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.


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.


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!


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!

Get to know a local mama: MEET JACQUELYN

I was born and raised in Eureka, Illinois. As a family, we would leave to visit family that lived in other states. These provide me with the most found memories with all of our road trips and family surrounding us whenever we went on those trips.


After high school, I attended Illinois Central College to transfer to Illinois State University to major in education, specifically special education. When I was in 8th grade, I worked with a student that just needed a little help to get his homework done and at that moment I knew this is what I wanted to do in life.

Upon graduation, I was able to get a job where I student taught in Roanoke-Benson Junior High with grade 6-8. After one semester, I went back to school to get my Masters in Reading. I wanted to learn how to help my students read better. After teaching in Roanoke-Benson for 12 years, I was able to get a job at Eureka Middle School where my dream of becoming a teacher all started. God put all those pieces into place for me and now I still love what I do after teaching 15 years.

All the while pursuing my dream of a career, I had my rock and love of my life pushing and believing in me all the way. We married in 2003 right after I got my bachelors. We have 3 children, Micah (10), Opal (7), and Sadie (4). They are the spice in the household that keeps us on our toes and laughing all the time. We spend time as a family doing activities we all enjoy like day trips, weekend trips, movies nights, game nights. We want to instill in our children the importance of family.


Also in 2008, I was had a cancerous tumor removed from my right lung. They also had to take 2 lobes at the time. I only had surgery and no other treatment for this type of cancer. However, it has lead me to my passion of running and encouraging my children to have an active lifestyle. I have ran many 5k’s, a 10k, half marathon, Eureka to Peoria St. Jude Run, and Memphis to Peoria St. Jude Run. Since this surgery I have learned that exercising helps me breathe let alone just my overall health is better. Also during this trial in our life, family was there right alongside us helping with everything: keeping our 4 month old, staying with me during the day, making meals, cleaning our house, mowing our lawn. We could not have done all that without family. We were so blessed by the outpouring of all their love. God gave us the strength to get through that and the family to know exactly what we needed.

Throughout my entire life, I can see God’s hand in everything and it is causes me to step back in tears with great awe and amazement of his doing. We have been through both trials and triumphs and all along the way and God provided us exactly what we needed. As you can see family is that common theme that is interwoven through the my entire life. We work hard at instilling the family life style with our kids as well and sharing with them God’s plan for each one of us.

We are looking forward to warmer weather so we can be outside much more. On the nice days that are few and far between right now, we try to get outside to take a walk, run, and/or ride bikes as well as play on the swingset and shoot hoops.

This summer, we will be busy with gymnastics for the girls, swim team for Opal, and baseball for Micah. We also set up a pool at our house to get more time to be outside. We have two family vacations planned with one trip to Florida and one trip to Connecticut. The kids and I enjoy taking day trips as well to Starved Rock, amusement parks, mini golfing to get us out of the house and moving.


Our Mother's Day Gifts

Last year, we offered a giveaway as an incentive for all of our beautiful mamas out there to tell us about the most important fathers in their lives. 

The responses were breathtaking, tearjerking and beyond heartwarming. We were blown away by how many amazing fathers surrounded our Bushbaby community, and this article highlighting each of the fathers is one we go back to often to make us smile and remind us why we are here. 


Please take a minute to meet these great men and send loving vibes to them and their blessed families. We are grateful to have people like them raising little adventurers in Central Illinois. 

And while we could only pick one dad to win the cool prizes we wrapped up, we hope our little project helped ice the Father's Day cake for these dads on their special day.

…and now it’s Mom’s turn.

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Now through May 10, we would like to hear your story of your favorite Mother(s) and why they are special. Whether it’s your mother, your sister, your wife, your best friend or just someone who has inspired you with their motherhood…please share. Tell us about them through the form below, or simply email with as many or as few words as you’d like. Please include at least one picture (1-3 would be great). 

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While one lucky mama will win a special Mother’s Day gift package from all of us at Bushbaby (including a fair trade Mata Traders jewelry set, a Beautycounter clean beauty lip set and a super-soft Wild Mama tshirt from Independent Heartland - see below), we promise every submittal will make it onto our site so we can all highlight and recognize all the wonderful mamas out there. 

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Mother's Name
Mother's Name

We are so excited to meet them.