Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

My kids have come to associate the word vacation with a trip to Grandma’s house. And while I truly enjoy these trips, I have to admit that when I hear fantastical stories of vacations spent at amusement parks or island paradises or faraway countries, a trip “back home” feels pretty dull. I imagine the imprint that an exotic vacation would leave on my children’s memories, and I sometimes wonder if they are missing out.

But after another one of our typical vacations, I realized a trip to Grandma’s is really the best vacation I can give them—and myself, for that matter. We aren’t missing out on anything. Because while Grandma’s house is a lot like home, it’s also a place where my kids’ dreams (and mine) come true. Sort of, at least. They get to do (almost) anything they want and I have the pleasure of doing (almost) nothing.

A trip to Grandma’s house is an escape to the paradise of a simple life. Where there are no schedules and relaxation is a top priority. Well, for everyone except Grandma, who somehow, doesn’t seem to mind. She cares for all of us, which means the kids are never told no and I have the privilege of putting my feet up.

For the kids, Grandma’s house is a place where they get to enjoy all-you-can-eat cookies and bottomless cups of Kool-Aid. Grandma is happy to serve up any-way-you-want-it ice cream sundaes and whenever-you-want-it candy treats. She gladly cuts up PB&J sandwiches to my kids’ exact specifications and requires no more than one bite before moving on to dessert.

Grandma’s house is a place where curiosity and imagination come to life as the kids help tend the garden and mix batches of cookie dough. Their senses ignite as they examine the quiet beauty of each plant species and gaze longingly through the oven window, waiting for those cookies to turn the perfect shade of brown.

It’s a place where time stops and so does Grandma, every time a child asks for her attention. For Grandma, there seems to be more than 24 hours in a day, and she never runs out of time to dote on her grandchildren . . . or me.

It’s a place where my kids’ attention is captured by the intriguing curiosities hidden inside. There are age-old board games that come to life with a good dusting and little hands that are willing to play them. There are phones that hang on the wall, an unusual machine used for making clothing and large black discs that supposedly play music. The hours slip away as the mysteries of Grandma’s house are uncovered and my children get caught up in the wonder of days gone by.

A trip to Grandma’s house means there are no stressful itineraries to follow and no pressure to “see it all”—because everything we came to see is standing right in front of us. There is no rushing around, no shuffling from one attraction to another, and no overly stimulated and over-tired children. Grandma’s house is the main attraction and it does not disappoint.

It’s a place where the fun never ends. Where there is fascination around every corner. And where we have the freedom to just be.

It’s a place where Grandma does the caretaking and I get to take care. Where comfort exceeds chaos. And where our hearts our fueled by affection and our bodies are fueled by rest.

Sure, memories of an extravagant vacation would certainly leave a mark on my children’s memories, but there is nothing that I would rather they remember than time spent with Grandma.

They don’t need a spin on a thrill ride or the white sand of an exotic beach to fill them up. Those things will always be there, but Grandma won’t. And right now is the time for them to soak in Grandma’s love and affection while experiencing the thrill of being the center of attention, the apple of her eye.

While there are a million other places that promise more excitement, it’s Grandma’s house that leaves my kids begging to return again and again. Visiting Grandma is quite ordinary, but it leaves them with extraordinary memories of what they consider to be the happiest place on earth.

And I can’t think of a better vacation than that.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

I Thought Our Friendship Would Be Unbreakable

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Two friends selfie

The message notification pinged on my phone. A woman, once one of my best friends, was reaching out to me via Facebook. Her message simply read, “Wanted to catch up and see how life was treating you!”  I had very conflicting feelings. It seemed with that one single message, a flood of memories surfaced. Some held some great moments and laughter. Other memories held disappointment and hurt of a friendship that simply had run its course. Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on her profile page to see how the years had been treating her. She was divorced and still...

Keep Reading

The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

In: Journal, Marriage, Relationships
The First Ten Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking www.herviewfromhome.com

We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash. Meet Single Christians! My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site. We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the...

Keep Reading

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

In: Journal, Motherhood
Toddler sleeping in mother's arms

Tiny sparkles are nestled in the wispy hair falling across her brow, shaken free of the princess costume she pulled over her head this morning. She’s swathed in pink: a satiny pink dress-up bodice, a fluffy, pink, slightly-less-glittery-than-it-was-two-hours-ago tulle skirt, a worn, soft pink baby blanket. She’s slowed long enough to crawl into my lap, blinking heavy eyelids. She’s a little less baby today than she was only yesterday.  Soon, she’ll be too big, too busy for my arms.  But today, I’m rocking a princess. The early years will be filled with exploration and adventure. She’ll climb atop counters and...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

In: Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
Man and woman kissing in love

Dear husband, I loved you first. But often, you get the last of me. I remember you picking me up for our first date. I spent a whole hour getting ready for you. Making sure every hair was in place and my make-up was perfect. When you see me now at the end of the day, the make-up that is left on my face is smeared. My hair is more than likely in a ponytail or some rat’s nest on the top of my head. And my outfit, 100% has someone’s bodily fluids smeared somewhere. But there were days when...

Keep Reading

Stop Being a Butthole Wife

In: Grief, Journal, Marriage, Relationships
Man and woman sit on the end of a dock with arms around each other

Stop being a butthole wife. No, I’m serious. End it.  Let’s start with the laundry angst. I get it, the guy can’t find the hamper. It’s maddening. It’s insanity. Why, why, must he leave piles of clothes scattered, the same way that the toddler does, right? I mean, grow up and help out around here, man. There is no laundry fairy. What if that pile of laundry is a gift in disguise from a God you can’t (yet) see? Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. I was a butthole wife. Until my husband died. The day...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

Love Notes From My Mother in Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Journal, Living
Woman smelling bunch of flowers

Twelve years have passed since my mother exclaimed, “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” as she leaned back in her big donut-shaped tube and splashed her toes, enjoying the serenity of the river.  Twelve years since I stood on the shore of that same river, 45 minutes later, watching to see if the hopeful EMT would be able to revive my mother as she floated toward his outstretched hands. Twelve years ago, I stood alone in my bedroom, weak and trembling, as I opened my mother’s Bible and all the little keepsakes she’d stowed inside tumbled to the floor.  It...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Friendships End, No Matter How Hard You Try

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Sad woman alone without a friend

I tried. We say these words for two reasons. One: for our own justification that we made an effort to complete a task; and two: to admit that we fell short of that task. I wrote those words in an e-mail tonight to a friend I had for nearly 25 years after not speaking to her for eight months. It was the third e-mail I’ve sent over the past few weeks to try to reconcile with a woman who was more of a sister to me at some points than my own biological sister was. It’s sad when we drift...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the House That Built Me

In: Grown Children, Journal, Living, Relationships
Ranch style home as seen from the curb

In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister. I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every...

Keep Reading