by Julie Fedorchak

The Snoop Sisters with their mom, trying not to squint too much!

The idea was innocent enough – a mother-daughter trip to Minneapolis with a typical line-up of girlish activities: shopping, dining, and shows.

I was 12 at the time, barely in need of a training bra and at the peak of adolescent awkwardness. My four sisters were in very different stages of life. Two were in college. Two were married with young kids. I eagerly anticipated this journey to the city. Our brothers frequently went on hunting trips with dad, but this was our first “girl getaway.”

Mom – a frugal woman — splurged on this trip. She treated us to grilled turkey legs from the Renaissance Festival and tickets to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater. I still have the cartoon caricature mom bought for each of us, capturing our most quirky features and recording forever this momentous occasion.

As it turned out, that trip had real historic significance. It spawned the creation of an important Liffrig family institution: The Snoop Sisters.

The Snoop Sisters – a.k.a. The Snoops — are a rather “elite” bunch. Membership is like the mafia — birth or marriage. If you’re crazy enough to join the family, you’re good enough for the Snoops.

Our original group of six grew to nine once all our brothers married. There’s no such thing as “Snoop Sisters-in-Law.” We’re all sisters. And last summer we officially welcomed 11 second-generation women into Snoop Sisterhood. The initiation, complete with secret handshake and recitation of the Snoop motto, is humbling –as it should be. Good Snoops can have no shame.

The most noteworthy feature of the Snoop Sisters is our unique mission: Your business is our business. The “you” in that “your” is reserved for the men in our family – brothers, husbands and especially nephews. Their business is our favorite business. Nothing brings more pleasure to the heart of a Snoop than meddling into love life of an unsuspecting nephew.

This mission is the key to our longevity. Snooping opens the door to all kinds of silliness – which is pretty much the point of the Snoops. We like to jump on beds and pretend to smoke. Some members have been known to drive around town wearing a clown nose. One of our most popular traditions is the Silly Shower. (See photo of my husband and I for a visual explanation of this weird custom.)

Despite this childish behavior, the Snoops are a fairly handy bunch. We can be florists, caterers, wedding planners, baby whisperers, nurses, funeral arrangers, photographers, counselors and more. After all, hard work is a great way to disguise serious snooping.

We’ve been gathering for 30 years at farms, campsites, family weddings, graduations and crummy North Dakota beaches. In recent years, we’ve started snooping over bottles of wine. This adds a whole new dimension to our gatherings.

One of our retiring members recently bought a condo in Florida. That’s quite an upgrade for us. I suspect it will be a new Snoop hot spot.

Her husband is a pretty good sport too, so we might even let him be an honorary Snoop on special occasions. Only after we get tired of snooping on him though — he’s a great target. Previous Snoop missions revealed he has a secret fondness for watching Baywatch re-runs. That was juicy Snoop intelligence.

Florida will provide a nice new retreat center for our work, but we aren’t very fussy about when or where we gather. Just about any place is a good place to snoop.

That’s the other secret to our success. Escapes are great, but sisterhood doesn’t have to wait for fancy annual trips or all-girl getaways. Some of our best memories have been made driving across town or goofing off in our own living rooms.

Being together and sharing our bizarre sense of humor is all snoops – or any sisters — need.

I can still get by with a training bra, but everything else has changed since the initial gathering of the Snoop Sisters in Minneapolis. Our caricatures would look much different now — quirky in new ways and sweetened by memories of 30 years of snooping.