Over The Top Mommy

Travel

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess: A Review of the Arizona Resort by Over the Top Kid

This is a guest post by Over the Top Kid! (aka Emily, age 9)

I love summer! I love not having homework, I love getting to sleep in later, and I LOVE getting to go on little vacations! Last week I got to go to Arizona with my mom. She was going for The Disney Social Media Moms on the Road conference and I got to travel with her. Arizona State Sign When my mom told me she made our reservations at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess , I looked online to see what kind of things they had for kids like me to do.  That’s when I got even more excited about the trip! Wow, it looked cool! fairmont sign After staying there for 2 nights and 3 days I was not ready to go back home. Let me tell you about just a few of the things I liked most about this hotel and my stay there.

1. It’s actually on Princess Drive Princess Drive I thought it was really cool that the resort was located on Princess Drive! Obviously that’s why it’s called the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, right? My mom and I LOVE princesses, especially Disney princesses!

2. A cowboy helps you with your luggage

cowboy When my mom pulled up in the valet area, a cowboy came up to the car to help us! He was wearing a cowboy hat and real cowboy boots and was super polite. He unloaded all of our things onto the bell cart. We had kind of a lot of stuff and he didn’t even laugh at us!

3. They have golf carts to take you everywhere golf carts golf cart After my mom checked in and got our room (which was actually a casita), we got to take a golf cart to our room! It wasn’t just a regular golf cart, it was a super long one with a ton of seats. Our driver told us that we could call any time that we needed a ride someplace at the resort. I think I drove my mom nuts when I kept asking her if we could take lots of extra golf cart rides!

4. You can order s’mores in a cup smores in a cup One of the many restaurants at the Fairmont Scottsdale is called The Ironwood American Kitchen. I think my mom would want me to write about how great the food was there, but I honestly can’t stop thinking about the s’mores in a cup that I got there! I really want to go back and have another one. This restaurant is really yummy though. They also have cool things for kids to play with while they’re waiting and not just a kids menu.

5. Our casita was awesome!  robe bathroom collage casita towels When we first went into our casita I was so excited! It had 2 beds, a living room, a desk and a TV, all in one room! There was also a fireplace inside and a patio outside the door. In the bathroom there were 2 sinks, a giant tub, a shower and a cool walk-in closet! I always like to organize my things in a hotel closet, as soon as I get there. There were also robes for both of us and some great bath products that I took home for souvenirs. I told my mom that I could live in the casita forever. It was so nice. Also, there was a Keurig in the room and I got to make my own hot chocolate since my mom brought some hot chocolate K-cups with us.

6. *****Sonoran Splash sonora splash weee! *******my favorite thing about the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess This was the BEST part of the resort for kids! Sonoran Splash has 2 different waterslides that you can go down. You have to climb up the stairs and pick what side you want to go down. They move you pretty fast and it dumps you into a pool at the bottom! It seemed like I rode each of them about 100 times. I even got my mom to go with me a ton of times. I think this was definitely my favorite part of the whole trip! us on waterside The Fairmont Princess Scottsdale has a lot more activities for kids to do, we just didn’t get a chance to do them. I saw a kids club online, called the Trailblazers Club, that looked really fun. On the weekends they have zip lining, fishing, fireworks and even Dive In movies that you can watch while you’re in the pool. I am begging my mom to take me back really soon so I can do all of the other things that I didn’t get a chance to do. If you were wondering if YOU should take YOUR kid(s) to the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, I’d say “YES you should!” bring them   Follow the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess on Facebook here, on Twitter here, and on Instagram here.

YOU Can “Unlock the Magic” at The Disney Store!

Did you know….there is a special, kind of (almost) secret thing that occurs each day at each Disney Store location. Have you heard of “opening The Disney Store” before? It’s a real thing!did-you-know-you-can-help-open-the-disney-storeThe first guest at The Disney Store in the morning gets the honor of “unlocking the Magic” as soon as the doors open! If you peek through the windows before they open, you can see that there is something set up at the entryway. It looks like a giant keyhole and has theater-style ropes that are attached to each side of it. It’s almost similar to the ropes the Cast Members use each morning for rope drop in some of the Disney Parks. Most people actually don’t know about this special event. heres-how-we-did-itMy daughter and and I were in line at our mall one morning, about 50 minutes prior to the Disney Store’s opening time. When we arrived, there was no one else around. We sat down in front of the store to stake out our spot. Eventually, a few other people arrived at the storefront and sat behind us. When there were about 8 of us in line, a conversation began and one of the girls asked the other people what they were here to buy? She let us all know she was in search of Frozen dolls. Another lady from the UK was actually there to buy a Buzz Lightyear. When it was our turn to share WHAT we were there for, we told the others that we weren’t here in search of any specific item but, rather,  to “open The Disney Store”. Not one of the other people even knew what we were talking about! At first they looked at us like we were a little crazy but then we explained how it all works.It was exciting to share about it with the others and I almost felt bad that we were first in line and they all weren’t, now that they knew. It’s OK though, they can come back and have their turn any other day. This was my daughter’s day to do it!is-it-11-yet I’m pretty sure my daughter asked me about every other minute to check the time, as we counted down the time until 11:00 a.m.. When it was finally 11, the doors opened and everyone who had been standing with us seemed anxious to see.

opening the Disney StoreMy daughter had the hugest smile on her face as Cast Member “Adam” asked WHO was the first guest in line that day? Emi proudly raised her hand and the Cast Member then explained to her that SHE would be “unlocking the Magic” of the store that day! The ecstatic expression on her face was priceless!

