Let me pre-curse this post with a very important life tip: never take a pregnancy test on a Friday night with a house full of family when you aren’t trying to get pregnant. Just trust me.
When I found out I was pregnant, not only did I go through a stage of denial and then panic, I quickly realized that if this test wasn’t lying to me, I would be having a baby during baseball season. While this statement may not mean much to you, I was immediately horrified as I imagined a lonely pregnancy in Cincinnati without family, friends or a husband half of the time, growing a human during the most stressful months of the year, Mat possibly missing the birth of our first child. The list goes on. I cried for WEEKS.
While we didn’t plan on having a baby just yet, we planned on one day planning it so that our first child would be born in the off-season for all sorts of (hopefully) obvious reasons. I somehow managed to forget that we live life on the no-plan plan and here it was- another curve ball that I wasn’t ready for (excuse the corny baseball pun, I had to do it).
Back to choosing the timing of a pregnancy test wisely, four weeks went by and it was finally time to go to the doctor to confirm that this stick wasn’t a liar. I was living in a little bit of shock with a side of disbelief in the meantime. As you probably know by now, a little Latos was in fact on the way and we were told when our little alien would make it’s way into the world. The first thing I did was open my MLB At Bat app to confirm the last thing that I ever wanted to see- my due date falling right in the middle of a road trip. MOTHER OF GOD.
Earlier last year, a handful of athlete’s and their wives caught a whole lot of criticism for having babies during their husband’s respective sports season causing said athletes to miss games for paternity leave. Some sports talk personalities even went so far as to say that the athlete’s should not have missed games for the births of their children referencing reasons like it being the second child, playoffs, etc. I watched all of this unfold in horror as I sat there making my own little human who could possibly one day inconvenience the sports world. GREAT. While it shouldn’t have affected me, hearing all of that negative banter about an already insane situation (in my mind) just added to my anxiety. To each their own but child-birth was easily on my top 3 list of fears and I couldn’t imagine going through it without my best friend by my side.
While a due date is nothing more than a possible day that your baby MIGHT come, you still have to operate as if that’s the day you need to be ready and I had three choices. The first was a natural . The pro here is that this is generally the most healthy, best option for both mother and baby. The con was that there would be a good chance that Mat would not be able to make it back on time once I went into labor as he was scheduled to be on the road a few days before and after my actual due date. That was a huge (emphasis on HUGE) con for me right off the bat so I wrote this option off almost immediately. The two choices left were to plan to induce labor or plan a c-section.
I won’t go through the laundry list of reasons why a c-section was more appealing to me given our situation but I will tell you this- this was one of the hardest decisions of my life. Fortunately my due date was close enough to an off-day to schedule baby extraction surgery on that day. This decision allowed for Mat to be in the hospital with us all day and return to work the following day. Landon was born on a Monday and Mat was scheduled to pitch that Thursday. As daunting as my in-season child-birth once seemed, it actually worked out perfectly as Mat didn’t have to miss a start to be there.
MLB allows players 3 days for paternity leave so Mat slept at the hospital with us and went to work from there until we were released. He took his paternity leave once we were allowed to come home and then he met up with the team in Baltimore. There was no point in him sitting in the hospital with us for three days so we decided that it would be best that he take his time off once we were allowed to come home to make the adjustment to life with a newborn a little easier. Plus, with a ten-day road trip right around the corner, I was worried that he wouldn’t have enough bonding time. I was worried that I would feel like a nightmare post surgery. I was worried that he would be stressed out. It’s accurate to say that there is not much I wasn’t worried about at that point.
Speaking of points, I’m not sure where I’m going with this post other than to do what I always do- humanize the game. I am in no way trying to paint a picture of a sob story or even complain about our situation because we are #BLESSED, but people can be so quick to be cruel about a number of things that they may not fully understand. It would be unfair of me not to acknowledge that things could have been much more complicated. Imagine if Mat was in the minors and it was a financial burden to travel. Imagine if the baby came early and he couldn’t get back on time despite my meticulous planning. Imagine the military dads who are overseas when their children are born.
While there are always scenarios where “things could be worse” (or more complicated), this is our story. Countless people criticized my decision for a planned c-section but I knew that this was the only reasonable scenario given the circumstances and nobody had to experience it but me. I cannot express enough that it is so, SO kind to think before you offer unsolicited opinions on personal matters. It’s easy to judge but it’s never too soon or too late for a reminder that we don’t always know what goes on “behind closed doors”.
