Saturday, July 31, 2010


Where is the black hole in our house that sucks up all our pacifiers? We only use pacifiers for one thing, so you'd think we'd be able to keep track of where they are. One of those multi-use Leatherman tools, sure, you use that all over the house and I can understand how you might not know where it was used last. But a pacifier? That only gets used to plug the baby. But now that I'm thinking about it, a pacifier tool as part of a Leatherman would be very handy. I'll ask for one for my birthday. Or maybe I can get a Swiss Army knife with a pacifier as one of the implements. You never know when you might be in the mountains of Helvetica and need to calm a tot.

So the pacifiers disappear, no big deal, right? Just buy more. Yes, but apparently pacifiers are priced somewhere above emeralds (but good news -- below diamonds!) on a per ounce basis. If you do the math on the receipt you can see that I spent $35.85 on pacifiers a few days ago in an attempt to appease the black hole. Thirty-five dollars! That is a lot of money for what is basically a fake thumb.

And yes, if you look at the total at the bottom of the receipt, you can see that I spent $170 at Walgreens, and a lot of the amount (other than pacifiers) was for Vitamin D for mama and baby. That's somewhat aggravating considering the sun just gives Vitamin D away for free. But since I don't work in the fields all day, and Baby W's still on the young side for a job detassling corn, Vitamin D comes in a pill form for us.

When David lived in LA his car got stolen, and the police told him that his car was in Mexico by the time he even noticed it was gone. I'm wondering if that's what happened to our pacifiers. Right now they're on a truck bound for Tijuana. They're certainly pricey enough to support a black market. Mexicans, please don't steal our pacifiers!  Leave that job for the Swiss.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010


Looks like I'll get back to my pre-baby weight more quickly than last time around. With this baby I have the advantage of not working in a office that prides itself on continual availability of junk food. The good news is that makes it easier to lose the pregnancy weight, but I do have a tendency to wander into the breakroom at about 3 PM, look around, and plaintively ask "...but where are all the mini Three Musketeers?"

I have weighed the exact same amount since I was a teenager. How do I manage to keep the weight off when everyone else is experiencing expanding waistlines? I have a secret weapon: I'm a lousy cook. This makes second helpings unappetizing, and voila! I can still wear (ugly) jeans from the 1980s. I'm thinking that I should write a diet book called On Second Thought, I've Had Plenty, Thanks which would be full of boring recipes like the same dang tofu stirfry which isn't that great no matter how many times I make it. Or maybe I could start up one of those diet meal-delivery services; the pasta would be soggy from being overcooked and the potatoes crunchy from being undercooked, and who wouldn't lose weight eating (or not eating) that kind of food? The pounds would just melt off.

David, in contrast, has well-developed cooking skills. Whenever he makes something for us, which isn't that often, it's so delicious that I wind up getting a little angry. "This is great! Why don't you cook more often, dammit?" Yelling at him for engaging in a behavior I would like to encourage doesn't seem to be working.

I may not be much of a cook, but I don't mind eating rabbit food. This is a result of living in two different housing/eating co-ops during a brief but formative period in the mid 1990s, where they cooked and ate a lot of hippie food. You know, things like bulgur. And millet. All the food was vegetarian, which was ironic considering there were always plenty of animal life forms in the kitchen, primarily cockroaches. The consumate co-op experience is opening the silverware drawer and seeing twenty cockroaches flee for the darkness.

At one point I moved from one co-op to another, which upgraded the level of filth in the kitchen from "unbearable" to merely "inhuman." This new co-op was cleaner and did not have a cockroach problem; instead, it had a mouse problem. (I am not sure it is even possible to have simultaneous mouse and cockroach infestations. Do mice eat cockroaches? When you live in a co-op, these are the kind of questions you ask yourself.) We addressed the mouse problem humanely by getting live traps and then inhumanely never checking them, so that the little buggers unlucky enough to be caught starved to death.

One day I stumbled into the co-op kitchen for breakfast, and decided to make myself some toast. With my eyes still closed, I shoved two slices of bread into the toaster, and tried to depress the toaster lever. It wouldn't go down. Something was wrong, but my sleep-fogged brain wasn't properly processing, so I just kept! shoving! down! the lever! -- and then I heard a faint scurrying sound from inside the toaster. THAT woke me up.

