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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Kolbi I'm sorry to hear another UAB story just happened to your friend but I can offer some advice. Reaching way back into my brain from when I used to work at Lord & Taylor Dept. I have a few suggestions. While she is waiting for reimbursement, she will need clothes to wear to work.
1) With such a large task I strongly suggest that she call up her favorite Dept store manager/district mgr, such as at Lord & Taylor or Macy's and explain what happened and her need for help. The manager should be able to accommodate her with a special personnal shopper appt (at no extra cost) and tell her to ask for a discount since she needs to make such a large purchase. The manager or Human Relations manager should be able to match her up to a very helpful salesperson that can pull her size and described styles (she can even browse online) so that it wont take her long at all. The good thing about the dept store is that she can work a discount and get all pieces of the outfits needed in one place. She could even charge on their store account and get another 10% off.
2) She could buy one expensive but on sale matching skirt, pants, and jacket set (in a neutral black, brwn or navy and then 3-5 blouses to get her started if she is tight on funds. "Jones" label is very good at offering upscale professional suits for women.
3) Hope that helps! Oh and if she does use the call to the manager to make a personnal shopping appt tell her not to forget to write a quick "letter of recommendation" for the salesperson. It helps them get bonuses and raises.


That does seem VERY suspicious! Seriously. This type of damage has (touch wood!) NEVER happened to us. We've had crates banged up a little...meaning corners dented, even a small hole punched (with scrapes on the outside from obvious handling with a machine). We returned to the US with homemade METAL lockers once that had dings (and were opened by customs) but we've never had one of those huge, solid, cardboard crates actually break open. They do NOT break. They're usually made of that super-thick, not-tearable-by-human-hand, cardboard. I mean, have you ever TRIED to break one down?? You can get the tape off, but forget busting the cardboard. How can so much damage happen on 'accident'??


I am so sorry for your friend. You just have to scratch your head and wonder what happened- I mean the shipment was coming from Houston to VA, not across the world! I do appreciate you sharing this story, though, because I was considering not getting insurance for my UAB but now I will. I think Clements covers damage as well, and I've read that everyone should make sure they are covered for damage as well as loss. I would really appreciate if you would share more details when you get them. Thanks Kolbi.


Oh that is tough. I always suggest insurance, but it is good to know to have damage as well as loss, and from what I have heard, insurance for hijacking. Do they even have that?
You know, I thought moving would be stress free because someone else was doing it for us, but there are still stresses. Even if they pay to replace stuff, it would be easier if it would just arrive perfectly. Such is life. Sometimes things don't go the way you want them to.


That is just... ugh. I shipped my UAB from Maine to D.C. when I headed down here for training, and it arrived really quickly and in the same condition in which it left home. I agree that those boxes are next to impossible to rip open- I don't know how to assimilate that information with those pictures, but it's definitely bizarre that both of your shipments were in such bad shape coming out of the same city. I hope she pursues this with someone.


UGH, that is my nightmare come true. So many parts of this job are great, but there are definitely down sides. We have heard horror story after horror story about this sort of thing and it just makes me terrified. My only recourse has been to travel with my most precious belongings on my person or to keep them permanently in storage and then cross my fingers for the rest. I'm sorry this happened to her and to you, and more sorry because I know it will likely not be resolved satisfactorily. Here's hoping for better experiences in the future for us all.

By the way, just recently found your blog. I'm always excited to find fellow foreign service friends in cyberspace.


It happened out of Chicago too. Never found out where it had R&R between Chicago and DC, but it must have had a great time partying!


OH THAT SUCKS! Was it the same moving company that trashed your stuff? I do know there is a way to file a complaint about the moving company but I am not sure how to go about. If enough people complain about a company then they will find another company to do the moving out of Houston, maybe they will be better. Honestly how did they break one f those triply walled boxes? Throw it out the back of the truck while going 70 mph down I10? Sheez.


I have been thinking about this and recalled an old message on livelines by MJG about preparing for packout - he says his family puts their clothes in large plastic grocery bags which are then dumped into the crates. I guess if it fell out of the back of a truck going 70mph that may or may not protect the clothes, but it makes me feel better. Just a thought for everyone.


Thank you for writing this blog. I like to see worst case and then be surprised if I get a good outcome. As we prepare for our first post it is good to be prepared. This just convinces me that I need not shop beyond Goodwill. :)


Oh my goodness! In all our years of moving with the State Dept, we've had very little damage ... nothing even worth claiming. And oddly enough, the worst of our damage has been moving Stateside - it's far better overseas!

Best of luck to your friend!


That's terrible! Just wanted to share another nightmare - our neighbors in Kuwait lost all their household belongings when their container fell off a container ship in the Red Sea.

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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:
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