In a word, this year has been weird. Couple of long trips to the DL for Mat with a long trip to the PL (pregnancy list) for me and things just got funky. Funky and weird are not synonymous with terrible by any means, it’s just the simple fact that Mat wasn’t playing in games and I was relatively secretly growing a human.
Lots of tip toeing around social media took place. A few panic attacks came with the slip-ups of TV guys. Finally, we went to the Hall of Fame gala and I was just over it. I posted a picture on my Instagram account of Mat and I, Mat’s hand ever so gently on my belly and I managed to only make one joke about having eaten too many burritos. Success.
Little did anyone realize I was 37 and a half weeks along and, up until that point, I had spent a crafty amount of time in baggy clothes and avoiding most social situations. I’m not even kidding when I tell you that I found a black shirt at Urban Outfitters in San Diego that hid the alien bump like a champ and ordered 10 online when I got home. TEN. I proceeded to wear these shirts basically every day past the seven-month point, when I actually started to look pregnant rather than just plump or chubby or like I had missed 399 work outs.
It wasn’t that these glorious black shirts made me look good, because they didn’t. In fact, they’re terrible in their own right. But perfectly baggy. Unassuming. Safe. My own personal pregnancy invisibility cloaks.
The only thing I really had to hide over the past 40 weeks was my sanity and there was simply no other way to protect it. With pregnancy comes the most obscene amount of personal questions and fact pedaling and while I love staying connected via social media, I had no idea how pregnancy hormones and ridiculous commentary from all corners of the Internet would go together. I am confident that I made a great choice.
Let me just tell you that you guys missed out on a lot of funny material as my friends had to put up with my nonsense all on their own because instead of putting my random thoughts into tweets, I actually sent them to my “real-life friends” like it was 2007 or something (don’t worry guys… I’m back to tweeting).
Now that it’s been a week, I’m not sure how I will handle social media as a mom. I swore I would never be “one of those moms who posts pictures of my babies planet baby gear, matching perfectly with me, all of the time” and as it turns out, I lied. I wasn’t even planning on saying anything about having a baby until the Reds had to announce the roster move for paternity leave and yet I found myself posting a picture from the hospital because I was so excited and filled with love that I would have screamed it from a mountain top had I not been on bed rest (that might be a stretch because that actually sounds really taxing but you know what I mean).
So. Here I am. Here you are. Here my blog is, getting the cobwebs dusted off of it. And, here our son is …
Landon Marshall Latos.
Thank you to ALC Watkins photography for capturing this image! This is not a paid endorsement or even one that Jennifer knows about but from one mom to another- if you’re looking for a maternity, birth or newborn photographer in Cincinnati, I strongly suggest that you look her up: http://alcwatkinsphotography.com
Disclaimer: This is going to be one of my venting posts. Maybe I’m not venting as much as I’m just thinking “out loud” because its 9 p.m. in Goodyear, Arizona, both my husband and my pooch are already passed out (sawing logs) and I’ve had some stuff on my mind for the past few weeks…
As my close friends who are all currently pretty far away know, I’ve been doing a good amount of whining this spring training. I’m not proud but I’m not perfect and I’m sure in the hell not content 24/7 so it is what it is. Every time I complain, I feel some kind of guilty. Maybe I consider how fortunate I am. Maybe I realize that things could be worse. Maybe I think of all of the people who would be quick to call me names if I expressed my current feelings on social media. Maybe… Just maybe I know that I have nothing serious to complain about but that still doesn’t change the fact that I just don’t feel like a ray of sunshine all of the time.
There are many baseball ladies who do not accompany their significant others to spring training. Some have children who are in school, some have other responsibilities at home, and for some, it’s not even a possibility due to financial restrictions or job schedules. You will find many MLB and MiLB ladies out there as we speak who are bummed because their favorite dude left for spring and they won’t see him for a few weeks or even months. That’s not me. Like every other season, I packed my junk and made the temporary move to Arizona because that’s just how we do it.
