21 months

Okay how big has this baby gotten? Too big is the answer.

And more importantly, how long have I got left to baby this baby before I’m all out of babies??

It’s a strange thing, after 10 years of having my life revolve around one or more babies, to suddenly be all done. Knowing that my babying days are numbered, I’ve been actively trying to soak in as many baby moments as I can, constantly aware that today could be the last time I hear her refer to herself as “baby Haaaay” because she’s now able to pronounce her “L’s” with the astonishing clarity (and swagger) of a precocious toddler. She now emphasises the “Hay-LEY” with a grin, letting the L slowly roll off her tongue, evidently pleased with herself. Or today could be the last time she wants me to hold her face to sleep or the last time she needs help opening doors.

I can feel all these moments slipping out of my hands and it makes me a little sad.

I suppose my only consolation in all this is that as she grows out of her babyness, she’s growing into my favourite baby age ever, right around the 18-month to 3-year-old window.


Baby Hayley as a 21-month-old is out of control adorable.

She adores dogs but gets very angry with them when they get too excitable because she’s a delicate flower. She’ll be all over the dog wanting to pat it and cuddle it but the moment it tries to play with her, she’s like “nuh-uh, okay I’m done here.

She also adores her brothers + sister but gets very angry when they get too excitable because yes, she’s a delicate flower. She’ll be watching them play their crazy games and part of her will want to join in but once she’s part of the madness, she’ll suddenly be like “WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?? MOMMMM MAKE THIS STOP!!

There are a lot of things I like about having a 21-month-old, such as the way she toddles around on tippy toes when she’s having a good day. I like the way she tries to kiss me 10 times in a row like Theo does but can only count up to 4 before getting stuck. I like all her mispronounced words and her uncoordinated enthusiastic dance moves. I like the way she holds on to my arm when I hug her to sleep as if to make it clear that I’m not allowed to take it away.

But most of all, I like the way she still looks at me like I’m her entire world.

Having 4 bigger kids, I know this doesn’t last forever. The big kids have started to catch on to this whole my-mommy-is-the-awesomest-human-in-the-world myth. They’re now looking at me like I’m a pretty okay mom who does a decent job and that’s ok but for now, I think I’ll enjoy this baby’s looks of adoration while it lasts. :)



If life is a collection of memories, then some of the very best ones I’ve collected are from Disney World.

Being in Disney World is like walking into a bubble; every small part from the resorts to the theme parks to the classic Disney music to the aroma of freshly made waffle cones on main street to the characters who play their parts to perfection, it all comes together to create some incredible magic. Strictly on a fun per minute basis, Disney is so far ahead that any comparison just wouldn’t even be fair. It’s 24 hours of amazing experiences non-stop every single day that we’re there.

I know there’s a whole world out there to explore and hopefully one day we’ll get to it, but now while the kids are still little, there is no place that lights up their tiny faces with such delight as the happiest place on earth.

We typically do Disney at the end of the trip because no matter how fun all the other parts get, you always know that there’s something better waiting for you at the end. And man, those last 8 Disney days were some pretty epic days.

Okay I’m going to attempt to put it all into one post.


#1. Oh hello, Beach Club!

Choosing a Disney resort depends on several factors: how much time will you be spending at the parks/rooms? what’s your favourite park? how many people are there in your party? are you going to be spending any time at the pool? what kind of theming do you like? what discounts are available?

This trip, it was a toss up between one of the monorail resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary) for easy access to Magic Kingdom or the Epcot resorts (Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn) for a short walk to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

I’ve heard a lot about the legendary Beach Club pool but all our previous Disney trips were all commando style park touring, which left very little time for chilling out at the pool. I mean, look at all the roller coasters! carousels! train rides! character meet and greets! It was always rope drop at the parks all the way till they shut the doors on us.

After some extensive research and a ton of rave reviews, we decided to go for the Beach Club resort and turns out, it was the perfect choice because yeah, we ended up doing a lot of this.

So every morning, we would ask them if they wanted to hang out at the pool or head straight to the parks and it would be like the most difficult decision they’ve ever had to make. They would huddle up and discuss the merits of each option and grab their heads and take a poll and finally decide to do 2 hours swimming followed by roller coasters for the rest of the day.

I’ve never seen them change and get ready at double speed like this ever. The big kids would be hustling the boys and helping them put on floaties and goggles, the whole time being all, “We need to hurry, if not there won’t be enough time for rides!!

2. Lovely to meet you, Pandora – the world of Avatar!!

I’m not a huge Avatar fan, but I was really excited to experience the new addition to Animal Kingdom, which has always been sort of an underrated park for me. Compared to Magic Kingdom or Epcot or Hollywood Studios, it’s definitely more of a slow burner.

But that all changed with the opening of Pandora. This place is stunning; the Disney Imagineers hit a solid home run with this.

photo credit: Disney

Both the new rides at Pandora are insanely popular and the only way to not queue 2-3 hours for them are to book fastpasses 60 days out (these go fast!).

