A year of a lot of high highs and low lows, moments of great joy and moments of deep-reaching soul searching as we try to figure out how the world is changing around us.
All in all, in the little bubble that we call home in Westbury (in southwest Houston), it’s been a wonderful year.
The girls are growing and growing and are enjoying their Westbury Methodist Day School pre-school immensely. And Georgia is looking forward to next year in kindergarten at Parker Elementary, a music magnet school (and one of the reasons we have decided to stay in this neighborhood). Lila Jane started dance this year at Banbury Dance School (whose mistresses are straight out of central casting) and she can’t get enough of it. Both girls are healthy and happy and bubbly and so much fun to be around.
The other day, I cried a little as I said goodbye to them before I left for an umpteenth trip to Italy.
“Don’t be sad, daddy,” said Georgia confidently. “You need to be happy on your trip!”
They’re both polite, sweet, and very social little girls and they really understand the importance of empathy and kindness to others. What a blessing they are to us!
Tracie continues to bake and sell “character cookies” and that’s been a fun adventure for her in part because of the new community it’s opened up to our family, both here in Houston and online. She recently made cookies for a best friend’s wedding in Manhattan but hasn’t abandoned all the baptisms and birthday parties where character cookies are needed here in our corner of southeast Texas. She’s also really been enjoying her work with Rodan + Fields skincare, another network and community that’s opened up to her through her professional life. As the girls become easier to care for, I think it’s been great for her to expand her social life through work. And the extra family income ain’t hurting either!
My marketing consulting business continues to thrive and I have some great new clients lined up for next year. But the thing I’m the most excited about is my new adjunct position with the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, which will become an EU-accredited institution of higher education next year. I taught one seminar there this year in Italian and next year, I’ll be teaching three seminars in the Master’s in Italian Wine Culture program — all in English. It’s funny how I’ve come full circle to being a teacher again, something I love and enjoy dearly. That Ph.D. came in handy after all!
I’ve handed off wine director duties at Sotto in Los Angeles to my colleague there but I will continue to consult on the wine program there as we prepare to open a new downtown restaurant called Rossoblu (part of the same restaurant group). Writing the list at Sotto was so rewarding, on so many levels. And now I’m really looking forward to writing a pan-Italian list, with a focus on sparkling wine, at the new venue.
All in all, there’s really not much to complain about. One of my career goals for 2017, I like to joke, is to go to Italy less (I made 9 trips there this year!). Not a bad problem to have, I guess…
The rapidly evolving political climate in the U.S. and Europe has both Tracie and me deeply concerned about the future of tolerance and humanity- and humanitarian-focused policy in the western world. And we are also carefully watching the December political reform referendum in Italy, which will ultimately affect so many people we love and people we work with. I haven’t shied from writing about my political and ideological views on the blog. The issues at stake are too important to me — and to the future of our family — for me to remain silent. In January, discourse and posturing will become action and activism. May G-d help us all. May G-d bless us all.
In the meantime, Tracie and the girls are the light and the joy that make me excited to get out of bed every morning and the images that I conjure in my mind when anxiety keeps me from sleep.
I hope this letter finds you all well. Sending much love and hope from Texas. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
P.S. I wasn’t able to do a wine club offering in time for Thanksgiving this year. But I’m planning one that will go out early next week. If you’re interested please let me know asap. I’ve already taken a lot of orders and the wine is going fast (even before the offer goes out).
P.P.S. In case you missed Parzen Family Singers’ new Christmas songs, click here to hear/download them! Happy holidays!