OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
- December 8, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 8, 2013
First Lady Michelle Obama and children of military families participate in a craft project in the State Dining Room during the White House holiday press preview, Dec. 4, 2013. Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses helps children decorate Springerle cookie ornaments. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama previewed the 2013 White House holiday décor to a crowd of military families who were the first of more than 70,000 anticipated visitors this holiday season. Mrs. Obama announced this year’s theme, Gather Around: Stories of the Season, a celebration of the stories and traditions that bring us together this special time of year. “Our goal is for every room and every tree to tell a story about who we are and how we gather around one another to mark the holidays,” she said. The custom of selecting an official holiday theme began in the 1960s when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy created a nutcracker-themed Christmas for her daughter Caroline….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 4, 2013
Source: WH, 12-4-13
First lady Michelle Obama spoke to military families in front of the White House Christmas tree on Wednesday.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 4, 2013
First Lady Michelle Obama presides over the arrival of the Official White House Christmas tree which will spend the holiday adorning the White House Blue Room, Nov. 29, 2013; the First Lady, daughters Malia and Sasha and first pups, Bo and Sunny greeted the tree
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 1, 2013
Source: WH, 7-2-13
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Tuesday to highlight the role of African first ladies, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama sat down together to dish on their husbands and share the frustrations of constant public scrutiny, telling ABC News’ Cokie Roberts that there’s no preparation for the complications of life in the White House.
Michelle Obama said first ladies have “probably the best jobs in the world” because their husbands, “who have to react and respond to crisis on a minute-by-minute basis … come into office with a wonderful, profound agenda, and then they’re faced with the reality. On the other hand, we [first ladies] get to work on what we’re passionate about.”…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 2, 2013
Source: WaPo, 4-16-12
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to welcome Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron to the White House prior to a state dinner. (Susan Walsh – AP) Northwestern University.
“Michelle Obama is a genuine paradox,” said Michel, a professor of African American studies and history at Hine’s lecture, part of a black studies conference at the university last week, argued that the first lady is a “transformative, liberationist” figure — despite her interest in domestic issues and the long list of magazine cover stories focused on topics such as Obama’s approach to motherhood or the importance of healthful eating.
“I caution: Let us not be distracted by a first lady draped in gowns, gracing the covers of women’s magazine’s from ‘Essence’ to ‘Vogue’ or a first lady on her knees planting a White House garden or a first lady jumping double-dutch rope with an array of young girls,” Hine said. “Rather let us appreciate the paradox.”
“What you think you see and know of her may not be all that is important to know about her,” Hine said in an interview after her lecture. “People see her as these labels – black and woman – and they see her acting in domestic ways – focused on home, hearth and family – as if there is no political agenda.”
“She is using the politics of self-development, neighborliness, and that will lead the the future election of just and humane individuals,” Hine said. “The lives you save today will make the changes that you suggest to them in the future.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 16, 2012
Source: WH, 2-13-12
First Lady Michelle Obama holds a roundtable dinner discussion at an Olive Garden restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 9, 2012. Mrs. Obama met with the parents to hear their ideas on how Let’s Move! can continue to support families across the country. In September 2011, Darden, the world’s largest full service restaurant company which owns Olive Garden, made a commitment to improve their kids menus by offering a fruit or vegetable and low-fat milk with every meal, as well as reduce total calories and sodium across their menus. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
Back when we first launched Let’s Move! — a nationwide initiative to end our childhood obesity epidemic — in the back of my mind, I wondered whether it was really possible to make a difference.
I knew how serious this problem is. Nearly one in three of our children are overweight or obese, at risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer that cost our economy billions of dollars each year to treat.
I also knew the conventional wisdom on this issue. There’s the assumption that kids don’t like healthy food, so why try to feed it to them? There’s the belief that healthy food doesn’t sell as well, so companies will never change the products they offer. And there’s the sense that this problem is so big and entrenched that no matter what we do, we’ll never be able to solve it.
But over the past two years, we have seen a new conversation in this country about how we live and eat and how that affects the health and well-being of our kids. Since we launched Let’s Move!, people from every corner of this country who care about our children’s futures have stepped up and proved the conventional wisdom wrong.
Read the entire op-ed from the First Lady at CNN.com
More from the Let’s Move tour:
Michelle Obama: If You Are Doing Great Work, Tell Me About It
Michelle Obama Judges “Top Chef”
On the Road with Let’s Move
Watch: Behind the Scenes on the Let’s Move Tour
Two Years of Healthy Changes for Our Nation’s Kids
View a slideshow from the tour
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 13, 2012
February is Black History Month, and his year’s theme, “Black Women in American Culture and History,” honors African American women and the many roles they’ve played in the shaping of our nation.
And in an interview with More magazine, First Lady Michelle Obama talks candidly about one of the roles that matters most to her, one that has been a part of her life since she was in high school, one that can have a crucial influence in shaping the next generation of American women and one she urges others to embrace: Mentor.
Mrs. Obama discusses the impact mentors have had in her life, and also what being a mentor has meant to her (one of the first people she mentored as a lawyer in Chicago was a fellow graduate of Harvard Law School named Barack Obama: “I made sure that he met the partners that he was working with; I had to take him out to lunch a couple of times” she tells the magazine).
And for the first time, the First Lady discusses a program she launched shortly after moving into the White House, a mentoring program she designed “to open a secret door for others that hadn’t been opened for me,” by pairing disadvantaged girls with some of the powerful women in the land. She tells the magazine:
“I wanted [the students] to experience this notion that if you can walk [through] the doors of the White House once a month and sit down with the first lady and her chief of staff and some other senior officials, and they’re talking to you and you get used to hearing your voice in the space, then it becomes not a big deal.”
And so her program pairs teenage girls with “this wonderful array of women who come from different backgrounds,” she says. “They’re senior leaders in President Obama’s administration, and they all have a story, right? They all have a set of challenges and struggles.” Those stories, Obama believes, are best told in person, over time, creating the kind of enduring bond the social media generation sorely lacks. “Even though our children are connecting in ways we never imagined,” she told a national summit on mentoring not long ago, “you’ve got an entire generation of young people truly in desperate need of a friend. Someone they can trust, an example they can follow.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 2, 2012
Source: WH, 1-25-12
First Lady Michelle Obama joins children for lunch at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., Jan. 25, 2012. Mrs. Obama was joined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity cook Rachael Ray for a Let’s Move! event celebrating the school’s food service employees serving healthy meals that meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today introduced new rules that mean America’s school children will soon be eating healthier lunches in the cafeteria.
The new USDA guidelines, which implement important provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, substantially increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on the menu, while reducing saturated fat, trans fats and sodium, and set calorie limits based on the age of children being served. The standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, and that are a key pillar of Let’s Move, the First Lady’s initiative that is focused on improving child nutrition and reducing childhood obesity.
Speaking at the Parklawn elementary school in Alexandria, VA, Mrs Obama praised parents for their contribution to the movement to improve the food served in schools:
When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home. We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.
After the press conference, the First Lady and Secretary Vilsack joined students for a healthy lunch of turkey tacos, black bean and corn salad and fresh fruit, prepared by celebrity chef Rachael Ray.
Parklawn Elementary School
11:32 A.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you, everyone. Please, sit, rest. This is exciting. It is such a pleasure to be here today. This is an exciting day.
I want to start by thanking Secretary Vilsack, not just for that very kind introduction but for his outstanding work as Secretary of Agriculture. He has been just a major proponent on so many issues that are near and dear to me, and we wouldn’t be here without his efforts and the efforts of his entire agency. So, thank you, sir.
I’d also like to thank Principal Akroyd and Jen Fitzgerald for their terrific work and for hosting us here today at Parklawn Elementary School. Go, Panthers! (Laughter.) I hear you’re the “purring Panthers.” (Laughter.) It’s very, very good — very good. We are so happy to be here and so proud of you all.
And I want to recognize all of the educators, the administrators, the food service workers and the advocates who are here today for everything that you do, every day, on behalf of our kids. This is a great celebration for us all.
And of course, I want to give a special hello to Rachael Ray, who’s a special guest here. I know she’s hard at work getting lunch ready, and I am hungry — (laughter) — so I’m looking forward to it. But she has been a true advocate on this issue for quite some time, and we’re just thrilled that she’s here with us today.
And finally, I want to thank all of the parents who are here today — because, I just want to be clear that we can’t make any mistake about it — this movement to improve the food in our schools is happening in large part because of all of you, the parents. It’s happening because you all stood up. It’s happening because you all spoke out and you asked for something better for our kids.
Because, as parents, we all know that if left to their own devices, many of our kids would eat candy for breakfast, they’d follow it up with a few French fries for lunch and cookies and chips for snacks, and then they’d come home for a big chocolate sundae for dinner, right? (Laughter.) And we know that it is our responsibility, as adults, to make sure they don’t do that. So it’s our responsibility to make sure that they get basic nutrition that they need to stay healthy.
