Archive for June, 2013

Moe the Turtle

Friday, June 28th, 2013

“A vet Sharpie tattooed Moe long ago.  Now I can tell him from the rest of the turtles.”

“How many turtles do you have?” I asked.


I picked up Moe to examine him.

On the side of Moe’s shell was a heart and his name in my handwriting.



(Not) Gardening in Wisconsin

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

During our recent stay in Hayward Wisconsin, I was beyond walking distance to my front yard, backyard or church garden.  So I pulled all of the weeds out of the container in the yard of the cabin where we were staying and planted impatiens.


They did great.


On a slightly saner level, I also bought a boxwood basil plant, which I had never even heard of and thought was super cute.


And a lemon thyme plant.  I grow a lemon thyme plant every year because I think it smells like lemonade.


Sara made sure the herbs stayed watered all week.  I love that person.


When I got the lemon thyme plant, I hand pruned it a bit and put the extra in with the impatiens in the container in the yard.  The thyme took root and grew around the flowers.  I can’t even explain how happy that made me.


I also enjoyed the other flowers and plants we discovered…This one was in the yard of the cabin.


This was a wildflower in the side yard of the cabin. Does anyone know what it is? Very pretty!


There were beautiful container gardens and hanging flower pots EVERYWHERE in downtown Hayward…




These flowers below were at Lumberjack Village. The container is a hollowed log – so pretty!


This hanging basket was also at Lumberjack Village.


Flowers near the entrance of Famous Dave’s…


This white flower was in the container at Famous Dave’s.


Another pretty flower in the same container. I also do not know this one!


We saw these beautiful plants in a National Forest near Hayward…







These tiny flowers – each was smaller than a dime – were growing near the Round Lake Marina.  I almost missed them!


We rode  home with the basil and thyme and left the impatiens in the container at the cabin.

In my head, when the next visitors or the owner see the impatiens, they will jump like Charlie Brown did when he saw his newly redecorated Christmas tree and then break out in joyous song.

I hope at the very least they think “Well, that’s pretty,” or “What an odd thing for a visitor to do,” or something like that.







I Got You a Tomato Plant!

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Recently I needed two days of paid time off very close to one another. To make it work, my boss worked both of my shifts. I needed a way to say thank you very, very much, so I drew this for him. And also…I gave him some tomato plants.

124 Comic

Managing Your Day-to-Day

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Managing Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind

Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Five Stars!


While we were in Wisconsin this summer, I was reading Veterinary Economics with my family. Mom, Amanda, Dave, Sara and Cara were all reading books. I looked over the top of my magazine to ask what everyone else was reading, and Dave, who maybe should have known better than most of the rest of the group save Mom, was the only one left in the room. Everyone else had wisely tucked their books under their arms, grabbed their drinks and sprinted in different directions. They knew I could not catch them all. I guess I kind of have a reputation for stealing books.

So I stole (borrowed) Dave’s book, and it was GREAT! Really, I stayed up one night past midnight to finish it, because it was that good, but mostly because I knew I could not help stealing it again during the day while Dave probably wanted to read it, and I wanted to stop being a jerk.

It’s books, people! Not hard drugs. I can totally handle it.

The book was written by an amazing group of creative minds. I have pages of quotes, website links and new books to read, which is the most exciting thing of all about the book – where it leads next! I already had the books on writing by Stephen King and Ray Bradsbury on my list of books to read, and both authors were quoted in this book, which was neat.

Stephen King said that it helps him to have a routine about writing. He takes his multivitamin and gets a drink (tea or juice) and sits down to write at the same time every day. That COMPLETELY freaked me out all week. I yelled as much to Russ. “DID YOU KNOW,” I yelled (sorry about the caps – I really was freaked out, and really did yell), “that the next time you walk by someone and you are too close not to smile or say hi,” I paused here to say “You know how sometimes you walk by someone and you are too close not to smile or say hi?”

“Hmm,” Russ said, which let me know he totally was following me.

“THAT GUY YOU THINK IS NORMAL COULD BE AS NOT NORMAL AS STEPHEN KING!! Russ, Stephen King takes a multivitamin! Like someone you think is a normal guy!” At this point, I believe Russ stopped following me, but even if he did not get it, I was completely freaked out. I LOVE when books rattle me that much, and this one did.

