Every Week Should Be Break Week

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Looks familiar from last week’s post, right? And the week before…and the week before. I’m telling you, I am so sick of snow. I’m ready to pack up everything and move South. Maybe Louisiana…or Texas…or Australia. We’ve gotten so much snow that our city was completely unprepared. They ran out of salt for the streets, and all the stores ran out of rock salt. Of course we didn’t have any, so I told my husband to sprinkle some cat litter for traction. He did more than sprinkle. He poured so much out front and out back that it looked like we were living on a beach. What a mess. He’s got most of it cleaned up now, and he’s got a plan on how he’ll shovel up the rest. Oy vey.

Anyway…on with the week…

This was our first ever break week since we’ve started unschooling. If you’re questioning why we even needed a break, I wrote about it right here. This entire week has had me pleasantly surprised.
I honestly thought that since I would not be limiting screen time that I would have a bunch of Minecrafting zombies, especially considering the fact that we’ve gotten four new laptops this week. I myself have been spending quite a bit of time on mine. Hey, give me a break. I’ve been doing all my online activity, including writing my blog, on my Android! This is new to me, too!
Looking back on the week, though, I’ve noticed something that did not escape Arianna’s attention either…the kids have been doing more this week than since we started unschooling! This has completely validated my theory that children learn best without expectations.
I found it exceedingly funny that on our second day of break, several of the kids spent hours playing school. IMAG5139 (1) And not just your typical ABC’s stuff, either. I walked into the living room, and Caollin was using our solar system model to quiz the kids on the planets. Then, she had them all sit and listen while she played with the interactive tablet that goes with it. Shortly afterward, I heard music. I looked in on the kids and saw that Caollin had “Fifty Nifty United States” playing on her tablet while the kids sang, and she played guitar! I was so happy, I almost couldn’t contain myself, but I managed to play it cool because I didn’t want to ruin the moment.
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably remember that my kids love arts and crafts, so, of course, these activities played a huge role in our week.
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Yes, she's wearing a bathing suit top in the middle of winter. Choose your battles, right?
Yes, she’s wearing a bathing suit top in the middle of winter. Choose your battles, right?

Summer's always a mess, isn't she?
Summer’s always a mess, isn’t she?

It’s taken the older kids some time to get used to Minecraft on the PC since they’ve always played the pocket edition. They’ve really learned a lot, though, and Dillon has been as diligent as ever in researching mods. He was so excited today because he learned how to make a portal using obsidian and a snowman using a pumpkin. (I have no clue.) IMAG5158
Arianna made her own lipstick with Crayola Crayons (she learned it from a makeup tutorial). She said it worked well, but it was really hard to pour it into the little containers.
I was checking my emails today when I heard Caollin using my phone to learn French on Mango Languages. I’ll tell you, out of everyone, Caollin has surprised me the most this week because she’s the one who’s spent the most time doing nothing but petting the cats. As I alluded to earlier, even Arianna has noticed the difference this week. She mentioned to me last night that we should always have break because everyone’s been so much busier…and happier. A very wise observation, I would say.
I bought my first digital camera today (yes, my 14 year old has a DSLR, but I’ve only been using my Android to take pictures). It’s certainly not a DSLR, but, hopefully, today will be the last day I have to post blurry pictures. I’m really excited about it because when you have a lot of kids, you tend to forget to do things for yourself once in a while…so this is my present to me.
Tomorrow we’re planning on finding a pantry for our kitchen because we just don’t have enough cabinet space. Saturday we’ll be having our first family portrait taken in three years. I was so afraid that Brendan, my 20 year old, would have to work, but he’s coming, too! Afterwards, the 13 of us will be taking my mom to Denny’s for her birthday. (Kids eat free! Ahem. They’ll love us.) I’ve already reserved the entire back room. We only take the kids out to a restaurant about once a year, so they’re usually very well-behaved. We shall see…

What’s your week been like?

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Five Great Homeschool Resources and a Giveaway

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link. See my disclosure policy.

