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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Highlights of 2017

Hello everyone! It's been a while, hasn't it!

Tyler's asleep earlier than usual today, so this mama can take some time out to pen this post! Been so crazily swamped these days. I know I always say this but it's just getting crazier and crazier, especially with a growing toddler and growing business on hand! 

Anyways, not here to talk about that but to write my (almost) annual Highlights post! I used to be quite diligent and disciplined about keeping a reflection post every year, but I tried googling back and found that a few years were missing here and there! Hahahaha must have been too busy with year-end happenings.

You can read my previous Highlights here: Year 2010, Year 2012, Year 2014, Year 2015. Wow looks like I took breaks in between each year huh hahaha! 2015 I was hardworking cos Tyler was born that year, so must blog about it! 😂

I used to have longgggggg list of Highlights in my reflection posts, simply cos prior to baby, I had a lot (I feel like I must caps this- A LOT) more time in my hands. Hence I could get a lot (A LOT) more done within a year.

This year has been another significant year for me, that I really, really must commemorate and pen down lest I forget my sentiments about what has happened this year- this amazing 2017.

Okay, let's start!

1. Tyler learned how to walk (and etc).

I still can't believe that he learned how to walk just a couple of months back (during CNY in Feb 2017!). It feels like he's been walking, and running and jumping and being all monkey for a long time already. Who knew it's only been 11 months, just this year that he started it all!

Look at that silly wide smile on my face hahaha so unflattering. But I'm super glad that this video was captured 😭

It was such a precious moment to me- his first steps. It all happened one evening during Chinese New Year that he started to attempt walking more than just 1-2 steps after seeing his cousin Adam walking around like a pro! This peer pressure thing was real, but wonderful. In just one night Tyler became addicted to walking, and he's been walking on his two cute little feet ever since 😭

Aside from walking, Tyler has also learned A LOT this year. Just the other night our paediatrician friend told us that it's very impressive if a two-year old has 200 words in his vocabulary. That got Boon and I curious to see if Tyler had 200 words in his vocab. We counted all the 1-20, A-Z, colours, shapes, animals, names of our family and friends, plus all the please, thank you, nenen, oioi, bye, hi, love you, etc, he indeed knows and speaks more than 200 words! I seldom talk about Tyler's milestones on social media (besides sharing snippets of him talking and dancing sometimes) cos I don't want other people to feel like I'm boasting. But since this is my blog I somehow feel more confident (and ahem, entitled) to share about these things. I want to pen down so that Tyler can read next time and know that he is indeed a very bright little boy! He catches things very quickly, has amazing memory power, and eyes sharper than an eagle (especially when spotting for our phones), and his favourite bananas and bread 😂

He's grown a lot taller too. He's really grown and matured so, so much.

But this also means he's getting cheekier and also naughtier too! This Terrible Two tantrums things is real. We're literally living it now 😂 This is the age where he can be sooooo cute, yet soon naughty at the same time. As much as it's challenging, we're learning to embrace this season cos we know it won't last forever. Before we know it, he will be this good boy going to school and doing his homework on his own, being all matured and all. For now, we'll just enjoy his antics la hahaha. #optimistic

 2. Our Little Family Trip to BKK

This trip was memorable was challenging 😂

The last we brought Tyler overseas was when he was 3-4 months old, still fully breastfed and was pretty much immobile. Couldn't crawl, stand and walk yet, and leave him on the bed also he won't move very far that kind hahaha. But when we brought him to Bangkok with us in Feb, he was already 1 year 2 months then and it was after CNY, so he was very addicted to walking!

However, one thing you must know is...he still hated wearing shoes. If you noticed, all of Tyler's baby photos before he started walking was him barefoot, showing off his chubby feet 😂

You see, during his first birthday party also refused to wear shoes 😅

So when we were in Bangkok, we couldn't really let him down to walk or stand cos he wouldn't wear shoes. The whole time was us strapping him in our Ergobaby, under the sweltering Bangkok heat. That wasn't the problem, except that he didn't really want to be strapped anymore cos he wanted to be free.

