Buchanan’s at Sea for Dad’s 70th

Hi everybody!
Hope that you’re all well. Can’t believe it is already the middle of the year! All is going great here. We just got back from a wonderful 2 weeks in Alaska for Dad’s 70th with Mum, Dad, Keiren, Will, Tk, Di, and all of us, so quite a group. It’s the first time that all of us have been together for a long time, and was a great chance for us all to get to know Di, and for everyone to spend some time with Camilla, the newest family member 🙂

The trip started with us all meeting in Vancouver for two nights as that was where the cruise was leaving from. We had a chance to ride bikes all around Stanley Park which was beautiful, wander around the old town, eat and drink lots (Meat and Bread was delicious for a quick lunch, Keiren picked a delicious Japanese place for dinner one night, and there were a bunch of breweries…). We even got out for drinks one night with one of TK’s friends from Sydney that was in town (Jacs stayed in and looked after the girls).

After what seemed like no time, it was time to board the Silver Shadow, our ship that held just 380 guests. We really were traveling in style, with a butler for each room, large suites (mum and dad had a balcony) and a few restaurants and bars with all you can eat and drink! That said we were also far and away the youngest on board – I don’t think they’d seen a toddler and a baby before 🙂 It was a week long cruise up to Seward where the sea portion of the trip ended, and it flew by. While we were on board, we spent our time enjoying the delicious food (including at the Grill where you cooked steaks on hot plates!), drinking more than we should, playing shuffleboard, running around the running track, sitting in the hot tub, having massages, watching whales, dolphins and beautiful scenery, and much more! 4.45 Trivia became a must do event every day, where we started with Gin and Tonics, gave the cruise director (Kirk aka Captain Kirk) a bit of banter, and did much better than our name ‘in last place’ suggested! In the evenings since it was light so late, dinner often wasn’t done until almost 10. We’d get the girls to bed, and a few nights mum and dad watched the girls while we enjoyed some ‘partying’, watching the ‘Voices of the Silver Sea’ perform (which they loved since we were enthusiastic), taking over the piano bar to sing karaoke to ‘Horses’ and ‘Pianoman’, and generally tearing up the dance floor! The whole time we were extremely lucky with the weather – other than a cool wind out at sea, it was sunny and warmer than expected.

That probably sounds like more than enough to keep us busy, but on top of that were some wonderful shore excursions in all the ports:

  • Day 1: We cruised the inside passage so were at sea all day, but look in the sights, and adjusted to the gentle sway of being on a boat. We also had the pleasure of watching a dolphin swim below mum and dad’s veranda.
  • Day 2: We arrived in Ketchikan, our first Alaskan port. Will, TK and I went salmon fishing which was gorgeous but despite our best efforts, and some tugs on the line, all we caught was the herring we used as bait. The beers went down well however as we watched Bald Eagles flying overhead. The rest of the fam went to a wildlife sanctuary and saw a bear cub, so all was off to a good start.
  • Day 3: Juneau, the capital of Alaska! We headed out to see Mendenhall Glacier, which was spectacular. Along the road, there were Bald Eagles everywhere – we were starting to call them the pigeons of Alaska! Back in town, Jacs, myself and the girls split off from the group to grab some Pork Adobo for lunch at a stall (the girls gobbled it down). We then had a fun ride up the tramway, and a hike around, before heading back to the boat for a rest.
  • Day 4: Skagway, a small town that sits at the end of a valley so the wind rushes through! All of the ‘kids’ left Oma and Granddad to get out for a kayak on a mountain lake. Despite all the drinks the night before we made it on to the bus for the hour drive up to the lake (which was actually back in Canada!), and got our kayaking gear on. It was freezing getting ready, but once in the kayaks we were warm and had a blast. It was gorgeous, and our group quickly split off from some other ‘more typical’ cruise passengers and really got to explore. TK and I even jumped in at the end! After the kayak, we had a beautiful train trip back to Skagway through the mountains, barely making it back in time for trivia
  • Day 5: We spent the morning in Sitka on a cruise to see Sea Otters, which quickly became a highlight of the trip when we spotted a pod of ~15 whales and spent an hour following them and watching them breach and bubble net feed (where they all dive, blow bubbles and come shooting out of the water together) which was incredible. We then found some sea otters and watched them paddle around. Back in town, coincidentally Bubba, Christy and EJ were visiting with Christy’s brother and mum. They had a cabin and had been fishing so we all got the chance to have a lovely lunch at the pub together before getting back on the ship and setting sail.
  • Day 6: We were a little surprised at 7am to hear the loud speaker announcing that we were getting close to Hubbard Glacier. None of us had really registered that we’d see the glacier so early in the day. We rushed up to the observation deck and had some mulled wine, hot chocolate and doughnuts and took in the beauty as we cruised through glacier bay ever closer to Hubbard Glacier. It really was stunning, and our ship got pretty close so there were icebergs floating by! After turning around and heading back through the bay, it was absolutely stunning running around the track in the brisk air and taking in the sights.
  • Day 7: We arrived bright and early in our final port, Seward, and were up early to board a glass roofed train for the 4 hour journey through the wilderness to Anchorage, our final destination. We took in the sights, some of us caught a bit of rest, and in no time we were there!

