Scrolling through for Menu Monday images I was amazed to realize it has been roughly 2 years since my last MM post! I knew time these past few years would go fast... but, wow!
As my youngest entered her Junior year of (homeschool) High School two autumns ago, her first after the last of her 3 older siblings graduated, I felt I needed to open up more time in order to invest in her, encourage her in days of learning alone, and savor each last moment I would have in our schooling journey. Many trusty old posts here on the blog were lovingly placed on the shelf until that season was complete, including the more time-consuming threads like Menu Monday.
As graduation commenced this past May, I began contemplating more seriously what the future would hold... not just for my daughter but also for me as a housewife and newly 'retired' educator. I had always kept a sort-of 'bucket list' for the day my nest appeared to be emptying. However, in all the years I had compiled tidbits of to-dos with hopes these directives would help me not lament too deeply over the child-raising years coming to an end, I couldn't have anticipated the struggles hubby and I would face in the home-stretch. For most of my youngest's senior year our marriage was shaky at best and when Covid hit, it added sparks to more than a few touchy moments between us, especially where work outside of the home was concerned after he found himself among the many without jobs.
Enter my Mother-in-Law. I spent part of last fall staying with her, a 7 hour drive away, in order to help as she underwent major surgery and recovery. As the months since have progressed, so has the worsening of her condition and, come my youngest's graduation party in June, it was firmly decided she should sell and move in with us.
Summer was filled with planning and remodeling. I also spent time researching how to best care for my MIL since she not only has mobility issues but also diabetes and high blood pressure. On her own she had all but given up on cooking and was not eating very healthfully. Her blood sugar levels were all over the place, some mornings we feared she might not wake up at all. Hubby and I have prioritized a low-carb, low-sugar diet for the past 10 years as both of us are PRE-diabetic, so transitioning MIL into a similar routine wasn't going to be too hard. Time and activities to keep her mentally stimulated and feeling "at Home" were/are critical to her transition as well. Boning up on my old psyche and counseling studies to remain sensitive to her needs has been helpful as well.
By the beginning of August she was settling into a cozy studio apartment we arranged for her in our old art studio. Unpacking and finding routine consumed most of our days. As September drifted in hubby even began to recognize not only how necessary her care was, but also how much I was contributing in the process of looking after home and family...that it really was a big job, one which he himself did not really want to do! This was a very bright corner in this whole Covid lay-off situation!
Hubby's realizations were a breath of much needed fresh air after the struggles we had faced seemed to atrophied my ability to make substantive homemaking posts on the blog of any kind. My future felt so uncertain and I felt as though I would be writing in falsehood to even try. Now, however, I do feel the sweet release to speak more openly and post candidly regarding the Art of Housewifery in all its stages. I can't say we have worked out all of our worries, but I can confess that I feel we have scaled the biggest hurdles, learned to talk better and listen more and, most of all, I have recognized the desperate need to bathe our marriage in prayer preemptively, daily... but that is a separate post!
I share all this not just to set the stage for slipping back into regular themed posts, but also to testify to the rocky road I am certain many of us share. The life of a housewife is often a thankless job. One where the tiny details often go unrecognized. The family knows the floors seem cleaner or the shelves lack dust... they appreciate clean clothes in their dressers and warm food to fill their bellies each evening... but, understandably, they often don't comprehend the energy each of these loving acts of service require from planning through to implementation.
As many of our troubles and challenges work their way out (or at least managed) and now that we have (mostly) found our new groove I just knew restarting Menu Mondays alongside periodic Keepers at Home posts needed to become an essential part of my weekly routine. I believe posts like these are a platform of unified encouragement and inspiration, especially for those of us choosing to walk out this often invisible but vital role in the face of adversity... and the blog parties I link-up with to get these thoughts out are a great community to be part of (click link in text above to learn more about blog parties).
Next week I will begin using Monday posts to share our menu from the previous week AND, to keep it super real, I will make note of anywhere it did NOT go as planned! I think of menus in a similar way as the homeschool routine schedules we use to have: they are a great target for the week but one must remain flexible and ready for adjustment!
While I am 110% for flexibility in any schedule, I also believe having them is vital to staying on track and, where meal planning is concerned, to keeping within budget. I know, the days I lack planning (or plan unrealistically) we often end up eating less healthy, feeling less productive and spending more than planned. It is like that old adage: if you fail to plan your plans will fail.
In regards to Menus, my game has stepped up quite a bit with MIL here now. With diabetes, especially insulin dependent as she is, it is extremely important to keep a regular eating schedule. With balanced diet, variety and scheduling at the height of importance now (and various picky eaters in my crew) I have used my Menu Worksheet to-the-max detailing all three mains: breakfast, lunch and dinner. (While MIL still has the capacity to remember, she is in charge of her own snacks which she keeps in her "apartment" with her.)
I look forward to sharing these details each week along with some links to new recipes we are trying and even a few recipe notes of my own! Most of all, I hope you will be encouraged to plan and try new things as well! I do try to share meal snapshots regularly on Instagram, if you would like to hop over and follow me there.
So, here we are, back in business! I would love to hear from you! Where do you stand on the whole planning business? Do you have a set weekly schedule? Do you menu plan? How have you been navigating Covid? Is there anywhere I can encourage you today?
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