Friday, March 30, 2007


Yesterday, a musing mom and I gathered up all of our children and trekked to the Planetarium. A musing dad joined us too, which was nice since we had six kids between the two families. The noisy boys have been learning about the planets in preschool, so it was a home run with them.

Today our old playgroup is coming over, so I’m brewing coffee and digging out an extra box of cheesy crackers for snack time. When I told the noisy boys their friends were coming to play, they immediately asked if they could go to build-a-bear. Of course. The last time we were at the mall they asked, and I told them we would organize a trip with their friends sometime.

“But you said we could go!” Twin B. exclaimed.
“Not today, boys,” I responded, “Today we’re going to play at our house.”
“Oh, man. We never get to do ANYTHING!” Twin B. followed up.
“Yeah.” Twin A. chimed in. “EVERYONE in our preschool has been to Build a Bear except for us.”

Right. Everyone has done a lot of things we haven’t done. Never mind that their Mom values time in museums over trips to the mall. So, more lessons this morning on contentment and having enough and being grateful. It’s black and white when I’m teaching the kids—so easy to see that they have plenty and need to be grateful and content. But I need to learn this lesson too. How many times have I grieved God with my complaining? How often has He blessed me, only to hear me say, “But I really wish it had been…” I need to learn this lesson about enough too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

family fun

In the evening, at some point during the hour-and-a-half between dinner and bedtime, the noisy boys like to have “family fun.” This consists of anything “fun” done all together as a family (or as much of our family that’s home). Sometimes we go for a walk or play a game; sometimes we listen to music and dance together; sometimes we color pictures or play I-spy. So much of life is busy and work-focused. Phrases like, “I’ll help you with that as soon as I’m done loading the dishwasher;” and “get your shoes on, boys, we need to do a few errands” are commonly heard at our house. Family fun is a concerted effort on my part to make sure that for some part of each day we’re simply enjoying each other’s company.

I’m a big proponent of fun in general. Last night, we had fun having a restaurant supper. We didn’t go out; instead we turned our kitchen into a restaurant. First, the noisy boys colored menus listing all of the food choices. Lots of options last night: mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, artichoke pasta, sesame-ginger turkey tenderloin, mexican rice, chicken enchilada (only one), and roasted cauliflower. Never mind that Mom was cleaning out the fridge and calling it supper, the noisy boys were thrilled to act as “waiters” and take our orders. Twin A. insisted on turning the lights off and lighting a candle for atmosphere, and both boys enjoyed coloring a picture while they waited for their food (since that’s what you do in a restaurant). The only thing missing was the busboy to clear away the dishes. Well, that and the bill.

Do you make fun a priority in your family? Do you laugh together often? I’m nowhere near perfect in this area, but I do love to have fun—and I’m glad it’s rubbing off on the kids.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Last week when Twin A was at the E.R., his brothers and I took a trip to the grocery store. Walking by the meat case, I noticed that chicken was on sale. Then I looked at the packages and saw that it was really on sale. The “sell by” date was the next day, and all of the already-on-sale chicken was half off. Bottom line—I got huge value-packs of chicken for two bucks. I threw a bunch of them in my cart, figuring I can always use frozen chicken.

Back at home, I was on my way down to the basement freezer to stash our huge supply of cheap chicken, when Twin B. said, “Mom, look! Our friend is outside.” A neighbor and her two kids were walking back from the park, so we popped our heads outside to say “Hi.” Immediately, all I could think about was chicken. I needed to give her some chicken.

Now, let me back up here and say that I’m not a person who regularly hands out groceries. My sister-in-law? Constantly. “Here! I got this cereal for a dollar a box! Take some!” If I know of a need, I’m quick to give, but to just randomly give someone food? Not me at all.

So here I am chatting with this neighbor and I can’t let it go, this desire to give her some chicken, so I tell her, “Listen. I was just at Dominick’s and I got this great deal on chicken. It was half off of the sale price—only two bucks for a huge pack.” She doesn’t say anything, so I continue, “Do you want a pack? I bought way more than we need.” She hesitates and looks at me like I have three heads. So I go in and get her a pack of chicken. She thanks me and continues her walk.

