LOVE.

    Someone said it before:
    “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear … “

    You are going to receive a million pieces of advice from a million people. Stick to what’s simple – love, love, love like crazy and you’re promised nothing but joy…and Italy.

    You and only you are in control of your destiny, your life, your perspective. There is beauty and security in knowing U can go to Italy any day you choose…and bring your girls, your pups and your hubs with U:)

  95. I came across your blog through a website I frequent. We’ve been “in Holland” for a bit over a year now. We finally got our why and I’m right back into that feeling that I don’t want to have. I have to tell you that your girls are beautiful and it will get better!

  96. I don’t know how you capture all these moments. You are amazing. Please come live in my house when I have kids and capture our lives!! I am SO impressed and in awe of you :-)

  97. Just had to add how much I love how so many of us “love love love” all that you do…so many posts with a “love love love”…I LOVE LOVE LOVE that! And as always God bless hon!

  98. You are amazing- in general! Your writing is inspiring, your photography skills are beyond comprehension, your children are so adorable & happy, you are gorgeous…I mean come on…how can you let a measly extra chromosome get you down when you have all those other things?! Have a GREAT weekend πŸ˜‰

  99. you make badass totally sexy. Way to rock it.

  100. Love the post; love the shoes. But do tread lightly. I say this from experience. I had cute shoes with wooden heels once. And I managed to twist my ankle, flail about, yell … well, a profanity … and end up on all fours … in the middle of a shopping district … at the height of a women’s conference. I was surrounded by witnesses, gaping in horror. Yeah, good times …

  101. I always SMILE when you have a new post. Your pics are beyond amazing as are your girls!! Wooden shoes will give you killer calves, btw…;)

  102. I would venture to say with your amazing outlook and fabulous ability to love not only will you visit Italy you will OWN it!!
    I find myself checking back every hour to see if you’ve updated… you brighten my day and clearly do the same for so many others!!
    And, your girls… nothing I can really say that you don’t already know, but I’ll throw my two cents in and say they are BREATHTAKING!! love the smiles AND the pouty lip!!

  103. I was thinking of you the other day and thought the same thing that someone else just mentioned on here…Nella Fantasia-is Italian! Perhaps not as coincidental as you may have first thought…:)
    Another little peek into your wonderfully crazy and oh so REAL life as a Mom. Thank you for sharing everything with us and I am really looking forward to you next post!
    Til then,
    Ciao Bella!
    Allison in Australia x

  104. OH, how I love those pics! The pouty face with the bubbles… that one’s my fave!

  105. All I have to say is, that first picture of Nella…she’s breathtakingly exquisite.

  106. Me and my four girls live in Italy, we go to Holland when we need to! Enjoying your blog. Andrea, CA

  107. I love your blog and your photos. I’m a first generation Italian-American–Nella is a super-Italian nickname, did you know that? Her name is so perfect for her!!! Enjoy! Your girls are beautiful!

  108. Rock the clogs, girl. Oh, and hint for a baby and kid proof manicure: Seche Vite top coat, available at Target, Ulta, and Sally Beauty supply. You put that stuff on, and I swear to you 1 minute later you can change a poopy diaper without fear.

    You’re a rock star. Rock on.

  109. That has to be one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen. (beside my own of course)

    Glad you escaped to Italy for a while.


  110. Kelle,
    I love your blog. Thank you for your tremendous honesty. Your writing is so inspiring.

    I and several moms I know have or have had children with trisomy 13 and 18. Relatively speaking, Downs is a walk in the park. With tri 13 and 18 we wonder if our children might walk one day; we know that they won’t talk and for that matter, there is no guarantee that they will be alive from week to week. But we love without bounds, and without judgement because we know that we must live to the fullest each day. What we wouldn’t give to have your Nella who promises to walk and talk and live long enough to fill many, many photograph albums. You are truly blessed.

