Monthly Archives: February 2012

02.28.12Want to Come to Paris With Us? *Closed until next year :)*

Thank you so much everyone who was interested. We have closed the application accepting and are moving on to interviewing those people we think would best suit our family. We received a crazy amount of extremely qualified applicants and were thrilled at the response! If you are interested but couldn’t come this year we will need an Au Pair again next year!! Christopher and I have been going back and forth and back and forth about having an au pair while we are in Paris. We loved having our dear Che Che while in Timor:

While living there it was extremely hard to “get out” with the kids. The heat was oppressive, the dirt overwhelming and the kids were constantly touched, grabbed pinched etc.  and even once Sawyer had a rock thrown at him. Our kids were generally good natured about it thankfully, especially Finn, nothing bothers this little guy:

It was such a blessing to have Che Che so I could grocery shop in the insane heat by myself, drive the dirt roads to and from Sawyer’s school with just him etc.

In Paris we will obviously not have the same problems. Instead we will have the “problem” of wanting to see EVERYTHING and have four cuties five and under in toe. We decided that since we will only be there for two years we need to make the most of it. This means having an Au Pair so in the evenings after putting the kiddos to bed we can take a walk on the seine, with out worrying about someone falling in ha! Or every other saturday visit a museum in the morning together. Or maybe actually being able to A. Go to an amazing restaurant once in a while B. Be able to afford the meal since it is just two instead of six and C. Get through said meal with out someone launching a dish across the room. Since the metro’s have no elevators this means hauling a double stroller and groceries around will be pretty hard hence the decision to hire an Au Pair. So do you want to live here:

Simply Bloom Photography

with us? 

We are already interviewing two young ladies but wanted to make sure we find the right person for our family… since they will be living with us ha! It is important to note that being an Au Pair is not being a “nanny”.  Being an Au Pair is a program with set guidlines from the French Governement. Adhering to these guidlines is the only way we can get you the correct visa.

Here are some of the Embassy dictated guidelines and monetary compensation suggestions:

Procedures for bringing an Au pair to Paris

(Information provided by Human Resources Office, Tri-Mission Paris, January 2012)

The Au pair trip is a cultural and linguistic stay the aim of which is the discovery of a language and its culture.  In exchange of his/her work the student is living with a family, provided food and lodging as well as a small financial compensation.

As a general rule, the Au pair takes care of the children and completes some domestic chores.  He /she has an individual bedroom, is granted one and a half day leave per week and receives a compensation of 250 to 300€ per month.

 Various contractual arrangements are possible:

      Au pair:  This is the most common arrangement

–        30 hours domestic work per week;

–        4 evenings of baby- sitting per week;

–        2 to 3 hours of language class, paid by the host family;

–        250 to 300 Euros compensation per month.

Some of our personal Preferences:

1. You must be female and over 18

2.  Have experience with children (not just “like them”)

3. Be interested in exploring Paris and take required weekly courses in French (required by the local gov’t)

4. Willing to work about (but probably less then) 25 hours a week and every other saturday for a few hours

5. Able to commit to at least one full year with us in Paris

6. Willingness to travel with us on occasion (especially to Ireland to visit my family… right Aunt Julianna and Felicity? :))

7. Desire to have a fun and crazy time with a very fun and crazy family

What you will get out of it: 

1. Room and board with private furnished bedroom and bathroom on a US Guarded Compound (so your parents don’t need to worry)

2. Use of our guest room at specified times if you have guests who would like to visit

3. Monthly monetary compensation on par with local rates (see above)

4. Chance to travel throughout Europe on your frequent time off

Do you know anyone phenomenal that is looking to spend at least a year in Paris? If you do please have them email their resume and a breif description of themselves to us at kelly {at} sewinginnomansland {dot} com



02.25.12Tiny Curtsy Skirt

(I spell curtsy like five different ways in this post ha! According to Wikipedia it can be spelled Curtsy, Courtsey or Curtsey)

I have been wanting to whip Chloe up a skirt out of this scrap of fabric I had for a while. It is one of my favorite fabrics from Heather Bailey (whom I love). I only had a little bit but I knew I wanted it lined as well. I knew I only had about ten minutes of free time in which to make it. If you are new to sewing you will love this because of how easy it is. If you are an advanced sewer you will adore it because you can literally do it start to finish in about ten minutes and I bet you have everything you need already in your stash

What you will need:

A fat quarter (I used less) of fabric

Same amount of plain cotton

A strip of small elastic

Sewing machine etc.

Taddah! Now your little doll is all ready to curtsy!

Isn’t Chloe getting so big! She is such a sweet heart.
She still spits up an ocean about every other minute and I have never done so much laundry in my life, but she is sooooo happy none of us really mind :) I can’t believe in a few weeks she will be five months! WOAH!!! Hope you can grab some scraps and whip up some skirts for a cute you know.

02.24.12Foreign Service Friday…lets try this again

I have REALLY been wanting to post about life in the Foreign Service every Friday. It is a huge part of our lives (ha obviously) that I don’t talk about very much any more on the blog. Additionally I want this to be on the blog in case there are other people who are thinking about joining the Foreign Service and want to know what it is really like. This is a repost from a few years ago. I think we should start at the beginning right?

Warning: This is a longgggg post. I tried to stick some random pics in just to break it up ha!
I know it is super dooper late but I wanted to make sure to start Foreign Service Friday. Plus I still haven’t roped anyone into coming and getting a picture of the Frosted Pane Adult Bolero (I would take one myself but we actually do not own a full length mirror… yeah it has been over a year since I saw myself top to bottom, scary huh) so the tutorial will have to wait. I thought I would talk a bit about how we started this wonderfully crazy globe hoping life that we are currently living. When Chris (my husband) graduated from Law school

(don’t mind me seven months preggers with Evie)

he had applied to hundreds of jobs and received several offers, but he had also begun the process to join the Foreign Service. It has always been his dream to work at Embassy’s all over the world and represent our nation in foreign lands. We both knew it was extremely rare to be accepted as a foreign service officer (less then 3% of people who start the process are hired) so Chris began the process fully expecting to get a rejection a long the way. It is a lengthy process. First you must take a written exam which I hear most people compare to being on Jeopardy. You have no idea what questions are going to be asked since they can be on any topic, I mean literally ANY topic. One of the questions on his test was “Who was the first African American to read a poem at a Presidential Inauguration?” See? Totally random. Once you have passed this part there is a written part with essays etc. Once you pass that part there is the formal review. This is where they look at your background, interest, references etc. and decide if they want you to go any further. Once they give you a chance you are invited to what are called the “Orals”, where you are put into a group with several other candidates and presented with problems and then watched by “graders” to see how you all fare. You have to fly in to attend and stay over night all on your own dime. Chris studied like crazy for this. He drove up to DC about five times to meet with other candidates and practice. He drove to North Carolina to attend a seminar on the topic, he was dead serious about passing.  What is crazy is that after an entire day of this “judging” you are let out of the building and told to return in an hour or so, upon returning you are told if you made it or not. Chris was pretty much wandering the National Mall in a haze. He did make it and couldn’t be more thrilled… except thats not the end of the process. Just because you passed the orals doesn’t mean you have a job, oh no that would be to easy. Then you are placed on a list. This list is ranked according to your score at the orals. You have one year to be selected off the list before you are booted and have to start the process all over again. Luckily for us Chris scored extremely well on the orals and was offered a position the day Evie was born (that was a VERY happy day for our family, it ironically enough was also the day after Chris took and passed the Virginia bar). We were told to pack up and report to DC in September. This is where the real fun begins. If you live outside of DC when you are hired then the government pays for all your moving costs, plane tickets and temporary housing (which, if you live in the gov’t temporary housing, also includes a housekeeper once a week, cable TV, electric etc. all paid for). Now is also the time to say good bye to rent since anytime you live outside the US the government pays for your housing, furniture, electric bill, your children’s school tuition at private international schools etc. These were all pretty big perks I didn’t really understand before working for the State Dept. I of course was pretty darn excited to be back in DC. I love DC and had lived there while Chris was in Iraq with some fantastic roommates. Plus one of my best friends from law school times was living in Fairfax. At first I was sort of in a daze, not really knowing what was in store, meeting people on the complex playground who named off countries they had lived in like a laundry list. Chris had started what is refereed to as A-100. This is basically Diplomate bootcamp. You are a group of new hires all being trained how to represent the US Gov’t abroad. Then bid list day came. This is the day when your A-100 group receives a list of over 100 places you could be sent. You are expected to rank them and give explanations for your top 10.  I still remember clear as a bell Skyping with Chris’s parents that day. My microphone on our computer wasn’t working so I was literally scribbling on a pad of paper. They asked where I thought we would go. I scribbled “East Timor” and held it up. They were a little shocked as most good Grandparents would be. I mean, when you google East Timor you basically get a horror story of Indonesian violence, civil unrest and UN peacekeeping troops. I have to be honest and say that neither Chris or I were super gun-ho to come to East Timor. It DID look scary and we had three tiny children. So when we made out list we made sure that Timor was NOT one of our high bids. When we met with Chris’s Career Development officer to discuss our list she immediately assured us that we would not be going to East Timor because the position was not what Chris had been slotted to do. We were a little shocked as there were only 3 proficient Portuguese speakers and he was one of them and Timor needed a Portuguese speaker immediately, but we were glad that it was off the table. Several weeks later Flag Day arrived. This is when the entire A-100 class and their families are brought into an auditorium to hear where they are going. We wanted all our our cuties there so thankfully my fabulous friend Kerstin took the day off work and came to help me wrangle them.

Chris had to sit separate with all his classmates, who were all holding bingo cards with names of countries on them and a printed out sheet with all the names and corresponding flags. They then march in all the flags and set them on a table up front
We did not have to wait long. After three DC positions were called (and Istanbull which would have been awesome) they held up the flag for East Timor. The announcer called out “And going to Dili, Timor-Leste…” little flag waving for suspense, me looking around to see what sucker gets called “Christopher Crawford!” Gasps! Now let me explain something. There is a certain something called “Differential” in the state department. It is a percentage of extra pay you get depending on several things but for simplicity sakes lets just say the harder the place the higher the differential. There are only 3 places with a higher differential then Timor: Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yeah, it is THAT hard. Everyone in Chris’s class is WELL aware of this. Everyone in Chris’s class also knows our family and that we have a brand new baby and two tiny boys. So when I say there was a gasp, there was a total gasp as everyone looked over at me, standing there bouncing Evie to keep her calm. Chris stood and collected his flag, Sawyer RAN to help him
I stood there stunned. Not as you would think out of horror or fear or anything like that. See I had thought from the moment I wrote East Timor down on that pad of paper that THIS is where we as a family were supposed to be for the next two years.
It wasn’t until Chris’s CDO told us otherwise that I even started to think about anywhere else. I wasn’t upset, I felt, relief, almost. It is a lost easier to do something scary when you know without a doubt that it is exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Now granted the things that I considered hardship are different from most. I don’t talk about it on the blog often because it is very personal to me but my family are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we were going to be the only members on the island. There aren’t even missionaries in this country yet (Oh how there should be). I saw this as a mixed blessing at first. Here I have three children and as any of you other parents might know three hours of church takes on a whole knew meaning when you have toddlers and babies. Living in Timor we would have church at home and somewhat on our terms, which I thought at the time would be a huge positive… but more on that later. We sat through the rest of flag day watching all our friends receive their assignments, most thrilled, only one cried, and then had a blast talking to everyone about the future postings. Chris is still in contact with most of his A-100 classmates, I think something as nerve wracking as flag days really bonds you ha!
(dude could my pants get any tighter in this picture… lets just say I was pretty desperate to be back in my normal clothes post Evie birth, maybe a bit too desperate?)
We headed home and called our families (it is sort of like a mission call in that way, everyone is making guesses and excited to hear). We of course had to make lots of assurances that the grandchildren would be safe, although honestly these were completely hollow as we had no idea what we were in for. Then we spent the rest of the night saying to each other “wow, East Timor” to which the other would respond “yeah, East Timor”, and of course the over the top web searching began! So that my friends is how we joined the foreign service and received our first posting assignment. Of course as you now know we are headed to Paris next and are currently in DC studing French… but that my friends is for another Foreign Service Friday post :)