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

Two big birthdays and two exciting visits

It’s been a few weeks since our last post and boy have we been busy. I’ll keep this short and let the photos speak for themselves, but here is a bit about what’s been going on in our world.

I turned 30. Yep. You heard it here first folks. It was a glorious celebration of an incredible three decades organised by none other than my gorgeous husband. We hosted about 30 or so of our closest friends at a Moroccan restaurant called Afous down at The Spit. If you haven’t been you must check it out! We all headed back to Karang Sari afterward for a swim by the pool.

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It was a really special and fun filled day. I couldn’t have asked for anything better and I just want to say thank you again to all of those that helped me celebrate. The best birthday gift of all however, which will always take the cake, is Leonora.

Mom arrived in Sydney shortly after to celebrate another big birthday – Leonora’s first. It was a momentous occasion marked by a Hawaiian Luau and pool party at Karang Sari. Luckily for me, Mom arrived when she did as I was struck down completely for four days with a case of mastitis (yep…again!). It was horrible, but Mom came to the rescue and took care of me and Leonora. It was such lucky timing as I couldn’t have done it without her. So we celebrated despite my condition and had a blast. Leonora was joined by lots of her friends and couldn’t get enough of the pool. Thanks again to everyone that came along to celebrate…err should I say Mahalo? :-)

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Mom’s trip was relatively short, but as soon as I was better we hit the beach for walks, the playground for the swing, a few restaurants for some delicious fish, and the shops for a bit of retail therapy! Looking forward to Mom coming to visit again when I’m not so ill! Thanks again Mom for taking such good care of us.

A few days after Mom left, our good friends from business school, Chris and Jordan Brown arrived to visit. We lined up the babysitters so we could show them the town (thanks again Siena, Ian and Tk!). We had quite the schedule – Manly Beach for a swim, a ferry to dinner at Cafe Sydney, Shangri-La for cocktails and the Glenmore for another rooftop pub. The next day we hit Bondi bright and early, did the Bondi to Bronte walk, went shopping in Paddington where we found a live band at an Irish Pub, and then headed to Bathers Pavilion for dinner that night. They headed to Hayman Island during the week, but were back for more debauchery on the Friday.

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We hit the Chuck Close exhibit at the MCA ( a must see…this guy is seriously a genius) before cruising the city and having lunch with Ben at a delicious Ramen joint by his work. That night we headed to Potts Point for dinner at Ms Gs and drinks at about five or six different bars and clubs in the area. We topped off the night with dancing at O’Malley’s (La and Em you would have been proud). Saturday was a bit of a slow start followed by a day at Balmoral before taking the ferry to Circular Quay for drinks at Palmer and Co before a spectacular Valentine’s Day dinner at Spice Temple. We hadn’t been in a few years, but it was better than ever. They were off the next day, but we squeezed in brekkie at the Boathouse and a swim before taking them to the airport.

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It was an awesome visit and we had such blast. It was so sad to see them go, as the visit made us realise just how much we miss them and all our friend from B school. We’re looking forward to visiting CA again soon and our eventual move.

That’s about it for the last few weeks, again it has been full on. We’re gearing up for a fun Autumn and promise to bring you all the latest and greatest, so stay tuned. :-)

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!

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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 :-)

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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.

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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

Thanks for your support in the SurfAid Cup!

Last Friday was the SurfAid Cup, so I just wanted to post a quick update on how it went.

Thanks so much to all of you who donated for your generous support (in particular, mum, dad and the Fedeles :-)). The event as a whole raised $140k, and we (team BCG) came in 4th in the fundraising with a very impressive $12,196 – that is going to make a huge contribution to the wellbeing of communities in the Mentawais and other parts of Indonesia.

The Team

The Cup took place on a sunny day at South Curl Curl. With the huge donation effort, we were able to secure 2 x World Surfing Champ Tom Carroll for our team. It was awesome to be able to surf with him. Despite, our best efforts however, we were knocked out in the heats despite some good rides. It wasn’t over there however, as we went in to the runners up ‘Fitness Challenge’, a relay with one wave per surfer. A valiant effort saw us through to the finals, however that was where the journey came to an end.

Ben Surfing

In the end, it was all about having fun and raising money for a great cause, so thanks so much for making it happen.

Check out more pictures and information from the day at the SurfAid Blog or watch the video here.

— Ben

Enjoying some beach time!

Another month has flown by and little Leo is now 9 months old! It is amazing how fast she is growing up, and is now standing up, and just starting to balance for a few seconds when she lets go of whatever she is holding. She also crawls super fast (she’s a handful!) and is loving spending lots of time at the beach with her mum as it warms up here. We had a lovely morning down at Balmoral today :-)

Leo at Balmoral

Jacs is still loving motherhood, and is now also teaching 3 yoga classes a week as well which is going great. She teaches a corporate class at BCG on Friday’s as well as a class at Just Balance in Lindfield, and a kids class for 5 year olds at Burns Bay Cottage.

I’m still working down in Canberra Monday to Thursday, so away from home a lot. We’re making the most of the weekends though, and have been having great time as a family, catching up with friends, and getting in some surfing. My SurfAid Cup charity competition is next Friday, so I’ll post again soon to let you know how it goes!

A couple of weeks ago it was our great friends Rory and Nat’s wedding – here are some photos from it.

The wedding was beautiful, and we were so glad to see the two of them so happy. They got married a few hours drive south of Sydney in a cute little town called Berry. It was a long weekend so we had 3 nights down there with all of our friends which was great. We rented a house with Sarah, Jason & Molly, and Kylie, Matt & Sami, so it was quite the house with 3 babies!

On the Saturday morning, we got out for a surf, and then Jacs went off to get ready with the other bridesmaids, and I joined Rory and the Groomsmen for the day, although we had a relaxing time since we seem to be able to get ready a little faster than the girls. The wedding venue was a gorgeous spot called Jaspers, and since we were both in the wedding party we had a room there for the night after the wedding. It worked really well since Mum and Dad came down to look after Leo during the wedding, and they then had our room at our house in Berry.

The ceremony was gorgeous, and the reception was heaps of fun. I even had to give a speech :-) The next morning, we headed off for another surf with everyone, and then had a BBQ that afternoon and another fun night before heading back to Sydney the next day. Having the extra night with everyone was such a treat!

Hope that you’re all well. I’ll post again soon about SurfAid.
Below are lots of photos of Leo from the past little while.

Ben and Jacs