Sunday, March 29, 2009

So Blessed.

I've been wanting to write this post for a couple of weeks now, but just never came across the perfect opportunity to get serious. We've been having too much fun lately for serious posts!

BUT...I do need to write about the numerous ways we have been blessed lately, during Will's unemployment...

But to make it fun, I'm interjecting pictures of Preston in here because I know the grandparents will be wondering why I didn't put Preston pics in.

I hope you don't mind the mamarazzi in me...

As many of you know, Will lost his job towards the end of November. He had been working in the Finance department at John Buchan Homes as an estimator for almost 4 years. It was his first job right out of Grad School, and what a great job it was. In the end, he was literally the last to go, as they only kept one estimator after laying him off and she had been with the company for about 10 years.

Just before the lay-off happened, we had witnessed many other employees getting laid off. In fact, JFB Homes went from an office staff of 125 employees in 2007, down to about 25 employees by the end of 2008. It was a rather sad and hard time.
Here's another Preston pic. :) He loves the vacuum, in case you couldn't tell.

We really did plan ahead for a situation like this in case it ever did arise. We had been putting money away into a savings account that equated to about 4 months of survival (including all the regular budget items such as rent, bills, insurance, gas, food, etc,...even our own personal "fun" allowances were included).

Will put this savings account into some investment accounts, which helped make our little "emergency fund" slightly larger. Well, that is before the stock market crash happened. Then I think we went from a 5 month savings down to a 3 month savings. LOL. But anyway...

We'd also been stocking up on food storage - thanks to Will. He's been very adamant about that for a long time.

Time for another Preston pic.


But even with all of our preparations, we have been blessed in ways that we couldn't have foreseen. God has surely sent earthly angels into our lives to lighten our burden during this time. These were all things that came as complete surprises to us and were such blessings in disguise.

  • Right after Christmas, our bishop handed us an envelope. He said that the ward had some extra "items" that were donated by ward members during tithing settlement. We were curious but had no idea what was inside. When we opened it later, we found 3 giftcards to Fred Meyer - one for $100, and 2 for $50 each. We actually used it to go towards buying Will a new suit because the one he had been wearing (since his mission) was wearing out, and he would be needing a new one for job interviews.

  • My visiting teachers from church on many different occassions would bring dinner by, sometimes unexpectedly. They claimed that they just happened to have "extra" and thought it would be a nice break for us.

  • We also received several dinner invitations from friends.

  • The Relief Society President called in February and said she was worried about us (and others) in our ward who had lost their jobs and wanted to know if the Relief Society could provide dinner for us once a week for a month. I told her it wasn't necessary but she insisted, so I accepted. What a blessing it was....every single time that a meal was delivered it happened to fall on a day where it was sorely needed.

  • The owner of our piano called me last month (we lease our grand piano from a private owner). I was afraid that she was going to ask where our payment was - which we normally pay for 6 months in advance all at once. But we kept forgetting to get the payment in the mail for the Jan - June payment. I had the check all ready to go, just kept forgetting to stick it in the mail. To my great surprise, she called and said she had just been thinking about us and that she wanted to decrease our payments. I said "What?" I heard the word "decrease" but thought for sure she must have said "increase". But no she said decrease. She said she knew how bad the economy was right now and figured she didn't need the money anyway and so she decreased the monthly lease payments by half, and also told us to not worry about paying until June.


  • In January, my piano student enrollment went up by 5 students making my total count 11 piano students and 1 violin student. While we keep my music income seperate from our family income, this has been a blessing to help me complete my album sooner...which in turn will bring in additional future income and well, also just help me get it done faster so I can go back to being a fulltime wife and mom. :)

  • We have been fortunate enough to have good health. While Preston and I have health insurance, Will does not right now and he is the one doing all of the crazy races and adventures. We are lucky that he hasn't needed health insurance. :)

  • We have had friends donate items that have saves us from having to purchase them ourselves - such as toys for Preston, additional food storage items, etc.

  • We have been able to qualify for WIC, which if you are not familiar with it, it is a government program for mothers and children where they may either be unemployed or under a certain income requirement. Through this program we have been able to save about $200 a month on grocery items such as milk, cheese, tuna, baby cereal, and juice.

