This week's cutie is Steven Lopez, an Olympic medalist in Taekwondo from Sugar Land, Texas. He and his three siblings are on the US National team for Taekwondo. He, along with two of his siblings, have participated in the Olympics and have won world championship titles. I love his dimpled smile!
Word(s) to describe: Cute!
along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed that
during the low periods of my life, when I was
suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,"You promised me
Lord, that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods
of my life there have only been
one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."
Yesterday was Labor Day for you all in the US. Unfortunately, they don't celebrate it here in the UAE. So, yeah. I may be a tad bit jealous. Haha!
I'm back after an awesome summer vacation and I think I did pretty good choosing this week's cutie, if I say so myself. What do you think?
T.J. Holmes is a former CNN anchor and correspondent. In 2011, he moved from CNN to BET. Four nights a week, you can enjoy his gorgeousness...uh, I mean his deep commentary on social issues African Americans face today.
Word to Describe: GORGEOUS!
Well, I did it.
I survived my first year teaching abroad. It was a challenging year, but through God's strength, I made it. The school year is finally over.
The students' last day of school was officially June 21st, though many stopped coming before then. Unfortunately for teachers, the last day was July 12th. Why the powers that be chose to have that 3-week gap, I don't know, but it was excruciating. At least for me. Many teachers spent the last three weeks doing absolutely nothing. Well except for working out (at school), eating, reading, or chillaxing.
Our last few weeks were spent in PDs (professional developments), preparing for the next school year, blah, blah, blah. To be honest, I mentally checked out sometime around week one. I was done working. My body was there, but my mind had already gone on vacation. It was a struggle to get up in the mornings and go to work, but nevertheless, we did. And we're finished. Thank you, JESUS! I'm seriously contemplating getting a shirt that says, "I survived teaching in Abu Dhabi." I have that Destiny's Child song in my head. "I'm a survivor. I'm not gon give up. I'm not gon stop. I'm gon work harder." Describes this year perfectly.
My brain rejects anything school-like, so enough about school.
My vacation will consist of a trip to Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket) Thailand, home (the US), and Puerto Rico. I know, awesome, right???
Tomorrow morning, my friends and I leave for Phuket for a 6-day/5-night vacation. I so can NOT wait. There is fun - and relaxation - to be had. Next week, I leave for home. I can't wait to see my family! Oh, how I miss them so. Then, it's off to San Juan, Puerto Rico with the sis for a 7-day/6-night vacation. Seven days may not be enough, I know but we'll make the best out of the time we have. I can't wait to see the gorgeous men...uh, I mean the gorgeous beaches of Puerto Rico. Heehee. I spend the rest of my vacation back in Houston with the fam before I come back to Abu Dhabi for another great year of teaching.
I'm thinking this summer may turn out to be the best one yet.
So a few weeks ago, I took horseback riding lessons for the first time. I loved it so much, I plan to continue when I get back from vacation. Anyway, because I'm vertically challenged - aka short - I had to use a chair to get on the horse. On the first day of lessons, I got on with no problems. I figured the second day would be the same. Mafi mushkela ("No problem" in Arabic), right? WRONG.
The chair we used was a cheap, plastic chair. Genius that I am, I stood in the middle of the chair instead of the sides, like smart, normal people would've done. I hopped once, twice...then the 3rd time, BAM! My foot went thru the chair and I nearly busted my butt. Embarrassing to say the least. The nasty bruise I got is just now going away. It was all in fun, tho. My friend caught it on video. I know, lucky me right?
Enjoy laughing at my expense. It was quite hilarious, I must admit.
The weekend before last, I attended the Pitbull concert in Dubai. Besides the fact that he was an hour and a half late, his performance was amazing. He and his voice are even sexier in person! Enough to make him this week's cutie pie.
Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull, is a Cuban-American rapper born in Miami, Florida. He came on to the scene in 2004. His hits include "Culo" (with Lil Jon), "Hit Tha Floor" (with Twista), "The Anthem", "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)", "Hotel Room Service", "Bon Bon", and "Give Me Everything" to name a few. He also worked with artists on hits like "DJ Got Us Falling In Love" (Usher), "I Like It" (Enrique Iglesias), and "On The Floor" (Jennifer Lopez). His song, "Back In Time", is featured on the Men In Black 3 soundtrack. One thing Pitbull is known for is his sexy voice with the Spanish accent. *swoon*
Word(s) To Describe: Guapo. Gorgeous. Yummy. Suave.
|This is one of my pics from his concert.|
|Pitbull at 17. Pic courtesy of GQ.com|
Since the end of our school year is very near here in Abu Dhabi, I'm posting inspirational quotes for teachers.
The world seldom notices who teachers are; but civilization depends on what they do. Lindsay J. Stiles
We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how. Anonymous
There is no way to judge the worth of a teacher except in the lives of those he has taught. Anonymous
Quality education is not just providing information, it is developing wiser minds. E. J. Oliver
Theories and goals of education don't matter a whit if you don't consider your students to be human beings. Lou Ann Walker
One good teacher in a lifetime may sometimes change a delinquent into a solid citizen. Phillip Wylie
Never give up on a child. Patricia Willis
The best teacher of children is one who is essentially childlike. H. L. Mencken
Everyone who remembers his own educational experience remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the kingpin of the educational situation. He makes or breaks programs. Sidney Hook
I touch the future. I teach. Christa McAulliffe
In celebration of the release of Magic Mike on June 29th, this week's Man Monday features the cutie pie cast. Magic Mike is about a stripper - stage name, Magic Mike - who seeks to leave his stripping days behind. The ever so gorgeous, Channing Tatum, plays the movie's lead character. With cutie pies like Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike is bound to be quite...delightful. Did I mention my crush, Adam Rodriguez is also in it as a stripper? YUM.
After a month-long break, I'm baaaack! Did you miss me, mis amores? Yes, yes. I know you did. I know you cried everyday, missing my charm...my voice...my wit.
Hey a girl can dream, right?
Anyway, the month of June will be my challenges month. I'm challenging myself in three areas: physical, writing, and reading.
Physical: I've been inspired by a close friend of the family. Last month, she challenged herself (and those who wanted to participate) to do 5,000 crunches in one month. Everyday, she did 167 crunches. This month, she's doing 5,000 squats. Since I missed last month's challenge, I'm doing both crunches and squats this month. Everyday, 167 crunches and 167 squats. Lord, help me! My body is already sore. Oh, but when I see the results, it'll all be worth it. And to celebrate my success, I'll be treating myself to the Pitbull concert in Dubai on the 29th. Who am I kidding? I'm going to see Pitbull whether I'm successful or not. But seriously. Failure is not an option. I will be successful. And getting to see Pitbull will just be the icing on my low-fat cake. Hehe!
Writing: I've gotten behind on my writing again. So, for this month, I plan to dedicate an hour everyday to my novel. Right now, I'm back to the planning stages. The actual writing will start sometime this week. I have to be done with this novel before the year ends. I'm talking about finished with draft #1, sent in to a professional editor, and back to draft #2 or 3 by the end of this year. I can do it. There's no doubt in my mind. Especially since my first year as a teacher in Abu Dhabi is practically over. Things will be a bit easier for me. Prayerfully.
Reading: I've gotten behind in my reading, also. Shocking, right? My family would think so since I'm such a book nerd. But alas, tis true. I've only picked up books (or my Nook) sporadically these last few weeks. Soooo, I will catch up on my reading. Ten books. That's how many books I will complete by the end of this month. More if I can swing it. Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I can read waaaaay more than that in one month. If the book is good enough, I can finish it in one reading. But this whole year, I've been too drained (physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally) to even think of reading. Or writing. Or anything fun.
So, there you have it. My personal challenges. Of course, cos I know you all are so interested in my life (heehee) I will keep you updated.
Yes, I love you too.
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Christian
Release: January, 2012
Description: The last thing Addy Davidson wants is to be on a reality TV show where the prize is a prom date with the President's son.
She's focused on her schoolwork so she can get a scholarship to an Ivy League college, uncomfortable in the spotlight, never been on a date, and didn't even audition for it.
