Stupid Ideas My Husband Is Willing To Pretend He’s Willing To Go Along With, Vol. 923

We have this wonderful fire pit in the backyard.  It’s the only successful outdoor project I’ve ever accomplished (never mind that you’d have to be carried off by wolves halfway through in order NOT to succeed at something so simple).  I just dug a wide, shallow hole in the grass and then ringed it with the biggest rocks I could find.

It’s so great to have a spot for a campfire.  Little kids roast marshmallows

medium kids loll around it feeling cool, and adults wait until the kids go to bed so they can relax with a couple of beers and finally have a chance to spend a little private time together, so we can . . . talk about the kids.

The only thing really lacking is a comfortable seating arrangement.  I know, I know — we’re outdoors, so how comfortable is it supposed to get?  But I figure when one is pregnant with one’s ninth child, one is allowed to seek out comfort pretty much all the time.

On the other hand, the last thing I want is more stuff cluttering up the yard.  Our property already looks like it’s waiting for FEMA  to come and assess the damage.  This situation is the result of my enlightened, progressive philosophy of radically unstructured childhood

which means that I can feel GOOD about snarling at the kids to go outside and play with their bits of wood because Mama is doing research.

So it was obvious to me that what we needed for the firepit was something like those library floor chairs

except made out of grass.  Lo and behold, there is actually a kit for such a thing!

But it seems to be out of stock.  So I says to myself, “Do I really want to pay for specialized cardboard anyway?  How hard could this actually be?”  And of course it turns out there are DIY plans for a grass couch, although the photo

is clearly a big fat, photoshopped lie.  On the other hand, any project that concludes, “Once the sod has taken root, remove the chopsticks” certainly sounds like something we would find ourselves involved with.  On the other other hand, it also seems to involve measuring stuff.  So that’s out.

My next idea — actually, my next idea was an in-ground trampoline

but we cycled through that terrain of stupidity pretty quickly and emerged unscathed on the other side (not that it’s not an incredibly awesome idea, which it is, but because the way it would work out at our house would have all of the usual jammed fingers and shattered clavicles associated with normal trampolines, plus a live burial or two).

But my next idea after that was to pick up one of those free couches from the side of the road and just cover it with dirt and chicken wire, throw some grass seed on, and see what happens next time it rains.

Usually, my husband considers it one of his primary duties to talk me out of bringing other people’s vermin into the house — so in the past, he’s been against the idea of one of these road couches.  But what if, this time, it was supposed to be covered with bugs?

But honestly, I don’t actually want a whole couch.  I just want a little back rest, so there will be something to catch me if I have a second beer.  So now I’m thinking, what if we pick up a couple of wooden kitchen chairs from a yard sale, chop off or maybe even bury the legs, and make some kind of stupid fortification around it with stakes and chicken wire, and then fill it with dirt and grass seed?  Huh, huh, what about that?

Someone either talk me out of this, or tell me exactly what I need to do to make this happen, please!  It’s either this or I start thinking about raising ducks again.


  1. I am in wholehearted support and can’t wait to see what you come up with! This would’ve never occurred to me…

  2. Dang, had I known you were looking for busted up chairs, I could have sent THREE your way yesterday. Instead, we … uh… toss them into our fire ring…..

  3. I love you for so many reasons- today being the fact that you’ve given me the exact phrases I was lacking to describe both my yard (“waiting for FEMA to come and assess the damage”) AND my parenting style (“enlightened, progressive philosophy of radically unstructured childhood”). Plus, you’re going to try and make a grass chair. How is this not the best thing I’m going to read all day?

    Bury the legs. It will help keep the chair in place while the whole thing becomes a permanent structure in your yard. Eventually, the legs will rot, but by then you’ll have a lovely grassy knoll.

    Take lots and lots of pictures, because wild horses couldn’t stop me from making some of my own if it works.

  4. The problem with something level with the fire is that then you’re on the ground, and once you’re finished being on the ground, you have to get up again. And if you’re me, that’s not so easy when you’re pregnant.

    • I think the structure, if properly executed, will give a person just enough lift off the ground to be able to gather her legs underneath to make standing easier.

  5. I have a firepit and have asked the same question.
    My suggestion: Cut down one of those big trees in the background (or wait until a big thunderstorm fells one, or it dies from Emerald Ash Borer). Use a chain saw to cut the trunk into 3″ or 4″ segments to serve as round wooden seats. Throw a cushion on top. You can, if you want, cut a larger section of trunk, say, 2 feet long; then cut it in half lengthwise. Voila! A chairback! Stick them both next to the firepit and get the marshmallows.

