Monday, December 26, 2011

# 159 - Sunny Prevents Boredom

Our youngest daughter is now 21 years old. How can this have happened? Yes, the years have passed by, one after the other, and suddenly those years have added up to give us an adult daughter. Our baby is a grown woman.

I only have two biological children, two daughters. Stefanie is my second precious child, my last baby. Deputy Dave and I never cared about whether we would have a boy or a girl, we simply wanted healthy babies...and we wanted two children. God gave us what we asked for and so much more. He blessed us.

Stefie became this bubbly little baby with a ready smile and a giggle at anything that moved.

Soon, she earned the name of "Sunny" because I felt that every morning, upon rising...whether it was raining or shining, I knew that my Sunny Baby Girl would be brightening my day. Through the years, she remained true to her nickname. Sunny smiled nonstop and brought great happiness into our home. And that girl loved to dance.

Stefie's highschool days would put hurdles in her path; injuries that she would have to overcome; leadership qualities that she would sharpen; and the juggling of life would be confronted in large ways.

Over the past few weeks, I wanted to write something specific about Stefie, but it's difficult to narrow a part of Sunny's life to focus upon because she constantly lives a rich, full life. But, her highschool years are still a short distance behind us. During Stefie's highschool years, she danced on the highschool's drill team. 

Not only did she dance, she also applied for a rigorous position as Officer on the team, a leadership position with great responsibility...this meant that she would often get to school much earlier than the rest of the students and she'd stay hours later than most other students, most an officer, she was only able to leave after everyone else had cleared out.

Then, she rarely had a weekend to herself; most weekends were dedicated to performing either at football games or traveling for a competition here in Texas or maybe even in Louisiana.

One of the most admirable traits that Stefie displayed during these challenging years was her genuine caring attitude about doing a good job for her school and being a good officer on her team. She worked hard to earn a great GPA to qualify her to be a Texas Honors student, and she also attended classes to give her dual credit...highschool credit and college credit, all in one. Do I feel like bragging on my baby? Well partner, I think the answer to that question would be "YES!"

That girl is focused. Her work ethic always impresses me. (Exception: Her room is horrendous...there had to be a flaw somewhere! I'm hoping this area will tomorrow.)

Most of all, Stefie knew how to say "no" and she did not feel compelled to attend every function or party that beckoned her presence; she stayed on track with her responsibilities.

Even through some pretty bad injuries, Sunny marched onward and did her best in spite of her suffering and weeks of frustrating recoveries. In the below picture, you can see her shoulder in a sling after she had been in dance practice, doing stretches, and suddenly her shoulder completely popped out of place.

It did look rather grotesque. The sports medicine physical therapist for the school and the school nurse were not much help, but Stefie managed to eventually put her severely dislocated shoulder back into place. However, the school sports therapist bandaged her shoulder area with a huge ice pack tucked in place as a temporary stabilization.

As for Stefie's shoulder, the orthopedic doctor warned her that if this shoulder continued to come out of socket, then she'd need surgery to tighten the shoulder socket. None of that sounded good to Stefie. She wore her sling according to doctor's orders for the next several weeks. And yes, it would come out of socket again down the road, but she'd always jam it back into socket, without any help. She's a brave gal. So far, no surgery has been needed, but she's not dancing full-time either.

Next broken bone...the picture below is taken during the precious pre-broken bone moments...

Such a happy, sweet smile --- no pain --- just excitement about performing with her highschool friends and enjoying a good old Texas football game.

On this particular night, while performing a Halloween dance on the football field, Stefie was doing high kicks and other power athletic movements when she came down on her foot, hard. There was a snap. Still on the field, Stefie continued to do her routine, then she walked off the field in perfect organized form, then she collapsed when off the field.

The ankle immediately began to swell, inside her white performance boots.

After the game, her kitty expression became more and more sad, tinged with frustration as we realized that dancing would be out of the question for quite some time so that the broken bone could heal. Sad, but cute Halloween kitty.

