featured image nella dash

Three Years Apart, Two Hearts Together: A Report Card of Siblings with Special Needs

“Hold Dash,” she says, skipping to the couch where she climbs into her spot—the same spot she’s sat to hold him since his pink wrinkled feet were stained with ink from his birth certificate prints. She pulls a pillow under her left arm to prop his head up–as if he needs it–extends her arms and waits, beaming with such big sister pride, you’d expect a swaddled newborn to be handed to her followed by camera clicks and flashes. Instead, skinny toddler legs awkwardly dangle as I attempt to cradle and transfer Dash—all 37 inches of him–into the space on her lap without a kick to her face. He smiles and plays along; he knows the drill.

“Oh, look at the baby,” I coo, tucking a blanket under Dash’s chin while Nella pats his legs and snuggles him close. They both giggle, realizing this is a bit silly now, but no doubt enjoying the charade—him, for the attention; her, for the chance to be the biggest, the nurturer, the one he looks up to.

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Later in the day, they swim together. Nella wears a life jacket and sits on the first pool step where the sisterhood of Barbies is currently gathered, their naked bodies floating in a circle. She talks to her dolls excitedly, words pouring out so quickly, they overlap into jumbled phrases that are broken by laughter and occasional talking tos—“No Barbie! You bein’ mean!”—because sometimes those girls get out of hand. Dash joins her for a moment, but the promise of underwater adventures granted by his new swimming skills is too good. He’s off, away from the edge, free from a life jacket, kicking, paddling, pushing distance and depth and breath limits. He jumps and waits for us to clap, again and again and again. Nella smiles and claps too.

In a blur of two years, he’s caught up to a place we knew he’d get to, a place we talked about before he was even born. He’s mastered what she’s mastered, chasing the next thing—a surge of new vocabulary words, a size 10 shoe, the discovery of how to slip a key into a door, turn it left and unlock it with a click!—with a speed we’ll never get used to. Her baby–the one who once sucked the finger she crammed into his mouth when he fussed; the one she patted to sleep, pushing our hands away when we tried to assist–is no longer a baby but nearly her twin, a bond strengthened by the sharing of everything–height, clothes, cups, car seats, secrets, conspiracy theories. One never requests a Popsicle or a cheese stick or a pretzel bag without asking for one to share. “For Nella,” Dash asks. “For Dash,” Nella says.

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While their bond will never break, their window of campatibility is slowly closing, and I feel it for her. She wants to be bigger, the helper, the teacher and he’s often helping her now. The flip side is, of course, that he pushes her along, becoming another valuable resource in her life. Here, let me show you how to climb this bookshelf. Hey Nella, follow me. I Shawshank’d a secret tunnel into the locked pantry. She’s learning so much! Siblings are motivating forces–I have mine to thank for attempting many new things. And with the added power of one, two, three, four comrades behind her, Nella’s going to do just fine. Before I find our rainbow though, let me make note of the clouds. My clouds look like little bursts of sadness here and there, worries for her feelings and, undoubtedly, projections of my own misperceptions–daunting phrases like left behind that, when I really think about it, aren’t true at all, but still…they’re there. It will be hard to watch her struggle to do things that are easy for her brother and sister, and the sadness of that cloud can feel heavy sometimes.

But…

We are all moving forward, falling behind, on the heels of some before us and smoothing a path for those behind us always, at the same time. The importance is that we’re on the track together.

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Nella received her end-of-the-year preschool report card last week, a gentle informative assessment comprised of a group of indicators generalized by educators as age-appropriate preschool standards. Always excited to see her sister’s school progress, Lainey pulled the report card off the counter and tried to make sense of it. “Tell me what it says,” she asked, handing it to me.

I read first the note that was stapled to the top of the report card above the assessment, a smart teacher’s way of saying: Read this first. Nella does not equal her abilities. Nella equals the little girl I hug and teach and celebrate every day. 

