Monday, March 10, 2008

Literature-based curriculum

(This is a work in progress. Expect eventual updates!)

So, like me, you like the Charlotte Mason approach, but figuring out how to put it together yourself seems almost impossible. There are many curricula that are options, or that can be used for their book lists when you build your own curriculum. I recommend finding the one that resonates best with you and your family (or even just the one child who will use it) and use that as a starting point.

These are the sites that I have found useful:

Five in a Row
(and here) especially for younger children

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Raw Detox

A few weeks ago I did the seven day RawDivas detox with a friend. I highly recommend it – there are no gimmicks, nothing that you have to buy, no supplements – just eat only raw food for a week. But there is support, and there are some recommendations, and emails that you can receive on each day of the detox. (They are a for profit business, but the seven day detox can be completely free, which is how I did it – sign up and they'll send you the link to the detox page. I haven't received any questionable emails as a result.)

I didn't feel great while I was doing it, but I have no regrets at all. I think I eat a little differently now, trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my daily meals. I'm also very aware that on any given day I only eat so much, and that if I want to eat well, I have to choose well. This seem obvious, but for me it's a bit of a shift. I expect I will try this detox again, especially if I can find a friend to do it at the same time. I'd prefer to do it during warm weather – both my friend and I found that we were cold eating only cold and room temperature food in the middle of New England February.

Today Oprah was discussing The Truth About Food. One study they (she and Dr. Oz) discussed was a raw food experiment. After only ten days, cholesterol was down by 25% and blood pressure was down also. They also discussed a detox experiment which showed no benefit to the detox as far as expelling toxins. However, Dr. Oz sees a detox regime as useful as a reboot or quick start to a better eating plan. They didn't put the two together, and I think that would have been a useful suggestion – detox by going all raw for three, five, seven or more days (I recommend at least four).

Monday, March 03, 2008

Pay off mortgage early?

I get the emails from Debt Into Wealth, and I must admit, it sounds awfully tempting not to have a mortgage. However, we've decided instead to have a savings plan and continue paying our mortgage at the regular rate, and here are some of the reasons:
  • We want to build up savings to the recommended three to six months worth of expenses. If my husband lost his job , savings and investments will help a lot more than a lower mortgage balance.
  • We want to save money to make a down payment on a new car when one is needed.
  • Although I'm not sure about this, I think having a mortgage may result in more financial aid when the boys go to college. Even if we paid an extra 1K a month (ouch!), we wouldn't pay off the mortgage for another eleven years, which is about the time our first will be heading off to college. My guess is his college would be happy to help us out with that sudden extra cash flow.
We've set up a plan with ShareBuilder where we invest regularly each month, some in the stock market, and some in a money market account. I really like having the money taken out automatically -- much less temptation to spend it instead of saving it each month. Yet if we need it, it's there and available to us.

We don't have credit card debt to pay off, and rollup into the next debt. But we will use future raises to increase our ShareBuilder allotment, and when we pay off our HELOC, we'll increase our savings amount by that figure (as we did recently with our car payment).

If we didn't have an automatic savings plan, or our weren't disciplined enough to use it, paying off the mortgage might work -- but I think it's a big risk to put extra money into a mortgage without an emergency savings stash.

There are a lot of articles on both sides of this argument -- I like this one: