Over The Top Mommy

Month: May 2015

McFarland USA on Disney Blu-ray®, Disney Movies Anywhere, and Digital HD June 2! (I’m Having a Giveaway!)


Are you ready to discover your inner champion? McFarland USA is coming out June 2 on Disney Blu-ray, Disney Movies Anywhere, and Digital HD. If you didn’t have the chance to see this feel-good film in theaters, it’s not a movie you want to miss. Soon you’ll be able to watch it at home!

Here’s a synopsis of the film:

In the tradition of Disney sports movies comes “McFarland, USA” based on a true story of underdogs triumphing over tremendous obstacles. This heartwarming drama follows novice runners who strive to build a cross-country team under Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) in their predominantly Latino high school. Everyone has a lot to learn about each other, but when Coach realizes the boys’ exceptional running ability, things change. Beyond their talent, it’s the power of family, commitment to each other and work ethic that transform them into champions — helping them achieve their own American dream.

Now watch the official trailer:


Look at this simple, yummy recipe to make authentic corn tamales. Why not spend a night in with your friends or family, make some tamales and watch McFarland USA on your TV or even on your electronic device? Sounds fun to me! And I LOVE tamales!

easy-tamale-recipeI’m also giving away 1 gift card to one of my lucky readers which will be good for a download of McFarland USA on your own device. First you’ll just download a Disney App and then the movie will be downloaded to your device To enter, just leave a comment below telling me if you’ve seen McFarland USA yet or not? (Giveaway will end at 11:50 p.m. on June 9 and I’ll choose a random winner on June 10th. Must be 18 years or older and a resident of the US to enter.)

Good luck everyone! Now go leave a comment so you can be entered to win!

Follow McFarland USA on Facebook & Google+.

Open a 529 College Savings Plan For Your Child on ScholarShare’s National 529 Day! (5/29) If You Start It, They’ll Match It!

The other day, my daughter asked if we could go to the park “just for 5 minutes“? I had a ton of things to do and I almost immediately responded with a “not right now“. Then I stopped and thought about something…If she asks to go to the park, I should say “yes” because for all I know, it could be the last time she’ll ask. (*insert lump in throat).

they-grow-up-so-quicklyShe’s not getting any smaller and just turned 10! How did that happen? It seems like yesterday I was just rocking her to sleep every night in her nursery! Time goes by THAT fast!  Before I know it, she’ll be 17 and applying to colleges! Planning for your child’s future is something you can never start too soon, specifically their college career. To some, it may seem silly to think about planning so many years ahead for college, but the cost of college nowadays is no joke! The costs associated with attending college can be overwhelming on a family and student loans are definitely not something a recent college graduate wants to have follow them! Just look at the scary statistic about student loan debt on ScholarShare‘s image below! Yikes!

college-grad-debtScholarShare’s 529 College Savings Plan was created for the exact reason of helping alleviate some of these burdens of carrying debt for college students. If you haven’t heard of ScholarShare before, it’s California’s own 529 College Savings Plan. This state-sponsored program is a tax-advantaged investment, designed to help and encourage families to save for future qualified higher education expenses. The sooner you start saving, the more time it will have to grow. ScholarShare has no annual account management fee, no income limit and offers a high maximum account balance.

Here are a few additional facts about ScholarShare 529 Program:

  • Any U.S. citizen, or resident alien with a valid Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number, can open a new account- For as little as a $25 monthly contribution,
  • Anyone can contribute to a 529 account- Through ScholarShare’s “Give a Gift” option, family members, such as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even friends, can make a gift contribution to an existing account. When they are looking to give a special gift to your child, why not suggest they contribute towards their 529 account?Did you know family members can even open a new account in your child’s name and contribute towards it over the years?
  • A ScholarShare 529 account has tax advantages- ScholarShare offers a diverse set of investment options and provides tax-deferred growth and withdrawals free from state and federal taxes when the funds are used for qualified higher education expenses. (such as tuition and fees, books or even certain room and board costs)

double-your-contributionOn May 29 (5/29), ScholarShare is having a 529 Day Matching Promotion, “You Start It, We Match It.”  In celebration of National 529 Day, if you open a ScholarShare 529 College Savings Account on Friday, May 29, 2015 from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. PT, ScholarShare will match $50 of the initial deposit, which means your account will now start with $100 balance! If you don’t already have a ScholarShare 529 Account, this is the perfect day to start an account for your child(ren).