Here’s a little video where he explains what’s going to happen.

At this point, all of the kids were very excited and waiting in anticipation for Cast Member Brittany to bring the giant key!

After the key unlocks the Magic, then the fireworks on the ceiling of the store begin a little show, and finally the ropes are dropped and the store is open for business! One of the other cool parts about being “the one”, is that you also receive your very own key to The Disney Store!disney-store-key The Cast Member presents you with your own keepsake, which is something that I know my daughter will treasure for a lifetime!

 

Emi with Cast Member BrittanyDid you know about this magical happening before? Have you ever “unlocked the Magic” at a Disney Store? Share with me in the comments! I’d love to hear about it!

Blended Conference 2014: Why YOU Should Attend!

Last Fall, I had the opportunity to attend Blended: A Conference in the Desert. It was the first blogger conference I ever attended. I was what you’d call a “newbie blogger”. (I actually still am) Although I was excited to attend, I was also very nervous about it. (I now know there was nothing to be nervous about) Although I’m not a shy person, blogging, and all that it entails, was an area new to me, so I really wasn’t very sure of myself or even HOW I’d come across to others. At that point, I was even still trying to figure out my blogging niche, as well as the tech side of blogging.
I cannot even begin to describe how invaluable that experience of attending Blended last year was to me! It was a 1 day conference last year. This year, it’s an entire weekend and after I saw the location  and the agenda for the weekend, I got even more excited!

I’m going to give you 5 great reasons why YOU should attended Blended this year!

Reason #1
You should attend because I will be there! 
Yep, I wouldn’t miss Blended Conference 2014 for the world! I am so excited for the little road trip back to Arizona, from California, to see all of the friends I made at the conference last year, as well as to meet a whole bunch of new ones! (including you!) I’m not saying that I am like a headliner for the conference or anything, because I’m not, but I would consider myself a pretty fun bloggy friend to have. Oh, and I LOVE taking selfies with friends! Please attend so I can meet you!
Reason #2
You should attend because the ladies who are responsible for running the conference are are not only amazing, but are also both named “Wendy”, which happens to be my name, so seriously, how can that NOT be a good enough reason on its own? 
I first met Wendy O’Neal from Around My Family Table and Wendy Wright from Choosing Love and Arizona Moms Network online. Before getting to actually meet these 2 in person, I was worried I’d be intimidated when I met them, but once we were all together at a dinner the night before the conference last year, I immediately felt comfortable talking to them and several other people I’d refer to as super bloggers, who I’d also only met online. I will admit that I sat there #fangirling Wendy and Wendy at the conference, but that’s a good thing. They definitely land in my book as “superwomen” and I’m proud to be a part their #TeamWendy. Obviously if your name is also Wendy, you REALLY need to make sure to get to this conference!
Reason #3
You should attend because you’ll have so many opportunities to network with other bloggers, the speakers and with some brands. 
This is a very important reason, especially if you are a new(er) blogger! Networking, meeting other bloggers, including the conference speakers, and actually starting relationships and friendships with them, is probably one of the most useful things you can take away from a conference. There is a big difference between meeting someone online, like on Facebook or Twitter, and actually meeting them in person, allowing them to get to know you, and you being able to get to know them. You never know who the person sitting next to you or across the table from you, really is, or what connections they may have. They also may see something in you that they like and throw some great opportunities your way! You just never know!
You also have the opportunity to network with brands, because there are brands represented at Blended conference and at certain times during the conference days, you have time to actually introduce yourself and meet some of the brands’ PR people. PR people are really just regular people, so although it may be intimidating to approach them, you should just do it. Approach them with your business card, introduce yourself and just chat with them briefly.
You honestly never know who is going to make a positive connection with you or when it will happen, but it will! I speak from experience and like I said before, I’m still a newbie.
Reason #4
You should attend because, once again, there is a going to be a fabulous agenda with fabulous speakers (and fabulous food) at Blended this year! 

If you take a peek over the agenda, what you’ll find is a ton of fun and knowledge coming your way!
*Scheduled Head Shots with Kate Eschbach on Friday afternoon!