It was a 4D3N trip, which is supposedly short already! But on the 3rd day I remember telling Boon that I was so exhausted. We totally threw our wants to shop and massage out the window, and resorted to letting him crawl freely in an indoor baby theme park called Imaginia at Emporium. It wasn't cheap but it was worth it seeing that we spent 3-4 hours in there, letting him crawl on clean mats and not needing to struggle with him 😂

Still, it was a nice trip to go somewhere together as a little family. I remember feeling so so surreal that we were bringing our little one to Bangkok after so many years of going there just the two of us. Bangkok is one of our favourite places ever, and to have Tyler with us there meant a lot to us. Just that maybe we could have picked a better timing, like when he's able to walk or at least willing to wear shoes la 😅

3. My dream came to life- The White Atelier was born.

Still feels surreal to me that The White Atelier is now a reality. It's been such a crazy busy year, with appointments after appointments week after week, that just like that the year is over and feels like we've been around for a long time now.

But the fact is, it's only been 9 months plus since we first opened our doors on March 10, 2017. Everything happened so slow, yet so fast at the same time. Slow when we first started piecing the business together- from finding a location, to securing our funds, and getting everything in place. And fast, right after we started the business! Enquiries and engagements came pouring in, and without realising we were already busy churning out gowns and shoes for weddings every other week!

You can read about our journey on How We Started and our Launch Weekend in these links!

I've shared about how it all began, but I realised I haven't really updated much about how we've been doing. Looking back at the 9 months plus of operations, I'm really grateful to say that business is growing better and faster than we forecasted. To date, we have served over 150 clients for custom made gowns and shoes, veils, bridesmaid dresses, gown rentals, and everything in between. It's only our first year, so having this number of clients really means a lot to us. Never taking for granted the trust that our clients have towards our team.

And these are some of our work, and best liked photos on Instagram! 
Follow us at @thewhiteatelier to see more of our work!

4. Mama turned 50!

Being a sentimentalist that I am, birthdays are huge deal for me cos every birthday means a celebration of another year for that person! Especially when it's significant milestones like the 1st, 12th, 18th, 21st, 30th, and 50th (and all the subsequent decades!) birthdays.

This year, my mama turned 50 which was hard to believe personally, and much to everyone's disbelief too! She looks really young for her age, and is just like one of us sisters whom we can share anything and everything with. She's a precious gem and I'm just grateful to have her as my mommy.

5. Honeymoon Trip to Istanbul, London and Paris

Okay, not our official honeymoon, honeymoon. But possible our second honeymoon, or the third or fourth la hahahah. Don't know what to call it so honeymoon it is hahaha.

It was quite an impromptu trip cos we didn't actually plan to go anywhere fancy this year. Plus with the setting up of The White Atelier and being first year in business, it'd be quite difficult to take a few weeks off for a holiday. But as we approached mid year, we thought it'd be good for us to take a few weeks break before the year end gets crazy again. Which turned out to be a very good decision cos we didn't know we needed the break until we had it.

It was initially supposed to be a family trip as well! We planned on bringing Tyler with us, and even bought his flight tickets! But few weeks before the trip, we ended up not bringing him with us, thanks to my dad's strong suggestion and persuasion 😂

You can read all about it HERE.

We made a pitstop at Istanbul for only a night, and spent time being all touristy and spending time with our good friends- Pui Kar, Gerald and their adorable little Matthew! Been missing this family terribly since they relocated to Istanbul for work, so it was really nice to reunite and spend time together!

We really had them to thank for hosting us. We enjoyed Istanbul so much more because of you! They made us want to make a trip back again. Boon hasn't stopped talking about it! And this time we'll bring Tyler so that he can play with Matt!

London was of course, beautiful and charming as everyone had told me. Everything about it was perfect- the weather (not overly rainy thank God!), the food, the places. Only thing I didn't quite fancy was the perpetually rushing crowd and slightly cold locals 😅

Nonetheless, it was still beautiful! We stayed in London for slightly more than a week which was greattttt. Really took our time with the exploring and sight-seeing, so chill that we missed quite a bit of sights cos we didn't look out for the operating hours 😅

Did I mention that we took A LOT of nice photos too? 
Every nook and corner was photogenic my gosh.

Of course, one gotta have a good photographer too! 
My #InstagramHusband in his fullest potential 😍

Had to force this guy to take solo shots, but I'm really glad I did 😍

Aside from just us, we also managed to meet up with our long lost friend- Markie who's relocated to Glasgow! So happy that we got to meet again after some 5-6 years 😭

I also managed to have a short meet and greet with some of my long time Instagram followers and readers! Jayvian instagram DM-ed me to ask if I were interested to meet up for a meal and brought us for her church service at Hillsong London, and Jia Xin who DM-ed me tips on getting about in London the moment we touched down, and bought us ice-cream when we met! I always love hearing from my followers and readers online, but meeting them in real life and chatting face-to-face was special. Thank you girls for making my trip that much more wonderful!

Even natural lighting is better overseas...what is this 😂

We took two days to explore THE Paris! I was so so so excited cos it's Paris. I'm just a typical, mainstream girly girl who's excited about visiting the City of Love, so don't mind me okay? 🙈

I was actually pretty influenced by all the negative reviews and experiences from friends and strangers (and Boon) about how Paris isn't as nice as everyone thinks it is. That it's dirty and filled with conmen and pickpockets. So I went into Paris with rather low expectations thinking that I may leave disappointed and not be as wow-ed as I would like to be.

Turns out, however, I loved Paris a lot. So much.

Well yes, we did encounter lots of dodgy and rude "salesmen" trying to coerce us into buying their little gimmicky souvenirs, we did smell pee by the roadside, we did spot trash along the sidewalks, and we did watch out a lot for conmen and pickpockets, and constantly looking out for our cash and bags.

But even with all of that, Paris was still a wonderful experience to me. More than the breathtaking architectures and buildings, more than the beautiful little shops and fine French food, I just found that Paris had that spark of magic that I didn't quite find in say, London or Sydney. There's something about Paris that entices me. It's more than Eiffel, more than the French language that sounds oh-so-lovely. Maybe it's the air in Paris. Or maybe cos it's just simply why it's called the City of Love.

And oh Paris, you are so much more magical at night than you already are in the day.

Although I must say, the first sight of the Eiffel tower did make me tear slightly, and very emotional inside. All my life I've only seen the Eiffel tower in movies but to see it in real life, I felt so grateful and blessed to be there. My heart was so full the entire time. And to be there with the love of my life, that's the ultimate bonus.

Heck, even a simple photo taken with Boon's camera phone looks so good. Paris, you're so photogenic. And so amazing. I promise I'll be back, and I'll stay longer this time.

Thank you, Boon for making this honeymoon trip happen. It felt so good seeing and exploring the world with you, and travel like how we used to before parenthood 😂 Two weeks of uninterrupted sleep was reallyyyyy good, but we missed our boy terribly everyday. Receiving photo and video updates from my family daily were our highlights hahaha. Nonetheless, it was an amazing trip and something I'll cherish forever.

6. My First TED Talk

Saved all the screenshots of the DM's and tags from that day <3

Received an email invitation that changed my life. As an avid TED Talk fan, watching and admiring speakers from different industries sharing about what they do and know best, to receive an invite to speak at a TED Talk just felt unreal.

I had months to get my talk and slides ready, but it wasn't until about a week or two before the talk that I started to pen down my points. That's because I'd been brainstorming in my head for the longest time before I could actually come up with something which I thought were good enough.

All throughout trip to Istanbul, London and Paris, other than having Tyler on my mind the whole time, I also had the TED Talk in my head the entire trip. Wrote a long script, and memorised all of them in front of Boon and timed myself a hundred times (okay, kidding. maybe about 20 times).

I was nervous as hell, especially to share the stage with some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs in Malaysia like Ren Yi from My Burger Lab, and Low Ngai Yuen who's a seasoned entrepreneur and women's advocate. Gave my all, and I'm glad the talk had blessed the ones who were there to hear it.

