Parenting: 8 ways that it’s just like pledging a fraternity or sorority

We happened upon this hilarious post during our “Permission Slips” staff meeting today. Belly laughs guaranteed, whether or not you or your kids have “gone Greek.”

Parenting: 8 ways that it’s just like pledging a fraternity or sorority.

Keeping Out the Ks: Exercising the Mommy Veto

It’s hard to avoid hearing about the Ks. In supermarket checkout lines, their faces, boobs and butts festoon magazine covers, with headlines screaming about sex tapes, cheating, divorces and drugs.

photo-24This “famous for being famous” family has (or had?) a reality show on TV. Talk show hosts joke about the dad’s plastic-looking plastic surgery results, the mom’s pretty much everything, the older girls’ weddings, the days-long marriage and the “directionally” named baby.

Like many Americans, my middle-school-age daughter can’t seem to divert her eyes.

In all fairness, I know precious little about this blended family. I have never seen the reality show and don’t read the tabloids. However, I’ve heard enough to believe that the girls have nothing to offer my daughter, and couldn’t possibly serve as positive role models. So, after Pea quoted the show one too many times, I banned it.

Yes, I exercised the “Mommy Veto.”

We all know that mothers, as top executives of the household, hold this power. It comes in handy when absolute reason won’t work, when a vote has taken place and mom is in the minority or when we just inherently know that a course of action is wrong.

This is also known as the “Because I said so” or “Because I’m the mom” argument.

I have used the veto to negate our family’s democratic process on several occasions (“we all voted and decided the next vacation should be at Disneyland”) and I have employed it to ban plenty of activities, from playing violent video games to attending sleepovers to wearing sweatpants to school.

Keeping out the Ks was a bit harder. Aside from the possibility of watching at someone else’s house, Pea has access to Netflix and YouTube on TVs, computers and even an iPad.

Now, let me take a moment to state that if you have no idea what show or family I am discussing, no worries. I barely know who they are myself.

And, because I don’t want to bolster my reasoning with actual facts, which would require my watching the show, I need to trust my gut and just say no.

I think my daughter – who is still quite sweet and compliant – really has stayed away from the TV program. At least she stopped mentioning the family, primarily because I said she couldn’t even utter the last name in our home or around me.

That “around me” took on new meaning when I found myself in Los Angeles with Pea and her friend Smiley not long ago. Like many visitors to the area, they were on the lookout for stars, and mentioned several they hoped to meet.

photo-23When the “K” name came up, I took advantage of the “teaching moment.” “Honestly, girls, why would you want to see them? They are famous for all the wrong reasons. They don’t actually do anything. They haven’t contributed to society in a positive way.”

The girls tried to argue the girls’ virtues, and, after gaining no ground, took a new tack. “The younger two are okay,” Smiley avowed. “Those girls didn’t ask to be famous. They don’t want to do the show. They volunteer at an animal shelter. Their dad [that Olympian whose last name starts with a J] hates doing the show, too.”

I listened to Smiley and Pea, and replied, “Those ‘J’ girls are about your age, so they should be working on their educations, not out partying. They should do something worthwhile with their lives, and if I see them, I’ll tell them just that.”

Pea was aghast, and screamed, “Mom, you wouldn’t!”

My reply: “Oh, you’d better believe I would. I would have no problem setting those girls straight.”

At this point, while the conversation was all in fun for me, I’m not sure Pea and Smiley thought I was joking.

Which is why they both panicked a bit, the next afternoon, when they spotted a lanky teenage girl walking towards us in Studio City’s quaint shopping district.

“That’s one of the J girls,” Smiley whispered. “I know it is. She’s with her friend [whomever].”

The fact that Pea also recognized the girl, and knew of the friend, set off an internal alarm. I made a mental “We’ll discuss this later” note.

So, yes, there I was, face to face with the celebrity I had banned from my house and my daughter’s vocabulary, the same girl I had promised to “set straight.”

Both Pea and Smiley stopped dead in their tracks, and looked at me quite nervously. “You aren’t going to say anything, are you?” Smiley asked.

“Of course I will,” I challenged. “I’m going to give her the ‘what-what.’ “ Pea was praying, almost visibly, that I was bluffing.

