Everything Miz Meliz

Author Interview: Jennifer Chambers

 Jennifer Chambers

“Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle” – Children’s book, March 2013
“The Best Hikes for Kids: Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia – Guide book, Summer 2014
photo credit: Jennifer Chambers, HikingAlong.com
Author, Jennifer Chambers

Jennifer is a busy mom, author, blogger, teacher, environmental advocate and outdoor adventure director who is constantly juggling 10 things at a time –  which she says,  makes her husband’s head spin! She considers herself highly organized and a half-way decent teacher.  Well, I think she is much much, more than that! I had the chance to interview Jennifer about her new children’s book, “Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle” and I found her to be quite inspiring. . .

Jennifer, I look forward to reading your book and reviewing it on my blog http://MizMeliz.com but before I do I would like to get to know you a bit.  Tell me about what you are up to these days.
Thank you for wanting to review my new children’s book. I am having a lot of fun networking with people to promote this book. Besides teaching and working as an advocate for the environment, I enjoy hiking the scenic trails of Washington, D.C
with my two children, my husband and our dog.  I blog about our adventures and I love to help others learn about the outdoors.
What is the book about?  
Here is the official synopsis:  Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle tells the story of a water bottle’s journey in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Atlantic Ocean. Upon reaching a storm drain, the personified water bottle travels the streams and rivers of Washington, D.C., meeting animals along its ride. Each animal—from the water strider to the loggerhead turtle—teaches the water bottle about itself, its origins, its journey, and those of other pollutants in the watershed. Alima is the five-year old water bottle’s heroine; making us all believe we can be one too.
It sounds great!  Why did you want to write a book about watersheds?
I wrote the book for educators and parents to use as a tool to engage kids to learn about the impact litter is having on our watersheds and oceans. In addition, 100% of the profit from the book is being equally donated to the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program.
That’s amazing, 100% of the profits are going directly back to help the environment.  How  did you get the idea to write a children’s book like this?
The idea came to life from a lesson I developed for a 6-week Earth Day program for our county’s public housing after-school programs in my community. The lesson had two purposes: to engage the kids in understanding how long litter lives in our environment (biodegradable of a banana peel to a plastic water bottle) and where the litter can travel to when it enters a storm drain in their neighborhood. A lot of people think litter magically disappears; it just moves from location to location impacting the plants and animals that live at each spot.
During the activity, I had kids trace the travels of a juice box from their neighborhood street into the storm drain and then they determined the path/travels it would take, eventually ending up in the Atlantic Ocean. We brainstormed all the animals, from insects to mammals, that it could encounter along the way and what negative impact the juice box could have on the animals. After teaching this workshop eight years ago, I realized that this lesson would make a great children’s story.
How long did it take you to write the story and make it into a children’s book?
It took me another six more years to begin writing it when I was spurred to do so for my children’s elementary school. Some moms I was working with loved the idea and wanted to perform it as a play for Earth Day. (I have written it also as a play.) Therefore, over two years and a complete ending change from its original version, I finished it last summer and found two publishers who accepted the project for publishing and began that process last Fall.
Besides raising awareness about littering and it’s impact on wildlife and helping to raise funds for groups that protect the environment, what is your vision for the book?
I really hope this book can be used as a tool for environmental educators and teachers to engage kids in a science issue, one we have great behavioral control of, in an entertaining way. Science can come alive when presented in literature and story.
Why are you doing this?  What motivates you?
I love being a teacher. I teach middle school science at a special ed school. My passion is to engage kids in the outdoors in whatever way, through education, adventure, play, etc. I have been writing a blog since 2009 to share my own experiences and adventures in nature (many with my children and some without like my post entitled “Three Muddy Moms….“) and my advice for families to help them engage their children in the outdoors (i.e., Camping in the Rain).
I would love to read those posts and learn more about what you do.  Thank you!
To connect with Jennifer Chambers, go to her website: HIKING ALONG, Science & Hiking for Kids.
@hikingalongkids – Twitter
Thanks so much to Jennifer Chambers for sharing a little bit about herself, her important work and her new book, “Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle.”  I look forward to reading it!  I hope you are inspired to check it out and share it with your kids.
Click HERE to purchase the book online.
Check out what I thought about “Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle” in my book review.  Let me know if you have any questions for Jennifer in the comments.  Sign up for the Newsletter for updates or Follow Me.  
Do you have a book you would like me to review or a new adventure you want to tell me about?  Let me know!  It’s your time to shine!
Photo by Tim Farnsworth Copyright 2013
Be Inspired, Everything Miz Meliz

