30 October 2012


The most daunting prospect, by far, of Hurricane Sandy was how to keep Roan from going bonkers with cabin fever.  He needs to be run like a racehorse, so regardless of weather we are usually outside with Roan for 3-5 hours a day.  Roan and I took Gracie on a quick walk Monday morning but we scampered home when we heard the tree branches cracking overhead. Outdoors was definitely out, so I armed myself with indoor projects galore. 

First, we moved all the furniture aside and did some painting.

Our neighbor Claire was a life saver.  She came down and kept him entertained for hours. They created a little art gallery.

To wash off all the paint we gave Roan a bath.  I had a bunch of glowsticks from another project that we threw in the tub and admired in the dark.  Trippy!

Roan is in there somewhere

None of this, however, was really burning off Roan's considerable steam so we employed a favorite game from the Coop School: FREEZE DANCE!

Freeze Dance is awesome and Roan loves it, although he's definitely better at the dancing than the freezing.

We managed to wear him out enough for a nap.  Amazing!  So we decided to make marshmallows.  Messy, but fun.  


Hurricane Sandy has most certainly made it's mark on New York.  We are extremely lucky that our neighborhood remained largely unscathed.

I thought so much about how much more stressful and frightening this sort of thing is when you have a medically fragile or special needs child.  All the people and equipment that help to keep them (and you) stable is suddenly in jeopardy.  I remember this from hurricane Irene last year.

Several hospitals in NYC lost power and dozens of NICU babies and others had to be transported to other hospitals.  While we were all hunkered down in our houses drinking tea and listening to the wind doctors, nurses, and first responders were all out there putting themselves at extraordinary risk with the likelihood that they may not make it home to their own loved ones for days.

I feel so lucky that we live in a place where infrastructure is in place to allow people to care for one another when they are most in need.  I feel so lucky that so many people are brave and diligent enough to make these risky tasks their jobs. THANK YOU!

27 October 2012


I know it's not even Halloween yet, but as Hurricane Sandy bears down on us here in NYC it looks like Wednesday's tick or treating is in jeopardy.  Therefore, I thought I might as well do the costume reveal early.  And... let everyone know that Roan and Gracie won FIRST PRIZE at the Annual Fort Greene Pupkin Halloween Dog Costume Contest!!!!!!  They were an ensemble of characters from the beloved Maurice Sendak book Where the Wild Things Are.

 I have tortured Gracie into ridiculous costumes many times before but she's never been top banana.  Roan has also been a surprisingly good sport about wearing his costume.  Costume day at the Coop School was Friday (cute overload, btw) and they had a talent show with all the kids in their finery.  I told his teachers I would pay anyone $50 who could get him to wear his hat, that's how sure I was that he wouldn't wear it.  To my shock he actually wore it the whole time.

At the Pupkin Roan was acting exactly in character, causing "mischief of one kind and another".  I was so desperate to get him to sit in the boat with his hat on that I actually resorted to giving him a piece of candy (wrapped) that he found on the ground just to placate him.  I hope this isn't the first step into a life out of Toddlers and Tiaras.  

Gracie didn't love wearing the costume (it was almost 70ยบ here) but she seemed to enjoy all the attention and, of course, the free treats.


While in Scotland this summer we made a pilgrimage to Island nan Roan, which is, of course, Roan's namesake.  The island is directly across from the croft, the only barrier between the wee house and the relentless winds of the North Sea.  It's about a mile away, about 700 acres, and currently inhabited by a ratty band of feral sheep.

The history of the island is incredible and mostly filled with unbelievably tough and pious people who fished, tended sheep and hunted seal (Roan means "seal" in gaelic) under fairly brutal conditions.  You can read much more about the island and see photos here.  My favorite little nugget of history is this:

By the beginning of the nineteenth century the only remaining individual was a dwarf, known as Pipeir an Eilean. He had formerly been a piper in the Duke’s regiment. He had two daughters, one of small stature, Betsey, married, Angus Macdonald, the tallest and strongest man in Ceann Tuath. They were joined by five other families to settle on the island and raise their families. 

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.
Island Roan in the distanc

To get there Sam's dad took us across in his boat and then went off fishing while we scrambled up the rock face.  This is also how they used to get sheep from the mainland to the island. A rowboat full of sheep. No thank you.

The settlements are now collapsing skeletons filled with about 3 feet of sheep shit.  You can see more photos of the houses etc on my website .  It's sort of heartbreaking because clearly people worked so hard to build them and care for them once.

We walked around for a while. The wind never ever stops.  There isn't a single tree. It's amazing how enchanting such a desolate place can be. Here's Roan trying to stick a carrot up his nose.

So we perched him on the island's highest point.

I love that Roan has his very own island.  He will always have this place and it will be here for him long after we are gone.

24 October 2012


Just found this going through old emails.  Photo courtesy of Sam.

20 October 2012


Recently the little man who wanted to do nothing but move has been sitting still long enough to do some drawing. Also he's gone from making big frenetic marks to tiny compact scribbles.  I wonder if this has to do with his being in school now.

Roan Murray September 2012
Roan Murray October 2012

15 October 2012


A great day trip from NYC, barring traffic catastrophies, is Storm King, a 500 acre sculpture park about 2 hours drive from Brooklyn.  We took Roan on a spontaneous mission there last weekend to meet up with Ben (Sam's other half at work) and Alli (Ben's other half at home) and their kids Charles and Cecily.  It was a little cold and rainy but nothing's better to air out the lungs and clear the head than wandering around in the country among massive works of art.

The only annoying thing was that several times a slightly jittery employee would run up and tell us that the kids weren't allowed to touch this or that sculpture (some were fine to climb all over, but there was no signage to indicate thusly).  It seemed a little precious for massive works that were subjected to the elements 365 days a year, but whatever. We stuck to the kid friendly work and wandered the hills. Overall, it was a lovely country day.

14 October 2012


I'm not normally a huge fan of the obsession in children's toys with flashing lights and ear splitting noises. However,  on Sam's recent trip to the dentist she gave him this snazzy and hopefully non-seizure inducing toothbrush for Roan.  It's shaped like a crayon and flashes for the length of one toothbrushing session. 

09 October 2012


Continuing the epic multi-blog blog on our trip to Scotland, yet another dream fulfilled for Roan was to ride a pony. He is obsessed with horses - drawing them, looking at pictures, dreaming about them, etc - and is in awe of real ones when we meet them.

Meeting the neighbors

 There is are stables near Torrisdale where you can take rides out on the dunes and they have a pony named Pixie who takes out the beginners.

The owners were absurdly nice and saddled Pixie up and fitted Roan with his very own riding hat and took him for a lap around the grounds.  He was such a natural, so comfortable, not at all afraid and you would think that the baby Jesus himself was riding Pixie for the fuss that we were all making over him.

Torrisdale Stables

Aunt Cicely and Roan

 Here's all the fussing