Monday, February 27, 2006

car wash

After spending about 15 minutes talking my dad through how you send an email with an attachment, I received the early 1980s newspaper clipping pictured above. The thing I find pretty cool is that just last week I went to visit my dad for his birthday and while I was there we washed my car. And this time he was on hose duty while I scrubbed my car clean. Another good thing is that my hair is no longer shaped like a bowl.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

weekend revelations

Here are some things that either 1.) became clear to me or 2.) were confirmed for me over the weekend:

1.) I am seriously lacking skills in the balance department. I was playing a game at youth group on Sunday night with various people where you stand face to face looking at another person and you try to knock each other over just by pushing the palms of your hands against the palms of your opponent's hands. No matter who I played against, I pretty much lost my balance after the first attack. I finally began to hold my own against Travis, until he miscalculated a move and stuck a thumb in each of my eyeballs.

2.) I have a lot of emotional ties to restaurants. On my way home from youth group I made a stop at the drive-thru at Long John Silver's. I have always been a fan of their chicken planks (and consequently, their grease) since the days of going there with my mom. So every now and then I swing by for the nostalgic feel of it. Other places and the people they make me think of: Chick-fil-A (my buddy Danny, the LIFE Group, mine and Anna's realization that food in Heaven would be even better than their original chicken sandwich), Bubbalou's (good times with ULife people), Burger King (sharing chicken sandwiches with my dad when I was little), and Starbucks at Barnes & Noble (Carla and I meet there to catch up when I'm in Tampa).

3.) I miss Cam. He was one of my campers during my first session ever at Circle F. I was at the ranch this past weekend with a church from Windermere, which is where Cam lives, and I found myself hoping he would show up with that church because 1.) it would mean he's hearing the Gospel and 2.) I'd get to see him. Cam and I did not get along at all when we first met. I vividly remember him telling me I was no fun and I thought this kid was going to be a thorn in my side for the rest of that 3 week session. But at some point, things changed and we clicked. I don't remember what the turning point was, but I guess he realized that my being overbearing was really me just caring about them. After that rocky start, seeing Cam walk into the Round Up on opening days became something I anticipated greatly. We got to hang out at camp for 3 additional summers and there were some times when we did not see eye-to-eye, but he has always been one of my favorite campers and one of the ones that made camp worth it for me. I don't really hear from him, but I think he's 16 or 17 and a junior in high school now. The first picture below is from 1999. I'm on the left, he's in the middle and my co-counselor C.J. is on the right.
This picture is from his last summer at camp in 2003. He's on the left and the other guy is Jordan, who was also one of my first campers. Cam and Jordan were inseparable at camp.
4.) I like Sunday afternoon naps a lot.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

my 4 things

ande tagged me on this, so here it is:

4 jobs you have had in your life:

1.) After school program counselor - During my junior year at UCF I worked at this place called Kids R Kids from 3-7 every weekday. I didn't think I was going to last when I first got the job, but I ended up loving it and was sad to leave at the end of the school year.

2.) Indoor advertising intern - This was a paid internship I had shortly after I declared Ad/PR to be my major. I got 100 bucks a week for driving all over Orlando and maintaining the ads that my boss had placed in bathrooms at various restaurants and gyms. I never realized how disgusting of a job it was until I had some time away from it.

3.) Helper person for a high school guidance counselor - Somehow I agreed to help my high school's college counselor move all her stuff from her old home to her new one. What started out as a week-long project of packing and moving boxes ended up being a job that lasted almost the entire summer. I even dug up this lady's plants and replanted them at her new place. I'm such a sucker.

4.) Camp counselor at Circle F Dude Ranch - I got this job 3 weeks before their camp season started and it has since turned into a full-time job. I always get a kick out of running into people I was a counselor with and telling them I'm still at Circle F.

