2020 …

How do you open a letter about 2020 and say something that hasn’t already been said a million times? It’s been a weird and wild year, at times wonderful and sometimes ridiculously hard. We’re guessing that’s been your experience too.

Visiting Powell Gardens with friends at the end of 2019. We’ll miss seeing them this Christmas.

When the year began, we had no idea what would come. Looking back now, seeing our friend David Wayne Reed’s show Goliath to start 2020 may have been a bit of preparation. His own stories are stranger/better than fiction and inspire faith that we can face what life throws at us and come out better on the other side.

But in early 2020, we were simply trying to keep up with what was life at the time. Work was busy for Jon and Kate. Ian was enjoying school and lego club, and Kate had begun helping with a winterguard program at his school in addition to volunteering as a reading mentor. Jon was wrapping up his time playing with Mr. Golden Sun and we tried to hang out with friends as much as possible.

We bought tickets at the last minute to see Pepperland by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Kansas City Ballet’s Swan Lake in February – very different from each other, but both were spectacular. At the end of the month, we hosted a house show with Little Spoon River and friends Nate Allen of Good Saint Nathaniel and Marty Hillard of Ebony Tusks. March brought the only performance of the school winterguard, which was incredibly fun for Kate to be a part of, along with Ebony Tusks and Elevator Division shows and dinners with friends.

It seemed almost excessive at the moment, but we ended up being grateful we spent a lot of time with people, music, and art we love. It turned out that we got to enjoy them all leading up to the world shutting down.

The rest of the spring is a blur. All three of us suddenly doing everything at home was rough. Jon had the impossible task of trying to guide teachers through suddenly working with special education students online. Kate’s job was busier than ever as nonprofits had to adjust all fundraising and communications efforts. After a welcome and smooth transition to a new school in the fall, Ian struggled with no longer being in person with friends and a teacher he appreciated. Two parents working full-time in jobs that needed attention didn’t often work well with a child at home who needed interaction and some assistance with distance learning.

We knew it was exhausting at the time, but are just realizing how difficult it was for each of us. And it has remained so to some extent. We’re all still at home, trying to navigate getting everything done for jobs while giving Ian what time we can. It’s better, but still not easy. And at this point, it’s how things will be for a while as jobs and school plan to keep everyone at home for now.

Our niece (Ian’s cousin) turned two this summer, and Kate’s brother and sister-in-law took some family pictures at the birthday party.

There was some breathing room over the summer as Jon had time off and was able to do a virtual summer school with Ian, but those months brought other things to wrestle with. We left our church. It was a couple of years in coming and for a range of concerns, but still heavy after being there a decade. We’ve got more questions than answers as we process events in our lives over those same years, yet we have faith and are slowly figuring out what to make of that. We saw racial and political issues in the country reach levels we’ve not experienced in our lifetime. While those things continue to push many further apart as people in power and their supporters fight to hold on to what they think they deserve, it’s brought a lot of important conversations. We’ve always talked with Ian about what we believe, how we want to live, and why. This year has made talks more detailed and frequent, especially as protests occurred near our home. Much of what has happened touches people and parts of the city we care about. We hope we can do our small part, and teach him to do his, to make this a better place.

And yet, in everything, there are reasons to be grateful. The three of us have valued a walkable neighborhood and wonderful outdoor spaces around the Kansas City area, particularly along the Missouri River. We’ve tried to support our favorite local restaurants and shops as much as we can and are glad they’re surviving so far. Occasional get-togethers with a few friends and regular visits with Jon’s dad and step-mom have been bright spots. In a search for something to do in place of soccer, Ian ended up taking a virtual ballet class and was surprised by how much he liked it. Kate’s loved seeing him try out dance and discover a new interest. Being an only child home with parents is tough, but we’re thankful for his creativity, curiosity, and love of legos as well as the technology for him to chat with friends.

School at home, never a dull moment.

We’re also very grateful for the schools we’re connected to and the thoughtfulness and immense amount of work done by leaders and staff. We already had a lot of respect for Jon’s principal and many of his co-workers and the teachers and administrators at Ian’s school, but they have been incredible throughout this year. It’s been encouraging to see them do everything they can for the kids they serve. We know 2020 has looked very different in various schools here and around the country (and the world), and we’re so thankful for where we are. Learning from home is far from ideal, but our schools are making the best of it.

