Happiness is…

Happiness is…
…making sure to jump up and tap every reachable branch above you on an afternoon run. And then screaming “YES!” after you do it.

Happiness is…
…the “I trust you” face that prefaces the stomach-flipping delight of a daddy toss.


Happiness is
…spring driveway car washes. Preferably when the cars are small and plastic and passed down from big brothers who used to Flinstone-pedal down this same driveway years ago.


Happiness is…
…the heart-swelling feeling of “she belongs to me.”

Earrings, Miss Scarlet from Linkel Designs.

Happiness is…
…a Friday afternoon ballet recital, enthusiastically performed in our living room by Dot the Great and Lainey.


Happiness is…
…my soon-to-be stepfather who took a detour from his Orlando trip to come visit us. Yup, stepdad. Remember the EHarmony story? Well, my mom and George are happy and in love and later this spring, we will be driving to Michigan where my brother and sister and I will be giving my mom away. And that makes me happy. Because he makes her happy. And that will give my kids a fifth grandpa which is just plain cool.


Happiness is…
…four kids, two moms, and one overpriced bag of cotton candy at the Collier County Fair.


Happiness is…
…laughing at my girl who begged to ride the hamster wheel but just sat all shy and quiet in it during the entire ten minute ride.


Happiness is…
…being a kid again.


Happiness is…
…coming home with dirty feet and clothes that smelled like grease and cows and corndogs but, even better, a conked-out kid who would awaken with stories. Of rides and animals and cotton fluff that melted into sugary puddles on her tongue.


Happiness is…
…her “front gate” teeth. Crooked little pearls that make me smile.


Happiness is…
…tiny french braids. She is still and quiet as I braid, and I am careful to weave her hair as gently as I can so she continues to agree to this new braiding ritual. It makes me happy in that I-dreamed-of-this-when-I-was-twelve way. Because I always wanted a little girl who’d let me braid her hair ever since our old neighbor, April Shea, braided mine. She was in high school, she was cool, and she did the best french braids–no bumps. Because, God, there was nothing worse than going to school with bumpy braids. And I liked the way she used the wrong end of the comb to split my hair into the world’s straightest part…and the way I shivered when the comb hit the nape of my neck. I’m gonna perfect April Shea’s method, I am.


Happiness is…


Happiness is…
…cool contests.

I would like to announce a photo contest for my friends in the Down syndrome community. Conny Wenk and I provided photos for the book Diagnosis to Delivery: A Pregnant Mother’s Guide to Down Syndrome. DownSyndromePregnancy.org is moving on to other projects, which includes several booklets as well as Spanish translations. It will take some time to complete each of these projects, and quality photography will be an important part of each of them.

If you have a quality photo of your child with Down syndrome, you can submit it to me at kellehamptonblog@comcast.net. Please title your subject line PHOTO CONTEST. Your photo may be selected to be a part of DownSyndromePregnancy’s future projects, or appear on its blog.

While all photos are welcome, photography which features extended family, and photography showing fathers are of particular importance. Also, photos reflecting ethnic diversity are being sought as well. Please provide a sentence or two which identifies the individuals in the photo and their relationship to the person with Down syndrome, as well as ethnicity if important.

In order for photography to be used, the following criteria must be met:

1) You must own the copyright;
2) You must agree to full license for use by DownSyndromePregnancy.org.
3) Photos must be submitted in .tiff or .jpg files

There will be no financial payment for the use of such photos.

The text of the first booklet, “Your Loved One is Having a Baby with Down Syndrome” is complete. Photos, and funding for the design work is all that is needed to have a wonderful resource for the extended family and friends of parents learning of a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

I look forward to seeing all of those beautiful faces!

Giveaway Winner for the Bambaroos gift certificate: Comment #16, Tabitha: Thanks for sharing this today…it was good to hear and made me reminisce about my own childhood memories. also beautiful pictures and what pretty oranges!

Tabitha, please e-mail your info to kellehamptonblog@comcast.net, and some pretties will hit your mailbox soon!


Have a happy weekend. It’s a good weekend for dancing.

Happiness is…
Find it.



Leave a Comment
  1. Congrats to your Mom & future step dad!! So sweet! x

  2. Have a wonderful weekend Kelle! :)

  3. Congrats to your mother & George, I hope they have a beautiful marriage. And, to me, happiness is all these little bits of joy that you share. They make me smile a lot.

  4. Just beautiful pictures!!
    Now, what in the world is this hampster ride? I have NEVER seen this before – but it looks awesome!!!
    LOVE sisters sharing cotton candy. Makes my heart melt. :)

  5. wow another libby i like that. i like going to fairs. they are dirty and glorious at the same time.

  6. So happy for your mom!! That makes my little heart go pitter-patter :)

    I love love love Lainey’s cotton-candy skirt. SO CUTE! My girl needs one :) Is that from the new vendor?

  7. You capture childhood perfectly! Love Lainey’s carnival outfit!!

  8. Lainey in the hamster ball made me laugh & reminded me of my littlest little. So funny!! Congrats to your mom!! What awesome, beautiful news…5 grandpa’s is pretty darn cool!! Happy weekend

  9. I love the photo of you on the ride!
    We keep meaning to go to the Collier Fair, but when you don’t have kids there’s not much to do there, but take pictures. And I am already months behind on my editing.