In order to be eligible for this matching promotion, you’ll need to:

  • Open a new ScholarShare College Savings Plan with an initial deposit of at least $50 (to be contributed and invested at the time the new account is opened.)
  • Enroll in the automatic contribution plan (ACP) for the new account with at least a $25 contribution per month.
  • The terms of this promotion also state that the initial deposit be made on Friday, May 29, 2015 between 12:01 a.m. to 11;59 p.m. PT.

Like I said before, time isn’t slowing down but rather, it’s doing the opposite. Starting a ScholarShare 529 College is so easy and you can even create your account online here. Then you can watch your initial $50 deposit transform into $100! That sounds like an opportunity that should not be passed up!

For more information about ScholarShare, click here. Connect with ScholarShare on Facebook and Twitter.


This is a sponsored post on behalf of ScholarShare for which I received compensation. All opinions are 100% my own.

LEGO Friends Heartlake City Is Now Open at LEGOLAND California Resort and It’s Adorable!

now-openHave you heard the exciting news? LEGO Friends Heartlake City is now open at LEGOLAND California Resort! The newest area at the resort is a must-see for all LEGO fans of all ages! As soon as you walk through the entrance to the city brought to life straight out of the “LEGO Friends” TV show,  you can meet your favorite LEGO friends, Mia, Olivia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma and get a glimpse inside of their LEGO lives!

my-lego-friendThroughout Heartlake City there are several clever LEGO brick creations and life-sized figures of each of the LEGO friends. There are lots of great photo opportunities there.


  • Mia’s Riding Camp: Guests can experience an adventure on a carousel that’s perfect for riders of all ages and heights. Take a horseback ride atop one of 60 carousel horses (both moving and non-moving. Guests can also opt to sit inside one of the stationary jeeps on the carousel. mias-riding-camp
  • Heartlake Stables: Inside of this shaded stable area, guests can enjoy LEGO brick building activities and learn a little bit about horses. There’s plenty of seating here for adults to rest their legs while watching their little ones play. You’ll also want to take advantage of the cute photo opportunity to sit on one of the horses in the front area of the stable! (As a convenience, your photos are available for purchase inside the park) heartlake-stables
  • Heartlake Fountain: This heart-shaped fountain is a focal point in the center of the city. Guests are welcome to play in the water, which is especially perfect on warm days. If you plan to have “splash time” on your visit, you might want to bring an extra change of clothes.heartlake-fountain
  • Friends Forever Stage: Mia, Olivia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma perform their “LEGO Friends to the Rescue” show live on stage. Guests can sing and dance along with them. There are also opportunities to meet the LEGO Friends sometimes, if you hang around after the show. To check for showtimes, click hereheartlake-stage
  • Heartlake City Boutique: Guests can shop til they drop here for LEGO Friends toys and a bunch of adorable items. Once you head into this boutique, I can guarantee you won’t come out empty handed! You’ll also find the LEGO Friends Hot Air Balloon in the center of the store. let-the-shopping-begin
  • The LEGO Movie Experience: Experience a bit of movie magic as you get a behind-the-scenes look at a real movie set! Step onto the LEGO Movie soundstage, check out movie footage and explore some of the awesome models which helped inspire the new and completely original 3D animated adventure THE LEGO MOVIE. You can even find characters from the LEGO Movie to take pictures with!


