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Best Books of 2008

So, this post is about the best books I read this year. Judging from my 'Books I've Read in 2008' list, I've read over 75 books...actually, far more than that cuz I didn't list every book I've read. In case you can't tell, I LOVE to read...like, really. Like, when my family went on our family walking trips (I was in junior high/high school), I'd always bring a book with me to read while I walked. Like, I'd be absolute HEAVEN just losing myself in the world created by the author. I'm crazy about reading. I guess it's fitting that I become an author myself, right?

Anyway, I've read some really awesome books this year - the kind where, even after I've finished, I wonder about the characters or what would happen if... I've decided to list my top 25 books of the past year. This list is as varied as my taste in books. I have fantasy, romance, YA, middle grade, picture, etc. Without further ado, my fave books of 2008...

Top 30 Books (Not in any particular order)


  • Revenge of the Homecoming Queen (YA) by Stephanie Hale

  • Twisted Sisters (YA) by Stephanie Hale

  • The Samurai Girl series (YA) by Carrie Asai

  • It's Not About the Accent (YA) by Caridad Ferrer

  • Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man (Mystery/Romance) by Claudia Mair Burney

  • Skin (Thriller) by Ted Dekker
  • The Island (Mystery/Romance) by Heather Graham

  • The Uglies trilogy (YA/Sci Fi) by Scott Westerfeld

  • Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (YA) by Ally Carter

  • The Kayla Chronicles (MG/YA) by Sherri Winston

  • Braless in Wonderland (YA) by Debbie Reed Fischer

  • Lady in Waiting: Developing Your Love Relationships (Inspiration) by Jackie Kendall, Debby Jones

  • Lilah's List (Romance) by Robyn Amos

  • Kill Me First (Thriller) by Kate Morgenroth

  • The Squad: Killer Spirit & The Squad: Perfect Cover (YA) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

  • Rapunzel's Revenge (YA/Graphic Novel) by Shannon & Dean Hale

  • When the Black Girl Sings (YA) by Bil Wright

  • Oh.My.Gods. (YA) by Tera Lynn Childs

  • Airhead (YA) by Meg Cabot

  • Coming Undone (Romance) by Stephanie Tyler

  • The Pirates of Underwhere series (MG) by Bruce Hale

  • How to Salsa in a Sari (YA) by Dona Sarkar

  • A Guilty Affair (Romance) by Maureen Smith

  • Grafitti Girl (YA) by Kelly Parra

  • The Companions Quartet (MG) by Julia Golding

  • Platinum (YA) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

  • Playing With Boys: A Novel (Chicklit/Romance) by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

  • Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico (YA) by Malin Alegria

  • Wicked Lovely (YA/Fantasy) by Melissa Marr

  • Tennis Anyone (Picture Book) by Shane Mcg

Looking at my TBR (To Be Read) list for next year, I see I'm going to have crazy fun reading. If you have any suggestions for good books to read, please feel free to make them. I'm always open to reading good books, no matter what the genre is. My fave genres, though, are Romance, YA, MG, picture book, Mystery, and Thriller/Suspense. Here's to happy reading in 2009!

 

Random Thoughts Thursday

Finally, back on Thursdays...at least til I'm without a computer again. I've decided to get a pink Dell (still trying to figure out which Dell). Unfortunately, I won't be able to buy one til February. Why pink? Cuz it's different. Although the black laptops are business-y, they're just so...blah. I want color. Guess I'm reverting back to my childhood days when pink was my color, before I outgrew it. Anyway, that's what I'm getting. On to my thoughts...


The Holidays. It's the holiday season! Did I mention before how much I love this time of year (I'm sure I did, but I'm saying it again). Monday was Hanukkah, so, Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate it. Today is Christmas, so, Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa (starts tomorrow). Did I miss one? If I did, forgive me. I celebrate Christmas, so I thank God for sending His Son here. Happy Birthday, Jesus! I love you!

James Bond. There's a rumor going around that P. Diddy wants to be the next Bond. You can look at his newest fragrance commercial & see that (his fragrances are AWESOME, btw). So, here's my take on this: while Diddy can dress like Bond & he may have that Bond swagger, I don't think he's Bond material. Just my opinion. First off, James Bond is supposed to be gorgeous and, to me, Diddy is not. I mean, come on. Sean Connery? Pierce Brosnan? Daniel Craig?


Diddy is not in the same league. Then, there's the smoothness...the umph that makes the man Bond. And the acting? Don't get me wrong. P Diddy was okay in Raisin in the Sun. Not dynamic...just okay. I admit, he does have a few Bond qualities, but, when I picture the first African American James Bond, I do not see Sean "P Diddy" Combs. I just don't.

You know who I do see? Will Smith. He's got it! He's the next James Bond - should they decide to add color to the Bond franchise. He's gorgeous, got a great body, smooth, an awesome actor, & gorgeous (I know I said that one already, but it's worth repeating). Think Bad Boys' Mike Lowry on a whole different level. That's James Bond. And he's a bankable star. Even in his worst movies, Will Smith still did well in the box office. Face it...I...I mean, people love Will Smith. They'd go see a Will Smith headliner before a P Diddy one (sorry, Diddy). I've casted my vote. Will Smith as the next James Bond. It's perfect - a match made in Hollywood heaven. Did I mention he's gorgeous?

 

Random Thoughts Thursday...On Saturday (again)

I SO need my own laptop! Can you say "perfect Christmas present"?

Living @ Home. My sis and I were having a discussion about the fact that we're grown - I'm 32 and she's 26 - and live with our parents. She's a little bummed about it. Me? I used to be bummed. More like embarrassed. Now, I'm not...well, not as much. I mean, yeah, I miss my independence, ALOT. I moved back January, 2007 cause I couldn't afford to be a full time doctoral student while living in a nice apartment on a substitute teacher salary. I tried and couldn't do it. Moving back in was the last thing I wanted to do, but I had no other choice. It was just smarter to live with my parents 'til I finish my doctorate program (next year, YAY!). So, I'm okay with it now. I think the fact that we're not just moochin' off my parents helps keep my attitude positive. There are grown children who sit around their parents' homes and do absolutely nothing. No offense, but I think that's just trifling. Can't do it. My sis and I have jobs, pay rent, help out with the food, etc. We help out around the house. We are planning on buying house & becoming roommates, but that's not til next year. So, yeah. I'm 32 and live with my parents. I think of it like this: I'm in good company. Jesus was 33 when he moved out his parents house to do what he was called for. :)

Songs I'm Really Feelin. Every time I hear these songs on the radio, I feel compelled to blast the radio and sing/dance along. I am absolutely FEELIN these songs. Now, just so you know, my taste in music is diverse. I listen to almost everything (can't really get into the heavy metal type). This list kind of reflects my taste. Here are 30 songs that get me moving:

  • Green Light by John Legend
  • Live Your Life by T.I. f/Rhianna - OMG, I'm really lovin this song!
  • Bust Your Windows by Jazmine Sullivan - okay so she's talking bout busting the windows of an ex's car. Clearly, I'm not like that...I just like the hip-hoppish tango track. Really.
  • I Need You Bad by Jazmine Sullivan
  • Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) by Beyonce
  • Magic by Robin Thicke
  • Flaws and All by Beyonce - This is a beautiful song.
  • Big Enough by Ayiesha Woods
  • Let It Rock by Kevin Rudolf
  • Corazon by Prima J
  • Addicted by Saving Abel
  • Cry for You by September
  • Keeps Gettin Better by Christina Aguilera
  • Te Mando Flores by Fonseca
  • When I Grow Up by The Pussycat Dolls
  • Miss Independent by NeYo - Lovin it!
  • American Boy by Estelle f/Kanye West
  • Gotas de Agua Dulce by Juanes
  • All Around Me by Flyleaf
  • Mercy by Duffy
  • Pegate by Ricky Martin
  • Jamas by Ricky Martin - Don't care what anyone says. I've loved Ricky Martin's music for a while. His song, La Copa de La Vida (The Cup of Life) actually hooked me on Latin/Spanish music.
  • Calabria 2008 by Enur f/Natasja
  • So What by Pink
  • Hot N Cold by Kate Perry
  • Burning Up by Jonas Brothers
  • Swagger Like Us by T.I. f/Kanye, Jay-Z, & Little Wayne
  • Set the World on Fire by Brit Nicole
  • Solo Para Ti by Camila: Actually, anything by Camila
  • Love Lockdown by Kanye West


So, these are actually a few of the songs. There were too many to name. When you get in my car, you'd see the different kind of radio stations I have programmed: Spanish, Contemporary Christian, Gospel, Hip Hop/R&B, Pop... What can I say? I'm crazy about music. I can't help it - it's in my blood (my dad's a musician).

