Today is a special day in the Orth-Normoyle house, y’all! It’s April Pool’s Day, the official start of summertime… at least in our backyard. Technically, we have a house full of folks no matter what the season, but this is when we officially open up the pool for all our friends and family to pop over and cool off.
Here in Jacksonville, it’s been a warmer winter than we’ve had for a few years, so it isn’t as big a celebration as usual. Ironically enough, now that April is here, it’s been rainy and cold. We sympathize with all y’all up north who are still digging out from about 14 nor’easters. I’m sorry. Come visit!
As you know, we put the pool in at this time two years ago, so we have slowly been adding to our outdoor space ever since. Rick, my uncle and my brother built the enormous deck, and we’ve been gardening and planting and adjusting and staining wood and chopping that darn never-ending tree and shopping for what seems like a whole lot longer than a year. As my uncle famously said while packing up his power tools, “You’ll never run out of things to build, buy and fix when you have a pool.”
Uncle Jeff knows what’s up.
Of course Rick, the crazy New Yorker that he is, already hopped in the pool this year. As a native Floridian, my preferred swimming temperature is somewhere between tepid bath water and bubbling hot tub, but he’s capable of withstanding much chillier temps. Swimming season for me is the same as white shoe season – Memorial Day to Labor Day and not a moment before.
Funny thing is, in North Florida, you never quite know when “winter” will officially be “over.”
Usually it’s chilly (for us) until it’s 100 degrees – there’s not a lot of Spring or Fall in these parts.
You don’t have to have a pool to enjoy this list of April Pool’s Day goodies. I’ve got a grab bag with lots of these items to take to our annual camping trip to Ginnie Springs or on cruises. They’re photogenic, so why not? We’ve been so busy with consulting projects and influencer campaigns, there has been ZERO time to pop over to Target or the St. Johns Town Center for actual shopping. And since I loathe shopping anyhow, I’ve been taking advantage of the online marketplace more than I ever have, outside of Christmas. As I’ve added to our backyard haven and my suitcase, I thought perhaps you’d like to take advantage of some of my many hours of research with this, our very first April Pool’s Day gift guide.
MUST HAVE INFLATABLES
Gone are the days when a 99 cent styrofoam noodle was adequate gear for a pool party. Nowadays, you better not show up to the fiesta without a magical inflatable creature or trendy food item in tow.
Sharks are my perennial favorite, as you already know, but mermaids, unicorns and flamingos continue to be hot on the ‘Gram. This year I’m really liking more obscure sea creatures, too, like Giant Jellyfish, Seahorse and even Nessie, an 8-ft. inflatable sea monster.
This menagerie does double duty for as when we load up the inflatable zoo for our annual Orthapalooza camping trip at Ginnie Springs. We have up to 100 friends and more rafts than you’ve ever seen floating down the Santa Fe River. We’ve been doing this trip for almost 20 years, and in the early days we used boring old inner tubes. TUBES, you guys. Like savages.
Now, Rachel and I are contemplating this 10-foot flamingo for our flotilla. Should we?
A note from a float enthusiast: food-focused inflatables tend to be flatter and easier to stretch out on than their whimsical animal counterparts. I like this avocado and this bacon and this pineapple. Mmmm, sounds like a salad I’d eat IRL.
Obviously, novelty floats are all the rage and look best on Instagram, but sometimes you just want to veg and not have to pose like some influencer goddess on a blow-up unicorn all day. I like this two-person option, this foam floater and this cozy circular float with canopy. I also like this non-inflatable type, because it does double duty in the pool and on the deck or sand to relax when the water is too cold.
