• Family Reunion*

    Right now I’m sitting in my parent’s living room, curled up in their big arm chair after a very busy day. The Hubster and Teep are across the room watching an old Clint Eastwood film (not my cup of tea), so I thought I would steal a minute here while the wee-bean sleeps peacefully upstairs.

    Every year since before I can remember, my dad’s family has hosted a huge family reunion in Muskoka. I love Muskoka. It is seriously one of the most beautiful places in Ontario, and I love coming here to visit with my family. It’s a weekend of laughter, catching up with my aunts, uncles and cousins, and food.

    Oh my gosh. SO much food.

    Today I had homemade strawberry rhubarb pie, broccoli and cheese soup, world-class potato salad, and about eight billion other things that I “needed” to taste. Including homemade Twix Bars.

    I could actually write an entire post just about the food, but let’s not dwell there. (or I may start eating again. And I’m pretty sure I never, ever need to eat again.)

    (Until tomorrow when we’ll do it all over again. Ha.)

    While we were living in the Great White North, family reunion was one of the few opportunities we had to visit with our southern cousins. As we all sat outside the lodge today, I couldn’t help but smile as I look at us now, some twenty family reunions later. We all “sat” outside and caught up, and by “sat” I mean enjoyed brief bouts of sitting down in between chasing our children who were loving playing with their cousins and being outside with lots of room to run.

    Ruby loved being there. From the minute she was unbuckled from her carseat, she took off running and didn’t stop. There were cousins to meet, lots of places to explore and tons of aunts and uncles to say a quick hi to before running off again. I’m plumb tuckered out after chasing her all day, but I couldn’t help but smile as I watched my beautiful little girl embrace the day.

    And then I smiled again when she embraced her bed without struggle tonight. :)

    After a long, fun-filled day, I think it’s time for this momma to crash so I am ready to do it all again tomorrow!

    (And by “it” I mean eating, obviously. ha)

    Shop Girl Signature

  • Dear Nephew*

    Princess Pea*

    Well, as my nephew still hasn’t made his grand appearance, I thought I’d tell you a little story about Princess Pea while we wait.

    I’m fairly certain of two things:

    1) I have the cutest niece in the world.
    2) She loves me.

    Princess Pea began speaking a few months ago. At first it was just “Mum mum” and “Dad”, but she soon added “More”, “Help” and “kitty” to her expanding vocabulary. Naturally, as soon as we realized she was learning to speak, my entire family began trying to teach her how to say our names. Big Dad succeeded in teaching her how to say “Gumpo”, and I believe she’s even said Doodle’s name once.

    But I am proud to announce that she learned my name first.

    (You can bet I hold that one over allll my siblings heads. haha)

    I wish wish wish I could record the audio so you could hear it–I basically melt every single time she says it. Unfortunately she only says my real name, and hasn’t yet learned to say “Shop Girl” so I can’t . Soon. I promise.

    Peeah called me earlier tonight as Princess Pea was expressing just how much she loves me. My mom has a photo of the Hubster and I on one of her living room end tables, and Princess Pea saw it, pointed and started saying my name over and over. Then she picked up the phone and said, “Hi! (Shop Girl)! (Shop Girl)!”

    I almost died from the cuteness.

    And now, here I wait with a phone in each hand, waiting to get the call that Peeah is in labor. I am so excited to be able to do THIS again:

    Really, is there anything better than being able to hold a beautiful, brand new baby? And let’s be honest here–Peeah and Fireman make some stinkin’ cute kidlets. The above photo was taken just as I met my niece for the first time… and after I stayed up almost alllllll night waiting for her.

    I know. I’ve never looked better than I do right there. The “I-like-to-pretend-that-I-don’t-need-sleep” look looks good on me.


    Dear Nephew,

    Enough of this foolishness. It’s time to come out and play with your aunties.

    And maybe your uncles.

    (But we both know you’ll love your aunties more.)


  • Day 6: Still Alive*

    So, judging by my Facebook and Twitter feeds right now, I think I’m the only person I know who is not watching the Superbowl right now.

    (I’ve actually spent this evening catching up on the American Idol auditions which I bet are a lot more interesting than football.. haha)

    After a whirlwind weekend, we’re home again. Well, sort of. I’m home. The Hubster is off at a man-party celebrating this exciting football game that’s apparently on TV right now.

    And sadly, still no nephew. Peeah is very ready to have this child, but her actually due date isn’t until Tuesday. Her husband thinks she’ll have the baby through the night tonight, but Big Dad has his money on 4pm on Tuesday. Since I’m already back home, I’m hoping for next Friday as that works best for me. haha!

    In other news, I survived.

    Today was day 6 of my new eating regime. It was difficult staying on track while we were away visiting my parents, but I did the best I could. I did eat a little bit bread & pasta yesterday and some potatoes today, but I didn’t feel bad about it. It’s hard when you’re not preparing your own meals, and I did manage to stay away from all my mom’s baking.