I always get so excited when talking about homeschooling resources. They can come in so many different forms, but they all have one thing in common-inspiration. Today I’ve compiled a list of five amazing tools to add excitement and encouragement to your homeschool. The great thing about these is that they can all be applied to any homeschooling style with the proper tweaking. And here’s the good part: stick around until the end for a giveaway!! Now, on to the list!

1. Konos Character Curriculum– This is an excellent unit study that is made to last approximately two years. It covers grades K-8 and it’s cross-curricular- it covers everything. Before unschooling, this was our main curriculum, and even now we use it when we’re looking for great activities. Some activities we’ve done through Konos are:
-We had a Medieval Feast in which the kids prepared food from that era and served it to guests who
ate out of trenchers with their hands. They were each assigned two roles- one as a server and one
as an entertainer. Some examples are: carver, page, jester, etc.

-We made an ear tunnel. We used things from around the house to build a model of the ear canal and
inner ear. The kids got to crawl through it and name the parts of the ear as they went along.

-We dissected a cow eyeball. Okay, my husband took the lead on that because I was really
grossed out by it…but the kids loved it!

2.Five in a Row-This brings back so many memories. This is the curriculum we used our very first year of homeschooling. I actually borrowed it from a friend because when I decided to pull the kids out of school, I had absolutely nothing curriculum-wise. The very first book we covered was The Story About Ping. I still remember having them draw and count little ducks, since the story takes place in China;then, we made chicken fried rice for lunch. This was also the year we also fell in love with such books as The Story of Ferdinand and Cranberry Thanksgiving. Those are books we still check out from the library to this day.

3.Learning All the Time, by John Holt, isn’t a curriculum, but it is a great read on the process of how children learn things. This book was a major deciding factor in my decision to unschool, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve read it several times.

4.The Homeschooling Handbook is also not curriculum but is an excellent resource not only for prospective and new homeschoolers, but also for homeschooling veterans. There’s such a vast array of information in this book- from learning styles and homeschooling methods to record keeping and learning resources. This is another book in my house that’s quite dog-eared.

5.I am so excited for this last one. This Spring, an up-and-coming magazine, home/school/life, is being released. This is going to be a treasure trove of information. Unlike many other homeschool magazines, this will have something for everyone-and I mean everyone. It will be chock full of hands-on project ideas, unit studies,seasonal activities, field trip ideas and travel advice, and-my favorite part- a different homeschooling family will be featured in every issue. I don’t know about you, but I love to see how other homeschoolers do things. These little glimpses into other homes have actually ignited a lot of our homeschool philosophies we’ve implemented into our home. It will be available in digital format for all you techies and print format for all you traditionalists.

And now for the good part…home/school/life is offering a free one-year digital subscription to one of my readers. All you have to do is subscribe to my blog and leave a comment saying that you did so! The lucky winner will be randomly selected on March 19! The contest ends at 9pm EST the day the winner is chosen. Best wishes to you all!

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Welcome to Talkin’ With the Sun!

This is my son Brendan’s beautiful girlfriend. Check out her new blog!

Talkin' With The Sun

Hey wonderful! This is my first post on my blog, Talkin’ With the Sun! I just want to take this time to explain what this blog will be about.

It’s about everything.

Whoo, glad I got that out of the way! But no really, it really is going to be about pretty anything that pops into my head. I focus a lot on my hobbies and my studies, but I also talk about daily life, fashion, beauty, dreams, goals, inspirations, and a whole slew of other things. OH, and don’t forget food and DIY. We can’t live without those!

I’d like to introduce myself a little bit now. My name is Kimberly Ghorm and I am a college student (which would explain why I’m typing this at the library right now and pretending I’m doing schoolwork). I’m a nursing major with a soon-to-be minor in psychology. I go to Indiana…

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Let’s Talk Curriculum

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the products or businesses listed here. This is all my opinion, and I am not being compensated in any way.

