Sunday, May 12, 2019

I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good

Indy's new motto: Toddler by Day, Newborn By Night.

Let me start by saying that this puppy is adorable and affectionate and playful and everything we wanted in a puppy, and I solemnly swear he is almost always up to no good.

Perusing just a few Internet resources -- "Surviving a Puppy"; "Puppies: The First Thirty Days" -- it is clear to me that nothing out of the ordinary is happening around here. We've had some interrupted sleep (and I'm reminded of why it is highly unusual for fifty-something women to have newborns). We've cleaned up some messes (and did I really think my house was dirty before Indy's arrival? Ha!). We've found suspicious teeth marks on shoes and sheets and furniture (and does anyone listen when I say Put it Away! Close the doors!)

But the good outweighs the troublesome, and puppyhood doesn't last forever (or so the websites assure me). Indy no longer views his crate as total abandonment. When we say "Crate, Indy," he doesn't welcome confinement, but we aren't dealing with the incessant barking (bad) or the whimpering (much worse). Nap time made newborns and toddlers a little more manageable, so we're glad he gives us breaks. 

He now sits and shakes, and the kids think we've adopted the smartest puppy on the planet. (Mom would gladly forego sit and shake for two other verbs that both begin with the letter "P.")

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Meet Indy

If you had peered at our calendar this week, you would have spied this notation:

Two weeks ago we had a meet and greet with a local breeder and eight of the cutest puppies you've ever seen. We selected one of the males and made arrangements to bring him home at eight weeks.

So this was the scene yesterday:

As veteran dog owners have warned me, a puppy is a cross between a newborn and a toddler. Indy is definitely more newborn than toddler at this stage, complete with the plaintive cries that will rend your heart, the sleepless nights, the sweet softness, the mystery that asks who this is, exactly, I've brought into my home? 

Indy reminds me of Ainsley in that he really, really likes being near his people. Yes, it hasn't been quite 24 hours, but already we're his people. If we're nearby, he curls up and sleeps like a baby. Apparently, I'm allowed to complete minor, fairly unimportant tasks so long as I don't get a wild hair and try something c-r-a-z-y like, say, walking into an adjacent room to transfer a load of laundry. This is not allowed. Productivity has screeched to a halt.

But I am so happy he's ours. 

John insisted on sleeping next to Indy on Night # 1. There was some whimpering and a bathroom break at 4:00 a.m. (handled by John). Night # 2 was a whole lot of crazy for reasons wholly unrelated to the pooch. Spring Dance was Saturday night. I gradually learned that the Parents of Juniors play a pivotal and pricey role in bringing all the fun to pass. Mostly this involved handing over some cash and staying up way, way past my bedtime. I popped over to Instagram to see my friend Rachel drinking coffee at 10 p.m. -- unusual even for me, the ardent coffee drinker, noteworthy for Rachel who doesn't really drink coffee. Yes, we stalwart Parents of Juniors cleaned up the dance starting at 11:00 and cleaned up the after party beginning at 1:00. Bedtime was close to 3:00.

We attempted to farm out the little people to make this crazy evening a little more manageable. John expressed deep concerns about Indy.

"Sleep on the floor next to him, Mom," my sweet, besotted John implored. "Don't make him sleep in the crate or at least put the crate next to your bed."

Were I to sleep on the floor, I'm fairly certain I would A) not sleep at all or B) be wholly unable to get off the floor come morning. So the crate was bedside as I sacked out at 3:00. It wasn't gruesome. As dawn broke, I let Indy out of the crate. He found a comfy spot under the bed and there he slept until 10:30.

Not too bad for a newborn!

All in all, it's been a great weekend. Tim, it seems, has found a replacement for the car an errant driver totaled a few weeks back. I helped our next door neighbors move. The Spring Dance was magical. My sweet ninth graders -- the class that brought me back into the world of teaching -- are now seniors and so handsome and beautiful I cried as they were introduced. The decorations, headed up by another student, were perfect and amazing and different. So proud of Clare. Kolbe was his usual steady and hardworking and handsome self. Tired though I was, I loved working with our assistant superintendent, our junior class, and the other parents, who are my dear friends and neighbors. Day of rest though it should be, I spent quite a lot of time Sunday attending to dust and dander and puppy puddles.