In the past, spring training was always a temporary move leading to another temporary move. There were seasons where we didn’t even know where we would end up at the end of it and others where we drove over from San Diego and then back to an apartment with a ton of unpacked boxes for decorations because I knew we wouldn’t be there long anyway and it was just inefficient to unpack things we didn’t really need just to pack them up again. Last season, we flew back to Cincinnati and stayed at the Westin, living out of suitcases for a while. Looking back, I guess my jokes about being a gypsy were never a joke at all.
The difference this spring training is that we actually have a home to miss (an even bigger reason to feel ridiculous for not putting my super happy Stepford wife face on every day). Granted, I have no actual desire to be home without my guy yet I can’t help but miss waking up to foot warmers in the form of cats sleeping on my feet and 3 huge dogs slobbering all over the place. I just want to drink coffee in my own kitchen while I plan out my errands for the day. I miss my gym. My routine. My friends. My sister. I might even miss the lady down the street who always thinks we’re speeding because our cars are loud. The thermostat in our bedroom that always makes it either too hot or too cold- I kinda miss that too.
I refuse to believe that these feelings make me ungrateful or unaware of my blessings. I’m thankful to wake up every day in sunny Arizona to my husband’s 6 am alarm (okay, I hate the alarm). It’s nice that he gets home from work at a decent hour and aside from a knee injury, there’s been nothing serious to stress about.
When I get back home, there will be a ton of chaos and I will no longer have afternoons to spend with Mat. He’ll be working 10 hours a day IF he’s even in town. I’ll be holding the fort (read: the zoo) down and trying not to miss him or my flights every other week. I’ll probably even get a little frustrated every now and then. As the months progress, I may even start looking forward to a little off-season peace. Who knows. I might just be a human with real human feelings and everything! (crazy, right?)
It doesn’t take any deep reflection to know that one of the greatest challenges is learning to appreciate the present no matter how blue the past, how bright the future or how screwed up things might get at any given moment. But I don’t think that looking back, looking forward or appreciating your current situation has to be a mutually exclusive mindset. What I’m saying here is- don’t do what I do and feel bad about feeling bad from time to time. (I’ve almost decided that it’s okay to stop beating myself up about this. almost.)
I’m no authority to tell you what to do but I’m pretty certain that feelings are feelings and they are valid no matter how silly or irrational they might seem to others or even yourself when you really step back and think about it. As much as I keep expressing that I want to be home, I know that being in Cincinnati right now would have its own set of challenges.
What I’m trying to say here is that the grass may seem greener but it’s never, ever easy and all we can really do is try our best to make what we can out of what we have at any given time. And you know what- if you want to feel grumpy despite the number of things you have to be grateful for, feel grumpy. (Just try not to do it too often because that’s no fun.)
After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right? Right. It’s only then that you can choose to fix the things that don’t bring you happiness or you can learn to be at peace with them.
Happy happy hunting.
I would like to start this post off by saying that I absolutely love the name of this event. If we ever expect to help people overcome hardships, not only do we have to provide a helping hand but we absolutely have to establish a system that will assist them in reclaiming independence and building a new life.
This off-season we were fortunate enough to be able to do a little volunteer work at the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky. I was more than impressed with the dedication of the staff, the way the shelter is run as well as what it offers residents. While we sadly wont be able to attend this event as we will still be in Arizona for spring training, I am asking you guys to check it out, spread the word, attend if it strikes a chord in your heart or even make a donation if you would like to.
Homeless to Hopeful is an event to raise awareness about homelessness and it is taking place on Friday, February 28th from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Notre Dame Academy Theater.
Following is the official press release for the 2nd Annual Homeless to Hopeful Event:
This winter has proven to be a challenge for all of us, but especially for those who are homeless. The Emergency Shelter of NKY has sheltered already this winter close to 400 adults and Family Promise of NKY that sheltered family was full every night. Local statistics within the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, indicate an overall 18% increase in homelessness. ESNKY is also searching for a new home to ensure that we continue have the one and only cold weather shelter in our region.
The 2nd annual Homeless to Hopeful event will raise awareness of homelessness in our own NKY community. Videos with real testimony as well as live speakers will be a part of the event. Jessica Noll, from WPCO will act as emcee. The event will also feature basket raffles and a silent auction to raise funds for both Family Promise and the Emergency Shelter of NKY. Mat Latos has provided a signed jersey and baseball. Wine baskets, round trip airline tickets and other themed baskets will be available.