It’s that time of year again- curriculum shopping time! Being the nerd that I am, there’s just nothing like receiving those boxes of new books at my doorstep. But I have to confess, I was a little worried that this year would be a bit of a disappointment. You see, unschooling means using life as your curriculum, and, to me, just a few weeks ago I was lamenting the fact that the only actual curriculum I would be buying were the books for Devin’s private investigation unit.
I needn’t have worried. This has, by far, been the best curriculum shopping year ever because I wasn’t confined to buying just books. Here I’m going to share our newest learning tools for the rest of this year and next year.

Our Books

-Life of Fred- In order to make math less monotonous and more enjoyable for everyone, we’ve all decided on Life of Fred for math.I actually ordered almost every single book available up through advanced algebra. The only one I did not get is beginning algebra because Dillon won’t be doing that until 10th grade. I also ordered the Life of Fred high school language arts curriculum as well.

Teaching Astronomy through Art Books 1 and 2

Astronomy- A Self-Teaching Guide

Understanding Psychology- Third Edition

Traditional Logic 1- Introduction to Formal Logic

The Definitive Book of Body Language, Body Language 101, and Liespotting

For those of you new to my blog, you can find our approach to unschooling high school here-https://redheadmom8.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/navigating-the-red-tape-part-3-our-path-to-an-accredited-diploma/

All the Other Good Stuff

– Minecraft Homeschool

– Five Below is a homeschooler’s dream. It has such a vast array of activities for kids at the lowest possible prices. We purchased tons of crafts, paints, sketchbooks, mini Lego sets, books-yes, more books-, and games.

– Toys R Us has also been an excellent resource for us. While it is a bit pricier, the quality and assortment of activities is phenomenal. Some examples of what we got there are:
– a model solar system with an interactive tablet
– a microscope, telescope, and binoculars
– Lincoln Logs and Legos
– a butterfly kit where you actually send away for real caterpillars
– soooo many games
– Monopoly
– Yahtzee
– Scattergories
– Duck Dynasty trivia
– Brain Quest States game
– a keyboard which is compatible with Apple devices
– a Pretend and Play school set- my personal favorite since my girls love to play school

– We did get a few items at Walmart as well, such as a kid’s guitar, which is really just a miniature version of a real guitar, a mini trampoline, and a sewing machine, since the girls and I really want to learn how to sew.

Our “school” shopping this year has far surpassed my expectations. Now onto watching the kids get inspired!!

What has been your favorite curriculum purchase?

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Break Week??? But You’re Unschoolers!

#unschooling

     Tomorrow marks the beginning of our first break week since Christmas break. Since we school year round, we follow a six weeks on, one week off schedule with longer breaks over Christmas, Easter, and the summer. Why do you need breaks if you’re unschooling? you might ask. I can only answer for our family, but here’s why.

– I don’t need to log in what my children do during this break. Think of it as more of a break for me than my kids. While this week may look similar to ”on” weeks, I can take a breather from the tedious record-keeping required by PA.

– My kids can get a respite from their math curriculum. To be sure, there will be plenty of math learned this week, but they won’t even realize it! Measuring for experiments and recipes, board games, divvying up meal portions, and geometry will continue as usual. These are activities that come naturally to my children. Unfortunately, required standardized testing has made me anxious enough that I do require my kids in third grade and up to complete a traditional math curriculum. I really do have trouble reconciling this. I see my kids doing math all the time without ever knowing it, but, somehow, I doubt that would be enough for the school district. I am switching to Life of Fred next year, though. (I actually just ordered almost all of these books since I have such a wide age range.) This erases the sting a little because literature based math will definitely be better for everyone to swallow.

