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February Free Calendar Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

This February wallpaper is inspired by thoughts of togetherness and finding beauty across cultural divides. Tim called this desktop “Rooftops of the World”. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Mary Poppins alongside reading too much news. Enjoy!

For the desktop, click on the image below to view the large size image.

For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen.

High Resolution Desktop Wallpaper:

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iPhone Wallpaper:

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Midwest Road Adventures and “Maps” – a round up of the month of July

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Most of our July was spent exploring the midwest. What better way to incorporate the theme “Maps” then getting out and living on one. Eight states in two weeks (that includes Tim’s whirlwind trip to North Carolina for the Wild Goose Festival)!
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While road tripping, we did several fun pages out of the Maps Activity book
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We weren’t able to stop a lot (seeing as we were in the car for too long already) but, we did make two really wonderful detours on our way to Lake Geneva, WI. Since we were going through two state capitals, we stopped at both the Nebraska State Capital building and the Iowa State Capital Building. And WOW were they wonderful. Why is “Visiting Every State Capital” not something everyone does?!? These two building were filled with incredible history, art, incredible architecture, and craftsmanship that you just don’t see that often in our ‘slap it together and sell it cheap’ culture we live in. We all felt like we were exploring old castles of old. And both the Iowa building and the Nebraska buildings were so different! Here are a few picture from both.
Nebraska First –

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Amazing Castle-like building, beautiful mosaics, and, best of all, an old wood paneled elevator that took you to the top of the tower to an open air walkway with panoramic views of the whole city.
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Some Zelda scenes “may” have been re-enacted in these stone passageways
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Tried to take a family “Selfie” here. Aw… so cute. And then you notice what Lucy does with her bubble gum….
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Some things you didn’t want to know… thanks a lot iPhones…

And Iowa’s Capital Building:

They sure knew what they were doing when they designed the gold domes….
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Looking up into the ceiling of the main dome. They took guided tours to the top, which we sadly didn’t do because we had to get back on the road, but next time!
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A security guard at the entrance told us to be sure not to miss the Library as it was his favorite room. And boy was he not kidding. It was like stepping into Harry Potter land.

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As part of our midwest road trip, we stayed in KS for a few days at my parents farm. They live on 180 acres of wild prairie and orchards. My dad mows these lovely ever-shifting paths through the prairie that have become one of the things we look forward to most when visiting home.Kansas Prairie - Photo by Giants & Pilgrims

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Onto modes of transportation! Also while in KS, the girls had their first encounter with bumper cars (hover crafts more like…) and can’t wait for more…

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Picnics are always a good idea.
A picnic in the park with Grandma DiDi at Dillon Nature Center - Photo by Giants and Pilgrims

As are hotel swimming pools.

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Once we got back home, we mostly have been playing catch-up – especially with all the art shows and whatnot we have had going on. But here are a few highlights from the end of July.
This is one of the books we picked up from the library on maps. It is called “The Once Upon a Time Map Book” – you can get it here.  I can’t recommend it enough. My kids LOVED it. And it teaches so many cool map reading skills – directions, scale, keys, distance, etc. The book gives you a quest of sorts and then have to follow the directions to get through the map, while looking for hidden treasures. So fun.
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We definitely drew a treasure map of our backyard and hid treasure. Burning the edges and tea staining it is half the fun.

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Some afternoons when mom is trying, ahem, to get ready for an art show she is not ready for yet, you google “kids map games” and let em loose.

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The church we are part of, called Atlas, does this amazing kids camp where they make a movie. The kids do almost everything – the acting, costumes, songs, etc. One of the days was all about outer space. Each kid was assigned a role as either a planet, the sun, moon, stars, etc. They physically acted out our solar system as part of our movie. It was so cool. I didn’t get any photos of the kids, but here are a bunch of the parent volunteers pricking holes in a black paper wall that was lit from behind to make constellation star maps. The twinkly black wall was the backdrop in the film for the little kid moons and planets swirling around.

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We hung a nice big world map at kid level on the wall and have been having lots of fun conversations about where things like panda bears and cousins live.
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“Stretch” Round up of our Month of May

May seems like it has gone pretty fast. This was the first month where it felt like we got a bit derailed from our plan. On the same hand, we did have some pretty memorable experiences and moments. And May, with its finish lines and wraps ups is just kind of like that. So bring on summer we say!

 Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme was STRETCH. Read the whole list of ideas here.

Here is our run down of the month :

On May 1st, Tim and the girls kept up our fabulous tradition of May Day baskets – complete with Bacon bouquets (which are so weird and so awesome at the same time)

Coons family celebrate May Day

May the Fourth was celebrated by all with an epic Star Wars movie night and pizza.

