Friday, March 27, 2015

Fifteen Things No Parent Should Have To Say To Their Teen Daughter

     I have two adult daughters who are the light of my life, but I have to admit---their teen years were not the brightest. I could have done without the arguments over the boys they dated, the clothes they wore or the fact that they mastered crawling out of a bedroom window late at night without disturbing the dogs.

     Any parent who makes it through their child's teen years unscathed deserves a metal of honor. Perhaps more so if they've been able to successfully raise daughters.

     There are certain things that no parent should EVER have to say to their little darlings once they've transitioned from the tea party, dress-up stage to Cyndi Lauper's girls-just-wanna-have-fun stage. Although the parent may feel they have a handle on raising their teen girl, it's inevitable that one or all of the following lines will be uttered from their lips at one time or another:

*Drop that hem about four more inches before you leave the house.

*You want to put a tattoo where?

*I know you consider twerking a skill, but that still doesn't mean you should dance like that in public.

*You'll need to buy another cell phone just to store all your bathroom selfies.

*Of course you won't gain five pounds from eating three Milk Duds at the movie theatre.

*No, I'm not leaving work just to bring you a tampon at school.

*You could save a lot of money by actually washing your clothes instead of buying new ones to avoid doing laundry.

*There's a great deal on Amazon right now for chastity belts.

*No, you're not allowed to get your belly button, nose or nipples pierced.

*You're not going to experience life on the back of a motorcycle until you're over twenty-one.

*Yes, there really is such a thing as too much eye liner.

*I don't care how cute he is---if his I.Q. matches his shoe size, you can't date him.

*No, you won't be scarred for life by scraping old food off the dishes before you load them into the dishwasher.

*If the clock strikes twelve and you're not home, your car won't turn into a pumpkin but your social life will turn into the black hole while you're grounded.

*No, you're not allowed to use your college loan money for a Brazilian butt lift.

     I'm proud to say that I survived raising two teen girls----despite a few tattoos and piercings along the way. Thank God for BOGO sales on chastity belts!


Want more Meno Mama? This week, my article, "The Invisible Generation," is up on The Huffington Post.  You can read it here:

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fly On The Wall In A Party Zone

    Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Fourteen bloggers are participating in today's group posting with their tell-all accounts of what really goes on behind the closed doors of their homes.

     This past month, the Doyle house has been in the party zone….because that's just how my crazy family rolls. There's something to be said about sharing new and embarrassing experiences with the ones you love.

     First up was a "Bicycle Pub Crawl" in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. You might be thinking of a group of people on bikes, pedaling from one pub to the next. Not quite. This was one GIANT bike that held twelve riders (six on each side with a bar in the middle). Our seats faced one another across the bar and our tour guide sat up front to steer the bike.  Each seat had its own set of pedals and a cup holder so that we could pedal our way downtown at three miles per hour while drinking libations.  Loud music was pumped out of speakers attached to the bike's roof as we pedaled from pub to pub.

     After two hours, I understood what the "crawl" portion of the tour meant. No one wanted to pedal on the bike once the beer kicked in. I sat back and let the minions do all the work. Isn't that what adult children are for? A few, unfortunate family members were left to do all the pedaling (which explains why we stalled on the railroad tracks and held up traffic). I haven't laughed that hard in a long time, and I look forward to doing another Bicycle Pub Crawl in the VERY near future.

     Our next family fun adventure took place at the annual Florida Renaissance Festival. We've been attending these events for more than fifteen years, and my grown kids are now relieved that I no longer badger them to squeeze into Robin Hood tights or fairy costumes. Where else but a renaissance festival can you find vampires, zombies, wenches and royalty sitting side by side at a lunch table? "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!!"

     There was nothing more enchanting for us than watching a jousting match while a nearby vendor shouted, "Booze on a stick!" "Fried Twinkies!" "Get your hot turkey legs right here!" (obviously they didn't have Jenny Craig back in the Renaissance days). My family decided that calories didn't count at the festival, and we didn't feel an ounce of guilt for scarfing down large quantities of kettle corn, fried fish and onion rings.

