A fitting end to the summer (part 2)

By Mir
August 14, 2014

I think I promised you some super-exciting content about our last visit to Costco. (I tell you what, this blog is worth EXACTLY what you’re paying for it. Such value!)

Before that, though, apparently I am falling down on my chronicling duties by not verifying that 1) my children went back to school and 2) they were wearing shoes when they did it. Here you go:


[Obvious from the picture: My darling vegetarian has thus far refused to let me buy her leather boots, which means she wears these crappy ones that fall apart and make her look homeless. I’m not saying she doesn’t rock that particular look—she’s pretty cool and all—but lord, child, let me buy you some decent shoes. Not obvious from the picture: Monkey’s shoes are, for the first time, larger than his sister’s (I think his heels are just further back).]

School is going well, so far. The kids share one class (out of seven) and of course the teacher said, “Oh, are you twins?” which delighted Monkey and enraged Chickadee. (“I TOLD HER WE ARE 20 MONTHS APART!”) We set up an Organizational Strategy before they went back (yep, just as anal as it sounds; desperate times and scattered children call for desperate measures, and all of that) and I made it VERY CLEAR that failure to write down homework assignments in their planners would result in loss of electronics. All agreed. And lo, on the second day of school, not only did Monkey miss recording a homework assignment, but I never would have known (the homework was on the board and he missed it; he wrote “no homework”) EXCEPT that it was in the class they share. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN. Chickadee glowed with a holy light of righteousness as her brother complained and handed over his Nook and iPod, then quipped, “This is a whole new experience for him. I mean, has he ever been grounded before? Don’t worry, buddy, you get used to it.”

There was much complaining and gnashing of teeth, but there haven’t been any more missed assignments. (Hi, my name is Mir, and I AM AN EVIL GENIUS.) I am knocking on wood and throwing salt around and all of that stuff, but I have a good feeling about this year, for both of them.

In the meantime, my job is to pack lunches. SO MANY LUNCHES. And with both kids in marching band this year and both kids needing all of the calories I can stuff into their skinny little bodies, of course we headed off to Costco to stock up before school resumed. Then we spent hundreds of dollars on ridiculous things, because that’s what happens at Costco. Ready? Here we go!

Things I Bought At Costco And Why They Are Ridiculous

A giant box of protein bars
In my perfect fantasy world, the children take protein bars on band practice days and eat them after school, before practice. In the real world, Monkey almost always forgets that he has one, and Chickadee only deigns to eat protein bars on alternate Thursdays when the moon is full (the rest of the time they are “yucky”). “Would you like a protein bar?” has become such a passive-aggressive punchline in our house, the other night I got ready for bed and then when I went to pull back the covers, I discovered a box of protein bars with a WOULD YOU LIKE A PROTEIN BAR??? post-it affixed to the top. Well played, Chickie.

64 ounces of maple syrup
I believe in real maple syrup. It’s very affordable at Costco, and I make pancakes or waffles just about every weekend, plus sometimes I buy the kids those Power Grains toaster waffles when they’re on sale. But ever since joining Costco, I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up two jugs every time we go, which means we got back from this latest trip only to discover that… we haven’t cracked the last two jugs, yet. Um. That is a LOT of syrup.

A variety snack pack of Annie’s bunnies snacks
Yay, Annie’s Organics! Yay, Annie’s Organics on sale! Oh look, this works out to, like, a quarter a pouch. Cheddar bunnies, bunny grahams… what’s not to like? Of course I started packing lunches and the first time I packed cheddar bunnies my daughter came home and put her hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eye. “The cheddar bunnies are displeasing,” she said. “Please do not give them to me again.” Further conversation revealed that they “aren’t nearly as good as Goldfish.” We take our tiny animal-shaped cheese crackers seriously ’round here. Thank goodness Monkey doesn’t seem to have a preference.

5 pounds of black rice
I’ve never had black rice. I was intrigued. The children are horrified. And then a few days after I bought it, my doctor told me to lose 12 pounds before I see him again, so I’m sure as hell not going to be eating any rice. SMART.

4 pounds of kiwis
Me: You love kiwi!
Children: We have never eaten kiwi in our lives ever. Are you okay?
(Does anyone have any kiwi recipes…?)

A case of Kirkland brand sport drinks
After years of WATER IS FINE! I have finally given in on sports drinks for marching band practices. A case of these bottles from Costco was, I don’t know, something like $10 for 30 bottles (way cheaper than Gatorade or Powerade). Since purchasing this case, I have packed the same two damn bottles—for the children who INSISTED THEY WOULD DIE WITHOUT SPORTS DRINKS—no less than four times. “I forgot I had it.” “I wasn’t thirsty.” “I just drank some water.” “I had a little bit, see?” So I guess we have enough sports drink to last us until… forever.

