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.
Blog powered by Typepad

« Okay, Fellow EFMs: I CHALLENGE You to Find Something Better Than This! | Main | The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.



It is hard seeing a chapter in life close... especially one that was so meaningful in family relationship building. So happy for the positive things that are developing in this new chapter!

Nomads By Nature

We chose homeschooling the second year of our fist post. It was THE BEST decision I could have made!!! For all the exact reasons you stated above! And when we decided to pursue an international school again, it was the best decision for our children and family for that time. I wish there was more support for the homeschooling option in the Foreign Service, but it all starts with just doing what is right for your child/ren, family/ yourself. Very glad that their schooling continues to be just right for them - what a great blessing!

This is my favorite blog post of yours yet!

Signed: once homeschooled for about three weeks...

naoma lee

Bravo. Applause & a hearty congratulations. You've done an outstanding job. Soooo? What do you see yourself enjoying while in Chengdu now that you don't need to be lesson planning?



Fantastic post! I think it speaks volumes about how well you and your boys worked together. I remember my public school days in a small town were great but I always felt like I had very little one on one interaction with my teachers. There were times when I had to wait for some of the kids falling behind to catch on before we collectively move forward with the class discussions. I imagine that's one disadvantage homeschooling doesn't have.

It also reminds me of a comment from Steve Jobs-
"Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is, everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you ... the minute that you understand that you can poke life ... that you can change it, you can mould it ... that's maybe the most important thing."

So who's to say what is right and wrong? Nothing great can come out of the status quo. You only get conformity because that's the way it's always been done.


I think you should send their test scores to every rotten jerk who ever said something rude to you about it.


I'm so glad you posted this...and I miss you, too. :-( But I really needed to hear this! In fact, I'm going to have to book mark it, because I need to hear it about every other month. :-/

(Tell the gang we love and miss them.)


I am so very very glad for you and your boys. You were, and are, my homeschool idol. I'm not homeschooling this year but think I may be again next year, we shall see. I'm not thrilled with how this school year is going.

In fairness to those 99.9 % of us who have our schools picked out well before we arrive, at many international schools many of the schools class up and close enrollment as early as April the year before and waiting simply isn't an option unless you are willing and able to homeschool.

Sarah Green

I think I'm printing out your advice/encouragement and put it up in my bedroom. My kids are only 10 and 7, and I've always homeschooled them and I'm always fighting the internal mommy guilt of "am I doing enough?" and my poor kids have to practice saying what grade they're in, because that is just so arbitrary. I hear from more experienced hs moms the same advice over and over: it's the days off, the time spent snuggling on the couch with a favorite book that mean the most. Thanks! And I'm glad you have more time for writing! Hope you will keep feeding us your smarts.

C. C.

I love this post! And your blog in general... I homeschooled my son the third year of our last post. It took two years for me to get a clue and pull him out of the worst international school we've ever experienced. Anyway, it was a great decision. We bonded, we traveled, we laughed and learned and, now that he's back in public schools, he's doing great. I think homeschooling, done well (and it sounds like you did it really well), gives children a huge advantage academically. Well done! And congratulations to your boys for blowing those tests out of the water!


Thanks for this post! Now I won't feel guilty about taking a few weeks off when our next baby comes. And when we move to post six weeks later. This makes me feel a little less worried about what kind of permanent damage I'm inflicting on my children.

Kate CA

This post made me cry. I rejoice with you friend, and thank you so much, *so much* for the encouragement. It means a great deal.

Love you!


Wow, this was a post I needed today. I found your blog last spring when we decided to start the kids taking Mandarin lessons and have been following it ever since. I totally hear what you're saying about homeschooling. I hope I can take your advice and be less hard on myself. I was having one of those guilty days today, since I let the kids slack off and play outside in the fresh snow for hours today instead of doing their school work. I'm so glad your boys are doing so well in their school. I can only imagine how stressful it must have been, having them tested. Glad to hear they are doing so well.


Great post! I homeschooled all the way through junior high and high school, got a full-tuition scholarship to a private university, and am a month away from finishing a Master's degree! Yay for homeschooling success :)

Plus (and the reason I found/read your fabulous blog), I'm currently on the FSO register, and am off to Tunisia in January to refresh my Arabic enough to pass the language test ... so maybe one day we'll meet as fellow members of the State Department community!


Awesome! Thanks for linking me; right now, this week, this is exactly what I needed to read. God is good.



Awesome Awesome work! My dream has always been to homeschool my little Wanderer all over the world. When I have kiddos who were homeschooled in my classes, I am always so excited as I know they have not been limited in their curriculum, have an amazing expanse of knowledge, and are usually so far ahead of the other kids. Bravo!


You rock mama! And your boys do too! We're finishing up our first domestic, and are anxiously awaiting a handshake on our first overseas post.
Our baby's only 8 months old, but we have committed to homeschooling her due to this crazy/amazing DS life. We also get negative reactions too, and we haven't even begun!
This post is such a great testament to how much kids are learning even when we think we're not "teaching" them. What an awesome journey!


Congratulations Kolbi! What an amazing story.

Jen Ig

Love it! Many blessings in your new exciting chapter.


I might never meet you, I'm not FS, but I came across your blog, and that last posting was right on! I'm "in the thick of it" right now with homeschooling, and I wanted to make one small observation: It's increadible what Dad Mom and Kids can acomplish TOGETHER when the total family lifestyle is not Me Me Me but the strength of The Family and the education thereof. Godspeed.

Matt Keene

That's so awesome, Kolbi. Good for you and the boys!


Congratulations!!! But I must say I'm not the slightest big surprised. I've been reading your blog for a while now (and even got to introduce myself for a minute when we were both in ConGen world). It's obvious how hard you work to ensure that your kids and your entire family get the things they need to have a balanced, productive life. I'm not a homeschooler, but I envy those who have the patience and abilities to do it!

Lauren Geraghty

I love this post. I've been homeschooling for 3 years now. I've had the daily self-debates, dealt with the less-than-understanding family, and trying to do what is best for my two. After 2 years, I put my daughter into the international school here. HS wasn't in her best interest any more and she has shined there. We're now trying to determine if the school will be a good fit for our son.

I'm so glad your family's transition was smooth and that all your hard work has been validated! You rock!


Kolbi, I had no idea you worried so much about homeschooling! If I didn't already tell you, my husband and I are both former HSers; I spent 3 years (middle school) homeschooling (thank heavens) and he never went to school.

My husband scored a 1470 on his SATs and could have gone to any college he wanted. He was meritoriously promoted in the Marine Corps. He is a software developer and works from home. I have a master's degree and am waiting to be an FSO. I speak three languages and have lived all over the world.

We both homeschooled in the time of arrests and I still get a lot of raised eyebrows, but I'm sure your boys will look back the way I do and appreciate that time homeschooling. My kids go to public school now and it's weird to us (my husband volunteers in my daughter's kindergarten class and he's like a cult figure to all the teachers, it's so rare for a dad to do this) but we still have habits from our upbringing -- math games at dinner, 'learning moments' while walking in the woods, museums and libraries to supplement learning -- and I'm happy to say my kids are excelling in school.

What you've given your boys will last them a lifetime. You should be proud.


I'm no home schooler but I get the emotion behind chapters ending and beginning, and being thankful for something you never thought you would. Tears here too! Job well done. Your kids will treasure the time you shared together, too. I'm so glad the school there is so great....and that they were able to find the right fit for your kids! One more thing figured out in your new China life!

The comments to this entry are closed.

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. 

Become a Fan

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!
free counters
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