It’s no secret that I’ve always been the shy girl, so it should shock exactly no one that I like being an anonymous customer. I just want to get what I came for and go, with as little human interaction as possible. I bristle when the checker at the grocery store gets nosy about my purchases. I’m irritated by the restaurant server who wants to engage in friendly chit chat when it’s clearly interrupting the conversation I’m trying to have with my dining companions. I dread the sales associate who hovers when I am shopping for clothes. I want to flee from the mega-emporium employees who interrupt my browsing reverie to ask if I’m finding everything okay (except when I actually need their help, at which time they mysteriously disappear). And I’m embarrassed that the clerk at my local convenience store is on to my Smartfood addiction. If I could shop draped in Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak—so I wouldn’t have to fend off uncomfortable small talk with these well-meaning service providers—I probably would.

But a few nights ago, something happened which taught me that sometimes, being noticed has powerful benefits.

For the past three and a half years, I’ve been meeting regularly with my sister-in-law, Angie, for a biweekly Bible study. The vast majority of those meetings have taken place at a Chipotle restaurant we selected for no other reason than we both love Mexican food, and it happens to be more or less equidistant from our respective homes. For at least half that time, there has been one particular employee who has been there nearly every Sunday night. We chat with him regularly as we pay for our food, and he knows us by name. He notices when we miss a week. He’s been known to comp our sodas. Somehow, despite my best efforts at anonymity, I’ve become a regular. One might even go so far as to say that Angie and I are the Cliff and Norm of this upscale fast food joint. And it’s unfamiliarly reassuring to be on a first name basis with the guy who takes our money week after week.

What we didn’t know until this past Sunday was that he’s been paying attention to the purpose for these weekly visits. Our friendly host isn’t necessarily the kind of person you’d expect a pair of minivan-driving moms immersed in Bible study to have an impact on. With stretched earlobes, multiple facial piercings, and spiked beard, his alternative look might be more likely to inspire one to cross to the other side of the street than to strike up a conversation about God. But it would be a mistake to judge this book by his cover, because tucked into his unique brand of self expression is a sweet, quiet guy with a steady work ethic. I’d be willing to bet that this unlikely face of our Chipotle experience is very loyal to the people in his life.

So we were pleasantly surprised the other night when our Chipotle friend approached first Angie, and then both of us, with a prayer request. He said he hasn’t always been someone who prayed, but he is trying to pray for his girlfriend about a personal difficulty in her life. He asked if we would pray for her too, and also for him as he encourages her. Apparently he has been working up the courage to bring this up with us. For me, that’s a strange role reversal. Usually I’m the one standing in those shoes, wondering how to introduce a potentially awkward topic of conversation. I’d find humor in the irony, except that I recognize it as a universal feeling of self-consciousness. I know exactly how he felt.

Angie guesses it must be the subtle pink streaks she recently added to her hair that finally made us seem approachable. She may be right. I also think it’s no coincidence that this prayer request came on the very night we were studying from the book of Ephesians on the topic of—you guessed it—prayer. But whatever the reason that inspired our favorite cashier to open up, this small step has started a conversation we can now continue.

I learned from the encounter, too. Looking back, I feel shame that when Angie and I first began our meetings, I was bashful about studying the Bible in public. I am so thankful now that we persevered anyway, that I have not been invisible at Chipotle after all, and that our new friend there knows our names. I will honor his prayer request, and I will add to his petition the prayer that through our example, maybe he will come to truly know the most important name of all.

Kid for sale cheap

Last night, Noah decided he needed to know how old Kent and I are. After much teasing, we finally settled on the truth that Kent is 42 and I am 38.

Noah then looked at me and said in all seriousness, “So you’re older than Daddy?”

Anyone wanna buy a kid cheap?

My blog book!

Dear blog readers,

I interrupt regularly scheduled vacation blogging to bring you this critical news flash.

Some of my regular blog readers know that I have had plans for quite some time (first documented here) to self publish my blog writings in the form of a book, for my children to read and share with their own children someday. Well, I am ecstatic to announce that the book is a reality and is officially available on Amazon! Click here, or on the book cover image below, to see for yourself.

