The Dance

Naples Civitan Club Annual Valentine’s Day Dance

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


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


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


We danced. Oh, did we dance.


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


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

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

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




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

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



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


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




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


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

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

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


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


Friday Photo Dump:

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


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

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


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

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

Tell me those cedar branch buttons aren’t fabulous?

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

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

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


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



Leave a Comment
  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE throughout this post!!! Thank you!! What a shot that last pic!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  12. This post made me cry big happy tears.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  25. one amazing photo of you and your sweet nella!!

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

    have a great weekend!

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

  27. You always capture the sweetest moments! :)

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

  29. Awesome post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

  35. That is such a sweet picture of you and Nella.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  43. The Shine video is amazing. Thank you for sharing!

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

  45. Lady, that is <3

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

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

    Beautiful post. As per usual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  60. that’s my favorite photo also – now I’ll go back and watch the video

  61. Oh those pictures just make my heart beat in sweetness!

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

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

  64. The Shine video made me cry.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

  71. Love this post and seeing what others are doing for persons with special needs. I teach preschoolers with special needs during the work week and a class for adults with special needs at church. Last weekend we had a Valentine party at my house that was a blast!!
    We really are all more alike than we are different!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  81. Now THAT looks like a fun dance :-)

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

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

    this post is fabulous. so much love and joy…

    that last picture is perfect.

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

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

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

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

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

  89. Thanks for sharing such a touching story. wow.

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

    Great post

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

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

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

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

  95. That last photo? Cutest one ever!

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

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

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

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

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

  101. that was beautful!

  102. Beautiful! Thank you for posting this.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

  111. oh, that picture is beyond adorable!

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

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

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

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

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

    Your children are truly blessed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  124. Beautiful post! Excellent sponsor shop too :)

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


  126. Beautiful, all of it.

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

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

  129. What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  136. that last photo is absolutely precious!!

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

  138. Thanks for sharing your life with us, Kelle.

    It is so very beautiful.

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

  140. Oh that Nella is so darn sweet! Love!

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

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

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

  144. Love the photo at the end – a framer for sure!

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

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

    Great captures of a fantastic party!

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

    Lacey Madden from Madden Happy

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

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

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

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

  152. You are so freaking awesome it hurts!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  172. Kelle,

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

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

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

    Also that girl dancing-beautiful!

  175. Love this post and love your last picture!

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

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

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

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

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

  181. Me!! Me!!! Please!

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

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

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

  185. Loved this, and ADORE that last picture!

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

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

    rachel, Champeen Finish-Line Hugger

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

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

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

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

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

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

    *I would also LOVE the gift card! 😉

  191. Yup, it’s love

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

  193. What a wonderful dance party!! Thanks for sharing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  199. what a beautiful evening celebrated. be kind :)

  200. What a lovely post, just made me smile.

  201. that last picture…you and nella, totally made me cry. beautiful. i love how in love with your kids you are…and they you. i’m a mental health therapist for children…wish more kids had a mom like you!

  202. wow that last picture is absolutely incredible. shows the beautiful relationship you have with your girls!

  203. I could feel the love beaming out of my laptop and into my living room looking at the pictures from that dance. Such beauty.

  204. That picture of you and Nella definitely melts the heart.

  205. I volunteered with the Utah Special Olympics for 5 years. Loved every second. At each event they have a dance, and I agree, adults with disabilities DO know how to dance! There is nothing that touches my heart more than the Special Olympics programs and how they foster self-confidence and pride :)

  206. That video and your photos just gave me chills, the good chills that actually warm you from the inside out

  207. Once again, your post made me smile and cry at the same time. Beautiful.

  208. I cannot put to words my feelings…I am filled with joy that is spilling from your photos. The happiness you captured in EVERY SINGLE PICTURE. The love. Thank you so much.

    Your have picture of the week MELTS MY HEART!

  209. beautiful :)

  210. That photo with you and Nella brought tears to my eyes! SO much love! What a beautiful post and how eye opening to see that the differences are beautiful and to be admired.

  211. This is just pure beauty…I love the fulness in their eyes, the warmth, the love. xox

  212. I loved this post. With you as Nella’s momma, teaching her to strut her stuff and love herself, she will no doubt be with sweet girl on the dance floor getting down with her bad self.

  213. I really love this post . . . and it’s a truly gorgeous photo!

  214. I cannot imagine the emotion surging through your body while you were on that dance floor. I am NOT much of a crier and started welling up as soon as I saw that first picture of you in it because I knew. I knew the mixture of happy and sad that must’ve been so strong at that moment. I. LOVE. YOU. I love you for rocking this. I love you for making me feel like I can rock this. And I love your way of expressing yourself through your canvas, your blog.

  215. Hmmm…a dance is special no matter the age or person… Your photos remind me of that. Wish we had more dances scheduled as married adults.
    I follow you on IG and that is, by far, my favorite of you and Nella. A perfect depiction of love.

  216. What a perfect post. The little things are the big things, aren’t they. :)

  217. No matter what you write, I always, always seem to find myself shedding a few tears – be they from something positive or b/c you’ve hit upon something sad for me – I love your words, but gosh woman, could you please stop making me cry!! :) I work in the field of exceptional education & how I wish more people used the term “differently abled” – it’s such a better description than “disabled” & it frames everything in a much more productive light. Keep fighting the good fight so those of us in the field have a champion. & that picture of you & Nella, your favorite – melts my heart … she’s such a beauty!

  218. What a great video! I so hope my child will live in such a world one day!

  219. This is the first I’ve checked Nella’s fund in a bit. Congratulations on meeting your goal! A great friend of mine has a sister in her 30’s with DS and this post made me think of how much she would have LOVED to be able to be a part of this event. She’s quite the dancer herself! Great pictures/post! Thanks for sharing!! :o)

  220. The video made me cry and smile at the same time! It was amazing.

  221. oh man, that last photo? deserves a frame! I have already added so many of melody’s cowls and other wonderful things to my favourites list. Might be the perfect opportunity to splurge! What an amazing post! Never disappointed in this corner of the www!

  222. God put these blessed one’s on this earth to show us how GOD loves us, unconditionally and to show us just what is important.

