Learn to SwimToday with Dara Torres

Learn to SwimToday with Dara Torres

*This post is sponsored by MomTrends and SwimToday.

I had the incredible opportunity to spend the afternoon at Northside Swim Center, with SwimToday ambassador, Dara Torres, five-time Olympic  swimming champion.

Through SwimToday, teams nationwide are inviting new swimmers and families to experience the sport with incentives such as free swim team trial periods, customized swim caps and promotional materials from kits sent to 1,500 swim teams to use locally. Parents can learn more about participating teams and find those nearest them by searching their zip code at www.SwimToday.org.

43 tips, tricks, cheers, & hacks
Click on the image to download the PDF!

Quick Tour of Swimming with Dara Torres

Reasons to SwimToday

Swim meets can be great family experiences. Each child gets to showcase and celebrate their skills and hard work. If your child can:

  • Has your child completed the highest level of their learn-to-swim program?
  • Is your child at ease and able to swim in deep water for extended periods of time?
  • Can he or she swim at least one length of the pool (25 yards) using side-breathing freestyle and/or backstroke?

Then your child is probably ready to join a competitive swim team!


photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence

Part of the message Dara is trying to spread is the benefits about swimming with a team. Gear recommendations from a star studded Olympic athlete include:

  1. Girl or boy practice suit – used during workouts and made of strong material for durability
  2. Goggles – protect your babies’ eyes from chlorine and ensure they have a clear view of the pool
  3. Swim Cap – designed to keep the swimmer’s hair out of their face

Learn all about it in SwimToday’s Parent Guide.

photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence

Both Dara and Michael Phelps (interview here) could not believe what an incredibly swimming facility for Northside students (and the neighboring community, learn about the “Open Swim” hours here.) The facility was built using funds from School Bond 2001 and opened to the public in 2006. The facility has a 50 meter by 25 yard competitive pool, and also hosts public programs like fitness swim and swim lessons. There’s also an indoor practice and warm up pool. I was also surprised to see such an amazing facility. Make time to go the next time the swimming nationals are in time, like the Phillips 66 National Championships.

photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence

SwimToday provided all the bloggers with a great list of reasons kids should learn to swim and be encouraged by their parents:

  • It’s closer than you think – 62 percent of families live within 10 minutes of a pool; 52 percent of households with combined income of $50,000 or less report they have access to a pool nearby
  • Everyone participates – Swimming is inclusive, there are no benchwarmers (nor benches)
  • Swimming is a team sport – Only 16 percent of non-swimming parents view swimming as a team sport but parents of swimmers associate the sport with teamwork more than any other sport
  • Suit up and go – Only a swimsuit, cap and goggles are necessary to get started
  • Life skills – Swimming increases self-confidence, self-esteem, time management, goal-setting and social development
  • Easy to learn – 76 percent of parents said the ease of learning to swim was high
  • Low risk of injuryNo contact makes for a safer environment
  • Swimming = total body fitness – Burn 650 calories in an hour – more than walking, biking or team sports
  • Sport for life – Once you learn to swim, you can enjoy no matter your age
  • Swimming is FUN – Parents confirm that swimming is the #FunnestSport[i]

[i] 2014 State of the Competitive & Fitness Swimming Industry Report by Sports Marketing Surveys

photo credit: Colleen Pence
photo credit: Colleen Pence


Learn more:

SwimToday Facebook and Twitter pages and view original content including videos, blog posts and celebrity Q&A’s on www.usaswimming.org/swimtoday.

Additional Local San Antonio Blogger Coverage

photo credit: Mario Cantu

photo credit: Mario Cantu

Ever notice how people can attend the same event and learn completely different ideas, tips, and experiences?  Check out blog posts from my friends and fellow San Antonio bloggers including:

Best Stove Top Popcorn Recipe

Best Stove Top Popcorn Recipe

This morning I was excited to see that in addition to Fruitful Hill Farms‘ normally offering they also cobs of dried popcorn for $1.50. (Organic popcorn!)

One husk left me with a hearty 1/3 cup of kernels. I broke these off the husk by hand, starting at one end and popping them off to the other into a bowl. I wanted to rinse off the dirt and little kernel hairs so I swirled them around in the same bowl with some water until the sediment settled. (Similar how you’d clean rice…)

I made sure to dry the kernels before putting them in hot oil…in a handful of paper towels. I added 3 tablespoons of Canola oil to my 3 quart dutch oven on medium high.

Best Stove Top Popcorn Recipe

You can see that I left three kernels in the pot as the oil became hot enough. I used Canola oil because of the high smoke point (Canola oil can withstand high temps before burning.) Once the three kernels popped (and they popped right out of the pan!) I added the remaining kernels in a single layer in the pop. I took the pot off the heat while I added them and swirled the pot around. I also added some kosher salt at this time so the salt would more evenly be distributed on the popcorn.

Best Stove Top Popcorn Recipe

I had read several different variations of the recipe online so I experimented a little. Some left the pot covered and some said to leave a crack with the lid slightly ajar so that the popcorn would be dry and fresh. I left the pop completely covered, bringing the temperature down to medium heat. After a minute or two the pop started popping excitedly so I left the lid ajar for the remainder of the cooking, only a couple more minutes after that. Just like microwave popcorn I took the pop off heat once the popping subsided.

I shook the pop a little while it was cooking to move the kernels around. I would say there was about ten kernels that didn’t pop so I might have only slightly took the pop off heat at the end.

Best Stove Top Popcorn Recipe

I made several different bowls for my family. For Jaden I sprinkled truffle salt and garlic. For Jonathan I sprinkled a sweet, smoked Paprika and cayenne pepper. For myself, I enjoyed a bowl of garlic, truffle salt, and cracked pepper popcorn.

The popcorn was fresh and delicious! Recommend this recipe to anyone with some dried kernels! (Get them fresh from your local farmers market!)

Quick Video Tutorial

What are your favorite seasonings to add?

Shuck Shack San Antonio

Shuck Shack San Antonio

This past Tuesday I was incredibly excited to get to try Shuck Shack, the latest venture in the Dady restaurant family. They had a soft opening on July 3rd and came out guns blazing with the grand opening on the Fourth of July. Since seeing pictures on social media from the Dady family trip to Boston, Bar Harbor, Nova Scotia, PEI, Quebec City & Montreal in 2013, I was excited to see how the inspiration translated back in San Antonio, TX! When we visited on Tuesday night, it was a complete family affair. Chefs Jason and Jake were delivering food, having team meetings, cooking in the kitchen, and attending to new restaurant stuff. Jason’s wife, Crystal Dady, celebrated as San Antonio Business Journals 2013 ‘40 Under 40 Winner’ manages all of the Dady restaurants, staying on top of the bookkeeping and everything else was also there helping deliver dishes to tables and warmly talking with guests. All three of them stopped by to not only offer us a fantastic tasting of the Wagyu Beef Tartare playfully topped with an egg and potato chips but just to check on us and how we were enjoying the evening. Chef Jake Dady’s lovely family was also there enjoying their fifth meal there in five days? 🙂 (Just giving you a hard time Shyler <3!)

