jump to navigation

Extreme Makeover Hits Close to Home August 19, 2010

Posted by alwaysjan in Personal.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Always Jane

Karma has come ’round for my sister-in-law Jane who awoke yesterday to the sound of chickens, but by noon could hear the Extreme Makeover truck rumbling out in front of her house. Oh, what a year it’s been.  No, make that years for Jane and her amazing family.

Last summer when Jane went to her high school reunion in Pocatello, Idaho, her former classmates asked her if she wasn’t worried that her house might burn down while she was out for a night –  what with all those kids.  (Jane has a married daughter from her first marriage and eight children at home from her second ages 9-18.)  Jane just laughed, so when someone told her later that her house WAS on fire, she thought they were kidding – but they weren’t.  The fire started in the basement where the washer and dryer were located and where most of the kids slept. Everyone got out safely, but the house was toast.  All was lost save Jane’s indomitable spirit.

The fire came just a year after Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I wrote about that in Fortune Has Arrived.  Jane underwent a double mastectomy followed by chemo and eventually breast reconstruction.  Then she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, (which fortunately is benign and slow growing).

A friend shot some video and sent it in to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (a show I’ve never seen, but I’ve heard it’s the ultimate “feel good” experience). We all crossed our fingers, toes, and eyes. There were endless interviews and hurdles to clear.  I think the show spent more time vetting Jane and her family than they do with most presidential candidates.  And so we waited.

Last month Jane was told that the show had narrowed it down to five families. Meanwhile, rumors swirled around Pocatello about building permits being pulled.  It was like pulling off the world’s biggest surprise party ever and no one was supposed to spill the beans.

I can’t imagine any family more deserving than Jane’s. One year she drove down down with all of her kids to spend Thanksgiving with us.  They all packed into two rooms, the kids sleeping like puppies in a pile-up in the den.  Her children are all incredibly responsible, creative, and downright fun! That’s the way they’ve been raised by this single mother with a BIG heart. They work together. They’ve had to. Over the years Jane has received support (financial and otherwise) from family, friends, her church, and the government.  But they’ve worked hard to fend for themselves.

Her children all play a musical instrument, and I still remember when they set up outside a restaurant to make some extra change.  They had their own cleaning business. They’re very good at making do.

With the house uninhabitable, but still waiting for the insurance settlement, they spent last winter in a rental making daily trips back to their old house to feed the chickens. When we visited this spring they’d decided to move back and camp in the backyard.  There they’ve been living in a trailer and a small back house which was untouched by the fire.  The washer and dryer are in a tent. And it’s easier to tend their chickens.  Jane told me the kids refer to their outdoor digs as “The Haitian Five Star.”  When we left, Jane sent us off with a jar of smoked paprika.  She said that since the fire, the smell of anything “smoked” makes them all nauseous.  As the months went by, we began to wonder if this Extreme Makeover was for real.  The clock was running out.

Several days ago all of their cell phones were taken away, so it was only after my mother-in-law drove by their house that we got the news.  She reported that there were also two vans packed with their suitcases as they were being whisked off to an undisclosed location. They got a choice between a tropical island, a mountain resort, or a theme park. I still can’t believe they didn’t want to come stay with us, where we have our own extreme home makeover going on. (Though you can’t get much done with a crew of one.)

In case you’re here because of the NPD link, you can read Jane’s story on the Close Encounter with a Narcissist – Part 3 Comment 27.

I so wanted to blog about this great news, but waited until the story broke on Facebook. Their story will air later this year. In the meantime, they have their own Extreme Makeover Facebook page where you can follow the construction day by day by clicking on Photos. It was on this site that I learned they’re in Key West, Florida (even their dog Betsy went with them!).   Everyone loves a “feel good” story and this is it!  Karma has come ’round.

Photo Credit: Shellee Christiansen


1. elissestuart - August 20, 2010

I am so happy for her – that is great news. We often watch this show. Years ago when Sam was little they were working on a home not far from us. The guys would go everyday after school. I have the cutest pic of the boys with Ty.
Can’t wait to watch the episode.
…..Validation ; )

Elisse – My father-in-law was hanging out with Ty (whom he’d never heard of before) and said he was way cool. Jan


2. Tina - August 20, 2010

How fantastic for your sister-in-law and her family! I love watching that show and now look forward to seeing your special episode!

The news is trickling in. Their dog Betsy, who alerted them to the fire, was sent to Key West with them. My father-in-law just called and he said he’s never seen anything like this. The crew has virtually taken over the town. They’ve had 5,000 people who want to help. Jane has quite a fan club. It’s just amazing what they can do in a day. Sort of you tearing out that floor in the gym! Jan


3. LettingGo - August 20, 2010

Jan what an amazing blessing for your Sis! I love that show. It always makes me cry happy tears. I am going to look forward to seeing this episode. I usually spend my free time reading my fav. blogs about Nism, but this is such a great story and I want it to be the last thing I read tonight before I go to bed. Again thank you for sharing w/us such a beautiful story. Sweet Dreams!

