A Bright and Modern Baby Boy Nursery

Baby Boy Nursery Tour by Natalie Parker

I’m really proud of how our baby boy’s room turned out!  We’ve been working on it nonstop and I didn’t stop to take pictures of our projects in progress.

Is there a theme?  No.  I’m anti-theme and wanted a bright, colorful room that will grow with him.  There are stars.  There are animals.  There is travel stuff.  No one thing dominates the room.

Did I use the room as a vehicle to try every craft project on my wish list?  No comment.

Links to tutorials and products are at the end of the post.

Paint and Furniture

My parents helped us paint (1) the room a light grey with a white accent wall.  The baseboards and trim were already white when we moved in.

Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

We love the crib (2) because it’s simple and will convert into a toddler bed later.  There are plain white sheets because I didn’t think we needed more pattern and because I need a white background for his passport photo.

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

The bear (3) is pretty random, but I wanted a giant stuffed non-teddy bear for the room.  It’s actually quite difficult to search for (“wild bear?”).  The hamper is several years old and repurposed here.

The glider (4) is a recliner, no stool needed.  Mr. P finally got a recliner in the house!

I looked for an end table (5) to keep breastfeeding supplies close to the glider but also something that could double as a nightstand as he gets older.  Next to it is a small trash can (6) for non-diaper items (diapers will go in the diaper pail (7) next to the dresser).

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

I made the pillow (8) by scanning a Paris Metro Ticket, printing it on fabric, then sewing and stuffing it myself.

The rug (9) is much brighter in person than it appears online.  I passed over it until we saw it in the store.  I love the colors so much!

The dresser is Mr. P’s dresser and changing table from when he was a baby.  He sanded it down and I painted it white.  We made custom animal drawer pulls (10) using some toys and spray paint.  Finding animals the right size was challenging!

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

I lined (11) the inside of the dresser to brighten things up a bit.

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

The Constellation Accent Wall

Mr. P is a stargazer and after showing him several constellation walls (12) on Pinterest, he was sold.

He designed the wall himself and used an overhead projector to shine the drawing on the wall and trace it in pencil.  I followed with the silver paint pen, then he finished it off by adding more random stars and the Milky Way (the large band of stars).

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

The constellations are not haphazardly placed.  Mr. P used one of his favorite books (13) to place the constellations so they would appear next to each other the way they do in the sky.  I just asked for Ursa Major to be above the crib and he went from there.

Notice the dots for the stars are all different sizes.  Mr. P gave me a color-coded sheet — the larger dots are actually the brightest stars in the sky and so on from there.

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

You may notice that the constellations look a bit different than you’re used to.  Gemini (above) actually looks like a set of twins (or two stick figures holding hands).  The book is really fantastic because it uses the same stars for the constellations but draws the lines between them so they actually make sense.  Yes, it’s the same H.A. Rey who wrote Curious George.

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

The Ikea Hack Built-In Shelves

Storage is an issue in our house.  The boy’s room is pretty large and I wanted a ton of space for toy and book storage as he grows.

The shelves are from the Ikea Besta series (14) built-in and secured to the wall and trimmed with baseboards and molding (15).

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

We chose Besta instead of the Billy series because Besta shelves are 14 inches deep to Billy’s 11.  The Besta units allow us to shelve large children’s books with no problem.  The elephant is a bookend (16).

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

The 14-inch deep units also allow for great storage in the cabinet sections underneath.  I want places for toys when he gets older.  For now, we have Besta Bins (17) holding baby supplies.

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

We bought brass hardware (18) separately for the cabinet handles.

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

I’m thrilled with how the built-ins turned out.  There’s not much in them at this point but they should be able to handle a lot of stuff in the future.

Bits and Pieces

The curtains are a navy pattern (19).  In the picture below, there’s also a Nest Cam (20) hiding on one of the shelves.  There’s plenty of room for baby quilts and blankets from his grandma and great-grandma.

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

The wall above the dresser / changing area is Star Wars.

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

I bought and lightly edited an Etsy pattern (21) and framed them in embroidery hoops (22).  The project really came about because I needed something to keep me occupied but forced me to sit down and rest.  I worked on these quite a bit during my London trip!

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

Also hiding on one of the shelves is a clock (23).  I almost considered going Vegas-casino-style and not having a clock in the room at all.  In the end I thought it would be helpful to track feeding times.

On the wall near the clock is a Paris skyline canvas print (24).  The clouds are sewn on top of the canvas!

Modern Baby Boy Nursery by Natalie Parker

Finally, hiding on one of the shelves is a picture from our wedding (25).

That’s it!  I’m so happy with how it turned out!  I’m hoping that the style and all the storage will grow with him.


