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You're a terrific cook (and you've recently published a new collection of recipes, Double Delicious). Does Jerry help out in the kitchen?
Nah, he's not even a grill guy. But he distracts and entertains the kids while I'm cooking. He chases them around or plays catch—sometimes indoors, which makes me a little nervous! But it keeps them from constantly asking, "When's dinner?" So that makes him quite helpful.
What's your best cooking tip for busy moms?
Most people don't have hours to stand over the stove or chop a bunch of ingredients, so planning ahead is key. I might prepare a baked ziti while the kids are in school, or maybe I'll make it the night before. Instead of being stuck in the kitchen when they get home, I can pop dinner in the oven and spend that time with my kids.
Who lays down the law: you or Jerry?
I do. But for some reason if I say, "I'm telling Daddy what you did," or "Daddy won't be happy about this when he comes home," the kids are terrified. It's funny because he's the least frightening person on the planet.
Does that mean he's a wacky dad?
He always makes up silly games for the kids to play, but he's also a very present and attentive father. And I love that he's so old-fashioned. We both grew up calling our friends' parents Mr. and Mrs. Such-and-Such, so we're always a little startled when a 7-year-old calls us by our first names!
You and Jerry have been married for 12 years. What is one of the first things you noticed about him?
Well, I was immediately attracted to his mind, but I remain in awe of his humor, work ethic, and moral code. He is so good to the people around him—one of the most loyal friends you could ever meet.
Best advice from her mom: "She taught me not to solve all my children's problems. It's crucial to give them a chance to figure things out on their own."
Disciplinary secret: "I've found screaming to be ineffective when a kid does something wrong. Instead we try to speak quietly or take him into a separate room to avoid embarrassing him in front of his siblings."
Checks & balances: "I feel proud when one of my kids says to another, 'You have to come back to the table and clear your plate.' They know the rules and won't let one another break them."
Charity case: Jessica founded the New York-based organization Baby Buggy, which donates clothes and baby products to families that are struggling.
My motto: "Do more than is required—in every aspect of life."
Originally published in the December 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.