  • City Park Crêperie: Enjoy sweet, delicious crêpes at this pop-up crêperie located in the center of Heartlake City. The menu features a sugar crêpe, a Nutella crêpe, a Nutella & bananas crêpe, and a berries crêpe. We tried a Nutella  crêpe this time but need to go back soon and try a different one. What a treat! nutella-crepe
  • Wok n’ Bowl Ramen: This gourmet Japanese style Ramen House features freshly prepared stir-fry dishes such as orange chicken and teriyaki and ramen noodles with pork belly, chicken, or vegetables. Kids meals are also offered here.

We had such a fun day visiting Heartlake City! When I asked my daughter what her favorite part about the day was, she told me it was getting to talk to Stephanie and Emma and seeing them perform on stage with the other LEGO Friends.


selfie-with-lego-friendsMy heart melts when I see her so happy. She also asked if we could return to LEGOLAND tomorrow. For me, it’s all about spending time together and creating new memories.  In LEGO Friends Heartlake City there’s the opportunity to do just that!

lego-friends-journalFor more information and to purchase tickets to LEGOLAND California Resort, click here. *Heartlake City is included in the cost of admission to LEGOLAND California Resort. Connect with LEGOLAND California on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

lego-friends-foreverA very special thank you to LEGOLAND California for inviting us to attend a special media day in the park and providing us with lunch. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour For Birthday Celebrations: A Family Tradition Passed Down From My Own Childhood

farrells-squareI have very fond memories of visiting Farrell’s as a child with my family. It was mostly on special occasions like mine or my brother’s birthdays, but we did get to go there on other occasions as well! Going to Farrell’s for our birthdays was something we’d look forward to every year.  It was the original Farrell’s children’s menu that’s responsible for my love of Peanut Butter and Banana sandwiches! Yep, the original Farrell’s had them on the kids menu and they were my fav! (I wish we had digital cameras back then so I would have pictures of it all to post now!)

all-about-the-stacheOver the past few decades, Farrell’s has gone through some restructuring. At one point, they only had one location anywhere near me. Imagine my excitement when I started to hear about new locations opening up in California over the past few years! I hopped on the chance to be able to create an annual Farrell’s birthday tradition with my own daughter that was similar to what I enjoyed doing as a little girl. Did I mention we have a Farrell’s location within 5 minutes of our home? How lucky is that?


our-farrellsAfter having a super 9th birthday celebration at our local Farrell’s last year, my daughter couldn’t wait to get there again this year for her 10th birthday celebration! I don’t think we ever get tired of the ambiance in there.

junior-zookeepers-menuThe kids keep pretty busy with the fun Junior Zookeepers menu. Even at 10 years old, they’re still into it. The offerings on their menu are items that they actually enjoy and want to order. They’re also generous portions. Nothing beats a good old-fashioned grilled cheese!

grilled-cheeseDid you know that Farrell’s offers gluten-free options for guests and also has a nut allergy menu? I think that’s really important. It allows guests who might not be able to dine out of their own home normally, because of food allergies, to have options and the freedom to eat out in a restaurant without worrying. Not only does Farrell’s have these menus, their servers are educated about the different items and know the menus really well.


farrells-nut-allergy-optionsThe kids always find it necessary to request an extra plate of pickles from our server to munch on. It’s all about the pickle for them! Bob Farrell’s Motto is “Give Them The Pickle and They’ll Come Back!” Well I know it keeps us coming back! That’s for sure!

pickle-buttonAlthough I love the food at Farrell’s, we all know that the BEST part comes last….the dessert! Their dessert menu can be overwhelming (in a good way) to look at because there are so many different sundaes to choose from. It just means that you need to go back and try different sundaes on other occasions! For my daughter’s birthday, we decided to ring in “double digits” properly….with The World Famous Farrell’s ZOO! This was in addition to the complimentary birthday sundae they already bring you!

zoo-and-sundaeIf you have never heard of The World Famous Farrell’s Zoo, pay attention to this because it’s a must-try for any and all Farrell’s go-ers!  It’s made up of 4 scoops of their famous ice cream, 3 fruit flavor sherbets, 4 delicious toppings, whipped cream, cherries, and bananas! Oh and I forgot to mention the animals! (Hence the name “Zoo”!)  Not only is it a ridonkulous sight too see but the crew at Farrell’s makes it an extra big deal by ringing the fire station siren to grab your attention when it’s time to deliver it to a table.