We smiled at the gorgeous girl and her buddy, and watched as they entered the store we had just exited.

After the girls in my charge calmed down, Smiley announced, “I’m going in to ask for a photo. She’s really nice; I’m sure she’ll say yes.”

“If she agrees, I’ll take the photo,” I offered.

“Please, please don’t say anything to her,” Pea begged.

I kept up the charade a little longer. “Maybe I’ll just suggest she get a real job when she’s older.”

Of course, the very sweet-seeming 15-year-old “J girl” agreed to a photo. And, after seeing her up close, all I could utter was,  “Wow, you have amazingly beautiful eyes.”

We’ll see if Pea takes me seriously the next time I make a threat. Meanwhile, the show, the magazines, and both the K and J words remain on the banned list. Why? Because I’m the mom.

–Linda Williams Rorem, 28 Oct. 2013
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Wake Up and Live: The Kristy LeMond Story

What would you do if you had a rare aggressive sarcoma cancer and knew that time was of the essence? Would you be consumed by fear and illness or would you find hope? Would you see your life’s work as having a finite ending point or would you find a way to continue your dreams? Would you shield yourself and loved ones from the worst possible news and sorrow or would you face it straight on?

These were some of the serious questions that Kristy LeMond faced at the tender age of 23.

Kristy was a beautiful young woman with a zest for living and a passion for helping others. The advice to live authentically and truthfully is an inspirational goal for some; for Kristy it was a daily reality.

Kristy in TanzaniaAfter graduating from the University of Washington in 2011, Kristy’s adventurous and giving spirit led her to travel across the world to volunteer in orphanages, teach English and learn. She was particularly impacted by her time in Tanzania and became a huge advocate for the Tanzania Children’s Fund. After Africa, her curiosity and wanderlust continued and she made her way to Europe and then to Chile where she felt she could make a real difference with teaching English through the English Opens Doors program. It was at the start of her Chilean trip that she felt a lump that necessitated a return to Seattle to start a different journey. Kristy died in May 2013 less than a year after being diagnosed with cancer, yet she lived fully to the end.

She found the ultimate truths and meaning in life and shared her thoughts through her own inspiring blog, Wake Up and Live. This is an excerpt from her last entry, written April 23, 2013, a week before she died:

Kristythe hardest thing i’ve ever done

Hello everyone! I know I’ve been absent for a really long time, most of that being because for the past month or so it’s been pretty rough on me emotionally. Usually I’m able to balance my faith, reality, hope, and facts in a nice, mostly positive bubble and I think that’s what has gotten me through to this point so far. After my last meeting with my oncologist saying that the second line of chemo we were trying was not working, this bubble was so deflated and angry that it was hard for me to get back to that positive place when my doctors were telling me the reality of the situation. For the first time since this process I started, I was thinking about my future and not seeing much. I started worrying about things I would miss; my career, finding the love of my life, having a family, watching my friends and family grow up and experiencing all these things too. These are all things that started buzzing constantly in my head where as before I was able to shut it off and ignore the noise. I was able to remind myself that I don’t know God’s plan and I don’t get to know if this will end up one way or the other until it happens. Lately, it’s been different. I can’t understand why people keep saying ‘you’re so inspirational’ and ‘you’re so positive’. Excuse me? No, I’ve been grumpy, edgy, and pretty negative for about a month now-ask my poor parents 🙂 it wasn’t until a message I recieved from an almost complete stranger a few weeks ago that shook me to my core and brought me back to that place I knew I had once been and could get to again. She reminded me of how strong my faith was and how inspiring that could be. I started to slowly crawl out of that funk, despite the difficulties I was dealing with all of a sudden with my breathing.

To read the blog in its entirety click here:

No one can imagine being in Kristy’s shoes, nor being her parent, brother or friend and seeing this unfold. Kristy’s mother Kathy has good days and bad, but has been buoyed by the power of her daughter’s resolve. Kathy said, “Kristy was helped enormously through her 11-month battle by her faith and her desire to continue to make a difference. Her blog did, and continues to, make more of a difference than she ever knew. She so much wanted others to embrace volunteerism like she had. She wanted us to see what she saw and experience the feelings she had and so we are and we will.”