    …which was really, really, really difficult. My mom is a master baker. Her chocolate chip cookies are out of this world… and she had double chocolate chip cookies and she made cake this weekend. I didn’t even have a bite. :)

    I’ve actually done pretty well… I’ve definitely been fighting sugar cravings all the way through, but I’m getting better at managing them. Every time I find myself in the kitchen staring at a bag of cookies, I just say “Skinny jeans. Skinny jeans. Skinny jeans.” over and over in my head and I can walk away. Some day I will own a pair and not feel like an upside down triangle in them.

    (I have a little bit of junk in my trunk, if you know what I mean…)

    Aside from the cravings, I feel great. I feel like I have more energy, and after enduring two weeks of looking like a pimply teenage kid, my skin is clear and fab. And then there’s my favourite side effect–by Friday I had already lost 2 lbs.

    So, I’m going to press on. I lasted 10 days the first time I tried it, and I feel more committed this time. For week two I’m going to try and switch from fruit to veggies. I ate a ton of fruit this week to help manage sugar cravings, but I’m supposed to go off most fruit as well… so this week will be transition week. Help me out here–what are your favourite snacking veggies?

    And what are these green monsters everyone is raving about?

    For now, I’m off to unpack and get organized for tomorrow. I’ve already been booked to teach for two days this week, so I’m hoping to get back into some sort of a routine.

    I’ll let you know if there is any baby news… want to jump in on the baby pool? I’m hoping for Friday at 5pm. haha!

  • The Light Switch Story*

    Meet Spart.

    Aside from the Hubster, I am now probably closer to her than I am with most people. We talk (on average) about 4 – 5 times a day. Sometimes we don’t even need complete sentences to communicate–we can often understand each other through random word sequences like”la la!”, “bleep bleep bloop” or loud screaming. Don’t ask. haha

    As close as we are now (cue “Sisters” from White Christmas), we weren’t always that way. In my family there are six children, and Spart and I are smack dab in the middle… and that usually means one of two things: as children, we were either best friends, or frenemies. And even though we are great friends now, we didn’t start out that way. We had some glorious fights over the years, but one stands out above the rest: The Light Switch Story.

    To say Spart and I disagreed often as children would be an understatement. As the younger of the two I often made it my official business to do whatever I could to get under her skin, and she, as the older, used her influence and age to make me feel the repercussions or consequences of it. We were also intensely competitive about everything. And stubborn. Holy toot, us red-headed members of the Tookie Tribe can be as stubborn as mules. Many mules. Many many many mules.

    One night, when I was ten or eleven, my parents went away for an evening leaving us children home at the mercy of our older siblings. I remember Peeah being in charge that night and she invited a few friends over– KT, Cicada and Kelders. The evening itself went smoothly enough, and I remember being excited to stay up past my regular “bed time”. We all watched movies and whatnot together until Peeah decided she was tired and it was time for bed.

    Because we had been watching movies most of the lights had been off aside from two end table lamps and one corner lamp away from the others. Peeah and Cicada (who was sleeping over) turned off the two end table lamps, as as she walked up the stairs, she turned to Spart and I and casually said,

    Peeah: “Whomever is last down here should turn out that light before you come upstairs, ok?”

    Spart and I both turned from Peeah to the corner lamp to the stairs, and then for some unknown reason that to this day I cannot explain, I bolted for the staircase. I didn’t slyly try and get up the stairs without turning off the light, or try and distract her, I just ran and yelled:

    Me: “You have to turn off the light!!! Hahaha!!!”

    I made it up a couple of stairs before I felt a hand clamp around my ankle and tug. She got me down a stair or two before I decided it might be a good idea to wrap my arms through the banister.

    So, picture this: there we were, my arms through the banister, her hands on my ankles, fighting over who should have to turn off the light. She eventually got me back down the stairs and tried to go up herself when I thought it would be a good idea to hit or kick her. As it turned out, that was not a good idea. hahaha! It was one of the only times I can remember where Spart and I actually got into a semi-physical fight. Now, let me clarify–we would never, ever hit each other hard enough to physically hurt each other no matter how upset we were, it was more or less a ploy to annoy the other / distract each other from the issue at hand. I don’t think it ever worked now that I think about it. haha

    It was at least midnight by this point in time, which was rather late for someone my age. And rather than giving up as I became more tired, my stubbornness increased. Yep, I’m cool like that. So rather than walking over to turn out the light we sat on the living room floor debating about whose responsibility it was to turn it off. Our highly mature and well-thought out conversation went something like this:

    Me: “You are older so you should turn it off. I don’t know how.”

    Spart: “Then you should do it now to learn.”

    Me: “I don’t want to.”

    Spart: “Me either. Just do it!”

    Me: “No. You do it.”

    Spart: “No. You do it!”

    Me: “Nope. I don’t have to.”

    Spart: “Then I guess we’ll be down here for a while until you do.”

    …and this went on for another 20 minutes or so.

