2019 Podcast Interview - Laura Leigh Majernik & Bethany Brevard
**A Pod Divided - December 3, 2019**
Laura Leigh Majernik: Hi, I am bringing a guest to the table for this episode. I'm so excited. So I met our guest on a sorority alumni website. Don't you love that? That's just so me isn't it. So, anyway, our guest Bethany is also a writer just like yours, truly. And she just published her first book. It is a beautiful children's book for the Christmas season, and I wanted her to come and talk to you all about it. Not just because it's adorable, but because it has a really great message and it benefits some people that are doing some incredible work around the world for children. So ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the table, Bethany. Brevard Bethany you there.
Bethany Brevard: I am. Thank you so much for having me.
Laura Leigh Majernik: Okay. Thank you for being here. We're so glad to have you. Bethany was an ADPi at Texas state and I was an ADPi at Ole miss, but had so much fun. My father made me come back to Texas and so I transferred to UT. So what that code is for? Yeah. Yeah, there you go. So I, so we met up on this alumni site and I'm so happy to have her here, Bethany. This is a really cute and fun book for the Christmas season. So for those of you who have kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, it would be a really fun book. And Bethany has a box set too. So tell me something, let's start at the beginning. Where did you get, or tell us a little bit about what the mouse in the hammock is about.
Bethany Brevard: Yes. So starting at the beginning goes back way back to actually before I was born. So my mom, I know my mom in 1970 was pregnant with my older brother and she went to a, she was actually in college at TCU and went into a little gift store on Cullen street and found this ornament that hung in a Christmas tree. It was this little mouse in a hammock. And she reminds me all the time, “that costs $20 and you know how much $20 was in 1970?” And it was, it's just this handmade little mouse, really. It's just a little mouse head stuck on a piece of felt with a little blanket over it. And it hangs in the Christmas tree on two branches. So it kind of hangs in the middle. So I've had a Mouse in the Hammock on a Christmas tree, my entire life.
Bethany Brevard: And I just thought everyone did. I didn't know. I didn’t think I was anything special, or that was different from anyone else's tree. So that's kind of where this whole thing started. Originally. It goes all the way back to 1970, which my husband reminds me is almost 50 years. And I then tell him that it was before I was born. So yeah, so that, that's kinda where it started. And then kind of fast forward to when my kids were little, we were having a little bit of an issue with them at Christmas time, only being concerned about what Santa was bringing them. And we were trying to figure it out how we could come up with a bedtime story that would really talk about helping others. And so that's really where this story originated. It's about 15 years ago, we started a bedtime story based on the little mouse in the hammock.
Bethany Brevard: So then we would ask the kids at night, well, what would a mouse do to be helpful? You know, and prepare the house for Santa Claus. And every night they kind of come up with little things and by then the mouse and the hammock had evolved some it's a cause that was not given the mouse in the hammock. My parents would not give me the ornament, so I just remade it. And at that time I remade it with a little stuffed animal that could come out. So when the kids would be like, well, he, you know, taste, test the cookies in the morning, we'd have them on the, my kitchen Island with some crumbs, cause he tastes tested the cookies. And so all the little things that our kids would come up with and that is what the mouse would do. And that's actually, what's made it into the story into the book. So there's a couple of things, even like the mouse says up a hole in the stocking and that's because I still haven't gotten to that. There's still a hole in the stocking. You know, the things that the grownups are too busy to do, that's the mouse's job.
Laura Leigh Majernik: That's great. And that's good too, because it tells kids there's no such thing as too small to make a difference and too small to be considered important. So I like that idea as well. I think that's encouraging for children.
Bethany Brevard: Yeah, it is. And that's the moral at the end of the story when Santa rewards the mouse, that's when he tells him that you don't have to be big to make a big difference. Even someone as little as a mouse. And I think that really resonates with kids. We've actually already started to get feedback from teachers who are using this in their classroom. And just really, hearing a lot of positivity coming back to us about how kids are responding. That like, Hey, I'm a little too, just like a mouse and I can do good and things like that. And so it really warms my heart because my children are older now. I didn't know how this was going to go down. I just, I just kind of all get this, this book and when I kind of do something, I jump all the way in. So yeah. So it's been, it's been really neat to hear it, of the feedback that we're getting from childrens and teachers and parents.
