Where to begin? A global pandemic, lock-downs, politicians left unchecked, an election shrouded in turmoil. From a global and national vantage point, it honestly felt like 2020 would never end. Personally though? Our family had a pretty good year. I already work from home and Tara is a stay-at-home mom; as one of my friends stated (in reference to being locked-down), "Y'all we're built for this!"... indeed we are.
It was quite a year as a family unit. We've been doing our part by staying home, social distancing and wearing masks when we do venture out for groceries. We sure do miss going out to eat though, but there will be plenty of time for after the pandemic.
Still rambunctious as ever, 2020 was the year Wyatt was fully potty trained. He still loves dinosaurs, heavy machinery, and "Mando" from The Mandalorian. Wyatt doesn't really stop talking, ever! (haha) and is drawing people (as stick figures) and can use scissors, glue, and other craft stuff. Wyatt tried playing soccer, however, that was cancelled due to COVID. We were all bummed out by that...however we signed him up for acrobatics class at Center Stage this fall. He loves doing that, we're excited to see his recital in the spring! He's a great kid with a big heart who is ferociously protective when it comes to his family.
Still dancing and participated in her 3rd consecutive year with the company at Center Stage. Even amid a pandemic the company traveled to Montgomery, Mobile, and Biloxi to compete at dance competitions.
Those dance competitions had to be completely overhauled to meet social distancing requirements. My favorite perk was the grouping of companies in a single time slot. This meant committing to a few hours on a single day, instead of several hours spread across a 3-day weekend.
Tara and I decided to homeschool her this year; we just felt like it was the right choice during the pandemic, plus Tara has the credentials to do so. It hasn't been easy, but Chloe is learning a lot and getting good grades!
Still drumming...except now he's on drumming for Enterprise High School's "Big Blue Band". He also earned his learner's permit, however, has shown almost no interest in driving. This is a trend among Gen Z, so it's not surprising since many of his friends don't drive either. Instead, he spends most of his time with video games including Red Dead 2, Skyrim, Assasin's Creed Valhalla, and Animal Crossing. When he's not playing video games or in school, he's on Instagram chatting away in DM's.
Chase also grew his hair out and is taller than me (good for him!). He did manage, however, to get COVID this past June. It spread throughout his mother's house. Thankfully, his symptoms were mild and he was able to fully recover and is doing fine.
We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary this past fall. Time sure has flown by! Tara keeps busy with teaching the kids, crocheting plushies, blankets, coats, and hats for her small business, and running the household. She is truly wonderful and we love and appreciate her dearly.
Personal Accomplishments and Growth
I've always been interested in photography, but what really got me going was rebuilding Tara's store for Crotchet Creations. Built from the ground up using WordPress, Beaver Builder and WooCommerce. As such, we knew that high-quality photos help move inventory.
So, I decided to to try and master photography. I took dozens of LinkedIn Learning courses and read 8 different books about the subject. I also purchased a couple mirrorless cameras and some gear, and took advantage of my Creative Cloud subscription to learn Lightroom Classic and some advanced Photoshop techniques. Photography has become another creative outlet for me and it's always fun to get up early and go shoot a sunrise.
Check out some of my favorite photos.
I also contributed to Next.js...specifically the docs, and the WordPress and Blog Starter examples. In all, I made 4,951 contributions to 7 organizations on Github in 2020.
I have an Apple Watch and wear it all day. In 2020 I averaged:
5,974 steps per day. This is down slightly from 6,095 in 2019, but way up from 3,806 in 2018. 510 active calories per day. This matched 2019, and is down from 590 in 2018. 13 minutes of excersise per day. This down from 19 minutes in 2019.
Other cool averages my wearable tracks:
- 132 standing minutes per day
- 59 BPM average resting heart rate
- 4 flights of stairs per day
- 7 hours of sleep per night
- 13 seconds per attempt at washing hands (I'm impatient, sorry!)
...and pretty much stayed the same weight, around 175lbs.
This is mega: I finally deactivated both my Facebook and Instagram accounts! I really only spend time on Reddit and occasionally Twitter, although I was glued in November as I doom-scrolled through the election coverage.
Serving Our Community
As a family, we continued to volunteer at Wiregrass Church until the lock-down. We also volunteered our time with the Big Blue Band Boosters by selling concessions at home football games this past fall.
We got to meet a lot of nice people and one special pup, Jake the K-9!
Early on in 2020 my engineering manager had some major health issues. He's doing a lot better now (which is amazing, he's truly a remarkable human being) but these issues caused him to miss the first half of the year. I had to fill in and was asked to lead several projects again. I didn't realize how much I missed the thrill of leading projects again!
