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Black Friday Finale

This year was my last year of driving into Grove City for Black Friday shopping.  The dollar just doesn’t make it worth it anymore and I have zero desire to spend all my hard earned money in a Trump-run America! This year was very different then past years.  I started this tradition going with my boyfriend at the time.  Alvin and I would shop for hours on end until he was literally dragging me back to the car – me a little delirious.  After we broke up, I went with my sister-in-law Tammy and my best friend Kristi.  We also shopped until we literally dropped, laughing the whole time and having a great time!  After that Tammy and I went, just the two of us together having sister bonding time for the past 4 years.  This year, Tammy could not make it and I had the option of not going or going alone.  I am independent, I like my own company, so I packed the car and headed south to border!  I did the 48 hour trip (Thursday-Saturday) with just me, my camera and my wallet and I had an amazing time!  I did all the usual things in the usual order, just alone and I was completely okay with that!  This being my last year, I feel like I have perfected the art of the successful Black Friday trip and now that it is over, I am going to share all my tips with you!

  • ALWAYS BOOK YOU HOTEL MONTHS IN ADVANCE:

Hotels book up really quick for Black Friday, especially the ones within walking distance of the outlet.  I have always started looking around the end of February/beginning of March and I usually spend around $100-$120/night (remember this is America’s Thanksgiving, prices are inflated) at the Best Western that is right across the street from the outlet. I also always request a room close to an entrance.  You don’t want to be dragging all those bags and luggage’s up stairs or down long hallways. Save your strength, you will be exhausted by the time you finish shopping and will not want to carry all those bags any further than you already have.   You can risk booking later, but I have tried again in July/August to find nothing available.  The earlier you book the better – trust me!

  • PLAN EVERYTHING:

Because I know I am going to the outlet, I print off a directory and start highlighting stores I need to hit and stores I wouldn’t mind hitting up if I have time.  I also write out my Christmas list and start thinking about stores that will have what I need.  I go to the bank and get my American money (which is the heart breaking part) and put it in a separate wallet with my passport and shopping list.  I pack very lightly with layers because I don’t want to wear a heavy coat when the weather has never been THAT bad that I regretted not having that coat with me.  I check and double check everything because I would hate to be in the States missing something. I also make sure to get the addresses for everywhere I plan on going and writing them down.  I have a GPS and my phone GPS as back up – getting lost is NOT an option.

  • AGREE WITH YOUR TRAVELING PARTNER WHAT YOUR PLANS ARE

Thankfully my sister-in-law is a good follower.  She kind of lets me lead and goes where I go and does what I want to do.  I drive which makes it easy for me!   I can’t imagine if I went with someone who wanted to go somewhere totally off plan that I did not want to go to and did not want to drive to.  There isn’t that much around Grove City, so adding on the cost of gas to go somewhere off plan would drive me (personally) nuts.  The more flexible you are, the better!

  • LEAVE EARLY

I always leave the city by 9:30 at the latest.  I get gas the night before and head out on the planned route.  I always stop by Tim Hortons and grab a tea by my house and I stop in Niagara (usually around 11:30 at this point) to grab lunch (Wendy’s- junior cheeseburger) and a bathroom break.  I make it to the border around noon and I have never had more than 5 cars in front of me thanks to leaving at the right time!  I stop again in Angola NY on the hwy I-90 for another bathroom break and usually buy a bottle of water (yes this doesn’t help my bathroom breaks, but I get so dehydrated from driving so long). My next stop is my hotel in Grove City!  I arrive between 2:30-3:00 with enough time to prepare, nap and watch some TV!  The outlets opened at 6:00 pm this year – I went at 5:30 and sat in my car because I wanted a good parking spot so I would be able to dump my bags (see next bullet) without walking so far.

  • BRING A LARGE SUITCASE LADIES

Who wants to be stuck carrying bags (especially me who buys a lot)?  I bring a large empty suitcase that has wheels and when I buy something I put the bag in the suitcase – VOILA! No bags to carry.  I just roll my suitcase around, making sure to not run into anyone.  After I have a full suitcase I go to my car and empty the bags into the trunk and start all over again.  Once I have finished half the outlet, I drive to a different spot and continue my routine.

