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We haven’t done any product reviews on here for a while, but this one I really wanted to share with you. Even though I am not sure if our recent toddler sleep success is directly related to using this sleep trainer (it might just be a coincidence or a phase like so many others), I definitely think that it is a great product and could help some desperate parents with early bird kids.

Here is our sleep story: Milo has always been an early riser. Just like his mom he gets tired when the sun goes down and is wide awake at sunrise. As opposed to me his inner clock is stronger than any blackout curtain or blind. In the first 20 months of his life he has probably slept longer than until 7 AM only a handful of times. His usual wake up time used to be anywhere from 5:30 to 6:30 AM and he would announce it with a loud yell for MAMAAAA! So no sleeping in for me either.

When we got back from our trip to Germany in May I feared for the worst jet lag considering that his inner clock would be set even earlier. So, while we were in Germany I ordered this sleep trainer. At that point it seemed to be the best product on the market and after using it I can confirm that it has some major advantages over other similar products.

Here’s the big idea: You set the desired wake-up time. For the beginning of the training set the time to the current wake-up time and then move gradually later each time after the kid has adjusted. At wake-up time the display will change from a blue star to a yellow sun. Explain to your child that it is time to get up only when the sun is up. In the evening you can activate night time mode at any time – the sun will set and turn into a blue star. Explain to your kid that the star is now asleep and he has to sleep as well until the sun rises again. Little stars go out one by one and show the progress of the night.

Pros:

  • Big display with big and easy to understand symbols
  • Works as a night light with 10 different settings of brightness
  • Works as a digital clock during the day
  • Also has a separate timer for a day time nap
  • Can be used as an alarm as well
  • Has a key lock that prevents kid from turning on day-time mode himself
  • Comes with a story book that explains how it works to the kid

Cons:

  • Currently not available in the US. Therefore higher shipping costs, longer delivery, and has to be used with a plug converter.
  • Key lock only available for locking night time mode, but not to lock in day-time mode

Other things to consider: I think this clock works best for kids that are old enough to understand consequences and connections like “if … , then …”. I also communicated to Milo that not only does he have to stay in bed until the sun comes up, but he also has to be quiet so that he won’t wake up the star. I ordered the clock from Langtoninfo and had no problems with shipping and everything arrived in good order within the time frame that was promised.

Recently Milo has been staying in his bed/room quietly until I go get him. I set his wake-up time to 7 and that is usually when I go in. Most of the times he is already awake, but overall there are way more days now that he sleeps closer to 7 than to 6:30 AM. On some days I accidentally slept in until 8 and still didn’t hear a word. Only his diaper was overflowing by that time. So, he doesn’t even wake me up anymore once the sun is up and he is allowed to. Therefore I am not sure if it is really the clock’s contribution that makes him stay quiet in the morning or he just enjoys his alone time in his room. Either way I think that this sleep timer can really help getting into the right sleep mood. Ask me any questions you might have.

 

June 3, 2012

Germany and Back

You would figure that by now we are quite the experts in visiting my hometown Schweinfurt in Germany. Considering that I have spent 2/3 of my life there it should be nothing but a home-run for me. Usually we go there almost every year – although with adding more and more paying customers to the flight bill, we might end up with a more biyearly rhythm in the future.

In a small conservative town like Schweinfurt a lot of things stay the same forever, but apparently I myself change just enough to make every trip different and surprising. Also the contrast between the two countries brings a lot of things into perspective that you don’t realize anymore after living in one of them for a while. Without this trip I would never have known how used I have gotten to having a microwave as standard in every kitchen or being able to grocery-shop late evenings and Sundays. On the other hand I really appreciated how solidly built German houses are. You can totally sneak up on sleeping Milo when there is no floorboard squeaking and the interior walls and doors actually block sounds so well that I was not woken up every morning by a little voice calling “mama”, but was able to sleep in almost every day.

It was pretty great tohave so many people around us who wanted to play with Milo and he really enjoyed all the extra attention. Especially from his uncle Marc. My parents unpacked all our old toys from millions of years ago and even got a sand box just for Milo’s visit. He loved playing in there with his girlfriend Wilma. On other days we took him to the little animal / play park next to our house where he passionately fed the rabbits and pointed out all the baby animals. Milo learned a bunch of new German words like rein (in), raus (out), hoch (up), aussteigen (get out) – but we were unsuccessfull at training him to say cars or water in German.

