Stories and thoughts from day to day life in the Bullard Family

White Sand and Grey Sand September 21, 2012 Widgets

Here is my first post in a long while! Now I am trying to incorporate our music group into this blog. So here is my first attempt at using a widget to access some of the music we are using in our class at the moment.

While this recording uses different words than what we use in class, it is the correct melody.

We sang about sticks: red sticks and yellow sticks; who will play the red sticks? Who will play the yellow sticks?

Blue sticks and green sticks; Who will play the blue sticks? Who will play the green sticks?

I sang this phrase through once, then hummed it while handing two children a pair of sticks to play. I did this until all the children had sticks (and the adults). This required the children to wait to receive a pair of sticks, rather than everyone attacking the pile of instruments at one time. We all know this is good for practicing those skills related to patience and waiting one’s turn.

Once everyone had a pair of sticks, we played them on the floor, clicking them together at different heights (in front of lap, above head, etc.). All the while, we sang the melody with different syllables: la la la, dum dum dee dum dum, doo doo doo, etc.

Once we know the melody:

This song makes a great round- in fact, it is a round! We will sing this in class as a round. The children are not expected to do this, but having them hear what we are doing will plant the seeds to get them ready for harmony one day! Until then, we will sing about sticks and maybe other fun things like leaves, fruit, or whatever else we want to focus on.

And a side note:

Thanks for being patient while I get this figured out- I think I posted prematurely here, but should be up and running smoothly in no time!


Apple Picking November 12, 2011

Filed under: Activities,Music — parentsong @ 6:23 am
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Making our way well into November, I know apple season is waning, but I thought it would be nice to share some of our favorite apple songs and verses and some of our apple-picking photos. This year we were able to make apple-picking a bigger part of our lives and visit the orchards several times. No apples from the grocery store this fall! And this weekend we’ll head out to the farm for some old-fashioned cider-making!


Down in the green orchard, there stands a green tree,

With the finest of branches you ever did see!

The apples are ripe, and ready to fall

And here is a basket to gather them all!

Here is the tree with leaves so green,

And here are the branches that hang in between.

When the wind blows, the apples will fall,

And here is a basket to gather them all.


The leaves are green, the apples are red,

They hang so high above my head.

Leave them alone til frosty weather

They’ll all come tumbling down together.

Two little apples, hanging in a tree.

Two little apples, smiled at me.

I shook that tree as hard as I could,

Down came the apples, Mmmm they were good!

Way up high in the apple tree,

An apple looked down and smiled at me.

I spied that apple so red and round,

And caught it as it tumbled down!

How do you like to enjoy apples? Maybe next year I’ll get to cook with them some more! For now, it is cut and eat- very simple. I think I’ll try a pie, though. We just got a nice mix of winesap, goldrush, and stayman. We’ll see how my swell baking abilities handle it (she says, sarcastically).

Thanks for reading!


Farm Days: Wheat Threshing November 8, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 6:55 am
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The farm in autumn is so full of fun activities and experiences! One of my favorite things about it is that they use turn of the century farming techniques and equipment.

This trip taught us the process of going from seed to whole grain- something a city girl never got to do before. I thought it was really cool!

Wheat is harvested here using a reaper-binder, a machine that cuts and ties the wheat into bundles (sheaves). The farmers walk behind the reaper and set the sheaves upright, leaning the bunches against one another (called “shocks”). This helps them to dry. After about a week, they are brought in from the fields for storage. Can I get a little Bringing in the Sheaves?

Feature of the Day: Steam Engine

This was the big attraction: the steam engine, or traction engine. What a cool machine! When the steam escaped, it was really loud, but B was still fascinated by it. It powered the thresher, as seen below:

Another shot of the ‘ol traction engine:

Courtesy of Howell Living History Farm

Threshing removes the wheat grain from  the stem of wheat. The wheat stems and chaff are blown up into the barn and later used for animal bedding. The grain is emptied into bags as it leaves the thresher.

I like the farmer on top of the hay

Bags of grain begin collecting on the trailer bed

The grains are so soft and fun to play with. B could not keep her hands out of the bin!

I wish I would have taken a picture of the winnower, a hand-powered machine that separates the chaff, dust, and other debris from the wheat grain. But the next process is grinding the wheat. We even got to sing our grinding song from our autumn circle!

