Joan of Arc

Tuesday was ordinary, maybe even a little less than ordinary because I was multitasking in ways that had me frazzled, not quite present, edgy even. Ballet followed by lunch with friends was a nice retreat from the craziness I had created that day–a lost to-do list, papers scattered on my desk, clothes thrown on the floor, an unmade bed. It wasn’t a bad day. It just wasn’t, well, great. I’m okay with that. They can’t all be fireworks.

By late afternoon, I lost such direction that I stood in the middle of the room not once, but twice, and said out loud, “What was I just doing?” And somewhere around mid afternoon, when I noticed the long shadows in the driveway and the sun’s arrival over the back woods where it begins its nightly retreat, I decided I wasn’t letting the day go down without a fight.

I still had things to do, a house to tidy, mouths to feed, but suddenly at that moment the most important thing was finding a way to resuscitate life back into our day. Like it was hidden in a game of hide-and-seek and my challenge was to find it.

No brainer. It’s at the beach. I didn’t really have the energy to pack up pails and shovels and head out, and I knew Brett wasn’t in the mood either. But maybe those are the times you need it most–when it’s work. It started begrudgingly–our quick preparation to take the girls to a beach sunset–but by the time we drove the four miles and caught that pink horizon from our windshield right before we pulled in to the parking ramp, everything settled and my lost direction was suddenly clear.

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We arrived just in time as if that heavy pink sun hung still right before it hit the water line, waiting for our arrival.

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Onlookers clapped like they always do once it finally fell, and we stayed and relished its afterglow.

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Nella walked the beach for the first time, her little body confidently trudging right toward the gulf. It knocked her down a few times, and she shuddered as the cold water lapped over her legs and diaper. I pulled her back into dry sand, away from the intimidating waters, but that didn’t stop her. She trudged forward, like Joan of Arc, again and again and again. To conquer the water, to seek the thrill.

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Yesterday, ABCNews.com did a story on Living with Down syndrome and Nella. Cara, the producer, did a beautiful job, and I felt so humbled and honored to have the opportunity to represent this amazing community of parents and share what I believe to be very important–that we all have a choice in how we embrace hardship, and that it can open the door to living a bigger, better life. It’s a story we share with many. But, for some reason, I read the first comment after the post–nothing I haven’t heard before, a bit of a *yawn* by now–but still, the presented concept pissed me off at that particluar moment. That, my God, a story of a family living life to its fullest and celebrating their child who is doing great is ridiculous because our kid is two and it’s going to get so much worse. Here’s the thing–this person is completely right in the fact that it’s going to get worse–more hardship, far more difficult challenges than, say, occupational therapy. My opposition to the comment really has nothing to do with Down syndrome or negativity in a comment–we deal with both on a regular basis, and we tend to forget about them respectively.

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The problem I have with it is the theory that happiness and perspective and grabbing life by the balls is somehow discredited if challenges are still ahead. I got fired up, something I don’t often do anymore over a silly comment. Because if there’s one thing I have a problem with, it’s joy-suckers. Don’t suck my joy. Don’t suck someone else’s joy. You think I don’t know what’s ahead? You think I don’t have moments where I put myself there–ten years from now, thirty years from now, fifty years from now? You know what statistics say? I know damn well it’s a hard, hard road and there will be tears. But I trudge forward. Like Joan of freaking Arc, and I embrace the challenges and choose to be happy. Knock me down, Waves. I’ll get back up. I do cartwheels, okay? In my driveway. Sometimes in my nightgown. And I will never stop trying to live life this way.

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There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about adventure seeking. How people choose to climb Mt. Everest knowing it’s a brutal challenge. How my friend, Melina, slips in a kayak and paddles through life-threatening rapids because she wants to feel the thrill. How runners train for marathons when, certainly, a 26-mile run doesn’t promise a pleasant experience. How surfers suffer concussions and yet get right back out there because there’s something bigger on the other side. Adventure, victory, adrenaline, the self-awareness that comes from conquering something difficult.

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You can look at this big picture or small picture; it works both ways. Heading to a beach sunset even when you don’t feel like it. Pulling the craft bin out in search of glitter, knowing it will make a huge mess. Signing up for an African Drum class even though it’s one more thing on your already busy schedule (I’m thinking about it). Choosing to embrace the heartache of raising a child with Down syndrome and being happy, exhuberant, determined in spite of it.

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My point? You cannot wait for Life to come to you. You have to go get it–pursue it in a wild, passionate chase that includes the foreboding depths of challenge and heartache just as much as the ecstacy of triumph and success. You have to want it bad enough to seek it not only when things are rough and the pursuit of it brings the hope of change, but when things are comfortable and easy, and the quest for more living–more purposeful awareness–might even make you scared. It is in that fear–that breathtaking exhileration of “What If?”–that you rise to the occassion.

You step out of your comfort zone and experience the thrill of taking risks and the possibility of believing that, sure, things might be good, but if you stretched a little further, they might be great. I want to know great. And I will work hard to find it.

…and that’s why we went to the beach.

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*****

Introducing new sponsor, Thirty One Gifts Independent Consultant, Nicki Kusek. Thirty One Gifts has a brand new catalogue out as of yesterday, and it’s chock full of some great organizational totes and storage options.

Our new utility bag is like Mary Poppins’ bag–you can fit a house in it. Perfect for the beach.

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And Lainey & Nella’s personalized cinch bags came in handy when I organized everything they’d need while I was in NY last week.

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Totes are affordably priced, and there is a great variety of sizes available. Happy Shopping.

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Also joining Enjoying the Small Things this month is Mom Colored Glasses, a site dedicated to inspiring moms by providing ideas and information in a fun, well-organized way. One click on their site will lead you to a great collection of articles, recipes, crafts, forums, and little things that will surely make you happy. From ideas for better living to suggestions for both the best kid and mom books, it’s a colorful, lively place to be–a great source for motherhood inspiration.

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*****

I’m chasing life this week. Planning Nella’s little party this weekend is helping.

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Tea Party in the Woods to come. We will announce and celebrate the closing of Nella’s 2 for 2 Fund after this weekend.

And in case you lost that beautiful piece ABC News did in my fiery sermon, you can watch it HERE.

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Comments

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  1. Absolutely love these photos. It goes without saying that you guys are magnificent parents who deserve all the best in this world! Great post as always guys, you rock!

  2. Love the pics!!! Nella is such a love! :))

  3. love, love that last photo of Nella

  4. I love Nella’s beach outfit, and I’m so jealous of how often you go to the beach!

  5. Always so much inspiration in your posts Kelle – just stunning. And that last picture is just breathtaking!

    Brooke
    http://www.TheAnnessaFamily.com

  6. Oh, that last picture made me smile so hard. Also, the “what’s your focus.” It’s hard. Hell, it’s hard without a child with challenges to stay focused on the happy, the here and now. So, people who only want to admonish our loving life regardless of obstacles and want us to fret over those obstacles…bite me.

  7. Dude. That comment-er is so wrong, and you are so right. Don’t let them steal your unicorn. Who would you rather be, you (choosing joy) or them (turning away from joy)? Whose friend would you rather be? Whose spouse? I always think that those people must have it so hard. Because let’s face it, every life is going to have their share of hard things. The whole point of life is how you act DURING the hard times, not being able to have joy when things are easy. Keep on keeping on.

  8. Love, love, love that last picture of Nella!!

  9. I’m so glad you addressed that comment. It really stuck in my mama lion’s thumb like a painful tack, too, even though I know that person is an idiot. Yes, we will have challenges ahead, but I don’t think she had a very good grasp of what they will be. Bleh. Anyway, I, like you, will continue to cherish today’s happiness rather than stealing from today’s or tomorrow’s. Life is too short. And our kids are just too cuddly and wonderful!

  10. That comment got me all fired up too, can’t even imagine how you must have felt! Ahhh….breathe! Thank you for sharing yourself and your beautiful family with us, and thank you for not the joy suckers win!!

  11. You seriously are amazing! Your words capture and sum up my emotions too! Joy suckers beware!!!

  12. Good for you!! I’m right there with you with my glass half FULL because thats how I want it to be!! I will deal with the challenges, the tough times, and all that life throws my way, and still that glass will remain half FULL!! Thanks so much for all you do!!

  13. Preach it sista! You grab those unicorns and ride um hard! xoxox

  14. are you kidding me with that last picture of nella? gorgeous.

    “There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?” that quote is going on my fridge.

    thank you!

  15. As ever, you have such a way with words, Kelle. Live the life you want, suck the marrow, and continue to inspire the rest of us. The ABC piece was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. Thank you. <3 <3 <3

  16. Last pic. is the cutest pic. of Nella, ever! And Daddy and Lainey at sunset = precious.

  17. We did the beach thing on tuesday, too…though armed only with apple juice and chips. You inspired me months ago to make our trips more spontaneous, and we have. Also, we almost had to kill a flock o’ seagulls. I love the beach.

    Naysayers will always exist. Keep doing what you’re doing. Just because you blog, and just because you might profit from it, does not mean everything about your family is up for debate. Hit the delete key and sleep peacefully. Life is yours, Nella is yours, and the space you publish in is, too.

  18. p.s. do you have a book tour schedule yet? I really, really hope you come to san diego! there would be many of us who would come out to support you!

  19. My mantra has always been…in our blessed journey with Nella and with my blessed privilege of being a chaplain in a hospital–“Don’t let the worries of tomorrow steal from you the joys of today.” I read comments like that and I remember there are people whose life lenses seemed to be set that way. That is fine…for them. Not for me. And those people I am sure will attract and connect with others who share that lens. Again…fine. I tend to collect and connect with others who enjoy the small things of today while well aware tomorrow may bring shadows. I am not angry with those comments…I am just grateful I would not have that be my first response to seeing and reading news and views like this article contained. Yes, sometimes we just need our “beach” wherever and whatever that might be. A hearty “Amen, Sistah!” from Michigan here!

    –Poppa

  20. Just…. :)
    Love this.

  21. Love the last picture of Nella! She is a doll!
    I got fired up about that comment when I read it yesterday too – it made me so angry. And then I read the other comments and was encouraged for you. Then as angry as I was, I actually started feeling sorry for ol’ Marsha Marsha. It must be a terribly sad and depressing life she lives.
    Thank YOU for choosing joy and for sharing it with us, your readers. You encourage me with every post!
    Blessings!

  22. Saw the piece on ABC. You expressed yourself so well. I am inspired not only by the story of your life and challenges you tell but by the way you tell it! Thank you for sharing yourself with us. It’s not always the easy path to be yourself in front of the world. Leave the nay-sayers to their negative world. Rising to the challenge with a positive attitude should be every persons aspiration.
    I love the look on Nella’s face in your last photo. My two year old often makes my heart soar with these little unguarded moments.

  23. that last pic is PRICELESS. I never saw that comment, but I’m glad you didn’t let it suck your joy. It never ceases to amaze me how many joy-suckers there are out there- but yesterday we saw how many more joy-givers there are in contrast. (thank you, kelle.) I wish Lily and I could surprise you by showing up for Nella’s birthday party..looking forward to the pictures instead:)

  24. It’s really terrible that others feel the need to spread their negative energy.
    I would just like to say that your girls are extremely lucky to have you as a mom. Your strength and great positive outlooks will really set them up for wonderful lives!

  25. I think this is one of your best blogs yet! Thank you for getting fired up! We all need to be fired up for our children, thank you for the reminder! (I can kinds see you giving them the finger while cleansing your soul…respectively of course!) I love to be reminded that our lives are and will be hard, but are so worth it! We know love that others may never! Thanks again, love the photos as usual, the last one of Nella is my favorite! blessings, Traci

  26. I watched that ABC piece last night and thought, not for the first time: Kelle Hampton is my hero. Precisely because of your decision to turn something potentially sorrowful into something to celebrate. Because TODAY, there are small things to enjoy and tremendous things to cheer.
    Blessings to you and the joy YOU spread,
    Rachel

  27. I don’t think we can help but get fired up when people seek to “suck joy” or push us down when we’re riding high on life. To each his own, but didn’t we all learn- “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all.” It stings, and it’s hurtful because even those of us with our wishful thinking or the occasional “head in the clouds” demeanor know full well the reality of this world…the cold, dark and cruel place it can be. All the more reason to focus on the unicorns and rainbows, my dear. Life is hard. No one said it would be easy…but no one said you had to go about it alone. Cheers to your family and your village. You make this world a brighter place, one step (or day) at a time.

  28. Adore the last picture of Nella! Thanks again for inspiring words, you are amazing!

  29. That is right!
    That’s why you inspire me and foh sho changed my life!
    That’s how I managed to live through many years of cell – and still am alive and kickin’.
    That’s how I live outside (way outside) my comfort zone 8 hours a day at work and wouldn’t be in one piece if I didn’t .
    That’s just it. The way I choose to feel and live.
    Choosing happiness. Choosing to hang out here for weekly fixes!

  30. “There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?”

    We all chose our focus, I’m so glad you picked HAPPY :-)

    NO JOYSUCKERS ALLOWED!!!!

  31. What a poignant and beautiful response to a dreadful comment. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time (I think since Nella was born… as my daughter is the same age!) and I so admire your ability to seek out the positive. You go girl!

  32. … that iPhone!!! Many years of hell, it is.

  33. What a beautiful, honest, heartfelt post. People who are joy suckers do not need to be a part of our lives. Unfortunately, they come across our path occasionally. Being positive is so much better all the way around than being negative.

    We don’t need to borrow tomorrow’s worries and sorrows, today’s are enough. We need to look for the joy and beauty in each day and that’s what you do with your photos and words.

    That last photo of Nella melts and fills my heart with love.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  34. God, I wish with all my heart and soul that I could have half the positive attitude that you do. I actually chose positive as my one word to concentrate on in 2012. Because I’m just not. I’m not positive. I don’t think I ever have been. I’m convinced my brain would be a sad sad host for anyone.

    I think that’s why I continue to come here. It makes me cry every time because I see what I’m missing and I want it oh so badly. But I still can’t seem to find it.

    I feel so much pain a lot of the time. And it swallows me and who I could be whole.

    I think you are so brave and every time you “raise your voice” I am standing and clapping with you. Like, hell yeah, man! Hell yeah.

  35. you are a constant inspiration!

  36. Yes!!! Exactly!! I wanted to jump through the computer and find that commenter and just…shake her? hug her? cover her in sunshine and happiness? Something!! Thank you for being the amazing and fabulous Mama you are!

  37. That comment, that first comment – it got under my skin yesterday too, Kelle. I thought about it all day and night, wondering why and how someone feels the right to spread such “blech” – especially after such a beautiful feature about such a gorgeous, vibrant two year old and her family. But that commenter, I finally realized, chooses to focus on pain and fear rather than joy. And we can only feel sorry for those who cannot see the sunshine for the shadows. Kelle, I follow your blog because YOU remind me with each post of the beauty in the world, beauty I can take from your wonderful prose and amazing photos and transfer into my own little world. Joy shared is joy multiplied, and you inspire us all daily to embrace life and all it offers. Thank you, Kelle, for all you are to all of us.

  38. Let’s try this again..

    For 100th time I’ve read or heard the birth story, I cried again 😉 It was a beautiful day and rebirth of your life and joy.

    I also read that first comment – why is the first commenter the worst?! That person is an idiot to suggest you chose a hard life. The only *choice* you made is to let your girls’ love and acceptance lead the way.

    As a parent, we will always fondly look back to the first few years of our babies’ lives to remind us of how they became who they are. You are giving both of your girls an unlimited path, no matter what the world or the past might have told you. No matter what happens in the future, you will never regret living this life, right now, to the fullest.

  39. Thank you Kelle! I so needed to hear this message… I find myself sometimes focusing on the “things-that-don’t-make-me-happy” forgetting that there are “things-that-make-me-incredibly-happy”.

    I’m going to focus on the happy moments.. bc really I don’t want to be unhappy!

    Thanks for sharing pieces of your life… :)

  40. You are one of the most amazing mothers that I know (er, know through this fantastic world of blogging), and the fact that you can share the triumphs and joys, along with the chaos and tears just comes with not only parenting a special needs child, but just parenting a child (period) serves as inspiration and (at times) guidance for the community that has grown around you. Keep on keeping on Kelle!

