Today was one of those days.
Where wacked-out hormones blend with exhaustion, the tail-end of sickness and an incredibly emotional month to brew this lovely shade of gray.

I knew these setbacks would come. And I cried. And slept. And struggled to be patient and hide my pain from my little blonde free-spirit who wanted to read books and water flowers.

I dreaded Nella’s afternoon doctor appointment today because I thought the onslaught of info would begin…the hardships, the differences, the therapy, the scary things I didn’t want to hear.

I cried on the phone with my sister on the way there. And then Lainey fell asleep in the car and I forgot the stroller and I couldn’t bear waking up her tired little soul for her little sister’s appointment. So, I schlepped her sleeping body over my shoulder, twisting uncomfortably to keep her head from falling and balancing a diaper bag and carseat with 7 pounds and 4 ounces of baby in the other arm. And then I walked through a parking lot, breathing heavy and chanting to the rhythm of my jeweled sandals hitting the pavement…I’m a rockstar. I’m a rockstar. I’m a rockstar.

In the midst of my pain and sadness in life, my sarcasm often brews. I usually don’t mean what I say, but I say it because it feels good and the wit it takes to concoct something halfway funny and caustic distracts the part of my brain that feels pain. And because I’m sad, I usually don’t feel guilty for biting satire.

Which is why I didn’t feel bad when I said “F#@! Holland” today or “I hate wooden shoes.”

My sister always says exactly the right thing when I call her crying. She knows when to cry with me and she knows when I need to stop. Today, my Obi Won had good things to say.

“The very first line in The Road Less Traveled,” she told me, “says…

Life is Difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

Oh, the truth.

And, though I may have cursed wooden shoes and Holland, I came to the realization that, in any parenting situation, there are a thousand Holland situations. And a thousand Italys too. (Warning: Going into far-fetched Analogy Zone. Hang on.) And there’s air traffic control monitoring this constant stream of flights, for any given child, that take off and land in both the beautiful expected and the unknown lands where we must search for beauty. Perfectly “normal” children with 46 chromosomes take their parents to Holland. When girls grow up and tell their moms they aren’t having children, thus crushing grandchild dreams. When boys choose art over football and disappoint their fathers. When children move away and don’t come home for Christmas. When girls become teenagers and slam doors and call their mothers b-words.

And who says Nella will never take me to Italy? I feel like she already has…when she’s breathing heavy on my chest at night and the weight of her tightly-jammied body sinks right into my soul and I smile thinking, “this is just like Lainey.” When she takes her first steps someday. When she says ‘mama’ or ‘I love you’ or reads her first book out loud.

It’s just a mess of flights and destinations for every child…some good, some bad…but that’s parenthood. Period.

Our doctor appointment ended up going beautifully. Not daunting or scary at all. I smiled and told Dr. Foley it didn’t seem any different than Lainey’s one month appointment. Sure, we talked about steps ahead, but they don’t scare me. And we are fortunate to have a pediatrician who delivers all this information happily…like a mom…like someone who cares but knows that deep down inside, we just want to love her and enjoy her. It felt like Italy.

Thank you, Laura Weber for our new hat! We love our hats!

Setbacks come and go, and we move on. Because Life is difficult…but I’m accepting that and already…it doesn’t seem so bad.

On days like these, I get excited to go to sleep at night…to snuggle between the girls, feel the weight of newborn on my chest and know that tomorrow is a perfectly blank slate. We can walk to the lake, have a tea party in the yard, paint and color and bake. Tomorrow, it will be Italy.

(Thank you to the person who so kindly sent this beautiful hat we received today for our bunny. Wish we knew who it was from!)

And, for the record, I still hate wooden shoes.
…but I love tulips.

…and her birth announcement:



Leave a Comment
  1. Yup. There’ll be days like this. And it’s OK to feel the things you’re feeling. On bad days, I always refer to my favorite quote,
    “Hope rises with the sun each day. Remember, it’s even behind the clouds.”
    The birth announcement is really lovely. ♥

    I laughed out loud at the wooden shoes comment. I’m sure I’ve said that myself a couple of times. Usually when one of my kids leaves theem out from dress up and I kick it as a sneak in to bed in the darkness as to not wake my hubby.

  2. I love your blog! My baby boy Travis was born with HLHS (essentially 1/2 a heart). He has had two heart surgeries with two more to go. I read that poem “Welcome to Holland” many times since then. Although I try to convince myself that it is true, it is still tough and I wallow in the “what could have beens” quite frequently. It’s funny though, I look down at my baby snuggling in my arms and I can’t imagine a more perfect baby. Thank you for sharing your story with the world!!! P.S. I LOVE your photography!!

  3. I just started reading your blog when my friend linked to Nella’s birth story. Your writing is beautiful! And I think Nella is one of the most beautiful baby girls I’ve ever seen. Of course, I’m partial to my own baby girl. :) I love reading what you have to say.

  4. I am so excited to see that I am one of the first to leave a comment for this post – usually I am the 145 or something like that!!! I laughed with the picture of you juggling everything to the doctors office – as I do the same thing!!! You are as always juggling everything wonderfully you are such an inpiration to me. I Love the birth announcement it is beautiful just like that baby girl!

  5. Everything you put your hand to is stunning. Your craft, your photos, the lemonade stall – everything. Especially your children. People like you bring such beauty into the world, and not just the visual kind (although you do do a lot of that!).

  6. your girls are STUNNING!!!! and so lucky to have a mom who captures every moment!! I’m sure I can speak for a lot of moms out there when I say that I really look forward to your posts… you have an amazing knack for putting into words what nearly every mother must be thinking at some point…

    in regards to the “whacked out hormones”… they suck! the one part of new mommy-hood that you can never be prepared for!

    keep on doing what you’re doing because you’re doing it beautifully!!

  7. I started to read, and I wanna read but I’m so tired and have to go to bed! Tomorrow, I will be back. You are a rockstar :)

  8. I love the Road Less Traveled. And I adore your beautiful girls!

  9. A surprising post. Thank you! A great way to end my day.

  10. The 5th picture from the bottom of Nella…breath takingly beautiful! I loved the pic with all of you and your husbands children too! Where are you getting these cute hats..the one with bunny ears on Nella is the cutest thing ever!
    Yes parenting is NEVER easy even when everything is supposedly perfect! We had 8..and 5 were teenagers at the same time, I thought I was going to loose my mind and they were all going to be lost to all the awful things of the world…but I got through it and so did they. I think you will find out that you have been blessed beyond measure! PS I am having a …GIVE A WAY…Come see ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Ughhhhh!!!! Just stop it with the PRECIOUS pictures! My mommy-heart can’t take it! She is too cute for words in that adorable bunny hat. Love love love reading everything you write.

  12. I, too, love tulips. In some ways Holland is a much more beautiful place. And you’re analogy is right. All kids’ destination changes and their final destination is not written in their DNA. I’m sure your destination with Nella will be just as beautiful, sweet and exciting as any. God bless.

  13. Love the birth announcement!!! So precious! And I can’t tell you how many times I have read the Holland poem and I feel the same way MANY times!! LOL You write so beautifully.

  14. If it were a perfect world, husbands would never travel for work leaving us mommas holding it all tightly together until they return… which point, we melt, relax, cry, catch up, allow ourselves to truly feel all that has been bottled, it doesn’t matter one babe, many, or the complications—we need our husband and baby needs daddy.
    Ah, if only it were a perfect world of daddy’s being home all day, every day :)

  15. Oh, and I LOVE your announcement.

  16. I love you. I just found your blog today. I don’t even know you and I just love you. And that sweet special baby! Thank you for blogging.

    Love, bree

  17. I have had THAT kind of a day… The kind where breakfast, lunch and dinner get burnt and the world flips upside down and back again… So I was taking a minute before bed to myself and my hubby asked me what I was doing… I just replied “taking a moment to breathe.”
    Thank you… again.

  18. <3 the pictures, <3 the bunny hat, super cute, <3 the announcement.

    Italy is a lot like Holland ;o)


  19. I agree w/ Bugg’s mama …i don’t know you either and I <3 you, your family, your photography and your gift of writing.
    I just adore the picture w/ Nella wrapped in the beige knitted blanket and the one her her wearing the bonnet and the bunny hat.
    Can I please please please have a Birth Announcement? :-)


  20. You’re so raw and so real and so refreshing. And your girls are BEEEE-AUTIFUL. Thanks for sharing your world.

  21. This is Brooke. I meant to sign out as my full-time moniker. Loosy, el mommy.

    Thanks again.

  22. You are beautiful. And so is your soul. Thank you for keeping it real.
    LOVE the birth announcement :)

  23. Some days are harder than others. Hang in there. :)

    I laughed out loud at the picture of Nella in her bunny hat. That was so unexpected and adorable! And I agree…5th picture from the bottom is beyond precious!

    But I think my favorite picture of all is the top one on the left in the bottom picture of the birth announcement. The one where little Lainey has Nella on her tummy and Nella’s clinging tightly to her big sister’s finger.

    Well, that one, and the bottom right picture on the birth announcement where the kids are all loving on one another.

    And the one of you with Nella where you’re leaning against the tree.

    And the one of Nella holding her Daddy’s thumb.


  24. I wonder if my mom will read this, hahaha, she also can’t stand Holland, haha!
    I love Nella’s birth announcements!

  25. simply beautiful
    simply said
    simply real
    simply….thank you

  26. holland is over rated. please join me in mamatopia. just take a left at the spilled tea (from our latest tea party) and keep going until you see the paint glops on the table. i’m here, hanging out with 7 of the craziest kidlets you’ve ever known!

    i wish i could hug you and tell you things will be okay. but let’s face it, sometimes things just aren’t okay and that’s part of life. without the ups and downs, you’re just left with boring straigt-a-ways and boring is SO yesterday!

    just. keep. breathing. the rest sorta gets shoved into place in the end. hugs.

  27. Oh you’ll go to Italy with Nella, believe me. I’m in tears for you because you have no idea the joy that baby is going to bring you-it’s like nothing else you’ve ever experienced. At least that’s how it is with my son Bennett and he’s only 9 months!

    My sister has been there for me too, always knew just what to say from the moment we found out to when I’m frustrated or when I just need someone to understand. Sisters are great like that aren’t they?

    Love her birth announcements!

  28. I can completely relate to your story of going to the doctor….just a couple months ago when my sweet baby boy was only 1 week old we had to hoof it to the doctor’s because his older sister (an absolutely amazing 3 year old) woke up with a yucky eye. I was beyond exhausted and could not believe that this was happening.

    I forgot the stroller too. I carried a sleeping 3 year old on my shoulder while balancing the diaper bad and the carseat with the 9 pound baby too. And, get this – the elevator was out of order! I had to continue to lug everything up 3 flights of stairs!!! Seriously? why me??

    I too called my lifeline – my mom – in tears. Her wonderful piece of advice at that moment that I was losing my mind….”just do one thing”….and it’s true. When I focused on just doing one thing and not thinking 18 million steps ahead or of the 22 thousand other things that I thought I needed to do at that very same second then I was okay.

