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

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…


What a Wonderful Summer It Was September 10, 2011

Filed under: Activities — parentsong @ 11:19 pm
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Now that my preschool planning is coming together a bit (though I’m not completely ready), I thought I’d take a minute to reflect on this past summer. It was quite nice since it was not blistering hot for three months straight. August was cool and wet (photos of the flood coming soon). I don’t think we used our A/C at all! I bet PECO won’t give us a break, though… Anyway, here are a few photos to capture our laid-back summer:

Many walks in the wildflower preserve

Shady spots for sitting and playing together

Warm rainy days filled much of August

Endless playground play

Of course, feeding ducks from an old lock on the canal

Warmimg up to the water

Daddy pushes G in his shaded floatie.

I think I should note that Gabriel is SUCH a water baby! He is so relaxed in the water and would splash and play until he crashed. He loved relaxing in this little float, too. We joked that he was like that guy in the pool in the Orbitz commercial. Just chillin’.

B calls this "digging up the road" as she works hard in the sand

G explores grass- a favorite of his

That’s it for now!

Happy Sunday!



On the Back Burner August 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — parentsong @ 6:03 am
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It has come to the point where I am going to have to put the blog on the back burner for a while. We have many things going on in the life of child-rearing. I honestly DO NOT know how other moms do it- kudos to you! Between the two children, I have about 1-2 hours a day to catch up on life: shower, wash dishes, put food away, prepare any food, pay bills, make a grocery list, read, check emails, talk to my husband uninterrupted, and on the special occasion, blog. So, while I prepare for the “opening” of Hilltop Garden Academy (my homeschool preschool, temporary name), I am going to take a break from blogging.

The preschool I am designing is a blend of Waldorf and Montessori education / experience philosophies. But don’t they sort of contradict each other, you ask? Only a bit- and it depends on what aspects of each one would blend. As I research both (along with basic education philosophy, like John Dewey), I begin to see how they compliment each other nicely and will provide just the right balance for us.

We are also going through some serious discipline and transition stages with the children. I want to focus on what is best for them and support them as much as possible. This takes a lot of energy! Yow! But amazingly, all the stuff I learned in my training as a music therapist is really starting to come into focus (at least the psychology stuff). So that is exciting.

So if you are a blogger, or something like that, and have young children and no baby sitters, how does it work? Could use a little insight here…

Ahh, I already feel better. Hope to have some fun posts (and musical posts!) up in September. Until then, may the force be with you!


Book Review: Discipline the Brazelton Way August 15, 2011

Book Review: Discipline the Brazelton Way by T. Berry Brazelton and Joshus D. Sparrow

Written by veteran pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton and child psychiatrist, Joshua D. Sparrow, this book provides a quick run-down of basic discipline techniques and approaches. It is easy to read and gives the reader tangible solutions to discipline “hot spots” as well as a little background on the importance of discipline and how it works.

The book opens with the “touchpoints of discipline,” which are “times when a child regresses in anticipation of a developmental leap ahead.” These are the typical growth milestones: the first 6 months, 7-8 months, 9-12 months, 12-14 months, the second year, and what comes after: emotional development, self-esteem, and moral development. From a theoretical orientation stand point, this section sounds a bit Freudian, or more psychodynamic. It explores how defenses are built in early childhood. The information here seems pretty grounded and was an interesting view on child development.

The second chapter discusses approaches to discipline, such as the parent’s own memories of discipline, influence of temperament, leading by example, interpreting behaviors, and consequences, to name a few. It provides enough information for the reader to get the gist of approaches, though is not an exhaustive in-depth look at discipline approaches.

The third chapter holds all the keys: ways to discipline. Methods are presented in three categories: 1. Usually worth a try, 2. Sometimes useful, and 3. Not helpful. This is where the reader will find things like time-out, taking away toys, spanking, or ignoring behavior. Each way of disciplining is explained and then weighted with pro’s and con’s. I thought this was a great lay-out for presenting different discipline options.

Finally, the fourth chapter explains some of the typical problems of discipline. These include attention seeking, biting, defiance, lying, power struggles, running away, etc. Each issue is briefly discussed and then goes on to suggest what the parent might do to deal with the issue.

My take on the book:

If you are in need of a quick and easy introduction to discipline, this is a great book. It won’t help you develop a personal philosophy on discipline or really change deeply ingrained discipline habits if you have been using any for a while. I am new to discipline (a fairly blank slate), so I could quickly incorporate some of the ideas here and get results.

The book also offers some nice verbal examples of what to say to children. Sometimes, parents just need a script for certain instances and the authors do a good job of demonstrating dialogue around discipline.

While things for me are still fairly uncomplicated (my oldest is 2.5 right now), I am still looking for something with more substance to help me develop a stronger discipline philosophy / approach.

The most helpful technique or bit of information that I have taken from this book is the concept that children at this age (2-3 years) do not have the ability to keep impulses in check and they need our help. BUT, at this age, they also want to do things for themselves and are testing out their independence. This is scary to a child in a way because they realize how much “power” they have. To help my daughter, I have been telling her that she can do it herself (comply with my request) or I will have to help her do it (physical intervention). After two or three times of me “helping” her, she always chooses to do it herself. This applies to things like putting on shoes, getting in the car, giving a toy back to her brother, climbing down from the table, etc. While this is a little over-simplistic, it works for now.

On the whole, the book is practical and to the point. It is a great introduction to discipline and a nice fix if you don’t have a lot of time to put into really learning and understanding discipline in the big picture.


The Beginning of a New Era August 13, 2011

Filed under: Parenting — parentsong @ 2:15 pm
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I’m slowly realizing that life will never be the same once one has committed to the task of raising children. The first two years were pretty straight forward. Sure, it was tough, but we could handle it. We didn’t have to step outside of our comfort zone and problems were solved with simple changes to our schedule or approach. Nothing else really changed, aside from the fact that we abandoned our social life and work life.

Now I am finding myself completely rearranging my brain and my external world to accommodate for the support necessary to give these children the best chance at life. It is easy to see how parents sacrifice everything they have and all they are. But I do not think that is necessary or healthy. But then, how do we find that balance between “me” and “child?” There are parts of me I want my children to know and that I want room for in the family, such as my musical parts. Only today, the first time in 31 months, could I sit down at the piano and ask my daughter to listen and have her do just that. I mean, she was dancing, but she wasn’t crying or pushing me off of the bench, or banging the keys.

I always had this vision of playing music for my children. I would play them to sleep, or play Chopin or Bach to keep them company while they played quietly on the floor. Unfortunately, I did not have such children. So I had to let go of that idea. Now I am struggling to find a way of letting that part of me coexist.

Now we are getting into the intricacies of discipline (which you will notice by my upcoming book reviews) and growing independence through potty training and sleeping in a regular bed. I plan on starting a two day per week preschool at home. Things are really changing now. And since I set out for this blog to document our songs and such because music is such a big part of our day to day life, I hope to focus on that more. I just find that I’m lucky to get the few posts in per month that I do!

Thanks for reading my brain dump. I’m not sure what this all means right now, but it does feel like the beginning of a new era. I can’t wait to see what happens!