    A few weeks ago, we attended a celebration dinner at the local Lebanese restaurant. The lamb kabobs were outstanding, but once the belly dancer started circulating the room, I knew we'd come to the right place for a party. And it turned out to be the BEST place for some embarrassing photos to be taken.  The men were pulled from their seats by the belly dancer and they tried in vain to keep up with the woman's hip gyrations. Even funnier was watching my husband do his best belly dancing imitation and getting stuck on the floor when his knees refused to cooperate.

     Last but not least, the month rounded out with a special visit from one of my favorite blogger friends, Lisa Newlin, who writes the hilarious blog, Lisa Newlin Seriously? We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the backyard garden and chatted for hours. Lisa is one of the funniest writers I know, and needless to say, there was a lot of laughter around the fire pit that night. Best of all---she witnessed my husband's awesome dance moves….and I doubt she will ever be the same.

     What will the next month bring us? Who knows…but I'm betting it will all be fun…. Doyle style.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:                          Baking In A Tornado                          Spatulas on Parade                          Follow me home                          Menopausal Mother                        Stacy Sews and Schools                                   Battered Hope                                  Just A Little Nutty                                        The Momisodes                            Someone Else’s Genius                        The Sadder But Wiser Girl                            Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                                Disneyland in Kentucky                            Juicebox Confession                      Searching for Sanity                                      Go Mama O

Friday, March 13, 2015

Blind As A Rhino

     It started with a recipe. I misread the amount of flour that was to go into a cake and added too much of it to the batter. That night, I served a frosted hockey puck to my dinner guests. I was certain the mistake was due to my lack of attention while baking. Note to self: Do NOT watch "America's Hottest Firemen" on cable TV while making a cake.

     There were other slip-ups that soon followed….little things I stubbornly ignored, such as squinting while reading a book. Or leaning over the car steering wheel like the Hunchback of Notre Dame just so that I could see the road beyond my dashboard. It wasn't until I backed my van into a telephone pole one rainy afternoon that I knew it was time to face the painful truth: MY MOTHER LIED ABOUT THE CARROTS.

     I really couldn't blame Mom for feeding me an abundance of carrots when I was young. The myth that they help our vision dates back to WWII with the British Royal Air Force. They attributed the success of their pilot's night vision during German reconnaissance missions to the vast consumption of carrots by their airmen. Perhaps if they had consumed mass quantities of cauliflower instead of carrots, they may have needed less fuel to get their planes off the ground.

     It was my love for books---and the fact that I was struggling to read the small print---that prompted me to purchase a pair of glasses from the drugstore (it was either that or buy all my romance novels in Braille). This tactic worked for a little while until everything around me became slightly fuzzy. I had trouble reading the numbers on my cell phone, and instead of dialing my gynecologist, I called the pest control guy to complain about my irregular periods. My typing skills had also diminished considerably, and the emails I sent out were often questioned by the recipients: "When did you start calling your son Zarf?" "What do you mean you ate the dentist?". My husband had already threatened to enroll me in the Helen Keller Institute For Typing if I didn't do something about my poor eyesight. I finally admitted that he had a point when I could no longer tell if I was petting the family cat or my uncle's toupee. It was time to find an optometrist.

     After having my eyes dilated by the doctor, I strained to read a chart that was a mile away and filled with ridiculously small letters. By the end of my appointment, I had two sets of glasses; one for reading, and one for driving.

     It wasn't long before I was stockpiling glasses of various strengths----some for working on the computer, others to watch TV, and another pair for walking the dogs at night. But no matter how many pairs of glasses I accumulated, I lost them as quickly as I lost my socks every time I did the wash.

     Fed up with wearing (and losing) my glasses, I returned to the optometrist's office to be fitted for contacts. I learned how to insert the flimsy lenses into my eyes and returned home, optimistic that I'd solved the problem of my glasses disappearing into the same black hole that my missing socks were orbiting.

     It was all fun and games until it came time to remove the lenses. The harder I tried to slide them out, the farther they slipped under the folds of my eyelids. Panic set in when both contacts disappeared into the caverns of my eye sockets. You know what true love is? A man who uses a magnifying glass and a mini flashlight to probe his wife's eyeballs for missing lenses.

