Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Posted by: Jenn Latino
I pride myself on staying in touch with friends. I’m a relater (that’s relate-er not the misspelling of someone who sells houses). I coordinate phone dates with friends who live in other states. I email old classmates when I see they have won an award or published an article. I demand that we have (and therefore coordinate) a “girls weekend” once a year during which my best friends and I who live in Columbia, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Atlanta converge on one city for a weekend of PJs and vino. I call people on their birthdays-and I sing. I was Facebook before Mark Zuckerberg even dreamed of the “poke.” (Mom & Dad I will explain that reference later.)

Lately, I have been FAILING at my stay-in-touch efforts. With 2 classes and a few other fun fall commitments at work, most of my evenings are spent grading papers and lesson planning. Weekends are spent walking, and walking, and walking. As a result, my yard needs to be mowed. My hedges are half trimmed where I managed-post walk-to get through 3 of my 7 shrubs before the rain forced me inside on Sunday. My car needs an oil change. My hands need a manicure. My toes are still sporting the engagement party pink that I had put on for my Labor Day adventure in TN. My bathroom hasn’t seen a sponge in months. My “on hold” items at the library have been sitting on the pick up shelf for so long the ink on the hold slip is fading. Today I got an overdue notice for a book I haven’t cracked the spine on yet. Life happens! Sometimes, you can’t fit it all in.

One of my secrets to staying in touch when times are busy is to do a quick “Hi/Lo.” It’s a wonderful tool. It works with my nephews who don’t usually have much to say and are thrilled to just have to answer 2 questions. It works with students who otherwise give me blank stares when I say “How was your week?” And, it’s quick enough to send via text message or online chat to a friend.

Here is how Hi/Lo works. You share one great thing that has happened that day/week and one not so great thing. Easy, right? Your “highest” moment and “lowest” moment. It’s no substitute for a genuine conversation but it makes me feel a little less disconnected.

In the spirit of a quick check in, I thought I’d share a few Hi/Lo events from the week.

HI: I accomplished my longest training walk yet! 15 miles on Saturday. YIPPEE!
LO: Halfway through the walk I finished the audio book I was listening to. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It was fantastic! It brought 20+ hours of listening pleasure to my walks over the past few weeks and I was terribly sad to hear it end.

LO: Rain
HI: I got to break in my new raincoat (twice) and it was wonderful! Kept me dry. Didn’t make me sweat. I was totally cute in my Snapdragon Yellow-exactly what I wanted!

HI: Cooler temperatures! I repeat: COOLER TEMPERATURES!! Walking in 60 degree mornings and 75 degree evenings has put the pep back in my step. Even Riley is marching with her tail a little higher in the air.
LO: Dark mornings. I am counting the days until daylight savings time ends. In the meantime, I am wearing my headlamp on my morning walks. (Related LO: Wearing the headlamp has given me a zit-yes, like a 15 year old in puberty-on my forehead.)

HI: I had a friend join me for some miles on Sunday! My co-worker and neighbor, Karen, met me at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and took me on a new route for a few miles. I was so grateful for the company and Karen was a wonderful tour guide to parts of The Summit that I had never explored.

: The arrival of rain shortened my Sunday walk to about 9 miles when I had planned for 10-12.
HI: The arrival of rain shortened my Sunday walk to about 9 miles! (God bless Mother Nature for knowing just when I needed an excuse to stop.)

: The 3-Day is only 23 days away! I am not sure my feet are quite ready but I am very excited to see Team New Kids. I am sure that with my teammates by my side 20-mile days will seem like nothing. (Either that or I will convince them to carry me. There are 7 of them. They can manage!)

Here’s to wishful thinking!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making the Sale in 28376

Posted by: Jenn Latino
Fundraising for the 3-Day is not an easy task! With 6 of the New Kids still striving to reach their minimum fundraising goal, it is time to pull out the big guns! And by guns, I mean bazookas! Yard Sale Style!

This weekend I was lucky to host the New Kids yard sale with the help, and by help I mean they did all of the work and I just rolled into town on Friday, of my mom and my aunt. Linda and Bunkie are no strangers to yard sales. You will recall that I sang their praises in a previous post: One Family’s Trash What I arrived to was the finest rummage Hoke County has ever seen! My SUV was packed to the tip top with the treasures of my Columbia friends. Mom and Bunk had 2 additional SUVs and a pick up truck loaded and ready to go.

Now, I walk every morning, with the exception of Friday, at 5:45 a.m. I am no stranger to the dark before the dawn. But when Mom gave me the “It’s time to get up” greeting that I groaned at for 18 years, I was not the happiest camper. But I rallied! I mean, after all, it’s not like I had to walk 10 miles. It was just a yard sale!

Just a yard sale. What an understatement! This yard sale was taking place in the front yard of The Bargain Barn. The Bargain Barn is owned by Roger and his lovely wife Wanda Sue. They are the one-stop-shop for all of your antique goodies. In addition to 1,000s of square feet of perfectly organized, certified, “old stuff,” The Bargain Barn sits on a large piece of land with plenty of room for visitors. Every third Saturday Roger opens his lawn to “vendors” and we were among the lucky few this weekend. You have to arrive early to get a good spot by the road and we were in the 2nd and 3rd spaces-excellent real estate!

The traffic in Raeford, NC is not usually very plentiful. This weekend, however, was the annual Turkey Festival! The House of Raeford turkey factory is the Gold sponsor of this annual event and the Hoke County residents anticipate the annual mayhem for weeks in advance. The Bargain Barn is right along the road that leads to downtown Raeford so we were expecting some good traffic!

I would be remiss to those of you who have not visited Raeford if I didn’t give you a brief description of what it is like to drive through the town. Two words: Turkey. Feathers. They are EVERYWHERE! As you pass the House of Raeford, which we did, just before 6am, when the shifts are changing, it looks as if snow has fallen. You are likely to be stopped by an 18 wheeler truck loaded up with…well, since Mandie is one of my most faithful readers, and a vegetarian, I better not go into much more detail. You know where the feathers come from.

Once we got all set up: electronics on one table, candles and glassware on another. Clothes on the rack, books organized by age group under the 2nd knick knack table, large items displayed out front, 4 step ladders displayed prominently near the shoes (because step ladders and shoes make a lot of sense together), and the Team New Kids on the Walk banner and donation jar beautiful hung and displayed. We were open for business!

Throughout the day Roger was a wonderful host. He offered to help with anything we needed as we got set up, shared his kettle corn made by a fellow vendor-which prompted us to get a bag (best $2 we spent all day), and around lunch time came through to ask if anyone wanted a burger from Hardees. It was Roger’s treat but he didn’t take special offers. If you want a burger, you get the one he buys and you can scrape off anything you don’t want. This was not Bunk’s first time at The Bargain Barn event and she had warned me ahead of time of the burger stipulations. Wanda Sue made change for us when we ran out of $1s, and bought a bag full of homemade Christmas ornaments from the “ornament box” in support of our sales efforts.

In addition to our gracious hosts, we met a parade of interesting Raeford residents. From the woman who collects anything Winnie the Pooh (she hit the JACKPOT at our sale) and left with 12 stuffed animals, to the woman who came by 3 times-once by herself, once with a girlfriend, and finally with her husband-and filled her entire backseat with treasures from our booths-the residents were happy to support our team. Mom, dressed in her custom made Atlanta 3 Day pink ribbon shirt, talked boobs with folks, told them about the walk, pointed out “That’s my daughter and she is walking in the Komen 3-Day event. Yea, 60 miles! I know. We are so proud of her!” and thanked them for their support. Bunkie kept the snacks on a steady rotation, and Dad-between loading goodies into customer’s cars, represented the Latino and Garber families at the festival when he went “into town” to see how things were going on Main Street.

The traffic died down as the thermometer inched up and soon it was time to pack it in. Clean up was easier than unloading because we got rid of a lot of crap! By mid afternoon the sale was a wrap and I was tucked away on my folks’ couch enjoying a well-deserved nap!

We made $260, pushing the New Kids a little closer to their goal. Thanks to Roger and Wanda Sue, my mom & dad, Aunt Bunkie & Uncle Lee, and to all of our friends who donated gear to be sold. Mark you calendars now for the 2011 Turkey Festival! It promises to be a fantastic time-and if you get there early enough-you can make a little cash if you set up a booth at The Bargain Barn.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Return of Mr. Pickles

As we are quickly entering into the home stretch of the walk, I feel like I should take some time to thank two very important members of my family for their support throughout this mission...Shannon and the infamous Mr. Pickles. As many of you know, Shannon is my husband and has been supporting me and providing motivation for me to get up and stick with my training. Mr. Pickles is our almost three year old Springer Spaniel with an attitude... he's quite vocal about his wants and  has no problem voicing his opinion. Below you will read a short portion of an actual email I recieved from Mr. Pickes this evening. Nope, I am not kidding, his email address is  try it and see. Up to this point he has been a very supportive part of this training process, but I guess I can't say that anymore...

