Second Chances

Second Chances









It’s been nearly two years since my last post. In fact, I recently received the renewal notice and contemplated deleting the site. The truth is, keeping up with family, work, and school is hard enough. When you add in time to keep up a blog, it’s next to impossible.

After much consideration, I have decided to give this blog thing a second chance. After all, I am giving this dad thing a second chance…wait for it…ah, yes. Did you see what I did there? We are expecting child #2!

This pregnancy has been almost a complete opposite of when she was carrying Blake. We haven’t found out the sex yet, but we think it may be a girl. My wife has been sick for the entire first trimester and was barely able to eat. This has been so different from Blake. I was the one that got sick that time! Only once though.

It has been fun sharing this experience with a three-year old. He talks about the baby in mommy’s belly every day. He is excited about it and can’t wait to share his toys with the baby. The one thing I hope to convince him to change is he wants to name the baby Olaf. Yeah, that annoying snowman from Disney’s Frozen movie. If you ask me, that kid watches too much TV!

As we continue our pregnancy journey, I’ll attempt to continue updating the blog. Look for me to share some lessons learned, funny anecdotes, and other stories from the life I live as the smart dad.

Oh yeah, our due date is in September and I will be starting my last quarter of college in October. I’m looking forward to ending that phase and starting a new one with my slightly larger family.


Top Ten Summer Activities



I love summer. After watching Blake for the last 14 months, I am convinced he does too. When I was in elementary school I would always look forward to summer and create a top ten list of things I wanted to do before school started back. Now, I have a full-time job, I am in college, and I don’t have the summers off anymore. But, since we had Blake, some of that youthful anticipation has come back.


So, I have decided to post a top ten list. This isn’t your average David Letterman top ten list. Neither it is a top ten best things to do with your toddler. It is simply a top ten list of things that I plan to do with my family this summer. If it inspires you to do some of these things, great. If it inspires you to create your own top ten, then I have done my job.


Here they are:


10. Go Fishing

We tackled this one early. We took Blake to Papa Kelly’s private pond last weekend and he loved it. You should have seen his face when the bobber disappeared and the bass jumped around. Of course, he did have a little help from Meme pulling it in.

9. Go to a Park and Feed the Ducks

This one will be coming up pretty soon. He has already visited with Gammy.

8. Find a Pet Turtle

His first big word was turtle. He was going into the pediatrician’s office (yeah, the same one!) and said “tut tul”. My mom (Meme) didn’t know what he was saying at the time until he went in and pointed at the turtle aquarium in the waiting room and said it again. Ever since he has been fascinated with all things turtle.

7. Take Bono (The Dog) to a State Forest

We have a state forest just down the road from us and we have been meaning to do this for a long time.

6. Go to the Beach

Technically, we have already don this one too. He was just a few months old, though so he wasn’t able to enjoy it as much. The next three items  are repeats of this trip, as well. However, they are definitely worth repeating.

5. Ride a Boat/Ferry

When we go to the beach it is a tradition to ride the ferry . I am sure we will do it again.

4. Visit a State Aquarium

Blake loves to watch marine animals. Now, he will be able to walk around and enjoy the hands-on exhibits.

3. Eat a Britt’s Donut

092212120246 If you’ve never had the chance to eat one, do it. They are the stuff legends are made of!

2. Make a Craft Together

I’m not sure what this is yet. I just know that it will be fun.


And the number one thing to do this summer….


1. Go Camping

Yeah, that one might be more for Mommy and Daddy to enjoy, but I think he will like it too.


What are some things you plan on doing with your family this summer? Leave a comment and inspire others!

Hey, Dads Change Diapers Too!



It’s true. Dads do change diapers. When mother nature calls a kid, the kid don’t know how to send that call to voicemail. You could be out to dinner, at a baseball game, or even in Wal-Mart. When the kid has to go, he’ll usually go. Yes, we are working on potty training but it is a work in progress. It doesn’t matter where you are, if the kid poops his pants his diaper needs changing.  In fact, sometimes dads are out with their little one on their own and need to change a diaper. This happened to me on a recent trip to the pediatrician’s office. Let me repeat that…the PEDIATRICIAN’S OFFICE! I was about 30 minutes early because I picked Blake up from daycare and wasn’t sure how long it would take. Anyone that travels I-40 in the Raleigh, NC area knows what I mean. Anyway, we did our usual tour of the waiting room and visited the turtles. Blake’s first word besides mama and dada was turtle and was spoken in that very waiting room. Suddenly, I caught a whiff of what I thought might have been a dead turtle but upon further sniffing found that we had a dirty diaper to change. I walked over to the counter and asked where the restroom was so I could change him. To my utter shock and amazement, the nurse looked at me perplexed and said “ the men’s room is around the corner but it doesn’t have a changing station.” I looked at her with the same look she gave me and said “ well this is a dad friendly place, huh?”  She sad that she would try to get me in a room early so I could change him. I wanted to say that she was welcome to take him into the women’s restroom and change him, but my mama taught me to be nice so I just said “that will be great, thanks.”


