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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Reason #a gabillion I'm glad I'm not a tandem bidder with a DS guy anymore. Even though I'm an FSO, MY career was being dictated by DS and their bidding process. Case in point, my second tour I got Trinidad and Tobago. There was a position there for my ex. DS refused to send him there. We wanted to stay out so we said, ok, where will you send him? They gave us a tiny country in Africa so I had to find a job there. Turned out I loved the tour, but that's not the point. Ugh. I feel for you. DS bidding is so political and nepotistic. It wasn't until my ex joined DS that I learned the term "rabbi" in the context of, if you want to get anywhere in your DS career you had to have the right "rabbis".


Thank you for your post!! I am right there with ya - I HATE DS bidding!!! When Chris first started he received the riot act from me when I first discovered that our first tour HAD to be stateside - a small fact I had missed somewhere along the hiring process.. Why did we join the FOREIGN service to spend the majority of our career living in a US city that I would never choose to live in on my own? Ugh! I sure hope your bidding goes well and you can stay overseas!


This actually sounds a lot like the Canadian system for all of us (political, trade, etc.)

Theoretically we are supposed to go out and then boomerang back every couple of years, but realistically, we have a huge backlog of people climbing all over each other to get out. the first year I was available for the bid list, there were 7 non-Afghan spots available overseas. For 300 people. 15 if you add in the Afghan spots.


I hate bidding simply because it happens just about the time you start feeling settled at the place you're at. You're almost comfortable saying things like 'Let's go HOME' and 'My HOME is right around the block'... you know... normal stuff... and then BOOM! you have to start thinking of leaving again. Rude.

Even as an adult, I find the culture shock a bit unsettling when we're in the US. The kids definitely will too. I was at a dinner party with a bunch of teachers in a small Southern town and when asked about my favorite foods, I mentioned a few things I liked and where I had them.. and THEY gave me those blank confused looks. So sad...

Sara Roy

:( I'm sorry that it's so hard to do overseas. I hope y'all get to go somewhere fun next.


Wishing you another overseas tour in a super exciting spot!

I feel similar frustration with bidding but because of tandem issues. There are so, so, so many cool places we could go if we werne't both trying to find a job there. Goodbye Auckland and your 10 direct hires. Sigh.

And ironically, we'd actually LOVE a Stateside tour for personal reasons right not, but we HAVE to be overseas. The grass is always greener, eh?


True Story: I went to my 20th high school reunion in Memphis, TN, and actually won an award for being the person who had lived in the most countries outside the U.S. When I accepted my 'certificate' they asked me what my most exciting moment was...I thought about it and explained about being on medevac to have Kelsey, then the coup took place, then we had to go on authorized departure, and Pete couldn't leave VE, nor could we go home.

Blank stares all around. NO ONE found it remotely interesting.
Finally, I added that Iceland was a nice place to live or something and they woke up. So, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about....


Fresh-faced DS spouse at the playground: We are going to spend the first 7-8 years overseas, then come back to the states so our kids get a decent education here.

Me: I sincerely apologise for that inward-hissing sound I just made. Maybe you guys should come over for dinner so we can talk a little 'bout that.

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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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