Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's a Girl!?

We are both really excited to announce that we are going to have a baby girl.
Naturally, since all other recent Blanchard men have produced male offspring, this leaves me to question my manhood. But that is no fun, so I try to chalk it up to my usual trend of breaking the mold in my family.
Other than the part of paying for the wedding, I am really excited to have a baby girl. Oh yes, and I am already shaking in my boots, as it were, about the potential amount of pink that will be flooding in through our front door. This is the first girl grandchild on my side and the first girl grandchild to live locally on Rachel's side. There have already been threats, I mean offers, to dress our daughter up in cute pink outfits for every conceivable event and holiday.
I hope she likes me as much as other little infant girls seem to like me. I don't know what it is but I have had many an infant girl in my arms easily wooed to sleep.
We have a "working title" for this baby, but it is not ready to be released as it is not final and it is a bit of a surprise. It was unique referring to our unborn child as "she", rather than "it". It definitely made it more real for me.

Ps. Dear SLP, I am not entertaining matrimonious offers at this time. But I would love to have our kids be play buddies. :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

One More Day

Are you guys excited?! Only one more day before we spill the beans and let you in on our "little" secret. Don't forget to come back tomorrow afternoon (Saturday) to read the news.

Monday, March 24, 2008 Update and

I have just updated my website with a new link to
I heard about this on the Wall Street Journal podcast and I thought I would try it out.
So, go sign up and vote for your favorite singer/songwriter, and if I am not your favorite, then vote for me.

Currently, I only have one song up, because I am only allowed two per month per category.
In addition to the one I have up there already, which song should I put up?

Easter Peep

What's Easter without microwaving a Peep?
Happy Easter Everybody!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Diagnostic Ultrasound (updated)

On Monday we both went so that Rachel could have a diagnostic ultrasound. The place was nice, it was in the Longwood area. The waiting room was sort of like an airport. While waiting for almost an hour this is what Rachel did:this is what I did:
and this is what the baby did:
We know the gender but we aren't allowed to tell until next Saturday. Those of you who don't know will just have to guess and wait. "IT" is healthy and has all "its" 2000 parts.
Also, the waiting room is full of pregnant women and couples (mostly younger) and there is this wall of magazines. The wall is twice as big as I capture in this shot, but let's see if you can spot the one that doesn't belong. Start singing, "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..."
10 points to all those who get it right.

UPDATE: This magazine wall was left in its natural state. I did not manipulate any of the magazines you see here. This is how the wall was when we walked in.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Birthday!!!

Today is Rachel's birthday. 'nuf sed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It Was H-Rod

Hillary Clinton, who I affectionately call H-Rod, gave the speech in 1995 in Beijing during a United Nations Conference on Women. Lissa Muscatine wrote the speech, and I must say, I think it is a mighty fine one.

"No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse or torture. I believe that now, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break the silence. It is time for us to say, here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Speech

I recently read this great speech and I thought I would post it.
Guess who wrote it and I will give the answer in a week or so! ~ Rachel

Thank you very much, Gertrude Mongella, for your dedicated work that has brought us to this point, distinguished delegates, and guests:

I would like to thank the Secretary General for inviting me to be part of this important United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. This is truly a celebration, a celebration of the contributions women make in every aspect of life: in the home, on the job, in the community, as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, learners, workers, citizens, and leaders.

It is also a coming together, much the way women come together every day in every country. We come together in fields and factories, in village markets and supermarkets, in living rooms and board rooms. Whether it is while playing with our children in the park, or washing clothes in a river, or taking a break at the office water cooler, we come together and talk about our aspirations and concern. And time and again, our talk turns to our children and our families. However different we may appear, there is far more that unites us than divides us. We share a common future, and we are here to find common ground so that we may help bring new dignity and respect to women and girls all over the world, and in so doing bring new strength and stability to families as well.

By gathering in Beijing, we are focusing world attention on issues that matter most in our lives -- the lives of women and their families: access to education, health care, jobs and credit, the chance to enjoy basic legal and human rights and to participate fully in the political life of our countries.

There are some who question the reason for this conference. Let them listen to the voices of women in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. There are some who wonder whether the lives of women and girls matter to economic and political progress around the globe. Let them look at the women gathered here and at
Huairou -- the homemakers and nurses, the teachers and lawyers, the policymakers and women who run their own businesses. It is conferences like this that compel governments and peoples everywhere to listen, look, and face the world’s most pressing problems. Wasn’t it after all -- after the women’s conference in Nairobi ten years ago that the world focused for the first time on the crisis of domestic violence?