The note focused on the joy that Nella brings to the classroom and on the incredible progress she’s made this year and ended with “I’m going to miss her so much next year.”

Lainey smiled. “What did she get?”

“Well,” I explained, pointing out the rubric, “there’s M, S and N. M means ‘most of the time,’ S means ‘some of the time‘ and N means–” My mind jumped to “none of the time,” but I stopped and looked back up at the key. N doesn’t mean “none.” Do you what N means? N might be the most valid measure of competence and progress, equally applicable to us all.

Needs more practice.

We are all so focused on mastering tasks. In fact, we’re beyond that. EXCEED, we think. Brett took one look at the honors list in the program at the last graduation we attended and laughed. “5.0? Seriously? Dude, when I was in high school, I would have thrown a party for a 3.8.” The truth is, the best lessons in life aren’t mastered or exceeded. They are locked in the “am learning” stage. And thank God, because otherwise I’d feel like a big fat failure.

I haven’t mastered mothering without meltdowns.
Or loving without judgment.
Or trying without flopping.
Or running without breaking to massage that pain in my side.
Or freely writing what I really feel.
Or valuing my self worth without comparison.
Or making all the right choices for a life best lived.
But I’m learning.

My life report card would consist of a stapled note noting my positivity, my big heart, my great use of color. And underneath it, a giant N. Needs more practice. 

And I’m happy with that assessment.

I approach Nella’s progress equipped with the same things I use to approach my own: Perspective and Action. We celebrate the magnificent opportunities that dwell in the assessment of “needs more practice.” And we show up for practice every day.

I finish reading Nella’s report card to Lainey, giving credit to the importance of each grade, celebrating the “most of the time“s and “some of the time“s and the familiar place of “needs more practice.” When I’m finished, Lainey takes the paper from my hand and scans it over.

“What’s this?” she asks, pointing to a letter chart with circles.

“Those are the letters she knows.”

She studies it carefully. “It says she doesn’t know R. Yes she does.”

“Exactly,” I smile. “It’s just a piece of paper, Lainey. Report cards don’t show who you really are.”

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The report card is still lying on the counter this morning when I wake up. Dash is first to join me and finds his way to a stack of cardboard blocks while I make my coffee. I hear a few crashes, some blocks being flung to closet doors, and in my head say another thanks to Brett for picking up the cardboard ones to temporarily replace his former wood weapons of choice. Nella soon wakes up to join him in his room and I leave the two of them alone to do their thing. The alarm of prolonged silence though soon calls me to check on them, and I peek around the edge of the door.

“Clean up,” Nella says, stacking blocks against the wall where they belong and directing Dash toward the last two left under the table. He runs to get them and passes them proudly to the boss, the big sister, the teacher, the helper, who finishes the clean-up job.

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Dash looks to Nella, clearly in charge, for the next command. She spots me from around the corner and another idea is sparked. “Take a bath,” she says, pulling an arm out of her sleeve in preparation.

“Take a bath,” Dash repeats, two steps behind his sister who’s already in full trot down the hallway.

They both drop an article of clothing near the living room rug, too excited to wait for the bathroom, and right before I ask them to pick it up, I notice the other treasures left in the living room–the lone ballet shoe, the sports bra, the towel, the tape measure and the open book next to the empty glass.

Our family just needs more practice.

As for the assessment of these two?

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They fight “some of the time.”
They listen “most of the time.”

But that space in her arms where she’s held him a hundred times? He’ll fit forever.

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Comments

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  1. Love this post..such wise words. such beautiful children.
    Love her teacher too!

  2. This blog post was seriously perfect. It had me in tears! I seriously love the bond these two have formed. Thanks for posting!

  3. Gah! loved this piece. <3 you are so blessed, kelle.

  4. One of my favorite of your posts. Ever. Love, love, love. xx

  5. oh my gosh this is sweet. i love your writing, kelle! :)

  6. Utterly beautiful, Kelle. Just what this mamma needed to hear today.
    xo
    lynn

  7. Natasha says:

    Aaaaaaand now I’m crying into my coffee. I can only hope and pray that my two have the same relationship that Dash and Nella have.

