Stepdad's Thoughts

My thought and feelings.

Tae Kwon Do as rehabilitation

I’m not one that likes to see re-posts but I found this very inspiring;

I received an email from ‘Everyday Health’ about how Tae Kwon Do helped to save a young teen. Below is the beginning of the article and the link to the entire story;

Breaking Through: How Tae Kwon Do Saved One Teen’s Brain

It was an otherwise normal day when 13-year-old Kassidy Brewer experienced a ruptured brain aneurysm that nearly killed her. This is the story of how her passion for martial arts — and an unrelenting family support system — brought her back to life.

By Sharon Tanenbaum

Click here for the full story;
Watch the videos associated with the story also. This is a very inspiring young lady.
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September 15, 2011 Posted by | Concerns, General, Kids, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Widow Jensen- A Christmas Story . . .

This was sent to me via email; the author of the story is unknown but I felt it was something that needed saved and shared. This really does sum up what Christmas should be like instead of all the ruckas  we all go through.

A Christmas Story

This is what Christmas is all about…

Better bundle up – the goose bumps will freeze you!!  I think I need to read this every year at Christmas.

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities.  But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors.   It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881.  I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas.  We did the chores early that night for some reason.  I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible.  I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside.  I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores.  I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.  Soon Pa came back in.  It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then.  Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see.  We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.  But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens.  Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house.  Something was up, but I didn’t know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed.  There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled.  Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job.  I could tell.  We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.  Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand.  I reluctantly climbed up beside him.  The cold was already biting at me.  I wasn’t happy.  When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed.

He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said.  “Here, help me.”  The high sideboards!  It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood – the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting.

What was he doing?  Finally I said something.  “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?”  “You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?” he asked.  The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road.  Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight.  Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

Yeah,” I said, “Why?”

“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.”  That was all he said and then he turned and went back into  the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him.  We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.  Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon.  He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.  When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

“What’s in the little sack?” I asked.  Shoes, they’re out of shoes.  Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning.  I got the children a little candy too.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a  little candy.”

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence.  I tried to think through what Pa was doing.  We didn’t have much by worldly standards.

Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it.  We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?  Really,  why was he doing any of this?  Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door.

We knocked.  The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, “Who is it?”

“Lucas Miles, Ma’am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?”

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in.  She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.  The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all.  Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

“We brought you a few things, Ma’am,” Pa said and set down the sack of flour.  I put the meat on the table.  Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.  She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time.  There was a pair for her and one for each of the children – sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last.  I watched her carefully.

She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks.  She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.

“We brought a load of wood too, Ma’am,” Pa said.  He turned to me and said, “Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile.  Let’s get that fire up to size and heat this place up.”  I wasn’t the same person when  I went back out to bring in the wood.  I had a big lump in my throat and as mu ch as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.  In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn’t speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I’d never known before, filled my soul.  I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference.  I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone’s spirits soared.  The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn’t crossed her face for a long time.  She finally turned to us. “God bless you,” she said. “I know the Lord has sent you.  The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us.”

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again.  I’d never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true.  I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth.  I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others.  The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left.  I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get.  Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen’s face again when we stood up to leave.  Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug.  They clung to him and didn’t want us to go.  I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, “The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow.  The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals.  We’ll be by to get you about eleven.  It’ll be nice to have some little ones around again.  Matt, here, hasn’t been little for quite a spell.”  I was the youngest.  My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, “Thank you, Brother Miles.  I don’t have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will.”

 

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn’t even notice the cold.  When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, “Matt, I want you to know something.  Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn’t have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square.  Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do.  Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand.”

