The {Greyhound} Bus Trip Across the United States. Part One.

The very first time Hums and I traveled together was a 100 hour bus trip across the country and back. We were almost engaged at the time. It was really important to me that my family meet him before anything official happened in our relationship.

And so it went something like this:

Two days on a bus to Illinois. Two days back.  Neither of us had cars, and we for sure couldn’t afford two plane tickets. So between the two of us we split the cost of the bus tickets.

This story, is all about the bus ride.

Starting point: Rexburg, Idaho. We hitched a ride from a friend who owned a truck, to the bus station so we could catch our bus late that night. We were eager, to say the least.  We had stocked up on lunch meat, cheese, bread, Sobe, dried papaya, and no water.

Enter: The bus.  We had waited in the first station for about an hour (we had to be there early…I really have no idea why we had to be there so early, now that I think about it).  We got stuck in the very back of the (mini) bus and we met a really nice Mexican man who didn’t speak English.

Pauler is one to start up conversations with anyone around him, especially if they speak Spanish.  

He is really good at speaking Spanish.  We found out this Mexican man was headed to a nearby city in search of work.  If memory serves, I think he had left his family to find work there.  But he was a really nice, happy guy.  I even understood parts of their conversation because at that point Pauler was trying to teach me Spanish.  He wished us good luck on our journey.

We finally arrived at the Salt Lake City bus depot approximately 4-6 hours later.  By this time it was 4 a.m. and we were seriously regretting the decision to take a bus trip.  But we still had 90 hours to go…

VIDEO

We did end up sleeping on the floor.

VIDEO

There was one small older man who asked us if we could watch his stuff while he went outside for a smoke.  He wore a yellow hard hat and was probably like 5’6. I’m not sure why he trusted us. I felt all my senses on high alert pretty much the entire bus trip.

We said sure, and I was a nervous wreck the entire time.  If Pauler and I weren’t traveling together, I would never have made it out of Salt Lake…

We were bound for Denver, CO after that and again we ended up in the very back of the grungy, nasty bus…this time right next to the toilet (imagine a port-a-potty)…for at least 12 hours.

As memory serves, I threw up the contents of my stomach and got a major kink in my back, from not being able to lie flat to sleep.  I was miserable and greasy and I felt really small and insecure without any makeup on.

It was this trip that convinced me we could handle anything that came up against us in a marriage situation.

Throughout the entire trip there were a few people/couples that traveled almost as long and far in the same direction as us, and so we developed a kind of silent camaraderie.  And the back half of the bus became the “ghetto.”

I heard there was a guy with his pregnant wife in the front who became upset because his wife needed to pee or something and the bathroom was occupied and “the King of the ghetto[Back of the Bus]” wouldn’t let him through.  It was pretty funny.  Mostly, I think, in part to how miserable we all were.  It was all in good fun.

We made it to Denver, and passed right through. Denver is arguably the cleanest city in America.

Next stop was Omaha, NE.  Was it the next day? Time seemed to stop. By now we were dying of thirst. Remember, we hadn’t brought any water with us. We learned a very important lesson that trip about water. The cheese in our little cooler was beginning to go mushy because the ice packs had melted forever ago.  The meat we had probably should have been thrown away, but we didn’t have money for extra food, and it seemed okay enough. No one got food poisoning.

We had little else to do but to entertain ourselves with thoughts of a shower, laying flat on a bed, and seeing people we actually knew to keep from going insane.  Most of the time we slept because that was less miserable than being awake.

Greyhound Bus Culture is infinitely different than Airplane Culture.

The next installment: a bath in a bus station restroom, a balancing act, and we are almost there.

Read Part Two. Read Part Three.

Printable Exploding Mandala Valentine

I was inspired by Hattifant’s exploding valentine’s and decided to design my own. She has a video explaining how to fold the flower so it explodes just right. Her designs are absolutely beautiful and so clever. My design is FREE until the end of February, after that it will go up to $1. Scroll down to find the download. Happy Valentine making!

We’ve spent the morning coloring, cutting and gluing millions of valentines. I’m coming to realize this may be a multi-day adventure with the long list of valentines the kids wanted to make for all the people they love! Keep scrolling down for the download.

Thank you for supporting my work 🙂 Download the files by clicking here!

