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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SugarMama TulipGirl

Oh, my! Poor boy!

Hmmmm. . . I wonder what my boys are assuming / wondering / thinking about Africa. . .


I am glad to hear you will have a working toilet. Good news, for everyone.

Second, Happy, Happy Birthday Zachary. I think a cupcake is in order. I believe we will treat ourselves over on this side of the country.

Third, I have tried google-ing different things to get to your blog. Very interesting. Sometimes, it is not your blog, but other blogs about the time you 'disappeared'.


That's absolutely fabulous about the it! Oh, and Happy Birthday, Zachary!


There may be a bathroom in your apartment, but be forewarned- the bathrooms of China can be pretty heinous. I hear the ones at the top of Tiger Leaping Gorge resemble something out of the Labors of Hercules. And no matter what anyone tells you, do not try using the trench toilet in the Pingyao train station. But do go to Pingyao, because it was very, very cool. Just, uh, don't pee there.

When I got back to Japan after a vacation in China, I was ready to kiss the toilets at the Kansai International Airport.


First Zachary has the same birthday as Grayson! Gray is now old enough to need both hands to say how he is- 6. Waaa I am old!

Second you will have bathrooms in the house with functioning toilets but if it is anything like Jakarta (and I am betting it is) you will learn to skip coffee/tea/water/all-liquids-of-any-kind before going out to do your shopping so that you won't have to use the toilet, and you will have a mental list of public western style toilets so that if the worst happens and you HAVE to use the toilet you can avoid squatters. Trust me on this!

Now i need to quit typing and go make an eyeball birthday cake as requested by the birthday boy. I think Dad was involved in this somehow.


You can count on pit toilets at some point, though, particularly if you go into the countryside, although I grew to like them in Japan. When I came back and saw seats in public bathrooms I was all, ewwwww! Someone just sat their sweaty butt on that seat before me! However, I knew people in Japan who wouldn't use the toilet at work because it was a squat toilet; they would hold it until they got home. And those with squat toilets in their apartments were known to put a toilet seat on it and sit on the floor, which I found pretty gross. I learned how to squat and pee in the woods as a kid, so it wasn't too much of a transition. Looks like Japanese and Chinese toilets are similar in style, since the link redirects to toilets in Japan, though I've heard Chinese toilets aren't as clean. Japanese people wear different shoes in the bathroom so as not to track germs all over, a practice I kind of miss, too. Very OCD-friendly. :)

Also, there are chinese characters that mean "relaxing bathroom time." And the characters for letter (hand paper) in Japanese mean toilet paper (hand paper) in Chinese.

K, I'm done now. :)


Whoops! Looks like that link didn't work -- here's the right one:


Happy, happy birthday to Zachary!

I have to agree with Missy on the squatters (as in squatting toilets). As long as they are not filthy, I much prefer them to the sit-on variety in public bathrooms because they are much safer for your health. You don't have to touch anything, which is not the case for sit-ons. I have a very hard time using a sin-on public bathroom because the thought of who may have used it before me just completely grosses me out.


!!!!HAPPY BIRTHDAY ZACHARY!!!! Hope you feel better and have a wonderful day to start a new wonderful year!

My first thought about Matthew's question is that you guys do not mess with your kids' minds enough. I wouldn't have got past the first "no, but there might be an outhouse" with mine. ;) Last night at dinner:

Brian(9yo): "Can I have a roll?"
Brad, snickering: "Yes, but you MAY not."
Brian, pauses, takes a roll, looks his dad in the eye: "I. Hate. Grammar."
Me: "Except when it suits your needs?"
Brian: "Of course."

We've only had to deal with trench toilets in Amman once, on a field trip to a poor girls' school. Just imagine trying to get a bunch of 1st graders, most had never seen one of those things, to use a trench, before they got back on the bus! Most chose to hold it, even my kid. We had some desperate children by the time we got back to school!


Happy belated birthday Zachary! I hope you had a wonderful day!!!!!!!!!!!!

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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.)
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