    Great photos and inspiration as usual.

  10. CONGRATS to your mom! So cool. I’m tellin’ ya the Internet is the way to meet your true love. Worked for me and a couple of my friends. AWESOME!

    Oh, and the braids…lookin’ good mama. My DAD used to braid my hair for me…thanks for bringing back the memories. Smiles…

    Have a great weekend.

  11. I’m just a college student. Not a mommy…and I won’t be for awhile. But your blog and your sharing of your sweet precious children brings such a light to my day. Thanks. :)

  12. I love how L just sat in the hamster ball…such a sweetie! That would totally be Nelia too:)

    Congrats to your mom – that’s awesome!

  13. I absolutely love how you let Nella get dirty and go barefoot. I am trying to do more of that with my second little one thanks to your inspiration. Looks like another wonderful memory made!

  14. congratulations to your mom & george. and those fair pictures make me want to find a fair right now!

  15. Happiness is….
    going to my favorite blog and reading all about happiness just before my weekend starts! Thanks for making me smile {again} and {again} and {again!}

    Congrats to your family on your Mother’s upcoming wedding!

  16. Ooh… Look at thos enormous, blue Nella eyes! Gorgeous!

    Life is so much better when we can roll up our sleeves and get into it; you’re doing a great job of teaching your girls to enjoy the very best of life. It’s your biggest job as a mom, and you’re doing it well!

  17. I learned to braid my own (unruly, long, curly) hair at the age of 12 because my mom wasn’t able to do it for me. It’s one of the great pleasures I take in being the mother of three girls to braid their (unruly, long, curly) hair however they request it (“two like Pippi Longstocking;” “a long one with a ribbon;” “a crown that goes all the way around” and so on). What a lovely way to spend time with a precious daughter, and also to help keep her (unruly, long, curly) hair neat and tidy.

  18. You all make the county fair look so glamorous! We’ll have to check out ours this summer. :)

  19. Mmmmm Cotton Candy was recently established as the theme for my girl’s August birthday…this made me excited to get moving with the planning!
    Congrats to your mom!

  20. We call the fair a ‘mop fair’ here in central England. A new word for you (but not as good as Dickersons…)
    Congtatulations to your Mum as well.


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  22. ummmm pretty sure i have a blog crush on you!!! i recently added you to my blog roll- hope thats okay…i just didn’t want my readers to go another day without knowing you and your adorable family exist!!!!! thanks for posting- it makes me smile EVERY time. kristajoyfarrell.wordpress.com

  23. Happiness is…this post!! And reminding me of all the things to be happy for.
    Love all the pictures, especially the one with you on the swing ride! That is one of my favorite carnival rides!
    Congrats to your Mom!!!

  24. Ohh I can’t wait for the fair to get here. I love it so much. Congrats to your mom and your family that is very exciting. Happy weekend bless you

  25. I always love reading your posts! and your photographs are absolutely stunning! another gorgeous post!

  26. The tears flowed yet again. This time happy tears for your Mom and George. I can’t wait to see those pictures. Happiness is seeing your children smile as they play together on their new swing set.

  27. Ellie got out of the hospital today, and I spent all day taking pics.. and will be doing that ALL WEEKEND! So stoked about this contest!

  28. all beautifully captured moments, but I particularly like the last one, where Lainey is sharing her cotton candy with Nella!

  29. I’ve never craved cotton candy so much! Thanks for sharing such beautiful pictures.


  30. STUNNING photos.

  31. I adore your writing style – is that too crazy-teen-crush sounding? Sorry :), but every single time I visit your blog I am just captured by your words; funny, serious, thought provoking, and random. Oh and if you could post a tutorial on french braiding little girl’s hair, my daughter would appreciate it. If not, she will be doomed with Laura Ingalls braids for the rest of her life!

  32. Ok – I burst into tears when I read that George is going to be your stepfather! :) What a wonderful thing! :) And my favorite picture of this post is the one where Lainey is feeding Nella the cotton candy – adorable and it captures their bond as sisters beautifully! :)

  33. thank you for making me smile today :)

  34. you make mommyhood look oh so glamorous… and desirable! cheers to that, because someone has to! :)

  35. Beautiful as always. My heart aches when I look at your pictures for two reasons 1.They are amazing and yours kids are just precious and 2.I wish I had great pictures/talent like that that really capture moments in such a special way…but I sold my good camera. Insert frown here.

    Have a great weekend :)

  36. Happiness is your family you so generously share with us! Thank you Kelle. Happy Weekend! Enjoy!!

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  38. I read your blog because it’s always so inspirational. You hit the nail on the head today. Thanks. :)

  39. I was excited to see you in my google reader today. Just the boost needed. Thanks.

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  41. The book will be priceless to new mommies and their babies with a little something extra. The book the hospital gave me when my daughter was born was 30 years old- too outdated! Great Job Kelle! I sent my photos in!

  42. Happiness is…

    … reading your beautiful words and admiring the equally beautiful photos.

  43. I love all of this!! ANd I am SO VERY HAPPY for your Mom! Glad that she found Love. Yay!! Love Lainey’s hair. From your Blog Mama~

  44. Fantastic. Your writing is astounding, your photographs are perfection. Honestly, I don’t know how you do it all while promoting happiness. Not just in this post, but all that I have read. Thank you!

