Monday, November 26, 2012

'What If Santa Can't Afford Christmas?' Article by Mary Jo Rapini

Every year during the holiday season, tensions flare up. Kids are demanding about the presents that they want. Parents stress over how to make ends meet while still providing a joyous holiday for their kids. Mary Jo Rapini, psychotherapist and coauthor of Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex, or Whatever, shares with parents how to make Christmas meaningful this year, even if it has to be a little sparse.

What If Santa Can't Afford Christmas?         
by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
I had just turned off the evening news and was on my way to the kitchen to begin dinner when Lizzie ran up to me, grabbed my waist and with very serious eyes, looked up to me and asked me this question. "Mommy, what if Santa can't afford Christmas this year?"

Lizzie had been in earshot of the evening news and no doubt heard enough of the financial woes and was concerned. I hesitated, not wanting to scare her, but also not wanting to lie to her. Her father and I had expressed concern about bills, the holidays, and taxes--all of which may have contributed to Lizzie's question and concern. I wasn't sure what a 7-year-old should be told; but since I had always prided myself in open discussion, I decided to take the time and talk with Lizzie in an effort to answer her question.
You don't have to be a news buff to be aware that times are tough right now. Protests are happening in every country including our own, news of banks making money but still charging a checking fee for customers; and there is fighting between politicians with ranting and raving depending on where their support dollars are coming from. It's crazy, and on a more basic level, every household is trying to re-budget and pay back debt. Many of those households are full of children with holiday wish lists longer than your credit card receipts.

Parents with children such as Lizzie will be more effective at teaching their children the true meaning of the holidays, the depth of family love, and mentoring responsible spending if they take these sorts of questions seriously. Lizzie asked a serious question in her 7-year-old mind.
Here are five important tips that can be used again and again as the holidays grow closer.

1.    Santa has nothing to do with money. Santa is about feeling loved and cared for. The toy you love most, and that will make you feel most loved, is the one Santa will try his best to get. It is important that as a parent, you help guide your child with gift requests. If you know your child wants a $100 toy, and you can only afford $50, then suggest another toy that would make your child feel just as loved. Don't do this in a critical manner, but in a loving, supportive manner. Something such as this, "I know you want that toy, but that is so much money for one toy. What other toy could you get that would make you feel just as loved?" If you do this with a loving tone of voice, you are teaching compassion, understanding, and problem solving.
2.    Reassure your child that adults like the spirit of the holidays too, and they are not going to let a Christmas go by--no matter how poor they are--without celebrating. No matter who you are, you should make every effort to celebrate holidays with your child. No matter what holiday you celebrate, children learn from the ritual and the spiritual concepts that surround the holidays.
3.    Make the focus of the holidays on friends and family. Look at "wish lists" but also promote thinking of others. Children are very egocentric at young ages; that means it's more important for parents not to be. Children who turn into generous, compassionate, and loving adults were nurtured by loving, compassionate and generous parents. You don't have to be wealthy to be generous, loving and compassionate. Perhaps try sorting out good but used toys or books that are no longer age appropriate and going with your child to donate them to a children's hospital or shelter where these might be greatly appreciated.
4.    Parents need to set a budget for gifts and stick to it. The best gifts of all are the ones that cost the least, but speak the loudest of love and caring. Last year, a friend of mine bought me three pairs of running socks (I am a runner. I use these every single day). Inside the toe of each sock, she rolled up a slip of paper that had a quote of something I had said to her that meant the most throughout the year. Six meaningful. It was my FAVORITE gift. The idea of giving a gift is thinking of what the person would like, or letting them know how they touched your life.
5.    Let Lizzie know frequently, and any other child, that the economic crisis may mean everyone has less, but it will never take away their family. Santa may not be giving out as many gifts, but that's okay because you have the best gift of all with one another. Children (and parents) who are reassured that their family is strong and loving can endure this and anything else.

To be honest, Lizzie, you may not get the biggest, most expensive toy this year, but the holidays will have more love than last year because the bigger you get, the more loving you become, and the more grateful I am to be your parent.
Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at and more about Rapini at

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cyber Monday FREEpalooza

Kick off your holiday shopping with FREE books!

This Cyber Monday, some of your favorite indie authors are offering FREE ebooks! Don't miss this chance to feed your new ereaders--or those you're giving as gifts!--with the best reading around. These are different than the books I usually post here, but some of my readers may still enjoy them. And because they are FREE, if you don't like it, nothing lost! Teachers and parents need some relaxing time, too!


PLUS, enter for a chance to win a GRAND PRIZE of signed paperbacks and swag from these talented authors!


