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Mother: Jamie Hamic, 35
Daughter: Madeline Hamic, 9
Mount Holly, North Carolina
Madeline — the eldest of four — is finding that age has its privileges in terms of one-on-one time with mom: She and Jamie "sneak out" early every Saturday to play tennis while the rest of the family snoozes, and they snuggle in bed at night, reading after everyone else has hit the hay. Mutual admiration radiated from their application essays, which revealed far more than that they can share shoes now that their feet are the same size. Jamie wrote, "I wouldn't trade what we have for the world." Said Madeline, "My mother comforts me when I'm sad and talks with me about how to stand up for myself. I wish every girl had a mom like mine."
Style Tip: The secret to Jamie's standout eyes in this photo? False eyelashes, applied individually to the outer corners of her upper lash line. Jamie reveled in the dramatic effect. "I'm a stay-at-home mom to four girls under the age of 10," she said. "Realistically, when would I ever look like this on my own? It's all so exciting."
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Mother: Nicole Whitlock, 40
Daughter: Liberty Netuschil, 12
Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Picture this duo hanging out in Los Angeles, Nicole whizzing around on roller skates and Liberty on her scooter — that's the agenda for a typical day when they're together all summer in Southern California. Though Liberty spends the school year in Idaho, where her father lives, a steady stream of phone calls, text messages, and visits bridges the gap. As does a shared journal they pass back and forth, so little details of their days apart don't get lost in the shuffle. (This is a tradition that goes back to when Nicole was growing up, and she and her mom did the same thing.) The pair also enjoys a passion for rock climbing. "It's a great way to establish trust," says Nicole. "But we have a lot of laughs, too."
Style Tip: Natural beauties Nicole and Liberty are outdoorsy types, so getting ready for their close-up meant glamming it up. Since Liberty's mod-print dress called for an equally fun hairdo, her stylist tried this trendy braid-as-headband look. Nicole gushed, "I just love how it works with her funky dress!"
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Mother: Mary Kay Montroy, 45
Daughter: Emily Montroy, 11
When it was time to play to the camera, Mary Kay brought plenty of experience to the table, having made a living for years as a model, actress, and performer. "I definitely enjoy being in the spotlight," admits Mary Kay. "And Emily just shines." Coming to New York City for the final round of interviews was a thrill for the duo — especially for Emily, who took her first flight. Mom and daughter love to shop, but what cements their bond is a shared love of songwriting. "We write a lot of original country song lyrics," says Mary Kay, who drives Emily to and from school — forgoing bus service — so they can chat and sing. "I'm wild about my daughter's energy," says Mary Kay. "She never walks; she sprints."
Style Tip: The whole crew admired Mary Kay's beautiful blond hair. By day's end our beauty editor was begging her to share the name of her colorist. "Colorist? I do it myself with a box of Revlon ColorSilk Golden Blonde #71," said Mary Kay. Proof positive that drugstore beauty really rocks.
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Mother: Nancy Born, 57
Pensacola Beach, Florida
Daughter: Emrie Foster, 35
Sometimes good can come of difficult circumstances, and this pair is living proof. Emrie was 12 when her parents divorced, and she and Nancy together took on the task of creating a new home life. "The single-mom thing was tough; I'm not going to lie," says Nancy. "Emrie helped tremendously by babysitting her little brother at night while I went back to school to get a degree so I could earn a decent living. Let's just say it was definitely a bonding experience." No wonder that all these years later the two rarely go a day without talking. "We're good together," says Emrie. "She helps me calm down when I need to, and I get her to loosen up. Our relationship just works."
Style Tip: Talk about keeping your eyes on the prize — both Nancy and Emrie have truly gorgeous peepers. Makeup artist Ildiko pointed out that green and purple are complementary colors, so she outlined Emrie's eyes with a rich purple liner and smudged it to perfection for a smoldering look.
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Mother: Beth Fitzgerald, 43
Daughter: Rory Fitzgerald, 8
After eight years as an inseparable pair, Beth and Rory have become a trio — with their new 8-year-old quarter horse, Annie. "We spend endless hours hanging out at the barn, grooming Annie and taking riding lessons. And Rory and I have the most wonderful conversations," says Beth. "I get to see little snippets of what's going on in her mind as she's growing up, and I feel like I know so much more about her now."
Style Tip: Rory — our youngest finalist at age 8 — watched in awe as her mom was made up with trendy, bold red lips and retro-Hollywood-style loose waves. For her part, Rory was treated to a touch of clear lipgloss and a few twists with a curling iron. A fun day? "Yes, pinky swear," she said.
Originally published in the November 29, 2008, issue of Family Circle magazine.