4 goals you've set for this year:

1.) increase my good cholesterol level
2.) pray regularly
3.) not eat out as much
4.) not eat as many cookies (I'm failing miserably at this one)

4 movies you could watch over and over:

1.) Adventures in Babysitting - I remember begging my dad to take me to this movie when I was 6 or 7. I know it's absolutely ridiculous, but it never gets old and I love it more each time I see it. "I've got the babysitting blues!"
2.) Billy Elliot - Jamie Bell is awesome. I bought this movie on DVD after only seeing the preview.
3.) While You Were Sleeping - Oh, Sandy B.
4.) Jerry Maguire - It rocks.

4 places you have lived:

1.) Tampa, FL - my hometown
2.) Orlando, FL - where I went to college and currently live
3.) Dayton, OH - lived here for 2 months with family while my mom was getting treatment for breast cancer
4.) Lake Wales, FL - my home away from home during the summer and on most weekends

4 TV shows you love to watch:

1.) Alias - JJ Abrams scores
2.) Lost - JJ Abrams scores again
3.) Scrubs - so over the top you've gotta love it
4.) 24 - so addictive

4 places you have been on vacation:

1.) Guatemala - This is where my dad is originally from. I've lost count how many times I've been, but each visit is better than the last.
2.) Johnstown, PA - I used to spend my summer vacations here with my cousins going to lots of theme parks, making lots of embarrassing home videos and playing even more Super Mario Kart.
3.) Nashville, TN - I went there 2 times within a year: once for my cousin Jeremy's wedding and the 2nd time to hang out with him, his new wife Kierstin and their dog and cat. Both times rocked. Too many good memories to list, many involving good food, but seeing Amy G. at the Pancake Pantry ranks pretty high.
4.) Baltimore, MD/Washington, DC - I visited DC for the first time last August. It was a pit stop on my way to my cousin Jon's wedding in MD. You can always count on a good time whenever any of my cousins are involved.

4 websites you visit daily:

1.) Entertainment Weekly - lots of movie and TV news
2.) All my road before me... - Jeremy's blog
3.) a net for catching days... - Kierstin's blog (this cousin-in-law of mine is such a great story-teller)
4.) Holding Out for Grace - great thoughts from my friend Ande

4 albums I am listening to right now:

1.) any Lifehouse cd
2.) Tenth Avenue North - Speaking of Silence
3.) U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind
4.) The Message: Psalms

4 people I'm tagging to do this, should you choose to accept this mission:

1.) Josh
2.) Jeremy
3.) Kierstin
4.) you, the reader

Monday, February 20, 2006

camp pics

I spent this past weekend at camp and it went well. But it reminded me how quickly the summer is coming and how hectic things are going to become. That's why it's good to look at pictures like the ones below that remind me how much fun summer camp is.

Two of Circle F's finest: Logan & Afton - and they're coming all summer!

This shot always cracks me up. Zan at his most entertaining.

Voted cutest couple at camp: Bo & Lexi

My favorite rock waller, Beau, getting a little tong crazy.

This pic has to be one of my all-time favorites. Her face says it all.

In unrelated news, Sawyer made it into EW's tv quotes of the week: "You even made Locke take a swing at you. Hell, that's like getting Gandhi to beat his kids."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

mid winter 06

I cheated on Circle F this past weekend and went to another camp. For the 3rd year, I went on the Mid Winter retreat with just under 50 of the middle school kids from church and a handful of leaders. I always look forward to this weekend. One of the reasons is because I get to be a camper for a few days and not be the one worried about everything going just right. It's also great to spend a significant amount of time with the kids and form better relationships with them.

The worship band was particularly great this year. (Check out Tenth Avenue North for more info on that group.) Middle schoolers know how to have a good time worshipping in song and I think we can learn a lot from them. I am not much of a clapper when it comes to singing during a regular church worship service, but when it's a group of 300+ middle schoolers and their leaders, my clapping is pretty much on cruise control. Because those guys have fun with it and just get into it. I wish praising God in song was always that enjoyable. But for some reason I find myself more self-conscious about "getting into it" at church.

In between the singing and games involving squirt guns filled with mouthwash, we had some good lessons. A lot of it was stuff I'd heard before, but I can always use a reminder. The idea that stuck with me the most was the fact that we are all part of a big story - God's story. What an amazing thought it is to me that we get to play supporting roles in His story. God loves me enough to use me? Really? Me?