    What a blessing!!!

  223. Loving the awareness you are bringing to all people with special needs. Thank you.


  224. As i saw the pictures of that beautiful girl in the coral shirt and blue skirt i thought that same thing “that will be nella” all beautiful, happy and smiling. even just through pictures she captivated me quickly.

    I hope everyone finds a cause and takes time and effort into supporting it, encouraging it, moving it forward. For me it is similar to yours, only for individuals with mental illness. I battle it in my work (as a social worker) and in my personal life. Trying to break down stereotypes and long held (negative) perceptions that people have when they hear the words “BiPolar Disorder” or “Schizophrenia”

  225. Love it! You and your girls are inspiring!

  226. That last shot s INSANE!! What a treasure.
    You inspire me in so many ways but I’m most thankful for you letting us see you IN pictures with your kids and having fun WITH them. I’m good at creating fun for my kids but seldom slow down e nough to get in there and enjoy with them.
    I love when women let God turn their pain into passion. We tried forever to get pregnant. I spent years devastated and crying. Then god gave me a random interaction with a child in foster care and I physically felt the spark of my passion for them. Thank you for calling people to act on what’s snide of them.

  227. I work with kids with disabilities. Thank you for reminding me to keep the big pictures in mind.

    Love that last shot, perfection.

  228. My cousin was instrumental in getting this video made, Spread the word, Stop the R word. I hope you enjoy:)

  229. Pure love, that last picture is.

  230. Absolutely LOVE this post AND the photo of you & Nella at the end. ♥

  231. I’ve been religiously reading your blog for several months now and have yet to leave a comment!!
    Today’s the day!
    This post was beautiful. As I was scrolling down the page and saw the first picture of the beautiful girl in the coral tank, I stopped to just look at her face and thought to myself, “oh my gosh, that looks like Nella.” Then I scrolled down a bit more and saw the caption: “That will be Nella.” I guess I wasn’t the only one that saw it :-)

    Your blog has inspired me in more ways than one. First, I bought me a real camera!! I want to capture beautiful (non-blurry) pictures of my almost 8 month old son! Second, I’ve started a photo book of his first year and I LOVE IT. Thirdly, I’m striving to spend time with him creatively, in ways that make memories last. Fourthly, to be grateful for life! And spice up the everyday!

    Thank you so much for blogging!! I’ve started a blog as well…check it out if you’d like (the little boy with chubby cheeks in every post will make you smile, promise) :-)

  232. I’m jealous of Nana Kate. Nella never fails to melt my heart!

  233. ive been apart of the moment “when they knew we were different” too. in high school a girl in my class smarted off and then informed the whole room that she wasn’t staying in a room with(im going to use her word) and pointed to the children with the extra chromosome. the look on their face broke my heart, they knew right then and there they were different and i hated it. i stood up in a room full of people and informed her that we are all the same, they have more love for life then we do. we left with a teacher for the outburst and both got in school detention for a class prd for causing a scene. lets just say i had several people come up and thank me for that b/c they, like me , had someone like them in their family and they understand just how special they are. however i didn’t do it to be thanked, i did it b/c thats what’s right. they aren’t different if anything they are better. i see lainey standing up and saying that no matter what people might say. she is a great big sister and she loves nella more then anything. you can just tell in all your pictures.

    as i totally agree that will be nella on the dance floor like that other little girl. i can just see it. i just hope you will still have this blog to show the world her amazing dance moves.

  234. Two of my favorite work days throughout the year are our annual client Christmas Party and Summer Picnic. Seeing people come together from all walks of life under one roof to have fun and not giving a damn what others think puts a smile on my face at each party. What a nice reminder to take life less serious and to PARTY!

  235. I saw the beautiful blond dancing and I thought the same thing before I read the caption. I thought, THAT will be Nella when she’s grown! Beautiful and smiles and full of life.

    I never post comments but I’ve followed for a long time.

  236. I’ve been reading your blog religiously for a few months now and I have yet to leave a comment!
    Today is the day!

    This post was beautiful. As I was scrolling down I saw the picture of the beautiful girl in the coral tank. I stopped scrolling, just looking at her face, and thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s what Nella will look like in 15 years!’ Then I kept scrolling and saw the caption, “That will be Nella.” I guess I wasn’t the only one that thought that!

    Your blog has inspired me in so many ways!! I’ve started my own blog (! I bought myself a good camera – so I can take beautiful (non-blurry) pictures of my 8 month old son! I started a photo book of his first year and I LOVE IT! I try to spend time with him creatively, making memories that last. And I’m trying to enjoy life more, seeing the beauty in it all and spicing up the everyday!
    Thanks so much for blogging!! Can’t wait to read your book too!

    p.s. if you check out my blog, the chubby cheeked baby boy will make you smile…promise. :-)

    Also, if this comment shows up twice, I’m sorry!

  237. Thank you for this today.

    I loved reading this and smiling and feeling that music and wanting to dance.

    It was beautiful.

    This night looks so fun and wonderful.

    Thank you for sharing!

  238. This dance is so sweet. It pulls at my heart strings.

  239. The last picture of you and Nella is beautiful! This post is beautiful! I was involved in so much in high school, and since having kids I know that I need to get involved a bit more. We’ve done walks, but I would love to be involved elsewhere.

    Thank you for raising the awareness of groups like these that not only support children but adults as well.

  240. I worked as a nurse at a facility for adults with physical and mental disabilities.. and I totally agree with you, more people need to see that. See the fun they have, see how They don’t care what eachother can and can’t do. And those extra chromosomes are definitely dance chromosomes!

  241. Lord have mercy–the joy-filled tears be flowin’.
    Words always escape me when it comes time to write my comment, & so I end up propelling out some banter that does not reflect the joy in my heart & the quenching of my spirit that your posts can often provide. But this post? So very many joy-filled tears. Lord have mercy, could she ever dance. Nella’s little hands cupping your face.
    The tears!
    Beautiful. Bless you.

  242. That? Was a beautiful memory. It is so nice to see such happiness in the world. Thank you so much for sharing.

    And that photo of you and Nella? My heart was tugged…love it!

