Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Costco Challenge

Here's a riddle:

Q: What's crazier than going to Costco, by yourself, with a toddler?

A: Going to Costco with THREE toddlers, by yourself, in the RAIN.

That's not a very funny riddle. Although, it was a very funny experience. This is how it came about: We are going through a ridiculous amount of food these days. When I say ridiculous - I mean - we had to go out and buy a second refrigerator just to hold enough milk to get us through 2 days. On average, we go through 8 gallons of milk a week. That's 7 gallons for the babies ... and 1 gallon for Charlie & I. For some families, this might not seem like a lot ... but because we are still relatively new to this parenting stuff and rarely drank milk at all before kids ... we often wonder if it wouldn't be more cost effective to buy a cow.

Since we don't like to go to the store every day to buy more milk ... we decided that it was best to buy - in bulk - at America's favorite grocery warehouse. Aside from the convenience of buying in bulk - the savings are huge. A gallon of milk at the grocery store is $3.50. So, two gallons would be $7.00. A cost for 2 gallons of milk at Costco is $4.00 ... so, $2.00 a gallon. Over the course of a week, that's $10.50 in savings. Or, a 1/2 case of 82-count Pampers.

For whatever reason, I decided that we needed an outing. We'd been holed up in the house for what seems like an eternity since we've been sick ... our grocery supply was dwindling ... and we needed something fun to do. I should have checked the weather before I decided to go to Costco ... but that would have required preparation and planning ... and well, I thought I was well prepared and had a good plan - just by having a few clean diapers in my purse and a sense of adventure.

We get to Costco ... it is starting to drizzle ... and I am faced with the first puzzle of how I'm going to transport the groceries and the kids. The brilliant team of engineers - or whoever designs the carts for Costco - have already solved 2/3 of my problem. Several of the carts have room for TWO babies up front. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with the third. I search the inside of our van and find a shoulder strap from our bottle bag. Using my extremely limited MacGyver genius, I sit William inside the cart on a blanket and fasten the shoulder strap around his waist. Voila. Problem solved. At the last minute, I grabbed our camera from the car because I thought no one would believe me if I said I went to Costco ... by myself ... with our three kids. Besides, I thought photos would be a nice addition to the blog.

We make our way in to the store - the babies love the ride. We're happy, we're doing something productive, it's kind of gloomy ... a perfect day to stock up on food so we can hunker down when we're back at home. I pick up a few loaves of bread ... chicken ... loads of fresh fruit ... hummus ... our 8-gallons of milk ... laundry detergent ... ziploc bags ... a 3-pack of Pledge ... vitamins. I am stopped several times along the way by people that comment on my adorable "twins". When I point out that they are triplets it takes everyone a few moments to realize that there is a third baby ... partially buried under groceries, in the cart. Then they look at me with stunned silence and just shake their head. I don't know if I should feel offended, or flattered.

I make my way over and start perusing the baby clothes section for some 18-month fleece sleepers - - nada - - on to the cereal aisle. Around this time, as I'm loading the Cheerios and graham crackers in to our cart ... I get the first yelp from Elizabeth. Her time of having fun is drawing to a close, which translates to ... my "window of shopping opportunity" is coming to a rapid end. My mind starts thinking ... "what to do ... what to do ... almost done ... got to keep babies entertained." The yelping gets louder ... it's now a holler. William joins chorus ... Carolyn joins chorus ... I'm now pushing a cart filled to the brink with groceries and three screaming babies. People that were once looking at me with a big smile and saying "Oh, how PRECIOUS!" are now running the opposite direction. The thought crossed my mind to swing by the liquor aisle on my way to the audio-visual department so that while they watched BARNEY, I could guzzle Gin. But, if someone saw me - they might think I was being irresponsible.

My eyes are scanning the shelves and a heavenly light from above shines on my solution. I grab the largest bag of Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies ever produced. Somewhere, in the back of my mind ... I vaguely remembered that I'd once promised myself never to feed our children processed sugar (aka: junk food). The slightest moment of hesitation passes before I dig in to the bag. Silly me ... that promise I'd made about not feeding our kids junk food came about the same time I promised myself I'd never say "NO" or spank. Making those kinds of promises ... are like vowing you'll never get wet when you fall in a pool. The babies have never had a chocolate chip cookie before. There is at first a hint of hesitation ... a look of confusion ... and then sheer joy washes across their faces as they shovel cookies in their little mouths. Happiness ensues, again.

Not sure how much longer I have before my stay-of-execution expires ... I rapidly make my way to the health and beauty aids ... grab a few tubes of toothpaste, boxes of dental floss, three pack of Q-Tips ... and make my way to the check-0ut. By this time - they've comsumed about 10 cookies ... I've consumed another 10. I load up all of our goodies on the conveyor belt - - pay the cashier - - and make my way out to the parking lot. The spitting rain that had started when I first went in to the store has turned in to a torrential downpour. I should have left the van at home and taken our Ark. I've got a grocery cart full of food and babies. Right about now, I'm really wishing that I had some Gin in there, too. The good news is - this was a Tuesday afternoon. The parking lot wasn't too full and the van was relatively close. I zoom over to the car and making a "risk assessment" decision - determine that it will do the babies more harm than the food, to get soaked. So, I quickly load all three of them in the car. I get all the food in the car ... I start the engine and look back at everyone, covered in chocolate and laughing hysterically.

I don't know if it was the sugar that had them on a high ... or me, completely drenched. Either way ... all's well that ends well. And, I've got pictures to prove it.


  1. Jen you are the best! I was laughing about your guzzling Gin in the video section.

    The trips look great eating their Famous Amos' (good choice). I bet they were in sheer delight eating those sweet treats.

  2. Jen- I love the opening shot with the empty cart and the end shot with William covered by groceries. You rock.
    CaseyNY - from Baby Steps board.

  3. Jenna-
    You are my HERO! Shayna misses her triplet buddies!

  4. This is great. I feel like I was at the store with you. Good thinking straping Will in the back. You will be amazed what you CAN do and what fun it is. I did not know that you liked GIN? These are great times.
    I was just looking at pictures of the babies from Jim's camera of Christmas 2004 when they were little play things. And we still dressed for Christmas dinner.

  5. TO CUTE! Sounds like your having a lot of fun!
    PS You could've gotten by on vodka - looks more like water and odorless too!

  6. That really was a hoot. Remember the time you and I went to Cosco's ALONE.that was fun too. You are going to be published some day every one who has or had kids should read you, your another Bombeck...don't ask me who she is, I know I am dateing myself. Keep up the good work, they are adorable, AND...DO NOT HIT.
    Love Auntie

  7. Hi Jen! Those are some cute kids! My favorite picture is of the three of them peering through the fence/gate door. Of course, I'm too lazy to read anything the first time. Stay in touch.
    D. Clarke