Posts

May 2018 Desktop Wallpaper

Thanks for being patient with me on this months desktop wallpaper. Moving is a lot of work! I am running a few days behind. One of the unexpected joys I am finding at this new house is how loud the birds are in the morning! Tim has had to shut the window a few times in the morning because they were so noisy. I love it. So the artwork this month is inspired by our new noisy neighbors.

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

This months poem is from a Newberry award book called The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I love it so much –

“The heart is built of starlight

And time.

A pinprick of longing lost in the dark.

An unbroken chord linking the Infinite to the Infinite.

My heart wishes upon your heart and the wish is granted.

Meanwhile the world spins.

Meanwhile the universe expands.

Meanwhile the mystery of love reveals itself,

again and again, in the mystery of you.

I have gone.

I will return.

Glerk”

 Kelly BarnhillThe Girl Who Drank the Moon

 

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

iphone wallpapers:

 

February 2018 Adventures in Homeschooling

Two years ago we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (6), Beatrice (3), and Arlo (1). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

Ancient Greece:

Because of the olympics, we thought this would be a great month to learn about ancient Greece.

We read D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths and I made these peg doll representations of each of the main greek gods with help from the girls.

We also read Lightning Thief for the first time.

And enjoyed tasting Mediterranean food courtesy of our TopMunch subscription

Coloring Greek god and goddess trading cards

Drawing mythical monsters

A selection of the Greek books we enjoyed exploring

Book Arts:

For our making this month, we explored the Book Arts – Marbled paper and Book Binding!

Making marbled paper for the end papers of our books –

Working on the covers for Asian stab-bound sketchbooks we made –

Harriet made an “un-tearable” tiny baby book for Arlo out of packing tape and her own illustrations

Constellations:

For science/nature this month, we learned about constellations (which tied in beautifully to our Greek Myth studies)

Magnets, Math, and Money:

In our little impromptu science club, we tried our hand at making Magnetic Slime

Played with fractions

Learning about money – “Count It and Keep It!” was a big hit with the kids.

Olympics:

The Olympics are my favorite! So fun to get to share this with the kids. We made tiny flags and olympic ring shirts for the opening ceremony.

Lots of USA spirit over here!

Watched Cool Runnings too just for fun

Preschool:

Learning about color mixing using air dry clay and “Do You Know Colors”

Lots of help from Buzzy getting this art piece ready to deliver to Houston

Stamping Letters

Valentines Day:

The table for valentines morning –

We participated in a Homeschool Valentine Exchange. So much fun!

Lots of love notes were written to each other

 

A very chilly Valentine tea party out in the tree house

Some of our homemade Valentines we made –

 

Valentine party in Kansas with Grandparents!

Wood Carving:

While in Kansas, we got to learn about wood carving from my Grandpa Fritz. So beautiful to watch.

 

Moving to a New House and a Song About Home

The blessings came in waves
and could be felt for days
O, how my bones still shake at your names
In sweat we set the stones
in blood we brick the roads
a holy breaking comes for every home

Give me your hand, we’ll climb up the balcony
Ditch the front row and sway with the symphony
Make as much noise and be as we want to be
Your voice in my voice and hands are the canopy
Feel the old rhythm play what’s inside of me

The fields are glories now, the fields are glories now
So guide your wild eyes down
The promise in the pain, the code that’s in the grain
We’ll move beneath the weight ‘til you raise


When I was a child, around this time of year on the orchard my dad would prune all the apples trees. I would help look for branches that were crossed, or growing in at strange angles. We would then clip off the offending branches and sometimes prop them with these little red supports to help them grow straight so that they could get the best light possible and eventually grow the best fruit.

Tim and I are moving to a new house in 10 days. We bought a “fixer upper” in the middle of town near a big park. It’s a MUCH bigger house in a nice quiet neighborhood. We weren’t really planning on moving yet, but then suddenly everything fell into line at the same time, like it does.

This whole moving thing is crazy… crazy exhausting, crazy nerve wracking, crazy exciting, and crazy scary.
Ten Years.
Ten years we have lived in this house I am sitting in right now.

