Life is Good and it Still Rocks.

Last weekend, our family (minus one) took a mini road trip to Vancouver, WA.  It’s about a 3 hour drive unless you’re pulling over to pee every 30 minutes, or fighting with your spouse about stupid… stupid things.  Isn’t every fight stupid? Anyway…

hail on the porch

As we were leaving, it was hailing

The purpose of our visit was to attend the 2011 Life is Good Conference. You’d think we would have attended sooner, since it’s so close to home but this was our first year. I was looking forward to meeting so many people I’d only known online, through facebook, my other blog and unschooling lists/ groups.

The drive…. was beautiful. Last time we drove from Washington to Oregon, it was dark so we didn’t get to see much. This was the first time we’d taken the route north of the Columbia River and it really was beautiful.  I know the Cascade Mountains make me feel good, but if I’m away from them for too long, I kinda forget what that feeling is. There’s something about the wild blackberries, the fiddleneck ferns, the nettles, the mossy lava rocks and the tall trees that bring me to life. I suspect that if I was dying of dehydration in the desert and inhaled the scent of the mountains, I might come back to life. If I ever had to run from the law, you can bet I’d wander aimlessly through those mountains with a backpack and a camera. In fact, I can’t wait to take my new camera up there, I can’t believe I haven’t done it yet. Something about those mountains makes my soul sing.

Not the mountains, but the rocks were cool anyway, these are just East of the Cascades, along the Columbia River


Anyway… Since I’d recently already been to an unschooling conference, I wasn’t terribly interested in the workshops. I just wanted to hang out with my kids and get drunk with my mom friends every day enjoy the social aspects of a conference.

My husband ended up attending several workshops without me and he came away with an entirely different outlook. I’m sure that Jeff Sabo is the one to thank for this because every conversation we’ve had recently has been sprinkled with a thousand references to Jeff’s wisdom.

It’s hard to pick out which moments were the best, so I’ll go in order except where it all blurs together… I got to meet the beautiful Tara Wagner. I’ve been following her blog, The Organic Sister since they decided to become an RV family and she’s an amazing person. It’s also always nice to meet the spouses and kids, of course.

Tiffani and Tara

After that, I got to meet the adorable Tiffani Sant Bearup from and the three of us ended up out for drinks almost right away.  I expected Tiffani to be fun, because like… hello… she blogs about playing… but I didn’t expect to have so very much in common with her. In spite of that, she’s still awesome.

I also got to meet Laura Flynn Endres, and she’s got to be the funniest person I’ve ever met. She was so funny I just sat there listening to her, she had me speechless, ME.  I don’t remember what she said that was so funny… there were a lot of things… and a lot of drinks… but she’s definitely a crackup, it was a real treat to hang out with her 🙂

I also got to meet Colleen Paeff, who is no longer blogging at New Unschooler, but  the site is such a great resource, especially if you read the posts from oldest to newest, to see how her family’s journey to unschooling came about.

And it's a Pathfinder... perfect <3

Who else…. Kimya Dawson performed, while I only spoke to her for two seconds, my kids have had her music streaming through the wii and blasting through the house for the past three days and I kinda feel like we go way back, now. Nice to meet you, Kimya! Kimya did the soundrack for Juno, she’s fresh, quirky, and easy to relate to.

Unschooling moms are hawt

I got to see Amy Steinberg again, we first met at the Life Rocks Conference a few weeks ago and she reminds me of my Aunt Mary Ann <3 Her lyrics are powerful, she’s got a beautiful soul and if you’re going to be anywhere near Charlotte, North Carolina this summer, you should check out her Rock Star Drama Camp for kids, it’s a week-long day camp program for self-expression via performing arts. If you don’t plan to be in the area, PLEASE at least go “like” the Facebook page for the camp, and share it with your friends in the area because it’s so cool to have a real professional performer working with your kids, right?

I also got to meet Kelly Lovejoy. I’m a sucker for a southern accent and she has the best one. I wanted to drink a mint julep on the veranda with her, but there wasn’t a veranda and instead we just hung out in the hotel bar. I didn’t get to hear her say “bless my soul” or “heavens to Betsy” but it was still cool. She’s a great speaker (I actually did go to one workshop) and a fun lady to hang out with.

I also got to meet Jasie VanGesen, who writes an excellent blog, By the Seat of Our Pants and she’s fun to hang out with and she sews. Serious, hardcore badassery in the sewing department, she doesn’t even use a machine. Check out her Etsy shop, Soft and Cozy and prepare to be impressed.

Speaking of Etsy artists, I also met Catmaree, who uses circular punches to turn old gift cards into beads for jewelry. She makes the coolest earrings and she even had a dress on display that shemade from gift cards. I can’t wait to send her this stack of used gift cards! Check out Catmaree’s Etsy shop soon.

Oh my goodness, I also got to meet the Swiss Army Wife herself, Heather Burditt. She moved from Vermont to Washington and planned to hit the road but ended up on Vashon Island. She’s funny, sweet, cute and super fun to hang out with.  She happens to also have an Etsy shop and her bracelets are super cute.  I could spend a fortune, I think, buying cute stuff from unschoolers.

Heather McDonald was fun too (no blog, Heather, what’s up?).  The thing I love about hanging out with unschooling moms is that I feel like I must be awesome just for being in their presence. Everything that attracted me to unschooling is represented in these women. Their creativity, their love for their family, independence, free-spirited, fun-loving and curious, spontaneous and just plain fun.

I also got to see my friend Karin for the first time in like 10 years, she took over the leadership of our local homeschool support group in California when I moved away (Hello, Antelope Valley RoseRock).  I failed to spend even a minute hanging out with Frank Maier or Ronni Maier even though I saw their nametags from across the room and thought “Hey, it’s the Maiers, I need to go shake their hands” Maybe next time 🙂 I also failed to chat with Mary Gold, but since she was organizing the event, it was probably best to just let her work her magic, right?  I also got to meet Tamri Shaw and Ruth Suyamin in real life, Tamri is a mom whose kids have been blessed to enjoy some amazing adventures on the road and Ruth is so full of energy (I hear having sons will do that for you!) and she’s sweet, too. She forgave me for flaking on our hula hooping date. I owe  you one, Ruth 🙂 i also got to meet Mary King, even though she only lives an hour from me, this was the first time we’ve been able to get together. She’s so sweet, one of those people who glows with vibrancy and a cheerful smile <3

I’m so afraid I’m going to leave someone out.  Oh yeah.. The Holcombs… coolest family ever. In fact, you’re going to see more about the Holcomb family because we’re going to be stopping off at their place in Colorado when we take our trip this summer. She and I have way too much in common.

I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. But I can’t keep this post in draft forever.

My husband and kids staring out the window waiting for me to stop drinking

I can’t believe how many photos are popping up on Facebook of me in the bar, so I need to be sure that at the next conference, I make a point to appear in photos outside the bar, even if I have to take them myself. I started my family young, so this is really probably the ONLY time in my life I’ve gone out for a drink with the girls. Definitely fun 🙂

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