And that’s why so many of us try so very hard to prepare decent meals at home, and to limit how much junk food they get at home, and to ensure that they have a reasonably balanced diet. And when we’re putting forth this kind of effort at home — and many of us are, and it’s difficult to do every single day — it’s always a challenge, particularly with tough economic times and not enough time in the day — but when we’re putting forth these efforts, when we’re doing what we’re supposed to do at home, the last thing we want is to have all these hard efforts, all this hard work undone in the school cafeteria.
When we send our kids to school, we have a right to expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we’re trying to keep from them when they’re at home. We have a right to expect that the food they get at school is the same kind of food that we want to serve at our own kitchen tables.
And let’s be clear, this isn’t just about our kids’ health. Studies have shown that our kids’ eating habits can actually affect their academic performance as well. And I’m sure that comes as no surprise to the educators here today. Anyone who works with kids knows that they need something other than chips and soda in their stomachs if they’re going to focus on math and science, right? Kids can’t be expected to sit still and concentrate when they’re on a sugar high, or when they’re stuffed with salty, greasy food — or when they’re hungry.
And that brings me to another important point. For many kids whose families are struggling, school meals can be their main — or only — source of nutrition for the entire day. So when we serve higher-quality food in our schools, we’re not just fighting childhood obesity; we’re taking the important steps that are needed to fight child hunger as well.
And that’s why so many schools across this country have been working so hard to improve the food that they serve to our kids in school. In fact, there are many schools that have been meeting these new standards for years, long before this legislation was passed. Thousands more have made significant improvements, offering their students a whole array of healthy — and tasty, mind you — new options.
For example, right here at Parklawn and in schools throughout this district, you all are doing some wonderful things, serving baked chicken tenders instead of frying them — small things; replacing white rice with brown rice. You’re offering all kinds of veggie side dishes, everything from succotash to broccoli, exposing kids to a whole array of wonderful tastes and flavors.
And we’re seeing changes like these in schools all across the country, of all sizes — rural, urban and suburban. And I’m not just talking about schools in well-off areas with plenty of resources. I’m talking about schools like F.S. Ervin — it’s an elementary school in Pine Hall [sic], Alabama. Now, Pine Hall [sic] is a little-bitty town, rural town, with a population under 1,000 and an average household income of less than $26,000. But they have made some important changes to their school menu already — things like replacing canned vegetables with fresh or frozen ones, moving in more whole grains, offering plenty of fresh fruit, and even baking their French fries instead of frying them. These are small changes.
And plenty of schools like F.S. Ervin are getting creative in this way. There are schools around the country that are holding taste tests and recipe contests to get kids really involved in the whole change — give kids a competition and they’ll get involved. There are schools that are partnering with farmers and with chefs in their communities, and that’s making a difference. They’re making these small, daily changes — simple things like replacing whole milk with skim milk — changes that add up over time and it can make a real difference in the life of our kids.
And again and again, schools are finding that when they actually offer these healthier options, kids aren’t just willing to try them, they actually like them. That’s the thing, that’s the surprising thing. I’ve been to so many schools across the country where parents see their kids eating fresh vegetables off the vine, kids they say would never try anything, but that’s the beauty of children — they change. They change much easier than we do, and when we give them an opportunity to try something new, they embrace it oftentimes, and they come back for more.
So while budgets are tight right now, there are schools across the country that are showing that it doesn’t take a whole lot of money or resources to give our kids the nutrition they deserve. What it does take, however, is effort. What it does take is imagination. What it does take is a commitment to our children’s futures.
So today, I am asking parents and educators and food service workers across this country to embrace this effort on behalf of our children. Embrace it. Because we all know that we are some of the best role models for our kids. We are the first and best role models. And if kids are like mine, if I’m excited about something, they’re excited about it — right? If we as adults embrace it, the kids will follow suit. They’re looking to us to figure out how to make this happen. So if we get pumped up about this effort, get excited, get creative, the kids will follow suit and they will do it with vigor and vim, and they’ll be out there out front in a way that we would never expect.
So I want to thank you all once again for all that you do every day on behalf of our children. I’m excited to be here. This is a great day, a wonderful accomplishment. And it’s just exciting to be able to highlight the work that’s being done here at Parklawn.
So now, as I mentioned, I’m a little hungry. (Laughter.) I understand that I get to hang out with the kids, have a little lunch. And it’s turkey tacos! Sounds really good. So with that, I want to thank you all for being here, and we’re going to have some lunch.
Thank you all. (Applause.)
11:42 A.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 25, 2012
Source: WH, 12-30-11
Come take a look back at the President’s third year in office as we highlight behind-the-scenes footage and some of our favorite presidential moments. That’s January 1st to December 31st or, “Best of the West (Wing Week).”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 30, 2011
The President and First Lady tape a holiday message in the Roosevelt Room, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 12/16/11
Source: WH, 12-24-11
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offer a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them:
In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama came together to wish the American people a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and thanked our troops, military families, and veterans for their service and sacrifice. President Obama and Michelle Obama encouraged everyone to visit JoiningForces.gov to find ways to give back to our brave men and women in uniform and their families during the holiday season as we work together in the spirit of service.
Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
The White House
December 24, 2011
THE PRESIDENT: Hi everyone. As you gather with family and friends this weekend, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I – and of course Bo – want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
THE FIRST LADY: This is such a wonderful time of year.
It’s a time to honor the story of love and redemption that began 2,000 years ago … a time to see the world through a child’s eyes and rediscover the magic all around us … and a time to give thanks for the gifts that bless us every single day.
This holiday season at the White House, we wanted to show our thanks with a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them.
THE PRESIDENT: For many military families, the best gift this year is a simple one – welcoming a loved one back for the holidays. You see, after nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is over. Our troops are coming home. And across America, military families are being reunited.
So let’s take a moment to give thanks for their service; for their families’ service; for our veterans’ service. And let’s say a prayer for all our troops standing post all over the world, especially our brave men and women in Afghanistan who are serving, even as we speak, in harm’s way to protect the freedoms and security we hold dear.
THE FIRST LADY: Our veterans, troops, and military families sacrifice so much for us.
So this holiday season, let’s make sure that all of them know just how much we appreciate everything they do.
Let’s ask ourselves, “How can I give back? How can my family serve them as well as they’ve served us”
One way you can get started is to visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how you can get involved in your community.
THE PRESIDENT: Giving of ourselves; service to others – that’s what this season is all about. For my family and millions of Americans, that’s what Christmas is all about. It reminds us that part of what it means to love God is to love one another, to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. But that belief is not just at the center of our Christian faith, it’s shared by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. It’s why so many of us, every year, volunteer our time to help those most in need; especially our hungry and our homeless.
So whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, let’s remember the spirit of service that connects us all this season – as Americans. Each of us can do our part to serve our communities and our country, not just today, but every day.
THE FIRST LADY: So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas.
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 24, 2011
This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to deliver hundreds of toys that White House staff donated to Toys for Tots, an annual holiday toy drive organized by the Marines. She thanked volunteers and military families for their hard work and dedication to the 60-year old program.
This is hard work. It takes people who take time out of their own families, time to come, shop, sort toys, make sure things get out. I mean, this doesn’t happen automatically; it happens because people give up time, precious time with their families to make this happen. So this wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers. So I want to extend a very big thank you to all of you, especially all of our troops and all of our military families who have led this effort this year, and who lead it every year.
Mrs. Obama made military families a focus of this year’s White House holiday celebration, and today she thanked them for all they do for our nation–and still finding the time and energy to run programs like Toys for Tots.
At the White House, we’re paying tribute to our military this holiday season. All over the White House there are signs of your strength and your sacrifice and your courage. At the White House, we’re showcasing the stories and the pictures of our fallen heroes. We’re giving guests an opportunity to send a thank-you note to troops overseas. And once again, we collected hundreds of toys from White House staff, which I’ve had the honor of bringing here today.
She also encouraged everyone to do their part, no matter how big or small.
You don’t have to live in the White House. You don’t have to spend a fortune. You don’t have to be an expert in military life to be a part of this effort and to lift families up. You just have to be willing to give just a little bit back to your community and to your country.
For more information:
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling
1:09 P.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Thanks so much. (Applause.) Well, good afternoon, everyone. And thank you, General Osman, for not just that very kind and generous introduction but for all that you do for “Toys for Tots” and for this country.
As he said, this is my third year doing this, and every year, truly, I look forward to coming by and seeing folks come together to make the holidays just a little bit brighter for their neighbors.
This is my last official visit. This is a way to cap off my holiday season. This is my last official visit before I get my kids out of here and we actually spend some time together as a family. And this is a great way for me, personally, to end the season — being with all of you and doing what we can for kids who don’t have the fortune of — the good fortune of having people who can provide a wonderful Christmas.
But it’s also important for people to know what this tradition is and how it started. It’s been going on for more than 60 years, and it started with a simple idea. It was a Marine’s wife who fashioned a handmade doll, and then asked her husband to donate that doll to children in need for the holidays. This was 60 years ago. But that Marine couldn’t find a place to donate the doll, because no such organization existed.
So this couple decided to do something about it. And that’s really what military families do. I’ll share a story with you: This morning, I was laying in bed with Malia, before they were getting ready for school, and she asked me what I was going to do today, and I said I’m doing “Toys for Tots,” and she said, that’s really a great program. And she said, how did it start? And I said, you know, Marines started it. And most people don’t realize that, because “Toys for Tots” has become a national organization, a national brand; so many people adopt it, they forget that this is something that’s done by military families. And Malia said, you know what? It is so impressive that given all military families have to do anyway, that on top of what they do, they’re doing this as well. And I’m like, look, if a 13-year-old can get it and understand that that’s who our military families are, then we all should get it as a country. And it was a very powerful example of just how valuable and just how constant our military families — how selfless they are.
So soon enough, this toy drive turned into the national organization that we now know today as “Toys for Tots.”
So today, we’re here to continue that tradition. And we couldn’t do it without all of the volunteers, all of the donors who work so hard during the holiday season. This is hard work. It takes people who take time out of their own families, time to come, shop, sort toys, make sure things get out. I mean, this doesn’t happen automatically; it happens because people give up time, precious time with their families to make this happen. So this wouldn’t be possible without all of the volunteers. So I want to extend a very big thank you to all of you, especially all of our troops and all of our military families who have led this effort this year, and who lead it every year. You all have given so much to our country, as Malia has recognized, and then you keep giving more to your neighbors and the broader community. And it is truly inspiring.
“Toys for Tots,” my relationship that I’ve had with military families all across the country, folks like you is one of the reasons why Jill Biden and I started “Joining Forces,” which is our major campaign to rally all Americans to honor, recognize, and support our veterans and military families. And we’ve had wonderful success with this program, and it hasn’t been difficult at all. People have been stepping up in ways big and small — businesses making a point to hire veterans and military spouses; local schools partnering to reach out to military kids.
America is behind our families, and a lot of it is because of this kind of work that you do every single day. And it has been a true honor and a gift for me to get to know many of these families and to be able to champion your work to the rest of the country. And “Toys for Tots” is just another one of those examples, and that’s why it’s so important for me to be involved this year, and to make sure that the White House is involved.
And this year is no different. At the White House, we’re paying tribute to our military this holiday season. All over the White House there are signs of your strength and your sacrifice and your courage. At the White House, we’re showcasing the stories and the pictures of our fallen heroes. We’re giving guests an opportunity to send a thank-you note to troops overseas. And once again, we collected hundreds of toys from White House staff, which I’ve had the honor of bringing here today.
We had a 27 percent increase from last year. That’s good, but we can do more. We will be doing more next year. So hopefully we’re doing our part.
But one of the important mottos of “Joining Forces” is that everyone can do something. That’s what Jill and I are saying. You don’t have to live in the White House. You don’t have to spend a fortune. You don’t have to be an expert in military life to be a part of this effort and to lift families up. You just have to be willing to give just a little bit back to your community and to your country. And that’s the spirit that led the Marine and his wife to start “Toys for Tots” all those years ago, and it’s what will make this year’s drive successful once again.
Now before I go and we start getting to work, I just want to remind everyone out there who is watching this event that it is not too late to donate. You can donate through the holiday season, and this year is like no other. The demand increases even as giving increases. There are more and more families that need support and help, so it is not too late. So anybody who is watching this, any of our press who are writing about this, it is still important to nudge our neighbors; to say, give, give, give. We need people to bring in toys like never before.
And I always point out that we always like to get those cute little gifts for the little kids — the stuffed animals, the little dolls, all the fun games. But I always urge people to remember the older children, because these toys are going to families and there are kids from infants all the way into their teen years. And we’re encouraging people to donate clothes, to get those fun games that you might think an average teen would get — think of somebody 11 to 14. Many of you have kids; you know what these kids are into. Those are the kind of toys that oftentimes we’re short on, so I urge people to keep the age spread in mind as they go out and pick up gifts.
