Friday, May 30, 2008

We Made It!

We just wanted to let everyone know that we made it safely to Munich. We arrived at 4:30pm this afternoon and we were greeted by Katrin's sister, Sabina. (Kathrin is my German friend who used to attend church with us at Southeast. Now she and her family live in Las Vegas.) Sabina helped us pick up our rental car and make our way to Kathrin's mother's home in Ismaning, just outside of Munich. Isolde (Kathrin's mom) had dinner waiting for us when we arrived...curry chicken...yum!

The plane ride went smoothly...hooray! We spoke with the airline supervisor when as we checked our luggage and she helped us change our seats to the bulkhead which was perfect for Brad (lots of leg room). Although Brad didn't sleep until his head his the pillow at Isolde's home, he was reasonably comfortable for the duration of the flight. That was indeed an answer to prayers because I was very concerned about how he was going to fold himself (6 foot 3 plus injured leg) into a regular plane seat. But the Lord was looking out for us because we had terrific seats.

We flew in a BA 777 which proved to be a very nice, very large aircraft. Brad's only complaint for the flight was the cabin temperature. All joking aside, I think it was about 60 degrees for most of the flight. By the time we were in the air, Brad had confiscated 3 airline blankets and was wrapped from head to toe. The only part of his body still showing were his eyes. Aside from the Rockets cap (which he put over the blanket that was wrapped around his head), he looked like an Arab woman. I had packed my camera in my luggage and was kicking myself for missing such a great photo opportunity. He looked so funny!

Tomorrow we have plans to SLEEP IN, have a lesuirely breakfast, and then head out to the grocery & market to put up some necessities and staples for our apartment. We then plan to take everything and find our way over to Markt Berolzheim. We plan to spend a little time acclimating ourself to the surroundings and resting up for the week.

Hoping to find internet access again soon....
Love you all & thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

And.....We're Off!

Today is the big travel day! Brad, Sandra, David & I leave from Intercontinental Airport tonight at 8:00pm to arrive in Munich at 5:00pm, May 30th. The kids will be spending time with cousins Jack & Callie & later...Mimi & Sherri while we are gone. Then G.G. & Papa C. will embark on the exciting trip of taking our children on a 14- hour journey to come join us. Please pray for my parents. That should be an interesting trip.

Following our flight, we will spend the weekend catching up on rest & getting settled into our apartment. On Monday morning we will meet with Dr. Thaller to discuss his treatment plan for Brad and to make initial arrangements.

The town that we are staying, Markt Berolzheim, is very small (about 1500 people). Although, we are without internet access there, we plan to drive into neighboring towns to use the internet cafes so that we can send/recieve email...and of course, so that I can update our blog!

On a very exciting note...I FOUND MY CAMERA!!! Yippee! As I was repacking my suitcase last night..I found my camera pushed in amongst my clothes. The reason I know Kaelyn put it in there (although Brad doesn't believe me) is because it was without it's case and cords. A mom would never put an uncovered camera in a suitcase to be thrown around and smashed by baggage handlers! Brad thinks I use Kaelyn as my scape goat (ok, maybe sometimes), but this time...I know it was the little rascal! Plus, I caught her in the act of riffling through my bag last week...unpacking and that proves it, right?

We will be in Germany through most of June, returning to Houston on the 25th. Several have asked about numbers and addresses. I believe the best way to send mail would be through the clinic. Their address is:
Brad Wims
c/o Dr. Arno Thaller
Benzing 6
91801 Markt Berolzheim

Jane mentioned to me that she had researched postal prices and found:
Postage on a normal size greeting card is 94 cents...if it's over
1 oz and less than 2 ozs, then it would be $1.75...this is air
mail...3-5 business days.

I believe the phone at the clinic is also the best way to contact us. We will be there for treatment M-F from about 8-3pm. Because Germany is 7 hours ahead, between the hours of 6-8am (Central/Standard) might be the best time to try a phone call. The number at the clinic is 011-49-9146/311.

We appreciate your prayers during this time of travel. We feel confident in the work being done by Dr. Thaller and we are excited to see God work through him. We can't wait to return home to see each of you soon. Thank you for your unwavering support & love. We love you all.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Camera Withdrawel

I feel like I am without my right arm. I haven't been able to find my camera the past several days and it's driving me nuts. I didn't realize how dependent I am on it...until it came up missing. I know it's around here somewhere...I just can't seem to find it. I have a feeling my small brunette friend has helped me relocate it...I just hope it turns up before we leave on Thursday. better get to lookin' girl!