Here's how things wound up for all the players in that sad drama: The mouse went to the Giant Toaster In The Sky, where there are plenty of crumbs for all. I developed PTSD (post-toaster stress disorder) and switched to using the toaster oven. I'd open the door and meticulously and carefully inspect every single inch of the interior to certify there were no inappropriate life forms in there. It got so it would take me 20 minutes to make toast. The toaster was de-moused and returned to duty, which might be the grossest part of the whole episode. The only good news was that with the mouse out of the picture, there was plenty of room for cockroaches.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

That poor bunny

A quick update to make one more point about Pat the Bunny, about which I wrote a lengthy literary analysis in my last post, primarily consisting of implying the author was a lush. Pat the Bunny has a book within the book, just exactly the way Inception has a dream within a dream. That's what passed for trippy in the 1940s.

In the inner book, Judy reads about bunny's various activities, including sleeping. After reading yesterday's post, David pointed out that there is no way that bunny is sleeping. That bunny is seriously dead, or "tot" as say in our house because we like to pretend we read Nietzsche in the original, and also we like to pretend it didn't take us six times of googling Nietzsche before spelling it correctly. ("Does the 'i before e' rule apply for 19th century German existentialists?") I think perhaps the two "cute babies" referenced in the previous post might have helped speed that bunny along to an early demise. Also, its ears have apparently been replaced with wooden spoons.

David also took issue with the use of "sss-sh" as an command to be quiet, which is used on this page. Too many sssses, he said. But then I explained that the book was written in the 1940s, like before Facebook even existed, so who knows what kind of primitive communication methods they used back then.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More Awful Children's Books

In a recent post I claimed that a lot, maybe even the majority, of children's books are complete crap, and I got several responses from people suggesting specific books I might enjoy reading to Stella. Thank you for the suggestions -- I know there's plenty of good material out there as well, but it's just so much more fun to complain about the stinkers. It's a little like reading the restaurant reviews in the New York Times; the restaurants described are a thousand miles away, so there's no particular reason to read a positive review since I will never eat at that restaurant. On the other hand a negative review can be hilarious when the writer describes in excruciating detail why the ahi tuna reminds him of something dug out of a dumpster or why the flourless chocolate cake deserves to be run over repeatedly with a moped.

I also love reading negative movie reviews and keep a special place in my heart for A.O. Scott at the Times, who once described the movie Van Helsing as resembling an "especially lavish episode of 'Scooby-Doo' mounted on a scaffold of baroque supernaturalism." I actually saw Van Helsing in the theater back in 2004, and it was so bad that Hugh Jackman DIDN'T EVEN LOOK CUTE. I don't know how they did managed to accomplish that; must have been some digital manipulation in post-production. My favorite moment in Van Helsing, which was some sort of historical vampire action flick, occurred when the horse and carriage that Hugh Jackman was riding in went out of control, with the horses running at top speed towards a steep cliff. Monseiur Non-Hottie managed to leap from the carriage just as it careened over the edge of the precipice. The carriage smashed to bits on the rocks below and BLEW UP, with a giant mushroom of fire, because in movies like things always blow up, only this was a horse and carriage! What could possibly cause a horse and carriage to blow up? A giant tank of gasoline, 200 years before it was actually invented? Too much vampire hairspray? Excessive equine flatulence? The whole movie was excessive equine flatulence if you know what I mean, and at one particularly emotionally manipulative moment that was supposed to be tender, I started guffawing in disbelief and whispered loudly to David that since he chose that particular movie, I would be the one picking the movies we went to for the next several years. Or possibly the next several lifetimes.

This finally brings me to my point, which is that I find it entertaining to make fun of stupid things, and I'm going to do it about more children's books. This page is from Pat The Bunny by Dorothy Kuhnhardt, which of course is a classic. Originally published in the 1940s, it was apparently illustrated by someone who was drunk. (I just googled Pat the Bunny to see who the author was, and the autocomplete feature suggested -- I am serious -- "Pat the Bunny rehab." I don't know what that is but I think ol' Dorothy might have benefited.)

Does any part of this child's body strike you as being unusually prominent? Judy's got some serious back, folks. Half her body is butt. Kinda looks like a big bubble, doesn't it? I just love the phrase "two cats fighting under a blanket" and something tells me Judy does too. The frighteningly large rabbit, on the other hand, has forelegs that look as if they have been amputated. How does this animal walk? Its upper stumps are not long enough to reach the ground, especially considering the pear-shaped midsection. Perhaps the bunny is pregnant, which would explain Judy's look of concentration as she tries to determine fundal height.

The companion book to Pat the Bunny is Pat the Puppy, which was written by Dorothy's daughter Edith. The drawing skills of the mother were apparently visited upon the daughter. This page has a wheel on the side (which you can't see in this picture) that you can turn to see pictures of the kids in the book when they were younger.

Ack! What's that red stuff on that baby's head? Edith's idea of a cute baby apparently involves scalp lacerations. That baby needs stitches. And that is one of the worst cases of thigh cellulite I've ever seen. You know how the trashy supermarket check-out line magazines run pictures of celebrities at the beach, pointing out their cellulite? This baby should not read those magazines. It would be bad for her self-esteem.

"What cute babies!" exclaims the book, but these babies do not look cute to me. No, these babies look like future residents of Sing Sing to me. Already they are dreaming about ways to try to assassinate the president. The baby in yellow is obviously crippled -- what is that strange lump on her shoulder? -- but that won't stop her from becoming a criminal mastermind. The red-headed baby will be the dumb lunk who just follows orders, especially when those orders involve dumping bodies in secluded areas.

No matter how violent, how depraved, how meaningless their life of crime turns out to be, remember this: It could be worse. It could be Van Helsing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


In addition to animals in the house, we also have bugs in the house. The most recent addition is the ant farm Stella got for Christmas.  I am all for insects -- I'm pro-insect, you could say, and I vote. The exception would be yellow jackets. I am anti-yellow jackets, as they essentially fly up and sting you for no reason and then don't even have the courage to die as a result. In that regard they remind me of Tea Party activists, who also have been known to spoil a picnic.

I am all for insects, yet it seems strange to pay good money to bring ants into our house. The ants don't come with the actual ant farm; you have to send away for your ants and pay for them. I understand that you can just go out with a shovel and dig up a hill and populate your farm that way, but that approach would bring me into closer contact with the ants than I desire. So I wrote a check for four dollars, and the ants arrived in the mail six weeks later. In case you are keeping track, the cost was about $0.25 per ant. Expensive, sure, but these are quality ants. 

We put the ants into their farm, and they were immediately madly productive. In the first 24 hours, they had found the water, distributed the food, taken care of their dead, and already dug several tunnels. I know several individuals who haven't accomplished that much in their whole lives. If ants ever get ambitious enough to come out from underground and try to take over the world, we as a species are seriously screwed.

Unfortunately there was a security breach not long after the ants got in their new home; Stella knocked the farm down and ants escaped.  In a type of reverse Darwinism, the fast ants who looked like they might be getting away were stomped, while the slow ants were trapped under cups and returned to their home. 

Perhaps that short taste of freedom broke their will to live. Perhaps once they realized their captivity, they lost heart. Perhaps, just perhaps, you can't tame a wild ant. Whatever the reason, they all died soon after the escape attempt. They didn't just keel over. No, these ants died in a spectacular manner. For some reason the wall of the ant farm is covered in severed ant legs, so whatever killed them (and I fed them! I swear I did!) caused their appendages to pop off. For now we're calling it The Great Ant Genocide of 2010. 

I blame the yellow jackets.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Animals in the House

Stella was in full tantrum mode this morning when the cats caught a bird in the house. Stella is generally even-tempered and able to adapt to changing situations, but when she does blow, it's a doozy. This particular tantrum was occurring because I wasn't quick enough in pouring the glass of milk she had begged for, then spurned, back into the jug. Obviously borderline abusive.

Stella can turn off a tantrum with a moment's notice if something interesting happens. If we suddenly notice there's a package on the porch, if someone rings the doorbell, if a firecracker goes off nearby -- the fact that something more interesting has happened often means she turns off the screams immediately and gets happy. So we often try to manufacture events to distract her during tantrums. "Wow, Stella, look, there's....uh....a...a...a really WHITE plane in the sky.  That's the WHITEST plane I've ever seen!"  If the world has to end in my lifetime, I hope it at least ends during one of Stella's tantrums; it would cheer her right up.

The cats catching a bird in the basement definitely qualified as an interesting event and Stella stopped her tantrum to investigate. In the 12 years we've lived in this house, this is the first time we have had any wild animals make their way inside. My sister, who owns a house of a similar age about a mile away, has a bat population in her attic to the point where she has guano deposits up there. It would almost be worth having bats if it afforded you the opportunity to say "guano" a lot. Weren't there wars fought over that stuff back in the 1800s? She's got white (or whatever color bat poop is) gold, right in her attic.

Bats in the attic and walls are one thing, but invariably one squeezes out and then you've got a flier in your bedroom in the middle of the night. One time she opened up the washing machine and there was a bat inside the lid hanging upside down which just is not a good image. True, we've never had a bat in our house but I should probably avoid doing laundry just to be on the safe side.

Also on the topic of animals where they shouldn't be: David once told me a story of how when he was a kid, his sisters played with an old baby carriage that was kept in the garage. One day they went to play with the baby carriage and there was a possum curled up in it, playing dead. Somebody went and got the neighbor who shot and killed the possum while it was still in the baby carriage. Wow. (If I ever write a short story, it's going to be called The Possum in the Baby Carriage and the possum will symbolize, you know, the death of America's post-war dominance and the neighbor will symbolize the Viet Cong.) I am not necessarily suggesting shooting the bats but you have to agree the idea has potential.

Our cats were going batshit (get it? BATSHIT!) trying to catch the bird, which to be honest surprised me since these cats are severely lazy. I thought they didn't pay attention to anything unless it came out of a bag and went crunch crunch. In the end, I opened the door to the outside and when I returned a few hours later the bird seemed to be gone. I'm glad I didn't have to escalate by calling in the neighbor; still, I'll miss the guano.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Our family just got back from several days at a lake cottage, where I got a good 65 or 70% of my blood sucked out of my body by unidentified bugs. The cottage was beautiful in every way except for the fountain in front of the house. I won't dwell too long on the fountain other than to say yes, that is a tiny jet of water coming out from a hole in the top and yes, apparently it is circumcised.

After the first night at the lake when we had a campfire and roasted marshmallows, Stella became obsessed. We roasted marshmallows every night, with Stella helpfully reminding us from the moment she woke up that we needed to have a campfire right now and roast lots and lots of marshmallows. David thinks marshmallows are disgusting, and although intellectually I know he's right, there's just something inherently delicious about sugar and gelatin puffed up with air. Like her mama, Stella loves the bad carbs. I have not yet introduced her to Nutella, as I'm afraid that it will become 90% of her diet once she knows it exists. (She has, however, been exposed to Vegemite on a trip to New Zealand, with results that were no less hilarious for being predictable.)

Stella is a cautious child. This is helpful when you're trying to cross a parking lot with two children in tow, but it makes roasting marshmallows into something of a farce. She stands a good 20 or 25 feet from the fire, where the marshmallow is exposed to temperatures 0.0001 degree hotter than the surrounding air. Naturally, she meticulously rotates the stick with the marshmallow on it so that it "roasts" evenly on all sides, then declares it "nice and gooey" and ready to consume. Good thing David built that fire.

Stella is very demanding these days, which was on full display at the lake. Commands, many of which are conflicting or impossible, positively spew forth from her. Get me a drink! Read me a book! Find my scissors! Put my drink away! I want to go to Omaha! She is also very particular (though random) about which of us minions is worth of the honor of providing assistance to her. If I'm trying to help her and she demands Daddy instead, my general attitude is that David is busy elsewhere and I will help her. The exception is if she demands that Daddy wipe her bottom, in which case I suddenly develop an immediate and profound respect for her bodily autonomy.  DAVID! YOUR DAUGHTER NEEDS YOU!
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010


We just got back from a lovely few days at a lake; more about that later. First I wanted to share the fact that somewhere along the way I managed to get 127 bug bites between my knees and my toes and yes, I did count. Keep in mind this does not include the bites elsewhere on my body. Check out the attractive and sexy pictures.

The one upside to being very attractive to bugs is that David is duly impressed. If I am sporting an impressive crop of welts I point out the ugliest ones to him and he never fails to admire them. ("Oooh, yes, I bet that one itches.") David has many fine qualities, and his willingness to give my bug bites the credit they are due is among them.

The obvious downside to all these bites is that I can't think of anything other than how delicious it would feel to itch them until they bleed. We went to a little zoo while on vacation and saw a badger; I admired its feet and thought, "Wouldn't it feel great to itch my ankles with those claws?"

Here's a story to give you an idea of how much it itches. Do you know that story about how a girl was sunbathing and an ant crawled up her nose and she didn't know it and then a few days later her cheek started itching and she scratched it until it bled and scratched herself so much they had to put her in a straightjacket and then she worked a hand out of the straightjacket and scratched her cheek so badly that it tore off and inside her face were a bunch of ant eggs that were hatching? Yeah? Well, it kind of feels like that, only worse.

Also, unrelated, when I was a kid we told each other the story about how a girl had a big puffy hairdo and a spider crawled into her hair unbeknownst to her and laid a bunch of eggs and then the baby spiders ate into her head right down to her brain and she died. At this point that sounds a little appealing, as long as those baby spiders don't make you itch.
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Saturday, July 10, 2010


Baby W had a well-baby doctor's visit yesterday and the doctor complimented me on his penis. (By "his," I mean Baby W's penis and not the doctor's penis, although that would have been interesting.) Maybe complimented isn't the right word; the doctor positively rhapsodized about Baby W's penis.  "That is a nice penis," he said, "Yes sir, a niiiiiiice peeeeeenis."  This is the second office visit that the doctor used the word "nice" to describe Baby W's genitalia. I'm not sure how to reply to this comment; saying "thank you" doesn't seem to be appropriate.  Perhaps I should just say, "Yes, I've always thought it very shapely," and leave it at that. I would like to say that whatever characteristic the doctor is admiring, Baby W inherited it from his father, but I'm not sure how David would feel about the word "nice" being used to describe his penis. 

There was also a decent amount of blather on the doctor's part about how great it is that I'm breastfeeding, such a good way to lay a foundation of good health, etc .  I think that little pep talk was for the benefit of the medical student he had accompanying him that day.  I agreed with him about the importance of breastfeeding, and then said "I still give Stella the occasional nip and she's almost five," and cut my eyes over to the medical student to see if I managed to shock her.  Shoot, she was still smiling and nodding.  Did you hear that, lady?  ALMOST! FIVE!  That's the problem with living in Madison; when everybody's doing weird hippie things you have to be truly hardcore to stand out.

After weighing and measuring, I received confirmation that Baby W is a very large baby.  That's good, because even though we probably wouldn't have put him up for adoption if he were small, I'm glad we won't have to find out.  And everybody knows being big -- specifically being tall -- is better than being short, and if you disagree with that you're probably one of those guys who claims they are six feet yet somehow stand eye to eye with me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Easy, baby

I don't mean to brag, but I have the easiest baby in the world.  The most important thing any baby can do is sleep.  Baby W sleeps unbelievably well, amazingly well. In the Baby World Cup, he'd be like . . .one of those European countries that plays soccer pretty well (Belgium?), and he'd win the. . . World Cup first prize gold medal trophy award.  Let's just say he's a champ at sleeping.

We have the sleep responsibilities divided in half, with David taking care of Stella's night time disturbances and me handling Baby W's wakeups.  You would think that I get the short end of that stick.  I do not. I keep wanting to brag on Facebook about the fact that Baby W, at less than three months old, regularly sleeps five, six, even seven hours at a stretch but I'm too afraid that all the other parents who are posting about ongoing sleep deprivation will immediately de-friend me. It's already embarrassing how many fewer Facebook friends I have than David, who started a year after me and still secretly thinks Facebook is lame and never posts and yet has three times the friends that I do.  So I can't afford to lose any Facebook friends.

There are very few downsides to Baby W.  My biggest complaint is that if I don't give him a bath every other day, he starts to smell funny, particularly his little clenched hands.  When I pry open his fists, they're full of lint and congealed saliva. Baths are helpful since he is usually covered in pink sparkles; Stella got a velvet sparkly dress the color of pepto-bismol at the thrift store, and the sparkles migrate off the dress and all over the house, particularly to Walter's scalp. (This reminds me of the time that David and Stella were playing dress-up, and David forgot and then went to the grocery store with a head full of little girly plastic barrettes. The neighborhood being what it is, they didn't even blink an eye.)

In sum: cute baby, healthy baby, baby who loves to sleep.  Go Belgium!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How We Talk Around Here

Mom: "Did you see, they shot a bear near Camp Hill Mall?"

Me: "The bear just wanted to go shopping.  Is that so wrong?"

Quinn: "I doubt it. That mall's crap."

Me: "Hello!  Bears don't know the difference."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Analysis of an Awful Children's Book, Part 1 of A Million

My daughter loves to read, so I am very familiar with the canon of children's books, and I therefore feel I have the expertise to offer this reasoned opinion of children's literature: It sucks. Oh, there are occasional exceptions, but most children's books make you want to hunt down the author and demand they re-take 11th grade English. Part of the problem is that Stella wants to read the same book over and over again, and repeated readings do not do shoddily-written books any favors. It's a bit like carpeting; standing up to high volume sometimes requires something truly ugly.

This is as good as time as any to admit that I could not make it through Infinite Jest.

We used to buy books a lot at St. Vincent's, before I wised up to the fact that no matter how many I bought, I would still get heartily sick of them from repeated readings. Now we just go to the library to get books we will be sick of in a week. The book I wanted to discuss today, Tiger in the Jungle, was a St. Vinnie's purchase and you can still see the $0.50 price sticker on the front which now that I am thinking about is kind of a lot, both for the quality of the book and considering the fact that I bought Everything is Illuminated there for $1.50, and it's way more than three times as good.
 Now on to the analysis.
Page 1: This is Tiger. He has wandered away from his mother to get a drink.
Like too many children's books, this one goes for the cheap anxiety of getting lost, which might be one reason my daughter freaks out if I step out to empty the compost and don't tell her where I am.

Page 2: "Have you seen my mother?" Tiger asks Parrot. A reasonable enough question.

Page 3: "Squawk!" says Parrot. "She's here somewhere, Tiger." Yes, you morons, that's her happy tiger face poking out from behind the grass. Inane, yes, but if we're not expecting Tolstoy there's no particular reason to be disappointed so far.

Page 4: "I've lost my mother," Tiger tells Elephant, have you seen her?" It took me something like 40 minutes to upload these photos of the book.  This blogging site is through Google, and I was using Picasa (which is a Google program) to upload the photos so you might think that the two programs would work well together but the Blogger would only let me upload four photos directly from Picasa.  That strikes me as positively retro.  Ok, maybe in the 1950s maybe they would only let you load four photos at a time onto your blog, but that was when launching Sputnik took up the whole world's bandwidth for six days and Facebook barely existed.  But now that the internet has celebrated its hundredth anniversary you would think it would be possible to actually move to the stage where we can upload five photos at once, yet no. Which is why the photos show two pages each and are therefore too small to read.  Yet I really wanted to have photos on this post, as photographic evidence of the weirdness of this book.

There is an odd number of quotation marks on this page.  There are THREE quotation marks.  Now, I think people who pride themselves on being sticklers for proper grammar as secretly insecure people trying to find something to look down on other people for, and yes you bet I ended that sentence with a preposition. Still. I believe there are supposed to be an even number of quotation marks, in the sense that there are opening and closing marks, unless perhaps it's an e. e. cummings poem.

There's also the whole business of the comma instead of a period between "Elephant" and "have" but I'm going to gloss over that for fear of sounding like a grammar stickler.

Page 5: "She's not far away!" says Elephant. "Look carefully and you'll see her." Didn't we already do this with parrot? This is familiar ground and getting a bit repetitive.  Michiko Kakutani is not going to be pleased, not one bit.

Page 6: "Growl!" It's Tiger's mother! Can you see her tail? I believe this is called foreshadowing. Shakespeare also used this technique.

Page 7 and yes we're almost done: Tiger looks around and sees her. "Mommy, I've found you at last!"

Page 8: "I was with you all the time!" says Mom. Did you see me? Now the quotes are skipped entirely for the last sentence.  Perhaps the author was trying to save money on ink costs and therefore skimped on quotation marks. Or perhaps the book was written during the terrible quotation drought of 2003.

This book contains 86 words. How long would it have taken to run it by a proofreader?