I went in a changed his diaper and waited for the doctor to come by. While I was waiting, I got to thinking…How many places have a changing station in the men’s room? I know I have been amazed at some of the places that do. I once went to a bar that had one in there. Some concert venues do. The pediatrician’s office…nope, nada. I’m thinking it’s time to switch pediatricians.


Do you know places that are dad friendly? How about some strange places that are dad friendly? Let me know in the comments below.

How to Conquer the Greatest of the Sleep Fighters

Blake wants to be a night owl. For a time, we let him try. He would stay awake as long as possible, pretending to be energetic and wide awake. Of course, he was really sleepy and tired as he could be. He would be playing with his trucks on the floor and lay his head down when we weren’t looking. This would go on for a while before we would finally put him down screaming. Soon enough, he would wake up screaming again. We couldn’t figure out what was going on. Finally, after talking to other parents, we decided to put him on a routine and put him to bed at a set time if he was tired or not. This is working great! No more fighting the sleep monster that comes to steal the sleep from mommy and daddy.


How did we do it, you ask? Very carefully! Seriously, we set a schedule and follow it. If you have read any of my other posts you will know I like schedules.  Now, as soon as we come in from work or daycare we follow the schedule and make sure he is in bed by 8:15 at the latest.

6:30 Dinner

7:00 Bath/ Brush teeth

7:30  Playtime with Daddy/Bedtime story

8:00 Bed

So far this has worked well. No more showing up to work looking like death warmed over and drinking coffee all day. The most amazing thing that we learned from this is that the later  he goes to bed the more he is likely to wake up sometime during the night. Early to bed and later to rise is even better for the smart dad’s bloodshot eyes!


Have you put your child on a schedule? What is your favorite bedtime routine? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Is It Too Early To Potty Train?

Our son will be 13 months this week and he has already peed and pooped in the potty. No, he isn’t potty trained and we aren’t forcing him to do anything. We simply give him the opportunity to use the potty and he has, twice.


Now, I have read the articles that say potty training before age three can be harmful. I have also read that there are some signs that your child is ready to be potty trained. Armed with this information I can boldly state that…I DON’T HAVE THE ANSWERS! I do know that Blake is showing a lot of the signs that he is ready. He will come to us when he has poop in his diaper and want to be changed. He also will wake up from a nap dry. In fact, that is the first time he peed in the potty. He woke up dry and we sat him on the potty. It was just a minute or to and he went. He was so excited. He knew something was going on and we cheered him on.


We aren’t expecting him to be out of diapers anytime soon, but if he can get used to going to the potty this early, what is the harm? Again, I am not a doctor, nor do I have all of the answers. However, if you want to start potty training your child, here is what we do:


1. Take notice when your child starts coming to you with a dirty diaper.

2. Buy a potty and let your child get used to sitting on it.

3. Put your kid on the potty when he wakes up.

4. Sing the potty song (we just made one up).

5. Celebrate when your child does something in the potty.

6. Most of all, make it fun.


Of course, potty training takes time and patience. You don’t want to yell at your child or get frustrated. This should be a fun time for your child and a time for praise. We even bought a special treat for when Blake does go potty.


So, is it too early? I don’t know. We are having fun with it and he seems to enjoy it. How soon was your child potty trained? Do you have any tips to share? If so, please leave your tips in the comments section. I look forward to the discussions.

Using Google Calendar for Date Night



All parents look for a getaway at some point. Kids are great, but we all need mommy and daddy time occasionally, right? I have started using a shared Google calendar to schedule a date a week with my wife. Just me and her. Sometimes we go out to eat. Sometimes we go get groceries. Hey, we have to get them sometime, right?


You may not think of going to the grocery store as a date, but when it is just you and your wife it can be. We have some of our best conversations in the grocery aisles. The point is, any time that we can spend together is cherished.