As huge numbers of people go into the holiday season dealing with loss, we’re grateful we’ve been healthy and not endured the pain, suffering, and hardships forced on others. We’ve tried to be safe during the pandemic, partly out of our desire to take it seriously and do what we can to slow the spread and partly to be able to spend time with family who needs people to be careful. We’re glad we have jobs and schools that have made that possible. As insane as much of 2020 has been, we know people are facing much crazier circumstances than us and too many who’ve lost family, friends, jobs, and more. We’re praying that maybe something will start to shift and the needs of people will be more of a concern that drives action and change.

A last-minute birthday/anniversary selfie at home seems like the appropriate way to capture 2020.

We’re looking forward to Christmas. It’s a little bittersweet because we’ve not seen Kate’s parents in a year and don’t know when we will, but we’re ready for a few quiet days to fully stop and enjoy what we can and attempt to prepare for what may come next. This year we’ve gained a bit of clarity on ourselves, both good and bad, and learned we can hold some things loosely while more deeply understanding what is important and needed in our lives. We’re going into 2021 hoping to continue learning and finding the people to do it with.

In last year’s letter, we mentioned something Jon had written: “Maybe I should also, in humility, consider others more important than myself. Maybe I should try to love my neighbor as myself. It’s becoming pretty clear that love is the protest.” That thought shapes our hopes and prayers now even more than we could’ve imagined a year ago. We fail at showing love to each other and the people around us all the time, but we’re trying. And we’re praying that love takes root in hearts and our world in needed ways in the months ahead.

Wherever this finds you, whatever your 2020 looked like, we hope your Christmas is marked by peace and joy.

And we hope to see you in 2021,

The Smiths

Ian loved seeing bald eagles, swans, cranes and swirls of migrating geese at the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge. We enjoyed a day with Jon’s dad and stepmom as they introduced us to this amazing spot.

2018: Expect the Unexpected

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

We hope those of you reading this are doing well. We’re glad to have a little time at home to rest from a crazy year and whirlwind autumn and attempt to ready ourselves for whatever 2019 may bring.

At the start of 2018 we knew there would likely be changes in our lives, but we had no idea what that would mean. Kate was in a weird work situation where things didn’t seem to be improving and she reached a point of knowing it was time to start looking for something else, Jon was made aware of upcoming openings in his school district and began hoping to move up, Ian being in kindergarten and starting soccer was slightly changing some of our time and we started hosting a small group with our church.

In the spring, Kate was one of several people let go from her office (and sadly more have lost jobs since she was laid off). We were hoping she’d find something before anything like that happened, but obviously it was not to be. It was hard to see things fall apart with a job she’d left a few years before and been asked to return to with promises of needed change, but it was also nice to be free from some stress and anxiety and have time for school parties and field trips as Ian finished his first year.

Ian and Lu

We love that Baby Lu is here!

Ian enjoyed kindergarten and his favorite subjects were art and science. He also had fun playing soccer in the spring with kids from his class. As Kate kept job hunting and doing freelance work, we unexpectedly had a summer together at home as a family, which has never happened. We know that time is something we’ll probably always remember, especially since it brought a new cousin! Kate’s brother and sister-in-law had their daughter in June. Baby Lu surprised everyone arriving a month early, but is doing great and is a joy to be around. We loved visits with her and her parents, and had extended family in town as more people came to meet Lucy. We’re glad we had the time to be with everyone.

Going into the fall, Jon had several interviews and was offered a process coordinator position where he would oversee special ed services in a building in his district. He decided to accept, but was not expecting to be assigned to an elementary school – a level he’s never taught. He was able to have some good conversations about his career goals and was told this would be a positive step for him. We’re grateful that it seems to be a good fit. His principal is one of the best he’s ever worked with and he’s learning a lot. He’s happy to be able to help teachers do well and support an excellent administrator, and it’s been encouraging to see how he’s been welcomed and respected in a new role.

Jon and Kate

We enjoyed a night out with friends at the KC Rep’s Fearless Fete this summer. Thanks to the Kimmerlys for a fun evening supporting theater.

