Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Land of Misplaced Memories

I originally read this piece aloud on May 7, 2015 as part of the Little Rock, Arkansas edition of  Listen to Your Mother. I was both awed  and humbled to be included with a cast of charming storytellers whose stories were diverse but still familiar on some level with anyone who heard them. Click the link above to find out more about LTYM and to get on the mailing list, so you will remember to share your own story next year!  

     After my daughter was born, I did everything I was supposed to do. I pat-a-caked; I peek-a-booed; I counted pink little piggy toes, but I still didn't feel it. "It" being the overwhelming sense of adoration and affection that I felt after each of my first four children were born.  It wasn't my little girl’s fault. Aubrey was a beautiful baby who ate well and slept well; never mind that after four boys, she was the sweet little bundle of sugar and spice I had always dreamed of. Still, I could do nothing more than go through the motions: feeding, changing, bathing, repeating, day in and day out.
With my other children, even though life grew increasingly dark as each pregnancy progressed, everything brightened after delivery. When the depression didn't lift after Aubrey’s birth, I tried to break free the best I knew how: I exercised more. I took vitamins and herbs and used essential oils. I threw myself into hobbies, trying to ignite even a spark of interest in life.  I finally resorted to antidepressants, which hadn't served me well in the past, but I was desperate for relief. None of it worked, and the depression gradually transformed from the thin dark air of a starless night to a thick black tar that both suffocated and paralyzed me.  Eventually, my psychiatrist told me we might want to try something more radical: electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, which is more commonly (and dramatically) known as “electroshock therapy.” This term often conjures up images of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Jack Nicholson in the throes of sweaty, violent convulsions, but reality is much more sedate. Literally.
ECT is actually performed under general anesthesia with some muscle relaxers thrown in, so there are no convulsions when a little electricity induces a seizure.  I always imagined myself being hooked up like a car battery that needed a jump start. Looking back, it still sounds a little frightening, maybe even barbaric, but it’s amazing what you’re willing to do when your life is on the line. I was so sick by the time the doctor explained the risks of ECT to me that when she said, “Anytime general anesthesia is involved, there is a risk of death,” all I could think was, “That would really simplify things.”  Over the next six weeks, I was put under and shocked into a seizure nine times.  Just before the sixth or seventh treatment, as the doctor was injecting anesthesia into my IV, I rushed to slur out a question before the meds kicked in: “I’m actually afraid I won’t wake up this time. Does that mean it’s working?”  The nurse patted me on the hand, smiled, and said, “Yes. Now go to sleep.”
It’s odd that I remember so clearly the conversations I had with the medical staff just before each treatment because memory loss is one of the most troubling side effects of ECT. Since what I like to call my “electric summer,” I have discovered many things I didn't know I had forgotten. Some of them are silly, like when I opened my cabinet and noticed a box of Jake and the Neverland Pirates Band-Aids. I said, “These are so cute! When did we get these?” My husband informed me that I was the one who bought them. Some lost memories are just strange, like when I found three batches of soup in my freezer that I don’t remember making.  And sometimes the lack of memory is painful. Luckily, I have an email transcript of my interaction with my oldest son Alex, who has already moved away from home, but I don’t remember watching my second oldest son, Eric, graduate from high school. I can’t recall dropping my third son, Jacob, off at scout camp for his first summer job. A trip to the zoo with Aubrey and her three-year-old brother, Aidan, only lives in photos. And three people who held special places in my heart passed away around the time of my treatments. For several months, I would see or hear something that reminded me of them, and it was almost like learning they were gone all over again.
I also have trouble making new memories. Sometimes I struggle just to recall what I did yesterday, but other times I remember with clarity something that happened a month ago.
The good news, though, is that in the moment, I’m finally feeling it. I treasure the moments when Jacob, who has become the last teenager living at home for now, looks up from his phone long enough to grunt at me a little more than usual. When Aidan goes into great detail describing the ins and outs of the latest Angry Birds game, I want to hear it. When he informs me that I am one puppy or another from Paw Patrol, I play along, barking for good measure.  And even though the first two years of Aubrey’s life are a blur, I no longer cringe when I hear her chattering on the baby monitor as she wakes up in the morning. And when she dances to the theme song from Curious George, I get up and dance, too.
I never stopped loving my children, even in the darkest hours, but now I can really feel it. I adore them again. I enjoy the time I spend with them again. And even though next week or next month, I may not be able to remember the little moments of joy that we create together today, I hope they will. And in the end, that’s all the really matters.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Too Sweet for My Own Good

The last time I was pregnant was almost thirteen years ago, so needless to say, this pregnancy has been a little different because I'm a lot older. I get tired more easily. I don't remember being so uncomfortable this early. And this time around I am dealing with gestational diabetes.

