We completed our first year in office and how quickly it has gone!
I have loved all the things I have done with children, cooking and new moms. I have loved the wonderful family time we have had at the Governor’s home — especially our first night after the Inaugural, and Christmas when we were all together. And I love going home on weekends. But what I love most is that Mike really, really loves his job.
Mike says each day presents such a great opportunity to really make a difference for Ohio. In his words, “Our goal must be to do all we can so that all Ohioans have the ability to live up to their God-given potential. To do that we must work so that all kids are ready for Kindergarten when they start school and that they receive good drug prevention education. Ohio is the best place in the country to raise a family and start and grow a business. We have a wonderful future ahead as long as we see that all Ohioans have the opportunity to succeed and fully develop their potential.” Every day he wakes up full of energy and ready to tackle the problems of the day!
My energy at this moment is focused on opening the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library to every single child in Ohio under the age of five. This is a great program started by Dolly Parton in her Tennessee hometown 15 years ago. She started it as a little project with her dad because, as she said, “He couldn’t read or write, but he was so smart.” With the help of the governor of Tennessee, it became a statewide program. And now it is in many states and countries. These are free books mailed to a child every month, from the time they are born, until they turn 5 years old. And they are good books, starting with “The Little Engine That Could” and ending with “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!” Amazingly, they cost $2.10 each, printed and mailed to the child thanks to Dolly Parton!
What I love about the program is that it really helps the kids get ready for school. We know a child’s brain is 80 percent developed by the time they are 3 years old, and a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital study showed that their kids rose 15 percent on the Kindergarten readiness tests after just three years of getting the books. So we know the books will help these kids get ready for Kindergarten, which can really help them succeed in life!
I first learned about the program when my grandkids in Greene County began receiving books. The program through the Greene County Public Library Foundation is one of the best in the state. Now, Karl Colón, Greene County Public Library director, is helping me set up the program in other counties.
As we started our year the books were available to all children in 24 counties in Ohio. We have added 30 more counties and I am helping open up about 20 more in the next two months. It’s an aggressive plan but I’m committed to getting it done! Our state legislature committed to matching the money each county raises so that has helped make the fundraising easier.
It was so exciting to open up Montgomery County just before Christmas. I think 1,800 new kids signed up that first day, and we are up to nearly 4,000 kids there now. This past Monday morning we opened up all of Cuyahoga County, and more than 5,586 kids signed up this week! Next week I am going to Pike, Scioto and Jackson counties, so I am very excited to get books where they are truly needed.
I love the book selections. Right before Christmas “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” was one of the books mailed by the Dolly Parton Library, which my kids always loved! Another book is entitled “Baking Day at Grandma’s House.” It’s a very cute book with a cake recipe at the end. I thought I would share today an easier recipe, Mike’s grandmother’s recipe for applesauce cake. The recipe is nearly 100 years old and was given to Grandmother Liddle when they first moved to Yellow Springs in 1927. It’s easy — I use oil instead of shortening so kids can easily stir it together. I can homemade applesauce just so I have pints on hand for this purpose but store-bought applesauce works fine. It is so popular in our family that Alice asked for it for her birthday, 7-year-old Steven took it as tiny cupcakes to school last week for his birthday treat, and on Thursday little Tad dug into his personal-size birthday cake with both hands for his first birthday! I hope you enjoy it, too!
Granny Liddle’s Applesauce Cakes
½ cup oil (or shortening or butter)
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cup applesauce
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Mix in order given. Fill greased mini cupcake pans half full. Bake 15-20 minutes (depending on cupcake size) at 350 degrees. We like to make a small cake for the birthday person, and then mini cakes for all the guests. Cool. Ice.
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Mix together and drizzle over cakes.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.