So, you are all stuck with my verbal descriptions. No visual representations through pictures today (I hate that because I am VERY visual.)

This morning Brad got up at 6 with the kids....I got to sleep in until 8...what a treat! When I woke up I came out of our room. The kids were playing in the den, they had already had breakfast, Brad had dried & folded all the laundry and was in the kitchen making his own breakfast. Wow...what a man.

Once I joined him in the kitchen he proceeded to tell me how the morning went. Brad said that at one point he didn't see either child and called out to Zeke to see where they were.

B: Zeke where are you?
Z: I am in the bathroom and Kaelyn is in the bathroom.
(Since this is a big trouble zone...Brad headed towards the bathroom and on his way this is what he heard)
Z: Uh... Da- (he started to call Dad and then let out a big exasperated) AAAAAUUUUHHHHHHHHH!
Z: (still yelling at Dad) Kaelyn just put my socks in the toilet and she's pulling them out!!! (ok, that's gross)

After this story, Kaelyn walks into the room with her brother's spiderman underwear pulled over her diaper. She thinks this is hysterical. I tell you...everyone in my house thinks they are a commedian. There is a constant battle over who thinks they can hold the stage the longest...sheesh! Brad took one look at her and said, "Great, I have a son who likes to wear makeup & speedos AND a daughter who is a cross-dresser....wonderful."

As we watched her walk across the floor I made the comment that she is truly a toddler at this point. Brad said, "Yeah...she's a toddler all right...she's constantly going around the house looking for what she can mess up, mark up, break up, tear up or destroy." She really is quite the "helper" there is no doubt.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Firey Personality

This is a picture of Kaelyn in her favorite rocking chair.

This ia a picture of Kaelyn after we told her that she couldn't stand up in the chair.

Kaelyn doesn't like to be told "no." She has a little flair for the dramatic.

Funny Stories I Have To Share...

I have been meaning to share these stories for a while, and kept forgetting to post them. These are both stories of Zeke using a little Brad-lingo.

When Zeke & K were last in Kerrville, one night everyone was sitting around the table for dinner. Everything got quiet for a moment....Zeke turns to Kendall....looked her straight in the eye and said, "Kendall, you are a SORRY SUCKER! Ha, Ha, Ha!!! My daddy always says me that! Ha, Ha, HA!" He's right...his daddy always says him that....I mean says that to him!

Last weekend we had a visit from Uncle Matt. One afternoon Matt took both kids into the back yard to play in the playhouse. After several minutes, Zeke came running back towards the house, crying for me because he had gotten hurt somehow. When I asked him what happened he cried out saying, "I was just playing & then Uncle Matt jacked me up in my arm pit!"

A Visit from Allison & Jordan

Allison & Jordan Kirksey brought us dinner on Monday evening. Both kids were fascinated by Jordan...even Kaelyn kept looking at her as if to say, "wow...look at the little baby!" As if they are SO different in age! It was cute to see Kaelyn with a baby. Z & K just wanted to love all over her.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Visit from Great Grandparents

Grandma & Grandpa Crotts came into town for a visit this past week. It was so good to see them and have a chance to show off the kids' new tricks (ie. Kaelyn's new walking skills & Zeke's swimming). Although you can't tell from the last picture, Kaelyn really enjoyed the visit too.

Thanks for coming to see us Grandpa & Grandma!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Little Touch of Crazy

On Thursday night when I was bathing Zeke, Kaelyn snuck into the bathroom & decided to climb straight in with her brother...fully clothed. I turned around to realize what had happened...Zeke then said, "But, I want to take a bath with my clothes on too!" I said, "what the heck...go ahead." Zeke proceeded to climb back out of the tub to put his clothes back on so that he could get back in dressed.

During this crazy episode, Zeke convinced his Nonnie to climb in too. He thought the whole thing was hysterical.

"Rock Band"

The Hanna's came over the other night to hang out. Brad pulled out his new "Rock Band" game and made everyone give it a try. Even Bill joined in with some very special "accompany dancer" moves. It was lovely. :)

Sandbox Fun

Papa C. filled the bottom of the playhouse with sand the other day so Brad & Zeke gave sandcastle building a try. The only problem was that Bucky kept getting in with them...trying to find a new cool, shady spot to relax.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Here she goes.....