Well, I call it gestational diabetes, but it's a little different for me than most women who are diagnosed with the disease because I didn't all of a sudden sprout problems midway through the pregnancy. I have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic for several years now. I have been proud of myself for keeping the "pre" firmly attached and not converting to a full-blown diabetic. I thought I had things under pretty good control, but then I got pregnant and found out that the blood sugar levels they want to see in pregnant women are a lot lower than the general population.

So I was labeled "diabetic" right out of the starting gate. I have been religiously counting carbs and doing everything I could to keep my blood sugar under control. It can be tough staring down pregnancy cravings while knowing I can't succumb to most of them, but the diabetic diet has helped me to only gain 3 lbs. in the first 22 weeks, so at least there is a plus side.

Still, it seems that no matter how hard I try, my blood sugar readings start to climb again every few weeks. From what I understand, this is somewhat expected. It has something to do with the placenta pumping out an increasing amount of hormones that make me even more insulin-resistant than I was to begin with.

I test my sugar four times each day, and whenever I do, I feel like I'm having a showdown with a playground bully who suffers from mood swings. You see, my glucose meter doesn't just display numbers like other meters. It speaks in code through those numbers. Sometimes, when my sugar is good, the meter is kind and says, "Good job, momma!" If my reading is only a little out of range, the meter just shakes its head and clucks it tongue at me. When it gets a little higher, the meter starts to say mean things like "You're a bad mother." And if my sugar skyrockets, which has only happened two or three times since mid-July, the meter goes for the jugular with "Are you sure you should be allowed to procreate?"

After having my self-esteem battered by insults both morning and night from my meter for the last three weeks (my mid-day readings have actually stayed within range), my doctor finally said what I've been expecting but dreading. It's time to go on insulin.

We could have upped my oral medication again, but honestly, I have awful lows when the dosage is high enough to control my sugars well, and those lows make me feel horrible. And I figure if I'm going to end up on insulin anyway, why not get the ball rolling? I'm hoping it will actually give me better control, and maybe my glucose meter can stop with all the insults. So tomorrow I get to learn how to give myself shots. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

He who shall not be named--and I don't mean Voldemort

With the other three boys, we always had both a girl name and a boy name picked out before the big ultrasound, so when we found out the gender, the kid had a name on the spot. This time we found out at 14 weeks that we were having a boy, so I didn't stress out about having a name yet because I figured I had until we usually would have found out. Well, we had the big anatomy scan--the munchkin looks healthy, by the way-- and the poor kid is still just known as The Baby.

I had a name picked out early on, but Rhett only said he "could live with it." I don't want the little tike sporting a name his dad can just "live with," so I detached myself from that name. Rhett, the boys, and I have a few favorites we keep coming back to, but nothing seems to stick yet. Why is this so hard?

I even had a dream last night that he was born, and he was so cute and cuddly and warm, but do you know what we called him throughout the dream?  The Baby!!!! I remember actually being frustrated during the dream that I couldn't even figure out this kid's name by tapping into my subconscious.

So I'm open to suggestions. I'm not going to share which names we already like because finding out that your cousin's next door neighbor who picked his nose and ate the boogers had the same name will not help me right now. But if you have any ideas for a little boy name that will go with the middle name Robert (after my dad), then please feel free to throw them out there. 

Oh and it might be good if the name fits well with the others when a frustrated voice yells, "Alex, Eric, Jacob, and _______!"

Friday, October 22, 2010

Degrees of Virtual Reality

Sometimes on TV a show will open in the fall with its characters transformed after a busy summer. They will usually take the first ten minutes or so of the new season to update viewers on everything that has happened while the show was on hiatus. Well, let's pretend that I have been on hiatus over the summer, and here's what you missed:
  1. In May, we found out we were pregnant and due in January.
  2. In June, we lost that baby, and I was crushed.
  3. In July, we found out we were pregnant again, this time due in March. I was scared of losing another one.
  4. In August, we saw our little peanut's heartbeat on the ultrasound, and I started to breathe easier.
  5. In September, we found out we would be having our fourth baby boy, and we both fell in love with him.
  6. The very last day of September, Rhett lost his job. 

