I have already learned a lot from the folks here, so thanks to all.
We have a typical small southern California back yard, so a big pool is not in the cards. The yard gets a lot of sun all year. We ordered a 20x14 inground vinyl from Secard Pools (secardpools.com). The "Islander" pool sits 18 inches above the ground, so I don't know whether to call an Inground or not. I know some people that have had this pool for many years and are very happy with it so I am comfortable with the purchase and the pool builder. The price is good as well.
I went with the SWG and a solar cover. I may add a heater later, we will see. 1hp pump.
Because the yard is small (31x31 and another 15x30 section off to the side), I am keeping the deck small and am considering the difference composites. I will build the deck myself (along with a little help from my friends). I have 7 and 11 year old girls who are very excited. My dog could care less, except she is losing some of her grass.
Thanks for the feedback on my posts, and any suggestions and recommendations are welcome. I will post up some pics when I get things moving along. i may even post up my plan if I can figure that one out. I expect the dig to start in the next few weeks depending on the weather and how muddy things are with all the recent rains.
Thanks for all the great information. I have learned so much already that the uncertainty is no longer an issue. I feel like I understand things a bit, and know if I don't I can get clarification here. nice!