Monday, 8 January 2018

This is my sister Renee...she is MORE! (New Years in KS)

New Years in Kansas is always a lot of fun!  The boys get to spend time with their cousins and we usually get a little snow so they are really happy about that.  This year was pretty much the same as always but Alicia & Chloe decided to join us which made it even more fun.  The 2 got into town on Saturday so they were just in time to help us get prepared for the New Years Eve party.  It has been about 3 years since we last saw Alicia and once we realized we were moving to Singapore we knew that it would be more difficult to see her there so it was a great opportunity for a visit...Alicia of course was all over it!

The first event of the trip was the welcome drinks and dinner at TT's house.  We got to meet Roberts new girlfriend Ashley which was nice then hung out playing spades and drinking the rest of the evening.  The funniest thing ever was that when Robert introduced me to Ashley and he says that "This is my sister Renee...she is MORE!"  I was so shocked and humored by the comment it was so unexpected.  I had to ask him where that came from and he said that when he was telling Ashley about us he was explaining TT and then told her about me and the best description of me was that I was "MORE"...I can't be mad at him but it was shocking for sure.  Anyway, Mike and I really only get to play spades when we come to Kansas so we were excited to play a game against the new couple because Ashley is a new spades player.  It was a fun game and of course Mike and I had to give them crap about being new at the game and that we have such a good track record for spades and blah blah blah.  After a tight game and 2 last minute hail marys we came out on top!!!!  It was a good time!!!!!

Saturday was our annual paintball event which we have been doing for the past 2 New Years.  This year since New Years is on a Monday it was going to be easier to go to paintball over the weekend while every one was in town.  The first place that we went to was the best so far but was like 1F so no one wanted to be outside so we decided to go back to the place we ended up at last year.  Of course the place was packed because it is in a cave and it was a Saturday afternoon but TT made a reservation for us so we didn't have to worry to much.  The problem with this place is that it is way too busy!!!  And they have fields for rental users and for open play but last year we seemed to have ended up in a field with both rental and open play because some of the people on that field had semi automatic paintball guns which was killer.  Mike nearly lost his ankle to a paintball because those guns were so precise and fast compared to our crappy rentals and each game was so fast which really sucked.  We did not have as much fun as the previous year but it was still fun.  So this year we were trying to figure out if we would do the rental field or go to a private field which is more expensive.  At first we were  not going to do private but after seeing all the people TT was not having it.  Mike didn't even want to entertain the idea of participating there so that was sad but since we got a private field it made it that much better for all of us.  We had a great time!  At one point they were trying to join us up with the rental fields because there were so many people on the fields that they had to expand the fields into our field which was not ok.  We finally got it all sorted and they even gave us a little more time on the field so that made up for it for sure.  This will definitely continue to be the new year tradition but this place is out...we have to either go back to the other place or find another one.  Either way we really look forward to it.

It is funny because Alicia is not really a friend she is more like family so even though she was flying in the same day of our paintball morning we still had a few other things to do before going home so we did our errands first and Alicia got to the house before we arrived.  She spent the first 30min trying to convince Lino & Shaun that she knew them and that they spent time with her but they didn't believe her so she had to pull out old photos to show them.  I'm not sure if they believed her or not but the evidence was there for sure.  Shaun didn't seem to care if she knew us or not he just went up to her and gave her a big hug like he knew her so that made her feel good.  That evening Chloe got a little introduction into black hair styling from one of Pierre's daughters.  The poor girl was dying because she doesn't do a whole lot with her hair so she is a little sensitive but it was also good because she needs to know what to do with her hair.  She was nervous about it at first but after all the tears she was happy with the end result.  Christina was a trooper to to stick with it and give her a nice deep conditioning.  It's funny because the last time Chloe was in Texas the same thing happened.  I do feel a little bad for her but not really because she needs to know how to do her hair.  We are a family so whatever needs to be done we do.

On Sunday we were suppose to have an early  New Years Eve workout with Uncle Frederick but that turned out to be an afternoon workout.  I was looking forward to it but not looking forward to working out in the freezing KS cold!!!!  Fredrick has a really sick idea of workout because he made his to old sister go run outside in the 2F weather as part of our warm-up to our workout!  It ended up being a good workout but no one liked the way it started out and we even got talked about by the family for going out in the cold...anything for family!

