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Entries from May 2016

Trips Afield: Bradenton & Sarasota Visit To See Stephanie, Lucas & Vinnie!


This past Friday was a day we were looking forward to all week! Remember our good friends Stephanie and Tim, and their two boys Luke and Vinnie, from Virginia? Well, Steph and the kids came down to Florida to visit family and have some fun. Of COURSE we had to drive up to see them! They stayed in Bradenton for the week, and though money was tight, I told Steph I would move Heaven and Earth to be able to go see them. And we did!

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We got lost about two miles from their condo, because our GPS would not connect. I drove around for about an hour until we finally landed in the right development. When we arrived, 6-year-old Luke rushed out the door, bear-hugged Jack, and then ran back inside ignoring the rest of us. It was too funny! All five kids were getting along famously, which was great, since Steph and I had no firm plans other than to hang out and enjoy the day together. She wanted to go to the beach, and since I had lived in nearby Sarasota many moons ago while I worked at Mote Marine Laboratory, I suggested we go down to St. Armand's Circle and nearby Lido Beach. I thought it would be exactly the sort of fine white sand and low waves that would suit all of us.

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Four-year-old Vinnie was worried about getting sand on his feet and initially didn't want to go to the beach, but he was able to have some fun after all!

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Stephanie - one of my favorite friends in the world ♥

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You know when you're trying to take a decent candid shot of everybody (except yourself, of course, because why would you want to do that?), and everyone keeps looking away from the camera? Yeah, that kept happening.

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Lucas Wayne, showing off his way-cool, totally indestructible glasses

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I love this kid and his zest for life!

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Mama Stephanie and her boy-childrens ♥

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Of course, I took a few pix of my own children, but I can do that all the time. Vinnie and Lucas were my lens' focus that day!

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Look at that little nub of a nose! *Swoon*

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Jack River buried himself up to his, as Chloë put it, nipples. Er, uh, looks like his nipples are on his clavicle? :P

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Sisters eatin' sammiches

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This is my favorite picture of the trip. Or maybe ever. So cute!!! ♥

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I'm not sure what it is about this simple foto of Chloë drinking water, but I love it. I seriously love it.

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☼ ♪ ♫ The sun is hot. It burns all day. But I don't need no Bain de Soleil.

I'm on the sand. Girls at hand. I got secret plan.

The sun don't hurt, 'cause I got on a t-shirt.

I've got a Farmer Tan! ♫ ♪ ☼

(No one from my Durgee Junior High days - in Baldwinsville, NY - will probably be reading this; surely, they would remember singing this ridiculous but fun song in chorus!)

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After we finished up at the beach, we went back to Stephanie's condo in Bradenton and put Vinnie down for a nap. I stayed with him in the condo, while Steph took the other four kids to the pool. Not enough swimming in a day!

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Eventually, Vinnie woke up, so we walked over to the pool together. These five waterbabies had a splish-splashin' fun time!

I didn't swim in the pool, but I should have, because I quickly overheated.

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Steph was throwing the kids up in the air ... even my two big girls! Something I could never do, after the reached a certain size. She's a strong girl!

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♥ One more of my Virginia bestie, Stephernuggets ♥

And there you have it!

{From there, we raced home to meet Rob, who was having some serious neuro stuff going on. He'd had a migraine for a few days, and his other symptoms related to the tumor-formerly-in-his-head were acting up. I took him to the ER, and they treated the migraine but didn't do another MRI. His symptoms have since abated, but we'll still follow up with his neuro team as appropriate, this week. I hate when he scares me like that!}

Great to see Stephanie and the boys, and I was excited to learn that Vinnie can now wear cotton and linen and all the things! Like, store-bought things! After 4½ years of wearing only silk, cashmere, and/or wool, that's a fantastic development!




All Gave Some; Some Gave All


I'm just going to put the words my husband, 20-year veteran of the United States Navy, posted on Facebook regarding Memorial Day, for food for thought:

Rob Odette: "'On behalf of the Secretary of the Navy, and a grateful nation, I present this flag in honor of your loved one's dedicated service.'

"I've said those words maybe twenty or thirty times. I folded many flags before I presented the first flag. When I noticed an obviously distressed woman in her early thirties, I asked the funeral director if that was the deceased's widow, his next-of-kin, the normal recipient of the flag. He said it was, but the man who's remains we were laying to rest had made a special request that his flag was to be presented to his son, a boy about twelve years old. My first time presenting was to be to a child who no longer had a father.

"The last time I presented was to a WWII Veteran's widow, an old woman in a wheelchair who clutched my hands while I presented the flag and wouldn't let go. She just kept wailing 'Thank you! Thank you so much! God bless you!' before I could pull away as gently as I could to render a final salute. It was the greatest honor I had in my twenty years of service, and the duty I will remember the most vividly.

