Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Girls

Most of the team arrived Tuesday afternoon and evening with the rest arriving Wednesday a.m. As they were moving into tents, it poured. All the tents flooded and had to be dried out with towels which were rung out and rerung out. It's definitely not for the faint of heart. In fact there is a sign on the front office that says "Pamper camp is down the street." This is not a church camp with games and swimming and what not. It's a mission training camp.
Normally you don't hear from the camp, but I've heard twice so far because Jessica forgot her retainer and the rest of her money so the head leader called. I had already discovered it and had just gotten back from mailing the retainer and the money when they called. Then Jessica turned out to be $130 short because she'd recorded one check twice. So they called again this morning and let me know. Money is on the way.

The lady that called was from finance so doesn't work with the kids, but she had been the one helping them dry out the tents, so I was able to ask about the girls. She said Jasmine "is quite a character." Yep. This camp is big on organization and Jasmine's frontal lobe (which helps with organization) is damaged. So no one will ever use the word organized to describe Jasmine. But she is a sweetie.

When the lady was there, Jasmine couldn't find one of her boots. It was in the middle of her tent. The same lady helped zip her in her tent for the night and then realized that one of Jasmine's boots was laying outside the tent. Not a good idea since it rains often.

Probably orientation.

Jessica in charge.

The team did the obstacle course for the first time this morning. Many of the kids fell into the slough. If you aren't familiar with the obstacle course, go to the TMI website and watch some of the videos or look through the pictures. They have daily updates on facebook right now.

Jasmine is one of the youngest and smallest on the team. I'm hoping that the older girls all have good attitudes about the tough conditions and the challenges because Jasmine is very much a follower. If they have good attitudes, she will too. If they have lousy attitudes, she will too.

If you're one facebook, hit "like" for Teen Missions and you can get all the latest news.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What to Say

Sometimes it's hard to know what to say on a blog. I've read blogs where everything is right out there to read about and others where I wonder if they ever have any problems. Everything is all happy and praise God. Make no mistake, I think we should praise God but sometimes we are praising him from the trenches. But I'm not sure that everything everyone did should be posted. It's kind of hard to know where the balance is.

For instance, if I tell you that this week we've worked on reading, gone skating, played outside, worked on tumbling, missed the girls who are at camp and sent teens off to work, that would all be true. But it's not a true picture of our life.

But if I tell you that I found a hidden cell phone and told you what kind of picture were on it including those of the owner, that would probably be a little too much information. But acting like we're not still dealing with one of the little's accusations against another family member and the plans for long term counseling for her, and acting like we are not very disappointed in the phone owner and making long term weekly counseling for him a requirement for any sports and privileges would be a unrealistic picture of our life.

So I guess for now I'll just say we are dealing with new issues and also with issues I had hoped were resolved. Trust is broken but hopefully parent-child and sibling to sibling relationships aren't. Some children are no longer allowed together unsupervised. One is no longer allowed to go the mall or other places unsupervised. And nowhere with unsupervised internet access.

I support my children. I hope for the best for them. I believe they are all capable of making good choices. I believe they are amazing children who can change the world. But I also know that every single decision matters. And the choices made today impact the future. So right now we are working out plans to help each child get the help or support he or she needs and to grant the privileges allowable within that framework.

But if you just want to know the fun stuff--picture ahead.

Kayla skating. The skating rink gave out free passes for some of the summer sessions through the schools.

Kaleb is wearing the Lion King skates Tyler got for one of his early birthdays. These skates have been worn by several children through the years. Sad that this is likely the last child to wear them. (His feet are a lot smaller than Kayla's)

He still has to wear the patch.

Candy Land with dad.

Adam practicing tumbling. I used the sports setting to capture it step by step.


Sunday, June 26, 2011


The girls are safely delivered to Teen Missions' headquarters in Merritt Island where Jessica is an assistant leader and Jasmine is a preteen camper for the next six weeks or so.

The rest of their team will be arriving between 10a.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Wednesday. They'll register Wednesday, get their shirts, canteens etc and start training on Thursday. They leave for AZ Monday July 10.

Getting wheelbarrows to move their stuff to the campsite. Jasmine's wheelbarrow probably weighed as much as she does!

Um. Did I mention that the wheelbarrow was quite a handful for Jasmine??? Jessica is checking out the crash scene because it was actually her stuff in Jasmine's wheelbarrow. They traded wheelbarrows so Jasmine would have the one with two wheels but it was actually not the better choice for her because it was much heavier and the wheels were wacko.


Getting the boxes moved in to the tent. The tents are all wet inside due to rain. Note to self: bring extra old towels to dry out tent next time.

Improvised drying line. The one towel didn't do much toward drying out the tent.

All moved in--but not organized!

