V had decided that a telephone call with detailed explanation was necessary – a text or e-mail, our usual method of correspondence, just wasn’t going to get the point across. Our landlord only had one question after V had called and calmly explained what we needed from him. “So. You mean, you want to be American t.v. stars?” I pictured the tall Dutch man leaning forward with his elbows on his desk, his ear pressed to the telephone, his face a void of expression except for a small hint of puzzlement on his eyebrows. “Um, yes,” my husband replies, as humbly as he can, he breathes in and out – waiting for the response. “Oh-kay. I sign the form and send it to you.” With that, we received permission for House Hunters International to film at his home.
Because of this lovely blog – a casting producer for House Hunters International found our story and emailed me wondering if I, or someone I knew, would be interested in auditioning for the show. We had just finished dinner – Baby Girl and Little Man were at the height of their crazy-evening-time. My computer is setup in the kitchen and I had clicked on the ‘refresh’ button between carrying dirty plates to the sink, desperate for a brief distraction - trying to tune-out the shouting and whining of my children. The swift maneuver is like a nervous habit and usually, the ‘refresh’ results in nothing note-worthy. But this time - my jaw dropped as I read the email, and then a wave of denial rushed over me. “There’s no way this is even true!” I shouted to V. My husband is struggling to get my squirmy son out of his high chair safely. My daughter is chanting “I’m finished! I’m finished!” incessantly. My husband, a mere three feet away from me, squints as if trying to focus on something upon the horizon – the distractions are thick. “What? What is it?” he calls out.
After putting the kids to bed, we google the email address and discover – Leopard Films DOES produce HGTV’s International House Hunters. As the reality seeps in. . .that a real-life casting producer has emailed me. . . that they found me because of my blog. . . I become really, really excited. You could pretty much say that I started jumping up and down (literally) with the enthusiasm of a homecoming queen from a
West Texas high school. I was SO excited.
House Hunters International was one of the two shows I watched religiously before moving to The Netherlands (Good Morning America being the other one. . . I miss seeing Robin Roberts in the morning about as much as I miss my college roommate). The most popular question amongst co-workers and friends upon announcing I was moving overseas was, “So. . . are you going to be on International House Hunters?” – which was followed by a chuckle, and an elbow to my ribs, everyone proud of their ‘little joke.” I just smiled, and tick-marked the umpteenth time I’ve heard the spiel. I loved HHI though. . . and secretly was confused how to even get on the show.
We arranged a Skype video-interview with the casting producer at
5:00 p.m. We strategically setup the computer to
accommodate the best view of the house, we changed our clothes, allowed Baby
Girl some ‘relax time’ in her crib and gave her a few books to read. (Sounds harsh, but she really was being a bit
crazy and likes her alone time). Little
Man was awake and in his high chair – at 17 months, I’m at a loss as to what I
should do with him. There is no ‘relax
time’ for him. During the ‘interview’
the lady explained she had a 7-month old at home. A wave of relief came over me. At least she had a clue about how hard doing anything with a baby is. We talked.
We smiled. We listened. Little Man screamed to be let out of his high
chair. More talking. . .Little Man is
now running around our living room screaming (and due to our ‘strategic planning
– it’s all in full view). We answer her
questions. Little Man is now rocking the
screen in front of the lit fireplace back and forth. I have to run and get him and put him on my
lap. She’s asking more questions. Little Man wriggles out of my grip in his
usual 2-second-sit-still-style. I smile
apologetically and he’s on the floor like sand falling between my hands. She’s still asking questions and we’re trying
to answer her as best as we can. It’s
V’s turn to prevent Little Man from climbing onto the coffee table (a stunt,
amazingly, he only pulls when he knows tensions in the household are at a
climax) – of course, all within. . . full view of the camera. In conclusion, she smiles and tells us to
produce a casting video. V and I both
smile in return, thank her for the phone call, and we sign off. I shut the computer and look at my husband,
not able to decide whether to cry or scream.