Tickets: $15.00 for adults $5.00 for students (college/high school/grade school)
To purchase tickets: Call Janet at Family Promise 859-431-6840
Thank you for taking the time to read about a cause that is very important to us! A little bird told me that you might find some items autographed by Mat in the silent auction…
This post is sort of another recipe and sort of another plant-based cooking tutorial. Gluten-free pasta is great and all but if you are really interested in packing the nutrients into your meals, I highly suggest that you learn how to cook a spaghetti squash (you can google it but I’ll write a post on this soon) and that you invest in a julienne peeler to make “noodles” out of raw zucchini.
I purchased my julienne peeler from Williams-Sonoma at the Kenwood mall in Cincinnati but you can also find them on their website HERE. When I am in more of a hurry, I use this spiral slicer from Bed Bath & Beyond. Find it HERE. I LOVE the spiral slicer but the difference here is that the julienne peeler will set you back about $10 while the spiral slicer will set you back $30. If you’re not sure you’ll be making a ton of veggie noodles, that may not be a wise investment for you.
To make this dish, you will need:
A julienne peeler or spiral slicer
Seasoning of choice (I used Flavor God’s garlic lover’s seasoning)
Sea salt to taste
4-6 mushrooms (sliced and then halved) (depending on size)
8 cherry tomatoes (or similar) (cut into quarters)
4 oz of pesto sauce (give or take a little)
(Note: you can make your own pesto if you have a food processor but I don’t always have time for that so I picked up Le Grand brand pesto which can be found near the dairy products at the Fresh Market near Kenwood. I’m pretty sure every grocery store has pesto though.)
(If you’re not into the vegan thing, see recommended modifications at the end of this recipe)
– First, use your julienne peeler or spiral slicer to create noodles out of the zucchini. They will be very full of water so I usually use a paper towel to squeeze them and get some of the water out once I am done peeling them into a bowl. Once you have drained some water out, set them aside.
(Note: if you plan to cook/heat the zucchini noodles, having some water will be beneficial but if you ever plan to eat them cold, you will want to essentially ring the noodles out.)
– Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and heat for a minute at medium heat. Add about a teaspoon (or 1 clove) of garlic and sauté for about a minute. Now add your mushrooms and continue to saute for about 3 minutes or until the mushrooms look done. Set aside.
– Rinse your skillet out with warm water (or wipe it down to get mushroom residue out) and another 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, heat for a minute over medium heat. Now add your zucchini noodles to the pan to heat them up. In order to not turn them to mush, don’t stir them. You want to move them around the pan gently.
– Once the zucchini noodles are mostly heated, add the mushrooms back to the pan and season with your seasonings of choice. If you don’t have Flavor God garlic lover’s seasoning, I would recommend that you go with some garlic powder and parsley and of course, sea salt.
– Toss together and then add pesto sauce. Continue to toss in the skillet until it is all heated and then move the zucchini and mushroom to your serving dishes.
– Return skillet to heat and add tomatoes. You aren’t trying to cook the tomatoes, only to warm them a bit. Toss them around the skillet for no more than a minute then top your “pasta” dish with them and VOILA!!! A 13 minute meal packed with nutrients. (Each serving includes 2 zucchinis, 3 mushrooms, and 4 little tomatoes… take that, suggested daily vegetable servings!)
I always suggest modifications because I am not strictly a vegan eater. When I cook, I usually like to use a vegan base recipe. Sometimes, I will serve it as is and other times, I will add meat or even a little cheese depending on the time of day and how I am feeling.
If you wish to add cheese to this dish, I recommend a shredded mozzarella cheese. (I added cheese half-way through eating this just so I could see how it would taste and it was so good it was basically criminal.)
If you are looking to keep this dish paleo and would like to add some meat, I suggest you either sauté some shrimp in olive oil and garlic and add them at the very end or that you add chicken. If I were to add chicken, I would either cut chicken breast into bite sized pieces and cook it in a skillet or you could even bake garlic and herb chicken breast and serve it on the side. To avoid using a ton of oil when cooking chicken, using chicken broth to either bake or sauté it works wonders.
