Thanks to Fusion Lifestyle (an Oxford fitness center) and to a homeschooling yahoo group, the kids and I enjoyed a very wet half-term (school holiday) last week! In honor of "National Family Week" Fusion sponsored parents to swim for free at Oxford city pools if they went with their kids. (And in Oxford, kids can always go free.) I found out about it through my homeschooling group. What a blessing it was to us!!
I mentioned it to my neighbor Sarah at the beginning of the week, and we started making tentative plans to go together to the outdoor pool on Wednesday. The day arrived, though, and it was rainy, plus Sarah could not come as she'd hoped. I told her I'd like to go anyway, to an indoor pool, and that I could take her 7-year-old Jonathan with us. She was thrilled with the idea and offered to drive us all there.
We had a great time at the Ferry Sports Centre pool. In addition to the regular pool, there was a "learner's pool" which had very broad steps (the whole width of the pool) and only ranged from 0.8 to 1 meter deep. This meant that Jonathan, Naomi, and Josiah could all stand by themselves, and that Ethan had quite a big space to play in shallow water (on the steps).
Jonathan goes to a pool every week so is quite comfortable with water, unlike my own kids. I think he helped Naomi feel more confident. Also it was nice to have four kids so that I had two pairs: Ethan and Josiah played well together, and Naomi and Jonathan spent almost all their time together in the 1-meter deep area.
We had so much fun on Wednesday that we decided to do it again on Friday! This time it was sunny and warm, so we decided to try the outdoor pool (Hinksey Pool). Again I offered to take Jonathan, and again Sarah said she could drive us there. It was really a perfect day to be outside in the water.
Hinksey Pool is a zero-depth pool and Ethan enjoyed the large "beach" area, where he could push his car around and lie on his tummy to splash. Naomi, Jonathan, and Josiah were happy to see that our neighbor friend Anna was also at the pool. She had come separately, with her mom and brother.
The problem with Hinksey Pool was that there was no shade and unfortunately, I was not careful enough with our sun protection. When we got home, I found that Naomi and I had burned our backs and shoulders. All three kids had a touch of sunburn right under their eyes. I learned for the next time!
On Saturday, we went yet again to the Ferry Pool, this time with Steve so he could see it. Again we brought Jonathan, but this time we walked both there and back (an hour each way). We went in the afternoon, and while the pool was shut for 1 1/2 hours (due to a private party), we enjoyed a Burger King dinner on the grass outside. We stayed until the pool shut at 7:30 and still had plenty of light to walk home in.
Finally on Sunday -- the last day of the free deal -- we went to the Hinksey Pool straight from church. Learning from my mistakes, I brought umbrellas and T-shirts to wear in the water. We wore sun-visors and got out from the water after every hour to spend a half hour in the shade, re-applying sunscreen. Steve, ever the busy student, brought his book with him so he could study while we played. Naomi didn't like the feel of wearing a shirt in the water, so she chose to stay in the shade of our umbrella with Steve, coloring with crayons I'd brought. I enjoyed the few hours of focused time with my boys, playing "hide-and-seek" with bath toys I'd brought and watching Ethan push around his cars again.
So that was our week of holiday, at home =) Now we're recovering from our vacation, trying to get the neglected house back in order and get ourselves some much-needed rest.