*Welcome, Welcome!*

Welcome to our little corner of the world! I’m Heidi, I’m married to Kit, we have six little ones keeping us busy ranging in ages from 14 down through 5. They’re adorable and amazing and wild and wonderful!

In 2005 our third child decided to show up four months early at a whopping 22 ounces and give us a good scare. This blog was created to keep family and friends updated through our 4 months in the hospital. You can read a bit about his NICU story here.

We’ve since archived those years but last fall we started sharing again because of some new adventures. Ben’s eyesight has been slowly declining (this was expected due to complications from his premature arrival) and we learned he had far more visual field loss than we realized. He started a wish list of places he would like to see and things he would like to do before his eyesight changes further.

You can read some of those articles about his adventures here!

Through the last few months we’ve been working on that wish list and being blessed in countless ways by friends, family, our community, and complete strangers as Ben tackles this challenge with his typical passion. So thank you, whoever you may be! We’re glad you came by and we welcome your comments and messages. We recently set up a page on Facebook to share the wish list adventures, and you can follow it here. We can be reached at heidi@thadenpierce.org or by snail mail through Kit’s work:

Ben’s Wish List
c/o Hobby-Q
PO Box 2107
Lake Dallas, TX 75065-2107

Ben and all the kids LOVE postcards so if you want to send one from your hometown or your vacation spot then they would be thrilled. It’s the next best thing to him getting to see those places in person.

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Dream Come True – Paris!

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Remember that dream I had a year ago?

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Los Angeles Adventure

So, last fall we were in Oklahoma when we got a call about bringing Ben to California to visit The Doctors show. It was pretty last minute and we had an appointment scheduled for Ben to head into Dallas and visit with the eSight folks, so I told The Doctors I wasn’t sure if we could make it or not – I needed to verify we could reschedule the eSight visit because we were NOT going to miss that! Thankfully the Dallas office said no problem, and we set up the flights to Los Angeles for Ben, me (Heidi/mom) and for our oldest son, Christopher. He was born in LA but hadn’t been there since he was 8 weeks old and we really wanted to make sure he had a chance to see where we lived for that year. Los Angeles was on Ben’s list because he had wanted to see where his brother was born, where his parents and grandparents were born, etc. Thankfully we were able to coordinate it and bring him along. Continue reading

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The Impossible Wish

When writing up Ben’s wish list I tried to type exactly what he was saying. Some of his wishes I told him right off the bat we could do (the zoo, a bike shop, the Apple store) and others I told him NO WAY am I doing that (Antarctica, the Sahara.) Other wishes I knew weren’t realistic, despite how much I wished we could help make them happen – seeing the northern lights, or getting into the Food Network kitchens. (I actually told him the northern lights may be easier to see than the kitchens!) I tried looking into it and read that they don’t do tours and there’s not any way the public can just come peek into the their studios, which I told Ben. He was sad, and said maybe if we went to NYC someday that we could go by and see the outside of the studios? I wasn’t even sure where they are located (I knew the general area) but I told him maybe someday. Then I tried to redirect him to other wishes that I knew were more feasible.

This was all before Ben’s story began to be shared, and suddenly we were going to see the northern lights (I almost fell down when I got the call from Janet at WFAA telling us about that opportunity.) Dreams that I thought were not possible were happening – it was happening. But through all of these incredible adventures when Ben would comment on how much he loved this cooking show or that chef and wouldn’t it be nice if someday we could visit Food Network I would always remind him – Sweetie, I’m sorry but they don’t do tours.

Ben even began plotting how he could get onto the show Worst Cooks in America so he could visit. It became a family joke.

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Ben eSights the Grand Canyon

When we were at the Grand Canyon we weren’t sure when the story would air with On the Road, and The Doctors show hadn’t aired yet that revealed Ben had an eSight.

Here’s Steve’s clip:

So we filmed Ben’s initial reaction to the Grand Canyon before trying on his new tool.

He could see the canyon, he talked about how the colors were pretty and it seemed big. I helped him get the eSight on and he began adjusting the settings and then he yelled, “It’s HUGE!!! There’s a river down there!” He kept gasping and saying wow and zooming in and I was just bawling.

Seeing the Grand Canyon was amazing regardless, but seeing his response once he could really see everything was stunning. Ben challenged the other kids to a game of I Spy which he thoroughly won because he now has super zoom capabilities that us mere mortals do not have. His siblings were grinning ear to ear hearing what their brother could now describe for them.

I will never, ever forget seeing Ben’s face when realized how much he could see.

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On the Road for Another Adventure

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Adventure & Eyeball Updates

It was six months ago today that Ben’s story first aired on WFAA here in DFW, and what a whirlwind it has been! We’re obviously still playing catch up on the website but THANK YOU for each comment left and kind message we’ve received!

We’ve gotten some similar questions and suggestions so to answer some of those:

* Regardless of how Ben’s vision progresses we will continue to travel and explore the world, though the trips will be much more spread out in time! We’ve been blessed by an outpouring of support in helping make some of these wishes come true sooner rather than later, but our family will make sure we continue saving towards and working on these wishes over the next few years as well.