Round and round the wheel goes round. As it turns the wheat is ground…

At the end of our trip, we had tasty wheat muffins baked with the wheat from the farm! We even got to take a bit home with us. This was an extra special trip because we got to enjoy the wheat festivities with some dear friends. That always makes for good times!

Thanks for reading, I hope this updated version comes through! (sort of had a premature publishing of this post- no pics or stories!)

Until next time,



Farm Days: Popcorn Harvest October 25, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 8:00 am
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During our latest trip to the local historic working farm, we got to learn about popcorn harvesting!

Ears of popcorn were picked in the field to be stored and dried for at least 18 months. The corn we shelled was from a few seasons back. The tiny kernels hold much tighter to the cob than feed corn. Plus, they have rougher edges, making the manual shelling process less than meditative.


The popcorn was heated in a metal popping box over an open flame. It tasted really popcorny- lots of flavor, and much better than store-bought. Yum!


And what would popcorn making be without a little song? I modified this traditional rhyme to work as a song. One day I’ll get the recordings up! Probably in five years, knowing my rate of accomplishing anything less than necessary.

Pop pop pop!
Pour the popcorn in the pot.
Pop pop pop!
Take and shake it ’til it’s hot.
Pop pop!
Lift the lid, what have you got?
Pop pop pop pop!

The pops are loads of fun and great as a fill-in-the-blank if singing with a minimally verbal child. Pop was one of Briony’s first words, thanks to songs!

Happy popping!


Monday Nature Walks October 23, 2011

Filed under: Activities,Homeschool — parentsong @ 9:38 pm
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Monday is our day to spend time outside in nature. We don’t have a yard or even a neighborhood that we can easily walk around in, but we live in a nature-rich area. A quick trip in the car can transport us to a variety of natural and historic landscapes. We also have the option of longer trips- 45 minutes can get us more out in the wild. It really feels different in the northern part of the county.

This particular Monday trip was special because we skipped our usual morning activities in the home and jumped right in the car with a picnic lunch. This sounds really great, but with a toddler and baby, it was tricky. Nonetheless, a good time was had by all. We were gone for 5 hours, which is probably the longest trip I’ve done by myself with the children!

When we arrived at our destination, the mysteriously fascinating Ringing Rocks park, we had our circle time in the forest and headed out for our adventure.

At the start of the trail, a few rocks sprinkled the path. Briony made sure to climb each and every one. The large photo below is a nice image of the forest on the over-cast day we were there. I love the large rocks that pop up all over the ground amongst the trees and smaller brush.

Atop a large boulder

As we walked closer to the field of rocks, the rocks on the trail got bigger and bigger. This meant more and more climbing fun for Briony.


Consumed October 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — parentsong @ 12:26 am
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Here’s just a quicky post from my phone. I have so many posts up my sleeve, but absolutely zero time to sit down, upload photos and write about it. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the breathing in and out of being completely consumed with life.

We are busy putting in a mini- library (a.k.a. bookshelves), trying to put some kind of order in our house, I’m almost finished making my sister’s baby gift (after many many hours, didn’t make it for the shower in time), and keeping the children alive and well (job number one).


The weather has been fantastic (finally stopped raining), so we have been outside every chance we get. I drew B a little play ground in our parking lot. Our neighbors especially like the hopscotch. We’ve been to the farm and nature walks often.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to sit down and share soon!



Preschool Activity: Simple Color Wheel September 24, 2011

Filed under: Homeschool — parentsong @ 6:00 am
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To make the color wheel, I colored a circle with the colors of the rainbow plus brown. I also colored the tips of wooden clothes pegs. To introduce our first “lesson,” I sat down with B and showed her the wheel with the pegs attached. She already knew all the colors except for indigo, so I went ahead and reviewed them with her as I removed the pegs.

Then I let B pick up the pegs one by one and identify the color on the peg and try to match it to the color on the wheel. This way, she also got to work on manipulating the pegs. She returned all the pegs to their respective color except for the blue/indigo. But once she realized they were two different shades of blue, she corrected the situation. I think she had fun doing it, even if it wasn’t a huge challenge.

