Friday, June 3, 2011


Listening To: The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson
Loving: "Lady Lessons" by Lee Smith, in the June/July issue of Garden&Gun. Also loving mocha coconut frappucinos, but without the whipped cream and without the toasted coconut sprinkles.

That adorable doggy-smile belongs to my brother's dog, Kramer. Kramer is a shih tzu/poodle mix. (Anybody else remember when they bleeped the word "shih tzu" from American Idol this season? I feel like a total rebel, typing that word here on the blog.) Kramer loves to jump and run and pounce on his toys and lick people in the face. I'm told he sleeps but I don't believe it. I have never, ever seen Kramer in normal-mode. His "neutral" is crazy. I mean that in a loving way. He's my nephdog, after all. The Crazy is ironic because, as you know, The Rogue Accountant (which is often how I refer to my brother, for those of you who are new) (big hug and welcome, by the way! :) is more of an Eeyore personality. My bro is very chill. Very easy-going. Very sarcastic. Kramer is the opposite, in most ways. I guess dogs can't be sarcastic (?) but I think Kramer would be slapstick, if humor was readily apparent in a K-9.

Example: The Rouge Accountant tries to walk Kramer sometimes. Without fail, the dog 1.) turns around until he is facing his owner and then 2.) proceeds to bounce. Like a rabbit. Like Tigger. He does not walk; he bounces backward. Kramer's crazy-go-nuts and we're all nuts about him.

Well. Not all of us.

Biscuit isn't really nuts about him. Over Christmas, there was a minor incident when Kramer tried to eat the food bits out of Biscuit's beard. Biscuit snapped and Kramer cried and Biscuit wagged her tail and we decided we probably shouldn't put them together again for a while. (For what it's worth, Men: no lady likes it when you eat the food out of her beard. Especially not the first time you meet her.)

Chase {actual name of The Rogue Accountant} brought Crazy Kramer up a few weeks ago. I got some sweet pics of the K-dog prancing around in the yard. I love this one, becaues he looks insane. Like a badger-dog:

But mostly, Kramer just looks way too adorable:

Seriously. How huggable is that dog?!

Looking at pictures of Fuzzy Kramer this morning got me to thinking about summer and how fun it is to have warm days when I can play with the dog(s) in the yard. I do love that. And yet, on this blogaroo, I mostly talk about how much I dislike summer. The heat. The humidity. The alien-portal sounds the cicadas make when they shake their stank-nasty exo-skeletons at me from the trees. (... what's the point of a cicada?)

But I've been thinking. My rants about how much I dislike heat and sweat (and cicadas) are kinda silly. I probably sound like an ungrateful punkdork. I get a little too feisty about summer. About weather-y things. Things that are not worth griping about, not remotely important in the grand scheme.

(But the humidity, people! The humidity!!!!!)

The heat wears us all out, is all. Makes us snippy. (Makes my hair look like a frizz cloud.) Even Biscuit hates the heat. Poor Biscuit. Warm days are usually so fun for her to play outside. But the heat is so gross-bad right now that we can't play out for very long. We play with toys inside, but it's just not the same when you're a natural-born-explorer-spydog. Biscuit mostly stares longingly out the windows, then looks at me with one ear up like, "Please? Just to the mailbox and back?"

This is a picture I snapped of Biscuit yesterday, while she was taking one of many well-scheduled naps:

It was all I could do not to scoop her up and snuggle her. Since she was sleeping, I let her sleep. But the cuteness nearly does me in.

Humidity seems to suck the life out of summer. If humidity didn't exist, I would probably adore this season.

And yet, even as I type that, I think, how stupid is it that I let something like humidity keep me from loving on summer?

Truly, there is so much about it to adore. Wouldn't you agree?

Here are just a few of my favorite summer-isms:

... summer songs, the ones that make you want to dance or relax or remember or ride around with the windows down. This is one of my all time favorite summer songs.

... starry-night rides,
when I roll down the window
(because the heat index drops to 100 instead of 150)
reach for the stars,
get a fistful of lights.
Throw them like confetti
toward the moonlight night.
*takes bow*

... the smell of sunscreen. I use a bunch of that. A bunch. I'm the only one in my immediate fam with absolutely no capacity to tan. My bro and I were looking through family vacation pics recently. In one picture taken few years ago, when we were in Williamsburg, VA, I wore a black hoodie and black sunglasses. And SPF500. Because I didn't want to burn. The Rogue Accountant said: "Have you noticed that, in most vacation pictures, you look as though we've just yanked you out of celebrity rehab?"

