The White House Blog: The First Lady
- Posted byon December 9, 2011 at 4:55 PM EDT
Officially, Hanukkah doesn't begin for another 11 days -- but last night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama decided to kick things off a little early with a celebration of the holiday at the White House.
They were joined by Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in attendance, along with Israel's Ambassardor to the United States Michael Oren, the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir, and a large group of faith and community leaders.
Hanukkah, the President said, is "an opportunity to recognize the miracles in our own lives:"
Let’s honor the sacrifices our ancestors made so that we might be here today. Let’s think about those who are spending this holiday far away from home -– including members of our military who guard our freedom around the world. Let’s extend a hand to those who are in need, and allow the value of tikkun olam to guide our work this holiday season.
This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel.
- Posted byon November 30, 2011 at 4:07 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit about the importance of helping our children lead healthier lives by encouraging them to become more active.
The First Lady said that while idea behind the Let’s Move campaign to end childhood obesity has taken off, particularly in terms of making sure kids have access to healthy food, there is still much progress to be made:
Since we launched “Let’s Move,” folks from every sector of society have been stepping up to help our kids lead healthier lives.
Major food manufacturers are cutting sugar, salt and fat from their products. Restaurants are revamping kids’ menus and loading them with healthier, fresher options. Companies like Walgreens, SuperValu, Walmart, Calhoun’s Grocery are committing to build new stores and to sell fresh food in underserved communities all across this country.
Congress passed historic legislation to provide more nutritious school meals to millions of American children. Our schools are growing gardens all over the place. Cities and towns are opening farmers markets. Congregations are holding summer nutrition programs for their kids. Parents are reading those food labels, and they’re rethinking the meals and the snacks that they serve their kids.
So while we still have a long way to go, we have seen so much good progress. We’ve begun to have an impact on how, and what, our kids are eating every single day. And that is so important. It’s so important.
But it’s not enough. There is still more to do. Because we all know that the problem isn’t just what’s happening at meal time or at snack time. It’s also about how our kids are spending the rest of their time each and every day. It’s about how active our kids are.
- Posted byon November 24, 2011 at 9:16 AM EDT
Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise phone call to Jessica Allen, the wife of an Army veteran who was deployed in Afghanistan earlier this year, to thank her and her family for their service and sacrifice. Check out the video their conversation.
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama encourage all Americans to send a message of Thanks From Everywhere in a message to the White House email list. If you didn't get the email, be sure to sign up.
Every Thanksgiving, Barack sits down to call some of our troops and thank them for their service.
When he tells me about these conversations, it always reminds me of how blessed we are to live in a country where men and women will stand up to protect our freedoms and preserve our way of life. And whenever I've had the chance to meet with these heroes and their families, I've always walked away inspired by their courage and in awe of their strength.
I can't think of any better way to spend Thanksgiving than letting our servicemembers know how grateful we are for everything that they do. So this year, we're making it easy to do just that.
We've partnered with the USO to create a program called Thanks From Everywhere. To get involved, simply visit JoiningForces.gov/Thanks and write a quick note that troops and veterans all over the world will be able to see.
- Posted byon November 22, 2011 at 5:07 PM EDT
Some of the biggest names in country music gathered in the East Room at the White House on Monday night for a concert that honored the history and traditions of a uniquely American musical genre. Musicians including Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker paid tribute to many of country music’s most legendary figures through live performances that were enjoyed by President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and numerous administration officials. The event is part of a series called “In Performance at the White House” which has been produced by PBS throughout every administration since its launch in 1978.
Earlier in the day, Lovett, Rucker and Kristofferson joined the First Lady and local schoolchildren in the State Dining Room for a workshop called “The History of Country Music: From Barn Dances to Pop Charts.” Mrs. Obama welcomed the students to “the People’s House” and reminded them of her vow to make sure everyone, not just“senators and diplomats and CEOs who have a chance to come here but … all Americans, especially young people” feels welcome.
The First Lady encouraged the young audience to explore the surroundings, ask questions and take inspiration from the talented and accomplished musicians who were there to tell their stories:
And that is really my biggest hope for all of you, is that as you sit here and you listen to these fine gentlemen, that you figure out how you can turn something that you love into one of those real jobs, right? I mean, think about the things that really drive you and give you passion. And it might not be music. It might be business, it might be technology, it might be teaching or medicine, or anything else. For me it was working with young people that gave me passion. But no matter what sparks your imagination, I want you to take that energy and then follow it. Follow it with every little piece of energy that you have, because whatever you do, it does take work. And that’s the one thing you have to get in your mind, that even when you love something, if you’re going to be good at it and get good enough at it, you have to invest in it.
And I also want you all to imagine yourselves coming back to the White House maybe years from now, sitting up on this stage and hearing from some future First Lady or future President. And I want you to be thinking about telling your story to the next generation of young people. And you have to be able to see yourselves in these places to begin to imagine and to dream and to work towards those dreams.
"Country Music: In Performance at the White House" will air on local PBS stations on Wednesday, November 23 at 8 p.m. ET
- Posted byon November 14, 2011 at 5:17 PM EDT
This weekend, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the President in Hawaii to host the conference of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders.
At a luncheon for APEC spouses, Mrs. Obama discussed why Hawaii is uniquely suited to entertain talks like those held between the 21 nations in attendance:
Hawaii is an incredibly diverse place; it's home to people of all different cultures. And there’s a special spirit here –- a spirit of openness and tolerance. And I have experienced it myself. I feel like this is my home away from home, a place where I feel welcome and open and optimistic. Folks here view their differences as strengths –- not as weaknesses. And people of all different backgrounds live together and work together and seek to learn from each other.