But she got selected anyway.
So she does her best to get eliminated on the very first show. Right before she realizes that the President's son is possibly the most attractive guy she has ever seen in person, surprisingly nice, and seemingly unimpressed by the 99 other girls who are throwing themselves at him.
Addy's totally out of her comfort zone but that may be right where God can show her all that she was meant to be.
Genre: Young Adult, Christian, Fiction
Release: January, 2012
Description: Sixteen-year-old Addison Blakely has tireless played the role of PK—preacher’s kid—her entire life. But after Wes Keegan revs his motorcycle into town and into her heart, Addison begins to wonder how much of her faith is her own and how much has been handed to her. She isn’t so sure she wants to be the good girl anymore. Join Addison Blakely as she attempts to separate love from lust, facts from faith, and keep her head above water in her murky, fishbowl existence.
Review: As a PK (preacher's kid) myself, I so had to read this book. I'm glad I did as I enjoyed it.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- The good girl/bad boy theme has been done quite a bit. It works for this novel, but it would've been nice if Ms. St. Amant added her own twist to it.
- The book had a Christian theme to it, but it wasn't preachy at all. All teens, whether Christian or not, could read it without feeling like the author is trying to force religion on them.
- Teens, especially PKs, can relate to Addison. She's a preacher's kid, but she's not perfect. She struggles with her faith and how she should act and why she should act that way. Life is not all perfect for her.
- Addison's voice adds humor to the novel.
- I love her new best friend, Marta!
Author: Marley Gibson
Genre: Romance, Fiction
Release: December, 2011
Description: For Vanessa Virtue, all work and no play leads straight to temptation, one that’s too hot to touch...or resist.
A well-deserved work promotion opens up a thrilling world that Vanessa could only long for until now: exotic travel, a corporate credit card, and the opportunity to ogle hunk-and-a-half Kyle Nettles. Unfortunately, their employer has a strict “no dating within the company” policy. So instead of succumbing to her feelings, Vanessa hones her flirtations on the competition: a rock star sales exec who works for their rival company.
Rory Ellery has dreamy blue eyes and a kiss that threatens to obliterate Vanessa's taboo crush on Kyle...and just might provide a great chance for spying on the competition. That is, unless Rory is actually spying on her. When Vanessa goes digging for dirt with Rory, what she uncovers is scandal—and risks losing her job completely. To make things right with her employer, she’ll have to enlist Kyle’s help. But to make things right with her soul, is she willing to risk her job and her security in order to open her heart to Kyle.
Review: Marley Gibson is a published YA author. This is her first adult romance novel. The cover and the fact that it was Marley Gibson attracted me at first. Though it wasn't spectacular, I did enjoy this novel.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- Some of the characters, like Vanessa, seemed a little younger than they were in the novel.
- I sometimes wanted to shake Vanessa. Her rules were fine, but at times her insistence on following them was a bit much. Also, she was so blind to the obvious.
- Vanessa's character was endearing and quirky, despite sometimes causing you to want to shake her.
- After a slow start, the book held y attention. I wanted to know what would happen next. Will Kyle and Vanessa finally stop fighting the attraction? Will Vanessa through the rules out the window? Does Rory really like Vanessa or does he have an ulterior motive?
- The secondary characters helped make the book interesting.
Genre: Fiction, YA, Mystery
Description: Steven Bishop is extraordinarily ordinary. He goes to school. He rides his motorcycle. He stutters. His best friend is a former Colombian cartel hit man turned cook/construction worker. You know, ordinary. All that changes the day Becky Moore walks into his classroom. Becky is dazzling, enigmatic.
One day Steven gives Becky a ride home on his motorcycle. There, they discover a severed arm, one of the fingers of which still has an unusual ring attached: a circle, in the middle of which is a heart, at the center of which is a bold number 37. While comforting Becky, Steven discovers a tattoo at the base of her neck: it is the same symbol. And so begins a thrilling descent into a world of crime and murder, a ride wilder than any Steven has taken before.
