Amanda Dorough | The Beautiful Journey


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Sweet, Sweet, Vacation

You guys, it had been years since I had a real honest to goodness vacation.  You know the type of week where you can just sit, relax, swim, basically do whatever you want to do without obligations.
And guys, boy was this vacation so sweet.
Honestly it couldn’t have come at a better time.  This past year has arguably been one of the most difficult of my life.  With Paramedic school and everything that comes along with it and then working 60+ hours a week on top of that.  Man I was tired.  So when my Dad called me in May asking if I’d want to come down to Washington for a week this summer and my parents would use their airmiles to get me there I was all about it.
I really lucked out too.  My parents rented a house on Long Lake, just outside of Spokane, and everything about it was perfect.  The house was adorable, the yard was huge (with fluffy grass!) and the water was the perfect temperature.
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I spent the week doing what I’ve been dreaming of doing for a year, reading and swimming.  I polished of 3 books and started 2 more.  There’s just nothing like getting into a good book.  The location also had the added benefit of limited/no cell service (forget about data), so it was a completely unintentional social media fast.
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The second night we were there we had a family bocce ball tournament.  Red team vs. Green team.  The stakes?  $50 and the ability to use it to choose whatever type of desert you want for the family.  Unfortunately my team didn’t win, but fortunately for me the team that did had good taste in desert.  Root beer floats the first night, then ice cream sundaes later in the week.  So good!
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On our second to last day my cousin Andrea and her family who live in Coeur de Alene came over to visit and brought their families boat.  We had been watching the boats out on the lake and practically drooling all week so it was exciting to finally get out on the water!  Tubing is one of my favorite water activities.  The more extreme maneuvers the better!
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I could have stayed there forever, sitting by the lake shore and reading my day, and roasting marshmallows and stargazing at night.  While my time at home was super sweet it was also way to short.  We literally drove back to Seattle and I was at the airport to fly back to Alaska just a couple hours later.
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I have no idea when my next vacation will be, but if it’s half as good as this one was then I’ll definitely be blessed.


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That Moment Everything Starts Feeling Very Real

I’ve never been the homesick type.  Not to say leaving home is always easy for me but the separation just isn’t that hard.  I mean I do have my moments where I rather be home than anywhere else, birthdays, holidays….

Like the first Christmas I ever spent away from home.  I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  With the time difference between there and the west coast the time when my family was all getting together to celebrate fell at about 6am Thailand time (the day after Christmas). Despite the early hour I resolved the get up and Skype with them, I’d never missed Christmas and this was huge for me.

I remember bawling when the internet at our guesthouse failed, tears continuing to run down my cheeks as I wandered the streets of Chiang Mai in my pajamas trying the find an internet cafe that was open, and I did, thankfully, and only got one funny look.

That was the first time I really truly felt homesick, a horrible ache that fortunately didn’t last long.

So why do I tell you this?

Because I am having a severe case of separation anxiety right now.  Homesickness without having even left home.

Did you know that this is the longest period I’ve spent at home, in Seattle, since graduating college 11 years ago? One year, 7.5 months.  And if I’ve learned nothing else from my time at home it’s that the longer you stay in one place the harder it is to leave it.

And what’s funny is I’ve probably said “I can’t wait to get out of here” (“here” being more specifically my parents house) at least 2 dozen times over the past 6 months alone, but now that I’m faced with the reality of departure in only 3 short days, I’m beginning to mourn what I leave behind.

Possibly it’s because the future is so full of uncertainty.  The present, while not preferable on most accounts is definitely comfortable.  I have a family I can rely on, friends to hang out with, a church family I can serve with….

But in a few short days those all melt away.  As I stand on the deck of the MV Columbia and wave goodbye to Washington I’ll be waving goodbye to all I know and love for an uncertain amount of time.  While there will definitely be visits seeing as how I’ve spent 2 Christmases away from home now and that’s more than enough to last a lifetime, my life will no longer be in Washington, at least for this season.

I know that once I reach Soldotna, start settling in and creating a new life this sadness will fade away, it always has before and God always provides for me, but for now, it aches.

There is a bright side though.  It’s kinda like when you’re physically injured and people try to tell you that the pain is good because at least it means you’re not dead. This pain is good too, because it means I have something really good to come back to one day.

And on a final note can I just say Praise the Lord for things like FaceTime, Skype and even cell phones.  I can’t imagine what this separation would have been like 20 years ago.  Technology is making the world smaller and smaller everyday.

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Ok now that I’ve gotten all those emotions out I wanted to just share some pictures from this summer, highlighting some of those things that are so hard to leave behind (get ready, this is about to get photo heavy!).

We’ll kick things off here with the 4th of July.  July 4th has always been a big deal for my family.  I grew up on a dead end street so all the neighbors would get together, BBQ and light off fireworks for hours, it was awesome!  Now, while personal fireworks are illegal most place around us, we live in a little unincorporated sliver, meaning there are no rules governing fireworks, and EVERYONE knows this so they come to our neighborhood and have a good ‘ole time.  This means our fireworks with friends/neighbors tradition gets to continue and we get to enjoy a pretty stinken big fireworks spectacular without ever having to leave our driveway.

