The Gow Family
The Neighborhood Yard by Cathy Gordon
Family Alma Mater Seeing Castroâ€™s Cuba NICU Babies Halloween Costume Fails Houston, TX Permit No. 2047 PAID US Postage PRSRT STD
Windsurfing Toward Rio
EDITOR’S NOTE Recently we were in a sea of Aggies at NRG Stadium cheering on Arizona State University, where our youngest son is a senior. ASU was getting stomped. Adding insult to injury, every time the UT/Notre Dame score flashed on the Jumbotron, the crowd went wild. Yes, my Longhorns were having a bad night too. I went to The University of Texas at Austin, and Michael went to Michigan State University. Neither one of our sons attended our alma maters, yet I proudly wear my SCAD and ASU Mom T-shirts. Unlike us, many Buzz families seem destined to have their children attend their alma maters. Meet these spirited families – the Russos, Traubers, Kaplans and Schneiders – in this month’s article. Also in this issue, get to know the Gow family – with their neighborhood sport court, they bring family game night to a whole new level. However you say it, Hook ’em, Gig ’em or Fork ’em, here’s to enjoying the game. email@example.com
THE BUZZ MAGAZINES BELLAIRE • WEST UNIVERSITY • MEMORIAL • TANGLEWOOD/RIVER OAKS Published by Hoffman Marketing & Media, LLC 5001 Bissonnet, Suite 100, Bellaire, Texas 77401 firstname.lastname@example.org • p: 713.668.4157 • f: 713.665.2940 Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter thebuzzmagazines.com Editor Publisher Associate Editors Design Manager Staff Writers
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Joni Hoffman Michael Hoffman Cheryl Laird Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld John Duboise Tracy L. Barnett Sharon Albert Brier Andria Frankfort Angie Frederickson Todd Freed Michelle Casas Groogan Dai Huynh Annie Blaylock McQueen Cheryl Ursin Morgan Bernard Allie Burrow Cathy Gordon Bonnie McSwain Inamdar Jay Janecek Andrea Blitzer Leslie Little Kim Montgomery Darsey Swaim Helen Hamilton Michele Luke
On our cover: The Gows’ yard is a neighborhood destination. From left: Lawson, Christopher, Wesley, parents Audrey and David, David Jr. and Sarah, with dog Clark. Cover photo by Michael Hart Photography, www.hartphoto.com The Buzz Magazines has made all reasonable attempts to verify the accuracy of all information contained within. Advertising claims are solely the responsibility of the advertiser. Copyright © 2015 Hoffman Marketing & Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any portion of this magazine by any means without written permission is strictly prohibited. Printed on recycled paper. Please remember to recycle.
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Your letters, thoughts, opinions Pleased with Ghost Bike article I was very glad that many “members” were included in the article on Houston Ghost Bike [Ghost Bikes: White bicycles memorialize riders, by Jennifer Oakley, September 2015]. Most of the time when the media does a piece on our group, it is about the people putting the bikes out, etc. Houston Ghost Bike is about the 1850-plus that make up its membership, and those that ride that have no idea that we exist. The few of us that put the bikes out do so for the honor of serving them. We do it for them and their loved ones. We were very pleased with your article. I think that you got the perfect mix of Houston Ghost Bike administration, regular members, victim families, cyclists and friends. It was an excellent and accurate representation. Thank you. Richard Tomlinson Happy and helpful news You helped keep me afloat. Imagine my joy in learning that a few of my entries were finalists in The Buzz Magazines’ yearly photo contest [The Buzz Magazines 2015 Photo Contest, July 2015]. You really buoyed my spirits; notification came just one day after I awoke to rising floodwaters in our home. As dawn broke, we observed fish swimming across our driveway, boats motoring down our street, and helicopters surveying the damage! In the days following Houston’s historic May flood, The Buzz magazine kept the neighborhood informed with late-breaking tweets. It was there that we first learned of vital community meetings and other useful flood recovery resources. Thank you, Jordan (associate editor Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld), for discovering and passing along these valuable neighborhood links, and for your coverage of the wonderful volunteer efforts following the disaster. Jan Buchholtz
Scholar-athletes deserve limelight Great to see all the recognition provided to the “Scholar Athletes” in your SportzBuzz section [by Todd Freed, August 2015]. The picture of Mr. Andre’ Walker, HISD AAD, presenting Rebekah Koehn with her award, set the tone for this positive and uplifting section. Proud parents love to see their children scoring touchdowns, making goals, hitting home runs, sinking that 3-pointer, etc. But when all is said and done, it’s those grades that often win the day (and the many days that follow after hanging
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up the cleats and stepping off the field of sports). So a big “Congratulations” to all those recognized for their successes in the classroom – in addition to those on the sports field. And a big “Thank You” to Todd Freed and The Buzz team for prominently highlighting these achievements. With respect to Rania [Mankarious’] good work on the Safety Tool Box report [Back-to-school guide for families, August 2015], my wife (Janet Hildebrandt Dowlearn) said she wished this had been available to her when our children were of school age (vs. college students/graduates). Robert T. Dowlearn
Friendship touches heart Loved seeing the Kvetchers on the cover of my Bellaire Buzz [Let’s Ride: Bicycling in Houston, by Cheryl Ursin, September 2015] and reading the related story. As I recently lost my mother, it was especially heartwarming to read about what Mark Mucasey and the group did for another member who lost his father. I have one word for Mark and this group: Mensches! Arlene Lassin Editor’s note: We are so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, and we were touched as well by the kindness of the Kvetchers bike buddies. Send letters to email@example.com. Please include your name, address, phone number and email address for verification purposes. Letters are subject to editing for clarity and space. Views expressed in letters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Buzz Magazines, and The Buzz takes no responsibility for the content and opinions expressed in them.
What’s your story? We are looking for residents for upcoming articles who: • Love all things fashion. • Spend the holidays with family in a destination spot every year. • Have a baby celebrating his or her first holiday season. • Have compelling, holiday-related stories to share. • Know an interesting neighbor to profile. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713.668.4157, ext 12.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 8:00 am to 6:00 pm Congregation Beth Yeshurun â€˘ 4525 Beechnut Find the perfect gift for family, friends, teachers, co-workers and yourself. Fashion, jewelry and accessories, gifts for the home, gifts for your pets, stationery, food, toys and so much more! Check out the BYDS Market Facebook page for more information. www.facebook.com/thebydsmarket For questions contact email@example.com or call 713.666.1884
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NEIGHBORS by Cathy Gordon, contributing writer
Neighborhood Yard At the Gows, everybody plays
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hump. Thump. Slow and deliberate like a drumbeat, the cadence echoes down leafy Sunset Boulevard in West University Place. Ears harken to the familiar sound, that of the bouncing ball and the whoosh as it meets net. Springy young legs hustle down the sidewalk to get in on the action. They know just where to go. It’s Game On at the Gow house. “Yeah, follow the sound of the bouncing ball. That’s sometimes how it starts. We’ve had tons of people here over the years, even 2 year olds with neighbors. Even grandpas,” says Audrey Gow, who has raised five yard-sport-addicted kids with husband David. Their lot is sports central, with a large grassy area for football, a full-size gymnast trampoline and an all-weather basketball court that lures game-trolling friends and neighbors like moths to the proverbial flame. “The yard, the house, the big family, these are the best parts of being a Gow. The Gow house is my happy place, and there are many out there without the last name Gow that I know would say the same,” says Rice graduate Lawson Gow, 26, who works for a global venture capital group. He is the eldest of siblings David Jr., 24, Christopher, 22, Sarah, 19, and Wesley, 14. Wesley, a freshman at St. John’s School, plays junior varsity football. Sarah studies psychology and sports administration at Pepperdine University and studies abroad this year in Buenos Aires. Christopher double majors in religion and math at Amherst College in Massachusetts and is captain of its football team with an undefeated 2014 record. David Jr. studies acting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. It’s a busy, talented bunch, this lot. But they’re always ready for a little fun when home. Yard sports provide bonding time, Lawson says, and their mom’s hospitality and cooking were the ingredients for a constant flow of amateur enthusiasts over the years. Ahh shucks, says Audrey, modest to the core. She sees their sports court as a blessing to share with others. “Every bit from God.” Dad David is the lifeblood behind this family
WHERE THERE’S A GOW, THERE’S A GAME The Gows’ yard is the ultimate destination for a pickup basketball game. From left: Lawson, Christopher, Wesley, parents Audrey and David, David Jr. and Sarah. Golden retriever Clark is the family’s resident escape artist.
tradition. As a youth in Houston, he played all manner of games in a neighbor’s yard, reveling in the competition and camaraderie. “We played tag, capture the flag, dodgeball, all sorts of things nearly every day of the week,” David says. “That kind of set a precedent. Once we had that lot next door, there were certain intentions. There was certainly an instinct to enable the neighborhood to come on over and play.” His company, Gow Media, owns two Houston sports-talk radio shows, ESPN 97.5 FM and Yahoo Sports Radio 1560 AM. In partnership with Yahoo Sports, the company creates radio
shows syndicated to stations across the country. David also is the announcer for St. John’s School varsity football games. Whether by genes or influence, his kids caught his sports bug. “Yeah, probably a good thing to have all that touch football under my belt,” says Christopher, who played for St. John’s School before Amherst College. “When we didn’t have enough people over for a game, trees would serve as receivers, so if you could hit a tree it would serve as a completion. When you played defense, you tried to stand in front of them and knock the ball down.” (continued on page 10)
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PLAY BY PLAY (Top photo) Family friend Mary Cooley Craddock captured a Gow football game in paint, a gift David and Audrey cherish. Craddock’s children spent many a day playing games in the Gow yard. (Bottom photos) The best pickup basketball game around is just outside the Gow family’s door. Lawson, Wesley, Christopher, Sarah and David Gow Jr. (from left) are ready to play.
David Jr. recalls “the tree game” too. “Any sport that you can possibly play on a front yard we have played, and those might even be outnumbered by the number of games we invented,” he says, calling their yard-sport obsession an “icebreaker” with strangers. “Neighbors from three blocks down would trickle in when they caught wind of a game being played.” Sarah, who competed statewide in gymnastics for several years, has fond memories of perfecting her routines on the trampoline. The apparatus was affectionately coined the “Sunset Tramp” by those who knew of its locale on Sunset Boulevard.
(continued from page 8)
“The Gows are kind of a West University legend, aren’t they?” quips family friend John McCarthy, 25, of his “surrogate family.” Now a medical student at the University of Virginia, he figures he owes thousands in food reimbursement. “Oh my gosh, all the meals! And Mr. Gow? Man, that guy is amazing with his running color commentary when you play at their place. Made you feel like you were on TV or something.” Yes, the Gows like to keep it fun. In addition to their dad’s booming, real-time play-by-plays, he would assign participants a professional sports star’s name for the duration of play. “But my dad
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decided that whenever my mom would play, she deserved the most female name possible, so her athlete name for every sport became Petina Effeminate,” recalls Lawson. “We’ve had a lot of fun here. It basically became like the neighborhood park,” says Wesley, who has done his fair share of ball retrievals from the neighbor’s yard. There have been other kinds of retrievals as well. Clark, the family’s golden retriever named for Superman’s character, has athletic powers of his own — the ability to escape said yard. “So yeah, we retrieve Clark,” says Audrey. “He’s an escape artist. That’s his sport.”
