Pregnancy Album: Beginning – Week 16

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

I planned my album very carefully with emphasis on ease.  Here are how the pages came out so far!

I left some blanks for the title page.  I think I’ll make that after the baby is born and when we have a name.  Week 4 was the official start of the pregnancy, but I wrote a beginning card just to talk about finding out we were pregnant.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

I designed the album in Week 6 and we didn’t start taking bump pictures until then.  I used whatever I had for 4 and 5.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

In Week 6 my best friend’s daughter was born!  Don’t ask about our Week 7 bump picture.  It’s on a memory card that’s hiding somewhere in our house.  I know that I’ll find it eventually.  Maybe on the kid’s 18th birthday?  I’m trying not to sweat it at this point.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

Week 7 is also when we left for Australia!  I timed the bump pictures so we’d only have to get one on the road, which was Week 8.  Nice blank wall in our hotel room!  I balanced the camera on a couple coffee table books on top of the ironing board.

We were in Australia for most of Week 9 but took the bump picture as soon as we got home.  Other than in Week 8, the pictures don’t scream Australia, but this album is about the pregnancy and not about our trip.  I’ll scrapbook the trip separately later.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

Notice I varied the layout week to week.  It looked too boring to have the cards in the same position when the pages were facing each other.

Week 11 featured a big big deal: the very first picture of our baby!  I scanned it and printed it to size for the page.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

Week 12 we had another ultrasound and I realized I wanted the option to add big things.  I didn’t want to plan for things outside of my formula because I didn’t want the pressure.  But since the album size is flexible, I made a game time decision.  The font is Klinic Slab Book and I pre-cut a ton of “weeks” and numbers out.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

See what I mean about not wanting to wear the same outfit in each picture?  Our Oktoberfest gear in Week 13 makes me smile.  The baby also got its first quilt courtesy of my mom.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

Good thing I came up with the full page option because in Week 15, we found out we are having a BOY.  I printed the message from the doctor plus a piece of the test result (several sections below blurred for privacy).  I’m glad I had the extra room to tell the story of how we found out.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

I’m loving how we are mixing life stuff, baby stuff, and house stuff in the pictures.  In Week 16 we took our hospital tour (I was the only one who was sneaking pictures for my album).

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

Well phew!  So far so good!  Even though the little guy is quite comfortable and is taking a while to pop out, I’m loving the weekly pictures!

See all the posts about my pregnancy album and more here.

Gondola Rides in Venice: 9 Essential Tips

How to Ride a Gondola in Venice by Natalie Parker

Well over ten years ago in Vegas, I wanted a gondola ride at the Venetian Hotel.  Mr. P balked at the price and said that he’d pay for a real gondola ride when we made it to Italy.  I was hopping and skipping when we finally arrived in Venice last year, ready for him to make good on his promise.

Just like anything that’s mildly famous in a city, it’s worth knowing a bit before you buy.  Here are my essential tips for having a great gondola experience!

Rates are fixed.  At the time we went, it was 80€ for 30 minutes.  The price was the same for two to six people.  If you want to save, split it among a group.  If you have a group, note there are only two traditional seats in the gondola.  The others will be sitting on small footstools.  Rides at dusk cost more.

Yes, they speak English.  Gondoliers speak well-enough English to quote you the price, sell you the ride, and understand the below.  Don’t worry!

Watch the clock.  Even though rates are fixed, look at your watch to make sure you are getting the entire time you paid for.  To avoid an argument, make a big show of looking at your watch as you climb in.

Singing costs extra.  If you want a serenade by your gondolier, you will pay extra.

How to Ride a Gondola in Venice by Natalie Parker

Gondola vs. Sandalo.  Make sure you are riding a gondola and not a sandalo if you want a gondola ride.  A sandalo is a smaller boat that can fit into tighter canals, which can be a good thing if that’s what you’re after.  But if you’re after a ride in a gondola, make sure you know the difference in looks.  A gondola looks like this (note tall ends) and a sandalo looks like this.

Gondola traffic jams eat into your time.  Your time is fixed even if your gondola has to wait for 3 or 4 other gondolas to clear out of your path.  Do not get a gondola near San Marco or from the touristy side of the Rialto Bridge.  We got ours from Rialto Mercato on the other side of the bridge.  We told the guy we wanted quiet after seeing groups of cruise passengers stuffed up in other canals.  He listened and we had a wonderful time.

How to Ride a Gondola in Venice by Natalie Parker

Gondoliers will point out sites.  It’s sort of like a mini tour.  Since we asked for a quiet trip, we saw some cute cafes out of the way that we were able to find our way back to after the ride.

They will take your picture.  I think they’re pretty used to it!

