Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recent Griffin and Grayson Quotes/Words

"Mom, today is a great day for catching rain on your tongue."

After going for a run, I was trying to locate pants to change into. I asked Griffin if he knew where they were. His response, "Mom, you are responsible for your own pants."

Griffin received an Iron Man figurine for Christmas. After it was out of the packaging, I asked him to pose for a picture. Rather than smile he responded, "I'm already situated here."

"Mom, I love you more than I can imagine." His version of when I say, "Griffin, I love you more than you could ever imagine."

Grayson has also expanded his vocabulary. We often hear:

Thank You
Uz--Buz Light Year
hug (he asks for this right after he has been reprimanded...quite clever already)
money (when he sees coins)
bean (when he plays with Griffin's mighty beans)
man---Iron Man

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Letter

I send out Christmas cards each year, but I have never included a letter. I figure those who know me and want to know about my life can visit here. So, here is a Christmas letter of sortsJ

2010 has been a whirlwind year. As I type, Grayson is turning 21 months old. Wasn't it just yesterday we celebrated his 1st Birthday? It amazes me how much children change in one year. In January, Grayson was beginning to take steps, and his bout with ear infections had just begun. Today, he never stops running or moving, his tubes are in place making a world of difference for his health, and his speech has improved immensely. Just the other day, he said "Love You" to me for the first time. While eating continues to be a struggle, he no longer seems to be in pain from his acid reflux. Our little man, our forever baby, continues to be tiny for his age, but that is just fine by me!

Griffin, our four-year-old firstborn, continues to amaze us with his quick wit and inquisitive nature. At the moment, he is rarely content with the first answer he is given to any question. Follow-up questions are guaranteed! Griffin continues to love swimming, and it is a joy to see him improve upon his skills. Lately, he has really taken to the sport of basketball. He is signed up for a parent/child basketball league this spring, and both Brandon and I are really looking forward to growing and learning with him! I am still in shock that next year he will be in Kindergarten. It is hard to accept that both boys are growing so fast. Sometimes, I am afraid to even blink for fear I might miss something! And as always, both boys continue to capture my heart with their love for reading.

Brandon is still working hard at his public accounting firm. Tax season is stressful for all of us, but I am so proud of how Brandon handles the busy season. He is still able to lead his family the way God created him to lead. He also started playing tennis again this year, and I know he is looking forward to one day playing with the boys.

In April, I began taking classes to obtain my PHD from Bethel University. While the classes are extremely challenging and time consuming, I am loving every minute of it. I am still a Reading Specialist for 7th and 8th grade students, and I truly love what I do. While leaving the kids at Gail's house each day can be heart-wrenching, I believe that I am right where I am supposed to be.

The MN Dunigans were gifted a trip to the Wisconsin Dells this summer. So much fun was had by all, and many memories were created. Both boys are fish and just love being in the water. Brandon and I were also able to have a few one-night local vacations just the two of us. Being able to recharge was perfect; we were thankful for our family babysitters who helped make these mini-getaways possible.

Brandon and I continue to be so very thankful for the friends we have in our lives. Being so far away from most of our family can be tough, but true friends have really made it possible for us to survive so far away. We are truly blessed with a close circle of friends who help us grow in our faith, keep our family strong, and celebrate our ups and downs with us as we pave our way through the journey of parenthood and marriage. These wonderful people make it easy for us to remember how faithful God really is.

Because the hustle and bustle of the holidays can distract us from the true meaning of Christmas, I pray that everyone can take some time to remember and celebrate Christ's birth. In a world of uncertainity and weariness, He is the reason my family has hope for the future and love in our hearts. Merry Christmas to all of you!

With love~Brandon, Sandra, Griffin, and Grayson

To give credit where credit is due, the production of this letter was inspired by Tina.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grayson Update

My little man is GROWING! Today, he reached the 10th percentile for weight and the 40th percentile for height!!!

We were also given permission to try weaning him down to one dose a day of Prevacid rather than two. If that goes well, we will stop mixing formula with his whole milk.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

My heart has turned to mush...

