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My husband and I knew that we’d want a bird theme of some sort no matter what gender our baby turned out to be. We thought about going with a blue bird, like our blue throated macaw “Jinx”, if we had a boy. Then our colors would be blue and yellow. And if a girl, maybe we would go with the theme of galahs – pink and grey, everything! But in the end, our love for toucans overcame and as I got impatient waiting to find out gender, I wanted to decorate in a way that would work for either sex so our original thoughts of themes was not going to work. Toucans it was, in neutral colors to match the room overall – sex to be determined at a later date.
Because toucans are only commonly found among ‘jungle, rainforest’ and other animal themes which I knew I didn’t want – I had to go out on a limb and ask independent designers for custom products of just toucans.
For example, the mobile I wanted:
However, I just wanted a bunch of toucans! So I sent this lovely lady a message along with a picture of some bird artwork I had ordered for the nursery already and told her I wanted all toucans with the color scheme of the following picture:
When she was finished, I received this:
As gifts, we received tons and tons of parrots, birds and toucans, all stuffed animals for her animal treasure chest. Here’s a glimpse at her stuffed-flock:
I can’t even believe how many different toucans there are out there that people were able to find. I know of a few on ebay or amazon, but that’s about it!
When I couldn’t find something as a toucan, I’d find it as a bird in general, like the door stop (etsy) or door hanger (gift). But then there were those totally original, off the wall finds like these:
For our name reveal we eventually did, I had baby blocks made custom with a toucan at the end that worked well into the room as well.
My mother found the following fabric in black, white and blue and I chose black. My grandma then sewed up a pillow for nursing, a blanket for the crib and bumpers for the crib as well. She also sewed the extra fabric with the toucans showing onto the bottom of my drapes for that room, too.
I finished the room off with tons of toucan books (gifts, pictured in the wagon) and a toucan piece of art above the crib from Minted.com.
Although what people fail to mention (or perhaps I didn’t research hard enough) is that you won’t even really use this room for the first few months. So, it still looks like this… minus the chair that I moved downstairs for easier access! Good thing that crib turns into a day bed because that’s when I’m thinking she will use it ;)!
All in all we had a lot of fun designing the room and finding little gems to add to it. The furniture is from Amazon (treasure chest, glider chair with ottoman, crib) while the wagon with the books in it is from Restoration Hardware. The night stand is from TJ Maxx, the diaper pail from Walmart, and the rug from Pier 1 Imports. The blankets are also from Pier 1 (the teal, red and purple).
I’m pretty excited for when she’s at the age to play with all those stuffed animals…!
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I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how my birds’ behavior have changed since I’ve been pregnant. I even got an email the other day about a couple that has had to get someone else to look after their cockatoo while the wife is pregnant because the behavior had changed so drastically just towards the pregnant wife.
Now I think it’s important to consider that your bird is actually hormonal instead of reacting to your hormone change. Remember that birds become hormonal twice a year, not just in the spring but in the fall too. So if your bird is experiencing hormones, check out this downloadable Horror-Mones course to conquer it immediately! From many of the stories I hear, it really sounds like the bird is being triggered hormonally rather than reacting to a big belly in the room.
With my own birds I’ve not been treated any differently… my birds are still just as receptive to me and my toco toucan, Rocko, is just as snuggly and cuddly and cute as ever. My role in their lives has not changed since my pregnancy and so I’m still the one to go out and feed them and talk to them, and randomly spend time with them.
Although my hubby seems to be very receptive to my more-tired-than-usual-days and takes over for me quite a bit which the birds don’t mind at all! He has taken on roles that requite lots of bending over (haha) like with my toucan’s giant water dish…
However, I have noticed my rose breasted cockatoo, Bondi, is very attracted to pregnant women. When two of my friends were pregnant, she was all over them! I mean, she did not want to be taken away from them and was very loving towards them. She is our most social bird anyway, but this was extreme for even her and we assumed it could be caused by her knowing they were pregnant. Though most of the stories I hear of cockatoos are opposite where they’ve turned aggressive. If this is the case for you, consider some hands-off training. This is the type of training you would have a kid do, or the type of training you’d do day one with a new bird, or the type of training you’d do with a super scared/aggressive bird.
