Monday, April 07, 2008

House of Geeks

I am living in a house of geeks. Let me explain.... last week, Ben and I decided to take Dave Ramsey's "sell it all" advice to heart. (If you're not familiar with what I'm talking about, check out his website, or his radio show, or one of his many books. We're taking Financial Peace University through our church and absolutely love it). So, we cleaned out totes of junk in the basement and listed tons of auctions on ebay. We're talking about so much stuff that I spent an entire morning, from getting up until naptime, parked in front of the computer doing listings, and that was after the pictures were already taken. (It was spring break for the kids I babysit for, so they were home with their teacher parents, thus why I had the time to do this.)

Then our friend Cathy approached us with a money-making scheme. It seems that one of her other friends was looking to get rid of three large brown packing boxes full of Star Wars memorabilia from the 1980s before moving out of state. Cathy requested Ben's ninja-like ebay skills to post these items. Then Cathy and her husband Eric remembered that Eric actually had three large black trash bags full of Star Wars stuff in his parents' crawl space.... and so the true ebay marathon began.

On Sunday afternoon following naptime, I came downstairs to find this scene in my living room. Pre-naptime, Ben had told me that Eric was going to come by to help him identify some of the items. Eric told Cathy that he was just going to "swing by" to help Ben figure out whose stuff was whose. Two hours later, they were giggling like schoolboys and had covered the entire floor with tiny Star Wars memorabilia. Ben was looking up items online, seeing how much they had sold for in the past, in order to get a better idea of how much to ask for them. Eric was looking up each item in a Star Wars pricing guide, then taking notes on tiny sheets of white paper about each item: name of item, theoretical value, what pieces it came with, etc. The mess actually extends into the kitchen area, which they were using as a staging area to take photos of the items. They were even lovingly cleaning each dusty old item with baby wipes before photographing them. And they were both having a fantastic time.

I got Bryn up from her nap, and the boys assured me that they would "be done soon," so I left the girls with them and headed out for our weekly grocery run. It seems that this is what they found to amuse Bryn while they played.... a 12-inch hard plastic Storm Trooper from the 1980s. I tried to intervene when I got home, but the damage was already done. My sweet little girly girl had fallen in love. She carried that darn thing around for days, and when I tried to take it away, she cried and begged for her "dolly." Cathy eventually summoned Eric home after five hours of the Star Wars/ebay marathon, and I convinced Ben that no, really, our family actually does need to eat. Thus ended the evening.... or so I thought.

In the morning, I came downstairs shortly after 8:00, to find Ben sitting at the kitchen table in his pajamas, intently focused on the computer. Confused, I asked, "Isn't it Monday? Aren't you supposed to be at work?" Hardly breaking stride in his typing, he said, with a manic gleam in his eye, "I'm taking a half day. I want to get these items listed before the sale ends." I forgot to mention earlier that ebay was running a sale until March 31 only: 1 cent listing fees instead of the usual 15 cents. So Ben had determined that all items must be listed before the sale ended, thus saving us 14 cents apiece. I told him that I admired his diligence, and I ran to the store to fill a prescription. When I got home, this is what I found: Ben and Bryn happily engaged in some sort of role-playing involving many small Star Wars figurines and some sort of playset for them. At one point, as I ran for the camera, I actually saw Ben pick up a Darth Vader model and say, in a raspy voice, "Bryn.... I am your father."

I decided to take Bryn down the basement in an effort to get Ben back on track. I had designated spring break week as The Great Basement Cleanup, which ended up only being partially successful, but I have high hopes for the end result. Anyway, Bryn normally loves the basement, as that is where we keep her sand playtable and several other large toys. But did she want any of them? Nope. She wanted to sit at the table and "help" Daddy by emptying the plaster blocks from his many molds, then sorting them into baggies for shipping. (This would be another ebay item that Ben posts frequently.) This concerns me: does he use her as slave labor when I'm not at home? But she was having a fabulous time and could hardly be convinced to eventually come upstairs for lunch. By that point, Ben was hitting his limit, and he left for work shortly after noon. He continued to list when he got home, though, and eventually all that stopped him was that midnight hit and thus the 1 cent sale ended. By that point, we were running 107 auctions. Madness.