Last night, and then again this morning, Grayson said, "Love You" for the very first and second time.

He could ask for anything right now, and he would probably get it:)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Pondering the purpose of many things lately has me pondering the purpose of this blog. Why do I keep it? What do I want it to accomplish? While the topics of my posts can be funny, silly, sad, informative, and/or controversial, my purpose remains the same from when I first started this blog. I want my boys, when they turn 18, to be presented with a book of their life. Many companies can turn blogs into books, and that is what I plan on doing when my kiddos leave after high school. I plan to present each boy with a book that chronicles their life through this blog. While I also write to get my feelings on paper and to keep my family informed since they live so far away, my main purpose is for Griffin and Grayson.

With that being said, there is a reason why the majority of my posts are positive in nature. While I don't lie or hide the truth of what happens in my family, I purposely try to display the positive aspects of our life. Yes, there are negative things that happen in our life that I write about, but I try to wait until I have a firm grip emotionally on the subject before I write. (Or, I just don't hit publish. I do have quite a few posts that will never be put on this blog.)

Some write blogs to entertain. Some have a way with words that leave me hungry for more or peeing my pants from laughter. For me, I write my blog to show my family, specifically the four of us, that although we are not perfect, we are perfect for each other. God created the MN Dunigans to be perfect matches. That does not mean we are perfect or that I, the mom, have it all together. I think it is easy to read this blog and think our life must be peachy-keen all the time. Or that we think our life is better than others. But, let's be real. My family and close friends can tell you that I can yell more than necessary, my house is often dirtier than it should be, I often plan our days to be too full for our own good, I can be a horrible friend when I get stressed, my kids can be naughty, I make plenty of mistakes, and too often my husband takes the blame for my shortcomings. But I talk about those things out loud. I don't need to write about them. Instead, I want my family to know that in good times and bad times, we are still perfect for each other. When my boys reflect on their childhood, I want them to remember the good times. I want them to remember the love that filled our home. I want them to remember the activities. I want them to be reminded of childhood zeal. I want them to remember Jesus' teachings. I want them to remember laughter. And if they have to remember bad times, I want them to remember that love, true love that stems from the Father, really does conquer all.

So I write.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

With Love Chartreuse Christmas 5x7 folded card
Shop for elegant Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Creating our family Christmas Card is never an easy task. First, I have an incredibly dfficult time picking out pictures to use. I hate most pictures of myself, so for two years in a row, I wasn't even on our Christmas card! It's hard to put yourself on card when you feel like

thisafter giving birth to babies.

To solve the issue of me looking like a whale in virtually every picture I have of myself from 2006-2009, I just created a collage of pictures of my adorable sons. Let's be honest, though. I am sure most people would rather see pictures of my kiddos anyway! And even though I loved the pictures of my boys, I still had to pester my sister to help me pick a card. I drafted three different ones one year and couldn't choose. Decision making...not my thing.

Thankfully, this year I actually own a family picture that I like due to the incredibly talented Jennifer Johansen. I also have a million other pictures of my boys (including Brandon) that I love thanks to Jennifer. Not only do these pictures adorn my upstairs wall, but they also take up space in a folder labeled "Christmas Card Pictures." So, my dilemna do I pick a picture to use?
I know I could just use this one

But where is the fun in that?
That's where Shutterfly comes into play. They have so many adorable layouts that allow me to pick MULTIPLE pictures for a card. I don't have to choose just one photo; I can choose a handful. First problem solved.

Second problem comes into play. What card do I choose from Shutterfly?

There's this one...

But I also love the writing and the brown on this one...

And let me tell you, there are hundreds more to choose from! So which one did I choose? I guess you will have to wait until Christmas rolls around to find out! But let me tell's worth the wait!

(I have purchased multiple Christmas Cards from Shutterfly, but I have also created photo books like this one using the site. Uploading photos is simple, and photo books make wonderful gifts. Last year we also used these options while creating an invitation for our sons' dedication. While Shutterfly is sponsoring this post by providing me with free cards to send out this season, the opinions are entirely my own. Shutterfly is my family's website of choice for creating photo gifts and cards.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teaching Gratitude

How do you teach someone to be thankful? Is it possible? What actions need to happen? How consistent do you need to be?