Getting to Anchorage wasn’t the end of our trip, but it was the end of the trip for TK and Di, and Keiren and Will. We had one final lunch, an afternoon hike, and dinner together, some G&T’s from the lounge (Dad’s obsession) and had a fairly early final night all together. It was really so great to get to do the cruise as the whole fam!

From there, mum, dad, Jacs, the girls and I hopped in the car and drove up to Denali National Park. We arrived mid afternoon, and before we’d even reached the visitor centre to pick up our shuttle tickets for the following day we’d seen two Moose! We checked in to our nice little hotel (the Crows Nest), and had an early dinner at the Overlook restaurant at the hotel, which happened to be one of the best in town! We then had an early night as we needed to be back at the park at 6.40 for our trip in to the park. After an early morning rush to pack food for the day and get breakfast, off we went. We were nervous for the 8 hour round trip on the bus to Eielson Visitor Centre with the girls, but they were incredible all day. The trip started slow, and we didn’t really see anything for quite a while, but then it all started to happen! By the end of the trip, we’d seen Dall Sheep, Moose, Caribou, a Fox, and even a Grizzly Bear and her 2 cubs! Not a bad day 🙂

We were exhausted when we got home, but made it out for a dinner just down the hill at the Salmon Bake, and had a couple of beers before getting some rest. The next morning, it was back to the park to check out the dog kennels, where we had a great time petting the sled dogs, hearing all about their training and amazing strength, and even watching a demonstration. Early afternoon, Jacs and I then went for a rafting trip down the Nenana river which was gorgeous and a lot of fun – and actually nice and warm in our dry suits! It was actually one of the highlights of Denali and a bit of excitement. That evening we had dinner at 49th State Brewery and enjoyed one last evening before heading back to Anchorage the next morning. We were even lucky enough to actually see Denali (the mountain) on the drive back!!

One final night in Anchorage brought the trip to an end, with Mum and Dad continuing on their way to the UK (although they’ll be back next month), and us getting back to LA and back to the real world of work. What an amazing trip though!

Here are a few photos from Alaska:

Prior to our trip to Alaska, we’ve had a lot going on too! Generally we’ve been enjoying some sunshine at the beach and the pool, hanging out with friends and watching the girls grow up incredibly fast – Camilla is well and truly walking now and is really hard to keep track of as she runs around 🙂

Here are a few photos from the past couple of months:

It has also been my birthday, mothers day, Easter and much more – where does time go! Here are a few good shots from Mother’s Day:

Jacs and I have also both started new jobs, which is exciting but also means we have our hands full. I’m now doing Content Acquisition at Netflix, and Jacs is doing Corporate Comms and Influencer Marketing for In-Shape health clubs. We’re both really enjoying it. It happened to be an awesome time for me to join Netflix too since it was just in time for Screenings week (I spent my first week watching TV at all the studios!), and the Netflix 100M subscriber celebration which was an incredible party!

We probably would have struggled to get through the transition to both working without mum and dad being in town – they happened to arrive the week I started the new role (phew!), and stayed until we went to Alaska, which was incredibly helpful. It was also really great to have them staying with us (Dad’s first time to our house!), and for them to hang out with the girls. The girls really love playing with their Oma and Granddad – and I think its reciprocal as I watch Dad and the girls having a tea party in the garden 😉

Granddad and the girls at tea time

John and Shirley’s visit

The week before starting work and mum and dad arriving, we did manage to fit in a quick holiday to Detroit and Philly. In Detroit we stayed with Vik and Mike, and met Baby Sara. Leo loved being a big cousin!! We went to the zoo, and a Tiger’s game, and caught up with friends there which was a lot of fun.