  243. Your perspective is beautiful…

  244. What a wonderful night and event! They were rockin’ it!

    We have an organization here called Heart Strings. It is for developmentally disabled adults to have the opportunity to be helpful in society. One of the programs is to sell goodies in office buildings. They come every Monday and sell me breakfast on a cart! It really brightens up my Monday! And I love knowing that I’m contributing to a great organization.

  245. My sister and brother-in-law are really involved in the Special Olympics in Michigan. My husband and I went up to Traverse City last weekend to take part in the festivities, and it was so inspiring and fun. And your comment about that extra chromosome holding dance skills? So right on – the closing ceremonies ended with a giant dance party and we were blown away by the moves we saw! As always, love your pictures and your blog!

  246. Your posts always have this wonderful effect of crying and laughing at the same time. Love this one!

  247. I read your blog daily, wow what a post!!
    You go girl, everyone looked so so happy, inspiration to everyone.
    I hope you have that last photo blown up on a canvas in your home?
    Gill in UK :)

  248. LOve that picture of you and Nella. It’s one of those moments that you aren’t sure what she is going to do. So much happiness in that little girl of yours.
    Sweet post. I can see why you would cry and be happy at the same time.
    The Nella girl is adorable. I can see that will be Nella someday.
    My son is challenged. These kids/adults are so loving and just seem to enjoy life. It is so much fun seeing the pictures of them having fun.

  249. Nella’s already got mad dance skills. She’ll be the life of the party!

  250. I’m new to your blog, Kelle, coming from Beth’s after watching your video and book trailer. I am thrilled and inspired by your posts.

    I’m sure you probably are familiar with special needs blogger and writer Judy Winter ( whose book Breakthrough Parenting with Special Needs chronicles her life with her son Eric and founder of a music camp for kids with special needs at Michigan State University. Her blog highlights the wonderful achievements of special needs families. You two sound made for each other, with a similar mission based on a life filled with both great change and great joy.

  251. Oh dear lord, that last picture is sheer perfection. My heart is smiling.

  252. My husband’s mother use to volunteer at dances just like this when he was younger and she use to bring him along, and he loved LOVED dancing there. He’s told me about it a few times since we’ve married and they were all fond memories. Maybe when Lanie is older she can go too, I know she will have an amazing time!

    And that last photo? So absolutely precious :)

  253. We’re always learning right? :)

  254. Love your favorite photo at the end! Pure, unstoppable love!

  255. I love your blog! Yesterdays post on letting your kids be themselves…that spoke to me right when I needed it. You are inspiring…thank you!

  256. beautiful post. brought a smile to my face.

  257. I just gave birth to my son on Valentine’s Day, and I’ve got to say, I love your posts…..they make this Mama’s heart swell. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  258. I have to say that out of everthing you’ve ever posted, this is my favorite. I’m smiling and crying at the same time and that’s my favorite emotion.

  259. What a great post! You capture such precious moments in your photos…I LOVE them all!

  260. love this post. Some of your posts really stand out. This is one of them! Thanks for sharing!! WE will be paying it forward!

  261. that was wonderful. thank you for sharing the dance! Pure fun and joy on everyone’s faces.
    Oh my those cowls are just yummy. Big buttons with big knits. YUMMMO!

  262. Looks like a fantastic Valentine’s dance – full of happiness and joy.

    Yes, that photo of Nella and you is so so so special. One of the cutest photos ever, that I have ever seen. It contains so much love.

  263. SHINE looks like an amazing event! Brought tears to my eyes, but good tears.

  264. You are such an inspiration, thank you for sharing anything and everything!

  265. I love things that hurt so good. Like this post. So special and beautiful!

  266. I love reading your posts each week and the pics just make my day. I made it all the way through this post without shedding a tear and then the last pic just had tears streaming down my face. That pic doesn’t need words. Beautiful :)

  267. LOVED this post! I worked w/older adults w/drastically different abilities for several years and some of my favorite memories are the dances- those folks could dance like no other! So much fun!! Thanks for this!

  268. This post is beautiful. Love it.

  269. Another absolutely uplifting post from you! Although I need to stop looking at all of the neat sponsors blogs, I’m spending way too much money!

  270. Shine 2010 is INCREDIBLE! I love what they have done for their community. I also love that there are some churches willing to step out of what is “normal” to take a stand for Christ who loves all people! What a ministry that are having for that community! Thanks for sharing!

  271. That video made me cry like a baby. And want to get involved. Thanks for sharing your message. And, yes, that last picture is perfection!

  272. that last picture is amazing. so precious! and those bird nests are to die for!

  273. The photos at the dance are incredible!!! I love that you said that extra chromosome comes with a lot of dancing skills :)

  274. This was such a sweet and inspirational post. I love this!

    -Abby Ammons

  275. Kelle- I am SUCH A fan of that video! As a member of a local church who feels the same way about making ALL feel SPECIAL as God intended it to be, i am taking this to the board with HIGH hopes of pulling off an INCREDIBLE NIGHT sometime soon in our community! Thankful for you & your words!

  276. I had the hardest time at adult special needs functions when Morgan was younger. It was too hard of a reality for me. I appreciated your honesty in this post.

  277. Dancing is such a universal language. Words don’t need to be spoken to see the joy in their eyes!

  278. love this. i’m so glad you found joy. xo. thank you. your family is such an inspiration.

  279. I love to walk your photos, wonderful feelings are expressed in them.

    Kisses to you and your beautiful daughters


  280. Beautiful post, Kelle! I love all of those pictures what contain so much joy and happiness! You are right, that last picture is pretty precious. Hope you have had a fabulous weekend!

  281. I love that photo too! Beautiful!

  282. Breathtaking! I love that last photo. And another great post.

  283. That final picture of you and Bella Nella is precious. What a lovely post. :)

  284. I love what you do Kelle Hampton- your passion and LOVE for life and making us aware of the beauty that lies in corners of our world that are too often forgotten. What a beautiful, pure and magical post. I read it out loud to my boys…and listening to my voice speak your words for my children to hear, brought your message to a deeper part in my heart & soul. (Your next book must be a children’s book!!!)
    I admire that you speak so raw, so honest. I know that you will continue to ROCK this out…you are raising the roof to new heights. I pray that you continue to fuel the passion in all of us to raise roofs everywhere!!
    The Shine video was incredible. I will quote you here because it is exactly how I felt watching it: “I cried because I was happy, I cried because I am still learning, I cried because my emotions can’t contain that kind of awesome…” there is such beauty in the corners of our world that we need to celebrate!!!

