Our girl’s trip to the mall was so much fun. For the locals, yes I did figured out that the carousal at Citrus Park Mall, not International Plaza! We still had fun and will go to that one soon! It’s been exciting for all of us to watch as Anika experiences so many things for the first time. Yesterday we took a beach trip together as a family. Even though Anika had never been to the beach, she has seen it on TV and knew what to expect. In fact most of her experiences have been that way- living through television and books. Although she does not have a lot of life experiences, she is highly intelligent and is well socialized. God had kept her in a little bubble until she could get to her “real” family.

Anika’s first trip to Wal-Mart was with the social worker. She couldn’t believe it. Her mouth was open the entire time and she was like – “WOW!” (That’s pretty much my reaction every time I go there)!!! Anyway, her first trip to the grocery store was with us. Her first time at a restaurant was with us. I, Adelaine and Anika got all dressed up and went to my personal favorite (Adelaine’s too), Maggiano’s Little Italy in Tampa. It was the perfect place for a “first” if I do say so myself. Elbows off the table, napkins in your lap, stay seated in your chairs, say “Please” and “Thank you”, enjoy – the girls did great and had so much fun pretending to be princesses!

At the beach yesterday Anika said when she first put her feet in the sand, “Wow it feels like powder”. Unlike an infant experiences things for the first time, a four year old is able to really absorb what is happening and then verbally engage and respond to it. It’s really cool watching and listening to her as she experiences her new world.

We all enjoyed taking a stroll on the beach, building sand castles, collecting shells for our shell garden, and playing ball. It was a perfect day with 80 degree weather. The water was a bit chilly (low 60’s) and it was hard to keep the children from getting in, but we did our best! We are all 6 (well maybe not Bowen) going about our day a little sun burned, but we all have that healthy glow (definitely Bowen too)!!! Next time, a little more sun block!

Having the two boys and the two girls together was just perfect. Every one had a playmate and Doug and I enjoyed spending some R&R basking in the sun! Our family feels complete and I’m still getting used to having ALL our children here, finally! Anika’s 90 day waiting period will be up on April 30th and then we will legally be allowed to complete her adoption. She is very excited about becoming a Powell. She loves her name and always refers to herself as “Anika”. I’m not sure she remembers not having it as her first name. She has adjusted so well and is extremely happy.

For the first time I have this fullness, this happiness that I’ve never experienced before. Maybe it’s partly because I don’t take the small things for granted. Just to have our health means so much. At the beach yesterday I told Adelaine, “Did you know that when your counts were below 500, we couldn’t even take you to the beach?” (Of course she didn’t remember this). But she was like, “Wow, now I can go to the beach anytime I want to, can’t I?” Our girls have been set free, in fact our whole family has been. Adelaine has received freedom from cancer, Anika has been set free to a family that can take good care of her and love her, the boys are no longer held back by their sister’s illness. Doug and I are free to enjoy health, healing and a full quiver!!! All is well in paradise today!


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