Our anniversary may not be until later this month, but we celebrated early and gifted ourselves an inflatable stand-up paddleboard. That is the traditional 3-year anniversary gift, right?
When we were in Vermont, we tried paddleboarding for the first time, and we both absolutely loved it. We knew that getting all four of us in a watercraft we can easily transport was not feasible but getting one paddleboard to share was something we quickly got behind.
The campground we are currently staying at north of Lancaster, Pennsylvania does not have its own lake or pond, unlike a few we have stayed at on our journey thus far, so we found a lake about 15 minutes away that has great boating access and is very friendly for paddling. Because it was our first launch, we made it a family affair. Will inflated the board and took it for a quick test ride before I jumped on for a longer paddle. While I was on the water, Will took Little Bird and Daisy for a hike along the Speedwell Forge trail.
The boards we had previously used were not inflatable and were therefore a little more robust than the one we have, so it took a little getting used to. However, after getting my bearings and testing my balance, it was such an enjoyable experience and a great full-body workout. I was on the water for a little over an hour and gained so much confidence in that time.
In our new way of life, finding that peaceful alone time can be very challenging, especially when balancing work and life and parenting and doing it all in such a small space. Aside from saying hello to a few kayakers and canoers and having a quick chat with Will and the girls when they caught up to me along the shore, that hour on the paddleboard was the quietest hour I have had in a long time. You cannot get distracted with chores or other tasks when you are in the middle of a lake!
I spent a lot of that our I was on the water working on my balance and engaging my core, but once I got my bearings, I settled my mind, I meditated, and I prayed. The week had been full of more challenges than normal and having that time to recenter in multiple ways was exactly what I needed. When I stepped off (okay, it was more of a less-than-graceful sideways hop/sit maneuver) the paddleboard and onto the dock, my tank was refilled and I was ready to be mama and be present in a way I had struggled with the previous few days.
As soon as I regained my land legs, Will and the girls returned from their hike, and Little Bird, Daisy, and I found a nice spot on the grass to set up Bird’s play yard and have our picnic lunch while Will set off on the paddleboard with fishing pole and tackle in hand. Little Bird made friends with every passerby, waved at all the planes and birds flying overhead, and shooed away all the spotted lanternflies that continued to land around us. She also wiggled her way into my lap, crawled all over me, and gave all the hugs and cuddles in a way she does not do as often now that she is 16 months old and has so much to explore. In many ways, the quiet hour with her did as much, if not more, for my heart than the previous hour alone on the water.
Once we got everything packed up at the lake, we managed to make it home in time for Little Bird to have a snack and get her down for a nap without having an overly tired toddler meltdown. We had decided to order dinner from a restaurant around the corner, so we scheduled our pickup for when we thought she would be waking up. Will ran and picked up our food, but she was still fast asleep. So, in an extension of our pre-anniversary celebration, Will and I got to eat dinner just the two of us at the picnic table outside with the beautiful bouquet of flowers Will randomly picked up the day before.
We eat virtually every meal together, but we rarely get to have a complete conversation about anything without cutting something up, showing Bird how to use her fork, or constantly clinking our glasses with her sippy cup because she is obsessed with “cheers.” It was such a nice treat to just be us for a few minutes.
While our anniversary may not technically be for a few weeks, I feel like we have already had the celebration we needed. We also now have a paddleboard that will give us each the time we need to refuel and be the best partners and parents we can be. Now, here’s to hoping our upcoming campgrounds are right on water so we can really work on our balance and get some use out of this thing!