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.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Foreign Service Youth Foundation College Workshop

Sunday, October 25, 2015
11am to 2pm
at Oakwood Falls Church (State Room)

The Foreign Service Youth Foundation’s (FSFY) annual fall college workshop will again address the perennial issues directly related to Foreign Service youth and the college application process.  This year, Becky Grappo, President of RNG International Education Consultants, will facilitate the event. A former Foreign Service family member, Ms. Grappo has lived in eleven countries outside of the Unites States.  Her background includes teaching at U.S. public and international schools, working on education and youth concerns for the Department’s Family Liaison Office, writing about the issues associated with educating and raising children and teens in an internationally mobile lifestyle and raising three global nomad children abroad.  

The topics to be covered during the afternoon will relate to the mobile FS youth experience, and may include:
  • Interruptions in curriculum and extra-curricular activities
  • Challenges regarding teacher recommendations
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) vs. Advanced Placement (AP)
  • Planning college visits from overseas
  • Standardized testing issues
  • State residency requirements
  • Deciding upon and planning a gap year

Fees (Includes Lunch)
FSYF Members: $15 per person
Non-members: $30 per person

Additional information and registration can be found at http://www.fsyf.org/CollegeWorkshop.

About the Foreign Service Youth Foundation:  Since 1989, FSYF has helped Foreign Service youth embrace the adventure of an internationally-mobile childhood by encouraging resilience and fostering camaraderie.  Global programs include:  a Foreign Service youth-written newsletter, an adult newsletter, five annual contests, and two scholarships for college-bound seniors.  D.C.-area events include:  re-entry seminars for high school and middle school students, a college admissions workshop, teen/tween game nights at Oakwood Apartments, and a fall welcome back picnic.  FSYF also assists FLO and AAFSW in providing emergency support to families evacuated from overseas.  For more information, visit www.fsyf.org

Friday, October 2, 2015

FLO Assists with Expeditious Naturalization

FLO Assists with Expeditious Naturalization

The Family Liaison Office (FLO) assists over 100 foreign-born Department of State spouses each year to naturalize and become U.S. citizens. When certain conditions are met, spouses are able to apply for expeditious naturalization. The program is considered “expeditious” because the residency requirement is waived when living overseas on orders. Adjudication for all applications is administered by USCIS, with FLO acting as a liaison. While FLO can only act as a liaison for Department of State spouses, we can provide information to spouses from other agencies under Chief of Mission authority who would like to start the application process. To be eligible for expeditious naturalization, a spouse must be listed on the employee’s orders to an overseas post of more than twelve months, or have more than twelve months remaining at an overseas post. The applicant must also have legal permanent resident status (conditional or regular) before they can naturalize. As each case is different and the process takes several months, those wishing to apply for naturalization should contact FLO upon receipt of the employee’s TM One (assignment cable) to determine when they should initiate the application. Spouses interested in this program should visit FLO’s Expeditious Naturalization webpage for more information and links to USCIS’s website. For questions or to initiate an application, email FLOAskNaturalization@state.gov

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Build Resilience Every Day
monkeybusiness images via Getty images
Resilience is not just the ability to survive challenging times; it's the ability to thrive in them. Those who learn to build their own resilience can enjoy their work, their relationships, and the daily bustle more than someone who gets knocked down by stress over and over again.
Anyone can learn to do this. But it takes practice. And stress is the ultimate catch 22. The more stressed you are, the less able you are to make the changes that would alleviate it. That's why we view building resilience as a practice--something that you do daily, a little at a time, until the wellspring of resilience is part of you. That steady practice is what provides the big payoff.
Here are three ways to make resilience a practice in your life right now -- and reap the benefits of being able to ride out any storm (or surf through it).

1. Put resilience on the calendar. The late Steven Covey said, "don't prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities." When you want to make something consistent in your life, you want to build your life around it rather, than trying to shoehorn it in.

What activities make you feel good? Energized? Positive? A friend of mine loves taking her dog to the local park every Saturday and doing laps around the track, rain or shine. It helps her clear her mind and get a little movement in. A co-worker spends 10 minutes in the morning at a cafe journaling. Whatever activity loosens the grip of stress should be part of your weekly routine.

