Sunday, December 21, 2008


Bob was chosen as part of a group that received awards where he works. He has to go to a meeting in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico in Feb. staying at an all inclusive resort. Gratefully, he is taking me with him. His company needs heads shots of the two of us. We were practicing with my new Nikon D40 camera which Bob and our kids bought for me for my birthday a couple of weeks ago. It's awesome! Thank you Bob and kids.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The night was very cold. Brooke's Mom (Joy) was keeping her warm with her coat wrapped around her.

We didn't get photos of Brooke's Dad (Rob) but he was there and so were Grandpa Bob and Grandma. (me)

It was a fantastic evening and one we will always remember.

I'm not sure if the students realized the rare opportunity they had to perform on such a stage but I think the parents and teachers did. I know the students will one day look back on it and realize it as a treasured memory.

It was mentioned that athletics are good for the body, academics are good for the brain and special arts are good for the soul.

Brooke and Austin

Brooke's brother is one of her biggest supporters.

Brooke after the performance.

Brooke is in the 2nd to last row and the 12 person from the left.

The songs performed were:

"All Is Well" by Michael W. Smith and arranged by John Leavitt

"Merry Christmas to Me" by Andy Beck & Brian Fisher

Arthur Busby, Violinist

Beautifully Done!

Waiting in anticipation.

Let the show begin!

The performances were given by: North Oaks, Haltom and Watauga Middle School Tenor/Bass Choir

North Oaks, Haltom and Watauga Middle School Treble Choir

Haltom High School A cappella Choir

Richland and Smithfield Middle School Treble Choir

Richland and Smithfield Middle School Tenor/Bass Choir

Birdville High School Chorale

North Ridge and North Richland

Middle School Treble Choir

The Bass Hall in Fort Worth, TX.

A world renown performance hall and the setting for Brooke's School Christmas Choir program.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Water rushing toward the south -
Waves flowing from it's mouth -
Whitecaps appear and disappear -
Smashing against the pier -
Why the hurry to get around the bend? -
Just to suddenly stop at the lake's end.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I've been blog binging. So, I will leave you for a while. Looking back on just the past week and a half makes me realize that I have so much to be thankful for. I probably would not have been here if it were not for my heart surgery last May. Look at what I would have missed! I first thank God, second my heart surgeon, Dr. Hammon of Dallas Baylor Medical, and my family and friends who were there supporting me during surgery and recovery. I appreciate you all so much.

Carrie and Rob (sister and brother)

We were excited to have Carrie with us for Thanksgiving. Carrie lives in Illinois very close to St. Louis. She has been so gracious to have Bob and I as guests many times as we traveled to Chicago and Indiana to visit family. Carrie has two beautiful daughters.

Peyton and Brooke (Cousins and my Grand-daughters)

Brooke just turned 13 and Peyton will be 13 in February. They are holding my neighbor's dogs.

About 12 years ago when Brooke was about to experience her 2nd Christmas and Peyton to experience her first Christmas I was inspired to write a song about being a Grand-Mother at Christmas time. Here are the words to that song and when I can technically figure out how to get a video on the blog I will sing it for you.

Please consider this a season's greeting from me.

"Santa's Coming Back To My House Tonight"

Christmas this year will not be the same -

Toys and a tree circled with a train -

Cookies and milk on the table tonight -

We're expecting someone before the early light -

It's been a long, long time since I've shopped for toys -

It's been a long, long time since I've heard the noise -

from the laughter of children that echos through -

our house of love because of someone new -


"Cause I'm a Grandma now, what a delight -

Santa's coming back to my house tonight -

'Cause I'm a Grandma now -

Oh what a sight! -

Santa's coming back to my house tonight -

Santa's coming back to my house tonight!

Tamara and Liam

Tamara lived with us during her senior year in high school. Her parents, (our good friends) moved to Australia and it was Tamara's wish to finish her education here. We were blessed to have her. She says she is "our little Fetta." We are "Grand Fetta" to her son Liam. Isn't he just the cutest!

Brent, Angie, Chris, Robert (top row)

Howard and Donna (on the bench)

Donna is Bob's X-wife and the mother of my step children Robert and Angie. We have shared in parenting them since Robert was 10 and Angie was 8 years of age. Chris is the son of Donna and Howard. We get together on special occasions. This has worked well for us. My daughter says we are the most functional, dysfunctional family she knows.

Angie and Brent live 15 minutes from us and we see them often. We don't see Robert very often because he lives and works quite a distance and his work schedule is opposite ours.

