Merry Christmas 2018

Another year done, and another one about to begin.

This is my virtual Christmas letter from my family to you/yours! Thank you so much for following along on this journey of mine, and I hope you’ll stick around for what’s to come in 2019 because I think it’s going to be a good one!

Greetings from the Baxters in dark, icy, and snowy Alaska. The snow held off for a while, but then it snowed every day for a week, so now the skiers are finally happy (me, not so much since it puts a damper on my running). On our shortest day (December 21st), the sun rose at 10:13 a.m. and set at 3:42 p.m. for a total of 5.5 hours of “daylight,” which is mostly pretty dusky and gray as the sun barely gets above the horizon.

It’s been quite the year, and there’s a lot that’s happened in our neck of the woods, so here’s a brief recap.

Our first trip of the year was a family vacation to Maui at the beginning of March. The last time we went was when I was pregnant with Cullen, so we were due for a trip. We met my sister (Kristy) and brother-in-law (Nick) there, and had a blast soaking up the sun, eating all the amazing food, exploring the island, whale watching, and snorkeling.

Craig and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in June, so we left Cullen with the grandparents for a few nights and flew to Seattle for a get-away. We did all the things you can’t do when you have a child: stay up until 2:00 a.m., sleep in, both exercise at the same time, and go on a long hike.

This summer was filled with several races for me, but I was injured during the spring and early summer, so I didn’t set any PRs (personal records), but I did manage to place 2nd at the Hightail Quarter Marathon and 2nd at the Skinny Raven Half Marathon. In August, I found out I was able to run the New York City Marathon in November, so I ramped up my training for that and ran it in 3:05 (7:06 minutes/mile) for the 26.2 mile race. I was 23rd in my age group and was one of the top 100 US women for the race. (50,000 people from around the world run it.) It was an amazing experience and would love to do it again.

Cullen and I flew to New York a week before the race, stayed with friends, and then spent the following week in New York City exploring and taking in all the sights and sounds of NYC. If you missed it, I posted about all the details on the race and how I got lost in NYC for 6 hours by myself with no phone and no money.

During the fall, Craig went on a 3-week hunting trip for moose and bear. His party of 4 guys rafted over 100 miles and did manage to shoot a moose, so they were pretty excited about that. During this time, Cullen and I went to Minnesota to see Michelle’s new niece, Kaylie-Kristy and Nick’s daughter born July 17 (11 days late).

At the end of October we celebrated Cullen’s 4th birthday party with a construction-themed party and all of his friends at our house. Every gift was PAW Patrol-related as that has been his obsession this year.

The other big excitement that happened recently was a 7.0 earthquake that shook the Anchorage area on Friday, November 30th at 8:29 a.m. It caused a lot of damage with roads collapsing, schools being shut down for a week, houses catching on fire, and a lot of personal belongings falling down and breaking. We escaped with very little damage. Cullen and I were in the kitchen when it happened, and Craig was at work. Since the first earthquake, we have felt about 60 aftershocks, and they are just as horrible as the first. Although our dog, Sadie, may have had the most anxiety about the whole situation.

Craig has been with the State of Alaska for 9 years, and is currently a manager. He stays busy with all hunting-related things, being a D&D Dungeon Master for his friends, converting people to the fanny pack lifestyle, teaching Cullen to build fires, and running an occasional race with me.

I work at the local running store (Skinny Raven Sports) on the weekends and coach training groups during the week. I also coach athletes online, blog, and stays home with Cullen.

Cullen started preschool this fall. He goes twice a week for a few hours and loves playing with the other kids. He also loves going for walks, reading, helping me in the kitchen, and playing Pirate Ship with Craig.

All the blessings to you and your family this holiday and Christmas season. We will be celebrating Jesus’ birth tonight with my in-laws, having dinner, opening gifts, and going to two church services. Christmas day Craig, Cullen, and I will open more gifts at our house, go for a run, and then have dinner with my in-laws again.

Merry Christmas Eve!

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