Recently Kathy came across a list of New Year’s Resolutions written by Kristy in late 2011.Kristy's resolutions

Kristy’s 2012 resolutions

  1. No more gossip! No judgmental thoughts towards others and yourself. No snide comments
  2. Take advantage of every opportunity no matter how small.
  3. Respect and love your family always. Meaning act on it all the time.
  4. Take risks when applying to jobs – don’t get discouraged.
  5. “You can’t dance with the devil on your back” so shake it off. Shake off your bad moods. Don’t let yourself get frustrated to the point of anger. Others don’t want to be around your negative energy!
  6. Reach out to someone every week. No more hiding. No more selfishness.
  7. Smile more your life is good!
  8. Focus on you and what’s best for you.
  9. Little things to show your friends you love them.
  10. Spread love, love, love. You have so much to offer!

Kristy wrote these resolutions prior to her diagnosis. What’s even more amazing is that she accomplished all of these resolutions in her life time, many in her last months.

In her last blog entry Kristy stated, “I refuse to die anything short of successfully.” She spent the last seven days of her life at home with family and friends talking, listening, crying and just being. During the service, her eulogist stated, “She loved unconditionally when helping those in need and being the type of friend that we all hope to become…I have witnessed many people die, but I have never seen a journey like this one.”

Kristy’s message to us is clear, be authentic and truthful – Wake up and live!

Carol Lewis Gullstad October 21, 2013

Post Script

Kristy’s family, friends and those moved by her story are carrying on her mission to help others in a myriad of ways:

Her sorority sisters at the University of Washington chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma are raising money to establish a scholarship in her memory. For more information:

Beauty Chain Julep developed a special nail polish “Kristy,” 10% of all sales go to the Kristy LeMond Memorial Fund. For more information:

Kristy’s loved sunflowers. Friends and family are photographing sunflower stickers in various locations around the world to show that Kristy’s spirit is with them. The photos can be viewed on the Facebook page, We carry you in our hearts Kristy LeMond. us strong

Learn more about Kristy:

Daughters Teaching Mothers

Those who know me, know that I am never short on words or advice. If one does not want to hear my advice, I give them the out, prefacing my comments with: “You may not want to hear what I have to say…” I do not voice my opinion if it is not wanted. So, if you do not want to hear my advice on raising teenage daughters, read no further.

Many parents and kids today hate to hear the truth. Parents love to assume that their child is perfect and uber smart; that he or she never lies, steals or cheats. These parents love to blame other parents and their kids’ friends when something goes wrong, instead of looking in the mirror and taking full (or partial) blame themselves. And in our small yet over-protected community, some parents even threaten others with a lawsuit–really!!!!

Katsman youngThe other day at the gym, with pure joy, I was able to exercise with my dear friend Linda (co-author of PermissionSlips). Linda and I enjoy each other’s advice and company, and share deep-rooted Midwest values when raising our children. We give our kids just enough rope to slip and just enough rope to reel them back in. Since Linda has four children, she is far more experienced in child rearing than I. But I have more girls than she does.

Linda and I commonly discuss the latest issues surrounding her Number Two and Three sons, who are friends with my two daughters. Linda loves to hear the stories of our community from the “girls” point of view, and I like to hear the “boys” point of view. On this particular day at the gym, she asked if I would be willing to share my advice with PermissionSlips readers. So, here goes:

Keep Kids Busy
When my daughters were babies, a very wise neighbor said to me, “The best advice I can give you when raising a daughter is to keep her very busy, very, very busy. The busier your daughter is, the less likely she is to get into trouble.”  I have lived by those words.

My girls have been over-programmed since they could start Kindermusik and infant swimming. They have played on every sport team and taken every type of sport lessons, including, but not limited to, horseback riding and water skiing.

What has stuck for more than 16 years with my oldest is dance. At 18 years of age she is still dancing. My 16 year old has been dancing for 14 years. I like to think they are too busy and exhausted to get into trouble.

Make Children Accountable
In our household, we have always made the guilty party accountable for their wrong.  No taking the cell phone or car away. Why would we do that? It only punishes the parents.  Take away something that is embarrassing or puts the child on edge – maybe no Varsity baseball team or cheer squad. How about doing the punishment that the principal states is required for forging a parent’s signature, instead of arguing that your child would never do such a thing?