*Hands-on Workshops on Friday night
*Maureen Fitzgerald, also known as Wisconsin Mommy, will be talking about Creating a Media Kit.
*Christine Pittman from Cook the Story, will have a Food Styling…Live session.
*Dan Morris of Letters from Dan and Blogging Concentrated, will be presenting SEO Simplified.
*Rachel Martin of Finding Joy, will show How to Create an ebook from Your Existing Content
*Marley McMillan Beelman of Namely Marley, will present The Joy of Blogging
*Dear Blogger breakout sessions, for both beginning and advanced bloggers
*no hosted blogger dinners
*Blogging Concentrated for advanced bloggers presented by Dan Morris of Letters from Dan
Reason #5
You should attend because Blogging Concentrated for advanced bloggers is going to have its own day during Blended this year! 
This is an incredible offering that you just shouldn’t pass up and very unique to this conference to have a component piggy backing like this! I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Morris recently at another conference and not only is he going to present a wealth of information, he is also a really fun guy to hang out with!

I could probably give so many more reasons why YOU should attend Blended Conference this fall! Maybe I’ll write a 2nd post with Reasons #6-10….maybe!

To get more information about Blended and register for it, click here.
 I hope to see you there!

Christmas Eve Morning at The Disneyland Resort With Our Elf on the Shelf!

What do you do when it’s Christmas Eve day, you don’t have to be at dinner until 6:30 p.m. and you still haven’t had a chance to take your daughter to see Santa yet? You head straight to The Disneyland Resort, that’s what you do! What a beautiful, sunny, Southern California morning it was, too! There aren’t too many places you can be where you actually NEED to wear sunblock on December 24th!

Emily & I decided to visit Disney’s California Adventure first! There was NO LINE to see Santa over at Elias & Company! We walked right in and Santa immediately struck up a conversation with Emily. As you can tell by this photo, she was mesmerized by him.

I’m pretty sure she’s asking him for the Frozen castle here.
I love everything about the setup of this Santa location. It’s just so old fashioned and Christmas-y and if it hadn’t been so blazing hot, I would’ve put Emi in her actual Christmas dress for the photo. Regardless, I think we got some beautiful pictures to add to her memory book.

Santa also had an absolutely beautiful elf named “Tinsel” that was helping him and passing out candy canes to the guests as they exited from sitting for their photo. I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of Emi with her also.

Seriously though, how adorable is this elf?

Emi and I also had another mission on our visit….we had to bring her Elves on the Shelf with us! Yep, they had written her a note, asking if she could take them to Disneyland! They told her that Santa had given special permission for Mommy to touch the elves to move them and take them to Disneyland. We just hadn’t had much time during December to visit the parks and since the elves were returning to The North Pole that evening, this was our LAST chance. The tricky part about this was that 1)only Mommy could touch the elves, because children DON’T touch the Elf on the Shelf and 2)We needed to be careful as NOT to spoil any magic for other children at The Resort. I carried the elves in our backpack and we took them out for a few photo opportunities. There was one incident when two small children spotted them and were trying to tell their mom they had seen them, so we just sat back and pretended not to notice the elves and then as soon as the children were long gone, we grabbed the elves, stuffed them BACK into our backpack and ran! It was pretty funny to have elf shenanigans going on!

Our elves INSISTED on wearing these buttons!
There are always a lot of “good parts” about each trip to the parks but on this particular day, Emi was REALLY excited about getting to ride in the front of Monorail Blue….WITH her elves! Since there weren’t any other children up there with us (who might’ve gotten freaked out), we could have the elves out of the backpack!
Patiently awaiting the front spot on Monorail Blue!
This is Disney Magic at work!
CM Manuel even let the elves help navigate, once we started moving and had to sit down!

It was such a great Christmas Eve morning at The Disneyland Resort! We are so blessed to be able to just run over to the parks for a few hours and be able to do something like this! Happy Holidays!

It’s Time for Apple Picking in Julian!

I absolutely LOVE this time of year! It’s the beginning of fall and, although we have such warm weather in Southern California, the apple orchards are open by the end of September and the apples are ready for picking!

(How adorable is this sign I found at Home Goods?)

This year we decided to visit the adorable town of Julian, since it’s just a hop, skip & a jump away! (Ok maybe it’s actually a couple hours away) The downtown area of Julian is adorable and has many little shops, restaurants and pie shops. You can also ride in a horse-drawn carriage down the main street. The farms and apple orchards are all pretty close to the downtown area, so you can either stop at them on your way into town or as you’re leaving. On this particular trip, we ate lunch at Julian Cafe & Bakery,  before going apple picking. Not only was the food yummy, we also enjoyed drinking out of glass boot mugs! After lunch was when we wandered into the town pie shops and country stores.

Our favorite pie shop was Mom’s! We sat down inside to eat some warm pie a la mode and then we stopped at Mom’s again on the way out of town to take some pie home!
 (They have more than one location!)
This year we visited The Julian Mining Company for apple picking.
We bought a bag to put our freshly picked apples in.
 It was a bit tough to be there with a little perfectionist because Emi ONLY wanted to pick the perfect apples! Her selection process required a lot of patience on our part.
Luckily she was content after filling up one bag.
Little one-day adventures like this are something I hope will stick in Emi’s memories of her childhood.
So you tell me…do YOU think she had a good time?
Happy Fall!