Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Boom, Boom, Pow!

Posted by: Jenn Latino
I have some fund raising shout outs to give!! First, to Stuart and David Hunter from USC. Stuart is my co-worker and one of my greatest cheerleaders, both in the fight against breast cancer and other personal challenges. Stuart is a regular “stepper” herself, always striving for 10,000 steps a day. The Hunter’s were joined this week by two of my favorite breast cancer survivors!! I introduced you last year to two amazing women, Jan Ziegler and Teri Carpenter. Jan was part of the inspiration for me to sign up for the 2009 3-Day and Teri received her diagnosis during my training. I am thrilled to report that both Jan and Teri are now through with their treatment and are cancer free!! Jan is celebrating with an upcoming retirement from the Univ. of SC. I am looking forward to celebrating with her at her shindig in August. I will celebrate with Teri and her entire family on a cruise in December. Take THAT breast cancer! Thanks to both of these ladies for their contributions. You continue to inspire me and all of Team New Kids on the Walk!

This weekend marked the annual summer pilgrimage from Columbia, SC to Fayetteville, NC. Between Joyce and me, we had 4 dogs, 3 children, 1 mini van, 1 SUV (both garnet Nissans), 8 suitcases, and 2 dog crates headed up I-95. All we were missing was granny in her rocking chair tied to the top of the car. We left the 2 birds behind this trip. It was just a weekend visit and we didn’t want to over do it. We haven’t made the trip as a family since Christmas so this was a long anticipated visit to see Mom and Dad/Grandma and Grandpa. (Okay, I totally gave Joe and Linda an upgrade. We were headed to Raeford, NC, not Fayetteville, NC.)

I love this annual trip not only because a weekend with Joe and Linda always means a ton of laughs, usually shared around a table of great food. But also because it’s so much fun to watch the family pile in and cram themselves around my parent’s house. When I say “cram,” I mean it! The house they live in is plenty big for the 2 of them (though the Mickey room upstairs is starting to sag under the weight of the junk-I mean, vintage collectibles.) It is much larger than the house we grew up in. I tell stories about our childhood home on Brentford Dr by telling folks that you couldn’t wear two layers of clothing and still pass each other in the hallway. That hallway was home to the bathroom that housed the ONLY shower in the house. I think my parent’s subscribed to the philosophy that families that live in close quarters form close bonds. It worked!

They were only in their new house for a few years before our family started to grow-quickly! Recent additions of bunk beds for the kids and a few air mattresses have helped but the addition of about 170 pounds of canine seem to fill up any extra space that was created. So, twice a year we revisit the early days and cram in around the kitchen table-that is usually covered with a puzzle-and into the same church pew that Joe and Linda have sat in for 38 years, and we enjoy some quality family time.

Some of that quality time is spent walking the streets of their neighborhood. Joyce is an incredibly supportive sister and is always up for joining me on my walks. Last year we made this trip for Mom’s birthday at the end of July so the walking distances were much further. 10 mile Saturday and 8 mile Sunday, I think. She was a trooper through them all! But, on a holiday weekend, the 3-Day coaches give us a break so this weekend we had the easy schedule of 4 miles on Saturday and 3 on Sunday.

Joyce and I set out both mornings before 7am to beat the heat. On Saturday, most of the house was still asleep but Mom was up and she decided to join us for the first two miles. Once again this year Mom wore her WalMart knock off plastic Croc style shoes. No socks. Joyce hasn’t seen a new pair of shoes since the kids were born so she had her trusty lawn mowing sneakers on. So, there I was in all my fancy walking gear, and my mom and sister, such willing walking partners, were in their ratty sneakers and plastic shoes. Mary Grace was up early on Saturday so she joined us on the rusty beachcomber style bike that is in my parents’ garage. She calls it the “old fashioned” bike. Understatement. We were a sight!

We spent the 4 miles chatting about what was going on in everyone’s life, what we were going to have for lunch, and looking forward to the homemade peach ice cream at Raz’s peach farm down the road. It’s a summer tradition in Raeford and was just the inspiration we needed to keep us walking.

On Sunday, we decided we better do 4 miles again. We had plans to go see Toy Story 3 and judging from the snacks in grandma’s purse, a few extra steps wouldn’t hurt us. My mom joined us for the first 2 miles and Joyce and I booked it through the final 2. It was hot on Sunday, even at such an early hour. The streets were littered with firework debris from the neighbors’ premature celebrations on Saturday night. If you have never celebrated the 4th of July in a military town, you have missed out!! These folks take their Independence Day celebrations very seriously. The displays in the sky above my parents’ neighborhood could give the Disney folks a run for their money.

Just as Joyce and I were starting the final mile, and were deep in conversation about something profound like methods to engage 8th graders and college freshmen in their readings, or the new TLC series Kate Plus 8, we were interrupted by the loudest BANG or maybe it was a POW or perhaps more like a POP (insert whatever onomatopoeia you prefer) that we have ever heard, and it came from under Joyce’s feet! She jumped 10 feet into the air with a scream, I screamed and jumped clear to the other side of the street, both just as Riley jolted forward and started to take off, nearly pulling me down with her. Another note about living in a military town, when you hear loud noises-DUCK!

Once we realized that the noise we heard was a result of Joyce stepping on a firework that was forgotten from the night before, we burst into laughter, and the pee pee dance. The pressure of her foot and the heat of the pavement must have combined to cause the explosion, thus sending us into high steppin’ mode!! We had to take a few moments to gather ourselves before we could continue walking. Luckily, it was still too early for anyone to be out and our embarrassing reaction to a mostly harmless explosive was not observed by any of the Anderson Place residents. Or so we thought. About 4 houses down a woman was sitting on her porch and when she waved and wished us good morning she had a smile on her face that let us know she had enjoyed a few laughs at our startled dances in the street. I was so glad it was Joyce who stepped on it and not me. If I got a burn hole in the bottom of my fancy shoes, I would have been fired up! Pun intended.

The firework wasn’t the only surprise we had this weekend. We loaded up the family on Saturday ready for the first of many summer feasts on homemade peach ice cream only to be met by a handwritten sign that read, “We will open on Monday. -Raz” UGH! Looks like next year we will be moving our visit back to the end of July where there is a guarantee supply of peach ice cream and less likely chances of surprise explosives in the street!

This weekend we have an 8 mile Saturday and 6 mile Sunday. If any of my Columbia friends are up for a few miles, I welcome the company. You never know what kind of adventures you will have when you are training for the 3-Day. Today when we were about 2.5 miles into our 4 mile walk (too far to turn back), Nicci said, “It’s HOT! I just had to state the obvious.” Amen, Sister! IT. IS. HOT. So, stay cool out there, folks. Walk early. Walk late. Drink lots of water before, during, and after your walk. But don’t let Mother Nature get the best of you!! No matter what the thermometer says, we gotta keep steppin’!

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