Baby Alert Condition: Yellow
Aug 14th, 2017 by Blaise

NOTE: We’ve been inundated with folks checking in on our little lass, Arabella Skye’s arrival for the last couple of weeks, so I figured that I should start posting updates to the world. In the coming hours, we expect her arrival to commence…

Alert Condition Yellow

Our forward observation teams report the appearance of major perturbations in maternity-space! These contractions are expected to presage an incursion, but haven’t yet necessitated any action on the part of our baby-action teams.

More details will be broadcast as they become available…

Domestic Terror (No, not that kind)
Nov 14th, 2016 by Blaise

Welp, we at the Hartley house had a hell of a weekend. Three days of hard labor, topped off with a little terror and a trip to the hospital.

After 2.5 years of having a child in the house, our “stuff” has exceeded our capacity. We can’t throw anything out, you see, because we’re going to need it for the next child, but in the meantime, we need more “stuff” for the current child, and have nowhere to put it. We could get rid of some of our older “stuff”, but that means spending months we don’t have sorting it all, to decide what to get rid of. As a stopgap measure, the decision was made to erect an 80 square foot storage building in the yard to house the “temporary” overflow. I believe this means we have officially become a Typical American Family ™.

Pursuant to this plan of action, the Hartley clan spent the long weekend assembling the aforementioned shed, a Home Depot monstrosity comprised of several hundred parts and tens of thousands of fasteners (hyperbole only just barely required for this description), all of it primarily composed of sheets of incredibly thin, sharp sheets of metal. The work was endless, thankless, frustrating, hand-slicing (yes, we had gloves), and supremely boring to a two-year-old, who vacillated between “helping” by moving things that were needed to places that were unexpected and hindering by producing an astonishingly productivity-hampering stream of sundry noises, questions, demands, leg-entanglements, and outright bawling!

By day three, we asked one of Dashiell’s babysitters to come and take him off our hands for a few hours, providing us the time and peace we needed to finish off the job. This seemed like a smart move at the time. However, after cajoling said babysitter into bringing him back outside to play, the boy managed to work himself into a playtime frenzy that involved darting recklessly from place to place while chasing a ball.

Needless to say, one of these dashes (no pun intended) led directly through our construction site, into the now 90% completed shed, over the eminently toddler-tripping door-track, and via an all-out power-dive into the unfinished rear-wall floor frame, which as previously mentioned is composed of diamond-edged sheets of doom-metal. As might be expected, much of this observation was realized by the adults present long after the fact. What we actually experienced at the time was a brief blur of motion accompanied by a crash and followed by shrieks of pain and abject terror. This was, by far, the most terrifying moment of my life as a parent thus far.

I immediately jumped down from a ladder and scooped him up, bringing him to Momma for examimation. On initial inspection, he had a welt on his forehead from where he had slammed his face into the wall, but seemed otherwise unharmed. As I have learned, however, Dashiell is quite capable now of telling us what may be wrong with him, so I asked him to “show me the boo-boo”, upon which he help up his clenched hand, opened it, and provided me with a new most terrifying moment of my life as a parent thus far. For lack of better description, as the hand opened, blood tumbled out of it, as though he were holding a cup that he had tipped too far and was spilling all over us. In a split second, I was drenched with it, and galvanized by the terror I saw in his mother’s eyes.

In less than a second, as near as I can tell, Daddy had clamped down on the hand to staunch the flow while Mommy had snatched up the boy. Thus entangled, we ran for the house, climbed a flight of stairs, dodged toys and babygates, and got to the kitchen, where the bright lights and first aid supplies live. The first thing we found was that the direct pressure was, in fact, preventing more bleeding, which downgraded the terror alert from “someone could die” to “OK, take a breath and get a look at it”.

What we saw, in the brief moment I removed pressure and replaced my hand with a wad of paper towels, was a half-inch long gash in the inside of the primary joint of our boy’s right pinky. It was deep; Deep enough that I began to worry the tendons might have been cut (I’m not a doctor, but it happened to me when I was eight, so I have some experience). I managed to get him to flex his hand, proving there was no fully severed tendon, but the screaming that followed did little to allay our fears!