This is when following the birdtricks.com courses is soooo important because everything falls back on those first basic steps of touch training and stationing and basic behaviors you should have taught your bird in the beginning that act as the foundation for your relationship. This way pregnant woman can get suddenly-mean-bird back in the cage without getting bitten or being scared.
It’s almost important not to immediately blame behavior on pregnancy – I think all other aspects should be looked at first like diet, overall health and nutrition and things of that nature. You’d feel awful to blame pregnancy blindly and find out your bird got some sort of yeast or bacteria infection that is actually causing the behavior change. We’re pregnant for a long time so there’s room for lots of NORMAL behavior changes throughout the year and you’re bound to be pregnant for a fall or spring where hormones will pop up no matter what.
As far as how I plan on dealing with the introduction of baby and likely not being able to be a big role for the first few weeks of birth (to the birds), my mother is coming and she helped raise one of our cockatoos – and so our birds know her. I also have a friend nearby who has taken care of our birds whenever we’ve taken vacation as well so lots of familiar faces for them and it’s nothing new for us to disappear for a weeks time and not see our birds. Everything just sort of comes back to what we preach in our total transformation series about the “gypsy experience”. If you’re not familiar with that, I’d highly recommend it because it talks about how Dave and I believe in raising our own birds and why they accept change so easily and effortlessly. It also talks heavily on socialization and you’ll understand why it’s not a huge concern of mine (not as high on the list as you know, labor… hahaha! And other more immediate first-time-mom concerns!) to be introducing our daughter, when old enough, to our flock. They’ve met plenty of kiddos on the circus for two years of sitting patiently on strangers arms and getting their pictures taken.
I’ve been on a mission to teach my dog practically all the tricks in this puppy training book I have, 51 Puppy Tricks. It’s an amazing book and if you have a puppy, I highly recommend it! Get it as early as possible, too. The reason I feel so drawn to teaching my pup all these tricks is I believe the earlier you train an animal, the better you are later in life with that animal when it comes to avoiding potentially disastrous behavioral problems. And, with a baby on the way, I want all the training done so that I have at least a month where I can just… change diapers and not feel like I need to be giving that attention to training my pup. I’ve learned that he can go about a month without training something new before he starts doing something else that’s annoying and needs fixing.
Because I’ve been working on training my pup so often, it has left the birds not getting trained much at all which for them, isn’t exactly a bad thing since they spent the entire summer performing and training 5 days/week. When we come home to Florida it’s considered their “time off” and I work on other things with them like diet and nutrition (no more treats!) and varying up their environments to keep them interested. Right now my toucan, Rocko, has the entire 200 sq ft bird room to himself. That’s right, he is out of his cage all day long flying around in there from cage top to two foraging trees… he has it all and is loving it.
For my other birds, I’ve been cleaning and rearranging aviaries – today, Tusa, my camelot macaw has an aviary all to himself. He looked like he could use some alone time. The conures are back outside after being inside for a cold snap we had and are already trying out their second aviary and the freaks (two rosies and a grey) are inside by our bedroom keeping us company by going through their vocabulary regularly at night. Everyone is in a new environment and it keeps our birds healthy and happy.
Now, where does this all tie into dog training?
Well all I was told was how different dog training is from bird training and boy, were they right! You can train a dog on way less food motivation (my pup can be full on his dog food and will work his butt off for a piece of hot dog any day!) and way more often. You can use luring more effectively, and overall, it’s just different.