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again.  I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it.  Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities.  Pa had given me a lot more.  He had given me the look on Widow Jensen’s face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night.  Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

 

December 6, 2010 Posted by | Concerns, Kids, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Deer

On Friday 26-Nov-2010 my stepson got his first deer. We had Thanksgiving lunch with my parents then headed to the family deer lease. We arrived right at dark and my cousin was there waiting for us. Friday morning we got up and headed to a stand near our east line. We first sat in a ladder stand and saw a bunch of nothing. At 930 we moved to a box stand right on the east line; we sat there for about an hour and saw nothing. By 1030 we were back in camp where I fixed us breakfast… My cousin was not there because he had to work a half day; fortunately he works about 45 minutes away from our property. After eating and my stepson taking a short nap… I had gone into another stand for a short time… we headed back to the stands. We chose a stand on what we call our small high line, it is a clear area that has three strands of power lines running through our property.

We arrived in the stand by 2pm and started the hunting/watching for movement. He was getting fidgety and talkative… I tried to keep him focused but also indulged him in his converation, trying to make it fun. At 4pm he asked if I was ready to go back to camp; I told him we needed to stay a little longer… it was tough because we were not seeing anything. Then at 415pm we saw a small doe coming out of the creek into the highline for a snack. He was up and ready to shoot… I told him that was a SMALL deer and that it would be a good idea to wait but that he was the shooter and it was his choice. He decided to hold off and wait for something bigger, a buck.

At 515p he got his wish. A nice 8 point, nice for a first deer, came out of the tree line. We both got hyped up… him getting his gun redirected and me trying make sure it met the 13″ spread requirement by state law. It was a good one so I told him to shoot twice before he finally did… he was VERY slow about his actions, not overly nervous as some get. He lined up the gun and made a clean shot.

We got out of the stand and began to search for the deer. We had some trouble since there was limited sign… it took about 20 minutes to find it, not a real problem since it ran down an old tram road.

My cousins showed up and we all celebrated. I’m not sure who was more proud my stepson or me. I think it’s me.

He was about useless the rest of the weekend… he told me one deer per weekend thus he did not do much hunting on Saturday or Sunday while I did. Fortunately my cousin already had his two deer so they spent time together while I hunted. NO I didn’t get anything but like I said my stepson did and that was the important part for me.

Sunday we spent 6 hours in the truck going home and dropping of the deer for processing and taking the antlers to a taxidermist to have a European mount made. I look forward to our next hunt, maybe he can get a spike and I can get a nice buck.

November 30, 2010 Posted by | General, Kids | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deer Season 2010 – The Family Lease

I’m back on the family deer lease this year and plan on staying there. I left the lease nearly 10 years ago when my grandfather stopped hunting then when he died I could not see myself ever going back. This year my uncle died and my thoughts changed. I missed my family, my hunting family – the male members I spent so much time with. Mostly my cousin, there are several but one in particular, Kenny, made the biggest impact on me. At his dad’s memorial he told me I needed to come back. We hugged and shared some tears. I later found out my mother was watching and she was crying also.  Any way I’m back!

Opening weekend was a lot of fun. We all shared laughs and even a tear or two. I was able to talk with my uncle, my grandfather’s last sibling, and Kenny. I explained why I had left and what brought me back; I think it made since to them.

Only 4 deer were killed on opening weekend but much fun was had. We ate great, laughed too much, spent a lot of time in the woods. I saw almost 30 deer in 4 days of hunting; I chose not to shoot a doe and the smaller deer I saw.

We all left for home and other places on Tuesday… I got home on Wednesday and began to prepare to take my stepson hunting when he got out of school on Friday.

My stepson was able to see 9 deer in the two days he hunted; even got a shot of at one but missed.  He was able to spend time with my uncle and cousin, seeing them at a time other than a funeral helped him to know them better. Unfortunately he did not grow up as I did with the opportunity to shoot guns much which makes me think he does not fully understand the process of lining up the sights, etc… I am taking him to the gun range this weekend to work on his shooting. He did have fun; he told me so without me asking.

