This is us.  The one showing lots of shoulder (in her Chengdu, China Marine Ball ball gown!) is the EFM who writes this blog. The one wearing a tux (James) is the employee who moves her (and their two sons) around all over the world. The red link, below, is how you can get in touch with me...

The time in Chengdu, China

Chengdu: city of fabulous food and beautiful Buddhist monasteries!
Yes, Beijing's Forbidden City (pictured, above) is really pretty and all, but I like Chengdu much better than Beijing!

In Our Same Boat (with State)

  • Beyond the Cornfields
    Brand-new State Department family in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Love their two little girls (she just recently had a baby while being posted in Dhaka), horticulture, traveling and adventure!
  • Email From The Embassy
    State Department family formerly in Beijing, China, and recently posted to Amman, Jordan. A trailing spouse, she's also a writer, and frequently publishes articles with major news sources. A very experienced State family, this new post is something like overseas post number six or seven for them.
  • Just US
    A beautiful family of seven - they have arrived at their new post: Jerusalem! They just finished off an unaccompanied tour to Iraq and are very much looking forward to sightseeing around the middle east.
  • Our Life
    State Department family on their second post...Tijuana, Mexico. It's their first overseas assignment and they have two little boys. They love Tijuana so far and post pictures frequently! They also get to enjoy the best of both worlds for they can sneak over the border into San Diego when they want to!
  • The Dinoia Family
    State Department family formerly in California, now in DC for a DC tour. Next, the husband will do a one year unaccompanied tour. A very experienced State family (formerly in Iceland and Caracas) with a blog that has been around quite a while and has great archives. Jen has a sweet heart and a lot to give!
  • The Perlman Update
    State Department family formerly in Chennai, India, who then did a year-long unaccompanied tour in Iraq. They are now on a DC tour and after that will do another unaccompanied tour (Afghanistan). She totally tells it like it is and doesn't sugar-coat what life is really like. Witty, snarky, funny and down-to-earth. Look elsewhere if you want fake. Read if you want REAL.
  • Where in the World Am I?
    State Department family formerly in Bujumbura, Burundi and now in Hyderabad, India. They just had their first baby this summer - a beautiful little girl- (there's a separate blog about this) and she also eats gluten-free (with a separate blog, also).
One of the most intriguing things about Chengdu is that it is a seamless blend of ancient and modern... all together, side by side.

Can't Live Without (non-State)

  • Crass-Pollination: An ER blog
    The best ER nurse blog EVER!
  • Doctor Grumpy in the House
    The best doctor blog EVER!
  • In Which...
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of seven. Her darling daughters are, goshdarnit, probably too young to be hoped for as my future daughters-in-law.
  • The Crib Chick
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of five. Hopefully two (Any two! I'm not picky!) of which are my future daughters-in-law.
  • the underwear drawer
    An anesthesiologist who is possibly the most talented & entertaining writer ever. I've read her blog ever since she started medical school. No, don't know her in real life. Wish I did.
  • The Bloggess
    This blog is both hysterically funny and hilariously irreverent. I actually let my 17 year old son read it (who loves it as much as I do!), but wouldn't even CONSIDER letting my 12 year old son read it. Which is about all the description it needs!
The grounds of Chengdu monasteries can be very, very peaceful...even though they are smack dab in the heart of a city of millions of people.


Yes, there are Starbucks in Chengdu! All over the place, in fact. So much so, Starbucks even crafted mugs for Chengdu stores!
Texan bluebonnets. Because I learned during our very first posting (Houston) that there's nothing prettier in the spring than the meadows of Texas.
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Oh No! So sorry you have had hard times to cry over lately, but so happy you have a sweetheart of a husband to take you on an outing when you desperately needed one. My net has been terribly slow lately and I am behind on news and such... sorry I've been out of touch and wish I was there to share hugs, coffee, and a shoulder when you need it. :( I don't know if I've missed if you've said why things are giving you a hard time, esp. with the homeschooling, but I'm sending you some long distance caring!!! btw... I am so totally jealous of your beautiful manicured toesies tiptoe-ing through the forest! As usual, you have some amazing photos to share. That squirrel is cute! Seriously! I love to barefeet, and there's hardly ever a place safe enough to do so. Not sure I would want a pair of shoes that are so hard to get on/off either... as I said, I prefer barefeet and even lace shoes interfere with that goal. For difficult terrain, we've discovered LL Bean's Explorer sandals. Cool, comfy, tough! They aren't as darling as those high-heeled sandals you're modeling, but they're cute in an outdoorsy sort of way. Anyway... extra hugs, and hope things turn around for you soon!


I meant to e-mail you about the homeschooling decision when I saw your house-hunting post on Livelines the other day. I'd be interested in the details if/when you decide to share them. It's a huge decision, and as you know from our previous conversations, what's right at one point isn't necessarily right at another.
That said, I hope you're feeling better about it all soon. Let me know if you need anything.


Hugs to you. From my heart - hugs and comfort.

Loved your pictures and writing. It is so good to "hear" you again.

Abigail would like to know what kind of snake
'twas in your picture. (Of course she would!)



Oh, sorry you've been in the doldrums. Hopefully, you will feel better soon. We are here to "listen" whenever you are ready to talk about it, if it will make you feel better.

I actually think Shannon's crazy shoes are really cute. If they weren't so expensive, I'd be wearing a pair but they alas, they are, so we'll have to wait.

We'll have to go check out Turkey Run Park 'cause it looks lovely. We've driven by it many, many times, just never stopped.

Thanks for the lovely pictures!


FIrst thanks Daniella for saying my shoes are kinda cute. They are totally comfy and after the first few times not too hard to get on. Just saying.

Columbia makes some totally cute, comfy, and easy to put on sandals. They might be a good choice for the trail that let's you show of that adorable pedi you are sporting. My sister-in-law hiked all over Germany wearing some last summer.

I am sorry you are having a hard time with the decision. *hugs* hope you are feeling better soon. I am sure after all the hard work you have put in teaching and guiding your young men that they will excel at whatever challenges come their way.


Oh and I started a blog post on the differences between American Squirrels and European Squirrels but since the external hard drive with all my photos was shipped it will have to wait until we get to Africa. Hopefully all our pictures will make it OK.


Sorry to hear last week was not a great one! I hope this week goes better for you.

Your sandals (the not practical to go hiking in) are very cute! As always, I loved reading about your adventure. Maybe I will take the kids to check out Turkey Run one day this summer.


Beautiful pictures! I'm sorry to hear about the tears. I, too, have shed many a tear since this whole FS thing began. There are just so many ups and downs, and emotional landmines, but luckily they are staggered with periods of amazement and opportunity.

I definitely want to try out this hike when we are back in DC. Where is it?



Ugly shoes :( Cute toes :)

Mrs. V and I mourn for you, K. So sorry about your situation and your evolving necessities, but I'm sure you've borne it with grace and aplomb, at least most of the time.


Oh K!! I am so sorry to hear that you're upset - and having a tough time with this decision... I wish I could have been an ear for you. I feel so out of touch - please forgive me!

Though on a funnier note, my husband is DYING for a pair of those type of shoes too ... and as soon as we buy a car his next stop is to the shoe store! Me? I feel the same way as you!


Don't go for the toe-shoes! But do go to REI and try on some nice, cute, walking sandals or sneakers, and then when you find a pair and size that you like, go to Zappos or someplace else online and buy them cheaply. They'll be great for walks in all the parks you'll be visiting over the next year.


Yes. . . all the emotions of school and decisions and homeschooling and letting go and dreams and daydreams and reality. . . So hard. . . So emotional. *hug*

And, totally hear you on the shoes and pretty toenails and such. *L*


Cute, cute toes. Cute shoes. (The ones you own.) Although the ones you tried on look like they have painted toenails built in, that is fun.

It looks like life is going to be an even bigger adventure for your family. Maybe a daring adventure? Okay, I did it...I went there.
Good luck with the logistical part. For me that is always the most frustrating.


While gearing up for this life of adventure (you're closer than I, but still!), we're ready to make a lot of changes. But then the unexpected changes come, and it can be hard. I'm sorry you're facing one right now.
And also, try not to think of how many other people may have tried on those shoes before you. ;)


It’s Friday, and that means that the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up – and you’re on it!

Here is the link:

(If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)



just thank you

Source Outdoor

Your sandals are really very cute. It looks like life is going to be daring adventure for you and your family. I love to do.


I totally don't believe you aren't a girly-girl. Dude, look at those toes! A PEDICURE? I was 30 years old before I was brave enough to get one, you know...and that was only cuz someone else forced me and was paying!


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James loves me. And our sons. And his job. But not having his picture taken. In 2011 he finished up over a year and half of training, and in the fall of 2011 we got to our first overseas post - Chengdu, China!
Mao says hi! Because Chengdu is one of the only cities in China with a Mao statue.
Flowers are like friends. Each one is unique. Each one is beautiful. They brighten up everything around them. And you can never have too many. 

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2012 is the Year of the Dragon, y'all! Talk about the ultimate in good luck! This kinda party only comes around once every twelve years!
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Colorful! (Inside a Chengdu ancient Buddhist monastery.)
Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore taking pictures? Here are some that I've taken recently:
A Daring Adventure's items Go to A Daring Adventure's photostream