 

Random Thoughts Thursday...on Saturday

I know I'm 2 days late; couldn't be helped; didn't have computer access, hence, my Random Thoughts post on Saturday. Oh the day when I'll be able to afford my own laptop (soon, I'm hoping...like for Christmas, maybe)! Anyway, on to my thoughts - which, really, I haven't thought much about anything but work and my dissertation. Here are the few extra thoughts I've had:

Obama 'Haters'. Oh how I wish people would stop 'hatin' on Obama. For those who don't know, a hater is A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person (urbandictionary.com). Newsflash: HE WON! He's gonna be our 44th president. The people of America have spoken. Sheesh! Leave the man alone. People need to focus on how to make America even better rather than how to stop the next pres from being pres. I guess I can look at this from a positive angle: All this opposition will only make PRESIDENT Obama and his family stronger & Lord knows this country needs someone strong....

December. YAY, IT'S DECEMBER!!!! December is my favorite month. I LOVE this time of year. It's awesome...it's fun...it's beautiful...it's magical. The decorations, the caroling, the giving...I love it all. And it's Jesus' birthday (the celebrated day, at least). It's the best. I'm like a big kid during this time.

I remember when I was younger, we used to go caroling in the neighborhoods (before people started getting all freaked out about the whole religion thing). I loved doing it, and I miss it. My sis and I were just talking about how & where we can sing carols without offending people. Our neighborhood has a mixture of religions. On one corner, we have a Muslim mosque. Across the street from that, a 7th Day Adventist church is being built. Our church (Christian...Baptist) is next to the Adventist church and next to ours is another Baptist church. That doesn't include the 2 Baptist churches right around the corner, the other Muslim mosque down the street, and the Jehovah's Witness church about 2 minutes away. I'm not sure we can go caroling without offending anyone. And you can't carol without songs like Silent Night, Joy to the World, and O Holy Night...all talking about Jesus. Maybe we can carol at a children's hospital - spread a little Christmas cheer. I don't know. All I do know is THIS IS MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR! Happy holidays to EVERYONE.

 

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

So, yesterday was the last day of NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the 50K word mark (more like 5,871), but I'm okay with it - *sniff* - really, I am. I don't like losing, but whatever. I still have the same excitement over this book now as I did when I first started planning it. At least now, I don't have to stress of "OMG! Must make it to 50K" bombarding me. I can actually take my time. I think the stress of my dissertation hindered me. I know one thing: I will NOT have the dissertation problem next year (God-willing). I will be done! With the dissertation, I mean. Anyway, last week, I posted the synopsis and a small excerpt of Who's Got Tha Moves. Today, I'm posting my cast of characters (wanted to post my soundtrack, but it's not working right now).

Cast of Characters

In my novel notebook, I have pics of other characters (both major and minor). Of course, I'm only posting characters who are very important to the novel.

Jordin Sparks as Treasure Davis
Treasure is my main character. She's the oldest of 4 girls...a typical first born: focused, organized, etc. Up until recently, Treasure was satisfied with the way her life was going - all she did was go to school, go to work, go to church, and go home (no social life). She's shy and dislikes being in groups or crowds. Treasure has been dancing since she was 3. Trying out for Who's Got Tha Moves takes Treasure way out of her comfort zone.
Jennifer Freeman as Maya Nuñez
Maya is Treasure's bff. She's more outspoken than Treasure...not shy at all.
Bow Wow as Q
Treasure's crush; a year older than Treasure
Gus Carr: Gio Morales
Contestant on WGTM; Treasure's dance partner for competition; develops feelings for her.
Adriana Lima as Zoe Dobson
Treasure's main competition on WGTM

So, that's it. My cast of main characters. There are more people (the WGTM hosts, main judge, and contestants). These are the people I see when I'm writing the novel...the ones I visualize. Didn't get to do character bios this time. Who knows, after the novel is developed more (with a possibility of representation and/or publication), I can go more into details. :)

 

This Just In...

As I walked through our neighborhood (yeah, gotta walk off those Thanksgiving pounds), it occurred to me that we have some lazy, trifling humans here on Earth. I balked at the amount of trash I saw on the streets. Now, don't get me wrong, the neighborhood doesn't look like a dump - it's a nice place to live in - but nevertheless, thrash still litters the streets.

I noticed empty chip bags, burger wrappers, fast food cups, empty beer cans, cigarettes, cigarette boxes, broken beer bottles, a squished baby diaper (don't even wanna know what was in there), candy wrappers, Styrofoam cups, etc. I even saw a used condom (Are you as grossed out as I was? I would've stepped on the darn thing had I not been looking down at the time.).

People, it doesn't take much to hold on to your trash and throw it in the nearest trash can. We have a Walgreen's and 3 gas stations right around the corner that have trash cans. It takes less than a minute to pull over and throw the trash away. And the used condom wrapper? Ew! Please, spare us the evidence of your passionate night (or day). The sad thing is, the condom was right across from a mosque. Now, I'm not Muslim, but I do respect the worship place of those in our neighborhood...just like I would want someone to respect my church (also in the neighborhood). Call me prude, but I wouldn't dare go there across a worship place. *shaking head in disdain*

 

Random Thoughts Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!

Some things I am thankful for...

  • God/Jesus
  • Family
  • Life
  • Job
  • Health - yeah, I have HBP, but other than that, I'm healthy...and HBP can be controlled
  • Music
  • Books
  • my God-given purpose: to educate and empower children/teens
  • children/teens (without them, I wouldn't have a purpose)
  • My ability to create and write stories that will one day bring smiles to readers' faces
  • Fact that people actually read my blogs
  • The people before me who fought and/or died for the rights that I'm enjoying now


The thing that I am most thankful for is God. Without Him, my life would cease to exist. Without Him, life would be worthless. He's awesome!


Don't forget to take some time out to thank someone - which, actually shouldn't be limited to one day. So, what are you thankful for?

 

NaNoWriMo Weeks 2 & 3 Wrap-Up

Well, I've definitely fared better than the first week of NaNo. If I were keeping up with the time, I'd be at about 44,000 words (2,000 words/day). Yeah, that's a laugh. I haven't even broken the 10,000 mark. I'm at 2,891 and counting. I'm not as down as I was the first week. Hey, at least I'm writing, right? And I still have next week (Thanksgiving holidays) where I can maybe catch up...or at least make it to 20,000. I'll be happy with half a novel by the time this is over. So, maybe for my NaNoWriMo Week 4 Wrap-Up, I'll have more words.

Sometimes I feel like both the left and right sides of my brain are fighting for attention. I mean, I use more of my left brain for my dissertation and more of my right brain for my book (which is another reason why I'll be glad I'm done with the dissertation...it's hogging my brain, leaving barely enough time for creativity - although, I'd like to think I have to use some creativity with it). I'm sure other NaNos fared waaayyy better than me, which is awesome. I'm still happy with my accomplishment, considering the fact that I've been too tired after work to even think of writing.

Anyway, like I've said before, the novel's name is, Who's Got Tha Moves. I'm so excited about this novel. Here's a short synopsis (thanks Bev Rosenbaum for helping me sum it up so nicely): In her determination to become more exciting (and hook her crush, Nate), accomplished, but hideously shy dancer, Treasure Davis, auditions for a popular dance reality show. Next thing Treasure knows, she's an insta-star, with all the attention--positive and negative--that comes with mega-celebrity. It's everything she wants--isn't it?

I'm having so much fun with this one. I'm not into reality shows, but I love watching the dance ones (Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, America's Best Dance Crew), since I LOVE to dance. Wanna know a secret? When I was about 5 or 6, I wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer. Solid Gold was an old show that I used to watch. I remember sitting in front of the TV every time it came on. Dancing has been my love since then. So, yeah, I'm enjoying Who's Got Tha Moves. I'm channeling my teenage self with this one.

Anyway, next week, I'll post my cast of characters and the soundtrack, but, for now, I'm going to post the opening of Who's Got Tha Moves. Now, remember, during NaNo, it's all about quantity...not quality, so this is a VERY rough draft:

Tee Davis must die. Or at least disappear forever. Either way, I've got to get rid of her.

I'm not some insane chick, plotting the demise of another human. I'm a perfectly sane, 17-year old, plotting the demise of myself...or my old self, rather.