The full video of the talk is now up on the TEDx Talks YouTube Channel!
And here's the link to watch the full thing! :)

Thank you, Team TEDxTARUC for giving me the privilege of speaking on your stage, to your students and crowd. I'm so incredibly blessed to be given the opportunity to use my voice to hopefully inspire and encourage the ones who hear it.

Definitely one of the best highlights of the year.

7. 5th Wedding Anniversary Trip to Bangkok

Okay I promise 2017 wasn't all about travelling and holidays okay. Hahahaha most of my time were spent on Highlight #1 and #2 (read: Tyler and The White Atelier, and of course, Boon too hahaha), but this is also a thing that I ought to highlight 😍

Boon and I celebrated our 5th year wedding anniversary in Bangkok! A short 3D2N trip to one of our favourite places ever- the good and cheap food, good and cheap massage, good and cheap shopping- what's not to love about Bangkok? Furthermore it's nearby so we don't have to be away from Tyler for too long cos we'll miss him like crazy!

It was a reallyyyyy chill trip. We went for a dinner cruise by Suppaninga, one of Bangkok's best restaurants along Chao Praya river, went for a spa at the gorgeous Oasis Spa, stayed at the very comfy Renaissance Hotel, Speakeasy hopping and shopped like crazy (80% for Tyler) at Chatuchak Market 😂

And dammit posted the right photo on IG Stories and everyone started asking if I were preggers. Damn you Thai food 😂😂

And of course, no baby to chase after so quite some photo-taking also 🙈

This left photo also got people ask if they should congratulate me. No la no need to congratulate me for eating too much okay 😂

It was a refreshing 3D trip away from work, to just take out time focusing on each other. The most memorable part of the trip would be when we were on the cruise, locked in an embrace and just looking each other in the eye, telling each other 3 things that we liked about each other. Will share more in another post cos this post is getting longer and longer omg hahahah.

8. Twenty-Eight and Grateful

I used to be quite anxious about getting older, but I guess as I grow older, I also grow wiser (*shy*) and have a change in perspective about life in general.

I read a quote one day that spoke to me a lot. It says "It's a privilege to age". So much truth in those words. It's a blessing and privilege to live another day. Many people in this world don't get to, what more to live another day filled with love and happiness. I have just really learned to be contented, grateful and to count my blessings everyday.

Every morning and night, I make it a point to say a prayer together with Tyler where he would clasp his hands together while I start the prayer with, "Dear Father in heaven, thank you for giving us this beautiful day where we could live and breathe, and experience your goodness..."

Keeping a heart of thanksgiving has helped me gain better perspective about so many things in life. For my birthday this year, I decided that from now on, I want to spend my birthday with my mom, the one who gave birth to me. Ever since Tyler's first birthday last December, I realised that the happiest person in the world on his birthday wasn't the birthday boy himself, maybe Boon, yes, but I felt like I was the happiest person on earth. I was so proud, so happy and so blessed to celebrate the birth of my son. That made me think of how my mom and dad would feel when they celebrate my birthday every year, and how my birthday should be a day to commemorate how much they have loved me and brought me up to the best that they could. My birthday ought to be a day to celebrate and thank them instead, and not be all about me, and my existence in this world alone.

I'm glad that I got to do that this year. Brought the mama and sisters out for a lunch buffet at Hilton KL, where we spent precious sisters time, and then a nice Japanese dinner (and Foie Gras sushi!) with my boys. Grateful for all the subsequent celebrations thrown by Pat and QQ, the D11 connect group, my family and in laws, and friends- Yin Har, Cheryl and Elaine. Super blessed by all these people who took the time and effort to remind me that I am loved and treasured.

9. Dabbling in My Other Interests: Styling + Photography

I am really someone who has one too many interests in life- if I were not doing blogging or running a bridal gown business, I'd probably be a wedding planner/coordinator/event stylist, wedding/portrait photographer, wedding makeup artist, and many more 😅

I just love weddings and everything related, so I'm always grateful to be given the privilege to dabble in some of these interests outside of what I normally do.

This year alone, I was entrusted with 3 weddings to style for by 3 different couple friends, to which I'm more than grateful.

