Down Syndrome: Where We Are Now

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a little while now. I frequenty receive e-mails requesting how Nella’s doing, what therapies we’re using, where we are on this journey with Down syndrome, and I tuck them away with the intent to respond to as many as possible in one post. For past posts responding to questions about Down syndrome, you can look here and here or click on the “designer genes” tab on the right side of this blog to see a list of posts regarding Down syndrome.

Three years isn’t nearly long enough to truly understand all the issues within the world of Down syndrome, but it’s long enough to understand what I feel is most important–that there is so much this little girl has to offer the world and that we possess the unique privilege of helping her believe and achieve that truth. And in doing that for our little girl, we’re going to learn a lot about how we can help do that for others.

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Today, Nella is three-and-a-half years old. She is healthy, growing and eats pretty much whatever we give her, but her favorites are spaghetti, yogurt, popsicles and ice cream. She can run fast, jump, ride a tricycle (just starting!) and Lord have mercy, can she dance. Arms in the hair, hips to the side, bootie right down to the ground. Dance is her language–spoken so fluently that sometimes when I watch her in those moments where her body is so clearly feeling the music and expressing the happiness in her soul, I’m brought to tears. That’s how I want to live my life, I think.

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We still receive occupational and physical therapy each once a week from the husband and wife team who has been working with Nella since she was teeny tiny. They are like part of our family. For physical therapy, Nella is working on a lot of toddler play activities like riding bikes, throwing and catching a ball, etc.

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For occupational therapy, we continue to work toward school skills like holding a pencil, drawing shapes (not there yet), copying lines, cutting paper, etc.

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Brett and I have noticed over the past three years that there are great peaks in her development that will last for a few weeks where there are so many new discoveries, new words, new tasks, but that there are also plateaus where she needs time to chew on what she’s learned and chill out for a while. Brains need breaks, I get it. I have also noticed that Lainey has peaks and plateaus in her discoveries too. Yes, maybe they’re different and more significant, but usually these “Down syndrome things” that we deal with are versions of “Not Down syndrome things” every kid deals with.

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We are in a peak right now, celebrating a beautiful burst in her development. She’s talking a lot more, and every week there’s a moment where one of us says something along the lines of, “Oh my God, did she seriously just say ‘Lainey took my book’?? Did you hear that?” and Brett and I will both run over, smiling, clapping, asking her to repeat it. Those moments? They belong to our whole family. They are special. They are marriage-bonding and family-appreciating. We might have old tile with dirty grout, but I’ll be damned, our three-year-old just said “Lainey took my book”!

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We have two years before kindergarten still, and right now we are planning on sending her to public school when that time comes. We both feel home is the best place for her this year, especially since we are able to swing it. I’ll be doing some homeschool preschool work with her and will be introducing more socialization opportunities with ballet and more structured playdates. We are hoping to do a couple mornings a week at a small preschool next year to help make the transition to kindergarten a little easier. During the transition out of our Early Steps program (at three years old), we had our first IEP meeting with the public school, and I was so pleased with how kind and helpful every individual we worked with was. I’ve heard from many of you sending your kids with Down syndrome off to school for the first time this year, and I’ll be honest–there’s a little heart lurch thinking about it. So much good awaits–I know that, but yes. There’s that place inside where we hold any apprehension, fear and sadness for the extra challenges our kids will face, and sending our kids to school creates vulnerability–opens the door a little wider to that place inside.

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I want Nella to have as many opportunties as she can to live a happy, fulfilling life. I cannot change the physiological parts of her body that limit her, but I can do what mama bears do. We love like it’s our job. We work hard. We push our kids so that they learn how to survive because when they survive, we survive. So, I push her. I push her to try new things, to explore the world, to meet new people and to be adventurous. Right now, we’re working on letters and words, and I try and use every opportunity to drench her precious brain with information. I was given a great curriculum to use a few weeks ago from a mom and former teacher who developed Wordy Worm after struggling to teach her son with Down syndrome how to read. Her son is now in his thirties, lives independently in Fort Myers and has a great job and fulfilling social life. I love this easy-to-teach curriculum, and can’t stress enough how important it is to begin teaching literacy strategies early.

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I know this as a teacher, as a mom, and as the humble student of so many incredible parents who are ahead of me on this journey. Drench their beautiful little brains with knowledge and experiences and don’t think for a hot second that your child can’t learn.

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This past year, I’ve spent a lot more time with adults who have Down syndrome, and I’m learning a lot. I can’t even explain it, really, because I’m in the middle of it. My heart, my perceptions, my ideas on all of this–they’re being molded right now, so there’s an “Under Construction” sign hanging somewhere within.

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Having a pretty public blog and being recognized in the special needs community, I try to be aware of politically correct terminology and sensitive issues. I’ve backspaced posts and held back from saying things many times because I’ve thought “that’s going to offend someone” or “they’re going to think–” too many times. I’m really trying not to do that anymore. Whether you like the way we’re handling Down syndrome or not, whether you think I’m a good advocate or not, if you’re in the special needs community, let me tell you something: We’re in this together. Can you hear me? WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER. We’re figuring it out. We’re all hurting in some way or another because we know our kids have struggles. That bond in some way makes us family. I promise I don’t ever mean to hurt any of you. But we need each other. Our kids need us–ALL of us. And we’re going to think a lot of different things, some that contradict each other. But I’d like to think that someone out there needs to hear something that each of us has to say. If you say it’s blue, there’s someone out there who needs to hear it’s blue and you just made their life so much better by being blue. Thank you for being blue, even if I’m not. If I say it’s green, there’s someone out there who needs to hear it’s green, and thank God we can be green together. Blue and green are both good. I’d hate for the world to lose one of those colors.

I know I’m rambling. I’m sorry. But there’s just so much I’ve been wanting to say.

I’m in a constant place of figuring this out, and based on the way I’ve grown, the things I’m learning, the love I’ve felt–well, I hope I never graduate from figuring it out, because this is such a good place.

I know I don’t specifically write about Down syndrome a lot because I don’t specifically think about it a lot. I have three kids. I take pictures of them. I like happy things and funny things and colorful things and pretty shoes. I will write about those things. And sometimes I’ll write about hard things when they come. That’s about all I can offer. But when I feel like there’s something about Down syndrome I’d really like to share, I’ll bring it here for you, and you can do what you like with it. I bet there will be a lot to write about when Nella goes to school.

Life has changed a lot in the past three years, and we continue to move forward, exposing our kids to the world we want them to know and following our own paths of exploration. Does it still hurt? Well, early this summer I did a three-day recording for the audio version of Bloom. It was the first time I ever read it aloud and the first time I even looked at it since the last edit. I smiled through a lot of parts that I’ve moved on from, a different girl with growth. But that part when she was born? That line where her eyes first looked at me and asked me to love her? I couldn’t do it. I choked five, six, seven times in a row–unable to speak, catching my breath, paralyzed by the weight in my chest until finally I asked the producer on the phone line to give me a minute. “Take all the time you need,” he said. Yeah, it’s still there. And I’m so thankful that it is. It’s part of who I am. It’s part of who our family is.

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We all have our pain, our issues, our struggles that make us who we are. I value mine. I need that pain and struggle to contrast all the good, the growth, the happiness. Juxtaposition–an important element of art.

Having a child and loving them so desperately turns you inside out. There’s no greater pain than knowing that your child is hurting, and that’s what this is all about–we don’t want our kids to suffer. Having a child with physical and mental challenges means that there’s going to be added suffering, and I carry that with me every day.

The best way I know how to deal with that is to accept Nella for the beautiful girl she is and to make every effort to help her soar, to live a life of enjoying the things that were given to us so that my child learns how to do that too. And if I can make a dent in the world around me, possibly inviting them to accept people with differences and make efforts to help them soar–well that would be awesome.

So in closing this post, thank you for joining me in figuring things out. The world is beautiful, huh? Let’s continue to make it that way–for every person. Blue and green, baby.

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And a little video of Nella learning: (sidenote: the puppet in the video is one of Nella’s favorites. A while ago, I did this funny thing in the morning where I made the puppet go get me a cup of coffee and Nella helped pour the half-and-half. Now every single day, Nella brings me the puppet and says “C’mon, coffee,” wanting me to repeat the exact same routine. So we do. Every day.)


So much love to all of you tonight.

Comments

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  1. She is so beautiful. You are doing a great job raising her, an inspiration for everyone to follow.

  2. Gorgeous little girl

  3. Sending them off to school for the first time is SO scary!! I was terrified. Beth however, couldn’t WAIT to go! She was only 2 1/2 when she first started preschool and I could barely hold her when that bus came around the corner! She loved school. But now she has graduated from high school and really misses summer vacation!

    P.S. I saw you in that first picture!! I think she’s looking more like you, do you?

  4. She is absolutely precious, and so smart! You are doing an amazing job!

  5. Great post! I loved the video. Thanks for sharing that :)

  6. I just read this and watch the video and cry. They are such different tears than those I cried when first she came. These come from somewhere deeper. These are more from pride than pain. While I love to look back, I am compelled to look ahead and dare to dream for and with Nella and so many other precious spirits who will be reaching beyond what others believe can be theirs. Ga-Ga-Ga-Great!

  7. She is beautiful!

  8. I love, love, love your blog. I am so taken with sweet Nella. Thank you for posting the video of her working with her letters. I can’t wait to show it to my two and a half year old tomorrow. We do the very same kind of letter work almost every day! And I am sure the puppet will also be a big hit!

    All my best to you & your lovely family.

  9. Thank you for sharing. I am a special education teacher and have great success using the strategies in the book “Teaching Reading to Children With Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Teachers” There are lots of fun family activities that at also translate well to the classroom setting.