He is now the designated shooter until he is able to get his first deer. He’s 13 and has not hunted much therefore we still sit in the stand together. I want to get him in the Hunter Safety course which he must have before he is able to legally hunt alone. He still hunts with me until I see he truly knows how to be safe with a gun and understands how to determine the right deer to shoot. I can hear the things my grandfather told me many years ago coming out of my mouth.

Of the time I have taken my stepson hunting this past weekend is the absolute best ever. I realized I need to have fun with him; it will make life better at the house. It will bring us closer together.  He’s asked to have his first deer mounted in a shoulder mount, I have agreed if; it’s a nice buck and I have the money to do it.

I am looking forward to more time in the woods, sharing our family traditions, talking of old times and making new memories.

November 17, 2010 Posted by | General, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Lost

My Uncle ET died on July 16, 2010. Services were on Wednesday July 21. All the family was there, some were crying others laughing and some were doing both. As for many families it was a sad reunion since we never seem to see each other under good times. One thing I found, I really already new it, is my cousins and I are real tight. Yes we don’t see each other as much as we should and with me not hunting on the family deer lease for a number of years hasn’t helped. One cousin, you could say my best cousin, and I saw each other and shared a BIG bear hug and we both started to tear up… both of us sharing how much we missed each other and vowing to see each other more and to hunt together as much as we can. It was odd to feel a void being filled that I didn’t know was empty until I saw everyone. There was the loss feeling of missing my Uncle but there was a feeling of being filled when seeing my cousins and other aunts and uncle. My uncle is the last of the generation, he has seen all his brothers and sisters die. I can’t imagine how that must fill, we all made sure to tell him we love him.

As one of my cousins said during the memorial service, my uncle ET cared much about family, never once did not ask about others. It was automatic when you saw him and said hello he was going to ask how you have been and your family. It was not just a greeting he truly meant it, at times he would question you more if felt there was more to be said. He was always able to find the truth and shared in your hurt and joy.

This has made me see that I am who I am because of my family. My parents, grandparent, aunts, uncles and cousins have all had a hand in shaping me and teaching me. I hope I am able to return the favor to them. I hope we will start the family visits/reunions again.

July 23, 2010 Posted by | General | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Generation Lost

I found out last night that my Uncle is dying. He has been sick for a while but he has now become unresponsive to voice and touch. He has been given a few days then we will be without him. I have decided not to see him as he is now, instead I want to keep the memories I have of him being active. Some may not agree with my choice but it’s mine not theirs. I have two uncles left, my Grandfather’s brothers, and soon to be one. I feel as if I am loosing another part of my Grandfather, this is bring up memories of when my Grandfather was dying. I am running the whole thing through my head again and it hurts.

We always deer hunted together. Since 1977 we have had the same deer lease. In the late 90’s I backed out of the lease, my Grandfather stopped hunting and it just wasn’t the same for me. Lately I have returned to the lease, I want to keep the memories strong of all the fun we had. My cousins and I will soon be the ones to handle all the business of the lease. My uncles have always done that and we have always done as they said. At times we didn’t always like the choices they made but the lease was theirs to do as they saw fit. Maybe it we are strange but we always let our elders make the decisions; I guess it’s a Southern or generation thing.

I’m going to miss ET, my Uncle. As my Grandfather used to say, “he would worry the deer to death”; this meaning he would go on and on and on over what stand we should sit in and what direction the deer would come from, etc… One time he was going on about where and what we needed to do that he got almost all the way to his deer stand without his rifle. That is one story he has never been able to forget because we won’t let him. There are many other good times to remember and more good time to be made with my cousins.

I love you Unc’

July 13, 2010 Posted by | General | , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorial Day

There is nothing more to say.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Concerns, General | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why?

On May 1 my wife and I bought a pool table and foosball table for our game room, they were delivered on Saturday May 8. We thought it would be something the kids would be able to enjoy with us and their friends. The kids were at their Dad’s house Friday and Saturday and came home on Sunday morning for Mother’s Day. Talk about under excited!!! I figured they would be quite excited to see the tables and want to play right away, instead it was more like Mom and stepdad bought a new dust mop for the house.

