Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The great Costco Adventure…… February 15, 2013

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shopping trolleyLast week I promised I would take the kids to Costco, in an attempt to fill the fridge and pantry with enough food to stave off 3rd world hunger in our house, at least for a short time, and keep the men-children temporarily sated.  So off we went on Sunday, to the land of the giants as my daughter described it.  I actually thought “Bunnings/Ikea for food” was pretty accurate once we arrived.

The first thing I noticed – everything about Costco is super-sized.  The trolleys (so you can fit all the stuff you don’t need in it), the shelves (they really do go up to the roof), the size of the aisles (to allow for the big trolleys), the produce on the shelves (you either buy massive sizes of everything or multiples), even some of the customers. 🙂

Our first task was to work out the layout and get ourselves oriented – no easy task at Costco.  Hats off to Bunnings with their numbered and labelled aisles and knowledgeable staff – you can always find your way to what you want.  Unlike Ikea – similarly well planned (by the Swedish masterminds), although in such a way that you just meander forward (or occasionally in circles), passing every item on the way so that you will invariably buy countless useless things for home.  A very different strategy, but equally effective.

Costco however, wasn’t quite so obvious.  It was a big open space, with the most amazing variety of stuff – I am told they even sell diamond rings! – and no obvious layout when we first arrived.  Apart from electronics we noticed the mounds of clothing in the middle (expensive over-runs), and eventually found our way to the general food area.  So we headed to one “end” and worked our way down the first set of aisles, the boys picking up lots of stuff they thought they wanted, then putting half back when they realised they probably wouldn’t consume that much American mustard in a year.

Naturally half way through, they got hungry, so they had a pit stop at the “food court” (surprisingly small compared to everything else at Costco), and rejoined me and Sister of a Man-Child at the Deli and Bakery end where we shopped the fresh food.

So what did we buy you ask, and would I recommend a trip to Costco?  Well, we were pretty clever, and really only bought stuff we know we already use a lot of – pastas, cheese slices, cereals, sports drinks, deodorant (with 3 men in the house, a 6 pack was a no-brainer), muesli bars, muffins and croissants (supersized of course).   And then mega bulk packs of washing powder (you don’t want to know how many loads a week we do).  The fresh deli, cheese and meat section had some very nice produce too – even Father of a Man-Child was happy with his Boscastle pies!

I kept reminding the boys it was only useful if we would eventually eat it, or use it, or could store it somewhere in the house.  Apparently my $385 bill was NOTHING compared to some of my friends, but hey we were Costco virgins after all.  I do plan on going back on a regular basis – the boys have been delighting in the overly full fridge all week.  And it would definitely be handy if you were entertaining a lot of teenagers.  Either way, it has saved me some money in the battle to feed hungry hordes (as does Aldi versus the other two supermarket giants).   BTW, if you are expecting super-cheap, it’s not.  You do need to know your prices, and then you will save money.

Next time I plan on going alone – just me and my supersized trolley.  I will take time to explore every aisle, and really see what’s there, and find the hidden gems and real bargains (oh and the diamonds).

It’s a shame it’s in Docklands, but I hear they are opening one in Ringwood which would suit me better.  Anyone who wants to come for a trial run, please let me know.  I am happy to take you on a guided tour. 🙂


Teenager starving in Kew! February 8, 2013

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plateAny mother of a teenage boy will be familiar with the relentless appetite of an adolescent, especially one that plays sport.  The “hollow legs” that just cannot be filled, the starvation that overtakes them 10 minutes before dinner, and sees them consumer several toasties before then sitting down to a full meal.

So the other morning, it was no surprise, although somewhat annoying, to hear man-child standing in the pantry complaining “there’s no food”!  Of course that’s not quite accurate, I am a dedicated mother who does ensure that we have food in our house – as I pointed out to him, you’re not exactly starving like some poor child in Ethiopia, they would be amazed at the variety and abundance of food in our home.  To be more precise and translate, it was not the sort of food he wanted!!

I mentioned that I had recently bought enough hot cross buns to feed the remaining Catholic population in Australia, along with other food for school lunches, and that I didn’t really think there was “no food” at all in the house.

Naturally the conversation continued (he would call it a lecture) as we got into the car for the drive to school for the 6am rowing start (yes, I repeat dedicated mother), that if there was some particular food items he wanted, perhaps he could go down the street and get them himself, or at least leave a list so the next supermarket visit could be spent buying his lordship the required supplies.

He told me he was busy with school, then rowing after school, then doing homework, and couldn’t possibly do it himself.  I told him I was busy getting up at 5am to make school lunches, fresh fruit salad, before going to gym and then to my own full time job before coming home to do domestic duties and late night work and would he like to swap!!!!

So the solution you ask?  Apart from sending him to Ethiopia for his next work experience project, I have suggested we finally venture to Costco.  He loved this idea, having heard about the vast packs of frozen pizza and various other items you can buy.  So I’ve got my membership, and recruited the entire family for a visit on Sunday.  Even sister-of-a-man child is excited about the treasures she might discover at Costco.  It seems there is no end to the “useful” things we might find in the sky high aisles that await us.  Do you think one trolley will be enough?

Anyway, I’ll let you know how our trip to Costco goes.  If it’s anything like Bunnings and Ikea, already I know I won’t leave empty handed. 🙂

I have written about their appetites before (The Locust Plague) and about how good they have it (Hotel Kew – Room for Rent)



Mother of a Man-Child: A space to call their own! March 18, 2011

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renovationWell it’s been almost seven months in the making but the boys finally have their space upstairs and our renovation is almost complete.  Since one of the men-children has officially relocated upstairs I couldn’t wait to share the news. 🙂

It’s become clear to me that renovations are a bit like childbirth – over time you forget how painful, disruptive, expensive, and time-consuming it can be (a renovation not a child), and next thing you know you’ve jumped right back in and suddenly find your house turned upside down.  Our last reno was 13 years ago, so we’ve had quite some time to forget the original trauma.

Once the builders moved from working upstairs in the roof cavity, which was relatively painless I must admit, to downstairs IN the house, we very quickly got sick of the dust, dirt and constant stream of tradies through the house.   Not to mention living with one small bathroom between five of us, having the new bathroom fittings and accessories living in our hallway for a couple of months, my daughters temporary bedroom (in the study) hosting hoards of teenagers on the PS3 every weekend, a port-a-loo in the driveway for the builders (yes I know the alternative is far worse), bathtubs and scaffolding in the backyard (very attractive) and a laundry chock-a-block with furniture overflow.

Add to that a couple of hiccups with delays in delivery of orders (the custom windows took two months to arrive), and our two new bathrooms look great, but we’re still waiting for the cabinets and basins (so bad luck if you want to wash your hands), and a few other things that just didn’t go my way.

Like making it to IKEA to order the new Queen size beds for the men-children (an earlier promise for our growing boys), only to find they were out of stock of one mattress (of course I need two, they’re not sharing a bed!).  So having queued at the checkout, then queued at the merchandise pick up counter, then queued at the home delivery counter, I have to go back and do it all again this week for the second mattress!!

Or having the electrician drop something on his foot the day he was supposed to come and do all the power, air-con etc, which meant the boys having moved upstairs anyway had extension cords running up the stairs with more power boards than Bunning’s.  I was sure we were going to short-circuit the entire house with the set up they had.   Naturally it was one of the few hot weekends in Melbourne, so no air-con and broken blinds (don’t ask) made it just a little toasty for them!

But all of the above aside, I’m delighted to say the results are fantastic and we are all thrilled with the new space.  The boys love their bedrooms, bathroom and sitting room.  They have Foxtel, their new flat screen TV, and PS3 upstairs.  The only thing they want is a bar fridge (yes you heard right) and they think they’ll be set forever!!  Oh and a dumb-waiter so we can send meals up and they can send their dirty dishes and clothes down – SURE!  Thank goodness we got a solid door at the foot of the stairs – they took it off temporarily and I was shocked at the noise travelling down the stairwell.  No more doof doof music and wrestling SFX for us – bliss.

Even the younger sister of the men-children loves her new bedroom (her brother’s old one), with so much more space for everything.  Just as well because the other day she ventured upstairs and the boys positively freaked out that she was “in our space”.   She wasn’t even allowed to sit on the new bed!  Naturally I’ve promised the boys the novelty will wear off for their younger sister, but I’ve also explained that they don’t OWN the space and told my daughter that whenever they’re not at home she can use it as much as she wants.  Peacekeeping skills also being a requirement of Mother of a Man-Child.

We’ve just christened the bath (as big as a small plunge pool – I promise in all other ways we’re water savers), and we’re still trying to fill the fantastic under stair storage area (okay, cheap thrills I know).   I’m hoping the shutters will only be six weeks on a slow boat from China, or the boys better get used to early morning starts once daylight savings ends. 🙂

So if anyone is taking the plunge and wants some reno tips, let me know.  Sadly I’ve developed some amazing project management skills in the absence of those promised by the builder, so I could be of use to you.