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Tales From the Motherhood: The anticipation of planning a trip

Almost as much fun as being on vacation is anticipating it, if you ask me.

As far as the brain is concerned, it’s almost as restorative, too. The remembering and the imagining, the planning and shopping, and the giggling. Oh, the giggling! About the fires we’ll make, the books we’ll take and the s’mores we’ll eat. Gooey marshmallow and warm chocolate to warm our bellies while a crackling fire and gently lapping waves make music for dear ears. It’s a miracle, these memories made, and I relish every last gooey bit of it – the preparation, too.

The kids and I planned our little getaway to Lake Michigan several weeks ago. We’ll only be at the beach for a few days but are determined to squeeze in as much fun as we can. So I cleaned out the car. Noah found the floaty stuff and paddles, and Holly groomed Jake and Posey in preparation for the pet-sitter.

We shopped for charcoal and lighter fluid, some steaks and snacks, and even picked up some sugary breakfast cereal. (No skimping on traditional vacation fare, after all! Bring on the Quisp!) My tall boy-man found the huge cooler-bag thingy on top of the fridge, and we packed our bags. Bathing suits and flip-flops, snorkel gear and sunscreen. But it’s June! The water’s cold in June! Yes, I got the memo, but so what? Off we go! Nothing will dampen our spirits. 

But first we have to get out of the driveway. The big red dog had other plans, though.

I woke up with a start, this morning. Mr. Jake panting at my bedside. It was time to go out. 

“But it’s dark, Mr. Jake. Have you looked at the time?” I asked. He had not. But IT WAS TIME. So off he went without me, down the dark stairs to the kitchen. A mama’s boy, the Big Red Dog NEVER goes downstairs without me, unless the kids are snacking in the kitchen. So I knew he was serious.

He would need my help opening the door, so I followed him down. He sprinted out into the night, his gastrointestinal distress apparent. Oh, no. An hour later, same thing. Oy. So I sat with him on the porch by the back door and together we listened to the birds chatter and watched the sun rise as his tummy settled. I recalled Holly’s account of her spotting Jake, with his Big Red Head stuffed in among the strawberries, the day before. Huh. 

“Snuck a snack, did ya?” I asked, stroking his fur. Hmm. And when the sun had mostly risen, I tiptoed into the yard in my sketchy mom pajamas, the Big Red Dog trailing behind, to get a gander at the evidence. 

“Aha! Pink poop with a side of berry guts! By George, I think we’ve got it!” I cheered, the Big Red Dog looking on. Seems the Big Red Dog had had a few too many Big Red Berries. Yikes. (Yeah, so who plants strawberries in her beloved doggy’s litter box? This girl, that’s who. Swell!

But that was four years ago, and a simple “no” had discouraged him from even looking twice, the first time he got a gander at them. I guess he’s gotten bolder, poor guy (or decided the bunnies sharing the loot must be on to something). Our veterinarian agreed. Unconcerned about any toxicity from the berries, he prescribed an antidiarrheal medicine. We put our pet-sitter on alert, the strawberry patch under surveillance, picked the patch clean and crossed our fingers. As for our actual trip? Hey, we’ve already had a ton of fun, haven’t we? 

Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at

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