Johnny is a bright light in this world! He has a contagious, happy energy that surrounds him wherever he goes. He’s enthusiastic about everything he does, especially if it involves the great outdoors and/or the dogs. Whenever possible, Johnny wants to be outside experiencing the real world. It is such a joy to be around him and see the pond, creek, or even the grass through his eyes. One of Johnny’s latest sayings is “I’m having a really great day so far”. It has matured from “this is the best day ever” but still the most genuine sentiment of truly loving life. He usually follows it with “how is your day going, mom”. I proceed to melt and concur that I’m having “a really great day” too. And when he gets upset or has a stubborn streak, it’s usually over quick and with him owning every aspect of it. I feel like the luckiest dang mom that there ever was with Johnny.
Johnny is in 1st grade and has started the Spanish dual immersion program at Parley’s Park Elementary. He loves to learn and loves his friends even more. Johnny’s teachers have an affection for him that we all share. Johnny also enjoys all sports possible, especially soccer and baseball. He is an avid outdoorsman and is quite skilled with a knife, hammer, fishing pole, bugs and all things with dad. He loves animals and seems to have a special connection every critter he finds. Johnny is also a proud little brother to Charlotte and does his best to push her buttons as well as give her hugs at recess. He continues to make us all laugh with jokes, voices and silly faces. We’re grateful for the joy Johnny brings to our family. Happy 7th birthday, bud!
Here are a few pictures of Johnny on his actual birthday, September 9th. His birthday party was a few days later with more details below.
For Johnny’s 7th birthday, we created a survival skills birthday party for a bunch of energetic 6-year-old boys. It was a total hit! John was troop leader as he led Johnny and his friends around the ranch on a scavenger hunt to learn a few basic survival skills. They learned how to use a compass and a signal mirror. They also went to rescue an injured hiker and learned how to apply pressure to a wound and make an arm sling. The injured hiker was Charlotte with a very (fake) bloody arm. The last test was knowing a parent’s phone number in case of an emergency. Surprisingly, most of the boys didn’t know the phone number. We told them that was their homework 😉 We ate trail mix, hot dogs and fish cooked in tinfoil (Johnny ate the fish eyeball). The party ended with singing happy birthday and eating cake!
Our self-created family holiday happens once a year (July) at Mellor Ranch when John cuts and bales the hay field. It never ceases to bring pure, good old-fashioned fun for all of us. John gets to use all of his tractor equipment, Charlotte and Johnny get to run around wildly in the field, Prissy and Ginger get to catch voles and I get to bring out the big camera. Below are the memories captured and documented.
If one is seeking adventure, Costa Rica is the place. We went from ziplines in the mountains to black sand beaches with howling monkeys in-between. It was truly adventure packed! There were plenty of critters to keep us on our toes (literally) and lots of winding dirt roads to help us slow down and soak in the rugged scenery. We also enjoyed practicing our Spanish and eating amazing local food. Our house was a major highlight as it sat up on the hillside above Coco Beach. The sunsets were incredible and so were the daily rainstorms as we swam in the pool. Overall, Costa Rica was a remarkable discovery with our two very curious children, especially as our wanderlust souls continue to crave uncharted territory through these Covid years (I can’t believe we’re saying “years” but it continues to rage on).
Things to remember: Ziplines, the bus ride to the water slide, the water slide in the rain storm, hot springs, rivers, mud, scorpions, lizards, frogs and crabs at night, june bugs, howling monkeys, more rain storms, sugar cane, crocodiles, humidity, breakfast on our patio, black sand, dirt roads with lots of bumps, mosquitos and even bigger flying bugs who remain nameless, more ziplines that might possibly be unsafe, boat time, beaches left undiscovered, feeding monkeys, feeding crocodiles, dogs, bone marrow, cats, fish spa, eating lunch in the deep backcountry, chillaxing in our infinity pool as we overlooked the bay, Johnny getting a fever the day we left, COVID tests on our patio, the lightning storm on our last night.
Below are pictures from one of our ziplining experiences where it actually felt safe and regulated … hence a professional photographer.
And now for the abundance of iPhone pictures that happen so easily without settings and without a giant camera to lug around.