As I mentioned, we plan at least one date night a week. Usually, it is on Thursday night because Blake stays with Gammy on Thursday night and she keeps him on Fridays. There are some times when it doesn’t work out, but that is the schedule most of the time. The important thing is to use Google calendar to schedule it. This helps tremendously when you share it with the grandparents. If your parents re like ours, they will look for any time they can spend with the grandson! If that isn’t the case for you, you might consider sharing a calendar with a babysitter.


This is how it works:

1. Create a Google Calendar – You can name it whatever you want. I named ours Blake time.

2. Choose to Make it Public or Private – I chose to leave mine private and add the email address of those I want to share it.

3. Add Email Addresses of  Specific People to Share With – In our case we are just sharing with the grandmothers.

4. Add Permissions – You can choose to allow someone to manage the calendar and sharing, make changes to the events, see all event details, or  see only the free /busy times. In order for people to use it the way I want, they need to make changes to events.

5. Click Create Calendar – Now the only thing left is to schedule. I create an event called date night on the calendar and everyone can see it. If one of the grandmothers want to take care of Blake that night, they can add that to the event. Of course, we communicate outside of the calendar, but it does give us a snapshot of who wants to babysit while we have a little alone time.


You can add other event details to the calendar that you want everyone that is sharing to know about. For instance, Julie and I use it to manage our school work. We will usually put an event that allows the other to know not to plan anything because one of us has a paper to write or something. That means that Blake gets to some bonding time with the parent that isn’t hitting the books that night.


So, do you have a date night with your spouse on a regular basis? If not, it can be easy to start and the benefits are well worth the scheduling time. If you do, what are some things that you like to do on your date night? You can join the conversation below. I would love to hear your ideas.

When a Pet Dies

cockatiel_birdI remember some of the saddest days growing up were the days after losing a favorite pet. This past weekend, we lost one of our cockatiels, Grey. He was the sweetest of the pair, by far. He was the only one that would let Blake rub his head and whistle “pretty bird.” Now, the other bird, Beck, is grieving the loss of his cellmate. Blake, on the other hand, is kind of oblivious to it. I’m sure he won’t remember Grey because he is just now a year old. They say your earliest memories are from the time you were around two years old. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about what we will do when he is of age and a pet dies.


I have heard so many stories about handling the death of a child’s pet. Everything from “he went to live on a farm with a lot of other animals” to “he is just sleeping.” Some parents have even found replacement animals that look like the dead one, and quickly make the switch while the kids are away. I even heard a story of a child that had a Beta fish for a few years before realizing that it wasn’t the same one. In fact, it was about the eighth one. The parents kept replacing it every time to avoid having to explain what happened. I’m not judging. I may have to do the same thing one day. For now, I just tell him that the birdie went bye-bye and he is content.


How do you handle the death of a pet with your child? Do you buy a replacement and wait for the child to notice, or do you tell your child what really happened?

When Sickness Strikes

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post. I admit, sometimes you just can’t do everything you set out to do, no matter how you try to schedule it. This past weekend was one of those times. I was hit simultaneously with two weeks worth of school assignments, a new training class at work, and mama and baby were both sick.


Usually, my school has 11 week quarters with assignments that are due each week. I assumed the winter quarter was following the same schedule, though I thought it was funny that week 11 was referred to as week 10 part 2, in the syllabus for my classes. Still, I didn’t think much of it until week 10, when the announcement went out. Yes, week 10 part 2 was just that. Another week’s worth of assignments crammed into an already heavy week. This meant that I had to complete two 10-15 page term papers and two final exams in one week. Or, in my case, one weekend.


On Friday things seemed to be going ok. I completed my first exam and was studying for another before finally going to bed around midnight. Then it happened. My wife repeatedly got up through the night and made it hard for the dog and I to get some sleep. When morning came around I was helpless. I went to Blake’s room and found that he, too had the same type of stomach virus that Julie had. There was no way I could play nurse and complete all of my schoolwork. So, I did what every smart dad would do…I called my mom. She was already planning to come over anyway. I just needed her to stop by the store for a few things and come earlier.


On Sunday I woke up with a touch of what the rest of the family had, but it went away pretty quickly. I was relieved because I still had to finish my papers and prepare for the new class that started on Monday, at work. After staying up until about 1 AM, I completed everything and everyone was feeling better and ready to start the week…Then came Wednesday.


