Fall is Upon Us and Other Good News

Happy Monday and man oh man, does it feel like Autumn outside! What a fantastic time of year!

First up, I had one of the most relaxing weekends to date! Friday night, Tim and I watched Ant-Man & The Wasp and ate my favorite Keto Pizza Casserole. (If you want the recipe, just click at the top of the blog on the section titled recipes!) Saturday, I spent the day playing with Dorian, cleaning, reading, and I had my Photography Class with the Atlanta School of Photography!

That night, we made wings in the Air Fryer and then sat outside by a fire with Tim’s youngest. It was a gorgeous night, cool wind and clear skies!

The next morning, I got up and realized that the weather was brisk and chilly and immediately woke Tim and up and insisted we go outside and have our morning coffee by the fire. We had some wonderful conversations and just relaxed. Truly relaxed, with each other.

My dog ended up having the best day ever! He gnawed on sticks and chased his Kong squeaky tennis ball. We sat our there from about 9:30 am until after noon.

Then it was nap time for all of us!

Later that night we grilled some steaks and watched Captain Marvel. I can’t remember if I told you guys, but I am on this Marvel Marathon for Tim. He complains that I never watch anything he likes, so out-of-the-blue, I surprised him and said I wanted to see each of the movies, in order of release. His eyes perked up and I knew I made the right decision. Best news – I am actually enjoying it. And in basic Nicole fashion, I ask a ton of questions and Tim loves sharing all of his historical comic book knowledge with me. It’s cute, really, and I am entertained. Just two more to go…… Tonight is End Game and I hear it is a tear jerker. Should be interesting.

Speaking of tear jerkers… man. The Notorious RBG left us. Let’s hope in November we can turn things around.

Okay, I gave this a try. I did NOT like it. I ended up giving it to Tim. BUT… if you are a sweets person, this may be your jam. Tim picked the mint chocolate chip which was only 4g and much, much better than mine. I might try it again, pending my need.

I just had to show off Big Boy at 7 months old! Look at how tall he is. He was such a good boy this weekend. And sweet!

Less land sharkish.

And here is my good news: I am 21 pounds down! Yes, I did it. I met my goal and exceeded by 1 pound. Next up – 10 more by Christmas. Slow and steady wins the race.

I hope everyone has an awesome week! Let’s do this!

Things I Have Learned About German Shepherds

Dorian at 8 weeks old

I have always had a thing for German Shepherds. Though I loved my Siberian Husky, and yes, Nanook and the Huskies are one of my favorite breeds, GSDs (as they are called) are most certainly at the top of my breed list for best dogs EVER!

Back in April, when the pandemic started, my husband and I bought Dorian from a sweet family in Milledgeville, Georgia. He was 8 weeks old and 10 pounds.

Now he is 6 months old and 70+ pounds (and growing.)

I have to admit, he is my first puppy. I’ve always acquired or adopted older dogs, or at least young adults.

Here are some things I have learned from owning a German Shepherd:

2 months old

They are adorable puppies! Big puppies, but really, really cute. Their fur is so, so soft and they bond really quickly. That was something I was looking for. Of course, they look nothing like their adult versions.

2.

They grow really, really fast. And they love to chew everything they see! Thank goodness I splurged on some heavy duty chew toys early on. They came in handy! Always offer the toy over your hand. That is a really bad habit (chewing & mouthing hands) that is really hard to break. I was big on no mouthing, Tim let him mouth. We are still working on it! Plus, they have little needle teeth as babies.

3.

They are quick to train. We had this guy potty trained in 2 days and he learned to sit, lay down and stay in 30 minutes. Super smart! Take advantage of this time to train quickly. We rarely had any accidents.

4.

3 months

Leash training should be consistent and started early. We have not had the best luck with it. Again, I use a leash, my husband prefers not to. I think consistency is key.Tim and I just have different philosophies when it comes to the dog. (Can you imagien if we had a baby together?!)

5. I know people say raw hide and pig ears are not the best for dogs due to the issues they can cause with their insides… but I have to admit, sometimes a good pig ear calmed my little guy down. He was busy eating every stick he could find, I thought the ears would be better. He may have eaten 4 in his entire 6 months, but it definitely saved me a ton of time and kept him calm.

6.

