Parenting, Relationships

My Weekend Away, Samplers of My Book, Weirdness, and a Tee Shirt Giveaway


Last weekend I attended one of my favorite events of the year, Allume Conference.  Everything was delicious and beautiful and I saw some of the bestest people on the planet and do I have pictures?  Did I capture memories of this momentous occasion?

No, not really, no.  Because I hardly ever remember to take pictures, except with my brain, which being of the Mommy variety, means I’d better write a few things down before these memories are gone forever.

(I do have a couple, like the blurry one at the top, of Logan Wolfram, our fearless, big-hearted leader of the conference.  You guys, she put her actual living room on that stage.  I want her polka-dotted couch.)

Oh, and thankfully they have a SmileBooth, so I have this one:

And this one:

Wouldn’t life be fun if we could just have a SmileBooth follow us around all the time?

On Thursday, I drove over to Greenville with the best playlist ever created in the history of the world.  I thought it was awesome, and then the theme song to Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Nerfherder cranked up and I realized it was legendary.  Alex surprised me with the playlist, which included everything from Rancid’s “Ruby Soho” to “Harriet” from So I Married an Axe Murderer.  You can see why it’s legendary.  Obvs.  (When I start to shorten perfectly good words like “obviously,” you know I’ve been spending too much time on Twitter.  Totes too much time, for reals.)

When I arrived in Greenville, the first thing I did was hug people, meet fun authors and say awkward things about how much I love their books, and pile in a van with a bunch of Zondervan people.

(At some point during the weekend it occurred to me that I have a book coming out, with actual words that I wrote.  I spent a lot of time in the bathroom.)

We walked around a sweet farm and saw animals and felt gentle breezes on our skin, then ate food from the farm, and I conceded that food does taste excellent when not coming out of a package, my apologies to Nerds Rope.  Then Preston Yancey talked about his next book project, and let me just tell you, Preston is what would happen if Evangelicals and Anglicans had a baby, and I adore him.  He’s like twenty-five years old and a beautiful reminder that “young” and “wise” are not mutually exclusive.  Pretty much all his words rocked my face off this weekend, and props for hanging out with a bunch of girls for three days.

Then Shauna Niequist spoke and God reminded me that he hears and answers prayer, because I told him awhile ago that book deals should come with built-in author mentors and boy does he know how to hook a girl up.  She poured out some wisdom for us newbies and I hung on her every word.

I just realized if I keep going with every detail this post will be 5,000 words long, so, um, let’s cut to DANCE PARTY.  After all the learning and growing, DJ Op Diggy pumped up the jam for a roomful of ladies in their 30s and 40s.  Thankfully, he played a lot of 90s music, since most of us hadn’t learned a dance move since 1996.

I have not had that much exercise since 1996.  I jump-jumped the night away and just when my hair was slicked back with sweat and I could smell myself and was thinking about quitting, my fantabulous editor, Sandy, showed up and I found the will to go on.  I would do pretty much anything for this woman.  Move chapters around, rewrite paragraphs, and stay out on the dance floor.  She’s my favorite and pushes me to be better, from writing to the Running Man.

So we shut the party down and the next day my knees were all, “WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME WOMAN?!?”  Whatever, I’m a slave to the rhythm.

The speakers were all awesome, and if you want to hear the keynote speakers, they have them up right now for free on the Allume website.

At the Zondervan booth, they gave away these samplers:

(pause for 473rd bathroom break)

(I do not know how to make a non-blurry photo.  Which is why I don’t usually bother.  But I really wanted you to see these.)

And people took them and saw my words, which is weird, but good weird, a little like stripping naked in front of the conference and a little like being a writer…maybe those two things are more related than we’d like to dwell on.

The breakout sessions were fantastic, and I worked really hard not to go all fan-girl on some of my favorite bloggers and authors.  Limited jazz-hands, only a few awkward mentions of pants-pooping.  Being really normal is hard, you guys.  If I was ever important and got to lead a breakout session (read: nobody hold their breath), I’d want to do one for the weird moms.  Parenting with Weirdness.  Making Friends While Weird.  For the awkward people like me.

All the sponsors were amazing, selling beautiful things that make life better for people.  (You’ll meet several of them in November if you hang out here, when I turn my blog into a fair trade market with coupon codes and giveaways.)  I came across this tee shirt, which, I mean…


It’s like the shirt was beckoning to me.  So I bought two, one for me and one for one of you, so click on the link below so we can be tee shirt buddies.

click here to enter to win

Sandy and I have birthdays a couple days apart, so we got to celebrate together, and she found this book for me:

It’s like she’s read my whole book and knows me or something. :)  I have big plans to lie on the couch and devour this bad boy later tonight. (The book, not Wesley.  We all know he’s Princess Buttercup’s.)

When I got home – oh you guys, I’m getting a little emotional – I pulled my van into the garage.

You have no idea.  Our garage was a tangle of bikes, scooters, and a stupid old treadmill that we will NEVER use.  While I was gone, Alex and the kids cleaned up and now I have room for the van.  Apparently I’m so mommish now that a clean garage is my new love language.  It’s magic.  This morning, I pulled right out of the driveway without five minutes of manic defrosting.

