Well, it’s certainly been a full year. We have not updated like we should be updating, so here’s the VERY fast rundown.

Ally is 2 now, she celebrated her 2nd birthday with Mommy, Daddy, and Grandpa Norman here in PA. She enjoys playing pretend, play dough, tea parties, Princess Sofia, Princess Elena, and “riding” her bike. She also loves to swim in the hot tub. She is talking like a normal little person and it’s incredible to see changes and growth in her every single day.

We added another member to our family. We survived pregnancy, although it was difficult again this time. Max Henry Norman was born April 26, 2018. He is now 3.5 months old and is holding his own in this crazy family. He loves to snuggle with Mommy and laugh with Daddy. It’s amazing how much he is his own little person even at only 3.5 months. He too has had some feeding issues just like his big sister did, but his was related to a tongue tie that was fixed when he was 11 weeks old.

Maggie is still our snuggle pup, although she gets less snuggles these days. Her favorite time is when both kids are in bed and she gets to snuggle with Mom and Dad by herself in our bed. She still sleeps in her box though 🙂

Dad is training for a Marathon. Yes, you read that right. The 2018 Twin Cities Marathon. This is it people. The moment he has spent his whole life training for. It all comes down to this! I’m confident he will finish.

Mom is struggling to find a balance with work, Sparkle Strategies, 2 kids, a dog, a house, and life. Right now, I’m on day 43 of PIYO’s 60 day challenge, and on day 4 of the 21 day fix. The weight from Max isn’t coming off like it did with Ally so it’s taking some drastic measures. I miss carbs. But after cooking for a toddler for 2 years, it’s been a fun challenge so far to rediscover using seasoning instead of carbs. I’m hopeful that once I lose this 15 pounds I will feel like my old self again. Max sleeping through the night would also help. Man is he close!

If you read this, pray for us. We’re definitely feeling the distance from family more than ever before. We promise to update once a week at least!

Living in Central PA is not all sunshine and rainbows, but we make it work. But I miss the big city conveniences, namely shopping. I miss giant Targets that you can get lost in for hours and emerge with clothes, toys, goods, and food all in one Starbucks fueled shopping trip. I miss the Mall of America so much that I tear up a little when I think about it too much. I miss IKEA, and the luxury of buying a bookcase by driving down the road. I miss restaurants and cute little rows of shops with adorable items for purchase. IKEA is one hour and forty five minutes away. “That’s not far!” you say. You’d think that, but one hour and forty-five minutes with Ally is like an eternity. Thank God for puffs.

On our grand IKEA adventure I knew we’d have only a few hours to get meatballs and all the things on our list. Perusing the aisles and showrooms at a leisurely pace was a thing of the past. I did not plan on a FULL. ALLY. BEAR. MELT. DOWN. We got half way through and BAM meltdown.

Ever tried to exit an IKEA quickly? I mean, people- it’s a fire hazard in there.

We re-set Ally in a grassy area outside and let her wander around a department store for a bit and then returned to the scene of the crime.

We learned to start with meatballs. Always start with meatballs. And always Ergo-baby that baby! I had 2 hours of lugging around a 25 pound child and selecting all the things I needed. Ahhhhh much better. 

While I recognize that my days of leisurely strolling through any store are over, I’m glad that if I need to, I can drive to the store I need. Even though it’s a million puffs away.

We settled on a Besta system, and man, this thing is great. We custom designed our own that fit our needs and it looks great! Now to stick those cords in the wall….

You might ask what was wrong with the old thing. First, it wasn’t wide enough so it looked…odd…with our giant TV (that we soon will make even more giant). Second, no doors protected the cable boxes so Ally liked to push the buttons at extremely inopportune times.

Our new system has doors that she someday will be unable to open. Just as soon as we make our way to Home Depot for some security devices. So far, she’s left it alone.


Well, we made it! To over one year of parenthood and no one has died or fainted or even gone to the hospital. I’m not counting Ally’s mucocele because I’m convinced that if we don’t speak of the horrific event we won’t remember it. Ally’s birthday was a big success even though we didn’t throw a big party like Pinterest tells us to. We instead opted for our own photoshoot and smash cake, made by yours truly. Saved money, was more fun, and easier on poor Ally who was out sugared by 5PM.

We’ve made some improvements on our new house, adding open shelving to the kitchen, landscaping to the outside, and ripping out the guts of our entryway closet and re-doing. We’re learning a lot and can’t wait to tackle the “basement” downstairs of our tri level home.

Ally is walking now and exploring the world around her. She expresses herself rather loudly and we’re loving seeing her huge personality grow and become more boisterous every day. She also bites…hard. With her 10 teeth, it’s quite the bite.