    So, yes, your sister’s words are wonderful and thank god that sisters and their words can help us. But I would also like to leave my mom’s words with you – Just do one thing. I think they are good words for any parent. And to go with your extended metaphor – at this very moment just enjoy the tulips. Don’t worry or think about those wooden shoes. Don’t think about all those other countries you have to visit, or all the things that you must do when you get there, or any of the unexpected things that go wrong with air travel.

    For this moment….just enjoy the tulips.

  29. Thank you so much for sharing Nella’s story and your story of mothering Nella! I am a mother in the throes of secondary infertility and the world has been seeming very dark. I found your blog when (I think?) Owlhaven tweeted about your daughter’s birth story and have been so encouraged by it. I wish I had the words to more eloquently explain my thoughts but they’re not coming to me this evening. So I’ll just say thanks and leave it at that.

    Oh – and your girls are beautiful!

  30. I know the exact article that you are referring to here, I read it during my master’s program in SPED. I am a special education teacher and I can’t tell you how much I love reading your blog. Having a child with special needs is not an easy journey but it is a blessing and you are so incredibly real with your thoughts and emotions. I really commend you for that. I used to teach first grade and a few years ago there was a little girl in my class who had Down syndrome. Teachers shouldn’t really say this, but she is by far my favorite of all the students I have ever taught. She brought so much joy into my life and a framed photo of her is looking back at me right now. Thank you for sharing all that you do! I am absolutely enamored with Nella!

  31. I had to laugh because I too have cursed Holland!! Guess what? Everytime you have a grieving day it means growth is around the corner and you come up stronger!! It is a very bittersweet process because in the midst of it you have such love and pain at the same time… deep breaths…just take it a day at a time! The pics of your girls are just beautiful!!

  32. Wow, that Holland analogy was so perfect, and true for so many of those stupid curve balls life loves to throw! I’m slogging my way through a crisis at the moment, and it so fitting for my situation as well!

    Hoping your week gets better on the downhill slide, leading to a wonderful weekend!

  33. I just recently came across your blog and I wanted to let you know that every post makes me smile. Your beautiful family, your beautiful new baby, you are beyond blessed! Nella is more beautiful than words, she is perfect!! My husband is a football coach and one of the staff members has a little girl Presley, she has DS. She is perfect! We love her so much, she is so fun and when I am around her we just play and smile and laugh. Here is their family blog: if you would ever want to check it out.
    Big Hugs and remember Grey Skies always turn Bright Blue!

    PS. the last picture before the birth announcement, which is adorable, is breathtakingly beautiful!!

  34. Nella is so BEAUTIFUL!

  35. I was in Italy once. We arrived on January 31, 1993, and for four wonderful years we were living in Italy and loving it. And then on February 17, 1997, WHAM! a car took us straight to Holland in a flash of a second. It was totally unexpected. I didn’t know where I was. I hated it. I cried. I denied it was happening. I kept looking for a way out, a way back to Italy. Then one sad day I realized we were never going back. So I took a look around, and met others who lived in Holland. And at first, it was a very sad and depressing place for me. I kept thinking back to Italy and wishing with all my might that we were still there. For about two years I refused to enjoy Holland. I refused to learn the language. I shut my eyes to the beauty that was around me. I kept trying to transform Holland into Italy. I told myself that I could never be happy unless Holland was exactly like Italy. I wanted to turn Holland into Italy! Of course, it was impossible to do that, and when I finally realized that…THAT is when life got better. Better for me. Better for her. The day I decided to make Holland a home, and started to look around with different eyes…is when life got happy again.

    Holland was actually very beautiful. Who would have thought??

    It’s been 13 years now since my daughter’s brain injury. At the age of 17, she is now a typical teen with attitude who hangs out at the mall with her friends and enjoys going to the movies. Even though the accident left her with physical and mental disabilities, and even though she is very different from that little 4 year old girl that I once knew, she is today a beautiful young lady who I am very proud of. She has overcome so much. She has taught me so much. I am a better mother, a better friend, a better person due to all we went through with her.

    Although we never went back to live in Italy again, from time to time Life takes us back there for a visit. And it is still very beautiful. I don’t want to live there anymore, though. Holland is my home now:)

  36. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – – your words are like reading back in my own journals and memories of three years ago.

    I remember when the bad days were a little more frequent that I had to give myself little pep-talks (which BTW, I really don’t have to do that anymore). I had to tell myself that having a child like Grant may bring more work and stress in some areas, but we will still go out to eat. We will still go the beach. We will still take family pictures. We will still have birthday parties and camping trips and all those things that the ‘other’ families get to do. Though Grant’s DS seemed/seems so huge sometimes, it’s such a tiny part of the overall picture of him and our family. NOW, I kind of like that we are a little different. ‘Normal’ seems kind of boring.

    I loved how you told yourself “I’m a rockstar, I’m a rockstar” because that is essentially what I tell myself as I take on those extra appointments, calls to the insurance, and just getting through certain days. I promise with all my motherly ‘been there, done that’ – these difficult, early days will wane. I would take my roughest, hair-pulling, tear filled day all over again because I’ve learned that those days are far outnumbered by the ones filled with laughter, utter amazement, and feelings of ‘we’re so lucky we get to be his parents.’

  37. Hang in there…we all have our bad days. So glad it started to look up by the end of the day.

    Love the announcement. So wonderful…LOVE The Bunny in her bunny hat. So sweet.

    Oh, and I love tulips too. :)

  38. Man. I don’t even know you and I love you a little more with each passing day. I seriously laughed outloud at the Holland stuff. I remember one day when my daughter was about two and a half and I was having a down day and I said to her physical therapist “I just wish she would walk. I swear if she’d just walk everyone would leave me alone. That is all anyone EVER asks.” Our service coordinator turned to me so sweetly in a way only she does and said “Jessica, have you ever read “Welcome to Holland”?” To which I hastily replied “Yeah and it was an effing crock. Seriously, at least Holland is still a vacation from the bull of every day life!” We all paused for a moment, caught each other’s glances, and howled with laughter. It was not the reaction she expected and she still pokes fun about it.

    I love the part of this post that dealt with even people with typical kids getting ripped away to Holland. So true. My mom is my rock and when I am rolling my eyes because a friend of mine is struggling with something that to me seems “easy” she reminds me that it isn’t my place to judge the challenges others face. It’s the truth. Each of us as parents has struggles no matter how typically developing our children are. The only difference is some of our struggles are just a bit more visible at first glance ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

    You ARE a ROCK STAR!! Seriously :) You rock the interwebs just by being you. Thanks for that :)

  39. That black and white photo is too precious. You take great photos (helps to have such cute subjects too ) and I love your birth announcemnent partic the multiimage part with all the photos lovely lovely lovely

    Hey these days come and go we all have them tomorrow is a brand new start x

  40. congratulations on smooth sailing through one of nella’s first milestone and for sharing your journey. I love your birth announcements and those hats on that precious newborn head is making this pregnant mam clucky….is that possible ๐Ÿ˜‰

  41. another person who doesn’t know you, but loves you and your girls. your blog has me captivated, i laugh, i cry, i goo and gah over your girls… i even just showed hubby how lovely nella is… and he agreed.

    You are amazing, keep writing and i shall keep reading.

    love to you all… all the way from australia

  42. how I love your blog, you write so wonderfully!! What a gorgeous pictures of Nella in her cute hats.

  43. Your blog is stunning. From the first to the last words to gorgeous pictures to that irresistible Nella of yours.

    Thankyou for being out here sharing it all with us. Lucky lot we are xx

  44. So true. I read ‘the Holland’ analogy quite a while ago, my daughter has NF1, a neurological disease, I’ll spare you the details, but she is our first, and there was quite a period of ‘adjustment’ when we found out, a sense of grieving. She is now 7 and doing awesome!!!! A beautiful, thriving child, who rocks our world, and we have had two sweet children since her too. Life is good…not always easy, but good. :) I really enjoy your blog, love the pictures. Thank you for sharing. Have a good day, hope Italy treats you well. :)
    (btw) this is the ONLY blog I ever comment on….just always feel compelled to. :)

  45. LOVED the announcement and your heartfelt words. Was beautiful. As are YOU and your girls. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the bunny hat!

  46. Thank you, Thank you again and again for sharing your world with us – your beautiful pictures, words and most of all your beautiful girls and family. I get up every morning now and grab my coffee and check your blog! Have a wonderful day!

  47. Life is difficult. It ain’t ever gonna be easy. You my dear, are a true ROCK STAR. God gave you that beautiful little girl because he knew you would love her. The first time I read your blog was on a day that I needed to see that life is difficult, I am not alone. I think you are truly helping people.

  48. setbacks are SO unbelievably NORMAL, no matter if your baby has an extra chromosome, or an extra arm, or even minus a few things…..
    setbacks happen because of the nature of humanity, period.
    love the pictures, and that bunny hat! get out!!!

  49. So very blessed indeed! I cannot pass your blog in blogger without opening it up right away! Your writing and thoughts are so beautiful and you have such a comforting way about you. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us!

  50. I teared up reading this again today. Just feeling the emotions that you write and I feel like I’m there going through them with you, even though we don’t even know eachother. Your girls are so lucky to have a mom like you who puts it all out there…..the good and bad…those hats are just darling and that birth announcment is AMAZING!!! That little girl is going to grow up with so much love from her sister and brothers and parents etc. She will do amazing things!!!

  51. This post, well this post makes me laugh out loud. Not at you personally, but at the fact that I as all moms have, have been there. We have had those days. Where you just want to say to hell with it and go back to bed. But we as “warriors” and “rockstars,” we go on!!! We pick up and make the best of a bad day, simpily because that’s just what moms do. So rock on my friend (which I have never met:)) Keep taking those trip to Holland and Italy and whereever that plane may take you,but fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride. This post is exactly what I needed to start the day!! And I repeat what so many others have said before thank you for sharing your story. Rock on my dear, Rock on!!

  52. oh goodness. Nella is so precious! I have been looking forward to each new post because they are so beautifully written, and to see your sweet pictures of your girls!

    You are such a great mom, I have only been reading for a few days but that, I am sure of!

  53. Your writing is just beautiful and I love your honesty. I can relate to how you feel about “Holland” sometimes. Every so often I feel that way too but Holland is sooo beautiful. It sometimes overshadows Italy. (my daughter is 4) You are teaching me how to get my bad days. I thank you for that. Your words are inspiring.

    What a beautiful birth announcement. And I love all your daughters hats. (I wish my little girl would wear them more.)

  54. mama always said there would be days like these. And yes it’s so whether our babies have 46 or 47 chromosomes. Motherhood is full of ups and downs and I rely on the grace of God to get through it all. Praying for you and your family. peace to you.

  55. I love your writing. I’m reading your blog everyday. It’s like a book that I can’t put down…I’m starting with 2007 and slowly working my way up! I get stuck reading the comments on your blogs too because I just love hearing the wise wisdom and advice your father writes, and the witty humour your sister has. Your whole family is wonderful. You truly are very blessed despite the hardships in life…remember to enjoy the small things every day;) AND the big things – like how you are touching and inspiring every one of us to be better! Your life is full of so much purpose.