... fireworks. (And Katy Perry's "Firework" which is another great summer song, yes?)

... the ocean. Ocean trips are pretty rare around here in summertime. If I hit the ocean, I prefer to go in winter, or in the off season when the sky is silver and the sand is less-crowded. But summer still gets me in a beachy mood. Not to go, necessarily. But, like, to watch movies about oceans and what not.

... fireflies. I love fireflies so much. They used to look like Christmas lights out my window back home, the way they threaded through the woods.
winky constellations
(with wings!)

... the sound ice makes when it clinks against a tall glass of sweet tea. (Do you prefer sweet or unsweet? I like it sweet but not too sweet. I don't like it when I take a sip and I can feel cavities form. But I like it with just a bit of a kick.

... almond lemonade tea. I'm using up two ...'s on tea but, this is so worth it. I'm not much of a tea drinker. Not typically. But in the summer, we always make a few batches of almond lemonade tea and gracious it is good. The recipe came out of a cookbook from a bed & breakfast near my hometown. I've had almond lemonade tea at showers and weddings and all kinds of special events. But my favorite "special" event ... is just to make a batch and drink it while I read. It is so easy to make too - a jug of tea, a canister of frozen lemonade, and a little bit of almond flavoring and HELLO. I'll try to post the actual recipe on here sometime, because you'll love it. It's an easy way to impress people at summertime parties.

... The Tidwell Farms truck. The only sign that makes me happier than the Girl Scout cookie sign is the Tidwell Farms sign. Tidwell Farms sells the most delicious strawberries in the universe. I break for Tidwell Farms. I do U-Turns for Tidwell farms. I buy cases of those berries. Strawberries are my most favorite food (ironic since my other favorite foods are all of the way-not-healthy variety ;). The Tidwell farmers are magicians. I wait all year for their magical berries to appear.

... Cooking on the grill. Of course, I'm a fan of grilling burgers and chicken and all manner of veggies. But I'm all for creativity too. My cousin Isaiah (who is such a doll and just put his prom pictures on Facebook and nearly made me sniffle because he looks so grown up) told me that his mom grilled apple pie last year. Apple Pie! I love my family so much. We're a real resouceful bunch, when it comes to pie. I've got a recipe bookmarked in a magazine about grilled pizzas too. Anybody tried this? Worth a go?

... Driving to, and long walks around, the lake.
And the way the summer sunset looks spilled over the water.
And the smell of campfires.
And the colored lights people string up around their campers.
And the happy laughs and shouts from the pool, the volleyball court, the water ...

... summer hair. I can't work this look very well, but I love it when girls let their hair air-dry in the summer. When they get out of the pool, or the lake, or the ocean, and their hair dries naturally, into something a little bit wild and windblown. Forget the flat irons. Forget the hairspray. Just roll down the widows and go. So, so pretty. I love twisty braids and messy pony-tails, too. (My niece, Erin, has the coolest summer hair ever. She's too pretty for her own good.)

A few years ago, I went on the Brio missions trip to Panama. One of the sweet girls on my team asked if we could chat. I said "sure thang!" and we wandered off to talk. Admittedly, I thought she might want to talk about something personal. Something kinda private. Something very important and dear to her heart. This girl looked at me, very seriously, and said: "Can you show me how to do my hair like you do yours? Like, when you pull it back in a messy pony-tail?"

Love it. Because I've never had any qualms about pulling girls aside and asking them 1.) how they make their hair look like that or 2.) where they get their hair cut or 3.) what kind of lipgloss they're wearing and so on and so forth. Nice to know another kindred spirit.

... melty ice cream cones. I'm holding tight to tradition. But my friends seem to all be falling in love with snow cones this year. Snow cones have never held much appeal for me. I've never been one for chewing on ice but they say it's not the same as eating ice. It's more ice-ish with sugary goodness dumped all over it, so they say. I've had snow cones at school carnivals and they always tasted like kool-aid poured over ice chunks to me. Not my thing. But am I missing out by not hitting up the little snow cone kiosks? Should I give snow cones a second chance?

... summer stories. Some books settle better during certain seasons. I used to kick off my summer vacation by reading Anne of Green Gables. When winter rolls in and the world is grey and empty and bone-cold, I still scan through the book, looking for summer.

One summer, during college, my parents saved up enough money to take me to Prince Edward Island. That was my dream vacation. It will never be topped. I still can't believe it happened. I still get weirdly teary when I think about it.