    God Bless you Kelle
    …oh yes – that last photo – Little Ms. Nella is gulping up your love- I can feel how it makes your heart hurt so good!! A heaven moment!!

  285. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone mentioned this already, but this ( is definitely worth watching too (God’s prom). I touches my heart so, I always feel so honored to be in the presence of people whose hearts are so true.

  286. tears, tears, tears!


  287. Everything about this post made me smile… But that last picture? Whoa. Holy unicorns baby!!

  288. Everything about this post made me smile… But that last picture? Whoa. Holy unicorns baby!!

  289. What a great post! Also LOVE the last photo:)

  290. Kelle, When I first saw the gorgeous blond girl in the red shirt, I said “that will be Nella”, I cried when I saw the picture too because she looks so, perfect, happy and as you said, VIVACIOUS!

  291. oh, my word…again and again you amaze, surprise me, tickle me with joy and show me the best we can be. I am going to look for opportunities when I get back to Miami. I am in Va. visiting grand girls who will accompany me to dance with many people!

  292. What a beautiful post. Looks like everyone had a great time! And wow that picture of the girl with the orange shirt and black skirt…i was looking at her thinking that’s gonna be Nella and I looked down and read it and it said the same thing. It’s like a glimps into the future for her!

  293. Absolutely beautiful post and photos. Thank you for making my day better with these thoughts and inspirations.

  294. Beautiful. This post made me cry happy (and sad) tears. My brother works with One Step Beyond in Phoenix, AZ and absolutely adores his job with the adults in the program. Makes me feel so proud and also makes me want to get involved in some way, myself. Thansk for sharing your beautiful life – I love your blog!

  295. Beautiful. This post made me cry happy (and sad) tears. My brother works with One Step Beyond in Phoenix, AZ and absolutely adores his job with the adults in the program. Makes me feel so proud and also makes me want to get involved in some way, myself. Thansk for sharing your beautiful life – I love your blog!

  296. Absolutely beautiful. That’s all I have to say.

  297. As I was looking at the pictures and before I read your words, the girl in the peach shirt and black skirt stood out to me. I stopped and took a little longer to look at her. She looked happy and so beautiful. My thoughts were, “That’s going to be Nella one day.” And then I read your words. It made my heart smile. <3

  298. Amazing. Just amazing.

  299. Those dances are so fun – so filled with joy!! That last picture in a word: Priceless!!

  300. Nella will for sure be a dancer…she already is as she taps and twirls into the hearts of every reader of this blog. Thank you for sharing her…
    Paula <3

  301. As I read through this post, I kept thinking about an event my church had a few years back, and then there you go and put a link to it! I grew up going to Flatirons, and Shine completely changed our community. I am glad your community recognizes what joy there is in dancing with some of the best dancers there are! Positively beautiful, Kelle.

  302. Dancing…I love it. I love the idea that anyone can dance, and dance well, extra chromosome or not.

    And the cowls! Oh, the cowls! I die.

    That photo is too much. I love it. One that probably ought to be framed. Just so precious.

  303. I have no connection to DS, but am SO inspired by your amazing positive views on life and your blog. Thank you for reminding me to be positive even on the days its so tough!

  304. what a wonderful evening–filled with such love and fun!

  305. What a wonderful event. I think you’re right, support groups for adults with special needs are fairly thin on the ground, if anything they may need more support then.
    I know with your heart to see not only your Nella given all the same opportunities as other children, but other special needs children as well, that the drive to make people look past our perceived differences will follow you through your whole life.

  306. The photos of you dancing brought such a smile to my face, and as always your words are poetic and poignant.

  307. Thank you for sharing the pics and the love.

  308. How fun! My mother in law works at a school for special needs children. On Valentines Day I took my girls (ages 5 and 2) to the school she works at, they were having a Valentines dance. My girls had soo much fun and I love being able to teach them that although everyone looks different, we all love the same things, like dancing, singing and having fun! It’s a great opportunity :)

  309. The last photo is beyond beautiful.

  310. You never cease to amaze me or make me cry. I love that you are so honest on what you write. You deal with an unknown of your beautiful daugther. I deal with an unknown of a husband who is a soldier. I know that they are two different things, but all together we are in the same boat. My heart has now been pushed to do something. I want to thank you very much for that push. You are awesome.

  311. This post was especially near & dear to my heart! I work for a company who, among the many services they offer have group homes in 13 counties in PA. I’ve worked for them since I was 18 and am now 25 :) The one thing that the particular ladies I work with always look forward to is “Coffee house” now another agency hosts this event every 1st and 3rd Thursday every month and while there is NO coffee actually involved there is a DJ, a disco ball and lite snacks. This dance lasts an hour and a half and to see everyone mingle and dance and just have a FANTASTIC time always makes me smile. No one cares how you dance or judges your style it’s all about the fun!

  312. This post borught so many tears to my eyes!!! Happy tears!! Thank you, thank you for always reminding that life is what you make of it. To appreciate the little things and to be kind to each other!!! I will for sure be looking into what things we can volunteer and I say we because I would like to teach my boys the importance of volunteering.

  313. Kelle
    What a beautiful post all the pictures made me smile thinking that my little guy is going to rock it out one day too with a beautiful blonde!

    The last picture of you and the princess so gorgeous!


  314. This post made me tear up…and maybe more than tear up at the end with that beautiful picture of you and Nella. What a lucky, lucky girl. (Well, what lucky girlS, of course.)

  315. Tears!! Beautiful post. And yes, that last photo is gorgeous.

  316. That will definitely be Nella.

  317. I adore your blog. Never thought I’d be able to choose a favorite post.

    Until now.

    Namaste, sister.