I can just let my children be. Although I’m definitely getting better at this, I still feel sometimes like I’m hovering over them to see exactly what they’re doing so I can later write it down. I often wonder if the powers that be realize how much this hinders learning. If a child is left alone, he/she will naturally accomplish so much more than if they know they’re being watched. I know this. I’ve seen it happen with my own children. They’ll be happily pursuing any number of activities, but if I start questioning them too much, they’ll immediately freeze and just stop. Maybe it’s out of self-consciousness or thinking that what they were doing wasn’t what I expected of them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t show interest in what your children are doing…I’m saying that, in my case, I went a little overboard. And I’ll admit that even now I still unintentionally express irritation sometimes when I don’t see the value of their pursuits. This is not a fault of my children- it’s my own, and I’m working hard to rid myself of this ”school” mentality.

     So, this is why my family takes ”breaks.” They’re still learning all the time, but they’re learning in freedom this week. Freedom from an overregulated state and, as a result, a leech for a Mom. And, honestly, that’s enough for anyone to need to take a breather.

Do you school year round? If you’re unschooling (or not), do you feel the need for breaks as well? I’d love to read your thoughts on this!

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Random 5 Friday- Snowed In!

#snowedin

Our area got record- breaking snow accumulation yesterday- at least 20 inches.

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This means that we’ll be stuck in the house for a while, so creativity is going to be key. Here are five things we’ve done since being snowed in.

1. We made good use of DVDs. American Girl DVDs, Ponyo, and The Emperor’s New Groove have been hits.

2. We’ve done lots and lots of crafting- painting rocks, Chinese lanterns, Sharpie art, and clay creations.

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3. Lots of learning has been happening through silly and gross facts books, solar system games, and Egyptian treasures kits.

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4. Minecraft, as usual, is occupying much of the big kids’ time.

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5. Lastly, my personal favorite, random silliness has been rampant.

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What are your favorite homebound activities??

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An Intimate Glimpse into Life with Ten Kids- February

#extralargefamilies

     Life with ten kids isn’t easy, but it’s usually not as hectic as most people would believe. Today you’re invited in to our unschooling household- as is…no embellishments (like I would need to do that), no gloss overs. This is the real deal.
     If you’re not familiar with my blog, here is another post in which I listed everyone by name and, if it’s one of the kids, by age. Just to clarify things, we actually have eleven kids, but our oldest, Brendan, is twenty and no longer lives at home. I always feel bad leaving him out, so now that that’s off my chest…on to our day!

February 13, 2014

1:40am- I wake up to use the bathroom and decide to moderate some comments on my blog- I hate to let them sit all night. Shortly afterwards, Kenzie wakes up. She goes back to sleep after a few minutes of fussing. (She’s teething again. I feel like every time I write one of these posts, she’s teething and crabby. Oh, well. Such is life.)

2:45am- I’m still awake- that blasted Dunkin Donuts coffee! Kenzie wakes up again, then shortly falls back asleep.

3:20am- …still awake…Kenzie wakes again. I get her calmed down again. I check my Twitter, since I can’t sleep anyway. I try watching some goofy SyFy movie, hoping it will put me to sleep, to no avail. I don’t know how it is with you, but I need to be watching something that actually interests me in order to fall asleep. Put in my favorite movie, I’m out like a light. Turn on an infomercial, and I’m up all night. So…I put in a Sherlock DVD- the one where Moriarty returns, and I’m out in 15 minutes flat. See?

7:15am- London wakes up and asks me if I can play Yahtzee with her. Not now. Can she make a clay charm? Later. Sigh…I might as well get up.
   Shawn is off today because of the weather. I open the front door to look out and see this-

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Already?

7:45- I hear most of the other kids awake upstairs. Kenzie is content…for the moment.

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8:15- By now Kenzie’s screaming. As you’re reading this, just imagine it as background music because I hear it off and on all.day.long. I make myself coffee and a bagel and cereal for the kids.

9am- Chore time! Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, but that doesn’t stop several of the kids from whining. After a minute or two, they stop, and everything gets done. Chores only take 15-20 minutes, if that.

9:15- I get Ireland, Summer, and Kenzie dressed. Then their dresser falls apart.

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If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

9:30- I went to 5 Below and bought a ton of stuff the day before, so the kids are eager to try everything.