The rest of the day we spent the day getting ready for New for food and drinks and trying to decide what to eat for the evening.  Our New Years Eve menu is always way to much food and some sort of NYE drink and this years drink ended up being Long Island Ice Teas.  This is an oldie but goodie for us but also a very dangerous drink because it is so strong.  We made jello shots the day before so we had those but the kids wanted jello too so we made some for them too.  The nice thing about being in the freezing cold of KC is that we always have an outside refrigerator that we can use to keep stuff cool or to freeze things if needed.  Oh and poor Pierre was nice enough to brave the weather to get the grill going so that we could have chicken poppers and wings!  It was a massive feast of finger foods...enough food for 30 people even though there was only 15 of us planning to be there.  The kids were having a great time together which was nice.  Chloe fit right in to the mix and it was a happy little family.  Lino & Shaun are the only boys and Lino sometimes has problems mixing with a big group because he wants his own way and doesn't really get the importance of sharing and letting other people make decisions about stuff so he was having a little more of a hard time but still enjoying the cousins.  Shaun of course was in heaven with all of his cousins and was for the most part getting a long pretty well.  The dynamics between the kids is always funny for us...if Lino & Shaun are here with only one of the cousins then they get along fine but if 2 of the cousins are here too (both girls) then the boys are automatically out of the loop.  I always try to help them to include each other but I know how that feels to be so excited to see my cousin that the other cousins don't matter.  Me & my cousin Jennifer use to be like that every summer we went to Gary to visit GG.  We are still like that now and it is only because we have a much bigger family with our own family that stops us from going off into a corner and having our own little party away from everyone else.  So I get it and I know there is no way to stop it so I only try to manage it as much as possible.  Shaun seems to not mind the slight favoritism that Jaziya and Robin have for either other but Lino doesn't like it AT ALL.  There is only so much you can do for poor Lino...he will figure it out eventually.  Oh I forgot to say that Lino did get a chance to have his first video call with his friend from Ireland so that made him happy.  I think his friend was more excited to talk to him than Lino was because Lino was enthrolled with the TV but he did seem happy that someone was calling to talk to him specifically and it was his friend from school so that was cool.  Lino is really hard to read these days so I never know what to think about his actions...I just have to make the best call that I can.

Anyway...New Years Eve in Kansas means Christmas for the Brittons!  We usually have a ton of gifts for the kids but this year wasn't too bad...thankfully!  The funny thing is that Robert & Frederick were wrapping gifts for their girls at the last minute so the poor kids were dying to open the gifts and we had to keep stalling to make sure they had enough time to get everything wrapped.  So finally we got it and the kids had a great Christmas.  I'm happy the kids are not to particular about their gifts...they seem to be just happy to be with everyone and to have the few gifts and to play with their is a simple thing but so amazing because the innocence of it all goes way to quickly.  GG got a bunch of santa hats and had the kids put them on before opening the presents so that made a nice picture!  After that it was all about opening the gifts and drinking!!!!!

The rest of the night was drinking and eating.  We started out civilized and of course it got crazy...ther is not much to speak 1000 words!  We had a great New least the part that I can remember!  I guess this is part of the reason I was given the description of "More"!  We had a ton of Long Island Ice Tea's, played pictionary, lost then a few rounds of spoons which is always dangerous and then we played one round of Alicia's new game called "Shit Happens" which was way more difficult than it should have been but still a lot of fun... then a lot more we love New Years!!!!

The rest of the time in KC was pretty relaxed.  People were recovering from hangovers and most went back to work.  On Tuesday we spent the day with Alica and Chloe before Chloe had to head back to Seattle for school.  We went to Jack Stack for lunch which was amazingly good then spent like 4 hours at the MCI airport because the airport was packed and it was a complete disaster because the airport was so full and the attendants were so so worthless it was a horrible experience for poor Chloe.  She was so nervous to fly by her self and and to leave Aunt Aunts it was very sad.  I am such a horrible person that I slept through the whole thing!!!   When I finally woke up Chloe was off on her plane and Aunt Aunts was stressed about the MCI airport security process.  Hahaha... I can't complain because the MCI airport is an absolute disaster but even at its worst it is much better than most of the regular airports because the check-in and security clearance is in about 20ft difference from each other so you can not complain to much about that.  But somehow Alicia spent about 1.5hours trying to get poor Chloe checked in which is ridiculous!!!!!!  Eventually it all worked out and we got Chloe checked in and we made it back to the house for our last night together.  Alicia got a really cool game for Shauny got a game called Poopy Head and he was dying to play it.  So even though Pierre was sick we were able to convince him to  participate and even tough the instructions were super hard for a 4yr old we figured it out and  had a great evening playing ' Poopy Head'!   Lino & Pierre ended up being the sore looser in the game with the most poop on their heads!!!!  I love this game!!!  I can't wait to play it again when we get to Singapore!