Where: 520 E Grayson St, San Antonio, TX 78215

Phone: (210) 236-7422


shuck shack san antonio

As you know I am a proud early adopter of all things culinary and the only negative about attending violin camp in Dallas with my daughter was missing out on the restaurant previews. Luckily my husband and I had a date night scheduled (and after attending the local chapter of Thunderbird School alum group at the Friendly Spot, and a QUICK drink and appetizer at Feast) we got to Shuck Shack around 9pm, just in time to watch most of the Gold Cup soccer game on their big screen TV inside the restaurant.

There entire area is surrounded by a low fence so that you can contain your kids and pets (and over eager friends…) There’s a playground like many other Dady restaurants (remember they get the importance of bringing kids to food finds.) There are seafood alternatives for more landlocked friends including deviled eggs, hushpuppies, Tijuana hot dog, fantastic burger from 44 Farms, and a couple other delighters. Patrons have their choice of New England oysters that can be enjoyed served raw but also served Rockefeller, Texas BBQ, and Casino (have no fear I will update this post with pictures and reviews once I go back for those!) The Mignonette sauce that is served with the raw oysters is so good that even after the oysters are devoured I dip whatever I can to finish it off. Its a refreshing blend of red vinegar (probably) with shallots and pepper. (I’ll see if I can get the recipe.)

Although this place is brand new everything we ate was SPOT ON! You don’t have to wait for this well oiled machine dream team to get it together. They’ve brought chefs, bartenders, and servers from their other establishments like Tre Downtown and Umami, respectfully RIP. Great atmosphere, food, and experience. I’ll be recommending this spot to all my foodie friends.


  • Tuesday – Thursday 5pm to 10pm
  • Friday 5pm to 11pm
  • Saturday 11am to 11pm (thank you for opening at 11am AND not later! Nice to visit after the Farmer’s Market!)
  • Sunday Brunch 11am to 5pm

Pictured below: Limonade, a fantastic vodka cocktail that comes with a limon paleta — so refreshing and good!

shuck shack san antonio shuck shack san antonio shuck shack san antonio shuck shack san antonio

Click to add a blog post for Shuck Shack on Zomato

The General Public and Bowl & Barrel

The General Public and Bowl & Barrel

Always an early adopter and supporter of new restaurants in San Antonio (and beyond!) I wanted to include pictures, video, and notes from my most recent culinary adventure to the new restaurant in Northwest San Antonio, at The Rim. Both components are physically located next to each other, you do have to physically exit one to enter the other. Remember that the Rim also has a four story parking garage behind the restaurant/bowling alley (don’t tell my brother in law you heard about the garage from me.) If you don’t park in the parking garage you’ll be fighting for a couple of parking spots with the movie theater crowd which is already crazy.

At a Glance

Here’s a 45 second montage of both the restaurant and hipster bowling alley:

The General Public

I really like the modern industrial decor of this new restaurant. Created by Dallas natives and SMU grads, Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz, they were ready to create a concept in San Antonio. You’re greeted by bright, natural light streaming through almost a way of windows. There’s a soothing navy blue theme throughout the restaurant that encircles the large wooden bar in the middle of the restaurant. You can see their menu influenced by craft cocktails and happily sourced ingredients with lots of fresh or homemade components visibly displayed. Their restaurant group, FreeRange Concepts includes Dallas restaurants, Mutt’s Cantina.

Websitehttp://www.thegenpublic.com/ (has not been recently updated.)

Find their menu, here.

  • Day drinking encouraged! BEFORE 5pm, enjoy $4 Rose wine or Rusky Rose cocktails (include vodka, lemon juice, house Grenadine)
  • Fun menu with locally sourced gastro-pub dishes
  • Attentive staff quickly respond to refilling, ordering, and removing dishes

As with all new establishments, the back and front of the house are working on getting in-sync and smoothing out their chemistry. Remember to smile and be patient. On future visits, I definitely want to dig into their Honey Fried Chicken with a cayenne crust and honey glaze as well as their Mama’s Tamale Pie with guajillo and ancho chicken chili, toasted cumin, cheddar cheese & cornbread crust.

And don’t forget, if you’re celebrating their dessert features “Birthday Cake”!  Imagine a wedge comprised of three thick layers of sheet cake stacked between generous smears of white icing topped with funfetti colored sprinkles on a BEAUTIFUL, cute cake platter. (I was too far away from the table that ordered the cake and when I’m eating out with my sister she prefers for me to have boundaries when I take pictures.)

You can also join them on their social media channels:

The General Public and Bowl & Barrel

The General Public and Bowl & Barrel
The General Public and Bowl & Barrel

Hipster Bowling Alley

Opening in June 2015, a month before The General Public, is Bowl & Barrel. Although coined “boutique bowling” on the website, my sister and I have affectionately called it “hipster bowling”, the fun, chill vibe, pervasive throughout the lanes.

The General Public and Bowl & Barrel


  • Monday – Thursday | $12 Half Hour/Lane ($24/Hr)
  • Friday – Sunday | $18 Half Hour/Lane ($36/Hr)
  • $5 Shoe Rental Per Person


  • Sun-Thurs | 11 AM – 12 AM
  • Fri-Sat | 11 AM – 2 AM

As I was checking the place out with my sister I overheard a family with young kids pleasantly surprised to hear that bowling shoes are not only available for adults but also in toddler/kid sizes. There are 15 lanes and on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, only three of the lanes were being used.

You don’t have to be an experienced bowler to enjoy boutique bowling. You just have to like having fun. Bowl & Barrel is San Antonio’s first upscale bowling alley — and it’s the perfect destination for your next corporate event, birthday party, fundraiser or casual get-together. Whether you’re hitting the lanes with a few good friends, or looking for the perfect San Antonio event venue, you’ll love our fifteen world-class bowling lanes, full service modern American tavern, and one-of-a-kind beer hall.

Here’s a link to the food menu.

Click to add a blog post for The General Public on Zomato

2015 Must Have iOS Apps

2015 Must Have iOS Apps

Over the past couple of weeks I have had hours and hours of road trip miles to download hundreds top iTunes chart apps (out of boredom) across multiple categories and these are the apps that stood out to me. Most of these are free, a couple a paid apps but well worth it (to me.) What did I miss?  I’d love to hear back from you on some stand out favorites!

Download the 2015 Best iOS Apps


Life’s most important numbers available at a glance by Numerous, Inc

So this app was created by two people who love visualizing the data. Of course we are surrounded by numbers every day but there is so much for us to consume that it can definitely be overwhelming. After downloading this app you’re prompted to add little widgets/tiles on the customizable screen. You can create custom countdowns (I created a countdown until my daughter leaves for college — not because I want her to leave but because I don’t want to take for granted how little time I have left with her!)

Part of the beauty of Numerous is seeing numbers in context you might not normally.  Its one thing to be able to see what the temp inside your house, according to your Nest is. But put that temp next to how hot it is outside and you have additional value!

