Since moving to Cincinnati, Mat and I have been looking for ways to get involved in the community. We considered doing some sort of school supply drive but to our luck and with the help of the Reds, we found that one already takes place annually! Project Backpack is an event put on by FOX19 WXIX-TV along with partner Kiss 107. To date, more than 8,500 Cincinnati-area children have received school supplies and backpacks through the efforts of Project Backpack and the community. How awesome is that?!
On Friday, August 2nd, Mat and I will be stopping by the Project Backpack event presented at Rookwood Commons to drop off some donations and say hi!
The event is from 6 am to 11 am and we would like to encourage you to swing by and make a donation. If you’re into the whole meet and greet thing, you can catch us from 10-11.
For a list of school supplies needed and other ways to donate, check here!
See you tomorrow?
Remember when you were in high school and you thought you had your whole life planned out? Maybe you didn’t exactly have a plan but you thought that upon graduation, you would either start working or pursue further education. At some point soon after that, you would have a real career- an adult job that allowed you to pay all of your own bills and eat cookies for breakfast. Once you figured out what your adult job was going to be, you would probably find a significant other. Hopefully, you would find “the one” and one day you two would get married. Soon after finding the person you would love for better or for worse, you would start a family and BINGO!- you won the life game.
I won’t be ignorant enough to assume that this was everyone’s personal goal or thought process (as it wasn’t exactly mine) but no matter where you went after high school, what pit-stops you made, what jobs paid your pizza bills, what your get rich/famous quick scheme was, there was likely some kind of pressure surrounding your existence telling you that you were doing it wrong at some point or another. You missed a step. You weren’t getting there quickly enough. You failed. You didn’t know where you were going or where you were supposed to be. If this was never the case for you, you may now be excused. If you’re like 99% of my friends, you might want to stick around.
I’ve always joked about the “no plan plan” being the best plan but I don’t think I’ve ever come up with anything more brilliant, although often challenging. It’s no secret that life has all sorts of crazy curveballs it can throw at you. Just when you think you know where you’re headed or where you want to be, something better comes up. Maybe something stops you right in your path. Something happens that sends your roller coaster down an entirely different track. Sometimes it’s thrilling. Sometimes it’s down right mortifying… but the fact of the matter is, you have no choice but to go with it. Embrace it. Stop comparing it to the ideas society has more or less shoved down our throats and most importantly- stop comparing your situation to that of those around you.
Looking at my very diverse group of friends, I don’t know two people in a similar situation. I have friends with unplanned children, friends who are still in a grad school program that they never intended to take so long, divorced friends, friends working minimum wage jobs because they really have no idea what they want to do, friends without jobs, friends who moved back into their parent’s homes, friends with failed businesses and crushed dreams, artist friends flying by the seats of their creativity, friends struggling to get by, friends who have their shit together, and friends with a white picket fence and the whole nine. I’m sure that you do too. While I can’t say how any of us ended up where we are, what I do know is that we have all struggled with accepting that maybe we are not where we thought we end up and maybe are never going to get there.
In my experience, this reality can be crippling and sometimes mortifying. To most onlookers, I imagine I have “the life”. While I wont bother to be ungrateful or say that my situation awful, guess what- I am nowhere near where I planned to be and sometimes, I’m not okay with that. I won’t get into details because this isn’t my personal sob story, journal or therapy session. What this is is me telling you that it’s all going to be okay.
If we’re ever going to overcome feelings of inadequacy, failure or maybe even the sting of uncertainty with a side of where do I go from here, we have to accept where we are, love what and who we have, and most importantly accept the process for what it is- life.
I am not a motivational speaker or any sort of authority figure, I am just a thoughtful person who is sick of seeing beautiful souls get down on themselves. This blog may not change your mind, your life, your shoes or your socks but if you are here reading, I hope it at least serves as a reminder that we are all different beings with different paths and no matter how hard it is at times, I hope you can learn to love yours. In sickness and in health. ‘Till death do you part.
While I’m pretty sure it’s no longer a secret, I am writing this post to let you know that you’re stuck with us, Ohio. Mat and I recently purchased a home in Cincinnati. After over 3 years of 6 month leases and over 10 moves (if you count the moves to Arizona for spring training), we are ecstatic to finally have a place to call “home”. You know… a place to unpack our bags and maybe even stay a while.
As you can imagine, there were about 6 trillion factors that went into the decision of where we would buy our first home. I am from California and Mat is from Florida. Our families are essentially on opposite sides of the country. Then of course you have to consider the weather, traffic, lifestyle… Oh… and let us not forget- baseball.
Baseball is fun in the sense that you can be traded at any time so there’s really no such thing as planning how long you’ll be working anywhere. This is a big reason why many athletes don’t spend their off-season where they work as it makes more sense to just buy a home wherever they want to live. It has also made people curious about why we would buy a home in Cincinnati when Mat currently only has a two year contract to play for the Reds. Let me tell you why…
As you may or may not know, the trade from the San Diego Padres to the Reds caught us wildly off-guard. If you would have asked me at the time, I couldn’t have even pointed to Ohio on a map (don’t judge me- I suck at geography). When we came to visit for the first time in January 2012, I felt like I was in a foreign country. This may sound dramatic but I assure you, mid-westerners who go to California for the first time often feel the same way. For lack of better words, it’s just a culture shock.
Last season, we were welcomed by the entire Reds organization with open arms. I’m talking the whole Castellini family, the clubhouse staff, the media department, the ushers at the ballpark- EVERYONE was there to offer their support. It was pretty clear that we were in over our heads, extremely unfamiliar with the area, and more or less overwhelmed yet also excited… but overwhelmed. Having that support system made a world of difference. If any other baseball wives are reading this and you ever get traded to Cincinnati, have no fear- you are in GREAT hands.
Rewind… Only a week prior to the trade, we signed a lease on a home for the season in San Diego. We were made to believe that Mat wasn’t getting traded so we were pretty confident in finding housing for the upcoming season in the off-season. It also seemed like a good way to avoid some stress to just stay in the San Diego area until we figured out where in the world we would set up shop and buy a home.
If you recall, the trade was announced right before the holidays. We already had movers and everything arranged and we were headed out of town to visit my in-laws for a few weeks. Fancy.
Fast forward… picture me sitting in Virginia practically in tears for a few days trying to figure out what we were going to do with our things, our pets, our lives, etc, It didn’t make any sense to move to this house but our lease was up where we were currently living and they already had a new occupant lined up. We would have had nowhere to live until Spring Training if we didn’t move from downtown San Diego into this house. We were on the other side of the country with very limited time to figure anything out prior to our moving day. The stress was so overwhelming that we eventually decided to just go along with our original plan to move from downtown instead of trying to get out of the lease. By “went along with the move”, I mean that our boxes went from one San Diego residence to another- never to be unpacked.
I begrudgingly wrote rent checks for that San Diego home/storage unit all last season while we lived at the Banks for 6 months. We didn’t have a plan at the time but we knew that we never wanted to be in this situation again (paying two leases simultaneously). It is one thing (a very common thing) to pay a mortgage on your home in whatever city you choose to live in and have an additional short-term lease on a another residence where you work during season but if you’re anything like me, you don’t like throwing away money and that’s essentially what we had to do. GROSS GROSS GROSS.
Last off-season we spent countless hours looking at properties on the internet. We even went down to the Florida Keys to look at some homes. I love the Keys but I wasn’t exactly sold. We looked around Naples (Florida) , Austin (Texas), Dallas (Texas) but there was always the question of, “How the hell is this going to work when we are now looking at a timeline of buying a home during the season?”. Essentially- it would have been a giant pain in my ass. One day Mat said, “Why don’t we look at homes in Cincinnati?”. UMMMM. Excuse me? You want to do something reasonable that makes a ton of sense that we have never thought of before? WHAT IS THIS WITCH CRAFT?! Wait, wait… this idea is GENIUS.
I will admit that it took me a few minutes to wrap my brain around this. We had been looking at homes on the water in Florida because we love the ocean and fishing. Plus, the weather in the off-season is not too shabby. The Texas idea came up because it’s centrally located. Cincinnati… well… Mat only has a 2-year contract so let’s just consider all of the factors and say that he gets traded after that, are we still going to want to live in Cincinnati? Spoiler alert- after not much consideration, the answer was yes. Cincinnati has it’s charms and it really REALLY grew on me. Something about the way of life and simplicity of things puts me at ease. I have lived in California my whole life and quite frankly, it was time for us to turn the page.
I pulled some properties up online, contacted a real estate agent and explained what we were looking for. We had narrowed it down to about 5 listings and planned to see them when we got to Cincinnati for the season to avoid making an additional trip in the off-season. The house that I thought I really liked was sold by the time we got here. I was kind of bummed but confident that we would find something we loved. The house that Mat really liked (all he cared about was that there was a pond on the property- literally- ALL) but that I was not so sure about from the photos was our number 2 and became the first house that we would see in Cincinnati. It was also the last.
From the minute we got to the house, we knew it was “the one”. The location was great, the layout was great and it had everything we were looking for. We waited and waited and waited for our closing date to come and lived out of suitcases at our friend Dave’s house in the meantime (this is going to have to be another blog post entirely- it was positively funny and ridiculous).
Our closing date finally came around and we got the keys to our new home and we were SO excited! Except that we had no furniture and were headed out of town for a 10 day road trip a few days later. CAN A GIRL CATCH A BREAK AROUND HERE?! I have never wanted to be settled so badly in my entire life so that 10 day road trip felt like a lifetime. A lifetime in which I couldn’t sleep, eat or function because i was so anxious and stressed. I’m talking sitting in the bathtub in the hotel room at 4 am ordering linens so as to not wake Mat up with my aggressive typing because I had SO much to do.
While I could have further stressed myself out beyond reason and took on this whole project by myself, I chose not to. I’m sure those close to me would agree that I may have capped out on the amount of stress I could survive through without cracking between the trade in 2011 up until this point.
I called for the help of Kelly Straka, owner of Lux Living Homes to get the interior of our new home to fit our style and to get this bad boy furnished. As you may have seen last week no thanks to the local media who tweeted out our address and photos from the previous owner’s listing, the home had a very country vibe to it. It was gorgeous, just not our style. Kelly suggested that we use paint and swap out light fixtures to update the general vibe and let me tell you- it made a world of difference. We are still working on the furnishing aspect but it has been fantastic to work with someone with such a creative eye and knack for finding really unique pieces that fit our personal style.
Then there was the whole unpacking thing… keep in mind we had boxes from the past few years stored at the ballpark, at David’s house in Cincinnati, in San Diego, in northern California and in Virginia. I’m good at a lot of things but tedious projects and organizing just aren’t for me. Like they say, patience is a virtue (that I don’t have).
My friend and fellow baseball wife, Alexis Rosenbaum recently began offering her services as a home organizer. While you may be reading this and thinking I’m lazy or awful for not figuring it out on my own, let me just tell you this- there is nothing I like more than efficiency and I will be the first to admit my short comings and figure out a better solution.
You can check out Alexis’ post about this project here: TheHouseWifesHouseWife. This post doesn’t do all of her work justice but you can get an idea of why I needed her so desperately. Due to all of the traveling and moving around, I often acquire multiples of basically everything. Had I been the one to have to go through all of that, I probably would have thrown it away in frustration.
With the help of the container store, Alexis had everything sorted out and easy to find. The even better thing about how well she organized our belongings is that everything has a place and it’s now ridiculously easy for me to stay organized. While her rates are more than reasonable for her services, the truth is- you can’t put a price on your sanity. If you’re like me and you have made it a habit to ignore the chaos because you think it doesn’t affect you- I will bet you a turkey sandwich that you’re wrong.
Now that I have typed an entire novel and essentially explained why I haven’t posted any blogs recently, let me end on this note. It feels so good to be home.
Looking for a great Father’s Day gift?
If you are attending the Brewers vs. Reds game on Friday, June 14 (7:10pm) you’ll have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for a “Players Favorite Things” basket raffle. 12 gift baskets have been filled by the players’ wives with favorite items of the Reds players.
Items include food and gifts from their home state, gift cards to their favorite stores along with books and DVDs and four Field Box tickets to an upcoming Reds game. Additionally, each raffle winner will receive an autographed jersey from the player.
Player baskets include: Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart, Sam LeCure, Chris Heisey, Manny Parra, Joey Votto, Logan Ondrusek, Ryan Ludwick, Mat Latos, Shin-Soo Choo, Mike Leake and Sean Marshall.
The retail value of each basket is well over $500.
What dad wouldn’t love this?
The Reds Wives will be selling raffle tickets for $5 each or 3 for $10 (cash only) just inside the main gates to Great American Ball Park in front of the Crosley mosaics starting when gates open at 5:40pm to the end of the 7th inning. The only opportunity to purchase raffle tickets is by attending Friday night’s game.
The winners will be drawn at random during the 8th inning. Fans do not need to be present to claim their baskets.
All proceeds go to Matthew 25: Ministries and the Oklahoma tornado victims.
It was brought to my attention yesterday by hundreds of Twitter friends that a picture I tweeted of the Reds in-flight menu was scandalous enough to not only warrant the attention of major sports news sources but it was also crazy enough to make the Yahoo! homepage. The title of the Yahoo! post was “MLB Team’s Ridiculous In-Flight Menu”. While I won’t knock their attention grabbing skills, I’m here to tell you why that menu was not entirely ridiculous even though it was offered on an hour long flight.