Review: The blurb and cover are what attracted me to the book. Sounded interesting. It turned out to be ok...not terrible, but not awesome. It was just ok.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- It started out a little slow. The action didn't pick up until after Steven and Becky discovered the severed arm.
- Quite irritating at times. Sometimes, I wanted to shake some sense into Steven. And some scenes left me saying, "Seriously?"
- It was short and sweet, perfect for teens (& even adults) with short attention spans.
- After Steven and Becky discovered the severed arm, the novel became fast-paced and interesting.
- I like Steven's support system. His dad, a cop, isn't a big part of the novel. Steven has Carlos, a Colombian ex drug enforcer turned coworker/mentor, and Hank, owner of a small diner. Hank gives Steven valuable advise while Carlos helps Steven when he tries to take down the gang, Thirty-Seven.
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Release: October, 2011
Source: Netgalley Rating: 4/5
Description: Join the breakneck chase through Chicago for a murderous maniac. As the victims begin piling up, detective Keren Collins’s spiritual discernment is on high alert. Will she capture the killer before another body floats to the surface? Ex-cop, now mission pastor Paul Morris has seen his share of tragedy, but nothing prepared him to be a murderer’s messenger boy. Will his old ruthless cop personality take over, leading him to the brink of self-destruction? Can Keren and Paul catch the killer before the corpse count reaches a perfect ten?
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- The book started off a bit slow. I kept reading because the book sounded interesting and I wanted to know where Ms. Nealy was going to go with it. I'm glad I didn't stop reading.
- I loved the suspense. It kept me wanting to know what would happen next. What will the killer do to show the next plague? Who will be the next victim? And when I found that the killer had been close, I wanted to know who it was.
- Keren and Paul's relationship. There was a bit of romance there, but it wasn't a major part. I like the banter they had. Keren develops feelings, but she's hesitant, not because he's now a preacher, but because of a past incident that he doesn't even remember.
- I liked that Paul still struggled. In the past, his anger was definitely an issue. In his cop days, he was not a likeable man. But, after losing his wife and daughter (first by divorce, then by death) he changed, became a Christian and preacher. He still struggles with his anger, especially during this ordeal. He's not perfect, but he's trying to live right.
Genre: Mystery, Romantic Suspense
Release: September, 2011
Description: Her "father's" deathbed confession reveals that Holly's real father was almost certainly the notorious serial killer known as "The Hunter," and that her mother gave Holly up to save her life. But The Hunter was never caught--and Holly's mother simply "vanished."
In search of her past, Holly leaves both her home and Bud Tate, the handsome ranch foreman she's afraid to love, horrified by the knowledge that the blood of a depraved killer might run through her veins. Haunted, driven, she searches for The Hunter and hopes her mother was wrong.
But her search leads to a terrible truth no one could have imagined, and even Bud's determination to follow and protect the woman he loves may not be enough to save Holly from the terrors of a past become present.
Review: Blood Trails is actually the third, and final, book in Sharon Sala's The Searchers series. The series features three sisters - Maria, Savannah, and Holly - who after their father dies, find out that they really aren't blood related and the man who raised them wasn't their father. He leaves each of them a journal with info that can lead them to their true identity. Each book features a sister and her journey for the truth. Blood Stains features Maria, Blood Ties features Savannah, and Blood Trails features Holly.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- It was slow at times in the novel.
- Although overall interesting, it was pretty predictable.
- Besides the slow parts of the novel, it held my interest throughout most of the novel.
- The relationship between Holly and Bud was sweet. Bud started out as a family friend, but feelings grew between him and Holly. And I like how protective he was of her.
- I like Holly's strength. She found out some frightening things about her past, but it didn't stop her from looking for justice.
- I like that this book can stand on its own. I haven't read the other two books, but it didn't cause me to be lost while reading Blood Trails.
First of all, I'd like to say Happy Mommy's Day to all moms! Hope you all enjoy your day. I wish I were in the US to celebrate this day with my mom, but I'm here in Abu Dhabi, thousands of miles away. That's ok. I was able to text her. She knows that I love her. And I got to spoil her a bit about 5 weeks ago when she came to visit me.
