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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FSI is trying to rectify the situation and traditional characters should be going live on the reading class come Friday :) In the meantime, my brain continues to explode. Good luck with the test! You have accomplished so much in such a short time!


Suckie and monumentally inequitable to single out Foreign Service people like that. I'm writing the senators tonight, although I don't think there's any way that bill is going to pass. The Senate has much less interest in dealing with the spending crisis than the House. As a matter of fact, Barbara Boxer has just asked for a list of senators' "special projects" for the upcoming budget. She's not calling them earmarks anymore. Apparently, an earmark by any other name is still quite acceptable.


I already wrote to my senators!


Yes, I noticed the bag (still glad you like it)... and more importantly, noticed how unbelievably hard Chinese class looks to me. Bless you my friend ... I'm in awe!

And holy tamoly, can I just add how expensive living OVERSEAS is ... let alone DC. The 24% won't begin to touch it. Heck, if you ever want a "taste" of America overseas, just be ready to bend over... because that's what you have to do to afford it.

Shame on them! SHAME!! When they cut their own budgets, take money out of their OWN pockets, THEN, they can consider to cut ours. The nerve.


Yep, this sucks.

To add insult to injury, even if this doesn't pass, you're going to lose a chunk of income as soon as you leave DC. Locality pay for those serving overseas is only up to 7% so far. Boo hiss boo.

Sometimes I just don't know if I can handle the FS for the rest of my life.


The locality loss on top of the already-existing pay freeze really feels like we're being punched in the face. We got all that excellent press after Wikileaks -- but that apparently wasn't enough. It seems that we're still the red-headed step children of the Federal world.

Carla @ I Run, You Run

We had already written to our senators, but I just copied your post and put it on my blog as well, here: Hope you don't mind!


Great post Kolbi and kudos to you for trying to bring attention to this! We are just hanging on "by a thread" here in DC, actually we're hanging on "by the plastic of our credit cards" :) USAID employees have to pay for all of their own housing here in DC regardless of how long they're here so we are really just needing to get to post so we can start getting out of the debt this last year (plus some) of training here in DC has landed us in. So we aren't to excited to be loosing any of Jason's paycheck either. Thanks for this post!


Congrats again on passing the Chinese test! That's awesome.

It is time for the Weekly State Department Blog Round Up and you are on it!

It is found here:

If you would like the links to your site removed (or corrections are needed) please contact me. Thanks!

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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