    Such beautiful words, Kelle. Thank you for this post today.

  8. Thank you for a new way of giving myself a report card. I have been particularly hard on myself lately but now I see that I just “need more practice!”

    • Isn’t that so true though? The lessons I learn through my kids are so often ones that I need to implement more in my own life. My report card standards for myself are ridiculous sometimes!

  9. Loved this! I rarely comment, but always read your posts. I loved this one. Love the bond you help your kids create with each other. And I needed the reminder that as a mom and starting a new job soon, I will always need more practice… Thank you, Kelle! :)

  10. This post touched me so much! I have to share it.

  11. I believe this is my most favorite post you have ever written (and I’ve been reading for years)….the words, they just got me and the relationship between your sweet kids is something to be so proud of! That last line needs to be cross stitched on a pillow….BEST line!!!

  12. cherie roy says:

    Ahhhhh,,,,LOVE.

  13. so so beautiful. I think this is the best post you have EVER written!
    and I don’t say that lightly, you are a gifted writer. I felt the emotions, I see the love and connection those two have. they will be best friends for LIFE! Nella is such a gift!
    tara

  14. I have been reading your blog for years…I have not read in a while but every time I do I fall more in love with your precious children. And your writing is just amazing! Nella is my hero. Thanks for sharing with everyone

  15. Lisa Goddard says:

    This had me in tears. I feel all that you feel and even though Maddie is my youngest, she has close cousins that we are experiencing this with. I have had the same exact report card talk with my older 2 kids and at times they say that it’s not her. Thanks for putting all these feelings into such wonderful words. One of my favorite posts!

  16. ZAYMARA says:

    I loved this piece, beautifully written. Your just ur usual family with nothing but love in every word you write. Keep up the great job God Bless

  17. Brinkley brown says:

    What a beautifully written post. The love between all your children is just so amazing. Nella is so lucky to have been born to a nurturing, creative, wonderful mom like yourself. All of your children are. What you have is beautiful.

  18. margherita says:

    I keep learning from you. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Melissa Gilpin says:

    Beautiful.

  20. Beautiful post and just what I needed. I am 72 years old and still “need more practice”. Who among us doesn’t? We just progress as we can, at all different levels and in our own time. As long as we love life, love others and have others that love us — what does anything else really matter?

  21. LOVE this “update” :) I have twins and so much of this I understand and so much of this I will never understand. Nella is beautiful. And so are your others :) Thank you for sharing your life with “us”.

  22. I am a pre-school spec. ed. teacher and this gave me goosebumps. Your best post yet. Yes, they will love each other ALL of the time.

  23. Embracing “Needs More Practice” today.

    No one should ever, ever fail. All it takes is just some more practice! So applicable in the classroom, office, and the gym. Holding my head up higher, and celebrating what I need to work on today.

    Thank you for the reminder, Miss Nella. Happy Summer to you and your family!

  24. Katie hartsfield says:

    Well…I just cried. This is so relatable for me. My girls are 9-1/2 years apart and I already see my littlest, at a mere 17 months, taking on the “big” sister role. I see her influence. I see her moving into skills Chloe hasn’t yet learned. But I also, in that rainbow sort of fashion, see the way she’s changed Chloe…for the good. I see how important their bond is and their relationship. I see the joy and I feel it.

    Kelle, I love that “Needs more practice” share. Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m borrowing that perspective from you and putting it in my pocket for a cloudy day. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for the “me too” validation.

  25. Nella is so good at loving her baby brother well. They’re better than just friends – like a really small gang. :) I love this! Thank you for sharing with us.

  26. I cried. Because report cards ARE just paper. Because kids are so multi-faceted that one type of assessment could never really tell us all that is important, miraculous and interesting about them. And because I needed to be reminded that it’s okay if sometimes I need more practice, too.

