Ok, it's a little embarrassing to admit. Scott and I have been married since 2004, we've got what I'd call a very close and loving relationship, and I consider him my biggest source of emotional support and encouragement when it comes to my novel writing.
But he's never read a single one of my books.
But hold it. Don't form an angry mob quite yet. There's actually a very compelling reason why Scott hasn't picked up any of my novels.
Northern lights. Midnight sun. Dogsled teams, glaciers, and breathtaking mountain views. What's not to love about Alaska?
Actually, quite a bit.
My son should be dead. There is no medical reason to explain why he is alive today, practicing yoga in his room after a long day of homeschool lessons, spelling practice, and running around screaming because he’s a nine-year-old boy and that’s what he likes to do.
What makes a song special? How can you define or quantify that quality of a piece of music that makes it so evocative? For today's Fifteen Factoids post, I'm sharing a few of the songs that make me melt into a puddle of nostalgia for one reason or another. You'll probably find my musical tastes are a little more eclectic than you might have expected.
If you follow me on Facebook, you probably know that our family has recently jumped into the world of chicken raising. I've been a city girl most of my life, so this is definitely a new experience for us, and one I never would have expected to love so much.
Right now, our flock is sitting pretty with twenty hens and one rooster. I'm certainly no expert, but I've learned a few things about chickens since we went rural over the summer. For example, did you know:
1) Chickens make great composters. I can throw almost all of our scraps into the pile in their run, and by spring I'm told we'll have fabulous compost. The best news is the girls do almost all the work.
2) Chickens love meat. They're insectivores, which means they keep the mosquito levels low around our place. They also go crazy for liver. Go figure.
3) Chickens have lots of predators. My first butchering experience came from having to put down a little chicken who was attacked by a hawk or some other critter. Not an experience I hope to repeat.
4) Chickens are more entertaining than the television. I can't even guess how many hours I've spent in the coop just watching them do their thing.
5) Broody chickens are hilarious. When a chicken goes broody, that means her hormones have kicked in and she only wants to sit on her eggs. Well, if she can't find eggs to sit on, sometimes a smaller chicken will do the trick.
6) Chickens are loud sleepers. When I go into our coop right as the girls are getting ready for bed, the sound reminds me of when I was a summer camp counselor with lots of giggle, whispering, and bickering for space.
7) Chickens can sneeze. Cutest thing I've heard in a long time.
8) They can also hiccup. Now that's funny.
9) Chickens look creepy when they molt. See what I mean?
10) Chickens need gravel. Weird, isn't it? Our flock goes through about half a cup of gravel a week. They swallow the stones and keep them in their gizzard to act as teeth equivalent.
11) Egg shells are another healthy treat. Yes, it did seem a little strange at first, but we sprinkle broken eggshells for them every few days. It's supposed to help keep their calcium levels high so their own eggs are nice and firm.
12) It's ok to eat your pets. I wasn't sure how I'd do with this particular aspect. So far, so good.
13) Chickens aren't necessarily warm and welcoming to newcomers, as our new addition Hawk learned after joining the flock.
14) There's truth behind the colloquialism "running like a chicken with its head cut off." Enough said.
15) Chickens are the gateway drug of farm animals. This woman does a great job explaining the phenomenon.
Friday night was our eleventh anniversary, so went out for some great sushi and had a fabulous night out. The anniversary got me thinking about all the things I love about my husband. Here are the first fifteen that come to mind.
1) His sense of humor. Growing up, I never had a long list of demands for my husband-to-be, but I knew he had to be someone who would make me laugh.
2) His love for God. The only other criterion on my dating-days list was that my future husband would love the Lord, and Scott fits that bill perfectly.
3) He's a great dad. Actually, when I was single, I didn't think a whole lot about parenthood or raising kids, but I am so thankful my husband loves our boys and is so kind, patient, and playful.
4) Heart for ministry. My husband and I actually met because of our mutual desire to serve as cross-cultural missionaries in Siberia. We never made it to the field, but Scott's passion to serve God is still strong and inspiring.
5) Great cook. If you've read my author bio on amazon, you'll know I'm not that skilled in the kitchen. Thankfully, Scott is, and once or twice a week he makes us all a meal worthy of any local restaurant.
6) Hard working. I know there are days when he doesn't feel like getting up and going to work, but he does. I probably don't thank him enough, but it means the world to me that Scott provides so the boys and I can be together and have everything we need (and then some).
7) Goofy. Sometimes he just bursts into spontaneous song, making up lyrics to make us all laugh. Life would be so boring without him!
8) Encouraging. I've wanted to be an author basically my entire life, but without Scott's encouragement I may have never found the courage to do what I love to do.
9) Literary. Scott and I really love to discuss the books we're reading, and he's also great when I come across a plot hole in my writing. I can't tell you how many hours of relaxation (and sleep!) he's lost listening to me mull over plot points.
10) Supportive of our homeschooling. I love teaching our boys, and I love that they're able to learn so much together. I'm really thankful for Scott for supporting and encouraging our homeschool efforts.
11) Involved in our homeschooling. Scott will sometimes give the boys topics to study or teach them things about history or politics I don't know as much about. Every week the boys love emailing Dad the reports they've done, and he always has great feedback for them.
12) Romantic. I'll let that speak for itself.
13) Knows me. Even better than I know myself. Scott knows my moods so well he knows when I'm upset usually before I do, and he also understands that I sometimes just need a listening ear to process all my thoughts.
