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HAVE A GREAT CHRISTMAS - 2011

Another year has passed well for us and we hope yours has too. Although we want to wish you a Merry Christmas, we also want to tell you what has been going on in our lives. We enjoy receiving your greetings and reading about everyones children, vacations and activities. We hope you will enjoy our news. The Lord continues to bless, protect and guide us and for Him we are truly grateful. Keiths big change this year was in employment. In September, he started working full-time for the Illinois Tollway, stationed out of DeKalb about 45 minutes from our house. The big, blue Kenworth and trailer sold right away. It was kind of sad to see her go but the steady employment and benefits help the memory fade. Keith does similar work to what he did in the winter for the Illinois State Highway Dept. which includes closing lanes for repair, picking up road kill, working on the roads, plowing snow, and helping motorists. Because of his uniforms, I now have an entire load of florescent laundry. He sold his powered-parachute only to buy one with a larger engine so he can take a friend, even a large friend. Linda spends her days home schooling our four children and driving them to various activities. The kids do a great job with their studies and growing in responsibility. Heather is in 9th grade (freshman), Kelly is in 7th grade and both Olivia and Alek are in grade 4. It certainly is a challenge to juggle everything but we have some great times. This fall we started to go every Friday afternoon to a co-op to take some classes. The motivation for this was so Heather could take Biology with labs, microscopes and dissections. It works in a way similar to college in which the students have assignments all week to work independently and then checks in once a week for class, tests, and experiments. Kelly, Olivia and Alek take lighter classes from P.E. to Home Economics and Art. Home schooling and church have brought a unique unity to our family, strong relationships, great discussions and a sense of well-being. Heather turned 14 years old earlier this year and began her high school years this fall. She is turning into a young lady. She is active at church especially with helping in the nursery. She had the opportunity to teach a bit with Summer Bible Clubs and did a great job relating to the kids. Summer girls softball was a fun and different sport for her. All of our children are part of the county 4-H program to learn leadership and life skills. Heather enjoyed designing some artwork, showing her dog Ranger, refinishing a chair, giving a speech in public speaking and creating a display for her Intercultural Project on Zambia. Her chair was selected for Illinois State Fair as well as Kellys model rocket so our family took in the State Fair for a day in August. Heather spends most of her free time writing fictional stories, most based on C.S. Lewiss Narnia series and designing costumes and illustrations. Kelly is 12 years old and wildly creative. She takes every art class that she can, often coming up with some great results. Her major projects in 4-H are visual arts, model rocketry and dogs. The girls dogs are 3 years old and have settled down so they do very well in the couple of shows we take them to. Kelly and Olivia both won artists awards in a student art show. All the girls took theatre, art and swimming classes over the summer. Kelly and Heather were both baptized this year at our churchs

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annual family camp. Kelly and Heather saved up to buy a camera and have begun making stop-motion animation films, videos of friends, power point shows and practicing cool photography shots. What a reward to see what they come up with! I, Linda, took this photo of Kelly at Oregon Park West and entered it in their photo contest. We were so excited that it won and will be seen in the next park district brochure. Olivia, now 10 years old, spends her time writing stories, reading health books from the library, playing business people, church people and fighting people like knights or Star Wars characters. Doctors and diseases fascinate her. Some library titles she has checked out include; Pink Eye, Warts and Chicken Pox. Naturally, her 4-H projects were visual arts and health. She made a fantastic first-aid kit with emergency cue cards. She wants to be an anesthesiologist. Olivia only had one surgery this year (as opposed to the three she had last year) to continue repair of her cleft palate and to revise and balance her nose. She enjoys older people. Heather played piano a few times at the local nursing home and Olivia always wanted to go along to hold the hymn books or talk to people in wheel chairs. How wonderful to see how God guides and gifts our children. Alek, also 10 years old, has a great imagination for coming up with different characters to portray. He improvises great costumes with things from under his bed. He is probably the only 10 year old boy who wears a cravat and likes using a monocle. We love history, British period films and classic books so he has pretended to be Horatio Hornblower (Napoleonic era British shipman), the Scarlet Pimpernel (French Revolution) (you have to see that movie with Jane Seymour) and Daniel Boone (18th c. American settler). Aleks favorite actor is the deceased Fess Parker and he is the first person he wants to meet in heaven! Ha. His favorite sport is baseball which he enjoyed this summer. In 4-H he took Puppets and Outdoor Ed. Alek loves to read and plows through a book a day if I can provide them that fast. Alek created a new Star Wars character for himself: Alekin Stranwalker, see photo. Now that I read this, I can see that we may have a budding film company complete with writers, camera operators, set and costume designers and actors. Look out Disney.
We hope this finds you well. May the Lord bless and keep you throughout 2012. Love, The Stran Clan Heather and Kelly took these great shots this year and many more.

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