If I’m a homecoming queen, I’ve just tripped and fallen face first in
the mud on the 50-yard line on my way to accept the crown. Embarrassment and frustration starts flooding
out of my mouth, “You know. . . I used
to be able to have a conversation
with an adult!” I shout to my
husband. I do like being a stay-at-home-mom, but I’m also a CPA. Sometimes. . . like that moment right there.
. . I feel about a thousand-times-removed from my former self that I left a
mere, 14-months ago. “That was one of
the most important conversations in my
life and I couldn’t even talk!” The tide has shifted - I’m on the brink of
tears now. “Honey,” V tries to console
me, “You may not have seen it, but every-time Little Man was on the camera, she
stopped listening to us, anyway. She
couldn’t take her eyes off of him. She loved him!” I pause for a minute to consider. I must admit, Little Man is pretty cute. His little
blond curls dancing in and out of the screen were comical, if you’re in that
sort of mood. . . “Really?” I sniffed.
“Yes. Trust me. It was okay.
And she told us to make the video – she would have told us another line
if she didn’t think we had potential,” he looked me square in the face and held
my hand, as Little Man threw all the pots and pans from his play kitchen across
the family room. I smiled. Okay.
We’ll give it a shot.
We went on-line. We found other casting videos. We found a really good one from a couple in
and who were picked for the show. So we
modeled ours after theirs, more or less.
The casting producer said she loved our ‘story’ about how V’s parents
immigrated to the U.S.
when he was 2, about how he has family still here, etc. So again, we tried to incorporate that into
the video as well. I wanted to show the
differences between America
and The Netherlands. I had started
collecting video footage whenever we moved here, with hopes of creating a video
to my most favorite song of all time – Home, by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic
Zeros. . . and now was our chance. I was
so proud of the final product – even if we didn’t get picked for the show.
The producers may have liked it, but they wanted more. They wanted more of us talking directly to the camera, unscripted. This assignment was seemingly impossible to accomplish for an ex-accountant and an IT consultant. We’re planners! So we had to produce two more videos, thus dragging out the anticipation and acceptance for months. My nervous-refresh-email-habit-neared obscene levels as I waited for a final yea-or-nay confirmation.
Finally, as I was enjoying a day to myself in
before my friend’s wedding, I received a phone call. I was shopping for souvenirs at Harrods. V was calling me. With international roaming charges, I knew he
wasn’t just calling to say hi. “Hello?”
I turned away from the Harrod’s chocolates I had been eyeing. “We got it!” he shouted into the phone. He’s the Quarterback of the high school who
just won the State title. I can feel the
radiation from his gleaming smile through the phone. “What?!?!
Do you really mean….” I say, unbelieving the news and dodging
customers. “Yes! We’re going to be on International House
Hunters!” he repeats. I’m overjoyed and
relieved. It was an exciting but tedious
process to get accepted and many friends in Leiden helped watch the kids, film,
walk the dogs, and just give general support for us to even get this far. I’m so glad that all the hard work had paid
We found out a little over a month ago. The film crew will be here in two days and will be filming for four days here in
Leiden. The final filming schedule was sent to us tonight
and everything is a go. As I perused
through the schedule and read words like “Line Producer, Supervising Field
Producer, & Production Coordinator” I found myself slightly
hyperventilating. I’m really going to be
on TV! It’s a little nerve-wrecking, but
exciting. On our end, we’ve had 6
haircuts (the dogs included), organized outfits, and booked babysitters. On their end, they’ve received permission to
film at the DeValk windmill in town with an amusing request that each film crew
member pay the 4 Euro entrance fee (can we say ‘thank you for the international
publicity?”), at the Leiden Market, at the kids’ daycare, and at a local
So with that, my cover is blown. All my attempts to maintain the privacy of my husband and children are gone. My husband’s name in Vinny, my daughter is Cosette, and son is Holden. Luckily, after showing the video to a regular reader (whom I haven’t met in real life, yet) she told me that I was how she pictured me – which makes me happy. So here we are, probably even more authentic than what you’re going to see on House Hunters (at least, from what I’ve read). And if anyone out there has connections to Good Morning America and could forward it on to Robin Roberts – that would be awesome.