When you came to my doorstep with that carton of misery and Moo Shoo Pork, ebony chopsticks with that gilt inlay; dragon devouring phoenix, devouring dragon, I opened the door to touch you. Plum sauce tossed aside and we sat drinking, naked and still breathless. I lit a long cigarette and stared up at your endless eyes. I thought of polished and pitted wooden floors and an overstuffed couch as the breeze outside blew lovingly through potted palms and hibiscus. The sticky Texas heat seems a million miles away in our air conditioned cocoon. You reached down and stroked my face and I was lost. Devoured. Like the dragon and the phoenix and the dragon I was consumed and yet there I was, alive to face another day.

Pool Party

Okay, maybe not. BUT the kids did enjoy themselves immensely! The pool we bought was much smaller than we intended but that's what we get for not reading the box. Ah well, fun was had and that's all that matters is it not?

The picture of Ian and his friend Joey in that very small pool just cracks me up!

Memorial Day!

Ian decorated the awesome heart-shaped strawberry cake we baked for our friends to enjoy. He's quite handy with the sprinkles, that kid. Kitty, while never directly touching the cake that I could see, managed to become covered in frosting. It was magic! We had a lovely day of grilling, baking and company!


After reading through Manic Mother it occured to me that despite my original intentions, I never really touched upon the topic of bipolar and how it has effected my life. I think that that is partly because so many of the decisions I have made while in a manic state have been, well, embarrassing. Many people have the idea that those of us in the bipolar community are these crazy balls of spontanious anger and that, for me, is entirely untrue. As a matter of fact I find it difficult to become angry. Instead in my most manic of phases I feel the need to do. I start projects, sometimes silly, sometimes huge, sometimes completely out of my leaugue. I've made 55 pieces of felt fruit by hand, baked an entire freezer full of breads, muffins and cookies, created web sites that I've never touched again, made huge elaborate meals for only 2 people, you get the idea. This is the lighter side of my mania. It gets darker, much darker.

When in these phases its not uncommon to be caught up and carried along doing things you would never otherwise do. I've done some things I look back on now and absolutely cannot understand. Getting a tattoo on my forearm for example. Not a big deal but wow, it's terrible work! WHY did I do that? At the time, it was a fantastic idea. At the time there were no alarm bells going off for me. That's the thing, when we do these things without batting an eyelash it's because we truly feel they are super good ideas. Later, when you come back down, reality comes crashing back down around you and you're left thinking, "What the hell have I done?".

When my bipolar started to get bad, the worst it's ever been, I began to hear things. Yes, I know how crazy that is. In my manic state I heard whispers, I was suicidal, I was terrified and completely off my rocker. Convinced that evil things were about trying to hurt me. This was when I decided to turn to medication and you know what? It worked. That was a mercifully short period of my life, these things happened because other factors aggravated my existing problem. I've since learned the value of seeing the triggers as they happen and taking steps to stop the snowball effect. I've learned maintenance for my life to keep myself emotionally, thus mentally, happy. Healthy foods, moderate exercise, the permission to myself to talk about the things troubling me; these simple things have allowed me to live a med-free and thankfully event-free life (bipolar-wise) for years now.

I think people like Beth over at Manic Mother are doing us all a great service by talking about their illness and thusly educating others so that people like myself can reap the benefits. I hope my posts does the same.
For those of you who may not have read about baby Ezra, please head over to Manic Mother and do so. With my own sweet Katrine just a breath away from 2 years old and my own Ian in and out of the hospital with a terrifying diagnosis, I can't help but feel connected to this mama somehow.

I hope you'll consider popping over and reading her story. Maybe tweet it, Digg it, or even donate if you have the funds. I understand how financially straining it is to not have enough for gas to get your child to the hospital, need a more reliable vehicle or have an extended hospital stay in which you have to feed yourself.

Thanks everybody. Love to you all.

Manic Mother

Friday Fun

Today was a hit with my little guy. Because of the MD and how it's effected his body, going to the park has been something he's only dreamed of doing for the last 2 years. For Ian, climbing on the play structures is an impossibility and swinging is entirely too hard on his back. We found out about a park in Nashville across from the children's hospital he's treated at that has handicap-accessible play structures and modifications to all the eqipment that would allow him to play like any kid. How cool is that?! Unfortunately our plans were foiled by scattered thunderstorms in the area so instead, we went to a local park to see if we couldn't try our hand at learning new ways to play at the park.

