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Crib notes: Mom takes SATs 7 times in pursuit of perfect score

March 6, 2012 at 6:01 PM ET

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated an incorrect amount of money that Debbie Stier spent on test preparation for the SATs. Also, she clarified that her son, a high school junior, is a happy-go-lucky kid who hasn't worried too much about the SATs. You can learn more about Stier's "Perfect Score Project" on her website.

Ask any high school kid in the country what the worst letters in the alphabet are and they'll tell you, S-A-T. Even for those of us long-graduated, just hearing it can bring on a mini-anxiety attack. Months of studying, practice tests, books and online guides, the stress of those bubble tests can make a kid bubble over with anxiety. But, does all that preparation really help? The New York Post reported that one mom has taken the test seven times in hopes of achieving the elusive perfect SAT score -- and helping other parents figure out how to help their kids. She's done such extensive test preparation, with everything from online test prep courses to tutors, that it would have cost $10,000 if she'd paid for it out of pocket, she told TODAY Moms. (She was offered many services free as part of her project, she said.) 

When her son began preparing for the infamous test, she decided to make it a bonding experience and study along with him and then some. Although this 46-year-old dedicated 15 hours a week for 46 weeks to studying, she told the Post, she still came up shy of a perfect score. So, she came out with a critique of the test prep industry, saying some of the services aren't all they've cracked up to be. While she didn't get a perfect score, she did improve her high school scores by a fair amount and her son managed to best her by 130 points on the math section. What do you think of her efforts to obtain the perfect SAT score?

Racist princess candy leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many
Racism is never sweet, even when it's being sold by Disney princesses and is laden with high-fructose corn syrup. Those Disney princesses are licensed to sell and those little cash cows sell everything from Band-Aids to Spaghetti O's. Now, they're hawking Dig 'N Dips candy and some are saying that the marketing is more tasteless than the candy. Many have cried foul that Tiana, the only black princess, is featured on the watermelon flavor candy. Next to Tiana? Sleeping Beauty (or Aurora, if you prefer) pimping the vanilla flavored candy. Some say that if the image of the stereotypical African-American girl loving watermelon wasn't bad enough, putting it next to the white girl pawning the vanilla, certainly was. However, some have pointed out that the candy flavors are designed to be combined, so maybe the ultimate message is that racial harmony is the sweetest of them all.

Are shoelaces going the way of the whale-boned corset?
There are many life skills that we learned, which our kids will never have a use for. They'll likely never experience the agonizingly slow turn of a rotary phone. They'll never stick a pen into a cassette tape in order to wind the tape back in. But what about tying their shoelaces? A new poll suggests that shoe-tying might soon be as obsolete as cursive writing. The online poll, out of the U.K., showed that 45 percent of kids between the ages of five and 13, didn't know how to tie their own laces. Some worry that this is an indication of kids lacking practical, daily skills. Others think it's merely a sign of the times (and the fashion) and nothing to fret over. After all, we no longer know how to lace a corset and no one worries about that being a lost skill. Still others wonder if, by including kids as young as five, in the study, it's skewing the results. Maybe the kids will learn to tie their shoes eventually, but just haven't mastered that skill yet. Do your kids know how to tie their shoes? If so, how old were they when they learned?

Where does the time go?
Time. As moms, we like it, we love it, we want some more of it. These days, we often feel that time is our most valuable resource. Yet, when it comes to free time are we our own jailors? The editors at Real Simple magazine have said that a "feeling of time crunch," is the singular thing that most unites their readers. But, they wonder if we're the ones stealing time from ourselves. When men have a spare moment, they're more likely to spend it doing something they enjoy. Whether it's watching sports, reading a book or working out, that's what you can find them doing. When women have a spare moment to themselves, they'll somehow fill it with more household chores or additional childcare duties. So, put down the dishcloth and tell us what you'd do with an extra hour.

A clean room can be worth nearly $84,000.
Does your teen hate to clean his room? Is getting her to tidy up an epic battle every time? If so, then make them read this next story. A mom in Scotland had been nagging her teenage son to straighten up his room for weeks. He finally caved and cleaned and found a winning lottery ticket in the process. This kid may be sloppy but now he's almost $84,000 richer. While putting things away, he found a stack of old lottery tickets, which he almost tossed. Good thing he didn't, because when he checked them, he found that one was worth $83,900. See kids, cleaning your room really does pay.

Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two sleep-depriving toddlers. Once properly caffeinated, she also blogs at www.18years2life.com.

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