Happy New Year! Focus on Today While Looking Back

Focus on Today

My theme word for 2013 is “Ta-da!!” After reflecting on 2012 and in my readiness to ignite my passions and spark my awesomeness in 2013, I want to have that youthful energy and spread the excitement like a magician or a child showing off – – think Jazz hands! I plan to jump in to the center of the room and say, “Ta-da!” Here I am, here is what I know, this is it people!”

Copyright 2013 Melissa Reyes
Miz Meliz – Carefree and Exploring Life! I love that my Mom and aunts are on the level above looking out the window, they are still watching out for me!

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog this past year.   I am grateful for the important role you have played in my life and I am so glad to have you with me on my journey.

Taking a Look Back

I have been thinking a lot lately of the little girl that I once was.  I grew up surrounded by adults.  Being the youngest in my family and in my generation, I felt the urge to be grown up.  I spent most of my life so far trying to (and succeeding at) being a responsible adult.  It took some serious digging into my heart to remember what it felt like to be a fun-loving carefree child.  (It wasn’t that hard to recall my teenage and young adult years, where I had fun – but that is VERY different kids!) Thinking about what I was like as a child helped me to determine who I really am.  I believe that we are complete and whole from the start.  The person I am today started as a seed that has grown and developed with help from all the outside influences.  But at the core of who I am, I am indeed that fun-loving carefree child.

Copyright Melissa Reyes 2013
Little Miss Melissa on a Swing at the Park

I loved playing outside when I was little.  I made mud pies.  I helped my Dad water the trees and plant seedlings.  I loved to swing on the swing on the tree in the backyard.  I liked to capture caterpillars and praying mantis and put them in jars.  Eventually I would let them go. In the fall, I loved walking through the piles of leaves that accumulated on our front lawn.  When it rained, I loved jumping in puddles!  I liked to lay in the grass and watch the clouds pass overhead.

Little Miss Melis, 2 Years Old
Little Miss Melis, 2 Years Old

I always liked to collect things.  When I was very little it was pennies, marbles, sea shells and sand dollars.  I had a very large stuffed animal collection and each one had a name and a special place on my bed.  I had a few beloved dolls and I cared for them by bathing them, changing their clothes and cutting their hair.

Copyright Melissa Reyes 2013
Little Miss Mommy with her baby dolls, notice one had to have her own chair!

I liked to dress up, especially at Halloween.  I always made my own costumes (with Mom’s help, of course!)  I remember being Raggedy Anne, a hobo, Dorothy, a flapper, a princess, and a devil.

When I was little my parents traveled and took vacations by car and then later by camper.  We camped and fished and went on adventures.  They took me to all of the South Western states and we visited family in New Mexico almost every year.  We went to Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.  On other trips we went to the Pacific Northwest.  We went all the way up the coast through Northern California, Oregon, Washington to British Colombia, Canada.  We also went to Hawaii when I was eleven.  I loved those trips and enjoyed sitting in the front seat between my parents so I wouldn’t miss a thing.

Copyright Melissa Reyes 2013
Miss Melis Loving the Outdoors!

We took lots of weekend trips all over California.  We spent lots of time in San Diego visiting family.  We would shop in Tijuana now and then.  Sometimes we went on day trips to Solvang or Palm Springs. I loved walking on the beach early in the morning with my Dad and stopping for donuts on the way back.  I would go for a walk with my Mom when we went camping and we would “explore.”

Now What?

I realize that these are the things that I was naturally happiest doing.  My goal for this year is to do the things that naturally make me happy.  I am fortunate to be in a place in my life where I have met my goals and I want to keep things the way they are for a while.  For now, I will do my best to maintain my home, my job, my relationships and all the things that I love.  I will do so with the zest and excitement of the adventurous fun-loving and carefree child that I am at heart.

Please, share with me a memory of your childhood.  What were you like?  Were you that way for as long as you can remember?  Tell me something good. . .