We chose a rural park near the military base and accross from some horse stables. Driving down the country roads with the windows rolled down was, in itself, a great way to spend the day. The kids loved seeing the horses at the stables as we neared the park, so that was a second score for team Ybarra. The park itself, play structure-wise was nothing to scream about but as it turns out, that was okay because it wasn't the equipment he was interested in. It was the stream. He loved sitting on the bank playing with sticks and watching the ducks. There was a waterfall and he was totally into that too. He wanted to see it up close so we ventured into the wooded area to see how close we could get him. As it turns out, getting close meant a hike and some mild rock climbing. So, John put Ian on his back and made the journey while I followed along with Miss Kitty. It was tiring but so worth it. We got the head of the waterfall where there was a large platform made of flat rocks and another smaller stream up top.

Both Kitty and Ian had a grand time splashing in the water, looking for bugs, climbing on things and just generally being kids. It was the first time in a long time I got the feeling that Ian wasn't being cautious because he was afraid of being hurt. He smiled (in his own Ian way) he laughed, he made monkey noises, he just had a good time.

It's funny thing things you take for granted when you don't know anything different. I was left thinking on just a few years ago when in Germany we took him to the park all the time. I remembered watching him climb, run and swing his little heart out and never once did I ever dream that I would be here. That when that little child was 8 years old, moments like these would be so precious. Yet, here we are and the funny thing is that while I wish against hope it were different, I feel so fortunate to be able to have the gift of taking the smallest moments and triumphs and keep them in my heart like I do now. That's one of the aims of this blog for me, to share my family with others and to encourage all parents to do what I've been forced to learn to do. But I digress...

So Ian had his first hike ever, his first very first waterfall and his first park in years all in the same day. Me? I had a moment of introspection and some fantastic photo ops.

What a day!

Flashback Friday!


I am participating in Scary Mommy's uber-fun idea of Flashback Friday. I don't have many blog entries so in lieu of that, I'll post this here old-ass and super fly picture.

This was taken about 3 years ago in Mainz, Germany (where we lived at the time) at a club called Kuz. We were, obviously, completely wasted. Good times. The people are, from right to left, my darling hubs John. Yes, the man licking my face is indeed the love of my life. Then comes myself and next to me is my sweet friend and super duper bestie, Ashley. Ashley was the hit of the evening as she later lost her cookies all over the floor. This is one of my all time favorite pictures and I can't begin to say why. I suppose because it was a night with people I love, in a place I love, having a damn good time.

These evenings are few and far between anymore. The clostest I get to a club since my sweet Miss Kitty was born is hanging out in my living room, watching anime and drinking Cape Cods. Or boxed wine. Or both. In my underwear.

Shameless Plug

Yep, I'm doing this. My very good friend Kristin has opened an Etsy shop. Those of you who know me know that I am a big advocate of buying handmade whenever possible and Kristin has finally opened her doors over at Etsy to sell her adorable and completely handmade baby hats and, eventually, baby wraps. Her products are great for your sweet little bundles or as gorgeous props for all you photographers out there.

She's an amazing and talented lady and a mama to boot.

Please visit her over at BugsHugz Boutique.

When I Was But a Girl

Diet coke. Check. Caribou Coffee Chocolate Mocha Granola Bar. Check. I am now ready to blog.

You know what I miss? I miss the 90's. I miss boys with long hair, I miss dresses with combat boots, I miss girl power and the Crow; I miss Soundgarden and Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. I long for a time when Linda Perry was considered a female role model because she was loud and proud and didn't take shit from anyone. When girls wanted to be strong and educated and make thier own choices and all the chicks I knew were damn proud to be woman and we listened to girl bands and made stands and knew we were destined to be woman with a loud voice. What the hell happened? This brave new world we had waited for, that we had planned for and fought for on our own teenage battlefield has become a wasteland of the worst possible role models for our girls. Woman who have no self-respect, who are stupid and vapid and actually think that makes them better in the public eye. It's considered cool to be those things. If you're smart you're boring, if you're political and feminist you're just a "feminazi". I shudder for my girls. What's a mom to do to give her girls the power she felt as a teenager?

