Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Double Take

I just published this post on the sisters' blog, but I want my little book review and comments on here too.  By the way, check out the sister blog!  www.fivesistersfivefamilies.blogspot.com.  If you are looking for recipes, menus, desserts, birthday cake idea, or tidbits of financial advice, check it out!

March Madness is almost over, but the madness at our house will continue on with cutting back on groceries. The New Year pay check came with a slight inflation raise and a cut on Social Security/Medicaid taxes, giving us another little chunk of money each money. The hopes of spending more on groceries was the plan, but so were other financial goals--one being the kids' college funds. The goals won.

We opened up our eldest son's college fund just two weeks ago.  Cutting back in groceries has freed up money to help us reach this goal.  We have four more kids to open funds for, but at least the oldest has somewhat of a start.  In 2009 our budgeted money for groceries was about $350 per month and at times I would spend upwards of $400.  (To this day I am still working on staying in budget!) But now that we're spending less money on groceries (which I DO want to increase someday), about $200 to $225, that frees up about $100 to $150 extra a month to put towards goals....like a college fund!

I recently finished this book by Zac Bissonnette.  This is my first book I've read about kids and college.  Clark is only 7, but after hearing about this book on the Dave Ramsey show I wanted to read it.  I am glad I did.  I could probably fit all I liked about this book into one, short chapter.  But, I would recommend reading the whole thing. 

                                      Image from Amazon.com
Lee and I were really blessed and our parents were able to help some financially with our schooling.  They didn't pay everything--we definitely had to work--but we were both blessed by their help. We'd like to do the same for our children.  Possibly a we'll-pay-tuition-and-books-and-you-pay-housing-and-food type of deal. The old addage Time is Money applies to me right now.  I have time on my side and should put it to use and have interest as a partner--not enemy.There were a couple of things I leaned in this book that I had never thought of (not too hard for me though!). My favorite was this:

Anyone...who says the current levels of student loan debt won't have a material impact on people's ability to build wealth is full of it...

...How would student loan debt have impacted your financial life? The average graduate will spend about $200 per month on student loan debt for twenty years before she's finally free. Were you rolling in dough to the extent that you could have done that when you were in your twenties and thirties?  Given that more than half of Americans don't have enough in savings for retirement, the answer is most likely no. Let's add some numbers to the mix to make this more (or less) fun.  Student 1 graduates with the national average in student loan debt.  He spends the next twenty years dutifully sending in $200 per month.  He does no saving.  Student 2 graduates with no student loan debt and spends the next twenty years dutifully saving $200 per month and investing it at 11 percent per year.  He does no other saving.

After twenty years Student 1 will have achieved a net worth of zero. Congratulations! After twenty years, Student 2 will have $173,126.61.  At this point, let's say that both graduates are forty-one years old, and have another twenty-four years until they reach retirement.  Student 2 lets his savings ride and contributes nothing more. By the time he reaches retirement, he will have $2,397,069.89.  All because he didn't have to make a couple hundred bucks a month in student loan payments. That's the average. If your child's monthly payments are $400 a month, double all those numbers.  And, of course, life can intervene with the ability to make payments.  If your child misses a payment or two for whatever reason, fees and charges can turn it into a real mess. 

A woman recently e-mailed me to say that she and her husband have a combined $60,000 in student loan debt and refer to it as the little ski lodge in Wisconsin that they'll never actually have.  

 Wow.  I had never though of student loans like that--as being able to reduce my ability to build wealth.  If Lee and I had come out of school with no loans, how awesome would it have been to have invested $38,000 right out of school?! We were extremely blessed though, and paid off our loans in one year.  And truthfully, I don't know how we would have done school otherwise.  

Now we are working hard to have future funds available to our kids when they go to college. This way once kids start college we won't have to use any (or hopefully hardly any) of our income at that future time. And when college rolls around my husband and I can buy a BMW instead of paying college tuition. 

So next time I am eating ramen, I just need to remind myself of the future good we're accomplishing. (Which for the record, we only eat once or twice a month.)


                                              Image from ednewscolorado.org

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happyland Maryland

For spring break last week we headed out to Maryland, promptly at 2:00 am, to see my sister Lois and her family. She had a baby back in December and I finally made it out to spoil her as if she just had her baby. We had a wonderful time with them and Jeff spoiled us by making delicious desserts....like homemade ice cream and molten lava cakes! Lois and I enjoyed some fun times together while shopping, attending to the Relief Society birthday party at her ward, and visiting one of her friends that is expecting twins. I am excited that we will be moving by the Heits. I am sad we only had a week there! Here are some highlights of the trip:

Sunday night Jeff made some yummy rainbow cupcakes topped with whipped cream...YUM!
Mar 13 2011 Reed Cal Shanna Elden Haley Clark

Mar 13 2011 Ruth & Lois

Sunday night I pulled Cal's tooth out.  Just a few days before he told us it was loose.  On our drive to Maryland Lee noticed that his adult tooth had already grown in.  We didn't want to wait around for his baby tooth to fall out.  I was glad that Cal willingly let me pull it out---and that he wasn't traumatized from us pulling out two of Clark's teeth.  You can see his other tooth in the picture!
Mar 13 2011

Mar 14 2011 Cal, first tooth prize

Mar 14 2011 Reed Heit Haley Clark

Lois, Blake, Shanna and I made a stop at Georgetown cupcakes.
Mar 14 2011 Ruth & Shanna, Georgetown Cupcakes, Bethesda MD

Mar 14 2011 Shanna

Mar 14 Shanna

Elden turned TWO earlier this month and we waited a couple of days to celebrate with Lois and co.

The outline of the cake....can you tell what it is? Lee did a great job "designing" the cake.
Mar 14 2011 Elden 2nd bday cake

Ta da!  Thanks Lee for helping me with it!
Mar 14 2011 Elden and dog

Elden LOVES dog.  He'll have to be content with fake dogs though.
Mar 14 2011 Elden (2)

Looking quite happy and ready for cake!  At age two the medical people stop adjusting Elden's age. He can almost jump and lately has been saying a lot more words.  He seems to be developing well!  Heavenly Father has greatly blessed him. 
Mar 14 2011 Elden (5)

Mar 14 2011 Elden Shanna Clark Haley

He had lots of helpers in blowing out the candles. I re-lit them so he could do it all on his own.
Mar 14 2011 Shanna Clark Elden Haley Reed Heit

Elden blowing out the candles.  He looks so proud of himself at the end. 

Lois made Elden a DARLING super hero cape. Thanks Lois!  His other sole present (Duck the train) is still unopened....Elden doesn't know about it yet.  I need to remember to get it out today!
Mar 14 2011 Elden bday cape from Lois Heit

Jeff made yummy homemade chocolate chip ice cream.  Thanks Jeff!
Mar 14 2011 Elden 2nd bday cake (2)

Lee, Elden and I took a day and went to Virginia to go job hunting.  A sign that I couldn't resist snapping a picture of.
Mar 15 2011 Virginia

On St. Patrick's Day we went to a park nearby.  Shanna seems to have some leprechaun magic!
Mar 17 2011 Shanna

Mar 17 2011 Cal Shanna Haley

Mar 17 2011 Reed Heit

Mar 17 2011 Ruth Cal

Mar 17 2011 Elden Reed Heit, Cal Shanna Haley Clark

Lois, I am excited to live by you!!!
Mar 17 2011 Lois Heit Ruth

Blake is such a sweet baby.  What a doll!! I loved holding him.  Sorry I didn't help out more with him Lois!
Mar 17 2011 Blake Heit

Elden tuckered out our last full day there.  Well, I actually never put him down for a nap. 
Mar 18 2011 Elden at Heit's in Germantown MD

We had a wonderful visit and a safe drive home.  Lee even got bits and pieces of the BYU game Saturday night.  GO BYU!!!  With all the trips we go on, it is always nice pulling into the drive way unharmed and home safe.  Though, as with most trips, we wish this one would have lasted longer...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Leprechauns and Limonata

It is exciting that March is here.  We have a fun month planned--the big part being a wonderful visit with my sister Lois. Normal life carries on as usual, and I like that.  Last week Cal had a school project to either color a rainbow or make a leprechaun trap...he chose the trap.  I let Lee be in charge of making the trap--isn't that nice a me?  It is really funny because Clark and Cal were at my sister's one year during St. Patrick's Day.  They made leprechaun traps--which the little fellows escaped. The leprechauns even managed to color the milk green!  Clark and Cal do not believe in Santa but they believe in leprechauns.  Too funny.
March 2 2011 Cal and Lee making leprechaun trap

March 2 2011 Lee making trap

I was talking to my sister a couple weeks ago about her new date night idea. She wanted to mix things up a bit and make date nights, well, a date night.  Not just a let's-hang-out-watch-a-movie-or-tv-show, but a "real" date. Yes, being together is wonderful; but it's better when a bit more preparation has gone into the evening than a click of a remote. I loved the idea and talked about it with Lee and we are now doing the same! We take turns, rotating every week.  For the first date we went to the fitness center on base to play racquetball. Of course luck would have it that a tournament was in session that night.  So dressed up in workout clothes we played pingpong instead.  After we went home and enjoyed homemade smoothies before the kids came home.

Lee's turn was this week.  I had a fun surprise awaiting me when I checked my email Thursday night! 
March 3 2011 Lee's date

I sat upstairs Friday night with the kids and read while they fell asleep.  When I came down Lee had this all set out: yummy finger foods that we never buy (and good thing too as they aren't "healthy" foods) and one of our indulgences, San Pellegrino Limonata.  
March 4 2011 Date night!

