Sunday, April 30, 2017

To Save a Mockingbird

Peepers is doing great!  He's transitioned to our pet yard bird now.  He hangs out in the trees surrounding our backyard and returns to the porch calling for me when he's hungry.  For a while, he was begging to be hand fed all day long.  He's down to a few times a day now, and sometimes darts away from me in lieu of being fed.  His bird skills are improving - yay!!

I can go out back and call for him and he answers!  I can hear him peeep peeep from a distance in return.  Sometimes he'll even fly over as if he wants to say "Hi Mom!"  What - you don't believe me?  Well....

Y'all probably think I'm nuts, but I've grown quite attached to my feathered child.  I've been feeding this bird for over a month now.  He's quite sweet and very smart.  I know that eventually he'll stop coming around and have a 'real' mockingbird life, which is the goal.  Part of the pleasure of caring for a baby bird is releasing them.  Grow up and go out and seek your fortune, Peepers!!

A few people have asked how did I take care of him?  I did A TON of research online trying to figure out what to do to keep this bird alive.  It seemed impossible and I didn't even think he had a chance at survival at first.  He was just so tiny and it's so hard to duplicate a mamma bird.  I actually almost gave up because it seemed hopeless, but every morning there he was gaping to be fed.  Every day I grew a little more hopeful that he just might make it.

If you do find yourself with a baby bird, everything you read will tell you finding the mom is the best bet.  Sometimes though it just isn't an option.  This is what I did for Peepers.  He was a 4 or 5 day old mockingbird chick when I took him in.

* Baby birds need to be kept warm.  I put Peepers in a box and made him a 'nest' out of a towel.  I put a heating pad under the box for some warmth.  I also made him a sock buddy.  I filled a small sock with rice and microwaved it a few times a day.  Peepers cuddled right up to it and it stayed warm for a good while.

* I fed him every 20-30 minutes at first.  I used Purina Kitten Chow soaked in warm water and fed him using the handle of a plastic spoon.  He took to it right away, but I've read sometimes you have to force them to eat.   If the bird is cold and the food is cold, the bird won't eat.  Keep the bird warm and feed it warm food.  Thankfully mamma birds sleep all night so the constant feeding is only during daylight hours.  Baby bird will sleep all night, too!

*After researching, I ordered some Exact Baby Bird food  and began feeding him that.  I set a timer and every 30 minutes I fed him.  Usually he'd just eat 1-2 bites, wiggle his little booty and poop, and he was done.  After a while, he'd wiggle and poop as soon as he saw me, which was quite comical!!  I guess he knew it was dinner time and had to make some room...

*I took his box outside for a little sun every now and then.  Sometimes it seemed to upset him, so we didn't stay very long.  He'd get really agitated and start breathing with his mouth open which means he was stressed.

* When he was almost fully feathered, I moved him to a tall laundry basket.  I covered the top with netting and put a stick through the holes in the basket to make a perch.  He looooved the perch once he figured it out!  I added more perches and different heights and before long he could flutter to reach them all.

* I took him out for flying lessons.  I'd let him rest on the back of my hand and I'd drop it fast enough for him to spread his wings.  Eventually he'd fly from my hand to sit on my shoulder or head.  Then he'd fly to a tree, sometimes he'd miss and end up on the ground.  It seemed to take him a lot longer to fly than it was supposed to.  Mocking birds become independent around 15 days?  Not this one...

* Once he could fly a little, I started putting him in the tree where his nest was.  Several times he hopped in the nest and went to sleep!  I started with a few hours of tree time and worked up to all day tree time.  I'd check on him often and feed him, of course.  For a long time, he just sat in the tree.  He had no idea what to do.

I spent a lot of time with him outside working on flying.  He'd flutter off my hand and this is what I'd get:

Eventually he caught on and started leaving the tree, but he'd always return.  I'd put him in his cage at night and put him back in the tree in the morning.  I was still hand feeding him all day long as he didn't have any interest in trying to feed himself.

