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OH ALL RIGHT

Ezra the Collector

This post is sponsored by Citrus Lane.

First of all, I would like to establish OUT LOUD that this is a safe space, and more specifically, this is a safe space where we can open up and admit that yeah, our kids are weirdos.

Even more specifically, Ezra is a weirdo. Like kind of a weird-y weird level weirdo.

I don’t know how to describe this one particular behavior he exhibits (and has exhibited for YEARS) without referring to the name of a popular yet distastefully horrifying reality show on A&E, so maybe this picture will give you an idea of what I’m dancing around:

Hey, Ezra! What have you got in your pocketses today? 

Ezra pocketsEzra pockets 2

20 minutes later, I think the pile ended up being 27 tiny Lego bricks, studs, berries, croissants, mugs, chalices, various non-Lego thingamajobs and two lint-backed pumpkin stickers that he got around Halloween.

And every single item is a treasure. His preciousesss. And every single item must be checked and accounted for several times a day, until he forgets about the entire collection completely. Which usually happens right around the time he tosses his five-pocket cargo pants into the laundry hamper. Because by that point, he’s moved on to a collection of slightly larger plastic sundries inside a coin purse, empty tissue box, or Ike’s talking plastic picnic basket that no longer contains any of the plastic picnic items, because Ezra has filled it to the brim with even more tiny Legos, three rubber scoops of play ice cream, a spatula, seven toy cars and a handful of broken crayons that he deliberately fished out of the trash when I wasn’t looking and is now guarding with his very life.

Jason just up and flat-out calls him a hoarder. (Affectionately! I swear. It’s not like we’re finding cat carcasses in his bed. Just all the baby books from Ike’s room, a bunch of Smurf figurines and maybe a Happy Meal box.)

I just think the kid likes…containers. Containers full of things. He’s like a pirate with a very DIY aesthetic and original take on the boring-and-done treasure chest. Gold coins? Whatever. Check out these extra stomp rockets and this roll of packing tape! WE’RE GOING TO BE RICH.

Ezra lego bag

(Ezra, pictured here in Oversized Container Full of Tiny Things & Also Ezra Heaven.)

Over Christmas break, he stumbled across a backpack that I’d bought for him to take on long car trips. I guess he thought I’d thrown it out or something (LIKE I DO WITH BROKEN CRAYONS AND PROBABLY EVERYTHING ELSE HE LOVES), and was so, so happy to see it again that he insisted on wearing it nonstop for three days straight. At the dinner table. While playing outside. To restaurants. To bed.

So I wasn’t too surprised when school started back up, he insisted on carrying the backpack. Now, Ezra does not NEED a backpack at his preschool — in fact, backpacks are explicitly listed as something the children are to leave at home. But Ezra really, REALLY wanted to take that backpack to school, like his big brother.

So I let him take the backpack to school. Because I have better things to do in the morning than get locked in a battle of wills over a backpack with a four year old. Like, say, NOT getting locked in a battle of wills over a backback with a four year old. 

Over time, the backpack went from being empty to…well, becoming yet another one of Ezra’s containers of weird. He added a notebook and some pencils...and then some finger puppets, a sandwich cookie cutter and the instruction booklet from our microwave. 

So I realized we maybe needed to curb the backpack habit, especially since I learned he was refusing to take it off once he got to school. And while his teacher was completely understanding and accommodating of the backpack, he was a little less excited about the daily show-and-tell of broken pencils, Legos, empty DVD cases and talking Elmo phones.

It was right around this time that I agreed to do a sponsored blog post for Citrus Lane, which sends out age-appropriate, monthly curated boxes of eco-friendly baby and kid gear, toys, bath products, you name it. They sent me a couple sample boxes. One for Ezra and one for Ike, IN THEORY. In reality, once I opened the boxes, they were both Ezra's. All his. Because they were...containers. Full of…things. Bath toys! Books! Fruit snacks! Monkey dishware! Lotions and bath soaps and AHHHHHH!!!!

As I watched him paw through the assortment of surprises, I suddenly realized that I should have boxed and wrapped all his Christmas presents into a similar single box o' wonder. 

Among the bonanza of items in our boxes was…a Skip Hop elephant lunch bag. Ezra just about passed out. A small…Ezra-sized…container…with a handle…for carrying…for which to put things inside…lunch-y things…omg

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Now, again: Ezra does not need a lunch bag. He eats a school-provided snack mid-morning, then comes home at noon and eats lunch here.  

But some kids in his class stay all day. And these kids do indeed bring lunch bags/boxes, which they deposit into a classroom fridge each morning as they arrive. And it turns out that more than anything — even more than a backpack full of Monopoly pieces, miniature rubber tires and plastic teacups — Ezra wanted to join them. To be like them. 

He didn't actually care about the actually eating lunch at school part, but just the morning ritual of putting lunchboxes inside the refrigerator. This is what makes you "cool," apparently, in today's modern trend-setting with-it-happening Montessori classroom. He even tried to put his backpack in the fridge on several occasions, and then tried to talk his teacher into letting him at least put some random pieces of toy fruit in there instead.

In other words, this lunch bag from Citrus Lane was the greatest gift that never would have occurred to me to buy for him, but there it is. 

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(So long, Play-Doh carrying case! We are moving. On. Up.)

Ezra still doesn’t stay at school for lunch, but every morning he packs up his lunch bag. He gets real sippy cup and fills it with water and shovels some Cheerios into a baggie. Then he adds two ice packs and a few extra essentials.

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(Essentials like: Toy milk, wooden donut w/back-up icing slab, Lego construction worker, plastic pepperoni slices, felt tomato, some kind of stuffed lettuce pillow thing, sandwich roll and an entire Thanksgiving turkey.)

He takes it to school and puts it in the refrigerator, where it sits untouched (and non-distracting-like) all day. I arrive at noon to collect him and his lunch bag (which before I took these photos had just emerged from a vigorous cleaning after being sent down the playground slide into a mud puddle, because it and Ezra are best pals). Then we go home, where he dutifully unpacks everything and puts it all back in its proper place. 

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He’s never been happier, the goof. 

***

Want your own box of random inspiration and handy essentials for your own little weirdo? Leave a comment between now and next Wednesday and I will select a random winner for a FREE box of awesome from Citrus Lane. 

"BUT I NEVER WIN." Dude, I know! Me neither! But for us, here's a coupon for 50% off your first box — that's only $12.50! TWELVE FIFTY. After that, monthly boxes of baby-, kid- and mom-approved products and toys start at just $21. Head over to citruslane.com and use coupon code AMALAH50 from now until March 6th.

Fine print: Coupon applies to monthly subscriptions only. Offer valid for new customers only. Subscriptions automatically renew to full retail price.

Comments

Christine

Definitely need to check out those boxes. And Ezra is super. :-)

kristin

I totally bought Hen the fox version of that lunch bag last week. He goes nowhere, but we (I) had to have it. Plaid ears! And he needed SOMETHING to go with his hippo backpack.

Thanks for giving me the final push to Citrus Lane - I seriously covet every month's box. All signed up now.

Jen

My middle child is the SAME way! Maybe it is a middle child issue. She has random "collections" of things like game pieces, squinkies, beads, polly pocket accessories, you name it! You have to hide things in the garbage if you want to throw out random plastic items. You will wonder where the Sorry game pieces are, then you will randomly stumble across a pouch of "treasures" and it's OOOOHHHH that is where that went to. Too funny!

Lisa

Ok, OMG! BOTH of my girls do this! The almost 4yo will put everything into a backpack (the kind with a leash, leash detached), or in her baby crib. Her almost 2 year old sister tries to take the stuff from the backpack or crib and put it in the doll stroller or in to the jewelry bag that got left by the door that she found and thought was awesome to put things, all the things, in.

MindyG

How have into heard of this?! Sounds like a fun away to receive new toys and treats, without having to four and shop! Perfect for potty-training rewards: pick from the box!

Lindsey

Hoarding is so much more adorable on a 4 year old!

Amanda P

Ezra is awesome. I can't wait until my own little one is old enough to really show off her weirdness. She's only 9 months now, but I see lots of promise!

Michelle S

I taught a mini hoarder who liked to pocket live slugs and worms. Seriously.
In glad my kid sticks with Legos :)

Brie

Yay for boxes of awesomeness!

Cassadie

I think a donut with backup icing is a very sensible thing to pack for lunch. Oh, and I'd love to win, too!

the bee

That is just the cutest thing ever.
My nephew is on the autism spectrum and he would only wear certain items for the longest time- maybe it is just a 4 yr old thing, who knows? Very cute though- love the bee

Gillian

I have weirdos! They love free stuff. Weirdo love!

Erica

I have an almost-4 year old who is a happy collector too. He'd love to get his own package of stuff!

Shenoah

Omg. So my kid isn't alone in this really weird habit. I was begining to think she was more than just "quirky." Great post!

Kerrin

When I was little I did the same thing. I remember collecting all sorts of tiny things and putting them in different containers. I had pennies from years I thought were "important," broken jewelry, little pieces of paper with scribble on them, barrettes, those miniature fuzzy teddy bears, a Snoopy pin, cool rocks, stickers, all sorts of stuff. I even had/have a mini tea set collection because they are just so cuuuuuuute!! When I think about it now I get equally excited about all of those treasures. In fact, most of those containers and tiny things are still packed away at my parent's house. I would love to go through them again...that's not weird, is it? And for the record I don't have OCD, I am not very tidy, I still like to collect things, and I have no (major) problem throwing stuff away. My husband on the other hand...

Devin

Too funny! My husband does this in bed. There is a little galaxy of "stuff" he has to have as he winds down before going to sleep. I'm constantly having to throw books, pens, cups and electronics at him when they migrate to my side. :) Thanks for the giveaway!

Devin

Too funny! My husband does this in bed, a little galaxy of precious items that I'm constantly flinging at him when they migrate to my side. Thanks for the giveaway!

Shes

My kid too, but she is more of a selective hoarder. It must come from off the (preferably dirty) ground! She finds little plastic toys (and money) all the time. And then she started riding the bus - a bonanza of crap...I mean treasures. Dirty chewed up pencils, pieces broken off of zipper pulls, little pieces of who knows what that will never work with anything she has, and stickers that no longer stick. All lovingly carried around in her backpack and added to daily. Sigh. I try to weed it out when she isn't looking.

Kendra

My daughter does the exact same thing. Her "box" of choice right now is a gift bag my husband got for his birthday, which is right now filled with all her Minnie Mouse Boutique shoes. But just the shoes. Weirdo.

juliew

we love our skiphop lunch bags too.!

Ellen

I never win either, but my boys would love this!

Jenn

My son loves the show Hoarders! He especially loves the fact that one of the shows was actually filmed in our town and we periodically take a field trip to walk past the house and he's so proud to share it with his aunts and uncle! :)Hoarders is appropriate viewing for a 5 year old, isn't it?!

I want a box-of-awesome!!

sara

This is so fun!!!

Ashley

Oh Lord, my 3 year old would LOVE that lunch box! ::heading over to Amazon now...::

Sandy W

I am so happy to know that I am not alone! My six year old is a hoarder. He won't let me throw anything away and will take things out of the garbage if he sees them in there. I have to bury stuff when I throw it away!

Andrea

I am convinced that in addition to the KNOWN hidey holes my youngest child has there must be a super secret one somewhere! In it are: the keys to our shed, an iPod charger, my CAR keys (missing since 2009 even at a year I blamed him), several raisins that were once grapes, and possible Jimmy Hoffa

Allison

That IS an adorable lunch box. And you are not alone - we "affectionately" call my three-almost-four-year-old a hoarder all the time, too. Girlfriend likes bags full of random stuff. And everything, EVERYTHING, is a treasure. I've had to forbid her from opening the trash so she won't know when I've "retired" one of her treasures.

Leah B

This is a great idea, and I am sure my little girl would love the surprise of the box. She also loves putting random junk in bags/boxes/purses and toting them around!

Carrie

I have a 4 year old with the same container issues. I have random boxes and bags around the house filled with little "treasures"

Beth Anne

OMG - it is SOOOO good to see that i'm not the only mother of a little weirdo that collect "treasure". He has done this since he could walk and I have random piles of EVERYTHING all over my apartment. He can spot a bead on the ground from 30 feet away without his glasses (WTF?) It is a constant battle about whether or not he can bring the rusty screw into the house. My weirdo is 6 and still hasn't outgrown it. So good luck - they will probably do this FOREVER.

Jenny

That lunchbox is super cute.

Susanne

Me! I'd love to win!

John C

Youngest was, at one point, accumulating Very Specific Things that had to go to bed with him. It got up to over twenty different items at one point, and we had to dedicate a special box just to Bedtime Stuff.

Caroline

I'd really like to see what this Citrus Lane thing is all about (before committing). Thanks for the chance!

Lori

Ezra really needs a pinterest board. Its like hoarding, but cleaner!

Carole

Fun giveaway! I like boxes of stuff too. I wish there was an adult version where I could get monthly random boxes filled with wine, cheese and chocolate. :-)

Jackie

Ha! I have my own little hoarder who is 3 1/2 but he sees how much he can fit into a plastic toolbox. Just found his shoes in there yesterday.

Ami

Wierdo kids FTW!

Marci

My oldest son and nephews did that. We called them "herders", as in they were herding their precious items around like sheep! This was before hoarders, or I may have been concerned! Love your blog, don't even know how I stumbled upon it, but it is the only one I read consistently. Precious family! Would love a box of Citrus Lane toys.

Cory

I too have a horder. My 2 year old horder keeps everything from post it note flags to spoons in his "box" o stuff. This would be awesome for him.. and a coupon to boot.. you are making it hard for me not to shop today :-)

Tonia

So. Very. Cool. My four-year-old does this, the seven-year-old slightly less. Right now I never know what I'm going to find in any random bag laying around.

pj

My son just likes to leave a path of stuff behind him, but he did go to sleep with his beloved pancake turner last night. I think he'd enjoy this box o'wonder.

mermil

1. This makes me wicked happy.
5. currently in my son's C3PO lunch box, one of, like five "special boxes" in his room: 3 bendable plastic Christmas trees. 1 SpongeBob bookmark. 1 "new Jersey!" pin that appeared in his backpack. I don't know why. Neon green lint which Nicky informs me is from the carpet in his classroom. 1 eraser shaped like Count Chocula. Aaaand one piece of paper upon which is scrawled, engimatically, "bad mood."

Danielle

Ooh, I have my own little hoarder at home. Everything is precious!

Kati

My kid TOTALLY does this. I got super excited last week when she was out of town with Dad and I realized I didn't have to help haul around her menagerie of stuffed animals and bag-o-stuff.

Kate F.

My 2.5-year-old is obsessed with backpacks, lunch boxes, and school, too. September can't come soon enough.

Ashley

that's a good lookin' lunch!

rebecca

Totally need this for my soon to be 7 year old boy. He has ten containers full of awesome in his room. All full.

sgd1227

Yes, mine likes to take MY stuff and put it with HER stuff, so our stuff can all be one big happy family. Fun.

Susan:)

Ha, I was like this as a kid. At one point, I had a little miniature suitcase that I filled with a bunch of little plastic neon toys ( this was 1989) and called it my sweet case! I admit I still have that suitcase and it's still filled with little trinkets that I love, but none of them are neon anymore.

Amanda

My daughter does the same thing. I find bags, totes and backpacks flled with things all over the house.

Gretchen

Ooh! Weirdos in need of goodies here.

michele

In our family we always attributed the collecting/hoarding to the middle child syndrome. Middles are always sharing with the oldest or the youngest & they want THEIR OWN STUFF!

Kristina

Cute idea. My kid is a hoarder too, so he would love this.

Natalie

Your kids are the cutest weirdos on the internet!

liz

Cute, cute, cute! Like Birchbox for mom....but better!

Jessi

Aw. Hoarder babies are so cute.

Em

Sounds great!

Anna

This sounds great. Me please!

Julie W.

I have a 3-yr-old who is also a hoarder. I remember when he first discovered pockets on his pants -- it blew his little mind! Needless to say, he (and his big sis) would love this. :)

Wendy

My daughter loves to fill up purses with a bunch of random stuff. I'm hoping to keep it small and not move up to a backpack.

Julie

Has he ever been to the Container Store? ;)

Hillary

I have never understood these boxes of randomness, but I do like to win things! And my kids like to open boxes!

Beth

Both my daughters are like this. Magazine inserts - the ones I want to rip out and recycle ASAP - are like gold to them. Today my three year old lit up at the thought she got to keep a coupon at the check out that I didn't need. Little scraps of joy put into as many bags and purses as they can find.

Amanda

Too cute. My girls have those lunchboxes too, (the frog and penguin because NOTHING IS CUTER) and let me check real quick- yep. Beads, a My Little Pony, a couple Curious George board books, a Popsicle stick, an old baggie o' pretzels, a photo album, oh and there's my extra inhaler... She's four, all right.

Molly

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Mary

What the heck, somebody has to win!

Mary

What the heck, somebody has to win!

Jen

My 4-year old twins are hoarders too. One time I was trying to convince them to stay home with their dad while I made a quick Target run. I said, unthinkingly, 'but I'm just going to get some storage boxes, no toys, it will be boring.' Instant reply, 'but we llllloooooooovvvvvveeee storage boxes.' And they do.

Laura

Oh, I have one of those boys too. Find bags of random stuff all over the house. He would LOVE this!!! Thanks!

Lisa

My kiddos alwyas have their "treasures". And they know exactly what is in there.....don't ever throw anything away (well not when they are awake at least).

Beth

I won't be at all surprised if our 1 year old heads in that direction. My husband and I were looking for some toy piece the other day and we realized it could be literally anywhere roughly 36" off the ground in our house... this kid loves his drawers, nooks, crannies, etc.
I'm sure he'd love the box o' goodies!

Elena

Very cute! I love the Skip-Hop stuff especially.

Michelle

I love citrus lane! We got boxes for three months, but I had to cancel since its just not in the budget. But I absolutely love the stuff they sent

Sarah

I can only imagine how weird our one year old will be in the near future. For now he likes to walk down the hall "reading" books that are upside down.

Amy

This is adorable. I would love to try a baby box!

Susan

My oldest is just a couple months younger than Ezra and he is obsessed with his "collections" - i.e., stuff that I was about to throw in the recycle bin. He's particularly fond of beer bottle caps and wine corks which are not THAT plentiful around here - it looks really incriminating if you don't realize it has taken him six months to collect an empty peanut butter jar full.

Yesterday's object of desire was the green plastic piece you pull off the milk bottle at the IKEA cafe. I do believe he slept with it...

MichelleR

My soon to be 4 year old daughter is the same way! She collects all sorts of random toys and just stuffs and stuffs and stuffs them into purses, baggies, containers, etc.

Iva

OMG, my three year old is doing the exact same thing with the containers (of preciousness!) and random object hoarding - has been doing that since he was tiny. It's hilarious and exasperating at the same time. Glad we're not alone! :D

Claire

Oh goodness, I can only imagine now ecstatic my 4 year old would be getting a box in the mail! I want to try it!

Amy P

That lunch box is adorable, I'd probably take it everywhere too : )

Meghan Baronowski

The boxes seem cool, I'm totally going to check it out!

brooke

weirdos are the best.

Suzanne

Please allow me to turn my lil nugget of girlie girl into a hoarder of twee eco-friendly awesome sauce! Hugs!

Angie

Oh my this would be pure heaven for the hoarding in my life. Every purse, backpack, lunch box etc... Filled with the essentials like barbie purses and shoes, a bobby pin, assorted lip glosses that roll and twist up a random penny and folded up pieces of paper.

jm

Very cool lunchbox!

Lynsey

I once won a DVD player in high school at a music festival. I think that sucked me dry of any and all luck I was allotted for my lifetime. And yet I try on. I'D LOVE A FREE BOX OF RANDOMNESS!!! :)

Barbara

Would love a box of awesome! I'm sure my two boys would be all over it. :)

Kim Kas

Ooo--my daughter would LOVE getting a package in the mail! Sign me up!

Meredith

You just described my four year old son! Bananas.

We have the mouse, bee and owl Skip Hop lunch kits. They too, are a major hit in this household.

Sarah Jane

Please, me! My kiddos (and especially the 2-1/2 year old boy) would be thrilled by this. He's deep in a pretend-food thing at this point, and he'd be so happy to bring them along everywhere!

Alison

I want that elephant lunch bag for me.

Katie

Please enter me. Looking forward to my little guy turning one so he gets quirky too.

Kerri

My oldest carries random crap around in his pockets all the time too! He most recently put 3 tiny markers that he got as a party favor in there and promptly forgot about it. You can imagine my surprise when my laundry came out practically tie-dyed!

Dawn

We consider our daughter a horder (in the nice way) too! LOL.

Susie

Would love a box :)

Jessica

This post made me giggle. For all the hoarders-in-training out there! We'd love to try Citrus Lane!

Jules

That lunch box is SO cute! My toddler just started an all-day school where lunch isn't provided, so I may have to snag one of those.

Elizabeth

He looks very happy! I hope you'll post about the other things in your Citrus Lane boxes too.

musingsfromme/jill

Sweet post! I too had a collector. My child would always find the container of treasures that she had played with last at friends' houses at our weekly playgroup. It was uncanny how the kid of the house never noticed the little bag or box of treasures until my child came to play.

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