Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year In Review: Personal Best Moments of 2013 & Welcoming The New Year!

CURTAIN CALL!! 

It has been one amazing year for me, personally. While I don't want it to end, the book still has to be closed because the chapter is finished and today marks the last page. But let's not fret. Life must go on boldly forward because we have everything to live for in 2014!

Meanwhile... 

A Recap of Best Personal Moments for 2013. 

1. Spend the early parts of the year away from home organizing events a week apart from each other... A buildup to the General Election. One Division after another, and always coming home feeling drenched and in need of a good rest. But with awesome colleagues, anything is possible. 

In the spirit of 1Malaysia la kan... against a potent choc brownies...

2. Breezed through the General Election 2013... because the hard and difficult parts have already been done earlier. 

3. Met Zamani in person! ... From Slam. He has always been my favorite local talent since school days. *Sigh* I couldn't believe he got so skinny!

Zamani Slam: Kembali Terjalin...

4. And got a free hug from Ironman!... The adventures my job brings me everyday. No Thor, but this will do.

Superhero overload...

5. Recruited a new blood donor. If this is member get member program, I'd have a cool downline. :) Because it is my only unselfish passion so far. And now I don't have to do it alone or look for a friend to accompany me. My husband is now my special moral-support partner!

And our blood group is the same as well...

6. First Valentine's celebration with Mr Right. At home eating simple home cook food. And gifted with my first silver cross necklace! <3 I foresee many Valentine celebrations will be spent alone together at home after this. 

To be worn close to my heart...

7. Ventured into Charms-making Business... Slowly and steadily, online and offline. This is another passion that I see should take off quite well, if only I have more time and focus. Tell you more about it later. Meanwhile for now, you may check www.eheartcharms.com

 Tranquility charms bracelet... from EHeartcharms.com

8. Cook more at home these days... because the guy I'm going out with loves home cook meals and especially Dayak food. 

Sambal nenas (spicy pineapple in prawn paste)

9. Visited Limbang! At last... And now the only Division I have yet to step foot on is Kapit. Although I've been to Song a few times. Wait ah 2014... 

For work, that is...

10. Ventured out of the country... to Phuket and Bali! To two countries at one time! -- Got my passport this year and well, ventured overseas for the first time. I know, I know... late bloomer and all. But two international island resorts in one go made up for it!

Phuket!

11. Got a surprise proposal! Every girl's dream, stuffs of fairy tale... to have a guy she loves go on one knee in public, open a beautiful tiny box and pop the question. What kind of girl could or even want to say No to that?  Oh you could also read about it HERE.


The precious props...

12. Went to Bangkok! ... an unplanned trip but an amazing journey nonetheless. 

Met and had coffee with George Clooney at Madame Tussaud, Bangkok

13. Got properly and formerly affianced... with the families' blessings and approval. And then it is made official because the earlier one was more of a personal engagement. 

Official engagement day...

14. Given an acoustic guitar by le fiance... An early birthday present, he said, 3 months away from the real birth date. The only guitar I ever had was given by my dad on my 18th birthday. It broke after I brought it back from college during my senior years. Some stuffs are to be cherished forever, more for the thoughts that count. 

Rocking good times...

15. GOT MARRIED! To this amazing guy on Dec 14 2013! The same one who proposed to me. It was the most beautiful, most memorable, most exceptionally amazing time of my life. Walking down the aisle in daddy's arms in daddy's tiny country church, feeling like the most blessed and most beautiful bride in the world. The day we exchanged rings, vows, and got united in front of God and men. A truly special day in any girl's life.

Getting all dolled up, morning of the wedding...

16. Went for honeymoon right after... to the islands of the gods, Bali again! No words can describe my state of happiness at this point.

Lounging good times in Bali...

17. Celebrated Birthday Bali style! ... because we were already there. Got serenaded by one of the coolest local acoustic bands I've ever had the honour to watch.

 The birthday kiss!

18. First Christmas as a newly wedded couple. With both sides of the family.

19. Moving to our new marital house. Right after the honeymoon. :) So by New Year, I'd be a driving a distant more to work than usual. 

20. About to spend New Year's Eve with awesome companies, awesome food, and awesome FIREWORKS display across the City!

So then, there it is. I may have missed a few milestones but that's ok. Next year I'll have a proper diary. In a rush now for the New Year's Eve get-together. Till then lovelies, here's wishing you...