Overall Linc and I had a lot of free time to ourselves since Milo was so well entertained by others. We attended our friend’s Tim’s wedding without having to worry about getting a tried boy to bed. In the second week we even left Milo for entire 3 days to meet friends in Hamburg and discover a new city.

Jetlag and flight were not too bad by the way. Milo adjusted pretty well within 3 days and even though he did not sleep much during the flights, he stayed calm thanks to many videos and observing the sky. If you don’t care about how many videos your kid watches for one day, any flight is manageable. Although we were lucky to score an extra seat on the way to Germany. Just on the way back it was getting pretty tight with two seats for 3 and a half people.

Somehow this trip back home turned out to be one of the best I have had so far. It was very well balanced with extended family time, friends time, parents only time, and small family time, free time and fun things to do. Surprisingly it was also one of the easiest going back to the US – without the usual homesickness for two weeks. Maybe because I had to go right back to work, and we came back to our own little house, and I now have a small circle of really good friends that I was looking forward to go back to. If only I could do this more often.

See here a photo gallery of our adventures: http://lincnic.com/gallery?album=14&gallery=39

April 28, 2012

Mini Belated Easter Post

I have been meaning to blog about Milo’s first big Easter experience for about 4 weeks now or whenever Easter was, but life has been super busy lately. As always. So, here we go with a really short half-cheated post about Milo’s Easter 2012.

First, read and see many pictures of Easter preparations on our friend’s Kathleen’s blog.

On Easter Sunday Milo woke up to an Easter basket with his favorite new toy – a dump truck. Or “Bagger” how he calls it.

This thing came in very handy for transporting eggs during the neighborhood easter egg hunt.

Milo totally got the “search for the eggs” thing and couldn’t get enough eggs.

Hear the constant beep of his new truck in the background? The poor toy had to carry eggs back and forth for at least an hour. After using up two sets of batteries on the first day, we decided to declare his Bagger broken. Which only a few days later became true anyway because of Milo’s rough handling. Or shall we say exuberant love. Well loved lives shorter, I guess.

A male baby to be more specific. There you go. So much for my planned big reveal of the new baby’s sex. Sorry for not coming up with a super creative photo post, I already channeled all my energy into finishing the guest room before our first guests will use it this weekend, being sick, and caring for a sick child again. A child, that also just discovered the joys of fully blown temper tantrums. Ah, the joys!

It’s gonna be interesting to see how this next little boy is gonna differ from Milo and in which ways they will be able to connect. We are really hoping that in about two years they will be fully compatible play buddies that can entertain each other for hours with only minimal supervision.

My next couple of days will be spent designing a completely new nursery for baby nummer two. And we could really use your help to come up with a cool name. Milo was kind of the only name ever Linc and I really loved, so it will be hard to find an equally cool brother name.

My criteria for a name are pretty ambitious anyway and I’m gonna tell you right now that I usually have to reject about 90% of all suggestions that are given to me. Not to discourage you, but to set a challenge, this is what the name should be like:

  • Uncommon. As much as I like the name Noah, I don’t want him to be one of three Noah’s in his class.
  • Not too crazily unique
  • Easily pronounceable in English and German. We don’t want the poor kid to have to spell out his name everywhere he goes.
  • Short. If everyone calls the kid Alex, then why name it Alexander?
  • Not easily to abbreviate or made into weird nicknames

Ready? Set. Go!

March 8, 2012

XX or XY

The most frequently asked questions from people when they realize that I am pregnant are:

  1. Is this your first? (unless they know)
  2. When are you due?
  3. Do you know if it is a boy or girl?

Since question number 1 and 2 are already answered on this website, let’s get to question number three. Just so you know, there will be no answer here today. Our anatomy ultrasound is in two weeks, but I get this question so frequently that I can’t help but have sort of an answer as to what our preferences are. Lincoln is hoping for a little girl. And I honestly don’t care at all. I always wanted a girl, but now that I have Milo I think it totally doesn’t matter what sex the baby is. Therefore I see the date in two weeks pretty pragmatically. I don’t care what the result will be, but I do want to know so that I can plan ahead. I need to know if I have all the clothes or should buy some girls stuff. And starting to look into names will be fun too. The biggest reason for me to find out though is so that I don’t have to call the baby an “it” anymore.

