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Tracy Miller

Care Packages

Posted by Tracy Miller Sep 5, 2013

When I was around 10 years old mom packed me off to camp.  It was the longest time I had spent away from my family.  One of my fondest memories, aside from my amazing role as Cindy the Disco Queen (80s version of Cinderella), was the care packages my grandmother sent me. We ate pretty healthy in camp, but grandma would smuggle in cupcakes for my whole cabin of girls.  I can picture in my mind the wooden closet, with a curtain for a door, hiding my contraband of sweet goodness.  The sprinkled treats went fast so refrigeration was not an issue, but getting them past the front gate was.  Luckily grandma was a lovely old silver-hair alumni of Camp Ayapo, so she could talk her way in even with a large box under arm. 

But, I'm getting the questions now from my son's grandmas "what should we send him?"  It's just like the birthday present question, you don't want to give them your best ideas.  You want to save those for yourself.  My real concern is making my care packages memorable, like grandma's forbidden confections.  I'm thinking about something that will always appear in them, like a funny pencil.  Or maybe mini milestones, "congratulations you completed your first month" here's a post-it notepad. Wish me luck! Wish us all luck!

Does anyone miss Jerry Lewis?  I definitely grew up with the Labor Day telethon. I eventually found other things to do on Labor Day, or maybe I had 300 more TV channels to select from.  But, I recently learned that the disability community found the telethon very offensive because the children were portrayed as someone to be pitied. It seemed horrifying, but very true.

Another recently learned bit of information was; disability is a club anyone can join at anytime, so I better pay attention.  I'm so proud of my son for deciding on Biomedical Engineering as a course of study and future career. This will be an even more vital profession as more people live full lives with disabilities enhanced by biomedical engineered devices.  The number of people with disabilities is increasing.  How can this be?  Medical advances, healthy lifestyles? Well, we are living longer and we can survive more injury and disease with the advancements of science. This is never more true than in our military.

Finally, I'm learning about hidden vs visible disability.  Everyone my son meets at MSOE may or may not have a disability and he may never know.  But I hope he gets to know everyone as a person first.  I hope everyone gets to know him as a person and that he makes lifelong friends. 

If the higher education of people with disabilities is something that interests you, I'm part of the group developing and soon implementing a free Massive Open Online Course called Perspectives on Disability.  It's really enlightening.  Register at http://j.mp/niumooc13


Tracy Miller

The Choices We Make

Posted by Tracy Miller Sep 2, 2013


These are the books my MSOE Freshman son decided to bring on to college.  I didn't have any influence on the selection of these books.  I didn't notice them until I was unpacking on move-in day.  They were his choices.  Choosing MSOE was also his choice.   At his high school graduation party, he told many people he was excited because he was going to a school he selected.  It's one of our children's first "big decisions," although parents have a big part in the selection process (especially financially.) 


So back to the books, Anne Rice's Memnoch the Devil, Stewart O'Nan's The Circus Fire, and Calculus.  Memnoch: Drew and I often read books at the same time (from when he was little) and compared notes, Harry Potter, Last Olympians, Redwall Abby Series. Also, we have had many discussions on Lestat the Vampire and his many misadventures.   The Circus Fire: it's an account of the 1945 circus fire in Hartford, CT.  My father, aunt and grandparents were in that fire.  They all survived, but there was a time when my grandmother was on the "dead" list (turned out to be another woman who fell on her purse.)  So I guess he's going to finally read it.  He really likes history and it has some great information in there, although it will never gain the popularity of an Anne Rice book.  I'm told there is artifacts from the fire at the circus museum in Baraboo, WI, what an interesting connection.  Calculus: well that's his father, he's the engineer.  I guess Drew will bone up on a little light calculus reading.  Well it will be a big part of this life and he chose it, right? 


MSOE was Drew's choice.  I'm in education and I created a rubric for him to evaluate his final three choices for colleges.  MSOE had the highest point value.  But, it wasn't until he went back up for a visit and talked with more people, that he made his decision.  His choice!  But somehow, with those books on his shelf, I feel like he chose to bring a little of his parents with him.  I was the president of the parent group when he was in elementary school and my husband was the cub scout pack leader, I was his volunteer boss, and dad was his soccer coach, we have always inserted ourselves into his world.  Well I guess we need to back off.  God it's going to be hard. 


Oh, and I wish there was a nanny cam in those books, but alas  . . .

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