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…

Lots has happened since our last post. Ally was finally diagnosed with a mucocele in her mouth, a blocked saliva gland.  It eventually got so inflamed and swollen that we saw it and immediately took her in.  After being examined by 2 doctors, she was referred to Children’s Hospital here in St. Paul. 2 minutes into our visit, we had our answer.  We gave it 2 weeks to see if it would resolve on its own and then scheduled her for out patient surgery.  On August 1, Ally underwent a 20 minute procedure and BAM! 5 minutes after coming out of recovery she resumed normal eating. What a huge relief! It’s not reflux, it’s not a milk allergy, she’s totally normal. She’s eating normal formula and just moved to a big girl 4 hour schedule. We sure do love our Ally bear.

In other news, Nick has been given a promotion and a relocation to central Pennsylvania.  We are excited for what our future holds.  We will most likely be relocating within a month. Our house is on the market and we’re praying it sells soon. We’ve never sold a house before and out patience is wearing thin but we remain hopeful, optimistic, and prayerful.

Ally is weighing in at 17 pounds and is 27 inches tall. That puts her in the 95th percentile. She is about to start solid food and we are looking forward to the fun and messy time that will be. We’ve purchased spoons, a high chair and rice cereal and we’ll keep you posted on what happens next!

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September 3, 2013