On Miscarriage

Saturday, January 18, 2020

It feels surreal to write that we lost our fourth baby last Thursday to causes unknown. The grief comes in waves. I don’t know for sure if the baby was a boy or a girl, and I am as yet uncertain whether I will ever meet the person who could have inhabited the tiny body that resided in me for just under 6 short weeks. Today would have marked 6 weeks exactly. It is curious to me how much attachment I felt to this baby already even though I felt completely unready and insecure about the task of caring for another child come September. I had inklings from the beginning of realizing I was pregnant again that this pregnancy would not end on a happy note. Or that circumstances would be odd. Or perhaps I would be rendered permanently infertile. These imaginations often run wild in my mind, but as my medical history has tended to be somewhat dramatic it also never surprises me when terrible things happen.

It is tempting to ask myself why we continue to live in such a way that babies might grace us with their presence at any time. We do our best to track my fertility windows and avoid them, but still we tend to be careless sometimes. I can’t say I mind. I desire greatly to have as many children as Heavenly Father sees fit to send to our family. But I often question my mental ability to care for them all. The love comes naturally, but so does the anxiety and stress over keeping them alive and helping them grow in the best ways I know how. And with this being my first real tangible experience with having a confirmed pregnancy fail…the fragility of life has suddenly become so much more apparent to me. That we even have three living breathing tiny people in our home is a miracle to me now.

In all the years that we struggled to even conceive a child, I never once considered the fragility of life; for the reality of pregnancy had never been realized until I had three in succession. All of them surprises. All of them viable. None of them without trial, but all of them viable. It seemed to me that out of four years of barrenness, suddenly I was a baby making machine and if I were to be pregnant at all that was the process and a baby would be the end result. And now, here I find myself writing about the death of my fourth baby. I was reminded by the holy spirit a day or two before the bleeding began that “all things are in the Father’s hands”. This phrase has given me strength when I am tempted to be afraid of the reality of building and raising another child. But in it, I have also learned that raising children has very little to do with me and very much to do with my willingness to serve these tiny bodies. These tiny souls. These tiny beings who have all the same emotions and fears as I do, but lack the life experience that informs them of the things I have learned about life. The responsibility of a parent is great. And children test boundaries and patience like no other beings I have yet met. And yet, the growth I have experienced from submitting to the will of my Father has been far greater than any terror I have experienced at the hands of these tiny people. They are my teachers. In life, and now in death. The time which a child is with me does not matter. I have learned more about myself and my folly from each of my, now 4, children than I ever learned without them. They are my teachers. And while I grieve the loss of a child I never knew, I feel grateful for the lessons I have learned. And I value life just that much more.

Peace be with us. –Caitlin

Basic Water Kefir Brewing

I have PTSD now about opening water kefir sodas.

Maybe that’s not the best way to introduce water kefir to you… I blame it all on my husband. You see, the very first water kefir soda we ever made exploded all over my dining room {floor to ceiling}. But this was because my husband underestimated JUST HOW MUCH CARBONATION those little kefir grains would produce–which we lovingly refer as bacteria farts now–and shook the poo out of the bottle.

Unbeknownst to me the cap FLEW off, clocked my forehead and like old faithful it blew out of it’s home and all over my dining room.

I was scared of kefir for a week.

Now brewing kefir soda ain’t no thang and my kids love it and my wallet loves that I’m not shelling out $50 a month for capsules of probiotics. Kefir man, it’s the gift that keeps on farting giving.

But to brew it successfully and without frustration there are some tools and ingredients you must have.

  1. Water Kefir Grains – these are the exact ones I bought (and if you really want, I can mail you some of ours)
  2. 16 oz. Easy Cap Brewing Bottles – the glass is about a mile thick (read: shatter proof)
  3. A large-ish nylon mesh strainer – metal ones are a little harsh on the grains but they still work great.
  4. Brown Sugar/maple syrup/molasses/raw honey – just make sure it’s mineral rich, unrefined is best.
  5. Fresh Lemons
  6. Dried Figs
  7. To make sodas – Fruit juice, dried, or fresh fruit of your choice.

