This past weekend, our family was blessed to spend a weekend at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa as a gift to our family on behalf of the Westin and 3TV Surprise Squad (see earlier blog post). To say that it was amazing is an incredible understatement.
When we arrived on Friday afternoon, we were greeted at the door with smiling faces and welcoming arms. A sweet staff member named M.J. introduced herself and shared that she was one of twelve in her family so our story was extra special to her. Jennifer, Meredith and other FUN TEAM members were there to start off the fun with a scavenger hunt for the kids to complete throughout the weekend. Next, we were led up to the four BEAUTIFULLY appointed rooms, decorated especially for us with swag bags, balloons, and adorable personalized messages drawn on the mirrors of each room. They had thought of everything to make our stay PERFECT!
After we unpacked, we headed down to the Adventure Pool (ummm…it’s ridiculously fun) and J. Swilling’s Pool Bar & Grill for a yummy dinner and a Flow Rider Show! The kids were so excited to “order whatever they wanted” as Jennifer instructed! We met Captain Fun and some of the Flow Rider folks who were sooooo sweet to our munchkins. After dinner and the show, they invited the kids to do a trial run on the Flow Rider before our private session the next day. The sweet, and very attentive young woman checking us in at the Flow Rider noticed that a couple of the littles (too short to ride) were upset. She busted out the Dippin’ Dots and all was well in their highly emotional 3-year-old worlds. Seriously, she was a life saver! I was sure that Fitz and Hudson were going to start throwing punches. Oh, but wait, ALL YOU CAN EAT S’MORES!!! And not just your regular s’mores. You choose your MARSHMALLOW (regular, caramel, chocolate, coconut and probably more that I missed), your CHOCOLATE (milk, dark, cookies and cream, or REESE’S FLIPPING PEANUT BUTTER CUP) and your CRACKER (graham or cinnamon sugar fried crisp). The kids were in heaven, but George and I were right there with them!
Soon we were back at our private cabana (yep, they spoiled us rotten) where we divided the munchkins into partners, carefully chosen on their ability to maintain good behavior and swimming skill level. Each “big” was partnered with a “little” to keep a constant eye on. That being said, we kept the three littlest with us. Unbeknownst to us, some of the girls decided to switch their partners which left Hayden by himself. During one of our frequent head counts, we noticed that our count was off. Luckily, the attentive staff, saved the day and stopped this Mama Bear’s panic attack. Hayden was safe and sound with his mommy and had a whole story (made up) about his adventure and exactly whose fault it was. Clearly, it was time for bed…don’t even get me started about the beds… #HEAVENLY!!!
The next morning, we enjoyed a breakfast buffet at Nellie Cashman’s Monday Club Cafe. The staff treated us like royalty! The hostesses and servers made quite a fuss about the munchkins and gave them lots of attention. At one point, our kind server, who couldn’t quite believe our family situation, was carefully wiping chocolate from Fitz’s hands with a napkin. Even the sweet woman who had the joy of cleaning up after our mess shared with me that she was one of THIRTEEN children and that she didn’t mind the disaster. I apologized, especially for the lovely stage that Farley is in where he throws EVERYTHING. She just smiled.
After breakfast, we headed to a presentation from the Arizona Herpetological Society in one of the conference rooms where we were introduced to reptiles from almost every continent (sorry Antartica). WOW! It was sooooo cool to be able to see and touch some of the animals and learn more about them while on our staycation. What a treat! Up next, TYE DYING with the FUN TEAM! We headed to the OK Corral to make t-shirts with the very patient and truly fun members of the resort’s “FUN TEAM.” My favorite part was not having to clean up the mess.
Now, let’s talk Flow Rider. That thing is amazing! I was shocked at how well the munchkins did on it. Reese, Lizzie and James were able to stand up (even just for a second or two). Louie was very well-balanced and had no fear. Hayden was hilarious laying on his back, feet up, hands behind his head, just relaxing on the body board. The wipeouts were soooooo funny. I think it was their favorite part. Again, our sweet, attentive friend at the Flow Rider knew that the highly emotional 3 year olds needed some sugar to keep their cool. Mama Bear and Papa Bear enjoyed refreshing margaritas and eventually took a turn on the Flow Rider as well. The lifeguards were so kind to let us big kids take a ride and not laugh too hard at our lack of surfing skills. Again, the staff was AMAZING and took such good care of us.