"Please have a burger and a beer. Please enjoy your weekend, but please pause for just a moment and remember the fallen this weekend."


Wordless Wednesday: Gerblets!

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So that happened Monday morning: Lucy and Chibbikins are parents! ♥


Feeling wordless today, too? (Late or not, it's still Wednesday here!) ;) Link up here with 5 Minutes For Mom to join in with the rest of us!


Jungle Island 2016

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Last year, I took the kids to Miami's Jungle Island near Miami Beach. Rob wasn't able to go, having had appointments at the VA all day. We bought annual passes for the five of us at the time, but due to various illnesses and scheduling conflicts, we had not been able to go since. On Saturday night, I found our passes and realized we only had ONE more day left to use them! Pneumonia or no, I wasn't going to waste the opportunity for another fun day at an amazing venue.

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Since we had all already been, I didn't take a ton of pictures of the critters. Instead, I tried to focus my lens on the fam and take interesting pictures of other stuff.

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This is a Florida gator, but have you heard the news that the Nile crocodile is here in our state? Not. Good. News.

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We didn't spot on an any actual "sausages" on the tree in front of us, but all of us found the idea of this tree trés amusing.

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Rob loved that the parrots and other birds were right up close and touchable in their environment here.

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We attempted to feed the large koi in the ponds, but they seemed not to be terribly hungry.

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Being a Miami Hurricane, I have a special place in my heart for our mascot, the ibis.

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The dorsal sides of my four favorite people in the world

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We crossed paths with quite a few large iguanas.

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Sophia loves birds and declares frequently that she wants to keep a parrot when she's older. My friend Cyndi has promised her an African Gray at some point!

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I could just watch my children all day. I suspect many mothers feel this way about their babies.

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Reptiles doing what reptiles will: basking in the sunlight

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The highlight of our last visit, certainly, was something few people will ever experience in their lives: hands-on action with rare Black and White, and Red-Ruffed, Lemurs from Madagascar. We had one more ticket for Robert to go into their habitat, which is why I felt it was imperative not to waste our season passes!

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Rob sitting, waiting for the lemurs to come out of their cage, reminded me of when we'd be sleeping and the Littles would wake up early in the morning. Especially on Christmas. Holy cow.

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Rob seemed to love the lemur experience as much as the rest of is did. Also, he kept talking about how he was scent-marked by one for the rest of the day.

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The rare, exotic jungle bunny

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A rare, exotic smile from Jack

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We also thoroughly enjoyed the bird show at Jungle Island, so we made sure to take Daddy to see that yesterday, also.

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This little guy was hoisting the American flag, to thunderous applause.

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A few of the birds who visited us at the show in the Parrot Bowl

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My friend, here, came right up close to me in his cage and let me take about a dozen pictures, mere inches from his red head.

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Just like last time we visited, the 'roos were pretty hot and lethargic, doing not much more than lying around in the shade. I didn't blame them, as I was starting to overheat, myself.

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I was able to get a few close-ups with this kangaroo before we left, however, and I wish we'd had the opportunity to see some boxing. No one volunteered to be a target, surprisingly!

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Languid large leopard, and a liger

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As we exited the park, before I passed out from heat exhaustion, we were greeted by this beautiful flamingo-filled scene.

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If you're an animal lover like all of Team Odette are, Jungle Island in Miami is a must-see. It's an experience you won't soon forget.


Tapioca Pudding Vs. Sundowner

Picture it: End of March or early April, 1984. I'm seven years old, and it's just before my mother died. I had no idea she was sick; maybe she did, maybe she didn't know either. I just knew my sister and I were playing in the basement, and we became hungry. 

Mom offered the usual choices, but nothing seemed satisfactory. Then she offered something new: tapioca pudding. 

I had never heard of it before! I was skeptical, but willing. She began to make it. It was from a box, probably Jell-O or something, but who cares? She thought we'd like it. 

Since it's the last thing I can remember eating before my mother died, I kind of put it and everything else related to that that I loved, on a pedestal. I keep tapioca pudding in a special place, and I don't remember eating it since. 

Until now. I'm in the hospital with a nasty case of mycoplasma pneumonia. It's the middle of the night, and since I have to eat small meals throughout the day, I became hungry. 

I asked the nurse for something - anything - to eat. She scavenged and brought me this small cup of tapioca pudding, saying "It's all I have."

Well. I'm alone, it's after midnight, and I'm starving. I decided to climb that pedestal and eat the tapioca once again. 