When a series ends, the team leaves straight from the ballpark to go to the airport. Once they arrive at airport, they sit on the plane for about an hour before take-off. The flight to Cincinnati from Chicago is only about an hour but by the time we got back to the ballpark on that particular day, it was around 9:40. We then had to wait for our luggage to arrive. This process makes for kind of a long day after going to work between 9 and 10 am…
Not only was the flight during “dinner time”, most restaurant kitchens in Cincinnati are closed by 10 pm on Sundays so getting take-out for dinner that late at night isn’t really an option. The other dinner option would be to just eat at home. Unless a player (or staff member) has a significant other at home or a personal grocery shopper (I don’t know any players who do, I’m just throwing this out there to cover my bases) odds are, their refrigerators are pretty empty (or maybe pretty gross) after 10-11 days on the road.
So… Odd to the average onlooker? Maybe. Totally awesome to the average onlooker? Probably. Convenient for players? Heck yes. Ridiculous? I wouldn’t quite call it that, but to each their own…
This topic getting so much media attention leads me to remind you all one thing… No matter what you think an athlete’s lifestyle is like, there is one definitive term that we can all agree on- it’s just different.
Hey Whitney (@whitneynjackson)-
You’re funny. We like your style.
Congrats on winning the fan contest!
Thank you to everyone who entered and thank you to those of you who ignored the contest rules but still sent me photos of awesome signs anyway…
I’m looking at you, Matt Diller.
It looks like the girls are having a blast and that’s what it’s all about.
I like their style too!
I received many other fan sign photos that would be politically incorrect for me to post here but it seems that most of you know my sense of humor so just know that I appreciate the laughs.
Happy cheering on the Reds this season!
If you’re going to the Reds game on Friday, I have a challenge for you. Fans who make signs to bring to baseball games are typically pretty awesome. I like awesome fans so I’m asking you to be one of them.
To make this request fun, Mat and I decided to announce a contest. Rules: Email me a picture of you with your sign showing support for the Reds at the ballpark on Friday to enter for a chance to win tickets to a future game.
Email address: DallasLatos@Reds.com
Odds are, you guys will come up with too many awesome signs for us to declare a single winner and I’ll have to treat this situation like a Halloween costume contest. “Funniest”, “Creepiest”, “Cutest”, etc. No matter what, someone will win. Just don’t be surprised if I get too excited.
Entries will be accepted until Saturday at midnight, standard Ohio time. Winners will be announced on Monday.
Come at me, bro.
(p.s. who says that? HA!)
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The other day, I went to the gym and worked out for an hour and a half. In that hour and a half, I had a minor epiphany… Going to the gym for an hour and a half is freaking lame. Skipping the gym entirely is also lame. Feast or famine. Restrict or binge. Go hard or go home. Where did these idioms even come from?
The more I thought about how many times I skip working out because I only have 30 minutes (or the hotel gym sucks) and cardio is no longer the hip way to get fit, I realized that reading too many health studies published by non-experts has taxed my spirit. Everyone is a guru with a magic trick. Everyone has the key to looking better than you did when you were 9. Everyone makes you feel like a loser if you aren’t being a freaking lunatic and counting your almonds into snack baggies (I totally do this).
You cant out-train a bad diet and this is the part of the realization where I really got pissed… I found myself looking at restaurant menus and thinking, there’s a bad choice I won’t really like or a worse choice that I will- screw it… PIZZA! (etc.)
I can’t explain why I suddenly had a rational thought in my mind because we all know these are isolated incidents, but I can say this… If you’re still reading my jibber-jabber, you might understand where I’m coming from. If you don’t, you might find yourself in psycho shoes one day so hear me out..
BALANCE IS KEY.
Health is a personal journey that everyone is trying to sell you. The good decisions you make will all add up eventually just like the bad ones did. Cut corners where you can. Get that extra action in even if it means using the stairs when there’s an escalator. Don’t let people writing about the right way to do things make you feel bad.
For example: I had anxiety about eating a banana while traveling the other day because of “ALL OF THE SUGAR” that most “health” writers warn you about. That is not even cool.
STOP FREAKING OUT AND START MOVING YOUR BUTT, ‘MERICA.
For some of us, trips to the ballpark are a mini-vacation. A few hours to get our minds off of things. To relax. To cheer. To eat a hot dog and drink a beer or 9. To go bananas. To laugh. To cry. You know… a chance to really just do what we want… we might order that cotton candy, grab that lemonade and hand all of our brain waves over to the guys on the field. It’s whatever. For others, entering the ballpark may be a little more thoughtful process. Perhaps you’re a season ticket holder. Perhaps you’re a crazed fan possessed by the 9 inch ball on a budget. Perhaps you’re married to the game. Perhaps you’re me and the ballpark is just your second home.
