For Denton mom Laurie Sanda, “all the world’s a stage” – especially the family’s home stage. With two dancer parents, 3-year-old Ariana is star of the show. At the end of a busy workday, it’s not uncommon for the threesome to create their own scripts, sing their own songs or dance their way through dinner.
“Perhaps the most unique thing about me,” says Sanda, “is the fact that I became a mom at age 50 [by in vitro fertilization].” The new mom received sobering news in early 2007, when she was diagnosed and successfully treated for adrenal cancer. Now in remission – and as energetic as ever – Sanda is defying odds and living each day at its fullest.
The mom and dad team, who both serve as adjunct professors of dance and theater, work together to juggle the family’s schedule, all while enveloping their daughter in a creative and enthusiastic environment.
WHO SHE IS
Sanda, daughter of a U.S. Air Force family, spent her childhood years living in cities around the globe. The military family bounced from Hawaii to Japan and New York to Georgia. But, as a child, Sanda loved the adventure.
The young woman quickly found her calling in dance. The talented performer studied dance in college and went on to receive her master’s degree. During her college years, Sanda also cultivated her ability as a choreographer and dance instructor at the University of Iowa.
It’s here, as if by dramatic fate, that Sanda met husband Jeff during the production of an operetta. The couple dated for three years and married, at which time Sanda – with the strong support of Jeff – decided to move the couple to Denton in order for her to complete a doctorate in philosophy of dance at Texas Woman’s University.
Now, as a working mom in Denton, Sanda instructs college-level dance courses at TWU and several other colleges in the Metroplex. She also spends a considerable amount of time lending her creative eye to her hubby’s productions – with the help of the couple’s daughter (and creative whiz) Ariana.
WHAT SHE DOES
Sanda, who spent seven years trying to become a mom, relishes every activity with her beloved daughter. She also maintains a healthful schedule of yoga and dance to balance her body and mind. “We spend our downtime exercising our imagination, particularly with Ariana,” Sanda adds.
During the day, Ariana heads to preschool while the couple spend time with their college-age students. Sanda works as a dance and yoga instructor and choreographer, that is when she’s no editing graduate students’ research papers.
Back at home, the creative mom breaks out the art supplies and encourages her daughter’s painting skills (“she’s a very talented abstract colorist,” Sanda enthuses). They also flex their creativity in the kitchen – the family’s favorite place to spend time together. “We love to cook together, however, Jeff does a lot of the cooking. Ariana is learning to cook her own dishes and she loves it,” Sanda explains.
HOW SHE DOES IT
Because both parents have an odd schedule (they often instruct nighttime courses), it takes two to strike a balance and create a structured regimen for their growing youngster. “Both my husband and I have changing schedules; we have to seek a new balance every semester, depending on when each of us are teaching,” says Sanda. “At one point, we did a pass off of the baby in between classes.”
Ariana doesn’t seem to mind – in fact, according to Sanda, she’s “a veteran of dance concerts.” The savvy mom adds, “I try to mainstream her into my life as much as possible.” While she admits that kids do need a set schedule, Sanda says she’s surprised at how quickly Ariana can adjust to changes in the family’s plans.
“I never thought motherhood would be a walk in the park,” she details, “but I never knew how enjoyable and fulfilling it would truly be.”