It's time for her to say goodbye.

 

Random Thoughts Thursday

Dissertation. If you've been following this blog at all, you know my feelings on this subject. That graduation date just seems to drift farther and farther away from me. I keep telling myself it'll all be worth it in the end, but, really, sometimes, it's hard to keep that in mind. I just have to continue to picture myself all decked out in my doctorate regalia, walking across the stage as they call my name: Dr. Raenice B. Weakly.


Rejection. So, I received about 3 more agent rejections within the last 2-3 weeks. Yeah, it stings, but that's how the game is played. I think I received my best agent rejection Monday from The Chudney Agency. The agent, Steven Chudney, sent me a friendly, personalized letter. He made suggestions on how I can make my manuscript better and made notations on the 50-page submission. OMG, are you serious? Clearly this is one of the reasons why The Chudney Agency is one of my top agencies (besides the fact that they represent some good authors). Mr. Chudney even suggested that I keep him in mind. Oh, I will Mr. Chudney...believe me, I will. Honestly, I think the second novel I'm working on, Who's Got Tha Moves, just may very well be my 'breakout' novel. I've always felt this way - since I came up with the WGTM idea. So, I think that, after finishing WGTM and going through a gazillion revisions, I may have more takers for my 2nd novel than my first. I know I'm a good writer. I'm not being cocky or egotistical...I just know that God gave me this gift and everything that comes from Him is good. I'm just looking forward to the day that I move from aspiring author, to published author.

Changes. Some people have a hard time with change. Me? I'm okay with it, every once in awhile. This past weekend, I underwent a major change. I cut my hair off. I'd been looking for something different, saw the cutest hairstyle, and knew cutting my hair was the way to go. So, now, the hair that was once growing past my shoulders is know practically off my neck. People asked why I cut my long hair off. I say, my hair is meant to be played in and styled. I get bored very easily with my hair. I've had my hair braided, cornrowed, cut, and colored in different styles. Besides, my hair grows fast. In 2005, I cut my hair even shorter than it is now and, by 2007, it ended up being past my shoulders. Anyway, I'm lovin my new haircut! It's short and sassy, just like me. :) It's also easy to maintain. Here are pics:

BEFORE

AFTER

 

Stay Tuned...

I'm knee deep in dissertation work, so NaNo Weeks 2 & 3 Wrap Up will be posted at end of the week.

 

Random Thoughts Thursday

Barack Obama's Historical Win. My feelings in one word? YAY! For those who doubted that America would ever vote an African American man into office, this election has clearly knocked that doubt out the park. He didn't just win...he won by a landslide. It's so amazing that I'm living to see this day. I mean, this is big! Like put-it-in-the-history-books big! And inspiring. I know Obama ran into naysayers: "A black president? Ain't happening!" But he kept on. He had his race and inexperience going against him, but he kept going. I'll be sending prayers up to heaven for him and his fam. And the fact that people who'd never voted before came out in droves...amazing! This election was just an awesome thing to watch. Yes, I cried when it was announced that Obama was our new President-elect. I thought of all the pioneers who fought hard and died for a time like this. My grandmother, who died last year, would've LOVED this. Martin Luther King would've LOVED this. They all would've LOVED this. I pray that Obama does what he said he'd do. I know it'll probably take more than 4 years to bring America out of the whole, but I look forward to the change that Obama may bring! And may I say, I think Michelle Obama will make an exceptional first lady.

Nebraska Safe Haven Law. Since this law came into play, more than half of the children left at the hospitals have been teens. I know some teens can be a handful, and some parents are probably at their wits end. I don't know. Abandonment? I can't even think of the words to say.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081113/ap_on_re_us/safe_haven;_ylt=AlTU_xYhzLMnA4Cdxf4ij6txieAA.

Dancing With The Stars. Last 2 standing? Brooke and Warren. I love watching Warren dance!

Latin Grammys. Waaaaaaaaaaaa! I wanted to be at the Latin Grammys! It's here in Houston and I couldn't go. *SIGH* And we'd heard where the stars will hang out, but we couldn't remember where...not that we would've been able to afford to go. Being broke sucks!

 

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Wrap-Up

The end of NaNo week 1 has come. You want to know how many words I've written? 70! No, not 70,000. Just...70. Sad, isn't it? I came into NaNo with high hopes. I wanted to write a chapter a day. Little did I know, I'd have a busy week. By the end of the day, I was too tired to do anything this week. Needless to say, this week was a bust.

BUT, I'm not giving up. It just means that starting today, in order to catch up, I'd have to write 2 chapters a day, til next Saturday.

Something good did good did come out of this week (besides our new president-elect): a new story idea - or at least a new character. The teen daughter of the first African American president. I know one of President Obama's daughters is 7 and the other will be 9 next year. What if the children were teens? Being the child of a pres is stress enough, but the child of the first black pres...yeah, that's a book. I know I won't be the only one with this kind of character, but, I'll be adding my voice to the story...putting my own twist to the story.

Happy writing!

 

Random Thoughts...

...will return next week. It's been a busy (and crazy) week. Lots to say, but no time to write it.

 

Random Thoughts Thursday

Jennifer Hudson's Tragedy. My heart goes out to Jennifer Hudson and her family. To lose her mother, brother, and nephew... I can't imagine losing my mom, brother, and nephew individually, but at the same time? And to hope that her nephew's alive, only to find the body. It's so sad. They are definitely in my prayers.



Plot to Kill Obama. It seems that the FBI has foiled the plot of two young skinheads to kill 88 blacks (decapitate 14 of them) including Barack Obama. My thoughts? #1: There's more where that came from. While Obama is making history, he's also making a lot of racist people angry by getting this far. Those of us who are prayer warriors will have to keep Obama and his family - and this country - in our prayers...it'll only get worse (the plots) if and when he becomes pres; #2: I've never understood the white supremacist thought of protecting their country...keeping it pure. I mean, really? 'Cause the last time I checked, it ain't their country to claim. Their ancestors, just like most Americans, came to this country from somewhere else. The only difference is, their ancestors came on their own. They weren't here first - the Native Americans had this country first. Is it really the skinheads' country to keep pure?

Dancing With The Stars. I missed this week's DWTS, but I heard that Cloris Leachman was voted off. Finally. I mean, the fact that this 80-something year-old woman was on DWTS dancing was amazing, don't get me wrong. She moved pretty good for her age. BUT she shouldn't have made it this long (at least not longer than Toni Braxton). Who's next? I say Susan Lucci. My final four are Brooke (who'll probably win), Warren, Cody, and Lance.

Family Ties. So, anyone can see how close my family is. Growing up, some friends didn't understand how I could tell my parents everything. Other friends became constant fixtures in the Weakly household to experience that closeness. People used to call us the Huxtables from the Cosby Show, which we took as a compliment, although, clearly, we didn't have the Huxtable money. I wouldn't trade in my childhood, nor my family, for all the money in the world. My mom and sis are 2 of my best friends. The original Weakly kids are grown (I'm 32, my brother is 28, and my sister is 26), but we have others who've become part of the fam and is experiencing the love. I'm blessed to be a Weakly. God's placed me in an awesome family.
Daddy and Mama
My brother, Shawn, and my nephews: Dae (7), Kam (7), and Sydney (4)
My sister, Meechie, and I

 

Kids Say the Darndest Things

My four year-old nephew, Sydney, loves Disney Channel. One day, he said to my mom, "I want to be on TV with the Jonas Brothers, GiGi." My mom replied, "Baby, if I could get you on TV, I would, but I can't do that." He looked at my mom like she was crazy - like she could do it - and said, "You can, GiGi. Remember Fat Albert. You can break the TV like they did, put me in it, and you can fix the TV back.

"Yesterday, my brother called me. My stubborn nephew (just like my brother) was arguing up and down that the name of the Disney show was not 'Wizards of Waverly Place'. Sydney seems to believe that the name of the show is 'Wizards of Flavorly Flave'. He stands by that name too.

Kids...gotta love 'em.

