Announcing Our Little Adventures Guide!


Bushbaby is just as passionate about getting kids outdoors as our families and we know there are some great activities and educational opportunities for families in our beautiful state, but they are not always easy to find!

Our new initiative, Little Adventures Guide, offers a perfect solution with a unique guide to nature, outdoor recreation, and exploratory education in Illinois! This guide is beautifully hand-lettered and printed on canvas so that kids can color it after they visit each location and enjoy its fun activities!

Soon we will also have an online component here on our web site with photos, videos, and maps to provide additional guidance. Watch for our updates twice a month, posted on our social media, in our emails, or in the store, featuring each location individually—all while highlighting what makes them special and the reasons we chose them.

We expect this initiative to grow and evolve over time and we can’t wait to share more as families get involved!

Get to know a local mama: Meet Renee

If you live in the area, you have probably met Renee (and tasted her scones). Bethany calls her a dear friend and we could not be more delighted to have you meet her: Renee Robison

Born + raised:

I was born and raised in Peoria, IL.


College + career?

I attended Illinois Community College for two years. I own Four30 Scones, which I started with my husband three years ago. The name Four30 came from our wedding date, April 30th.


Hubby + children?

I met my husband Shane and got married at age 20. We will celebrate 19 years together this April. We have 4 children...ages 8-15.


Best part of being a mama?

They make me a better person and teach me life lessons. This parenting thing is not always easy...they teach me patience, selflessness and servitude. I feel so blessed to have these 4 in my life!


Family fun?


We love to travel, eat out and play games together. Our family loves the outdoors. We live for the warmer months, pools, boating, camping,fishing and walks. Over the past few years we’ve taken some fun and stretching (for me!) camping trips. We’ve tent camped Yellowstone, the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore area, Salt Lake City and Sheyboygan, WI. The simplicity of tent camping and making your own meals is rewarding and nice to get unplugged from normal life and work. This summer we would like to go back to the Black Hills around Mt. Rushmore with our kids. There is beautiful hiking, scenery, lakes and sight seeing. Not only is Mt. Rushmore a great place to take kids for the history and scenery but it’s a place where you can slow your pace, relax and take in the scenery. I highly recommend Crazy Horse also...another memorial made out of rock.


** Renee frequents BUSHBABY with scone pick-ups, so next time you see her SAY HELLO!

Guest Post by ARIEL: International Travel with your babe

Meet Ariel.


We recently took our 4 month old on a vacation to Italy for two weeks. The trip included planes, trains, boats, a rental car, and plenty of walking and hiking. We visited the Alps in northern Italy where my mom's family is from, and we ended our trip in the stunning Cinque Terre region on the sea. Some said we were brave (crazy) for taking a baby on a big international trip. But, it was actually a great age to travel with Henry. He was still exclusively breastfeeding and not yet crawling. That made him very portable. And babies fly for free. We had a wonderful trip, and we would do it again if given the chance. Here are 8 things we learned along the way.

Apply for baby's passport as soon as possible

Even infants need a passport with a photo, and the passport will expire in 5 years. We took Henry's passport photo ourselves at home and then had it printed at a local pharmacy.

Travel with trusted helpers

Of course this isn't a requirement, but we traveled with my sister and brother-in-law and they helped immensely. It's hard to put into words what an amazing aunt and uncle these two are. They helped carry the stroller up and down the stairs, held Henry during meals at restaurants, changed diapers, made him laugh when he got frustrated, and rocked him to sleep some nights. They also researched and made several travel decisions for us along the way, like where we should eat for dinner and which train to take.

Wear your baby


I couldn't recommend it more. Henry napped, nursed, and hiked many happy miles in the baby carrier. We used it every single day: in the airport, on hiking trails, at the farmers market, and during meals. The lucky lad had quite a few croissant crumbs dropped on his head during this vacation. The carrier saved our arms and it kept him quite content. We have a carrier that allows him to face both in and out, and it was nice to have both options.

Use a backpack as diaper bag

Whether you buy a new trendy "diaper backpack" or just use any old backpack, it's a great way to carry your baby items on the go. I could wear Henry in the baby carrier on my front and the diaper bag on my back quite comfortably.

Pack lightly and do laundry in the sink

It's very hard to pack lightly with a baby, but it does make traveling easier when you don't have too much stuff to lug around. To avoid packing 2 full weeks of baby gear, we washed things like burp cloths, pajamas, and onesies in the sink and hung them to dry. Packing an all-purpose soap made this option easy. We used the same soap for body wash, face wash, baby wash, laundry, and more.


Packing for sun

Since sunscreen isn't best for little babes, it can be hard to plan for extended time in the sun. We used a sunhat for Henry and then covered him with a thin swaddle blanket, which kept him pretty cool. I also wore a wide-brimmed sunhat and it kept him in the shade when he was in the carrier or in my arms.