Dear Floppy Hair,

We have a problem.  For some reason based in perpetual insanity you woke me up again this morning real early to go out for a little walk.  First off, why 5:30?  Really, 5:30?  Is there no other time for this heinous activity?  Moreover, why so far?  5.6 miles, really? Don't you remember we have an orange box that I ride in all the time, why can't we use that?  Heck, I looked like a fool this morning running up to its door thinking I was going  some place fun, like to the park to do things I like to do.  Remember how much I like going to get the ball?  You can't throw it too far for me.  And, remember my speed?  I am sooo fast, it'll make your head hurt.  So why did we have to stop going and start this early morning stuff?
I like a morning walk as much as the next guy, but why so long? I good for about an hour, not four.  And, you didn't throw the ball for me at all?  Are you trying to hurt me?  And, you said that we were going to keep making this a morning thing between now and you breast cancer walk, really? When is that again?  Well, I hope it is tomorrow because I can't take much more of this abuse.  But, if I have to go then I'll be getting ol' Pancake Butt up so he'll share in the misery.  Hey, if he goes well have something to laugh at, I mean, really ... can't you just hear him wheezing now?  Begging for one of those raspberry zingers things he likes so much?  Oh, this is gonna happen because if I have to keep going, then I'll be requiring comedy.  Tomorrow is gonna be so fun.
_Mr. Pickles

So for those of you I don't have the pleasure of knowing for a long time, I hope you've enjoyed your first installment of the Chronicles of Mr. Pickles. By the way: I am "Floppy Hair" and Shannon is "pancake butt"

I always find it as amusing as I do. A great "pick me up" regardless of the type of day. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rainy Days and Sundays

Posted by: Jenn Latino
I am a fairly quick decision maker. I don’t dwell over things. My “gut” typically leads me toward one option or another and I confidently make my choice and move forward. When a decision calls for a more complex process than just the “gut,” I rely on my trusty, no fail, method of Rock, Paper, Scissors. A game of R-P-S aided in my decision to buy my first (and only) brand new car (R.I.P. Winnie the marvelous CRV) and solidified my decision to become a Seminole when the graduate school choices were too overwhelming. It works!! My CRV hung in there for 10 years and nearly 250,000 miles and Florida State University served me well and I landed one of their diplomas on my wall.

I don’t see much need for dwelling over decisions. I find it easier to make a quick choice and then deal with the circumstances (or consequences) that come with it afterwards. Kind of like taking off a band-aid. Just rip it! Then rub it really fast to take the sting away.

This method works in most aspects of my life. I have found only a few situations where decisions do not come quickly. One of those situations is the Komen 3-Day for the Cure! A lot of the decisions that come with the 3-Day process have been challenging for me. From deciding to join in 2009 to choosing just the right “luggage” to carry (do you remember the fanny pack or back pack woes of Captain Kim last year?) there are many very important decisions that daunt a 3-Day walker and it can be quite stressful!

This weekend I had another adventure at REI (you can find a series of REI reports from many of my teammates in the archives of our blog) and, as usual, I spent far too much time trying to make a decision. I do not accept all of the blame for this indecisiveness. REI is like the Ikea of sporting goods. They are only located in really fun, large cities (NOT Columbia, SC) so when you are near one, you just have to go in! And, since the store is larger than some countries, it’s overwhelming!

I was looking forward to my trip to Raleigh this weekend because I needed to make a final purchase to complete my gear for the 3-Day. A raincoat! My logic is, if I have a raincoat, we won’t need it. Last year, we needed it. And, I had my cheap “water resistant” plastic jacket that had accompanied me to several outdoor concerts and sporting events. On Day 1, when the rain started during the opening ceremonies as a light mist and by lunch became a torrential downpour that soaked our sandwiches (and our tushes), my trusty coat was a complete failure. Water resistant and water proof are two very different promises. I actually tested this theory with one of my dad’s watches when I was a child. The same held true then and my dad landed himself a new watch and I am sure I landed myself with some time alone in my bedroom. A water resistant rain coat is about as effective as placing a patio umbrella up in Florida during hurricane season. It may look good, but it’s not going to function well. It resisted the water for a few minutes but quickly became like a second skin, sticking to my arms and chest, anywhere that skin was exposed, and turning my entire body into a Dutch oven! I was wet and roasting in that jacket, making for a less than pleasant first 20 miles. I promised that I would invest in more appropriate rain gear for the 2010 event and, thanks to two of my aunts, I entered REI armed with the funds and the gusto to find just the right jacket.