I struggle with these thoughts today because of something that took place at my school. Currently, a fellow co-worker and I are heading up a drive to raise funds for Sponsor a Family. We've sponsored four families as an entire grade (over 400 students). We want our students to bring in around $1500 dollars so that we can provide families with coats, socks, gift certificates for food, and a few gifts for their kids this holiday season. We are at day two of the fundraiser, and our kids have only brought in $30. It irks me that they don't bring in donations.

How do I make sure my two boys don't do the same when they are 13? Sometimes I feel like I fail. Griffin is always asking to visit the Toy section of any store despite the fact that he has more toys than he could ever need. On the other hand, after hearing me prepare for this fundraiser, he told me he finally has enough money in his piggy bank to buy gifts for kids who don't have any. We also require him to donate 10% of whatever cash or allowance he receives for his piggy bank to church. How do I keep his generous spirit alive? What can I start with Grayson? I want my kids to be thankful. Any suggestions?

Master Chef

Walk A Mile in My Shoes

Tree Hugger

Mischief Maker

Water Cutie!

Cutest Vampire Ever

October 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's hard not to smile...

when I am surrounded by these wonderful people!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Words Are Confusing

Griffin suffers from eczema, and it can get pretty bad in the winter. Just the other day, his skin broke out really bad, and patches of his skin began to bleed.

Griffin was frustrated, so he asked Brandon, "Why does my skin do this, Dad?"

Brandon responded, "Your skin just gets irritated easily."

Griffin replied, "Earitated...but my ears are up here?"

Gotta love em!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Today, I Choose Joy

Right now, my brain is fried. My back and neck hurt from the accident, and Advil is becoming my best friend. I am swamped with homework because I am in the middle of TWO Bethel classes. I am exhausted because I am taking more and more work home from school because 7th grade essay writing is in full swing. My house is a disaster because my nights are so full that I feel like I might burst. Throw this all together, and I am one tired, cranky wife/mom who has done more yelling in the past two weeks than I care to admit.

But today. Today, I choose joy. I am choosing to focus on the positives:
  • I just registered for the Minneapolis Half Marathon and only paid $30 instead of $60.
  • Both of my little men are healthy... despite the fact that everyone else in day care was sick early last week.
  • On this date last year, I had already used 6 sick days at school due to doctor's appointments and the endoscopy. So far I have only used one this year!
  • Even though I am barely keeping myself together emotionally and am in a lot of pain, I am still running and meeting personal time goals. Just last night, I ran 4.15 miles in 35 minutes.
  • In just two weeks, I will get to see my sister and watch Griffin play with Henry and Ella.
  • On Friday, I am getting a massage.
  • This week is spirit week at school, and you better believe I am going full out. Come back and see my "Pink Explosion" outfit for tomorrow.
  • Although my doctoral program is A TON of work, I am thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.
  • Grayson is becoming more and more verbal every day. I love the smile on his face when he successfully says a new word.
  • Griffin is loving Caribou Preschool, and I am becoming more and more content with our decision to send him to Kindergarten next year.
  • I am most likely getting a MINI-VAN!!!
  • Jesus loves me no matter how many mistakes I make or how tired and cranky I become. He makes it so much easier to choose JOY!
So there you have it. Today, I choose Joy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

They will always be my babies...

Just a few minutes ago, as we were snuggling before bedtime, Griffin asked, "Can you sing the love you for always song?" So, of course, I began rocking my four year old and sang:

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be.

After singing this about ten times, I kissed my oldest baby goodnight and left the room fighting back tears.

Thank you, Robert Munsch, for putting my feelings into a book I hope my kids will love and remember forever.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Quotes from a Caribou Preschooler

"Sorry, Mom. Sorry" (This was after he didn't write his K perfectly. I explained he didn't need to apologize for not learning his letters perfectly, yet he continued to apologize any time a letter was not to his liking. Perfectionist, perhaps?)

