Amanda Dorough | She's Paying It Off

The Story of My Journey to Debt Freedom, One Tiny Step at a Time

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That Was Insanity

You probably don’t know this but I LOVE the Seattle Seahawks.  Like really love them.  I’m not the most outspoken fan out there but if only you know about my obsession.  Oh boy.

Now I’ll admit I’ve not always been a Hawks fan, not because I didn’t actually like them, it was mainly because my parents weren’t into sports.  While many kids grow up going to sporting events with their dads I went gold panning in the middle of nowhere.  Ya we’re weird like that.  Sometime, about 9  years ago though, while I was in college, it clicked for me, a learned that football is both exciting and fun. My dad on the other hand?  Well as I watched the intense NFC playoff game with the 49ers couple weeks ago he sat in the seat next to me complaining about how Washington tax payers are still paying off the Kingdome (which, FYI in case you didn’t know, was imploded 14 years ago to make way for what is now Centurylink Field).  I had to ask him the to leave the room.

So I bet you can imagine my overwhelming, exuberant, enormous joy when the Hawks won the Superbowl last Sunday.  My Hawks didn’t disappoint. It felt like they were considered the underdogs going into the competition, but they shut everyone up really quickly.  I have to say honestly, I did expect them to win, but, I didn’t expect it to be a blow out.

That night while I was watching highlights from the game on my local news channel they announced that the victory parade would be happening on Wednesday.  I just happen to have Wednesdays off,  so I knew I had to go.  I found a friend to go with and headed to my closest Walmart to pick up a Superbowl Champions shirt large enough to wear over a half dozen layers since the weather was supposed to be frigid.

Well, my friend ended up backing out due to sickness, and I’ll admit for a minute I considered not going, mostly based on fear.  Fear of getting myself into a huge crowd alone and fear of using unfamiliar public transportation.  At that point I had to give myself a pep talk.  I mean, I had lived abroad and traveled on my own through foreign and much scarier cities than Seattle.  This parade, for our first Superbowl win ever, is only going to happen once.  I needed to go.

I left my house at 7:30 and headed down to the Auburn Sounder station.  What was I thinking?  It was already jam packed.  Luckily my Dad works about half a mile away so I decided to park there and walk to the station.  Remember that cold weather I had mentioned?  Ya it delivered.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if there hadn’t been any wind.  It was the wind that was biting.  Although the air temp was somewhere in the mid 20’s the wind made it somewhere in the low teens.  Brrrrr!

I’m not exaggerating when I say everyone and their uncle was at the Auburn Sounder Station this morning.  I had given myself enough time to catch the two last trains out, that way in case I didn’t make one I could get the other.  I got in one of the 20 or so lines and waited my turn.  Waiting.  Waiting.  The first train pulls up and it was jam packed.  Like a sardines can, but still about 10 people from in front of me managed to get on.  I knew I wasn’t going to make it, so my attention instead was drawn to a woman in the line next to me.  There was absolutely no room left on the train through her door but she was fighting with someone to let her and her 3 children on.  I thought fists were going to fly.  Not classy lady, not classy.

Auburn Station- Waiting for a train we'll never ride

By the time the train pulled away I was officially 3rd in line.  I felt like my odds were good at making it on the next and final train of the morning.  Fast forward 10 minutes, a woman comes onto the loud speaker and announces “Attention Seahawks fan.  The last train is full.  No one will be allowed to get aboard.  We have arranged for buses to come and pick you up.”  Commence mass mob movement from the train platform to the bus area.

I don’t know how long we waited.  I think it was about an hour but it felt like 5.  Finally, that glorious bus scrolling “Go Seahawks” on it’s destination board pulled up.  Normally I wouldn’t refer to a bus as glorious but by this point I was borderline hypothermic so I wanted to get on the bus super badly.  And just my luck, by the time I got on there was exactly one seat left. You know how on some buses there is a long back row that has 5 seats on it?  Ya that’s the seat, and I was positioned right between 8 highschoolers playing hookie.  Commence akward leaning forward and back so that they can talk to each other over me.  Thank goodness for my iPod.

Seahawks Parade

Traffic stunk, go figure, but an hour later we had finally pulled up next to Safeco field.  Everyone got off and we joined the thriving mob of 700,000+ people trying to catch a glimpse of our “super” heroes (get it? Super heroes, Super Bowl,  haha, I crack myself up).  My original plan had been to head up to the Westlake Center area on 4th Ave.  Hahaha, ya, that didn’t happen.  I found the closest spot on the parade route to me and planted myself there.  The corner of Washington St and 2nd become my home for the next 3 hours.