Now less panicked, we cleaned up a bit and drove directly to urgent care. This turned out to be a mistake. After spending fifteen minutes driving the wrong way (we discovered) to our doctors’ urgent care facility, and another fifteen answering questions that could as easily have been answered during or after an examination, in an act that has me seriously considering the need for a change in family doctors, a nurse told us, “Oh, well, if it’s a cut that might require stitches, we can’t do that. You should go to the emergency room…” The nearest emergency room, of course, was ten minutes from the house in the opposite direction from urgent care.

And so began our little slice of hell, wherein an hour and a half from the original accident, we began the waiting…

We actually got in and examined rather quickly. The PA determined that in fact the tendon was undamaged and that sutures would be utterly traumatic, and thus unnecessary for such a young child, so she stuck him back together with super-glue. We were told to wait right there (on a gurney in a hallway, since they had no beds available) for a nurse to come and put a protective bandage over the hand to prevent picking etc.

Two hours later, I found myself begging a random nurse to find it in her heart to finish up my child’s treatment, if for no other reason than so that we could stop covering his ears to protect him from the terrified crying and moans from nearby beds. Just as I finished this request, the woman in the bed parked next to us in the hallway stopped breathing and was whisked away to the “crash cart”, while my son tried to look around us to see what the commotion was all about.

I should perhaps point out at this point that both my wife and I lost our mothers to terrible diseases that involved years-long hospital stays while we were still in college, and have rather raw feelings about hospitals in general, and specifically about this particular hospital, where my father passed from cancer six weeks before our son was born there. We were both absolute emotional wrecks at this point, our now perfectly happy and curious son actively trying to determine what was wrong with Momma’s eyes.

I was literally moments from beginning a furious tirade at the nurses’ station (one which would obviously have been misplaced, but try telling that to caveman-daddy-brain), when a nurse bustled up to us with copious apologies, wrapped the bandage, and gave us our discharge papers.

We went to McDonald’s for dinner. Dashiell chose. Incomprehensibly enough, it went a long way toward making everything better. Also, he is now addicted to pencil-top trolls, a fad I had assumed died somewhere in the early nineties!

As a side note, our son was little affected by this whole thing. By the time we were at the “hopipal”, he had decided he needed no help holding the paper towel clenched in his hand, and was happily running around the waiting room asking for snacks and climbing things. He charmed every person he met, and although in clear pain, only even cried during treatment when the saline syringe they used to irrigate the wound first opened its seal, spraying out with a pop that startled him.

We got him home, put him happily to bed, curled up together, and cried and shook far more than he had.

This morning, when I woke him up, he asked me if we could go back the the doctor, because he wanted a matching bandage for his other hand. When I told him he didn’t need to go back to the doctor, he asked if we could go to a different doctor then. I love my boy…

Oh, Hell…
Nov 3rd, 2016 by Blaise

I just need to put this out there, for what it’s worth. Our two-year-old went out for his first real trick-or-treating in our neighborhood this Halloween. He came back with a giant load of candy, a huge, exhausted smile, and an odd little plastic bag that held a couple of pieces of what as kids we called “beat candy” and a tiny book.

HellFortunately for my family, I vaguely recognized the tiny book from pictures I’d seen online years ago, and intercepted the bag as it came out of the pile. It was what’s known as a “Chick Tract”, one of a few-thousand little religious propaganda cartoon books published by a fervid, puritanical nutjob named Jack Chick. I gave it a quick read to confirm.

This hateful little tome tells the story of a child being beaten and sexually molested in a foster home by filthy, evil atheists, and how he is saved by a crusading cop and a foster home full of Jesus freaks (with a weird side trip into how the UN tacitly approved the rape and murder of millions in Rwanda, because they’re filthy *European* atheists, of course), who teach the boy he’ll only stop feeling guilty for being molested if he prays for his molester’s soul, but it’s OK, because once he’s forgiven them, God will make sure they have a terrible accident or heart attack, die young, and go to hell.