How to Ride a Gondola in Venice by Natalie Parker

Don’t save your gondola ride for the last day.  Or save it really at all.  You never know how the weather can change.  If the weather is great, go for it!  If you really want to put off the ride, make sure to check the weather online.  If the weather is bad, no gondola rides.  We were there for 2 days: the first day was sunny and the second day was drizzly and windy.  If we waited til the second day, we would not have gotten a ride.

How to Ride a Gondola in Venice by Natalie Parker

Anyone else have tips to share?  We loved our experience!

Want more travel advice?  Check out an index of all my travel posts here!

Pregnancy Album: Dad’s in the Bump Pictures

Baby Bump Pictures by Natalie Parker

Notice something in the weekly bump pictures?  Other than the noticeable lack of a bump for a long period of time?  Kid is going to do what the kid wants to do.  Moving on.

That’s my husband and he’s in every weekly bump picture.

Why?

I love weekly bump pictures.  Love love love.  It’s such a cool way to show the progression of time.  When I was researching other pregnancy albums, I knew a weekly picture was totally going to happen.

One thing that struck me:  looking at the weekly progression, dad seemed very absent.  Sure, in some people’s lives, dad might not be available.  For me, I didn’t want my album to be all about me.

This is about us.  The album is from my perspective but this experience is about us becoming parents.  We’ve been handling everything together aside from him not actually growing the baby.  It’s important to me that when our kid looks at the album, dad is very prominent.

How We Take the Weekly Picture

We have it down to a science now and Mr. P is a very good sport.  We use the same blank wall in our living room and he knows exactly where to stand.  And I don’t have to wait for him to fix his hair or makeup.

Baby Bump Pictures by Natalie Parker

I get as much natural light as I can.  As I said earlier, we don’t get a picture on a set day of the week.  I try to get it when we’re both home and have the best light.  If that means that weeks 17 and 18 are only two days apart, so be it.

We use a tripod with my DSLR.  We used a timer for the first several weeks, then I got a remote which made it much simpler.  I tilt the LCD screen so I can see it from our spot and know if I need to move a hand or un-slouch.

The whole process takes about 10 minutes.  This is from setup to take down.  I keep the tripod in the closet half-extended so it’s easy to set up.

We don’t have set outfits.  I do love the weekly bump pictures where mom is wearing the same or similar black dress the entire time.  I opted not to.  I didn’t want to have to change my clothes.  I also thought it’d be cool to see my clothes and seasons change.  A big bonus would be to show clothes from things we were doing at the time, like going to football games or an Oktoberfest party.

Baby Bump Pictures by Natalie Parker

As with everything in pregnancy, to each his or her own.  For us, it’ll be nice for our child to look back and see how excited we both were (and how we both used to look when we got full nights of sleep).

See all the posts about my pregnancy album and more here.

Pregnant and Traveling: Going to Australia at 7 Weeks

Traveling While Pregnant by Natalie Parker
We travel a lot.  I’m pregnant.  How is that going to shake out?  I have no idea.

We’re making the choices that we can with the information we have.  We were in Australia during Weeks 7-9 of the pregnancy.  That’s not exactly a hop on Southwest from SF to LA so let’s talk about it.

Planning the Trip

I wasn’t pregnant when we planned the trip, but we knew it would be a possibility.  We decided to make the plans anyway.  We used a bunch of American Airlines miles to get business class seats to Sydney.  I figured that if I was pregnant, I’d at least be comfortable in those seats.

What if I felt sick?  What if it just wouldn’t work?  It was all possible.  I decided to not to assume I couldn’t do things.  Instead of not making the plans in the absence of information, we made the plans and decided we’d adjust if we needed to.  I’m assuming I can do things (maybe with some adjustments) unless my doctor and/or body tell me I can’t.

Preparing Now that I Was Pregnant

Doctor’s advice.  We got to a doctor right quick and got her advice.  I was worried about a ton of stuff including the possibility of nausea (morning sickness).  Handily, if it hadn’t started yet, it would start at the latest in the middle of our 14-hour flight.  Awesome.

Nausea remedies.  I brought a pack of every nausea remedy known to man in my carry-on just in case.

How Did the Flight Go?

In the end, everything was fine!  When we landed in Melbourne (SFO-LAX-SYD-MEL), I practically skipped out of the airport because I was so proud of myself.

Staying hydrated and circulating.  The fear of God was put into me about staying hydrated on the plane and keeping up my circulation.  I HATE moving around on planes because flying scares me.  Drinking a ton of water fixed all of that because I was up and down to the bathroom all. the. time.

Sleeping and eating.  Having the business class seat helped because I was able to lie down and sleep for several hours.  I had no issues running out of food because we were fed constantly.

Being the weirdo turning down the free booze.  I didn’t feel the need to disclose my pregnancy to the flight attendants, but I’m pretty sure they thought I was a weirdo.  No thank you, I don’t need an endless supply of wine.  No thank you, I don’t drink coffee (I don’t).  Please bring me water with this fancy dinner.