We’re so happy to share our holiday card 2021! Our family and two of our dear friends brought this to life. We have to give Brett Bluth a standing ovation for creating and executing the theme. Brett hand painted every brush stroke on the wallpaper that covered our fireplace and floor as well as every brush stroke you see on our white clothing. This really happened in real life (hard to believe these days). We also have to give credit to Phillip Istomin for loving to create and for being the mastermind behind the lens as well as the back of the card. To put the cherry on top of the project, Brett wanted to paint one more brush stroke on each envelope we sent out to our friends and family. Wow, we had fun! Thank you, Brett and Phillip, for making this happen. Not sure how we will ever top it. First photo is the one we sent out, the rest are just as good!
We found ourselves back at our happy place for Spring Break. We’ve been coming to this same spot for years and always find our true Mexico serenity, especially when Park City’s spring becomes too long to bear. We happened to arrive on Charlotte’s 9th birthday, so obviously there was “Cake By The Ocean” and a proper piñata to crack. However, after much anticipation, the piñata was not filled with candy. Not sure where the miscommunication happened, but the kids really didn’t care. We were in Mexico and after that… little matters. So, happy 9th birthday to Charlotte and also happy spring break 2021. Below are the pictures to document our happy place – Punta Mita.
Below are pictures from our super awesome surf session.
Words will definitely fall short to describe the incredible experience we were able to enjoy in the Exumas (Bahamas) on our first chartered catamaran. For Park City’s “ski week” we escaped the snow (and anything to do with Covid) and disappeared into the turquoise Caribbean water where we truly wanted to stay forever. It was just our family of four along with a husband/wife crew as we island hopped chasing sandbars into the sunset. I tried to document the awesomeness of it all below with pictures, but they really don’t do it justice. Thank you Mother Earth, The Bahamas, and of most of all, Stu and Hannah for our best vacation ever. Like seriously. (Keep singing Beach Boys…)
Things to remember: Basically EVERYTHING, three meals a day with Chef Hannah, Captain Stu navigating, sand bars, sharks, turtles, Sea Boss, more sand bars, stingray shuffle, holding onto the tube with Captain Stu, swimming with nurse sharks, pig island, iguana island, conch shells, creating a new family color that only exists in the Bahamas called Bahama, the gentle rocking of the boat at night, sunsets, fancy drinks, snorkeling, the ocean currents that felt like rivers, exploring Boo Boo Hill, Thunderball grotto, sun burns, rashes, the Covid test on the beach, Charlotte hanging out with Chef Hannah, sand dollars, Charlotte and Johnny’s wrestling matches on the tube, way too much time at Atlanta airport, living every minute to the fullest. We truly can’t wait to go back to Sea Boss with Hannah and Stu.
We snuck away to Cabo last November to celebrate Thanksgiving pandemic style. We needed some sun, sand and I suppose a little isolation for yet another big holiday. It was our first time at the beautiful Montage resort in Cabo. The water was actually swimmable and warm, the grounds and pools were expansive, the food was amazing, and the staff was incredibly kind and helpful. We felt safe and alone and spent all of our daylight hours outside. Our modified Thanksgiving was a total success (minus a turkey in a warm kitchen on a cold and snowy day in Park City, Utah… oh well).
Things to remember: Charlotte and Johnny crashing into the waves on our first night as the sun went down, cheese grater sand, room service breakfast on balcony, Johnny catching a fish in his net, cabana with fruit and drinks and fried crickets, the ocean bicycle, walking to our room in the dark, playing in the giant pool, the cheese grater sand once again, fireworks Thanksgiving night, the outdoor shower, green hair, Montage merit badges, sea turtles hatching and running into the ocean, the giant blue floatie island Charlotte and Johnny played on for hours and hours, making socially distanced friends, delicious and expensive margaritas, the champagne party where we all danced, our family relying on each other as we live and thrive through these unprecedented times, me never wanting to change anything and hoping we can all freeze forever in Cabo.