*Finally, he seemed to have enough 'bird skills' to be left out at night.  He had a hard time learning to eat on his own.  I was overjoyed to see him eat a bug!  For the first few days, he was at the back door begging for food constantly.  He'd start at dawn - peeep peeeep peeep.  He'd get quite angry if mealtime was delayed.  I held off and little by little am hand feeding him less and less.  I see him pecking around on the ground, so he's getting it.  He's on his way to being independent!!

Peepers is 5 weeks old now and doesn't go far.  I do go out and call for him every morning, and sometimes he'll fly to the fence wanting a few bites of his baby bird food, but sometimes not.  Sometimes I hear him calling me from the trees to go out and feed him!

It truly has been amazing watching this little bird grow.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Raising a pet mockingbird

Our Peepers is still hanging around.  He's a few days shy of one month old now.  (I call him 'he' but I strongly suspect he is a she!!)  Last night I left him outside for the first time.  For a while, I was letting him free during the day and caging him at night.  He was picking the most undesirable spots to sleep, like practically on the ground.  I wasn't sure he had enough bird sense to fly away from a predator, so I thought it was best to put him some place safe.  The neighbor's cat has stalked him and he flew away, so at least there's that!!

Peepers still hasn't gained his independence though.  He flies from tree to tree and has even left the yard, always to return to be fed though.  He pecks around and I've seen him eat a few small bugs.  I can hear him calling for me about 6am as the sun comes up.  He gets quite angry or HANGRY if I don't feed him right away.  It's quite funny and hard not to give in to his demands.  He wants his baby bird food and he wants it NOW!

For example, this morning I went to the gym and was gone for over an hour.  This is what I returned to:

(be sure to have your volume up for the full effect)

Just WHO has WHO trained here?  The cats are just mesmerized by this feathered creature that hangs out on the porch.

And then there's this...   Hand feeding is one thing, but here he is drinking water, or not...

He's making progress though.  Peepers first wouldn't leave the tree where the nest is.  Then he started venturing onto the porch.  Then onto a tree in a neighboring yard.  He still perches on my head or shoulder, but seems to balk at being handled.  After a few bites of food, he'll fly off only to return later.  It's cute as can be, and I am quite fond of him, but at some point it's got to end.  I can't keep feeding this bird every day, all day.  He needs to learn to be a bird.  I'm hoping that little by little I can ease up on hand feeding him and he'll eventually be off on his own, as a wild bird should be.

Most importantly, he's come a very long way from being at death's door when I found him.  For now, it seems we have a pet mockingbird or maybe it's the other way around??

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Monday, April 17, 2017

A little bit of Easter

The weeks leading up to Easter were sickly ones.  Veronica had tonsillitis.  Valerie had bronchitis.  Then I got hit with it also and was down for a few days.  Val hadn't quite recovered completely and she got sick all over again.  After doctor visits and prescriptions, we all seem to be on the upside of it finally.

On Good Friday, a friend of ours who recently moved back to town came to spend the afternoon with us.  I cooked some white beans and rice, and Clint fried some cat fish, red fish, and shrimp.  We dyed Easter eggs with the kids and had a low key afternoon.

Easter Sunday was even more low key.  I do believe the Easter Bunny has made his last appearance, as neither kid was all that interested.  Veronica seemed a bit excited, but no where near as in past years.  Usually she'd go on and on about the bunny passing, but she said very little this year.  She did want to leave out carrots.  She also got up in the middle of the night to check if the bunny had passed and had trouble sleeping, but that was it.  Valerie couldn't have cared less.  She didn't even want to get out of bed Easter morning.  She had zero interest in finding the eggs the bunny hid.  She looked through her candy and that was about it.  They are growing up.

We had Easter dinner together and did pretty much nothing but watch TV and eat candy all day!!

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter!!

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Mr. Peepers


Mr. Peepers.

