Tag Archives: Baltimore

The Beckmans

February 2, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sadie Beckman—at 2 years old—likes to pick up pretty rocks and cup them in her tiny hands. Then she clicks them together. These are special rocks that her grandmother, Linda Beckman, brought back from past vacations in Colorado and Washington.

Whether she’s practicing her sensory motor skills by playing with Grandma’s rocks or taking short walks with her grandpa, Dennis Beckman, Sadie’s too little to understand the favor her parents, Jennie and David Beckman, did for her.

By returning back to their hometown of Omaha after stints in Boston and Baltimore, they widened their daughter’s family circle. A supportive circle that cares for her, plays games with her, and feeds her homemade sugar cookies.

Young families are increasingly returning home to Omaha to live closer to grandparents for more quality family bonding. Jennie’s childhood friend Amy Isaacson also recently returned to the Omaha area after working as a researcher at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Isaacson says her family moved due to the rising cost of living in the Silicon Valley area and to reside closer to family. The Isaacsons have a 4-year-old daughter and 9-month-old twin girls.

“This has been absolutely the best decision for so many reasons. We have more space. We have family. People are friendly here. It’s more affordable,” Isaacson says.

Beckman, who graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says they talked about returning to Omaha after they had children. Fortunately, Beckman’s previous job as director of volunteer strategy with the non-profit Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies allowed her to work remotely, so she could take her job with her to Nebraska. She is now the director of community engagement and education for the Jewish Federation of Omaha.

After the birth of Sadie, Jennie realized how important it was to be around her family. “It was really painful to go a whole year with them not seeing her for large slots of time.”

When David’s mom, Linda, heard the news, she says she kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, is this real?”

“Many, many years before, they had wanted to move back,” Linda says. “It all depends on jobs and things. You can’t just decide to move. You have to have an income.”

“It’s fun to watch her,” Linda says of baby Sadie. “When she first walks in the house and she sees you, she just lights up, and it’s like ‘Ahh!’ She just melts your heart.”

The Beckmans also have another granddaughter, Evelyn, who lives in Iowa. “We don’t see her nearly as often, but I’ll send her little packages here and there,” says Linda.

“We just want to be there to be of any assistance that the parents need. My parents were like that. They were always there to pick up the kids after school if I couldn’t do it. They were always there, so it just comes natural,” she says.

The Beckmans take care of Sadie each Tuesday evening. “Dave and Jenny get to have a few minutes by themselves to sort of catch their breath,” Linda says. They get to do things childless people do, like go out to eat without the dining room theatrics or relax on the deck and enjoy each other’s company.”

“I think the biggest thing is just the sense of comfort and security, and feeling like we have backup. And we have backups to our backup,” Jennie says.

Jennie’s support team also includes her own parents, Linda and Harry Gates, and her two brothers.

The Gates watch Sadie each Wednesday evening, and sometimes on the weekends for an hour or so while Jennie runs errands. They like to read books to Sadie or work on puzzles with her. They have tried painting and crafting with Play-Doh—no small feat with a child that age.

Harry also likes to take Sadie on walks. “We go look at the ants, and we go look at the flowers, and we go look at the birds,” he says.

Linda Gates says she really notices how Sadie changes from week to week. “Her vocabulary has just exploded. It seems like it’s all of a sudden, but because we can see her once a week, we really can see that progression. If they were still in Baltimore, we would miss out on all of that,” she says.

Gates, who prefers the name “Gigi” over “Grandmother,” has a penchant for wearing jewelry. “Sadie’s always real fascinated with that. If I have on bracelets and necklaces, I’ll take them off and put them on her, and she puts them back on me. It’s just kind of a nice moment together,” she says.

All the grandparents are happy with the new living arrangements. “It’s great. We’re very grateful and excited that it all worked out for them,” Gates says.

This article was printed in the Winter 2016 edition of Family Guide.


Building a New Life

April 12, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Eric Price has built beautiful rooms. And he’s built big beards.

But a whole new life? That’s something new.

Until August 2013, that is, when Price packed his wife and five children, his carpentry tools, and all the know-how from his father and left Baltimore for Omaha. Just months later Price launched Bearded Builders, a residential renovation and remodeling company that already employs eight people and earned a Best of Omaha award for Best Home remodeling.

“It is crazy,” Price says. “Omaha just has been great, far beyond anything I would have ever expected or dreamt. The customers we get to work with have been great.”

Many of whom can’t help but mention the beard when they first meet Price. It’s a chest-grazing bird’s nest with long strings of gray. There have been previous incarnations, but the current model is more than two years old (the last one bit the dust for his brother’s wedding).

Without it, says the 33-year-old transplant, “I look like a baby.”

He sure made a big-boy decision leaving Baltimore, where he and his wife, Amanda, were born and raised.

“It was not easy.”

He left behind his father, mother, and three brothers with families of their own. Two of them also are carpenters, just like their old man.

But Baltimore living doesn’t come cheap. Worse, business was slow. “We were not seeing bright lights or dollar signs,” Price says.

He and Amanda have five children (now ages 4 to 10, all home-schooled). “We were falling farther and farther behind on our bills,” Price says. “Cutting what we could, but we also realized that with five kids, things don’t get cheaper. It was just becoming more; the numbers telling us it was time to go.”

They researched places that had a lower cost of living, strong economy, and good market for home remodeling.

“Omaha seemed to fit the bill.”

They’d never been here before, but the family of seven made a weekend visit and liked what they saw. It was small, but clean. Hillier than expected, and people drove the speed limit. They found a church, too—Emmaus Bible Church in South Omaha.

Price initially worked for a small remodeling company. In March 2014 he launched Bearded Builders. His first gig was a tile job downtown. Business came quickly thereafter, about 150 jobs since—bathroom and kitchen renovations, basement remodels, and more. So much work that he’s hired six full-time carpenters and an office assistant. He’s also opened an office near 156th and Center streets and is installing a high-end kitchen showroom.

“Beyond anything I ever anticipated,” Price says. “Especially in this short a time.

“We’re just starting out but we want to build a reputable company that people can continue to trust and rely on. A place where guys can have a career they are excited to be a part of and hopefully one day retire from.”

He’s gone from short-term worries of paying the bills to long-term dreams of building something special.

By the hair, you might say, of his chinny, chin-chin.

Visit beardedbuilders.com to learn more.