Tag: thao vu photography

I can’t believe my sweet Brandon is turning 2. His condition has kept him so purely innocent making every laugh, every smile, every little bit of progress he makes that much more joyous to see. Sure, his condition is in plain sight a handicap but it has taught us so many priceless life lessons that no money can buy, no textbook or professor can teach. We are better people because him and we want to thank God and Brandon for that.  We truly can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for him. Happiest of birthdays my darling!!

(if you’d like to read more detail on his condition and our thoughts on it you can catch it at the bottom of the blog post after the images)


Recap of the last year with Brandon. Video is strictly from cellphone footage.

LACMA Rain Room for Daddy’s birthday.

Photos with his cousins and grandpa.

Visiting with the Easter bunny.

Trying some ice cream at the beach.

Announcement that he’ll be a big brother to a little sister.

Trip to Japan. If he wasn’t in the stroller, he’d be forward facing in the carrier. Rob was a champ carrying him like that because he is not a light kid to be putting that kind of stress on your back but it had to be done.

Visited a cat cafe. We would be out all day so having the tablet with Little Baby Bum videos to entertain him was a lifesaver. Probably the most challenging thing was the food situation (Brandon still only eats pureed foods). We only packed enough baby food for half the trip. There was plenty of luggage allowance to pack for the entire trip but were there enough adult hands to push a stroller and roll an extra suitcase of food around for 2 weeks? NO. So we were constantly in search of Japanese baby food.

At the infamous Fushimi-Inari Shrine in Kyoto. A ton of steps means its not very stroller friendly so we only got to see a small portion of it.

Napping in a beautiful part of Kyoto and at the awesome Osaka Aquarium with the whale shark.

Annual holiday family photo session.

Annual visit to Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch. Always a ton of fun!


Wore his brother’s hand-me-down chicken costume from 2 years prior.

Holidays at Disneyland is a must.

Keeping with tradition we visited Santa at the Crystal Court.

Christmas Eve with mommy’s family featured again with grandparents and cousins.

Became a big brother to Harlow.

Valentine’s Day shenanigans.


Turning 2!!! And sitting better on my own.

Shortly after Brandon’s 1st birthday we found out from the neurologist that he has hypotonic cerebral palsy which explains exactly why at a year old he had yet to babble, sit, crawl or walk. Basically, Brandon seems to constantly be in a relaxed state because his cerebellum was damaged before birth. They describe it as a “rag doll” look so you’ll see that he has trouble sitting up straight and lack hand and leg coordination. Cognitively he is also behind and estimated to be at about a 6-7 month old and still eats pureed foods since his tongue and mouth control has yet to develop that far. His eye sight was also affected so at just 14 months old he already started wearing glasses.

For me, the gravity of the effect his condition would have on the rest of our lives did not totally hit until 6 months after his diagnosis. For the first 6 months I just thought he’d always eventually “catch-up” to all the other kids his age, but in reality he will progress at a snail’s pace and one day stop progressing altogether. Where will he stop? We won’t know until we get there because every case is unique, every child different in how this mystery illness affects them. Because his progress is so slow every little bit of progress he makes puts us in awe and has us jumping for joy. Now with a year of physical and occupational therapy gone by he has yet to get himself into a sitting position but when put there, can sit on his own for a few minutes; still doesn’t babble or crawl or walk. The professionals can’t give us an estimated age of when he ever will do these things because again, each case is so different. Brandon’s still light enough for me to carry but there will come a day when he will be too heavy for me so it will be his dad who carries him everywhere–his own personal Hodor if you will (Game of Thrones reference).

I’m not going to lie, every child I see his age (or younger even) I yearn for him to be doing the exact same thing: walk unsteadily up/down the aisles at the store, sit in a shopping cart, sip from a straw, say “mama” a million times to get my attention, crawl around the house getting into mischief, self feed a snack, wave hi/bye, hold his own bottle, sit unassisted on the carousel ride, flip pages of a book, use a spoon, blow out his birthday candle, share bath time with a sibling. Yes, we currently give 3 separate baths right now!! It’s kind of funny thinking back to when he was born 2 years ago I remember saying to myself in reassurance that “it’s only 2 baths for probably 6 months, then they can start bathing together.” Two years later I am thinking the same thing that in 6 months maybe he can start bathing with his brother, heck maybe we’ll go from 3 baths down to 1!! So like any mother, I have hopes and dreams for my child, but mine for Brandon are the most basic things that many of us take for granted on a daily basis.