A JOYOUS & BLESSED NEW YEAR 2014!
What doesn't kill us last year will only make us stronger this year!
Amen.

Wohoooooo! Release the fireworks!
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Monday, December 16, 2013

News Update from The Wedding Bureau: COFFEE GIRL JUST GOT HITCHED!

... TO A MOST WONDERFUL DELIGHTFUL AFFECTIONATE BLESSED CHARMING MAN on 14 Dec 2013! 

 Walking down the aisle in daddy's arm...

Ok that was two days ago. Forgive the remiss. Yours truly had been real busy getting herself properly wedded. Only able to get hold of this laptop and recounting the extraordinary journey right now, in BALI nonetheless, on my ehem… honeymoon.

And hey, I am that word called WIFE now! That’s a promotion of the highest order in a girl’s life. Not to belong to someone, but to have found her soul mate and begin a wonderful journey together. It’s been really amazing. How I got myself into this position right now is beyond me. Only by the grace of God. 

Two rings to unite them all...

This is one of those times when saying it is just not good enough. It has to be shouted and proclaimed out loud because it deserves the special mention. After the surprise proposal in July (which you can read here), the proper official engagement in September (and here), and the following months of preparation plus countdown (and here and here), it comes down to this one memorable day in December:  THE OTTERS BIG DAY.

It’s so amazing it’s unbelievable. Have not been able to stop smiling despite been standing on 4.5inch heels all day, all night and then going a few rounds. And still standing! I must respect all brides before me. You think it was easy, and now you know. The extra inches helped to raise the confidence a bit but it didn’t matter after all because the groom is tall and it’s only fitting. But not complaining right here.  The little pain is nothing compared to the joy. It didn’t just tip the scale, it tumbled it!

The extra inches...

At some point, you forget all the exhaustion, the anxiety, the butterflies in the stomach, and just focus on making miracles and hoping for the best. And the smiles just came on naturally. We kinda just winged and well swung it, you know, like the saying goes, doing our best and letting the rest takes care of itself.
But you should have seen my groom. If the bride was radiant, then he was beaming! He’s never looked more handsome. My pillar of strength. My soul mate. My significant otter. My husband.
 
The signing ceremony. We just realised that the smile never left his face...

Oh don’t you roll your eyes at me, my lovelies. Haha! Allow me this moment right here right now because this does not happen to a girl every day and no matter what you say I will insist on writing too-sweet-till-your-tooth-ache posts like this. ^^

The whole journey including (and most of all) the preparations has been truly remarkable. A one of a kind adventure really.  Our respective families have been really supportive and fabulous too. I must say that couples who co-fund their own wedding made a lot of decision-making fairly easy because parents don't get in the way too much, although we try to compromise wherever we can to please both parties and listen to elderly advice as often as we can. Happy parents make happy future newlyweds, yes?

By the way, I’m not going to apologize because we didn’t serve liquor that night at the reception. I believe you don’t really need alcohol to have fun. Sober fun is real fun, right? But that's just me. Nevertheless I thank you that all of our friends and families in attendance were perfectly sporting. You guys rock!

Appreciation door gifts... Left for morning, right for evening...

Even the band was awesome! I actually found them via a friend who posted in FB pics of them performing. I went around asking and got the manager's number, and the rest is well, country history. They sang all my favorite songs (ones which I helped pick beforehand of course). It has always been a dream to have Alan Jackson sing at my wedding... and this was close to perfect. (p/s: If you want the contacts, buzz me...)

Country band, The Hybrid. Mr Paka, now a good friend, on the keyboard..

Oh did you hear about the surprise? I had a hard time deciding whether I should or not, and where I should do it… in church or during the reception. I almost bailed out because that was one heck of a reception dress I was wearing… heavy, real pretty, with a long train that made walking around nearly impossible. But after requesting the Live Band to prepare an acoustic guitar for me days beforehand, I just had to you know, make use of it. And after a split second decision, I texted the MC. Am not a professional guitarist, I only play in church, real stage-shy, and my voice is shaky at best… but I just gotta do it. There wasn’t a better time than the one currently presented to me. If I didn’t, I would forever regret it.

And so, for vanity's sake … Voila! 

Le groom... one hand holding digital lyrics, the other on his own phone...

I know it was never done. So yeah, that felt really good! I knew the Groom were especially astounded! Asking him to help me hold the lyrics on the phone was just a ploy to keep him standing next to me so I can have both moral support and well… in case I get too nervous and forget the lyrics. 

Most brides were afraid they might trip on their dresses while walking down the aisle. Me… I was so afraid I was going to cry during the solemnization ceremony because I know my parents were. If I were a parent, I would be crying too. And that would totally ruin my carefully applied makeup. But thank God I didn’t, although it was a real challenge not to.

 My playful flowergirls Lil Yaya (standing) and Lil Maemae on rehearsal night...

Even when my 6 year-old flowergirl, little Maemae kept staring at me adoringly when she thought I wasn’t watching, I could feel slow tears pricking my eyes. You know what she did? After the ceremony, she told her mom that after this I won’t be coming home again, and then she ran home to hide and cry. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with her. The little girl has so much love in her it just broke me up to realise how deeply she begins to understand life.

I supposed in life, you just have to lose some and win some. But never compromise where love is concerned. 

The official appearance at last... See who's beaming the most?

So that’s it for now all you lovely followers and silent readers!  I am so glad you all have been there for me virtually through thick and thin, and because Blogging is what sparked this romance in the first place. You do realise I’m sharing all this personal special details because I sayang you all right?
 
Tell you more about my preparation, bridal of choice, crucial wedding tips and the Bali adventure when I come back. Until then, hold that thought!

Lots of love,
No more a singular Coffee Girl.

Friday, December 13, 2013

And Here’s to the Final Countdown!

Well, how do you like counting down so far?

 
Getting dolled up for the prewedding shoot...
I have every intention to do a final countdown with this entry, but hey, I think I’ve hit the wall and now my writer’s mind is going on a silent strike. Blocked, is what it is. Or perhaps I’m just too many emotions all in one that I cannot simply put words into phrases without making one emotion less important than the other. Because they are all, of course, significant. 

 Timeless journey...

Nevertheless, cheer me on lovelies. Because with or without coffee and whether it will make sense or not, I will finish this entry.

In less than 24 hours and I will embark on the biggest most meaningful journey of my life. Some people waited a lifetime; some had this moment handed over to them. I, on the other hand, is about to cross that bridge because it’s finally here. And then, you will also have the pleasure to see me burn that bridge down. 

You see, a lot of people didn’t expect me to get married. In fact, even I did not expect me to get married! So the fact that it is happening is well… a little dreamy. A tad unrealistic but not altogether impossible. Hey, not owing anybody any explanation for that one. Right now I am merely accepting and embracing this little knowledge that soon I will have a permanent golden band to wear. 

 
 A vow made in front of God and men...

Who would’ve thought this day would arrive? I didn’t. But I sure do love the surprise it brings. So there’s hope. There’s always hope for a gift of life and love. 

The old saying is true. When you don’t look for it, that’s when it will find you. I was walking through one heck of self-destructive road when my future came along and handed me caramel macchiato, and I never looked back ever since.
The Bestman and the Maid Of Honour tool of choice ...
Oh I could write a whole novel about that. But I won’t because it won’t be a complete book.

And now it is time to bury the hatchet, lay down some stubborn ghosts to rest, torch the bridge, close the book, and sign off for the last time as ME-the single woman. 

 Reliving that perfect coffee moment where it all began...

I like the sound of that. I like the sound of that very much.

So you have fun! I’m gonna go and get myself hitched now! 

NOTE: Will return to post more after the honeymoon trip right after the function. Wheeeee!

COUNTDOWN TO THE BIG DAY - Part 3 and The Final!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Daddy had a shotgun ...

... and that was probably the reason you didn't see many young men cluttering the house at any one time or another although he had 5 eligible daughters then.

I'm kidding … about the boys, but not the gun. The game were aplenty in those days, back when some of them weren’t protected species. Squirrels, wild boars, foxes, eagles, lynxes, monitor lizards, pythons, and many more wild game have felt the wrath of the shotgun. Father was a great hunter, still is, although he has retired from the sport for years now. These days the shotgun gets rusty from lack of attention, although not broken but is now kept safe somewhere in his treasure trove. 

 
 Back in the 80s... Off hunting. Simunjan.

Oh don’t worry. He has a license for that gun. 

But truthfully, he didn’t need a gun to hold off those boys. He is ever the gentleman but there’s something about him that demands a quiet respect. With just one straight look in the eye and a silent composure, any faint-hearted boy would go speechless. I have seen that happened before and well, it was kind of funny really. My sister’s boyfriend didn’t stand a chance. Ha.

Father is a gifted writer. In fact – and I hope I am not bragging – I inherited my writing flair from him. I believe those two times I won the public essay competition awards back in my studying days, he was secretly pleased. I do still hope that. Now, IF ONLY DADDY HAD A BLOG, that would definitely be stuffs the publishers would die to get their hands on. 

*Yes I initially wanted to write about “If daddy had a blog”, but then again I had no idea of an introduction … nevertheless, I’m getting there now.*

Did I tell you he once had his writing published in a book? The book was a compilation of tall stories, myths and legends surrounding the Bidayuh community. Written in English, and published by the Swallow Publication (if I remember correctly). I read the book when I was 10. Dad's story was entitled "The Man From The Seven Hills." A story about a boy who went to hide on the seven hills, besieged by his father's murderer, grew up and trained alone, kept a bamboo whistle to scare his enemies, and eventually avenged his father's murder. It was a little dark but it was a brilliant story nevertheless. 

On the other hand, he can be really unpredictable. Like that day when I brought this young man – who is now my fiancé -- home for the first time, I intercepted him on his way out the door and whispered “Daddy, that’s my boyfriend.” It was an in-your-face no-holds-barred no-time-to-rethink devil-may-care kind of ‘Surprise!’ moment because I didn’t know how else to tell him. Then I braced for that fact to sink in. 

Less than 5 seconds and the surprise were actually on me! He didn’t blink an eye, but went straight to the guy. Father shook his hand with a laugh and said “Hello.” In my head, I went, “Wait dad, you’re not going to subject him to at least 5 must-answer-correctly subjective questions?” But in my heart, the whisper was a soft “Thank you Lord that THAT went well.”

And charming? Oh yes, father can be really sweet and indulging when he wants to. To his wife, to his children, to his relatives, to his friends and acquaintances, to his students, to his congregations. Was he ever strict? When the situation calls for it. Especially in bringing up his children, and where the Word of God is concerned.

Uneasily swayed? Well to put it simply, father is a man of principle. When he says No, it’s a No until the end. Humble? This man will never brag about his achievement. You would only hear them from other people. He prefers the company of the underdogs than those in high places. Conventional? ... is waaaay better than modern dads these days. Father most of the time spared the child and spoiled the rod.

Faithful? Oh yes. His holy union to mother has now lasted three generations. How did they do it? My observation says it’s thanks to mutual respect and love, sharing the burden, no secrets, keeping the sacredness of the marriage behind closed doors, and the belief that the couple who pray together stay together. A blessed union until the end.

The parents. Sharing this personal pic of vintage love everlasting...

It’s the same kind of relationship I desire for myself and my future husband, and one I hope to pass on to my children and their children onwards. Amen.

Father was a teacher by occupation. It paid the bills, put money on the table, and clothed us all. But perhaps that wasn’t his real calling. He left the profession to become a Pastor when I was just 6 years old. There were struggles in the beginning for everybody especially the adults, but eventually we all settled in and settled down back home, where our roots were. His firm belief was the promise of the Word that “My God will supply” and “Your grace is sufficient for me”. 

Well you know his faith and belief actually worked. He put us all through school and a lot more with his Pastor’s wage. It wasn’t big, it wasn’t meager either. It was just enough. He even managed to send me to university and look at where I am today. How awesome is that?

If he were to write an autobiography now, I’d say the main concern he would have is whether he did everything correct and accordingly in his life. I would gladly answer he did a lot of things right. With all his children. Whether or not any of us stray from his teaching onwards would be on our own heads.

Soon I will be the most blessed girl to have my father walk me down the aisle. Just like a mother, a father knows in his heart that the day would come when he would let go of his children one by one. Just as I know in my heart he prayed and continues to pray on every eventful day when he would deliver each of his daughters to the rightful outstretched hand of the young man who would take her home. 

 A firm believer in forehead kisses...

You got to love a man like that. 

He turned 73 this year, but in my eyes he looks like he’s only 55. His hair is slowly turning all gray now too but he is still my pillar of strength. I may not be able to linger around much in his presence once I cleave to my husband, but I will still be his little girl. Even writing this now makes me all emotional. Some love and sacrifices are really priceless and no amount of repayment will ever be enough. 

This one is for you father. I hope I make you proud.

COUNTDOWN TO THE BIG DAY Pt 2
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Next: The untold story ... 
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