"I was very good. I concentrated." (Explaining to Daddy what he did when he came home.)

I asked Griffin if he wanted to read a book together, and he replied, "But I can't read a book unless I am sitting on your lap!" (To my lap he went!)

After I told him he could have a sticker for all of his hard work he replied, "You can have a sticker too, Mom. You were SUCH a good helper!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Caribou Pre-School

What? You didn't know that Caribou has a preschool? Well, it does:)

I have been struggling this year with the fact that Griffin will never attend preschool. Because Brandon and I both have full-time jobs, it is nearly impossible for our boys to attend preschool unless we completely uproot them from Gail's house. While I know Griffin is a social butterfly, and he practices following directions in Kid-O-Deo, it made me nervous that he would never have a routine, structured, school-like atmosphere before entering Kindergarten next year.

Viola! Caribou preschool. Starting today, Griffin and I will be attending Caribou once a week for an hour of one-on-one preschool time. He has a backpack and everything. The two of us practiced our numbers and letters and did some reading, but his favorite part was doing workbook stuff like finding the unalike object or figuring out which pictures represented certain numbers. Now, I know this isn't the same as going to preschool, but for one whole hour, Griffin received one-on-one academic attention, and he LIKED it. He was attentive, and he wants to do it again. And I get Caribou out of the deal. I'm convinced it's my best idea yet:)


Do you have a friend who is always fun to be around? Someone who you can go for months without seeing, yet the minute you are together everything is still familiar? Nothing has changed but the time?

Well, I have three of them. And they are my siblings. I didn't choose for Le'Dean, Andrew, and Christopher to be my family, yet we have all chosen to be each other's friends. Even though we can all get annoyed with one another at times, and there are times when we don't always agree with how someone has chosen to do something, we can still get together at the drop of the hat and have fun together. We forget our differences and truly enjoy each other's company.

Yesterday I had a surprise visit by my youngest brother, Christopher. He had driven to a nearby town for a wedding, and he had no clue until moments before arriving that he was staying only 10 minutes away from our house. I only see my siblings about five times a year, so this was an unexpected treat. And from the moment he walked through the door, everything was familiar. My boys ran to him as if they see him every day. He sat on our couch and told stories as if he visits our house often. He was entertaining as always, and I was proud to be his older sister.

Seeing Christopher made me wish I lived closer to my siblings. It made me sad that my boys don't get to see their extended family as often as I would like. But, it made me grateful that the four of us will always be familiar. No matter how long we go between visits or how far away we live.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Strong is the New Beautiful

Yesterday I ran my first 10K race in Maple Grove. The Autumn Classic is something I plan to do on a yearly basis because the race was perfect. Having run a 5K, a 4 Mile Race, and a half-marathon, the 10K race is by far my favorite. I wouldn't classify 6.2 miles as easy (especially yesterday's VERY hilly course), but it isn't nearly as difficult as 13.1 miles. Furthermore, I could still function yesterday at a normal level, and today my legs aren't sore. That was NOT the case when I ran the World Vision race in August. I would classify yesterday as a good challenge, and that is perfect for me:)

As a mother of two small children, I am often asked how I find the time to run. The answer is I don't. I don't find the time because there is never enough time to do things we try and find the time to do. Instead, if something is a priority, we MAKE the time. It's no different than signing your child up for swimming lessons, football, or making church a priority on the weekends. We don't find the time to go to church; we make it. The same is true for my runs. Don't get me wrong. Making the time isn't always easy. I run four times a week, and I have to be very strategic about it. But, three days during the week, as soon as my kiddos are put to bed, my date with the treadmill begins. On the weekends, I either run when the kiddos go down for a nap, or sometimes Brandon watches the kids, and I will run when they are awake. The commitment on my part has been made. Since May of this year, running is one of my priorities, and it is rare that I don't get four runs in. I am officially addicted to the runner's high you get after finishing a challenging run.

