The White House is getting ready for a new First Family. In a matter of weeks, President-elect Barack Obama, his wife and two daughters will get a new home, and begin a new life in the executive mansion.
Barack and Michelle Obama and their two daughters are leaving their three story home in Chicago and moving into the 200-year-old mansion, perhaps the best known house in the world.
The first floor contains the historic state rooms. The second floor, seldom seen by the public, is the residence.
There are 16 rooms in all upstairs - including a living room, sitting rooms, 5 bedrooms and a kitchen.
There is a staff of 80. But Michelle Obama says she told the staff that daughters Malia and Sasha will have to make their beds and keep their rooms neat.
"That's going to be one of my goals: Don't make their beds, make mine," Mrs. Obama laughed.
But having your own florist, butlers and chef can be nice, according to Gary Walters. He recently retired as head of the residence staff. "Not only does the world class chef at the White House know how to make pizza, she will learn very quickly the kind of pizza the two girls like," Walters said.
The Obamas will also discover the hidden amenities of the White House. There is a swimming pool and a bowling alley. A tennis court may be turned into a basketball court to accommodate the new president's favorite game. There is even a private children's garden tucked away amid the trees.
It dates back to John F. Kennedy's presidency. His daughter, Caroline Kennedy is now advising the Obamas on parenting at the White House.
Mr. Obama says his goal is to keep his children's lives as normal as possible. "They're kind, thoughtful kids. And they show everyone respect," he said. "If they retain that, the other stuff will take care of itself."
The Bush daughters were in college when their father became president, so it has been years since children lived in the White House.
Martha Kumar, an expert in presidential transitions, says the staff is ready. "I think the staff will be delighted to have young children and hear the voices of children through the rooms of the White House," Kumar stated.
Inauguration day is moving day at the White House. It begins the moment President Bush leaves for the swearing-in ceremony. An army of workers will box up and cart away all the Bush-related contents of the executive mansion, and prepare the White House for its new residents. By the time Barack Obama returns from his inaugural parade all will be ready, and the new First Family will have a new address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.