Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Feb '11

Time Flies

Wes and Carissa are getting so big. Wes is 3 1/2, and Carissa just peaked at 6 months.

Wesley’s latest thing is saying “Me!” whenever he wants something or to do something. I think he must have learned that one at school. I think it’s kind of cute and a good thing that he’s learning to express his independence.

I keep paper and crayons in a drawer near the kitchen. Wes discovered this, and he also noticed that when he would scribble a picture I’d put it on the fridge. After the first two pictures went up, he pulled out all the paper (which, thankfully, wasn’t a huge stack) and drew on all of them, each picture less elaborate than the last, and then took them one-by-one to the fridge for me to hang. We now have an art gallery.

Carissa turned 6 months on Tuesday. Once she got past the newborn stage, she was in that “little baby” stage for a long time. But lately I’ve been thinking she’s looking older, and I can kind of start to envision how she’ll look and be as a one-year-old. No, I’m not ready to think about that yet.

She is great at holding her head up. She’ll roll from her back onto her side to play with toys, but she hasn’t made it a habit to roll all the way over to her tummy. She smiles a lot and I like to make her laugh. She loves her brother, and he loves her. He likes it when we tickle her because he likes it when she smiles and laughs. And then he tries to tickle her, but he’s not really effective yet.

Feb '11

Pssst! Wanna Buy a Cupcake?

My sister is pretty much awesome, as evidenced by her invitation to us for her birthday to participate in a very sophisticated cupcake tasting.

After my chocolate tasting party last fall, I think I may be becoming a tasting connoisseur.

If you live around here, I can now tell you where to enjoy the finest cupcakes. Read on.

Step 1: Buy lots of cupcakes.

We picked some local cupcakeries and split up the job of bringing a few home to sample.

Here’s our spread (I didn’t have a camera on me, just the video camera):

Our stores:

Sweet Tooth Fairy (Provo)
The Cocoa Bean Cafe (Provo)
The Chocolate (Orem)
Cupcake Chic (Orem)
Dippidees (American Fork; also Springville inside Shay-Bee’s)
Smith’s (lots of locations)

We aimed to get a vanilla- and chocolate-based cupcake from each, plus a red velvet. But the flavors offered varied from place to place.

Step 2: Prepare to keep track of your opinions.

My sister created a handy score sheet to use as we tasted.

But first we rated the cupcakes on appearance and general appeal.

Step 3: Dig in!

This is easier said than done. We found it was best to divide each cupcake into quarters so as to slow the inevitable sugar rush.

Step 4: Compare notes.

The winners?


#1: The Cocoa Bean Cafe
#2: The Sweet Tooth Fairy
#3: Cupcake Chic
#4: The Chocolate
#5: Dippidee
#6: Smith’s


#1: The Sweet Tooth Fairy (red velvet = #1, toasted coconut = #2)
#2: Cupcake Chic (coconut = #1, red velvet = #2)

The red velvet cupcake at The Sweet Tooth Fairy won because of its super moist, spongy cake and cream cheese frosting that was flavored with almond. This set it apart from every other red velvet cupcake we tried.

The coconut cupcake at Cupcake Chic was amazing. I think it’s mostly because of the vanilla cupcake that the coconut is mounted on. We 100% did NOT like the Cupcake Chic’s Neapolitan cupcake, but the strawberry frosting on it was divine. So if you like strawberry, go for their vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting. It was also amazing.

The Chocolate and The Cocoa Bean Cafe were more grouped in the middle. The Cocoa Bean Cafe won the appearance based on their double frosting (an icing covered with a mound of frosting). Their cupcakes were also by far the widest and heaviest. BUT their taste came in the middle.

For me, Dippidees was the worst. By far. Their filling did not redeem them.

Smith’s was the big surprise; their cupcakes didn’t score high, but they weren’t the worst either. Their red velvet cake was moist.

So if you live around here and are needing a cupcake fix. this is what our very scientific research found: The Sweet Tooth Fairy or the Cupcake Chic can hook you up with something delicious. But be prepared to spend a little change; the cupcakes average about $2.25-2.50 apiece.

Feb '11

Wes Reading

About a year ago Wesley’s speech therapist mentioned she had attended a workshop where a woman presented a program about how to use flashcards to teach young children to read. Our therapist said it wasn’t the same as, but was similar to, this book (and other books like it; there are several):

Our therapist said she went with great skepticism, but while there she met parents of some special needs kids she had worked with when they were in the same program Wes was in. And the parents said the reading program worked. The more our therapist listened, the more she started to think that maybe the lady was onto something.

At the time when she told me this I went to the library and checked out the book she recommended. I can’t remember if it’s the same one pictured above. I didn’t read it. Wes was only two and, given where he was at with his speech, I couldn’t comprehend me needing to know anything about how to help him with reading yet. It seemed so far in the future.

Fast forward to now, when Wes is three and in love with letters. We sing and sign the alphabet song when we change diapers, when we’re in the car, when we’re doing anything, really. He likes the Super Why program on PBS that features letters and reading.

Last weekend John and I were casually talking about Wesley’s interest in letters, and he suggested I make some flashcards with words on them. I remembered the reading program the therapist had mentioned. Like I said, I kind of blew it off at the time, but I did remember that one of the keys was writing the words in red. So I made ten flashcards out of card stock and red marker. They featured the words Mom, Dad, Stop, Go, Bus, School, Milk, Red, Sock, and Shoe.

The only other thing I remembered about the program is that it recommended flipping through the flashcards with your kid a few times a day. Just say each one once, and then you’re done.

So I did this. Wes liked it so much that once was never enough. We’d do them again and again.

After a few days I realized he was starting to say the word before I did. I was shocked and amazed! The first time Wes did this I looked over at John, who was watching TV, and said, “Did you hear that? Wes knows the word ‘bus’!” To which John shrugged and said, “Yeah, I know.” Like this was old news. Apparently I was the last to know.

It’s been two weeks since we started the flashcards. We don’t do it every day, but as often as I remember.

Here we are this morning reading the cards together.

He gets most of the words. With the words he knows he usually will accompany saying the word along with making the sign.