Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meeting my NPN friends

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!

Natural Parents Network NW volunteers
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 & Amy talk before NW NPN gtg
Arpita (pronounced AR-pith-a) and Amy (with her family) stayed at my place, which was like having a little slumber party. Woohoo!

Arpita after NW NPN gtg
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.

Arpita after NW NPN gtg
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.

Alrik a4mo baby in diaper before NW NPN gtg

Amy & babies at NW NPN gtg
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?

Amy Reiswig & family at NW NPN gtg
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.

NW NPN gtg
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.

NW NPN gtg
We ate a bunch of yummy food …

NW NPN gtg

NW NPN gtg
… talked … (Kristin & Stefanie)

NW NPN gtg
… played … (Nathan & George)

NW NPN gtg
… read … (Sam & Mikko)

NW NPN gtg
… admired the home of Moorea, Karolyn, & Iris

NW NPN gtg
… enjoyed other people's toys … (Sam & Alrik)

NW NPN gtg
… took care of our kids in ways our partners couldn't … (Alrik & me)

NW NPN gtg
… rode a horse … (hey, it was popular! Moira's turn here)

NW NPN gtg
… locked people in … (Mikko is irresistibly drawn to gates)

NW NPN gtg
… 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)

NW NPN gtg
… bored our partners, let's assume … (Walker with Moira, Sam with Mikko, and George cruising by)

NW NPN gtg
… admired penmanship …

NW NPN gtg
… 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!

NW NPN gtg
Getting the computer set up wasn't as simple as we'd hoped. It took some techy assistance to get online.

NW NPN gtg
It's not a blogger meetup without someone messaging other bloggers by phone. Jennifer let the Kansas City crowd know about the delay.

NW NPN gtg
Amy went old-school-ish and phoned Dionna to let her know to hold on.

NW NPN gtg
But, finally, we were live! (Daniel with Amy, Jaymz in background; Shannon with Moira; me with Alrik)

NW NPN gtg
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.

NW NPN gtg

Here are the people we were chatting with in the Midwest (click photo to see larger):
Kansas City NPN gtg Natural Parents Network Team
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.

NW NPN gtg
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:

NW NPN gtg
Sam looking unbearably earnest …

NW NPN gtg
… 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:

NW NPN gtg

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:

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.

Arpita at Up, Down & Natural writes Me And My Ladies ~ First Annual NPN Team Gathering.  Also find Arpita on Twitter and Facebook.

Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings writes Seattle Bloggy Meetup & Gluten-free Shortbread! Also find Kristin 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.

Moorea at MamaLady: Adventures in Lesbian Parenting writes The Natural Parents Are Coming! Hide the Stroller!

Midwest Gathering Attendees:

Dionna at Code Name: Mama writes Wanted: More NPN Volunteers in Kansas City! Also find Dionna on Twitter and Facebook!

Jorje at Momma Jorje writes Vacation Weekend with Volunteers.  Also find Jorje on Facebook!

Amy at Peace 4 Parents writes The Value of Parent-to-Parent Support, Truth, Love, and Healing.  Also find Amy on Twitter and 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

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children writes First Natural Parents Network Get Together.

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.

Luschka at Diary of a First Child writes Dear Screen Name, Are You Really My Friend? Find Luschka on Twitter and Facebook.

Darcel at The Mahogany Way writes The Natural Parents Network Gathering I Couldn't Attend.  Find Darcel 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.

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.


Adrienne said...

Oh, how I wish I could have been at either one of those gatherings! What great pictures, hilarious captions, and yes, that was a bit confusing/creepy to see Amy at both gatherings. :) So glad you all could do that...sigh...maybe next time.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Such great pictures, and I'm totally bummed I couldn't attend the NW meeting too :( Next time!!!

Momma Jorje said...

Definitely not the last gathering of its kind! It was so awesome to hang out in person and even to stay away from a computer (and television) for that long! I meant to mention that, actually.

Great photos! I wish Google + Hangout hadn't been so... chaotic. That is the same word I used.

Unknown said...

I guess speedy travel is one of my superpowers...never fear!

I love our JC Penny family portrait--thanks for taking it! =D

It was all a lot of fun. I only wish we all lived closer so we could hang out on a regular basis.

melissa said...

Thanks for taking all of the fabulous pictures you did. It was sad not to be a part of the live event, but I have so enjoyed looking at these snapshots and all the others. I'm honored to be a part of this "tribe"! xo

Luschka said...

STUNNING pictures Lauren. It seems my NPN tombstone will read 'she had a great accent. we will miss her voice.' :D

Shannon said...

Moira was very taken with Mikko (or his toys, it was hard to tell). She was frequently hovering around him watching patiently, which is not her strong suit.
I was so excited to meet you. I hope we all don't have to wait a year to meet up again.

Melodie said...

Thanks for sharing the fun blog-style. Sorry again to have missed it. Hope you all enjoyed the wine. And make sure you let me know if you ever come to the island!

teresa said...

I'm suddenly struck with the immense task this must have been to coordinate!! Props to all on that one!
Love the photos. I've only seen AMy's so far. You had lots of good extras.
The last two of your boys are precious. Mikko is already one of my favorite faces in the world, but that last one of Alrik... Unbelievable!!

Darcel @ The Mahogany Way said...

I am so upset that I missed this! I couldn't get in on the chat, I kept going in and out. Feels good to find a tribe, doesn't it? I'm so glad everyone had a great time.

mythreewonders said...

How fun! I am trying to get back into developing my relationships with bloggers I love and admire, and hopefully will continue to have time to do that for the next meet-up! :) Time, it is a constantly moving target.

melissa v. said...

Gar, I wish I could've gone! It looks fun, but there's always next year! AND Arpitha is from Victoria??? Jeepers she's next door to me (sorta) and I was there just two weeks ago...
Melodie and I are friends (online) but now I have TWO Victoria NPNer friends. How cool is that?

Next year I need more warning!!! =) And I'm COMING! Come hell or high water...

melissa v. said...

p.s. WTH is up with Amy being in two places at once? There's got to be an inside joke I'm not getting here...

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

Some of my favorite bloggers together! I makes me smile. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I'm trying to get my spoons in order to begin contributing to NPN. Seeing this great group is both intimidating and inspiring <3 said...

This is so cool. You ladies are inspirational, amazing, and beautiful! I love this! I really get teary eyed thinking that a community like this has come together just online! There really are wonderful things technology can do when in the hands of amazing mamas.

Like Zoie, I would love to contribute to NPN too. But where do you ladies find the time? Props to you all. For doing all that you do. And thanks :)

Oh--and when did Alrik get so huge and adorable? He has his boy face--the non-newborn one where you can tell what he's going to look like! So cute.

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