An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Monday, July 21, 2014

Family Fanatics: It's all in the Family

We are a family of boys.

When our three sons gather with their cousins on my husband's side of the family, there are eight boys and one girl; on my side of the family, there are nine boys and one girl. And all these boys, ranging from ages 14 months to 25 years, means that everything – and I do mean everything – turns into a friendly competition: flashlight tag, Go Fish, backyard football, board games, video games, bocce, basketball, and even (no joke) Easter egg hunts. In our family, poker faces and bluffing are an art form, as are challenges, dares, and double dog dares.

With so many males in the family, almost every sport known to mankind is represented: my husband loves golf, a brother-in-law follows NASCAR, one son is all about basketball, one nephew runs cross country, and another nephew turns everything (wooden spoons, 12-inch rulers) into a light saber in his ongoing quest to become a Jedi Knight. We're a family full of fanatics, which is why I wanted to share this story as part of the Family Fanatics campaign. If you don't know Fanatics, head over to their site where you can find baseball hats from every major league team and more! I even found some Team Italy tube socks, which Santa may use as stocking stuffers this year.

Then, every fall the football shenanigans begin. College football is especially exciting with a Georgia Bulldog, a Clemson Tiger, a South Carolina Gamecock, a UVA Cavalier, a Michigan State Spartan, and a Nittany Lion all claiming their team is the best, but pro football is equally represented when the boys decorate the fireplace mantel in the family room with miniature NFL helmets during the playoffs. Even our Thanksgiving family football games are memorable – you know, the kind of football which includes children, adults, in-laws, and a sister who just announced her pregnancy (another boy); the kind of football in which everyone is just plain goofy; the kind of football that earned me the nickname Fumble-ina; and the kind of football where a four-year-old gets the ball, and an uncle on the opposing team carries him (the boy AND the ball) to the end zone for a touchdown (he called it an interception, the rest of us called it a kidnapping).

Truthfully, though, the assortment of sports balls, Tonka trucks, and size-14 sneakers are beautiful reminders that our friendly, fanatical competition is really all about family. There is something special about watching Nonno playing Bocce with five grandchildren under the age of seven, or cousins laughing during a marathon Monopoly game, or an uncle landing the biggest belly flop, or my husband taking our sons to a bowl game, or everyone yelling at the FIFA World Cup match on television.

This is our family at its best … boys and all.
My husband, his father, and our oldest son.

Our middle son lives and breathes basketball.

Introducing our youngest son to Penn State's Nittany Lion.
Supporting our local Class A baseball team.
With just some the older cousins, getting ready for a game of flashlight tag.

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