  10. well crap that made me cry… while sitting in panera. she’s amazing!! you’re amazing!! she’s lucky to have you as a mama!!

  11. *tears* That was beautiful. Loved the video. XO

  12. :)

  13. Kelle, I’ve never commented before, but I’ve sat at my computer for about a year and a half daily awaiting your posts. I’m a college student who dreams of having a family someday. You are such an inspirsing example of what I dream to be as a mom. Nella’s story has especially touched me. For speech class in college recently, I had to do a 10 minute informative speech. I did it on Down Syndrome and society’s perceptions of it. I also encouraged everyone in the class to STOP calling themselves or others “retarded.” I hate that word and what it implies. I never considered what raising a child with Down Syndrome “looks like” until I found your blog, and you’ve painted such an honest, loving picture. You’ve made me want to treat every child with a disability like they are the most special prizes on Earth because they are both God’s child and someone’s son or daughter. I too see the world mostly in green and sometimes encounter negativity from others because of my positivity. Thank you for saying that both blue and green are needed equally. You have made a HUGE impact. Don’t ever doubt it!

  14. Will just started saying “Coffee” this summer. He has made it his job to carry my cup behind me all over the house each morning as I run about my little routines. I’ll turn about and there he will be, “coffee” and present it to me for a sip, smiling like the Cheshire cat. I smile later as I wipe up each slosh of sticky coffee throughout the house. He will be 11 in 8 days. He has come so far in the 5 years I’ve been blessed to love him and yet my heart breaks open for the thousands of thoughts he has not had words for over the years. Sometimes I am blue, and other times green, but always it’s drenched in the rainbow of love. That is what I have learned…it is the love that matters the most. Fierce, ever believing, love. I know there are limits but I can’t help but consume myself, our family, our expectations of him, with the belief that HE CAN. Thank you for sharing your family, your children, your love and most importantly, your journey with us.

  15. Beautiful. I loved the video. Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Look at those long locks. What a gorgeous little lady and a smart one at that. My 4 year old isn’t saying sounds yet. I attribute it to him being stubborn. πŸ˜‰ All this learning makes me a teensy weensy bit excited to go back tomorrow. My classroom needs an overhaul so I hope I can get everything done in the next three days. :) Thanks for sharing Kelle and Happy Humpday!

    http://www.wolfswinkelfam.blogspot.com

  17. I love Nella. That is all.

  18. Gosh darn it–that video made me cry. She is beautiful. You are bringing so much to her world and she to yours. Thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us —-we are all blessed by your words. God bless you all.

  19. Aaaaand I’m crying… a proud cry, a touched cry and a happy cry. She is one smart cookie from what I just saw. You and your family must be beaming with pride. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Showing our children how proud they make us to be their parents. I’m sending a bunch of love from VA to FL :)

  20. love this post! I haven’t had chance to check your blog for a while and wow she has grown up so much and is doing so well!! So lovely to see how Nella is getting on, it made me cry. I totally get the feeling of when they say something new, and omg did they really say that… Have had this with my 3 yr old recently (not with ds, asd) and it is such an amazing feeling! all the best to nella for her future, I have no doubt she will go on to achieve a lot, with a full and happy life, you are doing such a great job with her :)

  21. Kelle, I’ve been following your blog since Nella’s birth. I am so happy to read about how far she has come in the last 3 years.The photos and video truly warm my heart. She is a joy, and you are awesome parents. Blessings all around!

  22. Nella is such a beautiful little girl. Thank you for sharing your story with us. The video warmed my heart. xo

  23. your two posts today have just been a shining light for me. the iPad one made me smile and knod YES and this just brings tears.

  24. Pure loveliness.

    Thank you, Kelle.

  25. Oh that video was so so beautiful! What a sweet heart:)

  26. More videos! I love hearing Nella! She is growing so much. She knows more of her alphabet than my 4 and a half year old boy. (He is the baby of five and we probably do too much for him.) I am so proud of her!

  27. Kelle, she lights up so many lives.
    She IS beautiful & smart & strong.
    She is so lucky to have you as her Mama as you are to have her as your daughter. Truly, a match made in Heaven. So much love back to you tonight.

  28. This post is so touching, it’s really making me emotional!
    You wrote it so beautiful, I can feel the love you have for Nella (and your other kids) trough your words. It’s amazing how open you are about Down-syndrome, I think the world still has too many people who judge about Down-syndrome, the people who have it, etc.
    By reading this, I am sure you are a good mum and doing the best and most you can!
    Nella & your 2 others kids deserve love but you do too honey, don’t forget to think about yourself once and a while (but this might be harder than just saying it)
    Anyway, I really have so much respect for you, your husband and 3 children!
    Much love to all of you xxx Lyn

  29. I love that video so much!

  30. This makes my heart happy. Thanks for being awesome and teaching Nella that she IS smart and she IS beautiful. :)

  31. Bravo, Kelle and Nella. Bravo.

  32. This was a beautiful post. Thank you for the updates and it is wonderful to read that Nella is doing so well. I can completely relate to the tears you have when you watch her dance. Our son has come so far in the past few months and I am daily in awe of him. I was brought to tears tonight as I watched him excitedly participate in story-time–such a gift.

  33. Nella is a beautiful little girl and it is so much fun watching her grow and blossom :)

  34. How fortunate Nella is to have you two as parents, accepting, loving and teaching her how to be a good citizen! Thank you for your open, vulnerable post. Beautiful composed and delivered.
    Blessings, Rosemary

  35. I read the story of beautiful Nella’s birth the year before having my fifth baby, and before going through the “routine” tests that the doctors recommended because of my husband’s age, my age and my uncle born with DS. We got as far as the nuchal scan at 13 weeks which of course came back high risk. We didn’t expect anything different. But I remembered your story and beautiful Nella’s birth and we decided that we didn’t need anymore tests. Because at the end of the day it didn’t matter because we already loved this little person that was growing into being and that no matter what happened, we’d all be okay. It is people like you, strong people like you who love with a fierce open and honest heart, that take away the fear and make people realise that DS, while challenging and hard, is also an amazing gift and you are raising two amazing girls.

  36. Kelle,
    Thank you so much for sharing. You and Nella are an inspiration and it is so wonderful to watch her grow and bloom here. Thank you. Thank you for the blue and the green. You’re right, we do need it all. I love when we mamas can share our thoughts and ideas and learn from each other without judging or competing. And you’ve said it before, but I totally agree that we do the best when we relax and trust out instincts as mamas. We already know what to do in so many instances.
    All of your children are so beautiful and I enjoy every post seeing their sweet, smiley faces.

  37. What a happy little girl you have. With that radiant smile and parents, friends, family that love her and support her, she is very gifted.

  38. Love your perspective. Thanks for this post! And, for the record, Nella knows more letters than my (typical) 3.5-year old. She is awesome!

  39. Oh Kelle! This was a beautiful post and the video brought me to tears. Nella is doing so very well. I’ve worked with many different children in special needs and she is absolutely doing it, and she is absolutely a miracle. She is going to go far, I just know it. I absolutely love you and your family. You inspire me to be the best person that I can, and to make a difference. You inspire me to be the best special needs teacher that I can, I want to make a difference in each and every child’s life that I come across. You have inspired me to start my own blog, and I hope you find the time to check it out some day and give me some feedback it is : abeautifullife88.blogspot.com

    Hope to hear from you again soon, thank you for taking the time to care about your readers. Much love and respect to you.

    Rebecca Marie

  40. What a great post – thanks for sharing those thoughts. I loved the video too – she is so sweet and perfect:)

  41. Beautiful. Tears tonight, mama. The happy ones.
    And your puppet voice is top notch. Xo.

  42. I love seeing that little lady in action.

    I don’t ever think I’ll understand one mama criticizing another mama when we all know good and well that we do better with love and support, not criticism and jealousy.

    As one of your fellow special needs moms, I know what it’s like to be around ‘different’ all day, tend to the needs of a ‘different’ child differently, adjust typical routines and arrangements to accommodate differences and yet not even once think about the actual condition or needs that make her different in the first place. Some days I think about them more than others, but they’re etched so deep into what is normal at our house that it’s not a big deal.

    In our house, my daughter’s limbs are old news…but what IS new and exciting is watching her go under water at swim lessons and then straight onto her back float like its NBD (with my assistance of course), or the funny thing she said at dinner, or the sweet prayer she said at night time that causes my husband and I to open our eyes and exchange that knowing glance. New milestones for both of my kids are exciting… always. I can’t write about limb differences all the time because I don’t think about it all the time. Thank goodness.

    I truly think one of the greatest blessings associated with being a special needs mom has been the increased capacity to see past the differences and straight to the person more readily.

    Keep on, keepin’ on…
    Hugs.

  43. Gosh, she is just beautiful. I love when she copies you in the video to say she is beautiful and strong. What a sweet, funny, wonderful little girl.

  44. I’ve been following your blog for awhile now, and I have to say, your daughter is absolutely beautiful. You seem to be doing a wonderful job as a parent, and as a future educator (last year of undergrad-yay!), I hope I have parents and students as wonderful as you and Nella!

  45. Kelle, this is by far my favorite post of yours. Its just amazing and touching and has such a powerful message. I often encounter people that think my child, or worse their child can’t learn. It breaks my heart and upsets me. Its an attitude that can disable someone more than any diagnosis ever will. I will share this one with everyone I know, its a lesson everyone needs to learn.

    T

  46. I love your blog, I found it when Nella was born. Your birth story was so beautiful an d true.

    When I think of your blog now, I don’t think of DS, I think of a quirky Mom with 3 great kids who tickles my funnybone and throws great birthday parties.

    We are all so much more then your genetic make up.

    I cant wait to witness your kids growing up. :)

    When I see pictures of Dash, I can see a lot of Lainey and Nella :)

    keep your blog true and people will follow it :)

    Tanya

    Mom to 5 kids <3

  47. WoW ! So beautiful (tears in my eyes)!. Thank you for sharing those precious moments.
    Claudia Xx

  48. She warms my heart every single day! Thanks for sharing!

  49. I have to say Nella knows more letters and sounds than the average 3 year old! What a precious family you have grown.

  50. You are a good momma.
    Period.
    End of story.

  51. I just watched this video with my 6 1/2yr old who is in second grade and the whole time there was no mention about any difference in Nella, just astonishment that the 3yr old could do all of those things. Children have such beauty and acceptance within them. We are here as parents to let them flourish into beautiful (on the inside) human beings without noticing the differences on the out. My youngest is about to turn 4 and her older sister was amazed at how “super smart and amazing that 3 yr old is.” Just wanted to share my tender moment with you.

  52. So beautiful, Kelle: your words, your journey, that Nella and her amazing capacity.

  53. Oh my gosh, that video..not even sure I can form words right now. I received my masters in teaching this December and I am constantly asked “why?” or “what made you want to go into teaching”. That video, right there, is my answer. I had a principal ask me in an interview how I would accept and treat students who had special needs. My answer came before he even finished “You mean, every student?”. EVERY student has special needs. I am learning to have a distaste for that term. EVERY student learns, copes, loves, plays, and lives differently than the peer sitting next to them. Once we can see that we can see the world of possablities that holds for everyone around us. How lucky we are to have children like Nella as our future. Bravo to you, Mom. You are fabulous!

  54. So glad to hear things are going well. She is so beautiful and I love that video of her and the alphabet. Absolutely precious.

  55. Beautiful post and video. You are such a talented writer, photographer and videographer AND mother. Such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your life.

  56. I just want to reach through the computer screen and hug that adorable little girl (the same feeling I get for wanting to eat up my 6-month-old). She is too precious. I used to teach preschool and then elementary special education before having my son. I totally get the utter excitement and high that comes from accomplishments like Nella’s sentence. I remember the first time my 4-year-old student with down syndrome looked at a picture of a key and said, “The key goes in the lock.” I cried. By the way, I’m sure you know this, but her literacy skills are way advanced for 3. Great job, mama and great job, Nella!

  57. Wow that video was so inspiring! What a fabulous job you’re doing and what a smart and beautiful girl you have there!

  58. Nella is BEAUTIFUL. I haven’t had a chance to check in for a while, and it’s amazing to see what a lovely girl she continues to grow into. May we all dance like Nella.

  59. Seriously loved this. Thank you.

  60. LOVE.LOVE.LOVE. I too have been blessed with a child with Down Syndrome, she is 20 months old and she is the most wonderful little being! Love reading your blog and seeing what you do with Nella! WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!

  61. There was no video….only a black screen that did nothing and clicking it did nothing, also.
    Bummer!

  62. Kelle…this spot you’ve created on the internet reminds me that there is beauty in everything. Thank you for so openly sharing your parenting challenges. I think every single mother on the planet can mimic your heart. Whether we have Downs Syndrome in the family or not. Mothering is mothering…and you do it so beautifully.

    I love your little family and I love this happy place where you share with us.

    Thank you.

  63. Right. On.

  64. Right. On.

  65. Awww…Sweet Nella…the video was awesome!

    “We’re in this together. Can you hear me? WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER. We’re figuring it out. We’re all hurting in some way or another because we know our kids have struggles. That bond in some way makes us family.”

    Well said! LOVE to you and the family!

  66. Dear Kelle,

    This is the first time I’m commenting, but I’ve been a faithful reader of your blog ever since I found it – which happened only a few months ago… I spent around 2 entire weeks just reading and reading every post since the beginning… And I guess because I’ve read every post and looked at every single picture, I feel like I know your family so well, and I always think about how much I would love to meet you all someday. But I digress..

    I first heard about you and your blog earlier this year when I was telling a friend about my little cousin who has Down Syndrome – her name is Rebecca and she’s a lovely little girl… she was born the same year as Nella, and she shares a birthday with Lainey :) Anyway, that’s when she told me about this woman she admired so much who also had a little girl with Down Syndrome… and the rest is history :)

    I’m 23 now, and right now I’m at this place in my life where I really have no idea of what to do next. As I often say, I seem to have been born “talentless” – still haven’t found anything I’m actually good at. But there’s one thing in my life that I’ve always knew… I want to be a mom someday. So I’m hoping that when that time comes, I’ll find out that maybe it is exactly what I was born to do… And I guess I just wanted you to know that you are such a huge inspiration to me. You’re the kind of mom I want to be to my children. You embrace your kids’ personalities and individualities, and you do your best to allow them to express themselves in their own ways.. I love that. Oh, and also, I want to be an awesome photographer like you :)

    I guess I’m rambling, I tend to do that. But this post seemed like a good opportunity for me to finally tell you how much I admire you and everything you do for Lainey, Nella and Dash. Thank you for sharing your life with us – know that I love your little ones and I feel proud of each of their accomplishments, because it feels like you’re family.

    Loved reading about all the new things Nella is learning, and the video you posted is just so adorable. You’re doing such a great job with her. I’ll try to send you a picture of little Rebecca some time :)

    Much love,
    Bella

  67. I think you are doing an amazing job with your parenting! Keep it up! She’s gorgeous in every way.

  68. LOVE.LOVE.LOVE. I too have been blessed with a child with Down Syndrome, she is 20 months old and she is the most wonderful little being! Love reading your blog and seeing what you do with Nella! WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!

  69. I hope you didn’t do this post because of those opinionated comments on Instagram, you don’t owe them a thing…that being said, I’m so glad you did it. The way you pour your soul into that girl is truly amazing and inspiring. She is so incredibly blessed to have you for her mama. And you, you get to call that beautiful girl your own.

  70. I love everything you said! It’s so honest and it’s so “right now” – I like how when you say what you’re doing, it never makes me feel like you know it all, it just makes me feel like this is what’s working right now, or this is how I feel like now. I’m positive I like that because I’m the same way. Wow do you know how many kids Nella’s age have no idea about letter sounds??? That is stunning – soooo cool. Also, her hair is gorgeous, oh my goodness, you are probably having so much fun with that hair. I loved the video!!! Made me teary-eyed – she’s so awesome and so are you. Thanks for the peek into Nella-life right now :)

  71. Well, dang… Wasn’t expecting those tears. Thanks for your insight and perspective. Quite a journey we’re all on, isn’t it? You’re doing good, mama.

  72. It IS a beautiful world, yes it is.

  73. WHAT a blessing she is!!
    Our blessing in our family is my great niece, Katie…she has a congenital heart defect….and received her heart transplant this past Saturday night. She brings out the best in us and she IS my hero!

  74. You, Nella, and your family are such an inspiration to so many people. You are sharing your story, being open, putting yourself out there..and I really, really admire that! Thank you for this post. Thank you for not caring what other people think. Thank you for sharing your words, your pictures, your life with others – it is making a difference.

  75. Beautifully said…Whatever color you are, it’s touching lives, including mine…My little girl Pip is not yet a year but seeing Nella has brought such hope to all that is to come…
    t @ Happy Soul Project

  76. You’re an amazing mother and beautiful writer. Inspirational on both accounts.

  77. Just awesome!

  78. Nella is a beautiful child! What a great demonstration how ALL children have their strengths and weaknesses. My 2 and 3/4 year old boy just learned how swim – on his own! – and can play soccer like a little champ. He couldn’t tell me a letter though. :) They will ALL find their own place. :)

  79. Such a wonderful post, Kelle. I’ve been lurking on your site for years now. Love seeing the kids grow, your beautiful photos, your approach to life, Nella is such an inspiration and your voice in the special needs community is important…keep doin’ it :)

    Ericka @ The Sweet Life (sweetlifeericka.com)

  80. i have been a long time etst blog/instagram follower and have read Bloom 3 times, it has all touched me but this blog took my breath and made the sun look brighter in the sky. i handed my phone over (i was reading blog on my phone then watched nella’s learning video) to my best friend and watched the emotions on her face match my emotions. from grin, to full bloomed smile, to tears of joy. thank you, kelle for being so honest. i hope that you always have the strength to continue being honest. and nella is just as lucky to be yours as you are to be hers. with a momma like you, she’ll reach the stars and then some. <3

  81. i have been a long time etst blog/instagram follower and have read Bloom 3 times, it has all touched me but this blog took my breath and made the sun look brighter in the sky. i handed my phone over (i was reading blog on my phone then watched nella’s learning video) to my best friend and watched the emotions on her face match my emotions. from grin, to full bloomed smile, to tears of joy. thank you, kelle for being so honest. i hope that you always have the strength to continue being honest. and nella is just as lucky to be yours as you are to be hers. with a momma like you, she’ll reach the stars and then some. <3

  82. Nella is just as precious as can be!

  83. You are raising an amazing little woman. I don’t have my own baby yet (25 more weeks to go!!) I never knew anyone close to me growing up with Down’s syndrome. What you are doing with Nella is beautiful. The video made me cry. In a good way…

  84. I am so overwhelmed with joy. Nella is precious, and such a bright and beautiful light. And your family is amazing. Thank you for sharing this beautiful video.

