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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This is hilarious!

Sara Roy

FAM - Foreign Affairs Manual = the "laws" of the FS. I hope your brain acts up soon!

Heather Dray

IV - of course it's IntraVenous. But what else could it be?!?! Oh...


Technically, it isn't English. But it isn't as bad as Chinese. It shouldn't make an EFM want to hop in her POV and go home crying every day.


Aaaah, it's your brain trying to replace old acronyms with new ones!!! I thought for a moment that after Chinese you are having a hard time understanding English, which I could totally see happening, considering how much pressure your brain has been under...


In English! Glory, glory hallelujah! Too bad you're speaking the wrong English acronymese... Don't worry... It will get better.

And... Getting a tiny glimpse of the "interesting" things Hubby does -- well, I think you're really going to love it. Except when you are banging your head against a wall. Remember Naoma's mantra, "Not wrong, just different..."

Seriously, though, I oh-so appreciate ConGen officers. They're keeping the world safe for democracy... Dealing with a lot of difficult issues (not just stamping visas...)


Brain. On. Overload. Too. Many. Acronyms.


As Sara Roy noted above, FAM = Foreign Affairs Manual. These are the regulations by which the Department of State functions. There are also FAH (Foreign Affairs Handbooks); these further explicate various FAMs.

Good luck!


I am so with you on this. And for me, coming from California, everytime I see CA I think California - not Consular Affairs.

Nice meeting you in the ConGen halls earlier today.


We used to have that problem at home when Neil was Branch Chief for the MSG Branch (Marine Security Guard) while I was heading up an MSG at church (Mother's Support Group). He'd say, "your MSG or mine?" And never mind if we were discussing food additives!


yea, I'm not entirely sure it's English. In fact, I laughed when they said that the FAM was the translation of the INA legalese. Doesn't seem too clear to me.

Anyway, don't panic! The first days are overwhelming. Then you'll get into the groove. YAY!


Acronyms can drive you crazy.. When I joined everyone was talking about the number of cables you'd have to prepare. I kept thinking network / phone cables and why aren't any of them installed to begin with?


You've been featured on this week's State Department Roundup. Check it out at

If you'd rather not be included this week, please let me know and I'll remove you.

Thanks for writing such a great blog!

Cindy @ enclos*ure

I so dislike acronyms. In USAID (I worked for a public health contractor), they can commonly run to 5 letters -- impossible for me to say.

I did once have a new contracts officer in our company tell me that the FAM was the Family Affairs Manual -- as if!

Good luck! ConGen is fun.

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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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