     Ten minutes and two scratched corneas later, I swore off contacts and decided to live my life as a blind mole. My only comfort was in knowing that at least my eyesight was a step up from the rhinos, who are notorious for attacking trees and large rocks due to their poor vision.

     Living life in a blur became too difficult ( I was tired of walking around with bruised knees from walking into furniture) and eventually I caved, buying more glasses along with several pairs of brightly colored contacts. I needed to be prepared in case I was forced to go on another eye expedition in search of my elusive lenses.

     The way I see it, putting up with lost glasses and slippery contacts is worth it to be able to see the world clearly again. And I may add a few more carrots to my diet, just to be on the safe side.

Friday, March 6, 2015

"Why Did You Buy This?" Twenty Birthday Gift Fails

      When my husband celebrated his fortieth birthday, he received quite an array of "Over The Hill" gifts---denture cream, thick-lensed eye glasses, fiber pills, hemorrhoid cream, a plastic cane and a bottle of Gas-X. Luckily, when I turned forty, people were much kinder. I received mostly wine and imported chocolates (my gal pals know me so well).  But not everyone is this fortunate. We all have that relative or friend who has absolutely NO CLUE what to give as a gift, so they try to find something clever. Clever does not always mean fun. Sometime clever means, "I wouldn't be caught dead in this thing and it's going in our next garage sale." Yes, I know it's the thought that counts and that I should be grateful…. but sometimes I have to wonder what my friends and family were thinking while they were shopping. Do I look the the type of person who would want a statue of a grizzly bear gnawing on a salmon in the middle of my living room?  Or a pink bunny shower curtain? Just hand me a roast beef sandwich and I'll be happy.

     Here are some gifts that NO ONE wants to unwrap on their birthday, but if you have a few "frenemies" with upcoming birthdays, then this might be your go-to list.

1. A toilet plunger with a big bow tied around it. What does this say about the person you're giving it to?

2.  A large cookbook for eating healthy and losing weight. Add a scale to the package and you might just lose your friend for good.

3.  Candles shaped like zoo animals. Watching the head of a giraffe melt into a pool of wax is rather disturbing.

4.  A buy-one-get-one-free deal for a flu shot. Skip it. They'd probably rather have a different kind of shot….like the one that comes in a small glass and feels like fire going down your throat.

5. Sky diving tickets. This makes a great gift if your friend is an adventurous daredevil. A person with a healthy fear of heights? Not so much. You'll need to include an oxygen mask and a defibrillator.

6.  A gift certificate to the "Kinky & Stinky Sex Toy Shop." I shouldn't have to explain why this is wrong on so many levels.

7. Two nights at a bed & breakfast….in Teheran.  It's fine to travel around the world on your birthday, but if you expect to celebrate another one next year, stay far, far away from this place.

8.  A pair of Spanx.  See item #2 above.

9.  Tickets to the Feline Frenzy Cat Show.  This might be an interesting experience if the recipient  fills their pockets with tuna and sits in the front row.

10.  A Groupon discount to attend a yodeling contest.  While you're at it, why not throw in an Alpine horn so that the person who receives this gift can star in the next Ricola commercial?

11.  Precious Moments Figurine. Unless your friend is in her seventies and addicted to the QVC shopping network, this item will surely end up in a garage sale.

12.  Underwear from a consignment shop. No. Just….no.

13.  A faux Picasso painting bought from a neighbor's yard sale. Save your two bucks and coax your four-year-old to finger paint your friend's portrait.

14.  A police siren/taser alarm clock.  If the person who receives this gift doesn't jump out of bed after the first 30 seconds of the siren, the clock guarantees to taser them awake. Great incentive not to be late for work.

15. Creepy Clown Lantern. Items like this are the reason so many children end up on a psychiatrist's couch when they're adults.

16.  A Do-It-Yourself-At-Home colonoscopy kit.  If you're giving someone this gift, be sure to include bathroom cleaning supplies. And an air freshener.