  85. Well done, as always, Kelle. Especially the green & blue analogy. So true. This post is close to my heart as my sweet Levi is making huge progress lately and filling up all the little crevices of doubt or disappointment I used to have that I try to ignore. Such a fulfilling life he brings. Thanks again for connecting with my by sharing your heart. How I would love to meet you someday.

  86. You’re a BEAUTIFUL Mama Kelle. The world needs more Mums and Daughters like you and Nella!
    Love your work.
    Claire x
    http://claireeverafter.com/

  87. I love how she treats that puppet like a real person and never even looks at you! such imagination!

  88. Okay- I’m going to admit that I might have heard a gripe or two about you from “the community”. Nothing awful-bad, just people who might not agree. And that’s okay- but I’m glad you also said that “We’re in this together.” Because we are. We are all different people, with different perspectives, parenting just a little differently. Personally, I think the fact that you don’t publicly focus on Down syndrome is good for our “community.” We don’t all need to advocate the same way. It’s important to change attitudes about what Down syndrome is, but I also think that you just blogging about your daily routine and what makes you happy, shows people that Down syndrome is not a prison sentence. I think a lot of people needed to know that. :)

  89. I love it when you put it all out there. Those are your best posts. I have a lump in my throat after watching that sweet video of Nella. She’s amazing.

  90. Nella is so beautiful… this post bought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  91. It is my birthday today. And you’re little Nella rattling off her letters just completely made my day. Nella, you are amazing!!

  92. It is my birthday today. And you’re little Nella rattling off her letters just completely made my day. Nella, you are amazing!!

  93. absolutely beautiful. both this post and sweet nella. i can’t get enough pictures of her. what a doll!

  94. That video made me tear up :*) She is absolutely amazing!

  95. I would LOVE to have Nella in my Kindergarten class and I’m sure whoever her teacher is when that time comes will adore her. I taught a girl with Down Syndrome my second year of teaching and I still keep in touch with her family 6 years later because she was so special to me. I went to her dance recital when she was in 1st grade and I can remember vividly feeling shocked when her class came out on stage because I thought her stubborn streak had kicked in and she had refused to go on–then I realized she was there and I didn’t notice her at first because she didn’t stand out or look different than the other girls and that made me just about the proudest teacher in the world.

  96. What a gorgeous kid. Phyl

  97. I loved, loved, loved the video. She is truly an inspiration and example of amazingness!!

  98. Oh my Lord!! She is amazing…the difference in kids with DS never ceases to amaze me. While its obvious she does not have dyspraxia, its also obvious the impact her environment has on her. She is so stimulated, safe, cared for…she is a lucky girl and will be fine in life..

  99. I love watching Nella grow & learn. She always makes me smile and I speak of her as if I know her personally. She is a blessing and God is using you to teach many. Thanks for sharing her with all of us.
    Nancy

    p.s. I love watching Lainey and your precious baby boy too! Makes me wish my children were babies again!

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  101. She is beautiful . . . and her mother made me cry.

  102. I love it when your posts make me cry. It’s been awhile since I’ve commented but I felt compelled to do so tonight. I’m so glad you’ve decided not to hold back on your truest thoughts in your writing here on your blog. When I found your blog just after Nella’s birth I went back and read every single post you’d ever written, many of them making me cry. As you gained popularity I thought your writing seemed a bit like you were holding back. And I so get that. I’m a people pleaser too. I understand not wanting to offend or hurt. But I’m glad your feeling like you’re in a place now where you can write more freely. I so love that. I have three small children, none with special needs but you’re right…we are in this together. We’re all doing our best. I know I’m not the only one on this eve of a new school year looking back at pictures of my small babies or staring a little longer at them as they sleep wondering where the time has gone. Wondering what lies ahead and questioning if I have what it takes in steering my kids in the right direction. Yes, we’re all doing our best.

    I love you, Kelle Hampton. Your blog really has changed my life over these last few years. I’m so glad I had the chance to meet you last summer at your Michigan book signing. Keep doing what you’re doing…you do it so well.

    XOXO,
    Angie from Ohio (angiepics on Instagram)

  103. Beautiful video. Thank you!

  104. Pure love.

  105. A few things that I have partially said, but wish to express in your direction:

    1. You totally changed my attitude about having a Down’s syndrome child. I don’t have one, or even know that I will have children, but I do know my reaction would be totally and completely different than it would have been before your blog. How did people deal with adult life before the honest and beautiful expression that can be found in blogs? You experience totally changed what mine would be, if I ever had it.
    2. I have said this before, but I believe Nella could be the first supermodel with Downs Syndrome. Not saying that is what she should shoot for, cause the ceiling can’t hold her, but she very well could be the Linda Evagelista who mows a path for Ds models, because she of beautiful and has all kinds of personality and spunk.
    3.I think your family as a whole and all the parts I know are lovely, uplifting, inspiring….haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love.. Hold on to the good, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away, like this:
    Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

    Dinah Craik A Life for a Life, 1859

  106. She is beautiful and doing so well. I took care of my friends Autistic daughter for the first 8 years of her life. She did the First Steps program. When she started at age 3 was not talking She did the program for 2 years. By the end she had really blossomed. They had to move 8 hours away for a job and I miss her everyday. She is going in the 5th grade but is still locked in her own little world. Thank you for sharing!

  107. She is such a beautiful little girl, you are doing an amazing job. You have so much grace, it’s so inspiring. I have no doubt in my mind Nella will move mountains.

  108. This made me cry and the puppet made me laugh all in the best way possible. She just reminds me so much of my daughter Bella (3 with ds) whom you photographed at everybody plays campaign last year. I immediately ordered wordy worm for her! Wile Bella has a lot of words she cannot yet recognize letters and that was just amazing to see!!!!!!

  109. I’m new to your blog. I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon it but I’m so grateful for your candor, vulnerability, honesty and light. Thank you for sharing your world with me. It feels personal and lovely and I’m grateful.

  110. Well said. Thank you for so many years of inspiration.

  111. The video … tears in my eyes.

    Nella just oozes spirit and happiness. It’s like it is so overflowing it just drips from her pores. You can see it in pictures, in videos, in the words you use to describe her.

    I’m so glad you’ve allowed all your readers to come along on the journey with y’all. Because of Nella (and you), I feel like I’ve learned so much and I’m a part of this “community” as well, even though I don’t have as personal a connection to someone who has Down syndrome.

    I hope one day Nella will be able to look back at the mark she’s left and understand how much of a difference she’s made in so many lives … from as small to bringing a smile on Instagram to the bigger picture of changing attitudes and opening doors for the DS community.

    Nella is unstoppable. I can’t wait to see where she takes us all.

  112. So much love coming right back to you!

  113. Oh, beautiful and sweet mama…this is why you inspire so many with or without down syndrome in their lives. Love the blue and green analogy. Nella is just gorgeous inside and out. Like one commenter mentioned when she was having her 5th, I could so relate when I was having our last one. Because I was of advanced maternal age (not by much, but enough, where people in my life thought I was nuts for having another baby), your perspective gave me so much peace about knowing whatever happened, we would be okay. Not because a stranger could do, so I’ll be able to…but because you seemed to speak to my soul & I knew we’d be okay. I will forever be grateful for your perspective and honesty. Wishing you and your whole family many blessings.

    Much love from Tejas,
    Melissa

  114. I needed green desperately. I am forever grateful to you, your words and your inspirational photos that told me in my darkest hour that happiness was not lost. And you were right. Do I still struggle? Uh yeah. But do I laugh less, love less, enjoy life less…no. In the years ahead I know there will be more tough times. But I believe we set the tone for others on how they perceive or family and Down syndrome in it. I never ever thought I could having a waking moment that didn’t involve Ds. But now that’s changed and I give a much more balanced attention to everything in life. That’s good for me, that’s good for Dex. Anyway I’m with you. There’s a place for all kinds of voices in this community. And while we may not agree we should always respect. I’m just not a fan of the bullying because a lifestyle or idea or parenting style is different. Each has a place, a worth, a purpose. Again thank you for being you. You continue to inspire me.

  115. Oh, Kelle, that was beautiful! Thank you for sharing your journey with the world. It’s so wonderful to watch Nella grow and learn. She is a gorgeous little girl and so dang smart! I see no difference between her and my 3 year old. Absolutely precious. :-)

  116. Thank you for sharing your heart!!

    Nella is doing amazing!!! You are doing wonderful mama!!!! Thankful to be on this journey with you.

  117. We have been so thankful you have shared the story of Nella and all your little ones. Your blog is a steady reminder that Down Syndrome is only a small part of our story – and yes even the parts that still make us catch our breath as we brush away the tears are a pieces of a beautiful adventure we mamas are blessed to have unfold in our midst. My Ellie will soon be two and she has been nothing I imagined and more than I dreamed of – all at once. Thank you for sharing as you walk this road a few steps ahead of us – your photos and stories make our path brighter.

  118. Beautiful post Kelle… am typing through happy tears after watching your video… oh how I love hearing her sweet voice!

    And this, usually these “Down syndrome things” that we deal with are versions of “Not Down syndrome things” every kid deals with., was one of the biggest surprises to me when I had two more kids after Quinn. So much more the same than not.

    Like many other 7 year olds, Quinn is heading to 2nd grade next week… we are so proud of our boy! There are always challenges in a new year, but seeing how much he grows & learns alongside his typical peers, make it all worth it.

    Big love to you & yours,
    Kate

  119. She is beautiful, she is smart and most importantly; she is happy. You are doing a wonderful job raising her. It’s so obvious. Loved hearing her laugh on the video. Priceless!

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  121. What beautiful heart felt words and wonderful video. Nella and Mummy…you girls are doing great things together. xxx

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  123. That video touched my heart…i watched it twice! You are such a beautiful mama, keep on shinning your light. You are doing a great job! Sending my love!