  27. Second comment (sorry!) I just came across this YouTube of you and Nella running through some flashcards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikfEhWL2sGg. How fitting and foreshadowing is it that she picks the baby out of all the cards you go through to love and coo over, to cradle and come back to. She has always been such a precious nurturer and now we see that so well in how she loves Dash! Love love love her.

  28. Beautiful post! Made me tear up bc I’m a cry baby and bc sibling love is just…I have a lump in my throat. You are doing a great job!

  29. I just love everything about this post!

  30. Beverly says:

    You always make me cry and it feels so good to cry for something that makes my heart feel good!

  31. This is so beautiful. It made my eyes leak. :)

  32. Two firsts for me. It’s my first time leaving a comment and it’s the first time a blog post has ever made me cry. The way you crafted this post and the writing was wonderful. The sentiments of “needs more practice” were perfect.

  33. Tears of joy from Norway<3 Thats the most beautiful post i have read in quite a while! You put things in perspective, and i love it ;o)

  34. Absolutely beautiful post!

  35. Stephanie says:

    Simply beautiful.

  36. Okay, this was absolutely perfect. My heart is full. But… did I miss something? “And with the added power of one, two, three comrades behind her, Nella’s going to do just fine” – if you’re counting the older boys.. shouldn’t it be four? and if you’re not………. EEK!?

  37. Christina says:

    Amazingly beautiful.

  38. Jessica says:

    What a beautiful post. Love!

  39. Jennifer says:

    I’m a long time reader
    BUT
    This is the first time leaving a comment
    I ALWAYS enjoy reading your posts – and this was by far my favourite yet. Thank You for sharing your gift of writing , perception and your experiences.

    You help me to see that life can be as simple as Enjoying the little things

  40. Peggy bergeron says:

    I love the depth, insight, compassion, honesty and humor in your posts, Kelle You are touching many lives

  41. Beautiful words to describe a lifelong beautiful relationship!

  42. This is Beautiful.

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented here, so today I will ‘pay my dues': Yours was the first blog I ever read, and the flame that lit the fire for starting my own. I am forever thankful for you and your inspiration!

  43. This post touched me soooooo deeply!!! Your words always do, but this hit home especially hard. Thank you for the precious reminder to focus on the good, keep working on everything else and above all, show up every day. :) :) :)
    PS there is literally nothing better than watching your children love one another! ADORE the photos of the two of them. AND what Lainey said “she knows R” literally had me in tears.

  44. hillary says:

    Like many others today, I am a long time reader but this is my first time commenting. Today’s post was just breathtakingly beautiful. Your children are so lucky to have you for their mama and we, you community and far-reaching tribe, are so lucky to have your words.

  45. You write such beautiful words Kelle. Sometimes they make me wish I could go back and do things just a little differently with my two (grown) sons. But today, you made me think I did just right, for me, at the time. And I still have a lifetime to show them how much I love them.

  46. mary ann wilkerson says:

    Wow, what an awesome blog post. You nailed it on so many levels.

  47. So good.

  48. This post was so lovely. Most of the time I feel my greatest accomplishment was giving my kids each other. I have 4, my littlest is 18 months old–also named Dash–and I am so grateful that they have each other. And a good lesson on not placing too much emphasis on report cards.

  49. Maybe the best yet. :) Thank you so much for this perspective. So much love.

  50. Kelle. You kill me with your words. You make my heart cry and be happy at the same time.

  51. Kristen says:

    Kelle,
    Wow you always leave such great blogs.I really enjoy reading them.Keep up the great work.Your kids are just soooo darn cute.

  52. Beautiful….. just beautiful. What sweet photos of those 2. xo

  53. Lacie Hutchins says:

    You have had several great posts, but this one has to be one of my favorite!

  54. Caitlin says:

    so beautifully written! happy tears :)

  55. What a great post! As a younger sibling of an brother with CP, I love the way your words express the feelings that so many of us feel, but are unable to say. Thank you for sharing!