Flying with an infant

In my opinion, it's so much easier than driving with an infant. You don't have to worry about the car seat, and kind people keep bringing you snacks and drinks. Because of the baby, you are also invited to go to the front of most lines in the airport. I was pleasantly surprised to find that fellow passengers were very warm and welcoming, not annoyed to be sitting next to a baby. Here's what we'd recommend.

• Check the car seat Most airlines will let you check the car seat for free, and it was nice not to have to pay to rent a car seat with our rental car. Also, it was reassuring to have a car seat that we knew fit and worked well for our baby. Most international cars use the LATCH system, just like in the States. You can purchase a large bag specifically made to pack a car seat on the plane. For us, the car seat bag was worth it. We also padded it with diapers and wipes and a foldable bassinet.

• Check the stroller at the gate A friend let us borrow a lightweight and compact travel stroller, and it was nice to have the stroller in the airport. We also used the stroller at the beach to keep him out of the sun and sand.

• Request a bassinet for the flight Most airlines offer a cute little bassinet for babies up to 20 pounds or so. Henry slept and also played in the bassinet. We were grateful to have somewhere to put him besides our laps.

• Feed the baby during takeoff and landing Henry didn't seem to have any trouble with his ears popping, maybe because we nursed on the way up and down. Many folks recommend it.

• Fly through Amsterdam airport We LOVE the Amsterdam airport. They have a gorgeous baby care lounge, a children's library, a children's science museum, and plenty of great places for kids to play. It's all free of charge.


A baby can break through language and cultural barriers

As we walked through the airport or down busy streets, people often approached us with huge smiles and charming greetings for the baby. They asked how old he was and tried to make him laugh. In a hot sunny town square, several people gave up their seat in the shade so we could get Henry out of the sun and change his diaper. These kind people were both locals and international tourists, and we didn't even have to ask.


Guest Post by TINA: You Just Never Know...

You just never know….

In the late 1970s (very late), when I arrived earthside, if someone told my mom where I would be today she would have probably laughed. It was August, winter in my hometown, where normal temperatures linger around the mid 40’s. A city of 20million, known as “the concrete jungle” welcomed me into the world and I went on to have a typical childhood of a South American kid. In my country, that included gated community high-rise living, trained dog for self-protection, and very little exposure to nature – the opposite of what many people think when they hear I am from Brazil. The truth is that I had amazing vacation experiences growing up when my family would pack everything in the car and drive across the country to get away from the hustle of the big city, but my actual day-to-day childhood was limited because safety was always a concern.


Fast forward 17 years and I landed in North America when my dad brought the family to Chicago while he was working on a PhD. I spoke no English. I knew no one. But I noticed most homes didn’t have a fence, much less an electric one with a locked gate and a guard dog behind it. Life was about to radically change. Eventually, we moved even further north a few years later, and made Canada our new permanent home. I worked at a bank for close to 8 years before figuring out I needed a new career and when I finally made the move, it brought me back to the Midwest. I graduated from NIU in DeKalb in 2010 with a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and was accepted at the supervised practice dietetic internship program at OSF. It would be a year of no income, living in Peoria, a city I knew nothing about, before I could sit in for my RD exam and become a Registered Dietitian. I made the move to Peoria telling myself – “One year. That’s it. Then I am out of here” But one should never say never, except to say “you just never know”.


Midway through the program I met my now husband, who was also a transplant living in Peoria (he is an engineer at CAT). We dated for 7 months, got engaged, and were married 8 months later. We bought our “starter” home that year in 2012 - a modest 1960’s ranch in the heart of town. I was by then working in the clinical field and two years later in 2014 we welcomed our first boy, Landon, now 4 years old. We knew we wanted back to back pregnancies with children close in age and so it was that 15 months later, in 2015, we welcomed our second boy, Luke who is now 2.5 years old. I know I am biased, but our little family feels perfect.

Along our road to where we are today, some things became the foundation of our life. Mike and I started believing that we were so blessed, that we actually already had all we ever needed. Our starter home became our forever home, and we got to work on making sure we didn’t live a life focused on things, but that we kept the focus on the experiences. In 2014 we went through the Dave Ramsey program and paid off both cars, then saved for and paid cash for upgrading one of our cars when the family grew, then paid off student loans and got down to just owing the mortgage on our starter home. During that time, our family doubled in size, Mike got an MBA at Bradley and I stopped working full time. We are truly blessed. I work about 10 hours a week outside the home, as a neonatal dietitian at a special care nursery with preemie babies, which is my dream “out of the house” job. The rest of my time is spent on my primary dream job – my family. We chose to homeschool the boys and in these early preschool years especially, nature time is essential for them to develop relationships with all natural things around them. We are often hiking and exploring the many green areas, nature preserves, and state park around Peoria, and the boys are thriving on a “school diet” of outdoor life and good reads. We have a growing home library of delightful rich literature which is becoming their favorite hangout place in the house. Outside, they love to identify birds, dig holes on the ground, play in the creeks, cook mud meals, and collect nature finds. They have super interesting discussions about leaf shapes and colors, and love to see how many acorns they can fit in their pockets. My youngest prays for snow every night. If you are not sure if God listens to prayers, this spring is clear evidence that He does.