zooThis concoction is so huge that it takes 2 servers to deliver it to your table and they bring it out on a stretcher! It’s quite the way to celebrate and sure made my birthday girl feel like the center of attention! After all of the hoopla and the birthday song of Farrell’s choice, the server will help dish out the zoo to all of the guests. It’s beyond yummy in the tummy. My daughter chose to set all of the animals aside to take home with us.

zoo-animalsWe had the best time celebrating my daughter’s 10th birthday at Farrell’s and want to send a special thank you to our server Brooke, who really helped make it a special night! We’d also like to thank Chad and Steven who are always accommodating during our frequent visits to Farrell’s!

thank-you-brookeIt looks like my daughter has started a new collection of her yearly birthday stickers from Farrell’s on the inside of her closet! Well, until next year…..



10Have YOU been to Farrell’s to celebrate a birthday or special occasion? If not, what are you waiting for? Get there!

Connect with Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!


Simon San Diego Premium Outlets’ Annual Memorial Day Weekend Super Sale


Come celebrate the unofficial start of summer with Simon Premium Outlets this Memorial Day Weekend. From Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25, Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Las Americas Premium Outlets will both offer great deals on seasonal fashions with sidewalk sales, extended hours, extra savings on top of already low prices, and more.

childrens-areaMany retailers will be hosting sidewalk sales, offering additional discounts and promotions on top of the regular savings of 25 to 65 percent every day.


At Carlsbad Premium Outlets, shoppers can peruse outdoor displays at stores like BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, Gap and Tommy Hilfiger to find the chicest summer looks for less.

nike-outletAt Las Americas Premium Outlets, shoppers can check out sidewalk sales and displays at stores like Armani Outlet, Banana Republic, BCBGMaxAzria, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gap Outlet, Guess, J.Crew, Kenneth Cole, Michael Kors, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Bahama, Tommy Hilfiger, Under Armour and more.

converse-outlet-storeFor extra savings, shoppers who are registered members of the VIP Shopper Club, AAA members or members of the military are encouraged to stop by the Information Center at each location to receive a complimentary VIP Coupon Book.

information-centerTo help shoppers take advantage of the holiday’s savings, both Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Las Americas Premium Outlets will have extended hours all weekend long.

  • Friday, May 22: 9 AM-9 PM
  • Saturday, May 23: 9 AM-9 PM
  • Sunday, May 24: 9 AM-9 PM
  • Monday, May 25: 9 AM-9 PM

So, what are YOUR big plans for this Memorial Weekend? I think you can guess that mine include some shopping, especially with these extended hours and additional discounts! Maybe I’ll see you there!

Connect with Carlsbad Premium Outlets on Facebook and Twitter!

Connect with Las Americas Premium Outlets on Facebook and Twitter!

Sweet and Savory “Boutique” Waffles at Newport Beach’s The Waffle Affair!

Disclosure: I was invited to a media tasting as a guest of The Waffle Affair in order to write my review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own. 
The-waffle-affairThe Waffle Affair is an adorable storefront, located in a shopping center off Bayside drive in Newport Beach. Situated extremely close to the water and Balboa Island, the area is known for residents who enjoy a leisurely and active outdoor lifestyle. The Waffle Affair is the perfect place to stop at to grab a hand-crafted coffee or tea and a waffle to go! If you’re thinking that the words “waffle” and “to go” don’t pair well, you must keep reading! (I suggest everyone keep reading anyway though)

waffles-to-goIt might seem “untraditional” to imagine grabbing waffles to go but these waffles are different. They don’t require any toppings or syrups and can easily be taken out to enjoy. (Don’t worry, they do also offer classic, traditional waffles with maple syrup & whipped butter, if that’s what you’re looking for!) You can choose from regular-sized waffles or waffle bites! Waffles are offered in both sweet and savory flavors, made from scratch and baked fresh to order. This means the waffles are very light and not greasy at all. There are some deliciously unique waffles on the menu at The Waffle Affair.