Okay, this is a repost from a previous blog that I no longer have. It was a favorite that I still feel a lot of truth in. A friend mentioned that I should post it here to have a more complete picuture of myself. So, there you have it.

Dear Vagina


SO maybe my great blog networking plan can wait seeing as this is the subject I've been compelled to write about today. I just have to wonder what the hell is going on down there. Honestly, over the last 10 years the poor thing has been steadily going down hill (Thank you kids. Lovely.) but this isn't about that, this is something else.

I wake up this morning and take my regular sleep tinkle, or "slinkle". All is well. I wipe.

"HOLY FUCK! What was that?!"

It feels like a scratch. A long scratch. Maybe a big ass paper cut. In my vag. Where did it come from? Why is it there?

Why oh why is it that as I get older these happenings, well, happen? I should KNOW how, when and where this occurred. It's not like in my 20's when after a night of heavy drinking and chandelier-swinging sex a few black eyes and somebody else's underwear would have been filed under "weird but acceptable". Is this mom brain? A "senior moment"? Do I have a tumor? Who doesn't know how they injured their vagina?

Me. That's who.

Bloggy Newness

I have a confession to make. I'm a totally blog newb. That's right, I said it. I have had them in the past and posted frequently but like so many others out there I've been primarily talking to myself. Good for some old fashioned therapy but not so great for someone who hopes to connect with others through her blog. So, I'm creating some goals for myself as suggested over at Mama Blogga. (If you're pretty much a blogging virgin like myself I check out her site for some super helpful tips.)

  • Put myself out there by connecting with other bloggers through comments. I'll set my goal at 20 for the rest of the week and this weekend.
  • Try to come up with posts that will be interesting as well as relevant to those who may be reading my blog.
  • Use my blog as a platform to support the causes that are nearest and dearest to my heart.

So, there you have it. A few goals to use this puppy to it's fullest advantage. For now.

No, I'm not okay. Thanks for asking.

Ah yes, an even deeper foray into the life of yours truly. You see, my 8 year old son has Muscular Dystrophy. This isn't usually a conversation starter for me but this is a blog, and it seems that as a blogger, it's my duty to peel back the layers and expose these bits of my life. So there you have it. My 8 year old son has Muscular Dystrophy. Infantile Onset Facioscalpialhumoral Muscular Dystrophy actually. This means that my young child over the last 2 years has lost much of his ability to walk, see, hear and has a complete palsy of the face. This means that because of about 100 doctor's appointments this year I've had to remove him from school to save him the embarrassment of failing the second grade. (However, this has turned out to be a boon for us. I'll blog more on this later.) This means that he must wear, on a daily basis; glasses, hearing aids, AFO's (leg braces) and let us not forget the oh-so-stylish gauze dressing on his feeding tube. Then of course there is the ultimate accessory, the wheel chairs.
It's a funny thing when you have a child with issues like these who can't leave the house without a truck load of equipment and who, everyone knows, will never get better. People ask the same thing over and over. "Are you okay?" Funnier still is the reaction we parents are expected to give. "Yes, I'm fine!" and "there's a reason for everything", or "I was only given the challenge because I could handle it". Most people don't ask you this question expecting to hear the truth. My truth? My truth is that no, I'm not fine. I'm pissed off. I'm pissed off that my child is being given such a raw deal. I'm pissed off that he has the grace to except it and that I don't. I'm pissed off that I worry every day about him and I wonder relentlessly if he'll ever be able to live on his own, have a lover, travel somewhere fabulous, father a child, live in a dorm, kiss someone, and and...
I'm coming to understand that it's okay to not be fine. I am always fine when I'm with him. I'm always together when we see his doctors, I rarely let myself not be "fine". But every once in awhile, when I'm all alone, I give in. I let go. I cry, I scream, I throw things and at those times I yell to no one and to everyone, "NO! I am NOT okay!" and you know what? I'm okay with that.
Here's the thing. I'll never be "okay" with this. I have, however, learned so much from this child and from this disease. I have learned patience, righteous anger, the true meaning of beauty, I have learned that I can be a kick-ass mom and that I have more strength than I ever though possible. That John is a fantastic father and that together, we can handle anything. I have come to understand that my son is incredible. He is the most adaptable being I have ever met and my heart bursts with pride when I think of how he has come to live with his ever-weakening body with acceptance, grace and with just enough of a stubborn streak to refuse to take this lying down.
Am I okay? No. Am I getting there. You bet your ass.


