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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

SU2C Beautycounter: Join us and Stand Up to Cancer

High Impact Summer

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and Beautycounter have come together to honor all who have been touched by cancer. Join us in bringing awareness to the disease, the value of research, and the people it impacts. Every contribution, no matter how much, makes a real difference in SU2C’s effort to stop cancer from taking more lives.

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Together with Beautycounter, Bushbaby is raising awareness and funds for SU2C to support skin cancer research and prevention.

Why is Beautycounter Working With SU2C?

Beautycounter delivers on their mission in three important ways: through our beautiful products, education and by advocating for more health protective laws. This campaign is an example of our mission in action. They believe that preventing exposure to potentially harmful ingredients from the products we use every day is simply the right thing to do.

At Beautycounter, they've banned more than 1,500 ingredients setting a new health and safety standard—intentionally screening each ingredient used for safety. This is about progress—not perfection. Because every little bit counts.

JOIN NOW by clicking on this link below. With every donation, Bushbaby will display a placard in your honor on their store's windows. Come in + let us snap a photo with your placard. We will gift you with Beautycounter samples + offer 20% off any Beautycounter product in-store.

#StandUpToCancer #BcStandsUp

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Get to know a local mama: MEET TONIA

Born & Raised in Geneseo IL.

Went to Bradley University where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering.

Met Joe while in college and married him in May 2005.

Our first child was born in June 2008 and we named her Annabelle Rose. She is a smart, kind and motivated 9 year old. Isaac Joseph was born in October 2010. He is an analytical, energetic and loyal 7 year old. Along the way, we expanded our family with a great dog, Hershey, and 2 cuddly cats.

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Joe and I are both engineers working for John Deere factories in the Quad Cities. I support Combine manufacturing. I love to tackle projects at work, but the best part of the day is coming home to our great family and learning what happened in their ever - expanding bubble! Joe and I love to ‘talk shop’ but we are careful to limit the conversations and create space where our interests do not overlap. I have an affection for quilting, but lack of practice will keep me at the novice level for the foreseeable future! I lead Annabelle’s Junior Girl Scout Troop and Joe is a committee chair of Isaacs’s Cub Scout Pack. Annabelle is on the swim team and is learning to play the piano. Isaac and Annabelle both have started strumming the guitar and take lessons together where they get to work from each other’s strengths to better their ability. I like to think of myself as a mom that is ALL IN with her kid’s activities but still reserves space for her own wellness!

Significant orthopedic medical problems have forced me to become a stationary mom in a fast-paced world. I have spent the past 4 years learning how to keep up with our active lifestyle while battling limited mobility and chronic pain. Failures, disappointments and self-reflection have all taught me how to ask for help and accept a standard different from what I might have offered in years past. I refer to it as my “evolving new 100%”. I am still learning how to say ‘No’ but I try to watch the strong women around me that can do it so gracefully. The most important thing I realized through this challenge in life was that I can teach my children to live healthy, active lives even if I watch from the sidelines. Along the way they have learned a little extra compassion. Teaching them independence is the best part of being their mom. Joe and I have such an impactful role in their life right now to teach faith in God, empathy for others, kindness and love for the planet we live on.

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Our summer plans are shaping up to be a whole lot of pool time! For the first time in several years, we do not have a family trip planned. We are looking forward to our staycation! The children have the most fun outside in the pool, on the trampoline, riding bikes with the neighborhood children and roller skating! There is nothing like going back to the basics to keep this age busy! Preteens want all the independence but are not quite ready for the responsibility. We have planned activities lined up for a fun filled summer of learning and being outside, but we will also spend a lot of days exploring and making up our own adventures. Fishing, science experiments, water balloon fights, lemonade stand and gardening are a few activities that give ‘tweens’ a chance to spread their wings while maintaining a controlled environment for the adult!

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Guest Post by CARA: Gollywhopper adventurer

Hello! I'm Cara Davis, SAHM and avid Bushbaby fan!

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I was born and raised in a small rural town in Pennsylvania called Huntingdon. It's in the backyard of PSU’s Happy Valley and the home of Lake Raystown, the largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania. I've spent loads of time in the wild as a child roaming through creeks and fields and mud. My mother was a big advocate for children being outdoors as the phrase heard almost daily was "Will you kids just go outside!"

Fast forward a few years, quite a few, and I've found myself in Peoria, IL, married to an Indiana boy. We've done our best to raise a well-rounded, well-mannered English Bulldog, Gilda, but failed miserably on the well-mannered part. In an attempt to do better with our other babies, I've placed my nursing career on hold indefinitely to stay at home. We now have a seven year old, Jack and a five year old, Ava. In a recent interview of a local mother, her occupation was listed as “professional volunteer”. Ha! I’m going to add that to my resume, too!

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After some trial and error through the toddler years, I have learned that my mom was right! Just go outside! The most miserable days full of tears, arguments and frustration can be turned around in a matter of minutes with a little trip into the outdoors. There is something calming and centering about being in the midst of God's creation. It seems to reset our moods and put smiles back on our faces.

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With Spring in the air (supposedly) and Summer on the horizon we look forward to more adventures. Our Summers are kicked off at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway watching fast cars and cheering for the pink one. My husband loves sharing this part of his childhood with us and hopes that the kids will love watching the Indy 500 as much as he does. The track is such an exciting place! From here, we will make our annual trip back to Pennsylvania where the pace is much slower and the outdoors feel much closer. Mom, now nana, and pappy have kept the same philosophy from my childhood and many activities involve just being outside. Tending gardens, having cookouts and exploring pappy's "back 40" make for a great start to our Summer. We are also looking ahead to future plans of traveling through national parks with an RV! This has been on our bucket list for a long time and we cannot wait to explore even more of our country! But, for now, I will keep my fingers crossed that Spring will actually happen this year and count down the last few days of school until Summer Break!

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We enjoy looking for new places to explore but we also have some favorites. The kids love the "princess steps" at Forest Park. I have no idea why they call them that but all of those railroad ties must lead to a castle, right? Hiking the trails at Jubilee, splashing through the creek behind our house or just digging in the dirt are a welcomed change of pace. We've found that one place we can explore over and over is Wildlife Prairie Park. Adventures there are endless. We can go and wander through the trails or eat a packed lunch by the bison or spend the whole time just going down the Gollywhopper. The key to a successful trip outdoors is to have the right shoes, layers and to be prepared for getting dirty! Bushbaby has been amazing at helping us find the right tools to enjoy the great outdoors. Everyone's sense of adventure and toothy grin will quickly emerge, once you've headed outside!