Here are some of the sites my team shipped:
- Together Stronger
- Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
- M365 Blog (rebuild)
- Next.js WordPress Example
- Bill of Rights Institute
At WebDevStudios we also renewed our focus on continuing education for the engineers in 2020. I put together a 3-phase plan to become "The Best Damn Gutenberg Shop Out There".
In addition to projects and Cont. Edu initiatives...we also rolled out a new Website Migration boilerplate, re-wrote the website audit documentation, migrated and re-wrote most our internal documentation, updated our security policy and I hired 4 new engineers!
My wonderful retainer clients: Bluewater Broadcasting, Wiregrass Church, Bainbridge Church, Jerome Jackson, and Margaret Barber all stuck with me in 2020. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve them and am looking forward to our continued partnership in 2021.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to provide technical editing services on not one, but two books in 2020:
These are both major titles in the WordPress space, and I'm thankful to Brad and Lisa for asking for my help!
When we moved in 3 years ago this place was a mess. A foreclosed house on 5 overgrown acres. Vines, weeds, and scrub-brush everywhere you looked. This year was all about cleaning up our property. My friend Jeremy stopped by last winter and bush hogged about an acre, and I spent the rest of the year working the rest by hand. Lots of time was spent running a chain saw and burning piles and piles of brush and tree limbs.
Tara and I also painted the living room, breakfast nook, and kitchen...as well as pressure washing the outside of the house, front porch, and pool enclosure. We also leveled up our swimming pool area and bought a nice swing, a picnic table, and had Amerigas plumb a couple of permanent gas lines for the grill...the pool deck is really coming along nicely!
Even though I didn't travel for work, we did travel plenty as a family. All of these trips were planned and paid for prior to COVID. We masked up and took the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and others safe.
Normally when Chloe has a regional dance competition, I stay home with boys. Nationals are a different story though! Last year we headed to Savannah, GA and had an amazing time. This year was no different! We headed to Biloxi, MS and stayed at a lovely beachside hotel. Thanks to the new COVID-way of doing dance competitions, we only needed to be on site for a few hours on Saturday and we were done!
The company did really great, coming in 2nd to a dance company from New Orleans. They were runners-up last year to a team from St. Louis, MO. It's amazing that a dance company, from a small town of 30,000 people, can hold their own against teams from major cities! Proud of you, girls!
We've been going up north during the summer to visit my parents the last few years, taking in the beautiful weather and outdoor activities in Florence County. My folks finished building their cabin, which meant we finally had our own place...so we stayed for two full weeks!
We visited Escanaba, MI, went fishing, made some amazing meals, visited several parks and a zoo. It was an amazing trip and really recharged our batteries.
Back to Wisconsin for Duck Hunting
My buddy Clint and I had been talking about this trip for a while. 2020 was the year we finally went. We were originally going to fly up and duck hunt with my dad, uncle, and cousins in Wisconsin. The flying plans were scrapped and we drove up to instead.
It was both Clint and Chase's first time duck hunting, so it was a real thrill for Dad and I to share the experience. We did pretty well, Clint shot a duck on his very first try and I shot a couple more and a goose throughout the week. Even Chase (who doesn't enjoy waking up early) had a blast and can't wait to go back.
This was our 3rd trip to Walt Disney World and 2nd time staying at Disney's Art of Animation resort. Initially, we were worried about being in a crowded theme park during a pandemic, but to our relief, Disney was not playing around with guest safety. Masks and social distancing were required--everywhere. Violators were asked to leave. There was also extra sanitization going on... industrial sized Lysol spray and cast members constantly wiping down hard surfaces. I can honestly say, we felt safer at the theme parks than at our local Wal-mart.
We visited Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. With the lower crowds, we were able to see and ride just about everything! With the kiddos being a little older (and experienced) this added to our enjoyment. It was the best Disney World trip yet.
Here are a few things I'd like to work on in 2021:
- Continue getting up early and taking photos
- Spend less time on Reddit
- Spend more time blogging
- Finish cleaning up the yard (I'm getting too old for this!)
- Finally buy a zero-turn lawn mower
- Finish painting the master bedroom, dining room, and upstairs
I've been saying for years that our family is blessed, and if anything 2020 proved that to be true. We are forever thankful to God for our health, steady work, and financial security.
As I stare down the barrel at 2021? I'll be turning 40, and can't help but think the best is yet to come.
As always, I'll end with my favorite verse:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? -Matthew 25-27 NIV