The standard recipe for brewing kefir (which does not carbonate unless you bottle it) is:

Basic Water Kefir (1st ferment)

Prep Time10 mins
fermenting time2 d
Total Time2 d 10 mins

Equipment

  • quart jar
  • small piece of cotton to cover the jar
  • metal screw on lid

Ingredients

  • 1/4 C mineral rich sweetener ie brown sugar, maple sugar, molasses, honey
  • 4 C filtered water
  • 1/4 C water kefir grains buy them here
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 2 dried figs

Instructions

  • Dissolve the sweetener in the water before adding the grains. 
  • Mix all the ingredients together in a mason jar (I love the half gallon ones) and place your fabric on the jar, screwing it into place with a rim lid. Let it sit for 2-3 days at room temperature on your counter. Then filter out the grains, lemon, and figs and repeat the above process to feed your kefir. As you do this more, you'll develop your own taste preferences.
  • After it has fermented for about 2 days then it is ready to drink as is or you can add fruit/fruit juice for the second ferment to make natural sodas.

Happy Fermenting!

Cait

Poor Man’s Pesto Sauce

This year we grew vegetables and we didn’t kill them (mostly)! I finally figured out how to keep basil alive. You wanna know the secret?

Lots of water, and lots of sun, and a fair amount of neglect thrown in there too.

So, because I finally learned how to keep basil alive…we had lots of basil that needed to be consumed. And consequently we ate a lot of pesto this summer. We also grew a ridiculous amount of tomatoes–cherokee purples, hillbillies, indigo, roma, and some orange volunteer cherries. My faith in tomatoes has been restored thanks to the heirloom varieties we experimented with this year.

Walnut Pesto Sauce

Love pesto but don't want to break the bank on pine nuts? I've got you covered.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pesto pasta, pesto sauce
Servings: 4 people
Author: Caitlin Guerra

Equipment

  • food processor

Ingredients

Pesto Sauce

  • 6 Cup (2 big bunches) Fresh Italian Basil
  • 1/2 Cup Crispy Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1-3 cloves Garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more to taste)

Pasta

  • 1 Lb Rotini or Fusilli Pasta GF version substitute pasta of choice
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Lb Pre-sliced Crimini Mushrooms
  • 1 Lb Cherry Tomatoes
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Start a large saucepan with water to boil. Gather your food processor and put all of the ingredients for the pesto sauce in it. Blend until smooth, approximately 1-2 minutes. Set Pesto aside.
  • Once your water is boiling pour pasta and a dash of salt into water and cook until just tender. Depending on the brand of pasta this could be 6-8 minutes. Mushy pasta is the worst, try not to overcook.
  • While your pasta is cooking heat up a skillet and melt butter. Once butter is melted and bubbly add the mushrooms. Cook until moist looking and soft. Once the pasta is perfect, turn off heat, drain out water, and return pasta to saucepan. Add pesto sauce and stir until well coated. Stir in mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
  • For a toddler friendly version: keep the noodles, pesto sauce, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes separated. If there is a coup staged, or mutiny occurring, or if any portion of their food hits the floor, put it back on their plate and pretend like it never happened. Eventually mealtime will cease to be a battle of wits…we hope.

A Birth Story – The Gift of Light

She came a few days late. But I’ve always thought having a specific due date was kind of silly… so as far as I was concerned she was right on time. I woke up around 12:30 am February 26, 2014 to some practice labor, which by that point I was pretty used to. So I didn’t think much of it. It was also customary to pay a visit to the loo around this time every night so I did that. But the practice labor didn’t subside like it usually would.

My husband, as per usual, was sleeping like a log. Completely impervious to the world outside his dreams. So, I wrapped my legs around my body pillow that had become the intruder to our bed and tried to get comfortable and breathe my way through these surges (as the hypnobirthing method calls contractions). It helped. Then I realized that my husband was still asleep, and this must be labor.

I tried to wake Mr. Hummer. It took three tries and over the space of about 10 minutes he finally awoke with a start to “Hummer, I really need you to be awake right now” as I continued to breathe through surges that were now definitely early stages of labor.

We had planned and waited for this moment, and it was as surreal as surreal could be. Part of me thought this day would never come and I would be pregnant forever more. We had rented a birthing tub from our midwives, and I had planned on doing a water birth. So now that Hummer was awake he ran to the main house (we were renting a small house on his parent’s property at the time) and woke up D, our adopted little brother to help him get the tub out and bring it to our house.

