Paying Gratitude Forward

There is so much to be grateful for in life. I would love to know that people will be waking up feeling blessed, without complaints and full of a passion to live life to the fullest.

A few years ago Former First Lady Michelle Obama told me about the idea of paying it forward in life. Truly that is what Brae’s Brown Bags has been all about. I have been given so much and I am thankful. I know not everyone has been as blessed as I have been. I know not everyone is given the same opportunities or has the same kind of support system. But if I can lend a hand to someone in need then maybe someday they will be able to lend a hand as well.

The biggest realization I have had with Brae’s Brown Bags has been the ripple effects. The ripples are truly waves of people paying it forward in their lives. It’s an amazing thing. And I am so grateful to Michelle Obama for tossing the first pebble my way.

As we near Thanksgiving I’m suggesting you create a Thanksgiving Meal Kit if you have the means to do so. You can donate these kits to a local school or food pantry or you can give them to a family you know needs the help. Get a basket at a dollar store and purchase a turkey or see if you can obtain a gift certificate from a local meatery or deli. Include cranberry sauce, green beans, potatoes and perhaps a pumpkin pie in your basket.

There are so many ways to show gratitude, there are equally many ways to pay it forward, why not do both!?

Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us at Brae’s Brown Bags!

From Delaware to DC my State of the Union trip

That's me at the State of the Union
That’s me at the State of the Union

I went back to school today after being in Washington, DC for the last three days. I need to write a paper about my experience but I thought I’d try and tell a little bit on my blog first.

As you probably know, I had the honor of going to President Obama’s last State of the Union address. Why? Well because the First Lady Michelle Obama asked me to be her guest. I know! It was a really big surprise and I was very excited, I’m still very excited. It all happened so fast and to be honest with you I’m still trying to really think about it all.

At the White House in the room with the big Abraham Lincoln painting.
At the White House in the room with the big Abraham Lincoln painting.

There have been so many people who have started to follow me on social media and also here on my blog. I even got some emails from people. Most people have been so nice about everything. A lot of people have said they are inspired by what I am doing and they think I’m a special person. I have been called a hunger activist and a hunger warrior. Some people have said they felt bad because I looked so tired on TV at the State of the Union and I was, I mean I was very tired, but I was also very happy to be there. And what you didn’t get to see is that after the address I got to go in a different room and meet with the President. He shook my hand and he asked how the foundation is doing. The President and the First Lady both said they were inspired by me. I think that is very surprising. I mean I am proud of myself but I am really proud of them I really think they are great people and I am so happy I got to go to the White House again and got to go to the State of the Union.

I'm bottom right next to Mrs. Edith
I’m bottom right next to Mrs. Edith Childs

Some of the speech I didn’t really understand but there was also part where the President talked about how the US went to the moon. My Mom has said this to me before, she has said that people didn’t always believe they could go to the moon and they thought it was crazy. But then we did, we did go to the moon, we walked on the moon. I think he President was trying to say that impossible things are very possible. But I think he was also saying we need to believe in ourselves and in each other and work together. And I do that, all of us who volunteer with Brae’s Brown Bags or with other advocacy things we all do that every day. We just need more people to stand up for each other and be there for each other. We have to work together as a family and family doesn’t just have to be your Mom or your Dad it can be your friends and your neighbors. And I think he talked about equality. Because he says that everyone should be able to get a good education and have good health care and that everyone should feel they are heard.

Me with Senator Carper
Me with Senator Carper

Other really nice people I got to meet were Secretary Tom Vilsack who gave me his challenge coin and talked with me about Brae’s Brown Bags and told me about he started working with the USDA. Under Secretary Kevin Concannon who talked with me about the hunger conference I co-hosted. He had been a speaker at it but he never got to see the kid part of the conference so I filled him in. And also Senator Tom Carper who told me all about being in the Navy and his family and his favorite sandwich and even chickens. Did you know Sussex County in Delaware grows the most chickens in the whole country? He took me over to the Capitol Building and I got to eat lunch there. All of the staff at all of these places were super nice and welcoming.

Senator Kid Daily Show
Senator Kid Daily Show

And then a show called The Daily Show kind of made fun of the State of the Union because I guess that is what they do. I don’t really get it BUT they called me Senator Kid and when my Mom showed me a picture it was pretty funny. I admit it, I laughed. It was pretty funny to see him dance and sing Senator Kid with my tired face on the screen. Ohhhhh the stories I will be able to tell someday.

And I really like Washington, DC. It is fun. I like to walk places and you don’t really get a chance to do that in Delaware. I think I might move there someday.

For now, I’m going to finish playing an Xbox game with my brother and then go to bed, I have school in the morning.

Giving a speech at the White House with the First Lady #kidsstatedinner

brae-firstlady-hugWhat a roller coaster of a month July has been! I feel like I say something like that every time I begin writing a new post. I guess it’s good to be keeping busy though, right?