 

Family Fun @ the Football Game

This past Sunday, my family and I went to the Texans/Bengals game. We had excellent seats, not far from the field. We were able to see everything - even stuff that happened off the field. Great game, great seats, tons of fun. To make it even better, the Texans won. They did good. And guess what I did that I'm still regretting today? FORGOT MY CAMERA! Actually, we all forgot our cameras. ARGH! I couldn't capture how close we were to the field. I couldn't capture the excitement on my nephews' faces. At one point, when they played music, one of my nephews got up and danced. Hil-ar-i-ous! Sadly, I didn't capture that either. :(

I've always loved football. With my dad a former high school star (could've went further but was injured), and my brother a former high school and college star, I guess I had no other choice. In my younger days, though, it was more about the cuties in uniform than the actual game. Now, in my ripened age of 32, I'm a little wiser. I still look at the cuties (hey, I'm a woman...can't help it), but I actually pay attention to the game...and I pretty much understand what's going on. This makes me love it even more.

Speaking of football cuties, Will Demps, #47 on the Texans, is cute...hot...fine...muy guapo...all of the above... I'd seen pictures of him and heard about him when he was on the New York Giants. I'd always wondered if he looks as good in person as he does in his pictures. I'm glad to say he does. We - my sis and I - saw him as he walked off the field after the game. Thank God for close seats, 'cause we saw him nice and clear. Oh, to meet him and have him beam that gorgeous smile at me just once. And to top it all off, I'd read an article about him (Essence Magazine, September 2007 issue) where he said: What I really crave is love, tenderness and understanding-an intimate partnership with a woman who could become my wife. I'm far from perfect and all of this is easier said than done. But if God gives me the strength to ignore my physical urges and temptations, I know I can have that kind of relationship. Sappy? Maybe. Sweet? Definitely. *SIGH* I think I have a new crush...at 32, lol! I leave you with a pic of the shirt I wore to the game (the only picture I did get to take) and pics of the gorgeous Will Demps, who happens to model on the side. Who'da thunk it? A modeling football player. *SIGH*

 

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) will begin in exactly one week. From November 1st to November 30th, writers from all over will attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. The point isn't really quality (how well you write), but quantity (how much you write). You're declared a winner when you've reached the 50,000 word mark (they have ways to verify).

The 1st year I participated, 2006, I only got half a novel out, which I ended up trashing. My 2nd year, 2007, I didn't really participate. Having 2 doctorate classes and a full-time job kind of squashed my creativity. I started out as a participant, but never really got the ball rolling. This well be my 3rd year with NaNoWriMo. I'm hoping to succeed, despite having a full-time job, and a dissertation to work on.

Now, the hard thing about doing NaNo is actually getting my internal editor to shut up. This year, I'll have to tie up the perfectionist part of me and hide her in my mental closet til NaNo is over. That way, I won't have to hear her say things like: That doesn't make sense at all; More description; Less dialogue; or Are you really leaving that there? She's so loud, it's hard to ignore her. *SIGH* Yeah, she's going deep, deep in my closet. Maybe I can mentally tape her mouth.

You know the novel I worked on for my 1st NaNo? Well, it's back - stronger than ever. It's got a name, Who's Got Tha Moves, and I've got a plan. That's right. This past month, I, in all my anal-ness, managed to plan WGTM. Some people can just write without nothing planned. Though I wish I could do that, I can't. I tried that with my first novel and it took forever. When I wrote an outline (for my 1st novel) and planned, the novel came out easily. So, what did I do to plan?

Novel Notebook - which I actually did this spring, but didn't think about the story until this month. In the notebook, I have sections for subjects like summary/plot, major characters, minor characters, background, etc. I have pics of anything that reminds me of WGTM and of celebs who resemble my characters. I had fun putting this together because I was able to visualize things in the novel. Here's a pic:
The Three Acts: Major Turning Points: I got this idea from http://www.sff.net/people/alicia/artthreeacts.htm. The article shows how to put your novel in three acts and describes what happens in each act. Now, I have an idea what's going to happen in the novel.

Plot Board: I looked all around the 'net to see examples of plot boards. I didn't find much, but I did find some (Diana Peterfreund's website is one place). I just added my 'flavor' to it. Each sticky color represents something (goal/motivation; main plot; 3 subplots). This way, I have an idea what'll happen in each chapter. I'm not quite finished with the plot board but it will be done by NaNoWriMo. I have it hanging on my wall. Here's a pic:

So, I'll be ready for NaNo this year. I'm excited about this novel and know I'm going to have fun writing it. During NaNoWriMo, I'll be blogging about my experience and keeping a record of words written. I also plan to post fun stuff like my cast of characters (if my novel became a movie, who would I cast), the soundtrack, and other things from my novel. So, stay tuned!

 

Random Thoughts Thursday

My Agent Search.

When, oh when, will I get an agent? So far, I've received 22 rejections out of the 35 agents I've sent queries to since May. Five other agents have never responded, so I can add that to my rejections. I'm still waiting on answers from my 2nd round agents (who I sent queries to at the beginning of this month). It's hard not to get discouraged, but I'm not giving up. I know, with no doubt, that God gave me a talent to write. I also know He gave me this talent to share with others. And I have to stand on those beliefs. I will become a published author of children/teen books. It's just that, patience has never been a virtue of mine...

My Dissertation.

I am SO ready to be done with my doctorate program! July 25, 2009 can't come soon enough for me! Enough said.

Sarah Palin.

http://www.slate.com/id/2202658/?GT1=38001 and http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/news/politics/story/aa55049aa6a3a6bf862574ea00136ad6?OpenDocument. I mean, really?


Medicine Side Effects.

Don't you just love hearing/reading the about the side effects of the same medicine that's supposed to help you? The medicine commercials are hilarious to me. It'll help you sleep at night. Oh, and there's the little issue of it causing a stroke. So, because I have HBP, I have to take a pill everday. It's basically a water pill whose name I won't even attempt to say. Anyway, it helps lower my blood pressure BUT, the side effects are: dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, blurred vision, loss of appetitite, stomach upset, diarrhea, or constipation. I may also experience: decreased sexual activity or sensitivity to the sun. This medication may cause dehydration, dry mouth, thirst, muscle cramps, weakness, fast/irregular heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, severe dizziness, unusual drowsiness, unusual decrease in the amount of urine, fainting, confusion, seizures. These are unlikely, but serious side effects: numbness/tingling of the arms/legs, and joint pain. These are rare, but serious side effects: signs of infection (like fever, persistent sore throat), easy bruising/bleeding, stomach/abdominal pain, persistent nausea/vomiting, unusual/persistent tiredness, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, unusual change in the amount of urine. They were nice enough to warn: This is not a complete list of possible side effects. Are you serious? Thankfully, I'm not experiencing many of the side effects, except sensitivity to the sun (and I've always been sensitive to the sun). One annoying side effect I've been experiencing is, after I take my pill, I seem to have to go to the bathroom EVERY HOUR. I'm told that's a normal side effect (it's a water pill and supposed to help your body get rid of excess water, blah blah). Whatever. I feel like a little kid who can't hold her water.


The DDR Phenomenon.

In my previous post, I mentioned that my sis and I have been working out. One of our workouts include playing Dance Dance Revolution (something we became addicted to while working at our church summer camp 3 years ago). Now, don't laugh...DDR ain't no joke! There are 4 levels: Beginner, Basic, Expert, and Challenge. We're only on the Basic level - Expert and Challenge are too scary...all those arrows *shudder*. We only do slower songs for warmup/cooldown, which means, most of the time, we're jumping up and down and moving our feet to songs in the 170 - 225 range (225 is the highest).Yesterday, we did DDR for an hour. Can we say, "workout"? Today, my legs are feeling my efforts. It was a MAJOR workout, but we had fun. I wonder what we're doing tomorrow (today is strength training). Oh, by the way, I lost 2 more pounds. So, I have 13 pounds down and 17 to go. Yay, me! In honor of DDR, I'm posting a vid of my 4 year-old nephew playing DDR this summer. Too cute!

video

 

My Health

Last week, I went to the doctor for my physical and well-woman exam (VERY uncomfortable, btw). I'd scheduled the appointment because both sides of my family have a history of cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. I wanted to make sure that all was right in my health world. The last time I went to the doctor, I was told that I had borderline high blood pressure. This summer, I came to the conclusion that I might've gone from borderline to actual high blood pressure. I'd been experiencing some of the same problems that my parents (who both have HPB) have: constant headaches (I don't just get headaches...I get migraines), swollen feet, etc.

It turns out that, unfortunately, I was right. I have HPB now. ARGH! So, now, I have medicine, thankfully just one, that I have to take everyday, which sucks 'cause I'm horrible at taking medicine. I had to write a note to myself on my dry erase board (yeah, I'm a nerd...I have a "to do" board in my room) to remind me to take the medicine. I've never liked taking medicine.