  318. I love how big your heart is!! You are so inspiring, and you make me want to be a better person! Thanks for reminding us about what really matters!!

  319. Oh Kelle…beautiful post and beautiful honest words and thoughts. Everything you said rings so much truth to me…I know exactly what you felt. I felt the same way I attended an event for adults with different abilities- so much to learn and celebrate but still those short moments of sadness- I understand. Thank you for this post. xo

  320. My friend and her husband are considering adopting the most precious little boy who happens to have that chromosome with extra magic dancing powers:) I sent her the link to your blog and she was encouraged by it. Keep doing what you do Kelle; you are changing perspectives and enriching lives through your blog!

  321. Simply amazing. I am looking at opportunities in my community right this minute. Thank you, Kelle. You are such an inspiration :)

  322. i love that girl’s shirt!

  323. Oh Me Gah! These photos had me in tears. Good tears. Host of emotions. :)

  324. Love, love, love this post! Having attended numerous dances for adults with a whole range of abilities, I can attest there is a dance gene there, and I think it starts with the truest of joys. It’s something I am continually humbled by and trying to learn. Keep dancing…

  325. Just when I can’t think your blog can’t possibly get any better! Yes. You will rock it… And I’m going to rock it with my daughter too.

  326. What a beautiful night! Thank you for sharing.

  327. Welcome to my world…it’s a good place when people with DS are around, isn’t it?
    as of yesterday’s date (2/18/12), I’ve been a Vocational Rehab counselor for 14 years – more than 1/3 of my life – and I wish ALL of my Clients had DS because they are the BEST people to be around. that dance looked like a BLAST and I can’t wait to see what Nella does for the world when she grows up. never doubt for a SECOND that you were meant to be her Mom, because you WERE. and ARE. love ya lots, thanks always for your great posts. While you’re at it, look up “The Kids of Widney High” and be a groupie like me! :)

  328. The entire post made me so happy! I loved your dancing and comments about how much fun you had! The photo of you and Nella is definitely a keeper.

  329. Love. It.

  330. So beautiful. I worked with differently abled adults for many years, went to many dances and parties and I totally hear what you’re saying here. The joy and the sadness. But mostly the joy.
    I appreciate your honesty in this post and loved it all the way through.

  331. Love this post. Very sweet and endearing.

  332. My heart is skipping and dancing… my eyes are full of joyful tears… I can’t wait for next year!
    Your photographs captured the purity of the magical evening… Inspiring…

  333. How AWESOME is that dance?! Going to check out more programs… my brother is 30 with a FABULOUS extra chromosome! He thinks grooving is alright, but he would rather sing! xx

  334. I absolutely adore that picture of you and Nella. What a beauty. How lucky can you be to find a love like that? You are blessed.

  335. Oh this made me smile. I am part of a band that has a regular booking for the Idea Services (New Zealand Organsiation for people with wide ranging ability issues) ball. We play covers, teach different dances and have the time of our lives. It is hands down the best night of our year, we laugh together, cry together and enjoy music together. I have learnt the best dance moves, all about love that breaches all differences and how music brings everyone on to the dance floor. counting down the days till the ball, and your post makes me so excited for it! Gorgeous photo of you and nella at the end.

  336. Kelle that video was beautiful! I agree that we all need to do a more to love others for who they are. To make people feel special, accepted and cared about!

  337. Thank you thank you thank you Kelle! For feeling and sharing because these moments happen and they are important to all of us! Love love love! and you rock it girl! I plan to do the same damn thing! Rock it out!!!!
    Love Katie

  338. that last photo is so beautiful! Love the look on Nella’s face – her smile is priceless!

  339. this post made me cry. and smile. love that last picture so much.

  340. I absolutely love the picture of Nella in the beanie! She is so gorgeous! Love the egg ring! What a great idea!

  341. also, love that video. flatirons is a really cool church. what an incredible and important thing that Jesus calls us to!!

  342. Thank you for this post. We need to spread the word about adult programs and this post summed up why beautifully. May we all live equally and happily!

  343. glad to hear you want to help raise funds for groups like these. Often these are the groups that suffer with funding , all the money raised for these groups goes straight to the people that participate in the groups. you will certainly help make more fun things happen for this go kelle… you brightened my day with this post=) God bless you..

  344. That video you linked to was amazing! Brought tears to my eyes. I know a local church that could totally pull this off! I’m sharing the video with them. Thanks!

  345. Your blog: Warms my heart, makes me cry tears of hope, and creates great thoughts in my mind. Thank you! Your an inspiration.

  346. Amaaaazing last picture. GIves me warm fuzzies.

  347. Oh! That last pic of you and Miss Nella just MELTED my heart. So precious. What a sweetheart, smiling at her Mama with so much love. Beautiful.

  348. This whole post made my heart melt! The beautiful woman that you said could dance had the cutest outfit on. Seriously… where did she get that skirt? Your posts always remind me to count my blessings. You have such an incredible and inspiring story! We all meed an attitude like yours. Loved this.

  349. Oh Kelle I just love your blog. You are the #1 inspirational blog I read. I so appreciate your insights on so many things. I think you are wonderful. Thank you for sharing what you do!!!!

  350. Such a touching post.
    I saw that last picture when you posted it on Instagram earlier in the week, it’s even more amazing blown up to a bigger size. Brought tears to my eyes. SO beautiful!


  351. Kelle,
    I absolutely love your blog. I’ve shared it with so many since stumbling upon it. What you are doing is amazing. You open my eyes wider every time I read your entries. I adore you as a mother, a writer and a photographer. If I were to win, use my gift certificate at the center where the dance was held. I would love for that to happen xo

  352. So beautiful, Kelle. Thank you for the inspiration.

  353. Beautiful post, when I saw that girl I thought in my head that will be Nella and then I scrolled down and read your comment.
    That last picture is so beautiful, you should frame it in a double frame along with the birth picture of you toasting and add the words “How you tought me so much!”

  354. {love & hugs}!!

  355. gosh, that last photo is so beautiful. so is your writing and your family! I enjoy your blog so much :)

  356. This post totally grabbed hold of my heart. What beautiful things you are doing. Your children are so blessed to have you as their Momma!