Whenever I have to decide about which option to chose I make a pro and contra list of the options. Not that I have any choice in this particular matter, but if I had to determine what my preference is, here are my considerations:

Pro boy:

+ We already have all boy clothes

+ It would probably be nice for Milo to have a buddy to ramble around the house with

+ I don’t really like pink. Actually I hate pink. The bright girl clothes kind of pink at least. I can deal with a pale muted pink, but not with all the girls stuff that is on the market. I know, I know – I wouldn’t have to get any of it if it was a girl, but honestly it is really hard to find anything without cars on it that is not pink and also I am pretty sure all 100 relatives here wouldn’t care what my color aversions are and buy right into the mainstream girl stuff.

+ I am actually not so much a girly type of person. I have always had plenty of guy friends, played soccer on the street with them, and got dirty in the woods rather than getting a manicure.

Pro girl:

+ Girl names are way easier to find

+ If a girl was anything like Milo, the cuteness would probably be tripled.

+ Supposedly girls tend to snuggle more than boys. And I do need my regular cuddle time.

 

So, what do you think it’s gonna be? Any wild guesses out there?

February 5, 2012

Got A Baby In My Tummy

Not in Milo’s tummy. Although he might begin to think that that’s what is in bellies because we started preparing him for some major expansion and eventually a baby coming out of mommy’s tummy. Of course Milo has no plan what that means until the new baby will actually steal a good chunk of attention from him, but we are pretty sure that underneath it all he will eventually be thrilled and thankful to have a sibling. He is just a people person and needs his own little play buddy always available.

Now, considering that we are doing him a major favor here, Milo didn’t make it very easy to make baby number two. Seriously, once kids turn 1, they switch on some natural birth control mode that makes it almost impossible to find time to do what you gotta do. There is teething, sicknesses, and other random night wakings that set off a second round of sleep deprivation that not only leaves no time and energy for parent time, but also makes you seriously doubt that you want to go through this whole baby thing again. Against all odds we were able to make it happen somehow, but trust me, it was hard work.

Little Tran number two is expected to arrive on the same due date that Milo had (August 15th), and hopefully he or she will not come out three days early so that both kids can have their own separate birthday. Six more months to convert the basement into a guest room and the guest room into nursery. After three extremely tired, mildly sick, and lazy months, the home makeover blog will be back full force very soon!

January 27, 2012

Did I Say Big?

If I ever said before that Milo was becoming a big boy I was lying. Because he is a big boy now! I mean, look at this kid. He is not even 18 months old and totally keeping up with all his older buddies. He is running, climbing, jumping, doing forward rolls, singing, dancing, and talking non stop. While I am writing this I absolutely realize that it is pointless describing all of these cool things when I could just post some self-explanatory videos instead.

Unfortunately it isn’t quite that easy, cause that kid has a serious iPhone addiction and as soon as you pull the phone out to shoot a video Milo just drops whatever he is doing and there is no way captioning anything but a kid running towards the camera with both arms reaching for the magical device. Of course it is our fault that this mini person has the iPhone completely figured out by 17.5 months of age. It’s the curse of the clever telephone. Instead of reading a newspaper, we read the news on it. Instead of calling up friends at unsuitable times, we just post something on Facebook. Instead of getting a book at the library for advice, we google the heck out of the phone. So there we are – a really bad role model for Milo showing him that phones are the most desirable toy in the world.

Anyway, we still limit Milo’s phone usage to half an hour of videos and half an hour of games a day and so far it doesn’t seem to have any negative effects on him (except for his addiction problem). He is still developing ahead of his age group, has way more fun playing with older kids and talking the days away. Lately his words have become more defined. Instead of just doubling up the first syllable of every word (wa-wa for water, ba-ba for bath), he is now very clearly saying “water”, “juice”, “car”, etc. He understands pretty much everything we say in any of the three languages and communicates clearly what he wants. I gotta admit that I am guilty of letting him go through with things I should probably say no to, just because I find it so cute how he communicates them.

So, tomorrow I will attempt another video shoot of all those fun things he does and then hopefully update with some footage here.

Cheers!