The rest of the time in KC was about drinking and hanging out! We went to KC break out place with the Doris Clan plus the significant others at the breakout KC location and we had a blast!!!!!!!!  We did the escape room for TT's birthday last year and this year Mike signed us up for the save the world room!  What a difference!!!  Either way it was a ton of  fun!  With a bigger group it made such a huge difference.  We eventually broke out and only needed 3 clues which for us was pretty good!  I think we will be back next hear for sure.  This place different from the p;ace that we took TT last year but close enough to the same area that that it made seance.  Either way I think we will be back next year for sure since we were able to break our 3 clues and time still remaining on the clock!!!!! It was a true group effort!  After breakout we went for dinner and thought that would be the end of the night but it normally isn't when you are dealing with "More" so we ended up at the karaoke bar singing like fools.  That was a lot of fun too!!  There are some great performers in this family that is for sure and we all love to have a good time so that is great.

Oh did I mention that Frederick's car died on New Years Eve so that meant that Mike and I had to spend several hours looking at cars on-line and at the dealer test driving them to see if they would work for him.  This is not how i planned to spend my new years eve but such is the job of a big sister........

So between Wednesday looking at cars, and Thursday's auction, we spend the last 2 days looking at cars for Shredder.  It is crazy the amount of cars that are available for his price range. BUT you have to keep in mind the price range which changes everything, so we agreed to help him find a car, but its not so easy because of the price and quality your looking for.  We even asked Robert if he was interested in upgrading his car, but, he said he was not interested because his car was good enough for the moment.  That makes me so happy to hear that my brother is trying to prepare for the inevitable future.  Which leaves us with baby boy who needs everybody's help...poor baby.  Anyway, its been a good time in KC the boys have had a blast and we my BFF's sold the car in Ireland so its happy days for all of us.  Oh, and poor Pierre has been sick the whole time we have been here the poor boy.

Happy New Years!!!!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Christmas in Newwww Yorrrrrrk and Interviews with the Boys

Well the first part of the move is done.  We have said our "see you laters" and have made it to New York for Christmas.  This is always a great time of year because we get to see all of our family and we are all together.  It has been our tradition for the past 12 years to spend Christmas in NY and it was important to us that we go to the states for the holiday's before our move to Singapore.  This year we were able to fly into JFK which is handy for Nini & PopPop and great for us because we had a tone of stuff with us and needed 2 cars to pick us up.  Normally we only bring one big bag with 2 or 3 bags inside and the smallest bag is the only one with clothes...of course this time all of our 4 bags where filled with crap!!!  To make matters worse when we finally got our bags from baggage claim the 3 car seats that we had didn't make the London flight.  Mike went to go and get that all sorted out but it was taking so long that I headed back to the house with Nini while the boys waited for replacement seats and stuff.  It took the guys forever to get the seats situated but eventually they made it to the house too.  The boys didn't sleep a wink on the plane so as soon as they got into the car they were out...not good for us but what can you do.  

Over the next few days we did our normal routine with a few modifications.  We always watch a bunch of Christmas movies like The Grinch, Christmas with the Kranks, Frosty the Snowman, Charlie Brown Christmas, National Lampoons Christmas and The Godfather.  Every year the boys seems to be more and more interested in the movies and this year was the first were we watched most of them together and the boys too.  It seem simple but it is nice.  The joke that we have is that I am the Grinch (and I have 2 Grinch PJ's to go with it) because I was never really that excited about Christmas and I didn't recite all the lines from the movies like Mike and crew but over the years they have finally broken me down and now I can recite a few lines myself...not as many as they can but enough that I don't stick out like a sore thumb.  The funny part is that now Home Alone has come into the mix for our Christmas movie tradition and Lino is obsessed with it.  Last year he discovered it and whenever it is on he has to watch it.  He loves the movie so much that now that since last Christmas he stopped eating pizza with pepperoni because Kevin demanded to have plain pizza only.  I new that Lino changed his mind about pepperoni pizza but I didn't think to much about was Mike that told me the connection between Lino's sudden refusal to eat pepperoni pizza and his new found love for Home Alone.  Anyway, it all made sense and Lino joined the crew in quoting the movie...classic.   In addition we always play some games and this year Shaun actually played a few rounds without being a sore looser which was a nice surprise..he even won a round of Sorry so now we call him the Sorry Champion of the World!  He was so excited about winning too it was so nice.  

