Yep, the whole design team was there and we met them all. We took part in Ty Pennington's little hand-cam "say hello to the family" shtick for which our kids were front and center with the team so we will at least be on the episode for that brief segment guaranteed. At one point they miked up JT, put him on a horse and gave him a generalized "script" to use while being side-walked by Paige. Ben got pulled aside to do a little scripted bit with Eduardo and the highlight of our day was watching the kids tussle with Rib Hillis, a new member of the EMHE team but a super guy. I think he just missed his 4 yo twins and got a real kick out of Noah and Nehemiah in particular. He spent quite a bit of time just pal-ing around with the little ones on camera and off.
We were asked not to take photos of the actors without their permission and, not being the pandering type, I really didn't want to ask but Rib finally knelt down in the middle of the kids and asked if we'd like a photo which we couldn't turn down. Unfortunately, at the time JT was herding JM to the bathroom, Betsy was riding a horse and Noah had collapsed in a screaming heap on the ground next to us. We took the picture and Rib plopped himself on the grass next to Noah and matched his tantrum scream for scream. I think Noah was too pooped to enjoy his little personal performance piece though. Shhh...I did take an unauthorized picture of Ty just for the kids' sake which I won't post here. He was fun to watch but he was all business whereas the rest of the design team didn't have quite as much responsibility to get specific things filmed and so were able to pal around with folks a bit more. Philip ended up in front of Ed Sanders during the filming of the "hi Renee" shots and enjoyed bantering with him while Noah rubbed Ed's head stubble from the top of Rib's shoulders.
We have Renee's sister Robyn to thank for all the fun. She's the riding instructor who *didn't* get the cool makeover and instead has become the right-hand woman to the ABC producers. She gets the opportunity to go sleepless for days on end, run errands for the three producers ( all named Matt) and direct people to their various stations throughout the property. We learned that her name carries a lot of sway with the security folks - all we had to do was say ,"We're with Robyn" and we pretty much got carte blanche to do what we pleased. Of course we didn't abuse the privilege and tried our best to stay out of the way but we did get front row seats to the action on the construction site. If she had to stay home and babysit the farm, she's determined that her friends would have a good time. In a way, I think being on site may be more fun than an Italian Disney vacation. Lots of great-natured people are out there working to make life a little easier for the likes of our family and the other families who are enduring much more disabling conditions than us. So I just want to say from our family THANKS ROBYN! You are loved, too, by all.
At one point one of the producers came and introduced himself and met our family. We told him about the house fire and about how the show gave our kids some hope of returning to a restored house eventually when we could see the stories about other people. He brightened up and said, "Hey, with your family you would have made a great story for Extreme Makeover!" I told him we'd put in our tape and he gave me a sheepish little, "Oh". It was just a funny little moment.
To top off my extreme day I met with my special needs homeschooling support group with a mom who is a Sears employee. So after I shared about our day, she gave me the details of the shopping frenzy which had occurred early Monday morning. She described an amazing feat in logistics with a very generous budget. Although she didn't get to meet any of the design team since they worked with a couple of the producers instead.
We're going to attempt to watch some more construction on Friday and be there for the Luther family return on Sunday so our extreme day is going to be more like an extreme week. I'm thrilled the kids have this experience - they will truly remember this for a life-time!