if senior year were a mix CD, tracks 1-4


I don't want another pretty face 
I don't want just anyone to hold 
I don't want my love to go to waste 
I want you and your beautiful soul 

You're the one I wanna chase 
You're the one I wanna hold 
I won't let another minute go to waste 
I want you and your beautiful soul 
Your beautiful soul, yeah... 

Jesse McCartney’s one-hit-wonder Beautiful Soul fades into the crisp, Pacific Northwest air as the clock in Keely’s Mercedes station wagon clicks over to 12:05pm. Lunch is almost over. Time to pack up our peanut butter sandwich scraps and head to class. 

Oh geez, here comes Andrew and Beau in Andrew’s beat up pickup truck. They take the big bump in the senior parking lot at full speed. The truck catches air as the two teenage boys inside green with glee and adrenaline. They’re such bad asses. 

Cody’s pulling into the lot in his hot, new Toyota Tacoma. Man, I wish he would notice me and take me for a ride. Becca and Matt are headed back to class with Wendy’s french fries in hand. Why don’t I eat french fries again? Rachel pulls up in her yellow beetle, fresh flowers in her dashboard bud vase. I’d give anything to drive that car. 

I slide out of the station wagon in my Abercrombie jeans and team softball hoodie. I head over to my little Kia Rio, aka “the blueberry”, to grab my Washington history book out of the trunk while Keely zips up her North Face vest and adjusts the laces of her running shoes. Tomorrow is game day for me and on Friday Keely has a track meet. 

But before either of us can take the field, there’s an AP English test to pass, pep assembly to help plan, and two scholarship applications to complete. There’s no rest for these two ambitious 17-year-olds. 


Well somebody told me you had a boyfriend 
Who looked like a girlfriend 
That I had in February of last year 
It's not confidential, I've got potential 

A rushing, rushing around 

Pace yourself for me (for me) 
I said maybe, baby, please (please) 
But I just don't know now (baby, baby) 
When all I want to do is try 

“That was Somebody Told Me by The Killers on Kiss 106.1…” Man, I love that song. I hope Keely put it on the mix CD she made for our adventure today. Thank goodness the paper route finally motivated dad to install a CD player in this car. 

The blueberry may be the most basic “brand new” car in existence. How does a car not have power steering? I thought that was a standard feature on any new vehicle. I mean it’s 2005. And no CD player, not even a tape player? What were my parents thinking? And they just had to get a manual too. I really hope we don’t hit any hills when we’re in Seattle today. This stick shift thing is getting easier but I’m still not great at it. How embarrassing would it be if I stalled out on Capitol Hill? 

“Hey girl!” Keely slides into the passenger seat and pops the mix CD into the player. Senior Skip Day is finally here. Everybody who's somebody in our Senior class is going to Howarth Park today to hang out and drink. But this Mormon voted teacher’s pet and her classy, preppy athlete best friend have other plans. 

Green Lake and Starbucks here we come! What would I do without Keely? How is graduation almost here? Thank goodness we’ll both be headed to Utah even if we’ll be at different schools. 


How can I put it? You put me on 
I even fell for that stupid love song 
Yeah, yeah 
Since you been gone 

How come I'd never hear you say 
I just wanna be with you? 
Guess you never felt that way 

But since you been gone 
I can breathe for the first time 
I'm so moving on, yeah, yeah 

Sweat trickles down my temple as I lip-sync Kelly Clarkson’s brilliant, angry lyrics with my girl friends. It’s 9:30pm already? John should have been here by now. He never misses a church dance and he knows this is my last one before graduation. He said he was coming tonight. 

Where is he? I hope he’s not hanging out with Hazel instead. What kind of a name is Hazel anyway? John’s not even a Senior and he’s going to Senior Ball with her. Doesn’t he know he was supposed to go with me? Now I have to go with Caleb. I despise him and I know he feels the same about me. This sucks. At least my dress is going to be amazing thanks to Nana's expert seamstress work. 

I see John walk into the gym out of the corner of my eye wearing his black REI coat and jeans. My chest tightens with anticipation. Our eyes meet. He sees me. 

Would you dance if I asked you to dance? 
Would you run and never look back? 
Would you cry if you saw me crying? 
Would you save my soul tonight? 