My last post let you all know that I was going to be giving a speech at the White House and I did on July 18th.

I also took my first plane ride and I really liked looking out the window and seeing how the cars got smaller and then seeing how I was above the clouds. It was really cool!

Me at the White House
Me at the White House

But about the trip, my Mom and I flew into Washington, DC Thursday morning and we stayed at the Westin in Georgetown. It was a really nice room and I got to go swimming, too. My Mom took a lot of pictures and she has them on Flickr if you want to see.

I also got to go with all the 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winners to the National Museum of American History and I really like that. I got to meet everyone and talk with them. It was funny because everyone kept asking me what my recipe was because they all got to Washington because they were winners for their recipes. So I tried explaining that I was a 2013 winner but that the new Delaware winner was Roisin Liew and she was very nice. I met her in the airport before we got to Washington.

I think people were surprised when they got to the White House and I was already there. I got to go early with Tanya Steel and my Mom. They let me walk in the ballroom and practice a line of my speech and make sure I would be tall enough at the podium. They had to cut down the stool to be just my size which was pretty funny. We were joking it was like Goldilocks the three bears.

Me and the First Lady Michelle Obama

When it came time for the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner I stayed with First Lady Michelle Obama and with Tanya Steel and then we were introduced in the room and I was on stage with them. My Mom was in the front at a table. Tanya gave a speech and she introduced me, she said she is proud of me and that she hopes my story will inspire other kids. I hope it will, too. And then I gave my speech. I was nervous, but I just did like I practiced before and when people in the audience started clapping and laughing during funny moments I knew I was doing good and so then I wasn’t nervous anymore. The First Lady gave me a big hug which was an awesome feeling and then she told everyone that I did a great job but that I’m not supposed to make the First Lady cry. Of course she meant happy, proud tears, so it was okay. She seemed really, really proud of me.

Me with Tanya Steel
Me with Tanya Steel

I got to talk about Brae’s Brown Bags, but what was more important was to be able to talk about how everyone no matter their age or no matter if they are rich or poor that they should all have the opportunity to eat healthy. I think a lot of people agreed and seemed to understand. I think it is important that people think about it. Food insecurity is an injustice.

I know my Mom and really my whole family and all my friends were also very proud. Everyone watched and said I did good. And then I got like 100 tweets on my phone. Really, every time I cleared the screen I was getting more. I am still responding to people even now!

One thing I have learned about Tanya Steel and about First Lady Michelle Obama is that they are more than just inspiring leaders, they are Moms. I think people forget about that sometimes. They both talked about their kids and about how they love their families. But you can tell they love all kids and they want all of us to be happy and healthy.

So then after the trip to Washington, which was a crazy whirl wind, roller coaster ride, then my family went to the beach. We went to Fenwick Island, that is where we go every summer. It is always a lot of fun. It was nice to just be able to dig in the sand, watch Disney on TV and also swim in the ocean. I went out in the waves this year even without my boogie board. We all had a lot of fun and it was good to be able to unwind.

I’m heading back to the White House … and more! #2030NOW

If you follow 3B on Facebook than you most likely have already heard the BIG news.

I'm on the far left wearing my White House bag at the Julia Child FOOD exhibit July 2013.
I’m on the far left wearing my White House bag at the Julia Child FOOD exhibit July 2013.

I have been asked to attend the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner at the White House to be their guest speaker and introduce our First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Last night my Mom and I had a conference call with ladies from the White House and they asked me a little bit about what I might like to say.

I feel like I could probably answer them better today than I did last night because I’ve been jotting down some notes. I’ve also been thinking about it after hearing that they said about how the speech should include elements about healthy eating since that is that the Kids’ State Dinner and Healthy Lunchtime Challenge are all about. So now I have a much better idea on what is expected and on what I would like to include.

lm_kids_state_dinner_pre_weekend_headerSo next week, on Friday July 18th, you can tune in and watch the Kids’ State Dinner live from the White House to see and hear me talk but also to see all the new winners 🙂

Other very cool and exciting news is that I will be receiving a Young Hero Award from the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia. “This annual award, sponsored by TD Bank, recognizes young people who have championed liberty through their actions.” They will be taking my picture and putting it, along with my story, in their museum as an exhibit. WHAT! Isn’t that so cool? Thank you, thank you. This is really a great honor.

Oooo and I read about something called the Social Good Summit. It is happening in New York in September and the link I clicked on is asking for speakers. Do you think they’ll let a kid be a speaker? Because I’ve used the #socialgood hashtag before and I think I could give them a new perspective.

Some updates, Queen Latifah and Alpha Phi Omega

Remember how gave me a seed grant for Brae’s Brown Bags?

Well they also went a step further and decided to feature me on their blog.

They asked me some questions, like an interview, and included my answers online.

So you should check it out and see what kind of super hero powers I would want if I ever became a super hero.