Honesty is the Only Policy
In our home, I raised my girls to be honest. We stress that no matter how terrible the crime is, be honest about it. We parents can help our children out of a bind if they tell the truth. The truth never changes, but lies always change. In our home, if the truth is told there is no additional punishment. If there was, then why tell the truth in the first place? Some kids would relish a night, week and month with out being wired into something.  Just tell the truth.

Never Judge Others
My girls know that I will never judge their friends. Everyone’s personal life is different.  Everyone’s family situation is different. And truthfully, some family situations are terrible.  Does that give us permission to judge someone else’s child?  No, it brings us to empathize with them.

Save Secrets
I know that there are several “secrets” my girls have kept from my husband and I in the past. Little do they know, I have found out most of the secrets. Instead of confronting them on these little secrets, I save them in the back of my mind for those “just in case” moments when I need to pull something out of my own bag of tricks. Why let your child know you are angry with them in the heat of your anger? That only promotes more anger. Most teenage girls generally assume that their mothers are always upset with them for something. We are not always angry or upset with our daughters; their perceptions stem from their fragile, hormonal egos.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Katsman recentMy oldest child just set off for the University.  She is opening her eyes and world to something so foreign to her and away from our loved and protected Island. I have told her to learn from her errors and mistakes. I said, “Now is the time to really figure out who you are. It is okay to make mistakes.” We all did; we were just never told it was okay. It is okay to figure out who you are. For example, I said, “You may change your major a dozen times. Just make sure that whatever you choose to graduate in is: 1. Employable; 2. Can support your lifestyle.”

Remember Where You Come From
I was always told to stand tall with my head high. And lastly, to remember what my last name was. I was also told, “Never embarrass your mother and father.” I hope that I have instilled these lessons in my daughters. Though my lessons may not indicate the popular choice or the perfect choice, they have been the steadfast choices in our home.

Lisa Katsman, 14 Oct. 2013
Mother of 2 daughters

“Being a male i…

“Being a male in the blogging world is sometimes like being the lone Rooster in a barn full of Hens! Seems the lady bloggers far outnumber the guy bloggers. That’s okay, us bro’s know that the ladies are much better with words any day of the week! But I decided we needed to do a little promotion of some of the Men of the WordPress Writing World.”

We discovered a hilarious daddy-blogger site today, The Brown Road Chronicles ( Take a look and get ready for some laughs. Be sure to scroll down for his “Men of WordPress” calendar. No beefcake shots, just real bloggers.

A Quotable World

Some people meditate to get perspective, others go for a run. Some might pray. Personally, I look for a good quotation to find inspiration, perspective and a good laugh. I litter my letters with them.

I am a lover of inspirational quotations. I have them on sticky notes, plaques and posters all over my office. I keep a file of quotations. I am the friend who will “like” your quotation posted on Facebook. Memes work for me too. I frequently visit the website Brainy Quote.  I have a hard copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. I even get quotes emailed to my inbox each morning.bartlett's

Since I use quotations for situational inspiration, I can’t say that I have an all-time favorite. However, I do seem to return to a handful of writers and speakers again and again. These are some of my “go to” guys and gals. Here is small sample of their wisdom and humor which spans centuries and cultures.

1. Sun Tzu, Chinese military general, strategist and author. Born 544 BC.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

2.Mark Twain, American humorist and author. Born 1835.

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” Note this was written about a 19th century group of politicians not about the 2013 U.S. government shutdown!

Eleanor Roosevelt with Fala

Eleanor Roosevelt with Fala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3.Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S. Presidential spouse, women’s and civil rights activist, syndicated columnist. Born 1884.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

4. Martin Luther King, Jr., U.S. Civil Rights Leader. Born 1929.

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Marti...

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 1966 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

5. Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor. Born 121

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

Today’s inspiration is about giving ourselves permission to be unafraid. It is courtesy of Mark Twain.

Today’s inspiration is about giving ourselves permission to be unafraid. Mark Twain wrote, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

 Who inspires you? Please share your quotations in the comments section of Permission Slips.

Carol Lewis Gullstad, October 7, 2013

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