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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Just an FYI, the motorcycle is not necessarily part of your HHE. More importantly, the reason the MCD didn't know is because State doesn't have the final say...the importing country does. For instance, in India, a motorcycle is considered a POV and must be shipped as such. You will then use/lose your one POV w/dip tags allotment. Other countries may allow the motorcycle as part of HHE and thus you could still ship a car.

The shipping as HHE scenario would be extremely helpful if a family were going to a post that had a long commute between Embassy/consulate and home. The employee could use the motorcycle for commuting and leave car at home for family use.

Anyway, there you go...for a change, has nothing to do with State, it's all up to your new host country. Hope that helps!


I read the part about the clean shaven at FLETC, and I was confussed. Ben and some of his classmates had a beard growing content during FLETC. So I asked him. They were allowed to have beards, but he has a feeling that they might have ruined it for everyone. Sorry James, and anyone else that can't have facial hair.
To Ben's credit, it might not have been just because their hair growing contest, there might be someone new in charge that is a little more strict. I don't know. Things change.

The "clean shaven" question made me laugh. The number of times I've had beard/mustache growing contests with my colleagues overseas... well, OK, the answer to that is twice. But still: it's a federal job, and they can't make you shave. Or take out your earrings. Or get your tattoos removed.

A Daring Adventure

@ Jen! That is so interesting! The person who emailed me about the motorcycle was actually going to be doing a domestic-to-domestic move, not an overseas move. So I guess an overseas move would be super different!

@ Emily - GEE THANKS, BEN!! :) (Just kidding)

Basically, James' class got in a tug of war/power struggle at FLETC over facial hair and were finally (a couple of weeks into FLETC) required to all universally and uniformly clean-shave. I seriously can't understand what the big 'ol deal is over facial hair and why they couldn't have all just kept their facial hair, but no one consulted me! :)


No facial hair at FLETC? Mike and his classmates took advantage of being away from their wives and girlfriends to grow facial hair that was as crazy as possible.

And I see someone else also weighed in on motorcycles. Mike's trying to decide if he buys one in India or brings one in with us. We're buying our car there, so we have our POV allotment to use for one. Burundi, however, didn't really care and we know people who brought three in their HHE plus had their POV.

Melissa V

These are fantastic and unexpected questions! If anyone is wondering about beards for FSO Generalists, I'm in A-100 right now, and there are at least three guys with beards in my class.


Great post! Useful info! I had read about the moving process and was fully expecting our movers to have a scale but they didn't. They just eyed our UAB and basically told us when we had reached our limit. When we got our stuff in DC and I looked at the documents it turned out they were off by about 75 lb. That's 75 more pounds we could have had for stuff to use during training that we didn't get because they didn't have a scale. Oh, well...


I'm not sure how I found your blog, but I'm sure glad I did. It looks like I've hit the mother load of DoS blogs! My husband is a DS agent as well (in Houston actually) and we're just starting the bidding process for our first overseas post (fingers crossed we actually get one). I can't wait to read all about your adventures.

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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