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 lives on a New England farm with her high school sweetheart, their six kids, and a menagerie of animals of varying usefulness. She is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories, and has a weekly podcast about homesteading at

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

  • 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!

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

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

  •  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!

  • 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…

  • 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.