GA Script

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Matron of Honor Speech for #Sungladys

Hi, everyone. 

My name is Careen, the Matron of Honor, and I’ve known the bride for many, many years- 25 years to be precise. That’s right, I’m the sister of the bride.

To keep this speech short and sweet, I shall share with you some fun facts about Gladys.

You know how they say choosing the right names for your children is an important task, because it acts as a prophecy over who they will become. After wanting a 'caring' child, my parents wanted a 'glad' child. So they named her, Gladys. She is indeed a fulfillment of the prophecy.

Since she was a baby, Gladys was already glad and happy all the time. She was what the Chinese would call, a ๅผ€ๅฟƒๆžœ (a happy fruit). Gladys was always the entertainer of the family. She loves making us laugh, and would break into spontaneous, ridiculous dance moves just to make people happy. Apart from loving to make people laugh, she also loves to laugh. For those of you who know her, you’d know you can hear her signature laughter from miles away. She’s always been, and still is, a happy and carefree person who isn’t afraid of being silly.

Being only two years apart, Gladys and I, we’re the best of friends. She was my partner in crime in everything, though I must add that our characters and personalities are very, very different.

Each time we played together, I’d play Barbie, and she’d play Ken. 

I’d play the Mother, she’d play the Father. 
I’d play the Sister, she’d play the Brother. Sometimes the Maid. 
I’d play the Princess, she’d play the Prince. 
I’d wear mini skirts, and she, the baggy pants. 
I’d daydream to Westlife, she’d rock out to Linkin Park. 
I’m mainstream, and she’s the hipster.

Growing up, we had always wondered who Gladys will marry, and what she would wear on her wedding day. I remember her confidently claiming that she will not wear a typical white gown to walk down the aisle, instead, she would dress in a black gown, or maybe black pants on her wedding day. Well mei, I’m glad that for once, you are mainstream.

On whom she’ll marry- with her love for rappers like Mike Shinoda, we had always speculated that she might just one day marry a black rapper.

Well, pretty close.

Sung ain’t black but he sure is a rapper
Ain’t no one could better match her
Their love story is for envy cos they grew up together
From Dubcube to SS, serving God in any weather
They started off just friends but he started to like her
She came home one day and said “Jie, I think I've found a lover”
She was already glad, but Sung made her gladder
A Godly relationship, they made each other better
After three years of dating, Sung asked my father and mother
If he could now take care of their precious daughter
He went down on one knee, in front of the twin towers
She said yes, and thus begins, a happy ever after.


Mei, look at how you’ve blossomed. From playing Ken and Father and Brother, you are now someone’s wife, dressed in a typical, mainstream wedding gown. Today, YOU are the princess, marrying your knight in shiny Under Armour. And I’m very happy for you, because I know you are in good, strong hands.

Sung, more than being someone who is full of fun and humor, you have shown yourself to be one with wisdom and maturity, someone any sister would trust her sister with. From our POS cheerleading days until today, I have seen you grow both in character and in muscle mass, and I just want you to know that I am very proud to now call you my first brother in-law. Thank you for loving my sister and our family. We welcome you into our family with open arms.

Sung and Gladys, after you’re done honeymooning all over the world, please remember that Tyler needs his cousins. Til’ then, enjoy the journey.

Cheers to Sung and Gladys.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Sharing my Matron of Honor speech here as requested by the bride.

My sister, Gladys just tied the knot two days ago and I'm still living in disbelief. It feels so surreal that my little sister is now someone's wife :')




Biggest congratulations to my dear sister, Gladys and my new brother in-law, Sung. I'm just so happy for you both. Looking forward to spending a lifetime of family meals and holidays together :)

Love you both.

(Follow their wedding journey at Gladys' blog, and hashtag #sungladys)




love, Careen.
This post is filed under Personal, Family, MarriageLove & Relationships

Friday, November 25, 2016

Living with an Infant- PLAY with IKEA

It's been 3 months, and I'm now back with another collaboration post with IKEA! You can read about our home furnishing journey with IKEA here and here. It's amazing to be able to read back at those two posts and see how Tyler has grown significantly over the months. In just 2 weeks, he'll be turning one and I still can't accept that! My baby is turning one!! ๐Ÿ˜ญ

This time, instead of sharing about home furnishing for infants, I'll be talking about PLAY! I'm a huge believer that babies, as young as they are, know how to learn through their surroundings. They see, touch and feel everything around them, and are always absorbing like a sponge. 

