Sunday, March 30, 2008

Instructions for Bumper Ball, by Ethan Tarpley

Both players have 3 lives.

Player 1 throws the ball up. If he catches it, then he loses. If Player 1 does not catch it, then he loses. Player 1 loses no matter what.

If Player 2 throws it up and does not catch it, he loses. If Player 2 does catch it, then he loses. Player 2 loses no matter what.

If one of the players throws the ball up and the other player catches it, then the other player wins a point. And the player who threw it up loses a point.

Both players can use special attacks. When Player 1 and Player 2 use their special attacks, the other player loses a point. When both of them use their second special attack, none of them loses, but one of them gets disqualified. Actually, that's the same as losing.

If someone punches the ball instead of catching it, the other player gets an extra life.

Both players only have 2 attacks. If someone loses all of their weapons or lives, then they lose.

The player who has the most lives or special attacks wins.

After one person loses, they have a sword fight. If one of the players stabs the other player in the stomach 6 times, the player who got stabbed loses.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trip to Grandma's, The Final Chapter

We're back in NY.

Jennifer's favorite memories of our trip to Prophetstown:
1. Singing in the choir
2. Shopping at Wal-Mart with her mom and sister
3. Looking at family photos
4. Visiting with her dad

Samuel's favorite memories:
1. Getting to see everyone
2. Meeting Maggie, the beagle next door
3. Swimming at the town rec center's indoor pool

Ethan's favorite memories:
1. Swimming at the rec center
2. Maggie the beagle
3. Everything..."I loved every single thing."

Trip to Grandma's, Part 7

Church on Easter morning. First Congregational Church of Prophetstown.

The pews are half-filled, mostly with old people, but they're all happy to be here, and welcoming to us. Jennifer is a guest member of the choir today, next to her sister, Julie, who is a regular member. If I weren't married to Jennifer I'd think, "Who is that hot woman in the choir?"

Samuel and I sit in a pew next to Grandma. Ethan refused to let me comb his hair, so we left him at home with Grandpa, who has a cold (so he says). If Ethan were here he would think the phrase "pew next to Grandma" was hilarious.

The minister asks us to hold hands with the person next to us. An older lady grabs my hand before I can avoid it, and for an instant I'm 6 years old again, holding my Grandma Tarpley's hand as she sings from the Methodist Hymnal. Samuel holds my other hand, and he is the sweetest boy in the universe.

Hawkeyes Rule

Iowa takes the NCAA wrestling title. All is right with the world.

We (okay, I) watched the finals on ESPN from my in-laws' living room floor.

Some people say wrestling is pointless--you bang up your body, you can't make money doing it, and you can't enjoy it when you're old, like golf. But, you know, your body's gonna get old anyway, you shouldn't waste your 20s wearing a suit and tie, and golf isn't even a sport.

Trip to Grandma's, Part 6

Prophetstown is Whoville. A tiny place full of nice people.

If you ask what Prophetstown is near, the answer is "Sterling." If you ask what Sterling is near, the answer is "Wal-Mart."

I like visiting, but I couldn't live here. Well, I could, but it would take a lot of kids and dogs and at least one old Jaguar XKE to blunt the day-to-day.

Trip to Grandma's, Part 5

We survived the plane ride. Spent an hour at the O'Hare Budget Rent-a-Car in a snowstorm while Jennifer rejected various cars ("smells like smoke," "too small"). Finally got on the road to Prophetstown, but stopped 10 minutes later at the "oasis" McDonald's. Another "oasis" in DeKalb. Finally pulled into Prophetstown at 4:15, full of chicken nuggets.

4-block Main Street. Illinois sweatshirts. John Deere caps. Friendly.

Jen's parents:
Retired. Republican. Church. Buick. Friendly. Tolerant of New Yorkers if they are relatives.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Trip to Grandma's, Part 4

Still on the plane. It's a long flight.

Ethan: Dad, look out the window.

Todd: I think we're in a cloud.

Ethan: I think we probably are. I think we're in Heaven. The plane probably crashed. Dad, where does everyone's body go when they die?

Todd: They get buried.

Ethan: What happens when so many people die that all the ground fills up and there's no more room to bury people?

Todd: Good question. I've wondered about that myself.

Ethan: Dad, when are we there?

Todd: 25 minutes.

Ethan: 25 minutes?? Oh, it's so long! Dad, did you know that this day has lasted like two years?

Todd: In real life? Or it just seems that way?

Ethan: In real life.

Todd: How could a day last two years?

Ethan: I don't know. I guess God made a mistake.

Todd: Maybe we've been flying so long that we're orbiting the earth at the speed of light, and when we land, everyone will be two years older.

Ethan: Yeah, that's kind of what's happening. Dad, your whiskers are getting long. Do you think Mom will ever get whiskers?

Todd: I hope not.

Ethan: How much longer?

Todd: 20 minutes.

Ethan: Oh, my God! Only five minutes have passed??

Trip to Grandma's, Part 3

Ethan: (Setting up figures on the airplane tray table) I have one attack, one weapon, and one shield.

Todd: Who wins between these guys?

Ethan: Well, this guy is a good guy and your guy is a bad guy.

Todd: So which one wins?

Ethan: Well, usually the good guy. But usually the bad guy almost wins. But then the good guy usually wins. There's a potion that the bad guy puts on that makes you invincible for 24 hours.

Todd: Does it work?

Ethan: It works for 24 hours.

(We battle. Ethan hums action music.)

Todd: Did I almost win?

Ethan: Well, you're winning so far. And I only have one life left in the whole game. And usually you lose just by me attacking you once. But since you're invincible I'm about to lose. But since it's getting dark out the day is over. (He hums action music and battles.) Now you lose.

Todd: So you got me?

Ethan: Mmmhmm. But you almost got me that time. Because you put that potion on.

Trip to Grandma's, Part 2

On the flight to Illinois, I sit with Samuel, and Jennifer sits with Ethan. Samuel and I can hear Ethan's panicked shrieks a few rows back during takeoff. About 10 minutes later, Jennifer comes up and asks me to trade seats with her. I go back with Ethan.

Todd: How ya doing?

Ethan: Taking off is the scariest thing ever. It's like the spaceship ride at Mars 2112. And also when the plane moves all around, like sideways and sometimes upside down.

Todd: I don't think the plane really goes upside down.

Ethan: Yeah, it does. That's when they turn the seatbelt sign on.

Todd: Hmmm.

Ethan: Dad, can we take a car back?

Todd: Back to New York? No.

Ethan: Please? I really don't want to take a plane. When are we there?

Todd: One more hour.

Ethan: A whole hour?? (Pulling the phone out of the seatback) Dad, look--we have a phone. (Pulling my tray down) Dad, put your thing down. (Pulling his carry-on bag from under the seat) Dad, where are my Imaginext figures? Dad, wanna have a battle? (Getting up) Dad, I have to go to the bathroom.

Trip to Grandma's, part 1

Todd: We're going on a trip to Prophetstown, Illinois. Do you know anybody who lives in Prophetstown, Illinois?

Ethan: I don't know anybody who lives in Prophetstown, Illinois.

Todd: I'll give you a hint. Mom grew up there.

Ethan: Hmmm.

Todd: But then she married me. That's why her life is filled with fun and adventure from morning to night.

Ethan: Mom's life isn't filled with fun and adventure. She's always cleaning. Hey, maybe sometime you and I and Samuel can clean instead of Mom.

Todd: I don't like that idea so much.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Four Bears, by Todd & Samuel Tarpley

Once upon a time there were four bears. Smart Bear, Stupid Bear, Stinky Bear, and Completely Bear.

"Let's go for a walk and let our porridge cool," said Smart Bear. "So we don't burn our esophagi."

"Let's leave the door unlocked in case some girl wants to break into our house," said Stupid Bear.

"Can we stop by the store and pick up some underarm deodorant?" said Stinky Bear.

"Look at me!" said Completely Bear. "I'm naked!"

Moments after the bears left, a strange girl knocked on their door. Why would a girl alone in the woods knock on the door of a bear's house? I don't know. But she did.

No one was home. So she went inside.

"Mmmm, soup," she said. "Or maybe it's porridge, I can never tell the difference."

She took a big bite from the first bowl and said, "Too crunchy." So she decided to eat the porridge instead of the bowl.

"Yeeeeaaaaaoooowwww!" she screamed.

When the bears returned, they found her passed out on the floor, steam coming from her esophagus and ears.

"Hmmm," said Smart Bear. "I think it's possible that the porridge was too hot."

"By the way, did somebody say something about four beers?" said Stupid Bear. "I'm thirsty."

The End

Friday, March 14, 2008

Name 1 good thing that happened today

Samuel: The middle-school students put on a puppet show that was like a musical.

Ethan: I had a play date with Aaron.

Jennifer: I enjoyed walking Kahlua to the pet store to buy a pig ear.

Todd: When I came out of the subway station at 6:15pm, it was still light outside and I said, "Whoa."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ethan's Earliest Memory

Ethan says he remembers his past life. He says he was an old goat. He lived in a mansion. He had a butler, and lots of money. He died right after he told his butler, "I have soooo much money."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

5 great things to be thankful for this weekend

1. Ethan's 7th birthday party was a success. Too cold to turn them loose at the playground, so we had an apartment full of gun-toting, sword-weilding, karate-chopping 7-year-old boys. Pizza, donuts, screaming, fart jokes, new toys.

2. Kahlua got a new haircut at the dog groomer's. She is now the prettiest dog in NYC.

3. Taxes not quite done. But close. No marital bloodshed thus far.

4. Nutra-Sweet. I stuck a Fresca in the back of the fridge, next to the cooling vent. Remember how gross Frescas used to taste, back in the 80s, when only your grandma drank them? Whoever invented Nutra-Sweet should get some sort of humanitarian prize for making the world a better place.

5. Iowa Hawkeyes are Big-10 wrestling champs.