So here we are in October, just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Life has become a whirlwind of trying to find Rhett a new job and arranging Medicaid to cover my now insurance-less pregnancy. 

If you and I are Facebook friends or if you know me in real life, you probably already know all of these things. So why have I waited so long to update here even though I shared the same news in real time on Facebook? There are a few reasons.

First of all, with the morning sickness and fatigue of the first pregnancy, the pain and depression that accompanied the loss, and then another round of morning sickness and fatigue with the current pregnancy, I just didn't feel like blogging for a few months. I did share on Facebook, though, initially because I was so happy after so many years of wanting another baby that I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Then, when we got bad news, sharing on Facebook made the most sense because it was efficient. I didn't want to have the awkwardness of untelling to compound our pain.

What I find interesting is that I was also scared to write about either pregnancy on the blog. Facebook is so ephemeral, and a status update seems to evaporate shortly after it is broadcast. But a blog is more permanent, like an electronic scrapbook. I was afraid of jinxing the pregnancy by announcing it in a weightier medium. Blogging would make it too real, which would make it more painful if things didn't work out.

After the loss, I wanted to blog, but I needed time to process what happened before I could write about anything. (I know I seem way too open about my feelings in so many ways, but parts of me are fiercely private.) By the time I was finally ready to share, I suspected I was pregnant again, and I was afraid it was inauthentic to chronicle my heartbreak when I was already clinging to new hope. After the first loss, I was even more superstitious about discussing the new pregnancy at all, so I silenced myself again.

Now the morning sickness is gone, and I'm not so huge yet that I'm uncomfortable, so I'm hoping to blog a little more. I'm sure this uncertain phase in our lives will provide plenty of writing material. This whole experience has gotten me thinking, though. Do other people find some electronic media (and real-life social situations) less threatening than others?

I guess for me the order of threat from least to most would be Facebook, face-to-face contact, blogging, and email. Why is email the most threatening? I think it's because as a writer, I am likely to pour out my soul in an email to someone I know, and that email could be forwarded to complete strangers without my knowledge. When I write for the blog, I'm aware that anyone in the world could read it, so I write accordingly.

How about you? Do you put a lot of thought into how you use social media? Is there a specific medium that seems more or less threatening to you? I'd love to hear your answers!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sex, Drugs, and Chewing Gum

I would really like to support my local school system. I know a lot of teachers who dedicate their lives to teaching our children and helping them grow as individuals. There are a few bad apples, but I try to teach my kids that we have to learn how to deal with frustrating people, so going to school provides an opportunity to practice that skill. I am also sure that there are school administrators out there somewhere who genuinely try to provide a good environment in which kids can learn. Unfortunately, I have not met any of those administrators in the Little Rock School District (LRSD). (Although there was one assistant principal who smiled and talked in a syrupy sweet voice as she wrote my child up and assigned in-school suspension for terroristic threatening because he had a battery in his backpack. I guess Mary Poppins taught her that trick.)

Today my fourteen-year-old, Eric, came home and told us that he had to go to detention tomorrow morning or he would be suspended. I was already having a stressful day, so I might have lost it just a little bit. Translation: I screamed, "What the...!?!?!?!?!", started crying, and mumbled something about chocolate and my failure as a parent.  After I calmed down a little bit, I learned that this threat was made by the assistant principal because Eric had not served a previously-assigned detention. Eric admitted that a teacher said she was going to write him up one day last week, but she never gave him the behavior document. When he asked her about it the next day, she told him she wasn't going to turn it in. He heard nothing more about until he was threatened with a 2-day suspension.  Oh yeah, the original offense that started all of this: chewing gum.

I believe Eric.  I believe him partly because he hasn't hidden detention assignments from us before. I also have heard other stories about this teacher's inconsistencies, and the chain of events Eric describes sounds plausible. I also know that LRSD loves to throw around big punishments for minor offenses while far too many of their graduates can't complete remedial coursework at the local community college.

We called the assistant principal responsible, but he was busy with an after school program and would have to call us back. I used the waiting time to scour the LRSD handbook and the Mann Middle School handbook. The two handbooks contradict each other (Surprise!), but the Mann handbook states that "In all cases, the LRSD Rights and Responsibilities handbook takes precedence over the Mann handbook," so I focused on the LRSD rules. According to the notice I received, Eric was being suspended for "Failure to D-Hall within the time frame" (I didn't know D-Hall was a verb. Did you?) "Failure to Serve Detention" is Rule 6 of the Category 1 offenses. However, the notice then explains that not D-Halling (Is that the right conjugation of this new verb?) is a violation of Category 1-Rule 2: "Failure or Refusal to Follow Reasonable Directives of School Staff and/or School Rules and Regulations".  Either way, according to the LRSD handbook, Category 1 offenses are not punishable by out-of-school suspension.  Even if they were, can he be guilty of not serving detention if he was never notified it had been assigned? 