17.  A sequined zebra print hat with matching striped vest. This is fine as long as the recipient isn't planning an African safari. A jaguar might mistake them for wild game.

18.  Mooing cow in a can. The only person who might appreciate this gift is a homesick, transplanted farmer stuck in New York City.

19. Onesie pajamas with drop seats…for adults. Be sure to add an adult-sized bottle, bib and pacifier to enhance this gift.

20.  A misshapen coffee mug that resembles an alien's head or an unidentifiable animal. Just because you made the mug in your last ceramics class doesn't mean you can pass it off as a piece of contemporary art.

     If you receive any of these obnoxious presents on your birthday, look on the bright side---they can always be sold in a garage sale or re-gifted at your next "Secret Santa" holiday office party. Who wouldn't appreciate an oil painting of Moby Dick swallowing a ship or a pair sequin kitty underwear?

Want more Meno Mama? This week I'm on Humor Outcasts sharing what's in my SPAM folder!   Read it here:




Friday, February 27, 2015

Station Wagons, Sunburns And Suburbia

     We're known as the "Baby Boomer" generation, but I prefer to think of people my age as the "Live and Learn" generation. We threw caution to the wind when we were young and tested the boundaries every chance we had to prove our invincibility to the world. We slept in cribs that were covered in lead based paint, rode bikes without helmets and consumed enough penny candy from the corner drugstore to fall into a sugar coma.

     Our Weekends were spent at beaches, lakes, and public pools without the protection of sunscreen lotion. Suntans were the norm and burns were treated with the smelly sap from an aloe plant.

     We didn't worry too much about what we ate---our food didn't come with nutrition labels listing the number of calories per serving or percentages of fat. We ate butter guilt-free in an age when words such as "triglycerides" and "cholesterol" were as alien to us as the moon.

     We rode in the back of station wagons without seat belts, and played games on the floorboards of cars. Our parents smoked as they drove (often with the windows rolled up), because no one knew that cigarettes caused lung cancer.

     And yet, we survived.

     There are so many memories from my childhood that my kids will never experience, which I'm pretty sure they're thankful to have missed. To them, a world without internet, cable TV, video games, cell phones and microwaves equates to living in a cave and communicating with rocks and sticks. It's beyond their comprehension how a family of six could share a single rotary phone, especially one that had a party line. And sadly, they will never know the joy of cramming six sweaty people into a telephone booth on a hot summer day.

     What else have our children missed? The thrill of dropping off a roll of film from a Kodak Instamatic and counting down the days before the developed prints are ready from the local camera store. Luckily, there was no such thing as the internet back then, so all those incriminating photos we took from prom night and spring break remained hidden in the back of our closets.

     Remember drive-in theaters? There's still a few around in rural areas, but for the most part, they've gone the way of the dinosaurs. There was nothing more fun than to pack the Pontiac GTO with a cooler of food, some blankets and a few friends to watch a movie under the stars with a crackling speaker hooked to the car window.

     Sundays were a day of rest rather than a day spent bargain hunting at the local mall. When I was young, the only place in town that was open had a cross above its door, and the majority of our friends were sitting in its pews. Those lazy afternoons were perfect for reconnecting with family over a rousing game of Monopoly. It was also an opportunity to discover how ruthless your siblings could be when it came to buying up prime property on Boardwalk and Park Place.

     Our television programs were very different from the ones that kids watch today. The shows that aired were wholesome and entertaining. Granted, many of the TV sets in American homes were limited to three channels and adorned with rabbit ears wrapped in tin foil, but at least the shows reflected strong family values. Back then, there was no such thing as a "couch potato" since remote controls had yet to be invented.

     Today's kids will never know the cushion of safety we felt from the world outside of our small slice of suburbia. Front doors and car doors remained unlocked, and bicycles could be left out on the lawn overnight without worrying that they might be stolen. As children, we had more freedom to explore the neighborhood with our friends and could play at the park until dusk without fear of being abducted.

     Handwritten letters have all but disappeared as a form of communication these days. Thanks to technology, the messages our kids send to friends are  nothing more than abbreviated texts. There's something to be said about a six page, handwritten letter from a long distance friend who cared enough to take the time to write it.

