The Weaver kids came back from a family vacation to a big backyard transformation.
While they were away, Leisure Time Pools, of Swansea, put in a 14-by 28-foot inground pool, 3 1/2 feet deep on one end, 7 1/2 feet on the other. Their pool has steel walls, cement bottom and vinyl liner that makes it water tight. The liner gives the pool color, design and pattern.
"Jack (Watkins) is the guy who did it," said mom Shannon, 36, a third-grade teacher at Millstadt Consolidated School. "He sent us pictures on vacation of the process. When we came home, we had a few days to wait."
Another surprise was in store.
"The slide wasn't up when we got back," said Shannon. "Jack was good about keeping it a secret. He hid it in a box on the side of the house.
"We actually asked, 'What's in the box?'" said Aubrey, 7.
"They worked on it early one morning," said Shannon.
"Mom actually shut my eyes," said Aubrey. "I went over (to the window) and she said, 'You can open your eyes now."
"It was an awesome surprise," said Logan, 12. "The pool opened on (Aubrey's) birthday, July 19."
The Weavers live on a quiet Millstadt cul-de-sac with a sloping backyard. Two years ago, Shannon and husband Bryan, a physical education teacher and athletic director at Millstadt Consolidated School, had the pool installed while they and their three children, Aubrey, Logan and younger sister, Ella, 4, were at DisneyWorld.
Who most wanted to take the plunge?
"I always wanted one," said Shannon. "I grew up with an inground pool next door to my grandma's. My mom and I swam there all lthe time. One of her daughters, (Mary Jo Huber) gave me swimming lessons in that pool.
"With us both being teachers, we knew we'd get a lot of use out of it. It's good entertainment for the kids. With their age difference, we wanted it when they were younger so they could enjoy it as long as possible. "
The kids' busy baseball schedules made it tricky to get to the public pool.
"It's so hot here, too," said Shannon. "It gives you something to do when it's really hot."
Like it was on a steamy Monday afternoon. Shannon and Bryan sat poolside on lawn chairs as Aubrey challenged Logan to backflips in the 84-degree water. All three took turns going down the slide, jumping in and playing.
A container of colorful foam swim noodles waved from a corner. Rafts leaned on the wrought-iron fence.
The Weaver pool is a popular destination for family and friends.
"We are going to have Bryan's whole family to come from northern Illinois for a weekend pool party in July," said Shannon. "It's been a good experience for us."
The Weaver kids weren't in the water long before dark clouds gathered and thunder rumbled in the distance. Time to get out, wrap up in towels and head inside.
If Logan didn't have a pool, what would he like?
"A big Wiffle Ball yard."
How did you decide on a pool company? "Leisure Time had done our friend's pool," said Shannon. "They were really pleased."
How did you decide on the size? "With the hill, we knew we didn't have a lot of options as far as where to do it," said Shannon. "We got a pool as big as we could in the space we have."
"I chose the trim," said Logan.
"I chose the liner," said Aubrey. "It wasn't too dark."
Other considerations? "We wanted a deep end," said Shannon, "but we would have had to have a bigger pool to get a diving board, and for safety reasons, we weren't sure about a diving board. That's why we went with the slide instead."
How often do you swim? "Whenever it's nice out," said Logan. "The first time we did, it was in the middle 70s. The water was cold. I was in for 30 seconds."
"I stayed in two minutes," said Aubrey.
How is pool maintenance? "It's really easy," said Shannon. "We got the salt water. Jack suggested that. He definitely knew what he was talking about. At Leisure Time, you can take a water sample in and they will check it for free and let you know what chemicals to add."
Did your children know how to swim when you got the pool? "Everybody knew except for Ella. Ella is getting swimming lessons in it now. She always wears the floatees (on her arms). She's part of the reason we put the fence just around the pool instead of around the yard. We felt a little safer."
Any pool rules? "They only get in when we are out there," said Bryan. "You can't dive in."
"Whenever you go down the slide, hands and feet go first," said Aubrey.
Who was first down the slide? "Logan," said Aubrey. "Right after Logan did, he said, 'It's not so bad,' so I did.'"
Any disadvantages? "I don't get my housework done like I need to because we are out at the pool," said Shannon. "Other than that, it's all good."