Wanted: More NPN Volunteers in Kansas City!
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!
Last week I was privileged to host 11 volunteers (13 counting me and my hubby, Tom) from Natural Parents Network (and their families) here in Kansas City. At one point we had 37 people milling around my backyard. It was a blast!
There is so much I could gush about, it’s going to be hard to know when to stop. Here are some of the highlights I enjoyed with each guest:
- Acacia (formerly of Fingerpaint and Superheroes): Acacia has been one of my good friends for much longer than NPN has existed. Our sons have participated in a preschool cooperative for the past year together, we get together for play dates, and I love Acacia’s creative, fun spirit. I was so grateful that Acacia threw herself into the NPN get together planning with a vengeance – she helped with food (she makes an incredible frittata!), she organized two of our activities (parent/kid yoga and freezer stenciling), and she graced every single one of our events with her smiling presence. Also? Her son kept my son happy and playing all weekend long – with no naps. That in itself is a feat worthy of note.
- Amanda from Let’s Take the Metro: Amanda brought her two beautiful girls on a very, very long car ride to join us here. I was so grateful to have her calm presence in my home all weekend, and her daughters are delightful and loving! Sitting around the dining room table chatting and laughing with Amanda and Shannon on Saturday night was one of the highlights of my week. Amanda is much quieter in person than she is online (ha), but occasionally her sense of humor will bubble up and surprise you. This whole weekend was born out of one of our many late night NPN Team chats on Facebook, and Saturday night with Amanda and Shannon felt just as comfortable as sitting around joking and sharing via keyboard.
- Laura from WaldenMommy and Family, Life Behind the Red Front Door: Laura lives nearby, but we seem to never make a play date connection – that must change (if only so I can sweet talk her out of her zucchini bread recipe – ha)! Laura was also very helpful in my preparations for this week – she volunteered to bake her arse off – she made . . . 15? batches of various breads – cinnamon swirl, zucchini, and more for our brunch on Saturday morning. They were so yummy! She was also very warm and welcoming to all of the volunteers as they arrived on Saturday morning, it was nice to have a friendly local face to help me greet everyone.
- Amy from Anktangle: Amy stayed with us from Monday through Saturday. She took some beautiful pictures of my family at Antioch Park and at my midwife appointment, she graciously ate my limited gluten free meal repertoire, and she helped me wash and iron a plethora of fabric that I’m going to use to make curtains. But even better, we got to have fun – we went to the zoo with Mandy from Living Peacefully with Children, and to a pumpkin patch with Acacia (formerly of Fingerpaint and Superheroes). If only I could have kept her around a little longer! Amy’s son Daniel was such a sweetheart, and I’ll have his “bap!” and “mama!” toddlerese words singing in my head for ages.
- Amy from Peace 4 Parents: Amy’s entire family is such a joy to be around – Kieran loved playing with her children, and Tom and I are simply smitten with Amy and her husband Michael. One of the activities that served to connect everyone the most was a discussion about gentle parenting that Amy led on Sunday morning. It was planned to last for an hour or less, but many of us ended up sitting around outside talking (and crying) for almost three hours. Gentle/natural parenting is such an evolving journey for every parent, and I feel so blessed to have a role model like Amy to share with. Thank you, Amy, for being a comfort and a voice of wisdom for me.
- Mandy from Living Peacefully with Children: I consider Mandy one of my closest friends, and I am so thankful that she is also part of the NPN team. Mandy has been an integral part of my support system as I prepared for the NPN gathering – she’s been over at my house for hours stripping wallpaper and painting, she’s helped me entertain Kieran, she listens to me ramble on about paint choices and parenting woes, and most of all, she continues to be my gentle/peaceful parenting role model. For the gathering, Mandy and her family led our nature hike, which was gorgeous! She also brought delicious salad and black bean brownies to our cookout on Saturday night – you know you want the brownie recipe! Thank you for your continued friendship and support Mandy.
- Joni Rae from Tales of a Kitchen Witch: Joni Rae is one of those people who I wish lived across the street. She’s good people, and she has raised some wonderful kiddos. Joni Rae was so giving of herself all weekend – she’d made and brought henna to decorate the bodies of whoever so desired, and we all lined up to adorn ourselves with her artwork. You can check out pictures of my beautiful belly with Joni Rae’s henna art on yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post – I will be so sad when it fades! I’m already planning a trip to drive south and see Joni Rae and her family sometime in the near future – she will be a good friend.
- Jorje from Momma Jorje: Jorje is one of those social, engaging people who can make anyone feel welcome. I’ve come to know and love Jorje through our work on NPN as well as through our Team Facebook chats. Her warm personality is just the same in person as it is online! I think she spent time talking and listening to almost everyone who attended – she was my hostess “second,” and I appreciated her presence. She also brought an extra craft project for the kiddos that was a huge hit – shrinky dinks! I also appreciated her willingness to stay an extra night and help me vacuum and pick up after everyone had left! Jorje also has a beautiful pregnant belly that is now decorated with Joni Rae’s henna. I’m sure she’ll be posting pictures today, stop by and check them out.
- Rebekah and Chris from Liberated Family: Rebekah and Chris almost didn’t make it to the gathering, but we are so glad they came! They are such a peaceful couple, it is comforting to be around their loving, honest family. I felt much more connected with Rebekah and Chris after spending time with them – while they are both fairly quiet in person, I enjoyed each interaction that we had. I especially appreciated both of their participation in our gentle parenting discussion. Chris is an inspiration, and Rebekah’s honesty made everyone feel that we were sharing in a special circle of trust. It was moments like the those that confirmed how incredible this group of people is – and how honored I am to be a part of it.
- Shannon from The Artful Mama: Shannon and her son also drove with Amanda and her daughters cross country to join us for our get together. Shannon is a model of strength – she was able to keep her cool all weekend long with a toddler who was out of his comfort zone and needed pretty constant attention. Seeing how patiently she communicated with him made me smile. Shannon was another parent who I felt very connected with during our gentle parenting talk – not only did she open up and share her own feelings, she also sat and empathized with me when I needed an ear. I look forward to nurturing the friendship I felt grow with Shannon this weekend.
Overall, the weekend was unforgettable, and I look forward to the next time I can gather with my friends. Thank you all for coming to my home, and you’re all welcome back any time.
I also spent some time before the gathering contacting various companies who make products that might be of interest to our volunteers. A few of the companies generously donated products or samples so that I could create “welcome bags” for the volunteers. Other companies shared coupon codes that all NPN volunteers can use. Below are a list of companies that so graciously gave in support of our volunteers – thank you so much!
- Earth Mama Angel Baby donated an awesome gift bag that included samples of Angel Baby Lotion, Calm & Clean Hand to Toe Wash, Angel Baby Bottom Balm, Natural Nipple Butter, and Organic Milkmaid Tea (Like Earth Mama Angel Baby on FB)
- Lunapads donated beautiful pantyliners (for the women) and organic handkerchiefs (for the men) (Like Lunapads on FB)
- Beauty Without Cruelty donated samples of Rosemary Mint Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner (Like Beauty Without Cruelty on FB))
- The Natural Newborn donated samples of Peppermint Lip Balm and Unscented Hand and Body Lotion (Like The Natural Newborn on FB)
- Tom’s of Maine donated tubes of Wicked Fresh Cool Peppermint Toothpaste and Children’s Fluoride-Free Silly Strawberry Toothpaste (Like Tom’s of Maine on FB)
- ChildOrganics donated samples of Baby Bottom Better and gave our volunteers a coupon code (Like ChildOrganics on FB)
- Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children donated handmade reusable produce bags to put everything in
- Hyvee donated a $25 gift card to offset expenses (Like this Hyvee on FB)
- Heirloom Wooden Toys offered our volunteers a coupon code (Like Heirloom Wooden Toys on FB)
- Natural Pure Essentials offered our volunteers a coupon code (Like Natural Pure Essentials)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"Wanted: More NPN Volunteers in Kansas City!"
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