It also inspired me to do the things I do better, which I also love. My job is not officially creative – maintaining health and treating illness – but it is always good to get a new angle on things. And really, SOME parts of veterinary medicine are done better when creativity is involved. And other things I love to do – mainly writing and creating stuff for social media for work and fun – those things DO have a creative element, so I felt that there were many direct applications from the book right to my life.

The book dealt quite a bit with managing the powerful monster that is email. It made me appreciate how much creative professionals have to deal with urgent and disruptive issues communicated via email that I just do not need to deal with on such an intense level. So much of veterinary medicine casework is hands on and needs to be resolved either completely or to an acceptable stopping point that I do not deal with the ongoing open projects that need immediate attention from me on near the level that creative professionals do.

I LOVED the chapter on multitasking. Summary: Don’t. It is not possible. If you think you are good at multitasking, you are probably just more skilled at switching quickly between projects than other people are, and you would still do better overall if you did not do that.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year has been to ONLY single-task, and it is HARD! I think my quality of medicine has gone way up, and my overall enjoyment of life in general has gone way up. It is still a struggle, but I try to completely finish one case before I move on to the next – not possible if you have multiple sickies to care for (though I can still work on completing one task or block of tasks before moving to the next), but it IS possible (but very difficult!) if you have one complex medical or surgical case and then another right afterwards. The upsides are that the pet who needs you most has your complete attention while they need it and receives better care, and once you have finished a case, it is done and you can relax or focus on the next pet.

Also, at the end of the day, you can do medical role call (Everyone okay?) and if no one woofs or meows at you because they are all home recovering, all better or transferred to the emergency hospital for continuing care, you do not need to stay into the wee hours finishing medical notes and trying to remember what you forgot, because you got everything done before each pet left. SO cool.

Now, on to other areas of life – giving my daughters my complete attention when they need it, eating a meal and doing nothing else, cleaning one thing then the next. Hard stuff people! Even though that is the chapter that resonated with me the most, it is also the one I will need to reread the most. (I am buying my own copy of the book Dave!)

I also loved Gretchen Rubin’s advice to write every day. I have loved following her discoveries on happiness as she writes about them, and just think she is an incredible person. So if she says to do an exact thing, I am most likely going to try it. Five days in. So far, I love it. I missed you, writing!

Great book. You will love it.

Thank you Dave!

I have four more “already read” books to review and many more to read! Next on my reading list is every book mentioned in THIS book and the new list (YAY!) of leadership books recommended by Tom McFerson and the others in the June Veterinary Economics issue.

The Nelson Family Vacation

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Every other year, the Nelson family – my parents, my two brothers and their families and our family – goes on vacation together.

This year’s group:

Mom and Dad

Brother Bill, Cara, Charlie and Baby-to-Be

Brother Dave, Sara and Olive

Russ, me, Amanda and Abby

We have been to Turks and Caicos for Bill and Cara’s wedding, Breckenridge two years ago and Round Lake near Hayward Wisconsin this summer.  My family (the Nelson AND the Finch sides!) is my very favorite thing in the whole world.  The time we spend together is the most fun time I can imagine.

I hardly ever cry on the Nelson family trips, except when we pack up the Legos and I say goodbye to Bill and Cara and Charlie, and Charlie and I take our separate coloring books and separate Sharpies and go our separate ways.

The rest of us caravan back to Omaha to our homes and pets and gardens, and that part is not sad.

So here is the happiest part, the vacation itself where we are all together.  This post will be long because my family is awesome and SO good looking.  I apologize in advance for their awesomeness and good looks.  If you are not Mom or Dad, feel free to speed scroll!


Dave had these coasters custom made for each of us.  See what I mean about my family being awesome?  Wait, it gets better.  On the left is the family of origin of Sara (Bromley), on the top, Russ (Finch), on the right, Cara (Wood).  The three dots under “Nelson” (headed by Mom and Dad) represent the three Nelson kids.   The symbol under the line is a combination of Native American symbols for water and tent or temporary housing (symbolizing vacation) and the group of triangles symbolizes community.

