Saturday, August 4, 2012

Things that I really enjoy

1.  Hearing the first cry of our new born baby. 
2.  Taking a picture that when as you hit the shutter, you already know it looks so good. 
3.  Understanding to your core the proof of a mathematical theorem.
4.  Slightly more invigorating is actually writing the theorem. 
5.  Sitting with a buddy, playing any cooperative video game. 
6.  Getting a smile from Ephraim. 
7.  Trying my hardest and succeeding. 
8.  Finishing a run. 
9.  Cuddling with Stepheni. 
10.  Ephraim falling asleep in my arms. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Family History today

I started by purchasing Family Tree Maker 2 for my mac from, I liked the features and the ability to sync up with  I spent some time importing the work I had already done, and then cleaned it up a bit.  I started going through the first few layers in my tree and realized that while my grandpa only had two children, my dad (Donald Bruce) and my uncle (John), his father had plenty of kids, who may still be in Loretto, TN.  Lo and behold, by the power of Facebook, I may have found some!  Updates tomorrow!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Our Last Day at the Hospital

Well, all is well with Stepheni and the baby and we went home.  There was a beautiful north window in our room that was letting in some amazing light, so I decided to take advantage of it all =)  For your viewing pleasure.

Monday, July 2, 2012

An update on their health

Hey everyone, thanks for having an interest in our family and our well-being.  Stepheni is up and feeding Ephraim right now, and I am torturing him with a baby wipe to keep him conscious and feeding.  Little stinker goes right to sleep when Stepheni is trying nurse him.

Dr. Haun came in this morning and gave us the skinny on Stepheni and Ephraim's conditions.  Ephraim is officially cleared to go home, he has been dirtying enough diapers to show that he is healthy and metabolizing the food.  As for Stepheni they are taking her off the antibiotics today to see how she does.  Last night she had a fever, from how long her water had been broken when she was delivered is what Dr. Haun said.  So, if all goes well today then we will be going home tomorrow morning!

Last night was my first encounter with a screaming, inconsolable baby and Stepheni was fantastically patient the whole time.  I on the other hand was still dealing with the same headache that I had been enjoying for the last day, and was not nearly as patient.  Something about a screaming child in your arms with whom you have no ability to reason with that makes me all grumpy.  Stepheni calmed him down by nursing him, but it took some time.

First night of many, right?  Whee!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ephraim Alexander Beckman

Yeah, he's pretty cute.

So there are plenty of questions about the name change and our reasons, so I thought I'd clear that up.

Etienne was our choice for quite awhile for his first name, it is the French variation on Stephen.  We decided on that for awhile, because I thought it would be cool to have another Stephen in the family -Stephen, Stepheni, and Etienne- and Stepheni liked it because it was a family name.  We still like the name, but when it came time to put it down on paperwork and even before then we had second thoughts.  Every time Stepheni would tell someone what his name was going to be, we always had to repeat herself, sometimes several times, and it would always get weird looks.  We didn't want him to go through that his whole life, yeah he could have gone by Alex or Alexander from his middle name, but then why name him Etienne in the first place?

Second off, there was no real motivation to name him that beyond being a unique name.

So, we began looking back at our list and started over by looking at all the names we did like.  Yesterday, when the missionaries came to accompany me in giving Stepheni a blessing, it meant so much to me that they were worthy, willing, and excited to help us.  I want to teach Ephraim that story as he grows up and tie that in with his name just like Helaman did with his sons Nephi and Lehi (Helaman 5:6-7) in the Book of Mormon.

"Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.  Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them."

So, we considered the Elder's names, which didn't ring right, and several others, and finally settled on Ephraim, the "missionary" tribe.  It will be a good point of teaching, a great example, and a good reminder of righteousness and responsibility.  We prayed about it finally and felt good about our decision.  

Alexander ties in well with it as well, he being Stepheni's great-grandfather and one of the first members to join the Church in Norway, even when it was still illegal to do so.  Stepheni will talk more on that in her own blog.  

Hope this clears it up!