2. Practice tuning into your emotion radar. When something in your life goes badly, what emotion do you tend to feel first? For example, if you're in a long line at the grocery store at the end of the day, do you feel frustrated? Angry? Sad? Or guilty, thinking you're a bad parent because you're missing dinner time with your kid?

When you regularly feel a negative emotion, you likely have what we call an "emotion radar" for it. You've learned to scan for that emotion, even if there's not really a reason to feel it! The good news is that awareness breaks their chokehold. Ask yourself: Is this a habitual response I'm having, and is it making the situation worse? This will help you pause and see if it's truly warranted.

3. Use mistakes as a chance to practice resilience. Ironically, the very moments when you feel your resilience waning are the perfect times to practice it. The next time you lose your cool, snap at your spouse, stay up too late, or start emotional eating--resist spiraling into self-blame or disgust, and instead, choose to do something that will ease your stress and feed your resilience, such as talking a walk or calling a supportive friend.

Of course, there will be times when stress gets the best of you The key is to remember that practice makes perfect. Every single action your take towards feeling more resilient and positive, however small, is a win.

Huff Post Healthy Living Blog posted by meQuilibrium - Headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts, meQuilibrium was founded by CEO Jan Bruce, a successful publisher (Whole Living: body+soul, Dr. Weil’s Self Healing, Walking) in consumer health and wellness.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Family Liaison Office and MHN 
are offering an interactive webinar

“Parenting During Separations”
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 
9:00 to 10:00 a.m. ET

The October 21st session will discuss successful parenting during times of    separations.  A participant workbook accompanies the session and individuals are encouraged to request a copy before the session by writing FLOAskUT@state.gov.

Remote or In-Person Participation:                                          Participants may attend in-person or virtually. Virtual participants will need a  computer with a high-speed Internet connection and computer speakers. Only the presenter will be able to speak. The chat function will allow you to post questions during the presentation. To participate in the webinar visit:

Enter as a guest and type your first name and your post or future post. The
session will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET and will last one hour. It will be held in room 1239 of the Harry S Truman building. In-person participation: RSVP to FLOAskUT@state.gov. If you do not have a state badge or diplomatic passport, please let us know so someone will be available to escort you.

If you have questions: Please direct questions or in-person RSVPs to FLO's Unaccompanied Tours Team at 202-647-1076 or email FLOAskUT@state.gov 

Monday, September 21, 2015

MHN Member Pulse Updates and More

September is National Preparedness Month
If an emergency happened tomorrow, would you be ready?
In an emergency, every second counts. In support of National Preparedness Month, this month's Member Pulse digest includes tips on being ready for an emergency. Just click on the titles below to go directly to the articles.

  • Are you ready?
    Scan the news, and you're bound to see a story about a flood, fire or other crisis. When each second counts, can you quickly find your key documents?
  • Coping with a traumatic event
    After a crisis, it's normal to experience temporary changes in your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and body. Being in tune with these changes - and not trying to rush or deny them - can help you heal.
  • Disaster preparation checklist
    From the hurricane-prone gulf states to the wildfires of the West, we are often reminded that disasters can strike close to home, at any time. Fortunately, we can reduce our anxiety and possible loss with preparation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Employment Opportunity in FLO

The FLO Specialist (CLO, GS-11) is responsible for providing a wide range of program assistance to FLO’s CLO Program through CLO training, programmatic outreach to CLOs, administrative and technical support, and development and maintenance of resources to guide and support CLO staff at more than 200 missions overseas.

This position, located in Washington, D.C., is a full time, two-year limited appointment with benefits (FERS, TSP, FEGLI and FEHB) with the potential to be extended up to a maximum of five years, Excepted Service, Schedule A. This appointment is not in the Competitive Service.

The application deadline is September 23, 2015.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Basic Personal Defense

FSI Announces: MQ930: Basic Personal Defense
October 14, 2015 (9:00-11:30am)
November 13, 2015 (9:00-11:30am)

In today’s world, personal security is paramount. Learning how to defend your self can be empowering and essential to survival in the Foreign Service. Join us for an introduction of basic self-defense measures that anyone can learn and apply.

This course will include:
·         An overview of real life attacks
·         Basic body strikes and ground defense
·         How to defend against chokes and bear hugs

Who May Attend:
Open to all Foreign Affairs agency employees (FS and CS) and adult eligible family members (EFMs).