  45. The pictures from the carnival are beautiful! I’m a cotton candy lover like lainey. Random question, where did you get those gorgeous sandals? I want them!

  46. We found it tonight. Playing nerf football in the driveway. Fun. Fun. Fun! : )

  47. oh those daddy tosses scare the bejesus out of me while my husband looks at me with the “do you really think i’m going to drop our daughter” look

  48. Yay!!! Congratulations to the happy couple!
    Looks like a great day at the fair! My four year is next to me and saw Nella and said, “oh look at that face, what a cute baby!” I agree!! happy weekend!!

  49. Congrats to your mom. I met my husband on eHarmony :)

    I love the last photos of the girls sharing the cotton candy.

  50. 5 grampas? they should be so lucky! congrats to your mom!
    Love that french braid! I couldn’t french braid if I tried!

  51. They are getting married? That is so awesome! Can’t wait to read all about it.

  52. Congrats to gpa #5! The more the merrier in my opinion:) The fair looks amazing.

  53. Hahaha…I have that braid dream too. I’m so jealous! Is it really that warm in Florida right now – shorts and t’s. I wouldn’t mind trying that hamster ball myself.

    That’s so wonderful for your mom & George. Congrats and can’t wait to hear about the wonderful day. Will you be the photographer?


  54. Love your mom’s love story! That is so cool.

    Love your photos as always, but I also tend to focus on the smallest details. So this is how twisted I am…I laughed out loud at the little kid crying on the swing ride, behind you.

    I’m a bad person.

  55. thanks for sharing! just what i needed to hear! ready to make lots of happy memories this weekend.

  56. I’ve been following your lovely blog for quite some time. It is one of my favorite’s and I always get excited when I see a new post. I hadn’t read the eharmony post until now. My husband and I met on eharmony and I will be the first to say that I never in a million years was one of “those people” that would turn to the internet for love. But, I am a success story, along with my husbands mom and his step dad who, too, met on eharmony!

    Blessings to your mom and soon to be step dad. Great post, as usual!

  57. Congrats to your girls on adding a fifth grandparent into the mix! Also, loved to see the smiles at the fair. This post made my day…thinking about doing a “Happiness Is…” post on my blog now to uplift my spirits!

  58. After a week of nonstop rain, your pictures alone makes me daydream of the nice weather around the corner!

    Also, I love how you ended this post. “Happiness is…
    …present. Find it.” Oh yeah, that’s going up on my fridge! Thank you!!

  59. Yea for your mom!!! Good for them!!

  60. The fair looked like so much fun! Makes me excited for my Texas state fair this fall! Beautiful pictures, as always!


  61. Happiness is reading to my daughter’s, (who is not “typical”) typical second grade class and realizing that to wish she was any other way would be to wish away Lizzy. And that would be so far from happiness that I can’t even imagine it. Thank you for your lovely post and your wonderful photos.

  62. Kelle,
    You gently remind me with each visit to your blog:
    Happiness is….a choice.

    Thank you for being such a sweet teacher.

  63. Kelle, your carnival photography could win awards! And congrats to your mom!!!


  64. congrats to your mom and stepdad. and i love the pics from the county fair , esp the last ones !!! Ahhhh swoon !!!

    Love and blessings
    the doughtys

  65. Love it!!

  66. It looks like Lainey had a blast af the fair..And I love their outfits Adorable:) Im looking forward to taking my son who will be 4 in August to the fair this year..even more so after seeing your photos/ reading your post:)
    Congrats to your mom and future step Dad! I believe in Love!!!

  67. What a cool resource the guide for expecting parents is. Also, I’ve gotta say based on this + every other post you’ve ever done, your kids are getting an awesome childhood. I hope I can do half as well.

  68. Happiness is clicking this bookmark and finding a new blog to read as the day cools to evening.
    And by the way, Nella has got beautiful eyes, which I am sure you get lost in all the time, but I just today noticed the little brown starbursts amidst the blue! How unique!

  69. Ahhh enjoy them while they’re small and the whole world is magical.

    Congrats to Mom!!

  70. Oh my goodness! The part about having a bumpy braid being a complete tragedy is so true! A bumpy braid could turn a whole day into a disaster!!!!

  71. Congrats to your mom & future stepdad! yay!

    Your pics of the girls today are so cute- my almost 5 yr old son was looking with me and at all of Nella’s pics was saying ‘Hey! She makes the same faces Brynn makes! Hey! She does the same things Brynn does!’ He also said she is a beautiful baby! And that Lainey is a good dancer. lol

  72. your mom and step dad look like the kindest people imaginable. congrats!

  73. I am a photographer in the Southeast Iowa area (Burlington,IA) to be exact and would be happy to do a couple free mini sessions of little ones that would like to be submitted for your projects! You are a wonderful inspiration! contact Memories by Brandi on facebook!

  74. To me, there’s not much better than they joys of the fair…the nostalgia, lights and rides, deep fried and sugar coated everything, and just the general atmosphere

    Happiness is….my sweet angel baby reaching for her mommy and laying her head on my shoulder, not wanting to let go.

  75. The hamster wheel has me in stitches … priceless!!!
    what a brave girl none the less :) LOVE IT!

  76. What a fabulous post! Congrats to your mom and George! A girl can never have too many granpas.

    Where did you get your fabulous sandals?? I am swooning over them…


  77. Ok, you’re a woman after my own heart. Happiness is
    …loving the intricate stories spewing from my three year old’s mouth.

