happy first birthday Lila Jane: you, your sister & mother are the loves of my life

lila jane first birthdayMy dear, sweet Lila Jane,

Happy first birthday!

These last year has been filled with joy and wonder as your mommy, sister, and I have watched you grow from newborn to near-toddler.

In the last few weeks, you started to sit up on your own and now you’ve begun scooting around and pulling up in your crib and on your toys.

So many people say that with your blue-green eyes and curly hair, you look more like your mother than me. But the other day, when we went to the super market just the two of us, so many people told me that you look just like me.

I can definitely see your mother’s features in your face. But more than anything, I see her sweetness in you every day.

Just like her, you are so easy going. Nothing ever seems to bother you, not even when you’re not feeling well, as long as we’re together. Even when you have a fever, you’re always so generous with your smiles, coos, hugs, and maaaammaaaas and daaaddaaas.

One thing that you inherited from both your mother and father is that you love to EAT! And even though you’re starting to become a little more picky these days, you eat nearly everything we give you — from mommy’s pomodoro to olive-cured tuna.

Another thing that you got from mommy and daddy is your love of music. Whenever you hear a rocking beat, that little tushy of yours starts to boogie. Yesterday, when a friend was over playing saxophone with me, you picked up a shaker and starting shaking it with the music as I held you in my lap!

Mommy and I have been working hard to build a healthy, good life for you. I feel so lucky to work at home: whenever I’m feeling down, I can always take a break and hold you in my arms. When I do, I remember that you, your sister, and your mother are the loves of my life.

And no matter what goes on in this often crazy world, our home is our special place where our love trumps all.

O sweet Lila Jane, you have brought so much happiness into our lives. Today, on your first birthday, I want to wish you a great year ahead. But I also want to thank you from the bottom of my heart: you have taught me that no matter what happens in this life, we will always have each other. And that’s all that matters. That’s the only thing that matters.

Happy birthday sweet girl! We love you SO MUCH!

Parzen family snapshot & Lila Jane sits up

From the department of “I don’t know how I got here but I’m sure glad I made it”…

jeremy parzen wine blogThe Parzen family attended a cousin’s wedding over the weekend at Lake Travis outside of Austin (mazel tov, Katherine and Clark!) and uncle Terry snapped this photo of me and the girls.

But the big Parzen family news is that Lila Jane is starting to sit up on her own! She will be one year old in just over a week and she and I will be celebrating our birthdays together.

I love being a dad so much. And every day I love my gorgeous Tracie P more and more for giving us such beautiful, happy girls and for being such a great mom to them.

Thanks for sharing our joy.

happy father’s day

It’s my first father’s day as the dad to two happy, healthy, beautiful little girls. And it feels great.

Tracie P and I have so much to be thankful for…

Our girls have the best mommy ever. She takes such good care of them and works so hard to make sure that they have everything they need to grow up in a wholesome environment.

And we are so blessed to have the support of our loving family here in southeast Texas.

I love our girls and their mommy so much. Thanks for sharing our joy and happy father’s day!

Parzen girls update & an extravagantly delicious gumbo

the producersAbove: our girls love going to restaurants and Georgia P always wants to read the menu. On Saturday morning we took them to Kenny & Ziggy’s deli for white fish, salmon, eggs, and bagels. It’s such a great restaurant and as a former New Yorker and now Houstonian, I can tell you that it’s just as good (and as pricey) as any you’ll find in the city.

We’ve had a really lovely weekend here in Houston, with weather that reminds us all of the California where I grew up (and where they’re experiencing unseasonally high temperatures).

My mom came in from La Jolla for a four-day stay to visit Georgia P (above) and Lila Jane (below).

As any parent will tell you, raising babies and toddlers is never an easy task and our girls — like anybody’s kids — can be a handful. But they always have a smile, hug, and kiss for us and all it takes is a coo or an “I love you” to make the sleeplessness and headaches vanish…
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A very special Mother’s Day for the Parzen family

jeremy parzen familyDespite some runny noses, yesterday was a very special Mother’s Day for the Parzen family.

Its was our first Mother’s Day since Lila Jane (left) came into this world last July (Georgia P, right, was born in December 2011).

Being a parent has been such a wonderful experience for me. I have so much fun with both of our girls and they are both so sweet.

But it’s their beautiful mother, Tracie P, who deserves the credit for raising them so well.