  111. Mind if I join you in Italy??? (;
    Send my love… And Prayers —Lexi!

  112. For every not-so-happy day(s), the next happy day is doubly happy! It all catches up to you, girlfriend! Go easy on yourself, know that while it may be an unknown road on which you are traveling, you have lots of people who love you keeping you off the guardrails! WE LOVE YOU OUT HERE IN BLOGLAND!! Really, YOU ROCK, Momma Kelle!

  113. I recently came across your blog and love it!! Could your girls be any cuter??!! And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that pouty lip!!!
    Sending happy and peaceful vibes your way…

  114. I wrote this a long long time ago. Hope you see why your post reminded me:

    I learned to grieve the baby I had expected, the nurses had all told me this was healthy if not imperative, to forget the things I had imagined and remake my dreams. And so I watched through tears as the sweet, curly-haired girl of my dreams walked away in search of a mommy who didnt have old eggs. I wouldnt know, till many years later, that letting her go was a mistake, that love could merge those 2 little girls into one, and that by writing off the child I dreamed of, I was allowing myself to be controlled by fear. In many ways, I see Ciarra as a twin, one is the healthy typical child with a normal component of chromosomes. The other is a fiery go-getter with 47 chromosomes and a huge drive to succeed. But they are the same child, wrent only by the longings of their mother to fit them into a mold that society accepted. By letting go of the vision of a smart girl who could do anything she tried to do, I shortchanged her. I was constantly surprised, and shocked at myself for it. Why was it a big deal that she potty trained at age 2? Because kids with DS dont DO that? They dont whistle, either, and shes been doing that for years at the ripe old age of 5. She does have Down syndrome, it is in every delicate feature on her beautiful face. But now I have come to love these features, to see true beauty in every part of her that labels her different. But with every new thing she tries and succeeds at, my heart hurts. Pride and fury walk side by side, she is so much brighter than they told me to expect. Why did I listen to people whose own prejudices made them create a future for a child who should have been allowed to make her own? Arent I prejudiced too, to be so surprised at every new and exciting thing she does? Why shouldnt I expect it? Why was it so painful and wonderful at the same time to hear my 5 year old read me Eric Carle on her 4th day of Kindergarten? Because I allowed myself to believe that she wouldnt, couldnt reach milestones we take for granted with other kids. Why do we let ourselves be convinced that the babies we give birth to must be chased away like ghosts? Why cant we have and love both children, the expected and the bonus? Who makes the rules here anyway? I have discovered that I let myself be convinced for a moment that Ciarra was the less-than version of the child I wanted, and that was a disservice to her. She is all that I imagined and more.

  115. Thinking of you today in your travel to Italy, may your stay be long. You will find that Holland has it’s good days, too.

    The girls are beautiful, as always, and Nella’s pouty lip and flower hat are amazing.

    Chin up Kelle, you can do it!

  116. Oh man the three of you are beautiful! Love the pouty lip, and the super-fabulous blow-drying skills, and for the record, I couldn’t put my pre baby pants on my ARM let alone my body! Thanks for the update! Sending my prayers your way.

  117. Your girl’s are just so heavenly, I am sure they make everyday so worthwhile–the good and bad days. Photos are adorable as always. Hugs to you. –Jen

  118. So loving the first pic with that gorgeous flower layette cap!!!! That would make a stunning canvas!!

    Happy days for you ahead:)

  119. Such beauty. Thanks for the breath of inspiration.

  120. So appropriate… “Leave your comment”… I do and have wanted to leave one! I absolutely adore your posts. You and I are so similar, but you document it so much more beautifully then I do :) Everyone has challenges that they face sooner or later. For some of us it’s early on with our children, for others later… life is constantly unexpected. I almost lost my first daughter twice in her short life. I remember thinking the first time as I was running with her into the childrens hospital… why am I running?.. shes gone.. what did I do wrong? why me? Thankfully she is still with us, I got a second chance… and she is a beautiful, intelligent… funny… full of life 5 year old that amazes me every day. Of course everyday is not perfect… siblings fight, there are temper tantrums, fatigue… all the usual stuff… but at the end of the day… I am so thankful that each one is so unique in their own way… and mostly that they are here, with me on this journey that is our life! Your family is soooo beautiful. Nella is stunningly beautiful. Honestly! You are lucky beyond belief in my eyes… because you see the beauty in your own life. You are able see it, feel it, breath it and enjoy it! Some people have everything and never understand that part. We don’t know why we are given certain challenges in this life, but I know going through what I went through, that I just wanted the family that I had and knew regardless of the conditions. My husband always tells me that the challenges that you are given as a child just make you stronger as a person. He speaks from his own experience. Nella is an Angel. Your family has already done great things because of Nella. You have inspired the rest of us to take more time to see the beauty! I probably never would have read this blog had it not been for Nella. I think you are incredibly lucky to have that precious little angel in your life.

  121. I’ve been really enjoying reading about your journeys with your two beautiful girls. As pretty much everyone else has said, you’re so inspiring! I’m a fairly green early interventionist, so hearing your story has really given me perspective of the families that I work with. I was actually just re-reading the “Welcome to Holland” story the other day thinking about giving it to one of my families. I might just refer them here instead. Just keep on loving those beautiful girls of yours and I’m sure you’ll have a great time in “Italy”!

  122. OH and btw, I saw the pic of the clogs, and boy did you EVER cut up your ankles whilst shaving this morning…. πŸ˜‰ KIDDING!

  123. I can’t get over the first picture!

  124. oh that pouty lip. she just gets cuter and cuter. love that lainey reads to nella.

    as for Holland – screw it. yup, i’m comin’ to smuggle you out. We are going to Milan to get you some NEW SHOES!!!! :)

  125. FAQ…what bottles do you use? LOVE them!

  126. I just wanted to say that Nella is just about the luckiest little girl in the world to have a mother like you (as is Lainey). I like to think that we are destined to have the children that we do and I truly believe that is the case with you and Lainey and Nella. You’re doing such an amazing job with both. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  127. Dang, we are on the same world tour! Hugs to your family. Love: Maddox’s mom

  128. i used to have a pair of wood-soled shoes and EVERY time i took them off at the end of the day i felt like i had the world’s flattest feet. odd sensation :)

  129. :) Hey! I’m a new reader and thought I’d give you a little hello…

    I found you through another blog, and when I read your post about Nella’s birth, I sat there and cried and cried with you, hurt for you, rejoiced for you, felt for you. I also completely fell in love with your little darling from the very first photos… :)

    I’ve read every entry since. It makes me smile every time. Seeing you all smile, be real, and the strength that you show just makes me so proud of you, even though I have never even met you. I love how you told Holland to screw off today. :) Holland is fine, but when you want to spread your wings and fly with your girls to Italy, France, or the Congo, Do it!! :) Big hugs to you. You inspire me…

  130. I happened across your blog a few weeks ago and read it from beginning to end. You have a wonderful outlook on life and I find your blog to be so inspiring. Your girls are beautiful, your words are uplifting, and your attitude is admirable. Just taking a moment to say hi. :)

  131. Booya…you made it to Italy!
    Love love love ya girlie….and I especially love the pictures of you and your girls :-)
    I love your playlist…I often turn my computer on and go to your blog just to listed to the music in the background as I clean house and play w/ my boys.
    You are one of a kind… and truly an inspiration….I have so much respect for you. Have a beautiful weekend w/ your family!

  132. thank you… i try to type it is hard to see the keys thru my tears…you are the mom we all strive to be someday….you are the most honest person i think that has ever walked the earth…thank you…my life feels richer now knowing your journey….and judging from the years of blogs (that yes i have read all of them today!) your journey will be an amazing and inspirational journey for all the people that read your blog…all of us that are learning about unconditional love from you, nella, lainey and your amazing family….thank you for making my life richer and thank you for choosing nella…she didnt just choose you, you chose her…thank you kelle, thank you nella…my heart swells……

  133. also i forgot to add, not tears of saddness…not even close…

  134. Hi. You may never see this comment. I dunno. But my sister told me to read your blog and I am…and I am crying because your girls are lovely….and that Nella smiling?…well, that just broke me to a million pieces. Thank you for such lovely writings and pictures. It is appreciated.