While we were away at Disney, a pair of mockingbirds decided to make a nest in the Sweet Olive tree right next to my back porch.  The tree isn't very big and the nest wasn't far off the ground at all.

I guess no one was around and all was quiet, so the birds thought it was a good spot to set up shop.  I first noticed the nest a little over a week after we returned.  I saw a bird fly out of the tree and spied the nest.  I thought it was an odd place being so low as there are so many CATS around who could easily get to them.  I peeked in the nest when the birds weren't around and found four speckled eggs.

I read up on mockingbirds and estimated they'd hatch in about a week.  On Friday, March 24, I used my phone to snap a pic over the nest and saw babies!!  Little bitty baby birds.  Awwwww.

By Tuesday, we could see their heads popping over the nest and hear them peeping.  I went out back and the mamma (?) bird flew off the nest the second she saw me.  Later, Val and Roni wanted to see the babies, so we went next to the tree and looked at them reaching out of the nest once more.  Lots of peeping while the mamma perched on the roof and squawked at us.

I guess it was too much and we were just too close.  Wednesday I went out and didn't see any birds begging to be fed.  No peeping. I looked closer.  Sadly, they were all still.  And quiet.  With no sign of mamma or daddy bird.  I was so sad.  I don't know if something had happened or if mamma stopped feeding them and abandoned the nest.  She was there the day before, so had she quit feeding them long before?  A few hours later, I thought maybe I should go make sure.  This time I shook the branch the nest rested on, and up popped ONE tiny gaping beak.  Peep peep.

There's no way I could just leave him there knowing he'd die like the others.  I plucked him out of the nest, got a box and a towel and set him up in the garage, far away from the cats.  Honestly I didn't think he would make it through the first night.  I fed him some dry cat food soaked in water because that's what it said to do online.  He was so little and ate so very little.  The next morning I almost didn't go check because I just knew he hadn't made it through the night. I looked in, almost certain I wouldn't find him alive.  I moved his box a little, and to my surprise, up popped the gaping beak.  Feed me.  So I did.  Around the clock, all day.  Every 20-30 minutes, it's time to feed the bird.  (Did you know they make powdered baby bird food?  They do!)

11 days old
It's been well over a week now since I've taken this job.  I can't be away from home long because I have to feed the bird.  I'll be damned if this bird is going to die on my watch!!!  I've been keeping him warm and cozy with a heating pad.  I bought him some special baby bird food and meal worms.  I made him a 'cage' out of a tall laundry basket and some tulle to cover the top.  He's doing quite well and I hope he's independent enough to release with in the week.  He peeps at me when he sees me, hence the name Mr. Peepers.  Sometimes he just stares at me as if he is trying to figure out who I am.

Or maybe he's trying to think of a way to say "Thank you."

15 days old

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Monday, April 03, 2017

A WTF Loot Crate / Loot Wear Review

Clint celebrated his birthday last week on March 24.  Yay!  He likes wacky t-shirts, so I thought I would give Loot Crate's Loot Wear subscription a try.  I signed him up for a six month t-shirt subscription.  They would ship him one novelty tee a month.  It was not expensive, only $43, but my credit card was charged with in seconds.  The website and the email I received claimed that the first shirt would arrive before the end of the month.

You did it! You've successfully subscribed and we're thrilled to welcome you to the Looter community. Your first package should arrive between the 20th and the 28th if you ordered by the 19th. Otherwise your first package will arrive next month. (Don’t worry, you’ll get a tracking email. Just a note, if you have any other Loot Wear subscriptions, you might receive just one tracking email in the case that they get combined). Remember, this is a 6-month recurring subscription. That means after you receive your 6 packages, your subscription will automatically renew (unless you cancel or there’s a zombie apocalypse).

Sounds great.  Okay!!  I figured there was a 50/50 chance that the first shirt would show up before the 24th.  

It did not.

In fact,  here it is April 3, and we still have no shirt.  