However, the last few weeks I’ve trained my pup to shake (hold his paw up to your hand), crawl (not entirely on cue yet, and if I do say, it’s not that good yet…), roll over and my most recent trick today was working on the spin. I was training him outside because for the crawl, he needed a non-slippery surface like grass or carpet. We only have a rug inside so grass worked for me. For roll over, he needed the space of the outdoors. So for spin, since I was so used to having his training sessions outside, I naturally went outside to train. He instead, rolled over… and over… and over… refusing to give me his attention to learn something ELSE.
I realized I needed a SMALLER space to train in, one that would give me his attention and let him know he didn’t need to use all the space up for what it was that I was going to train him. I took him inside to our den which is pretty small. He will roll over in there if given the cue, but it’s not a space that he would offer it so easily. It’s a bit tight.
He picked up the spin trick in MINUTES. All he needed was that change of environment.
We recently did an in home consult with two birds that are not bonded to one another. However, one is well adjusted to life with humans and the other is terrified of everything. Normally, we recommend people go somewhere else – away from the bird’s cage – to train the bird to do something. But when we did this with the terrified bird, it shut down completely. The second we took it back to its cage by the other bird to train there, it progressed 2x faster than the well adjusted bird.
It just goes to show how a change environment changes your progress (or lack thereof) sometimes what applies to one bird won’t work with another. You won’t do the same training techniques on an aggressive bird as you will use on a terrified bird and because of this, and how differently birds react, changes what direction you take training in. I often make a ‘training plan’ of what I THINK I am going to do and what order I THINK I am going to do it in, but the animal NEVER FAILS to change up plans on me. So pay attention, change it, don’t be afraid to see how something else might work or not work. Whether you fail or succeed in that instant, you learn something. And usually, we all learn a great deal more when we fail.
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When I first learned there was such a thing as a “hospital survival it” or “daddy-to-be survival kit”, I was super excited and curious. I looked at just about every one blogged about online and studied what was in them. But I felt like a serious personal touch was missing – and maybe it was that most people like “DYI on a budget” stuff so they stuffed some baskets with candy and cute sayings and wrapped it in a bow. I wanted the one I made for Dave to be really special – really emotional, really personal.
And I have to say, this one achieved just that. I just finished giving it to him (and couldn’t wait to share it) and he cried – SUCCESS! Okay, I cried too watching him cry. It was so sweet and the gift in itself since like me, Dave had never heard of such a present, was unexpected.
I had two themes; birds and VW bugs. Birds are our life, so that was a given, but it can be so hard to find unisex bird themed stuff, especially toucan stuff! We don’t know the gender of our baby yet, so I tried to stick with generic not too girly yet not too boyish things. Dave has a blue VW bug, so it kind of made everything gear towards blue picking out that theme.
My favorite places for personalized, custom, unique and one of a kind gifts are:
- Etsy! This is where I found custom VW bug stuff like t-shirts, blankets, diaper covers, onesies, etc.
- Amazon! I found an array of bird themed toys here and funny gifts.
Otherwise my other shopping was spent at the liquor store and Target for candy and alcohol! Since Dave’s favorite candy is a 3 Muskateers, I had to include it as a comfort food. And his favorite drink of choice is Royal Crown whiskey, so that had to be a life saver included in there as well. The 100 grand and kit kat were more for the sayings behind them – because every dad is gonna need a “break” and every dad has that panic of needing to make more money and not feeling broke with a baby on the way – what better than a bag of a 100 grand?! Never feel broke again, hunny! We’re set for life!
Some other ideas I had for a survival kit that I didn’t do because my basket was FULL… were:
- Flash drive (they make some interesting ones!) for holding all the pictures he’s GONNA take…
- Baby wipes (sure we could all come up with funny sayings for these!)
- Cards that say things like “PASS – this one is all yours to clean up!” and funny sayings like that. Only I really wouldn’t want it if HE passed on it. So be careful what you promise!