Here are the some of the tiles I have customized:

  • Counter until my daughter leaves for college
  • Number of steps taken each day
  • Temperature of my house next to the temperature of the weather outside my house
  • Distance i currently am from my house in San Antonio (so you always know how far from home you are)
  • Connect to external apps like Google Analytics, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Countdown until the new Star Wars Episode 7 movie

Some things to remember:

  • Landscape mode shows graphs of the numbers over time
  • Swipe left to see update privacy settings, customize labels/pictures
  • Use the “+” sign to add tiles to your screen, hold down to move to a new screen, very similar to the iPhone layout


DO Button by IFTTT by IFTTT

For those that have heard me talk about IFTTT know how much I love it!  Check out details here. Basically, “If THIS happens, DO THIS.” Fully customizable it allows you to connect hundreds of sites to hundreds of other sites. (For example, whenever I post a picture to Instagram, a tweet is also published with the actual picture, not just a link to the instagram post.)

DO Recipes run with just a tap and enable you to create your own personalized Button, Camera, and Notepad.

  • DO Button empowers you to create your own personalized button with just a tap. Save time and control the world around you with Recipes that connect your button to Philips Hue, Google Drive, Nest Thermostat, and hundreds of Channels you use every day.
  • Basically it is saving you multiple clicks by customizing a button in an app to do what you wou




I have been going CRAZY for this app. You can see it highlighted best in my Arcade Last Lunch post.  Basically the paid app allows you to create a watercolor version of your image, instantly! Make sure that you scroll through the settings. The numbers 1-10 allow you to customize how detailed the water color is. I have mostly been setting the images to 10 so that I can keep specific details of the pictures.  Some people who want to create a more impressionistic view of the image might consider a less focused view.


Health Mate Withings

Steps tracker & Life coach by Withings by Withings

I quickly have gotten tired of Apple’s Health Tracker app not providing any value.  This free app allows you to historically look at your health (on load it will pull a past weeks worth of tracking information and keep track of health from that point on) so you can scroll for weeks and weeks through data. You can see how much you walked by day or week in detail, calorie intake/outtake. You can create walking goals (10,000 is recommended by the WHO) and it will show you in context to how many steps would equate to your goal. It let’s you know what percentage of your goal was met.

It also has nice plugins for other wearable device information as you start to track your blood pressure and other applications.



for Twitter by Codigami

What I liked about this application was that not only am I able to track how I am doing on Twitter but how other accounts that I care about (or compete with) are doing. You can see the number of followers lost and gained as well as many other valuable details.


Google Photos by Google, Inc.

EVERYONE needs to immediately stop what they’re doing and downloadGoogle Photos and upload ALL of your photos to the cloud (unlimited space if you let them optimize photo size.)

I have been using it for TWO days (and I work in IT) and I am amazed with what they have done.

Once your photos are uploaded they start to make “creations” for you including:
– movies that are stitched together movie clips and photos that you have taken, set to music that you can change (did a movie montage for my friend’s wedding, Jaden’s week at violin camp, memorial day service at Fort Sam…)
photo collages
– panoramic photos stitched together from pictures
– animated GIFs of images that are similar
– “stories” of pictures that are small albums of pictures taken on the same day, location information, automatically grouped for you

>>> Search by (automatically grouped for you):
– people’s faces
– places
– categories created by on your pictures (mine included “food”, “baby shower”, ducks, art museum, restaurants, concerts, dancing)

>>> Create your own!
– everything listed above you can also do manually by selecting the pictures/videos and telling it to make a movie, animation, story, etc.

It’s amazing, every hour or so it sends me a notification of more memories it has made!




2015 Best iOS Apps - Must Have Downloads for Your iPhone

Things NOT to do on 4th of July

Things NOT to do on 4th of July

Growing up with both of my parents being nurses (both spending time in the ICU, one a burn unit specialist) I have heard numerous safety tips around the 4th of July. I was a little envious of others who shot off fireworks. Of course half of my childhood was spent in Germany and I didn’t really have the option to light things on fire anyways…

I did always get to swirl the little sparklers around and that satisfied the pyrotechnic in me (for the most part.) Now with a husband and dog who are very anti-fireworks the tradition of sparklers continues.  My daughter and I traditionally have spent this weekend at violin camp anyways.  As I wait for her art class to complete, here are some safety tips related to staying out of the Emergency Room as our nation celebrates its Independence.

Don’t Drink and Drive

As one of the deadliest holidays for drunk driving crashes quickly approaches, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging motorists to drive sober, be alert and always buckle up. I wanted to not only remind people careful on beer’s highest grossing purchase day but also for others to be mindful of people who might have been drinking. According to data from NHTSA, during July 4th holiday period over the last five years (from 2009 to 2013), 750 people lost their lives in crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .08 or more.  A lot of the accidents happened between 9pm and midnight!

Fourth of July Safety Tips for Aniimals

Hurt Yourself with Fireworks

Did you know? The Consumer Product Safety Commission has an entire page dedicated to Fireworks Safety:

  • 230 people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.
  • 67% of these fireworks injuries in 2014 occurred during the month surrounding July 4th.
  • More than 50% of injuries related to fireworks are from burns
  • 36% of burns are to the hands or fingers
  • 2014 Fireworks Annual Report

Safety Tip:

  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.


Food and Grilling Safety

In order for foods to be cooked to their safest temperates (of killing germs and bacteria), please use the following guidelines:


  • Whole poultry: 165 °F
  • Poultry breasts: 165 °F
  • Ground poultry: 165 °F
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F and allow to rest at least 3 minutes.


Follow USDA’s hashtag, #GrillingLikeaPRO, for the latest tips and tricks.

  • P – Place the Thermometer
  • R – Read the Temperature
  • O – Off the Grill

Let’s spread the work about using a food thermometer and declare our freedom from food-borne illnesses


Don’t Forget Sun Safety

Again, I had parents who are nurses who treated people who suffered from skin cancer and other over-sun exposed ailments (dehydration, etc.)

  • The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes
  • Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts.


Most sun protection products work by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering sunlight. They contain chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays. Reapply hourly. SPF 30.

  • Wear a hat, sunglasses and other clothes to protect skin.
  • Fewer than 15% of men and fewer than 30% of women reported using sunscreen regularly on their face and other exposed skin when outside for more than 1 hour.
  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours. This includes 10 am to 4 pm
  • Find the UV index for your area here, San Antonio is


Don’t Forget Animal Safety

You might want to go crazy like this dog:


But here are some rules from our friends at the ASPCA:

  • Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals.
  • Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it.
  • Keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

It’s not too late to buy your dog a Thundershirt! Rick, our dog pictured directly ABOVE was a pound puppy rescue and has an intense fear of noises (PS4 turning on, camera shutter, thunder, fireworks) and in addition to his dose of veterinary prescribed sedative this Thundershirt works well.




About the Declaration of Independence

About the Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies’ separation from Great Britain. The Constitution provides the legal and governmental framework for the United States, however, the Declaration, with its eloquent assertion “all Men are created equal,” is equally beloved by the American people.

There were 2.5 million in July 1776 living in the newly independent nation.

Declaration of Independence

Learn more about the Declaration of Independence here. The committee consisted of two New England men, John Adams of Massachusetts and Roger Sherman of Connecticut; two men from the Middle Colonies, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania and Robert R. Livingston of New York; and one southerner, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia.

