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down to the wire (once more)

June is just around the corner, marking the end of D’s first Washington assignment and the beginning of S’s first tour as a Foreign Service Officer. The last eleven months represent the longest stretch of time we have spent Stateside since embarking on this whirlwind Foreign Service adventure eight years ago. It feels as if we have just settled into a good groove in the District, but this chapter is almost over, and the next adventure – in the Philippines – beckons.

The last few months have been some of the most stressful of our FS tenure. In addition to the obvious financial strain, the government shutdown also cost S more than a month of language training, which made the rest of the already intensive course even more pressure-packed. After she passed her Tagalog test last month, we have dedicated ever increasing bandwidth to our pre-departure prep, the logistics of which would be all-consuming even if we didn’t also have work and family responsibilities.

D, meanwhile, has felt crushed by three concurrent stressors at work for much of the spring: juggling two portfolios after a colleague departed on maternity leave a bit earlier than anticipated; searching for an onward assignment – a depressing, uphill battle against an unfeeling bureaucracy that does not do nearly enough to ensure that tandem families can serve together; and working through his annual evaluation – a taxing process even under the best of circumstances in which one must distill the year’s accomplishments into a handful of brief but thorough statements.

The uncertainty of D’s work situation weighed on him nearly as much as the legwork of applying for dozens of vacant positions in offices that deemed a staffing gap preferable to taking on a telework employee. All of the above helps explain why after a burst of activity following our Southwest travels, the blog has largely laid dormant for much of this year. We’ve been keeping busy outside of the office as well, but have not had much mental energy for blogging.

With less than a month left before S begins her assignment in the Philippines, things miraculously came together and D found a position that will allow us to keep the family together – at least for most of the first year of S’s Manila tour. All that’s left is to pack up our life and move once more halfway around the world – our eighth move in as many years.

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