  135. I have started to follow your blog – having received the one about Nella’s birth story. I am finding that I look forward to your beautiful pictures and your words of wisdom . . .makes me take a look at my life and realize how wonderful it is – whether in Holland, Italy or plain ol’ Illinois! I have a 2 yr old lil girlie myself named Addyson. She is such a joy to me and reading your blogs make me realize too that I need to enjoy every little minute – and not sweat the small stuff! Your girlies are beautiful! Thanks! From: Amy in Illinois;)

  136. Hugs mama! Bad days suck!

    I feel so unoriginal by saying I love the pouty lipped Nella, but I do! That is one of the cutest little faces!

    Here is hoping that tomorrow is filled with lots of rainbows from the tears that were shed today!

  137. This comment has been removed by the author.

  138. I remember reading that poem after Sara was born and thinking, “You mean I’m stuck here??”. Turns out, 18 years later, I wasn’t. We did “normal” and we did “not so normal”. Turns out I had a Euro-rail pass all along.

    You do too : )

  139. Hi Kelle, I too follow your blog (like it’s my job!) It is so pretty to look at and your girls are beautiful (and of course you and your hubby are as well!!)I am a mom of a DS boy who is 6 months. You and I have very different stories, I chose this. We were on a list to adopt a Down Syndrome baby. With that said I have so much compassion for you and what you are going through because in my life I have had heartbreak. Beautiful, wonderful, agonizing heartbreak. I can only offer this. When you hold Nella, or look at her or smell her wonderful baby smell, go with what you feel. She melts your heart wide open. When our brains get in the way of our hearts we begin to waver from what we know deep down. Nella will offer you precious gifts that noone else can offer….the main one is to live life in that moment without allowing the “whats gonna happen’s??” to someohow sneak in.
    Both of your girls are special and unique…..look at you…youre like this amazing/fabulous woman with a ton of fire. Nella will grow up knowing that fire, knowing that strength. Our 12 year old son has shifted from an uncaring/unaffected tween to a softy. Its a cool trip. Again F*!K Holland….your life, your babies, your trip….take it to the limits!

  140. Honestly, I have never seen such a happy newborn as Nella. That girl smiles like she found the most perfect family on earth for her and is so happy to be with them. Okay, maybe she still doesn’t like baths, but still, she always looks so darn happy!!!!

  141. ok, i’m going to sound like a broken record here, but love LOVE LOVE that pouty lip!!!!! it’s too much!

  142. You go girl! As you know, Life WILL give you lemons, and you’re whipping them into some damn-fine lemonade! PINK lemonade! In sugar-rimmed glasses! With crazy straws! Anyhoo…

    Has anyone told you yet how sweet and cute and awesome the Pouty Lip is? Naw, didn’t think so. When it’s not the middle of the night and I’m trying to get a few minutes’ sleep, I actually get a laugh outta watching my little man get upset – the pouty lip and build-up that precedes the cryfest.

    If nothing else, you should be totally psyched about fitting into those linen pants. I don’t think I’ll ever see my prepregger size again. *sigh*

    BTW – I painted my girl’s nails silver yesterday, and she loved it. Didn’t even bother with my own.

    Precious pictures, as always.

  143. I am in awe of your blog…your brutal honesty and the way you tell your story! Truly amazing! Thank you for sharing your life with strangers – and making each of us a better person and mom by challenging us to be as honest with ourselves.

    Oh, and your photos are breathtaking!

    Thank you!

  144. You have such gorgeous babies – adorable! I am quite a new follower to your blog and i love it! I love your honesty and your photos are stunning. The babies are lucky to have such a lovely mommy x

  145. Dear Kelle! You know what they say here in Holland? If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t Much!!!! In about 2 weeks I will bring you real Dutch wooden shoes. Not for you (you hate them:)), but for your girls. 1 pair for Nella and 1 pair for Lainey.
    With love from gorgious Holland! Francien (your dad’s Dutch friend)

  146. So glad to hear you got out of your rut!! That is an amazing feat somedays!! Hugs to you and your little girls!! I love your blogs and hope you write them for years to come.