I drew the wheel on the back of a floatie box with pictures of babies in the float. I think she actually enjoyed looking at that more than the colors. Silly me- don’t I know that babies in floaties are way better than colors?!

Since we are using a part Montessori method, I am going to up the ante here and make more challenging color tablets for our next “lesson.” Since I am making most of the materials, this will require a bit more prep work for me, but I’m up for it!

More to come! Thanks for reading!



The Beginning of Our Homeschool Preschool September 23, 2011

Filed under: Homeschool — parentsong @ 6:00 am
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We began our homeschool last week! It is mostly a way for me to create more routine in our lives and help me to give Briony some structured play experiences. I’m not teaching her to do her multiplication tables or to learn the periodic table, we’ll do that next year 😉

I’ll go into more detail about it in another post, but I wanted to give y’all an idea of what we were doing. Here are some photos and little stories from our first few days at the Hilltop Garden Academy!

Briony really enjoyed the finger painting. It took a minute to warm up, but only a minute. She was really looking forward to doing this at “school.” I love it because it is a great tactile experience. We stuck with one color this time, since it was really the first time. I didn’t want to introduce too many exciting variables at once- this way she could really focus on the feel of the paint and how her hands effected the work. Her final piece that we saved was called “The Moon.” It was an orange blob on the paper with hand prints. Beautiful!

Other fun events in our first week included nature walks, a field trip to the farm to observe plowing and preparation for planting winter wheat, and an introduction to our handwork / sensory fabric basket.

For introducing handwork, I chose fabric since I am working on a few things myself right now. Briony unrolled the different fabrics and explored the textures and colors. She tried tying them around her, covering chairs, making capes and other fun things. It was nice because she could observe how I was using the fabric to make something and still enjoy the freedom of doing what she wanted to with the materials. No instruction = Happy Toddler.

We visit the farm quite regularly, so I wanted to make sure to keep this going. It is such a great learning experience! This visit was special because we went on a wagon tour of the fields they were plowing to plan winter wheat. The field here is about two acres, and with two men, two plows and four horses, it takes one full day to plow it.

Briony loved riding in the wagon. We could see the horses working up-close and watch the plow turn huge amounts of earth.

Here is a shot from one of our nature walks. We went to see the sheep but they weren’t around. After exploring the historic site where George Washington stayed during the Revolutionary War (yeah, ‘cuz she understood all that), we walked down to the canal. This part is “new” (as in, it is concrete) where the Pidcock creek crosses the canal. This works as an over-flow area so it won’t wash the path away. It is nice because we can get up close to the canal and look for little critters.

We also climbed down to check out the creek that empties into the Delaware River. Fun stuff!

Briony had a blast tossing rocks into the water and making big splashes. She also enjoyed stirring the water with sticks.

This part of the canal is very close to the wildflower preserve we regularly visit. Due to all the flooding, most of the ground cover plants have been washed away. Even the small bridges that went over streams were misplaced.

Well, that is a little glimpse of what we were up to during our first week. I’ll post some more of the activity-type stuff we are doing.

Thanks for reading!



Autumn Circle Time September 21, 2011

Filed under: Circle Time — parentsong @ 6:24 am
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Image by Greg Fischer

As we move into a new season and now that we have started our “homeschool” preschool, we use this circle 3-4 days per week. Some days we miss because I still have a rather unpredictable baby. I think this circle is a bit challenging for a 2 1/2 year-old, but she enjoys  most of it. Her attention to the circle comes and goes, but I think as she learns the verses and songs a bit more, she will get more into it.

Opening verse:

The earth is firm beneath my feet, the sun shines bright above

And here stand I so straight and strong, all things to know and love.

Verse: An Autumn Greeting

Come, said the wind to the leaves one day.

Over the meadow and we will play.

Put on your dresses of red and gold.

For summer is gone and the days grow cold.



Autumn has come to the county and town,

Wearing its garment of golden and brown.

Apples she brings us so round and so red,

Brings us our corn that we bake into bread.


Round and round the wheel goes round. As it turns the corn is ground.

Verse with motions: Here is the Tree

Here is the tree with leaves so green. Here are the apples that hang between.

When the wind blows, the apples will fall. Here is a basket to gather them all.