I managed to get a tracking number out of Loot Crate's Customer Support and the shipping label was printed a while ago on 3/20.  Then nothing.  It hasn't actually shipped yet.  Hmmm.  I decided to check Loot Wear's Facebook page, and found comment after comment asking about the delay, asking for updates, asking for tracking, etc.  

So it wasn't just me.  They are having some problems fulfilling orders in a timely manner, but are being very vague about it.

I opened a ticket and contacted Customer Support again asking for a status update.  The response was:

Once we ship your shirt, you will receive a tracking email.

You don't say??  (That was my actual response.)   Next I got:

Unfortunately, the March shirts and underwears are delayed and we do not have a specific date of when they could be expected to be delivered.

So, basically what Loot Crate / Loot Wear is saying is that they have NO IDEA when March orders will ship.  Well my happy self replied and said to cancel the whole thing.  If I ordered a March subscription box, I expect to actually receive it in March.  After reading the Facebook comments, delays seem to be an ongoing issue.  Since the shipping label had been printed, they would not let me cancel March, but I was able to cancel the rest of it.  I also filed a dispute with my credit card company.  

I've been reading through the posts on their FB page and made a few comments.  I told them I was unhappy with not receiving what I paid for on time.  I seemed to be getting the runaround with out any direct answers.  I replied to a few others who had the same issue as I did.  

Yesterday I log on to find out I have been BLOCKED.  YES  Loot Crate and Loot Wear both have me BLOCKED from commenting on their Facebook page.  Instead of addressing the issues, I get blocked!!??  WTF.  Never mind I was a paying customer.  Never mind I just want the damn shirt I am owed from weeks ago.  What kind of customer service is that??  They block people for wanting an update on their order??  If that's how it's going to be....

Bye bye Loot Crate.  I shall buy no more from you.  

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Last one ~ Disney Photopass aka Memory Maker Photos

Just dropping off a 'few' of my favorite Disney Photopass pictures!  Memory Maker is definitely worth buying.  If you need a price break, there are lots and lots of people who host shares out there.  Someone purchases Memory Maker, then a group with similar travel dates split the cost.   You just have to know where to look to find a share!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Disney ~ last day!

Since we had a late night at Disney After Hours, we slept in a bit on Friday and took our time getting moving.  I thought that we would have had our fill of the Magic Kingdom by Friday, so we had planned to visit Animal Kingdom.  Both girls were so sad to leave MK Thursday evening that we decided to go back to MK and skip AK.  They wanted to see "Wishes" one last time as it is ending in May and being replaced by a new fireworks show.

We ended up just hanging around Main Street for a while hoping to catch a glimpse of the Festival of Fantasy parade.  We had a dining reservation at O'hana at 4:00, so we had to leave MK just as the parade was about to head down Main Street.  Bummer.  I'm glad we left when we did though because the monorail was down and we ended up having to wait for a boat.  All was good though and we made it to our reservation just in time.

O'hana was probably the best meal we had all week!!  I do believe it will replace 1900 Park Fare for our dinner.  We ordered off the kids' menu for Val and Roni just in case, but they both actually liked the food.  Veronica didn't even eat her hamburger.  O'hana is definitely worth doing again.

After dinner, we went back to Magic Kingdom for the night.  We re-rode a few things, watched the dance party parade, and Val rode Space Mountain (by herself!) twice.  I took Veronica shopping in the Emporium and we got a spot to watch Wishes for the last time ever.  This is the first trip we were able to stay for the fireworks.  Veronica has always been sensitive to noise, and they were much too loud.  We've watched from the Ticket and Transportation Center before, but never up close.  Both girls stood there teary-eyed when it was over.  We hung back a bit and waited for some of the crowd to thin out before catching the ferry back to TTC.