Some random kitchen science notes:
– Always be aware of what type of oil you are cooking with. Not every oil is intended to be heated to every temperature. Olive oil really shouldn’t be used to cook anything above medium heat as high heat causes it to produce potentially harmful bi-products (some have been linked to cancer). Coconut oil however is great to use when cooking at high-temperatures.
– Sea salt is definitely a step up from table salt when it comes to your health but if you happen to see it, pick up Himalayan sea salt. It is a pinkish color and can usually be found on the spice isle. Instead of explaining all of the things that are wrong with table salt and even some sea salt, I encourage you to check out this LINK if you feel so inclined. (It’s much more informative than me giving you a brief summary as the article hits on all of the major points from a nutrition/health perspective.)
– Although it’s easier to just add everything to a skillet and cook it all at once, I find that you can create a much more dynamic flavor if you cook each ingredient separately, “set aside” and combine them at the end. I use this same method of “making things a bigger pain in the butt than they have to be” for almost every dish I cook (slow cooker and soup cooking not included). If you don’t typically do this, try it out the next time you cook and see if you can tell the difference. It’s more of a layered flavoring effect rather than just giving the dish one overall flavor.
Happy kitchen experimenting!
I didn’t want to put this whole thing in the title of this blog post but we shall call this dish:
Vegan Quinoa Pasta with Brussel Sprouts, Mushrooms, Shallots and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
(Did I mention this takes about 20 minutes?)
Whenever I post a recipe, I don’t imagine that you will follow it to a T but I do hope that you can use it for some inspiration in your kitchen. I came up with this recipe as I went along and it turned into something that I will likely put into my starting rotation of staple dinner options. (You know when you make a large serving and imagine you will only eat part of it and then suddenly your plate is empty? That happened).
Notes: I used quinoa pasta due to a gluten intolerance. I prefer it over other gluten-free pasta options (brown rice pasta, etc.) for both the taste and the nutritional benefits. It should be noted that I always cook quinoa pasta at least one minute past the recommended maximum time and that I have successfully tricked my husband into eating it on multiple occasions. If you cook it even a minute less than it needs, I highly doubt you will like it so if you have never cooked it before, I recommend that you taste a noodle every minute or so past the recommended minimum cook time to gain an understanding of the cooking process. Once it is fully cooked, you should not be able to taste much of a difference between quinoa pasta and the good old starchy pasta most of us have grown to love.
I am not going to specify many exact measurements in this recipe because it’s really all about personal taste preferences and how many you are serving. Feel free to substitute the vegetables I chose for some of your own favorites.
Ingredients for two servings:
Olive Oil (just keep it on hand)
4 oz Sun-dried tomato pesto sauce
1-2 cups of vegetable broth
1 Shallot (finely chopped)
2 Handfuls of halved brussel sprouts
1-2 Handfuls of chopped mushrooms
2 Servings worth of angel hair pasta (your preference of pasta type)
Salt and pepper to your tastes (I prefer Himalayan sea salt for health reasons)
Seasoning of your choice
My choice: I used dried parsley and the Garlic Lover’s seasoning made by Flavor God which can be purchased here: http://www.flavorgod.com/
I really enjoy using Flavor God Seasonings in my kitchen because they are made fresh weekly, gluten-free, paleo, low salt and delicious. Basically a win-win-win. (check out the ingredients in some of the things in your spice cabinet and see if you can find anything in there that you don’t recognize… you probably can… creepy)
If you don’t conveniently have any Flavor God Garlic Lover’s seasoning, I think either fresh garlic or garlic powder with the parsley or some of your other favorite Italian seasonings would be delicious.
Cooking tip: Chop all of your veggies before you get started. Not only does it make for a seamless, stress-free cooking experience but you can pretend like you are a fancy chef with a cooking show if you’re into that sort of thing. (The second part of that tip was entirely useless but it’s the truth.)
Check the time on the package of the pasta you have chosen to use and decide when to start cooking it so that it will be done around the same time as your veggies. Your veggies will take 10 minutes, tops.
Cook your veggies:
-Heat olive oil in a skillet.
-Add chopped shallots and sauté for about a minute.
-Add brussel sprouts, cut side down and sauté for another 2 minutes or so.
-Add chopped mushrooms, continue to sauté for about a minute.
-Season your veggies with garlic, salt and pepper to your taste.
-Add vegetable broth until the brussel sprouts are about 1/3 of the way covered, cover your skillet with a lid and let them steam for about 1-2 minutes.