Song*: The Leaves are Green

1. The leaves are green, the apples are red. They hang so high above my head.

Leave them alone til frosty weather, they’ll all come tumbling down together.

2. The leaves are green the nuts are brown. They hang so high they won’t come down.

Leave them alone til frosty weather and they will all fall down together.

Movement: Stretch Me

Stretch me! Stretch me! Stretch me high!
Stretch me up to the big blue sky! (on tip toes)
Stretch me! Stretch me! Stretch me over! (stretch to one side)
Stretch me! Stretch me! Stretch me over! (stretch to other side)
Stretch me! Stretch me! Stretch me over! (stretch to front)

Roll me around! Roll me around! Roll me around!
Till I¹m sitting in clover! (rolling hands)
Rolling in clover! Rolling in clover! Rolling in clover!
Over and over! (hold knees and rock around on the floor)
Nell Smyth, The Breathing Circle p. 26

Song*: Bumblebee, Butterfly, Spider and the Beetle

  1. Bumblebee and butterfly, Spider and the beetle,

Come around and dance with us, In winds before the winter.

  1. Bumblebee of summertime, Do once more your best,

Hum around and dance with us, Before your winter’s rest.

  1. Butterfly of summertime, Do once more your best,

Flutter around and dance with us, before your winter’s rest.

  1. Spider of the summertime, Do once more your best,

Creep around and dance with us, Before your winter’s rest.

  1. Beetle of the summertime, Do once more your best,

Plod around and dance with us, Before your winter’s rest.

  1. Bumblebee and butterfly, Spider and the beetle,

Come now to your Mother Earth, and Rest there for the winter.

Finger play: On My Head

On my head my hands I place

On my Shoulders, On my face

On my hips and by my side

Then behind me they will hide

I can hold them up so high

See my fingers swiftly fly

I place them right in front of me

Then I’ll clap them, one, two, three

Closing verse*:

Down is the earth

Up is the sky

There are my friends

And here am I


* From Autumn by Jennifer Aulie


Flooding of the Delaware September 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — parentsong @ 10:12 pm
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After a very wet August, Irene hit the East Coast. In our neck of the woods, we did not have much damage. We were without electricity for two and a half days. Nothing major lost. Other people closer to the river and the many many streams and creeks in Bucks county were not so lucky. Basements were filled with water. Surprisingly, many of the businesses located along the river were sparred. The river did not go quite high enough. Until the last storm. September 7th and 8th gave us a really good rain. Up the waters went. I’m not sure what the river level was from Irene, but this time it hit 16.14 feet. 13 feet is flood stage in New Hope. So, yes, it was flooded. Not as bad as other floods, but as Nick pointed out to me, 5 of the top 16 floods in recorded history happened in the past 10 years. September 8th ranks around #9.

View of bridge, water lapping at the top of the piers

Taken from the PNC parking lot, the New Hope-Lambertville bridge is just making it above the water. The top of the piers is 17 feet. Only 7 floods in recorded history have covered them.

Lambertville banks completely covered with water

High waters, flooding the river front of Lambertville

Close up shot of the piers and the water consuming them

The bridge was closed for most of the day, of course. The water was fast-moving. Large logs zoomed past.

Our duck-feeding station, submerged

This is the park where we feed the ducks and swans. The railing is completely under water. The lamp posts are at the entry of the park. There is usually a big drop down to the river when standing at the railing. Not today.

Parking lot filled with water on River Road

I had to put this picture in full size so you could actually see the cars. This was taken standing on River Road.

Canal with strean cutting through it in Center Bridge

This was a few days after the flood in the next town north of New Hope. This creek routed itself straight through the canal. There was a water fall on the other side of the tow path that went down into the river. I couldn’t get a shot of it, though. It could only be seen from the Jersey side behind a bunch of trees.

The river is high, but not flooded

Okay, last photo. This was taken in the winter (of course) from the “duck feeding area.” This just gives an idea of what the bridge normally looks like, even though it is very high at this point (this was following many snows that had melted).


It looks like things should be drying out this week. I’m ready to move on from the rain and get outside to enjoy this weather! Stay posted for homeschool posts and music posts! Thanks for reading 🙂


P.S. For photo posts, like this, are the medium pictures okay or does the full-size work better? Just for future posts…