I bet people wonder this all the time and can’t get themselves to ask us but knowing his condition, why did we choose to have a 3rd kid and why so soon? Remember that I got pregnant shortly after we got his diagnosis so the gravity of it didn’t quite hit me yet plus we’ve always wanted 3 or 4 kids AND I’m not getting any younger so we had to have kids now or never. Even with knowing Brandon’s diagnosis as we know it today, we’d still would have wanted a 3rd child. We accepted his condition pretty quickly, didn’t let the weight of it linger or drown us into depression and self pity, but instead took action to get him the help he needed right away. It does hold us back at times but we find ways to keep on doing what we would despite his condition (like travel to Japan with 2 kids and while I was pregnant). God also blessed us with Nolan who in our eyes stands to lose out on the most because our priority and focus is constantly on Brandon. He has been nothing but patient, sweet and loving with his baby brother. Gets him to laugh like no one else can, retrieves his pacifier when he’s crying; reads him books at bedtime, relinquishes tablet screen time for him. I don’t think any typical 3 year old would be able to stand thru the jealousy that would easily manifest from a situation like this–let alone now having to share time with 2 other siblings. Nolan has nothing but love for both his siblings–truly been a Godsend!

Our ultimate goal is that Brandon can be as independent as possible when he comes of age. Even if he can’t walk at least be able to feed himself, communicate to a certain degree and be able to perform tasks that can enable him to hold a job someday. For now, we will keep at his 4 therapy sessions per week to give him the best chances of progressing as far as possible. If anyone has any experience, thoughts or advice to share we’d love to hear it! Thanks for listening!

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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.

brandon_12months

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!!

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Dear Nolan,

I may have dubbed you the rudest awakening to my life a year ago, but you are so very far from that. Yes, I may have needed to learn to become more efficient than I already was. I even gave up weekly manicures, my love for reading books and a handful of TV shows just to have enough time to work 2 jobs and spend time with you. But those weekly manicures, good reads and awesome television shows have nothing on that sweet giggle of yours. To hear you laugh, to see you light up and smile is the best thing that God has given me. It’s cliche to say but you opened up a whole new kind of love I never knew existed in me. I only wish that I knew of it sooner. I pray that God will bless me with many more children so that they can also witness your giggles, your smiles, your sweet personality. Life surprises us with so many unexpected things and you are the most unexpected happiness of all. Thank you for allowing me to be your mommy and to get to watch you grow, smile and spread that contagious laugh for the world to see is the best thing that I can ever ask for. I promise to be the best mommy that I possibly can; to listen, to teach, to comfort and guide you. There’s so much more to life with you that I am looking forward to experiencing. I hope we have many, many wonderful years of great memories together. And you can bet I will be there to capture the memories!

Love you with all my heart!
-mommy

hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon 1st birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon 1st birthday photoshoot

I started planning Nolan’s 1st birthday photoshoot ever since we got back from Europe. Not sure how I stumbled upon the idea but after searching thru Pinterest the concept was locked down: Nolan riding a hot air balloon! I had to find a suitable basket, a large enough balloon, a pilot beanie and a few other props to round out the theme. I had my cousins make me the “N” and number “1”–they are quite talented!! Just last week I had no idea they made balloon nets big enough for 36″ balloons! It was a lifesaver since I had no clue how to hold down the balloon beautifully; I was so close to buying a fishing net to cut up to my own specs. The tissue poms on the basket took me about an  hour to make. Again, it was a lot of hard work but it was all worth it for my little guy.

It’s been a bittersweet run with these weekly blog posts. I think in a month from now I may start to miss these weekly photoshoots and updates, but no fear! I will try to post a blog once a month so its really not a good-bye but a “see you less often” kind of deal. Thanks to everyone who kept up with us. We’re happy to have shared in our first year of parenthood and adventure with Nolan. We survived and we will continue to conquer life one day at a time. First thing’s first: his 6 shots and blood draw is tomorrow morning. Wish us luck!! See you later everyone!!

A few behind the scenes shots from the photoshoot.
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot
hot air balloon birthday photoshoot

Thanks to Quang, Nancy and Kortney who all came along to help us with the shoot. It went a lot more smooth with extra hands. We had Quinn join for a few obligatory shots to capture the memories for the kiddos. The cousins will appreciate it much later in life.

