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Author Archives: Elyse

Elyse Cardon based in Virginia, specializes in newborn, children and family custom portrait photography.

No words. | Virginia Beach Photographer

Today, I witnessed something remarkable.  There are not many things in life that are true surprises… Expectant parents say that all the time when choosing to wait the long 40 weeks until they find out if they have a girl or a boy.  I do feel that way… but occasionally I am surprised and rewarded with people who are remarkable and able to show it.

It is a truly a great sight to behold when people follow their passions and under no circumstances feel satisfied with the completion of their goals.  Rather, they choose the road that is less taken, and the one that will be an adventure at every turn.

Our five year old son, repeated the Pre-K class at our school (Strelitz Early Childhood Center), because his birthday happens to be right about at the cut-off, so we made the decision to have him begin Kindergarten next year (and never looked back!).  We also made the decision along with the head of our pre-school and his teachers, that it would be in his interest to actually repeat with the same teachers… and (after we screamed with glee!) …we never looked back.

These teachers know how to plug our children in, sync them, and charge their batteries for LIFE!  At a time that is just at the turning point where people seem to retain memories, I pray and hope that our little people will remember their Pre-K teachers and what they learned because if they learn nothing else a day in their lives, they will have been taught all they need to know.

We started the night in the “active lab” where one of those awesome smart-board/active-boards took center stage with a compilation slideshow of the years activities. (After four times with this teacher, I knew to expect that at the very least):) The lead teacher, always humble, was genuinely excited and READY for the sharing to begin.  After a brief overview of what was to come, she explained that the theme of the night was CHIHULY, the artist, and then she gave a little explanation on how they came around to learning about him.  She may start with an idea, but then as the school year begins, and the children open up, she insists they develop their love of learning by discussing, inquiring, researching and does everything and anything to guide and engage them in the discovery.

Tonight, we entered their classroom, AKA “The Museum” after each child got to cut their own ribbon blocking the doorway… The lights were off, we were able to tour around the exhibits which were just absolutely spectacular and frankly, I think Dale Chihuly himself would have been blown away.

What may seem like a far cry from traditional sit-at-a-desk-pre-K-education makes me feel like screaming from the rooftops- How much more information could one kid hold… all while racing to the top, to be our future leaders.  I am so pleased with the results of today, that I decided to share the excitement here… and while these are iPhone snapshots (oh gosh they are horrible), the immense amount of work that went into this presentation cannot even be described using pictures (good, bad or otherwise) or words… if you could only have seen it first hand.

My only sadness comes from knowing that my children will be hard-pressed to label a more brilliant team of teachers and year of education and lord knows, they have a whole lot of years ahead of them.

Thank you from our WHOLE CLASS and from our WHOLE HEART.  Elyssa and Jacquie – thank you for charging our children with creativity, individuality, camaraderie, reading, writing, math, unbreakable souls and all the incredible values that you exemplify in being a friend, a leader and just being remarkable.  I wish we could clone you… all children should experience your gift.

ps. I REPEAT!!!! PLEASE FORGIVE THE HORRIBLE iphone photos! I ran out of the house without the real camera, and well, let’s just say we were glad to be there on time.

***Guess who went back into the classroom today with her real camera!! Feel free to check out a slightly better tour of the classroom here:

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Calling all Beautiful Mothers. This means you. | Virginia Beach Family Photographer

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.

I see you.

The real you- The you with twinkles in your eyes and love in your heart.

I see your children too.

And guess what?

Your children see what I see… The rest of us see what they see.

The most beautiful woman in the world.

That alone should be reason enough to get in the picture with the family that YOU created.

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Words to Live By | Norfolk Family Photographer

It is a rainy day here in Virginia Beach.  I would like to share some personal thoughts here on the blog. Don’t be shy- I am feeling a little over-exposed here, so if you are so inclined to let me know you are reading this… please feel like you can.


On April 12, 1997, I was 25 years old when my father took his last breath.  I was angry. I was bewildered. I was speechless. I sit here with tears streaming down my cheek… the tears take the same path each time. If I had not been living prior to that moment, I had a crash course in it that tragic day.

They were 20 and 21 at their June wedding.

My professional dance career came to a screeching halt, daily crosswords became my vice. I sat depressed, scanning the Chesapeake bay for answers, awaiting my mother’s return from work.  I had left home my sophomore year of high school, been living on my own for ten years. Thought I had achieved my dreams… and I had.  But for what?  To see my family a handful of times a year?  To have my parents & sister patiently waiting backstage after a Saturday night show, so that we could grab a super late dinner, force them to replay every single step, as if that was even possible… only for them to drive the two hours home.  Instead of feeling like I had achieved something, I sat in his recliner, at a house I never really knew, feeling like I had missed everything.

Chronic pain developed over my breastbone… after a few days, it hurt to breathe. It seemed to come regularly, it was a lot of pressure.  I saw many doctors, had various adjustments, and after a few weeks it eased off.  After a few years, I noticed not how it would happen- but when.  It would quietly enter mid-March, get really horrible around March 31st (the same day he was rushed to the ER)… then begin to wane.

During those early years, the final two weeks of his life replayed constantly… a recurring nightmare… except I never woke up.  I’d go over the final days with a fine-tooth comb, knit-picking e-v-e-r-y little moment, wondering what if? If I’d been more aware, stronger, something… anything…just… I don’t know… just more. Those days still sound like heavy rain pounding on a tin roof in my brain.

I watched my mother, my sister.  I watched his father, his sister…many friends of the family…doctors.  He was my person, my family,  my people… As I watched each of them deal (or not exactly deal) with something SO not even close to being in any of our control, I realized that this one person was one step away from each of us.  Our  lives quite varied,  he was this groups common bond.  He was the center, he was our role model, we each needed him and we each stood an arms reach away… Had it been a dance, we would have made a star.

I am about 9 years old here, same age as my oldest daughter, Bella.

It is 2013, and the dreaded month is here.  The annual physical pain no longer forces the same pressures onto my heart… In some ways, its absence scares me altogether.  Perhaps because my life is now so full, in joining with my amazing husband and creating our four special people.  I try to look back and understand what they (my parents) went through raising us… how they taught me, and was it effective?  David and I do a decent job ad-libbing in our never-rehearsed show.  We periodically tell the kids that we really have no idea what we are doing.  (What I want to scream is, “How come no one can make ME a peanut butter and jelly!!!???? When did I become the parent???!!”) 

Then I think if “my people” each raised their arms, one step away from me… we would make a star.

I heard an inspiring talk the other night on the topic of being parents as role models.  One has the ability to make a change, to make a difference in a child’s life no matter how young or how old.  You are the parent until you are no longer the parent… and a child can always learn from the parent.  It doesn’t really matter if you can’t teach an old dog… because we are not dogs.  It is not too late! We are their whole world…

It is never too late… unless, of course, it is too late.

Here I am about 3, and my father must be about 29.

Ironically, my elderly dog, Sofi, just came up to me and gently nudged me with her nose… she hasn’t done that in a long time.


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