Na’vi River Journey is a slow boat ride that’s visually mind-blowing, but it’s probably not worth a 2-hour queue. Avatar Flight of Passage (a simulator where you get to fly a banshee in Pandora), on the other hand, is possibly the best ride in Disney World right now. It’s a very difficult choice to make because TEST TRACK!! and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!! but okay, this one is nuts.

It’s been a while since I stepped off a ride feeling completely blown away and this ride? It was full on goosebumps, jaw hitting the floor insanity. This is Disney magic at its finest.

3. What’s up, Animal Kingdom?

Maybe because of Pandora, Animal Kingdom became one of my favourite parks (can all 4 parks be my favourite?).

The kids were very enthusiastic about side quests this trip and one of the best ones was making like Russel from Up and learning to be a Widnerness Explorer. It’s an interactive experience where they could collect badges at over 30 stations around the park. All the cast members at the different stations were excellent, they made it super fun for the kids to learn about spiders and flamingos and goats and dinosaur bones.

4. I really like you, Epcot.

Thinking of Epcot gives me some serious withdrawal. This place is everything I want in a theme park – solid rides, beautiful theming, the best shows, somewhere to sit by a bench and share an ice-cream brioche with my babies.

The new addition to Epcot since we last visited was the Frozen ride, which took the place of Maelstrom in Norway. It’s definitely a major upgrade because now the boat ride takes you around Arendelle to hang out with Elsa and Anna and Olaf and Sven and the poofy Marshmallow thing.

Here’s Finn trying really hard to be a viking in Norway. Poor boy is good at a lot of stuff but clearly, being a viking isn’t one of them. He’ll have to take lessons from baby Theo on how to muster a proper angry viking face.

5. You’ll always have my heart, Magic Kingdom. 

If what you’re looking for is a good time, then Magic Kingdom is the place to be. Nobody knows how to party like Magic Kingdom does. Street parties, dance parties, sing-a-long parties, parade parties, there’s always a party to be had when you’re here.

The bigger kids kind of knew what to expect but this was a first for Theo, who was in a bit of shock when he saw all the parties. He was quite stunned for a while as he tried to process all this information, and then suddenly he was all like, “WOOOO PARTYYYYY!!!” and started running around dancing everywhere.

6. You’ve got a friend in me.

I’m of the opinion that one can never be too old to have a good time meeting Disney characters, but I think the big kids were starting to feel a little self-conscious about the meet and greets. Truett was like “but those are real people inside, isn’t it a little weird to be queueing up to meet them?” which ok, point taken. Although I’m 35 and I would take a hug from dude-wearing-mickey costume any day.

The kid who enjoyed it the most was Theo, who was also in shock (in a good way!) at seeing all his favourite characters walking around.

This is the longest Minnie hug ever and also baby Theo’s “I cannot deal with this level of awesomeness” face. This face makes me swoon.



TL;DR? Here’s a video instead.

Disney World 2017 from Daphne Ling on Vimeo.


Big kids, big problems

Now that Truett and Kirsten are 9 and 10, parenting looks very different from when they were helpless little babies. In most regards, it’s a whole lot easier when you can use words to communicate (as opposed to screamy voices and tears). On the downside, using words can be frustrating because they are talking back like smartypants big kids and questioning all my rules and I’m like “Okay new rule, I’m the only one who gets to talk here, you guys.

Few days ago, I had a situation with them whereby Tru and Kirsten got themselves banned from all electronic devices for a day.

The infraction? Overusing their allocated time and refusing to stop even when they were asked to.

All they had to do was abide by the ban for 24 hours and they were done.

But instead of being good about it, they decided to secretly use the phone for 5 minutes hoping that we wouldn’t find out. I know that in the grand scheme of things, it was just 5 minutes and the actual using of the phone wasn’t a big deal. The issue was being duplicitous and blatantly disregarding instructions instead of having a conversation about it (we usually encourage them to talk it out if they wanted us to reconsider the ban – it works about 50% of the time, which are fantastic odds).

Well, I did find out and I had a very strong word with them about the importance of earning trust. I told them how disappointed I was that they went behind my back and that if I couldn’t trust them, they would have all their privileges revoked. Consequently, I extended their ban for another 7 days.

They were both visibly subdued and retreated to their respective corners with a book for the rest of the day.

That evening, while putting the big kids to bed, the husband was talking to them about whether they thought we were too strict.

Kirsten: Yah, sometimes.

Truett: Actually, for me it’s ok. The things that you guys are strict about are important so I think it’s fair.

Husband: Wow, that’s very thoughtful and I’m so glad to hear that. Kirsten, do you want to tell daddy about how you feel?

Kirsten: Oh, um, exactly what he said.

I often think about whether I should be so strict with the kids because am I overreacting to them using the phone for 5 minutes? I remember feeling frustrated about my parents being too strict when I was a teenager and now, having to be the strict parent is a difficult place to be in. It’s not that I need their adoration or approval in the face of being disciplined (although wouldn’t that be nice??!), but I need them to understand that we have their best interests at heart even when it doesn’t seem like it.

Hearing them say this makes me feel like maybe we’re not doing such a bad job. :)