Preface – I was living in Manhattan during 9/11 and had just come back into town that morning. Below is my journal entry that was written the night of 9/11. I know it’s long and personal (and parts are raw), but for those that are interested, I wanted to share. I hope this helps you not forget that day, it certainly helps me. John
September 11, 2001 At 11:30 pm Sep 10, 2001 I went to the SLC airport to catch my redeye flight to JFK to find out that it had been delayed until 2:30 am (a 2.5 hour move). The only reason I was going to NY was due to an 8:30 am meeting with a board member of the company I was working for (RichFX), otherwise I would have gone directly to Atlanta for a tradeshow from SLC. Because of this late departure, I would certainly miss this meeting but, for whatever reason, I determined that I’ld just stick to my planned itinerary and do my time in NY. The flight was almost empty and I had an exit row completely to myself so I slept great and arrived pretty fresh. I arrived at JFK at 8:30 am and got directly into a taxi to go to my apartment. At 8:45 am a news flash came on the radio claiming that an airplane had crashed into the North tower of the World Trade Center about two thirds of the way up. They were interviewing a lady who said she heard it pass overhead and was now on her roof looking at the hole in the WTC and watching the fire and smoke billow out. The general thought was that it was probably some freak accident by a small time thrill seeker flying a little Cessna. Of course news helicopters had swarmed onto the scene and were beginning to follow the story. Then about 18 minutes later, the radio announcer yelled out that there had been an explosion in the lower mid-section of the South tower of the WTC. Then someone said it was another airplane that had crashed into the South tower. Then the dots started to connect that this was probably not a freak accident, but a planned attack. Those words made me shiver and it seemed surreal to think of that sort of thing here, in Manhattan, in buildings that I used to walk through every day on my way to work. However, it made some sick kind of sense since these buildings are icons of capitalism. I called Mom, on my Blackberry, because I knew she would be worried and I wanted her to know I was safe. After a brief conversation with her, I received a call from my sister Ann. She wanted to know if I was ok. By now I was coming towards Manhattan island and the news started to come in that bridges and tunnels were closing. Luckily my driver got us on to the Queens Borough Bridge. While we were crossing the bridge, I was talking with Ann and I could see the two towers of the WTC just billowing smoke into the air and I could see the flames inside. It looked like they were smoke stacks, not office buildings. Ann said “you are witnessing one of the most memorable moments of history”. Somehow it felt less glamorous. Once in the city, the traffic was terrible and I ended up getting out of the cab at 72nd and 2nd Avenue. I walked 36 blocks, with my bags, to get to the apartment on 36th and 1st. On the way to the apartment I was listening to the radio on my MP3/radio player and heard someone say that the building had collapsed. Actually the only radio station that I could find quickly had been Howard Stern. He isn’t known as the most objective source of information so I thought he was exaggerating or making a joke. Then he and his cohost Robin started to express how they just couldn’t believe that something as huge as the WTC could just fall down. Then I picked up the pace towards my apartment. I arrived at about 9:45 to replayed images on CNN of the tower collapsing. I just couldn’t believe it. It was only now that I saw what had been going on over the past hour. I had heard it in vivid detail, but to see the images gave a whole new feeling. It was like a special effects movie, the reality of it just didn’t compute. During all of this I was trying to contact people in the office, but the cell service was not working. I decided to use my apartment phone, which I never had used before, and it worked. I got ahold of two colleagues that had rented a car and were heading to one of their houses in Chappaqua about 20 miles outside the city. They strongly encouraged me to come with them, but for some reason I wanted to stay in the city. I had some feeling of loyalty and arrogance that made me want to stand up to whoever this was. I wanted to help, to somehow be a part of “America”. Plus the news was so riveting that I didn’t want to tear myself away. I watched the news and continued to be amazed. At 10:30 am I was sitting on my couch watching the news and the South Tower collapsed. A huge pit formed in my stomach as the reality of the first building’s collapse suddenly became more real by the second one falling also. To see the skyline without either building felt so unreal. At this point I wanted to be in the thick of the action. I put on my gym clothes and decided to take my MP3 player and head down to the WTC and see how close I could get. It is about a 3-mile jog and it went by very quickly. I was in the thick of the action by noon. I was listening to the radio on my MP3 player the whole time so it was like I was getting commentary and being there at the same time – pretty interesting. By this time, the police and fire departments had closed most of the