    …watching her dress as Dorothy, Glinda, Sleeping Beauty, or a fairy daily.

    …being asked to make a Wendy Darling dress.

    …getting a new/used dog on Sunday. A boy with a big gentle heart that’s already forced his way into our souls.

    …attending a photography seminar and finally using Lightroom (love it!)

    …reading your list and simply beaming about your Mom.


    Jennifer from Annapolis

  78. i have never heard or seen of such a thing as that hamster ball! i want to go in one and try it out. hot dog!

    and thanks for a beautiful post on happiness. this is TRUE love.

  79. I absolutely love reading your blog. You have such a way with words that make me smile each time I visit your blog. Thanks for the inspiration and the beautiful pics.! Have a great weekend.

  80. LOVE!

  81. You may have the most photographed feet of all time! ;P They are cute feet too. Mine are all wonky. Guess that’s why I don’t take pictures of them!

  82. Just had to say I love the braid! My mom used to french braid our hair when we were little. My two favorites…the crown that went all the way around the head and the heart for valentines day!!

  83. Congrats on getting an extra Grandpa! :) Love your post – as usual. 😉 I say that alot, don’t I? lol. Loving the carnival/fair. Loving the braid. And lemonade. Love it all! :)

  84. The picture of you and Nella….it made me smile, so big!

  85. So happy for your mom and for you & your siblings. Everything is much better when you know your mom and dad are happy;)

    we are enjoying your weather, makes me wish I lived in this climate all year. We watched our first sunset slip behind the ocean. Glorious. It is amazing how far I have come in one year. Last year on this trip I was barely holding it together, I had just found your blog, it was the floatation device I needed until I figured it out on my own.

    I hope u got my other messages….

  86. Happiness is a new post on a Friday night!! The carnival pictures all just blow me away!! Amazing :)

  87. And congrats to your mom and stepdad =)

  88. Congrats to your mama! I remember how happy she looked in the pictures you posted when they visited earlier. I love a happy ending!

  89. Literally in tears about your mom and George! While my mom has rounded out her first year of widow-hood with her inner Betty, I long for nothing more than catching the shadow of her hand being held in the softness of a orangy sunset by a new love.

    Simply wonderfulness!

    From Houston-

  90. 5 grandpas…lucky kids! Wow!

    I am loving the pictures – especially the one of you on the swing. Amazing!

    The one of Lainey in the hamster ball – made me feel claustrophobic. Instantly.

  91. a few things…
    1. I have recently stumbled onto your blog, and LOVE IT!
    2. I also love the shoes that you wore at the fair.
    3. The swings are still my favorite ride of all time… I am 22 years old.
    4. I also dream of the day for when I have little girl so I can braid her hair. :)
    5. I love the music you put on here :)

  92. Happiness is…those adorable sandals, too! Where’d you snag them?
    I just love the picture of Brett holding Nella asleep on his shoulder. Something so compelling about daddy’s holding their littles, and how the trust of those littles is so obvious and present. Our little boy does the same. Love it!

  93. Funny that you write about happiness today…I just received my copy of 14000 Things to Be Happy About in the mail this afternoon! (Which I heard about from you…in a post a long while back). Opening it up randomly just now, I read “lemon shake up drinks at the fair”. Happy!

  94. It will truly be a gift that day you get to give your mom away…what a sweet reversal of roles! I sometimes think love is almost more tender the second time around. You have been there already…and the decision to open yourself up to another human so willingly-the marrow of life, baby!
    You nailed that picture of Lainey feeding her cotton candy to Nella…love it!
    And the book project, what a wonderful way to begin such a scary journey. I hope you get some pictures of parents with their adult children. I think that could be an even greater source of hope…not just the newborn scariness of milestones and health worries but the real sense of someday it WILL be okay. And not just okay but there is a future for them that is bright and satisfying and beautiful. And not very much different than any other family. ‘Cuz isn’t that what it all boils down to anyway??? “More alike than different” to quote someone fabulous…;)

  95. So happy for your Mama and George! I especially loved, loved, loved, the blog today! I also am digging the fact that the kids will have 5 Grandpa’s.

    Be blessed,

  96. My favourite of all… “happiness is present… find it”
    truer words have never been spoken. LOVES!

  97. Congrats to your Mom & future Step-dad! So exciting!!

    Also, love all the happiness reminders & the pic of Lainey looking over her shoulder on the swing! BTW…those things terrify me!

  98. I love reading your posts! And when a new one pops into my reader scroll, I save it for later, when my babies are napping or in bed for the night so I can read uninterrupted. And after tonight’s post, I am determined to get my babies to a carnival this year…you know, once this Michigan winter stops photo-bombing the beautiful spring weather I’ve been dreaming about. Seriously, your posts motivate me to stop being such a perfectionist, neat-freak and leave the damn dishes in the sink so I can do something fun with my kids. I don’t want their childhood memories to be of me organizing the spice rack haha!

  99. Congrats to your mom. Thank you for my happy place.

  100. I love that your daughter just sat in that big hamster wheel, because I think it’s sort of what I would do too. Being inside a huge ball, on water to watch the world go by around you must feel a little odd. She’s too cute.

    Great fair photos!

