SurfAid Cup 2015 – Support a great cause!

Friends and Family,
Once again this year, three friends/colleagues and I have entered a team in the SurfAid Cup in Queenscliff on September 18th. The Cup is a fundraising event to raise funds for SurfAid, a non-profit humanitarian organisation. As a team, we have committed to raising $5,000 for this great cause, and I’d appreciate your support to reach that goal.

If you’d like to donate, please click here! Any donation is much appreciated!

Here's a photo from last year! Thanks for the support :-)

Here’s a photo from last year! Thanks for all of your support this year :-)

SurfAid
SurfAid’s core mission is to save the lives of women and children in remote areas of Indonesia – areas connected to us by surfing. They specialise in working in very isolated villages where the maternal and child mortality rate is extremely high.

SurfAid was started by a group of concerned surfers in 2000 who were struck by the needless suffering and preventable death in the Mentawai Islands. Today they are proud that more than 95 per cent of program staff are Indonesian nationals who work hand-in-hand with the communities of Western Sumatra, Sumbawa and Sumba, to bring about positive, sustainable health change while respecting the unique culture and customs of these islands communities.

SurfAid

SurfAid Surfer

Summer in LA

It’s been a couple of months now since we last posted! Where has time gone? Other than our trip to LA (more on that in a moment), Jacs and I have both just been busy with work in Sydney, but were also enjoying the last of Autumn before the cold of winter arrived – it is actually quite cold here right now! Here are a couple of photos from the last few months in Sydney. A couple of highlights have been:

  • A beautiful mother’s day hike from Coogee to Bronte
  • For our anniversary we had a delicious dinner at Sepia (one of the best restaurants in Australia and then stayed the night at the Sydney Park Hyatt with a room looking out at the Opera House which was all lit up for Vivid Sydney
  • Leo has been super cute (she’s almost 18 months) and is learning more and more words, and running around and playing like a little kid. She isn’t a baby anymore! We’ve been having a great time with her :-)

So, back to the LA trip. We got back last week from a lovely 2 weeks in sunny, hot LA, staying with Jacs’ family there in Altadena. It was actually a whirlwind trip since we arrived just in time for Vikkee and Mike’s engagement party at the house, followed the next day by Grandpa Lou’s birthday / Bubba and Christy’s reveal (it’s a girl!!! woohoo!) / Father’s Day (I get 2 in the same year again), and then the following week with Bubba and Christy’s house warming. One night Al even arranged for all of us to go and see Nicki Minaj perform at the Staple Centre – we had a box and had a really fun night partying together… even if Nicki was a little disappointing.

We had Keiren and Will come and visit from New York, which was wonderful, as well as our friends (and Leo’s storm parents), Chris and Jordan, who came down from San Francisco for a couple of days. John and Shirley (my storm parents) came to visit too from Lake Tahoe, so we really kept ourselves busy!

It was so lovely staying with the family and spending time with them, as well as heading down to the beaches, catching up with friends and exploring LA a bit. Bon and Lou enjoyed their time being Nonna and Grumpo with Leonora, and Leo had such a lovely time in the huge backyard on her John Deere tractor. The dogs were a little scary at first, but she soon loved playing with them :-)

After that whirlwind of a trip, we’re now back in freezing cold Sydney and back at work which was a shock to the system, although today is beautiful and sunny. Last night we celebrated mum’s birthday with a lovely Italian dinner followed by drinks at ours, and we’re now just enjoying a nice quiet weekend at home.

Here are a couple of photos from our trip (if you didn’t already see them on Facebook!).

Hope that you’re all well
Ben and Jacs
xx

Bula from Tokoriki Island

Bula! (Hi in Fijian)

First things first – we have big news to share. Our family is getting bigger! Mike proposed to Vikkee and they’re getting married this time next year. Not only are they getting married, but they also bought a new house and moved in. A huge congratulations on both big life events. We’re super excited for them both, and look forward to having Mike join the family!

