Charleston, Day 4

Today was more of a leisurely day for us. We hung around the hotel until afternoon since we were a little tired and my calf muscles are on fire. Thinking maybe that jog from yesterday was a bad idea…

We went for a late lunch at Hyman’s Seafood and my meal there was huge, but delicious. I got the Carolina Delight which is grit cakes with shrimp, bacon, cheese, and an alfredo sauce. They were so good, but by the time they got there I was already pretty full from the slaw, sweet potato fries, hush puppies, and onions. Everything was so good there. We saved our leftovers, thinking we would have them for dinner, since we planned to go on the evening boat tour.

By the time we walked down to the wharf, it was less than an hour before we could board the ship. We walked around a little and took pictures out on the pier. The boat tour was nice and it was a beautiful evening to be out on the water. We enjoyed the ride and took lots of pictures. Here are some of my favorites:

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pelicans flying overhead

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our ride

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a little South Carolina water

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our restaurant from the first night, in front of the US Customs House, which took many years and 19 acts of congress to get it built

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Fort Sumter

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The beach house I picked out for myself. ;)

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Pretty palmetto trees by the entrance to the Intercoastal waterway.

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Cool to see all the marine Research vessels out on the water.

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USS Yorktown at Patriot’s Point – this would have been cool to go to, but we weren’t really in the museum-y mood anymore.

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For real, the coolest bridge ever. I have so many pictures of it from this week… While on the boat, the captain angled us just right under it and blew the whistle and horn of the ship to let us hear how the bridge echoed. very neat.

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It is a city ordinance, that no building can be taller than the tallest church steeple. I thought this was really cool. Love the Holy City! 180 denominations and tons of beautiful churches.

After that we walked a little more and stopped at Cupcake down south (for beautiful, tasty cupcakes), and Paolo’s Gelato Italiano (for gelato & cannoli). It was a dessert for dinner kind of day, and after that we didn’t even end up touching the leftovers… Wonder if I can take shrimp and grits on the plane to go home?!

There are still so many things i’d love to be able to do, but we’re out of time for all the things that take up more than a couple of hours. Not sure what we will end up doing tomorrow, we will have about 4 hours and need to stay pretty close to the hotel so we don’t miss our ride back to the airport.

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Charleston, Day 3

This morning, I went to the fitness center at the hotel, planning to use the elliptical again, but when I got there it was already in use. Instead of waiting or skipping my workout, I taught myself to use a treadmill. For the first time ever, I ran (more like sloooow jogged) a mile, without stopping to walk once, and didn’t fall off the treadmill. I was so proud of myself, even if that mile took me a little over 20 minutes to jog. Definitely liked jogging on the treadmill more than all the times I’ve tried to jog outside. I was actually able to breathe which I usually have trouble with outside when I run. The treadmill also helps to keep me at a steady pace. :)

After I finished that and we had a little breakfast at the hotel, Kody and I headed out to the Historic Market for a walk through. It was interesting and there were many different things being sold. There are tons of palmetto leaf baskets and roses. They are neat and pretty, but the prices are too high for me to spend on something like that. I did find a Charleston T-shirt that I liked and we bought a surprise for the kids. We may end up going back for a piece of art…haven’t decided yet. There were two vendors that I really liked the work of, one with mixed media paintings, and the other with photograph canvases that were beautiful.
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After the market, we dropped our purchases off in the room, and headed out to lunch at the Black Bean Co. It was good and light, while we were out walking around. Then we headed to the aquarium, where we had free tickets waiting for us. :) It was not quite what we were expecting and would have obviously been more fun with kids. It was a nice little aquarium, but we both agreed that Newport’s is much better. They did have a really cool albino alligator and a cute little lizard from Madagascar who wanted to see what I was doing.

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Find the flounder!

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Do I look like the lion fish?

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We had a better view of the Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge. I love this bridge! So pretty.

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When we left the aquarium, I was feeling very hot and really exhausted. When we made it back to the hotel, I barely made it inside before laying down. After some rest, and a whole lot of water and cool air, I felt much better. We made reservations for Poogan’s Porch, got ready, and then walked around for a bit before we had to be there.

Poogan’s Porch had been recommended by a couple of friends and I had high expectations. I ordered the grilled porkchop with brussels sprouts and potato gnocchi. It was good and the place was nice, I think maybe I was just so spoiled last night that I was hoping for something similar. Our waitress tonight was nice, but it was clear that she was more interested in her other customers. Service was a little slow even though all the tables weren’t filled. I think if I had things to do over again, I would save the best restaurant for last. Not sure what we will do for dinner tomorrow! It’s so hard to choose.

