Saturday, March 15, 2008


Returning to Sunday family dinners
By Cornelia Seigneur
Thursday, March 13, 2008 OREGONIAN SW WEEKLY
Last month my daughter, Rachel, and I traveled to San Francisco to apply for her German passport. We added to our weekend a visit with my college friend Meri Bartolomucci and her husband, Ray Bartolomucci, who live in the area.
When Rachel and I arrived on a Friday, Ray, a restaurateur, announced he would cook a Sunday family dinner for us and a few others.
The Bartolomuccis go to church Saturday nights, so Sunday began not with preparation for church but with prep for dinner. Meri and I returned from a morning run at 11:30 to the aroma of garlic, sausage and onions. Dinner would not be until 7.
Though Ray's back was injured, there he was preparing a multicourse meal. Meri said, "Sunday dinner is an all-day labor of love for Ray."
Said Ray, "I grew up with Sunday night dinners."
Meri, Rachel and I went off with one of the Bartolomucci children to tour -- and taste -- two of the restaurants Ray and Meri recently opened. Meanwhile, Ray continued preparing the meal, including boiling potatoes -- 10 pounds of potatoes, to be exact.
"Those are for homemade gnocchi," Ray explained on our return. He taught Rachel how to roll them out by hand.
As family and friends arrived, we found our spots at the table. After Ray's thanksgiving prayer, we began sharing our Sunday dinner. It felt like family.
The evening inspired me to want to begin our own Sunday dinners, a tradition my husband, Chris, grew up with.
After Chris and I met in college, he'd take me to his parents' Sunday dinners in their cozy Milwaukie home, a tradition he shared with his sisters. remember the winter dinners especially, with the wood stove burning and the smell of a roast simmering and potatoes bubbling. Chris' dad greeted us with a hug and we'd hear a warm "Welcome" from Chris' mom in the kitchen.
So, even before Chris and I married, I felt very much at home with his parents -- like family.
After Chris and I married, we could not always make the Sunday dinners. Then the kids and life got busier and the dinners stopped.

Chris and I have created other family traditions instead. But Meri and Ray's Sunday meal inspired me.
Upon my recent return from San Francisco I told Chris, "I think we should make Sunday dinners a tradition like your folks used to do. It's a great way to kick off the week, and the kids could invite their friends. It'll create lifelong memories, as you've had and Ray has."
Chris liked the idea. But he said, "Ray's shoes are hard to fill -- Ray owns restaurants. Plus, I like my Sunday naps."
"Well, I'll be the one cooking," I countered.
"But someone will have to clean," he reminded me.
I'll worry about that part when we get closer. For now, it's all about family.
Real Life Mom appears the second Thursday of the month.
Visit Cornelia Seigneur, a West Linn writer and mom of five, at her Web site:

Sunday, March 9, 2008


My daughter Rachel and I were in San Francisco last weekend to apply for Rachel’s German passport as well as visit my college friend Meri and her family who live in Pleasanton. During the weekend, Meri’s niece Hillary had a basketball game in the Oakland Coliseum Arena, which was a huge deal. Meri’s sister Teri –Hillary’s mom - invited family members to come watch, and they all came from as far away as two hours.
Hillary’s team creamed the opposing team by about 15 points, and usually Hillary gets substituted into game in the second quarter, but in this game, she was not allowed to play at all.
Zero. Zip. Not a minute, not two minutes, not 20 seconds. Nada. This was bad enough and then I found out that a couple of other girls, who were seniors, also did not get to play during this game, part of some championship series.
That is ridiculous. I mean, the team was ahead, way ahead, and being able to play in the Oakland Coliseum is a huge deal, an opportunity that comes along rarely – unless you are a professional athlete. What were those coaches thinking? Did they think that they would lose by letting members of their second string play? If they are on the team, they must be decent players.
Those coaches were missing the point of the game. Sure, it’s fun being on a winning team, but those girls who were not allowed to play will always remember that they missed this chance. Years later, it’s not about winning so much as it is about how you play the game, and it is just not fair to leave players on the bench the entire game – that is not a good way to play the game. If the coaches were worried about winning, they chould have substituted during the second or third quarters or figured some way to let all have that once-in-a-lifetime chance.
In the end, those coaches are taking the love of the game out of those girls who were not allowed to play. Sure, they celebrated, sure they were happy to win, but deep down, I am sure they were thinking and wondering, what is wrong with me? I am sure they felt out of it. I am sure they felt not a part of the team. Because playing makes you part of the team. Those coaches missed the point and did those girls wrong.
I say – Let the girl play ball!

-- Cornelia Seigneur


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Cousins bicycling at Champeog Park

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