Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I still don't drink coffee.

I'm taking a much deserved reading break. I have so much to fill the world in on!

I moved to Augustana! I've been here seven weeks this Sunday!

Augustana = Awesome. All my professors know my name. I've made so many new friends! The campus is absolutely lovely, even when it's hurricane-like weather.

I choked on a pill. Not literally, well kind of. September 8, 2012. I spent thirteen hours with a pill lodged in my throat, eight of those hours in the emergency room.

Eosinophilic esophagitis. [ee-uh-sin-uh-fil-ik  uh-SAW-fuh-JY-tis] After sticking a camera down my throat, the docs discovered I have this chronic disease. It's caused by a food allergy.

Soft food diet. Until November 20. Not by choice. Having this condition means my esophagus is narrower so I have a high risk of choking on solid food.

Freshman senator. After running against eleven other freshman, I was voted one of three freshman senators for the Augustana Student Association. My favorite part about running was going door to door with "Chews Kat" Post-It Notes and gum. (Thanks to Crystal Ortbahn for the idea.)

Second place in the Amazing Race. During parent weekend, my friends and I participated in Augustana's Amazing Race. My team won second place and a $75 gift card to Olive Garden!

Milk, baker's yeast, beef, pistachio, and wheat. These are the reasons my esophagus is narrower. You're wondering, "How did she not know about these allergies sooner?" It's been boggling my mind too!

What do I eat and drink? Rice, fruit snacks, cooked and steamed vegetables, rice noodles, water, soy ice cream, soy noodles, Jell-O, applesauce, Rice Krispy's, shrimp, French fries, and soy, almond, and coconut milk. I'm getting much more soy, almond, and rice in my diet at least!

Twenty-five environmental allergies. After ninety-five pricks in my back, not only did they determine I have five food allergies, but also that I'm allergic to most molds, lots of grasses and weeds, dog and cat dander, dust mites, pollen, and oak and pine trees.

Allergy shots, twice a week. On top of taking three new medications twice a day, I go in to get allergy shots twice a week. It takes about an hour and a half. I've found I can get so much homework done while sitting in the waiting room because typically I'm the only person there. Peace and quiet. Ah!

Second dorm room. To myself. It's extra clean! Fancy vacuum cleaner, air purifier, expensive mattress protectors, and mold-free, new fridge.

Spare time? Bumper cars, toga dance, mud volleyball, fast-food runs, Bowling for Boobs, and football games are just a few of the things that have taken up my spare time. I'm so excited for everything the future holds here at Augie!

 

"Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce." –unknown

 

Life doesn't wait up for you. It tests you and forces you to adjust, adapt, and move on. I miss eating bread, string cheese, cookies, sun chips, regular ice cream, skim milk, hamburgers, pasta, cheese dip, buttered popcorn, Cheetos, etc. On the other hand, I feel very fortunate because my problems could be much worse.

I still don't drink coffee. :)

-          Katherine Van Gerpen


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy 236th Birthday, America!

            It seems like such a long time ago, but my Fourth of July was very eventful to say the least. On Tuesday, July 3, some friends and I went night swimming and then shot off fireworks outside of town. After we were fireworked out, we decided to watch a movie, which meant I ended up not getting home until about 3 AM. Just as I was shutting off my light, ready to fall asleep at about 3:30, I heard some fireworks outside. I thought to myself, "Now, which one of my neighbors is shooting off fireworks at this hour!" I let it go for about a minute, and then it got louder. I finally looked out my window to see a huge fire engulfing the garage of a house just across the gulch. Instantly, I grabbed my cell phone and ran upstairs while dialing 911.

When I reached the top of the stairs, I saw my dad already on the phone staring out the window. He reported the fire while I tried calling Kat, my friend who lives in the house. She didn't pick up, and we couldn't see anyone leaving their home. Then I called all our neighbors that live closer to the burning garage. The family had been storing fireworks in the detached garage, and they were shooting out of the fire in every direction. We were worried that their house or another house might catch on fire as well, especially because it was also windy. After I had woken up the entire neighborhood, I tried calling Kat again. This time she answered and said her family was all out of the house. What a relief! We watched the firemen put the fire out, and at about 6 AM, I finally got to sleep. I had planned to be in the Fourth of July parade in the morning but decided not to.