  124. Beautiful post for a beautiful little girl xxx

  125. Hey!
    I don’t know if you already know about this program, but they have achieved really good results with their method: http://www.iahp.org/
    I have been on the course (my sister has brain injury), and I can tell you, it works! I even know a guy who had severe brain damage after car crash, doctors told he would never talk, walk, speak or even move, he would be like a veggie for rest of his life. His mom didn’t swallow that and after 3 years with this course he is talking, walking, going in gymnasium and even just got his driving licence!

    I know your situation is different, but they have really good program for down-syndrome too!
    You can order the book online, it’s called What To Do About Your Brain-injured Child by Glenn Doman. You can go a long way just by reading the book, but I can recomend the course too.

    xxx

  126. Beautiful, Kelle! You are such an inspiration! I envy that spark inside you….I have such trouble finding mine sometimes. You have a voice and a spirit that need to be heard and you’re doing that in the sincerest of ways. I am in awe of your beauty. xx a big fan from Greece xx

  127. My she’s growing Kelle. I haven’t popped by for a while, so busy busy here in the UK.
    I love the look of the Word Worm. We’ve been using Jolly Phonics and Ruth Miskin’s Read WRite Inc with similar success. It’s all about keeping it visual isn’t it.

    Much love from all at Downs Side Up
    Hayley
    x

  128. What a beautiful child and it looks and sounds like all is well. There are struggles in all families and we just need to always be thinking about turning out the positive and building on that. Keep doing what you are doing, being a terrific mommy to your 2 precious daughters and just know, so many appreciate you and your efforts along this pathway~

  129. Kelle, Thank you. Beautiful. Timely. Open – which is nothing less than I have come to expect reading your blog. 25+ years knowing about DS, 12+ professionally, and I learn something EVERY day. May you continue to find joy in little moments. More joy than you ever knew was there…
    Jennifer

  130. Thank you for this beautiful post. Nella is a sweetheart and I love seeing her learning and how she lights up with joy.

    FlowerLady

  131. Tears in my eyes. This is beyond beautiful, Kelle. I remember reading Nella’s birth story- back when you first wrote it. And sobbing, because my uncle has ds and I knew just how much JOY Nella would bring to you and the world. Thanks for being an inspiration, to mamas around the world, and for all the beauty you remind us to see.

  132. I am an Early Childhood Teacher and a mum with over 17 years experience at both, you are doing a great job, as a mum and as a teacher. That video brought tears to my eyes, she IS so clever, so beautiful and so strong :)

  133. I started following your blog when I was pregnant with my little girl. At our ultra sound we were told she might have down syndrome. I was terrified and depressed mad and lost. I thought our lives were basically over we had no hope of a normal life it was going to be doctors, medicine, taking care of a baby forever. Now I am so ashamed of the way I reacted! Your stories and pictures have taught me the down syndrome is just something people have NOT who they are! My daughter was born a “typical healthy” child and I am grateful but I also know that I would have loved and embraced my child no matter what and I truly feel Nella had A LOT to do with my new outlook on life!

  134. I have a daughter who is severely delayed in development (15 months, more on a 6 month old level) and in OT and Early Intervention. She has many sensory issues. I cannot pretend to know what you are experiencing with Downs, but there is so much of this post, the thinking, the goals you have for Nella, the way you view the situation, etc that overlap for me. Thank you for opening and sharing posts like this, when you see fit.

    So many of your thoughts resonated with me from your post but here’s one that really stuck:

    “there are also plateaus where she needs time to chew on what she’s learned and chill out for a while.”

    I need to remember this b/c sometimes I get impatient with how long it takes to see progress.But my sweet Clara is trying, so so hard, and sometimes her little brain needs a break, and that is normal, and ok. :)

  135. That lovely video just made my morning. No matter how crappy my day at work may become… nothing can take the joy from my heart today. You are doing an excellent job raising three wonderful kids. God bless you and your family.

  136. Nella, no ALL of your children are so lucky and blessed to have a mother like you. You sound like an amazing woman and mother and you should be so proud of all that you do. You inspire me to be a better mother, green, blue or whatever colour I choose. Thank you for such a beautiful post. If only all parents cared so much and passionately about their children.

  137. I get it. I’m constantly explaining to other moms that my “blue” parenting choice is not a referendum on their “green” parenting choice. It’s just a different choice…and that’s okay.

    Love the post!

  138. Totally cried watching the end of that video. She is going to do great things, and I feel privileged being able to see the beginning of it. Thank you for allowing us to peek in on your life, and for showing us how much of a rockstar Nella truly is.

  139. You have such a beautiful family, and beautiful story to tell. I love watching your family grow, and cherish so much that you’ve opened your lives to let us watch these milestones with Nella. She is just such a beautiful soul. God Bless you.

  140. Absolutely beautiful, as always Kelle. Nella is a gorgeous young lady! My daughter (same age as Nella) was eating her breakfast next to me while I was reading and when I got to the picture of her in the white dress eating a popsicle, she said “I want to be a princess just like her!”

    The hearts and minds of these babies are just amazing. I love hearing about your journey. It’s simply inspiring!

    ~Stacy

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  142. Happy tears this morning :) she is simply amazing. As a professional in the field of special education, as well as a sister to a man with Down syndrome, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story and showing the world just how special these individuals are. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We are all in this together!!

  143. OK I start my day reading your awesome posts and now today I start my day with tears. Happy tears. this post is simply amazing. thank you for being so open with us. My daughter is differantly abled as well and I feel your words all the way to my core. Again, thank you for your openness. Christina a preemie mom

  144. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Our family is just beginning as Lucy Jolene was just born May 28th. We are truly blessed. Your blog is so inspirational & uplifting for those of us who are a few steps behind you and your insights into your beautiful daughters development, challenges can only help families like us who aren’t sure what to expect. Thank you!

  145. I was holding it together very nicely watching that video (if I do say so myself) until the very end, “I’m strooooong”. Oh yes, Nella. You are. What a smart, beautiful, STRONG girl. Love it.

  146. Girlfriend- Really a sweet little Nella moment. Love the video!! Heaps!!!

    so much love to y’all!!

    xoxo

  147. In the 3 years that I have been reading your blog, you have ripped open my heart in the very best way and have taught me so many things, not just about down syndrome, but about living. REALLY living. thank you. Nella is unstoppable with you all by her side. hugs!

  148. What a little sweetheart she is! Thank you for sharing the video with us.

  149. When I was pregnant with my son (my first child – who is 3 months old now), I remember worrying about all of the ‘what if’s’. Among the many things I found to worry about, I worried that my son would have Down’s Syndrome. And then I thought to myself, “Well, if he does, then that will be ok. It will be just fine.” And part of that was because of you, Kelle. Because I’ve watched you mother Nella for the last couple of years. I’ve watched you learn and grow, and realized that Down’s Syndrome is not a terrible, life-ending diagnosis. No. It comes with challenges and difficulties, yes. But it also comes with profound joy and beauty. Nella is gorgeous, and so smart and strong. Usually, when reading your posts, I honestly forget that she even has Down Syndrome. She is a sweet, sweet child just like any other. My son arrived in May, and did not have Down’s Syndrome, but you can’t know how relieved I was to know that I would have been ok with it had he did have it. Thank you so much for educating your readers, advocating for your daughter, and for showing us all that both blue and green are necessary:)

    The video brought tears to my eyes. So precious.

  150. Kelle, I don’t usually read your blog but occasionally check to see how Nelle is doing. I don’t think we have much in common except we both have a young daughter with Down Syndrome. But I loved this particular blog. I agree with everything you said. Sorry if you were hurt by things other parents said. I realize we are a
    diverse community. We all come with different shapes and colors. I do believe there is a room for advocacy for EVERYBODY. Just be who you are and keep doing what you’ve been doing!

  151. Best video ever. I read every post, I watch every video, I look at every picture but that video really showed me you as a mother, the type I want to be someday. I feel like I know you and Nella even better with this post and that little 1 minute video. Beautiful way to start a morning, thanks Kelle!

  152. I liked this a lot

  153. Kelle, thank you for your thoughts and for sharing. You are sure an inspiring mother – and not only for moms of kids with DS. Nella is gorgeous, congrats!

  154. She’s an adorable little girl.

  155. OH my word Kelle….Nella is such a lucky girl to have you as a mama! You are right…she is smart and beautiful and strong…soooo strong….just like her mama!
    Karaleen

  156. Beautiful – so simple, so beautiful.

  157. Oh, the end of the video…LOVE!

  158. Wonderful post- totally choked up reading it. Nella is just amazing!

  159. Kelle, I read your blog pretty religiously and I have for almost a year now. I’m expecting my first child in November and whenever I start over-thinking what the future is going to be like, I look at your blog and it grounds me, it really does. I am reminded to just go with the flow and deal with whatever comes my way because it all works out in the end, somehow. The way you are raising your children with such grace, confidence and beauty is really an inspiration and I hope I can manage to be as great a mother as you are. Thanks for posting–about everything.

  160. I´ve got tears in my eyes after seeing the video. Nella is such a beautiful and special girl, but you know what? She´s also the smartest one I know because she chose you to be her mother. That´s probably her smartest decision in life. She couldn´t have asked for a better, more loving and caring mommy.

    Love from Norway

  161. I’m a one family nanny, not a mom, but I try to teach my little girl that she is not only beautiful, but funny, smart and strong. She flexes every time I ask her and tell her she’s strong as well. Nella cracks me up! Such a beautiful spirit. You go girls!

