NOLA-ing: #GiveNOLA Day

If you follow any profit organization, including museums, Audubon institutions, religious organizations, schools, parks, libraries, etc., you might have seen posts about GiveNOLA Day. GiveNOLA Day is a 24 hour event where nonprofit organizations ask for charitable donations to support their work. It is completely online and extremely successful; according to their website, last year, GiveNOLA raised nearly $4.9 million from 38,000+ donations across the nation!

This year, GiveNOLA Day takes place on May 1st. Although any day is a great day to be charitable and donate money to wonderful nonprofit organizations, if you donate on May 1st, you are not only participating in a region-wide fundraiser, there are awards and hourly prizes, in addition to lagniappe funds given to organizations. (Amount you raise ÷ Amount raised by ALL on May 1 = Your lagniappe fund percentage.) The nonprofits are divided into small and large categories, and for each of these categories, awards will be given to the five nonprofits that raise the most money AND the five nonprofits that raise the most unique donors. Two hourly prizes are awarded to any nonprofit organization that receives a donation of at least $10.

If you would like to donate, go to GiveNOLA on May 1st and search by either name, service area, or parish for the nonprofit organization to whom you would like donate. You can even browse all of the registered nonprofit organizations if you do not have a specific one in mind. your credit or debit card to donate to any nonprofit that has registered to participate. You can search for a nonprofit by name, service area, or parish. Donations begin at $10, payable by debit or credit card, and there is no limit to the maximum size or number of donations you would like to make. You may give to as many different nonprofit organizations as you would like! Your bank statement will read as “Greater New Orleans Foundation,” “GNOF,” or a similar abbreviation and is 100% tax deductible.

To help celebrate GiveNOLA Day, there will be the GiveNOLA Fest on May 1st from 5-8pm at The Circle: Center for Philanthropy, 919 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans. Entry is free and attendees will enjoy music from Soul Rebels and Irma Thomas. A portion of proceeds from food and drink will benefit the Lagniappe Fund, which is distributed proportionally to all participating nonprofits based on total amount raised. Attendees can also enter to win one of two sets of Southwest Airlines tickets!

If you would rather hang out with Saints punter Thomas Morstead, he will be celebrating GiveNOLA Day at Sal’s Sno-Balls in Metairie by handing out free snoballs to help raise money for What You Give Will Grow. What You Give Will Grow hopes to inspire action behind the idea that giving back makes a difference and to inspire others to give.

Here are some of our favorite nonprofit organizations to which you can donate. Remember, there are over 700 total, so find a cause you are interested in and be generous!

Al Copeland Foundation https://www.givenola.org/al-copeland-foundation
American Italian Renaissance Foundation https://www.givenola.org/american-italian-renaissance-foundation
Audubon Nature Institute https://www.givenola.org/AudubonNatureInstitute
Bayou Playhouse https://www.givenola.org/bayouplayhouse
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans https://www.givenola.org/ccano
The Devon Walker Foundation https://www.givenola.org/TheDevonWalkerFoundation
Geeks Empowering Extraordinary Kids https://www.givenola.org/geeksforkids
The Green Project https://www.givenola.org/green-project
KATRINA NATIONAL MEMORIAL MUSEUM https://www.givenola.org/KNMFM
Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners https://www.givenola.org/louisiana-books2prisoners
The National WWII Museum https://www.givenola.org/wwiimuseum
NOMA https://www.givenola.org/noma
The Posse Foundation https://www.givenola.org/the-posse-foundation
STEM NOLA https://www.givenola.org/stem-nola
WYES-TV https://www.givenola.org/wyes
Youth Empowerment Project https://www.givenola.org/youth-empowerment-project
Zeus’ Rescues https://www.givenola.org/zeus-rescues

For a list of all of the nonprofit organizations, click here.

If you have any questions, please call 504.598.4663 to speak with a Greater New Orleans Foundation staff member or email givenola@gnof.org.

