When I was much younger and spent my summers visiting family in Mississippi, I used to wish and dream that I'd marry a handsome prince with an enormous royal family. My own family was very small, and I use the term "was," as almost all of them are long departed. So I'd wish and hope for a big brood of my own one day, specifically a daughter or two with whom I could pass down my love of all things girly. God made this come true (except the royalty part!), and living in my husband's hometown, surrounded by most of his immediate family, has been such a blessing. Libbey in particular looks up to her "big girl" cousin, Emma, who is 10 years old.
I first met Emma when she was a baby and her cousin Scotty and I were dating. When we married she was only 2 years old and unable to make the trip to Georgia, so I missed her presence enormously. (Big brother, John David, was our ring bearer, though!)
Libbey first met her "big girl" cousin when she was a mere 4 weeks old, and I still remember this bit of preciousness as if it were yesterday.
The follwing year we'd returned to southwest Virgina and I decided Libbey would be socuteIcouldjusteatherup as a lil' leopard for her second Halloween. We met at GeGe's house that evening, and to our surprise Emma was dressed as a feisty cat, too! (Libbey, age 21 months, Emma, 5 1/2)
Independence Day 2004 found us swimming the afternoon away in Pat and Stephanie's pool. (Stephanie is yet another "big girl" cousin--she's Daddy's age, though!) We arrived at the Potter home and discovered Emma & Libbey had the exact same swimsuits from Gymboree. All this really means is that Aunt Lisa and I have fabulous taste!
I have no idea why, but we never thought to photograph the girls together during Libbey's first two dance recitals. Last year I found a clue (rare for me, I know!) and snapped away. Those Litton girls are certainly photogenic.
This year I held onto the clue discovered last year and took several shots of the girls together. Watching them grow, in age, stature, and in their friendship, has been sheer joy. Emma performed in her 7th recital, while Libbey reached "pro" status with her 4th.
Last night we embarked on a new journey...Emma slept over for the very first time. What do a 6 year old and a 10 year old "big girl" do on their late night together? Seriously? Do you have to ask? They watched High School Musical 2. And sang along to every word of every song, while munching on two bowls of popcorn. Following the movie they had big plans, because who wants to go to bed early? They painted suncatchers, comparing each other's artistic abilities. What's a little arts and crafts at 11 pm, I ask you? When it came time for eventual sleep, The Child With Minor Bedtime Anxiety tells her father, "We can put ourselves to bed, Daddy." Oh...I see...all it takes to avoid 20 questions and repeated requests to "check on me in 10 minutes, please!" is her "big girl" cousin's presence on the other side of the bed. Emma--please spend every night with us, honey.
I am taking pictures with my heart of this special time, because I know in the near future Emma will truly be a "big girl," and their common bond of Justice clothing, American Girl dolls, Vera Bradley bags, HSM 2 & Hannah Montana, and just playting together will come to an end. Emma will be a teenager in a few years, and while I know without a doubt in my heart she will always make a point to spend time with Libbey (and Caroline, of course!), she will also start living life as a young adult . And Libbey will still be a little girl for a few more years. Libbey's 6th birthday--the bowling twosome!
So for now, I will let them have sleepovers whenever they want. They can paint suncatchers 'til the sun comes up and this Mama will forgo sleep in order to make that happen. They can turn into mermaids in the pool, play with each other's hair, and Emma can allow Libbey to talk her head off, as per usual. I'm thankful for our Miss Emma Katherine. I'm grateful we live less than 5 minutes from her front door. I know her "little girl" cousins, especially Libbey, feel the same. (Emma's 10th birthday, with Caroline.) Can't you feel this love?