14 January 2014

Learning How to Better Enjoy My Apple Pie

M is back to working 12-hour shifts at the prison, which means the kids and my afternoon schedule has been completely thrown for a loop. Now, instead of him being home before they wake up from naps, its almost bedtime before he walks through the door. Instead of him trying to entertain the kids while I hustle around the kitchen, preparing dinner, they are hanging out at my feet, or watching another cartoon that they really don't need. Instead of sitting down to eat that meal all together, we're finishing up and cleaning the kitchen by the time he just walks through the door.

So I've had to rethink how the flow of things needs to go -- to ensure that I'm not too stressed out, and that the kids are having fun and are engaged without plunking down in front of the tv for the entire rest of the evening.

When the kids put in their request for an apple pie over the weekend, at first, I wanted to roll my eyes. For starters -- these kids are 2 and 4. How are they already overthrowing my menu plans, I thought that was something teenagers did?! But beyond that, it would mean I had to find the time to squeeze it into our schedule without the kids clawing at me, climbing me like a tree, or screaming for something every two seconds. Because lets face it -- if Mom is in the kitchen, that's the reality around here. Someone always needs something, and Mom is the only solution. Or so they think, at this age.

And then it dawned on me -- let them make the pie. Since I was completely out of pie crust, and its too much work for a weekday afternoon to make my own, I had another recipe in mind that would fulfill their want for apple pie, and cut down on the busy work. And it is something that, even at their young ages, they could completely do themselves.

So Monday afternoon, we set to it. I sat both kids down with a cutting board and butter knives, and reached deep down to find that extra heavy dose of patience that I don't always have. I peeled and cored the apples, and gave the kids big pieces to slice, placing the pie plate in front of them. L was excited -- but kept asking for Mommy's help. Which I gladly obliged. S was fiercely independent, but frustrated at the same time. She didn't want Mommy to even hold her hands and gently help, but was getting mad that she couldn't get the pieces to cut very well. After guiding her on how to hold the knife a little better, and how to hold the apple, she got it down.

And before I knew it, we had 4 apples sliced and in the pie plate. The kids took turns with the measuring spoons, sprinkling cinnamon and sugar over the apples. Then we turned out attention to the pie topper. You see -- without pie crust, we were making our "upside down" apple pie recipe, and let me say -- its delicious! The topping comes out almost like a buttery cookie, and the apples taste just like pie filling. So good. The kids once again grabbed the measuring cups, dumping flour and sugar into the bowl. Poured in the melted butter {that S took care of in the microwave, pushing the right buttons and paying attention to} and even helped crack the egg.

Which turned out quite messy, as by that point, S was tired of listening and tried to move too quick, smashing the egg on the side of the bowl. Luckily, we were able to fish out the cracked shell bits before we got too far. And we had a lesson on slowing down just a little, because there is no rush. The kids mastered stirring the spatula -- and I mastered cleaning up the mess left behind on the table. But the look on their faces when we slide that pie --- their pie --- into the oven, was more than worth it.

And I learned a great deal, too. I learned to let go of so much control. To just enjoy the moment. And that things don't always have to be so perfect. The apple slices didn't have to be the same size, or shape for that matter, that I always cut them in. Messy hands can get cleaned -- and so can egg shells. But those smiles?! Those can only come from sharing a moment with your kids. Making a memory. For all of you.

That slice of apple pie last night? It tasted better than any I've ever eaten!


  1. Way to go Ashley & kiddos!! While I haven't ventured into pie making yet, I've been trying to let the kids help me out more around the house. For now, they love feeding the dog, and letting him in and out.

  2. That looks yummy! So fun that you let them make it! I let the kids watch me and sometimes stir/measure stuff, but haven't been brave (or patient?!) enough to let them cut yet. Oh the days do get long for us too! Lately, I've been having them help fold clothes, clean the house, etc - it helps make boring chores a little more fun, and gives us something to do when there might be hours left until Daddy comes home!

  3. First of all, that pie looks DELICIOUS and I want some right this very minute. Second of all, I LOVE that you let them help make the pie!! How great of an idea! Plus, since they wanted it, I'm sure they took pride in eating it. I love the idea of having kids help with things. So great, and such a wonderful way to break up the day more.