Whatever your issue may be, you might just get hungry at the ballpark some day. I know it’s crazy but hey- it can happen to any of us.
I have this terrible ailment that causes me to assume that any time I have company in town (or Mat is pitching or I’m traveling or the sky is blue) that I’m on some sort of self-proclaimed vacation. On these vacations, I tend to eat more carbs, drink more adult beverages and miss work outs. Not a good combo, said my pants… Abs are made in the kitchen and when you don’t even have one for about 2 weeks of every month, lord have mercy. Everything seems like a bad decision.
While I’d like to imagine this vacation mindset developed because I have nothing important to do, that’s an entirely irrational thought. Despite my self-deprecating tweets and shameless affinity for vodka drinks, consider me the glue of the collective Latos circus; a glue that has to remain flexible and relatively unemotional. Super glue can’t even do that.
Maybe vacation brain exists because baseball has turned me into an even bigger vampire of the night than I was before. Maybe it’s because I’m constantly stressed. Maybe I’m just making excuses and you know what- everybody does it but my goal of this season is to be more accountable to myself.
Blah, blah, blah… The point of this post is this- If you get hungry at the ballpark and happen to be feeling health conscious on that day, you may be faced with a really serious dilemma. If you’re unlike me and you wear a badge of good decisions 24/7, congratulations! Stop being an overachiever and live a little. After all, you can always spend 4 hours on a treadmill to work off a cheeseburger and fries, AM I RIGHT?!
While I don’t intend to list the ingredients of hot dogs as I’m not even sure the Reds media department will let me use such dirty words on my blog, I am going to make it my mission to point you in the direction of good choices at various ballparks in the event that you ever feel the need to make them. I am not a nutritionist, I didn’t buy a certificate to frame from an online school, I don’t particularly advocate any single way of eating because everyone’s body is different but I do have years of informal “education” on health matters and will simply be suggesting what I would do if I got to the ballpark and didn’t feel like a foot long coney with all of the toppings was a reasonable afternoon snack. (Note: I never feel like this but to each their own).
Unrelated: It’s a well-known fact that I love going to the Holy Grail across from the ballpark before games and people often ask me my favorite thing to eat there. The Reagan salad is great but I rarely order it because of the cheese and salad dressing. Instead, I order a plain chicken breast, turkey burger or black bean burger (without a bun) with a side of veggies. To wash it down, Tito’s vodka (gluten-free), water and a lemon or a splash of cran. You can skip the vodka, I’m just going for full disclosure here. For the record, you can pretty much order this mundane but functional cuisine at any restaurant so never hesitate to let your freak flag fly and make special requests.
Since I’m writing for your sake, I’m asking you to let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to look for in particular in the comments of this post (calorie count, gluten-free options, low carb, etc.).
Captain Do What I Say, Not What I Do.
Contrary to popular opinion, MLB players do not have free tickets to hand out for every game. If they did, I’d be doing twitter ticket giveaways way more often because I’d love to get more people out to enjoy a ball game. Instead, we are allotted 4 family tickets and 2 friends tickets to purchase at around 40% of their face value, which varies from ballpark to ballpark.
One of my golden rules is to not discuss money with strangers but rules were made to be broken and there’s no other way to bring this situation to light. In 2010 (Mat’s first full year in the big leagues), we left tickets for every long lost cousin’s estranged best friend without even thinking twice. It didn’t seem like a big deal and we were just happy and excited to have support in the stands. At the end of that year, it was brought to our attention by our financial advisor that we had spent a collective $14,000 on tickets. Fourteen. Thousand. Dollars. That’s a huge insanity pie no matter which way you slice it. It was at that moment and without hesitation that we decided we would never do that again.
Before the start of the 2011 season, we unapologetically explained the situation to our family. We offered to leave tickets by request to people who were willing to pay us back what we were charged for a ticket at any given ballpark and everyone was more than happy to do so because hello- discount! Also, in most cases, even our family and friends had no idea that we pay for tickets and most felt a little guilty- totally not our intention. You live and you learn.
If you are a baseball wife and you’re reading this, I strongly advise that you lay down the law quickly. It is one thing to leave tickets for parents and close family but it is quite another to pay $90 a ticket for someone you haven’t seen in 6 years to bring Jolly Jilly Loud Mouth on a first date to root against the opposing team in your own family section. I won’t get into that one but you can use your imagination to figure out how annoying that experience was.
The bottom line is this- no matter how much money you make you should always be mindful of your spending and to quote the late and great over-used phrase, “Nothing in life is free”.
Stay humble. Stay grateful. Be kind. Be mindful.