Welcome to our unaccompanied tours (UT) blog, Foggy Bottom Rambles! We can share information, programs, and resources quickly with you and since blogs are a two way street, we (and the other readers) can hear from you. What's in a name you say? This blog reflects how we (back here in DC, Foggy Bottom area) provide information (rambles) to you. Find tips from the field, websites and information, home is where the hooch is suggestions, upcoming programs and events and follow our book club. Let us know what you think: contribute to the blog or email us at FLOaskUT@state.gov.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Introducing the New NCE Registry
The Bureau of Human Resources is pleased to introduce the Department of State’s Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) Registry, which will allow Department of State hiring managers to identify eligible family members returning from overseas who have earned non-competitive eligibility or who have Civil Service reinstatement rights.

Why an NCE Registry?
Family members who have earned NCE or who have CS reinstatement eligibility can use it to non-competitively apply for positions in the Civil Service. Under Executive Order 12721, Executive Branch agencies have the authority to non-competitively appoint to a competitive service position in the United States, family members who have completed 52 weeks (or 2087 hours) of service in certain positions overseas.

How does it work?
Eligible family members enroll by filling out and submitting the registry application. Their information will then be added to the registry. When a hiring manager has an open vacancy, he/she can request a list of potential applicants based upon their skills and experience.

                    Learn more about the registry and download the application on                              FLO’s NCE Registry webpage

Email FLOAskEmployment@state.gov with questions.

NCE Registry Webinar on June 29 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Join FLO and HR Shared Services on June 29 at 9:00 a.m. ET for a webinar to learn about the NCE Registry, including eligibility and how to apply. To participate in the webinar, go to https://deptofstatehr.adobeconnect.com/_a1002391156/flo/. Enter as a guest and type your first name and post. You will need a computer with a high-speed internet connection and speakers. (Webinar recording will be available after the event. Email FLOGlobalWebinars@state.gov).

Monday, June 20, 2016


Travel Safety Series

American women are increasingly traveling all corners of the globe. Their destinations range from the unusual and exotic to more common destinations for American travelers, such as Europe. Europe is often painted as an ideal international travel destination—due to the fact that relatively few communication barriers exist, cultural differences are manageable, and European countries generally espouse similar societal principles and values as the US (i.e. freedom, democracy, tolerance, etc).

Furthermore, most prime European travel destinations enjoy generally positive reputations in terms of safety, security, and openness—including for female visitors and residents.

Despite these popular conceptions and narratives, 
violence against women in Europe—like so many other places in the world—is a keen reality.

Carrie Knori Pasquarello, CEO Global Secure Resources Inc.
Jennifer Surface, Founder and Principal, Vantage Intelligence

Read the full post here.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Children's Resources

Resources for Transitioning Back to the U.S. with Children

FLO’s publication Bouncing Back: Transition and Re-entry Planning for the Parents of Foreign Service Youth provides parents with guidance on how to help their child transition to the U.S. The publication includes research and resources from professionals in the field of youth mobility and was written by adults and children who experienced the Foreign Service lifestyle firsthand. For more information on transitions and the Foreign Service child, visit FLO’s website.

Parents may be interested in signing up their children for the     Youth Security Overseas Seminar held throughout the summer by the Transition Center at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). The Transition Center also offers courses for adults, including Encouraging Resiliency in the Foreign Service Child and           Raising Bilingual Children. For questions about education and youth resources, email FLOAskEducation@state.gov.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Passport Acceptance Day at the Washington Passport Agency

On Saturday, June 25, the Department will host a Passport Acceptance Day at the Washington Passport Agency from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  This event will offer appointment and walk-in services for first-time regular (tourist) passport applicants, all minors, and individuals who are ineligible to renew their passports by mail.  Service will not be available for individuals who are eligible to renew or request an extension of their passport by mail (Form DS-82 or Form DS-5504).  Customers with appointments on this day will receive priority.

Customers must be eligible to complete, execute, and submit the passport application form DS-11 and have no immediate travel plans.  Routine passport processing time is currently up to six weeks.  Expedited processing time is three weeks.  Expedited service will be available for an additional $60 fee per application.  Will Call service and same-day passport issuance will not be available.    Individuals who want to renew a passport using Form DS-82 must apply via U.S. mail.

Event:                         Passport Acceptance Day
Date:                           Saturday, June 25, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. 

