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I’ve Moved: Visit Loudoun Proud

I’m no longer updating this blog.  Please check out my new blog, “Loudoun Proud: My Life in Suburbia” at 

Hope to see you there!

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Why No Bottle Deposit Laws?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said today that global warming is “unequivocal” and very likely “man-made.”  Panel members said that the situation is “a threat was not simply to the environment, but to international peace, prosperity and development.”  And the United States is the biggest emitter. With this issue on my mind, I’m wondering about something related and close to home:  why don’t all states have “Bottle Bills” that require a deposit for beverage containers like soda cans?    

A quick Google search shows that there is a heated debate about this issue.  The American Beverage Association will tell you that deposit laws have a big downside, particularly that they are expensive and ineffective.  Equally biased on the other side, the Container Recycling Institute will tell you that such criticisms are myths, and that deposit laws are extremely effective, especially when used in conjunction with other recycling programs, like curbside collections. 

I want to learn more about this topic, but it seems to me that the major downside for Bottle Bills is that they are a pain in butt and are more expensive to non-recyclers.  If you’re going to toss your cans in the trash, you’re not going to get your ten cents back. This personal investment leads to the biggest benefit of Bottle Bills:  they create a culture where people don’t throw bottles in the trash.  By requiring a deposit on each can, they ensure that everyone has some skin in the recycling game. 

I grew up in Michigan, where there is a ten-cent deposit on each aluminum can and plastic bottle sold.  No one ever throws cans and bottles in the trash in Michigan, because that is literally throwing money away. In Virginia, however, people rarely think twice about tossing soda cans.  More recycling bins have appeared over the years in offices and public places, but these are still the exception rather than the rule. 

Aluminum is one of the most cost-effective materials to recycle.  With reports like the International Panel on Climate Change telling us that conservation is becoming critically important, it’s time to take more drastic steps to promote recycling and environmentalism in general.  

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Breastfeeding Tips and Tricks

With three kids under four years old, I am now well into my third (non-consecutive) year of breastfeeding.  I don’t profess to be an expert, but there are a few things that I’ve learned. 

  • Here’s something I mention so you’ll know what to expect, and that it will pass:  Breastfeeding feels fine for the first day or so, and then it hurts like hell during latch-on for two or three weeks.  It’s not just a “little pinch” or “uncomfortable” type of pain.  This is fifteen seconds of “getting your hand slammed in a door” kind of pain.  Except that it’s your breast.  And it hurts worse.  After fifteen seconds or so, though, it feels ok, and after two weeks your skin toughens and the whole process is pain free.  You should then be able to enjoy the bonding time with your baby instead of cursing his name for causing your nipples to feel like they are on fire.  

  • After trying out every brand out there, I can safely say that Medela disposable breast pads ( are far and away the best.  When milk gets on them they form a gel-like substance within the pad rather than just getting wet.  This way they are more comfortable and the milk doesn’t soak through or run off and leak.  Also, they are thin and flexible to start out with, so they are not obvious under thin clothes.  They cost more, but they are absolutely worth it. 

  • Get a comfortable cotton sleeping bra, like the Arabella Sleep Bra at  Sleeping in a regular nursing bra is uncomfortable after a night or two.  Make sure it’s cotton – I tried a microfiber one and found that it gets so stiff when milk gets on it and dries that it can stand up by itself. 

  • Get a good nursing pillow and use it, at least at the beginning.  I learned my lesson with my third baby.  I was just using pillows and not sitting up straight, and after a few weeks I developed excruciating headaches.  My doctor informed me that I had a muscle tension headache (not the brain tumor I convinced myself I had) that was caused by hunching over. 

 I have a “My Brest Friend” ( pillow, which is great.  It has a washable cover and has held up great after three kids.  It’s flat on top so the baby doesn’t roll into you too much and it has a strap so you can walk around with it to grab a pacifier, change a diaper, etc.  The Velcro strap is loud enough to wake your baby when you pull it off, though, so I just make sure not to tie it too tight and just shimmy out of it when I’m done. 

  • The Medela Micro-Steam sterilizer bags ( are a Godsend.  You rinse your bottles, pacifiers, or pumping equipment and put it in the microwave for a minute and a half (three minutes with an older microwave, depending on wattage.)  Once they’re microwaved, they are sterilized.  I really liked this for my pumping equipment.  I brought these to work and would use them right after pumping.  That way I could use the same pumping equipment later in the day without making a big scene at the sink.

  • Get a washable hands-free Nursing Cover, like you’ll find at  This is very handy when nursing in public.  No matter how well you schedule your outings or visitors, your baby will let you know at some point that it’s time to eat NOW, in public.  A hands-free cover is a lot more convenient than a blanket.

  • If you’re planning to nurse at night you’ll want to have a nursing nightgown or wear a top and bottom pajama combo, rather than a nightgown.  This will be obvious the first time you try to hoist up a long nightgown while your baby is wailing, but I’m mentioning it so you can get one before you go to the hospital.  Also, don’t bother bringing pajamas to the hospital.  You won’t want that mess and nastiness on your clothes – stick to the ugly hospital gowns!

 Giving some of these things as shower or hospital gifts for a mom intending to breastfeed is a great idea.  Most new moms don’t know that they’ll need some of these things.  I didn’t realize I’d need a sleeping bra, for example, and was really happy to get one as a gift in the hospital. Anyway, hope this is helpful advice from the trenches! Good luck!   

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