Posts Filed Under Traveling

Older and Wiser

posted by Momo Fali on February 4, 2013

As I sat on the plane waiting to leave Houston and Dad 2.0 Summit, after a weekend of listening to men speak freely and without judgement about what it’s like to be a father (in a space where I thought I might feel like an interloper, but instead was welcomed freely and without judgement) I noticed a young man who was probably a little older than my daughter. He entered the plane and tossed his scruffy, One-Directionesque, side-swept hair, all brown and wavy in the style that makes teen girls swoon. I eyed his bright smile which was likely just freed from braces and wires.

A few feet from him was a man shoving his heavy, black bag into the overhead bin. He was bald, wearing wire-rimmed, round glasses that matched his belly. I guessed he was 60. He looked tired.

There were such obvious physical differences between them that I couldn’t help but wonder, despite the fact they were males, with whom I had more in common.

Want to guess where this is going?

I’m nearing my 42nd birthday so if the boy was 18 and the man was 60, I’m squarely in the older group and despite what you may think, that actually isn’t all bad. Sure, he has that belly to contend with and he probably has his fair share of aches and pains, but I’m going to go ahead and state that the elder fellow has better taste in music. Zeppelin wins. Every time. Plus, he doesn’t have to worry about doing his hair.

It was also legal for me to order a vodka and cranberry on the flight and I apparently looked just haggard enough that the flight attendant gave me a drink, plus another one, and both of them were free. She said, “I always pick someone to be nice to and you look like you need it.” Another good thing about being older is that you know insults are easier to bear when there is free alcohol involved.

Although I don’t doubt the young, wavy-haired boy has a lot to offer, he can’t possibly be sure of himself yet. He thinks he’s sure of himself, but that’s just his body trying to trick his mind. If he’s a typical teen, he doesn’t know the challenges he will face. And, there will be many.

School is hard, girls are harder, but throw in kids and a mortgage and then we’ll see if that kid doesn’t look like he could use some free liquor. Also, another benefit of age is knowing when to STOP drinking free booze. There are many times that I wouldn’t have quit at two. Go ahead and ask all the friends who’ve held my hair back.

Just because you look like you’re strong and capable it doesn’t mean you are. And, I don’t think I was even confident enough to make that statement at the age of 18. Sure, I’m capable! Do you think I’m, like, capable? What about that guy in my English class? Does he think so? Where’s my Aqua Net? I CAN’T BE CAPABLE WITHOUT BIG BANGS!

Me and that 60 year old, we may have issues, but we have the history to show we can make it through them. Either that, or we’ll die trying.

Pass the vodka.

Dance with My Father

posted by Momo Fali on January 29, 2013

Sometimes, when we are just sitting around, my mom will burst into tears and tell me what a good father my kids have. I nod. “I know, Mom. I know.” And, I do.

I think part of the reason she cries is because she had a good relationship with her father and she misses him. He’s been gone since I was a child, but she still talks about him a lot. I think there is also something to be said for the fact that my mom is 78 years old and has known a lot of people who didn’t have close relationships with their dads. My grandparent’s generation wasn’t exactly known for wearing their emotions on their sleeves.

Actually, some members of my generation aren’t known for it either. There is no denying that my husband is a curmudgeon (seriously, he won’t even deny it), but he loves his kids, does all kinds of activities with them that I probably never would, instills in them a sense of responsibility, shares his faith and his dreams with them, and even though he is one of the biggest sports fans I’ve ever known, he doesn’t blink an eye at the fact that our special needs son will never be a star athlete.

Of course, my husband gets all of his parenting skills naturally because he has a great dad. As do I. Our fathers are both funny, kind, generous and loving.

Way back in 1997 I spent an amazing August afternoon dancing with all of these men. I happened to be wearing a wedding dress and at one point or another was twirled around the dance floor by my brand-new husband, my dad, and my father-in-law.

The other night my daughter’s dance club threw an event for the parents. It was held in the same hall where my husband and I had our wedding reception, and when my groom and our daughter took to the dance floor – the same dance floor where I had danced with my dad – I was the one doing the crying.

I have been so lucky to have these dads in my life and I wish the same thing for my girl.

So far, so good.

Speaking of dads, I’ll be on a panel at the Dad 2.0 Summit in Houston this weekend where some of the best parents in social media will be gathering to declare, “Parenting isn’t just for moms, and neither is blogging!” I just made that quote up, but I’m pretty sure they’ll want to to put it on a bumper sticker.

Florida Family Vacation – What to do in Key West

posted by Momo Fali on January 6, 2013

Since we returned from our vacation I have been asked a lot of questions about Key West. As people begin to plan their spring break getaways, I thought I’d share my favorite things about this southernmost city and some tips to get you started to having a whole lot of fun if you go.