The good thing is, with exercise and good eating habits, I can lower my blood pressure. I've been exercising pretty faithfully since June. I've been watching what I eat since August. I have fallen off the wagon, so to speak, every once in a while, but I've gotten back on. Overall, I've lost 11 pounds. Yay me! My sister and I have really buckled down this month and have been doing well. We've either walked 2+ miles, played volleyball in front of the house, or had 45 minutes to an hour of Dance Dance Revolution, which, btw, is an awesome form of cardio. We've added strength training in between our workout days. My original goal was to lose a few pounds for our Puerto Rico trip, but, now I've added lower my blood pressure. As far as eating in concerned, the problem isn't that I eat too much, it's that I don't eat enough. I usually only eat dinner because I don't make the time to eat breakfast or lunch. This is bad because I usually get cravings and end up eating junk food. So, now, I'm working on eating 5 times a day - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 2 snack times in between.

I guess if I blog about my journey, it'll hold me accountable. I'm supposed to have a checkup in November to see if my blood pressure has gone down. So, my BP was 155 over 113 (I know...horribly high). My prayer is that I can lower it some by my next appointment. Also, my goal in June was to lose at least 30 pounds by the end of this year (I'm not even going to say how much I weigh). I'm now at 11 pounds down and 19 to go. Can I do it? Will keep you updated!

 

Good Feelings

Today's post is clearly dripping with sarcasm. Did I really experience "good feelings" when these things happened? Uh...no. More like horror, embarrassment, mortification...you get the idea. It's just, I believe that laughter really is the best medicine and I happen to have a sarcastic sense of humor - which, by the way, explains why I enjoy working with and writing for tweens/teens (if you hang with them long enough, you'll see what I mean). Anyway, instead of screaming in frustration, running away in embarrassment, or bawling like a baby, I decided to laugh and make fun.

Good feelings are what you get when a child comes up to you and asks if you remember them (your answer is yes), then asks you to say their name...and you can't. Is it my fault I'm better with faces than names? And, come on, do you know how many kids I've worked with?

Good feelings are what you get when you find out that the beautiful city of Morelia, a city you visited back in July, is one of the Mexican cities experiencing problems with drug wars, gang shootings, and killings of innocent people. I guess that explains why we saw a whole bunch of police directing traffic the night we went clubbing.

Good feelings are what you get when you've found out that you got robbed by an old, bent over lady with more wrinkles than a balled-up shirt.

Good feelings are what you get when you get out of you car (hands full of bags), close the door, and realize, right at the sound of the door shutting, that your keys are still in the ignition. Thank God for that second set of keys!

Good feelings are what you get when you realize that your little sister has mas tetas than you. Aren't big sisters supposed to have more boobage than little sisters?

Good feelings are what you get when one of your first graders come up to you, with a smile on her angelic face, and say, "Miss Weakly, you look pretty today" and in the same breath, with the same enthusiasm, point to your butt and say, "Wow, you're big right there." Kids...gotta love 'em.

Good feelings are what you get when you're walking around the classroom and trip over a mat and you fall...all the way down.

Good feelings are what you get when you get to work - you happen to be substituting at a junior high school this day - and realize, too late, that you have 2 different shoes on. Did I mention that the school's in the rich part of the school district? And junior high students are unmerciful when it comes to things like this? So, what do you do? Make fun of yourself before they can...and, boy do they have a wonderful time laughing at your expense.

Good feelings are what you get when you realize that you have a nephew who's part of the class of 2019, one who's class of 2020, one who's class of 2022, and a godson who's class of 2025. Not to mention the fact that any children you have will be class of 2028 or beyond.

Well, these are only a few of my "good feelings". I don't think I'll ever stop experiencing them. In fact, I'm sure I won't. And, really, after all is said and done, they make life more interesting!

 

Random Thoughts Thursday

In a moment of pure brilliance, I decided that Thursdays will be the days I post my 'random thoughts' blog. Why? Alliteration. Thoughts. Thursday. I know. Brilliant. Way to play on words, Rae.

Vibe's Best Rapper Alive

Vibe Magazine held a 'Best Rapper Alive' contest for its November issue (http://www.vibe.com/news/online_exclusives/2008/10/the_best_rapper_alive_is/). The winner was Eminem. I will say Eminem is definitely in my top 5, but the best? I know this is a matter of opinion. Personally, I think Jay Z (who came in 2nd place) is the best, but, whatever. My problem with the contest came more with some of the other nominees. To me - and this is my opinion, which I'm entitled to - some of the rappers named shouldn't have even been on the list. Soulja Boy? Flo Rida? I mean, having Soulja Boy on the list with the likes of Jay Z and Eminem would be like...let's see...having a 'best basketball player alive' contest and having some junior high/middle school players on the same list as NBA players. Some of these 'rappers' aren't even in the same league.

The Cheryl Burke Weight Gain Issue

Apparently, Cheryl Burke, a professional dancer on Dancing With The Stars, has gained some weight since last season (http://omg.yahoo.com/news/dancing-cast-defend-cheryl-burke-over-weight-criticisms/14164;_ylt=AoBZxP6lBGrQFQjiiDorqKvWn414) This is Cheryl last year: and this is a pic of her this year:
This is fat? My goodness, I guess I'm elephantine then! What is is with America and its obsession over weight? A celeb gains a few pounds and, OMG! Call the fat police! They're starting to resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy (or girl)! I mean, really? And we wonder why so many young girls (and guys) have eating disorders. So, what...Paris Hilton, in all her boniness, is the epitome of beauty? I think not! I think Cheryl looks good. Can I look that good in a bikini, Lord? Please? And she's an awesome dancer too? I think I've found a new role model. You know what I say? Leave her the h*ll alone! She looks good. And she feels good about her body...and she should. She should be a role model to both women and girls. I love the fact that her and Lacey Schwimmer are on DWTS, representing the more curvier women (although there are women with more curves than them both). When will we ever stop letting society dictate what real beauty is?

Barack and Michelle Obama

I noticed something last night at the end of last night's debate. When the wives were on stage, there was a difference in body language between the couples. While the audience was clapping, the McCains stood apart. Every once in a while, Cindy would reach over and touch John. The Obamas, on the other hand, stood close together. Barack had an arm around Michelle and she had an arm around him. Every once in a while, they'd whisper something to each other. I've been observing them throughout his campaign and, I must say, I love what I see. There's nothing like seeing a couple show so much love and admiration for each other. I see that in my own parents who have been married for 31 years and together for even longer. My parents are high school sweethearts. I love seeing them hold hands. Every morning, they call each other (Daddy works at home, but Mama doesn't) to say 'I love you' and 'Have a good day'. I LOVE that! When I get married, I want that myself. And I love the way Barack protects his family. Earlier in the campaign, when people tried to get on Michelle, he immediately squashed it, basically saying, 'You can talk about me, but leave my wife and daughters alone.' My dad's like that. He's protective of his whole family, but he's more protective of his girls (Mama, my sis, Meechie, and I). All the males in the family (extended family as well) know not to mess with the Weakly women. Growing up, my brother was not allowed to hit my sis or I. If a male were to disrespect Daddy's girls... well, let's just say the guilty one wouldn't be happy. So, yeah, my future husband (whoever he may be) will have a lot to live up to. Anyway, on youtube, there's a wonderful vid of Michelle and Barack: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPYMaF2vAmg.

 

Puerto Rico

So, if you've read my "Rae's List" blog post, you know that visit Puerto Rico is on my list of things to do before - or by the time - I turn 35 (in, like, 3 years). I've wanted to go to PR since high school, when I saw a Puerto Rican cutie pie (don't remember his name or where I saw him, I just remember that he was fine). Then I actually saw pics and heard from others how gorgeous it is and instantly fell in love.

I'd made plans to go after graduating from college, 10 years ago, but money (or lack thereof) put a stop to it. Well, next year, I'll be graduating with my doctorate degree and I figured, what better way to celebrate becoming Dr. Rae Weakly, EdD, than taking a trip to Puerto Rico.

So, next year, during spring break, my sister, cousin, and I will be spending 10 glorious days in Puerto Rico. I have 5 months til we board that airplane. 5 months to save money for mucho spending dinero. 5 months to lose any weight I've put my mind to losing. 5 months to practice my espanol. 5 months!

