15 Rearranged

The plan was to celebrate in Las Vegas.

In our fifteen years of marriage, Cortney and I have only been on three trips together and they were all in our first three years of marriage: our honeymoon when we drove to Myrtle Beach and stayed in the shadiest motel ever (I really need to write that story), our first year anniversary trip to Seattle to see the Pacific Ocean and the birthplace of grunge, and a road trip after our second anniversary to Montana for a wedding.

We have also driven to the state of New York a couple times to see friends and go on wine tours.

These were all fun trips, but they were also all pre-children.

Eddie was born in 2009 and we haven’t gone away–other than a quick night in Chicago–since.

I was given the opportunity to present at UNLV just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Vegas strip right before our 15th wedding anniversary. We found family members willing to take our children for multiple days. It was perfect.

You know what happened next, Coronavirus. Life cancelled.

As the date of our anniversary got closer, I realized we had no plans. None. So I turned to the one person I knew was an expert in creative outings: my sister-in-law, Liz. She seriously thinks of everything when it comes to planning fun, so I knew she wouldn’t disappoint.

She texted me back less than 10 minutes after my help plea with a plan: they have a boat they would let Cortney drive and she would pack us a romantic picnic dinner.

There was a cooler with a cocktail for me and beer for Cortney and champagne for both of us. There were champagne flutes. There was a meat and cheese board. There were delicious sandwiches, chips, and pasta salad. She packed a bag with cozy blankets in case it was chilly and we wanted to snuggle.

It was perfect. I picked up dessert from the restaurant we have eaten at on our anniversary every single year (they are only doing take-out orders right now, so going there for dinner was out).

But best of all, Cortney got to take his lady out on the Big Lake.

It wasn’t Vegas, but it was Cortney’s happy place: Lake Michigan in a boat on the most perfect evening we have had yet this summer.

We are heading into this next year of marriage in a different place than we have been in before. I’m not sure how to explain it. I see it in how Cortney comes upstairs less stressed out each Sunday after paying the weekly bills and going over the budget. I can tell how he smiles at me from across the patio table at our friends’ pool. I notice it as we plan and execute each home improvement project.

Maybe it’s because we are not newlyweds or new parents anymore. We’ve settled in, but not in a depressing way. It’s comforting and secure. It’s warm and stable.

Sure 2020 has been a string of disappointing cancellations of trips and opportunities for all five of us, and yes, there has been bickering among all of us since three months is a long time to be together constantly, but it feels like things are also stronger and certain even in a time of uncertainty and what-ifs.

What I know is that we have gotten through worse together, and this time we have a secret Switch with Animal Crossing that the kids know nothing about.


I love you, Cortney.

Let’s get a boat.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I wish you only the best and many many more anniversaries! Take care always love you both! Carolyn says

    Happy anniversary to an amazing couple a little late or better late than never! I wish you only the best and many many more anniversaries! Take care always love you both! Carolyn

  2. I would so prefer that over a trip to Vegas! We buried my sweet mama yesterday and had, per her wishes, an after party at my sisters house. We took the boat out and it made me feel somewhat peaceful. I’m an anxiety sufferer, too, and wish you well during this time. Happy anniversary!

  3. Awe, I love you both so much! I love that you think I’m creative. I can’t wait to go boating with you guys

  4. Happy anniversary! What a beautiful way to make the best of things.

  5. Happy anniversary! I still find it hilarious the kids haven’t figured out about the switch!!!