I know where every light switch is and where to step over the crooked floor boards.
I know the name of every plant in the garden,
why there is a funny hole in the kitchen screen,
how to walk in the middle of the night so the squeaking floor doesn’t wake the children,
the funny trick to the bathroom door downstairs,
and the story behind most of the nail holes on the walls.

It’s where I found out I was pregnant for the first time and where I brought each of my four babies home to. It’s the place where we’ve had so many wonderful Christmases, Thanksgiving feasts, and simple, every day meals.
It’s where my children took their first steps, laughed their first laughs, and tried their first foods.

It’s also where Harriet broke her leg,
where the basement flooded too many times,
where I had my anxiety breakdown,
where Tim and I had our most difficult fights,
where we had belongings stolen off our front porch,
and had to call the cops on the neighbors so many times.

This house is old. It’s been around more than 100 years.
It really has seen its fair share of marital fights and make ups.
It’s flooded but it’s dried back out.
It’s been cold and drafty and also cozy and safe.

I hope it will be around for at least 100 more years. I hope it will be the same gift to the next residents as it has been to us. (Please take care of my planty’s!)

I am sure for this home, 10 years is just a blink. But it feels so significant to me. 

Somehow leaving this house feels much more substantial then leaving high school or leaving college. I suppose if you look at it that way, those were only four year institutions. This home has been ten of mine.
Ten years of themed birthday parties and late night hard conversations with friends sitting on the kitchen floor (the best place for those kinds of talks),
nights pacing back and forth with wakeful babies,
ten years of pinching pennies to patch the wear and tear of everyday life,
of having tea on the front porch,
hosting cooking clubs and wedding showers,
play dates,
years with miscarriages, mistakes, and misadventures.
All the rhythms of our days and what I know have been centered in this place for ten years.

You can hear it in my lists… It is breaking me to leave. It feels like a close friend.

Like family.

And I am scared.

Scared this new home won’t be me.
Scared I’ll hate it.
Scared something will happen to the kids and I’ll somehow blame this decision.
I am scared it will change me. Change us.

And yet it’s time.

Time to move on, time to adventure out, time to try something new, try our hand at starting with a blank canvas, try this new place out. It’s time to move.

Time passes so damn fast, doesn’t it?

My babies are getting bigger. It comes to the end of the day and I wonder. Wonder if I did it right, wonder if I could have played it out differently, wonder if this is it, wonder are we centering our lives on the right things? Wonder if we are making the right choice.

10 days. We are moving in 10 days.

So I’ve been obsessing over this new place. This new house.

It’s not the one I would have picked. I did not like it at first.
I love old and history and craftsmanship.
This is black shag carpet and popcorn ceilings. And florescent lights. And 80s. On a cul-de-sac.

So I have created every pinterest board, design mood board, photoshopped room, shopping budget, detailed plan I can possibly do with out actually living there.

And I am starting to see it.

See the lovely that could be revealed there.

I know I can make it beautiful.
I know WE will make it beautiful.
I think about how it’s only about a block from a huge green space,
and a pool,
and how I found rhubarb sprouting up near the fence,
and how this one room feels like the barn I grew up in,
and how the layout is perfect for us,
and how we will have room to spread out,
and be able to have people over more easily,
and host house concerts,
and how I want to give every room its own theme,
and how we are going to start off by pitching tents and camping in the great room,
and so many other new things.

It will be a challenge to start from a blank slate.
But we can’t wait. We are so excited.

And still, the packing and processing all the memories and moments sucks. It is such an emotionally wrecking experience. 

Is this pruning?

Pruning is painful but good. It helps us grow straight and true so we can bear more fruit.
The truth is that I am scared about not being able to find the light switches,
and whether I can hear the playroom from the kitchen,
and having to use a 1980’s electric stove for the next ten years,
and life on a cul-de-sac,
and even more that feeling of being exhausted and wanting to go home and not being able to.

But then I take that step back.
I am reminded of my white privilege and how we are going to be living in a mansion compared to the rest of the world, and how millions of refugees can’t ever go home again, and I feel stupid. Stupid white suburban mom. Ha.

You make it work and you make it beautiful and you invite people into the mess,
because it is NOT about it being beautiful.
And it is NOT about it being ugly.
And whether it is HERE or THERE doesn’t matter.

It is about WE. And US. And TOGETHER. And HOME. And LOVE in the best way we can.

