We were delighted to be invited to celebrate Lalita’s fifth birthday in a Currumbin Beach park today. Sudevi and Venu have invited many friends and family, and I’m thankful to be included in their number.

We got to the park early to find a parking spot that was easily accessible from the park. I was also able to help with some of the set-up and by providing extra seating, tent-pegs and balloons.

Lalita Howard-Clarke, November 2012
Lalita is five today, and she's happy to be celebrating her birthday with all her friends.

Brioni gives Lali a birthday present, November 2012
Brioni has wrapped a little present for Lali and is so excited to offer it to her.

Delaney in a pink play-tent, November 2012
Two pink play-tents are set up and the kids play in and out of them.

Lalita's fifth birthday cake, November 2012
Sudevi is amazingly creative in the kitchen and has fashioned a vegan cake using natural ingredients (like beetroot juice for the icing colour)!

Pass the parcel, November 2012
Our girls are happy to join in the party games — pass the parcel is a favourite!

Dell with two toy dinosaurs, November 2012
I'm just as pleased as Delaney when she unwraps two small dinosaurs. She has a particular interest in dinosaurs at the moment.

Cali at a birthday party in the park, November 2012
Even though Calista is watching the game from the security of my lap, she doesn't miss out on her own special prize — a paper lantern.

Treasure hunt at a birthday party in the park, November 2012
The next game sends everyone on a treasure hunt around the park. Each clue is a simple set of words and an illustration, making it suitable for a range of ages.

Party in the park, November 2012
When more party treats are handed out, our girls are frustrated by their inability to "Blerb!" on their blowers. Thankfully, there are enough on hand for me to test several to find ones that are easy to blow.

Lalita's fifth birthday, November 2012
Just before the singing and the cake is cut, the birthday girl melts down and doesn't want any part of the festivities any more.

Lalita recovered, we all enjoyed some of the cake, and then the kids spent the rest of the afternoon running off their sugar highs. Calista and Lalita shared a special connection, entering the same imaginary worlds, and as I watched them play together I made a mental note to return here so Cali and Lali’s friendship can grow.

We haven’t had much time with Sudevi and Venu, but it’ll be interesting to witness their lives from afar. They have decisions to make about work and life and schooling, and I know they’re considering these things consciously. When we get back to southeast Queensland, you’ll be our first stop, Sudevi, and I look forward to hearing about your decisions then!