The Kong really is a great way to keep them calm and busy when you are trying to get them to adjust to being in their kennel. I would scoop kibble into his kong, top it with a plug of peanut butter and freeze it. It would take him about 30 minutes to work through it, but it was an awesome tool to use. Especially when he had such anxiety about me going to work.

7.

Don’t sweat the ear issue. I was under the impression you had to pin a shepherd’s ears to get them to stand up and thank goodness I took the time to do the research. The ears you see above naturally do that. Basically, while their teeth are coming in, they are beginning to build cartilage. Around 4 – 6 months, all of their adult teeth are in and their ears will now receive the rest of the cartilage and they will stand up on their own! You do have to get used to this milk maid look for a while!

8.

Exercise is critical! We try to let our little guy run outside as much as possible. If it is raining or too hot to go outside, we simply throw the ball inside and he runs from one end of the house to the other playing fetch. WHICH, btw, I did not have to train him to do. He literally knew what was needed. Amazing breed! Just this month we are learning to catch the ball and he is, again, outstanding at any thing he learns. It reminds me of those natural athletes. They just know!

9.

Water has not been a problem with this breed. My little guy loves running through his splash pad or jumping in the tub after we have taken a bath. And baths are a piece of cake! I can’t wait to take him to the beach and see his reaction!

10.

5 months

His growth has been very, very fast. At 5 months he was 68 pounds, and he is still growing. We started off with a large kennel inside, but ended up at 5 months purchasing the largest size we could find for indoors. He is a big boy and making sure he is comfortable is key!

11.

When it comes to health, I have noticed he needs a lot of water and he has very sensitive skin. I make sure he stays hydrated and cool in this South Georgia Summer heat and I am now washing his bedding and blanket with no-perfume or dye detergent. He ended up with a terrible rash all over his belly and spent a week or so on antibiotics and steroids. He recovered just fine, but it is something to look out for. Also, people food. Let’s be honest, we all hand over the scraps from time to time, but apparently GSDs have super sensitive tummies. He will get a bout of diarrhea quick!

12.

6 months

A lot of time people ask me what I feed him. He is growing up so healthy and his coat is shiny and soft. We feed him Diamond Naturals Large Puppy Breed food. Our vet suggested we do this until he is one. We have also decided to neuter him when he turns one also. (Another suggestion from the vet.)

13. We do use a monthly heart worm preventative (Interceptor,) and we use a 3 month flea & tick protection internal prevention (Bravecto.)

14. His paws can cause serious injury – I have so many scratches all over my body. You will have to file and get his nails trimmed often.

15. Be careful when purchasing chew toys and stuffed animals. Once, while we were driving, he vomited in the car and out came tree bark and half of a stuffed animal. These guys will eat anything. Only purchase super hardy items.

16. They are known as velcro dogs and will follow you everywhere – including the bathroom.

17. They are very loyal, so make sure to show them plenty of attention. However, make sure you socialize them with children and other dogs early on. Our dog will bark if you come to the door like he is going to kill, but once you come in, he will lick you to death.

18. Finally, the jumping and mouthing can be a lot. They are, no doubt, a handful.

At the end of the day – KNOW what you are getting. They are a LOT. You need to be strong, be consistent and patient.

Follow the blogs that are specifically about GSDs. Make sure to read up on the forums with the Kennel Club, and ask your vet.

Masks, GSDs, & Grads

97975671_10158199856254929_8690035865759514624_n

Masks.

Not Halloween, but facial masks to protect others from the virus.

Yes, let me say that again – YOUR MASK PROTECTS OTHERS FROM THE VIRUS YOU COULD BE CARRYING. In turn, they need to wear their mask. That’s the only way.

In the last post, I shared how life sort of stopped for a couple of months. In our home, I was quarantined at home, while Tim went to work each day. While at work, he was required to take his temp before entering the building, as well as staying in his office. The only time we left the house was to pick up something from the local Dollar General or pick up groceries.

My business gave me these hideous white masks that were disposable. And if you guys know me, I figured if I have to wear one, at least make a fashion statement with it. And that’s what I did.

Luckily, a friend from Macon sent me my first 5. They were pretty little patterns on blue or black fabric. Then I got creative and found a treasure trove on Etsy. These resuable masks were the answer to much  needed prayer. Because now, I wear masks every single day. I am back at work and with the amount of public that comes in, it is so necessary.

