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How Many Kids Should You Have?

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FAMILY OF FOUR

"One boy and one girl is perfect."
Lisa Reneé and Russell Thomas, Annapolis, MD

Lisa Reneé's story: I was a kindergarten teacher for many years, so it goes without saying that I love kids. I always wanted two children, and luckily Russell did too, even though he's one of five. I was raised with my cousin Rashida, who is like a sister to me, and having great adventures with her shaped my sense of family. I wanted to have two children so that each would always have a friend for life.

Within three months of being married, I got pregnant with Dylan. Two years later we tried again, and I quickly became pregnant with Allison. After I had Allison, I had my tubes tied. We knew for sure that we didn't want more children.

If Allison is with me, Dylan is with his dad. It's always one on one. If we had one more child, one kid might feel left out. Plus, I don't think we could afford for me to stay at home if we had more than two kids.

But, most important, we feel that our marriage comes before the children. We take care of ourselves first, believing that if we're happy, then the kids will be happy. For example, Russell and I take three trips a year by ourselves. When we come back from our vacations, we're always so refreshed.

I tell Dylan that I had Allison just for him. I tell him that she's going to be his best friend for life — even though right now he pulls the heads off her Barbies and she breaks his Legos.

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