I thought it was so funny that he chilled the Italian lemonade.  Lee and I love this stuff.  If you are at Costco, buy some!  SO GOOD! 
March 4 2011 Date night

We had a regular game night like we have about once a month, but the little note on the computer and all the foods and preparation he did made it so incredibly fun!  We also watched Lord of the Rings part one that night (can't remember what it is called).  I have never seen any of the Lord of the Rings' movies before. I already have a plan for this week, but of course I don't want to spoil the surprise!

I would love to hear any of your date night ideas!!! I hope to keep this going for a long time.

In other news, I think I mentioned Haley in the last post, but she is doing well.  Monday morning she had her tongue clipped--well the extra tissue under her tongue, plus the rest of her right-ear skin tag removed.  She has been great about not touching her ear which is wonderful.

Some new neighbors moved in Sunday night and they are also in our ward (local church congregation).  We had them over for Family Home Evening with another couple in the ward.  We had a great time and I am excited they are our neighbors!

We had Stake Conference this weekend, which we always enjoy.  Some wonderful young women in our ward set up a nursery during the Saturday adult session.  It was great going with Lee.  Usually we go sit in the Relief Society room or the High Council room and listen in over the sound system.  For the Sunday session we listened to a broadcast from Salt Lake City.  President Eyring spoke along with Bishop Burton, Elden Quentin L. Cook and Mary Cook. Bishop Burton was telling a story about Joseph Fielding Smith shopping a at small grocery store, but the broadcast kept cutting out and we didn't hear the whole story.  If anyone else heard it, please tell me the rest of the story!!!

Time for bed (usually happens when I am doing a blog post!) but I have a funny story to add.  Clark enjoyed hearing that his ancestors are from Scotland and England.  He mainly talks about the Scotland side because that is where Lee is from.  Well, last week Clark was tested to see if he knew English...or something of the sorts.  We had put on his school paper work--as we do every year--that two languages are spoken at home.  The other being Spanish.  (It's the last time I am doing that!)  So, they pulled him into testing.  Anyway, he was explaining this to me at home and I was somewhat confused till I got a letter from the superintendent--a different, boring story.  At dinner one night he talked about his test again and said they probably tested him because he was from Scotland.  Ahh....too funny.  I got a laugh out of that.

Have a fabulous week all!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Some Robertson happenings over the past few weeks:

A few weeks ago, I made some cinnamon rolls last minute for a bedtime snack.  After baths, the kids had fun helping and we had a fun time (despite three cinnamon rolls being dropped...guess I put too much blue frosting on them...yes, blue frosting).
Feb 10, 2011

Feb 10, 2011 Cal Clark

Feb 10, 2011 Cal

My grandma Lena passed away Feb. 12th and I decided to go out to the funeral.  Elden joined me.  His first plane ride!
Feb 12, 2011

We flew into Salt Lake and my parents picked me up.  They added me as a driver on the rental car and because of my military id I was added for free!  WOO HOO!  We drove down to Provo, did some errands and had lunch at the BYU Creamery on 9th.  A must stop from now on.  We all got the kids' meal and they are YUMMY!  Lee's parents were actually in Provo that day and I am sad I missed seeing them.  I should have called them!
Feb 12, 2011 Elden at BYU Creamery

Feb 12, 2011 Ruth & Elden Creamery

YUM YUM!  Good 'ol BYU ice cream!
Feb 12, 2011 Darrell & Lois

Elden at the Wilk.  You got to start them young!
Feb 12, 2011 Elden at Wilkinson Center

I love the wordage on the windows.
Feb 12, 2011 Wilkinson Center

The ever-yummy candy counter at the BYU Bookstore.  Cinnamon bears were a must buy!  But since it was Valentine's Day weekend, I bought the cinnamon lips instead.  LOVE THE STUFF.
Feb 12, 2011 BYU Bookstore Candy Counter

Feb 12, 2011 Elden BYU Bookstore

The oh so cool Harold B Lee Library.  Doesn't hold as many memories as the Ricks library, but still a very cool place.  Last fall we showed our kids the moving bookshelves.  I'm not sure that was the right thing to do, but they absolutely loved it.  A little too much.
Feb 12, 2011 Harold B Lee Library, BYU

One of my fabulous sisters, Stephanie.  She took us to her graduate student office (see below) and showed us around a little at the Eyring Science Center.  She is getting her Master's in Food Science--one smart lady!  Her husband is also going to school getting his law degree at BYU.
Feb 12, 2011 Stephanie Gerla Grad Desk

I visited my good friend Kelly while in Provo.  We served together in LA during our 18 month proselyting mission. I enjoyed seeing her and wish we could get together more often!
Feb 12, 2011 Kelly Memmott & Ruth

We had a nice evening at Steph and Andy's---they made us some AWESOME pizza for dinner.
Feb 12, 2011 Elden at Gerla's

Sunday after church Steph, Lena, Keith, Elden and I rode to St. George together for the viewing and the funeral.  It was a really fun road trip!  I loved visiting with two of my sisters.  So so fun. I drove down....with out cruise control.

The oldest brother (the PhD student) and the youngest sister (the Master student) at the viewing.
Feb 13, 2011 Stephanie Gerla and Darrell Bartholomew

Elden and Thomas.  Thomas is always so cute with Elden.
Feb 13, 2011 Elden and Thomas Bunker

Lena and Uncle Steven.  It was wonderful seeing lots of family!
Feb 13, 2011 Lena and Uncle Steven Bartholomew

Feb 13, 2011 Grandma Lena Bartholomew funeral viewing, St. George UT (2)

Cousins Sara and Heidi with me and Steph
Feb 13, 2011, Sara Bartholomew, Heid Simonsen, Ruth & Steph Gerla

Feb 13, 2011 Hyrum Bunker, Elden

Feb 13, 2011 Elden and Hyrum Bunker

Awww....kisses from Grandma!
Feb 13, 2011 Elden and Grandma Lois

The world travelers Shawna and Sam
Feb 13, 2011 Shawna & Sam Bartholomew

Just some of the family there that evening
Feb 13, 2011 Grandma Lena Bartholomew funeral viewing, St. George UT (5)

Feb 13, 2011 Elden and Sam

After the viewing we went to the Mortensen's.  We knew them from when we lived in Barron, Wisconsin.  Now they live in St. George and are in the same stake as my aunt and uncle.  Small world!  It was great seeing Deborah and some of her kids!
Feb 13, 2011 Thomas, Deb & Hyrum Bunker

Feb 13, 2011 Steph and Elden and Makenzie Bunker at Mortensens, St. George UT

The beautiful St. George Temple.
Feb 13, 2011 St. George UT

The next day at the funeral. Elden slept during the funeral, which I was very grateful.  It was a beautiful service. Elden and my cousin Jonathen.
Feb 14, 2011 Elden and Jonathen Bartholomew

Cousin Holly and her husband (and now cousin) Commodore.
Feb 14, 2011 Elden and Commodore & Holly Rush

Feb 14, 2011 Elden and Granda Darrell

On Sunday night and on Monday after the funeral we went to Uncle Lee's and Aunt Anna Lee.  They took care of my grandma for 5 1/2 years.  Amazing people and wonderful examples to me and my family!  Elden loves dogs and had fun chasing this one around a little.
Feb 14, 2011 Elden and dog at Aunt Anna Lee's, St. George, UT

 Monday afternoon we toured the winter home of Brigham Young. 
Feb 14, 2011 Brigham Young House, St. George Utah

Feb 14, 2011 Brigham Young House, St. George Utah (2)

This chair is made of real horse hair!
Feb 14, 2011 Brigham Young House, St. George Utah (3)

Three of the five sisters. Great photo...even if I do look pregnant.
Feb 14, 2011 Brigham Young House, St. George Utah Ruth, Elden, Steph Gerla, Keith & Lena Erekson

I had an overnight flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta to St. Louis.  On the way to the Vegas airport I was thinking about the car and why it didn't have cruise control.  One reason it struck me as odd as it had a leather interior (VW Jetta).  Well, I looked around a low and behold, there was cruise control!!!  Wish I would have figured that out before the 4 hour drive to St. George!

I left Vegas close to 11pm and arrived in Atlanta around 4:30am.  With the time changes it was only a three hour flight.  I was so tired of sitting up and holding Elden though.  I just lined my stuff up against some chairs, hooked my backpack through my hand, lied down and went to sleep--holding Elden on my belly of course.  I figured if someone wanted the suitcase or stroller or car seat, feel free.  As long as they didn't take my back pack I didn't care.  And luckily all things were there when I woke up! As the shuttle parked by my van at the airport parking place I saw Lee drive in.  He was headed out to Washington, D.C. for a traumatic brain injury conference.  We had a brief two minute reuniting and then he left and I left.  I made it back in time for Clark's choir concert.

Feb 15, 2011 Clark 2nd grade music program, Mrs. Smith

The concert was done at about 2:30, but I pulled Clark and Cal out and took them home with me.  I was not going to go to the school an hour later to get my kids. 

Now it is March and normal life continues on.  We've had some friends over to play games, friends over for FHE, had some stomach bug while Lee was gone (four of us throwing up), took Haley to surgery on Monday to get her tongue clipped and her skin tag removed a second time, sold another optometry book online, bought some stuff, went to the temple, and welcomed home my younger brother Sheldon from his two year mission.   And to top it all off, spring seems to be on its way and I'm loving the sunshine and warmer weather!