  56. Welcome to Holland is a gorgous poem. I love it.

    Nella’s birth announcement is beautiful and I adore the photo of all 4 children together :)

    Remember you are doing a fabulous job of raising your girls, they couldn’t ask for a better Mummy x

  57. My son Luke (who is now 8) was born with a fairly serious birth defect. He had surgery when he was 18 months old and is now a completely normal kid. But what I wanted to pass on was something that our pediatrician did that I thought was enormously thoughtful and helpful. A few days before each of his check ups we would receive a form in the mail that listed all the things that would be done and discussed at his upcoming visit. It also listed all the vaccinations that they recommended at that particular age and then there was a handwritten part at the bottom where the doctor would note any issues that were specific to Luke’s condition that we would be discussing. This gave us an opportunity to think of questions and it kept us from worrying about whether we were going to be blindsided by a hard conversation that we were not expecting. I am sure it was an administrative headache for someone in the doctor’s office to deal with all these forms, but it made a big difference for us.

    Dr. Foley sounds like the type of doctor who would get it if you explained to her that you were worried about yesterday’s appointment beforehand. She might be willing to give you a quick head’s up over the phone a few days before the next visit, or at the end of each visit she could maybe tell you what to expect next time.

    Another thing to remember — it is amazing just how far you have come in accommodating yourself to this new twist in life in just a month’s time. At the same time, don’t set yourself up to be too much of a poster child. Yes, we are all inspired by your attitude and your creativity and your wit. But we’re going to start wondering if you’re not a figment of someone’s imagination if you don’t have a few of these setback days here and there.

  58. Every mom has a days like this. I’m glad the first doctor’s appt for Nella went well and wasn’t scary. I love her blue eyes. Lainey and her smile are sure sweet. That is one awesome birth announcement!

  59. I don’t have a special needs child, so I can’t pretend to know what your feeling. Even so, I thought transitioning from one to two children was very hard and unexpectedly so. Actually, with the birth of each of our children (6 total) I’ve gone through a little grieving spell over the death of my “old” life ~ just until I figured out what the new “normal” looked like. So, while I don’t share the same set of challenges as you, you sound very normal to me!

    God’s abundant blessings to you and your family!

  60. Beautifully written, and so true. The scary part about parenthood is when you get on the plane, you never know where it will land. All that matters is that your family gets there together. Hang in there.

  61. Your girls are simply beautiful. I look forward to a new post everyday and always enjoy reading your blog :)

  62. I’m not sure how you EVER find time to read all these comments! You have touched quite a few lives it seems. :) I was also given the link to Nella’s story and have been reading your posts for about a week or so now. I always saw the innumerable comments and was (I must admit) a little intimidated to add to them. But I can relate to your story so much as my son, Jet, was born with Spina Bifida. We knew before he was born so the birth itself wasn’t a shock – it was more a relief to see him finally here and BEAUTIFUL! :) I had several months before his birth to “prepare” – if that is even possible – (is any parent prepared? EVER?! lol.) You can of course find our story on our blog under “Jet’s Story” link on the side. But the Holland poem is a very familiar reference and I found myself giggling. :) You are a beautiful writer, photographer and mother of GORGEOUS girls (wonder where they get that from? hmmm. ;)) and I love reading and sharing your blog with my family. Nice to meet you- oops – my son (9 months) just fell over and is whining for me. lol. BYE! – Joanna

  63. One day at a time. Yes, there are many battles ahead. Yes, things are going to be hard. But focus on today. Think about today’s battles and cares and love and joy. Tomorrow will come. But for now one day at a time.

  64. Kelle-
    Thank you for the words and thoughts you share each day . . . your blog is like a mini-vacation that I let myself take when I need it. When I need a break from my world – to let my thoughts go free – if only for a brief time.
    You have such a gift to share!
    Love the photo of Nella wrapped in the blanket with one finger up – it is like she has a thought she needs to hold!

  65. so, so very, very normal. I remember thinking, “I know I’m going to be a stronger person for this journey but can’t I just take the easier path? Is weak so bad?” lol

    I also remember thinking in those early days that my path split in two at the hospital that day. On the right was the path I had imagined and on the left was the one I was sent on. That thinking didn’t last very long. I couldn’t even see the family that was on the other path. I got a strong feeling that THIS is my family. This rag-tag crew is always the crew I was supposed to have.

    I wonder if all of this adoration (well deserved) is a double-edged sword? Does all of this attention make you feel like you’re in Holland sometimes?

  66. i’m sorry you had a sucky day. oh, maybe in honor of holland we should call it a “Dutch Day”.

    maybe the thing is to not think about the future cuz its scary. just live in the “now” because worrying about the future is just that – worry.

    Right now your girls are Italy. Worry about the frickin’ dutch when one of them momentarily takes you to Holland.

    amore a voi bei mama e bambini

  67. You are truly an amazing person!!! I just love your blog. Your family is beautiful and you inspire me!

    Her birth announcment is fantastic!!! Did you make it?

  68. i just found your blog last night. my hubby was working late and i was snuggled up reading your story. what an inspiring and gracious story it is. a love story. cheers to you and your journey ahead. i’ll be stopping back to visit again.

  69. I want you to know that you make all of us who read stronger. Stronger mothers, stronger women, stronger fighters.
    Thank you for that.

  70. When someone linked to your blog I was instantly drawn in, you speak what I think and say it so well, so honestly…it is refreshing.
    I spent the weekend crawling over every post and just fell in love with your family!
    Saying lots of prayers for you and your beautiful family. Grace is an amazing thing, it will cover over us when we feel at our most fragile. Hormones just make us that much more so!

    Your family is beautiful and you inspire me to create as much beauty out of my own life as I possibly can, celebrate the small things is a lovely motto…I’m going to borrow it (do you mind?)


  71. I just LOVE your mantra – I think I’ll try it sometime!
    … i’m a rockstar. i’m a rockstar…
    I think it fits!!
    Nella is just beautiful and you will look at her grow ever more beautiful with every passing day.
    I still look at my Malakai 18 months down the line and wonder how I got to be THIS lucky!

  72. I began to read your stories just yesterday and I am enthralled with your words and photos. You are a rock star!

  73. I LOVE that birth announcement!! You have such a beautiful family.

  74. Marie in New Hampshire says:

    Breathtaking photos of Nella. I think she is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen! She also wears a hat very well!

  75. Your story is so beautiful and honest. Thank you so much for sharing it. Nella’s birth announcement is the most wonderful one I have ever seen!

  76. kells!!! help me! i’m in my pj’s and beckham is BEGGING me to take him outside.

    i keep saying…’five minutes!’ he hates me:)

    now he is in front of the television …naked, oreos in each hand, and playing with peyton’s mermaid barbie. swear! LOL, i love him.

    okay, can i just say that these photos are…
    AMAZING! i just can’t get enough of the dangling foot pic and that first pic of lainey is stunning. all of them…they are like the frosting on the cupcake i can’t eat.

    love you. call me before beckham starts knocking on neighbors doors asking for crackers and milk…


  77. oh yeah, i love how you are rocking this out. i can’t imagine a better way to handle all that is going on right now.

    i say cry when you want and laugh when you want. that’s so the way life is anyway. highs and lows. i think its a constant thing. you are…so rare and special.

  78. You ARE blessed.

  79. Yes, Nella has already taken you to Italy and all over the world :). Her powerful soul is leading her amazing journey one moment at a time. The extra chromosome is an integral part of who she is, yet she IS so much more than that. Nella is beautiful, whole and perfect just as she IS.

    Lainey and Nella are more alike than different in so many levels. We are all more alike than different in many ways in that we all have our unique and different personalities. We are ALL as different as we are similar :).

    “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Laozi

  80. once again….. you are so amazing!!! I wish that I could jump on a plane and go with you to the lake for a picnic and chat and cry and hold that sweet baby girl. I have come to your blog everyday for the last 3 weeks. Everytime I read a new entry I feel like I know you, and I am confident that if we lived close we would be great friends! You know when you just know!….. Praying that today Italy is close to home and that the only Holland you have for a while is tulips!!! Thank you for showing all of us moms how to love, realy love! You are an inspiration to me…. much love. Nikki

  81. Your blog is always such a great way to start the morning! Thank you..

  82. When my twins were born and we discovered Braden had Down syndrome I was beyond shocked. As a biochemist I held intelligence as a quality of importance for my children. I thought “I am not the person, the mother for this”. I was never really comfortable around others with special needs. And maybe that is what made me the perfect person, the perfect mother for this. I was the perfect person in need of a dramatic change of heart. As a newborn, he was adorable and precious and oh so easy to love. But I worried about the day when he would not be my perfect newborn anymore but rather a person with Down syndrome. I worried that I wouldn’t see him as beautiful anymore. I worried about his schooling, his adulthood. I worried alot.

    He’s 8 now and I don’t really worry anymore. He’s as beautiful to me today as he was when he was a baby. He’s reading, he’s singing, and he laughs the most contagious laugh ever. No, seriously, you could bottle his laugh and sell it as a tonic to cure sadness! You know how you try and tell someone that doesn’t have a child how it is to love your children… How you can never really explain the depth of that love…That the only way they can know what your talking about is to have their own child – that is how having a child with Down syndrome is for me. I could never not have that extra chromosome in my life now. One day, trust me, you will be the one leaving these comments on others’ blogs letting them know how happy you are, how Nella has made all the difference. And Lainey, how will she feel? I just posted on my blog all about Braden and his 4 siblings – come see!

    Let sweet, beautiful, magical Nella lead the way!

  83. Your 2 girls are beautiful. Thank you for writing such an inspiring personal story.

    May God bless your family!

  84. This is the Down Syndrome Creed. Reading this will make you smile even more and bring more joy than ever!I love what you have created and enjoy reading this every chance I get. God bless!!!!!!!

    My face may be different

    But my feelings the same

    I laugh and I cry

    And I take pride in my gains

    I was sent here among you

    To teach you to love

    As god in heavens

    Looks down from above

    To him I’m no different’

    His love knows no bounds

    It’s those here among you

    In cities and towns

    That judge me by standards

    That man has imparted

    But this family I’ve chosen

    Will help me get started

    For I’m one of the children

    So special and few

    That came here to learn

    The same lessons as you

    That love is acceptance

    It must come from the heart

    We all have the same purpose

    Though not the same start

    The Lord gave me life

    To live and embrace

    And I’ll do as you do

    But at my own pace

  85. This world is one big ol’ cake, and you’re spreading inspiration all over it. : )

  86. Yes, I have had days like these. We all have. xox

    I was so scared in the beginning that I didn’t go to doctor checkups for 6 months. 2 years later, I still struggle.

    I began to write b/c of my pain. Writing has helped me as I believe it’s helping you. Your photos are so healing. I know I’m better everytime I see your beautiful shots. You capture the essence of everything I’m feeling with my own baby girl.

    Thank you!!!!

    Windmills and Tulips

  87. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing and have a good day

  88. Love the bunny hat…how perfect for your Little Bunny! Hope that tomorrow brings more happiness and smiles:)

  89. Oh Kelli, you are so on target with this line of thought. Even though I got Italy each time the plane landed I was often whisked to destinations unknown many times in the past 16 years. I always find a way to navigate the foreign land and return “home”. It doesn’t matter how our children come to us, they are all unique and special in there own ways and each one will challenge us but more often bless us in every way. I am encouraged and inspired by your story.
    Look at how your family has been formed already, two wonderful step-sons, and two beautiful daughters that turned you from two to six. All that counts at the end of each and every day is the six of you. Life is truly beautiful.

