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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: After a two-year engagement, my husband and I were married three years ago. After the engagement announcement, my mother surprised me with the news that she and my father were going to renew their wedding vows. I was happy for them until my mother began planning their ceremony around the time of our wedding. I felt she was trying to steal the limelight from me -- and she did.

Two months ago, I announced that I am two months' pregnant. Yesterday, my mother announced that SHE is pregnant. (She had me when she was 15.) Abby, now she wants us to have baby showers on the same day. Do you think this is my mother's attempt to stay connected with me? -- TRYING TO REMAIN CALM IN DENVER

DEAR TRYING: No. I think that on an unconscious level, there is competition going on. However, since there is nothing you can do about it, the best advice I can offer is to live your own life, and spend less time looking over your shoulder to see what your mother is doing. Under no circumstances should you allow these "coincidences" to lessen your own happiness.

DEAR ABBY: I am a freshman at a college located two hours away from home. My brother, "Jeff," who is three years younger, still lives at home. I miss him until he comes to visit -- then it's a different story.

Jeff shows no respect for me, my lifestyle or my dorm room. He demands that I entertain him -- even though my schedule is filled to the max with classes and work. He makes a mess of my room (like spilling soda and not cleaning it up) and makes rude comments about my boyfriend behind his back. My brother has gone so far as to make some outrageous statements like, "Anyone who is not Christian is going to hell!" (My boyfriend is Jewish.)

How am I supposed to continue having Jeff visit if he causes nothing but stress and embarrassment and leaves my room trashed? My parents don't see any problem and think I'm blowing this out of proportion. Any suggestions, Abby? -- FED UP IN NEW YORK STATE

DEAR SIS: There may be only three years' difference in your ages, but emotionally your brother is a rebellious, self-centered adolescent.

If I were you, I would limit Jeff's visits until he's older, wiser, and willing to show more respect and tolerance for you and your friends.

DEAR ABBY: I am a mother of five who has been married for 18 years. The letters in your column from brides-to-be and graduates asking the best way to keep track of gifts prompts me to write.

When I was 20 and planning my wedding, my mother-in-law-to-be gave me a terrific tip: The name, address and phone number of each guest attending the wedding was written on a 3-by-5-inch index card and stored alphabetically in a recipe box.

After the wedding, as my husband and I opened each gift, we wrote what the gift was on that person's index card and returned it to the box.

When it was time to write thank-you notes, I needed only to refer to the box to know who gave what and never had to worry about a "lost" address or gift card. All the necessary info was right there on the cards -- and in alphabetical order. -- JUDY IN OHIO

DEAR JUDY: That's a wonderful idea, one that's easy to implement and can alleviate a lot of headaches. In this day and age, when the thank-you note responsibilities are shared by both brides and grooms, I'm sure your suggestion will be appreciated.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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