NEIGHBORS by Andria Frankfort, staff writer
Alma Mater Going to college, keeping tradition
or some kids, deciding where to go to college started long before their junior or senior year of high school. For some, it happened while they were still in a Pack ’n Play. “There’s lots of blue and orange in my family,” says Debbie Kaplan, whose daughter Brooke has just headed off to the University of Florida. “To say Brooke didn’t grow up as a Gator fan … well, she did.” Brooke, who graduated in May from The Emery/Weiner School, inevitably connected with the Gators growing up. Her mom, grandfather, two uncles and “various cousins and family members” went to Florida. Coming from a small high school, Brooke told her mom, “I’m telling you right now, when I go to college I’m going to a big university and I’m going away.” Debbie says, “She loved her experience here in Houston, but she was ready for a bigger pond.” Florida, with 50,000-plus students, clearly fit that bill. But when it came down to making a decision, Brooke wasn’t immediately sold. Brooke applied to several big, southern, state schools – Alabama, Texas, Georgia and South Carolina, to name a few. And she had a lot of choices. Debbie says, “She knew she wanted a good journalism school and a big setting. Secretly I was like, ‘Yeah, it would be wonderful for her to choose Florida.’ But at the same time, it was a decision she had to make. It was the same with [her dad] Rick, who went to Alabama. So the day she found out she got in to Florida, I had to step back and let her go through the process.” It took a month for Brooke to finally decide. “Yes, I was chomping when she chose Florida!” Debbie says, referring to the “Gator Chomp,” that Florida fans do: Put your arms out straight, one high, and chomp-clap like an alligator. “The whole experience has brought back memories,” Debbie says. “It’s hard because this is her experience. But I’ve had my own experience at the same place, and it’s hard not to put my opinions in, but she’s totally different from me. “I was an RA [resident advisor], I was in the band, I was very involved on campus. I’m still very connected and go to a lot of alumni things and drive around with gators on my license plates. But I have to put into perspective this is her journey, not mine.
GATOR CHOMP Top photo: Debbie Kaplan shows her freshman daughter Brooke the ropes at her alma mater, the University of Florida. Bottom photo: Debbie didn’t wait all the way until college years to take little Brooke to campus.
There has to be a balance between the mom and the alumni who knows the ropes.” Leticia and Steve Trauber share that dilemma. Both graduates of Rice University, along with Leticia’s sister and a brother who currently attends business school at Rice, the Traubers are supremely active donors and volunteers at the university. “I’ve been on the basketball search committee, I chaired a reunion with the Rice alumni association, we’ve both served on the Rice alumni board, I’m on the Rice business school board, she’s on Friends of Fondren [Library].” The list goes on. Steve, who is vice chairman at Citi Investment Bank, and Leticia are fond of Rice not only for the college experience they had there, but also because they met there. “When I was a sophomore, myself and my best friend were on the basketball team,” Steve says. “We were freshman counselors at the only allgirls dorm on campus for freshman orientation. Leticia ended up being one of my best friend’s freshmen, and we got to be really, really good friends. After a year and a half we started dating, and we married two and a half years later.” With that history, was there pressure for their son J.T., now a sophomore, to go to Rice? “I wouldn’t say we were pushing it, but I would say we certainly encouraged it,” Steve says. “I applied to Stanford and thought about Duke, but in the end I thought Rice was the best choice for me,” J.T. says. “I love the city of Houston. I grew up here my entire life. I grew up a big Rice basketball fan, a big Rice football fan.
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It already kind of felt like home.” Because he’s here, J.T., who played Rice basketball as a freshman last year, was able to return this year to his high school alma mater, St. John’s School, to be assistant coach for their basketball team. And he generally loves being close to home. “I can stay away from my parents as much as I need to or go out to dinner with them as much as I want,” J.T. says. “Or I can have my mom cook dinner for me on the weekends.” About his family’s involvement on campus, J.T. says, “it’s nice ’cause the teachers know my name, so it’s a good way to start a conversation or meet a teacher.” For their part, J.T.’s parents are thrilled. “We love Rice,” Steve says. “Besides being family, we have that camaraderie of (continued on page 14)
ALL ABOUT OWLS Main photo: J.T. Trauber plays basketball for Rice University, like his dad, Steve Trauber. Inset photo: Leticia and Steve Trauber, here at the 1983 Rondelet formal, began dating while at Rice. J.T. attended the Rondelet last year.
WILD FOR WOLVERINES Top photo: Jamie Schneider is attending the University of Michigan this fall, following in her mom Julie's footsteps. Bottom photo: Back in Julie Schneider’s college days, she and her mom, Brenda Yosowitz, attend a Michigan game together. (continued from page 12) being a Rice Owl in com-
mon. We can all cheer Rice on.” Dede and Steven Russo, she an attorney and he a wealth manager, also met in college, at The University of Texas, but they “weren’t super involved with UT except to be sports fans all these years,” Dede says. So when their three daughters – Allie, now graduated, Lizzie, a junior, and Lanie, a sophomore – all wound up at Texas, the Russos decided to become more active alumni. “We joined the Presidents Council [a higherlevel, charitable, giving group at UT], and this year we’re co-chairs of the President’s Circle,” Dede says. “One of our jobs is to recruit old alumni and try to get more families involved at UT. “That’s one thing that’s unique about UT. Even though the student goes there, they get families involved in different ways. There are lectures in what they’re doing at the different colleges, from the art museums and amazing archives in the library to some of the best professors in the world. It’s been really neat for Steven and I to get involved.” Did the Russo girls feel pressure to go to Texas? “I have to admit that I have pictures of them when they were little in UT cheerleader outfits,” Dede says. “But my sister was buying them TCU outfits at the same time. “We went to football games, so they were very familiar with it. It was easy because it’s only two and a half hours away. But if they had wanted to go somewhere else it would have been okay.”
Dede and Steven say they feel “lucky” that UT mixes both academic and social, and that their girls can thrive in both areas. “For me the most fun has been reconnecting with my friends,” Dede says. “My daughters have made friends with other daughters and sons of people Steven and I knew when we were there. Every time I go to Austin I run into someone at a football game or hotel or restaurant who we knew back in the day. I sound like my mother and say, ‘Oh, I knew their parents!’ But it’s been neat.” Julie Schneider, a retired pediatrician, says the same thing about her daughter Jamie’s decision to attend her alma mater, the University of Michigan. “I’ve reconnected with lots of friends who have kids there already or will be freshmen,” Julie says. “With Facebook it’s been wonderful. They’re looking out for her.” Julie and her husband Peter took Jamie to see Michigan at the beginning of her junior year at The Emery/Weiner School. “I wanted to take her early because if she didn’t like it, I was going to stop talking about it. But if she did, I was going to continue encouraging it.” Jamie loved it. “When I went with my parents it was the first college I ever visited, even before UT,” she says. “I didn’t know what to expect so I was pretty open-minded. We went to a football game, and I thought it was fun. “Then I went senior year and had been to other college campuses. That time I got to stay with my camp friend and that was more of a, ‘Do
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I want to go here?’ trip, more of a real experience. It was really fun but also laid back, and I liked that I didn’t know a lot of people there.” Jamie did apply to other schools, but she applied early action to Michigan. The decision wasn’t binding, but she found out in December that she got in. Julie says she knew then that Jamie’s decision was made. “It was one of those days I’ll never forget,” Julie says. “She went on the computer and yelled, ‘Mom, I got in!’ I was so happy and had little tears. Then I went out and got all this blue and yellow and flowers and candy and balloons. “I know this is the right place for Jamie. She’s an overachiever, but I know she also wants to have fun. It’s highly academic, but there’s tons of spirit, Greek life, social, football. I look forward to going back to parents’ weekend in November!”
George Brainard Photography
HOOK â€™EM Main photo: Lizzie, Allie, Lanie, Dede and Steven Russo (from left) are dedicated UT Austin fans. Inset photo. Years before they wound up official Longhorns, these cousins were cheering on their team. Top row, from left: Clarke Henderson, Allie Russo, Mary Alex Knight, Meredith Knight, Lizzie Russo; bottom row, from left: Lanie Russo, Mabry Franklin.
SPORTS by Morgan Bernard, contributing writer
Windsurfing Toward Rio Buzz resident aims for Olympics Will Ricketson/US Sailing Team Sperry
arson Crain grew up in the middle of Houston, a city more known for sports on grass than on open, wind-swept water. Yet this Rice University student and St. John’s School graduate is hoping to make his way to the Olympics – as a windsurfer. This summer, after training in Toronto, Carson competed in RS:X windsurf racing in the Pan American Games as part of the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry. He placed sixth overall, putting him one step closer to qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Back in the summer of 2000, Carson’s parents, Malinda and Alan Crain, took him and his brother Phillip to Maine, to the Northeast Harbor Sailing School, where Carson had his first experience sailing an Optimist sailboat, a small, single-handed dinghy for children. Sailing came naturally, and he began racing competitively, competing mostly in Galveston. In 2005, Carson was competing in the Texas Youth Sailing Regatta in Corpus Christi when he met Paul Foerster of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Sailing team. Foerster let Carson hold his Olympic gold medal, and at that moment, Carson says, he made reaching the Olympics his life goal. He began to compete in higher-stakes races, traveling abroad, to Holland, for the first time in 2006. Carson switched to the Laser, a more-sophisticated boat used in Olympic sailing events. For three years, he honed his skills and became a top competitor in his age group. In 2011, with his senior year of high school approaching, Carson faced a decision. The Laser is typically sailed by larger athletes. At the time, Carson was a shaggy, blonde 18 year old who weighed 165 pounds. Carson decided to take a huge risk and switch to windsurfing. He’d never done it before, but with his size and ability, he thought it would be a better fit to reach the highest competitive levels in order to keep his Olympic dreams alive. While windsurfing and sailing are similar in concept, windsurfing is a far more physical version of the sport. Most people think of windsurfing, and assume that wave riding is involved, but in racing, that is not the case. In windsurf racing the athlete stands on a board with a sail and uses
SMOOTH SAILING Carson displays the American flag on his sail, as he enjoys the lead in a race.
strength to balance and generate momentum through pumping. Carson’s coach, Kevin Stittle, says his student has natural talent. “Carson is one of the newest and youngest windsurfers on the Men’s RS:X international circuit. He continues to impress the more experienced competitors with his remarkable progress and his determination to be the very best.” Carson trains hard on land to get as fit as possible for competition. His trainer, Hayden Cowie, says, “Carson is absolutely the most dedicated athlete I have ever worked with. He is serious about his workouts, always gives 110 percent and never makes excuses.” Carson’s training paid off, and he was able to make the transition to windsurfing seamlessly, opening a new chapter in his life, full of competition and travel all over the world. With high school graduation approaching at St. John’s, Carson made yet another important decision. He had been accepted to the College of Charleston in South Carolina, known for its prestigious sailing program, but he didn’t want to leave his coach and trainer back in Houston. In June 2012, Carson’s prayers were answered when he received notice of his late acceptance
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to Houston’s Rice University. At Rice, Carson could continue his training, while studying sports management and sports medicine. “Choosing to attend Rice pretty much kickstarted my Olympic campaign and allowed me to study what I wanted to study. In two years I’ve only taken three finals at Rice; the rest I took while traveling.” Over this past year, windsurfing has taken Carson to Brazil, Spain, France, Italy, Maui, Holland, Canada, Sweden and his favorite, New Zealand (where he also competed in stand-up paddleboard racing). At the ISAF World Cup in Miami in January, Carson placed first among his fellow U.S. sailing teammates in the RS:X Windsurfing Championships, cementing his place as a top American contender. There is still a long journey ahead if Carson is going to reach Rio next summer. Success at upcoming races in Miami, Spain and Oman would put him one step closer to qualification and, just maybe, an Olympic medal of his own.
MORE ONLINE See this story at thebuzzmagazines.com for links to Carson’s website, Instagram and Twitter.
