That night from long ago.

June 2010.

It was supposed to be a little weekend getaway for the two of us, which led to something more. For me at least.

So V and I were talking and getting ready to turn in, when the topic of marriage came up. She said she wanted to have kids, and that in turn meant marriage pretty soon. Next year, she said.

MARRIAGE.

That topic hadn’t crossed my mind in a long while, because it seemed like she was fine the way things were. Never trust your eye (or mind) when it comes to women eh?

Marriage is a big word, and for me it was huge. Needless to say, I found it very difficult to get to sleep that night. Sometimes, it’s not just about nodding your head, going “uh huh” and just rolling with things.

We’re talking about formalisation of commitment. A potentially mindbusting PITA logistical process of a wedding. Buying a damn ring with an expensive ornamental rock. Actually proposing. Having kids. Taking care of the bawling little bugger(s). Losing sleep. Tons of responsibility.

In short, the works.

I ended up watching The Shawshank Redemption on DVD that night. Good movie, kept my mind off things.

ANDY
I understand you’re a man who knows how to get things.

RED
I’m known to locate certain things from time to time. They seem to fall into my hands. Maybe it’s ’cause I’m Irish.

I was utterly captivated, but the real question of course had to be answered.

It wasn’t much of a decision really. V and I had been together for a while now, and it was pretty much a nobrainer to respect the lady who’d been eking out a new existence with me in Australia all this while, and to honour her as my spouse.

The “decision” was more of a mental hurdle. A mental pep talk if you would, to prepare oneself for the challenges ahead.

“Once we get on this road, there’s no turning back man. Gotta suck it up and take all the tough times with the good, it’s gonna be plenty much harder than what it was before. You ready?”

Being a husband is different from being a boyfriend, and being a father is most definitely a game changer. It was my own way of taking a figurative deep breath before taking the plunge. Needless to say, I took the dive.

Thirty months later, December 2012. I’m sitting at home with a kid asleep in the bedroom and a ring on a different finger. Looking back, who would’ve thought it? I think about all the things that have happened since then, and if you’d gotten me back to June 2010 and let me choose again, I’m pretty sure it would have been the same choice.

It’s a tough road that came with a truck load of obstacles, but that’s how life is – you overcome obstacles, one at a time.

Advertisements

Four tips on planning a better wedding.

To kick things off, I don’t claim to be an expert wedding planner – these are just residual thoughts from my own wedding and past weddings I’ve seen. That being said, I think I did a pretty fair job putting my wedding together, so here’s a few suggestions.

#1 KISS
KISS, otherwise known as Keep It Simple, Stupid. This is the rule to event planning. Keep the routine as easy as you can, do not overcomplicate.

Complicated matters give you ulcers from stress, sap your energy and keep you up at night. Trust me, keep things simple and your life will be much better for it.

If you want to arrive in Bond fashion, leaping out of a chopper in a parachute and land right at the doorstep of the church looking all suave while the James Bond theme music is playing, be my guest. Have fun making it work though.

#2 Plan for the worst
Everyone wants things to turn out exactly how they expected it to be, but life is often full of disappointments. Make sure you understand the constraints of your wedding, and have backup options ready.

For example, plan for a backup (and sheltered) venue if your wedding is outdoors, and hailstones start pelting everyone out of nowhere.

Or if your suit gets dirty right before the wedding, what happens next? This is probably an extreme example, but it’s an illustration of how awry things can get if the tiniest thing stuffs up.

Make sure you have contact numbers: from the venue co-ordinator to the food guy to your best man (obviously) and definitely the guy who holds your ceremony – the celebrant, pastor or whoever it may be. If something screws up, you want to be able to get hold of someone to talk to.

#3 – Less opinions, more help
Remember that good old saying about too many cooks spoiling the broth? Yep, this is exactly what happens every time. Your wife’s second aunt wants the car ribbons to be that shade of pink she had on her wedding. Your mum wants to invite a hundred relatives, your mother-in-law wants to get the entire town to join in, and there’s only seats for fifty. Your dad wants to choose the food, and so does your father-in-law and half a dozen other people.

In my opinion, your wedding is a celebration on the joining of two people – you, and your partner. Everyone else is a guest, so guests should do what they are supposed to do, namely show up and look happy.

Instead of that? Everyone in the family wants to have a say, which messes things up considerably. No sane outcome can come out of a compromise made between half a billion suggestions. Really, you do not want it going that way. A ship should only have one captain, and a wedding should have two opinions that matter – no prizes for guessing which two.

