Looking like your mom is pretty cool. Just ask 12-year-old Kendall Harris. She and her mom Jennifer Lillard are winners of this year's Pleasanton Weekly Mother-Daughter Lookalike Contest, chosen from among eight finalists by popular vote at www.PleasantonWeekly.com.
"I think that it's pretty fun knowing that I look like my mom, and it's pretty cool that we won," Kendall said.
She said she told her friends at Pleasanton Middle School that they had entered the contest, and they thought it was pretty funny because everyone always tells her that she looks just like her mom.
Mom Jennifer said people often tell her that she and Kendall look alike, especially now that Kendall is older.
"Even strangers come up to us and say, 'You look exactly alike,'" Jennifer said. "People who know us say we look alike because we have the same mannerisms and personality. We look more alike in person."
Jennifer also said that her daughter actually resembles her mother, Cindy Puppione, more than herself, which is confirmed by old photos. Although several people told Jennifer and Kendall that they should enter the Mother-Daughter Lookalike Contest, it was grandma who actually spurred them into action.
"My mom actually sent me the link to enter," Jennifer said with a laugh. "She said, 'Here it is, and here is the picture you should submit.'"
Jennifer said her son Austin, who is 9 and attends Valley View Elementary, resembles her husband Matt, as does their 4-month-old daughter Katelyn.
"With my youngest daughter, I can claim her blue eyes, but that's about it," Jennifer said.
But with Kendall, people will see them at parties and mention the resemblance, Jennifer said.
"We can spot you in a crowd, they tell Kendall," she said. "You can never get away from your mom."
Jennifer grew up in Castro Valley but when it was time to buy a house and raise a family, she and her husband chose Pleasanton, in 2002.
"We moved here for the schools," she said.
Her father, Rich Puppione, worked for the Pleasanton Unified School District for many years and retired in 2007 as senior director of pupil services.
The second-place finishers in the contest are Irina and Christina Mitine. Christina, 19, a 2014 graduate of Foothill High, is a freshman at UC Santa Barbara so texts flew back and forth as mom and daughter decided which photo to use.
"It was my daughter's idea to enter the contest -- she's been asking to do it for as long as I can remember," Irina said. "This year, when she is away from home, we decided to allocate some time and choose the photo."
They share photos on iCloud and had a lot to choose from, Irina said. The one they finally decided on was taken Nov. 11 when the family went to visit Christina in Santa Barbara to celebrate dad Oleg's birthday.
"We had lots of pictures where we look alike but they were taken from further away," Irina said. "That was the only one where you could see our faces."
Oleg and son Anthony, 11, a fifth-grader at Donlon Elementary, were also in on the decision. They all agreed that the mother-daughter eyes were the most obvious feature to distinguish them.
Christina's resemblance to Irina, who grew up in Ukraine, became more pronounced as she grew older.
"When we would go back to Kiev, those neighbors of mine that remembered me when I was little would say there was a definite resemblance," Irina recalled.
The Mitines moved from the USSR to Detroit in 1990, then to California in 1997 when Oleg got a position with NASA.
They looked "high and low" for a home in a community they could identify with, Irina said.
"When we came to downtown Pleasanton, I said, 'This is so homey, this is where I would love to have a home," she recalled. "We truly love it."
By the time Christina was a teenager, her resemblance to Irina became more pronounced, Irina said.
"Then when she was a freshman at Foothill High, I would pick her up after tennis practice and her teammates would say, 'Oh, my gosh, you look so much alike.'"
Christina is an inch shorter than Irina, but Irina figures that with age she will shrink at least an inch.
"She got the green eyes, that's a noticeable resemblance," Irina said. "And she fits into my shoes."
Not only do they resemble each other, but Irina noted, "We are the same in terms of our personalities. We are both caring and treasure family and value honesty.
"I will always be her mom, and she'll always be my little girl," she said.