Get to know a local mama: Meet AMANDA

Please welcome mama Amanda.

Born and Raised?

I was born right here in Peoria, but didn’t stick around for long. As the daughter of a Caterpillar engineer, we made seven moves before my sophomore year of high school as a family, including an 18-month stint in Leicester, England. My three younger siblings would agree with me that frequent moving has given us many eye-opening and unique experiences growing up, as well as contributing to the closeness we still share today together.

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University?

After graduating from IVC High School, I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (ILL-INI!) I absolutely loved attending a large university and being exposed to so many different cultures and lifestyles while there. As an Elementary Education major, I also had the opportunity to experience the Urbana-Champaign area more closely as I completed student teaching in the local community. It is a fabulous area and I would love the opportunity to return someday!

Hubby/Setting Down?

My husband, Jeff, and I are actually high school sweethearts. We started dating Senior year of high school and both attended college together. As an engineering major, Jeff got a job at Caterpillar here in Peoria after graduation, and thus began my search for a teaching position in the area. We chose to settle down in the Chillicothe area for both personal reasons and commuting ease for Jeff. As IVC graduates, Chillicothe is home to us and we love being apart of the small town community. We also knew we wanted to be close to family when the time came for us to start a family. We currently reside in the Mossville area and love being able to feel apart of Chillicothe, but also have easy access to all of the amazing things Peoria has to offer our family!

Children?

Jeff and I have three children together. Our oldest, Owen, is 5 and will be attending Kindergarten this August (Time really does fly when you are a parent!). Owen was followed by two younger sisters, Cecilia, 3, and Hazel who will be 2 in August. Both of the girls will be attending preschool at our home church in North Peoria and we feel so lucky to have found such an amazing group of teachers to love on our children during the school year. Now, what this stay at home mama is going to do with two free mornings a week next year is a mystery (and a blessing!).

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Passions/Career?

After graduation, I ended up taking mid-year second grade teaching position with Peoria District 150. While I loved teaching second grade, I knew I really wanted to stay at home with our son, Owen. I gave up my full-time teaching position to transition to motherhood and ended up falling in love with substitute teaching (of course, as my schedule allows with 3 little ones!) in the IVC school district. More recently, though, you’ll find me as the Office Manager for the Communication Junction team! Communication Junction has been a key part of raising our three children, being a CJ family for nearly 5 years now, and having the opportunity to become a (small!) part of the amazing things CJ does for families and the Peoria community and is just awesome. I feel extremely blessed to have the flexibility to work from home and still do all of the stay-at-home mom things I’ve always done, but also have an outlet for personal and professional development.

When I’m not “mom-ing” or working, I enjoy getting outside, organizing random things in our house (it really is a problem), travelling, trying new recipes (and restaurants!) and exercising. Personal interests and hobbies definitely do take a spot on the back burner as a mom of three little ones, but I relish in the opportunity when I get a chance to do something just for me, even if it’s just a 20 minute run after Dad jumps back on parenting duty after work. This little bit of self-care has been critical for both my personal well-being and as I continue to grow in motherhood.

Summer/Fall Plans?

Before the end of summer, we have our first vacation as just “our family of 5” up in Grand Haven, Michigan area. We have done a weekend or two away, and of course trips with or to see family, but we are excited to begin making travel memories with our children together! We also have a “Summer Bucket List” that we are working our way through to keep us both busy at home and engaged with things to do in the area. As Fall approaches, we will be begin all of our usual autumn activities and traditions (Tanner’s and Christ’s Orchard anyone?!), as well as settling into a new school year routine.

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Fav Local Activities?

I feel so lucky to raise my children here in Peoria with all of the fun and amazing things there are to offer families. We frequent the Peoria Zoo and Playhouse and ask for memberships as holiday gifts every year (seriously, so much better than a pile of toys!). As parents of a now-confident bike rider, we will be utilizing Bicycle Safety Town more frequently as well. Our kids love being able to get biking fast without having to worry about cars, since we don’t have sidewalks in our neighborhood. We also try to hit up Shore Acres in the summertime, some of the amazing playgrounds our area has to offer (Santa Fe Park in Chillicothe is a favorite!), and getting over to Wildlife Prairie Park when we’re feeling adventurous enough to tackle it with 3 kids!

Best part of being their mom?

I feel like this is such a hard question as a mom of three very different kiddos! As I whole, I’m constantly in awe of the amazing opportunity I was blessed with to raise and care for these three. While oh-so challenging many days, I love not only seeing the dynamic and bond our children share with each other and getting to experience all of the “fun stuff” that comes with parenting, but also the opportunity parenting provides for personal growth. Becoming a parent has taught me more about myself; my flaws, strengths, individuality, confidence, and weaknesses, in the last 6 years than in my entire pre-parenting lifetime. Individually, our oldest has a determined, strong-willed personality topped with all the snuggles and jokes in the world. We call our middle-child our “quirky” one. She’s silly, creative, loves her family, and wears the middle-child hat so perfectly by being able to seamlessly transition between playing with her older brother and then moving on to play with her younger sister. And our youngest - she is also strong-willed like her big brother, but has such a fun, outgoing personality. I feel like I could go on and on what I love about being their mom!

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