“The Great Debaters”

Ever since the movie, The Great Debaters, was released, we’ve wanted to see it. We finally got a chance to watch it on DVD this past week. And we’re glad we did.

“The Great Debaters” is about a debate team from Wiley College, an historically African-American United Methodist college, located in Marshall, Texas. The college was founded eight years after the end of the Civil War (1873). The movie is set in 1935.

Wiley College debated larger African-American schools and, when possible, white colleges and universities, and ultimately won the national championship. It’s an inspirational story from a painful time in American history.

For more on the movie, check out the movie review from UMC.org. See also Denzel Washington’s video message to United Methodists. Denzel Washington plays Melvin B. Tolson, a professor and coach of the debate team. See also this list of news stories at UMC.org.

Let us know if you’ve seen the movie and what you thought about it. If you rent the DVD, be sure to check out the bonus feature that tells the true story behind the movie; it includes interviews of people connected to the story.

We thought the courage and determination shown by the characters (and the real-life people behind the story) was very inspiring!

Ethan’s Adoption

We just added a new page to the navigation menu above called Ethan’s Adoption. It’s an attempt to summarize the story of our adoption journey and to point to some of the key posts written along the way.

We hope it will be helpful to those who are getting to know us in Clearfield as well as be a reminder for those who have followed our journey from the start. We also hope it will be a resource for others who find their way here in their quest to learn more about adoption, particularly international adoption.

If you have questions, or if there is anything we need to clarify and/or improve, please post a comment here to let us know. We will make adjustments to the page as necessary and/or as the story continues to unfold.

Thanks for journeying with us!

Our Little Musician

Ethan is trying out several instruments in his young life.

In July, we were impressed when he learned to blow into his recorder and make a tone. I guess we won’t be giving him a straw to drink from anytime too soon. He’ll probably blow bubbles rather than drink from it! (Cheap recorders are only 88 cents at Wal-mart.)

Two weeks ago my Uncle Wayne brought him a “canjo” to try out. It is handmade by my uncle and this one is a mini-sized version, just Ethan’s size. It is a simple instrument with one string, ideal for introducing anyone to a stringed instrument. If Uncle Wayne has his way, Ethan will be playing bluegrass!

Ethan has also been trying out the bongos. My mom gave me a set when I was teaching, and since Ethan has come along, I’ve played around on them more than ever! Ethan has always shown us, “I’ve got rhythm” — he bops with just about anything that has a beat. Some of the first items: the washing machine and even the sound of me filing my nails!

And of course, there’s the piano. He goes to the piano on his own and expresses he wants the lid open “to play.”

Just as it is important for children to be exposed and to discover their own interests (as opposed to those of their parents), it’s important for children to be exposed to different instruments and sounds. When I was in elementary school and choosing a band instrument, my mother hoped I’d play the clarinet, but I wanted to play the flute. What won my mother over was watching a Miss America Pageant together on TV where one of the contestants played the flute. (I’m still not a great fan of the clarinet.)

Who knows if Ethan will be a musician or if he is, what he’ll play or what kind of music he’ll play. Maybe he’ll even be a dancer! His Sunday School teacher commented on his “tap dancing” last Sunday.

Life Realignment :: Nutrition

I recently started a series of posts called Life Realignment, reflecting on 4 key areas we need to work on as we get settled as new parents in a new home, a new community, and new churches.

First on the list is nutrition. I’ve always been interested in nutrition, including the latest information and reports of how some foods have been to shown to have certain benefits. (It gets interesting, though, when some studies seem to contradict other studies.)

As we’ve written before, many of our routines have been shaken up with all of the transition we’ve experienced this year, including how/what we eat. Joleen sometimes says that she doesn’t really know what she eats because we’re usually focused on feeding Ethan.

Speaking of Ethan, he gives us motivation to eat well. We want him to eat well, and in order for that to happen, we have to model that for him.

While I’ve always been interested in nutrition, I have not always eaten as well as I should. Because weight gain has not been a problem for me (I’ve spent most of my life trying to gain weight!), I’ve been sloppy at times with my nutrition.

It’s not so much that my nutrition is poor as much as I need it to be better. While I have not struggled with weight gain, I have struggled with high cholesterol for all of my adult life. Up to this point, I’ve been able to control it with nutrition and exercise, but there are certain things I need to do more consistently to keep it in check.

There are a number of things I try to do (occasionally eating/using, in moderation, things like walnuts, cinnamon, olive oil, dark chocolate, etc.), for me the big three things I need to do consistently include …

  1. Avoid foods high in saturated fat as much as possible.
  2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed (which I grind in a coffee grinder, one used only for flaxseed) on cereal. I’ve been doing this (sometimes consistently, sometimes inconsistently) over the course of the last several years. Actually, I just got back to doing this last week for the first time since we went to Korea in early February!
  3. Since November 2007 I have been drinking a glass of Minute Maid Heart Wise Orange Juice, which has plant sterols, two times a day. Studies have shown that drinking this juice twice a day reduces cholesterol (studies were conducted for 8-10 weeks, if I remember correctly). (I haven’t had my cholesterol checked since I started drinking this juice, so I can’t say it’s had an impact yet.)

We also want to eat well is to maximize our energy levels. Eating well should help us to have more energy, and, these days, we need all the energy we can get! 😀

The United Methodist Committee on Relief

There are several organizations, or causes, that are close to our hearts. We’ve written about a few of them before (see posts categorized as causes).

One great cause is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), a disaster response effort on behalf of the United Methodist Church.

UMCOR is an impressive organization, one that’s well-respected in the national/international community. In fact, UMCOR managed the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) program of distributing international aid for more than two years after Katrina (see Katrina Aid Today).

This is particularly a good time to learn more about UMCOR as they prepare to respond to Hurricane Gustav (see link for details and ways to help). Gustav made landfall in Louisiana yesterday, 3 years and a few days after Katrina.