And so, let’s adventure on family.

April 2018 Desktop Wallpaper

My good friend Wes Sam-Bruce shared this poem at his film screening for The Wonder Sound. It has been floating around in my head ever since. So good.

“Widening Circles”

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

So here is to living our lives in ever widening circles. Migrating outward…

More on that soon. It’s been crazy around here lately….

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 image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

 

The Fire at the Orchard and a Song About Hope

A couple weeks ago an arson’s fire tore through central Kansas burning 800 acres. My wife’s mom and dad, who live on an apple orchard, lost almost everything. About 180 acres of their trees, farm buildings, equipment etc. burned. Their home miraculously survived as my father-in-law placed several sprinklers around the perimeter before making the final exit.

Betony and I were on tour in Houston and when we got back helped out with cleanup and rebuilding. While there, I had a chance to be with Mike and Elaine as they processed the great loss. In the turmoil of emotions and the various stages of grief I was very inspired by pictures we all were receiving of resilience and hope.

As we prepped and leveled the foundation to rebuild the well, my father-in-law, Mike, recounted just how incredible it was that people came out of the woodwork to help. Neighbors rushed in on four-wheeler‘s, people called and wrote with thoughts and prayers, and a go-fund-me reached its mark within the week.

Then, as we were throwing away hundreds of dollars worth of burnt hoses, the same hoses that saved the house, Mike told me to look over at the swing-set he’d built for the grandkids. It had fully lost one of its legs in the fire but was still standing, swaying slightly in the breeze.

“Do you think I’ll rebuild that Tim? Hell yes I will.“

Lastly, we received a FedEx delivery of 10 new cherry trees. Mike talked to their FedEx delivery woman who freely cried at the sight of devastation and offered condolences. As we were digging the holes for the new cherry trees, Mike excitedly ran over to to something he saw in the dirt. There was a large patch of new buds coming up only days after the fire had ripped through. He told me these were a specific type of flower that will now bloom brightly. It actually took a fire to enact their seeds.

With these pictures of hope and resilience: people rushing to help, the steadfast spirit of rebuilding in the face of destruction, an orchard on the edge of blooming wildflowers after devastation, I’m so taken by the paradox of death to rebirth. It’s stirring how hardship, tragedy, darkness, and death is answered by such resilience and hope and new life.

This week is Easter. It’s a great time to reflect on the darkness and tragedy found on Good Friday, and the new life and new hope that bursts forth on Easter Sunday.

Here’s a song I wrote specifically about hope called “There is a Balm in Gilead”. The title is taken from an old spiritual of the same name. The writers of that African-American spiritual encountered an old testament scripture that speaks of there being NO balm in Gilead to aid in suffering. And these writers, in there hardship and turmoil, answered with such hope and resilience. They stated no, there IS a balm in Gilead. God is our hope, our freedom, and our new life.

In the face tragedy, new life will burst forth. This is our great hope.

Here are the lyrics and the song for you to listen to.

There is a balm in Gilead
it comes like a  wisdom but speaks like children
it’s a sight to the blind and a strength to my weakness
it’s something for soul, body, mind

There is a balm in Gilead
it’s a rest for the weary, a song to the sore
its like a dew to my dryness
that fills me with joy when I had none

There is a balm in Gilead
its a spring in the desert
for the withered of soul
it’s a strength and a power
that keeps making you whole
its the question your asking
and the answers you need
it’s the face you’ve been seeking
the one, the one you’ve been begging to see

There is a balm in Gilead
it’s the trash and the remnants
of all my train wrecks
coming together
and still heading out west
like a blank paycheck paying off the back rent
taking me further to
whatever’s supposed happen next

There is a balm in Gilead
it’s the light of the dawn
the scales without measure
it’s the bread of a baker
the blood of a maker
The water I long for
and the story on fire
its the breath and the magic
Its something to die for
it’s the laying down of the shepherd at night

There is a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead
There is a balm in Gilead

December 2017 Free Calendar Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

The inspiration for the wallpaper this month comes from our newest project – Imago Divina: The Joyous Mysteries – an incredibly beautiful advent collaboration with several other artists/creators (The Liturgists!)

Watch/Listen/Enjoy all of that goodness here.

