Let’s Say ‘I Do’..

Today marks 1 week since I said ‘I Do’ to my most incredible partner, and although we made our vows outside of Jakarta, it’s this city that brought us together in the first place so I’m sharing it with you here.  In it’s completely unpredictable way, yet again, who would have thought that when Treen and I started this blog, we would end up married to Indonesians, with babies (Treen is due at any moment..yah!), and all this happening within weeks of eachother!  Putra and I had started collecting all our paperwork months ago but life got so hectic with work that there was such little precious time for us to do anything about it.  We had always wanted something intimate and I definately didn’t want a traditional Indonesian wedding with thousands of people, standing on a stage and smiling, shaking hands with people all day long while melting in the heat..

In the beginning of February we talked about possibilities again and I ordered a simple white dress online from Australia, and we had to get one more piece of paperwork for Putra before we could make any decisions.  Our dear friend Cara gave us the contact of her wedding organiser in Bali as an option so we called to find out options and then we talked about what we thought would be best for us.  As all my family wouldn’t be able to travel to Indonesia for a wedding, and it wouldn’t be fair to have only one side of family there, we decided what was more important was that Putra, Samudra and I had a special day together, and we would like our day to be about celebrating our little family.

Then, within a week, Putra’s final paperwork arrived and he asked if I was available the next weekend before he called and organised everything in Bali. A man organising the details of a wedding, isn’t this unheard of? Lucky me!

My dress never arrived in the mail from Australia, so thanks to a last minute Facebook message to Little Miss Bali recommending possible shops for a simple dress to buy, we took a 5am flight to Bali, a 15 minute shop in Seminyak to buy outfits first thing in the morning, and headed to La Joya Villas in Balangan.  This place is so peaceful and beautiful and the property is on the cliff above the beach we were getting married on. Perfect.

On the 14th February (Valentine’s Day was a complete coincidence!), the rain finally cleared just in time for us to walk the steps down to the beach and say ‘I Do’ in the most simple and beautiful setting with a Buddhist monk, two witnesses, and a beach filled with surfers.

So I married the most incredible, creative, talented, supportive, patient man with the biggest heart in the world, the father of our little angel Samudra, and I feel truly blessed.

Thank you Jakarta for all your crazy twists and turns in my life, for every moment that lead to this day, good and bad.  For all those that land in this chaotic city, may you see past the traffic, frustrations and ‘jam karet’, and find magical moments and create memories you will cherish forever, with the beautiful people, food and life that goes on here.

Wishing you all happiness. Always xox

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Walking down the aisle

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Simple and perfect

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Exchanging the rings

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My beautiful family

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Giving blessings

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Being joined together

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It’s official!

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Lovely Mewa xox

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Paradise in Balangan

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We love you Samudra!

Note:  A massive thank you to Maria at www.affordablebaliweddings for organising everything and for the beautiful photos

Kids Club at Shangri-La

Since we went away to Puncak at Christmas and the hotel we were staying at had pony rides, Samudra has become completely horse obsessed! Although he was too frightened at the time to actually get on a pony, we bought him a hand made unicorn from a local seller outside the hotel, and Samudra wouldn’t let it out of his sight.  By the time we travelled to Lembang for New Years and there were horses again at our villa, he was ready to go tandem riding with bapak.  Two seconds of tears and then pure joy and he was hooked! He ended up going on a pony ride every day we were away and since then has accumulated a collection of toy horses, and was waking up in the morning making horse sounds, which has now thankfully stopped.

We had temporarily converted our broom into a ride-on-pony with me drawing a head and sticking it on with tape, until it finally got replaced with a blue ride on horse pony from Kem Chicks Kemang, so we could clean the house again with the broom.  As Putra was going away (yet again!) for filming over the weekend, I decided to google pony riding in Jakarta and discovered that the Shangri-La Hotel has a Kid’s Club which offers pony rides.. woo hoo!

So Treen and I set off early with Samudra on Saturday morning as the Kid’s Club is open from 10.30am-4.00pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  Just as we were arriving Samudra fell asleep in the taxi and it had started to rain, so we decided to sit in a cafe at the Hotel and have a tea until the skies cleared and Samudra was awake.  The Shangri-La looks really grand as you enter the foyer and seeing the beautiful gardens from the cafe made me want to get outside as soon as possible and enjoy the little oasis in the city.  We both had an iced-tea while we were waiting and passed on food as Samudra woke just as we finished, and just as well! Two iced teas cost Rp 163,000 (AUD 16.54)… $8 for a small glass of tea? Really? That tainted our first impressions slightly.