  56. My favorite post of yours to date. I have learned so much from sweet Nella—she is one heck of a teacher! Thank you for sharing her sweet ways with us.

  57. This is so beautiful Kelle. What a gentle reminder that it really is going to be okay no matter what the report card says for our little ones with the magical extra chromosome.

  58. Olga lokmagozyan says:

    LOVED.EVERY.WORD. THANK YOU.

  59. This is an awesome, reflective post. How often we need to change our personal grading system… not “F” for Failure- but “N” for Needs improvement.
    The standards we set ourselves to as parents shouldn’t be yardsticks that are held up next to other parents, but marks in our hearts.

  60. Oh, my. This is beautiful and perfect and what all of us need to read. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  61. What a wonderful post! A life lesson for us all; we all need more practice and we need to try daily. Thank you for your positive words!

  62. well done!!! my favorite only to nella’s birth story! that is the way more people should see the world….AND LIVE LIFE!!!!

  63. christine says:

    Well now, this has to be the single most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. Ever. Their bond is so uplifting and spirited, thank you always for sharing it xo

  64. Renee weichselbaum says:

    Kelle,

    This post is so beautifully written. I have an eleven year step daughter with Down syndrome. I know what you are talking about with the younger siblings being equal or surpassing them. I have had those moments of sadness too. But the bond that all the siblings have is amazing. Thank you for sharing your life!!

  65. RhondaG says:

    Will you be at the GIGI Playhouse fundraiser this weekend? Flying in tonight from Louisiana to support my college friends! Gigi’s is amazing and how wonderful that you will have one in your town for your family!!

  66. This is SO beautiful — goose bumps and tears. I grew up an only child, so sibling relationships are very special to me, something I have always longed for. I watch my girls and hope that their closeness now follows them all their lives. I LOVE this post. You are such an inspiration, on so many levels.

  67. Thank you for sharing your beautiful kids. I love your writing. It touches me. I don’t even know how to thank you properly

  68. Amy watkins says:

    Thank you.

  69. This was beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes! I love your honesty in your writing. Yes, we all need more practice!!! Thanks for that reminder.

  70. Your best piece yet. Love those kidlets xx

  71. What a beautiful essay. Your writing enriches my life.

  72. This post made me smile and brought a little tear to my eye. Nella and Dash’s relationship is truly precious :-) And “need more practice” is just perfect.

  73. Heather Kulaga says:

    I loved reading this, and I love hearing about their relationship! They’re both going to play such important roles in each other’s lives :) Smiles

  74. Perfection

  75. This is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written! It hits home with me on many levels. Thank you!

  76. So perfect and so beautiful.

  77. A lovely, lovely read. I could just imagine every moment you described. What a wonderful bond your two younger children have :)

  78. Heartfelt. Made me cry. Love your writing so much.

  79. Exactly. Well said.

  80. Kelle, I loved this so much. Thank you for sharing…..

  81. Donna owens says:

    Very sweet post. I especially loved the end today!

  82. Absolutely beautiful.
    I believe Nella will continue to teach all of us what true love really means

  83. My heart and my mind exploded at the same time. Your writing is beautiful. Thank you for this beautiful post and pouring your heart out to us.

  84. This is probably one of my favorite posts that you have ever written. Your photos,words,wisdom and simplicity and rawness of it all are amazing. Powerful,full of love and inspiration and Hopeful!

  85. I love this. It is such an important message that we are all so much more than milestones, accomplishments, report cards and resumes. It is so hard not to get caught up in comparisons for myself and my children.

    Thank you!

  86. Just beautiful. Thank you.

  87. My older sister (by 3 years) taught me how to write my name, kept me safe from hundreds of scary bedtime monsters, and was/is my greatest cheerleader, encouraging me to bloom even as I have passed her by in many of life’s typical goals (she has Down’s too). She’s never made me feel bad about driving first, going to college first, or getting married and having children. In fact, within 5 hours of meeting a guy I was dating, she emphatically informed me I should marry him. I did. Greatest decision I’ve made. While I transition into becoming her official “primary caregiver,” she continues to be the most influential teacher in my life. I love our relationship; I adore my big sis.