  357. shake your tail feather
    shake your money maker
    shake what your momma gave ya

    I dont know but looking at these dance pictures makes me what to have a dance party here with my babies =)

  358. LOVE THIS POST!!!!!!! My goodness….totally tearing up the whole time.
    And that picture at the end should be blown up life size, at least! AMAZING SHOT.

  359. I just had to comment. I work in South Arkansas at a nonprofit sheltered workshop. We have a valentine’s dance; just like this one; that we sponsor and other centers attend. Hands down the BEST! Working with dev. delayed people is AMAZING!! I can’t wait for the day that others see that we all ARE different. Thank you for this post!!

  360. Oh, that last pic got me. Perfect picture of pure love. The whole post had me crying like a baby. Thank you. I needed that.

  361. Kelle,

    (great post but what I wanted to say…) I *melted* with jubilation (is that possible?) over that photo the last time you posted it. How incredibly much a slice of your life right now. It is absolutely precious!

  362. I love the pictures! You captured the joy and pure emotion perfectly. Thank you for sharing.

  363. What a wonderful post to start my week! Thank you again, Kelle, for sharing your adventures with amazing individuals.

  364. I just love reading your blog posts! I always know they will contain beauty and sincerity in equal measures. As usual, this post didn’t disappoint. Thanks so much!

  365. Love it!

  366. This post made me a little sad… not sure why. I hope Nella is as vibrant as that young girl!
    Love that last photo also… such love!

  367. Beautiful feature. Loving the Friday photo dump. Nella is more stylish at the age of 2 than I have ever been! That last photo of the 2 of you together is nothing next to pure awesomeness! The love is palpable.

  368. Oh, I’ve missed seeing pictures of the girls and you. So glad everyone is doing well. Miss you!

  369. What a beautiful post Kelle. I wish more people in this world would open their hearts like you do.

    That last pic of you and Nella is amazingly beautiful and adorable!

  370. Love that last photo! Heart-melting!

  371. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Camp Daniel, a camp for people with disabilities. I walked away from that week with acceptance and love, in it’s truest and purest form. It was life changing. That was 9 years ago. I have been involved ever since. I have been living at Camp Daniel for the last 2 1/2 yrs because it was so right.

    We put on a big dance last May for people with disabilities up here in Green Bay, WI. It was awesome! You’re right, dancing is a part of their DNA. Dancing is a part of their culture. I can’t wait for the next one!

  372. I had chills throughout. Your statement “I cried because I knew that he felt we were different. And I wanted to tell him we really weren’t” is really touching. Everyone looked like they were having a wonderful time, that’s so awesome. And that last photo of you and Nella, oh my gosh- my heart melted. It could not be any more perfect.

  373. What a great dance! And yes, that last picture of you and Nella is just amazing, you can FEEL the love just by looking at the picture.

  374. LOVE that video…what an awesome idea. Thank you for sharing! :-)

  375. i love Melody Joy. i also love this blog.

  376. LOVE the video. and the dance, but that was a given.

  377. The dance looks so awesome! Thanks for the information and inspiration to work with differently abled adults… something I haven’t done in a while and now realize I miss terribly!

  378. “I cried because my emotions can’t contain that kind of awesome…”

    That is easily one of the best lines I have ever read. I had the pleasure of working with “Best Buddies” and the parties were very similar to the one you described. Great photos too. And that last one of Nella is awesome.

  379. I somehow missed this post Friday, and I never miss your posts. I really needed to read this today, so it must have been for good reason that I missed it Friday. I cried happy and sad tears. Thank you for the sweet post!

  380. Penelope has that same “fat unicorn eating the rainbow” tee. It’s so funny!

  381. Love abounds! The photo of you and Nella … makes my heart happy!

  382. Different, yet the same. Aren’t we all?

  383. Kelle, I love you. This post gave me shivers the ENTIRE time I read it. I am so proud of you. I really am.

    Much much love,

  384. Thank you for this post. It was lovely to see the love. I can’t comprehend how the feelings of mothers like yourself and so many others, would swing. Mine travel many a mile when thinking about the future for my girls and they would be considered “normal”. I am so thankful to see the love and to learn from it. Thank you for your honesty, for opening your heart to us.

  385. I’ll say it again, Kelle, You are such an inspiration in my life, to be a better mother, wife, daughter and friend to all. Thank you for this blog, a true eye opener to be grateful for what we have, no matter what it is – that our children are blessings despite thier differences and that life is what you make of it, and we need to make it fun, full of love, compassion and DANCING!! I surely will be following your blog FOREVER, as long as you will allow us to. Wish I could pre-order 1000 copies of ‘bloom’ so that I could spread your word to everyone I know, and get the opportunity to meet you. While the photo session itself is luring, time with you seems what is the best win in that situation. xo Alexa Bucz

  386. Just wanted to say I don’t read many blogs but I absolutely LOVE coming to your blog. I can relate so much to you about loving life and soaking it up and ‘enjoying the small things’. Every. Single. Time. I come to your blog I’m reminded of the beauty of life and ALWAYS walk away feeling like I got a breath of fresh air. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  387. The last picture is amazing. I love it. I never went to prom , it is hard to be left out of an experience like that, I loved the video and thing it is a great thing. Everyone deserves to have these great memories and to experience things we are all humans and we all unique in our own ways. It is great to celebrate everyone.

  388. Love it. I have been to a dance like that and it was great and sad and happy and amazing. Thanks.

  389. beautiful photos of the dance. But the one of you and Nella is just breathtaking.

  390. This is a wonderfully strong post! You tackled the issue of acceptance of differently abled adults with the same zest and enthusiasm that you approach all of the fun and beautiful things in your life. You are doing so much for the special needs community. Thanks.

  391. I cannot get over the photos. You have captured the spirit… SPIRIT… of those with downs syndrome so well. They are just plain happy!

    I just wanted to share with you that my cousin with DS has had a MUCH MORE fulfilling life than I ever could dream of. She has been travelling around the world… she has sat with the senate to pass a bill against the use of the word “retard” she has given talks, she has had jobs and her own apartments. She has basically lived a very good full life that I am envious of. But my envy disappears the second she looks at me and smiles and gives me a hug. She so deserves the best in the world… simply because of her spirit.