Our trip is still in the planning stage, but, you can believe we'll be there come March 12th. My sis and I are determined to see this trip through. Nothing's going to stop us, not even a failing economy, unless, of course, God decides it ain't happening (and we've already prayed on that). I cannot wait. I think I deserve the trip. I have pics of PR plastered on my bedroom wall as inspiration and incentive to keep persevering. This doctorate thing is driving me insane, oh, but when I'm chilling on some beach, relaxing and having fun, the hard work will be worth it!

 

2008 Presidential Campaign

I missed the presidential debate last night - I chose to go to church to help my pastor celebrate his 21st preaching anniverary and receive some good preaching instead. I already know who I'm voting for, anyway. The other candidate is only showing me that I'm making a good choice. I'm disappointed in those who are choosing not to vote just because the candidate they want isn't a contender for the presidency. What does that say about our country?

Really, I'm ready for the election to come and go so we can vote our next pres in. I'm ready for a change. Am I the only one?

 

Rae's List

About 2 weeks ago, I finished reading a book called, Lilah's List, by Robyn Amos - a good (romance) book, by the way. The main character, Lilah, made a list of things she wanted to do by the time she was 30. She started the list at 16, forgot it after college, and came across it again 3 weeks before her 30th b-day. Lilah only had about half her list crossed off, so, she decided - or rather, her bff decided for her - to attempt to cross off what's left in 3 weeks.

This novel has inspired me to create my own list. Obviously, I can't do a "Before I turn 30" list because I've already past that monumental birthday. My next "big" b-day is 35. Actually, I was going to make it a "Before I turn 40" list, but my parents and sister are of the opinion that I need to change the age to 35. The fact that this only gives me 3 years to cross of my list items didn't matter to them. So, my list is "Rae's List of Things to do Before 35" or "Rae's List" for short. *NOTE: list is not in any order of importance.


  • Become Dr. Rae Weakly, EdD
  • Get counseling license
  • Go sky diving
  • Go para sailing
  • Go jet skiing
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Go bungee jumping
  • Go cliff diving
  • Stay in a hotel (or beach house) on the beach
  • Stay in a resort
  • Stay in an expensive hotel for at least one night without worrying about price
  • Learn Spanish - be able to hold conversation with native speakers & my sister
  • Learn a 3rd language (Portuguese, Italian, French, or Japanese)
  • Learn to play acoustic guitar
  • Shake hands with a celebrity
  • Become a published author
  • Fall in love
  • Get married
  • Have a child
  • Travel to other countries/cities/states - Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Brazil, Holy Land, St. Thomas Virgin Islands, Italy, Spain, Japan, Cuba, Columbia, Tahiti, Philippines, Virginia, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Phoenix, Jamaica
  • Become owner of THRIVING business, AYM Enrichment Center
  • Learn to belly dance
  • Learn to Salsa
  • Learn to dance Hip Hop
  • Get a professional makeover
  • Go to a spa
  • Get 3rd tattoo (I even know what and where, just not too fond of pain)
  • Ride a motorcycle
  • Learn kickboxing
  • Fly first class
  • Have at least one of my novels optioned for film
  • Wear shorts in public (I'm self-conscious about my legs...haven't worn shorts in about 12 years)
  • Wear a daring (yet tasteful) dress
  • Start research on what makes other countries' educational system work & what America can do to catch up
  • Comfortably wear a swimsuit without cover (no shirt over it...no beach pants to cover my legs, etc)
  • Participate in a walkathon
  • Run a mile
  • Go white-water rafting
  • Go skiing
  • Try a fruity alcoholic drink
  • Sing at a karaoke bar
  • Learn sign language
  • Become debt free
  • Buy first house
  • Buy my Escalade EXT
  • Approach an attractive guy (if only for conversation. Even @ 32 I clam up around cute guys)
  • Attend a Superbowl game
  • Go to an awards show
  • Get nose pierced
  • Climb the Statue of Liberty
  • Eat @ an expensive restaurant
  • Set up a foundation for kids (still thinking of what it'll be for)
  • Become a motivational speak/mentor for young girls/teen girls
  • Play basketball without dying
  • Buy my parents their dream house
  • Spend a whole day doing absolutely nothing (take a me-day)
  • Donate a substantial amount of $ for a worthy cause
  • Learn how to play piano
  • Plan a camp for girls and/or creative kids
  • Experience Las Vegas (or Atlantic City) gambling once
  • Research both sides of my family. We have a whole side of French and Native American (my great great grandparents on both sides)ancestors that I know nothing about. I also want to research our ancestors who were slaves.
  • Read the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation

So, that's it...so far, at least. Long list, right? Now that I think about it, it'll probably be more interesting, more exciting, to try to accomplish these things in 3 years as oppose to 8. I created this list on my 32nd birthday (last Sunday - September 28th). How fitting! Every once in a while, I'll update my list, crossing off things that I've accomplished. Let's see how many I can cross off in 3 years. Ready. Set. GO!

 

Surviving Hurricane Ike

So, this past weekend, I was busy trying to survive my first hurricane. I've been living in Houston most of my life (24 of my 32 years) and have never encountered a the force that is...the hurricane. The year before we moved here, Houston and Galveston were devastated by Hurricane Alicia (1983). Rita, a 'cane people thought for sure was going to hit Houston, only ended up hitting surrounding cities like Beaumont. Gustav, earlier this month, skipped H-town, also. We were affected by Allison (2001?), but that was a tropical storm. That leaves, Hurricane Ike.


I know I was a little nervous about what would happen. Friday, we continued to prepare and make sure everything was ready while watching the news. We watched as the waves crashed over Galveston's Seawall, built to protect Galveston. Seeing the water go over the seawall hours before Ike was to hit was enough to convince me that Ike was something serious. I'd heard that the 'cane was almost the size of Texas!

We started getting wind Friday evening. A little before midnight, the winds picked up. We fell asleep for about 2 hours, then woke up at about 2:30 a.m. The hurricane had hit, and boy, did we feel it. There's a pine tree in our front yard (in front of my bedroom window, by the way). As the winds blew, the pine tree bent here and there. We thought for sure that it wouldn't last; that it would snap and fall. I was a little nervous because if the tree were to fall backward, it would crash into my room and if it were to fall to the left, it would crash on our cars. But it's still standing, thank God. The electricity went out at about 1:00 a.m., so, we had flashlights and candles. My mom, dad, sis, and I just listened (and sometimes watched) as the hurricane did its job. No electricity = no air conditioner, so, we were hot throughout the day. At one point, when we were sure it was safe, we opened the windows to let the wind blow (this was after we were sure Ike was gone). Eventually, that wasn't enough. I feel for those who are still out of electricity. Ours came back on at about 4:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Some of our neighbors and family members are still without electricity.
When we rode around to see what Ike had done, we realized just how blessed we were. The only damage we'd gotten was part of the backyard fence being knocked down.

We went around the neighborhood and saw people with most of their fence damaged, shingles torn off the roof, trees (I'm not talking about small trees either) knocked down. One person had a damaged car because the basketball goal had fallen on it. We had lots of shingles in our yard (front and back), but the shingles did not belong to us. Our roof survived. The roof of the person who lived behind us had damage. This is a short vid I took while riding around the neighborhood.

video

I realize that my fam and I were blessed. We've only got a damaged fence. It could've been a whole lot worse. Our house could've ended up like so many of our neighbors' houses or, worse, like those who live in Galveston. We didn't lose anyone to Hurricane Ike and our house was not flooded. I am truly blessed. Those who were devastated by Hurricane Ike are in my prayers. Kinda makes me feel grateful for what I have and appreciate it more.

 

Rae's Random Thoughts: Part 2

A continuation of last post...


3. 7th Anniversary of 9/11: Really, this whole country was affected, but not everyone was directly affected (didn't lose loved ones in the planes, twin towers, or Pentagon). This year, I decided to just say a little prayer to God for the continued strength of those who lost loved ones. I opted not to watch the shows that replay the images of that day. In the past, every time I watched the shows, my heart hurt. Listening to the frantic calls of the ones who didn't make it...seeing the towers fall...looking at the big hole in the Pentagon...learning that the passengers in United 93 decided to do something about the hijackers...I just didn't want to do it this year (watch the shows). The images are already forever etched into my brains. To me, it was the day America learned that she was not untouchable. I will NEVER forget that day - couldn't, even if I wanted to.