  147. for 10 years Holland has been our home with stops all over the world. These years have been amazing and because our Abigail has a big sister named Elizabeth she always wants to do so much more which I think helps us to go to other lands. I believe that at times she is the gatekeeper to where we go. In the early years, I had many ups and downs and asked many times why did we go to holland, but in time I have found it to be a priviledge. She has opened our eyes and many eyes around us to life.

    She experiences things like no one else.

    I look everyday for more from you for your words and you pictures are amazing. you say and capture all that I have experienced over the last ten years.

    Thank you.

  148. love the hide behind the tree pics!
    we had a great time down by the lake. peyton and becks keep asking if they can play with the green slime again;0

  149. oh kelle…that first picture is one of my all time favorites…love the girls reading together too. push that negative nancy right out the door and smile and think all those happy thoughts. reading your blog and your friendship does that for me! hope you guys are staying warm this weekend. xo

  150. I guess we all visit Holland occasionally. Sometimes the visits are longer than others. But it is always good to get home….where we love and ARE loved. Welcome home. It’s a good place. a really good place.

  151. Oh little Nella…Poppa was thinkin’ ’bout ya’ today. So tiny, yet you have stretched out big parts of hearts you have never met. And you have freshened parched hearts with tears never cried before. You have inspired parents to hug more…to tiptoe into dark bedrooms just to look at their little gifts again…to endure with joy their screams and skirmishes. Your pouty lips kissed a mom in Italy and brought a smile in Australia. Wooden shoes are on their way to you…and like Cinderella preparing for the ball, they will fit. And you will take Holland to places far away who too will say, with Franciene, “If it’s not Dutch, it’s not much!” It is cold today in Michigan, but you warm my heart and I love you so. I miss you and your family. I want to feel you on my chest again when we both fall to sleep with our dreams. Big dreams. You will see. You will see.

  152. G o r g e o u s !

  153. Kelle,

    I say screw Holland AND Italy. Fill your passport with other stamps.

    I have followed your lead and am now taking my camera with me everywhere I go. You’ve inspired me to capture every moment.

    Sending oodles of love and happy vibes your way!


  154. Love it!

  155. I just love reading your blog! I found it about a month ago. I especially love your photographs. They are gorgeous to say the least. You are so blessed to have such beautiful little girls in your life!

  156. seriously cute girls! that Nella-so precious!!!! love Lainey reading to Nella! thanks for sharing so much!

  157. I love the photos, the music, yes to red nail polish, to trips to Italy, to getting inspiration from the little things.



  158. All is well, good days and bad days. It’s all OK :)

    As you know, in life, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. What causes suffering is our attachments: to our thoughts, to the stories we tell ourselves about what happened or what will happen. By learning to let go, we can find peace and contentment in the present moment. By embracing what it IS, we find our path to freedom~

    “By teaching us to include all of our selves -courage and fear, celebration and pain, expansiveness and limitation- love helps us become both tough and tender at the same time.” John Welwood

  159. Hi Kelle,
    Your blog inspires me to be a better mom and to suck the life out of each moment with my beautiful daughter. I’ve had more tea parties, baked more cookies, had more fun dressing up, painted more pictures, and taken more pictures since reading your blog. Your honesty about where you are, no matter where it is, is bringing out the best in me.

  160. You get a standing ovation from me!!!!!!!! Love your “tyrade”!

    And what your “poppa” said in his comments above touched my heart! I see where you get your exceptional writing skills from… Makes me look forward to Lainey & Nella’s writing one day…
    And he’s so right! I’ve always known my girls are a special gift but since reading your blog I’ve hugged them longer, squeezed them tighter and filled their faces with smooches every chance I get!
    Do you realize how many people you touch each post you write?!?! Amazing!