You might be surprised how many options there are for raincoats! There were at least 5 racks, 4 arms per rack, all completely loaded with an array of rain gear. I eliminated a few immediately based on price tags. Holy cow! My dad has purchased vehicles for less than the cost of a Marmot brand jacket. And it was a BMW! The second elimination was any tag that read “water resistant.” I have already learned that lesson. The third elimination was based on the cuteness factor. While I am the first to admit that the 3-Day is Not for Pretty, there is no excuse for wearing a shiny smock of nylon just because it will keep you both dry and warm in sub zero temperatures. Just layer up in cute sweatshirts and quit whining!

Once I had the initial 3 levels of elimination taken care of, I had 2 racks of rain jacket options to cruise. I tried on 4-5 different styles and decided that the perfect fit, weight, and style was The North Face Venture. This was, conveniently, one of the least expensive options AND I could fit into the Medium!!! Anything with an M on the tag and I am SOLD! Now, color. This is where the real challenge began. The Venture was available at the Raleigh REI in Loganberry red (AKA: Purple), Alpine blue (AKA: Carolina blue), Weimarnar (AKA: Puke Green), and Black. The one I most liked was the Alpine blue. Perhaps an appropriate choice for the walk. It’s the color of both Kim and Meredith’s backpacks and Meredith’s rain jacket so we would be easy to spot in the crowd of walkers. However, if I expect to ever wear this jacket again, say at an NCSU football game….Alpine Blue=Eliminated. The Weimarnar was a definite No! I blame my Fayetteville, NC upbringing for my complete aversion to anything camouflage tone. The Loganberry was just too, well, loganberry. I began to settle on the black. This process of selecting the very cute and affordable North Face Venture took nearly 45 minutes. I was in a hurry to get back to the house in time for the 8pm football game so I needed to pick up the pace. Still not 100% sure of my choice, I sent a text to Captain Kim and asked what she thought. After a quick affirmation that I definitely could not be caught dead in Alpine blue, she reminded me that after the rain often comes the very bright and very warm sun. If I had a black jacket, that may make for a very sweaty walk. TRUE! Last year after the down pour we faced an incredibly sunny and humid afternoon. Black=Eliminated.

Completely frustrated, I left REI empty handed.

Certain that my inability to make a decision was only because I had no one to talk through things with, I conned/convinced Dana to go back to REI with me on Sunday. It wasn’t difficult to do. I told her that I saw a few clearance racks in the cycling section and that was all it took. Dana had full agreement that the Alpine blue was not an option. She wasn’t very helpful beyond that. But, on Sunday, we met Jacob, a friendly (maybe too friendly) sales associate who took a very keen interest in my rain jacket selection. Jacob brought a variety of rain gear to the space were I was camped out near the full-length mirror. He started with the $300+ jackets. I had to school Jacob pretty quickly on my Saturday adventure. My time with Jacob was not very efficient or effective. At one point he took me to the back room (the brains of REI) to look on the computer and see if any other stores had the Venture in another color. Dana had long disappeared to the sunglasses display across the store and I was a little concerned that no one would know that I was in the back room with a strange sales associate. The shorter version of this very long story of my indecisiveness is that I let Jacob convince me that the REI brand of rain jacket was very similar to the Venture, with even a few more features. For only $20 more, he thought I would be very happy with this choice. The REI jacket came in a lime green that matched my CamelBak so I conceded and left, a little disappointed, with this jacket. We weren’t even out of the parking lot when I looked at Dana and said, “I don’t want this jacket.” I left it in Raleigh for her to return.

I am frustrated with this process. I’m frustrated with myself for being so indecisive. I’m frustrated with REI for not carrying the really cute colors that they have on the North Face website. I’m going to order the jacket online. It will be the jacket I want. In Melon Red (AKA: NC State Red). THIS jacket. And I hope, even after all this, that we won’t need it after all.
As I was wrapping up this blog, I had the feeling that some of my thoughts were quite familiar. After a quick review of last year’s blog postings, I found that yes, in fact, some of my sentiments from this week also appeared in the 2009 post: An Ounce of Faith is Just Enough. This may be the first step toward the devastating revelation that I, a girl with the gift for gab, may be running out of original thoughts (and words!). Good thing there are only 4 more posts before the big event!

Next week I’ll be sharing the exciting updates from the New Kids on the Walk yard sale that is happening Saturday! My car is loaded up with lots of treasures from the Columbia crew and Mom and Bunkie have been gathering goodies from the Fayetteville gang. We have a prime location in downtown Raeford and the weather is looking great! I hope we make Million$!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Inspires Me...

I recently received an email announcing the passing of a Kappa sister. She wasn't anyone I'd ever met but she was someone I admired. Kelln Zimmer was a 29 year old attorney. She was a leadership consultant for Kappa Kappa Gamma. She was my age. She passed away from breast cancer.

