One 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!!
Our visas just came through 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.
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!)
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 email@example.com or by snail mail through Kit’s work:
Ben’s Wish List
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.
This is the bed of chaos as we pack those lingering bits and pieces of our lives. Because we have to ship all our household kids over a month in advance we have to sort out what we want to fly with and what we need daily vs what can we live without for the next six weeks until we arrive in England? It’s an interesting thought experiment – and it’s certainly made us evaluate every single item: is this important to us enough to ship across the ocean? Is it less expensive to replace it there? Do we need this daily and it’s better to fly with it? When did we accumulate so much stuff?
It’s been good. I feel like we all have a different perspective on wants and needs and gratitude.
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!!
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
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
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.
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.
Adjusting his settings inside the geology museum.
“There’s a river down there!!”
Looking at his siblings.
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!
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.