Welcome to our life, sweet Indy!

Indy's Easter basket.

It's full, gloriously full, and you will add so much to it!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Soaking Prayer

It has been a roller coaster of a week, and I doubt this ride will end any time soon.

First off, thank you -- thank you! -- to everyone who prayed for my dad last week. His surgery went smoothly, and the initial reports were favorable. Sadly, that all changed on Thursday when we heard that the pathology reports showed showed cancer -- an aggressive cancer, a cancer that had metastasized. On Friday we heard that the cancer was probably not typically an aggressive cancer, but that it had indeed metastasized.

We are experiencing emotional whiplash.

I have no medical expertise, so I can't explain the differences between small cell cancers and large cell cancers. I don't know precisely what "deep tissue" means. I don't understand how a non-aggressive cancer metastasizes.

But I know Dad is sick.

As my mom declined, I certainly struggled with the big hurdles she faced -- the broken bones and the surgeries -- but some of her little sufferings were the hardest to face.

I remember sitting with her as technician after technician tried -- unsuccessfully -- to get a vein in her emaciated frame.

I remember glancing at a New York Times crossword puzzle -- the puzzle that Mom did every week, in about an hour, in pen, in perfect Cathodic school girl penmanship -- and finding the puzzle a quarter of the way done in a nearly illegible script.

I remember playing Scrabble and in her post-broken clavicle, post-surgical, post-nursing home that damn near killed her haze, my brilliant mother couldn't spell the word C-A-T and, worse still, she knew she couldn't spell C-A-T, knew she was supposed to be able to spell C-A-T, and looked up at me with tears coursing down her sunken cheeks. 

She was slipping, slipping fast. There was no denying it, and it broke my heart.

But this I know: We can pray.

And this I know, too: None of this is wasted. God has numbered our days and counted are tears and continues to work in the midst of our pain and suffering and loss.

Alleluia Community has a gift of intercessory prayer. We have seen a few true miracles -- defied the odds, baffled the experts, made the newspaper kinds of miracles. More often we see less dramatic but in some ways equally as astonishing miracles  --  the young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer who lived an additional nineteen years despite her diagnosis; the husband and father, also diagnosed with terminal cancer, who is going strong twenty-five years later; truly sick people who were not suddenly and completely healed but who went on to live and to love and to serve because of the consistent, soaking prayer offered up again and again and again.

And that's what I ask for my dad -- soaking prayer.

He is the heart of our family, we love him, and we want him to live to be a doddering old man. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Food Just Like Your Mother Makes

Tim is moving up in the world of food and beverage.

He was promoted from Dining Room Assistant (a.k.a Bus Boy) to Server (a.k.a Waiter) just in time to rake in some impressive tips.

Tim studied the Masters menu with all the diligence of a pre-med major cramming organic chemistry.

And what a menu! Their premiere Masters entree? Fennel dusted elk. Yes. Tim painstakingly wrote out flashcards detailing the dishes, the sides, the appetizers, and a lengthy list of wines in all their varieties.  Black Angus tenderloin with shiitake Madeira emulsion, raspberry infused duck breast with chambord glaze, and, of course, the fennel dusted elk.

"You should feel right at home," I told Tim. Oddly, meatloaf and macaroni and cheese are not on the menu at the Augusta Country Club.

I think Tim cleared over $200 in tips last night. I wondered if they're still hiring.

Up the street at the Augusta National, Kolbe is making some serious bank as a veteran member of Litter Patrol. The hardest part would be the hours. Kolbe clocks in at 6:00 a.m. and clocks out between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. If you're attending the tournament, be sure to drop some trash in the vicinity of the second hole. Kolbe's got you covered.

Meanwhile I am part-time Uber driver and
full-time director of laundry. Completely unpaid, largely unheralded, but mostly appreciated by the gainfully employed who really are thankful for clean polo shirts and aprons.

