We had a special Sunday in fall where I whipped out my good camera to document a few moments around the ranch. We were aiming to do a mock-up of our family Christmas card shoot which involved a homemade raft and some very Huck Finn kids living their usual life. It was all too good not to document. Oh and there were some elk that came to visit in the morning while the camera was out.
Make hay while the sun shines… maybe that’s our family motto or at least it’s our annual family holiday (a.k.a. Hay Day)! It’s usually a week long process that blends into this wholesome family activity that feeds our country souls. This year made it feel even more precious as we held on tighter to everything that felt safe and whole and could help us escape the troubling times of COVID. Just get on the tractor and feel the vibration, smell the fresh cut grass, see the dogs chase voles, show the kids what it’s really like to be a (gentleman) farmer.
Also, pictured below is our garden… the newest addition to Mellor Ranch.
Six years ago our family was completed by John Forrest Mellor, Jr. (aka Johnny). He’s quite possibly the sweetest and coolest little man I know. This world is a better place because Johnny is in it. He is kind, thoughtful, generous, funny, hardworking, and has an enthusiasm for life that is hard to match.
Johnny’s favorite thing to do is to be outside. It really doesn’t matter what it is, he just “needs to be in nature” as he puts it. He is usually muddy or dirty and/or carrying a hammer or shovel … unless it’s a recently caught critter. He is the modern day Huck Finn around Mellor Ranch. Quarantine has been the best thing that happened to Johnny because he gets to be home (outside) on the ranch. His love for all things is felt by the earth, wind, trees, dogs, insects, worms, creek, rocks and whatever else might come in his path. I’m pretty sure he is the reason the sun greets us every morning. Johnny is my sunshine. But every once in a while, we get to see the spicy stubborn side of Johnny. It’s usually to combat Charlotte or to make sure we know exactly how deeply he feels. I rarely have to discipline him because he just innately knows when he did something wrong and then truly feels bad. I’m not sure how we got Johnny, but I’ll keep counting my lucky stars.
Johnny is currently loving his kindergarten year at Parley’s Park Elementary. He enjoys school, his friends, his teachers, recess, and special classes such as P.E. and art. Sports are also a major part of Johnny’s day. Soccer has been a highlight but he also loves T-ball, basketball and skiing. As of late, when I ask Johnny what he wants to be when he grows up, he says he wants to be a dog trainer. He is counting down the years until he can have his own dog which will be a black lab.
Through Johnny, our whole family is elevated with love and kindness and a special appreciation for nature. His giggle makes us all feel funny, even when we aren’t – everyone deserves to have Johnny as an audience for a moment because he makes you feel funny, creative and special. In our minds, Johnny is always winning and therefore we are too. Thanks for the last six years. Love you, buddy!
Below are pictures from Johnny’s 6th birthday party. He chose the theme of nacho cheese. We kept it small due to COVID restrictions and were lucky enough to have a beautiful day outside in September. The finale of the party was when Johnny ran through a nacho spray cheese (aka cheese whiz) tunnel. He even went back for one more round. Like I said, the coolest dude I know.
One more moment to remember … Johnny’s actual birthday which fell during the week so we did our best to celebrate on a school night. John even got out the power tools to drill a candle into his ice cream cake. Like father, like son.
This year has definitely been different … let’s just call it the year of COVID (dun dun dun). Most everything has been affected, especially travel. We had big plans to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary in Bora Bora (a bucket list trip for us); we were even going to bring the kids. But, that just wasn’t going to happen this year. Luckily, we were able to get away to one of our favorite spots in Mexico. For just a minute, we felt free from the stress of this crazy year. Socially distanced time in the sun, sand, ocean and a few margaritas fed our wanderlust souls as we celebrated 10 years of love and marriage. What a beautiful life we’ve created, John. Cheers to many more years!
On March 13th, 2020 the world shut down due to the spread of COVID-19. School was canceled and we were asked to shelter-in-place. Thus began quarantine 2020. Originally, it was suppose to be for two weeks which then lead to a month and then just kept going into the summer. It was/still is a time in life we will never forget. We can’t imagine the stories we will tell or the books they will write about this incredibly complicated time in history when a global pandemic took over the world.
The Mellor family grew to love quarantine 2020 and we still miss the simplicity of never leaving the ranch. The hours blended into days and the days blended into weeks and I’m still not sure what happened from March until July. And that is what we miss; the hours and days that just became one and nothing else mattered but being together and safe and… what was for dinner. Of course, there were moments when I completely lost my cool and everything was thrown out the window, especially with online homeschool. There were also the moments when the kids learned to scrub toilets as we cleaned the entire house together. We felt exhausted and completely fulfilled through hard work that connected us to the greater good of our family. I would like to say we had a tiny taste of how our past generations lived life – just forced by a pandemic for us.