  161. The image of you paddling on a dinghy with your girls strapped to your back had me laughing and cheering for you at the same time. Who says you can’t go to Italy?! Not me, that’s for sure!

  162. I love the pillow that Nella is laying on whilst being read to… where is it from? Beautiful post!

  163. Love all the new pics. LOVE what your dad wrote. Love how you did up those wooden shoes! Way to bring some style to Holland!

    Sending love and hugs to you all.

  164. I don’t know if anyone has sent you this link yet, but if not, I think you’d like to see it.

    A lady with 4 boys with DS (1 by birth, 3 by adoption) had a Mother’s Day photo album a few years ago where moms sent in pictures with their kids with DS. It’s grown since then and is added to all the time. It’s great because the kids are all different ages/races.

    Anyways, here it is!

  165. LOVE the pic of Nella in the tub! That expression, the attitude: beautiful!

  166. Here is another FAQ… How do you always get such beautiful shots with your girls? Is someone there to photograph you, or do you set up a timer?

    Love your blog.

  167. This comment has been removed by the author.

  168. she is so precious.. that little pouty lip and her precious curious little face! I am very grateful i found your blog.. It makes me strive to be a better mama :)

  169. Kelle,
    Two days after a less-than-ideal ultrasound that revealed not just a complete previa but also some soft markers for down syndrome, I came across your blog. The tears rolled down my cheeks as I read Nella’s beautiful birth story. I cannot begin to tell you how much your words, pictures and the music on your blog have inspired me throughout the last few weeks. While I wait for the level 2 ultrasound this coming Monday, I can’t help wondering if I’m going to be disappointed if our little girl comes out with a normal set of chromosomes! Your family’s story has softened the hearts of many who’ve never met you…I can’t imagine how those two little girls have softened you and your husband. What an awe-inspiring gift God has given us through your life and artistic talents! Thank you for taking us to Holland, Italy, and everywhere in between.

    By the way, I love seeing how much Nella is chunking up! And that pouty lip is just too much!

  170. I know so many other’s have said it…..

    Nelly’s pouty lip is priceless!

  171. Oh Pouty Lip, how I love you so!

    And welcome back to Italy. Hope you enjoy your looong stay. (;

  172. what gorgeous girls – all 3 of you! Love the family pic with them on your lap but especially love the big sister reading to baby sister ohhh be still my beating heart
    Precious times
    You take beautiful photos x

  173. Wow.

    I came across a link to nella’s birth story and have now spent the last hour and a half getting to know you and your gorgeous little family.

    I think you are the bravest person I know.

    Your words are amazing, your pictures beyond gorgeous.

    I cried, shamelessly, my heart broke for you, but then in reading the last months posts I’m so amazingly proud of you.

    Just wow.

    Ive got no wisdom, but I think you’ve got that sorted anyway.

    You are brave. And Nella and Lainey are blessed to have such an amazing mother.

  174. Yeah, BABY YEAH! You go girl. You are a frickin rockstar… only your children are far more gorgeous than celebrity children!

    At some point you may decide to give up on Italy and build your own country. That’s what we’ve done. We got sick of all the traveling and decided that we’d start somewhere fresh with our own customs. Sure, I take a travel back to Holland as each birthday creeps up and reminds me how my daughter would be celebrating if she was born there instead of in our country. However, for the most part? I like our customs best. I like the fact that three year olds in our land don’t run away and scream “NO.” I love that since my daughter is more interested in the beats of songs than the lyrics we get to blast “My Humps” until she’s giggling senseless. Really, things are pretty awesome here… even if visitors are a bit off put by the “machines” my daughter uses to sit, stand, and “walk” … they get used to it and luckily she has a smile that yanks them right in and makes them not want to even mention what Holland is like.
    Nella has that too. I’ve never met her and her bright shiny light makes me so happy that she is exactly who she is… even on the days it gets hard :) You’ve got two amazing little tourists. I’m grateful you are their guide :)

  175. If we ever make it to Rome together… can I treat you to a fig gelato at Gelarmony?

  176. I live in Holland…for real….I find it amusing that you write about Holland the way you do. Its really not a bad place you know and we don’t all wear wooden shoes and live in windmills. I am actually English and married to a Dutch guy.
    I am curious where the analogy comes from? Anyone?
    I love your blog and visit it regularly. Your girls, your journey, the way you write and your photography are amazing.

