When Life Hands You Flowers

When the pandemic struck, we didn’t have any masks in our house. I was on FB when a local dry cleaner posted they were sewing masks for a donation. I got in my car and drove immediately over there. I grabbed 2, stuck a $20 in the jar, and left.

I took the flower one for myself, naturally. I wore this really basic mask until we were able to get better fitted ones. After we did, I left this mask hooked on the shift gear in my car (everyone did this right?) Soon, it became somewhat obscured with other masks being layered on top of it. And still, it was there besides me for 14 months.

About a month ago I decided to take a pivot after my other consulting work sort of stopped with the pandemic. Friends and family often consulted me regarding garden design and ideas. I always helped as talking to people about flowers is apparently the sweet spot for my ability to people at all in life. So I started low key offering garden designing.

Once I realized that maybe I was going to have more interest than I knew, I put up a website at GardenByNumber.com to sort of explain things before they contacted me.

The requests kept coming.

One day I was getting ready to visit a new garden client and realized that I was down to the last mask on the shift gear. The OG flower mask that saved the day over a year ago when the future seemed so uncertain.

I grabbed it happily and thew it on the hood of my car until I gathered my things for the next appointment. Once I was gathered, I went to grab it off the hood and then saw it. I looked closer and could not believe what I was seeing.

Sometimes a pandemic hits and it’s terrible and awful and uncertain but it also hands you flowers to let you know things will be ok.

All the things my son didn’t do to get into college

Layer a college admissions process on top of online schooling during a pandemic? 

Sure. Sounds great. 

The college admission process is chaotic during a “typical” year and this year amped that up x100. Was it still a stressful process? Yes. But some things made it easier. 

Here’s some of the things my son didn’t do to get to this point in his life. 

He didn’t listen to people. 

Braden has a strong sense of self and purpose. He took the high school classes he wanted to and not what was strongly recommended to him by others. He dropped AP courses after he learned more about their (to him) sub par curriculum. He took unweighted courses instead of more “rigor” AP because they were more fulfilling. He didn’t follow guidelines of 4 of everything- english, math, science, language and social science. His end transcript is just so perfectly HIM and isn’t that what it should be? 

He didn’t center his success or self identity around grades, gpa and test scores. 

He didn’t make high school the end all be all to his life and education. This isn’t how we wanted to raise him and when he wrote this piece for his high school paper? I knew in my soul I had done one parenting thing right. 

He didn’t put “safety” schools on his list. 

Every school on his list (and it was small) was one he would have attended. 

He didn’t go “Ivy Hunting.”

Many students, especially this year with test optional, applied to every prestigious school they could. I guess that’s fine if you like a lot of extra work to gamble on black. 

He (we) didn’t hire out a college consultation service. 

First of all, I completely understand why people do, it can be an enormous task to take on when it’s your first child going through the process. I even looked into it at one point but for the cost of them? We just couldn’t justify that. Did he really want or need a perfectly polished and coiffed college application anyways? No.

He didn’t have anyone outside our house edit his essays

His father and I read them over. Scott for grammar, me for overall tone. In the end the essays were 100% my son and not washed over with a vanilla bean for wide mass appeal. Hell, his common app essay was “Why I don’t like writing prompts.” Were there a few things that maybe his dad and I would not have said or written? Sure, but we weren’t the ones portrayed on the application. 

If my son’s writing doesn’t appeal to a college, then they should not accept him and he should absolutely not go there. 

He didn’t oversell himself. 

I hear this might be a midwestern trait but he didn’t overinflate anything he did or accomplished. Maybe to a fault, but again, that’s who he is. 

In the end my son got into his 1st, 2nd and free tuition option choices. Like I said, he had a small list and would have gone to any single one of the schools so we are thrilled for him. What will he study? He’s 18, so let’s give him some time but he’s looking at political science and music which is exactly what he said in 9th grade. I originally started writing on the internet (9 years ago!) because his educational journey so it felt right to bookend it with this post. I can’t wait to see how his next few years develop. He will be attending the University of Chicago in fall of 2021. 

The Pandemic Pantry

Watching the world in February made me think “We need some cereal.”

I went grocery shopping to start stocking up on dry goods so much so that my teen boys thought they had just won a Kellogg lottery. 

As we were unpacking from The Dry Goods Shopping Olympics, Tegan noticed one large bottle of Gatorade.

“Who is this for?”

Me: It’s for whoever gets the corona

Him: “Sign me up for that trip to Wuuuuhannnn!”

Jokes aside, this anti social family has been training for this for years. 

I have Twitter (and lol this blog?) and about 2 years of house projects I’m behind on, one of those being house numbers to put on the mailbox so delivery people can stop circling the cul-de-sac looking for the idiot who doesn’t have house numbers. 

About a month ago I even bought flower seeds to grow. I fu*king love a month ago Jen. 

Scott has a POV

Tegan has Xbox

Braden has Discord

That’s not to say we won’t have moments of chaos during our Cereal Quarantine.

Just when I was feeling smug about my pantry bursting with goods, I hear the distinct sound of a box hitting the floor with a swoosh of small items scattering about. 


Tegan from downstairs “Don’t worry, it was just Dad’s Fiber One.”

Like I said, we’re good here. Except for one of us who might have to find an alternate for his fiber needs.


Listen, if you’re judging my cereal choices then I’m probably judging you for your Wheaties.