Around the time Jon changed jobs, Kate accepted a position with a small marketing agency that primarily works with nonprofits, including a few associations. She’s also been grateful to find a place where she feels wanted on the team and has some fantastic coworkers. It has been and continues to be a big adjustment as it’s not the direction she thought she’d go on a few different levels, but it’s a fun office just down the street from our house and they’ve been a wonderful change in people and atmosphere to work with and in. They’re letting her continue her committee work with KCSAE and her volunteering with Lead To Read at Ian’s school in addition to providing other opportunities to grow in a new direction career-wise (including company blogging – her first post just went up). We’re thankful for what seems to be a good spot to land for now.

Ian is in first grade, which has given us more challenges and joys in parenting. He’s doing extremely well academically and liked playing fall soccer, but he’s had a lot of behavior issues at school and has a hard time dealing with emotions in ways beyond what’s normal for his age. We and the school have been a little surprised by this, but we’re all looking at how to help and are starting to see some progress slowly. In the midst of that, it’s been more special to celebrate his achievements and invest in his interests. He loves art and draws all the time, he’s becoming a great reader and we often see him curled up with a book and he absorbs all information he can find on science-related topics. He still likes to build with anything he can create structures out of, explore our neighborhood and the city (he even has drinks he can order at several local coffee shops) and he was excited to have a speaking part in his school’s holiday musical.


Ian loves that Grandma B’s Christmas village is now at our house and on our mantle for the holidays.

While change seems to be the only constant, we’ve been glad for the support of friends and family, the space we’re finally settling into with two years now in our house and time to do things we enjoy. Kate is helping our neighborhood organization with communications and Jon’s playing in a friend’s band, Mr. Golden Sun. They just released an EP and have played a few shows this year and he’s played a little with his own band. We’ve been able to see artists like The Roots, Dave King and Pedro The Lion, share coffee and meals with friends and enjoy art around Kansas City.

We didn’t travel to Ohio for the first time this year, but the time here has been appreciated. We’re looking at new traditions to start as a family and ways to engage with our community. As we do, we hope to see you and wish you all the best for what 2019 may hold. The world is full of so much fear, anger and hate and we pray that, if nothing else, we’re a part of extending love, grace and peace in the coming year. We pray the same for you.

Much love from The Smiths!

2016: Moving


We’ve moved! Get in touch if you need our new address. We hope you’ll spend time here.

Merry Christmas from the Smiths!

We hope this finds you enjoying the season.

As you probably know by now, our big news for 2016 is that we finally moved. After 12 years in Raytown, and several years of occasionally thinking we might try to find a new home, we knew it was time for us to be in a different place. There are bittersweet things in any move. Our first house is connected to a lot of important moments, and Jon has wrestled with leaving the community he grew up in and wanted to support. But over time, it became obvious that we weren’t to be there forever.

We moved right before Thanksgiving and are looking forward to what the new house will bring. We’re in the heart of Kansas City in a lovely house that’s almost 100 years old. We’re a block from two different universities, not far from our church and near some of our favorite museums, restaurants and parks. We’re excited to open our home to people, and we have an amazing patio that should host lots of good music and great conversations. Our new location also gives us a chance to be more involved in things we care about in the city.

Ian turned 5 just before we moved. He’s still incredibly energetic, creative and funny. He loves to build with anything he possibly can, regularly makes up little songs and often has us laughing. His knowledge of everything is exploding. He is fascinated by animals and nature, how things work and the exploration of outer space. We’re enjoying each time we get to help him grasp more information. He’s also experiencing more at this age. He attended Royals baseball games for the first time this year, went to several Coterie Theater productions and saw the Kansas City Ballet’s Nutcracker for Christmas. It’s an exciting time for him and for us.


Our realtor, Carla Tays, gave us our new home in watercolor! We’re thankful for all her work and for the help her husband, Mickey, was in getting home repairs done.

Jon’s job is still going well. After years of special education work, he was asked to teach math as a regular teacher for the first time and is also leading a team of teachers in his building. It’s hard work and presents daily challenges, but he doesn’t shy away from that and he knows he has a lot of respect and support. Kate’s job is also going well. Her office and association went through more transitions this past year, but all for the good. She’s also in a position where she is valued and given chances to grow, and that’s been amazing.

Other highlights this year include Kate’s brother getting married and time with family, Jon getting to record and perform music with long-time friends and seeing incredible concerts with Bill Frisell, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman and Emmylou Harris with Buddy Miller, Steve Earle and Milk Carton Kids.