I woke up early enough to go watch the parade anyway. My friends and I combined the Tootie Frooties that people tossed to us and ate them throughout the rest of the day. We then spent the entire afternoon tubing and jet skiing above the dam. One of my friend's uncles pulled us on the tube, and let's just say, I had blistered hands and sore muscles the next day. After we were done at the river, I went home for a while to get ready for a neighborhood party at our pool, and then I met my friends down by the river again. We played beach volleyball and took turns taking the jet ski and paddle boat out. The sunset was beautiful that evening. When it finally got dark, we planted ourselves on an old boat ramp and watched all the fireworks along the river. Besides the fire, it was a perfect Fourth of July day, but you can bet I slept very well that night. I hope yours was just as great! :)
I included the picture that all the girls took together down at the river... we didn't let the boys in it!  

-          Katherine Van Gerpen

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Babe to Ballerina...

                This post is dedicated exclusively to dance. Considering I have been dancing longer than I've been in school, I thought it was worthy of its own post. I began dancing at the Forney Cronin Studio of Dance Arts when I was just four years old, and I danced there until my career ended on Saturday, May 26, 2012. Throughout my fourteen years of dance, I performed ballet, tap, jazz, and pointe dances. I'm so thankful my parents started me at Mrs. Cronin's studio because not only did I learn how to dance, but I also learned how to be disciplined and graceful, traits that will be invaluable as I continue through life.

            Throughout my senior year, I also helped with a few of the younger classes. My friend Madeline, another senior dancer, and I regularly helped with the youngest class made up of preschoolers and the second youngest class made up of kindergarteners and some first graders. There was never a day we weren't entertained by the little kids. I have some interesting stories from helping with those classes including one of the little girls telling me there was a bug crawling under her skin… a tick. Every day was an adventure! J Between their facial expressions and mature comments, we were never bored. I also loved sort of re-living my first years of ballet. Those were the days!

            I don't mean to sound biased, but I think we were Mrs. Cronin's best senior class…mostly because we surprised her by tie-dyeing some leotards and made one for her too! J There were eight seniors this year, which made us one of Mrs. Cronin's larger graduating classes. What was especially impressive was that she had been teaching five of us since we were four, two since kindergarten, and the last since second grade. Needless to say, Mrs. Cronin has been part of all our lives for a long time.

            For the past few years, the seniors have given Mrs. Cronin a framed picture of their class to hang in her studio. Therefore, my class got together one evening at the park to take a photo. After we were finished with the professional photographer, we changed costumes and then roamed around town with our parents taking group photos in our different costumes and our tie-dyed leotards. You'll be hearing more about what we did with those photos later on… But from the professional photographer, we ordered a collage because we couldn't decide between three different poses. We also included Ecclesiastes 3:4 on the picture. A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.

            My last dance recital was the best yet. For the second time in about sixty-five years, the Forney Cronin dance recital weekend wasn't Mother's Day weekend… That is a frustrating story in itself. The first time was because of the Missouri River flood back in 1952 which made the theatre facilities unavailable. We still had two performances though, one on Friday night and another on Saturday night. Each night we gathered together on the stage before the curtains opened and Mrs. Cronin prayed. It was extremely hard to fight back the tears then, but somehow I pulled it together both nights. Together Ballet I had eight dances, and then we each had a senior solo or duet. I had a tap duet to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Joseph who was a sophomore. It was such a fun dance! When the time came to perform my last dance, I couldn't believe it. Mrs. Cronin told us we were not allowed to cry until it was all over, and when that woman tells you something, you listen. J As we were taking our final bow, however, everyone broke down. It was definitely one of the saddest moments of my life knowing my dance career had come to an end.

            After the Saturday night performance, we all met at Mrs. Cronin's house for a party. We ate pizza and scotcharoo bars while watching the show. Mrs. Cronin also gave us our senior gifts, and then we took one final group picture. As I was heading out to my car, Mrs. Cronin called me back in to help her with something. After we figured it out, we started chatting and before we knew it, it was 2 AM! Crazy! I love that lady. J

Thanks for reading!

-          Katherine Van Gerpen

 

 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Never a dull moment...

On Tuesday night I went to "Madagascar 3 Europe's Most Wanted" with two little runts. J

Back in January I got an email from a third grade teacher asking if I was interested in mentoring one of her students. I agreed to come every day during my open period and spend about forty-five minutes with Whitney. Whitney is an enthusiastic ten-year-old who is very caring and always careful to include everyone. She struggled with certain subjects in school though, which is where I came in. Most of the time I helped Whitney with math, and after a week or so, I could tell she was beginning to like the subject more, which resulted in her doing better with it.

About a week after I began mentoring Whitney, her teacher, Mrs. Overweg, told me she had another student she wanted to find a mentor for. She had already asked many high school boys but hadn't had any luck. I told her I had a few in mind that I would ask. Unfortunately, most of them were already mentoring students or weren't interested in giving up their free period. Therefore, I started mentoring both Whitney and Deven. Deven is a fun-loving, innocent boy whose heart is bigger than he is. Since I was in their classroom every day, I became a familiar face to the entire class, and pretty soon I found myself answering questions of all the students. After not too long, I began getting hugs from students other than Whitney and Deven. The purpose of me going to their class was to help them, but I think I benefited more from the daily visits than they did. It sounds cheesy, but they always brightened my day. Thanks to Mrs. Overweg's class, I was always smiling a little bigger when I left the school.

I was able to spend the entire last day of school with the class because I had already graduated. For most of the class, it was a sad day. Mrs. Overweg is such a great teacher, and they didn't want their year with her to end. For Deven it was an especially sad day. He didn't want school to be done because he didn't like summer. He told me that he never had anyone to play with. This jerked at my heartstrings pretty hard. We ate lunch at a park near the school, and before I said my final goodbye to the class, I asked Mrs. Overweg if she thought it would be good for me to take Deven to a movie or to get ice cream sometime during the summer. She thought that was a great idea and gave me his dad's name.

I had no plans after work on Tuesday, June 12. It looked like it might rain, and I thought it would be a good night to go to a movie. After finally getting in touch with Deven's family, we confirmed I would pick Deven up at seven. About five minutes after I hung up with his grandma, I got a call from the same number. I was worried they were calling to cancel, but when I picked up the phone, it was Deven. He was calling to ask me if his five-year-old sister could come to the movie with us. I told him of course; the more the merrier!

At seven I pulled up to their house. Deven and his little sister Kylie came running out with their family right behind. I introduced myself to his grandma and dad, and then we left for the theater. After buying tickets and snacks, we found seats. As soon as I got everyone situated, Deven and Kylie on either side of me, the movie began. Everything was going smoothly until about half way through the film when Deven realized his tooth was loose and bleeding. He said he was going to run to the bathroom and see how bad it was. After several minutes Deven ran down the aisle and told me to come with him. I looked over at Kylie peacefully sleeping. Since I knew the family sitting behind us, I was OK leaving her for just a minute while I went out with Deven. 

Needless to say, a minute turned into five minutes. When I walked into the men's bathroom, there was blood all over the sink and dirty Kleenexes everywhere. I helped Deven stop the bleeding and cleaned up the sink. I put his tooth in a Kleenex and then accidentally threw it away along with the other dirty tissues. Luckily, I found it in the garbage not a second too soon. Just as he asked, "Where's my tooth?" I discovered the Kleenex holding the little treasure and told him not to worry. Whew! All of the sudden, I heard Kylie crying and ran out of the bathroom. She had woken up and not surprisingly, was wondering where we were. The mother sitting behind us brought her out, and I explained to her the situation, as I would not normally leave a five-year-old by herself. She completely understood and so did Kylie after we told her Deven had lost a tooth. (My favorite part of the whole night is coming up!) After the bleeding had ceased and the bathroom sink was spotless, we all went back into the theater. As we were walking Deven said to his younger sister, "Kylie, if the tooth fairy gives me two dollars for this tooth, I'll give one to you, ok?" Kylie smiled big and nodded. This melted my heart.

For the rest of the movie, Kylie insisted on sitting in my lap. I'm sure she thought as long as she's on me, I can't leave without her. Deven, Kylie, and I laughed through the rest of the movie. I'm clearly still a kid at heart, because I honestly, really enjoyed the movie. Most of all, I enjoyed spending time with these two awesome kids… even though it was a little more dramatic than I had anticipated. I can't wait for our next adventure. J

-          Katherine Van Gerpen

Friday, June 8, 2012

That's a wrap!

Can February March?

No, but April May.

 

The past month and a half has flown by! After I wrote my last blog, I realized I forgot to mention a trip I took to Minneapolis back in February. Six other State Student Council members and I traveled to Minneapolis to attend the Region IV Student Council meeting. I planned to sleep during the car ride, but instead, I ended up talking and singing with the others in my vehicle the entire five hours. The cheer we repeated over and over was for our driver. Rebby, Rebby, she's our gal! If she can't do it, no one shall! Gooo Rebby! J The main purpose of this meeting was to choose the new Region IV NASC representative, and it ended up being our South Dakota candidate! We also did a service project while we were there. We made mittens and ear warmers out of recycled clothing. I thought it was a neat idea! After we finished with our work, we visited the Mall of America where I spent most of my time on rides at Camp Nickelodeon. My favorite part of the trip, however, was staying up until 3:30 AM the last night telling anti-jokes with some of the North Dakota representatives. You would think after such a busy weekend and late night we would have slept on the way home, but once again, we spent the entire five hours chatting… We can sleep when we're dead, right?

