Me time

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Exhilarated. Frightened. Exhausted. Cautious. Happy. Scared. Peaceful.

This is the roller coaster of emotions that I have been experiencing lately. Now that Victor is 1 and I have semi-weaned him (there's only but a few drops left in there, but it works in a pinch when he's cranky or when I just don't want to go downstairs yet at 5am). I feel like I can start to take back some time just for me.

First, I started to run on a regular basis. Then, since I didn't have to take in those extra 500 (which quickly became 700+) calories a day to nurse those last few pesky baby pound began to shed and I started to look like my old self again. My Kindle re-ignited my love of reading. My husband and I went on a few dates. I went out with some girlfriends and planned my first business trip without kids in over 3 years.

Then, I decided to start my own business. I'm not leaving my day job or anything, just a side hustle. Take my creativity, dedication, salesmanship (ok, ok this is a blog, not a cover letter) and apply it to something that benefits me and my family moreso than a major corporation.

Once I made this decision, I went through my standard wave of emotions. Excitement followed by fear, then rejection. As always, my husband has been there to back me up and remind me that this IS something that I've been wanting to do for a long time, and that I can do anything that I set my mind to.

So...once I get over myself I jump in. Here's my dilemma - for the past 3 years, I've put my children and my family above anything else, particularly myself. I go to work, rush home to feed, play and bathe them then prepare for school the next day. All of that is still there, but without the haze of extreme sleep deprivation (just regular sleep deprivation) I actually have time to think about (and act upon) my own ambitions.

Here's the kicker - I don't feel guilty about it. That's what scares me. I'm beginning to believe that it is OK for me to have a life and passions and ambitions in addition to and outside of my husband and children. I haven't done anything just for me in a really long time. Yes, this business will hopefully benefit my family - but it's about me. Fulfilling a dream of mine. Not my kids'. Not my husband's. Mine.

It's exhilarating. It's exciting. It's exhausting...and I'm ready.

Bad habits

My name is Sherice, and I'm a perfectionist. A recovering perfectionist actually....well, at least I was...until this morning. After this morning, technically I relapsed. OK, if there were such a thing as perfectionist rehab I would be the poster child.

I like things to be in order. I don't like a messy desk, messy house, messy closet. I've come to grips with having messy kids (I'm a perfectionist, not delusional!), but I do like to keep as close to a schedule as possible. Having kids was really LIKE rehab for me. I learned (very quickly) that while I did have control over some things as related to my children, there were MANY things for which I had to learn to go with the flow.

This morning I discovered that apparently I'd forgotten 3 years of lessons. I think it all started when Victor began to sleep through the night. I began to embrace the illusion of a normal schedule again. I started to go to bed later than 8:30pm. First, I would make it until 9. Once I got comfortable with that, I would watch something on the DVR or read until 10. Then I discovered Jay Leno (it's like being a grown up again, except I can still go to bed before midnight!) and started to stay up until 11. All the while, Victor might not be waking up every 2 hours, but he was still ready to roll between 4:30 and 5am. But I didn't care - I saw a semblance of my "old life" and grabbed it with both hands! After a few weeks, I noticed that I needed even more concealer and caffeine than usual, and was cranky even beyond the levels induced by my lose-the-last-10-baby-pounds-left-over-from-the-first-pregnancy-4-years-ago diet. I was still only getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep - it just felt like more because it wasn't interrupted every 1.5 hours like it had been for the first 10 months of Victor's life (and the first 18 months of Angel's, but I digress).

Fast forward to this morning. We decided to head out to a children's museum at the far end of Long Island - a little over an hour away. With the sub-zero winter temperatures, we were looking for any excuse to get the kids out of the house and into new surroundings so that we all didn't rip each others throats out from cabin-fever-induced-mania. I had it all planned out. I would let my husband sleep in (because he's been looking even worse than me these days - and that's saying A LOT), bring the baby down at 5 when he woke up. I would give him a bottle and some breakfast, work out while he played along on HIS Wii controller. Then, around 6:30 we would go upstairs when the almost-3-year-old decided to wake up. I would dress the children, shower and dress myself, then make our lunch while Angel ate his first (and Victor his second) breakfast. My husband would then wake up, thank me for allowing him the blessed few hours of extra sleep, grab his coffee and we'd be out the door by 8:30 - in time to arrive as soon as the museum doors opened at 10, so that we were on time for 11:45 lunch and back in the car for a 1pm nap. Don't life really DID work like clockwork before I had kids, and now that they were getting a tiny bit older, I thought that it might be coming back. Yeah...I know, just stick with me here.