NOT TINY stupid bread
Who told me that you can get actual normal-sized Udi’s bread at Costco? I can’t remember. [Update: Credit to Angela!] But I finally bought a loaf of it. It’s lovingly stashed in my freeze for gluten-free sandwich emergencies. (No, I don’t know what would constitute a gluten-free sandwich emergency, but I assume it could happen.) Yay!

Two loaves of normal wheat bread for the kids
Guess who has since decided they’d rather have cheese and crackers/leftovers/anything but bread in their lunches, since then…?

Enough sliced turkey and swiss cheese to feed an army
I got smart this time, though, and divided up the packages and froze some of it. I’m learning!

A case of pudding cups
No one has complained about those. Yet.

A case of frosted shredded wheat
Because my husband has interesting cereal needs.

A watermelon and a pineapple
While unpacking our bounty, I referred to the pineapple as a watermelon (because I was looking at the watermelon, and also because my brain is mush). The children are now calling pineapples watermelons, because it’s fun to mock your feeble mother.

2 pounds of chia seeds
Because I enjoy making chia pudding so that the children will watch me eat it and comment, “It looks like you’re eating snot.”

I am not planning to eat those.

Under-cabinet LED motion sensing lights for the kitchen
These were Otto’s idea, and I was neutral on it, but now that we have them I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. For one thing, it really does make a different in terms of how much light we get on the kitchen counters, because our kitchen is kind of dark. For another, it means that walking into the kitchen in the dark gets you instant illumination, and I have yet to tire of watching Duncan streak into the kitchen in the morning and set off the lights.

96 Ticonderoga pencils
They are the BEST PENCIL IN THE WORLD, you know. I’m not sure we needed quite that many, but whatever. PENCILS FOR EVERYONE!

A giant bag of sweet potato french fries
“Why didn’t you buy regular fries??”
“Because I hate you and like to make you sad.”
(Costco: bringing obnoxious families closer since 1983.)

There was probably some other stuff. I don’t remember. At a certain point it all becomes a big blur. All I know for sure is that: 1) summer is officially over and 2) I am NOT going to buy syrup the next time we go to Costco.


  1. Amanda

    I laughed so hard at the “NOT TINY stupid bread,” that my family now thinks I’ve finally totally and completely lost my mind. If they only knew our plight.

    At least with the protein bars and sports drinks, you’re prepared for a power outage and the next stomach virus.

  2. Karen

    I have not yet found the NORMAL SIZE gluten free bread loafs!! Didn’t know they existed! Now I gotta go look … somewhere! Costso is a 40 minute ride when no traffic, not sure if it’s worth it. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a sandwich that wasn’t so stupid tiny.

    • Mir

      Our Costco is far, and we only go a few times a year. But to have a loaf in the freezer… yeah, I wouldn’t make the trip just for that, but I’m glad to have it!

      • Lucinda

        A few months ago our Costco made a big deal about their variety of gluten-free foods. It was part of their coupon book. The next month those items were gone, nowhere to be found. I figured maybe they sold more than they expected and it would take time to restock because that happens with Costco. Several months later the gluten-free items are still not there and now I’m just feeling like a sucker because Costco raised my hopes and then dashed them to pieces. However, the normal size Udi’s bread is usually there.

        • Heidi

          When you see a new item at Costco that makes you happy, check to see if there is an asterisk (*) on the description/price indicator. If there is, the item will only be available until the existing stock is depleted; it won’t be a regularly offered item and you may or may not ever see it again. So either stock up, or don’t get attached! (On the rare occasions Johnny’s Jamaica Me Sweet Hot and Crazy dressing and marinade shows its happy shiny face, I always have to pick up a few – it’s SO good with the Trident salmon burgers!)

  3. Jenn

    Skipping the rest momentarily to say please share your organizational strategies. My daughter graduated to level 3 in dance and still wants to play soccer so that means afternoon practices, evening classes and homework and dinner squeezed into the gaps.

    • Mir

      Jenn, they have these planners and in the past neither has managed to use them. This year, they are required (by me) to write down the homework in every class along with the due date, every day. (If there is no homework, they have to write that down. If they have homework they finish in class, they have to write that down.) Failure to write down results in loss of electronics privileges until the planner is rectified the next day. Both kids have some time to work on homework during the day, and both kids are absolutely terrible at figuring out how long they need to do something. SO: they bring the planner home, I check it. Anything due the next day has to be done immediately. Anything not due the next day has to be “strategy presented” and okayed. (For example: say they bring home homework on a non-band night but it’s due after the next band night… they have to agree to complete it that night rather than leaving it for the busier evening. Or if they have something not due for a week, they have to tell me how they plan to complete it.)