-Remove brussel sprouts and mushrooms from the liquid and set aside.
Put it all together:
-Put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in your skillet and heat it up on low to medium heat. (We aren’t cooking at this point, we are just warming and seasoning) (Add olive oil as you see fit if this isn’t enough)
-Add sun-dried tomato pesto sauce to the skillet and heat. (If you are making 2 servings, use about 4 oz)
-Add noodles and vegetables to the skillet and season again with salt, pepper, parsley and Garlic Lover’s seasoning (or your choice of seasonings) and sort of toss the noodles around in the pan to mix with the veggies and pesto.
(I use tongs and a sort of pick up and mix method… you don’t want to use a spoon or anything that is going to compromise the texture of the dish)
A few things…
Because I cook mostly plant-based meals, I tend to have a heavy hand when it comes to sea salt and seasonings. When your diet doesn’t consist of a lot of processed foods, sea salt is not the worst thing in the world (these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA but I read too much about nutrition so there’s that).
I can usually find sun-dried tomato pesto sauce (check the label to make sure it’s gluten-free but it should be) in the produce section of my local Kroger but if you don’t find it there, check the pasta sauce isle. If you don’t like tomatoes, use regular pesto. Also, you’re crazy.
If you like cheese, serve with some mozzarella or fresh parmesan cheese on top because what isn’t better with cheese?! (nothing. the answer is nothing.)
If you are a paleo eater, skip the noodles and increase your veggie quantities. You can either serve the sun-dried tomato pesto veggies as side dish or top a chicken breast or white fish with them. OMGoodness now I’m hungry again.
Giving back and helping others is something I grew up doing. There are so many charitable causes out there and so many people and groups who can use a helping hand. Many times, all you have to have is a big heart to help them.
I vividly remember 8th grade where I had to log 100 hours of community service over the course of the school year to graduate. I could volunteer anywhere I wanted as long as it was approved by the school. I chose to volunteer at a convalescent hospital. I don’t recall why I chose that project but I do recall feeling awful for the elderly people who had sort of been abandoned by their families or simply didn’t have any family. You don’t know what “lonely” is until you find yourself living in a medical institution where you have permitted social hours and are otherwise constrained to a room with a hospital bed.
I will admit that I was uncomfortable at first. A lot of the residents had mental illnesses. Some of them wouldn’t remember my name from week to week. Some thought I was their daughter. Some came out of their bathrooms without their pants on. I was a teenage girl and quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how to process all of that. What I did know was that no matter what oddities I experienced, I would always leave knowing that I made someone’s day who no one else really took the time to care about. Need I go on to tell you that that’s an awesome feeling? Probably not.
In high school, my mother decided that we should volunteer to prepare dinner for a homeless shelter whenever we could. Sometimes it was her, my sister and I. Sometimes friends helped. It was a small shelter that only took about 60 people a night. My mom and I would cook our butts off (with the help of my baby sister) and deliver a warm meal to a shelter of men, women and children to what was really just a building with cots to sleep on and tables to set the food on.
I will admit that I was uncomfortable at first. I felt guilty. Who was I to waltz in there with enough food to feed 60 people to people who had nothing? Were people going to treat us strangely? Were we going to make them feel bad?
The first time we served the homeless a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs was one that I will never forget. I was so nervous that I barely spoke at first. I just didn’t know how to interact because I felt so fortunate to have a roof over my head. I wasn’t living a lavish life but I had a single mother who busted her a-word and was fortunate and good enough at it to take care of my sister and I. That’s more than so many people could ever wish to ask for.
The night progressed. I served some plates. Shared some smiles. Felt terrible that these beautiful souls found themselves suffering in the place they were. Without a home. Without a family able to bust their a-words to help them. Some of these people didn’t even have family. Some of them had been laid off from their job and living paycheck to paycheck was no longer an option. One of them went to my high school and played on the varsity basketball team.
I saw his face come through the line and I didn’t know whether he wanted me to recognize him or not. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do. I sort of froze. I racked my brain. Do I act normal. Do I keep my head down. I wasn’t friends with the guy but he recognized my face and I his. I rashly decided that I was going to treat this as a normal interaction to ease the tension. I acted like I knew him. Made small talk. Made him feel large talk. It was the right decision. He looked nervous- like I might tell people at school. I never did. I don’t even think anyone knew I was volunteering there? I didn’t exactly have many friends in high school but that’s another subject. He will probably never know it but his energy and resilience inspired me in more ways than I can describe.