  88. Kathryn says:

    Beautiful beautiful beautiful. I loved your list of needs more practice. Describes me so well and so accurately.

  89. What an incredibly sweet post.

  90. Oh, Good Lord, Kelle, this one is stunning. Love you, Love them. Thank you.

  91. Another MaMa says:

    Beautifully said!! One of my biggest worries is the day my younger kids pass my oldest in one way or another. This was exactly what I needed to hear.
    Thank you!

  92. chelsea says:

    Somehow I managed to wander away from your blog for a while… man, does it feel good to be back!

  93. Oh Kelle, I read all of your posts and love them dearly. But this one is spot on. Thank you. We get so caught up in where our children “should” be according to other’s standards. But actually, they are exactly where they should be and we are the ones who need to change our mindset. Beautiful.

  94. Love this! It made me cry, my two are almost exactly the same age as Nella and Dash and there are so many similarities.
    I have to ask, where did you find the glasses Nella’s wearing? They appear to fit her really well. I’ve struggled to find cute glasses to fit my daughter, they always slip down her nose. She has DS as well.

  95. I loved this. I might have teared up a few times as well. Your daughter is just gorgeous
    xx, Michelle
    http://rosetolife.com

  96. Beautiful!! Moved me to tears and I am not much of a crier 😉

  97. I feel the same way as every other person who commented on your post. Bravo Kelle, I generally enjoy your blog posts, but this one was also one of my favorites!
    Candy

  98. Damn it!!! I have got to start reading your posts BEFORE I put my mascara on!! Love your words!!

  99. Beautiful post., keep up your spirit.

  100. Kelle, this is such a beautiful post. I’m twin to Simon, he has autism and cerebal palsy, we are now 25. Our Mother has spoken about experiencing similar feelings, these have continued as we have progressed and I have learnt to drive/moved out/gone to uni- all along our journey Mum has measured Simon’s achievements, there are many and we are very blessed- focusing on the ‘can do’s’ rather than the ‘can’ts’. To me Simon is simply my brother, blessed, loved and capable- regardless. I believe that Dash and Nella have a wonderful lifetime ahead. Well done Kelle, love from London, UK x

  101. Tears! This is just the sweetest!!!

  102. I think I cried like 5 times reading this post. This is one of your best pieces of writing, Kelle. I am so glad you are in this world. Love your heart, and adore those beautiful children :).

  103. Beautiful blog post… Tears were in my eyes almost the entire time. You have some an amazing family. <3

  104. I have never read your blog before – but I am now a devoted follower! This post speaks to me so much. My daughter, Kyla, is 7 and was born with a chromosomal disorder called 18p deletion. She is a wonderful, amazing, caring child. With a 4 year old brother, Aidan, whom she adores. And he adores her. Their relationship is described exactly by that of Nella and Dash. And the things you think about – him surpassing her soon – I think about each moment. And I also hope and pray their connection continues. This is just such a beautiful description of this relationship. Thank you for sharing your gift!

  105. We have watched this same thing happen with our adopted son with FASD. First his sister two months younger passed him, then his brother 2 years younger, then his brother 5 years younger. It is so difficult at a mom to watch these moments.

  106. Amy TUbbs says:

    Of my favorite posts! Love all of their relationships!

  107. Beautiful words. Beautiful children. Thank you!

  108. Stacey Skrocki says:

    My boys are 3 years old (just turned 3) and 4 years old. They’re 17 months apart and best of friends. My 3 year old has D.S.. It’s bitter sweet to see their ability gap widen so rapidly. My 4 year old is just starting to sense the difference between his little brother and the other kids. I haven’t had the “Down Syndrome talk” with my 4 year old yet, so this mama’s gonna have some splainin to do pretty soon!