Onto the Emergency Room I took her. After an x-ray and some orthopedic consultations, it was revealed that her ankle was indeed broken. I could not believe that she'd been so dedicated to finishing her routine that she'd finished her performance on a broken ankle with a smile. She didn't flinch in front of an entire stadium of onlookers.

However, she did smile once again --- after she was able to get her hot pink cast!

Even though Stefie had several bad injuries to interrupt her dancing, she always recovered faster than seemed possible and went back to doing her best to be the best.

And to any ignorant person who doesn't understand the complexity, the physical demands, and the athleticism of dance, I say, "Try to do those splits. Better yet, jump into the air and land on the ground in the splits or do a high kick that is so powerful that you hit your own nose with your shin bone."

Each sport has its respective difficulties and technical challenges, my hat is off to each of them.
We were all proud of her, including her big sister, Heather, a fellow competitive dancer.

This Momma was often videotaping the dance performance and so overwhelmed with being impressed by Stefie's abilities that I would be speechless. Deputy Dave and I had a favorite past-time and that was to watch Stefie dance.

Scary, Zombie dance. Creepy.

Hip-Hop Dance.

Lyrical style - ballet and jazz.

When there weren't performances, there were fund raisers and car washes to attend...

...and banquets.

...banquets where daddy had to change his daughter's flat tire while wearing his nice clothes. But, it was alright. Where is the fun in getting all dressed up if nothing out-of-the-ordinary happens?

Above all, one of the best perks of having a daughter dance on the team while wearing all of that stage make-up was to get the red-lip kiss on our cheek to prove that we are "The Parent."

For a few years, our lives were extra chaotic and rushed and the expense for dancing was steep, but the payoff was more than we expected. The memories, the lessons, the discipline, the teamwork, the beautiful moments...watching our daughter show a strength that we'd not known she could muster, knowing that she worked to overcome any hurdle that got in her way...all while being an academically strong student...geesh...we were impressed by our daughter and her diligence.

Even today, our Sunny impresses us to no end! She is a tiny thing, but she is jam-packed full of potential in action. As her daddy says, she's a little dynamo.

And I am very grateful to have a daughter who has been such a sweet daughter to me. She treats me even better than a mother could hope to be treated. She is full of love, patience, compassion, and she is one very thoughtful person.

I wonder how we raised this child? Then I remember that we had God's guidance; we had God's help. There's no way we could've done this child-rearing thing on our own. There HAD to be a power greater than ourselves!! God lived in our home with us, even through the ups and downs, we had God to call upon. God forgave my potty mouth moments and our wrong decisions. Thank God for his gift called MERCY!!!

Our family stuck together through thick and thin...and I can honestly tell you that those thick moments are difficult to get through, unless everyone is willing to do their part and sometimes prayer carries you through.

And my Stefie is definitely blessed.

Sassy Moment

I am blessed, my husband is blessed...yes the blessings are thick around here as we continue to watch our baby girl grow fully into womanhood. And may God always be with her. As for us parents, we will continue to do our best to love and support her during her every effort. She'll make plenty right and wrong decisions of her own, but we'll love her through each one of them.

So much of life is now in her capable hands, but we're still around and enjoying life's moments with the one who will always be our baby girl.

The prayer today, just for the moment, is that she will have a lasting passion to feel the music and to dance. May she never be afraid to dance. May she honor the rhythm that God put into her soul, and may she always hear internal drums giving her a reason to walk with a bit more joy in her step.



ImSoVintage said...

What a beautiful special daughter you have. I can see why you are so proud of her.

Vickie said...

We did all that with our daughter, Lana. I know where you're coming from! We started when Hayley was 3 - she wanted tap and ballet, then started dance and cheer and gymnastics on up through school, and competitions, and more competitions, jr high cheerleader, drill team in high school, more competitions. Whew! We loved every single minute, followed them wherever they went. When it was over, it was a big relief, but it taught her SO much about team spirit, about sharing, being confident in herself and her abilities, YOU know - you see it in your Stefie. You brought back good memories today, Lana - our baby girl is 23, but that training will impact them forever!