    Forty years ago, "Google" couldn't be found in the Webster's Dictionary, and "Yahoo" was something cowboys yelled during a cattle drive. School projects were researched with thick books from the public library rather than by the click of a mouse. World Book Encyclopedias lined the shelves of many homes, and term papers were pounded out on a Smith Corona typewriter.

    There were no Starbucks, ATMs or iPads, but we grew up appreciative of what we had. Today's younger generation may have all the technological advantages that we could only dream of while watching The Jetsons, but I wouldn't trade it for the simple pleasures I had while growing up. But it sure is nice to surf the net while sipping on an ice cold frappuccino…..

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Invisible Generation.

In honor of the International Day of Compassion, I'm taking part in a group posting for the "1000 Voices Speak For Compassion." There are over 1000 writers from around the world participating in this project today in an effort to spread compassion across the globe. I chose a topic that is close to my heart and one that needs to be addressed as a reminder to be kind to the people who deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Late one night in mid December, I stood in the check-out line at a Target store to purchase several children's toys for a holiday fundraiser. The line was moving slowly, and the people ahead of me were grumbling about the cashier's inability to move things along faster. I understood their frustration---my feet ached from being on them all day and I desperately wanted to be home in my cozy bed.

When it was finally my turn to check out, I was startled to see an elderly woman hunched over the cash register. Her expression was one of weariness and defeat after listening the harsh criticisms from the shoppers in front of me. As she carefully scanned the toys I'd selected, I couldn't help but wonder what circumstances in life had made it necessary for this woman to work through the night in a busy department store. I knew her feet had to hurt far worse than mine, and that she deserved to be home resting rather than putting up with the verbal abuse from rude customers.

After ringing up my purchase, the elderly woman said that she hoped the children I'd bought the gifts for would love their new toys, and with a tired smile, wished me a Merry Christmas. Walking out to my car that evening, I felt like a heavy rock was lodged deep in my belly.

 I thought about the woman for days afterwards. Would she need to put in extra hours at work through the holiday season just to make ends meet? How many more times would she be forced to endure the lack of common courtesy from impatient customers?

Whatever happened to compassion and respect for the elderly?

Although we live in a youth-oriented society, there's a quiet generation of people who are being blatantly shunned and abused. They are the "invisible" generation; the elderly among us who are often regarded as feeble-minded and lacking in the ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way. This ageist attitude has robbed senior citizens of their self-worth, leaving them the victims of prejudice and disrespect. Compassion, courtesy and respect have gone by the wayside.

 Until we walk in their shoes, it's hard to imagine the quality of life that our elderly face. Their financial situations are often compromised by the death of a spouse, rising medical bills, and a Social Security allotment that's too small to cover the cost of living.  Societal ideologies have contributed to the belief that the elderly are unable to function efficiently, and consequently, they're excluded from the very thing they need most---intergenerational socialization.

I'm ashamed to admit that when I was in my early twenties, I was completely self-absorbed and had absolutely no interest in my elders. For several months, my grandmother lived with us when she was incapable of living by herself. My mother was solely responsible for feeding her, dressing her and changing her adult diapers. I was too busy having fun with my friends to bother asking if my mother needed help. On the few occasions that she did ask me to watch my grandmother so that she could run  errands, I balked at the idea of caring for a woman in diapers.

I cringe now when I think back on those days. I watched my mother fight tears of frustration every time she had to lift my grandmother out of bed, or continually remind her where she was once senility crept in.

And I did nothing to ease her burden.

I look at my mother now, a widow in her mid-eighties, and I marvel at her bravery and strength. But this doesn't stop me from worrying about her every time she steps out of her home. Is she invisible to others? Do impatient drivers cut her off on the highway and yell at her as they speed by? Do people ignore her when they see her struggling to lift heavy bags from the grocery store into her car? Is she taken advantage of by scam artists who view her as a vulnerable, elderly woman? My mother is intelligent and fiercely independent, but it hurts my heart to think of someone ignoring her or mistreating her in any way.