Another story I am a big fan of is the Harry Potter series. I thoroughly enjoyed the most recently published 6th book, but the last lines of it are my favorite:

"We'll be there, Harry," said Ron.


"At your aunt and uncle's house," said Ron. "And then we'll go with you wherever you're going."

"No-" said Harry quickly; he had not counted on this, he had meant them to understand that he was undertaking this most dangerous journey alone.

"You said to us once before," said Hermione quietly, "that there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We've had time, haven't we?"

"We're with you whatever happens," said Ron.

When I read that closing I remember thinking, "I'll be there, too, Harry, and I can't wait! What a great story this author has written!" It was then that I realized these books speak to a part of us all. We all want to be part of a big adventure. That same day I wrote in my journal:

We want to be part of something big, something epic, something that matters. And then I think about what it means to be a Christian and realize that if you are truly living as a Christian, then you are doing all of these things. And that's something to be so pumped about.

We, I especially, love to read and watch these stories about people risking their lives for the things that matter most to them. So why is it so hard for me to take non life-threatening risks for what matters to me? That's what hit me this weekend. That I don't put enough trust in the freedom God has given us. I can screw up and He's not going to love me any less for it. I know He's given this freedom to us, but I guess part of me just hasn't completely accepted it. How can I take for granted that we get to be a part of this mind-blowing story?! After this weekend I do feel more confident in it. And my prayer is that I'll be more excited to trust in Christ and take risks for Him than I will be to pick up the next Harry Potter book.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

my dad the singer

The older I get, the more I appreciate my dad. Earlier today I was reminded of an embarrassing moment I experienced as a kid courtesy of my pops. My memory of this event is a little foggy, but I was probably 7 or 8 and we had company over at the house. My dad decided that our guests would love nothing more than for me to perform a song for them. I declined, but my dad insisted. So I proceeded to sing "La Bamba" in front of my adoring fans while my dad cheered me on and urged me to swing my hips and "to get into it." I'm sure my audience gave me a big round of applause, but I couldn't have been more embarrassed.

Well, I never did "get into" singing even though I was in chorus for a few years. My dad, however, has always loved singing and music, and it shows when you enter our house in Tampa. In the living room reside several speakers that are bigger than some of the middle schoolers I work with. They are huge and they are loud. My dad used to buy karaoke tapes of old Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson and Ritchie Valens (I have him to thank for my "La Bamba" incident) songs and practiced singing these songs on a regular basis.

Once he and my mom went out with my mom's nephew, Greg, and his wife, Donna, to karaoke night at a local Holiday Inn. Everyone had such a great time listening to my dad sing and whenever Donna was around my dad was guaranteed to sing the song "Donna." They came home that night with a tape of my dad singing that song and they couldn't have been happier.

My mom was, of course, my dad's biggest fan. She always loved sitting on the couch as he serenaded her. Even when he sang songs in Spanish and she didn't understand a word that was coming out of his mouth, she sat there and smiled.

When I was in high school my dad's love for belting out those tunes did not diminish. And those speakers were happy to continue their mission of blasting my dad's voice for anyone near Sandcroft Court to hear. I remember talking on the phone extra loud sometimes when he was singing so that my friends could hear me. Other times I'd pull up in the driveway and could hear his voice before I even got to the front door.

During one Christmas break when I was in college and my dad was in Guatemala, a bunch of my friends came over and were in awe of the speakers. When they asked why we had them I shared with them my dad's love for singing. So what happened next? We did what would have made my dad proud: we sang our hearts out. And we had the best time. This past Christmas I saw a bunch of those same friends and when one of them saw me, one of the first things he asked me was, "Hey, do you remember when we sang all those songs on your dad's speakers?! Does he still have those things?"

I never realized how much enjoyment those speakers provided. Who would've thought that 10 years after those things shook my bedroom walls as I did homework, they'd make me laugh and smile with so many rich memories?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

the nickname king

Warning: If you watch Lost and aren't caught up with the 2nd season, this entry contains spoilers.