Here are just a few of the savory ones:

  • Cheddar & Cherry Hardwood Smoked Bacon
  • Prosciutto Di Parma & Gruyere Cheese
  • Oven Roasted Turkey & Havarti Cheese
  • Genoa Salami & Fontina Cheese genoa-salami-and-fontina-cheese-waffle
  • Waffle Bites with Hot Dogs or Breakfast Sausage (my daughter LOVED these) hot-dog-bits-and-dips

Here are just a few of the sweet waffle options:

  • Liege (Belgium-style)
  • Madagascar Vanilla Bean
  • Chocolate Chip

sweet-waffle-bitesOther waffle offerings include daily waffles and specialty & seasonal waffles. We had the pleasure of trying coconut waffle bites and carrot cake waffle bites that had a cream cheese frosting topping. They were both considered seasonal items, which are offered from time-to-time. They were amazing!


coconut-waffle-biteThe Waffle Affair also has its own coffee bar and proudly serves Illy’s sustainably grown Arabica beans, as well as a selection of Dammann Teas, and freshly squeezed orange juice.

the-waffle-affair-coffee-barTo view the full menu, click here.  The Waffle Affair is a truly adorable place to go for breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner. The people are friendly and you’ll fall in love with the decor…especially the chandelier! But you’ll mostly fall in love with the waffles! I know I did!

love-the-decor chandelierThe Waffle Affair is located at:

 1064 Bayside Drive Newport Beach, CA 92660


Connect with The Waffle Affair on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Driving Around in the Kia Sedona Was As Much Fun As Hanging Out With One of the Girls!

Disclosure: I was provided with a Kia Sedona vehicle for a week, in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own! 

I recently had the pleasure of spending a week driving around a beautiful, 2015 Kia Sedona. The moment I saw her parked there, sparkling in the sun, I KNEW she had to be a girl!  She was so pretty!


kia-sedona-1The 2015 Sedona is premium comfort in a minivan. I’d never driven a minivan before and I must say that I previously misjudged how awesome they are. I enjoyed our time together so much that it felt like I was hanging out with one of the girls. Let me tell you a few reasons why!

shes-stylishI already mentioned how sparkly the Kia Sedona was upon delivery but every feature about the this vehicle is stylish. The vehicle, itself, has a sleek design.

dash-featuresThe interior is extremely luxurious and with a roomy driver’s cockpit and the model I drove had leather everything.  It’s equipped with high-tech gadgets, which makes it even more functional. It’s like a mom’s dream! And…the Sedona even has great taste in “shoes”! Just look at those alloy wheels!


shes-tech-savvyThe  2015 Kia Sedona is equipped with some high-tech features and gadgets that I found so convenient and efficient. She knows the importance of being “with the times” in order to keep up in the modern world!

Here are just a few of my favorite tech-features

Remote Keyless entry: First of all, this remote keyless entry just requires that the key be nearby, like in your hand or purse. You don’t need to enter a code or push anything from the key or your keychain. You literally push a button on the driver’s door and and it unlocks the doors. This is a huge convenience when your hands are full because no one likes to juggle everything they’re carrying to find their keys. I know that I rarely approach my car with empty hands, so this almost seems like this feature was created just for me.

push-button-startPush Button Start with Smart Key: This is another great feature. As long as the key is in the car, the car will start with one touch of the ignition button. It’s another great convenience and time saver.

Voice Command Navigation System: You can utilize the large 8″ display on the dashboard with Voice-Command. Real-time highway traffic helps you navigate the most efficient route to your destination. The system also has the capability to help you locate restaurants, gas stations, stores, and pretty much any destination you’re looking for. It even reminds you when you’re low on fuel AND helps you search for the closest gas station!

low-fuelSmart Power Liftgate:  I loved this feature! You just have to stand behind the Sedona with your Smart Key and the liftgate opens automatically for you! It’s the next best thing to having someone open it for you.

