Skiing Pics

Here’s the proof that I’ve tried cross country skiing. I say tried, because I don’t feel successful at it yet – I need lots more practice. And here are a few things I have discovered through my ski attempts:

1. I must carry kleenex with me at all times, and have it within easy reach. Because as soon as I’m in motion and cold air hits my face, my nose starts running. Very annoying.

2. The balance segments of my exercise classes at the gym do not help me to balance myself when skiing, apparently. Actually I’m OK while in motion. It’s when I stop that I lose my balance and fall over.

3. My new ski pants are warm and windproof, but unfortunately not waterproof. Which is something I discovered during the many times I felt the snow under my backside.

4. An hour or so of skiing is one of the best workouts I can have. When I skied last week, I was so exhausted that night that I went to bed at 8:00.

5. It is possible to wear too many layers. It’s tricky figuring out what to wear in this climate. It all depends on what you’ll be doing that day, if you’ll be outdoors or not, and if you’re outdoors, how long you’ll be out there. In 25-degree weather, when skiing, only one layer is necessary. I wore two layers under my jacket and was sweating bullets.

6. I am not an outdoorsy person in the least. In fact, one of the things I love about living in Alaska is curling up with a blanket, a cup of hot tea and a book, in the warm comfort of my home. And looking at the beautiful snow through the window. But I love to ski, and with all of the snow we (usually) have, and with a few friends who can go with me, I’ve no excuse not to take advantage of the opportunity to ski. Plus, it’s free if you have your own skis.

7. I’m determined to improve my skills – to actually ski for an hour without falling – and to enjoy the new friendships that I’m forming with my fellow beginner skiers. Bruises notwithstanding.

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Part of the scenery where I skiied last week. This is about a ten-minute drive from my house.

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One of the times I was upright on my skis

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First Cross Country Ski Outing

A few days after my last post, we returned to “normal” Alaska weather and it snowed several inches. Truly, if there isn’t snow in Alaska, there’s not much point to winter.

I have been dying to get out there and try cross country skiing with the non-threatening group of women I know who ski (I’m not brave enough to go with the hard-core ski group), and Friday was my chance. A few of the women in my Bible study group had expressed an interest in skiing with this group that welcomes beginners, myself included. We just had to wait for the snow to return.

So Friday morning I donned my long underwear, two pairs of thick wool socks, my new ski pants guaranteed to be windproof and warm in temperatures from zero to forty, a pullover with a turtleneck, my jacket with the zip out liner (with the liner zipped in) my warmest mittens, and declared myself ready to ski. Even though it was twelve degrees.

My two new friends and I carpooled to the ski area where we were to meet. Anchorage has several cross country ski trails that are nicely groomed. This wasn’t one of them, but we braved it anyway.

One of the women took a few pictures and I’m waiting for her to email them to me so I can post actual proof that I did in fact go skiing. And in case you were wondering, I only fell once. And had sore quad muscles the next day. So no injuries, which is always a plus.

I had a great time and immediately made plans to ski again this week. Tomorrow, in fact. I can hardly wait.

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A Few Favorite Gifts

This weather has been most unusual. Today it is 43 degrees, and the kids’ school was canceled due to icy roads. When the temperatures warm up like this, the snow melts, it gets down to freezing again during the night and ta da! We have ice everywhere. We’ve had so much unusually warm weather this month that nearly all the snow has melted. So, I have been able to use my skis a grand total of once this winter. Our yard looks like springtime, in April or May, with only patches of snow. It’s bizarre.

On a completely different note, here are a few pictures of some of my favorite Christmas gifts. This one is a picture of a world map that Mark ordered, complete with a plaque that says, “Cooper Family World Travels” and tiny magnets that you place on the areas of the world that you have visited. I love it that my husband thinks of getting things like this. I’m so practical that it would never occur to me.

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Here’s a closeup of part of the map, to give you a better idea of what it looks like. I apologize for the glare in these pictures, I really need to work on my photography.

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Another favorite gift I received is this skirt. I specifically asked for this, and it has quickly become an essential part of my wardrobe.

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I had never seen such a skirt before moving to Alaska, but I’ve seen many women wearing them in the winter and I’d heard they were warm and comfortable, which are basically the only two things I look for in winter clothing. You slip it on over whatever you are wearing (leggings, jeans, sweat pants, etc). Then you pull on boots and your whole bottom half is warm. I love, love, love it. It’s great for mornings when I drive the kids to school – I just pull it on over my pajama pants, put on a jacket and boots, and I’m good to go. Finally an acceptable way to wear pajama pants in public.

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Christmas, Cooper Family Style

OK, here’s the post I was working on yesterday, in its entirety.

We were sad to be so far away from extended family at this time of year, but it sure was fun to open the packages they mailed to us. Most of them even arrived before Christmas, and only one arrived the day after. Which was still a very nice surprise.