  109. Natalia says:

    They’re such a beautiful words. And if you read this comment list, just be aware of the big treasure you have. That’s all. You’re soooo rich! Thanks for sharing some with us.

  110. Kelle, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time but this one has to be my favorite.

  111. Papillion Mom says:

    This is a great example of the special bond between siblings. Dash and Nella are at a point where compatibility is wonderful. In August, Nella and Lainey will have the very special bond of sharing the same school building–I assume Nella will be in pre-k in the fall since she’s still 5–how awesome for her to be connected with her siblings in different, but meaningful, ways.

  112. Heather Henricks says:

    Kelle – I loved every word. “Needs more practice” is the assessment for most areas of my life right now. Thank you for helping me realize that this is the BEST place to be. Kudos to Nella darling for her expertise in this area. Happy start to summer! XO. Heather

  113. Courteney says:

    Wow. Such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing their sweet bond with us!

  114. This was so beautiful. Like many, I ended up in tears. Thanks for your words.

  115. Just love you. Just love your kids.

  116. I never read your sweet Nella posts without grinning or wiping tears. This one brought both!

  117. beautiful. one of my favorite posts. ever.

  118. Addison says:

    I hope you always remember that report cards and grades are becoming less and less valuable as time goes by due to “social promotion” and grade inflation to satisfy statistics in order to get raises, etc. What I mean is, so much more valuable is any person than the grades assigned to them due to test after test, all-kids-fit-one standards. You live with your children. You know them and know that compassion for their siblings and others is FAR more important than a silly 5.0 GPA which is the equivalent to a 3.o for those of us schooled when teachers were able to teach rather than following a pre-determined standardized test goal lesson plan. Nella will be fine, especially if you recognize she can only do so much. But what she’s lacking in vocabulary, math skills or scientific method, she far exceeds her classmates with her perception, empathy and compassion for others.

  119. BEST POST EVER!

  120. One of your best posts Kelle! Absolutely spot on and so beautiful. Even though I’ve never met these 2 siblings I could picture the love through your words. Thank you for sharing. They are lucky to have each other.

  121. You are raising children devoted to each other – all 3! What a tremendous blessing. This post completely warmed my heart.

  122. Your beautifully written post took me back. My daughter is now 15years old and had a very similar relationship with her younger brother, it was beautiful to watch… and still is.

  123. Made me tear up. Your children are beautiful.

  124. Hillery says:

    My youngest two are 21 months apart. And the younger has now exceeded big sisters weight, but not height. They share clothes, a bedroom and secrets. My older one has always been very small, my younger girl has developmental and speech delays. So they balance each other. They fight and love and conspire. It’s wonderful.

  125. Nella hit the jackpot when the stars were aligned and the angels chose you to be her mother. You have the magic of loving unconditionally and giving all your children a childhood most only dream of. I can’t help but also think of Poppa and how proud he must be not only of his grandchildren but what a special woman you have become. It always restores my faith in humanity after I’ve read one of your posts.

  126. Cathy schmainda says:

    I have read your blog for years Kelle – and loved, cried, laughed, and most of all felt tied to many of your posts. This one more so than any other post you’ve ever written. I loved it. I sat here and cried. And my brain quietly screamed “YES!! This!!! And this!!! And yes some more!!!” Today is when I fell in love with your writing.

  127. Very well written!! How did Dash get so big!?!? He was just a baby! Such a beautiful family. Nella is such a doll:) I love what the teacher wrote! So true what you said about report cards!!

  128. Oh I just love this post. My two youngest are both in 6th grade (adopted from China two years apart). One has special needs and we always try to not compare but it is sooo hard when they are only 3 moths apart. Thanks for always reminding me of the uniqueness and special attributes that make all our children the same…. but different. I love your writing and wish I had the ability to write with such exquisiteness and depth reaching into your soul.