Read about some of the other tech features on this vehicle here.

she-plays-it-safeThe Sedona had the most complete safety back-up camera system I’ve seen on any vehicle I’ve driven. When the car was in reverse, you had a view of what was behind you from the rear-camera display on the dashboard, but there’s actually a surround view monitor on the car so you can see around the entire car too. In the case of something or someone being in the close proximity of the car, it’s also equipped with a backup warning system which will beep at you. It’s such an efficient setup and Kia has taken that extra step towards safety with these features!

cameraAnother safety feature is the BLUETOOTH® Wireless Technology Hands-Free Connectivity. This feature allows for you to maintain your focus on the road and keep both hands on the wheel. Kia seems very dedicated to ensuring “distraction-free driving” for its car owners and they are doing an excellent job of making that happen through the design of their cars. So many of the buttons are right on the steering wheel or right up on the dashboard so that it doesn’t take your attention away from the road.


The stereo system in the Sedona is on point! In addition to the usual AM/FM stereo and a CD player, it also has MP3 capabilities and featured SiriusXM! I was spoiled with the SiriusXM, especially when Foo Fighters and Britney Spears came on!  My daughter, on the other hand, was way more excited about having access to Radio Disney in the car though than hearing “mommy’s music”!



The Sedona is very verbal and not afraid to use her voice. As I pointed out before, the vehicle is equipped with many tech-savvy features. Not only does it have so many technological features but it also uses its voice. Using an audible warning, the system will let you know when there’s either something in your way when you’re backing up or if anything is close to your vehicle when you’re changing lanes. It produces a very significant beep that really grabs your attention  immediately.  Another time you’ll hear her use her “big voice” is when she’s helping you get somewhere with the navigation system or telling you about traffic.

I think the funnest part of our week with the Sedona was taking her on a weekend road trip to Vegas for one of my daughter’s cheer competitions! She was so comfy to ride in. The third row of seats is a complete row, but also folds down easily to provide a ton of room for luggage and trip necessities.


packingI loved that the Sedona didn’t judge how much stuff we brought for our quick getaway trip! She understands a girl’s need to excessively pack!

vegasI also loved that she didn’t have to be reminded that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!“…especially when it means bringing home tons of bags from shopping at places like M&Ms World! All of the shopping we did in Vegas will just remain our little secret!


I think this is actually the best part about the Sedona.  She knows how to keep the kids happy! As a mom, this is a priority and I spend a great deal of time trying to keep my daughter happy. The Kia totally “gets” it and has some features that “wow-ed” the kids on our road trip.

2-sunroofsTWO sunroofs: I feel like I can’t even compete with this one! The rear-seat passengers can also enjoy an open-air experience with the 2nd Row-Power Sliding Sunroof. You’re able to operate the 2nd-row sunroof, independently from the 1st-row sunroof, with front and rear controls.We spent quite a while playing with this feature. (when we were parked, of course) It sure makes for some cute photo opportunities too!

back-windowsBack power windows…they roll down: I think one of the biggest problems with minivans relates to having sliding back doors that don’t have access to fresh air via windows that roll down. The Sedona not only has power windows that roll down in the back, but also has screens you can put up to help block out sun. This was definitely a feature we loved when we were driving through the sunny desert on our way to Vegas!

2nd-row-seating2nd row, First-Class Lounge Seating: The seating in the 2nd row absolutely blew me away! It’s pure heaven back there with those recliner seats that provide adjustable lower leg support. It was like one of those luxury movie theater chairs.  There’s also a 2nd-Row Center Seat that’s available to make even more room for you and all your friends. It can fold down, using the Slide-N-Stow™ system,  to provide an armrest and cup holders for two 2nd-row passengers when you don’t need it. (It can also fold up and forward or be removed completely.) These seats made ME want to climb in the backseat and ask someone else to drive!

happy-kidNow you can see all of the reasons why I not only fell in love with the Kia Sedona for the week I drove her ar0und, but also felt like she understood me like one of my girlfriends would! I loved driving this vehicle and would highly recommend it to others. I only have one daughter and I’d still love to own a Kia Sedona JUST to have all of that space inside and luxurious features. My daughter still talks about the Sedona, to this day!

