Tag: <span>mommy blog</span>

Biggest milestone: kindergarten! The best part is getting to attend with his 2 cousins AND it’s a Vietnamese/English immersion program thru 6th grade. Seven full years of homework in two languages. Not only is it a HUGE challenge for him but also for us. We’ll need to assist him with all his studies. Plus is that it will also reinforce our understanding of Vietnamese. Hoping all our efforts will be well worth it in the end.

Nolan has definitely started becoming more opinionated and independent. Started off the school year wearing sweat pants everyday. Comfort was definitely key. It then evolved into preferring to dress himself and you can guess how that turned out. Against mommy’s wishes he tucks his jeans into his socks and tucks his shirt into his pants. Loves to wear turtlenecks and ripped jeans. The love of turtlenecks has his dad and I dubbing him “Steve Jobs”. Nolan wore his black turtleneck at least once a week to school. If we got around to doing laundry mid-week he’d totally sneak in a 2nd wear. Crazy silly kid! We really hope it’s just a short-lived phase and won’t continue into 1st grade.

Overall he’s done great in school (excels in math), is a wonderful big brother, developed a LOVE for Pokemon and is mostly a great son that doesn’t give us too much heartache/headaches (yet). Since he’s great overall (and the oldest) we set the bar pretty high and sometimes have to remind ourselves to take a step back so that we’re not so tough on him. Let him be a kid while he’s still a kid. It won’t be too long until he’s a teen that won’t be as openly silly or crazy with us so we’ll soak up and enjoy every second of it. So proud of our little guy and love watching him grow and learn and lead the way for his siblings.

Summer adventures in Tulum, Sequoia and the beaches before hitting Kindergarten with Quinn and Lorelai.

October is always so festive. Nolan chose Batman for his Halloween costume.

New year, new ride. Last year he received a bike for Christmas; this year a power wheels racer.

Spring time adventures around town at museums, parks, beaches and the aquarium.

More spring fun at Easter mass, the flower fields in Carlsbad and strawberry picking at Tanaka Farms. See the bottom right photo with his denim jeans tucked into his socks??!!

He’s so silly now. Could not get him to stand still for a decent photo. Mostly Fort Night inspired moves.

His shirt says it all. That is all we ever hear from his mouth nowadays–everything POKEMON!
My big guy is 6!


Being a mom for 5 years was both an eternity and a blink of an eye. You’ve all probably heard the saying “the days are long but the years are short”. Of course we constantly yearn for more quality time with our kids. We could always work less, put down that phone for just 10 minutes, stop watching that show and watch them explore. With 3 kids now its even tougher. Reflecting back on the last 5 years I’ll definitely make an effort to be more present. Good news is I’ve already started those first steps of being more present by limiting the number of photography gigs I pick up. It’s probably 3x as less as compared to 3 years ago. I’ve come a long way to really putting my family as well as my sanity/health first.

As for Nolan, my dear boy is as inquisitive, talkative and silly as ever. He’s just so excited about the world and can’t wait to tell me every single little thought he has every single second of the day. You can see where I’m headed there so you can only guess the amount of energy and patience we have lately to keep up with his million mile a second brain waves. All in all, we’ve been SUPER DUPER blessed that God made him our son. He’s generally pretty well behaved, not at all crazy/wild, very protective of his siblings and I think pretty thoughtful. Couldn’t have asked for a better role model for Brandon and Harlow. Happiest of birthdays to the kid who made us parents. We will forever cherish you, love you, support you–even if you do start getting wild later in life and push us away. We’ll be right here like we always have since day 0.

A chronological photo recap from the time he turned 4 up until 5.

Summertime fun.

Our do-it-yourself wedding anniversary family photos.

He had so much fun chasing this chicken. Even spectators were laughing at his fun. You think this is him chasing “chicks” in the future?!?

On top of the world gazing at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

October traditions at local pumpkin patches.

We always have so much fun at Rancho Las Lomas on Halloween. Might be the last year we go since both Nolan and Brandon are in school.

All dressed up for family holiday photos.

December traditions with a visit to Santa and Disneyland.

One day he’s going to be totally self conscious and not be this openly silly with us. For now I will enjoy it all!

Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

New Years Eve celebrations. I love all his poses!!

Nolan is enamored with space. Had a great time at the Griffith Observatory.

Traditional Valentine’s Day photos.

Lunar New Year festivities

Adventures in San Francisco at the Color Factory and Union Square.

Nolan gathered about 100 eggs for Easter.

Chillin’ at Venice Beach for Memorial Day.

Quality time at Disneyland on his birthday. Fun fact: he shares a birthday with my sister, Julie.


