Thursday, February 28, 2013

Henri's Birth Story

Happy 1st Birthday Henri Streicher Lenser!

A gentle flowing stream, running smoothly along and then out of nowhere comes a long rushing, WILD waterfall.
In our first birth class our instructor asked us to illustrate how we felt about pregnancy and childbirth. That’s what I drew, a waterfall. Little did I know on February 28th at 2 AM, a week before my “guess” date, my water would break like a surging waterfall. I was peacefully sleeping and POP-GUSH! I hopped to the bathroom trying stop the raging amniotic fluid from getting all over our bed and carpet. Too late.
Of course, in excitement, I woke up my David. “Honey! Honey! my water broke! The baby is coming!”. Then I began running around like a mad woman. I simply  lost my mind. Not in a bad way. I just began waddling around barking orders at David to set up the bedroom for the birth. I was running circles around him. He finally ordered me to stand in one spot on a towel because I was still losing water, turning our house into a pond- the hallway, the nursery, our bedroom floor...ok just about everywhere. Poor David.
We finally got all the proper covers and sheets on the bed, I showered, oh and we re-booked our doulas flight from North Carolina (that is a story all on it’s own-just imagine me on the phone with a United Airline agent at 2 AM telling her I was in labor). David reminded me that our midwives had strictly instructed us to go back to bed if I went into labor in the middle of the night. OOOOOOK. We texted the midwives to give them a heads up and then David fell back asleep almost instantly. I sneakily downloaded a contraction app on my phone. Well, trying to time my contractions worked better than counting sheep(nothing really happening) and I was out until morning.
David’s alarm went off around 6:30 and he tried to turn it off and go back to bed. I rolled over and woke him back up. “Sorry honey but I don’t feel much of anything you better go to work.” He looked at me in disappointment but got up to start getting ready. Jennifer, one of our wonderful midwives called at 7:00 to check on us. We chatted for a bit and she said she was going to come by at 8:00. David stayed home with me until she came by. It was extremely reassuring to have her come over. She offered me some herbs to help speed labor up since my water had broken but said she thought I would be just fine without them. I decided to let me body do what is was going to do and passed on the herbs. I’m so glad I did.
I texted everyone I wanted to tell (maybe everyone I know?) that my water had broken. They were all super excited and everyone wanted to know when I was going to have the baby. Ummm? My sweet mom offered to come over and hang out with me for the day which I gladly accepted. I informed her that I had a busy day planned and would love her help. She was a bit surprised when I told her I needed to go to Target and the grocery store but thankfully just went with it. My contractions (yes, I had been having contractions!) went from “is that a contraction?” to “Uh yeah I think that is a contraction”. Honestly, I still wasn’t really sure if I was experiencing labor or if my mind was just playing tricks on me. We spent the morning at Target getting baking supplies and toiletry supplies for Kellay; our doula and good friend who was coming to stay with us for the birth and a couple weeks after. Next we went to Raley’s (a local grocery store). I’m not sure what I bought besides some lunch meat for David. The delicatessen told me that her belly button popped out when she was pregnant too. I laughed and looked down at my protruding belly button.  She said a British man told her she was going to have a boy pointing at her belly button and saying, “...because I can see his tallywacker (the belly button)”. I blushed and chuckled telling her that we didn’t know the gender of our little one but would find out soon. I forgot to mention the fact that I was currently in labor!
We went home to meet David for lunch. I made tuna. Just a tidbit of wisdom for my fellow mommies: Don’t eat tuna while you are in the early stages of labor, alright? It might sound appetizing but you’ll regret it later. Trust me.
After lunch David headed back to work telling me to keep him posted. My mom asked if she could paint my toenails YES! It became clear that things had really picked up because I went on my hands and knees through a contraction at one point and completely ruined a couple of freshly painted toenails.
After my nails had dried we decided to take a little stroll around the neighborhood. I began stopping during contractions on the walk but at this point we weren’t really timing anything. This really helped me to just go with it and let each contraction come and go without any stress or worry. I still thought there would be hope that the baby might not come until our doula flew in the next morning so I was perfectly content in labor (for the time being). I know that sounds CRAZY but using the techniques I learned in hypnobirthing helped me tremendously. At some point I tried to take a nap but that didn’t work for me. I wanted to stay MOVING. My body knew that movement was going to help the baby come down faster. Moving also felt best.
I decided to start making cookies. My birth instructor, Anita had instructed us to make cookies in labor to give us something to do. She also recommended taking these bake goods to the hospital to get the nurses on our side for a natural birth. This part didn’t apply to me but I still liked the idea of keeping busy. I was really intensely laboring and intensely making cookies. It went like this. “1 cup of flour-MOOOM hit the contraction timer!!!” Then I marched around the living room a couple times. “OOOK! It’s over! Now ¾ cup of sugar”.  The cookies never got finished, the partially made dough sat in the kitchen aid until a kind soul cleaned it out days later. At some point during the baking process, around 5 o’clock, I called David telling him, “Come home NOW!!!!! But not before you go buy some more sugar- I’m all out and I have to finish my cookies.” Poor guy was getting mixed messages.  
I had several conversations with our midwives Jennifer and Tuesday (yes, that’s her real name) throughout the day, they would listen to me experience a contraction over the phone and at some point, probably 5:30, they said they were on there way. I remember at one point talking to Tuesday and she said I wasn’t “out of breath enough” for her to come over but apparently at some point we chatted and she thought it was time. She couldn’t have been more right.
I think at this point I finally realized our doula, Kellay was going to miss the birth! Thankfully she stayed with us in spirit and had several conversations with David throughout the evening which helped us so much in getting through the birth. If you want to read about David’s birth experience click here ( and scroll down a little bit).

