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.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tips from the Field


Here are some things you should know:


Make sure your friends and family know they can find information & resources on FLO’s unaccompanied tour site http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c14521.htm   
Information not to be missed on this site:
  • ·         Contact Sheet – fill able form used to collect e-mails you provide of your circle of family and friends, enables us to disseminate UT specific information and updates.
  • ·         Decision Tree -use this document to help decide where to live during a UT and to learn about your allowances.
  • ·         Workbook request- these activity books were specifically designed for parents separated by distance from their child, age specific we are happy to mail them as requested.
  • ·         Yahoo HomeFrontUS-a private chat group organized so you can virtually “meet” other people in a similar situation. 
  • ·         Medal request- designed to recognize the sacrifice a child has made while a parent is away.  Request for your son, daughter, step-children, 0-21 years of age and Foreign Affairs agencies only-State, AID, Commerce, Agriculture, and BBG.
  • ·         Mental Health Resources- MHN (Health Net Company) Employee Consultation Service (ECS), Deployment Stress Management Program (DSMP); all these programs offer valuable emotional & life style support to families and employees especially created for the issues and concerns of unaccompanied tours. 

Mark you calendar....

Have you heard the news!
The UT September Newsletter will be e-mailed Tuesday August 28. .  If you don't receive your copy; check your  SPAM if it isn't there, please, please contact FLOaskUT@state.gov!

Thursday, September 6 at 3 p.m. (EST)
MHN & FLO will present a teleconference on Parenting during an Unaccompanied Tour.  This will take place at the Department of State and everyone is invited to attend in person or on the phone.  To learn more please contact FLOaskUT@state.gov.  

Please share this blog and this information with others experiencing a unaccompanied tour!  Don't be square-share :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rambles musings...


So you are experiencing an unaccompanied tour!?  Maybe it’s your first or third but the good thing is your looking for information J 

Have you seen FLO’s website on unaccompanied tours?  http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/c14521.htm  Information not to be missed on this site:
·         Contact Sheet – fill able form used to collect e-mails you provide of your circle of family and friends, enables us to disseminate UT specific information and updates.
·         Decision Tree -use this document to help decide where to live during a UT and to learn about your allowances.
·         Workbook request- these activity books were specifically designed for parents separated by distance from their child, age specific we are happy to mail them as requested.
·         Tips from the Field-suggestions compiled from people’s knowledge of what worked for them on a UT.
·         Yahoo HomeFrontUS-a private chat group organized so you can virtually “meet” other people in a similar situation. 
·         Medal request- designed to recognize the sacrifice a child has made while a parent is away.  Request for your son, daughter, step-children, 0-21 years of age and Foreign Affairs agencies only-State, AID, Commerce, Agriculture, and BBG.
·         Mental Health Resources- MHN (Health Net Company) Employee Consultation Service (ECS), Deployment Stress Management Program (DSMP); all these programs offer valuable emotional & life style support to families and employees especially created for the issues and concerns of unaccompanied tours
Interested but unsure where to turn?  Please contact FLOaskUT@state.gov  And as always please remember to share this information with others!  Sometimes people don’t know where to search, sometimes e-mails go astray or they are put into SPAM folders (it happens…) but the important thing is the folks at FLO want to help. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tips from the Field


Countdowns - Once dates were confirmed for the R&Rs, we created these. It helped to see how much longer we had to go. We did one vacation themed, holiday themed, and candy themed (pre-counted M&Ms in 2 jars with the kids names on it, they each got 1 a day until he came home)  

Skype calls - We scheduled 2 separate calls, one for the kids to talk with their dad (it happened usually in the morning before they headed to school) then he would call me in the afternoon and we'd have our time to discuss house stuff, the kids, etc. This has probably been the sanity saver for all of us as we still felt very connected. The kids have never had their dad gone for more than a quick trip for training or work (usually no more than 2 nights). 

Reading in person - To help me with the kids school work, he downloaded a book to his iPad for reading with the kids over the computer. They would share the reading with each reading a paragraph. He downloaded a book for each of the boys, so they had their own time with him. This really worked great as they felt that daddy was involved in their school work. 

As the mail wasn't reliable after the holidays (especially since my husband was not at the Embassy, but at an Annex) instead of sending things through the mail, we sent e-cards, and emails with pictures of things we wanted to send him. We also sent lots of pictures of places/things we saw/did. 

Because of events of this year that we wanted to attend together (a close friend's wedding, our 15th anniversary) we decided to do a long stretch from the 1st R&R to the 2nd. That was the most stressful for both of us as he left right after Christmas and didn't come home again until May. During that time thankfully it was basketball season and scouts was well underway. I had begun to volunteer more at the school, which was very helpful for keeping me out of the house and during the times when calls would not be coming. Plus volunteering is so flexible!  It was just hard to have to go such a long stretch, that we would not recommend it to others, unless absolutely unavoidable. Looking back it doesn't seem so bad now, but I remember during the time that I was thankful for volunteering, the kids busy schedules, and having friends around. Granted not many are familiar with the FS life here in small town PA, and sometimes, that was exactly what I needed. 
Thanks to Jennifer!  Excellent tips!  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Around town...


Art & Bookfair News:
Donate Now, Shop in October!
Wondering what to do with some of the gifts or extra items purchased while posted overseas? Looking to lighten your load as you pack out? Consider donating items to the AAFSW Art & Book Fair 2012. In addition to art and books, other collectibles such as stamps and coins (old and new) are popular items.  

Donations are tax deductible and proceeds help support a number of Foreign Service youth programs, scholarships and other projects for the FS community. For shipping instructions, email bookroom@aafsw.org or call 202-223-5796.

The annual Art & Bookfair is a great place to do some early holiday shopping, too. If you’ll be in Washington October 12 -21, stop buy and pick out something special from all corners of the world!

The AAFSW Art & Book Fair 2012 will be held October 12 - 21 in the Harry S Truman Building (Main State).:
• October 12: 11-4 p.m. Art & BookFair open to building pass holders and their guests.
• October 13-14: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Open to the general public.
• October 15-19: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Open to building pass holders and their guests.
• October 20-21: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Open to the general public.

For more information about the annual bookfair, visit the AAFSW website at www.aafsw.org.