A few times since then I’ve thought, “She must think I’m a freak. What kind of person hands out chicken to their neighbors just because they got a good deal on it?” But a few days later I got an email from her, thanking me for that chicken. They were out of groceries and she had no idea what she was going to make for dinner that night. Now, I know they’re on a tight budget so she can be home with the kids, but I don’t know if she was out of groceries because they had no money or she simply couldn’t get to the store. (Spoken by a woman with enough money who has gone to the neighbor’s house with two empty sippy cups, asking for milk.) Either way, I am amazed at God’s provision for her.

I’m pretty sure the chicken was a God-thing, and yet it’s hard for me to accept. There are children on the other side of the world who will go to bed hungry tonight; people in the hospital, dying of cancer; refugees, running for their very lives. Why would God care about this particular neighbor’s dinner enough to prompt me to give her some inexpensive chicken? Why would God care about chicken at all in light of all of the need in the world? And the real question, why would God care about me, a middle-class suburban housewife, when He is God? Sovereign, Omniscient, all-powerful God? Surely He has better things to do than think about me. My view of God is expanding, but I still struggle with His care of me, as an individual. Oh, He loves the World, that’s for sure, but me? Really? It’s hard to remember my own moments of despair, running for my life, so to speak, and wonder that God can keep track of chicken prices in Naperville, but not me in my most difficult moments. I choose to believe He does, of course, but the chicken thing is still hard for me to get my head around.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


“Boys, hurry up and get dressed! We need to leave in five minutes.” The words were barely shouted up the stairs when the crash came. The huge, something-terrible-has-happened crash that Moms around the world dread. Running up the stairs, Twin B. meets me in the hall yelling, “Emergency! Come quick!” I hear Twin A. screaming, and find him trapped under his dresser.

Quickly pulling the dresser off of him, I interrupt Twin B. who is trying to explain what happened.
“I was reaching for my undies…”
“We’ll talk later. We need to take care of your brother now. Run and get Daddy. Interrupt him if he’s on the phone and tell him it’s an emergency.”
Taking my other boy in my lap, I pray aloud, “God, may we know your presence right now, in this moment.”
“What’s presence?” Twin A. asks while still sobbing.
“God is with us,” I tell him, “even when we don’t notice. I’m asking God to help us notice that He is here with us right now because you’re hurt.”

Fifteen minutes later, my husband and A. were off to the E.R. to assess his injuries and get stitches for the gash on his forehead. I turn my attention to the other boy, sitting quietly on the couch.
“That was sure scary,” I began.
“Yeah.” Twin B. responds, his eyes welling up with tears. “I was just trying to get some undies. A. was sitting on the floor getting dressed and I opened the drawer to get my undies and the whole thing tipped over. I tried to grab it but I was too late.” Tears rolled down his cheeks. “I feel so sad for A.”
I took him into my arms and reassured him, “It wasn’t your fault A. got hurt. It was an accident.”
“But you always tell us to be careful,” he continued, his tears gaining momentum.
“Yes. And you will be now, won’t you?”
“And Mommy and Daddy will bolt the dresser to the wall so it can’t happen again. We should have done that a long time ago. Accidents happen, B.”
His shoulders lifted. “I still feel really bad for A.”
“Me too, B.”
So off we went to the store for balloons and chocolate donuts and a box of Bamm Bamm Berry Pebbles to cheer his brother and to make ourselves feel useful.

My own tears come later, when I call the pediatrician to update her. “Ten stitches, no broken bones.”
“Thank goodness,” she says.
“I feel like such a terrible mother. How many times have I thought about bolting that dresser to the wall, but just haven’t gotten around to it?” My own tears fall freely now.
“No,” she says, “accidents happen. And we were lucky.”

“In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:18)

And so we give thanks…

For calm, quick thinking in an emergency.
For my husband, who was working from home today.
For health insurance and a good hospital nearby.
For many teachable moments with our noisy boys.
For A.’s courage at the E.R. and his relatively minor injuries.
For grace.
And, last but not least…
For chocolate donuts.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

fill'er up

Funny stories, practical tips, tearful moments—they’re all a part of my annual pilgrimage to the Hearts at Home conference in Bloomington. Sitting in a crowd of four thousand moms, laughing over the commonality of our day-to-day experiences with laundry and kids and cooking fills me up and affirms the importance of my role as Mom.

On Saturday, Jill Savage talked about the importance of filling up our Mom tanks. After all, we give and give to everyone, and while it sounds noble to just ignore our own needs, it’s not wise to do this on a regular basis. And the truth is, nobody is going to knock on the door and say, “Hey! Let me give you a hand!” (Well, except sometimes my dear Mother-in-law does—bless her.) But in general, nobody will notice that we’re running on empty. We need to pay attention to our own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and find ways to fill up periodically. Sometimes it’s as simple as a conversation with our spouse, “Can you put the kids to bed tonight? I need to take a bubble bath and curl up with a book.” Sometimes, it’s a phone call to a friend to organize a babysitting swap. Sometimes, we need to leave dirty dishes in the sink, let the laundry pile up, and just sit at the feet of Jesus.

I’m getting better at negotiating what I need. I can look at my calendar, see when my husband will be away, and efficiently outline my plan for survival. Sometimes, I’ll invite another “single” Mom and her kids over for dinner. (Even if it’s just frozen pizza, having another adult to talk to eases the stress and monotony of the day.) Sometimes, I’ll ask Grandma to take baby b. for an afternoon while the noisy boys are at school. Sometimes, I’ll leave the housework and take a nap. I used to feel guilty every time I did anything for myself. After all, I’m a Mother. I’m supposed to do it all, and then some. Talk about running on empty—I had two babies, was chronically sleep deprived, and my husband traveled constantly for business. Nothing says “pay attention to me” like a crisis, and I had a few of them before I realized I couldn’t indefinitely ignore my own needs and still care for my family.

I’ve been thinking about this concept of “filling up” in terms of the Sabbath, too. This past Sunday my husband and I attempted to carve out more time for rest. We talked about what fills our tanks—both individually and as a family. I’m sure we won’t do it perfectly, but we’re making a deliberate attempt to set Sunday apart from the rest of the week and find creative ways to refuel and connect.

How about you? What fills you up?

Monday, March 19, 2007


I spent this past weekend in Bloomington at Hearts at Home, a professional conference for Moms. I’m refreshed, energized, and full of new ideas. My boys appropriately call this conference, “Mommy School,” and worry that I’ll come home a little bit mean and change all the rules on them. (“As of today, no more Sponge Bob!” kind of rules.) I have more than a few thoughts and ideas I’ll share in the weeks to come, but the following are my reflections in the middle of it all, scribbled on bits of paper at a coffee shop:

Intoxicating. The smell of roasted coffee permeates my being, and I feel my weariness lift even before the first drink. And to think I almost missed it.

Ten minutes ago, I was wandering through the student center, eager to get to the next workshop. If I could just grab a quick cup of coffee on my way, I think, maybe I’ll be able to focus. I walk by Pizza Hut. Burger King. And then, in a sea of a thousand Moms, I see a college student. Impulsively, I ask, “Where can I get a good cup of coffee?” Without missing a beat, she responds, “Downstairs in the back corner. Go to The Cage.”

The smooth latte fills me up, and I decide to just sit. In the four years I’ve been coming to this conference, it’s my first time at The Cage. And I could have missed it so easily. I could be sitting in another workshop, drinking Burger King coffee from a styrofoam cup. How many times in my life have I settled for Burger King coffee because I was too insecure to ask for guidance? How much of life—real life—do I miss because I’m in a hurry, scurrying on to the next thing I’m supposed to do? In my fear of missing something, I miss everything.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

long day

I was thinking about this blog the other day, and how it is both more and less of who I really am. I have enough real friends and family reading to keep it real, and yet the temptation is to control and manipulate how people view me. I want you to see me as a Good Mother. A Caring Friend. A Good Christian. And yet the truth is, some days I’m a bad mother, a crummy friend, and a lousy Christian. Like today.

I woke up too early for no good reason. Eager to get to my coffee and Bible, I made my way down the stairs. (See? I had to throw in that bit about the Bible, make myself sound all spiritual.) Anyway, I had a nice quiet time, sent a couple of emails, read my favorite blogs, and started on the newspaper. I even folded a load of laundry and unloaded the dishwasher, all before 7:45. So far, things are looking good, right?

I can’t say that the kids were terrible today, but, well, maybe I can. They were terrible today. It’s like everything they’ve learned about manners and being kind and picking up after themselves all evaporated in their sleep, and they woke up as wild animals. After reminding them four times to do their chores (which consist of getting dressed, making their beds, and putting their dirty dishes in the sink), I happily packed everyone up and went to the YMCA to work out. (And, incidentally, borrowed my husband’s shuffle. Interesting music choices. Spice Girls meets Beethoven meets Urbana Worship meets Bruce Cockburn. I’ve gotta find my ipod.)

I hate to think what the afternoon might have been like if I hadn’t gotten them out of the house for some exercise. Two words: wild monkeys. That along with a teething infant and a tired, dieting mother, is a recipe for disaster. At five o’clock I forfeited my only chance for adult conversation when my husband called from wherever he is this week, but I couldn’t talk because I was too busy making dinner and refereeing the noisy boys, who at that point were hitting each other as hard as they could. (Or, as Twin A helpfully clarified, they weren’t hitting each other, they were trying to chop each other’s arms off.) Nice.

By bedtime, I was yelling at everybody. Not good. But I had seriously had enough. I started thinking about what my life would be like without kids, and you know, it wouldn’t be half bad. Just think of all of the disposable income we’d have. Holy cow! We’d practically be rich without all of these kids to take care of! My stomach wouldn’t be an unattractive mix of craters and scars, and I could spend my days with grown ups, talking about interesting things. I would never say the word, “poop” out loud.

Usually I follow up these raw, honest statements with something like, “Oh, but to look at their sweet faces, I can’t imagine life without them.” But tonight I can imagine life without them. Tomorrow, no doubt, I’ll like everyone again. Tonight I just want a rum and coke and a hot bath. But I’ll settle for a cup of herbal tea and a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy and—hopefully—a good night’s sleep. And that, my friends, is the unedited truth.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On the move...

Baby b. is officially on the move! He’s been rolling around for awhile now, but in the last few days he’s actually gotten up on his hands and knees and started…gulp…crawling. I have to confess that I’ve been dreading this moment. Even the most childproofed house poses genuine opportunity for danger and large messes for the crawling infant. I’ll never forget when the twins started crawling, and I came out of the bathroom to find both of them tangled up in a large roll of “ruffies” garbage bags that we used to line their diaper pail. Even funnier was the fact that they were in a gated off room with nothing except baby toys and a changing table (which is where they found all of those fun bags). And who could forget my frantic phone call to the Huggies hotline to sheepishly ask, “Are these wipes really non-toxic? Even if the baby sucks all of the liquid out of…um…two hundred of them?”

Baby b. seems to be following in his brothers’ footsteps in his nonchalance toward baby toys. As soon as I put him on the floor, he moves as far as he can from his extensive collection of Baby Einstein and Lamaze educational toys and grabs the real goods: newspapers, dirty shoes, and empty boxes. Last night he excitedly crawled over to his basket of diapers that sits on the floor—my husband had just refilled it, but left the open pack of diapers in its plastic packaging. There was a small corner of dangling plastic, and baby b. was delighted at the crinkly sound it made when he grabbed it. We probably have at least two hundred dollars worth of developmentally stimulating toys within arms reach, and what does he want to play with? The one choking hazard in the room.

He’s cute as a button, though, and the noisy boys are being especially diligent in putting their toys up where they belong. (Well, maybe diligent is the wrong word. Let’s just say they’d rather clean up all of their toys than give up watching television.)

Oh, and in case you were wondering: the wipes really are non-toxic. You can suck on as many as you want without actually dying. You might have an upset stomach, but you won’t die. And those little pellets that you put in the water to grow little sponge dinosaurs and elephants? If you eat those, the sponge will usually pass right through your system. You have to watch for it, though, just in case it doesn’t. Yeah. We’ve been there. Don’t even ask.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I woke up this morning to the sun on my face. Always grateful for a sound night of sleep and a quiet early-morning, I snuck downstairs, turned on the coffee pot, and settled in with my Bible. I got through half a pot of coffee and the first five chapters of Acts before little people joined me at the table, looking for morning cuddles. And then the race began: cuddles, breakfast, the dishwasher, more dishes, diapers, bottles, diaper bag packing, and reminders to make beds and get dressed—it’s almost time for church.

