Tuesday, January 27, 2009

still looking...

I read these blogs almost daily.
I pretend each one is a window to that friend's house.

The curtains are pulled back.
The shades are up.
For a few moments I can see inside their homes.

I see a lot of cute, precious moments. (thankfully not the figurines, I hate those things)
A lot of sweet happenings.
Beautiful and funny. "Awe...isn't that cute?"
Happy, sweet, precious.

I love looking in every day.

Sometimes I can identify. Sometimes I can play along because I know all the parts. I know when to smile. I know when to laugh. I know what comes next. Sometimes it is all familiar.

Then sometimes...it isn't.

Sometimes those windows seem to belong to families in far away lands. The language is foreign. The moments are distant. The setting is unfamiliar.

Just once, I'd like to see something that I can relate to.

A home where the children are just as beautiful, but are scarred.

A glimpse of what being born to a mother addicted to drugs can do to a child, even 8 years down the road.

A mother who stays up at night crying because she try as she may, she just can't *fix* her child.

A kid who works and works and works and rarely sees the effort pay off.

A mom who can help other people's kids with Autism achieve and perform more than anyone thought possible - but can't help her own kid read without tears and hearing him ask, "Why can't I do it Mama?"

A house where common words whispered late at night aren't "precious" or "amazing" or "brilliant" but are "dyslexia" or "neurological" or "WHY?????"

A kid who wants more than anything to be invited to somebody's...ANYBODY'S house. But the phone call never comes.

A boy who DREAMS of being a soldier or flying airplanes, but because his brain is wired differently he will never be given the chance to do either.

Kids who hear "You can do anything you set your mind to" but who LIVE with the daily reality of "No...I can't."

Lack of control.
Shift of focus.
TRUE appreciation.
Parents who question.
And wait and wait for answers.
And love them unconditionally, nonetheless.
And are still WAITING. Hoping. Praying. Begging. Pleading. WORRYING. Waiting.

If somewhere out there
There is somebody like them.

I haven't seen the t-shirts
Or the bumper stickers
Or the blogs

That remind me of my life.

So in case you run across one.

Just let me know.
Because sometimes...it would give comfort.
Just to know...

That somewhere.

In one of those houses.

Is a family like mine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the letter

Don't you love getting a letter? I do. There is nothing like opening the mailbox and there hidden among the junk and bills it waits. A personal thought brought to life with actual motion and touch of hand. Not email. Not a phone call. A letter.

A letter brings with it a connection. A familiarity. A relationship. Someone cares enough to slow down and pen their feelings. Letters are alive. Letters are warm. Letters are emotion.
On a day when EVERYBODY has an opinion, I have chosen the following as my favorite.

When Sasha and Malia Obama entered their new home they had a gift waiting for them. I'm sure there were many gifts; many tangible objects intended to welcome them to their new home. While all were no doubt enjoyed, I would guess that none will be as treasured as much as the one left by Barbara and Jenna Bush.

What they left may seem simple; it may seem insignificant. It isn't. The gift they left is priceless. They left a letter for the Obama girls. They also had it printed in today's Wall Street Journal. I am posting it tonight. Regardless of my acceptance or disagreement with President Bush's policies; he is still human. He is imperfect. He is chosen. He is somebody's Daddy.
It is my hope that today, people across the country will come to this realization. Regardless of their acceptance or disagreement with President Obama's policies; he is still human. He is imperfect. He is chosen. AND...he is somebody's Daddy.

This gift, this sentiment is beautiful indeed. I am certain that the Obama girls will one day cherish it and find it as eloquent and beautiful as I do now.

Sasha and Malia, we were seven when our beloved grandfather was sworn in as the 41st President of the United States. We stood proudly on the platform, our tiny hands icicles, as we lived history. We listened intently to the words spoken on Inauguration Day service, duty, honor. But being seven, we didn't quite understand the gravity of the position our Grandfather was committing to. We watched as the bands marched by -- the red, white, and blue streamers welcoming us to a new role: the family members of a President.
We also first saw the White House through the innocent, optimistic eyes of children. We stood on the North Lawn gazing with wonder at her grand portico. The White House was alive with devoted and loving people, many of whom had worked in her halls for decades. Three of the White House ushers, Buddy, Ramsey, and "Smiley", greeted us when we stepped into her intimidating hallway. Their laughter and embraces made us feel welcome right away. Sasha and Malia, here is some advice to you from two sisters who have stood where you will stand and who have lived where you live:

-- Surround yourself with loyal friends. They'll protect and calm you and join in on some of the fun, and appreciate the history.
-- If you're traveling with your parents over Halloween, don't let it stop you from doing what you would normally do. Dress up in some imaginative, elaborate costume (if you are like us a pack of Juicy Fruit and a Vampiress) and trick-or-treat down the plane aisle.
-- If you ever need a hug, go find Ramsey. If you want to talk football, look for Buddy. And, if you just need a smile, look for "Smiley."
-- And, a note on White House puppies--our sweet puppy Spot was nursed on the lawn of the White House. And then of course, there's Barney, who most recently bit a reporter. Cherish your animals because sometimes you'll need the quiet comfort that only animals can provide.
-- Slide down the banister of the solarium, go to T-ball games, have swimming parties, and play Sardines on the White House lawn. Have fun and enjoy your childhood in such a magical place to live and play.
-- When your dad throws out the first pitch for the Yankees, go to the game.
-- In fact, go to anything and everything you possibly can: the Kennedy Center for theater, State Dinners, Christmas parties (the White House staff party is our favorite!), museum openings, arrival ceremonies, and walks around the monuments. Just go. Four years goes by so fast, so absorb it all, enjoy it all!
For four years, we spent our childhood holidays and vacations in the historic house. We could almost feel the presence of all the great men and women who had lived here before us. When we played house, we sat behind the East sitting room's massive curtains as the light poured in illuminating her yellow walls. Our seven-year-old imaginations soared as we played in the enormous, beautiful rooms; our dreams, our games, as romantic as her surroundings. At night, the house sang us quiet songs through the chimneys as we fell asleep.

In late December, when snow blanketed the front lawn, all of our cousins overtook the White House. Thirteen children between the ages of two and 12 ran throughout her halls, energized by the crispness in the air and the spirit of the season. Every room smelled of pine; the entire house was adorned with thistle; garlands wound around every banister. We sat on her grand staircase and spied on the holiday dancing below. Hours were spent playing hide-and-go-seek. We used a stage in the grand ballroom to produce a play about Santa and his reindeer. We watched as the National Christmas Tree was lit and admired the chef as he put the final icing on the gingerbread house.
When it was time, we left the White House. We said our goodbyes to her and to Washington. We weren't sure if we would spend time among her historical walls again, or ever walk the National Mall, admiring the cherry blossoms that resembled puffs of cotton candy. But we did return. This time we were 18. The White House welcomed us back and there is no doubt that it is a magical place at any age.

As older girls, we were constantly inspired by the amazing people we met, politicians and great philosophers like Vaclav Havel. We dined with royalty, heads of states, authors, and activists. We even met the Queen of England and managed to see the Texas Longhorns after they won the National Championship. We traveled with our parents to foreign lands and were deeply moved by what we saw. Trips to Africa inspired and motivated us to begin working with HIV/AIDS and the rights of women and children all over the world.
Now, the White House ballrooms were filled with energy and music as we danced. The East sitting room became a peaceful place to read and study. We ran on the track in the front lawn, and squared off in sisterly bowling duels down in the basement alley.
This Christmas, with the enchanting smell of the holidays encompassing her halls, we will again be saying our good-byes to the White House. Sasha and Malia, it is your turn now to fill the White House with laughter.
And finally, although it's an honor and full of so many extraordinary opportunities, it isn't always easy being a member of the club you are about to join. Our dad, like yours, is a man of great integrity and love; a man who always put us first. We still see him now as we did when we were seven: as our loving daddy. Our Dad, who read to us nightly, taught us how to score tedious baseball games. He is our father, not the sketch in a paper or part of a skit on TV. Many people will think they know him, but they have no idea how he felt the day you were born, the pride he felt on your first day of school, or how much you both love being his daughters. So here is our most important piece of advice: remember who your dad really is.

Monday, January 19, 2009

3rd time's a charm

3 posts in one day...whoo whoo! This is really just a continuation of the ALDI post. Today while Griffin was eating lunch, I took some shots of a few of my ALDI deals. Here they are! BTW, if this works, it will be my first successful posting of a link. (Thanks Gigi)

More pictures/bargains to come. While we're at it...read up on ALDI for yourself. I think you'll be impressed. I'm already planning my next outing; we already need strawberries and we will soon need carrots. Gigi is with me. Kristin is too. How about you? Any other takers?

Happy MLK Day!

Today is a holiday. REGARDLESS of how you feel about it, it is a National Holiday. I always wonder about people who make comments about MLK Day. Do they not see the value of the contribution that Dr. King made? What about his life/legacy isn't worth celebrating? He was a peaceful man. He only wanted equality for his children. He wasn't about putting one race above another; he didn't want to be treated better than white people. He wanted to be treated equally. So...the next time you're around somebody that has a comment/crack on the validity of MLK day...do what I do. Think about their integrity. Think about their TRUE feelings. They are showing.

Now...on to a brighter subject. SAVING MONEY! Who loves ALDI? I DO! You all do know about ALDI, right? There is one in Trussville, but I go to the one on Greensprings. It's a grocery store and it is unlike any that I've ever been in. I first heard of it on a frugal mom blog this spring. The selling point for me was the gallon of milk for $1.99. Yep...you heard me right. I was sold. Everything there is pretty much cheap. Now, there are no "national brands." Everything is generic. I used to be 100% brand loyal. Then I had 3 growing boys. Goodbye loyalty. Now don't get me wrong; there are a few items that I will NEVER buy generic. Mayo for one. We ONLY eat Bama mayonnaise. And dental floss. I've tried them all, but I will only use Johnson & Johnson waxed mint floss. I like my Sun Silk shampoo. I like my Redken hairspray. I like Purex for my clothes. I like A1 Steak sauce. And we are 100% Heinz ketchup people. We eat Hunt's at Gigi's, but we secretly long for Heinz. I'm sure there are a few other loyalties, but nothing comes to mind now. I'm sure they will later. ANYWAY, everything is bobo (my term for generic). And, you have to pay 25 cents to "rent" a buggy. You get it back. I really don't get it, but that's the rule. Also, the store doesn't have actual shelves. All the food is put out in boxes. It is like shelves, but it is all actually in box/tray deals. No coupons. Of course, there are no coupons for bobo stuff. And no bags/baggers. You can buy bags, or bring your own. And, you either pay cash or debit. They keep the overhead low with all these rules. It works for me!

This spring, Mom and I went just for curiosity sake. Of course, we bought milk and such. We went a few weeks in fact. Then gas skyrocketed. I couldn't justify driving so far for a savings in milk when I was spending the saving in gas. Anyhoo, gas is back down. So yesterday, after church, I felt ALDI calling my name. So I went. Hello, old friend. SO NICE to see you again.

Milk has now gone up, regular is now $2.59 a gallon. Beat that ANYWHERE around here. I got so many other things as well. Strawberries, 99 cents a container. Baby carrots, 99 cents a bag. CEREAL, CHEAP! We go through the cereal. So, I bought 7 boxes. I am now buying the frozen juice concentrate deals. They are 99 cents there. I got lots more, I need to go back over my receipt to get specifics. Today while Griff was eating his feast, I took a few pics of some ALDI finds. Mom and I are going to make it a weekly outing again. If any of my blog pals want to meet and make an event of it, we'd love it! We could probably justify eating Mexican before, you know - we'll be saving so much dough once we get there. :)
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Who needs Chef Boyardee...

when you have these 3? Tonight Daddy had a board meeting at church, so I decided to enlist some help with dinner. Their favorite thing to do is eat; second favorite thing to do is cook. So...I decided that we'd get our cook on. And the grand menu: homemade pizza and fruit salad. (yummy yummy) All you Wiggles fans out there will most def. appreciate that last parenthetical number.
Here she is...the almost finished product. I put the pizza crust on the stone. The boys spread the sauce (almost independently). I shredded some fresh "farmer's cheese" from Miller's Cheese House. If you're a cheese fan like the Martins are - you simply must go to Miller's. Farmer's cheese is a white cheese, it's a milder version of their butter cheese. DEEEEEEE-LISH. Anyway, I shredded some for them to add to the "pre-shredded" colby/monterrey jack that we had. Add some garlic salt and voila....pizza. Of course, we had to make 2. Growing boys eat a ton. Plus we had to have something for Daddy-o when he got home.