  • 56 people who signed the Declaration
  • Benjamin Franklin was the oldest to sign at 70 years old
  • Edward Rudledge was the youngest at 26
  • John Hancock was the first to sign
  • July 7, 1977 the first anniversary was celebrated in Philadelphia
  • July 4, 1801 was the first celebration at the White House
  • Did not become an official holiday until 1870
  • Three presidents have died on the Fourth of July John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe
  • One was born: Calvin Coolidge

What the Fourth of July Means

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

77 Brands Celebrating #LoveWins Today

77 Brands Celebrating #LoveWins Today

In the excitement of today’s news that gay marriage legal in ALL 50 states, I decided to check out how brands, government entities, non-profit organizations, and travel destinations were spreading the love so to speak.

I didn’t really order these in a particular order (though I did give some placement love to brands that tweeted right away). Involved indirectly in the social media at my own company, I know some of the logistics that go on for enterprise companies to be able to run spur of the moment campaigns!  Kudos to these companies, including:

  • Expedia who is randomly awarding companies that got married today $1,500 gift certificates!
  • Hotels that are featuring #MarriageEquality like MGM Grand, Hill Country Hyatt, Hilton, and more!
  • The Weather Channel’s prediction of a rainbow
  • All the airlines (Southwest, Delta, American, Virgin Atlantic) and Amtrak that joined the conversation
  • Hynundai – the only automobile company I saw tweets about
  • Citys’ travel groups like New Orleans and Washington DC
  • The United Nations, Peace Corps, and more!


RT if you are happy that #LoveWon today!

— Bway Across America (@BwayAmerica) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins pic.twitter.com/K3CQ2Vp9Ce — thinkgeek (@thinkgeek) June 26, 2015

Love is love. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/fLRqY8RyK1

— Danskin (@Danskin) June 26, 2015

Love is Love. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/dTrcWY9Pps — Walgreens (@Walgreens) June 26, 2015

MAKE equality HAPPEN #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/BF3lP2K6fU

— Staples US (@Staples) June 26, 2015

June is LGBT Pride Month, a wonderful reason 2 take pride. #MarriageEquality #SCOTUSmarriage http://t.co/49cxyPYdny pic.twitter.com/BCGfmdlVAz — Hallmark Cards (@Hallmark) June 26, 2015

#lovewins pic.twitter.com/NQsetKcEvy

— The Land of Nod (@TheLandofNod) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins pic.twitter.com/Bdec6V3yrE — Crate and Barrel (@CrateandBarrel) June 26, 2015

Love is love. ?????????????????? #loveeveryone #lovewins http://t.co/kQze7744nf pic.twitter.com/jKXCO3B2Ov

— EO Products (@EOProducts) June 26, 2015

.@GapInc joins families nationwide to celebrate #equality -CEO Art Peck http://t.co/8CfpEwo4nS #LoveWins #LetsDoMore pic.twitter.com/SzZlw1xDiT — Gap Inc. (@GapInc) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins pic.twitter.com/Jvsswul5xC

— PacSun (@PacSun) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins pic.twitter.com/Jvsswul5xC — PacSun (@PacSun) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins pic.twitter.com/ivHqkfCPtG

— The Container Store (@ContainerStore) June 26, 2015

?????????????????? #LoveWins. Celebrating #equality today and always. pic.twitter.com/bNumEDZQUv — Banana Republic (@BananaRepublic) June 26, 2015

Love is love. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/uFp6VD4q11

— Hot Topic (@HotTopic) June 26, 2015

Yes to love!! #LoveIsLove #MarriageEquality #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/jPLV2WzXiG — Ideel (@shopideel) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins #Proud pic.twitter.com/pFTSyAvbPT

— Intel (@intel) June 26, 2015

.@ConsumerReports will be marching in the #NYCPride March on Sunday. Follow our tweets #CRPride15! #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/FIKG4BkHjO — Consumers Union (@ConsumersUnion) June 26, 2015

Namaste. ?? #YogaForEveryone #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/xftD6ax6rk

— Gaiam (@Gaiam) June 26, 2015

Love connects us all. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/6MtAv2yilW — Bloomingdale’s (@Bloomingdales) June 26, 2015

Having a sweet treat on this beautiful Friday night! #LoveWins ????XoX???????? pic.twitter.com/n16G4oQ2dm

— Betsey Johnson (@xoBetseyJohnson) June 27, 2015

Great gay bars are just great bars, period. Find us at one tonight: http://t.co/K8tgJPPNcs #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/MypiUSNiZk — Foursquare (@foursquare) June 26, 2015

Celebrate #love! ???? pic.twitter.com/IrkEF7B6Dg

— Aviary (@Aviary) June 26, 2015

Give it up for the allies! ???? https://t.co/QhnKjpjXth #ProudToLove pic.twitter.com/hz5EUZgbxL — YouTube (@YouTube) June 26, 2015

We hope to see a lot more proposal videos from here on out. https://t.co/1WJvxHQjKE #ProudToLove pic.twitter.com/39wC777iFG

— YouTube (@YouTube) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins pic.twitter.com/Ncvo7cx720 — Bitly (@Bitly) June 26, 2015

Simply put: #LoveWins. pic.twitter.com/SQMGf4VjFw

— PayPal (@PayPal) June 26, 2015

Our #MarvelCharacterOfTheDay is Karolina Dean: http://t.co/py8If3eliK #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/cbVelVFe2v — Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) June 26, 2015

Historic day for love! Celebrate loud & proud with our Gay Pride Party playlist: http://t.co/eRbA1yPQLs #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/tB0Y6hlSZw

— Amazon Music (@amazonmusic) June 26, 2015

Remember that love doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be true. pic.twitter.com/J69VprM7Ad — Ebates (@Ebates) June 26, 2015

Today is a good day. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/h0WM7CXxUO

— Orange Is the New… (@OITNB) June 26, 2015

It’s been a landmark day for social, too. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/twnjyDVg3B — Spredfast (@Spredfast) June 26, 2015

Overstock says “I do” to marriage equality. #LoveWins ?? ???? https://t.co/eUNvbsmSAw

— Overstock (@Overstock) June 26, 2015

Bessie’s so proud of today’s #SCOTUS decision that she’s leading the stickers into #Pride celebrations. #LoveIsLove pic.twitter.com/pkT5uoiYvj — Swarm (@swarmapp) June 26, 2015

To celebrate #Pride2015, let’s take a look at our proud celebrity parents! #LoveWins #SCOTUS http://t.co/zyX8Y8VEAC pic.twitter.com/IdF9x0ro6D

— The Bump (@thebump) June 26, 2015

With Liberty and Justice for all. #HyundaiProud celebrates #MarriageEquality. — HyundaiDiverse (@HyundaiDiverse) June 27, 2015

?????????????????? #BeautyIs #MarriageEquality pic.twitter.com/0l1uNP2lZW

— Dove (@Dove) June 26, 2015

To paraphrase Justice Anthony Kennedy, “Everybody—even gay people—deserve multiple-choice.” #LoveWins @JenBilik pic.twitter.com/OB9zB5fjAr — Knock Knock (@knockknock) June 26, 2015