Seahawks Parade

Jam packed doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Insanity like my title suggests is the most accurate description.  People continually moving and trying to find the best spot to view the parade made many frustrated.  Rumors abounded.  The word on the street was that if the surging mob of people didn’t clear a path down the street they would reroute the parade.  Everyone feverishly pulled out their smartphones to see if the rumors were true only to find that there was no cell service.  I had full bars, but where it normally says 4G next to the bars it only said G.  I wonder what that means?

Seahawks Parade

Seahawks Parade

The rumors proved to be false and soon we noticed Seattle police clearing a small path through the crowd in the distance.  The crowd sang along to “We are the Champions” and “Can’t Hold Us” blared from speakers on the roof of the Union Gospel Mission as we waiting for the moment for something, anything to round the corned and come our direction.  Finally, at 1:30, an hour later than originally planned, 3 officers on horseback (yes in Seattle we still have officers on horseback, we’re that cool) rode through clearing the way and the first bus became noticeable in the distance. The crowd erupted.  One group cheering “Sea” and the next “Hawks” back and forth back and forth.

Seahawks Parade

Seahawks Parade

It was at this point I’d realized I’d gotten myself in a bad spot.  I was surrounded by a lot of very tall people.  The situation was made even worse when those tall people (and short people too) would thrust their smart phones into the air.  I found myself longing for the day when it wasn’t so easy to digitally document our daily lives.  It would have made my view much nicer.  But, despite all of the articles blocking my view I was still able to see everyone.  All of my favorite players, immortalized on TV rolled by.

Seahawks Parade

Unfortunately my pictures aren’t super great.  I was literally shooting blind, with my camera thrust high into the air above my head to try to get above the aforementioned tall people with phones, but I will post them anyway.

First up was Marshawn Lynch riding by on the hood of one of our Seattle Ducks.

Seahawks Parade- Beast Mode!

Seahawks Parade

Then came a slew of Seattle/ Washington political figures I didn’t really care about followed closely by Pete Carroll thrusting the Lombardi trophy high into the air.

Seahawks Parade- Lombardi

Right behind Carroll came the players separated into different National Guard vehicles based on positions.

Seahawks Parade

Seahawks Parade

Seahawks Parade

Seahawks Parade

And then last up the Legion of Boom, along with the very vocal Richard Sherman.

Seahawks Parade

Then, suddenly it was over as quickly as it began.  As the last group of players drove onwards the mass of people suddenly swelled forward.  Onward towards the stadiums or onward home.  I myself headed directly for the train.  It took me a minute to find the right spot and when I did I found myself in a massive line, or should I say mob to get on.  I was pretty certain I wouldn’t make the first train, but 30 minutes later, pushed entirely by the mass of bodies around me, I made it on the first train out.  Hallelujah!

Exhausted, frozen and starving I made my way home.  It had felt like the longest day ever but in the end it was oh so worth it.

As each day presses on it seems like the fever that surrounded our Super Bowl win lessons a little more.  People have gone back to their daily lives, some have transitioned into the upcoming MLB season, while others just do what they always do.  For me, I’m so thankful that I got to be home to share this victory with so many of my fellow 12’s.  For years I’ve watched the football seasons from afar, simply settling for updates online, but this, this was extra special.  Good job Hawks.  You deserved it, now more than ever.


2 Months Later….

Catching Up:

Paused.  That’s what my life has felt like these last few months.  The first week of February I started a new job.  I’ve learned that the split-shift schedule doesn’t agree with me.  In those six hours in-between my shifts I get NOTHING done.  It’s like I can’t even function.  I don’t want to clean, I don’t want to shop I just want to sleep, or sit or not do anything.  I’ve gotten lazy I guess, and I don’t like it.

My first step to getting back to, well, life was to clean.  My bedroom was looking like a pit I tell you.  But my second step is posting here on my blog and to start writing about the things that make me excited.  So here’s my declaration to you, my friends, my family and whoever else may be reading, I will post at least 1 blog a week from here on out.  I can do it!


The Filler:

Ok, so my last two months weren’t a total waste…

At the end of February I went up to Snoqualmie Pass with my churches youth group to go tubing.  It was practically blizzard conditions.  We got at least 6 inches of snow in our two hours up there and were soaked in minutes, but I think everyone still had fun.


Then, at the beginning of March I went with my Mexico team down to Winema camp on the Oregon coast where all the church’s going on the mission trip come together for a retreat every year.  We had sun most of the time, except for Saturday afternoon, which, unfortunately is also when everyone is out doing various jobs around camp. I helped by pulling logs out of the forest, and I got totally soaked.


I would also like to tell you that I went to the Jesus Culture concert last week, except I didn’t because no one told me they were coming to town.  Bummer.

So that’s the first couple months of 2013, not super exciting, but I have a good feeling about the rest of the year!

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When I was in high school, none of the yearly youth group activities got us as excited as Sandblast.  Four days of camping and running around like crazy people in the ruins of Fort Worden, a fort built at the turn of the century (20th not 21st) to help protect Puget Sound, which now sits dark and damp on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

I have nothing but good memories of Sandblast, so you can imagine that when I was asked to go along as an adult leader this year I jumped at the chance.

With 12 youth and 5 adults we loaded up three vehicles and headed to the fort.  For 3 nights we “suffered” in the cold, well freezing, but the day’s were pleasant enough and while we did meet some bad-attitude brick walls, we made it through and I think the kids got so much out of it.

When we weren’t running around the forts playing games like sardines, Romans and Christians and capture the flag, we were doing team building activities, sharing testimonies and teaching this hyper group of teenagers how to sit down and get close to God through daily devotions, and it was great.

Fort Worden

Crazy sunset on our first night at the fort.

Fort Worden

Where one of the giant guns used it be. It would take 51 men to load and shoot it. Wow!

Fort Worden

Time for devotions.

Fort Worden

Sandcastle building contest.

Fort Worden

The winners and their sand alligators.

Fort Worden

The upper fort, a perfect place to play a game of smugglers!

Fort Worden

And they’re off! Playing a game of Romans and Christians.

It’s such a joy to be able to help and enjoy times like this with my youth while I’m still in America.  I am so, so thankful that I’ve been home in the summertime so that I not only get to enjoy time with the youth group but time with my family as well.  It’s been such a blessing!


Enjoying the Moments

Out of the past 10 years since graduating from high school I’ve spent a grand total of 3 years at home.  Life has has taken me several different directions, from around the US to around the world.  I cherish every moment I’ve been given to have incredible experiences and see God’s incredible world, but even more now, I cherish the moments I’m able to spend with my family, since I’m far away for often than I’m near.

Because I will be leaving once again, for an undetermined amount of time as I pursue God’s leading in Bolivia I made a conscious decision the try to enjoy as many moments with my family this summer as I could.

While work, various obligations and day-camp have all taken us in many different directions this summer there’s nothing like a family vacation to bring us all together.  So two week ago my family packed up our two cars and headed to Lake Bonaparte in eastern Washington.

On the ride there my sister Emily, my niece Elaina and I drove in my mom’s SUV (while my parents were in my dad’s Camero convertible, jealous).  We cranked up some mixed CD’s and just enjoyed the ride, driving through a couple forest fires and making a pit-stop in Leavenworth along the way.


LeavenworthOur week at the lake was in one word, peaceful.  It was nearly silent, the only sound breaking up the stillness was the distant call of a Loon, or the occasional crunch of a car driving on gravel.



We stayed in a pretty rustic cabin.  We’re talking bunk beds, no kitchen, no running water and no personal bathroom.  But we made do and the perfect weather and crystal clear lake water made up for what the lodging lacked.

CabinLakeSquirrel We passed our time by reading (I finished 3 books…), swimming, playing card games and hiking.  I loved that we had literally NOTHING we had to do and I finally got the rest I needed so baldy since returning from the race.

GamesSwimmingFishingFamilyMy parents left a day early to drive up to BC to meet my dad’s cousins so Emily, Elaina and I decided to take the long way home, making a stop in the “Wild West” town of Winthrop and driving along one of my favorite roads, the North Cascades Highway.

WinthropWinthropNorth Cascades HighwayNorth Cascades HighwayNorth Cascades HighwayWhile my family didn’t spend every second in harmony, I wouldn’t have traded that week for the world, because I don’t know when I’ll get this again.  Maybe a couple months, maybe a year, or maybe more…

Now, as summer wraps up and the school year looms there will be less adventures but I have another one I’ll be sharing with you in the next few days!

So how about you?  Have you gotten to go on any family adventures this summer?

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A Week in the Life: Two For the Price of One!

a week in the life

It’s been a busy two weeks!  Between camping, cleaning and writing support letters for Bolivia (my intended departure date is coming up fast!) I couldn’t seem to find the time to post my week’s in the life, but there’s good news!  Two bits of good news actually, first, my family has finally left the stoneage and purchased a wireless router!  I’ve gotten so much done in three hours already, this amount would have taken me at least a week when I used to have to “plug in” my laptop.  So thankful those days are over!  And the second bit of good news is I have a few actual, meaty, non-week in the life blog’s to post in the next few days, so get ready!

witl-41.Ellie is our own little “Fancy Nancy,” taking every opportunity she can do dress up! 2.  Lunch at the Windmill Gardens in Sumner.  Even when I’m not traveling I can pretend like I am with the cute European windmill. 3.  Spending time with my 85 years young grandma. 4.  My favorite summer treat, going to the Drive-In! To bad I was not a fan of Total Recall. 5. I was blessed to have the opportunity to photograph my dear friend MB’s wedding.  I was so busy with my DSLR that I only got the chance to snap this one pic on Instagram. 6.  She also hapened to get married on the hottest day of the year, it made for some gorgeous pics though.  I snapped this one on the drive home.  7. My favorite little town in Washington, Leavenworth.  A bit of Bavaria in Washington State! 8. Forest fires are ripping up Eastern Washington right now.  It breaks my heart.


1.  I spent a week reading, relaxing and swimming at Eastern WA’s Lake Bonaparte. 2. Lake Bonaparte from our cabins porch. 3. My favorite game ever!  Discovered by my team in Bolivia, I found it at a store in Leavenworth and my sister and I played it all week! 4. Cooling off with Ellie in the lake.  The water was crystal clear, I loved it. 5. I’ve always known about Leavenworth, the themed Bavarian town, but I never knew about Winthrop, a themed Cowboy town!  It was pretty cool.  6.  Taking the long way home across the North Cascades Highway, possibly the prettiest drive I’ve ever been on, and I love the color of Diablo Lake! 7.  Celebrating my birthday with my family.  To appease the masses I passed over my traditional funfetti cake for a red velvet cake instead.  It was a hit.  8.  Spending time with our incredible neighbors, wishing they didn’t primarily live in Hawaii/Germany.

So there you have it.  Two weeks in the life!  Now, I just can’t wait for the weeks I spend in Bolivia and the cool things God is going to show!


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A Week In The Life: July 17-23

a week in the lifeFrom the mountains of Georgia all the way back to Seattle, this week was a busy one!awitl

1.  I,J,K and L squads barter for their dinner during a market simulation at their training camp at Taccoa Falls College in Georgia.
2.  Only my favorite restaurant in the whole world, Texas Roadhouse.  They need to come to Washington soon!  But it was good to make a trip there on my last full day in Georgia after a long day at Training Camp.
3.  Taking off two hours late (which was actually a good thing after getting caught in Atlanta traffic) I didn’t make it back to Seattle until 2am.  TIRED.
4.  I love summer flowers, especially on a nice sunny day.
5.  Birthday dinner with the family at Azteca!
6.  Back to Normandy CC for an awesome sermon from Kyle.
7. The new look of the Seattle waterfront.
8.  Playing tour guide at Pike Place market with Kim.  I love the flowers!

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Encountering Home: Puget Sound

In the past 9 years I’ve spent more time away from Washington than “home.” I’ve gotten the chance to see the world.  Thirty-six countries on seven continents later, I’ve experienced big cities, from Hong Kong to New Delhi to Johannesburg and Istanbul.  Each of the cities are incredible and beautiful, but none of them compare to home.  I miss the beauty of Seattle.  The waterfront, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound.  There is no other city in the world with the same combination of human and natural wonders, and I love it.

So, in my brief amount of time in the Pacific Northwest this summer I want to be able to re-encounter and enjoy my surroundings.  To see the things that made me fall in love with Seattle in the first place and hopefully get others to see that Seattle isn’t all clouds and rain, and possibly fall in love with it too.

So to start of my “series,” this past week I encountered one of the natural wonders that defines Western Washington.  Puget Sound, an inlet of water featuring nearly 200 islands, views of snow-capped mountains and incredible wildlife. I love just standing on its shore, although I would never recommend swimming in it.

My favorite way to see Puget Sound?  By ferry of course! And Washington just so happens to have to most extensive ferry system in the US and the most used ferry system in the world!


A view of Bremerton with the Olympic Mountains towering behind the city.

Mount Rainier

Looking south at Mount Rainer, aka my mountain.  This view never gets old.


Coming up on Seattle with the still-snowcapped Cascade Mountains in the background.

Seattle Waterfront

The Seattle waterfront.

Puget Sound Ferry

A Washington ferry crossing Puget Sound from Fauntleroy to Southworth.

Puget Sound Beach

Walking along the beach in search of seashells and sea glass.