Christmas Grab Bag Gift Exchange- Wampum Version

Our Christmas season kicks off tonight with our 4H Christmas party. It will the seventh one that we’ve hosted.

So – what exactly does a successful 4H Christmas party include?

Food – definitely food.

Seasonal is good. Lots of sugar is better.
PopcornTonight we have homemade caramel corn to hand out, mini sugar cookies and a big batch of elf food to share.

A craft is always a good idea – something they can do to keep their hands busy and take home with them. Angel girl has a Christmas tree craft ready to share.

And of course – you need a grab bag gift exchange.

That’s when things will start to get a little crazy.

Every member will need to bring a wrapped grab bag gift and then you will need to find a way to exchange them.

Sometimes we play Bingo – similar to my our White Elephant Bingo Gift Exchange at my family’s Remix every spring.

And other times – if I’m feeling very adventurous and brave – we play Wampum.

PresentsIt’s pretty simple and loved by kids of all ages.

All you need is a newspaper rolled up and taped together to make a club-like object that looks cool but doesn’t cause injury. We call it the Wampum stick. (Pretty creative – huh?!)

Choose one person to be It – everyone else puts their chairs in a circle and puts their wrapped gifts under their chair.

The person who is It can put their gift to the side.

Starting with the person who is It, go around the circle and have each person choose something from Christmas – Santa, shepherd, tinsel, lights, etc..

Everyone must choose something different.

Then give It the wampum stick. Choose one child to start things rolling by saying their Christmas item along with another one. For example: Tinsel likes snowman.

The person who is It must then try to wamp the person who is snowman with the wampum club (on the legs – of course!) before they say their Christmas item with another one – snowman likes star.

The game continues: star likes tinsel, tinsel likes manger, manger likes angels, etc… until It manages to wamp a person before they can finish.

If they wamp the person in time – that person goes to the center and becomes It while the previous It sits in their chair and starts the game with their item and another:  shepherd likes tinsel.

If they call the person who just called them – tinsel likes star, star likes tinsel – they become It.

And if they accidentally call the item of the person who is It – they automatically become It.

Things can get a little wild – depending on how much sugar you’ve served! 🙂

Then – when everyone is hot and sweaty and has moved into a different chair – you call the over and let them unwrap the gift under their chair they are sitting in.

Then I would highly recommend you send them home quickly with bags of homemade caramel corn, clean up the mess, grab a mug of hot chocolate with double whipped cream and curl up on the couch – thankful the 4H Christmas party is over for another year!

Photo Finish

Can I be a proud momma for just a minute? Again.

(I know – I know – it’s two weeks in a row – but it is really exciting!)

Angel Girl's prize photo

Angel Girl got a blue ribbon at the state fair. 🙂

The blue ribbon itself isn’t what I most proud of – she’s gotten those before. But this ribbon is in photography.

Her passion. Something she”s been working very hard on.

Last year none of her photos made it past the stiff competition at the County Fair.

But her judge was wonderful. He spent a lot of time looking at her pictures and gave her some very construction criticism.

And then he told her that she had a natural gift for photography – the artistic  eye needed to find the great shots. All of the other aspects of getting a good picture can be learned – but the ability to see the shot is a gift.

And Angel Girl has it.

(Why do those words make me want to cry – even a year later?)

She soaked up the encouragement, studied the criticisms, and took thousands of pictures over the next year.

And one was chosen for the State Fair.

And got a blue ribbon.

And I just had to share it. 🙂

Embracing the Craziness

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I hope it’s true – ’cause a picture is about all I have time for!
4-HSo what’s going on?

My friend Kimmer’s here! And 2 of her kids. And Dagmar’s friend Lainers and a random nephew.

9 kids. At my house. Eating.

That’s the fun stuff.

Then there’s –

The county fair. 4H projects. Dead calf. Vet visit. Blown tire.  No rain. Stinky pigs.

But God is good.

And Kimmer and I picked up more chocolate last night. (sshh – don’t tell the kids or they’ll eat that, too!)

We’re loving the craziness and making some memories!

Lunching the Tractor Ride

We spent Saturday at the local park with the 4H Club lunching the Waubonsie Tractor Club’s annual Tractor Ride.

There’s nothing quite like spending the better part of a day listening to the putt putt of old tractors, the banter of a bunch of retired farmers  and serving food.
tractor rideSo what exactly is a Tractor Ride?

Well, first you take a bunch of guys who love restoring old tractors, then you invite them to bring their “babies” to the local park on a Saturday morning.

friendly 4H kidWhile the tractors are all getting lined up – just so – you wander over to the shelter house and buy a cinnamon roll (baked that morning by yours truly!) and some juice or coffee from the friendly 4H kid. (Yes – that’s Pedro with yet another hair style!)

admiring the tractorsThen you sit around in lawn chairs with your buddies and talk.

And laugh.

And talk.

And get up and buy some more coffee or another roll.

And admire the tractors.

And talk some more.

And tease the 4H kids a little.

Then someone will say, “I guess it’s time boys.”

 And everybody gets up, brushes the cinnamon rolls crumbs of their overalls and heads for their tractors.

tractor rideSoon the air is filled with the smell of gas and oil and the putt putt sound of old tractors.

You line those tractors up like a parade and head down the street, around the block and out of town.

Smiles on your faces. Wind in your hair.

You come back hungry and after parking your tractor – just so – you head back over to the shelter house and buy a beef burger or hot dog.

And tease the 4H kids some more.

And sit in lawn chair in the shade eating and talking.

And laughing.

Then you get up and buy another cookie and a can of pop.

And you talk.

And you laugh.

After a while you load up your tractor and head home.

Smiling.

And the 4H kids pack up the remaining food and clean up.

DSC_0205And count the money they made.

And head home.

Smiling.

Caramel Apple Bars & a Crazy Weekend

Apple DessertIt was a really busy weekend.

Our Sunday activities included a church potluck at lunch and a 4H Soup Supper Fundraiser in the evening – with exactly one hour between the two.

That meant that we needed to be totally ready for both on Saturday – which made for a pretty crazy kitchen on Saturday afternoon!

I had Angel Girl, her friend Bethany and Dagmar all assisting. When we ran out of dishes we’ll call Buddy and Pedro to wash a few so we could keep moving.

In one afternoon we made barbecue venison, Grandma’s Cherry Dessert (but with blackberries) a chocolate oatmeal cake, lasagna, bread sticks, homemade caramel sauce, potato soup for 100, and a new creation – some yummy Caramel Apple Bars.

At one point – when I was mentally multiplying potato soup recipes in my head and praying that it would all turn out okay (it did!) – I handed Dagmar 2 different apple bar recipes and told her to make something work.

She did! The end result was an oatmeal crust with a gooey caramel apple filling.

We used homemade caramel sauce – since I forgot to buy caramels when I was shopping that morning – and it worked great!

Caramel Apple Bars

Crust:

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional – we didn’t use)

Filling:

4-1/2 cups peeled and chopped baking apples (we used a fat quart of our frozen apples)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 – 14 ounce package caramels
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Cream together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Mix well. Stir in pecans.

Set aside 2 cups.

Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9 inch pan.

For filling, toss apples with flour and spoon over the crust.

In a saucepan melt the caramels and butter over low heat and drizzle over the apples.

Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool before cutting into bars.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.