The best and the worst three days of my life

Once upon a time, I was a wee little boy scout, determined to make it with the big guys.  Thus determined I set off with them on the high-adventure group in North Carolina, a grueling 5-day backpacking adventure in the Appalachian mountains, surrounded by beautiful forests and strapped to 30 pounds of gear.  I got done, and swore off such activities, branding it publicly and in Sacrament meeting as "the worst experience of my life, putting it positively."

Wow, I was wrong.

I'll tack that one up to naivety and inexperience, because I don't have the words to describe the anguish that I felt watching Stepheni labor for that long and they don't compare.

If you read the last blog, you know how it all started with her water breaking (more on that later).  Friday night at about 9pm we got to the hospital and got to checking in and just getting into the groove of things.

At first we still tried to continue breast pumping to stimulate oxytocin to flow, and it did give her some contractions for quite a while, but they were not strong enough or consistent enough to be considered active labor.  So at 3 Saturday morning our midwife came in and talked to us about starting up some pitocin, and did so at a very low dose so that Stepheni could get some sleep.  We got a few hours and then they started upping the dosage around 7am, and continued to increase the dosage about every hour.  9 am they came and did the first check to see how dilated she was and she was at 5cm, we weren't sure how long she had been 5cm dilated since they hadn't checked previous to that as a matter of caution since her water had ruptured prematurely.  She was still in a ton of pain throughout, but she was intent on trying it without an epidural and so she endured like a champ.  During this time the greatest source of anxiety was not knowing how long this would go on.  They were coming back at noon to check her again and see if she was further dilated, but as of then there was no estimation to the time left.  It felt best for Stepheni to be on her feet during this time, being confined to the bed was awful since she couldn't move around at all, and all she could do was squirm around and try to breathe into the contractions.

Noon came, and the news was disheartening as she hadn't progressed at all.  Soon thereafter the OB/GYN came and told us that since she had been dilated to 5cm so long, it was referred to as an arrested labor, meaning nothing had happened for about 4 hours.  She gave us a window of another 2, at which point we would be beyond good practice and it was anybody's guess as to the birth defects that could occur.  She assured us that she respected our wishes, but that she had to cover herself and her practice by telling us that she would be officially noting that she had warned us and that the responsibility was in our hands to make an informed decision with the life of our baby.  No pressure.  The midwife talked with us and we decided to up the dosage again and see if anything had happened by about 2:30, at which time we would decide what we would do.  Throughout it, I was calling people and letting them know what was going on, and now it was with some fairly bad news.  Everyone was praying for us throughout and especially now.  My step-mom, Vicki spent some time on the phone and cried with me for awhile.  At times like this, I understand a bit better what it means to comfort those who stand in need of comfort, and mourn with those that mourn.  But my mom, grandpa, in-laws and everyone I talked with were praying for us and doing as much as they could from such a distance.

During this whole time the contractions were getting more painful and still weren't rhythmic at all, sporadic and in clusters at best.  So we decided to get some drugs into her to take the edge off.  Those totally knocked her out, the baby was asleep and she was conscious but only barely.  They did help her to relax and the contractions weren't nearly as painful anymore.  At this point, a C-Section was becoming a very real possibility and we knew it.  I started to make a few calls to see if any other priesthood holders from the ward would be able to come.  I had given Stepheni several blessings throughout but I needed the faith that only the companionship of several righteous priesthood holders can afford.  I got ahold of the 2nd Counselor and the Bishop, and we got ahold of the missionaries and they came right away.  It's difficult to describe the relief that I felt when they got there and were genuinely concerned about our well-being.   They gave me the first hug I had received in quite awhile and it was much needed; Stepheni and I were hugging and supporting each other throughout, but it was different when more support from outside your family crisis comes to the rescue.

I wished so badly that things had gone differently, and I was so scared of all the terrible possibilities that lay before us if she didn't progress any further, or if our baby went into distress with the increasingly intense contractions.  Throughout the whole process we had felt terribly alone, with the nurses only coming in and out to increase the dosage of that terrible drug causing Stepheni so much pain, and really no other present and outside support, it was awful.  Up to this point I had been as reassuring to everyone involved and especially Stepheni that it would all work out and everything was just as it should be, but it was looking less hopeful and we could only hope that she had progressed by the time Pam came back in.

