Get to know a local mama: Meet Jenni

Born?

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!

University?

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.

Children?

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!