      Saturdays are sleep in, homework-free days UNLESS they’re behind or have a competition or other activity that weekend. Sundays, no free time until chores and homework are done.

      (I make no guarantees of how this will work in the long run. So far, it’s working. My deal with the kids is that I will oversee them for a semester and if they’re on track, in the spring they’re on their own to continue with this system.)

      • Kim

        All that pretty, and smart, too!

        • Mir

          Let’s not get hasty, Kim. Ask me in May how it worked. ;)

          • Katie in MA

            Hey, I thought the whole point of May was not caring anymore how the year went as long as it ENDED. Or is that just at my house? ;-)

      • Em

        Oh hey! Even the homework that they finished in class! Brilliant! My daughter seemed to do all of her homework last year “in class” and I had my doubts about the whole thing. Was there really homework? Did she really complete it? I want to know more about these magical assignments that can be completed around learning new material every single day ?

  4. el-e-e

    I LOL’d the protein bars prank. (Maybe related? I recently saw a framed print on Etsy that said, “I’m sorry for the things I said when I was hungry.” TOTALLY buying it for my kitchen.)

  5. Kelly

    We still have Annie’s bunny snacks – apparently mine like the cheddar but not the graham ones… I dunno. I keep finding more packs of them in the pantry….

    Of course they would eat the gummy ones but I am mean mommy and said those are only during the summer and refuse to buy them for school.

    Might have to hit Costco today – thankfully I live much closer than you do. ; )

  6. Diane

    For the meat eaters in the family, and for using up maple syrup a quarter of a cup at a time – maple brined pork chops http://quiltbabe8.blogspot.com/2006/04/other-people-must-do-this-too-i-hope.html

    For what it’s worth, I bought a number of boxes of protein bars to have on hand for quick snacks (diabetic, sometimes needing a carb boost at odd times). In spite of the fact that they are chocolate!! almond!! I find myself going to some creative extremes not to eat the protein bar that I carry in my purse.

    I ordered the motion sensor lights through your want not post today, to also use in the kitchen. It’s a galley kitchen on the interior of the house – having to figure out how to turn on the lights before I can reach the coffeepot (and thus wake up enough to find the light switch) is getting old.

  7. jodifur

    This might be the funniest post I’ve read in forever. And ever.

  8. Kim

    I have the ideal Costco – only 15 minutes away, blessedly uncrowded so there’s always parking, and we live in hippiedom so it’s packed with organic stuff (last spring, they brought in just about every product Bob’s Red Mill makes.) We pretty much buy everything there, and pack the freezer and garage. But we do a lot of frozen waffles/pancakes for breakfast, and my child upends the jug 4 out of 7 mornings – oy. It adds up. We’re having pouring lessons over here.
    (And our rule is Thou Shalt Not Buy Strange Foodstuffs at Costco Without Trying It at the Grocery Store First. Because, again, oy.

  9. Aimee

    Hey, at least you’re not planning on eating the socks! (Yeah, that’s my takeaway from all this.)

  10. Angela S

    Best day ever! Not only did I get a $20 inconvenience credit from Verizon to go along with the $15 credit they owed me (all for laughing and joking with the representative thank you!) but I got mentioned on your blog. I am the oh so lovely person who raved about the REAL sized GF bread at Costco. No, you did not mention my name but I think it still counts!

    Yeah I bought the yummy earth fake everything free fruit snacks only for my kids and nephews to tell me how gross they were because there is actually a banana shaped and flavored snack in there.

    Well played Chickie…well played.

    • Mir

      IT TOTALLY COUNTS (and I am totally updating the post, now). Thank you for the tip!

  11. kapgaf

    Since you, buyer of megatons of maple syrup and Angela, entertainer of reps, obviously have the right connections maybe you could persuade Costco to open a branch in France? As an obsessive freezer and pantry stocker (and that’s stocker not stalker although it might happen one day – if you hear footsteps in the pantry, could be me), I would be a serious customer, the French have wonderful food but organic, gluten-free, not so much. Thanks in advance.

  12. Erin

    Not a ton of protein, but these actually taste good/have lots of varieties and you can select vegan and gluten free – http://bobosoatbars.com/ – I don’t work for the company, but just discovered these (YUM!)

  13. RL Julia

    Your syrup problems are my kosher all beef hot dog and individual serving of applesauce problem. Four people live in my house – did I really need 48 hotdogs? Especially when only 2.25 people will eat them? Probably not.

  14. jwg

    If you tell us the next time you plan a trip to Costco we’ll remind you not to buy syrup. Of course if you remember to tell us you’ll remember why and then you won’t have to tell us.