So David arrived at home with the brown sugar that we never used and Tuesday instructed us to eat some dinner.  My last meal before I was a MOM! My mom made us quesadillas but i’m not sure that I ate but a couple bites. Things were really intensifying for me. I started to feel strong back labor and instructed David to pound on my back during contractions. I used our staircase to kneel as he punched my back. I remember saying “David! Harder!”.
Ding dong! The midwives were here! Even though things were intense I turned to them and smiled. They had become old friends. We had spent countless hours in their office over the past 9 months and here they were!
Mentally I was in a great place. I was excited! My hypnobirthing relaxation CD was on repeat annoying the daylights out of everyone else but helping me immensely. The CD had soft music playing with birth affirmations (phrases of encouragement) like “I am happy my baby is finally coming to me” and “with each surge of my body my baby moves down” or “my body knows exactly what it is doing”.

Alright I feel compelled to share this next part because no one told about this part of labor. Between my amazing doula, wonderful midwives, my mother, my mother-in-law, all the birth books, videos, and blogs, and every other person who has ever given birth I didn’t hear that throwing up was a very normal part of labor. Apparently throwing up usually means you have hit transition and you are getting closer to meeting your baby. So it is a good thing! Well in my head I thought it meant something was terribly wrong. I remember saying to David as I pulled my face out of a barf bowl. “David, do the midwives know I’m throwing up??” He said he would make sure they knew. Jennifer walked through the room and he turned to tell her and I remember her saying “Oh that’s great!” UM WHAT?? Remember how I mentioned tuna was probably a bad lunch choice? Now you know why.

