Katie and Natalie loved to read and learn.
The Joy of Summer Reading. Guest Katie Sieben.
I was thinking how much I use to enjoy the summers when Natalie was in high school because we would relax and read her summer reading list together….Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Girl With the Pearl Earring, Ethan Frome, are a few very memorable books. Summer was such an active time and she was always racing off to morning and afternoon swim practice, but then there was summer reading. The time to unwind and read a good book ended up being a chance for us to relax and take turns reading to each other. Oh, how I loved scratching her arm and feeling her beautiful soft skin while she’d read to me. It was a chance for me to re-read the classics or read something for the first time as well as uninterrupted time together and something to share. When Natalie lived in Richmond she was influenced by the zest for reading that her dear teammate had. The good things you do rub off on those around you. Katie Sieben certainly influenced Natalie to not only keep up on the reading, but to taking it to the next level. When I asked Katie what books Natalie was reading she knew immediately. “She was reading two books by Candice Millard: The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic …the first is about Teddy Roosevelt’s journey along the Amazon River and the second is about James A. Garfield and his presidency/assassination. “
I use to read to Natalie and she use to read to me. It was so comforting. And I take such comfort in knowing how much she enjoyed Katie reading out loud to her. How amused Natalie was that Katie had a list of 150 books on her TO-READ list. They may have been the only 2 people who thought the Lincoln movie was too short. They were thirsty for more information and used to joke that they would have facts for days on any topic!
Katie introduced us, and Natalie, to an organization called Room to Read, and its website can be found @ roomtoread.org an organization that helps change the young children of the world through education, and has already helped over 10 million! Simple donations through monetary funds, or literature donations are always helpful. Katie is aware of a program where you can donate a certain amount of money, and have a school built for children. It’s just one way to contribute to this world.
My hope for you is that you all find a book that helps you escape, increase your vocabulary, teach you new facts and make you never want the book to end. And I hope you find a buddy who helps you engage in life, reading, and interests to develop an impactful friendship, all through reading.
Remember the words of Katie…..you can never know enough!
Natalie was a huge fan of any historical facts and especially enjoyed Titanic information. Here Michael plays along with the movie reinactment.
How wonderful to find a friend who enjoys reading out loud to you.
Recently I was visited by one of my oldest and dearest friends growing up. You know the type, you can go years without speaking and pick things up in one sentence. I guess there is a reason for that. These are the precious few friendships we have that have deep seeded roots. We go back. We know our history and our families. We know where they came from…
I find these treasured friendships worth more and more to me. I know these friends stand by me and feel the deepness of our sadness over our unspeakable tragedy of losing Natalie so suddenly and unexpectedly.
I love that my children including Natalie learned to swim and enjoy summers at the same club that we did as children. Natalie was always filled with joy.
Yes, Say Yes, Yes You Can…Guest Alison Wylegala
Alison Wylegala is the name of the friend I am referring to; but to me she will always be Bink. I love nicknames and will take full credit for giving her that one when we were kids. Not only did she come from NYC to be with our family for the funeral she was also changed. The homily at Natalie’s funeral given by Father Joe Rogliano spoke of saying YES to God’s plan for us. Fr. Joe said that Natalie had said Yes to God in the way she lived her life. It stirred inside Allison’s heart. She returned to NYC and said Yes to teaching.
How ofter do teachers ponder if they are making a difference when you ask the students to be quiet for the tenth time while speaking? How often as parents do we wonder of we are instilling the proper lessons to our own children to guide them through life? The days are long. The years are short. And even as friends, do we think we matter in the lives of our friends by showing up and taking the time for a phone call or visit.
Yes, you make a difference. And it is profound. And it will stay with those touched forever. I don’t think that grandparents realize how much their influence is needed in today’s world. A homemade dinner, the lack of electronic gadgets, a slower pace, a well kept home, all add to a much needed relaxed calmness in our lives.
Today, Alison tells us about the joy and frustrations to teaching. Today, I simply want to remind you to say Yes to God’s will for us and to remind you what an incredible difference you make by being and giving to this world.
Back when we were 15 and 16 years old and were known only as our nicknames…Poncho and Bink
Here we are today ….Poncho and Bink in our 50’s….Thank you Bink for returning to the classroom and saying YES
Jesus left nothing behind but love and examples of how to lives our lives. Jesus never left behind a building or a sculpture or anything in His name. He left behind only the message of love and forgiveness. He was our savior and had a close circle of disciples who He loved and they loved Him. His disciples begged Him not to go but Jesus reassured them He taught them everything they need to know.
Who has gone before you that you can learn from because you admired the way they lived? I’m certain we all have someone who left a lasting impression on us. I am sure you have a parent or grandparent, sibling, friend or child or someone who has touched you in how they chose to live their life. I’m sure at times you think that you are not strong enough to go on without them. Yet, if you can incorporate lessons you learned from their lives, in many ways they continue to live inside of you. There will always be moments that make you pause not to take it for granted because someone you miss is not here with you.
Living Like Natalie Showed Me. Eleanor Clay. Thanks for listening.
Eleanor and Natalie enjoying a summer day at the Chautauqua Institute
Today I introduce you to Eleanor. Natalie and Eleanor were best of friends growing up. Eleanor has moved out to the LA area of California and works at the exciting FOX studios. She is a certified public accountant and was an outstanding competitive swimmer in high school (Nardin Academy) and college (American University). Natalie and Eleanor also swam together on their club team, the Tonawanda Titans, and bonded over practice, car pools, away swim meets, pool decks, and post practice showers and laughter in the locker room. But, that’s just the surface. It’s been almost two years since we have seen each other, so when she recently walked into our house where she has spent so many days and nights with Natalie, without any warning the tears just flowed.
Julie, Eleanor and Natalie. The 2 childhood friends that Natalie always made time to see when home from college.
The last picture taken of Natalie and Eleanor taken on Saturday, April 19, 2014. She is pictured here with Michael at their engagement party. Eleanor said she took a train, a plane and an automobile to get here..but nothing would stop her from being here for Natalie and Michael.
Eleanor keeps her love of Natalie alive by incorporating 3 of her memorable traits to show others.
1. Natalie’s competitive spirit that included support and nurturing. She saw how Natalie wanted everyone to reach their full potential and that hard work turned into joy when you succeeded.
2. Natalie’s love of learning. She took flawless notes, did not care that other’s thought it was not cool to be so eager to learn and to be front and center in a tour. Natalie took in everything the world had to offer.
3. Natalie’s faith was her anchor for giving to other’s. Natalie had so many inspiring ways that she serviced others and always was thinking “how can I make someone’s day better?”
We are so proud of Eleanor in her career and life choices. It’s living out the messages that a she has learned from Natalie that she keeps her alive in all of us. We are not too busy for a post-it note or a word of encouragement. Thank you for striving to “do good things” and be our best version. As long as one baby is born today, we witness another miracle here on earth.
We like all like flowers in our garden. Today I am going to introduce you to the green thumb behind the beautiful window boxes and gardens on our street. Beth McKee is here to offer insight into the world of flowers that we may not know. Beth truly finds joy in making her yard so beautiful. A funny thing about landscaping, once one neighbor starts improving their yard, it becomes contagious and next thing you know the whole neighborhood is looking great!
Add Beauty To This World By Planting Flowers. Guest Beth McKee Episode 43
Beth shares with us some tips about her favorite perennials, annuals, and gardening tips.
She wants us all to know that perennial flowers are easy to grow. How can you beat flowers that come back year after year. Here are 3 recommended perennials that are low maintenance and beautiful at the same time.
2. Black eyed Susans
The Black Eyed Susans is a low maintenance perennial flower.
Here are Beth’s 3 favorite perennials at this moment because after all the favorites change all the time…
1. Clematis-beautiful climbers.
2. Primrose-first to bloom, all colors; also pink evening primrose-spread/multiply and bloom forever.
3. Astilbe -come in light pink, dark pink and white
From Beth’s garden, healthy and happy astilbe.