And once you do that, you can still go to toysfortots.org to donate or to find a drop-off location. So there is still time. There is still a huge demand. So anybody out there who has an extra toy — even wonderful, homemade gifts can be nice for some of these children. So, again, it doesn’t take much.
But there are families — millions of families who are in need, millions of families who rely on this gift to make their holiday season special for their children, and there are so many of us who are blessed, who have the fortune, the good fortune to be doing well this holiday season. And it’s up to us to dig deep and to make sure we take care of our neighbors out there who may be struggling.
So hopefully people will hear this message and they’ll go out and they’ll make this year’s drive the most successful ever.
I want to congratulate once again the Marines for their hard work. I want to thank all the families once again for all that you do. I hope you all get some rest, you get an opportunity to enjoy your holiday season. We are so grateful and thankful to all of you. God bless you all, and happy holidays.
And now I get to do a little work. I’m going to do some toy sorting. I assume I will get some instructions on what I’m to do, but we’re going to get to work. So, you all, thank you so much. (Applause.)
1:19 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 16, 2011
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, right, sit for a family portrait in the Oval Office, Dec. 11, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The White House photo office today released a new official portrait of the First Family, which was taken by Pete Souza in the Oval Office on Sunday December 11, 2011 after the family returned to the White House after church services. The previous official portrait, below, was taken in the Green Room in 2009 by Annie Leibovitz.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 15, 2011
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama visited patients at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., a tradition that dates back more than 60 years to First Lady Bess Truman. After touring the neonatal intensive care nursery and another unit at the hospital, Mrs. Obama settled in with Santa Claus and First Dog Bo to read T’was the Night Before Christmas to a group of children gathered in the hospital’s atrium.
After story time, the First Lady answered some questions about the Obama family’s Christmas Eve traditions (enjoying a big meal with extended family in Hawaii and waiting for Santa to arrive), her favorite Christmas movie (“It’s a Wonderful Life”), and what she’s getting the President for Christmas (it’s a surprise, of course!).
2:53 P.M. EST
DR. NEWMAN: Now, I’m Kurt Newman. I’m the President and CEO here. And we’re just thrilled to have Mrs. Obama with us. We just had a wonderful tour to see a lot of the babies up in the neonatal intensive care nursery and on the intestinal rehab unit, and we talked to lots of doctors, nurses, patients. So we’re thrilled to have her here today, with Santa Claus and Bo, to read a story about Christmas.
MRS. OBAMA: All right, we ready? Can everybody hear me?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, first of all, how’s everybody doing?
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah? Is it exciting? Christmas is coming. How many people have done their letters to Santa? You got to get on it, you got to get on it. (Laughter.) You got to get your letters done.
All right, I’m going to read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. How many people have heard that? Good, good. So you can help out, where possible, okay? And I’ll try to show some of the pictures as well. I had the honor of reading this with guess who? Kermit the Frog. Me and Kermit, reading it — it was very exciting.
Hey — hey, you, little one — (laughter) — what’s going on? What are you talking — are you scaring her? All right, you guys good? All right.
Okay, we’re going to read. Okay, folks, sit, sit. Are you ready? Okay.
All right, this is the night before Christmas — it’s, like, Christmas Eve. Santa is coming; a lot of excitement.
What do you think he was looking for?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, let’s see. You think it was — what was going on, Santa? We’ll see, we’ll see. All right.
Do we know their names? Do you want to say them with me, if we can?
Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the the wall! Now dash away, dash away, dash away, all!
CHILD: Santa! That looks like you!
MRS. OBAMA: It does look like you.
SANTA: Thank you. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: Yeah, good one, goon one. Now, which reindeer is missing?
MRS. OBAMA: That’s right, where is Rudolph in this story?
SANTA: He comes later.
MRS. OBAMA: He’s later? Later?
He’s coming! He’s coming into your house — (laughter) — with stuff. How exciting! What does he have?
Way to go, Santa. (Laughter.) He cleaned up for you guys. He got rid of the soot.
SANTA: Ho, ho, ho!
MRS. OBAMA: Like a bowl full of jelly. (Laughter.)
Way to go. Way to be on cue, Santa. (Laughter.)
SANTA: Ho, ho, ho!
MRS. OBAMA: (Continues reading.)
He’s busy, putting stuff under the tree. It’s coming. Christmas is coming! It’s so exciting! Oh, my goodness.
He’s got to go to a lot of houses. How do you do it? (Laughter.)
SANTA: — secrets.