  • EAT AND DRINK

I always start off at the food court.  I eat an Arbys roast beef sandwich with a pop to drink to give me a sugar/carb boost.  I also buy a bottle of water to carry around because Lord knows I will get thirsty shopping.

  • TAKE YOUR TIME

Don’t rush.  I don’t go to the box stores because the idea of rushing and pushing and fighting isn’t appealing.  I have never seen this happen at the outlets.  People stroll.  They walk in and out of stores, they are polite even, holding doors, stepping aside for people to pass, and I try and lead by example.  I am patient.  This is not a time to be inpatient.  If you are, you will work yourself up and be stressed.  You have planned and prepared, don’t ruin it now.

  • GET A GOOD NIGHT SLEEP

I shop from 6:00 until about 10:00-10:30.  I am back to my hotel by 11:00 and asleep shortly afterwards.  You have another full day of driving and shopping ahead of you – why stay up when you really don’t need to.

  • TAKE INVENTORY OF WHAT YOU HAVE BOUGHT

When I get back to my hotel, I empty my bags, collect all the receipts and put everything I have bought into piles, one pile for each person I have shopped for and one pile of things I have bought myself.  The things I have bought myself I pack into my suitcase and everything else I write down.  I check off that list I packed and see if there is anything else I NEED to buy.  My goal is to always my needs completed the first night so the next day can be the fun stuff, the one-offs.

The next day you are going to start all over again, but by following the above points, you should have an ideal second day of shopping.  Take your time, have a plan, make sure to eat and drink enough to keep your energy up.  Black Friday shopping can be an adventure – it can be fun!  You can find some great deals IF you are prepared and take your time.

Anything else you want to know?  Send me your questions, I will answer each one!

It was a great decade of Christmas shopping, now I will have to do it in Canada – most likely online – I hate malls!

Enjoy my dears!

Love Nicole

 

 

2

Gilmore Girls revival

***Spoilers ahead***

 

Normally I would not review a TV show on this blog, that isn’t it’s purpose.  I created this blog to document my journey to motherhood and life with my little Koko.  However, as this journey has stalled and I will be waiting a while until anything happens I decided I needed to write about something mind-numbing, something fluffy, an opinion piece of sorts, so here I go.

Back in the spring of 2016, my girlfriend Alex and I decided that since Gilmore Girls was going to be bringing back the show for four episodes in November of 2016, we would re-watch the entire original series and then watch the new episodes together.

I had watched this series from beginning to end twice prior.  Once originally as they played on TV and once in 2010 when my ex and I were in the long process of breaking up and I needed to keep my mind occupied knowing disaster for us was looming.  Watching this series again, 6 years later was great!  I enjoyed every episode and couldn’t wait for the new episodes to finally play.  I had been #teamjess the entire series and Alex was #teamlogan.  Which one of us would see Rory with our chosen guy in the end?  We had high hopes!  We were both OGGF (original Gilmore Girl fans).  We didn’t just start watching, getting caught up in the hoopla – we WERE the hoopla!

Yesterday, Sunday November 27th, we got out the junk food and sat back for what was sure to be an amazing 6 hours of GG!

Except it wasn’t.  We watched episode 1 and we were bored.  Nothing happened.  We were reunited with a bunch of our favourite characters which was great, but we found out things that didn’t match with our feelings of what would have happened:

  1. Sookie left for six months to do some food thing or another (I can’t even remember because it was so boring) but she ended up being gone 2 years.  Sookie co-owns the inn.  I cannot believe for a second that she would uproot her three children to be gone for two years!  Her whole life was in Stars Hollow and for her to be gone for so long just seems ridiculous.
  2. Rory has a boyfriend Paul whom she has been dating for two years, but who is forgettable – literally.  Luke and Lorelei never remember having met him or any conversations they have had with him and Rory keeps forgetting that he is around and dates they have together!  Rory is also having an affair – with LOGAN *dammit Alexandra!*  Now we all know Rory has no problem having sex with another woman’s man – she did sleep with Dean when he was married to Lyndsey and she kissed Jess when she was dating Logan, but she is allowing the affair to continue fully knowing that Logan will not leave his fiancee for her.  It’s weird.  This relationship plays out through all four episodes (a full year) and seems so ridiculous. Don’t even get me started on the one night stand she has with a wookie in episode 2!
  3. Rory is unemployed.  She is in talks to write a book (biography) about some crazy drunk lady, but other than that she has no place to live, no regular paycheck!  When season 7 ended in 2008, Rory left to go write on the political campaign trail for BARACK OBAMA!  Remember that guy who became president of the United States of America??!!  It was never even mentioned – not once!  That became such a huge deal for original fans of the show because we know now that she would have had amazing experiences writing for the first black president!  For the writers to ignore that was a huge misstep.