Annuals are bright and colorful and are perfect for our potted plants.
3 favorite annuals for Beth are:
Petunias look great in pots and are such a colorful and beautiful annual flower.
1. Add new fresh soil and peat moss every couple years at least and Lay 1-2 inches of mulch black or brown Mulch in early summer after the helicopter seeds drop and before the plants get too big to get in and do that. Keeps moisture in and weeds out I don’t like the red mulch- I don’t think the red mulch highlights the colors of the flowers, as well.
2. Plants perennials, not annuals. Less expensive in the long run; easier
3. You can’t just walk away after you plant- must weed on a regular basis are the next thing you know your garden is completely out of control. Mulch helps suppress the weeds but it’s not a foolproof barrier.
Beth enjoys the ease and beauty of mostly perennials at her home.
Flowers add to the beauty of this world. Thank you to our friend Beth McKee for helping to make this world more beautiful and for being such a wonderful neighbor and friend.
Here she is…my gardening expert Beth McKee trying to figure out what is growing in my pot!!
Geraniums make a great impact when clustered together. Here are the pots on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo that I mention in the podcast that offer such beauty it stops traffic.
Eye catching garden on the corner of Potomac and Chapin in Buffalo.
Added bonus..a glimpse of the Hershey rose garden.
You cannot help but feel such gratitude for the contributions that Milton Hershey made to our world when you visit Hershey, PA.
Every morning when we begin a new day, no matter how well we have our day scheduled, no matter how lock tight our plans are, we really have no idea what the day will bring us. The best way to face each day is to “put on the armor of God” and to be open to whatever we face as we go about our day.
Today, Robert Agbo, a seminarian for the Buffalo Diocese from Nigeria, speaks to us about keeping out heart open.
Episode 43. Be Open. Guest Robert Agbo
Robert Agbo with Caoline and Katie celebrating a birthday.
In addition to what Robert has inspired us with, I reflected on the importance of being open and have come up with three reasons to always stay open:
Being judgmental comes from a place of fear. with an open heart you keep your mind open to new experiences, new ideas, new inspiration. With that comes change, and most people do not like change of some sort. Fear of change can grow inside us and manifest as judgement toward other’s actions, when, in the truest form of reality, it feels so good to be open and try a new experience. Sometimes you love them, sometimes you..don’t, but you will never learn what makes you heart happy unless you try. And you might come out with a funny sitcom-like story if it’s not for you!!
Being open means loving yourself. By being open, we are not just being open to new experiences, we are being open to teaching others. By loving ourselves, we can share ourselves, teach others, and learn from others. How many of us have moments in our life where maybe they did not change the course of our life, but we always think back to a statement or comment or bible verse that becomes engrained in us? And that person who said it, probably has no idea the impact they have left on you. You never know who you will inspire today; Love yourself, love who you are, love your teachings, and change the world.
Being open helps you grow. Without openness, we are denying a wonderful gift that God has given us, the ability to grow outside of our body. The mind we have been given, gives us the opportunity to challenge ourselves and expand our ideas. Without this gift, we never would use the term “word of mouth” or Pinterest would never have taken off so well, just futile examples of how little things in our everyday life can show that we are open to new ideas.
Robert enjoying a visit over to our home with Evan Jr.
Stay open. Sometime life begins outside of our plans. Open to God’s will for us. Open to others. Thank you for reading and listening.
Hello June. Birthstone the pearl. So fresh and new.The first month of the summer. We all cannot wait to embrace and enjoy all that you have to offer. The beginning of the summer is so exciting and happy. We welcome summer. We can grow weary of summer and look forward to the Fall when the end of August rolls around. But now, we can hardly wait to experience summer and the glory of June, but as June unfolds I wanted to create a blog with 5 things I love about June.
