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Time to baby plan
Old 11-04-2006, 11:43 PM   #1
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Time to baby plan

Hi all.

The good news is that my wife and I are expecting our first child in spring.

I'm really interested in hearing from all the other young dreamers out there, and especially those who have managed to keep on track toward ER while raising a family.

Suggestions? Tips? Inside secrets that will help us stay on track?

Thank you!
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-05-2006, 07:28 AM   #2
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Re: Time to baby plan

Kids can be expensive...(I know, I have 4 of them all under age 10)...don't fall into the trap of buying them new designer everything...my kids where hand-me downs mostly from all the cousins and when they aren't available clothes are bought used at consigment-type shots...costs a fraction. Don't turn them into little consumers that beg for everything...we just got back from Disney with my kids and their cousins...my kids each got $25 to spend on any souvenier they wanted - no questions asked...all 4 of my kids came home with at least $15 of the $25 still in their pockets - one, the 6 year-old spent none of it prefering to save it for some future purchase.

The parents of the cousins got off every ride and allowed their kids to go into the ride-specific gift shop - my guess is they spent at least $500 on souvenirs for their 3 kids...the parents compalined everyday about how expensive this trip was and how they wouldn't be able to come back for a loooong time. (We go every year for a week.)

The cousins (more or less the same age as my kids) also came to the trip with their Ipods, cellphones and portable playstation and new clothes for the trip.

PS: Congratulations
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-05-2006, 07:54 AM   #3
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Re: Time to baby plan

We have two children now ages 15 and 10. I have never considered them expensive.

As OldMcDonald wrote, you don't need to buy much of anything for them. Our kids are one or two years younger than the children of our friends and family, so they get tons of free used clothing. When they were very young, they got tons of free baby stuff. I think the only things we purchased were car seats and disposable diapers.

Our family health insurance is pretty decent, so the cost of pregnancy, birth, stitches, broken bones, infections, immunizations, etc has gone unnoticed.

We both work, so day care has been the biggest expense for us, but not onerous. We were lucky that MIL wanted to take care of them as babies in our home until they were about 6 months old.

Once in school, biggest expenses are food, sports, music, art.

Anyways, the kids didn't even make a dent in our ER plans.

Update: We refused to buy our kids electronics. They do have an ipod because they saved up their allowances to buy one to share. The oldest has to pay her own cell phone bill (the phone was a gift). Youngest bought raffle tickets with his allowance and won an X-box -- so he is not deprived. If he needs a PS2 or gamecube, he can go to his friends' homes.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-05-2006, 08:10 AM   #4
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Re: Time to baby plan

>>Anyways, the kids didn't even make a dent in our ER plans.

Same here...my biggest motivation for ER'ing was to NOT be at work the whole time my kids were small...I Er'ed when my oldest was 5 and they weren't even all born yet...so overall, I'd say in my case the kids in fact caused me to ER earlier than I would have otherwise.

Food is the biggest expense right now as far as the kids are concerned...we spend over $1000 month just on groceries.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-05-2006, 08:56 AM   #5
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Re: Time to baby plan

Get all your baby stuff from Goodwill, garage sales, Craigslist, & FreeCycle. It's never too early to start buying.

Talk to your car insurance company about car seats & policy discounts. Some (like USAA) occasionally give them away. The integrated strollers/car seats/baby carriers are a great system too. You'll want a seat that's either permanently mounted in the car or latches onto a base. Repeatedly threading/buckling a seat belt gets old real fast.

Consider starting a college savings account now. $100/week at birth is a lot easier than $10,000 year at age 10. 529 plans came along too late for us but they may make a big tax-savings difference for you. We started with a UTMA but those can count against the kid when it's time to fill out financial aid forms.

Keep saving for your own retirement. You'll be sacrificing a lot of the next two decades for your kid-- don't sacrifice the rest of your life too.

Sign language saves a lot of time, frustration, and terrible-two toddler tantrums. Start it as soon as their eyes can focus on you. (The kid's, not the grandparents, although that's not such a bad idea either.) I really wish we'd thought of sign language for those months when their vocal cords weren't as well developed as their brain's verbal abilities.

The disposable/cloth diaper debate has raged for years but compared to the rest of the landfill stream it's irrelevant. Do what works for you and don't worry about it. If you're traveling on an airplane then project your diaper needs for the entire airport/flight period, add a couple hours, and then double it. This system means that you'll only be short one diaper.

The breastfeeding/bottle feeding debate has also raged for years. Breastfeeding is probably better if it's working for everyone, but if it's not working so well then go to bottlefeeding and don't sweat the militant mothers of La Leche.

The childcare debate has also, uhm, raged for years but objective evidence & conclusions are elusive. You'll know if you want to stay home with your kid or if you'll want to work, and you should do what works for you. Quality childcare isn't cheap but if you want to work then it'll be the right decision for you. Staying home with the kid can be financially a great deal or a terrible deal (depends on what you're giving up and what you want to do) but if you're not the type of person who can spend 15 hours day with a baby/toddler or the parents of other babies/toddlers then you won't be happy.

I hope you never need it, but the baby book that saved our sanity is "Your Fussy Baby and High-Needs Child" by William Sears. It comes in varying editions & titles by that author. By the end of the second month you'll know if you need it.

Try to relax, especially if your mother-in-law is "helping". Kids all develop their own skills in their own time, but we overattentive parents have a checklist for practically every minute of their first 18 years. You'll find yourself endlessly comparing your kid to the lists or to other family kids-- rolling over yet? Sitting up? Crawling? Talking? Reading the newspaper and writing in cursive?!? Every month you'll be sure that you've identified a medical/developmental concern. Six months later you'll look back and wonder what you were so worried about.

No matter how educated, skilled, or experienced you are, you'll do something incredibly stupid with your baby within the first 72 hours and at least once a week for the rest of the decade. It probably comes from fatigue, but just be ready to accept that you're going to make mistakes and don't beat up on yourself. It's amazing that kids survive our attempts to raise them but somehow they do. I don't know how the human race made it this far.

You'll know immediately when your family is the right size... or when you've overshot the mark!
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-05-2006, 09:25 AM   #6
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Re: Time to baby plan

Congratulations!!

If you keep peeling off your usual allotment to savings vehicles (and some extra savings earmarked for the child's future education/wedding/business venture), you'll simply live on the rest, like you always have.

Time with your kids is more important than money. Showing them how to do things, being patient, and listening to their stories and ideas (don;t be in output mode all the time!) is much mroe important than getting them the latest clothing and toys. I had no choice when my kids were little--we were working poor. But we took them camping and taught them camp crafts, visited relatives for bonding and to learn how other people lived, used the library and got hand-me-down and used books. Let doting grandmas get those adorable Petite Bateau outfits

Think about your goals...if you want self-reliant kids, teach them skills. If you want articulate kids, ask them leading questions and listen patiently to their answers. If you want kids who are good decision-makers, give them many choices (one yr old: the red outfit or the green one today? two year old: play with Daniel or Nicole today? three yr old: meeatloaf or meatballs for dinner? nine year old: gymnastics camp or science camp this summer?).

Avoid letting children watch TV shows that push consumerism--and avoid living a consumerist lifestyle. The Best Birtthday Ever and the Best Christmas Ever are not the ones with the most impressive gifts, but the ones with the warm & fuzzy feelings.

Trust your judgment--that was Dr Spock's best advice (his was the main baby book I used).
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-05-2006, 12:12 PM   #7
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Re: Time to baby plan

Congratulations!!

I heartly second the value of 'pass alongs', although you probably shouldn't use a crib that is more than 10 years old for safety reasons (little dolls can realy test that furniture as they get older).

Manage the toy inventory and don't permit the grandpartents to overwhelm them with stuff. I wish I had set and enforced a limit of one gift package and one sock-gift per grandparent.

Otherwise, same comments as the other parents.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-06-2006, 10:16 AM   #8
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Re: Time to baby plan

Congratulations! My wife and I are expecting our first in mid-December. I can't say I have any secrets or experience, but we're in the same boat anyway.

I might be a few months ahead of you when it comes to Baby Project #1: buying a whole lotta stuff you never thought about before. My wife was given a book called Baby Bargains from a friend (oh, and to save money you can start with books ... I'll bet your wife has some friends who are through with their pregnancy-related books and would be happy to pass them along so you guys don't have to buy your own).

Anyway, this book Baby Bargains lists out all the categories of baby stuff and gives product reviews etc. I found the book useful just for getting an understanding of what everything is (crib versus cradle versus bassinet versus whatever) and then you can decide if you think you need one or not (you don't need everything) based on your lifestyle, home, etc. And after you decide what items you do need, their are product reviews so you can get an idea of the better manufacturers and the crap manufacturers. You can use that info whether you buy new or used stuff.

If I had planned better, we could probably have bought more used stuff, but we ended up getting a bunch of new items. My consolation is that we hope to re-use all of it for another two future kids so ...

We didn't find out the gender of the baby, so we're buying all gender neutral stuff, which will also help when it comes time to re-use it.

We found a thrift-store nearby that specializes in baby stuff, and we plan on making good use of that for toys and clothes.

We're staying in our small home and adding an extra room by converting a single large bedroom into two rooms.

We'll see how it goes - I'll keep ya posted on how the expenses change over the first few months!

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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-06-2006, 04:12 PM   #9
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Re: Time to baby plan

You've gotten a lot of good advice. Mine are 2.5 y/o and 6 mos. They have barely raised expenses for us. A little extra for health insurance. No food increase b/c of breastfeeding and a grinder/blender for the baby.

The only thing I'd add that I didn't read above is hold off on buying things if you have family & friends. If they have a baby shower for you, there's a good chance that you won't need to buy a piece of clothing for the child for a year or two. You (or your wife) may get antsy about feeling unprepared and needing to have everything ready to go. At that point you'll want to go shopping. Try to resist the urge and wait for the shower and then go shopping after you know what you still need. Likewise, you can wait to buy a lot of things -- you don't have to have a swing, walker, bouncy seat, etc. all sitting there waiting for a newborn when he/she gets home. They will still have them in the stores when it is time for them.

Also, you never know what the child will like or need. For example, for us, #1 never liked the bouncy seat, but it was a hit with #2. Kids are different and some will want to sleep in a bouncy seat, others want to be flat on their backs in a crib/bassinet and others will want to sleep in their car seat.

The best advice I can offer is try to hold back on buying things. Used items will come out of the woodwork if you have friends/family. As you get experienced, you'll develop your own opinions on whether some of the huge all-in-one contraptions are worthwhile -- some people love them, others (like me) prefer a simple stroller. A lot of what the baby industry wants to sell you is unnecessary.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-06-2006, 07:24 PM   #10
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Re: Time to baby plan

Great advice, thanks everyone!

Anyone have insight on whether baby food in the stores is a ripoff? Are there alternatives (food processing your own?) Is it worth the bother?

What about the top 5 biggest "wastes of money"? Things like diaper genies, etc... are they worth it?

Thank you everyone!!!
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-06-2006, 09:42 PM   #11
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Re: Time to baby plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sisyphus
Great advice, thanks everyone!

Anyone have insight on whether baby food in the stores is a ripoff? Are there alternatives (food processing your own?) Is it worth the bother?

What about the top 5 biggest "wastes of money"? Things like diaper genies, etc... are they worth it?

Thank you everyone!!!
We're planning on making our own baby food (ok, well, truth be told, my wife is planning on making it, but I wholeheartedly support her!) with some basic blender type of stuff she already has.

And, on the diaper genie ... see stuff like that they can get you with. There's like, a special trash can you get for the diapers or whatever, and Diaper Genie is one brand but they sucker you in with special bags that you have to buy that fit the device ... but there's another brand Diaper Champ that you can use regular bags with and works just as well ... that's one thing that book is good for, inside info like that ...

I'm still rather clueless about the whole thing, but slowly getting some clues I guess ...
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-06-2006, 09:53 PM   #12
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Re: Time to baby plan

With my first I purchased baby food (in addition to cereals). He ate like there was no tomorrow.

#2 would have none of it. She wanted what we were eating, smashed. Anything other was obviously not fit for consumption. I had to give away my inventory of baby food.

The key thing is to avoid nuts, eggs and other foods that can cause allergies. Since the babe will consider anything you are eating safe then you should avoid them too. What to avoid and for how long you need to ask the professionals. If allergies run in the family avoid potentially problem foods for several years. It is a pain, but nothing like the pain of managing a toddler with food allergies.

I didn't use a blender, a fork did just fine. From my plate to her's, smashed.

Need I say that peas, except for frozen peas, didn't sell?
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-06-2006, 10:21 PM   #13
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Re: Time to baby plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lusitan
And, on the diaper genie ... see stuff like that they can get you with. There's like, a special trash can you get for the diapers or whatever, and Diaper Genie is one brand but they sucker you in with special bags that you have to buy that fit the device ... but there's another brand Diaper Champ that you can use regular bags with and works just as well ... that's one thing that book is good for, inside info like that ...
We bought one of those special diaper garbage cans with the proprietary liner that pinches and seals around the diaper, and never ended up using it. We finally gave it to someone else when they had their first baby, and I wouldn't be surprised if they never used it either. Regular garbage works fine, and if the smell is a problem (won't be as big a problem as you think -- those disposable diapers wrap up into a pretty tight little ball in the end), then just put the used diaper into a left-over plastic bag from the store (which always come in handy, so start saving them now if you don't already).

Before you buy something, you might try thinking about whether people a few generations ago would have thought it necessary. Besides such obviously useful advances as antibiotics, the basic technology of baby-raising hasn't changed all that much.

One thing that is useful, though, is one of those predictive thermometers that can give an estimated temperature reading in just 10 seconds or so. Much, much easier to use than one that needs to remain in place for minutes to stabilize, and well worth the extra expense. (But the infrared ear-canal thermometers don't seem to give very stable readings, so I wouldn't recommend those. The under-arm ones are the easiest to deal with.)
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-07-2006, 06:58 AM   #14
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Re: Time to baby plan

Hmmm...

Baby food: we chose to stick with all organic food for our first child, at least until she was over 1 and started expanding her diet. DW tried buying organic produce and making baby food out of it, but by the time she factored in the costs, time and effort, it was a wash with just buying the stuff in jars. YMMV, obviously. Be careful about feeding carrots you cook yourself (may be other veggies that are this way). Apparently some raw carrots have too high a nitrate concentration for small children, and you won't know unless you run a test. The baby food mfrs test.

Diaper Genie: Actualy we use them and find them convenient enough to be worth the expense. Having two dogs (garbage hounds ) roaming the house is a significant motivation.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-07-2006, 08:23 AM   #15
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Re: Time to baby plan

2 Daughters - 1 at 3 months and 1 at 1.5 years.

We passed on most of the baby junk. We use a regular trash can. It sits out in the hallway near where the cats' litter box is, so the litter box masks the diaper smell anyway. Empty that trash frequently! Kitchen trash can is also a good place to put dirty diapers - it gets emptied frequently anyway since it frequently has food waste that rots and stinks within a day or two.

We do/did use baby food from a jar. And disposable diapers. The cost to us isn't that great. Definitely worth the convenience for us.

Hand me downs and gifts have provided way more clothes than our daughters can possibly wear. We've bought maybe 10-15 clothing items total to fill in the gaps where needed.

Toys are the same way. We have way too many.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-07-2006, 10:22 AM   #16
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Re: Time to baby plan

What Justin said. The kid will usually eat it either way so you might as well do what makes you feel better. Convenience usually wins.

From age 1 to about 2 they seem to eat only Cheerios anyway. Good for hand-eye coordination, not too much mess. Our kid is 14 and we're still finding Cheerios under the car's back seat.

Frozen peas for teething-- priceless. Too small to choke on, too. We also had soft water-filled teething rings that we used to store in the freezer.

Scientific American reminded me of another baby moment with only a limited opportunity to exploit. For their first couple days, newborns have an innate imitation ability. This means that you can hold them a foot or two away from your face, stick out your tongue at them, and they'll imitate your face right down to sticking out their own tongue. It makes for a great photo in the baby announcement... but by the second week they stop doing it and make you feel pretty silly for trying.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-07-2006, 10:31 AM   #17
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Re: Time to baby plan

I have one boy who is almost two.

Here are my insights to kids (take them or leave them).

1) I never planned on using cloth diapers until a friend introduced me to Kushies Ultra cloth diapers. They have a built in waterproof liner and Velcro tabs. They are almost as convenient as disposable ones, but we still use a disposable overnight and on vacations. (By the way, it's a Canadian company so if you like you will have to order online.)

2) Buy the baby food in jars for the first samples. After you know what they like you can use a blender and freeze them in ice cube trays. Just add to the microwave and you have dinner in 1 minute.

3) Forget the diaper disposal systems. Just add baking soda to the bottom of the kitchen bag and change it at least once a week.