Since then, we have been kept quite busy answering endless questions flooding in through ebay regarding our plethora of listed items. Friday started the "pack and ship" marathon, which I estimate will continue through this next week. But we made quite a nice profit, so I can't complain too much about that. What I can comment upon, though, is the extremely geeky nature of my family. I mean, really, my husband got my 2-year-old playing with 20-year-old Star Wars figurines (can anyone say "choking hazard"?!?!) and sorting small plaster blocks out of molds. And she thought this was the most fun she'd ever had. Meanwhile, Ben was spastically checking ebay every 10 minutes around the clock to monitor our sales, while also playing with the figurines himself. It seemed that my only hope of a non-geeky companion was Shay..... until Bryn gave her a large accessory to one of the Star Wars pieces (don't worry, no small pieces on this one). Shay's eyes lit up, and she clutched it for the next several hours. Great. Like I said, we are now officiallly a House of Geeks.


Andrea said...

LOL if it makes you feel better, you certainly aren't the only one. Ever since Hannah was born, Rob has been purchasing her Star Wars toys. Luckily they are all for 3 and older and I have convinced him not to let her play with them until she is 3. Hopefully she'll be so enthralled by princesses, ponies, stuffed animals, etc that she won't even pay attention to his dorky toys. ;)

Anonymous said...

Amy and Andrea - I'm pretty sure that all three of us have hopeless situations in the husband department ;) Amy, your daughters get more adorable by each posting!


Kathleen said...

Woo-hoo! Three cheers for the Family of Geeks! This, of course, is coming from the mommy of a daughter who had a Darth Vader onesie and a Yoda bib before she was born (and just got a Chewbacca t-shirt for her 2nd birthday!)! And did I mention that said daughter can now say "Chewbacca?" Daddy couldn't be more proud! (Really, you should have seen the joy in his eyes when she said it!)

amypfan said...

I feel much better about being a geek now that I realize that all of my friends are too. :) I'm thinking girl bonding time while our husbands geek out during GenCon this year??? Kathleen, I about had a heart attack the other day when Bryn started crying for something that sounded like "wookie"...... until I realized she just wanted some yogurt. :)

Anonymous said...

Amy - you have an amazing writing talent, I have been laughing myself silly over this saga. Ben - Grandpa Noordyk would be soooooo proud of you! Not that he would ever know or understand Star Wars but the buying and selling....that was his life!!
Love to all,

Nana Meyaard

Anonymous said...

yay for star wars sales! we're dave ramsey geeks in our house. that's so awesome you're doing fpu!!!! one year ago, we had $15k in debt (not to mention a mortgage). We sold stuff, downsized, bought a beater 15 year old car, and have $10K in savings. SOOOOO worth it! I forgot what it was like to live in complete care of God's provision, instead of trying to overstretch our budget and provide for ourselves. You will be so happy, and I honestly haven't even THOUGHT about any of the stuff we sold. once. It's just such a relief to have an emergency fund! Are you guys doin the whole "blow money" thing too? It helps :) Anyway, the best part about being debt free is that if you need something - new shoes, new tires, new dishes ... you can just go out and buy it and enjoy the purchase. Before, we felt guilty about every penny we spent. Anyway, congrats! It's a fun challenge, and the rewards are totally worth it. It adds up quick too!!! I love the Bryn-clutching-Storm-Trooper pic. Priceless. And I can totally see Ben checking ebay sales every 10 minutes. I get obsessed when I have a batch of sales on. My only question is Ben's math skills. He took off a half day of work (4 hours) to save money on the listing fees. He lists 107 listings. He saves $14.98 in listing fees. $14.98/4 = $3.74. TELL ME he makes more than $3.74 an hour at work!!!! lol... I think that the satisfaction of getting a good deal on listing fees must have been worth a lot to him :) lol... That cracked me up. I hate ebay listings. I hate answering questions. I hate shipping things. I hate paypal fees. the only redeeming part is watching your auctions go up 300% in the final few seconds :) Your post made me SO GLAD I don't have to ever answer questions about star wars stuff. Ok, gotta run. Keep selling stuff. Just not ours. lol.... :) - Caroline

Kathy said...

Aren't we all?? :) haha

Andrea said...

So I walk in last night and Hannah is sitting Daddy's lap, staring at the TV like she normally only does when Elmo is on. Want to guess what they were watching? Yep, Star Wars. (eye roll)

libby said...

well, i think this should be proof your geeked-out-house is still loved by all these people - at least you have sympathizers, right?! ;)