  90. Kelle-

    You inspire me to be a better person, a better mom, a better wife. Your strength and charisma is contagious. You are allowed to have bad days because they make the good days even more special. Please don’t ever stop using your gifts to inspire others. Your girls are very lucky! You are in my prayers and thoughts…

  91. Life is difficult. Embracing the difficult days and dancing through the tough times are what make us strong women. You have a beautiful family, thank you so much for sharing. I have a 21 year old son with autism and APL Leukemia…keep dancing!

  92. Loved the comment about the shoes. I said to Jason if some one gives me this darn Holland poem one more time I am going to SCREAM!!!! So glad you are able to get your thoughts out. Loved the new pictures. You are so right about kids. We have no guarantees in life with our children. Hugs and I hope you have a great day. Jana’s Mom from Michigan.

  93. thank you for posting even your setbacks, and yet still finding beauty in “setbacks”. you really should be a writer, print you blog in a book for a best seller. Wonderful writer.

  94. Life was a tough day for my family yesterday and your quote true.

    Your blog touches my heart like no other and your words are beautiful even if painful…

    have a wonderful TODAY

  95. mom2GraceAidenFinn says:

    thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story, your heart. Nella’s birth story is so honest and familiar to me. It brought me back nine years to our sweet Grace’s birthday-the joy, the fears, the confusion, the overwhelming love of family and friends. We were welcomed into a “club” we never thought we’d want to be a part of. Now we know how privileged and blessed we are to be members. Yes, there are many days I want to shout “Holland sucks”. But there are many more days when I think those poor souls in Italy don’t know what they’re missing. You have been blessed with many precious gifts-please keep sharing!

  96. This post reminded me of a post I read on a friend’s blog a few years ago. I think you’ll enjoy it.

    And Nella’s birth announcement? Beautiful! I regret never getting any sent out for Morgan. I spent weeks worrying about what to do for her announcement and if it needed to come with an explanation. And ended up never doing anything.

    Of course love all the pics and darling hats!

  97. Oh, how I love this…we have all been there!! I too have had my days when “F#@! Holland” slips out. And (gasp!!) even a few “F#@! Ds” in my lowest moments.

    Honestly, most days now are full of joy and laughter. However, when a bad day comes along, I always find myself singing this song in my head…

    Here is our “theme song” from our favorite video series, Signing Time. (

    The Good
    It was you and me and the whole world right before us
    I couldn’t wait to start
    I saw you and dreams just like everyone before us
    We thought we knew what we got
    And then one day I thought it slipped away
    And I looked to my hands to hold on
    And then one day all my fear slipped away
    And my hands did so much more
    So maybe we won’t find easy
    But, baby, we’ve found the good
    No, maybe we won’t find easy
    But, baby, we’ve found the good!
    It was you and me and a new world right before us
    I was so scared to start
    I saw you and dreams just like everyone before us
    But how did they move so far?
    And then one day I thought it slipped away
    And I looked to my hands to hold you
    And then one day all my fear slipped away
    And my hands did so much more
    So maybe we won’t find easy
    But, baby, we’ve found the good
    Maybe we won’t find easy
    But, baby, we’ve found the good!

    Much love,
    Jill B (Overland Park, KS)

  98. Let it be said that rock stars have NOTHING on you…’cause you’re a rock and a star. Truly.

  99. Kelle…you NEED to have those days. Unload and empty all those emotions that us Mommies usually bottle up for the sake of our children. So go cry, sleep, scream into your pillow and then take a 3 hour bath and replenish. You deserve it! Just know that all of us here keep praying for you and your beautiful family. You ispire and bring joy to so many of us…I hope that in some way these sweet and sincere comments bring you some peace and joy as well. God bless as always and thank you for sharing your life.
    ~Aggie from Chicago

  100. ah yes. gray days. they are so necessary in the grand design of things…(I share your analogy issues:)–>Look at a painting with poor design and there is no emphasis.(The same intensity all over it. ew. you cant see a thing. there is no focus. nothing is appreciated.) But look at a well designed piece and you will get that visual “rest”, the gray. it is a downtime for your eyes that causes other parts to POP. same goes with music. the build up. the slow crawl to a climactic, powerful note. only able to give you chills bc it started out as… well… “gray!”
    also re: gray, you know your eyes absorb the most color at dusk? it is one of my favorite times of day. bc your eyes can relax, let in the maximum amount of color and everything is more brilliant.

    and. because you speak fashion as well.hehe. gray is 80 percent of my wardrobe (althrough no one realizes that. they think it is littered with confetti and glitter). it is mostly gray so that silhouette, accessories, details, and punches of color can dance all over it.

    p.s. Frank Turner, song- I knew Prufrock, quote below. that will make you run fast.

    Yeah I am sick and tired of people who are living on the b-list
    Yeah they’re waiting to be famous, and they’re wondering why they do this
    And I know I’m not the one who it habitually optimistic
    But I’m the one who’s got the microphone here so just remember this
    Well life is about love, lost minutes and lost evening
    About fire in our bellies and about furtive little feelings
    And the aching amplitudes that set our needles all flickering
    And they help us with remembering that the only thing left to do is live

    (I think youd love that build up. crank it loud.)

  101. I was just wondering what printer you used for Nella’s birth announcement. I often try to create cute little cards for family and friends, and don’t know where to send them off to be printed. Any suggestions would be very very helpful.
    However her announcement is beautiful. I love how you stated “her story begins” that is such a true statement.
    Also all of those adorable little leg warmers and hats…do you have someone make them for you, or did you purchase them?
    Here is to being a rock star everyday!!!

  102. I posted a comment earlier. But, had to return to tell you how much I can relate to the doctor office visit. I am mom to a special needs child whom when sick it is life threatening sick. I can remember a VERY specific time when I had to make a trip to the ER with him AND my newborn baby girl. I also had to drag in 3 of his 5 machines into the ER while people were staring….Then my baby started crying and it was just insane! I was running around trying to find outlets to plug in his equipment to help clear his airway. It was a nightmare. But, through it all, it makes you stronger!! Each bad experience really helps us appreciate the good ones! ((HUGS))) to you and your beautiful baby girls! :)You are blessed to have such caring family and friends too!!!

  103. This is from a journal that I am keeping for my daughter Gracee who is seven and is my baby through adoption:

    “When you are young you do alot of planning for this Journey in life..and there are detours that you never expected. I always wanted to be a mom..that is it nothing more..well it did not seem like I was going to get to get to my final destination exactly as planned or even at all at times. So Daddy and I decided that we would take a different route then most parents was a slower boat, one that made us weary, seemed like it was taking forever and on the way to our final destination (which was you) we cried alot..we fought alot but we stayed on that slow boat while everyone else was getting there in record time..but we got there and we got you. Same destination as everyone else just a different form of transportation. And because of that Dearheart I know that I see things and celebrate things that other moms may never your first school “Grandparents Day”…I stood in the back of the cafeteria in joyful tears thanking God for that one moment that you honored your grandparents with a big shout out and a kiss that traveled via the wind”. I looked around not one of the other mommys was dabbing their eyes with a tissue. At one point in our journey to you, I thought those moments would never be mine. I can still remember what you had on that day..your favorite bink puffy skirt with flowers sewn on and a bright polka dot shirt. I bet if you asked most moms what their child was wearing that day they could not remember…but I do. So sometimes life does not hand you perfection as the world sometimes view perfection…but what do they know….The trip may have been a little rocky at times but you babygirl are our final perfect destination.”

    anyway I guess my point is that I still miss some of the “perfect” journey experiencing a life growing in my womb..I will never feel that..or being able to eat anything I want and gaining weight with an excuse..and so many other things that go with having a baby..but I think I see things differently than many moms..I rejoice in Gracee’s accomplishments..I feel her pain..I watch her sleep and sometimes climb in bed because I can’t believe she is really ours and I just want to snuggle next to her and stay there forever..but I do on somedays still miss what i imagine it would be like to have had the perfect journey to parenthood..then she says something like “Mommy you are the best colorer ever” and it just all balances out. ♥

  104. You are beautiful and inspirational and I adore your blog. I love Nella’s birth announcement. Thank you for sharing and being so honest and open with your heart.

  105. I just wanted to say I read your blog daily, and I have directed people from my own blog to do the same. It’s beautiful, funny, charming, and open. You are a brave woman, on an incredible journey. Your girls are incredibly gorgeous, and their shoe collection sincerely rivals my own! What a beautiful birth story, and birth announcement for a Princess like Nella! Much love. XO

  106. you’re very wise, kelle. you’re lucky to have such a great support system during the hard times that come with parenthood. i’ve found myself coming back to your blog to find guidance through you myself. keep writing…it’s impacting a lot more people than you think. xoxo

  107. I am certain that, not only was Nella meant for you, but you were meant for Nella. There is no doubt that there will be difficulties in your journey, but you are the only mom who could have lead her on it. Nella is just precious.

  108. The beauty of your blog moves me to tears everytime. Thank you for reminding me of what is important.

  109. I love this blog. I only recently started following it when a friend sent me the link to Nella’s birth story. You write beautifully and lead such a sweet life. I truly feel that our little ones choose us to be their parents…Nella and Lainey couldn’t have chosen a sweeter mommy or better family, in my opinion. This is such a great way to document a life and I’ll continue to check in on your sweet little family. Sending good vibes your way from snowy New England…you’re doing great…really you are.

    Jenny V.

  110. You are doing everything right! You feel the emotions, you express how you feel and you are living an authentic life! You make all of us better humans, better moms, better friends and I am so thankful to have found you thanks to sweet Nella’s life. She already has taken you and her to places you never imagined. You are all over the world!!

  111. You are a rockstar, you are a rockstar!!! You keep on chanting that!
    Nella is blessed to have you and will bless your lives in so many ways.
    Glad the appt went well and wasn’t scary.
    Live today for today and not worry with the details of the future was some of the best advice I got when Alayna was born.
    The birth announcements are fantastic.
    Hoping today is a super day for you.


    Here’s a peek at your incredibly (not) taxing future with therapy, etc…a very typical day in my life with three girls!

  113. you ARE a rockstar.

    love the analog.


  114. Beautiful photos… thanks for sharing!

    I have a 2 under 2, so I ‘get’ the difficulty you had lugging car seat and sleepy girly… just wondered, I can’t remember if you have a moby wrap or other stretchy wrap? I love ours, and when baby is in it, I can heft the toddler too. It’s a bit of weight, but at least no heavy infant seat too…

    Just a thought! :)

  115. You are gorgeous, your girls are gorgeous, your words are gorgeous. You are inspiring so many. Thank you for your beautiful story & photography! Love to you all.