At this point the midwife, Pam, came back and declared her as still arrested, at which point we decided to go ahead with the C-section.  This was something of a relief, knowing that either way this would all come to an end.  They scheduled the epidural and they took her off the pitocin, thankfully.  She told us that this had become something of a perfect storm:  the baby was asymmetric (I think that's the word, but it means his head was not going straight down the birth canal, kind of tilted), her water had ruptured before she had been in labor, he was posterior, and he was fairly big.  None of these things, by themselves are a game-breaker, but together they made delivery nigh impossible through the birth canal.

The missionaries stepped back in and we spent a few more minutes visiting and then we anointed and gave Stepheni a priesthood blessing.  The missionaries offered food and help of any sort that they could, which I turned down, my mind was on other things, frankly.  They left, but a spirit of reassurance and comfort remained and I spent the next hour calling people to let them know what was happening and sitting with Stepheni.  This was about hour 36 since her water had broken.

Stepheni was relaxed and dozing in and out when the anasthesiologst came in to administer the epidural which turned out to be another IV near her spine.  She was still pretty doped up on all the drugs and painkillers now, so she was gratefully asleep through most of this.  They then moved her out and down the hall to the operating room for C-sections and left me to get dressed in a sterile outfit.  When I arrived she was all prepped for surgery and I was able to sit by her head, camera in hand, for the big procedure.  It was a nervous few minutes but all of a sudden we heard the cry of our brand new baby boy!  "You can look now!"

I got up and saw our beautiful and very grumpy baby, fresh out of mom.  For those who have had this precious opportunity, you know what it is like, and for those that haven't then you will just have to wait, but it is totally worth the wait to do it in the right way and the right time.

They got him cleaned up and under the baby heater, where he got calmed down pretty quick, despite the huge shot they gave him for Hepatitis of some kind immediately.  He weighed in at 8 lbs 12 ounces and 20 1/2 inches, our little bundle of joy!

They handed them off to me a few seconds later, I was holding our brand new baby!  I showed him to Stepheni as soon as I could, and just held him for a few moments.  We were moved back to recovery where we got Stepheni some water and they began carefully monitoring her.  She was bleeding quite a bit, with a lot of clotting and blood still coming from her uterus.  It was worrisome, but the nurses and midwife were all working quickly and knew what they were doing.  They expected this though since she is redhead, because apparently they bleed more for no known cause.  At this point we made a few calls and got some pictures uploaded and the news was spread abroad.  About two hours after they wheeled her into recovery they rolled us quickly out and we were on our way to the permanent stay room and just relaxing here.

It's Sunday night now, and we have had the first twenty-four hours of time with our baby, Ephraim Alexander Beckman.  Precious, joyful, exhausted time.  Stepheni is so cute with him, and calls him "little dude" as she is feeding and cuddling with him.  I changed my first diaper with some help from Stepheni, which was super gross, but not as stinky as I thought it would be, like the green smoothies people like, only served in a diaper instead of a glass.  Stepheni and Ephraim have been poked and prodded several more times but all is well.  The missionaries came back to give us the sacrament, and they were the first people outside of the hospital to see him.

It has been, without exception, the best and the worst three days of my life.  But I guess that's how it is supposed to be, isn't it?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A moment's respite (i.e. the calm before the storm part 2)

I'm still waiting for screaming at some point, none yet.

We got in to see the midwife this morning at about 10am and spent some time there on this crazy little contraption that measures the baby's heart rate and the contractions.  It was fun to see how the machine worked and try to get baby to move for us.  Speaking of which, we are now trying to finalize the name we are picking for him.  I'm in favor of Ephraim, but we want to wait to see him to decide finally.

We spent today running around and finalizing some stuff, getting a breast pump to use and try to get some oxytocin flowing to get the contractions to work for us before we would have to go to the hospital.  For awhile they were coming on, a little randomly but every few minutes and lasting for at least 45 seconds to a minute.  We took a few careful walks and mostly just tried to keep moving.  The goal is to get some real labor going by 3am (24 hours after her water broke) or they will have to use pitocin, which we are trying to avoid since they make the contractions a bit more painful than they normally would be.