  6. You could probably build something pretty neat with cob (traditional mud/sand/clay/straw building mixture). You could just mix up a big batch of cob and sculpt it into a low reclining couch shape (or whatever shape you wanted). That would allow you to mold it in a curve around the pit, even! AND be a great project for all those radically unstructured kids running around outside. 😉

  7. How about you bury the bottom of the couch you pick up from the side of the road – bury the legs maybe a foot or so, but leave a little lip, so the “seat” is not level with the ground – then cover with the chicken wire and grass seed as you describe – or maybe spread chia pet paste all over it for more imeediate results – good luck!

  8. How about beach chairs? Do they have those in the northeast? They are usually about six inches from the ground and have adjustable backs.

    • Yes! Costco has some very comfortable beach chairs with built-in but adjustable neck pillows and cup holders for your drinks. And you can recline them just the way you like.

      • Good god yes!! Beach chairs!! The basic, low to the ground, outdoorsy chairs that fold up and go anywhere, including firepits.

        Or adirondack chairs, also a low-slung chair and especially nice in the summertime.

      • I do not think an in ground trampoline would be safer at all – rather than falling half on/half off the trampoline, they would smack have on the trampoline, and on the ground. I think this idea is much worse than the typical one. I think I’ve seen comforters and pillows around the outside of above ground trampolines that seems MUCH safer

  9. We have the same problem with our fire pit. The ground is uneven, too, which adds more complications with chairs. I have this vision where I take the beautiful wooden swings that my sister in law painted for the girls (and which I had to replace because wildly swinging blocks of wood were turning the swingset into a torture pit) and somehow bolting them onto stumps from tree trunks. We have tree trunks, too! But I can’t figure out exactly how to do this. I still think it’s a good idea for the kids, though. I think it would be hard to get a tree trunk piece that is high enough to seat an adult comfortably, though. In the grocery stores here they sell benches and chairs made of unfinished wood for fairly cheap (like $80 for the bench) and I’ve thought about that, too, but I can’t bring myself to pay the money when I have those tree trunks…. Our problem is that neither my husband or I are handy at all. We barely manage to keep lightbulbs in the lamps, so these complicated projects I envision are usually impossible to execute.

  10. Coleman’s fold up armchairs are the very best — comfortable, sturdy, light, easy set up, waterproof, drink holders and zipper pockets on each arm. I’ll come back with a link

  11. Plant some wild honeysuckle around that sunken chair or mound of mud or whatever it is. In no time at all you’ll look like Titania the fairy queen in her flowery bower.

    Radically unstructured childhood–the only way to go. My grown kids are all so creative. Unemployed, but creative.

  12. I just have to say, friends of mine had a trampoline anchored in the ground like that and it was a BLAST. We visited them about six years ago and my kids are still talking about it. SUPER FUN.

  13. I don’t know, I think I would prefer something more solid, like wood. A grass chair would always be wet from the rain and there would be no way to dry off somethin so absorbant. So your but would always be wet. Also, as someone who was 9 months pregnant (for the 4th time in as many years) just 7 weeks ago, take it from me. Whatever chair you decide on should come with some sort of sling and pulley thing to pull your aching hips up out of it.

  14. Use your lawn chairs. Gaze downward at the fire, to your heart’s content. Get a little table or build up a mound of dirt so that you can put grass within hand’s reach, to throw into the fire, if it’s that big a deal. 🙂

  15. Awesome idea.

    Your property looks like mine except that our yard is probably 1/10 the size of yours and has just as much flotsam. Every once in while I throw stuff into the garage and every once in a while I go on a tear throwing things out, but mostly it’s a free-for-all of broken buckets, roly-polies, tunnels, mud and kindling. I’m trying to figure out how to keep the kids from ripping apart the woodpile so we can have a fire or two next winter, but so far I’ve mostly just succeeded in sounding shrewish.

  16. Ah, that I could but have a fire pit. We currently have a burning ban and lack of rain necessary to grow grass…but I would if I could. Love the grass chair!

  17. But isn’t it too unseemly to sit close to the ground when one is wearing a skirt? Also, way too difficult to get up and run to the house to fetch the Jerk’s beers.

    • Last time we were outside, my husband was heard to mutter, “INVISIBLE SCORPIONS EVERYWHERE.” So he’s very understanding when my frail feminine character tempts me to wear jeans. Also, he’s such a gentleman that, from the second trimester on, he always volunteers to tend bar.