We agreed that while episode one was boring, episode two would surely be better as all the main players had been re-introduced!

We were wrong again.  It was more of the same.  I guess we had high hopes.  We wanted these to be mini movies – full of drama or action or something!  But they were like regular, long boring TV episodes.  At this point we were extremely disappointed!  We had waited eight years – devoted months to re-watching the originals play out and the first three hours sucked!  Disappointment rang through her apartment as we ate our cookies, reese’s pieces and skittles.  Ordering a pizza would have to help right!?  I mean Rory and Lorelei ate a million pieces of pizza over the seven seasons together – we ordered Pizza Pizza and sat back to ENJOY episode three – summer.  This had to be good – it’s my favourite season after all!

It was better.  There was a better story line and the characters were stronger and things seemed to be happening!  However, Rory and Lorelei spent a lot of time at this pool that Stars Hollow never had before and there was a really weird, awkward musical moment that ran on about five minutes to long!  It was very artsy. Very flowery. It was fine though.  I accepted it because I was glad the story line was starting to get good – of course with only one season left they didn’t allow themselves much time to wrap up this good story line. Emotions were coming out – relationships were building – but where was Sookie?  Where was Dean, we were promised Dean!  Of course I was thrilled because Jess was back and he was supporting and encouraging Rory despite her stress!  I love Jess…he’s so damn handsome – can we go back to that??!!

No, okay lets move on.

We excitedly started episode 4 – FALL.  This was it – 4.5 hours in and we weren’t happy – would we be by the end of this episode?

We felt okay.  Why?  Because it left room for Rory to have a spin off show OR for more revival episodes. Luke and Lorelei FINALLY tied the knot and Rory FINALLY became a writer – not a journalist, but a real writer.  She wrote – Gilmore Girls, the story of her life and her moms life.  Great idea – Jess gave it to her which makes it even better!  In the end, the original writer ended it the way she would have ended the series all those years ago if she had been given the chance:

Rory: Mom

Lorelei: ya

Rory: I’m pregnant

Lorelei: shocked expression – cue the credits!

That’s it!  It’s over.  Who’s the daddy?  Logan (Alex hopes), Paul (the weird random boyfriend who dumped her via text in the final episode and you only saw once) or the Wookie (who she had a one night stand with in Spring – actually that’s impossible cause she would be very pregnant by the end of fall). So it’s Logan’s or Paul’s.  Huh.  Kind of uninteresting since there are no current plans for a spin-off or revival.

Four episode, 6 hours, 18200 calories later and Alex and I were left feeling empty, devoid of any real feeling.  We didn’t hate it, we just didn’t love it.  I teared up once in the final episode where Lorelei reflects on her favourite memory of her father on the phone to Emily and it was dramatic and really pulled on my heart strings, missing my own father so much.

So that’s it.  I’m not happy.  I’m not fulfilled.  I don’t feel like waiting 8 years for these four episodes was really worth it.  I want more.  I wanted more depth, more relationships, more power and strength and I just didn’t get it.

What did you think?  Let me know…

I’m going back to writing about babies…

Love Nicole

1

Plan A v. Plan B (C, D, E etc)

Throughout your life you will make a million decisions, have countless choices that will affect your life in one way or another and have to change your plans over and over again based on minute little details that you didn’t take into consideration.

