husband and I finally bit the bullet and decided it's time to get family room furniture - we've been using a futon for 15 years because of moves and finances, etc. Because we had to travel a fair distance to get to a furniture store, we made all the kids come with us. difficult child is home for the weekend so it was the whole crew. We are quite a site in all our glory. Oldest is unintelligible 99% of the time due to his CP and also usually very quiet (again, CP - a combination of diaphragm strength and positioning issues). Lately, he's found his voice. And it's *loud*. Best way to put it in writing is he has a very loud "HEYYYYYY" - I mean, echo off the rafters loud. It always shocks people who are trying very hard not to look at him (the wheelchair effect). They can't help but stare with a vaguely horrified look on their face when he gets vocal, and of course he gets tickled by the attention and just gets louder. Then we have difficult child who is a fashion disaster. Black Tripp pants (remember the elephant bell bottoms from the early 70's?), chains and skulls and these ridiculous striped fingerless gloves that make him look like an escapee from a Dr. Suess story. Latest accessory is, I kid you not, an honest to goodness dog collar complete with leash (now why didn't I think of that when he was 3???). Thankfully I hid my eyeliner but he still had traces under one eye from Friday (can I just call him Spot?). Oh, and must not forget the chipping black nail polish that adorns only one hand. Youngest son who has grown so much this past year that he doesn't know where his body parts are. When he sits, he just kind of oooooozes down in this slumped lump. Daughter who is Ms. Cheerleader deluxe - perky, preppy, a total anomaly in our family. husband and me - aging rapidly, tired, but fairly anonymous, bland, stereotypical Midwest. So in we go to this store that is in a rather affluent 'burb, i.e. we stick out like sore thumbs. We walk around, oldest yells occasionally just for fun, people move over when they see difficult child coming, I'm on a mission to find the furniture because shopping is just slightly more fun to me than a root canal, and the rest are just trying to keep up. We find something I can live with and then husband and I go look for lamps, leaving the kids sitting on the floor sample (they were *very* well behaved, about time) while the salesguy is writing it up. We get back and the salesguy looks at husband and me and asks - "What kind of parents let their kid wear a dog collar?" For just a second there, I had a brief flash of how our crew must look to others but I think the good news is I just don't care anymore. I'm proud of every one of my kids, in spite (or because of) all their little quirks. It turned out to be a really good outing and we had a lot of fun and laughs. Being able to do stuff like this successfully is just so rare - I really treasure it when things go well.