Tough girls get what they want.

So that thing about the firepit. Remember waaaay back to a week and a half ago? When Auntie Kim came to surprise Gracie for her birthday…but really to build me a firepit and we just conveniently happened to plan it for the right weekend? Well guess what? WE BUILT A FIREPIT!

We started with a rather modest vision: I wanted a firepit with the bowl sunk down into the ground, rocks built up around it, and then a hyooooge space around it covered with crushed gravel so any sparks that went up wouldn’t land on our dry, dry grass and light up half of the metroplex. Easy enough, right? Ha! The best thing about Project: Firepit was that I went into it knowing that it wouldn’t turn out how I envisioned and that if I just let that go, I would enjoy whatever it looked like just fine when I was sitting around it roasting marshmallows.

So, Friday morning, Kim and I packed the girls off to school and went to get supplies. I already had the bowl of the firepit, and we had measured off the space in the yard where we planned to build. The next step was picking out rock. I had looked through dozens of pictures and decided on an orange-y flagstone. (What I really wanted was a “normal” color, but browns and greys are hard to come by down here. Everything is neutral or orange or white to blend in with the crappy clay “soil”, so my choices were limited.) Unfortunately, the flagstone I liked was waaaay too big to build with, and even if we found some that was workable, did I really want to mess around with cementing the stuff together? Here’s where my “just go with it – you’ll like the results when you’re roasting marshmallows” philosophy was first put to the test. After running between the two big box garden stores (that are thankfully each just a mile from my house), we decided on a greyish pre-fab block in two different widths. It at least looked like it was cut stone on the outside of the block. So we loaded up the blocks, shovels, knee pads, wheelbarrow, fancy-pants gloves, and god knows what else and headed home to start.

Here we are all excited and not-sore-yet and stuff. Ah, innocence and fresh muscles.

Firepit1 Firepit6

Once we were decked out and slathered in sunscreen and mosquito spray, we each grabbed a shovel and began digging up the grass. Digging up grass – that sounds so innocuous, doesn’t it? WELL, IT’S NOT. We spent four hours and got one row, one twelve foot row, of grass dug up. Of course, it was a pretty informative row. We learned how to angle the shovels to get just under the roots, and how to use the shovel as a lever to pry surrounding grass up. We learned just wear to hold the shovels to get the most leverage and that Sheldon wasn’t lying when he said work dirges were dead helpful. So I suppose a lot more was accomplished than just one row. But I still just about gave up hope.

Luckily, the girls were super helpful! They helped pile all of the dirt and grass into the wheelbarrow and carried it down to the compost pile.


By the end of Day 1, we had almost half of the grass dug out, grilled a feast of corn, tatoes, and steak, and had just enough energy for an epic game of Apples to Apples before passing out from exhaustion.

Day 2 was just as much fun. Bee ran about a hundred wheelbarrows of grass and dirt for us, Gracie cleaned her room in anticipation of her sleepover (yes, we had a sleepover of tweenaged girls in the middle of Project: Firepit because I am insane), and the neighbor kids came over after lunch because Kim and I can loosely supervise four kiddos as easily as we can two. Heh. Day 2 is pretty much when we wanted to die because hello aching muscles that we still needed to use over and over, but by the end, we had this:


Ta da!! If you’re not stunned and impressed by that, it’s because you’ve never tried to rip grass out of a 10×12 area of hard clay. In the middle of 90° weather, too! (Thank god for that breeze.)

Day 3 was when most of the visible progress was made. We went back to the garden store and bought a gazillion bags of gravel and picked out edging material (we decided on railroad ties instead of the really cute mini pier-type posts that I liked but were mega-spendy). And I have to give a shout-out to my tiny little Jeep Liberty – that little jeepy carried all of the pavers and all of the gravel without a problem. And with the passenger seat pushed forward and the back seat down, she also carried six 6′ ties and two 8′ railroad ties without having the hang them out the end! And she fit the furniture that we bought later! My jeep is a game day player.

Back at the farm…er…the house…we just about killed ourselves trying to dig into the ground enough to get the bowl mostly sunk. We ended up flooding the area we wanted and scooping clay out with our gloves – we were a hot mess. Literally. After washing off, we lined up the railroad ties and Gracie helped me put down the liner. Then Kim and I placed the bags of gravel around so the liner wouldn’t blow away in the high winds. And so we ended up with this at the end of Day 3:

Day 4 meant school and work for the kids and I, but Kim kept on working. She bought more gravel and got it spread. She bought the wicker set we saw for way cheap and actually fit it in my jeep (!) and finished putting the toppers on the pit. It was a very nice sight to come home to! The fire wouldn’t catch in the wind, but it was nice to sit around after all. that. work.


I’d say I can’t believe we did it, but I can. We were very determined. Maybe I should say instead that I can’t believe we got that done in just four days! And with minimal sunburns, too. (Not any until Day 4, and just on Kim. That might be more impressive than the firepit.)

I’ve been telling everyone as I show them pictures – don’t tell us we can’t do something. Tough girls get what they want! Now, if only tough girls were better at keeping plants alive, because now I keep dreaming about all the landscaping I want to put in at the fence and around the edges of my new hangout…


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2 Responses to “Tough girls get what they want.”

  1. Kim Says:

    And to think – only the tips of my ears peeled ;-P

  2. Kathy Says:

    Gorgeous!! You two are AMAZING!

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