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Entries in Family (11)


Selling & Buying Houses, Moving Ahead

House PhotoIt's nearly done!

We're in the home stretch in our house selling and buying experience. On Friday Gail and I signed a pile of papers to complete the process.

After signing the papers to sell our home, the closing agent delclared:

"Congratulations... You're homeless!"

Technically, we were homeless for about two hours, until completing the paperwork to take ownership of our new place.

The next step? Pack our stuff, and move it all to the new house next Saturday. We have a bit to do, but are optimistic and have great friends helping us out.

House Sale Follow-up
By the way, the sale of our house went very well. We sold it in 5 days, with 4 offers coming in. This was a great feeling, especially during a "buyers" market in the Milwaukee area. It really helped strengthen our position as buyers to have no home sale contingency in our offer.

You can read about our open house day to see that we put in some serious effort getting our place looking great. It really paid off. If you're selling your home, research home staging beforhand. Decluttering and staging our house really made it shine and let buyers see the space as their own space.

The Importance of Great Team Members
Donna BestWe can't say enough about our agent, Donna Best, for the hard work and excellent advice she provided to us in selling our home and buying a new home. Some may choose to buy and sell houses themselves — I loved having Donna, a knowledgeable veteran agent on our team. She rocked! :-)

Our new house purchase was a challenging ordeal, and having Donna there to help negotiate and advise us was critical to our success. I understood the value of having a great real estate agent as she guided us through obstacales to a successful home purchase. Donna taught me many lessons about superb customer service.

So, we're off. It's an exciting time, moving a new community, setting up a new house, establishing a new home office space, and more. Yes, this move will have challenges, but we're optimistic, and know that God is leading us to new, exciting things.

Have a great weekend!


Open House Day

House PhotoIt's Sunday morning, and today is our big open house. It's been a long journey.

The past several weeks were filled with de-cluttering, tossing junk, storing away little-used but needed stuff, and cleaning. Oh the cleaning. It felt like a never-ending process of cleaning. I'm Mr. Clean.

Last night was a long night, cleaning, de-cluttering and prepping the house until about 3am. This morning the tweaking continued, as I put finishing touches on each room — washing windows, turning on lights, replacing our half-bath's 70's vanity door handles with modern ones, and so on. Like they say, God is in the details.

I began to see prepping out home like designing a logo or an icon: the details make the difference. Every time I'd think to myself "That's good enough" I'd stop that thought pattern and push to the next level. It's the same process I follow in design — pushing to the next level until it's excellent. It's a pain, but worth it in the end.

I just hope the details aren't lost on the visitors. I know that when we go to open houses, we notice those small details, and in doing so we've built up a reserve of inspiration and ideas for our own open house. I think it will make the difference.

It just feels good to be done. In fact it feels so nice in our de-cluttered and cleaned home, we hate to sell! However, we also know that it's time to sell and move to the next step in this journey of life.

Once we sell, then the next step is finding a house to buy — that's another story! :-)

Update 2007-05-27: Wow! We've heard that had 8 parties went through our house today, and one expressed interest by phone to our agent. We are very excited, and can't wait to learn more on Tuesday. Oh, and our agent was very impressed with our house preparations, which was great to hear!

Update 2007-05-30: One offer came in last night and another is coming in today, plus we had a private showing last night and have 2 more private showings scheduled for this evening. We're feeling pretty good so far. :-)

Update 2007-06-01: We had a total of 4 offers on the house and accepted one on Thursday. We were very pleased with the final offer, and now have an inspection left. Time to find a house to move to!


What Would My Great Grandfather Think of Me?

John Martin Rohde SketchtoonHave you ever wondered what your ancestors would think of you, your life and the time you live in?

About a month ago, I received a book of family history, which traces our family history from Bobitz, Germany in the Mecklenburg region (near the Baltic Sea).

My great grandfather, John Martin, came to the US in 1873, and settled near Juneau, WI where he lived, established a farm, and had children, one of which was my grandfather Edwin.

What Would He Think?
Reading through our family's story, I've begun to ask: what would John Martin think of me, my life and the time, place and culture I live in?

I ask this probably for validation, but I think more for curiosity sake. I'd be very interested in his reactions, and to hear his wisdom, learned from years of hard experience as an immigrant, husband and father.

