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!
This past weekend saw two get-togethers of volunteers from Natural Parents Network. One, unfortunately for me, was in Kansas City – I thought about flying out by myself with a four-year-old and four-month-old, but good sense nixed the idea.
We realized we had plenty of volunteers in the Pacific Northwest to make our own meet-up, dang it, so that's what we did!
I'll share a few pictures and stories from our Seattle get-together, and at the bottom of this post is a link-up to all the other volunteers who have chosen to blog about the gatherings. If you're curious about what it's like to meet bloggy friends in real life, read on!
Northwest volunteers at the gathering (click photo to see larger), clockwise from top left: Arpita of Up, Down & Natural; Stefanie of very, very fine & George; Lauren of Hobo Mama & Alrik; Amy of Anktangle & Daniel; Mikko; Moorea of MamaLady & Iris; Shannon H. of Pineapples & Artichokes & Moira; Kristin of Intrepid Murmurings (her three girls at home with their dad); Jennifer W. of True Confessions of a Real Mommy & L2 (L1 was there, too, but not pictured, & L3 is on the inside! Shannon & Stefanie are also enceinte, though it's hard to tell from the picture, and I have just proven I read romance novels by using that term.)
Aren't they a beautiful bunch?
They're just as lovely in person as in the photo.
As we were planning our meet-ups, we all had a simultaneous desire to blurt out all the ways we were wrong, and eco-unfriendly, and bad parents, and a total fail — just in case everyone else was all put together and was coming to the get-togethers just to judge us. As it turns out, we all had nothing to fear.
(Well, I think. I haven't read everyone's get-together posts yet. Maybe one's a huge exposé about me. A girl can hope.)
No, instead it was like — finding a tribe. And you never knew it existed right here in your own neck of the woods. It just needed claiming.
I hope we grow closer and have more of these meet-ups, and I hope some of you reading along and yearning for the same will consider joining our NPN Team, volunteering in whatever way you feel led. We would love to include you.
Ok, in lieu of writing a novel, here are some more pictures from the weekend:
Arpita (pronounced AR-pith-a) and Amy (with her family) stayed at my place, which was like having a little slumber party. Woohoo!
Amy got there first, and we were totally talking away when all of a sudden I was like, "What time is it??" And I realized we were late to pick up Arpita, coming in from Victoria on the Clipper. Because we are just that good at being hosts. And she was totally cool with it, because she is that kind of lady.
My children now adore her, of course. Arpita blogs at Up, Down & Natural about her 3+ years of trying to conceive and dealing with infertility, and yet she still helps out at Natural Parents Network and joins in the Carnival of Natural Parenting and does things like send Alrik a whole stash of adorable diapers (see below) and just in general pass on love to the universe, even as she struggles with her own repeated heartache. That universe better send her back a baby soon, is what I'm saying.
Amy is such a good friend I can't believe we met only this year. She came up from Portland to help me before Alrik's birth, which was a very communal thing to do, and she's now Lead Editor of NPN. She's also a nurse-turned-WAHM, a birth doula, and an all-around lovely person. Can you tell she attracts babies?
This picture of Amy, Jaymz, and Daniel is so perfect that I have to pat myself on the back for taking it at the same time I'm laughing. It looks like we took a side trip to JC Penney Photo Studios in the middle of the get-together. I swear, no one is sitting on a velvet-draped, adjustable stool in this photo.
The gathering was at Moorea's house, on the left here shooting the breeze with Kristin. Moorea is pronounced more-RAY-a. I learn so much from these gatherings.
We ate a bunch of yummy food …
… talked … (Kristin & Stefanie)
… played … (Nathan & George)
… read … (Sam & Mikko)
… admired the home of Moorea, Karolyn, & Iris …
… enjoyed other people's toys … (Sam & Alrik)
… took care of our kids in ways our partners couldn't … (Alrik & me)
… rode a horse … (hey, it was popular! Moira's turn here)
… locked people in … (Mikko is irresistibly drawn to gates)
… got locked in and narrowly missed finger amputation when Mikko tried to open the gate … (to be fair, this happened only to poor L2 here)
… bored our partners, let's assume … (Walker with Moira, Sam with Mikko, and George cruising by)
… admired penmanship …
… and loved on babies. (Kristin with Alrik)
But most significantly, perhaps, we connected with the other NPN gathering, way over in Kansas City, as well as some lone and lonely volunteers, through Google+ Hangout!
Getting the computer set up wasn't as simple as we'd hoped. It took some techy assistance to get online.
It's not a blogger meetup without someone messaging other bloggers by phone. Jennifer let the Kansas City crowd know about the delay.
Amy went old-school-ish and phoned Dionna to let her know to hold on.
But, finally, we were live! (Daniel with Amy, Jaymz in background; Shannon with Moira; me with Alrik)
It was a little chaotic, but we group-chatted with the KC crowd as well as Jennifer of Hybrid Rasta Mama (seen in the large window here), Lani of Boobie Time, Julia of A Little Bit of All of It, Melissa of The New Mommy Files, and Luschka of Diary of a First Child (where we totally embarrassed her and ourselves by Loving Her Accent, but we can't help it), and saw Darcel of The Mahogany Way flicker in and out.
Here are the people we were chatting with in the Midwest (click photo to see larger):
I'll mention only the volunteers; the family members will just be assumed, since I don't know who all likes names mentioned online: Jorje of Momma Jorje, The Artful Mama, Amanda of Let's Take the Metro, Dionna (& Tom) of Code Name: Mama, Acacia, Amy of Anktangle (yes, she was in two places at once — spoooky!), Chris & Rebekah of Liberated Family, Amy of Peace 4 Parents, and Laura of WaldenMommy.
Alrik took his nap while he nursed and I chatted — he never unlatched and I couldn't sit down or he'd wake up!
For no good reason, I now present you with two further pictures:
Sam looking unbearably earnest …
… and Alrik looking irresistibly adorable.
After the gathering, our family went out with Arpita and Amy and her family for a final meal and some celebratory wine from Melodie of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! who sent it over the Puget Sound with Arpita.
Arpita knows I love her sock monkeys. Guess what she did? She brought my boys two of her handmade, totally charming sock monkeys. Do they lurve them as much as I do? Let's let the picture do the talking:
So that's my NPN get-together story. Are you inspired yet to come alongside us?
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:
Arpita at Up, Down & Natural writes Me And My Ladies ~ First Annual NPN Team Gathering. Also find Arpita on Twitter and Facebook.
Midwest Gathering Attendees:
Amy at Peace 4 Parents writes The Value of Parent-to-Parent Support, Truth, Love, and Healing. Also find Amy on Twitter and Facebook.
Fabulous NPN Volunteers who were unable to attend:
Darcel at The Mahogany Way writes The Natural Parents Network Gathering I Couldn't Attend. Find Darcel on Twitter and Facebook.
Photo credits can be seen by hovering your mouse over the pictures.
I linked to the blog of the photographer when possible,
except when Sam or I took the picture. Because you're already here.