West Coast adventures

Since our last post, Jacs and Leo have been having a lovely time hanging out with the Fishers in LA, and I’ve been flying out for the weekends on the west coast. We’ve had some busy weekends, and it has been great fun, but it is lovely to have them both back in Chicago as of yesterday. It is crazy, but we only have 3-4 more weeks in the US, and Jacs and Leo will be heading back to LA in 2 weeks for the remainder of our stay. This weekend, Vik and Mike came to visit, and then next weekend, Keiren and Will as well as a friend from Berkeley, Robbie, and our friends Em and James from Sydney will all be in town so we’ll be having fun in Chicago!

The past month in Chicago hasn’t all been work for me either – I’ve been catching up with my friend Limo, as well as a South African guy from our building, so I’ve at least been able to go out for an after work beer! But let’s be honest, I was really missing my ladies.

This weekend with Vik and Mike has been awesome fun – we really packed a lot in and were sad to see them go just a couple of hours ago. They arrived early Friday morning – I was at work but everyone came and met me for lunch, and then they all went on a river cruise which they really enjoyed. I managed to get out a little early since I went in at 7.30, so we headed over to West Randolph Street to a delicious restaurant called the Publican where we overate lots of delicious meat and drank some yummy beers before walking home (via a stop for donuts at Firecakes!) to have beers in our outdoor area at home and relax which was fun.

Ben, Jacs, Vik and Leo

We then got up yesterday and headed out to Wicker Park which is a fun hipster area with some cool shops. We started with some brunch cocktails, there, then headed up to Lakeview for my favourite Soft Shell Crab Po Boy at Big and Little’s, then wondered over to the Wrigleyville SummerFest for a couple more drinks and some live music. The plan for a quick explore before heading home to relax seemed to evaporate as we decided to stroll a little further up the road to see Wrigley Field, and ended up pub crawling through Wrigleyville which was great fun! We then managed to swing by home for a quick change before heading back out for a delicious dinner of Ramen at Slurping Turtle on Hubbard St, and you guessed it, more beer and sake! What a day!!

Big Mike and Little Leo at Big and Little's

Big Mike and Little Leo at Big and Little’s

This morning, we were all exhausted, but Jacs convinced us we needed more donuts, so off we went to Do-Rite Donuts (her favourite)… the fresh air actually cleared my head and we were ready for a few more hours of fun before Vik and Mike needed to leave. The pace of the weekend continued with our next stop being beer, Chicago hot dogs and Italian Beef sandwiches at the famous Portillo’s restaurant, followed by some shopping on Michigan Ave, Cocktails at the top of John Hancock Tower at the Signature Lounge, and finally some delicious cheese, prosciutto and wine at Eataly which is a cool Italian market. What a weekend!!

Donut Leo

Anyway, the rest of the fun has been out in California so here is what our weekends have been like:

4th of July in Coronado

The Fishers have family down in Coronado (the Leonards and Cristillis) and have spent many a 4th down on the island soaking up the sun and partaking in all the 4th festivities. Bubba’s wife, Christy, is also from Coronado so there are a lot of people to catch up with while we’re down there. I flew in on Thursday night while the crew was at the mojito party. I arrived late that night, so went directly to the Cristilli’s where Jacs and Leo stayed. The next morning we were up for the 4th of July Parade joining Jay and Nichole and their kiddos Roman and Caroline on Orange Ave for mimosas and breakfast burritos. We then hit the beach with the whole gang, bodysurfed the waves and emerged covered in kelp. Gotta get used to that if we’re going to live in California! Jacs’ cousin Tally joined us too and we all went for margaritas and tacos at Miguel’s. That night we had a BBQ at the Cristilli’s and all watched the fireworks at the Plumb Compound. It was such a fantastic weekend – we walked the island and enjoyed the great family time at the beach.