“If you can’t stop thinking about it…BUY IT.” ???? ???? #QOTD

— Bluefly (@bluefly) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins pic.twitter.com/UMKXq1lTkE — JCPenney (@jcpenney) June 26, 2015

#lovewins pic.twitter.com/3xtZlfkgeT

— Urban Decay (@UrbanDecay) June 26, 2015

‘Open eyes, open minds we are proud! Congratulations USA, you are courageous and brave #lovewins‘ – DV pic.twitter.com/FoatYM9Mvs — Versace (@Versace) June 26, 2015

Groupon supports same-sex marriage. And now 50 states do too. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/BWYF75Vte9

— Groupon (@Groupon) June 26, 2015

Today, love wins. http://t.co/11PEWM9gRt pic.twitter.com/5omuEyGgNE — Powell’s Books (@Powells) June 26, 2015

It’s a great day to be in #love! http://t.co/x69OgbZBDr pic.twitter.com/Fr6ug7mg5E

— Pottery Barn (@potterybarn) June 26, 2015

Today we celebrate this historic love-affirming leap forward! We all deserve the right to say “I do.” #Lovewins pic.twitter.com/S6p5NhYe21 — Adobe (@Adobe) June 26, 2015

“All you need is love.” #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/awwgXkiGx8


Feeling the love ???? pic.twitter.com/nNvUnhj0K2 — VSPINK (@VSPINK) June 26, 2015

We’re especially proud to celebrate Pride month in light of today’s #SCOTUS decision! #AmexPride #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/3MpSryV4q2

— American Express (@AmericanExpress) June 26, 2015

Love Wings #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/o4RiNbNrcj — Red Bull (@redbull) June 26, 2015

We couldn’t be prouder to celebrate love today. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/PiO6OAL1JD

— Gilt.com (@Gilt) June 26, 2015

The 70th anniversary of the UN Charter was also celebrated in Times Square on Friday http://t.co/t9dezvKatb #UN70 pic.twitter.com/qVb7roRkuw — United Nations (@UN) June 27, 2015

Get your #Pride gear: http://t.co/DI6rkaeTnK pic.twitter.com/sKMkq7tOkX

— PETA (@peta) June 26, 2015

A true cause for creative celebrations http://t.co/y5KDHBGZ5t Today, #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/pVstieSRFm — Etsy (@Etsy) June 26, 2015

“Love is the greatest virtue of the heart.” – Architect Frank Lloyd Wright #LoveWins ?????? http://t.co/HUKa3Vf0Mj pic.twitter.com/1dtM1cImmh

— Guggenheim Museum (@Guggenheim) June 26, 2015

A conversation with Gilbert Baker, the artist who designed the Rainbow Flag, over at MoMA: http://t.co/1Bck5ynfau pic.twitter.com/DUEVbOI2hx — Kickstarter (@kickstarter) June 26, 2015

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fide… http://t.co/3HD0PvTQf8 pic.twitter.com/Df63yLbLmr

— Peace Corps (@PeaceCorps) June 26, 2015

Congrats @RedPegasusGames! Can we make your honeymoon magical? DM us for your $1,500 voucher. #Expedia4Love #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/w9xLrsm94b — Expedia (@Expedia) June 27, 2015

“Never in my professional life have I felt more supported and safe regarding my sexuality than at JetBlue.” Will M. #CrewPOV #LoveWins

— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) June 27, 2015

A historic moment has been made! #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/1R7SlPrcDQ — Gaylord National (@GaylordNational) June 27, 2015

Love is Sweet #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/R2B36lRQ40

— DoubleTree by Hilton (@doubletree) June 26, 2015

06.26.15 #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/RbMfMoYcDQ — MGM Grand Hotel (@MGMGrand) June 26, 2015

#Hyatt celebrates #Love! #LoveWins #LoveIsLove #HyattLovesLove pic.twitter.com/Is8NH7P1in

— Hyatt Hill Country (@HR_HillCountry) June 26, 2015

#LoveWins pic.twitter.com/uTiv5fBi1N — ARIA Las Vegas (@AriaLV) June 26, 2015

In recognition of this historic day. #lovewins pic.twitter.com/tTDtPVt09U

— MGM Resorts (@MGMResortsIntl) June 26, 2015

All you need is #Love. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/lTOAAzyTx2 — Amtrak (@Amtrak) June 26, 2015

Let the celebration begin! #LoveWins #SFPride pic.twitter.com/XXJEMPKREq

— Virgin America (@VirginAmerica) June 26, 2015

#LoveIsLove #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/EMDvmgBQOf — MapQuest (@MapQuest) June 26, 2015

Just in time for #marriageequality—NYC’s Stonewall Inn is granted landmark status: http://t.co/csDcqFT59k #lovewins pic.twitter.com/RXvHmV2lbm

— Travel + Leisure (@TravlandLeisure) June 26, 2015

Check out 12 things to do in #WashingtonDC this summer: http://t.co/bN4SvlCJwK #LGBT #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/DGaONx0LwG — washingtondc (@washingtondc) June 26, 2015

Equally ever after: http://t.co/affZyc6aDF #SCOTUS #inahyattworld pic.twitter.com/eo6pQirYOz

— Hyatt Tweets (@HyattTweets) June 26, 2015

#SouthwestHeart beats for love. #MarriageEquality #LoveWins — Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) June 26, 2015

Fun for all. All for love. #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/HdP9cTUwm9

— Carnival Cruise Line (@CarnivalCruise) June 26, 2015

#Lovewins in America, and we’re excited to celebrate #NOLA-style! http://t.co/RxmPZwJMgQ pic.twitter.com/9AnuiSOVT8 — New Orleans CVB (@NewOrleansCVB) June 26, 2015

Forecasting lots of #Love. #LoveWins Photo Credit: @seisenhauer via IG pic.twitter.com/OvjStuaXEo

— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) June 26, 2015

Today we join our employees and customers in celebration of marriage equality: http://t.co/5Vf4lNmyTs #LoveWins pic.twitter.com/NnWfT3AvqV — Delta (@Delta) June 26, 2015

<3 for the #SCOTUS ruling! These pride celebrations are bound to be epic: http://t.co/ni3H4KcUDz #pridemonth pic.twitter.com/eL5gFQWnHy

— Fodor’s Travel (@fodorstravel) June 26, 2015

Watercolor View of Last Lunch at Arcade Midtown Kitchen

Watercolor View of Last Lunch at Arcade Midtown Kitchen

I love Chef Jesse Perez, and I love Arcade Midtown Kitchen. I have loved both since before the very first tasting where any profits from that evening were donated in entirety to the local chapter of Child Safe, a care center for child victims and survivors of abuse and neglect. I remember talking to Chef and hearing his excitement about opening the restaurant. He found the perfect location at the Pearl Brewery and aptly named the location based on a play on the word Arcade. By definition an arcade is “a series of arches supported on piers or columns” and he coupled this with a tribute to the San Antonio Arcades that he remembered playing at, growing up with friends and family. He coined Midtown to denote the area before downtown, inspired from his culinary experiences in Midtown Atlanta. That’s right, San Antonio is his home and where his family is but he has also had chef stints in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Long Beach, CA that really expanded his repertoire.  His mom inspired this restaurant and although she passed away six years ago, was enshrined in the intimate alcove near the kitchen. His dad is always at food events, using the truck HEB gave him after decades of loyal service, to haul a huge grill brought to Culinaria events and support San Antonio’s food scene presence.  You didn’t even have to be in San Antonio to feel Chef’s larger than life presence. I’d be covering food events in Austin and he’d be there with his crew ready to serve up food during the day, and celebrate success with his chefs and front of the house staff at night. His wife would be there a lot of the times too, just as accessible and friendly as Chef.