  162. What a beautiful video! I am constantly falling more in love with you, your writing, and your family and Nella’s strength and smarts. That girl is truly smart and I’m learning from her every single day I visit your blog.

    p.s. As someone who’s worked/volunteered/taught in preschool settings, Nella is incredibly smart for 3 1/2 years old! There are tons of four year olds I know who are still working on their letter recognition. Great job to both you + Nella!

  163. Tears in my eyes. Beautiful, just beautiful!

  164. She’s a doll. And that laugh? omg, so adorable! I love your blog and especially love little Nella.

  165. And I just cried like a baby at work but sooo in love with the post and the video. <3

  166. Beautifully said Kelle, and that video is precious! Nella is an amzing girl

  167. What a great post! Bravo. Nella is growing up so fast, she is beautiful! The video is wonderful.
    Candy

  168. Thank you so much for sharing this, Kelle. Nella is such an incredible little girl!

  169. That video made my heart smile. Lainey and Nella and Dash are all so beautiful; I love watching them learn and grow through your pictures. I hope I can be as good of a mom as you are someday.

  170. Oh, my…. I am crying. Your movie of Nella is beautiful. You are so kind to share with all of us. I love the part of your post when you say….”but I can do what mama bears to. We love like it’s our job. We work hard. We push our kids so that they learn to survive because when they survive, we survive. So, I push her. I push her to try new things, to explore the world, to meet new people and the be adventurous.” Well said. I just watched my 18 year old drive away with his Dad as he goes to college – his first year – several states away. I said, “Amen” to your words. You are a good mama. Be brave and lean into God.

  171. Wow, Kelle. Just wow.

  172. Awesome post today! Loved it all. Of course I was brought to tears.

  173. *tears, hot, tears running down my face..at work*

    I have yet to have children. I’m 30 and it seems that on a daily basis I think of the fact that maybe this decision should be made soon. Maybe I should settle down and have children “before I’m too old” as my mom says. But we all have our stories and mine has shown me such ugliness in the world that sometimes I’m unsure whether or not I want to bring another life into the world to experience it. But your blog, your blog, it gives me so much hope. There is good in the world. There is darkness, sure, but after that comes light. Beautiful, glorious light that we all just have to CHOOSE to partake in. What a blessing Nella is to the world. She’s taught everyone so much, either by having her in your life daily, or through this blog. Dance on sweet girl, you’re making us all dance with you.

  174. This made me cry! I loved the video and I love how proactive you are being to make the most of Nella and her beautiful life. It’s amazing what you are doing with her.
    You are inspiring!

  175. Nella is the perfect gift, she’s like one of those pass the parcel gifts with a new layer of pretty paper and a little gift for each party visitor inside! We haven’t even gotten to the big inside gift yet! Every day along with some of the pain and worry you must be overwhelmed with love.
    I think that initial pain may always be there, I know I will always feel that helpless feeling followed by grand love I have for our girls every time I think of seeing them in their cots for the first time.

    Thank you for sharing, even though you don’t have to. But you must all be so proud of your Nella Cordelia xxx
    P.s. love seeing the little skirt all the way from Oz. makes me smile.

  176. Wonderful post. It’s so so true that there’s no greater pain than knowing that your child is hurting. My daughter has severe food allergies and currently has only two safe foods. It’s very difficult to see new food trials fail over and over. But your attitude inspires me to focus on the good and keep moving forward. Things will be hard but there is so much to be thankful for as well. Nella is a beautiful little girl and it’s wonderful that she’s doing so well, going at her own pace, and dancing the whole way. :)

  177. That post was so touching! I love your attitude about life, and family and love. You make me want to be a better mama.

    Thank you.

  178. Absolutely beautiful. Love the video… so smart.

    xo

  179. Beautiful post, Kelle! You are so doing everything right in not worrying about saying the ‘right’ thing all the time. Nella is so beautiful, smart and strong!! Crying!!

    xoxo

  180. I am bawling like a baby! Thank you for sharing that video in particular. She is so beautiful and lovely and amazing and I could watch her learn and explore all day long. :)

  181. Great post! Nella seems to be doing an awesome job! And so are you!

  182. Nella is perfect just the way she is. She is very blessed to have you, Brett and Lainey in her life. Beautiful words and video…now excuse me while I find a Kleenex.

  183. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your life! It inspires me to be a better mom! My girls thank you for that!

  184. The video is absolutely precious. She is learning and growing and is full of confidence. I truly believe that she will achieve all that she believes she can – and that will be a lot!

  185. I have a son that is the same age as Nella who was born with only half his heart. We were prepared for a lifetime of things he wouldn’t be able to do, but have instead spent the last 3.5 years being blown away by all that he CAN do! Special Needs is nothing like I thought it would be. He has changed me (and challenged me) in ways I never imagined. You always put my feelings into words so well. Love sweet Nella!

    Also, she’d for sure learning the same things he is! She’s so right on target!

  186. Be still my heart. Tears streaming down my face. Beautiful writing. Amazing attitude. Gorgeous little girl. And that last part of the video, my goodness, my heart exploded. Congratulations and keep it up Kelle and your whole fam!! Love to all.

  187. this is such a beautiful heartfelt post.

  188. Kelle! What a beautiful little girl you have, and what a beautiful post this is. I love hearing about Nella’s journey and her struggles and triumphs. You have really opened my eyes to the world of Down Syndrome and how it can be a true, true blessing. I am so thankful for your openness, and I know that you are impacting hundreds and hundreds of people, just like you have impacted me. And I love that video! My favorite of all the videos you’ve done. Rock on, Nella!

  189. Good job, Kelle! The video was precious.

  190. Thank you for sharing Nella with all of us. Seeing her puts a smile on my face. She is beautiful! and you are an amazing mama.

    My niece is 2 1/2 and there’s a girl in her Daycare with DS and my niece has fallen in love with her.

    I’m sure Nella will do just fine. She has you as her teacher, and she knows so much right now. She will only continue to learn and soar.
    xo to Nella :)
    PS I read your book! You are an amazing writer as well!

  191. So beautiful! Thanks for the cry!!!

  192. and i think to myself….it’s a wonderful world.

  193. LOVE!

  194. She is just so beautiful and precious. Thanks for continuing to share the Story of Nella (and Lainey and Dash) with us.

  195. Your posts are ALWAYS so touching and inspirational and they always always make my teacher heart smile so big! The passion you have for your children, their education, and their futures and it is so heartwarming! You’re doing big things mama, for Down Syndrome and parenting in general!

  196. Kelle….
    Before I begin my comment. Did you know that actor Jamie Foxx has a sister with Down syndrome? I stumbled across this little fact the other day. He is proud to have a sibling with Down syndrome!! I can totally relate. πŸ˜‰
    “There is so much this little girl has to offer the world and that we possess the unique privilege of helping her believe and achieve that truth.”. Mmmm…. πŸ˜‰
    “I want Nella to have as many opportunities as she can to live a happy, fulfilling life. I cannot change the physiological parts of her body that limit her, but I can do what mama bears do. We love like it’s our job. We work hard. We push our kids so that they learn how to survive because when they survive, we survive.”. Mmmm…. πŸ˜‰
    “We all have our pain, our issues, our struggles that make us who we are. I value mine. I need that pain and struggle to contrast all the good, the growth, the happiness. Juxtaposition–an important element of art.”. Mmmm…. πŸ˜‰
    “The best way I know how to deal with that is to accept Nella for the beautiful girl she is and to make every effort to help her soar, to live a life of enjoying the things that were given to us so that my child learns how to do that too. And if I can make a dent in the world around me, possibly inviting them to accept people with differences and make efforts to help them soar–well that would be awesome.”. Mmmm…. πŸ˜‰
    –Raelyn

  197. I never really thought about the topic of special needs before stumbling upon your blog…and it opened my eyes. I now try to do more to advocate for those with special needs. It’s funny how things never really cross your mind…until they are suddenly written on your heart. http://perfectlyimperfecterin.blogspot.com/

  198. She is smart, she is beautiful, she is strong!!! WOW- best post ever, video made me cry- Congratulations Nella & Hampton Family!! Xoxo

  199. For the record, Kelle, you were NOT rambling in this post! It was absolutely beautiful, as is Nella! She is so cute, and so full of potential – and she’s got the cutest voice! I just want to hug her! :)

  200. Love. Thank you for sharing your beautiful girl, your family, your words, your images, your heart with us. You’re so right – we’re all in this together, whichever way we choose to display our colours x

  201. You have a beautiful family. I love your blog and your pictures… They say so much! Keep loving!

  202. Hi Kelle

    I loved this post and totally get everything you are saying. I think you are an amazing mom and I want to thank you for sharing part of your life with us…you are such a great resource for me. I wanted to ask about the Wordy Word program. I have been looking into getting a reading program for Maddie and would love to know what “kits” you are using for Nella. Do you have the complete program or just parts? Thanks so much for being real. There are times when looking at your pictures I can see my girls in your pictures…they have the same relationship. And Maddie would love to dance with DJ Nella one day – they would have to share their favorite moves.

    {{hugs}}
    Lisa Goddard

  203. Kelle, I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year, but never commented before. I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but I’ll write anyway. I found out about it when someone posted a link with Nella’s story on my twitter feed. I’m 23 years old and I’m from Brazil (your words go worldwide, girl!). I don’t have children nor do I know anyone close to me with Down Syndrome (although my mom had a friend with a little girl who had down syndrome and we would have some play dates when I was little. I couldn’t be older than 8 the last time I saw her, she was a couple of years older than me, but I still remember her with so much kindness), but I’ve always loved reading stories about families, and relationships and somehow, I’ve always been curious about DS.