  101. Yeah for LOVE congrats to your mom. I can’t wait until the weather warms up here so we can get out and soak up the sun. I love the carnival pics!!

  102. Your pictures are unbelievable!

  103. happiness is reading your blog posts and living vicariously through you, in your beautiful Florida weather :)

  104. this post made me so happy. filled me up with wonderful emotions. The lainey feeding nella cotton candy photo is beautiful. much love

  105. This is such a sweet post Kelle. Congrats to your family. What a great step dad he will be. :) HUGS

  106. I’m glad the girls are getting another grandpa. There is nothing in the world more special than grandparents. I just lost my Grandpa last week and will never be the same. Cherish every moment.

  107. loVe me some cotton candy~ all the pictures just scream happiness!

    congrats kelle’s mom & george. how great is that! inspiring to think that finding happily ever after can come at any age~

  108. Congrats on your mom’s engagement! I will be celebrating my 4th Anniversary in May with my husband who I also met through e-harmony! My dog’s middle name is even Harmony after the website :-)

    I was already excited to take my daughter to the fair tomorrow and now I am even more excited!! Happy weekend!

  109. Such a beautiful and touching post.
    You really *get* what is important and I never get sick of seeing your photos.
    Your girls are always dressed so colourfully and that pop of colour looks great!
    Happy, happy!! :)

  110. Your “new” step-dad is so cute!! So glad he stopped by:0) Congrats to your mom too! Looks you had quite the time at the fair. I love that swing ride and of course, anything that spins you around. It always makes me laugh uncontrollably. Have a great weekend!!!

  111. I love Lainey’s braid. I have a little girl, Nella’s age , who has almost no hair and I can NOT wait till I can braid her hair…

  112. Sooooo happy for your mom!!!! How exciting and fun!!!!

    Oh I love the fair pix :-)

  113. I don’t even have kids yet. But, I showed my husband your blog and said “this is an example of a mom who LOVES her kids.” Your blog warms my heart. I hope when I have kids I can capture the everyday moments the way you do. You make the most ordinary day seem so special.

    PS – there was NOTHING worse than lumps in braids. My mom used to make the lumpiest french braids. I think thats why I perfected braids on my little pony as soon as I could….so my future daughter wouldn’t have to suffer as I did….haha

  114. Your daughters are beautiful. I’ve been reading your blog for a year but have never commented. I don’t know you but I feel like I do and I can’t describe how dear to my heart Nella is. My mom has taught special education for the past 30 years and I have always had an incredible bond with her ds students. Their is a sweet innocence to these incredible beings that can’t be described. You are an amazing mother and advocate and I strive to be as selfless, loving, caring and incredible as you while raising my girls. Cheers!

  115. OOOhh! Nella’s eyelashes are soo long! And she makes the same face – scrunched up smile my little Caleb makes – so freakin cute, and get whatever you wantish.
    Happy for your mom – so great to have a chance at love a little later. Wonderful – your posts make me wish for the sun! Beautiful as always!

  116. Congrats for your mom en future step-dad.

    You made again a wonderful story and pictures.

    I wish you a wonderful weekend.

    Love Mirella

  117. Yay! Congrats to your mom, that is so awesome!

    The swings were and still are my favorite ride at the fair, it looks like yall had a great time!

    The french braid story reminds me of when I was around 11 or so and my mom’s friend taught me how to french braid. My older step-sister, being the only one of us girls with long hair, would sit for hours and let me practice on her until I perfected it. But I finally did, no bumps!

  118. fabulous photos of the carnival but I have to say I am seriously in love with the photo of you snuggling Nella….THAT SMILE of her IS happiness! :)

  119. Let’s see… Congrats to your mom & George (I love to hear of love in the later-middle decades 😉
    Love the fair pics & can’t pic one favorite. It’s a tie betw Lainey alone w cotton candy on curb w knees poking out from fluffy frills & cutie red tennies, or Lainey feeding Nella (just as I love the Lainey spooning frozen yogurt/ice cream to Nella pic). The colors and energetic movement of the fair make for such great photos, subjects & backgrounds.
    My mom didn’t braid but my Cousin Wendy did.. & almost as good as the French braid were the wavy waves after sleeping on it for a night & undoing the braid…(esp for me w super straight hair)!
    I hope the mom of Hazel sends you a pic for the contest!

  120. i just adore your blog

  121. Oh my lord! Leave it to you to get a perfect foot shot while you are swinging a millions miles an hour on a swing!!! You are too funny!! I love the way your moms man is staring at Nella! He sure fits right in:) Congratulations to your mom that is so wonderful that she has found happiness!

    Happy weekening

    Love Chantelle

  122. The swings at the fair are the best!! (That and the fresh-squeezed lemonad and cotton candy, of course!)

    A hearty congratulations to your mom for finding happiness and love! And to your girls for getting a fifth grandpa! :)

  123. happiness is sitting outside in the spring- sun, a saturday morning with my litte girl <3

    thank you for your beatuiful posts, you are an inspiration to me as a mother:)

  124. Kelle, I loved the post but the BEST is the NEW STEPDAD! WOO HOO! And Spring in Michigan–well, we all know how that can go! I pray for a safe drive. I pray for a blessed union and I pray for happiness for your entire FAMILY! The coolest gift, is he’s already taking time for YOU and YOUR GIRLS before he’s your stepdad! He certainly ROCKS!