streets below 10th or so and there was very little vehicle traffic. However, there were quite a few people. I went down 1st Ave as far as I could before Police stopped me. I would guess I was within 3 blocks of the WTC. The thick smoke filled the sky, the streets were covered with debris and papers. Business people were walking out of the area with their brief cases holding particulate masks over their faces and their suits covered in debris and dust. The look on everyone’s face was emotionless. Policemen and firemen had the look on their faces that they were just going through the motions of their job. They weren’t letting any feeling come through, because they didn’t know what to feel. At this point no one knew how many were dead, injured, trapped. I heard numbers like “hundreds” and thought, that “hundreds” would be a rounding error to the final count. When I lived in Battery Park, I walked through the WTC every morning at 8:30 on my way to work. 40,000 people work in those buildings and thousands more catch PATH trains and thousands more shop in the huge mall on the ground floor. Sure a lot of them evacuated but, like the Titanic, I am sure no one thought it would actually collapse. There were huge auditorium sized rooms far underground where people catch trains. Even if they weren’t killed in the collapse, how in the world would we get to them in time to save them from starvation? Compressing 110 floors into 7 will make for a horrendous clean up task. I tried to analyze what my own actions would have been if I had been in building 2 when building 1 got hit. I probably would have run to get my camera and been taking pictures and calling friends to say “you’ll never believe what I am looking at”. I would easily have been one of those that ignored evacuation warnings. I think that the public officials were just trying to not alarm people by stating only numbers of “confirmed” missing not what was speculated. As I watched people come out of the roped off area, I sat down and tried to soak in the situation. Reporters were walking around trying to talk to anyone that had an insider’s perspective, policemen were trying to do their jobs and civilians were trying to get home. I decided to pick up some of the debris that was lying around. I filled up two water bottles with the dust and debris that covered the streets and carried them with me the rest of the day. I’ll keep them as a remembrance of the event. Now I just wanted to help somehow. I heard on the radio that they needed blood donations so I decided to go to St. Vincent’s hospital up the street. I got there and began standing in line. The line was huge – 500 people at least. After about 20 minutes, someone came out and said “if you are O- go here, if O+ go there, any other type go there”. I had no idea what blood type I was so I decided I would come back later. The scene at St. Vincent’s was eerie. Out on the street, there were dozens of gurneys and wheelchairs covered in white sheets waiting for ambulances to arrive. Dozens of doctors and nurses dressed in their green outfits were waiting. I stood there for about 30 minutes and during the whole time I didn’t see one ambulance arrive at the hospital. At this point I decided to buy a disposable camera. I started taking pictures to try and remember the feelings that existed. I went back down to the WTC area but security had gotten even tighter and they weren’t letting people anywhere below Canal Street. I got around a few blockades but not near as close as I was before. As I walked down Canal, I saw hordes of people heading over the Brooklyn Bridge on foot. Apparently this was the case on all of the bridges since they were closed (as well as the tunnels) to vehicular traffic. There was no other way for the people to get to their homes so they walked. I stopped by a deli for takeout and went back to the apartment about 4:00 pm to eat and wash up. I left again about 5:30. This time I went to my office in Times Square to get a friend’s digital camera (I wish I had thought of this earlier) and walked back down to the WTC area. The creepy thing was that there were no cars on the roads. At 6:00 pm I was walking down the middle of 7th Avenue (in the middle lane) and there was not a single car on the road. Usually this place is packed at that time of day. There were a few people meandering down the street, but no real activity. I called one of my coworkers and said “do you hear that?” and he said “hear what?”. I explained that I felt like I was walking in a ghost town and he could relate to how odd it was for 7th Avenue to be silent. As I got closer to the WTC it was clear that a lot of people had the same idea I had – take pictures. Tons of people were there with their cameras trying to get close. The police were fairly impatient since I am sure they had been dealing with this all day as well as all of the other stress they were under. People would stand in the middle of the street taking pictures while the cops were trying to clear the way for emergency vehicles to pass. Then in one case I found an aspiring artist who had planted his easel on the side of the street looking down towards the plume of smoke and was painting the scene. That was true New York. Since I couldn’t get any closer to the WTC I decided to just walk around and try to get a sense for what people were feeling. I spent a lot of time down in Tribeca