So, another good day. Yesterday was certainly the highlight so far. Really missing the kids now, though. It was a little hard to walk through the aquarium and see all the families together and notice things that the kids would have liked. Still, we are enjoying being alone and know we will be home soon enough. Hopefully they are having lots of fun with Gram & Grandaddy and barely missing us.

Here are a few more buildings I think are beautiful, from today:

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Charleston, Day 2

I woke up this morning and let Kody sleep in a bit. I had to get a little work out in, in the fitness center. Have to keep up with all this good food we’re eating! After that we went down and had a little breakfast in the hotel cafe. It was good, but simple, just what we needed.

We decided to go for our carriage tour that we got with our hotel room package. We had a very good tour guide and our horse Picasso was good at his job as well. The tour guide knew a lot of information (I know it’s his job…) and had lots of side stories that were fun. I enjoyed the tour and I think Kody did too, even if he “doesn’t like old stuff”, ha! Here are some pictures of places he told us about.

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Our horse, Picasso. Our tour guide is the one helping people get on the carriage. We got to sit right in the front, which was nice so we could hear.

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Arthur Middleton’s house, which now houses some kind of arts society, sorry can’t remember the name… He also owned Middleton Place, which looks to be a beautiful plantation. Wish we could make it there, but we probably won’t.

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Entrance to College of Charleston, the first municipal college in America. Beautiful and sounds like they have some beautiful traditions.

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A mansion built in 1886, started prior to the big earthquake as a house, and after the earthquake came and the builder/owner made lots of money (insurance salesman) he built it even bigger than planned. It was very interesting to find out why so many of the houses have huge bolts in the sides of them. The ones with the bolts were there before the devastating earthquake and had to be fortified afterward. There were some that didn’t have bolts and definitely had a lean to them. It was also interesting to see the houses from different time periods pointed out. Charleston is such a beautiful city.

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Then there was the old city jail, which is supposedly the most haunted building in Charleston. I don’t really believe in ghosts, but we didn’t go on any ghost tours, just in case. ;)

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Beautiful trees and plants all over. One thing our guide talked about was all the landscaping companies and the groups who make sure Charleston looks good. It is a very tourist heavy place and they want their city to look good. It is also such a beautiful old city with a rich and long history that they want to preserve. Also interesting, is the fact that almost all the houses are brick, and the ones that don’t look it have been covered with stucco or wood planks. However the city is apparently very prone to fires. Kody and I thought that was strange. The bricks were made from clay out of the Ashley river.

After the tour, we walked (much further than we thought) to the visitor’s center to look around. Then we stopped for a late, light lunch at Delish, which was a little bakery type restaurant, with tasty sandwiches. We were tired and starting to get blisters from our poor shoes choices from the morning, so we stopped back at the hotel and collapsed for longer than we meant to. I wanted to go through the historic downtown market, but they had shut down by the time we had energy to go back out. I will do that in the morning instead. So, we made a dinner reservation and after resting made our way to The Charleston Grill.

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The Charleston Grill was amazing. I can honestly say it was the best dinner I’ve ever had. I ordered the Mango Pickled Shrimp appetizer, Prime Beef Tenderloin entree, and some kind of really yummy dessert that I can’t find on the online menu. It had coconut sorbet, key lime sauce, macadamia nuts, and puff pastries filled with dulce de leche. The whole meal was perfect and the service, from our waiter, Chip and his assistant, Andre, was excellent. We got to listen to a live jazz band for much of our dinner and it was perfect. A super nice pre-anniversary, anniversary dinner.

If I’ve learned anything in the past two days, it’s that Charleston loves it’s visitors! Everyone we have encountered wants to make life a little happier for us. Such a fun, welcoming big city.