    XO,
    Deirdre
    beautymustsformoms.blogspot.com

  41. These photos are absolutely lovely, and your words … your words? Are ever so beautiful. You were meant to write. I can feel such emotion through them, simply by reading. That’s a beautiful thing. I admire your strength and kind heart. truly.

  42. This story meant so much to me. I used to work with people with special needs in an adult day program, and let me tell you, there are going to be so many opportunities for Nella that you can’t even imagine yet. She’s so lucky to have you, your husband, and her sister fighting in her corner. Not every special needs child has that. She’s already got a head start on all of the fun, laughter, hard work, and joy that life can bring. Just keep doing your thing, Momma, you’ll be so pleased with how it plays out, I just know it.

  43. Thank YOU, Kelle, for being a joy-spreader. Some people will always have something negative to say. let them. it can just serve as a reminder to you that you choose optimism, joy and happiness. I do too. :) GORGEOUS images in this post. i love the way you capture the beauty in everything.

  44. I like your mother bear in this post: keeping the boudaries in place, remembering what is important. I was shouting “yes,yes,yes” as I was reading.
    More than anything, this is probably why I read your blog.

  45. PREACH IT!!!!

  46. While I don’t know you Kelle – I freaking love you! So much so, that someday when I “grow up” I want to be you. We’ll look past the fact that I’m a few years older than you chronologically. This Momma is taking your lead and will finally, finally put Autism aside and grab life “by the balls” as you say. Thank you for your direction, perspective, and inspiration!!

  47. I LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about this post…getting out there and doing something even when you don’t feel like it and having that sense of “feeling right” when you do! The way you explained your feelings after that comment. Oh you read my heart. CHOOSING to have a positive outlook…CHOOSING to help our kiddos the best we can, CHOOSING to live life to the fullest no matter what challenges lay ahead…that is where ethe beauty lies… it is not that we don’t know there will be difficulty and we are in denial…it is that we know there will be more difficulty so we NEED to enjoy every moment we have! EVERY one! hard and enjoyable.

    oh i just LOVE this post!!

    Thankyou Kelle! and like others have said…that picture of Nella at the end…oh boy. it literally made me gasp. there is just something about the precious girl in curls…and the post she’s striking…oh so beautiful nella!

  48. utter goosebumps!!! & the sentance, ‘they can’t all be fireworks,’ rang so true to my heart. it’s how we find the fireworks in the day that matters.
    thank you!!

  49. ROCK ON! Go you. What inspiring words! Can’t wait to watch the ABC news piece. Enjoy yourself–that’s what it’s all about. But I didn’t have to tell you that, did I?
    XO to all of you!
    BRH in CT

  50. Oh, what an amazing video!!! I was totally crying!

  51. If it’s any consolation, friend – the comment you speak of has been moderated and is gone. xo

    Your words, your pictures, your heart. They hold such beauty and such power when you are so honest and so raw.

    I tune in for the beauty, and am sucker-punched in the guts in a good, good way for the power in the raw honesty that is so familiar.

    Keep on trudging, and thank you for documenting the cartwheels inherent with this journey. Nella. I just love her. xo

  52. Amen, sista!! As always, just what I needed to hear today. Thanks, Kelle.

  53. I’ve been reading your blog since my son was born last feb, i found it by accident. But what a great accident. I turn to your stories at the end of a sometimes defeating day and they make me smile. you are inspiring, so thank you :)

  54. You preach it Sister!! I’m sending you hearty “Amen” from Oregon! And whatever you do….don’t stop finding and spreading all the joy you can….the world needs so much more of it.

    Know you that are so appreciated, and we are standing beside you and with you, cheering.

    It’s a beautiful life, no matter the mess.

  55. You go, mama! Let’s pity the people who would rather wallow in misery than be lifted up up through hope and optimism! Thank you, as always, for sharing!

    This is, by far, one of my favorite posts, with your writing about that particular comment situation stirring a quieted thing inside of me. I feel the same way, and I am inspired by you everyday.

    <3 Love that last pic of Nella!

  56. I just watched your news piece, brought me to sweet tears because of all the true words you said. i love how open and honest you are about Nella’s story, truly brave!

    A beach night sounds perfect—amazing photos as always!

    Nella looking in the mirror is priceless :)

  57. You are a fabulous mom Kelle! Don’t let those joy-suckers get you down! I have a friend that did not find out her baby had downs until they were about to leave the hospital the next day. She is one of the most positive, inspirational, BEAUTIFUL on the inside and out, (just like you are) person that I know. You are right about all of your beliefs…letting Nella define who she is and not a name of a syndrome she has. Your girls, your boys, your whole family is an inspiration!

  58. YOU GO GIRL!!!! You are such an inspiration to me & so many others. Fuck the joy suckers. They suck. They, too, have the choice to enjoy your site or stay the hell away from it. Sending love your way..this post got me all fired up!

  59. That last photo of Nella is BEAUTIFUL!

  60. And that, Mama, is why you were chosen to be Nella’s mom. You have a whole army ready to go into battle with you, so you keep fighting the good fight.

  61. You know we all hear those kinds of comments from time to time, but I am glad you responded to that particular one. I honestly sat fuming for at least 20 good minutes after reading it yesterday. I think what got me most about it was the fact that the person made it seem like as parents of little ones with down syndrome we arent allowed to love ours and be happy simply because things were going to be hard…………. Thank you for being so much more eloquent with your words than I am capable of being.

  62. i needed to read this today. We have been struggling with my oldest child and his anxiety since he was 2 and he is now 7. I have come to the conclusion this week that it is not getting any better and he is NOT growing out of it. It is keeping him from enjoying life as he should. I have been so afraid to talk to a dr about it, to label him, for fear of the stigma. But reading this helps me realize that maybe this was given to us for a reason; maybe we can help others recognize the signs sooner and get help more quickly and to not be ashamed. Every time I think of all the times his behavior has embarrassed me, I cringe. But all I can do is start fresh today and look forward to better tomorrows. Thanks for helping me see the big picture, Kelle. You are an amazing mother and an inpsiration to us all

  63. A) that last picture of Nella may be a contender for fav – those curls! that look! crazy cute!!

    B) I choose to focus on the the positive…and I appreciate that others lead by example. We need more people to adopt a slight shift in perspective in this world

    C) i want a beach 4 minutes from my house…but I will relish in our park and the unseasonably warm weather for us to enjoy a trip there just before sunset to “save our day” from waste

    go, Joan, go!!

  64. Haters gotta hate, Kelle. Stay in your happy marrow-sucking bubble!!!! xo

  65. Can I get an AMEN, Sista! Love your words and your attitude. And I love that photo of Nella at the end even more. She’s bright and pensive. I wish I could know exactly what she’s thinking in that moment.

  66. Haters gotta hate, Kelle. Stay in your happy marrow-sucking bubble!!!! xo

  67. What a touching, beautiful, candid, loving piece. There are always mean people and some days they can get to you more easily than others, but remember your focus and your joy. Poor mean people have none – of their own making. And that’s sad.

  68. You are a brave soul. Someone who inspires me to fight the good fight every day. And you are spot on with everyone has something to be happy about and everyone has something to be unhappy about. Life is about what we make it and your fierce drive to create memories, seek thrill, and embrace the hardships without letting them immediately meaning heartache, is such a light in this world.

    xo.

  69. The picture of your two smiling at each other seriously warms my heart! She is beautiful! What a wonderful little blessing! Hugs!

    hanlonfamily2.blogspot.com

  70. I can’t handle that last picture of Nella. Such a bunny girl. (Also can’t wait for the tea party!)
    Your post reminds me of the quote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” (I forget who said it.) The way you chose to spend your Tuesday evening, with joy and exuberance instead of letting the sun set without partaking, is the way you spend your life. And that is beautiful, my friend. xo

  71. Kelle, you totally inspire me. Too often, I get stuck in the mire of the ‘have-nots’ and you’ve challenged me today to think about what I do have and how many opportunities I’m given to be grateful. Perspective, baby, perspective. Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart with us. XO

  72. I love the emotion that you put into this post. Not to say that all of your other posts are emotionless, because they are definitely anything but, but I could feel the “protective Mom” emotion in this one. Thanks for keeping it real!

  73. Your girls are so beautiful! Your family radiates LOVE!

    Every life will have challenges, yours and Nella’s may be different than the norm, maybe not. Most of us could not have guessed we would be where we are now. Thank you for the wonderful reminder to appreciate each day and all its joy.

    Thank you for taking the challenges and oh so many blessings you have been given and sharing a bit of that joy and love with all of us.

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  75. Boo to those joysuckers! Yay for you all and the LOVELY piece. Brought tears to my eyes yet again!

  76. unfortunately this is a fact- challenges are ahead. And I mean for every single human being.

    and yes, there is something about KNOWing your challenges or likelihood for them that can be daunting. like when thinking about the future for nella. sure. ( but wow. the challenges we dont know are coming. ugh. hold on tight) but im just freaking thrilled about your spirit. i just bottled it next to my latte.

    Theres something very true though and that is the “every day” which is strikingly similar in every person’s life no matter the challenges. I guess I feel like your mantra. which i share. –>joy 1st. is part of a greater picture that is universal. not just related to overcoming or fighting. not just to ignore. or shove away fear. but it was one you had pre-babies. and it is one you have even greater now because of the gifts they have been in your life.

    so put me on the joy team. ( as opposed to the joy sucking team. also titled snakes) i will have wrestling singlets made. just send me your sizes.

    ( joy suckers are the bane of my existence. and i wish, for them, that they can turn fear into something entirely more enjoyable like beaches and popsicles. but really. i wish for them- hope. because without it the world would be gross and predictable. and that… it is not.)

    and my friend has a 15 yr old son with down syndrome. there may be challenges. but there isnt “worse” he kicks ass.

  77. You ROCK! I always tell my girls, it’s all in how you look at it, you can sit and wallow and boo hoo, or you can get up and find the joy! Some days are hard, but that makes the good ones even better!
    LOVE, LOVE that last picture of your cute baby!!!

  78. Amen.. Some people will never be happy — regardless of their life experiences (good or bad) — You go with your bad self.. Thanks for finding the joy in life. It’s the only way to be.. love…love love you..xoxo

  79. antastic post. i needed that little kick in the pants today for myself.

    my own daughter, who is four and is non-verbal (pre-verbal??) and cannot feed herself, accomplished an amazing feat this morning at preschool. she fed herself applesauce for the first time, at the urging of her teachers and to the cheering of all the boys in her class!! my girl, who always embodies the joy that life has to offer though cannot express it in words, seems to know exactly what you are talking about. she grabs the moment and squeezes the marrow out of it, like you.

    tomorrow is our first feeding therapy appointment in six weeks, and i get to report to them that she not only ate a piece of pizza last night by CHEWING it (she hasn’t done much chewing up to this point…), but she now is expanding into feeding herself. and my God, i couldn’t be more thrilled!!!

    thanks for the great post. there is much joy out there… sometimes you just have to seek it. :)

  80. you are far from blind. you see the challenges. you are the one wearing the shoes of a mother of a down syndrome child. your choice of focus couldn’t be a more right approach. i’m so glad you went to the beach. what a way to tie it into your beautifully written story. your babies have a joyful mom. those little people are blessed. the end.

  81. Just because you are enjoying today doesn’t mean you’re living in a cloud and think life is easy. . .that Down syndrome is easy. There are battles that come with having a child with special needs as they grow, especially with inclusion. But I’m 10 years into this journey and I think it may be easier now than when she was 2. Don’t you let anyone suck your joy. It’s all about attitude and perspective. You were born to share joy and inspire!

    xo

  82. Oh My Word! The pic of your girls in the cars-Love it!

  83. I think this is one of your most well-written posts, and I’ve been reading for a while now! Sometimes you just gotta respond to those joy suckers :)

  84. Miss Kelle, watching your video I understand better what you mentioned in Nella’s birthday post about your not embracing those first hours together. To hear it in your voice, it made me appreciate and mourn your own grief.

    In regards to the negative commenter, I absolutely think you have the right out look on life! To choose happiness, focusing on the positives I think it’s best way to be, and in some cases the only way to survive. Can you imagine how much Nella and Lainey would lose if you chose to only focus on what may come. I don’t think they’re lives would be better for it.

    But maybe, rethink the drum circle until you have a little more breathing room. :)

  85. BRAVO Kelle! F-in-A bravo! this post was amazing! RAW filled with anger and frustrations…love and joy. We “real optimists” don’t need anyone to remind us that life is shitty…we know it but choose to laugh it off and move into the light. don’t know you… but LOVE YOU so much and those little girls. If we were friends, we would rock it soooooooooooooo hard.

  86. Great job on ABC! I love, love, love that last picture of Nella!!!

  87. omg–my post sounded sick…rock it soooooooooo hard! lol i’m such. a. dork. it. HURTS!

  88. Yes!
    Yes to joy spreading, to facing challenges & moving forward though life with a spirit of adventure.
    Yes to you & your unicorns, rose colored glasses & marrow sucking way of life.
    Loved the ABC piece… and that last photo of Nella is one of my all time favorites!
    xo
    Kate

  89. I absolutely LOVE this last picture of Nella! =)

  90. Keep your head up Kelle, I know you do 99.9% of the time….it amazes me how people can’t stand positivity….its like if they can’t be positive there is no way anyone else can either without being fake or phony.

    You say it all right here

    “There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?”

    I for one love your outlook on life, and even though I may not be able to “rock out” life quite like you, I take inspiration from you. I do not compare, I learn and I grow from you and others. Keep on keeping on sister friend!

  91. Omigosh that last picture is so adorable! Keep doing your thing–it’ll prove the joy suckers wrong!

  92. Oh and that last pic is to die for!!! What a cutie!

  93. Long time reader…first time poster. I have 2 daughters as well. 10 and 8. Our 10-yr-old was born with Oculocutaneous Albinism. She was diagnosed at 10 weeks and Nella’s birth story spoke to my soul. Your thoughts/tears/emotions of that day mirrored the first 24 hours after we learned the news about our platinum angel. Today’s post runs a close 2nd to that post in terms of how powerful & inspiring your words are. Thanks – once again – for touching my soul!

  94. You are my hero. Love everything about this post. The end.

  95. *This* is why you are awesome and I love your blog! I have followed you since you wrote Nella’s birth story and, as a mother of two little girls, I continue to relate to you and find inspiration from your positive spirit. Life can be hard, period, for a variety of circumstances and reasons. It’s how you choose to live it that makes all the difference. Once again, you have dealt with adversity so eloquently.

  96. I read this painted on a wall..”you’re living your story”! I choose to live my life with joy not as a Debbie Downer. Our 3 kids with Down syndrome, ages 23, 19 and 14, are doing very, very well. We have a great life. Loved your post!

  97. People who don’t focus on the positive make me so mad sometimes. I love the last pic of Nella looking in the mirror.

  98. People can say what they want kelle, but honestly just what this post was about life is what you make it. we have the energy and the power to make and shift our lives into what we want. if people choose to just concentrate on the “bad” than that’s all they are going to experience. Yes Nella has down syndrom. Yes there are risks. But there are risks in everything. and none of us know what life may throw at us tomorrow. i don’t believe in dwelling and drowning in fear, why should we. it’s here and now. there’s nothing but the hear and now. right now? nella is happy and healthy and we can all see that. a huge part of that is what you have chosen for her so far. i think you are doing a most wonderful job. and she is benefiting so greatly. you are teaching that little sponge so much already. she is learning how to cope with life by the example you set for her. i think that no matter what you guys are going to be more than okay. and the energy that you bring will surely do it’s wonders when needed. i believe in magic and don’t cha worry those unicorns will sprinkle there magic dust on nella and she will be fine. no matter what she will be fine. and we are all here to support and help you out so there meany commenter 😛 stick that in your pipe.

  99. I love how honest you are in the interview. It’s amazing, refreshing, and will help more people than you can imagine. I’m proud of you.

