Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Beauty So Rare, A (A Belmont Mansion Novel)


Pink is not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war--and still had one to fight.

Eleanor Braddock--plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty--knows she will never marry. But with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. 
But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

From the USA Today bestselling author Tamera Alexander comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society--and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.


What would you do if you were born in the upper class and/or royalty, but your heart is with those who are much less fortunate? Would you give up your posh lifestyle to help others or would you ignore your heart in order to do what society deems is the right thing? This is the reality for Eleanor Braddock and Archduke Marcus Gottfried in Tamera Alexander's "A Beauty So Rare."

Eleanor Braddock was born into the upper class. However, her life has not been completely easy. She has recently lost her only brother in the civil war and she has had to place her father into an asylum as he struggles with Alzheimer's. She has seen war and destruction as she has worked as a nurse on the civil war battlegrounds. Eleanor, due to lack of money, has had to move into her aunt's home. It is while living with her Aunt, that Eleanor begins to feel drawn to helping the less fortunate through cooking for widows and orphans. Cooking in her society is something left to those of much lower class status. Eleanor has her heart set on opening a cafe, however circumstances change and she is led on a different path to help those less fortunate with her cooking skills. 

Eleanor has such a kind, warm, compassionate heart and is a character that is completely relateable. She is proud of being able care for others, torn with loyalty to her family and their position and is caught in the line between doing things because they make the most sense and doing things because it is what is deemed proper in society. 

Archduke Marcus Gottfried, is on a year long sabbatical to the United States from his home in Austria. As the story unfolds, we learn about why he has come to the USA and his struggle with wanting to remain in the USA and having to return home because that is what society has deemed as proper. Marcus is a brilliant master gardener and architect who desires to leave his mark on the world in a worthwhile manner, rather than just being a rich name. Hilarity ensues as the "rich" of the society don't know the back story of Marcus and at times treats him as an undergardener or worker for hire. 

Marcus and Eleanor have similar goals and aspirations in that they both want to help those less fortunate, however they go about it in different paths that intertwine and weave and allow for life. 

I will have to admit that I could not put this book down. Ms. Alexander weaves such a beautiful story with many layers to keep everything intertwined between characters and to keep the reader involved. I loved reading about the conflict of interests between Eleanor's social standing and how she basically is able to put all the others who looked down on her in their place. I loved reading about Marcus' relationship with Caleb and how he took the boy under his wing. There was so much more that I enjoyed as well. The only thing that I did not enjoy was that that the story had to end because I so did not want it to. 

DISCLAIMERI received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Benjamin's 2nd Birthday Party

Sunday we were finally able to have Benjamin's 2nd birthday party! This was the one that we had to postpone from last weekend. Thankfully, everyone was still able to come except for my husband's sister, her husband and their daughter as they were out of town. Nothing like having 17 people in your house above the normal 5 that live here all the time. 

Thankfully the weather was absolutely gorgeous! It was near 80 degrees and sunny. Perfect for an afternoon birthday party. 

There were so many people here to celebrate Benjamin's birthday. My parents, Bill's parents, my brother and his girlfriend, my sister, my brother and his wife and their 3 kids, and Benjamin's Godparents and their four children. It was a full house but wonderful to have. 

We had a light dinner (sandwiches, pasta salad, strawberries, chips and veggies) and cake and ice cream. I had to make another cake as the one I made last weekend got eaten and was too big to freeze. I made a smaller cake this time, which was the perfect size. Everyone seemed impressed that I made a half chocolate/half white cake. It really was not hard to make. Benjamin loved his cake, although I think his favorite thing was taking the 3 cars off the cake to play with. 

Benjamin received some much needed summer clothes (play clothes and church clothes) and LOTS of cars and trucks (which are his favorite toys above all other things). This is the first time that no one asked me what to get him and everyone got him something that he could use and in the right size! 

It was so nice to get everyone together and we all had a lovely time. We are so blessed to have people in our lives who really do care for our family and for our children.

All in all, it was a great party with lots of happy memories! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Homemaker Monday!