  1. Paint: Double Click and Snowy Pine by Behr
  2. Crib: Sniglar CribVyssa Vinka Mattress, Len Mattress Protector, Len White Fitted Sheet, by Ikea
  3. Bear: Wild Republic Black Bear on Amazon
  4. Glider/Recliner: Dutailier Minho Reclining Glider in Grey on Jet.com
  5. End Table: Franklin Storage Cabinet Triple Drawer at Target and Home Depot
  6. Trash Can: Threshold Split Finish Orb Wastebasket in Silver at Target
  7. Diaper Pail:  Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail in Grey on Diapers.com (sold in many other stores).
  8. Paris Metro Pillow: Inspired by this tutorial on A Beautiful Mess but printed directly on fabric instead of iron-on.  Fabric is Crafter’s Image Photo Fabric on Jet.com
  9. Rug: Division rug by CB2.  NOTE: they will do price adjustments if it goes on sale within 14 days from when it’s delivered.  You have to call customer service.
  10. Animal Drawer Pulls: Inspired by this tutorial from Apartment Therapy using this tub of safari animals from Toys R Us and painted with Krylon Premium Metallic spray paint in gold.  Secured using bolts and Gorilla Glue from Home Depot.  The glue is important — the animals and bolts would have spun without it.
  11. Drawer Liner: Contact Shelf Liner in Scribble Black at Target
  12. Constellation Wall: Inspired by this technique by Vintage Revivals and this constellation wall by Young House Love.  I used silver oil-based Sharpie Paint Pens.  These paint pens are widely sold, but I had to go to an art store to get the size and colors I wanted without having to buy a package.
  13. Constellation Book: The Stars by H.A. Rey ordered from my local bookseller but it can also be found on Amazon
  14. Built-in Shelf Parts: Four tall white Besta Frames, two short white Besta Frames, four white Hanviken doors, four sets of Besta hinges, twelve white Besta shelves, at Ikea.  2×4’s for the base, wood screws, baseboards, molding, paint, too many drywall anchors and screws to count, Simple Seal 9 oz. White Paint Projects Sealant (caulking without needing a caulking gun), all from Home Depot.
  15. Built-in Shelf Inspiration: Inspiration from A Kailo Chic Life and The Naptime Reader (minus the big TV part in the middle), using some caulking tips from BrittanyMakes (photos not available in post, see this pin).
  16. Elephant Bookend: Zuny Classic Series Elephant Tan Animal Bookend at Amazon
  17. Cabinet Bins: Besta Large and Small boxes, by Ikea
  18. Cabinet Hardware: Liberty Soft Brass Ava Cabinet Knobs at Home Depot
  19. Curtains: Nunnerfört curtains in navyTidpunkt curtain rod set, by Ikea (hemmed myself on the sewing machine)
  20. Camera: Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera
  21. Star Wars Cross Stitch: Empire Strikes Back Cross-Stitch pattern from knottybytes on Etsy.  Subtracted Boba Fett and added Obi-Wan from the New Hope pattern (edited Obi-Wan myself).
  22. Embroidery Hoop Framing: 5-inch Bamboo Embroidery Hoops at Michaels using this framing tutorial from Floss and Mischief.
  23. Clock: Threshold 6″ Brass Wall Clock at Target
  24. Paris Skyline Canvas Print: Paris Skyline Art Print Canvas by lauraamiss on Etsy
  25. Brass Pedestal Frame: Room Essentials Pedestal 4″ x 6″ Brass Frame at Target

How to Use Travel Insurance to Plan Pregnancy Travel

Travel Insurance for Pregnancy

You want to take a trip.  You’re pregnant.  Or you might be pregnant by then.  Does that mean you can’t plan any travel?

No!  Plan away!  But it’s time to learn about travel insurance.

This post is meant to cover the following situation:  I will be pregnant or may be pregnant during the trip.  I want to take the trip, but what if something happens healthwise before or I just don’t feel like taking the trip?  On the other hand, I may be fine so I want to plan on going unless something happens.

This post is not meant to cover insurance to help if something happens to you while you are on the trip pregnancy-wise.  There are policies out there that cover this, but I do not have personal experience with them.  Keep in mind that for many insurance policies it matters whether or not you were pregnant at the time you bought the policy.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance sounds scary, but it can be a really useful tool.  It can be a bit tricky buying the right policy but it can be done!

Cancel for Any Reason Coverage

“Cancel for Any Reason” coverage means you can cancel the trip for any reason.  It’s more expensive than other travel insurance policies since it covers more, but it can protect you if you can’t or don’t want to travel when the time comes.

Most other policies may not cover you if you knew you were pregnant when you bought the policy or want to cancel the trip because you became pregnant.  Make sure the policy you are looking at is “Cancel for Any Reason” not just generic “Trip Cancellation.”  Pregnancy and childbirth are very often exceptions to general trip cancellation policies.

There is a Tight Deadline

Here’s the kicker: you have to act fast.  Once you make a purchase toward the trip, the clock starts.  This means a deposit, that first hotel reservation, plane tickets, whatever it is where you are spending actual money on the trip.

Each travel insurance company has different deadlines.  The most common I’ve seen is 14-21 days from the “date of first deposit” or the date you first buy something.  The longest I’ve seen is 30 days.  Do not miss this deadline.  I missed the 21-day deadline by hours for my trip to London because I did the math wrong.  I had to go with a company that had a 30-day window and it was more expensive.

How Much Will It Cost?