14) Laid-back and accepting. Some dads or husbands can be really heavy-handed or demanding. I love that I never feel stressed to live up to Scott's expectations. He loves us all for who we are.
15) Thoughtful. We can engage in discussions about theology or politics, and even when we disagree, we both come out better for it.
I probably don't brag about him enough, but I hope he knows today how much I love him and cherish the eleven years we've had together.
Here's to at least forty or fifty more!
1) I had a little over three hundred students in my graduating class.
2) My worst grade was in pre-calculus.
3) I was on the pom-pon squad, which was more like dance and less like cheer-leading even though the uniforms were similar.
4) I was way too serious in high school. My biggest regret is that I didn’t enjoy the time I had.
5) I lived in Michigan at the time and had to stand at the bus stop some days at negative thirty.
6) I dissected a fetal pig as well as a cat.
7) During my senior year of high school, I worked as a co-op at a hospital histology lab. I assisted with three autopsies there along with several other gross and disgusting things I absolutely loved at the time.
8) I never had a boyfriend, and the only “date” I went on was when my best-friend’s ex-boyfriend took me out to breakfast to ask how I thought he could get her back.
9) I played violin in the orchestra. One of my favorite memories was going to the state festival each March and stopping at McDonald’s on the way back for Shamrock milkshakes.
10) I did some summer music theater, but I regret that I never tried out for any of the drama club plays.
11) My favorite teacher was my eleventh grade chemistry teacher. I went on to take his advanced biology class my senior year.
12) I was president of the Spanish club for a year.
13) I never went to prom, but one year several of my friends’ dads got together and served all of us girls a huge fancy meal. We went out afterward to a school playground and went swinging in our dresses and skirts.
14) There was a cross-country trail right behind our school where my best friend and I would walk during lunch.
15) My graduating class voted me “most likely to make a difference.”
It's time for another edition of Fifteen Factoids, a collection of random things you never knew about me! Today we're talking about literature, starting with:
1) My favorite kids' book as a toddler was "Good Night Moon," which freaks me out when I read it now.
2) I learned to read at an early age but wasn't what most people would have called a bookworm.
3) In first grade, we went to the school library every week. I was too scared to try something new, so I checked out "Jumanji" each and every time.
4) "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle" was the first chapter book I re-read for fun. It was also the first book I read that had swearing.
5) My two favorite American literature books from high school were "The Scarlet Letter" and "To Kill a Mockingbird."
6) I also read "The Great Gatsby" but didn't understand a word of it. All I remember is that there was someone named Daisy, and there was a car wreck at one point.
7) I read "Crime and Punishment" as a senior in high school, which started my love affair with Russian lit.
8) My favorite Russian novel is "Anna Karenina." My favorite Russian play is "A Month in the Country."
9) In college, I paid a hundred dollars for a hundred-year-old collection of novellas and short stories by Turgenev (another Russian dude).
10) The two books that have made me fuming mad are "Little Women" (Laurie should have married Jo) and "Les Miserables" (Cosette was a spoiled brat).
11) The first picture book I read to my oldest son is "Guess How Much I Love You." Yes, it made me cry.
12) My favorite books to re-enjoy with my family are "Frog and Toad" and "The Chronicles of Narnia."
13) Two novels have made me cry, "Safely Home" by Randy Alcorn and a historical fiction by Bodie Theone.
14) I read "A Christmas Carol" to my boys every year.
15) I started re-reading "Grapes of Wrath" a few months ago, but I started giving all the characters in my WIP hick accents so I had to stop.
There's a lot you can learn about an author by reading his or her books. But that doesn't necessarily give you the ridiculously-exposed, now-I-know-your-deepest-and-darkest-secrets scoop about what she likes for breakfast, who he dated in college, or how far back his memories from childhood go.
I try to be open and honest, which is why with each of my novels I've released the Bonus Materials that include some behind-the-scenes snippets into my life. But even then, I've realized there's tons about me you still don't know.
Thus, I am pleased to introduce a new feature on this blog: Fifteen Factoids, in which I promise to tell you fifteen little snippets I guarantee you don't know about me (unless you're my husband, my grandma, or a stalker I don't yet know about).
For the very first Fifteen Factoid installment, I'm offering up free of charge fifteen things you didn't know about my childhood. Starting with:
1) I grew up in the California Bay Area with my older brother, my dad, and my mom (who passed away when I was three).
2) I skipped second grade. So did my brother.
3) I was a competitive baton twirler. My team of five won the state championships one year. I also did gymnastics on and off.
4) We were big baseball fans. My dad and brother were at the A's vs. Giants World Series game the night before the big San Fransisco earthquake.
5) The only animal I was ever scared of were bats. They carried rabies and infested the mines near our home.
6) My favorite field trips in elementary school were seeing the Nutcracker in San Fransisco and going on an overnight trip with my dad to Monterrey.
7) I cried the first time I got an S (for satisfactory) instead of an E (for excellent) on my report card. Over-achiever, much?
8) When I was in third grade, I had to wear a patch over one half of my glasses for about a year in an attempt to cure lazy eye.
9) In fourth grade I started violin, which I continued on through college.
10) I wanted to be an author when I grew up.
11) When I was eight, my dad married my brother's first-grade teacher.
12) I didn't learn until sixth grade that February is officially considered a winter month.
13) I have lots of cousins, and we got together often.
14) The church we went to didn't have a baptismal, so we held baptism services in someone's backyard swimming pool.
15) I was very sheltered. No Smurfs, Scooby Doo, or Care Bears.
Now it's your turn. What's something interesting most people don't know about your childhood?