  125. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am to read that you and Connie Wenk are working together!!! Connie is one of my most favorite photographers ever!

    Congratulations on your mom’s engagement and upcoming wedding! Wonderful news! I can’t wait to see your lovely littles in their wedding day frillies!♥

  126. Happiness is…. listening to the sound of my little squeal in enjoyment from something at my feet as I get lost in this post. When I finish I look down to find that she has completely torn apart her “portable changing station” and is playing in a pile of diapers.

    Love this post. Have a great weekend!!!

  127. That is SO SWEET to be able to visit a county fair now! We have to wait at least until late July! That would be SO lovely right now!
    Love the pictures! Thank you!

  128. love this post and the pictures within… you’re amazing. thank you.

  129. I too will be going to michigan this spring for a wedding. My grandmothers wedding. She turned 70 yesterday and I am just so excited and happy for her! Michigan is perfect for wedding!

  130. Congrats to your mom!! what a great story.
    Great post today. Happiness is my little boy’s construction birthday party later this afternoon!! Back to work on my digger cake….

  131. I have to say that Nella is about the most beautiful baby ever and I know you’re a fantastic photographer and all but really, she’s a little slice of heaven.

  132. I’ve had my own funk going on lately – a strong one that I couldn’t just shake. So I decided to go through your archives to pull me back into a happy place….AND IT WORKED! The icing on the cake is this post, just the perfect way to start my beautiful Saturday, now I’m off to find a when our county fair is because we SOOO need some over priced Cotton Candy!
    Good luck on the book project, it sounds amazing!

  133. Your blog is so beautiful that I could just cry….truly.

    What wonderful photos….the one of you and Nella at the fairground with the lights in the background is beyond GORGEOUS!!!

    This was just the post I needed to read this afternoon….thank you.

  134. Happiness is…seeing a post like this in your Google Reader on a Saturday morning.

  135. Love your story about the braids…I had a cousin who could do the best “no-bump” braids around! I think yours look great!

  136. so sweet kelle, really. i needed this today. and how do you get those beautiful, spinny action shots on the rides like that? like you have one thing in focus and the rest is spinny?! just plain cool!

  137. Love the picture of Nella sleeping on Brett! Thats the best feeling ever!

  138. My little Lilah has the same two crooked teeth! Beautiful braid and beautiful memories!

  139. Beautiful post! I used to love it when my mom would take the time to braid my hair! Love Lainey’s hair! And congrats to your mom and George, it is such a wonderful thing! Beautiful girls as always!

  140. also, where do your girls get that beautiful blonde hair? was someone originally blonde..?

  141. Happiness is reading your blog with my black tea on Saturday morning!

    Kelle, do you ever have a no-makeup, stained T-shirt, and sweats day? I know you claim not to have it all together, but you sure always look put together!

  142. Wow! ……am I behind on your bolg….this keeping up with a 3 year old, 1 year old and their mother is very time consuming! BUT so much fun!!!!!

    xo, Bug & Ruby’s Gram

  143. The kids looked like they had so much fun at the fair, including you. Happiness is stopping to enjoy the small and simple things in our lives.

  144. It’s county fair time already?!? Crazy. We don’t have county fairs ’til July, and state fair in August. Can’t wrap my brain around county fairs in March! : )

  145. Wheee! This makes me wish our Canadian winter was OVERRR (well, technically it is, but tell that to the feet – yes, that’s plural – of snow still on my lawn) and that I was walking with wonder into one of our amazing fairs, just like the one in your pictures, that happen all over the place in our short – but terribly sweet – summer months! Canadians love our winters as an essential part of our national identity, but that being said, we squeeze every last drop out of our fleeting but glorious summer. I want it to be just before sunset, with that golden sun, walking through the gates of a summer fair, ready for rides, sugary snacks, and then a starlit and dewy stroll home with my fella.

    Sigh… your pics bring back memories, but also make me so excited to some day share that carnival fun with my future littles!!

  146. what a gorgeous post… the little things are the ones that really make us happy!

  147. Kelle thanks so much for this post. After the Japan earthquake and everything that ensued thereafter, I think the entire world was glued to their television sets the past week and a half. It’s been a time where a lot of people have been filled with grief, fear and sadnesss. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. It reminds us there’s still a lot to be happy about in the world, and often times the greatest joys are in our back yards.

  148. What a wonderful, wonderful post! I’m so excited for your mom and excited that you get to give her away.
    My happiness is: my newest nephew arrived on Sunday and he has designer genes. He is beautiful and perfect. Happiness is: dancing like an idiot in the driveway when we found out the scariest possible news (that he had hepadablastoma) was actually benign.

  149. AHHH! Oh my goodness I love love love the ‘she belongs to me’ photo of Nella. SO precious!!

    Also, that hampster thing?? I would totally do that!! I’ve never seen one at a fair before!

  150. Hiya, dont know if we have already filled you inbox with photos but I sent you an email for the photo contest and it was returned?