Quoting an article I read by National Geographic, "At birth the brain has nearly a hundred billion neurons, as many as in adulthood. As the baby grows, receiving a flood of sensory input, neurons get wired to other neurons, resulting in some hundred trillion connections by age three."

I also read somewhere before that babies are born with hundred billions of neurons in the brain, but if they're left unstimulated or "unused", they'll just gradually die as they age. Hahaha that's a layman interpretation by me ๐Ÿ˜… So it is very vital that from birth, we help our babies develop their minds- and one of the best ways to do it is through PLAY.

Quoting one of my favourite websites- Babycentre.com: "Play is crucial for your child's social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth. It's your child's way of learning about his body and the world, and he'll use all five senses to do it, especially in the first year." And I cannot agree more. Boon and I have seen how Tyler learns and grows through playing, and by playing, it can mean with anything and everything! Especially if they are something new to him, such as...


Straws ๐Ÿ˜…
Yay to cheap thrills! Hahaha


Toy basket ๐Ÿ˜…
To be one with his toys ๐Ÿ˜‚


Balloons ๐ŸŽˆ
One of his absolute favourites since he was like, 2 months old!


Water ๐Ÿ’ฆ
Loving bath time since birth! Now he'll slap the water and make us soaking wet when we bathe him ๐Ÿ˜‘

And so much more! Literally anything and everything can serve as a toy and keep him quiet for a while. Some of his favourite things are remote controls, our phones, labels of clothes/pillows/anything, grass, etc..

Having said that, we recognise the fact that nothing beats toys that are well-thought and designed to aid children's learning. Sure, remote controls could be fun to play with since they're considered "forbidden", but besides pressing some buttons and putting them into his mouth, there's nothing much he can do with it.

But for toys that are specially designed for specific age groups, child experts and psychologists spend hours building and designing toys that can truly stimulate the mind. They can be found in various toy stores everywhere, including IKEA!

We used to just walk pass the kids toys area when Tyler was just a few months old, thinking it'd be a long, long way more til he actually knows how to play with toys. Well, look at us now. We're talking about play time with toys! Time surely flies ๐Ÿ˜ญ Now we're joining other enthusiastic parents studying and picking out the best toys for our babies.

With that in mind, Boon and I decided to create a toy area for Tyler where it's safe for him to crawl and roll around, and where all his toys can be in one place! That calls for a trusty playpen!


Always excited whenever he enters his playpen. Whenever we reach home, I'll carry Tyler close to his playpen and ask him if he wants to go in to play. Without a doubt he would propel himself forward and crawl excitedly to his toys. What a sight ๐Ÿ˜


Happy boy taking a break from playing to take a peek at mama and papa getting ready to head out ๐Ÿ™‚

Let me share with you some of Tyler's favourite toys from IKEA!







Firstly, it's his BUSA Play Tunnel (RM49.90)!

Initially, Boon and I were a little hesitant about getting this because we felt he might not know how to play with it yet. And it's a bit hard to "teach" Tyler to go into the tunnel cos he doesn't really understand or take instructions very well yet. But we wanted to just get it cos we know he'll enjoy this play tunnel sooner or later, and so we did. We placed it in the playpen to let him familiarise himself with it, thinking it might take him a few days to be accustomed to it and figure out how to go in and out.

WHO KNEW?

I was posting something on my phone when Boon walked out of the kitchen exclaiming, "Dear, where is Tyler???" I immediately got a shock and stood up from the couch, both of us frantically searching for Tyler in the playpen and thinking how he could have escaped. Then, we saw the play tunnel moving and this face peeped out of it...


Like this ๐Ÿ˜ฑ
I heaved a hugeeeee sigh of relief and quickly whipped out my phone to take pics of him. Hahahah gave us a heart attack!

So he proved us both wrong. He did NOT need a few days to get accustomed to it, and he did NOT need anyone to teach him how to play. Children just have this natural instinct to play and figure out how things work! Felt silly for underestimating him! ๐Ÿ˜Œ





Every parent would recognise the MULA Bead Roller Coaster (RM39.90) because it is one of the most popular toys from IKEA!

Here's another toy that we thought might be too early for Tyler to know how to play with since it's recommended for kids aged 18 months and above, and Tyler was only 11 months at that time.

