"I choked up a little bit leaving the house today," President elect Barack Obama told reporters earlier this week as he and his family left Chicago to take up residence in the White House.
"What happened was [daughter] Malia's friend had dropped off an album of the two of them together. They've been friends since preschool and I just looked through the pages and the house was empty. It was a little tough. It got me…"
A hugely anticipated inauguration ceremony will mark his official presidency January 20. Until then, Obama, wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia will stay at the Hay Adams Hotel in Washington D.C., just one block north of Capitol Hill. And, there's barely enough time for nostalgia.
The girls have already settled into the Sidwell Friends School, where they started January 5. Fifth grader Malia was first, arriving before the 8:00 am bell rang signaling classes to begin. Her little sister Sasha, who is in second grade was settled in a little before 8:30 when the bell rings for students at the primary grades school. Sidwell's associate headmaster, Ellis Turner reported the day as "very normal with no special events planned for the girls' arrival."
Meanwhile, Obama's "in" box is already full to capacity with a perpetually spiraling economy, two middle eastern wars, environmental and healthcare issues and the task of mending foreign relations. His first order of business will be a $1 trillion stimulus package, which he intends to start doling out as soon as gets to the Oval Office, he said.
"The people's business can't wait," Obama told reporters at a meeting this Monday with economic advisors.
"We've got an extraordinary economic challenge ahead of us."
That challenge lies in the fact that at least half a million jobs were lost across the country in November 2008 alone–a reality that hit home this past Christmas when holiday sales held no promise of a financial uplift. And it will "get worse before it gets better," he warned. Part of his plan, calling for a large amount funding to be put toward nationwide public works projects would create jobs right away, he said.
He is also calling for major tax cuts and a carefully constructed auto industry bailout.
As for Michelle, her first priority is to the girls and their adjustment to the transition.
"At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I shared with the nation some of the many reasons why I believed my husband would be an extraordinary president," she told reporters after her husband's historic win.
"It was the biggest speech I'd ever given. When I was finished, I headed backstage with my daughters. They turned to me, breathless with excitement. 'Mom,' Malia, our ten-year-old, said. 'We have something important to tell you. We need to have a sleepover!'
"That snapped me out of speech mode, with the bright lights and applause, and back into the role I love: Mom. Now that Barack has been elected president, it will be an honor to be First Lady. I will work daily on the issues closest to my heart: helping working women and families, particularly military families.
"But, my first priority will be to ensure the girls stay grounded and healthy, with normal childhoods–including homework, chores, dance, and soccer…"