Most people think that breast cancer effects older women. That wasn't the case with Kelln and isn't the case for so many women. Kelln was diagnosed at the young age of 22 with breast cancer. It was during the year that she spent traveling for Kappa Kappa Gamma. She began treatment and continued to travel to chapters for the rest of the year.

I first heard Kelln's story when she wrote an article for the Kappa magazine, The Key. She spoke with such eloquence and courage. Her story is one that stuck with me. I remember reading it and thinking that this young woman was so brave and I didn't know if something like that had happened to me that I would go forward with so much dignity.

Kelln went on to law school and fought a re-occurrence the disease while attending classes. She became a successful attorney and her life was cut all too short by this awful disease. Kelln is going to be on my heart during this year's walk. Breast cancer isn't just for older women. It is now striking down women in their prime, young girls, and even men. Kelln inspires me to walk 60 miles this year and to keep walking until we find a cure.

You can read Kelln's powerful words here and here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Got Mail?

You've Got Mail
There’s nothing like a letter from a loved one to inspire us to keep going. Friends, family and supporters can write a letter to their favorite New Kid on the Walk, which will be delivered to us on the event at the 3-Day for the Cure Camp Post Office.

Send letters to:
3-Day for the Cure PO
12195 Highway 92, Suite 114-392
Woodstock, GA 30188

Envelopes only, please. No boxes or large packages. Mail must be postmarked no later than October 12 in order to ensure delivery at the 3-Day for the Cure Camp Post Office. This address is not the actual location of camp, but a PO Box for mail delivery only. Any mail that is not retrieved by the participant by November 7 will be destroyed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The 3-Day Is Not For Pretty!

Posted by: Jenn Latino

Shout outs for two more donations this week from Bill Mattera and Jennie Duval! As I have said before, when you work in higher education, your co-workers become your friends and those friends are often like family. Bill and I were co-workers and classmates at FSU. I can’t share most of our adventures because my mother reads this blog but if there was ever a partner in crime, Bill is it! Through countless weekends in Disney World and 2 seasons of football festivities, Bill has always been a huge supporter of “Team Jenn!” Jennie D. is a current co-worker who, every Monday, without fail, starts the week asking me “How were your walks this weekend?” No matter how busy it is in the office, Jennie always takes the time to listen to my stories. And, when I need a boost (like today), Jennie the Candy Fairy shows up with a little treat to get me through the afternoon.

I am always honored when someone makes a donation to the Komen Foundation in recognition of my efforts. That is, after all, why we walk! I’m even more honored that, even though I have met my fundraising goal (and exceeded it by $247) every week I have more to report.

There are still a few New Kids who are trying to reach the fundraising minimum of $2300. If you are planning to make a donation, considering crediting the amount to one of my teammates! I’ll still give you a proper Shout Out in my weekly update! You can find the links to all of our pages at: Team New Kids on the Walk

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Friends, War Wounds, and Battle Scars

Like Jenn, I did a mental jump for joy on Sept. 1, not only because it is my BFF Melissa’s birthday, but because Aug is over. Orientations are over, move in days are complete, school is once again in session, and best of all the much anticipated football season is under way!! For all of you out there that don’t understand the dedication to college football in the South (and throughout the country), we plan weddings (and funerals) around game time, ladies and gents easily drive multiple hours to stand outdoors all day in 90+ degree heat—in their Sunday best nonetheless--and best of all we get up at 5:30 on a Sat morning just so we can get all our miles in before kickoff. But it is all Ok because IT IS GAMEDAY and this is dedication.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking For(ward to) the Magic

Posted by: Jenn Latino
An update on Team Ashley

I have to start this blog with an update from last week. I had 3 responses from folks regarding the mysterious “Team Ashley” bumper stickers that I have seen.

1. Dana was the first to chime in guessing that it was either a nod to a professional male soccer player named Ashley OR a young woman in Columbia who died a few years ago from a terminal illness. The “Team Ashley” stickers were her friend’s effort to rally support for Ashley and to memorialize her.

2. My friend Julie (who lives in Miami but has mad Google skills) got it exactly right and shared a link to a social media page for Ashley Dent.

3. Julie’s story was backed up by local gal, Viki Fecas, who not only confirmed that Ashley was a young woman from Columbia but also that she died from a battle with cancer. Here is the link to her obituary honoring a life too short:

Thanks for all of the work uncovering Ashley’s story. I had no idea when I inquired about the stickers that yet another story of a life lost too soon because of cancer would be the story that was uncovered. Another reminder that the work we are doing is important.