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Little decals came with this kit to cut out and put on the rocks like tattoos. We must have twenty pairs of scissors, but I can’t find any, so I have to use a utility knife. Not particularly safe when you’ve got children surrounding you.

Suddenly, I hear Shawn and Dillon upstairs yelling and banging things. Apparently, there was a mouse in my shoe tote. They got it. Yuck.
Unfortunately, all the noise wakes up Kenzie, who fell asleep only 45 minutes earlier.

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She is not a happy camper. Poor thing.

10am- The kids move on to clay, a 3-d animal game, and pretending to be pirates.

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Summer didn’t have a pirate scarf for her head, so she used bubble wrap. Innovation.

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Kenzie is much happier by this time.

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11am- I introduce drawing with Sharpies. Remind me to keep Summer far away from them.

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Since I have to keep a close eye on the kids with the Sharpies, I create my own masterpiece.

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Here’s Summer’s masterpiece. I guess I should have watched them closer.

While we’re drawing, Shawn is busy trying to put together a makeshift shovel. Ours broke the other day when he was shoveling the neighbor’s driveway. Because of the snow there’s not a single store in town that has any in stock.

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Isn’t he handy? It’s actually pretty hilarious because it’s like seven feet tall.

I decide to look outside again.

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Really??

11:30- The kids have exhausted me with their flitting from one activity to another. I put in American Girl- Molly, hoping to get them to sit for a while. Only Caollin, Bailey, Ireland, and Summer stay to watch it. Everyone else, besides Kenzie, goes upstairs with Shawn. That’s fine with me!

12pm- Lunchtime! PB&J uncrustables and beefsteak- they can pick either one. Devin wakes up. Okay, we woke her up.

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She just loves to have her picture taken!

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Dillon’s learned to just ignore me.

12:50- There’s a knock at the door. Our neighbor’s son has shoveled our front steps and sidewalk, since Shawn shoveled his mom’s driveway. (She’s so sweet. She was Devin’s first grade teacher; she’s retired now.) This motivates Shawn to shovel out our driveway out back.

1pm- I read Little House to Dillon, Arianna, Caollin, and Bailey. Devin starts her schoolwork. After Little House, I read aloud to London, Bailey, Luke, Ireland, and Summer while Dillon, Arianna, and Caollin do silent reading. They read twice a day- after family readaloud and at 8pm when I help Devin with algebra. Their afternoon reading is usually non-fiction or historical fiction. Dillon and Arianna are reading about mummies, while Caollin is reading a fictional story about a girl in the Jamestown colony. While I read aloud, the kids either play with legos, clay, or do word searches.

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Today after reading time, the kids all do their own thing…look at books, fact cards, or play a solar system game.

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I finally decide to fold laundry that’s been sitting here since yesterday. Then I notice that Summer’s gotten into my makeup…again.

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2:45- I play Yahtzee Jr. with Caollin, London, and Ireland.

3:30- We order dinner from a deli on the corner that is actually open in this weather! Yay for me! Then, it’s chores!

4pm- We eat supper. Delicious, but what a mess!

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4:30- I start cleaning the table but get sidetracked by doing another load of laundry. I put on the anime Ponyo to keep the kids occupied.

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I finish cleaning the table.

5:30- I finally get to my devotions…sort of. Kenzie starts screaming halfway through, so I have to stop.

6pm- The house is quiet, so I check my Twitter and emails.

6:30- Bathtime!! First Kenzie, then London and Ireland, then Caollin and Summer, finally Bailey and Luke.

6:45- Chore time. I know you’re probably wondering how bathtime went so fast…it’s actually still going on. That’s why I put an older kid in with a younger kid…they’re self-sufficient. Okay, except Bailey and Luke. They’re only a year apart and, apparently, aren’t ready for unsupervised bathing because they dumped an entire bottle of shampoo out today. Arianna and Dillon do their math while the house is semi-quiet.

7pm- Ireland and Summer play with clay and legos, while Caollin is fascinated with the Egyptian kit I got yesterday. She even makes a paper mummy to put in the sarcophagus.