As we wrap up the year, we have to also acknowledge there’s a sense of heaviness. While we have much to be thankful for from 2016, it’s also held some difficult moments. It’s brought everything from friends moving to concern over national and international events. We are all in need of hope, peace, love, wisdom and grace. May celebrating the birth of Jesus be a time to remember that we are offered those things and can live lives sharing them with others.

Much love to you from us for a new year!


IMG_20141115_205948Merry Christmas!

We hope this finds you doing well and enjoying the holidays. We were late getting our cards in the mail, so for those who are reading this after Christmas, we wish you a Happy New Year.

We’ll cut to the chase and fill you in on the craziness of our lives lately. At the end of the summer, we both got new jobs! While we both sporadically searched for new jobs, we never expected to have two positions open up for us within a few weeks of each other. Jon is now working as a teacher in a nearby school district, his first job as a public school teacher after 11 years in alternative education settings. Kate got a job with a co-ed fraternity that focuses on college students doing community service and she is in charge of all of their print and digital communications. In the short term, this means lots of change and long hours. In the long term, it should mean more time at home and for others.

Jon’s job is close to home and a little less stressful than his past experiences. He’s in special education and spends part of the day co-teaching in regular classes and part of the day teaching classes for kids who are behind and need extra help. Kate’s job is also closer to where we live, and after January it should mean an easy schedule and more time at home. As we both transition, though, there’s a lot to learn and get done. Jon has had a number of IEPs to write and has been appointed to a district safety committee. Kate has to be a part of a national convention the last week of the year and learning a new job and a major event at the same time has meant extra hours with work going into holidays. We’re ready for 2015 and a time when schedules start to settle down and get to a new, better normal than what we’ve had for the last few years.

Spiderman enjoys a donut!

Spiderman enjoys a donut!

Most of our time aside from work is spent with Ian. He’s now 3 and is full of energy and curiosity. His vocabulary grows every day, he is a keen observer of everything, he loves music and he enjoys running around outdoors and exploring Kansas City. We have a lot of fun visiting coffee shops, art museums, parks and we spend plenty of time at Union Station seeing trains. We also enjoy time at home putting together train track, playing with cars, dancing to records and watching classic cartoons.

Other than trying to keep up with Ian and adjust to new jobs, we’ve been trying to get a bit more involved with our church, invest in some professional opportunities and we occasionally get out to enjoy the amazing arts experiences available in Kansas City. We’re excited to see what 2015 holds as we have more time available to visit with friends and be involved in our community.

Peace and love to you all,

Jon, Kate and Ian Smith

Our look at 2013

Greetings from the Smiths!

We hope those of you reading this are doing well and enjoying the holidays.

Ian's first hotel stay was in Ashland, KY for his great grandpa's funeral. It was a sad time, but he brought a lot of joy to the weekend.

Ian’s first hotel stay was in Ashland, KY for his great grandpa’s funeral. It was a sad time, but he brought a lot of joy to the weekend.

2013 has been a crazy year for us, but a fun one, too. It has mostly been filled with work and time with family. Here’s an overview of what we’ve been up to in 2013 …

Ian is really the highlight of our year. He’s moved fully into being a little boy and no longer seems babyish to us. He talks all the time and acquires new words every day. He identifies letters, numbers and sometimes colors. He’s obsessed with cars, trucks, trains, music, books and monkeys (especially his sock monkeys and Curious George). Ian began to thoroughly explore outdoors this year, and he notices everything. We love seeing him grow and do new things. He’s very energetic, playful and outgoing, and is usually a lot to keep up with, but we are having a blast as his parents. As you’ll read below, we’ve really focused on time with Ian and close family when not at work.

Kate’s Papaw Bob passed away at the beginning of the year. He was very special to us. He’d lived with Alzheimer’s for a few years, and it had been a couple of years since we’d been able to visit him (he was living in San Fransisco, CA), so his unexpected death was difficult to process. We made a quick trip to Ashland, KY, for the funeral. It was hectic, since we’d just been in Ohio for Christmas, but we had family time with some people we rarely see, many of whom got to meet Ian for the first time. Gathering for funerals is never ideal, but it was a wonderful to be with everyone. We enjoyed repeating Pop’s infamous stories and tales of his generosity and love of family. Kate hopes to someday get things about him in writing. In March, we had to put our dog, Einstein, to sleep, so the first part of the year was emotionally rough.

Jon and Ian checked out the cool games in the Sub Shop in Columbia, MO while on our way to see a cousin's baseball game.