107593976_10158355376779929_7278339833867630988_o

I got a Rotary mask.

104184223_10158279176194929_7909735973949820025_o

And Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven mask.

103723356_10158269958714929_7906799371981660590_o

A space kitty mask.

102404499_10158258182829929_5846586139338604544_o

Wonder Woman mask.

101459022_10158249377624929_3086256086068494336_o

Thor’s Hammer mask.

84528386_10158246435089929_5450748200853962752_n

And a Parisian Stamp mask.

There are more, but this gives you a basic idea! I have to admit, it has been fun ordering different themed masks. I’m sure when the holidays get here I will be completely themed out.

Another change that affected our home was Tim’s daughter Alex moved out.99040745_10158200083494929_395719530531258368_o

I would be lying if I didn’t say it was a welcome event. She is in that very typical angsty 18-year-old phase. Remember the one? The “I’m an adult and have it all figured out, but you still owe me” phase? Oh yeah. We had a come to Jesus meeting the day she moved out. We really haven’t been right ever since. But that is okay, because she has a ton of growing up to do. I’m sitting back watching her make some pretty crummy decisions. She seems to be burning bridges will all of the people trying to help her. Yet, somehow, as she burns the bridges, she turns around and asks for money. 

Lord have mercy. 

98310389_10158207464394929_4006499781818974208_n

Good news is – she did graduate. Not the traditional way, since graduations were cancelled due to the virus. Again, another sign of the times. She also graduated with a high enough grade point average to achieve the Zell Miller Scholarship to college. That means 90% or so of her school is paid for.

She chose Georgia Southwestern State University as the college to start her studies this Fall. I believe they start classes next Wednesday. IN PERSON. Which I think is crazy.

We gathered at Tim’s mom’s house for a little cook out and celebration for both Alex & Micah (Tim’s niece.) Just immediate family, and honestly, it was the first time we had all gotten together since the pandemic started.

Once the house got a little bit quieter, Tim and I started talking about the future. Like… how are we going to design the backyard? And what would Alex’s old room look like as Tim’s study? And there was one more piece of business – Could I get a dog and was I ready for one?

Considering I was stuck at home for at least the next month, I thought it was the perfect time to get a puppy. With me being at home, not only would it keep me company, but I would also be home to take care of the puppy and potty train it. Well lo and behold, a German Shepherd puppy came up on my friend’s FB feed and she shot me a text. I had been looking at GSDs and thought that this should be the next breed I tackled. If you remember, it had been 14 years since I last had a dog. When my Nanook (a beautiful gray & white with blue eyes Siberian Husky) died, it basically broke my heart. I was finally ready.

I sent a message to the owner of the puppies and asked for a cost and whether I could pick one out today. He said of course and Tim and I drove two hours to Milledgeville to pick out my baby boy.

Meet Dorian Wolfgang Kirksey:

This was the very day we drove him home. Such a big boy, a whopping 10 pounds at 8 weeks old. He had a big old milk belly and sweet demeanor.

He was house broken within one week. He learned to sit and lay down and stay within two weeks. This dog is off-the-charts smart. German Shepherds are known as Velcro Dogs, which means they go everywhere with you. For one, they like their owners and are extremely loyal, and two, they feel the need to make sure you are protected. A true pack animal if I ever saw one.

By the third month his ears were starting to perk up. Apparently, their ears will stand straight up after their adult teeth come in. It has something to do with the cartilage.

He got bigger and bigger and bigger…

Until finally, we found we were adjusting his collar each week.

He ended up loving his chew toys. I bought him probably $100 worth of toys to help him while he was teething. (Which, btw – he is STILL teething at 6 months.)

He loves the water and pig ears. He loves his daddy and he does sleep with us.

He really has been the best thing for me. I can’t express how much my heart has healed and how little I desire now that I have him in my life. I treat him as if he were my child and I could not be happier.

On the 17th we will celebrate his 6 month birthday! Yes, he was born on February 17th, just one day after my own birthday!

As you can see, the pandemic brought some much needed stress relief into my life. I found a way to express myself, as well as protect myself with face masks. The angsty kid moved on and we don’t have to come out of pocket for college tuition, and I got the most beautiful German Shepherd Puppy a human could hope for! What good things have come out of this pandemic for you?