Monday nights are good. I meet with my LIFE Group of fellow youth group leaders and we share the concerns and successes we experience with the kids we work with. When Paul mentioned to me that we were going to start this group I thought it was a great idea, but what I thought made it an even better idea was his suggestion that we watch Lost together on a weekly basis. Because the group that prays together and attempts to figure out the mysteries of the island stays together. And cookies, cheesecake or any other dessert item only makes it better.

Last night we gathered around Paul's laptop (we're a dedicated bunch) to watch the further adventures of our favorite castaways. The two episodes that we watched were really good. We got our first real look at the island monster, witnessed what EW dubbed a "little Jungle U.N. Summitt," and were the fortunate recipients of several quality one-liners from Sawyer. I'm not sure whether or not I would really like someone like Sawyer if I were stuck on an island with him, but I love his character. Calling Locke Mr. Clean and telling him that all he was missing was the mop and earring? Classic.

But my favorite line of the episode took place when Jack, Locke and Sawyer were tracking Michael's trail into the jungle. The dialogue went something like this:

Locke:"Does any of this look familiar to you?"
Sawyer: "Oh, yeah, there's my favorite leaf right there!"

At that moment I couldn't have been happier to have Sawyer back in the game after being stuck in a bed for several episodes.

Lost has quickly become one of my favorite shows. I have been a fan of all things J.J. Abrams (one of the show's creators), even before Lost came around. I remember when it hit big and suddenly he became the go-to guy for lots of productions. He was approached for the new Superman movie, but has ended up directing the new Mission:Impossible that comes out in May. I felt like people were finally figuring out what I had known since Alias (another show he created) started. I proudly own every season of that show and am even a fan of his old WB show Felicity. Okay, I have that show on DVD, too. Yeah, I know, it's a bit of a girly show, but there are great characters on that show, just like Lost. (It also doesn't hurt that Keri Russell is in it.) That's what this guy does best. He creates great characters and puts them in fascinating situations. And I am happy to go along for the ride.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

brokeback to the future

I love a good parody. Entertainment Weekly has a blog that I read regularly. They recently posted a link to a Brokeback Mountain parody called Brokeback to the Future that is really funny. I've not seen Brokeback Mountain, but since BTTF is my favorite trilogy, I thought it was worth a look.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

baby huff!

Exciting stuff today! I open my email and waiting for me is the picture you see to the left: the first photo of Baby Huff. Clint and Steph, two of my favorite people from Circle F, are having a baby! I'm so excited for them. They already have one child in their boxer, Cailin, and here's hoping this newest addition to the Huff family doesn't have the same licking problem as Cailin.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

hairy memories

I'm not entirely sure why, but I've never liked getting haircuts. My true neurotic tendencies shine brilliantly as I anxiously sit and wait to hear my name called and trust my hair to a stranger with scissors. While I sit and flip through the year-old magazines they have available, I simultaneously size up all of the stylists and determine which ones I want to call my name. Because naturally you can tell how well someone will cut your hair just by looking at them.

When I was little my mom had to drag me to get a haircut. I think she would take me to Fantastic Sam's because they at least gave you a toy for submitting yourself to the parent-forced haircut. Once I actually asked my mom to take me for a haircut and I can still recall her saying, "You actually want me to take you to get a haircut?!" I ended up spending a lot of time in salons with my mom back in the day because she was always getting her hair colored and permed. After she went through chemo and her hair started growing back curly, I remember her joking and saying, "Think of all the money I'll be saving at the salon now that my hair is growing back naturally curly!"

When I was in high school and began to care about how I looked, I would strategically ask my dad to take me for a haircut on Fridays because then I had the rest of the weekend to get used to my new look before it made its debut at school Monday morning. Despite my efforts, my dad usually opted for Sunday haircuts and going to a place where I couldn't understand any of the ladies working there.

Fortunately, things went smoothly yesterday when I stopped in at the local Hair Cuttery. Thanks, Lee.