Things began to unravel when Victor woke up a little later than usual. On any other morning, a 5:45am wake up call would have been a blessing. But not today - I had a schedule to keep! My good mood remained intact initially (probably because of that much needed extra 45 minutes of sleep for BOTH of us). We came downstairs, Victor took his bottle and munched on some Cheerios while I set up the Wii. He grabbed his controller and happily chatted away into the first 4 minutes of my workout. By then, it was about 6:10 and the almost-3-year-old woke up a little earlier than usual. No worries, I thought. We'll just get the kids dressed and I'll work out while they entertain each other at the breakfast table. EVEN BETTER!

So, I go upstairs to my happily chatty big boys room. I go to pick him up when I notice the issue - the sheets are soaked. Rather than get up to make "morning pee", Angel decided that his pull up was just as good as the potty. (The reversion to night time "accidents" has been yet another unpleasant side effect of his 2-hour-late-night-bedtime-delay tactics). That's when I slowly began to unravel. I explained that he KNEW better than to pee in his pull up ("You have to use your big boy potty for morning pee - you know that, baby"). I put him on the potty and nothing comes out (probably because he just peed all over his bed).

Then he starts to cry - not an embarrassed, I-can't-believe-I-peed-on-myself cry, but a spoiled-tantrum-almost-3-year-old-cry (for those of you who have not dealt with an almost-3-year-old, believe me there is a clear distinction, and the latter is just annoying...). Then, I lose it. Rather than calmly reasoning with or soothing my child, hear comes yelling mommy! ("Why are you crying? Nobody made you pee in your bed, YOU did that. Stop crying. YOU'RE GOING TO WAKE UP DADDY!!!).

After about 2 minutes, he stops and I think that I may have received a last second reprieve. I was going to just wipe him down (to get rid of the pee residue), when I realized that bath time is his favorite time of day - AND I could kill 2 birds with one stone (Victor fell dead asleep in his clothes the night before and was covered in baby boogers, so he needed a bath as well). So, I turned on the bath water and Angel starts WAILING. In hindsight, I realize that Angel may have taken this as a sign that I was going to make him go BACK to bed (since bath time is ALWAYS before we put him to bed at night). THAT woke up Daddy, who then comes into the bathroom to ask what's wrong. I then start to yell at HIM, "Go back to bed! You're supposed to be sleeping in." To which he replied, "Yeah, right..."

I could go on and on about the myriad of other things that happened over the course of the next 90 minutes to ruin my schedule, but really that's not the point. The point is that I forgot the rules. When it comes to kids, plan ahead to make the road easier but you MUST be flexible...because all hell can break loose at any moment! True, Victor is getting older and can play on his own for a stretch (without being on my hip 24-7). And Angel is getting to be such a big boy and a great helper (when he wants to be). But, at the end of the day they are STILL little kids. I've gotten glimmers of my pre-baby life back here and there (the ability to eat salad and peanut butter without causing baby hives or gas, more time on the treadmill, stilettos...). But the dream of having complete control of my schedule is just as much a fantasy as it always was. It was just much easier to believe BEFORE I had children.

So, hello - My name is Sherice, and I am a perfectionist. My children are my rehab therapists. And they're really great at their jobs!

God has a sense of humor

When our children are born - no, as soon as we find out that we're pregnant, we ask God to keep them safe. We ask that they be born healthy, happy and whole. Once He delivers on that promise, we get a bit more ambitious. We ask for smart children. Now, I can't be certain, but something tells me that God replies, "Really? OK - here you go"

Fast forward 3 years. These days, I find myself wishing that I had asked for a smart yet submissive child. A leader who still knows that Mommy is the boss. Maybe I should have been more specific.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE that our son is smart and funny and independent and strong willed. I just wish that he wasn't SO smart and strong willed ALL THE TIME. Case in point, our new bedtime routine. For going on close to a month now, Angel has gone from being a cooperative little camper at bedtime to fighting tooth and nail every night for up to 2 hours. He's not just screaming and crying - he learned quickly that we were immune to that tantrum. He adapts quickly, this one. No...he goes through a laundry list of "urgent" requests that we would normally respond to in the daytime hours. "Mommy, I need my milk." Daddy, I need to poo potty." "Mommy, I NEED you." "Daddy, I don't feel well." And, the latest addition this evening, "Daddy, I hurt myself." These key phrases are repeated OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER, most often alternating between a sing-songy lilt and screaming at the top of his lungs.

We learned pretty quickly that going into the room - either to follow up on one of these requests or to attempt to scold him into sleeping - was a lost cause. It just strengthened his resolve to cry out a little longer, a little louder...then maybe we would come back and change our minds about this whole "sleep" thing.

The only thing, other than sheer exhaustion around 10:30pm, that gets him to be quiet (at least temporarily) is when his little brother sits up in his crib (in the room across the hall) and screams the baby equivalent of, "Can you shut the hell up? I gotta go to work in the morning." Like I said, this kid is smart. He knows that Victor is more likely to follow up on a threat of violence than either me or my husband.

It's 8:07. It's been 30 minutes. I wonder when this phase will pass...

The sisterhood

I've come to notice a fascinating and consistent phenomenon over the past few weeks. Mothers, particularly those of multiple kids, tend to look out for each other. It's like we have an unspoken code that it is our duty to have each others' back - to remind ourselves that we're not alone.

Case in point - we were at the mall today getting pictures done for our kids' first and third birthdays (Victor was born a little over 3 weeks before Angel's second birthday. Initially, the thought of the proximity of Christmas and 2 kids' birthdays was daunting. Upon further consideration, I realized that it was a nod from God to my insatiable desire for efficiency...but more on that in a future post)

So, back to the mall. We had just finished taking pictures and headed over to the food court to avoid the I'm-hungry-it's-too-close-to-naptime tantrum. JUST missed the cut off with Angel, but Victor was waving and flirting with everyone within a 3 table radius. We had just settled the kids down with their lunch when a woman with a double stroller (toddler and infant) and a walking 4 or 5 year old pulls up to the table next to us. She had the typical suburban mother-alone-with-multiple-kids-look (designer bag, fashionable yet comfortable and slightly disheveled outfit, and a composed-yet-highly-alert-while-slightly-exhausted face). As she calmly searched through her bag for hand sanitizer, I handed her a single pack of Wet Ones from my diaper bag. Because we HAVE to show that we have it all under control, she quickly replied, "Oh, thanks but I have my Purell right here" with a warm but wary smile. Before the sentence was out of her mouth, her 4 or 5 year old began to lick the table (ok, it wasn't that extreme, but you get the picture). I then gently offered, "You can use this for the table and chairs." She accepted with a knowing smirk.

After about 15 minutes, we were complimenting each other on how well-behaved our children were (it was a good day...), the benefits of taking your kids out to eat/on a plane/into town rather than staying cooped up in the house all day ("They'll never learn how to adapt if you don't take them out!") and juggling life with more than one (I wholeheartedly believe that God keeps the two-kids-at-a-time meltdowns to a minimum to preserve what little is left of my sanity).

As I packed away our sippy cups, she showed me her daughter's double-handled juice box holder ("...this way, I don't have to keep 10 sippy cups on hand, AND the holder stops the kids from shooting juice out through the straw! You know Horizon makes 2% milk in a box too...")

This is the sisterhood of mothers. We begin the dance each time slowly, deliberately. Wanting to offer help, but tentatively as not to offend the other or suggest that she does not have it all well in hand. Once the initial overture is accepted, we comment on each others brood, make small talk about general mommy stuff. The conversations always end with a small bit of advice - nothing so obtrusive as suggestions on how to discipline your child or educational philosophy (the majority of moms know that these subjects are taboo, even bringing the closest of friends to fisticuffs...). Just a simple jewel of wisdom to help make the load a little lighter. Something we've found that makes our lives easier. It's our - our duty to pass these tips along to our sisters.

