Friday, August 28, 2009

Field Trip Time

When I was a kid a field trip meant trip to the Buttercrust Factory for a tour at the end of which we each received a pencil, a ruler, and a slice of Buttercrust bread still warm from the ovens. That was the good field trip. The alternative was a trip to one of the missions of San Antonio. Everyone has heard of the Alamo, but there is also Concepcion, San Jose, Espada and San Juan. I am pretty sure I went to every one of those missions on a school field trip at some time or other.

Yesterday my third grader showed up with a permission slip for a field trip. I have to admit I am jealous! None of my field trips were remotely as interesting as this one promises to be. What makes it so cool? For starters it is 3 days long. A sleep over trip. Here is the description from the permission slip:

  • Day1: Bus transfer after the regular school day to the Youth Hostel Büdingen. The group will be greeted by the youth hotel team with a welcome drink in an original middle ages goblet. After a warm dinner they will go by foot to the old town of Büdingen and participate in a Night Watchman stroll though the streets and narrow alleys of Büdingen.
  • Day2: After breakfast the children will go to the Büdingen castle and enjoy a tour of the proerties of the princely families of zu Ysenburg and Büdingen. Lunch will consist of a lunch pack provided by the Youth Hostel. In the afternoon they will learn how the pages, knaves, and knights lived and worked in the middle ages. A museums education officer will give the children insights into the making of ink, writing on parchment paper with Carolingian script and a traditional middle ages writing utensil and creating a family crest. In addition they will be dazzled by a weapons exhiit. The day will end with a group barbecue in a special barbeque hut.
  • Day3: After breakfast and vacating their rooms, the children will say goodbye and will take with them and array of memories and impressions of the Middle Ages. Bus transfer back to school by mid morning.

I am torn between being happy he gets to have this wonderful experience and wanting to grab on and hold him tight, he seems to be growing up too fast!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ouch! Slam!

Grayson is home sick today and Dakota doesn't start school until the 31st so they are hanging out together watching television. The cable is acting up AGAIN so Cody was loading a movie for Gray to watch. Gray of course wanted to help. Cody reminded Grayson that Dad's rule is only grownups can handle the DVD's so they don't get scratched. Gray looked at Cody and protested, "Your not a grown up you're a teenager!" Ouch! Slammed by a four year old!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The List, Narrowed Down

A while back I posted the long list of choices on our current bid list. Choices! That makes it sounds as if we look at the list, decide where we think would be cool, and then off we go. Ha! If only! The bidding process is long and complicated. It would help if you think of the bid list as a list of job openings for which we may apply. So you get this long list, then you decide maybe I would like to go to....hmmm.....we'll pick Paris. Then you research Paris, things to do, schools (if you have kids), housing, quality of life.....the research goes on and on. You start to dream of walking through the streets of Paris. This is usually my job. I get to do the research and decide if this is someplace we could live.

Next comes submitting the bid and lobbying for the position. Lobbying actually had more to do with who you know than any thing else. Networking it is a must! David gets to do the lobbying since he is the employee. And then you wait. And wait. And wait some more.

Oh, did I mention that while this is going on David is up for a promotion and if it comes through we will have redo our bids. So much fun. There is a more concise explanation of the bidding process over at Life After Jerusalem and another over at Email from the Embassy. I am not going to try to explain all the intricacies of bidding when others have already done a fine job of it.

Here is our short list. This is the list of places to which we submitted bids.

Lilongwe Malawi
Harare Zimbabwe
Kathmandu Nepal
Maputo Mozambique
Hanoi Vietnam
Dar Es Salaam Tanzania
Vientiane Laos
Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam

You may be thinking what happened to Paris? Well lots of things. First housing in Paris is apartments. We have 4 kids and are in an apartment now. It sucks. Kids need space to run and play with out worrying about bothering the people downstairs so Paris will have to wait. Second there are lots of people bidding on Paris and only one is getting the job. Then there is this notion of differentials. A differential is extra pay to offset the difficulties of living someplace difficult. All of the posts we bid on this cycle have a high differential. In addition there is this thing called fair share bidding in which you have to bid on a high differential post once in every 8 years and you have to continue to bid until you have served at a high differential post which resets your clock for another 8 years. Just the foreign service's way of making sure that people bid on places like Yaounde and Bujumbura. Confused yet? Don't worry me too. And finally we are ready for a change, a new adventure, something different. Africa would be a great adventure!