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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Wow, that is amazing...all I could do to hold back the tears...way to go (all of you!)!


This whole article was very moving. I can hardly imagine what such a gift will mean to the troops there. Thank you so much for doing something so personal.

Congratulations to your new Eagle Scout - what an honor!



oh, Kolbi, I'm here fighting tears, as well. You must be so proud of him (of both your boys)! What a beautiful and meaningful project. Congrats, Matthew!


Wow - I am in tears! What a 'Daring Adventure' for Matthew and for your whole family. I am in awe ... absolute awe ... at what he did for his project. At just 16 years old he "gets it" ... You and James should be so proud. You're raising an amazing son.

Mazel Tov! To all of you!


That is such an awesome accomplishment! Congrats Matthew!
I love the project, and that you were able to make it more personal. I think those make the best projects and really give the oppportunity to be involved in every step of the project! You guys are awesome!


That is such an awesome accomplishment! Congrats Matthew!
I love the project, and that you were able to make it more personal. I think those make the best projects and really give the oppportunity to be involved in every step of the project! You guys are awesome!


That is such an awesome accomplishment! Congrats Matthew!
I love the project, and that you were able to make it more personal. I think those make the best projects and really give the oppportunity to be involved in every step of the project! You guys are awesome!


Wow, so impressed! What a meaningful project! Those packages do mean a lot to the boys in Afghanistan. Our nephew is there and due back in a few weeks, so thank you for your efforts in his name and in the name of his friends!


That is SO great! I come from a family of Eagle Scouts and it is a lot of work. Tell your son congrats!

Heather GG

Three things: 1) Congratulations on your son's achievement!
2) the tattoo says "lao3da4ge1" which does mean big brother (literally old big elder brother.) Sometimes you might hear just "lao3da4" and it isn't always used just for blood relatives, but also close friends. I've been studying characters recently so I'm very proud I could read this one straight away.
3) I was very interested to learn there is an Oviedo in Florida. St. Augustine was founded by a man from the city of Avilés in Northern Spain (St. Augustine is the patron saint) and Oviedo is the capital of the province just down the road from Avilés. (I lived there so this is why I'm interested!)


Be proud of your son. What a great thing he has accomplished.

Sara Roy

That's amazing! Congrats on your achievements Matthew!!


Awwwww! So amazing! Happy!

Paul Ogne


Thank you for the sharing with Oviedo Presbyterian the opportunity to participate in this great project.

We lift up our prayers for the men and women serving around the world.

Paul Ogne
Oviedo Presbyterian Church

Catherine Avalone

Congratulations Matthew! My 18 year old son, Andrew is an Eagle Scout and we are in the final planning stages for his Eagle Court of Honor next Saturday, Oct. 23. Andrew spent three years planning, obtaining approval and raising $23,000 to build a gazebo honoring our city's veterans. He built the Veterans Memorial Gazebo on the South Green on September 19, 2009 on his 17th birthday. He has always shown a great appreciation for our veterans much like Matthew.

Matthew, well done! I wish you much success in the future!

Yours in Scouting,
Catherine Avalone

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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