Leo at the Beach

Ben and Leo July 4

LA and Malibu

The next Thursday I flew back out to the West Coast but this time we hung around LA. We joined Brenna and Dutch at Caitlin and Dan’s for a dinner party on the Friday night. Dan even smoked a few chickens which was right up my alley. After a delicious dinner and few too many drinks (for me!) we headed back home to get a bit of rest before our big day in Malibu. A bunch of Haasies rented a huge mansion in Malibu for a bit of a mini reunion so we decided to spend Saturday with them at the beach. The house was huge but what was more amazing was how many people our friends crammed in there! I’ve never seen so many people staying under one roof. It was great catching up with friends and spending the day at the beach. I brought one of Bubba’s surf boards with me but unfortunately the waves were pretty small so it was more of a paddle out than a surf…but at least I got out there. That night the Fisher’s were going to the Dodger game so on the way home from Malibu, Jacs and I stopped for a date night dinner in Old Town. Leo slept the whole dinner which was fabulous. Thanks Leo! When the Fisher’s returned home we all had a glass or five of wine outside on the porch. Their cousins, Rick and Noah, were in town for the game so we all caught up into the wee hours of the night. The next morning Bonnie made breakfast for us all, we went to the country club to watch the World Cup Final and then I had to unfortunately head to the airport!

Relaxing at the Surfrider Beach in Malibu with our Berkeley Friends

Relaxing at the Surfrider Beach in Malibu with our Berkeley Friends

SB Weekend

the week came and went, and I was again on a flight heading to LA for the weekend. Jacs picked me up and we went straight to Peter’s for dinner (the Fishers’ favourite Mexican joint). Matt Henderson was in town so we wanted to be sure we’d be there. It was a great dinner. The following night we decided to spend at the Fisher’s for dinner at home and a few drinks on the patio outside. It is such a lovely place to dine in the summer. Bubba brought some delicious IPA’s over for me to try and we drank quite a few of those :-) The next morning Jacs, Leo and I jumped in the car and drove up to Santa Barbara for the night. Nadia and Jay were heading up there for the night so we thought we’d join them and we could catch up with my buddy Rakesh. We walked along State Street, hit the beach for a few hours, and popped into a few of the wineries along the urban wine trail. We had a delicious Indian dinner with Rakesh and his buddy. We decided to leave relatively early the next morning, but couldn’t leave the area without a trip to the Bagel Cafe. We wondered around IV with Nadia and Jay and showed Leo where mummy and daddy met! Leo slept the whole time in the car, both ways which we were pleased about. After lunch at the Fishers and a bit of down time (shock horror!) Jacs took me to the airport.

Back where it all began with Leonora at the Bagel Cafe

Back where it all began with Leonora at the Bagel Cafe

SF Weekend

Last but not least, my final West Coast weekend we spent in SF for Sami and Alex’s wedding. Jacs, Bon and Leo drove up early to spend the night with Grandpa Lou and Grandma Gita. The next night I flew in and we caught up with some friend’s from business school in SF. We stayed with Leo’s storm parents Chris and Jordan. It was such a quick visit (only a few hours!) but good to see everyone nonetheless. Jacs and Bon picked me up from work and we drove down to Los Gatos for all the wedding festivities. Bon watched Leo for the rehearsal and wedding which was fantastic. The rehearsal dinner at Nick’s Next Door was delicious – lots of drinks, perfectly cooked steak, and mouthwatering ribs! Jacs was a bridesmaid in the wedding so the next day was busy beautifying with the ladies so Bon and I were on Leo duty (except for feedings!). We decided to go to Testarossa Winery since we were in the area. We bought a bottle of wine or two and headed back to the hotel so Mike and I could get ready to meet the girls at the wedding. It was such a fun wedding and a great excuse to catch up with all Jacs’ roommates from college. She was definitely in her element. The girls looked gorgeous, and Sami and Alex couldn’t have been happier. It was so special to be part of it all.

Sami and Alex Wedding

That about covers the past month I think!
xx
Ben and Jacs

Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. Leonora’s tour de Amérique continues

Our time in Chicago is flying by! We are having a blast and enjoying the summer weather, long walks through the city streets or along Lake Michigan, sunny street festivals and art fairs, yummy dinners at cool new restaurants and lots of family time.

I’ve made some lovely friends through Mommy and Me classes so have been spending my time exploring the city with them and working out lots. I also started a new ‘mommy blog’ about transitioning to life as a new mommy. I’ll also feature some yoga on it as well. Check it out here: (www.pranamommy.com) and follow me on instagram @jbuch113 :-)

Detroit:

Vikkee drove up from Detroit one weekend to see us and the following weekend we drove down to visit her. Vikkee and Mike have a great apartment in an area called Royal Oak – right on the main drag so in the action. It really reminded us of our St. Leonard’s place as it is walking distance to all the bars and restaurants in the area and right by the train. We arrived late on the Friday night and partook in their tradition of a Friday night scotch on their balcony watching all the world go by down below at all the bars. It was good fun.

The next morning Vikkee and I hit the pavement for a long run while the men watched Leo…was quite the site leaving Mike and Ben with Leo and the fuchsia pink diaper bag! We all had brunch together and then hopped in the car to tour Detroit. We cruised around downtown, checked out Gross Pointe and then went to the big flea/farmers market. It was so crowed we decided to make moves and grab lunch at American for Coney Island Dogs – not to be confused with Lafayette! :-) We cruised back to the apartment for some much needed relaxation before taking Leo (and Ben and I!) for our first Tigers game at Comerica Park. Mike even got us all Tigers baseball caps to sport as welcome pressies. It was probably one of the most fun games we’ve been to with lots of hits and runs….I guess the company was pretty good too :-)

Sunday morning we ventured into Birmingham for lattes and brunch, checked out Mike’s school Cranbrook which was gorgeous and spent a bit of time with his Mom Kathie. It was a relaxed day before making our way back to Chicago that afternoon. Luckily for us, Leo slept most of the way home (rather than crying like she did on the way to Detroit!). Vikkee and Mike will pop over to Chicago again in August so we see them once more before we head back to Sydney. We’re looking forward to it.

Philly – city of brotherly love and murals and the Colliers

We spent last weekend with the Colliers in Philadelphia. The Browns also came to town so it was an excellent mini reunion for some of our old biz school crew. We arrived late on Thursday night and stayed until late Sunday night. Friday Ben, Andrew and Amanda all worked from home while I took Leo sightseeing in Philly (and picked up delicious cheeses and cured meats from Reading Terminal for our dinner that night!). We actually discovered a cheese called Queso Leonora which was seriously one of the most delicious cheeses we’ve ever tasted. It is a goat based cheese done in a Brie style. Fan-freaking-tas-tic. The Browns arrived that afternoon as CB and Andrew were participating in the Philly Triathlon on Saturday morning. That night we started with cocktail hour on the Collier’s deck – they have this HUGE apartment in the Northern Liberties with a great outdoor space on their third level…yep…third level…followed by dinner at home with all of us and Andrew’s brother and his wife.

Ben and Andrew Working from Home

Ben and Andrew Working from Home

Saturday morning was the race where Andrew had the edge over CB in the swim which led to victory by the narrowest of margins! We all then walked over to pick up fried chicken and donuts…the perfect way to celebrate completing a triathlon…even for those of us who didn’t race! Once thing we noticed on this trip is there is no shortage of bad-for-you-but-oh-so-good food in Philadelphia. After a ridiculous amount of grease, we decided to wash it all down with some beers and a bit of a pub crawl through their neighborhood. For dinner we grabbed a quintessential Philly treat – the cheesesteak. The boys went out after dinner while we headed back to hit the hay. Someone has to be responsible with the little lady around :-)

Beers at the local German Biergarten

Beers at the local German Biergarten

Sunday morning we walked into Old Town for brunch at High Street – another fantastic stop on our food tour of Philly. We meandered back via a Morgan’s Pier where we stopped for farewell beers before JT had to catch her flight back to SF. We watched the US World Cup game, had dinner and headed to the airport for our late night flight back to Chicago.

All the blondes :-)

All the blondes :-)

It was such a fun weekend and so awesome to be together again – it’s as if no time passes between us and we all just pick up where we started…the boys egging each other on…us girls polishing off bottles of wine and covering every topic under the sun until the wee hours of the morning (well some more than others..darn breastfeeding! ;-). It was fun to see where Andrew and Amanda live and introduce Leo to her storm parents CB and JTB! It was sad to leave everyone…something about being together again makes you miss the people you’re apart from even more…overall an awesome weekend with some of our favorite people.