Laura Leigh Majernik: Wonderful. All right. Now tell us about the charity, a tie for this book as well.
Bethany Brevard: Yeah. So one of the things that we wanted to do was really kind of reinforce the fact that children can make a difference. And so in the back of the book, so each book comes as a gift set with your very own mouse to hang in your Christmas tree. So when you get the gift set, it comes with a mouse and the mouse comes, can come out of the hammock and go around your house and do good deeds. And so what we really wanted to do was reinforce and we're calling it the Mouse's Mission. So mouse's mission is to teach and impact the lives of other children around the world. So it's kind of a two-part mission. So the first one is that all the mice are handmade at a fair trade factory in Nepal. And so in the back of the book, there's actually a two page spread. That's written in language, a child can understand it's actually written for them, not written for the parents. And it explains what, what fair trade is and that these women are taught a skill so that they can get a job and provide education and housing for their children and their families. And it supports a whole village. So it's a pretty neat place where the mice come from and they're handcrafted. So each one's a little different. So that makes them very, very special.
Laura Leigh Majernik: How pretty! Yeah. Yeah.
Bethany Brevard: It's really that the hand work is amazing. Actually, we got the samples, I was blown away. I was like, Oh my gosh, this is way more than I expected it to be. So we were pleasantly surprised at how our mouse turned out, the mice turned out. And then the second part of that is that a portion of the proceeds goes to an orphanage in Haiti. And so we, in terms that try not to scare a child, explain what an orphanages is, children who have sadly lost their families. They live in this orphanage and we provide them education and food and clothing. And so a portion of the proceeds goes to that as well. And our goal, I did, I printed 5,000 box sets. And so with that, when those are all sold hopefully this season, but maybe next season as well, we will end up giving the orphanage $10,000. So that's, that's our goal is to really support those children and love them and help them too.
Laura Leigh Majernik: Great. Well, and I do want everyone to know, of our listeners, that I read the descriptions of the fair trade definitions and the orphanage. It is extremely kid friendly. So even for your, you know, for your younger kids, but it also really gets the point across of how much you're helping other children. And I think kids like that, they like being able to help other kids or at least mine I always have. So I think that's a really good idea. I love the fact that each ornament is handcrafted. So it's its own unique mouse. So that is pretty cool.
Bethany Brevard: Yeah. The back, thank you. And in the back of the book the little mouse’s mission, like, like just one sentence that it says, "just like the mouse in our story, you may be small, but you can make a big difference". And then it goes on to say how, how they make, how you as a five year old reading a book about a mouse have made a difference in the lives of these children and these women. And so it's really geared to children it's in, you know, and so it's been fun. It's been exciting, bit of a roller coaster. You know, we are going to lots of shows around central Texas on the weekends and trying to just get out there and meet people and introduce our little mouse and try to spread some holiday cheer around.
Laura Leigh Majernik: That's wonderful. That said, where can we find this online to order a box set?
Bethany Brevard: Yes, it is. I try to not be sneaky at all. It is themouseinthehammock.com. So nothing abbreviated, nothing left out the full, themouseinthehammock.com.
Laura Leigh Majernik: Oh good. That does make it easy. You know, spellings or anything. Yeah,
Bethany Brevard: No crazy spellings. No words left out. No abbreviations. Just hemouseinthehammock.com.
Laura Leigh Majernik: Bethany, thank you so much for being here. ADPi sister and I am so excited for you. Wish you the best of luck this holiday? And we are just so happy you stopped by.
Bethany Brevard: Thank you so much again for having me. And it's been my pleasure to share my little mouse's story with you.
Laura Leigh Majernik: Oh, thank you, Bethany. Alright, well you have a good night. Thank you so much.
Bethany Brevard: You too. Thank you.