Earlier today, I participated in a World Health Organization forum. In that forum, we talked about ways that government officials,
NGOs, and individual citizens are working to address the health problems of women and girls. Tomorrow, I will attend a gathering of the United Nations Development Fund for Women. There, the discussion will focus on local -- and highly successful -- programs that give hard-working women access to credit so they can improve their own lives and the lives of their families.

What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well. That is why every woman, every man, every child, every family, and every nation on this planet does have a stake in the discussion that takes place here.

Over the past 25 years, I have worked persistently on issues relating to women, children, and families. Over the past two-and-a half years, I've had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women in my own country and around the world.

I have met new mothers in Indonesia, who come together regularly in their village to discuss nutrition, family planning, and baby care. I have met working parents in Denmark who talk about the comfort they feel in knowing that their children can be cared for in safe, and nurturing after-school centers. I have met women in South Africa who helped lead the struggle to end apartheid and are now helping to build a new democracy. I have met with the leading women of the Western Hemisphere who are working every day to promote literacy and better health care for children in their countries. I have met women in India and Bangladesh who are taking out small loans to buy milk cows, or rickshaws, or thread in order to create a livelihood for themselves and their families. I have met the doctors and nurses in Belarus and Ukraine who are trying to keep children alive in the aftermath of

The great challenge of this conference is to give voice to women everywhere whose experiences go unnoticed, whose words go unheard. Women comprise more than half the word’s population, 70% of the world’s poor, and two-thirds of those who are not taught to read and write. We are the primary caretakers for most of the world’s children and elderly. Yet much of the work we do is not valued -- not by economists, not by historians, not by popular culture, not by government leaders.

At this very moment, as we sit here, women around the world are giving birth, raising children, cooking meals, washing clothes, cleaning houses, planting crops, working on assembly lines, running companies, and running countries. Women also are dying from diseases that should have been prevented or treated. They are watching their children succumb to malnutrition caused by poverty and economic deprivation. They are being denied the right to go to school by their own fathers and brothers. They are being forced into prostitution, and they are being barred from the bank lending offices and banned from the ballot box.
Those of us who have the opportunity to be here have the responsibility to speak for those who could not. As an American, I want to speak for those women in my own country, women who are raising children on the minimum wage, women who can’t afford health care or child care, women whose lives are threatened by violence, including violence in their own homes.

I want to speak up for mothers who are fighting for good schools, safe neighborhoods, clean air, and clean airwaves; for older women, some of them widows, who find that, after raising their families, their skills and life experiences are not valued in the marketplace; for women who are working all night as nurses, hotel clerks, or fast food chefs so that they can be at home during the day with their children; and for women everywhere who simply don’t have time to do everything they are called upon to do each and every day.
Speaking to you today, I speak for them, just as each of us speaks for women around the world who are denied the chance to go to school, or see a doctor, or own property, or have a say about the direction of their lives, simply because they are women. The truth is that most women around the world work both inside and outside the home, usually by necessity.

We need to understand there is no one formula for how women should lead our lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her own God-given potential. But we must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected.

Our goals for this conference, to strengthen families and societies by empowering women to take greater control over their own destinies, cannot be fully achieved unless all governments -- here and around the world -- accept their responsibility to protect and promote internationally recognized human rights. The -- The international community has long acknowledged and recently reaffirmed at Vienna that both women and men are entitled to a range of protections and personal freedoms, from the right of personal security to the right to determine freely the number and spacing of the children they bear. No one -- No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse, or torture.

Tragically, women are most often the ones whose human rights are violated. Even now, in the late 20th century, the rape of women continues to be used as an instrument of armed conflict. Women and children make up a large majority of the world’s refugees. And when women are excluded from the political process, they become even more vulnerable to abuse. I believe that now, on the eve of a new millennium, it is time to break the silence. It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.

These abuses have continued because, for too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.

But the voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loudly and clearly:

It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls.

It is a violation of human rights when women and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution for human greed -- and the kinds of reasons that are used to justify this practice should no longer be tolerated.

It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire, and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small.

It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war.

It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes by their own relatives.

It is a violation of human rights when young girls are brutalized by the painful and degrading practice of genital mutilation.

It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.

If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely -- and the right to be heard.

Women must enjoy the rights to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries, if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure. It is indefensible that many women in nongovernmental organizations who wished to participate in this conference have not been able to attend -- or have been prohibited from fully taking part.

Let me be clear. Freedom means the right of people to assemble, organize, and debate openly. It means respecting the views of those who may disagree with the views of their governments. It means not taking citizens away from their loved ones and jailing them, mistreating them, or denying them their freedom or dignity because of the peaceful expression of their ideas and opinions.

In my country, we recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of
Women’s Suffrage. It took 150 years after the signing of our Declaration of Independence for women to win the right to vote. It took 72 years of organized struggle, before that happened, on the part of many courageous women and men. It was one of America’s most divisive philosophical wars. But it was a bloodless war. Suffrage was achieved without a shot being fired.

But we have also been reminded, in
V-J Day observances last weekend, of the good that comes when men and women join together to combat the forces of tyranny and to build a better world. We have seen peace prevail in most places for a half century. We have avoided another world war. But we have not solved older, deeply-rooted problems that continue to diminish the potential of half the world’s population.

Now it is the time to act on behalf of women everywhere. If we take bold steps to better the lives of women, we will be taking bold steps to better the lives of children and families too. Families rely on mothers and wives for emotional support and care. Families rely on women for labor in the home. And increasingly, everywhere, families rely on women for income needed to raise healthy children and care for other relatives.

As long as discrimination and inequities remain so commonplace everywhere in the world, as long as girls and women are valued less, fed less, fed last, overworked, underpaid, not schooled, subjected to violence in and outside their homes -- the potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized.

Let -- Let this conference be our -- and the world’s -- call to action. Let us heed that call so we can create a world in which every woman is treated with respect and dignity, every boy and girl is loved and cared for equally, and every family has the hope of a strong and stable future. That is the work before you. That is the work before all of us who have a vision of the world we want to see -- for our children and our grandchildren.

The time is now. We must move beyond rhetoric. We must move beyond recognition of problems to working together, to have the comment efforts to build that common ground we hope to see.

God's blessing on you, your work, and all who will benefit from it.

Godspeed and thank you very much.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cubby Update #4.5

The heavy lifting is finally over. I put up the final three sheets of sheetrock tonight. The whole thing is definitely not perfect but it is hopefully good enough. I am too tired to clean up (it's a real mess up there from sawing sheetrock to fit), so I will do that tomorrow or the next day. enjoy the pics:

The room is already so much warmer and more comfortable with the extra headroom.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Cubby Update #4

As you may have noticed, there hasn't been a cubby update in a while. I have been busy cutting sheetrock and moving it up to the attic piece by piece waiting until I had a free Saturday so that I could ask someone to come over and help me put it up. Well, one weekend passed and I either didn't have enough time or no one was available to help me. The next weekend was just too far away for an impatient person with many free nights in the week. So as the saying goes, "you can stick a pig in a fancy dress, but it don't make me want to dance with it." No, that's not it. This one, "necessity is the mother of invention." I devised a wedge-like support. This allowed me to hoist the heavy sheetrock over my head (without hurting myself) and then wedging in this support which held up the sheetrock allowing me to screw it into place.

After one hour plus session I had one side done. One piece was too large and I was tired so I ended up ruining that piece but I have a spare so I should be fine.
And after a two hour session today I now have 9 out of the 10 ceiling pieces in place. See for yourself.

I just need to cut another piece for that missing section you see above and then cut the two end pieces. Thereafter I will hire a plasterer to work his magic. I will then paint the white parts white (including the stairs leading up) and then we will hire some one to carpet the whole place. I think they should be called carpeteers.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Parenting Nightmares

Our fetal baby is only 16 weeks old and I had my first parenting nightmare last night. I am sure it is largely due to the stress I am currently feeling at work. The dream was really long and drawn out but it was essentially me trying to keep track of a quick moving toddler. Now that I think about it, it was a lot like the MC Escher stair scene from the end of Labrynth. Except there was no David Bowie in a cod piece (thank goodness) but rather a younger guy with no face wearing a puffy black vest.
By the way, the baby/toddler was a girl in a light pink coat and dark pink pants with white shoes and short dark hair.
You parents out there, how early and how often did/do you have anxiety dreams about your kids?