Guest Post by ANGELA: A Mission to Explore

Hi! I am Angela.

Born + Raised

I was born in Dayton, OH and went to school in the surrounding suburbs. I stayed in that area through college, and then moved to Cincinnati, OH in my early 20s to be closer to work.

University + Career

I could never see myself going to a 4 year school, so I went to community college. I got an associate’s degree in business management – network management from Sinclair Community College. While there, I worked a full time internship as a network administrator and fell in love with email systems. Yep, I’m super cool. I took a consulting position for a company in Cincinnati, OH. When I moved to Illinois, I worked from home, and then we bought a house out in the country. I quit my job. We had big dreams of living a more homestead lifestyle and seeking out new adventures on the weekends. Our expectations of what one person can accomplish proved to be a little unrealistic, but I’m still here… hustling to do what I can the hard way and trying to teach a couple littles how to be decent humans.


I love all things food. I am an aesthetic enthusiast. I am passionate about giving new life to things others have discarded. I love to create things. When you put all those things together, I become a pretty rockin party planner.

Meeting hubby + settling here


wo nemo toss a lasso to me now

Say what? That palindrome was the beginning of what my life looks like these days. In my mid 20s I joined a dating site even though I had no interest in a relationship. Some random guy that lived in Peoria, IL sent me a quirky email that started a 2 month long conversation. I decided it was obviously a good idea to invite him to stay with me for a long weekend and at the end of that weekend, Jamie and I had already settled into an old married couple dynamic. After doing the long distance thing for a while, I moved to Peoria, we bought a house on a little piece of land outside of Mackinaw, and here we plan to stay.


We have two little adventurers in our family. Finch is 3… soon to be 4 and Wren is 2.5. They love nothing more than when they get to help set up our tent or have the opportunity to get real dirty in a creek.

Best part of being their mom?

So much of my time as a parent is spent trying to channel the patient person I thought I was before small humans entered my life. I had this idealistic expectation of what an awesome mom I was going to be, and I am… but it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine over here. I am used to excelling at the things I undertake… being able to step back at the end of a project and feel proud of the work I have done. For me, parenting is nothing like that. Sure there are days where I feel like I am crushing this mom thing, but more often than not I am just trying to keep my head above water. By becoming their mom, my kids have forced me to realize that I have to let some things go, lower my own expectations of what I “should” be able to do, and how important it is to take the time to just get lost in all the wonder that is around us. Without them, I don’t think I would have pushed myself to slow down… but now that I have I am forever thankful.


Helpful Activities to keep your little ones active, to pass along to other local families?

This year we have been on a mission to explore a lot of different parks in the area. I have been focusing on one area at a time and then trying to make time to visit all the different places listed on the community’s parks and recreation page. Not growing up in the area, I have no idea what the “good” places to go are, so it has been nice to spend time finding what works best for our family. There are so many places around and many of them are underutilized. I prefer parks a little off the beaten path that don’t get a lot of foot traffic. That way, I can be more of an observer while the kids explore more independently.

As the weather gets colder, we will likely rely on some trusty favorites to run the crazies out. Last year, we really enjoyed the toddler time at the Morton Indoor Soccer Complex and our membership at the Peoria Playhouse.


Favorite fall adventures for your family?

The highlight of our fall is a big campout we host at our property. Since both my husband and I are imports to the area, it started as a way to see folks we otherwise don’t get the opportunity to visit every year and as we make new friends locally, the guest list grows. When we first started doing it, nobody had kids, but these days the majority of people who make it have littles. For a lot of them, it is the first place that they experience camping out as a family. Planning a camping trip with babies and toddlers can be an overwhelming step to take, but here there is a backup plan if it is just not working. For many of the kids, this will be their 4th year coming to the campout, and as they get older it is so fun to watch them truly excited to spend the entire weekend outside… becoming experts at “roughing it” in the great outdoors.

Get to know a local mama: Meet Jenni


I was born and raised in the small town (6000) of Independence, Iowa. I always swore I wouldn't live as an adult in a small town but having kids made me really appreciate the closeness of community in a small town so we live in North Pekin (1500) Quite a bit smaller than my hometown but only 10 minutes from the big city!


I attended Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, which at the time had one of the top 3 Professional Photography programs in the country. I graduated with an Associate of Applied Arts degree in Professional Photography in 1999.

Meeting hubby + settling here?

I became very close friends with 3 couples in Peoria in after meeting them on a convention cruise. I moved here in 2009 to be close to them as they were like family. I lived in an apartment building across from OSF when one night right before midnight, the fire alarm went off. That night I met my neighbor across the hall and he calmed my nerves as we were evacuated from the building. We hit it off instantly and got married in Las Vegas with our parents and siblings by our side on 11/12/13. Ryan works as an automotive technician at Velde.


We have 2 girls. Arianna is 5 and Nola is 2 ½. The night I met Ryan he told me he wanted to name his daughter Arianna. Nola is named after the acronym for New Orleans, Louisianna.