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Thanks so much to all of you who read my blog, whether regularly or just occasionally. Though I don’t blog as often as I did when I started, your continued kind comments and positive feedback have encouraged me to keep going. My children will thank you some day for giving me the support I needed to keep writing for them. And keep going I will. This is only Volume 1 of what I hope will eventually be many.

And by the way, this is in no way a sales pitch. Especially since my regular visitors have read most of it already. It’s just an expression of my ecstatic joy at seeing my name on Amazon. It was a pipe dream. I never really thought it would happen.

Observations for today:

  1. It was a beautiful day to be outside. So glad we postponed the 2nd day of our Colonial Williamsburg visit to avoid trudging through rain, lightning, and mud.
  2. We started today with the Capitol and the jail. Trials were held 4 times per year, so accused criminals could be incarcerated for months before their rights to a “speedy trial” were exercised.
  3. Dined in a historic Williamsburg tavern for lunch. Fun!
  4. Today we learned about the following trades: wigmaker, apothecary, silversmith, milliner, weaver, and wheelwright. We missed the basket maker and some re-enactments, but otherwise successfully covered everything we set out to see.
  5. The kids roamed the hedge maze behind the Governor’s Palace before we called it a day. They boys won, with many accusations on both sides of cheating.
  6. Noah: “I come in peace, yo.” I have no idea what it means, but he’s been singing it over and over tonight. Silly boy.

Observations for today:

  1. Cherry blossoms swirling in the wind look like snow. Beautiful!
  2. Noah: “If you’re going to throw up, throw up in the bag in front of you.” Said as the kids recreated their own version of Mission Space while we waited to get into the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center. Well, it’s true that Mission Space is the only ride at Disney with barf bags…
  3. At the Capitol they made us throw away every bit of food we had before we could enter, even factory sealed packages. That makes this one of the least family friendly places I’ve ever visited. Wish we could charge them for the kids’ snacks we later had to buy to replace the ones they made us throw away.
  4. Most eventful occurrence of the trip so far: We got evacuated from the Capitol just as we were learning about Senate history. Apparently it was a fire alarm, but it’s hard not to think of 9/11 when being evacuated from a federal building. Or maybe someone got caught sneaking in dangerous contraband food.
  5. The infrared camera in the spectroscopy exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum confirms what I’ve always known: I’m freezing. My family’s hands were glowing all sorts of warm shades of yellow, orange, and red. Not a spec of a cool color in sight. My hands? Solid, deep blue!
  6. I really still wish my family would quit rushing me. There just isn’t enough time to see everything, especially for someone like me who wants to read every sign.
  7. At the Jefferson Memorial, I was pleased with the inscriptions that reinforce the faith of our founding fathers.
  8. Overheard at the Vietnam Memorial: “It’s just a bunch of names of people who died.” I’m speechless. Tell that to the families of those named on the wall. I was moved to tears by the flowers and personal notes left there, and especially moved by an elderly couple who appeared to be honoring one specific name. A son, perhaps?
  9. Other sites we visited: Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, and the Washington Monument.
  10. Yay for empty trolleys!

Observations for today:

  1. 5:45 am is much too early to be awake on vacation. This should be illegal.
  2. Conversation in our car as we enter DC:
    Maia: “There’s the Jefferson Memorial!”
    Me: “You’ve never been here before. How did you know what the Jefferson Memorial looks like?”
    Maia (smugly): “Cause I know some stuff.”
  3. It is windy and COLD!
  4. First stop, White House. Yup, looks just like the pictures.
  5. “Ooh, look, there are businessmen!” says Maia as we pass a trio of men in business suits pulling their suitcases. Hilarious that she thinks that’s a tourist attraction.
  6. Constant refrain that the kids (and my sister, who started them on it) will not stop repeating in drawn out voices as we enter every crosswalk: “Does everybody have their exit buddy?” Bonus points if you can name the movie reference.
  7. Next stop: Smithsonian. We made it to both the Museum of American History and Museum of Natural History today. Both are more crowded than Disney. Ugh.
  8. I’m a little unsettled that the exhibits at the Museum of Natural History give no credit to God.
  9. I totally wish my family would quit rushing me. They’re complaining that I’m (gasp!) actually reading the displays, but I’m here to learn stuff.
  10. My feet hurt (again). I have no stamina. Tomorrow, I vote for the trolley tour.