  100. I couldn’t love this post more. Choosing happiness isn’t easy, no matter what your struggles may be, but that journey is what makes us who we are. Look for joy and you find it.
    Doomsayers, beware!!!

  101. Kelle, This might be my favorite post ever!!<3

  102. We are 21 years down the road you are traveling and have found the burden light and far outbalanced by the joy we have living with our extra special girl. We comment frequently how much more joy we get from our girl than any of the other three children we have. I think you will find as you journey forward that you will have very few tears caused by Nella and such joy and blessing having her that the tears will be as nothing.Enjoy! The days pass so quickly.

  103. GET IT, KELLE! :) I got fired up right along with you! So many wonderful and inspiring things in this post — thank you for opening your heart & sharing & being vulnerable, even when there are joy suckers out there. This post is definitely getting bookmarked to reread many-a-time in the future!

  104. Once again, you made me tear up at work (during my lunch break, in case my boss is reading). Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

  105. Oh my god! That last photo of Nella is breath taking! xx

  106. That last photograph just about broke my heart into a million pieces with the absolute beauty of it. Live your life with joy, honey. You certainly inspire so many (me included) to do so. Must also add, I’m a bit jealous of your sunsets. We live on the Atlantic side of Florida and I just can’t seem to get myself up early enough to enjoy the sunrises! Alas. :) I enjoy seeing your sunsets. xx – another mama from Florida.

  107. Your blog is so full of inspiration, hope, love and beauty. I could read it all day long. I always look forward to your next post. The video was beautiful. I feel like I know your family, through your blog and I just cried watching it. I would love to squeeze your kids with hugs. Its too I live too far away. lol

  108. Momma, you rock! I have learned so much through your blog, and my ridiculous views of DS have completely been changed. Thank you for opening my eyes. Thank you for changing me. Thank you for inspiring me.

  109. Loved the video Kelle!!! You did such a beautiful job. Oh my…that last photo of sweet girl is beautiful..my favorite one so far I think!!! The little curls! The sweet face! Her expression…her eyebrow…Oh my gosh. LOVE HER.

    …Joy-suckers…Uuugh. There’s always gonna be one or two in the bunch. Seriously. They need their own colony.

    YOU are amazing – your girls are amazing. I join the thousands when I say that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – YOU ROCK mama! xo

  110. oh, my goodness… i need tissues. you voice was so what i expected. you’re beautiful!! loved the news story. thank you for be so honest & sharing your story. what a true blessing. (:

  111. Kelle,
    I read the article and watched the video right after you posted it on FB. It WAS amazing. You are an inspiration to anyone facing a struggle in their life. While I read that first comment I also read the many below that were in support of you and your efforts. Sometimes people are so realistic that they cannot see the beauty of life.

    Looking forward to Nella’s bday post!

  112. Amen Kelle – you said it perfectly. I hate when people come and suck the joy out of things for others – it is a choice to live in a positive way and I think it is great that you do. Nella is so amazing like so many other kids. I love the last picture of her she is getting so big! I loved the interview, it made cry. Stay positive and just keep doing what your doing.
    Can’t wait to see all the pictures from Nellas party – I know it will be amazing.

  113. This is by far my most favorite post of yours! YOU GO! Live your life to the fullest and leave the naysayers in your dust.

    Love the pics of your girls. The last is precious!

  114. That comment made me mad too, and I am glad that you addressed it as well. Who are they to take your thunder away, some people amaze me. I continue to be inspired be you, and your blog. Well done!

  115. Speak it girl!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!!! :)

  116. first tears at the rawness of your video and then a “hell yes” on all accounts.
    the DS community is so lucky to have you as one of their voices.
    with that said, let the joy suckers be gone!
    thanks for being an inspiration.

  117. This post inspired one of my own – you are such an amazing woman (and I don’t mean that in the “crazy fan” way). If you’re interested, you’re mentioned here: http://gluttonforhope.blogspot.com/2012/02/girl-crush.html

  118. That last picture is to die for!!! She is precious! Dont let anyone suck your joy. You are doing incredible things!!!

  119. I freaking love this post. And you. Thanks for the inspiration to go out and pursue Life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’ve change my life Kelle Hampton and I thank you for it!

    XOXO,
    Angie from Ohio

  120. Thank you, kelle…just thank you.

  121. You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your passionate positivism…is that a word? I’m going to follow your example!

  122. I hate joy suckers, too! It’s so obvious that you are a joy CREATOR! You have such a precious, beautiful family, and I love your live-life-to-the-fullest attitude!

  123. You provide a ray of sunshine in my life every time I read your blog. I think the Hampton Family is amazing!

  124. You have such a way with words…

    “Knock me down, Waves. I’ll get back up. I do cartwheels, okay? In my driveway. Sometimes in my nightgown. And I will never stop trying to live life this way.”

    That made me cry.

  125. and THAT is why I continue to read your story here! Love to you!

  126. You’re a wonderful mom, Kelle. Wonderful. The life that you’re creating with your family is precious beyond words, as well as how you share it with all of us. Thank you for your honesty. And for pushing through for that great life. Life is to be celebrated, even with the reality that it won’t be an easy road. But one that is SO rich and full of beauty if we just look for it…as you do! This post really pushes me to keep looking for the great and the beautiful and making the most of life. Our little (twin) girls were born at 26 weeks weighing just over 1 pound (700g) each. The statistics for severe disabilities and even not surviving long were huge in those first days. But we can’t just give up because of some statistics huh. We continued to sing, read, talk to and spend as much time as we could caring for the girls during those long months. Now they’re 21 months, a little younger than Nella. Still a couple of scary issues, but…SO much to be thankful for and to celebrate more than being weighed down by the possibilities. Good on you, Kelle. LOVE the last photo too :)

  127. Congratulation on your spot on ABCnews.com Kelle.
    i think you were extremely well spoken, couldnt have done a better job.

    I was having a bad day today and immediately felt urged to head on over to your blog, and I was right in doing so! You bring me so much happiness and inspiration.

    My blog post today was heavily inspired by you..I even mention you and this post!

    http://myrandasu.blogspot.com/2012/02/to-do-to-do-to-do.html

  128. This comment has been removed by the author.

  129. That last photo, BEAUTIFUL … love it … love you!! Always reading, even if I don’t always comment!

    xoxo,
    April

  130. As an educator to children with special needs, I wish more of my parents were like you. Who chose to live life to it’s fullest, celebrating the positives…not allowing the negatives to keep you down.
    You keep being happy, not letting the waves knock you down, and By gosh keep cartwheeling…in your driveway, especially in your nightgown!!!!!!

  131. Kelle,

    I don’t comment often, but I do read every post. From one Michigander to another, thank you. Your words and positive attitude have really helped me keep a good perspective when things are less than perfect.

    Cheers to sucking the marrow out of life :)

    Steph

    http://funnygirltales.wordpress.com/

  132. Your news piece was amazing. It had me crying all over again even though I’ve read Nella’s birth story (more than once!). You are such an inspiration not only to other moms and to the uneducated parents out there, but just to the world in general. Your ability to see the world through rose colored glasses is so inspiring and I’m so happy I found your blog. Have a great time at the party, can’t wait to see pictures!

  133. The last photo of Nella is SO beautiful! I love the look in her eyes as she is studying herself in the mirror! So lovely!

  134. As I was sitting here watching the new piece my 6 year old came to peak over my children and wanted to know what it was about. I told her and she said “So?” It just makes you realize how precious children are. She thinks Nella is adorable (she is baby crazy). And most of all she just wants to know what you were laughing about in the third picture. She thinks maybe a crab or maybe you were tickling her. Have a joy filled day! And maybe even give her a little hug and tickle from my Allie.

  135. Loved your video message. As an avid blog reader I haven’t seen you as a real three-dimensional person. You are so lovely, so loving and so open about your experience. Thank you for being such an inspiration and sharing your journey with all of us!

  136. Kelle, this is why I read your blog. I didn’t read the comment yesterday but the aftermath of it. It was making me so mad that everyone was focusing on the *stupid person* (I can say it for you!) That person chooses to see the glass half empty and that is sad. The phrase you use so often comes to mind (what will you do with your wild and precious life?) Not bask in negetivity thats for sure. I love your pictures and your words and I love seeing Nella standing tall and heading to the water. I don’t know you and I am so proud of you and Nella and how you embrace life!

  137. That picture of the girls in their cars just melted my heart! And the picture of all three of you at the end….Lainey looks so grown up now. The picture of Brett and Nella in the beginning…well those daddy daughter moments are my favorite and the look on his face is priceless. Then Nella at the end. She is just so beautiful Kelle. You have such a gorgeous family. Your sweet souls radiate out into the world through your pictures.

    Some days the joy suckers slide off our backs and some days they poke right in there and get us going. Sometimes it good to get defensive about our lives. It reminds us how happy we are with our current challenges and challenges to come. If life was easy it would be boring. There are many days that I look at Nella’s pictures and forget all together that she has DS. I’m sure it’s hard, but worth every ounce of energy put out. Every child is a challange as they get older regardless of their DNA. At first I was shocked that anyone would have something negative to say about that wonderful piece I read yesterday, but then I was reminded that not everyone is has a positive outlook on life like we do. It’s a great reminder to be thankful for who we are inside. Kind, joyous people. :)

  138. and the alternative is?? what?? to be angry sad bitter apprehensive and disappointed all the time?? sheesh. i’m with you. there is a time for thinking ahead..being wise..preparing yourself for what is to come. there is a time for that.. and then that time passes and there is time for allowing this moment to be beautiful for just what it is. good for you. but yeah– i would have gotten fired up to. :) on a separate note– i think some people are so terrified of growing through any kind of pain that they think that anything HARD is also terribly tragic and sad. sometimes it’s the hard that makes us the most beautiful…

  139. As the song says, “don’t bring me down!” Thrilled to hear you don’t let the naysayers (or buzzkills as I like to call them!!) suck your joy :) Keep on, keeping on, girl!! =)

  140. That interview left me in tears. Your honesty is what sets you apart…not many people have the balls to be honest anymore. As for that nasty comment? Fuck ’em. Seriously. It made my heart ache for you, for Nella, for how far the world has yet to come…but really, the comment was about so much more. It was about some people’s inability to see the good in anything, a lack of faith that things will turn out as they’re meant to. Because really, none of it’s in our hands, anyway. It’s in Gods hands…we just choose how to handle each moment we’re given. Each blessed encounter we have, each day we wake, still breathing. And you my friend? You’re making some seriously wise choices. You’re choosing to make each day count. That there, will always make some people angry because they desperately want what you have, and they don’t…JOY. Beat that on your African drum. xo

  141. There are challenges ahead for ALL our children! I always feel sorry for people who always dwell on the negative – they are missing SO much joy in life. I’m glad you don’t get angry, but instead appreciate that you are not that way and your children won’t be either. You are doing amazing things Kelle – keep on spreading the joy.

  142. I think you’re lucky. Lucky that you know and can prepare for the challenges that may come for your youngest, perfect daughter. I have two sons and only one thing is for sure, there are and will be challenges, but I don’t know what they are yet. Studies haven’t “shown” what could be in my future (although…I am guessing some trips to talk to the principal’s office for my two year old.). You and Nella get a head start on the wild ride.

    We all have waves to fight through…I am just glad I am on the same side of them as you.

    Congratulations, Joan. You have it completely right.

  143. I read your blog daily, but this is my first comment. I love reading what you write. It has made me bawl like a baby at my desk at work. From time to time, however, I have thought that, perhaps, you were burying your head in the sand and ignoring the cold, hard relaties.

    Then, I watched your video. I changed my mind. Somehow hearing you say it was different then reading your beautiful, melodic words. It is clear to me that you understand (probably better than most of us) and you are choosing. Choosing to listen to the good not the bad. Choosing to find the silver lining. You have made the choice, instead of letting circumstances make the choice for you. The choice is simple, choose to be happy, choose to be positive, choose to pick what is important and not focus on the petty, insignificant details.

    At the end of the day, I am jealous of your choice and want to learn to make the same for myself. I sometimes lose sight of my blessings. Thank you for helping me refocus.

  144. Kelle,
    I dislike joy stealers also. Im so with you on that. We realize every aspect of our children. However, we choose to live in a way where we roll with the punches while still ‘ enjoying the small things’ haha. EVERY parent will have hardships. EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.
    I love how you said “Its not that big of a deal” because in my opinion it isnt. Can it be hard. sure. However, while Down syndrome can cause my child hardships it is not WHO he is. He is a beautiful PERSON living a beautiful life and he just happens to have down syndrome.

  145. AMEN and AMEN! I loved your ABC News interview – you are so right, Nella is just Nella, and what a beautiful Nella she is – And for all those joy suckers – Get a life, why suck someone’s joy or my own? Perhaps those joy suckers have never had a taste of joy. You my dear are a joy along with your beautiful family!! You are a true inspiration and a wonderful Mom!
    Keep on Keeping on!!

    Love, Shelley

  146. Awesome pics! I love your blog! Check in everyday!!!

  147. There are always two outlooks, and choosing the positive one doesn’t make you weak or foolish; it makes you strong and smart.

  148. I’ve been reading your blog for some time now, and I have such an appreciation for the way you embrace differences and challenges. I was born with a rare form of dwarfism and, like you’re raising Nella, I’m thankful my parents never put limits on me. To that commenter– they have no perspective. Unfortunately, I have dealt with people like that in my life and quite frankly they suck. How are you supposed to overcome challenges and find the strength to carry on if you cannot find joy in the present and look at the future with hope? Hold onto your joy and make the most of life.

  149. Oh, Kelle. I am a devoted reader, though I’ve never commented. I also am a mom who has a child she loves dearly who has challenges, the kind that starts with AUT and ends in ISM (I am not yet at the point where I can say the word out loud. I can’t even type it apparently). His official eval is next week even though his current doctors and therapists, and more importantly, his dad and I, already know what’s going to happen and what the diagnosis will be. We do. We KNOW. But we also know the joy he brings to our life on a daily basis, and the reward that comes from watching him meet a challenge, however small it may seem to other people. But for every lovely friend who encourages our son, and us, there are also people who feel driven to point out how much worse it will get, how much more obvious the delays will become, when the disparities between my son and his peers become even more evident. “Have you thought about what will happen when he becomes an adult? He’ll need services.” No, I’ve never given any thought to my son’s future, thanks for giving me some food for thought. I am ashamed to say that just this morning some fool said something to me about the extreme difficulty my son would have trying to learn to read, and I sat on my couch and put my head in my hands and just sobbed, the all-out ugly kind. And then I pulled myself together, wiped on some fresh mascara, and got on with it…because what else is there to do, really? And he doesn’t deserve it, my son, to have a sad mother. Your post today was just what I needed to remember that. And after I read it, after I gazed at that last indescribably precious photo of Nella, something blurted out of my mouth before I even had a chance to think about what I was saying. And it made me laugh and feel better and so I am going to keep on saying it: Fuck you, joy-suckers.

  150. Sing it sister. This is the choose-to-be-happy swift swat in my behind that I sometimes need and always know I can count on your blog for. Thank you.

    p.s. I love the photo you took of the girls playing in their cars. Look at the smiles on both of their faces and their eyes locked on each other’s happy faces. That photo is evidence that you and Brett are really doing something right–in fact quite extraordinarily–if I ever saw it.

  151. First of all-that last picture of Nella – oh she looks beautiful…she always does, but that one has a little extra something :)

    I feel sorry for that person who had something negative to say. Thats a person who does not know how to enjoy life. They may not have been faced with a challenge that they chose to overcome. I think a lot of people may be envious of the way you choose to look at life. Its a gift. Its not easy to make the most out of every situation and stay positive all the time. You know you’re up against some challenges but you don’t let it weigh you down. I think that you are such an inspiring woman. These negative nay sayers should open their minds to what you say and how you live – they would learn alot from you. I truly admire how you live life so positively…I’m not a negative person, but there sure are days that I have to shake a mood and thats not easy! You are doing an amazing job and to put your life on here and share with everyone is beautiful. I think you will see far more positive comments than negative. Your interview was wonderful – I can’t wait to read your book. One of my moms dear friends has a sister with Downs Syndrome – she is in her 60s now – MaryAnn is her name. She has got the sweetest, purest soul!