Will Ricketson/US Sailing Team Sperry
CRUISING Carson sails past a competitor while racing in Brazil.
by Annie Blaylock McQueen, staff writer
Buzz Baby is a column about life with babies from the perspective of a first-time mother. If you have baby stories to share, leave a comment under this article at thebuzzmagazines.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ost parents-to-be envision their child’s birth. The baby arrives, and moments later, they are holding their newborn child, skin to skin, and those cherished pictures are snapped. For some parents, that vision doesn’t always pan out if the baby needs to immediately be taken to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, otherwise known as the NICU. My twins went to the NICU at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. I got to hold them briefly, and, luckily, a nurse took a photo, but then away they went with the NICU team. The worst part for me after that was waiting to see them. I was hit with a tidal wave of nausea from the medicine, so I had to wait many agonizing hours until the nurse felt it was a good idea for me to stand up. The next worst part for me was being discharged from the hospital without my babies. The nursery was done. The diapers were ready. I was no longer pregnant. But where were my babies? Our house seemed extra quiet that night. On top of everything else, my new mother hormones were spinning. I knew they were where they needed to be, but I was heartbroken inside. I remember walking upstairs to see them for the first time. At our hospital, they divided the babies into rooms called pods. Our babies were doing well and were stable so we did not see any of the very sick babies. But I knew they were there. I could feel their presence and the parents’ heartbreak in the quiet hallways. My heart was beating out of my chest as I checked in at the desk. Would I have to see the babies through plate glass? Could I hold them? I was clueless. The room was the size of a typical school classroom with six babies, three on each side. It felt relaxing. Quiet. It was not what I was expecting. I had my own rocking chair. I could breastfeed, hold and rock them. After a week,
they were moved to the “step down” floor, where we even had a private room with a couch. After a few days, and seeing the babies thrive, my husband and I had an epiphany. Wait. This whole NICU thing isn’t so bad. We had a team of experienced doctors, nurses, volunteers and lactation consultants all there to help us. As new parents and parents to twins, we needed all the help we could get. We changed our attitudes and began to view their stay in the NICU as something positive. At night when we slept, we knew we were only eight miles away from them. For other moms, like Elizabeth Canfield and her husband Kyle, an electrical contractor, the thought of having MOTHER LOVE After Rory Bellow went into premature labor on a flight, baby Collins a child stay in a spent time in the NICU. Today, she is 18 months old and healthy. Houston NICU baby boy named Luke. would have been a welcomed opportunity. “I woke up around 4 a.m. not feeling well. We Back in summer 2012, and 29 weeks pregwent to the clinic in Telluride, and they decided nant with her first, Elizabeth, along with Kyle, I needed to go to the hospital in Montrose packed up and flew to Telluride, Colo., for a [Colorado],” said Elizabeth. She was in labor. family vacation. There was no time to (continued on page 20) Elizabeth returned 45 days later, mom to a
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TOGETHER NOW Big brother Samuel Sweeney (pictured, first photo, with parents Emily and Ryan holding twins Asher and Jude) was 18 months old at the time of the twins’ premature birth. Jude and Asher (second photo, from left) spent nearly five months in a neonatal intensive care unit. (continued from page 18) think. Luke was coming,
quickly. As they passed through the Dallas Divide mountain pass by ambulance, Luke was born. He weighed 2 pounds, 15 ounces, but was stable and strong. He spent 45 days in the closest NICU to them, which was St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. “I would go to his room every morning for his first [feedings] and stay until 10 every night,” said Elizabeth. “I would sleep in a chair. It was such a learning curve, [being a] first-time mom and a mother of a preemie.” Elizabeth says her family traveled back and forth to visit. In the end, she found the silver lining. “It was a blessing in disguise that we were so far from home,” said Elizabeth. “It allowed me to concentrate only on Luke. I didn’t have to worry about the house, the dog or anything else.” Early arrival often means a NICU stay until the baby’s “due date.” When mother-of-two Rory Bellow and her husband Beau, who works in commercial real estate, were on a 65-minute flight home from the family ranch, she went into unexpected labor while 30 weeks pregnant with their first child. By the time the plane landed, her contractions were closing in at 30 seconds apart. They rushed to Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Minutes after check-in, Collins Julaine Bellow was born, weighing a tiny 3 pounds, 14 ounces, and stretching 16.5 inches long. “It felt like a movie,” said Rory. “Running through the halls on the gurney, lots of yelling, the nurses telling me to not push.” Collins was stable but needed time to grow and spent the next six weeks in the NICU at Texas Children’s. Rory said the initial shock was overwhelming. “The terror of knowing you are going to have a baby so early is blinding,” she said.
From the day Rory and Beau were discharged from the hospital, they spent as much time as they could with Collins. They eventually were moved into a private room (which can happen if the baby is more stable), making things more comfortable. “[At first], we could hold her for a few minutes once a day, but it depended on her vital signs,” said Rory. “I would wait up there because I didn’t want to miss that.” Collins came home happy and healthy after about six weeks. For other parents, like Emily Sweeney and her husband Ryan, managing partner with Streetwise Land Advisors, coping with a child’s stay in the NICU was even more complicated with a toddler at home. Their twin boys, Asher and Jude, were born one day shy of 25 weeks gestation in February 2013 at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. With their 18-month-old toddler, Samuel, at home, each day they had to juggle. “He was still very little, very needy,” said Emily. Children under 2 were not permitted in the NICU. Samuel was going to have to wait many months to meet his new brothers. So the stunned parents faced their 5-month NICU stay head on. “I remember changing their tiny saltine packet-sized diapers at first and being amazed and terrified,” said Emily. They also accepted help from family and friends. “I didn’t grocery shop for six-plus weeks because my friends took care of it for me,” said Emily. Emily spent her days at the hospital, and Ryan, who was working, spent nights. “In the first several weeks, I was at the NICU almost all of the daytime, and at home for dinner, bath time and bedtime for Samuel. When [they] became more stable, I spent about six hours per day at the NICU and my afternoons and evenings with Samuel. Ryan would visit the twins in the evenings after Samuel had
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 20
gone to bed.” After a long 141 days, Jude came home, and nine days later, his twin brother followed. The Sweeneys finally were a family of five under one roof. No more wires. No more machines. No more people. Emily says during her experience, she leaned on two friends who had babies born around the same gestational age. “I always tell people that [being a NICU parent] is a club that you don’t want to have to join, but if you do, you’re glad that it exists because [my friends] were the biggest help.” Anyone who has had a child in the NICU knows how attached parents can get to the nurses. They are the first people you see when you walk in the room. They are the ones who teach you how to change their tiny diapers and feed them. They are the ones who love your babies and treat parents with compassion. Lauren Nikolic, a NICU nurse at Children’s Memorial Hermann, was a comforting presence during our newborn twins’ stay. We’ve stayed in touch and see her from time to time. “I recently took care of a baby who was finally able to wear clothes for the first time,” Lauren told me recently. “He was practically swimming in a preemie-sized onesie, but his mom and dad kept remarking on how big he was. Perspective is everything. I love watching parents get excited over the little things. Watching parents change a teeny tiny diaper for the first time is so special.” So, while our NICU days are moving further into the past, I can still close my eyes and hear the beeping sounds of the machines. I can still smell their fresh baby skin as I held them against my hospital gown (which you are required to wear in the NICU). I can see the nurses burping tiny babies. We are part of the NICU family now, and I will be forever grateful.
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TRAVEL by Tracy L. Barnett, staff writer
Travel Buzz Castro’s Cuba – Before it’s too late
elly and Carmela Frels grew up in the Cold War era. The Cuban Revolution, the Bay of Pigs, and the standoff with the Soviet Union that nearly led to a nuclear war marked their lives profoundly. For John and Becky Luman, it all amounted to a footnote in history – something you learned about in school, but didn’t fully understand. Now, with the gradual opening of Cuba, both couples took advantage of trips to the island organized through The University of Texas alumni association, the “Texas Exes” – and despite their quite different perspectives at the outset, both couples came away from the experience similarly enthusiastic. The moment attorney and lobbyist John Luman learned of the Flying Longhorns’ new weeklong tour offering, he was on board. “Growing up as a kid, Cuba was right off the coast; it was a communist country, it was Caribbean – which has always been something I’ve enjoyed. It was one of those places that you always heard of as stuck in time, with all those old cars, and you couldn’t go there. And when someone tells you that you can’t do something, you want to do it even more,” John recalls with a laugh. For a long time it’s been possible to travel to Cuba through such people-to-people exchanges, typically organized by nonprofits, church groups and other associations. Attorney Laura Gibson, for example, who is currently serving as president of the Houston Bar Association, and her husband, Bill Ogden, jumped at the chance to join the Executive Women’s Partnership in an organized trip to Cuba in 2012 after having accompanied the group on tours in Turkey in 2009 and China in 2011. Such trips are typically educational, cultural or service-oriented in nature, and still highly regulated; one must request and receive approval from the U.S. Treasury Department in order to travel there on specially chartered flights. Americans aren’t yet allowed to vacation on Cuba’s pristine beaches, as European and Canadian tourists do; they are, however, allowed to explore the magnificent yet crumbling architectural showcase that is Old Havana, walk the
SEASIDE PLEASURES John and Becky Luman steal a few precious moments from their educational tour to dip their toes in the Caribbean at the Villa Yaguanabo beach, Cienfuegos, Cuba.
