Star light, star bright

by Jennifer on March 29, 2008

bigdippers_lodriguss1.jpgA little bit of magic happened tonight, and it was more than I had any reason to hope for after the day we’ve had. Yes, I know I had big plans for a nap and some wine, but it didn’t shape up to be that kind of day at all. By the end of the afternoon, we were all a bit cranky and tired of each other, so we headed to Home Depot and Target, with the mission of finding a few things to pretty up the back patio. It’s been looking very drab lately, and I thought that a few new pillows for the chairs and some new tile for the table would make all the difference.

We came home with arms full, and we got to work. After lifting out the old tiles from the table frame, I set the new ones in place, a change that lifted my spirits immediately. Girl put the new pillows on the chairs, and we lit a candle in the lantern that’s been sitting there empty for months.

Earlier, I told the kids that if we finished our project, we could sit outside on the patio and enjoy the new look. Girl, especially, was delighted by this.

When I say that we never use our patio, it’s not much of an exaggeration. We have a desert backyard, with little landscaping, and it usually looks pretty barren. But things have really grown in over the winter, and everything is blooming, so it’s lovely at this time of year. I’ve been embarrassed by the state of the patio all these months, and have missed using it. This was just what we all needed, especially after the long day we had.

“Are we going to sit outside and talk?” Girl asked, her voice full of excitement.

“Yes, yes we are.”

“Boy!” she called inside. “Come outside! We’re going to sit outside and enjoy the patio!” Yes, she said that. It was very sweet and hopeful, and I felt about an inch tall, like I had been depriving all of us of that particular pleasure for a very long time. It took 15 minutes, plus the trip to the store, and not that much money to transform the patio from plain to warm.

We sat there, talking and watching the candlelight cast a pattern through the scrollwork of the lantern and onto the ceiling. Stars blinked into view. Girl led our discussion on a meandering path through the topics of new friends, our lives (what things we like), and then onward to a talent show of their favorite dances. She loves to dance, so she gave the longest performances. They were more elegant than Boy’s, but he showed a lot of enthusiasm.

As the sky grew darker, constellations appeared and I pointed out Orion and Cassiopeia. Then, to my surprise, Boy found the Big Dipper on his own. And then the Little Dipper. On his own. I’m sure I’ve pointed them out before, but not recently, so his specific knowledge of both of them had to have come from books or a very good memory. He has read a few children’s books about astronomy, but it still surprised me how fast he found them both. He was very pleased with himself, as I was.

We sat down again, and the Girl sang a song that she swore she made up right then, on the spot. (Who knows. The words mostly made sense.) It was just peaceful listening to her and watching her dance around, both on the patio and in the yard. Not afraid of bees (as she usually is) or of bugs or lizards on the ground (as she always is). She was just free and happy.

At almost any point earlier in the day, I would not have expected to see that side of her personality today. The Boy had been grumpy, too. We all needed this. It was nothing, just to take the time to be outside and look at the sky and at each other, without interruption from the phone or the computer or TV. Just us. All that mattered were the words we said and what made us laugh and how beautiful the sky looked. The timeless stuff that can sustain a soul.

The truth is, we didn’t need new pillows or tile in order to enjoy this evening. All we had to do, all along, was take two steps. Two easy, hopeful steps outside.

Before we went back into the house, the Girl asked, “Can we do this every night?”

Most likely not, not every night or even most nights, but more of them. It wasn’t so hard. We will try.



Psst…Go wish flutter a Happy Birthday!

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn March 29, 2008 at 11:47 pm

Beautiful. Beautiful story. I had a similar experience today. As you know, we turned off our lights for Earth Hour and enjoyed yoga by candlelight tonight. No televsion, no computer, just some nice quiet family time. (Well, except the part where Csilla ran around like a bat out of hell, but the rest was really nice.)

It makes me think about the time I spend blogging. It’s all well and good to enjoy my passion for writing, but what is there to write about if I don’t live my life first, right? You’ve demonstrated this perfectly tonight with your post.

Thanks for the reminder that we all need to spend more time decompressing through simple pleasures (like talking with our families) and less time on the seemingly “urgent, but not important”.


flutter March 30, 2008 at 1:42 am

You are sweet for more than a few reasons, I am so glad for the sweetness you got to have with your kids.

