Wanted: More NPN Volunteers in Kansas City!

October 13th, 2011 by Dionna | 13 Comments
Posted in Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family

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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!

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*Almost* all of the NPN volunteers who attended and their families

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 leading parent/child yoga

  • 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 and her daughters at our hike at Burr Oak Woods

  • 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.
  • Daniel, Amy, Dionna, and Kieran

  • 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 (of Peace 4 Parents) getting henna from Joni Rae

  • 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 creating art on my belly

  • 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 opening some of the beautiful cloth diapers our generous NPN volunteers sent her

  • 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.
  • Me, Shannon and her son, Amanda and her daughter, Jorje and her daughter, and Rebekah and Chris in back

  • 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!

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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:

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.

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.  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!

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.

13 Responses to:
"Wanted: More NPN Volunteers in Kansas City!"

  1. Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction   MBJunction

    Okay, I am dying of jealousy right now. What a fun, fun time. I so wish I could have made it. Is there a “second annual” in the works yet?

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I want to have a second annual ASAP :) I do think some of the NE volunteers are planning something – are you close to that area?

  2. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    I love your impressions and descriptions of everyone. It makes me feel more like I was actually there getting to know everyone.

    What fantastic gift bags you put together! Yay for those companies! Are there really coupon codes any of us can use?

  3. Thank you so much for allowing Daniel and me to disrupt your life and home for a while. And thank you for hosting this large gathering! I know it took more effort than you’re letting on…and you did it with grace. <3

  4. Amy Phoenix   Peace4Parents

    Dionna, I thank you and Tom for hosting the get together; it really did feel like a coming together of old friends. Everything went so smoothly (or at least it felt that way when I was around).

    I look forward to a round 2 myself. I do want to extend the invitation for anyone interested to join in the Center for Peace with Peace 4 Parents. I plan to host occasional discussion calls very similar to the chat we had during the get together. While it’s not exactly the same as in person, it can be of great value when we feel so far apart from the support we desire.

    Thanks again and much love to you and your sweet family. :)

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you Amy! I’d love to be a more active participant in your work – I’m excited to see where it will take you!

  5. Melissa   vibreantwanderer

    I absolutely loved reading your impressions of everyone who made it to your house. It’s funny how well I feel I know many of them already, but this made me feel that much closer – next best thing to actually *being there* which I sincerely hope I can do next time!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      We hope so too Melissa – and I hope that you get to travel through this part of the country again soon, I think I might force you to make a pit stop in KC :)

  6. I’m sad that I was too darned tired to sit up and chat Saturday night. I’m sure it was an absolute blast… very sad, indeed.

    I had no idea that one of the breads at the brunch was zucchini! I would love to have tried it, but I was avoiding all of the breads for carb count. :-( I did eat several half-pieces of frittata and had been wanting to try that as well!

    I really like the way you approached writing about the weekend – listing by people instead of event like I did. And you pegged me, I’m quite the social butterfly! I really appreciated that my anti-social husband was willing to come with us (he would have been too nervous if I left the state alone) and just be there to support me when I needed some help with Sasha… even if he didn’t socialize. He supported that I was there to socialize! And I definitely tried to make sure I got some chat time with every attendee!

    And the welcome bag… so awesome and unexpected! Thank you for putting those together! I am definitely planning to do an entirely separate post about the bag, probably next Thursday!

    My henna (fresh AND 2 days old) pics are available in my post today. It has been cool to click around and see other art on different pages. :-)

  7. You are totally the hostess with the mostess. I bow to you and your family.

  8. Darcel @ The Mahogany Way   MahoganyWayMama

    I am so jealous…also very upset that I couldn’t make it or get in on the chat. You look great with your baby belly! Glad everyone had such a great time :)

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