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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Love you blog post! Excellent!


Love how you point out the contradiction in policy. My head is spinning Exorcist-style right now :)


What is really funny is that now people can find lots of our blogs by doing a key word search for "foreign service" and "nipple"


Great post and well-written as always!! Penis, nipple - why stop now? :)

Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell)

Very well said. I quoted you at length in today's blog post at

Thank you for taking a stand. We'll all hang separately if we don't all hang together.



I agree with you. Freedom of Speech and attitudes to support it must be maintained!

I had a similar probelm back when my hubby was in the Air Force and I was a military wife/dependant. This was before online communications had taken off, I'm talking to 1995 and my mouth. As you know, I speak my mind. During my short stint a licensed Childcare Provider on base I began to speak out against what I felt was unfair about the "system." I was freely advising parents seeking childcare to attend training workshops under the guise of possibly becoming a childcare provider themselves so that could see exactly who these providers were in real life rather than the lies and fakeness they displayed during interviews. I was outraged that those in charge were protecting providers that had their licenses suspended (not revoked forever) after an infant or child had died or been seriously injured,abused or neglected while in their care or had witnessed the Provider's husband coming home and beating up Provider infront of daycare kids! The records were sealed and after a suspension of something like 6-12 months these Providers would be free to advertise vacancies and interview brand new unsuspecting families. Protected by "The DayCare Provider Overseers" and their awful policies that allowed them to hide their awful crimes! I warned new families. The office didnt like that at all. I suddenly had several suprise inspections (all of which I passed except if you count the one during lunchtime -my microwave was still splashed with lunch and so it failed their white glove test! I was still cooking lunch!) Then came the nasty threatening phone call from an Air Force higher up telling me I better shut my mouth and stop talking about their policies and other providers. My husband snatched that phone right out of my hand and went off on this higher ranking so and so that he needed to be reminded that he was speaking to the spouse of a military member and as a free civilian I was protected by my Freedom of Speech and that he owed me an apology! My husband was a 3 striper then. I was so proud of him. They stop bothering me. I was able to help 2 families avoid a dangerous provider and later we moved off base and I traded base daycare for SAHM and making extra money as a PreK dance instructor at a local community center. My husband is still my hero! So kudos to James for fighting for you and your Free Speech! We support you and salute you! You both are being excellent role models for your boys who maybe someday will grow and help change the world!


Who knew the ACLU could do something good? Well, I actually heard of something else rational they did a few months ago, but the story escapes me. Still. A pleasant surprise.


The "Federal Eye" posted (at 7:25PM EST, 5/17) a story about how her blog has been re-linked in the State Department blogroll.

Their official notice:
To our Bloggers:
As you can see, we have re-linked to Jen Dinoia’s blog and sincerely regret any offense we caused. We appreciate all your efforts to share your personal Foreign Service experiences (writ large) and are pleased to offer them a wider audience. We will certainly try to be more sensitive in future decisions regarding placements. Thanks again for your efforts and your service.
– Jeff Levine, Director of Recruitment, Examination and Employment

Heather Dray

Total success! I love what the blogosphere can help accomplish when we stick together. Oh, and nipples. Go nipples!

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.)
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