Chef Jesse Perez (@ChefJesseSA on Twitter) is one of the city’s humblest chefs. As a new blogger/free-lance writer he talked to me like I was someone and he always treated me with genuine appreciation for any coverage I might offer. He’s just that kind of guy.

Knowing that Arcade would be serving its last meal in a couple of days, my sister craving their Lobster Taco, we went in for one last lunch. There’s no sacrificing quality or service with this chef. He was there, manning the line, serving up favorites and finishing touches before the plates went out. His staff was just as engaging, his chefs active, and his bartenders serving up cocktails as soon as the restaurant opened at 11:30am. By 12:30 the place was packed and we were able to get in by saying we’d eat outside.  There was a beautiful breeze between the Arcade and on our way out we got one last fortune from Zoltar.

My only regret was to not eat there more often (my bank statements tell me 12 times) and today I didn’t ask if I could get the PBJ meatballs at lunch.

Website: http://www.arcademk.com/


I’d like to quote him, today, June 26, 2015:

I’m not going anywhere.

And I believe him.  He’s home.


Click to add a blog post for Arcade Midtown Kitchen on Zomato

Schlitterbahn Galveston Island

Schlitterbahn Galveston Island

Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark is a 26-acre oasis of thrilling waterpark adventures. The third waterpark in the Schlitterbahn family of parks features more than 30 attractions designed in the Schlitterbahn tradition of ride innovation. The park also features the next generation of the award-winning Transportainment® river system that combines three unique rivers into one endless floating adventure. And an award winning Heated-Indoor Waterpark section open in early Spring and through December.


Address: 2026 Lockheed Street, Galveston, Texas 77554

General Park Phone: (409) 770-928

Schlitterbahn saves families budget by offering free parking, free life jackets, and families can bring in an ice chest of food! To me that is unheard of!  Other amusement parks treat park food as their cash cow! Schlitterbahn lets you pack a fabulous picnic and eat it too!

Schlitterbahn, which was born on the banks of a river, has always been a steward of the water in the park. 98% of the water is recaptured, filtered, and reused all season. HOW GREAT IS THAT?? The beautiful South Padre Schlitterbahn resort is built out of wood reclaimed from the wildfires that took place in Austin (more on our sustainability efforts here).

Where else can you grab a drink and float around the lazy river with it in hand?

Working in Innovation I can appreciate that Schlitterbahn has been the birthplace of nearly every waterpark ride innovation including the world’s first uphill water coaster and the inland surfing ride, the Boogie Bahn.

Each waterpark is known for something and Galveston is famous for being the World’s favorite indoor park!

Did you know?

2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn 2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn 2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn 2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn 2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn 2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn 2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn 2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn

Summer Schedule: Schlitterbahn Galveston Island entire park is open weekends beginning April 18, 2015 and daily beginning May 14, 2015 to Labor Day. The park returns to weekend operations with various attractions available form September 12, 2015 to October 11, 2015. Park opens at 10 a.m. and closing times vary from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

2015 Galveston Schlitterbahn Broll from Schlitterbahn Waterparks on Vimeo.

2015 Visit New Orleans

2015 Visit New Orleans

Make sure you check out the other posts that I have made about visiting New Orleans including Things to Do in New Orleans and where to stay like the amazing Ritz Carlton New Orleans.


For a full list of festivals, click here.


Recent Reasons to Come to New Orleans

  • Readers of Condé Nast Traveler voted New Orleans the number one “U.S. City for Business Travelers” in the February issue of the magazine based on friendliness, value, walkability and its 1,400 restaurants.
  • In March, New Orleans was named one of TripAdvisor.com’s “2015 Traveler’s Choice Destinations U.S.” based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions.
  • Men’s Journal magazine named New Orleans one of the “10 Best Places to Live Now” in its April issue for its post-Katrina renaissance and generous hospitality.
  • New Orleans was named one of the “Top Vacation Spots in the U.S.” by ListsForAll.com in March 2015 for its lively nightlife, unique cuisine and charm.
  • New Orleans was named one of the “Friendliest Cities in America” in Travel + Leisure’s April issue for its friendly nightlife, vivid people-watching and quirky locals.
  • New Orleans was named one of “America’s Best Cities for Food Snobs” in Travel + Leisure’s March issue for both its fine dining and casual culinary culture.
  • New Orleans was named one of the “America’s Best Cities for Music Scenes” in Travel + Leisure’s April issue based on the accessibility of and passion for a variety of music styles .
  • Travel + Leisure named New Orleans the number one “Quirkiest City in America” in its March issue based on its celebratory culture and history of voodoo.
  • Travel + Leisure named New Orleans one of “America’s Best Cities for Sweet Tooths” in its April issue based on its many unique sweet treats, from Bananas Foster to Baked Alaska.
  • New Orleans was named the number one “Best Drinking City in America” by Thrillist.com in March 2015 for its superior cocktail culture, a hearty craft brewing scene and the invention of many classic cocktails.
  • SmartAsset.com, an online financial planning tool, named New Orleans one of the “Most Interesting Cities in America” based on diversity, concentration of bars, population growth and the ratio of creatives to professionals.
  • The Louisiana Children’s Museum has been announced as a 2015 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest museum and library honor given to institutions that address community needs.

Learn all about New Orleans’ Tourism Season in 2014:





2015 Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony

2015 Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery Memorial Day Ceremony

This year, instead of highlighting great sales like I have in the past during Memorial Day weekend, I really wanted to pay tribute to the service men and women that we remember, and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice they gave our company. You can learn more about those sacrifices over the past US War’s here where I write about medical advances that also occurred during those wars and after.

It was actually very hard to find information about Memorial Day services but I was excited after much combing to find one at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery at 0930. I dragged my husband and daughter who were tired from a long weekend and we arrived with many others pouring into the cemetery at Fort Sam. I had gone to high school there and was nostalgic as I remembered the week before Memorial Day, during school, placing flags at each grave site, over 140,000 of veterans and their spouses.  There was probably a crowd of a couple hundred people, some in military dress uniform, some in BDUs (battle dress uniform), and many in civilian dress. We parked along the cemetery and started walking along the road past rows and rows of marble grave markers. Near the back of the cemetery were more freshly buried sites, huge sections with graves from 2000 to present.