  129. Chantelle says:

    I have been reading your blog for years now, following your gorgeous family. This is such a beautiful post. How lucky your children are to have one another xx

  130. I seriously ♥ your blog!. When I’m all gloomy and upset or tired I come here and get cheered right up. Even when I read Nella’s birth story there’s still a silver lining and sunshine. Never stop writing from your ♥. :-)

  131. This is one of the most beautiful pieces I have read in a very long time. Thank you. You are a very special lady and as for those kiddies, wow, precious.

  132. I love this so much. I’m always inspired when I come to your space. Thanks so much for continually putting yourself out there for all the world to see…I know that can’t be easy, but I’m so thankful to have your voice in the back of my head as I parent my kids. I’ve been a longtime reader, I love your writing and I so appreciate your perspective.

    XOXO

  133. valeria says:

    what a beautiful post…. I LOVED LOVED LOVED reading this… Your words come as medicine for my heart. I agree so much with the “needs more practice” we are in constant change.. so we are always going to need practice. Thank you.

  134. Jessica Dion says:

    OK, tears. So much love to you. This was amazing.

  135. Katie P. says:

    I’ve been reading you for years and I have to say this may be the BEST post yet. So so so so SO good. Thank you for sharing your life with us, Kelle!

  136. This is so beautiful!

  137. Sandy Young says:

    Oh my goodness, that was beautiful.

  138. Thank you for a beautiful post. Every time my daughter is assessed in some way, I remind myself it does not define her. We all need practice! You said it beautifully!

  139. Kelle, this post made me teary eyed. I love reading about the sibling bond. I especially loved reading about the differences that you will now face with down syndrome. An interesting and new take on raising kids and struggling with that big sister role that will soon shift. thank you for sharing with me. It warmed my heart to read about this bond. I get so sentimental when reading other’s account of their experiences with their sibs because i love mine sooo much.

  140. What a lovely, lovely, wonderful post! Your children are very lucky to have you as a mother!

  141. Mary I. says:

    Ohhh Kelle….a beautiful post! My heart is touched when reading another special post. It brought me to finally writing a comment after all these years. I have followed you and your family ever since Lainey was little and I will continue to “cheer” in thought and prayer from afar. We all witness the “look of love” when seeing your family’s pictures and reading thoughts from your heart. Don’t forget Kelle, how water “ripples” and we never know how those “ripples” touch or affect others. Thank you for sharing joy and love!

  142. Awesome post. It brings a smile to my face as I can relate with my 20 month old and my six (holy crap, six already?) year old. Mila is Dean’s shadow, and she is his wrestling partner. He can do no wrong to her in her eyes.
    True love in the making.

  143. I echo many of the other commenters when I say that this is my favourite post I’ve read on your blog. What a beautiful testament to the love between siblings of any age or ability. I teared up too. Thank you so much for sharing.

  144. kelly Cach says:

    Oh my gosh, Kelle….(I whisper under my breath, barely able to “speak”),
    This. This makes me cry. I’m pretty sure this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read.

  145. Erica J says:

    This is seriously the best crappin’ thing I’ve read lately! Good tears with burning throat. Love, love, LOVE it.

  146. What a beautiful siblinghood. 100 percent inspiring :)

  147. Such a great post! Liam’s friends who are younger than him passed him up long ago, but I believe they teach him so much…as he does for them. I NEVER read the assessments that come in the mail from Early Intervention every 6 months. I just place the sealed envelope in a file folder, never to be opened. I know Liam is so much more than that paper. XOXO

  148. Maria Zimmerman says:

    This is so beautiful. I am going through this exact thing right now. My son with DS is 7 and my daughter is 4. It is sometimes hard for me to watch my daughter do things that my son can’t do. But then I see my daughter gently explain or show my son how to do something and its lovely to see. They too, are the same size, shoe size, height, etc. They often get mistaken for twins. Thank you for always posting such positive thoughts, it really helps me when I’m having a bad day.

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