Walking through the garden and around the pool, we came to a little opening to find the Kid’s Club.  We paid the Rp 50,000 for entrance which I thought was quite reasonable if you were planning to spend a few hours there and I felt much happier for Samudra to be playing on the grass outside rather than in a temperature controlled mall.

Out on the grass there was a big bouncy castle, a toddler pool for catching plastic fish with rods, some bikes, a little carousel, a tent decked out with tables and chairs for activities, slide and ball pit.  To be honest the toys looked a little tired and old but I’m sure the kids wouldn’t notice and it’s a nice change from being inside a mall playground.  Once I had pointed out the ‘horsey’ to Samudra he lost interest in everything else pretty much.  He went for two rides around the gardens on the pony and when he wasn’t on top of it, he was running up to get as close as possible and then running away again.

I forgot to ask at the time, but I’m thinking if use of the pools is included in the kids club, I would definately go back again, but with more little kids to keep Samudra entertained, and the option of the pool for parents to also unwind and splash around with the kids to cool off after running around.

I’m just happy that we found some pony rides in the city and mixed with a rubbish free lush green setting and grass that Samudra could run around barefoot on.. places like this are such a rarity in the city that it’s always great to discover somewhere new.

Anyone up for a Shangri-La playdate? Or let us know if you have made some other great outdoor discoveries worth sharing.

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Baby carousel ride with aunty Treen

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Trying to catch some fish

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Someone’s on my horse..

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A real horse again at last..

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Taking the tricycle for a walk

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Tractor time..

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Inside the play tent

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On a sunny day, I’d love to cool off here

My Favourite Medicine..

My New Years resolution this year was that I was going to start regularly blogging again and taking daily photos out on the streets as I have been neglecting both the camera and this page and I miss the joy both bring to me, and the documenting of life here.

After our Christmas holiday adventures ended and we returned to Jakarta, things fell straight back into hectic mode before Putra ended up sick with a stomach bug which Samudra quickly caught, and when I thought all was ok, I woke feeling like I had been hit by a truck. I spent a day so weak and barely able to move from the bathroom that I ordered a taxi and took myself to emergency at Kemang Medical Centre. I spent three hours hooked up to a drip rehydrating me and then was sent home with a plastic bag filled with various medicines. I felt great for about an hour and then headed straight back to bed. Things went downhill from there, running a super high temperature, barely able to move myself from the bathroom, and huddling against the wall in bed trying to cool down my fever ridden body.

The following day Putra was out filming so he suggested we go to the doctor again in the evening when he returned but after a couple of hours, I was back in a taxi heading straight for emergency. Blood tests revealed that I had typhoid so I was swiftly admitted into the hospital and put into a the ‘rabbit’ themed room with the TV blaring as my company while I tried to sleep.  I had horrible flashbacks from being in this hospital when I was sick during my pregnancy, unable to understand the nurses, and so scared and confused about what was going on as Putra was away filming again.  Coming from Australia where visitors are not allowed to stay in your hospital room outside of visiting hours, the nurses and doctors at KMC would ask where my family was every time they checked on me and said they felt sorry I was lying there alone, making me feel worse, but all I wanted was to sleep until I felt better.

Putra was leaving to go filming in PNG the second day I was in hospital and his family were leaving for holidays the next day so I was in a full panic about Samudra. Every morning I asked if I could go home yet and finally on the fourth day, I insisted on checking myself out so I could look after my baby.  As lovely as the doctors and nurses are in the hospital, I couldn’t sleep at all with the lights on day and night and being pumped with antibiotics every two hours causing me more nausea and pain.  So I had to sign paperwork to say I was releasing myself against doctors orders and finally, I left.

Admittedly I felt crap still but put on a brave face as I wanted to be near Samudra.  I took my medicine and although I couldn’t sleep at night because of aches and pains, I made an effort to get up early every morning and take him out on adventures, to play with friends, go to play parks and just spend quality time together for two whole weeks while Putra was away.  His smile and laughter and cheeky ways are better medicine than all the drugs being pumped into me.  We had such a lovely time, catching up with other mums and kids, having a train adventure to meet beautiful friends in Depok, meeting new lovely friends and going swimming at the Hyatt, play dates, running in the grass and around malls, painting at home, dancing and singing and playing instruments around the house and keeping busy until Samudra was ready to pass out in the evenings after we made dinner together.

I never knew someone so little could bring such utter joy, love, exhaustion and pure happiness into my life, but I truly believe his smile, hugs, kisses and beautiful nature helped to make me feel better than any hospital ever could.