Leo being a big cousin with Sarah

Watching the ball game at Tiger stadium

From there, we visited Andrew and Amanda Collier in Philly, and met baby Max there. Again, the girls loved having a new friend, although Camilla actually really took to their dog Penny and would chase her around the house. Amanda and Andrew live within walking distance of heaps of cool restaurants so we had fun strolling the neighbourhood and eating out – including more than our fair share of BBQ. They also live near a few distilleries so one of the days was spent going from one to the next and checking them out and having a drink – starting with rum and coffee in the morning 😉 We also spent a day exploring more of the city and went to the ‘magic garden’ where an artist had spent years creating walls and mazes from all kinds of things – hard to explain but check out the photos!

I think that about covers it for now!

Hope you’re all well

Birthdays and visits!

Hi all!
We can’t believe it is March already – where is 2017 going!! It has been a wet couple of months here, but the sun is finally back out which we’re enjoying. The rain hasn’t slowed us down though – we’ve celebrated Jacs’ (27th…) birthday, Leo’s 3rd and Milla’s 1st. Mum was here for the girls’ birthday parties which was great fun. For Leo we had a bouncy castle and a bunch of her (and our) friends so it was quite the party. For Milla, we kept it low key with Champagne and Bagels with family, but it was a blast!

Leo’s birthday

Milla’s birthday

Over the past couple of month’s we’ve also done a couple of little day and weekend trips, and we’ve had some family and friends visiting us here:

  • Leo took me to Disney Land (she says she calls it ‘Disney’) and showed me all of her favorite ride. Dumbo still wins, but she was brave and went on Peter Pan and Pinocchio despite some scary characters!
  • The benefit of all the rain and cold has been lots and lots of snow this year. We decided to take advantage of it, and have a weekend up in Big Bear with Caitlin and Felix (unfortunately Dan was old of town). We got a nice little AirBnB in town, and had a lovely weekend – I hit the slopes with a friend while everyone else spent the day playing in the snow. It was certainly more snow than Big Bear was used to!
  • Mum has been over to visit twice the past couple of months which has been great fun – she was here for a week at the beginning of Feb (when we celebrated Leo’s birthday), and was then back for the first week of March (when we celebrated Milla’s).The girl’s loved having Oma around – painting, exploring Pasadena, playing in the house, exploring LA (including a decadent morning at Smorgasburg for all the food trucks). We even lit the fire in the cold weather and made Smores!
  • Our great friend Amanda Collier came through town with work, so we had a fun night of tacos at Trejo’s Cantina in Hollywood, followed by some froyo! It was so great to see her!
  • Amazingly it is already less than a month until Vik and Mike’s baby Sara is due. All the girls headed over to Detroit last month for the baby shower for a few days. I’m excited to get over to visit them in May and meet our new niece!
  • Having been abandoned at home, I decided to have a boy’s weekend in San Francisco – Jason happened to be in town from Sydney, and it was a great opportunity to catch-up with lots of business school friends, as well as Jacs’ grand parents in Berkeley.

    Friends from all over the world

  • Our really great friend Em from Sydney came to stay – we had a blast exploring town (including a crazy day of lunch at Baco Mercat, drinks on the rooftop at Perch, followed by meeting friends in Old Town while Bon watched the girls – thanks Bon!), and a weekend up in Santa Barbara. Luckily the sun came out for a little while during the day and we had the chance to go for a ‘bike ride’ (Camilla looked like a mushroom from Super Mario), I had a surf and Leo enjoyed the pool!
  • Last weekend, Ray (my cousin Wendy’s husband from Melbourne) was in town researching Mindfulness and Meditation studios with his business partner, so we had fun meeting him down in Santa Monica, and also going out to a great dinner in Silver Lake at a delicious restaurant called Pine and Crane.

Phew!

Before I wrap up, here are a couple of other photos from the past few months as well:

I think that just about covers the highlights from the past couple of months. Hope that everyone is well!
– Ben and Jacs

Happy New Year! Bring on 2017

Happy New Year everyone!

