*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 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. He started a wish list of places he would like to see and things he would like to do before his eyesight declines further, an anticipated complication due to his early arrival.

Over a couple year stretch of time we began 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 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.

And thank you!! We are completely blown away by this outpouring of support. While Ben made his wish list one evening hoping to have one dream come true. You have made SO MANY MORE happen… beyond his very wildest dreams.

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The First Bit

We’ve been here not quite a week yet and while I want to slow down enough to record what is happening, it’s been a whirlwind of logistics and settling in and jet lag and adjustment.

Fortunately we’ve been able to have several playdates for the children already with home educators or friends we met online before moving here – that’s been HUGElY helpful in the children adjusting, seeing how they were able to make new friends. We got library cards (there are a couple branches within walking distance of our home) and explored several of the parks near our home. We’re still waiting for our household goods but we’ve got all the basics covered for now with furnishings and personal items. Kit helped stock the home with groceries before we arrived, which was perfect to come home and be settled somewhat already.

All of us needed to pick up our biometric cards to make us “official” and we took three of the little ones into the GP (general practitioner, our family doctor) to get started with the referral process. Things like Ben’s eye exams will need to be done by a specialist, and the GP began that process for us. We need to find a dentist, too, though we took care of our dental and pediatric check ups just before we left.

The girls are already registered with the local Girl Guides, though they won’t start until the summer holidays end early September. There are several more home educator activities we’re anticipating in the next month to help the children (and us parents!) connect with more new friends.

It’s been a really, really good adjustment process thus far. It helps that we absolutely love and adore our new home and garden and parks and space… it’s so beautiful! We’ve had gorgeous weather and sunny days and cool temps and it feels like a dream. Though that may in part be the sleep deprivation talking, so I’m off to try and persuade some little ones that they really should sleep even if their bodies are confused by TX vs. UK time zones still.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brit-Tex Version

FullSizeRenderI have an american version of this recipe I had to modify when I realized our measuring cups were all in ml which I think is the same as grams? So change as needed to correct for my mistakes.

100 grams caster sugar
300 grams brown sugar
200 grams of softened butter (I do a bit less)

Cream all together and whip for a few minutes then stir in:

2 eggs
15 ml vanilla

In another bowl combine:

200 grams porridge oats
500 grams white flour
5-10 ml bicarbonate of soda (I did a heaping 5 ml spoon)
5 ml salt

Stir dry ingredients into wet, then mix in:

300 grams chocolate chips. More or less, I won’t judge. 😉 If you cannot find chocolate chips (we got them at Costco) then get a couple 100 gram bars of chocolate and chop those up instead.

Scoop onto a silicone baking mat/sprayed cookie sheet and bake at I think mark 4 on a gas oven… we can fit nine cookies per square baking pan, though we are use to doing a dozen on our rectangle pan in our previously big american oven but that’s okay! We’re adapting. Kit says it took 11 minutes at mark 4. Verdict is – they are DELICIOUS! Warm and gooey and the measurements worked out beautifully. Hooray!

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House Photos UK

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We Have Landed! TX to UK Migration

Livy wants me to tell you, “We really like the place.”

J says, “Every single view from every single floor of this house looks beautiful.”

Emy says, “It’s bedtime.” 😀 We’re jet-lagged. She’s also excited about having a garden plot, there’s a groundskeeper that comes to take care of everything but the owner told Emy to have fun growing her own herb and flower garden, too, and told her some good spots. E also asked her if she could ignore that bit of the house lease that says no pets and get a hamster to which her father and I both shook our heads rapidly and mouthed, “NO!!!” behind Emy’s back at the home owner to which she laughed and whispered loudly, “I don’t mind if you allow her.” So we shall see… someday.

The getting here part was a saga due to a massive storm in Dallas diverting our BA flight to Houston, but eventually we DID get onto the plane and arrive. Kit picked us up in London and made the drive up to Nottingham and I love y’all, but if you come visit then fly into a closer airport or plan to take the train from London because that drive was NOT fun. :)

Customs – I was very, very nervous about waiting in line with all the kids after that long of a flight and getting through customs. It’s normally quick and easy for tourists, but we are coming in with visas and I had heard horror stories about people being questioned for hours and having to shown tons of paperwork to be allowed in with work visas. I had all the supporting documents and birth certificates and marriage licenses and six EXHAUSTED kids and our bags and we were just melting down by the time we hit customs and already had one child say she was done and run away. (We snagged her without having to tackle anyone.) But we were weary… and still needed to do customs and get fingerprint scans and such. But all things considered, it went great! Under 10 minutes, the border guard was very kind and helpful with the kids, and only had half a dozen questions about work, previous visits, how long we were staying, why we were here. The funny part was explaining who my husband works for – Reaper Miniatures in the US is the name of the company, he’s their tech guy and they make mini figures for games. The UK name is RHQ Zombie Co. To which the guard stops and raises her eyebrows to ask, “Zombies??” Yes, that lead to more questions. 😀

So all in all – the travel was hard, but bearable. I did at one point say, “Y”all better love this place because I am not ever doing this flight with all of you again.” Once I get more sleep I may amend that. Then we still had to make the drive home, which with construction and traffic out of London was well over two hours. But once we saw the house, it was so worth it the headache of getting here!

