Resolution (?) to our October 2013 burglary

crestview austin brentwood burglary burglariesAbove: one of my Austin restaurant clients had his contractor board up our front door after the burglar broke it down.

The date was October 9, 2013, two days before Tracie P’s birthday, when two men burglarized our home in Austin in broad daylight.

I had left earlier in the morning for my weekly commute to Houston (where we now live) and Tracie had taken our daughters to the grocery store.

One of the men broke down our front door and searched through our belonging for valuables (here’s my post from the week of the burglary). The other waited outside with their getaway car.

The police were able to identify one of the burglars because he took a selfie with our family iPhone and we saw it in our iCloud. He also took a photo of a brand new pair of tennis shoes.

Both men left Texas and went to California. The driver had been pulled over by police in Austin and fled. He was ultimately apprehended in California.

From what we were told by the Austin detective who handled our case, the man who entered our home was killed in Los Angeles in June in a gangland shooting. He was twenty-four years old.

On Friday of last week, the driver accepted a plea bargain. He will spend the next ten years in jail.

In the end, the news of the one’s passing and the other’s guilty plea made me feel terribly sad.

They had been implicated in tens of burglaries in Austin. And they were bad men.

But none of it makes any sense to me.

After all, renter’s insurance covered the few valuables they did steal (mostly electronics and audio recording equipment). And beyond cherished possessions lost — a necklace I gave Tracie the day we brought Lila Jane home from the hospital and a box that contained every ticket stub from every rock show I saw as a teenager — and a few anxious, shell-shocked nights in the weeks that followed, our lives moved forward. We continue to be middle-income Americans, struggling to build a financial future for our children but living comfortably.

Today, one of them is dead at 24 and the other is behind bars. And what was it all for? A pair of shiny new tennis shoes?

How will I explain all of this to Georgia P and Lila Jane when they’re old enough to ask questions about our life in Austin?

A lot of you shared your support and solidarity here and so I wanted to post about the resolution. Tracie and I both greatly appreciated everyone’s thoughts and wishes. We’re doing well and it’s been a good summer for us and our daughters (our first in Houston).

I’ll see you next week… thanks for being here.

An East Texas high school reunion

in the poolJust had to share some pics and notes from our Saturday night: for the first time since Georgia P was born, we spent a night away from the girls and attended Tracie P’s twentieth high school reunion.

That’s Tracie in the photo above, far left.

She grew up in Orange, Texas, attending West Orange-Stark High School. But the event was held at L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana, about forty minutes east of Orange by car from her hometown.

It was super fun…

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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