Now for the fruit salad (yummy yummy). Here's the deal-e-o. My boys love some fruit. LOVE IT. You know how most kids love candy...that's how my boys love fruit. We made our own version of fruit salad (yummy yummy) and they learned many lessons in the process. We washed the strawberries, sliced them (yeah, they even used a "real knife" with assistance), used a can opener for the mandarin oranges, learned the hard way how and why to drain a can, peeled and chopped an apple, and added Keith's favorite - dried blueberries. I wanted to take a picture of the fruit salad (yummy yummy) when it was finished because it was so beautiful. I see all these pictures on many blogs of people's wonderful dishes, step by step. I could probably do that, if I didn't have 3 apprentice chefs beside me giddy with excitement. Picture it in your mind; it was a lovely side dish.

I don't remember the 1st time I used a can opener, but I imagine it was hard. Zack just couldn't hold the handle AND twist the top (in the right direction), so Keith had to help out. Look closely and you'll see Griffin's hand. He is VERY ANIMATED and talks with his hands, eyes, eyebrows, etc. Here you can see one of those sweet hands while his is telling "his bwuddahs" how they should open the can.

Finally we ate. By candlelight, mind you. Here Keith and Griffin are toasting with their apple juice, and Zack is showing off his pizza. Would Little Caesar's hot and ready have been easier? You bet. Would it have been better? Probably. Would I trade tonight for yummy pizza and easy clean up? Not for a million dollars. I'll take "homemade" pizza and fruit salad (yummy yummy) by my 3 boys any day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Compassionate or Called?

Greetings and salutations to my throngs of anxiously waiting readers (all 8 of you). :) Dinner is finished, the dishes are washed, the boys are bathed, the books and poems are read, the homework is complete, the 2.5 miles are walked, the husband is at Men's Meeting at church, the boys are separated each to his own room, the washing machine is running, the lunches are packed, the clothes are chosen and ready to be ironed, the shoes are off, the recliner is reclining, the feet are propped, the laptop is on my lap, the Lost marathon is softly playing in the background, the DVR is recording Intervention, and I am BLOGGING!

Yesterday's sermon by Jason, Pastor Extraordinaire was PHE-NOMENAL. Probably one of the best 3 I've ever heard IN MY LIFE. Not the best just from him, the best from EVERYONE. Man, he is hearing right from GOD and it is awesome. If it wasn't for anyone else in that packed church, it was for me. I haven't checked iTunes yet, but I am *really hoping* that is is already there waiting for me. I plan on listening and relistening all week as I walk. So Angie...I'm believing that you uploaded or downloaded or whatever you do to make it available and that as soon as I finish this post, it will be there. :)

I am surrounded by some mission minded people. Our church has always supported missions in a big way. We have 4 missionaries who came straight from VRC who are serving in South America now. My dad went with our mission team to Costa Rica a few years ago. My mom and dad both are going with a big team from church this summer. One of my dear friends at school, Jamey is a missionary...she goes on a mission trip every break it seems like. Really. She does. She's just cool like that.

Me - I've never felt the call. Before you roll your eyes and before I set off a tinder box worth of political posting 08, let me clarify. We have always supported missions. We have prayed, sent items (when applicable), given money, pledges, etc. I watch the video presentations at church and cry at all the right places; I sincerely feel for the people. I want them to know about Jesus. I feel terribly ashamed at our apathy and over-indulged culture in America. But I have never felt God leading me to a foreign land.

I have ALWAYS viewed my job as my mission field. Honestly, I have gotten angry with people who overlook such a ready, ripe harvest. I am so blessed to work where I work, with the children I work with. They have beautiful spirits, and sometimes terrible stories. God loves them just as much as he loves the children of the world. He doesn't view them as any less worthy of investment than he does children on a different hemisphere. I believe that sometimes we forget that. In my ponderings as to why people overlook the mission field that surrounds them, I have sometimes felt forgotten as well. I see others who are so passionate about their callings to "go and teach." Maybe that's not the best way to say it - we all know what I do for a living every day. I go and teach. But you know what I mean. I have sometimes wondered, "God, do you not have a calling for me?"