Needless to say, I first threw away the candy, lest my child discover it was laced with something by the detestable purveyors of this monstrosity, then spent the rest of the evening keeping my rage from showing to my family. All I could think was, what if he were five, and gave it read it on the way home before I saw it? What if I never caught it, and this poison were poured into my impressionable child’s head with no counter-information from us? How many children actually saw and read this poison that night, and how many were mentally mature enough to filter out the hatred and perverse sex-obsession and see it for what it was?

I’ve been sick with seething hatred of these loathesome creeps for days, and needed to say it here to get it out of me. In one sense, I’m glad I have only a vague idea of the block it might have come from, as I really don’t know how I’d handle myself if I could go bang on their door. In another sense, I hate that I don’t know, because I can’t do anything to prevent my child from being exposed to their depravity in the future!

I suppose at least, in the unlikely event there IS an afterlife, I can take some comfort in the fantasy that wherever I end it up, it won’t be wherever they are!

Home, Sweet Hopeless – Welcome to Troy
Jan 4th, 2016 by Blaise

Vandals #3Let me tell you about the love/hate relationship I have with Troy, my adopted hometown.

I spend a lot of time here, and I really love it. I love the people here. I love the art and nerdiness that abounds. I love the actual Victorian architecture that is just everywhere (including in my own, endlessly decaying but beautiful home). I’ve put thousands of hours into making Troy a better place over the years, working to stop the demolition of its one-of-a-kind 1914 vaudeville theater, getting dog-park legislation passed and a dog park built, going to hundreds of neighborhood and city meetings, building a makerspace, you get the idea. The people of Troy have rewarded me with actually caring about this stuff, and supporting it.

I also hate Troy, because it seems that the city regularly goes out of its way to make me want to leave. Here’s a little story as an example:

Our little family has a tradition. Every year, we drive far away for the New Year’s holiday, to spend time with close friends we rarely get to see. This year, the plan was the same. We ran into a minor (I thought) problem, in that there was to be an inch of snow the night before we left. Since I have a 4×4 truck, I pretty much ignored this issue, as even five inches is trivial to simply drive over, if we are in a rush.

Then, the morning came. Everyone on the street had an inch of snow on their property. Everyone but us, that is. We had six inches of jumbled, icy carnage covering our sidewalks and the first ten feet of our driveway, courtesy of the city’s snowplow brigade. You see, we live on a right-turn lane, meaning no cars can park in front of us, so the plows swing in to the curb, and dump an entire block’s snow on our property. Not only would this have been dangerous to drive over, it was flat-out dangerous to anyone who might have walked on our sidewalk. So I shoveled, for an hour.

I just barely had things clear enough to get moving, when the plow came by again. Since folks down the street were now awake, and had driven away, the plow collected all the previously protected snow all down the block and once again dumped all of it on our property, while traveling at about 45 miles per hour (an estimate based upon my observation and the fact that the sprayed snow made it onto our porch, 20 plus feet from the curb). This pile was nearly a foot deep, and completely covered the just cleared driveway and sidewalks, as well as most of our front walk. I was annoyed, but I got back to work, and spent yet another hour re-clearing our property.

Just as I finished, Mr Plow came by again, pushing another massive pile of snow from god-knows-where, and headed straight for us. I stood just inside our front gate, waving my shovel and yelling at him to give me a break! As he passed, and did the little jink that the plows do as they pass us and prepare to corner, which dumps all the snow in their plow right there, I realized that the driver was literally pointing and laughing at me! I was in shock, and didn’t think to get the plow’s number, but I will remember the weaselly, light-brown bearded, bespectacled face behind that windshield forever. I truly hope I never see it again, because I fear I will break my principal to never initiate violence against another person! After several minutes of fuming and fantasizing about the tortures I would devise, I got back to it, and spent another hour clearing our property.

Needless to say, with re-showering, resting, now having to make change/nap/make lunch for our toddler, etc. we were so late leaving that we had to break our trip into two days and spend an unexpected night in a motel so our little one could survive the trip!