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Charleston, Day 1

What a fun first day of our trip! Kody and I have never had a trip anywhere alone, so this has been like a honeymoon, but so much better. We already know each other super well, so we’re having a great time doing the things we enjoy. Well, we have been since we actually made it to Charleston. ;) Here’s a recap of our day:

Woke up at 5:00 am and got ready to make the trek to the airport. We said goodbye to the kids the night before, so we wouldn’t have to wake them up early. Kyler ended up waking up anyway…I couldn’t resist giving him extra smooches. It was so hard to leave him, especially when he started to put his shoes on and then cried when we walked out the door. (He’s fine now!) Anyway, we got out the door and on our way. There were a few little arguments over the directions we had and how we were going to get there on time, but we made it to the airport in Nashville and through all the security with 30 minutes before boarding began. I am so glad that we paid for early check in, because our flight was completely full. I got a window seat and poor Kody was stuck in the middle, but I think he had a good neighbor who didn’t elbow him or anything. I started to get a headache as soon as we were on the flight and Kody had one by the time we got off the plane. Not sure where those came from, but we were able to get them under control. He was laughing at me for most of the flight, because I was a little stressed out. I don’t like small enclosed spaces, especially with other people and I don’t like moving super fast, or feeling out of control, or a little turbulence from the clouds, apparently. Here is a picture from before I started freaking out:

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I did love looking at the clouds and snapped some pretty pictures:

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When we got to Charleston, we waited to share a shuttle with others going downtown, so we could save some money. I thought it was kind of funny that we ended up with a husband (wearing a kippah), his wife and young baby, 2 men that looked/sounded Arabic, and a middle aged gentleman. The baby cried most of the trip, and I felt so sad for the parents. I wanted to do something to reassure them, but they were in the back and we were at the front and they got off at the first stop. Anyway, no one said anything mean to them, so I was glad for that. The shuttle driver was very nice and it was nice to not worry about navigating and trying to find our hotel on our own. We arrived 3 hours before our check-in time, but were able to check-in early, which was so nice since we still had those headaches at that point. It was so good to lie down for a little bit and get our stuff unloaded. Since we’d only had snacks up until then, we decided to head out for dinner (it was after 3 by this point, so lunch was skipped…) We ended up at Fleet Landing:

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Where we had these yummy hushpuppies, stuffed with shrimp and lobster:

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Then we walked out on the pier at waterfront park and explored a little:

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Pineapple fountain, anyone?

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After relaxing a bit, we headed to King Street for a little shopping and finished off the night with some Starbuck’s coffee. Here a couple more pictures from our walk:

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Loved this pink house (and all the colorful houses of Charleston).

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And, this brick cobblestone road.

Now we’re relaxing and will hopefully make a bit of a plan for the week, now that we’re here and have seen some of what we can do. So thankful for this trip!

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First Day of School

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I’ve been ready to get back to school and back to our schedule since the summer began, but it was just too difficult to keep it up/get going again. Now that everyone is well, I really didn’t have an excuse. I decided that we needed to start despite our upcoming vacation. So, we started back this week. It was a good little short week and I think it will be a good thing to have a break again. I’m calling this our soft start and after next week we will get back into it full swing.

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Kameron is working harder this year, since we’re doing kindergarten and Taylor is super excited to be back doing school work. She even wanted to complete some extra credit this first week. Kristopher is thrilled to be back at it, as you can tell from the pictures. Typical 7th grader…doesn’t want mom to take cute pictures or make him do anything that isn’t his idea. ;)

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For right now, we’re just finishing up last year’s bible/science/history curriculum and are working on new English and Math. When we finish our current My Father’s World package we will order the next one. I am hoping to do this by mid November.

Hope you all have/had a great first day back and enjoy the fall as much as I am so far!

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Summer Reading

I guess I need to finish this post before school starts! The kids didn’t get to participate in the summer reading program at our library this year. It was the first, and only, year that all four of them could have been in the same program and we didn’t get to sign up. By the time I got there, two days after sign ups opened!) to sign them up all the spots were filled for the two sessions early in the day and I didn’t want to try to squeeze in the night session. I was a little sad that they couldn’t do it, but since we’ve participated for the last 7 years and the programs are almost the same each year, it wasn’t too terrible. :) We still spent quite a bit of time at the library this summer and the kids read lots of books.

Even though they didn’t do the kids program, I signed up for the Adult Summer Reading Program. I really had my sights set on winning one of the kindle fires that they gave out as the grand prize drawings at the end. To get your name in for those, you had to read books. They also gave out 15 gift cards each week to gas stations and restaurants. I didn’t end up with a Kindle, but I did get a $10 gas card one week. At the beginning of the summer they also give adults who sign up a little gift bag with a t-shirt and other goodies. It is worth signing up just for that. Here is my summer reading list:

Moriarty Returns A Letter: This was a quick, fun read. If you like all things Sherlock, you might like it, too.

