Year in Review – Pandemic Style

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We all have our stories during the good times and the bad. The Pandemic of 2020 will go down in the books for so many of us as hard. Just turning on the news in the morning is difficult enough. Then we get to look at what’s happening in our own homes and those that we love to see more of it.

But in all of the hard, there is MORE good. We strive to be positive, and focus on the now instead of worrying so much about the future. The wedding will happen. The surgery is finally scheduled. College is on-line. There is toilet paper in the stores!

This is our 2020.

A picture of me in my biking gear by an emoji with a sick face.

January – vacation mode

The year started out strong, with a trip to Oahu in January. We have fallen in love with all things Hawaii, and this was our third trip to the islands in four years. We’re still trying to decide which island is our favorite, having vacationed in Kauai (twice), Maui, and now Oahu. Three down, a few to go!

The highlights of our Oahu trip are too many to count, but swimming with sharks AND a whale rank up at the top. We did less exploring this time and focused more on rest – morning coffees on the beach, reading in the afternoons, and watching the sun go down in the evenings (with a glass of wine in hand, of course). Our sweet little airbnb was steps from the ocean and we basically had the beach to ourselves.

Hawaii…we miss you! Counting the days till we can go back.

On a pandemic note, my sister (Jackie) informed us of a strange virus in China while we were in Oahu. We were FaceTiming so I could show her how close our airbnb was to the ocean, and while she was worried about the virus, we were more interested in hitting the beach.

A virus? What’s the big deal?

A picture of Mike and I sitting on beach chairs in Oahu, staring at the ocean.
A collage of our time in Oahu - a pic of our airbnb, Mike on the beach, swimming with sharks, a pic of sharks, another of us exploring, and an evening sunset.

February – “normal” life

While we were hearing more and more about this strange virus, we moved on with life – bike riding on warm weekends and wedding planning with Josh and Tiffany.

A collage of us biking, and us at a restaurant.

March & April – COVID-19 hits the states and we socially distance

After being home for Spring Break, Zach headed back to finish the year at The University of Texas, in Austin. Shut-downs forced him (and his girlfriend, Kirsten) into on-line class, which is not their favorite way to learn. They are both still on-line, which is frustrating but necessary.

Josh was fortunate to go on-line as well with his job at AT&T. After a few months of working at the kitchen counter, he and Tiffany bought a desk and moved him to the bedroom for his own work space. Tiffany is a realtor, so working from home is what she’s been doing anyway.

Since Mike’s job requires him to be on site, he went to work every day. Temperature checks, masks, and socially distanced mode is his new normal. So thankful that he has remained virus-free.

A collage of me FaceTiming the boys and their girls.
Zach in a field of bluebonnets.

Socially-distanced coffees are a thing. Okay, so maybe the girls and I don’t just stick to coffee. Sometimes we test margaritas, muffins, scones, etc. After a few weeks of going nowhere, seeing no-one, and going a little craycray, I finally started gathering a few friends who were willing to hang out in the back yard, 6 feet apart. This was a lifesaver for me, because girlfriends are life during stress. Thank you, Julie and Lisa, for being my therapists! And then eventually Cathy came to play. 😀

Me, Lisa, and Julie in the back yard holding a margarita.

May – surgeries resume

After our trip to Hawaii in January of this year, we learned that Mike’s cancer was back. He had another spot on his liver, his third recurrence there after his initial colon surgery back in 2007. When we talked to his oncologist, we were in the middle of shut-downs and his doc said that his surgery was considered non-essential at the time. The hospital was prepping for an onslaught of COVID cases, and the only surgeries they were doing were emergency, life-saving ones.

Mike’s cancer is, thankfully, a slow-growing carcinoid cancer, but the only treatment option is surgery. So while waiting was rather mind-blowing, we had to wait, knowing that the tumor would be slowly growing inside him. From March to May we waited, and then as soon as things started opening up, surgery was scheduled. Mike had two lobes (or 1/4) of his liver removed, and I couldn’t be with him. Dropping him off at the hospital was painful for both of us. (And you can see the orange envelop on Mike’s bed (below), where I wrote Dr. Gogel a personal letter, giving him “advice” on how to take care of my guy.)

We are relieved to share that the margins were good, and he is in remission once again. In typical Mike style, he had surgery on a Friday and was back to work (from home) the following Monday. He was also soon doing his morning Peloton work-outs, and working his magic in our back yard. God is good.