  152. I also saw that comment, and became annoyed by it. Then, I continued to read the many other supportive ones! Raising a child with special needs comes with so many challenges, that we cannot afford to look too far ahead. We have to enjoy the moments that we are in, and work through the struggles as they come. Nella is amazing!! Keep following your heart and showing her all that life has to offer. She will continue to shine!

  153. Amazing post! great wise words… joy suckers are everywhere!!! let’s have a great life, thanks Kelle!

  154. Amen sister! A lot of your posts make me tear up and this one was no different. I truly admire your positive outlook on life. To hell with those who are negative nancys!!! Even though we are strangers, you inspire me to be a better mom to my two boys, to suck the marrow out of every single second with them. So I want to say thank you for that.

  155. Go get ’em Kelle! Go get ’em!

    I lost my dad unexpectedly in July and partially because of your blog and attitude, I’ve decided to put one foot in front of the other and ENJOY my life. Go get ’em!

  156. This. Thank you for this post. I desperately needed it. You are the gift and the blessing!

  157. Kelle, you are so inspirational. Thank you for putting your heart and soul for everyone to read. I always enjoy coming to your blog.

  158. That last picture of Nella is adorable. I dont know if you even read these comments, but I just wanted to tell you that my three year old was sitting next to me watching the ABC News special on Nella and your family. He pointed to the screen and said, WOW Mama, that little girl is so pretty! I love that about this age. He looks at Nella and sees a beautiful little girl and not a little girl with Down Syndrome. I hope I can foster that, and grow that, and continue to help him see past someone who has Down Syndrome or any other syndrome. Thank you, for sharing your beautiful family with us.

  159. Thank you, Kelle, for always being positive and inspirational. I love your blog for that. I don’t know why there have to be people to try to pop our bubble but there are and always will be. Why not enjoy life and find the good and be happy for others who do?!

    I am Linda Nargi’s sister, Lila and Lexi’s proud aunt, and she introduced me to your blog shortly after Nella was born. I’ve read it ever since and have gone back to the very beginning to read everything I could!

    I love your outlook on life, and your photos. You are an inspiration. Thank you!

  160. Kelle, THIS is your story and it is how you help so many of us who read your blog. I know this sounds SOOO trivial, but in many ways I could wallow in my heartbreak that I don’t get to stay home with my children but I focus on all that is good in my life. Thank you for lighting the torch for rising to the occasion that is our life, our family, our journeys.

  161. Joan of Arcs got nothing on you! She would be proud:) and thanks for reaffirming my one word resolution.. I am trying to face my fears.. Thank you for being the most fearless example I know.

  162. I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment on your blog, although I am a dedicated reader and delight in it…you truly are amazing and so is your family. I have just watched the ABC film clip and am just sobbing (albeit I am also taking steroids to get rid of a serious case of bronchitis, lol). I would be sobbing without them too…Nella is amazing, beautiful and absolutely perfect, just as Lainey is!! Thank you so much for sharing your lives with us readers in cyber land!

  163. I’m shocked you let this fire you up so much. I’m sad for that.
    Aren’t people strange?
    But as usual you turn lemons into lemonade. Or basically just squish out the pits this reader gave you and said BOO YA!
    Good on ya Kelle.
    Wonderful words and wonderful feelings.
    Your family has such a positive outlook on everything. It is catchy.
    Happy weekend to come!

  164. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! And YES, mama. Why would anyone want to do anything other than enjoy life just because it could get worse… it can also get better. It’s not easy, but it’s SO much more worth it. I’m about in tears right now and can only say, AMEN. haha.

    xoxo

    ~Tabitha Blue

  165. Your words moved me. I was JUST talking about this with a friend before reading your post. Why does it take some people YEARS to get over themselves and get on with life when something like this diagnosis enters their world? I don’t get it. I read something from another parent today that I just couldn’t relate to…the sorrow, the bitterness, the shame. I relate to YOU!! The joy, the perspective, the inspiration. THANK YOU!

    In other news, Levi pulled up on his own today!

    And now…I am off to do a cartwheel in the driveway on my way to get the mail!

  166. Down with the joy suckers!!!
    Loved seeing your video and article on ABC. Can’t wait until April for your book.

  167. Choosing happiness is the way to go : )

  168. AMEN, sista! Truly happy people emanate happiness…unhappy people emanate unhappiness and can’t understand how someone could CHOOSE to be happy, because they aren’t doing it themselves. Instead, they spend time raining on other people’s parades and believing that happy people are ignorant and unrealistic. Hmm…if being happy makes me those things, then I suppose I’m okay with that! You are an inspiration to me to choose happiness in the face of adversity and challenges thrown my way.
    That last picture of Nella is PRICELESS! :)

  169. This might just be my favorite post of yours- ever. You remind me of the choice we have every day to see the positive or the negative in any situation.

    I watched the video and cried. You’re so honest, and real. Never change. The world needs more people like you, Kelly Hampton.

  170. You are so awesome Kelle. I don’t know what else to say but that. You. Nella. Your family. Your writing. Your mindset. A-W-E-S-O-M-E. I never saw the comment but thank you so much for writing this post about how today is all that matters.

  171. And by the way… I’m completely in tears now, just watched the special. I think I’m in love with Nella too. She just tugs at heartstrings… and so do you mama. :)

    ~Tabitha Blue

  172. Thank you for sharing your life!! You are such an inspiration in my life and in reminding me how to enjoy the little things. (like my children and spending time with them)
    I love reading your blog and I love little Nella! She is such a beautiful little girl. God has big plans for her!

  173. I had to smile. Oh, how different our girls are – yet so similar. Lindsey turned 2 on the 18th…and guess who had a tea party theme? I even got super crafty and made her a homemade teapot shaped cake. Though that was the extent of my craftiness. I applaud your desire to seek joy. And admire your ability to quietly admit it isn’t always unicorns and rainbows. Keep on enjoying the small things, Kelle.

  174. Kelle the way you share your lives with us… you have captured all our hearts and none of us will ever let go. We are all better people because of you and your family. The kick ass courage it took to start sharing every raw emotion with all of us is pure uninhibited grace. Nella’s strength and pure determination inspires and heals us all. She is the perfect one. Her heart is truly pure. We are the ones who have a lot to learn. And I am grateful, threw you, Nella is teaching us all to be kinder, loving, non-judge mental, happier, determined individuals. And with her darling big sister by her side, I know the two of them are going to take on the world! And WIN!!
    Grace: how you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you get down the mountain, and so it is with life, which for many of us becomes one BIG gigantic test followed by one big gigantic lesson. In the end it all comes down to one word… Grace… It’s how you accept the winning and loosing, good luck and bad luck, the darkness and the light.

  175. We call them fun-haters. Seriously, don’t be a fun-hater.

  176. This is why I read your blog. You inspire me everyday and reinforce the belief that yes, sometimes it takes a bit more work but making everyday count IS worth it! I work full time and go to school but by God I refuse to let that keep me from making my days count. I catch flack for it often especially if I complain about being tired or stressed. I get the “well you bring it on yourself” look. I love life. I love celebrating. I love seeing my girls’ smiles when they wake up to green eggs and ham with a Cat In The Hat themed breakfast. Yes I stayed up way too late to do it but their reaction is sooooo worth it. It is these purposeful decisions to make them feel special that I will be most proud of when I look back on my moments as a mom. Your zest for life is contagious. Keep on passing it along!

  177. You’re a global inspiration, Kelle. Global. Someone is going to be jealous and nasty about that, unfortunately. But your inspirational joy touches so many lives, including mine. You remind us to enjoy life. What a gift!

    So happy to hear of your successes, and always wishing you many more, and most of all, continued joy.

    My kindest regards from Switzerland,
    Alison

  178. Kelle Hampton, I have to say you are a spiritual guru to me. Your focus on the joy of life is very inspirational. Thank you.

  179. Totally off topic, but my little man needs glasses & I remembered how cuuuuuuuute Nella looked in her little rectangular lenses. I looked back at the post and didn’t see where you found them online-is there any way you could share the website where you ordered the frames?

    Thanks so much! :)Melissa

  180. I too have a special needs child and can relate how much others try to bring me down/up to their own struggles. If we didn’t celebrate all the goodness of our children, special needs or typical developing, then we really wouldn’t be doing our jobs as parents. I have decided long ago to not let the opinions/ignorance of others dictate my attitude, but honestly, we are human. Sometimes it happens, and I feel very strongly that it is my job at that moment to forgive what others do not know, and that is JOY that all children bring. In the good times and the struggles. We must celebrate our children’s strengths if we are to raise them to be compassionate adults. We have a responsibility to see the good in all that they do. If not, then as they walk out the front door, they assume that they are defined by what they lack, and not celebrated by what they have to offer.

  181. and btw, it is Kelly M not Ken as it is stated on the signature line. :)

  182. Shame on that person for trying to piss on your unicorn! It’s too bad we have to listen to those that suck the happy out of life and try to do the same for others. We are better, we are wiser and we are enjoying life. Great post as always and what a stunning last photo of Nella admiring herself. Such a beauty!

  183. You said it girl! Do not let anyone suck your happiness away! It’s your s and you keep it! Can’t wait to see the ABC special!

  184. Amen! Hallelujah! and all that jazz… I absolutely LOVED your comments in response to the joy-suckers, your “grab life by the balls” (as you put it) outlook is what keeps me reading. I look forward to every new post you write and practically squeal with joy when I look at my blogger reading list and there you are with a new post. Thank you immensely for sharing your story and incredible photos with the likes of us.

  185. You go girl! And thank you for being willing to stand up for Nella. And my little Ben, too.

    -Amber
    amber-webb.blogspot.com

  186. “There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?”
    Loved that comment! My 7 yr old and I have been having conversations surrounding “it’s all about your perspective, if you want to be happy and see the good, you can” So really hit home and will help me give her another way to say it!
    I am a rose colored glasses girl all the way and sometimes my sweet little girl puts on the gray colored lenses, she needs to learn to change her glasses and we talk about how she can choose to see the joy!
    Thanks for spreading the joy Kelle! Have a great day!

  187. It really kills me the comments people leave here, about the ABC piece and horrible comments I see on FB. I just don’t get it, but I do love your take on it. Life suckers, suck it.

    I swear every time you post I’m like oh that is sooo my favorite picture of Nella, but that last picture today is amazing. It’s in my top two.

  188. You are such an amazing human being, Kelle. Thank you for being such an inspiration to myself and to so many other people.

  189. Your viewpoint and spirit is amazing. You are raising a beautiful family. There is ALWAYS something scary out there, for all of us. Why dwell on it? Screw that Negative Nancy! Continue to enjoy every moment!!

  190. Kelle, you always articulate so well what I hold in my heart! Thank you. PS, the last photo of Nella is so beautiful, like even she understands that she is beautiful and is living a life of purpose!

  191. I have written to you about my son, Ben, who had a heart so big he was only able to be with us for two years. We were so proud to give to Nellas birthday fund last year and this year in his honor and memory. Here’s the thing: every piece of news we got about him (the DS diagnosis, the heart news, the other heart news, the OTHER heart news…) all of it, those days were the worst days. The challenges? Like waiting until he was 18 months old for him to sit up by himself? Yeah, not so bad….because meeting those challenges…kicking them down the road? MAGIC, baby. I pray for challenges because I get to accomplish them!!! THAT’S big!!! Do I miss Ben every day? Hell yes!!! But my gratitude and love and awe at what I was able to share with him is SO much bigger than that. So I say preach on, sista!!!! XO

  192. I have been asked recently who or what is my inspiration…My response was Nella-
    Now, I am sure the person asking me assumed Nella was a friend or family member whom I aspire to be- and in a way, I feel like she is:) She is the more free-spirited little ray of sunshine I have ever seen:) I love your posts, I love your strength and I love your passion-
    You are a Super Mama with Super Babies and Husband:)

    Kate

  193. I can completely understand why a comment like that would stick in your craw. People just feel the need to be so negative sometimes and they defend it by claiming that they are just being realistic. But what it boils down to is negative, mean hearted people trying to bring down the positive and inspiring people (like yourself). It is so sad.
    On a much happier note, as usual your pics are amazing. And the last one of Nella, I can’t get over it. It speaks more than volumes about that beautiful little girl.

  194. What an awesome, inspiring post. I was introduced to your blog this summer when we found out in our 28th week of pregnancy that our sweet boy would be born with Down syndrome. I absolutely love your attitude and there are so many times that I read your words and think “YES, that is exactly what I feel like”. Today was no different. I am loving my little guy and just soaking up every sweet moment. He is our third and final child so I am savoring every precious moment of his babyhood. Of course I know that his future will be hard just like I know my daughters are going to grow up and be teenagers that yell at me and make me crazy but I’d rather just enjoy the fact that for now, they think their mom and dad are the coolest people they know. Thanks for your awesome attitude and beautiful pictures. Can’t wait to watch that news clip.

  195. Nella so sweet @ the beach walking-I love that photo. and the last one of her in the mirror-amazing!

    Powerful post-very inspiring.

  196. Kelle~ Yesterday, I watched that beautiful interview and cried…it was truly beautiful. Nella is happy, healthy, safe and loved. Are those not the most important things in life? When I see photos of Nella and Lainey I only see joy.

  197. This is why I follow your blog on the reg…you take something negative and turn it into such a positive. I love your views and you inspire me to be a better person! Don’t let one narcissistic person suck your joy :) xoxo Anne

  198. You’re amazing! Your post brought tears to my eyes. Keep on keepin’ on Joan of Arc.

  199. Joy suckers suck! They just do. I let them get me down everytime and then remember – THEY must be so sad and miserable that it takes everything they have to find an ounce of joy. Now THAT’S sad! I think you rock and I thought the piece you did for ABC News was terrific. Loved it.

  200. that’s just it, Kelle—you “get it” and joy suckers don’t. that’s why we keep coming back to your blog–because you are such an example to others about choosing joy over despair…and seeing the blessings in the struggles.

  201. I just watched your piece on ABC. So beautiful. I cried through the whole thing – tears of JOY for your beautiful family. You’ve got your focus in the right direction and you are a joy-spreader. Thank you.

  202. I think this just might be my favorite post of yours. And just what I needed to hear right now. Thanks.

    And that picture of Nella at the end is just the best.

  203. That comment fired me up too! God chose you, Amazing Kelle Hampton, for this journey because he knew you would fight like Joan of Arc to make this a beautiful loving world for your sweet Nella. All of us have our daily struggles and can choose to be Joan of Arc or crawl under the blankets and die a little to ourselves. Although the latter is okay sometimes, LIVING life is taking it blow by blow AND joy by joy. Thank you for beautifully doing both!

  204. Watching your interview truly brought tears to my eyes. I AM that sister who grew up not “seeing Down Syndrome” — I saw my older brother as my best friend, and he still is. Yes, it was difficult being in school with him and having to defend him against ignorant people who made fun of him. But it has been such a blessing to witness such an honest, forgiving person who would give a huge smile the next day to the same person who made him cry the day before. Keep up the great work, Kelle! You have no idea how much your love and support means to Nella.

    shi-day.blogspot.com

  205. Kelle,

    Wonderful post, and a beautiful interview. I never tire of listening to how you express yourself the day Nella was born. You say all the things that I kept inside the day my daugther was born and the months that followed. I was afraid that if I showed my grief to anyone other than my husband and my mom, that others would think that I didn’t love my daugther. So unfortantely, I suffered alone those first 6 months. Your blog was incredibly healing for me as I walked the path of acceptance. You are so strong and I admire you very much. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your family with us!

  206. I absolutely LOVED that video. I have tears in my eyes. And I hate “joy suckers” too. Its funny that you posted about people’s comments because just this past weekend I googled your name. I was shocked at all the articles that were bashing you and your family. They were saying such negative things. I am so glad that you stand up and live your life how YOU choose to and not based on someone else’s opinions. You keep going strong girl!! Nella is going to do AMAZING things. I just know it. Thank you for sharing your life with so many.

