Ruth Ann Adams

5 X Mama: Travel Tales, Faith Stories and Children's Literature

Archive for the ‘Mother’s Day’ Category

5 X Mama, Happy Mother’s Day!

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Head Shot   I looked at my young daughter, her stomach artistically decorated with bright markers. There was no doubt in my mind as to what had inspired her. The night before, we had read Purple, Green and Yellow by Robert Munsch, a children’s story  in which the heroine, Brigid, “…colored her belly-button blue. And that was so pretty, she colored herself all sorts of colors almost entirely all over.” The artwork faded from my daughter’s skin, but  her passion for books continued.  Now, as an adult in her twenties, Andrea  devours books, even if she refrains from plastering her belly-button with markers!

As a 5 X Mama, with four daughters and one son, I am convinced that one of the most important things you can do for your children is to read to them. Books have always played a huge role in my own life. My mother said, that as a child, I carried a book with me on outings, instead of a doll. Libraries were like treasures mines, complete with enticing covers, intriguing titles and dramatic tales. By the time I was eleven, I managed to talk the children’s librarian of our local library into hiring me as a page, to put books away and do other small duties. Finally, I entered the classroom as an   English teacher, sharing novels, poems and drama with teenagers, before embarking on another exciting career, as a 5 X Mama. Naturally, books were right, left and centre in our home.

My husband shared  my passion. When our babies were born, he read and re-read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, while he rocked fussy infants to sleep, and generously gave me some rest. Then when they were older – but not much older – he read the trilogy to them. When our youngest daughter turned 18 last November, her older sister, who once coloured her tummy-button, did much of the work planning a surprise Lord of the Rings theme party for her, complete with costumes, decorations and special food such as “orc pudding.”  My husband, dressed up as Gandalph, read to his now adult children, from one of Tolkien’s books.

All of our lives we tell ourselves stories, and we share those stories with others. Words have the unique ability to create, to empower, and ultimately to determine the course of our days. When children hear a wide variety of stories, the possibilities for creative and imaginative excursions are endless. Through stories, children learn how to respond intelligently and sensitively to the many influences and circumstances of their lives. They learn to look beyond themselves to the needs of others and to relate compassionately to people different from themselves.

In  5 X Mama, one of my goals is to share some of the wonderful stories I enjoyed with my own children, as well as to explore newer books. The possibilities are endless and in this age of digital distractions, it is perhaps more important than ever, that books make an immediate and emphatic presence in children’s lives. Besides all of this, reading books with children is just plain fun and gives parents, grandparents and educators opportunities to connect and converse, that would perhaps otherwise be lost.

the mothers day mice

An enchanting Mother’s Day book to share with your little ones is The Mother’s Day Mice by Eve Bunting. Three mice, Biggest, Middle and Little, go on a private adventure to find just the right gift for their mother. In spite of courting near disaster with a cat, each finds something special. Little discovers the best gift within himself  and in a spirit of generosity says that his present is from them all! Jan Brett’s detailed and colourful illustrations perfectly complement the text.

Do you have books you treasured as a child or enjoy reading to your children? I would love to hear about them! Have a memorable and blessed Mother’s Day!

Disclaimer: Copies of books discussed are my own or from the library, unlessotherwise stated.

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Written by Ruth Ann Adams

May 9, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Pulling Strings for Grandma

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Hansel and Gretel dwell in our house, along with a colourful array of companions, just waiting for someone to pull their strings. For years, these fairy tale characters delighted children in libraries and schools throughout southern Ontario, brought to life by the Adams Marionettes. In the 1950’s, my mother-in-law, Maureen Adams, took a puppetry course at  Queen’s University, and was permanently hooked. She began with hand puppets, but as her family grew older, she and her husband, John,  formed the Adams Marionettes, consisting of themselves, their four children and a school friend, named Dan. The puppets captivated not only  young audiences, but the performers themselves, as the marionettes opened the door to a wide array of creative expression.

My mother-in-law loved puppetry because it involved many forms of art: drama, costumes, scene design, music and story. The performances, enchanting as they were, were only part of the process. First, the Adams chose a folk tale, devised a script, added in sound effects and put the finished product on  tape. The marionettes were made out of wood, with the heads devised from a plasticine mould. Next, the family sewed the costumes, painted the scenery and spent a great deal of time in the backyard puppetry workshop, rehearsing the play. It was a family act, complete with Adams Marionette tee shirts and a special van to transport the stage, performers and puppets.

My husband’s speciality was Rumpelstiltskin. As the little trickster danced his way across the stage, to the tune of  Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours,”  Andrew danced behind the stage, copying his every move. Finally, when Rumpel realized he had been outsmarted by the miller’s daughter, he disappeared in a puff of smoke (baby powder), clang of a cymbal and flash of a camera, never to be heard of again.

After the adult children went their separate ways, John and Maureen continued to attend many puppetry conferences in Canada and the U.S. and hold workshops in Brampton and Toronto.  Several times, they helped my husband and I with Vacation Bible Schools in the churches we served, assisting with puppet making and performances. John died in 2005 and in 2006, Maureen received “The Arts Person of the Year” award for her outstanding contribution to the arts in her  Brampton community.

In early 2011, Maureen’s health declined and we flew from Nova Scotia to see her. I gave her a puppet from Mexico, a gift from my daughter, Andrea. She held the puppet in her worn hands, and stroked and stroked the tiny dress it was wearing. She asked my son, Christopher, to put it up on the bulletin board in her room, where she could see it from her bed. The gift brought her comfort, a reminder of all the stories her puppets had told.

About 9 months after my mother-in-law’s death, I came home one day to find my youngest daughter, Susanna, rehearsing a marionette dance with two high school friends. A short time later, Hansel and Gretel danced upon the stage of Prince Andrew High School, during “The Lonely Goatherd” scene in the school’s production of The Sound of Music. Strings were being pulled for Grandma once again!

Happy Mother’s Day and many joyful memories!

Fran by the Sea

Written by Ruth Ann Adams

May 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Mother's Day