It was good. No, grand. Maybe the best thing I've eaten all day! But even better, I was privileged to go back to that 1984 place in my mother's kitchen, clinging to her apron, waiting to try this new food. 

That's a special memory for me. It's one of the few I'm lucky to have. I'm going to savor it for awhile yet. 

And maybe when I bust outta this place, I'll make some for my kids. From a box. In an apron. What the hell?


Wordless Wednesday: Heritage Horse Show

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Day One

This past weekend, Sophia entered her first equestrian show in Plantation, Florida. We arrived around 0745 on Saturday for her first five classes in the Hunters division for Beginning Crossrails.

[Yeah, yeah, this entry is supposed to be "wordless," but rules were made to be broken.]

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The tent where Sophie's stable, Miami International Riding Club, was situated

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Sophie's instructor, Daniela, tying her back number around her show coat.

[She was #398.]

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Almost ready to start warming up

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After a few canters around the warm-up arena, Sophie was ready for her first Beginning Crossrails Flats class.

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Anne-Marie and Meghan letting Sophie and Buddy out of the warm-up arena

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Sophia and Buddy waiting with Meghan, Anne-Marie, Delfina, and Dani

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Waiting to be judged in Beginning Crossrails - Flats

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Next up, Sophie entered the Beginning Crossrails jumping portion of Hunters.

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Sophia and Dani hugging it out after the Medals class

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Waiting with Anne-Marie to find out her standings in the five classes of Hunters she entered on Day One

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No matter what, Sophie was thrilled to have been at her first horse show!

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For Day One, Sophia received two 6ths and a 7th place!

~ ☼ ~ ☼ ~

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Day Two

Sophia watching while Anne-Marie tacks up Buddy

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Dani making sure the stirrup lengths are just right for Sophie

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Remember, Sophia: Heels Down!!

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Walking Buddy, flanked by Daniela and Anne-Marie, to warm up before her next five classes

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After a great warm-up in the practice arena, Sophia and Buddy were ready.

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Pats and smiles for Buddy

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I could tell Sophia was nervous for her second day, but she was all smiles just before entering the Hunters arena.

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She and Buddy took a 5th Place ribbon in the Flats portion of her morning.

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For enormous Buddy, Beginning Crossrails isn't much more than a step over the jump!

Sophia at Heritage Horse Show from Melanie Odette on Vimeo

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Look at that ginormous grin, greeting Dani for the first time after riding her Medals class! She knew that ride felt great.

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Anne-Marie giving Sophia a huge hug after Sophie learned she took 2nd place (Reserve Champion) in the medals class on Day Two. There were definitely tears for Sophia!

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Letting Buddy-Budster graze in the grass after an amazing morning

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Sophie rigged up her ribbon and medal after we arrived at home. [Missing: an 8th Place brown ribbon]

~ ☼ ~ ☼ ~

Feeling Wordless (or, well, not) today? Be sure and link up with 5 Minutes For Mom here to share your photos with the rest of us!

Thanks for stopping by!


Wordless Wednesday: Sophia's First Equestrian Show


So I'm not quite going to be "wordless" today, because I never am. You guys know.

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Our Sophia, 11, has been taking horse riding lessons at Miami International Riding Club for eight months. This weekend, she will be exhibiting her skills at her first equestrian show. The first things she needed were some bows! These were just the beginning; when I say that I got to work making bows, I got to work, y'all!

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Sophia takes English riding lessons, and she will be riding Hunters on Saturday and Sunday. We finally pulled her show clothes together, with some help from friends, and... ta-da!


Sophia and Anne-Marie, one of the showjumping instructors at Miami International Riding Club

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For the first time, Sophie riding Buddy in her show clothes:

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She's looking beautiful for her first show, no? Dani, her team instructor, Anne-Marie, and Celia at MIRC: We hope to make you proud, no matter the outcome!

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Rob and Sophie giving a little lovin' to Argentina on the way out of the stables Tuesday

Feeling a little wordless - or like me, eh, somewhat more verbose - today? Make sure you link up with Create With Joy this week! She's sharing a wonderful set of photos of her Maine Coon cat, Magellan, and a fun new habitat we might join her in making for our Maine Coon, Pepper, too! (Or Muffin, or Sugarplum, or Henry...)

See you 'round the Interwebs.


Sunday Stealing: Monsters In The Closet [Meme]

Link up here if you're playing along with this interestingly-named meme this weekend!

Monsters in the Closet Meme

Do you usually sleep with your closet door open or closed?

Closed, for no other reason than we have six - no, five now - pet dogs and cats, and I don't want anyone chewing on something or peeing in there in the night!

Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotels?

If I used it and liked it, I'll take a fresh set if it was supplied. I don't take things from housekeeping without asking for it first.