By the time the assistant principal called back, I was armed and ready. I opened by explaining that we try to follow the rules, and we have made arrangements for Eric to serve detention in the past and punished him according to the severity of the crime at home.  I expressed my concern that my son was being suspended when he was never properly notified of the detention in the first place. Here's how the conversation went down:

Mr. L: "Well, chewing gum is an automatic D-Hall."

Me: "Really, what page of the handbook is that on?"

Mr. L: "Well, I don't know if it's in the handbook, but your son has been going to school here for three years. He knew he was chewing gum, so he knew he had detention."

Me: "Let me get this straight. You're saying that chewing gum is an automatic detention, so every student who chews gum should report for detention automatically; no behavior document is necessary."

Mr. L: "Well, no. But if he'll come to detention tomorrow, I'll forget about this whole thing."

Me: (Taking several deep breaths.) "I don't think you understand how this is going to work. Eric was not properly notified that he had detention. According to the Mann handbook, he has five days from notification to serve his detention. If you would like to notify him properly, we will make sure he shows up for D-Hall within five days, but I will not be bullied into dragging him in tomorrow. I will, however, be happy to show up first thing tomorrow morning to compare the contradicting LRSD and Mann handbooks and look at Eric's file to see if the paper trail of behavior documents corresponds to the escalation of discipline."

Mr. L: "Well, go ahead and count this as day one. He's got five days." (Eric will show up for D-Hall the day after tomorrow.)
We continued to talk about the contradictory handbooks, and his comments made it obvious that he hadn't read either one of them. I explained that I have another child who has two more years to go there, and I want to figure out what the real rules are so I can follow them. He told me I would have to talk to the principal about that.

Here's what really aggravates me about the whole thing: Used condoms litter the football field. Security guards religiously scan the kids' belongings for drugs. These students are being taught how to answer questions on the yearly standardized test, not how to think critically. But they are worried about suspending my child, in essence, for CHEWING GUM?!?!?!?!

Before we hung up I said, "I am very concerned. If chewing gum is such a problem that you need to set an automatic detention policy that is enforceable by suspension, it must be causing a lot of trouble. I know that teenage pregnancy and drug use are bothersome, but I think we should nip this chewing gum issue in the bud. I would like to personally set up a task force to deal with this problem." He told me I would have to talk to the principal about that, too.

I just might.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


We're stuck between two worlds, he and I. My sixteen-year-old son has one foot creeping into the land of being an adult and one still firmly planted in the world of being a kid. The former 8lb. 3 oz. bundle of my purpose in life is now an almost-man whose five o'clock shadow grazes me as he kisses my cheek and says, "Good night, Mommy." He discusses scripture with a soberness of mind and purity of heart that almost erases his age from my awareness--at least until the word "duty" wanders into the conversation, and he giggles, reminding me that he is not yet above laughing over a bathroom-related pun.

I, too, feel torn because as he ventures into his own life, separate from mine, I feel my own existence enlarged just by vicariously experiencing the territory he explores. At the same time, he begins to mark boundaries and move far enough away that I cannot--and I should not--go with him. As he does, I feel him take little pieces of me with him, pieces that I freely send so he will always remember what I have taught him, or at least what I hope I have taught him, but pieces of me are missing nonetheless.

Today I got a vision of what our future will be. The family piled into the car, and we drove to Arkadelphia for Alex to receive his patriarchal blessing. As his mother, I have spent every day with him trying to help him discover his God-given talents and his purpose in this life. Hearing what the Lord had to say on the matter confirmed some wonderful things I already suspected about this equally wonderful boy, but it also proved to me that I could never have imagined the kind of blessings Heavenly Father has planned for him--for any of us, for that matter. The blessing spoke of Alex's future as a missionary, a husband, a father, and simply as a man of God. As I imagined my son growing into his future, I felt him slip away just a little. Then when the blessing was over, he gave me a big hug, and I smiled. Later, I cried.

