Signs of Life in Bikini Bottom

Bikini Atoll’s Nuked Coral Reef Bounces Back to Life

The tiny island was the site of hydrogen bomb testing in the 1950’s. One test in particular was devastating:

The massive explosion vaporized everything on three islands in the atoll, raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees and left a crater that was 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) wide and 240 feet (73 meters) deep.

But there’s good news:

A team of scientists recently led a diving expedition into Bravo Crater and found an unexpectedly thriving coral community.

Some bad news:

Though ambient radiation readings are fairly low at Bikini, radioactive material accumulates in the soil and in produce such as coconuts, making them unsafe to eat.

I guess that means The Krusty Krab wouldn’t be a recommended spot for hungry travelers?

What child is this?

Fritz set his alarm by himself with no prompting so he could get up early to watch cartoons.


Yesterday, Fritz asked me if he needed to watch his Latin DVD. No, we had done Friday’s work on Thursday. Peter the Parrot must have heard us. A few minutes later, he came up to me waving the Latin DVD.

“Mommy, I watch Latin DVD?”


Wednesday morning, Mary had her well-baby checkup, but I didn’t have time to stay for shots. When I went back in the afternoon, Katie and Jenny begged to come with me. As the nurse filled out all the paperwork, my girls stared at all the stickers and lollipops. Since once I actually had a nurse at a different facility tell my kids that only the child getting shots could have a sticker (prudently protecting the government’s pennies, I suppose) and not wanting them to get their hopes up, I told them they wouldn’t be getting anything.

Jenny asked, “Can I have a shot, Mommy, pleeeease?” And since I admitted to her that she’s due for her DTaP booster, she’s asked me every day since when I’ll take her back.

Stumbling blocks of sin

I have a friend. I haven’t known her very long, but every time we get together, I like her more and more.

She is a convert to the faith, and she has an incredible story of her journey from being raised in an atheist and dysfunctional household through drug dependency and to the brink of suicide where she stumbled into a Catholic Church near the end of Holy Week and found physical healing. She and her husband, with a conversion story of his own, joined the Church several years later as an engaged couple and were married within a week of their initiation.

They were young – early twenties – and, like most young adults, still had a lot of growing up to do. But neither of them had any idea about how to be Catholic. Of course, adult catechises is practically non-existent in most parishes, and most Catholics assume that the majority of us are cradle Catholics or married to cradle Catholics. Those who somehow find their way to the Catholic Church on their own are pretty much left to figure it all out by themselves. And this just doesn’t work well for those who don’t have a Catholic support system.

As an example, her two sons are three years apart. When the younger one was a baby they sought baptism – for both of them. The priest couldn’t believe that their three year old wasn’t baptised yet. They had no idea that it was something you should do as soon as you reasonably could. It was out of ignorance that they neglected it.

Anyway, my friend, like all of us, is still on the journey to holiness. About a year or so ago, she began to evaluate her wardrobe, especially what she wore to church. She hadn’t really thought much about her appearance before, but she was starting to consider that perhaps the current fashions were not appropriate for Mass. She had worn spaghetti strap tops and a halter top dress. But on her own she was starting to consider what an educated Catholic would call the virtue of modesty. This was the Holy Spirit whispering to her.

Just at this point, a pious mother of many left a book on her car about how women should dress modestly for Mass. She had anonymously done this to several women at the church who had all felt hurt, but nobody had said anything to her. My friend, who had admired this woman from afar for her devotion, confronted her. The woman admitted putting the book on her car, said that she had been wanting to say something for six months (the whole time my friend had been a parishioner there), and called my friend “a stumbling block of sin to the men of the parish.”

Well, now.

The spiritual works of mercy are:

To instruct the ignorant;
To counsel the doubtful;
To admonish sinners;
To bear wrongs patiently;
To forgive offences willingly;
To comfort the afflicted;
To pray for the living and the dead.

There is no question that my friend could have used some instruction and admonishing, but

We can not know fully where someone is on their journey to God. We can not expect that with conversion of heart will naturally follow sin-free behavior or even understanding of the basic rudiments of faith. We can not compare our journey of 30 or 40 or 50 years from childhood with wonderful role-models to someone else’s journey of 10 years with no assistance save that of the Spirit.

Of course, this woman did not know of my friend’s journey. She didn’t know that my friend was open to advice and counsel if done charitably. She didn’t know that my friend was already thinking about modesty. And that’s exactly my point.

Because now this pious woman, who likely meant well by her actions, has become a stumbling block of sin for my friend. Her method was so blunt, so hurtful, that my friend still struggles to forgive the injury. She’s only human.

There are many ways to be a witness for Christ. There are many ways to perform the spiritual works of mercy. Only the Spirit knows the best way for each person at any particular time, which is why prayer is so necessary when trying to serve the Lord.

I only hope that in my own zeal I have not been a stumbling block of sin for someone else.

Late to bed, late to rise

I would like to get up at 5 am. There is so much that I can accomplish in those early morning hours: uninterrupted, quiet, calm, peaceful. I love that time of day.

Bill would like to get up at 6 am. He doesn’t have to leave, usually, until after 8 am, and he hates to rush. But two hours for breakfast, getting ready, and reading the Drudge Report is plenty for him.
Unfortunately, in recent weeks, we’ve been living in the Land of Nod. Bill’s classes have him “burning the midnight oil” – notice the lamps on his unit patch? They aren’t kidding.

Bill has been going to bed between midnight and 2 am, and I, stupidly, have been pushing my own bedtime later as well, I guess because I’m not used to going to bed without him. Well, I am used to going to bed without him, but without him physically anywhere nearby. I’m not used to saying goodnight to him and going to sleep while he, poor man, is making himself a cup of tea at 11 pm to help him stay awake.

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 6:53 am. (I had been up an hour earlier with the baby, but fell back asleep.) I nudged Bill to get him up, and then snuggled back into the pillow. A minute later, Bill leaned over me and broke the bad news, “You have a doctor’s appointment.” I had a half hour to get out the door with Mary for her 6 month well baby.

She went in her pajamas.

Last night, I went to bed at 10 pm. I’d like to say it was an act of discipline that put me there, but, honestly, I was loading the washing machine when Mary started to cry. Had I not had to respond to her, I would have gone on to fold the clothes I had taken out of the dryer and possibly tried to put the play room in some sort of order (read: hid 25% of the toys until I can smuggle them out of the house to donate them to the thrift store).

I’m going to force myself to drop everything at 930 pm. Maybe I’ll even set an alarm. I just can’t compete with my husband, and I shouldn’t try. Early to bed, early to rise.

In Memoriam

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Dip down upon the northern shore,
O sweet new-year delaying long;
Thou doest expectant nature wrong;
Delaying long, delay no more.

What stays thee from the clouded noons,
Thy sweetness from its proper place?
Can trouble live with April days,
Or sadness in the summer moons?

Bring orchis, bring the foxglove spire,
The little speedwell’s darling blue,
Deep tulips dash’d with fiery dew,
Laburnums, dropping-wells of fire.

O thou, new-year, delaying long,
Delayest the sorrow in my blood,
That longs to burst a frozen bud
And flood a fresher throat with song.

Today: praying for Margaret.

Guns, wrenches and spatulas

I think sexism comes naturally to boys. I have one (a sexist boy), but he didn’t get that from me. I can’t really blame Bill either. I can accuse my husband of many things, but not sexism.

A few days ago, he (the sexist boy) casually remarked about women and guns not mixing. Something about how women don’t shoot them. My husband, in shock, informed him that his Nana (my husband’s mother) owned several handguns and was a better shot than he was. This boy of mine thought that it was illegal for women to shoot guns, or at least that it had been at some point in the past!

I reminded him of the female soldiers he’s seen. Asked him if didn’t he think they knew how to use a gun. The problem with logic is that it ruins one’s misperceptions!

Today I bought one of these (but I didn’t pay nearly that much!). The boys had one last year and used it a lot, but it didn’t survive the winter. My boys and two friends set out to put it together, but quickly decided the directions were too complicated. Sexist boy of mine wanted his dad to help. Bill was working on stuff for school, so I dropped all of my womanly work, you know, cooking, cleaning, and baby-tending, to see if my pretty little head could make heads or tails of the instructions. We did a few steps easily, but when I stopped to carefully read the next step, this kid sighed a heavy sigh and said, “Shouldn’t I just go get Dad?”

I was a little annoyed.

Just as we were finishing putting the net on, Bill came down to get more beer (it helps him write better) and stepped out back to see how we were doing. I informed him of his son’s comments, and my hero leaped to defend my honor by reminding the boy, “Your mother is an engineer!”

I don’t know what I’m going to do with this kid.

Balmy weather

Today’s high temperature was in the lower 50s. Depending on the wind or sun conditions at any given moment, my kids varied their dress from a t-shirt to a winter coat. Jenny, mainly favoring a winter coat, even came in at one point for mittens. I had to help her put them on. Later, she came through on some errand which required her to remove her mittens, so I had to help her put them on again. She stopped to chat.

It’s very warm outside, Mommy.”

“Is that why you’re wearing gloves?”

“Well, my hands are cold!”


“But the rest of me’s not cold. {pause} In the sun, it’s maybe even…hot.”

“Mmmm.” I’m wondering where this is going.

“Mommy, do you think we could get out the kiddie pool?”

“Uh, NO.”

I know, I know. I’m such a party pooper.

Running in place

My number one thought while up from 230 to 330 AM with a gassy baby was, “Yippee! Now I have an excuse to not get on the treadmill in the morning!”

I hate the treadmill.

Recently I read an article that said one should always set the elevation to at least 1.0 on a treadmill, because they tend to have a reverse slope, so running on a treadmill is actually easier than running on the street. Well, my treadmill is kicking my rear end more than street running ever did. I can’t believe it’s easier.

Currently, I can run 2 miles at a 12 minute per mile pace. That’s pretty pathetic. 18 months ago, I was doing 3 miles at a 9.5 – 10 mpm pace, which is not exactly speedy, but at least I didn’t feel like a total slug. I was ready to convict myself of delusional timing and wishful thinking, but my official time on the Army Ten Miler in 2006 put me at a 10.5 mpm pace, so I know I was doing better than I am today. I have to keep reminding myself that I do weigh 20 pounds more than I did then, and surely it is harder to propel that extra weight around, right?

Besides the extra weight and the limited running due to pregnancy and newborn care, the treadmill, I think, contributes to a more laborious run. There are no birds chirping or other animal wildlife scampering about and teasing my dog, no smell of honeysuckles or cherry blossoms, no cars to evade or other runners to impress with my sleek, regular strides and excellent form (ha!), no sun barely peeking out over the horizon or late moon lingering in the lightening sky.

Instead, it’s the whirr of the machine and the nagging beeps that remind me I’ve done another lap of the 1/8 mile loop in the computer’s mind, it’s the bleak walls of an unfinished basement and the sight of toys jumbled on the floor or in mixed up bins, it’s the sound of the washing machine and the buzz of the dryer reminding me that I have stuff to do.

Today’s morning temperature was barely above freezing. In fact, they’re calling for snow today and tomorrow. But as next week progresses, the temperatures are expected to go up and the morning air might not be as frigid. I am going to try to go outside for a change. Even if I still plod along slowly, at least I’ll enjoy the run.

And since we’re moving back to the area, I’ve already registered for this fall’s Army Ten Miler. It’s not as ambitious as Laura doing a half-marathon four months after having a baby, but it’s motivation nonetheless. Perhaps this summer, I will do some 5k races just so I have experience racing a more manageable distance.