LG – The N is in the details. See the Fortune Has Arrived link. Jane’s also commented on my Close Encounters series. But this is a story with a happy ending. It’s really the “House That Love Built.” Jan


4. Catherine Sherman - August 20, 2010

Wow, Great news! Jane and her family deserve it! I’m definitely a Jane fan and will watch the show with a hanky in hand.


5. Richard - August 20, 2010

A perfect blog. Yes, and I shed some tears while reading. Since I’ve seen it all up close, as have you, I know how much Jane and her family deserve this. They have paid more than all of us and Jane is much loved by all who have ever met her. That goes for the kids as well. She is an extraordinary human being. Thank you for spreading the word.
Love, R

Your little sister is the best SIL ever. I still think it’s funny when we get together and sometimes Jane and I have bought the same clothes! Just be glad I haven’t come home with chickens – yet! Jan


6. Lesley - August 20, 2010

Great news and so deserved, hope to see this in the UK. X

Lesley, Better yet, you could take a quick 14-hour drive up to stay at their new digs! You’d be welcomed with open arms. I think I read on the Extreme Makeover home page that they have a special UK edition. If not available across the pond, I will provide a copy gratis! Jan


7. Bev from England - August 21, 2010

ive often watched this show in england….its a real feel good show n jane really deserves it !!! Ty is soooo loud tho ahhhhhhh lol

i do wish theyd build more less extravagant houses for more people tho…always makes me feel a bit sad cos i…m sure there are soooooo many people who need help.

i think its crazy how fast they can build a house too :-O the construction is sooo different to over here.

I do hope ill get to see janes episode one day n hope she loves her new home !!!


Bev, Jane’s house will be much larger than her former one, but then most of her kids slept in the basement which was a potential firetrap. The kids were upstairs when their dog alerted them to the fire, so fortunately they got out. Habitat for Humanity builds houses for many, but without all the bells and whistles. But then it’s not also “entertainment.” It is INCREDIBLE what they can do in a day – we noticed yesterday (Day 3) that the frame of the house was up. It’s Day 4 here and I’m still trying to get my dining room painted. 😦 Jan


8. Bev from England - August 21, 2010

Phew thank god for the dog n thank god they were upstairs cos smoke kills v quickly…..itll be fab for them to have a lovely new shiney home ! I dooo hope so much ill see it one day but im hit n miss seeing the show. Can only imagine the kids faces. Bless.

its good to read about Habitat !!!!! i do remember one time when Ex Makeover did a show where they did quite a few houses in a deprived area…..it was soooooooo humbling to see but obv not such great entertainment as doing huge posh houses.


ahhh good luck u painting !



9. Ginger - August 22, 2010

Jan, thanks for leaving a comment on my severely neglected blog. I have been MIA all summer and can’t seem to get back into the groove. But I’m glad I decided to hop over here and see what was going on with you! WOW! First of all, I ADORE Extreme Home Makeover. I will definitely be following this on Facebook and looking forward to seeing the episode on TV.

From the pictures that are posted so far, it looks like they are going to have a FABULOUS new home!


10. moxey - August 24, 2010

EMHE is a favorite show of mine but it always makes me cry. How fabulous that your sister in law is the recipient of this great outpouring.

I will be watching to see this episode, for sure!

Mox – I feel like The Biggest Loser because I’ve never seen the show. There’s talk of it airing in October. Today is the day they MOVE THAT BUS! I’m so excited for Jane and her kids. Jan


11. Ed Darrell - August 30, 2010

1. I’ve always thought that show insufferable. You’ve changed my view completely.

2. Pocatello? You’ve got relatives from POCA-TATO?

When I was growing up in Burley, a bit south, Pocatello was the “Big City.” When television finally hit Idaho, about a century after the rest of the nation had it, KID Channel 3 was out of Pocatello, and on a cloudy afternoon we could get it (mainly we watched KLIX Channel 11 out of Twin Falls — the only station we could get all of the time). My father drove to Pocatello on occasion to pick up good for his furniture and appliance store; sometimes I got to go along. Pocatello was huge.

Then I saw Salt Lake City. Whew!

Your SiL sounds like a wonderful woman. The kids sound impressive. My wife would like chickens. When the house is done, can we go visit?

Ed – Yeah, we like to tease my husband about his penchant for all things potato. I swear that TV was invented in Idaho, but maybe like the potatoes, the best are sent out of state. My husband didn’t have a TV until he was 12. He also had a dog named Burley! My SIL in the most generous person I know. I know the show is a bit over the top (from what I’ve heard), but in her case, it was a long time coming. My husband loves Poca-tato!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: