Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Amazing Weeks

We have just finished a very successful Grandparents visit.....our very first visitors to our new world and we have all had an incredible time

His parents came from Brisbane and despite health issues, they were able to have a fantastic time and be a part of our life here in Jakarta.

They arrived on a FRIDAY night - now I've highlighted that because everyone who knows Jakarta knows that Friday night is THE worst night of traffic. The kids went straight from a swimming mini meet at school to the airport. Our staff were totally organised though - had roast chicken dinner prepared for the trip so that they would still get food at the right time (and have enough energy for football the next morning). After the olds got through the Visa, Immigration, Luggage and Customs treadmill, they were out at 7:30 and treated to the biggest hugs and kisses that the airport may have ever witnessed. It only took us 2 hours to get home in bumper to bumper traffic, but although it was midnight where they had come from, they were wide eyed and buzzed by the "fascinating" car trip home.

Sat morning they were superstars - leaving home at 7 for the first football match of the weekend. We were home by 10 and then stayed in for the rest of Saturday (see we are compassionate at times). On sunday morning we were out by 6 to take part in a 5km run and a 2.5km fun run (which we didn't make them participate in). After that we went and watch Bear's team in a crucial football match (which they thankfully won).

Took them to some big malls that afternoon (had to drop something off in town so took the opportunity). Plus - they wanted to go to our local computer/electric train store. The shopping bug was warming up.

Monday they recovered while we went to work/school. On Tuesday it was a public holiday, so we took them to Taman Mini. Very interesting, very nicely done, but a few too many steps for someone with artificial hips.

On Wednesday I took them to school to show them the wonders of a totally resourced school. Impressed would be an understatement. Plus, after showing the kids report cards, they know that our kids are making the absolute most of all of the opportunities they have been given ("excellent" attitudes in all areas). Physically huge school but small school friendly - we love it.

Wednesday afternoon we took Bear to the final of his football league. A 4-4 draw after being 2 down twice. Fantastic effort - really exciting game. The next day he went to his first ever school camp - very cute - especially as he insisted I stayed until I could give him a kiss while he was on the bus (guessing it was just in case he changed his mind about going). He was fired up to go.

On friday night we had J's 40th birthday party with lots of our Jakarta friends. It was lovely to have a party for J and he was very happy to have his Mum there with him. I was lucky to have been clever enough to alternate between champagne and mineral water. Tiredness only hit me when we were up at 6am to head to school for 2 games of football at 8am (and since I am the coach of one team that means I need to yell loudly - so the less my head hurts the better). After the games, we had a swimming carnival until 1 with C girl, followed by another football match at 2:30. They needed to win to come third in the league, unfortunately they were coming a draw until the last 5 minutes, when the other team got 2 more goals. They were temporarily crushed.

That night we went to a quiz night at our favorite expat club. We always have a great night there as it is very friendly, plus we got the pleasure of taking the Olds and a couple who have been our friends for years but have never been there. We came third - not bad out of 12 teams (and missed first spot by only 3 points (we got 137). On Sunday we did not leave the house, the first treat was a massage, which the Olds don't remember ever having in the last 30 years and then the kids made an upmarket resturant in the dining room and served us homemade pizza for lunch (made the previous day by our cook). Does life get any better than this??

Mon we let the olds recover while we were at work/school, they explored the neighbourhood and took photos of the many interesting things within walking distance of home. On Tuesday I took J's Mum to have a pampering morning/lunch (A special fundraising event for the expat club we are in). She had her first manicure in 20 years and had a face massage and pedicure (with champagne and strawberries of course). She met another expat Mum (Grandma) at lunch and they then planned a Museum tour the next day. Making friends in this environment is easy.

On Tuesday night I went to another 40th birthday party - girls only. It was themed "naughty uniforms" and everyone came in something short or skimpy. I went as a footballer as I had that uniform already (thanks to C girl). Plus - very not girly, which suits me. After initial drinks at her house, they had "metro Mini's" as the "luxury transport" - which are very dodgy, no airconditioning, dirty, buses, with doors that don't shut - but hilarious as only 1 person on the 2 buses had ever been on one before. After starting at her house, we went onto 4 places (although I only survived 2). All very fun and although it sounds dreadfully silly, it was actually a really clever idea as expat women in this country spend very little time feeling good about themselves (as the ladies here seem so much more exotic than us). Was planning on leaving at 9, but let's just say - I failed big time.....but the kids did not miss their bus in the morning.

On Wed the olds went to the National Museum and then factory outlet shopping (I had taken them the previous week and they wanted to go back again for some more bargains) - the bug had well and truly hit them. Gucci shoes, Burberry shirts, the list goes on and on....

On Thu we took the two little ones (C girl had a project to finish) and went to Taman Safari. Again - we have never been. What a fantastic surprise it turned out to be. You drive around in your car, feeding zebras, lamas and deer. The buffulo, monkeys, lions and tigers are also wandering on and off the road (different areas, but we didn't open our windows in these areas), plus there are elephants, giraffe, hippos, pumas, bears, rhinos etc - all in the most beautiful rainforest on the side of a mountain. It was breathtaking (I will put up photos when I have the chance). I wouldn't go on the weekend (when it's bumper to bumper) - but mid week - I will be taking all of our visitors there from now on (because the drought is broken and they are all going to be visiting now - right?). Munch sat on my knee, Bear sat between his Grandparents, feeding the animals with carrots. Our driver looked liked he had never had more fun in his life.

On friday we had a quite day, they only left the house to look at lights and they bought a beautiful red / clear star light as a gift for us in memory of their visit.

On Sat we had only 1 football match in the morning at 8, followed by a 2 hour football clinic with PJ ?. An Australian professional footballer who works for ESPN in Singapore. The kids and I spent 2 hours with him, I don't think I've laughed that hard on a football pitch before (it was fun - I wasn't laughing from sarcasm). Really great clinic. Took the Olds to another factory outlet on the way home (told you they had the bug). Recovery time - 1 hour, before heading out to Cibubur for J to play AFL against Singapore (hows that for confusing football talk, soccer and Aussie rules in one day).
Unfortunately - he landed badly in the first quarter. Hurt his wrist. Came off, got it strapped, went back on, played the rest of the game. Got home at 7, the Olds and the kids were near exhaustion at this time. They stayed home, we went to a massive 60th birthday party/coaches party. It was huge. Sit down meal, live band, great entertainment (magician), very touching speeches, hosted by the most lovely family (5 sons from all over the world) and home at 3 - not the last to leave. Starting to believe that 60 is not so old after all.
More massages followed the next morning, a quick trip to another factory outlet for last minute purchases while J went to SOS and discovered he had broken his wrist in 2 places (and had not taken anything for it other than alcohol). Another resturant meal at home (the kids made it this time), followed by drinks at our neighbours for the last 4 hours of the Old's visit to Jakarta. A lovely afternoon was had as they chatted (many things in common with J's Dad as they are from the same part of the UK) and the kids played together brilliantly (as they always do with their neighbours (we are so lucky in this respect).
A final tearful farewell on the front lawn and we saw them off (they didn't want us to have a 3 hour turnaround to the airport - yes, we are grateful and no - we did not argue with them).
I thinking it will take them a few weeks to recover from their visit. But they are great sports - they took every opportunity to see the kids and us.
We are off to Perth this week for Asian Allstars Swimming competition this weekend. We will have family and friends there at the same time .......People to see, places to go............. life is anything but dull.
Jakarta really does rock
(Please note, the last 2 weeks don't accurately portray life here - it's big even for us).

Monday, 22 March 2010

Football and Visitors

Our guest of honour have been with us for just over a week now and have just changed their flight so they can stay with us for an extra weekend. Their beloved son is away all week, so it makes sense to stay until after the weekend (no - that wasn't sarcasm - it's nice to see that the love you have for your kids doesn't go away at a certain age).
Kids and Grandparents are very happy. There have been lots of gymnastic shows and dancing acts after dinner. Grandma is very happy to not have to cook or clean and be able to just relax (not sure she has ever had the opportunity to do that before - given they had 6 kids) and they have been dragged to school, swimming carnivals, quiz nights, Taman Mini and shopping malls.
We had a 40th birthday party on Friday night for J and I know that they were thrilled to be there and were very happy to meet our friends. They worked the room and didn't go to bed until 1am - given that they are not very well, that was a huge effort on their behalf - especially when they were getting up and leaving home at 7am for yet another football match (we didn't make them, but they hadn't seen Munch play - so they wanted to).

Although we haven't left Jakarta yet for a look see with our special guests, they have been to 5 football matches - including the final for Bear's team. It was a draw (4-4), which - given that the last time they had met they were a draw and both teams were undefeated - they let it stand and both teams win the league. Which is a pretty great outcome - especially as it is school vs school and U8. Both teams will play each other in the final for the Greenfields (knockout league) in April - that will be interesting as their has to be only one winner.
I will be taking my MIL tomorrow for a pampering day - if you know me you will know that this isnt' actually something I do - I hate manicure/pedicure/cream bath stuff - sitting there and having people touch you and you have to sit still - yuk. But it's a fundraiser, is with a bunch of other ladies and includes lunch at a great Italian resturant - plus - given her delight yesterday after having a massage, I think she is going to LOVE it.
A visit to the Museum later in the week and they will finally be going out of town on Fri/Sat to see Bogor Botanical gardens and watch J play football in a lovely leafy, park (where the kids will ride bikes and run amok as all kids should).
It has been so great to finally get to show them what we have been talking about all these years (and now at least they know we aren't mad for loving it here).