Roya Dedeaux is a grown unschooler who lives in Southern California with her husband, two kids, and assorted chickens and dogs.
Roya has an M.S. in Counseling and a B.A. in Recreation and Leisure Studies. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with a private practice in Los Alamitos, and long-distance counseling for homeschoolers. Her therapy website is royadedeaux.com. She is also a professor in the Recreation and Leisure Department at California State University, Long Beach, and loves getting to teach classes about play and leisure! She believes strongly in the importance and power of play for all ages, and has spent the majority of her personal and professional life inspiring others to become more playful.
Roya specializes in using art in her therapy practice, and has spent most of her life crocheting, knitting, making journals, collaging, and following other artistic pursuits. She has a monthly yarn subscription business, Yarn of the Month, sells earrings online at royaboya, has an unschooling blog, Women of Wonder, and is the author of Protect Their Passions a workbook with practical exercises to help work parents through emotional and logistical barriers to connecting more with their children (Become a patron!).
Erika Davis-Pitre and her husband Michael have 4 children – one daughter (40) and three sons (36, 34 & 26). They also have two sons-in-love, two daughters-in-love and two grandsons (12 & 4). She and her husband have recently moved back to San Francisco full-time after living in Connecticut for more than a decade. They have been unschooling for many years and love it, so Erika is always looking for opportunities to share their unschooling joy with others.
Erika has spoken at many un/homeschooling conferences, led quite a few funshops/workshops and has hosted and participated in many round table discussions about unschooling all over the US and Canada. She especially enjoys talking about unschooling teens, sharing the joy of unschooling and celebrating diversity through unschooling.
And she is an Artist Trading Card (ATC) fanatic-if you don’t know about ATCs please ask!
Carolyn’s main influence in unschooling was her mom, who had read all of John Holt’s books and subscribed to Growing Without Schooling, even though 4 out of her 5 children went to traditional public school (and the 5th was home/unschooled for a relatively short time). Her mom also was an early advocate of extended breastfeeding and LLL. Her mom, Granny Jean, lives in a little house in Carolyn’s back yard, and continues to be supportive of unschooling.
One of Carolyn’s favorite jobs was working as a camp counselor in North Carolina while in (and just out of) college. It fueled her love for activity, adventure and working with kids. It was also where she learned to play guitar, a skill she has continued to hone and enjoy. Her next dream job was working as an assistant for the children’s summer reading program in Jackson, WY, which eventually led her to get her Master’s Degree in Library Science, working full time while going to school for 2 years and 8 months.
She worked in both public and school libraries before the birth of her first daughter in 2002. After that, she consulted part time in libraries until the family moved to Portland in 2008 to live around a larger community of unschoolers. She was the first employee of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider (founded by an unschooling family), and worked part time as their events manager for 5 years until beginning a career in real estate in 2017. She loves helping unschooling families living in or relocating to the Portland metro area. She has created the website Homeschoolers Moving to Portland to help people who are moving to Portland, and the site Portland Homeschooling Resources and shares insights and commentary about all things Portland on her Facebook business page – Carolyn Groves PDX.
Carolyn separated from her partner of 20+ years in the spring of 2015, and her divorce was final in the fall of 2017. With some creativity and help from family and friends she has been able to continue to unschool her daughters who will be 17 and 13.5 at the time of the 2019 conference. They have attended every LIFE is Good conference and Carolyn has spoken at three.
Rachelle McCloud, LCSW is a Mental Health Therapist and Emotional Eating Recovery Coach. She is a mom to 5 always unschooled, amazing children and wife to her best friend. She specializes in treating anxiety, depression and traumatic stress and also helping moms overcome emotional eating.
Matt & Kiera Cook
Matt and Kiera Cook have been married for 14 years and are the parents of 4 radically unschooled kids who have never been to school; Alex (13) Bossy Jossy (7), Weston (4), and Zadie (2).
Matt works as an install manager for a Sign company in Long Beach, California. A high school drop-out who found his calling in construction; he loves to spend time with his kids, play video games and make cool things.
Kiera works from home as a maintenance manager and bookkeeper, jobs she fell into but allow for the flexibility she needs to do all the things. In addition to facilitating the interests of her 4 kids, Kiera loves all things artsy and crafty. Her current passion project is Women of Wonder blog where she tells stories about her family and also sells her creations (currently headbands).
Marieke van der Graaf
Marieke (pronounce ma-REE-ka), lives in Orange County, Southern California as a single mom with 5 kids (16b, 15g, 13b, 3g and newborn baby girl). The older kids were born in The Netherlands, where homeschooling wasn’t legal, however she figured it out and legally homeschooled in the Netherlands until she moved with her family to the US in 2007. The kids have been unschooled since 2012. Her family has traveled extensively and lived in Cambodia from 2014-2015, where again (home/un)schooling wasn’t a common option. Marieke is a licensed foster parent in California and has fostered 19 kids, and was able to adopt her daughter from foster care who is now 3 years old, her 15yo daughter is adopted as well, while her 2 boys are biological kids and her newborn daughter is a foster child.
As the sole provider of 5 kids, and not being allowed to work a job in the US because of her visa status, she has always been very creative in finding ways to make money, while spending as much time with her kids as is possible, mostly through avid traveling. Marieke currently runs 4 income producing businesses, including Branding Personality, a digital marketing agency; Laundrylicious – a laundry valet service; Carlicious – a car rental company; and Staylicious – vacation rentals. She thrives to set up her businesses so that they can run without her and is continuously exploring new income streams.
Renée Cabatic is a 47-year-old mom-wife-sister-night shift warehouse worker-intellectual. She lives in Corvallis, Oregon, with her amazing husband Chris, two adult children Xander and XuMei, who are already making the world a better place and their cat, Tavi, who bites her face to wake her. In her spare time, she dabbles in yoga, writing fiction, and philosophizing.
Lucretia Holcomb is an unschooling mother of two who also happens to be a widow.
Bradley and Lucretia began unschooling from the birth of their first child and attended many conferences together until a dark Wednesday night in May changed her life and the lives of her children forever. It was that night that Lucretia, along with her 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, discovered Bradley collapsed in the driveway dying and with only a few precious minutes together before he was gone. It was chaotic and confusing and the pain of that night has become part of who the three of them have become.
Although life became different in an instant, Lucretia’s commitment to not just survive but thrive has carried her and her children down a path of immense growth while continuing on their unschooling journey together. Keeping connection and curiosity as her focal point, Lucretia continues to work with the grief and the trauma of Bradley’s death daily with herself and her children using tools like, but not limited to, meditation, journaling, and EFT.
Lucretia currently is self-employed as a social media strategist while preparing to launch her half-day workshops called The Resilience Workshop and her online course called The Bounce Up Program.
Panel, Discussion and Funshop Presenters
I’m an unschooling mom to 4 cool kids. I’ve always appreciated being able to clothe my family without spending a lot of money. Through the years, generous friends’ “hand-me-downs” definitely helped keep our clothing budget manageable. Plus, I’ve loved visiting community clothing swaps to find “new” treasures for free. I’ve also recently started a side gig of helping people organize their spaces. Through helping others clean out their closets, I’ve ended up with a surplus of clothing to donate. I thought the conference would be a perfect place for our unschooling community to share these types of treasures with each other!
Jenny will be hosting the Clothing Swap! funshop.
Janis Able Hyde
I describe myself as an Earthy Mama who enjoys all things crafty. My 3 girls have never been to traditional school, and I have tried to expose them to all the crafts. We have been traveling throughout the country by RV for 7 years and have settled part-time in Bend. This will be our third LiG conference.
I have been knitting for over 30 years and crocheting for about 10 years. I am also very passionate about repurposing materials to make new things, which is the focus of my Funshop. I love to help people visualize a new life for clothing that is outgrown or flawed. Some of my favorite upcycling projects are crocheted with strips of t-shirts. We also have an Etsy shop called FemmeUp.
Janis will be co-hosting the Upcycle Your Textiles funshop.
Karl Keefer is Co-Founder of Alder Commons, a soon-to-exist unschooling-friendly community center in Northeast Portland. He builds software by day, and has lots of hobbies to share with others: photography, videography, go (the board game), circus skills, frisbee, and many others! He’s fluent in Spanish, and is learning to speak French and German.
Rachel is a Certified Arborist and Environmental Educator, as well as the Co-Founder of Alder Commons, an all-ages self-directed learning center that will be opening in Portland soon! She loves everything trees, picnicking in parks, walking with her dog Rambo, playing board games, sewing, and reading in hammocks. She’s fluent in Spanish and Guarani (the indigenous language of Paraguay, where she lived for two years), and loves learning how people learn!
Leif is a 20 year old, queer (Pronouns: Ze/Zir, They/Them), unschooler, performer, teaching artist and 7 year LIG veteran. Ze started doing theatre in the Portland area professionally as a 14 year old thanks to the support of zir family and the freedom of unschooling and since then, has performed with the likes of NW Children’s Theater – where ze also currently teaches! – Imago Theatre, and various other local theatre companies and groups. You’ll also see zir up on the stage emceeing the LIG talent show! All talents and skill levels are welcome!
If you see me at the conference, give me a fist-bump, tell me a joke, or ask me anything you like. I’ve also got lots of silly games up my sleeves if you want one to play, like: Murder Mystery, Rock-Paper-Scissors-Split, The Game Of Life, and many more! ~ Leif
Zir hobbies include:
Language learning(French, Spanish, ASL and more!) ~ Circus movement & Clown ~ Playing & writing music
Dance(Tap, Hip-hop, Jazz, Ballet, you name it!) ~ Parkour ~ Board games, Theatre games, & Other IRL games
Leif will be hosting the Where Are Your Keys funshop and hosting the Talent Show.
My name is Rowan Hessel. I’m fourteen years old and I’ve been attending the LIFE Is Good conference since the very beginning. I’ve been unschooled my entire life. I like to spend my time drawing and painting, reading YA fiction and fairy tales, riding horses, and playing The Sims. I’m a master of Minecraft Bedwars, and I might be a little obsessed with making slime. I took a community college ASL class this past winter, and I’m excited about sharing what I learned.
Rowan will be co-hosting the American Sign Language For Beginners funshop.
My name is Mirabella Pugliese (pug-lees-e) I’m 15 years old, and this is my second year attending the LIFE Is Good conference. I have been homeschooled and unschooled my entire life. I ride and compete on horseback, draw, love animals, and have recently taken up learning American Sign Language. I was born, and have grown up in Oregon my entire life. Hoping to make more awesome friends in my visit at LIFE Is Good.
Mirabella will be co-hosting the American Sign Language For Beginners funshop.