I wonder if he would he be amazed at the Internet, which allows me to work from Milwaukee with colleagues, clients and friends around the world? Being a farmer, what would he think of the virtual world I live in?

Would the "magic" of computers and tiny gadgets surprise him or would they seem like cheap flashing toys to him?

I wonder what he would have been like, quiet or talkative? A reader? An artist?

Obviously, I may never know, but it's interesting to ponder.

If I Were to Guess...
I think he would be proud to see the family continuing on, adapting to the world in which it found itself. John Martin lived through some amazing shifts in culture: the German Revolution, the turn of the century and the rise of industrialism, World War I, the Great Depression and more. How cool it would be to hear his stories now.

The sketch above was done early this morning, as these questions bounced around in my head. I wanted to capture an image of John Martin as a way of personalizing and honoring him as my great grandfather.

John Martin, I hope I'm making you proud.


Serving in Belize: July 2007

mike_gail.jpgI've had many wonderful opportunities to visit and spend time with friends in interesting places.

Travel has provided memories I'll treasure for a lifetime, and looking back, I believe travel has fundamentally changed my viewpoint, thinking and life for the better.

So, as you might imagine, I'm always interested in travel experiences.

This July 7th, my wife Gail and I will help lead a team of 31 adults and high school students from Meadowbrook Church, to serve the people of Belize, Central America. We're both excited about this opportunity to follow Jesus' example of loving God through service and love for others.

St. Margaret's Village, Belize
We'll be serving one week in St. Margaret's Village, a mountain town in central Belize. We're partnering with a local church, visiting orphanages and hospitals, belize.jpgplaying sports with local kids, light construction work around the town, giving guitar lessons and leading church services.

As the departure day approaches, I'm realizing just how much of an impact this trip will have on our lives and the lives of our students.

Belize is a fascinating Central American country, located just south of Mexico and East of Guatemala on the Caribbean Sea. Belize has the 2nd largest Barrier Reef in the world, and because of a British colonial heitage, is the only English speaking country in Central America.

Belizean culture belize-map-sm.gifhas a strong Caribbean influence, even though the country is located in Central America. People of Belize consists of different 9 main ethnic groups, including Creole, East Indian, Euro-Americans, Garifuna, Mestizo, Mennonite, Mopan, Kekchi, and Yucatec Mayas.

Prayer & Partnership
We invite you to pray for our team, as we prepare for the trip. We want our team to be open and ready to serve. We ask for safe travels to and from Belize, and that our team would have a positive impact on the people of Belize and they on us.

If you're interested in partnering financially, we welcome your support. We're raising about $1,800 per person for the trip, so every dollar brings us closer to our goal. If this interests you, feel free to use the button below, to donate:

Or, if you prefer sending in a tax-exempt donation, send it to my church directly:

Belize Youth Mission Trip Donations
Meadowbrook Church
1025 North 70th Street
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

Travelogues & Sketches
Finally, those who know me, know I can't resist writing travelogues and sketching while I travel — I intend to do both on the Belize trip and provide reports here on the blog of my experiences.

I can't wait! :-)


Wishing You a Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve and I'm just here to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or winter holiday of your choosing.

We'll be having a family Christmas Eve tonight at my folks with the entire Rohde clan. In fact, it was on Christmas eve 6 years ago that I proposed to my (now) wife Gail in a sneak attack. That might make for an interesting weblog post someday, eh? ;-)

Tomorrow, we host Christmas brunch here at the Rohde residence. I think Gail has something egg-stacular planned, along with home-made bread and freshly ground coffee (that's my department). We'll then open gifts with Gail's mom and our good friends Randy. Kathy & Molly.

In the evening we head to Gail's aunt's place for Ham, jello-encased Pineapple slices and the best doggone Christmas cookies anywhere. Aunt Darlene doesn't skimp on the butter or sugar, and man, can I tell the difference! I fear I'll be doing a week on Phase 1 of South Beach after this wonderful weekend of food and treats.

Beyond these gatherings, the rest of the weekend is going to be a time of relaxation and renewal with family. After the busy preparation for Christmas, some decompression time will be quite nice.

I wish all of you a joyous time with family and friends and some down time to reflect and appreciate what you have. This is a great time to remember blessings.

So, until next week, warm greetings and a festive weekend to you all! :-)