I am joining Sandra today over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for her Happy Homemaker Monday theme!

As I look outside my window:::
It is raining and cloudy. It is just dreary looking outside. Yesterday it was warm and sunny, today not so much. Still warm but not sunny at all. 

Right now I am::: 
Typing out this post, thinking of the things I need to get done.

Thinking and pondering:::
On what my husband and I's next move should be. He is going to be applying for jobs out of state and I will be too. It is a stressful time, but time for us to take control for the future of our family.  

On my bedside table:::
A Shining Light by Judith Miller

On my tv tonight:::

I will be watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" and "19 Kids and Counting" and Indians baseball. 

Listening to:::
The rain, the cars going down the road and the TV is on the "Sunny Side Up" Show on Sprout for the boys. 

On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Cheeseburgers and French fries
Tuesday - Smoked sausage and potato bake and macaroni and cheese
Wednesday - Chicken patties and veggies
Thursday - Hot dogs and Baked beans
Friday - Fish sticks and veggies
Saturday - Not sure
Sunday -  Easter...Not sure

On my to do list:::

Collect all recycling and trash from Benjamin's bday party and take it to the curb

Happening this week:::
work, softball, soccer, etc.
My simple pleasure:::
Spending time with my husband and kids

Looking around the house:::
Doesn't look too bad considering we had 17 people over yesterday for a birthday party! 
From the camera:::

Prayer List:::
For Bill, as he job searches and as he is joining the Catholic Church this weekend.

Bible verse, Devotional:::

John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
Hope everyone has a great Monday! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

104.3 F

That was Rebecca's temperature last night when I took it at home. I had let Rebecca stay home from school as she woke up yesterday morning with a stomach ache and said she did not want to go to school. Now if you know my daughter you know that she cries hard if she has to miss school when she is sick. To say she didn't want to go, I knew she did not feel well. So she stayed home, and laid around and napped on an off all day, not really eating much of anything. When I came home from work around 430 she was asleep on the couch and I felt her forehead and she was cool.

Last night, she wanted to watch "Cars 2." Halfway through she fell asleep. When she woke up she said she wanted to go to bed and she didn't look good. I had just put Benjamin to bed, and Jacob was cleaning up. I took her temperature and it read 104.3F on one thermometer, and 104.4 on the other one that I have. And she said her stomach still ached. I called Bill to see if he could come home and take her to the ER. I gave her Motrin as well. Bill was able to come home and take her so that I could stay at home with the boys.

At the ER, her fever read 104.8F. After an hour on the Motrin it was only down to 103.5, so they gave her some Tylenol. They have ruled out a UTI, a lung infection (as her oxygen level was only at 95%) and they are now worried it is either a stomach infection or appendicitis. However, as her achiness was less than 24 hours old, they sent her home with instructions to give meds for the fever and if she still has the achiness tonight to bring her back in to the ER (the same doctor is in tonight) and they will do a cat scan to see if they can find anything.

This morning, Rebecca's fever was 102.3 when she woke up. She has slept most of the morning. She said her stomach still aches a little. I just got her up to take her temp again and it was down to 98.4.

To say that I am stressed out and worried is an understatement.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Looking for a job and other things...

I have a lot on my plate right now....

Yesterday, I had to take Benjamin in for a hearing evaluation. We are concerned because his speech is no where near where our other 2 kids were at age 2. So his doctor wants him to have a speech and hearing evaluation. So yesterday, I took him into have a hearing evaluation. The audiologist couldn't do a good evaluation because he was squirming and she saw fluid in at least one ear. So I get to take him to a ENT next week for a ear check and then hopefully she and the other audiologist can do the evaluation then.

Also yesterday, things came to a head with my husband's job search. He likes his job where he is, however, he has not had a cost of living raise in the 4 years there, he is working with 20 year old computers that won't load applications that he needs from the AP (he is a newspaper sports editor) and the owners of the company won't budge, his direct supervisor hates him and is making the work environment miserable. He took a pay cut when he took the job, and we are living paycheck to paycheck with his salary. So he has decided to start applying for open newspaper jobs around the country. I have told him that if he finds a job, we will move. I don't like that idea, but if that is what is needed for our family I will do it.