Where and When:
At the Foreign Service Institute, George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Arlington, VA. Room C3116. (On October 14, 2015 the course will be in room C3116)

How to Register:
Register online through the FSI Course Catalog at http://reg.fsi.state.gov/CourseCatalog.aspx?EventId=MQ930.    

Tuition: State: No charge. Non-State: $65.


For questions about this course please contact coordinators at FSISOS@state.gov.

For more information about other Transition Center programs and training classes for personnel, family members and members of household, see our website at http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September is National Personal Preparedness Month

During National Preparedness Month, the Family Liaison Office’s (FLO) Crisis Management and Support Services team wants to know: Are you prepared for the unexpected? Every day there is a possibility of a sudden departure from an overseas post due to political unrest, terrorist threats, natural disaster, a death in the family, divorce, a family member in crisis, or a medical emergency. There are many ways to prepare for the unexpected and a good place to start is by reading FLO’s Personal Preparedness Plan online for tips on how to create your plan.

FLO also provides a helpful checklist for preparing a Go Bag and a 72 Hour Emergency Kit. You need to be prepared to grab your Go Bag quickly should you leave post on a short notice so keep it in a location that is easily accessible. Make sure your Go Bag meets airline specifications for size and weight and that it is easy to handle, especially if you are traveling with small children. (Pack younger children’s necessities in your own bag and allow older children to have their own.) It might be impractical to have your Go Bag completely packed all the time as you may need to use some of the items on a daily basis. In this case, attach a checklist of important items, such as passports and important documents, phones and chargers, etc. that you can quickly pack when the time comes. Your 72 Hour Emergency Kit should include supplies you would need to survive for 3-4 days when you are asked to shelter-in-place such as non-perishable foods, water, medications, etc.

The theme for the 2015 National Preparedness Month is Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make your Emergency Plan Today. Visit http://www.ready.gov/septemberfor information, including tips for creating a family communication plan. Take 60 seconds to watch the Don’t Wait video and take action today!

Visit FLO’s Crisis Management webpage for more information or email FLOAskSupportServices@state.gov.

Friday, September 4, 2015

FSYF Upcoming Events for Youth and Families!

FSYF Meet-Up Events Continue in the Fall

These events are an opportunity for FSYF members in the DC Metro area to connect with each other. If your family has recently returned from overseas, is new to the FS, or just wants to enjoy a casual FS social opportunity, please join us:

Pizza Party for High School Students on Saturday, September 12, from 6 to 7:30pm: High School students please join us in the party room of the Lost Dog Cafe on Columbia Pike in Arlington for free pizza and soda.  Lost Dog Cafe makes fabulous pizza and sponsors a rescue foundation that saved the lives of over 16,000 dogs and cats. Parents and younger siblings are welcome to enjoy a meal in the main dining room (paying their own tab). The cafe is at 2920 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA 22204 (near the intersection of S. Walter Reed Dr. and Columbia Pike). Metered on-street parking is usually available behind the building along S. 11th Street.

Registration for this FSYF Meet - Up event is required for all teens attending and space is limited.      Register Here

Alexandria Ghost Tour on Saturday, October 3, at 7:30pm: Join FSYF on Saturday, October 3, as we are led by an 18th Century costumed guide by lantern light through the streets of Alexandria's historic Old Town. We will hear ghost stories, legends, and unsolved mysteries. The tour starts at 7:30pm at the Ramsay House Visitors Center, 221 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, and is appropriate for ages 9 and up (no pets please). Cost is $13 per adult and $7 per child. Advance registration and payment to FSYF is required.  Register and Pay Here

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

FLO Website Feature: Foreign Service Life and Crisis Management

The Family Liaison Office (FLO) can provide guidance and assistance to employees and families navigating the challenges and opportunities of the Foreign Service lifestyle. FLO’s Foreign Service Life webpage provides information on a variety of topics including eldercare, adding a family member to your orders, members of household, foreign-born spouses, long–distance relationships, and more.

The Crisis Management Services webpage also has useful information about personal preparedness (is your Go Bag ready?) and post evacuations.