We enjoy travelling and have done so both as a family and as mom/dad only trips. These trips have taken us to South America, Europe, Asia, and around the US and Canada. Last year our US family road trip took us east to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then enjoying historical towns on the way back and camping at Shenandoah National Park where the views from our hikes were just as amazing as the bear we saw. This summer our family road trip is taking us west, where we will visit the National Parks in Colorado, then enjoy a family reunion in Nebraska on the way back and a few days in one of the thousand lakes of Minnesota. We will also be spending a few days at a family camp here in Illinois with other nature loving homeschooling families and we are very excited for that.


I continue to believe that living a simple life leads to living a big life. I continue to believe that experiences shape who we are and that those experiences, second to our faith, are the most important things we can impress on our children. I continue to love my husband even more every day, especially for his desire to raise two Godly men of character out of our children.

Where this world of adventure and experiences will take us next, you just never know. But wherever it is, I will make sure I take note of the new flowers and birds I see along the way.


Guest Post by CHRISTINE: Here we go...Alaska

Here we go...

My husband and sister planned this amazing adventure from the Midwest to Anchorage on to the Kachemak Bay in Alaska. We were on our way to O’Hare airport with two large suite cases stuffed in the back of our 4Runner. One was full of fishing and camping gear, and the other was packed with clothes. I was a little on edge as Declan had been scream crying for two hours in the car, which was not his usual behavior. Thirty minutes away from the airport we discovered blaring Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti was the only thing that stopped this insanity.

Once in Anchorage we met up with my sister, her husband and our eight-year-old niece. Our plan was to pitch our tents down the Kenai Peninsula until we reached Homer. During the summers in Alaska it is easy to stay up late because the sun does not seem to set. This made it easy to stay up until midnight dancing to bluegrass music in Hope. Kyle was in heaven seeing all of the salmon runs occurring and fly fished for sockeye, coho and pink salmon. I was happy to breath in the mountain air, eat fresh berries and salmon, and not to see any bears.


Angelic women live in Homer. I mean it. As soon as we sat down at the Mermaid Café, before saying a word, a woman brought our son warm food. It was such a kind and thoughtful gesture. From Homer we chartered a boat to take us across the Cook Inlet to a bay where a yurt would be our home for a few days. This ride was breathtaking. We saw hundreds of salmon, jellyfish, eagles, an otter, a sea lion and a whale. And just like in the commercial, my phone storage ran out while video taping the whale. Usually in the bay you will see hundreds of starfish on the beach as the tide changes. A parasite had been moving up the west coast that summer and we saw none. It was a reminder of the natural balance of life.


We made it back home in one piece with a deeper appreciation of the Earth and all of her cycles. Although our son Declan was only 16 months old, we hope it influenced him to appreciate nature and spark a curiosity of adventure.
The majority of the trip went smoothly, which I attribute to thinking ahead and conscious packing. That is why Bethany, the queen of adventure gear at Bushbaby, asked me what some of my essentials are when packing for a trip like this one. For the kiddos a micro puff jacket is key for the cold plane ride and when the weather dips at night. The technology makes these jackets warm yet easy to stuff into a corner of a bag or used as a pillow. Our little one also packed boots, socks, a stocking hat, gloves and a rain jacket from Bushbaby. Two to three pairs of Smartwool socks are very important. They can go longer without washing and are very warm. A lightweight rain jacket with a hood will keep your kid dry and is an easy layer to pack while keeping your load light.


In order to navigate our toddler, a diaper bag and luggage through the O’Hare parking lot, we bought a second hand Kelty kids carrier from Bushbaby. Once we checked it as luggage (kids gear checks free) we had our packable Ergo as transportation for Declan. Both carriers were used throughout the trip on hikes.


In order to support our immune systems and keep calm while traveling we made sure to pack a few of our favorite Young Living essential oils as well as some portable chiropractic equipment (all four adults on the trip are doctors of chiropractic). The oils I packed included Australian Blue, Thieves and lavender. Of course we packed lots of healthy, organic snacks such as nuts, apples, dehydrated fruits and veggies. Being as we were dropped off in the middle of nowhere without cell reception, the adults brought a first aid kit including sewing necessities, fire starter equipment, pocket knives, fishing gear, sleeping bags, rope, garbage bags, polarized sunglasses, cameras and a bear gun.
If getting out in Mother Nature and sleeping under the stars sound fun to you, but you have never done it before, my advice is to start local. We have a lot of great places to camp in the Peoria area. The more you camp the more you learn what a necessity to pack versus a pleasure is. For our family camping is a great way to reconnect to each other.


*Christine and her hubby, Kyle, own HAYNES FAMILY CHIROPRACTIC here in Peoria