IMG_1473All week I set my drink NEXT to my coaster because I did not want it to get stained!

IMG_1779This was the sign over the front door.

IMG_1456Cabin from the backyard – no we were not “camping,” thank goodness!


View of the main room from the upper story. And also, Russ.

IMG_1481Russ and Abby headed right out to fish!

IMG_1485Abby held an umbrella over Uncle Bill while he cleaned fish for dinner.

IMG_1496Sunday was Dad’s Birthday AND Father’s Day! Happy Birthday Dad! Happy Father’s Day! Not a bad double holiday, huh?

IMG_1497Olive working on her juice mustache…


IMG_1501I brought one of those Mindware coloring books I obsess about. I could not believe how focused Charlie was when he was coloring! And how good at details he is! That was a very fun thing to do together all week.

IMG_1523Olive says that if you are creative, you get the best seat at the party every time!


Amanda did not mind a bit. She was pretty comfy too.

IMG_1528Amanda and Abby making a surprise birthday cake for Grandpa which was also a surprise Father’s Day cake for Grandpa, Dad, Uncle Bill and Uncle Dave

IMG_1529Beautiful and delicious!


Charlie and Olive spending time with Grandpa and Grandma

IMG_1583Abby waiting for Uncle Bill and Daddy to get back from boating on Round Lake

IMG_1587Russ, Amanda and Abby

IMG_1590Olive and Dave

IMG_1619Charlie showing me his participation certificate at the Lumberjack show.  He hand sawed a log with help from the lumberjacks.  The world champion of going-across-logs-in-water and the third fastest log chopper in the world were there. Neat to see, but how great is Charlie??  (SO great!)


Abby driving a boat for the first time

IMG_1631Amanda driving the boat for the first time

IMG_1644Here is our destination – the original Famous Dave’s Restaurant! How cool is it that we got there by boat??

IMG_1649Amanda and Abby at sunset outside of Famous Dave’s

IMG_1651Russ, Amanda, (Bear) and Abby outside of Famous Dave’s

IMG_1657Cara, Mom, Dad, Olive (head of the table behind the paper towel holder!), Dave, Sara and Bill inside of Famous Dave’s

IMG_1659Amanda and Russ

IMG_1660…and Amanda and Russ

IMG_1662Abby at Famous Dave’s with our family in the background – what a nice looking background, huh? And a cute kid!

IMG_1667Bill, Charlie and Dad outside of Famous Dave’s with their matching Lumberjack hats

IMG_1672Getting back on the boat after Famous Dave’s to head back to the cabin

IMG_1678Goodbye Famous Dave’s!

IMG_1745Charlie tries his first S’more. It is good. Mom (Cara), Dad (Bill) and Uncle Dave are standing by to encourage and assist.

IMG_1786Charlie and Olive work on counting together.

IMG_1788Charlie works on some art.

IMG_1826(Bear), Amanda, Charlie and Abby at Round Lake Marina

IMG_1834We only had a couple downpours. Um, rain? This is where Mom and I like to sit…


Lunch and the show were so fun at Lumberjack Village that we went back another time for dinner. The team was SO nice, and the food was SO good! I made Amanda, Russ and Abby stand in the rain for this picture.

IMG_1848Amanda and Abby inside the River Deck Restaurant at Lumberjack Village – the place was so pretty! We were one of two families there. The chef came out to see how we liked our food. (Very much)


At the River Deck Restaurant at Lumberjack Village – Abby, Bill, Charlie, Mom, Dave, Olive, Sara, Cara, Dad, Amanda and Russ

Those are my pictures! What a fun week!

Thank you Cindy for telling Dad what a neat town Hayward is!

Thank you Joni for the use of your beautiful cabin!

Thank you Kylah for taking such great care of Max the Cat, Joy the Puppy and Noodle the Poodle!

Thank you Mom and Dad for such a great trip!

Thank you Hayward for welcoming us and showing us around and moving all the tables together for us every time we walked in a restaurant door!  We think you are great. It was very nice to meet you!

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A Promise Kept

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I took her tiny furry head in my hands and put my forehead on hers.