How Did the Trip Go?

I ended up with zero nausea but got really tired.  I got tired really early in the evening during the trip, which is normal.  Mr. P loves going to bed early and my fatigue forced us to take it easy.  I’m a big fan of that!  Pregnancy is a good excuse for me to rest.  On earlier trips, I’d feel guilty about lazing in the hotel room thinking I wasn’t getting enough out of my time.

I packed my workout gear.  I almost never have room for workout clothes in my suitcase but the baby has priorities.  I packed it and made sure to stay active whether it was walks or some time in the hotel gym.

What I’m allowed to eat.  Being newly pregnant, I was hyper-paranoid about what I was eating.  Australia’s not a bad place to be because the food is relatively safe.  I only had one hormone-induced-cry at the Melbourne airport when our flight was cancelled and there were almost zero healthy food choices I could eat.

So far, so good.  Am I letting my blissful ignorance guide me?  Perhaps.  Am I glad I had an excuse to purchase an adorable koala rattle?  You bet.

A pregnancy disclaimer:  I’m writing to share my experiences.  Your experiences, resources, and situation may be different.  My choices might not be the best choices for you.  I thank you in advance for trusting that all health decisions were discussed with my doctor and husband. 

Planning My Pregnancy Album

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

Hit a bit of a bump in the road recently.  Emphasis on the literal bump.

Yep, a wee one is going to be joining our family next year.  We are thrilled!

Me being me, I was not about to pass up such a momentous creative memory keeping opportunity.  The clock is ticking though!  Here’s what I decided.  Did I mention I’ve always been interested in book binding?  Thanks kid!

What Type of Album Do I Want?

Decide something and decide it fast.  I wanted a strategy that would work for the entire pregnancy and I didn’t want to have to think about it as I grew more tired in the passing weeks.  I came up with this in week 6 and put it together fast.

It had to be easy.  There are so many things I could have done here.  So many add-ons or cute things I could have added.  Nope nope nope.  I didn’t want something that started strong and then petered out.

Weekly documenting.  I love the idea of seeing the development of the pregnancy week by week.

Pre-work as much as possible.  I wanted to make the “kit” or supplies early, so I only had to accomplish a couple small tasks week to week.

Use my own supplies.  I shopped around for albums and realized 1) I’m picky and need something I design myself and 2) I needed to make something so I could start on it right away.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

The Structure

7 x 9 inch album out of existing scrapbook pages.  I cut down some 11×14 scrapbook pages I already had to make the album pages.

I used this YouTube video to prepare the pages.  I prepared the signatures and pre-poked the holes for the thread.  I’m not planning on binding it until after the baby is born but will use this method to create the cover and bind.

The book will be kettle-stitched.  See the videos linked above for the best instructions on kettle stitching.  I chose this because it will allow the book to open flat, plus grouping pages into sections (called “signatures”) will allow me to control how long the book will be.  If I did something like saddle stitching, I’d need to pick the total number of pages ahead of time.  With kettle stitching, I don’t have to.  What if my pregnancy is longer or shorter?  I didn’t want to have too many or too few pages and yes, I was really worried about this.

Cover color is undecided.  I want to wait until a bit later in the pregnancy, but I am planning on making the cover according to the video above.  It will be out of some hard cardboard and probably patterned paper.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

The Formula

Each week has the following four items.  Each are cut the same size:  2.5×3 inches so they fit well in the album with lots of white space.

A number card.  I designed these myself using the print and cut feature on my Silhouette.  The font is Beyond the Mountains.  I printed weeks 4-42, knowing that it’s possible I won’t make it to week 42 but also that my doctor likely won’t let me past that week either.  I started at 4 because that’s when we found out we were pregnant.

A bump picture.  I love love love weekly bump pictures.  We started taking them in week 6 (which was when I decided on the album structure).  For earlier weeks, I used whatever pictures I had on hand.

Writing.  I jot down important pregnancy milestones, how I’m feeling, and any other notable things that happened that week.  I could write for days, but I like the forced brevity and I think I’ll thank myself for it in the third trimester.  I pre-cut all of these cards, plus extra for when I don’t like my handwriting and need to start over.

Another photo of something from the week.  It can be anything really.  It will add interest to the page and also show a bit of what we were up to.  I’m excited to show house projects as we prepare for the baby’s arrival!

Optional full page spreads.  I decided this in week 12 when I had some ultrasound pictures.  If I feel like it and if I want to tell a longer story, I can add a full page to emphasize something.  I pre-cut a ton of letters and numbers last week so I can add one of these at any point.  Thank goodness for the flexible size of the album (see above).

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

The Plan

Take notes during the week.  I’m using Google Keep to jot down happenings from the week.  This has worked really well so far!

