Announcing Our Little Adventures Guide!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Family fun?

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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.

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** 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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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