November 21, 2010

Confirmation Retreat

To piggy-back off of my most recent post, I'm going to continue on with more church related things. Growing up Catholic was never that big of a deal to me until I got into the last two years of high school. I was blessed with the most amazing Youth Minister (hi, Eileen!) known to mankind. Absolutely amazing. If I could adopt her as my older sister, I would in a heartbeat. She opened my heart and my eyes to the Lord more than I could even imagine and for that, I owe her everything.

Anyway, in the last twelve months, I have also been truly blessed to have been able to lead four church retreats under Eileen's leadership--one being a couple weekends ago. Since living in San Diego, I wasn't sure if I would able to make it "home" to lead the retreat, but by pulling some strings, I was there! And boy oh boy, am I so very glad I went. I say this about every retreat I go on or lead, but that was one of the best weekends of my life. Leading high schoolers to know and love Jesus is just incredible. There is nothing more that I would want to do with my weekends than lead Eileen's retreats. They are just...marvelous. I am speechless, which isn't a common occurrence! Below are a few pictures from the most recent retreat, the Confirmation I retreat.

My small group

The entire group :)

A labyrinth perfect for self-reflection

The beautiful Eileen and me :)

"No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

November 20, 2010

On my heart...

When I wrote the post about Korrine a couple weeks ago, sweet comments and emails were pouring in via Facebook and here leading me to praise the Lord for everything that I have and don't have even more than I do. It really touches me that all these people are thanking me for writing such a beautiful post, but really, He is just using me as a vessel to spread Korrine's glory and His mercy as well.

A couple Wednesdays ago (Korrine's death date), another close, close friend of mine, H (my bff's little brother), sent me a chat on Facebook and said he was crying about the post and really wanted to thank me. We talked about Korrine a little bit and also death in general. Quite morbid, but it was a deep, moving conversation--one that not many people can have with the opposite gender in teenage years AND without getting the chills and/or crying.

He then broke some other bone-chilling information. H told me that his good friend that he met this past summer at church camp from out of state was diagnosed with Leukemia a couple days before this chat and she was given eight months to live.





I wanted to cry. Actually, I did, what am I talking about? I was so sad and upset all at the same time. There I was, upset but looking for the goodness coming about from Korrine's death and then receiving news and crying about yet another young teen that I had never even met before. Cancer sucks, I hate it. I don't even know this girl but knowing that she has an aggressive form of cancer and a time limit left on her life hit me deep. Before I started talking to H, I was on an energy surge from the Giants first World Series win and the Sharks win that night as well, so needless to say any wind that was in my sails was immediately gone. What's scary is that people all over the world and all across our nation day and are diagnosed with cancer each and every day of our lives. Every day.

What would you do if you were given eight months to live? Not even that but she is seventeen years old, making me barely a year older than her. When my roommate got back to our room for the night, we started talking about what we would do if we were diagnosed with cancer. Probably not the most uplifting conversation to have, but we talk about some strange things. I immediately said that I would drop out of school and spend every waking moment with the people I love doing nothing but fun things. Like Lori Harper once said, I would not waste any rainy days or hours of daylight, for those are the moments where spontaneity are most present and besides, who knows how long we will have the ability to enjoy them? The thoughts of, "oh, tomorrow" or "well...maybe next week" would be flushed out the window. Like I try so very hard to do now, I would live completely in the moment and quit dwelling in the past or meticulously planning out my future.

"Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices." Psalm 37:7

Be still. Have patience. Wait for the Lord, for He has plans for each and every one of us. Cancer sucks, but knowing God is by our sides every step of the way is so encouraging. He planned this for us and for that very reason, we must accept it and carry on.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." John 14.27


October 27, 2010

That Blog Post That No One Should Have To Write But End Up Writing Anyway.

When I was a ripe fifteen years old, I was in the middle of my sophomore year of high school just chuggin' along thinking that things were just grand. Little did I know, they weren't.

December 20, 2007 a dear, genuine, selfless, bright, happy, God-loving friend was diagnosed with Choriocarcinoma--a very rare type of cancer occurring most commonly in teenage girls. It started in her left ovary, spread to the right, up to her liver, and even touched on the lungs. December 21, 2007, Korrine found herself in the OR as a cantaloupe sized tumor was removed from her left ovary. Did I mention that Korrine was thirteen years old at this time?

From there, she started ten rounds of very intense chemotherapy done at Kaiser of Oakland. In April of 2008, her liver started bleeding and from there she was transferred to UCSF medical center (in San Francisco) and spent a month in the ICU there. Her abdomen filled with five liters of blood before the medical staff was able to cease the liver from bleeding. Not only that, but both her lungs collapsed during a CT scan to check for progress and almost took her life. With all of this bleeding, draining, repeating, Korrine received numerous blood and platelet transfusions. What I also didn't mention was that Korrine had A- blood and could only receive this extremely rare type of blood. Nothing's easy when it comes to cancer, is it?

While she was in the ICU, I got the most precious voice message from her mother--who is nothing short of a Saint. I still have the message saved on my phone and in it, all she talks about is how great our other two friends and I are and how it is so incredibly gracious for us to come spend some time with Korrine in her hospital room. Us? Great? Korrine was a legend, fighting for her life! People were practically fighting to go see her! When Dana called me that afternoon and asked if I would be willing to spend some time with Korrine in her ICU room, I almost collapsed. I was so stoked on life and to see one of my closest friends, I could not wait.

I will never forget that day. Seeing Korrine's beautiful bald head was absolutely astonishing and just sitting with her for a while one Friday afternoon was fantastic. It was June 6, 2008 to be exact. I forget a lot of things, but I do not forget things that are important to me. Just being able to talk to her about things not related to cancer like water polo, school, friends, and life in general were so comforting. Her parents updated her Team KC blog often so all I ever heard about was cancer and what Korrine's "next step" was. In every single post they EVER wrote, everything was positive and they thanked God for everything. There were no negatives and that is what I absolutely love about Korrine and her family. Amazing, amazing people*.

*Speaking of amazing, they are living Korrine's dream and helping out many, many patients and families of Kaiser Oakland's pediatric oncology department and looking to open a Team KC house in Oakland for them to stay at very soon! Keep checking back!

Once Korrine finished her days at UCSF, she moved back to Kaiser Oakland and finished up last rounds of chemo before heading back home for the first time in a long, long time. In late June she was home and things were really looking up for her, until she suffer septic shock in July and was in the hospital for another two weeks.

She found herself back at home in late July, until she went in for an emergency round of chemotherapy in September when her tumor scans did not come back great. Unfortunately, that last round of chemo did not do any magic, and the doctors were out of options.

The day she died and the weeks following are also memories that will be sketched in my memory forever. It was a Monday, and I was hanging around school just like every other day of the week. The previous weeks and month we (meaning all my friends and I) had all been waiting to hear when she was going to pass away or if another miracle was going to be taking place. In physics Monday mid-morning, something sparked my attention and I looked at the clock to notice it was 11:45 am on the dot. Why did that matter to me? It didn't, at the time. Class wasn't over, I needed to get back to my work.

That afternoon, a friend of mine, JR, got called out of our last class and she looked at me puzzled. She had no idea what was going on. I sent JR a text asking what was up, and she didn't reply, which was very unusual. I lolly-gagged home just like the average fifteen year old, and found a message from JR's mom on our home answering machine, which I found very odd because parents didn't usually call on the home phones anymore. I let my mom call her back and when I heard a *gasp,* it hit me. Everything came crashing down and I felt like a ton of bricks smashed my heart into a million pieces. I instantly knew exactly what had happened and clicked over to the Team KC blog immediately only to find this:

I sat in tears on the couch for the next couple hours not wanting to do anything. Guess what else I found?

Korrine "went to be with the Lord at 11:45 A.M. today October 27, 2008"

11:45 am!?!?!??!? I looked at the clock during physics because God was nudging me and letting me know that a dear friend just went to be with Him and that I needed to remember this special moment. Thank you, Lord.

And thank you, dear readers, for following along and reading. This was a very sensitive moment in my life, one that I hope to never, ever forget. On this day, please remember to Thank God for everything you have and even for what you do not have. Also, would you mind praying for the Croghan family? As strong and faithful as they are, everyone struggles with loss. And at last, for me? I'm not around my normal support group this year who struggled with this same loss that I did and it will be a little lonely. Thank you! Love and peace to you all.

Dear Korrine,

I miss you like crazy but you probably already know that. Thanks for being such an inspiration and indirectly changing the person I am. I cannot believe it's already been two years!

Love you always and forever,

ps: You may notice this post is posted at 11:45 am, and it is on purpose, but for a good purpose. Take a moment to notice what is going on at certain times in life.

October 16, 2010

My 18th (four weeks later)

My birthday this year was something new for me. Not only was I entering a new phase of my life ("adulthood"), I also did not have my many, many friends swarming me with love notes, hugs, presents, and the like. Turning 18 is a big deal for some people, but really for me, it was just another year that I was about to embark on!

It was my golden birthday and for the day, my wonderful dad came down to San Diego to spend the day with me. It was so nice to see him on my birthday, especially since I hadn't spent time with him since a week before I moved. Another friend from home that lives down here in San Diego celebrated with us a little bit which was awesome as well!

In the morning, we went out to a nice little breakfast just the three of us. My friend, K, then had to leave and go to another function and so I then showed my dad around San Diego State (which took two hours...) and then we ventured downtown and relaxed along the ocean. All-in-all, it was a fabulous way to start my adult years and I could not have asked for anything better!

And of! :)

Pops and me...his birthday is 8 days before mine so this is "our" birthday cake :)

K and me sportin' the cute birthday cones :)

Me and pops with our birthday hats!

Somehow, I forgot to mention that my dad knows the way to my heart. Food. Happy birthday to ME!

Dad and me outside PetCo Park (where the Padres play). This was awesome because the Giants (my team) and the Padres were actually playing each other (but in SF). Aaaaaaaaand, the Giants ended up winning the National League West over the Padres. WOOHOO!!!!!!!!! GO GIANTS!!!!!! Headed to NLCS!

September 11, 2010

Where were you?

I had just rolled out of bed, heading straight for the kitchen. Who doesn't like to eat as soon as they wake up from a nice, rested slumber? As I crossed the family room, I heard a terrible shattering noise coming from the television. It was the 7 o'clock news that my dad always clicked on in the morning. I watched on replay over and over and over again how an airplane flew into our beloved twin towers in the beautiful city of New York. I wasn't really sure if this was real--I was eight after all. It's not everyday that planes just crash into buildings. Suddenly, all those flutters of hunger and want of breakfast disappeared. At the tender age of eight years old- exactly one week before I would turn nine- I had to watch an attack on terrorism.

That entire day of fourth grade- September 11, 2001- all we talked about was war, violence, attack, terrorism. It is nothing that any fourth grader should have to listen to, but there I was sitting in a classroom watching virtually our whole country spiral out of control.

Where were you?

September 10, 2010

Negligence and Friendship

An odd title, to say the least. How do negligence and friendship go hand-in-hand, one may ask? They don't. Unless of course you are neglecting a friend or being a faulty friend, then they possibly could.

Negligence is exactly what I am doing to this blog. On twitter I may boast about all this glorious free time in college that I have to do work, hangout with friends, go to practice, or whatever it may be that I find myself doing, except for blogging. I am still a newbie at this whole blogging thing so it's not always on the top of my mind when I'm thinking of things that I can do. I'm also not always on my A-game for blogging material...I need a spark to come! I sincerely am trying my very best to not keep you (is anyone there, anyway?) bored and hollow whilst looking at this blog! So, long story short, keep with me. ;)

Next, friendship. What is friendship? One may think of friendship as a bond between two or more people who share common characteristics or are involved in some of the same activities, whether they be sports, clubs, religious groups, etc. The dictionary on my dashboard is telling me that friendship is "the emotions or conducts of being friends" or "the state of mutual trust and support."

To me, friendship is...
  • not having enough space to fit all the faces that I love onto a bulletin board.
  • needing to schedule skype dates because each friend wants a different day.
  • getting cute little postcards in the mail while away for school.
  • shedding tears for those that I miss who are no longer with us.
  • being able to call anyone in my phonebook at any hour of the day just to chat.
  • meeting new people in college but never forgetting the old ones that got me here.
  • a care package sent to me just because.
  • never-ending love.

September 6, 2010

Pulling at my Heart Strings

Since opening this blog, I have gotten shed some information about myself but I have yet to get "deep". You can mark this post as the one in which Alex goes deep. :)

As a baby, I was baptized into the Catholic faith in my home parish and have been going to church there ever since. Well, ever since I moved to San Diego a week and a half ago. I spent 17 years and 11 months there- more than I have ever been anywhere else. When I was a tween and pre-teen (ages 11-15) I absolutely abhorred going to church. Hated it. So much, that I would pretend to sleep when my dad woke me up for mass. So much that I would pretend to be sick and cry until he left so I could go back to sleep. However, more times than not, I hauled myself out of bed and sulked all the way through mass. When I resided at my mom's house, she never really minded. It was my choice if I went to mass or not and I loved it! I felt like I was free and could do what I wanted. So, in that case, I hardly ever went when I was at her house.

About two years ago or so, I started to really feel a change in my attitude towards church. I started enjoying it and getting up every Sunday morning to attend. I felt appreciative for the opportunity to go and really took advantage of going. However, there's only so much one can do by going to mass one time per week. That's really all I did- one hour a week focusing on God, and the other 167 hours of the week were "me" time. Me, me, me.

That's when this beautiful lady jumped into my life. This gorgeous Jesus-freak from Southern California, E, came in a little over a year ago to take over the Youth Ministry program at my hometown church. Before she arrived, I was involved a bit with Youth Ministry. I was on the leadership team and led a retreat or two, but I never really felt it like I probably should have. Boy oh boy, did E change that!

I was a little hesitant when E stepped foot in our Youth Room for the first time as Youth Minister. I had already gone through a lot of change and disappointment in the years before that, the last thing I wanted was change in my church. It had also been quite a while since a woman led our youth program. Oh man, was I wrong. E has been the best thing that ever happened to me. Although, if I say that she will only say, "It's not me, it's God working through me!" Which is true, by the way. But how great is that? Amazing.

E and I have had many, many hearty conversations and it has felt so good to open up to her over the last year. I was blessed beyond measure to lead three of the retreats that she held last school year and shared at all three of them. It was then that I actually started feeling the Lord move inside of me and I suddenly became conscious of the fact that He really is with us all.the.time. I cannot even imagine where I would be without E and all her prayers, teachings, stories, etc. I love her dearly!!!

Life in Christ (LinC) retreat leaders 2010

With that being said, the move to San Diego for me has been a little bit rough. I absolutely love the college life and the city and everything about it, but I sincerely miss my church back home and all of the youth and adults that go there. They all fill me with such glee and I miss it!!!! I went to church yesterday for the first time here in San Diego and it felt so good to be back (I missed last Sunday, but it felt like an eternity). So good to be back. It was amazing. During mass, I started crying. It was so random... Crying real tears, which is semi-odd for me to do ever let alone in public. I think it was a mixture of missing home and being surrounded by strangers that hit me. I got over it quick! ;) Thank you for everything, E!! I wouldn't be half the person I am today without your guidance.

August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

(Sunrise in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains)

Swimming: the good, the bad, and the ugly

If you know me in real life or know just a little about me already, you probably know that I spend the majority of my days in the water. Water meaning pool (most of the time). I started swimming laps at the tender age of three and started competing just nine months later at four years old. As Brad Paisley would say, "and so it began, my love affair with water." I flippin' love swimming. LOVE IT. I have been swimming for so long (so long meaning fifteen years) that I consider it an integral part of my life.

Since high school has ended, I haven't swam too much because all the teams I was on ended after graduation. Lame! It was a sad end to the season(s) and then I got, this could possibly be the last time I ever swim competitively! It's actually really sad and after a couple weeks I already missed it. For about a week or two now, I have been lap swimming most mornings to keep myself active and in the water. Don't get me wrong, it has felt so incredibly nice, but something is missing. Do you happen to know what that something is? My team. My team(s) were the absolute best and without them with me all day every day, my heart feels a little bit empty.

And that leads me to the good, bad, and ugly of swimming (I'm sure non-swimmers have heard that it's a love/hate "relationship." And that, my friends, is 100% truth.):


Team bonding!

