The Smiths in 2015

Season’s Greetings!

IanJonKate_Snowglobe

Ian loved going downtown to get a picture inside a giant inflatable snow globe!

2015 has been a good year, although not quite what we expected in some regards. Things have been busier than anticipated (hence the late arrival of Christmas cards and this letter), but we’ve enjoyed it.

Obviously, one of the most important things to talk about is Ian. He just turned four and never ceases to amaze with his energy and creativity. He is hilariously funny and has a great imagination. Ian loves singing and dancing for us (usually with songs he’s made up) and will build with anything he can get his hands on. He is still obsessed with books, cars, trucks and trains, and he absorbs everything around him from new words to what he sees outside. He loves going out to parks to run and explore and enjoys walking around the city, especially if it involves going to a coffee shop for donuts or to Union Station to see trains. He is also starting to develop friendships, and it’s really fun to see him get excited about time with certain peers. Ian is in a neat daycare situation, and we appreciate the care he receives and the many chances to learn and grow there over the past couple of years. Additionally, it is nice for him to attend daycare in a home-like setting in which to thrive while his parents work.

IanSanta

Ian got his first visit with Santa this year.

The big news, for those who don’t already know, is Kate’s job change. She left a job in June and returned to the professional membership association she had been at for six years. The nonprofit she was at for nine months was a good learning experience, but was not the great fit she anticipated from her interviews. The chance to go back to her old office, which has made a number of improvements, was a very unexpected yet exciting opportunity. She is now co-leading the membership department under a new executive director and anticipates amazing things to come for the organization. The last six months have been hectic, but long term, this job should be more family-friendly for us, which we appreciate.

A few months after changing jobs, Kate received a volunteer award from the Kansas City Society for Association Executives for helping update its branding with a new logo and website. Additionally, she was recently given the chance to move on from that and join ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership with her new position. She looks forward to attending its national events and diving in to resources for professional growth.

IanJon2_crop

We enjoy time at Crown Center, especially during the holiday season.

Speaking of jobs, Jon is in his second year teaching special education at a nearby freshman center. Overall, it has gone really well. He does a lot of co-teaching as a special ed teacher in a regular classroom environment, likes many of his co-workers and administrators and enjoys being in a district making some positive changes. Since being hired last year, he has experienced a level of respect not seen in most of his other jobs. The kids know and can articulate that he cares about them. It is often difficult and time-consuming work, but he has the support of the other staff and likes making a difference for the students.

IanKate1_crop

Ian made sure we’re ready for snow, though it hasn’t come yet.

A highlight of the year was Ian and Jon taking a trip to Indiana with Jon’s dad during spring break in March. It was the first time the three of them have traveled together, and the first time in many years that Jon and his dad have returned to where they were born. The trip meant a lot to them as they have few ties to there anymore, and it’s not a trip that will happen often. We also visited Ohio in July and drove down to see Kate’s great aunt, Jo, in Kentucky. It was a special trip, as she passed away a few months ago. Jo was like another grandmother to Kat, since her Mamaw Pearl (Jo’s sister) died when Kate was 10. We’re glad that she and Ian got to spend time together.

IanJonKate_Royals

A family selfie with a few hundred thousand friends at the Royals Victory Parade.

We’ve managed to keep up with a few interests. Jon continues to play music with friends and with the church worship team. Kate has enjoyed a few good book studies with women from our church and time with friends. Thanks to a fantastic babysitter who is usually available, Jon and Kate have been able to attend amazing concerts (Wilco, Kraftwerk and Stevie Wonder were the big ones) and performing arts events (mostly the Harriman-Jewell Series and one KC Rep production). We also joined with much of Kansas City in celebrating the Royals World Series win this year!

We hope you all had a wonderful year and a Merry Christmas! We look forward to a new year and new opportunities for our family to interact with yours.

Much love from the Smiths!

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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)

Ian plays and talks.

It has worked out well that Katy puts Ian to bed (usually later than I can stay up) and I get him up early. Around 5:00, I prepare him to leave with Katy to spend the day at Grandma’s house. Occasionally he will immediately fall asleep after he eats, but most mornings, he stays awake and plays.

Because some of our family has yet to hear him try to talk, I took a video of him playing on his mat yesterday morning. He is such a fun guy.

And that’s Wire’s album, Pink Flag, playing in the background.

-Jonathon

 

An uneasy empathy.

I spent a little over a year making my newest album, An Uneasy Empathy.  At times, the process was maddening:  repeatedly throwing out entire sessions for songs, re-working arrangements based on feedback from my wife and endlessly tweaking mixes so they sounded good on something besides my studio monitors.

Art can be made in isolation, but I don’t know that isolation always makes good art.  I hope this album reflects where I have been the past two years.  I’ve embraced friends, struggled with identity, ignored my wife, battled misperceptions and tore into the New Order catalog.  I feel like this may be my strongest batch of lyrics, but they certainly don’t make me look good.  When I hear myself sing,  “How quickly I rely on emotions when I forget just who I am,” I am floored and question how I ever got to a place where I would make such an admission.

I probably should not pull back the proverbial curtain too much.  You will understand the album; it’s not so cerebral that it’s not enjoyable.  I hope you enjoy it.  (And hopefully, if you enjoy it, you will buy a copy.  All proceeds go to support our cloth diaper fund.)

-Jonathon

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)

Summer stretching on the grass.

It’s been a difficult, yet somewhat encouraging, week. The best part is that I have some great friends who won’t allow me to stay down. We have breakfast, make silly trips to Cargo Largo, text about absurd church signs, listen to records over lunch and watch Ren and Stimpy together. Oh yeah, we also talk.

I think it’s tempting to sometimes think of people’s role in our lives only as a convenient pick-me-up. God has obviously placed them in my life and they serve occasionally in this capacity, but as I mulled this over, I began to realize just how selfish and utilitarian this thinking is. Sure, I have no doubt these friends and family try to lift me up, but I think our exchange is far more rich than that.

Are my friends here to serve me or am I here to serve my friends? I’d like to think that I still have much to offer, that I can help them be better people, as well. This is what keeps me going and can get me out of the house when I just want to close the blinds and take a nap.

-Jonathon