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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Absolutely stunning photos! I love the flowers! And I agree.. Shamwow is the cutest stuffed panda bear I've ever seen :) So glad you like your tutor. She does sound great! My kids are enthused about learning Arabic this year... Brian was out with the dictionary the other day making flash cards. Not homework... school is out in 1.5 days, he was simply being creative. I like it!


The panda is totally cute. Good luck with the language lessons! David would really like to go to Guangzhou some day but just the thought of trying to learn Chinese makes my stomach hurt.

The botanical gardens are totally my favorite. Are you surprised? I didn't think so. I could go there pretty much everyday, but once seems to be enough for the rest of the family. Sigh Oh well.


Thank you so much for answering my question, Kolbi! My husband didn't think we'd qualify but I thought it may be worth looking into. As it turns out we do not because he was not a fed employee prior to State hiring him. Good to know!

Lovely pictures! I have the Botanical gardens on my list of places to visit before we go overseas too.

Good luck with Chinese!

Melissa V

You are going to love the botanical gardens next spring when the azaleas are in peak bloom - it's fantastic.

David L.

One of the side effects of being home instead of being in an office during the day is I see more daytime commercials. Somewhat shockingly, one of Billy Mays' other product lines still uses those old commercials back from when he was living. (I think it is the Awesome Auger). I don't like the new ShamWow guy, but at least they moved on.


I am glad that every thing is moving along with Chinese. What a wonderful opportunity to be able to learn together as a family. I am glad you were able to find a tutor.
Of course, as usual, the pictures are beautiful.


Ok... so you do know that the ShamWow really does work, right? I'm TOTALLY serious too. My mom picked a ton of them up at a swap meet, and she loved how well they worked that she picked up another set for me.

Anyway, I have to say that I'm amazed with how many flower people there are out there. I don't have the greenest of thumbs, nor are there many flowers here, to really appreciate them as y'all do. But your photos are gorgeous!


Love the panda and flower pics and am so happy you and your family are enjoying Chinese!


Next time the boys all get together, I expect to hear them jibber-jabbering in a mix of Mandarin and Swahili!

Already my boys know more than I do. . . Great. . . Now ANOTHER secret language I can't understand for them to plan their mischief!


While Chinese is a ridiculously difficult language to learn (after a whole semester at college, I turned on the news and found, to my ecstatic joy, that I could hear INDIVIDUAL WORDS!!), I offer some hope:
I went and taught English in China for a semester, and most of my co-teachers spoke NO Chinese and had no language training before we got there. By the end of our 4 months, they could all get around town, shop, bargain, order food, and even make friends with random people in the city. A basic mastery of numbers, "this," "too expensive," etc, and you can get around. I'm sure you'll be way ahead of that if you have an actual (love her love her love her) Chinese tutor. :)

Ryan Locke

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.)



I'm a sucker for pictures with plenty of color and contrast. Great pictures.

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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