area. All of the street side restaurants were full of people. Most of the restaurants and bars had signs outside that said “Feel free to use our bathrooms or phones. Free water and lemonade.” I was shocked to see such a soft side of New York since I was used to the grumpy, grouchy tone most of the time. People would ride their bikes down the street calling out that they needed more blood donations at such and such hospital. It felt kind of “small town”, not like Manhattan. In one of the parks there was a group of 15 – 20 people all holding hands in a circle singing some religious song about love and brotherhood, etc.. Then in Union Square they had taped a bunch of cardboard onto the sidewalk and people were writing thoughts on it. Mainly they were expressions of grief and disbelief. I decided to finish my walk by going up 1st Avenue toward my apartment. There are 3 hospitals on this Avenue and ambulances were passing me all the way as I walked. As I neared 32nd street I could see it was blocked off to relieve congestion at Bellevue hospital where most of the ambulances were heading. I walked up to the barricades and heard a young man and woman explaining to the officer that her sister worked in one of the surrounding buildings of the WTC and they were told that the sister had probably been brought to this hospital. They wanted the policeman to let them by to go and see if they could find her. The policeman, certainly worn down by a very long day, listened and then said “you know this hospital isn’t being used as a hospital, it is being used only for fatalities.” He turned and pointed to the building next door to the hospital and said “you see, the morgue is right next door”. The sign on the building read “County Coroners Office”. The young girl burst into hysterical tears as she hugged the man she was with. This was a difficult way to end the day. For the most part I had been emotionally insulated from what was going on. I didn’t directly know anyone at the WTC and didn’t feel like I was in any personal danger. I was just a spectator. However, to see such personal pain was very hard. I know people at work will be deeply affected by this and that will no doubt cause some reaction in myself. I am sure the disbelief will transition into anger. It will be difficult to not project that anger onto those I come in contact with everyday. I know that is wrong, Mayor Gulianni specifically warned the city against this. I just feel so mad that some foreigners can live in our country, enjoy our freedoms, be protected by our police and then participate in something like this. My challenge will be to work in the center of the melting pot of America and not blame people for this – for under appreciating what people like my father have worked so hard to create and protect. Logically I understand I mustn’t judge, but it is hard to let logic guide you when there is no logic at all in what just happened.
This year’s Christmas card theme came naturally after 9 months of living through the pandemic. We feel incredibly grateful to have each other and our small ranch when the world seemed too scary to face. The days blended into months and our children lived their life as only Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer might know – barefoot and muddy without the confinement of the unprecedented and only somewhat civilized world.
Happy Holidays 2020 from the Mellors – John, Kelsi, Charlotte, Johnny, Prissy and Ginger.
Charlotte is one fierce girl. She is bold, determined, strong, smart and beautiful with a little bit of hot sauce on top. She adds depth and intensity to every moment, even when things are mellow. She pushes almost any boundary she’s given which ultimately makes me respect the heck out of her (but also keeps me on my toes as a parent). Life with Charlotte is never dull or easy and I wouldn’t want it any other way. She makes me laugh with her quick wit, gives me fashion advice, and always has a good song to play in the car. Sometimes it feels like we’re just hanging out like best girlfriends. I’m always a little surprised (and honored) when she still wants me to snuggle at night, but it’s mostly so we can chat more. She continues to inspire me to do more and to be more. I want to impress Charlotte and make her proud of who I am. I’ve always felt like I’m here to learn from her… and just maybe some of her strength will rub off on me. So, yes, I’m one lucky mama to get to call Charlotte mine. Stay strong, baby girl! Happy 9th birthday!
Charlotte finished her third year of Spanish dual immersion and is speaking Spanish very well. She loves school and her friends! She is also an avid dancer and competed in Hip Hop and Jazz with her dance team. She continues to love fashion, hip hop music, dancing and art. She also can be an awesome big sister to Johnny and he is wiser, bolder and stronger because of her (like the rest of us). Below are pictures from Charlotte’s 9th birthday party which happened in May. She chose the tie dye theme and invited a small group of close girlfriends. Not sure I captured the actual tie dying part since my hands were covered with dye as I helped six girls nail an epic tie dye session. We celebrated Charlotte’s actual birthday on April 3rd in Mexico. One last note, Charlotte asked for a cat for her 9th birthday and in June, we were able to rescue an adorable black cat she named Zeus.