Happiest of birthdays to our big little man!! We can’t believe he’s already 3 and starting school soon—waaaahhhh!!! At 3 Brandon qualifies for public special education pre-school and he’s slated to begin in about a month. We’re happy but also super anxious. Happy that he’ll be in a new structured environment that will hopefully help him make more gains than just being in 1:1 therapy sessions. So very anxious because he’s never actually been anywhere without parental supervision. He’s very rarely in anyone else’s care so you can see we have major trust issues sending him off to strangers a few hours a day let alone to my parents for an hour. It’s not like he can come home and communicate to us that someone did this or that to him or explain a situation that made him unhappy. Of all the kids we understandably worry about him the most.

Over the last year Brandon has made small advances that are HUGE in our eyes. His mental and physical level is still very much an infant of 6-8 months. He’s starting to army crawl a lot better, become very voiceful when he is unhappy, can’t yet sit up on his own and actually a lot better with eye contact. We think he’s starting to recognize us as well as Nolan and Harlow as familiar voices and faces in his life. For the longest time he would be very bothered by Harlow’s presence/noises, but he has started to tolerate her so much better in the last month. I would like to think he actually has an affinity for her now–kind of like a love/hate relationship typical of any siblings. Brandon is strictly on pureed foods still and cannot feed himself or hold his own bottle. At least his gagging and vomiting has reduced greatly compared to the previous year and can now chew on the soft puff snacks so much better. We’re very hopeful that he will make a ton of progress this coming year and are very excited to see him build relationships with his teachers and classmates.

Thanks for keeping up with Brandon and for reading this far already! We hope you enjoy a photo recap of his 2nd year of life below.

Trip to Legoland.

Annual Easter photo with the scary bunny.

Exploring LA.

Seven Magic Mountains outside of Las Vegas.

Tulip fields in Oregon.

4th of July 2017

Annual cousins bonfire day in Huntington Beach.

Quick trip to Yosemite and Sonora.

Pumpkin patch fun in Irvine.

Halloween at Rancho Las Lomas. This was the highlight of Brandon’s year getting to be the King of the Iron Throne.

Annual holiday trip to Disneyland.

Holiday festivities with the family.

Celebrating the new year.

Visit to the Griffith Observatory. Nolan pushing Brandon around to look at the exhibits.

Valentine’s Day fun that resulted in a pretty great image of the 3 siblings.

Celebrating the Lunar new year the day before his 3rd birthday.


Happy 1st birthday to our precious Harlow!! Since she was just a few months old I was already planning out her birthday party. Many of you close to me know that I absolutely love Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Not only because she doesn’t judge a book by it’s cover (seeing beauty within), but also for her love of reading. The idea spiraled from Belle which I thought was already done enough, especially with the release of the movie, into the idea of books as party favors into the “Reading Rainbow” as many of us oldies grew up with. Check out the in-home (in our dining room) photoshoot we set up for her. It’s my first time shooting indoors like this since my forte is natural, outdoor settings but this idea clicked for me. Knowing that January had generally rainy weather I opted to try it plus I had the ease of a controlled environment that I could work on at my own pace. It may have lacked the natural light that I love to have in my images but in the end I was satisfied enough with how it turned out and hope she will cherish these images for many, many years. I had a fun time pulling it altogether. It was winged in bits and pieces so it is all the more satisfying seeing it all come together like this.

Her dress is made from a king-sized vintage pillowcase that I purchased on eBay. I had a local seamstress replicate a dress that I had seen online.
vintage rainbow dress

Laser cut cake topper from Happily Ever Etched. Cake from Bite Sized Catering. I spray painted the gray legs of our IKEA high chair to match the gold decor.
happily ever etched laser cut cake topper

Gigantic confetti and “one” balloon from Oh Shiny Paper Co (Etsy). Bar cart from World Market. LED light box, H marquee, gold cake stand and mini succulents from Target.
oh shiny paper co confetti balloon

Waterfall rainbow backdrop made of 150 yards of tulle (25 yards of each color).
rainbow tulle waterfall

rainbow themed first birthday photoshoot

It’s like what everyone says:¬†“every kid is different”. We were used to the boy thing so Harlow was a pleasant surprise. Much feistier than her brothers and very demanding/impatient. She gets “hangry” like any other female I know and very grumpy when sleepy like every other Vu girl in my family. She may be feisty but she’s scared of some of the oddest things: some animated cartoon animals, animated animal toys (yes, even a Fingerling while it’s awake) and gigantic balloons (after it shrinks to a certain size she’s ok with it).

What opened our eyes the most was her growing relationship with Nolan. With Brandon being developmentally delayed Nolan had never gotten a chance to have a sibling to play and interact with. We as parents never got to experience the joys of seeing siblings playing so well together. I never understood why my mom always said “It brings me so much joy to see you and your siblings hanging out and getting along.” I do now!! For the last few years it’s always been Nolan in his own world and Brandon in his own. Now that Harlow is crawling around the house and getting into everything Nolan is so interested in playing and interacting with her–showing her the world that he knows. He puts aside his toys so he can spend time “hanging out” with her. Nolan has a playmate!! It warms our hearts so much b/c he is gung-ho all-in about keeping her occupied for us so we can cook, clean or do laundry. He’ll get her the pacifier, a toy, a blanket, a snack or just play with her each and every time we ask AND he’s happy to do it. Nolan would say “we’re a team, we’re a family, we help each other”.