You can read the post on their website, “How This 10-Year-Old Is Helping The Homeless” I hope you like it.

queen-latifahAlso, I don’t think I told you yet but I know I put it on Facebook. An Associate Producer from the Queen Latifah Show called and talked to me last week. She asked me questions about Brae’s Brown Bags. I don’t know if anything will happen from talking to her but it was still super cool that she called. It was funny because she told me she was calling from Los Angeles and she asked me where I was but instead of saying Delaware I said I was in my Gram’s basement! My Mom might tease me about that forever! Did you know Queen Latifah has an entire area called the Michelle Obama Lounge on her talk show. I should send her a copy of my photo with the First Lady!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Oh and on November 17th I’ll be packing bags with Alpha Phi Omega in Purnell Hall on the University of Delaware’s campus. My new friend, Kyle, who is part of the fraternity told my Mom they collected $1,000 of items to put in the bags and I am SO EXCITED!

My Trip to The White House for the Kids’ State Dinner

Me autographing someone's book
Me autographing someone’s book

I know I need to update you about my trip to The White House but I have been very busy plus I have been tired.

Everyone has been asking me what my favorite part of the trip was and I have had different answers to tell because at first my favorite part was the train ride. After the train my Mom and I rode on the Metrorail and that was fun, too, except you have to get on and off very quickly. Then I liked getting to the hotel. We stayed at the Westin in Alexandria. There was a big, white plush robe on one of the beds. We went with the other winners to the Smithsonian Museum of American History and saw a food exhibit. Tanya Steel, the lady who came up with the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, says some of our recipes will be on display there in the Fall.

Me in front of The White House

Monday night we made toyrariums. They are these big pots of dirt with lots of different plants and we added toys to them. We added little dinosaurs, butterflies, insects, toadstools and stuff like that because the toyrariums are going to be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

After making the toyrariums we had a pizza party. The line was really long to get the pizza. I decided to sign the cookbook for Mrs. Obama first. I autographed a lot of cookbooks at the hotel.

On Tuesday we woke up really early and ate a breakfast our of a red bag that said Health Lunchtime Challenge on it. Then we got on a big bus and headed to The White House.

At The White House we had to wait a long time on the bus before we could get off of it. We saw a black dog sniffing around the bus and my Mom said the dog was making sure everything was safe.

Me and Tanya Steel
Me and Tanya Steel

When we finally got to go in the White House we waited in a hallway for our turn to be announced. My Mom and I walked into a room and everyone was taking our picture and there were a lot of bright lights. I looked at my Mom and laughed.

We went into another room and were given drinks that were flavored waters like pineapple. We were allowed to go through the red room, blue room and green room and take pictures. I took a lot of pictures with my own camera, but mostly my pictures are of other pictures. Haha.

A man made all the kids balloon hats and animals. I was given a balloon hat that looked like a fruit bowl.

We were given lunchboxes to decorate and jump ropes.

Look close you can see Mrs. Obama's name tag at my table
Look close you can see Mrs. Obama’s name tag at my table

I met Sam Kass while I was waiting in the lobby area near the drinks. He is a White House chef and he advises the First Lady about Nutrition.

We waited in line to meet the First Lady Michelle Obama. She gave me a hug and said she was happy I came to see her. Someone took our picture together and it is supposed to be mailed to me.

The dinner was very exciting but really it was lunch it was just called the Kids’ State Dinner because that’s a cool name. I thought that was going to be my favorite part but then I saw who was sitting at our table for lunch and it was Mrs. Obama. I couldn’t believe I was going to be eating lunch at the same table at the First Lady.  And then my Mom showed me the name tag to my left and it was Tanya Steel. Wow!

I talked to the First Lady about the Delaware Mud Run, Jr. She asked me a lot of questions. She could not believe that I ran up hills and jumped in the mud. I told her I raised over $1,300 for the Delaware Leukemia Research Foundation. She was impressed with me.

The First Lady Michelle Obama
The First Lady Michelle Obama

And then a surprise person came and it was the President, Barack Obama. It was so cool! He even shook my hand and told me he was proud of me and thought he would like my Tortilla Bowl recipe.

I tried a lot of new foods like spring rolls and zucchini muffins and cauliflower pizza. Surprising, I liked the muffins and the pizza but not as much the spring rolls. There were also banana muffins and I liked them, too.

I can’t pick just one favorite moment, but if I had to it would be sitting at the table with the First Lady. She was very nice and she told us we could eat the food with our fingers.

braeden-mannering-tom-carperAfter the dinner we went back to the hotel. We ended up missing our appointment with Senator Carper, he is a Senator for Delaware. But my Mom was able to talk to his office and they understood we were at The White House and couldn’t just leave to go see him. He let us stop by before we got on our train to come home. He was very cool. I had my picture taken with him. He showed me his office and a lot of pictures of his family.

I will write more when I can, I hope you liked hearing about the trip.

And here is a link to download the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge 2013 Cookbook for free.