The Big 1-0-0
I feel like I've reached a milestone with my 100th blog post! In keeping with tradition, below is a list with 100 things about me.
1. With my children, I duplicated the family I grew up in: boy, girl, girl, girl.
2. I’m the middle girl.
3. My children don’t at all resemble my siblings.
4. Especially my son, a very mild child who hasn’t given any scars to his little sisters.
5. But my brother gave me a scar when he was being nice, not during the times he held me over the bannister, locked me in a closet, or threatened to kill me.
6. Thanks in part to being a secretary in college, I can type really fast, which is one reason I cannot write books long hand.
7. The other reason is that my handwriting is atrocious. I blame my older sister for that.
8. I have six screws in my jaw from a surgery when I was 16. Not the easiest way to fix your bite . . .
9. Recovery included having my jaw wired shut and being on a liquid diet. (Ensure, anyone?)
10. With my swollen face, I look like a demented alien in all my sister’s wedding photos, which was all of four weeks post-op.
11. But I never grew any wisdom teeth to remove.
12. I love hot cocoa, the Finnish Fazer blue milk chocolate bar, and Peter’s Burgundy. Among other chocolates.
13. In high school I broke out of my shell and auditioned for community theater.
14. As a result, I performed in Joseph (I swear, the first production of it I was ever aware of; following ours, they mushroomed everywhere and people got sick of it).
15. I also performed in Fiddler on the Roof and Into the Woods, back when I could actually hit a high b-flat without causing physical pain in listeners, which is why I got the role of Rapunzel, who hits a high b-flat almost every time she opens her mouth.
16. I refer to both of those plays in my first book, Lost Without You.
17. One of my favorite things in the world is hiking in the High Uintahs.
18. But I haven’t done that for over a decade.
19. I wanted to be a writer at the tender age of 8.
20. But I got serious about the whole thing with my first submission Labor Day weekend 1994.
21. That first submission was rejected. As were many others.
22. For years, my kids thought Mom just typed a lot.
23. When I published my first article, I enjoyed showing my byline to them. That’s when they finally “got” what I did at the keyboard.
24. I like ice cream flavors that include nuts, especially almonds and pecans. And caramel. And chocolate.
25. My eyebrow hair grows long and then curls upward. I have to trim my eyebrows with scissors to avoid looking like Gandalf.
26. I lived in Finland from the age of 10 to 13.
27. I attended the Finnish public school system and eventually learned the language quite well, although it’s very rusty now.
28. In my class a scrawny little kid named Mika led a gang of boys (who were neither little nor scrawny), and together they tried to beat up the American girl at recess.
29. His twin sister Mia and her friends made a human shield to protect me, even though they hardly knew me. She was bigger and taller than her twin brother.
30. Mia became one of my best friends from Finland.
31. Katri became the other. We’re still in touch. (Terve, lady!)
32. I had a paper route with them and Marjo, where we delivered free papers and ads to a string of apartment buildings.
33. I got pretty good at knowing how many papers belonged in each stairwell, racing up several flights of stairs and then shoving the papers into the mail slots on my way down.
34. I love Finnish summers, but hate Finnish winters, except for Christmas, which I enjoy over there almost more than I do here with all their parties, songs, and great FOOD, like riisi purro. Mmm, Mm.
35. I don’t have one favorite color, but I tend to gravitate toward deep greens and reds.
36. I took horseback riding lessons in Finland, European-style, complete with the little black helmet and the switch.
37. I was and am still terrified of horses.
38. Which makes writing historical fiction interesting, since you can’t get away from horses, which pulled all a major modes of transportation and were heavily involved with temple construction and farm work.
39. I still have the helmet and the switch.
40. My claim to fame is that I used to take jazz dance classes from Derryl Yeager, who once performed quite a bit on Broadway. He also played a certain villainous person in a movie LDS people are familiar with, as well as one of the dancers in one of my cult favorites, Girls Just Want to Have Fun. (He’s the one who’s told, “My, you are big.”)
41. I performed at a dance recital when Derryl danced with our entire class (“I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line. He played the auditioner/instructor). I was just behind him and to the right. Yeah, no pressure. I was so nervous I fell out of my double pirouette.
42. But I loved, loved, loved performing “One,” also from A Chorus Line, that same night. It freaking rocked. Even if my black nylons were twisted.
43. I can no longer do any kind of pirouette, split, or leap. Don’t ask.
44. I met my husband on a BYU summer ballroom team.
45. We were cha cha partners, and by the time he asked me out at the end of the summer, we were great friends.
46. Our height difference took some getting used to, because we had spent three months together with me looking four inches taller than I really was because of the Latin heels.
47. I’ve kept those silver Latin shoes all these years.
48. I still feel a little sheepish that I don’t remember the first time I met him. But I do remember my first impression: That he was a great dancer who could really lead, and I worked well with him.
49. We’re still working well together after 13 ½ years of marriage.
50. Knitting is a favorite way of mine to relax and unwind.
51. I took piano lessons for years but began with a pathetic teacher who messed me up (Musical theory? What’s that?), so to this day I can’t play well.
