What a Year! – July

The Mellingers came to celebrate summer and Independence Day at our house. It was sunny and special and the kids had a blast.

Balloon popping game!

Man-made shade.

The girls are so cute!!!

Cute kids!

A rare sighting of the cute preteen Jordan! Also, a sneezing Brian! haha

My hair continues it’s various renditions.

On the night of the 4th of July – I checked on Daniel after dark and he was still awake and wanted to know what the noises were. So, I picked him up and he experienced his first after-dark fireworks. The new neighbors bought some ENORMOUS fireworks that went off in the sky over us in huge flowers. Daniel was so excited and enamored. He’s been asking about that ever since!!! In fact – I think he’s learned all his months now, because he’s counting months until fireworks again.

Anna has been working more on photography… learning about framing, focus, background blur, some of the camera settings and so forth. The little raised flower beds we put in the front yard were a good location for most of these!

I made patches for the kid/teen sized hiking backpacks!

For Anna’s 13th birthday, we gave Anna and one of her best friends an envelope of cash and a few hours at Walmart followed by a big purchase in the ice cream aisle. Then she stayed at her friend’s house for a few nights. We’ve been quarantined except for immediate neighbors and a few intermittent visits with family, so this was an especially big deal. Also, it was a great hit.

Two teenagers (teenagers!) with birthday money and the whole of Walmart.

A special few hours spent with a dear friend while the teens shopped.

Coco is big enough, he’s starting to look like a cat!

Our many blueberry plants were weeded and mulched this year and watered and…. we got so many wonderful berries! I enjoyed many quiet hours out in the sunshine, picking blueberries. Sometimes Jordan would join me and throw grass and watch the chickens, but he’s pretty naughty outside, so usually I was alone. Our thornless blackberries (which we planted in 2018, I think?) are doing wonderfully and produced some of their first berries this year! They weren’t amazing in flavor and had big seeds…. but I’m still hoping that we’ll love them. And they ARE completely thornless!

Our blueberries did wonderfully this year!

Brian keeps the backpacking gear in his office and Coco discovered an empty backpack one day…. and returned daily for awhile after! Funny kitty.


I know I have more pictures somewhere…. but Brian successfully led a whole troop of kids up Siouxan Creek for an overnight backpacking trip! He slept in his hammock (I think for the first time) and they got rained on overnight, which stressed Brian so much that he dreamed he had to hike all the kids out in the dark most of the night. Poor guy. It was a hit with the kids, though, I think. We learned a bit about what to pack (more food, swimsuits too). My dad and brother-in-law went also! Really nice to share a favorite spot with them.

Daniel was seen up at the Casey Eye Institute and the doctor did not push for a surgery to correct/strengthen/stabilize Daniel’s lazy eye. He IS still using both his eyes up close and will sometimes use them together at a distance. His last doctor was leaning towards a surgery… so this was good news. It was going to be a difficult decision for us. While lifelong improved vision by having both eyes working well together is very important… so is avoiding trauma and allowing for as much pain-free, doctor-free, hospital-free time to develop as a person. He doesn’t have a background of a stable home to lean on to get through medical stuff. Anyway – glad the doctor is not even recommending surgery at this point.

Ooh! I found more pictures from the hike!

Siouxan Creek

Wet clothes!

Making a dam! Too bad denim basically never dries.

Good times!

We had no idea there would be fires here in September…. still hoping these woods and paths are intact!

They were dry inside the tents!


The end of July was our annual family camping trip! We all go for nearly a week to a lakeside tent camping spot and spend the days swimming and eating and reading. We’ve been reading one Harry Potter book a year and this year, we started The Order of the Phoenix. It was a bit of a rush getting to the campsite this year… I had mistakenly put it on the calendar for the end of August, when it was really at the end of July! Ah! It worked out, though! And thanks, Sherrie, for the cot! I slept really good for camping!

Happy, dusty home for the week!

Cooking is awkward, but it always seems to taste good regardless.

I got to spend a lot of time reading, listening to podcasts, and journaling.

There are a few reasons why I love camping… because, it is dirty, it is inconvenient, and it’s really annoying if crows wake me up in the morning.
1. I’m outside. All day. All night. It’s so cathartic.
2. The kids are outside. All day. All night. They seem to expand and relax and play is so much easier.
3. It’s beautiful. Our campsite is not that pretty… tents and dirt and over-trodden ferns, but the lake. And the sky. And the trees. Oh, it’s gorgeous.
4. Swimming. I get stuck in a rut a lot, even when I’m camping, so I make a point to jump in the water at least once a day. AHhhhhhh – it’s so fun! I love it!

Sunrise from our campsite.

Mid-morning… on the first morning, kids were in the water immediately after breakfast!


In the “bathroom” box, getting toothbrushes in the evening.

Sun not even up, but the girls are off and exploring!

Too bad it’s blurry! Jordan’s new wheelchair was great! He preferred to be in his tent, but when he was out, so long as things were outside arms reach, he was safe and comfy.

More dirt means more fun, right? He LOVED it. Yes, he’s happy despite his expression here.

And they’re off!

I don’t remember the story, but I loved the result.

My favorite naturalist.

Daniel begged constantly to roast a marshmallow, despite the fact that he’s not safe with pointy things or fires… and doesn’t eat marshmallows. ha! We gave in a few times anyway.


He loves blowing out any accidental flames or even just cooling it off.

Two of my favorites!

Heading “home!”

Successful and strong adventurers!

See what I mean about dirt? Oh – and he lost a front tooth while we were there!

Loved our Safe Place Bed for Jordan! It was tricky to keep him warm, since he doesn’t get into sleeping bags, but I think it was successful!


Here’s where I sat and wrote letters while keeping an eye on Jordan. He likes to throw rocks at people, so we have to stay pretty far away. He didn’t want to go deep, but I was ready to chase after him into the water if necessary!

Almost ready for bed.

Photo credit: Anna

My parents came and spent a couple days with us!!!

My mom gives the BEST back rubs or scratches!

She and I got to have a really nice and long visit about life, the universe and religion and truth. Was special.

Goodbye for this year!
Photo: Anna

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