One bump picture from any point in the week.  I’m not going to try to get a picture on the same day of the week.  Emphasis will be on the best natural light and then I’ll hope for the best.

Writing the cards and editing photos every couple of weeks.  I try and write the cards no more than a week late because I’ll forget details despite my notes.  I’ll pencil on the back what week they’re from and leave them until I’m ready to print pictures.  I’ll crop and edit the pictures weekly and keep them in a folder until I have enough to print on a sheet.

Pregnancy Album by Natalie Parker

Results?

So far, thumbs up.  I’ve had a blessedly uneventful time so far and I’m keeping up!  I love the way it’s turning out.

Very soon, I’ll share what the pages look like so far!  I hope you’re up for the ride with me!

5 Important Travel Things You Need to Keep in the Cloud

Passports by Natalie Parker

Going somewhere?  Planning on going somewhere?  Save yourself a ton of time and aggravation by keeping important travel things saved in the cloud.

By cloud, I mean stored with an online service that you can access from any computer or mobile device.  I use Google Drive but you can also use Evernote, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive.

Storing these things online means you can access them from any device no matter where you are as long as you have an internet connection:

Important ID numbers.  Mr. P and I have a shared Google spreadsheet that contains all important travel ID numbers.  This includes: passport numbers and expiration dates, Known Traveler Numbers (for Global Entry / TSA PreCheck), and every single airline or hotel loyalty number.  The amount of times we have to copy/paste these numbers into online reservations is absurd.  Keeping them shared in the cloud means we can make, check, or edit reservations from anywhere.

Scan of passport photo page.  This will become so freaking useful you’ll wonder why you didn’t have it saved before.  While most of the time you’ll just need your passport number and expiration date, sometimes you will need an actual copy of the photo page.  Sometimes you’ll need info that you won’t have saved with your ID numbers, like when a visa application asks you for the “issuing agency” for your passport.

Event or attraction tickets.  Save copies of any event or attraction tickets just in case you lose or forget to pack your copies.  For my current trip, we are going to two sporting events and I have printed copies as well as PDFs on Google Drive.

Recent passport photo.  These are frequently needed for online visa applications and the like.  If you aren’t a kid who’s growing like a weed, a good digital passport photo can last a while.  Mr. P was getting his international driving permit the other day and assumed I could just print a photo for it.  I didn’t remember to save the last one.  Grrr.  I had to whip out the camera and take, size, and print two copies in under 10 minutes.  Lesson learned.

Here are the State Department’s rules for taking a passport photo, which generally should work for other visa photo needs.

Visas or visa information.  True story:  I didn’t realize until we landed in Istanbul that I forgot to print our Turkish visas.  I got them months before the trip and freaking forgot to print them.  While we were taxiing, I pulled up PDFs of the visas on my phone.  After deplaning, I was able to punch the visa numbers into a machine and print copies before immigration.  Boo-yah!

Start this before your next trip and you will thank yourself!

Vacation Video Using 1-Second Everyday App

Mr. P and I just got back from two weeks in Spain!

After our crazy trip around the world, I wanted to take it really easy.  That meant taking fewer pictures and relaxing.  But I couldn’t resist trying a new cool way of documenting our trip.

The 1 Second Everyday App

The 1 Second Everyday App is available for both iOS and Android.  Traditionally, this app has been used to snap 1 second of video for every day.  I’ve seen some really cool videos and love how the app makes everyday life really amazing.  In addition to the everyday mode, it has a “freestyle” mode that allows you to mash several seconds over one or more days.

Using Freestyle Mode to Document Our Trip

I snapped tons of videos on the trip.  It was really fun!  I took videos of things I wouldn’t normally take pictures of.

Originally, I shot the videos through the app itself.  Before we even got to our first city (of course I was filming on the plane), some of my videos would mysteriously disappear and reappear.  I switched to shooting videos using my phone’s camera app and decided to load them into the 1SE app and trim them later.  This meant that all of my videos were backed up on Google Photos (awesome) but caused some major headaches with the 1SE app later (not awesome).

Some Really Buggy Editing

I waited until I got home to trim all the videos.  I watched and deleted several of them first.  I sat on the couch thinking I could get the editing done in one night.  Wrong.

The app was SUPER buggy.  I would trim 2-3 videos, then the last two would disappear.  This happened over and over again, editing about 3 videos to lose two.  It was incredibly frustrating.  I almost gave up on it but I really wanted to see the final product.

What Did I Think?

It’s hard to say.  Finding things to shoot on the trip was really fun.  I loved that I got things I would never have taken pictures of (like the bus).  I love the movement that the video shows.  It triggers memories of the trip that are very different feelings than if I looked at pictures.

Still, editing was a big pain in the ass and I’m not sure I’d do it again.  Your results may vary of course.  Enjoy the video above.  Would you try this?