Have you ever wondered where you went? I mean, you, the one who wrote poetry and sipped away half a dozen glasses of wine every night; the one who looked in the mirror and never did a double take and wondered, is that me? Sometimes when I’m knee-deep in finger paints and dinosaurs and peanut butter and jelly bran muffins it will hit me. Who am I? Am I mom, am I lover, am I poetess, am I housekeeper, cook, dutiful wife…? Or am I artist, writer, vixen, girlfriend, scatterbrained girl…? In the place of my Arcade Fire and ToriAmos is the “My Friends Tigger and Pooh” theme song. In the place of my favorite leopard print skyscraper, fuck-me heels and kiss-me-so-it-shows-red lipstick is yoga pants and chapstick and bare feet with a smattering of clear polished toes. French press to Folgers in a plug-in and lovely artichokes to frozen carrots.
Eleven years of motherhood and I’m still seeking this elusive balance. I find it difficult not to turn my whole self over to the job of motherhood and surrender all that makes me myself to my children. Like so many other mothers out there I find I’ve given some of the best parts of myself up to be what I think they need me to be. But at what cost? Is it really better for them to have a shadow of me than ME? Perhaps I can’t be this “mom” in my head but should I even have tried? Looking back I wonder if I had more to offer children than I thought. I mean really, this is a sacrificial practice we mothers commit. We bleed our former selves dry at the alter of perfect parenthood. Somehow, our kids will suffer if we don’t implode a little, learn to love fish sticks, give our beauty and youth over to dirty diapers and homework and our sexuality to bathrobes and exhaustion.
My question is this, what does all of this leave us to give them?
I love Ginsberg, I love the way he weaves words together and the first time I read Sunflower Sutra it left a tattoo on my heart. At 16, just discovering how powerful a person’s words can be I was left awe-struck by how someone who lived as his whole self could affect the way I would think and live and imagine. Forever. Someone I didn’t and wouldn’t ever know. Just the words he shared have shaped so much of me. Here I am, in charge of helping to shape the minds and souls of my children and I’ve come up short. I truly believe that to be happy you must be yourself. I tell my son all the time that he has everything in the world to offer, simply by being him and I’ve dropped the ball by example.
So what to do? Maybe the time has come to evaluate myself and who I’ve become. Why can’t I wear my heels and share my love of roasted brusselsprouts and shark-fin soup and poetry and Frida and put on my lipstick to home school and help them to be themselves completely. By being myself.

The First

So, here is my commitment to myself. I promise to update Manic Mama at least once a week. I promise to be honest, not to gloss things over or make them less or more than what they are. Lastly, I promise to try and use this blog to learn more about myself. That out of the way, first things first yes? A small introduction for blogland. I am Mellissa, 30 years old, mom to four kidlettes; 11 year old Aryanna, 10 year old Aoghdan, (that's Aiden for those who are going "wha?...") Ian-Michael who is 8 and Katrine aka "Kitty" who's 2nd birthday is rapidly approaching. I have been with the love of my life, John, for going on ten years now. Yes, I know, people say that a lot in these things don't they? "Loving husband, soul mate, snoochy boochy cupcake" but I promised to be honest and so you see, it's the truth. He is my truest love and "the Missing Piece" to my rolling circle. (Any other Shel Silverstien lovers out there? I tell you, he was a prophet, that man.) We are a military family and after having been stationed in beautiful Wiesbaden, Germany for years, we now live in small town(ish) Tennessee. Now remember, I promised to be honest. I hate it here. It's god-awful boring and most days I feel as if I'm living in some sort intelligence suck. I miss museums that don't deal with quilts, military memorabilia or trains. I miss the walkplatz, the Christmas Mart, walking all weekend while seeing castles, graves that are hundreds of years old, duck at the Mayflower, Danny Boys, yes, blah blah blah. The plus to being here is that we bought our first home and hey, that's nothing to sniff at. Good with the bad and all that. So there it is. Me in a very small nutshell, as I stand right this moment. Bummed about where I live, diggin' my man and loving my kiddos. More to come.