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A Life Well Lived

Last week my grandfather passed away, he was 96. It’s taken me this long just to figure out what could be said. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live that long…to have lived almost another lifetime more than others. He was the oldest of my grandparents and yet, he outlived them all by at least 16 years. He lived an incredible story.

I had the honor of writing his obituary, or rather taking what he’d already written and amending it.

PoppyWilliam F. Beckmann, 96, passed away Friday, April 8, 2016, at the Veterans’ Home in Oxford, NY. William was born in Brooklyn, NY, December 6, 1919; only child of Frederick and Pauline (Hoegler) Beckmann. He married Mildred McCardell in November 1945, following his service in the Army during WWII. Mildred predeceased William on March 7, 1997.

William served from 1940 to 1946 in both the Pacific and European theaters, where he rose from private to company commander as a first lieutenant after attending Officer Candidate School. He received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and a Presidential Citation. He was a life member of the Veterans Of Foreign Wars, Post 270, Walton, NY, where he served as commander for 9 years. He was also a past member of the American Legion.

William resided most of his life in Ridgewood, Queens, NY, where he worked in the wholesale meat industry (George Korns and Sons) as a meat cutter for 40 years, before retiring with his wife to upstate NY in 1987. Endowed with a keen mind, he was known and respected for his broad topical knowledge, inquisitive nature, and love of puzzles, in particular, difficult crossword puzzles. He was an avid golfer, who shot his age many times. William loved animals, particularly dogs, and always had a pocketful of dog treats for his four-legged friends.

William is survived by his three sons and their families.


Peter’s Birth Story

My greatest piece of advice to anyone awaiting a baby’s birth is now: Don’t have ANY expectations. I’ve learned at least that over the course of 3 births.

Peter’s birth was about what I expected, and yet completely different from what I had envisioned. How often I’d troll through pinterest, checking out all of the homebirth and water birth photography, with beautiful glowing mothers welcoming their little ones into the world, supported by those they loved, and photographed beautifully through the course of labor.

None of those photographs happened for me, and yes, a part of me is a bit sad that I will never have those pictures of laboring and our little ones being born. I had mentioned how much I had wanted to just experience and enjoy this laboring and delivery, and I did, but it was all too short {I know, I’m weird to complain about that}.

The weekend I was 40 weeks {June 13th} we stayed home with the kids and did some belly finger painting. By Sunday night we figured we’d probably have another week of no baby and soldiered into the week. I wasn’t having any contractions or anything else that was hinting at labor.

Monday. Nothing.

Monday night I slept kind of crappy. I kept waking up every few hours and having to go pee, a bit of contractions when I was awake, but nothing to even mention.

Tuesday dawned per usual. I made the kids breakfast, we picked up a bit, and played outside. At that point my back was starting to hurt every so often, but again, nothing regular, nothing like contractions.

I posted this picture of Avelyn playing “mommy” around 9:15 on Instagram….


And Ellie took this picture of me at 10:00, the last of me pregnant….


My sister was planning on coming down in the afternoon, around 3:30, so that I could go and sign the kids up for swimming lessons at 5pm. My mom was on the route with my dad {doing what I used to do}, Matt was at my parents’ house receiving deliveries, and I was just continuing on.

By noon I called my midwife to tell her that I was having contractions, but nothing regular, nothing increasing, nothing intense. I was texting back and forth with my mom and Matt. By 2pm I had called my midwife and told her it was contractions, she cleared her calendar for the afternoon and got ready to come over and I told Matt to have his mom come down because the kids were driving me batty during contractions.

My mother in law was here around 2:30pm and we were working on filling the birth pool when Matthew showed up at 3pm. Oh boy! Was I glad to see him! My sister arrived around 3:15…we chit-chatted between contractions for a bit, but then I had to focus too much. It was all in my back and they came hard, fast, and boy did they hurt!


I’ve never had back labor before, but it was something I was kind of expecting given the anterior placenta. Let me just say, it wasn’t fun and nothing could’ve prepared me for it. My mom arrived just before 4pm, straight from the route, donned my pajama bottoms and Matt’s shirt and got to work.

As my contractions grew stronger and closer my mom and Matt had to push on my back and hips as hard as possible…it was the only way I could handle them. I had tried kneeling the way I had with Avie, leaning on my yoga ball, and standing…none of those positions were helping. The best I could do was lie in bed during the contractions and focus on them, rather than just being uncomfortable.

At 4:05pm I had another strong contraction and felt my water break {kept waiting all day for that to happen, to confirm I was in labor and tell people to come}. I got up to go to the bathroom, leaking, and by the time I was walking back out of the bathroom I felt like I needed to push. The midwife wasn’t here yet.

For the next 20 minutes I literally had my legs crossed, lifting my belly, trying to keep this little one from being born. The midwife raced up the stairs just before 4:30 and I got in position to push. A couple of pushes and we had a head, shoulders. The baby just kind of chilled and the next contraction our little boy was born at 4:35 pm!

It was intense! After he was born I felt like my legs were jelly and my back was finished. I was winded after all of that and felt like I had just run flat out for my life. He was born an hour after I started to have regular and intense contractions, 30 minutes after my water broke, and I think he would’ve been born earlier if I had let him.

Then I realized I never even had a chance to get in the pool!

For the first hour he lay on my chest and nursed a bit and we all kind of sat there in awe. In awe of him, in awe of how fast everything was, in awe of the fact that we did it! We had our baby at home! {and almost without a midwife…I was to the point that I couldn’t hold off anymore when she walked in the door. I was literally praying, Lord, let her get here NOW!}.