Encourage everyone to help on the wedding instead. More hands make the job easier. More wagging tongues on the other hand, make me feel.. like I need a couple of really sharp knives. Or spiked clubs.

#4 Listen, and decide
You don’t want people going behind your back whispering nasty complaints about not showing respect, being arrogant and high-handed blah blah blah though. So stay polite, stay open. Listen to what people have to say, take notes on good suggestions. But being receptive is not being easily swayed, so stay firm, thank everyone for their input, and make up your own mind.

You have the final say, period.


So that’s all there really is. Hopefully these tips make some sense to you, and good luck on the days ahead – may everything turn out fine, and have a great wedding.

Birthdays: keinday 2011, the 30 hath arrived!

Damn, 30 years old! Good thing I don’t feel old though, the years have certainly been kind.

So, what else has been going on in the last year?

Work: Time just whizzed by. There would be lull periods and then an occasional fault; I spent a great deal more time in the datacenter than I did last year. Got pissed off at things which hindered me from doing work which is nothing new. New projects on the way, more new things to learn for sure. Picked up pieces on integrating SOAP on Windows server environments, something I was forced to do through the incompetence of others. Revamped my LinkedIn profile, does this count? Used less of the formal language structuring, and reverted to a more colloquial style which I think represents my personality better. Continued to improve on social skills – this is something hard to quantify but I think I’m making progress. My ability to handle responsibility (and incidentally, stress) have levelled up considerably as well.

Holidays: Had an epic trip to the States with my brother Stan. Stuck at the airport, check. Watched NBA games up live and in person, check. Slipped on ice, check. Froze my balls off, check. Got sick of taking United flights, check. Enjoyed great shopping and fantastic chow, check. Unforgettable for years to come, check.

Basketball: Pretty much stagnated ever since the indoor sessions died down, but we are looking to join a basketball league this year and I’m looking forward to exciting days ahead! I’m looking to polish 1-on-1 skills at this point rather than team stuff. Improve driving and jumpshots for the most part, plus right-handed drives and post-up shots.

Photography: Very stagnant, have not been shooting too much. There is just that prevailing indolent attitude going on in this topic at this point of time. I certainly need to kick off this laziness and take the camera out more often.

Life: Spent a great deal of time thinking about it, but finally plonked a chunk of moolah on this shiny rock with a metal ring we know as an engagement ring and proposed last year. Killed a lot of brain cells and getting generally frustrated planning the wedding. Ranted non-stop about the roadblocks to anyone and everyone. Enjoyed the wedding and the process of getting married. Enjoyed the company of all the dear friends who came over. And the latest project: getting our first kid on the way, who is due in December this year.

Personal: Continued my usual thinking throughout the year, reflection on one’s actions is always an important part of self-improvement. I try to think more before I speak in diplomatic situations, to be honest with people I hold dear, to always enjoy every day of my life, and to be content in the moments of happiness that come by. I’m also happy that I have managed to keep in touch with most of the people important to me, and wish that I will be able to do this for all my beloved friends.


Onwards with the surprise birthday dinner! So we had this dinner at The Yar a week before the birthday and a cake was hauled out at the end of the buffet dinner when I was already stuffed – very surprised!

388413_10150410733131994_811180965_n

Especially thankful to Jasmine for organising the whole deal (including the delicious cake) and also to Bill, Andy, Doris, Stan and V for going along with it.

So what else did I do on the birthday?

  • Applied for leave, visited the obstetrician with V in the morning. Everything’s good with the baby!
  • Had awful pseudo-Japanese food by Chinese folks at the Chadstone food court, really bad. Should make it a rule never to eat fake Japanese food in food courts ever ever
  • Watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 by myself at Hoyts Directors Suite – awesome seat, awesome ending to the Potter franchise.
    Well done guys you get a 4.9 from me, 0.1 deducted thanks to Harry breaking the Elder Wand (WTF moment) and the snipped dialogue from Ron to his kid at King’s Cross Station at the end. I like to think that the added screentime along with fantastic direction and visuals gave this film what it needed to present a glorious wrap.
  • Dinner with Clement, Clifton and the family at Ying Thai 2.

Present list!
From Lishi: an Esprit tee and an Esprit checkered shirt. My annual topup to the wardrobe, fits just right 😀 Thanks FG! I’m still waiting for my card :X

Card arrived 25th Jul! The card this year is one that says “29 FOREVER – I never lie…” on the cover. harhar. harhar.

Inside, it reads:

DEAREST KEIN

Hey there!

Sorry for the late birthday card (although you’ve got your bday gifts already). Hehe. Wanted to send from Krabi but it was a very quiet place, no have nice cards, only postcards so apologies for the latecoming!

Btw, i’m meeting up with Minghui at this very moment. Haha. He’s looking at me while i’m writing this up. Muahahaha.

Congrats on the coming new arrival to your newly set-up family. Help me convey my greetings to Ellen as well. I’ll try to go over n see my ‘godson’ next year!
Something to look forward to.

Alrite, I’ll end here. Hope you enjoy your birthday & Harry Potter! Try to come back this year leh!

P.S The card very adequate right?
Hehe.

Yours Sincerely,
Lishi aka FG

From V: a copy of Legends of Lone Wolf #12 – The Rotting Land. AT LAST! This book has been on my list for the longest time ever, thanks babe : )

From Stan: a black Angry Birds tee with the caption Flip The Bird.
And a card with a pair of faux tits (lol) that reads:

To: Kein aka my brother

2011 has been a year of BIGS:
– Boston Trip
– THE Wedding
– 30 years of existance

And not forgetting THE Baby!
Thank you for being a great role model, brother, friend and much more.
Looking fwd to many years more of awesomeness!
Happy Birthday!

Stan
13/7/11

From Bill & Andy: an infantino Breathe Vented Comfort baby carrier. Thanks for the gift guys! I really appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into it and it probably could come in handy (and here’s the part where I sound like an ungrateful bitch) but I was hoping to get something for me rather than something for my kid. After all it’s my birthday and it really feels very sad when even the day that marks my birth gets overshadowed by the impending arrival of my kid. Yes, I’m relatively egocentric.

To be honest I was quite glum about this the entire morning but I guess I should be grateful people are bothered enough to buy a present as it is; one should always learn to count one’s blessings.


Well-wishes: This year the list is a little long, much longer than I thought it would be. I’m a simple guy who’s easily contented and really, these messages make me very grateful to everyone who remembers, and bother enough to drop a message. Each message I read reminds me of the wonderful (or awful sometimes) days I have had with that person, and I feel happy thinking about the indelible memories we shared together. My Griffiths classmates, people from Ngee Ann (especially Swim Team as always), Temasek mates, RCY, NS, 1-Net, work, basketball (Changkat, Melbourne) and everywhere after. You guys are the best.

SMS:
Keith:
Happy birthday Kein , all the best this year!!!

ahlong:
Happy birthday bro..

Nanzhen:
Happy Birthday bro! Welcome to the 30 club… Haha. Enjoy ur day and ur movie!

Lishi:
My whatsapp got prob… Suddenly can’t connect. Will be home late leh. Btw happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WhatsApp:
Meishan:
Happy birthday, daddy-to-be!

Nick:
was waiting for 12 but ah? u are 2 hrs ahead…. haha

will the year ahead be ur most wonderful and loved ever. be happy and fill of joy to come, and have chance and luck along u always hehe U hit 30 liao hahaand i’m joining u real soon ^0^

Great Birthday!! Great Friend!!

Zhiming:
Happy Birthday PIG! May u get purple cloak n horse n wonderful things in life …. Hate u deeply …. ZM 🙂

Lester:
Yo Happy birthday

Sharon:
Happy belated burfday!! Sry I’m late:) was away on cruise:) hee

MSN:
XX says (11:50 PM):
halo…xx here… Happy Birthday 2u …

Zhongming says (12:37 PM):
hapi belated bdae~

Skype:
Wenqi (02:26 AM):
bro, happy birthday

Facebook:
Apologies if the alignment is out, the list was really too long so I mucked it up somewhat. And be warned, this list is very, very long.






Wedding: It’s finally over!

It’s been two weeks or more since the wedding, and I have been slowly trying to recuperate on various fronts:

  • Lack of sleep – gaming is sort of contributing to this, but I’m stil trying to sleep more! (Best effort basis.)
  • General state of chaos in the house – remnants of wedding stuff, presents, unfolded clothes et cetera. I’m trying to do a bit every night but the cold nights really make me feel like just vegetating in my seat and doing meaningless things infront of the laptop; various activities which incidentally include blogging.