    By this point we had been downstairs in the living room fighting about who would turn off a lamp for over an hour. Now I’ll bet you’re thinking that to fight like this about a lamp it would have to be reeeeeeeeeeeally far away or some highly complicated fixture that would involve a great deal of physical, mental and emotional exertion. A task so difficult that even the burliest of burly men would fear it.

    …but no. It was a chain lamp. A simple green-shaded, gold-chained lamp that only needed to be unplugged that was less than three feet away. A task that my sleeping (then) 5-year old brother Teep could have done. And as we were about to enter phase three of the lamp war we heard someone begin marching down the stairs. I felt a cold stab of fear thinking it would be the wrath of Peeah who would not hesitate to illuminate what complete idiots we were.

    Instead, to our surprise, it was Cicada marching down the stairs. I waited to hear some rebuke or comment about the foolishness of the situation (which I had not yet realized) but what happened was worse. Rather than rebuking us and telling us to turn off the stupid light and come to bed, she calmly marched across the living room, pulled out the chain, and turned off the light.

    Spart and I sat on the floor in the darkness as Cicada turned and quietly marched back up the stairs. I don’t know if I have even been as humiliated as I was in that moment. After sitting in the dark for a few minutes I slunk up the stairs and into bed, still fearing that I would still somehow feel Spart’s wrath for not actually turning out the light myself.

    I’d love to say that that was a turning point in our relationship and that we became best friends after that…

    …but you know how sisters are. I still did my best to annoy the crap out of her until I was, oh, 20? haha I kid, I kid.

    And just for the record, I still think she should have had to turn out the light. Bleep bleep bloop. :)

    Shop Girl*

  • The Glass Door Incident*

    I sometimes like to think of myself as a swan of sorts.

    However, being a swan now means that I was once an ugly duckling… with a bright future of becoming a swan, of course. I was not one of those “prissy” girls that has cared about her appearance since 6 years of age. In fact, I don’t even think I became aware of what my outer appearance looked like to other people until grade 9 or 10. Which is why I allowed myself to wear these glasses and think that they were cool.*sigh* Was I ever that young?

    They were my first pair. I got them just before the beginning of grade 6 when my aunt caught me squinting at the TV. They survived everything. They were lost. They were banged. They were dinged. And they were even run over by the original Vanimal. They were my tank glasses… and I like to blame them for the following incident.

    My grandparents own a time share at a beautiful 5 star resort in Florida. It’s beautiful… there are 15 pools, 2 lakes, basketball courts, tennis courts, mini-golf–you name it, it’s there. The resort is comprised of a number of organized villas that are also beautiful. Inside there is a master bedroom complete with a jacuzzi, a kitchen with laundry, a spacious living room with leather couches and a big screen TV, other bedrooms, a loft, and a balcony. I have been over 10 – 12 times, but I still am excited to be there each and every time I go.

    One year I was a little more excited than others.

    It was the year that Peeah had invited her first “real” boyfriend (Man-With-Two-First-Names) to come with us, and also my first year with my new cool glasses. The drive from the Great White North to where we stay in Florida is roughly 32 hours if you drive straight through without stopping. As we were in a van with 9 people of course this didn’t happen and the trip took 2 or 3 days. Being a 12 year old girl (who happened to have a crush on her older sister’s boyfriend) I was naturally reeeeeeeeally excited to finally arrive at our beautiful, sunny destination.

    When we entered the city, I was excited. When we drove through the entrance to the resort, I was bouncing. When we exited the Vanimal and walked towards our villa, I was skipping. This was Man-With-Two-First-Names’ first time to the resort with us, and I had decided that I would be his personal tour guide. As we walked into the villa we were joined by several members of our extended family who also come down to enjoy the time share. It’s like a mini-family-reunion of sorts.

    As we filed through the doors into the villa, I immediately scanned the villa for the coolest thing to show him. Living room? Nah. Loft? Nah. Balcony with a great view? YES. After making my way inside, I began skipping/running as fast as I could toward this balcony… lured by the view of sparkling pool water and sunshine. So, I’m run-skipping toward this balcony singing,

    “We’re here! We’re here! We’re…” *BAM*

    I could feel the closed glass door shaking and vibrating as my face slid down toward the floor. As I lay in a heap on the floor those watching burst into laughter (after realizing that I hadn’t broken the door or my face) and my mother rushed to my side to help me up. Still slightly confused about what had happened, my mother turned me to face a giant blue sticker that was stuck on the door with my face print beside it. As my face burned with embarrassment, so did my forehead and I ran to the bathroom to discover a goose egg the size of a golf ball quickly forming on my forehead.

    …when I left the bathroom my siblings were already imitating my skip-run to the door complete with face print, which they continue to do to this day. haha! Needless to say, I didn’t win Man-With-Two-First-Names away from Peeah. *sigh*

    In my defense, the doors were really clean. I blame the glasses.

    Shop Girl*

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