We also celebrated Robert's birthday in November. Robert is the assistant General Manager at a well known restaurant in Dallas. He is single. He travels often, sometimes with friends, and sometimes alone. He is very adventurous. He has climbed mountains, runs in races, and too many things to mention. He also appreciates humor.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another sunset on Eagle Mountain Lake

When day is done and the turkey is gone. The picture is blurry but the subject is too funny to pass up.
John, Jack and Casey

Jane, Joy, and John
As the mother of these young adults I can't say enough of how proud I am of them. They are all married with children, responsible, with hearts of gold.
We celebrated John's birthday in November. John was an outstanding athlete while growing up. Now he assists his children in their athletic activities. He also plays on a local baseball league. John's gift is his humor and his interests in others.

There is a tower about a mile from our house. As we were driving by Mary Ann took this picture. It's full of turkey vultures. Kind of creepy!!! I was wondering where they go when they are not out cleaning up the countryside.
Mary Ann got her camera out again to take this picture. This is near our house. I'm not sure what the story is on this but someone is catching some pretty big fish in the lake.
It's rare that our immediate family is together at once.
From left to right:
Jane, John, Casey, Robert (behind Casey) Brooke, Peyton, Brent (behind Peyton) Angie, Benny, Joy, and Rob.
(front row) Bob holding Jack, Me, (Barb) Jake, and Austin.

We celebrated Andy's 9th birthday while he was here. He really enjoyed fishing. He said it was as good as being at Disney. What a complement!

Joyce, seriously fishing.

Click on the picture to enlarge and you will see the look of determination on Joyce's face.

This is me with Andy and Joyce in the seats behind me at the local airport having breakfast.

This is Mary Ann and Bill. One of the things we did while they were visiting was go to a local airfield and have breakfast. It's fun to sit there and watch the planes come in and out.

Last week we were visited by Bob's sister Mary Ann, her husband Bill and their children Andy and Joyce. Also on Wednesday we were joined by my daughter Jane, her husband Ben and their son Jake. They are all from Chicago.

The picture to the right is Ben and Rob, my sons-in-law and my daughter Jane over seeing the project.(one of the finished turkeys)

Thawing the turkeys

Friday, November 21, 2008

In case I do not blog for a few days I leave you with a beautiful Texas Sunset on Eagle Mountain Lake. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and enjoy your holidays.

My sister Rhoda and her husband Rob both worked for the school system in Florida for many years. They changed their careers to cross country truck driving a couple of years ago after Rob was layed off. Every once in a while we get to visit with them when they have time while making a stop at the Grapevine terminal. Last week they spent the night. We had dinner at a local Italian Restaurant. This is Rhoda browsing through a book on Italy and relaxing. I think she looks expecially nice in purple!

Rob, Rhoda's husband is holding Baby.

This is "Baby",Rob and Rhoda's dog.

Baby is a truck driving groupie and loves to travel.

We did really well at the craft show especially since it was not open to the public. They placed us in front of the fish aquarium.

With the exception that I got up at 4:30 AM both mornings it was a fun experience.

I had to show you these adorable carts that they use at the pre-school. They only need a couple of carts to push their entire class around. The kids are so cute. They really are people too with their individual personalities. The girl on the left pushing the dual cart is Helen's daughter Janette. She teaches the toddlers.

This is my friend Helen. We share in the same addicting love for fusing Glass. This is a private school craft show that we exhibited in together. Helen's grand-daughters attend this Baptist Pre-School near Plano.

Helen and I also share in a love of Tex-Mex food and try and meet for lunch at one of many of our favorite Tex-Mex Restaurants once a week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not only is Brooke stunningly beautiful but she is just so sweet! She is also very neat and is helpful to her Mom with domestic chores around the house. Her most special gift is her compassion for others.
I'm going to interrupt our trip to Rome again. There are many photos and stories about Rome but current events take precedence.
Happy Birthday Brooke!

Today my oldest Grand-daughter turned 13. Wow! She is a teenager!

She made straight A's on her report card, sings in choir, plays soccer, basketball and takes horse back riding lessons. Horses are her passion.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bob and Lee

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Barb and Bob throwing their coins in the Trevi Fountain.

It was a beautiful evening with a bit of romance in the air. Even though there were many people sitting and standing around it seemed like the fountain was just for us. The rhythm of the water flowing, the smell of freshness in the air, the night lights, it was magical!

Lee and Maria standing in front of Trevi Fountain

"Three coins in a Fountain"

C Dm7/G
Three coins in a fountain,
Dm7 G7 CM7
Each one seeking happiness,
C C/B Am7 Am7/G D7
Thrown by three hopeful lovers...
Fdim G7 C6
Which one will the fountain bless?
C Dm7/G
Three hearts by fountain,
Dm7 G7 CM7
Each heart longing for its home;
C C/B Am7 Am7/G D7
There they lie in the fountain,
Fdim G7 C6
Somewhere in the heart of Rome.
FM7 C9
Which one will the fountain bless?
Fm Fdim(III) Dm7 G7
Which one will the fountain bless?
C Dm7/G
Three coins in a fountain...
Dm7 G7 CM7
Through the ripples how they shine.
C C/B Am7 Am7/G D7
Just one wish will be granted;
Fdim G7 C6
One heart will wear a Valentine.
F Dm7 Fdim C(9)
Make it mine, make it mine, make it mine.

