Get to Know a Mama

Get to know a local mama: Meet BRITTANY

Introducing BRITTANY!

I was born in Decatur, IL and raised all over. We relocated roughly every three years around Mississippi, Illinois, Texas, and Pennsylvania. I was a competitive gymnast until my senior year. Since third grade, I had always wanted to be a Pediatrician so I took a health occupations class in high school. I quickly realized I didn’t love being around blood and needles and figured I should probably find a new career choice. Around that same time, I dislocated my elbow in gymnastics and wasn’t able to participate in hospital rounds. I shadowed a speech language pathologist and fell in love with the profession. I graduated with my Masters Degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences from Texas Christian University. (go Horned Frogs!)

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I am married to an amazing man named Scott. We met the summer before I left for grad school in Texas when I locked my keys in my car and he came to my rescue. At the time he was working for his dad’s locksmith shop. My dining room is decorated in a “key” theme for this reason. We settled in Peoria as he graduated college first and got his first job here. Now almost seven years later, we have two darling little boys, Colby and Miles.

I have so many passions it’s hard to keep up. I LOVE learning something new and really enjoy reading. At work, I’m a “jack of all trades” and dabble in a little of everything from working with adults at OSF to babies and toddlers with Communication Junction. I really enjoy working with individuals with Parkinson’s Disease as well as teach littles and their parents sign language. Seeing people of all ages being able to communicate better brings me so much joy.

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The best part of being their mom is watching them bond. I love when Colby tries anything and everything to make Miles giggle and watching Miles’ face light up when Colby enters the room. I pray they grow up to be very good friends.

Summer or fall plans for the family?

We’ve been busy this summer traveling to see family all over. We are looking forward to a trip to Omaha at the end of the month to visit with my dad.

Helpful activities to keep you little ones active, to pass along to other local families?

We love to take “date walks” in the evenings. We all take a walk together around the neighborhood and catch up on each other’s day. I look forward to it so much! We try to find something engaging for Colby so that he has fun too, whether it’s playing “I spy with my little eye” or using his toy magnifying glass to find bugs, I think we all find a way to have fun and reconnect each day it’s so important!

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Get to know a local mama: Meet Brooke

Born? Peoria, IL Raised? Green Valley, IL

University?

Bachelor’s Degree & Master’s Degree at Illinois State University

Meeting hubby + settling here?

Mike and I met playing each other in a 3 on 3 basketball tournament in Jr High! We began dating our sophomore year of high school and haven’t looked back since! 💕 Our families are from Pekin and Green Valley so settling here was an easy decision! We LOVE being close to family! 😊

Children?

We have two beautiful girls, Carly (5) and Collins (2)!

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Passions, career?

I am a speech language pathologist! I work full time for Morton CUSD709 and part time for Communication Junction! I’m pretty sure I have the best of all worlds between those two positions! My passions in my field are working with individuals who are non-verbal/minimally verbal as well as with littles! I absolutely LOVE the moment of watching communication happen between a kiddo and their parent! ❤️❤️❤️ Outside of work I love to run and sign up for races in the area often!

Best part of being their mom?

I love being a mom and being able to share all of my favorite things with them, but I’ve truly loved watching them grow into their little (or big) personalities and developing their own ‘favorites’! My summers with them are just the BEST!

Summer or fall plans for the family?

We are heading up to Lake Michigan for a mini vacation at the beginning of August to gear up for Carly heading off to Kindergarten! We also love taking little trips down to St. Louis to cheer on our Cardinals and see our animal friends at the zoo!🐻

Helpful activities to keep you little ones active, to pass along to other local families?

Sign and Sign Story Times with Communication Junction!! Library activities...they’re the best!📚 Playing...on the floor/outside/in their room....just playing with your kids! Take time for it...they absolutely love it! ❤️

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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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!

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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