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Monday, November 5, 2012

'Are Your Kids Getting Bullied in Their Own Homes?' Article by Mary Jo Rapini

As the holiday season approaches in this digital age, remember that your child is still connected to everyone at school, even though there is a break. This means that your child can still be bullied, even when not confronted with the offenders in person. Psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini is also the coauthor of Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex, or Whatever. Here she explains to parents how to look for signs of bullying, even when your child is not at school, and how to help.

Are Your kids are getting bullied
in their own homes?         
by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
The holidays are right around the corner and you are probably already making plans to visit friends and family.

The kids are off from school, and you are looking forward to not having routines and school activities. Even though you sense peacefulness at this time without the hubbub, your child may not. Your child did not leave their "world" behind at school. Their world is increasingly the life they have online. It is the texts, the emails, the Facebook, and the Myspace. You can be a great parent in all aspects; however, if you don't understand who your child is talking to online, what they are experiencing or who is coming into your home over the phone or computer, you are missing an important aspect of your child's life.

Facebook, Time Warner and Cartoon Network recently announced the launch of an anti-bullying campaign to help change lives and make children safe from bullying. The national exposure of this campaign is exactly what this severe issue needs--public awareness and request for action. Parents are always more powerful in their children's life if they form a united front. Below are tips for parents who have children using the Internet, social media networks and cell phones.
Discussions, discussions, and more discussions. Parents must have a basic knowledge about what's going on in their kid's online worlds from a verbal and physical standpoint. Since social networking has become a daily routine for kids, it needs to be part of the daily conversation. The more open you are with your kids and facilitate a safe and non-judgmental environment for conversation, the more likely they are to tell you if they come across an issue.

In addition to talking to kids about cyberbullying, parents should spread the word to other parents and act as a true advocate for the issue. The more you talk about it, the more useful information you can share. Comment on blogs, forward news stories, "re-share" on Facebook, stand up at the PTO meeting--use any communications necessary to get your voice heard.

Take the time. The good news is that with a national campaign, there will be information, discussions, surveys, resources and solutions everywhere. Take the extra time to read and comprehend the information to make yourself knowledgeable on the issues and to act as a resource to other parents and kids.
Learn the warning signs. As mentioned, information will be more available from a reference perspective so take advantage of it. Learn about the warning signs of bullying so that you can recognize it in your own child or any child. Remember that a sudden, drastic change in your child's behavior might mean something is going on.

Below are just a few signs of bullying, but don't forget to trust your instincts:

*  Torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other
*  Unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
*  Fear of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the
   school bus, or taking part with peers in organized activities
*  No interest in school or their grades
*  Weepy, sad, moody, or depressed after school behaviors
*  Complaints of headaches, stomachaches or other physical
*  Loss of appetite or weight gain
*  Anxiousness or low-self-esteem

Teach children exactly what to do if they get an offensive or threatening post or comment. Take every opportunity to teach them how to manage themselves in confusing situations and when to bring the issues to you; when they do, believe them and show your support.
The Golden Rule does apply to online interactions. It may be the first rule taught to kids: "Do unto others as you would have done to you." You set the expectations for manners and appropriate behavior. Coach them to behave online as you have taught them in real life.  Digital manners need to be reinforced just as regular manners do.

While you are taking the necessary measures to stop bullying and get more involved in what is going on online, there are a few other items that parents should pay attention to while monitoring social networking sites for cyberbullying:

* Friends and connections - Make sure you know them all. Kids are likely to accept requests from almost anyone. Discuss with them as to why they should only be connected to people they know and only connected to adults who are family members. There is no good reason why adults and kids should be connected online.

* Posted Photos - Take a close look at the types of photos your kids post and make sure you are comfortable with the content. Remember that the interpretation of the photo lies in the eyes of the beholder, meaning a simple photo in a bathing suit on a family vacation could mean different things to its viewers. Also, take a look at photos posted of your child by others. What may be appropriate to one may not be appropriate to all. Additionally, with geo-tagging, photos show the location of the poster. Scary?

* Time spent online and where - Keep tabs on how many hours per day your child is online, what sites they are on and where they are accessing these sites from.
Parents can also help by simply monitoring their children's social Girls Bullingmedia accounts using services such as, an Internet-based service that may provide an early warning of potentially concerning or dangerous online behavior. Each parent knows their child best, as well as their own work schedule. If you cannot monitor your child's online posts, this type of service sends automatic email alerts concerning activity related to "friends," photos or posts within their child's social networking accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and more. The service helps parents protect their children 24/7--no matter where children access their social network accounts.