  177. Kelle,

    I saw a mention of your blog on a Mama Blog I love (, and I spent an embarrassing amount of time reading your blog yesterday…and last night… I couldn’t stop. Your story is absolutely amazing. You’re gorgeous, your writing is gorgeous, and your family is GORGEOUS. I love weddings, babies, kids, blended families that work, photography, little dogs, ice cream… And not to mention all the clothes. :) LITTLE GIRL CLOTHES!!!!!!!

    Thank you for what you do,

  178. Hey – just remember “Welcome to Holland” was the experience of someone who had her baby almost 40 years ago! None of us are banished to another country anymore. Sure, there will be differences between Nella and Lainey and what you will need to do as a mother to help them reach their potential, but judging from your pictures, they live in a wonderful place already – why not stay there?

    A link to Welcome to Holland for the previous poster, Sophie- it’s a very famous essay that is well known to parents who have children with special needs..

    I actually think it’s a beautiful analogy.


  179. you rock my world.

    that’s it. nothin left to say. :)

  180. poppa…do you have a blog of your own? i just absolutely love your comments…everything you write has so much purpose whether it’s silly humour or something deeply profound…your words move me. please point me to a book of yours or a blog of your own? i’d love to hear more from u. -G

  181. My Matthew will be 8 in a few weeks. Sometimes we’re in Holland and sometimes we’re in Italy. But I love him and he does make the world a better place!
    Nella (and Lainey) is (are) beautiful!
    And lucky to have you for a mom! :)

  182. Oh my gosh…love the wooden shoes! But you’re right – OUCH!@@
    How do people wear those things, anyway? High heels, even the most higheset of heels, do not compare to that torture;) LOL


  184. hey kelle, was thinking about holland and italy and couldn’t help but think maybe all moms think they are going to italy but end up elsewhere. maybe holland, maybe iceland. i think i landed somewhere in russia that’s hard to get out of. just recently i felt like i found a tour bus and am seeing the surrounding areas. i know i don’t have 2 children or a child with down syndrome, but i like your analogy. motherhood takes us all sorts of crazy places and luckily for you i think you’re gonna tour the world before too long.

  185. I came across your blog the other day on a forum, and I have fallen in love with this little family of yours. Your pictures & your words are incredible – I literally told my husband that if I could 1/2 the woman you are, I would be happy. You are such an inspiration, and I come back everyday to see what you all have been up to. Thank you for sharing your life – it’s beautiful.

  186. Anonymous says:

    Nella keeps getting more beautiful by the day. Holland isn’t a bad place at all. I have no doubt that you will be spending lots of time in Italy though. You are inspirational!


  187. No words can even tell you how much your blog has meant to me since I’ve discovered it . Obviously I am in good company, your words, photos, girls and Poppa are so beautiful!! Poppa is so right that you are making us all hug our own babies tighter and a bit longer, and sneak in to kiss htem goodnight one more time. All I can say is thank you for the daily dose of beauty and the reminder to cherish all the little things!!

  188. Anonymous says:

    i feel as if we are dear friends, lost between state lines. i’m certain that you are my long lost best friend. :o)

  189. Anonymous says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I must say it is wonderful, so well written, expressive, and the photos are beautiful. Your family is a treasure and I am so happy for little Nella, who is so darling by the way, that she has you as her mom as I just know that because of you, she is going to take the world by storm. I can’t wait to watch.

  190. So the other night I read ‘Setback’ as my children slept.

    I cried. And cried.

    And the music…. I cry more.

    Then, I had to read the Holland poem, and while it makes this post totally hillarious, I still cried.

    The pouty lip picture… I could not help but cry. Happy tears, but still tears.