It was also great talking to various family members on the phone on Christmas day – I used my retro handset the girls got me for my cell phone, so I can put the phone on my shoulder and talk like we used to “back in the day”. Yes, I asked for this gift.

Here’s our tree – before the gift unwrapping commenced. We wrap everything – new socks, boxes of cookies or candy, used DVDs I picked up dirt cheap, gag gifts, everything. It’s so much fun to see the surprised faces.

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I asked the kids to pose in front of the tree. I took several pictures, Kyle made a silly face in all of them. Sigh…

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Now, a few highlights of gifts given and received. Kyle gave us each a small gift he brought back from Guatemala. This is a pashmina he gave Kate. He gave me some colorful fabric, Sarah got handmade bracelets, and he gave Mark a pocketknife. And he brought back a machete (yes, a machete) for himself.

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Kyle and Mark eat cereal nine out of ten mornings. Must be a guy thing. Anyway, Kyle always fills his bowl to overflowing, adds milk, and cereal spills out. Every time. So Kate got him a new cereal bowl.

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We bought Sarah the Complete Calvin and Hobbes collection, wrapped it up and put it under the tree without a name tag (Mark’s idea). It was HEAVY – probably 50 pounds at least. So the excitement was high over who was going to receive the heaviest present. She was thrilled. She’s also wearing a head wrap that I got her for Christmas.

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Everyone got new pajamas – Mark even bought me a solid red onesie. No, I’m not going to post a picture of myself in it, thank you very much. I bought him some Christmas boxers instead of PJs.

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Here’s a picture with me in it, just to prove that I was there. With no makeup, and hair that needs washing. Incidentally, this is not the new hairstyle I referred to in a previous post. This is what it looks like two days after a good hair day.

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Before Christmas Mark told me that what he really wanted for his gift was for our whole family to go snow machining. In the Lower 48, or Outside (another way of referring to non-Alaskans), these are called snowmobiles, but that is not what they’re called here. So he arranged for us to take a snow machine tour on December 26.

We were blessed with perfect weather – it was an amazing 36 degrees. (Unlike the unfortunate day we went for our first family ski outing and it was -8). So we drove to nearby Girdwood and rode our snow machines. It was a blast.

Here we are decked out in our gear

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We drove single file, with other members of our group. We were led by two experienced guides who blazed the trails ahead of us, thereby making it very easy driving for us.

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Here’s Mark and Kate

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Sarah and I rode together

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Kyle was thrilled to be able to drive his own machine

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Some of the scenery we saw while riding

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We stopped for lunch and to warm up with hot Russian tea. Our guides made a nice fire and prepared reindeer sausage hotdogs for lunch, with candy bars for dessert. And that wrapped up our Christmas celebration.

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Oops

So, in my newfound blogging inspiration, I accidentally published a post that I was still working on. The Christmas one. Sorry about that. The actual post will be coming soon.

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My Thoughts on Blogging

I’ve given it some thought, and I don’t think I’ll throw in the towel on blogging just yet. Thanks to those of you who offered kind words to encourage me to keep posting. Sometimes I fall into the comparison trap – my blog isn’t as interesting or funny as so-and-so’s, my blog lacks focus, my pictures aren’t very good, I don’t post often enough, nobody is that interested in my posts anyway, and on and on.

But here’s what I’ve decided. I enjoy blogging. I’m not a professional writer or photographer, by a long shot. But I do enjoy it, and a few people apparently enjoy reading what I post. I want to give blogging more of my time, because I find that the more often I post, the more enjoyable it is to me. Now I will never be one to post daily, because then, for me, it would become a chore, something I have to dredge up the energy to do. And then I wouldn’t enjoy it anymore. But I’ve realized that I also need to post more often than every few weeks, because if I don’t, then that becomes a chore – something I have to do, another thing to add to my list to catch up on.

I ¬†also realized that I enjoyed blogging more when I lived in Angola. Why was that? For starters, I had a full-time maid. So I obviously had more time to spend on my blog. And the experience was so unusual and mind-blowing that the posts practically wrote themselves most of the time. But I also posted regularly – every week, sometimes twice a week, so I didn’t let weeks pass and then try to remember what it was that I wanted to write about. There are so many things I have yet to write about our Alaska experience, I need to just do it.

So my new year’s resolution for my blog will be to post more often – once a week is my goal. Maybe even twice a week sometimes. You never know.

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A Post – No, Not Really

The kids go back to school on Monday, so I will try to do some blogging catch up then, unless by some miracle I get a chance to post in the next few days. Not very likely, but that’s OK.

I’ve been doing some thinking about my blog lately anyway, with the new year and all. I really don’t know if I will continue blogging. I like to do something well or not do it at all, and I’ve been floundering with this blog for a long time – only posting every few weeks or so, and then not posting much that is substantial. So I either need to dedicate more time and effort to blogging, and post more regularly, or just stop. I’m going to give it some more thought and will post what I decide to do. Many thanks to those of you who have continued to read my infrequent posts.

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