This year we decided to take a trip down to the city to see the tree before our normal Christmas Eve trip.  PopPop went with us and the boys and we had a great time.  The boys love riding on the train and I am not sure if they really appreciate the tree but they like all the little things that go with seeing the tree like getting pretzels (from Auntie Annies because I love them and can't smell them without getting them), seeing all the Christmas decorations in the department store windows, seeing the ice skaters in Rockafella Center and going to the Lego Store.   It was a great day out.  The weather wasn't too bad so no one was frozen at the end of it.  The boys loved the Lego store and even though we had to wait to get in they were willing to wait in order to go.  We are so bad that we didn't even let them buy anything but they still enjoyed being in there.  We were a little surprised at how small the store was but it didn't seem to bother them to much.  Oh the memories.

We had to take our traditional picture in front of the tree but someone photo bombed us!!!

After the tree we went to have coffee at Ferrara's.  The funny story about this place is this was one of the first places that Mike took me to when he showed me around NYC.  It is a very traditional Italian bakery that has been around for a very long time.  Mike took me here to impress me (I think) and ordered me a cappuccino which was absolutely awful!!! is worth noting that the first time I was here I wasn't really a big coffee drinker so it was just to much to soon.  After almost a decade of drinking coffee with Mike (who is a huge coffee drinker) I finally have come to appreciate a nice strong cup of Ferrara's coffee!  Oh, I forgot that first visit there we met up with PopPop and he got an Italian Cheesecake and I wasn't sure if I wanted to try it or not but before I could decide to try it he finished it...PopPop loves his cheesecake and after I finally tried it I decided that I don't really like Italian Cheesecake.  So it was nice to bring the boys there for their first experience...even though it wasn't coffee that they were trying but the pastries instead which is still a bit of challenge for them.  They were excited to get their selection plate but at the end they really only liked the cannoli's which is to be expected.  After all of my attempts at the various pastries my favorite one is still the sfogliatella.  Great memories!

More games at the house...shoots and ladders.  It was a first for me and the boys and we actually had a great time playing.

Christmas Eve at Carmine's!  This is one of the things Mike & I really look forward to is having Christmas Eve dinner at Carmines.  This is one of my favoirte restaurants ever and it probably isn't even the best food ever but the special combination of the atmosphere, food and being in city is just so amazing for me.  The boys are starting to get the same feeling too which is great.  They do not appreciate the food as much as we do but they are getting there.  We usually get garlic bread, garlic & oil pasta, shrimp parm and some chicken dish.  At the end of the night on the car ride home the car is filled with all of our stinky garlicy farts...that is what the Christmas Eve tradition is all about ...Charlie Brown!

Merry Christmas!!!!!  Even with the boys staying up late Christmas Eve they were up at 7\:20 ready to open gifts!!!!  We told 'Santa' that it would be really mean to give the boys to many gifts seeing as though we were in the process of moving we didn't need any more crap to cart around!!!!  I think Santa the boys had a great yet modest Christmas.  They got these really cool Christmas bags with their names on thoughtful and handy.  The boys had such a great SeaPatrol morning!!!  The funny part of the morning is that at some point Lino realized that Shaun had a bigger toy than he did so he came up with some crazy deal that Shaun ended up giving up all of his SeaPatrol toys to Lino in exchange for all of Lino's hot wheel cars.  I am pretty sure that Shaun lost out on the deal but he didn't seem to mind.  We were trying to decide if we should intervene in the situation but decided not to.  Instead we just gave Lino a lot of little hints that his deal with Shaun wasn't very fair...he either didn't get the hint or didn't care.  Either way he kept all of the SeaPartol toys for most of the day.  Mommy...napped while everyone else got ready for dinner.  Nini changed up the menu from previous years...this year was more of a traditional Turkey dinner which was good.  Mike and I are trying to convince Nini to let us take over cooking Christmas dinner but she isn't convinced yet...I guess we will have to keep working on her.  Paula & Billy came over to have Christmas dinner with us which is always good fun.  We opened up PopPop's homemade wine and had a great evening.

Christmas with 4 generations of Cutaia men!!!  We are so lucky to be able to spend Christmas with Pepa. 


PopPop made about 30 jugs of wine this year and it came out excellent!!!!  The first year that I had his wine I ended up under the table in the kitchen passed out drunk!  This was my first visit to NY and oh what an impression I left.  It all seemed to work out anyway...Maria of course loved me and even washed my throw-up clothes!  Oh the memories of dad's wine.  I have finally learned to handle it better so this year we went for it but no one ended up under the table so that was a success!