Here’s my sweet niece Ellie rocking her Seahawks shirt and a huge sparkler, followed by my little sis Emily, her guy Richard and my soon-to-be nephew Ezekial 🙂

4th of JulyYay for fireworks!

4th of July

4th of July

Then one day in July my Moms family all gathered together at my grandparents house to eat dinner and watch old films from when my grandparents were younger…

But first let me just say that my Grandparents have some of the prettiest hydrangeas in town

Grandparents

My sweet grandma

Grandparents

The whole watching films thing turned into a bit of a debacle, mostly because no one could figure out how to set it up

Grandparents

Eventually we got it rolling, but we had to hand crank the bottom roll and after 5 minutes it started melting!… So we switched to slides instead and that seemed to work better

Grandparents

Next up came the birthday parties.  A lot of times in my family it can take us awhile to get together so we end up rolling multiple b-days into one.  This one included 4 in total: Both my aunts, mine and my cousins daughter Sammy.

Here’s Ellie and Sammy playing in the river

Bdays

And when they got done playing in the water they decided to pick Huckleberry’s instead, yum!

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I played a little next to the river too, with my camera that is.  Selfie time!

Bdays

And then there’s always cake of course.  My aunt and I shared a cake this year because honestly no one needs 4 cakes… well maybe sometimes you do 🙂

Bdays

I of course couldn’t leave Washington without getting up to my mountain (aka Mt. Rainier) one last time, so I took a couple of the girls from my youth group up hiking at Sunrise.

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier

And then came my last day at work.  My co-workers were incredible and blessed my socks off as I left.  I’ve only been gone for a week so far, but I’ll admit, I’m a little sad not getting to work with them everyday.  There are some really cool ladies right here.

Last day

This is Tracey, our lone Chinese agent.  I called her my Chinese mom.  This sweet lady has done some awesome things in her life!

Last day

Yep, I’m definitely going to miss them

Last day

And finally I leave off this post not with something I’m sad about leaving behind, but with something that makes me excited about my future.

At the beginning of July I got a chance to volunteer for Seatac Airports Tri-Annual Drill (TRIACE) and it was incredible!  I played one of 300 victims of a plane crash (they even had a whole backstory).  This was the largest drill of its kind ever done on the west coast and involved close to 200 emergency personal and even helicopters!

I made sure that I got there early enough in the morning to get one of the good (aka worst) injuries.  See, triage essentially has 4 stages, Black= dead or will die, Red= Needs to get to a hospital ASAP, Yellow= Needs to go to a hospital but can wait and Green= Not hurt or minor injuries.  My injury was in the red level and I had burns on my face, arm, neck and chest.  When we got there they gave us costumes and makeup to wear.  Mine involved this prosthetic burned chest piece that was definitely made for a guy as well as a t-shirt with the whole front burned away.  It’s a good thing I wore a tank top that day or I would have been showing a lot more than I cared to!

Here’s a glimpse of what it looked like.  My cellphone is lame and only has a rear facing camera so this is the best I could do.

Seatac DrillOnce the drill started they shuttled us all to the north end of the third runway and we all spread out on the tarmac around a training plane that the port has.  Thankfully it was the morning an not to hot yet otherwise I would have gotten a decent and patchy sunburn!

Once the drill began I felt like everything went really quickly.  Firefighters first got everyone that could walk away then came around  and tagged everyone with their triage level.  According to the description on a little card I got I could only sob in pain and say “I don’t know” to any questions asked (and not walk).  I’m not the best actress but I think I was pretty convincing.

This was my first experience on a backboard and my first experience in an ambulance, and it got me super stoked to become a paramedic.  Seriously guys, it’s going to be an awesome job.  It was also my first experience being interviewed for the news, although I didn’t make it on because of all the wildfire coverage going on at the time.  Oh well.

Here are a couple pictures I snagged from the write up the Seattle PI did about the event.  If you want to see more you can find it here.

I picked out this first one because I’m in it… barely haha.  If you look at the firefighters arm pointing and then work your way up to the first person laying down sideways, ya, that’s me.  I’m pretty famous now 😉

Drill

*Photo from the Seattle PI

Drill

*From the Seattle PI

You can also find more pictures from a different perspective on the Btown Blog here.  Every airport is required by the FAA to do a drill every three years, so if you get a chance to do one at your local airport I totally recommend it, and let me just say our emergency team were rockstars.  God willing they will never need to come together for an emergency like this, but if they do everyone will be in good hands.

 


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DIY Anthropologie Mirror

Man I love Anthropologie.  There’s something about exotic chic home decor and fashion that can leave me in a puddle of drool.

So when I stumbled across this picture of a bone inlay mirror online awhile back the reaction was no different.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Anthropologie Beech Fern Bone-Inlay Mirror

But like everything at Anthropolgie, I couldn’t afford it.

Then one day a few weeks ago, as I was going through my bedroom purging things I didn’t need I looked up and saw my mirror.  The white frame blended so well into my white wall that I rarely noticed it let alone used it, and that’s when I light bulb went off.  What if I painted it? And not just paint it but do my own faux bone inlay look.  Granted the shape of the frame is nothing like the scalloped Anthro beauty but still full of potential.

So that night I headed to Walmart to pick up some spray paint and the next morning I was out in my garage, armed with my can of “watermelon” paint going to town.  Let me show you just how it turned out…

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First things first.  I took some old newspapers and some masking tape and painstakingly covered all the spots on the mirror I didn’t want any paint to get on, which of course meant the reflective area but also the rope in the back (the mirror is about 60 years old, it actually belonged to my great grandma originally).

Mirror DIY

And then I sprayed away.

Mirror DIY

If I could do it over again I would have opted for a paint with a matte finish instead of gloss.  First because it ended up taking about 4 coats of paint to get an even look and second because I’m not a huge fan of the shiny effect.  Thankfully the paint from the flowers toned down the shiny-ness a bit.

Next up it was time to paint the flowers and vines.  I first drew the basic shapes on with a pencil and then went over them with a thinline paintbrush.

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The original outline with paint looked like crap (as you can see above). It was all splotchy and uneven and I must admit I had a bit of a freakout moment, but once I started filling the shapes in and smoothing out the lines it began to look a lot better.

It took about three coats of white paint to get an opacity that I was happy with, then I propped it up to take a look and it brought a smile to my face.  Man it looked good!

Mirror DIY

I thought for a moment about just leaving it like this, but then I decided to go ahead and paint on the gold accents like I had originally planned.

Here’s a shot of how the corners turned out…

Mirror DIY

And how the center’s turned out…

Mirror DIY

I wasn’t 100% pleased with how the gold additions turned out.  They ended up being a little chunkier than I wanted, especially in the large central flowers, but overall I’m still loving the look!

So what do you think?  How did I do?

Mirror DIY

Supplies-Used

1 Can indoor/outdoor spray paint
White acrylic paint
Gold acrylic paint
Thin paintbrush (for outlining)
Thicker paintbrush (for filling in)
Pencil
Old newspapers
Masking tape

total-cost

Because I already had most of the supplies, including the mirror, the only item I had to buy was the spray paint, bringing the cost of this project to the whopping total of $3.75!  That is quite a win if I do say so myself.


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Little Miss Wedding Photographer

I never planned on becoming that type of photographer.  You know, the type of photographer who has like 2-3 shoots and week and who posts pictures of happy couples and glamorous weddings online with a fancy little watermark in the corner.

Instead I’ve always considered myself a photojournalist.  The type of photographer with a passion for telling the stories of the people and places I visit, in a raw, National Geographic-esq type of photography.  I don’t know how to pose people and the concept of doumenting someones important memories terrified me.  I mean, what if I didn’t get the right shots?  It’s not like we can go back and do the wedding all over again….

Yet when my friend MB asked if I would be willing to photograph her wedding in August my brain must have shut off because I said yes.  And then I could only think why did I say yes?  Instead of freaking out I tried to find the positive aspects of the situation.  I mean my friend was taking a chance on me, someone with zero wedding experience, and you never know it might come in handy in a portfolio one day…

So on the wedding day I showed up at the location, camera and lenses ready to go.

August 4, 2012 was both a perfect day for a wedding and the worst day for a wedding.  The pro was it wasn’t raining, which, in Seattle you can never bank on and those who plan outdoor weddings are brave souls indeed!  But it was also the hottest day of the year.  Seriously, I was in a pool of sweat in 5 minutes, and so was the bride!

In the end, despite the heat, and some issues with sun spots shining through the trees, I think the pictures turned out well!  It helped to have an incredibly photogenic and fun couple.  I was also lucky her wedding was when it was, because the next week my wide-angle lens reached a state of brokenness that there is no returning from!

Below are some of my favorite shots out of the hundreds from the day.  I spent weeks editing and trying out different effects, and in the end I’m happy (…although the first one did get cropped awkwardly…)!

Who would have thought?  I got through it, I didn’t die and the pictures actually turned out well!  Who knows, maybe I’ll shoot some more weddings in the future…

For now though, God has blessed me with so many photography/portrait opportunities in the last few weeks I’m home.  I did some senior pictures last weekend and I’ve got shoots lined up both weekends before I leave.  I feel like I need to point out that these were not opportunities I necessarily pursued, but they’re opportunities God gave to me, and I’m so grateful and excited!  Who knows, my portfolio is building up and maybe people in Bolivia will need portraits too!

More pics from these future shots and the senior pics shoot to come before I leave!


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Sandblast!

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!


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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.

Leavenworth

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.

Loon

Lake

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.

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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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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!

Bremerton

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.

Seattle

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.