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.
Blog powered by Typepad

« The International Spy Museum, the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, and Chinatown | Main | ShamWow! (or: Fun with the Chinese Language) »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Here's another thought for you. Can you find a break in James' training where you can "go back" to Houston for even a week? So that the clock restarts on the year?


oh man, this about gave me hives. So many of the financial decisions State people talk about are over my head! But I really appreciate you sharing it as I see that I'll have to get my head out of the sand and pay attention to this stuff. Thanks for breaking it down. Congrats on making a decision...


These are the exact same scenarios we had to look at when deciding whether to go TDY or PCS when Matt goes to Iraq...

It's NEVER a win/win situation... and one that often leads you to question if you made the right decision.

We too decided to PCS vs TDY. I totally understand why you did it too... Best of luck as you sell your place!


We went back and forth on the TDY vs. PCS thing,too. However, ISMA tipped the scales for us.

Oh, and happy to help and thanks :-)

David L.

One of the biggest thorns in my sides with the government and State Department is why local hires don't get a per diem, too.


Thank you for writing all of this out. . . We aren't at this point (yet) but. . . so very helpful. (And, oh yeah. . . having FL be our home state for-ev-ver has made me shudder at the thought of state income taxes.)


Thank you, thank you, thank you! Nobody ever posts about this stuff and it is SO important. Just another reason why I love reading your blog :)


thanks for posting this! we are waiting for the invite to A-100 but it is exactly this type of practical info that is helpful to FSOs and their families


Yes, really good info here.

We are in a similar situation with a house in Fl that we'd like to sell before we go overseas in about a year. Ours is a little more complicated because there are some legal issues regarding the house and we can't sell it until those are settled but hopefully soon.

We were brand new when we moved here for training and I am wondering if State would help us with closing costs when we do get to selling the house. Do you happen to know?

And you are absolutely right, there are a lot of decisions that affect your finances in a big way. It's not trivial.


Okay, so I realize that this post is addressing far more important issues than what I am going to bring up, but hey, this is my comment.
The other thing that is expensive, everytime you move, you have to buy new cleaning supplies, condiments, and all the little things you think will be there when you get there and they are not. Like a kitchen table or a tub for the kids. A lot of expenses come up, and it can be a real bummer. But then you live somewhere for 2-3 years and you forget, and then you do it all over again.
I really hope that everything works out. I think a mattress can be an item of great importance. That and my favorite kitchen items.

Sara Roy

It's Friday and that means that the State Department Weekly Roundup is up and you're on it! Check it out here:

If I used your blog and photo and you want one or both of them removed, please let me know!


You came up on the first page of google, as I was trying to figure out how to do our PCS travel voucher thingy. Sigh. Since I'd read this before, I knew it didn't have the info I needed, but had to click over to wave "hello!" anyway!

Alison Crabtree

Thank you for the post. I have one question do, seems that your home home state is TX for taxes purposes. If you sell your house you dont have a residence there anymore. Do you have to change your home state for taxes purposes? Do you keep some type of mailing address in TX for that purpose? This is our first assignment and we have FL as our state. My mother in law lives there. We have our mailing address there. If she sells her house dont know what we will have to do.
Any input is really appreciated..

The comments to this entry are closed.

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. 

Become a Fan

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!
free counters
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