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I had really wanted to get into some better practices as a family with our physical activity. We did an OK (but not great) job following this little calendar of days. I would say we maybe did 1/3rd of the days. But hey, better than nothing. And at the end of this month, I started running with Run Atlas Run a practice that I have absolutely loved and hope to keep up all summer.
May weekly workout
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Someone is working harder here than the others…
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We still haven’t had a chance to run at an outdoor track, partly because every time I suggest it the girls are stinkers about it, but I have high hopes that they will enjoy it more than they think they will. We’ll get there…

We watched the Karate Kid – which I had never seen before. So great!! Now I finally get the Cobra Kai reference of a t-shirt I have had for the last 8 years…
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We made lots of oozy gooey slime – great “stretchy” fun. I still want to try to make bouncy balls and silly putty.

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Slime making adventures from www.giantsandpilgrims.com

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One morning we made rubber band instruments. Lucy got a stick and played hers like a violin.

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One Friday we took a family trip to Fort Collins and had a wonderful time trying out different instruments and learning all about the properties of sound at the Fort Collins Children’s Museum of Discovery.

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This was a neat “build your own horn” station

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Here is Harriet playing an electronic drum kit

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Lucy trying out an electric guitar

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The kids’ highlight from the day was the “Tornado Chamber.” We kept losing Harriet and then finding her in it.
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When I was a kid, I specifically remember LOVING the shadow wall at the Children’s museum in Wichita, KS. I was so excited that they had one in Fort Collins. Basically it flashes a bright light and then your shadow is captured on the wall. It feels very Peter Pan.
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It was a good day.

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Someone else did some musical experiments of their own.

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We read Twistable Turnable Man, finally finished the Secret Garden, started”Ballet Shoes”, plus all sorts of other “Stretch” related books we picked up at the library this month. Now if I could just find that stupid “Train Travel” book before I have to pay for it at the library. Dang it.

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We went on a pretty epic adventure by train. 

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 We of course had to make a wall installation of our “Stretch” activities. I didn’t particularly like how my drawing turned out so I let Harriet color all over it. Which made it much more awesome.

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Our other “Stretch” themed art projects kind of fell by the wayside, but we did have a lovely afternoon playing with clay. We made little nests with eggs and necklace pendants. IMG_4225

Thanks for playing!! See you on the other side in June with some “Collections!”

-Betony

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Travel By Train: A Photo Journal of our Most Recent Family Adventure

This last week in honor of Mother’s Day and just needing a little family get-a-way, we took an Amtrak train from Denver to Glenwood Springs, CO. I have always wanted to see the views on the train through the rocky mountains. One of my favorite memories from traveling by train as a kid is that the train cuts through areas different than the interstate highway so you get a better sense of the wilderness and beauty of the landscape. Traveling with kids, it is great because they can get up and walk around, get a snack, check out the observation car, etc. The train from Denver to Glenwood Springs is about 6 hours and is full of beautiful views and unique history. We had a blast.
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In Glenwood Springs, we didn’t have a car, so we just enjoyed exploring and walking every where.

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Harriet insisted on running across all the bridges.

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We, of course, ate lots of yummy food. And, we discovered the MOST amazing little Polish restaurant called “Polankas.” Who knew I could love Polish food so much? Pierogis, potato pancakes, blinzes….ahhhh….(Slope & Hatch’s tacos were pretty great too)

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Lots of fun was had by all playing at the hotel pool and indoor waterpark. Thank you Hotel Glenwood Springs.

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In the habit of my father, I got up early one morning and took the girls exploring. Ever since our mountain month, Lucy has wanted to go mountain climbing.
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Conveniently, the Gondolas for Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park left from the parking lot of our hotel to take you to the top of the mountain. Again, pretty epic views.Processed with VSCOcam with f3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f1 preset
Once we got to the top, we had all sorts of fun at the Adventure Park – which it felt like we practically had to ourselves.
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No we did not ride that swing ride. No Thank you.

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This one was Harriet’s favorite. The Giddy Up.
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This alpine coaster was pretty great – kids can ride on your lap, you control the speed, it is a delightfully long ride, you can ride as many times as you want, and it winds down the mountain through the lovely scenery very quietly. So fun.
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We toured one of the famous caves, Fairy Caverns. It was beautiful, but confirms the fact that I was not cut out to be a spelunker.Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

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We had a tiny vacation practice of having an afternoon tea time every day with board games. Or, in Beatrice’s case, chewing on dominos.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

And, lets be honest. We watched LOTS of cartoons.
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In the dining car on the train ride home, Lucy lost her very first tooth – so exciting. She also VERY animatedly told absolutely everyone she encountered from there on out about it. EVERY-ONE.Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Sweet Beatrice always the “Easy-Beasy” was a joy to travel with.
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Here’s to many more adventures together with this sweet family of mine.

