I Have Book ADD: Aly's Angle

Hello, my name is Aly and I Have Book ADD

Most of our family lives in Oregon, so every summer I hope to take Cooper (and soon baby boy) for a summer trip. On Wednesday, while sitting on a plane to Portland, I was reminded of the stark difference between how my time is spent now, specifically at the airport, compared to how it was spent before motherhood. During pre-boarding moments, I would be reading a good book or scrolling my phone, just trying to pass time. Now,  distracting and occupying a toddler in a public setting fills that time.  During the last couple of times at the airport, Cooper is obsessed with pushing her stroller around the terminal. Unfortunately, this normally results in Coop pushing the back bar of the stroller from her knees on the dirty airport floor, or worse yet, Coop ending up face down on her stomach because she moves too fast.  I am not a germ freak, but how gross.

During the plane ride, I used to enjoy the secure feeling of being settled in my seat before reading a good book and then finally closing my eyes and nodding off. Now, I act as a jungle gym trying to contain Cooper as she climbs, waves, pretend laughs and “talks” through the whole flight. I have yet to have her take even a 10-minute nap on any flight since she turned one. I now consider reading a complete luxury.

When I read.

Someone watching me read might think I am very studious because of the way I write notes in the margins of the books; however, the reality is quite different. I have horrible retention. If I do not write something down or take notes, it goes in and then right out. That is why reading books digitally (especially educational, non-fiction ones) is difficult for me. I need a book in my hands, I need to highlight, and I need to take notes. The problem for me isn’t as much reading something digitally versus non-digitally, it is finding the time to read at all. On a side note, I have an obsession with bookstores. I would love to take Cooper to Powell’s Books this weekend in Portland to show her how magnificently beautiful a bookstore can be.

I have book ADD.

Like most of the things I do, I struggle to complete one task from start to finish. This is also true with the books I read. Generally, I have three books on my nightstand and, depending on my mood, will read a little from one at night.

Titles of my most current reads:

- The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth by Felice Austin, Lani Axman, Sheridan Ripley, Heather Farrell,Robyn Allgood

- The Vaccine-Friend Plan: Dr. Paul’s Safe and Effective Approach to Immunity and Health-from Pregnancy through your Child’s Teen Years, by Paul Thomas M.D.

- Blog, Inc: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho

The reality is that finishing these books will probably take me a year, but I hope for the next two weeks while in Oregon, away from my husband 😞 and nighttime hours a little lonelier, I will be able to find more time to just sit back and read at night.

The Curse of the Haole Rot

Hard to see but she has white spots on her shoulders and back.

Hard to see but she has white spots on her shoulders and back.

One thing I love about my daughter’s pediatrician, Dr. Kozak in Tustin, CA, is she always proposes natural remedies before prescribing medicine. For example, the first time I asked what I should give Cooper for a cold, she suggested I give her a fruit smoothie with a whole orange in it for the vitamin C to boost her immune system. That recommendation started my absolute trust in her advice. So, I guess I wasn’t surprised with her suggestion to use coconut oil last week during Cooper’s 18-month appointment when I pointed out that she takes after her mom and is getting those summertime dry skin white blotches on her tanned little body.

My husband, when we first started dating, called the white patches on my arms, Haole Rot. He said, “You know how you get those right? Damp towels.” What in the world?!? I replied. He laughed, explaining that in Maui everyone gets haole rot by using wet towels that never dry because of the humidity. Despite the comical name and our ongoing laughable debate, the locals from Hawaii are not loonie. According to Medicine Mama, Haole Rot is “clinically known as Tinea Versicolor, and it is actually a fungal growth of yeast that occurs naturally on the skin.” This type of yeast can cause discoloration of the skin that looks like white, pink, red or brown spotty patches. They do not tan and can increase in warm weather. Has my husband been right all these years? Are we cursed with Haole Rot?

I’m not quite certain I can answer that question without a professional dermatologist diagnosis, but our symptoms definitely seem more fungal like Tinea Versicolor than itchy or irritated eczema.

