We start with leaves.  The leaves are starting to fall from the cherry trees and the walnut tree, so we have plenty of brown leaves in the front garden.  Evidently, a garden full of brown leaves is an invitation to children everywhere.  Boys 1-4 spent about an hour raking all the leaves they could reach.  The smallest boys (who are 7 and 4 years old) looked especially adorable wielding the big heavy rakes.  After a few reminders to keep the tines of the rake on the ground at all times lest someone lose an eye, they were off and raking.  The result was a “giant” pile, perfect for 4 little boys to run and jump into.  They took turns, youngest to oldest, and grinned madly. 

Once they were done jumping, they decided to start Leaf War 2011.  They threw leaves into the air, they threw them at each other, I think someone even got a handful down the back of his shirt.  Even Husband joined in the leaf throwing fun, and he laughed himself hoarse running and jumping and throwing and dodging leaves.  Little boys given a chance to throw things at their father have surprisingly excellent aim.

I ended up spending about thirty minutes picking leaves out of hair and shoelaces and clothes before letting anyone back in the house, and I’m sure our bathtub and shower drains didn’t appreciate the nature that I missed.  I did convince them to sit still for a few pictures, though.  I did let them play with garden tools and throw things at each other, so they were happy to oblige.

Yesterday we made autumn-themed sugar cookies.  I’ve tried a lot of sugar cookie recipes in my time, and I have to say that the Alton Brown sugar cookie/royal icing recipe is the best thing ever.  The cookies aren’t too sweet at all, so you aren’t overwhelmed with sugar once you decorate them.  They’re easy to roll and cut, too. 

We had some regular Halloween shapes (pumpkin, bat, vampire teeth, and coffin), but my favorites were some teeny tiny Wilton autumn cutters.  The cutters aren’t very big at all, only about an inch, but they produce the perfect one-bite cookie.  And they’re freaking adorable.  They’d be perfect for Bento lunches, but Husband still hasn’t given me the green light on box purchase.  (Hmm…maybe that’s a good Yule/Christmas suggestion for people who need ideas…)

So cookies were rolled and cut and baked and cooled, four dozen of them, and it was time to decorate them.  This sounds like a lot of fun, and the children were very, very excited about it.  Until there was still a dozen cookies left to frost, the kids were bored, and I was telling them that they were going to sit there and decorate cookies until we were done!  I actually said “We’re having fun and you’re going to like it!”  Forced fun.  I think I have earned my Parenting Merit Badge.

A note to all moms out there:  If you look closely, you’ll see that the actual decorating of the cookies is being done with cotton swabs.  I find that name-brand Q-tips work best because they don’t fall apart.  It gives the kids something child-sized to hold onto, it’s easy to keep the colors separate, and all you do when you’re done is throw them away.  We use them for so many crafts…I couldn’t tell you with any certainty that Boy 4 has ever even held an actual paintbrush.

By the time the icing was drying (on ALL the cookies), even Husband had grown bored with baking, so he decided to play with my camera.  He’s usually not allowed to take pictures because he takes the idea of “one more, just in case” a little too far.  He has a bad habit of taking no less than 30 pictures of the exact same thing.  You think, dear reader, that I am exaggerating.  Sadly, I wish.  He also holds the distinction of being the only person ever to take a blurry picture with my awesome, many-buttoned, multi-focus, rather spendy camera.

When I took the pictures off the camera this time, there were about 12 different pictures of our living room.  We didn’t especially need pictures of the living room, having taken them when we moved in and arranged our furniture so that our family back home could see what our house looks like.  But apparently Husband felt the need for a dozen more.  Just in case.  Fortunately, duplicates can be removed with the click of a button…I don’t even want to imagine the cost if we were still paying to have film developed.  I can’t complain, though.  He did buy me the awesome camera in question, so he gets lots of bonus points.

So that’s our Autumn fun, so far.  If I can get these allergies to take a break and allow me to breathe again, we’re going to take a couple of day trips.  I think there are still a few cathedrals and castles we haven’t seen yet…Stay tuned!

One more thing:  Last month was Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Make sure you’re making (and keeping!) your yearly pelvic and breast exams.  I’ve made mine.

Now, go feel your boobies!