Time became a blur but at probably 7PM I got into the birth tub with David. I had originally told David I thought it would be weird to have him in the tub with me, but when the time came I wanted him as close as possible. He continued to help relieve my back labor with pressure through every contraction. All of the birth videos I watched showed women peacefully floating in the tub. Well let me just tell you, that was not my experience. The time in the tub was a very intense couple of hours. My body had taken over and all I could do was let it. As the contractions grew in strength and length I began to panic a little. I never thought “I can’t do this” or “ I want an epidural.” Instead I wanted to escape the process completely. David said through a couple contractions I looked like I was trying to escape my body, like I was going to jump out of my skin. And then I let out one blood curdling scream. That didn’t help either. Tuesday my midwife very sternly said “Stop it! You are scaring yourself!!”. That pulled me out of my moment of darkness. Jennifer then sprayed some herbal potion in my mouth and David’s mouth too. We all laughed about that later as we couldn’t figure out why the foul tasting spray was given to David as well. It was pretty gross but I got my concentration back and instead of fighting the contractions I worked with them. The midwives told me after that they just loved how verbally encouraging I was for myself. It makes me wish I had videotaped the birth because I talked our baby and I through the entire experience. The same way an experienced climber helps a novice up a mountain. I told our baby (ok maybe I yelled to him) that he was totally safe and that it was okay to move down the birth canal. I told him I couldn’t wait to meet him. I told myself that each contraction brought me closer to meeting him.
I also remember asking Jennifer and Tuesday, “When is the baby coming out?” They both calmly smiled at me and said, “Soon”. Not what I meant you guys! I wanted a time estimate. Are we talking 15 minutes soon or 2 hours soon? In the back of my mind I was wondering if our baby would come before or after Leap Day. I wanted him to come before because who wants to be in labor any longer than necessary but before labor began I was secretly hoping for a Leap Year little one! I asked several times what time is was and always shocked how quickly time was passing. What felt like 5 minutes was usually more like an hour. I’ll take it.
It’s funny, I’ve never seen a live birth...the only birth I’ve been to has been my own so I have nothing to compare it to. At some point I started pushing. No one told me it was time but my body did. It was so instinctual and I couldn’t stop myself. At some point during this phase Tuesday told me to reach down and feel my babies head. I did and immediately said “No, no! It doesn’t feel like a head.” Honestly I thought I might be giving birth to an alien at that point. They said, “Yes it is.” FINE.
The pushing segment of my labor didn’t seem like it lasted long at all. Before I knew it I was experiencing that “ring of fire” you hear about. Yep, it burned. But I was actually so much more comfortable because my contractions were less intense through the pushing and it felt like a break. Not to mention we were about to meet our child for the first time! Afterwards the midwives informed me that the pushing lasted about 30 minutes. So much longer than it felt at the time! Before I knew it the midwives told me his head was all the way out and with one more big push I felt the rest of him shoot out of my body. It really felt like he flew out of me!
I reached down and Tuesday helped me pull him straight to my chest. It was the most incredible moment of my life, even better than marrying the man of my dreams. I felt such a rush of love for the little being on my chest, someone I had never seen in my life. He let out one little cry and it was such a sweet, sweet sound to know he was breathing! Perfect in every way.
We didn’t know what our little man was at the time. David admitted to seeing that he was a boy as he was pulled up to my chest but I didn’t notice. It took me at least 5 or 10 minutes to even ask myself if he was a boy or a girl. I opened one of his itty bitty legs and shouted “It’s a BOY!” Just as I had thought all along. My little man! He was born at 10:48 PM, just two hours before leap year.
I’m not sure how long we adored him in the birthing tub but we all started getting cold once the adrenaline of the birth started to slow down. I stood up with Henri in my arms and delivered the placenta and then we moved to the bed. At some point (30 minutes later?) David cut the umbilical cord and Henri latched on for the first time. It was so exhilarating to see him nurse like a pro.
All of his grandparents showed up to adore him. I held him close smiling with pride! The midwives performed the newborn evaluation at this point.  They checked him from head to toe to make sure everything was right. 6 pounds 8 ounces of perfection. They finished and gave him back to me. I wasn’t quite ready to share him yet. I had waited 9 months to meet him and we had a lot of catching up to do.