Comic Con-ing: Pensacon 2018

If you have read our recent previous posts, you know that we had our first child on the Thursday before Pensacon; needless to say, we could not personally attend! Thankfully, we have a wonderful friend who went in our stead. Here is his great recap below:

Hello Nola Nerd Couple readers!  I had the honor of filling in for the Nola Nerd Couple this year at Pensacon 2018 due to a new arrival, Nola Nerd Baby. So once I heard I would be heading to Pensacon, I immediately downloaded the Pensacon 2018 app on my phone to see all the things I was in store for.  I arrived early to beat the Friday crowd to get a feel for this year’s layout and I was impressed how well the limited space was utilized.  As Pensacon regulars know, the Pensacola Bay Center has a very unique floor plan, which I’m sure leads to many challenges for the Pensacon staff, but they successfully pulled off another great year.

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Introducing: Nola Nerd Baby – Addendum: A Father’s Story

Last week, my wife wrote about our journey to parenthood. It was a bumpy road, to say the least. I wanted to add a response to each blog from my point of view. Links to my wife’s blogs will be in each section title.

Response to Part I: Conception

Yes, we tried for a long time. Yes, all those things people say to you do not make you feel good. In fact, they have an opposite effect. People knew we were trying, and while I truly believe they meant well, saying a lot of those things leaves you feeling inadequate. My wife said she never cried when she got her period. That didn’t mean each cycle didn’t begin with an awkward silence and wondering. Wondering can lead to blaming. I never accused my wife of being the reason why were childless. I blamed myself. Toxic masculinity has a way of creeping into your brain. You start blaming yourself for your lack of being able to produce a child. Now, I did get tested around 2013, but I also turned forty that year. The next year I was diagnosed with palindromic rheumatism. I was already on the low side of average, so my brain kept telling me it was my fault and that my age and medications were hurting our chances even though I could not find any scientific evidence for that. That’s how strong and prevalent toxic masculinity can be. Plus, who do I talk to about this? It’s not something we as men do even though we should. In fact, the day in April that we tested, I knew someone in the waiting room. We didn’t discuss it at all; in fact, we talked about everything but why were there. However, I did appreciate that he was there in that he was willing to do whatever it took to take his family in a new direction. It was unspoken, but we were both rooting for each other. I did have one friend, who knew that we were trying, discuss his struggles with me, so of course, I did open up about ours. That helped tremendously. Also, the good people at Audubon Fertility made us feel that this was an issue that we, as a team, could overcome. They never lied and didn’t promise us anything. Even on the day of conception, they were getting us mentally prepared for attempt two. It is their honesty, not the fact that we did get pregnant, that makes me recommend them to anyone that listens. And any guy reading this, remember you are not alone, and it doesn’t make you less of man to ask for help!

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One last thing, the day of conception I was a quiet, nervous wreck. I don’t think I’ve actually told this to Mrs. Nola Nerd. And when you think about it, there really was no real reason. I had been practicing for that moment since I was a teenager. Yes, it is awkward and not comfortable. It’s also very clinical. Breathe and give it the old college try.

And the day we found out, there was no awkward silence. We both cry loudly.

Response to Part II: Pregnancy

The pregnancy was normal pretty much until we told everyone….so about a week. Then after that, I felt I was on the reality show Wife Swap and the season lasted nine months. Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple was there, but she wasn’t. At first, she was sick all the time. Slowly, though I started to notice that she didn’t have crazy “hormonal mood swings.” She wasn’t having any swing in her mood whatsoever. She was constantly down. I wasn’t worried that she would hurt herself or the baby. I was worried she wouldn’t care if something did happen to her or the baby. She wasn’t excited about announcing the baby. In fact, she didn’t want to tell anyone. I wanted to tell the world. After the first trimester ended, I thought she might start to feel better physically which would lead to her feeling better emotionally. Actually, “emotionally” is a poor word choice. I was hoping she would become emotional.