  151. YEA!! Hurray for online romance. Congrats to your mom and soon to be stepdad!

  152. Smiling…Such a beautiful post! Congratulations to your Mom and George! I am so happy you are involved with DownSyndromePregnancy.org and their projects! Thank you so much for all the great work you do… :))). xox

    We are, each of us, like beautiful snowflakes -unique, and born for a specific reason and purpose.” ~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

  153. Sing it, sister!

  154. LOVE! Your girls are so beautiful- Lainey looks so grown up all of a sudden! xxx

  155. I love a carnival. SO MUCH FUN.

  156. First of all, I LOVE your blog! It warms my heart. I read this article about a family trying to adopt a precious down syndrome baby and the judge rejected the request because he thinks the baby should stay in an institution. The story broke my heart and I thought since you are such a big advocate for the down syndrome community maybe you could help spread the word. Here’s the link to the story: http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-atlanta/adoption-family-fights-to-adopt-son-despite-judge-who-says-no?fb_comment=31236631

  157. We took our son to see Mary Poppins on stage tonight. A row below us was a teenager/young adult with Down’s syndrome. He was enjoying the show, and his mom was enjoying it and him. It made me think of you and all of the wonderful memories-yet-to-come that you will make not only with Lainey but also with Nella. After all, it doesn’t matter the age or the number of chromosomes, good kids’ theatre, cotton candy, and county fairs can be exciting at any age… :)

  158. This post is Happiness!! :)


  159. I heard this song, and Girl, it’s your anthem if ever I heard one. I told Dig This Chick the same thing. I love it, going to be the theme when my little girl comes home from Ukraine. She’s gonna rock this Whole Wide World. LOVE IT!!!


  160. I think those might just be my favorite pictures YET! Congratulations to your family on your “newest addition” =P

  161. Oh Kelle Hampton. You make me want to be domestic. :)
    This might be a dumb question… But I’m doing the math and I just can’t figure out how your kids could have FIVE grandpas… unless that includes some greats? Someone help me out here…

  162. As I always say you are SUCH an inspiration to me I dont even think you understand.
    Learning the new life of a child with a disability is hard and frustrating and coming to your page every day to remind me how blessed I am and to remember the small things make me feel a lot better. I do hope to one day ahve the support you have, and thankyou for unknowingly helping me through these rough times

  163. Congratulations to your mum!

  164. I love how positive you are… how when I think of the fair, all I can think of is overwhelming heat, long lines and an exhausted toddler and mummy at the end of the day. After reading your entry today, I’m excited to take my little buddy to the fair this year because I know he’ll enjoy it and look at it in a whole different way than we do, as practical parents! thanks so much!

    ps: your girls are growing so fast!!!!

  165. bells!
    george is sooooo cute! had awesome time at the fair…like, maybe the BEST time i have ever had at a fair. no, not maybe…was the most fun time i’ve ever had a fair!!!!

    i think i’m tired.

    love you.

    our kids are…amazing.

  166. Congrats to you mom and George. I love that they met on eHarmony – especially since you thought she would never in a million years do something like that. Isn’t is great when someone, especially a parent, can surprise us like that? I have been a loyal reader of your blog for quite a while, but have never commented on anything. I am a mom to 4 wonderful kids, one of whom is developmentally delayed, and it has been tough and wonderful and heartbreaking and soul enriching and a million other things that I could never put into words. You write so beautifully it sometimes moves me to tears. Your posts have gotten me through some hard days and your pictures of your beautiful girls (and the rest of your amazing family/friends) always put a smile on my face. Thank you for doing what you do.

  167. This is unrelated to this beautiful post but someone just forwarded me this story…. perhaps you know of someone who could help advocate for this family who wants to help one child realize his full potential?


  168. this post brought tears to my eyes. thankful to have the opportunity to find happiness everyday, and on this sunday morning. bless you.

  169. HAPPINESS IS…learning to chicken peck with one hand on my keyboard cuz my other hand/arm is holding my 3 week old bundle of love…my lil Lainey Pauline!

    that is wonderful about your mom! i wish that kind of happiness for my mama!

  170. Happiness is coming to Kelle’s page everyday and seeing two beautiful, flourishing children that make hearts melt — and also happen to make days better. :) Love those beautiful girls!

  171. I love Lainey’s fifth position in her “recital”, she’s got potential!

  172. I’m a new mom and I think this sentence you wrote pretty much sums up motherhood:

    Happiness is…
    …the heart-swelling feeling of “she belongs to me.”

    Congratulations on your magical and magnetic (I am drawn to it each and every day) blog… thank you for letting me be a part of your world, thank you for your constant inspiration, thank you for your words and images.

  173. Again – such beautiful photos! You need to write a book or provide classes for all us novices! Thanks for providing a great start to my day.

  174. That pic of Nella asleep in daddy’s arms? Oh she’s so beautiful! And Lainey frozen in the hampster “ride” so funny!

  175. What a wonderfully happy post…full of good things. That carnival trip is the stuff that memories are made of.

  176. i wish i could photograph like you.
    totally jealous.
    my kids think having lots of grandpa’s is the coolest thing ever!!

  177. LOVE!

  178. I love that french braid! I can’t do them, so I’m always impressed when people can!

  179. happiness is…
    experiencing the way you constantly capture beautiful through images and words.

  180. I just found your blog, I don’t know what took me so long. Your life is so inspirational, I’m so in love.

  181. There is a song by Hey Rosetta! called “Welcome”, and it makes me think of all the amazing children like Nella.


    One part of the lyric:
    “i can feel you, and what you’re going to be
    you’ll be stronger, you’ll be smarter than me!
    oh baby! i’ll say it again
    you’re the most incredible thing!”