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Kenzie’s nice and clean and ready for her devotions!

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I came down the steps and saw Arianna playing with the kids.

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Caollin’s paper doll mummy

Eventually, everyone wanted to be the pharaoh.

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Even pharaohs do math!

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7:15- Caollin moves on to Mind Bender puzzles and then her math. Several of the other kids are in my room on their electronics.

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7:45- Bedtime story…the Family Bible is MIA, so we’ll have to hunt for that tomorrow.

8pm- Bailey, Luke, Ireland, and Summer go to bed. Caollin and London paint Chinese lanterns. Then, Dillon, Arianna, Caollin, and London do more silent reading- this time anything they choose.

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I do algebra with Devin (I love the FOIL method!)

9:15- Caollin and London go up to bed, and I start writing this post.

10:53- That’s right now. I’m finishing this up, and hopefully going to bed.

Are you as tired as I am?

What’s your day like??

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Capturing the Journey- Life with Ten Kids- Week 2

#family

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Since it’s only been four days since my last post like this, the pictures are sparse, but here you go!

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Have a great week!!

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When God Answers…Make Sure You’re Listening

#discerningGod’swill

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     Last month I wrote a post called ”When God Answers.” It was, in essence, about a question I had posed to God and how he answered it…or I thought he answered it. I was having second thoughts over a birth control implant, called Implanon, that I had gotten. After having a DVT in my tenth pregnancy and being on blood thinning injections throughout my entire eleventh pregnancy, my doctors sufficiently scared me into it.
     I prayed that God would give me a clear answer regarding whether I should have it removed. A week later, I went to the ER with pain in my right calf. There was no DVT there, just some superficial clots, but they did find a newly formed DVT behind my right knee…a place where I never experienced any pain.
     I took this as God’s answer to my prayers- I still do- but I know now that I was completely wrong in my interpretation of it. You see, I so wanted, out of fear, for His answer to be, ”Yes, Shelly, you did the right thing,” that I believe I took His response and conformed it to mean what I wanted it to. Here is what I assumed: God had led me to the hospital as soon as this clot had formed to save my life and to warn me that this is what would happen in any future pregnancies. I truly did believe that, so I was at peace with my decision.
     Until someone pointed out that one of the effects of Implanon is that it prevents implantation. I don’t know about you, but, to me, that’s abortion. I denied it at first. I told myself that the woman who told me this was misled, but I decided to research it anyway.
     Not only was she right, but a rare side effect of Implanon is blood clots! I got another DVT two months after I had it implanted! I told myself that this was God’s way of telling me that I did the right thing, but I now know that this blood clot was probably caused by the Implanon! That was my answer, and I got it completely wrong!
     To make matters worse, the reason I agreed to get this implant was because a. The doctor told me this would not increase my risk of blood clots and b. I had told my doctor that I didn’t want an IUD because they prevent implantation, and I’m pro-life (obviously, I have 11 kids), but she conveniently omitted the fact that Implanon does, too!
     I’m furious that my doctor lied to me and put something in my body that goes against everything I believe in, and I’m furious with myself for not seeing this situation clearly from the beginning. I guess discernment is something I still need to pray about.
     Next week, I have an appointment to have this thing removed. I was literally sick to my stomach when I found all this out and waiting this long makes it even worse. I’m not looking forward to going there because I know that my doctor is going to give me a hard time, and she will badger me about alternative methods. Suffice it to say, this will be my last appointment there.
     The point of this post is to plead with you to listen objectively and wholeheartedly when you’re waiting for an answer from God, and never, ever, assume your doctor will voluntarily give you information you haven’t specifically asked for. Unfortunately, we can’t even trust them anymore.
     On a final note, if you’ve decided to peruse my archives to read the original post, I’ve deleted it. I don’t want to mislead anyone else into thinking that this was God’s will for me. It was mine.

Have you ever misinterpreted God’s will, only to discover it later in a big way?

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