First Family Prepares For Spotlight

As Obama plans his staff, the first lady focuses on the family's transition.

Nov. 5, 2008— -- The nation's new First Family will be a family of firsts. For the first time, an African-American family will live in the White House. And the Obamas will be the first family since the Kennedys to bring the laughter of two young children to the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Friends often describe the Obamas as a regular, down-to-earth American family. There's Mom and Pumpski -- that's one of Michelle's pet names for the president-elect. Malia is 10 and Sasha is just 7.

Yvonne Davila is one of Michelle's closest friends. They do everything together. Just a few weeks ago they took their kids shopping for Halloween costumes at Party City in Chicago on a Saturday morning. Yvonne told Michelle it might be more practical to simply order costumes online this year. But Michelle wouldn't hear of it. She insisted they keep their yearly tradition of hauling their kids to the store to pick their costumes.

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"They still go to soccer. They still go to ballet on Saturday mornings… that hasn't changed," said Dalia. "If that were going to change, it would have changed by now."

The Obamas have worked hard to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible for the girls during the campaign. Barack Obama stepped away from the campaign to drop his two daughters off for their first day of school, and took them trick-or-treating in Hyde Park, Chicago, with his Secret Service bodyguards trailing behind.

But preserving their childhoods -- one complete with carpools and sleepovers -- gets trickier as the family moves to the even brighter glare of the White House.

Michelle Obama told ABC's Robin Roberts in August that she has sought guidance from women like Senator Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore, who have experience dealing with an invasive press, on how to protect her daughters. Chelsea Clinton had kept her life private, still choosing not to grant interviews during Clinton's run for the nomination.

"Part of it is, is keeping them, keeping their worlds very much their own. So we're learning and growing and figuring it out," Mrs. Obama said.

Obama Family's Move to White House

To help ease the transition to Washington, Michelle's mother will also move to the nation's capital and will continue to help the Obamas with child care. An aide to Michelle Obama says the family has no plans to hire a full-time nanny. (They have not employed one to this date.)

The Obamas have only done one interview as a family, back in July when they were campaigning in Butte, Montana. The girls were asked by Access Hollywood how they would feel about living in the White House.

"It'd be very cool," Sasha said.

"I think my most excitement about it is that I get to redecorate my room," said Malia. "I enjoy redecorating."

While there may be trade-offs to living in the public eye, Michelle Obama has called her daughters' opportunity a "gift."

"What a gift to grow up in the White House, to, to see world leaders, to understand how the country is shaped," Michelle told ABC News in May 2007. "What a symbol that it will show to so many young boys and girls out there, particularly kids of color who have never seen themselves in a major way. What a statement that'll be."

The new first lady will focus first and foremost on getting her family settled in Washington. The girls will leave their 5th and 2nd grade classes at the University of Chicago Laboratory School for a new school midway through the academic year.

The Obama campaign says the family has not decided yet which school the girls will attend in Washington. They currently attend a private school in Chicago.

Michelle Obama plans to focus on several areas as first lady. She will continue her work with military spouses and promoting national service. But she will also focus on the struggles of balancing life and work -- a struggle she knows all too well.

"I don't know about you, but every minute after I had my first child, I questioned my decisions," Michelle Obama told a women's luncheon in Greenville, S.C., in January of this year.

Last week, Barack Obama said that the thing he missed most about campaigning was being with his girls.

"Sometimes they'll crawl into bed with Michelle and me," Obama said in an interview with ABC's Charles Gibson. "That is the sweetest of moments, and I haven't had enough of those over the last two years."

Now, they'll be back under one roof. They will eat breakfast together and be able to share their days again.

And there will be one addition to the Obama family -- a new dog. Michelle and Barack Obama promised their daughters that win or lose, they would get a puppy.

"Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House," he said last night.