    – jen
    walls.jennifer1 at gmail (d0t) com

  207. I swear, every time I read your blog and am scrolling through the pictures of the girls, I say to myself “oh…that is my FAVORITE picture of her/them”….EVERY SINGLE TIME! It just gets better and better!

  208. I’m dying over the last picture of Nella! Just lovely!

  209. Kelle you are so right that you can’t NOT be happy now just because life is going to get harder “one day”. I too have a child whose life is going to get harder than it is for him at just 2, and sometimes I get caught up in the heaviness of the future. Thank you for reminding me that happiness NOW is what matters.

  210. Kelle, I don’t comment often, but really wanted to encourage you today. Your joy, spirit and zest for life are contagious. Sharing your story so open an honestly takes courage – thank you. As a parent that is also walking this journey I know that there will be hard times, but for now, for today I’m right there with you soaking up all of the goodness. My love for my children will never change no matter how much I am challenged by them, or how big our struggles are. My love for my children doesn’t depend on what they can or cannot do. I simply love my children and thank my lucky stars everyday for them.

    As always thank you for sharing the beauty of this life through your words, your photos and your family.

  211. Amen sista’!
    That last photo melts me. <3

  212. Well said! Love the blog and love the pictures! :)

  213. Kelle- You are amazing! Your pictures are always so beautiful..but even more so in this post (I feel like I am there).

    Happy Thursday!

  214. Famous people are often remembered by some of the quotes they said during their lifetime. Your thoughts on being happy or not, and where’s your focus is a BRILLIANT quote. What a wise view on things. Keep on doing that you do…cartwheels in the driveway and all. Screw the haters. Choose happiness.

  215. Wow – I quoted you on my facebook status today because there are just not enough like you. I often am made to feel bad, or naive, or silly, for seeking the joy.

    Thank you – you are an inspiration to young women. :-)

    http://thefuturemrsdenker.blogspot.com/

  216. What a wonderful world.

  217. God bless you Kelle!! God bless your little ones!! You inspire me so much!! I needed this post in more ways than I can share!! Thank you!!

  218. what beautiful pictures,what gorgeous family!How much love and happyness in these captures,you’re so lovely!!!
    Hugs!

  219. That was a great clip, and I agree with you, joy-suckers are not welcome in my house!

    I love that last photo of Nella. She is beautiful! :)

  220. You’re amazing! I hate how in thousands of positive and uplifting comments one negative one can bring one down. But don’t you let them suck your joy! You’re an amazing momma who is such an example for ALL of us. That last picture of Nella is absolutely breathtaking!

  221. Amen Sister!!! Don’t suck my joy either!!!! Everyone deals with their hardships whatever it might be and you can embrace them and make the best of them or you can wallow in self pity and be the negative person no one wants to be around! Not me sister!!! Bring it on!!! Because what doesn’t break me will only make me stronger!! Very well said and I’m as fired up as you over those negative attitudes!!

    Oh and I’m DYING, D-Y-I-N-G, over that last picture of Nella looking in the mirror!!!!!!!!!!!

  222. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and I love it but I truly identified with this entry the most. I feel like it woke me up from a long sleep. It reinforced to me that no matter what, we always have the choice to be happy. We can choose to live with a positive attitude. Thank you for that reminder. It has helped to rekindle my belief in moving forward with hope despite life’s challenges. Thank you for this and for all the joy you share on this blog. God Bless! – Cimone

  223. Kelly Hampton you rock my socks! It steams me that someone is trying to steal your joy. Of course you know what lies ahead and you will face it head on like the trooper you are!

  224. Totally agree with you…what the heck is the point of telling someone, “Oh, it’ll get worse down the road, so don’t be so happy.”

    I mean, really? What in the world is that supposed to accomplish?

    God forbid someone, you know, be happy.

    /sarcasm

  225. So sick of people not living for today!!! My dad (no longer with us) and Bennett have taught me that. You can choose to sit there and worry about what may happen, fret over the statistics, cry over what things may be like or you just freakin’ live. Live right now…for today. I choose to freakin’ live.

    I loved the interview you did and I knew from the get go you’d be an awesome voice for our kids. Keep being joyful!!

  226. Beautiful post. And the last photo, simply breathtaking.
    (And Poppa Rik’s comment, I loved, I see where you get your amazing ability to write and communicate from)

  227. that last picture has to be the cutest one of nella i’ve ever seen!

  228. Choose happy :)

    And, you SHOULD do an African Drum Class… I took a West African Dance course in college and the drums were the only instrument… those drummers were amazing.

  229. And this post is exactly why I read your blog: because you are a crap sucker. No matter how crappy my day I’m somehow always smiling after reading your story. So thank you!

  230. You go girl. Joysuckers beware 😉 Their loss.

    Love that last photo of Nella – how gorgeous. Happy celebrating the big Two! xx

  231. Kelle I loved your story. I love how your honest, and I believe you show both angles well. The pain and joy. I feel sorry for the people who don’t know these designer gene babes bring more joy then pain and they just can’t see it. It’s like they just can’t wrap their minds around it and that’s too bad! I just love Nella, she’s adorable. She brings me joy, and I’ve never even met her.

  232. Beautiful!!!—both your writing and the ABC piece.

  233. That video was wonderful to hear you talk about Nella and some of the things you experience with her. It made me smile.
    A co-worker and I talk about her and the things I have shared from your blog with her. It’s wonderful.

  234. Kelle,

    loved the video, your raw emotion and love shines through…made me cry! :)

    I like to call people who are negative “energy suckers”…they suck the marrow out of you and really will never ‘get it.’

    There is ALWAYS hardship in any life…even with a ‘normal’ child, challenges,just sometimes on a different scale.

    However, hardships or grief creates gratitude and growth and appreciation of the beauty in this world.

    It opens our eyes to things we never noticed before – I call it “The Gift of Grief” or the gift of challenges as to be your case.

    Both your babes are walking, talking reminders not to sweat the small stuff and not to take notice of the energy suckers…

    How boring life would be if everything was perfect and there were no speed bumps once in a while…and thats all they are, a bump in this long twisting turning road we call life…

    Here’s to slaying dragons and sliding down rainbows Kelle! :)

    with love
    Diana x

    ps; love it when you get on your soap box! x

  235. The thing that ticks me off the most about that comment is that who are they to think that their future looks so much brighter than yours just because theirs DOESN’T include Down syndrome? Really, there’s no such thing as a guarantee with ANY child’s future, so why do they have the nerve to predict that theirs will be somehow better than yours? I think Nella’s future is truly what you make it. And the advances in therapy and such to help our kids are truly amazing, so who made this commenter “god” to proclaim hardship on your daughter’s future when the sky is truly the limit on what her life can be like? I love your perspective and your sermon. I completely agree. And that’s what we’re all trying to do- rid the world of ugly stereotypes like the one strongly present in that comment.

  236. ‘There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?’

    Wonderful and true. And I needed to hear it today!

  237. You did amazing on the special and on this post. As far as the comment…..your title is enjoy the small things……some people don’t get it. We have had some nrea comments as well about our son. They make me so mad at the time. When I see these beautiful smiling pictures of Nella, I see a little girl with a big future that is SO loved. And with a big sister that has such a big heart for her little sister. Your family is truly special.

  238. Like many people the last picture of Nella made me smile!! She is just so adorable and I’m so happy you all have each other. Thank you. Our daughter has special needs, and her issues are very up right now. My husband and I have always been very positive and grateful that we have her, as well as our two sons. We laugh a lot. But the last few months have been especially hard. It was great to take a breath and read you post, see your wonderful pictures and watch the great piece on ABC. I too prefer to live in joy and find my kids the perfect antidote to any fears of the future I may have, or any stupid comments others may make. I really needed this post today. Enjoy your lovely family!!

  239. I LOVE that last picture of Nella. Ah. And the one of you two laughing :) Joy-suckers are the worst. I love this post! You are great, Kelle.

  240. I just watched the thing on ABC. Loved it. I remember having very similar feelings when my son was born almost 6 years ago. Anyways, I enjoy reading your blog. I love how positive you are even when there are hardships. It is a great reminder that we can be happy despite what is going on. it’s our choice. Thanks
    Krista

  241. That first comment stung hard, it hurt, who does that person think they are to rain on your parade. We would be alot better off if there were more people like you in this world! We all experience hardships in our lives, no matter what the chromosomes, some people just decide to handle them certain ways, You are so strong and continue to inspire us all everyday, so thank you for that! Have a great party this weekend! Love the photo Nella walking toward the water and the last shot of her is beyond words… such innocence, such a sweet little soul she is!

  242. I love your enthusiasm and “go at life attitude” that shines through in your writing and photos. This post is awesome -just what I needed to read.

  243. Kelle,
    You did such a wonderful job in the interview for ABC as did Cara.
    You so beautifully described the journey that you and your family have been on.What shines through so much is the absolute love that you all have for Nella and Lainey.
    I love the joy that you appreciate in life and this is passed on to your readers. It reminds us to aim to “suck the marrow out of life”. As you said in any situation it is possible to choose to be happy or unhappy. I love the way you’ll make the effort to go to the beach to enjoy a sunset when it might seem easier to stay home. Thank you for challenging us to make the most of our lives “our one wild and precious life”.
    xxxooo

  244. Kelle,

    You go girl! :) You already know this, but you really have to shake the haters off. :)

    In the past month since Noah’s birth story and website started appearing on various news programs we’ve gotten thousands of positive messages, and about 4-5 haters. Isn’t it funny how you can forget all about the positive messages in the shadow of a few haters. Sad, huh?

    We are learning to develop thick skin, which can be hard when someone sends you a message saying, “you’re just trying to get rich off of your kid.” hahhah/ really? Who says stuff like that to someone? And whose getting rich???

    But anyways, we just try our best to shake it off. What we are trying to do is show the world a story that 90% of people who have a choice, decide not to open up. We hope to open the story up for them to see that stories like ours are bad, or sad…they are just different.

    Just like every other parenting journey. Different. Unique. No two are the same. Down syndrome, red hair, or freckles. They are all different.

    But they are also worth. So, so worth it.

    Anyways, I hope you quickly forget about the haters that are out there. Or maybe you remember them in your prayers, because honesty it’s sad to think that lives like these aren’t worth it.

    Thanks for telling your story Kelle. As I said in a recent post, a picture is worth a 1000 words, and with every image that you take, and share, you are telling the world that these kids are worth!

    Your fans, and friends
    Rick, Abbie, and baby Noah :)

  245. What an incredible interview that brought tears to my eyes. How blessed Nella is that she chose you for her Mommy. How blessed you are too. You are an inspiration.

  246. Well, I came to leave another message because I just watched the interview. It was wonderful – you were brave, and honest, and an example to us all, no matter whether we walk a “special” path or a path made special simply because we are on it. So there.

    And I’ll go all Lima Heights on anyone who says otherwise. Even if I’m not sure what that means. 😉

  247. hallelujah- amen! Keep choosing happiness. There are some people that will never get it, and I feel like I am banging my head against a wall even trying to explain to them what they are missing. I still don’t get what is so bad in have a harder road in life. I love me a challenge. And you always grow from it :) Loved your analogies and your video

  248. Girl. Remember a post from a long time ago…. You were trudging along with a baby, and a sleeping toddler, and you kept repeating: “I’m a Rockstar.” You inspire so much, so many, so much love…just from your posts. We all love you & your family. Eff those rude folks. So many of us are behind you, and Nella. ((HUGS)) Chin up, “I’m a Rockstar.”

  249. what a gorgeous, moving, amazing piece (the one on ABC). and i LOVE that last photo of Nella!

  250. You. are. amazing! What an inspiration you are to everyone- challenges are a part of life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find joy and celebrate it. I am going to print this off and put on my refrigerator, and I hope to live as fully and beautifully as you do. Thank you so much.

  251. You were so fierce in this post, Kelle, and I love it, love it, love it.

    I appreciate your perspective, and I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person as well; that is, before I lost my daughter, who also had Down syndrome. I almost died, and though I would have given my life for her, my precious baby did die. On that day, I feel like my joie de vivre was surgically removed along with my baby. It’s so, so hard to be happy these days. But I still have hope. That’s why I do the hard thing of getting up and living life every day and pushing myself to do more and more. That’s why my husband and I are going to try again for a child–a wish we have held dear for many, many years–even though I’ve been told that it’s possible preeclampsia could strike again and I could lose another baby. We are bravely going forth anyway. It takes courage to push on in the face of adversity–I say, “bring it.” And you demonstrate that courage every day.

    As far as people being “negative”: We all are at some point in our lives, I suppose. Hopefully, we face it and move through it and create joy again. There are many people who have experienced multiple tragedies and challenges. If they haven’t moved through that dark place yet, if they are still in that lonely, echoing well of despair, please extend compassion rather than pity. We never know fully what someone else is experiencing. It’s easy to judge, but we just don’t know.

    I’m still trying to find my footing again after being knocked down by tragedy. It’s hard. I’m trying, really trying, to figure out how to live in this new reality. I miss my Molly girl every minute of the day, and the love and longing I have for her is overwhelming. There will never be a “silver lining” to losing my child, but I search for ways to honor and celebrate her short life. One of the positive ways I’d like to honor her memory is by getting involved in the Buddy Walk this year. I’d like to support the Ds community, and it is also a way I can proclaim, “She was here, and she mattered.”

    In the meantime, as I move through my dark times, your blog wraps me in a warm blanket. I know I can always come here for inspiration and beauty. Thank you.

  252. that last picture of nella is just so beautiful! very inspiring post.

  253. Love the last picture of NElla and everything you said about life is just PERFECTION!!!!

  254. Great post. You can only be who you are and Nella can only do the same. Nobody can get you down unless you let them. Having a great birthday party weekend with Nella. The last picture of her is to die for!!

  255. Hi again. i love the dream necklace from your last post. I can’t find it our the website. Has anyone else??

  256. You go girl! Never stop grabbing life by the horns. In doing so, and sharing it with all of us, you are accomplishing much more than the simple things you set out to do. What an inspiration you are Kelle, truly. Thank you.

  257. Dear Kelle, this is my first comment for you…I admire you…you are so wise,smart,funny,and beautiful!!!I thank God for you and your wonderful talents!
    Rock on baby….smiles,from Seattle
    Sabine

  258. I saw the piece last night and read the comments (not something I usually do) knowing that there would be some “joysucker”. I was curious to see if you’d address it- you hit it out of the park. She wouldn’t know a unicorn if it bit her on the behind. As always- beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing.

  259. Just watched the video. It had me in tears. You did a great job. Nella IS a beautiful, perfect, smart baby. She makes me smile all the time and I only “know” her from your blog.

  260. Oh, that last picture…says so much. Keep making the most out of everyday- you do it beautifully.

  261. First things first…the pictures are awesome as always but WHOA – that last one of Nella – Ah-maz-ing!

    I watched the video, thank you so much for providing the link…and it was so touching and honest. I can’t even imagine how much of a difference you are making in the lives of others by sharing your story.

    And finally, in all honesty, you know…I actually forget that Nella has Down’s Syndrome! When I read about her and see her pictures, I see a vibrant little girl that adores her sister and is so full of life! That, right there, is what your story is about and I thank you wholeheartedly for sharing with the rest of us.

  262. You say it sister. There is no one else quite like you. You are amazing and powerful and inspiring.

  263. Thank you- I have been reading this blog for a while now, but recently my 15 month old son was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder…we knew something wasn’t right, but now we know it will be a lifelong battle. I’ve been in a fog about it all, and reading this tonight is just what I needed. I choose joy, love, and enjoying all things wonderful about my precious baby boy! So thank you!