The first time I heard anybody talk about carving out a day to rest was over ten years ago in BSF. We were studying Genesis and the teaching leader presented the idea of Sabbath observance—a completely novel concept to me at the time. Mostly, at that point in my life, my “observance” translated to taking a nap on Sunday afternoon without feeling guilty.

Today, though, I long for a Sabbath—a true day of rest. I’ve been re-reading Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Sacred Rhythms, and this desire has been stirred up like sand in a river. Sabbath observance intrigues me, but it also scares me; it feels complicated and gritty. The prospect of making room for a Sabbath rest, adding the work of this day to another, bogs me down with dread. But I can’t let it go, this desire.

In her book, Sacred Rhythms, Barton writes:

“There is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of our existence as human beings—physical bodies in a world of time and space. A peace descends upon our lives when we accept what is real rather than always pushing beyond our limits. Something about being gracious and accepting and gentle with ourselves at least once a week enables us to be more gracious and accepting and gentle with others. There is a freedom that comes from being who we are in God and resting in God that eventually enables us to bring something truer to the world than all of our doing. Sabbath keeping helps us live within our limits, because on the Sabbath, in many different ways, we allow ourselves to be the creature in the presence of our Creator. We touch something more real in ourselves and others than what any of us is able to produce. We touch our very being in God.”

This resonates with me and stirs a desire in my soul to be still; to rest; to trust God.

In between lunch and kitchen clean-up and a trip to the grocery store, was time to connect as a family. Winter has finally let us out of her frigid prison, and we raced outside after lunch for a walk / bike ride. We walked a long while, taking a different path than our usual, and chatted about the weather and our gratefulness for this day and our hopes for the future. Just being together, reconnecting after a busy week, is refreshing. What would it look like to spend the day reconnecting with one another? Resting? Connecting with God? How would it impact each of us individually and as a family? What would it look like for us to take a Sabbath rest each week? I’m intrigued by the possibility.

How about you? Do you observe the sabbath? What does this look like in your life?

Friday, March 9, 2007

so stupid

Me, that is. Yesterday afternoon while baby b. snoozed, the noisy boys and I experimented in the kitchen. I’ve been working on a few recipes for the Pillsbury bake-off. Don’t laugh at me—I love entering cooking contests, even though I never win anything. While waiting for my third batch of top-secret caramel apple buns to finish baking, I checked my email (my computer is in the kitchen). I read in a note from my Mom that she’d been in the hospital—again. Minutes later, my dear husband, lured by the scent of apples and cinnamon baking, came out of his work-at-home cave. Still preoccupied with my Mom’s health situation, I took a fresh batch of buns out of the oven while chatting with my husband about the bake-off and the sunny weather and our noisy boys, who were playing outside (hallelujah). And then I did something really stupid. Looking at the buns, I said, “Hmmm. Maybe I should have drizzled the caramel on after the buns were baked. What do you think?” as I reached my finger over and touched the scalding hot caramel.

“That’s really hot,” my husband helpfully commented as I ran to the sink for cold water on my already-blistering finger.

Why, why do I do things like this? I know better. As I nursed my wound, beating myself up for being an idiot, I got to thinking: I do the same thing with God. I’m easily distracted by difficulties and blessings. And, like Little Boy Blue over on Charity’s blog, I make stupid mistakes (and choices) without even thinking. If only the consequences were all as easy to deal with as a burned finger!

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Last night, I made this Roasted Vegetable Fettucine, and it was such a hit, and so simple to prepare, I thought I'd pass on the recipe. Thankfully, my kids are great vegetable eaters, but I know this is a real battle for many parents. This recipe is the perfect “veggie hider.” I’m a big fan of roasting vegetables, and though I followed the recipe closely last night, next time I make it I think I’ll try throwing in some different veggies.