We’ve spent this week on the gorgeous Tokoriki Island in the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. It has been an absolutely amazing trip – we can’t believe it has taken us this long given that it is only a 4 hour flight away and then Tokoriki is a 1 hour boat ride away. The day we arrived, we stayed one night at the Westin in Denarau Island on the mainland (a nice resort area, but lacks the crystal clear blue waters of the islands), before getting the morning boat out to Tokoriki. Luckily we had just missed Tropical Cyclone Pam that had come through the area, and unfortunately caused serious damage in Vanuatu, but the winds were still high so we had an exciting ride out to the island in high seas!

It was all worth it though, and when we made it to the island and checked in, Jacs turned on the charm and got us upgraded to a beach front room which was incredible – we overlooked a gorgeous view of the other islands and could hear the waves rolling up on the shore! That was home for the next 4 nights. The weather quickly improved, and we spent our days relaxing, having drinks by the pool (and in the room since we’d brought along some wine and gin and tonic :-) ), snorkelling, playing pool volleyball, and eating lots of delicious food in the hotel restaurant. We had made friends with a couple on their honeymoon too, and so hung out with them a bit as well. All of the staff were incredibly friendly and just loved Leo and were great with her. She was having such a blast in the nice warm water and exploring the resort.

Sadly though the trip came to an end on Thursday and we headed home (the boat ride was a completely different experience in the beautiful calm waters with the sun shining down!), but are now enjoying a nice quiet weekend at our place as a family.

Since our last post, we’ve also spent a lovely weekend down in Nowra (about 2.5 hours drive south), where the Clarke’s kindly invited us and a few other friends to their family holiday house on the river for some hanging out and water skiing. Leo’s friends Molly and Sammy were there too so the 3 of them had a blast together.

Anyway, I think that’s about it for this blog, but here are a couple of other photos of Leo from the month :-)

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– Ben and Jacs

Living Light in Bali

Happy New Year everyone! Hope that your 2015 is off to a wonderful start. Last Saturday we got back to Sydney after an amazing Christmas and New Year’s break in Bali with family and friends, and I am now adjusting to being back at work… TK is also adjusting to his first of full time work at his new job and sounds like he is off to a great start. Sadly, Keiren and Will couldn’t join us in Bali, but we still had an amazing group, with Jacs’ brother Louis/Bub and his wife Christy joining us, as well as our friends Jess and Mike from San Diego. TK then had 3 friends come along, and was surprised there by his girlfriend Charlie who has been in Rotterdam for the year. Leonora loved hanging out with everyone, and particularly enjoyed lots of time better getting to know her Oma and Granddad who have been traveling lots.!

Leo and Oma

Leo and Granddad

Leo and Granddad

We had a great end to 2014 since our last post, with the BCG Christmas party as an amazing final evening out on the Harbour at The Island, a floating bar that was a wonderful venue for our Christmas party. The party was nautical themed so Jacs and I were all dressed up :-) TK was brave enough to look after Leo for the evening which was much appreciated!

Christmas Party at the Island

Christmas Party at the Island

The following morning, TK, Jacs, Leo and I headed off to Bali bright and early (I could have used some more sleep) to meet mum and dad and head out to Nusa Lembongan. Nusa Lembongan is a little island 30 minutes boat ride from Bali, and is slower paced. We had 2 nights there staying at the Nusa Bay, where we each had our own bungalow, and there was a pool and the beach so it was a great chance to decompress and relax. The first day, Dad, Jacs and I headed off for some beautiful diving (although unfortunately no mantas :-() while mum, TK and Leo hung out by the pool. The next day TK and I rented a scooter and he dropped me off for a surf at ‘Shipwrecks’ (aptly named for the shallow reef) before we did an island explore.

Off for a dive at Nusa Lembongan

Off for a dive at Nusa Lembongan

The next day it was back to Bali and up to see mum and dad’s new house on the Sayan ridge in Ubud called ‘Living Light’. Mum has done an amazing job and it really is a beautiful place! It is also part of a development with 15 other houses, and all share a lovely pool and community kitchen/restaurant area. Unfortunately the pool was having some teething issues with the rain, but we did get to enjoy it one day while we were there :-)

We were based in Ubud at Living Light for the remainder of the trip and had an amazing time as our various friends and family arrived and left. We had some days surfing in Kuta and shopping in Seminyak, both of which are extremely busy and overwhelming these days, but do have little oases like Sardine where we had a lovely lunch one day.