But it gets better. When we returned tonight, we found that despite the fact that the entire block has since melted clear, our sidewalk still has massive chunks of snow sitting on it from yet another pass they must have made after we left. Even more astonishing was the snowpile that was still on the “downstream” half of our driveway, with plow lines still visible, where a plow had apparently come the wrong way down the street just to push the pile of snow that had accumulated past us at the corner up into our driveway!

But it still gets better. We also discovered that several panes of glass in our front entryway had been smashed out by the bottles of beer we found shattered across our front porch! That’s right, not only did our vacation start with hours of back-breaking labor, it ended with it too. At least an hour of cleanup, then talking to police, then papering over the broken panes, then filing an online police report because the officer they sent “couldn’t really do anything”, all while desperately trying to keep our cranky, tired-from-eight-hours-of-driving toddler awake until his bedtime!

Thanks, Troy! I hate you, but not in a metaphorical way, at the moment. Right now, I hate you with the burning rage of a thousand suns, and want you to be obliterated by an asteroid impact a week after we sell our home and get the hell out of here…

Vandals #1
Vandals #2
Vandals #3

Happy Holidays, Troy. UP YOURS!

Vandals #4

Things I Never Thought I’d Hear Myself Say…
Nov 21st, 2015 by Blaise

So at twenty months of fatherhood, I’m taking a step back to review. I had planned this to be a fluffy little romp through some funny thoughts, but as it turns out, there’s a lot of much more important stuff to talk about! (And some pretty funny thoughts).

To start, I have to wonder how a situation can be simultaneously so difficult and so enjoyable. I mean, sure, everybody talks about how only things that are a challenge are worth doing, yadda yadda, but seriously, this is a whole different level! I love being a father. I love the babbling. I love the way my boy looks at me and his mother. I love his giggles. I love watching him learn to stack blocks, and hearing him put his first sentences together, and seeing him grow like a weed. I’m deliriously happy! And yet, at the same time, I feel like I’m tied to a treadmill that only ever goes faster, with lava all around, and an angry spider-monkey on my back. On a good day.

Then, there’s my recent realization that I will likely not survive my son’s childhood. I’ve been heat-butted, scratched, kicked in the proverbial family jewels, had my eyeball sliced open, and been tripped at the top of a flight of stairs, and that’s just the stuff he did by accident! Today, as a game, when I wasn’t looking he grabbed my left pinky and twisted so hard the second knuckle popped out. Also, his silly antics and interesting attempts at pronunciation make me laugh so hard at times I think I’m going to pass out!

Now for the good stuff! I started with a really big list of dopey things I’ve found myself saying, but I decided to leave off the majority, because they were sort of expectable. I’ve winnowed it down to just the most insane things fatherhood has driven me to speak out loud in the last year or so:

  • Why is there so much snot on this sandwich?
  • Daddy isn’t angry, sweet boy! His eyes just leak when you smack him in the face with that.
  • Don’t rub bread on your mother.
  • Give me that. What is that? Oh god, oh god, oh god! What is that? Get it off!
  • Don’t stand on the dog.
  • No, that won’t fit in my ear. No, it won’t fit in your ear either. No, Mama’s night-night. OK, good luck with that!
  • Don’t lick the dog!
  • You don’t want to put that racetrack in your pants…
  • No! No! No! Don’t eat that! Don’t eat that! Don’t eat that! At least chew it…
Bad Day? Things could always be worse!
Aug 16th, 2015 by Blaise

Bad DayI always stand for everyone’s right to complain. I like to complain, myself. It’s majorly cathartic!

However, on this particular day, I need to give everybody a heads-up. By all means, feel free to complain to me about something, but if whatever it is doesn’t remotely approach the pain and terror of trying not to drop your terrified, bellowing, slick toddler while simultaneously trying not to slip and fall and also to clear your eyes and ear-canal of his stomach acid, you’ll probably get an earful yourself!

Baby Pics For Your Ooohs and Aaahs!
Jun 23rd, 2015 by Blaise

It seems I have been remiss. Apparently, in my attempt not to be that Dad who’s constantly forcing people to look at pictures of my child, I’ve actually gone too far, and deprived a number of interested readers!