Little did we know he would be so curious with it, and could figure out how to play with it after a few minutes of fidgeting around with it. We underestimated him again! ๐Ÿ˜… 


Of course, not all toys are simple enough to be figured out by an 11-month old. The MULA Shape Sorter (RM19.90) requires parents' guidance in showing them how it's supposed to be played with. Else he would be playing with it like this:


"Yay new toys!" ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ‘


"Oh what is that green thing over there?" ๐Ÿค”


"Is it a mask?" ๐Ÿค”


"Or is it a hat?" ๐Ÿค”


"I know! It's an inverted roof! Nailed it!" ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ™Œ

It's quite funny to see him play with it in his own creative ways! But of course to fully realise the toy's potential (lol), we gotta teach him how to play with it properly.




Had to show him by leading him with his hands to insert the right shapes into the right molds. After several tries, he knew that the shapes were supposed to be inserted into the little wooden house.



Well, he still doesn't nail it every single time, but great job my love! At least he know how to play with it now! ๐Ÿ˜€


Well, it's not all #SuccessStories. I tried teaching Tyler to stack the MULA Stacking Rings (RM29.90) together, but all he wanted to do was...



Take out the top and throw away ๐Ÿ˜…



Then we introduced the LILLABO Toy Vehicles (RM29.90) to him, which interested him a lot cos they have wheels and they look complicated enough to make him stay curious ๐Ÿ˜‚



Last but not the least, the MULA Building Beakers (RM6.90)
Which he only wanted to demolish! ๐Ÿ˜‚

From this experience, we learned which types of toys interested him, and which doesn't (yet). And we also learned that we shouldn't underestimate our children's ability to learn on their own. We don't have to guide them in everything. If the toys are educational by design, our kids will eventually figure out how to play with them, or at least, in their own creative ways ๐Ÿ˜…

So I guess this marks the start of a house full of toys! Which is something Boon and I have been waiting for cos we understand how play is so, very important for a fun and healthy childhood. We had plenty of different types of toys to play with growing up, and we want the same happy childhood that we had for Tyler as well.

Having said that, not every child is fortunate enough to be given toys to play with. There are millions and millions of children trying to survive every day in poverty stricken and war torn countries, who have not played with a single toy in their lives. As a parent, I now feel even more strongly for the less fortunate children, and I'm very proud to share that IKEA is making an initiative to give these children a chance to PLAY.


IKEA's latest campaign- LET'S PLAY FOR CHANGE will be running from 20 November - 24 December 2016, where every children's book and toy sold within this period of time, the IKEA Foundation will donate RM4.60 (One Euro equivalent) supporting children's play and development, because play is a basic need, and every child has a right to it under the UN conventions on the Right of the child.

The IKEA Foundation has partnered with some of the most prominent NGOs on this topic: Handicap International, Room to Read, Save the Children, Special Olympics, UNICEF, and War Child. The partner programs funded by the campaign will focus on creating safe spaces for vulnerable children to play and develop. You can find out more at www.ikeafoundation.org.

You can also participate in the Give Twice initiative, where you can donate newly purchased children products at IKEA's Give Twice box located after the Check-Outs. Donations will go to Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia. For more info on Give Twice, click HERE!


I love it when brands think outside of business and use their voices to bless the less fortunate. With this little gesture of simply purchasing books/toys, you can potentially change the lives of children who do not have the luxury of playing with toys.

The Christmas season is just around the corner, so it is the perfect time to buy these books/toys as gifts to bless someone's children, and at the same time, bless the children who will be beaming at the sight of toys for them to play with.

Spread the word, and let's get shopping for a good cause! :)

Till the next update!
xx


love, Careen.
This post is filed under AdvertorialLifestyleFamily.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Note to Newlyweds-To-Be


My sister, Gladys is getting married and her wedding is in less than a month away! Ever since the day of her proposal close to a year ago, we've been chatting on the topic of wedding and marriage almost each time we get together, which is my favourite topic of all time!

A wedding is a beautiful occasion. It is once in a lifetime, a day you will reference to 10, 30, 60 years down the road as "the best day of our lives". So it is a day that you want to go well, with as little regrets as possible. As someone who's married, having attended many weddings over the years, and helped plan and coordinate a few, here are some things that I've learned and observed that I shared with my sister, which I feel might be good to share here with other newlyweds-to-be too.


1. Appreciate every single person


"Nobody owes you a wedding"


Nobody. Absolutely nobody. 

I've heard countless accounts of how brides get angry when their friends aren't able to attend their destination wedding, without taking into consideration that maybe their friends simply cannot afford it, how brides become resentful at friends who couldn't be there to help for wedding setup because their mother is in the hospital, and so many more.

Nobody owes you a favour, nobody owes you help, nobody owes you with their attendance, nobody. Everyone who turns up at your wedding, offer favours and volunteer to help is simply because they love you and want to help make your wedding a special day for you. These people take their precious time off their schedules, spend money to dress and doll up, travel all the way just for that few hours of your special day. And they should be appreciated.

Especially those who help you on your wedding day voluntarily- your bridal party, your friends who sing or emcee on your wedding, friends who help with decor and desserts, friends who help to drive your friends and family from one location to another, friends who help bake that cake, friends who help to take the photos, friends who help to coordinate the wedding. For everyone who helps on your wedding day without getting officially paid (like how you would pay for official wedding photographers), you gotta appreciate their help. And no, not just with a sincere thank you, but with a token of appreciation. This should always be budgeted into your wedding planning from the very beginning.

In the Chinese culture, we give angpow (red packets/love gifts) that serve as small tokens of appreciation to all who help with the wedding. An angpow of RM100-150 (just an estimated amount) to a bridesmaid does not justify the amount of time, money and hard work they put into helping your prepare for your big day, but it's a nice gesture to show that "Hey, this little token is to show that I remember all that you've done to help us with this day, and I truly thank you."

Different cultures and different individuals show their appreciation in different ways. Some buy gifts for their bridal party, some treat them to a nice post-wedding meal, it's entirely up to the couple. But just make sure that at the end of the day, the people helping you feel happy and appreciated by the both of you. And it is your responsibility to make them feel that way.


2. Pay, or lower your expectations

This is the brutal truth: If you're planning your wedding on a limited budget, keep your wedding simple, bridal party small, and expectations low.

Many brides expect to have a dream Pinterest-inspired wedding with lots of fresh flowers, scrumptious spread for the dessert table, cute memory tables and photo corners, but they don't have the budget for it. It's not wrong to have a small budget, but it is not right when you have a small budget but still expect your decor team (which is most of the time the bridal party) to put up a dream Pinterest-inspired wedding for you when it is near impossible.

I've seen how bridal parties struggle to get decor with such limited budget given, that they spend sleepless nights trying to DIY every single decor leading up to the big day, slaving away to make everything by hand. Some even delegate roles to the decor team to buy things but scrutinise every little detail, ask them to drive far and wide just to hunt for that item on discount, and get approval for every little thing before they can actually purchase them.

If you know you're a bridezilla, pay someone professional to do it, or do it yourself. Your bridal party is not meant to slave for you, but to journey with you in this celebration. Yes, they're there to offer help, but don't work them to the ground. 

Remember, nobody owes you a wedding, what more a Pinterest-inspired wedding!

Now, on to keeping the bridal party small. Why, you may wonder?

It is because for every single bridesmaid and groomsman in your bridal party, you'll need to consider buying or subsidising their dresses and suits, and give them a token of appreciation (angpow or gifts) at the end of the day.

Say, the budget for each bridesmaid dress is RM100 (which is pretty minimal). If you have 10 bridesmaids, you'll need RM1,000 just for bridesmaid dresses. And you still have to take into consideration their bridesmaid bouquets/flower crowns, shoes (if you want everything to be standardised), angpows/gifts, etc. So approximately RM300/bridesmaid all in (including dresses, flowers, angpow), which amounts to RM3,000 just for bridesmaids.

For groomsmen, it's even more expensive to get nice suits and vests, especially in unique colours to match the wedding theme. Most groomsmen wear their own black suits, but for those who don't already own one, they need to purchase one, which doesn't come cheap. On top of that, they need matching ties/bow ties and corsages. Say the budget for each groomsman including outfit subsidy, corsages, ties and angpow is RM300 as well, that's another RM3,000.

So, RM6,000 for the a bridal party of 20 pax, compared to a bridal party of 6 (3x bridesmaid and 3x groomsmen), at RM1,800.

So if you're on a budget, i't's either you achieve your dream wedding theme and keep bridal party small, or have a big bridal party but keep your expectations low. Every additional bridesmaid/groomsman is added joy and fun, but that also means extra budget needed. So take this into consideration when planning for the size of your bridal party.