shady streets and plazas of Spanish Colonial-era cities like Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Sancti Spiritus, and enjoy the musical, dance and artistic offerings of a vibrant culture. Now, with the United States’ reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, the day is getting closer when any U.S. traveler can jump on a plane and head straight for the Cuban beach resorts, just as they do with neighboring Dominican Republic, Barbados or the U.S. Virgin Isles. Along with that pending change comes a lot of excitement – along with a certain amount of concern. When Kelly and Carmela told friends of their pending trip, the responses they received tended to be in two very distinct categories. “There were those who said, ‘Oooh that’s neat – how in the world are you doing that?’” said Carmela. “Then you have the more conservative environment of people; some think you’re supporting a communist government, giving Castro money – that phrase was used.” She and Kelly, also a Texas alum who followed the Lumans’ example on a 2014 Flying Longhorns trip, are of that generation that saw a Cuba divided, with wealthy and business-class families fleeing the country with whatever they could carry. “We have friends who left Cuba extraordi-
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narily concerned about the human-rights violations,” said Carmela. For the Lumans it was similar, but a generation or two removed. “We’ve met many people who have a Cuban base. We know their grandparents had to escape and left everything behind because of the Revolution; understandably, it is very hard for them to get over that.” But their travels found the Lumans and the Frels comparing notes and arriving at the same conclusions. “It was neat to hear Kelly talk the same way I did,” said John. “He was all excited about opening up Cuba the same way we were. My dad was a World War II sailor in the Pacific Islands. We had the same issues there when we first started trade with Japan, but people eventually came around.” Neither the Frels nor the Lumans – nor Laura Gibson, for that matter – are the types of travelers who generally take tours; they like the freedom of planning their own itinerary. But in the case of Cuba, where travel is still heavily regulated by the U.S. government, a package tour can have the double benefit of getting travelers through the red tape, while providing context, and access to places one wouldn’t ordinarily visit: a magnet school for the arts, where travelers watched a professional-level dance performance in the breezeway of (continued on page 24)
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 23
PICASSO OF THE CARIBBEAN “Fusterlandia” is an art complex on the outskirts of Havana where Cuban artist José Rodríguez Fuster has used the neighborhood as a canvas for his Picasso- and Gaudi-inspired art. From left are Buzz-resident travelers Bill Ogden, Laura Gibson, Lynne Liberato and James Flodine. (continued from page 22) the decaying Soviet-era
high rise that was the dancers’ school; a neighborhood where residents banded together to clean up mountains of trash and turn it into an art mosaic; another neighborhood that had organized a beautiful organic community garden, as many neighborhoods and villages did when the Soviets pulled out of Cuba in 1989. Already cut off from the Western world by the U.S. embargo, the fall of the Soviet Union threw Cuba into a crisis that they refer to as “The Special Time,” when, cut off from their main source of petroleum and many other industrially produced materials, they were forced to improvise and learn how to make do with what they had, or face starvation. This insider’s view was especially interesting for Becky, a civil engineer and founder of Healthy Tweaks, a business encouraging sustainable living. “They took us to this fabulous organic cooperative farm where you could feed yourself and your family from the harvest if you came and worked. It struck me that we could use some of these sustainable community gardens in urban Houston,” she said. “It was fascinating to see how Cuba had to adjust with their minimized economy.” To Laura, too, what stood out was the warmth and resourcefulness of the people. “The architecture was beautiful, but it was very clear they have been living without a lot of creature comforts for a very long time,” she said. “It made me think of times gone by; the pace of life is much
slower, they don’t have all the electronics, their cars are old – you’d see five men all poring their heads over the engine of a car, working together to figure out how to get it running.” The sense that one has stepped back into another era is overwhelming. The first thing many people notice is the cars – the 1950s-era Chevys and Fords, painted in bright colors and cherished like babies. Newer cars – ’70s and ’80s models – are mostly of Soviet make, and new cars are practically nonexistent. A few miles out into the countryside, farmers are getting around on wagons strapped to mules or oxen. In Old Havana, Laura saw a shop using an 80-year-old printing press to print newspapers. And Carmela marveled at a tiny corner store where the proprietor kept a little blackboard with a list of the goods her store offered and an old vintage brass cash register with one side missing. “She was so proud of her tiny store – she has one package of sugar, one package of flour, one package of salt, and you bought a portion of that. Her blackboard gave the amount of what she could sell you, like you could buy a fourth of a cup of salt.” The Cold War lives on in Cuba, where the billboards carry revolutionary slogans and denouncements of the U.S. embargo instead of ads for hamburgers and hotel chains. And the first, apparently obligatory stop for every tourist is Revolutionary Square, where towering images of Che Guevara and other revolutionaries adorn the sides of buildings.
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 24
All of the travelers came away with a deep appreciation for a unique and resilient country, and a more nuanced perspective on what the U.S. relationship with Cuba should be going forward. “The trip changed our view on Cuba, in the sense that they’re really not ready for us to come over there and have at it,” said John. “We’ve always believed that Cuba should be opened and the social and economic transition could take care of itself – but now after experiencing it, from a purely logistical perspective and sensing people are not ready, we’re still for it but think we need to be careful of what we do there not to overwhelm them.” Laura said she came to appreciate the Cubans. “Americans tend to think we are more privileged than most,” she said. “I think the reality is that because of the pace of life we live, we’re missing out on a lot. It makes you jealous in some ways … to see people sitting in an un-air-conditioned room listening to music…. It seems like they’re more thoughtful about what they do, they’re not as rushed... And I can’t tell you how many times I saw people sharing things – they’d run into their house to get something and work together… It’s not about the stuff. It makes you realize, it’s not what you have – it’s how you live.”
MORE ONLINE For links to Cuba tours, see this story at thebuzzmagazines.com.
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FOOD by Bonnie McSwain Inamdar, contributing writer
Cooking Buzz The perfect potluck Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.
othing puts me in a better mood than the lovely month of October. Temperatures finally start to dip below the 80s, and I burn off the last steam of summer. Candles are lit, coffee shops serve seasonal favorites, and fall boots are finally unveiled. October brings about a seasonal sweet spot – the holidays are just on the horizon, yet the frantic bustling hasn’t yet kicked in. It’s a time to savor the moment with friends and family over long, lazy evenings with delicious fare. If I’m lucky, I will be on the receiving end of a fall gathering invite. When that happens, I turn to no-stress recipes as my contribution to the perfect potluck. The following recipes from the Junior League of Houston cookbook Peace Meals make for a hearty fall menu when served together, or each can stand alone as a single dish. For an easy yet impressive appetizer, I enjoy the Classic Bruschetta al Pomodoro or the Crostini Tapenade. Both use warm, crusty bread as their base, the very symbol of hospitality. They are delicious on their own or make for a colorful spread when paired together. Both the Pomodoro spread and the Tapenade can be made in advance and refrigerated, making the end result very easy to spoon onto warm bread as my guests are arriving. Soup is always a staple in my house, to warm up as the first chilly breeze rushes through the air. Roasted Balsamic Tomato Soup is perfect for light suppers. This robust, flavorful soup takes a childhood favorite into adulthood. Once prepared, it can be transported easily in a crockpot. I like to serve the soup with a grown-up grilled cheese for a nostalgic meal when I reminisce with old friends. Another classic dish is the Farmers Market Lasagna. Don’t underestimate this vegetarian dish – it’s packed with enough healthy flavors to satisfy any carnivore. Although good for any time of year, the unexpected flavoring of nutmeg makes it especially appropriate for late fall. Goat cheese and pine nuts add depth to this recipe,
EVERYBODY LIKES LASAGNA The unexpected nutmeg flavoring in the vegetarian Farmers Market Lasagna makes it a good choice for fall weather.
and a variety of vegetable substitutions make it easily adaptable. I like to make two and freeze one for the hectic holiday nights ahead, or be a hero and deliver one to a sick friend or new mother. October would not be complete without a pumpkin dessert. Pumpkin Bread Pudding turns all things fall – ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin – into a sweet and warm finish. You can’t go wrong with a dish that suggests being served with fresh whipped cream on top. This is sure to be a hit with your favorite ghosts and goblins.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar Coarse salt and freshly grounded pepper Preheat the oven to broil. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast under the broiler until golden and crisp. Turn the slices over and toast until the second side is golden and crisp. Rub the toasted bread immediately with garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Combine the tomatoes, basil, olive oil and vinegar in a bowl. Top the bruschetta with the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 24 pieces.
Classic Bruschetta al Pomodoro From Peace Meals 1 loaf of rustic Italian bread such as ciabatta, cut into ½ to ¾ inch slices Al Pomodoro: 2 medium tomatoes, chopped 2 to 3 cloves garlic, slightly crushed Extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup fresh basil chiffonade
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Crostini Tapenade From Peace Meals 1 thin loaf Italian bread or French baguette, cut into ¼- to ½-inch slices Tapenade: 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
1½ cups fresh parsley 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence Freshly ground pepper ¼ cup olive oil ½ cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese Truffle oil 1 bunch fresh basil chiffonade Preheat the oven to 350° F. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden and crisp. Turn the slices over and bake until the second side is lightly golden and crisp. Remove the crostini from the oven and set aside. Place the garlic, olives, pine nuts, parsley and Herbes de Provence in a food processor; season with pepper. Process until smooth, adding the olive oil slowly while the blade is running. Top each crostini with the desired amount of tapenade and ParmigianoReggiano; broil just until the cheese is melted. Drizzle with truffle oil and top with basil. Serve warm. Makes about 40 pieces.
Roasted Balsamic Tomato Soup From Peace Meals 2 cups beef broth, divided 2 Tablespoons loosely packed brown sugar 6 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar 2 Tablespoons soy sauce 2 cups chopped onions 8 garlic cloves, whole 4 28-ounce canned whole tomatoes, drained 1½ cups half-and-half Freshly ground pepper Fresh basil chiffonade Note: Look for good quality canned Italian tomatoes; diced can be substituted for whole, but crushed do not have the same full flavor. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Combine one cup of the broth, the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Lightly oil two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes. Divide the onions, garlic and tomatoes between the prepared dishes. Pour the broth mixture evenly over the tomatoes and bake for 50 minutes or until lightly browned. Pour the remaining cup of broth and half-andhalf over the toasted tomatoes, dividing equally between the dishes. Allow to cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the tomato mixture in a blender until smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a stockpot, discarding the solids. Heat gently over medium. Finish with pepper and basil. Serves 8.
Farmers Market Lasagna From Peace Meals 8 ounces fresh baby spinach 2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus additional if needed 2 shallots, diced ¾ cup pine nuts 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 pint small cherry tomatoes, halved 2 teaspoons nutmeg Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
BREAKING BREAD When paired, the Classic Bruschetta al Pomodoro and the Crostini Tapenade make a colorful spread.
8 ounces nonfat ricotta cheese 6 ounces goat cheese, room temperature ½ cup chopped fresh parsley ½ cup chopped fresh basil, plus additional 24 ounces prepared sun-dried-tomato pasta sauce 9 to 12 no-boil lasagna noodles 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Note: Eggplant, yellow squash or mushrooms may be substituted for the zucchini. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Blanch the spinach in boiling water until wilted; remove to a colander and rinse with cold water. Press out the water and blot with a paper towel. Lightly oil the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium, and sauté the shallots, pine nuts and garlic for 3 to 5 minutes, adding additional olive oil (or white wine) to keep the ingredients moist while cooking. Add the spinach, tomatoes and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper, and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. In a bowl, stir together the ricotta and goat cheese; add the parsley and basil. To assemble the lasagna, put a very thin layer of the pasta sauce on the bottom of the prepared dish. Next, layer 3 or 4 of the lasagna noodles, half of the spinach mixture, half of the cheese mixture, and half of the zucchini and top with a thin layer of sauce. Repeat the layering, beginning with another layer of lasagna noodles. Finish with a layer of lasagna noodles topped with a thin layer of sauce. Sprinkle the Parmesan
cheese over the lasagna. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. If necessary, cover the lasagna with foil to prevent too much browning. Allow the lasagna to rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with additional basil. Serves 6-8.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding From Peace Meals 1 loaf brioche or challah bread, cubed 4 eggs 4 cups (1 quart) heavy whipping cream 2 cups sugar 3 cups canned pumpkin puree 1½ teaspoons cinnamon 1½ teaspoons ground allspice 1½ teaspoons ground ginger ¼ teaspoon salt Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9by-13-inch baking dish and set aside. Place the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, cream, sugar, pumpkin and spices. Slowly add the bread to the mixture, allowing it to absorb the liquid (do not stir the bread into mush). When the bread is saturated, place the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes until crisp and brown. (Top with fresh whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon for a special touch.) Serves 8. Editor’s note: To buy a cookbook, see www.jlh.org or call 713-871-6608.
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 27
by Todd Freed, staff writer
ack in 2007, a junior quarterback by the name of Andrew Luck led Stratford to victory over the rival Memorial Mustangs. Of course, Luck is now an NFL superstar, but back at his high school alma mater, the Spartans had gone winless against Memorial since that 2007 game – until this year’s decisive 34-7 season-opening victory over the Mustangs. Quarterbacking the 2015 version of the Spartans is senior Michael Milstead, who posted some big passing numbers in the victory, including three touchdown passes to wide receiver Torin Justice. “It was a great team win,” said Milstead. “Our offensive line gave me a lot of opportunity to throw the ball, and our defense kept putting us back on the field. Also, I just threw it up to our play makers, and they made the plays.” One of the major play makers again for the Spartans this season is highly recruited running back Rakeem Boyd, who is coming off a spectacular season in which he rushed for over 2,000 yards. While Boyd just recently committed to play college football at Texas A&M, the senior sensation is more focused on leading a highly ranked Stratford team to a deep run in the postseason playoffs. “I definitely want to see us make a run at state,” said Boyd. “The Memorial game was a lot of fun and was definitely a great way to kick things off.” Also certainly pleased with the victory was Spartans head coach Eliot Allen. “I have a lot of respect for Memorial,” said Allen. “Hopefully, that type of victory will propel us to a great season. It was a really good win for our program.” In volleyball, the Bellaire Cardinals jumped out to a spectacular start to the season, having won the championship of the Spring Branch ISD tournament, and then finishing in the top 20 among a field of the state’s top 88 teams in the prestigious Pearland tournament. In addition, the Cardinals were ranked 15th in the state one month into the season, marking the highest state ranking in school history. “We have a group of talented, hard working and disciplined kids,” said Cardinals head coach Ap Clarke. The Cardinals’ roster boasts several talented players, including senior outside hitter
BACK TO BACK WORLD CHAMPS For the second consecutive year, the West U Senior League All-Stars captured the Senior League World Series Championship. West U is the first U.S. team to win consecutive senior championships.
