Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five Faves

Good Customer Service! 
I have a degree in Fashion Merchandising. EVERY job I have ever had was a customer service job - deli/frozen yogurt restaurant, various retail stores, hostess at Rock Bottom, admin. assistant/visual manager for The Container Store and part-time manager for Pier 1. Why, you might ask, did I put a link to TCS and no other? Because TCS has, by far, THE BEST customer service available to common folk. (I know high end places treat their customers like royalty but who can afford those places?)
And since I was employed by a company that truly values their customers and know that it is possible to be attentive, kind, patient, expedient, and efficient, I often wonder WHY everyone else can't be what The Container Store is? I am not asking for much - be polite, be helpful (or find someone who can help), be efficient, be upfront and if necessary, be apologetic and make amends.

My Neighborhood 
Last summer some of the women in my neighborhood started a Bunco Night. All the ladies in the neighborhood get together once a month for game night w/food and beverages. And the men of the neighborhood have started playing poker together! It has been a fantastic way to get to know everyone! I love taking walks when everyone is out and playing with the kids or walking their dogs. People are friendly and stop for chats with us and the girls. I know most everyone by name and there are oddles of kid for all 3 girls to play with, now and in the future. It's close to shops, the highway, downtown and more importantly, the middle school and high school are less than a half mile walk. I seriously could see living in this neighborhood til the last one graduates high school!

My Kitchen
Memorial weekend 2 years ago we started a massive remodel of our kitchen. It was horrid. Functional, but very unpleasant to look at!
Really, when was plaid wallpaper "in"?

With a light switch cover to match!

Not awful, but not great!
Miss Juls modeling our vinyl showed ALL THE DIRT!

fake wood grain wainscoting! Again, ever "in"?
So that weekend, and for the next few weeks we tore the kitchen apart and slowing put it back together! Peeled wallpaper, pulled wainscoting, repaired walls, ripped up floors, took apart cabinets...primed walls, painted walls, cabinets and door hardware, laid new floors, replaces light switches, fixtures and this was the outcome
Love! Seriously, I love my kitchen now! Especially the floors!

painted white cabinets w/brushed nickle spray painted hardware

blurry but a close up! 
And since then I have added these super cute decals!

My laundry room/kids play room
Never build anything with cedar that your don't want animals to live in. Also, if you don't know how to build a porch correctly, don't! It's just a headache for the next owner. The sun porch was nothing but trouble since the day I moved to Pittsburgh. We talked and talked about remodeling it but knew that it was going to be quite an undertaking so we put it off...until I was 38 weeks pregnant! Left in the morning for a baby sprinkle thrown by dear friends and came home to a gutted, to the studs w/just windows hanging, sun porch! My husband has his own ways of nesting! :)
It took til New Years Day to get it usable and I have been rearranging and organizing while I can over the past few months, but I think I have it just how I want it! 

Inside the far left cabinet is a laundry shoot from the upstairs bathroom! My hubs in pretty awesome!

It is rarely this clean but it's the most beautiful room in the house! 

Nap time. 
Really, do I need to explain?

Happy 4 day week! Getting ready for a 50th Birthday Party for Mark's Uncle...might be MIA til next week! 

Thanks for hosting Hallie!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Me time!

Last Friday, as I sat in my living room realizing that my husband was going to be gone for the 3rd night in a row, I lovingly texted him and asked if I could have the next morning to myself. Time to be out of the house doing whatever I wanted. He granted my request! Miss Miriam is transitioning to formula so I had a good chunk of time! Like 5 hours! Seriously, it's been nearly 7 months that I have been alone for longer than 2 hours. I digress. I did some shopping. Made some returns and had lunch all alone! No one needed anything. No one asking for a bite. Just me. At Panera. Alone!
Soup and Salad. Yum. All mine! :)
As I sat there by myself, I couldn't help but notice a cute little boy playing at another table. He was babbling and fussing but really not a bother at all. I looked up and he was looking at me, I smiled, he glared and I noticed his mom looking at me. It was at that moment that I wished I had one of the girls with me! I wanted her to know that I have a babbling, fussy baby at home, along with a toddler and an almost 10 year old! We are united and this, me eating alone and looking put together, is NOT a normal occurrence! I wished that I could have a sign that said, "Mom of 3! First time out alone in several months!" I felt guilty for being away. It was like I was playing hookie in high school. Sleeping through a class in college. Calling off "sick" from a full time job! It didn't seem natural to be out without kids! It was like I had to justify this meal of peace and quiet!