We checked into the hospital at around 9, and they immediately got her into a room.  Her gown is pretty cute, but she wouldn't let me show any of those pictures to the public, alas.  Luckily they have wifi here so I can work on stuff while Stepheni is resting.

Truth be told I would rather be the one in bed with an IV and having contractions, Stepheni takes better care of me than I do of her and I don't like seeing her in pain like this.  I keep a smile on my face and keep positive, for Stepheni and for her mom who has been fretting back in Illinois.

Thanks for all the prayers and the love.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The calm before the storm

It's like, 4:30 in the morning right now.  Sometime around 3 Stepheni woke me up with a grab at my ankle.  She was kind of hunched over-like, "I think my water just broke".  Geez, all these announcements when a guy's trying to get some sleep.

She had in fact sprung a leak, and it just kept on coming.  She kept leaking as we started making some last minute preparations, texting the parents, calling the midwives, packing a few last things, checking Facebook.  You know, the important things.  Stepheni described the amniotic fluid as colorless and odorless, and while I would say so, I would say so mostly. I smelt the towel that she conveniently soaked through, and I got the urge to clean, eat fried foods, and cry all at the same time.  Potent stuff, do not ingest.

The midwife on call instructed us to wait until about 9am when the hospital desk opens and go in there, because as of right now Stepheni isn't having any contractions.  Not the greatest because the contractions are supposed to come first and then the water breaking, because apparently there is a greater risk of infection if the contractions don't follow soon thereafter.  So in a few hours we will go in and they may induce her to help things proceed, simply because of the chance of infection.  Not ideal, but I hear that babies make hash of your plans anyways, so we might as well start here.  I gave Stepheni a blessing and we pray that things continue naturally without the need of drugs or intervention.

So now, I'm chilling here, pretty excited, waiting until all the hoodlums go home so I can go out and put in the carseat and load up the pillows so we can go to the hospital at 9, probably making a stop somewhere they serve unhealthy food before we do, y'know, for Mom.  ;-)

Let it be known, that during all this, Stepheni has been completely rational.  I dunno what they are talking about on TV where the parents are freaking out and going crazy when someone's water breaks. Bah, Hollywood.

Oh yeah, I don't have to go to work today!

Monday, May 21, 2012

With Friends Like These

"I value the friend 
who for me 
finds time on his calendar, 
but I cherish the friend 
who for me 
does not consult his calendar."  
-Robert Brault

Stepheni was in a bind tonight, and I wasn't there:  She had spent a few hours cleaning already and was quickly wearing out.  Turns out that being nearly 8 months pregnant does something to your endurance.  She had sent out an email earlier that week, asking for help, but she hadn't heard from more than one couple who weren't going to be able to make it until later that night and there was more than just an hour's worth of work, even for a few people.  She was upset and stressed out, and I felt helpless to do anything from Texas.  I couldn't think of who to call, having already bothered my friends about it several times previous to this about the same thing.  Try as I might I couldn't think of anyone, so I made a sheepish post on Facebook asking for help, but no one bit.  So I called up Gordon, and quickly he agreed to get Mike and John to go along with him to go and help.  They are there now, and I am so grateful for friends like these that go at a moments notice to help where they can.  Not to speak any less of others that are going over a little bit later, my gratitude goes out to everyone that is helping out my sweetheart right now to leave Rexburg.  So far as any of them know, we won't see each other again, but I think that we are all banking on the hope and trust that we will.

So, thanks guys.  I wanted to buy you something, but it seems to cheapen the gratitude I feel for your service and love.  So all I can say is thank you, and say that I will find something to do for you sooner or later.

So to those that went to help Stepheni at any time since I've been gone, thank you.  We've received so much love and support from so many in the ward and many have gone way beyond any reasonable expectations.  You're our dear friends and I hope that we can be of service at some time, despite the distance between us all.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What makes Everquest so appealing?