* We’ve seen multiple doctors to receive second (third, fourth, fifth) opinions about his vision now and his prognosis for down the line. No one wants to predict what it will be as he grows, but we continue to need new glasses each eye exam as his prescription changes. His most recent exam was last week and his new glasses have been ordered. We are optimistic – unless he has a retinal detachment (which the surgery in the NICU prevented at that time) he will always have light awareness, no matter how colors change or things get fuzzy. While some doctors say he’s higher risk for retinal detachment because of his condition and the scarring, we are feeling cautiously hopeful that he’ll be okay. He gets retinal exams to check on them and wears sports/safety goggles.

* You are so kind to ask how you can financially help make some of Ben’s wishes come true. His wishes have come true, almost every single one! We’re encouraging you big hearted people to consider donating instead to another vision related program:

Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth provides Ben’s cane training for free and assists individuals with vision challenges in a variety of ways. You can donate to them here.

eSight is a device helping people like Ben see again. We were blessed to receive one (the video clip is on that page) and you can help make that possible for others through their page here.

* Adventures to come:
– Disney World
– Mardi Gras in Houma & NOLA
– London & Paris
– Monohan Sand Dunes & Carlsbad Caverns
– Washington DC

* Possibilities we are discussing:
– Great Wolf Lodge
– Redwoods & San Francisco
– the Parthenon in Tennessee

Plus many local visits to museums and such in town. The wishes keep coming true, in large part thanks to YOU!

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Pumpkin Patch Memories

Ten years ago I spent the morning at the pumpkin patch with Kit, one of my sisters, and my two kids (C and Mo were 3 and 1 at the time.) I was ten weeks pregnant with Ben. By evening I wasn’t feeling very well, went to see my midwife, and we learned that we were developing complications (again, we had just miscarried that summer.) Thus began the 3 months of roller coaster emotions and bad news as we hoped and prayed Ben would keep growing safely despite the problems.

I avoided the pumpkin patch for the following years – Ben was high risk for respiratory illnesses and on oxygen the next year, and still in isolation for winter the year after that. It wasn’t rational but in the back of my head I just didn’t want to return to the pumpkin patch and be hit by those memories – I felt guilty and fragile and scared. I eventually got around to it – robbing my kids of the fall festival fun wasn’t fair. :) But I can admit the autumn/winter dates around those events were really rough anniversaries for me.

This year as we hit the decade anniversary I thought it was time to celebrate how far we’ve come and go hit a new pumpkin patch with one of my sisters and her kids. It was a blast, and Ben adored the enormous pumpkins and cottages and the kids rolled down the grassy hill and we had a lovely day. Hard to believe that ten years ago we were in such a different stage of our life, and I’m so grateful to be standing here now with my healthy kids as they laugh and explore.

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New York City – Day Three

Our third day we granted the kids’ wish to try a New York bagel (they approve) as we walked down to the Museum of Modern Art to see Starry Night.

It was breathtaking.

Then we headed back to our hotel to be picked up for the Katie Show, and everyone was so gracious and warm and welcoming! (More on that later, I’m writing my outline now as I play catch up!)

Among the many surprises we received, Ben and Kit were able to attend Wicked that night. (Ben loved it, of course, he loves musicals of all sorts!)

We flew out the next morning, and it was a whirlwind adventure of NYC that we’ll always treasure!

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New York City – Day Two

Our second day was full of lots of running around and memory making. Kit and five of the kids met up with someone from Katie’s show to help them go check out the Statue of Liberty then meet us at Central Park for a picnic. Ben and I headed off also to catch the Statue, but also the Empire State building and then the picnic. In the afternoon we napped the kids before taking Ben and C to a comic book store, then everyone headed to dinner at an arcade and on to Times Square. The kids requested we take the subway home as that was their favorite mode of transportation all day. :)

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New York City – Day One

We were invited to New York on Friday right after Ben’s story aired on WFAA, and we didn’t tell the kids until Sunday evening. I was just quietly packing up and hoping they wouldn’t notice. :) We had a scavenger hunt set up on Sunday that gave them various hints around the house until Ben opened the final clue (a “Big Apple”) and there was much screaming and rejoicing. We flew out the next morning, and since our kids had only flown once before this was a very, very exciting day.

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I now realize how unusual this is that the pilot let the kids check out the cockpit:

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We were picked up by a driver and taken to our lovely hotel and then went exploring – just down the street was an Apple store, and you already know Ben’s a HUGE Apple fan.


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A couple more blocks down and we found the place the hotel suggested – a kid friendly hot dog spot. I was laughing because these are world famous hotdogs, and since our kids rarely eat meat they pronounced them the world’s BEST hod dogs, too.

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We wandered back towards the hotel and got a picture by the Lincoln Center across the street then tucked the kids into bed early. Or we tried, but they were so excited we had a couple night owls watching the traffic out our window on Broadway.

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