Happy 4th of July!

IMG_0396I think it’s worthwhile to write this post anyway, just show how FAST this year is going, and how SLOW I am to keep the blog updated… (Kids – when you read this later realize that Mommy loved you but is only human.)

For now, I’ll keep that little secret to myself and let them think I’m SUPER HUMAN!

Now back to our nation’s birthday.

Most years we go to our friends’ house in Long Beach (this year was no exception) for a pool party and BBQ, and they never disappoint. Ella is not yet swimming (though as of the writing of this post, she’s getting CLOSE!) but with a life vest on, she’s fearless, making the pool a fun summer choice for the Johnsons.

I’ve been taking an Aqua Tabata class my husband found at a community college very near our home. Before you ask “what’s a tabata” (the most common question I get):

Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high-intensity interval training. Eight rounds of high-intensity exercise are performed in a specific “20 seconds on, 10 seconds off” interval. This method was started in the 1990s by Japanese professor Izumi Tabata. He began using this training to train speed skaters for the Olympics. Studies have shown that a Tabata routine is an extremely effective way to boost metabolism. What makes Tabata unique is that it can be done with any type of cardio. It’s the perfect high-intensity workout for both fitness and weight-loss benefits.

Depending on my travel (and stress and general life busy-ness), I’ve gone on/off since last August and really enjoy it. For our class, we’re suspended in 13-feet of water, wearing a life belt, and the point of this story is that a) often on Sundays Bart will bring the girls for “family swim” in the far end of the huge pool where I do Aqua Tabata and b) Ella has been practicing her swimming with Bart and Zoe for much of the summer there.

Anyway, there was swimming going on for 4th of July as well, with our little Ella in her “oops, it’s too big but I do not want to take it off!” Wonder Woman swimsuit:

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And both girls (though I only got a picture of one – YES, they move that fast!) wearing the same 4th of July dresses I bought them TWO YEARS AGO… What a hit!

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There were sparklers in PJs to end the night, and my 2nd favorite part (after spending time with our friends we adore) of our Independence Day family tradition is driving home along the freeways to our home with fireworks going off ALL AROUND US on the way home. It’s amazing.

This year was particularly awesome – our timing was perfect, and we literally saw fireworks all the way home, ending with a finale over Universal Studios near our house. But the backyard sparklers with $3 Target “American Flag” hats were pretty cool, too:

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As I look through pictures from July, it’s pretty much a blur. Following 4th of July on, Mommy (hey, that’s me) traveled a lot – to San Francisco, then Portland, then Boston for various work functions.

In Boston my work travel happened to coincide with the loss of a dear friend, Kelly Moeller, who lived there and had struggled for 4 years with a rare autoimmune disease called Guillain-Barre, a disease that’s very public right now due to an NFL player being diagnosed a few days ago.

I had the great fortune to be in the ICU room with Kelly when she passed and though she was not conscious, I held her hand for hours and would not have chosen to be anywhere else. She was surrounded by friends and family, and there was so much love in that room, I cannot explain.

I’m still reeling from the experience, so I’ve not written about it and am sure I could never do Kelly justice. She was an amazing person who before and after adversity brought LIGHT to the lives of so many with her wit, her incredible sense of humor, and her desire to help others. I hired her almost 9 years ago and vividly remember connecting with her immediately in our interview, like we’d known each other for years.

She trained hundreds of people at our company, even after struggling with sight issues and needing a wheelchair to get around. She made the most of whatever her circumstance and rose above it to bring her best. I remember her like this, with a mischievous, radiant smile that was infectious and lit up any room:

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My children never met her, but I hope one day they read this and know life is filled with CHOICES – and so, two thoughts I really love:

  • We can’t control what happens to us, but we CAN control how we react to it. That’s our choice, and Kelly made some incredibly tough ones that I will always admire.
  • Bring the JOY. This is also our choice, and what we do has a profound impact on others, as Kelly showed how to make ANY moment an experience.

Well, I got pretty far from 4th of July there, but LIFE will do that to you, I suppose.

So today, I choose to hold my children a little closer and appreciate the time we have together, and my hope is that I can honor Kelly’s gift to me – the reminder to LIVE every day to its fullest and to be present, even when it’s hard. I have a lot of good reasons to make GOOD choices – especially these two!

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5 thoughts on “Happy 4th of July!

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