Hope that 2017 is off to a good start for all of you. It certainly is here. We’ve had a lovely holidays here in LA, hanging out with family and friends, and squeezed in a quick getaway to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree too (about 2 hours away). Yesterday, we spent the day at Venice Beach with friends enjoying the sunshine, a surf and a picnic on the beach – not bad for the middle of winter. Today is the Rose Parade in Pasadena so we’re having a quiet day and watching that on TV! That brings to an end the holidays – back to work tomorrow 🙁

Juice at Muscle Beach on the 1st

Happy New Year!

Christmas kicked off for us a few weeks ago with brunch with Santa at the Altadena country club – we got all dressed up and Camilla and Leo had on their Christmas dresses ready to hear some carols and meet Santa. It was quite the setup with ‘snow’ all over the floor. Santa and Mrs Claus were very patient with the girls – although it was funny cause both girls are still kind of scared of Santa. With that said, Camilla did play with his beard quite a bit and Leo managed to ask for a Lion, a Dinosaur and a Monkey from a few steps away!

Getting the tree ready

Carols at the Club

Ready for brunch

‘I love my sister’

Meeting the Claus’

Our next big Christmas event was Leo’s school Christmas Program which was a wonderful morning. She sang carols and other songs with her class and really put on a show – we could hear her from our seats. It was so cute to see her up there on stage! At the end, Santa was there too, and Leo repeated her ask (Lion, Dinosaur, Monkey – every time!)

Nonna was still guest of honor!

Such a performer

Proud parents

Singing her heart out

The Christmas celebrations continued the next night with my work Christmas party, which was James Bond themed at a cool club downtown called the Edison, which still had a lot of old power generation equipment, and had a great atmosphere. A really fun night out!

Prom Wall

Ready to party!

All dressed up!

Another fun activity in the lead-up to Christmas was a trip to the Descanso Gardens ‘Enchanted Forest of Lights’ with Caitlin, Dan and Felix, and Bubba, Christy and Lizzy Jane. They turn the gardens in to a set of really cool light exhibits, with 2 of the favourites being the ‘Lily Pads’ that lit up as Leo and Felix chased each other around, and a set of light shows with music as you stepped on the pads. It was cold, but a hot toddy as we walked helped keep us warm 🙂

Keeping warm!

Family fun!

Leo and ‘her best friend’

Christmas Eve, we started the day with a lovely brunch at Uncle Michael and Aunt Rachael’s (where Camilla suddenly worked out how to climb stairs!). We had Bonnie and Lou over for a nice dinner before Leo put out her milk, cookies, and carrots for Santa and his Reindeer. Leo really is now completely aware of it all, and was very excited for Santa’s visit, even though she was still a little scared of him. In the morning, Nonna and Babbo were back at 7.30am to start the Christmas celebrations. Leo checked the milk and cookies and verified that Santa had come down the chimney while she slept, and with that it was straight in to the present opening! What excitement!

Up the stairs!

I’ve been a good girl Santa!

Luckily Santa delivered on the Lion, Dinosaur, and Monkey – even if they weren’t real. 🙂 The girls were also spoiled with lots and lots of other pressies from Santa, Oma/Grand dad and Nonna/Babbo! They were overwhelmed but so excited. By 9.30, we were over at Bubba and Christy’s house to continue the celebrations with a champagne brunch and some pretty decadent food! (Thanks Bubba/Christy for hosting!). After all the excitement we had a quick afternoon nap, before Christmas dinner lasagna feast at Bonnie and Lou’s! What a day!!

Pressie time!

Dinosaurs!

All the girls

In the morning, we got up and got on the road to Palm Springs where we had decided to get a quick 2 night getaway, and we’re glad we did! We spent the first afternoon wondering around town, having a delicious lunch at Cheeky’s (thanks Caitlin for the tip!), taking advantage of happy hour at the hotel, and then an early dinner nearby in town. We then spent the next day exploring Joshua Tree national park, which really was stunning – a cool landscape of rocks and (you guessed it!) Joshua Trees in the high desert. We stopped at a couple of the cool landmarks through the park such as Skull Rock, but the highlight was the 1 mile hidden valley loop – about the limit of our hiking ability with the girls 🙂 Leo was on form though, running around, climbing rocks… and we even caught a first glimpse of snow since there was a little on the ground. We then got really lucky as both girls fell asleep and stayed asleep all the way back to Palm Springs as we took a scenic drive out of the park and through box canyon.