This is for you Aunt Vickie! Ask & you shall receive...a video of K walking. She is starting to get the hang of it. There has been major improvement in her skill she only looks semi-intoxicated as she moves across the floor. We give her things to hold in her hand & for some reason this seems to help her balance. We've got to work on her coordination so she can be a highly-skilled athlete like her Mommy & Daddy :)

Today Kaelyn was even making an attempt at running...chasing after her daddy on the scooter as he was headed outside. It was as if she was saying, "WAIT for ME!!!" It was hysterical!

PS: If you want to hear Kaelyn talking, you'll have to pause the Acapella music at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Our Treatment Decision

To start off this evening, I must be honest and admit how I have mentally struggled over the past couple of weeks. Although I am generally a very positive, optimistic person, I found myself being completely overwhelmed & depleted at the task of deciding where to begin with Brad's alternative treatment. I have always prided myself in being a "get it done" kind of person & a very strong decision maker. In this case, it seemed the more we thought about the different alternative options, the more overwhelmed I became. I allowed negative thoughts to creep in...I allowed myself to be fearful instead of faithful, and allowed myself to worry about the unknown, instead of focusing on all the hope, peace, and healing that my Lord provides.

As I read a friend Becky's blog yesterday, I felt so convicted. Becky is such a wonderful woman with such a passion for the Lord's word. In her blog she shared
Phillipians 4:6.
"..with thanksgiving I can present my worries, even my tears to the Lord as a prayer while at the same time cultivating a heart of thankfulness. I love the way it reads in The Message. Do not fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
Thank you Becky for sharing what was on your heart. You gave me such a sense of peace & comfort, forcing me to realize where I have been mentally. I felt an immediate shift in my thoughts after reading your words...I appreciated reading what you shared so much.

On to our treatment deciding process...once Brad got over the initial wave of post-surgery last month & K started to feel better from her virus/ears/rash, we were feeling the pressing need to make a decision for what treatment we wanted to pursue for Brad. The stress of making sense of treatment information, with limited published results, was challenging to say the least. We have genuinely trusted all of the medical doctors who have brought us to this point and then now found that we reached a part in this journey in which they could no longer make suggestions or give advice about the alternative treatment options we were considering. It clearly seems that the medical professionals we have been working with only know general, standard cancer treatment options (i.e. chemo/radiation) and know very little outside of that.

Through many dicussions with a multitude of doctors from all over the country (MD Anderson, Mayo Clinic, Sloang a number of others), we have been told over & over that general chemo treatment options will have absolutely no effect on Brad's cancer. While historically chondrosarcoma has been best treated with surgery, surgical resection is not possible due to the location & number of spots that are now found on both of Brad's lungs.

One person who has been especially helpful in advising us with our decision is Dr. Ralph Moss. Moss is a researcher of cancer treatments..focusing on new research (both conventional and alternative). He evaluates the information in reports that he publishes for a person's specific cancer. We spoke with Moss on the phone where he suggested a number of supplements for Brad to try, along with a specific alternative treatment (Coley's Toxins & Newcastle Virus) that has shown effectiveness in fighting sarcoma. There were 2 specific locations that Moss focused on in our conversation: one hospital in Tijuana and one clinic in Germany.

Moss felt that the treatment in Germany would be best due to the combination of treatments the doctor uses there, plus he felt that the overall care given at the Germany clinic was the best. We have been torn about the decision, due to the extensive travel that both places would require and because of the extreme expense of both (i.e. the first round of 3-week treatment in Germany was estimated to cost between $60,000-$72,000)

After weeks of prayer, we finally came to a decision yesterday to travel to Germany for treatment. We are planning to leave at the end of this month. Brad will be under the care of Dr. Arno Thaller at the PraxisKlinik in Markt Berolzheim (a small German town about 2 hours outside of Munich).

Brad's treatment will include a 4-step process that's focuses on helping the body's immune system to attack the cancer:
Fever Therapy (using Coley's Toxins) -- this injection induces a fever, which harms cancer cells more than normal cells

Local Hyperthermia -- this is a heat-generating machine that focuses heat on the tumor -- it's used at the peak of the fever induced from step 1 so that there's an additive effect on the cancer

Virus Therapy (using Newcastle Disease Virus) -- this is a virus that's specifically bred on cancer cells, and preferentially targets those cancer cells for destruction. The idea is that the virus gets in and destroys as many cancer cells as possible before the virus itself is destroyed by the immune system (the virus is completely harmless to normal cells). The virus also performs a secondary function of "marking" with an antigen many more cancer cells than it kills -- this primes them for the final step:

Cancer Vaccine (or dendritic cell therapy) -- this step makes a vaccine from Brad's own dendritic cells, and injects it back into his body to "wake up" his T-cells to start attacking and killing the cancer cells. American drug companies are doing final Phase III trials on some similar vaccines. The advantages of Dr. Thaller's approach are that 1) the vaccine is made from Brad's own dendritic cells, so it is individualized; and 2) the cancer cells have been previously "marked" by the Newcastle Disease Virus, so that they will be more readily attacked by the T-cells once the vaccine is injected.