I was hit head on by a stomach virus that is just now leaving. I’m glad that Julie and Blake only had a 24 hour version because mine lasted four days. Plus, I ended up going to the ER to get fluids by IV. I did learn a few things, though:

  • Drink Plenty of Fluids – This is usually common sense, however common sense seems to escape your mind when you are trying to keep up with everything. Also, the type of fluid is important. You certainly don’t want to drink apple juice all day. You need electrolytes. The same advice goes for your little one. Pedialyte is good for toddlers when they have a stomach virus. They also make a popsicle version. Gatorade is good for adults, but it is best to water it down. If you don’t drink your fluids, you will end up dehydrated with a needle in your arm hooked to a bag of fluid, in a room with no TV to watch the NCAA tournament.
  • Have Diapers Close By –  Ok, this is mainly for the kids in diapers. Those things fill up fast when there is a stomach virus involved. You may not have time to make it to the changing table. Make sure you always have one in reach…just in case.
  • Follow the B.R.A.T. Diet – No, this is not the brat diet as in bratwurst and beer. It is simply bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. This works wonders. In fact, this diet alone may be the reason Julie and Blake got over the virus quicker than I did. I didn’t eat anything for three days. They ate the B.R.A.T. diet all day on Saturday.
  • Do Not Order a Pizza – You won’t eat it anyway. After eating nothing for three days, you think you could eat an entire pizza with the works. I now know from experience that you can’t… and you shouldn’t try to eat the first slice. You will regret it. Stick to the B.R.A. T. diet. It works.
  • Do Not Pas Gas – Ok, I am a dad. I had to put this sage piece of advice in. Trust me, don’t do it.

What advice would you give someone going through, or has a child going through a stomach virus? Leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Learning to Share



Today was our son’s first birthday party. We will have his second, first birthday party in a couple of weeks. It worked out great because our dog turns three this week. Yes, we celebrate our dog’s birthday. We also call him brother when we refer to him in front of Blake, our son. Don’t judge me.


Anyway, I have heard a lot of people say that it is hard for an only child to learn to share because they have everything to themselves. I disagree with this for two reasons. One, I am an only child and I am sharing this valuable information with anyone that reads this. Also, Blake loves to share with his brother, Bono the dog. Today as he was eating his lunch, he would take a bite and pass a bite to the dog. In fact, every time he eats, he shares something with the dog. We have repeatedly tried to stop this habit but have succumbed to the fact that he is just sharing with his buddy. We constantly see the two of them sharing their toys. Blake has a toy box and so does Bono. We have  found Blake’s toys in Bono’s box numerous times. Bono’s tennis ball seems to always be in Blake’s toy box. I think playing fetch is their favorite thing to do together. They play it a little different, though. Bono will bounce the ball and bat it away with his snout. Blake will go get it and bring it back so Bono can do it again.


At the party today, we had a few members of family over and everyone enjoyed playing with Blake and Bono. After all of the play, both of them had a bath. Separately, of course. After the baths they came out and were getting sleepy. What happened next was priceless. Blake grabbed his plush rabbit and took it over to where Bono was laying on the floor as if to say “ Here, this is more comfortable than the floor.” Bono looked at it and scooted over to it, laid down on it, and fell asleep.


Yes, an only child does know how to share.


Feel free to share these posts if you are an only child, or even if you aren’t  The world needs more sharers. You can also subscribe by RSS or email.




I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Dad Blogs.

Welcome to My Blog

Hi, my name is Phil Littleton. I am a husband and a father. I am a teacher and a student.

I have been married to my wife for seven and a half wonderful years. Our son was born almost a year ago and has brought so much joy to our family over the past year. It is his approaching birthday that has prompted me to start this blog.

Before he was born, I was looking forward to his birth, while wondering how I was going to do it. I work a full-time job as a corporate trainer (that’s the teacher part), and I have been a full-time online student for the past two years. Now that we are approaching his first birthday, I look back and wonder how I did it.

If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that experiences are lessons to be shared. That is my intention for this blog. I will share my experiences from the past, the present and the future. From time to time I will share tools that I have found that help me in my personal and corporate life. Other times I may share milestones that our son is coming to.

I hope you will find this site useful in your personal life as well as your corporate life. If you do find it useful, please subscribe to be updated each time there is a new post. Also, feel free to leave comments in the comments section. As I stated earlier, experiences are lessons to be shared. We all have a lot that we can learn from each other. The comments section is one of many places that we can do that.

Until next time,