Mike getting ready to go into surgery.
Mike working outside after his liver surgery.

Our poor pup tore his ACL in May, after jumping off of the couch (we think), his favorite place to nap during the day. After deciding that being a 3-legged pup was no fun, Theo had surgery to replace the ACL in his left knee. It was a difficult recovery for him, but he made it through. We’re happy to report that he’s his happy self again, despite the occasional limp. Theo turned 10 years old at the end of September.

Theo after his ACL surgery.
Theo sitting on the diving board.

June & July – loving the outdoors

We spent a ton of time outside over the summer months, and thoroughly enjoyed having a momma duck and her 12 ducklings take residence in our yard in June. If you watched my Instagram Stories, you know how obsessed I was! They spent a weekend swimming in our pool as they prepared for the journey to Lake Lewisville. What a gift!

In addition to watching baby ducks, we’ve done some long bike rides, fun happy hours on the deck, (wine, beer, margs, Mai Tais, Pina coladas, mules, g&t’s, etc.), and lots of reminiscing about places we’ve traveled and plans for where we’ll go when we are able.

We were also entertained with Zach and his pottery over the summer. He got a wheel for his birthday, and made lots of cups and pots (and a few pipes) when he wasn’t sleeping. Hoping he resumes his Etsy Shop someday because he’s very talented.

The pool with a mamma duck and her babies.
A collage of 1) a cocktail, and 2) a beer.
A shadow picture of me on my bike.
A picture of Zach's hands on the pottery wheel.

August – wedding bells

Like so many other couples, Josh and Tiffany were forced to postpone their April wedding to the end of August. The journey was tearful and frustrating, watching the shutdowns and wondering if they would even get to move forward in August. As we got closer to go-time, it was also hard knowing that most of our family wouldn’t be making the long trip to celebrate with us. We have siblings all over the country, and while they had originally planned to attend, COVID put a stop to that.

So thankful for Mike’s dad and his wife for making the trip, and also for many good friends who showed up for us. If you are reading this, know that your presence was so appreciated. You have no idea how much.

Josh and Tiffany saying their vows at the Grand Ivory.
Family picture at the wedding.
Collage of Mike and I dancing, and Josh and Zach walking.

September & October – socially distanced trips

It was SO nice to finally get away in mid-September, the first time going anywhere since Hawaii in January. We joined some good friends at an Oklahoma lake and did lots of boating, skiing, eating, drinking, story-telling, and laughing! It was also nice to enjoy some cool weather.

BTW, that is Mike showing off his slalom skills on the ski he used as a teenager. He’s still got that swag!

Mike water-skiing in Oklahoma.

I took my first flight (during the pandemic) in late September to see my Dad, who lives in a nursing home in Iowa. My five siblings joined me and we were lucky enough to stay at my sister and brother-in-law’s farm. Dad was allowed outside visits and we loved seeing him after way too long. It was also SO nice to spend time with my siblings as we currently live in six different states! {Selfie by my sister, Jackie!}

It was a great time to be in Iowa. Fall colors and Dana was harvesting the beans.

A sibling selfie in Iowa.
Picture of a tractor in the fields, harvesting.

We also took a little trip to Austin in early October to spend some family time. Zach and Kirsten are studying at UT, and Josh and Tiffany (and Luca!) joined us too. We hit up the breweries (pictured at Zilker Brewery here), ate some yummy food (LOVE the food trucks!), and spent time at our Airbnb playing cards.

Mike and I also did our biking thing. We hauled our own bikes down this time, and loved exploring the area. Barton Springs was one of our favorite adventures this time, and I’m pictured below, swimming in the chilly 68 degree water. COLD but so refreshing!

Josh and Zach in Austin at a brewery.
Me swimming in Barton Creek.

November – a family emergency

My sweet niece, Stephani, was hospitalized in the Minneapolis, MN area, with bacterial meningitis in mid-November. The infection caused a vegetation on her mitral heart valve, and she eventually was cleared for surgery to replace the valve. Stephani spent three weeks ALONE in the hospital (again, due to COVID restrictions in the hospital), fighting for her life, while her family and friends prayed from afar.

We are beyond grateful that Steph is home recovering with her husband and sweet baby girl. She is indeed a miracle. Thank you to all my personal prayer warriors, for your prayers and support.