4. 12th Anniversary of Tupac's Death: Tomorrow, September 13th, will mark the 12th anniversary of Tupac's death. I felt it (in my heart) when I'd heard that he was gone, like, is this some kind of sick joke? He's not really dead...is he? And now, some magazine has listed Tupac as the most overrated person in music (link: http://news.yahoo.com/story//nm/20080903/music_nm/overrated_dc)! I mean, come on, really? I have to admit, I'd gotten tired of the "Tupac's really alive" comments that circled around since his death, BUT, to say he's overrated, in IMHO, is just plain...dumb. Pac is one of the best. His death didn't stop that. Now, he's not my all time favorite rapper (Nope, Jay Z has that title), but he is in my top 5. Overrated? I don't think so!

And last, but certainly not least,

5. Hurricane Ike: So, we're preparing for Hurricane Ike right now. It hasn't even made landfall yet, but Galveston is already having flooding issues. The waves have started crashing over the sea wall, built to protect Galveston from hurricanes. They've predicted that, after all is said and done, Galveston will be under water. I'm in Houston, which means we won't get the storm surge, but we will get the wind and rain (and, in some areas, the flooding). Thankfully, I don't live in an area that has bad flooding. We're just concerned with the wind and electricity going out. The reporters are comparing this hurricane with Hurricane Alicia, which devastated both Houston and Galveston in 1983. This is going to be weird for me. I've never been in a hurricane - always had the threat, like H. Rita - but never been in one. Hurricane Alicia hit here a year before we moved to Houston and Hurricane Rita skipped our area (although one of our windows blew out) and hit the areas about an hour or more away. My family's preparing, though. Got the food, batteries, gas, etc. The 'cane isn't set to hit 'til early tomorrow morning, but the sky's getting a little darker, and the wind is picking up on what would normally be a scorching, sunny day. My prayer is for all of us, especially those who have homes in Galveston. And, can you believe that there are still some people who refuse to leave? I'm not talking about people who can't leave. I'm talking about those who can leave, but are refusing to. Everyone (Galveston's mayor, reporters) is saying how imperative it is that they leave (even to the point of saying it's life or death) but they won't. I can't understand that. It's already flooding and Ike hasn't even hit yet. Those waves crashing above the sea wall? About 15 ft. Did I say that Ike hasn't even hit yet?
Galveston Seawall on a good day...see how far the water is?
Galveston Seawall today...15ft waves crashing against the wall.

 

Rae's Random Thoughts: Part 1

Every week, my mind is flooded with all types of thoughts, questions, and "what ifs" about the happenings around the world. This week was no exception. So many topics - so many thoughts. See, that's why I love journaling/blogging. Instead of having these thoughts take residence in my brain, causing major overcrowding issues, I write/blog to get them out. Gotta make room for new thoughts, right? But I digress. This blog will be broken into 2 parts (I've had just that many thoughts). So, on to the thoughts that have cluttered my mind this week.

1. The Sarah Palin Phenomena: I don't know if it was a good or bad move on McCain's side to choose Mrs. Palin as his running mate. I guess both. Good because now that he has a female running mate, there will be women who'd vote for him simply to see a woman in office - and, really, what does that say about America...that people would vote for candidates just because they're a woman or black or because their fave celebs told them to? I've got my own mind and don't need anyone else telling me who to vote for. And I want a candidate I feel will pull America out of the hole that the current pres has put her into, so, although I'm glad to be living to see the day a minority gets in the White House, that's not my main focus. Anyway, the Palin choice could be bad for McCain because a) she's being investigated, and b) after putting his two cents in about Obama's lack of experience (And, really. Do any of the candidates have presidential experience?), McCain's gone on to select someone with less than Obama. Although I already know who I'm voting for, I'll be tuning into the debates. After all, America has more issues to deal with than just the war that shouldn't have been (understand that I support the troops - the men and women fighting and dying...I appreciate and admire them - I just don't support the war).

2. Promise Ring Debate: So, I missed the MTV Video Music Awards, but came across this article, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26622839/?GT1=43001 about promise rings. The Jonas Brothers wear these rings as a reminder of their vow to remain virgins til marraige. It seems the VMA host made a joke about them and Jordin Sparks proudly flashed her ring (along with some choice words). I didn't even know there was a debate going on about whether or not teens should do the "purity" ring thing. I do agree that sex education should include more than just "abstinence only". I've worked with kids for a long time. There are a lot of kids who, if told not to do something by an adult, they'd go on to do it anyway. Sex is no different. If we only told the kids to abstain from sex, sure you'd have those who'd follow that, but, there are others who'd go on to have sex anyway. So, sex education should not only include abstinence, but also topics like STDs, protection, pregnancy...everything that comes along with the decision to have sex. Really, I think parents should start talking to their kids before the schools start. My parents talked to us about it...both the biblical aspect (abstinence til marraige) and the "if you decided to have sex" aspect (protection, pregnancy, etc). I'm grateful to my parents for keeping it real with us. As far as the rings are concerned, my question is: What's wrong with teens choosing to wear rings as a symbol of their decision to abstain? I admire the Jonas Brothers (and any other teen for that matter) for publically saying that they're planning to remain virgins 'til marraige. While it's probably true that some of the kids who make that pledge won't keep it (we all make mistakes), I know for a fact that others do. Need proof? I made a promise to God and myself - when I was 15 years old that I would remain a virgin 'til my wedding night. I didn't get to do the ring thing, but it was a private conversation between me and God. I'm now 31 (about to be 32 in 2 weeks) and have managed to keep that vow. Is it easy? No, especially when you're surrounded by sex (TV, movies, commericals, celebs, etc). But, I made a promise - a vow - to God and, with His help, I plan to continue to keep it (even if I end up becoming the "40-year old virgin", lol).

Stay tuned for part 2 (coming later this afternoon)....

 

Book Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr


Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal

Before I go on, I must say that I haven't always been a fan of paranormal books. I think it's been within the past 3 years, I've fallen in love with the worlds and stories created by paranormal authors. With that being said, I'd heard a lot of whisperings about Melissa Marr's, Wicked Lovely, and wanted to see for myself if it was as good as people said it was. I was not disappointed!

First of all, being a person who loves books with aesthetically pleasing covers, I found Marr's cover to be awesome! The cover itself made me want to read on. Then, I started reading - and couldn't put the book down.

Keenan, the Summer King in a land of faeries, knows that Aislinn, a mortal, is special. He's dreamed of her and believes that she's the one...the one bound to become the Summer Queen...the one whose power, along with his, is strong enough to defeat the Winter Queen (Keenan's mother). If the Winter Queen isn't defeated, summer will perish and her cold power will take over both the fairy and human world. For centuries, Keenan has seduced countless number of girls into loving him, only to find that they aren't the one. The girls are then banished into a cold captivity until another girl is seduced by Keenan. Donia is the most recent victim, forced to live a cold existence, still loving Keenan, but unable to have him.

Aislinn is different from the other girls, for she's inherited the gift (if you can call it that) of being able to see the faeries who freely walk our human world (invisible to humans). Her grandmother keeps Aislinn on a short leash because of the dangers that come along with this special sight. Tired, and at times, afraid, she seeks refuge in the home of her best friend and love interest, Seth. His converted train car, made of iron, protects Aislinn from the faeries who've begun stalking her (iron harms faeries). There's a love triangle between Keenan, Aislinn, and Seth. Keenan is determined to have Aislinn, despite the fact that it's obvious something's going on between her and Seth. This makes Keenan out to be the bad guy, but really, he's just trying to save his fey from the Winter Queen's cold rule. Will the Winter Queen be defeated? Will Donia ever be freed from her captivity? Is Aislinn going to end up with Keenan or Seth? Is Aislinn really the one destined to be the Summer Queen, or is she just like the other girls? So many questions and one would have to read the book in order to find the answers.

Like I said, I absolutely loved this book and couldn't put it down. The book not only had me rooting for Keenan in his quest to defeat his mother, but also rooting for Aislinn's victory in discovering herself as well as her relationship with Seth. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read, especially if you're an avid paranormal fan. I cannot read Melissa Marr's next book, Ink Exchange.

Rating: 4/5

 

In Loving Memory of...

Sunday, August 25, 2001. I'm at church, just finishing up the Sunday school lesson with my 1st graders. I hear a knock at the door. Mama's standing outside the room. "Did you hear?" She asks. I shake my head. "Hear what?" Then, she drops the bomb. "The singer, Aaliyah, died in a plane crash." I'll never forget that day. It literally hurt inside. No, not Aaliyah. It's got to be a mistake. And yet, it wasn't. Later that day, I sat, glued to the TV while reporters confirmed what my mom had already told me. Aaliyah, one of my all time favorite performers, was gone.