The closest thing I felt to "the calling" occurred in September of 07 at a Women's Conference in Springville. There was a precious lady there, a missionary of all things. :) She has a beautiful testimony - way too long and detailed for me to try and recollect. Long story short, she and her family run a place called Adullum House. The only way I know to explain it is like this: it's a temporary (hopefully) home for babies and children of imprisoned mothers. When a mom goes to prison at Julia Tutwiler, hopefully, her baby or child can go to Adullum House. While there, it gets love, an education, support, and a Christian foundation. Some of the babies are born to moms in prison; some are teenagers when they come. Anyway, this place SO needs helpers all the time. They need people to come and rock the babies. They need teachers to come and help at the school. They need people to play with kids, paint rooms, stock shelves. Sitting there in Springville, I told my mom, "I could TOTALLY go and do mission work somewhere like that."

Fast forward to last night. Actually, back up to 2 weeks ago. We were in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. I was awestruck at the dichotomy that existed. On one hand, tourists spending money hand over fist. Lines at Cafe' du Monde that stretched for blocks. Streets jam packed with people as far as the eye could see. Laughing. Spending money. Having a good time. Beautiful architecture. Beautiful music.

Then, I would look on one of those beautiful streets and see a homeless woman sleeping on the steps of one of those beautiful hotels. My boys said, "Mama...what is she doing?" We explained that she was homeless and that she didn't have a place to live. Shawn told them that whenever we see someone like that, we should immediately pray that Jesus would be with them and would bless them. They couldn't fathom it. Even though Keith and Zack were exaclty like her when they were smaller, they thankfully have no recollection of those times. I pray none of them ever experience anything like it again.

Anyway, we would be in the middle of New Orleans, amid all the prosperous happenings, and I would see a homeless person. The Hyatt, the tall, beautiful hotel that is adjacent to the Superdome is STILL closed. As we drove on the overpass that led to the Superdome, Shawn asked Chris, "Where is the bridge that was on CNN and FOX news during Katrina?' Chris replied, "This is it." I flashed back to that news clip, a bridge over troubled water (literally) with military tanks on it. HUNDREDS, maybe THOUSANDS of people standing in lines. A city underwater. It gave me chills knowing what had happened where we were. As we were in the dome at the game, I leaned over to Shawn and said, "Imagine being in here with thousands and thousands of people, with no electricity, no water, no food. " I couldn't imagine it.

Last night I was about to get in the floor for my almost nightly date of folding clothes. I flipped through the channels hoping that something good was going to be on. I saw that the National Geographic Channel was going to be showing a documentary called "Inside New Orleans High School" I put it on. I folded a few towels, matched a few socks. Then they had to sit and wait. I was mesmerized by what I saw.

Wow. To quote Lilly (you probably have to be a teacher to know the literary reference), "that's just about all I could say, WOW." It was based at Cohen HS in inner city New Orleans. AFTER Katrina. It isn't where tourists are going and spending lots of money. It is pitiful. It is heartbreaking. The conditions are inexcusable and unbelievable considering they are in AMERICA. The children are hopeless. They are pretty much destined to a life of poverty and crime...it is literally ALL THEY KNOW. It was so depressing and so devastating. And I couldn't tear myself from the tv. It was almost like the "Adullum house" feeling from Sept. 07, but MUCH stronger. I felt drawn to them. I felt love for them. I felt called to them.

Shawn had to run to the store to pick up a few things, and when he got home I had something to tell him. I said, "Shawn, I'm pretty sure that I'll go to New Orleans and teach kids to read." He has come to know not to question my "feelings" (the last ones included beating Georgia, Jason Allums as Pastor, and adopting Keith and Zack). Pretty much when Mama has a feeling, mama has a feeling. Now sometimes my feelings are off, circa the UA/au game of 2007. :) But more often than not, I'm on.

I'm telling you people...I'm ON. I don't know if it will be permanent or some sort of "mission trip" deal, but I am really feeling called to inner city New Orleans. (if my brother is reading this he probably just swallowed his tongue or fell out of his chair) I don't know when, I don't know how. I just KNOW that I will go. I want to open my front door and scream, "Why aren't people going NOW?" Why aren't their hearts breaking for the conditions these children are raising children in? Why is EVERYONE so quick to label and judge them? Have I been guilty of judging them?