Tim is in the market for  a reliable used car. Call, text, or message him or me with any leads. I will happily wave goodbye to half my Uber duties.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

National Siblings Day

Totally captures my three sons.

A Masterful Week

There's a little golf tournament that comes to Augusta every April. You may have heard of it.

Many Augustans open their homes to Masters guests. This year we took a baby step in that direction by renting out two rooms to college students who have internships at the National. These are students from the University of South Carolina enrolled in a course called "Golf Events," (a course which sounds much more fun than Macroeconomics, Money and Banking, Government Regulation of Industry, and most of the other classes I took back in the day). One of their course requirements is to spend spring break working the tournament. We have four very nice young men staying with us.

Hospitality for me means two things.

First, I clean with a vengeance. I sort and scrub and declutter with enthusiasm and vigor. Conveniently, the senior class yard sale coincided with my cleaning spree. A full truckload of Dolin castoffs-- a soccer goal and  a few board games, a pedestal sink and some old furniture --
went out the door in support of a good cause.

Hard deadlines are my friends. Oh, yes they are! I return items that have been sitting on top of the washing machine for six months. Hand me downs headed to the neighbors actually go to the neighbors. I wash windows I've been meaning to get to. In short, good has been done here. The kids' rooms look amazing.

But Hospitality seems to invited a second, less welcome guest: broken stuff.  I suspect that houses being houses things just break, but these things are much more noticeable when you have guests. Paying guests take it up a notch. On Saturday the AC began pumping out hot air. On Sunday the refrigerator started leaking. On Monday the toads started, well, um, making an awful lot of noise. (We have a small, ornamental pond that attracts the occasional toad except for about 48 hours per year when it attracts dozens of toads who are extremely loud because they're, well, happy. Note to the toads: You're not welcome Masters week!)

We called the HVAC guy. We put a towel under the fridge. I sent Ainsley out into the yard to catch the toads.

It's all good.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Prayers Appreciated

My dear Dad goes into surgery momentarily. I covet all your prayers for the best of all outcomes.

Here's my favorite piece written about one of my favorite people:

Two years ago I wrote the following post about Dad. I don't think I could say it today any better than I said it then. He still rocks!
My father's birthday came and went, and the post I had written in my mind never made it to the screen. My message is brief, and I lift it from the Gymboree t-shirt John wore last Father's Day:

My Dad Rocks!

My Dad rocks in a thousand ways -- some significant, some trivial.

Years ago, when my sister was considering an important decision, Dad offered some blunt advice.

"When you have kids," he shared, "your dreams die."

On the face of it, you would think those words stemmed from a life of disappointment and bitterness, from a person disillusioned and disenchanted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When my parents first married, Dad owned his own business. It was a T.V. and radio shop. Dad is a mechanical wizard and has a passion for all things electronic. I'm sure he loved setting his own hours and being his own boss.

When children began arriving in regular succession, Dad closed his business and ultimately invested decades in a career with the Bell System. He was not his own boss and did not set his own hours. It was no dream job, I'm sure, but he was able to support us nicely, to pay tuition at Catholic schools,  to provide health insurance.

In short, he let a dream die.

In truth, though, Dad is a man of many, many dreams. The T.V. shop closed, but he went on to pursue a hundred other joys -- fishing and ham radios, model airplanes and chess. He loved the water and always dreamed of living on a lake.

He had a passion for boats. We always had boats. Yes, that's plural. Dad's record was owning four boats at one time. Dad would typically buy a clunker held together by a thin veneer of varnish and spend years refurbishing it. When I was a baby, he ordered a sailboat kit and built an entire boat in our basement. He then ripped out half the kitchen to get it out of the house. True story. The entire neighborhood and the local media turned out for the occasion. 

We often joked that my father had nine lives. He was forever slicing this or breaking that while sailing or carving or chiseling.

Around the office Dad was known as "Rapid Regan";  in our family he was "Gotta Go." He attended school years before anyone had heard of ADHD. Had he been born fifty years later, no doubt he would have had a lengthy string of letters after his name. I am sure he was a challenge in the classroom and at home. My boys love to hear the story of their Great Grandmother sending Grandpa to his room and then finding him inexplicably flying a kite out his bedroom window. No doubt there is a bevy of nuns who bypassed Purgatory entirely for having attempted to divert one Keith Regan from his chess manuals and radio magazines and in the direction of grammar and algebra.