... skirts. I don't wear shorts very often. I work out in them, but I don't wear them beyond that. The fit drives me bananas and I don't like the way they look on me. But. I love to wear skirts. I'm sure one doesn't look superior to the other. This is probably all in my head. Skirts just make me happier.

... sitting in the rocking chair, reading a thick, fabulous summer-book while the sun goes down (but only on days when the heat index drops to 100 instead of 150 ...)

... outside time with Biscuit. When the weather cooperates, I love walking my dog. And throwing the tennis ball so she can run and snatch it up. (She is so cute when she runs for it.) And reading under the trees while she snoozes beside me. Biscuit makes every season more fun.

... summer blockbusters. A few days ago, I watched almost all of The Bourne Identity. Again. I own the DVD but, if I flip around on ye olde television and find it, I usually keep watching it. (I do the same thing with Sweet Home Alabama.) (...?) Summer blockbusters rock my world. Of course, I am most excited about HP7 *sniffles*. But I'm looking forward to the new X-Men too. Jennifer Lawrence plays Mystique, right? I think Jennifer Lawrence is the stuff. She'll kill it as Katniss. I watched her interview on Dave Letterman and she was so funny and smart. Way more self-aware than I was at 20. Probably more self-aware than I am at the significant-age-I-happen-to-be.

Tangent: While I'm tickled over the Katniss casting choice ... I'm not feeling Peeta. I like that guy. I think he's a cutie. But as a love interest for her? ... I dunno. Gale is a good choice, I think. But I'm not seeing chemistry with her and Peeta. But this is just me thinking about them in other movies. It's not like I've seen them together, in this. (... or maybe this is my subconscious telling me that I should have been Team Gale all along?) ; )

... my family. I love them every season. But in summer, we seem to do more unorganized hanging out. We break out boardgames and meet up at the movies and grill out together. I want to make a thousand new memories with them this summer.

.... my peeps. Tis a season for dinner meet-ups and shopping trips and movies and ice cream. And long chats on the phone. Have I mentioned that my bff's and I still talk on the phone? Frequently? I believe we're the last of our kind, but we're determined to stick it out.

... time I spend in prayer, which sounds so boring when I type it out like that. But isn't boring at all. Sometimes when I pray, I feel like I've slipped away from the world for a second, like I'm hiding out for a while. I don't always steal away to pray though, sometimes I do it while I'm walking or while I'm driving. Not with my eyes closed (you are welcome, fellow drivers!). Not with my hands clasped together (this is always, always how people pray in movies ... have you noticed?) or anything like that. I like knowing prayer doesn't have to happen one particular way. That I can connect with God no matter where I am or what I'm doing.

I've been praying through some major worry here lately. Not so ironically, I was reading about worry this week, and I personalized the verse in Luke 12 where Jesus tells people that worrying hasn't added a single hour to their lives.

I listed the big-major-HUGE worries I have right now, bullet point style. Just writing them down got me all worked up.

Then I thought about what he said in the passage:
that I'm worth more to Him than all of that.

More than ravens,
more than sparrows,
more than the lilies of the field
or the sum of all my fears.

I put my name in front of the amazing, amazing advice He gives in Luke 12:
{Natalie} you have not added a single hour to your day by worrying.

Because that's so true isn't it? It's not like worry is pro-active. It's not like it helps. And while I get that it's impossible to not do it at all (especially over the people I love) ... I think there has to be a better alternative to dealing with worry than donating all my energy and time to it. I cannot let worry suck my time away. My time is too precious for that.

I'm trying to be more conscious of taking my worry, the very minute it takes hold of me, and turning it into a prayer. That same day, the verse in a devo I've been reading was from Isaiah. "I am the Lord who takes hold of your right hand and helps you."

So I put my name on the front-part of that sentence too. I've got to learn to trust. I've got no reason not to. I am missing out by actively choosing to shoulder my worries by myself. I'm not meant to do that, and I know it. But it's a much different thing to say something and then put it into practice (because actually giving your worries to God ... that's not something you can physically do. Know what I mean? I'm usually far more willing to go abstract than logical, but even I don't fully understand how to put a concept like that into practice when I can't physically do it.) I just find it difficult sometimes, to fight down the overwhelming physical, and emotional, response I have to worry. To the big fears.