So my New Years Resolution hasn’t managed to happen as yet, so instead of making promises I cannot keep, I will do my best to update as often as possible about the happenings in this city and share some of our adventures with you.

Here’s to not taking our health for granted and cherishing every day, and to the magical healing powers of super cute little people..

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Discovering the Talking Carl app.. and carrying him around so carefully

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The pool at the Hyatt Hotel is divine

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Hanging with his new friend, the gorgeous Stella

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Playing with new instruments from Toraja from kakek and nenek

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Riding a robot elephant in Depok at the mall

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Talking to a photo of bapak on my phone.

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Meeting with Ann (Enjoy It!) at TGI Friday Kemang

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Pizza at Urban Kitchen, Senayan City

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The waiters love Samudra at Java Benam, Pejaten Village

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Painting for the first time and loving it!

Kampung Kids

I have to admit I had a mini melt down at the beginning of the week. After two weeks of looking after Samudra on my own while Putra was away, in and out of taxis for hours every single day to go on play dates and have adventures together, I was wondering if we had made a bad decision to move to where we have as it feels quite isolating sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love our house, I love that we can go for walks in the streets and the complex is so big and peaceful and there are lots of little parks scattered around.. but the downside is that there seems to be no life in here! Our complex is filled with retired ex military people so all we see are groups of retirees on their super early morning walks, talking about ammunition and goodness knows what else.

It really doesn’t feel like being in Jakarta, they removed all the kaki lima’s selling street food and the Holland Bakery van that was parked near our house not long after we moved in, and with it went all the people that used to sit around on the streets and say hello as we walked past. Suddenly the streets were deserted. What I have always loved about Jakarta the most is watching life happening on the streets, the hustle and bustle, the friendly faces and watching people go about their daily chores. In our complex I would walk for over an hour and be lucky to see 2 people walking around. This means that I have a constant guilty feeling that I have moved Samudra to somewhere where he has no one to play with while we work, and I don’t want him locked inside all day long if we need a few hours to get things done. So we spend every spare moment we have jumping into taxis and visiting friends and running around, which is fun, but I would also like to be able to sit still for a minute too and be content in our surroundings.

So I finished my work and decided to take Samudra on a late afternoon stroll to visit the dogs in the complex as he loves feeding them biscuits and barking at them! Someone up above must have been listening to my ridiculous woes because next thing you know, loads of little kids appeared from nowhere and ran up to Samudra and started squeezing his cheeks and asking if they could play with him. Samudra was sooooo happy! They ran off to see the dogs together and then walked Samudra home wanting to hold his hands and asked if they could visit him the next day.

They have come to visit after school every afternoon since, and you cannot wipe the smile from Samudra’s face when they appear at the gate calling his name. All these kids live in the kampungs outside of our complex and are so incredibly sweet and loving towards Samudra, helping to put on his shoes, holding his hands, taking him across the road to the park and to see the monkey in the cage down the road. At last my heart can have some peace, knowing he is bursting with happiness to have some company here and that he will be looked after while I do what I need to do.

Thanks little ones for bring sunshine into Samudra’s days this week – you have been gorgeous little rays of sunshine bringing life to the complex!

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Samudra meets new little friends

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Instant happiness

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Running around like he’s King of the Kids

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Back for a visit again

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Helping Samudra put on his shoes so they can go exploring

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Hanging out on the streets

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Making loud noises of happiness with his new friends

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Our blackboard in the garage after the kids went home. So cute..

Jacob turns 1!

Every Friday a lovely group of Mum’s and babies meet around South Jakarta for playgroup, taking turns to host at different houses every week.  Unfortunately due to my schedule we have missed out on so many of these gatherings in the past couple of months.  It was so beautiful to finally be able to make it again and to see just how much all the kids are growing and changing, and are now able to play and entertain eachother.

Little Jacob was absolutely adorable and it appears that Samudra had a crush on his older sister Zoe, hugging her all morning and I even caught him kissing her on the baby couch when I was looking for him to leave!! Do they really start that young? Ha ha..

Happy Birthday Jacob, and congratulations to your family on making it through the year with happiness and laughter and so much love for you.

 

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Horse obsessed Samudra in his element

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So much cuteness!

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Iuna busy drawing

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Happy 1st Birthday Jacob!

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Jennifer making party noise

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Super big teddy gets some loving

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Cuddles for Zoe

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Zoe has an admirer

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We had to buy Samudra a horse after the party.. he hasn’t let it out of his sight since!

Iuna turns 2!