Once everyone was served I decided to talk to some other people. Socialize. Treat them like normal humans. So many people forget to do that. I learned that some had lost their jobs. Some lost everything in a bad divorce. Some couldn’t find work for months. Some had been disowned and were struggling to find their way. Some didn’t have a single family member or friend in the world. Some didn’t want to talk they just wanted to eat and sleep. The ridiculously outstanding revelation was this- they were all people just like you and me. They were all so appreciative that we bothered to bring them a meal. And care. Because no one else cared enough to help them.
I will never forget my experience there. I will never forget the lessons I learned. I will never forget that there are millions of homeless people struggling in our nation.
The thing is- it’s so easy to give time, money, and any charitable energy to a cause that hits close to home. Disease hits close to home, cancer hits close to home, animals hit close to home. All more than worthy causes. Most of us have relative or animal friends who have suffered a cruel injustice but most of us will never experience what it’s like to not know if you have a safe place to sleep at night. Many of us will never even consider that anyone could become homeless at any given moment. It’s an issue that lacks awareness and I really hope to assist with changing that.
Long story long, I am thrilled to finally have a few things in line to help the homeless in our community and I might ask that you will join me every now and then.
The only resource you need to help others is a big heart, an open mind and a little spare time.
Thanks for hearing me out.
p.s. Google your local homeless shelter. A $10 investment of a loaf of bread, some peanut butter and jelly may go a long way. A $0 investment of donating a coat or blanket you don’t need will likely make someone’s day as well.
You might have seen me mention food allergies or whine about the fact that I can’t drink wine without getting sick over the past few months. You have probably seen me posting gluten-free meal ideas. You may have caught the one tweet where I complained about having to take a million supplements every time I eat. I never planned on sharing the why with you all but in order to make a point, I am going to have to.
A few months ago, I began to see a naturopathic medical doctor for various reasons. I was mainly sick of feeling absolutely terrible and being prescribed anxiety medications because “nothing was wrong” with my blood work. I was sick of taking anxiety medication just to function. I was sick of not being myself.
After a few hours of testing, we discovered a ridiculous amount of things that were going wrong in my body. Goody. Of the list of health short comings, the worst was my digestive system. To put it simply, anxiety can be caused by a lack of harmony in your gut. Even more ridiculous- being stressed out can cause the exact digestive issues that in turn cause you to have anxiety. Pretty rude, right? Right. (Especially when you deal with the amount of stress I have been subjected to).
Over the past few months, I have been busting my a-word trying to get my digestive system working properly with hopes of feeling like a human again. Through supplements and mindful eating, I have managed to get a grip on things. I’m still not in perfect health but this didn’t happen over-night and it’s not going to go away over-night so I continue to work on it. I’m happy to report that I only have to take anxiety meds on rare occasions. And that’s awesome.
Let me get to the point- It feels so good to feel like myself again but it has also opened my eyes to just how terrible I had been feeling- mentally and physically.
Last year was one of the most miserable years of my life and I have been through some pretty dark times. It wasn’t just the year itself, it was that I was already so beaten down (although I would have never admitted it) that everything hit me like a ton of bricks. All I kept thinking is WHEN AM I GOING TO CATCH A BREAK. Newsflash: If you want to catch a break, you better give yourself one.
If you’re like most, you have no idea what I just said. On paper, my life looks so nice and easy that people are quick to be offended if I have a bad day. On paper, my life looks so easy that I am quick to be offended by myself when I have a bad day. But the thing is this- I am only human and the paper lies. Life isn’t about comparing your struggles to those of anyone else but it is about being compassionate enough to know that we all struggle at one point or another.
To give you some perspective, there were days that I stayed in bed until 5 pm. The day would start out with me pretending to be fine, Mat would go to work around 1 pm, I would get back in bed and lay there- lifeless, sometimes crying (embarrassing but I’m not much of a liar so there you have it), missing my friends, missing my family, ridiculously lonely, lost, sad, wondering if I was making terrible life choices. I’d eventually hate myself for feeling that way because what reason on earth do I have to be miserable on paper? I’d peel myself out of bed, put some clothes on and go to the ballpark because if I didn’t, I would have never left our apartment/ socialized with anyone other than Mat (who was dealing with a boat load of his own stress) and the Kroger cashiers.