It was very humbling when the Army officer in his dress uniform, walking in front of us, made a bee-line to a familiar grave, paused, and silently saluted his comrade before crouching to the ground. There were mothers and fathers hugging grandchildren, spouses sobbing next to headstones, and little kids comforting their parents as their parents probably told them about the person buried.

The sky was dark and ominous but stayed dry for most of the ceremony. The color guard presented the colors as everyone sang the National Anthem.  Veteran volunteers silently moved between the masses offering cold water, programs, and seats.  The master of ceremonies welcomed the distinguished guests including US Representative William Hurd and current Mayor Ivy Taylor.

Two Marines with Six Seconds

The guest speaker was Queta Marquez who is the Bexar County Veterans Service Officer and a retired Captain in the Marine Corps. She is an advocate for all veterans and their families and works as a member of the Military and Veteran Community Collaborative.

She talked briefly about her twenty years of service, understanding the sacrifices soldiers continue to make.

She told the following story:

Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way—perhaps 60-70 yards in length—and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.

Our experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

The two Marines had about five seconds left to live. It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were—some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera goes blank.

Six seconds.

Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty … into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight — for you.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/john-kellys-marines-in-ramadi-2014-5#ixzz3bBsK3i4D

Cpl. Jonathan Yale Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter

Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter (right), along with Cpl. Jonathan Yale (left), was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his efforts on April 22, 2008, in Ramadi, Iraq.

Memorial Day Ceremony

It was pretty exciting to be able to share the ceremony in real-time on Periscope (currently a mobile app that allows you to stream video in real-time and for others to effortlessly watch along with you.) I had about 77 people who watched the stream, some in its entirety. Someone even sent love for our fallen soldiers from Ireland!

My program is water-logged as it started to rain heavily towards the end of the program but here’s a summary in case you’d like to go next year:

0900     Musical Prelude

0930    Open Ceremony

  • Welcome
  • Presentation of the Colors
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • Invocation (prayer)
  • Reading of the Deceased Veterans’ Names (read by Cadet Battalion Commander @ Reagan High School JROTC — yay for being female!)
  • National Moment of Remembrance
  • Guest Speaker – Ms. Queta Marquez, Bexar County Veterans Service Officer
  • Honors to the Military (see next section)
  • Singing of America the Beautiful
  • Three Volleys of Rifle Fire and “Taps”
  • Closing Remarks (rushed for weather)

Branches of the Military Songs

It was really touching when each branch of the military’s song was played and the veterans, active duty soldiers, and their families would stand proudly and sing loudly. After the conclusion of each song, everyone would cheer loudly in the way unique to each branch. I included a link (tried to find the best link for each branch) if you’d like to learn more about the history of the song and the meaning behind it.


When performed as part of a medley of Service songs, the following Department of Defense guidance applies:

The order of performance for Service songs is:

  1. Army: “The Army Goes Rolling Along”
  2. Marine Corps: “The Marine’s Hymn”
  3. Navy: “Anchors Aweigh”
  4. Air Force: “Official U.S. Air Force Song”
  5. Coast Guard: “Semper Paratus”


First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And The Army Goes Rolling Along
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.

Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army’s on its way.
Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!)
For where e’er we go,
You will always know
That The Army Goes Rolling Along.

Marine Corps

From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.


Anchors Aweigh, my boys,
Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to foreign shores,
We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night ashore,
Drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more.
Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.

Air Force

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder
At ’em boys, Give ‘er the gun!
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under
Off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force!

Coast Guard

We’re always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through surf and storm and howling gale,
High shall our purpose be.
“Semper Paratus” is our guide,
Our fame, our glory too.
To fight to save or fight and die,
Aye! Coast Guard we are for you!

Three Volley Salute of Rifle Fire

If you were looking at the stage, the riflemen were located to the left of the presentation and their fired their guns away from the area.

The 3-volley salute is a ceremonial act performed at military and police funerals as part of the drill and ceremony of the Honor Guard. It consists of a rifle party firing blank cartridges into the air three times. The custom originates from the European dynastic wars, where the fighting ceased so the dead and wounded could be removed. Then, three shots were fired into the air to signal that the battle could resume.

During this ceremony, the rifles were fired and as the smoke receded, the bugler started playing the song “Taps”.


Although for most of my Army brat life we did not live on military base, I was on base for many Taps bugle calls. This song is normally played as the day’s last call of the day — same time every day. I have fond memories of riding with my dad, the bugle sounding the song, and everyone stopping their car (or if they were walking, standing still), getting out of the car, and my dad saluting in the direction of an unseen flag and bugler. My dad always stood proudly at attention, no matter how tired. We never talked, it was always a very respectful time.




When taps is played during military funerals, military members will render a salute from the beginning until the conclusion of the song. Civilians should place their right hand over their heart during this time.

A Little Bit More about the National Cemetery Association and Burial Benefits

It probably sounds a little morbid in hindsight, but my dad has always talked about how he’ll be buried there. Entry into a slot requires sacrifices for one’s country, ones not everyone gives. He like all other veterans have the option for Burial benefits including a grave site in one of 131 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Learn everything about the program here.

Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery flag pavilion and assembly area.

Visiting the National Cemeteries can be overwhelming. If you are looking for a particular grave site you can find them through this tracker. Search for burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, various other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and for veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker.

Benefits of War: Medical Advances

Benefits of War: Medical Advances

As we celebrate Memorial Day this year and humbly remember and consider the women and men who have died serving our country, I wanted to share some benefits that war brings and the on-going research that the military and their partners are exploring. I am not advocating that war was worth these advances, but because there was a war we were able to make these medical advancements. The research that the military does to protect our soldiers is frequently also shared with the civilian sector. Take a second to think about the medics who are in the field, doing the immediate medical triage of injuries. They do not hesitate to risk their lives each time they go to their buddies in the war zone.  Both my parents are critical care nurses, in the military, at war, and in the civilian sector. It is hard for those not in this noble profession to even begin to comprehend what they go through. Please express gratitude to any medical professional, at any level of expertise.

“If war is the dark side of humanity, then military medicine is the light.” – Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson

Wars ranked by U.S. combat deaths

From Wikipedia, here are the times the US was at war and the number of deaths from them.

Rank War Years Deaths
1 World War II 1941–1945 291,557
2 American Civil War 1861–1865 212,938
3 World War I 1917–1918 53,402
4 Vietnam War 1955–1975 47,424
5 Korean War 1950–1953 33,746
6 American Revolutionary War 1775–1783 8,000
7 War on Terror 2001–present 5,281 [92]
8 War of 1812 1812–1815 2,260
9 Mexican–American War 1846–1848 1,733
10 Northwest Indian War 1785–1795 1,221+
11 Kosovo 1999-2014 18+

Over 650,000 people have died in combat since 1775, in the American Revolutionary War. As devastating as war is, these soldiers did not die in vain.

Scientific Advancements by War

Civil War

Used by the U.S. military since the Civil War, tourniquets play an important part in constricting the flow of traumatic bleeding. According to an Army Medical Command fact sheet, nearly 50% of combat deaths since World War II can be attributed to blood loss. [TaskAndPurpose.com]

Closing chest wounds that prevents lungs from collapsing was realized by Dr. Benjamin Howard. He found that if he closed the wound with metal sutures, followed by alternating layers of lint or linen bandages and a few drops of collodion (a syrupy solution that forms an adhesive film when it dries), he could create an airtight seal. Survival rates quadrupled, and Howard’s innovation soon became standard treatment.