52. I look a lot like my older sister. In fact, our baby pictures are hard to distinguish.
53. She wears her hair short, so I figure I’d probably look fine with a short ‘do, but I’ve never cut my hair shorter than a bob because I’m too scared. Also because I’m too lazy to commit to getting a haircut every four weeks to maintain a short length and having to style it every day.
54. I stop traffic if I take all three of my adorably cute redheaded daughters out at the same time.
55. My parents consist of a Cache Valley farm boy and a metropolitan Helsinki woman. As a result, during their newlywed years, friends called them “Green Acres.”
56. I drive a green 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport.
57. I get cranky if I don’t get enough sleep. I usually get close to 8 hours, but unfortunately, 8 hours isn’t enough for me.
58. I have a dental implant in place of one tooth, because I never grew an adult one in that spot. I managed to hang onto the baby molar for over thirty years, but when it finally bit the dust, the implant was necessary.
59. I prefer reading books from the Victorian Era and pretty much ignored 20th century literature as much as I could and still graduate as an English major.
60. Which may be why I also love writing about the 1800s.
61. I tend to be a bit of an L. M. Montgomery freak.
62. In 9th grade I even started a writing/book club and newspaper that revolved around her.
64. A group of us called ourselves “The Babes,”which quite frankly, was wishful thinking.
65. Except in one case, and they all know who I mean. We all hated it whenever guys would hit on her (we’ll call her the Thunder Goddess, for reasons known amongst ourselves) and completely ignore the rest of us. I mean, we were a HERD of available young women, for Pete’s sake. But she was always singled out. (Okay, fine. She was hot, and the rest of us, uh, weren’t.)
66. I am a cat person and grew up with many felines (among them Muffin, Jumper, Jumper II, Herman, Marvin, Spears, George, and Sable), but I don’t own one right now.
67. I seriously despise dogs. Okay, I also have a dog phobia of sorts, even though I grew up with two of them: a gorgeous and LARGE Golden Retriever who didn’t know his own strength and a fat, grouchy poodle named Taco who snapped at everyone except my older sister if they dared to so much as touch him.
68. I’m the tallest of my sisters by a smidge.
69. But none of us three sisters is taller than Mom.
70. My mother taught me how to sew, but I’ll never be as good at it as she is.
71. Sewing for me is now an annual event when I make my daughters Easter dresses.
72. All of the Babes thought for sure I’d go on a mission. So did I. In reality, all but two of us did, and I was one of those two. (No regrets—look what I got instead!)
73. But in some ways I had a mission experience by being the daughter of a mission president for those three years in Finland. I know all about the commitment pattern and zone conferences, and I know enough to blackmail several missionaries if I so choose. (Funny how they’ll spill stuff to a kid . . .)
74. I love food.
75. My metabolism doesn’t.
76. I have long, blonde eyelashes, so I look very different with and without mascara. (No eyes . . . EYES!)
77. I hate to sweep.
78. But I love a freshly-swept floor.
79. I had a writing course as an English major that was almost enough to make me start hating Shakespeare. We had to write 8 papers of increasing length, all about King Lear, but using different critical theories (Freudian, Feminist, New Historical, Rhetorical, Deconstructionist . . .). I wanted to strangle the teacher by midterm.
80. Fortunately, I managed to escape the class with few scars, and I still love Shakespeare, but you’d have to pay me large sums to read or see King Lear.
81. Because my feet resemble the arctic tundra, I sleep with socks on. Even in July.
82. I finished my bachelor’s degree work in June of 1995, a month and a half before my first child was due and two months before graduation ceremonies in August.
83. I actually graduated when he was two weeks old.
84. Cum laude.
85. I don’t mind doing laundry.
86. I love to take baths in the dark with a candle.
87. I used to budget my little sister’s allowance and then charge a quarter for an “accountant’s fee.”
88. I miss my parents, who are gone for a 3-year church calling. (One year down, two to go.)
89. Sometimes I mentally type what I think and signs that I see.
90. I get depressed easily.
91. When I’m depressed, I tend to overindulge in chocolate. (See #75.)
92. I’m cripplingl shy, which is something I have to battle when speaking to crowds, doing book signings, and simply getting to know my neighbors.
93. I have mild to moderate claustrophobia, which made walking through Hezekiah’s tunnel . . . interesting a year ago. Breathe . . . breathe . . . (Also see #5. Cause or effect on that one? Hmmm.)
94. I didn’t inherit Dad’s green thumb. I have a hard time keeping plants (including gardens) alive, but I grew up with the most amazing garden harvest every summer from Dad’s work.
95. I make a mean brownie. And a mean chocolate chip cookie.
96. According to my brothers-in-law, my homemade rolls are better than their mom’s—and I use her recipe.
97. But I wouldn’t attempt the rolls without my trusty Kitchen Aide.
98. Which I desperately missed during the miserable year we spent in a cramped apartment while waiting for our current house to be built and most of our stuff was in storage because building the thing was supposed to take 4 months instead of the year it actually took.
99. I love my house, so I guess that year was worth it.
100. I especially love the fact that I have my own writing office here!