  264. Kelle, marshaMarsha isnt new, and she isnt who she proclaims herself to be. Im about 99% sure she is someone who has done this for YEARS. she hates to see families who have kids with Ds happy…for a reason. It makes her grief and guilt too much to bear, so she has to bash you. Please dont even for a minute think what she said specifically to you and about you was real..it wasnt. shes a hater, and she cannot find joy in her life. I replied to her last night, but my reply was deleted very quickly. I tried to say “this is who she is and why” but she must have complained. You are allowed to love your child, you are allowed to find the joy. I still do, too. And my kid is 13. And by the way, Miss MarshaMarsha was doing the SAME THING to me 10 years ago. 😉 water off a ducks back, ok? I kinda like the mama bear. let her roar. 😉

  265. Kelle – that was a beautiful interview. You’ve always been incredibly honest about your feelings and this interview was no different. I do have to say though, when I first heard your voice, it wasn’t what I expected for some reason, haha :)

  266. I was quite impressed with your appearance on ABC. Very well spoken. I love the blog and miss it when there are no new entries. Your family rocks and I love the little faces

  267. Thank you for your perspective. “Chasing life” is no easy task and you are an admirable woman to be doing it the way you do. I only hope to develop even the slightest bit of strength and joy that you have. Your children are so blessed to have a mama like you and we are ever grateful to you (and Nella!) for showing us how to step out with strength and determination!!

  268. For one single negative comment you have hundreds of us who support you so very much!
    We read every single one of your posts and know that you have a wonderful little treasure that you are willing to share with us: Nella.

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU
    for your strength, for your stories, for making us part of your day in little ways, for leaving us a space in your picnic blanket.

    Sometimes, we might trip over little rocks in our path, but no one trips over mountains! You are a rock-solid momma mountain!

  269. You and your family are beautiful witnesses for the Culture of Life in our world. Your prolife light shines for all to see! God bless you.

  270. Bravo, Kelle! You are an inspiration to so many of us out here!

  271. I rarely comment, but that last picture of Nella is my absolute favorite picture you’ve ever taken. She is beautiful.

  272. Giddy
    Stunned
    Speachless
    Breathless
    ….in that order.

    Because today I did Nora’s hair like Nella’s little buns for the 1st time! My little Swiss Miss :)

    Because I must be naive. There are really people like that? Still stunned.

    Because when I don’t have the words, you do. I am so proud of your reaction and I’m following suit :)

    Because that last picture literally took my breath away.

    ***Oh, and I’ve been known to do cartwheels in the grocery isles….with my kids watching.

  273. What a great piece you did on ABC…loved it!!

  274. Well said! I love that your blog gave me a kick in the behind that I so badly needed at this moment. I needed to get over myself and get out of the gray mood that I was in. So thanks! Great great photos as always. Me favourite was the last sunset one! Stunning xxx

  275. Well said! I loved you blog. It gave me the much needed kick in the pants that I dearly needed to get me out of this gray mood that I am in this moment. Thanks. Great photos as always, my favourite is the last sunset one. Stunning xxx

  276. I loved this post. I love your honesty. I love your optimism. As a mom raising a son with special needs, I can attest to the fact that it gets better and better every single day. He loves with all of his heart and soul, and it makes everyone around him love the same way. Unicorns and rainbows? Yep, we see them almost every day around here. And, I love reading about someone else who experiences that same kind of joy. Keep spreading that joy, that enthusiasm, that zest for life. Everyone needs more of that and less negativity. We all need more reasons to laugh, love, and smile each day.

  277. I’m sorry someone fired you up, but damn you’re good when you’re mad. Your writing is always passionate, but that was invigorating. Thanks for baring your soul and telling it like it is. Chase it, sister. It’s yours for the taking.

  278. AMAZING post.

  279. Your words are amazing!! Beautiful post and inspiring!! Absolutely love the last picture of Nella. Yes, Nella, you are that beautiful. You shine girl!!

    Amy

  280. I choose happiness.
    And I am so glad that you do too.
    Thanks for all your positivity and love.

  281. Sing it, sista! I love this post. I always love your writing, even moreso when you’re fired up about something. I’m glad you are out there preaching this message!

  282. Great post Kelle. Misery loves company, don’t pay attention to the haters. I LOVE YOUR BLOG and your outlook on life. You always brighten my day.

  283. Beautiful coverage by ABC. What a wonderful interview.

    Just beautiful Kelle!

  284. I just don’t get negative people! I guess because I’m usually one of those sickening positive people lol :) My very good friend sells 31 and I feel like a walking advertisement for her, great products! Addy’s dance bag matches Lainey and Nella’s cinch bags :) Great stuff, beautifully written post, as usual :) As a child once said, “She’s being a fun sucking wiener, she sucks the fun out of everything.” Way to not let someone get you down!

  285. My first time here. You put Ellen Seidman to shame. shhh – don’t tell her!

  286. No one can suck your joy away. You’re too full of joy!

    That picture of Nella in the mirror melts my heart.

  287. No one can suck your joy away. You’re too full of joy!

    That picture of Nella in the mirror melts my heart.

  288. F*!k that commenter! Your optimism and life-ball grabbing are truly inspiring. Keep it up. Your girls are so lucky to have such an amazing and devoted mother.

  289. “aisle”….I know it’s not a big deal, but I hate when I use the wrong form of the word or spell it wrong…haha…I’m a dork.

  290. while watching one of my favorite movie today, Kite Runner, one of the actors said a perfect quote and your blog came to mind – especially after that unbelievable comment made by a mother who should really tape this quote to her refrig – Your children are not coloring books – they cannot always be the colors that you want. Do not let anyone ever suck the colors from you!

  291. You go, girl. Down with naysayers, up with…well…you! And everyone like you.

    http://www.existation.com

  292. Some people just suck! Continue to grab life by the balls Kelle!!

  293. AMAZING!! xo

  294. Best.Post. EVER!!!!!!!!

  295. Love you, Kelle, Ms. “Joan of Freaking Arc”. Thank you for your positivity and inspiration. Maybe your inner badass’s middle name is Joan. Yep, Millie Joan. Has a nice ring to it. :)

  296. Much as I admire Kelle’s optimism, as a parent of a child with DS, I think it’s actually an absolute necessity. We have to live in the now, because we don’t know what the future holds. This is actually true for any parent/child.

    People like Marsha (as people have mentioned, her comment was deleted) aren’t necessarily overly negative, just not informed about what the emotional reality of being a parent to a child with DS is.

    If I drew you a map of your child’s future showing that he/she won’t become president or cure cancer or be a rockstar, and they will break their leg skateboarding and not have a date to the prom, (maybe I’ll give it a name like BS Syndrome) you would be depressed beyond belief. We don’t know exactly what challenges Nella, my son or any child will face.

    Having children is the ultimate lesson in how you don’t control your universe; you don’t control exactly when you’ll get pregnant or give birth (c-sections excepted), if you’ll have a boy or girl… and I’m sure the uncertainty only increases as they get older.

    But we can support them through any adversity and celebrate every little victory. It’s actually the only way to go.

  297. I’m sorry that commenter felt the need to say something negative. I love the Sugarland song, “Stand Back Up” which says, in part, “when the darkness tries to get me, there’s a light that just won’t let me…” (You have to hear the whole thing.) It’s not that you don’t know where the dark places are, or that you don’t visit them from time to time. You just don’t choose to stay there. You are all about the light. Shine on, girl. You are changing people’s perceptions and making a difference in the world.

  298. Great post and great interview on ABC! You never cease to inspire me

  299. amazing, inspiring, beautiful post. thank you.

  300. beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

  301. kelle, your writing moves me in ways you’ll never know-thank you for being so positive, so real, so freaking AMAZING in the way you grab life by the horns and share it with us. your baby girl is about the sweetest little thang God ever put on this earth. she has captured my (and i’m sure so many other) hearts…she could not be more perfect-in. every. single. way. amen!

  302. what a wonderful piece of love in that peace. nella will look back at that and how special it will be. :-)

  303. So sad that people take the time to leave negative comments- way to go- you addressed it perfectly! I love your positive attitude- It’s like a breath of fresh air reading your blog! Can’t wait to see the party you planned for Nella!

  304. love it Love it LOVE IT! You go girl! is all I could think as I read your response to the ‘joy sucking’ comment. Life and attitudes to it are so much about choices. It’s not denying reality to choose a positive approach. I often think of that classic Anne of Green Gables line: “I will not be poisoned by your bitterness”. Thanks for inspiring me Kelle, love reading about you and your family.

  305. You are one of my favorite people. I can’t tell you how much you inspire me. I don’t think I got a chance to say Happy Birthday to Nella…so Happy Birthday Nella!

  306. Keep on doing those cartwheels Kelle! You are such an inspiration to so many people and I am thankful for you! Yes, the road can be challenging but the views are magical!!

  307. I fucking love you!

    Pardon my swearing, but emphasis via a blog comment is hard to express!

    Great post. You are awesome. I am awed every time I visit this place.

  308. Oh my gosh that last picture is something. I LOVE it. What a sweet, sweet girl. :)

  309. Kelle I’m so glad that you get angry and not sad. When I read those comments about you on other sites it just upsets me so, I find it horrid that people can criticise you for being so positive, for wanting the best for Nella, for all of your children.
    All I can think is that the people that write the horrid comments must be so threatened by joy, by hope, by love. God knows what’s happened to them to make them that way, or whether they’re just like that, but I’m so glad that your attitude is to tell them to PO!
    They chose to watch the clip, or read your blog, no one is forcing them!

    Don’t ever change, Kelle your joy is infectious, it’s just too bad for the joy-suckers that they’ve taken a vaccination against happiness!

  310. Dear Kelle,
    What an honor to be able to watch you. I just think you are a gift to the world.

    Thank you,
    Kate

  311. That last picture of Nella made my heart melt! I too hate joy suckers…life is about taking the “bad” and turning it into something beautiful.

  312. AMEN AND AMEN!!!! I am gonna re read this one again and again. Get fired up! Loved seeing this passion without hurting anyone combo. Very timely and encouraging. Keep chasing those rainbows while riding on your unicorn and eating cotton candy!!!!! We’re with you! And my unicorn is aqua, with pink and red hair. Boooo-yah!!!

  313. Just watched your segment. One word: Beautiful!

    Thanx for sharing your heart with the world!

  314. Just watched your segment. One word: Beautiful!

    Thanx for sharing your heart with the world!

  315. This week has been tough for me,I have been selfish, absorbed in the irrelevant and generally crabby. I needed a reality check, I am a total happy lucky girl that needs to stop being my own joy killer. thanks..you turned me around literally :)

  316. You give me strength on those days when those evil joy suckers reach their way into my mind and start to strangle my future hopes for my daughter. Knowing you, and your blog, and your readers are out there brings me this feeling of hope and support. thank you thank you.
    and I gotta comment of that last photo of Nella. such an angel.

  317. DAMN STRAIGHT!!! Nothing worse than joy suckers…they are jealous I tell you, jealous. I told you that a lonnnnnng time ago. You could say half-full or half-empty a thousand times…and they don’t get it. Just a much as I LOVE your line: “There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?” I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to everyone just bein’ happy; find the positive in whatever you can. – This is why I say they “don’t” get it instead of they “will never” get it. For the most part, I believe anything is possible. Because, otherwise, my life would just be… stale. I had many say I was too old to have one more child. Because of you (no matter how many hardships DS might bring, key word, might, if my baby would’ve been diagnosed with DS), I trudged forward in fear, but confident, that everything would be okay, regardless if I had a DS child or not. Maybe they felt they were “warning” me, but you know what…in my experience, unexpected blessings are the best! And, GUESS WHAT, the nay sayers were WRONG. As a result, I really feel negativity will always bite someone in the a**! -AND, you won’t always see it. You’ll see glimpses, but only to reaffirm why staying positive is SUCH THE WAY TO GO. Do NOT let negativity seep into your brilliant life Kelle.
    I am sorry if I rambled, but do NOT attack the ones we love! If you do, there is a little known secret: you will look like the silly one in the end, amen.
    God Bless you girl!!!!!!!!!!
    ((HUGS))

  318. The world’s embrace must still stretch widely and wisely enough to include the Marsha Marshas. Their lens on life may be so tied to things they have done or decisions they have made that for them to dare to look at life differently would call them to go back and grieve, regret or reject what they have done or been. It will only be light that calls them out of the darkness and love that whispers “see things anew”. To be angry at them only gives them power. To feel pity for them only makes them angry. To walk in joy before them is the best…there is a contagion with joy! Nella has taught me of joy.
    –Poppa

  319. Your blog adds so much to my life Kelle. And your daughters are living, breathing works of art. Such loveliness.

  320. Oh that last pic of Nella…! You are such a beautiful advocate of life, of living each day fully. Love that!

  321. I have been reading your blog for a while now after I read your story in Parents magazine last year. I became a regular reader because I was drawn to your positive outlook and gorgeous photography.I also have a son who is the same age as Lainey. After reading this post, I clicked on the link to your ABC.com story to check it out. I ended up in tears….I am so inspired by your courage to openly and honestly share your feelings.It is refreshing and serves as a good reminder that we are all human….so many people would be afraid to share their feelings the way you have regarding Nella’s birth.What a lucky little girl, she could not have asked for a better family :)

  322. This is my favorite post that you’ve ever written. I’ve bookmarked it and will re-read it when I am reaching for the difficult things I’ve set my sites on this year. Thank you for being you and for writing so beautifully and honestly. Love to you all. xo.

  323. There are no words to explain how amazing you are, Kelle. With your inspiring posts, your beautiful news piece, and your upcoming book. You rock, girl!

  324. Kelle, you are amazing. I have a major girl crush on you. I discovered your blog about three weeks ago and although I do not have a child with downs, we have several parallels and I feel like you speak to my soul. Thank you for sharing your raw feeling and your life. You are an inspiration and I adore you. Your family is beautiful and I look forward to your blog everyday. Keep enjoying your life and choosing happiness – it really is a choice.

  325. I don’t usually comment, but I just had to say Hear!Hear! to this post. You tell ’em, Kelle. If people don’t like your optimism then that’s their loss. I for one find it pleasantly contagious.

    Denise

  326. Oh My Goodness! That last pic i SUPER cute 😀

  327. “Don’t suck my joy.” Easily one of my favorite things you’ve typed. Someone fire up the t-shirt press…it’s golden!

  328. Your honesty is so beautiful and refreshing, Kelle. I loved the ABC piece, and I love that you have not rewritten the history of Nella’s birth.

  329. How can anyone look into the love and joy on Nella’s face and think negatively? I see her happiness that wells up from a beautiful soul and I smile. You choose exuberant life because it was blessed to you in Nella.

  330. You have such a beautiful story and I loved watching the ABC piece on your family. Thank you for sharing you stories, pictures and experiences with us.

    ~Anna

  331. Kelle, I’ve read your blog (when I have time!) since shortly after the birth of my absolutely beautiful little boy Jamison in February of 2010. I was searching the web in the middle of the night, still trying to digest the words…”your little baby boy has Down Syndrome”…trying to find some good news about this news of ours. I found your blog and devoured every letter of your birth story, and cried with you.
    I have no reasons to cry anymore…we have been granted such a wonderful gift! He is the sunshine in our family. …and yes, I know there may be sadness, difficulty ahead. I’m ready!
    My eldest son (20 years old) said, upon hearing that Jamison had DS, “Awesome! I can’t wait to see him grow up!” I learned from that expression of love.
    Your Nella is an absolutely beautiful and perfect little girl. Her joy shines and reflects in the faces of her family.
    Thanks for sharing your life.
    Kelly

  332. This post is absolutely beautiful, the response to the continuously frustrating remarks, the absolutely beautiful picture of Nella and Lainey together and the interview have me with tears running down my face. This world has so much to learn from the way you are living, the love you are giving. Thank you for the daily reminders of all the grace in our lives. <3

  333. just wanted to say great job on the interview with ABC. i don’t know how you held yourself together as well as you did. you are such an amazing and strong woman who is such an inspiration to me. thanks for all that you do and happy birthday nella.

  334. Nella is beyond beautiful, Kelle. You are so lucky to have the little ray of light in your life that she brings, and I feel blessed that you share that with all of us. So many times I’ve had a bad day, read your blog, and you cant help but smile when you see photos of that little happy face.

    That ABC story made me bawl, but they were happy tears. I love the way Lainey loves and I think we all could learn something from that, nasty video commenter included!