And then put some new wallpaper on your screens and breathe in all the Christmas goodness that is coming in the door this month.

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 image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

All the World’s a Stage – Reposted article

Reposting a really nice article from my time at the Children’s Museum in Denver….

———————————-

At artist-in-residence Betony Coons’ closing reception, the crowd stood around the interactive theater she created in collaboration with Museum guests, while Art Programs Coordinator, Salim Khoury, offered remarks.

“Betony, your art is like a storybook come to life.” And looking at the piece, Paper Moon, it’s easy to see what he means.

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Paper Moon
Betony Coons, fall 2017 artist-in-residence

From afar, the stage is elegant and resplendent with detail, the shades of black and white punctuated with flashes of gold leaf and finite pops of color. But look closer and you will be delighted by the whimsical treasures hidden throughout. A tiny raccoon perched along the right side, curiously peeking out; “That’s me,” she says laughing, “Because I’m a Coons.” There are little drawings, messages and quotes from Museum guests, collected throughout her residency and incorporated with care. She points to each one and shares the story about the child (or grown-up!) who contributed the memento.

But perhaps the most remarkable elements are actual newspaper articles from the Loveland Reporter-Herald covering the moon landing in 1969. They were found in the attic of Betony’s home, forgotten by the former owner, and are now memorialized on the moon that serves as the focal point of Betony’s stage.

To pull off the three-dimensional, 16′ x 8′ piece, it took a true collaboration between Betony and the Museum’s exhibits team. “Betony gave me a drawing and we took it from there. We used our CNC router to build the stars and moon for her, then she painted them. Working together, all the way through, it was really just a beautiful project,” said Chris Van Dyken, Director of Exhibits.

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Artist-in-residence, Betony Coons and Director of Exhibits, Chris Van Dyken

 

Betony’s has been another Children’s Museum residency filled with that wonderful give and take, where local artists share their wisdom with Museum guests, who in turn offer their expertise in the awe of childhood.

During her final open studio hours, Betony and kids sprawled on the ground to “build a house” together. There is the usual; a front door, dining room table, a bed and plenty of pets. But there is also a teleport for time travel and, at the insistence of one child, it is both day and night – at the same time.

“It’s so fun to see kids who are not concrete in the way they think. As an artist, it can give you a lot of freedom and creativity to let things go in unexpected and surprisingly fun ways. Things you wouldn’t do as an adult because you just think, This is how it is.”

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The collaborative house from Betony’s final open studio hours.

And with her final piece, Betony made sure to hit that point home. Paper Moon inspires the desire to create, be whimsical, to jump on the moon (it’s ok, we promise) and burst into song, no matter your age. So go on, make-believe with us.

Say, it’s only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me
Yes, it’s only a canvas sky
Hanging over a muslin tree
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me…

From It’s Only a Paper Moon
by Yip Harburg and Billy Rose

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My Time as “Artist in Residence” at the Denver Children’s Museum, Fall 2017

Today is my last official Open Studio as the artist in residence at the Children’s Museum in Denver! (If you are in the area, please come say hello!)

The three months have flown by! I still have some finishing touches to do on my leave behind art piece and get to finish off my stay at the museum with a party on the 25th of October. But, I wanted to write this post and share a few of my favorite moments from the past three months with you and also invite you to the closing reception. Getting to be part of the magic that the Children’s Museum staff creates on a daily basis was such a gift and getting to play alongside kids and families and create art together was a dream. I’m still pinching myself that I got the job. Enjoy flipping through these photos!

I’ll see you Wednesday, October 25th at 6 PM! Here’s the info for the event.

__________

A giant color collage we made on my first open studio day.

Making mountains out of words –

Painting eclipses the day before the great American eclipse with visitors from around the world getting ready to head to Wyoming.

Museum goers’ tiny contributions to my leave behind piece

Painting stars –

Here is a nice little write up they did about me –

Creating a blue zoo –

Working on my “leave behind art” piece

   

A particularly adorable visitor testing out my stage for me

A little corner of the studio –

Planning for my family workshop where we made little table top paper theaters

One of the kid’s finished theaters

A workshop with Kindergarteners making shadow puppet monsters inspired by “In the Hall of the Mountain King”

And more work on the leave behind piece…

October 2017 Free Calendar Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

Happy October friends! Goodbye summer!