Still, some shake their heads. They ask why I put the stress on my knees? Or how can I run at 8:00p.m at night? The answer is this. I have never had as much confidence in my body image as I do right now. And those of you know me, that is a very bold and amazing statement to make. My whole life, I have struggled with my body image. Whether it was trying to look perfect for gymnastics, constantly comparing myself to my beautiful and stunning sister, looking perfect on the diving board, or measuring myself next to my friends, what I saw in the mirror was never what I wanted to see. For years and years, I had a very private, ugly battle with food. But now, at this moment, my struggle with food and my weight isn't there. I used to weigh myself multiple times a day. Sometimes before and after workouts even. I now weigh myself just a few times a month. I still have stretch marks from the kiddos, and if I obsessed over food, I know I could be skinnier, but I truly don't have that desire. If I want to eat something, most of the times I do. I may say to myself, "Oh, I shouldn't eat that," but inevitably I do, and it's okay. And it's okay because right now, my body is healthy, and I am stronger than I have ever been as an adult. And as my t-shirt that I am wearing right now says, "Strong is the New Beautiful." And maybe this is bad to say, but I like feeling beautiful.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Random Thoughts and Updates

Last weekend, we attended Eagle Brook's Blaine Campus for its Grand Opening. It was so inspiring to be a part of something so new, yet so planned for. This campus has been in the works for two years, and Brandon and I feel blessed to have been a part of it financially, through prayer, my short-term staff stint, etc. While we have yet to decide if we are going to stay at SLP or actually attend Blaine, it was still fun to be a part of the debut weekend.

It was during that service that Brandon and I heard the sermon about "locking the exit door." The two of us have agreed---the exit door to our marriage does not exist. Instead, we have made the decision that no matter what, we will fight for our family. This doesn't mean we aren't realistic about the fact that marriage can be difficult, boring, and insane at different times. It doesn't mean that we won't face times on our journey where we feel like giving up. But, it does means that we are committed to bettering ourselves, which in return increases the success of our marriage. We want our boys to learn how to love others by seeing how we love each other. This involves overlooking each other's faults at time, and most important, it means that biblical teachings and truth will drive how we run our family. I could go on, but Bob Merritt says it so much better---click here to listen to last week's sermon:)

This week also brought about some one-on-one time with my youngest mischief-maker. Because of different nap times and bed times, I am able to squeeze in some quality time with Griffin more frequently. But last night, it was all about Mommy and Grayson time while Daddy took Griffin to swimming. I kid you not, we read books for almost 40 minutes. And by books, I mean two books over and OVER again. I tried suggesting different ones, but Grayson is quite convinced that Super Hero Alphabet and Super Hero Friends are the two best books around. We read them so often that even Griffin has them memorized! Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed some snuggle time with just my 18 month old pride and joy. Plus, he even learned a new phrase...he can now say "bad guy!"

Finally, I wanted to take some time to give a shout out to Brandon. The start of the school year is always stressful, and I tend to become kind of hard to live with when I deal with the stress of a new year. Throw in my classes at Bethel and the extra time I am spending with my student teacher, and you have yourself one bundle of joy for a wife. Or not. Brandon has really stepped up to the plate and gone above and beyond the call of duty as a husband and father...the kicker is that he doesn't complain. I am blessed with a husband who finds joy in serving his wife and kids. And if he doesn't find joy, he fakes it:)

Ahhh. Life is good!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Current Quotes from the Dunigan Boys!

Griffin: Sometimes I wish I could be a girl.
Me: Really, why is that?
Griffin: Because only girls get to have babies in their bellies.

Griffin: But I know everything.
Brandon: What makes you think that?
Griffin: (sigh) Because I turned four.

Grayson: (after bringing a book to me on the couch) Up! Book!
Me: You want me to read you a book?
Grayson: (huge smile) Book!

Family Pictures

(All because two people fell in love)

The four of us were lucky enough to have family pictures taken two weeks ago. Jennifer Johansen did an amazing job, and I HIGHLY recommend her. We had a ball, and I was pleased to see that she captured my kids' personalities quite well:)