So now our little Henri is 1 today and it seems like just last week he was born. He has brought us more joy than we could have ever imagined. He lives life with such enthusiasm and glee. He’s such a character with so much spunk. He’s adventurous, curious, and sometimes, if i’m lucky, a little snuggle bug. He smiles so big that his eyes disappear into his face. I had no idea my love for him could be so big but I’m crazy about him. When he goes to bed at night David and I sit on the couch and laugh about his cuteness. So here comes a photo bomb of my baby. Happy birthday Henri!

birth announcement photo

These two are the best of friends. Seeing how happy they make each other melts my heart. 

picnic with mom 
Just "hanging" out with dada

Henri and his beautiful doula! 
Bath time

Add caption


He hated swimming in Cabo. Maybe this year?
How do you say no to that smile?

Hanging out with King in Cabo 

Soaking up the sun in CABO
Henri in a box! 

Looking snappy in his puppy hat.

We love our morning walks 

This is just another day of awesome nap hair. 

Christmas 2012 Picture wearing his Uncles Johnny's baby outfit. C-U-T-E

Looking good in some overalls

8 months old!

Couldn't be any cuter if he tried!

The Lenser circus act!

Just rubbing breakfast in my hair! No big deal!

Gotta love those baby blues!

One week away from the big 1

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Farmers Market: Honey and Olive Oil

Ok, we have talked about purchasing produce and animal products at your local Farmer’s Market, but what about everything else? I don’t know about you but our market has everything from baked breads to olive oil to honey to soap and even a stand called the “The Crazy Gringo Taco Wagon.” So what’s the deal with all these vendors?
Because we try to keep to a grocery budget I try not to get too swept away with the vendors outside of “what we need.” Just ask yourself, “Is this something I need and keep stocked in my kitchen?” If the answer is yes, buying these items locally is the best decision for your health and your community!

Some of the items I keep in my kitchen that I buy from the market are olive oil and honey


We try and stay away from refined sugar in our home. We haven’t cut it out of our diet completely. It has worked as a wonderful balance for us to “ban” sugar from our house and enjoy it as a special treat when we are guests in other peoples home or out and about.  As a replacement we use raw, local honey. It’s delicious and unlike refined sugar has health benefits to boot. Honey is known to soothe allergy symptoms and prevent cancer. It is also anti-fungal and can help ease the discomfort of a sore throat. Oh did I mention it’s absolutely delicious???

It is important to get local, raw honey because conventional honey (honey typically found in the grocery store...think plastic bear) is usually filtered and heated to the point where it loses all it’s beneficial properties. Studies actually show that conventional pasteurized honey is about the same as refined sugar. So don’t miss out on all the health benefits of honey by purchasing it from the grocery store. I just learned from our honey man that the darker the honey the better it is for you! It has more antioxidants. Read more here. Darker honey often means a stronger ‘honey” flavor so if you are using honey as a substitute for sugar keep this in mind. We just finished a large jar of sage honey which is very mild and we purchased a jar of star thistle honey( much much darker), I’ll let you know how it goes! 

When you are purchasing honey at a Farmer’s Market ask your farmer:

  • Is this heated in anyway? You are looking for the answer to be NO. You want your honey to be RAW.

  • Is your honey filtered? Our honey man says he lightly filters the honey to make sure you don’t end up with a bee leg floating around in your jar, so that works for me.

Confused on how to sub honey for sugar? Ok let’s be honest...So am I! I’ll be blogging some recipes in the coming weeks as I experiment with swapping sugar out for honey.

Olive Oil

It’s so frustrating to me when I find out yet another food item I have to be wary of. Needless to say when I read a blog entry about contaminated olive oil I just took a long  sigh. NOT AGAIN. I just hate that so many “healthy foods” I used to love contain really bad ingredients and now this wonderful healthy fat isn’t even real more than half the time!!! Want to read more about this scam? Click here.  Well I did a little digging and found out that most olive oil you buy from the grocery is a fraud. Dr. Oz  just talked about fraudulent olive oil and if you want to read more click here. There are some tricks you can use to find out if your olive oil is the real deal but none of them are fail proof. If you are curious to test this out what you do is stick your olive oil in the fridge for a day or two. Apparently the real thing will get really cloudy and thicken up a bit. Well when we did this we saw cloudy oil in the bottle but we also saw completely clear still thin oil in the bottle as well. I read that this test isn’t a reliable indicator of real vs fake olive oil but it was fun to give it a shot.