Where:                       Washington Passport Agency
                                    600 19th St, N.W., Sidewalk Level (middle entrance)
                                    Washington, DC 20006

                        Appointments:           Toll-free number at 1-877-487-2778  

Payment:                    Check or money order only


For more information on how to apply for a U.S. passport, including necessary documents and fees, please visit travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens also may obtain passport information by phone, in English and Spanish, by calling the National Passport Information Center (NPIC) toll-free line at 1-877-487-2778.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Meditation for Kids

Research consistently shows the positive impact of meditation. For developing brains, meditation has as much as or perhaps even more promise than it has for adults and studies have confirmed the cognitive and emotional benefits of meditation for school-aged children. While there are now apps, classes and books that guide children in meditation, it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.
Here are some exercises that Jillian Pransky, director of therapeutic yoga teacher training for YogaWorks and the mother of a          12-year-old, recommends trying with your children:
  • Elevator down: Imagine an elevator going down three floors. (Older children may prefer to imagine more floors.) Imagine now that the elevator is in your body. When you are sitting, imagine the top floor is from your head to your chest. The next floor is from your chest to your belly, and the third from your belly to your seat. Begin at the crown of your head. On your next exhale mentally chant “three” as you imagine the elevator lowering from your crown to your chest. Pause for an inhale. When the doors open, imagine your breath coming in and freshening up the elevator, the way opening a window brings a fresh breeze into the room. On the next exhale, mentally chant “two.” Imagine going down another flight to your belly. Continue to the ground floor, chanting “one.” Pause and feel your seat on the ground floor and enjoy landing fully.
  • Finger-counting breaths: This is a useful do-anywhere exercise for the middle of the day to calm a child who is having a meltdown at a birthday party or just to re-center. Create gentle fists with your hands, and with each breath, unfurl a finger from your palm. For example, on your first exhale open your left thumb from your fist. Pause and enjoy an inhale. On your next exhale, unfurl your left index finger. Pause and enjoy an inhale. Continue until you have two open palms on your lap. Sometimes we “om” for each finger unfurled, or use a personal mantra that evokes the feeling we are looking for, like peace, love, quiet, calm or relax. When children make up the mantra, it helps them have self-awareness of what they may need, as well as how they can take charge of how they want to feel.
  • Deep breaths before bed: Take a deep breath in through the nose, and on the exhale chant out loud: “three” (thrreee). Enjoy another deep in-breath, and on the next exhale, chant “two” (twwooo). Take a last deep breath in and exhale, chanting: “one” (onnee). Relax for a few breaths, and enjoy feeling your body sitting or lying on the floor or your bed. Repeat if desired.

Follow Beth Payne's blog Fostering Resilience

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Make Time for Those Who Matter Most

Learn to be the best spouse, parent, friend, coworker you can be with WorkLife4You’s help.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lift the Spirits of Children Experiencing an  Unaccompanied     Tour

Children of employees experiencing an unaccompanied tour (UT) deserve to be recognized! If you work for the Department of State, USAID, Commerce, Agriculture or Broadcasting Board of Governors and are serving at a UT designated post for at least six months, your children are eligible to receive a medal and certificate of recognition. Children must be an employee’s daughter/son/stepchild up to age 21. For more information, visit FLO’s UT Medals and Certificates of Recognition Program webpage. To nominate your child, email FLOAskUT@state.gov.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Did you know that Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 15-21, 2016?

As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador in support of Hurricane Preparedness Week, the Office of Emergency Management in the Bureau of Administration (A/OEM) offers the following daily tips to guide preparedness for a potential land-falling tropical storm or hurricane.

Monday, May 16 Develop an Evacuation Plan
The first thing to do is find out if you live or work in a hurricane storm surge or flood evacuation zone, or in a home or office that would be unsafe during a hurricane. If you are, figure out where you would go and how you would get there if told to evacuate.

Tuesday, May 17 Secure an Insurance Check-Up
Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to ensure you have insurance to cover flood and wind damage or even to replace your home.

Wednesday, May 18 Assemble Disaster Supplies
You may need to stay where you are for an extended time until flooding recedes and roadways are restored and will need enough non-perishable food, water, and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of 3 days and up to a week or more.

Thursday, May 19 Strengthen Your Home
Make sure your home is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Whether you stay or evacuate, be sure to utilize flood-proofing measures such as using water sealer in basements, sandbagging, elevating utilities, and moving furniture to the second floor. Click here for more information on strengthening your home against strong winds.

Friday, May 20 Notification Sources
NOAA's National Hurricane Center is your official source for hurricane watches and warnings. Your local NOAA National Weather Service forecast office provides information regarding the expected impacts from the storm for your area. Emergency managers will make the decisions regarding evacuations. 

For more information about tornadoes, visit our ePrepare site and NOAA website .

Also, please visit FLO’s Crisis Management's Personal Preparedness website to download your Personal Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Guide.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

FSYF Summer Film Making Challenge

The Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) is looking for Washington, D.C. area Foreign Service youth in grades 7 to 12 (individuals or teams with at least one member belonging to FSYF) to make an 8 to 12 minute narrated video highlighting its schools, shopping, dining, transportation, and community life in their city or county. The video should orient and assist Foreign Service youth returning to the area after living abroad. The application deadline is June 27, 2016 and the videos must be submitted by September 5, 2016. 

Visit FSYF’s website for more information and to apply.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Pre-Deployment Preparation for High Stress Assignments (MQ940)

This course   has the goal of empowering employees and couples to be more psychologically prepared for an extended assignment to a high stress post. Part of the course will focus on practical considerations in preparing for and sustaining an unaccompanied assignment. Both employees and family members who attend will better understand the challenges of maintaining the health and well-being of relationships with spouses, children, siblings and others who will await the return of the officer. The Department is asking officers to go to posts that are known to be difficult and appreciates the sense of service and courage of those officers willing to serve. No one wants an officer's sustaining personal relationships to be sacrificed along the way. This course will share and examine the successful strategies of Foreign Service couples who managed to find a way to survive an unaccompanied assignment and to strengthen their relationships.

Course Dates and Times:
25 May 2016     6:00 PM–9:00 PM
15 June 2016     6:00 PM–9:00 PM
13 July 2016     6:00 PM–9:00 PM

This is a non-tuition course.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Employment Opportunity in FLO—Program Assistant


Family members returning to Washington, D.C. may be interested in applying for the        full-time Program Assistant (GS-7) position in FLO. The incumbent is responsible for front desk receptionist services, serves as back-up to the Executive Assistant, and provides part-time program assistance.

The position is a full time, two-year limited appointments, with potential to be extended up to a maximum of five years and is not in the Competitive Service. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET, May 16, 2016. See the vacancy announcement for details.


Monday, May 2, 2016

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month ….Let's Get Moving

Barriers to fitness: Overcoming common challengesPosted  by Radhika Mathur

1. I don’t have enough time to exercise
Setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge. Use a little creativity to get the most out of your time.
·  Squeeze in short walks throughout the day. If you don’t have time for a full workout, don’t sweat it. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too.
·  Get up earlier. If your days are packed and the evening hours are just as hectic, get up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise. Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine.
·  Drive less, walk more. Park in the back row of the parking lot or even a few blocks away and walk to your destination.
·  Revamp your rituals. Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids or your best friend could be reborn as your weekly Saturday bike ride, rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool.

2. I think exercise is boring.
It’s natural to grow weary of a repetitive workout day after day, especially when you’re going it alone. But exercise doesn’t have to be boring.
·  Choose activities you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to stay interested. Remember, anything that gets you moving counts.
·  Vary the routine. Rotate among several activities — such as walking, swimming and cycling — to keep you on your toes while conditioning different muscle groups.
·  Join forces. Exercise with friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie and the encouragement of the group.
·  Explore new options. Learn new skills while getting in a workout. Check out exercise classes or sports leagues at a recreation center or health club.

3. I’m self-conscious about how I look
Don’t get down on yourself! Remind yourself what a great favor you’re doing for your cardiovascular health, or focus on how much stronger you feel after a workout.
·  Avoid the crowd. If you’re uncomfortable exercising around others, go solo at first. Try an exercise video or an activity-oriented video game. Or consider investing in a stationary bicycle, treadmill, stair-climbing machine or other piece of home exercise equipment.
·  Focus on the future. Praise yourself for making a commitment to your health. And remember that as you become fitter and more comfortable exercising, your self-confidence is likely to improve as well.

4. I’m too tired to exercise after work
No energy to exercise? Without exercise, you’ll have no energy. It’s a vicious cycle. But breaking the cycle with physical activity is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
·  Try a morning dose of exercise. Remember the suggestion to get up 30 minutes earlier to exercise? Hop on the treadmill or stationary bicycle while you listen to the radio or watch the morning news. Or step outside for a brisk walk.
·  Make lunchtime count. Keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk, and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
·  Be prepared. Make sure you have comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothes for exercising. Take them with you to the mall or when you travel.

5. I’m too lazy to exercise
If the mere thought of a morning jog makes you tired, try these thoughts on for size:
·  Set realistic expectations. If your mental bar is too high, you might give up without even trying. Start with a walk around the block. Don’t give up if you feel worn out. Take another walk around the block tomorrow. Keep it up, and eventually you’ll no longer feel worn out.
·  Work with your nature, not against it. Plan physical activity for times of the day when you tend to feel more energetic — or at least not quite so lazy.
·  Schedule exercise as you would schedule an important appointment. Block off times for physical activity, and make sure your friends and family are aware of your commitment. Ask for their encouragement and support.

6. I’m not athletic
Natural athletic ability isn’t a prerequisite to physical activity. Even if you’ve been sedentary for some time, it’s not too late to get more active.
·  Keep it simple. Try something basic, such as a daily walk. Start slowly and give your body a chance to get used to the increased activity.
·  Find company. Pick an activity you like, such as dancing or gardening, and invite friends to join in. You’ll have fun while helping each other work out.
·  Forget the competition. Don’t worry about becoming a superstar athlete or joining the hard-bodied athletes at the fitness club. Simply focus on the positive changes you’re making to your body and mind.

7. I’ve tried to exercise in the past and failed
Don’t throw in the towel. You can’t see it when you lower your cholesterol or reduce your risk of diabetes, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t doing yourself a great favor. Re-evaluate what went wrong, and learn from your mistakes.
·  Pace yourself. Start small and build up to more-intense workouts later, when your body is ready.
·  Set realistic goals. Don’t promise yourself you’re going to work out for an hour every day, and then get down on yourself when you fall short. Stick with goals you can more easily achieve, such as exercising 20 minutes a day, three days a week for the first month.
·  Remember why you’re exercising. Use your personal fitness goals as motivation — and reward yourself as you meet your goals.

8. I can’t afford health club fees
You don’t need a membership at an elite gym to get a great workout. Consider common-sense alternatives.
·  Do strengthening exercises at home. Use inexpensive resistance bands — lengths of elastic tubing that come in varying strengths — in place of weights. Do pushups or squats using your body weight.
·  Start a walking group. Round up friends, neighbors or co-workers for regular group walks. Plan routes through your neighborhood or near your workplace, along local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall.
·  Take the stairs. Skip the elevator when you can. Better yet, make climbing stairs a workout in itself.
·  Try your community center. Exercise classes offered through a local recreation department or community education group might fit your budget better than an annual gym membership.

9. I’m afraid I’ll hurt myself if I exercise
If you’re nervous about injuring yourself, start off on the right foot.
·  Take it slow. Start with a simple walking program. As you become more confident in your abilities, add new activities to your routine.
·  Try an exercise class for beginners. You’ll learn the basics by starting from scratch.
·  Get professional help. Get a fitness tutorial from a certified expert, who can monitor your movements and point you in the right direction. If you’ve had a previous injury, you may want to first see a sports medicine physician, who can evaluate you and recommend specific treatment, such as physical therapy.

10. My family doesn’t support my efforts
Remind those close to you of the benefits of regular exercise — and then bring them along for the ride.
·  Get your kicks with your kids. Sign up for a parent-child exercise class. Pack a picnic lunch and take your family to the park for a game of tag or kickball. Splash with the kids in the pool instead of watching from your chair.
·  Propose a new adventure. Instead of suggesting a workout at the gym, invite a friend to go to an indoor climbing wall or rent a tandem bicycle for the weekend.
·  Do double duty. Volunteer to drive your teens to the mall, and then walk laps inside while you wait for the shoppers. Try the same trick at your child’s school during lessons, practices or rehearsals.
·  If necessary, have a heart-to-heart with your loved ones. If they don’t share your fitness ambitions, ask them to at least respect your desire to get fit.

By Mayo Clinic Staff
© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Watch Online Today: Coping with the Stress of Change Webinar

The Family Liaison Office (FLO) and MHN (a Health Net company specializing in behavioral health) recently hosted the webinar, Coping with the Stress of Change

One of the greatest sources of stress can be change; change of location, change of routine, change of lifestyle, change of parenting skills, changes in relationships due to separation, and the list goes on. 

Watch the webinar online today to learn about coping skills for dealing with this stress. 

Visit FLO’s Counseling Resources and Referral Services webpage and email  FLOAskUT@state.gov with questions. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wednesday, April 27th

"Coping with the Stress of Change" Webinar

Coping with the Stress of Change

      Wednesday, April 27 @ 0900-1000 (ET)

S – T – R – E – S – S….it comes at all of us in one form or another.  However one of the greatest sources of stress is change
The FLO Unaccompanied Tour Support Team knows all about change.
Change of location, change of routine, change of lifestyle, change of parenting skills, changes in relationships due to separation, and the list goes on. 

This webinar is open to all employees and adult family members.
We hope you’ll join us to discuss coping skills in dealing with change and the stress that comes along with it at our next webinar.
Virtual participants will need a computer with a high-speed internet connection and computer speakers. The “chat” function will allow virtual participants to post questions during the presentation.
To participate in the webinar visit:  Department of State Webinar Enter as a guest; type your first name and your current or future post. 
A digital link to a workbook to accompany the “Coping with the Stress of Change” webinar is available upon request by writing to FLOAskUT@state.gov.

No matter what kind of change you’re dealing with there’s no reason to let it get the better of you. FLO UT Team is here to help! The webinar session will be led by our partners at MHN
 Any questions please contact us at FLOAskUT@state.gov or call 202-647-1076