  • This might be kind of selfish, but I personally am grateful that I have had the opportunity to work on my music for this album. I can honestly say that it would have taken me twice as long to complete had I not had Will here to help me with Preston during the day. I am also grateful that the two of them have had this time together.



One more thing, you have noticed that I mentioned earlier in my post that we had put away 3 months of savings, and here we are 5 months later after the layoff. It is definitely due to several things - for one my husband somehow grows money magically on trees. Okay I'm kidding, but he is pretty amazing with a budget and somehow we seem to always get by. Thanks to also paying tithing faithfully, the Lord gives back ALWAYS. And most of all, the help we have received from friends and family through the things I have mentioned here have helped us to continue to make it through.

There are many many more things that I could list, but I'll stop here. THANK YOU to those angels who have helped us. You know who you are.

I think it is a great act to serve someone, but it is harder to accept service from others. So many times lately I have wanted to be able to donate money or food, but I am reminded that at this time our family is on the recipient end of things. I hope that someday when our situation is reversed that we will be able to help other people in need with our abundance.

And now...for more Preston pictures. :)

Peek-a-boo...



Friday, March 27, 2009

Free Music!


My good friend Lori Cunningham recently released her debut album "Unseen", and as a limited time promotion she is giving away some free tracks.

Her style is ambient, some techno, some clubdance. From her website she describes her music as:

Lori Cunningham is a classically trained vocalist wanting to break free from the classical mold, to explore her world unseen. Unbound by genre, Lori appeals to all listeners with her ethereal vocals mixed with an eclectic array of downtempo instrumentations. Her music begs you to listen, to feel every note and every word. “Unseen,” Lori Cunningham's debut album, features thirteen beautiful original works ranging from soaring vocalizes set in soothing soundscapes to complex instrumentations that interweave driving beats with Lori's intricate vocal style. While each song is unique, they all invoke you to experience emotions unseen by most. The album includes collaborations with Adam Amos, Katie Reeve, n pa productions, and lyricists Donna Coleman and Rose. “Unseen” is now available for purchase at http://www.msplinks.com/MDFodHRwOi8vd3d3LmxvcmljbXVzaWMuY29tLw== , itunes, www.amazon.com, and http://www.adifferentdrum.com/.

So get some free music, and if you like it I highly encourage buying the entire album. Support independent artists! :) You won't be sorry - she's awesome!

Here's the link for the download...

https://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=batch_download&send_id=667095133&email=67ed7550cacb1ee6c01d7aa3d3c800cb


The link expires next Monday, if I remember correctly. So hurry!

- J

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy 4th Anniversary to Us!

On this day, 4 years ago, March 25, 2005...

Will Thomas and Jennifer Southworth were married for Time and Eternity in the LDS Portland Oregon Temple at 10:00 a.m.

I still remember being so excited the night before, I couldn't sleep. After a year and a half of dating, I was ready to be married to you. :)

I remember walking with you into the Temple Sealing Room and you almost tripped on the hem of my wedding dress as we walked in together. :)

I remembered it rained and rained all week, but on the day of our wedding, the sun was shining and the flowers were out in bloom.


I remember dancing with you at our reception and feeling like we were the only ones in the room.

I remember being impressed that you remembered to take my flip-flop off before removing my garter. Smart guy. ;)

I remember that we were nice to each other and didn't smash cake on each other's faces...and how yummy the cake was too. Mmmm I want some right now.

I remember both of our families being there and how much fun it was.

I remember taking a 14 day honeymoon with you and not having a care in the world.

I remember shorts, flip-flops, sun, and lots of fun in Cancun, Mexico.


Most of all, I remember us and the love that we have for each other, and how lucky we are to have found each other.


Happy Anniversary to us. I love you Will and look forward to many more wonderful years and memories to come.

Honeybucket!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Whisked Away to Whistler

My how time flies.

Not much has changed in 4 years. Same goofy smiles. Just more gray hairs (Will, not me), and more love.