    I don’t need to say how touched I was with Nella’s birth story, and how happy I was to find out that it had happened a couple of years before and you kept blogging about your life and how your girls were growing up. I adore photography, so with your beautiful shots plus a amazing way of writing, I was hooked.

    I love reading your blogs and looking at your pictures, they have so. much. life. I became a professional photographer a while ago and you’re such an inspiration. That’s what I try to get when I photograph, life.

    I think somehow I like it all so much because you remind me so much of my own mother. I was born when she was really young, but our family has always been so close and full of love. She was a kindergarten teacher throwout my entire childhood, so a lot of the crafting things I see you doing with your girls takes me back to those years with my mom. And the books. OMG, those were my favorite times. Till theses days, I’m a bookworm. The details you take while organizing their parties, everything brings back so many great memories. I really want to have children some day, and I always tell my mother that if I end up being half the mother she is, my kids will be very lucky, and I’m certain your children will feel the same way about you. They are so blessed to have such an amazing mother.

    Back to Nella, after reading your blog for so long, now I feel like I know you and your family personally (it’s kind of weird, isn’t it? Kind of like a celebrity kind of thing, I know you, but you have no idea who I am), so whenever I see Nella achieving something, I feel so proud of her too. This post brought tears to my eyes and mostly that video.

    She’s so smart, Kelle. I mean it. I know a lot of children, children without DS and older than Nella, and they have no idea about the letters. And there you have your incredible little girl, knowing all that already at only age 3. Another video that really touched me was that one of her playing peek-a-boo with Dash and asking “Where did he go”. She’s so, so, so precious.

    I swear, that now when I read your posts, I forget she has down syndrome. I see her as a beautiful, adorable, perfect little girl.

    Oh, and Lainey. She’s so precious too. You often make me weep when you talk about your kids. What a great kid she is! And I have no doubt it’s a reflection of the way you raise her.

    I want to have to children someday and I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that now if I happen to have a child with DS, I will deal with it so much better than I would without reading your blog. You inspire people and you give us hope. So, I’d like to thank you. Very much.

  204. Love this post and all your posts. If I heard you speak somewhere I swear I would stand and give you an “AMEN” and I am totally not an “AMEN” kinda girl. You just bring it out of me when I read your posts LOL

    I LOVE when Nella shows her muscles and says she is “SO STRONG”!

    I am thankful for your blog,
    Michelle

  205. I totally love everything about this last blog post. Your honesty, it is so wonderful to read and I appreciate it so very much.

  206. Oh oh oh that video. I am amazed at how loving you are, how creative you are, and how well you teach Nella (and Lainey and Dash, too). That video put tears in my eyes at the very end and I can’t thank you enough for sharing! My husband really wants children now and I’m a little scared to say yes because everything is so unexpected, but your blog and that video gives me all the confidence in the world to be a mother. Thank you for sharing always :)

  207. Oh oh oh that video. I am amazed at how loving you are, how creative you are, and how well you teach Nella (and Lainey and Dash, too). That video put tears in my eyes at the very end and I can’t thank you enough for sharing! My husband really wants children now and I’m a little scared to say yes because everything is so unexpected, but your blog and that video gives me all the confidence in the world to be a mother. Thank you for sharing always :)

  208. O.M.GOSH….that video. Wow, I am totally teared up right now about to spill over. I have to say, she may be doing better than my “non-designer gene” 5 year old with her letters! Bravo. She really is so smart and so beautiful and so strong. I really love what you are doing for the “face of Down syndrome” in the non-official sense of the term. You are living your life, loving your kids and it is truly awesome to see. Thank you!

  209. There is beauty in all that we do. I am so glad that you are giving Nella all the opportunities in the world. She was born to the perfect mother and family. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    http://www.paintingmariposasinthesky.com

  210. Great blog post Kelle. Yay for Nella!

  211. Dev is 16 (going on 17..)your post remind my of when our kids were little. More alike than different by far. We are better parents, people because of what our kids bring to our lives. We are at http://www.raiseExpectations.com
    Thanks for your blog :-)

  212. That video is so precious. Thank you, Kelle. You are a beautiful person with a huge loving heart who is a wonderful mama. I’m a step-mama and your words help me through some tough moments. Thank you.

  213. Oh Kelle! On behalf our green and blue and even sneaky purple. THANK YOU! For this post. We are all Mama’s together and we all feel our babies sadness and struggles. The perfect post for starting a new school year!

  214. You are a great mom. Well done.

  215. Thanks for sharing your precious family with the world.

  216. I couldn’t love this post any more. You are an inspiration to us all, Kelle!

  217. Oh, Kelle. I know this is comment number two hundred and something, but I’ll still post.
    We just celebrated my daughter’s 19th birthday. I broke down and cried like a baby in the middle of writing it.

    (http://alittlebluesky.blogspot.com/2013/08/friday-ramblings_8.html)

    Pink, green, blue, whatever. What a gift our children are. The things you are working on with Nella at 3 1/2 are amazing..things have come a long way in 19 years and they will continue. Thanks for leading the way for this new generation.
    xo
    lynn

  218. I can’t believe it’s been three and a half years now that I’ve been following your blog! I love you and your beautiful family, and dream of having one like it some day:). I can’t believe how big Nella is…totally started crying when I watched the video. You are a great momma!!!

  219. Oh my goodness, that video of Nella brought tears to my eyes! Keep doing what you’re doing, Kelle. So much love from one mama to another!

  220. You are such an amazing mother, wife, woman, person. thank you for sharing your world….it makes our worlds so much richer!

  221. That. was. beautiful.

  222. She is beautiful!

  223. Oh my gosh, what are you doing to me?! My precious boy is 3 weeks old and we received our prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis at 18 weeks. You have truly been my life raft as I navigated these scary new waters. THANK YOU! You give me so much hope & honestly, I’m excited to see who he is and to be his student. Hugs and more hugs!
    Jill

  224. It made my day to watch Nella showcase some of the amazing things she is capable of. What a bright little girl! And you are such a fabulous mama. I would love to see more videos like this in the future!

  225. So inspirational! Wow, I’m crying.

  226. I just loved this post! You’re right, we are all in this together. That really made me smile as I think about my child with special needs. His needs are different and our paths are inevitably different because of that, but we are ALL so much the same in so many ways, especially in our hopes and dreams for our children, special needs or not! My daughter and I enjoyed the video of Nella. Hearing her sweet little voice made us both smile! Thank you so much for the update and encouragement! :)

  227. This is said wonderfully. While I know my situation was entirely different with Noah, when I did start blogging while he was still going through his treatment, it wasn’t something I felt like focusing on either- I get that. Honestly I just wanted to share about our life – and while I know maybe some could have been more informed or even helped if I had written about it, it would have been fake & forced for me if I always wrote about just his special needs and treatment.

    Anyway- love to you!
    Steph

  228. You write SO beautifully…It’s so precious.

  229. Beautiful! Thanks, Kelle!

  230. That video was the sweetest <3. Thank you for sharing!

  231. Thank you, Kelle, from the grandmother of a precious, little one (3 years old) with that priceless extra chromosome, with this incredible post! I’ve tagged your IG with a picture of our Sarah because she and Nella could be sisters . . . uncanny! Sarah’s mommy, my daughter-in-love and several others in my family, follow your blog . . . we ALL are in love with Nella because we are ALL in love with our Sarah!
    You’ve put into words what we have not been able to sometime or that have opened us up to feelings, awareness and so much more that we didn’t even know we needed. We are hopelessly IN LOVE with our Sarah and are in AWE of all that she has brought to our life in her short lived existence. We stand at the edge of all that she will teach US . ..
    Again, thank you for bringing so much to the world of our world!
    http://www.debramalone.com

  232. Kelle,
    I’ve been reading your blog for just about 3 years and I’ve never commented.
    As many others have said, the video was a precious and beautiful way for you to show us your Nella. I am a first grade teacher and hearing the /b/ for B made me beam!

    Keep up the wonderful work. You are an inspiration.

    With love from Baltimore.
    Lisa

  233. Wow! She knows so much, and she’s SOOOO beautiful, and that laugh, well, it’s magical.

  234. You`r doing a great job! Love from Norway…

  235. Kelle, I’m grateful for your blog; grateful for your truth; grateful for your viewpoint. One of my favorite quotes is: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is not.” Maybe it’s semantics to most, but my son Patrick (who happens to be 14 and blessed with an extra chromosome) is the LEAST suffering person I know — even when he went through hellish leukemia. Suffering isn’t necessarily going to be a requirement on this road. Patrick more than anyone knows how to live…I get the feeling that Nella does too. :) Thanks for your words and your photos. They are beautiful! ~Beth
    http://www.grace-in-the-ordinary.blogspot.com

  236. Loved this posting and Nella’s photos reveal the precious little girl she is! My brother Scott has an extra chromosome too…he will be 50 in December. I sent you a separate email about him Kelle.

  237. I love Nella so much! She reminds me of my daughter Tess who is just about a year ahead of her. Thanks so much for your blog! What kind of tricycle is that? We haven’t found one that fits our girl. And I know you’ve mentioned before where you got those barrettes, but I couldn’t find it last I looked. They seem like they’d work well with fine hair, which my Tess has. And I’m still waiting for that tutorial on getting those little hair knots to stay so securely; they are so adorable! Thanks again!

  238. Awesome post & video was wonderful too! All three of your kiddos have everything they need to grow up as happy adults as u are setting the foundation for success by loving & nurturing them each & every day!! When I have the opportunity to read your blog it always reminds me to look for the good so thank you!!