3. Don't sweat the small stuff

I always advice couples to plan all they can prior to the wedding, but when it comes to the actual day, forget everything and just enjoy themselves. When I say forget everything, I mean forget how the dessert table was supposed to be arranged, how many photo frames were supposed to be displayed, the exact number of roses that are supposed on your bridesmaid bouquet, etc. Because there WILL be something that goes wrong on your wedding day. Why so pessimistic, Careen? Well, I've not seen a perfect wedding that ran smoothly with zero technical glitches, human errors, and hiccups before. Not even the most high budget and lavish of weddings. What can go wrong, will go wrong, remember?

I've seen how a bride is perpetually frowning and distracted throughout her wedding, that when the pastor was speaking at the front and even while praying for the couple on stage, the bride was frowning and signalling something to her maid of honour in frustration. Ahhhh that was an unpleasant sight to witness. Don't forget that your guests are watching! That's their role anyway. To watch and witness your big day! So if you want your guests to enjoy the wedding and remember only the pleasant things, don't display your frustration for all to see. Keep it together, breathe and enjoy the day.

There were lots of things that went wrong on our wedding day. Some we were aware of, some we were kept from by the bridal party. So to us, we had a really beautiful wedding because we were not burdened with the small, petty details. Our bridal party was great in handling all the hiccups for us that we didn't even realise they happened. Which was awesome because even if we knew about them, what could we have done to make the situation better? Nothing.

So do let your wedding planner/coordinator, family and bridal party know not to come to you with every little problem (unless they're too big to be ignored). Otherwise, just give your trusted maid of honor/best man the liberty to handle, make decisions on your behalf. If you're entrusting these decisions to the right person, you won't have to worry. This is when selecting the right maid of honor/best man and bridal party is VERY important. They're not just meant to make your wedding fun and pretty, but also to help you manage situations and solve problems.

On your wedding day, just be blur, act dumb and don't be overly observant. Don't take special note of the small, petty details. Just breathe, smile and enjoy your day.




4. Be in the moment

I know this sounds cliche, but your wedding is when you really want to fully experience everything, because it happens only once in your life. Be in the moment, be present. Take a good look at your bride or groom, hold each other's hands tight, look your guests in the eyes and thank them for celebrating with you, give your parents a good, tight hug that they so deserve, breathe, smile till your face turns numb, laugh your heart out, enjoy being in that beautiful gown or tailored suit, feel every moment.

Many couples get overwhelmed by the constant attention they're receiving from hundreds of guests (which doesn't happen everyday) that they become awkward and tense the whole day. It's okay to be nervous, but remind each other to relax and have fun! 

One of the things that a lot of couples unknowingly do is to totally ignore what happens on stage during the wedding reception. You may feel awkward, nervous or even upset at certain things that went wrong, but don't forget about those who are giving you a speech or a song performance on stage. They have taken time and effort to prepare for that few minutes just for you, and to have you ignore them is hurtful. So be sure to give your fullest attention to what happens on stage, and enjoy yourself.

Put your phone aside. Don't be occupied with updating your Snapchat or Instagram Stories all the time. You hired professional photographers and videographers for a reason! No rush in positing photos on Facebook or Instagram either.

Remember, the world can wait, but your wedding will be over before you know it.
So enjoy each other, and enjoy the wedding.




5. The secret to a beautiful wedding?

You know how some weddings are just so beautiful and full of life, that when you leave the reception you can't help but to feel the contagious joy bubbling inside of you? And how some weddings are just so beautiful, even if they're just very simple weddings?

The secret is in the couple.

Yes, that's you! You're the secret to your beautiful wedding. A guest can tell a beautiful wedding when they attend one. It's more than just the beautiful fresh flowers or meaningful photos displayed at the foyer, more than the gorgeous dress you're wearing or breathtaking pre-wedding photos on the slideshow.

It is how you are enjoying your wedding. Your smiles, how you look into each other's eyes, how sincere you both are when you recite your wedding vows, how you give heartfelt speeches to your parents, bridal party, and your new spouse, how you laugh, how to have fun, how you enjoy your guests' company, how you're so happy. These feelings are highly contagious and can be easily felt by your guests.

So you want a beautiful wedding? It's simple, just enjoy your big day :)

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If you're reading this and you're on your way in planning your wedding, congrats and remember to smile and have fun! And if you're already married or still single, pass this on to newlyweds-to-be that you know!

Hope this post has helped in one way or another.  Will update another note to wedding guests soon ;)
Til' then! x


Follow Gladys' wedding preparation journey on her blog: 
www.gladystan.com/sungladys



love, Careen.
This post is filed under PersonalThoughts, Love & Relationships

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