The best thing about living as an expat is not only do you get to immerse yourself in a new culture and lifestyle, but you also get to meet lovely people from all over the world living in the same circumstances as you.  The only downside is that living as an expat means that friendships are transient as people and families have to pick up and move on to wherever work or life decisions take them, and usually with very short notice.

Since having Samudra I have met a whole new set of lovely expat families and children here in Jakarta and try to get to playgroups as often as we can to catch up with everyone to give Samudra a chance to play with other kids, and me a chance to chat to other parents.  So it broke my heart to learn that the lovely Siti, Methi and their beautiful kids Mauk and Iuna will be leaving Jakarta in the next few months.  We have to make the most of the time that we have with people that are important to us and what better way to do so than at little Iuna’s 2nd Birthday! Samudra adores Iuna and Mauk and Mauk is like a big brother to Samudra, always looking out for him and making sure he is ok. This is one very special and super happy family and I feel blessed to have met them here in Jakarta.

Happy Beautiful beautiful Iuna! Thanks for being a gorgeous ray of sunshine always.

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Happy 2nd Birthday Iuna!

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I put my hand on the cake.. and now look!

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Iuna’s adorable brother and friends

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Enjoying cake with mum..

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Super cute little friends excited to be getting cake

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Love these two!

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Want some of the chocolate sign? yum..

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Samudra and Shiv having a play

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Mahi, peaceful in her own little world playing

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Watching the big kids playing in the pool outside

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3 month old Rean… what a smile!

Treen & Tri tie the knot!

OK.. so this technically didn’t happen ‘in’ Jakarta.. but it’s all thanks to Jakarta that December held an extra super special occasion for us… Treen and Tri got married – YIPPPPPEEEEEE!!

Who would have thought back when we started this blog in 2010, still struggling to find our way through this city and with the language barrier and hysterically funny daily interactions, that we would be here all these years later… with marriages and babies tying us to Indonesia forever!

I was so happy that Samudra and I were able to fly over to Melbourne for a super quick surprise visit to attend this awesome day as it was so lovely to see Treen so radiant and the two of them so happy together, and to see all our family too.

I wish Treen and Tri every happiness in the world in this new chapter of their togetherness and am so looking forward to expanding families here in Jakarta!

As always, Jakarta remains completely surprising so be careful what you wish for when you come here.. your dreams just may come true…

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In Mum’s garden before the wedding

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Mum and Nanna leading them down the garden isle

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Our big crazy family! (too big for the 50mm lens ha ha!)

 

The Circus of Dreams

Last year I was fortunate to learn about and attend the 7th Annual Community Circus of the Red Nose Foundation, or Yayasan Hidung Merah, which is a fantastic non-profit arts and education outreach organisation based in Jakarta. All the students of the foundation reside in the slum areas of Cilincing, North Jakarta, or Jurangmangu Timur, South Tangerang.

The foundation aims to raise the children’s confidence to follow their dreams and feel that anything is possible, by not only conducting free circus classes for them, but also assisting them with maths, science, reading and English studies.

As I have had an article published about the event in Indonesia Expat Magazine (indonesiaexpat.biz/issue 131), I thought I would share an interview with Isabella here, a volunteer from Italy, temporarily training and teaching with the circus.

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The lovely Isabella

1. How old are you and where in Italy do you come from?
I am 19 years old. I come from a small city near Venice called Padova.

2. Are you studying to perform/teach in Italy?
I actually now live in the United States. I perform and teach at a circus gym called MSA, which is where I also train. This past year I started training in more of the circus activities that are not main focus of training, which is acro (acrobatics). Now I am training in juggling, silks, and trapeze, as well as acro.

3. How did you first hear about the Hidung Merah group? What motivated you to travel to Jakarta to teach and perform with them?
I first heard about the Hidung Merah group when Whawhan was in Chicago last year for a month. He was training at my gym and with all the time we spent together either inside or outside of the gym, I got to know more about him and Hidung Merah. I saw short videos of Cilincing, one of the villages Hidung Merah, as well as some videos of Hidung Merah at its beginning. I travelled to Jakarta in November 2013, as a birthday gift, to visit Whawhan. While in Jakarta back in 2013, I spent a day in Cilincing and seeing the kids practicing and trying to communicate with me made me want to come back to help them. With this said, seeing the kids at work is what really motivated me to travel to Jakarta to teach and perform with them. They are a very talented group of kids that does not complain about messing up when they do. They keep working in order to make great acts for any shows they may have through out the year. Being involved with this way of working for even just a day is what really showed me that I, coming from a part of the world where there is a lot of complaining, should give back to a part of the world that is a bit different from where I live.

