Life By The Pool. . .it's just BETTER!

Nov 28, 2015

Visiting the San Jacinto Monument and Museum and the Battleship of TEXAS

Last Wednesday we went to the San Jacinto Monument and Museum and the Battleship of TEXAS.  Once the clouds disappeared we had a beautiful windy day.

It's pretty awesome to have your grandkids homeschooled and be invited along for the lessons.  :)  History is so much more interesting the second time around.

On May 13, 1846, the United States of America declared war on the United Mexican States.  In response to this declaration, thousands of individuals mustered in volunteer regiments across America to join the Regular Army to fight for the Stars and Stripes.  The official cause of the war was both the American annexation of the Republic of Texas and the border dispute between Mexico and the new state over whether the national border was the Rio Grande or the Nueces River.  Texas claimed the Rio Grande and Mexico claimed the Nueces.  After the Mexican Army fired and killed several provocatively placed American soldiers sent into the disputed area along the border by President James K. Polk, the President asked for and received a declaration of war from congress.  The two years of fighting that followed was a valiant but ineffective defensive war for Mexico, after which a huge portion of their nation became American territory.

These paintings and displays were in the lobby of the Monument.

Due to the heavy clouds it was hard to see very far into the city out of this window.

The other side provided us with a clearer view.

How lucky is he to be exposed to so much history at such a young age.  He loved all of it.

After we finished looking out from the top of the monument we went to the gift shop.  Uncle Brad bought Mr. W a Longhorn which Mr. W renamed to "reindeer".  He knew it was a Longhorn but he insisted on calling it a reindeer.  He thought it was so funny.  He definitely made us laugh.

From there we went into the gallery that showcases the Museums Permanent Exhibit Hall.  There are period artifacts, documents, prints and photographs that tell the story of Texas.  In one of the cases there were rules for Mrs. America.  The two that I remember are "keep a positive attitude and keep company with people of same as your attitude will become negative" and "do not fall in to rut of cooking same dishes over and over".  I laughed.  We are so guilty of the second one.  Imagine that way back then the ladies were told things similar to now.

You can walk or drive the Battleground and relive the famous battle for Texas Independence.  There are granite markers that designate important sites of the Battle's events.

Ms. A and Sweet P are learning about the weapons they used in fighting the war.

Much to Uncle Brad's demise, Mr. W went up and down this ramp many, many times.  It's funny how a child knows who they can get away with stuff.  Uncle Brad is definitely Mr. W's buddy.

I love this pic.  He is grinning so big because he thinks Uncle Brad can't catch him.  Ha!  The joke is on him.

And of course the girls wanted to do it, too.

Next we toured the Battleship TEXAS.  The Battleship TEXAS is the last of the world's "dreadnoughts," the big-gun battleships designed and built at the beginning of the 20th century.  When she was commissioned in 1914 TEXAS was the most powerful weapon in the world and the most complex product of an industrial nation that was becoming a force in global events.  She is now the only surviving U.S. naval ship that served in both World Wars.

TEXAS served in World War I as part of the Battleship Force of the Atlantic Fleet. She participated with the American squadron in maneuvers in the North Sea against threats from the German High Seas Fleet.  A gun crew of TEXAS sailors loaned to the SS MAGNOLIA, a merchant ship, fired the first shots of the U.S. Navy in the War.

However, Battleship TEXAS saw no combat action in World War I.  After the Armistice on November 11, 1918, TEXAS sailed with the GrandFleet, escorting the German Fleet to Scotland for surrender.

In 1925, TEXAS underwent major modifications.  Modern oil-fired boilers replaced her older coal-fired boilers; a single stack replaced the two originals used to vent boiler smoke; stronger tripod masts replaced the original cage masts; and six of her 5-inch guns were moved from the second deck to the main deck aircastles.

Torpedo blisters were also added as protection against torpedo attack.  She emerged from the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1927. as the flagship of the American Fleet.  For the next 12 years, she steamed the Atlantic and Pacific, representing American naval power.

The stairs are very steep and very short.

We ended our day at Gringos Mexican Kitchen.  One of our favorite places to eat.