LA:

Yesterday Leonora and I flew out to LA where we will be for the month of July. Ben will commute Thursday to Sunday here and have the weeks at work in Chicago. It was hard to leave him as we’ve been having such great family time together. This weekend we’re heading down to Coronado for the Fourth of July! We’re looking forward to seeing all of our family and friends down there. We’ll be sure to write again soon!

xoxoxo
Jacs, Ben and Leo

California here we come!

I can’t believe how time is flying by, and on Saturday I leave for California for a 2 week holiday. Jacs, Leo and Bonnie (who has been visiting) flew over on Friday so that Jacs can spend a bit more time over there than I can with work. It worked out really well that Bonnie and her could fly together so that she didn’t have to handle the first flight with Leo alone! This week Jacs is relaxing with her family, then when I arrive on Saturday we have Jess and Michael’s wedding in La Jolla which will be awesome (Jacs is a bridesmaid!), then a quick visit up to the Bay Area, before having a week in LA with Jacs’ family, as well as Keiren and Will who are flying over from New York and Vik and Mike who are coming from Detroit.

Saying goodbye to Jacs and Leo at the airport

Saying goodbye to Jacs and Leo at the airport

Bonnie has been in Sydney for the past 2 weeks, and it was so great to have her around, as there has been lots going on. I’ve been travelling during the week with work, and we moved in to our new apartment 2 weeks ago, so it was amazing to have Bon around to help with that too – we really put her to work ;-)…and by we I mean Jacs as I was away with work! We’re loving the new apartment which is now just a 5 minute walk from mum and dad’s in Mosman so we can see them lots (and take advantage of some baby sitting…), and Jacs and Leo can go for strolls down to the beach. It is a 2 bedroom place in a 1920s building with high ceilings, and we have a beautiful view over middle harbour.

The view from our new apartment!

The view from our new apartment!

Our new building!

Our new building!

While Bonnie was in town, we also tried to have some fun so we don’t scare her away completely from visiting again! We tried to take advantage of some beautiful weather for strolls down to Balmoral and Chinaman’s beach, some surfing, and we even did the 12km Spit to Manly walk. For Easter we decided have my family (and our great friend and neighbour Jacek) over for an Easter brunch in our new apartment which was great fun!

Beautiful Chinaman's Beach

Beautiful Chinaman’s Beach

Taking in the view on the Spit to Manly walk

Taking in the view on the Spit to Manly walk

I assume this is just to scare away tourists?

I assume this is just to scare away tourists?

Looking pretty at Easter Brunch

Looking pretty at Easter Brunch

Since Bon and Jacs left on Friday, it was the Anzac Day long weekend which commemorates Anzacs who have died in wars, and in particular the Gallipoli landing in 1915. It also involves a day out having fun with friends and playing some two-up, a traditional gambling game. Given that, after taking them to the airport, I met TK, some of his friends, and some of my friends in the Rocks for a great day of beer and two-up!

Two-up in the street at the Australian

Two-up in the street at the Australian

The following morning I was not particularly impressed when my alarm went off to get up, but I was excited as it was time for TedX at the Opera House. TedX is a day centred around short TED talks, where people share ideas on interesting topics. I had a great day and learned lots… including but not limited to how to make a clarinet from a carrot ;-) (You can watch it here in Linsey Pollak’s section)

Time for TedX at the Opera House

Time for TedX at the Opera House

Just 5 days until I head to the US, so I’m sure you’ll here more from us soon about the trip.

- Ben

Ben’s 30th Birthday!

It’s been a little while since our last proper post. We’ve been busy getting to know the newest member of our family and loving every minute of it. Leonora is absolutely incredible. She is so sweet and has a beautifully soft temperament…now that we’ve treated her silent reflux! She was a little bit unsettled for a while and understandably as she was in a lot of pain from the stomach acid burning her oesophagus! But we’re on top of it – no nuts, dairy or chocolate for Mummy anymore (which is probably a blessing in disguise to help lose the last ten lbs of preggie weight!). She is really strong – holding her head up and holding her own weight on her feet. She is giggling and smiling constantly and has learned some pretty cute/funny sounds that she practices all the time :-) We even took her for her first swim. Check out the photos below.

We celebrated Ben’s big 3-0 on the weekend with a intimate dinner party and wine tasting at home. We asked everyone to bring their favourite memory and photo of Ben to share with the group – there were some hilarious stories and even better photos shared. It was such fun.

In other exciting news we sold our apartment AND bought a new one on the same day! We move into our new place in Mosman in two weeks and can not wait!!! It’s just around the corner from Ben’s parent’s and walking distance to Balmoral. We even convinced Mom to come and help us move (take care of Leo!). We will put some photos up of the place when we move in.

We’re getting ready for our visit to the US in May for Jess and Mike’s wedding. We’re really excited to see everyone and introduce our bundle of joy to all our loved ones in the US.

Here are a couple of photos from the last few weeks. Hope you’re all well and lots of love from us three.

Taking Leo for her first swim

Taking Leo for her first swim

Leonora 2 months

Leonora 2 months

Mummy and baby

Mummy and baby

Smiley bear!!

Smiley bear!!

Ben's 30th

Ben’s 30th

Family fun at Ben's 30th

Family fun at Ben’s 30th

Nat knighting Ben during her speech

Nat knighting Ben during her speech

Happy birthday love Leonora

Happy birthday love Leonora

So strong and killing it during tummy time!

So strong and killing it during tummy time!

Leonora is one month old!

One Month Old

It has been a wonderful (if a little tiring) month since we brought little Leonora home. Ben had the first two weeks off work, and mom has been visiting. It was wonderful having her here for almost 6 weeks and I was super sad when she left 2 days ago – but only 66 days until we visit California. She has been a huge help with Leo too. Leonora misses her Nonna too! Lucky for FaceTime which we now do for hours each day!

Nonna, Jacs and Leo

We’re living at Ian and Siena’s right now and things are going really well. We’ve been adjusting to having Leo here – it really is a full time job that takes some adjusting to since she needs feeding every 2 hours or so, and that takes a while so really there is no time to do anything (I even need help brushing teeth). It’s been such a blessing to be here where Siena cooks lovely dinners and helps with anything we need.

Ben and his assistant

Leonora is such a gorgeous little girl and we have been having such an amazing time getting to know her. She has been changing quickly – putting on weight and getting much more alert. Her eyes follow things now and she even gives me a little smile sometimes!

Ben's Fam

Other than looking after Leo, we haven’t done all of that much the past month. It has been great being in Mosman though since we’ve been able to spend some time by the pool, and taking Leonora for morning strolls down to Balmoral… and even out to an occasional dinner.

Nonna and Leo

Lots of friends have been coming over to meet Leo, and we did have a couple of people over for a BBQ to celebrate Australia Day which was fun.

Leo with Jacek - her Uncle Ya Ya

Leo with Jacek – her Uncle Ya Ya

The other day I had my own little ‘mothers group’ at the house (my proper one starts at the beginning of March) – Kylie, Jess and Andy all brought over their cute little ones. It is so lovely having friends going through similar things.

Mothers Tea

Over the past month we’ve also been visited by our family friends from Michigan (The Roots), so we had fun seeing them. We had dinner at Bathers, Ben and Mom took them out for cocktails and dinner in the Rocks, and we had a delicious dinner in Manly which Sarah and Jason joined… and Bon went out partying with the Roots after – she enjoyed the freedom after all of the Nonna duties!

Family Trip to Manly

We’ve also been visited by our good friend James Spalding from the UK – he surprised us with a visit for a few day with the help of Rory who kindly hosted him. The visitors didn’t stop there, and Ben’s friend from Berkeley, Reid came with work for a few days so we had a great time catching up with him. Over the weekend we also had all of Ben’s Berkeley friends that live in Sydney over for a delicious brunch at the house.

James' Visit

One other bit of exciting news is that we are selling our apartment – it is going to auction on March 1st which is super exciting, scary and also sad since it really has been a great place.

All in all a great first month! Here are a couple of other photos from the past month for you :-)

BW head photo

Jacs and Leo

BW foot photo

Leo in white

Leo

xx
Jacs, Ben and Leonora