Dad is something of a character. One of his most endearing qualities is his ability to laugh at his own foibles. We laugh right along with him. Last week I sat engrossed in a game of Scrabble and listened to my sister attempt to teach Dad how to check his email. Her tone alternated between patient and patronizing as he interjected "What the hell's that for?' and "Ah, forget it! Just forget it!"

After about sixty seconds of this,  my shoulders were shaking and tears coursed down my face I was laughing so hard.

Why? Because I've hear this identical exchange every! time! I! visit! I mean, every time. Don't you know these software engineers have formed a vast conspiracy to frustrate Keith Regan and Keith Regan alone?

Dad is still best friends with Lerew, a childhood pal. I will never forget the weekend they spent driving around trying to scam free Wi-Fi access. They finally succeeded by creeping in great stealth up the driveway of an exclusive club. They came home thrilled with their success and chuckling over their antics, two men in their seventies with multiple open heart surgeries between them. I wondered if they had thrown TP through the trees and scammed a beer or two.

I remember having coffee with my sister on my parents' deck as Dad fished offshore. We looked up to see Dad gesturing wildly, arms flailing madly. Kate and I immediately burst out laughing. No need to hear the dialogue. Make no mistake about it -- someone had just lost a Walleye.

Walleye fishing is a part of everyday life because Dad is living out his dream of living on the water. My parents live on an island in Lake Erie.

To me, that is a key part of their story. There is a time to do the right thing, to let a dream die. But, in Dad's case, he was really embracing another dream. He took hold of that new dream and didn't get mired in self-pity. He didn't count the cost over and over again. He found a life of purpose, of commitment, of excitement, of unexpected joy. In the end many of his dreams did come to pass.

That's a lesson I hope I have learned from my father.

Now in their 52nd year of marriage,  my parents are now, without question, walking through the "for worse " part of their wedding vows. My mother lives with chronic pain and rapidly diminishing mobility. Obviously, my dad lives with this as well. Pressing medical needs make life on an island in Lake Erie a tad problematic.

On a recent visit, Dad casually mentioned, "We need to think about selling the house."

The house. The house he built. The house on the lake.

Dad shared this with all the gravity of discussing new tires or having a tree removed. We need to think about selling the house.

Why? Because he is a courageous man, a man willing to let one dream die so that a more important one might live, a man who knows he will not succumb to bitterness and self-pity if things -- even really important things -- don't go his way.

I pray that he doesn't have to sell the house, but the fact that he can utter those words, can face that possibility, simply reinforces my longstanding view:

My Dad Rocks!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Saints -- They Move Mountains

I love the Catholic Church.

Tim and Saint John Paul II.
I love the smells and bells. I love the liturgical seasons, the cycle of major and minor feasts.

I love the sacraments. How could I not love the sacraments?

I love the wideness of the Church. I love the orders. I love that within a single Church there exists myriad devotions and spiritual bents -- the Dominicans, the Carmelites, the Franciscans, to name just a few.

I especially love the Missionaries of Charity with whom I worked for more summers than I can easily count.

The Missionaries of Charity love the saints, and they helped me to love them, too.

We recently recognized the Feast of Saint Joseph. A busy guy, Saint Joseph is patron saint of quite a lot -- husbands and fathers, workers and vocations, marriages and grace-filled deaths. My friend Rachel encouraged mothers of young men to ask for Saint Joseph's intercession as they find their way in the world. (Rachel just returned from a tour of Israel. I had asked her to remember all our boys during her visit to the Wailing Wall).

On New Years Day, I gathered the kids around my laptop and headed to Jen Fulweiler's Saints' Name Generator to find a saint of the year for each of us. John was first up. He said a brief prayer and pressed the button. "Saint Sigismund of Burgundy," the screen read, "Patron: Against fevers."