Observations for today:

  1. Rain and thunder and lightning, oh my. Not to mention a tornado watch. This definitely calls for a change in plans.
  2. The kind people at Colonial Williamsburg agree to re-issue the 2nd day of our 2-day tickets for later in the week. We spend a few dollars in the gift shop as thanks.
  3. Death-defying dash back to the car to avoid the lightning crashing down all around. I’ve never seen my family run so fast.
  4. Rainy day backup plan… checking the movie theater to see what’s playing this afternoon.
  5. Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D. Awesome! The kids loved it.
  6. Heading to spend the rest of the afternoon in Yorktown. I am more directionally challenged than I thought, but we eventually find the place.
  7. Interesting couple of hours at the Yorktown Victory Center. My favorite was the soldier’s encampment. Rough life those guys had!

Observations for today:

  1. Caught my kids hugging each other when I woke up this morning. Why can’t they be this nice to each other all the time?
  2. Since we missed church for Palm Sunday, we made sure to start the morning by reading and talking about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
  3. No matter what time you think you’re going to get started with the day’s activities, when 8 people are involved, things never go according to plan. Vacationing with family can be a bit like herding cats, but in a good way.
  4. 4 out of 4 Donahues agree: the good citizens of Williamsburg are obssessed with pancakes and waffles. There are more pancake houses per capita here than we’ve ever seen anywhere.
  5. First historical stop: the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg. Maia couldn’t wait, since Felicity got to visit this very same home in one of the American Girl books. Maia says it wasn’t what she expected from the book, and the kids were a little underwhelmed. I don’t think they appreciated how vastly superior such accommodations were for their time.
  6. Fortunately, they found everything else fascinating. Today we learned such trades as how to make shoes, how to forge iron tools, how to print and bind books, how to carve wood and build furniture, and how to make bricks. More tomorrow.
  7. Maia loves history and has been asking lots of questions. We bought her a notebook to write down all the interesting facts she has been learning.
  8. My feet hurt and I have a headache.

Observations for today:

  1. What the home screen on my phone says: “Messages (0). Calendar: No upcoming appointments. All Day: Vacation.” I wanna live like this every day!
  2. My son has a bladder the size of a pea, but only on long car trips. Suspicious.
  3. Strange that there are billboards on the interstate advertising for wigs, of all things. Then again, this is the South.
  4. So glad I have my new iPod Touch for typing out these notes to add to my blog later.
  5. I just got shushed for singing too loud. I guess singing along to my iPod is too much for even my family to bear, when they don’t have the benefit of the radio to drown me out. But who could resist belting along to a tune like He Reigns?
  6. Passed a sign in VA for New Kent. I think I’ll keep the one I have, thank you very much. Even if he doesn’t admire my singing voice.
  7. Best sign we’ve seen so far: Entering Williamsburg.
  8. The kids haven’t bickered once in the car today. This bodes well for the rest of the week.
  9. It’s so nice to actually have time to think about writing for my blog!

Twitter-mania

Being the lemming that I am, I have finally decided to investigate the latest Internet craze. Since it seems that everyone, everywhere is suddenly Twittering, so too must I join in the chatter.

However, in a blow to my inner technology nerd, I confess that I don’t “get it” yet. I don’t understand at all what is so addictive about sharing your life in a “tweet” of 140 characters or less. It’s far less satisfying than lovingly composing a blog post. And I can’t keep up with the stream of stuff being broadcast by the few people I am following. It just feels like noise; one more intrusion into all the things I already have to keep up with on a daily basis.

And yet, I haven’t abandoned the experiment. I’ve found some useful people to follow, and in a matter of days have collected some excellent links to assist in my self-publishing efforts. Stay tuned, dear readers, because the published version of my blog writings to date is coming soon. Very soon. And better than it might have been otherwise, thanks to Twitter.

So I’m going to hang in there with Twitter to give it a fair chance. I’ve even added my Twitter stream to the sidebar of this blog. I’m still getting a few visitors here even though I rarely have time to write the posts that still exist in my head. So I’m making my Twitter tidbits available to tide you over until life affords me time to blog on a more frequent schedule. And if you are a Twitter-er yourself, feel free to follow me.

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