  335. Ef the haters Kelle …. you & your family rock it out & take life by the horns – bugger anyone who doesn’t get that. 😉

  336. Dearest Kelle!
    I`ve wanted to leave u a message for some time now, so here it comes:) I found this wonderful tresure of a blog a year ago, and ive been here a lot…And i keep thinking; what a BEAUTIFUL heart of yours!!!! WOW! And you touch me deeply…its all about finding pieces of ourselves in other peoples eyes and souls…And in a strange way I feel related to you(I am a norwegian living up north in Norway:)”listening” to your thinking and analysing of life..I`ve boldly copied your words from one of your previous posts about “notising” yourself…I`ve put a note on my bathroom-mirror saying: “I noticed myself today, something that i have forgotten to do lately”..Remember you wrote those words? They touched my soul, and they put a smile on my face every day:)..How beautiful is`nt that? Beeing a blessing to Elisabeth in Norway that you don`t know?:) You choose life, every day- and you seem to live your own happiness…And thats wery encouraging to me:)

    Many thankyous and love fra Elisabeth; Trondheim, Norway

  337. Boo to the joy suckers! But a big cheers to you Kelle. You, your family, your story has changed this world for the better. You have made such a positive impact on the parenting world & for that I applaude you. Keep on Joan of Arcin’ coz your joy is contagious & I want to share it with you….not suck it from you! xx

  338. Amen sister!!!!!!

  339. I cried the entire 5 minute video. I always cry when Mummas talk about their babes.

  340. Last picture is so beautiful! Joy suckers will not be tolerated!

  341. Once again tears while watching video. Your honesty is commendable!
    You go girl! And to all the haters
    I send out my thoughts and prayers because they obviously need some!

  342. I just finished watching the video on ABC news. I know this sounds crazy because I don’t know you personally, but I LOVE YOU. Thank you for choosing Joy, Thank you for choosing life and wonder. It is a choice guys. Always will be. My Dad has Parkinson’s disease but right now he can still chop wood, fish, play with his grandkids and do most everything He likes to do. I know things will get worse. The shaking is getting worse everyday and His tremors do not respond to meds. He has a clotting diorder so brain surgery is not a good option. But right now, I am soaking him and his joy for life up every time I can. The best place to live is in today, it’s not denial it’s reality.

  343. I love that last photo of Nella and I always enjoy pics of Lainey and Nella together. They look like they just love each other soooooooo much. I love your personality! Your family is so lucky to have you in their lives. It’s just one of the reasons I love your blog. I admire you so much. Congrats on reaching your goal with 2 for 2. I knew you would.

  344. One of your best posts EVER! You go girl (that saying is probably very dated.) Choose your happiness and go for it. You are my hero and have helped me with focus for today! Thanks so much and have a great day with that sweet family

  345. One of your best posts EVER! You go girl (that saying is probably very dated.) Choose your happiness and go for it. You are my hero and have helped me with focus for today! Thanks so much and have a great day with that sweet family

  346. You have this way of saying the things that I believe in and aim for in my own life, but so much better than I could express them. Thank you.

  347. I absolutely adore you Kelle!!!

  348. It’s sad to think of those that don’t allow themselves to live a happy life, but there is not much you can do for them really. I find your blog Kelle, very inspirational and sometimes I “need” to read your blog to find other ways I can put my nurturing mother skills to even better use; to help me be an even better mother. I think the devotion and passion you show towards your children is admirable and makes me want to be that much better with my own children. Cheers to living a life full of joy, laughter, hugs, kisses, dreams come true. Oh, and that last picture of Nella, it speaks! Amazing :)

  349. It’s so beautiful to see Nella walking. She is strong & determined… she is Joan of Arc! Your ABC piece was beautiful, moving, tear jerking… you are giving the world such an amazing gift with your words about family, life and passion!

  350. Kelle, I absolutely love your attitude toward life. You are an inspiration to many! Don’t ever let those negative naysayers bring you down!

  351. You are amazing. You are honest and brave and you opened up your heart and your life to share with others your journey – your ability to be completely vulnerable in your honesty is a gift.
    And BTW, the last picture of Nella took my breath away – astoundingly gorgeous!

  352. Your video made me cry….you go Kelle, love you

  353. I think it is important to always strive for a positive outlook on life. You only live once… you might as well make it as enjoyable as possible!

    P.S. I absolutely love that last picture of Nella!

  354. “and that’s why we went to the beach’
    love it Kelle
    seize the day

  355. This is one of my favorite posts by you so far. I love that you focus on the good in life. I love that you choose joy over sorrow and fear. Live in the moment, Sister. Keep doing what you do best, which is raising a happy, healthy family and bringing sunshine into the lives of your family, friends and readers.

  356. Kudos!!! You rock… And so does your family! I totally agree that ill-spirited commenter… Aka ‘energy vampire’… Can suck it! The strong will only get stronger… And that’s how we make life the greatest it can be! My son Carson is pure joy… And we will continue to thrive on that inspite of any challenges. Love to you all… And I hope that commenter can find some inspiration someday in what you are donig and sharing! xoxoxo

  357. What a great post. You have a way with words that grabs my head out of the fog and wakes it up! So, so, encouraging lady! Hugs :)

  358. I was just thinking- I bet your parents are so proud of you. I’m proud of you, and I don’t know you! Everything you said is completely valid. The way that you’re living despite the challenges you’re in right now and the challenges to come is the right way to do it; you can’t just sit there and languish, anticipating the bad times. That’s not good for you OR your kids. And imagining if you were my kid (30 years from now, since mine are still babies!) and watching my kid taking on life like you are, I just wanted to say- I’d be very proud. Good job, Kelle.

    -Lela

  359. I loved what you said here: “It is in that fear–that breathtaking exhileration of “What If?”–that you rise to the occasion.” Perfect. So inspiring. Thank you!

  360. Oh be still my beating heart!! That last pic of Nella is AMAZING!

  361. Kelle, the ABC piece is beautiful. I started reading your blog right after Nella was born, and what drew me in so strongly was your honesty about your feelings — your grief, your anger, your guilt. I was drawn to the ABC piece for exactly the same reason. I’m so happy for you and your family. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  362. Well I watched the ABC video and lost it… its beautiful. What a blessing Nella has been – not only to your family but for everyone!
    And screw the joy suckers – I honestly think that those people are so unhappy with their own lives that they feel the need to spread their misery on others.

  363. Your family is adorable and precious beyond words. The interaction between your two little angels is heartmelting. I just discovered you recently through your ABCNews article (as I’m sure many other have done as well). I’m glad to be able to “accompany” you on your journey as you go, and I feel like it’s making me a better Mom to watch you handle your own challenges with the grace that you do.

  364. I’m pretty sure this is my favorite post of yours that I’ve ever read. I rarely comment, but just had to let you know I’m on your team. The Bible tells us to “Count it all joy…” and you do, so well. Thanks for sharing today. Oh, and give little Nella a squeeze for me. She makes my heart light.

  365. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I love the way you focus on the things that hold you together and not what could tear you apart.

    And, that last picture of Nella…to die for.

    Blessings xoxoxo

  366. …Oh little MS. Nella…how I adore that last photo of you! “Have a lovely time at your tea party” (said in an English accent) :)

    Kelle…I SO needed this post right at this moment in my day/life!! What do I love about right now?…your perspective on life, on challenges, on choosing happiness and your wild and passionate chase to tackle life!! Thank you for the inspiration. Life is Grand-the heartaches and the triumphs!! You ROCK…BIG time!!

    Happy celebration to you and your family!
    Congrats on 2 for 2!!

    Monique

  367. AH, that last image is so timeless…love it!!

  368. Really, really beautiful post. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It was all inspiring and moving. Thank you.

  369. So touched by your interview. I find strength in your daily photos of a person with Down Syndrome enjoying a wonderful life in normal situations. This is a light in the darkness.

  370. …you are so lucky to have her…
    I just watched the video clip from ABC. I have always admired your raw honesty from the first time I read your blog starting with your post on Nella’s birth. You are an incredible woman, an amazing mother and yes…Joan Of Freaking Arc!!! You are making the world aware of the beauty the lies behind that magical extra chromosome…

    Monique

  371. Loved watching the ABC piece! It’s awesome that you look so positively on down syndrome.

  372. I love, love, love that last picture of Nella looking at herself in the mirror! She is SO precious and beautiful. I look forward to reading your blog. Thank you for linking the ABC special. I loved watching it and seeing the emotion that you feel for your daughters. I feel it through your words when you write. Thank you for allowing me a glimpse into your beautiful life. Your family inspires me to be a better Mom and person.

  373. Oh that was a beautiful video…I am in tears. I just love the picture of Nella and Lainey in their cars. What a special bond your girls have. You are all so lucky to have each other. Bless you and your family.

  374. Well said! insert round of applause.. I hate the NAY breakers too!
    I have read your blog for about a year and a half now and your words, your daily “ordinary life” inspire me.

  375. Fuck yeah sister. Go and live it. Ignore the joy suckers.

    I’ve been reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp – and I can’t put it down. It’s very good. All about thankfulness and joy. You would love it and scream “AMEN!” every few seconds.

    Suck the marrow out of every moment tomorrow; it will be a beautiful celebration for sure. You’re an inspiration for so many of us – as a mother, a woman, and as a creative monster.

    -Jennifer

  376. Kudos to you for staying positive and always looking for the good in tough situations. I thought your article/video with abc was great and you were very raw and honest about your experience as a new mother to a child with Down Syndrome. I love how it has changed your perspective and allowed you to grow as a person and as a family. Nella is beautiful and there is a LOT to celebrate!

  377. I’ve been wondering about Ginger after seeing her photo in a few of your posts! Is she a poodle? I was wondering what type of dog she is- she is SO cute.

    Also, I just love this quote from your post: “There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?” So much so that I wrote it on a little slip of paper and tacked it up in my office.

  378. Life is just too short for joy sucking! I always see the good things and I’m optimistic for the future…. The title of your blog tells enough: Enjoying the small things… I kinda feel sorry for joy suckers….

  379. Amen sister! No joy suckers allowed here either!

  380. Kelle I just wanted to add after clicking back on your “statistics” link and reading yet another beautiful post you wrote….my 25 year old brother-in-law was killed several years ago. He left my sister a very young widow with a 5 month old baby. After that I learned to look at life differently. The odds are no more stacked against Nella than they are anyone else. Life is unpredictable, precious and short. All we can do is hold on to the here and now and love each other with all we have.

    Love your posts and love you!!!!

  381. DAMN STRAIGHT!

    love this.

  382. Kelle, you are such an inspiration to me. This post is exactly what I needed. Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed & more often than not, just seem to focus on the negative things. I forget that I’m not the only person with negative, stressful things going on in my life. So thanks for always reminding me to enjoy the small things. And you better believe I am now focusing on all the reasons to be happy. Screw those joy-suckers 😉 Reading your blog and seeing your awesome pictures is the highlight of my week. I’m sure you hear this non-stop, but thanks for sharing your story.

  383. Some streaming thoughts …
    1. Your blog continues to inspire me like nothing else I have ever found! Lovely!
    2. Your photos continue to amaze me and make me strive with my own camera.
    3. You are so right about going for great and choosing to be happy – I just want to high-5 and say ‘you go girl’
    4. I am jealous of your trips to the beach in February!
    5. Happy Friday!

  384. That last picture of Nella in the mirror… OMGoodness gracious alive! Love it.

    I watched your piece on ABC more than once. Made me cry each time. You just have such a way of taking rain and turning it into something so good.

    I saw the first comment and I thought to myself…. really, people are still saying ignorant crap. It blows my mind. Who pissed in her Wheaties?

    I am so glad you shared your feelings here. It is so honest. No matter the hardship in life and the rainbows and unicorns we find, the fact that ignorance is still there is apparently real.

    It is refreshing in a way to see your emotions in it all. ‘Cause Lord knows we’ve all been there. Just when we think we are strong, someone comes along and tries their darnedest to piss in our Wheaties.

    Thanks for ALWAYS keeping it real.

  385. Wow, I loved the tv segment. So well done, and you were so well-spoken. Great job!

  386. I like to see you fired up! You are rocking the boat and challenging the Negative Nancys out there. Keep it up, Kelle!

    Oh, and Nella in the mirror is a little bit of perfection.

  387. You are a strong woman and my inspiration.

    I love th cinch bags! But I need a consultant ID to buy them. Do you have one?

  388. One of your BEST POSTS EVER. I can’t stand joy suckers. We all struggle daily to find as much positivity as we can, and it is a CHOICE to embrace what you have and run with it or spend your time futilely sulking about what you don’t have or you can’t change. Continue to celebrate EVERYTHING you possibly can- life will add plenty of worry and fear and heartache on it’s own- but the celebrations are our way of choosing to keep our chins up and keep marching forward.

  389. Bravo Kelle!!! Another beautiful post! If it makes you feel any better I am mad at “that comment” too;) Oh, those joy-suckers. You keep on living life as you do, it is a tremendous example to your girls and everyone around you. Yes, things there will be hardships for Nella and your family but LIFE is full of hardships and hurdles and obstacles. NO ONE knows what is around the corner for anyone. . . especially not commenter number 1 on your ABC news piece!! Nella and Lainey are BEAUTIFUL and will have a BEAUTIFUL life because of what you are teaching them about living life. Enjoy your celebration this weekend! I can’t wait to see the birthday party post:)

  390. Wow, I didn’t finish reading this post the first time because I was so busy. I am so glad that I did. I loved the interview you did with ABC, love the pictures of the kids, and adore the last picture of Nella. This might be one of my favorite posts. You go mama!

  391. When I first read your blog, it was one of those things that was almost too painful. I read the birth story and I couldn’t imagine facing that news and that life. But I was drawn back and in reading only a few entries, you managed to change my entire view of how I would respond to the news that I was having a child with Downs Syndrome. I used to think I wouldn’t do it, and now I think that when you decide to have a child, you having whatever child you have. There is always NOT knowing what the challenges are. Any child could get cancer, depression, you name it. Its a risky business, opening yourself up to all of the things that could happen with children, relationships, LIFE. But the alternative? Try to protect yourself and miss out on all of this? I have been inspired to blog more, by your wonderful blog. I look forward to reading your blog every day. Not necessarily because of Nella, though she is a smile inducing part of the entire gorgeous, funny, REAL picture you paint. The life you share is beautiful, and I love your photos, your sassy writing and that your blog reminds me every time I read it that THIS ISN’T A DRESS REHEARSAL. Take the risk. Share the post. Open yourself up to all of the risks and rewards. I appreciate the reminder to dive headlong into life. Thanks for sharing the beauty that you could keep to yourself. P.s. The ABC news peice was great! Tears in my eyes. I am sometimes surprised to hear someone speak who normally I only hear through writing. You are so genuine, your voice comes through the same way in the way you talk and blog. Keep going Woman. You are an inpiration to us all. Meg http://www.ourwaytoeat.com

  392. Just watched the clip…and even though I have followed you since Nella was born and all you said was not new to me…I found myself welling up with emotion…because as a mother myself…I could totally relate to your first feelings as well as how you feel about some of those today. Loved it and pretty much all your blog entries.
    kd

  393. I love the picture of Nella walking. You can tell the shear joy she gets from taking steps all on her own. She is so proud of herself and it shows so well in this photo. Beautiful photo of a beautiful moment. Definitely one for a frame.

  394. Amen Sista!! Life will always pose challenges, fears, and curve balls. It is the love in the small things that makes life so big! Wishing you all the joy in the smallest of moments and in the biggest of challenges.

  395. Nella in the mirror.. needs a frame.. love it… I still want to send you things I made for the girls.. can you get a P.O BOX>.. lol
    I learned alot about gratitude..and I think you know the road could get hard.. down the road.. and the things people say to you… would get me angry too.. I know you look at things positively..even if there is some saddness… and I think that is commendable… Feeling gratitude and blessed..is the way we move on…and people who stay negative a lot.. get negative in return.. it’s the law of attraction…. they should google it.. LOL
    KElle you inspire

  396. It’s hard to believe someone would leave a comment like that–do they think you have a choice? What are you going to do, just . . . not parent your child? Do it grudgingly and miserably and be unhappy every single day? Ridiculous.