Jon and Ian checked out the cool games in the Sub Shop in Columbia, MO while on our way to see a cousin’s baseball game.

We took Ian to his first baseball game in March. Kate’s cousin played for the University of San Fransisco and had a series of games at the University of Missouri. We drove a couple hours to see him play and meet up with lots of family for a day. It was really fun and meant a lot, since we’d all just been together a couple of months before for Papaw’s funeral. Kate’s parents then came back to Kansas City to visit for a week and we enjoyed some additional time with them.

Jon’s teaching job kept him quite busy through the winter and spring, and continues to do so now. We are very grateful he finally got back into teaching last year and that he is able to do well with students who have a variety of special needs. We don’t want to make it seem easy, because it’s not. He puts in long hours and deals with some very stressful and delicate situations. That said, he’s able to show care and respect to kids that most people don’t want to deal with, and his coworkers see his efforts and are very supportive. He works with some great people and they all try to keep each other from going too crazy or getting burnt out.

We spent a lot of time at KC parks this year. It's been awesome to explore them as a family.

We spent a lot of time at KC parks this year. It’s been awesome to explore them as a family.

Kate’s job at a professional membership association is going well and she had her five-year anniversary with them in June. Her responsibilities continue to grow and evolve. She enjoys the challenge, but it makes for some hectic days. She now handles the association’s social media and does more with the membership department communications and marketing items. She has started getting involved in a local society for association professionals and is excited about opportunities that may come there. One nice aspect of the job is that Kate gets a lot of time off, so we’ve been able to spend time with her family when we’ve wanted to and she’s had days home with Ian.

We made a trip to Ohio in July to see Kate’s family. We didn’t fill our time with too many things to do and people to see, keeping it pretty low key and relaxing, which was needed. We let Ian really explore outside and have a great time with grandparents. He even went to Young’s Dairy for the first time. We also took a short trip over Labor Day weekend to north central Arkansas. Some friends from KC have moved south, and we spent a couple of days wandering through small towns and enjoying the Ozark scenery while hanging out with them. Jon had two breaks around teaching summer school, so he spent a lot of time with Ian before school started (read about it here).

It's amazing to see Ian becoming a little boy. We love this new phase of parenthood where we help him explore the world.

It’s amazing to see Ian becoming a little boy. We love this new phase of parenthood where we help him explore the world.

In November, we had Ian’s second birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary. Jon’s dad and step-mom helped Ian celebrate by treating him to his first overnight stay with grandparents. We appreciated their gift of watching Ian for two days so that we could celebrate our anniversary for a weekend. Having two days to ourselves was a much needed chance to slow down for a minute and enjoy being a couple. We stayed at an awesome KC B&B, ate at great new restaurants, enjoyed the art museum and getting coffee without a toddler in tow, listened to live jazz and got reacquainted with what grown ups do in our city. It was wonderful.

The end of the year has been a blur. Jon’s had a huge amount of work on nights and weekends, Kate’s job has been on overdrive, we’ve been trying to do holidays and see family and it has been a bit insane. We both have quite a bit of time off for Christmas and New Year’s and are enjoying the break and time with family and friends. We’re hoping to figure out more time with people in 2014. Days are flying by and we feel like we’ve not grown friendships as we’d like. If you are like us and feel the pace of life taking over, we hope you’ll also take a moment to reflect on what is most important and adjust your time accordingly.

Ian loves music and playing the organ (and any other thing that makes noise).

Ian loves music and playing the organ (and any other thing that makes noise).

Much love to you from Jon, Kate and Ian!

P.S. – Jon’s music this year has been mostly at church, not with a rock band. If you’re interested, there are some recordings online of songs written this year by musicians at the church. This particular project was related to communion. Many of the songs use old texts set to new music and some are all original material . The recordings are from church services and are wonderful to listen to. Jon’s contribution is here.

And the time goes so quickly …

Ian in January 2012

Ian in January 2012

Yesterday was Christmas! We can’t believe the year is practically over. We’ve had a really good year, it has just gone by so quickly!

To state the obvious, we’ve been terrible at blogging. At one time, there were grand ideas of our blog getting regular updates about us, and especially about Ian, but time for that is elusive. Ian’s first year has been wonderful, but we tend to be short on free time. We’re doing good to post pictures on Facebook or somewhere from our phones. If you are reading this, then we hope you are in touch with us elsewhere to see the things we do manage to share.