So grateful my God is bigger than all of it though. He could just speak it all better. I would be grateful for that. But I'm glad He holds on tightly to me and leads me through. I'm worth more to him than all of that. So are you. I found this quote this week and wrote it down so I could share it with you:

"With one glance in the mirror, you can see a reflection of the heart of God. For where His treasure is, His heart is also." - Beth Moore

So while I can pray in any season, and spend time in Word, watch it fall over my heart in a new way, in any season, I'm loving what He's teaching me this summer. I'm trying to be more aware of God's work all around me too. I think He has something to do with everything good and beautiful. Roses blooming through the porch. Tree shadows waving back and forth across my face. S'mores (those totally had to be His idea). Warm wind (at night, the wind smells like jasmine and magnolia and gardenia - so awesome!)

(... unless I'm driving on the interstate ... the wind there smells like the paper factory, which smells weirdly like cooked hot dogs and porta-potty...)

Where was I?

Gratitude! ; )

I'm going to try and stop bickering so much about the heat and think, instead, about how much I have to be grateful for.
Because this is a good season. A blooming season.
campfires flickering
and water splashing
and Beatles songs on the radio.
Sunrise and fireflies,
tanlines and freckles,
banana splits and starry night rides.
And almond lemonade tea!
And wishing stars.
I use those.
I believe in those ;)
But I also believe living a good story has nothing to do with wishing.
and everything to do with taking hold of the hand that's holding tightly to mine.
And choosing to move.
Walk on, my lovelies ; )

I would love to hear your favorite things about summer down in the comments. Happy Weekending to you!


  1. I love it :) I know what it's like to worry, especially at night and I can't sleep and it' like ten at night and keep thing but I want to sleep and it uust won't let me go. God's still teaching me to trust in him, that he hasn't failed me yet and never will. I'm especially nervous lately because on Tuesday I'm leading FCA at my school andit's probably gonna be the last one and I want it to be good. But guess what the subject is? VChild like faith. I think I'm going to be talking to myself just as much as to the others... Anyway I definitely need some prayer on that. Lovely post today as always Natalie :))

  2. So, that post? Amazing. I've been crazy worried over having my wisdom teeth pulled out (kind of ridiculous, I know). I actually got so worked up that in the dentist's office I had a panic attack and he said he couldn't do it, and I had to reschedule. Yikes! So, I've had a LOT of sleepless & tear-filled nights lately. But this post was like...a really big, warm hug. So thanks (= And if you wouldn't mind squeezing in an extra prayer for me (I'm still really panicked over the whole ordeal) I would really appreciate it.

    Anyway, great post, as always!!

  3. Oh, I love summer, despite the heat & humidity. A lot of your summer-isms are my favorites, too, like the smell of sunscreen & melty ice cream cones. Ice cream will always beat snow cones. I also love flip flops and summer storms and getting milkshakes at Sonic, which always reminds me of summer for some reason. :)

    I also like your resolution to stop worrying & think about being grateful instead. That's something I'm trying to do as well. :)

    Happy summer!

  4. I'm actually pretty sure that your subconsciousness is telling you that you should be Team Gale. ;)

    Me, though? Finnick is, for whatever reason, my favorite. He just clicked with me.

    Ok. Bragging time here. The average temp in JULY in the city I'm staying in France is SEVENTY-SEVEN degrees. I'm so happy.

  5. I REALLY wanna see the new X-Men movie!! And that almond lemonade tea sounds heavenly!

  6. What. An. Awesome. Post. :-D!!!

  7. I love this. So much. The part about worry really hits home for me, because it's a HUGE thing I've had to fight so far this summer. God recently asked me to give up something that I love more than anything, something I've waited a very long time to get, and the struggle I've had with worrying about what I'm supposed to do now (not to mention whether or not He's ever going to give it back!)'s insane.

    I'm the type who likes to have SOME idea of what the heck is going to happen next, but God's really teaching me that I just don't know anything, that I have to simply trust Him and not try to figure things out on my own. Worrying isn't going to change that. Certain things? I don't really need to know them now. That's hard to accept sometimes, but...I'm trying.

    Anyway, I just want to say thanks for the reminder. I feel like I can never have too many. :)

    P.S. Almond lemonade tea sounds awesome. I'm going to have to try that sometime for sure.

  8. I know what you mean about the humidity...I honestly cannot imagine heat without humidity. Is there such a thing? :)

    I also love the smell of sunscreen, fireworks, and fireflies. And because of farming chores, we can't go on vacation until the fall or winter, but summer always puts me in a beachy mood, too. So much so that I watched "Gidget" yesterday. (Not really recommended, by the way. Your typical cheesy 60s teen surfer film...I found myself giggling through most of it. :)

    I am so ridiculously excited for Harry Potter! I just watched DH: Part 1 again yesterday, which got me even more excited. I get sort of emotional just thinking about it...and I'm debating whether I'm going to try to attend the midnight showing (therefore checking another item off my bucket list). It feels weird to think that this is my last chance to see a HP midnight showing, you know?


