Friday, September 7

Baby-Proofing. Parents Winning.

So, after we had Macy and she started moving a little bit, we started talking about baby-proofing. We went pretty simple, basically we only put latches on the cabinets under the sink which hold all the cleaners and bad for baby materials. We put outlet covers all over, but Macy has since learned to pull them out. She is quite crafty. Anyway, I was looking around today and just started to notice how crafty we've had to start getting to try and outsmart Macy for a little while. 

We've all seen this technique before. This makes Macy mad. Sometimes she will just stand at the cabinet, pull on it, stomp her feet and hit the rubber band or hair tie while whimpering and waiting for one of us to come open it for her. We don't open it, of course, which makes her even more mad. 

But this one is my favorite. Macy was really enjoying opening these doors, then slamming them shut. All I could envision is one of the glass panes shattering all over her. You may be asking yourself, 'Is that a Scrabble tile holder?" Why yes, my friends, it is, with a hair tie that I had in my hair at the moment I decided that something must be done to stop her. Luckily, she hasn't figured out that she can just pull the tile holder out, but I have no doubt that she will soon.  

Yet another reason why having no bathroom doors sucks, but luckily we have an ottoman and random black cabinet that was in our guest bedroom closet. But there was a significant amount of engineering that went into this set up. You see, Macy, my smart, sassy, super strong and incredible daughter, could push the black cabinet out of the way if it wasn't sitting on the bottom side with the strips of what I can only describe as no-slip strips. So I get a good stretch any time I need to walk into my bathroom or closet, but I guess that's good right? It's like yoga, but not really, at all. 

Despite all the hair ties that are completely unusable now, I don't know what I would do without this girl. I L-O-V-E this face on her. I wish this picture wasn't blurry because this is the perfect face. You know she's just thinking, "What are you doing? Can I do it?" She is adventurous, rambunctious, a handful and full of shenanigans. I wouldn't want her any other way. Oh happy day, week, year, life.

Tuesday, September 4

Labor Day Weekend Project: Master Closet Updo

It seems like lately I have started to hate almost every decor item that I have. Maybe it's because I just stare at everything all the time, and then it gets old. Am I alone in this? Please tell me no. I already feel like quite the witch of a wife when I tell Cliff about all the things I want to change, and then he turns and says, "I like the way you have decorated the house." 
He's too good of a man. Just wait #iminsanelyluckythismanputsupwithme is going to start trending on Twitter because I use it so much. Which by the way I gave in and have joined the tweeting masses, @emkmcgraw

Anyway, we've started making strides in the home renovation department and have a pretty good timeline for the bigger stuff in the near future. But in the meantime, I have decided to start tackling more of the little issues. The first and most annoying to me was our closet. As you know from this post, the builder of my home decided that the master bathroom didn't need any doors in the useful places, like entrance or potty area. However, on some whim, he decided that the closet needed doors. Well, that's all good and great, but the fact is that Cliff and I rarely close these doors and since there are no doors at the entrance of our bathroom you can see all the way into our closet as soon as you walk into our room and the view ain't pretty.  

The reason we never close these doors is that they have never closed well over any of the carpet we've had and then when you pull hard to force them closed the builder's grade knobs are always falling off. For a while I couldn't find one of the glass balls which was scary because of the choking hazard to Macy. What am I saying, Macy was probably the one who hid it. But the point is that the one set of doors in my bathroom are completely useless and irrelevant.

We also have built-ins throughout our closet, which you would think would be a plus but they are just sad. The shelves are a weird size and have several dings and nicks in the wood and paint. All around, they are just depressing and, even more unfortunate, they are wildly visible as soon as you walk into our master bedroom. I had the great idea of putting decorative cloth bins on each shelf, but the size is so off that you can only fit one on each shelf and then there is a lot of awkward looking wasted space left over. And, I cannot tolerate wasted space, which is why my house can be so infuriating at times.

Then the cherry on top, we have this terrible lighting. My eyes are squinting and hurting just looking at this picture. A man built this house. No woman would ever commit a travesty like this. 

So I sat in my closet and thought to myself, 'How do I make this better? How do I make this pretty and something that I want to look at several times a day?' I started scouring my Pinterest boards for inspiration and decided curtains and ombré will be the solution to my problems. 

So, I went to work planning out all the logistics of how this would play out in my closet. Luckily, my mom is awesome, and agreed to help me pick out fabric and then turn that fabric into curtain panels for my bathroom. She also used the leftovers to make Euro shams for my bed. AHH! Moms are great, and everything seems to go smoother with them around, agreed?
 If not, get out, now.

Here is a closeup of the fabric we chose:

The fabulous panel my mom made for the potty room. 

And the panels on our new closet entry, also made by Mom, with a peak of my Labor Day weekend project!

So like I said, I decided Labor Day weekend would by my ombré-ing time. My mom was delivering the curtain panels on Labor Day so I wanted everything to be done! Ombré is by far one of my favorite trends right now. There are so many applications that can be made and so many ways to make it personal to your home, life and style. A win/win all around for me.