Lots of factors go into this including the age of the traveler and cost of the trip.  The good news is that most sites will give you a free quote once you punch in the details.

Here’s an example using RoamRight, which who I tend to use.  RoamRight is not paying me to post this and I’m not suggesting you go with them.  This is just an example!

On the homepage, enter in the details for your trip.  Below is an example for a trip for 2 with $5000 in nonrefundable costs.

Travel Insurance for Pregnancy

Three quotes are returned.  I usually go with Preferred because I have credit card and other insurance that covers other items I need.  I never buy Essential because it does not have an option for the Cancel for Any Reason upgrade.

Travel Insurance for Pregnancy

Note the prices quoted do not include the Cancel for Any Reason upgrade.  You have to click down and see the additional cost to add it.

Travel Insurance for Pregnancy

The total cost to insure my fictional trip is $368 ($230 plus the $138 Cancel for Any Reason upgrade).  Simply click through, enter your personal and payment information and you’re done!

Travel Insurance for Pregnancy

I get it, $368 isn’t a small amount of money.  To me the cost is worth it so I can plan trips without worrying that my pregnancy will put me out thousands in nonrefundable plane fares.  I’d also rather spend the money instead of not traveling at all during pregnancy.

Other Tips

I insure only the non-refundable portions of the trip.  It brings the cost of the insurance down.  There’s no reason to go through making an insurance claim on a refundable hotel reservation if I can simply call the hotel to cancel.

If the trip cost goes up, I call and adjust the policy.  I estimate how much coverage we need and buy the policy.  If the non-refundable part of the trip costs more than anticipated, I call the insurance company and adjust.

Please note I’m not an insurance agent and this is just my experience, not insurance advice.  You should do your own research into insurance policies before buying.

Travel Insurance for Pregnancy

Scrapbook Layout: 10th Wedding Anniversary

10th Anniversary Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

The Story:  We celebrated a big one this year!! 1-0!

One scrapbook page for every anniversary:  We take a picture on each of our anniversaries and I turn it into a scrapbook layout and add it to the end of our wedding scrapbook.  I love how the scenery changes and we have changed over the years.

Guest book cards: As usual, I picked one “guest book card” that was signed by a wedding guest and included it on the page.  Read more about why we used guest book cards here.

More to scrapbook later: I have more pictures of our party and more thoughts that I will likely put into our 2016 scrapbook.  This page is to simply mark the year and matches all of its compadres in the Anniversary section (see below).

Previous Years:  Anniversaries 1-6, Anniversary 7, Anniversary 8, Anniversary 9.

Want to see my entire wedding scrapbook?  Check it out here.

10th Anniversary Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Garamond | Tools: Epson Stylus R2000 (photo), Silhouette SD (headline) | Supplies: Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photo), DCWV Silver & Pearl Shimmer Stock, SEI White Elegance (paper) | Keepsakes Included: guest book card.

Pregnant and Traveling: London Booked at 7 Months

Baby on Board London

I am traveling to London for business soon!  I wanted to go early in the pregnancy but it didn’t work out.  I’ll be taking off on a 10-hour flight just shy of 28 weeks (or 7 months along).  Given the choice between flying while really pregnant or having to go later and leave a baby behind, I’m choosing the former.

What can possibly be going through my head having scheduled this?  This:

Assuming I can until I can’t.  Just like with my trip to Australia, I’m assuming I can travel as normal unless my body or this baby tell me I can’t.  I easily could have not scheduled the trip not knowing how I would feel.  But what if the 28th week rolled around and I felt fine?

Carefully reviewing the rules.  Different airlines have different rules about how far into the pregnancy you can travel.  Some require a doctor’s note after a certain point.  My airline requires a note at 28 weeks.  While I don’t technically need one on the way there, I will carry one.  I recommend carrying one if you’re showing even if your entire trip will occur before the deadline — you never know what a gate agent will say.

Insuring the trip and making cancellable reservations.  All of my hotel reservations can be cancelled and refunded.  I’ve insured the parts that are coming out of my pocket and not the company’s.  Pregnancy is a tricky thing and not covered by all travel insurance policies, especially if you are pregnant at the time you make the reservations.  I’ve purchased a “cancel for any reason” policy which will allow me to stop the trip if I just don’t feel up to going.

Mr. P is coming along.  He’s not coming just because I’m pregnant, though I’m much happier to have him with me.  We try and travel together always, even if one of us is on business if we can swing it.  I’m glad he’ll be looking out for me!

Being aware of my health coverage options if something goes wrong.  Without getting into too much minutiae, I will be fine if I need medical care or emergency evacuation abroad.  I’ll make sure and know what to do and where to go if I need help.

Adjusting our leisure time.  We’ll have two weekends to ourselves.  In non-pregnant circumstances, we’d probably take two weekend trips as far as we could get.  We’re still taking a trip one of the weekends, but it’s a bit less ambitious.  Even if I’m a spry pregnant lady at that point, I’m sure I’ll be tired so it’s a good compromise.

How will it turn out?  I have no idea but I’m hopeful.  I’ll keep you in the loop!

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. 

Image courtesy Leon Brocard via Creative Commons license.

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.


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.