To read more about the Kia Sedona, click here. Connect with Kia Motors on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too!

When a Cast Member Makes a Magical First Impression on You! Meet One of My Favorites: Ronna From Disney’s Yacht Club! #DisneySMMC

They say that first impressions are everything and I completely agree with that statement. You never truly get a chance to re-do a first impression. This is especially true in businesses such as restaurants, stores, and hotels. When a guest walks into an establishment for some type of service,  they start to form an opinion about that place of business based on the way they were treated by the first person they encountered who was working there.

first-impressions-are-everythingMy family and I recently took our first trip to Walt Disney World Resort for the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. We were so excited to be all booked at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort during our trip! After taking the red-eye from Southern California to Orlando, Florida, we finally arrived at our destination around 6:30 a.m. on a very minimal amount of sleep. I may, or may not, have entered the lobby of Disney’s Yacht Club while sleep walking. As I entered the check-in line, I was immediately greeted at the front desk by one of the sweetest cast members in the place! Talk about making a lasting first impression! Even as I sit here writing this post, I miss that sweet lady.

disneys-yacht-club-resortHer name was Ronna and she was just beginning her shift that day. As I glanced over the counter, into her work area, I noticed she had a few personal items, such as pens and a paper pad, that were purple! I love purple! I didn’t even need to ask if purple was her favorite color because it was so obvious.

how-fun-are-her-purple-accessoriesMy asking her immediately sparked such a pleasant conversation between us, as she proceeded to check me (and my family that was sleeping on a couch in the hotel lobby at that moment) into our room. I also noticed that Ronna was from Chicago, specifically from the same area that I have family. Again, we hit it off talking about Chicago.

look-for-ronnaI appreciated how much time Ronna took to thoroughly explain everything I needed to know about the hotel to me. There was a lot to take in and get to know about this giant resort hotel, as well as the parks. I could see why Disney had hired Ronna to work for them…because she’s a magical person who makes magic for guests….which is exactly what a cast member is supposed to do!

meet-cast-member-RonnaFor the duration of our stay, I kept checking the front desk, each time we’d walk by, to see if Ronna was working. I finally learned that she also works next door at the front desk at Disney’s Beach Club  Resort (it’s an adjacent property to the Yacht Club). On our last day, just before leaving on The Magical Express for the airport, we finally found her working again. I re-introduced myself (but of course she remembered me) and told her that I wanted to thank her again for being so kind. I think she was a little surprised that I came back to tell her that.

we-heart-ronnaThen I asked if we could take a picture together and if I could also photograph her alone. I think she almost cried happy tears from my request, which made me also get happy tears in my eyes! As you can see from the pictures, Ronna is absolutely adorable and I hope we get to go back there someday soon and visit her when we do! She was our first impression of the Walt Disney World Resort and I’d have to say that she made a magical one.

Have YOU had any magical experiences with Disney Cast Members before? If so, where were you and how did they make an impression on you?

4 Intangible Things I Took With Me to The 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration! #DisneySMMC

reachingIn the two years I’ve been blogging, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a few different conferences. I love going to conferences! The more I attend, the more I want to seek out to attend! I take away something new and valuable from each conference and always leave feeling recharged and newly inspired. I’ve also experienced what I like to call “conference regrets“. If you’re not sure what those are, they are the things you wish you’d done at a conference, but either forgot or were too intimidated to do, for whatever reason. I feel like I get brave after the conference is over, except then it’s too late to go back.  I’m almost sure that every blogger has experienced “conference regrets” at least once in their career.  What I’ve found to be most effective for tackling this problem is to take some time, prior to attending a conference, to set some small personal conference goals for myself.