  116. Nella is gorgeous. I have to tell you this post is so true…a visit or trip to “holland” can come at any time. My son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age 6. The symptoms just suddenly started around age 4…He is the most amzing kid, is about to turn 13 and he handles it beautifully. He is confident and endearing and everyone loves him. I have hard times still…I didn’t even know what it was before I heard the diagnosis. I educated myself and advocate for him every chance I get. He is perfect because of his Tourettes, not inspite of it. Everyone has something, everyone will deal with something difficult at one time or another. I always tell my son “Tourettes, makes you interesting, unique, you have a story to tell”…Hang in there, Momma. You and your beautiful family will be just fine : )

  117. Enjoyed looking at all the pictures. How do you upload your pictures to be so big?? My daughter who is getting started in photography wants to do a blog but was wondering how you enlarge them????


  118. I have been reading your blog since I saw the link on Bridgets Light for Nellas Birth story. I have an 18 month old daughter w/Down syndrome. It took me at least 10 months to even let myself “accept” her diagnosis. I fought it like a two year old who doesn’t get her way. I was sent the Holland poem from a friend (a few weeks after Kamryn was born) and it just made me ANGRY. I have 3 other girls (9,6 and 4) and I LOVED our life and living in Italy… emotional journey has been long, but I have really accepeted what is. And we all live in Italy, with the appreciation for Holland..and it has been great! Love your words and pictures. Andrea Wiley, Lompoc California

  119. I just recently found your blog. Your story is beautiful and your strength inspires me. Your children are so precious.

  120. What a beautiful birth announcement for your precious Nella!! Such a sweet way to celebrate her!!

  121. Thank you so much for giving me perspective! A week ago I was introduced to your blog when I was having a tough time balancing all of the balls that I was juggling as a new mom of twins, going back to work and life in general. It seems odd to say b/c people think that twins are just a double blessing but sometimes it is like going to Holland as well b/c you just can’t do everything that you dreamed of doing when you thought of having a single baby when you have another one crying, fussing, etc. Please don’t get me wrong – I love my babies more than words can say – but I had to adjust my view of reality. And thankfully you have given me perspective to accept my new reality and embrace it!!!
    Thank you do much for sharing your jaw-dropping photos and completely honest thoughts. You are amazing and truly an inspiration!!!!

  122. your family is BEAUTIFUL!

  123. Kelle,

    You are so amazing! I love your blog and what you share…. My first child, a son named Cody, will be 3 in May and he also has Down syndrome. I just know you are going to get to a different place- sooner rather than later. Thank you for blessing us with your story and pictures of your life.

    I do have a question for you- and have no idea how else to ask other than leaving a comment here. Cody is going to be a big brother this summer- June! I love the crown that Lainey had for Nella’s birth. Did one of your wonderful friends make that for her or did you get it from somewhere that I might be able to get a big brother one for Cody? You’ve inspired me to go crazy and help Cody celebrate the birth of his new brother or sister. I hadn’t even thought about making him feel special that day (yet). If you read this and feel like giving me a response, you can reach me by emailing me at

    Thanks Kelle… for everything you are!


  124. I have now read your blog in it’s entirety, and look forward to following it on a daily basis.

    You have inspired me in so many ways. I have always loved to capture every memory via my small little point and shoot camera. After seeing your pictures I purchased a Canon DSLR and now I can see what you see when you look through the lens. My pictures now capture those whisppy hairs and long eye lashes – they show me how beautiful life really is. Thank you for inspiring me.

  125. Your birth announcements are GORGEOUS! Did you design them yourself?

  126. I’m in awe of your strength and come by for my daily dose of what you have to say. Parenting any child takes guts and glory and is not for the weak at heart. You have a beautiful family and will spend the same lifetime celebrating their similarities and differences, goals and achievements and lessons they teach you simply by being children which has nothing to do with genetics. Your pediatrician sounds wonderful and thrilled to hear her appointment went well. As an aside I found your blog on a photography site (I’m an amateur hobbyist) but a professional in the SN sect by day. If I can ever help or you need info I’m happy to help.

  127. You are a Rockstar. Thank you for such a beautiful post. The birth announcement is gorgeous, and you are an inspiration.

  128. Your ladies are precious. I also hate wooden shoes.

  129. Hi,
    I was just wondering who makes all the wonderful hand-knitted baby things. They are so sweet.

  130. We all have emotional days. Just have to say to yourself “Tomorrow will be better.”
    I LOVE The photo of Nella just before the pics of her birth announcement. Which, btw is just amazing.

  131. way to push through those difficult moments.

    love, love , love the birth announcement

  132. Hi Kelle. (My friend Sandy sent me the link to your blog 3 1/2 weeks ago and she said that when she read it all she thought of was me – I am honored she complimented me that way. I respect and think the world of you – without even meeting you. You are strong, you are amazing, you are beautiful and you have a beautiful family) Well, I just wanted to check in with your blog today… As you were going through your rough day yesterday… I was as well. Like I have said in past messages, we are only a short 11 months ahead of you – and I remember every feeling and thought as if it was yesterday when reading your story. I love hearing your words. I have felt the same – but it never really said it to anyone outside of my close circle of friends (which was not how I was before Jake – but I am again and even more than ever!) By reading this wonderful blog, I am going through it all over again and treasuring so much more with Jacob. He had his trisomy 21 clinic appt yesterday – not sure if you are hooked up with one yet – I am sure you are since your pediatrician is amazing. It’s just a check point. They help us to make sure that we aren’t missing anything. But, my husband, Jason stayed home from traveling this week because it was a HUGE week. (He travels, too – every mon-fri for his firm) As we went yesterday – we felt they same way you did going to your 1 month check up for Nella… We thought, “oh now, what will we fine out now, where is he in the whole medical model…” but then we remembered… Jake is Jake and he is just our sweet boy that has everything we do just a little extra. :o) So we sighed in relief and thought – this is just a moment in time. We worried that he wouldn’t be himself and show off how great he is doing – because he wasn’t in our familiar house with our things and his toys and his big brother and big sister or even the dog that motivates him like nothing else. But, he was just perfect. He is happy, healthy, loved, and secure. And that is all that we can truly want. He is doing great and on a great track – the Jake track! :o)

    Today Jake turned 1!!! Wow… how far we have come! It’s so fast and amazing. We are exactly where we need to be for so many reasons… because Jake has brought so many people together that would never have if he wasn’t born to us! We are so much better for friendships that have rekindled and those that have grown a hundred fold and even some that have gone away. Today as I went to Michaels to pick up items to make Jake’s party favors, I met a woman named Sheri and she moved me by just being so kind. She was so nice and gracious and sweet to Jake. We chatted a bit and just had a connection. Then we exchanged info and she offered to make a birthday party scrap book for Jake – she was just so amazing… I was so taken back and so overwhelmed with emotion that because of Jake I met another fantastic soul – she said to me that she believes that what you give you receive 10 fold. She made my day! A day that is so beautiful and exciting but yet full of such crazy emotions.

    God bless you Kelle.

    PS… I am also moved by music and wanted to let you know about two songs that have really helped me this past year. Both of these songs my dear friend Beth shared them with me and has been of the my much needed dragon slayers!
    – Bon Jovi – I am
    – Bon Jovi – Welcome to where you are.

    Keeping on “enjoying the small things


  133. I am so glad that you posted today. I was in need of an uplifting!!! Your words said it all, it is just parenting. My baby will be 21 in May. I thought that it would be easier as they got older. Unfortunately, it doesn’t the problems are just bigger!!! Anyhow, thank for the uplift! Nella’s announcement is absolutely beautiful! It tells the whole story.

    Keep your chin up! I have posted the saying your sister said on my facebook page, because that is how I am feeling today. Feeling like life has just got me down.

    Until your next post,
    April (Elissa’s cousin)

  134. Hey Kelle,
    I read this and “Keep Breathing” is playing on your playlist. (love that song) How perfect…

    I’m sad you had a bad day yesterday. But I would call it anything but a “setback.” It’s the very opposite. Part of your journey with Nella (or any child for that matter) is having hard days.. tearful days. Having good days and bad days proves you are moving forward, taking steps and allowing your emotions to go through the process…

    Try to think of where you were 4 weeks ago, just after you had her – And think of how many awesome moments there have been since she’s been born. Not nearly as scarey as you thought?? You probably couldn’t have even imagined how wonderful it has all truly been.

    I know the unknown seems so scarey, you’ll get through it. You all will together. You’re doing it now. Every single day, you’re living the unknown.

    Allow yourself these hard days – you’ll appreciate the good ones all the more.

    Be patient with yourself, you’re doing a good job. Never mind that – you’re doing an excellent job – amazing! And you have a lot of love and support behind you.

    As your song says, “keep breathing”

    oh and WOW 7lbs 4oz! She’s doing awesome!!

  135. Kelle,

    I love your blog. And I want you to know that you are entitled to these days. You don’t even have to have transformative moments with each post. We all love knowing how you are…and if the answer is “crappy,” that’s cool.

    I am a counselor for families with special-needs kids, and one of the most important things I teach parents is to give themselves room and time to feel sad, mad, frustrated, tired, etc. There is so much pressure on parents of kids from Holland. :) Lots of my clients feel like they have to be super-parents to prove that their kids CAN and DO and WILL.

    Truth us, even on your crappy, wooden-shoe-hating days, even if you don’t have a redeeming word to say to us, you’re inspiring.

    –Sabrina, Colorado Springs, CO

  136. You know, for every comment you get, there has got to be at least one other person out there (like me usually) who wants to comment but sees “133 comments” & thinks there’s no reason for me to add anything else that has probably already been said at least 100 times.
    But today, I thought, no – I need to comment. I need to support. I need to share healing & loving energy with this woman who I don’t know, but somehow do know on some level.
    So here I am. Saying the same thing as I’m sure most everyone else has already said – I know what it’s like, PPD is the same no matter what your birth situation was or what your baby is like. Hang in there, mama. Sleep, heal, receive love. This too shall pass.
    So for what it’s worth, please know this. And thanks for sharing so intimately with the world. It’s a gift I treasure everytime I read this blog.

  137. The pictures are awesome. Both of your girls are so beautiful. My daughter Caitlin was diagnosed with a brain tumor in October 2008 thankfully she doing well now and just finished her chemotherapy treatments. So I know how it feels to have your life thrown into chaos. I have also learned that through struggles that the simple and quiet moments are percious.

  138. Nella is one of the most precious and beautiful babies I have ever seen. I cannot get over how beautiful she is.

  139. it’s funny, when i first read your birth story, i thought to myself “i wonder how many separate people are going to send her that Holland story.”

    Care to share? :)

  140. I read and love your blog. You are such an inspiration to everyone. You’re girls are beautiful! God bless your heart.

  141. Hi Kelle:
    I just wanted to let you know that both Holland and Italy are in Europe. Europe is quite a destination. I hate that Holland & Italy poem. I hate it for you today and I hated it the first time I ever read it.
    Nella isn’t taking you to just Holland or just Italy-she’s taking you to Europe. Europe is parenthood.
    Anyhow, in my humble, humble opinion, that last black and white pic of Nella is Europe. S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G! Well Done!
    LP from Ontario

  142. Hi Kelle:
    I just wanted to let you know that both Holland and Italy are in Europe. Europe is quite a destination. I hate that Holland & Italy poem. I hate it for you today and I hated it the first time I ever read it.
    Nella isn’t taking you to just Holland or just Italy-she’s taking you to Europe. Europe is parenthood.
    Anyhow, in my humble, humble opinion, that last black and white pic of Nella is Europe. S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G! Well Done!
    LP from Ontario

  143. When I have days like this I pull out this video and song and feel SO much better. Helps me every time. I cry, but a good cry!!! Hope this helps and I just feel this song is MADE for our kids with a little something extra!!!