We then cut the cord…


got him weighed…IMG_1733

and still didn’t have a name. It was an incredible experience and one I would gladly do again.


Our first family picture. The kids were a bit crazy!


But, at least someone got to enjoy the pool…


The Turn Around (or The Ugliness of Selfishness)

(First off, thank you to all of you for your sweet words of encouragement and prayers yesterday!)

I am pleased to say that yesterday did get better. I’m not pleased to say what it took. Immediately upon fixing my iPad I was in a better mood. Avelyn took a nap, she woke up and all was right in the world. My mother-in-law came down in the afternoon and Avelyn and I were able to be outside, and Matt managed to come home early.

Did you see that? Did you notice that? “MY iPad was working again and I was in a better mood.” Ouch. Yea. The entire morning’s drama was me. The whole problem was I was making everything about ME. My selfishness and fear of my iPad being broken resulted in Avelyn getting yelled at, at her lashing out, at my spewing hot lava everywhere. Tell me that isn’t convicting?!

“But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
Romans 2.8

There was certainly “wrath and anger” in this house, and it was all my own.

Yesterday I very “humbly” commented on a blog, the writer had lost something, and in the losing was thinking of all the other things she had been putting a side to work on what had been lost. I commented, saying:

“perhaps the losing is so you can realize that the truly important things have been neglected, that God is sending a message and you’ll find it again”.

I give fantastic advice! I should really take my own. I think the “breaking” of my iPad was more to point out that I very often let Me-isms dictate how I feel and how I react (not respond) to a situation. That in the ME moments, there is never any of Him, and nothing of any good can come from it.

Last night I read an awesome e-book, Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess. It was a quick, fantastic read, that spoke to me even more about the how and why of yesterday’s crises. Both of these authors were wonderful (Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin)!Candidly they discussed their own parenting struggles and how when they chose to step back and let God do His work, things were as He desires them to be.

Their words brought so much of yesterday’s frustration to my mind; particularly my praying for whatever it was that I was praying for…I don’t even know what it was:

Why do you love me?” he says. “Why are you following me? Is it because of what I can do for you, how I can meet your needs, or provide what you want? Or do you really love me for Who I AM?”

                                                                                         Hope for the Weary Mom, page 267/461.

All that praying I was doing. I was asking God to help ME. My praying was about ME, what HE could DO for ME. It wasn’t about glorifying Him, or exalting Him, or asking Him to work in my heart. I was asking Him to make everything hunky-dory again, because I was totally screwing it up. *yea, ouch, again* What I needed was a “heart adjustment” as a friend called it.

My heart was filled with selfish. Nasty, vile selfish. Even my prayers were selfish.

Today has gone a thousand times better. I made sure to take the 2 minutes that were needed to get in His word, following the suggestion in Hope for the Weary Mom by reading the first chapter of Psalms and Proverbs.

And just to show how God was already taking care of the situation, my mother in law bought a zip-lock type bag specifically meant for iPads at the dollar store yesterday, she didn’t know anything about the avocado/headphone thing.

Do you find that the moments in which you struggle the most are the ones in which you’re serving yourself?

One of those days….

Today….is one of those days, but it really began last night.

For whatever reason a 2 year old may have, Ave decided to pick up my iPad from the kitchen counter and unceremoniously deposit it in my lap….where my dinner was. Yea.

Avocado smushed into the headphone jack. I gently cleaned it out with a paper clip, then a q-tip to get what was left. All was good. Life continued on.

This morning Ave put a show on, but there was no sound. I figured she accidentally muted it. Nope, it says the “headphone” is in….no, no it’s not.

Babies starting screaming for breakfast, 2 year old is demanding attention, and I’m in the middle of my own crisis.

Babies get fed, 2 year old is still making demands, the iPad is still not working, and I feel it bubbling up, scalding hot, ready to erupt. It does, spewing fire and destruction EVERY WHERE.

It’s one of those days.

I try to rein in the flow. I only succeed at minimizing it. Still it comes, seething forward.

It’s not even 10 am and I’ve had it. I’ve yelled at Ave repeatedly, she lashes out by behaving even worse.

I think to myself: I really, REALLY need one of those selfish days. Children do exactly as they should, I’m a perfect mom, the house is immaculate and I manage to spend the entire day doing what I want. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

It’s the kind of day when no matter how I pray it doesn’t. get. better. I pray again, changing the words, nothing. Everything conspires against me: Ave, the iPad (which I really hope I can fix), bills, laundry, dishes…all of it dragging me into the pit of my own, and every one else’s, destruction.

Quilts of Valor

Last week, when I visited the quilt shop down the street, I was asked if I could manage to get my grandfather into the store this Saturday (10/22); as they wanted to honor him with a Quilt of Valor for his service during WW2 and since.

Quilts of Valor is a national organization that makes quilts for soldiers abroad and at home, soldiers in hospitals, and those who have served in past years. To date they’ve given over 57,000 quilts. Many quilt guilds and individual quilters throughout the country work on these quilts and then donate them to Quilts of Valor to distribute.

Needless to say, my grandfather was very touched that he had been chosen to receive such a quilt.

Just for the record, he’ll be 92 in December: He signed up to fight 1 year, and ended up serving for 5. He fought throughout the Pacific and Europe and Northern Africa: He was buried alive at Anzio and had friends die in his arms, he was among the first troops sent to Pearl Harbor after the attack.

His fighting in World War II is one of the things I am most proud of him for. As I said to him, “It’s because of you that my quilt patterns are in English and inches, not German and metric”.