Musings + Essays

Big Old Hearts Dancing in Our Eyes.

By: Jen Shoop

Some evenings, Mr. Magpie and I stay up too late talking —

We used to call them “dream talks,” and we’d curl up against one another and imagine our futures, letting improbable fancies and fortunes spool out into the night, as if the darkness offered umbrage to imagination too bold to share in daylight.

Nowadays, we are more grounded, and these late-night conversations tend to circle around relationships, family, work, plans, our children, our children, our children, our children. There are many “I wonder if…”s and “have you noticed…?”s on the parenting front. We propel ourselves through the tough stuff of child-rearing on these nights.

And always, there is music.

Mr. Magpie loves to play the music just a little too loud. He has been this way since I met him as a teen, when I could hear the bass from his black Jeep thumping a good block before I’d see him. Against my gentle admonishments on this front, he has repeatedly told me, since I was 19 years old: “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” And so now most nights, after light bickering over the volume, we will sit, my feet on his lap, and absorb Brandi Carlile or Lauryn Hill or Sturgill Simpson and, when he is feeling particularly wistful, Duke Ellington’s “A Single Petal of a Rose” — always a few decibels higher than I’d like.

We have been on a John Prine kick the last few weeks. I am always touched, occasionally to the point of tears, by “I Remember Everything,” which seems to me a perfect portrait of the impossible ache of grief, but Mr. Magpie loves “In Spite of Ourselves,” a witty and slightly off-color love song that reminds us that, against all odds, love bears all things. This last listen, he drew me into the lyrics, nudging me at the refrain:

There won’t be nothin’
But big old hearts, dancin’ in our eyes

And that’s just how it feels, sitting on the couch these nights, exhausted but sustained by one another, reduced to nothing but heart.


+Those lyrics feel tailor made for some of the sentiments I shared in this love letter.

+Mr. Magpie makes light where there is little.

+A prayer that moved my husband to tears.

+Parenting can feel like a heart rent in too many directions.

+To the mom nursing her baby at 3 a.m.

+3 A.M. parties.

Shopping Break.

+This popular dress was just marked down to under $140 — would be so cute for a newborn shoot!

+Sweet fall/winter hair bows for a little lady.

+This cableknit sweater is basically perfect.

+Everyone’s favorite slipper is back and available in so many colors. I bought these for my nanny last Christmas and she loved them — though as Christmas approaches, they become more and more difficult to find in all sizes.

+This popular bamboo cutlery set is back in stock!

+Seriously love this top.

+Have my eye on this retinol “eye stick.” Drawn to the seeming ease of application!

+Chic finds from Madewell and how I’d style them.

+Cute letterpress gift enclosures.

+This $80 sweater is SO on-trend.

+Ordered these Halloween tags for my littles to send in to school/play group along with Halloween treats/toys. (More ideas here.)

+Love these dusty pink cords for a little lady.

+OO this rattan wall sconce is so good!

+This bag looks like Celine. Not cheap, but less than Celine and SO gorgeous.

+Cordless bamboo shades — so chic paired with simple white drapes, and such a great price.

+Chinoiserie ornaments!

+J. Crew’s new arrivals are so good ATM!

+A forever favorite in our house.

+This facial palette comes with such good colors. I don’t know how to contour, but I like these shades for blush, eye shadow, bronzer, highlighter, etc!

+Such a great fall flat in one of my favorite colors ATM. Imagine paired with one of the burgundy nap dresses!

+And speaking of burgundy — this Veronica Beard!!! I have a tiered shirtdress in a summer stripe from Mille I have worn constantly the last few weeks and this might be the perfect fall alternative.

+Fun varsity-style sweater at a good price. I would wear this over a nap dress.

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4 thoughts on “Big Old Hearts Dancing in Our Eyes.

  1. My John Prine memory: good friends – two UVA grads – sang In Spite of Ourselves as a duet at their own wedding reception. It was great!

  2. I use the retinol eye stick every night! Not sure that I’ve seen any results, but it allows me to use retinol under my eyes AND a super-hydrating eye cream instead of just an anti-aging eye cream at the expense of hydration, so it’s gotta be better than nothing, right? (and it is VERY easy to apply!)

    1. Oo good to know — I am really into ease of application since I feel like my skincare regimen is so protracted at this point. Thanks for the upvote!


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