Age should never define a person or diminish our respect for them. When I see elderly people, I'm reminded that this is a generation that was raised during the Depression era. They fought wars for our freedom and faced unthinkable trials and tribulations so that we could have the liberties that we enjoy today. They deserve to be honored, loved and have their dignity preserved.

I still see my mother as the graceful, vibrant woman she was when she was raising me. She taught me compassion and love through the sacrifices she made for our family. I can only hope to be half the woman that she is once I reach my eighties. She is, and always will be, my hero.

I don't see an "invisible" generation when I look upon the elderly. I see people of strength, wisdom and integrity, and the backbone of generations to come.

****UPDATE***Hey y'all, if you haven't read my book, "Who Stole my Spandex?" yet, now is your chance! The KINDLE version is on sale for only .99 for a LIMITED time! Grab it while you can and spread the word to your family and friends. Thank you! Buy it here:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fly On The Wall In A Wild Kingdom

     It's that time again! For those of you new to my blog, welcome to another monthly edition of Fly On The Wall group postings, where 14 bloggers invite you into their homes for a peek at what goes on behind closed doors.

     This has been a quiet month for us, so I believe the fly has been catching up on his naps. I wish I could do the same. Most of my time now is taken up with book marketing strategies---the difficult side of a writing career. It's incredibly time consuming and takes away from what I love doing most---WRITING! The good news though is that my tech girl designed a new page on my blog for the book, which you can see here:

     If you were a fly buzzing around my house this month, here are a few remarks you would have heard floating around the Doyle house:

"I would never go on a cruise ship. Too many rogue waves out there."

"Hey Dad, come here and let me prove to you how strong I've gotten since I've been lifting weights. I'll pick you up."
"No thanks---I don't want to end up with a broken clavicle."

"I wish my inner editor would stop waking me up at 4:00am to share her ideas with me."

"A fart is just a warning sign of what's to come."

"Our neighbor is having a garage sale and he's selling a giant plastic worm that kids can ride. Should I buy it?"
"No, I'm not riding the worm with you."

"I'd wrap that in bacon."
"You'd wrap anything in bacon and eat it, including your pillow."

"Can you please tell our son that changing the toilet paper will not cause brain damage?"

"Karma takes too long to catch up. I'd rather just smack you right now."

"I don't have a bucket list but I have a F@%k it list that never ends."

"Just because my reality is different from yours doesn't mean I'm crazy."

"Of course I love you, but you sound better when your mouth is closed."

I'd like to share a funny little story with you that happened yesterday. If you read my previous post about the odd things that occur around my husband--- ---then this story will not surprise you.

One of my chinchillas had diarrhea late in the afternoon, which can be dangerous with these types of animals. I called my vet, only to learn that he was out of town for a few days. They gave me the name of another vet at a different office and suggested I take my chinchilla there. Luckily, my husband had just gotten home from work and offered to take our pet so that I wouldn't have to change my dinner plans.

He was gone for two hours, and I began to worry that something was seriously wrong. Just as I was about to call him, he walked in the front door with a big grin on his face. Apparently, National Geographic was at the vet's office filming for their series, "National Geographic in the Wild" and asked if they could video my husband and our chinchilla during their doctor's visit! How crazy is that? My friends asked if I was disappointed that I wasn't there, and my answer was a resounding "NO!"  I hadn't washed my hair in two days and was still sporting a bleach-stained t-shirt from the previous day that had a few grease spots on it from my lunch. I'm grateful that I WASN'T there.

The episode will air some time in the fall---I'll keep you posted. Now, hop on over to the homes of the other bloggers participating in today's Fly post and see what they've been up to!

Want more Meno Mama? A few days ago I was a featured guest again on one of my favorite sites--Blunt Moms. You can read the post here:                          Spatulas on Parade                          Follow me home           Stacy Sews and Schools                     Battered Hope                              Just A Little Nutty                                  The Momisodes                    Someone Else’s Genius    Eileen’s Perpetually Busy               Juicebox Confession                    Dinosaur Superhero Mommy          Menopausal Mother                        Disneyland in Kentucky                               Go Mama O                 Baking In A Tornado


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