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Merry Christmas from Giants & Pilgrims

Here’s to the yearly traditions- strange and eccentric, quaint and normal.

Betony and I are watching Lord of the Rings now- one of our stranger Christmas traditions. For several years we’d spend time watching all three extended editions (12 some hours of hobbitude) from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas. We’ll see how far we get today. Life got busier with kids. Then I’ll be grilling out in the snow later. We started that yearly one a very cold Christmas 4 yuletides ago.

Our more normal traditions have already been enjoyed- the picture on the stairs starting the morning of presents. And the Christmas Eve service was beautiful last night.

Soon we’ll be traveling- two more celebrations to enjoy with my family then Betony’s- complete with two more Christmas mornings!

A very Merry Christmas to you all and all your traditions, usual and unusual. Our blog will be quieter in the next two weeks. Then we’ll be making some announcements about where we’re heading this next year!

Grace and Peace,

Tim Coons
Giants & Pilgrims

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Wonders of Your City

#wondersofmycity

What are the wonders of the area in which you live? Sometimes just recognizing the great places in your town, whether they’re restaurants, museums, natural wonders, or events can reinvigorate love for your home. The question we’ve been asking ourselves as we put our list together is, “Where would we take someone if they were visiting? or just moved here?”

Perhaps post a poll online for your local Facebook friends and come up with a list of 7 or 8 for your own city. Make a point to visit each of those places this month. Take some pictures and use the hashtag #wondersofmycity

For our 7 Wonders of Greeley, Colorado we had to split it into three different categories: places, events, and restaurants! These are places both very popular in our town, but then also have sentimental value to us:

Places:

1. Centenial Village (the hidden gem of Greeley where Betony and I were married!)

2. Glenmere Park (and it’s secret bird sanctuary)

3. Kress Cinema (a renovated, art deco experience)

4. UNC Central Campus (giant trees and an outdoor amphitheater to explore)

5. The Greeley Train Museum (one of the largest in the US)

6. Poudre River & Sheep Draw Trails (wide biking lanes through true Colorado plains habitats)

7. The Moxi (a high-ceiling space just for music and night-life worth catching a great show at)


Events
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1. Block Party

2. Greeley Stampede

3. Potato Days

4. Greeley Chataqua

5. Baby Animal Days

6. Father Daughter Dance

7. July Concerts in the Park

Restaurants:

1. John Galt & Blue Mug (Betony and I’s favorite places to sit and be together)

2.. Alberto’s Breakfast Burrito (THIS is an institutionalized Greeley breakfast event)

3. The Rio (great building and large margaritas)

4. JB’s (a diner who’s most recent re-branding happened in 1972. Carpet on the walls and framed velvet clown paintings, people. It’s amazing.)

5. Sushi One (our go to date night place)

6. El Poblito (the undiscovered champion on this list)

7. Roma (the college experience with bazooka beers and a 45 minute wait for cheap and delicious pizza)

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July Almanac Theme: Go

Each month for our Almanac we choose a theme that fits the season then present things around that theme. This month our theme is “go” and we filled our paper publication with pages about road trips and games you can play in the car and all other sorts of get-out-of-the-house material.

And what’s funny- we stayed true to our theme. This is the FIRST post about “go” we’ve had a chance to do because we’ve been traveling so much! Things have slowed down now, so more posts will be coming… but goodness, what a first few weeks!

Here’s the poetic intro that gives insight into the theme:

July is an open road

with a sun setting and music blaring
like a panoramic scene from a movie loved

An expanse is calling out
about new constellations and colors unseen

with no need for a map, just feet for streets
because every town becomes a one-horse town

when you’ve stayed for too long

and in traveling miles there’s the discovery
of something that has been there
all along

The road is begging for distance gained
and is offering a revision of how sweet home truly is upon return

so head out

go

 

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Giants & Pilgrims Great North Central Tour: Day 11

Above picture is from Escape to the Lake. And this is our traveling caravan of Giants & Pilgrims (two cars worth of family and fun).

Captain’s Log. Giants & Pilgrims have fulfilled all their obligations and engagements. Moral is sooo daaannngg high.