Knowing how to swim! This is always a plus because I can trust myself in the pool, plus it makes it easy to teach swim lessons! :)


Getting beat up on a weekly basis...(this is in water polo, actually)


Broken equipment. When I hear swimming, I think of very little clothing (or whatever), not much equipment, and little financial issues. The truth is, that swimming can quickly add up to be a very expensive depending how often you go through caps, goggles, swim suits, fins, pull buoys, etc.

August 18, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye sucks. The last time I had to say goodbye to someone was when I was about five years of age or so and my best friend in the whole entire world was moving to Nebraska. Lame! I, of course, had no idea what was going on except that my home away from home was completely empty and I was saying "bye bye" to my friend for what could very well be the last time. Luckily we still keep in touch but it's not the same from states away, rather than houses away.

Well, this week has been the week of goodbyes. Let's see, in the last week, I have been to four going away parties. FOUR! And at those parties were all the people (okay, not all) that I went to high school with and could possibly rarely see again. It was pretty sad but in all honesty, it was more of an exciting time than an emotional one.

(me and A)

This is my gorgeous, amazing, brilliant, stunning friend A. A is the best thing that ever happened to me in high school. I am so incredibly blessed to have met her and become so close to her. It is absolutely amazing how close her and I have gotten over the last four years. Anyway, A, being the Mormon she is, left for Utah on Tuesday morning to attend a University out there. I will miss her boat-loads but I know that she is going to do so well out there and that this has to happen at one point or another. Plus, while I'm sun-basking in San Diego this coming winter, she will be shoveling snow. Ha!

Here are a few pictures from the last couple months. Trust me, we have taken thousands together, so thank me for so few pictures! ;)

me and A at a water polo game

A and me camping

A and me at graduation

With her gone now for almost two full days, I may feel a little empty inside but deep inside I am still honored to call her my best friend and cannot wait until Christmas break when I get to see her again!!!!

August 9, 2010


After college, graduate school, residencies, three different locations, five different continents traveled to, many memories made, and seven years of dating...

...let me introduce to you Dr. and Mrs. A

July 31, 2010

Congratulations, L and P!!!!! You two are going to be a fabulous couple for the rest of your lives and be some awesome parents once parenthood comes your way. I am so blessed to have you both in my life- hopefully I will see you in Denver soon! xoxo

L and me on wedding day!

L and me at the Yankee game in NYC, 2007

July 30, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Being a lifeguard at a community pool, a swim instructor, and a babysitter practically takes up 18 of the 24 hours I have in each day. However, it also means I get a lot of interaction with children, which I love. Children are my passion and I aspire to have a career working with them one of these days.

Children also come up with some funny things to say. A warm summer day last year, this took place between me and a five-year-old (at the time) boy. Now, this boy is a member of a triplet family and so he also has a sister and brother. With that being said, let's get on to the conversation!

CB: "Hey, Alex!"

I poke his bellybutton and he giggles

Me: "Hey, CB!! Tickle, tickle."

CB: "Oh, that is close to my penis."

A little stunned, I try and blow off the situation.

Me: "Ah, yes well why aren't you in the pool?"

CB: "My penis is clean because I just got out of the pool! But did you know that GB (his sister) has something else?"

GB proceeds to join us next to my lifeguard stand.

Me: "Yep, she does! Because she is a girl and you are a boy."

CB: "Yeah, she's a girl so she has a hole. This one time, GB showed me her peepee and there was white stuff inside

Thanks for sharing.

New Beginnings

As I sat in the San Diego International airport the other day, I pondered the idea of starting a blog. I have been reading various blogs for a couple years: mommy blogs, cancer woes and milestones, and the occasional health blogs (I try avoiding these). I have never been one to write often, but in the last month or so the thought of starting a blog kept coming into my mind as an actual possibility. And that is how I got here...

New beginnings
New surroundings
New school
New friends
New study habits
New blog

As I head off to college in a couple weeks, I feel as if starting a blog is very fitting in the "new" department. Another reason for this is so I can remember my college days. I want to be able to look back in four years and see how I thought moving into the dorms was. Chances are, I probably won't remember once I'm graduating and finishing off my final clinicals and whatnot (if all goes as planned, that is).

Welcome to my new blog and my new beginnings.

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