Hope you are enjoying the holidays.

Take care,



Nov 27, 2015

Happy Holidays and Welcome to Our Holiday Open House Day 3

Welcome back!  I am so happy to see you.  I want to hear about your Thanksgiving.  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving visiting with your friends and family.

We had a nice Thanksgiving.  Our menu changed as no one was delivering pizza (grateful they were not working).  :)  We had ham, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, rice dressing, rolls and candied yams.  For dessert Brad brought home made pies his grandmother made.  There was a pecan pie, pumpkin pie and a chocolate pie.  And if that wasn't sweet enough there was vanilla ice cream and cookies and cream ice cream to go along with your choice of pie.  I have photos to share with you a little later.  Maybe a bit later.  :)

Can I get you a piece of home made pecan pie before we get started?  What would you like to go with it?  A glass of sweet tea, coffee or maybe a glass of  milk?

Today I've chosen Matthew West's "A Christmas to Believe In" for you to listen to as you go through the photos.  I hope it brings back happy memories of loved ones that are no longer with you.

Today we'll continue our holiday tour in the family room.  The tree in the family room is the largest tree in our home at nine feet tall.  I am not sure what I was thinking when I said I wanted one so tall. It definitely wasn't thinking of fluffing a tree on a ladder.  :)  I have to say this tree, as tall as it is, is the easiest and fastest tree to decorate.  I attribute it to the decorations being so big.  They take up a lot of space on the tree so it goes much faster. 

I guess if I was to give this tree a theme name it would most likely be "Southern".  There are magnolias, fleur de leis, crosses and angels.  The largest angel is approximately 24 inches tall.

I bought the burgundy deer at Hobby Lobby.  I bought the other ornaments so long ago I don't remember where they came from.  Like ten or twelve years ago.

I found these gold fleur de leis at the Christmas store Santa's Quarters in the French Quarters in New Orleans when Brooke was still in high school.  I bought three of them.  They are about 10 inches tall.

There are three different angels of various sizes in the tree.  The smallest is 12 inches tall while the other one is 18 inches tall.  If you look closely you can see a glass grapevine.  These are placed all around the tree.  I also have magnolia floral swags throughout the tree.

I bought the Merry Christmas banner at Dillard's nine years ago.

Immediately to the right is the kitchen with a wrap around bar.  This is where I place my St. Nicholas Square village from Kohl's.  Many years ago the hubs and I decided we wanted to do a village so we went to Kohl's and went nuts.  They had everything 50% off and we got a little carried away.  Since then we have added a few pieces.  I love putting together the village.  I take my time and try to make it look as authentic as possible with the space I have.

We'll start on the right side and make our way around.

First we have the Christmas tree lot.  You can't have a village without a tree lot.  :)

Next we have a train station.

I love this little Warming House.  I imagine myself walking through the snow to get some hot chocolate.  Isn't he a sweet brother to pull his sister on his sled?

Here we have children building a snow man and snow skiing.

Michelles Cookie Factory is Mr. W's favorite.  He is always asking someone to pick him up so he can see.  :)  Uncle Bradley was extremely patient with him on Thanksgiving Day as Mr. W kept asking him (during the Dallas Cowboys game) to lift him up.

And of course this is Main Street.  :)

This reminds me of A Christmas Story where the little boy is double dared to put his tongue on the flag pole and it gets stuck.

Brooke and Brad gave me the Home Depot building last year.  I love it.  You probably make as many trips to Home Depot as we do.

Jake's Produce is making a delivery to the local diner.

Jack's's like a throwback to the 50's.

No town would be complete without someone fishing.

I love this St. Nicholas Square.  If I designed a town square it would probably look something like this with lots of stone work.

I'd have the largest Christmas tree for miles around with free photos with Santa.

"It's a Wonderful Life" is playing at the local theater.  Would you like to go with me?

I have my own personal Christmas Shop.  :)

Southern men are such gentlemen.  I love being from the South.

It wouldn't be Christmas without Santa ringing his bell.

Arriving home after a day of shopping....

A bakery with home made pies.  Yumm!

