Monday, December 25, 2017

First (and last) Christmas in Nepal

We just had to do it.  We had to tell Mason the truth about Santa.  He was practically the only kid in middle school who still believed in Santa only because his parents told him he was real.  And we knew he would only get teased by his friends for still believing that an old, overweight bearded guy flies around in a sleigh pulled by a bunch of reindeer to deliver gifts to kids all over the world all in one night.

But instead of just coming out and saying, "Hey, by the way, Santa isn't real.".  I found a letter that a writer from the New York Times gave to her daughter explaining Santa and decided to give the same letter to Mason (with a few edits).  Mason admitted he was disappointed in the news and we don't blame him.  We almost feel like we've taken away his innocence.  But he's a good sport and doesn't want to spoil it for his sisters.  However, I think Cadyn is catching on.

This Christmas will also be our first and last Christmas in Nepal.  It feels kind of strange to be writing that because we were originally planning on staying for three years.  Sure it feels a little sad.  But there are many exciting opportunities ahead and we will always cherish the short time we were able to live in Nepal.  The kids still had a wonderful Christmas and they're looking forward to their big ski trip to Japan!  We've shown Ember videos of kids her age skiing and she can't wait to try it herself.  Hopefully, she can handle the cold because it's going to be FREEZING!

Oh, and here is what the letter to the writer's daughter:

Dear Lucy,
Thank you for your letter. You asked a very good question: "Are you Santa?"

I know you've wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I've had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa.

I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)

I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the Christmas magic stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights.

This won't make you Santa, though.

Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can't see or touch.

It's a big job, and it's an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents, and in your family. You'll also need to believe in things you can't measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he's filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So, no, I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I'm on his team, and now you are, too.

I love you and I always will.


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Our Littlest Performer

Ember got to show off her singing and dancing skills at the French school's holiday performance.  You can tell from the video that she was thoroughly enjoying being on stage.  We are going to miss this school!

Best buds!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Big Leap But The Adventures Continue

"It's been your dream to work for the UN, so you should go for it Dad."

This is what our 12-year-old son said to Robbie when we shared the news with the kids that their Dad was offered a job with WHO.  We were simply blown away by the level of maturity and support Mason showed for this incredible opportunity.  Cadyn was just as excited for Robbie but understandably upset about the thought of moving again after finally feeling settled in her new home and school in Kathmandu.  Although we explained to Ember we were moving, she had no clue what we were talking about and just figured we were going on another vacation.

On January 10th the Blanchard family will say good-bye to the Foreign Service but certainly not to all the wonderful friends we have made along the way.  Our journey with the UN will undoubtedly be filled with just as many adventures and stories to share with everyone.

Congratulations Robbie!  We are so proud of you and know you will do great things in your new job!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween Fun At L-Block

The pony was Cadyn's costume when she
was 3. Gyanu, our Didi, made Cadyn's
Hermione costume. And Robbie managed
to squeeze into Mason's hockey gear.
The Halloween festivities at L-Block are kind of a tradition.  The kids sort of get to experience going house to house trick-or-treating since it is like a mini-neighborhood on a compound.  Some families, like us, handed out candy from the trunk of our cars so the kids are able to pick up more candy.  Since Mason was in Oman for the SAISA swim meet, he wasn't able to join us this year.  But his sisters made sure to pick up extra candy for their big brother.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"We saw the noceros!"

Taking advantage of yet another Nepali holiday - this time Tihar - we took the short 20 minute flight to Chitwan National Park.  Chitwan is considered a World Heritage Site and is located in the Terai lowlands.  We stayed in the beautiful Barahi Jungle Lodge which is situated on the west side of the park right along the river.  The kids immediately fell in love with their room and thought the painted bird poop above their bed was an added bonus.  It is definitely a much quieter area compared to the other side which is overrun with hotels, lodges, and travel agencies.  Hopefully, it stays that way. 

We did all the touristy activities like the jeep safari, canoe ride, village ox cart ride, and the elephant bathing during the 3 days we were there.  The star animal attraction of Chitwan is the rhino or how Ember likes to call it, "noceros" and we saw several!  We also saw plenty of monkeys, white-spotted deer, wild boar, crocodiles, and different species of birds.  I'm not a bird person, but I have to say there were some beautiful colorful birds out there. 

We learned for the first time that rhinos like to
hang out in the water.

Oh, I think I'm slipping.....

A visit to a local home.....complete with baby farm animals!

Deer like to hang out where the monkeys are because when
they shake the trees, the yummy leaves fall to the ground.

Elephant bathing!

It was nice to get out of the city for a few days and reconnect with nature.  This was exactly what we needed.

Who knew dead frogs were so fun to play with?

Flying High in Pokhara

coming soon!

Catching Up

It's been exactly 89 days since we landed in Kathmandu and I must say, everyone is happy.  The kids have settled in well at their schools and of course, have made some great friends.  Robbie and I have met a whole community of people, both expat and local, who enjoy the outdoors as much as we do and we have quickly thrown ourselves into the trail racing and hashing scene. 

Nepalis are very kind and gentle people.  So even though KTM can be a bit loud and busy and chaotic, it's also surprisingly calming at the same time.  On a clear day you can see the mountains in the distance and it reminds me how pretty cool it is to be able to say that I live here. 

Stay tuned to see what adventures lie ahead for the Blanchard family in this vibrant Himilayan country!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Well, we finally made it to Kathmandu!  It was a long journey, but the 2 night stopover in Doha helped with the jet lag some.  Mason and Cadyn have been in school for almost a week and so far they are loving it.  Ember will start at the French school next month.

We have been welcomed to Nepal with smiles and open arms by both locals and the expat community......I think it will be a good two years.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mini-Cow Kids Triathlon

The kids completed their first triathlon in Columbia this weekend.  Both finished very well in their age group despite not being able to train much.  Cadyn actually started to feel ill the morning of the race but somehow found the strength to finish strong.  I know we're their parents, but seriously, these kids are amazing!

Unfortunately, we weren't able to snap pictures of each leg of the race either because of obstructed views or we just couldn't make it in time.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Another Hectic Home Leave

Popsicles make everyone happy.
Coming home is always nice.  We get to see family, visit with old friends, go to the movie theater, shop at Trader Joe's, enjoy different cuisines at some of the best restaurants.....basically anything one might consider Americana.  Putting fun aside though, home leave can also be very hectic and stressful.  In our case, there were consultations for Robbie, various medical appointments for the whole family, meetings with lawyers to update our will, house repairs/maintenance to make it more attractive to potential buyers, summer camps, administrative details that needed to be taken care of for my mom.  It may not seem like much.  However, try cramming all that in with the fun stuff and 30 days goes by in an instant.  But as I mentioned before, coming home is nice and we were lucky enough to fit in some fun.  Check it out.

A little Georgetown fun.

A very serious looking a
princess dress

Shelter from the heat on Roosevelt Island.

Ember's first trip to the Baltimore Zoo.

Flag Ponds Nature Park, Md

Beach time and dinner in Solomons with Halmeoni.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hershey Park

There wasn't enough time to make a trip down to Disney World.  So the kids had to settle for the next best thing......Hershey Park!  Fortunately, there were plenty of different rides for all three to enjoy from giant, crazy roller coasters to merry-go-rounds.  Needless to say, they all had a blast.  Instead of staying in the park, we opted for a comfortable cabin just a 5 minute shuttle ride away.