MRS. OBAMA: It’s a miracle. No secrets.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle. And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
AUDIENCE: A good night.
MRS. OBAMA: Yay! (Applause.)
That’s a good Christmas song. Okay, so we have time for some questions, my favorite part of this experience. Because the questions are very interesting.
HOSPITAL STAFF PERSON: Boys and girls, do you have some questions for the First Lady?
MRS. OBAMA: We’ve got — I see one little red, beautiful red dress. You feel like telling me your name?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Ellington.
MRS. OBAMA: Ellington. Ooh, beautiful name. What’s your name?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Addison.
MRS. OBAMA: Addison and Ellington. will you speak for the both of you? Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What does your family do on Christmas Eve?
MRS. OBAMA: What does my family do on Christmas Eve? Well, we have a tradition. My husband grew up in Hawaii, right? That’s where his family is And that’s hometown for us. And we’ve gone there every year for 20 years. So every year, we go to Hawaii. And by the time Christmas Eve comes around, we put out the cookies for Santa. We usually have a fun Christmas Eve dinner, and all the kids get around — they’re playing, they’re really excited, and they don’t go to bed right away because they’re too excited, and then we have to make them go to bed. It’s a big hassle. And then we wait for Santa. It’s pretty simple.
What do you guys do on Christmas Eve? What are you going to do on Christmas Eve?
Q On Christmas Eve, we light the tree and –
MRS. OBAMA: Wait for Santa.
Q We light the tree, we eat dinner –
MRS. OBAMA: Eat dinner.
Q — we go to bed. Most of the time my sisters and I are always awake until around 10, just waiting.
MRS. OBAMA: Just waiting, can’t sleep. The anticipation.
Q And most of the time we see my dad going down the hallway. (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: Thanks, Ellington. And Addision. Thanks for the question.
Any other questions? We’ve got people with mics. Oh, here we go. Here’s one over here. What’s your name, sweetie?
MRS. OBAMA: Alex. Hey, Alex. What’s happening?
Q What does your family like to eat on Christmas?
MRS. OBAMA: What do we like to eat on Christmas? Sometimes we have turkey, sometimes we have steak. The girls love –
MRS. OBAMA: Ew? (Laughter.)
MRS. OBAMA: Steak.
MRS. OBAMA: You don’t like steak?
Q We don’t eat any –
MRS. OBAMA: Well, we only have steak. (Laughter.) And we — and our girls love macaroni and cheese.
Q Oh, me, too.
MRS. OBAMA: Yes, that’s big on the menu. Got to have a little macaroni and cheese. But we have lots of vegetables.
Q So do we.
MRS. OBAMA: What kind of vegetables? String beans? We have string beans.
MRS. OBAMA: Carrots. Carrots are good. What other good vegetables?
MRS. OBAMA: Broccoli, that’s our favorite. We have a lot of broccoli. What about you, Addison?
Q — salad.
MRS. OBAMA: Salad. So we have lots of vegetables that go with our food.
Q And spinach.
MRS. OBAMA: And spinach! All right, so you know, with your dinner, having a little meat and having some vegetables, be a good thing. We do it at our house, okay? And then we have dessert. And we have pie. Lots of pie. The President loves pie. (Laughter.) All kinds of pie. Okay?
Q Do you like pie?
MRS. OBAMA: What?
Q Blueberry pie?
MRS. OBAMA: Blueberry pie. What other kind of pies?
Q All of them.
MRS. OBAMA: What?
Q All of them.
MRS. OBAMA: All of them — all of the pies.
MODERATOR: All right, Mrs. Obama, we have one over here for you. Right over here.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, okay.
Q What is your favorite Christmas movie?
MRS. OBAMA: What’s my favorite Christmas movie? Oh, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Yes, that’s my — well, yes, that’s considered a Christmas movie. “It’s a Wonderful Life” — have you seen that movie?
MRS. OBAMA: It’s an old black-and-white movie — yes, I know. It’s just — (laughter.) All right, so that’s the old people’s movie. Let me think of a current move that you’d be familiar with. What’s a good Christmas movie?
Q “The Polar Express?”
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, I love — well, that’s not a movie. I love “Charlie Brown Christmas,” but that’s not a movie. But my favorite holiday movie of all time is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and you should get it because it’s about a man who thinks he’s not useful in the world. And he’s got this beautiful family, and something happens and he wishes that he weren’t there, and a little angel comes down and grants his wish, and he sees what would happen in the world if he wasn’t there. And even though he doesn’t think his life is significant, he sees that the whole town falls apart. And then he wakes up and realizes that he’s got “A Wonderful Life.” My favorite story. (Laughter.) It’s very sad.