After the Mother’s Day dinner and family had gone home and my stepdaughter went to work my stepson and I played pool. After the first game we got my wife in to it also and the three of us played pool. We then played foosball, them against me. We had a good time with verbal jabs and laughter; I won. I want to teach my stepson the proper way to play foosball so he can be the winner against his friends.

It’s hurtful how the kids react to the things their mother does for them. She loves her kids dearly but seems to get knocked down and ignored more than anything. Especially by her daughter(SD) who seems to have become one of the most selfish, self centered, disrespectful people I know. All she sees and thinks about is herself and what she wants regardless of what her mother may want to do for her, need her to do, etc… Hell they can’t even have a civil conversation with out SD getting an attitude as if she is being interrogated.

My wife’s mother came to stay with us over the weekend, she arrived Friday afternoon before 3pm. My stepdaughter decided it was more important to go swimming with friends instead of taking a few minutes to see her Grandmother and Grandfather that she hadn’t seen in 6 months, I believe. It’s little things like this that really make me wonder why I should bother to do anything for her. Her birthday is this week and we have graciously been allowed to take her to dinner tonight, we found out this morning.

At least her son is more caring, he seems to really enjoy being around family and us. Yes he can get into the mode where he is an absolute pain and create problems and be disrespectful, etc… but in the grand scheme of things he enjoys being around family.

It’s so damn frustrating. I just don’t understand it.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Concerns, General, Kids, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day

What are your plans?

We (I) will be cooking dinner for my wife, mother and mother-in-law. I hope the kids will come home to be with their mother on her day. I will be cooking hamburgers and french fries (with corn meal), not sure about desert right now but I am sure something will turn up.

This is one of two days I feel you should show and tell your mother that you love her and appreciate her. (You should this all the time but Mother’s Day and Birthday are the most special to me.) After all she has been a LARGE part of my life. Who else would put up with all the crap and still love you?

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Concerns, General, Kids, Parenting | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Misconceptions of being a step-parent

Many of us, at least me, think that when we find the right person to fall in love with we have it made. If that person has children, either living with them or only part time, we think we have an instant family. For me that was not true.

At first it seemed that it might be true but as time has passed I have found that I am really the outsider. I have the responsibility to provide for my step-children in all ways but it ends there. I don’t have the bond that a parent would have. I tend to think respect toward the parent is priority but if that is not the way the kids were originally raised I can’t change that.

I thought that we would do things together, vacation, picnics, movie night, etc… Yes we have done some of these things but the joy I thought would be there is missing. I am sure some of the problem is mine; I have issue with kids not doing what they are told to do. I know they will forget at times, I know they will fight some things, but when that becomes the norm not the exception I begin to have issue with it. I draw the proverbial line in the sand and begin to put a stop to the norm.

But, as time progresses I have come to realize this thought of responsibility is wrong. Yes I will care for the needs of my step-kids; no one goes hungry or is in need of clothing, etc… but don’t expect me help in other ways. Yes, I have conditions that must be met if you want something from me and silly me has the audacity to think they are simple and easy;

  • Respect your parents (Mother and Father) and show it.
  • Follow the rules of the house
  • Do the chores your mother has given you.
  • Do them when she says.
  • Do what you mother tells you, no arguments.

I once thought that the kids would at least provide respect to me because I was the other adult in the house, their Mom’s husband, etc… Boy was I wrong. I have finally stopped pushing for any kind of respect from the kids toward me and have told them that. I also told them that they should respect their mother and father and that I would do everything I had to too make sure they at least showed respect toward them. If that means being the EVIL step-dad then so be it.

I will do what my wife asks of me to help her and to try to make her happy. Unfortunately the story book family dream I had does not exist and never will.

April 27, 2010 Posted by | Concerns, Kids, Parenting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment