A federal study released this week revealed a 43 percent drop in obesity rates for children ages two to five. First Lady Michelle Obama has been at the forefront of the childhood obesity challenge, and early on in her tenure as first lady initiated the Let's Move campaign. Research shows that obesity in young children often carries over into adulthood and with it higher risks for health-related problems. The study included a statement from Mrs. Obama: "I am thrilled at the progress we've made over the past few years in obesity rates among our youngest Americans".
The White House is expected to announce updated nutrition labeling later this week.
February 22 is regarded by many as the birth date of George Washington although Washington adhered to the old style British calendar at use at the time in the colonies and celebrated his birthday on February 11. The man that was often referred to as "the father of our country" during his lifetime and since, and considered to possess strong moral character, had trouble with his mother. Mary Washington was a demanding sort and thwarted his efforts to apply for a commission in the British Navy. Mary Washington was not pleased when George went off to command the Continental Army. She thought he should stay home and take care of her even though he was already married. When George Washington was elected president she refused to go to his inauguration. Mary Washington even went so far as to petition the Virginia House of Burgesses to give her a financial grant. When Washington heard what she had done he said: " I am viewed as a delinquent, and am considered by the world as an unjust and un-dutiful son." Virginia, the state of George Washington's birth, honored his mother by naming a university after her.
Did you know that the White House has a bowling alley? In fact, it is one of the earliest recreation facilities in the White House. The one-lane bowling alley is in the basement of the residence and was a birthday gift in 1947 to President Truman who confessed he did not care for bowling himself but allowed staff to start a league. President Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon were avid bowlers but President Obama said in the past that he wanted to remove the bowling alley and replace it with a basketball court, but the bowling alley remains. President Obama has been using one end of the White House tennis court when he wants to shoot some hoops.
Monday, February 17, is Presidents' Day and the first president's home, Mount Vernon, is offering free admission in honor of George Washington. Visitors to Mount Vernon will see a beautiful estate with a grand view overlooking the Potomac River, but for George Washington winning the Revolutionary War and securing the American colonies freedom from England did little for his personal fortunes. General Washington used some of his own resources during the war and refused to be paid for his services to his country. He came home to a plantation that was badly in need of repair and, what is more, most of the 30,000 acres he had surveyed and owned in the Ohio Valley were being used by squatters and other parcels had been taken over by Native Americans.
Almost from the beginning of the republic, First Ladies of the land have not been able to escape one question: What was she wearing? First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt famously remarked that "You feel like you are no longer clothing yourself; you are dressing a public monument. Last night as the President and the First Lady welcomed President Hollande of France to the White House for a State Dinner in his honor the Washington Post reports that Michelle Obama had ""America, draped elegantly around her shoulders".
Valentine's Day is not far off and as it approaches stores become virtual flower shops and we are bombarded with messages about love and romance although not everyone wants to think of love lost or, as Lady Gaga reminds us, a "bad romance". Even presidents of the United States are not immune to things going awry. One quality that they all seem to share is persistence, however. Michelle Obama thought it inappropriate to date Barack Obama when they both worked at the law firm where she was assigned as his mentor but we all know how that turned out. The first time Bill Clinton asked Hillary to marry him she said no. Richard Nixon was immediately smitten with Pat Ryan but they dated two years before she agreed to marry him and it the meantime he even drove her to dates with other men. Lyndon Johnson was in a hurry to marry Lady Bird. She said she was "intrigued" but thought him too "impulsive". Their courtship lasted ten weeks before she said "I do". Harry Truman hung in there the longest. He met Bess Wallace when he was six and she was five. They married 30 years later.
President Hollande of France is accompanying President Obama tomorrow on a trip to another president's home, Thomas Jeffersons's beloved Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. You can see what they will see. Take your own tour of the house and gardens as well as the rooms and furnishings the presidents will visit.
Selections from the White House china collection are on display at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia through March 2, 2014. The exhibit includes pieces from the Clinton, Adams, Benjamin Harrison and Rutherford Hayes collections. First Lady Caroline Harrison is credited with finding and bringing together various pieces that were scattered all over and dedicating one room in the White House, now known as the China Room (photo at left), for their preservation. First Lady Caroline Harrison also taught classes in china painting which were very popular during her tenure (1889-1892) in the White House. The photo on the right shows off one piece of china from the Rutherford Hayes collection. The Hayes collection garnered quite a bit of controversy at the time because the china was thought not to be "traditional" enough.
What to do when one of the iconic symbols of the nation is crumbling? Try to fix it, of course. A $59 million project is underway to repair the cracks and leaks in the Capitol Dome. The original dome was built in 1824 out of wood and covered with copper but was replaced in 1856 with one that was fireproof and made of cast iron. Now age and weather have taken its toll. While the restoration project is ongoing the Capitol, just like the Washington Monument, is covered in scaffolding. The Washington Monument is undergoing repairs due to sustained damage during the 2011 earthquake.