Plastic Surgery. In 1862, a surgeon from City Hospital in New York, Dr. Gurdon Buck used dental and facial fixtures to fill in the missing bone a soldier’s face  could regain its shape. He also pioneered the use of tiny sutures to minimize scarring.

A British ambulance collects the wounded at Sevastopol during the Crimean War, circa 1855.

Ambulances. It took Jonathan Letterman, the medical director of the Army of the Potomac, just six weeks to implement a brilliant system to evacuate and care for the wounded, becoming the model for the ambulance-to-ER system we know today. On September 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam left 2,108 Union soldiers dead and nearly 10,000 wounded. Letterman established caravans of 50 ambulances, each with a driver and two stretcher bearers, to ferry the injured to field hospitals. [MentalFloss.com]

Crimean War

Modern infection control borrows much from the work of Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War in the mid 19th century. She ensured hospital wards were cleaned and ventilated leading to a dramatic drop in mortality rates.


In the First World War measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including mobilelaboratoriestetanus antitoxin and vaccination against typhoid, limited the effect of disease.

French doctors first formalised the system of triage to treat mass casualties. Patients were split into three categories to allow prioritisation. Those who were most likely to benefit from treatment were selected ahead of those likely to live and those likely to die regardless.


During the Second World War developments were made in drugs such as penicillin and medical specialties focused on plastic surgery, rehabilitation and tropical diseases such as malaria. [Science Museum.Org]

Hand-held sonograms. Actually produced during World War Two to detect cracks in armour, they’re now used by medical professionals to check on pregnant women and scan for cancers! [BBC.com]

Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom

Combat Application Tourniquet is a one-handed tourniquet, which allowed soldiers to apply pressure to bleeds without assistance. In 2005 it was one of the Army’s 10 greatest inventions and since incorporated into civilian trauma care.

Oregon Medical Laser Center developed the chitosan bandage, which helps reduce hemorrhaging by combining a biodegradable carbohydrate found in the shells of shrimp and lobsters with blood cells.

A new, advanced mind controlled robotic arm from DEKA, given the Star Wars inspired name Luke (after Luke Skywalker), received approval by the FDA on May 9, so now it can be sold in the United States. The prosthetic arm will allow amputees to perform delicate tasks and movements like manipulating keys, holding a grape, cleaning, cooking, and much more.

Robotic Prosthetic Arm Controlled by the Mind Approved by the FDA Read more at http://guardianlv.com/2014/05/robotic-prosthetic-arm-controlled-by-the-mind-approved-by-the-fda/#BOjxfR6uAbfGC7Gf.99
Photo Credit: http://guardianlv.com

Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) is a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary network working to develop advanced treatment options for our severely wounded servicemen and women.

Burn Treatments. Improvements in the study of burn treatments have also been advanced during the war. One technique is for replacing burned skin with new-grown skin, said Dr. David Baer, director of research at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research. I actually got to learn about this at an internal conference at work this year!  Military medical research also has shown that a burn patient’s fluid balance is delicate and must be managed in a prescribed manner, particularly during the first few days following the burn incident, Baer said. A computer program that can be used in the field has been devised to accurately measure a patient’s fluid intake, he added.Treatments for burn-caused scarring and other traumatic injuries have advanced, too, the physicians said. They now are researching how scars are formed, and how the scarring process can be slowed and even remodeled. [Defense.gov]

US Army Medical Research & Materiel Command

Learn more about the US Army Medical Research & Materiel Command where some of this medical research takes place including collaborations with the private and academic sectors. I had an opportunity to listen to several presentations recently from doctors and nurses who develop some of the newest life saving procedures for the military and civilians. They are focused on leveraging technology in the areas that make the most impact, while taking into consideration the continued human aspect.

Please take this into consideration when you your legislative leaders want to reduce funding for military and medical research. The research efforts this group are working on are important, not only in critical times of war, but also in every day lives.

2015 Culinaria Burgers and Beer is ON!

2015 Culinaria Burgers and Beer is ON!
As of 10am May 17, 2015, Culinaria San Antonio is pumped for Burgers and Beer at The Historic Pearl!! You can get your tickets at the gate and you’ll be dry under 281 highway parking area. (Park in Koehler Parking Garage.)


                Weather lane closures here: http://www.sanantonio.gov/Public-Works/EmergencyStreetClosures.aspx

The Pearl
May 17, 2015
1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
$25 – Students
$10 – Under 21
5-under – Free

Does anything pair better than a big, juicy burger and an ice cold brew? This casual event provides guests an assortment of local chefs’ twists to old fashioned burgers. Pair them with a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine and you have a perfect match- all you have to do is pick your favorite amongst the most delicious creations. Grills fire up at 1 pm along with some great music and good times.

TICKETS:  Ticket Sales are non-refundable and online sales end at midnight the night before the event. Tickets will also be available at H-E-B Business Centers.

ADDRESS: The Pearl 200 East Grayson Street, San Antonio, TX 78215

WHAT TO WEAR: This is an outdoor event with room for the kids to play!

WHAT TO EXPECT:  An afternoon of fun and burgers!

HOW TO CONNECT: Facebook: facebook.com/CulinariaSanAntonio Twitter: @culinariasa and Instagram: @culinariasa

Tickets @ gate or online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/burgers-beer-tickets-15354085483

Whose burger are you most excited to try?!

Culinaria is a non-profit organization promoting San Antonio as a premier wine and food destination and supporting local students in culinary arts and food related aid organizations. 



Culinaria Best of Mexico Rain Plan

Best of Mexico Rain Plan!

WHAT: The Best of Mexico will move its location from Main Street at The Shops at La Cantera to the covered walkways at the offices from Profit Bricks, Body Brite to Derm S.A. at The Shops at La Cantera, just above and North of Main Street.  Local Chefs welcome visiting Chefs from Mexico and together they showcase and share the best of Mexican street foods and interior of Mexico cuisine.  The Tequila tasting lounge will be on the covered patio above Francesca’s and Burger Fi.  This event is for adults, 21 years and older.  For tickets call 210.822.9555 or visit www.culinariasa.org.  

The Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Parkway 
Under the covered walkways by the offices from Profit Bricks, Body Brite to Derm S.A.  The Tequila Lounge will be on the covered patio above Francesca’s and Burger Fi. 

WHO: Chef Johnny Hernandez
Chefs visiting from Mexico’s key interior regions 

  • El Machito
  • El Mirador
  • Fruteria 
  • Paloma Blanca
  • Brio Tuscan Grille 
  • Mariscos El Bucanero
  • La Fogata – Cochinita Pibil 
  • Costa Pacifica
  • La Tequilera
  • Nicha’s Comida Mexican – Tortilla Soup
  • Brio Tuscan Grille 
  • H-E-B Chefs
WHEN: Friday, May 15
7 to 10 p.m.