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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Thanks for the great post (and great pics). I have started thinking of this as the first tour blues, but truly, we will probably have this feeling a lot over the course of our crazy lives. Sure it's interesting to live somewhere else, but it's not an extended vacation and you have to figure out how to fit in and grow temporary roots and plug back into the things that are important to you.

It's a bit hard for me to describe, but I know what you are talking about. This lifestyle has really made made me think about what actually makes people happy. Money? Adventure? New Experiences? Or is it routine family, consistancy? I think there are tradeoffs and everyone has to figure out if there "sweet spots" are possible overseas.

Take care and know that you are not alone!


I think my mom and I actually went to that place on our trip; the Starbucks looks very familiar. And while it was definitely touristy (and crowded, at least when we went), it was really nice.

And seriously, even if the Husbandly Unit can't make it, you should try to pack the kids up and take them to Hong Kong for a long weekend or something. They'll love it, I swear. And even if they don't love Hong Kong, I'll bet they'll love Outback steak houses, great, legit pizza (brick oven, baby) and movie theaters where people are actually quiet and not talking on their cell phones the whole time. I mean, Hong Kong even has an Apple store. And multiple Mexican restaurants. That's how off the chain it is.


Great post! I know next to nothing about China, so I always enjoy your blog--especially the photos.

I get the teenage boy thing, too. You think they are going to be all into seeing stuff, and well, no, they aren't. At all. Ever. But they are at least old enough to leave at home while YOU go see stuff, right? So, there's that.


HA HA HA HA HA HA!! I literally just bought a pair of those Hello Kitty empty plastic glasses (you know, the ones with the little bow on the corner and wiskers down on the sides?) THIS AFTERNOON! Ha ha ha! I bought them for my 2-year-old's dress-up box, though, .... which is an amazing thing to shop for in China. :)
We're jealous of your food.


When packing for an overseas assignment, expectations and preconceived notions should be left in storage. They never turn out to be realistic or accurate, and you're invariably disappointed. My mom always said to go through life expecting the worst; that way, you're pleasantly surprised if it's better than that. In my experience -- which mirrors yours here -- the key to thriving in this lifestyle is to actively seek out the beauty and uniqueness of each post. Don't demand of it what it is incapable of delivering, but appreciate what it does offer. When we're sitting on our rockers thirty years from now, with that approach, we'll have a mental treasure chest of memories and images that will be the envy of 99% of our earthly co-habitants.


The food is EXACTLY what I am so looking forward to when we make our Chengdu move! Yum!!!!!!


Our first tour was in Jakarta. I was so completely unhappy that for most of that first year that David seriously thought he was going to have to quit the FS. Yes I was that bad, I cried EVERY SINGLE DAY. Somewhere in the second year I fell in love with Jakarta and then of course we had to leave.

The "OMG I hate this place why are you doing this to me" stage was much shorter, maybe only 6 months.

I am not in love with Malawi, although I am thankful to be here if only for the boys. I am happy most of the time, of course I stay at home most of time. I do have difficulty dealing with (self-imposed) guilt at how much I have and take for granted compared with the average Malwian, electricity anyone?

BTW the way you have Starbuck I may have to hate you just a little for that but only in the most loving way.

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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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