First lady Michelle Obama at Monday's White House awards ceremony (Mark Wilson, Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) -- After an exhausting re-election campaign in which she was crucial, Michelle Obama is back and glowing again as first lady at the White House.
Today she returned to one of her favorite duties as first lady - handing out awards to adorable kids - while presenting the stylish and inspirational model that people have come to expect.
And well-rested nearly two weeks after President Obama was re-elected. She was dressed in an empire-waisted patterned dress in navy, black, white and gray, with a pair of sexy ankle-strap heels.
The occasion was the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, a component of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. She presented awards to 12 community after-school programs in music, dance, poetry, theater, history and digital arts that help to develop creativity among under-served young people. This year's winners were chosen from more than 350 nominations.
Mrs. O worked as hard as the president in the effort to return him to the Oval Office, traveling far and wide on her own during the past six months to help rally voters. It takes a toll, as she indirectly suggested in her remarks today.
"I'm off my game," she joked, according to the official transcript. As the audience laughed, she said, "I haven't been - I've been speaking a lot, and then sort of took a little time off..."
Then she went on to pay tribute to the "transformative power" of the arts and arts education for young people.
"You know that the skills that you're teaching --skills like problem-solving and teamwork, self-expression -- these skills aren't just valuable in the studio or in the theater, but they are critical in the classroom and will be in the workplace when you all get there," she said.