  144. A wise friends of mine once told me that “Life is Messy” and you know what it is but it’s beautiful as well. I feel your pain and sadness. I had so much anxiety for Sam’s first few appointments. It gets easier as I think I have had to grow a thick skin. Your not in this alone, we love you and your little family.

  145. Welcome to Holland! Wow, that is so perfect for so many situations in life…kids or no kids. IT is such a reminder to be happy in the moment instead of what you thought that moment should be like.

    Of course, your talent is oozing out again and got all over that wonderful birth announcement!

    Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

  146. Nella is beautiful. And perfect. She was sent here to make this world a better place. And every time I look at her sweet, sweet face I feel myself becoming a better person. I’m sure you are feeling a little more transformed everyday. Transformed by her beauty, by her simplicity,by her presence. She’s amazing.

    I LOVE her birth announcement!

  147. As always your writing is beautiful and the pictures of the girls are even more beauiful ! Nella is gorgous i would love to cuddle her ! You are so blessed mama !

  148. I just found your blog last weekend and have enjoyed every word and every picture! Your girls are beautiful…your family is beautiful. The pictures today are exceptionally amazing…especially Nella’s. That little face is speaking volumes to me…I think she’s very special indeed!

  149. I have been reading your blog and I can’t tear myself away. Your words make me want to be the best mother I can possibly be to my boys. Your photography is priceless and your children are perfect. Thank you, thank you for writing. You ARE.AN. INSPIRATION!

  150. it’s me, just peeking in to send you some love …
    because sometimes it’s just what we need …
    a big ole hug!

    is it already february 24th? holy crap! my baby boy was 22 months old yesterday!

    ummm, love nella’s new bunny hat!

  151. lainey and nella are both gorgeous and perfect.

    you make me want to be a better mama…

  152. Oh, my those eyes! You can see heaven in them! She is a darling girl!

  153. I love reading your blog. You are such a strong woman, and wonderful mother. You also take beautiful pictures!!! Thanks for sharing.

  154. Well I’m glad to hear you’re feeling exhaustion. Kidding! I am not glad to hear it, but it shows me you’re human lol ๐Ÿ˜‰ You look so gorgeous in your photos and seem to do it all, I wondered if you ever got tired ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I love your Holland/Italy remarks. I’m familiar with that poem as I am a teacher and it comes up a lot in ed classes. A parent is always just a step away from Holland, and you have to be ready to go there at any time.

  155. We too know Holland well. And curse Holland often. Our little boy was born with Spina Bifida. Our birth stories are similar but different. I loved reading yours. We have been in Holland 7 years now. Enjoy the journey. It is a hard but beautiful one!

    Here is the link to our birth story, if you ever have time to read!

  156. You ARE a rockstar! :) Hoping your bad days are few and far between.

    Nella’s birth annoucement is incredible! I wish I lived closer so you could do the birth annoucement/pictures for my new little girl due in July! :)

  157. I just love your blog! A friend of mine posted your beautiful Bunny’s birth story on Facebook and I’ve been hooked ever since. Thank you for pouring your heart out! Love. It. Your girls are just scrumptious! I was wondering, where did you get (or did you make…) that fantastic blanket?! I’m looking for one right now! :)

  158. My sister-in-law introduced me to your blog, and it is beautiful. Your children are lovely and you capture moments of truth so well. I have a picture I want to share with you (I am not a photographer like you), but I need to figure out how- I’ll post in on one of my blog’s and please feel free to visit…

  159. your daughter is absolutely beautiful, and each day it will get easier and easier. i never believed anyone when they said that, but 6 years later, i can say i finally get it. rockstar all the way.

  160. I came here via Design Mom. Nella’s birth story was absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. I had tears running down my cheeks, down my chin, down my neck. Your writing is beautiful.
    It sounds cliched but you really are an inspiration (and HOW do you manage to look so good with an infant and a toddler to take care of???).

    Anyway, I read the birth story just before going to bed and then couldn’t sleep because I was thinking it over so much. I had to get out of bed, read all your recent posts, and leave this comment.

    Thank you so much. The world could do with some more moms like you and some more little Nellas.

  161. Dear Kelle,

    You are a rock star with a capital R!

    Keep smiling. You do it so beautifully.

    Take care,

    Linda in New Zealand.

  162. MAMA, great going on the weight gain with sweet little Nella!
    Congratulations, you are doing a GREAT job, you are a fabulous mama.

    I LOVE your pictures and the birth announcement is SUCH a beautiful one!

    Sending you good vibes from Los Angeles!

  163. I don’t much like the Holland analogy myself because it makes our lives out to be going to a totally different place than when we started.

    Instead, I like to think of this journey as taking the scenic route through life. That is exactly what my husband said to me after we delivered our preciously perfect baby. Upon learning the news that our baby had Down syndrome in the delivery room, he took my hand and said, “It’s going to be okay. We’ll still get to where we were going, we’ll just be taking the scenic route”. How right he was. And it is a beautiful path I must say!

    The scenic route is a road less traveled and it may not always be smooth but it is always full of joy, laughter, and beauty.

  164. Your righting is so real and refreshing. I can’t wait until you have time to write a book! :)
    And wow – what a gorgeous birth announcement!
    Nella looks as cute as a button in her little bunny hat!

  165. Kelle,

    I’m new to your blog and just adore it. You make life so compelling. Congratulations on Nella – what a beautiful baby girl.

    I imagine you’ve heard of this book, but if you haven’t – Martha Beck’s “Expecting Adam” is one of my top 5 favorite reads. She found out she was carrying a son with Down’s Syndrome – it’s a really beautiful story.

  166. Oh my goodness…what absolutely beautiful kids! Love the pictures, and really love the 2 with her wearing the hat with the flower. The one where she is looing right at you just speaks to you! Adorable!

  167. That is the most beautiful birth announcement I have seen!

  168. Aw, our girls are so close in age! Though I do not have a special needs child, I had MANY of those days – and still do!! Motherhood…it never changes does it? We will worry about our girls I think at each doctor appointment, during the night when they sleep longer than normal, when they cry a cry we are unfamiliar with, with every breath we take. It’s our job. It is the hardest & most rewarding, famliar yet unfamiliar, a true journey of love. I LOVE reading your blogs, seeing the pics, and may I just finish this with saying I could just hold those girls of yours and kiss those little cheeks all day long, just as I do mine!! Thank you again for sharing. So beautiful, so touching!

  169. I haven’t posted a comment on your blog yet because I can’t imagine what I could possibly say to you that hasn’t been said already. I have a scientific background so I was taught the fine art of writing the shortest and most efficient sentences possible. When I read such amazing prose as yours I am in complete awe.

    I want to welcome you to the Down syndrome community. Once you have a child with Down syndrome you instantly have friends you have never met before.

    My son, Aidan, is 4 years old now. He was born one month after I finished my Ph.D., and he came as quite a shock to my system. I never had the “Why me?” feeling, but I was worried I wouldn’t know what to do since I had just immersed myself in an environment that valued intelligence above most other things for over 5 years. It turns out that Aidan was a gift to me. I have learned more from being his mother than from all of my years of grad school combined.

    Of course, there is that roller-coaster grieving process that we all have to go through, but I wish every time I talk to a new parent that I could give them a glimpse of their lives down the road. I wish I could go back to myself 4 years ago and erase the fear and doubt. It’s not all roses and sunshine, but even when it is hard and stressful, it is still good and great and more than I had ever dreamed.

    Nella is gorgeous. Welcome to the world, beautiful Nella. Anything is possible for you, Nella, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  170. every time i read your blog, i end up in tears. your words and images are stunning.

    that little baby of yours is absolutely beautiful. she’s an old soul.

  171. Wow, just found your blog. Nella is absolutely beautiful. Congratulations! I’ve bookmarked you, and will be back…

  172. Nella is so precious! Seriously–these pictures melt my heart.

    You’re such a wonderful mom, sweetie. Your posts always manage to give me goosebumps–the good kind.


  173. Hy, I just found your blog, and let me tell you that Nella’s birth story made me cry like a baby, what a beautiful story!
    Your girls are beautiful, and you really really take amazing pictures, the most amazing I have ever seen!
    Thank you for sharing with us your angels story, she’s the most beautiful baby girl ever.

  174. So many voices here. . . I’ll add mine as well. Nella is beautiful and you sum up so well the push-pull of emotions that come with finding out your child has special needs.

    My own son has cerebral palsy and some days it’s fine and some days it isn’t–like you, I can see that every child takes you on a road that you can’t predict.

    Beautiful words–thank you for sharing.

  175. I think YOU are breath-taking. Your writing is eloquent. You are a voice for many. I look forward to watching Nella and Lainie grow as you become an even more beautiful mother.

  176. Possibly when Nella is older she will teach you so much that you will appreciate Holland more b/c it is beautiful.

  177. Hi, I emailed you today..hope you got it. I am glad you made it through your first well baby check with Nella! I had little knots in my stomach reading about your first trek to the see her pediatrician. So glad it is behind you and that you left feeling so much better about things. Nella is the cutest little babe I have ever seen…pictures keep getting better and better or should I see Nella keeps getting cuter and cuter! :) xo. M.

  178. Kelle – You and your daughters are beautiful. As another writer said, I too am captivated by your words, your emotions, your descriptions. I hope that you feel as loved and as blessed as you are. These days of newborn-ness go by so quickly. Enjoy every bit of your new Nella. She belongs in your arms. Heather

  179. I think as Nella grows up you’ll find she takes you to Italy more often then you’ll be in Holland. The moment at the doctor’s office where you felt it was ‘just like Lainey’ ? You’ll have so many more moments like that…so many more typical experiences.

  180. Nella is perfectly gorgeous…what a gift to your family. Enjoy her and please keep sharing her!

  181. The beauty of raw emotions full of honesty! The Lord is using your experience and words to touch many others that may be experiencing this same ‘detour’ in life. It is easy to tell you are an amazing woman and mother that others can look at and say “Hey, I’m not the only person that has feelings or days like that.” Knowing that we are not alone on our journey is such a boost for us.
    I have had many of those days or even moments in the past 7 years since my youngest was born with Ds. You are not alone in having a tough moment when you curse Ds, so don’t feel guilty about it. Your beautiful Nella is your child first; Ds is just a tiny part of what makes her who she is. Your girls are so lucky to have their talented mother. Keep your chin up!
    Relate this new journey to your trip to the dr. You will have to keep learning to juggle new experiences and situations that having Nella will bring into your life, just like you juggled those sweet little bodies and diaper bag across the parking lot. I was extremely overwhelmed when God blessed us with our Olivia. I was juggling a 7 yr old, 3yr old, 15 mon old and a newborn with Ds and a heart issue. Many many times I didn’t think I would make it through the day. I learned to think about only the next thing I had to do and mark that off my list before I worried about other things on my list. When things began to spiral out of control my mantra was “This too shall pass.” I am keeping you in my prayers and thoughts and checking back frequently for your updates.
    God bless your family.