Here’s the recipe, taken from Weight Watchers Cook it Quick:

Fettuccini with Roasted Vegetable Sauce
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch slices
½ tomato, seeded and chopped
½ onion, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ C water
2 T vegetable broth
2 T Neufchatel cheese
6 ounces fettuccine (I used more noodles and still had plenty of sauce—the only person eating a 2-ounce serving in my family is me!)
grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the bell pepper, tomato, onion, oil, salt, pepper, and water in a roasting pan. Roast the vegetables, tossing occasionally, until tender. (15-20 minutes) Transfer to a food processor or blender, add the broth and Neufchatel, and puree.
2. Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine according to package directions. Drain and put in a swerving bowl. Top with the sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the parmesan and serve.

Serves 4.
Per serving: 214 cal, 4 g Fat, 1 g Sat Fat, 3 mg Chol, 123 Mg Sod, 36 g Carb, 2 g Fib, 8 g Prot, 44 mg Calc. (4 points)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

quote of the week

"Take the dinosaur out of your underwear and put your pajamas on."

-- Llama Papa

Monday, March 5, 2007

Cool Moms

I’ve been writing a lot lately about my children, and from reading my own blog, I sound like a stellar parent. I get comments to this effect. Why, just yesterday Jen commented that I sound like such a “cool mom.” This makes me feel good about myself, but let’s be honest: motherhood is a tough job, and the minute I start to feel smug about the job I’m doing, my children put me back in my place. Was it last week or two weeks ago that we were sick? I can’t remember, but somewhere in the middle of the cooped up chaos, my children built a pretend condo. (Couch-cushion forts right next door to each other, or, as they say, “each others.”) Having gotten somewhere between three and four hours of sleep the night before, I was just grateful nobody was asking anything of me. Never mind that I’d snapped at both of them over breakfast. (“No, you cannot have two eggs over-easy today. You can have a bowl of cereal.”) Anyway, they were happily pretending in their condo, and I heard this snippet of conversation:

Twin A: Let’s pretend our Mom dies.
Twin B: Yeah! Let’s pretend she’s living in heaven instead of this house!
Twin A: And we never have to clean up our forts because our Mom is dead!
Twin B: Yeah. And we never have to make our beds or get dressed either!

The conversation went on, but you get the idea. In their five-year old minds, having me gone would fix so many of their problems. Maybe you had to actually hear the conversation, but they sounded so cheerful about the prospect of me being out of the picture. Not exactly “cool mom” status, ay?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Noisy boys

I love having a house full of boys. Yesterday was a school holiday, so we invited two of the boys' preschool friends over to play for the afternoon. They were loud, messy, and full of scatological humor. But you know what? I love it. They played the Captain Bones pirate game, built a couch-cushion fort, made weapons out of tinker toys and engaged in an all-out war in our living room, made play-dough Sponge Bob characters (I pulled out the play dough at some point in the middle of the war), held hot wheels car races, and glued and colored and cut construction paper to make various craft projects. (My favorite being a shampoo bottle with soap dripping off the sides -- all made out of construction paper and glitter glue!)

Was it messy? Yup. A lot of work for me? Absolutely. Noisy? You can't even imagine. And yet we'll do it again soon. I love having the boys' friends here. I love providing a home for them where their friends are welcome to come over and be themselves. And at five, that means noise and a mess. I did make them clean up after every activity, which was not very popular. After about an hour of play, I reminded them yet again: "You need to clean up all the tinker toys before we can do playdough!" To which one of the boys moaned and said, "Oh! Not again!" Of course, this same boy gave me a big hug when he left and thanked me for letting him come and play. I must not have been THAT mean.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Strange discovery

I was recently at the grocery store when I made a strange and startling discovery: baby food desserts. I am not making this up. I made most of the noisy boys' baby food--really much easier than it sounds--so I didn't go down the baby food aisle much. I'm making Baby b.'s food too, but since we're on the go much more than I was with the twins, I rely on the little jars on busy away-from-home days. Anyway, I was scanning the shelves for the familiar pears, bananas, and sweet potatoes when I saw, "peach cobbler," and "hawaiian delight," and "vanilla custard dessert." What is this about? Why would anyone buy dessert for an infant? Is this a new phenomenon or has this been around for awhile? With childhood obesity at an all-time high, I do not understand why baby food manufacturers would even begin to think this is a good idea. And, I suppose if it's there, parents are buying it. Baffling.