We had our last play group gathering at a beach-type pool nearby (Contra Loma in Antioch, for those in the Bay Area). They have a large, shallow pool, with a nice sand bank on one side, perfect for young swimmers and tots who can’s even walk yet but know how to sit on sand in shallow water and splash up a good time.
The girls were thrilled to wade and play with their play mates in chest-high water, and were equally excited to wear their life vests and water wings (not at the same time) and try out the deeper water. There were lifeguards on duty who spent most of their shift yelling at kids to stop throwing sand (not to mean that the kids there were out of control, but to point out that the mass of little swimmers kept it safe enough that the lifeguards had little else to do but scold the sand-throwers).
Hubby came with us, which means I actually got to socialize with my friends a bit (not always possible at play dates, with two girls to watch who are always running in opposite directions). My sister, now at the tail-end of her maternity leave, and her 4-month-old baby came, too, and a good time was had by all. The girls had a tough time choosing between staying in the water and camping out under the beach umbrella next to their favorite baby in the world, and we had to drag them out of there screaming for more swim time and more cousin-love time. They were good and tired after all that, so we had successful naps and early bed times. It’s a bit too far away to go on a regular basis, but that’s not stopping the kids from asking every day if we can go back.