Insights into these Shoes' Soul

Welcome to our blog! You'll get glimpses into the fabric of our lives... find out what is happening in our family, learn what our latest adjustment is to life in the US, find out what is going on in our minds, see what makes us smile, and hear what makes us tick. You'll also get ministry updates! We hope these insights into our souls will make you smile, keep you informed and challenge you to pray for us.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Goodbye and Hello

If you know us at all, you know that we love our cats.  Over the past half a year we’ve said goodbye to one of our feline family members and hello to 3 new ones – none of which was expected or planned.

Smudge, one of our most favorite cats of all time, passed away from cancer during the summer, shortly before Devon’s wedding.  He came from Haiti with us and made the transition with no problems.  He was quite a character and loved us for about 15 years.  We all miss him, the way he would seek us out and just wanted to be near us.  He was a big cat, but he’d still come sit with me on the arm of my recliner, making sure to have 1 foot touching me.  His mother, Princess, is still with us.  She is one grumpy lady, but I guess she’s allowed since she’s a senior citizen (at least 16-17 human years old!).

combo pic 1

The week before Smudge died, we adopted 2 kittens (we didn’t know that Smudge was so sick).  It wasn’t our fault, but one day our son, Devon, sent me a text picture of an itty bitty little calico and asked if I wanted her.  He really wasn’t playing fair because he knew I’d fall for her, no questions asked.  When I went to visit her, I found her living in a huge cat colony under a double-wide trailer out in the everglades.  Her human mom had several adult cats that had litters around the same time, and she’d lost track of how many cats she actually had.  Let’s just say that she had several of every color, breed, age and size.  While there, we met another kitten that we just couldn’t get over…he was so big, fluffy and friendly. 

Long story short – we went back to pick up the calico but couldn’t put the other one down.  So we got a BOGO (buy one get one), 2 for 1 cats.  The name stuck.  Bogo, or Bo for short.  The calico looks almost like Munchkin (our calico from Haiti that died in 2012), so we called her mini-Munchkin or M & M, and that evolved into Emmy since M & M is an awkward name. 

before and after pic for blog

She is petite and a very quiet little thing unless Mango harasses her.  Then she sounds like a lion roaring.  Who would have thought she could make such a noise? 

Pic 1 for blogBogo evidently had a Maine Coon for a father, for he looks like and has the same temperament as a Maine Coon.  

His coloring is unique, the coloring, fur patterns and designs on one side are exactly the same on his other side, equally dividing down his back.  And silky soft fur – wow, it’s amazing – you just want to bury your face in it.  He’s very, very easy going and nothing seems to ruffle his feathers.

Another word to describe him is huge!  He’s only 9 months and is a huge fluff ball.  Did you know that when Consumer Reports tests vacuum cleaners, they use Maine Coon fur?  If it can pick up that kind of cat fur, it passes the test and earns extra points.  And we’re finding out why it’s such a good test.

Pic 2 for blog

We did fine until January.  A friend in Ocala, FL (4 hours away) sent us several emails about a cat that had adopted he & his family (they aren’t cat people and didn’t want him).  This cat just wouldn’t go away and wanted to be loved on more than it wanted food.  Our friend asked us if we wanted him (he was taking him to the pound that day if we said no).  He sent several videos of the cat and we got sucked in!

That coming weekend we were taking Dawn was furniture and household things since she was moving into a new apartment in Tampa, so we made a weekend of it.  After we swung by Dawn’s place, we drove 1.5 hours more and met the cat in the videos.  He was crazy friendly and very, very orange – even orange eyes.  He came home with us the next day (much to the relief of our friend – who we told that our quiver was full – no more cats!). 

We tried out several names and finally settled on Mango.  He’s the color of the mangos that were so plentiful in Haiti, as well as the mango jelly that I used to make and sell.  He was given a clean bill of health by the vet who felt that he was probably a few weeks younger than Emmy. 

pic 1 for blog

pic 2 for blog

Mango is semi-fluffy – that’s the best way I can describe it.  What’s odd is that his tail is much fluffier than the usual cat tail…it looks like its in constant puff ball mode (the mode cats get in when they are scared by a dog or threatened and their fur stands on end).  Since he’s had a better and steady diet his fur has gotten softer.  He’s scrappy, always in motion, wanting to play with someone or something.  And when he crashes, it’s complete as you can see from the pics above.  He seems to have adjusted well to being an indoor only cat, especially since he’d previously been homeless.  Most likely because he has found love, feline and human companionship, food and comfy surroundings.

Now we truly have a blended household.  There was a rough patch at first when Emmy went into heat for the first time and Mango hit puberty at the same time about 10 days after he arrived.  There was no peace in the house for days (and we had company!) and a hasty day trip to the vet was arranged.  We’re all better now that things are healed and the hormones have been jettisoned!

IMG_0263The old lady cat that came from Haiti?  She hates the sight of the 3 young’uns.  She growls, hisses and spits at them.  They’ve learned to steer clear of her – although recently Mango has stood up to her, invading her personal space (which includes about 50 sq. ft., or the size of the room she’s in).  Poor thing.  You can tell she feels like she’s being mistreated by being submitted to the presence of the other 3.