In order to remedy that failure (and maybe get a couple of the more aggressively interested of you off my back!), I present the following. You may now squee:


Chocolate Good

Tulip Fest

I Don't Hate Water???

Elton John?

Baby’s First Words
Jun 20th, 2015 by Blaise

First WordsAnd here we are, the big milestone! Our son Dashiell has begun to master the art of speech. He’s a little late, but he jump-started by starting out withe three words, rather than the usual one.

As you’d expect, two of the three are “Mama” and “Dada” (the second whispered creepily, but hey, ya pays your money, ya takes yer chances!). The third, which I actually argue was the first of the three (of course, I only know what I myself heard), was “UhOh!” I am painfully certain that he understands this word, as he shouts it gleefully every time he pulls something off a table onto the floor or breaks something!

If there had ever been any doubt, this would be the absolute clincher. He’s my son!

Judging by my own history, there is a word of which his discovery will mean a tale of woe… “Experiment!”

First Tantrum
Jun 14th, 2015 by Blaise

I suppose it had to happen eventually…

Yesterday afternoon, our fifteen month old toddler reached yet another milestone! He lost his shit for the very first time. It seems that he had developed and implemented an intricate plan whose pivotal component involved placing a large piece of his ‘Mum Mum’ cracker in a specific spot on the kitchen floor and keeping it there for some unspecified amount of time. Immediately afterward, our bull mastiff developed and implemented his own, somewhat less intricate, plan that involved removing that cracker from the specific spot and depositing it in his own stomach.

This thwarting of his plan displeased young Dashiell no end, and he began a campaign of screaming, stomping, and penultimately, throwing said bull mastiff’s full water bowl across the room and onto Daddy’s shoes. It was all very dramatic. And messy.

I’m so… proud?

My Application to the Terrible Fathers’ Club
Apr 16th, 2015 by Blaise

Well… I suppose it had to happen eventually.

As I mentioned in my last post on the topic, our son Dashiell started walking. This is great, but also scary. REALLY. FREAKING. SCARY! It took him ten days to go from a few halting steps to this astonishing fall-recover-fall-recover process (frunning? toddle-jogging? toggling? this must have a name…) that approximates running at least well enough to make him impossible to catch if you’re more than two feet away when he starts doing it!

This milestone arrived while my wife was on her first solo trip since the first trimester of her pregnancy. Her retaking of her self-actualized ways is another wonderful thing, but it meant that my son and I were flying solo for about 8 days, so I was alone when we achieved warp-speed.

We were in the living room when he first did it. I was amazed, and immediately scrambled for the camera to get some video. As I turned back, he gave me a mischievous look, and took off in the opposite direction, directly into the sub-woofer of our speaker system! Needless to say, the speaker was unmoved. The toddler, on the other hand, came out a bit worse for wear!

He bounced off and hit the floor in a split second, at which time he immediately rolled over and started screaming. His right eye was completely obscured with blood, and it was running down his face (the blood, not the eye, you sickos!). I almost literally blacked out from the fear-response this inspired in me. I was quite certain my child had, due to my clearly incompetent supervision, lost his sight. Until he blinked the blood out, and I saw the eye was quite intact, that is…

Still in shock, but no longer quite in a panic, I managed with one hand to simultaneously carry him and apply pressure to the gouge on the orbital bone just to the outside of his right eye, while one-handedly rummaging through first-aid supplies. I got him cleaned and sterilized, with bleeding mostly stopped, in about ten minutes. The screaming (oh god, the screaming!) continued for another thirty, while I anxiously waited for a call-back from the pediatrician’s office. Amazingly, after all that wailing, all at once he just stopped, smiled up at me, and fell asleep!

After seeing a picture and giving me instructions for how to periodically wake him and check for concussion just in case ( a sleep-full nigh did not follow these events), the doctor pronounced this “nothing to worry about, just the first of many minor injuries.”

I want that to make me feel better. I really do…

First Boo Boo


[The shiner lasted four days, and at nine, the scar is almost invisible]

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