Getting the pool laid out.

We love finding ways to get the kids outside and having fun in the summer (well, all of the time). Summer is easier in Oregon, though, because it’s not raining.

And summer = swimming. Hot temperatures, sunny days, minimal air conditioning in our lovely old house make it the perfect recipe for cooling off in the pool.

The only problem is we don’t have a swimming pool in our relatively small back yard and dragging kids to the local, really really crowded pool happens just every so often. About three years ago, at the end of summer, Adam found a 9-ft circular pool on sale at Rite Aid for 50% off. He decided it was a good deal (around $25), brought it home and set it up. It was great. The kids loved it. It was small, but they were smaller then too.

They made up games: whirlpool — where everyone swims around the outside of the pool as quickly as possible, leaving someone stranded in the middle of the water vortex; swinging into the pool — where someone sits on the swing and pumps until they’re high enough over the pool and everyone else moves out of the way as the sploosh in.

Last year we dragged it out again the beginning of summer. It had holes in the inflatable ring at the top which is the key component to keeping the pool filled and stable. Adam painstakingly fixed them and we enjoyed the pool for the summer.

Erected! Woo hoo!

This year, I got out the pool and set it up. And again, the bloody holes in the damn inflatable ring. I fixed them. And fixed them. And then gave up and bought a frame pool online. I measured our garden and got the biggest one that would physically fit.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready to pick up from the store until after Duncan and Berry had left for their Dad’s. And by that point, Emma had fractured her little finger and had her right hand in a cast. *sigh* So much for summer outdoor fun.

But, the cast eventually came off and I’m leaving tomorrow to return with the kids in a week, so, last weekend, I decided it was time to set up the new pool. Enthusiasm from children was low, but with some perseverance (and the wise decision to wait until the sun was going down) I got the thing up!

And then I dropped the little wrench they included to install the filter inside the pool — before I had assembled the stairs. It was dark by the time I was finished, reading instructions in the gathering gloom.

Then we filled it — for the entire next day. It’s only 14-ft across and holds 3,300 gallons, but it still took a while. Adding pool chemicals so the water doesn’t turn green and kill us all was another adventure, but I pretended it was fun science. (I do love the little color-changing test strips.) Our pool is now nicely balanced and chlorinated, with appropriate levels of ph, alkalinity and free chlorine atoms.

Finally, it was time for the fun part: Getting in the thing. Emma was extremely keen, even though the water was freezing cold. Suddenly all the really hot days seemed to have vanished, leaving us with temperate summer weather that was great for enjoying on dry land but not awesome for heating up the pool. But it didn’t stop her.

Among her many qualities, Emma is cute and convincing and soon Adam was in the pool with her. Here’s the video proof.

(Please note: I realize getting into a 68F pool isn’t the same as dumping a bucket of ice water over your head and Adam didn’t nominate anyone else for the ALS challenge because he had no idea why I was telling him to say he was doing this for ALS. While ALS is a serious and devastating disease — I recently learned that two of my childhood friends lost their fathers at young ages due to ALS — we were just having a bit of fun. And harmless fun is good.)

I also entered the icy waters, which really weren’t that bad after the initial screaming plunge, and enjoyed several games of Piggy in the Middle (the less PC English version of the American game, Monkey in the Middle) with Adam and Emma.

The nice lady at the pool supply store told us most folks around here keep their pools up until mid-October, so here’s hoping we get a few more weeks of fun out of it. I’ve considered getting some kind of heating system for it (solar cover or solar heat coil thingies) but for now we’ll just tell the kids that cold water builds character and it’ll feel warmer as soon as they move around.