I rush out of the house half aware of the fallen mitten, hat and snacks trailing behind me. My hair is standing on end, as if lightning is about to strike, and I still have a copy of my pillowcase imprinted on my face. The thought of a few minutes of restful shut-eye lures me, after last night's sleeplessness. Well, lesson learned: Set the alarm anytime you operate on less than acceptable sleep and have an appointment to keep, even if it's during the middle of the day.

As is always the case when I'm running terribly late, a combination of stoplights and 18-wheelers ensured that I never made it through more than one light at a time. When stopped, I utilized the idle time efficiently, staining my lips with a bit of color and bringing my unruly hair under control. Happily, I noted that the facial imprint had finally vanished, and the reflection looking back at me was actually human again. But I was still pressed for time. As I got onto the highway, I punched the Audi S4's accelerator down and flew forward. The S4 enabled me to go from zero to 62 mph in just 5.3 seconds, and I was reminded of "Autobahn" driving by that pressed-into-the-seat sensation. Unleashing the Audi S4's V-8 engine is fun, and, reluctantly, I must admit I love the power. And I'm not even a power-hound, people.

Numerous snowstorms are responsible for a blanket of white in our area, but because of the Audi S4's superior all-wheel-drive system, I confidently tackled the wintry roads. The S4 handles so smoothly I considered doing more than just the absolutely necessary errand (for eggs). For a split second, I was tempted by visions of champagne powder and fresh tracks up in the mountains. After all, I could easily transport skis using the small opening that leads from the S4's trunk into the main cabin. And then there's the convenience of Audi's ski sack, which would ensure a clean return. I was jolted back to reality, though, by a very small pleading person; it cleared my mind, and I contently went back to donning my apron and making blueberry pancakes for a couple of hungry boys.

Speaking of my boys, once I put children in the Audi S4 equation, things got complicated. I wasted oodles of time installing a car seat using the top-tether anchor. The minutes were ticking away furiously, and I scorned the freezing temperatures doing a number on my bare hands. Once in the car, I was ready to pass snacks to the rear. Unfortunately, the seat's shoulder support (which is admittedly great without children in the mix) prevented me from accomplishing this task easily. I also dreaded any kind of movement in the vehicle because I was constantly knocking against something, whether I was slamming into the shoulder support or banging my foot into the under-seat storage panel (although I love the idea), or battling the armrest that was constantly in my way (when raising or lowering the emergency break, I needed to raise the armrest, and when passing anything off to the rear, I needed to lower the armrest). I also wish I could store more than a few tiny trinkets in the center console.

Additionally, the driver and passenger door compartments are so short I couldn't even house my 8.5-inch carpool name cards. Luckily, Audi provides an additional (brilliant) literacy shelf under the steering column, which I gladly used instead. Another problem I encountered occured when picking up children from school - I held up the carpool line because my son was unable to buckle himself into the booster seat due to the hard-to-reach seat belt receptacle. And, last but not least, Audi's navigation system had me wishing for plain old maps to help me find my way.

On an upside, while routinely helping my son buckle up in the back, I did note Audi's fantastic, easy-to-reach first-aid kit in the rear armrest. This is such a clever feature for travel with children and/or adults, and I consider it a wish-list item for mommy-proof cars. Lastly, another crafty something, a netted storage cubby, is found in the trunk, which I used to neatly contain extra windshield wiper fluid.

Some cars are meant to be driven by people who appreciate and understand their power and handling. Audi's S4 fits into that category, but because I pay greater attention to kiddie/mama features, the fine engineering of the S4 eludes me. I'll leave this vehicle for the true motor-connoisseurs who consider juice to be something other than grape or apple.

*For more information on the Audi S4 and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.

LET'S TALK NUMBERS

LATCH Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny-Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair

Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times