Get to Know a Mama

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.



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!


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!).



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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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!


Family fun?


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.


** 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.


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!


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.


Get to know a local mama: Meet Jen

I don’t think you can teach that in a video game.

I was born and raised in rural Congerville, IL. I was blessed to grow up in the country on a small farm. We had many farm animals. We were the kids that built forts in the barn and the woods and made mud pies and mud slides in the creek. No doubt there were times as I grew older, I had wished I lived in the city and had neighbor friends closer than 1 mile away. Now, looking back and raising my own children on the same land, I wouldn’t change a thing.

We rode our bikes to our friend’s house and to the nearest town for ice cream, about 3 miles away. We rode our bikes to our neighbors to play and swim.

When I was 15, I got my first job at the local campground and rode my bike to work everyday. It was here that I met my first true love and married him 5 years later.

I attended Illinois Central College after high school, initially in Occupational therapy and then went on to nursing school at Mennonite College of Nursing. I had always looked up to the Nurse Pracitioner at our local Family Doctor’s office and wanted to be just like her. I was blessed to be able to go back to school after our first born and get my Master’s degree in Nursing to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. I have been working in this role for 14 years now and can truly say, “I love my job.” It is very rewarding, helping those in need.


We have 3 children, Emma(16), Quillian (11) and Waylon (9). They are truly the light of my life. They are our legacy. My husband and I were married for 18 years until he passed away from Melanoma in 2015. He battled this for 5 years and fought a terrific fight against this horrible illness. But trials just make us closer and stronger and make us appreciate what we have.

So…my passion is being a good mom, teaching my kids to be healthy and take care of themselves. I have also started fundraising for Melanoma Prevention. We started our first annual adventure race last year. Kayak- Bike-Run Race. Next year we plan to have a kids adventure race also. The kids are really excited about this.

I really love the outdoors and anytime I can get my kids out to hike and explore, we go. Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, shed hunting, mushroom hunting, you name it. If it can be done outside, we go.

I love watching the excitement on their face when they find special treasures in the woods or the creek. We are looking forward to warmer weather when we can enjoy sitting around the fire out by the lake, playing flashlight tag and camping out on the lawn watching the stars.

Having groups of kids over and playing games outdoors, making S’mores by the campfire and enjoying Nature is what we do to keep our kids off electronics. I really do try to limit the screen time.

All of my kids have Archery bows and so target shooting has become another favorite past time. We also have horses and are blessed to have areas to ride them on. Trail rides are especially peaceful.

My youngest, Waylon started caring for our Chickens a few years ago and enjoys watching them grow and collecting the eggs. He sells them to the neighbors.

Quil, our middle child, raised a Turkey last year and we had him for Thanksgiving Dinner. He was delicious, of course!

Emma, our oldest, is in charge of the horses, but I enjoy helping also. Caring for animals has been healing for all of us in a way. We all enjoy time outdoors with our pets. The chores they have with the animals teaches them to be responsible and shows that hard work does pay off. I don’t think you can teach that in a video game.