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Barack Obama Gives Daughter $1 Allowance a Week

07/23/2008 at 07:00 PM EDT

Barack Obama Gives Daughter $1 Allowance a Week
Michelle, 44, and Barack Obama, 46, with daughters Malia (left) and Sasha outside their Chicago house June 19
Martin Schoeller
Squeezing some family fun between campaign stops, Sen. Barack Obama kicks a soccer ball to his 10-year-old daughter Malia and, with a wink to a reporter on the sidelines, confides one of his wife Michelle's secret talents: "She is the best Hula-Hooper I know. Once she gets the rhythm going, she can drop to her knees!"

And what about the Democratic presidential nominee? "That is one thing you will never see – me Hula-Hooping. I think that's clear."

Also clear: That even on the campaign trail, this is a brood almost like any other, with set routines (chores!), boundaries ($1 allowance!) and playtimes (movie nights!). The Obamas opened up to PEOPLE – first, at the family's three-story home in Chicago in June, and again on July 4, at a park in Butte, Mont., where the family campaigned and celebrated Malia's birthday – about the task of raising two girls, including 7-year-old Sasha, under the public eye.

PEOPLE: Someone told me today that you don't do birthday presents.
Michelle: No, because we spend hundreds of dollars on a birthday party and movie tickets and pizza and popcorn ...
Barack: That sleepover is enough. We want to teach some limits to them. And their friends bring over presents.
Michelle: They get so much stuff that it just becomes numbing. Malia believes there is still a Santa Claus even though she's a little wary because some of her friends are non-believers. But Malia says, "Ma, I know there is a Santa because there's no way you'd buy me all that stuff." [Laughing]

So what does a slumber party at the Obama house look like?
Barack: They're pretty noisy.
Michelle: The older they get, they just talk a lot. But they're at the age where they're pretty self-sufficient. [For Malia's birthday] we're going to go swimming, see Wall-E, make pizzas, have sundaes.
Barack: I usually go for the swim but this time I want to go to the movie just because Wall-E has gotten great reviews. I find actually that children's movies are the best movies these days. But I'll probably, after that, peel off until the cake.
Michelle: [Laughs] "Peel off."

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