The ACB with Honora Lee: I’m always reading books from the Young Adult and Junior sections at our library, trying to find good things for the kids to read. This was on the new book shelf this summer and I’m glad I picked it up. It was a heartwarming, fun story. I would not have a problem with my two oldest reading it, which is not always the case when I read books from the younger sections.

Sons of Moriarty & More Stories of Sherlock Holmes: There were some good little stories in here, and some that I felt dragged on and I didn’t really want to finish. Honestly, I did not enjoy the main part of the book: the novella, Sons of Moriarty, as much as the rest of the stories. Still, a good read if you like Sherlock and Dr. Watson.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Interrupted Tale: This was the fourth book in the series, which I have been waiting for. I think it’s a really good series in the young adult section, however not something I would recommend to my children yet. Kristopher could probably handle it, now, as 12, but I really want to see how the series ends before suggesting it..and I thought it would end with the fourth book, but we’re left hanging again. I recommend this book, if you like short books and like a fun plot, fun characters, and an older style of writing than we’re used to.

Waiting for Morning: As all of Karen Kingsbury’s novels are, this was a sad story. I cried when two of the main character’s family members died and I screamed at her when she didn’t pay attention to her daughter who lived. I wanted so much to change the story. It was well written and while reading it, I remembered why I don’t read a lot of her books anymore. They make me too sad, because I get way too wrapped up in the story. It was a good story about forgiveness though and I am glad that she wrote the end the way that she did. If you can make it through all the sadness, this is a good read for you.

Prayers for the Stolen: This was another book off the new book shelf. Honestly, if I hadn’t been trying to read for the summer reading program, I would have put it down after the first couple of chapters. If this book shows what it is really like to live in places in Mexico, I feel so sad for the people who live there. I am sure it happens, but it is hard to believe that girls get stolen right out of their homes with their parents there. It is hard to believe that they have to dig holes to hide in for this reason. The book is a work of fiction, but most fiction (I would think) is written from some truth. I hate to think that these things really happen. The language in the book is not very fun to read either. It wasn’t all that terrible, but wasn’t nice either.

Sycamore Row: If you know me, you know I love John Grisham. I have most of his books, but I must have been in a hole, because I didn’t know he had a new one out. Sycamore Row was so good. It was fun to see Jake Brigance again, and it was a wonderfully written book. As suspenseful as all his books, I had no idea where he was going with the storyline most of the way through the book, and once I did I didn’t know how his characters would react. Definitely recommend this one!

Aunt Dimity & The Wishing Well: Again, this is not a book I would normally have picked up, or finished, but I grabbed it off the new book shelf and read it so I could put my name on another ticket. :) The story isn’t terribly bad, but it is all kind of ridiculous. I am glad that at the end it turned out that the wishing well wasn’t really granting people’s wishes, and the storyline in that respect was good. I do think the whole Aunt Dimity is dead, but writes to her living niece in a notebook is way far fetched. Some of the characters really got on my nerves too. If you like nonsense writing (IMHO), you might enjoy this book.

Unglued: I read most of this book over the summer and participated in a bible study with a group from church. Lisa Terkeurst writes in an easy to understand way and gives ideas and solutions that will help you to be a little more glued together. She also tries to help you understand why you come unglued and makes you feel a little less alone with her stories. This is a good book and if you take the tips to heart you will not only feel better, but maybe even feel like a new person. And, if you think you’ve never come unglued, this book probably isn’t for you. I sure have, though!

So, what did you read this summer? Anything you’d recommend? Anything you think I should stay far away from? Hope you had a summer filled with good books! I can’t imagine a life without books. I saw this image a few days ago, and it is very hard to believe these numbers:

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image credit: patheos.com

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Hospital Whirlwind

It has been another crazy week for us. I was close to losing my mind by Thursday night, but by Friday afternoon I had calmed down considerably. Monday afternoon we went swimming with a group from our church. We had lots of fun and were worn out (and quite sunburned) when we got home. Kameron had a little bit of a runny nose and coughed occasionally, but I thought maybe he just overdid it with water in his nose or something. I really should have seen it for what it was, though, since he’s started out like that before when he’s had trouble breathing. Tuesday, he was coughing a lot more and wheezing some. By that night, he was wheezing considerably and we had started giving him breathing treatments at home and had given a dose of zyrtec. Those treatments usually work pretty well. He kept sounding worse to us, but wasn’t blue or in what looked like terrible shape, so we waited out the night, giving breathing treatments every four hours and watching him move around restlessly. As soon as our doctor’s office opened, I called and made the earliest appointment.

