Blog Posts by AprilAbtBalance

  • Getting There via the Great White Way

    Photo: Stock Xchng/up2uPhoto: Stock Xchng/up2uEveryone knows that SoCal living means lots of driving. We average over 12,000 miles a year in the car. If traffic alone drove us crazy, we'd never survive it. But if you happen to hear 3 female voices belting out "Defying Gravity" from Wicked on the 134, you are most likely near our trusty steed.

    I'm so thrilled that my daughters have inherited my love of Broadway musicals. Because my car's a little older, I burn CDs using iTunes, and we have close to 100 of them within reach. An all-time favorite playlist for the 3 of us would have to include these songs (as well as the aforementioned Wicked anthem):

    "96,000" from In the Heights: a perfect song for daydreaming about winning the lottery. $96,000 is a great amount because it's not quite enough to start a new life, but to have a great adventure. This song always gets all of us going.

    "Turkey Lurkey" from Promises, Promises: This song is so silly, makes no sense whatsoever, but that's what makes it so much fun.

    "I'm Alive" from Next

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  • 100 words or less: I am Mommy, Mom, Mother

    I hate to say it, but I'm a fairly typical mom. My life revolves around my children.

    I am chauffeur, I am a PTA mom, I am their best friend…and sometimes, worst enemy. I am their conscience; I am their task-master. I embarrass them when I dance around the house, and I'm so proud of them that they need outside validation because I'm too biased.

    I am the worst mommy in the world, and I'm the best mommy in the world. I am sometimes "moth-er" to my teen.

    I am and always will be there for them, no matter what.

    April McCaffery is a single, SoCal mother of two daughters, in 5th & 8th grade.

  • Managing a Paycheck-to-Paycheck Budget

    As a single mom with a single income to raise two daughters, money is always on my mind. While I pride myself on paying bills on time, it still felt like all I was doing was playing catch-up. This past year, I got fed up enough to make some changes, and finally feel like I'm making progress.

    • Divide and conquer the bills. Since I get paid weekly, I divide most of my monthly bills by the number of paychecks it will take to pay them. Usually, it takes 3 or 4. For example: my electric bill is usually $99, so for three weeks, I subtract $33 from my checkbook balance.
    • Budget, revise, budget, revise... I tried many methods of budgeting until finally, I took an Excel spreadsheet template and completely redid it to make it my own. I have both a weekly and monthly budget with columns for "projected" and "actual." It's easy to get discouraged by the differences unless you use the information to revise as necessary. As time went on, some budget items went away completely, and others
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  • What is a Good Teacher? A Parent's Perspective

    Photo: Stock.Xchng/harrykeelyPhoto: Stock.Xchng/harrykeelyThere has been a lot of talk lately about what makes a bad teacher, but not as much on good teachers, or more aptly put, effective teachers.

    There are some teachers that my daughters have had over the years that really stood out. The one thing that they all have in common is that my daughters felt like they believed in them. They're engaging, positive, and they make my daughter want to do her best. Their confidence in her helps her to believe in herself. She's not scared to ask them questions, and she's motivated to do more for extra credit. Even if she already has an A, she'll do more for that A+.

    The subject itself doesn't matter. I've seen my oldest daughter get As in every subject, and I've seen her barely pass some of these same subjects under different teachers.

    The effectiveness of each teacher came to a greater light when she was in 5th grade and started having multiple teachers. At the Knowledge Is Power Program charter school she attended for one year, she

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  • Where's the Finish Line?

    In honor of the mid-term election, Yahoo! Mother Board is asking us to join the conversation at their new feature, Ask America. I was disappointed that their Education topic only offers us two choices: higher standards or more money (which is not Yahoo's fault, but the candidates'). In order to truly reform education, we need to re-frame the question.

    For the past few decades, the two-party system has failed to offer radical enough solutions. While I'm an Obama supporter, I don't think his stance on education offers enough change, and I'm not sure what the Top is racing towards. I've recently seen two documentaries on education, Race to Nowhere and Waiting for "Superman". If you have to choose between the two, see Race to Nowhere, but see both if you can, or see what you can. We need to start talking about this more.

    It took until 8th grade for my oldest daughter to have a reason to want to do well in school. She wants to go to an arts high, and knows that in order to be admitted,

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