strawberry picking

my children love- L.O.V.E.- strawberries.  they also (mostly) love being outside.  i, too, love strawberries and being outside.  and i really, really love finding things to do that get my children out of the house and engaged in something that doesn't involve climbing on me or hitting one another.  so it should come as no surprise that i've been checking our local orchard's website twice a week since mid april to look for updates on when the strawberry crop would be ready to pick this year.  finally, they posted that they would be open on memorial day, so i looked at my calendar and chose a date.  i told the kids we were going, and i'm pretty sure my youngest said the word "strawberry" 50 times in under a minute the whole time we were getting ready.  it's not hard to get us amped about new things around here :)

the thing about strawberry picking is that it's equal parts awesomely fun and overwhelmingly stressful.  the big was old enough this year to give him basic instructions and let him loose without constant supervision, which worked to reduce the stress quotient- for about a minute, and then his insecurities got the best of him and he decided he had to ask if every.single.strawberry that he picked was "red and shiny enough".  

then, after adding approximately 13 berries to his quart container, he declared it full and asked to start putting his berries into my container instead.  still, it was easier to handle him than his little brother.  this guy, bless his sweet beautiful heart, made it his mission to pick the tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiniest strawberries growing on every bush.  and, because the berries he chose were so small, and his hands are the preciously chubby, clumsy hands of an almost two year old, by the time each berry made it to the container, they were basically just mushy blobs on stems.

add to that the constant need to remind them which row to pick from (and to watch their feet), my unsolicited appointment to leader of the taste testing prevention squad, and the attempt to actually fill both quart containers with ripe, edible strawberries, and by the time we were done, i was grateful.  

still, even with the hectic-ness of it all, i wouldn't trade that day for the world.  listening to my little chime the word "strawberry" in his raspy little voice every time he plucked a berry made my smile grow bigger.  and my heart was so full as i listened to my big chat in his lively little voice about how strawberries grow and which ones were the best to pick and how much fun he was having.  and of course, there was the few minutes we spent enjoying the fruits of our labors (get it? ha!) before climbing into the car to head home.  strawberries are never sweeter than when they're still sunshine-warm, and little fingers are never as lovely as when they're juice stained and sticky and asking for just one more <3 

here's to starting summer off right :)