For example.  I made the decision when I was a little girl that I would be a wife and a stay at home mom.  This was my goal, my plan.  Unfortunately, I never met “the one” and unless I met “the rich one” I would never be able to not work.  I had to readjust my plan.  I decided I would be a single mom and immediately started going to doctors, fertility specialists and buying sperm online (that was so weird I am not going to lie).  It became very technical and medical – not all like I planned, or dreamed of, but I had made up my mind and adjusted my plan.  Plan A didn’t work.  The fairy-tale – which is usually the “ideal” didn’t happen for me.  My prince didn’t exist, so I threw on my Sasha Fierce and became Miss. Independent.

Unfortunately, Plan B failed too.  I couldn’t get pregnant, it was near impossible.  I was sick of trying and failing and being poked and prodded with no success.  I had to make another decision.  Did I want to be pregnant, or did I want to be a mom.  I had to really think about this one.  After looking at the Pro’s and Con’s (really morning sickness, hemorrhoids and labor pain not considered) I knew I needed to be a mom.  Pregnancy wasn’t necessary.  So I looked into adoption and now (Plan C) I’m steady in my commitment to this process.  Three plans before one stuck.  Plan C is not a worse plan than Plan A, it’s just different.  It’s a plan I believe in, a plan that will ultimately lead me to happiness.  Isn’t that what we all want, a little happiness?

Another time my plans have failed, yet brought me success (and ultimately my reason for writing today) was in my career.  Growing up I was going to be an elementary (primary) school teacher.  There was never a Plan B.  Unfortunately, I kind of just assumed this would happen and didn’t properly prepare for it. I got okay grades, did a bit of volunteer work and applied to schools haphazardly figuring I was a shoe-in.  I was born to teach! Wouldn’t the Universities care about that…?  Nope, I was denied from each and every one of them.  Since I was already working for the city part time, I flipped my perfect education program to the American part-time program for Ontario students – ya I was THAT girl!

After graduating with straight A’s and excellent recommendations, I again assumed I’d get an LTO or part time assignment, but again, doors were shut in my face – and hard.  I applied over and over again to three boards, driving around forever visiting principals and meeting other “hopeful” young people begging for that one chance.  My opportunity never came.  I literally had to pick myself up from the floor, covered in tears and face a harsh reality that I would not now, nor most likely ever be a teacher.

I was fortunate, while some of my peers are still looking for their chance to break into the teaching market (almost a decade later), I found a job I love – not as much as teaching – but I love it all the same.  I get to work with people, help them create life and employment goals and most fortunately – get to watch a lot of them succeed!  I also get a chance to facilitate and hone my public speaking skills which is awesome!  There are things I miss about teaching, even about the idea of teaching those sweet little children, but I don’t regret my decision to change careers, to use my transferable skills to make me a success in the working world.

Now I am starting to think about what is next for me in this career?  Stay a caseworker where I am happy and content and could easily stay for the next twenty years and not have a complaint?  Or do I push forward, apply for a supervisor role or work in the Learning Centre?  There are pro’s and con’s to each.  I have never imagined myself being a supervisor. I never wanted to manage a team, but I could be good at it.  I am fair and friendly and confident in my abilities – three (out of the hundreds) of things that make a good leader, but at the same time I enjoy working with my clients and knowing that each day (which has ups and downs) will be pretty normal.  I have time, twenty years to be exact, before it’s to late to change my mind, but will being in a position of power be my Plan C?  The adoption Plan C is amazing and wonderful – maybe the career Plan C would be too?

I guess what I am saying, for anyone still reading through this gibberish, is not to worry about life so much, plan’s change, goals are adjusted and you can still come out on top, you just have to keep going and most importantly keep making plans!

Love,

Nicole

2

It was just a dream

I drove up to the Creche, hot and sweaty, the bus had no air conditioning and I was having trouble breathing in the stale, Haitian heat.  When the doors open, the kids and their nanny’s came pouring out of the small building in front of me with smiles on their faces, but I was only looking for one.  The face of my boy – my son.  I picked him out immediately, shiny skin, damp with perspiration, a big grin and tears running down his cheeks as he saw me – his manman (mother in Creole).

He jumped into my arms, there was a lot of noise around us, laughter and happy squeals as other parents around us met their children for the first time.  He whispered in my ear that he had been waiting a long time for me.  I pulled back and kissed him on the forehead and told him I had been waiting my whole life for him! We spent time sitting on a bench together talking and giggling, holding hands and hugging constantly while he told me everything I could possible ever need to know about him.

