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Beating winter blues – family getaway

February 22, 2010

by Jenni Sebora

Our family recently went on a short winter getaway to Italy.

Well, not really Italy. We went for a one-night stay to the Holiday Inn at Maple Grove/Arbor Lakes. The hotel and pool area are tastefully decorated as if one is strolling through the streets of Venice (well, actually one has to travel via gondola to sightsee).

This area has grown immensely. The shops of Arbor Lakes are many, and there is a plethora of eating establishments to fit almost anyone’s taste. We, of course, ended up at Dave and Buster’s (a restaurant arcade establishment), which is conveniently located right next door to the hotel.

We ate a nice lunch, played some games and then made our way to the hotel, where we enjoyed a full day of fun family time. We swam in the waters of “Venice,” which included some large body slides; a tot’s swimming area, a hot tub, and a pool with lots of fun activities.

Our whole family, our 12-year-old son, 9 and 5-year- old daughters, my husband, and I, spent the time playing hot games of pickle in the middle, basketball, 500, and anything else we could come up with, all in the confines of the pool. I was waterlogged when we got out and welcomed the opportunity to head to Borders Books, which was in close proximity to the hotel as well.

At the bookstore, I enjoyed looking through all of the children’s books in search of some birthday gifts for my children. All three have birthdays within three weeks of each other – the first one at the end of February.

My 5-year-old daughter has announced that Jan Brett is her favorite author. She also is thoroughly enjoying reading and solving an “Encyclopedia Brown” mystery each night before she goes to bed. There were plenty of “Encyclopedia Brown” books to choose from.

Our middle child, our 9-year- old, has requested “The Girls’ Book of Glamour.” This book contains “how to’s” for everything from making bubble bath to how to eat spaghetti. For her birthday party with her friends, she wants to have a spa party at our house. (The book contains a “how to a host a spa party.”) We will see how that goes. Maybe I will just join in on the fun, my first spa party with 10-year-old girls.

But the best “how to” we discovered in the book was “How to be the Best Bridesmaid.” This was very appropriate as she is going to be a junior bridesmaid in her godfather’s (big cousin’s) wedding this June. In fact, as part of this getaway, we took a trip to David’s Bridal where she got fitted for her bridesmaid dress.

Remembering she is only 9, my husband was almost in tears as she stood with the gown on for her fitting. I had to remind him that it was not her wedding, and it would be a while before it was her turn. Regardless, it was a little heart-wrenching to witness her in the beautiful bridesmaid gown.

Back to books. My son and his friends have been reading the Percy Jackson series of books on mythology. They are fictional and in fact, I recently took some of his friends and him to see the showing of “The Lightning Thief,” which is the first book in this series.

I had not read the book, so my reviews were different than that of my son’s and his friends. I thought the movie was great. Actually, they liked it too, but were disappointed in its comparison to the book. They felt it was not true to the book.

My son had a book on his list, “Bran Hambric, The Farfield Curse,” written by a new author, Kaleb Nation. Nation began writing this fictional book when he was 14. The book is somewhat similar to the Harry Potter series. Of course, I, too, had to start reading it.

I write about books often because I have a true love of books, especially children’s literature. Reading is crucial to learning, employment, and enjoyment. It brings us on travels. In fact, if I came across a large sum of money, I would open up my own hands-on book store, which would include used books and new books. My store would also include reading tutoring available to anyone of any age. Coffee, smoothies, soup, and pastries would also be a part of my bookstore.

I hope that as the winter lingers on a little while longer, we all can enjoy some family get-away time, whether it be a day away to a museum or a trip via a book.