I have a feeling this pattern will become familiar in the coming years.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Power of Orange

Last fall I decided to completely clean out the front flower beds and start over. Only a burgundy daylily was spared, and I ran to Lowe's to find new flowers. We rented for several years after moving back to Arkansas, so I had forgotten how quickly the bill adds up when you want to fill a bed to overflowing with colorful blooms. As I calculated the damages in my head, I began to remember why it took me about five years to get the perfect combination of perennials and bulbs to create never-ending color in my Utah gardens. I finally settled on some spring bulbs, a few mums that had been marked down to 50 cents but that still looked salvageable, and a couple of flats of yellow pansies, which I hoped would gradually fill in the big dirt rectangle that I had so rashly cleared out.

I chose all yellow pansies for a couple of reasons. First of all, I am horrible at combining colors, so I decided sticking with one color was safe. I also have a side of me that craves order and symmetry and control, so imagining a blanket of orderly yellow flowers calmed that inner control freak.

Little did I know, however, that a rebel lurked in the dirt. When I first bought the pansies, only a few of them had blooms, so I just had to trust that they were all yellow.  But there was one--only one--who dared to be different, one who had the gumption to interrupt my wave of cheerful yellow with...ORANGE.

I know, I sounds like I'm overreacting.  (Maybe I am, just a little bit.)  But you don't understand how I had worked so hard to have predictability in just one little part of my life only to have this silly plant stick its tongue out at me every time I walked out my front door. At first I thought it was a fluke, so I pinched off the blossom. After all, the buds looked just as yellow as the buds on the other pansies.  Pinching it back just made it grow more enthusiastically, and I swear each new bloom was more orange than the last. The botanical brat had spunk, that's for sure, and I started to grow fond of the little plant.  In fact, I started to identify with it.

You see, this pansy had leaves and stems and roots and blossoms just like all the others. It followed the laws of nature, but it followed them with style. It didn't care that the other pansies in the bed were all yellow; it was going to bloom its heart out with a vibrancy that expressed all its joy and happiness and desire to give and love and be. (I know that sounds like an awful lot of emotion to attribute to a single plant, but trust me, I've been hanging out with this flower for a few months now, and this is a spirited set of petals.) 

Sometimes I feel kind of like that pansy. Sure, I'm a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister--but I also don't bloom quite like everybody else. I have to admit, however, that I haven't reveled in my unique color palette the way my little pansy in the front yard has. For years, others would pinch back my blooms, trying to make me conform, and I put all my energy into trying to bloom yellow.  It left me feeling lifeless and lost and unlovable. Only in the past few years have I started to embrace my orange-ness.

I've learned to accept that I live life to the extreme. I overdose on something new until I'm sick of it. For example, I may turn my entire house upside down trying to make the perfect cake truffle...

Only to make so many flippin' truffles that I never want to see cake or dipping chocolate again.

And I've learned to accept that I'm a nerd and always will be. If I combine nerdiness with religion, I become somebody who could spend eight hours a day reading scriptures and still want to order out for pizza at day's end because I'm not done yet. All of this means that when I was asked to teach early morning seminary (and get up before the roosters to do so)...


I was ecstatic even though most of the people at church offered me their sympathy. Getting up at 4am makes me feel like I constantly get a two-for-one special. Each day is so long, it actually feels like two days rolled into one, and most of the time that turns out to be a good thing.

And maybe the craziest sounding way that I am blooming to my own palette right now involves my children. My boys are 16, 14, and almost 12. When most mothers are enjoying having offspring who can fully bathe, dress, and feed themselves, I am dreaming of having more babies. If I look at the situation logically, I understand why people think I ought to have my head examined, but it just feels right.  At least the steps we have taken so far to make that possible--getting my tubal ligation reversed--that feels right. And even going to Mexico to have that done, which made all the naysayers cluck their tongues and shake their heads, that felt right, too.

Dr. Diaz, Dr. Levi, and me the day after surgery

I have no idea what will happen next. I don't know if we will be blessed with another baby or if this was all a lesson in being willing to do what seems crazy.  All I know is the older I get, the more comfortable I am with blooming however I bloom, even if I don't match any of the other flowers around me. My little orange pansy obeys the laws of nature, and everything else is negotiable. As long as I follow the laws of heaven, I figure I can bloom the brightest orange my little petals can muster, and I will turn out just fine, too.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ebb and Flow

When I was younger, I thought that when my spirits were high and I felt in the zone, all was right with the world. When my energy and attention span diminished, so did my self esteem. I felt like a prisoner of my own life rhythms.