I knew it was a dream, he spoke perfect English; my beautiful child will not.  He was also older, maybe 6 or 7, and my child will be under 3.  But even though I knew it was a dream, it didn’t damper the elation I felt because this child, this beautiful little boy was mine and I loved him instantly.

Waking up with a damp face from tears I was sad and upset and immediately felt a part of me was missing, a pain in my heart that was so real it kept me paralyzed for a brief moment until I realized my alarm was going off.

It was time to start my day.

But what a dream…it was a really good dream.

Love

Nicole

1

What a week

It’s Thursday…this week isn’t even over and I have been specially blessed TWICE!  Some weeks are normal, boring even…some weeks I see and feel heartache and sadness, but this week – this week is great!

First, my cousin Matt and his lovely fiance safely had their second little boy delivered by C-Section at 9 pds and 15 ounces!  I know – a big boy!  James Gordon and I met on Tuesday and snuggled for well over an hour.  His newness and sweetness radiating off of him and of course putting him down left an aching that I never fully recover from.  I know that having a newborn is not a part of my journey – but sometimes, when I let me weaknesses role in, sometimes it still bites.

Second – and this is MY good news – I am ADOPT READY in Ontario, meaning my ministry has put the stamp on my home study and once my dossier is complete I can submit my final documents to my adoption agency for translation.  My first meeting with my practitioner was all the way back in January and now – 10 months later, I am adopt ready!  I know I still have a year or more of waiting for referral, but this crucial step is complete.  I can breathe a sigh of relief.  My government is not standing in the way between my child having a mother.

Thank you God.

Love Nicole

5

Seasons of wait

When I see friends whom I haven’t talked to in awhile, the standard first question is “how was your summer?”  I don’t have much to say other than – “alright”.  I went to the cottage, spent time with friends and family and waited.  Waited for reports to be finished and most recently (since the beginning of August) waited to be approved as ADOPT READY.  This has been another really long wait.  I know being a mom will require patience and understanding, but testing me through long wait periods of documents being signed and approved isn’t really helping me!

Once I am ADOPT READY, I can submit my dossier to my agency, have everything translated, give them a kidney and possibly a lung to cover the costs and THEN finally have my documents sent to HAITI.  Sadly, this is when the longest wait will be.  I will possibly wait a year or more to be matched with a child.  A year or more of my baby growing up in the Creche (Orphanage).  A year or more of possible Hurricanes destroying his/her land.  A year or more of them not knowing who their mother is.  Not knowing how needed and loved and wanted they are.

The wait is painful.  The only thing that makes is bearable is knowing that my child is there waiting for me too.  They need me to be patient.  They need me to relax and be calm and have my ducks in a line.  They need me to be healthy.  They need me to have my finances all in order.  They need me.  For them I will wait.  For them, and only them, I will take a breath today and accept that waiting is part of the process.  I will suffer through more seasons – fall, winter, spring and summer – with the faith that when everything is right and the stars have aligned – my turn will come.  I will get to be a mommy.  For now I will read the blogs, I will chime in on the numerous Facebook groups dedicated to adoption and I will wait.

Love

Nicole

2

The Climb

I am not now nor have I ever been a “Miley Cyrus” fan.  However, whenever I hear this song (the only one by her on my phone) I can’t help but dream off into space thinking of my journey to be a mother…

I can almost see it.
That dream I’m dreaming,
But there’s a voice inside my head saying,
“You’ll never reach it.”
Every step I’m takin’
Every move I make feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin’

But I, I gotta keep tryin’
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down,
But no, I’m not breaking
I may not know it,
But these are the moments
That I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep goin’,

And I, I gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on,

‘Cause…

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb

Yeah

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody’s gonna have to lose
Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side
It’s the climb

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Keep on movin’
Keep climbin’
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about—it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa, whoa, oh.

  • Google time play

I’m not sure if this makes any sense to you, I just feel like I have had so many obstacles ahead of me, so many hills I have had to climb and really – regardless of what happens in the end, once I hold my child in my arms – it will all be worth it.

Love

Nicole