Wrote a really long piece on the Facebook album, so I’ll just paste it here:

Many things to be thankful for.

Very thankful that the weather was fantastic on those few hours after a week of rain and gloom, and that the schedule went ahead mostly fine without major disruptions.

Thankful also to everyone who helped out:
My main men Bill, Andrew, Andy and Stan. For the bucks events, the cars, the driving, the card design, the video gunk, the guitar lessons. Too many. Not enough.

The other buddies who helped out in their own way – people like Lester helping me to clean up afterwards, Clement for walking Cookie during the ceremony.

Thankful to all the friends who were kind enough to fly over from Singapore; people like Tianxiang who took time out from his hectic work schedule and his baby girl to capture these unforgettable moments, Yunlong who sacrificed exam paper marking time for me, Zhiming/Albin/Nick for being so spontaneous and agreeing to fly down since last year, Lishi/Honda/Xianqin for so graciously making the trip down, your presence meant a lot to me.

The colleagues and friends who came down, and especially Mr J.Horton who’s been a huge part of my life here. Friends like Jasmine, Hin, Benny, Anita, Cherie, David, Kenneth, Benson who’ve graced us with your presence.

Very thankful to everyone who took time out to attend our little ceremony, and also thankful to those who were unable to attend but still sent their little gifts. This includes Jason and I-Ling, Nanzhen and Meishan, Wilfred, Andrew and Chai Ling, Adri and Yanbin, Yiting and Nic among many others.

If any names were missed, a big SORRY in advance here. Let me know and I’ll add you in pronto!

I count myself blessed that so many people have made time out for this day of our joining, and I hope that all of you have enjoyed the event and for those who were not there, I hope you enjoy looking at the wonderful (albeit unprocessed) moments captured by my old schoolmate and dear friend Michael Chan (aka TX), check out the links below.

Portfolio: http://www.expressivelyjoho.com/category/photography-by-michael/
Blog: http://enchantingkairos.com/blog/

Disclaimer: blatant advertising because I love his pictures and I think every other couple should get him as their photographer, nothing else.

Here’s a few pictures to justify the wall of text in front.

Tons of other great candid shots featuring the friends who came, but I think I should respect their privacy and not post their mugs all over the internet : )

But this one’s different:

The one who has helped me a great deal throughout the months before the wedding. My brother and at the same time one of the people I can always count on for help. From the video planning to the card design to listening to all my rants about planning to being the resident chef in our daily routine, he’s always been there. It’s tough to imagine how I could’ve coped with everything if he wasn’t around.

From the bottom of my heart, thanks to Stan for always being around.

Once again, I’m really thankful that the day went well, and I’m really heaving a great sigh of relief that this eight-month mofo of a logistical headache is ALL OVER AT LAST. Good luck to all the others who have not had theirs, I’ll be rooting for you to pull through in one piece. I’m still trying to get used to the ring on my ring finger and the weird absence of the ring on my third finger is just.. weird. It was somewhat of a coincidence that I sprained my ring finger playing basketball a couple of weeks before the wedding, so the ring ended up being tighter than it has to be. Like really, really tight. So I don’t take it off even when I sleep heh. And I have to use a finger guard to cover the ring during basketball.

And the fact that V is the wife rather than the girlfriend probably will take a while before I roll it off my tongue smoothly.

But other than these little things, everything is mostly the same as it was. Yes, married life is not that different when you’ve been living with your other half in the same house for the past three years or so.

Wedding: Uh what, one week more?

Damn that’s fast. Where did all the time go? It’s funny how three weeks seem a long time and then two weeks step up to bitchslap you in the face, giving you a not-so-subtle reminder that it’s not.

Good: Not much left on the list.

Bad: “Not much” mostly mean paying the remaining vendor bills.

It’s just about ironing the schedule and checking for last-minute kinks for the most part. And yes, praying for GOOD WEATHER. Can we link hands now and pray to the sun god for fine weather on the bloody 15th please?

Wedding: Sorting the details #3

Four more months to go! And there is still a ton of stuff on the list.