So last week in preparation for this week’s challenge and to manage our growing skin issues, I started putting coconut oil on Cooper’s back. The problem is coconut oil is oil. So I would take her chubby naked body and rub her down with moderate amounts of the oil. I found myself nervous with what to do next. Do I put on her pj’s?  Was the oil residue going to get on my clothes while we snuggled and read bedtime stories? On her crib sheets at night? That is when I realized I wanted something coconut oil based but with the consistency of a cream. This is the moment I decided to be like my close friend Nicole Carnese and her company Cocos Organics.

I remember when Nicole started her company to create homemade remedies in her kitchen. Now she owes a company committed to organic, plant-based skincare. When I say committed, I mean it. She has no chemicals in her products, only ingredients you can pronounce. She doesn’t use plastic, only glass jars. I love her Instagram post from last week: “I’ve got 99 problems and coconut oil solves like 86 of them.” So without her knowing, I went out and bought all the ingredients I thought necessary for our anti-haole rot/eczema cream.  Buying the ingredients highlighted how truly clueless I was to the items on the list.

The recipe suggestion is from Dr. Axes, titled “Eczema Cream.”


-1/2 cup of raw shea butter

-1/2 cup of coconut oil (optional: ¼ cup olive oil or almond oil)

-1 tablespoon of local honey

- 30 drops of lavender essential oil

- 8 drops of tea tree essential oil

- optional additions: 5 drops of geranium essential oil and/or 5 drops of myrrh essential oil

Raw Shea Butter:

I paid $9.99 at Sprouts for 7 oz. of raw shea butter. There were a couple of options, but I chose  Now Solutions Shea Butter. I was confused about measuring the quantity of raw shea butter into a measuring cup. I thought because 4 oz. equaled half a cup, I would use only ½ the container. I was wrong and am probably the only one in the world who didn’t know that fluid ounces are totally different than weight ounces. I used the whole container.

Coconut Oil:

I used refined Organic Refined Coconut Oil.

Local Honey:

Sometimes local honey can be a little bit more expensive, but it is important because it contains immune-stimulating properties that help the body adapt to its local environment.

Lavender Essential Oil:

Luckily, my mother-in-law Sue Hunkins is a distributor for DoTerra essential oils. I was able to go into her stash and handpick every oil I needed. The best part is she has a book that outlines all the benefits of the oils, including which oils are safe for pregnancy. All oils used have been given the thumbs up when diluted with coconut oil.

Tea Tree essential Oil (or what DoTerra calls Melaleuca Oil)

And Geranium Essential Oil

The experience of combining all these ingredients was relatively easy but surprisingly messy, considering I have never melted shea butter and coconut oil together. Yes, the kitchen looked similar to the way it does when I cook--dishes, spatulas and pots everywhere. Now that I have made it, I realize it doesn’t need to be as messy.

My Be Better ladies holding their little ziplock bags of haole rot cream.

My Be Better ladies holding their little ziplock bags of haole rot cream.

I placed the shea butter and coconut oil into a jar. Next, I placed the jar in a saucepan of hot water, turned on the burner until the water boiled, and melted the butter and oil. This step took about 5 minutes. I then added the honey and essential oils.

The original directions said to put the jar in a refrigerator to harden the mixture a little bit before mixing to lotion consistency. For some reason this step made me a little nervous. My liquid shea butter and coconut oil were not solidifying even in the refrigerator, so into the freezer the mixture went, maybe a little too long. But just in time I took it out, mixed it in a mixer for 5 minutes and lo and behold, success. I had made homemade eczema cream.

To be completely honest, the recipe made way more than I expected. I filled up a small glass jar (just so Nicole Carnese would be proud) and then a huge glass water bottle. I put the extra in zip-lock bags for my be better workout ladies. I love the smell, I love the way it feels on our skin, and I love that it is made from natural ingredients. Most of all, I am surprised at how satisfying it is to made something from scratch.


Be Better from a College Student at Tufts University

Hello! My name is Lauryn, and I am currently a senior at Tufts University, about 5 miles outside of Boston. I am studying biology and am interested in pursuing a career in health care. Although I have loved my time on the east coast, I am excited to be returning to the Bay Area for some warm(er) winters and quality time on the outdoor hiking trails.