Sundara Chin, who was named the MVP of the Spring Branch tournament. “Sundara is an explosive, 6-foot, left-handed hitter who leads us in kills,” said Clarke. Also leading the way for Bellaire are junior twins Maya and Megan Evans. Maya is a mid hitter while Megan is a setter for the Cardinals. “They know each other so well,” said Clarke. “Megan just feeds Maya perfectly. Maya also leads us in blocking while Megan has great hands and sets the tempo for our team.” Other top players, according to Clarke, include junior libero (defensive specialist) Ella Hawes and senior outside hitter Jade Robinson. “Ella does such a great job getting the ball to our hitters, while Jade is one of our senior captains. She’s an extremely hard hitter and an especially great blocker.” Just before the start of the school year, several local baseball players earned the distinction of World Champions, with the West U Senior League All-Stars winning the Senior League World Series for the second year in a row, and for the league’s third world title. “We’re just blessed with extremely talented kids who grew up in the same general area in West U,” said West U All-Stars manager Chris Sauls. “It’s really pretty incredible. We’re the
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 28
only USA team to ever win back-to-back championships and also the only USA team to win three World Series titles. This year’s team is pretty much the same core of kids that won it all last year.” The core of players was led by Jimmy Winston and John Doxakis, who had outstanding tournaments both on the pitching mound and at the plate for West U. Doxakis was the only player in the entire World Series who had a home run in the tournament. Doxakis and Winston are also two of several players on the West U team who play high school baseball at Lamar. Outfielder Jared Burch (Episcopal H.S.) and catcher William James (Strake Jesuit) both had multiple-hit games in the tournament, including several key at bats in the championship-game victory over the Central USA team. Joe Gobillot was the winning pitcher in that title game and was relieved by Jacob Millender. Editor’s Note: Todd Freed is the Emmy Awardwinning co-host and producer of the KUBE SportsZone, which airs Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. on Channel 57-KUBE. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email email@example.com.
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 29
by Angie Frederickson, staff writer
SportzBuzz, Jr. W
elcome to SportzBuzz, Jr., a column spotlighting neighborhood athletes in elementary and middle school.
Softball World Series The West University Wave 12U tournament team finished its summer season with a second-place finish at the FASA Class C World Series. The Wave played 10 games in two days, including six games on the final day, before falling one run short in the championship game, 6-5. During the weekend, the Wave outscored their opponents 39 to 13 in regulation play, with shut-down pitching and a balanced offensive attack combining power hitting, tactical small ball, and aggressive base running. Members of the Wave include (top photo, top row, from left) coaches Tami Johnson, Tom Stickler, Scott Richardson, John Howard and Chris Brown; (second row, from left) Lee Stallings, Tristyn Le, Grace Chaney, Cole Johnson, Peyton Howard, (front row, from left) Kaitlyn Nguyen, Peyton Richardson, Meredith Stickler, Grace Brown, (not pictured) Julia Sanchez, Carolyn Watts, Megan Frankel and Maya Estrera.
Shootout champs The West University Wranglers 9U Select baseball team played in the Cy-Fair Sports Association’s Select Summer Shootout tournament. The Wranglers were undefeated during the tournament, and won all five of their games with a total of 92 runs scored and only 16 runs allowed. Tournament champion coaches and players are (middle photo, top row, from left) coaches Paul Equale, David Ranucci, Shawn Vacek and Clark Edgecomb, (middle row, from left) Alex Yearwood, John Burnett, Luke Edgecomb, Billy Theroux, Zach Gosda, (bottom row, from left) Anthony Equale, Jackson Ranucci, Evan McCarthy, Alec Schaefer and (not pictured) Zach Kopel.
They’ve got spirit! Cheerleaders at Pin Oak Middle School (bottom photo) keep school spirit alive. Under the direction of new coach Loren Ingram, the girls cheer at football, basketball and volleyball games, pep rallies, and even a Rice University football-game halftime. Most of the seventh- and eighth-grade girls have been involved in competitive cheer or gymnastics, and they bring those skills to the squad. Each year the squad welcomes new members with an early-morning “kidnapping” and swim party. This year’s cheerleaders are (top row, from left) Cindy Cook, Alexis White, Trinity McDonald, Ravyn Louis, Jacklyn Helm, Winnie Gordon, (middle row, from left) Jordyn Whitaker, Anna Bernal, Grace Beasely, Margot Purdie, Sophia Haskin,
McHaley Ho, Madi Rivera, Lindsay Elwood, Brooke Selldin, (bottom row, from left) Tomer Oren, Lilly Smith, Lauren Aungier, Alyssa Hatfield, Sydnee Smith, Grace Evans and Elizabeth McLaughlin. Editor’s note: Send your best high-resolution photos and behind-the-scenes stories about young local athletes, in both team and individual sports, to SportzBuzz, Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include all contact info, names, ages, grades and schools. Featured athletes must live in Buzz-circulation neighborhoods. Items will be published on a space-available basis.
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WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 30
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Open House dates for Admissions 2016 Thursday, October 8th • Early Childhood – 6:00 p.m. Thursday, October 15th • Kindergarten – 4th Grades – 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, November 4th • Kindergarten – 9:00 a.m. Sunday, November 15th • Middle School – 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 9th • Round Up Day (all grade levels) – 9:00 a.m.
Open House for Prospective Students
Application deadline is December 15, 2015
Sunday, October 11 and November 8, 2015 • 2:30 - 4 p.m. in the MJPFC Online applications and reservations are available at www.saintvincentschool.org For further information please contact Renee McCurry, Director of Admissions - 713-663-3541
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WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 31
by Annie Blaylock McQueen, staff writer
Buzz About Town tunity this week to see what it’s like behind the camera at a local television station. The group took a tour of KPRC Channel 2 and got to meet some of the anchors and producers. Pictured (from left) are Linda Smith, Lillian Lee, Janice Senftleber, Hannalore Schwarze, Beth Webb, Dick Yehle, Irene Shadwell, Jan Franzen and Bill Chang.
Behind the scenes
It’s almost that time Reporting live from West University Place. Residents from the senior center had the oppor-
West University Elementary students, including kindergartener Sachin Jhunjhunwala (pictured), are gearing up for annual October fundraisers, which include the Halloween Dash
UOS Goldberg Montessori School Exciting new location in Bellaire
Open House Tuesday, November 3rd at 7:00 pm
We offer a traditional Montessori environment with an emphasis on Jewish learning and practice. In a loving and caring atmosphere, your child will learn and grow with a proven program based in excellence and experience. We are the oldest Jewish Montessori early childhood center in the Southwest! Please contact the school’s office at 713-723-3856 to RSVP and for more information. Committed to Honor the Path of Each Child. Ages 18 months through K 4610 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, TX 77401 713-723-3856 • uosgms.org
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5k and Kids Fun Run on Oct. 17. The registration closing date is Oct. 14. The Boo Bash Carnival is Oct. 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the school grounds. Children can partake in the fun and have lunch and sweets, and play games. Parents and adults can enjoy the shopping bazaar. The school welcomes the entire community to the event. See westupto.org.
Leading the charge Middle school can be tough, but at Pin Oak Middle School, at least some of the newest
Chargers are finding the change exciting. Students are meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and finding their own way on a new campus. Bonnie Robbins, a Pin Oak sixth grader from Condit Elementary, said that her “days fly by” and that she enjoys having more freedom. Pictured (top row, from left) are students Tori Allen, Danielle Tackett, Olivia Tansey, Hannah Lai, Kate Manning, Kate Davidson, Carter Dixon, (middle row, standing, from left) Joshua Weber and Alex Borsos, (front row, seated, from left) Jack Hanks, Drew Michael, Jake Beasley and Ethan Herrera.
Floating It must have been a sign when Dr. Andrew Michael Rossi Jr. proposed to Jennifer Marie Richards on a cliff in Red Rock National Park in Las Vegas. That elevated feeling of love led to a wedding in Breckenridge, Colo., at the TenMile Station on Peak 9. The mountainside outdoor wedding ceremony and reception included six international traditions to symbolize their heritages and the world around them. An Italian vase/glass breaking and German log cutting were part of the scene. Instead of a groom’s cake, they had a smoothie bar. Another smooth move was
their first dance, a West Coast swing that included a flip at the end. Standing rock solid, their good foundation came from parents Andy and Kathy Rossi and Amy and Brad Richards.
Go back in time To celebrate West University Elementary School turning 90 this year, the school and PTO are planning their fall auction event, A Swinging Soiree!, which (continued on page 34)
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 33
at the brand new Buffalo Bayou Park, The Water Works, with views of the skatepark, bayou and downtown. Live music will be provided by London Calling, and breast-cancer survivor photos will be on display from the book Body & Soul: the Courage and Beauty of Breast Cancer Survivors, by Jean Karotkin. Jane Weiner, an artistic director, has choreographed a dance duet as a showcase from the program, Pink Aware, a dance demonstration. Local artist Ange Hillz will create canvas art on site. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased at pinkribbons.org/sipandsavor.
The monster mash
(continued from page 33) will turn back the clock
90 years to the Roaring ’20s. The event will be held Nov. 14 at The Astorian, a 1920s-inspired landmark building just west of downtown. Charity Poage, Pam Packer and Susan Dison (pictured, from left) are this year’s soiree event chairs. Proceeds are used to support West University Elementary teachers and staff and buy learning materials, among other things. Tickets start at $100 and can be purchased at westupto.org. Contact Jennifer Knupp
(email@example.com) or Beth Lancaster (firstname.lastname@example.org) for questions.
Eat, drink and think pink Breast Cancer Awareness is this month, so mark your calendars to wine and dine for a cause. Leslie Adair is a member of the board of the Pink Ribbons Project and will be attending its newest fundraising event, Sip & Savor Houston’s Flavors, on Oct. 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The fundraiser will be the first event held
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 34
Get out of the weekly lunch grind and mark your calendars for Oct. 27 for the West University Senior Center monthly luncheon. This one is themed The Monster Mash, just in time for the spookiest time of the year. Pictured are Alice
Quintanilla (at left) and Margaret Peet at last October’s lunch. Simple entertainment will be provided and dessert is being sponsored by Silverado Senior Living. The meal will begin at 11:30 a.m., and advance registration is required at the Community Building located at 6104 Auden Street.
casual and creative environments in a fun and trendy way. The event featured executive Lidya
You only turn 60 once When Susan Hoffman turned 60, she celebrated in style. Hostesses Tali Blumrosen, Jill Wasserstrom, Catherine Chandler and Julie Giam organized the party, which was given by fiancé Mark Skolnik. When Susan stopped to give a toast, she said there are two pieces to being 60: gratitude for family and friends and excitement for the future. She also said her hero is her 94-year-old mother. Mark gave a David Letterman “Top 10 list” of everything he loved about Susan. A few others spotted toasting the birthday girl were Dana Lepow, Mark’s son Emory, Linda Greenwood and Laura Favaloro.