 Email FLOAskSupportServices@state.gov with questions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Repatriation Advice:    

    10 Tips for Handling Reverse Culture Shock 

Repatriating can be as difficult as moving to a foreign country in the first place. Adults feel the very real pangs of saying good-bye to their exotic adventure. Children face the loss of, well, everything they know. For everyone, there is the job of beginning again. But life has many chapters, and these tips can help you make “back home” feel like home again.Have family discussions about relocating and let each person have a voice. Open, honest communication makes everyone feel heard, and that they are an important player in the transition.

Have family discussions about relocating and let each person have a voice. Open, honest communication makes everyone feel heard, and that they are an important player in the transition.

Realize that not every member of the family will be thrilled about the move. If the current location is home to the children, they may fear the unknown. Spouses may dread the red tape and their own job search. Acknowledging these legitimate concerns is important.

Accommodate personal temperaments. Some people are adventurous; others hate change. Some think ahead more than others. Each family member will experience the adjustment phase differently, and the duration and intensity will vary.

Monitor your kids. Children are resilient, but moving can be a huge adjustment for them. Give your children time, urge them to make new friends by using their cultural diversity as an entrĂ©e, by expanding their notion of who friends should be and by looking for peers with more diverse interests and backgrounds. Encourage them to be confident and to see the possibilities. If they don’t settle in well, though, consider third-party help from a counselor or psychologist.

Recognize that you may feel like an outsider for a time. You won’t be aware of recent local events or inside jokes that your family and friends share. (And they may be uninterested in or apathetic about your new interests and hobbies.) So expand your circle of friends. Look for an international community or expat group where you can meet people who have lived in other countries.

Bring the culture back with you. Create new family traditions by incorporating some of the customs and foods from your expat days, and share them with family and friends. Your life has been enriched and you don’t want to lose that.

Leverage your international experience at work, in school, or other activities. Your kids may become wonderful resources in geography or humanities class! Beware of sensitive perceptions, though. From my home in Belgium I could go to Paris for the day or London for the weekend—and some regard this as boasting.

Stay in touch with the friends you made abroad. As the one who left, it will fall to you to make the greater effort to stay connected. Skype and FaceTime provide a visual and more emotional link, but email, Facebook and other social media are just as important. It’s inevitable that some folks will drift away, but the ones who stay connected will be treasured ties to that time in your life.

Invite folks from your former country to visit. You might worry that you’ll be overrun with guests, but trust me: people have good intentions about visiting, yet in reality things come up and trips get postponed. The numbers will be manageable.

Budget for return visits. Seeing people in person, even if only once in a while, is the best way to cement long-distance friendships. They’ll appreciate your return, and you’ll enjoy reminiscing when you visit favorite spots. When I’m in the Frankfurt area, it’s a treat to return to my favorite Greek restaurant in Offenbach—not only for the food, but also for the memories.

The Wall Street Journal - by Elizabeth Vennekens-Kelly

Friday, August 21, 2015

Diplotots - Full Time Openings!
Calling all Department of State parents!  Diplotots Too has immediate FULL TIME openings in the preschool and pre-k program! 
         Discovery Preschool (Age 2 ½)
         Preschool (Age 3)
         Prekindergarten (Age  4/5)
The center is located in the SA-17 building at the corner of 19th and F Streets NW and offers children both interior and exterior play space to enjoy, as well as fun and educational classroom environments.  Please visit the Diplotots Too center webpage for more information: 
You also can contact Director Joi Woods at jowoods@cclc.com or Assistant Director at Diplotots Too, Sarah Dietz at sdietz@cclc.com or (202) 485-6005 to learn more about enrollment opportunities.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

FSYF Youth Newsletter—Summer Edition Online

The summer edition of the Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) Youth Newsletter, “Here, There & Everywhere” is on the FSYF website. Read about the FSYF Youth Award winners, their winning essays and artwork, and find out how FS youth are contributing to their communities.

Calling All FS Youth! Submit Your Article for the Fall Issue.
The theme for the Fall issue is all about “Back to School.” 

Write about your new school, new friends, or something that you miss about your previous school. Submissions are due Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Email your submission to fsyf@fsyf.org with "Youth Newsletter Contribution” in the subject line and earn the chance to win an Amazon gift card. Learn more at fsyf.org.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

     A+ Resources Transitioning Your Family Back to School

Preparing for the start of your child’s new school year can be hectic and stressful for a working parent.  To keep these distractions from impacting your productivity, let Information Quest (IQ) lend a helping hand.

