I love photography.

I love it in the way a little girl loves horses, because they are magical and make the world more beautiful.

I do not love it in the way a championship Thoroughbred stable loves horses, with an eye for technical detail and mechanics.   While I certainly enjoy learning more about the process, and have been known to make my kids sit through a million pictures so I can practice manually setting my aperture or exposure or something, Photoshop is still going to be my best friend forever and ever.

That’s one of reasons I love Instagram.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Nikon D5000 so much that after husband/children/contacts, it’s the one thing I would make sure I grabbed in the case of a house fire.  But there is something that appeals to the “magical and more beautiful” aspect of photography like that so-simple-it’s-crazy smartphone app.  Instagram has the ability to take the most mundane, the most prosaic pictures and with a few jabs at the touchscreen, transform them into something more interesting.

To prove this (and because I couldn’t think of another thing to write about today and had already pulled the “list post” card last time), I took the most mundane, the most prosaic member of the house and photographed his day.  I now present to you “A Day in the Life of John-Luke, Made More Magical and Beautiful Thanks to Instagram.

(this exhibit made possible by a generous grant from the Ken Donaldson Foundation, who gave me his old phone to monkey around with when his new one came)  8:00 a.m.  John-Luke demands second breakfast, consisting entirely of Ritz crackers.  Despite having both overall straps firmly buckled not 5 minutes earlier, he is sporting the “Bubba Chic” look.  Instagram filter: Brannan


9:00 a.m.  John-Luke, done with first breakfast and second breakfast, falls asleep in front of an educational episode of “Woody Woodpecker”.  Note overall strap STILL unbuckled, and hand down the pants.  Instagram filter: Amaro


9:15 a.m.  Having been informed by a herd of giggling boys that John-Luke’s fallen asleep on the couch, I carry him to a more appropriate sleeping spot.  I am vaguely aware that he may be discomforted in his later years that so many pictures of him sleeping appear on the Internet.  Instagram filter:  X-pro II


11:00 a.m.  Awake in time for elevensies, unconcerned that he’s woken up in a different location than he fell asleep.  For the millionth time, I note the similarities between toddlers and drunken adults.  Instagram filter: Amaro


11:05 a.m.  Elevensies (more crackers, bien sur) with an arts-and-crafts chaser.  The markers are non-toxic, so if he decides to color his crackers before eating then, it’s all good.  Overall strap: 603  Mom: 0  Instagram filter:  Valencia


12:00 p.m.  Crackers gone, art time over.  The look he’s going for here is “young artist applies marker so as to look like a boxer”.  Instagram filter:  Brannan


3:00 p.m.  Time for a quick nap before pre-dinner snack.  This time, he insists that I lay down with him in front of cartoons.  Who am I to refuse?  Instagram filter: Earlybird

So there you go.  My shameless love affair with Instagram.  But not ill-fitting toddler overalls.

Can’t get enough of the heart-pounding action that is Clan Donaldson’s photostream?  Find more of it here.


Cari Donaldson


Cari Donaldson is the author of the upcoming book Pope Awesome and Other Stories . She stepped through the looking glass when she married her high school sweetheart in a Presbyterian ceremony back in 1999. Since then, she and her husband have found themselves the parents of six children, and on the corporate gypsy trail, with transfers moving them from the Midwest to the deep South to New England. The most startling developments however, have been the conversion to Catholicism in 2006, and the discovery that blogging provides an excellent creative outlet. You can find Cari on Facebook at and Twitter at @CariDonaldson and here on Catholic Exchange.

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  • Dwija Borobia

    Look at that hilarious Ken Donaldson face at 11:05!!!!!

  • Cari Donaldson

    Oh my gosh, it IS!  You’ve never even met him, and you can ALREADY spot the “I’m Ken Donaldson, and I’m calling your previous statement BS” face!

  • Rambling Follower

    wow. Are those your children’s baptismal candles in the background? If so. I am truly impressed!

  • Cari Donaldson

    They are!  Don’t be impressed.  If I remembered to light them on each child’s baptismal birthday, then THAT would be impressive!

  • Dwija Borobia

     I’m kind of a genius like that.

  • Francine Weber

    Thank goodness I’m not the only one who considers Ritz crackers a meal! My daughter is more than a little bit obsessed and sometimes, I’m just happy she wants to eat something. 

    Love the baptismal candles, by the way!

  • Cari Donaldson

    J-L’s almost 2, refuses to say “Mama”, but can ask for crackers as clear as day.

    Here’s where I would make the joke about crackers being toddler crack, but I really need coffee first…

  • Cari Donaldson

    J-L’s almost 2, refuses to say “Mama”, but can ask for crackers as clear as day.

    Here’s where I would make the joke about crackers being toddler crack, but I really need coffee first…

  • Jjdoc2

    I think he was going for “Woody Woodpecker” with the marker.  Just a guess.