Whether it’s researching potty training or sourcing organically grown fruits and vegetables for them to eat, she’s made parenting her full-time focus and she does an incredible job.

My joy in being a parent is rivaled only by that of watching Tracie P be a loving mother. Seeing her raise our girls has made me fall in love all over again with her.

best enchiladas houstonFor our Mother’s Day celebration, we went to Vallone’s on the west side of Houston. It’s my friend and client Tony Vallone’s new homage to americana gastronomy.

Tracie had tortellini stuffed with short ribs and gorgeous piece of grilled red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico. I couldn’t resist have the “Tex,” classic Tex Mex style enchiladas matched with an aged filet mignon.

It was a rich Sunday brunch for us (thanks again, Tony, for treating us!). As I looked out across the dining room, crowded with mothers and their families, I couldn’t help but reflect on how lucky I am to have made it to this place in life.

Our family still faces many financial challenges ahead but there could be no greater wealth than sitting at the table with the Parzen girls.

Tracie P, I love you so much: thank you for giving us Lila Jane and Georgia P and thank you for being such a fantastic mother. Every day, you teach me something new about what it means to be a good parent. Your tenderness knows no bounds and it shows in the sweetness of our daughters… I love you.

#BestMeals2013: Dispensa Pani e Vini (Franciacorta)

The Dispensa in Franciacorta is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. This spring, I took Tracie P and Georgia P (and Lila Jane in Tracie P’s belly) to eat there not once but twice…

italian grissini

Above: Grissini — bread sticks — are one of Italy’s great gifts to humankind. I’m not talking about the hydrogenated oil-charged grissini that come in a plastic wrapper. I’m talking about the ones that chefs like the amazing Vittorio Fusari bake in-house. Georgia P couldn’t get enough!

Franciacorta Chef Vittorio Fusari and his Dispensa Pani e Vini have become a happy Parzen family obsession. Last week I wrote about the first of two meals we had there earlier this year.

Vittorio’s ability to match brilliant technique and precision with his uncanny knack for sourcing wholesome materia prima have fascinated and thrilled me. Bringing Tracie P and Georgia P to lunch there was one of the highlights of our family trip to Italy in the spring.

Here’s what we ate on the second day.

32 via dei birrai

There is so much great beer being made in Italy right now. We loved the richness of aroma and flavor in the Oppale by 32 Via dei Birrai.

raw salmon italy

The salmon wasn’t cured. It was served raw, expertly sliced and dressed with a gentle drizzle of olive oil. So simply yet ethereally satisfying.

pasta asparagus

Vittorio made these penne with green beans especially for Georgia P. Mommy and daddy couldn’t help stealing a bite.

risotto asparagi asparagus

Vittorio’s risotto agli asparagi was a masterpiece. This dish left me speechless.

italian chicken salad

Poached chicken salad. That’s a lightly breaded, fried egg in the middle. It’s yolk was perfectly runny.

italian hamburger

The Bresciani (ethnonym for natives of Brescia, Lombardy, the province that claims Franciacorta) love beef. This was Vittorio’s take on the hamburger. All the bread is baked in-house at the Dispensa.

manzo olio brescia lombardy

Manzo all’olio — literally “beef cooked in oil” — is a classic dish of Bresciana cuisine. Slowly braised beef usually served with polenta and/or potatoes.

giovanni arcari eugenio signoroni

If I’m in Franciacorta, you’ll usually find me in the company of my bromance Giovanni Arcari (left), winemaker extraordinaire and grand personage of Italian wine. He met us for lunch and we bumped into Eugenio Signoroni, editor of the Slow Food beer and osteria guides. That’s the kind of place the Dispensa is. You always run into food and wine professionals and personalities there.

happy italian baby

What a joy to watch our sweet baby girl enjoy her meals at the Dispensa. Our family life is centered around eating well (and by “well,” I mean deliciously and wholesomely) and there is no chef I know who devotes more attention and passion to the wholesomeness of what he serves his guests.

Thank you, Vittorio! The Parzen family is your unabashedly and eternally devoted and grateful fan!

Parzen Family Christmas Letter 2013: we’re moving to Houston

parzen family portrait

Above: Georgia P (right) just turned two and Lila Jane (left) is nearly five months old.