    I myself have known sadness and hardship and even now am in the middle of a very hard time. This world is not perfect, and God never promised that our lives here would be easy or that he would take away pain if we just asked. What He DOES promise is peace, and the strength to get through whatever life throws at us. And it sounds like you have that peace, and that strength, and you know that He’ll keep providing it no matter what may come your way.

  397. Thank you for this! It was just the shot in the arm I needed after a rough day with autism.

  398. Way to rock it Kelle and always make the choice to live life completely. Your girls see it. Your readers see it. And it’s appreciated and motivating.

    L.o.v.e. the last photo of Nella.

  399. I LOVE the picture of Nella in your bathroom in front of the mirror – it’s perfect and she is so beautiful! I, for one, am glad you choose to be happy despite challenges. You are an inspiration to so many people, so keep doing what you are doing and living life your way – it’s a great way! :)

  400. You are right, you are so so right. We need to choose joy, no matter what kind of hardship is down the road. What a stupid comment by that person…NONE of us know what is coming!! The world could end tomorrow, so why not live today? You have such a wonderful attitude towards everything, and I know that rubs off on your girls. Nella is probably going to have an easier path than some, if only because of YOUR attitude of joy, which translates to HER attitude of joy. She seems so full of love, life and happiness that that rubs off on all who know her. We love you and your sweet family. Thanks for bringing joy to OUR lives :)

  401. Gorgeous photos, some people just want to be unhappy. I’m glad you are choosing to live a joyful life, your children will grow up very happy.

  402. That last photo brought tears. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!

    Girlies,
    You picked AWESOME parents!! God bless your sweet little hearts.

  403. I absolutely LOVE the last photo. so beautiful.

  404. love this post..you are so honest and I love it…this is a side of you we don’t often see but it was great! you amaze me every time I read a new post!

    We went to the beach this morning it always makes my day so much better!

    We are making some huge changes this year with a move across the country…life is good now so I hope this move will make it great.

  405. Oh my goodness. That last photo of Nella is just precious. She is SO beautiful!

  406. I’m usually just a blog creeper but this post tempted me too much. As someone already commented, you are like a spiritual guru – your words move people. And the last picture of Nella…it’s magical.

    P.S. You would totally rock a “Don’t suck my joy.” shirt!

  407. Looks like joy sucker deleted her comment? I tried to find it, but it wasn’t there. I LOVED this post mama! You are truly incredible, and I’m in love with Nella bean!

  408. I read this quickly yesterday and loved it. I read it slowly today and loved it even more. Thank you for the good perspective and for the always gentle push to be more of who I want to be. :o)

  409. Thank you for this post. I want to be a mom who lives life like the woman in Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.” Not afraid of tomorrow but happily embracing it! But at the same time recognizing the need we will have for strength and dignity to face the hard things that inevitably will come our way.

  410. WTH!! I feel so sorry for people who have so little joy in their lives that they try to steal the joy of others. Our perfect little girl Chloe has Down Syndrome, and of course we know there are challenges ahead, but we focus on the now. She has already far exceeded my expectations in her 9 years, AND survived ALL Leukemia, she is a freaking ROCKSTAR and nobody can take that away from me by telling me that its going to get worse. We lived in “worse” for awhile…it is only getting better :) Hugs to you guys! Thanks for always bringing joy to MY life by sharing your beautiful family

    Caringbridge.org/visit/chloemalena

  411. YES YES and YES! And Amen too :) Love this whole post.

    ~Tabitha

  412. Kelle following you through your journey of motherhood has been a complete pleasure. The video you posted brought tears to my eyes as you talked about your first few days. I was told at Ava Faith’s (Mush as we nicknamed her! Yes…she will hate me for it when she is older! Her name Ava Faith was because we need to “Have Faith”) “sex reveal” that she was either going to be born with Downs or Trisomy 18. I grieved for about 2 months after that. Like I had already lost her. What would life be like for my other 2 kids. What had I done to my family? Did I cause this? etc. It wasn’t until the month I was about to have her that I felt like I could conquer anything. YOU helped me feel that way. I can’t imagine all those that give up and decide to change their fate at the U/S findings (we refused amnio as I didn’t want to risk losing her, no matter how small the chances were) when they pulled Mush out (I have to have c-sections) I kept asking…how does she look? Is she ok? We found out the perinatologist’s were WRONG…although my baby had utero signs of downs. I grieved the loss of a child that did not have what they say she would. I felt guilty, and like the worlds worst mom. Why didn’t I just cherish every moment of that pregnancy. I felt like I lost 2 months. AND worse yet…I felt guilty to even admit that I grieved her. I know now I could do it. Our family WOULD be fine if the next one did in fact have downs. And I look at Mush and think about all the poor innocent BEAUTIFUL babies that were diagnosed in utero and not given a chance to change the world…Thank you Kelle. I read your blog weekly and you are who turned my grief around. Watching what you experienced…helped me to know that I COULD do it. I hope sharng my story with you was ok! Love & blessings to your beautiful family

  413. Oh Kelle you are are so right! This post right here is why I love your blog. I love your photos, I love you and your family but what I get most out of you blog is how to really live. How to enjoy when its good and how to fight for it to be good when things dont go as we expected. And there in lies real joy right? It may get harder for you, but isn’t that the case for everyone? We have no idea what life is going to throw at us in the future. All we can do is keep getting up and doing those cartwheels (or playing in the sea with our clothes on, hee I loved that post). Thanks for being you kelle! We shoule all take a leaf out of your book Sian xxx

  414. “There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?”

    This line really resonated with me. It’s so true, in whatever season of life you find yourself in, you can choose to dwell on the negative, or keeping marching on toward a brighter tomorrow. I honestly don’t know how people survive in this world without a sense of hope.

    Thank you for bringing all your readers such joy & positivity!

  415. I just watched the ABC video and it made my cry. Simply beautiful!

  416. Ok, I don’t often comment because I don’t usually have anything different to say than the other 400 commenters but I felt that this post needed a shower of support. Standing ovation, girl! If you think wonderful, positive thoughts you will have a wonderful, positive life. If you think depressing, woe is me thoughts you will have a depressing life. Attitude is everything. We are the makers of our own fortune, whatever that fortune may be for us. You are enjoying every last drop of little girl that you were given and the naysayers are just jealous of your ability to put aside the worries and “what ifs” and live here, right now, in this present moment where all is quite wonderful.

    We can worry and dwell on what might happen but what good does that do? And why am I preaching to you because you already know this stuff!!! :-)

    So like I said, standing ovation! Keep living in the moment, keep sucking the marrow, keep enjoying every moment with those sweet babies!

    To the commenter, I’m sorry but I sure as hell don’t want to read Kelle’s blog if she changes the title to “Dwelling on the Dismal” so go piss on someone else’s parade!

  417. Good for you, Kelle! I love the fire in this post. Your perspective is contagious…unicorns and all. Life is certainly not what you are given, but what you do with it. And, girl, do you know how to do it! You have inspired thousands to (dare I say) “bloom,” and I know that once your book comes out, that will only multiply. God bless you, Kelle, for putting yourself out there and for showing us how to live the heck out of this life!

    P.S. That last photo of Nella is too gorgeous for words.

  418. This post, those pictures, and your story on ABC left me in tears three minutes before I had to leave for work. You and Nella are an inspiration to me… I have been struggling with issues of self-confidence and self-esteem, but your posts always give me strength. We can’t let anyone bring us down in this world… we are too busy living our wild and precious lives!

  419. I don’t comment often, but everything you write resonates with me, this one in particular. I love the joy you have, that you embrace the challenges. Forget the joy-suckers. :)

  420. Amazing post.

  421. Too funny…I declared my addiction to Instagram to my friends just yesterday.

  422. Kelle,
    You have written what my heart has thought for years about the joy suckers and their response to the life that my daughter Ella is leading us through. Whoa to the next person who tries to suck it out of me, or her.
    Carry on, girl. I’m right there with you.

  423. I just found your blog. I haven’t seen the special on tv and I’ve only read one other post but you spoke to me. Right to the core of my heart and soul. To see the the good in every situation speaks volumes of what kind of parent you are and what kind of person you are. Of course its going to be hard, but its infinitely harder when you’re negative and thats what you focus on. So glad I found your blog. I have a feeling I’m going to spend a lot of time reading it!

  424. Well said! I learned a quote a few years back and have held onto it: “hurting people hurt people”. Joy suckers are hurting and they deal with it by hurting others. Unfortunately, they’ll continue living life this way until they figure it out and sadly, I don’t know if most do. You are a rock star and I love your unicorn-and-rainbows spirit. Keep on it because its people like you who know what the real deal is–LIVE-ing life and all of its ups and downs that make it truly wonderful and adventurous. Its all perspective baby!!!

  425. You are officially the most quotable blogger I have ever read. Thank you. So much.

  426. Hmmm, why do I read your blog? It’s that upbeat, positive attitude that always make me think am I doing everything I can in my life to make my life happy?

    Sometimes life bites the big one but that doesn’t mean we have to let that take over. I admire your ability to take that lemon and make sparkling lemonade.

    Don’t allow someone who feels the need to wallow in what MIGHT be steal your positive view of the world.

  427. I absolutely ADORE the last pic of Nella! Curl, crazy hair, checking herself out in the mirror. I love how you’re posts always leave me aspiring to live and love every second of my life, both the agonizing moments and the glorious ones. Thanks Kelle, you’re one heck of a mama and a woman!

  428. That picture of the birds in front of the already-set-sun is gooorge. Truly. I love how focused you are in drawing the nectar out of life for your babies. I come here to get inspiration to do the same with mine.

  429. I love reading your posts, but especially love this one. I too want great… Also, the picture of Nella at the end, SO beautiful!

  430. YOU GO GIRL!!!! you tell those joy suckers just what LIFE is all about…heck, maybe they’ll even learn something:)

  431. “There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus?”

    Thank you for that. That phrase stopped me in my tracks, how very true it is. We have to choose the happy over the unhappy. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not, but either way the happy is worth it.

  432. Kelle, you are a rockstar. Just watched your piece on ABC and my heart was full of joy just seeing the love you have for your Nella and Lainey. You are amazing and your purpose in life is just unfolding…and will be bigger, I daresay, than you can even imagine. Likewise, for Nella and Lainey and Brett. I’ve been a follower of your blog since right after Nella was born and to see her blossom is a blessing…and your take on life is truly refreshing.

  433. Your post made me cry. I couldn’t agree more – I think everyone has a choice to be happy, no matter what has happened to them in the past. It is unfortunate that some people are so unhappy that they try to ruin it for everyone. We are so lucky to have life and I appreciate your openness with the world about YOUR life, sharing your highs and lows. It’s an important job you are doing.

  434. I know this is a bit late and you don’t need anyone to tell you that you are doing a great job but because I like positive reinforcement…. I am so proud of/inspired by you. You have taken a situation that many people wallow in (trust me I see it a lot even with children who have something that is not a life long and will probably enter school with no memory of early intervention) and complain that no one is doing enough for them and they focus on their child’s weaknesses instead of highlighting the strengths. I have been overwhelmed time and time again how you take it all in stride and are giving your children a wonderful childhood. And you are using your experiences to promote awareness and help others! The future may hold challenges that will be more difficult but that is no reason to let that ruin today. You have met and defeated every one so far.

  435. gosh, i just love reading all these comments on here:)

    you are amazing, kelle. inspiring. your heart just shines. and your words have an impact…they change people, they mold hearts. mine, included.

    i couldn’t see the comment that person left, but i find it incredible that you can take something negative and make it beautiful. you always make me want to be better. thank you for that.

    p.s. that last picture of nella is just stunning.

  436. Well said Kelle! That last picture of Nella is gorgeous.

  437. Just love it. Love it all. God Bless you :)

  438. Thank you. This comment – There is reason for everyone to be unhappy. There is reason for everyone to be happy. What’s your focus? – stopped me in my tracks. My mother in law is fighting stage 4 cancer and I’ve had a hard time focusing on anything but the negative lately. THANK YOU for reminding me to embrace the happy.

  439. Just found your site and I love this post. There is so much truth to what you’ve said…we all have hardships ahead of us…it’s life, but embracing life and living in the “now” is how one can be happy and how a mother can give her children a wonderful life. Your Nella is beautiful and I’m sure many will learn a lot from her.

  440. I read the ABC story and LOVED it. Tears down my face at work…I have followed you for years and knew your story and outlook but was SO HAPPY to see the mainstream media pick up your story and tell it in such a powerful and authentic way. I then saw that dreadful comment and I DID let it suck my joy. I was angry and wanted to punch that person right in the nose. I almost posted a reply but then decided that he or she was such a phenomenal idiot that he or she was not worth my time. Your response here was perfect. You are amazing. You are an inspiration. I adore you and am so grateful to know your story and have a glimpse inside the beautiful, imperfectly perfect life you are living.

  441. Late comer here, catching up.

    I LOVE:

    The problem I have with it is the theory that happiness and perspective and grabbing life by the balls is somehow discredited if challenges are still ahead.

    I also love your comment about focus. I read this yesterday:

    Whatever you’re thinking about is literally like planning a future event. When you’re worrying, you are planning. When you’re appreciating you are planning . . . What are you planning?
    -Abraham Hicks

  442. Fiery can be good – and is in this sense.
    LOVE the last pic – Nella is beautiful.

  443. Wow. I just watched the video from ABC News. So incredibly moving and beautiful. Really amazing. Your honesty is brave and true.

  444. LOVE those cinch bags & LOVE this post! :)

  445. I just watched the ABC segment. How beautiful.
    I also watched a link under yours, about a young lady with DS getting crowned Homecoming Queen. Her story embodied your rally cry for Nella — that she is special, beautiful, loved, and brings joy to others…to the world.
    Don’t ever give that up.

  446. I have been reading your blog since 2010, this is my first comment I have made, but I just wanted to say after reading countless entries from you, gazing at your beautiful pictures and feeling like I am actually part of your intimate family, I applaud you. The video from abcnews.com left me in tears, you are taking your journey on strong, and you are such a determined and inspirational woman! Thank you Kelle, for making me smile everyday!

  447. I love how you live in the present. And how you choose joy! You live with no regrets. You are such a beautiful person and your girls are so blessed to have you for their mommy! Thank you for sharing your life and experiences. What a testimony you have!
    Blessings to you!
    jamie

  448. What a great post. My two attend a school named for Joan of Arc…it has been a wonderful experience (so far!)…I still remember one of early parent meetings and the principal saying – “Forward with Courage like SJoA”. My daughter Hannah (who has DS) is one of the most courageous people I know – and she makes us brave – cos she is right. It is the way of the light, the hardships can’t possibly outweigh her presence in our lives.

  449. Thanks for the awesome reminder that life is worth chasing down and tackling :)
    Thanks for sharing, your words and photos always help me fill my glass full

  450. Good for you, babe. Keep it up. :)

  451. Oh Kelle~ I never buy ebooks (I am a cheapskate), but when I discovered your blog recently, I had to buy “Bloom”. What an incredible book- you have talent! I have 6 children of my own, and though we have not experienced DS directly, I have a nephew with it. You are so blessed!!! Sure it’s hard- but hard things are good things, and God gave precious Nella to you, because He knew your heart was big enough for her. Nella is such a lucky girl to have a stellar mommy like you. Of course you will have pain in the future, all parents do… but you are on the right track with choosing to see the good. The same day I read your ‘birth blog’, I came across a quote from a famous poet that ended with “Take Joy”. Thanks to you, from this day forward, I vow to “Take Joy”. God bless you!

  452. Beautiful in every aspect! Writing,mothering and your eye for seeing what others don’t, in your photographs! Curious as to your reference to parenting Nella as; “Choosing to embrace the heartache of raising a child with Down syndrome. . .” Why does raising a child with Down syndrome presuppose heartache? Does not All parenting/child-rearing presume heartache in so much as these children(All) are our hearts? On this point, I beg to differ, the rest: Spot On! Most Delightful, so thank you!

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