Lunch at Sardine in Seminyak

Lunch at Sardine in Seminyak

We also had days exploring Ubud and shopping on Monkey Forest Rd (Leo was amazing in the monkey forest – she thought she was one of them and was making all kinds of noises!), doing some yoga at the yoga barn (Jacs even did a workshop with an internationally renowned teacher), and relaxing and surfing at the Komune Resort at an East Bali beach called Keramas with an excellent right break. It was a great combination because everyone could relax, eat, drink and swim in the pool, all while overlooking the surf so I could pop out for a paddle.

Beers in the pool at Keramas

Beers in the pool at Keramas

We also had some fun taking Christmas photos of the boys in some speedos that TK specially supplied!

The boys in their budgie smugglers

The boys in their budgie smugglers

For Christmas Eve, we had a lovely evening with a gathering at Living Light in the common area with friends and guests and a feast of food and drinks, as well as some time hanging out in our house with our family and friends over a few Bintangs and G&Ts (We went through quite a lot of Bintang and Bombay Sapphire on the trip!).

The Whole Group for Christmas

The Whole Group for Christmas

Christmas morning, we then had a lovely breakfast at the house, before doing our ‘white elephant’ gifts. Lucky Leonora (for her Christmas) was spoiled by everyone however and ended up with a huge pile of pressies :-)

Santa came to visit

Santa came to visit

Christmas Breakfast

Christmas Breakfast

On the 29th, we had an amazing family evening that mum had organised with a few of their closest friends at a venue (Anneke’s) where we had a delicious privately catered meal in a fancy tent overlooking the valley, rice paddies and river. For New Year’s Eve, we started the day bike riding down the Volcano from Kintamani (an amazing ride through the villages with Bali Eco Cycling – thanks Christy for organising), and then after regaining our energy in the afternoon, headed out for the most amazing dinner (lucky mum booked 6 months in advance!) at a restaurant called Locavore in Ubud. It was a delicious modern degustation menu, with lots of cocktails being ordered to accompany it. It really was world class, and a great way to celebrate being in a special place! After dinner, ‘the kids’ headed out for some drinks around Ubud to usher in the new year, while mum and dad headed home with Leo to celebrate in a more low key way there. The soccer field in Ubud turned in to an amazing display of unregulated fireworks (I was amazed no one was hurt!) as the new year arrived – it was quite the sight, and TK (of course!) even bought a few of the biggest fireworks to contribute to the display.

New Years Day, we headed down to Keramas for one more relaxing beach day, and at some point we somehow (I’m looking at Bubba) decided that every hour we should have a drink to wish a new timezone a happy new year which turned in to a great fun game! That evening was the last dinner for many of the group, but we had organised quite the farewell with an entire suckling pig (Babi Guling) for the group at a restaurant in Ubud where the manager specially arranged it for us, Kafe Batan Waru. Bubba certainly seemed to enjoy the feast!

Babi Guling Before

Babi Guling Before

Babi Guling After

Babi Guling After

The next morning we sadly had to farewell Mike and Jess and then Bubba and Christy, but it was so wonderful that they were able to come and visit. The rest of us headed down to the beach in Seminyak for one last cocktail and meal at one of our favourite restaurants, La Lucciola, right on the beach by Peti Tenget, where we were joined by Nix and her Fiance (!!) Chris who had just arrived in Bali.

Sadly that brought the trip to an end, but what a great holiday it was!

Hope that all of the rest of you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!
xx
Ben and Jacs

Lots to be thankful for!

Thanksgiving has come and gone remarkably quickly, and Christmas is fast approaching. That said, we haven’t posted in a while, so wanted to catch you up on what’s been happening here, and also remember how much we have to be thankful for with our wonderful family, friends and life here in Sydney. This year is a special one for us too since it was Leonora’s first thanksgiving – and we are so lucky to have her in our family!

Leo Toilet Paper

Leo at daycare

We also haven’t posted since Halloween, so wanted to share some photos of our little lady bug. We had some friends over to our place for a great fun halloween party – and Jacs’ cooked up all kinds of treats!

Halloween 1

Halloween 2

For the week leading up to thanksgiving, we had Vik and Mike visiting which was awesome. They arrived on the Saturday morning and we took them straight down to Bondi for a morning in the sun at the beach, since I was hosting a BBQ to thank everyone that had donated to SurfAid.

Bondi

We had a lovely morning, but unfortunately Leo, who had been a little under the weather with an ear ache and cough, was looking worse and worse as the day went on. Lucky for her, Jacs, being the great mum that she has, took Leo to the emergency room where they found (after much testing – poor Leo with all the needles will forever be scared of nurses!) that she had 2 ear aches, tonsillitis and had developed pneumonia, so they decided to keep her overnight on an IV drip of penicillin. Vik and Mike therefore had their first dinner in Sydney as takeout pizza in the ER! Leo is now healthy and happy again which is great :-)

ER

Jacs spent the night and the next day in hospital with Leo before bringing her home Sunday evening. During the day I took Vik and Mike exploring to Manly to spend more time at the beach and get some Japanese for lunch. I really enjoyed getting the time to hang out, since I was off to Canberra Monday morning.

Out on the harbour

During the week, Jacs, Vik, Mike and Leo continued exploring town, spending lots of time at Balmoral, and even driving out to Casula (about a 45 minute drive) to visit Little Caesar’s for a Detroit style pizza :-) I managed to get out of Canberra a day early and flew back Wednesday evening, and headed straight to the city to meet everyone at the Shangri La for a cocktail over looking Sydney, followed by a delicious (if Spicy) dinner at the famous Sailor’s Thai in the rocks.

Shangri La

Thursday night it was then thanksgiving. We celebrated as a family at mum and dad’s, and my cousin Andy and his wife Josie (who recently moved to Sydney and live a block from us now) came too. The food was an aussie take (Jacs made a delicious pumpkin pie, but for meat we had chicken and kangaroo!!), but the idea was definitely still there and all about how thankful we all are. It was a really lovely evening.

Friday night we took Vik and Mike for one final evening in Manly (I rode the ferry over from work which was lovely!), before sadly having to say goodbye on Saturday morning at the airport after a lovely final breakfast at Bathers. The visit flew by, and was such great fun.

Bathers

Saturday afternoon we wrapped up Thanksgiving with a small thanksgiving dinner with our friends, Nate and Kate, at their house by the water in Manly/Fairlight. We did some paddleboarding and had a lovely casual dinner with them and their 18 month old Camden.

Other than that, we’ve been enjoying as much beach time as possible now that the weather is warming up (although this weekend was all about afternoon thunderstorms!) – getting out surfing and paddle boarding whenever we can. It was sculptures by the sea at Bondi a few weeks ago, which is an outdoor exhibition on the walk from Bondi to Tamarama, so we checked that out. We’ve also had a friend from Berkeley visiting this weekend, Jay, so was great to catchup with him. Sydney is gorgeous this time of year!

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Paddleboarding

We also spent a few nights as a family down in Canberra. Leo had a blast at Questacon – the Science Museum – as it had an interactive area for younger kids where she could splash in the water and that kind of thing. I remember I’ve always loved Science Museums so great to see Leo following in my footsteps :-)

In true aussie style, we were even rewarded for our visit to the nation’s capital by a kangaroo hopping past us on the pavement right in front of Parliament House! Imagine that! Jacs got such kick out of it as it speaks to all of her preconceived notions of Australia before she moved.

Kangaroo

We are going to spend some time in Bali for 2 weeks which we are super excited for. TK, mum and dad will be there although sadly Keiren and Will can’t make it. Excitingly Bubba and Christy will be joining us for a few days, and our good friends Jess and Mike from San Diego are coming along too. It is going to be an awesome trip – you’ll hear all about it soon.

xx
Ben and Jacs