First and foremost, know someone on the inside. We were fortunate to have Toni as our personal concierge, and who happens to be a Key West celebrity. She was born there, practically raised in her father’s saloon (see #1 under Must Do Activities), and knows anything and everything about the town. She not only hand-picked family-friendly activities for us, she emailed me an itinerary that was spot-on. I kind of want her to organize my life.

Why you should visit:

1. You can’t get anywhere in the continental United States that is farther south, which means it’s WARM. My kids went swimming every day, we wore shorts, and I even got a tan. I’m quite the novelty in Ohio right now.

2. Rich history abounds and I’m not just talking about Hemingway. The island’s early inhabitants were a resourceful lot of shipwreckers who made money by salvaging. The Shipwreck Museum was one of my son’s favorite places to visit.

3. Culture, diversity, and Cuban food. Need I say more?

4. It’s walkable. We stayed on the “quiet” side of the island and walked to the other end (Old Town) almost every day. Along the route there were stores, restaurants, art galleries (tip: If you have children with you, keep them out of the t-shirt shops) and once we got to Old Town there were museums, the Key West Aquarium, and more activities than a family of four can tackle on a five day trip.

From arrow to arrow, it was 1.4 miles.

Must do activities:

1. Have a drink at Captain Tony’s Saloon – If you want a real Key West history lesson, step inside this colorful landmark and belly up with the locals. This is where Hemingway spent many evenings and Jimmy Buffet got his start (and is the bar he immortalized in “Last Mango in Paris.”

2. Parasailing – The first time I went parasailing in the Bahamas the boat pulled us up in the air from a platform that was docked about 300 yards off the beach. We had to LAND on the platform too. All I could think about the entire time (other than the lightning storm…not kidding) was about how I was going to have to stick the landing or end up in the Atlantic Ocean trapped under a parachute. The Key West experience was a MUCH better one. They sent us up from the boat and reeled us back in. It was a breeze. Plus, I got to go up in a tandem harness with my son. It was an unbelievable experience and I got to share it with my kid. Bonus.

My daughter and husband going UP.

3. Jet Skiing – SO MUCH FUN. The end.

4. Trolley Tour – You can take a trip all the way around the island, get a history lesson, check out the architecture, and you have an open-air ride in the saltwater breeze.

5. Drink a Goombay Smash at Hog’s Breath Saloon – This was Melisa’s idea and ohmygoodness does she make good suggestions. You’ll be happy you have a trolley ride home afterward, too. Yum.

6. The Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square – I don’t know how to describe this, but it’s a must-do. It’s kind of like a circus and you walk around from act to act to see the jugglers, acrobats, and sword swallowers then watch the sun go down. This was a fitting end to a day that started with a Goombay Smash before noon.

7. Visit the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States – Just to say you did.

Tips:

1. Don’t feed the roosters or the pigeons. Or the herons.

2. Go to the nearest drug store or supermarket to pick up snacks. There isn’t a lot of inexpensive food in Key West and having a bag of cashews will go a long way to tiding everyone over.

3. Wear sunscreen. Even if you think you don’t need any.

4. Carry hand sanitizer. The public restrooms we used at Mallory Square had no soap dispensers. *shudder*

5. Go off the beaten path. We attended mass at The Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea which was beautiful, serene, welcoming, and not at all a tourist destination. We walked through the gardens and visited the grotto where people light candles and pray before hurricanes. Also, they gave us coffee and doughnuts. So, there’s that.

6. Know ahead of time that there aren’t a lot of beaches. Key West is a big rock and though you can find sandy spots, not every hotel has one. If it’s important to you, do your searching.

7.¬†From what we’ve been told, you shouldn’t visit Key West with children around Halloween; unless your kids like huge crowds who mostly wear body paint.

8. Pack your flip-flops and have a blast!

Momo Moments 2012

posted by Momo Fali on December 31, 2012

For the last two years, I have done year-end recaps. I like traditions, so here you go.

January – It took me 11 days into the new year before I got my mind right.

February – St. Valentine’s Day Catholic Cliff Notes taught my readers so much. And by so much, I mean nothing at all.

March – My little boy got to meet his favorite big star when Ree came to town.

April – I came out of the vegan closet then I went to the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in Dayton and left with cheeks that were cramped and sore from laughing so much. We also said goodbye to our sweet dog, Blue and my husband fixed the microwave.

May – I responded to the numerous people who ask me for blogging advice. It’s cute how they think I know what I’m doing! And, I can’t forget the milestone my son hit.

June – I traveled to Seattle for BlogHer Food and I looked back at the days when my kids loved each other.

July – Things were exposed. I’ll leave it at that.

August – I got addicted to a new app and took a trip to NYC for BlogHer ’12.

September – We found out what my son would say if his dad died.

October – I rambled, and I reflected.

November – I attempted to blog every day, but failed. We lost my cousin and that was really the only thing that mattered.

December – I ended the year like I started it, by getting my mind right.

Bring it, 2013. I’m ready for you.