I have dealt with depression and anxiety my entire adult life. I remember one time, a friend who meant well, told me to buck up and get back on the horse. I’ve been thinking about that phrase lately. Depressed people are not down or sad. We are stuck in a fog and can’t see our way out. To extend his metaphor, there is no horse to ride. And if there were, you wouldn’t know how to ride it until you get therapy or medication. It’s not a simple process.

Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple wrote that I confronted her with tears in my eyes. This is true. What she didn’t say was that I manipulated her. I put her in a situation where she couldn’t make a scene. One in which she had to confront the problem quietly and talk to me honestly. In education, we often are told to ask leading questions or structure our lesson so that the students figure out the problem on their own. I tried to do this with her. I knew that if I came on too strong, she would resist and shut down further. If I mansplained, she wouldn’t talk to me for a while. Luckily, she understood I was providing her a lifeline, I was not fixing it for her. I couldn’t. I could only just be there.

Thankfully her medical team of the OBGYN and psychiatrist understood. Also, my teaching schedule included study halls at the time my wife taught her AP classes. I’m certified in social studies, so she didn’t have to worry about that class. The courses I couldn’t take over our administration worked out for us. Also, our school system worked with us in setting up the best leave of absence plan that we could have used.

I wasn’t always perfect. I did push sometimes. I forced her to do the registry one day. She did it and was engaged, but I noticed no cute items were placed on the registry that day. They were the functional needs. However, she eventually became more excited and started putting the cute stuff on there. I did the same with the nursery. I pushed to get it ready; Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple did it when she was ready.

 

While she was put on an antidepressant, she was not put on anti-anxiety medication. She rarely had the panic attack that most people associate with anxiety (the one that looks like a heart attack). Her panic attacks where quieter. She would zone out in the scary silent seizure way. It took some time to recognize it.

A lot of things that we usually do for the blog, we didn’t get to do. First of all, by assuming Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s responsibilities along with my own, I had no time or energy to write anything. Talking was rough for her, so podcasts were out. Even if we could write or podcast, we would come back to the problem of not being able to do anything for the blog. It’s hard to write a blog about not doing things. Two of our most popular blogs each year is about Pensacon and my hometown’s Mardi Gras parade. We couldn’t attend either due to the issues she was having. Truthfully, Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple was a prisoner in her own home for nine months.

Did it hurt that she didn’t want to reach out to me for comfort? You are damn right it did. However, this was bigger than my hierarchy of needs according to Maslow. My wife was making me a tiny human and was miserable doing so. So yeah, I missed Richard Thompson in concert (twice) this past year. Who cares? It’s not like I won’t mention it when he comes again near here. 🙂

Part III: Birth and PostPartum

Since men have it easy during pregnancy and birth, I truly believe hospitals buy the most uncomfortable sleepers for men in the delivery and postpartum rooms. However, women are making us tiny perfect humans so I won’t complain anymore about it.

The process of birth for me was just getting out of the way of all these smart, powerful women in the room, including my wife. I just did what I was told. When Miss Nola Nerd Baby made her entrance into the world, it was the most perfect moment of my life. Everything was in its right place. She was gorgeous. I could go on and on with how great she is!

For the first five days, I tried to do everything I could so my wife could get some rest. Our baby was born on a Thursday; I was going back to work on a Wednesday. Then we had our first trip to the hospital on Tuesday.

If I could punch one person in my life, it would be our first ER doctor. He mansplained what high blood pressure was. We repeatedly told him it was preeclampsia. Our hospital’s web portal had it spelled out for us, so it was on his chart. We had a 5 day old with us in the ER. The nurse that asked why we showed up still makes me confused. If your blood pressure is near 200/120, aren’t you supposed to go the hospital? However, after that experience, we were taken care of fantastically. Thankfully, Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s OBGYN advocated strongly for her. We weren’t mad we had to go back after the first three days stay, because sometimes medicines don’t work. However, I really didn’t care for the way the on-call weekend OBGYN looked. He was very knowledgeable, but he was physically like a cross between McDreamy and McSteamy. Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple thought I was overreacting.