And with that said, I will close with a nugget of my own. Re-stock the diaper and snack bags after every trip (if you have more than one kid, I also recommend consolidating rather than packing dedicated bags for each). Keep the essentials in a no-spill snack cup (my personal favorite is called the Snack Trap. The tag line says it all "Because kids spill stuff"). Make sure to have back up in a quart-sized freezer bag (the sandwich bags are so thin that crackers and cookies seem to go stale within a matter of hours!). Refill your diapers and wipes, then replace any back up clothes that you used during the trip. This way, when you need to run out the door because you are invariably late AGAIN, all you have to do is grab and go.

Pass it on, sisters. Pass it on!

Three simple truths

Children are loud, messy and most often uncooperative. The sooner you come to accept this, the easier motherhood becomes.

An old friend...or two

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So, the Hubs and I have officially been out on more dates in the first 2 weeks of 2010 than we have in the past 2 years. Seriously. Slightly depressing when I initially did the math, but looking on the bright side I'm going to assume that this means we've broken through the 2-under-the-age-of-3 induced haze and are making a commitment to re-discover our secret identities of Angel and Sherice in addition to our day jobs as Daddy and Mommy.

We even went to BJs together without the kids today. We lingered....walking down each aisle JUST to make sure that there wasn't anything we missed from the list. Yeah, I know this isn't the stuff of romance novels, but I was really happy to just spend time with my husband again. It felt like "us". I never thought that it would be so very easy to lose "us" when we became "US"; when the family grew to more than just two.

I've even begun to see glimpses of the old me in the past few weeks. I cut my hair...never realized how much the long hair actually aged me. It was "mommy hair." I wore my hair short for years - felt it was more professional, stylish, sassy. When I got pregnant with Angel, I took the prenatal vitamin-induced longer hair as a blessing. When Victor came along 2 years later, I cut it into a snazzy little asymmetrical bob, but still kept it at a respectable almost-shoulder length. Two weeks ago, cut it all. I love it! I look in the mirror and feel like the me before kids. True, I need to wear concealer just to make sure that no one accuses my husband of breaking my nose on a daily basis (on account of the massively black and blue circles that have taken residence under my big browns), but I'm beginning to see a face that I remember. Felt like an old friend that I hadn't seen in a very long time.

I have even worn heels 3 days this week. ON VACATION. And not just on our last date. I wore my BadAss new platform boots at Victor's birthday party because they make me feel good. They're party shoes, and my baby had a great first birthday party! I even busted out my 4 inch wedges for church and the aforementioned BJs run. I'm not wearing them to impress anyone - just because they make me feel good. I stand straighter, feel bolder. Feel like me.

Look out, world. The BadAssMama is catching her groove again. Who knows what's coming next!

Falling off the wagon

Well, I did stop nursing - for 36 hours. Today I was sitting on the couch with Victor and made the mistake of holding him when I was completely engorged. He smelled the milk and assumed the position, I was in pain so I conceded.

Lesson learned....when the girls are full, stay away from the baby. Well, I go back to work next week so hopefully we can make a clean break by Friday.

Wish me luck!


Today was Victor's first birthday. For the first time since we've had kids, I actually enjoyed myself at the party! I did not obsess endlessly over appetizer placement, food supply or the volume and speed of children racing about my house. I was in the moment and really had a great time with all of our friends and family.

Today was a good day!

Nursing...the end of the road

My baby will turn 1 tomorrow. This has to have been the shortest year in recorded history.

My goal was to nurse for a full year, and I've made it to the end of the road. It's interesting - with Angel, I had to stop abruptly and unexpectedly for an emergency surgery when he was 10 months old. I mourned. I felt that the bond of nursing was taken away from us unfairly. With Victor, it's completely different. I've made it the full 12 months, and I am TIRED of nursing. Seriously....tired. I want to eat peanut butter! I want to drink hard liquor! I want to bleach my teeth (after being pregnant or nursing for the past 4 years I am in DESPERATE need of some Crest Whitestrips!)

So tonight, I nursed for the last time. Angel was an easy transition - as long as there was milk, he didn't care where it came from. Mr. Victor is a bit more of a diva (I would say divo, but that just makes me think about the 80's band with the weird hats). If mommy's around, he wants the milk from me. The nighttime transition should go relatively smoothly. We've been getting him to sleep by rubbing his back most nights (yes, I KNOW that I should have trained him to fall asleep without nursing from the beginning...) He never really naps at home anyway, so that should be fine.

