10 Things, Parenting

10 Summer Favorites Currently Rocking My Face Off


I have a friend who makes summer look good.  She was born for summer.  The more sun she gets, the more her skin glows from within, like she’s been painted with shimmery bronzer, except it’s all natural.  Her thick, long hair soaks up the humidity and takes on a sultry luster.  She’s excited to have her kids home from school with her and handles the increased volume and activity level with grace and humor.  Summer is her jam.

I am the opposite.  I avoid the sun like the Cullen family, and if it does hit me, I don’t sparkle like diamonds.  I grow moles.  I am a crispy burned moley mama, and then I peel.  After a week at the beach, my scalp is peeling and if I rake my hands through my hair, it looks like I have dandruff, which I guess I kind of do, if dandruff is big flakes of your head skin sloughing off.  My flaky hair doesn’t develop a luster in the summertime.  It develops grease and lots of it.  And when my kids are home all day every day, I yell.  I’m a yeller.  Lately, I’m perfecting the “She starts out yelling, realizes mid-yell that she’s yelling, and ends with manic laughter and a big smile to try to ease out of the yelling” routine.  It goes something like this:


As I labor to love summer and embrace it in all its sweaty, sticky togetherness, here are 10 summer favorites currently rocking my face off.  I’ll start with clothes, transition to reading, and end with food.

1. The Elsie Tank, from Krochet Kids, Intl.

I realized that all my tank tops are at least seven years old, stained, and losing elasticity.  Rather than chuck them and have to buy new ones, I bought this one wonderful tank from Krochet Kids to layer on top.  I wear it several times a week, switching ratty, colored tank tops underneath.  It’s ridiculously soft and flowy bamboo viscose, would make a great cover-up, too, if I was willing to get sunscreen all over it, and works with everything from jean shorts to a maxi skirt or dress.  The best part?  The Ugandan artisan’s signature is stitched in the back.

2. The Floral Mayan Clutch, from Purse and Clutch

This baby is made from a recycled Mayan embroidered blouse in Guatemala.  I bought it as a gift, and when I opened the package, my nose filled with that yummy leather smell.  With quality construction, a beautiful pattern, and shipping costs under $5, this is worth a look for a unique gift idea for a friend or family member who loves shopping fair trade.  I’ve bought a couple of things from Purse and Clutch, and I just really like them.

3. Mitscoots Socks

The Mitscoots people started following me on Twitter and the argyles beckoned me in.  These guys are awesome!  They’re based in Austin and have a buy one/give one model.  For every pair you buy, they give one to someone in need, and they don’t stop there.  They also employ the less fortunate, so we buy great socks, other people receive great socks, and still other people are given solid jobs.  And look at the pretty argyles….

4. Polka Dot Oversized Cat Eye Sunglasses, from Xhilaration

I bought these at Target.  So now you know that not every single thing I buy is perfectly fair trade and eco friendly.  I guess if you bought these online and used your Pure Charity account, you could still make the purchase help someone.  Full disclosure: mine were an impulse buy when I went in for those little shampoo bottles to take on trips and came out with those little shampoo bottles, turkey jerky, Spy Kids, three new packs of Rainbow Nerds, and these sunglasses.  I love them and feel quirky and maybe a little Zooey Deschanel when I wear them.

5. Good Enough to Eat Dress, from ModCloth

My husband’s favorite art is of the pop variety, so when I saw this dress I thought of him and his love for all things Warhol and Lichtenstein.  I don’t own it, but this summer I’m oogling from afar.  It just looks like you’d have a good day in this dress, be extra perky, wave at people, laugh more.  I love looking at the photos online of how people have worn it.  And it makes me want to eat.