SWIMSUITS & SHADES
Now that you’ve plopped down $50 smackers on a rose gold flamingo, you’ll want to budget the rest of your April Pool’s Day money a little more wisely. One way I save is by shopping for shades at Sunglass Warehouse. I’ve never been one to spend a fortune on designer sunglasses – it just seems silly to fork over hundreds when you know you can get the same look for under $15 online. At that price, you can buy more than one pair and you don’t have to have a nervous breakdown if you drop them into the Central Park Pond at Thanksgiving and make your boyfriend JUMP IN THE WATER to retrieve them. (Note: not me, not my sunglasses. But my poor brother was the schmuck in the pond on a 36-degree day.)
I took a boatload of Sunglass Warehouse styles with me to St. Lucia last year, and you can bet most of them are coming along for our next visit to Nevis or The Bahamas. (Except the ones Rachel commandeered. What else are little sisters for?!)
What I save on shades I then pour into my swimsuit budget, which brings me to my next point. Trying on bathing suits is probably the worst part of winter’s end, amiright? If you’re anything like me, you’re pasty and probably still sporting the result of one too many Christmas cookies. And let’s face it, fluorescent dressing room lights aren’t doing anyone any favors.
This is why I’m getting all my swimsuits from Amazon this year. They’re reasonably priced, they arrive in a day or two with Prime and returns are free and super easy. I’ve bought most of these already and have the rest in my cart for when I lose weight. LOL.
*Don’t buy these same suits and then come to my house looking all svelte. I might smack you with a bacon raft.
GRILL. At House Normoyle, we like to grill while we chill, and have been doing so quite often with our Char-Broil 5 Burner grill. We’ve been using it for almost a year and it really is just the right size for the two of us or the 20 of us, whichever it happens to be on a given day. It’s on sale now if you’re in the market, and so much easier to order online if you don’t have a big enough vehicle to pick up at Home Depot or WalMart.
MUSIC. The world is a hot mess, but as far as technology goes, times are great. As I swam laps with my underwater bluetooth headphones pumping Britney Spears and my Apple Watch recording my heart rate and lap split times, I couldn’t help but thank the Lord that I wasn’t born before 1981. I love my tech!
Last year we relied on iPhone speakers to listen to our jams poolside, but this year we have a Sharkk waterproof Bluetooth speaker. (A birthday gift from Mom!) I’m also liking these wireless floating speakers.
PHOTOS. It would be really weird if I didn’t document every backyard shenanigan, so I’m including a couple of my current favorites for capturing our fiestas. We love our GoPro HERO5. It’s waterproof and durable, and the wide angle makes our smallish yard look so much bigger. And of course, our DJI Mavic Pro is awesome for the birds’-eye view of our backyard.
We have to take care though – Vader and Leia freak out and try to jump and catch it!
Once we built our beautiful deck, it occurred to us that it might be nice to have somewhere to sit aside from the bare wood. Too bad we spent all our budget on lumber! This year, we’ll be adding some loungers and hammocks to the space so our guests don’t have to burn their biscuits while soaking up the sun. I’m tempted to get some of the camping hammocks from REI, just so they can be packed up and used when we go to Ginnie Springs in May.
SIGNAGE & SAFETY
When the whole foster care thing happens for us we’ll add lots more kid friendly and safety-minded goodies to our April Pool’s Day list. For now, we are installing a pool alarm and picking out a personalized life ring on Etsy.
ANGIE’S SUMMER READING LIST
A little known fact about our backyard is that it’s both a fun zone for rowdy summer weekends and my quiet weekday haven. When we don’t have folks over celebrating April Pool’s Day and every other holiday, you can find me out there reading and slowing down.
I’ve recently read:
- Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown
- Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker
- Wild, Cheryl Strayed
- The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware
- Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Curtis Sittenfeld
And my Summer Reading List includes:
- The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World, Torre de Roche
- Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis
- Why Her?, Nicki Koziarz
- Caribbean, A Novel , James Michener
For my entire April Pool’s Day guide plus even more goodies I couldn’t fit into one post, check it out here.
This post contains affiliate links. Should you use them to buy April Pool’s Day goodies of your own, I’ll receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for helping us keep the party going all summer long!