Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meeting the NPN Family

On the weekend of October 8 some of the amazing women and men who work hard to make Natural Parents Network the wonderful community and resource that it is got together for a meet-up at two locations across the U.S. — the Midwest and the Northwest. This was the first time that many of the volunteers have met in person after a year of collaborating on this amazing website. Please scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of links so that you can read what some of the other volunteers had to say about this incredible First Annual Natural Parents Network Team Get-Together!

I traveled across the country with Daniel to visit Dionna from Code Name: Mama, and at the end of the week was the much-anticipated Natural Parents Network volunteers' gathering. Of approximately 60 volunteers, 21 of us (plus some partners and kids) were able to attend either of two gatherings, one in Missouri and one in Washington. Some of the people who weren't able to travel to either of the gatherings were able to join in on a video chat with the two larger groups on Sunday afternoon. I ended up getting to attend both gatherings, which was super lucky, so I got to meet everyone!

(The stripey green one on the far left is the one I made.)
On Saturday morning, I had breakfast with Shannon of The Artful Mama and her son, Jorje of Momma Jorje and her husband and daughter, and Amanda of Let's Take the Metro and her two daughters (as well as Dionna and her family). Shortly after that, people began to arrive, including Rebekah and Chris of Liberated Family and their children, Laura of Walden Mommy and her husband and four children, and Amy of Peace 4 Parents and her partner and four children.

We had a delicious brunch and used freezer paper stencils to decorate clothing. The kiddos played together in the yard (except Daniel, who slept in the Boba on my back...too much excitement) while the parents visited. It was really lovely!

My henna a couple of days
ago...still very vibrant!
Soon after, Joni Rae from Tales of a Kitchen Witch arrived with her four children. I was inside finishing up getting packed when she walked in, and I was very excited that I didn't leave before getting to meet her. She offered to do a quick henna design for me before I left, and I (of course) accepted. She created this beautiful design on my foot in less than five minutes. (Check out the other NPNers' posts to see more of her gorgeous henna work!)

Dionna put together goodie bags for the attendees of the gathering, filled with generous donations from "green" and baby friendly companies. I'd like to personally thank the following companies for their contributions to the Natural Parents Network volunteers (and please show them some love, too!):
Here we are! (Most of us, anyway.)
We took a quick group photograph before I had to leave, and then Dionna, Kieran, Daniel, and I rushed out the door to the airport. I'm sorry that I couldn't have stayed longer to spend time getting to know all of these lovely volunteers and their families better, but it was time for Daniel and me to get home to the Pacific Northwest.

I loved this photo of Jaymz playing
with Daniel, Mikko, and Alrik!
Daniel and I had some trouble getting on the plane (because I didn't have his birth certificate), and then we caught some flack once we were finally on there from a few grumpy passengers. But we made it home safely and quickly and met Jaymz at the airport. He retrieved my checked suitcase while I stayed with the car, and then we were all off to Seattle!

After having dinner on the road, we arrived at Lauren from Hobo Mama's house around 8PM, and we chatted for a while. Sam picked up Arpita (of Up, Down & Natural) from her ferry and we all got to visit for a while before bed. (This is where I should tell you again that Lauren has the most comfortable sofa bed I've ever slept on. It was lovely!)

On Sunday, Sam prepared us a delicious breakfast and we lounged around the house, visiting and playing with the kiddos. I really enjoyed chatting with Arpita and spending time with Lauren.

After a low-key day at home, it was time to go over to Moorea's (of MamaLady) house for the afternoon gathering of the Pacific Northwest folks. Moorea's home is gorgeous, and there was a beautiful and delicious spread of (very allergy friendly) wholesome foods contributed by everyone who attended.

Along with Moorea and her wife and daughter, I got to meet Kristin of Intrepid Murmurings (who came sans her three kids), Shannon from Pineapples and Artichokes and her husband and little one, Stefanie of Very, Very Fine and her partner and son, and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy and her husband and sons.

Lauren multitasking! (I can totally relate to this...even now.)
We ate and visited with each other (and spent a while trying to fix an internet connectivity issue) then it was time to video chat with the others! We connected with the Midwest group as well as Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama, Lani of Boobie Time, Luschka from Diary of a First Child (who has the most lovely voice!), Melissa of The New Mommy Files, and Julia of A Little Bit of All of It. Darcel from The Mahogany Way also tried to join in a couple of times, but there must've been a connection difficulty. It was challenging to hear everyone, with the group noise in the background, but it was still really neat to see a lot of us in (sort of) the same place. I hope we can start having a standing date for a team video chat, so that we can get to see and interact with each other on a more regular basis.

A couple other photos of me/us from the Northwest gathering:

I was cuddling with Alrik,
and Daniel wanted to get in on the action

Lauren took this lovely family photo. Thanks!