Passions, career?

I am a Certified Professional Photographer with Blissful Images. I have owned my own business now for 15 years! I love to give back through my volunteer work with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. My favorite things are working on our home we gutted and transformed from a hoarder house to our dream home, vising friends in our favorite city, New Orleans and cruising on Carnival Cruise ships.

Best part of being their mom?

Experiencing life through their eyes is my favorite. I never knew I could love do deeply as I do. Ryan and I didn't get to travel when we were kids so we prioritize that for our family and strive to take them places and show them things we didn't get to.

Summer plans for the family?

Our first family trip to Wisconsin Dells and a Cubs game in Wisconsin at the end of the month.

Helpful activities to keep you little ones active, to pass along to other local families?

My kids love going swimming, to the park, walking around our neighboorhood and playing in the yard. They are always wanting to be involved with things at home so they often are helping with household chores as well as starting to cook. I love their independence! Our 5 year old will make scrambled eggs with toast and clean up after and is so very proud of herself. I love to encourage their independence!

Guest Post by ABBEY: The More We Get Together

We are happy to share insight into "Miss Abbey" as many of us know her by.

Born + raised?
I was born in Peoria and Lived here my entire life until leaving for college.

College + career? I received my undergrad at Saint Louis University and my graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology, at Gallaudet University in Washington DC. After graduation, I moved to Virginia Beach with my husband and worked in an elementary school for 5 years, serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing population, preK-4th, as a Speech Therapist. We moved back to Peoria in 2009 and I started Communication Junction to continue sharing my passion for early communication and language development.

Your hubby?
My husband was born in St Louis, but moved to South Africa when he was three months old. His father is from Johannesburg and his mother from Peoria. At age 15 he moved back to Peoria with his mom and sister. He graduated from Woodruff Highschool. He received his undergraduate degree from South West Missouri State University (now Missouri State) and his graduate degree from University of Virginia. After graduate school he received a Commission from the Navy and was active duty for 6 years. He is currently serving in the Naval Reserve and is a Civil Engineer, locally, with River City Construction.

Your kiddos? Owen (9 almost 10) and Colin (8) keep us going. Both are involved in local running and summer swimming. Owen, who will be in 5th grade, also enjoys acting, singing, reading and "all the sports". Colin, entering 3rd grade, enjoys Martial Arts, being home and reading.

How did Communcation Junction meet Bushbaby? Bethany and I originally met when I stopped into BushBaby shopping for my kids. We quickly became great friends and CJ was invited to petticoats in her 1st birthday party. From there we have continuously looked for opportunities to work together, combining our love for children, outdoors and fun!

Thank you ABBEY for sharing you with us!  You can find Abbey at Bushbaby on the first Saturday of every month.  We have taken Sign + Sing to Donovan Park through September 9th, starting at 9am.  We will be back at Bushbaby in October at 9:15am.  For more information on Communication Junction events, find them on facebook or on their website.

Get to know a local mama: MEET Erin!

Hi Erin + welcome to the BUSHBABY journal!

Let's start at the beginning -- where were you born + raised?

I was raised in Canton, Illinois, then moved to Peoria at 21 and have lived here since. Central Illinois proud! I loved growing up in a small town, and I find that Peoria has a good balance of close community with bigger city amenities, and I'm proud to call it home.

Meeting hubby + settling here?

My husband, Eric, and I met at the Taste of Peoria. We were both standing with a group of friends and kept catching each other's eye. He started to walk away, and I decided I didn't want that to happen so I chased after him, and the rest, as they say, is history.


We have one son, Ever. He just turned three! He's very smart, funny, and opinionated. Also pretty cute.

Best part of being his mom?

The best part of being Ever's mom is the perspective he brings to my life. Through him, I am able to experience everything as though it is new again. Becoming a mother has showed me my own strength, and is simultaneously incredibly difficult and immensely wonderful.

Passions, career?

We are entrepreneurs and we own JamBerry in Dunlap. A literal mom & pop shop, we opened our doors three years ago with a six week old baby. JamBerry is a coffee shop and small bakery, and we make jam 1-2 times a year. Local berries are now in season, so our days look a little different right now than they do throughout the rest of the year. Currently we are spending a lot of time picking fruit, making jam, and preparing all of our supplies to label the jars and get them on the shelf. It's one of the most popular items at the shop, and since it's such a small batch + artisanal product, it goes very quickly!

We enjoy the way the years flow, from summer jam to thanksgiving pies and holiday baking. It's nice to have a space to be present in each season.

Spring + Summer plans for the family?

As small business owners, it can be difficult to carve out personal time, but we also feel pretty strongly about enjoying life as much as possible. We have a couple weekend getaways in mind, but mostly strive to find joy in the day to day. Walking to junction city for ice cream or the farmers market, spending a whole day in pajamas at home, cooking out with friends, and working on various projects are all on the summer bucket list.

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your life, Erin! Your little bakery sounds so sweet! {Follow JamBerry on Facebook here!}