As mothers we are united. No one knows what it's like to be a Mom til you are a Mom. And I feel connected to complete strangers when I see their growing belly. Or, I hear a Mom battling it out with a toddler in the neighboring aisle in Target. Raising kids is hard. The hardest job around. Running a house is not too far down the list either. Oh and let's not forget, our husbands! Because, I do. I know I do. The kids take so much time and energy it's so easy to just coexist and not sit down and relate. But, I also have to remember it's okay, no, IT'S REQUIRED to take some time for yourself. To recharge. To leave for a bit and get done in 4 hours what would take 4 days of trips with kids in tow!

An aside...Mark said to me Saturday evening after I had been gone all morning and he had run to the store for me but had left the 2 gallons of milk and other various items in the car, "I don't know how you do it!" It's good for me to know that he appreciates what I do all day and know the extent of 'tired' I am at the end of the day. (I also know he works hard and provides for us so I CAN stay home! Thanks Love!)

Here's hoping all you Mommas get some ME time soon!

Friday, May 24, 2013

7 quick takes (vol 6)

This cold weather that swept in last night is more than welcome to LEAVE!! It was cold from October - April and I am OVER IT! I would like to wear shorts, get a tan, play outside, go for family walks and have my new windows open, PLEASE!! 

Just went to the Pittsburgh Science Center w/the Mom's Group and this is fair warning for all: Under NO circumstances should you go to the Science Center on a Friday EVER!!!! It was more crowded than I have ever seen in the 2 years I have been going. There must have been at least 30 different schools there plus all the parents w/small children. It was a bit overwhelming but thank goodness for the toddler area! Juls and friends were able to roam freely w/out worrying about being trampled by the non-supervised, poorly behaved school children. 

On a more positive note, we got our family pictures taken last weekend by Tim Van Dyke a close friend of Mark's that started a photography business about 2 years ago. He and his wife do a FANTASTIC job! Like amazing!
Sam and Juls by Tim Van Dyke Christmas 2011
Juls 2nd Bday by Tim Van Dyke October 2012
Gruber Grandkids Christmas 2012
As you can see, they do a GREAT job, and here is a peek at what they did this past weekend
Gruber Girls!
I will post more once we get the CD but the teasers were spectacular! So happy to have one of the three girls!

Do you ever watch old videos of your toddler just to remind yourself that they were once cute, innocent and didn't have a snarky comeback for every request? I do! It helps me to remember that this is just a phase and they will continue to grow and change and it's a blessing to have them in our lives!

So the other day a friend came over and asked if I'd bake cookies for a party they are having this weekend. No problem, I love cookies. We had a nice visit and when she left, I thought..."mmm, cookies!" and couldn't wait til the weekend! So I pulled up this recipe b/c they are my favorite! I use half chocolate chips and half butterscotch! YUM! Probably the best cookie I have ever made! Try them!

In one month we will be at the BEACH!!! It's really exciting to think of getting away as a family for an entire week. It will be Samantha and Miriam's 2nd time at the beach, Juliana's first! We are taking Mark's sister Emily w/us and we are hoping to get out a night or two on a date! It will be a tough 7 hour drive but we are considering driving through the night so we don't hit all the beach traffic.

We have 4 birthday parties with in the next two weeks. We are so blessed to have great friends and family in town. I often take for granted the fact that I married into such a wonderful family and feel so blessed to have met such beautiful women in Pittsburgh. Birthdays are such a great reminder of how precious life is. How much can change in a year. To wonder what the year ahead will bring. I love birthdays! 

Thank you to all Military who have served and died for our country. Hopefully it will continue to be the same America you gave your life for. 

Thanks Jen for hosting once again!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

...says Juliana

I am not sure about your toddler, but mine is pretty darn funny! When she is not annoying her sisters, melting down because of who knows what, she says some pretty hysterical things! Here is a snippet of the things I caught this week and a classic Juliana moment...I am thinking of making this a regular post! 

In the Bathroom:
Juliana: I need pri-cy (privacy)
Colleen: No
J: (mocking me) I two. I not get pri-cy yet.

Playing doctor:
J: w/a stethoscope - I listen to your belly
C: my belly? Why my belly? What do you hear?
J: I hear 'gusting fings in your belly. Yuck!

J: Ton-tu in my belly. She coming out soon. Then we go to Church
C: Really?
J: Yeah, and she hungry. I have mommy milk for her. She no like bottle. My mommy milk right here...(points to correct area)
*Ton-tu is her imaginary friend that appeared around the time Miriam was born. She is often in her belly and every baby doll that isn't a Disney Princess is, Ton-tu. 