5 Things I Love About June
Episode 41. 5 Things I Love About June. Guest Pam Strickland Strawberry Jam
White, light pink and fuchsia pink all give us spectacular graceful large flowers, so colorful with fragrant blooms. Do not be turned off by the ants, they are attracted to the sweet sap produced by the peony bud, I mean, wouldn’t you be if you were that small?! This is a flower you can count on to be hardy and come back year after year with exceptional blooms. Peonies in a vase make for an eye catching arrangement. Certainly flowers from a florist are always a delight but when you can enjoy a vase from the flowers from your own garden…it’s so satisfying.
Beautiful peonies from the garden getting ready to open their graceful pedals.
The Longest Day of the Year June 20 or 21
This summer solstice is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year. For June 20, and again June 21, which is actually the first full day of summer, Buffalo will enjoy just over 15 plus hours of daylight. More light means more time outdoors. Time to swim, swing, and play outdoors. Look Up! Look at the sky, the clouds, the glorious sun rises and sunsets.
More daylight means more times out doors!
There is no question we need dad’s and it’s important to make them feel appreciated. Dads really give your family strength and there is nothing like a man sitting at the end of the dining room table. Encourage the men out there, we need them. If your relationship with your own father is strained, remember your Father up above is there for you, your creator who loves you more than you can fathom.
My Birthday Month.
How often do we think that birthday celebrations are just for kids? I’ve changed my way of thinking since it is so important to appreciate the life we have been given and to embrace our age. This year, I invited 3 other women who I knew shared birthdays around me out to dinner. What a marvelous time we had. It’s always good to broaden your base of friends and enjoy the company of others. Make your own happiness, it is a choice. Instead of always expecting our spouses and our family to host our birthday dinner, initiate one yourself. Reach out, connect and make a new memory. We all are smiling in this picture and we have all suffered our own heart ache, but we have all made a choice to go out and be together and enjoy our connection.
Strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, strawberry jam. Get them while you can! When July rolls around all the fresh home grown strawberries will be gone. There is nothing like tasting the sweet goodness of June strawberry jam in January. It makes you so thankful for this beautiful month of June. Let’s make a strawberry pie, it is so simple, we can even buy refrigerator crust at the grocery store. Listen to my dear neighbor and friend Pam Strickland talk about her tradition of picking strawberries and making jam.
Here is Pam in her kitchen showing off the fresh strawberry jam she has just made. Pam is such a wonderful person reaching out and sharing her jam with others.
In a world that it is easy to complain about the heat, the business, and anything that comes up, it is important to stop and remember how special each month is, and how lucky we all are to experience another month, in another year. This day, this month, this life is a gift. Thank you for being part of my little life.
We all want to look good in pictures and today we are getting tips from my sister, Anne Cronin. She is being her best self by taking pictures to make people look their best. What a gift. Hey, we all have seen unflattering photos of ourselves and it certainly doesn’t make us feel very good. Anne is here to make us feel good and learn a few tips. In life, a treasured photograph can be your best possession, a focal point in your room, and a snapshot in time that can evoke memories in your heart from the day it was taken. She has her own photo business and you can check out her work on her web site here.
Look Good in Pictures! Guest Anne Cronin Professional Photographer
Now, after looking at those photos on Anne’s website and oo-ing and aww-ing at her beautiful photos that are all complementing, let’s learn from the professional.
Here are the Top 5 Ways to Look Great In Photos
1. Drop your shoulder and bend. This is surprisingly complementing
Notice the dropped shoulder, the bent knee and the chin slightly down. Standing up straight is not the way to go.
2. Look for door frames, arches and interesting architectural details.
There is something captivating about photographing someone in a door frame. The photo turns out very inviting, yet also dramatic. The way the light hits your face brightens the forefront of the picture, but the dark background serves to brighten the lighting on your face more.
3. Hands in your pockets men! Men tend to fold their arms across their chest and look up slightly. Not too complimenting. Better to use your pockets and keep your chin slightly down.
This picture has architectural detail plus notice the chin slightly down with the hands in the pockets. The relaxed feeling you have in front of the camera will transcend into the photo, which is much more complimenting than an up tight photo.
