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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2 posts in one day? This is beautiful. You guys are beautiful.


HOw fun! I love your dress, and you all look amazing!


Sniff, sniff, that is too sweet! And scarves as belts? Oh, does that bring back memories!


love this post and all of the fun pictures! (and your last one too but I didn't get a chance to comment on that one before this one came up) What great pictures. Can I just say you guys are folks who just keep looking better and better?

Kathy Sparrenberger

You guys are getting better looking as the years go by....of course in due time that will stop :) JK! LOVE your posts sweet little niece! So glad you are having fun! xoxo Auntie K


"hello Creepy google searchers. Wrong blog!"
Best. Line. Ever!


Your husband is SO going to kill you for this! But I, personally, love it. The teenaged Darings were the cutest things ever!

P.s. I know - I owe you an email.....

Heather Dray

Oh, you all look lovely, gorgeous! And I love the trip down memory lane. Thanks for sharing!


Great post! I have missed your blog lately and I am enjoying catching back up again. You are absolutely gorgeous in your dress!! So glad you had such a great time! Oh, and that James is not old enough to have fought in WWII :) Oh, and I am holding onto your words - hoping that almost adult children make all this smaller children thing worth it one of these days.


When I caught on to your theme of pointing out similarities, I was really looking forward to seeing your marine ball dress with the sequins and large bow. Ha ha ha.
But WOW! Your marine ball dress is AMAZING!!! And you look absolutely gorgeous, too! Maybe it's because I've been watching to much Glee lately, but do people say you look like Idina Menzel? Because you totally do!



You and James look darling at your high school graduation. Its terrific you are really enjoying your post in Chengdu. Keep the snaps coming



You all look amazing, and I love all the pictures of you two from way back when scarves we're early belts. LOL!

I loved dancing with Dakota at the Navy SeaBee Ball ad no he didn't have to sit with Mo either. I plan to continue the tradition and dance with each of my boys at a ball before they leave home.

PS I want stripper stiletto pictures!

Connie Reed

What a beautiful tour of your past... you guys are a special couple :) And ... snif snif... getting to share this special evening out with your handsome young son is .. ? hey! I think I got something in my eye.... :)


OKay, I am back. I love the pictures of you two from your early days together. Seriously so sweet. You both look so happy!

Bridget Lines

I know that this is super delayed, but you look beautiful!! Great blog post!

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. 

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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