  • Date: 15 May 2011, Sunday.
  • Venue: Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Tecoma Pavilion. Will check back in March 2011 to confirm that my venue isn’t affected by renovation works. Also paid 50% deposit for the catering so that’s another milestone down. Need to decide if the food is right though.
  • Celebrant: Waiting to meet up again with John Byrne in April 2011, need to hand him an invitation together with the remaining documents and cash.
  • Sequence of events: A less sketchy idea of how I want things to go has been written down, with ideas on wet weather plans, and plans to conduct a rundown a week before actual.
  • Equipment setup: Need to finalise stuff needed and pay deposit to The Wedding Zone.
  • Wedding rings: Bought my ring from Charles Rose last year, V has yet to buy her ring. Need to engrave them after that.
  • Wedding gown: V’s gown from China didn’t fit well even after alteration, so she needs to look around for a suitable gown.
  • Guest list: Need to confirm attendance for some overseas people in Feb, in process of trimming guest list to a manageable size.
  • Photographer: Accommodation for Michael (aka TX) booked, but air ticket not confirmed yet.
  • Airfare: Still pending V’s family’s air tickets.
  • Accommodation: A couple of friends came out with a bad experience from Katz Apartments, so we had a round of inspections on other serviced apartments and settled with Milano instead – deposit placed last year.
  • Invitations: We are 90% complete on this one. If you haven’t seen the invitation cover on Facebook, here’s a peek. I quite think our design beats a lot of other wedding invitations I’ve seen hands down, face flat. (Yes, I am quite proud of what Stan’s skills achieved with my contributions.)


    The 五月の恋 bit came from an idea that popped up sometime last year, an inspiration for the theme of the day actually. The wedding’s in May (五月) so that’s pretty obvious. We started out with a common interest towards Mayday (五月天), and this is the fifth (五) year of our relationship. Lots of significance if you know where to look! I wanted the card to reflect my personality, which is simplicity. Overly flowery shit just doesn’t cut it TBH. The cover design is simple, no-fuss and yet manages to retain a stroke of elegance – brilliant.

  • Videographer: Stan’s the one, but need to hammer out the flow of the day.
  • Makeup artist: Not done yet.
  • Car hire: Delegated this to Bill, need to tell him again on number of people in car and car ribbon colours. It’s oddly amusing why the colour of a ribbon can take almost two weeks to decide on, when no one is going to bother to give the damn ribbons a second look on the actual day.
  • Florist: V checked availability of sunflowers with Basia Puchalski, sounds good so far but you never know with the weather.
  • Honeymoon: No idea now.

More updates in another post.

Wedding: Sorting the details #2

Just about time; updated portions bolded:

  • Date: 15 May 2011, Sunday.
  • Venue: Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Tecoma Pavilion. Got a letter earlier about scheduled public works, which turned out to be a false alarm.. for now. I’ll have to check back in March 2011 to confirm that my venue isn’t affected.
  • Celebrant: Met up with John Byrne over the weekend, who has an office setup in his own den (awesome!), and extremely organised+efficient – a man after my own heart. A good balance of humour and seriousness, sounds like what I need. Have a bunch of materials to go through, and next meeting will be in April 2011.
  • Sequence of events: A less sketchy idea of how I want things to go has been written down, with ideas on wet weather plans, and plans to conduct a rundown a week before actual.
  • Equipment setup: Met up with Peter from The Wedding Zone in August 2010, quotation obtained. In process of deciding stuff needed (chairs, accessories blah blah) with thoughts towards wet weather.
  • Wedding rings: I have confirmed my design, but there are two minor snags on V’s ring – 2.2mm width does not make engraving an easy job, and we need to size her ring finger according to US measurements pfft. My idea is to just buy the rings, and worry about engraving later. Got a reply from Larsen Jewellery that they’ll be able to assist with the engraving so that’s one step forward.
  • Wedding gown: V is ordering this via I-Ling from a supplier in China, measurements self-taken.
  • Guest list: Set reminders to confirm attendance for other overseas people at a later date, and am in process of trimming the guest list to a manageable size.
  • Photographer: Michael (aka TX) will be handling my actual day photography.
  • Airfare: Zhiming/Alvin/Nick/my parents have bought their air tickets via Emirates (thanks to Zhiming!) which takes some checks off the list. Still pending V’s family’s air tickets.
  • Accommodation: Deposit placed with Katz Apartments, pending payment of remainder.
  • Invitations: Have a rough idea of what I want, delegating to Stan for actual design.
  • Videographer: Stan volunteered to be one of the videographers, cool!
  • Makeup artist: To be done later.
  • Car hire: To be done later.
  • Florist: V likes the arrangements from Basia Puchalski, will be heading down to have a look and get quote.
  • Honeymoon: Possibly Tasmania!

More updates in another post.