December 13
At my best, I try to be a voice for children. At my very best, I help them find their own voice. ************************************ We don't accomplish anything in this world alone...and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something. - Sandra Day O'Connor * ************************************


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JUNE 15, 2009 1:11PM

Michelle Obama and Me: Our Strikingly Similar Lifestyles

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Since well before her husband was sworn in, Michelle Obama has been an object of fascination, criticism, and respect.  She is everywhere: from the cover of Oprah to an extensive interview with Brian Williams, her life has been over exposed and analyzed.  Over the last few months, I have started to feel a kinship with Michelle, that there was something similar about our lives – she as First Lady of our country, me as first lady of the tiny kingdom of our summer camp.


Now, let me start by saying that there are some notable non-similarities.  As my avatar will reflect, I am of the standard European mutt descent. Michelle is not.  My six year old kindly told me I have those “wobbly arms that old people get, no offense, mom.”  Michele does not.   I have an MFA in painting.  Michelle made a more practical choice in higher education.  And, obviously, a few more people care about what she does than will ever even know I exist.  But still, there seems to me to be more similarities than differences.


From the minute Michelle became the “First Lady in Waiting”, she put her personal stamp on fashion and caused all kinds of media scrutiny about her style choices.  She unveiled her now-infamous JCrew outfit on the Tonight Show where she proudly told the audience that the whole ensemble cost $340.




I also have to think hard about my personal style.  I need to project a “you can trust me with your child, you can hug me if you’re homesick and miss your mom, I am still cool enough to be fun” kind of style. After 3 years as the first lady of camp, I have come up with the following collection of acceptable outfits:


                  my clothes  


I found it funny that both Michelle and I decided to put in kitchen gardens the same year.  I told you we had a lot in common! Breaking ground on the gardens is a big deal and so both Michelle and I documented the occasion. 

Here is Michelle with the local school children at the White House Kitchen Garden ground breaking ceremony:



                   flotus garden  


And this is my daughter and me at our Camp Kitchen Garden ground breaking ceremony. (We had to take turns in the photos because the other two kids decided playing dodge ball would be more fun):



                    alice garden                                           sod  


Michelle and I are both lucky enough to have a staff that prepares our meals three times a day.  We are both concerned with serving healthier foods and making sure our children are exposed to a variety of food choices. 

The White House website posted this menu from the Governor's Dinner at the White House:

Chesapeake Crab Agnolottis with Roasted Sunchokes
Wine pairing: Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (California)

Wagyu Beef and Nantucket Scallops with Glazed Red Carrots, Portobello Mushroom and Creamed Spinach
Wine pairing: Archery
Summit Pinot Noir "Estate" 2004 (Oregon)

Winter Citrus Salad with Pistachios and Lemon Honey Vinaigrette

Huckleberry Cobbler with Caramel Ice Cream
Wine pairing: Black Star Famrs "A Capella" Riesling Ice Wine 2007 (


The whiteboard outside the boy’s camp kitchen posted this menu from the State Championship Football Team’s training camp dinner:

Salad bar

With a pairing of ice-free tap water (ice is bad for the environment, the budget, and overheated youth) 

Garlic toast


Meatballs and Sauce

With a pairing of milk or water (notice we have eliminated the very unhealthy and toxic bug juice) 

Brownies with swirl of whipped cream and fresh blueberry garnish (notice the inclusion of fresh fruit as a dessert) 


We both have the option of eating our meals in expansive dining rooms.

This is one of Michelle’s options.



                  white house state dining room



This is mine.



                camp dining   


Michelle and I both live very public lives and look forward to retreating to our private residence at the end of a long day.  There, we can kick off our heels/sandals and be parents and spouses out of the spotlight. The Obama’s private living quarters are located in this White House:




My family’s private summer residence is located in this white house (also known as the camp director’s house).



             camp house



The Obama’s have Bo, the well-trained and sociable Portuguese Water Dog: a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy and his wife.  Bo spends much of his day roaming the White House, sleeping at the feet of the President, exercising on the south lawn.






We have Frosty, the usually well-behaved but sometimes a little too jumpy Lab/Australian Cattle Dog: a gift from the Maple View Animal Rescue.  For security reasons, Frosty has limited access to camp: basically, he isn’t allowed anywhere that there are campers. This means he spends his time roaming the white house grounds or eating dead fish on his private beach.







Really, I could go on and on, but honestly, I respond to Michelle because we are both role models for the children and young adults whose lives cross our paths. Other people watch the way we parent our children, the way we live our lives, the things we value, and sometimes they make personal choices based on those experiences. In the end, I think what connects me most to Michelle Obama, is that we are both mothers who care deeply about our own children but also feel passionate about the well-being of all children.  Neither of us can be satisfied with a handshake for the quiet child who stands in the crowd when we know we can give so much more.


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yikes, I forgot to say...

All Michelle Obama and other White House photos courtesy of unless otherwise noted. Thank you.
I would still take your dining room over Michelle's any day of the week! (For that matter, Frosty's life sounds pretty good.)

What a great comparison/contrast - and I am thankful that both of you amazing women exist. Gives me hope for the next generation. Thanks for sharing this - fun, well-written, and true.

Also, looking at that picture of the groundbreaking for your garden, DO be good to your back, mamoore! (Use your legs, not your back . . . )
I KNEW this had to be an EP when I read it. Awesome, and congrats!
You both have a white house and a black dog but you're probably a much better writer.
You've got waterfront property. You win.
I like you so much better than her ...
This is wonderful and funny and so worthy of its cover :)
Excellent, start to finish. Reminded me of my camp days too. Arms, schmarms, you're probably living a better life, all things considered. And I'd agree you're definitely a better writer.
It's amazing, the similarities. Actually, you both seem to have long legs. Anyway, I'm an apartment dweller thinking of making a contained garden this summer. Cute post, great pics of the white house and camp.
Owl -Thanks for the lifting tips -what I really could have used is some construction advice before we built the chicken wire fence! I'll have to share photos someday of the completed project. And honestly, I don't think I'd trade in anything I have, except for maybe a few of those menu selections.

Lea - Wow, thanks. I am not sure I have read anything Michelle Obama has written directly but I would have to believe, with her background, she can put some words together pretty well.

Ablonde - In my mind, our waterfront beats almost anything!

1IM- I have a lounge chair waiting for you on the beach!

Sally- I don't know, I am feeling good about myself these days but six year olds are not prone to hold back on their personal truths and that remark by my daughter about my arms has gotten me contemplating some push-ups. Love to hear about your camp stories.

L&P - Everytime Frosty goes for a romp in the waves it makes my heart happy to know we have given him such a good life.
Your camp's dining room rocks! And i dare say Frosty is way cool!
latethink- Yes, I thought of listing tallness as one of our similarities but the list was getting long. I am keeping my fingers crossed that our garden grows and I will do the same for yours!

MM- I should have taken a close up of the dining hall ceiling, you can kind of see it it the photo - it is an architectural wonder, they would never take the time to build something like that at a camp these days. And thanks for showing Frosty some love - he is a wonder dog!
You're totally First Lady material Ms mamoore
Oh, I love this post. And it looks like dinner's a lot more fun in your dining room than in Michelle's.
Michelle, this was a great read! I mean..mamoore. This was a great read, mamoore. God, it's so easy to confuse you two!!
JK - thanks -ready to start the planning!

Justjuli - First lady of camp is good with me, I think I get a lot more free time and way more beach time than that other First Lady!

Maria - Not just a fun space for eating, it makes for some great after meal dance parties!

Shaggy - Sorry for the confusion, just look at the arms next time you get mixed up.
mamoore what a funny and intelligent post! I had a good laugh seeing your clothes hanging on the line! And your big dog has style!
Congrats, and thanks!
I never could tell the two of you apart.
Marcela - I tried to make sure my fanciest camp attire was hanging out to dry! Glad Frosty the dog is getting so much love - that is kind of a sexy beach shot of him, isn't it?

Silkstone - Like I said to Shaggylocks, always check the arms.
In the end, it's the quality that matters whether you're the first woman of the U.S. or the first woman in your family's life. Thanks for the post. Delicious.
I loved this post. What made you think of all these comparisons?

By the way, I'd take Frosty over that cat that barks.
Excellent post! (Frosty could eat Bo for lunch and still have room for Malia).
Mal- You are so right!

Noahvose - I was watching the Brian Williams interview and it just came to me - I have thought before about the real responsibility I have in my role at camp, and all joking aside, it is very much the same as Michelle Obama's, just on a way smaller level.

Steve - Thank you, kindly. When Frosty wakes up I will have to read him all of his fan mail!
How did I miss this??! This was great! Great comparison, great photos, well written and funny story, mamoore! Feel grateful that you don't have to hear "Hail to the Chief" every time your husband walks into a room...
C- Very thankful for no theme song - though, being camp, we do sing the same songs over and over which may be just as bad.
I absolutely love your sense of humor and I loved this post! Made me realize that not only do I have a lot in common with you, but Michelle as well. We could all be BFFs!
Cute, clever and funny. Hope your camp weather isn't as wet as down here in the South!
MTK - Do you think we should contact Michelle about the BFF thing?

Gary - Thanks. Finally, it's dry and summerish here. Kids are swimming in the big lake and it's supposed to be 82 today. I'm sure it is coming your way!
Michael: “Toxic bug juice”? I love toxic bug juice!

Melissa: Yes, Michael drinks about three 2-liter bottles a day—assuming you mean sodey.

Michael: Don’t tell her this. She’s going to go into some hyperventilating state and immediately demand that I stop. Don’t!

Melissa: As for insects, Michael is affectionately known in the animal kingdom as the patron saint of insects.

Michael: Seriously, though. If we were asked to choose between spending time with you at the camp or Michelle at the White House, there’s no question what our choice would be.

Melissa: Nothing against Michelle, of course. We just think you’re especially grand.
M&M -Our bug juice was of the neon red fruit punchy flavored pure high fructose corn syrup variety. Thanks for thinking I'm grand, I don't think I have ever been called that before but I enjoy it.
This piece makes me SO glad to be back with OS! Funny, funny stuff mamoore.

I am stuck on the "ice is bad for the environment" sentence. Please please tell me I don't have to make three trips to the recycle bin every week AND give up ice as well! Because that may very well be my breaking point!

How is your friend Elizabeth?
annette - I am so glad you're back, I have been thinking about you. Oh, ice, I love ice, too. It is not a small issue here in the small kingdom of camp. I am actually thinking it is worth a whole post in itself to describe how we came to this conclusion! I will PM you about Elizabeth - she is heading into a long road of chemo & radiation but we are hoping she will make it to camp for a short visit first.
that actually did have me "laughing out loud." hysterical. Love the picture of your dog especially.