So tonight, I broke down and loaded up Everquest on my computer for less than an hour.  Less than an hour because it only took me that long to realize that it would go no where and that my time with my wife, family, job, and life in general are too valuable to me to give up.  It was nostalgic though, having spent over four years playing the stupid thing I still remembered how to get around and all the back alley ways through Cabilis and the book to the Plane of Knowledge in the Field of Bone.  But dining around in Luclin and killing a few things got me to thinking about the sheer amount of time that it requires to get anywhere in the game.  Definitely a turn-off.  I mean besides being appealing to people who somehow think they have nothing better to do than grind out levels until you can raid and then spend a few hours a night on the thing, how do such games keep our attention?

Well, first, redundantly, it's appealing to those that don't want to do anything else.  Great, besides that.

One thing I noticed is the sense of accomplishment there is built in to each little facet of the game.  Lots of inventory items, lots of levels to grind out, lots of sub levels to grind out, lots of monsters to kill, etc.  I think sometimes they built a game how we should be considering our goals in life.  It's hard to have a little bell go off each time you level in real life; sometimes it is hard to track how far you really are getting in life.  But, there is a sense of accomplishment that can be achieved when small simple goals are met, especially in a group setting, which leads me to my next point.

We are social creatures.  I definitely sympathize with those out there that struggle socially.  I was there for a while in my life as well, luckily the mission kind of helped me with that.  Foremost there is something nice about not knowing who the other people are really.  You can be whoever you want to be, be that kind, mean, male, female, outspoken or aloof.  There is a certain amount of power that comes from being able to stop and think about a situation without giving anything away and then act as you can on the internet.  But accomplishing things in social situations and with people to chat with and even help or to help is kind of nice.  It's even better when they are real life acquaintances or friends that you are doing it all with.  I don't have any studies, I am just kind of going off my own feelings and experiences from the past few years.

Thinking of this and other fun aspects of these games, it gets me to thinking about how we should be considering our own lives to make them more interesting; to get us more involved in our own flesh and not in games like EverQuest or Halo, magazines like Us or People, or soap operas or sitcoms.  All these things stem from the same source and rob us of our time.  Rob because in reality they give at best, very little in return, and at worst, nothing.

So let's do things with others.  Be involved in a community of some kind, be that church or a club or some online gathering doing something creative and good that builds you as a person.  Volunteer and give of yourself to others.

Then let's consider the little accomplishments in life, because that is what leads to the big things.  The fact that we are here today and living and reading and loving and breathing and part of something, anything is a miracle of no small merit.  So let's be grateful and take satisfaction in everything good that we do.

That's what I think.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I've discovered it's one of my least favorite things
(Note the dead look in my eyes)

I mean it's great to clean and to see from a general level of chaos
come a certain amount of order.

Maybe it's just the moving all the boxes from Rexburg to San Antonio
and how much it will cost that is such a bother.  The bees are all the contractors
that want to take my hunny, I mean munny.  
Our friends have come to help, Mike and Zak so far.  Thanks again, guys!
But this is all for a good cause, I remind myself.  

And, really, it is all because I got a job down in San Antonio.  
Thank you for all your prayers and support, and thanks to USAA for hiring me!  
Back to packing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Yep, it's true:  I'm all gradumicated, even if auto-correct indicates that is not a word.  I have promptly stifled it's pleas with the "add to dictionary" button, forever and officially adding it to it's repertoire of useful, and more importantly fun, words.

But more important still, I am now a college graduate.

And yet more important than that, I have a job.  Yes, a real 9-5 job down in San Antonio!  Super excited. Because it means food, shelter, and better furniture!

But really, Stepheni and I are so grateful for the opportunity for work, especially in these economic times (cliche but true), and at such a wonderful company as USAA.  We will have the means to invite baby Etienne into our family with food, shelter and insurance!

Graduation was a little late in coming, but I am glad that I took the path that I did.  I managed to get a bunch of other random credits and fill out my education nicely.  Could I go back, I would take more computer science classes and less entry-level science classes.  But, as it is I am rather happy with my degree and the embellishments I accrued along the way.

I encourage everyone to get an education.

The parents and I in the gorgeous BYU-I Center!

There is my little head!


Bumping elbows with the big guy (recent kidney transplant)
and Elder Ballard behind us.

Woot!  Mom in the background!
I put this up because Jolene and Mom were in this one.
And we got Julie out from behind the camera for this one ;-)
Family is awesome!