Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pros and Cons of the Foreign Service

Deciding whether or not the Foreign Service is right for our family, has been a daunting task. (The decision has been made to try for it. ) I thought that I would share my pros and cons for anyone making the same decision or for anyone else that may wonder what our thought process was.  We really tried to think of any Pro or Con that we could think of.

Pros (with Potential Cons of the Pros)

  • Travel (expensive to travel)
  • Being exposed to new cultures (what if we're not happy or the people are rude)
  • Children would get a good education
  • Learn a new language (could be difficult to learn and would take time)
  • Church opportunities (because of not knowing the language might not have callings)
  • Savings
  • Hire help (could hire people who don't work well)
  • Ed would have an impressive resume
  • Ed would actually use his degree
  • no pet (miss pets)
  • See DC
  • Downsize (miss some of our things)
  • Better medical
  • Service
Cons (with potential Pros of Cons)

  • apartment living (free housing)
  • miss family (less drama)
  • miss friends
  • lack of Church callings (focus on other ways to serve)
  • homesick or lonely
  • having to rent or sell our house (no mortgage payments)
  • possible danger
  • Not a strong church influence (will force us to be strong and teach our children)
  • Communication home (skype, webcams, email)
  • Stress of the unknown
  • family would not come to visit (invite friends, other FSO families or extended family)
  • not having our own furniture (it is nice furniture, buy slipcovers)
  • Ed's time to study for the test (extra study time = passing the test)
  • Hard to learn a new language (always wanted to by bilingual)
  • No gardening (get out to see botanical gardens in other countries)
  • No food storage
  • Eating new foods
  • Ed might not like it (5 year commitment)
  • Girls moving every 2 to 3 years
  • Could be a pay cut
  • Our children won't get to know their cousins

Monday, August 9, 2010

Devil's Tower and Prairie Dogs

Today's adventure took us to Devil's Tower in Northeastern Wyoming. It was actually an enjoyable drive surrounded by farms, prairie and later small portions of forest.

Once we arrived in the general area of Devil's Tower, it was fascinating to watch it grow. For me, I didn't know how large it would be. This picture doesn't do it justice since we are several miles from the entrance of the park. It really is a large structure!

The name that it's been known by Native American's has the word bear in it, driven from the folklore surrounding it. It wasn't named Devil's Tower until the 1870s by a white explorer.

In the park there is a Prairie Dog reserve, properly named Prairie Dog Town. Off the side of the road you can see hundreds of earth mounds and little heads popping up. The animals would come right up to us but due to safety it isn't wise to touch or feed them. I don't know who was more excited to see them, Olivia or Lucy. Both girls squealed with delight!

We have also decided to start collecting stamps and sticker for our passport book. At most National Parks and National Monuments there is a station where you can stamp the name of the park/monument and the date into a book. The stickers are purchased which describe the place. I thought this would be a fun way to record our travels. Although now I think of the places we've visited in the past and don't have stamps or stickers for them. Including our trip to Mount Rushmore just a few days ago!

More adventures soon to follow!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Black Hills and Mount Rushmore

Today we had the opportunity to drive through the beautiful Black Hills and visit Mount Rushmore. This is something that I've wanted to do for some time. Although for some reason I didn't put it on my bucket list. I'll have to revise that.

For some time we've been talking about Washington and Lincoln. Olivia loves to find their faces on coins and sing little songs about them. Could you imagine how excited she was that we got to visit them today!

We enjoyed a Ranger led walk and learned about Mount Rushmore and the Presidents. I highly recommend it. It was fascinating to learn why they chose these four men and how it was made.

After our visit we drove through the Black Hills. It was beautiful! The only problem that we ran into was the number of motorcycles around for Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It will only get worse since Monday is the official start of the rally.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Decision Made-- Foreign Service

It never fails that when I start to get comfy in life, change is looming on the horizon. In June while Ed was working out of state, he contemplated about his job and life in general. He loves his job and we really have a great life right now (nice house, wonderful friends....overall we're happy) but started to think that he's not meeting his full potential. That got us thinking and one thing lead to another.

Back in the beginning of our marriage while Ed was attending the university, he was strongly considering applying and working as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO),the part of the State Department that supplies diplomats for the United States embassies and consulates around the world. This was the main reason why he studied and earned a degree in Political Science and Economics. He worked hard in school but by the time he finished his degree, Foreign Service was almost forgotten when he went to work for a great company.

A few weeks ago the Foreign Service resurfaced and we've been thinking about our futures in it. This certainly isn't a decision to be made lightly and even though the FSO people that we've contacted through blogs say to go for it and decide later, we really wanted to know if this was the right decision for our family. Much time, pondering, studying, fasting and prayer went into this decision.

With a decision made, now it's up to Ed to study for the FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test) the first step in this LONG process.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Handcarts -- Martin's Cove

We've headed out to visit Ed while he's working out-of-state. Our first stop on today's 12 1/2 hour trip: Martin's Cove near Alcova, Wyoming.

With Pioneer Day just a few weeks ago, we did a special Family Home Evening lesson on the Pioneers. I tried to describe the trek that was taken and the hardships to Olivia, but I'm sure she didn't fully understand. To bring it closer to home, we talked about her great-great-great grandmother, Rhoda Jane Bone Blamires, who was a young child when she walked across the plains. Olivia loves to talk about her and how she was a pioneer. I know that by coming to a place where the pioneers traveled through, she understands more.

Once at Martin's Cove, Olivia was extremely excited to pull a handcart! While we were waiting our turn she would tell every missionary that walked by that she was going to push a handcart.

For year's I've heard the stories about the Martin Harris Handcart companies and how they ended up stranded (in today's Martin's Cove). I knew how the food rations ran out, 1/4 of the people died and the hardships they endured. But actually seeing the site, reading their journals and viewing the monuments I couldn't help but cry a little. I couldn't imagine leaving everything I had behind in England and ending up stranded in a blizzard. How heartbreaking it would have been to hold Olivia and Lucy close to keep them warm and the only food I could offer them was the rawhide taken from the handcart wheels. It was definitely an experience I could feel.

Rhoda Jane Bone Blamires, Olivia's 3rd great grandmother, parents were supposed to be in the Martin Harris Company. Thankfully they didn't have the funds to continue on when they landed in New York. If not, they may not have survived.

As we've been driving, it has been interesting to see some of the national landmarks that people used who followed the Oregon, California and Mormon tails. Such places like Split Rock, Devil's Gate and Independence Rock.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Finally Teething--Lucy at 9 Months

Lucy has finally cut her first tooth. Unlike the norm, she did not cut a bottom tooth or even a top front. She cut her Upper Right Lateral (the one next to the front tooth). Being a little concerned, I asked her doctor and he said it's not average but perfectly normal. Thank goodness! Although if we were a part of some African tribes, the elders probably when have done away with my sweet girl. It is considered bad luck on the tribe to cut a top tooth first. (I don't remember where I heard this from, possibly National Geographic or something of the likes. I could hardly forget about those poor babies who were not average but perfectly normal!)

With teething comes multiple night wakings (right after we finally got down to once in the night) and being permanently cranky. At times I wish that babies didn't have to teeth. It may look odd, but wouldn't it be easier on everyone, except a nursing mother, if babies were born with all their teeth? Hopefully the next 4 that are trying to make their way to the surface come quickly!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Adventures in Photography: Clouds at Dusk

For a few years I have had a desire to learn photography. While my husband was attending the University, he took a photography class. With it, we purchased a really nice (and expensive) digital SLR camera.

Since it's our only camera, I use it frequently to photograph my children, events and vacations. But I always put it on the auto function and feel lucky to find two great photos out of one hundred. It was time to start learning how to properly use this camera.

Here is my first attempt at bracketing, using a tripod, and turning on the manual functions.

I'm looking at a few photography classes to take to really understand the art of photography!