The big drama will be saved for 4am. That's when Mr. Victor has become accustomed to coming into Mommy and Daddy's bed to nurse and snuggle. It all started innocently enough. He had been sleeping almost through the night when he got H1N1 back in November. When he cried out in the night, I was so worried that it was the return of the 104 fever or worse that I would rush to bring him to our bed and nurse him back to sleep. Then the pattern lingered...In my mind it was OK. If I nursed him, he wouldn't cry and wake up little Angel. He would snuggle in our bed until 7 and we all got more sleep.

Then everything changed. By December, Victor realized that he DIDN'T have to go back to sleep when he came to Mommy and Daddy's bed. He could nurse, and then PLAY! So, for the past month I have been awake for the day beginning around 3:30 or 4am. I know that I should have let him cry it out as soon as he recovered from the flu, but I'm a wimp. I wanted to put off the pain of a kid screaming at the top of his lungs at 4am for as long as possible. Who knows...maybe he'll decide to just stay asleep on his own (hey, it could happen!).

No such luck. Every night since the first week of November, Victor is up like clockwork between 3:30 and 4am screaming until we bring him to our bed. Tonight, I will bite the bullet. He will enter his 2nd year of life learning what we all come to learn eventually....all good things must come to an end.

So, pray for the BadAssMama folks. It's going to be a looong night...check that, a long week.


I'm obsessed with the Twighlight saga. True, I discovered this yummy series a tad bit later than most but I am more than making up for lost time. I've read 2 of the 4 books in the past week (gotta love the Kindle!).

As I swoon over the smoldering Edward and his dramatic love affair with the bumbling yet endearing Bella, I've discovered that my life is filled with vampires as well. Not the blood-sucking horror movie type, but energy vampires. Drama vampires.

Reserving names to protect the innocent (and the guilty), I've discovered in the past few weeks (or few hours...) that drama leeches the life out of me. I don't mean life-threatening, seriously important drama. Life happens, and sometimes it IS dramatic. I mean the self-absorbed, ever-complaining, somethings-always-wrong, whoa-is-me attitude that some exude on a daily (or minute-by-minute...but who's counting) basis.

As I look back over my posts from the past year, I realize that I'm a bit of a drama queen myself. Those of you who know me well are likely laughing at this oh-so-obvious "revelation". While I am truly blessed in every way, I do from time-to-time succumb to somewhat of a whiny tone and allow the tiny negatives of my life to outweigh the positives.

Well, let me tell you - after listening to yet another drama filled rant from an energy vampire in my life I've decided to TRULY turn a new leaf. I will not allow vampires to suck the life from me, and I refuse to turn into one myself...even if the dreamy Edward himself decides that he'd prefer a mid-thirties cocoa mama to his current pale teenage flame : )

(Wo)man in the mirror

The mother is the child's first teacher. We've all heard this a million times. Unfortunately, for as many times as I've heard it I still haven't seemed to learn myself. That is, until now. Over the course of my vacation, I've seen some behavior in my oldest son that I really don't like. He screams when he doesn't get his way. He's impatient. He has a fit if you don't stop what you're doing to do what he wants to do RIGHT NOW. At first I didn't understand it...then it hit me. He's acting like me.

True, I don't throw myself on the floor when I don't get what I want, but I do raise my voice. When he's not moving fast enough in the morning I yell, "We don't have time for this, we're running late." When he doesn't listen to instructions, I yell. When I'm arguing with my husband (kids in the house or not), I yell. Yup, my almost-3-year-old is a perfect little mirror...highlighting all the parts of myself that I like the least.

As my vacation comes to an end and I prepare to return to "the real world", I hope to remember this lesson. I am my child's first teacher, and he's an excellent pupil. Now, I hope to un-teach some of my bad habits and be a more positive teacher from this day forward.


Perfection is the enemy of the good. I can't remember where I first heard this quote, but WOW does it ever apply to life as a mom. I've been on vacation for the past 2 weeks (with 10 days at home with the kids). The first week was pretty rough. At first, I thought that it was because I had hyper-inflated expectations of all the wonderful motherly-things I would do with my kids while they were off from "school". Then I realized that it's not so much about expectations, but execution. To be a good mom, you have to learn what is "good enough".