I have been a part of the Be Better Movement for about a year and a half after a friend referred me to this community. I am not going to lie though; it is a struggle to keep up with the challenges week after week. As a college student, it is easy to focus solely on what is going on within your “college bubble.” However, I am motivated by the fact that each challenge I complete not only benefits admirable charities such as Every Mother Counts, but also improves my health and well-being.

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to eat citrus. Citrus provides me with Vitamin C, essential to staying healthy when interacting with patients at a hospital. Because I love citrus already, it was relatively easy for me to incorporate into my meals this week. In fact, the hardest part of this challenge was remembering to buy citrus at the grocery store!

Since citrus is the main focus of the Be Better Challenge this week, I tried to be more mindful and creative with the drinks and food I put in my body. For example, while I normally drink plain tap water, this week I added lemon or lime wedges to my water. I could not believe that such a small change would actually impact my mood throughout the day! I felt more awake and present in class.

This week, I also baked salmon with lemon and brussel sprouts, which I served over spaghetti with a brown butter, lemon, and rosemary sauce. It was delicious and nutritious! This recipe is actually one of my quick, go-to meals during the week.

I had so much fun with the challenge this week, and I can’t wait to complete more in the future!


Paulina Sudhalter, New Be Better Intern

A Little Bit About Me and My Morning Routine

Hi Be Better Movers! My name is Paulina Sudhalter, and I am a Strategic and Corporate Communications major at Chapman University. I was raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, but was born in San Diego, California. Needless to say, I am overjoyed to be back in beautiful Southern California discovering Disney, the beach, and the myriad opportunities available to me. When searching for a summer internship, I stumbled upon Be Better Movement and instantly connected to the cause. As a health enthusiast and believer in making a difference in the world, I thought pairing this internship with my passion for marketing and social media would allow me to gain the real-world experience I need to succeed. This past summer I began to focus on living a healthier life through clean eating and exercise.

My morning routine

I’ve come to realize that having a morning routine truly kick-starts my day. All of fall semester 2016, I would faithfully be out the door three days a week at 6 a.m. to go to the gym. My days were so jam packed with classes, meetings, and extracurriculars that it was difficult to find any other time to hit the gym. Now my classes are later in the day, so I have more flexibility. Whether I wake up at 6 a.m. or 10 a.m., I always make sure to stretch in my bed. Taking the extra two to five minutes to elongate all the muscles in my body releases any tension making me feel refreshed. I am excited to learn from Aly and contribute to the Be Better Movement.

Why I struggled with this week's challenge to Pay it Forward.

I am not quite sure why “paying it forward” seemed like a difficult  #bebetter52 challenge for me to complete this week. I have two working hypotheses. One I am ashamed to admit, and the other one I hope is true.

My first hypothesis about why I had a problem carving out time to pay it forward with random acts of kindness is difficult for me to accept. Being a mom, wife and business owner, I find it difficult to make time to go out of my way to serve others. This hypothesis would make me really sad if it were true, so I am praying my second hypothesis is the actual reality.

My second hypothesis is that paying it forward is something I already do in almost every action during my day. This reality would sit a lot better. Most likely the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Throughout the week when I was looking for opportunities to serve others, I would be attending to Cooper-- preparing her lunch or reading her books before naps. As a mother, almost everything I do is a selfless act of service.  I was also trying to come up with ways to serve during coaching or when I was working on Be Better. I soon realized the reason I love my work is because its mission is centered on improving the lives around me.

One area I worked to improve during the week was giving out more compliments. It became my “pay it forward” focus. When I admire someone or feel thankful for an individual, I often think up a compliment in my head but sometimes forget to vocalize it. This week I went out of my way to express those complimentary thoughts. Recently, I have realized the power of compliments and am surprised at how infrequently they are given.

Do you recall the story of the New York woman fatally attacked outside an apartment building while 37 people heard her screams but did nothing? Later, when the residents were interviewed by the police, everyone in the building admitted to hearing her cries for help but assumed someone else would call the police. Sometimes I feel compliments are the same. People assume others are thanking the individual and, as a result, few compliments or kudos ever get to the individual.

This week I also spent time noticing random strangers paying it forward. It is easy to be distracted by the negativity of national and world news, but I took time to notice little acts of kindness in my community. For example: while I was running in Old Town Orange pushing Coops in the stroller with my dog’s leash around my waist, we stopped at a bowl of water and bucket of dog treats one of the shop owners had left out for passing dogs. This random act of kindness made a dog and its owner happy.

Be Better from a Pediatric Dentist

Each week, Be Better Movement wants to feature some of our active participants completing the challenges around the country. We all come from different places, different life experiences and different cultures, but have one thing in common. We are committed to turn self improvement into global improvement. We hope that you become inspired by the stories told. 

Hello! My name is Nasem Dunlop. I am a new mom in my thirties who has a full-time career as a pediatric dentist. My life has always been busy, but adding a child to the mix has REALLY added to the bustle of everyday life. In the past, I was motivated to eat well and workout 5 or 6 times a week without feeling any guilt about taking time bettering myself. As part of my adjustment to mommyhood, I almost immediately cut out my exercise routine. My diet went out the window with the cravings of pregnancy and the hunger of nursing. It was hard for me to juggle work and a baby and add in workout time. I also had mommy guilt leaving my baby so I could workout when I had already left him a majority of the day to work. I was searching for a balance.

I joined the Be Better Challenge over a year ago when I met Aly (Founder of Be Better Movement), and she explained the whole challenge to me. I enjoy the challenges each week and love that they are different each week--some include diet or exercise or a new healthy habit or just a slow down and reflection of what is good around you. Then to make the challenge even better, you are completing each challenge and, in turn, raising money for an amazing cause.

This week's Partner Fitness Challenge is one I especially like. I was searching for a balance so this was the perfect challenge for me! I partnered with a good friend of mine, also a new mommy, juggling a career and baby, who is also into fitness but finding it hard to find a balance. We alternate who chooses the workout for the week and then check in with each other to make sure the other is completing the workout in a timely manner. It is great because she loves to run, which I hate, so her running workouts really motivate me to try something I hadn't done in the past. My workouts include my favorite things to do: planks and burpees, which she doesn't love. I, in turn, challenge her to work outside of her comfort zone. We both fail here and there but always help the other pick right back up with the challenge and move forward. The challenge helped me feel much more balanced in all my areas of life and helped me to feel I had included an exercise routine back into my busy life. I hope to continue to check in with my fitness partner and motivate each other through this journey. Life is all about balance. At each stage life the balance will need to be adjusted for that moment. I am happy to feel back in balance.

Lemon Water during Baby Breakfast Time

Every time I travel, I have this ambitious goal that once I am back in the United States, I will sit down in the morning to drink a hot cup of herbal tea and read the daily newspaper. It usually takes only two or three mornings before I stop reading the newspaper or steeping my tea. Why? I am back to my old habit of running late and rushing out the door.   

This week #bebetter52 challenge has caused me to revisit my after-travel goal but to substitute the tea with lemon water. I would be lying if I said I accomplished the goal three days in a row, but today I did!  The first step was filling a cup with water from the refrigerator. It wasn’t room temperature, but at least I didn’t put ice in it. Next, I walked into my backyard and picked lemons off our tree. Yes, we have a lemon tree. I then squeezed half a lemon into the water.

Lemon Tree

The next part of the story isn’t quite as relaxing. I put Cooper in her high chair for breakfast. Normally a good eater, she wasn’t on her A-game due to a bad cold, so she throws all the food off her tray onto the ground. Most of the time food doesn’t even hit the ground because Tucker, my big Golden Doodle, is there to catch it in his mouth or, more often than not, take it straight out of her hand. So with lemon water in one hand, I am using the other to drag my dog behind a doggy gate so Cooper doesn’t feel so tempted. I heat up oatmeal and blow on each bite because that’s a game we play. I blow and she says says “hat” meaning “hot.” It is pretty cute. She does it with almost any food, including cottage cheese and yogurt. All through our mother-daughter breakfast moment, I casually sip my lemon water.

It is now 4:45 in the afternoon.  As I’m thinking back on my day, I’m unsure if I have had any water since that 8 oz glass. Time to get another glass. Tomorrow, I am going to make a big pitcher of lemon water so that every time I open the refrigerator, the refreshing water is readily available.

Side note: Have you ever given a baby a lemon? I tried it the other day, and Cooper acted like it was a sweet juicy orange. Do babies not taste sour or is my daughter a little weird?