Ian and guitar May 2012

Ian and guitar May 2012

Aside from the busyness of life not allowing for time to do everything we want to do (and sometimes need to do), we have much to be grateful for. As Jon posted several months ago, he finally got a long-awaited teaching job. While the income is much-needed, it has been a very demanding job with a steep learning curve. He’s encountered more than expected, with a pretty challenging group of students with some difficult things to overcome, but he’s been thankful for good coworkers and a lot of overall support from the Gillis organization for his work in the school, and that helps make things a little easier.

The Smiths at Truman Lake, August 2012

The Smiths at Truman Lake, August 2012

Ian is now over a year old! We enjoyed celebrating his first birthday and our ninth anniversary on November 1. Ian never ceases to amaze us and he’s a fun little guy to have around. He has a sweet, energetic personality and he keenly observes everything. He’s a quick learner, rarely sits still (though he loves books) and always wants to be in on whatever is going on. He’s now walking and trying to talk more and more. We are truly enjoying watching him grow and develop new skills. The kidney and bladder reflux issues that were a concern when he was born have been gradually clearing up on their own, so we hope that it eventually goes away completely without any surgery. The doctor didn’t think that would happen, so we are grateful for the progress! If you haven’t seen them, we’re occasionally posting videos on YouTube, so check out Jon’s channel to see clips of Ian doing all sorts of things.

Ian, dressed as Mickey Mouse for Halloween

Ian, dressed as Mickey Mouse for Halloween

Kate is still working full-time, and will be for awhile. We had originally hoped she could stay home whenever kids came along, but that wasn’t possible. Luckily, she enjoys her job and has some terrific coworkers. In a funny twist of events, she even got offered a bit of a promotion upon returning to work after Ian was born, which was nice and unexpected. She’s now more involved in various marketing and communications functions for the association and has been a big part of increasing their social media usage.

The Smiths 11/1/2012

The Smiths 11/1/2012

We’ve been very fortunate to have great childcare for Ian. Jon’s stepmom was wonderful with him through June, and after a summer home with Jon, he’s now at a great small, in-home daycare near our house. He’s with three other toddlers/preschoolers and doing really well there. Between job responsibilities and trying to keep up with Ian, we’ve not done much else. Kate didn’t do much with winterguard this past season, and she’s stopped volunteering at the art museum for now. Jon’s not done as much musically. He’s been taking a break from playing with a band and has just done a little recording and some playing with the worship team at church.

The Smiths December 2012 (our only non-blurry photo with Ian)

The Smiths December 2012 (our only non-blurry photo with Ian)

We’ve spent a good deal of time over the past year reflecting on how God has taken care of us and provided for us when we had no idea how things would come together. It’s been humbling and awe-inspiring to receive the support we did from family and friends around Ian’s arrival. We may never know why things happened the way they did over the past several years, but we know that God has guided us every step of the way.

We hope that this finds you doing well and enjoying the holidays.

Love from Jon, Kate and Ian (and Einstein)

Dude …

As summer gets into full swing, we’re now halfway (21 weeks or so) into the journey that is preparing for the arrival of our baby. Everything has gone well so far. I’ve been tired, but not had a lot of morning sickness. At each doctor visit, the baby has had a good heart beat and we both seem healthy. Jon and I have made a few purchases, and been given some amazing things, and can’t believe the wonderful deals and great gifts we’ve stumbled into recently. We are very, very thankful for all of this.

Jon can now officially use his "dude date" phrase

The reason we are posting this little update today is because we have some pretty exciting news. Today was an ultrasound day. So many people have asked if we would find out the gender, and we were able to do just that this afternoon. I won’t keep anyone in suspense, after all, the title of this post gives it away … we are having a boy! 🙂

Our little guy wasn’t too cooperative for pictures today, but he did let us see right away that we have a boy coming this fall. We’re putting two photos up for all to see. They are the best two we got. He was moving around a lot during the ultrasound, but stayed kind of curled up most of the time, and never gave the tech gave enough of every view she wanted. At least you get to see how we found out he’s a boy, and see his face, which he briefly turned right towards us.

a first look from our son

We’re pretty excited. We’ve tended to think more in terms of a boy than a girl, and so it was fun to find out that maybe we had some intuition about things that was right. But beyond learning that we will have a boy, it was amazing to see how he’s growing and that everything seems to be developing as it should be for the most part. Even with his body not usually being in the best position for the ultrasound, the tech was still able to point out everything she was looking for and tell us that he’s just over one pound in weight. It was an incredible afternoon.