Thank you for all the birthday love, babe.


suburbancorrespondent March 30, 2008 at 6:14 am

That’s is wonderful. I love those moments. And maybe they wouldn’t be so special if they weren’t so rare. I agreed to let my 2 of my younger kids ride their bikes today as we walked into town, which tends to be a major pain and takes much longer and there is so much traffic and I was sort of in a hurry and yada, yada, yada; but they enjoyed it so much and really, what would I have gotten done at home if I had returned sooner anyway? So I was glad I had slowed down and listened to their simple request.


TEOM? March 30, 2008 at 7:01 am

Going outside is such a powerful experience. Glad you are savoring these days with your little ones.


Daryl E March 30, 2008 at 7:27 am

Nice .. I, like Girl, fear all sorts of flying and creeping icky things, so evenings are less scary .. watching the stars come out .. relaxing .. it sounds like it was just a really nice ending to a not so great starting day.

My nice day ended w/Husband watching basketball and me playing on the computer as well as the cats .. city life is a lot less pretty


Dave March 30, 2008 at 7:54 am

I’m a big fan of star-gazing. I think it puts everything (including our troubles) back into their proper scale!

: )


Treasia March 30, 2008 at 8:15 am

What a wonderful way to spend time with family. Sometimes all the little things mean so much and leave just the right mark on our kids.


Lisa Milton March 30, 2008 at 8:29 am

Sounds like magic, right outside your door. Oh to see the stars – it’s been raining, hailing and snowing this week!

You’re a gifted mom.


AMomTwoBoys March 30, 2008 at 8:44 am



slouching mom March 30, 2008 at 9:42 am

I loved this post — the earnestness of your daughter especially.

And nice tiling, too!


Neva March 30, 2008 at 9:43 am

I love your patio! and The night sky looks awesome! what a nice evening for you! and this is what you get where you live instead of space like I have here…more moments to be OUTSIDE and enjoying the beautiful view!


Tootsie Farklepants March 30, 2008 at 9:51 am

This is so sweet! I love warm spring evenings!


Jenn @ Juggling Life March 30, 2008 at 10:20 am

It is always when you least expect it that the magic happens.


Kellan March 30, 2008 at 11:27 am

It sounds like it was simply delightful – I’m so glad for all of you!

Thanks so much for coming by and for the well wishes – I have missed you – I’ll see you soon. Kellan


Mad Madge March 30, 2008 at 11:39 am

when i come over to sit on your patio i am not singing dancing or drinking. ok, i’m not doing two out of the three…


cce March 30, 2008 at 2:01 pm

We were able to get outside a bit this weekend too. It’s so simple a restorative, so remarkable a salve. The big, big sky can really help put it all in perspective.


Crazycath March 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Yet another lovely post. The best things in life are free aren’t they?

What a wonderful, peaceful evening. And so simple. It’s amazing what we miss at the end of our noses and I am no different to you there! This post inspires me to change that.

Been to flutter’s too!


Milena March 30, 2008 at 2:34 pm

More than a little magic I would say but as it was born of small changes, then I will have to agree with you. How wonderful that you were able to enjoy this time with your family Jennifer. It seemed like your world slowed to a treacle like consistency and that is a nice thing to have happen when you are enjoying the moment. I remember many such times in my life. They are wonderful.


Nicole P March 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm

I love this post. Beautiful. These are the special moments that we will remember!


Sandy (Momisodes) March 30, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Absolutely love reading your posts. This was so heartwarming 🙂 What a special night to savor. You and your children are so sweet.


JCK March 30, 2008 at 8:18 pm

These are the moments that underline why we became mothers. When time stands still and the beauty of one’s children and the blessings fill your heart.


the mama bird diaries March 30, 2008 at 8:35 pm

That was so beautiful.

Just a lovely reminder to go with the flow and energy of ourselves and our children.

This post I’ll take with me.


Jules~ March 31, 2008 at 10:15 am

Bravo! Thank you for sharing this. It is so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of the day and not enjoy the quiet moments for being together.
How fun to examine the stars and point things out. I am so bad at that. I think I could make the Dipper out of any point in the sky.


Angela March 31, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Oh, I can’t wait to do this sort of thing again. Winter has been toooooooooo long, and I do love my porch and deck. Happy Spring!


Bipolarlawyercook March 31, 2008 at 3:24 pm

How wonderful, to have something grow so quickly out of something remade!


HRH March 31, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Such a wonderful evening.


Brenda April 7, 2008 at 8:19 am

The magic is that you DON’T do this all the time. Of course more would be nice, but if you did it every night, it wouldn’t be as magical. It might be as wonderful in a different way, but not the same magic.

Definitely do it more. Just the affect on the children is worth it, never mind your own peacefulness.


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