Happy birthday to me. (I’m in my late thirties now.  Feels good.  So far nothing’s fallen off.)

Yesterday afternoon I set my kids down on the couch and got down on my knees in front of them.  I asked their forgiveness for being too impatient.  For not extending enough grace.  And I told them how much I loved them.

And that’s really what’s so great about getting away for a few days.  You remember what’s important, you allow air back into your deflated balloon, and you come home with more love to give away than when you left.


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  • Off The Cuff Cooking

    Why didn’t you get a SmileBooth of all of you doing the Running Man? :)

    • Melanie Dale

      Now why didn’t I think of that?!? So sorry to let you down. ;)

  • MomtoJADE

    I may have squealed when I saw your book teaser on the Zondervan table and snatched one with my grubby little hands! I kept an eye out for a dark haired lady with red behind her head as I wandered up and down the vender hallway, so I am bummed that I missed going all fan girl on you. Your writing is hilarious! The Lord has blessed you with a gift. Thank you for being obedient.

    • Melanie Dale

      Oh, I’m so sorry I missed you! You are so sweet and I appreciate your encouragement more than words can say. I hope you had a wonderful time at Allume!

  • bootsie

    As always, you share funny, serious, and contemplative thoughts. Thank you for another enjoyable read. Bootsie

    • Melanie Dale

      Hugs and kisses, Bootsie!

  • Crystal Ginn

    If you write and do for the “weird” I will be there! I was at the conference for the first time and I did not do a good job holding in the weird or the fan-girl! I petted a speaker in the bathroom… Like, for real.

    • Melanie Dale

      Okay, you’re amazing. You petted a speaker. You petted a speaker. In the bathroom. That’s incredible. You are my people, Crystal. I am also not as cool as Erika, but in our defense, I don’t think anyone is. I think she wins all awards of coolness, which she’d just give away, thus making her even cooler.

  • Laura Boggess

    So. Now that I know you are a Denison grad I’m going to have to stalk you or something (grin). Is that creepy? Is it weird for an old woman like me to have going back to college fantasies? Anyhow, I so wish I had been able to make Allume this year! But this update was sweet to read and now I have another book to add to my list!

    • Melanie Dale

      Not creepy! HI! I love people who love Denison. Go Big Red. :)

  • Logan Wolfram

    I just adore you!!! And I’m glad that if I was a cake pop, and you were a cake pop…we wouldn’t bite a piece out of each other’s heads…. we would just be so happy standing there together…poked into a piece of foam to hold us upright… smiling and being all friendly and delicious inside…

    • Melanie Dale

      We would never! Although if I was a cake pop, I’d be red velvet, so at least if anyone bit me it would look like I was bleeding…these are the weird thoughts that I have…

      If I ever am a cake pop, I sure hope I get to stand next to you, Logan Wolfram! I can’t tell you how much I massively respect and love you. You’re a fantastic woman.

  • Laura M

    It sounds amazing. I’m going next year, so will you wave to me across the room or something? :)

    • Melanie Dale

      I always expect full frontal hugging from you, darling.

      • Laura M

        With the side-to-side swaying? :D

        Also, I need that little booklet up there with the start of your book. Just sayin’.

  • Rachel Joy

    Ah, jealous :) Why didn’t I go this year? I do appreciate the blurry Logan pic, though, it’s almost like I’m there without my glasses on…Mel, your posts never cease to make me laugh. Are there any more book samples left?

    • Melanie Dale

      I have a few left, and YES we missed you there!!!

  • Amy Tilson

    Oh, my, my!! So much love and joy and a bit of regret/sadness that we didn’t get to hang out in the quantity that I’d fantasized about for the weeks leading up to Allume. Like I had places to be or something crazy. I’m a bit jealous of Logan’s cake pop comment below. Why didn’t I think of that? I’d totally do full-frontal on the playground next to the swings though. I think we had deep, deep bonding on the dance floor and that’s gotta count for some bonus points or something. I’d totally go to fourth base with you! :)

    • Melanie Dale

      Yes, I was hoping to have more Amy time, but you were very important. :) So I will have to come up to NoVa to visit you and my old church. Elliott told me at breakfast today, “Mom, I kind of want to go visit Virginia.” So yes, we’ll have to make that happen. Because DON’T TEMPT ME WITH A FULL FRONTAL AND FOURTH BASE DATE. It is on like Donkey Kong.

  • Laurie Wallin

    Well you know I had to click this link since it had the word weirdness in it, that being my favorite word and all! Too bad we didn’t have a chance to meet while at Allume. The farm sounds fun. I enjoyed all the hugging of people I’ve known for years but never met. And playing hooky on Sat to drive with my roomie to Tennessee to film my first book trailer (that was what sent me on 147 bathroom trips). Hoping God will lead me that way again for round two next year! Go get em with that first book! You’ll do great.

    • Melanie Dale

      Oh my goodness, I just checked you out and GREAT COVER and of course I utterly adore your title. Ima have to check out your book! Aren’t book trailers fun? :) Congrats on your weird book!!! :)





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