So, I've been working on losing weight and getting in shape since May, 2011. This weight loss journey is more for health reasons than for looks (like I've said before, I love my curves). I have high blood pressure and I HATE taking meds. I'm trying to be done with it. Plus, my family has a history of other sicknesses like diabetes, stroke, etc. I'm not even trying to deal with that. And I just long to be in shape; to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling like I'm going to die. I'd like to live to see the kids in my family as well as my future kids grow up. So, yeah. Losing weight is imperative.
I'd started losing weight. Got excited, then got stuck. I've been in the same range since February (250 - 255lbs). My weight's been going up, down, or the same. GRR! It's been frustrating to say the least. To make matters worse, I haven't been under 250lbs since....forever. Ok, not forever, but it sure feels like it. Since 2010. I kept thinking if I can get out this range, I'd be good. I'm glad to say that after two years, I'm FINALLY out of the range. WOOHOO! I'm at 249lbs (four pounds since last month's weigh in).
I've lost a total of 21 pounds so far. Would I like to be further along in my weight loss journey? Yes. I mean, it's been almost a year. But, am I happy with the 21 pounds so far? Yes. It could be worse. I could still be the same weight from last May. Or I could still be stuck. But I'm not, so I'm happy. I'm just a bit closer to my goal weight. Operation Fit and Fine/Operation Goodbye High Blood Pressure is in FULL effect!
21 pounds down...79 pounds to go!
Genre: YA; Science Fiction; Dystopian
Release: September, 2011
Description: Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. GENs are gestated in a tank and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.
When Kayla is Assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds secrets and surprises; not least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul's great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan to save the disappearing children. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, revealing secrets no one is ready to face.
- I would've liked a little more description about the world around them. Loka is the name of the planet humans inhabited after Earth was destroyed. I would've like more description as to what Loka looked like. She had a few descriptions, but not enough, in my humble opinion.
- The descriptions Ms. Sandler do have are awesome. I can picture the characters & I can see what's happening.
- The complexity of the novel...she created an interesting world beyond our normal world. She addresses prejudices in a unique way. GENs (Genetically Engineered Non-Humans), who were not born the natural way, but through test-tubes, are on the lowest level and treated as such. Lowborns are born from mothers, but they are not high status. Still they have more rights than GENs. High Status Trueborns are at the top.
- I loved the characters from Kayla and Mishalla, to their love interests, Devak and Eoghan. Kayla and Mishalla are such strong female main characters. They are GENs, sometimes treated like lower than dirt, but it doesn't break them or cause them to become whiny. I found myself rooting for them throughout the whole novel.
- I loved the romance between Kayla/Devak & Mishalla/Eoghan. Devak is a trueborn while Eoghan is a lowborn. Both boys are higher than Kayla and Mishalla, but they fall for them anyway. I liked that the romance didn't start right away. Both Kayla and Mishalla had feelings for their prospective love interests, but they didn't act on it cos of the statuses. They were hesitant, even when the guys showed interest.
- There were points in the novel that had edge-of-your-seat action.
- The ending left it open for a sequel.
Release: August, 2011
Description:"There's only one thing tougher than getting in to Premiere High: Staying in..."
- The characters didn't seem to struggle like I thought they would in a top performing arts school. They struggled a little, but not enough.
- I did not like Drew as a love interest for Mari. He was a player, always looking at other girls and using them for his benefits. I think she deserved better.
- Mari as a character was just ok. I didn't hate her, but I didn't find myself impressed with her.
- Mari's old best friend, who was jealous of Mari & her new friends, started hanging out with an adversary of Mari's. She only comes back to Mari when the girl gets on her nerves and Mari accepts her with no problem.
WHAT I DID LIKE
- I love that it's about dancing.
- I love that it features minorities. And that these kids are in an exclusive school, but aren't rich, preppy kids.
- Although I wasn't crazy about Drew, I liked that he wasn't stereotypical black youth when it comes to sports. He's a star of the basketball team, but he chooses acting over basketball.
- It's geared towards reluctant readers. I'm all about getting teens to read.