What a wonderful and wondrous trip. Craig Basarich (trumpeter) and I are in a bookstore in Kansas right now (Blue Bird Books in Hutchinson). We’ve been recounting great memories from the trip all last night and today. And my family rolls into town tonight. I’m so very excited.

The highlights of our tour? Too many to post, but overall by far the greatest highlights were touring with amazing friends (and growing even closer with these friends) and all the people that we met who we just fell in love with. We were so supported, so kindly received, and so well fed everywhere we played. And with so many meaningful conversations about music, art, faith, love and life.

My pool of friendships and family has expanded tremendously this trip.I truly believe if I returned to any of these folks who hosted us we’d have a free place to stay on some random weekend. And I may take them up on that.

Here’s some pictures from the last half of our tour: concerts and people and I’ll hit on some strong memories too. Enjoy and thank you to all of you who made it possible to travel and do this music.

Below: we played at this coffee shop in Libertyville (close to Chicago). Stellar place. A band called The Ache opened for us. They had an awesome sound

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After playing at Hansa with lots of Craig’s friends, family, and Chicago connections we headed to Escape to the Lake, a festival put on by Under the Radar. It was the main reason for this trip! And it was such an amazing time. Photo by Kingsley Shacklebolt.

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I met Mary last year on a Chicago trip. This year at EttL she wanted a “selfie” with me after we led worship. I was so honored. And I had to show you all it here:

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From Escape to the Lake we did a couple shows in Minneapolis. The first with Gabriel and his band Ancient Mariner. Then at our drummer, Mary’s family home. A really prominent memory for us was swimming at the lake where Mary would go when she was little. It was the perfect way to end the tour!

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Giants & Pilgrims Great North Central Tour: Day 4

Day 4, captain’s log.

Morale is still high. Especially after the amount of hospitality we’ve experienced. This is the first day we’re not playing a show (the last four days having 6 engagements).

The shows themselves have been tremendous. Great times of song and story and community. Since leaving Omaha we’ve played in Milwaukee, led worship at Blackhawk Church Fitchburg, and entertained a coffee shop in Madison (Crescendo Espresso Bar & Music Cafe).

Here’s a favorite saying thus far on the trip (on Day 1 I posted Craig’s haiku’s… I hope to keep sharing tour jokes). This is one from Brian Claxton:

Making a cake is super simple.
Step 1: preheat the oven
Step 2: eat the cake

I laugh every time we say this or reference it. He started saying this in high school after being baffled by the intricacy of baking in a Martha Stewart episode. You know the one where she way overcomplicates the product? (it’s EVERY one).

I laugh at the joke but I’m also struck that there’s truth in the absurdity. We want everything to be so simple and fast. And that is not life. Reality is not pre-packaged, easy bake, and one-step. It’s quite complex. We’ve been talking about that at our shows as we share our Almanac songs. (That was also a major theme of the Blackhawk Church Fitchburg sermon, as they’re studying Proverbs!)

Hope you’re having a wonderfully rich and intricate day. Sometimes it goes down like a fine wine.

Many thanks to Kevin, Maddie, and Abbie (Wade for hosting!) for the Milwaukee times
John and Corrie Rosensteel, Bret and Lorraine Shillingstad for opportunities at Blackhawk and horseback riding
and Paul and Kate for hosting us at Crescendo!

It’s incredible the amount of kindness and support we’ve received from these people and others we’ve met so far. Helps keep that morale high.

Below is a photo by Kevin in Milwaukee. (We call this picture “Christmas in July”).

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Above photo by Christine Myers at Crescendo Espresso Bar & Music Cafe

 

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Giants & Pilgrims Great North Central Tour: Day 1

We left Greeley, CO in a two car caravan heading towards Nebraska Friday, June 27th. Morale was high after breakfast burritos, morning pleasantries and luggage tetris.

During the first drive some things stood out worth writing here. One was our trumpet player, Craig Baserich, sharing some haikus he’d written about pizza:

Ate you for my lunch
Still can taste your dreamy sweat
Never wash my face

Hot, cheese, grease, sauce, meat
All of that on top of dough
Feed it to my soul

Frozen, take out, Mmm
Deep dish, thin crust, stuffed crust, Mmm
Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm

What else do I like?
Apple, chicken, carrots, No
I also like cake

Morale was even higher after he shared all these. I was sore from laughing after the session.

In the evening we pulled into Omaha and had a tremendously lovely house concert with friend Laura Preston.

Below are a couple pictures. One from travels (our first day of tour being sponsored by the soon to return “pretzel bacon cheeseburger”) and one from our house concert.

Stay tuned for Day 2 log coming soon. After Day 2…

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