  18. I think you made an error in your writing …the beer comment towards the end. Beer and pregnancy NEVER go together (which I know you already know but probably forgot when writing the piece… you never know who will read this).

    I think nice easy-to-clean plastic lawn chairs would be best, especially when pregnant cause you know at some point your not going to want to lower down into anything at floor level. Not to mention, closer to the ground means more bugs climbing up your legs (which I just can not stand myself).

    The grass sofa looks interesting but again, bugs. Sorry, I hate anything where there will most likely be a mound of ants (or several mounds) living in while I sit on it. Eww! 🙂

    • Ah, I’ll bite, I have no kids (and thus cannot have CPS called on me) and perhaps Simcha did make an error and was really talking about non-alcoholic beer.

      However, only heavy drinking has been studied and not the occasional beer. There is very little evidence that this would harm a child:

      ~ The following is a comment on society at large (not on you Kaylan). It is interesting how we heavily restrict what women can drink/eat for the sake of the child, and yet she can have the child killed and few would blink an eye. Many will gasp in shock if a pregnant woman sits down at a bar, yet if that same woman walks into PP they turn the other way.

      • Yeah, there was a study last year that showed that light drinking is safe (I’d dig it up if I weren’t so drunk right now). So, yeah, I have a beer a couple of times a week, starting in the second trimester (tastes bad to me in the first trimester, and feels iffy anyway). I drank lightly through previous pregnancies, too, before the study came out, because I took a good look at the way pregnant women are treated (like mentally disabled, sociopathic cows) and figured that if there WERE proof that light drinking were harmful, the studies would be everywhere — but I couldn’t find a single study.

          • Yes, there was a study done that proved that light drinking during pregnancy wasn’t harmful. My midwife told me (before the study was done) that it’s only in North America that we totally freak out about drinking during pregnancy, and that taking alcohol away from pregnant Europeans would probably get you killed (okay, making that part up).

            If you have more than one kid, I think drinking during pregnancy can preserve sanity.

            • We had neighbors from Great Britain, and there the doctors allow them the occasional drink during pregnancy. I think the concern here is that if you tell people that they can do something in moderation, they’ll do it but without the moderation.

              My wife just had our second child a couple of days ago, and she had the occasional brew during the second and third trimester. No harm done.

          • Well, remember, the Jerk is now drinking for three. Himself, Simcha and the Baby. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. You probably should dig a hole for a cooler next to the fire too.

        • I’m in England. With my first pregnancy, the guidelines on alcohol changed a couple of times. It’s not outright condemned, just to be reasonable about it. And yes, there was a study showing that drinking in moderation during pregnancy is not harmful and instead has benefits. I’d look it up if I didn’t have a child on my lap trying to push buttons on the computer. 😉

      • ABCnews did a follow up article on this study and even the researchers did mention that it should not give pregnant moms a green light to drink.

        In all my studies in college (recent classes), even one drink is too many according to the books. There are always studies to disprove another study.

        The way I look at it, its better to be safe than sorry. The study you mention is still ongoing too (they said they need to monitor the kids in the study longer, as they mature).

        I think the study would only give consolation to a mom who might have had a drink or two before she realized she was pregnant. But given all the miraculous and scientific wonders that occur in the first trimester, no one in their right mind would want to intentionally drink something that might cause problems in the fetus. I know with myself, I’ve heard pros and cons of MSG when pregnant and so I give up my beloved Chinese food (or that which does have the stuff in it) when I’m pregnant. It is a big sacrifice but I did manage to find some recipes that almost tasted like the sweet and sour chicken I so loved (I say almost and well, that worked for me).

        Personally, I think if your pregnant and really hate giving up a drink, just offer it up (this is the spiritual part). You can offer up the sacrifice as a prayer for your new little one to come (and also for a safe and healthy delivery).

        I think it’s a good point to mention the abortion issue. Yeah, society is pretty screwed up with that viewpoint. It’s like the number one evil in our world today and most of it continues to go unseen. I read several reports on the subject and I know that a lot of abortion happens due to lack of support. Women (or teens) don’t get the support they need from the father of the unborn baby, nor their parents. Instead, it is often the boyfriend or relatives telling her to abort when in fact, she would keep the baby if she had someone to help her out and support her emotionally. How sad is that? Goes to show you how selfish people are in our society too.

        • Good grief! I just think this sort of mindset is very damaging to women in general. The truth is we only have so much control over how our kids turn out. We can make ourselves crazy thinking all of our actions and inactions are responsible for every little trait our offspring possess. Too much caution leads to unnecessary fingerpointing and quite damaging self blame when bad things happen. And bad things do happen. Only a very few of them can be prevented. Fetal Alchohol Syndrome is prevented by not drinking to excess. Not by not drinking a few budweisers.

          For concrete proof that a little alcohol doesn’t hurt unborn children, I point to several millenia of mostly healthy children where nearly every pregnant woman drank wine and/or beer.

          I was last pregnant very recently. The handouts the high risk doctors at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia gave me said having a few drinks is fine. Even in our litigious age, these docs who manage some of the trickiest pregnancies in the area are willing to put in writing that a few drinks won’t hurt the baby.

    • I’m one to vomit around the clock during the entire seven months or so my body will hold a preborn child. My typical weight loss during pregnancy runs about 25 pounds so alcohol is pretty much the last thought on my mind. However, I’ll never forget my shock a little more than 13 years ago when my first high risk OB (who happened to be world renowned in his field) told me that a drink or two a day was fine.

      SInce then, the majority of pregnant women I’ve seen at social events are enjoying a glass or two of wine or beer so I think that advice is becoming the norm.

      I’m with you on the bugs though. I’m pretty sure any grass covered chair I’d be sitting in would need to be covered in deet and that’s probably still off the pregnant lady list.

  19. Yeah, I’m with Young Mom. I think it would be really wet, and probably star to get mouldy fast. You don’t want hundreds of interesting bus scuttling over you every time you sit down, while your butt squishes out green slime.

    Oh, good, about unstructured kids. I thought I was too lazy to play with mine, but actually i’m just unstructured. Although, you know, right now my older one is watching his second hour of Veggie Tales while the baby naps and Mommy spends time online….

  20. Yeah, I’m with Young Mom. I think it would be really wet, and probably start to get mouldy fast. You don’t want hundreds of interesting bugs scuttling over you every time you sit down, while your butt squishes out green slime.

    Oh, good, about unstructured kids. I thought I was too lazy to play with mine, but actually i’m just unstructured. Although, you know, right now my older one is watching his second hour of Veggie Tales while the baby naps and Mommy spends time online….

  21. PS. This is off topic but do you ever watch that 19 Kids and Counting tv show? I see it once in awhile and just have to admit how envious I am of that family. Christian, truly well-mannered children who actually like to help each other. Not to mention (and the biggest amazement of them all) the patience and strength of the mom!

    Of course, secular society gawks in awe at a family that has 19 kids but historically that’s not that odd. St. Catherine of Siena, for example, was #23 in her own family and for some reason, when I read her life story I always think of the poor mom. Her mother had 25 (or more) children, half of which had died (this was back in the 1300’s mind you when medicine was not that great). St. Catherine was born when her mother was 40 years old.

    Okay, getting side tracked here but just curious if you watch the show or not. Have a great weekend!

      • Maybe its not the right word (well-mannered), but I noticed when the mom is talking about what the kids are doing (or what she has asked of them), the lessons are pretty wise in their philosophy. One example. The mom was talking about how her older daughter will ask the younger children to help clean, giving each child a task in the process. But the mom said it wasn’t so much the cleaning that was important, as it was having the child work with the others and feel they are needed. I really liked the last part.. “feel they are needed”. The rest of the episode basically talked about helping family. I know I’ve tried to incorporate this idea into my own family.. get the kids to realize that when they pitch in to help, they are helping not just themselves but the entire family. I’m still working on the lesson so that it will sink in. So when I saw Mrs. Duggar seemingly way ahead on this lesson, I was just inspired. Plus, she just has that natural down-to-earth, no anger-what-so-ever attitude. True, they are on camera but the camera is there a LOT and you’d think you’d see more impatient moments. 🙂

    • SHE LIVES!!!!!!!!! Don’t laugh too hard, it’s bad for your milk, your baby will have high blood pressure because of the nitrogen bubbles! (Not really, but why should you be immune from bogus science just because you’re not pregnant anymore?)

      Re your link: I weep for mankind.

      • Ah, but have you heard David Sedaris’ piece on this? HILARIOUS. One might say, “pee-your-pants funny!” ha!

    • Having had a baby sit directly on my bladder for 2 weeks during my pregnancy I can attest to the side benefit of a catheter and leg bag. No getting up at night to go pee and no need to use a gross bathroom when on a car trip!!

  22. Can I just say you are the best!? I absolutely love your posts. Not sure what to do for the chairs, but be sure to let us see!

  23. Not sure how safe a chair like that one pictured above would be for a pregnant lady. But I always drank when my wife was pregnant…the kids turned out fine. ((other then a little dyslexia here and there))

  24. My lazy, wine-drinking, yet still sola-skirtura self thinks: why not just drag pillows and blankets outside? Not nice ones, mind. Ones your kids have already ruined with their sticks and dirt, like mine have. Or, you could just do what you and I and many poor parents already have, and just revel in that trash couch. I’m typing this on a trash chair with my feet propped up a trash ottoman while my kids try to sleep on their army surplus beds. I just wish we had a spare trash couch for the fire pit… (let me know if you need a dining table, I have three…)

  25. Y’know, the more I read your work, Simcha, the more you remind me of Erma Bombeck (God rest her soul). I’ve yet to see a post from you I haven’t come away from smiling.

  26. When I could no longer sleep in my third trimester and my husband was traveling and I was having a mental meltdown begged my doctor for sleep aid. “drink some wine or sherry before bed. You don’t want all those chemicals they put in medicine in your kid.” It worked and sanity was restored.

    I personally don’t depend on studies as evidenced by all my kids were tummy sleepers as infants.

    • Thumbs up to this one! use hay if you want it to sprout, straw if you don’t. put one down to sit on, perfect height and two or three stacked behind you with a blanket thrown over to lean back against. perfect, outdoorsy and if you aren’t in the drought areas, pretty cheap.

  27. I think you should squat at the fire. The trolls would have a ball over such.

    In other news, lay off the cigars while you’re pregnant.

    This ends the near midnight, full spectrum advice of the old lady, Full Spectrum Mom.

  28. Also, we bought our house largely in part due to the lovely natural gas firepit in the backyard. Turn a handle, flick the lighter, and it’s on. Turn the handle again, and it’s off. I love it.

    • Nice! We have a wooded area which should yield lots of fuel for the fire, but we’ve had nothing but rain all summer, so end up buying bundles of wood from the gas station. I always feel silly doing it when you can barely go six feet without bumping into a tree, but it’s still cheaper than going to the movies.

      • It’s also a great way to avoid making supper. “Hot dogs and s’mores over the firepit tonight, kids!”

        “Yay! Best mom ever!”

        And no kitchen clean-up, either!

  29. Simcha, I think you can use whatever kind of ground-level throne befitting the marvelous multipara you are…now what you NEED is a ropeswing, or maybe an overhead bar…got a rusty old swingset you can drag over near the firepit? This way when you decide to get up, you have something to grab onto and pull your pregnant self up!
    Ooh! Oooh! And then you can use it to hang onto when it’s time to give birth, squatting by the firepit in December! There ya go! I’m here to help.

  30. Simcha, my husband thinks that you need to have someone invent a sarcastic font for you. He also has a saying, “If you can’t mow it, don’t grow it.” That’s the first thing I thought when I saw the picture of the chair and the couch.

  31. I vote for hay bales, too! You’ll have to throw beach blankets over it to sit, but you’d have to on a grass chair anyway. Easy to wash the blankets in between, and the hay bale should be too tightly tied to come apart in one season.

    You can pile them up and make a hay couch, just putting a few pieces of rebar in here and there deep inside to hold them together.

    I remember my cousins on a farm doing that when we were little.

    The trick is finding bales, not those horrible big round hay truck tires.

  32. My neighbors have just the trampoline set up you propose, worked just great for 15 years till the 5 kids grew up, did it because the legs rusted off and it was cheaper than new a new one and kept the oldest 3 boys busy for days digging the hole. no injures either, but to the passerby to see a high school age boy jun across the yard and suddenly jump 8 feet up in the air is priceless

  33. Can you tell us exactly how you placed the trampoline in the ground. Is there anything bracing it? How deep of a hole did you dig? Thinking it would be a great idea.

  34. I’d just like to say that raising ducks is a great option. Although the point where you end up with 35-odd yellow ducklings wandering around your kitchen is maybe the time to start cutting back.

  35. OK girls, this is the way I would do it. build a raised garden. 4 pieces of wood in roughly the right shape, add dirt. build another one on top of this the height you want. lengthwise to the first. if you want to be fancy add 2 more on the ends. after all these are filled and allowed to compact. remove the 2 boards toward the firepit, so that the dirt can sort of erode down. throw the grass seed on and Walla, after only a month or so. Lawn sofa. Now you need a lawn sofa mower.

  36. Oi, adorei extraordinariamente do seu website! gostei pois o materia muito bem escrito.
    escrevi um blogue no mesmo tipo de conteúdo e gostaria de ver
    se você tem alguma sugestão para quem está começando a escrever sobre isso.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s