So now we are back up to 4 cats, our limit (no, really, it is!  No more!).  It’s a crazy household.  This is why we have frequently called our home “The Shoe’s Zoo”.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Post-wedding Family Fun

IMG_1249IMG_1255Just because the wedding was over, doesn’t mean the party ended!  While Devon and Kristen were on their honeymoon (a Caribbean Cruise), we continued to enjoy the family that had gathered.  The day after the wedding, before everyone went their separate ways, we got together for a nice lunch at an ocean front restaurant.  Kristen’s family, Mom’s family, Dad’s family, my family…it was a bit surreal to have these different segments of our lives intersect at this one place.  Surreal but fun!



My youngest sister, Carrie, her husband Randy and their son, Silas (13 yrs. old), were able to come home with us.  This was their first visit to our home and to Florida, so we made sure they got the most out of their vacation!  We went airboating in the Everglades, saw alligator and got to hold one…even ATE alligator, went to the beach, the men went kayaking while Carrie and I enjoyed lunch at my favorite tea room, we toured the Edison/Ford estate, we shopped and made sure they got to eat plenty of seafood (well, ok, Carrie ate chicken, but the rest of us ate seafood!).  Silas got to eat frog legs and gator.  We decided that between the 2, the gator was the best.

Combo pic 1

Eating pic combo

Everglades pic combo

holding gator combo

gator pic combo 2

pic combo


A typical day at the beach in the summer in Southwest Florida, sunshiny here and rain storms just over there.

It was another hectic but fun, special week of just enjoying one another and being together.  Hopefully they’ll be able to come again!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Did You Hear? Devon Got Married!

It is hard to wrap our minds around it, but it’s true.  Devon married Kristen Discavage on July 27, 2013.  It was a whirlwind week.  The festivities started with the bachelor party in Key Largo.  The guys and Dan spent 2 days in the keys hunting for “bugs”.  It was the lobster “mini-season”, which is basically a 2 day pre-season hunt for lobsters.  They call lobsters “bugs”.
And they're off!
Left to right:  Wes Vrooman, Kyle Vrooman, (roommates and fellow Haiti missionary kids), another childhood friend, Caleb Shoemaker (cousin and roommate), Devon and Dan.

42 bugs
They caught a total of 42 bugs, most of which was caught within 3 hours of the open of the season on the first day.

lobster dinner at the end of day one
They grilled one each and divided up the rest.  They had a blast and managed to not get sunburned.  That would have made for a bad start to a honeymoon!

Picking up the tuxes was a fun and a bit chaotic (all the guys, plus Dan and his dad who performed the ceremony were there at the same time and it was the smallest tux place I’ve ever seen) but lunch afterward was nice.
The wedding took place in Kristen’s home area of Deerfield Beach/Ft. Lauderdale in a beautiful country club. 
The girls, L to R, are Dawn, Rachel (Kristen’s roommate), Rachel (Kristen’s younger sister), Michelle (Kristen’s older sister) and Kristen.

The guys, L to R, Devon, the childhood friend, Wes, Caleb and Kyle.

Devon’s grandfather, Herb Shoemaker, performed the ceremony.

The tables and decorations 1
The rehearsal dinner was held at a nearby sports cafĂ© that had a separate back room for special occasions. 
We had special frisbees made for each place setting.  Devon and Kristen met while playing Ultimate Frisbee – that’s the meaning of “The Ultimate Couple” on the frisbee.  The frisbee was used as a charger to hold the plastic plates, which worked great since ribs and the other food was heavy.  It turned out lovely and just the right setting to fit Devon and Kristen.

Devon shared how he asked Kristen to marry him at Christmas time…with the puppy, at a time Christmas tree and filmed with a go-pro camera tied into the tree.

combo pic 1

The next day - getting ready for the big event.
oops, you caught us!
Getting ready 9

All the beauties!
Almost there



And then, before we knew it, it was time!
IMG_4353 a
Coming in to get seated

wedding party combo
The ceremony 6
The ceremony 25
The kiss
The ceremony 21 a

A sampling of the after pics:
The wedding party
wedding pic 4
wedding pic 12

wedding pic 7

It turned out to be a huge family reunion!  Debbie’s family came…
Dawn and all 4 Cosper girls:
L to R:  Debbie, Carrie, Dawn, Marti and Brandi

Shirley’s (Dan’s mom) family were all together…
L to R: Al and Sandy Fry, Herb and Shirley Shoemaker, Frank and Kay Fry

IMG_4949Dad’s brother and sister-in-law, Les and Pat Shoemaker, were able to come…

     The whole Shoemaker Clan!
The Shoemaker clan 1

There was also a Haiti MK reunion…
L to R:  Dawn, Wes Vrooman, Kyle Vrooman, Devon, a childhood friend, Andrew Vrooman and Sophia Juene

IMG_1226On a hot summer day in south Florida, you can just imagine how hot and humid it was.  Dawn expressed it perfectly.

IMG_1236Here’s the Unity Cross that they used in their ceremony (instead of a candle or sand).  It’s really a cool thing to do at a wedding.  The outer cross represents the man, the inner cross represents the woman, they are put together and become one and held together by 3 pins representing the trinity.  Very special symbolism and something that they can keep for a long time.  (
reception 3 a

IMG_4434 a

Where’s that garter belt?

Oh, there it is!

The bouquet throw, then the garter belt throw, then the lucky fella who caught the garter belt has the privilege of putting it on the leg of the gal who caught the bouquet.


Dancing the night away!
reception 5 a

Hard to believe, but it really did happen!!  Devon and Kristen are married!!
They live about 40 minutes south of us with their dog, Chloe.  Devon works with his business partner repairing high end furniture and Kristen works at Starbucks and is finishing her senior year at the local university.