While running through the house in Samantha's flip flops
C: Take the flip flops off
J: (on the verge of crying:) I just going get my husband!
C: (trying not to bust out laughing:) You don't need flip flops to go get your husband!
...a few moments pass
J: I just going to get my other husband can't have two husbands, only one!
J: Hah, I have 3 husbands!

And a classic Juliana moment:
  Let me set the stage. Mark's brother Fred was ordained a priest this past June. He is Juliana's God-father. He has been studying in Rome for 4 years and had to go back after his ordination for a final year of study. We thought it was would be a nice gesture to travel to his last Mass in the USA before he left. Remember Juls was about 22 months old. We get to his Church, find a seat where we can see the altar clearly...and cue scene...

Praying before Mass starts
Juliana: THAT JESUS!!!
Colleen:Shhh!! Where is Jesus?
Juliana: points above and behind us - WAY UP THERE!!! HI JESUS! LOVE YOU JESUS!
*that's what I get for having her say 'HI' and 'Love you' to every Catholic Church we pass

After Communion
Colleen: whispering- Hey Juls, you see Uncle Fred handing out those pieces of bread, that's Jesus!
Juliana: NOT whispering - BREAD! BUTTER? PEANUT BUTTER?
Colleen: Shhh!!!!!!! No, not that kind of bread. No peanut butter. It's plain.
Juliana: Still NOT whispering - Plane? HELICOPTER?? PEANUT BUTTER? HELICOPTER!
Colleen: SHHHH!!! No, not that kind of plane! Stop yelling or I'll smack your butt!
Juliana: crawls as fast as she can down the ENTIRE pew yelling - NO SMACK MY BUTT MOMMY!


So close to a month ago I went to Florida to visit my two besties from college and Little Miss Miriam came with me. When I got home I was all ready to blog about it but IT WOULDN'T LET ME UPLOAD PICTURES!!! Until, yesterday! :)

So in pictures here is my trip w/the angel baby!

It was early, like 5:45 and she was all smiles! So blessed to have her!
someone fell asleep on the plane!

playing with Miss Jen on our second day!
She loved this toy! If they weren't so expensive I would buy one!
Me w/the two babes! ZuZu is so light!!! Or maybe my baby is just a chunk-a-monk!
Getting ready together! #justlikeoldtimes #partynight
Being goofy! #kissyface

Friends chatting on the beach! Wish we lived closer!

The arm rolls are out of control! Gah! Can't handle the cuteness!

This chic LOVED the ocean! She thought it was the greatest thing that it went away and came back. Over and over and over again!

She is such a good baby. She slept when she was tired no matter where we were. Like on the plane when Hulk Hogan sat next to us and his girth was unbeatable! Ever try nursing on a plane next to a man who is over 6'5" and 300 pounds? NOT EASY! Ok, so it wasn't Hulk Hogan but it could have been his cousin!
The trip was exactly what I needed. I came back feeling refreshed and renewed. I had a fantastic time with Jen and Martha and getting to meet Zuzu for the first time. I miss those girls more than I can ever explain. We pondered how the three of us can be so different but yet still be so close and the only explanation is the Holy Spirit. We all have different gifts, interests, ways of living out our lives but in the end we are strong, Catholic women, grounded in the virtue and totally in love w/the Lord. We respect each other. Love each other through thick and thin and are devoted sisters in Christ. I am so blessed to call these women my friends. Love you girls!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five Faves 2

Five Favorites, hosted at 

This picture
October 2008
 This is the one of the only pictures I have of me with my two best friends and Mark. For my birthday in 2008, Mark drove Jen and I to Alabama (a 13 hour drive) for the weekend to see Martha. It was a fantastic weekend filled w/laughter, love and good bbq! It was only a month  later that he proposed to me!!

The only way to peel!
 I saw the red peeler being used on Food Network one time to peel a kiwi and I literally said out loud, "I need that!" Seriously, I always felt like I was wasting more of the kiwi than I was eating because they are so darn hard to peel. Viola...problem solved! It is also great for mango! The green one is great for harder skin fruits and veggies and the orange one, well, I've never used it! But, it looks like it could peel the heck out of something! :)

Birthdays and new babies! With in one week last year 4 new babies were born and this week we get to celebrate their 1st Birthdays! What a wonderful gift it is to welcome a new life into the world and the watch it grow! Also, birthday parties mean cake and ice cream...two of my favorite things! (Does that mean this is 7 favorite things?)

So happy and so proud of herself

Juliana's first J
Speaking of watching kids grow, this week has been a week of milestones for my girls. Miriam is starting the "pull myself up on anything I can" phase and is VERY proud of herself, as you can tell. And Miss Juliana has started writing J's. I can not believe how fast they are growing and changing. Sometimes I want it to all stop and other days I just wish they could bathe themselves and sleep later than 6:30am!