  392. Simply beautiful!

  393. A beautiful post – I read with a lump in my throat. Thank you for showing us so many beautiful things through your writing.

    And the last shot between mama and daughter is stunning!

  394. I like this post. I like you. Thank you.

  395. Love it! i have been to many dances with adults with different abilities, they are memories that will always remain precious in my heart.

  396. The last picture is breathtaking! That you for sharing the video – very inspiring!

  397. Wonderful dancers! Looks like a very happy time of carving up the dance floor!

  398. I loooooove that ring! I have to have it! The dance party looks like fun!!!

  399. your words are challenging and inspiring. thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us!

  400. Thank you for linking to the Shine video. I was close to sobbing. It reminded me that there is so much love in the world.

  401. It’s amazing how your blog makes me want to go home and just love on my little Marlee! She’s only 5 months younger than Nella and I get so excited to learn about Nella’s big (and little) moments because I know Marlee has them too! And I just love them!

  402. this is so awesome!! i love LOVE what that church did~ man! imagaine if all churches put their actions where their words are…

    thanks kelli, for the remeinder to NOTICE and value those around us.

  403. Kelle, my heart tell me we are supposed to know one another in some way, form a friendship or collaborate on a project, or write, or or or? I deeply appreciate and resonate with your perspectives on seizing up this life and giving it one giant bear hug. It is clear you live with passion and intention, and you are making a DIFFERENCE in this world, girl! In the lives of the community members around you, and in the lives of your two precious little girls. You are brave and beautiful.

    My name is Rae and I too am a writer, a dreamer, an artist, and a new mama of a little man with Down syndrome- Everest! He is my baby dreamboat. We feel incredibly blessed and honored to know him– how is it possible for this much love to be packed into one body!?

    Thank you for being you and for putting yourself and your story out there. I’d love to talk with you more. God bless- Rae

  404. The most beautiful part of this post is your raw honesty.
    Not that you need my commentary, but you are a great Mom and continuing to grow into an even greater one.

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

    THIS, again and again and again. Sometimes a thought just grabs you and holds on, im so glad that today this is the one that got me!

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

    THIS, again and again and again. Sometimes a thought just grabs you and holds on, im so glad that today this is the one that got me!

  407. An absolutely beautiful and perfect post from you.
    Such joy and beauty from it all!
    Perfect last pic of you and Nella.
    I would be getting that framed!!

  408. This post made me ball my eyes out. I feel sad and happy at the same time and it made me think so much of my brother.

    He is 20 and attends every basketball game. The kids always invite him to come sit with them, and they think he’s hilarious. Not because of his DS, but because he is a regular class clown.

    One of the basketball players is a buddy in his class and felt bad when his birthday came and they hadn’t planned anything special. So he put together a surprise birthday party for my brother at the local bowling alley. 20 kids came all without disabilities, all friends with my brother. They wore party hats and had a kings hat for him. They got him a special birthday cake, balloons, and gifts. And to top it all off, the basketball team invited my brother to attend their end of year banquet as their number 1 fan.

    It just makes my heart burst! There IS good in this world :) Thanks for continuing to raise awareness and make a difference in this community <3

  409. So, so sweet. Thank you, Kelle!

  410. Hi, I read your post and usually don’t comment but your post about the Valentine’s Dance really touched me. My son has an extra chromosome too, but it’s invisible and if I hadn’t had prenatal testing I would have never known. The impact is not outwardly physical but he may face all kinds of challenges, including not being able to have children of his own. I agree with you, you have to stop and take it all in, you have to allow yourself to be sad, hopeful, mad, happy and ultimately just love this amazing soul that you gave life to. You’re an inspiration and I greatly respect you and admire your perspective. Thanks for your beautiful words and images and for being so candid. Not many people have that kind of courage.

  411. I saw that last picture on instagram…. it is beautiful!!! But, I’m fairly certain I have never seen a bad picture of Nella… or you!

  412. I hate it when the post I really want to comment on is one of those “comment to win” posts… they always get swamped with comments.

    Kelle, I just wanted to say that one of my oldest friends was born with a disability so I’ve been invited to various dances and events like these for years. Which is what made me initially so repulsed by your blog… like thousands of others I was linked to Nella’s birth story and although it is a very honest and emotional post and I can see it now as something special… at the time I saw it as someone grieving that “the disabled baby ruined the party”

    I’m glad I had a poke around and read some other posts because i actually think we’re very similar with almost identical outlooks on life… the main difference being that I was brought up surrounded by happy, successful, valued people with disabilities whereas your exposure seems to have been different and brought about fear.

    A lot of the fears are valid and normal… but I wanted to reassure you that all kids have good days, bad days, all kids get bullied or laughed at sometimes and all kids get to have lifelong friendships, relationships, experience love, happiness, music and dancing.

  413. love this post!! I worked at a summer camp that has a week dedicated to working with special needs adults (age 16+). Every wednesday during that week, we host a dance for them. It is probably their favorite night of the week (if not their year) and definitely a summer favorite among staffers as well. i know exactly what you mean when you say that extra 23rd chromosome has some dance moves attached :) ( is my camp if anyone is wondering)

  414. My heart sings after reading this post…a great reminder to never stop hoping for the future for our little ones and believing that we CAN and WILL make it great!!

  415. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog, it always makes me smile, and makes a bad day turn good. Your girls are lovely, thank you so much for hope and inspiration…
    MaryKelly Hucko

  416. I’ve been working with differently abled people for the past 12 years and in my job, I work to get individuals and their families to see what potential they have to work and have a career when they are done with school just like anyone else. With that means that there are high expectations that they are able people, and in part, those expectations means that they are being treated like any other person would be treated. In the work to help build paradigms where differently abled people are treated the same as other people, I forget to see the softer side, where people just let go and have fun.
    This was a really sweet post.

  417. Oh just wait until Nella is old enough for Special Olympics! There are dances like this all the time, and they’re usually the best part of the whole event. And I totally think you’re right about that extra chromosome having dance genes … we can all learn a lot about loving life by watching those dances.

  418. Gosh! What a sweet post! I need to get more involved. What an amazing time had by all! And taht last picture of you and Nella….be still my heart. That is precious! I love it! I wish someone would take some pictures of me and my boy like this!!!!!

  419. What a great post! Thanks for sharing :)

  420. Please support elder and adult day services in washington state.(EADS)..before I became a full time mama and after a graphic design career I worked as a center director there. I absolutely loved it and I will always remember my friends!!!and Yes! Agree on the dance gene!!!!

  421. That is amazing..what you attended..and the video you shared…made me cry..thank you :)

  422. Yep, that girl is ridicuously cute! Seriously…I don’t know how you ever take your eyes off her.:))) She’s perfect, really!

  423. What a beautiful time.
    It makes me especially sad, though, as the mom of a teen with autism, mental illness and other issues who, despite average intelligence and being verbally unhindered, has so many learning disabilities and incredible challenges that he cannot function even in a special classroom. The intelligence makes the profound isolation all the more painful to him: he KNOWS how excluded and marginalized and friendless he is. (Yes, of course we, his immediate family are there for him. It is not a substitute for friends and meaningful community. Of course we have worked our butts off to change this, but it’s too much for people.) Unlike those with Downs, he has no obvious physical features that indicate to kind people that their kindness needs to be in the “on” position. Unlike those with Downs, he is not affectionate. (This mama has never once heard “I love you” or been hugged or kissed by her son in 15 years.) I hear a lot from kind-hearted people, “Oh, special needs kids are so wonderful and loving!” and I think, “Does ‘special needs’ only mean Downs to people??” What about those not quite so endearing, at least occasionally? They remain the most marginalized people. “Special needs” programs at our YMCA give people a warm, fuzzy feeling thinking that “they” have their place and our taken care of. Do they know that the programs are only for those with Downs and/ or physical disabilities? Autism and mental illness? No, thank you. Too messy. Too difficult. It hurts.

  424. I am teary, again, after reading this post. Kelle, you’re amazing and all you do is amazing!!! I was born with a birth defect, and it’s so hard for me, even at 31, to feel “normal” so I appreciate all you do in encouraging acceptance of all people. Thanks Kelle!!!! P.S. I love the mama nest ring! So adorable! :)

  425. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! I check it every day, you are such a happy and positive person, and you’re girls are breathtaking…thank you so much for sharing your lives with us!

    MaryKelly Hucko

  426. Love the photos — looks like so much fun!! My life (anyone’s I imagine) is that mix of joy and pain…something about having the capacity for one makes the capacity for the other so much stronger :)

    Oh, I know Melody Joy!! Yay for her and you :) So exciting

  427. This post made my day, and it’s only 10am. As a sister to a young man with autism and a writer with a focus on sharing the stories of adults with special needs who have changed my life, I just LOVE this. Beautiful pictures, gorgeous writing … it’s just stunning. Thank you for sharing your heart, as well as this amazing experience, with us!

  428. I just love your blog so much. Everything you write is so life-affirming. You are such a beautiful soul, and a blessing to everyone who reads your words. Thank you!

  429. Crying and can hardly type.


    As always, just beautiful!

  430. I will admit you have brought me the occasion tear or two, but I am standing in my kitchen, this Friday evening, just blubbing like and idiot at that Shine video.

    I’m not sure why, but they are not tears of sadness. Thank you.

  431. I will admit you have brought me the occasion tear or two, but I am standing in my kitchen, this Friday evening, just blubbing like and idiot at that Shine video.

    I’m not sure why, but they are not tears of sadness. Thank you.

  432. Thank you so much for writing this heartfelt post and sharing such a wonderful experience! Adults with different abilities have the most beautiful hearts and souls. :)))

    LOVE your previous post too: “…we all have ways in which we both lead and follow” So true. I let my soul be the leader of my life and follow my heart’s wisdom…And, I feel that reviewing our perspectives is necessary as our path in life unfolds and evolves… xox

    “One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these-to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.”
    ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

  433. Sadly, my daughter’s extra chromosome didn’t seem to come with that dance gene. She somehow managed to get mommy’s can’t-dance-no-way-no-how gene. Maybe I can exchange it for one that does…?

  434. love these pictures!

  435. Love these pictures!

  436. That picture of you and Nella (your favorite of the week) needs to be blown up and framed for sure. It made me stop in my tracks. If that doesn’t say true love right there, I don’t know what does. LOVE it.

  437. I have been reading your blog since I stumbled on a link someone posted on Facebook. Your posts are inspiring and the love you have for your daughters shines through. Each one of them touches my heart. But this one, about the adult with special needs, touched my soul. My oldest sister has Down Syndrome. She is an amazing human being and we are all better people for having lived around her all our lives. And boy, can she dance…

    Thank you for opening your heart and for being moved and telling us. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. And thank you for putting your God given talents to the service of people that very often have no voice.
    Veronica, from Argentina.

  438. I absolutely LOVE this post. So much awesomeness in one place! Love all those dancing superstars and sparkling smiles! Magic abounds.

  439. What a great dance and I LOVED the Shine party video. I sober throughout the whole thing because it was so moving and wonderful. I posted it on my Facebook page saying it would be great if parties like that were held annually all over the USA. PARTY ON!

  440. Kelle,

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your blog, but this post had me smiling from ear to ear! My brother in law is an adult who has down Syndrom. My husband and I for years planned the adult dances and family parties in Houston for the Down Syndrome Association of Houston. My husband’s brother would often fly in for the dances (he lives in a different city) and to see him enjoy himself so much always kept us going back to plan the next event. Now I volunteer with The Center, a residential facility in Houston that serves the adult community with mental disabilities – they allow adults of all abilities a safe place to live and work with freedom and choice that all adults should have – an amazing place! I’m glad you chose to highlight adult down Syndrome in this post! Thanks!

  441. I cannot tell you how happy this post made me. I work in development for a non-profit who provides independent living services for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. I have been racking my brain trying to find a new exciting activity for our youth group and I think a dance/prom is just the ticket. Nothing like this has been done in our rural area and I think it would be incredible.

    Thank you for the inspiration yet again!

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