(I think this post is quickly becoming something I never intended it to be but so be it)
I was so sad and out of sorts that I didn’t even bother to socialize with other wives most of the time because I was so ashamed of myself for feeling rotten and didn’t want to bother anyone else with my negative energy.
Note: Due to the nature of the business, wives and girlfriends in baseball try to be supportive of one another. When things like trades happen, most of them have been there, done that. They know that your life just got flipped upside down and that you are entering alien territory. Even the Reds front office reached out to us/me in ways that I will forever be grateful for.
Sure, my friends and family were only a phone call away but it takes a lot for me to admit that I am struggling and even more for me to seek help. Being strong is my thing. Other people need me to be strong (I think). They are used to me being strong and independent (I think). Part of that is me being stubborn and more of that is me needing to know that I can stand on my own two feet (I know).
Don’t get me wrong here… I had some great days in there but an overwhelming majority were some kind of awful. I felt like a zombie. Going through the motions. Trying to keep it together. Wondering when I was going to crack. There were some days that I couldn’t even bring myself to seek peace by practicing Yoga because I was afraid I would have a panic attack while driving and no one would be there to help me because Mat was at work and I had no one else to call so I just avoided driving entirely. I remember a 10 day home-stand where I was so stressed, I couldn’t even drive to the grocery store so I just ordered take out from Holy Grail every day. Love HG but that made me feel even more awful
about feeling awful.
Note: if you’ve never experienced a panic attack, be thankful. I am sure they are different for everyone but mine are usually something like a racing heart, lack of ability to see straight, tingling, freezing cold, and 178% certain that I’m about to die. Not exactly ideal driving conditions.
Let’s not forget all of the times that I was attacked on the internet. Maybe I said something that offended people. Maybe Mat gave up 6 billion runs and people wanted to send us both back to San Diego in body bags like it was our choice to disappoint them. Luckily, I had a decent amount of experience dealing with blind hatred and vile people on the internet but I don’t care who you are-you can only hear that you are hated, worthless, a terrible person etc. so many times before you wonder what you did to deserve to be treated like that.
Note: No one deserves to be treated like that.
This brings me to a point that I would scream at the top of my lungs if that meant that people would hear me….
YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING THROUGH. BE KIND.
That’s it. That’s all.
If you are going through a hard time, I truly wish for some light for you because I hate the thought of anyone else struggling. Looking back, I must say that it is never in your favor to be hard on yourself. “Life is a journey, not a destination” and I am a cheese ball and a half for referencing that quote but you have to trust the process and know that brighter days are ahead… you just have to be willing to find them- no GPS included.
Tomorrow night, Mat will be a guest on the Reds Hot Stove League Radio Show at Holy Grail from 6-7 pm. He will be doing some talking, autograph signing and all of that good stuff. If you miss baseball, come get your fix from 6-7!
We are teaming up with Holy Grail to collect donations to go to the Drop In Center- Cincinnati’s largest homeless shelter.
If there is a blanket, coat, winter hat, unopened toiletry items, pantry items or really anything that you can part ways with, we ask that you bring it in with you. We will be collecting the donations and delivering them to the shelter.
For a broader list of items needed, please visit this website:
“The need for food, clothing and toiletries is continuous – many of our residents come to us empty-handed, in need not only of shelter, but of basic possessions and sustenance as well. From socks and shoes to soap and sunscreen, we always welcome donations of new clothing and grooming accessories. Your gift of food items is also welcome – such as bulk quantities of canned or dry goods in addition to gift certificates to price clubs or supermarkets.”
Idea- If you are planning on coming down and you happen to read this today, spread the word this afternoon and see if you can get your co-workers or classmates to help you help us by bringing something to you tomorrow… A mini-drive for the drive of sorts (:
Last year, we had a costume contest for people dressing as Mat or I on my blog. This year, we want to have a costume contest for your animals. Send us pictures of your animal friends in their best Halloween outfits for a chance to win cool prizes and be featured on my blog.
Email to: DallasLatos@reds.com