EXPEDIT Shelving unit IKEA Finished on all sides. Can also be used as a room divider.
This bad boy
 I am pretty sure 90% of the people I know have some version of this shelf in their home. The Ikea Expedit shelving unit is AWESOME! We had one and it was great but then as they grew, so did their toys. Just bought another one, along with the fabric bins for the playroom! Haven't quiet finished organizing so I'll post that next week! :) But it's by far my favorite way to store all the toys!

Thanks for hosting Hallie

Saturday, May 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes! (vol 5)

Last weekend we took a trip over to MD to visit w/my family for Mother's Day. We didn't do anything special but it was just great to sit down and be able to chat w/the different Mommas in my family
Juli enjoying some noodles at Silver Diner w/Aunt Donna (Miriam's God-Momma)
Speaking of Miriam
Up on all fours! And rocking!
This was her mother's day present to me. She woke up from her nap and was like, boom, belly up and rocking! So proud of her! 

The best mother's day present of all is the fact that MY Momma drove back w/us and has been here all week! She leaves on Tuesday. It has been great to have her around. I am going to miss her when she leaves. Having adult conversation during the day and a able bodied person to watch the kids so I can run an errand in less than an hour is GREAT!!

It was my Dad's Birthday this past Wednesday. He would have been 71. His favorite snack was donuts and chocolate milk. So during our trip to Sam's club we went in search of donuts and you know what...NONE! So we had to settle for gigantic, delicious blue berry muffins! YUM! I think Dad would have approved! 

As I mentioned before, softball season is upon us and miss Juls thinks that softball equals swings and thankfully this week her equation was correct.
She seriously could swing ALL DAY! 
Thursday night Samantha was in her first musical - The Hundred Year Snooze - a loose interpretation of Sleeping Beauty. She did so well! 
peeking out from behind the curtain
And here is a quick video of her solo
She was one of the seven "Graces" - the fairy god mother type ladies

After we came home from the show on Thursday, my worst nightmare occurred. We discovered Samantha had lice! AHHHHHHH!!! It was awful. We didn't suspect anything but she came down from bed and complained a few times so Mark and I check her, and there it was! I am getting itchy just talking about it! I HATE BUGS! Like, REALLY HATE BUGS! Especially when they are in places that they are not supposed to in someone's hair! We turned the house upside-down and cleaned EVERYTHING! We did over 10 loads of laundry in about 15 hours and I, the in-bed-by-10pm-everynight kinda gal was up til after 1am FREAKING OUT! I was that crazy lady vacuuming at 11:30pm. She is much better after the treatment but we need to do the follow up one in a week. I pray this never happens to your kids. It was a nightmare! 

Please join Jen and all others for the 7 QTS!!!

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Present at Mass

Happy Feast of the Ascension!

Did you remember to go to Mass today? We did!! I hate to admit this b/c it was the beauty of the Mass that drew me back to the Church in college but I dread going to Mass on Sundays! It's a battle against time in the morning to get everyone fed, dressed, and out the door into the pew before Father processes down the aisle. Then it's "shush" "stand/sit still" "no" "stop it" "Juli, stop spinning in the aisle" "No, you can't go to the potty, again!" Seriously, I usually leave feeling unholier(is that a word?) than when I walked in!!

But tonight, oh tonight was glorious! Mark and I got to go to Mass ALONE! No kids! Just he and I. It was the best, most needed, most refreshing hour I have had in a really, REALLY long time!

That Friend I talked about of Mark's who stood up for me feeding Miriam watched the girls. (How is he not married? Pray that his wife comes to him soon! He's going to make a great husband and daddy!) Mark and I got out of the car and held hands (say what? who has free hands to hold) walking into Mass, picked a seat super close (no babes to worry about fussing) and knelt down and prayed. Quietly. To ourselves. It was glorious! I can not remember the last time I really meditated on the songs, readings, psalms, homily and was able to be fully present during the consecration. As I knelt there smelling the incense, feeling the sting that resides in my knee from a past surgery, listening the words the priest said, watching him lift the Eucharist in the air and knowing this is what it's all about, I fell in love with being Catholic all over again!!  It's these moments, few and far between though they are, that solidify in my heart my love for Jesus and his Church. And my calling as a wife and mother. It's these moments that recharge me and help me to get through the tough days.

Also, as I sat there, actually next to my husband w/out kids, bags, coats and 5 feet + between us, I fell in love w/him all over again. It was our faith that brought us together. We met on and prayed together from phone conversation #1! It was our faith that guided us through our courtship and it was in front of our Lord that he asked me to be his wife. Then just 7 months later, it was in front of our Lord we professed our love and fidelity to each other,  forever. Forever! And it is with this same faith that we will raise our children and hopefully have them fall as madly in love with Jesus as we are.