Not all business Thais Amaral Tellawi, Lindsey Wetterau and Ana Teresa Castellano (pictured, from left) were among the 130 seasoned executives and young professionals gathered at Tootsies West Ave for a “back to the basics” runway show demonstrating how to create a professional capsule wardrobe for careers in corporate, business-
K. Osadchey, CEO of Escape Family Services, who spoke about the fulfillment that accompanies a meaningful career. CEO Lucy Corona described what entrepreneurial life is like and her experience founding and growing the SlimRitas brand of margaritas.
Love for the game The Kyle Chapman Titans team, many of whom have been playing Little League together since
they were 5 years old, went to the PONY League Zone Tournament (the winning team heads to the Pony 14 year olds World Series) in Burleson, Texas. Towards the end of the tournament, with one win and one loss under their belts, they had a game in which they beat the Central Austin Youth League Angels 13-8. Next, they played the San Juan PONY team and came away with a 13-3 victory. Proud moms cheering on the boys were (pictured, from left) Alisa Hoffman, Sharon Schell, Dixie Cox, Jenifer BenShoshan, Susan Whitney, Cynthia Portugal, Debbie Robbins and Abbie Chuo. Be seen in Buzz About Town. Send your high-res photos and community news to email@example.com. Items are published on a space-available basis. Also share your upcoming-event listings on thebuzzmagazines.com.
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GAME CHANGER Sofia Alvarado Fula, a senior at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, started a school club that works with the nonprofit Free the Children.
KIDS by Sofia Alvarado Fula, age 17
Taking steps to change the world
ike most kids, I often complained about what my parents served for dinner. My mother began to say, “There are kids in Africa who don’t get a full meal. Be grateful.” It took me a couple of years to grasp this concept, but I began to realize how lucky I am. Eventually, I developed an interest in cultures and political affairs. It was an interest that I thought would never be considered “cool” in middle school. Little did I know it would give me a leadership role in high school. The real game changer, however, occurred out of nowhere. One evening, I was babysitting when a commercial came on for a collaboration between Disney and Free the Children. Disney Friends for Change is an initiative that strives to inspire kids and their families to help communities
across the world. I cannot sufficiently express the emotions I felt when I comprehended the message. I swiftly grabbed my phone and commenced my research. I began to gain a better understanding of the diverse number of issues in our world. Suddenly, it was not just about kids going hungry; it was about children not getting an education, violations of human rights and much more. So the next year, I started a school club called Free the Children, which works with the nonprofit organization with the same name. We work to live up to the organization’s goals, which is to educate and empower youth. I received an enthusiastic amount of support from the student body. For example, we participated in the “We Are Silent” campaign, where mem-
bers chose not to speak for a day to raise awareness of bullying and children in foreign countries who don’t have a say in their future. We involved the entire school by asking students not to speak in the hallways. I have learned that everyone is capable of changing the world. We can start by doing little things such as being conservative with the things we waste or donating to a worthy cause. It takes one voice to start something new, so why should it not be you? Want to be a Buzz Kid? Email approximately 350 words, a high-resolution photo and caption to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or mail it to The Buzz Magazines, 5001 Bissonnet, Suite 100, Bellaire, Texas 77401.
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Why budgeting’s a waste There’s an old saying that when you need a teaspoon of medicine, take a teaspoon, not a pound. Too much medicine can be as bad as none at all. The same caveat applies to household budgeting. I've seen clients go overboard in this. Call it Quicken Addiction. In the interest of full-disclosure, it was once my problem too. I once used Quicken religiously. I downloaded data daily. I reconciled accounts every month. However, I soon realized that the time all of this took from my life far outweighed any value received. Quicken Addiction is like looking at the gas gauge every five minutes as you drive. Unless there’s a problem, it’s totally unnecessary. An exception to this would be expenses that must be tracked for tax purposes, such as charitable deductions. Those should be tracked to the cent. Doing this can be as simple as labeling a single folder (real or virtual) as "charitable giving," and plugging in the relevant, individual amounts into the folder. Sometimes there may be a problem that needs diagnosing (i.e. the family is running low on money every month) or you may need a periodic financial check up (i.e. every two to five years). In those cases, doing a detailed budget, to see what your family's exact spending patterns are, can be valuable. This should only be a temporary exercise. Done for a month or so, this will tell you exactly what is happening in your household finances and who is spending specific amounts on specific things. Once you are aware of this detailed picture, you do not need to follow
it permanently. Your ongoing budgeting should focus on the big picture, rather than the small. The most effective and time saving approach is to plan, precisely, what you will need to put towards your financial goals. Then you may simply save that and spend the rest. Speaking very generally, if you want to put a couple of kids through college and have a comfortable retirement, you probably need to save 15-20 percent of your gross income. That money should automatically go where it needs to be, such as into a 401K or 529 college plan. Have the funds auto-debited from your account; that way, you don't even have to think about it. Financial confidence and peace-of-mind will follow as you watch your net worth grow. Hesitation and worry will follow if you over-do the budgeting, restricting your family to spending, say, $1,000 and not a penny more on groceries every month. Do you have a budgeting problem? James Waters, CFP®, PARTNERSINWEALTH, 3400 Bissonnet, Suite 145, Houston, Texas 77005, 713.964.4028, email@example.com, www.partnersinwealth.com
Healthy Smiles Need More Than Bubbles
Oral healthcare for the growing & developing child Joel J. Vela, D.D.S. Bellaire Pediatric Dentistry, P.A. 6750 West Loop South, Suite 795 713.661.1100 • www.bellairesmiles.com
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 37
Bill Olive Photography
DINING GUIDE by Dai Huynh, staff writer
This Month in Dining Still Tony’s, after all these years
ony Vallone darts from the dining room to the kitchen, mentally making notes of everything – from the voluptuous folds of fresh, apricot-tinged Ecuadoran roses at the center of every table to the imported, Umbria black truffles nestled behind a glass dome. Pristine white, purple and fuchsia orchids splash like exclamation marks against the subdued glow of ochre walls at Tony’s in Greenway Plaza on Richmond. It is 10 a.m. on a recent Thursday, an hour before lunch, or what some regulars refer to as the first act at the 425-seat, white-tablecloth restaurant. The second act comes at dinnertime, when the lights dim, the corks of rare vintages pop and Vallone takes center stage. After 50 years, Tony’s continues to exude a cinematic charm. Here, life unfolds and the stories born over five decades still permeate the walls, despite three incarnations. “The early ’60s was such a different world,” says Vallone, in between a food photo shoot for his website. To start, you didn’t have Yelp or food bloggers to market your brand. Diners had little to go on other than recommendations from friends and families along with the occasional restaurant review. But even that was in its infancy – reviews were often penned by the publisher’s or editor’s wife. It was a hobby, not a serious endeavor. But for a struggling Italian-American kid who grew up in Sunnyside, one of Houston’s oldest AfricanAmerican communities, it was about survival. There were many days in the early years of Tony’s when the soft-spoken entrepreneur thought that his tiny Italian joint, originally
Five decades of fine dining Tony’s Restaurant, 3755 Richmond, will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a restaurant-wide charity dinner to benefit Memorial Hermann Life Flight on Nov. 18. For details, call 713-242-4450 or email Cathleen.Fishel@memorialhermann.org. Sponsorships are available for $50,000, $25,000, $10,000 and $5,000. Individual tickets are $500.
located on Sage Road where Macy’s sits today in The Galleria, was going to go under, even though his overhead costs were low. Vallone was the cook, busboy and, on occasion, the dishwasher. VINO Tony Vallone's walls of wines draw wine connoisseurs from around the world. Back then, Houston Gilot, Pablo Picasso’s artistic muse and Paloma was a steak-and-loaded-potato town. Tony’s Picasso’s mom; a chance meeting with gracious served Continental and Italian cuisines. “I startart patron and museum namesake Dominique de ed doing seafood and pasta,” Vallone recalls. “It Menil, who melted her heart; and still-regularwas being done in Italy for more than a century customer President George H.W. Bush. and in New York, but nobody was doing it here. “Everyone claps until he sits down,” Donna says, There were a few Italian-American restaurants, “and he always smiles and waves.” but not many because the market wasn’t conTony’s tales can easily fill a book, something ducive to it. The first several years, I almost didVallone is penning with wine historian and author n’t make it.” Jeremy Parzen. The part-cookbook and part-memBut you don’t give up on love, and “that oir, tentatively titled Fifty Years of Food and Stories, restaurant is his true love. I truly believe that. is scheduled to be released next spring. He is passionate about it,” says former Houston The trim, dark-haired 71 year old, wearing a Chronicle food editor Ann Criswell. charcoal blue pin-striped suit, scrutinizes an Vallone kept at it, even though some folks wrinoctopus tentacle on a white porcelain plate kled up their noses at a few dishes. Take calamari splashed with cherry tomatoes and a vibrant yel– fried, it has become a restaurant standard. “Back low sauce. “That’s better. We’ve got to show the then, I had to go to a bait camp to buy calamari,” yellow.” Vallone assesses the presentation by he recalls. “Prosciutto wasn’t even allowed into the Kate McLean, the first female chef de cuisine at country.” his flagship restaurant. “She plates well. That’s Then the young man’s fortunes turned important because people eat with their eyes around. Gerald Hines walked into the original first. Kate, you’ve got to do the lamb. The lamb Tony’s on Sage. Vallone refers to the legendary – it is dark – but there will be contrasting colors developer as his “hero.” Hines was opening a on the plate, and it will be great.” shopping center on Post Oak Boulevard, and he The energetic 31-year-old McLean bobs her wanted Tony’s as a tenant. head in agreement and rushes back to the Hines helped Vallone get a loan and encourkitchen to fine-tune more dishes for the photo aged the young restaurateur to take a posher, more shoot. “Are you hungry?” asks Vallone, turning upscale stance. Very quickly, the River Oaks his attention to the photographers. “No? Would crowd made their way to the new Tony’s on Post you like coffee?” Oak, with its decadent lipstick-red walls. For three The courtesy of a professional host takes decades, the fine-dining establishment hosted precedence over the perfectionist. Vallone has countless celebrities and dignitaries. The stories high standards, and dishes would be tweaked are innumerable – from evenings with Frank numerous times during the photo shoot. “There Sinatra to a dinner party for Princess Margaret. is a lot of passion on the plate,” he says. “We Wife Donna Vallone witnessed many need to show that passion.” moments. A few moments stand out: when Donna, a gentle, slender brunette with an Donna, then a former HISD music teacher and easy smile, described her husband of 31 years as recently married to Vallone, met Françoise
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Bill Olive Photography
Bill Olive Photography
PERFECTING Tony Vallone, chef de cuisine Kate McLean and sous chef Austin Waiter work on plate presentations for a Tony's website photo shoot.