Just posing with the dessert table that I helped to style! I really enjoyed putting things together for weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays- you name it! But I also know after dabbling in all these that they're really, REALLY time-consuming and exhausting hahaha. So I can only do them for fun on top of what I already have on my plate. So much more respect to event stylists for the work that they do cos while it may seem easy to just "arrange things" for events, it's a lot of time, effort and thoughts that have been put into every single detail, the transporting of everything, early setups and late tear downs, and the list goes on.

If you're wondering, no I won't be picking up styling gigs anymore cos I have a feeling I'll be even busier next year (especially when number two comes along) 😂. But I would love to dabble more in photography, which is another of my interests that I would love to explore!

These are some of the sneak peek photos that I shot for Azorias' CNY Lookbook! My dear friend Hui Wen is one of the very few who knows that I have this secret (well, not so secret anymore!) desire to dabble into photography, asked me one day if I'd like to photograph her for Azorias' CNY collection! Without a doubt I said YES, cos I was just really excited to try my hands on this!

Turns out, I really loved being behind the lens. All my life I've been used to being in front of the lens but to be behind the lens and taking control of how the images would turn out felt oddly liberating. The fulfilment when the images turn out beautiful is far greater than when I have a nice photo of me taken 😅

This is something I wish to do more on the side! So if you want a newbie photographer for any of your party/special shoot/events, you can try me la. If I have the time la hahahahaha #WorstPhotographerEver

10. Tyler Turned Two!

Ending the year and this post with one of my most recent highlights- my baby turning two years old.

And this was him at his birthday party. Look at that smile. This was him cheering us on while we sang him a birthday song, which repeated for at least 4 times 😅

We wanted to throw a birthday party for him with some close friends and family. But after we calculated, our close friends and family also amounted to about 60-70 people hahahaha. What happens when you have big families and a lot of friends 😂

Then I thought about what would make the birthday boy happy- a birthday cake with candles that he can blow multiple times if he wants (which is why we didn't opt for sparkler candles). Yeap, that's what's gonna excite him and make his day, not a huge party with balloons and a lot of food (he only eats his porridge, bread and biscuits lol exciting diet he has), and definitely not a lot of people cos that stresses him out (like his first birthday omg).

So we decided to do without a party, but to have multiple celebrations for him instead. We celebrated with my family on the 9th, and just the 3 of us on the 10th of Dec (his actual day), with the connect group on the 16th and with my in laws on the 17th. He had a few cakes and multiple candles blown, and couldn't be happier!

Just like that, my boy is two and has become a full fledge TWOnager (you know, like, teenager?). He's become much smarter and more independent, and at the same time more stubborn, assertive, demanding and bad tempered 😂 He's clearly in full Terrible Two phase, and I really hope this is just a phase la cos he drives us up the wall quite a bit these days hahaha.

Nevertheless, we still love him, all his quirks, antics, tantrums (maybe not so much) and all his Tyler-y characteristics.

Looking back on this year, if there's a theme to my year, it'll be this:


From the beginning of the year till now, the constant thing that's always being tested is my trust. My trust in God that all will be well.

I'm so used and so inclined to taking matters into my own hands, not troubling others if possible, that I have treated God the same way I did with everyone else. I try not to trouble Him too much, so I don't ask for help, and I don't rely on Him.

If I hadn't trusted Him that He will save me when I took the plunge for The White Atelier, my year would have turned out very differently. This year has taught me on the power of TRUST more than ever before, and it is until you take a plunge that you'd get to learn how to trust.

So God, thank YOU for making it all happen this year. My 2017 has been amazing, because I learned to have faith and TRUST in You. My 2018 will also be amazing, if not more, because I will continue to learn to trust in you- to trust that You are in control of each and every area of my life, my family, my finances and my business.

Ending the year with a huge, full and grateful heart, and entering the new year with an expectant, excited and trusting heart.

Thank you, 2017. Thank you, Lord.

Love, Careen.
This post is filed under PersonalFamilyThoughts

1 comment:

  1. Looks like there were many beautiful highlights for you this year! Cheers to 2018~ <3


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