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.
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…
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.
From the department of “I don’t know how I got here but I’m sure glad I made it”…
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.
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!
Above: 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…
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.
For 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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
Vittorio made these penne with green beans especially for Georgia P. Mommy and daddy couldn’t help stealing a bite.
Vittorio’s risotto agli asparagi was a masterpiece. This dish left me speechless.
Poached chicken salad. That’s a lightly breaded, fried egg in the middle. It’s yolk was perfectly runny.
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 all’olio — literally “beef cooked in oil” — is a classic dish of Bresciana cuisine. Slowly braised beef usually served with polenta and/or potatoes.
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.
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!