So, now we’re looking forward to picking out a name and more fully planning for life with our son. We’ll keep you all posted once there’s more news. Have a wonderful July 4th holiday weekend!

~ K

April Showers Bring Overdue Updates & Big Announcements

J&K discovering Kaw Point Park recently (& realizing the sun & downtown KC were in the wrong spots)

As some of you may have noticed, we’ve been a little quiet on what we’ve been up to lately. We didn’t get out Christmas cards with our usual end of the year letter in December 2010, and we’ve also not said much on the blog about the details of our lives recently. We now have some big news to share, so here’s what’s going on with us and some highlights of the past year or so.

Kate finished her Master of Liberal Arts degree in December (which is largely why no Christmas cards got mailed out). She is very relieved to be completely done with school, and it’s nice that now neither of us have classes or homework worry about. Katy has continued to judge winterguard competitions around Missouri, and just finished her second season serving as the Secretary for the local judges association. She’s still working at IAAO helping with marketing/communications and general office needs, and occasionally volunteering at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Jon’s band, My Science Fiction Twin, has been re-energized after not doing much for a few years. They’ve played several shows around Kansas City and are hoping to do some recording soon. Jon also set up a web site with all of his solo material. This past fall he was asked to help organize and host a series of concerts at Bennetti’s Coffee Experience. Bands played in the parking lot every Saturday in October, and it seemed to be a good experience for all involved. Jon is still working as a paraprofessional at Raytown Middle School and has seen his student make great progress (Jon was even nominated for Support Staff of the Year). He continues to seek a teaching or administrative position, and got certified in math in hopes opening additional doors for job opportunities.

We’ve changed churches over the past year. After being in one place for our entire marriage, we realized it was time to find somewhere closer and with more of a focus on certain things we valued. We’re currently wrapping up the membership process at Redeemer Fellowship in mid-town Kansas City. We’ve appreciated the church’s commitment to great teaching and to community involvement. It’s also been wonderful to start connecting with people around where we live, work, and hang out.

Finally, the big news we promised at the beginning (don’t you love that we made you wait until the very end) …

Hey! Who turned out the lights in here?? - March 31, 2011

We’re going to have a baby! We found out in mid-March that Kate was pregnant, and she’s just reached the end of the first trimester. The due date is currently set at November 4, 2011. So far everything has gone really well, with good health reports and minimal sickness, so we pray it remains that way. Most people we’ve told have asked if we’ll find out the baby’s gender, and we think we will. It just seems easier for planning and gift registry purposes.

We’re obviously a bit nervous about Jon’s job situation and becoming parents for the first time, but we’re also very excited as we’ve wanted to start a family at some point, and we believe that God must have a better plan in mind than we do.

It looks like our eighth anniversary and Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays will be very busy and extra special this year!

We hope all is well with those of you reading.

Grace, Peace and Love,
Jon, Kate, and baby Smith
(and Einstein, who we hope likes babies in six months)

millions of miles …

There are a ton of things I’ve been meaning to put on here, but there’s one thing on my mind tonight. As I write this, Jon is in Pittsburgh, PA playing a show with The Sexy Accident. The band is on tour, driving to New York City and back. They left Kansas City yesterday morning and will return June 20 (well, 21st really since they’ll get home in the middle of the night). I know it sounds cheesy and sentimental, but I miss having Jon at home. I missed him last night and he hadn’t even been gone for 24 hours.

It dawned on me yesterday that he and I have not been apart for more than two days in the past seven years. Seven years ago today I moved to Kansas City, Missouri, from Dayton, Ohio. Jon and I had been dating for almost a year and half, were engaged, and very excited that we’d no longer have to do the long-distance relationship thing. My parents and I loaded up my car and my Grandpa’s truck and headed out. The initial day or so of the move was pretty rough – an awkward dinner with Jon’s mom and her second husband, a mix up that prevented unloading in a storage facility, waking up to find the truck and a chunk of my belongings gone, finding the truck and none of my stuff – and the emotional ups and downs of a few hours made me briefly wonder if I’d just made a huge mistake. But then there came the realization that most of my truly important things were safe and sound in my car, that Jon and I were finally living in the same town and not 600 miles apart, and that we knew somehow things would be okay.