IQ is the Department’s program name for WorkLife4You, a comprehensive and confidential resource and referral service that assists employees who are searching for ways to balance the demands of their professional and personal lives.

IQ can connect you with the tools and resources to make back-to-school prep easier for you and your child, such as before- and after-school care, special needs assistance, tutoring programs, scholarship opportunities, and help getting your children the necessary vaccinations.  Plus, call IQ today to receive your free College Kit!  If you have a college-bound child or college freshman, take advantage of all the practical products and valuable safety information to ensure a smooth transition into college life.  
For additional information and/or to request the services please call 1-866-552-IQ4U (4748) or TTY: 1-800-873-1322.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NEW Family Member Employment FAQs

Check Out FLO’s NEW Family Member Employment FAQs

Employment remains a top concern for family members in the Foreign Service. The Family Liaison Office (FLO) knows that whether you are going overseas and seeking employment or returning to Washington, DC, the job search and hiring process can be difficult. 

To better meet the needs of family members, FLO’s Employment Team is happy to share the new Family Member Employment Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)now on FLO’s website.

We hope these FAQs will help you find the answers you need quickly. We will continue to add the most commonly asked questions to this list so we can better serve our family members.

Have an employment question that is not on the list? 
Email FLOAskEmployment@state.gov.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Effective Job Interviewing Workshop 

The Bureau of Human Resources
Career Development Resource Center

Bill Norris, Senior Career Counselor

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Noon to 1:00 p.m.

HST (Main State), Room 1107


    Preparing for interviews

    Handling different types of interviews

    Developing strategies for how to respond to traditional and behavior-based interview questions

    Practicing to make a memorable impression

This workshop is open to all employees of the Department of State, Fellows, and Eligible Family Members. Contractors are welcome to attend on a space-available basis on their own time. Reservations are not required.

The Career Development Resource Center (CDRC) is located in Columbia Plaza (SA-1) in room L-321. Civil Service employees, fellows and Eligible Family Members of the U.S. Department of State may call 202-663-3042 to schedule an appointment with a Senior Career Counselor to discuss individual career development needs including resume review, Individual Development Plans, long-term career planning and goals, accomplishment statements, and networking. All Department of State employees may visit the CDRC to pick up handouts or borrow career development resources from the library.

Reasonable Accommodations for people with disabilities who wish to attend this event are available upon request.  The request should include a detailed description of the accommodation needed and the requestor’s contact information.  Request for accommodations should be made 7-10 days in advance or as soon as possible.  To request an accommodation, send an email to Reasonable Accommodations@state.gov or call HR/ER –Disability Reasonable Accommodation Division at 202-261-8160.

For more information visit our page and check our calendar for upcoming events

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

MHN Member Pulse Updates

Raising Healthy and Happy Children

Every parent wants to raise a healthy, happy child. But knowing how to do so can be challenging. Being a parent means making many decisions on a daily basis that impact your child. At some point, you've probably wondered, "Am I doing this right?"
This month's Member Pulse digest includes tips for raising healthy, happy kids to make your journey as a parent a little easier. Just click on the titles below to go directly to the articles.

·  Maternity leave: Tips for returning to work
Are you anxious about going back to work after maternity leave? These tips can help you stay connected to your baby and make your return to work easier.
·  Child development: Know what's ahead
While every child grows at his or her own pace, child development follows a fairly expected path. Learn what milestones to look for from ages two to five.
·  Bullying: Help your child handle a bully
The effects of childhood bullying are serious and can last into adulthood. Learn about the types of bullying, warning signs, the effects, and what to do if you think your child is being bullied.
·  Teenage depression: Prevention begins with parental support
Teenage depression can lead to long-lasting physical and emotional challenges. Learn what you can do to prevent teenage depression.
Don't forget to save MHN Member Pulse to your list of favorite websites! Also, check out MHN's member website for all sorts of valuable tools and content just for EAP members.

To access MHN's member website, you will need your company code. You can obtain this by contacting MHN at (800) 646-9923 or membersupport@mhn.com.
We speak your language!
Call our toll-free number for assistance. When you call MHN, free interpretation services are available in over 170 languages.