Posts Filed Under Traveling

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.

On Not Wasting Time

posted by Momo Fali on December 18, 2012

It’s been eight days since I posted here. A lot can happen in eight days. A lot can happen in an instant.

Almost 10 months ago we had a vacation planned that was intended to be more of a celebration of life than it was rest and relaxation. That trip was canceled at the last minute because my son got sick; months worth of planning changed in a matter of hours.

Last month, when my cousin fell ill and passed away, we were determined to finish what we had started. Despite my anxiety and complete lack of risk-taking behavior *holds Zoloft tightly in hand*, I felt like it was never more important to get my kids on a plane and head off to do things they, and I, have never done.

When I heard the news of the Sandy Hook tragedy, my family and I were halfway through a visit to Key West. One minute I was sharing photos of tropical drinks on Facebook and the next I was crying in the middle of a restaurant. I didn’t want to scare my kids too badly, so I waited until they were asleep before I got on my phone and scrolled through the news. That’s when I found out that fellow blogger, Victoria, lost her nephew in this senseless act of violence.

Victoria, me and Maria in happy times. Photo by Mishelle Lane Photography.

I had tried to keep the pain at bay by distancing myself from the news, but it was no longer possible to do so. I knew someone who was directly impacted. I was connected. As my children slept, I hugged them, kissed them, and prayed for the parents who couldn’t do such things anymore. I cried for Victoria and for her family.

I didn’t watch the news on Saturday or Sunday. Instead, we did what we originally intended to do – we celebrated. When I wasn’t holding my kids tight, burying my nose into their saltwater-scented hair, and being thankful to have them near, I was watching them live the heck out of life. I have another entire post on the generosity that made all of this possible. For now, just know that my heart hurts from the goodness of it all.

We went parasailing.

This is two of us waaaaay out there. Tandem parasailing – www.keywestsebago.com

Then, while my husband and daughter stayed with the Sebago crew and went snorkeling, my son and I rode six miles out to sea on Fury’s glass bottom boat to view the world’s third largest coral reef.

This was right before I turned around and yelled, “I’m the Queen of the World!”

Glass Bottom Boat – www.furycat.com

And if I had a waterproof camera I would show you the pictures of us on Barefoot Billy’s jet-skis in the Atlantic Ocean. This is where my anxiety took a back seat to pure enjoyment of life. I had so much fun jumping over waves that my daughter was holding tight to my waist yelling, “Mom! You’re CRAZY!” It was such an amazing moment that I couldn’t tell if my face was moistened by the ocean mist or my tears; maybe it was a little of both.

But, it didn’t end there. We went on a nighttime scavenger hunt, collected seashells and splashed around in the pool.

We fed sharks, we played chess, we bellied up to a few bars and we watched the sun set.

Feeding sharks at www.keywestaquarium.com

Ordering a Roy Rogers at the Hog’s Breath Saloon

I learned that it’s okay to take risks, that if your teen daughter is really happy she might even hold your hand, and more than anything I learned to never, ever take my children for granted again.