other things need to be considered, Vallone says. Where the pigs are raised and what they eat impact how they taste. He still prefers what he considers the rich nuances of authentic Italian salami. A half hour before lunch starts, Vallone is conversing in Italian with his food-and-beverage purveyor, Friedel Landa, president of Selected Food & Beverage. The two are in a heated discussion. About 90 percent of so-called San Marzano tomatoes aren’t Italian, Vallone laments. Landa chimes in that there is a company that labels its cans San Marzano. The tomatoes are grown in California and China. Vallone is credited with introducing San Marzano tomatoes to the Houston market. The plum variety has fewer seeds and contain less water, he says, ideal for rich marinara. He even sold them under his own label until they became too much work. He currently uses Luigi Vitelli’s, grown in the Agro Sarnese-Nocerino area of Italy. Since relocating Tony’s to Greenway Plaza on Richmond 11 years ago, Tony’s has loosened its
Bill Olive Photography
an “absolute perfectionist. If it doesn’t turn out right, he’d rather throw it out.” Vallone has mentored many talented chefs who carved their own niche, including Grant Gordon, Mark Cox, Monica Pope, Marco Wiles and Olivier Ciesielski. His former employees often described Vallone as tough, demanding and firm, but fair. Recipes are tested and refined dozens of times before appearing on the menu. But ultimately, at Tony’s, the guest has the final say. Red signs – printed with Quiet Please in white bold letters – hang in Tony’s hushed kitchen along with another: “If A Guest Is Unhappy With A Dish. They Get Another. No Matter What. No Exception!” Tony Vallone believes that “no dish can be better than what goes into it,” and he says he goes to great lengths to procure the best of the bests. “I’m a nut about it,” he says sheepishly. In his opinion, local isn’t always better. Young chefs take great pride in serving local products and even curing their own meats. That’s all fine, but
designer silk tie. Although still low-key and wellheeled, the clientele is getting younger, Vallone says. Generation X and Millennials are ensuring that the restaurant remain relevant. Vallone eyes a young Asian couple dining on hamburgers. At another table, a late 40-something woman savors juicy, warm Blue Point oysters. Today, members of Liza Minnelli’s band wouldn’t have been turned away if they showed up without jackets and ties. (Yes, it happened at the former Tony’s on Post Oak. Her band left, but Liza stayed). The dress code has relaxed. But the precision remains. Tony’s buzzes with conversations at lunchtime. The photoshoot is over and Vallone relaxes at a table near the kitchen – his office — with an espresso-spiked chocolate Atkins shake. He prefers a liquid lunch and a regular dinner. Vallone reminisces about learning to excel at making sauces from chef Edmond Foulard. But his grandmother, Maria Aiello Vallone, influenced him most, he says while his eyes scan the faces of diners and servers’ movements. Vallone is a skilled conductor and improviser. “We have to move. They need the table,” he whispers discreetly, getting up. “The only table left in the main dining room is next to a patron’s ex.” Lunch winds down. Vallone prepares to leave for his other two restaurants – the casual Italian Ciao Bello on San Felipe and the upscale Vallone’s steakhouse near Memorial City Mall, where he will huddle with son Jeff and partner Scott Sulma. Vallone changes his tasting menu daily, but his schedule is predictable. He starts and ends at Tony’s. Vallone will be back for dinner service to welcome guests. “I don’t ever see myself retiring and not working,” he says. “I love what I do. They’re going to carry me out of Tony’s with pasta in one hand and fish in the other.”
MORE ONLINE CULINARY COUPLE Tony and Donna Vallone will celebrate their 32nd anniversary next February.
See this story at thebuzzmagazines.com for recipes from Vallone, including the classic Tony’s marinara sauce. WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 39
$ (under $10) $$ ($11-$30) $$$ ($31-$60) $$$$ (over $60) Prices include drink, tax and tip per person Dai Huynh is a James Beard food-journalism award winner and longtime restaurant writer. Her visits to restaurants in our Buzz Dining Guide were anonymous, and she paid for her meals to maintain objectivity. We’d love your thoughts too. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org with your own dining opinions and suggestions. Also, you can contribute in the Comments section under the online version of this story at thebuzzmagazines.com.
Antica Osteria Regional Italian Neighborhood: Southhampton Antica Osteria, in a vintage brick house, attracts an eclectic mix with its warm, old-fashioned feel. There are Turkish movie stars, socialites, ingénues, young lovers, media types and, even, parents with well-behaved children. The attractions are the well-prepared pastas; spaghetti carbonara lush with cream and pancetta makes the strongest impression, along with abundantly friendly service and a homey vibe. Every meal begins with complimentary bruschetta and ends with a gracious smile. In between, there are simple, satisfying antipasti. Many customers order pastas as their entrées, but for those who must have meat, consider the deftly prepared osso buco – an occasional special – or the grilled angus fillet. Dinner Mon.-Sat. 2311 Bissonnet, 713-521-1155. anticarestaurant.com. $$$
The Paleo Diet – a nutritional regimen centered around eggs, nuts, pasture-raised meat, fresh fruit and vegetables – is no longer a fringe movement. It has charged into the mainstream, spawning how-to books and glossy magazines. There are restaurants inspired by Paleo, including Corner Table, a multi-faceted space that boasts a luxe wine room reminiscent of France's Louis XIV era, a live-music lounge and a cozy mixology room with a speak-easy vibe. At the center is the restaurant, which shines even brighter with a culinary rising star at the helm. Currently, Corner Table's kitchen is under the watch of New Orleans transplant Brandon Lampert, whose signature dishes include rainbow trout with brown lemon butter and pistachio. Another crowd favorite is braised short ribs with French onions and potato au gratin. Lambert – who worked for James Beard Awardwinning chef John Besh and Food Channel iron chef Masaharu Morimoto – has a soft spot for Cajun and classical French, elements that can found throughout the menu. Lunch & dinner Mon.-Sat. 2736 Virginia Street. 713-5689196. cornertablehouston.com. $$$
Dolce Vita Pizzeria Enoteca Italian Neighborhood: Montrose The two-story Dolce Vita, with its pleasant patio, helped to set the standard for artisanal wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas paired with an excellent, all-Italian wine list. Granted, since opening in 2005, Dolce occasionally stum-
bles, but when it’s in top form, diners can anticipate beautifully crisped, lightly charred thin-crust pizzas along with suavely prepared appetizers and antipasti choices, such as fried artichokes, a parsley salad tossed with pancetta, egg toast with black truffle and shaved brussels sprouts showered with sharp pecorino cheese. And hats off to chef-owner Marco Wiles for introducing countless Houston diners to such unique creations as the Zucca, a pizza topped with butternut squash, pancetta, red onion and smoked buffalo mozzarella, not to mention the addictively pungent Taleggio cheese pizza crowned with spicy arugula, sweet pears and truffle oil. Lunch & dinner Tues-Sun. 500 Westheimer, 713-520-8222. dolcevitahouston.com. $$
Izakaya Wa Authentic Japanese Neighborhood: Memorial You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the diners. In this case, about 80 percent of the customers at Izakaya Wa are Japanese. Here, they can savor the true flavors of home without flying home. No wonder. Kubo-san is in the kitchen. Hajime Kubokawa is revered by chefs around town. There is artistry in how he wields the knife. His expertly sliced sushi and sashimi melt on the palate. But at Izakaya Wa, he has left the sushi bar in the very capable hands of business partner Akira Asano. Instead, Kubokawa is in the kitchen prepping homey noodle soups, stews and izakaya, or Japanese tapas of grilled and fried
Caracol Mexican coastal cuisines Neighborhood: Galleria Hugo Ortega is largely credited with introducing Houstonians to the foodways of Mexico. His namesake restaurant, Hugo’s, on Westheimer captivates with interior specialties, while Caracol showcases Mexico’s lilting coastal cuisines. Ceviches and crudos shine against a snow-white interior dressed with deep-sea creatures by renowned illustrator Charley Harper. Jalapeño and ginger give great spark and crunch to conch, while scallops combined with sweet mango, papaya and lime crudos dance merrily between sweet, salty and tangy. A house favorite is oysters smoked in a wood-burning domed oven, then drizzled with a luscious chipotle butter. The menu leans toward seafood, but there are meatier options, such as bone-in short rib with cocoa nib and roasted duck with pumpkin seed sauce. Lunch & dinner Mon.-Sun. 2200 Post Oak Blvd., No. 160, 713-622-9996. caracol.net. $$$
Corner Table Contemporary American Neighborhood: Upper Kirby
CARACOL One good choice at Caracol Mexican Coastal Cuisine is the Camarones al Diabla with sauteed shrimp and zesty morita pepper sauce.
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 40
meats and vegetables, best enjoyed with friends over good, cold beers. Food by Kubo-san can be a revelation. Simplicity defines Japanese cookery, and he has mastered its succinctness. Want to learn about real Japanese food? Here is your chance. A great perspective is the rotating half-and-half lunch special, consisting of a rice dish and a noodle dish – a rare duo offering in the U.S., but common in Japan. Lunch Mon.-Thurs. & dinner Mon.-Sun. 12665 Memorial Drive, 713-461-0155. izakayawa.com. $$
North Italia Modern Italian Neighborhood: Galleria area Following the success of True Food, Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concepts has launched another winning venture with this reasonably priced Italian eatery, where community dining is part of the appeal, along with homemade pastas and pizzas. A soaring space with bulbous overhead lighting and well-coiffed customers, North Italia manages to captivate and nurture our love affair with Italian cooking. Dishes to try include the seasonable vegetable salad, the highly touted bolognese, fig-and-prosciutto pizza, ricotta gnocchi with braised beef short ribs with horseradish crema, and Italian donuts. Call ahead for reservations or avoid peak hours if you hate to wait. North Italia, with a view of the kitchen behind floor-to-ceiling glass, is packed and loud during prime times. But that's part of the fun. Lunch & dinner Mon.-Sun. 1700 Post Oak Boulevard, Suite 190, 281-6054030; northitaliarestaurant.com. $$
Post Oak Grill Gulf Coast classics Neighborhood: Tanglewood Happiness exists in a bread basket at this popular outpost for business lunches. The basket usually cradles oven-fresh biscuits fragrant with green onions, bacon and cheddar cheese. One really isn’t enough; nor is two or three. Slow down, though, or you’ll fill up before the perfectly grilled rainbow trout arrives, glistening lightly with butter-caper sauce. Polo Becerra is a classic chef with a timeless approach of keeping ingredients simple and clean, with just a sheath of sauce to elevate the flavors of beef and seafood. Lunch & dinner, Mon.-Sat., 1415 S. Post Oak Lane, 713-993-9966. postoakgrill.com. $$$
The Republic Smokehouse and Saloon Texas barbecue Neighborhood: Midtown The 2007 demise of Williams Smokehouse, which occupied a woodpaneled cottage in Acres Homes, left a void. Williams’ meaty, tender, oaksmoked pork ribs never disappointed. Now the folks behind Hearsay and Mr. Peeples have lured Cedric Williams, the youngest of Willie Williams' three sons, to fire up its state-of-the-art pit at Republic Smokehouse and Saloon in Midtown. Against a fancy honky-tonk backdrop and red neon lights, Cedric continues to honor the family tradition with his blend of seasonings, which also can be found at Kroger stores. Give his gigantic 1.5 pounds of slow-smoked beef short ribs a try. Lunch & dinner Mon.-Sun. 1910 Bagby Street, Suite 100, 832-925-8871; republicsaloon.com. $$
Quattro Contemporary Italian Neighborhood: Downtown Talented chef Maurizio Ferrarese brings the flavors of his native Italy to Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel. The dining room is an elegant affair. Just as engaging is the adjoining Vinoteca Quattro bar where downtown workers unwind over Italian beers, wines and Italian small plates during happy hour. Breakfast, lunch & dinner Mon.-Sun. 1300 Lamar, 713276-4700. quattrorestauranthouston.com. $$-$$$$
MORE ONLINE See thebuzzmagazines.com for all reviewed restaurants. Use our restaurant finder to search by area, cuisine and price.