4. Go Outside! Morning light and an hour before sunset are the most complimenting light. Mid day is tough, find shade. Pictures taken outside are more flattering than with a flash indoor.
Interesting clouds and close to sunset all make for good lighting. No need for sunglasses or squinting of eyes. Relaxed and comfortable.
5. Shoot High to Low. If you want to look slender, it’s best to shoot from above. If your face is closest to the lens the rest of your body will be farther away from the lens and give the illusion of being more slender.
Focus on the face from above is a very complimenting angle.
So there you have it…top 5 tips to look good in photos. Don’t stand straight, bend! Drop a shoulder, bend a knee, and keep your chin down. Find a door frame, an arch or something interesting architecturally. Go ahead and put your hands in your pockets guys! Outside light is better than a flash inside and nothing beats the hour before sunset light, but if you are inside and there is lighting, turn toward the light! And the last tip for a complimenting angle is to shoot high to low.
Hey, we all want a complimenting picture of ourselves. Thank you Anne Cronin for sharing your expertise with us, and giving this Earth your talent!
Nothing means summer to me more than swimming in an outdoor pool. It’s something that I look forward to all year.
Swimming and being happy is synonymous with Natalie.
The benefits of swimming are many!! No wonder it was the sport that Natalie loved the most.
Laps For Nat. Saturday, June 11, 2016 Just Get In the Swim!
This Saturday June 11, 2016, is something called LapsforNat. It’s an event that was initiated by a University of Richmond Alumni Swimmer Mary Adams and was embraced immediately by the swim community at Richmond, and in Buffalo.
It is simply a way to honor Natalie. All that is required is to jump in a pool, a lake, a body of water and do something good for you…SWIM! It’s not a fundraiser. No money is involved. It’s simply a way to remember Natalie and do something good for you too…which is swimming. If you are alive and have the ability…seize the opportunity! The best part about it is there are no requirements for swimming X amount of laps, all swimming counts. Wether it be one lap, or one hundred, LapsforNat is a way to remove yourself from the stress of life, and remember and honor someone who brought so much to the table. Our lives are richer because of her being in it, and this unifying event can exponentiate the effects of happiness.
The fun part is posting pictures and videos on social media with the hashtag #LapsforNat, unifying an event that can literally happen anywhere in the country, or world, at the click of a button. A simple picture and hashtag, proving all of our hearts are in the same place that day.
I’m forever grateful for this simple yet brilliant idea. Get out there and swim.
The benefits of swimming are enormous.
Swimming is fun. Swimming is something you never outgrow, and when you get to an age when you feel you need relief on your joints, it feels great on the knees and hips! It’s so refreshing and invigorating. You are literally immersed in quiet vast water, engulfed in weightlessness, and it truly takes you away from life outside of the pool. There are no computers in the pool, or phones, or texts, or election updates. It’s an escape. It’s a place to clear your mind and improve your muscle tone. A chance to play; There is nothing like doing somersaults in the water and doing handstands.
I marveled at Natalie’s dedication to the sport of swimming. Competitive swimming is tough. Swimmers train 10,000 hours to drop .01 second. Crazy! I do believe that swimmers are of course the cleanest athletes with no dirty fingernails, and also has a shiny gold shimmer to their hair as a result of the countless hours in the chlorine pool. Swimming is so good for your lungs, your muscles and is so good for you mentally to immerse yourself is water that is lower than your body temperature. Swimming is the sport that you can do no matter what your age. Maybe the hardest part is just finding a pool.
Sometimes when I am at mass the song “Healing Water” is played. It’s a beautiful song. I think of the healing quality of water and think of the swimmer who loved water so much. Here is the refrain…
Healing Water by Trevor Thomson
Healing water flow over me
Mercy’s water renewing me
Mercy’s Ocean transforming me
Healing Water Renew Me
Thank you for swimming. Thank you to all the great swimmers out there. Thank you for living your life with goodness. And for remembering with gratitude those who have gone before us.