When I was growing up, I remember the most epic birthday party I had was when I was 8. Growing up in Malacca in the 80s, it wasn’t really common to have major parties for children my age, but my parents had organized my birthday at the new McDonald’s restaurant (the one and only in Malacca at that time!). It was totally memorable for me, especially since my mom baked a gorgeous cake for me, and my friends and I packed into the walk-in freezer to see how long we could stand the cold. I am grateful to my parents for organizing such a party for me.
Now that I have children of own and with the growing influence of Pinterest, DIY groups on Facebook etc, I feel a little ‘pressured’ to do something fun. So a few years ago when my daughter turned 5 and my son turned 3, I organised 2 parties – a unicorn party for my 5 year old and a fireman party for my 3 year old. It was quite fun doing some of the DIY stuff on my own, but unlike my mother, I can only bake instant cakes from those pre-mixes in the supermarket. (Needless to say, I didn’t bake these cakes).
It was a little stressful, but after all that organising, here are some tips to share with other mums who intend to plan their own child’s birthday parties.
1. If you are not good at something, hire someone to do it.
I realised that I was putting additional stress on myself in making some of the decorations myself. I went shopping for goody bags, was busy sorting out the guest list, planning food, AND thinking of how to keep everything under budget. Unless you are the kind of mum who truly enjoys this process, the best way to avoid unnecessary stress is to hire someone to do things for you. There are many great decorators / stylists who are great at what they do! (For my son’s 1st birthday, I had an Up themed party and hired Moments). For his 3rd year party, all I did was call the local fire station, do a site visit, and then let the firemen entertain the kids! (You need to give a donation to hold the party at the local fire station. Some fire stations do not allow parties)
As a Canon EOS ambassador, I get to test out the new EOS R5 and a few lenses, namely the RF 15-35mm f2.8 and 85mm f2.0 macro. I contacted my friend, Joanna Koleth, who is an amazing dance-artist, and some other amazing vendors who made this shoot happen. Soon, we were doing jumps around KL city centre. This shoot is part of a bigger project, one that involves a few other photographers. But that is yet to be revealed. The theme of the shoot revolves around this word, Harmony.
When conceptualizing the shoot, I thought about this word and what it means to me. A quick Google search revealed the meaning of harmony as “the state of being in agreement or concord.” As a Malaysian, I truly desire a state where the people in our land can live in harmony with each other. Our country is full of culture and heritage, and we’ve gone through good and bad seasons since celebrating our independence in 1957.
Learning how to balance our diversity with unity is not easy. Harmony is not just an outward appearance of accepting each other, it’s respecting each individual as they are. It’s also about merging old and new mindsets so that we can grow as a nation.
It’s a delicate dance.
It was 14 years ago, exactly on this date that I said my vows at my dream wedding. I had 200 guests seated at the garden of the Palace of the Golden Horses, all dressed in shades of purple or white. It was the perfect day. There was a cool breeze that day, and everything went smoothly, despite a little accident that broke a portion of the trishaw I was transporting from Malacca for the ceremony that day.
14 years flew by, it wasn’t short, but it didn’t feel so long either. I do not remember the personalised vows I said that day but thank God for videos…all the memories were recorded beautifully. I was an idealistic 27 year old bride. I believed in true love and I found it. But I didn’t know how much work it takes to stay in love.
I’ve learnt many lessons over these 14 years. It took me some time to learn them, so if I could speak to my 27 year old self, I’d say…
The romance may disappear but true love is deeper than just feelings
The commitment we made to one another that day was the seal that brought us together. The heart palpitations faded after a while, but it didn’t mean I was less in love with the man I married so many years ago. The love I feel now is much deeper because of my understanding of who he is, and how much he tries to make things work for the family.
Change yourself first
We had a difficult first year of marriage trying to understand each other. In between tears and feelings of insecurity, I had to come to terms with my own weaknesses. If you accept responsibility for your own actions, your marriage will thank you for it.
If you want the fun and adventure to carry on, you need to make time for it
Life goes on after a while. The bills need to get paid, children come along, and soon, the only excitement you get is to choose which movie to watch on Netflix that night. We really had to make time for date nights where we spent time talking or exploring some new activity. This is even more important after the children are born.
Make time to listen
Even though we work in the same office, there were days when we just breezed through life without saying anything significant to one another. I had to learn to listen with undivided attention so that I could understand his needs. Frequent conversations was the key that made us feel connected.
We might have differing opinions, but we always attempt to resolve issues before sleeping. We need to remember that we are on the same side, not against one another. If there is a problem, it’s our problem, not the other person’s problem. Through the years, we had to learn what it means to speak kindly in the midst of a disagreement.
Ultimately, the very cord that holds us together is our love for Jesus Christ. It’s our belief system that kept us unified all these years. 14 years and counting.
If you would like to follow my marriage and parenting journey, please head on to Comma: Rethink Life.
Protecting nature is not ONE person’s responsibility. It is OURS. So tie the knot with a sustainable wedding! For yourself, and for our future generations. Here are some ways to make your wedding a sustainable one for our planet.