I did a double take, as would anyone who has known John for long. About ten years ago, at around 12-18 months, John began running sky-high, cyclical fevers. His highest was 104.6 (in the middle of the night, on an island in Lake Erie). A good time was had by all! His fever episodes peaked around 2nd grade when they came relentlessly every twenty-one days and lasted 48-72 hours. Fever, vomiting, sore throat, a mouthful of canker sores -- John suffered.

He hasn't run a fever since New Years Day.

Heaven is for real. The Saints -- the canonized ones with the big "S" along with the unheralded, unnoticed ones who simply persevered in faith, hope, and love -- are there with Almighty God ready, much like our friends here on earth, to intercede for all our needs -- for lost keys (thanks, Saint Anthony!, for lost souls (Saint Jude!), for a feverish little boy suffering on the couch (Saint Sigismund!).

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Night Before

Do you have Awful Mornings? You know, late start, lunch items in short supply, everyone crabby, uniforms elusive.

John can find just one pair of pants, and they look like he wore them in a Tug of War. His team lost. Ainsley is sporting an appalling case of bed head and thinks any variety of comb or brush came straight from the dungeons of a medieval castle. I spray detangler just as she turns her head. Doink! The bulk of it shoots straight into Ainsley's left eye.

We back out of the  driveway at 8:18 instead of 8:10. Kolbe then remembers it's Blazer Day. We pull back in. He forgets the house is locked. We pass him the keys.He locates the blazer. We pull back out and in the midst of refereeing a minor squabble that has erupted, I fail to angle the car, and the van bottoms out as we swerve into the street.

My friend and spiritual adviser suggested I begin a simple practice during morning prayers: ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind three things I should do each day. As I sat for a few minutes of prayer after a particularly trying morning, I felt a nudge to focus less on the morning and more on the night before.

Note: This would be no revelation to most people.

Here's the glaringly obvious truth: What constitutes a crisis at 8:18 a.m. is really perfectly manageable at 8:18 the night before. We all know the devil is in the details. And three school-aged kids bring with them a pile of details -- the PE clothes, the permission slip, lunch money, shin guards, costumes for the play, et al.

I love, love, love uniforms, oh yes I do. I'd pen a sonnet, Ode to a Khaki Skort, if 3rd quarter didn't end tomorrow and if I weren't staring down a daunting pile of ungraded papers.

Ode to the Khaki Skort will have to wait, but know, O Beloved Uniforms, that my devotion remains unswerving.

I  admit that at or about 8:18 in the morning, when the belt goes missing or the tie is AWOL or one shoe is on hiatus, the value of uniforms becomes somewhat murky and as elusive as, well, the khaki skort that Ainsley swore she hung up in her closet exactly as instructed.

Last night I reminded the kids to stage their uniforms. "Stage" is a term left over from from my Procter and Gamble days when I'd call a plant to find out if a truckload of shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant had been staged.

Lay it all out there, ready to go.

I recently reminded a nameless teenage age son to locate a red polo, a.k.a the travel uniform, as he was due to head to a game the following afternoon. Always quick to comply, he duly located a red polo. But come morning, once again at or about 8:18, the red polo turned out to be the one belonging to a brother six grades below him.


Clearly, we need to require something more than eye-balling. In fact, I think a full on dress rehearsal may be in our future.

It all begins the night before.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Ainsley and I are dealing with goopy eyes and itchy noses and the fallout of a neighborhood that is bursting with color, but hard, so very hard, on those who struggle with seasonal allergies.

I'm not sure when I became one of those few -- those unhappy few -- that band of strugglers (Jamie will get the allusion. My ninth graders finished Act IV today). Were I to undergo allergy testing, I am certain I would come up positive for cats, chalk dust, and the pollen that is currently coating every vehicle, every bush, the outdoor furniture, my front teeth, you name it, it's covered with yellow powder.

I now take Allegra regularly, and during weeks like this, I reach for antihistamine eye drops as well. But to no avail. We need rain.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Back in the Saddle Again

John: How do you make an omelette?

Me: Step 1 -- Borrow eggs from the neighbors.

John recovering from croup but also John's reaction to cooking instructions.