I'm sure that many a book and parenting article have been written on this subject, but it finally hit home for me. Being a good mom isn't about doing everything "right", it's about being there. Now, I don't want all the working moms out there to come screaming at me (I'm one of you, remember?). I don't mean being there all the time, or even for big chunks of time. I mean when you're with your kids really BE there...not thinking about the laundry, or email or the billions of other things on your to do list. Just be there and do whatever crazy thing it is that your kids want to do at that moment...and try to enjoy it as much as they do.

Perfect example - last week, my husband and I decided to break the sub-zero temperature induced cabin fever by taking the kids up the block to the movies. The entire ride there, Angel kept screaming at the top of his lungs, "I want to go Angel's house! I want to go Angel's house!!!" At the time, I assumed that it was just another in a string of almost-3-year-old temper tantrums that would pass once he saw how fun the movie was (we'd been talking about it for days and he seemed really excited). Yeah...not so much. We saw maybe 45 minutes of this thing before the demands to go home began again.

A week later, it hit me. His idea of a good time with mom and dad WAS to stay at home. During the week, we are constantly on the run...drop at daycare, go to work, pick up, rush through dinner, bath, bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once he realized that we were going to all be together for a good chunk of time, his idea of fun was to just be at home as a family. Play with the toys that he rarely gets to spend more than 10 minutes with. Watch a movie on the couch. Play videogames. Read books. Hang out.

What a smart kid...maybe I should pay attention to what he has to say a bit more!


So, my almost-3-year-old has taken to laughing/talking/singing/humming at the top of his lungs for anywhere from 1-2 hours at bedtime. This is day 10. I've tried sweet talk. I've tried yelling. I've tried spanking. I've tried ignoring. Nothing seems to work. Again...this is day 10. Up until Christmas Eve he was almost PERFECT with the bedtime routine. Sure, he would rebel for 10 minutes or so every now and again, but this is getting out of hand!

I would lapse into my usual refrain of "I'm a failed parent", but even I'm getting tired of THAT tune...

Maybe tomorrow will be different.

Happy parents

This year, I will dance with my husband more. We went to a wedding tonight - old college friend of my husband's. And we danced...a lot. We remembered that we used to enjoy dancing...a lot. Then we were sad when we realized that we could not remember the last time we went dancing, and came to the further realization that it may have been (gulp) before we had kids.

So, I will dance with my husband more.

Motherhood and apple pie

It's funny how life lessons creep up on you. Today's came from my third attempt at baking an apple pie.

I'm more of a cake and cookie chef. My pound cake (truth be told, it's my grandmother's recipe written on a greasy grocery store receipt) is to DIE for. My banana pudding is the stuff of legend. I'm even toying with the idea of a layer cake one of these days. So, when we went apple picking back in October I logged on to my favorite web site, found an easy-enough pie recipe and gave it a go.

The first pie was pretty good. It didn't look that great - my crust was lopsided and apples started to poke through in the midst of the baking process - but the end result was awesome! Angel and I actually tore down that whole thing in less than two days (sadly enough!).

The next attempt was at Thanksgiving. It was rushed - consisting of my peeling apples while pushing a half sleeping baby in a jogging stroller in the middle of the kitchen (which was, I must say, the most action that jogging stroller has seen in years...). The end result was nasty...dry, too much nutmeg, crumbly in a bad way.

Today I was rushed, as usual. I didn't forget any ingredients (at least I don't think that I did), but my crust just would not hold together. It kept ripping as I rolled it out and the top crust was too small to completely cover the pie. The crust was too starchy and just not buttery enough. Really just not worth the calories (which is a good thing, given that it's January 1).

As I was cleaning up after dinner, I realized that baking a good pie takes patience. You have to carefully choose the right apples, mix the dough slowly for the proper consistency, monitor the baking process to ensure that your crust is golden brown but not dried out. It takes patience and close monitoring. Basically, you have to be attentive to every step of the process.

Baking a cake is all in the foundation. Throw the right ingredients in a bowl, mix, throw it in a pan and walk away... 90 minutes later you have magic.

Then it dawned on me - raising children is like baking a pie. Every step matters. You can't just lay the right foundation and walk away. You have to pay attention to the details. It's just as important how you got your kids to clean up their toys as that the house was clean at the end of the day. The good news is that, unlike my nasty pie, I can start over tomorrow and try to get it right with my kids without throwing them out and starting over.

I'll get the hang of this pie thing sooner or later...motherhood too.