The winter air was quiet. Everyone was sleeping. But I remember the life inside me and the turmoil that was beginning inside my body and starting to envelope my entire being.

While we are very grateful for the opportunity we had to live with my husband’s family for a time, there were some quirks about the house that must be explained. First, our water heater was such that you could not take a full 15 minute shower without turning the water off to soap up and scrub down. At least, not if you wanted hot water. The water tub, at this point, was completely empty. And as this was our first experience with real labor we had little idea of gauging how long it would be until the real action began. So, my husband, bless his soul, used what water we had in reserve and then spent most of the wee hours of the morning carrying a 5 gallon bucket to and from hot water spigots to fill up this tub. Little did we know at the time, that the cover was underneath the tub liner. Second, our house was about 600 square feet, 1 bedroom and was packed full, or so it seemed, of birthing supplies and dirty dishes.

So we called the midwives at 1 am and then at 3 am and then at 5 am telling them I was definitely in labor, but it was still pretty early and each time they said okay, well just try and get some rest and call us in a few hours. They had given us a sheet of paper so we could know the signs. I didn’t want to bother them too early so we just kept updating them every few hours. By around 6 am I felt like we ought to tell the midwives to come. Two of them came and checked my progress. I was only dilated to 3 cm, but the surges were regular and long. Until about 9 am.

Then? Nothing. Labor halted after that. It tapered off into quiet land. So the midwives left around 10 am and said to eat and drink normally and sleep as much as possible. I have to admit I was a little frustrated that labor just slowed off into nothingness. I wanted this baby out!

I returned to the uncovered, completely filled birthing tub and a laborless body. So we pulled out the futon, tried to organize the dirty dishes, ate breakfast, and took a nap. Or I tried to anyway.

I still felt surges come and go every 10 minutes or so. But they seemed puny compared to what I had experienced earlier that morning. By mid afternoon I had essentially given up on giving birth today and just decided I would be laboring for awhile.

Well, come 5 pm, the most interesting of hours, and just as quickly as it had stopped, labor began again. This time with an agenda. I’m not really sure why it took us so long to tell the midwives to come back. I guess it must have been a combination of me having no real concept of time, and underestimating the feelings I was feeling. By the time I was in heavy labor, on our bed…because the water tub water was around 80 degrees by then, which was entirely too cold… my husband kept asking me should we call the midwives? I kept saying, I dunno! How silly we were. Suffice it to say, we called the midwives and told them It’s time! My hair was a disaster…it had been clipped up, but the clip was lost in my wild mane of mess. I remember rocking back and forth in the polar bear position for what felt like an eternity. I was so exhausted, and so alive at the same time. Finally the midwives came.

It was probably around 9 pm. All the windows were wide open and the fan was on, it was the middle of winter and I still felt like I was about a million degrees. And I made sounds I didn’t know I could make. And I believe that oxygen makes all the difference to being able to handle the intensity of surges…I recall one that felt like it was about five waves of contractions that didn’t end. During it I thought if it never ended, I might cease to exist. But the beautiful thing about surges is that they always end, and they are cyclical, and every one you have is one closer to meeting your baby.

I had heard that moms in labor often start to say things like I don’t want to do this anymore, when they’re a few surges away from the head coming out. That’s exactly how I felt and what I said too. My waters broke somewhere around this time. And when her head finally came out, there was a relief through my body that no words can adequately explain. It is the practice of these midwives to wait and see, so while Peanut’s head was out they told me I could push the rest of her body out, but I just let the next surge shoot her out. While I was relishing in the brief relief, she moved her head around and started flailing her legs and arms, still half born half in utero. The sensation was the strangest thing I had ever felt…it tickled. And finally her tiny, slimy body slid its way out. She didn’t cry. She just coughed a little and started making these high pitched singing noises. The midwives said they had never heard anything like it before.

I cried. Half from bliss, half from relief. At 11:49 pm it felt as if time stopped. I told our daughter that she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, that we had waited so long for her to finally be here, that we were happy she was safe and healthy and strong, and that she smelled like a little slice of heaven pie.Looking back on it…I can’t remember ever feeling more powerful and more raw in my entire existence. And next time, I am definitely making sure the birthing tub is set up right.