- Monster condiment heads (they’re on Amazon.com and they’re hilarious for the tops of mustards and ketchups)
- Pacifiers (so many options nowadays but I couldn’t find many unisex ones that I liked)
- Love on toast stamp (a way to write LOVE on toast) cute way to make breakfast
- Monster spray – to keep the monsters away, you could make this yourself
Oh, and my basket was from a JoAnn Fabrics. I am sure you can find one suitable for the size of stuff you want to give from any Target, Michael’s or Joanna craft stores. Cheap plastic ones can be found at the dollar store. I wanted one I could use later on in the nursery closet so this one matched best. I made the daddy to be survival tag myself from a bird related card I had, then typed out the letters on blue printer paper in a child like font that screamed “kid!” to me.
So although not as bird-heavy-themed as I would have imagined it to be, being a bird trainer and all… I am really happy with the outcome nonetheless and have lots of clothing choices picked out depending on whether we find out we’re having a boy or a girl. So many more bird themed things to come after we find out the gender news! That’s why everything is marked with pink and blue tags – who knows which one it will be! Though you are welcome to guess!
It’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve updated here on my blog, but hopefully you all enjoyed following my progress with Alexandrine Parakeet Rasta on the BirdTricks.com blog. If you missed it all, you can find it here. The posts are shown from most recent to least recent so go back all the way and start from the beginning if you want to see how everything really progressed! It’s way less impressive to read it backwards ;)
Photo by Dave Womach
Location: Athol, Idaho
Shown: Alexandrine parrot “Rasta” trusts me enough to step up!
I was very pleased with my progress with Rasta and decided it was time for him to head home so that his owners could take it from where I left off. I’ve been very pleased with their updates – they even started teaching him to put his wings up on cue and got his aviary all set up!
Not to mention they ordered my Cooking For Parrots cookbook so they could learn how to properly feed Rasta and keep him healthy. His colors and plumage were very dull when he first came to me, and by the end of his stay he was vibrant and beautiful. I even ended up using a photograph of him in the cookbook, as an insert about how certain foods effect the parrot body in positive ways – because his transformation was so vibrant and obvious.
I refer to Rasta as a “monthly miracle” because taking on people’s birds is something I have done in my spare time, or time that I make for people I feel are very deserving of a little help, or head start. After chatting about my interest in this with my brother in law, Chet, he decided to make it available to anyone in need of help with their bird who obtains a copy of our new TV series, One Day Miracles. Rasta the alexandrine parrot is featured in this series and became our monthly miracle. And we talk about how you, too, can have a chance to send your bird to me (or come in and see us live and work with your bird live in front of you) – there’s a lot of options for this program but basically what it means is us one on one with YOUR bird.
Sometimes you just need a professional to get you started in the right direction, or to show you and your bird the way so that you have an easier starting point, a better understanding and are more lined up for success.
Photo by Jamieleigh
Location: Athol, ID
Shown: Alexandrine Parakeet “Rasta”
If you’d like to be a monthly miracle of mine, please visit www.BirdTricks.com/miracles to learn more.
Photo by one of our freeflight students, I think it was Jeanne?!
Location: Moab, UT
Shown: Dave and I with our camelot macaws “Comet” and “Tusa” and blue throated macaw “Jinx”
Old photo from 2009
Oh, and to announce my own “mini miracle”… I’M PREGNANT!
That’s right, Dave and I are expecting our first HUMAN child in April 2013. :)
We will know in about 9-11 weeks if I need to teach Bandit how to say “baby girl” ;)
Photo by Dave Womach
Location: Athol, ID
Shown: Alexandrine Parakeet “Rasta”
That’s right I am at it again – gaining experience by working with other people’s birds aside from my own. I really enjoy the learning process (even if it can be super frustrating at times).
I’m currently working with alexandrine parakeet Rasta, and writing about my journey over at the BirdTricks blog. So please follow that journey of Rasta by clicking here and BOOKMARKING it.. I update weekly for Rasta’s owners Karen and Liam.