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Merry Christmas from the Rayhons Family!  God has once again blessed us richly this year, and we pray you and your families have also experienced God's blessings in 2011.  

As many of you may remember, we ended up gutting our basement last fall due to flooding and mold.  Well, the remodeling process has been ongoing this year.  It took us quite a bit of time to decide exactly what we wanted to do, and then we ended up waiting forever to get a new furnace and heat pump installed.  Travis, with some help from friends, redid the plumbing this summer.  We've been blessed to have Travis' uncle Jeff, from Missouri, spend many weeks with us this fall and winter - he has helped put up stud walls, finish the plumbing, do some electrical, just whatever we've needed. Thanks to him, we should finish this project in 2012 - without him, I think it would have been 2013 at least!!! :)

Our kids continue to keep us busy.  Carolyn is in 6th grade, and while the extra homework and responsibility sometimes is a struggle, she still enjoys school and is doing well.  She continues to love music, drama, and art, and really enjoys having an “official” art teacher this year.  She also is now able to do more babysitting for us, and has even taken the responsibility to get her siblings and herself to bed a couple of times.  She loves getting together with her friends, but also really enjoys playing with Nicole and Nathan as well.   This fall, she had an interesting escapade with a rather large bug that flew into her ear.  It was in so far the school nurse couldn’t see it and thought she was overreacting.  At least until it crawled out!!!  

Nicole is in 2nd grade, and growing up quickly.  She also loves music and art, and any chance to create things, whether its a pop-up book, cards, stories, plays, well, the list keeps going!  She has been losing some of her baby teeth, and is very proud to be able to truthfully sing, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!”  She really enjoys playing with Carolyn and Nathan, although sometimes she and Nathan can get pretty wild and crazy!  

Nathan will be 3 in a few weeks.  He is a very, very active, curious, and happy little boy.  He likes to climb, and is especially good at finding whatever “treasures” his sisters have hidden in their room.  He keeps his Mom hopping, and constantly comes up with new mischief!  He still loves trains, cars, tractors, animals, and all sports.   Much to his father’s chagrin, he has no concept that boys shouldn’t like pink, or dolls, or play princess or fairies - however, he certainly puts a spin on those games that his sisters’ never did!  He has recently discovered swords, and turns anything he can into one.  He likes to pretend he’s a pirate and runs around the house singing, “Yo ho ho, arrr, arrr, arrr!”  

Travis is still working at Dordt, though with several of his co-workers moving this spring and summer, the atmosphere and average age of his co-workers has changed quite a bit.  He is still adjusting to all these changes.  This fall, on his annual hunting trip with his dad, brothers, and uncles, he was able to take down three deer one day, and two more another day.  He is pretty proud of that accomplishment.   He has also learned a ton this year about plumbing, electrical, and putting in walls.  Because of his hard work, we have saved so much by not having to hire contractors for everything.

That just leaves me!  I have been able to do a bit of subbing for the music teachers at our Christian school this year, which I really enjoy.  I still teach a few piano lessons, which is also something I love. There were two big events for me this year.  First of all, I trained off and on all spring and summer and was able to complete my first 5K this Thanksgiving with my sister.  While we did not run the entire distance, we did run most of it, which for me is quite an accomplishment!  Secondly, I found myself hospitalized for vertigo at the beginning of October.  Turned out I had a really nasty inner ear infection (different from what kids get) that not only had me flat on my back and unable to move without extreme dizziness and nausea, but also damaged my left inner ear, so that I now have severe to profound hearing loss in that ear.  Thankfully, my right ear is fine, and in most situations I can hear just the same as before.  I’m especially thankful that I can still teach and participate in music!  It has been an adjustment, especially in places that are noisy - that is where I really notice a difference, and can’t understand what people say to me very easily.  

We are looking forward to 2012 - especially to finishing our basement!  We pray that our heavenly Father grant each of you a healthy, happy, and prosperous year, and we look forward to hearing from you in this holiday season.  If those of you who are far away from us find yourselves anywhere near Sioux Center, please stop in!   We’d love to see you!!!  

With love,

The Rayhons - Travis, Alecia, Carolyn, Nicole, and Nathan