I'm older now, and I think I am finally starting to understand what I imagine some people may never struggle with at all. My energy and attention and capacity to learn still ebb and flow just like they always have, but now I see those cycles as signals of when I should pursue what.

The past couple of weeks have been rough. I couldn't remember words for common things, my joints hurt with the simplest motions, and I was exhausted beyond measure. I couldn't seem to get beyond the have-to-dos in order to tackle the ought-to-dos, and the wanna-dos were nothing more than blips on my attention deficit radar. I have big plans for this spring and summer, and I started to worry that my mind and body were conspiring against me to squash those plans. Then I remembered to just ride the wave.

I slept more. I ate more chocolate than I should have. I read my scriptures. And eventually I started to feel better.

A lot better.

My mood lifted, and my energy surged, so I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning catching up and making plans. (Because I still haven't mastered not going overboard when I start to feel better.) I'm plowing forward with school, home, and family projects, and some other new assignments have come my way--magically at just the right time. (When I say magically, I mean that Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing.) I'll probably get a little bit ahead of the game while I am back in the zone, which is good, because I can guarantee that it won't last forever.

Don't worry. I have a big stash of chocolate, and I'm good at taking naps.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And you thought Willie Wonka was strange...

Skin and Other Stories Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This month's book group selection is Skin and Other Stories by Roald Dahl. The book is described many places as a collection that introduces teens to Dahl's adult fiction, and I can see how my teenage boys would enjoy these off-the-wall tales. However, if I weren't a writer, I don't know if I would like this book as much as I do. Many of the stories cross the border of odd and venture into slightly creepy--but they do it so well, I cannot help but appreciate Roald Dahl's skill.

Dahl begins and ends each story during the action, no dilly-dallying around with warming up or droning on with conclusions. He also knows precisely when to withhold information from a story and allow his readers' imaginations to fill in far more vivid details than he can wrangle onto paper. For example, in "Lamb to the Slaughter," we never know exactly what Mary Maloney's husband said to her that caused her to snap, and in "Skin" we never learn the method of artistic extraction. (Thank goodness!) In "Beware of the Dog," Dahl demonstrates how to artfully capture the surreal when he describes the pilot's hazy descent from airplane to hospital bed. My favorite story is "The Wish," probably because I have three boys and I have witnessed how they spent entire afternoons avoiding imaginary hot lava when they were younger.

Overall opinion: While this is not thought-provoking or life-changing literature, these strange stories that are expertly told make nice little escapes from reality.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let's just call them truffles...

I've been feeling more domestic lately.  When I say that, I really mean that I have been thinking about being more domestic: reading cute blog articles by domestic goddesses or dreaming of hiring someone to deal with all the domesticity that I am so behind on.  I did, however, run across one project that looked fun to try: Cake Balls by Bakerella. I can't seem to say "cake balls" without giggling like a 12-year-old boy, so from here on out, we're going to refer to them as truffles.

The recipe called for a red velvet cake, which I have always thought looked kind of pretty, and red velvet seems to have an almost cult-like following in the home baking world.  Luckily, Bakerella recommended a mix, because baking a cake from scratch might have squashed my June Cleaver-esque attempt.


After baking the cake, I have to say that I just don't get the fascination with red velvet. Maybe it's blissfully better when it's made from scratch, but maybe--just maybe--the overabundance of red food coloring kills off the chocolate flavor of the cake and does nothing more than makes a big mess.  I'm just saying.

To make the cake balls truffles, I had to crumble up the cake, mix it with icing and roll it into little, um,  spheres. All the red food coloring in the cake made that task quite messy, and I couldn't help but feel as if I were channeling Lady Macbeth.

Out, damned spot! out, I say!

When the truffles were all rolled, they didn't seem as crimson. I realized that my tasty treats were actually more of a UALR maroon than a bright red, and I felt a swelling of school pride. (Don't worry. I took two aspirin and rested for a few minutes, and the swelling went away.)

Does that make these Trojan Balls Truffles?

Finally, I dipped the little cakes in chocolate.  (Because what is the point in spending that much time in the kitchen if there isn't chocolate involved?)


Mine didn't turn out as cute as Bakerella's, but I also don't have as much practice with making cute swirly designs on top. I think the contrast of the red against the chocolate is pretty, but not pretty enough to make up for the mess.  


Don't get the idea that I don't like these--I just think I could like them more.  That's why there is a good old fashioned chocolate cake cooling in my kitchen right now...