  182. My dearest kindred spirit,
    If I pass you in the airport on my journey, I will squeeze your hand.
    A fellow Holland tourist

  183. I learned of you from my lady friend at baby gap today! For one, I love love love dr foley and she too has gotten me through dealing with my son that has half a heart and has already had one open heart surgery with two more to go. the next one being end of march. i just want to say… you got this girl!!!! we mothers of special needs baby’s are chosen for a reason and while it took me awhile to realize this in my own life. my son who takes 13 medications a day and will endure more pain and struggle than I could ever imagine in this life continues to smile, laugh and coo and that makes me realize what this is all about. i see you have lots of support, but should you ever need support from a special needs mom. please contact me. i have been where you are oh’ so many times! i will continue to follow your journey and pray for your strength as you tread these new waters. God is good, have faith in that. Nella is beyond gorgeous!!!! Big hugs to you!
    my blog is

  184. Nella is SO beautiful, especially in the sleeping picture. How sweet. I love the hats. :-)

  185. Kelle,

    I am a new follower and love your honesty about motherhood and life.

    Where do you get Nella’s precious little knit hats?

  186. I happened upon your blog through a friend… I LOVE it! Thank you so much for sharing this journey with all of us.

    My husband’s sister has down syndrome and she is the happiest, sweetest, most lovely person. She grew up in a wonderful family that treats her the same as any one else. She is smart and funny and sweet and doesn’t know a bad thing in the world… oh to see the world through her pure eyes.

    Just by reading your blog for the past month I can tell that Nella is incredibly blessed to have you all as her family. I know she has such a beautiful future ahead of her… so many adventures and so much fun!

    Thank you for sharing your story… you are an inspiration! And your sweet girls are absolutely precious!

  187. Hey there – I’m out of the loop, but who are the two older boys with the blonde angel and adorable baby? :) I haven’t read about them before.

    Keep your chin up! Your life is beautiful!!! xoxo

  188. Nella is beautiful and strong. Kelle is beautiful and strong. The stars aligned when they brought you together. Amazing.


  189. Your words are truly an inspiration for all. Especially those who do not have children. We are living vicariously through your words and I’m loving every minute of it.

    Just remember, be thankful because they’re the reason for the light in your life.

    Your family is beautiful. God Bless You all.

  190. I keep coming back for more! I was reading and agreeing with everything you said because I have gone through those same emotions. I was smiling and fine, then I saw the announcement……… with those four beautiful faces of LOVE and BURST out crying!!!! Thank you for your wonderful blog and pictures that MOVE me!
    Also, you have the best playlist!!! :) Keep rockin’ mama! You ARE a rockstar!! :)

  191. Your girls are gorgeous! I just recently found your blog. Dr.s are suspecting that my son has DiGeorge Syndrome. It is a partial deletion of the 22nd chromosome. Your blog is so inspirational and helps assure me that whatever the diagnosis my baby will be great and do amazing things, just like your Nella!

  192. YOU CAN FREAKING DO IT!!!!!! You are a rockstar. You. Are.

  193. I have been reading your blog for a little while now and I just feel so inclined to tell you that Nella has to be one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen!!

  194. You will get lots of Italy- trust me. Sara will be 18 in April and called me the B word last summer as she marched out of the kitchen. I was stunned- and called her speech therapist to ask if we should be excited that she did a perfectly normal verbal teenage girl thing or mortified that my daughter with Down Syndrome just called me a bitch!

    You will hate the wooden shoes. I’m not fond of windmills either, but I have loved the tulips, blue skies and amazing people I have met along the way. You will too : )

  195. sending some hugs your way. Glad your appointment ended up good. Enjoying your pics, and thinking of you.

  196. I have been reading your blog for the last week. I am part of a group called and someone posted your link. We support each other through good times and bad. It sounds like you have a great support system too.
    Your writing style is beautiful. Your photos are amazing. Your children are gorgeous. Have a good day. I look forward to your next post.
    Ontario, Canada.

  197. I have been reading your blog for the last week. I am part of a group called and someone posted your link. We support each other through good times and bad. It sounds like you have a great support system too.
    Your writing style is beautiful. Your photos are amazing. Your children are gorgeous. Have a good day. I look forward to your next post.
    Ontario, Canada.

  198. I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.”
    –Rosalia de Castro,
    Galician writer

  199. I love how you look at life. You really are a rock star : )

  200. Since, you’re a rockstar, I’m sure this isn’t your first…but you have a Beautiful Blogger Award over on my blog. I am a new follower and I love, love, love your blog!

  201. Hi,
    I had my baby girl on January 23rd (I also have a 4 year old daughter) and have been reading your story this past month with great interest, as our wee beauties are so close in age. I have had a few “gray” days as well, but thankfully they have been few and far between. I am a photographer as well and want to thank you for inspiring me to take more photos of these special fleeting moments!
    Nella’s birth announcement is absolutely gorgeous, and reminds me to get on that!
    All the best for your gorgeous family,

  202. Oh man, I came over from Design Mom and I think that I was destined to read your story. I feel so guilty for squandering 14 years of a healthy boy. Our son was born with 4 out of the 5 physical markers of D.S. I cried so hard when they were trying to tell me I wanted to climb back in bed, and refuse to leave, I couldn’t call my mom, because I couldn’t say the words out loud…well, I couldn’t make eye contact with my husband, I couldn’t look at anyone, he does have the markers, but he is one of the rare few that does not have D.S. I forget the relief, the wagers with God I made that night, because your life goes on and you forget to count your blessings however the appear to you. Thank you for reminding me that life is a blessing, however it shows itself to you. You are a Rock Star, and I have learned a lot today.

  203. You ARE a rockstar my dear. As I sit incubating a baby-to-be, there are lots of unknowns – I’m the dreaded “Advanced Maternal Age” and I refused all tests. What is, is – was my theory. And yet there was a worry in the back of my mind “what if…” not for the baby, but for me, could I be a mom, worthy for it? I cry somedays when I read your blog, and I know that I have a rockstar in whose jeweled shoe footprints to follow – whether life throws us any twists or not.

  204. You are a rock-star! I found your blog when a friend linked to Nella’s birth story. Your family is beautiful, you are beautiful, your words and photos are beautiful. You are an inspiration and I wish you only the best.

    I linked to this post on my blog

  205. oh my goodness I just want to squeeze that precious baby. She is just so stinkin beautiful :) I love love love the birth announcement. I hate wooden shoes too, but tulips are gorgeous :) My little Holland tulip is about to be 1 and I am missing her newborn baby-ness.

  206. So beautiful, Kelle! You’re really gifted, and my goodness. are those girls LOVED.

  207. Kelle…my little boy has DS. Hes 6 months old. F*!K Holland…Our children are every bit as awesome, cool, perfect and wonderul as any trip we could ever dream. Enjoy this ride…it’s magical.

  208. Your blog is beautiful. I found it through a link off of Allison (OMyFamily) and thought you would like to know that as I read this post and scrolled through the pictures, my three year old nephew (who was sitting next to me on the couch) immediately said after the first picture of Nella, “That baby is really cute, isn’t she? She is a cute baby.”
    I had to agree.

  209. “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourself a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles.” – Helen Keller

    Best wishes for you and your beautiful family :)

  210. What an amazingly beautiful god-written story you have. Just came across your blog today. Nella is gorgeous beyond words.

  211. BLESS you for being honest. I have a dear friend with a beautiful daughter with DS. It’s those Moms who can openly say “F*%^ Holland” on occasion that give others the voice they feel too guilty to test out. It’s not all wine and roses, but it’s a journey nonetheless…Keep up the great work.

  212. Never in my life have a I read a more beautiful blog or birth story. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better mommy.

  213. It doesn’t get any better than this! Your birth announcement is most certainly the best I’ve ever seen. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing. Still addicted ๐Ÿ˜‰
    and p.s. if you divulge the names of your hat vendors, their stock will surely soar! Adorable!!! Nella’s bunny hat could not be more perfect.

  214. I just recently discovered your blog and am already addicted to it. You’ve inspired me to learn more about photography, to want to capture better pictures of my children, and to stop and enjoy the small things in life everyday. THANK YOU!

    I read a comment on your site from a reader the other day that said your words are like velvet chocolate and I think they hit the nail on the head. You write beautifully and I eagerly await new posts!

  215. Thank you! Thank you! for your words! I have been living in Holland since Miss Molly was born 2/12/09. There are many many days that I hate wooden shoes and curse Holland, but Molly has shown me to enjoy the little things and the small accomplishments she makes.

    Take care!


  216. I’m so glad you’re Nella’s mama. She got a good one!

  217. There are some blogs that just make you feel all warm and fuzzy to read, yours is one of them. There will be days like this, heck for every mom there is, but you handle them with beauty and honesty.

    Also SQUEE over the bunny hat and the b&w shot of Nella.

  218. I looked at your blog yesterday when a friend suggested I read it. I, too have a child with Down Syndrome (13 yr old boy we adopted at age 2 1/2) and my daughter has a blog that a lot of strangers stalk, including my friend that suggested yours. I’m glad she suggested it – I love your stories, and your creative writings. And the pictures… OH! Beauty! Your family is absolutely beautiful, and lucky to have so many pics to remember these good, and not so good, times. Can I just say, I am so glad to see you’re human!!?? I first read Nella’s birth story, and thought, “Oh, my gosh! This woman is insane. She’s going into labor and she remembers the cutesy fluff announcements she somehow had time to make for visitors to the hospital?!” Yeah, not happening in my lifetime!! So, it’s nice to see you have human traits that go along with your superhuman talents!! Thanks for sharing your story and talents with us. If you ever need a good cry, check out my grandsons blog at to see why my daughter has blog-stalkers, too! Enjoy every Holland / Italy / New Jersey moment of Nella’s life. It’s a ride, but worth the trip!!

  219. Wow, that’s an awesome birth announcement. Great pics!

    Nella is such a cute little baby (and possibly more adorable as a tucked-in bunny?!). Looking at your pictures of her just melts my heart. She’s so precious.

  220. Wow — how TRUE that all kids bring us to Holland sometimes — and all kids with DS bring us to Italy sometimes!

    This is one of my favorite “places” on the internet. So glad you’re so willing to share your life!

  221. Amazing! Just amazing! I love this blog and especially the photos of your precious girls! Your story is a beautiful one and I so love reading it! Keep it up, for crazy mommies all over the world!

  222. I don’t know you or your family, but I just wanted to let you know how much your blog and family has inspired me, and continues to inspire me every day. I had my new son on January 26 and found myself facing my second bout of postpartum depression. I have good days – – and then I have my gray days. I’m going to borrow the “rock star” mantra for a few days, if you don’t mind. Tomorrow, like all moms out there, I will wake up to a clean slate and I will enjoy WHEREVER the day takes me, be it Holland or Italy. Thank you for sharing your story, and I can’t wait to read your book!


  223. You and Brett make angel babies! :)

  224. you are such an awesome mom, each and every one of your blog posts touches my heart and soul, I always keep a box of tissues near bye! I love your photo’s as well so beautiful…. priceless.