The last few days in NY were just relaxing and filling up on bacon egg and cheese  bagels (my favorite and now the boys enjoy them just as much too).  Mike and I got a date night as a Christmas gift and went to one of Bobby Flay's restaurants in the city and had a nice freezing cold evening out.  Even though there is no snow it is so cold in the city!!!  The day before we left the boys, Mike and PopPop had a nice bowling outing.  The boys had to beg PopPop to go with him on his weekly bowling outing with his buddies.  The boys really enjoy bowling and I think as they get bigger or even now Mike might make this a regular boys outing.  Its nice for me because I was able to have a little time to work on my blog ;-)  Apparently Lino did pretty good because he beat one of the guys who was out bowling with them so he was super excited about that.  That evening we went to visit one of Mike's high school friends which we go to see every year.  It is always a nice evening to catch up with Mitch and Lauren and their kids.  The boys pretty much play with anyone and they love playing with all of the new toys so it works out.  It was funny because we only see them once a year and when we pulled up to the house Lino was like "I remember them...this is the house!"  Crazy the things the kids can remember.  Before leaving Shaun had to leave a little piece of himself poor Nini is sick and most likely Shaun was the walking infection that caused it.  All in all a great trip!  Nini & PopPop are in great spirits and good health and we got to spend our first Christmas trip in NY with PopPop at home with us the whole time...its the little things that make a difference.   

Interviews with the boys...while we had a little downtime and before the memories fade I wanted to capture some of their thoughts and experiences about Ireland. 

Favorite thing about Ireland? My friends (only after further prying did he elaborate more) & the winter holidays.
Best thing to eat in Ireland? Candy!!!! Gum drops
Favorite place? I don't know
Favorite vacation? Morocco & Spain
Why? Morocco because of that tea...whats it called? Me: Moroccan Tea; Yeah, Moroccan Tea!!!  And Spain because Cesar, Miguel & Silvia live there.
What will you miss the most about Ireland? My friends
What won't you miss about Ireland? The rain (as he gives me a huge eye roll)
What do you want to be when you grow up? Hard question...I don't know yet.  Choice between fireman, police, construction worker and conductor of train and pilot of an airplane.  Most definitely one choice has to be ambulance (EMT).
Why? ????
Do you want to get married one day? Yes
Who? Guess... Me: Who?? Lino: Hami!  I shouldn't be telling you because Hami and me said not to tell anyone.
Who are your best friends at school? Paddy, Jamie Vaughn, Cian, Nedus, Killian, Ashling Ryan & Ashling Lynch and Patrick.
What is your favorite sport to play? Swimming
What is your favorite sports team? Jets, KC, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Cork City Football, Madrid (he forgot)
Are you excited to go to Singapore? No!!!!
Why? Because I'm leaving my friends 
What are you looking forward to going to Singapore? Going to a new aquarium, seeing a fire/police station and construction and ambulance station
What do you want to drive when you grow up? A monster truck

Favorite thing about Ireland? Playing with my friends
Best thing to eat in Ireland? Falafals!!  (the truth is after our trip to Berlin and having the best falafals ever he is obsessed with them and even request them when its his turn to pick lunch/dinner)
Favorite place? Coffee shop (this is our local coffee shop in Glanmire that has a little play area...he loves going there)
Favorite vacation? New York, New York, New York (as he proceeds to sing the song!) Then after some reminding he said it was the sleeping train in Norway.
Why? Because it was so cool
What will you miss the most about Ireland? Wendy and my friends
What won't you miss about Ireland? George, Me: Who is that? Shaun: He is at my rugby
What do you want to be when you grow up? A police man, fireman, construction man and an ambulance man (EMT)
Why? Because
Do you want to get married one day? Yes
Who? Wendy (this is his girlfriend)
Who are your best friends at school? Wendy and Eva
What is your favorite sport to play? Skiing in Iceland (we never went skiing in Iceland but I'm guessing he is talking about when we went up on the glacier and they got to play with all the snow)
What is is your favorite sports team? Barcelona 
Are you excited to go to Singapore? Yes!!!!
Why? Because its the coolest place I've never went (he always says never went instead of saying ever been...too funny)
What are you looking forward to going to Singapore? Playing in the swimming pool and going fast in the swimming pool
What do you want to drive when you grow up? No answer because he lost interest in this line of questioning after the first 2 questions.

Off to Kansas we go...