6. The Legend Series, by Marie Lu

Authors who create these whole dystopian worlds are so gifted.  I love fiction but get so into stories that I can’t read series and parent well.  I have to choose my timing wisely.  As you may remember, I read the Divergent series while prepping and recovering from a colonoscopy and shook off the post-op anesthesia remnants just to finish.  At the beach a couple of weeks ago, I figured it was safe to squeeze in another one, and I found Marie Lu.  The Legend series is completely interesting and has both a female and male protagonist.  She’s created a world where Africa and Antarctica are world superpowers, and the U.S. has been split in two.  One half is a police state where the government has all the power and the other half is ruled by corporations, where big business has all the power.  It’s fascinating, and she doesn’t provide easy resolutions.  She makes you wrestle with the characters, struggling with who to love and who to hate and why they make the choices they do.  I really hope someday I have at least one teenager who will read these books with me.

7. Surprised by Motherhood, by Lisa-Jo Baker

This book.  I love this book so much.  I was halfway through it before I noticed I was reading, that’s how much Lisa-Jo drew me into her story.  Even though her journey to motherhood is different than mine, I recognize my own struggle in her words.  Not wanting motherhood, then wanting it, then feeling like you’re failing at it.  Missing the pieces of your old self.  A passion for finding purpose in the mundane.  This isn’t a parenting book.  It’s sitting down to tea (for her, coffee for me) with a friend and sharing stories and feeling that delicious sense of us that comes when mothers understand each other.  Her words and story are beautiful.

8. IF: Equip

I don’t know about you, but summer is a tough time for me to get with God for more than a “Hey-hey.”  There’s just too much lack of schedule and structure.  I’ve been doing the daily IF: Equip scripture/video blurbs since they started them in February, and I love them.  We’re in Acts now, which is definitely in my top five books of the Bible.  In Acts, we find out that Jesus is for everyone.  Everyone is invited.  Everyone gets to have Him.  No one is left out.  I get chills every time another group of people hears the Gospel.  The disciples are all, “Wait, them, too?!”  And God confirms, “Yep, and them.  And them and them.  It’s an all-play, people.”

9. Nerds Rope

This summer at our first swim meet, I discovered Nerds Rope.  Some mad genius combined my two favorite things — gummies and Nerds — and fused them together.  This is me opening my first Nerds Rope.  I died a little.  The kids tried to snag a piece and I was a dog in his food bowl growling, “Back off and get your own.”

10. Permission to Slack Off and Only Have 9 Things in a Top Ten List

It’s summer, my kids are trying to beat down the door, and this list is long enough.  Peace out, stay cool, and enjoy summer, sweet friends.


My friend Ginny Starr took the top photo of my daughter last year.  All the other photos are from the websites I link to, except the Surprised by Motherhood pic, which is from Lisa-Jo’s beautiful site.  Numbers 6 and 7 contain affiliate links, and the last pic is from my iPhone at an awkward angle while sweating at a swim meet, pre- scalp-burn.

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  • Lisa Humphries

    My husband introduced me to the Nerds Rope back when we were just first dating. He was on a year deployment to Iraq and I would send him care packages and he requested some Nerds Ropes for the first one. I had to get one of my own and instantly fell IN LOVE!

    • Melanie Dale

      Yessssss. It’s magic.

  • pamela

    this nerds rope…
    HOW HAVE I LIVED?!?!?!?!

    • Melanie Dale

      I know, riiiight?!?

  • Elisa Restea

    Okay, three things: 1) you just sent me off on a shopping spree (thinking tank, purse and motherhood book); 2) love your humor; 3) love your writing and would love to meet up sometime with the kids and you know, pretend to try to have an adult conversation ;)

    • Melanie Dale

      1) Yay! Great choices. 2) THANK YOU FOR GETTING ME! 3) That would be fabulous. :)

  • Vicki Finney

    Target sells the best ever basic tank tops ~ every color, $6. (when on sale), long and stretchy, wash well. Of course my daughter (not I) discovered them.

  • Carrie Cutbirth

    I love dystopian books. I haven’t read the Legend series but it’s on my to-read list now! Any others you suggest?





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