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Helen's Mulberry Lane Farm Journal

September 25, 2010

Gerald and Helen Homecoming 2010

Part II

The guys from the American Legion came the Friday afternoon before homecoming to set the tent up. It was quite a job to set up and a very hot day. (It has been in the upper 90's for most of July and August and very humid. It felt like the furnace was on outside and it hardly cooled down at night.) The tent is over 35 years old and you could see that the pegs and posts had been well hammered over the years.

I was so excited to see the tent going up. That meant all the hard work of planning and set up was almost over and the fun part of decorating and partying could begin! Don't you just love that part too?

We put the tables and chairs underneath the tent and set up the gift table. We also set up the croquet game.

For the 2006 reunion I had ordered a really neat bounce house for the children. It was a great success and kept the children entertained for hours, allowing the parents to relax and visit knowing their children were safe. I decided to do that again this year. We reserved it way ahead of time from True Value Rentals. They came and set up the Clown Bounce House early on Saturday morning. The costs were $150 for a 24 hour rental, $25 for insurance (otherwise if it gets damaged you have to pay for a new one) and $50 for them to come and set it up and take it down. We opted for them to come and set it up because it is a pain to go get it and then take it down. It has to be folded exactly right when packing it up. We all had enough to do.

Rachel playing with her nieces, Brooklyn and Kelsey.
Photo by 'Beka Aardsma, August , 2010.
Clown Bounce House

Homecoming day dawned misty, but not raining. I was so excited I didn't sleep much the night before. There was still much to do! We had cleaned the house spic and span and even waxed all the floors. I love having my house all cleaned up and ready for my loved ones! I knew it wouldn't stay clean long. 'Beka had scrubbed our new deck. It really looked nice, but with the misty raining it quickly got tracked up. Chickens were defrosting in the kitchen, potatoes were scrubbed, snacks laid out. We were abuzz with activity! My heart was racing just like my legs!

As folks began arriving we had them put their names in a hat for our door prizes. We had three different sets of door prizes, ringing the bell when it was time for the drawing. Starting with the youngest grandchild, they took turns picking out names. We did two names at each drawing. Once their name was drawn they could go to the gift table to pick the item of their choice. Each person could only win once. Their names were not put back in the hat. I loved watching the children's faces as the drawing took place, hoping they would win a prize.

All year long I looked for gifts for the gift table. At the end of summer sales I was able to pick up some real deals on summer toys, adding to the fun. I had purchased classic books, classic toys (jacks) and even the modern fad "Nano Bugs" that Tim and Caleb insisted be on the gift table. I wonder who they thought might want them?

Kelsey picked out the Nano Bug from the gift table.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
Kelsey's Nano Bug

Laura helping Brooklyn pick out a door prize.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
What prize do you want, Brooklyn?

The first item on the agenda was the Treasure Hunt for children ages 12 and under. Earlier that morning, before the guests arrived, we hid the clues for the Treasure Hunt. Each child was given their first clue, which would tell them where to go to find their second clue. For example, the clue might read, "Mailman, letters, parcels, box, near road." Ah! Mailbox. The child runs to the mailbox, opens up the box and finds their next clue, telling them "pigs, food, can, barn, hay, straw." Ah! The pig food bin in the barn. Each clue had the child's name on it so they wouldn't get confused and pick up someone else's clue. The older the child the more clues they had and the harder they were to figure out. The babies and toddlers were included also. Their parents helped them find their clues. At the last clue each child found their treasure bags. For the older children we made them climb trees and go places like up high in the rafters of the barn to find their treasure bags.

Rachel helping her niece Katie read her clues for the Treasure Hunt.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
What does it say, Katie?

My son-in-law Steve helping Sammy
read his Treasure Hunt clues.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
Steve helping Sammy.

My daughter Laura helping Kelsey read her clues.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
Laura helping Kelsey.

Most of the work for the Treasure Hunt was done well ahead of time. Knowing we would be busy during the summer, we did much of the preparation while the snow was still flying.

I wasn't sure what to use for the actual treasure bags but I knew I didn't want plastic grocery bags. I wanted to make sure the kids bags didn't get mixed up and I wanted the bags to be durable throughout the day. I also wanted each child's bag to be unique. Then I had an idea. There are always tons of cute little bags and cloth purses at thrift stores. Why not use those for the kids treasure bags? It was easy to find adorable bags for the girls, but finding bags for the boys was tougher. I searched garage sales and thrift stores and finally got some very nice ones for each child, using some knapsack type bags for the boys.

One of Sammy's clues hidden in our apple trees.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
A clue hidden in our apple trees.

Caleb's clues were harder and he got stumped on this one.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
Caleb's clues were harder.

I found it Daddy! Boost me up!
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
I found it Daddy!

I found that a great way to collect toys, books, games, etc. for the treasure bags is to always be on the lookout for stuff. Garage sales often have free boxes full of tiny toys that work great for this kind of thing. I collect them all year long putting them in a large Rubbermaid storage container, not worrying what is for who yet.

Run, Katie, run!
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
It is the simple things in life....Such fun!

Tim gave his neice Kelsey a hand.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
What is an Uncle for, anyway?

When it came time to put the treasure bags together, we lined up all the bags on the dining room table with name tags on each bag. Then we started going through the Rubbermaid container, putting items on the bags that matched the child's age and interests. We went round and round until all the items were used up. We also had some candy treats like gummy bears and lolipops for each child. I didn't want the kids to have too much candy, just a few figuring they would want to eat them right away.

I found it, Grandma!
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
I found it, Grandma!

Rachel and Katie examine the treasures.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
Look what I got, Rachel!

Rachel and I made up the clue cards on index cards, putting stickers on each one and numbering them, making a set for each child. Each set of clues we put into an envelope with the child's name on it, each clue in numerical order. On the day of the Homecoming, I had Beka, Rachel and Timothy help put out the clues. This is time consuming doing it all by yourself, so extra hands were great for this project.

It was delightful watching the kids running to find their clues and treat bags. All the work to put together the Treasure Hunt was worth it! The only shame was I couldn't watch all the children at once!

David helps his daughter, Cailyn, find her treat bag in the mailbox.
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
Sweet success!

I knew that Sammy would love all the balls in his treasure bag!
Photo by Helen Aardsma, August , 2010.
Little boys and rubber balls go together.

To be continued......

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