"He's like a bad brother," the actress writes of her partner. "He loves to make me blush"

By Melissa Gilbert
Updated March 19, 2012 10:45 AM
Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC

As a former child star, Melissa Gilbert won hearts playing Laura Ingalls Wilder on Little House on the Prairie. Since then, she’s been a Hollywood multi-tasker, earning credits for acting, writing, producing and directing. She was even the president of the Screen Actors Guild. Now, she’s taking on the ballroom on season 14 of Dancing with the Stars – and blogging about it each week on PEOPLE.com. In her first post, she writes about her bad boy partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

First of all, even though it’s only been three weeks since the news broke that I’m going to be on Dancing with the Stars, it already feels like it’s been a year since I opened the door and met my mystery date, Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

My lord, was I ever nervous! It was like a blind date, prom and opening night all rolled into one.

Secretly – or not so secretly – I’d been hoping the producers would pair me up with Maks. Why, you ask? He’s tough, you say? He’s mean; he makes his partners cry … Why, indeed! I wished for Maks because I knew deep down that he would push me – body, mind and soul – to places I’ve never been.

Some say, be careful what you wish for. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, and I can happily and proudly say I was right.

Maks is an extraordinary teacher. He’s a magnificent dancer. He’s a strong and powerful partner and he’s proving to be an incredible friend.

Our relationship is … well, just weird. Sometimes, we are absolute equals. Most of the time, he leads (which frustrates the hell out of me, as I am a total type-A personality). Sometimes, I counsel and caution. All of the time, we laugh … a lot. He’s like a bad brother. He loves to make me blush. Watch the show, you’ll see me turn purple. Literally, the same color as the wall!

Maks is helping me to tap into a part of myself that no one really knows. Not publicly, anyway. He’s bringing out in me the sexy, confident, fiery redheaded cougar. Crazy, right? Halfpint a cougar? Really?!

Oh, yeah! I think we all have that cougar in us. Ladies my age, you know what I’m talking about. We’ve reached the point where we are in full command of our bodies and minds. We know what we want, and we have the years behind us to know exactly how to get it. Meow!

I’m going into our first week on the air in full-tilt cougar mode. Even the costume is dangerously hot. I have to bring it. I have to step up.

So Maks, if you’re reading this, it’s time for you to strap on your seatbelt, because here I come!

More next week, my friends. Now, I nap.