After our private Flow Rider session, we headed into the Adventure Pool and stressed the importance of staying with their partners (with plenty of empty threats as motivation). We had so much fun and must have been asked about 373 times just “what” we were and met each question with a smile and a shortened explanation. Everyone was in love with Farley who loves to scare the junk out of us by repeatedly face planting in the water over and over again. (Enter, baby flotation device that was conveniently available for purchase at the pool.) He wasn’t too happy about it and showed us his distain by biting a hole in said flotation device after about 45 minutes of use. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. More lazy river, more water slide, more splashing around until the munchkins were ready for dinner.
We headed back to the room to quickly get showered and dressed in time to watch the Scottish Bagpipes as the sun went down on in the courtyard overlooking the golf course and mountains. I can’t even. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this was. This was where we got to meet Michael, the head of food and beverage, who knew exactly who we were. He was so kind to set up a table in minutes for our family to watch the sun go down and eat a delicious dinner in the beautiful DREAMWEAVERS CANYON COURTYARD. Michael set us up right next to Erick Hasbun, who was setting up for live music in this stunning location. Erick is incredibly talented! I want to go back for a date night with the hubs to get to listen to his whole set. (Hint, hint, George!) Just as we were finishing dinner, Michael came up to let us know a “Good Samaritan” had taken care of our tab. Wow! Cue tears. Michael introduced us to the generous gentleman. George and I were blown away and so grateful for his extremely kind gesture. He complimented the munchkins on their fabulous behavior and told us how great we are. As I always say, this is our normal. This is just our life. This is what we are supposed to do. We never expect anything from anyone, but we are sure grateful for the way God provides through the goodness of others. Back to bed in those HEAVENLY beds with a quick jaunt to an adorable little bar just outside Nellie Cashman’s where Alex (who is a rockstar) recommended a Manhattan for the hubs which I delivered to our room after a chat with sweet Alex. It was a handcrafted cocktail made with local Arizona spirits and ingredients. The hubs loved it! It was his Pop-Pop’s favorite drink but the first time George had tasted one. In his words, “it was stellar!”
On our last morning, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at Nellie Cashman’s again (because endless chocolate croissants, an omelette bar and so much bacon.) After breakfast we finished the scavenger hunt and the kids filled their “compass” booklet with stamps. With the booklets complete, they headed straight to the “Mining Camp” where two lovely ladies bestowed pins for each location in their booklet to add to their lanyard. It was like Disneyland…only FREE! We rushed back up to the room to pack up before the next activity… STUFF-A-BUDDY! Wellllll, the girls had some minor misbehaving so the boys and I headed back to the OK Corral where Meredith and the FUN TEAM helped each of them choose a buddy (so many choices), fill it with stuffing, make a wish on a star, zip it up and get to take it home. Hudson just wanted his elephant to remain “unstuffed.” It looked hilarious and creepy (like Silence of the Lambs) all at the same time. But hey, Huddy was happy. If Huddy ‘aint happy, ‘aint nobody happy. The boys came up with the idea to make a buddy for each of their sisters as a surprise. It was adorable! The girls were so happy to have a special souvenir to take home from our incredible weekend away.
All in all, we loved every single part of the staycation at the breathtaking, Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. We didn’t want to come home. The kids may have been petitioning to live there forever. If you ever have a chance to stay there, do. You will not regret that decision. Fun was had. Memories were made. Munchkins were spoiled. George and I loved being able to just enjoy the kids and not worry about the rest. We could not have made this happen without the generosity of the Westin, 3TV Surprise Squad and many others who made this weekend a time that we will never forget. You know who you are. We cannot even begin to thank you enough.
Lesson: Make memories and be grateful for all of the blessings in your life. Oh, and get swim lessons for the littles ASAP!
**Coming Soon: A three-part post about 9-1-1…would have been a two-part post but this weekend added a third episode. Those boys are lucky they’re so adorable…more on that later.