We got to the doctor’s office and saw his regular pediatrician’s partner, who immediately started talking asthma caused by possible allergy. (which is what we already thought/knew, we just couldn’t get the attack stopped) This was the first time that we’ve taken him in and had his blood oxygen level turn out to be low. They did blood work, a lung x-ray, gave him an epinephrine injection, another breathing treatment, and put him on oxygen.

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After all of that, he was breathing better and his level had come back up. However, it still looked like he was sucking in air too hard by the rise and fall of the skin in the middle of his collar bone. So, she had us leave and go get lunch and then she wanted to see him back to recheck him before letting us go home. We went and got lunch and ate it in the doctor’s office parking lot. We were gone for, maybe, 45 minutes and when we returned Kameron sounded just as bad as he did when we walked through their door the first time and his oxygen level had dropped way down. Dr. KB wanted to have him admitted to the hospital so they could monitor and hook him up to oxygen and IV steroids and get him better. At this point I was still doing alright and acting calm. Then she decided that she didn’t want him off of oxygen while we drove over and the hospital actually went through the admitting process, so he was going to ride over on an ambulance! The only problem was that I had all four kids there by myself and Kody & his parents were all 20-30 minutes away and my friend who I would normally call to help me quickly was out of town. I called the next person I would call in an emergency and she didn’t answer…twice. Now, I was flipping out. I couldn’t get ahold of the one person I thought would help me and I had no idea when the ambulance would arrive. I decided to try and text her, in case she was just somewhere she couldn’t pick up the phone. Thankfully, she answered that and was able to come get the other kids. Kody arrived shortly after that, and before the ambulance did, so I rode with Kameron and he took our van over. It was so good to both be there for all of that and have the other kids elsewhere. So thankful for M!

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Things weren’t fun at the hospital, not that they usually are, but Kameron did start to get better and at least could breathe! He screamed through the whole IV process and that IV blew on the second day there. On Thursday afternoon, while we were sitting at the hospital waiting for our pediatrician to arrive, Kyler started having trouble breathing and was wheezing terribly. I had to leave and get him home for some allergy meds and a breathing treatment. Nothing was helping him either, and we ended up in the ER that night with him, mostly because we were scared if we didn’t go ahead and get him seen he would end up like Kameron. The doctors do all think they must have come in contact with something they are both allergic to, so we will probably get them both tested as soon as we can. Kyler was able to just get a dose of IV steroids and another breathing treatment. I will tell you that I was about to cry and felt like pretty much the worst mom ever while I was sitting in the ER with one child, while another was upstairs. Kyler was released a couple of hours after we got there and we did breathing treatments and followed up with Dr. J the next day. He has done well since then (although is still on breathing treatments and claritin). That’s when I started to relax a little.

When Dr. J checked on Kameron Friday night, it looked like we were going to get to go home Saturday. He had been hooked up to oxygen non-stop since we arrived and he was doing so much better that she wanted to go ahead and try to take it off. If he could be off of it and have his level stay at 94% or above we could go home. We were praying and hoping and ecstatic, because Kody and I were supposed to leave for Charleston on Monday. If he could go home Saturday we could still get everything worked out and leave for that. Well, he made it about an hour and then his level dropped. Oxygen went back on. They tried again in the morning, oxygen level dropped, oxygen was put back on. Dr. J came in and said he’d have to spend another night at least, because he had to stay until his oxygen would stabilize. So, thankfully, we were able to change our flights and hotel reservations around without penalty and we just started going with the flow. A little while after we changed the trip, they removed the oxygen again and this time his level stayed where they wanted it. It almost felt like God was saying, “good, I’m glad you decided to change your trip.” Sunday afternoon we got to come home!

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Because of the steroids, Kameron has been craving Doritos, so I bought him some at the pharmacy to go along with his big bag of medicines. I also bought a pulse oximeter so we can check his oxygen level at home. With the exception of two nights ago, for a little while, he has been in the good range. We go back for a recheck next week. Praise God that my boy is okay!

Kameron was really very good at the hospital, and very understanding about what he had to do to get better. He did start to get tired of people talking to him and of the hospital’s schedule and all the treatments on the last day or so. What really saved us all during this time, were prayers and thoughtful messages and visits from friends and family, and Kameron’s Kindle. That distracted him most of the time. Thank you to everyone who helped us or prayed for Kameron last week!

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