Saturday morning we packed up and headed out about 9:30am.  Clint drove until we hit I-10 and I took over.  He slept a bit while I drove for about 5 hours.  We had hotel reservations to stop in Alabama for the night, but when we hit Pensacola, FL we decided to keep going and drive straight through.  With both of us driving, it wasn't bad.  We got back home about 10:30 Saturday night - whew!

It was a great vacation....   I love me some Disney World!!  Is it too early to start planning for 2018??

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Disney After Hours at the Magic Kingdom - a review

When Disney first introduced After Hours last year, it wasn't well received.  It had a $150 per person price tag for one, and not many people seemed to 'get' what it was actually about.  For three hours after closing, you'd get the Magic Kingdom to yourself.  Almost.   It is a limited ticket event, a very, very limited ticket event.  Nothing official has been released, but it is said to be limited to 3,000 guests, which results in a very empty Magic Kingdom.  I read reviews and saw pictures of an empty park.  Reports were consistent that the Magic Kingdom was deserted and often guests were the ONLY riders on attractions and sometimes could stay on as many times as they wished.  We could have almost pulled it off last year as one of the After Hours events fell on our very last day.  We had an early flight the next morning though, so we didn't even really consider it.

THIS year, however, Disney announced 2017 After Hours Event dates long before our vacation and with a new lower price of  $119 per person.  Still pricey, but isn't everything at Disney??  It did not take much convincing but we knew we had to do it.  Who knows if this event will continue, so we didn't want to miss what could be our only chance to experience a (nearly) empty Magic Kingdom.  I purchased tickets for March 2, 2017.

The tickets claim you can enter as early at 7pm, but I knew from reading reviews that the event entrance had been set up as early as 4pm.  I ended up re-arranging some of our dining plans to leave that afternoon wide open.

We slept in a bit, drove to the Magic Kingdom to park (since that was where we'd be leaving from,) then hopped on the monorail to spend the afternoon at Epcot.  I had a few Fast Passes booked and we did a few things that the kids wanted to do.  At exactly 5pm, we were walking through the event entrance picking up our lanyards at the Magic Kingdom.  With a few hours to kill, we wandered around a bit.  The kids rode Dumbo and we grabbed dinner at Pecos Bill's.

We went back to Main Street just before Wishes and Once Upon a Time to get a good spot.  We saw few lanyard people, but not many.  At 9pm the park closed to everyone who was not wearing a lanyard.  I was a bit surprised at the crowd crossing the bridge back to Fantasyland.  Part of it was because of the many people heading to Mine Train and Peter Pan it seemed.  We split up here, as I didn't want to ride Mine Train but the kids did.  Clint went one way with them, and I headed to my favorite - The Haunted Mansion.  I half expected it to be empty as well, but I was joined by 14 others.

I met up again with my family and rode a few things together -  everything was walk on.  I mean everything.  You know those rides with 120++ minute wait?  WALK ON.  The longest lines were at the snack/drink carts.  We did split up again, but in three hours we managed what probably was two full park days of rides.

Mine Train
Haunted Mansion x 2
Peter Pan x 3
Big Thunder x 2
Jungle Cruise
Magic Carpets
Tea Cups
Both sides of Princess Meet and Greet
Winnie the Pooh
Space x 2 

We also stopped for Mickey Ice Cream bars, popcorn, and drinks.  We did a few Photopass pictures and hung out on a quiet Main Street USA.  I have to say we had a FABULOUS night.  MK did not seem as empty as reported at the earlier After Hours Events and rumor was 3/2 was close to being sold out.  Word must be getting around about how great this is!  There seemed to be a few people around almost everywhere, but still it was nothing compared to the normal crowd level.

It was rather expensive, but you could easily replace a few regular MK days with DAH.  Or just to DAH and use your park days at Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Studios.

Was it worth it?  YES
Would I do it again?  YES

I really hope Disney continues this and that it falls during our next trip!

Now on to pictures!!  But first, for reference here is what Main Street USA and Fantasyland look like on a regular day:

Here are my pictures from Disney After Hours, March 2, 2017

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