*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 15 down through 6. 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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LAGOM Update #1

IMG_0897One of our LAGOM goals was that our kids use a lot of paper for school work and art – they love to draw, which we love! But I hated how much paper we were recycling because of it. This VEMUND board lets me have a larger surface to write out things for the kids when we’re doing lessons. When not doing that, the kids can use it as an art board with the colored dry erase markers (and I can write boring stuff like chores.)

Next up – our little sproutlings! We just got them started amidst the holiday madness and they’re ready to be transferred into their larger pots already. We’re so excited about having this growing source – the kids picked several herbs and rocket… Gardening indoors has been a great science & nutrition lessons, and should help with grocery bills as well. Here’s the VÄXER line we’re using..

FullSizeRender-1One of our other LAGOM projects has been redoing our pantry with new FILUR containers so we can better inventory and see what we have, what we need to restock, and what should be used up sooner than later. That’s been a huge help!

Another LAGOM investment, we purchased vacuum seal storage bags – because we’ve many little ones we want to save and reuse clothes as much as possible. We’ve been fortunate to have many friends also pass on clothes their kids have outgrown, but storing those clothes when they’re between kids is an issue. The storage bags let us shrink down clothes and keep them in the closet until we need to rotate them for the season. Plus the kids think it’s hysterically fun to pack the bags and see how small they compress with the vacuum. It’s a weird entertainment. Here’s the HADJEBY line.

We are also reading up on composting this spring and have a STRAPATS container for it. In our old city we were part of a pilot composting program but they brought us bins, we filled them and they came back to pick them up. The compost was used for city gardens that helped the food bank, but here we would be composting for our own garden so we need to learn more about how to implement that!

As we get further into our growing project we’ll post more photos, and I’ll get some pictures of our lovely and reorganized pantry and clothing storage. (It’s not really lovely, but I’m happy about order being found amidst the chaos!)

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Tea Time from an Outsider’s Perspective

Whatever I write here about tea and tea time in England is going to be heavily disputed by any number of people if they read it, as tea opinions vary widely from one person to the next. It’s very, very amusing – you want to get people animated, ask them if there’s a correct way to make tea. Ha!

But here are some sweeping generalizations gleaned from the various times I did ask that question, and the conversations that followed with people from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, England, and Americans living here who have their own take on it…

* Real tea is black tea. (Not green, and not “herbal” teas.)

* Tea is served with milk, and you can offer honey or sugar (most people seem to take sugar, not honey.) It’s not served with lemon, unless it’s ice tea and in the american south and also a sweet tea. Which freaks out some brits, this super sweet american ice tea thing. 🙂

* Most everyplace does offer black tea and an herbal option. Many also offer green tea. I’ve not seen an iced tea anywhere, even in August. It’s always hot, year round. Continue reading

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Random Food Post (This Got Long)

One of the questions we get most is about how our diet may have changed since we moved. Here’s some thoughts in no particular order:

* The ONE and only item we’ve not found locally is corn tortillas. The shops have multiple “corn” tortillas but they’re flour tortillas with cornmeal added. I’m honestly shocked that we’ve found every other possible food here, even ones we heard may be harder to track down. (Many people heard peanut butter is hard to find here – nope, they’ve got loads of it including bulk American types at Costco, and so many seed butters as well.)

* Produce here is so inexpensive, shops have weekly sales where at least 5 produce items are ___ price (usually £.29 to £.59) which is great to try new things, but apart from that even the stuff we eat all the time is always a good price. Berries are slightly more expensive in winter, but nothing like the huge mark ups we see in the US when stuff is out of season. I love, love, love the produce. Giant avocados, like Texas sized but less expensive! I’ve not found anything missing – oh, wait, I’ve not found fresh artichokes, but I’ve also not been looking hard.

* There are two grocers within .4 miles of our house, and 3 superstore type groceries within a mile or so. Costco is 12 miles away, it’s in the next city over. So the kids can walk to the shop to buy something, or we can drive if we’re doing a BIG stock up trip. Continue reading

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Happy Holidays!!

2016card

Denton courthouse & Nottingham Castle, our two homes!

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LAGOM Intro!

14195318_1069959986391761_4651300028016236771_oLast fall we moved from Texas to England. As we settled into our new home we were receiving IKEA emails & one caught my eye about the idea of LAGOM – Swedish for the idea of “the right amount is best.” You can read more about it here. It felt like a perfect way to help us with this major life reboot as we start from the basics and decide what our home and lives need, what we want to change, and ways we can be more aware of “the right amount” in what we use.

We were accepted into the program & attended an in store orientation, then two of the IKEA team came out to our home for a visit and to talk over our New Year goals to make our lives and home more LAGOM. The idea appeals to us on many levels, though we didn’t have a word to describe it until now. In the home we own in Texas we had been doing many of the suggested practices already. As a family it was something we weren’t always perfect at, but we try to install this value in our children to be mindful of our consumption, and a responsible member of the community and planet. (Yes, even in high school I was an officer in the environmental club. I think that means I’m officially a tree hugger.)

But part of what LAGOM wants to promote is that you don’t have to be a tree hugger to make small steps in your life that can be better for you, your finances, and your community. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming or boring – it can be rewarding, and fun! We’ve incorporated it into our home educating lessons as well, and had the kids write up their lists of ways we could be more mindful as a family. Our goals were:

* herb gardening and composting
* cooking more from scratch, and better organizing our pantry
* cutting back on the amount of paper we use for homeschooling
* finding storage solutions to reuse kids’ clothes

A few of the suggestions that our home visit team mentioned are relatively inexpensive and can make a big difference in older homes – here are some we’re working on already that you can try, too:

* switch out your light bulbs for LED
* line your drapes OR add blinds to the window to conserve heat
* change out faucets to get similar flow but with less water
* use a shower timer to be mindful of how long you’re in there (I am so bad at this.)
* write a menu so you are more careful about shopping, baking, and planning leftovers for future meals
* rugs, fuzzy socks, slippers, and soft throw blankets can make the winter more bearable
* invest in rechargeable batteries
* windowsill gardening can be simple, inexpensive, and healthy for you no matter how small your space

After our store visit we’ll share with you what we are getting, and how it’s helping us towards our LAGOM goals!

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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’ve moved to England!!

Kit’s working in the city of Nottingham (for his same company in Denton) and we’ve got a great house. 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 as we’re exploring our new home.

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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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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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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