Tutorial via Little House on the Corner 

Some of the different applications and my inspiration.

Tutorial via PS- I made this
On a side note: as if I could love Erica Domesek any more after my love affair with Craft Wars, despite Tori Spelling's weird looking lips, she also posted this great DIY project giving tips on how to paint an ombre wall.

So I conned Cliff into taking me to Lowe's where I decided on the colors for my ombré shelves.

The colors I chose from darkest to lightest are:
Valspar's Summer Sparrow
Valspar's Soft Rabbit Brown
Valspar's Wool Coat
Valspar's Seagull Beach
Valspar's Warm Fog

First, I had to fill in some holes with Painter's Putty and prime the shelves with Valspar's bonding primer (my shelves required about 2 coats of primer). Thankfully this primer cuts out the need for sanding, which would've been disastrous since I am too lazy to take all our clothes out. Just FYI, Painter's Putty takes about 2 days to dry, so make sure to plan accordingly in your project timeline.  

I got a gallon of the primer, because it's the smallest can they had, but as for the other colors I only got quarts and still have lots left over for other projects. These colors are perfect for all over my house! I also didn't want a lot of sheen in the shelves, so I went with the eggshell finish. I gave each shelf two coats of goodness, and Violà! I am extremely happy with the results!

So before and after... 

The only unresolved issue is lighting, which I'm afraid will take a little more planning. The issue is that I want a chandelier to peak down between the curtain panels, but my extra-tall husband doesn't want to hit his head on it every time he walks in the closet. Boo. You may also be wondering what I'm going to do with the set of doors we took off the closet. Well, I don't want to ruin the surprise, but I have pretty big plans for them that I will of course share once I'm done in another post! :) 

I hope that your Labor Day weekend was wonderful! I'm so thankful for my family driving down to spend the day with us and being willing to help with projects. I know Cliff enjoyed a break from all my wild shenanigans. 

In conclusion, what type of mother would I be if I didn't share a few funny pictures of my precious little daughter? My brother sent me these from his iTouch on Monday of Macy giving us her creeper face (which I know she got from Cliff) and a good shot of her two bottom teeth.

Oh happy day! Love to you all!

Wednesday, August 29

My Struggle and a Post Share: My Daughter's Beauty

I have been struggling for quite a while, probably since the moment that I found out I was having a girl, as to the fact that I am raising a daughter in 2012. During a time when clothing and morals seem optional. In a culture that seems to almost hate women. How will I remind her that God made her perfect and make her believe it? How will I remind her that she is always enough? How do I teach her that fleeting beauty is not most important? How will I talk her through 'the awkward years?' Of which mine were many... How will I deal with the fact that sometimes she won't put a lot of stock into what I believe to be true about her? How will I console her if a boy breaks her heart, and how will I stop Cliff from killing him? Over and over, the questions and fears, both rational and irrational, cascade through my mind. Luckily, a Facebook friend, with a daughter around the same age as Macy, posted this article today. It was written by a father about his daughter, and offers some insight on some of the issues I was writing about above. I find such solace in reading this and maybe you will too.

How do I raise my daughter to know the true definition of beauty in a culture such as ours? How do I cultivate an image in her that is rooted in the beauty of Jesus and not the allure of a distorted sexuality?
Here are three points that I have found helpful in my journey:

Our Culture’s Definition of Beauty

In most societies, feminine worth is determined by how you live up to the cultural definition of “real womanhood.” In Dallas real womanhood is largely defined by physical beauty, and beauty is determined by which men find you attractive, which means feminine worth is defined by the ability to attract men. This is a heartbreaking perversion of why God created two sexes that leaves insecurity and broken marriages in its wake.

The Biblical Foundation of Beauty

God is the definition of beauty because He is absolute holiness, which is why scriptures like 1 Samuel 16:7and Proverbs 31:30 define beauty internally and teach that God is after our hearts. Our definition of beauty should then begin with godly character flowing from the purity of heart.
We also know from Song of Solomon that God created men to find women attractive, serving as a physical representation of how the Church finds Christ desirable above all things. Thus, any exploitation of women’s bodies for the attraction or the lust of man is a distortion of God’s created intent and a product of the Fall.

Practical Steps for Shepherding

Abandoning our city to avoid the realities of a fallen world won’t reverse the effects of sin in our families. The only solution is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But how do we pursue this? Here are a few practical ways:
  • Teach your daughter early and often that God loves her. The Lord designed her exactly as He wanted her. Speak truth to her before she hears the lie.
  • Affirm this truth. Tell your daughter she is beautiful and that you love being her father or mother. I cannot say this enough to my daughter, Eisley, and I’m determined by the grace of God to not have her grow up searching for the affirmation she was designed to get from her father.
  • Teach her early that sexuality is designed by God and meant to flourish inside of marriage.
  • Guard her environment. You cannot avoid all images, but don’t be foolish in what you let your daughter see.
  • Take her on dates. Model the unconditional love of the Father through uninterrupted time with her father.
  • Develop a family mantra about beauty: “Where does beauty come from? The heart. Why? Because God looks there.”
  • Be aware of the schemes of Satan in your daughter’s life. Ex: The mall is not evil in and of itself, but there is a strong pull there to worldly passions. When we leave the mall, I want to tell Eisley repeatedly that I love her, she is beautiful, I love being her daddy and that Jesus loves her.
  • Be aware of the schemes of Satan in your life. Satan hates your daughter and wants her worship and destruction. The best way to get to her is through her headship. For the sake of God’s glory in the joy of your children, pursue holiness.
  • Pray, beg, plead. Our best laid plans are feeble compared to the craftiness of Satan, and we are desperately dependent on the Spirit to do what only the Spirit can do: open her eyes to Jesus.
As a father with many parenting mistakes in my future, I am still learning. And I know that, more than anything, I need the grace of God as I seek to raise up my daughter in the ways of the Lord.

