A Super Soup Supper

It started with a random comment at a 4H meeting.

The swing set at the park in our small rural community was in sad state and the baby swing was broken.

“We should take it on as a 4H project!” they said.

Great idea! But we’re a very small club. We would need to raise some money.

The easiest fund-raiser for a club of six kids? A soup supper.


Excitement built as we set a date, planned a menu and and printed hand-outs.

The kids made posters and the leaders and the moms (all five of us) started baking, cutting veggies, and making soup.

The food started arriving early on the night of the supper.

And so did the community.

Lots of them.

On a raw March evening with the skies threatening snow, we packed the tables in our community hall.

Moms dished the soups, but our 4H kids were a part of everything else – keeping veggie plates filled, plating desserts, pouring drinks, busing tables, washing dishes.

And they were excited! You could see it in their eyes. This was big. Way bigger than we imagined.

Half way through we started adding to the soups to stretch them.

And still they came.

A cross section of community. Retired couples, young families, grandparents with grandchildren.

All there for the kids. For the park. For the future.

Some even brought desserts to add to our offerings.

The tables were never empty and our donation box was filling up.

When the last guest buttoned up and headed out in the cold and those now exhausted kids had helped clean up, we opened up the donation box and counted the money.

Their excitement was infectious as the pile of bills added up!

And up and up.

The total surpassing our expectations by many, many dollars.

This went way way beyond just a new baby swing and some fresh paint!

This could get memorial trees for our two 4H members killed in a car accident last summer!

This could get a handicapped swing!

The ideas were flying as we turned out the lights and headed home.

Exhausted but exhilarated.

Those six kids learned some very valuable lessons that night.

About having an idea and how to make it happen.

About working hard and serving others.

And about community and what can happen when we work together.

It was a pretty super soup supper!



Our Thanksgiving weekend turned out to be quite a busy one – so busy that it’s taken us all a few days to recover!

We started out on Thanksgiving Day at church where we helped to serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal to anyone in the community who didn’t have a place to go or family to spend the day with.


It was the second year the church opened its door for a Thanksgiving meal and we were thrilled with the attendance and support.

My responsibility was to cook and bring the turkeys and make the gravy. I fretted over that gravy.

I prayed over that gravy.

I’m happy to report that it was well received! 🙂

The kids loved hanging out after they helped served drinks and cut pie.

Then as soon as we had the clean-up under control we loaded up our crew and left straight from church to head up to Jan’s brother’s place in the Twin Cities.

It was a 6+ hour trip and as we headed north the cold increased – as did the snow.


But it was worth it! The kids filled every minute with cousin time! I think they slept at some point- but I can’t verify that statement. 🙂

They watched movies, played in the snow, and even had a push-up competition.

Meanwhile I had some sweet time with 3 special nieces (you can read more about them here, here, here, and here), and did some major “thrifting” with my sister-in-law. Ahh – the bargains we found! 🙂


Jan and I had also chance to slip away and drive the extra 45 minutes north to the nursing home where my Grandpa and Grandma are now staying.

It was another bittersweet visit. Grandma knew exactly who I was and we had a lovely time together.  She held my hand as if – when she let go I would disappear.

She cried when I left.

I cried too.

Grandpa’s in the Alzheimer’s unit and he didn’t know me, but he seemed glad to see me anyway. He looked tired and a little lost.

I cried when I said good-bye to him too. I always wonder if it was our last visit.

The rest of the weekend went by in a blur of laughter and food!

We packed the gang up on Sunday morning and left for the return trip home – this time with some very tired and sick kiddos.

It was one of those weekends that we filled to the brim!

But I’m so glad we did – the memories we made were priceless!

Rural Community

Rural America.

To some it may seem isolated and lonely. The midwife who delivered my Angel Girl had to drive several miles on gravel and turn several times to find us.

Her comment was, “This may not be the end of the world, but I think I can see it from here!”

But what those people don’t see is the real community that exists in a rural area.

For example, I ran errands yesterday with my sister-in-law from Chicago.

We stopped at the REC to pay our bill and I was greeted by name. The same thing happened at the bank a few minutes later.

A stop at Dollar General included a chat with the check-out gal and our visit to local thrift store not only yielded us some great buys, but also visits with 2 neighbors.

Our last stop of the trip was the grocery store where not only did the check-out gal know me, she punched my card for my sister-in-law’s purchases (she figured we were related) and then offered to carry out our bags. That’s small town service at its best.

My sister-in-law was impressed.

I don’t blame her. It impressed us, too. We were so impressed that we moved here.

Now we’re planting our roots deep and doing all we can to keep the feeling of community alive.

What a heritage!

Lunching a Farm Auction

Homemade apple pieWe just spent the entire day helping our 4H Club lunch a neighbor’s farm auction. We’ve discovered that although it’s a lot of work, it does bring in some good money for the club, and it’s lots of fun!

Lunching an auction means we carried in tables, prepared pork sandwiches, bought chips, plates, pop and water and made a whole lotta desserts. We had 2 entire tables full of cakes, brownies, cookies, and several kinds of homemade pies.

Then we spent the rest of the day selling it all. Since we were the only food or drinks on the farm, we had a monopoly on sales and did quite well. (Especially with pop and bottled water as the afternoon heated up!)

This was our third auction to lunch and I think we finally have the food figured out. The first auction we ran out of food quite early. The second one we had way too much, but this one turned out really well. Although you never really know how many to expect and how hungry or thirsty they’ll be!

A farm auction is quite a social event and brings out all the neighbors. I saw lots of denim and cowboy boots today with a nice mix of hats, both cowboy and seed corn. There were Grandpas with their grandchildren, young newly-married Amish couples, friends, neighbors and the occasional antique dealer.

Some were there looking for a deal, others were just there to socialize. But everybody needed to be fed!

It was a fun day, but a tiring one. I’m ready for a cool shower, a large glass of water and a some time on the couch. I probably won’t look at another pork sandwich for a long time!