HOSPITAL STAFF PERSON: Okay, we have another question.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, I’m sorry. I was getting into that a little too much. Where is the other question? Okay, what’s your name?
MRS. OBAMA: Ebony. Hi. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t sing. If my kids were here, they’d be embarrassed. But they’re not so don’t tell them. (Laughter.)
Q What is your favorite Christmas story?
MRS. OBAMA: My favorite Christmas story? I like “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” That’s a good one. I always read that one. That’s one of my favorites.
Yes. All right, any other questions? Who do we have? All right. Right here. What’s your name?
MRS. OBAMA: Dale?
MRS. OBAMA: Dionne.
Q What do you personally give the President for Christmas?
MRS. OBAMA: What — say that again?
Q What do you give the President for Christmas?
MRS. OBAMA: For Christmas? Well, again, we go through this every year. I’m not going to say because it’s going to be reported in the paper and it won’t be a surprise. (Laughter.) Because he will read it. And he’ll say, Oh, that’s what you’re getting me. So you know I try to get him stuff that he likes to do, sports stuff, clothes. But the truth is, we generally — we always say we’re not going to give each other gifts because the gift is the love that we have for each other. Yes, that’s a good thing. (Applause.) But then he usually gets me something. And them I’m like, we weren’t supposed to get each other stuff. so I got him something but I’m not going to say. All right? That make sense? Last year one of the kids suggested that I get him a hot tub. (Laughter.) Remember that? We didn’t get him a hot tub. (Laughter.)
All right, young lady.
Q What did you ask Santa for this year?
MRS. OBAMA: What did I ask Santa for this year? I haven’t done my ask FOR Santa.
Q You got to get on that!
MRS. OBAMA: I got to get on it. (Laughter.) It’s true. But what I really, really want is for all kids to grow up with the chance to be healthy and happy, and to live a good life, and to get a good education, and to grow up and be anything they want to be. And if every child could have just that simple gift out of life, that would be a wonderful Christmas present for me.
I try to do it for my girls, and I know there are some kids that don’t have the support and the love that they need, and I wish every kid had the same kind of support and love that I know many of you have, because you are fortunate enough to be here and be surrounded by people who care about you. I just want that for all kids all over the world. (Applause.)
All right, we’ve got this young lady in the maroon turtleneck. Yes, you had your hand up.
What’s your name?
MRS. OBAMA: Nice to see you.
Q Do you all have parties — do you have like a Christmas party at the White House?
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, do we. (Laughter.) We have — my staff is — we open the house right — the day after Thanksgiving the big tree comes, and volunteers come from all over the country and they decorate the White House. And they decorate for about four days. We’ve got tons of Christmas trees, beautiful decorations. This year we’ve done a tree for Gold Star families, which are families who have lost a loved one who is serving in the military. And the big tree is in dedication to Blue Star families, and those are families who have a loved one serving in the military.
So it was a very special time decorating, because a lot of these families came to help decorate. Once they finish, we open up the house, and we’ll have over 85,000 people who will come through the White House. and we have holiday parties. We have almost two every day for two weeks. So, yes, we have holiday parties. And the President and I are at every holiday party, and we shake almost every hand or take a picture, and we usually do them twice a day. So, yes, we have a few people that come over.
Q Thank you.
MRS. OBAMA: What’s your name?
MRS. OBAMA: Camera?
MRS. OBAMA: I’m like, Camera? (Laughter.) Cameron — hey, Cameron.
Q I was just wondering, how does Santa know which chimney to go down?
MRS. OBAMA: Well, that’s — would you like to handle that one, Santa?
SANTA: I always go for the biggest one. The bigger –
Q The biggest?
SANTA: — the easier is to get in there.
Q Oh, well, you’re pretty skinny around now, man. (Laughter.)
SANTA: Yes. I still have a few more weeks to get –
MRS. OBAMA: He’s got time.
SANTA: I got time.
MRS. OBAMA: You can do a lot in a couple of weeks. (Laughter.)
HOSPITAL STAFF PERSON: Great. Well, thanks for those wonderful questions.
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, thank you, guys.
HOSPITAL STAFF PERSON: Mrs. Obama, on behalf of Children’s National, thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to be with us. (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my pleasure. My pleasure. (Applause.)
END 3:11 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 12, 2011