 

Here is where I pick up from my last blog… The weekend after our Parent Senior Party was Prom! If you read my last blog, you know I got my tonsils taken out in March and lost quite a few pounds because of it. My prom dress had to be taken in four inches because it was two sizes too big! Luckily, it all worked out, and when prom finally rolled around, my dress fit perfectly. The group I went in was huge! We had eight couples, which made it interesting to make dinner reservations. We ended up eating at RedRossa, which was new in town at the time, and had a great time naming our food babies! J Prom was a week or two later than it usually is, and when we got to the dance, it was still light in the gym because of the openings in the roof and the fact that the sun hadn't set yet. This made me laugh! Post Prom followed the dance, and I was determined to get hypnotized. I wasn't chosen to sit in the chairs, but the hypnotist told a few of us we could sit on the floor in front and try to go under too. Before I knew it, I woke up sitting in one of the chairs, without my shoes on, and my throat hurt. Many of my fellow students quickly filled me in on why my throat her and my shoes were in the crowd. Needless to say, it was an experience I will never remember, but the pictures sure make me laugh.

 

The following Friday was Senior Awards Night. It made me proud to hear how many of my fellow classmates earned scholarships. Our class had 151 seniors, and all our scholarships added up to be more than $1.5 million. That blows my mind! The next weekend my parents drove me to Sioux Falls to register for classes at Augustana. It was crazy sitting there realizing that's where I would be living in just a few months. I'm still wondering how I'm going to find my way around the campus at first. While I was there, they suggested the incoming freshman get a head start on a book we will have to read in the fall. Therefore, I bought my "homework" for the summer. It just never ends! J The next weekend we drove back to the Sioux Falls area to pick up my graduation present in Tea… a pearly white Ford Edge that meets all my requirements for a car! I'm so happy I waited for the right one.

The next day was Senior Sunday at my church. The seniors sat up front during the service. After the sermon the congregation said a prayer over us, and then we received quilts made by our church's quilters. Following the service there was a luncheon in the fellowship hall for all the seniors and their families. The seniors gave a more in depth explanation of their plans, and because it was also Mother's day, we were encouraged to tell a story about our mom. Little did we know our parents would also have the opportunity to tell a story about us. I laughed so hard I cried as my dad told everyone about a huge "blonde moment" I had just a few years ago… If you are interested in hearing it, you can ask him. J Immediately after our lunch was over, I headed to Baccalaureate. It was a nice ceremony that celebrated everyone's talents. My favorite part was a skit put on by a few of the seniors about everything we've learned since kindergarten. It was cleverly scripted by one of them too, which made it all the more impressive!

 

My last day of high school came all too soon. Fortunately, the day was one to remember. That day I got to meet my Calculus teacher's new baby.  I love babies! I also finished my senior brick. The tradition of painting senior bricks has been going on in Pierre for about seven years. I included a picture for you to see mine still in the making. My last day of school was also my last day reading the morning announcements. Surprisingly, that made me very sad and reminded me to never take ANYTHING for granted… even things that sometimes feel like chores. The rest of the week I had semester tests, graduation practice, senior picnic, and graduation parties. I was invited to about seventy parties, but since it is not humanly possible to make it to that many over just one weekend, I unfortunately missed a few. Thanks to my parents though, my party was a success. I really enjoyed seeing old neighbors and longtime friends who I don't see very often. The hug-fest was a perfect way to prepare for the next day. J

 

            Then graduation… What a day. Most of my family was able to come for my graduation. I had to leave the house before they got to town so it was exciting to get big hugs from them after everything was official, and I had my diploma! I was also very excited they could share my big day with me because I was chosen to give a speech, which you can view by following this link: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150989469361514. I wanted to make my speech unique to our class, so you couldn't read it at any other graduation. Our graduation ceremony is outside and because it was a little windy, as I was speaking my voice was echoing back at me. If this has happened to you before, you know how difficult it is to speak when you're hearing what you said a second or so later. Despite being caught off guard, my speech went well and the crowd laughed at the things they were supposed to laugh at. J Later I learned I even made some mother's cry. Prompting laughs and tears, I think my speech was a direct reflection of the day. Bittersweet. 

 

There are a lot of pictures below so don't miss 'em! J

-          Katherine Van Gerpen