Of course there’s a slow song on now. They always play Hero at church dances, sometimes even twice. Is he going to ask me to dance? Wait, he’s walking over. Why else would he come over? Breathe, Clarissa, breathe. It’s going to happen. 

“Do you wanna dance?” asks John. The only guy I’ve ever held hands with takes my hand and we start to awkwardly sway towards the center of the gym. His younger brother Hyrum and his crush Laura are dancing kitty-corner to us. I want to put my head on John’s shoulder so bad. This song is so cheesy but I don't ever want it to end. 

I can be your hero. 
I can kiss away the pain. 
And I will stand by you forever. 
You can take my breath away. 
You can take my breath away. 

I can be your hero. 


This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series "Playlist".

8 months with henry grant

Eight months sounds like a long time ago, and yet somehow, you're already that old. You’re still a baby but I know that soon we’ll blink and you’ll suddenly be a toddler. You’re sitting up on your own more and scooting all day long. Today you’ve done several push-ups and I can tell your legs will follow suit soon. 

Over the past two months your eating has dramatically improved. We no longer dread feeding time and you’re getting closer to the fifth percentile for weight! Without fail, every time we give you your first bite of solid food you get this highly skeptical look on your face like you’re just sure it’s going to taste awful. 

You have a nose like daddy and get stuffed up easily. You HATE having your boogers sucked out and scream so loud our ears hurt afterwards. You’re wearing 6-9 month and 6-12 month size clothes. Baby Gap and Carter’s seem to fit you the best. Mommy loves getting you dressed up for church and thrifting clothes for you at Other Mothers.

a wish for my son on election day

I want my son to honor and respect women. 

I want him to see beyond a two-party political system and truly evaluate candidates on their values and what they stand for. 

I want him to live in a country where all lives and relationships are valued and respected. 

I want him to live in a world where racism and white supremacy no longer wield their ugly heads. 

I want him to live in a country where someone’s ability to pay does not dictate their access to healthcare, housing, and other essential human needs. 

choosing gratitude over the if only's

If only I didn’t need sleep 
If only we didn’t need my income 
If only we could afford help 
If only I didn’t need to work 
If only your brothers could be with us 
If only Grammy was still here 
If only it was easy to eat healthy 
If only there were more hours in the day 
If only, if only, if only... 

coming to terms with my breastfeeding journey as a first time mom

This week is World Breastfeeding Week. And while breastfeeding is a truly wonderful, beautiful thing, I really wish “fed is best” would permanently replace “breast is best”. Feeding a baby is hard work. It doesn’t matter if you’re feeding them breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. And the pressure put on moms to only feed their babies directly from the breast is very, very real. 

Before I had Henry I wish I’d known that exclusively pumping is breastfeeding too. That as his mom I don’t deserve to be shamed by choosing what will work best for me, for him, and for our family. The opinion of a lactation consultant who doesn’t know us or our journey shouldn’t matter. 

The nursing portion of my breastfeeding journey was difficult and short. Henry was SGA (small for gestational age) at birth and spent three days in the NICU. Our first attempt at nursing shortly after birth was unsuccessful. His tiny head and my much larger than average boobs with slightly inverted nipples made latching impossible even with a nipple shield. 

henry's birth story

It’s been almost three months since I gave birth to our little Henry. I’ve wanted to write his birth story for weeks but as a brand new mom I’ve struggled to find the time. As I type this from my laptop on the couch Henry is snuggled up in his daddy's arms while daddy plays a video game. Multitasking is the name of the game these days. And this post is going to be a long one.

Henry Grant Earl was born exactly two weeks early at 3:59am on Thursday, May 14. He weighed 5 lbs, 7 oz and measured 18 inches long. His early arrival into this world started at my 37-week OB appointment on Wednesday, May 6 when my blood pressure registered at 146/98. We’d been monitoring it closely since I'd hit the third trimester and while it’d been a bit high this was a significant change. 

My OB sent me to triage at the hospital where Henry and I were monitored for 6+ hours. Because of COVID, I had to go to triage alone. Thankfully my BP stabilized and Henry looked perfect so I got to go home. The next day I went back to triage for a BP check. It was in the 140s when I got there but settled down quickly so they sent me home. That weekend my church friends hosted a beautiful drive-by baby shower for me.