Monday, May 29, 2017

a real bat cave

Joel and I have a lengthy list of cool places we want to visit in the area. There are so many things to see, and Thursday, being as it was a holiday, and that Joel didn't have to work, we decided to explore a bat cave! It was only about 40 minutes from Lyon, and really really cool. It was huge! Also, not for the claustrophobic type!

Tools, vases, urns, arrows, and axes from the neolithic era have been found, dating back to 4000 BC, and more recently, well, in the 1700s, the cave was also a hideout for a famous French smuggler.

The pictures don't do it justice for how big it is. The entrance was 35 meters high (about 115 feet) and we were able to explore around half a mile of cave.

The ceiling got pretty low at times, and the labyrinth passageways were so narrow! I am not usually a claustrophobic person, but winding on the little "path" for a long time, without any end in sight, cave walls pressing in all around me... yeah, I was ready to see the light again!

That was our "path"

Amazing limestone formations of stalactites and stalagmites.

The bottom right picture is a river that has formed in the cave, and it stretches several kilometers... they haven't found the end yet! They have discovered 6 sumps, or siphons (a passage in a cave that is submerged in water for an unknown length!) but haven't found the end! Can you imagine doing cave diving and discovering underwater passageways?? Ahhh, so scary!

Really neat place to visit, and we even spotted a bat! :)

Monday, May 22, 2017

hooded and pinned

I have crazy cool siblings. I know I am biased, but I really like my brother and my two sisters, and think they are the best! We have this family whatsap group where we can post interesting (or not) things about our lives, pictures, news, jokes, questions, embarrassing moments, etc. It makes the three continents our family lives on feel like we are actually almost neighbors. Almost. I miss them! And being away for big milestones and celebrations is hard. And recently, BOTH my sisters passed a huge milestone!

 In the last couple of years, my middle sister has read 9300 pages of literature. Books that she sometimes liked and sometimes did not. She worked diligently, put in long hard hours, and all of this, while teaching 4 levels of high school French full time and being involved in numerous other activities! After writing about 409 pages, or approximately, 106,636 words, the day finally came to don her cap, gown, tassel, and hood, and graduate with her Master's in English Literature! I am SO proud of her! I was unexpectedly and generously given a ticket to Kansas to surprise her (along with my littlest sister) and be there to help her celebrate her big day! It was a whirlwind of a trip, but an unforgettable experience!

Erika and I had a great time helping her get ready and her apartment all cute for a little party! Her refreshment choices were a variety of m&ms (she is a huge fan), delicate French pastries made by Mom, Aunt Donna's monster cookies, also made by Mom, and fruit brochettes by our littlest sister!

So proud of you Lindsay!!! OH, and do you see that white colar on her gown? That is her hood. She had the hood in her hand, gave it to the professors on stage, who "hooded" her, and officially made her a Master's Graduate!

So that was a week ago Saturday. This last Sunday, it was Erika's turn to pass a big milestone! She has been working as a nurse (the best one in Kansas, I might add) for the last couple of years, just moved to PA with her husband about 6 months ago, started a second job, and all the while, has been taking classes toward her BSN. And Sunday, she got it! Bachelor of Science in Nursing! What a great accomplishment! Sadly, I couldn't be there for her ceremony, but just look how beautiful she and my Mama looked at her pinning! Oh yes, pinning. She didn't get a hood like Lindsay, but had a traditional "pinning" ceremony, where the emblematic pin of her school was pinned on her shirt. 

A BIG congratulations to my two sisters! Very different fields of study, but so much hard work, perseverance, and studying from them both!