  9. i am not much for almonds or tea or even lemonade, but the combination sounds strangely intriguing and i've found myself at least wanting to try it.

    in the summer i like sitting on the deck outside with family, drinking a cold soda and just relaxing. i like swimming in our pool. i like driving with the windows down. i even like getting into my car, which is black and always hot inside, because it's better than getting inside in the winter when it's ice cold. i like eating ice cream bars and popsicles.

  10. I know what you mean about worrying! Worrying has solved absolutely nothing in my life yet I keep on filling my life with worries instead of taking all my problems to God. He is more than willing to help me out with my fretful nature. I also have been trying to remember to pay better attention the the life that is ACTUALLY going on around me and not what COULD be going on me. (I am a dreamer, too, and sometimes that does not help with the worrying.)

    My favorite thing about summer is swimming in a nice cool lake. Then going and reading in a lawn chair while listening to the waves. Listening to waves is so calming.

  11. Oh my gosh. Those dogs are so adorable it kind of hurts to look at them. Too much cute! My favorite thing about summer is the sun. And the freedom of no work (teacher). And reading whatever and whenever I want. And iced tea. And sleeping in. And staying up late. And unexpected cool evenings. And...s'all I got.

  12. I loved reading all of your summer loves to the music of Drift Away (I've never head that song before, but I loved it and it was the perfect background for your blog post :) ) Sadly, my summer hasn't really started yet since I'm still in school. And will be for more of June. Sadness.

    Your brother's dog is so cute! And I love that he bounces. He sounds like a little furry ball of energy!

    Almond Tea sounds delicious, please please post the recipe!

    No, you're not the one. I still talk to my bff on the phone :) I don't like keeping up with people over facebook or e-mail. It's just too hard to be personal enough. Though it is nice for sending quick notes back and forth.

    Yes, you need to give snow cones another chance! In Austin, there's a stand that only sells snow cones in the summer. They have at least 50 flavors and it's delicious.

    I read another blog post recently that mentioned cicadas too; they sound dreadful!

    I love the smell of sunscreen too. Whenever I smell it I immediately think summer. I too can't tan for the life of me, but I embrace my paleness. I love it.

    I hope you're enjoying your summer! I think you've inspired me to make my own list of summer favorites... Happy Sunday!

  13. i love summer. humidity and all, i love it. i believe in summer songs, i make a playlist for every summer. i'm a terrible southern girl because i HATE sweet tea, but almond lemonade tea sounds awesome. i don't really tan either, and i love what your brother said about the way you look in all those pictures. I personally am the other way around. peeta works for me, gale on the other hand does not. and snow cones are the best summer treat to me.

  14. Worry. It's so draining, emotionally and physically and spiritually. I so appreciate your thoughts on that; it is very good to have a reminder during the tough times when worry feels like the looming darkness, waiting to eat you up and never spit you back out. but a verse that has really helped me (and the place its found escapes me at the moment) is the one in psalms somewhere where it says that sorrow may last for a nighttime but joy comes in the morning. I have really been taking that verse to heart lately - praying myself to sleep, trying to give all the worries to God, then waking up and feeling so refreshed. I have to start the cycle all over again, but it's worth it. so thanks so much for the reminder to just give it up to God the moment it attacks.

    and about that grilled pizza - you should def try it. Spectacular is not quite a big enough word.

  15. I have this really super special little box (you know the papier mache ones you can buy at the craft store and paint yourself?) that a dear friend made for me during a tough season a few years back. She painted the inside black and the outside green (my favorite) and literally covered the entire box--lid and all--with handwritten verses about anxiety and worry and how much God just loves on me and cares for me.
    She called it a worry box and explained how she had made one for herself some time back and whenever she was really struggling with worry, she would read her box and leave the anxiety inside it.
    I love that little's so special to me. It reminds me not only how much God cares, but that he gives me friends who care, too...because so often anxiety can be so isolating.

    Anyways. I really loved reading your usual. I've seen Sweet Home Alabama about 97 times and it always makes me wish I was blonde and spoke with a drawl...I have always been enamored with all things Southern. :) It's one of my "hair movies". I went through a phase in high school in which I would take my current favorite movie in to my stylist and go "please do this".

    Since it's possible I may break blogger if my comment gets any longer, I'll end it here.