WEST UNIVERSITY BUZZ OCTOBER 2015 41
A minute with Maisie
Divorce and long-term care
Many clients ask me, “Who is the judge who will preside over my case?” There are nine family law courts in Harris County, and each court contains an elected district court judge, as well as an associate judge, who is appointed by the elected judge. Additionally, there is one court that hears family-violence cases, exclusively. Each of these district court judges is an elected official. I encourage each of you to be an informed voter. Get to know these elected officials, as well as the candidates running against them, as family law judges make decisions that can affect every aspect of your life when litigating in their court. For example, a family court judge has the right to determine the frequency and conditions under which you will see your children. This is an extremely broad power, requiring a fair-minded judiciary and an informed public to ensure the fairness and access to justice is equally available to everyone. Maisie A. Barringer is a partner at Jenkins & Kamin, L.L.P., a full-service, boutique, family-law firm specializing in divorce, child-custody modifications, grandparent access, paternity, adoption, and premarital and postmarital agreements. Maisie A. Barringer has been recognized as a Texas Rising Star by Texas Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters service printed in Texas Monthly magazine for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Jenkins & Kamin, L.L.P., Maisie A. Barringer, Partner, Board Certified in Family Law, Two Greenway Plaza, Suite 600, Houston, Texas 77046, 713.600.5500, www.jenkinskamin.com
You may have planned on growing old together and taking care of each other as you aged, but what happens when you’re no longer a couple? Because of the loss of your built-in care provider, “long-term care planning is more important for people who are divorced than married couples,” says Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. Slome also suggests that it may be especially important for single and divorced women because of their longer life expectancies, which can cause them to rack up more long-term care costs than men. However, this isn’t to say that single and divorced men don’t need it – they most certainly do. If you are going through a divorce, consider who might be your future caretaker and how you will pay for care. Consult with an advisor who can help you decide whether you can adequately self-insure with your postdivorce assets, or whether you should consider supplementing with longterm care insurance. Your health and age will influence your rates, and so you’ll want to lock in coverage while you are younger and in good health. Divorce is painful enough without having to worry about whether you will be financially secure in the future. Make sure your attorney considers long-term care protection when structuring a divorce settlement so that your assets and future are protected. MyersYounger LTC, 2537 S. Gessner, Suite 207, Houston, Texas 77063, 713.661.7118, myersyoungerltc.com
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Probate after same-sex marriage My wife works for a large employer, and most of her coworkers were not invited to the wedding. She returned to a lot of grumbling after the honeymoon. One disaffected colleague finally approached her and blurted, “I heard you got married.” “Yeah,” my blushing bride responded. “Now I can be bitter and grouchy like the rest of you.” That came to mind after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this summer with the Obergefell case, which held unconstitutional state statutes limiting marriage to a man and a woman. The implications are profound but straightforward. Same-sex couples, if married, now enjoy community property, homestead rights, and a family allowance under Texas probate law, as well as an unlimited marital deduction under federal tax law for transfers to a U.S. citizen spouse. Contractual and other statutory benefits and burdens attach, e.g. a duty of support, but those are the big ones. All marital property is presumed community. On death, community property is split 50:50. Proof of separate property requires clear and convincing evidence, e.g., a deed dated prior to marriage. The date of marriage becomes very important in probate. Obergefell didn’t just legalize same-sex marriage. By holding contrary state statutes unconstitutional, the Court may have declared that same-sex marriage has always been legal. A marriage license and wedding ceremony are clear evidence when a marriage began, but what about informal marriages? All that’s required of a so-called common-law marriage is that spouses agree to be married, actu-
ally live together in Texas as a married couple, and represent to others here that they are married. Even if an informal marriage is uncontested at death, the date of marriage is never obvious. Texas provides a form, Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage, that helps. Both spouses go down to the county clerk, fill out the date of marriage, and file it for all the world to see. More than a few same-sex couples declared their marriage before Obergefell. If they meant it, they should go to the county clerk, not for a marriage license, but instead for the Declaration and Registration of Informal Marriage, to retroactively establish the date of marriage. If they can’t agree what they meant, Texas divorce courts are now open to them. This article was not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. We write wills and go to probate court. We offer no-obligation initial interviews for estate planning and administration, so it costs nothing to hear specific recommendations that suit your needs. Foreign nationals and international families welcome. Russell W. Hall, J.D., LL.M. (Tax), Board Certified – Estate Planning and Probate Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 6750 West Loop South, Suite 920, Bellaire, Texas 77401, 713.662.3853, www.rwhpc.com
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Lexus, age 6, Maltese, Rice Blvd. I’m a Maltese breed with an attitude, and, yes, I am quite spoiled. I have a lot of “moms” who like to keep care of me when my real parents travel. In fact, they ask when my parents are leaving next so they can have the first opportunity to keep me. Sometimes I am called “Miss Priss” since I am so cute and my behind wiggles when I walk. I like to put on a show of dancing, which seems to win everyone’s heart. When someone comes to the door, I bark like I will rip them apart but when they get inside, I smother them with kisses. I have a really good life. My dad takes me on walks around the neighborhood, and when he is hesitant to take me, I will do my little dance and turn circles till I’m assured that we’re going outside. Did I say I was spoiled? Got a cute critter? Email a picture of your pet with approximately 150 words to email@example.com or mail it to The Buzz Magazines, 5001 Bissonnet, Suite 100, Bellaire, Texas 77401. Featured pets receive two passes to Rover Oaks Pet Resort. Each pass can be redeemed for one day of lodging in a Bunk House Suite, 25 percent off your next grooming appointment or 25 percent off one obedience training class.
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THE BUZZ MAGAZINES’ GUIDE TO GALVESTON ISLAND Visit our website for more info on some of our favorite Galveston treasures.
Two quick pathways to allergy relief Allergy shots are unique in that they make you less allergic to the pollen, dust mites, mold and/or animal dander you’re allergic to. They do this by helping your body to switch from an “allergic” response, to more of a “tolerance” response. In essence, your body no longer tries to fight off the allergens; instead, it learns how to ignore them. We have to start shots at a safe dose because you’re allergic, but the shots don’t help until you reach a high dose. After we finish building up your dose, you take a “maintenance dose,” usually once a month. Since 1995, The Allergy Clinic has safely performed Rush on over 3,000 patients. This one-day procedure provides very rapid desensitization, getting you to that highest dose, or at least 90 percent of the way, in one eight-hour day, providing quicker relief of symptoms. Rush is a great procedure for those with busy schedules who would find it difficult to come in at least once a week for up to six months, which is what is typically required with more traditional methods of building to the high or “maintenance dose.” But what if you can’t spend the entire day in our office? Or what if you can only come on Saturday mornings? Cluster is also a great option, and is almost as fast as Rush. With Cluster, we essentially do a series of “minirush;” that is, we give a set of allergy shots, observe the patient, then give another set of allergy shots, again observe the patient, and then give a final set of allergy shots for that day. So you spend 1.5 or 2 hours in our office, once or twice a week, for a total of 8 or 9 visits before you reach your maintenance dose. With Rush, we have patients take several medications for three days
beforehand to reduce the chance of severe allergic reactions. With Cluster, you only premedicate with antihistamines. That’s because your immune system has at least 36 hours to process the previous set of shots, so the risk of having allergic reactions to the shots is less. All insurance companies, including Medicare, cover Rush and Cluster, but there are some limitations. For instance, Humana will only cover it if we desensitize the patient to stinging insects, or to drugs (e.g., penicillin); however, Humana excludes coverage for the Rush or Cluster if it is done for airborne allergens, such as ragweed or dust mites. Rapid allergy desensitization procedures such as Rush or Cluster are safe, effective options that are covered well by insurance companies and get your dose of shots where you receive relief much more quickly. No one nose allergies like we do.™ Note: Information contained in this article should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board-certified allergist to address individual medical needs. David B. Engler, M.D., The Allergy Clinic, 7707 Fannin, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77054, 713.797.0993, *1200 Binz, Suite 180, Houston, Texas 77004, 713.522.9911, www.allergyclinic.com, *Operating as Houston Allergy & Asthma Clinic
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by Andria Frankfort, staff writer
Halloween costume fails
’m guilty of it. Getting an idea into my head and pulling out every stop to make it happen, doable or not. Perfect example: the Halloween costume. My youngest daughter came to me three years ago with the idea to dress up as a human candy corn. Of course I loved it and immediately took on the challenge. For an entire October our dining room table was covered in needles and orange, yellow and white fabric. I don’t sew. But somehow that costume came together and made us both proud. That’s my one success. Others, as Carrie Vallone put it, were “epic fails.” Also not a seamstress, but creative in her own way (she owns Molasses Candy Paper Design Studio), Carrie decided her then-baby, now-12-year-old daughter Grace should dress up as Olive, the family beagle, for her first Halloween. “It was so pathetic,” she says. “We walked around the neighborhood, and everybody was like, ‘What a cute cow!’ I even made a little dog collar for Grace that said ‘Olive’ and took Olive to walk with us. But nobody got it. “In the pictures, Grace looked confused and grumpy with this hat on with these floppy ears. She really did look like a cow.” Later on, when Grace was 3, Carrie made her a Pebbles (the character from The Flintstones) costume. “That one actually was simple. I just jaggedly cut some fabric and tied a little bone in her hair. She went down the street in one of those little plastic ‘bubble’ cars and it looked like the Flintstones.” Karen Edelman’s Pebbles costume wasn’t so well received. Same as Carrie and me, Karen “just had a vision in my head” for the costume.
Worst-Costume Contest Show off your “worst” Halloween costume. Send pictures of your failed costumes to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will receive a $50 gift card from Halloween Express. See thebuzzmagazines.com for more details.
“Anya was about 3, and her hair was just so short and white and curly.” It seemed like a perfect fit, simple enough. “I made the costume with bath rug-type fabric,” Karen says. She added a “real Nylabone dog bone” to Anya’s hair. Around the neighborhood, “I could tell people were saying to themselves, ‘That costume looks like my shower mat!” But the fuzzy cave-girl outfit wasn’t the problem. “Every time Anya rang a doorbell and a dog came to the door, she was so low to the ground that the dogs OFF THE MARK Aiden Buchman was dressed as a Hershey's Kiss, but his would start sniffing her dad says he wound up looking more like a silver Pope. head. Then they’d try to When Aiden Buchman was 2, his parents take the bone out of her hair! What was I thinkbought him an awesome-looking silver Hershey ing? Who would have thought dogs would actuKiss costume. “We thought it would be so great,” ally want a bone from her head? Jason says. “But it wound up looking like he was “It was all Party City after that.” dressed as a silver Pope.” Another vision: Kelly Evans’ quest to make There are those who have a little more skill – her then-3-year-old daughter Abby a Belle and a little more success – with costumes, both princess costume. “I had just taken up sewing,” homemade and outsourced. “I made many Kelly says of the time she and her family were Halloween costumes in my day, and I have the living in Rochester, Minn. “I was going to be a piles, bins and boxes of fabric scraps, pattern crafty and frugal mom and make her a Belle cospackages, thread spools, ribbons and buttons tume, because what’s better than a homemade galore to prove it,” says Halloween superstar princess costume? Tiffany Smith (whose decorations were featured “I waited until Abby and our newborn twins in the October 2012 Buzz). were asleep and went to work on this costume, A few tips from Tiffany, based on experience: which was way above my skill level. I worked on “Mario Bros. hats are harder to simulate than that thing every night for two weeks, only to finone might think. Face painting really IS an art ish it and realize I had sewn it inside out and and requires a level of talent I do not possess made a yellow satin nightmare! despite all my efforts and initial denial. Yes, you “This was before Amazon Prime, so I had to CAN turn your child into a three-headed drive 70 miles to the Mall of America in Longhorn fan with UT stocking caps, pillow Minneapolis to buy a Belle costume at the inserts, pantyhose and eyes and mouths cut out Disney store.” from a magazine!” But store-bought doesn’t always equal victory.
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