So, it looks like we (Brad, myself, Sandra, David, Mom, Dad, Zeke & K) will be spending the better part of June in Markt Berolzheim. Brad, myself, Sandra & David will most likely be leaving around the 28th of this month and then Mom, Dad & the kids will follow about a week or so (June 6thish?) behind us. This plan will allow us a chance to get settled in and adjust to Brad's therapy before the kids arrive.

We want to thank each of you for all of your prayers and unwavering support. We are so abundantly blessed. God has richly blessed our lives by placing each one of you in it. Thank you. We are asking for healing prayers now more than ever.

Dear Father,
Please be with our family over the weeks ahead as we make plans to travel to Germany for Brad's treatment. I pray that Brad's travel is as comfortable as possible. I pray that you watch over all of us and keep us safe. Please be with Dr. Thaller. Guide his hands as he works with Brad. I pray for Brad's peace of mind about the situation and I pray that he feels well cared for. I pray that his treatments run smoothly and that he is able to stay comfortable and is able to rest well in a new environment.

Please watch over Zeke & Kaelyn during this time. Make them feel safe & secure amidst the ever changing situations that surround them.

We are awaiting your miracle Father. Please lay your hands on Brad and heal him completely. We know that all things are possible through you. We cannot wait to share in the glory of your miraculous healing. Please bring Brad a swift and complete recovery.

We love you Father.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

She's Walking!

Well, little K has decided to walk. Friday marked the first day that I actually saw her attempt to walk more than crawl. While I would say she is far from mastery, she is taking quite a few steps at a time...usually 5-10. Most of the time she looks like she is either heavily sedated or completely drunk in her steps...she swaggers and falls all over the is hysterical to watch. She actually crosses her legs over each's crazy looking. I hope this first gross motor skill advancement is not shedding light on a severe lack of coordination. Let's put it this way....Kaelyn walks about as well as Nonnie throws (yikes!) Just kidding Nonnie!

Today Kaelyn turned 15-months-old. Here are some of Kaelyn's milestone/favorites:
1. She has 2 teeth & no signs of any others at the moment, but the lack of teeth doesn't seem to slow her down with eating...she can gum just about anything at this point.
2. She has had 5 haircuts.
3. She knows about 6 words: Da-Da, Bubba, Buck-key, pretty, & bye-bye.
4. She LOVES her brother...she laughs at him ALL the time
5. She really enjoys day a few weeks ago we left the door open to the truck and she scaled the side..about 4 feet up and climbed into her car seat & started to buckle herself in.
6. She LOVES books. She will actually sit in her room on the floor with the bucket of books for 20 minutes, turning the pages and looking at them by herself.
7. She likes to go outside. If the screen door is not latched, she will push it open and let herself outside.
8. Her favorite activity is riding on the scooter with her Daddy...they spend lots of time riding around the house, yard or neighborhood. Kaelyn has been known to try to push her brother off the scooter to try to encourage "alone time" with Daddy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Trip to Sea World

Brad & I went to Kerrville on Wednesday to pick up the kids. We had decided, since we were already so close, to stop by Sea World on the way home on Thursday. We stayed for about 4 hours, walking all over the park, seeing our favorite shows, and feeding our favorite animals. Zeke loved it. Over the last several months, Zeke has been talking about going to the park to find a Shamu animal to "take home." It was a lot of fun to watch Zeke taking everything in. He was so cute.

Zeke & I got to go in to a large bird house to feed them nectar. It terrified Zeke at first but after the keeper batted off the first 20 that landed on Zeke, leaving him with one, he really warmed up to it. I thought it was REALLY neat until one of the birds vomitted all over my shorts....gross little things. They were really pretty...even though I'm not a really big bird fan.

Zeke with his new friend.

Zeke & Daddy went into the gift shop and left with the biggest Shamu they could find. Zeke said it was the "hugemungest" they had...he was quite excited to take him home. Since then Zeke has been practicing his trainer moves with Shamu: standing on his back, jumping off his head and laying across his side to help him "wave his wing."