THE-emailI was recently invited to attend The 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World Resort. I can still remember how magical it was when I opened that email containing such a special invitation! I think I let out a squeal that was probably heard around the world! It was such an honor to be invited and I really couldn’t believe it had happened for me. I KNEW I had to make every moment of what would be a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” count! So, in the weeks leading up to the conference, I proceeded to jot down notes on post-its until I’d put together a list of my personal goals for this conference.

At first I felt a bit overwhelmed by this goal-setting because I didn’t know what to expect from the conference itself. I’d heard so many stories and read several posts from others who had attended in the past, but I really wanted to focus on what was most important for me to take away from the experience. Finally, I compiled a list of 4 intangible things I’d be bringing with me to The 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, so let me share these things with you!

my-love-for-disney-2The first thing I brought to the conference was my love for Disney. I believe each and every one of the invited attendees has a love for Disney that’s unique and special. My own love for Disney stems from my childhood. I grew up in Southern California and our family was fortunate enough to live very close to Disneyland. (It was just Disneyland back then, not Disneyland Resort)  As a child, I got to visit the park about once a year, usually during summertime. Visiting Disneyland with my family, as a little girl, is one of those childhood memories I can still actually recall vividly.

vintage-DisneylandMy love for Disney has grown by leaps and bounds as I’ve grown up. (Confession: I’ve actually never grown up though) I’m a proud Disneyland Resort Annual Passholder and visit the parks as frequently as I can. As a mom, I’ve had the opportunity to create special Disney memories with my own daughter.  My love for Disney also carries over into many other aspects of my life too. I try to live life in “a Disney way”, which is something other lovers of Disney can fully understand. To be in an entire ballroom filled with other Disney-loving moms (and a dad) was an amazing experience.

optimism-2Optimism was a very important thing to bring with me as well! It’s beyond important to come to a conference with an optimistic attitude. I consider myself a “Glass Half-Full Kind of Girl” and always try my best to see a positive side in every situation. Each conference is an new opportunity to connect with other influencers and often times, brands. If you walk in with a positive attitude and are full of optimism, it’ll draw people towards you and they’ll to want to get to know you. It’s also something that will make brands want to work with you. I’m always optimistic that something good is going to happen. Remember, “If you can dream it, you can do it!” Stay optimistic!

courage-and-confidence-2I’ve saved the best for last. I think courage and confidence are the most vital things you can bring to a conference! I am speaking from experience and as someone who has had “conference regrets” in the past for not bringing these with me! As I entered the convention center at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and started to walk down the long hallway, it felt as if my breath had literally been stolen away. (in a good way)  Hanging from the boughs were these amazing and enormous banners! It was surreal. I had mixed emotions at the moment before I entered the room for registration. On one hand I felt like royalty, on the other hand, doubt started to set in and I began to second guess myself. You can’t do that! You CAN’T doubt yourself! This is where courage comes into play!

bannersIf this starts to happen to you, just do what I did….I gave myself a pep talk (inside of my head of course). I told myself that I needed to remember my courage! I needed to have courage and confidence because I was there for a reason! I needed to have courage to approach people and make those connections that I’d come all this way to make. I needed to have courage and confidence in myself when others would ask me about what it is that drives the passion behind my own blogging. It’s important to remember that you are worth something! You are just as good as anyone else at the conference! If you think for one moment that you aren’t as good as some of the “bigger bloggers” who may also be at the same conference as you, just remember, they were once just like you! Honestly, if you approach most of those women, you’ll find that they aren’t as intimidating as you envision. I’ve become friends with many of the “bigger bloggers” and I can say they are some of the kindest, most uplifiting women in social media and, often times, will even help you out.

leap-of-faithI packed all 4 of these intangible things into my suitcase and took them with me to The 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I walked into that conference with all that I needed and I did my best! What’s most important to remember is why you came and what you hope to achieve.  As you can see, I took a leap of faith (or should I say a jump of faith). Believe in yourself and don’t ever lose your courage or confidence!