By Phyllis J. Lubin
“Why would you want to join? You are too young!” my mom said.
“Actually, I’m not. I am just the right age.”
“I still think you are too young. What will it do for you?”
“I can get a cute travel bag with my membership, and discounts at hotels–specifically the hotel we want to go to when we take Rochel back to Albany.”
I am a firm believer in availing myself of any perks that are offered to me.
As parents of a special-needs child, I discovered a while ago that we could qualify for a handicapped-parking pass from the village of Cedarhurst. Parking far away from our destination is often challenging for Yussie, and if the powers that be could make our access to stores a bit simpler, why not avail ourselves of this particular perk?
A person with a disability has a cheaper admission price to go to Echo Park Pool. Why not?
A great perk I discovered a few years ago was that Adventureland offers a free companion ticket for a child with special needs, in addition to a “cut the line” card that makes our trips to the amusement park much more amusing.
My newest perk discovery is that by reaching the mid-century mark I now qualify for membership in AARP. With my $16 fee I received a cute travel bag (more like a lunch bag), discounts at hotels, and a free doughnut with the purchase of a large or extra-large hot beverage at Dunkin’ Donuts–I like both beverages and doughnuts, so it’s a win-win!
With my membership to AARP in tow, my eldest daughter, Rochel, Yosef, Lea, and I departed Cedarhurst on Sunday, January 18, for our midwinter vacation. No, we didn’t get to go to any luxury hotel, but rather we braved the icy roads to bring Rochel back to SUNY Albany. Yussie had off from school that Monday, and both Lea and my eldest daughter were on vacation for the whole week, so we decided to make the trek–to save Rochel a ride on the Megabus and to give us an excuse to stay over in a hotel for a couple of nights. As usual, Leib couldn’t get away because of tax season, and Rivka had to be back at Stern College for the beginning of her semester, so we had to leave them behind for this adventure.
Sunday came and it was raining outside. Suffice it to say that the weather was not something I was really concentrating on while planning this quick getaway. I will invest the most time into finding the best buy for the hotel. I typically spend more money on the frozen meals and nosh for our trips without thinking, but my rationale is that since I save on the hotel rooms, we have more to spend for other essentials.
So after stocking up on our favorites from Brach’s, Seasons, and Gourmet Glatt (I like to spread the wealth) and then packing up our luggage and Rochel’s huge return-to-school duffel bag, we were ready to embark on our road trip. The bad weather was, surprisingly, a good thing in disguise for me. Many of my readers know that I am not a “speed limit” type of driver. No, I’m not a speeder (after all, I represent many people in traffic court and know better). Rather, I’m an under-speeder–if the speed limit is 65, I will be happy if I keep my speed up to about 55. With the icy roads, everyone was driving under the speed limit, so I was happy. What I was not happy about was witnessing so many accidents on the Thruway. When we arrived at our destination, I felt like we had made it through a war zone!
Our trip was successful. Rochel enjoyed the two nights in the hotel with us, and the Homewood Suites in Albany was good for us. With free breakfast (a vast array of kosher offerings such as fresh fruits, boxed cereals, coffee, juice, and yogurt), a microwave, full refrigerator, and even a stovetop burner, we were set. We had brought along DVDs to watch during the car ride, and found that the hotel had a DVD player for us to watch our movies in the room. With a bedroom and living room with a pullout couch in addition to a rollaway, there was ample room for all of us.
Monday morning, after our filling breakfast, we made our way over to Wal-Mart for some additional essentials. This was not an ordinary Wal-Mart; this was a Super Wal-Mart–actually the largest Wal-Mart in the United States. We were in heaven. For our afternoon activity, we needed some warm headgear and we found it there. In addition, we were able to find many good buys on products we didn’t anticipate purchasing.
By 11 o’clock Monday morning, we were ready to venture over to the Empire State Plaza for some ice-skating. Walking practically on ice to where the ice skates were being rented was a bit challenging, but certainly worth the inconvenience. I am not athletically inclined (other than swimming), but I was focused on making it around the rink at least once. Fortunately for us, they had beginner skater trainers–molded plastic walkers to help children skate. They are meant for shorter youngsters, which was perfect for Yussie. With a little bending, I found that the walker was perfect for me as well. It gave both of us the confidence we needed to scoot around on our skates. Don’t worry–I finally worked up enough confidence to make it around the rink while holding my eldest daughter’s hand.
After returning to the hotel and taking a dip in the pool, we were on the road again for dinner.
This past November, a kosher restaurant called Terra opened in Albany. For Sunday night, we brought frozen meals to feast on, and we made reservations for Terra for Monday evening. Albany is not like the Five Towns. This is the only kosher restaurant (and chalav Yisrael too) in the neighborhood, and we are all rooting for its success.
Monday evening, the owner, Manny, was on hand to oversee the dinner rush–and it certainly was crowded. Our food was delicious, and the ambiance was elegant. This restaurant is just up Rochel’s alley since it is milchig and it features a wide variety of pizza. Rochel is a staunch supporter of pizza. I am so glad for Rochel and the Albany Jewish community that they now have a restaurant in the neighborhood–a delicious perk for Rochel.
Tuesday morning, we enjoyed our filling breakfast and a dip in the pool, and then we packed up and ventured over to SUNY Albany to make sure Rochel was safely ensconced in her dorm room. After saying our goodbyes, we were back on the road–homeward bound!
Making the trek all the way out to Albany had to have a perk on the way home–a trip to the UGG outlet at Woodbury Common. Too bad we don’t have an UGG outlet a bit closer to home, and with the cold weather upon us, making a stop at the outlet en route to Cedarhurst was quite a perk. We were lucky enough to find boots for all of us (except Yussie) at a fraction of the full price.
And now we are all safely home. As I listen to the various news reports of the impending blizzard that the metropolitan area is bracing for this week, I wish all of my readers safety above all else. Keep warm and safe–and don’t shovel too much. v
Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children–Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea–and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.