This year, our anniversary coincided with a trip to Whistler, BC that we'd been planning with a few friends. Not exactly the private getaway we usually do for our anniversary, but we ended up not being short on any one-on-one time. Yay!

We left this little one with Grandma & Grandpa S. for 3 days...

While we headed across the border to...


Will arranged a horse-drawn sleigh ride for us..

The view of Whistler village at night was magical.


I serenaded Will by singing "Dashing through the snow, on a two-horse open sleigh, Bells on bobtail sing, laughing all the way ha-ha-ha-ha...".

A romantic 3 course fondue dinner at the Country Club followed the sleigh ride.


We finally made it to our accomodations...

Where we found our friends, who had all spent the day skiing and were ready for game night.


And let me tell you, there were some:


Even after skiing each day, everyone still stayed up until the wee hours of the morning playing around.



I think everyone was excited to be couples for the weekend instead of parents.

Except we can honestly say, that seeing the cute little 3 year olds waddling around single-file in their ski classes like little penguins made us miss Preston terribly. I wanted to grab one of them and give them a huge snuggly hug. That probably would have been weird though.

On Saturday, Will and I went skiing. It was bitter-sweet.

Sweet because Will got to try out his new Salomon skis, and I finally fit into my ski pants again.

But bitter because my ski boots weren't cooperating and so I had to get rental boots, which ended up being a 1/2 size too small and I didn't notice until after we'd already gotten up on the slopes and it made skiing miserable for me.

I now have two bruised toes and some sore shins. Owwie. But I will say that Will was SO nice to me. He patiently endured my complaints about numb toes and even switched me skis and boots. I actually tested out his new skis more than he did. Sorry Will.

In case you weren't aware, Whistler has a new gondola that I heard is either the highest or longest one in the world.




It's quite the experience. It's more like riding in an airplane than being on a ski lift.

You are seriously majorly high up there. I don't know if you can see from these next two pictures, but look how far down the ground is.

After skiing, we went out to dinner at Milestones Restaurant with Grace and Dan.



And then upon returning back to the condo, Will and Dan watched the national curling championships while Grace and I made a mess in the kitchen.


The great thing about being in Canada, is that you can find candy that you can't find in the U.S.

I've been craving these babies for two years and finally picked up a stash...

Will bought a stash of KinderEggs.

The bad thing about being in Canada is if you happen to do this...

These peeps are absolutely:

We ran out of gas right when we got to Stanley Park in Vancouver on our way on Sunday. Yeah, don't ask. Long story.

Anyway.

If you know Stanley Park, then you know how huge it is. We walked all the way over to the police station inside the park for help, which happened to be the mounted police.

The only human officer we could find (everyone else seemed to be horses), told us while chewing on a sandwich that the only thing he could do for us was to call a tow truck. Gee, thanks. A U.S. policeman would totally have given us a ride to a gas station, waited for us to fill up a gas can, and then given us a ride back to our car.

So that was a fun adventure. We got to see a lot more of downtown Vancouver than we had originally planned on thanks to our hour and 1/2 walk to the gas station and back.

Aside from our gas adventure though, we did get to see some pretty sites on the way home...

Here, this one actually doesn't cut our heads off.








Anyway, we finally made it back to Grandma & Grandpa's house late Sunday night. The little guy was asleep though. But I got to see him bright and early at 5am the next morning. He giggled when he saw me. :)

Apparently, Grandma must be magic. Preston slept through the night two nights in a row. That NEVER happens.

While we were gone, Preston worked really hard on his skills. He is very close to mastering the sitting-to-crawling position.

He gets about this far and stops, although has no fear of edges.

I missed these:

He also can clap now. That is new.

Oh, and at his 9 month appointment last week, the pediatrician said that these two puppies are right under the gumline.

If you click on the photo, you can see how his gums are a little bit lighter in color right there.

Those are his soon-to-be-two-front-teeth.

Preston had some great bonding time with:


I swear he grew during those 3 days though. I've been looking at him all day today thinking that he looks so much older to me.

Anyway, Preston is a...

G&G, thanks for watching him so we could have a fun wedding anniversary.
It's nice to be back at home as a family now though.

4 years down, Eternity to go. :)