“Do you think other families have a Yellow Thing?” I asked my daughter yesterday morning after an exasperating 2 hour search to locate her invisible plastic retainer…

I think the technical/official name for our “Yellow Thing” is Mail Organizer. Here’s a quick run-down of everything it contains besides mail:

-an eraser
-a Christmas snow globe ink pen
-Many non-holiday-specific ink pens
-20+ paper clips
-A smalł black and white picture of my mother taken in 1944
-A ton of business cards (hint: if we use your business, we’ve saved you to our phones)
-a tube of dried-out super glue
-Screws of various sizes
-Cough drops of various flavors
-A pacifier (probably needs to be sterilized before inserted into baby?)
-enough loose change to pay for a semester at OU
-A brochure for lasik surgery
-A picture of my oldest son, age 3
-A random garage door opener
-Several flash drives undoubtedly carrying Classified State Secrets
-Some folded papers from our local high school delineating procedures we’ve never followed

But, perhaps the most unique thing I fished out of The Yellow Thing was from just a few days ago.  I showed Tommy a wet wad of paper I pulled out of his jeans’ pocket, as I was transferring his laundry from the washer to the dryer.

Man! I hope this paper wasn’t important!”

Peeling the soggy layers apart and examining it forensically, he assurred me it was indeed important.  It was a record of his “Service Hours.”  Without it, he could never prove he’d done any good in the world.  By way of consolation, he said he thought his teacher might give him another.  But added,

Save it though, in case she doesn’t believe me!”

I promptly put it in a ziploc bag and (naturally) placed it in The Yellow Thing…

Our Yellow Thing is an integral and essential part of our family life. Someone in my family is always looking for something, so we would be lost without it. Or rather, without it, we wouldn’t know where to begin to start looking for whatever it is we’ve misplaced.

It sits proudly in a position of prestige on our kitchen counter right as you walk in our door. It’s the first thing you see.  Right by our house phone that hasn’t rung in 6 years.

On the counter by the phone sit several pair of scratched sunglasses, regular prescription glasses my son actually uses to see, spare reading glasses for me. Alongside the eyewear are all of our car keys.

So you clearly get the picture.  This area is the de facto Business Center of our household. A hub of miscellaneous necessities.

All day, every day for years, my children have shouted,

Mom, have you seen my _________?”

To which I invariably yell back,

Check in The Yellow Thing!”

…because that is where I płace all indecipherables that I think could potentially be relevant to someone at some point in the near future. It’s either premature to throw them away, or I can’t identify the object, so it might be important.  Or I’m too lazy to put it in a more suitable place.

So back to our search for the missing retainer….

We did a precursory skim across the surface of The Yellow Thing (afterall, we’ve found retainers for all 5 kids in there before). But after a quick glance, it didn’t turn it up, so we proceeded to look in other possible locations.

As time ticked by and we had seemingly exhausted all reasonable search areas, I would occasionally find myself meandering back to The Yellow Thing, with renewed hope, shifting the contents around more assertively.

Finally, as Gracie was replacing all the cushions on our couch, I said,

There’s really nothing left to do… but…”

In a panicky voice, she quickly tried to intercept me,


Too late!

I had already turned it upside down. Hair ties, batteries, coins and car wash tokens were rolling the length of our kitchen island.

Found it!” she shouted, waving something I couldn’t see triumphantly from across the den.

She had spotted it on the white furry rug under our coffee table.   Perfectly camouflaged  among the shaggy fibers, where it must’ve fallen.

Hence the name Invisalign.

But now I felt compelled to rifle through the gutted, sprawled-out contents of The Yellow Thing in a half-hearted orgazational effort. I tossed a lot, as you might imagine.  But then, feeling somewhat liberated,  I merely stuffed ALL the papers back in there for some other day.

I mean, you never know when I might decide I need LASIK and it’ll be good to have that pamphlet handy.  I also resolved to start giving “Yellow Things” as wedding gifts to newly married young couples.

Obviously, it’s the only way to efficiently run a family.