Um, yep, she tipped the wheelbarrow over with this load too.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Outside the M&M store in the Orlando mall.

We did some looking but no buying. I'll stick to getting my M&Ms at Walmart for a fraction of the price.

We bought this headband for .99 at Children's Place. Aren't we the big spenders?

Shared food.

Butterbeer at Islands of Adventure.

We went on the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey. It broke down several times while we were in line. They closed it and people started leaving. Just as we were leaving, it reopened. So it kind of made up for the time we waited while it was broken down. We waited about 70 minutes.

We only went on Forbidden Journey, Cat in the Hat and Spiderman. Then it started pouring and didn't let up so we left. We sat an hour on the highway because of an accident. So not the day we'd planned.

Now we're in the hotel eating a ham and pineapple pizza. Tomorrow the girls check in at Teen Missions.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting Ready for the Mission Trip

Things are about to change here. The girls are in their final days home for several weeks. On Friday we are going to drive to Orlando, going to Universal/Islands of Adventure to use our resident passes on Saturday and then checking in at Teen Missions on Merritt Island on Sunday. That is the day the leaders arrive. Jasmine is a leader's child this summer : )

The other team members will arrive on the 29th.

They have orientation and then several days of "boot camp" where they do an obstacle course, learn construction, songs and skits. They commission on July 9. If anyone is in the Merritt Island area, they can attend that.

The girls finally leave for AZ on July 10. I will be driving to Atlanta that same day--but my trip is only a few hours whereas theirs is two days. Their actual AZ work project starts July 13 and ends July 30. That sounds really short, but I bet it won't feel short in the heat wearing long pants and work boots!

Jessica is packing up her stuff. Everything is suppose to arrive in boxes and the leaders & team members will be given a large duffel bag and a back pack for the trip. This is the only team not going out of country and not flying. It sure would be faster to fly to AZ than drive from FL!

Jasmine is packed up--just needed to add a couple of last minute things--like a jacket. I guess AZ can get cool at night.

We have so much stuff!! Jasmine is taking extra boots in case she falls in the slough. It's important that her feet stay dry with her toe issues. She also has special cream and meds. Plus her hair requires more products. She didn't want it just corn rowed for the summer so she'll have to work with it there.

Jessica may not like that bucket so well after washing clothes and herself with it all summer!!

If you want to write to the girls:

From June 26-July 2:

Jessica Cassel

Jasmine Cassel

Team 11072

871 East Hall Rd.

Merritt, FL 32953

From July 2 until July 20

Jessica Cassel

Jasmine Cassel

P.O. Box 882

Pinon, AZ 86510

They can only receive cards and letters, no goodies or packages : (

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day and Happy Early Birthday

Rick has two holidays in a row in the summer. Father's Day and his birthday. They are always within a week of each other and sometimes on the same day. Then our anniversary is less than two weeks later.

The kids got him a mug that is black until it has hot liquid in it. Then it is a collage of pictures. Everyone got to help choose the pictures for it.

Happy birthday a day early!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Twins

I just realized that I never posted the twins' new pictures. I posted them on facebook but not on my blog. So here they are.

A somewhat hokey smile.

Love the attitude in this one.


Another one together. Which do you like best?

I always get both together and individual. The first two individual ones are what's on my wall because they each deserve their own picture on the wall. But I also do them together because their bond as twins is very special.

I get asked quite a lot if they are identical. When I say, "No, they are boy and girl" people will say, "But are you sure they aren't identical?" Then I say, "No. One has little boy parts and one has little girl parts so they cannot be identical." At this point I usually get blank looks.

Really, they do resemble each other but no more than any other non twin siblings. Kayla is actually built wider and more sturdy than Kaleb. Right now she is also two inches taller than him. But even when they were the same height, her feet were 1-2 sizes bigger, her hands are much bigger and she is wider.

Last week I put her hair back in twists and beads since it's grown out some, so I'm not getting the question about them being identical as much.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Soccer Camp

The littles had a four day soccer camp this week. It met from 4-6 p.m. which was a very hot time of day. But everyone survived.

Soccer camp met on the baseball fields for some reason. Jasmine was with the older kids and the twins with the younger kids.

On the last day the kids scrimmaged.

Yesterday we also met with a counselor concerning the accusation that was made against a brother earlier in the week. We each talked to the counselor separately and then together. She does not feel the incident took place here, but that the child either had this happen or saw it happen in the orphanage and for some reason is projecting it onto her brother. Still, we have to make some changes about how things are done to protect him from further accusations. That really changes things here because he has been very helpful in playing with the little ones for an hour and a half in the morning while I work. He also helps with their care at others times. But now he cannot be in the same area she is without an older child or adult. It stinks, but I realize it is the result of something that happened earlier to her. Better to deal with it now than when she hits puberty!