Beautiful landscapes in Joshua Tree

My girls!

The fam in Joshua Tree

Fingers crossed she doesn’t jump!

Another family shot!

After another drink at happy hour, and dinner at Lulu’s nearby and some decadent milkshakes for dessert, we had an early night in preparation for getting up early to check out the Aerial Tramway – each time we drove past there was a 4 hour wait, so we decided being there at 7.30 to get tickets for the first tram at 8, was the way to go and it completely paid off. The Tramway is a 10 minute ride over 2.5 miles up to 8,500 feet where there is beautiful wilderness and hiking, and at this time of year, lots of snow to play in! We put on our snow jackets, and Leo grabbed her sled (a Christmas pressie from Daddy), and up we went! It is a stunning (and if you ask Jacs) a little scary) ride up the mountain with views out over Palm Springs and the other desert cities. At the top, we were greeted by a foot of snow, so after a hot chocolate, got out there to build snow men (we had to build the whole family!), and do a little sledding. It was the girls’ first time seeing snow properly and was so much fun!

View from the top

Loving the snow!

Now that’s a snowball

Now this is how to travel

Enjoying the snow

So much fun in fact, that the next day back in LA, we headed up Angeles Crest above Pasadena to play in the snow with Caitlin, Dan and Felix – Leo just couldn’t get enough of building snowmen!

More snowmen!

That brings us to New Year’s Eve. Bubba and Christy had the great idea to host a ‘Noon Year’s Eve’ party at lunch. Unfortunately it was raining so the bouncy castle had to be cancelled but we still had a blast with all the kids running around having a blast for the afternoon while we ate, drank, and generally had a great time. At one point, there were about 6 toddlers having a dance party! After all of that fun, we didn’t get anywhere near midnight – we were in bed by 8… but it did mean we were up for our beach day on New Year’s Day to welcome 2017!

Now before we go, a couple of other photos from the past month:

My #1 fan

Where does time go – 8 months!

Thanksgiving

Nine months and looking grown up – she has 4 teeth!

Such a smily baby

Hiking in the Santa Monica mountains

Hope that all of you have had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.
Ben, Jacs, Leo and Milla

6 months old already!

Gosh! It has been 3 months since we’ve posted. Where has that time gone? We’ve been busy here with a combination of dealing with 2 girls, moving in to our new house, having friends come and stay, getting away for a few fun weekends, and of course, continuing to get to know LA. I’ll keep this short though, since I’m sure we’ll lose your interest pretty quickly!

First things first, we can’t believe that Camilla is already 6 months old. She’s a little darling – such a smiley baby with a gentle temperament. She’s already trying to crawl, and can shuffle across the floor. She also has some teeth coming in (so is sleeping great! 😉 ) She’s growing up so fast!

Camilla is 6 months old!

Camilla is 6 months old!

Next up, I’m sure you’re all curious about our new place. We’ve got a lovely Spanish ‘Adobe’ style 3 bedroom place with a garden that Leo loves playing in (with a swingset all setup!). It’s about 5 minutes drive up to Bonnie and Lou’s so we’re still getting lots of Nonna and Bobbo help, 2 blocks walk to Leo’s school, and a little over a mile to the Club where we’ve been spending a lot of time by the pool. We’re so happy and feeling at home… and the guest room is all setup, so come and visit 🙂

Other than that, since we last posted back in June after returning from Miami / Vik and Mike’s wedding, we’ve been up to lots, but keeping it quick (photos below!):