Before the birth of our baby, we would talk about how silly it sounds when people would say fathers were babysitting their own children. No, that’s called parenting. I know I’ve already made one of my hardest parenting decisions when I took our baby away from her mom. It was heart-wrenching. On the drive back to the hospital, Pearl Jam’s Wishlist came on the radio. I pulled into the parking lot and had an indie-movie cry in the parking lot. I had realized that if Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple had just gone to sleep instead of wanting to go to the hospital, there would have been a high chance I would have been a single father. If we wouldn’t have induced early, I may have been just single.

As far as taking care of our child, it wasn’t that hard. Our baby lets us know when she is unhappy. It’s all about paying attention. I didn’t do anything special. I was just being a parent.

Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple is still working on getting better. In fact, in the time between the publishing of her last blog and this one she had her medications changed again. She has a great general practitioner who truly listens to her and works with her on getting her better.

And we have our perfect little girl.

 

 

Comic Con-ing: Megacon – First Look

Megacon in Orlando, FL is over Memorial Weekend and we will be attending! This will be Nola Nerd Baby’s first convention, so we are excited to dress her in some baby cosplay and have her see the sights and sounds that make comic conventions so much fun. We love going to Megacon and we just know our daughter will love it as well! Let us look at some of the offerings at this year’s con.

The guest list this year is fantastic. Jeff Goldblum! Besides portraying The Grandmaster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he is the subject of that awesome meme from Jurassic Park! Not to mention, has the famous FaceBook page, The Same Photo of Jeff Goldblum Every Day. If you are into horror, like my husband, you will remember him from The Fly. He is a legend and I am stoked to be able to meet him and add him to my autograph collection! My sister and I are also doing a photo op, because, let’s face it, it is Jeff Goldblum. Jeff is appearing Saturday only.

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The amazing Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.

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NOLA-ing: NOLA Baby Firsts

If you follow cute New Orleans-centric stores like Fleurty Girl and NOLA Gifts and Decor, you might have seen the adorable NOLA Baby Firsts print by local artist Allie Behan. I ogled over this print on FaceBook, thinking that it would be a perfect keepsake to commemorate our daughter’s first NOLA experiences. From going to the zoo for the first time to eating her first crawfish or snoball, this print fits into our interests and lifestyle perfectly. Unfortunately, when I visited two different Fleurty Girl stores, they were sold out out of this popular print (they have since restocked). I was bummed, but figured I could wait; after all, it is not like she can do everything on the print yet.

Nola baby firsts

Image courtesy of Fleurty Girl.

A few days later at work, a coworker of ours gave us gift for our daughter. Happily, it was the NOLA Baby Firsts print! I think I squealed with delight when I saw it. It is so sweet to have such marvelous people in our daughter’s life. We are definitely blessed and started planning out when to start accomplishing some of these firsts. We then picked which first we thought we would accomplish last. My husband guessed her first Saints game since we have only ever been to one and that was during the preseason. I picked her first streetcar ride since in all my time living in and around New Orleans, I have never ridden the streetcar! Though maybe we will purposely ride one now, just to make sure we fulfill all of the firsts.

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Introducing: Nola Nerd Baby – Part 3: Birth and Postpartum

Click here to read part one – conception.

Click here to read part two – pregnancy.

Our baby was due on March 9th, 2018. Everyone says that first babies tend to stay in longer, so I hoped that I would give birth on 3/11. 311 is one of my favorite bands and I celebrate 311 Day every year (usually by going to their concert in New Orleans, but this year it was in Las Vegas and I was about to give birth), so having a 311 baby sounded awesome. I do not plan on having another child so this was my one shot! I joked that I would just cross my legs until the eleventh so I could have my 311 baby.