We were wrong, the home was not built in 1935 as listed but actually 1925 with some beautiful original touches and floors and stained glass windows and so much charm it’s ridiculous. But there are also updated bits like the master bath (which will also be our guest room, should you choose to come visit.) I fell in love with a room downstairs so Kit and I are turning it into our master bedroom and once you see photos you’ll agree it’s the best!

Kit’s favorite room is the conservatory but I’ve not hung out in there yet – it will be our yoga/reading/music room for sure and is all glass facing the rear garden. I’m loving the bay window and reading chair in my bedroom that overlooks the front gardens.

We did hit Aldis last night and much to our amusement it has a whole section of Old El Paso Tex Mex kits (which I’m sure is not permanent.) They did not have just plain tortillas BUT they had tortilla chips and salsa – in tiny bags and itty bitty jars, vs. our bulk ones we buy in the US. But we have Tex Mex option and their avocados were enormous! And the Irish butter, and the yogurt section, and the crazy amount of biscuits and tea – we have a designated shelf just for tea time treats and while we don’t actually have all our furniture yet, we’re ready for tea with guests!

The house… y’all, this house. I feel like I’m in a movie set with a really great set designer that’s creating this lovely little spot of heaven. I’m sure it’s not actually perfect and there will be hiccups and quirks and things that make us go, “HUH??” But we’re going to be very happy in this home and these gardens.

Posted in UK Life | 2 Comments

FAQ – The Texas to England Migration

Here you go – the most frequently asked questions we’re getting about this move!

Where are we moving?

NOT to London, though I think that’s the default city people think of when they hear England. We’re moving to the city of Nottingham which is a couple hours north of London. It has about 300k people and yes, it’s got Robin Hood stuff.

However, as far as housing/rent prices – London is like NYC and Nottingham is more like DFW. Way, way different housing market. Continue reading

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Guess What??

webOne year ago when we had the chance to visit England for Ben’s wish trip we did not in our wildest dreams imagine what would come next…

We’re MOVING to England!! (Update – we MOVED! We’re HERE!!)

Our visas just came through came through literally the day before the Brexit vote, oddly enough and things are in a whirlwind as we prepare to leave this summer. Kit will be working in the city of Nottingham (for his same company here in Denton) and we’ve got a house there lined up already. We’re connecting with some neat home educator groups and making friends and we are so unbelievably excited to share this adventure as a family – and to share it with you! We’ll be posting photos and videos here to keep in touch with friends and family while we’re exploring our new home. Update: We landed mid-August and we’re settling into our home and community here in this beautiful country.

Though we will miss Denton and our loved ones here SO MUCH, and it does feel like our hearts are being stretched between two places. Hopefully they’ll be able to come visit (hint, hint, y’all!)

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Pay it Forward Links

Ben’s chosen some organizations he wanted to support and to pay it forward after all the care he received with his wish list. Here are a couple of the places he’s worked with donating to:

Our Daily Bread is a local program providing meals and other resources to members of our community. We love that it’s local and the kids have been able to bring in canned goods, produce from the garden, and toiletries they collected on some of the trips. For Ben’s birthday this year he asked guests to bring donations for Our Daily Bread instead of presents and then we went over to drop them off in person, and they were so sweet and welcoming.

Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth we learned about as they provided Ben’s cane training, along with information and support for our family. This is something they offer free of charge, and it’s invaluable for anyone with vision challenges to have them as a resource. At a holiday gathering there we were told they had been receiving donations from people who had heard about Ben’s story and wanted to help others – that made Ben SO happy, he teared up. There may be a similar program in your area that could benefit from your contribution!

We hope that gives you some ideas, and there are countless other programs out there making a difference in people’s lives – thank YOU for helping make that difference!!

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2015 Wrap Up!

I know, we’ve been quiet around here on the blog – but that’s because life with our six little ones has NOT been quiet! Between home schooling and both parents’ work and growing kids with activities and therapies we’ve been juggling a lot. We’ve continued to receive postcards and notes from you and it’s been wonderful!

Last year Ben had some beautiful, huge wishes come true, so here’s a recap – each one of these deserves their own post and photos, which we hope to get up to share with you one of these days!

January: Kit took the older kids to watch the Harlem Globetrotters and Ben got to do the toss up – he was so tiny in comparison to those players, and he said it was fantastic! The next week Ben turned ten and requested shrimp alfredo and key lime pie for his birthday dinner. He’s our little foodie. Continue reading

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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.

Continue reading

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