  • Our dear friends Jacek and Em came to visit us from Sydney, so we had a great time catching up with them and showing them around LA
  • For the fourth of July long weekend, we headed up to the Bay Area to catch up with all of our friends with Berkeley and to celebrate Jacs’ granddad’s 90th. It was a lovely weekend – we stayed at the beautiful Claremont Hotel in Berkeley which is just a 5 minute walk to Jacs’ grand parents house. It was great to be back there and reminisce about our wonderful 2 years living there. The birthday party was really nice too – the sun was shining, and we caught up with the family over a few glasses of wine. Over the weekend, we also got to spend some time with our friends Chris and Jordan, and Andrew and Amanda – as well as many others!
  • Back in July, I had a quick trip to New York for a BCG soccer tournament, which also served as an opportunity to see Keiren and Will who cooked up a feast for me at their apartment. Sadly the rest of the fam had to stay home – would have been great to have them there, but so much fun to see K&W! And in the soccer, we got to the quarter finals which was much better than expected – although I had the cuts and bruises to show for it the next day 🙂
  • We spent a beautiful weekend up at Lake Arrowhead with LeAnn and Michael who kindly invited us up to their house there. Its about a 90 minute drive from Pasadena in to the mountains, but feels remote and is a gorgeous spot. We had the boat out on the lake in front of the house, so had heaps of fun getting out wakeboarding – Leo even came out on a boogie board with me behind the boat 🙂
  • Keeping things busy, we followed that weekend up with a weekend down in San Diego, staying in a cute little Air BnB cottage at Ocean Beach with our friends Caitlin and Dan, and their son Felix (Leo’s bestie). It was lovely and relaxing hanging as a family on the beach. Leo even caught some waves on a boogie board 🙂 We also got to hang out with cousin Tal, and see our friends Jess and Mike and meet their daughter Haley.
  • The following weekend was the labor day weekend, but was time for a weekend at home. Instead of going away, we were lucky enough to have Chris, Jordan and their baby Jack come and stay (it was the first test of our guest room – turned out there is no cold water in the guest shower – we’ve fixed it 😉 ). We had a great weekend mostly hanging out in the garden while the girls and Jack played, and we drank Rose in the sun! It is always a blast hanging out with them!
  • Last weekend, we’d worked up the energy for another weekend away, back to where it all began up in Santa Barbara 🙂 We haven’t been back there since moving to California, and it really reminded us how much we love it and feel relaxed there. The reason for the trip was that Jacs had signed up for a ‘She is Beautiful’ 5K race that a friend from her triathlon team at UCSB organizes. Jacs ran it in awesome time, especially since she was pushing Leo in the pram (and hasn’t had much time to train at all with two girls) – and Leo even got out to run across the finish line which was super cute. We stayed on the beach, and happened to be right at the start line, so didn’t use the car all weekend! I even got the train up from LA to meet the fam there which worked really well! SB really is so much fun, and we love the outdoor lifestyle. What was the ‘urban wine trail’ has also evolved in to the ‘funk zone’ which is a collection of tasting rooms, breweries, bars and restaurants which was really fun to explore – including a delicious dinner at the Lark.
  • Last week, Jacs and the girls, Bon, Al, Christy and EJ all headed down to Disneyland for the day! Leo was still probably a little too young and got a bit scared on some of the rides but generally had a blast and is still talking about it. I’ve still never been – the next trip will have to be a family one!

Other than that, it has really just been fun getting to know LA and really feeling settled in. We’ve been out surfing lots on weekends (well, I have and the girls hang out at the beach and enjoy the sun 😉 ) – both down at Manhattan Beach / El Porto, as well at Venice, and even up in Malibu. I’ve found a few friends to surf with which is great too. We’ve also been enjoying spending days at the pool at the Club – we’re now members, and Leo is such a water girl… and Camilla is getting to be too – and hanging out with friends and family 🙂

Phew! All caught up!
Well done on making it this far 🙂

Hope that you’re all well – as always, would love to hear from you.
– Ben, Jacs, Leo and Milla

Congrats to Mr and Mrs Ilitch!

Well it seems like another whirlwind month here! Not sure where time is flying by, although with the 2 girls we have our hands full 🙂
Believe it or not, Camilla is already 3 months old! She’s a little cutie, and a lovely, easy baby so far (touch wood!) – she smiles lots, has been sleeping pretty well, and is getting strong – we even caught her trying to roll over the other day! Leo continues to grow up fast, and we’ve been having so much fun with her. She talks a lot, and is really putting together sentences – and is certainly an opinionated little thing! I seem to get told ‘Daddy don’t do that, I don’t like that’ all the time – even if ‘that’ is asking her to eat her lunch or something easy 🙂 She starts at her new school this week which she is super excited about – she’ll even be doing swim classes there!

