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Extremely Made Over

Most people know that the really nice big house we live in now is relatively new to us. We are blessed in that we were able to build it thanks to an early inheritance from my folks. Yes, Mom and Dad are very much alive, and have been able to see what a difference it has made in our lives.

But until just over 2 1/2 years ago we lived in an old farm house that was just over 90 years old. When we moved in it seemed really fun, and had character. Old crack plaster walls and the partially sealed wood floors were "quaint". But it didn't take long before things like, the ugly brown carpet and green linoleum and its many layers beneath had to go. As time went on and Torben and I began getting more and more animals we put it through the ringer. Goats rubbed off siding, pigs broke basement windows, unruley dogs broke screen doors, and a group of iquanas (what would that be called?) took over the nicest room in the house, an all-season sun-room, we knew we had gone too far. Not too long after we noticed foundation cracks enlarging, and interior weight-bearing walls cracking and buckling. Cracks were no longer quaint.

A friend and fellow animal rescuer Sandy took it upon herself to contact a reality TV show that would find homes and families in great need of repair, and build a brand new home for them. I'll just call the show Extremely Made Over, and tell you that the show was interested in us!

Thus began a very long labourious task of sending videos, answering pages upon pages of questions, and signing contracts and promises. I made frequent visits to send FedEx packages to one of the producers, took and retook videos (thanks to help of our friends) of the family, and even left my own mom and dad's anniversary dinner in Minnesota early one Sunday so we could get home in time to meet the on-site producer early the next morning. I remember frantically looking for a shirt with a collar, required for the microphone, that weekend, and being relieved to find one that wasn't too warm.

The visit with the producer and her camera man was enjoyable. The producer happened to be somewhat of a child star in her younger days. I actually know I've seen her in a few episodes of some of my favorite TV shows from childhood. The producer and camera dude were fun and funny and got a kick out of all the animals. They took pictures of the foundation, the exposed wood slats in our ceiling, and any unsightly thing they could find, things I would otherwise hide from guests.

Producer Lady was a really good sport. I say this because when she and the Camera Dude went into Ben the black bear's cage (we had only a year or so at the time) Torben failed to mention the "keep moving" rule as Ben liked to just follow people around and bite things he was curious about, like a little child. Well as Ben was being all photogenic he made his way to Producer Lady and bit her butt. It wasn't a horrible aggressive action, but just a curious sampling. Fortunatley it was all cute and funny, but inside I was thinking "My God! That could have been messy!"

She interviewed our friends on camera, and the next day interviewed each family member individually and then Torben and me as a couple. I know Joseph, then 16, was not too into the whole thing and a bit embarrassed even. As a dutiful son he carried on as we wished him to anyway. When it came time to interview Kirsten, who was about 6 at the time I began to think our family actually was going to be selected for the show. What made me think this was that Producer Lady asked her to draw what she wanted her new bedroom to look like. Up til then Kirsten was mad because she was not allowed to run around topless for all the photos and videos. In some of the photos I can see her angst over the fact that she had a top on. She wanted to be free. Now, in the interview she was in her element. She loves drawing, and draw she did!

The two days was relatively fun and we parted ways with Producer Lady and Camera Dude. We then waited. It was late summer when we hit the finally waiting period. I understand there were worries about people thinking it would be offensive for some viewers to see a bear in a cage. It didn't matter that we had built him a cage a b'jillion times bigger than Ben was used to for the past 20 years! I also found out that this was to be the last season and last episode of the show.

I had on and off excitement about it, but was really freaked out when on my way home from a work day I saw, and was passed by while on the freeway an actual "Extremely Made Over" bus! I could not believe it! I freaked out. I was only about 20 miles from home. We were going to be chosen! Why would the bus even be there!?

A week later at our annual open-house I was 80% sure we were chosen, and that if that were the case the bus would show up in our driveway on that day. I had never seen the show until then and understood the more people in the picture at the time of the "surprise" the better.

The day went on. I was upbeat. Anytime I saw a huge RV so by I resented it for getting my hopes up. Eventually the day was done, and no one had shown. It was a bummer.

I found out several days later the family selected was far north of us in Iowa. Evidently they were much more in need of a home than we were (Widowed mother, etc....). I couldn't be bitter.

Why was that bus so close to my home? I read in the newspaper that the bus was a former Extremely Made Over bus that had been purchased by a private party. The new owners had not redone the outside of the bus, and was going through an ownership dispute during a divorce.

I have so many fun videos of that time and recall they are officially the property of Extremely Made Over. I don't know. I am tempted to pull some up and show them off. I am sure I'll find out in a hurry if it was a big no-no.

Besides, after all the hours put into trying to get on that show I felt we somehow had indeed been really made over.

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