The meal featured produce from the MA'O Organic Farm -- which the First Lady toured over the weekend. Guiding her through the farm, which is also home to a youth leadership program, were high school and college interns.
At the luncheon, the First Lady presented each of the spouses with a personal gift created by Hawaiian artists.
- Posted byon November 10, 2011 at 3:03 PM EDT
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama was at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to talk about what private companies are doing to help military families.
She announced that a range of businesses now plan to hire 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014. She said that the Veterans Jobs Bank -- launched on Monday -- now hosts more than 550,000 job postings from military-friendly employers.
She told the crowd at the Chamber:
This commitment of 100,000 jobs isn’t about making headlines. These wonderful programs don’t just provide a good opportunity for a press conference. All of these efforts are about upholding our sacred duty to our veterans and their families.
Since Joining Forces got off the ground, 16,000 veterans and spouses have already found new positions.
Later today, the Senate is expected to vote on and approve a provision of the American Jobs Act -- which will offer business a $9,600 tax credit for hiring disabled veterans and create additional tax credits for employers who hire veterans who have spent four weeks or more out of work.
- Posted byon November 2, 2011 at 6:38 PM EDT
Watch First Lady Michelle Obama's full remarks here.
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama honored organizations from across the country that are committed to providing enriching arts and humanities programs for young people. These organizations, recipients of the President’s Council on Arts and the Humanities Youth Award, work both in and out of schools to encourage young people to experience every facet of the arts, from dance and theater to media arts and music composition.
Groups being honored include:
- An art center in South Philidelphia that provides free art classes to 2,000 students a year, many of them immigrants
- A summer workshop in Seattle that teaches students about Shakespeare
- A 10-day, five-state “moving classroom experience” that takes students along the path of the Civil Rights in the southern United States
- Posted byon November 2, 2011 at 6:26 PM EDT
First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Royal Castle Child Development Center in New Orleans yesterday, where she led the toddlers in some exercises and read them a book that is an Obama family favorite.
Mrs. Obama was in New Orleans to highlight the importance of building healthy habits at a very young age, a key component of the Let's Move Child Care initiative, which is designed to get child care centers to promote healthy eating and exercise habits. After she finished a round of stretching, jumping and marching in place, the First Lady read two books to the children and their parents. First up was "Lunch" by Denise Fleming, about a mouse that eats vegetables and fruit, followed by "Where the Wild Things Are," the children's classic (beloved by the Obamas) by Maurice Sendak.
- Posted byon October 30, 2011 at 11:16 AM EDT
Watch the White House get a Halloween makeover here.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed area students and the children of military families to the White House for the annual Halloween celebration and trick-or-treating on Saturday night.
The President and First Lady handed out cookies, White House M&M's and dried fruit mix to trick-or-treaters at the North Portico of the White House. Check out these videos for the behind the scenes preparations and watch the main event with the President, Mrs Obama and all the costumed kids.
Watch President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hand out treats to area students and the children of military families here.
The White House and the surrounding grounds were decorated in celebration of Halloween. As the trick-or-treaters made their way across the North Lawn to the North Portico they were entertained by the Marine Band playing Halloween music and spooked by in-costume actors from Washington-area theatres, brought together by theatreWashington.
Check out the White House Halloween recipes below.
The White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookie Recipe
1 lb Sugar 1 tsp Vanilla
2 lbs Butter 1 tsp Salt
3 Eggs 3 lbs All Purpose Flour
Mix the butter and sugar till soft and well beaten. Then add eggs, vanilla, salt and half the flour. Beat on slow speed till mixed, then add the rest of the flour and mix until incorporated.
Push flat onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate overnight. Roll out to one quarter inch thick and cut out cookie shapes with cookie cutter.
Bake at 350F for 14 minutes and then allow to cool.
Make Your Own Dried Fruit Mix
Dried Apples Dried Pineapple
Dried Apricots Dried Papayas
Dried Pears Dried Cherries
Dried Blueberries Banana Chips
Combine ingredients and serve.
Download the recipes and make these treats yourself. (pdf)
- Posted byon October 25, 2011 at 7:25 PM EDT
For too many American families, serving healthy food as part of a regular diet isn’t actually an option. That’s because, in many communities across the country, there is no place to purchase any groceries, much less fresh fruits and vegetables. These neighborhoods are known as food deserts, and in recent years, as economic difficulties caused grocery stores to shut their doors or consolidate locations, they have been proliferating.
Eliminating these food deserts and making sure parents in every part of the country have access to fresh produce and healthy choices is a primary goal of Let’s Move, and today First Lady Michelle Obama was in Chicago where she challenged attendees at the Mayor’s Summit on Food Deserts to look for ways to attract grocery stores and other businesses selling fresh produce to their communities.
Studies have shown that people who live in communities with greater access to supermarkets, they eat more fresh fruits and vegetables – surprise. And that can have a real impact on the health of our families.
I mean, truly, we all grew up in communities with grandmothers who cooked two, three vegetables that you had to eat. There was no ifs, ands or buts about it. But that’s because many of our grandparents, they had community gardens; there was the vegetable man that came around. There were many other resources that allowed them to have access. So it’s not that people don't know or don't want to do the right thing; they just have to have access to the foods that they know will make their families healthier.