I been enjoying reading this Mary Oliver Poem called Song for Autumn

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
 
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

 

Much love,

Betony

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 image you want. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen or both.

iphone wallpapers:

A Food Fight Party, Playing Planets, and Video Games Come to Life…. June’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (5), Beatrice (2), and Arlo (8 months). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

Ahhhh. Summertime.  We aren’t doing anything structured for homeschooling over the summer, but it is wonderful to see how unschooling (or chasing the spark) can play out on these long summer days.

Parties and Outdoor Play:

Lucy planned an Epic food fight battle for her 8 year old party.
So fun! We did three rounds – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Each round had a specific food and challenge. Thanks to some other mom tips online, it went off with out a hitch.

So silly and fun.

A letter Lucy wrote to her future self, with instructions to mom to give it to her on her 8th B-day.

Trying out her new penny board with some pro tips from friend Calvin.

June backyard pool party vibes…

And garden sketching and reading (also notice the Hidden Valley Ranch because they made themselves a salad from the garden as a snack – ha ha ha)

Rolling down the hills races at the University

Exploring the new city “stained glass” park!

First swing ride for Arlo-man (and the photo that motivated mama to give him his first haircut ha ha!)

Robots Galore:

Lucy got several Robot kits for her birthday. She LOVES robots. Her current obsession is trying to figure out how to get all her robots to do her chores for her. Hmmmm…..

Audio Books/Read Alouds:

We have recently “discovered” audio books (thank you read aloud revival audio deals!). Here are a couple we enjoyed this month – (Tim read Harry Potter book two out loud – so wonderful to get to relive these with our kids – and we have loved these Jim Kay illustrated versions)

 

Lucy dressed up at Mary Poppins

Outer Space:

The only “theme” we played with this month was planets and outer space. We used some Pinay Homeschool handouts and made polymer clay planets.

Lucy drew some stellar rocket ships

We enjoyed lots of space/aeronautic books from the library. I particularly LOVED the Armstrong and Lindbergh mouse adventures. Wonderful illustrations and stories – great sneaky histories for kids.

We also read Magic school bus in space

Did some planet play at the Windsor park

Circus Circus:

For Christmas this last year, Tim got the girls and me tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia”. The whole show was about Mexico. It was utterly breathtaking. And so neat to be able to share with the girls after our Mexico study last October. I have seen a lot of their shows (and loved all of them) but this was by far my favorite.

I mean, they made it rain on stage – utterly magical.

Some Papel Picado inspired backdrop.

And then some fun circus books from the library

Lone Valley School:

Greeley has a historic park called Centennial Village that is run by the greeley museums. The two older girls participated in a day camp there at the beginning of June called Lone Valley School. They loved it. Lots of old fashioned activities and fun.

They were so into it that the second day they insisted on wearing period specific costumes.

Here is a photo of the old fashioned school house and some of the drills from their primers.

Morning breaks consisted of time playing old fashioned games like stilt walking and ring toss.

Making and Baking:

Fort building around the dining room table.

Marionette dragon making activity at the library

Lucy really wanted to invent a recipe and bake it. So, with a little help/suggestions from mama, here is her recipe she came up with “Lucy’s Mini Cupcaks”. They turned out surprisingly delicious!!

Dino Days:

Tim took the girls to Dinosaur days at the Colorado Model Railroad Museum

Art:

Lucy has really been honing her portrait/drawing from life skills. This is a drawing she did of Tim while he was reading Harry Potter out loud.

And here is Harriet’s wonderful “portrait” of her imaginary friend “Twinklebell”

Clay can get pretty messy, so summer is the perfect time to play with ceramics since we can do it outside.

Dance Recital:

Lucy and Harriet both danced in their studios annual dance recital.

Celebrating with ice cream in the park afterwards.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild:

Our best friends lent us their Nintendo switch at our house for the month. We are not really a gaming family, but we have loved all of the Zelda games since the very beginning. It has been so fun to play this incredible game as a family. It is breathtakingly beautiful and so fun – rock climbing, cooking, and so so much world to explore. So, we had to have a real life Zelda adventure as well… Everyone will be a little sad to return the switch next month.