Kale, Steph, and Kennedi.

December – counting blessings

While life has been difficult at times this year, we are grateful for the gifts we have been given. Mostly, we are blessed with amazing family and friends, many who have also walked a difficult journey.

We are looking forward to a better year ahead. Hopeful that vaccinations will help minimize the virus, that a new administration will implement a better strategy, and that our loved ones (and every one of you) stay safe.

Cheers to you all, who continue to join me on this blogging journey. Thank you for trying my recipes, writing reviews, commenting, sharing, and showing up. YOU are appreciated so very much.

a family Christmas photo by the tree.

P.S. – on the side

In the kitchen!

My frustrations were poured into the blog in 2020! I was a cooking/baking maniac, especially over the summer months when I’m usually traveling and planning fun outings. Sourdough was definitely a thing for me, and I’m proud to say I’ve mastered the crusty loaf. Avocado toast is one of our favorite things, and adding the sourdough was the “icing on the cake”, so to speak!

Sourdough is a process, but once you learn it, it’s easy. When I can, I’ll be documenting how to make a starter and growing it into a real live thing, as well as recipes! I named mine Gertie, and she is thriving in between occasional naps in the fridge.

Me with my SueBee apron on holding a loaf of sourdough.

In my mind.

Books? Yes please. I’ve really taken the time to read this year. The best thing for my mental health has been to turn OFF the news and either listen to music, a “crime junkie” podcast, or sit down and read a book. (I also love listening to books on Audible.) There is nothing better, especially when you find a good read that you can’t put down.

Below is a stack of some of the books I’ve read this year.

A stack of books I've read in 2020.

On the Peloton.

In addition to biking outside, I’ve fallen in love with the Peloton. Ok let me rephrase that. I love to hate the Peloton! This machine is a beast, but I do love the work-outs, the instructors, the community, and how it makes me feel when I’m done – sweaty (like dripping), accomplished, and ready to tackle the day. Canceling our gym membership and riding the Peloton is just 2020 smart. Do it if you are able!

Me on the Peloton bike.

On the couch.

I LOVE couch time at night after a busy day in the kitchen. When I can convince Mike to watch a good Netflix Show, there is nothing better than to curl up with a blanket and a cup of something warm. We recently watched The Queen’s Gambit, and it was REMARKABLE. Watch it if you haven’t, and let me know what your favorite shows are, please!

A pic of our TV with the Netflix show - The Queen's Gambit.

Good riddance 2020. Here we come 2021!


  1. Wow – what a year. I’m glad you got your trip to Hawaii in. So many cancellations of trips. You and your family exude love. I am so impressed with your husbands courage with his cancer. Lastly – the peleton I have heard that is awesome. I wish you and your family. Wonderful 2021

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Thank you so much, Eileen! Cheers to a better 2021!

  2. Laura Smith says:

    Happy New Year!
    Thanks for the update on your year! I’m sorry to hear Mike’s cancer came back but glad he is in remission again. I love your recipes and will be trying the shrimp risotto soon! If you ever want to come back to our cooking group, you are always welcome!
    Cheers to 2021!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Thank you Laura! I would love to join you sometime. Happy New Year!

  3. Loved reading about your year…you have a way with words and fun to read! Didn’t know about Mike and so happy he is doing well. Tell him hi from Fro and me. Hope 2021 is good to your family and all stay well!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Hello to you and Fro as well! Happy New Year, Linda! 🙂

  4. Love your Year! Ups and downs but, grateful! I LOVE following your blog and your insta stories.
    You are a true inspiration to me! Continue to be you! Can’t wait to hang out again!!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Thank you Michelle! I can’t wait to see you again soon. Love you lots!

  5. Katelynn Hernandez says:

    Happy New Year Sue (and family)! Thanks for sharing your recipes and life with us this year! Quick note- I saw a Kristin Hannah book in your stack and had to make sure her two part series (Firefly Lane and Fly Away) are on your list. If you haven’t read them yet THESE ARE A MUST READ!!! They span 4 decades and are about the bonds of girlfriends and mothers!! Run don’t walk to the store to get it!!!!!

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Hi Katelynn! I’ll be sure I pick up those books next! Thanks so much. 🙂

  6. This is awesome Sue!! I laughed, I cried….
    You have a way with words!! 🥰

    1. Suebee Homemaker says:

      Thank you Shari! Love you lots!!

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