Yes, deciding on having a 3rd kid on top of Brandon’s developmental delay was a tough adjustment, but it was by far the best thing we could have done for our family. Our hope is for Brandon to progress far enough to enjoy the company of his siblings as they do with each other now.¬†Imagine it: feisty little Harlow out in the world advocating for big brother Brandon and keeping big brother Nolan in line and on his toes.

We had an awesome, fun-filled first year watching Harlow grow and showing her the world. We hope you do as well reliving it thru our eyes with a short picture story recap below.

The obligatory monthly growth photo collage. She’s wearing Baby Bling Bows.
baby bling bows on 12 months of baby girl

At a month old she visited the “love” wall in Culver City for Valentine’s Day.
love wall culver city

With the scary Easter Bunny at Crystal Court South Coast Plaza.
easter bunny scp

Vegas, baby, Vegas!!
las vegas

Flew to Portlandia to do some site seeing at the tulip fields, Multnomah Falls and the Grotto.
portland tulip fields
portland multonomah falls the grotto

4th of July

Summer time adventures at the Terramor Water Park, Huntington Beach, DTLA and the OC Zoo.

Baptized at Christ Cathedral.

Explored a cute mining town in Sonora.

First national park visit to Yosemite.
Yosemite National Park Glacier Point

Pumpkin Patchin’ thru October at Johnson Bros and Tanaka Farms.
pumpkin patch OC

Transformed into a unicorn for Halloween festivities at Rancho Las Lomas.
baby unicorn costume

Traveled to the desert for the lantern lights festival.
lights fest

Checked Disneyland off the bucket list.
disney california adventure

Paid Santa a visit at Crystal Court South Coast Plaza.
santa crystal court scp

First Christmas with the fambam.

Rang in 2018 with the cousins.
2018 new year


I’ve got the all the typical mommy guilt for baby #2. Brandon doesn’t get a single blog post until he turns 1. For comparison, Nolan had weekly updates–even a 2nd birthday blog post AFTER Brandon was born. Anyhow, I digress–can’t remember the exact date of the appearance of his first tooth. I just know it was in August around 6 months of age–at a year old he’s got 4 teeth.¬† He dresses in pj’s on most days where older bro dressed up like a little person every day of his life. Brandon gets all the hand me downs though I have tried to buy him a few new pieces of clothing for special appearances. The biggest guilt by far is that Brandon’s clocked in more television watching time than Nolan ever has; mind you it’s not like a TON but it’s significantly more than Nolan. Life just got a bit crazy and we needed an easy “babysitter” during those tough times. All I have to say is, I’m sorry my sweet Brando. It’s not that we love you any less. Life is just so much harder to juggle with 2 little ones to care for. We can’t give you the same undivided attention we gave your big bro but rest assured we love you just as much. We may seem a little more excited when Nolan reaches new milestones since he’s the very first to do pretty much EVERYTHING, but we are just as excited and proud when you reach those same ones. You add more love, more excitement and more craziness to our lives and we couldn’t be any happier. We can’t wait for you to sit, to crawl and walk so you can interact and play with Nolan more. You two already have such a strong brotherly connection and it completely melts our hearts for us to watch the moments you two share in a day. Your dad loves you, your big bro loves you–WE ALL LOVE YOU! Happy 1st birthday my sweet Brandon!! Can’t wait to celebrate at your big party this weekend.


Here’s a short video compilation of his first year of life. You’ll see that it is quite evident the bond Nolan and Brandon already share.

Brandon was so sick today! With a fever and cold it is quite arguably the worst birthday ever. We could not get him to smile or laugh for the camera, let alone enjoy his cake smash. Hoping he’ll be better for Sunday’s festivities. And if his first outfit looks familiar–it’s b/c it should! We thought it’d be neat to dress him in the same outfit Nolan did at his 1st birthday photoshoot.

brandon 1 year old birthday photoshoot
brandon 1 year old birthday photoshoot
brandon 1 year old birthday photoshoot
brandon 1st birthday
brandon 1st birthday
brandon 1st birthday cake smash

Let me address the elephant in the room: why is Brandon in a bumbo and not sitting on his own? He’s actually behind–unable to sit, crawl, stand or walk yet and is in physical therapy to help with that. He’s only recently started to do well rolling and playing on his belly. Our hope is to have him sitting in a couple months and perhaps walking by the time he turns 2. Thank you for your concerns and well wishes!!