  15. Brigitte

    Maple baked beans.

  16. Jessica (the celt)

    I just turned to my husband and said, “Mir’s husband has a thing for frosted mini wheats, too.” The sad part is that he totally knew what I was talking about and the sadder part is that he replied, “Otto? Huh, good taste.” (I think I’ve been reading your blog waaaay too long.) ;-)

    • Mir

      This comment brings me joy.

  17. Elz

    We get the twins thing every.single.day, but, in fairness, mine DO look like twins (22 months, folks).

    I should trade you the gighugegantic thing of goldfish I bought…oh…months ago. They multiply at night.

    • Mir

      Mine look a lot alike, too, and aren’t that far apart. But it was insult to injury of the indignity of having to share a class, y’know.

  18. Missy

    The quickest way to get my child and/or husband to no longer “like” something they eat constantly? But a bajillion serving box full of it at Sam’s. *sigh*

    We are getting a Costco in town soon, which will be closer than the Sam’s we have now, but not closer than the new Sam’s they are building. Have you been to a Sam’s? I know they are the spawn of the devil Walmart, but I was just curious if you could compare the two as far as price and quality of products?

  19. Debra

    Last year when I remarried and all our children starting at the same middle school together, we went to painstaking lengths to make sure my 6th grade son wasn’t in the same classes as my 6th grade step-daughter. They ended up in French together because there wasn’t any way around it. (We made use of the sibling homework busting strategy, very useful!) This year, I forgot to follow up on this request before schedules were published, so we just decided we’d see how it worked out and request any needed changes. Both kids got their schedules. Not a single overlap. Great, right? Nope. Both were disappointed not to have a class or two together. Made us smile – family blending gold star!

  20. Rocky Mountain Woman

    ok so my problem is that my kids are all grown up and gone and i still have a pathological need to buy stupid stuff at Costco that no one eats. The latest was a bag of frozen chicken nuggets in the shape of dinosaurs (the grandkids will love them!). Except I usually cook actual food when the grandkids are here so the nuggets sit in the freezer with their friends, the frozen cookie dough and get freezer burn.

  21. Daisy

    I’m still laughing at the watermelon pineapple confusion! We have a Costco in a nearby city, and I’m working on convincing my dear darling husband that we need to start shopping there. He does the majority of the grocery shopping, so he has to at least think it’s a shared decision.

  22. Reb

    How to use up kiwifruit … not kiwis, you northern hemispherers – kiwis are birds! Rare birds! Don’t eat them!

    Kiwifruit jam is really good, and you can make a great fruit syrup just by cooking mushed kiwifruit with sugar to taste. They’re good sliced up and cooked wrapped in wiener schnitzel or even sausage meat. Or if you really need to hide them, just chop them fine and add them to burgers, meatloaf, stew or the vegetarian equivalents. Basically, you can put them in anything that can cope with a bit of acidic sweetness, like any recipe where you can use apple.

  23. Em

    Prediction: by November you will be unable to find a pencil anywhere in your house.

    • Mir

      Thanks, Susie Sunshine. ;)

  24. Stimey

    Your children amuse me. I was a vegetarian for ten years starting when I began high school and my poor mother and I had the same shoe fight until I left home and was able to purchase fake vinyl Doc Martens and non-leather Birkenstocks for myself, thank you very much.

    Also, I can’t believe we live in a future where we can buy motion sensor lights at Costco. What an amazing dream world.

  25. Alice

    This was a great post! One possible shoe compromise – used leather ones? While I was fine with Payless-quality fake leather shoes for years, my older feet are a bit pickier. Plus, the environmental tally of the wear + toss shoes is a bit daunting to think about after a while.

  26. Lizneust

    Please tell Chickie that it could be MUCH worse. My younger brother (18 mos) and I attended the same very small college. My sophomore year, we both took Introduction to Philosophy. First day of class, we needed to pass off car keys and ended up sitting next to each other. When the professor was taking role, he asked if we were married. It was horrifying. We sat on opposite sides of the room for the rest of the semester.

  27. Ani

    Idle curiosity as a fellow bandie parent (mellophone)…I know from prior posts that Chickie plays flute, what does Monkey play?

    • Mir

      He’s in the front ensemble. :) Mostly marimba, some keyboard.

  28. Rachael

    Hey, if you aren’t going to actually use all 96 of those pencils, send ’em my way. 8 kids means a lot of school supplies. :)

  29. Debra

    Looks like I need to start driving up to college park to Costco. We have a Sam’s but I am not a fan. Do they have an on-line store?

    • Mir

      You can buy some stuff from them online if you’re a member, but the selection is limited. On the up side: free shipping!

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