We all eventually went our separate ways, after taking a group photograph:

Bloggers and babies!
It's funny, meeting people that I know on the internet, because we already know each other well in some ways, but in other ways not as much. For instance, if you know someone primarily via text and photographs, you probably don't know what their voice sounds like. You also probably don't know exactly how tall they are, and you may not even know how to pronounce their name (though you might think you do). These are all silly things that surprised me as I was meeting these people I've gotten to know through their writing (and through chatting on Facebook) over the past year or so. I know I'm not the only one who was surprised to discover that her bloggy friend was taller (or shorter) than she appears in photographs!

In any case, I had a great time at both gatherings, and it was lovely to get to meet everyone who could be there (in person or via video chat). I feel even more connected to all the wonderful people who help keep Natural Parents Network running smoothly each day, and I look forward to getting to know you all even better.

I feel truly privileged to have met each of you.

To learn more about all the members of the Natural Parents Network team, visit our about page. To become a volunteer for NPN, first please check out what we're in need of, then contact us if you're interested in helping out. Here's information about some of our lovely volunteers, including all of those who are writing about the gathering today:

In The First Annual Natural Parents Network Cross-Country Get Together, Natural Parents Network thanks the many volunteers who made our first annual get-together a success, and the awesome companies who donated to fill "welcome bags" for the Midwest group.

Northwest Gathering Attendees:
Lauren at Hobo Mama writes Meeting My NPN Friends.  Also find Lauren on Twitter and Facebook!
Amy at Anktangle writes Meeting the NPN Family.  Also find Amy on Twitter and Facebook.
Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writes Meeting Those People.... Also find Jennifer on Twitter.
Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes writes Thanks.

Midwest Gathering Attendees:
Jorje at Momma Jorje writes Vacation Weekend with Volunteers.  Also find Jorje on Facebook!
Amanda at Let's Take the Metro writes The Gathering.  Also find Amanda on Facebook.
Joni Rae at Tales of Kitchen Witch writes The One Where I Go to the NPN Gathering.  Also find Joni Rae on Twitter and Facebook
Rebekah & Chris at Liberated Family.  Also find Rebekah & Chris on Twitter.

Fabulous NPN Volunteers who were unable to attend:
Melissa at The New Mommy Files writes Building a Modern Day Village.  Find Melissa on Twitter and Facebook.
Rachael at The Variegated Life.  Find Rachel on Twitter and Facebook.
Sarah at Parenting God's Children. Find Sarah on Twitter and Facebook.
Julia at A Little Bit of All of It. Find Julia on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. I was also left with a feeling of wanting to know everyone more! I believe that some incredible friendships have been deepened and/or started - what a beautiful community we have :)

  2. It was definitely funny/odd when finding out you had a name wrong. It is hard to change the way you hear it in your head when you read it!

    And Dionna hit the nail on the head there, I especially enjoyed deepening the friendships I'd already opened in person.

    Such a wonderful community / tribe... I feel even more supported than ever! I think we're all jealous of YOU, though, Amy!! (for getting to meet BOTH regions!)

  3. It was funny, even through the video chat, I learned the correct pronunciation of some names I had wrong. It's funny how you can feel so close to a person without even being able to see their name properly!

    I think you win the award for cutest photo subject of the gatherings! Well, you may have to share your title with Alrik, but still. :)

  4. That family photo is amazing!! How nice to have such a good one.
    Love all the pictures and stories.
    And in the one with you and Alrik and Daniel you look absolutely glowing and beautiful.
    It gives me a warm feeling of community just sharing this time with you all through the posts.
    This group and Natural Parents Network is really special and the energy is particularly and intensly positive.
    love you all!!!

  5. Lol... most lovely voice ;) There's something I've NOT heard before :) Thank you - I'm loving reading your posts... almost makes me feel like I was there.

  6. Sounds like so much fun! That is awesome you went to both gatherings. I hope to meet you one day. If you ever come up to Victoria let me know!

  7. Reading these post is killing me! I really am glad you all got to meet. I'm so mad I couldn't get in on the chat. Another time I guess. Love the pics, especially that first one.

  8. I was so glad you turned right around and came to Seattle after your flight! It was so lovely to see you and spend time with your family, and I hope we can do it again soon.

    I second the comments about your radiance. You can see why babies love you!

    P.S. I still have to keep myself from saying Arpita wrong. :)

  9. I'll definitely have to make a trip to Victoria someday, @Melodie!

    Thank you all for the compliments! <3

    @Lauren: I'm still having trouble with the names, too! Our brains can be so stubborn when it comes to change. We'll definitely see each other again soon.

  10. You left out the part where you stealthily snuck out of your bedroom at Dionna's to see if Shannon and I had arrived and I saw only a blur of your image as you went back behind the door. Stealthy! Like a shark!

  11. @Amanda: LOL! I'm pretty sure what actually happened is that I needed to go to the bathroom, but my kid woke up crying before I could even get out the door. I'll definitely take stealthy & shark-like makes me sound much cooler.


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