I have also decided to start looking for a full time teaching job. I found a website last night that I used when I was in college that lists job openings around the country where you don't need a masters of education to apply. I bookmarked a few of the jobs last night as they would start in August. It would mean moving out of state, which again I don't want to do but maybe that is the direction we need to go.

I don't know. I am worried about my husband. I am worried about Benjamin. I was so stressed last night that I was very itchy all over. I am worried about the future.

I just hope this is the right direction for us to be moving......

AND in the middle of all of this, normal everyday life has to happen.

The next couple days are busy, busy, busy....

Today I need to make 2 cakes for my daughter's school for tomorrow, make dinner for tonight before I leave for work, our landlord is supposed to come at some point to hopefully fix our upstairs sink, laundry, make a grocery list for tomorrow,....

This weekend, we have a soccer game, softball practice and a scrimmage, and Benjamin's rescheduled birthday party.

Maybe the stress of the everyday will make the stress of the job search and unknown future not seem so bright.

How are things in your life right now? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Right now I am... (the dialogue from my morning in lockdown at home....)

WORRIED from a text I just got from my hubby...apparently there is a guy being chased by police in our neighborhood who is being considered armed and dangerous. There are 4 local schools, including Rebecca's school on lock down. Bill has asked me to stay inside and keep the kids in. They arrested someone, but it was not the right person. Just got on facebook and apparently there are 2 suspects from a murder and an attempted murder this morning less than 10 minutes from here.

FURIOUS that our local police department did not call my daughters school to inform them of the need for a lockdown. Bill, who works at our local newspaper, called and talked to the secretary and I texted my mom who works there. The 3 public schools all in the same area were called....

KEEPING MY FINGERS CROSSED that our local authorities catch these 2 suspects. Just got a text from my hubby that they supposedly caught one in the creek around the corner from my house! I hope it is the right guy.

WONDERING what in the world this world is coming to? We are small town USA....we moved here from a larger city to get away from stuff like this.

RELIEVED that I just saw on facebook from our Sheriff's office that both suspects are in custody and school's lockdowns have been lifted.

THINKING that I need a stiff drink. Crazy stuff going on in our town.

WONDERING if anything exciting is happening in your town?

Monday, April 7, 2014

The party that wasn't....

On Sunday, we were supposed to have Benjamin's 2nd birthday party. So I spent all day Saturday cleaning house, doing laundry, baking the cake, decorating the cake, etc. so that everything would be good to go.

Sunday morning, Bill got up really early as he was running in a local 4 mile race. After he left, I got up showered, got dressed and went to get the kids up. Jacob was acting weird. He wasn't talking and was having trouble standing up. He also was acting very tired and looked very pale. I figured out he was dehydrated, as after I got him to drink he seemed better.

We decided to forgo going to church in case Jacob got worse. I got him to eat breakfast and he seemed better. Then I thought about Saturday, when he barely ate at all and he didn't have very much to drink. At lunch time, Jacob didn't want to eat again, but I told him he had to drink. He took a drink and then threw up. I took his temperature, but it was normal. Again, Jacob was acting tired and not like himself. So Bill and I decided to call off the party at the last minute and take Jacob to urgent care.

Diagnosis: Jacob has gastroentritis (sp?) which would explain why he wasn't eating. The doc just told us to push fluids, but if he doesn't want to eat, don't make him. We just have to keep an eye on him.

Bill took Jacob to the doctor by himself as Rebecca was in tears because we cancelled the party, and Benjamin was down for his nap. While they were gone, I finished up laundry, putting away all the laundry (total of 9 loads of clothes).

So I have to figure out what to do with the food that I made. Some will go in the freezer (buns...), some I guess will be made into dinner this week...and the cake we will snack on through the week. We have rescheduled the party for next Sunday, so we will try again.

I am just thankful that today Jacob seems better. He has more energy and did eat breakfast. I hate when my kids are sick.