In essence, what I guess I'm trying to say is this: I am very compassionate about the horrible, desperate conditions of inner city New Orleans. I am pretty sure that I am called to do something. I don't know exactly what that is yet, I just know that I'm supposed to do something. I'm not super-talented. I'm not politically correct, I'm not even available right now. I pondered all of this last night as sleep just wouldn't come. Why do I feel so passionate about a cause that I am so far removed from/so helpless to change?

Then it came to me. My a-ha, my epiphany. I am indeed called. I don't have to know HOW. I don't have to know WHY. I don't even have to know WHEN just yet. It all will come. I could see me standing in that housing project that it showed on Nat. Geo that is STILL CLOSED from Katrina. It's grown up, fenced up, messed up. Kids still play there; it is all they know. I could see me standing there with nothing. Empty hands. Nothing to offer. Drastically different than all of the ones that I am longing to *help*. But here's the kicker. I do have a connection. I have experience; not experience like theirs. But previous experience that will help me out. I know what it's like to love something that has been cast aside. I know what it's like to see dirty and broken children *transform* magically. I know what it's like to struggle with academic things that most people take for granted. I know what it's like to see the achievements celebrated of children who did "the best" when they didn't work 1/2 as hard as those sitting watching in the stands. I know what it's like to work with "those kids" that most people don't have the patience or desire to work with. And I LOVE IT.

So...one day...I'm going to New Orleans. I'm going to Cohen H.S. I'm going to the projects that FEMA still hasn't visited...I'm going to where No Child Left Behind is doing the most damage, and you what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna talk to the people. I'm going to love the kids and the teenage mothers. I'm going to teach people to read - children, teenagers, and adults. I don't know when. I don't know how. I just know that I am going...because I've been called.

ps - if you ever get the chance to watch "Inside New Orleans High School" on National Geographic Channel....DO IT!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'm back - and I've been tagged!

So if you read my blog you probably read all my peeps' blogs as well. Kristin from The Family Fields tagged me. This meant that I had to go to my pictures on my computer, find the 4th file, and in that file post the 4th picture. I was holding my breath bc my files aren't in any kind of order, you never know where in order a file might be. I didn't know what we'd find. Well, we found the first day of school from this year. Each year on the 1st day, I take a pic of the boys and their teacher, and the principal. Who happens to be my boss. :) So, here are Keith, Zack, and Griffin with Mrs. Miller. This is Keith's 1st day of 3rd grade, Zack's 1st day of 2nd grade, and Griff's 1st day of pre-K. Thanks for the tag, Kristin. Look - you got me back to blogging! Maybe I should be tagged more often. :)
Hope that all is well with you and yours. We're super cool. I had to make chili tonight for a chili cook-off at church tomorrow. Today was super busy, I had a baby shower to attend. Griffin had a b-day party to attend at the same time. Shawn took him to the party, Grandaddy kept K and Z, and I showered it up. Then I had to go get my grocery shopping on. I am WAY PUMPED bc I got a new Brita water pitcher and I LOVE IT! I even set up a taste test for Shawn comparing our tap water and the Brita filtered water and he TOTALLY could tell the difference. I thought he was just lying until I tasted the tap, THEN the Brita. It was AMAZING...I never knew that you could smell our city tap water UNTIL I DRANK WATER THAT YOU COULDN'T SMELL. We're not buying case upon case of water bottles that we just throw away, we're filling up our refillable water bottles. So now I have a Brita for home and school. I am trying to have 1 diet coke a day, and the rest water. 2 years ago in January I gave up ALL THINGS CARBONATED and drank only water, lemonade, and the occasional tea. I need to get back to that. But oh, how I love my diet coke (AND REAL COKE).
It's way past my bedtime, I need to go nights. (Griffin-ism) I've been putting in too many late nights playing Mario on the DS. That Santa...he's one smart cookie. He managed to bring all the boys awesome DS games that they love (Tony Hawk skating for Zack, 4-wheeler racing for Keith, Build-a-Bear for Griffin). And of course he brought them Mario as well. I wonder if he knew how much their mama LOVES Super Mario Brothers....
Now I need to tag people. I know that many of you have already been tagged, so here's hoping that I am tagging some worthy recipients. Remember, find the 4th picture in the 4th folder, then tag 4 more people. Here goes - I am tagging....
1. Matt E. at DreamWeaver
2. Nadia at Postcards from Adulthood
3. Jamey at A Girl Becoming
4. Joannie at My Corner of God's World
Now y'all get busy!