A beautiful scene on the grounds of the church.  Everyone is gathered together on Christmas Eve singing Christmas songs.

Here's a look back at the village on the bar.  I am sure by now you think I have lost my mind.  That's okay I am quite happy here.  For me, it is all about the details.  They tell the stories.

The hubs bought this Believe sign at the Nutcracker Market a couple of weeks ago.  It looks great under the bar.

And here we have the fireplace.  This year's design came together purely by accident.  We had a different Santa picture that hung over the mantel and this year I hung it up with the correct hanger that could hold up to 100 lbs.  But that didn't keep it up there.  No came down with a HUGE noise and shattering glass.  There was a hole beneath the one I put the nail in and the weight of the picture caused the nail to go down to the hole below and it fell.  I was decorating in the kitchen when I heard the noise.  From the sound of it I knew exactly what it was.  There was a huge mess and it took me a while to clean it up.  Praise God there was no hole in the wooden floor and I did not cut myself on all of the glass shards.  The picture took out two angels on its way down so I had to come up with a new design.  I purchased the new Santa picture at Kirkland's the next day.

I already had these cute little elves in the game room so I recruited them for the mantle.  The tall elf was in the breakfast room so I pulled him into the grouping.  The red trees have always been on the mantle.

I had already bought the lighted Joy sign this year at Michael's at 40% off.  I was going to place it on the patio.  The sign was purchased last year at Cracker Barrel.  It used to hang on the wall we removed so it needed a new home.  Voila!  I put them together and fell in love.  I think they are adorable.  Definitely an accident that was meant to happen.

Here are some closer shots of the garland.

The angels we lost were similar to this one hanging in the garland.  The only difference was they stood on their own while this one hangs.

The gold snow flakes are my favorites.  I bought them at Hobby Lobby a couple of years ago.


I love the way it turned out.  Don't you?

I believe in Santa.  Do  you?  If you say no you are getting underwear for Christmas!!!

One thing I learned over the years is if you have a collection of something it makes a bigger statement if you make a grouping rather than spread it around your home.  I love looking at my Santa collection.

This little Rudolph came from Dollar General when Brooke was little.  He is so darn cute.

Here's a closeup of the decorations around the fire place.

My sister-in-law Debbie bought this Santa for me years ago when they first moved into their home.  It  was a thank you gift for decorating her home for her open house and also for Christmas.  He needs some new boots.  His boots dry rotted.  :(

Just in case Santa isn't sure I've left out a Santa hat reminding him I have been really good this year!!!

I have no idea where I bought this sled...I've had it for years.  The stuffed animals have been around for a very long time, too.

This large Santa hat came from Cracker Barrel years ago.

This log home reminds me of where we have stayed as a family at Artesian Lakes.

I bought these pillows at Pier One three or four years ago.  The snow flake pillow is my favorite.

I love having Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus as the center of our room.  I got them at Kirklands so many years ago.  They have held up really well.  I love having them displayed on this beautiful gold mirror.

I can't begin to guess how old this tic-tac-toe game is....

Here is a sample Christmas card I received in the mail at work.  I cut it the shape of my frame and have displayed it ever since.  Now that's what I call cheap decor.

I love this Santa.  He is much prettier in person.  I purchased him at Dillard's before Ms. A was born.  Almost 10 years ago.

Before we bought the Chevy Chase village I used to refer to this one as the Christmas Vacation home.

Our backdoor rug was purchased at Kohl's for $4.99 three years ago.

I believe this sums it up "the most wonderful time of the year!"  I more than likely got it at Home Goods.

I just bought this OCD decoration at Cracker Barrel.  I knew I was OCD.

Here's looking back into the family room from my bedroom.

I hope I haven't bored you with the details.  My goal was to share with you that it doesn't matter where you buy your decorations.  You can use anything to decorate.  Even cute stuffed animals.

Thank you for stopping by.  Tomorrow we will be touring our master bedroom and bath.

I hope you are finding all the sales you want this Black Friday.  As for me...I'm hanging out at home enjoying the day with you.

Take care and many warm hugs to you,