  225. I love your blog. I have a 20 month old son, Jimmy, who has down syndrome. When I read your birth story, I think I realized for the first time so many emotions that I felt, that you felt, that I didn’t know I felt the first time around. If that makes any sense.

    I have a blog as well. I love your template and how you can post large photos. what is your background?

    Thank you for your wonderful blog! You spread sunshine in a way that is super special.

  226. Your story is beautiful, just like your girls. Nella is perfect, and I believe she chose you as her mummy, because you are the type of person who can change the world with your words and photos alone….I know this because you have already changed my views in the few short weeks I have followed your journey. Nella is such a lucky little girl! xo

  227. Your story is beautiful, just like your girls. Nella is perfect, and I believe she chose you as her mummy, because you are the type of person who can change the world with your words and photos alone….I know this because you have already changed my views in the few short weeks I have followed your journey. Nella is such a lucky little girl! xo

  228. It’s all right to cry, you are in mourning. In mourning for a life you thought you wanted. I promise you that it is not a life you will miss. Soon you will accept the challenge. You will wait with baited breath for the next challenge and accept it. But for now take the time to feel the sadness. It is all part of the healing process.

    I found out 4 years ago that my son has Asperger Syndrome. At the time it meant that all of the “weird” things he did would never go away. Now I accept these things witha smile and realise they are a part of him.


  229. You are an amazing person, with your beautiful Nella and Lainey. I am only 15 right now, but when I am oler I want to be just like you. Oh yes, and you are absolutely gorgeous. I know that no one’s life is perfect, but yours seems pretty close. I know you are living life and your two little ones are far more important than me, but if you get the chance you can read my blog at
    p.s. it is completely awful compared to yours, but I have fun with it.

  230. I’m new to your blog, a friend linked to Nella’s beautiful birth story on Facebook. I had to comment to tell you how gorgeous she is, really gorgeous, I’m not just saying that. And all your photographs are stunning, real treasures. I’ll definitely be a new follower. Thanks for being so real.

  231. I just love you and your outlook on life. I always feel overwhelmed by life and like to get stuck there. You just take it as it comes and then kick frustrations ass to the curb. Your girls are beautiful. Nella in the bunny hat is. to. die. for. You inspire me. You really do. Your blog is the first thing I check every morning. I wish you the best weekend ever with those babes.

  232. I love you and I do not even know you.

    I love Nella and I have never held her in my arms.

    I love your sister and the pictures of her holding Nella at the hospital. The pictures just speak love. Unconditional love. Perfect love. Acceptance. Peace. She holds Nella so close. So proud. She too inspires me.

    Your blog absolutely inspires me.

    I have read your birth story over and over. I cry every time.

    I have shared it with my readers. And still, some days I read it again. Knowing, the tears will come again. But it is a story about moving mountains and we all move mountains.

    I am a mom to five boys and some days I come really, seriously, completely lose my flipping mind. Sarcasm is survival for me. Some days I could just scream at the top of my lungs… Mom, Momma, Mommy, pulling at my leg, climbing all over me, baby crying, kids fighting, husband working, but it is just what we all go through.

    Everyone goes through it I am finding. The hurdles. The storms. The craziness. And then… and then we somehow move a mountain.

    Today, I needed to hear your update.

    At some point if you get a minute, read a post I put up a few days ago. It is about exactly what you’ve said, a new slate every day. Wipe it clean. Start new. It is from a book I love- Simple Abundance. I read it searching for simplicity in the life of chaos.

    But somehow this life I know I love.

    God bless you, your girls, your family.

    I wait patiently for more updates. I want to watch Nella’s story unfold.

    By the way, the bunny hat is darling! What a kind reader!

  233. I don’t have a lot to say other then “I get it.”

    There are good days and there are days that bring you to your knees.

    Just know that you’re not alone and your strength is inspiring to many people, even on the days you don’t feel strong.

  234. You are an amazing woman. Thank you for being so honest. It helps those of us who have been on this road for a year and a half. My “typical” children are 8 & 7 (boys) and a daughter that’s 5. My angel son is 19 months of joy. It’s the same….. just slower. and sometimes that’s nice.

    Remember that you will FOREVER be Nella’s hero. You will forever be her idol. You will forever walk on the ground she worships.

    You are a beautiful photographer, amazing with your words and I don’t even know the word to use for your ability share your story. Thank you.
    Shelly -AZ

  235. i know that you probably wont real all 225 comments, but i was told about your blog today and cried my eyes out while reading the birth story of your beautiful nella. I was 16 when my little sister was born, who also has down syndrome..I wanted to let you know that your 2 girls will be best friends, there will be fighting, shopping trips, boy advice, crying together, and laughing. I am now 22 and my sister is 6 but she is truly my best friend. They have such sweet hearts and i know my family would not be who we are without our Maddie. Both your daughters are beautiful. Enjoy every moment.

    ally mullin

  236. I love the birth announcement. Your writing is so real. Thank you.

  237. FWIW, I don’t like that “Welcome to Holland” poem at all. Funny, before I had a special needs kid, I thought it was just so wonderful. Now, well, not so much. There’s an autism bumper sticker that says, “next person who says autism is like a trip to Holland is getting a wooden shoe up their *#@!!” ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know there are many who truly love it, though, so to each their own. At any rate, hang in there hon. You’re doing great. It’s a roller coaster ride. Just hang on tight.

  238. I SO enjoyed reading this (and your birth story), as we are in the same boat, new to this new life. I’m so “in-love” with my Taylor girl though and am realizing more and more how “blessed” we are. Reading your experience only encourages me more… Erin

  239. I just fell upon your blog.
    I am so touched,changed and in love with your little bunny.
    In the past few years I have been given this huge heart and love for D.S. children I am not sure where it came from but I know one day I will know and find what I am supposed to do with this love.
    Nella is amazing and beautiful.
    What a beautiful family and an amazing story.You are a beautiful woman with an beautiful heart.We will keep you in our prayers and will be following your story.
    Bless you all,Leslie

  240. Thank you so much for your beautiful, heart-felt posts. I need these in my life right now…who would’ve know that your “crisis” would serve so many others during their time of need.

    Unlike Nella’s birth story, I have been given the head’s up that Baby #3 may have Down’s Syndrome (I’m currently 17-weeks). I am slowly coming to terms with the idea and have really latched on to the comment you made in the TARGET post…how you daughter HAS DS, is not a DS kiddo. There is such a difference; it’s not just semantics.

    Nella is beautiful and your ups and downs are preparing me for what might lie ahead.

    Thank you,

  241. Well, now that I have returned to a cruelly cold Michigan, I must resort to commenting as my way of cuddling my wondergirls. I so enjoyed being with you, Kelle, and with your girls and boys. I awakened this morning wishing I could start the coffee for you and steal my morning moments with the happily awakened Nella and Lainey. I swear Nella smiles…a real smile…like maybe Heaven is still on her lips. And the depth in her eyes is like a pool inviting one to step in. It will not be long until this little lady will need her purse, her puppy, her popiscle and her Poppa as we take our morning walk through Wilshire Lakes. Oh–and I am picturing wooden shoes with some Italian accents…and maybe some bling on the pointy tip…and maybe–oh, I know–light up wooden shoes that blink with each step. Yes, Double Dutching through Holland so everyone knows we’re comin’ through! Have a grand and glorious day!!!

  242. I’m so addicted to your blog…You fearlessly articulate the words that often dance around in my head, but never have the courage to come out…and thank you for that.
    I have an 8 month old baby girl, born with spina bifida. Some days I think “to hell with Holland”, but most days I feel like I’m already in Italy. Reading your words is so refreshing, and the images…breathtaking. And can we just talk about the hats?! I love them and want each and every one…thanks kelle

  243. hi!~ I just found your blog and it is great! I am going to subscribe now because just reading a few posts brought tears to my eyes. Plus, your photos and stories are great! Thanks for sharing your stories and thoughts!

  244. I was introduced to your blog last night and spent well over an hour reading through your posts, crying and enjoying your photography. I cannot stop coming back for another peek at your beautiful little Nella. She is such a gorgeous little girl.

  245. My 6 month old son can’t get enough of Nella :) He just stares at her pictures and talks to her. :)

  246. You are amazing! My youngest (my greatest divorce blessing) was born with down syndrome. Ty is now 3. As I read your story of her birth, I cried with you. It only gets better! Thank you for sharing your life, it is beautiful and sisters will be strong and oh so bonded. I have 3 boys…they rally around each other. We are blessed to have such special blessings in our lives. Can’t imagine life without my Ty.

  247. You should be happy and grateful that your daughter is healthy. The percentage of children with Down syndrome that also have major heart defects is very high. Hug your daughter and say thank you.

  248. You have an unbelievably beautiful family. I admire you.

  249. Oh my goodness. Your daughters are so breathtaking. Your birth narrative stopped my heart, and I’ve been glued ever since. Thank you for this, and good luck. You are most definitely a rockstar.

  250. The birth announcement is absolutely beautiful. My favorite pic is the one of the boys kissing their sisters. You are absolutely, positively blessed.

  251. Ah, the bad days. The really, really good days would not be as good without those bad days.

    Love you!

  252. Anonymous says:

    Your photos are the most amazing photos ever!!!! I am in awe!

  253. A friend introduced me to your blog. You are telling us a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing! My little girl will be 2 in April so I’m anxious to hear your daughters birthday plans. Have a great day. God Bless!

  254. Hi Kelle….

    A friend shared your blog with me last week and I have been captivated by your story. I must admit I did read it sort of backwards! :o) I thought what a beautiful family and how sweet and perfect these children are.

    I too am a photographer and I am in a slump as I really want a new lens and do not feel any creativity right now. But, wow, you inspire me so much. My subject is my daughter Brianna who just turned 12 on March 1st. She was a miracle from God through a lot of prayer & infertility treatments and we are just so blessed we did get to have one child. We wanted more…. But it just didn’t happen. I am 40 now and I did not ease into it gracefully. I am trying to find that silver lining of 40. It is hard.

    I want to share an album with you called Sleep, Baby Sleep by Nicolette Larson. She wrote an amazing lullaby album when she had her daughter and died from cancer several years later. It is so sweet, from the heart and just beautiful. That is why I call my baby MyRayOLite…. “baby you’re my little ray of light
    i could find you in the darkest nights
    if you cry then i will hold you tight
    never letting go, i would do that for you.”

  255. Beautiful…….

  256. you ARE a freaking rockstar. you make me want to be one too! i wish our daughters could be BFF’s… my harper is less than 2 weeks younger than nella.

  257. Hello,
    When I design custom invitations, I offer to design custom postage for my clients to complete the look of their invitation package. The party starts when the guests open their invitations, so setting the tone of the party with the invitation is important. But even before the envelope is opened, the first impression the guest has of the invitation is what’s on the outside.

  258. I just wanted to say that I love your blog. I’ve been reading so much the last few days. And now, reading about Italy and Holland, I had to smile again.
    Love from your new Dutch follower!

  259. You and your family and your story are so beautiful. I work with adults with down syndrome and I fall in LOVE with each and every one of them. They are pure innocence. They make me smile everyday. Thanks for sharing your story. I can’t stop reading and your pictures are amazing. You have two of the most beautiful girls. God bless.

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