“Honey, I promise to get you to heaven soon,” I said.

Together with her family and the rest of her medical team,

we gave up

(let go),

and I did.


Breed of the Month

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Last fall at the Central Veterinary Conference in Kansas City, I was given a great big notebook as a thank you gift for serving on the Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board.  (Thank you!)  When I got back to Omaha, I held out the notebook to show our office manager and boss.  “You got THAT?!  Ours is in the mail and won’t be here for TWO DAYS.”

“You can read mine…” I said, now hugging it tight, “after I read it.”

Intriged, I opened the notebook.  “Benchmarks 2012:  A Study of Well-Managed Practices.”  One section caught my eye – “Breed Specific Healthcare.”

“Well, that’d be depressing!” I thought, and read on.

After I had read the entire Benchmarks 2012 cover to cover – yes it was as good as they said – I handed it over.  Angie called me that day and said, “We NEED to do this breed thing!”

I love specific dog and cat breeds as much as the next rescue-loving domestic shorthair and mutt-adopting veterinary professional, but focusing on the medical concerns of each breed for clients who love the breed because of their awesomeness?  It just sounded like a bad idea – You love Labs?  Have you thought about HIP DYSPLASIA?  Boxers?  Yes they are sweet and their faces are cute, but also cancer.  Bulldogs?  Liquidate your assets.  Oh, and congratulations on your new puppy.

Of course we cover breed-related medical issues during wellness care appointments, but focusing on it MORE?

“No,”  I said, “too depressing!”

“Yes!”  Angie said.  And so we did.  And it has been awesome – one of the most enjoyable projects I have done.

January 2013:  Bernese Mountain Dogs (and Mixes!)

February 2013:  Dobermans

March 2013:  Russian Blue Cats

April 2013:  Portuguese Water Dogs

May 2013:  Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

June 2013:  Sphynx Cats

Here is what I have learned this year:

Breeds are fun, and worth celebrating.

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Your clients and team will be your biggest supporters.  I have e-mailed, called or sent hand written notes, depending on the patient base size, and have gotten cute pictures in piles!  Always get permission before you use pictures, but it will not be a snag.  People know their pets are cute, and having their medical team confirm that?  Awesome.

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Clients and online friends appreciate learning about breed-related medical concerns, even of breeds they do not have.  Balance it with fun facts, breed history and pictures, and a month of focusing on one breed will be rewarding, NOT depressing.

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Putting fun facts out there – we do Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – takes A LOT of behind the scenes work, but it is the kind of work I love most.  If you have someone in your practice who loves learning, reading and assimilating information (And you do, you are a medical team for heaven’s sake!) put that person in charge of gathering info.

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The team will love helping – Our receptionist Amanda gathers client names for me every month.  Vet tech Allison, Dr. Stokes and Dr. Kanne have provided tons of cute pictures of their own pets.  Angie manages the Pinterest page.  Everyone has supported us on Facebook by commenting, liking and sharing posts.

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Clients will love it.  Most of the rest of our pictures are from clients who have gotten behind our breed celebrations.

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Online friends will love it.  When we do not have a picture within our team or client base, online friends have always stepped up.  See the Twitter follower number go up with every monthly screen shot?

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The fancy-pants picture changing is easy.  If you decide to do a similar project, I will help you with all of that if you would like.

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The only thing that would make this more fun is if more vet teams were doing it with us!  We could share background breed information, cover the same breeds some months and share what is working and what is not.

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Choosing breeds is easy.  So far Angie and I have chosen them like this:  “Do you like ___?”  “Yes!”  “Me too!”  Next…  We started with Beagles and Huskies (before we were doing monthly Twitter pictures to show you!) because those are breeds of two local rescue groups we love.

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I have learned so much about specific breeds.  When I am gathering information in order to help clients, I can swallow my pride about thinking I should already know everything about every pet, and secretly (until now) think things like “Sphynx cats tend to be healthy?!  Who’d have thought?”

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I know we have succeeded if I get near the end of a month and have fallen more in love with the breed.  So far, YES on every count.  SO fun.

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Who would like to play Breed of the Month with us?

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