Photo Credit: Kelly Wallace
5:25 p.m. ET – Almost Home!
We just landed at Andrews Air Force Base, and once I get my bag, I’m headed to the train station. Three plus hours from now, I’ll be home. Yay! I’m writing up a few more posts with some final thoughts on this extraordinary experience – so I’m not completely done yet!
3:45 p.m. ET – Wheels Up! Homeward Bound!
After the five-city, four-state, three-day tour, we boarded the first lady’s plane and headed home. Mrs. Obama seemed as excited as the traveling press corps. After hugging some girls at Disneyworld, she told them, “I gotta go home, I gotta go see my girls.” Me too, Mrs. Obama. This is the longest I’ve been away from my little ones in a long time and I can’t wait to see them tonight!
2:40 p.m. ET – Run, Kick and Race!
After tennis, Mrs. Obama did some soccer drills and then took part in a relay race after which she doled out a ton of hugs. One girl excitedly said, “She shook my hand five times.”
2:30 p.m. ET – Tennis Anyone?
The first lady, who told us during the trip that she really likes playing tennis, took part in a practice game with some local children and tennis star James Blake. One of the funniest moments was watching Mrs. Obama make sure a young player didn’t whack her with his racket. She tried to explain to him to hit the ball softly, but he kept whacking away. Watch here as Mrs. Obama shows some impressive moves on the court.
2:20 p.m. ET – The First Lady Gets Down at Disney World!
Ever hear of “The Platypus Walk?” Neither did I. It’s a new dance inspired by the character Penny from the Disney Channel series Phineas and Ferb, according to the White House. Check out the first lady strutting her stuff here along with Platypus himself at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.
1:24 p.m. ET -- We're at Disney World!
We made it to the last stop of this three-day, five-city tour where the first lady will enjoy some tennis and soccer before heading back to her husband and Malia and Sasha.
12:40 p.m. ET -- The First Lady On the Role of the First Lady
The most fascinating question during the roundtable was the first lady's feelings about the role of the first lady. A reporter brought up an essay from the New Yorker about the disparity between the role of the first lady, with all its ceremonial duties, and the role of women in today's society. "That's a great question," said Mrs. Obama, who added that she has "spent a little time thinking about it."
"I do think there's an obligation on the part of the first lady, the first family, the president, to be aware of where the country is and sort of figure out how that position fits with where the country is," she told us. "And I think that every first lady, in their own way, has had to figure that out. And by doing that, I think they pushed the bar a little bit further. I feel like every first lady that has come before me has opened up the opportunity for me to be this first lady. And a lot of that means that I still have the choice. There's still the power that I do think I have a great sort of breath of opportunity or possibility of how to define this role, and I don't think earlier first ladies did. But I think that slowly, each year, each administration, it gets more broadly defined."
"But I still think that, ultimately, the role has to be defined by the individual," she said. "I mean, part of what I say to women, part of what we fought for is choice -- not just one definition of what it means to be a woman... We fought for the right to figure out what we need at any given point in time. And I think the first lady role is evolving in that way too."
But I did wonder whether she felt frustrated by the fact that the country doesn't seem to be ready or interested in a more powerful policy-making first lady.
Asked what would be a breaktrhough for the role, Mrs. Obama didn't miss a beat. "What would be a breakthrough? Having a man," she said to laughter. "That would be very interesting to see."
11:45 a.m. ET -- The First Lady Meets With Reporters!
We had our second roundtable with the first lady and once again, she talked about a range of issues -- the campaign, Let's Move and the role of the first lady.
On her role during campaign:
I asked her what role she plans to play on the campaign, if she wants to do anything different this time around and whether she's a secret weapon for her husband, as some have suggested. She brushed that notion off, but said she will do "whatever is needed." "We haven't yet really, fully sat down and talked about the strategy of where I'm going to go or what I'm going to do but I'm always open to whatever the folks who are running the campaign think I need to do," she said. That said, it's only going to be about three days a week. The other time, she said, she'll be devoted to Malia and Sasha, and continuing to support her chief issues, Let's Move and Joining Forces, which is focused on raising awareness of military families.
Running to motorcade. More quotes to come.
10:45 a.m. ET -- First-Ever Video Contest!
"I just want you to send me a video," the first lady announced during a speech at a megachurch in Florida, revealing a new video contest for Let's Move. Any community-based organization that wants to demonstrate how it's trying to make families and kids healthier can apply. "The funnier the better," said the first lady, noting she likes funny! And what do the winners get? They'll be invited to the White House, Mrs. Obama said.
10:36 a.m. ET -- First Lady Addresses Crowd of More than 3,000 at Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood, Florida
Watching the first lady, it is hard to imagine she was once a reluctant campaigner, now she's a total pro who really seems to be connecting with this crowd.
Choice quotes from her speech:
"Once American Bandstand was over... We had to go out to play," she said, talking about how when we she was growing up, there were only a few TV channels.
"Some people come to church just for the fried chicken." (Crowd cracks up!)
Crowd loved this anecdote too: How one time she & her brother had some rare fast food -- a burger and fries -- but her grandmother opened a can of peas to add to their plates!
8:00 a.m. ET -- Press Check In!
No matter how much concealer I apply, I can't seem to get rid of those bags under my eyes! I'm off to check in for the last day of the trip -- and forgot to mention how we'll be having another roundtable with the first lady this morning so if you have a question for Mrs. Obama, send it my way. More soon!
6:30 a.m. ET -- Wake Up Call!
It's the final day of this extraordinary trip. First stop a church here in Orlando to showcase how churches and other faith-based organizations are trying to get families to live healthier lives. Then it's on to Disney World!