Monday, February 7, 2011

Hoarder's Heaven

My 11-year-old son has reveled this past week in what I can only describe for him as hoarders’ heaven. No school due to snow/ice + Super Bowl in Dallas + NFL Experience event = Free football cards! And more importantly, the holy grail of his penchant for collecting, FREE AUTOGRAPHS. I’ll begin with this photo to give you an understanding of our obsession with football cards:

This is really from the early days of his collecting, where quantity trumped quality. Now, thanks to the friendly guy at the card shop and the guide book which magically tells you that some cards are worth a lot more than others, we have elevated our standards.

Plus, we have moved from cards to autographs. Lots of autographs. Check out the loot from just this week (all of these have multiple autographs on them):

My son has always been a collector. You don’t want to know how many Hot Wheels I bought, and if you’re looking for a Hardy Boys book, come on over.  One of my son’s most “interesting” collections began after discovering the Nature Exchange at the Dallas Zoo. You can bring in items from nature, exchange them for points, and then use the points you’ve amassed to “buy” other nature items. It’s really very cool.

My son was all about the high ticket items and quickly figured out that rocks and leaves weren’t going to cut it. He watched others trade in their items and discovered that butterflies got you the most bang for your buck. I’m always up for trying something new, so we bought some cheap nets from the Dollar Store and headed to the protected prairie field (who knew?) right near our house.

After our first miserable attempt, we made some adjustments, and we were on fire. We’d put on our jeans, long sleeves, boots and hats – even though it was 100 degrees out. I’d strap on my backpack filled with empty plastic containers, and we’d head out. We had our favorite spots, usually near purple thistles, where we would lay in wait.

We caught so many Monarch butterflies in our first few attempts. My refrigerator was literally full of plastic containers of frozen butterflies (don’t judge me - that’s what I read to do on the Internet). My son joyfully turned in those beautiful butterflies for the high ticket items he wanted most:

Skulls. Raccoon skulls. Deer skulls. Pig skulls. Cow skulls. Even a cow pelvis.


Laura Johnson is a single mom and freelance communicator who lives in East Dallas with her 11-year-old son.

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