4) Craved wood cribs are for show to others. We got an Ikea crib for about $100 cheaper than everyone else and it also works as a toddler bed.

5) Kids are a constant drain on you monthly funds, so just plan for it. I guessed about $140/month to start with and now we are at $120. That covers clothes, toys, milk, diapers and wipes.

6) Read as much as you can before the kid shows up. It helps to keep you for freaking out over the small things and figure out all the 'advice' that you keep getting from the mother in law.

7) Don't let the kid sleep in the same room as you. Ever. Why? We found having him sleep across the hall with both door open got him sleeping through the night way faster than most people we know. You don't wake up for every little sound they make. Trust me if they need you, you will hear them.

Good luck,
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-07-2006, 10:46 AM   #18
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Re: Time to baby plan

I made my own baby food back in the 70s/early 80s. When we were having, say, spinach or winter squash for dinner, I'd make a large quantity, make sure it was cooked till soft, run it through the blender and pour it into ice cube trays. When frozen, I'd dump the cubes into plastic bags. So, I always had a variety of food cubes on hand to heat up in one of those old-fashioned baby food warmer things (do they still make those?) when whatever we were having for dinner wasn't suitable for a baby. Some things I mashed on the spot with a fork. When I made hot cereal, I'd buzz some of that up to give the baby, too. I delayed allergy-prone foods. Even so, my daughter broke out in hives from her first taste of strawberries during her one's. She outgrew that allergy in a few years, fortunately. I started meat with very finely chopped poached chicken that I stirred into a nice consistency with the chicken stock flavored with the kid's favorite veg. I got a lot of pleasure out of making my own baby food, but then I was a SAHM in those days.

I used diaper service (fresh cloth diapers delivered every week)--does that still exist? I rinsed them in the toilet before putting in the can, so there was only the faintest scent. We only used disposables for travel.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-07-2006, 11:26 AM   #19
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Re: Time to baby plan

Quote:
Originally Posted by astromeria
I made my own baby food back in the 70s/early 80s. When we were having, say, spinach or winter squash for dinner, I'd make a large quantity, make sure it was cooked till soft, run it through the blender and pour it into ice cube trays. When frozen, I'd dump the cubes into plastic bags. So, I always had a variety of food cubes on hand to heat up in one of those old-fashioned baby food warmer things (do they still make those?) when whatever we were having for dinner wasn't suitable for a baby. Some things I mashed on the spot with a fork. When I made hot cereal, I'd buzz some of that up to give the baby, too. I delayed allergy-prone foods. Even so, my daughter broke out in hives from her first taste of strawberries during her one's. She outgrew that allergy in a few years, fortunately. I started meat with very finely chopped poached chicken that I stirred into a nice consistency with the chicken stock flavored with the kid's favorite veg. I got a lot of pleasure out of making my own baby food, but then I was a SAHM in those days.

I used diaper service (fresh cloth diapers delivered every week)--does that still exist? I rinsed them in the toilet before putting in the can, so there was only the faintest scent. We only used disposables for travel.
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Re: Time to baby plan
Old 11-07-2006, 12:38 PM   #20
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Re: Time to baby plan

We've got two [1 + 4].

Always remember that each kid is different, so well-meaning advice that is given to you may be specific to that person's children. This is more directed at those annoying coworkers that come out of the woodwork. For some reason, they always find the mother to give "advice."

Also, beware of the "Gee, my kid was doing X by this date, why isn't yours" comments. Every kid achieves growth, speach, walking, etc., milestones at different ages. In my experience, this is just some person trying to compete with you vicariously through their/your kids, and just causes way too much worry/anxiety in first time parents. If you're concerned, run it by your pediatrician, who by now has mastered a nice way of saying "Calm down, ya' pansy."

To echo what others have said, you're never really truly prepared for parenthood. It's hell going through it the first time, but just like hazing, most look back on it and laugh. The best revenge is when your kids have kids. I think TH's dad said something like "HA, HA, HA, HA, Sweet Revenge is Mine!!!"

You should also prepare yourself for the fact that your kid(s) may be just like you, so asking your parents to describe what you were like as a child may be good, especially to get strategies for dealing with your kid(s). Also, beware that you may turn out exactly like your parents when dealing w/ your kids.

btw - you are searching for a pediatrician now, right?

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