Our children are growing up in a virtual world. Their ability to understand how it works is much better than their ability to understand the consequences of what they're exposing for millions to see. It is our job as their parents to secure their safety until they are mature enough to understand the permanence of their random, fleeting, and immature thoughts.
Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at and more about Rapini at

Thursday, November 1, 2012

'The Earth Child's Handbook' Book Tour - Review

The Earth Child’s Handbook - Crafts and Inspiration for the Spiritual Child
Books 1 & 2
Brigid Ashwood

Genre: Pagan Parenting, Pagan Kids

Book 1
ISBN-10: 1479265519
ISBN-13: 978-1479265510

Book 2
ISBN-10: 147927108X
ISBN-13: 978-1479271085

Book Description:
The Earth Child's Handbook is a primer, reference, craft and activity book series for families that follow Pagan, Wiccan and Earth Based spiritual paths.  Designed to appeal to all age groups (and grown-ups too!), the books address common Pagan beliefs and practices, explaining the principles and traditions behind them. 
Each chapter features:
  • Recipes
  • Instructional craft projects
  • Coloring pages, mazes and word searches
  • Color, cut and assemble projects
Younger children will delight in the coloring pages and paper crafts. Older children will find educational fun with word searches, mazes, connect-the-dots and instructional crafts. And parents might find it a lifesaver with easy recipe ideas and inspiration for teaching and building Pagan traditions.
The Earth Child's Handbook - Book 1 features chapters on the joy of family and diversity, honoring the earth and the principles of the four elements, the universe and Pagan beliefs regarding the Sun and the Moon, explanation of Deities, and an introduction to Magick and Ritual with simple spells and exercises.

Special topics include Shapeshifting, Runes, Book of Shadows, Animal Guides, Chakras, Meditation, Astrological Signs, The Elements, Cycles of the Moon, Magickal Correspondences, Sun Deities, Moon Deities, Triple Goddess and Triple God, The Four Quarters and Casting a Circle.

Featured activities include making a Chakra shirt, rain stick, homemade face paints, herbal infusions, bath salts, a moon phase wheel, moon cake recipe,  a complete "color, cut and assemble" paper altar and much, MUCH  more.

The Earth Child's Handbook - Book 2 features chapters on the Seasons, the 8 Pagan Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year. Each Sabbat chapter includes facts, traditions, correspondences and information about that holiday as well as recipes, altar decorating ideas, rituals and crafts, coloring pages, mazes and word searches.

Special topics include Seasonal Altars, Solstice Sabbats, Equinox Sabbats, Quarters and Cross Quarters.

Featured activities include cinnamon ornaments, Yule wrapping paper, Brigid's cross weaving, handmade paper, flower beads necklace, Beltaine masks, prayer flag, magickal broom and much, MUCH more.

Buy on Amazon

 Check out these excerpts:

Earth Excerpt from Book 1

Earth is more than just the planet we live on or the dirt under our feet. You might think of the Earth as the body of the Great Goddess, our Mother, our Creator. The Earth sustains us; in it grows food for us to eat and other materials to help our daily lives. Her trees provide us with air, shelter, and shade. All of the four elements are related to each other, and cannot exist one without the others. This is especially true in their relationship to Earth, for all of these elements are found on and are part of the Earth itself. Air breezes through the trees on our Earth, Water runs through her streams, and Fire glows deep inside her core. If Earth is her body then Air is her breath, Water her blood and Fire her Spirit and Soul.


Recycling is a big part of being an Earth conscious and responsible person. If you wish to learn more about the type of general recycling you can do in your home check at your local library for more information. There you can find out which materials, such as bottles, cans, newspapers and cardboard are recycled in your area. In addition to participating in community recycling efforts you can also recycle or reuse items in your own home. Try some of the craft recycling tips below and help to pr eserve the resources of our precious Earth.

For sparkly silver craft paper save potato chip bags. Cut off the top and bottom and slice one side open so that the bag lies flat. Clean the shiny silver side with window cleaner and a rag.

Save small plastic food containers with lids, such as yogurt containers to store homemade clays, paints, and bath products. Some frozen foods come in plastic trays with compartments that are good for dividing up craft supplies and paint colors while working on a project.

Save cylindrical shaped containers such as snack chip containers or powdered drink containers, these make great molds for soap, candles and ice.

Save interesting and beautiful plastic and glass containers to repackage bath crafts to give as gifts. Save junk mail and divide it up roughly by color to use in paper making.

