First Lady Michelle Obama's 2010 included a clearly defined high (the launch of her "Let's Move" anti-childhood obesity campaign) and a notable low (her controversial vacation at an expensive resort in Spain). The year also marked her first solo international travel, to Haiti and Mexico, and having the very cool experience of Paul McCartney singing "Michelle" to her at a White House concert.
Here are Mrs. Obama's top 10 for 2010:
Kickoff of "Let's Move!"
Though the first lady never testified before Congress or even visited Capitol Hill on the issue, she made calls behind the scenes and used her bully pulpit to raise the profile of the obesity problem and the need for legislation.
Through the year, she also made speeches before food manufacturers, the National Restaurant Association,
school lunch administrators, and others, recommending voluntary improvements to cut calories and offer healthier choices. She also worked to revitalize a program of linking up chefs with local schools, bringing hundreds of toque-wearing chefs to the South Lawn.
Joked Obama at the bill signing, "Not only am I very proud of the bill, but had I not been able to get this passed, I would be sleeping on the couch."
Controversial Spain vacation
First solo foreign travel
In April, Mrs. Obama visited Haiti and Mexico, t
he first time she traveled on official business to a foreign country without the president.
In Haiti on April 13, she was joined by Second Lady Jill Biden for a five-hour tour of Port-au-Prince, devastated, along with much of the country, in the Jan. 12 earthquake. The women took a helicopter tour of the city and met with Haitian President Rene Preval and his wife, Elizabeth.
In a 40-hour visit to Mexico City,
Mrs. Obama delivered a major speech about civic engagement to some 3,000 college and high school students at the Universidad Iberoamericana, met with some of Mexico's young leaders from around the county and spent time visiting with Mexico's first lady, Margarita Zavala.
Though the visit was billed as the launch of Mrs. Obama's international "youth engagement" agenda, she never made another solo foreign trip in 2010.
Return to the campaign trail
In October, after avoiding politics following the 2008 presidential campaign, Mrs. Obama returned to the campaign trail
to help Democrats in the Nov. 2 contests. One of the most popular political figures in the nation, she appeared mainly before friendly crowds at fundraisers but did join Obama for a few rallies in key states and also called in to several radio talk shows to help get out the vote. To encourage early voting, Mrs. Obama did so herself at a site near the Obamas' South Side home while in Chicago to headline fundraisers for Illinois Democrats.
Fine dining high point
Mrs. Obama's East Wing organized two state dinners in 2010 for the leaders of Mexico and India, but the standout dining event she presided over was the United Nations spouses luncheon, according to Eddie Gehman Kohan, the editor of Obama Foodorama
, the website of record for anything having to do with food and the Obama White House.
Mrs. Obama hosted 31 spouses of leaders at a "Farm to Table" four-course luncheon Sept. 24 at Barber's Blue Hill restaurant, located at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, about 25 miles from New York City. At the lunch, Mrs. Obama "cast a global spotlight on the importance of children being educated in every step of the food chain, from growing through eating, as she simultaneously gave smaller, localized, sustainable agriculture practices the White House seal of approval," Kohan told Politics Daily.
A hit in India
Some of the most iconic images of Mrs. Obama over the past year came during her four-day trip to India with the president in November. At Mumbai University on Nov. 6, she kicked off her shoes and danced to a Bollywood hit tune. The next day, at the Holy Name School in Mumbai, she watched children perform folk dances and joined in herself, showing off her moves.
First Fox News interview as first lady
No surprise that Fox host Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and himself a weight-loss advocate, recently defended Mrs. Obama after Sarah Palin accused her of waging a war against desserts. In February, Mrs. Obama chose Huckabee's show
to make her first appearance on Fox as first lady. The show was taped in Philadelphia and the two talked about food "deserts," areas that are not served by grocery stores.
First ship christening
In a July 23 christening ceremony,
Mrs. Obama smashed a bottle of champagne across the bow of the Coast Guard cutter Stratton at the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. She became the first first lady to sponsor a Coast Guard cutter (this one was named for Capt. Dorothy Stratton, who led the Coast Guard Women's Reserves during World War II).
Said Mrs. Obama: "I have the honor of christening a U.S. Coast Guard cutter, the Stratton, named after . . . one of the finest women in uniform, and I'm very excited and honored to do that."
Finest fashion statement
Mrs. Obama loves clothes and dressing up, and her outfits are often stunning. At a Dec. 17 "Christmas in Washington" concert, she may have become the only first lady to wear a vintage dress -- a tea-length tulle skirt by the late designer Norman Norell, purchased at a vintage boutique in New York.
White House kitchen garden expansion
The White House kitchen garden continued to yield crops -- and inspiration for school and home gardeners and tons of positive press for Mrs. Obama in 2010, just as it did the year before. On March 31, the first lady welcomed school children to the South Lawn for the second spring planting, j
oined by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Sam Kass, who then had the title assistant White House chef and food initiative coordinator. (In July Kass got an upgraded title, becoming the White House senior policy adviser for healthy food initiatives.)
The garden this year was expanded
by two rows -- an additional 400 square feet -- bringing the total to 1,500 square feet. Ground for the original 1,100-square-foot garden on the west side of the South Lawn was cleared on March 20, 2009, with its initial planting the following month.
Speaking to students, Mrs. Obama said, "Everybody is talking about that garden, not just here in Washington, not just here in the United States, but all over the world. And we've been able to start thinking about things like getting kids to try new foods that they've never tried, vegetables that they've never had."