When I was in Rome, Pino would pick me up on the weekends and take me to their house to spend time with him and his two kids who are roughly my age, Marco and Francesco. Pino and Rosanna live in Tuscany, in a town called Poggibonsi (seriously, that's what it's called -- I love it!) near Siena. They also have a beautiful farm house near a medieval city called San Gimignano. (Just typing that makes me wonder why the hell I live here and not in Italy. Hmm.) Since they have always been so good to me, I want to make sure they have a wonderful trip here.
Saturday, my grandma's entire family put together a brunch to welcome the Italians to America. Every person I am related to on my grandmother's side of the family was there. It was quite a scene.
Here is the room where the brunch took place, and my Uncle Anthony making a toast.
Josh's family and mine are so different in many ways. His quiet and polite Norwegian family is no match for my loud and boisterous Italian family. Most of the time, I think he loves them, but just for fun, I asked him to give me a I-have-to-hang-out-with-my-in-laws pose for the camera.
Ajax, Bug, and my cousin Leland (who is a total brain and just plain awesome)
Josh, my mom, and my cousins Hailey & Kelsey (you may recognize them as the flower girls in my wedding or the little devils who conned me into buying them Juicy Couture at the Camarillo Outlets).
Hailey, Mom, and Kelsey. It is so crazy to me that Hailey is a teenager now.
The guests of honor: Pino and Rosanna.
The head table with my grandma, her siblings, and the Italians.
The Italians wanted one group photo. Have you ever tried to assemble 50 tipsy, talkative Italians into a group photo? It took at least 15 minutes. Everyone talking, drinking, laughing, shouting to stand in 10 different places ...
But, finally, we managed. That is one, good-looking group!
My immediate family.
I love this picture of my Grandma and Josh.
My younger cousins decided that, since the camera was out, it was time to do a photo shoot. So, they dragged me into the hallway, despite my protests, and decided to show me their posing. Tyra would be proud of them, I think.
My grandparents are first generation here in the U.S. and never had a lot of money. My great-grandpa was a barber, and my grandma says they used to count quarters every Sunday night (a haircut was 25 cents) before paying the bills. She started working full-time at a department store after school at the age of 12, and she bought my great-grandparents their first set of end tables and their first TV.
Understandably, they are pretty much the thriftiest (and most generous) people you could ever meet. But, despite their improved financial situation, old habits die hard. And, it can be funny and endearing. For example, whenever we eat out, they usually get a to-go box and box up every remaining morsel of food, including every bread roll and the contents of the chip basket (I have even witnessed them ask for containers for sauce and salsa).
So, whereas most families probably eat at the banquet and go home, my family makes sure the leftovers are packaged up. Every single morsel.