Some of you might be wondering why I think this is such a big deal. Well these cheap oils are BAD BAD BAD for you! The SAD ( standard american diet) is full of the fake oils and if you ask me they are a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic in our country. I encourage you to start noticing how much soy, canola and vegetable oil you see in the foods you are eating. It was truly alarming to see how many products I thought were healthy contained this stuff.

OK! Cheap vegetable oil rant over. Back to olive oil. So extra virgin olive oil is one of the good fats. We use it quite often to make our own salad dressing I have the BEST recipe which I will share soon. But if i’m going to use it I want the real thing! So how do I get it? Well if you live in California you are lucky because we can buy local olive oil at the farmers market. You can talk to the seller and find out about their oil. Our particular seller is very proud of his product and always loves telling us about his oil. Now if you are reading this and you live somewhere that is not conducive to purchasing olive oil locally I’ll make a few recommendations. Your best bet is to purchase it online. As with all quality products expect to spend more than you would at the grocery store. To shop for real olive oil click here ,here or here.
What items are staples for you at the farmers market other than produce and meat? I’d love to hear from you!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meat, Eggs and Dairy Products 101:

What to Look for and how to Purchase Locally

I’ll be the first to admit, it was hard for me to start thinking about buying these products locally for several reasons:
  1. I had never done it before
  2. It is a lot more expensive
  3. I didn’t understand why it was more expensive.

However, I’ve learned a lot over the past couple years about food and farming. When we choose to buy our meat, eggs and dairy products locally we benefit ourselves, our community and our world. Why? Grass-fed, pastured animal products are so much healthier! I’ll explain why in a little bit. Buying locally is so great for our local cities, counties and states. Keeping money in our local economy is always a good thing. Also it’s a great way to care for our planet. Not only are grass fed, pastured animals treated better, they are gentle on our planet whereas factory farmed animals wreak havoc on our environment and our bodies.


Depending on the Farmers’ Market you attend, meat may not be a commodity available. Our local markets usually have at least one meat farmer but they typically bring a limited supply to the market. So if you are looking for a specific cut, don’t expect the full variety like the grocery store. If you are looking to start eating only grass fed beef or pastured pork I HIGHLY recommend buying ¼ of ½ a cow  or pig from a local source. We currently have a freezer stocked with all kinds of delicious grass fed beef which means I NEVER buy beef from the grocery store. Our beef share also came with soup bones (which are wonderful for making beef broth for soups, etc.) and you usually work with the butcher to decide what cuts of beef you prefer. We even asked the butcher to package our ground beef in half pound increments which we have found is the perfect size for our little family. Buying part of a cow does require ample freezer space so please consider this before making the commitment. Another perk: Buying beef in bulk like this is extremely affordable. My father in law ( who we share ½ a cow with) did the math and said it’s about the same price per pound as purchasing regular non- organic beef from the grocery store. WIN! To find a local seller click here.

Same cut of beef! Just different diet! It’s like comparing a human who eats cheetos all day long or someone who eats a balanced diet full of real food! So why is grass-fed beef better? Research has shown that grass fed beef has as much as 10 times more beta-catotene, three times more Vitamin # and three-times more omega-3 fatty acids. (

Also the the fat content in grass fed beef is signigicantly lower resulting in a lot less calories. "If you eat a typical amount of beef per year," Robinson points out in Pasture Perfect, a book about the benefits of pasture raised animals, "which in the United States is about 67 pounds, switching to grass-fed beef will save you 16,642 calories a year." (
Because grass fed beef is much leaner, it needs to be cooked differently. Stayed tuned for some blog posts about my experience in the kitchen with grass-fed beef.