What an incredible year 2013 has been for us! We have too many blessings to count…

Lila Jane Parzen was born on Monday, July 22. She’s doing great, nursing like a pro and enjoying her big sister’s antics. She’s such an easy baby and such a joy to hold.

Georgia P is also doing great. She eats like a champ, now often using a fork, and just loves her pre-school, where she spends two mornings every week. She’s got SO MUCH personality and we’ve been having a blast teaching her new words (yogurt and bagel are recent additions to her vocabulary).

Both girls are super sweet and always have a coo, a smile, a laugh, and a hug to share.

best daughter ever

Above: This has got to be my favorite photo of Georgia P. She LOVES going to restaurants and she loves eating. “People let me tell you about her, she’s so much fun…” (sung to the tune of the “Courtship of Eddie’s Father”).

Our social media, editorial, and marketing consulting business has done well again this year. And while we’re not out of the woods yet, there is light at the end of our financial tunnel.

We are so fortunate that our business allows Tracie P to be a stay-at-home mom. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the girls get their sweetness from her.

not a fussy baby

Above: Lila Jane’s personality is really starting to show. She’s a very mellow, easy-going child. And, wow, what a head of hair! We know she didn’t get it from her father!

The big family news is that we will be moving to Houston in early 2014.

We have loved living in Austin but right now, with a toddler and a newborn in the house, we really need the support of Tracie P’s parents, Rev. and Mrs. B: “bawbaw and nanna” play such an important role in the girls’ lives and with our move, they’ll be just two hours away instead of five (Orange, Texas, where they live and where they raised Tracie P and her sister, lies to the east of Houston).

The move will also save me a lot of time and money. I’ve been commuting weekly to Houston for my top client in Texas and our new home there will allow me to spend more time with the girls instead of on the road.

And of course, I have family in Houston, too. Cousins Joanne and Marty and Dana and Neil have been so supportive of us in so many ways. We’re looking forward to spending more time with them, as well.

Thanks so much to everyone who’s shared our joy with us this year. It means so much to us that you do.

We have many challenges ahead of us. But knowing that you are with us makes the road ahead seem less daunting…

There’s so much more to tell about our work, our music, and our dreams and aspirations for the coming year.

But all that matters is Lila Jane and Georgia P. They are the light and love of our lives. And not a day goes by that I don’t love Tracie P all the more for giving them to us…

May G-d bless you all and may your new year be filled with health and happiness.

Happy holidays, yall!

baci e abbracci
(hugs and kisses)

Parzen Family

happy birthday Georgia P! You are the light and love of our lives

most beautiful little girl in the world

Above: Today is Georgia P’s second birthday! She’ll have a proper party with her family and friends on Saturday. But today she woke up to blueberry pancakes and two of her presents. One is a music box (see the video below) and the other is her “I’m a big girl now” chair. It’s hard to believe she’s already two! She LOVES brushing her teeth.

Dearest Georgia P,

Today is your second birthday! Happy birthday to you!

Your mommy and I love you so very much and want you to know how proud you make us. We could have never imagined the unending joy that you have brought into our lives with your hugs, kisses, laughter, and smiles.

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@QUIAustin‎ @PQui @JuneRodil donate proceeds from Filipino dishes for Philippines relief

dinuguan pork blood

Above: Dinuguan, pork offal and pork blood braised until melt-in-your-mouth, a classic Filipino dish as prepared by Chef Paul Qui in Austin at Qui.

I just traded emails with our good friend June Rodil who writes from Argentina that her family back in the Philippines is doing fine despite the challenges of cleaning up in the wake of the recent typhoon there.

Tracie P and I were glad to hear that. We’ve been checking in with all of our Filipino friends here in Texas. Some of them still haven’t had word yet from their families. (June, a leading Austin wine professional and the wine director at Qui, happens to be on a wine trip in Argentina.)

June also let me know that Qui — one of our favorite restaurants in Austin — will be donating proceeds from its Filipino dishes (like the Dinuguan, above) to the Philippine Red Cross (its website is updated regularly with news on the situation there).

It’s tough to get a reservation at Qui during Formula 1 week here in Austin. But once things calm down again next week, I’ll take the girls back for my monthly craving of Dinuguan.

Here’s a link to my post on our recent dinner there.

And here, again, is the link to the Philippines Red Cross.

Please keep our Filipino sisters and brothers in your prayers and thoughts…