We’ve never felt more incredibly grateful and sustained to live in Park City. The term “love where you live” is still ringing in our ears. We miss Europe and airplanes and the excitement of travel, but Park City has shown up for us in every way. We are lucky to have amazing friends and schools open to see us through to the other side. We can’t wait to see what that new world looks like, post-pandemic. As I’m writing this at the end of October, cases are surging all over the world and breaking records in Utah. It’s starting to feel scary again; the great unknown of what this looks like come December makes us cringe. However, we figured it out before and now we might even look forward to the next time our family quarantines at Mellor Ranch… as long as we continue to avoid getting sick. Who knows, we may even get to eat those 200 frozen burritos John bought back in March 😉
We hope all of our family, extended family and friends continue to stay safe and healthy. We hope our country learns from these tragic and confusing times. We also hope our family never forgets quarantine 2020 and knows we now hold this secret super power called “quarantine”. Until this never happens again…
Some of our favorite journalistic photos below… not necessarily in order because it really all does blend in (and there were like 500 good photos). Feeling overwhelmed with gratitude to be alive and to live on through these moments.
We love Christmas card season! It’s always a fun way for us to capture a theme for the year in a photo. This year did not disappoint.
“Grandma, watch out… don’t get run over by a reindeer or Charlotte and Johnny!”
-The Mellors, 2019
More photos from the shoot:
We had the wonderful opportunity to go to Kauai in October for John’s niece’s wedding. Hawaii + family = bliss.
Most days we woke up before the sun to hunt for shells and critters in the tide pools, sometimes in our pajamas. As we made sand castles, we watched the clock, waiting for Starbucks to open. We eventually forgot about time and soaked in every juicy moment. There were crabs, sea cucumbers, geckos, fish, a giant toad, and breaks for shaved ice to top it all off. Our back flips and diving skills were perfected and the whole family even went down the water slide.
One of our favorite days was an incredible hike up to Secret Falls with Uncle Roy, Aunt Patrice, and cousins Timothy and Jesse. It started with a kayak trip down the river and then hiking for miles through mud … literally. We finally arrived at the Secret Falls (which it turns out aren’t so secret) where we took a dip to clean off and enjoyed a picnic lunch. It was a messy, magical day!
Of course the icing on the cake, was the wedding. Emily and Jordan chose a special spot in the woods of Kauai where they had a lovely ceremony and were pronounced husband and wife. Afterward, we all spent the evening at a beautiful dinner where Charlotte and Johnny got to act like grown ups (with their own coloring books) to celebrate the newlyweds. We were amazed to see so much love. It will forever be engrained in our memory. We were grateful to witness such a special event.
Congratulations to the newlyweds and thank you, Hawaii, for all of your beauty!
Wolf Creek has become that little place we can call a home away from home. It’s only an hour away but far enough that we have to pack a bag and never see humans. Maybe that’s it. Words only fall short from here… it’s quaint, removed, majestic, the quiet place in your head, a little bit of work, the journey, our place. We catch lizards, sleep in a yurt, fish in the daytime, ride four-wheelers, get really dirty, skinny dip in the pond, cook hot-dogs over the fire, constantly try to perfect our marshmallow roasting, look for new constellations, and wake-up happy.
Summer… we love you, long for you, and wish you never left. I suppose that is part of your appeal. So here you go, a collection of pictures to possibly keep you close to our hearts all winter long. Come back soon:)
Things to remember: John taking the whole summer off of work. Daddy was elevated to sainthood in the eyes of Charlotte and Johnny (and myself). I hope we never forget this blessed time in life. We went to Italy and Paris and spent amazing moments in Wolf Creek, but our souls need to remember life with daddy all day at home on the ranch. Johnny never came inside, critters and reptiles were caught, four-wheelers became normal, wranglers made sense all day, sunsets were discussions of color, fireflies were put in jars, the creek was the newest member of the family, a baby raccoon was fostered, baby bunnies were rescued from Ginger, and then somehow days turned into weeks. Our family existed at a new level of wholesomeness and simplicity. No turning back now.
Oh and the summer dinners every night outside should also be remembered (seen below).
The first part of summer was spent at a family reunion for John’s family at Rockin’ R Ranch in Southern Utah. Pictures below:
Back at the ranch: