Of Kids, Christmas, and Pets

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It is that wonderful time of year again - December. The month of both of my daughters' births, and the birth of my Lord. While the birth of my Lord seems peaceful and calm, and all the joy of Christmas therein, I have somehow worn myself out with the birthdays this year. This is a big year, 11, for my youngest daughter. Somehow in negotiations throughout the year, I have promised three parties for one child. This cannot be. I must be losing my mind.


Well, there is a small get-together on Saturday, which will be for her closest friends, and we will have cake. There was the actual day, which was yesterday. We had cake then, too. (Don't even ask me why I agreed to this.) Before that there was the party for the oldest, she just turned 22. She had cake - can you see the recurring theme here?

Next year, we are not doing cakes on all the days. I will do a fruit spread and I am not going to listen to any objections. As far as the little treats for the birthday parties, I am going to give rocks that have crosses on them. I was going to go to Walmart and buy the supplies myself and make them, but I decided that ordering them from Oriental Trading Company would be the cheaper way to go. I ordered two dozen of them. They are called worry stones, but I call them "Inspiration" stones. They don't take up a ton of space and they mean something past the five minutes after they are opened. I also ordered some cute Bell Necklaces for them. I love bells!


The presents for the kids birthdays have been coming in a-plenty. My youngest has got so much lip gloss and fingernail polish and such, it should last forever, which unfortunately it does not. As some of you might know, most makeup is too old to use by the time it is four months old, especially mascara. Enough said about makeup.

I have been working on homemade gifts to give the kids, especially things that make them feel comforted. This brings me to the subject of pillows. The whole family loves soft pillows. There are no plain pillows in my house if I can help it. I am always looking for soft fabrics or else buying those small baby blankets that are on the dollar aisle at Walmart or Food City. They are small but they are fleece and they are wonderful! These can be two different things, they can be pillows to sleep on, which I love (I also love flannel) or you can wrap a small pillow in it and make a pet pillow out of it.


I simply take a pillow out of its pillowcase and sew the small fleece blanket onto it. I don't even bother making it even in the back. I will later put another fabric on the back. They love these. The pillows were always coming out of their cases. While some folks just wash the pillowcases, I always wash the whole pillow in the wash on gentle cycle. The whole thing goes in the wash. Even with a pillowcase that I made and sewed on them. These are so soft. Even the pets love them too. The rooster has two, each of the dogs have one, the cats have one, and the guinea pigs get to play on one. Once you lay one of these down, all the animals come to see it - it is amazing.

These are but one of the many presents my girls will get this year. They know we are not rich, and we cannot give dozens of huge presents from the store where there is more in the package than in the actual gift. I am, at heart, a woman who loves the small thoughtful gift that is homemade. The less perfect and more thought that goes into it the better.


You might assume the children have picked up my attitude. Well - NO - not quite. I say this with a grin, yet still firm in my intent to teach manners. I have emphasized the importance of gratefulness for ANY gift or any present.

I recently put a post on Facebook, in which I put the following: "If any child acts in any way unhappy or especially ungrateful or in any way makes a face to the effect of 'why didn't I get a better present' about a gift that she receives, it will immediately be returned to the store for a refund. The gift, not the child." That post got a lot of likes. Also, if any child receives money and then at that very point asks why she didn't get more then the amount given, then the money will be taken by myself to the nearest mall and disposed of on items of importance only to me. The children just stared at me when I said that - not sure if they even cared or listened.


They stopped listening when they heard present and dreamed of what that present might be in their childlike way. However, this has been a recurring issue in the past years, so I wanted to take this time of year to remind them that I am cracking down on "Grinchiness" or bad manners. I've noticed that when my children are acting rather poorly, about any issue, it is usually because they lack the confidence that they can handle it any other way. I learned this from teaching my youngest math, believe it or not.

Back to homemade gifts. I have recently come into a lot of tile squares and I am thinking what I can do with them. There is a wonderful woman across the way, who was giving about a hundred of them away. I loaded a lot into my car. I know she was hoping I would take them all, but I didn't. I am thinking painting them, making name plates, or must dry erase boards with the persons name on it and a soft backing of felt on it to keep it from scratching the table or desk.


Do any of you crafty people (and I mean that in the nicest of ways) have any other ideas of what to make with these?

Animals always make their way into my posts - they are everywhere, and I love them! There is always something to smile about with animals, although they are very expensive. Very expensive. Yesterday evening, we were at Walmart in the fish department. My daughter had some money and wanted a Betta. She bought a small plastic tank, and a decoration, the dechlorinator and the food - dried bloodworms, sometimes they wont eat regular flake food. Mine never would. Well we got back and the tank had a break in it. It was down at the corner and you could barely see it. I will take it back. In the meantime the fish in the kind of home I always put them in, a plastic shoebox = it is 6 quarts and it is just a plastic shoebox for shoe storage but the fish love them! You don't put the lid on. Just for those who are not familiar with fish, they need to breathe. I have a cookie cooler wire sheet on top of it. On top of that, we have a heavy decoration, in this case, a house out of ceramic for Christmas.

I noticed on the instructions for this Crowntail Male Betta, it says to feed once every three days. This is simply not true. It says to change their water once a week or so..This is certainly not true. I have come to learn this is what my Bettas thrive on: Feeding one or two dried bloodworms three times a day or whenever they can eat one give it to them. Some eat more, some eat less. They don't eat a lot at first, because they don't get fed at Walmart. When you first get them home put about three dried bloodworms in there and see if they eat them. I will change the water whenever it looks like it is in the least bit not perfect. The more you feed, the more they poop. I like to use water to fill up their tank that is at a temp that is neither hot or cold. It takes me standing at the faucet with my hand under the stream of water to get to the right temp. I will put the right amount of dechlorinator in the water. For my little plastic box that is long, and it is 6 quarts, two or three drops do very well of the dechlorinator.My daughter gave me the Betta after all that because I would not allow her to keep it on top of her cable box in her bedroom. Yay! More animals to care for! But she said it in a nice way, so no problems with manners here.

I have also bought a large 106 quart see through storage bin for the "three pigs", my guinea pigs, now that they are big, they like to come out, although it is like catching a greased pig (no pun intended) to get them in my hands to take out. Once they are in the storage bin without the lid with hay scattered in the bottom, they are so happy to be picked up and petted. I am not sure why. I would keep them in the bin always, if I didn't have other animals that would like to make a meal of them.

I am going to end this blog on Christmas manners, pet care and children's birthdays with this wonderful story I found about the origins of the Christmas tree. It was found in an ancient monastery. I paraphrased it because I lost the actual text.

The Christmas Tree:

When the baby Jesus was born, all of the trees came to worship him adore him and bring gifts for him to enjoy.All the trees had wonderful gifts to give to the baby Jesus. All but one. The fir tree stood quietly behind the others, with no gift to offer the Christ-child. When it was the fir tree's turn to come and worship the baby Jesus, the angels all came down and put stars on each tip of the branches of the little fir tree. The fir tree was so happy when it saw that the Baby Jesus smiled. This is why we still put up a Christmas tree to this day to remember Baby Jesus and to make him smile. May you have many warm memories that you make this year and always.

Merry Christmas!

By Robyn Fed from Tri-Cities, TN

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My Frugal Holiday: Of Kids, Christmas, and Pets

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 153 Feedbacks
December 27, 20110 found this helpful

What a great essay! It makes me want to go out and get more pets (we only have about 200 right now). I have always wanted to keep fish but needed some guidance. There might be a betta in my future! Don't think me eccentric with the number of animals we have.

We are on a farm, and not only do we have cows and chickens, I have about 120 parakeets in the chicken coop, and people continually drop off unwanted animals in the rural areas just to get rid of them. That's how we got three big dogs and four cats.

We are totally in love with our newest adoptee, a Rottweiler named Charlie. He loves herding the cows (a little too much enthusiasm but we're working on that.) He follows my husband around during chores as a faithful sidekick.

I feel the way you do about Christmas gifts. There must be a more frugal solution! With all the grandkids and great grandkids, there are 28 or so people on our list. Worst of all, they may or may not like the gift, and if they give us anything, we may or may not like. I am thinking about baskets of homemade soap next year for the adults. Anyway, I applaud your common sense and frugality. Carry on!

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December 10, 20130 found this helpful

Dear Robyn Federspiel, Talk about a person having it all - What a wonderful life you have! I am sure most of the readers do envy you.

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December 10, 20130 found this helpful

As for the cloth squares. Consider making little purses out of them. Some people have taken a bunch of squares together and made large purses.

Also I noticed one time when I went into a store I noticed...

Some one took tin cans/plastic containers etc... And wrapped cloth around the out side. They had plants growing in them.

I get doggie treats for my grown kids to give there dogs. I put things like coffee in the gift bags, or sleepy time tea for the ones that drink tea. Hot cocoa for kids. Every one gets socks.

You can put coupons in adult bags if you know who buys what. Most of my adult kids don't make a lot of money. So that may be an idea for some people.

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