The Heavens Excerpt from Book 1

The Heavens

When you look up at the sky what do you see? Sure you see the Sun, and at night the Moon and the Stars, but did you know that there is a whole lot more up there than meets the eye? Ancient people didn’t have cities full of electric lights to brighten up their night sky. They looked to the Moon and the Stars to light their evenings. When they looked up at the heavens the stars were so clear and bright in comparison to the darkness of evening around them that they were struck with awe.

When the ancient people looked at their world and the stars, Sun and Moon above it, they noticed the relationships that existed there. They saw the ebb and flow of the oceans tide with the phases of the Moon. They saw the changing of the seasons with the Sun’s position in the sky. They noticed changes in their environment when a comet flashed across the sky, and they observed how children born under certain signs had similar natures.

Ancient people saw such awesome power exhibited by our Sun that they knew the Sun must be God’s representative to us in our day sky; a reminder that God is always there to protect us, provide for us, and love us. These same people looked to the Moon in the darkest nights to light their way, they saw how the phases of the Moon guided the cycles of women, and recognized the Moon as Goddess’ representative to us in our night sky.

Just as the Earth is a symbol and living representative of the Great Goddess, so is the Moon a symbol of her as well, and the Sun a symbol of God. And each of these things is a reminder to us, of the everlasting presence of our divine parents the Goddess and the God, who in their love for each other, their love for us, and in return our love for them, are one and the same.

Some Pagans call the united God and Goddess, Spirit. Spirit is the fifth element. It is all around us, and in us. It is the love of the Goddess and the God.

Moon Excerpt from Book 1

Phases of the Moon

Our Moon gets its glow from the Sun. Sunlight is reflected off of it’s surface enabling us to see the Moon from Earth. The Moon orbits around the Earth, the Earth in turn orbits around the Sun. The Moon’s cycle around Earth takes about twenty-eight days.

As the Moon orbits Earth we see it from different perspectives and with different amounts of the Sun’s light illuminating it. This cycle is a gradual and continuous process, with the Moon appearing slightly different just about every day. However traditionally this gradual change is recognized as having eight distinct phases.

Magick Moon Phases Wheel

To see which phase the Moon is in all you have to do is look outside in the evening. Many people use the phases of the Moon in conjunction with special spiritual meditations or for help with spell work. You will learn more about spells and rituals in another chapter of this book. In the meantime have fun making this Moon phase wheel.

To use your wheel, find out the current phase of the Moon from a calendar, the internet or take a look at the real thing. Once you know the Moon’s current phase, line up the wheel window with the picture of the Moon that matches its current phase. Line up the name of that phase underneath the picture. Lastly line up the magic tips disc for that phase. Now you’ re ready to appreciate the phases of the Moon!

**My thoughts**

I think these books are fantastic. They celebrate the Earth and teach children how to take care of her. Yes, there is a Pagan basis to the books, but many lessons and activities can be pulled from these books to fulfill many science activities. For example, this moon phases wheel just above would be a great addition to a unit on the moon. The adult who is choosing the activities can choose how much information she wishes to share with the children.

For those who are using it at home, it is a great way to build bonding family time together, as you make your way through the different activities. If you practice Pagan beliefs, you can tailor the activities to your family's rituals and beliefs. Another way these can be used is simply by putting them out for your children to read and explore on their own. They are written in a way that elementary and older can read for information and instructions without an adult's assistance. I would have devoured many of these crafts when I was a kid.

It is up to individual adults how they are going to use these books in their children's lives. I look forward to using some of the activities to supplement my science area.

About the Author:
Brigid Ashwood is an artist, illustrator, blogger and author of various and sundry titles such as The Earth Child's Handbook (Books 1 & 2), Oracle of the Tarot Deck and more.

She is a core contributor to Wired's GeekMom Blog and creates freebies for Geeky Kids with her monthly Printable Fun feature.

Her artwork ranges from New Brow contemporary, Pop Surrealism, Steampunk, Fantasy and Fairy illustration, Celtic Knotwork, Witchy Pin-up to New Age, Pagan and Goddess imagery.

Facebook page for book:

Art & Blog

Wired Blogger author Page

Brigid Ashwood has a fantastic giveaway package to go along with her books! Check this out and then enter the Rafflecopter below!

Tour wide Giveaway features: Both volumes of The Earth Child's Handbook, signed by the author. A one of a kind Pagan Kid's tote bag to hold your books. Your very own craft kit bag that includes safety scissors, glue stick, tape, colored pencils, crayons and 7 tubes of glitter glue. A $90 value!
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