Thursday, October 11, 2007


I took my three younger sons on a hike today at Tryon Creek Park in Lake Oswego Oregon. I love going on hikes with my kids. It feels so good to get outdoors, into nature, away from electronics, even if it is only for a half hour or hour.

Some of my best memories are going into the woods with my grandma Omi in Germany, into the Taunus in Bad Homburg v.d.H. She went hiking pretty much every day and I loved that time with her. We talked, we examined mushrooms on the way, she sang her German folks songs. Then, we'd find a café along the paths -- yes that was great – and had German torte and coffee together.
Kids today need to get outside more, into nature, into the woods. When I was first studying to be a high school English teacher 20 years ago, I taught Henry David Thoreau and I loved his perspective about going into the woods. To live deliberately. To suck the marrow out of life.
On our hike today, I told the kids to be on the lookout for spiders, to see how many they could find and Augustin, 4, had such a fun time.
"I see one there, Mommie," he exclaimed several times. The twins, freshly minted 10, were still a bit into their digital world at first, talking about their DC games and such. "Join us," I said to them, "join the real world. Look for spiders."
"This is the real world, Mom," they countered.
My goal is to make the outdoors more of the real world to them. It takes time. To slow down. To detox from nintendo.
I did engage them eventually in the nature, making a game of our hike, looking for spiders and talking about their day, looking at mushrooms, asking how their day was.
Then, as will happen when you get brothers together, the twins started teasing their baby brother: "I found a thousand spiders." And that got Augustin upset. "No-I found more!"
"Okay, guys, no fighting in the woods." I guess I can't totally escape the reality of three boys together. They will tease, they will get at each other, they will be boys, but at least it is surrounded by trees and ivy and leaves and a soft path instead of neon lights.

Cornelia Becker Seigneur [also known as Nellie]


40 DAYS IN THE LIFE OF A MYSPACE WRITER MOM -My REAL-LIFE MOM column in Today’s Oregonian Newspaper

By Cornelia Seigneur
Thursday, October 11, 2007 The Oregonian's SW Weekly section
Afew years ago when my teenage daughter started the MySpace scene, I secretly opened a MySpace account as well to monitor her. I wanted to keep tabs on whom she was meeting and what she was saying in this online social network. But when she quit cyberspace, I quit as well.
Since then, I've been told at writing conferences from Portland to New York that it is important -- i.e., necessary -- for writers to have an Internet presence. A Web site for sure, a blog absolutely and a MySpace or Facebook account. To connect. To get your name out there. Just in case someone is looking.
I got my Web site running last December and began blogging regularly in early August.

And now, I'm back on MySpace.
Day One: I opened a MySpace account last week, and now the biggest thought on my mind is how to get more people in my "friends" section. Yikes, I feel like I am back in high school. Er, middle school?
It just does not look good to have only "Tom" as your friend, as everyone who knows MySpace understands that Tom is everybody's pal.
Day Two: I am thrilled when I get several requests from other MySpace members to be their friend. Yeah! Someone likes me. Then I realize most of the requests are from single or divorced guys looking for love. Whoops. I quickly figure out how to check the "married" box on the personal details page.
Now will anyone else want to be my friend?
Day Six: I am spending way too much time "searching" MySpace groups and asking people to be my friends. And people are saying yes! I feel so popular now.
Day Nine: I realize that my MySpace blog gets read more than my other blog because people are commenting on it and subscribing to it -- OK, I have a whopping six subscribers -- so I have been focusing more on MySpace to muse on life and family and kids and culture and news than my other blog.
Day 15: I am finding my favorite authors and musicians and even some of my favorite dead authors and musicians on MySpace. Wow, this does have far-reaching effects.
Day 21: My daughter is teasing me for talking about MySpace so much, especially since her friends are saying, "Hey, your mom requested me as her friend on MySpace."
Yes, it's true. As a youth group volunteer at our church, I realize that many of the kids I work with are on MySpace. For all the bad rap MySpace has received, this connection is nice.
Day 30: Wow, I have over 120 friends now, and all sorts of people are requesting me to be their friend. I am even being more selective on whom I approve, as somehow, some way, a woman in a slinky bikini has appeared on my page. I need to be more careful whom I call friend -- unless someone changed her photo?
Day 40: I have to confess that, again, MySpace is eating up way too much of my time. I make up the excuse, "It is for work," but really I need to exercise self-control. I am so embarrassed by the amount of time I am spending on MySpace that I have hidden the flashing icon that tells people when I am online.
Now, if only I could hide my age, I'd be happy.
Visit Cornelia Seigneur at or e-mail her at

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A HUNTING SHE WILL GO - Give me my food Saran-wrapped

On Sunday, Oct. 7, The Oregonian newspaper’s cover story, A-hunting she will go - Following her grandpa, Vanessa Smith sets out to do what far fewer Oregon kids do these days: bag her first kill, triggered a
a bag of letters to the editor with the usual PC language – how dare someone teach children (or grandchildren) to kill – was the feeling of one angry writer.
Okay, where do you think that barbequed chicken on your table came from – a tree?
The very people against hunting are fine with eating meat as long as it is cleaned up and bagged in a nice clear Saran wrapper and in my freezer.
That, I admit, was my view before I met my husband 24 years ago. My dad was not a hunter, my brother was not a hunter, I did not even know a hunter. I was a city girl. We did not own guns for that matter growing up. So, it was a complete shock to me when in college my husband and I were discussing in the Pilot House at the University of Portland hunting. He said he hunts grouse and pheasant, and I said, you hunt, you actually kill animals? . . . .Then, four years later I marry the man, and he hunts yearly with his dad and he’s taken our son Ryan, now 16, hunting.
I have grown to appreciate hunters – and fishermen – a lot. They are some of the most nature-loving people I know. They love the outdoors, getting dirty, navigating the countryside in boots and heavy jacket, through some of the most beautiful countryside in Oregon. And hunting and fishing are a part of that experience. If they bring nothing home, it is still a great adventure for them, being outside. Like Henry David Thoreau, it is not about the hunt but about nature.
Hunters do not care any less about the life of an animal than non-hunters; it is just that they know where their meat comes from. Hunters keep the wildlife population in check. They are not out there just for the kill, but they eat the meat they kill. Conservationists say in the Oregonian story that hunters are “the original preservationists." The Oregonian quoted Rick Hargrave, spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife: "In Oregon, the culture and heritage is based on hunting and fishing. If you cut hunting and fishing out of the equation, you are impacting the wildlife as a whole
Our generation of children is being raised on video games and electronics and television -- being left inside instead of being given the gift of the outdoors. And, children are getting farther and farther away from realizing where their food comes from.
Hunting and fishing bring them
back to nature. Back to real life. Back to true free-range food.

Cornelia Seigneur aka Nellie

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I feel like I am always nagging my kids. Do this, remember that, don’t forget this, stop that. So in about 3 minutes, I made a list of things I say to my kids, not in any particular order, just things that came to mind. Anyone get the idea I have four boys. Our daughter is definitely outnumbered.

74 THINGS I say to my kids in a day –

Time to get up!
Make your bed please!
Did you make your bed?
Open the door to the bathroom!
Be nice!
Stop teasing your brother!
You only have 15 minutes left, hurry!
The bus is coming!
Eat your breakfast!
No cake for breakfast.
Don’t slurp your food.
Are you the Captain Crunch police?
What do you want for your lunch?
Finish your breakfast!
Turn off the TV.
Did you brush your teeth.
The bus is almost here!
Where is your lunch box?
Where are your shoes?
Change your boxers!
Take a shower!
Hang up your towel.
Pick up your towel.
Is that the same shirt from yesterday?
That’s the same shirt from yesterday?
Wear a jacket – it’s cold out there.
Eat your fruit.
Are you playing Nintendo?
Are you playing X-box?
Are you playing DS?
Play outside!
Sweep the floor please.
Unload the dishes.
Did you remember to take out the garbage?
Did you start your homework yet?
You don’t have any homework today?
Vacuum the floor please.
Don’t sass me!
Go to your bedroom for a timeout!
Stop teasing your brothers!
Did you hit your brothers?
Stop fighting!
Can you please get the mail?
Take off your shoes when you come inside!
How many times do I have to tell you to take off your shoes inside?
Did you wash your hair?
Did you floss your teeth?
You did not brush your teeth very long!
Did you change your socks?
Where is your backpack?
Did you read today?
You need to read today.
Can you please pick up the mess in the living room?
Please set the table.
Don’t burp at the table.
Eat your salad.
Eat your carrots.
No dessert until you eat your salad.
Save some for your brother.
Why did you eat all of the ice cream?
Where’s your soccer bag?
Where are your soccer shoes?
I told you to put your soccer shoes inside your soccer bag last night.
Did you put away your clean clothes?
Can you bring up your dirty clothes
Why are there clean clothes mixed up in your dirty clothes pile?
Get ready for bed.
Get your PJ’s on!
Why are your PJs not on?
I told you to get your pajamas on.
Where’s the book you are reading?
Your teeth do not look clean, brush them again.
Read your bible and say your prayers.
I love you!

Cornelia Seigneur

Monday, October 8, 2007


On August 27 ABC’s Nightline, the discussion was centered around the start of school and what the nation’s schools are doing about childhood obesity. Nightline reported that a certain school district targeted over 100 families with overweight children, offering them a free exercise program.
Sound like a great deal? Only eight families took the schools up on their offer while others got mad.
One mom said that her son had genes to be larger while her son said it did not make him “feel very good” to have people think he was larger. Another parent said that this was an invasion of her privacy. Come on. Face reality and have some humility. If your child has an issue, be honest with yourself and the school – and your child – and do something.
Today’s schools have been made to teach more than the three R’s, and the question is, how far should the schools go in the childhood obesity problem. Blame has been placed on the bad food in school cafeterias as well as the junk food and pop sold in the hallways. All of this is nothing new. Kids being bombarded with ads has been given as a reason for childhood obesity as well.
All these things may contribute to overweight children, but I say, the bottom line in fighting childhood obesity is to build exercise into your family naturally and offer your children healthy food. Walk to the store. To the soccer game. Don’t drive your child everywhere. Ride a bike.
Families have to be ultimately responsible for their children’s health, but if the schools want to help, don’t be offended. Instead admit there is a problem and say, “Hey, Johnny, let us try this exercise program.” Have him invite a friend along. It is much easier at age 8 or 10 dealing with weight issues than at 20. Don’t keep worrying about self-esteem. Have your child be honest with himself now, deal with it, overcome it and that will build true self esteem.
And, offer fresh carrots and apples instead of prepackaged food. It will save money as well as the health.

Cornelia Seigneur aka Nellie

OREGON FAMILY ON EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME EDITION LAST NIGHT. . .reminds us to be thankful for every breath of life we are given.

I watched Extreme Makeover Home edition last night. I generally find the show too emotional, but because they featured a Corvallis Oregon family, I decided to tune in. The family included a 8-year-old girl whose cancer came back after it had been in remission. They lived in a fixer- upper that had mold growing in it, a broken dishwasher, walls crumbling, and due to the little girl's illness they were not able to fix the house up as originally planned, so the Home Makeover crew came to the rescue.
They tore down the old house and built the family a brand new, environmentally friendly home which lets in lots of natural light to help the little girl stay healthy. The sweet little girl with her shaved head said she prays a lot and is so grateful for her new home, which included a pink bedroom with mannequins that she could dress with wigs.
Even in the midst of her suffering, she reaches out to other children and adults with cancer by giving them stuffed bears.
I cannot imagine having a child with cancer or any illness like that. It reminds me once again that everyday we should give thanks for our very breath, the ability to walk, talk, read, see, hear, taste, hug our child. Pray. Don't wait till a tragedy to appreciate the little things in life, which become gigantic in the midst of suffering.