    I struggle so often, as many Mom’s do. But there is something about your blog that brings me to a different place. A place where I do not yell at 4 yr olds throwing chalk at the living room walls, and one sweet 4 yr old cutting the cord to his twin brothers brand new birthday gift- remote control bulldozer. And I have not even raised my voice at the 10 year old who keeps telling on his little brothers for every annoying thing they do.

    Again, Nella’s pouty lip… love it!

  191. You are so real and just so dang awesome. It’s so cool to read you verbalize so much of what I (a parent of a 4 month old baby with DS) am feeling. I am addicted to your blog. Oh and your family is gorgeous. You make beautiful babies!

  192. When my son was born and we were told he had Down syndrome, I felt like we were in Holland….a place we hadn’t planned on going and didn’t necessarily want to be. But, in time, I have realized that we aren’t in Holland – we’re still in Italy. But instead of going to Rome or Venice, like most tourists do, we get to go to Portofina and Vercelli – which are just as beautiful but with fewer visitors!

  193. I have only been reading for a few weeks…But your blog is like a old book I just cant put down!! Your words, your photos, your girls! You are truly blessed, and I for having you share this journey with me!!

  194. Anonymous says:

    ,,,,entitled “she” is thinking,,,pouty lips are good (smile)

  195. Switch to toenail polish Kelle. As the mom of four now almost grown sons I can tell you it lasts way longer and you can still feel girly.

  196. Kristin says:

    I just have to say that you have an incredibly beautiful family. I’ve been following your blog for about a month now, and the beauty of your children and yourself never ceases to amaze me. I don’t know being in wooden shoes feels like, but let’s just say that I’ve experienced the plastic kind that leave blisters on your toes. DS was born premature and has been hospitalized many times in the past month, and I do know what it’s like to live in the moment and live each day at a time. You are an amazing woman with a tremendous amount of passion. I love your blog. Both of your daughters are adorable. I have always wanted to adopt a baby with D.S. because my mom’s best friend’s daughter has it and as long as you have your daughter’s in your life, you will always have sunshine, even on rainy days. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for sharing your family.

  197. OMG! Where are Lainey’s footie pajamas from? I love them!

    You rock, by the way. I love reading all your fabulous posts. Your strength astounds me!

  198. Oh myyyyyy, both of your girls are absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

    However, I want to take your new little wee one and run away with her! She is a DOLL!

  199. I have to say that that poem never really rang true for e – but 5 years on – Hooland in all its woodiness is looking pretty good. I have a foot in either camp – like you do – and it is like that – a foot in each camp… both are different and great, Holland – is a little special – maybe it’s the view of those dykes…

  200. Thanks for the explanation about ‘Holland” Now I get it πŸ˜‰

  201. Sia “Breathe Me”…such good wallowing music if the mood or occassion allows. So much better than Play That Funky Music White Boy πŸ˜‰

  202. Oh & I think you might like the video if you haven’t already seen it

  203. Hey, good for you for going back to Holland! Three years later, and I am determined to find a nice little part of the Italian Countryside (I gave in on the villa in Rome) to call home. This life is what we make it, and from the looks of it–your life seems pretty wonderful. Hang in there!

  204. Kelle – I just found your blog and it made me smile. I am a preschool special education teacher and have seen “Welcome to Holland” many times. Thank you so much for putting your thoughts out into the world. Just remember that you are not in Holland (or Italy) alone, and that everyone will LOVE your beautiful daughter Nella for the child she is. Stay strong, rockstar!

  205. The picture of Lainey blow drying her own hair is AMAZING, cutest picture ever.

  206. You have such a wonderful eye for what is beautiful in life. Your girls both have such beautiful eyes. And Nella…she kills me. Her cute little expressions, baby rolls…heaven!

  207. So, I just got here from another blog and it’s possible I Love You….okay, that’s creepy, sorry :) I love Italy….been there….need to get back….on soooo many levels!!!

  208. So, I just got here from another blog and it’s possible I Love You….okay, that’s creepy, sorry :) I love Italy….been there….need to get back….on soooo many levels!!!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>