A quiet ride home after Sea World.

We rented an electric chair for Brad to use at the park...that worked out great. Zeke would stand on the back and pull his sister in the stroller behind him. Then I was free to do whatever...ha!

Zeke got to pet a dolphin (instead of Shamu)...he really enjoyed that. We also got a chance to feed some sea lions and some really pretty birds.

Zeke loved watching the Shamu show. He was absolutely captivated by the entire event. As the show was coming to a close he turned to me and said, "we can go in just a minute Momma...I just need to go down real quick and touch Shamu." (Hmmmm...I had a very difficult time convincing Zeke that it is the park's policy that they don't allow children to "pet" killer whales.)

This was Zeke's favorite ride at the park...Shamu's Roller Coaster. We rode it about 15 times. Towards the middle of the day, the kids' area really began to slow down and we actually rode the roller coaster by ourselves a few was great. Zeke cracked me up with how much he liked it...he is such a little dare devil.

Back to See Dr. Brinker

This past Tuesday Brad & I went in to follow up with Dr. Brinker (who repaired Brad's broken leg). The first words out of Brad's mouth that morning were, "Yippee...I get my staples out today!" Then the entire way to Brinker's office Brad sang (to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell") "My staples come out today, my staples come out today, oh boy, I cannot staples come out today!" I think he was ready to have them out...of course, I can't blame him...they had been in for 3 weeks by then & his skin was actually starting to grow over the staples. Yuck!

Dr. Brinker ran x-rays and said that Brad's leg was healing very well. We looked at the x-rays with him and man, there is a lot of metal in that!

The third picture is of the tech taking out Brad's staples. It is the same man who casted Brad's leg about 6 weeks ago. He is also a big Rockets fan so he & Brad talked sports again for the entire length of the visit....which players they like...which they didn't...who the Rockets should trade, etc.

The doctor's appointment was followed by a visit to see Brad's physical therapist, Jennifer Gordan. I got to watch as Jennifer tried to torture Brad a bit. I must admit, I think Brad has been doing VERY well with his therapy...I has seen quite a big improvement in his motion since he started back to therapy a few weeks ago. He's doing great!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Our 8th Anniversary!

Today Brad & I are celebrating 8 years together! Wow. The last picture is from case you couldn't tell...ha! Don't we look so young & refreshed....I think it is the week without our kiddos.

I feel especially blessed today, to be here with Brad spending special time together. Thank you God for giving such an amazing man in my life. I love so many things about him.
He is a fantastic husband & a wonderful father.
He loves to get down on the ground & wrestle with the kids & they LOVE it!
He is caring & compassionate.
He is enthusiastic.
He loves sports...especially the Aggies.
He is the most loyal person I have ever met.
He is intuative.
He has a terrific smile & is SO handsome.
He loves the Lord & has amazing faith.
He keeps an immaculate yard...caring about the way it looks so much more than I ever do....I even found him 1 week post-surgery crawling through the flower beds to weed them.
He makes me feel gorgeous & so good about myself.
He makes me LAUGH out loud ALL the time!
He always has something funny to say in light of difficult situations to help lift the mood.
He loves animals...especially dogs.
He works hard on his physical therapy & never complains (even though I know it is incredibly difficult)
He prays with me every night.
He gives me 20 second hugs every day (because he read somewhere that you should hug your wife at least 20 seconds daily :) ...this might be my favorite thing!

Here's to many more wonderful years together...cheers! Instead of wine, we decided to celebrate the day with a toast with "green goodness"...the green juice drink in my hand that Brad forces down with a smile on his face. There's nothing like a toast with a little wheat grass, broccoli, and a few other green juices...yum!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Week In Kerrville

The kids have been in Kerrville all week and they are having a BLAST! Gena sent some pictures today along with a message:
Hey Guys!
As you can see, Zeke has been hanging out with his cousins...he really liked going to the "big school" and having lunch with Ryan & Reg. Kealyn has Dan completely wrapped around her little finger. It's just downright pitiful! He'll even wear her bow in his hair if she want him too!!! They really like looking at the garden together and driving the tractor. Rainbow got to go to Up-N-Jacks and slide on the big slide with Zeke. We are all having a great time. I love seeing the kids together and how much they all love each other--we just need Cal & Jack to be here!

Zeke showing off his trampoline karate moves!