Cornelia Seigneur aka Nellie

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Why I like independent coffee shops -

On Fridays I began making it a tradition to treat myself to sitting in a coffee shop called Happy Rock in Gladstone Oregon, a small, truly old fashioned, non-trendy town. No chain stores exist in Gladstone; it has a barber shop, this coffee shop, a police station, and a new deli, also independent.
I discovered Happy Rock Coffee Shop after dropping off my 4-year-old at the local Baptist Church preschool (Mom’s Morning Out) last spring, and fell in love it from the moment I stepped foot inside. That first day when I walked in, I saw a group of men, probably freshly retired men, playing cribbage and they looked up at me from their game when I arrived as if to see if I am someone they know. I think they know every other person that walked in.
I ordered my coffee from shop owner Chris who makes me the most beautiful mocha I have seen in my life: all fancy on the top, swirly whipped cream and chocolate syrup. I settle into my seat with my books and journal and laptop to work and the “retired” men notice that I am writing, striking up a conversation with me.
“So, what are you writing?” I tell them I am a freelance journalist for The Oregonian newspaper and I tell them this coffee shop would make a perfect story. As more people come into Happy Rock, the men playing cribbage greet them by name and guests seem to have an account with Chris to pay later. The owner’s girlfriend comes in with her daughter and we talk about writing and God and life.
Next week I go back with my preschooler and the guys playing cribbage remember my name. “What are you writing about now, Cornelia?” they ask.
I think about all the people I want to bring back to the Happy Rock coffee shop. I brought my daughter -- she’s 17 and loves independent gathering places, especially if it is not Starbucks.
I brought my friend Jeanie and we met another lady who had also just discovered Happy Rock café. She began playing cribbage with the guys. “Have you ever played before?” I asked her. She rode her bike several miles to get to Happy Rock. “No. But I learn quickly,” she said.
During last summer I did not come as often to Happy Rock but began again this fall when my 4-year-old started back at preschool.
Why do I like independent coffee shops – and stores in general -- so much? I guess I like the small guy trying to make it on his own. The underdog. The guy who has to struggle a bit. I like discovering these types of places and the people you meet in them.
I thought about the woman who was learning how to play cribbage and I thought, Oh, I should try that, but I just don’t have the patience. For now, I just watch them play – and greet all the locals.

Cornelia Seigneur aka Nellie


In Oregon there is Measure 49 to vote on in November and I am for it. It will help curb the craziness of allowing people to build whatever they want, wherever they want it for whatever reason. Now I am not a big government intervention advocate, but we do need planners to help keep land use in check.
The opponents say, "It's my property, I can do what I want with it." Well, think about this. Would you want Walmart next door to you?
That's why I'm voting Yes on 49 - save our land from overdevelopment.
Cornelia Seigneur

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pledging allegience to the flag in churches?

Okay, this may offend some, but I need to ask the question about the American flag and my question is: why do we salute the American flag in churches today?
I mean, this not in anyway against America, I am not anti-American nor am I a flag-burning liberal before you label me, but the other day I was at an AWANA’S meeting at church for my kids and they had the kids pledge allegiance to the US flag and then they had the kids pledge allegiance to the AWANA flag and I thought, why are we doing this. I understand ceremony and our older son is in Boy Scouts and they salute the flag there, but I just have to ask myself, why are we doing this in evangelical churches? I feel we should not pledge allegiance to anyone but God and God alone.
Perhaps the church does this out of habit, or is it tradition? I am only asking. Wondering. Living the questions.

Cornelia Seigneur


Hidden Lake


Cousins bicycling at Champeog Park

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