Maggie has adjusted very well to her new best friend. They share toys, blankets, and food so what more can a dog ask for?

We’ve been horrible about posting, but that’s pretty much been it. Follow us on Instagram @NormanNest to see all of our photos.

Our journey continues and we promise to try to be better at posting!

It’s been a few months since our last post. We had an almost month long visit back to Minnesota where we got to see lots of family and friends. Boy was it great to be back in the land of 10,000 lakes! However, after 3.5 weeks of being on the road with a baby and a dog, we were ready to come home. It’s weird to think of here as home, but here we are!

Ally is 10 months old and crawling around and getting into all kinds of things. She hasn’t quite figured out how to open things, but she finds the TINIEST little bits in the carpet and then eats them. So it’s great incentive to vacuum regularly. **Sigh**

Maggie just went through her own trial. I think I’ll make that a second post soon. Poor little puppy dog. She’s OK now though, all safe and sound!

We are knee deep into our table building project. Yes, Nick and I decided to build a table. Nick actually is doing the building and sanding and then I’ll do the painting and staining. So far, it looks WONDERFUL. All for $150. The DIY posts of “build a table for under $50” are lies. But, $150 is definitely better than the $1,000 price tag that was on the table I had my eye on.

Nick will probably want to build all kinds of things, so watch out world, here he comes with his Kreg jig in tow!

I’m still organizing, cleaning, re-organizing, re-cleaning and trying to get us truly settled. It’s difficult because every time I clear an area, it seems that another project just pops up. So far, we’ve build a fence, re-insulated the attic and crawlspace, had a window replaced and we’ve owned this house for 5 months. Yuck. Hopefully the projects will be done soon!



This year, we did not make it home for Thanksgiving and I knew that I had to prepare a feast even though it was just 2.5 of us. The task was daunting. Even though I wanted to preserve tradition, I felt like I had to put my own spin on things.  So I did an herb roasted turkey, stuffed with a combination of 3 stuffing recipes, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, made from scratch green bean casserole and a made from scratch pumpkin pie (crust and all!).

We decided to skip rolls entirely, and Nick prefers canned cranberries…like the kind where you can see the rings from the can. I didn’t even know that existed until I met him.

Made from scratch, crust to toppings!

Made from scratch, crust to toppings!

Everything was set, our pie turned out great.  We woke up Thanksgiving morning ready to rumble. Except the turkey was still partially frozen. AHH! 3 FaceTime calls with my mom later, our turkey was thawed and in the oven. It turns out, Thanksgiving is an exhausting day filled with carefully timed moments of kitchen panic and chaos. And never ending cleaning. All to sit down and stuff your faces for 20 minutes and then more cleaning.


Ally, before she knew what pie was.


Ally loved pumpkin pie the most. This was the first time she has ever really cried because we took something away. Uh-oh. I think we created a monster.


Ally, after she’d tasted the sweet, sweet taste of pumpkin pie

She’s also getting her first tooth. While it hasn’t yet quite popped through, it’s definitely there and we expect to see it in a few days. That is, if she will let us get close enough to her mouth to see.

We’re still struggling with eczema on her face, especially now that the dry winter weather is upon us. I’m putting Eucerine on her 3 times a day but she still scratches her face at night. It looks like we beat her. Or we have a vicious cat. Any suggestions?

We hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving with your family and friends!

I realize it’s been awhile since our last update. We’ll try to do better!

We’re now in our new home in PA. I can’t say we’re moved in and unpacked and settled, but our belongings are indeed within the walls of a home. We’re making progress, although it’s been difficult with a baby and a dog and no fence. family_fall_2016

Fence is being installed in a few weeks, but we think teeth are on the move with Ally. She also has discovered volume when it comes to making sounds with her mouth so that’s a lot of fun. It’s a good thing Nick sells ear plugs for a living.

Nick has settled into his job for the most part.  Balancing home life and work life with two parents home officing has been a challenge to say the least, but we’re figuring it out.

We bought a smaller home here and while that comes with its own set of blessings we are finding the need to be creative with storage. You’ll see some of our solutions as we go along and we’ll post our progress. I do love a good purge and we’ve already dropped a carload of stuff to the Goodwill.

We did purchase a new Leesa mattress and I have to say, it’s amazing. The cost, the quality, the mattress itself all made it well worth the leap of faith to buy a mattress off the internet. If you need a good mattress, look no further than the Leesa. I don’t know how I spent my entire pregnancy without it. I woke up this morning and aside from a post election day headache, I felt great! 

Our next projects include finishing the unpacking, proper curtain hanging (tip- 3M hooks do NOT work well as a permanent solution), organizing the storage unit, and then adding some character to this house! Stay tuned…