4. Why do you think it is so important to have this foundation in Indonesia?
I think it is so important to have this foundation in Indonesia because it helps the kids who are part of this organization to learn new activities. Not only does it help the kids learn new activities but it also helps them with school subjects like science, math, reading, and English. During classes they are involved in circus activities as well as science projects, and shows. At the same time, they have the opportunity to work on their English when there is a volunteer. At the same time, they have the chance to work with volunteers who come from other countries. When they perform, they inspire their communities, which is something that cannot be done if a foundation like this would not be around. It is always nice to see the smiles on everybody’s faces.

5. What is the most important lesson you have learnt by being a member of the group?
The most important lesson I have learned is to never give up because it is ok to mess up. You never get really good at something on the first try. I used to give up really easily but after spending 6 weeks here, I started being motivated to just keep practicing because that is what makes you get to being really good. This was an important lesson for me because I was used to giving up all the time without thinking about it. Now, I always think before giving up or complaining. I am thankful about this new lesson I have learned because it has turned me into a better person.

Keep your eyes out for events involving this foundation as they are great to watch, and better still, if you would like to donate towards the future of these children, you can find further information at http://rednosefoundation.org/

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Let the circus begin!

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Happiness while juggling

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The audience got a little distracted by my camera… eeek!

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The little ones spinning plates were adorable

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Jump for joy!

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Getting acrobatic… so much strength and flexibility

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Some cool tricks

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Group juggling

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Dan Roberts, Founder of Hidung Merah Circus

 

 

Zoe Turns 1!

This was a very special occasion that I couldn’t let slip by although it was quite some time ago now. As beautiful little Zoe was turning 1, her parents wanted to celebrate by giving back to those less fortunate, as Zoe has been blessed with good health and love since the day she arrived into the world. What better way to celebrate than to share her day with orphans at Panti Asuhan Tunas Bangsa in Cipayung.

I have only ever visited Lestari Sayang Anak Orphanage in Cipete since being in Jakarta, and this was a completely different experience for me. Instead of a small building with a family atmosphere, this orphanage was quite big and over several levels and there were so many children running around everywhere. Little Samudra was a little overwhelmed with all the noise of children on a sugar high blowing party horns and running around, trying to pick him up and push him around. There was a cake and treats for the children and also a meal of rice and soup for them too.

Thanks to the generosity of all those that donated for Zoe’s birthday, her gorgeous parents bought so many goods that were needed at the orphanage for all the kids and there were also donations of clothes and toys.

I was so happy that we were able to attend and my heart completely melted then broke watching all the little babies in a room which we were not allowed to enter, only view from the windows. I watched as they cried and the carers came and turned them over and put them down again and I just wanted to hug them all so they know they are loved. Of course all of the mum’s standing at the window walked away in tears. I can only hope they find someone to love them and take them home soon.

Thanks to Cara and Eli for giving your little girl such a selfless and happy birthday gift.

If anyone can help or is able to go and visit the children you should do it! Give a cuddle or anything you can, I’m sure it all makes a huge difference to all those beautiful little ones living there.

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The Birthday Girl

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Oi Samudra… birthday cuddle or what?

One of the beautiful orphans

One of the beautiful orphans

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You cannot imagine the noise blowing on so many of these at once makes!

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Samudra was a little overwhelmed by all the kids and chaos

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A generously donated Duckie Birthday Cake from Pretty Special Cakes

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Beautiful family

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So many kids, so much craziness..

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Happy Birthday to YOU!

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Happy Birthday in Indonesian

They just look so unsure.. but so cute in matching pink

They just look so unsure.. but so cute in matching pink

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Shy little girl at the orphanage

Last Yummy Mummy Play Date for 2014

I want to say a HUGE thank you to the lovely mum’s and babes in this group who helped to make 2014 so special for us… especially to Sarah for hosting at her house every week (so many toys! every kids dream…). Although we had to miss many of the Monday morning catch-up’s, those we could attend were always fun and it was lovely to start the week with so many smiling happy faces (and sometimes tears), singing, morning tea, playing, and mummy chats.

We look forward to making lots more memories in 2015 and to welcoming new friends along the way to sing and laugh with.

Thanks Yummy Mummy’s and your beautiful bubba’s. xox

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In a taxi on our long ride to play..

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Is there something on your head Carlton?

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Oh.. hahaha!

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Gorgeous Milady

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Welcome to the group Smiley Riley!

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Leighton being entertaining

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Riley and his lovely mum Greta

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Looking forward to more fun together