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My belated reflection on 2013:

Through the first half of the year I was prepping our lives for an addition to our family. Little did I know I was in for quite a rude awakening. Being pregnant, gaining weight, avoiding alcohol, giving up sushi+oysters and waddling around was the easiest part. I truly was not prepared for the 2nd half of 2013 when Nolan made his debut. For the first 2 months I felt as if he was the rudest thing to happen to me. In an instant this tiny little person demanded my attention (and my husband’s) nearly 24/7. Didn’t he know I had other priorities that were also quite pressing that don’t just disappear when he appeared? And that mommy likes to sleep probably just as much as he does? How rude! It took me forever to grasp that my old life was gone for good, my old routine and lifestyle a thing WAY in the past. Only when he started to show that he recognized me and my voice did I start to grow a true attachment to him. It was an instantaneous moment of realization that I so truly loved him with all my heart and being; that nothing else in the world mattered more than he did. Of course with that realization, complications arose. I had to adjust my priorities and make some very hard decisions for his sake. I’m taking on A LOT less photography gigs to ensure that I have plenty of quality time with him. I do not want to look back with regrets on missing out on the most important parts of his life. He’s only a baby for so long, so pure and innocent and completely honest that I’m just basking and soaking it all up now for as long as I can.

We’re still getting used to this new lifestyle. It’s funny that when we think we’ve found a good routine something new with Nolan happens and we find ourselves adjusting again. Everyday still brings on challenges; with that new things to learn and more things to share as first time parents.  I’m still agitated that our rooms are in a constant state of disorganization.  I want so badly to have a day or 2 or 3 to organize everything. I still really miss getting lost in a book for hours on end for days at a time.  I used to come and go as I please but now every thing we do revolves around the little dude. I still don’t get how one little person can demand so much of 2 grown people but I guess something that brings us so much joy and love deserves that kind of attention.

7 month old baby boy thao vu photography

7 month old baby boy thao vu photography

Nothing can take the place of the love this little guy has taken up in my heart.
On a side note: can you see all the hair regrowing sticking up on my head? Such an eyesore but all for that little cutie.
7 month old baby boy with mommy

Just me and my little guy.
7 month old baby boy with mommy

Auto Awesome video!! Watch how Nolan spends his day on his 7 month birthday riding in his new rear facing big boy seat, falling asleep in it, going to the office with mommy, having his photoshoot there and chilling with Aunt Anh and Uncle Ken.

So what’s new in parenthood? Baby food making and a convertible car seat.

We started making baby food for Nolan a couple weeks ago. The Baby Brezza was what we first purchased since it seemed to be the better of the 2 baby food makers that was available at our local Target. It cooks and blends all in one step which made it super convenient for this busy momma. After a few tries with butternut squash and apples we found that the food was inconsistent and chunky which made Nolan gag. Quite odd to us since he loves apples. Rob took the foods and blended them further with our own Magic Bullet which made a huge difference! The food came out a lot more smooth and consistent, no chunks. Nolan enjoyed it much more after the Magic Bullet did it’s “magic”. Needless to say we will be returning the Baby Brezza and just sticking to our own Magic Bullet. Plus, the Baby Brezza cost twice as much as a Magic Bullet. No brainer! I may have to boil the foods separately before blending but that’s ok. As long as Nolan’s happily eating what we make him, it saves us money and it’s healthier for the guy–both a win win in our books. How often does Nolan eat solids? We feed him 3x a day and he eats about 3-4oz in each sitting. The first 2 meals is exclusively food that we’ve made for him. His last meal of the day is a mix of oatmeal baby cereal with home made food.

magic bullet vs baby brezza for baby food making

We’ve been looking into the “perfect” convertible car seat for Nolan. What does “convertible” mean? A top-down sort of deal? No. It means the car seat can be used rear facing or front facing. It’s recommended that children are rear faced for as long as possible (up to 2 years if you can get your child to do so). It is the safest position they can be in if involved in any kind of accident. We were juggling between the Radian Diono RXT and the Clek Foonf. We didn’t get to test both out so we relied heavily on reviews. We liked them primarily for their high safety ratings, narrow design to fit 3 across in a standard size car, high weight capacity and cup holder add-on. We ended up getting an Amazon Warehouse deal on the Clek Foonf. It may have been an open box item, but it was pretty much brand new and untouched, plus we got it for about $80 less than retail. We were sold on the Clek Foonf since it is one of the newest and safest car seats on the market. With the anti-rebound bar and REACT safety system I am completely assured that Nolan will be as safe as can be in an accident. Plus it looks like a tank. Did I mention that every part of it is recyclable?? Nolan seems to like it since he can see out the window a lot easier now. We’re still in need of a 2nd one for my car so we might test out other seats or get a 2nd Foonf. I admit that it’s on the pricier end so please do your own research and see what fits best for your car, your child and lifestyle.

7 month old baby boy in clek foonf car seat

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