During January, I started having doctor’s appointments every other week to every week. And as the weeks went on, my blood pressure started getting higher and higher. I started monitoring it at home as well, and I would routinely get readings in the 150s/90s. Although I did not feel bad, my doctor started to worry about it. High blood pressure is the number one sign of preeclampsia and it can be fatal to the mother and the baby. Other risks include seizures, organ damage, HELLP syndrome, and placental abruption. The hospital conducted two non stress tests to make sure everything was okay with the baby (which it was), but my doctor warned me to be prepared to have an early delivery. When I went to my appointment on February 19th, my doctor told me I should come the next day to be admitted to the hospital to prepare to to have my baby. Thanks, blood pressure. So much for my 311 baby!

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NOLA-ing: New Orleans Tricentennial festivities

This year is a big one for New Orleans, as it officially marks the Tricentennial. The Big Easy’s 300th birthday is a year long celebration and this week has some extra-special happenings. We hope to attend a few of these occurrences over the course of the weekend.

NOLA Navy Week: The Tall Ships are coming! To help celebrate the Tricentennial, NOLA Navy Week is bringing up tall ships from not just the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, but from Great Britain and Canada as well.  VIP FastPass tickets available here. Here’s a schedule below of how to see them.

Thursday, April 19
12:00pm Tall ships arrive into downtown New Orleans. All times approximate. Ships will dock at Woldenberg Riverfront Park at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. (No public boarding day on day of arrival.
Friday, April 20
10:00am – 12:00pm Pre-arranged school and social groups
12:00pm – 5:00pm Tall ships open to the public. Admission is free.
Saturday, April 21
10:00am – 12:00pm Pre-arranged school and social groups
12:00pm – 5:00pm Tall ships open to the public. Admission is free.
Sunday, April 22
10:00am – 5:00pm Tall ships open to the public. Admission is free.
Saturday, April 21
6:45pm – 12:00am Tall Ships® Tricentennial Gala – Tall Ships celebrate NOLA’s 300th! On-deck and dock-side black-tie gala in Woldenberg Park. Tickets include drinks, food, dancing and fireworks over the River. Download the Gala invitation (PDF)
Monday, April 23
9:00am Tall ships depart New Orleans. Please note: Navy ships maintain a separate schedule. Visit: NOLA Navy Week for more information.

Tricentennial Dog Parade: The Saints’ mascot Gumbo will lead those “lucky dogs” that call New Orleans home down the streets around City Bark on Sunday, April 22. If you want your dog to participate, check-in is at 10am and the parade starts at 11am. There is also a costume contest for your cute pooch. Registration is $40/dog or $45/dog on site. According to the website:

Dress your dogs up to compete in the following costume contest categories: Best NOLA-centric Attire, Most “Fest”ive Pet, Funniest Costume, and Best Pet Duo (dog and owner). Prizes include tickets to Zoo-to-Do, a membership to NOLA City Bark, a $100 gift certificate to Metairie Small Animal Hospital, a 5-day pass to Dogtopia, a gift basket from Magazine Street Animal Clinic and more.

Tricentennial Citywide Family Reunion: On Sunday, April 22, a celebration of jazz music will occur with music, food, and a nighttime fireworks display at 9pm at City Park’s Big Lake at 9 p.m. In Armstrong Park, there will be performances by Mia Borders, Ivan Neville and Friends, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers and other local acts. A jazz stage in Congo Square (starting at 2 p.m.) will feature Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Patti Austin, Ledisi and other guests. Guests are welcome to bring their own food, drinks, blankets, and chairs to enjoy the festivities. If you cannot make it, they are filming the performances to be shown online as part of International Jazz Day on April 30.

If these festivities weren’t exciting enough, there is also Kenner’s Italian Heritage Festival.

Located at: 400 Blk of Williams Blvd. (from the River to the railroad tracks)

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With so many activities going on during this beautiful weekend, there is no reason to stay indoors!