She plays cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Teddy Altman on Grey's Anatomy, but even off-screen Kim focuses on matters of the heart: her filmmaker-husband, Manuel Boyer, and sons, Luke, 8, and Leo, 3.

By Patty A. Martinez

Is it hard to keep two young and energetic boys entertained?

Actually I think it's necessary to let kids get bored once in a while—that's how they learn to be creative. Luke and Leo use their imaginations to make rocket ships or trains out of recycled materials like cardboard boxes.

On that note, you're known for being eco-conscious. How else do you teach your kids about the environment?

Manuel and I talk about how each family is part of a bigger community and stress the importance of considering future generations. Even though it seems like a hard concept for kids, I think they can get it. Luke already chooses cloth towels instead of paper towels to clean up spills, for example. It's the little things that add up.

Does he ever remind you to conserve?

Oh sure. He'll tell me to turn off the water while we're brushing our teeth. Ever since I helped a village in Africa get sustainable running water a few years ago, Luke has understood it's a precious commodity.

What's one rule you never break as a parent?

We always have dinner together as a family—even when our schedules are totally hectic. I inherited that from my mom, who would come home from her ad agency job to eat with us before going back to work. She was single, doing it all by herself, but she was always there for my sister and me. My mother is definitely my hero.

Tell us about one of your proudest days as a mom.

I once gave a speech about the importance of giving back, and Luke, who was only 4 at the time, went in his room and brought out five of his favorite toys. "Let's give these to the kids in Africa," he said. I love that we've shown our boys the significance of taking care of other people.

Fast FactsCareer kid: In addition to her roles on Grey's Anatomy, 24, Third Watch and Lipstick Jungle, Kim was on Sesame Street from ages 6 to 9.

Go-to dinner: "For a quick, healthy meal that's also fun for kids, I serve fish tacos: soft tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes, black beans and brown rice."

Girl time: "When I need a break from the boys, I go with my girlfriend to buy pretty little dresses for her daughter."

Oops moment: "Luke was Googling an animal and something inappropriate came up! I realized I have to monitor his computer use—not because I don't trust him, but because I don't trust other things out there."

C'est fantastique: In addition to English, Luke and Leo are also learning French (Manuel's native language).

Sew what?: "I can't be a stay-at-home mom right now, but making the boys' Halloween costumes by hand helps me feel like one!"

Trademark chuckle: "My laugh is so embarrassing! When I was a kid I'd get caught after curfew because everyone could hear my crazy giggle."

Originally published in the October 17, 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.