Sunday, July 9, 2017

School's out for the summer

I'm a little late on the notice, but school is out for the summer. Ashley has completed her first year of "real school"in kindergarten, and Emily finished up the 3's preschool class. Both got very good reports.

So far summer has been good. We've had lots of fun times with friends--trip to the movie theater, pool swimming or YMCA lake, playdates at playgrounds, library trips, animal farms, 4th of July pool/fireworks, graduation parties, gender reveal/baby shower, and visiting with friends we don't get to see very often. They have also done a week long soccer camp, and now they are about to start a week of Vacation Bible School. It's been a nice balance of a week of some structured activity for a few hours, and some open time to do the things listed above or just have free fun playtime. I have to say, one thing I pride myself in is having some good old fashioned outside fun. We live in a world of technology, social media, tv, etc. It's a huge struggle for everyone. You hardly see kids outside playing anymore. Despite that, the girls have a lot of time just being kids--playing on swing set, riding bikes or scooters, playing soccer, playing in the pool or in the sprinkler, swinging on our new tree swing, doing sidewalk chalk, climbing trees, catching lightening bugs, etc. It's been fun. I will keep you posted as more comes up.

Now a kid update

It's been a while since I updated about the kids....

Well, it's crazy, but the school year is nearing it's end. Ashley is almost done with kindergarten. She has done a fantastic job. She's very advanced in her reading level, and is already reading chapter books. She can sound out most words, and even her attempts to spell them on her own are pretty good. She is adding, subtracting, etc. Her teacher has had nothing but good things to say about Ashley as a student.
Emily is doing great in school. She's able to identify all her letters and colors, can you tell her address and phone number, she can identify which picture is different out of a group, and can trace her name/letters very well (and can even write her name by herself). When I drop her off in the morning, all the kids (and even teachers) greet her with a warm hello. I got to go on a class trip with her a couple months back, and it was so fun to see her in her own element without her sister. She really was such a happy, confident little girl who has many friends.

Both girls are really into mastery right now. Working to improve or master different things. For instance, Ashley recently learned how to ride a two-wheel bike. She probably would have been ready sooner, but didn't get much practicing time with cold weather for months. Anyway, Grandmom had googled how to learn to ride a 2 wheeler, and they suggested that you take the pedals off the bike, and let the kids practice balancing/coasting while balancing for a little while. Once they get the hang of balance, put the pedals back on and try riding. Ashley picked it up in one day, and now already is riding so fast and well!!! She loves to practice.
Much to my surprise (but not really knowing Emily), Emily also just learned to ride a two wheeler! I had no idea 4 year olds were even capable of it!!! She is very coordinated and athletically inclined so it's not surprising. When we took Ashley's pedals off, we asked Emily if she wanted hers off too to practice balancing. She did. We left her pedals off for a week or so. She was getting quite quite good at balancing and coasting. I asked if she wanted to put the pedals back on and try riding with two wheels too. At first she said no, but then she said yes. She needs a little help starting off, but then she can do it!
Another thing that amazed me was this obstacle course we did. We went to this big mall that has a 3 story rope climbing/balance beam/obstacle course type thing to do as a family. I have always been, in psychology terms, a "high fear-avoidant" personality...aka, I avoid dangerous/risky/scary things. As I've gotten older, I've built up confidence and push myself to do things because I don't want to miss out on life and fun things. But there is NO WAY I'd EVER do that as a kid. But my kids did it (we all did as a family). I was totally amazed and proud. Emily is very much like Matt, and the complete opposite psychology term. They are fearless basically. Ashley used to be quite cautious, much like I am, but as she has gotten older she has become braver, and a really good balance--still careful/cautious at times but brave and daring at other times.
 I take some credit for their bravery. When I was a kid, my dad would really push us and almost force us to do things, and also talk sharply if we did something wrong (I'm sure out of good intentions), but would make me scared and feel unsafe in situations which increased the fear. We do not do that. Matt is fantastic--I wished I had had a dad like him sometimes. He does push them a little out of their comfort zones, but will respect the answer no if they don't want to. And if they do say yes, he is gentle, patient, and will show and take them step by step through the process. I also step in, and if they say no, I also say no. I encourage and support through action and words, but respect the answer no. So as a result, I think the girls feel safe and confident to try things, while also knowing that we will respect them and their decision if they really don't want to do something. With that reassurance, and their own inner voice of confidence, they really do fantastic.
The girls are also wrapping up karate. They really enjoyed doing that. We may return to it in the fall. Emily just signed up for gymnastics. She and Ashley (but mostly Emily) have been doing lots of flips on the playground, on our mini trampoline, they've been doing cartwheels, etc. She has been ready and wanting to do karate for a while. She just went to her first lesson and loved it.  We will see where that takes her.
Now that the weather is somewhat warmer (it has taken it's sweet old time this year, and lots of rain), we have played outside as much as possible. We stay at the school playground for about an hour after school a lot of days, then play on our swings and in our backyard a lot. Ashley has also mastered the monkey bars at school, and also enjoys doing crazy flips.
The girls have also entered the older-siblings type of relationship. Sometimes they are soooo incredibly sweet together. They can play so nicely together, and give each other sweet hugs. Ashley has done things like cover Emily's heart with her hand, to "protect her heart" while watching a show that she thought was too scary (aww). Then other times they fight and (Ashley) screams, they hurt each others feelings, etc. They are figuring out communication and problem solving (I've been trying to stay out of a lot of it and to let them figure it out, although it is hard to do when the fighting can drive you mad). Ashley can also be a bit competitive at times. Not sure if that is typical sibling rivalry, or part of her personality (she does have some issues with perfectionism and comparing with others...we're working on it).  Overall though, they do quite well.
They are both very sweet and thoughtful girls though. The other morning I got out of bed, and my slippers were sitting neatly right in front of me on the floor. Emily told me that she put them out for me so that my feet wouldn't get cold. How sweet is that??? She is very thoughtful and kind always.
Ashley also can be very sweet. We went to a party where a girl got sick and was upset. Ashley went over and totally empathized and validated her feelings. Maybe she'll be a counselor too someday ;)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Living Update

So, we have reached a verdict (at least a very high probability)--we are moving next year.

This year we did the preventative measures to "get through" the long winters for me. We went to SC in November, and Miami in February. It helped, but it didn't. February is when it starts kicking in for me. I think because in Greenville, February is when the weather starts changing and getting nicer again. Mentally and physically, I am still in the mode of readiness for change. But here, February tends to be the worst month of cold and snowstorms, and then you have at least 2 more months until it starts getting (what I consider to be) nice. Even now, it's May 12th, and we are still wearing sweatshirts everyday because the "high" is low 60s. Boo.
Going to Miami and experiencing the warmth, the flowers, the palm trees just made me crave and desire it even more. There is this Disney movie called Moana. Moana lives on her island, and they are to stay put there and never leave. She is told to love this island, and to be happy where she is with what she has. But deep inside of her, she has this inner longing and voice for wanting more, wanting to venture out. That is how I feel. I try to make the most of thing, embrace the good where I am, but deep inside of me I long for somewhere else. When we were down there taking it all in, I kept hearing Moana music in the back of my head.
Also, seeing his grandfather made me see something. Mike lived in Philadelphia for years and years. He and Dena bought the place in Miami as a vacation place to do the snowbird thing, and he eventually moved down there year round. Unfortunately, since he raised his family up north, they got rooted there. They met their spouses there, they had children and raised there families there, and now here he is living in a place he loves without any of his family. Matt and I have said that if we did stay up north, we would want to move south as soon as the girls were done in high school. No way are we staying up north after that. And I got to thinking about how we'd probably be in the same boat as Mike....the girls will have their friends, their life here, they will be rooted here. I don't want to leave my kids behind and go live miles and miles away from them. If I had to pick someone to miss, it'd be parents and siblings over my own children. We live in a transient world. People don't always stay in the area they grew up near their families anymore...but I'd at least like to live someplace that I'd be happy staying in in order to possibly be rooted near my kids...then they can make the decision to stay or leave after that.
I also had a good talk with someone who tells it how it is without any fluff. She gave me a good dose of reality, and was like "so what are you going to do, live your life as a martyr forever? You're staying there for everyone else while you're miserable". And she's right.
For the last few years I have been living here out of fear and guilt. Both have been wearing off. We have been asking grandparents to consider going down south with us (at least for part of the year) to be in our lives. They have options and choices. I also worked through fear scenarios.
I returned from Florida and was straight up bummed for weeks. Not happy to be back here with the exception of my comfy bed. Lol.
Thankfully, I have been blessed to have met some nice friends. And after 4 years, I can finally count the amount of nice people (other than good friends) on 2 hands. It's progress. I'm not as angry and depressed as I had been...but still don't love it...still don't see it being a forever place...still has the issues and problems I've mentioned....I've just learned to tolerate it better (and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing?)