It comes with such relief that other Christians struggle with this same battle. I have said it before and I will say it again, I think Satan's biggest victory is if he can make us truly believe that we are alone in our struggles. I know that Cliff will be an incredible father and we have already spent many hours in conversation and strategy planning on this subject alone. I think my biggest worry is me. This past year and a half, I have desperately been trying to work on me and trying to make myself un-believe the lie that I am not enough or unworthy of unconditional love. Because I have to believe it before I can make Macy believe it. This is one of the reasons, of which there are many, that I am so thankful to be rooted in faith in Christ and to believe that he has made and will continue to make everything perfect. His plans are masterful and he knows what he's doing.

Sorry for the heavy topics the past few days! In lighter news, the week is half over and Labor Day is next week! It still feels somewhat like summer to me since I didn't go back to school for the first time in twenty years, but I sure am enjoying all the family time I have been getting these past two weeks. Pure bliss! 

So much love to you and yours, and may you be encouraged today by the unending love of our Father in Heaven who cares for us in a way that we could never hope for or imagine.

Sunday, August 26

Fun with an iPhone Camera

My daughter is 14 months old. My daughter is 14 months old. There is just no way that is possible. On one hand, it feels like we were bringing her home from the hospital just yesterday. Then on the other hand, it feels like she's always been with us, like I can't remember what life was like before her. She enriches my life every day. She has caused Cliff and I to become even closer. She keeps us laughing and guessing as to what she's doing and thinking. She is amazing. She is brilliant. She is funny. She is sweet. She is outgoing. She is busy and hardly sits still. She is headstrong. She is sassy. She is both mine and Cliff's mini-me. It is wonderful that a child can take all the very best from their parents. There are so many elements of her budding personality that are all from Cliff, so many that are all me, then, the most beautiful part, there are some that are just her. She is everything I could have ever hoped for in a daughter already, and I know there are still so many good times ahead. There are some times that she just looks me straight in the eyes and I know exactly what she is thinking. I love when I'm getting ready and all Macy wants to do is sit in my lap and play with my makeup brushes while she watches me finish putting on my makeup. This of course makes getting ready take about five times as long, but so much more enjoyable.   I love it when she lets me hold her, read her a book, and brush her hair. I love her. I love her more than I thought my heart could love anyone, and that's saying something because I feel like I have experienced overwhelming love for my wonderful husband. This overwhelming love that I have is crushing, but somehow in a good way. I am consumed by the joy and happiness that they each bring me. First with my husband, it was the impact of loving someone so much and living out that love in marriage. Then, with our daughter, not only am I so in love with her, but I fall deeper in love with my husband because she is both him and me, and because of the father he is to her and partner in parenting that he is to me. This life is bliss. 14 months of pure bliss, and I cannot wait to see what the future will bring.

You should know that as she turned, she stuck her finger like all the way up my nostril. 

So Macy, if you are reading this, please know that you are loved beyond measure. You are full of life, with all the potential there is in this world. You are growing up to be an extraordinary woman, and God forbid anyone tell you differently. There will be some days when you will allow people to get to you and tell you that you aren't good enough, but hear me tell you now that you are a life-changing, gorgeous, smart, witty and kind young woman, because those are the things that you are to me and you are still just a baby. How incredible you will be as you continue to grow... Mommy loves you, forever and always. 

Friday, August 24

Less is more

You may be noticing a few changes here on McGraw's Plus One. Apparently, I decided tonight was the night to change it all up. I was really tired of the look of the old blog. The old design was a little too kitschy. Ugh. Well, I guess I had such a strong reaction to the old design that I went the complete opposite way. The new look is super minimal, but I like it. I guess I'm thinking that if you aren't continually editing, revamping, rechecking and restyling you will find yourself in a hot mess sooner rather than later. The same goes for your wardrobe, accessories, shoes, home, all of it. We recently got new carpet, and it was the perfect excuse to do some editing in the house. The only problem is that now half of my garage is filled with crap. Anyway, it will find it's way out soon enough, and the whole process has been so cathartic. All in all, fall feels like a fresh start and this whole cleansing process has been exactly what we needed. Some parting words that are wonderful to live by-


What do you think of the new blog design? Are you doing anything to help clean your slate for this Fall?