  239. Nella is gorgeous and so clever! My son turns 3 this September and he is no where near letter recognition yet…so yeah, I think Nella is smashing it out of the park :)
    My four year old daughter made me watch this twice…she was a huge fan of your puppet antics. Lovely vid x

  240. Hi, You always bring a tear to my eye, manly happy ones. I have so loved watching your kids get older and seeing Nella since she was a baby. My little Hannah is 7 and with Ds and I love looking back in time at age 3. PS her speech is amazing, she is beautiful, enjoy.

  241. Kelle — I hope you will see my comment and post about it later….I am wondering where – o – where did you get that puppet?? I believe so strongly in the power of puppets to bring children out of their shells. Seeing Nella giggle when your puppet followed her…precious! Thanks for sharing.

  242. Where-o-where did you find that puppet?

  243. Such a beautifully written post. I personally do not know much about DS but from following you for the last 3 yrs since Nellas birth, I think you are making great strides on the NDS community. I feel as though you are a wonderful advocate through the way you live your life and the things you do within your community. You can never please everyone, but as long as you feel good about yourself at the end of the day, thats all that really matters :)

  244. Kelle, you make me happy every time I come here.

  245. Oh my goodness, she is precious!

  246. she is so precious!

  247. I am crying. beautiful post. beautiful video. beautiful intelligent girl. xo!

  248. So beautiful. My hat’s off to you :-). And Nella!

  249. Your blog was a redirect from one of the many blogs i looked over during what i call a “desperate time” . I would like to genuinely thank you for having the courage to write it. I know it has helped a lot of people, i know it definitely helped me. :)

  250. She is such a beautiful little soul! My littlest sister has down syndrome (she is 18 now) and she learned to read by having the captions on when watching her favorite movies. There was something about that connection…

  251. Kelle, I have been following ETST for quite some time, and now that I am the mother of an 18-month-old girl, I feel like I can really relate in previously unknowable ways. I generally like to think of myself as a tough cookie, but holy cow the video of Nella learning set off the water works. I’m a college instructor, and I am teaching two developmental (previously called “remedial”) courses this semester for the first time. There was something about this blog post that has given me more confidence in the way that I see these students. Everyone has the capacity to learn remarkable things; it is just up to us (teachers, parents, community members) to help them (to borrow your words) believe and achieve this truth. That’s so beautiful.

    Also, I did the beauty pageant queen frantically waving away the tears thing just now. I’m in my office, about to run to class, and Nella growling after you said “I am strong!” really got me bawling. She’s a wonderful girl, and I am so grateful that you share your life so openly with the rest of us.

  252. Personally, Lovely Kelle, I don’t even think about Down syndrome when I read about/see photos of Nella. I don’t see a disability. She is simply a beautiful, funny little girl! Just like her Big Sister and her Baby Brother, she is a child who is loved and valued..by her family and by me.
    I am glad that you are keeping her in the Nest for another year. Soon enough, she’ll be ready to fly and you will be more at ease, watching her take that first flight. It won’t ever be easy to let her go out into the world without you, but This Year, she gets to crawl up under your wing when she needs to.
    Love You, Friend! ~ Jo

  253. Personally, Lovely Kelle, I don’t even think about Down syndrome when I read about/see photos of Nella. I don’t see a disability. She is simply a beautiful, funny little girl! Just like her Big Sister and her Baby Brother, she is a child who is loved and valued..by her family and by me.
    I am glad that you are keeping her in the Nest for another year. Soon enough, she’ll be ready to fly and you will be more at ease, watching her take that first flight. It won’t ever be easy to let her go out into the world without you, but This Year, she gets to crawl up under your wing when she needs to.
    Love You, Friend! ~ Jo

  254. The video just made me tear up. What a special girl and what an amazing Mom you are. Blessings.

  255. Hi Kelle,
    I have been following you since Nella’s birth also. My Vivian who is 5 just started full inclusive kindergarten yesterday. It scares me only because of the unknown, but I know she can do it!!
    It’s amazing how much beauty can come from one person like you and her family. It touches me so much. Thank you,
    Jennifer

  256. What e beautiful entry and video Kelle. Thank you sharing!

  257. Hi Kelle. I stumbled upon your blog thru a pinterest entry, and I am so glad I did. I’ve only read “A Birth Story” and this entry, but plan on bookmarking your site. Nella is gorgeous! Her spirit is so radiant and just by the video clip I can tell there is so much Love in your family. You are such an inspiration and your story is beautiful. Touched every one of my heart strings. Thank you so much for sharing.

  258. I work with adults with special needs, I’ve worked with a woman who has down syndrome and I am currently working with a really sweet gentleman that is autistic. I have to say they are some of the most amazing, smart, kind hearted people I have ever met. Your video is truly beautiful, I almost cried. Like many others have said you are doing an amazing job! Thank you for sharing such an awesome video <3

  259. @Peggy Lyn,
    The puppet is a Melissa and Doug puppet. You can find a large collection of them on Amazon and very fairly priced.

  260. I absolutely LOVE the video at the end! Our girls are very close in age. My daughter is younger and has gone through some serious medical issues but watching Nella speak and read makes me so excited for when my Vada will, because I know she will! So cool! I am so glad that you shared that! Thanks and blessing!

  261. omg, I just want to squeeze her she is so cute!!!

  262. WOW! Nella is absolutely amazing, she is just so gorgeous! Her and Dash look so alike.

    Thank you for sharing her (and your family) with the world!

    Bec, In Australia :)

  263. Kelle-

    I am not sure if you will get this or not, but I just had time to catch up on your posts. This was perfect timing! We are all in this together!! I have a little one with CP, and am dealing with her schooling and learning etc. this post was exactly what I needed. Thank you for all you do! I am always inspired.

  264. Oh *tears* I just love who you are Kelle!!!

  265. What a BEAUTIFUL, precious, video!!! you have a beautiful heart, Kelli!

  266. As someone who is with you in this race called humanity, I find it everyday with my daughter Lily. Just had a nightmare where Lily was approaching a grizzly bear. Woke up and needed to distract myself so I looked up Ds Blogs. Was reading yours and thinking that in real life Lily would approach a bear thinking “a new friend” but her parents would prevent it. Where is the happy medium of letting Lily change the world but not letting the world change Lily?

  267. Your video brought tears to my eyes! She is smart, beautiful, and strong!

  268. Those green shoes….! Can I ask where they come from?? I like the brown ones as well actually….

  269. This was beautiful. Thank you.

  270. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so moved to happy tears. What a beautiful little lady you have there. you are so INCREDIBLY blessed. Cheers!

  271. We just started to read your book in our book club. As I read about your journey and explore your blog, I was beginning to wonder if Nella has Mosaic DS. The actress on Glee has mosaic DS. Not all of her body cells carry the extra chromosome. Only some of them do!

  272. You, your family, your daughter – you are all beautiful, magical people! I am inspired by you all!

  273. This is one of the best blog posts I have EVER read. You guys thrive and are an inspiration to every parent. Not just those of special needs children. Your honesty about struggles and the light of hope you provide is incredible.

    You’ll now always be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for making such an impact<3

  274. I just stumbled upon your blog. You are such an inspiration, and your little Nella is so beautiful. You are doing such an amazing job, and I am wildly impressed.
    Sending love to you and your family.

  275. Wow, you are making me look bad, lol. My child just turned 3 1/2 yesterday and he cannot do many of the things you mention Nella doing/working on…and he doesn’t have a learning disability. He can throw a ball, but not catch. He cannot hold a pencil properly, nor draw shapes, nor cut paper. He knows some of his letters, but not their sounds, and is not learning how to read. All kids develop at different rates. But it seems like you are giving your daughter a real jump on the basics. Well done!
    Found a link to one of your blogs while looking something up on BabyCenter, and now have read several of them. Thanks so much for sharing.

  276. I just found your blog today and have spent way way way too much time enjoying it. You are truly gifted with words and I thank you for sharing your journey. I am a 33 year old, single and childless, living in a city, and yet I feel so connected to you as a women. Kudos to living such a full life and raising your family with such gusto and humility at the same time.

  277. I am so in love with Nella!!! She is so beautiful, smart and wears the most awesome shoes!!!! You are doing an amazing inspiring job mom! Thank you for allowing us into your beautiful life!

    Blessings & Love

  278. Your little girl is so beautiful in the photographs, I’m sure she’s even lovelier in person. You write wonderfully and powerfully about your challenges and your love.

    You are a real credit to motherhood!

  279. This is super old, but somehow I ended up here. Every time I see a more recent picture of Nella I can’t believe how much she’s grown from when I started reading your blog. She’s become such a little girl and not a baby.

    That video was precious and after crying, I realized OMG, THERE IS A UNIVERSAL PUPPET VOICE. Because I have a video from I think 1986 of my aunt helping me brush my teeth with a Sesame Street Bert puppet. Whose mannerisms, inflections, and voice were exactly the same. And I am pretty sure that when I have talked through puppets to children, they ALSO have been the same.

  280. This post is just wonderful. I absolutely adored the video! What a little sweetheart Nella is. I’m wondering, do you have a post on DS specifics? My son is two and also has DS. I’d love to hear more about your everyday journey including things like diet and therapies, etc. Nella really seems like she’s thriving- clearly you’re doing so many things right! :)

  281. My son will be 2 in July . I love your blog and would love to hear from other moms with kids with DS my sons age . If anyone wants to contact me please do so I would love to connect. :)

  282. Just discovered your blog. Watching your Vimeo of Nella and reading your words have touched me in an amazing way.
    I know God is smiling on your sweet family as you treasure your family.

    Melanie

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