We have recently started purchasing our chicken from the Farmers’ Market as well. The best way to purchase chicken is to purchase a whole bird. You get the most for your money and it’s so much tastier than the typical boneless skinless (tasteless) chicken breast. We buy from a farmer who raises heritage breed chickens. These chickens grow at a more normal pace than factory birds. A big difference from factory farmed birds who are loaded up with antibiotics, crammed in a tight quarters and fed whatever fattens them up quickest. Not to mention that factory birds are genetically engineered to grow in a time frame never possible in nature with proportions not possible in nature. Pastured birds spend their days out in the sun, enjoying bugs and often a high quality organic soy free feed. And heritage breeds are simply birds that grow at a normal rate with normal proportions, i.e. there is less breast meat on a heritage bird than on a factory one.

Pastured chicken 
Factory Farmed chicken

We don’t eat much pork around our house. If we do it’s usually organic bacon from the grocery store. On my last trip to the Farmers’ Market I purchased Portuguese sausages from a organic pork farmer. We are excited to try them!

When consuming meat:

  • Beef is best  GRASS FED and purchased locally if possible
  • Chicken is best pasture raised but I’ll buy organic chicken from the grocery store in a pinch. Remember it’s so much better to take the plunge and purchase a WHOLE chicken (it’s much more cost effective than buying cuts). Look for a coming post on wrestling whole chickens in the kitchen!
  • Pork should always be organic and local is best. My in-laws are looking into buying half of a pig from a local farmer...I’ll blog about that experience later!

All About EGGS

Eggs. Just a glance at the egg selection at the grocery store makes my head spin. You can buy regular white eggs, brown eggs, free range brown eggs, cage free eggs, free- range eggs with dha, vegetarian fed eggs and even soy free eggs! What does all of it mean!!?!?! In my opinion it’s all one big gimmick to convince you one brand is better than the other. Nevertheless here is a breakdown of common egg jargon:

  • Cage free- The chickens probably still live indoors in a chicken house, they might have access to the outdoors and they might not. They just don't live in individual cages. If they are organic cage-free eggs they are fed organic feed and have stricter guidelines as far as treatment and the use of antibiotics.

  • Free range- This probably means the chickens have access to the outdoors but how much access is hard to say without speaking to the specific producer.

If I am forced to purchase my eggs from the grocery store I usually purchase the free range organic eggs.

Still confused??
The trick to purchasing REAL eggs from chickens that graze on pastures is to purchase them from your LOCAL FARMER, often you will find these eggs for sale at the farmers market. Get to the market early because pastured eggs sell out fast. You can also put your name on a list for the next week with a farmer who sells eggs.

So why are pastured/organic/Farmers’ Market eggs better than the eggs from the grocery store?
Let me give you a visual. 

Not to mention pastured eggs are lower in cholesterol than store bought eggs and much higher in vitamins A and D plus they have naturally occurring DHA

Expect to pay a premium amount for a premium product. But trust me they are worth every penny!

Another great place to looks for eggs is CRAIGSLIST. We purchase our eggs from a local farmer we found on craigslist and they are wonderful. Just type eggs into your local craigslist search field and see what you find. Remember to ask what they feed their chickens. Organic is best because it means there are no GMOs in the feed.


This is something less frequently found at a typical market but I want to cover it here for those who have an option to purchase dairy products at their market.

Our market has two vendors who sell cheese. I’m always on the hunt for grass-fed raw cheese (which is the best tasting and the best for you in my book).
Again if you are looking to buy cheese locally craigslist could be a great option. We buy our milk locally and the farmer is currently making cheese they hope to start selling in the spring.
If you find a cheese vendor at your market ask about the milk they use to make their cheese. The most important thing for me is whether or not the milk comes from a cow that is grass fed.

I haven’t seen a market in our area that sells milk but I’m going to write a post about milk. I have a lot to share about where to purchase milk, what type to buy, and why it matters.

Ok! That about wraps it up! This post is broad so please ask questions in the comments below and happy shopping!!!