  182. Has anyone ever told you what a striking resemblance you have to the singer Feist?

  183. I love the car washing, so adorable!

  184. Love this idea…need to borrow it so I can keep my happiness in check! We just came home from a vac. in FL and I’m having a pity party when I have so much to be thankful for and happy about! thanks for the reminder!

  185. Tough decision today — my favorites are the squinty-eyed happy swinging picture and the next to last one where they share the cotton candy.

  186. That picture of Brett holding sleeping Nella is amazing. Frame it for happy thoughts :)

  187. Nella has such beautiful blue eyes and her little teeth are so cute!

    Congrats to your Mom and George!! What a sweet, touching story. :)

  188. Your pictures seem to always bring a smile to my face!

    I’m new to the blogging world and I’d love for you and all your readers to stop by :)


  189. This comment has been removed by the author.

  190. I just wanted to drop by and say that your girls are absolutely beautiful. They just shine so radiantly. How truly blessed you are to have them and how truly blessed they are to have you!!

  191. Happiness is jumping up in the hall and trying to reach the top of the archway… even though you are not even 5’2 and you don’t make it; it was sure fun trying! 😀

    Thanks for your very FUN blog!
    Corine 😀

  192. Have you seen this sibling video? Beautiful!!!


  193. Your photography is so beautiful! I’m jealous of your skills. I don’t have a child with Downs, but I do have one who is Autistic. The early days with him were hard, but he is an amazing light in our lives. He is truly wired for love. All 11 of his siblings think he is the coolest!

  194. Congratulations to your Mom and George! Looking forward to seeing photos.

  195. COMPLIMENTI!hai un blog meraviglioso,i tuoi post sono stupendi,foto che fanno sognare e due bimbe magnifiche…complimenti ancora!!!

  196. Thank-you for this post today. I needed it on the grumpy Monday morning :)

  197. Love your photos . . .everyday! <3 Such sweet girls!

  198. Although you’ve probably already encountered this song, it made me think of you and your sweet girls, so I thought I’d mention it:


    My kids always want to know what your two are doing & never forget to ask about your blog! :) (And of course, I love it, too.)

    Cathy in Missouri

  199. What a great way to start off my Monday!!!


  200. You describe the French braid perfectly!! I had Karen as my braider. She would do one down the middle, one on each side but my favorite was a Fishtail! My daughter is 2 1/2 with very fine hair but I dream of the day I do this to her hair. I try now but with no success. And you are right, there can’t be any bumps!
    Thanks always for your blog. It warms my heart,

  201. So many wonderful things in this post. My 3 year old daughter is very worried though. We look at your blog every day. She asks me the same question about your girls when they are in the pictures alone. “Mom, are they by themselves? Where in the world is their mommy? That’s not safe ya know. You don’t go to the circus by yourself when you are only little” It cracks me up. As always, thanks for sharing your beautiful life with us. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought or done something differently that was for good because of your writing. Greatness is a word for you.

  202. Love all of this :)

  203. lol, i forgot about april shea! ha!

    love lainey’s shy smile in the bee ride.

  204. Happiness is… catching up on your blog after my hectic last couple weeks created an unwanted absence from your breathtaking photos and mellifluous words.

    Happiness is… watching one of my best friends laugh with joy while saying her vows this weekend.

    Happiness is… 95 degree weather and the necessity to wear sunblock at a cycling race.

    Happiness is… homemade pizza and friends around my dinner table for one last hurrah before a move.

  205. Where did you get your sandals? I am looking and looking and I want some like yours!

    And your babies are still close to the cutest I’ve ever seen (after my daughter of course!)


  206. Hooray for the wedding! Lainey is such a good big sister. We are expecting our second, but the first always holds a special place in my heart even if she’s no longer the baby :)

  207. My kids have 4 grandpas and 1 great grandpa….I have 3 sets of parents (not including my ex in-laws)…People think it’s strange…
    I think I’m the luckiest girl in the world..and my kids are even luckier to have so many grandparents!

    Congrats to your mom and your pictures always make me smile!

  208. Long time reader – love your blog! Careful with those water walking balls, though. Saw this today from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: http://ht.ly/4qf1k

  209. I am sure you hear this a lot…but here it is again!

    I love your blog (I am new to it)…all of your stories are inspiring, some made me cry and repeatedly do…You make me want to be a better person, mom, wife and photographer. Thank you for so openly sharing your stories.

  210. oh and the last thing that made me laugh: my little girl laughing at me for making a funny face…

  211. Hi Kelle!

    Came across your blog yesterday (through a friend) and have now been reading, and looking my way through your archive. I’ve cried and smiled, and enjoyed reading about your journey! You seem like such a wonderful mama:)
    I love taking my son out to make memories too although since he is only 11 months they are more for me than for him,hopefully he can build memories on the pictures I’ve taken. You know, the way we look back on the photos our parents took when we were little and say “i remember that!” even if we probably just remember being told about it, or even just what the photo makes us think about:)

    Great blog Kelle! Thanks for sharing!

    Maria living in stockholm

  212. love love those barrets from coco – just ordered some for my grandaughter Anya

    I love my almost 2 year old grandaughter and absolutely love this blog site —

    first time I’ve posted here – took me awhile to figure it out lol
    GREAT JOB KELLE – love both your daughters –

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  214. Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking your RSS feeds also, Thanks.

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