Have you ever ‘done it’ in a hotel room?

  1. Yep. It's the best kind.
  2. Where is your next vacation?

I really wanted to take the kids up to Canada this past February, but it didn't happen. I don't know. We haven't had a weekend jaunt to Key West in a long time; maybe that's in order?

  1. Have you ever stolen a street sign before?

Not in this lifetime.

  1. Who do you think reads these?

Everyone. C'mon. I win the internet. (Pfft. I joke.)

  1. Do you have a calendar in your room?


  1. Where are you?

Where the wild things are

  1. What’s your plan for the day?


It's Mother's Day. I plan to do laundry and the dishes. Maybe I'll make dinner.

Are you reading any books right now?


  1. Do you ever count your steps when you walk?

No, but you know the "Don't Step on the Crack, or You'll Break Your Mother's Back" game kids play? I still do that.

  1. Have you ever peed in the woods?

A few times as a kid; never as an adult

  1. Do you ever dance even if there’s no music playing?

I do. I dance all the freakin' time. I try to make sure I only do it inside the privacy of my home, but...

  1. Do you chew your pens and pencils?

I do chew my pencils, but I don't chew my pens. But. I never use pencils.

  1. What is your “Song of the Week”?

I don't have a song of the week, but I am kind of over all the Prince tunes my radio stations are currently playing. Sorry, Prince.

  1. Is it okay for guys to wear pink?

But of course!

  1. Do you still watch cartoons?

Sometimes. Bob's Burgers is my favorite (Netflix). Merginas!!!

  1. Whats your favorite love movie?

Pretty Woman

  1. What do you drink with dinner?

I can't eat and drink at the same time. Srsly.

  1. What do you dip Chicken Nuggets in?

I like these dipped in honey. Mmm...

What is your favorite food/cuisine?

What's better than a big ol' slice of New York-style pizzeria pizza? Nothing.

  1. What movies could you watch over and over and still love?

Dirty Dancing;


Steel Magnolias

  1. Last person you hugged/kissed?

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My 11yo daughter Sophia, and our wee Chihuahua pooch, Paco

  1. Were you ever a boy/girl scout?

I was a Brownie about 30+ years ago, before there were Daisies.

  1. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine?


Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Mama


Hey, y'all! I took a bit of a bloggy break while some shizzy was going down around here. Everything's fine, it was more like everyone got this yucky virus, I didn't feel well (still/again), and blah. Boring, nothing exciting.

ANYway, link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

Saturday 9: Mama (2015)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) Gamal Lewis got the nickname "LunchMoney" in 10th grade because of his round cheeks and because lunch was his favorite part of the school day. What do you recall about lunchtime in the school cafeteria?

First of all, I love that this song was chosen for the week's meme. LML is so fun! About lunchtime in school... I remember that I never bought lunch; I always brought it from home. And I always begged everyone's Lay's potato chips off of them. I loved chips.

2) His father and uncle were members of the band Inner Circle. Their song, "Bad Boys" was the theme to the reality show Cops. What reality show have you seen recently?

Other than Jeopardy!... None.

☼ Thank you, Sam! ☼

3) In this song, Mr. Lewis sings that his mama taught him how to put on pajamas. What did you wear to bed last night?

I crashed in the dress I wore all day. I was TIRED.

4) He claims he can't ever lie to his mama because she'll hear it in his voice. Are you a convincing liar?

No, way. I can't tell a lie to save my life. And I can tell when all of my children are lying to me. It's fairly easy, I find.

5) LunchMoney sings that his mama made him chicken soup when he was sick. Do you eat soup all year around, only during winter months, or just when you're battling a cold?

Almost never. I can't eat soup at all since my gastric bypass. No liquids and solids at the same time. Can't do it.

6) The lyrics tell us that when her son was hungry, Mama reliably whipped something up. What's the last food you prepared?

It's Mother's Day weekend, and I did not feel like cooking. I prepared myself to go to Wendy's. Does that count?

7) He also sings that his mama always made sure he had a few dollars in his pocket. Let's talk about you and money. Did you more recently lend or borrow it?

Hmm. I don't really like to do either. I cannot recall.

8) Mother's Day is for grandmothers, too. Sam grew up calling her grandmother "Grandgran." Did you have a nickname for your grandmother?

Nah, she was just Grandma, but she was awesome.

9) To celebrate Mother's Day, Sam is giving away her own mother's favorite candy: Hershey Bars. Would you prefer milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or milk chocolate with almonds?

Milk chocolate with almonds! I recently tried these and fell in love:

Ermagerd, so good. Very dangerous!

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Mother's Day to all the mums, moms, and mamas out there!