Immediately after we found out baby unofficially was a girl, we started calling her Nola. We didn't really try to keep it a secret either; when people asked, we happily offered our name choice. As a result, we - and our friends and families - have already attached meaning and memories to her name, and she is known as Nola (aren't we in trouble if the ultrasound was wrong - that actually isn't uncommon!). I had trouble selecting stories to share, but ultimately decided on these two: the first is about meaning, and the second is a memory.
THE FATEFUL SHEET MUSIC
We were lucky enough to have two occasions to celebrate Nola - in Columbus and in DC, and both at alcohol-themed locations. The Columbus shower, thrown by Christina and Mom, was especially wonderful because many family members and friends whom we don't see often were able to come. This list of travelers included my Aunt Eileen and Uncle Jim. When I told Eileen we were having a baby named Nola, she was ecstatic and immediately shared with me a Youtube video of a remake of the 1916 song, Nola, by Felix Arndt. Nola had a song? NO way. At the time, I had no idea how much meaning the song would carry... This story comes from one Aunt Eileen told me at the shower.
A long time ago, almost further back than I can remember, my mom's (and Eileen's) parents lived in an old farmhouse in rural Ohio. Their house was amazing. They had tons of land, and the house and surrounding woods and farmland were always fun to explore. They moved when I was still pretty young, first to Florida and then to Georgia, where Eileen and Jim had settled after their time in the army. When they left Ohio, Grandma and Grandpa had an auction to sell the house, furniture, property, and many of their belongings. Among the items up for auction were reams of sheet music for the piano. Eileen played, and as items started rolling out, she decided to keep some. Nonchalantly, she took a pile and tucked it away.
Over the years, she has continued to play the piano. One day after talking to me about Nola, she sat down to play and was going through some music and came across the pile she took from the auction all those years ago. She shuffled through it: of all the music she could have grabbed, and of all the times in the years between she could have come across it, at this particular time out of the pile fell sheet music for Felix Arndt's Nola. Straight from Grandma's and Grandpa's piano!
For the shower, she and Jim framed the original sheet music for us. She wrote down the story, which i stored in the back of the frame for Nola to read when she grows up. We hung the music on the wall above Nola's crib.
A NOLA THEMED BABY SHOWER
Two very sweet DC friends decided to have a shower for us. It was a non-traditional couples shower held at All Souls, a little bar in Shaw. Their plan sounded perfect and very fitting for us - they requested everyone bring a onesie representing his or her own Alma Mater to broaden Nola's awareness beyond Ohio State (good effort ladies), a gift to inspire worldly adventure, and a personal favorite children's book. I'd have to write a whole separate post to convey how special and thoughtful those gifts were, but for now I'll stay focused: Drew and I arrived at All Souls to a completely NOLA (as in the city)-themed baby shower!
Our friends really went all out. They had a mardi gras color scheme, beads (like the ones I'm wearing in the picture of Drew and me opening gifts), and one of the girls made a traditional King Cake (pictured above) and even hid a plastic baby in it. They designed a game, too: to obtain beads, everyone had to share an embarassing story about his or her childhood. We even got a NOLA onesie (don't worry, the friend who bought that followed the rules - she also got a Northwestern one). It was so much fun!
I can't wait until Nola is born so we can share these - and other - stories and memories with her.