So, I think we found "the place". We are looking at Wilmington/Hampstead NC. I'm not going to lie, I wasn't singing the Moana song there like I did in Florida. Lookwise and weather wise, I like parts of Florida more. However, we have more reservations about Florida. Florida seems much more volatile. The housing market is always up and then taking plunges, nicer areas get crime and riff raf when the housing market plunges. Our good friends Jim and Jen had lived in Orange Park, Florida. Now, based on looks alone, that would be my #1 choice of places to live. Picturesque looking neighborhoods, gorgeous homes that we could afford, a nice "community" feel to it. I'd move there in a heartbeat. However, with one of the housing crashes, a lot of homes went into foreclosure and sat empty. People were breaking in and living in these empty homes, which brought crime in. Jim was even followed home and held up at gunpoint. Florida is also very mixed, which isn't a bad thing since diversity can be nice, but not sure how if feel if English is the second language, eh....Also, in Jacksonville there are a lot of navy families which means lots of people in and out. We also aren't sure if it has the same "southern hospitality" like you have in the Carolinas. It's also just really far away. You'd basically have to fly up every time, and the closest person we know would be an hour and a half away.
Wilmington is still very nice. I was comparing it to Greenville since I loved it so much. To me, Greenville is still nicer looking but Wilmington is similar. Greenville really took off in the last 15 years, so everything is new and crisp and nice curb appeal. When we visited the downtown area, Ashley had said "it's so magical here". And it was/is. Wilmington also has a nice downtown area very similar to Greenville, just not as "fresh looking". When you move outside of the downtown, you have nice suburbs similar to Greenville, and then you move further out and you have an area that reminded me a lot of upstate NY--more rural, a mix of gorgeous nice neighborhoods and some lower income trailers mixed throughout (although not bad like it was in that part of Florida we visited).  But unlike Greenville, it also has 3 very nice beaches within very close proximity to you.
I also like Wilmington because it's great on paper. It's a 9/11 hour drive up north vs 11/14 hour if we needed to drive. It's an hour/hour and a half to Myrtle Beach which I love. My cousin Michelle also just bought a house there, so it's comforting knowing she's not too far away. My other cousin April and Matt's aunt Anita also have a vacation place in Myrtle, so we'd be able to see them. And Matt's friend Mike and his family live right in Wilmington, so we know someone in case of emergency. That to me is very comforting. Also, after visiting, it has all the "perks" that I loved about Greenville--the southern hospitality and friendliness, the mixture of true southerns mixed with people moving in from all over, the exact same weather, lower cost of living, similar feel, etc. Ideally, I'd love to take Greenville and plop it in Wilmington's location so I could have my friends and look, but oh well. The other great news is that it's an 4 hours and 15 minutes to Greenville. Not close-close, but close enough where we could take some weekend trips throughout the year and see our friends there more often than we do now. And it's only an hour extra than it took to Greenville for Jen and Jim's. So I really think it's great. And who knows, from what Matt's friends were telling us (they've lived there about 10 years now), the area is really booming and taking off, so in another few years it could potentially be as nice as Greenville or better. Also, I asked Matt's friends to "give it to me straight" and give me the list of pros and cons to the area. They said there haven't been any cons.
So, I think we're going to take the plunge and try it. Matt and I are both ready to go now, but we are going to give it a year. First, one good thing that has come out of living here is that our house has gone up quite a bit in value since we moved here. It's expected to keep going up, so we would like to give it another year so that it can keep going up in value, and we can use that money to pay off a good chunk of student loan and vehicle debts. Secondly, we plan to get on a very strict budget this year so that we can also pay off a good chunk of debt beforehand while Matt is making a higher salary. Third, it gives us one more year to really be sure (although honestly, we both are). Four, by next year Emily will be done with preschool, so when they both start at a new school, they can go in together which will be comforting for them. Fifth, it gets both sets of grandparents closer to retirement. Unfortunately, mom will still have one more year...but it's only a year. And she is a teacher which means she will have breaks and summers off. Lisa and Bruce are finally warming up to the idea of coming down with us, if at least part of the year. Instead of buying a beach house in Wildwood like they were thinking, they will probably buy a beach house in Wilmington.
Matt and I had recently talked about the movie The Butterfly Effect, and if there were things you could go back and change, what would you. I told him sometimes leaving Greenville is one, especially since I can't go back. I mean, we could, but I know Matt would be settling for me. And I want a place we are both happy. But sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if I never left.
But, coming here has had some major benefits. It has given me a lot of confirmation. First, I am and always will be so incredibly thankful for the time we have had with grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, and cousins while the girls were so little. I'm glad that they have had the fun times together. However, even being here it's changing. Now that Ashley is in real school, I can't go up to visit NY for more than just the weekends. Cheryl works weekends now, and her "good times" are weekdays, which is impossible for me to come up, and she has a difficult time coming here without mom (who also can't come unless it's weekends). Also, as they are getting older, they have birthday parties, activities that they're in. We are busy. We see both sides/Aunts/uncles/cousins once every 3 months or so, and I have a feeling it'd become even less as they got older. It's not like we are with them all the time.  I can't make it to my nieces preschool graduation, because it's a weekday when my kids have school and vice versa. We aren't "in each others lives" the way I had hoped.
When we lived far away, we'd see extended family once a year. Now it's twice, MAYBE 3 times due to the reasons I listed above. And even though they're closer, they're still just a little too far away to be convenient to see.
With old friends, I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the great times we had in college, but I've changed. I often feel like I'm expected to fit back into a mold that I don't fit in anymore. That I have no desire to fit in anymore.
I've seen the differences in lifestyle, people, etc. from south to (North Jersey). I know it's not what I want. I see how HARD life is here. Life was never ever this hard down south. Matt has worked like a dog since we got here, even with me working extra to help compensate. And yes, we have gone on trips and do activities sometimes that cost money, but most have been trips to try to deal with horrible weather, and we do need to live a little sometimes, especially to balance out the stressors that come with being here. It's been hard.
But I have had great family time. And I've made some nice friends. And I've helped others, both with friendships and with my job, doing what I feel God uses me to do. But I'm ready for the next chapter. I think coming back here has confirmed to me that we aren't "missing out" on as much as we were worried we were. Being here has just further clarified what I know about myself, and want/need/expect out of life.
I want a nice life with good kind people for my kids to be exposed to, where life isn't so cold (both literally and figuratively), or so hard. I want Matt and I to be happy, so we can be the best mom and dad we can be. I want my husband to be able to work less so he can actually see his kids. And I want warm weather!!!!! A beach sounds pretty awesome too!!!! ;)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Well, it's Christmas season again! I have to say, this year has been my favorite. I think I wrote that last year too...but this year is even greater. Last year we had the excitement, joy, and magic of Christmas which made it so special. This year we still have that, PLUS a new maturity of understanding that it's not just about getting things, but the real meaning of Christmas and also about giving to others.
I had a really proud mom moment when we went to see Santa. All on her own, Ashley decided that since Santa is always generous and giving to others, that she wanted to give back to him and make him a gift. So she worked hard and cut out paper snowflakes, and put them in a pretty bag to give him. Santa was so taken aback by her thoughtfulness that he said he wanted to cry, and that he would hang them up on his walls at the North Pole.
Emily's teacher also informed me that, when asked what she wanted for Christmas this year, the only thing that Emily said she wanted was a doll for her sister Ashley so she could have the same as her. She cared more about getting something for her than for herself.
Chippy, our Elf on the Shelf, is also quite the hit again this year. Ashley just LOVES Chippy. Our elf has really strong powers so we can touch and hold him. She would carry him around everywhere and would want to take him places. He helped us get our Christmas tree again this year. Ashley loves Chippy so much that her #1 Christmas gift request was a matching Elf outfit so that she could match Chippy. Because Santa was so pleased with her kind gesture, and because he wanted the girls to enjoy their elf clothing for the whole holiday season, Santa sent Chippy back with them early (as well as nightgowns with Chippy all over it).
We also had Emily's Christmas concert yesterday. I just love watching all the kids singing. Emily always does such a nice job. We still have Christmas parties coming up too!
I will definitely look back on this time with such warm, fond memories. Trying to capture and enjoy it all while I can.

Now for a quick update.
I'll start with Ashley. All I can say is wow. I am not going to lie, ages 3 and 4 (and even a little of 5) had some very challenging moments with her. There was a lot of strong willed behavior, and even arguing and opposition at times. She definitely gave me a run for my money. I don't know what happened, but recently it's like a switch went off with her. Maybe it's her age, or maybe it's starting kindergarten and having such a nice teacher and more responsibilities...but I have noticed some really incredible changes with her within the past few months. She still has her moments, like all children/humans do, but I have watched her really mature and blossom. She has really become very kind, thoughtful/considerate, more respectful to myself and to others, polite and helpful. She's at an age where you can now discuss things and reason with her. I have been so incredibly proud of her.
She has already received two notices about "being caught being respectful" at school. And just the other day she was nominated for the Pillar of Character: Responsibility. This is a special honor, where a few children are chosen from throughout the whole school to be recognized for their great character/behaviors. Their name is called over the loudspeaker, they hang her picture up in the hallway, and send home a small gift. Very proud mom (parents) here!
Ashley really has loved and thrived in kindergarten, just as I knew she would. She has a passion for learning, and school channels this for her. She is the most advanced reading level, to the point where her teacher said she doesn't want to put her too far ahead, because she doesn't want her to feel left out. She is very bright and a hard worker, although she does have a tendency to have some perfectionism at times. So both at school and at home, we encourage "good enough is good enough"--appreciating her hard work and efforts, but allowing for human error and mistakes too. And trying anyway, even if we may not be the best at something.
The only con side to kindergarten has been the adjustment to the long days. Their schedule is jam packed, with little breaks. And going from a few half days of preschool to a long, full week has been hard. Sometimes around Thursday or Friday, we tend to have a "crash"/meltdown time. So we have refrained from after school activities for now (other than Daisies girl scouts which is only 1x/month) and playdates (which I am now trying to avoid at the end of the week).
Ashley has really gotten into art. She has always enjoyed her coloring, painting and crafts. But she continues to have a passion for it. At the end of her school day, there are different stations that the kids can pick. Ashley almost always chooses painting, and comes home with these big beautiful paintings that she's made. She also enjoys beading now. In addition to art, she has enjoyed practicing writing and spelling. When the weather is decent, she also enjoys the playground and playing with friends after school as well.
Now onto Emily. She is officially 4 now! Time, please slow down! I remember when Ashley was four, and now my last "baby" is 4. We had a nice celebration--we do a family celebration on Thanksgiving, then we went to a Hibachi restaurant on her actual birthday, then we had a joint birthday celebration for her and Ashley over the weekend. Because of Emily's maturity, she and Ashley really do have the same friends. Emily keeps up and plays well with kids Ashley's age (moreso than when she plays with kids her age or younger). So the joint party works, because we'd be inviting the same set of friends twice if we kept seperate. (Plus they both get two other seperate/individual celebrations for just them). This year we stuck to the YMCA party, but we did a cupcake decorating theme. The girls loved it. They got to color their own apron and chef hat (which they got to keep), and then decorate 3 different cupcakes to take home. We had pizza, and a fun dance party. It was a good time. Our amount of friends has practically doubled since last year. We had 25 kids there (and 2 more were supposed to come).
Emily has really grown--literally. She is really tall. Last year when she turned 3, I remember needing to switch her to 4t pants because the 3s were too short. Same for this year, she turned 4 but is in 5t pants--only one pant size different from Ashley despite the 2 year age different. They are also only 1 shoe size apart. Even though I am the oldest, I am the shortest. I have a feeling this may be the case for Ashley and Emily someday. I sometimes have people ask me if they are twins even, between them being so close in size, looking similar, and again Emily keeps up/acts much older at times.
Ashley and Emily definitely have their own unique interests and personalities. For instance, Ashley loves all the art activities. Emily wants nothing to do with it. Her teacher even said she had a hard time having Emily sit down to color at first. Emily would rather be up moving and bouncing off of things (sometimes literally, haha).
Emily really enjoys dressing up (Ashley too). Emily goes back and forth from things like Spiderman, to this year wanting to be a Ninja turtle, to supeheroes, to the opposite extreme of frilly fancy dresses. She's a good balance ;)  . She loves the dresses, and heels, etc. They love to put on 6 diffent costumes at once.
Emily is also into dressing up as a ballerina and dancing. So much so that I'd like to sign her up for a dance class sometime in near future, just waiting until we acclimate to the schedule a little more. Emily enjoys physical, likes to play on scooter, play outside when weather cooperates. Although she will sit and play play-doh.
Emily also got a great report from school. She is right where she should be academically, socially, she gets along well with others and is very sweet with the teachers. She loves going to school, and always loves to give her teacher extra hugs before we leave. She also greets me by running into my arms and giving me a big hug every day which is so sweet.
She is still a momma's girl, but is also becoming a daddy's girl, always saying that she misses daddy when he's working.
My only complaint, although totally normal and probably lifelong (at least until teenage years), is the bickering between the girls at times. Half the time they are SOOOO sweet together. They think of each other when not together. The look out of each other--for instance, one time they were watching a kid show with a "scary" part. They were sitting together, and Ashley had her arm around Emily and said "don't worry mommy, I'm going to cover Emily's heart so that I can protect her heart so she won't be scared". So sweet. Then they next minute they can be fighting. Typically it's Emily istigating with Ashley, because she knows that she can get a reaction from her (Ashley goes from zero to 100 in seconds and always overreacts). But like I said, typical siblign stuff.

But life contiunes to be wonderful...and exhausting...and maddening at times...but really great and wouldn't-change-it-for-the-world kinda stuff....

Monday, September 12, 2016

1st Day of School

So I am a few days behind in posting, but wanted to share the first day of school pics and updates.

Ashley has started KINDERGARTEN!!! Her first day went very well. Due to being jet lagged and readjusting to the time change after being in Italy, I woke up very early for a few days (I.e. 3:30 am, 4:30 a.m, etc.) The one perk to that was that everything was done and ready with PLENTY of time, so there was no rushing around. It was a nice relaxed morning. We even had time to play duck duck goose a few times before leaving. Daddy started work a little later so that he could bring Ashley to school as well for her first day of kindergarten.
When we dropped her off, there were no tears for anyone (as I expected). Ashley had been slightly nervous beforehand, but the day of she reported that she was "just excited". We ran into several of her friends--some from preschool, and a couple who were already at Manito Elementary School. Her friend Amanda had Ashley's teacher (Mrs. Woodward) last year, so she came up and reassured Ashley that her teacher was so nice. Her other older friend, Morgan, gave her a big hug. Lots of smiles and excitement the morning of. Ashley's friend, Gianna (our neighbor) is in Ashley's class. She struggles with anxiety and was crying, and Ashley was actually talking to her and trying to comfort her. It was sweet. Anyway, we did our hugs and kisses goodbye, packed her a special note for her first day, and left.
I didn't cry or get emotional either. There is a little intimidation about her entering the "real school" with bigger kids, more exposure to hearing and seeing things. Having to let go of that protection and innocence bubble she's been in. But I think that is where the God piece comes in, and knowing God's got this. And I also one who believes in having open and honest conversations with kids (in an age-appropriate way), and I already told Ashley that if she hears or sees anything that she's not sure about, that I'm always here to talk about it with her. I also encouraged her to listen to her intuition, that God connection, and listen to that wise voice within that tells her right from wrong. So I feel pretty ok with the letting go piece.
Also, Ashley is just plain ready. She has been ready for a long time. She is very bright. She loves and thrives on learning new things. She's ready for more--longer days and more information. She is ready for a little distance from her mom and sister so much. So I was excited for this new chapter for her.

Emily had a great first day of preschool at OLPH (3's class) too. I was a little more nervous for her, only because we had been away for 10 days on our Italy trip, and only saw her the day before school started. The day before, I took her to the meet and greet visit at school where she could meet her new teachers (Mrs. Pfeiffer and aid) and see her new classroom. Due to me being away, Emily was pretty clingy to me and didn't even want to say hello to the teacher. She was also really sad because she wanted her old teachers Mrs. Ham and Mrs. Kant back.
However, Emily had a great first day. Her teacher said she was happy, followed directions and played nicely. She even said that her friend Sammy was having a sad first day, and Emily cheered him up. Emily was also giving her teacher a hug by the end, and told me that she was nice and liked her.