It was a good Mass. Thank you Jesus. I really needed that! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Five Faves!

First time linking up w/ Hallie and Grace for My Five Faves     


 . I have lots of faves and these are a few of my essentials!


1 - This is THE BEST peanut butter sold in large chain retailers! I was introduced to it about 5 years ago and seriously have never looked back!  It has 1, just ONE,ingredient - Peanuts! All extra sugar, salt, and items no one can pronounce is unnecessary! Mine has to be chunky but I get creamy for the kids. I eat it every day. No Joke.

Crockpot Chicken Chili...delicious!! Paired w/creamed corn bread! So good and so easy!
Slow Cooker Cream Cheese Chili
2- This chili has changed our lives! I found it perusing Pinterest shortly after I gave birth to #2 and was in need of easy, delicious meals I could throw in the crock pot! Win, like double win! My husband requests it at least once a week and my 9 year old and 2 year old love it too. Try it. You won't regret it! Oh and whip up some corn muffins and your life will be changed forever!


3 - Chapstick. I've loved it longer than I can remember. There is a picture of me around age 2 where I am lathering my face in it! I am told I used to eat it. That urge has passed for me but onto my 2 year old!
My Mom is a classic scent kinda gal and always has been. I've gone through Cherry phases but mostly I stick to the medicated or moisturizer kind b/c they have SPF in them. Dry lips in cold weather burn and sunburned lips in the summer hurt like the dickens!


4-My Boppy Pillow - I am a nursing Momma for the second time around and this pillow makes life SO much easier for me! Nursing a newborn is tricky business b/c they are as floppy as a rubber band and older babies are too heavy for my arm to support, especially during sleepy night time feedings!


5 - My Keurig!!! I am a coffee addict. Really it's not good but at least it's a delicious one w/minimal long term side effects! I've used my Keurig for over a year now and will never go back to a regular coffee pot. I can make one cup at a time which allows me to not waste water, coffee grinds, coffee(once it's made) and money b/c I am less likely to buy coffee out when I know I can make one fresh cup at home! Oh, and best of all, it was free from my Bro and Sis in Law. Love having a big family!

Hoping to become a regular at this b/c it's refreshing to reflect on the goods in life!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

For it's natural purpose

Spring/Summer is upon us and in this house that means watching Dad play softball. It's through the YMCA, there is minimal foul language and most are out there for a good time. Juli knows this means she gets to run around outside for a few hours and often play at a nearby park. She also gets snacks from her Aunt Ele, lots of snacks!
Being gone for a few hours also means that Miriam will need to eat...okay, no big deal. I breastfeed as most readers (all 5 of you) know but I am not all in your face about it. I am not a breastfeeding activist that will breastfeed til the kid goes to kindergarten (actually I am starting the weaning process onto formula b/c it also makes a nut job buts that's a whole other post!)  but I know the benefits of Mommy milk so I do it. The little one was getting fussy so I grabbed my cover ( - best covers out there), sat in my chair and fed my babe. I tried to be discrete and thought I did a decent job, plus I know a number of the guys on the team and they know this is how we do. I might add that my sis in law has a just turned one year old and she is still nursing him and she too is discrete.

Well, last night we were over Mark's friends' house for a visit and little Miss was getting fussy and wanted to eat. It just so happens that one of the friends is the manager of Mark's softball team and said in passing "yeah, "so and so" was asking if any Gruber women were going to be at the game on Tuesday and was wondering if they were going to be feeding their kids in public." Apparently "so and so" was not a fan of my sis in law discretely feeding our babes under-cover the other night. To our defense, Mark's friend and manager said to him "yeah they probably will. If you don't like it, don't look."

So proud of our friend for standing up for our right to feed our babes. It irritates the heck out of me that women in our society are plastered on commercials, magazines, movies and TV exposing their breasts to the world but then the moment a woman places a cover over herself to nurse her baby and use them "for their natural purpose" we are the perverted ones!

I did not grow up around anyone breastfeeding but my husband did as did this friend and I am honored to know such respectful men and educated men. This is why God gave us breasts* and I am blessed to be able to feed my babe and watch both grow and develop through the nutrients I provide for them. I hope that I can educate my kids in the benefits of nursing and the beauty of the body.

*If you read this and do not/can not nurse, please don't think I am judging. Nursing is a commitment that I chose and it is a COMMITMENT! Each and every person has the right to choose what works best for them.