drumroll please…

This post has been a long time coming.

It’s been over three years since Andy started the process to become a Foreign Service Officer himself, and that whole time the question has been hanging over us: Will this whole thing really work out? Will we really manage to be posted somewhere together? There have been many points along the way when we believed the answer to be “no.”

Here’s a refresher:

  • After Andy passed the oral assessment and found himself on the Management Register, we were told our best option was for him to defer until after I finished my tour in Cotonou; syncing up our tours then would be no problem, we were assured. As soon as I knew where I was going next the powers that be would tell Andy when he should join himself in order to get a post at the same place, which would be reserved for him.
  • After French, maternity leave, and some months in Cotonou, the rules about tandem assignments changed. Now there would be a problem syncing up our tours. Maybe we would get the same post. Maybe we wouldn’t. There were no guarantees. Andy would just have to join and see what happened.
  • Andy got cancer, so we forgot about the whole tandem quest for a while.
  • Andy got better.
  • I bid on my second tour, with the added complication of Andy not having a full medical clearance. Still, all the regulations led us to believe he would have it back in time for my next tour, so our strategy: getting me a post with tandem potential. I did not get a post with much tandem potential. Things did not look good.
  • Andy fought to get his full medical clearance back, which he’d need in order to join the Foreign Service himself — worldwide availability, and all. He was denied, he appealed, and after a lot of headaches and stress, finally won.
  • Despite the slim odds of being posted together, we decided not to give up just yet. Andy would join and we would see if there was still a way to make it work — knowing that one or both of us might resign if it didn’t. We waited for the timing to be right to give us the best possible chance.
  • A few months before Andy wanted to join, he gave the powers that be a heads up. Well actually, they told him, despite the fact that you’ve been working in an embassy and have an active security clearance, we’re going to need to do your security clearance again. It might take a while.
  • Meanwhile, the federal budget was in shambles and there were no guarantees about future Foreign Service hiring. If Andy didn’t get in this particular class, who knew when the next opportunity would be (and with later classes the odds of being able to sync up our timing grew more and more slim).
  • Luckily, several wonderful colleagues helped usher Andy’s new security clearance through just in time. He started getting ready for A100.
  • We found out I was pregnant. This made us even less willing to settle for a posting apart.
  • Andy started A100 and got the good news that the CDOs wanted to help us. In fact, they were even proactive and determined which posts would work for us before our first official meeting. They would break my assignment and assign us somewhere together. The fact that me being pregnant wouldn’t allow me to arrive at that original assignment on time anyway probably didn’t hurt things, either. Unfortunately, the options about where we could be assigned together turned out to be limited and came with long separations and no guarantee that Andy would be able to be there for the birth of baby #2. I’ve known couples who have made this sacrifice, but to us, it just felt like too much.
  • Andy’s CDO presented a new idea: he could do a one-year job in D.C. and we could bid later off of a new list with different options. This wasn’t the best plan career-wise for me, as it involved a lot of time floating around in temporary assignments, but we decided it was still the best call for our family. We’d both be in D.C. for baby #2’s birth and my maternity leave, and we’d probably be able to go somewhere together after that. But still, no promises.
  • A month or so into Andy’s D.C. gig, our new bid list came out. Things looked like they just might turn out okay after all. There were a surprisingly large number of options for us. We bid, we waited hopefully,  and that brings us to now…

After all this, and after six months of separation in order for a tandem posting to even be a possibility, we’ll be reunited in D.C. for Spanish training and after that, next summer/fall, we’ll be going TOGETHER, both as consular officers, to…


Mexico's colonial heart.

We actually bid this #1. It took us a while to get to that point because it’s not as flashy as some of our other options, but we think it’s a great fit for our family at this stage in our lives: culturally interesting, but still full of plenty of modern comforts. And close to home.

We're all pretty happy.


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15 Responses to drumroll please…

  1. Nomads By Nature says:

    Good Lord! That was one crazy roller coaster ride y’all were on! I am so thrilled for you to be posted together so you can support each other close by and celebrate together the addition of a new family member! Wishing you all the best through training, moving, and your pregnancy!

  2. Meaghan says:

    Wow congrats!! I was just in Guadalajara in February on vacation. It’s a lovely city – it’s got some rougher neighbourhoods, but overall it felt incredibly safe and welcoming. And the lucha libre is amaaaazing!

  3. Daniela says:

    I was just wondering where your next post would be… Congrats!!! So excited for you. When you become a tandem and there are kids in the family, being posted together becomes the most important thing, no?

  4. Texpatica says:

    Congrats! I’ve heard really good things about Guadalajara. 🙂

  5. Nick says:

    Hey, congratulations! We’ve really enjoyed our time here, you picked a winner.

  6. Allison says:

    Wow, I’m so happy everything is working out for you + Andy! Congratulations on your #1.
    Even though I’m really excited to be going to Manila I too am hoping our second tour might be a little closer to home!

  7. lynne says:

    It is soooo nice to hear the story does have a happy ending! I hear a lot of good things and am sure it will be a great post!

  8. Narra says:

    Yay! Congrats. We have really enjoyed living here, and continue to do so. All of us keep very busy. So much so that I rarely find time to post on our blog fivegs! Please feel free to email me any questions you have!

  9. Tiffany B. says:

    How exciting!!! Congratulations and I’m so happy that you will all be together as a family. =)

  10. Mara Rae says:

    Congratulations to both of you! Being a tandem couple looks tough, but pretty awesome if you can make it work. I hope you guys love Guadalajara! But no matter what, at least you’ll be together (and in this crazy life, that’s the thing that matters most).

  11. Alex says:

    Thanks everyone!

  12. Amanda says:

    Yay! I think Guadalajara should be fun, especially with the kids!

  13. STMemory says:

    YAY!!! So glad this worked out for you guys. What a long stressful process, but I’m go glad you are together. And Guadalajara will be awesome. Congrats!!

  14. EH says:

    I have friends who are currently a 1st/2nd tour tandem in Guadalajara with a similar family situation. Feel free to send me an email if you’d like for me to connect you to them.

  15. Stef says:

    I hope you don’t mind a question from someone you don’t know. I have been searching all over for information on what to get rid of vs. what to put in HHE before A-100. Is there a reason to bring yard tools along? Do you take care of your own yard, or does an association do it, or is it different at every post? I’m not sure how established you were as a household before you started, but if you did have all the “stuff” of an established suburban home, what would you have kept, and what would you have wanted to bring with you? Thanks!

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