Trevi Fountain

The fountain was completed in 1762. The central figures are Neptune, flanked by two Triton. The sea horse symbolised the two contrasting moods of the sea.

Friday, November 14, 2008

St. Peter's Basilica

Painted Dome in St. Peter's Basilica
(a continuing chapter of our trip written by Maria Cheney)

After satisfying ourselves that our luggage was safe and sound, we decided to visit a church, the Basilica of San Clemente, located about two blocks from our hotel. The basilica contained some very fine mosaics that date back to the 13th century. Many parts of the church are under restoration but the mosaics could be seen in all their glory. The church was small, but quite lovely; its courtyard, rather dilapidated, hopefully, at some point, they’ll work on restoring this as well. We concluded our visit and walked back to the hotel where we grabbed a taxi to take us to a mall.

The conversation with this taxi driver was one of our most challenging because we weren’t sure how to say shopping center, or mall. Robert finally found it in his little phrase book: Centro Commerciale. We ended up close to the airport, far away from the city, in what turned out to be our most expensive cab ride. The mall had a very strange appearance, and didn’t look like any mall we ever saw. The place looked deserted, and from the outside, there were some store fronts that didn’t look very promising. We finally turned a corner and then it began to look like we were in the right place. We found a store called, auspiciously, “Scarpe e Scarpe” (Shoes & Shoes). Sure enough, it had a lot of shoes. Other things as well, such as exercise clothes, underwear, accessories . . .

And then the quest began. Barb tried on a lot of shoes, but nothing seemed to work, until finally she found a pair of lace-up sports shoes, rather fun looking, with metallic silver finishes, and best of all, she said they were very comfortable, except that one size was too tight on one foot, and the next size was too large on the other foot. Bob decided that the solution was to buy two pairs, one in each size. He paid for the shoes and Barb decided to wear her new shoes to walk around the mall. She took a dozen steps outside the store when she realized that the new shoes were killing her back. The shoes were too flat, and she realized then that she needed a little lift in the heel to ease pressure on her back. These shoes were not going to work, so we went back into the store to return them.

The store would not credit Robert’s credit card. They would only give him store credit. They said that if he had paid cash, they would be able to reimburse him, but because it was put on a credit card, their hands were tied. We asked for a manager, but none was around, and the sales clerks were determined to help Barb find another pair.

So, the quest was renewed. Barb tried so hard. She tried shoes, she tried slip-ons, she tried boots, shoe after shoe after shoe after shoe. Now several clerks were helping her. More shoes. Another clerk ran and got inserts. More shoes. Nothing was working. One of them suggested that maybe Bob should get a pair of shoes instead; Bob didn’t want to. And Barb kept trying – shoe after shoe after shoe after shoe. I could feel her frustration and her embarrassment. At one point we looked up and noticed that there were five sales clerks helping us. Bob wanted to take their picture but when he suggested it they scattered. More shoes. Finally, Barb found a pair of boots that, together with a double insert, sort of felt O.K., but they were less expensive than the previous purchase so she still needed to buy more things so make up the difference. So she also got a pair of slip-ons that she could wear at home, a pair of sunglasses and an umbrella. When it was all brought to the register, we were still ten cents shy of the full amount. None of us cared. We just wanted to be done, so the sales clerks figured out how to get around the difference and finished ringing us up and bagging the shoes.

I can only imagine how Barb felt, and I was frustrated for Barb, but I’m sorry to say that, not being at the center of the problem, I enjoyed the experience. I got to practice my Italian a lot that afternoon. I loved watching and listening to these ladies talk, laugh and try to communicate with us. The sales clerks were thoroughly delightful. They all tried so hard, and they really wanted Barb to find her shoes. They were funny and engaging and vivacious. Barb and the guys might remember the experience quite differently, but to me, that was a rare moment on the trip, where we suspended being tourists, and instead, became travelers.

Barb wore her new shoes the next day, but I don’t think they were really supporting her ankle, and for most of the trip she ended up wearing a pair of sandals that she brought from home.

This picture shows how long the halls are in the

Vatican City Museum.

One of the tapestries in Vatican City Museum

Inside Vatican City Museum

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bob and I with St. Peter's Basilica in the
background in Vatican City.