Aaliyah's death is one of the few celeb deaths that really affected me. I didn't go throught anything major (depression...stuff like that), but I did cry. I did feel that her death has left a void in music. Beautiful (inside and out), talented, gorgeous voice...Aaliyah was awesome. I'd always anticipated her videos to see her latest dance moves. Her music seriously had me jammin. *sigh*

It's been 7 years since her death and I still miss her. I wonder what things would be like if she were still alive? She would've been 29 this year. I know we'd still be enjoying more number hits and watching her blossom as an actress. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be. It was time for her to go home. I'm thankful God allowed her to share her music with the world. There will never be another Aaliyah (I love Ciara, but never understood why people compared her to Aaliyah...2 totally different artists).

Over the last few years (2000 - 2008), we've lost a few good ones...people who made an impact, be it big or small, in the entertainment business. Have you lost loved ones during this time. I've posted pics and names of a few of them. I'm sure I've missed others...you can add to the list. Enjoy my Aaliyah selections while browsing.


 

Anti-Saggiing Laws

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that the sagging pants trend is not cute...at least to me it isn't. What's so "hot" about a male walking in public with his underwear showing?

Boxers, tighty whities, drawers - whatever you call it - were meant to be worn under the clothes...invisible to the public. Clearly, that's why they're called underwear. Sagging pants don't work for the infamous (and steroetypical) plumber, and it doesn't work for anyone else - regardless of race and gender. Especially since it originated in the prisons...sagging pants was a way to show homosexuality.

Now, with that being said, I will also admit that I'm against the anti-sagging laws. Cities all across the country are working to make this trend against the law. What? I agree it's sloppy and sometimes disrespectful (I mean, come on, you're in a public place with your pants around your knees), but, against the law? The fines, I get - I seriously do not like the sagging pants trend - but did you know in some cities, offenders could get up to 6 months in jail? 6 months in jail?!?! It really isn't that serious.

In my opinion, if these law makers are going to dictate what we wear (and, that is kind of what they're doing), then don't just target one group of people. What about the women who wear skirts and dresses so short that their underwear shows? Or the celebs who wear revealing dresses? Or, how about people who wear clothes so tight, you can see the outline of their private area? Ooh, I have an idea, why don't we make it against the law to wear all black (unless at a funeral) because it's downright depressing for others to look at (hope you didn't miss my sarcasm here).

 

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasure: something one considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it (Wikipedia).

The other day, while enjoying an episode of Suite Life of Zack and Cody, I got to thinking about things that I enjoy a little more than I really should...my guilty pleasures. Truthfully, I don't feel guilty for enjoying these things (well, except for one - more on that later). My attitude is: "Yeah, I like it. So what!" Or in Spanish, it's "Y que" (And what). It's just that people may look at me funny for liking this stuff (again, I say, "y que"). So, here's my list:

1. Disney Channel: I'm seriously addicted to Disney. You can always find me enjoying Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Suite Life, etc. And let's not even talk about the fact that I know most of the words to the theme songs.

2. I Kissed a Girl: This song by Kate Perry, is seriously addictive. Although I'm not into the girl-on-girl thing, I find myself singing along. The track is hot, what can I say?

3. Jonas Brothers/Miley Cyrus: My taste in music varies. It just depends on what I'm in the mood for. Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, Latin, Country...the list goes on. Added to my playlist is Burnin' Up by Jonas Brothers and 7 Things by Miley Cyrus. I don't go screaming like a crazed fanatic when I see or hear them (which would be oddly disturbing since I'm 32 and they're, like, 15-21). I just like their music.

4. Erotic Novels: So, this is the one that I sometimes feel guilty for liking. I mean, I'm a "good girl" and a "good girl" shouldn't be reading that kind of filth, right? *rolls eyes* Whatever. While erotic novels are not my fave type of books to read, I do enjoy reading them...as long as they're tasteful (there are some raunchy ones out there). I love Zane's novels.

5. Phone Games: I'm totally addicted to playing the games on my phone. I play when I wake up and before I go to bed...not to mention the bagillion (I know - not a word) of times I play in between. It's sort of calming for me - just like coloring. Playing my games soothe me. Don't ask why.

6. Fragrances: You may wonder how can fragrances be a guilty pleasure. Believe me, when you're as obsessed with it as I am, it becomes one of those pleasures. I'm not one who has just one fragrance. Nope. My perfume matches my mood. I can seriously do some damage to my finances if I go shopping for perfume. And if I come across a man who smells good, my nose is automatically drawn to him. I remember a time when I had to keep myself from laying my head on the shoulder of a man sitting next to me in church. I couldn't even concentrates because he smelled sooooo good (and looked good too).

7. Books: Why a guilty pleasure? I'm obsessed with books. I LOVE to read. Seriously, I could spend a whole day reading and finish 5+ books before I go to bed. Wanna know something crazy? I have more than 50 books on my shelf that I've yet to read. Some of them I bought last summer, but ended up putting them on the back burner because I checked other books out at the library and read the library books first. And I still have a "must read" list waiting for me.

8. Tinkerbell: Yeah, so I know I'm a little too old to be into Tinkerbell. I have pens & bags...was just eyeing cute Tinkerbell checks, too (if I had a checking account, I'd already have the checks).

9. Stationary: Another obsession. I can't go through the school supply section at stores without getting the urge to buy spiral notebooks, pens, crayons, markers, mechanical pencils, or pencil bags. Even now, I have a box of unused spirals (decorative) that I refuse to give away. And the fam knows to stay away from Rae's pens and pencils. Sometimes, I get a pen/pencil that matches my spiral. Did I mention that I'm slightly OCD? Good thing I'm not the only one obsessed with stationary. My dad, mom, and sis are too.

10. Bags: Yep, you guessed it - yet another obsession. Just like stationary. Backpacks, messenger bags, bags with wheels, totes. If the design attracts me, I want it.

Sadly, there are more, but I don't want to overwhelm y'all. Maybe another post. Do I sound crazy? Maybe. Do I care. Not really. So, what are your guilty pleasures?

 

Mexico: July 22nd - July 29th

Hi. I'm Rae from Barbados...at least that's who I was when we visited Morelia (another beautiful Mexican city).

They believed me. I even had the "Rihanna" accent down. The weird thing is they think my sis and I (especially my sis) look like Rihanna. I think it's because we're all black with light eyes. Clearly we look nothing like her (not that we're not beautiful...cause we are).

Meechie  Rae @ the Lucha Libre

I went to my first Lucha Libre, which is kinda like wrestling. If you've seen Nacho Libre with Jack Black, then you know what I'm talking about. I had more fun than I thought I'd have. The funny thing was seeing how free everyone was with cheering. I mean, even the kids were into it - a few even flicked the wrestlers off with parents sitting next to them. One wrestler, La Sombra, looked mighty nice - pretty brown skin, nice, muscular body (not too muscular), firm butt...the only thing is he had on a mask. We couldn't see his face. *sigh* Alas, I'll always wonder if his face looks as good as the rest of him. Anyway, here are pics:

So, the Saturday before I left, we went to Taxco (yet another beautiful Mexican city).

Mexican Landscape (Taxco)

This place is known for selling real silver for cheap (I love silver). They have vendors all down the streets, selling things like jewelry, clothes, sunglasses, etc. It's very tight - with people bumping into each other...the vendor booths were very close to each other. Guess what happened to me! I was robbed! Isn't that awesome (not really, but, whatever). Get this, the woman who robbed me was old...I'm talking bent over and wrinkles...like someone's sweet abuelita. I had on a small backpack that she'd managed to slit a hole in. My sis caught her with her hand in my bag. The good thing is, she didn't get away with anything important. She only got my brush and camera bag - without my camera - and my headphones. It's quite comical, really.

So, I'd say my trip to Mexico was a success. I had fun and got much needed rest. I even know where I'd buy a place for vacation. It's located in a beautiful condo complex...a 3-bedroom condo for only $500 (American dollars) a month. My sis and I might go half on a condo and lease to family and friends interested in vacationing in Mexico. Can you say, investment? Everyone loved their souvenirs, especially my mom. We bought her a beautiful eagle statue for her birthday (7/31).

Eagle statue we gave my mother.

So, there you have it. My 5 week vacation to the beautiful country of Mexico. I'm definitely going back - next time I'll be speaking more espanol. My next big trip? Puerto Rico...Spring Break '09 (March 14th - March 21st). I so cannot wait!