*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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SO, we’re in England now and we’re slowly adjusting to life in a new country, new culture, new house. We lived in the home we owned in Denton for over 8 years, we birthed two of our babies in that home, so it’s been quite a shift for all of us.

The move across the Atlantic was a good excuse for us to seriously reconsider what we owned, what was worth keeping, what we should gift/sell/recycle, and what we truly valued and needed to pack up. We spent several months sorting through the entire house and assessing literally everything – it was so good! While there were definitely some sentimental or practical items we held onto, we realized that much of what was taking up space in our homes and lives was very replaceable – or stuff we could happily live without. Having decided that we sold off or gave to others in our community a large percentage of our household goods, packed up a few things we needed ASAP, then sent the rest over on the slow ship (and lived without it for around six weeks.)

While it was hard and exhausting, and the kids were not so amused with the idea of not shipping their every precious possession, it’s been good.

Kit flew ahead of us with a shopping list of items we did need to replace (beds, a dining table, couches) and hit IKEA. He assembled like crazy and then came to pick us up at the airport and bring us to our lovely new home.

As we settled in we were receiving IKEA emails and one popped up that got 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’s not a program being run in the US, but here in the UK it’s in their second year and I was intrigued. It required an application (and essay) and I really didn’t think we would be accepted but I wrote something up and sent it in – and didn’t even mention it to Kit since I knew the odds weren’t in our favor.

Then I got an email that we had been accepted – and hadn’t replied to their previous message – but would we like to join the program? Whoops! Yes, please! I wrote back immediately and we attended their orientation which was informative for all of us (there was a pop quiz!) and really fun – even the 10 and 6 year olds were engaged. Well, and they adore IKEA so it was basically a party in their opinion, they even came home with balloons and goodie bags. (We also found out that over 56,000 applied for this program, which made me even more surprised we were chosen – and very grateful!) 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.

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 – low energy lightbulbs, keeping the thermostat low/high depending on season, having an energy audit done on the house and having changes made like extra attic insulation or weatherizing doors, installing new higher energy rating windows (than the original 1978 windows we had.) We also participated in the pilot composting program, stream and city clean ups, tree adoption programs every year, etc… as a family it was something we weren’t always perfect at (I used the dryer often instead of hanging clothes to dry, we only cloth diapered half the time, and I like LONG showers) 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. Their goals were:

* composting and herb gardening
* sewing/mending and making new items
* cooking more from scratch, and better organizing our pantry
* cutting back on the amount of paper we use for lessons

Next week we’ll make our shopping trip to IKEA to get started on some of these goals, and we’ll be writing more here (and on the school blog) about how we’re doing. We’ll also have a chance to attend some workshops at IKEA along this theme, which we’re excited to check out.

A few of the suggestions that our home visit team mentioned are relatively inexpensive and can make a big difference in older homes (though ours was built in 1925 – old by Texas standards, pretty new by UK standards!) – 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 (and help you sleep when you have sunshine at 4am next summer – ha!)
* 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; get reusable containers for leftovers and clear is great so you can see what you’ve got easily and less risk of stuff spoiling while you ignored it in the back of the fridge
* rugs, fuzzy socks, slippers, and soft throw blankets can make the winter more bearable without having to increase your energy use
* 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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Fall 2016

A mini update:

C’s in college studying for his GCSE exams. He loves it! He also loves the weather here, that his allergies are basically gone, and he says the food is wonderful.

Mo & Emy are loving Girl Guides and Mo had her first camp out this weekend. They’ve been making friends and exploring and loving it here as well.

Ben’s excited to still be checking off wish list items like the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. And we’ve connected with pediatric eye specialists here in the city, whom he likes.

J & Livy have been struggling the adjustment the most. They’ve been making friends and loving exploring, but we’re admittedly surprised that it was the littlest having a hard time with the move. (It’s been hard.)

This fall we’ve been to so many amazing sites, and also had a road trip up to Scotland and flew over to Ireland to stay in Northern Ireland for a bit. My sisters, BIL and new nephew flew over to stay a week for Thanksgiving and we had a sisters’ day in London, and now we’re prepping for the holidays and some projects in 2017.

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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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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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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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