Lee and Maria with St. Peter's Basilica in the background.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Arnaldo Pomodoro's Sphere

This is located in the courtyard of the
Pine Cone at Vatican City. It was bronzed for
the Vatican Museums in 1990. It measures
4 meters in diameter.
As written by Maria Cheney:
Technically, there is no charge for obtaining tickets to attend a Papal Audience, but if you want good seats, indeed, if you want any seats, you had better go as part of a tour group. The tickets cost about $40 each and included pick up at our hotel to the Tour Office, ride in a tour bus with a guide that explains the rules in multiple languages, including where the bus will be waiting to pick you up should you decide to return with the group at the conclusion of the tour (a lot of people choose to stick around the Vatican area), escort to a very expensive religious articles store, where you can purchase medals, rosaries, etc., so the Pope can bless them, and then an escort through St. Peter’s Square, to a section reserved for tours where you get decent seats to watch the drama unfold. All told, there were over six thousand people in attendance at the Audience we witnessed. Papal audiences take place only on Wednesdays so that’s why we had to move up our trip by one day.

I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but I knew that there would be a very large crowd, so my expectations were low. Perhaps because of that, I was pleasantly surprised and moved.

It began with the sighting of the official Vatican guards, dressed in a uniform designed by Michelangelo. These guys were not actors, albeit the costumes, they were serious guards from an elite Swiss army corps. They were young, serious, and looked like they meant business. They were also tolerant of the tourists snapping their pictures.

The Pope arrived and began circling the circumference of St. Peter’s Square in his Pope-mobile. He stood up and smiled and waved at the crowd and was generally received like a superstar. Secret Service-type guards rode inside the vehicle and ran along side it, in much the same way, ours do next to our president’s car. They even wore the requisite dark glasses. Lee and I wandered if there were sharp-shooters hidden behind any of those statues that line the top of the columns in the square. Everyone was standing up now, trying to take pictures, holding their cameras high over their heads, hoping to snap a picture of him. It was hard to see anything at this point, even the large screens that they’ve added to the square to improve the view of those in the back weren’t helping much with everyone standing.

Eventually, the crowd settled down, and the ceremony continued. High ranking church members, in different languages, introduced the crowd to His Holiness. It went something like this from the English-speaking prelate: “Your Holiness, on behalf of the English speaking people of Great Britain, represented by pilgrims from the Church of So and So from Wales, the Sisters of Charity from Convent XYZ in Scotland, pilgrims from the Church of St. Paul in London, (and so forth, a long litany of everyone attending the audience from Great Britain, followed by the United States and Canada, followed by any other English-speaking countries represented that day) we offer you greetings, etc. . . . “ Every time he mentioned a different group, that group would stand up, cheer and wave to the Pope. Sometimes they waved bandanas, or flags. Occasionally they broke out in song. Yes, that is correct. Some groups had songs prepared to sing to the Pope and they did so when their group was mentioned. The prelate waited until the song was over, and then continued his recitation. When the English speaking version was concluded, then the process was repeated in another language; on and on in Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Polish. I can’t quite remember if I covered all the languages. This, as you can imagine, took quite a while, but I was thoroughly entertained. It was people watching at its best.

Next came the turn for the Pope to speak. He had a very nice, short, general message about what it meant to be Church. It wasn’t the buildings; it was the community of people that gathered that made it Church. He spoke for about ten minutes, but repeated the message in every language mentioned above.

The ceremony then concluded with the entire crowd praying the “Our Father” in Latin (printed in the back of the ticket). The Pope raised his arm and blessed the entire crowd. The Pope’s blessing was extended to family members, especially children, and to any religious articles you may have been holding.

For me, it wasn’t a deep religious experience, but it felt joyous. The crowd was respectful; we were referred to as “pilgrims” not visitors or tourists, there was a sense of inclusiveness in this enormous “Church,” the fact that the Pope chose a message of love and understanding, the fact that the whole ceremony was imbued with rituals, made it all seem very comforting. When it was all done, I didn’t feel like running out of there. I wanted to linger and enjoy the sights a little longer.

We met Barb and Bob, who had arrived that morning, for lunch at a restaurant not far from the Vatican, called Cesare’s. I can’t even remember what we ate there. We explained to them about our luggage and how we needed to return to the hotel after lunch to see if our suitcase had arrived. If not, we were going to have to go shopping for some clothes. Barb expressed an interest in buying a pair of shoes because the boots that she had brought were lined in fleece and were very warm. She was hoping to find more comfortable walking shoes. When we returned to the hotel we were relieved to discover that our suitcase had showed up, but Barb was still interested in getting a pair of shoes, so we all agreed to go to a mall and do some shopping. This turned out to be one of the greatest adventures of our trip. I better save this story for another chapter.
Bob and I left Chicago October 14th, 2008 to join Lee and Maria (Bob's brother and his wife) in Rome. They left a day ahead of us. Maria has written a few chapters of our experiences that I am going to include with the photos.

Rome Vacation