The best part is that things really were okay. They still are. Yeah, we’ve had to deal with a lot of craziness, but we have each other, and we’ve been able to survive a lot as a couple. We love being together. Maybe that’s why it’s so weird for him to be gone. We spent 15 months getting to visit for a few days (a week if we were lucky) every four to six weeks, and hated it. We probably value being together all of the time partly because we know how hard it is to have to go for a while without seeing each other. It’s not something we ever plan to do much of again.

Next week I’m going to drive to Dayton for a few days. The band is going to play a show there, and I’ll get to visit family and old friends. It also crossed my mind yesterday that I probably haven’t driven there by myself since Jon and I were dating. All of my trips back home now include getting to travel with him, not away from him. It’s made me think a lot about when we were dating, what those trips were like, and how insane that time was.

Jon and I at the lighting of The Plaza (our first Thanksgiving together)

And as I’ve been typing this out, The Billions have been playing on the computer, which is a rather fitting coincidence. One of the first concerts Jon and I saw together was The Billions playing at Topeka High School. Later, Dan Billen helped with the music for our wedding, and his first child was born the following day. We don’t get to see these guys (and now their wives and kids) as much as we used to, but the friendships are still there. They are all the kinds of people who pick up where you left off.

(“millions of miles” by The Billions … I have a pretty vivid memory of hearing this song at the Topeka High show.)

It’s nice to know that in the midst of lots of change and unknowns, some things and some people are the same. We’re all just more weathered. And I have a feeling that years from now Jon and I will still enjoy hanging out together every day, and listening to The Billions.

Lots of love,


Creating something beautiful

One of my goals for 2010 is to update this blog more often than I did in 2009 (which shouldn’t be too hard given the infrequent posts last year). With that, I also want to do more to get word out about causes, people, and other things that I think are important and deserve your attention and support. For several reasons, I feel compelled to make the first post in this vein today.

I worked a volunteer shift on Saturday afternoon at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art helping with an Artist Talk by Gloria Baker Feinstein (who happens to be based here in Kansas City). I didn’t know much about her beforehand, but I had seen a few of her photographs here and there, and was interested in learning more about her. I am so glad I decided to sign up for the assignment because I fell in love with her photos, was impressed by how she came across as a person, and was introduced to a great organization.

The body of work she has produced is diverse, but all of her photos have a natural grace and elegance about them, no matter the subject or style. There is a thoughtful simplicity and straightforwardness in her images, but at the same time a lot of mystery and a kind of haunting quality. I’m fascinated by how her framing choices and depth of field are often unusual and striking. I loved that she seemed unpretentious in person, and I was moved as much of what she showed during her talk contained themes, ideas, or emotions that resonated deeply with me.

As wonderful as it was to learn about her art, I also found out that Ms. Feinstein is the founder of a non-profit organization called Change the Truth. The group supports the St. Mary Kevin Orphanage in Uganda, and helps provide food, shelter, clothing, and education (and ultimately hope for a better future) for numerous children whose lives have been devastated by war and HIV/AIDS. These kids have witnessed unspeakable atrocities and dealt with death and poverty, and yet they have joy and plans for what they will become and how they will help their country.

In addition to admiring the work Change the Truth is doing, I was touched by Feinstein’s desire to use her art to show these children as people with dignity and inherent value. The truth of what each child has lived through is horrendous, but their truth is also being changed, and that is something worth celebrating. They are not people to feel sorry for, but to see as inspirational.

If you have an interest in this cause, please go to the site, or check out Kutuuka, her book of portraits and journalistic images from Uganda (proceeds from the sale of this book go to CTT for the orphanage).

There are many other things floating around in my head as I post this note. Jon and I have been talking lately about needs in our local community. As I think about people and places that need help, I also have to think of the recent earthquake in Haiti and the hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed or wounded, and the many more who now are trying to survive with virtually no food, no home, and who face the monumental task of trying to rebuild their lives. I cannot imagine being in the midst of such a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Please pray for these people and all those trying to provide aid, and find what you can do to help.

And in talking about people who need help and those who are working to create change, I must remember that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. May we all be moved to stand up for what is right in this world and to work for justice and equality for those who need it, and may we never forget those who have done so before us. As cynical as I am, I still believe that there is hope and redemption.

Thank God for grace and beauty in a fallen world.

~ Kate