In other exciting news, we’re in the process of buying a house! We should be moving in over the next couple of weeks as escrow should close any day now.

So what else have we been up this month you ask? Lots in fact! Mum and Dad are in the US visiting. They arrived in the US a few weeks ago, just before Jacs and the girls headed out to Michigan to start getting ready for Vikkee and Mike’s wedding. We then had a few days together before they flew out to go and visit Keiren in New York, so we explored LA – one of the highlights was a delicious dinner at a restaurant called Le Comptoir that only seats 8 people at the counter, is largely vegetarian (with vegetables that the Chef grew), and the chef cooks in front of you and talks you through the meal. What a treat!

I then headed out to Detroit for the wedding to meet Jacs and the Fam – my whole family (Keiren, Will, TK, Mum and Dad) all made it which was special too. It was such an experience and a wonderful celebration. We couldn’t be more excited for Vik and Mike! The celebrations began with a family dinner at the MotorCity Casino (where we were all staying) on the Friday night – which Bonnie made pasta sauce for (that’s a lot of pasta sauce) – and was followed by some drinks back in Vik’s suite which was lots of fun. Saturday we then had the rehearsal in the morning which was a great opportunity for me to finally meet all the other Groomsmen! Leo was definitely not co-operating with the idea of being flower girl at the rehearsal and screamed the whole way down the aisle 😉 From there, we walked across the street to Comerica Park (Tiger stadium) for an amazing and unique afternoon – there was a merry go-round and hot dogs in the stadium, as well as lawn games down on the field and the chance to actually run around on the grass, and even go and explore the locker rooms… all while the names of all the guests were rotating through on the big screen! That night, we had an awesome evening at Punchbowl social, a cool bar with a bowling lane that we could use – and yes, before you ask, they did make punch…in a bowl which was very tasty, and apparently quite strong based on my memory of the end of the evening!

The next morning we woke up bright and early for the big day…which was also our 5 year anniversary (woohooooooo! Although, we decided that buying a house could be our celebration! 😉 ). Vik and Mike had each arranged a suite for the groomsmen and bridesmaids to get ready in, so while the girls were all getting their makeup and hair done, the guys relaxed in Mike’s suite and had a beer or two until about 15 minutes before we had to be ready at which point we all threw on our tuxes, and were looking good – although the girls were definitely looking amazing!! From there it was off to the Church for the wedding. It was a lovely service, and the best thing about it was how happy Mike and Vik were the whole time, smiling at each other and so genuinely happy. Leo even did a great job as flower girl, holding the ring bearer’s hand (Lucas), and Jacs’ hand too (the plan had been for them to walk themselves but this worked out too and no one else knew!). After the ceremony, we headed across the road to Comerica Park for the reception. Initially, the Bridal party had a separate area to hang out and have a drink an some snacks looking out over the rest of the guests below. Leo spotted Felix down below and the two of them did a lot of waving and trying to work out how to get to each other which was really cute. It was then time for the big entrance – Mike and Vik came after the bridal party and did a first dance to huge cheers and there were grins all around – while Leo and Felix were reunited and had a dance of their own! It was an awesome setup being in the Stadium for the dinner – Lou behaved himself in his speech, and Jacs and Al did an awesome job in their’s. After dinner the party continued in to the early hours with drinks and dancing under the stars with an awesome band. There was even an incredible fireworks display over the stadium!

The following morning, there was a yummy brunch at the hotel (and I overate on fried chicken!), and then we did a little explore to Corktown, which was an interesting neighbourhood of Detroit with some cool places opening up including ‘Two James’ – a distillery where we stopped for a cocktail. At that point, it was off to the airport for the adventure to continue in Miami!

Our couple of days in South Beach was heaps of fun – it was great to have some time with the family since it had been so long since all the Buchanan’s were together. We were staying just off the beach at the Hyatt Centric, so each morning had some time in the sun (I’m still recovering from some sun burn!) – The beach was beautiful and perfect for Leo since the water was nice and calm. When we’d had our fill of sunshine, we’d explore town – wanders through the art deco building of South Beach, Tacos at a litle place we liked called Taquiza (where we tried ‘Miami Weiss’ beer), and Sandwiches at La Sandwicherie. One afternoon we headed off to Wynwood Walls to see some really cool graffiti displays. The evenings were equally packed – we had a delicious dinner at YardBird (famous for fried Chicken), a birthday dinner for Keiren at Pubbelly for Asian inspired pub food, and an evening with Will’s cousin’s family and their kids which was a lot of fun too! While we didn’t do any proper ‘clubbing’, we did spend some time at some of the local dive bars, including our favourite – Kill Your Idol – where TK and I saw potentially the strangest live performance ever!!

Bright and early on Friday morning, Jacs, Leo, Camilla and I left the family in Miami and headed back to LA for a BCG retreat at a beautiful beachfront resort in Palos Verdes (South of LA) called Terranea where we then spent the weekend which was a nice way to wrap up the whirlwind weekend, complete with a Circus themed party (Leo was a Tiger!) 🙂

Now we’re back home recovering from all the excitement, and mum, dad and TK are coming to visit for a couple of days which will be fun!

Other than that, we’ve been up to the usual – spending time at the beach, visiting the zoo, hanging with Leo’s ‘best friend’ Felix (who she talks about constantly!), and continuing to settle in to life in LA.

Hope you’re all well
– Ben and Jacs

Having fun as a fam of 4!

Hi all! Its been quite a while since we posted, but as you can guess we’ve been busy getting used to having 2 little ones to look after. Looking back, I actually realize that we haven’t even really posted since getting back from Mexico! Don’t worry – we’ll keep this quick, and I’ll let you look at some of our photos from the past couple of months.

Everything has been going really well settling in here. We’re still living with the Fishers in Altadena, and work is going well for me – I’ve actually been based in LA for a change so not traveling has been great. Leonora is going to school a couple of days a week and being a wonderful big sister (so many kisses and cuddles!). She’s also been having a blast with her Nonna, and with her best friend Felix (our friend’s Caitlin and Dan’s son) who she sees every couple of days. Camilla is already six weeks old which is amazing – where does time go! She’s gorgeous, and growing up fast – she now smiles and is getting strong holding up her head. Jacs is being a super mum with the two of them.

Last month, mum and dad came to stay for almost a month which was wonderful. Leo had such a blast with her Oma and Granddad, and we all had a lot of fun hanging out and really appreciated all of their help!

As you might expect for Southern California, the weather has been beautiful, so we’ve been spending lots of time in the sun, at the beach (I’m still surfing most weekends down at Manhattan Beach/El Porto), going to the pool (Leo loves her swim lessons!), hiking around the mountains and canyons around Altadena – it has been heaps of fun!

Other than that, given the amount of time since our last post, here is a quick summary of some other highlights:

  • In January, before I started work, we had a quick trip up to San Francisco to see all of our friends there. We had so much fun there staying with Chris and Jordan, and seeing their son Jack.
  • We celebrated Jacs’ 21st birthday and Leo’s second birthday! She’s getting so grown up
  • Leo, Felix, Dan and I went to Peppa Pig Live – what an experience 🙂
  • I had a quick trip to New York for a bachelor party, and happened to be staying a block from Keiren and Will’s house so had a really fun time seeing them
  • Chris, Jordan and Jack came to visit us in LA
  • We had an Easter egg hunt around the garden and Leo found so many eggs she had to fill her basket twice – she loves the Easter bunny
  • We celebrated my 32nd birthday!
  • Keiren and Will came to visit while mum and dad were here, so we really had a full house 🙂 They managed to come for a whole week which was great since usually we only get one weekend at a time!
  • Hope that all of you are well
    Ben and Jacs
    xx

    From three to four, welcome to the world baby girl!

    Welcome to the world, Camilla Eloise Buchanan!

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    Our dear family and friends,

    At 7.38 a.m on March 7th, we were blessed with another healthy baby girl. Somehow our hearts have doubled in size in one short breath. We’re overwhelmed with joy, love and excitement to welcome our new baby girl to the world.

    Both Jacs and Milla are healthy, albeit a bit exhausted, and recovering well. Leo is smitten with her baby sister and relishing in her new role as big sis!

    We will be in touch with more photos and information once we’ve had time to settle into our new family of FOUR! 🙂

    All our love
    Ben, Jacqueline, Leonora and Camilla

    Camilla Eloise Buchanan
    7 March 2016
    7 lb, 14 oz / 3.57 kg
    20.5 inches / 52 cm